|THE TRUTH SHALL SET YOU FREE|
|Tuesday, 08 May 2012 06:00|
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France just voted Conservative President Sarkozy (champion of EU-sanctioned austerity measures) out of office, so I predict things are about to get interesting in European markets. No big surprise. People naturally dislike austerity measures-- it's usually a conspicuous lack of austerity that gets them into bad financial situations in the first place. Given a choice, people will ALWAYS choose to spend more than they can pay back, because "overspending" is "fun" whereas "paying the tab" tends to "suck." The fact that people typically vote themselves bread and circuses rather than practicing fiscal responsibility is the most annoying limit of democracy. If people are given the power to vote for whatever they like, expect them to do it... even if those things are impractical, contradictory, or impossible.
Try it sometime: get everybody in a circle. Who votes for a balanced budget? Everyone! Who votes that we spend more on our children's future? Everyone! Who votes that we spend more to help the poor and homeless? Everyone! Who votes that we have the most powerful military in the world to defend us from enemies? Everyone! So... who votes for everyone to be given everything they ever wanted? Everyone, that's who. Which may briefly give voters the warm fuzzies, but isn't much in the way of a plan. It doesn't answer hard questions like "What's more important, and why?" and "What do we do when the money runs out?" The European Union has some tough choices to make. Hopefully France's new socialist President will be the ineffectual bullshit artist France needs, not the ineffectual bullshit artist France deserves.
I've lately seen the word "socialism" tossed around a lot, misconstrued to the point where I find myself quoting Mandy Patinkin in The Princess Bride: "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." For the record: Socialism is an economic system in which the means of production, distribution, and exchange are completely controlled or owned by the state. In a truly socialist economy, private ownership of business wouldn't even be allowed. I don't support socialism as a general rule, since I personally feel it fails to address certain inescapable aspects of human nature. But let's use the word correctly, not just as a convenient replacement for our parents' favorite scary word "communism." I see little evidence that the rabidly-capitalist USA is moving toward socialism, despite any potential mandate for citizens to buy health insurance. Big deal. Most states already require drivers to buy car insurance. What's the difference? I suspect the REAL problem most opponents of the current healthcare reform strategy have with it is that it wasn't sponsored by their team. That kind of flagrant partisan doublethink seriously pisses me off. It's frustrating that right now, in democracies all over the world, two-party systems like ours stand deadlocked while the economy teeters on the brink of the abyss.
"There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution."
--John Adams, 1780