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Monday Message Board

May 8th, 2017

Another Monday Message Board. Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please.

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  1. Smith
    May 8th, 2017 at 14:16 | #1

    Felicitations to the French for flaying the fascist.

  2. Ikonoclast
    May 9th, 2017 at 06:08 | #2

    Of course they could not sensibly elect a fascist. But instead they elect a millionaire banker! Macron is the darling of the elite. Nothing will change. France and the EU will continue down their disastrous neoliberal capitalist path.

  3. Smith
    May 9th, 2017 at 13:50 | #3

    @Ikonoclast

    Apart from being a graduate of Sciences Po and ENA, and formerly being an inspecteur des finances, investment banker with Rothschilds, and a Hollande government minister, there’s nothing elite about Macron. Will anything change? Probably not. But since all other serious candidates were promising to change things for the worse, changing nothing is not a bad outcome.

  4. Ernestine Gross
    May 9th, 2017 at 16:05 | #4

    @Ikonoclast

    You are making a lot of (wrong) assumptions about Macron, France and the EU (and the Eurozone countries).

    Macron’s undergraduate degree is in Philosophy. He is a graduate of the postgraduate school of public administration (not easy to get in). He is the son of a GP (mother) and a medical specialist (father). He worked in the French government as a senior public servant in Finance and was Economics Minister under the socialist government of Hollande and he worked as an investment banker at Rothschilds for a short period. He is married to a woman about 24 years older than him. He says he is neither ‘left’ nor ‘right’ on the political spectrum but in the center. In European newspapers this center position is interpreted as ‘social market economy’ or social democracy. Given his explicit concern about global warming and other environmental issues, ‘ecological social market economy’ is perhaps another label one could attach. But these labels aren’t very helpful. Policy directions and details is what matters. His statement on the French-Algerian war is perhaps outdone by Keating’s Redfern speech, perhaps not. Hard for me to tell. But publicly recognising wrongs done by colonial powers is hardly a sign of lack of moral compass or courage, particularly at a time when the National Front in France is stirring.

    As for Europe, Macron isn’t going to please Nigal Forage, some politicians in Poland and Hungary,
    and PM May pretends Macron isn’t pro EU and pro Euro.

    As for North America – no news from Mexico as yet but the Canadian PM is keen to meet the new French President.

    Late 20th century neoliberalism in its pure form is an Anglo-Saxon phenomenon.

    Phrases like – ‘becoming more business friendly’ have very different meanings in various countries. If you were to have experience with the French bureaucracy you would understand very quickly that the said phrase doesn’t necessarily imply corporate tax cuts.

    As for ‘elite’ – would you really prefer to have a President or Prime Minister who is an imbecile?

  5. May 9th, 2017 at 17:48 | #5

    Quite right Ikono … He is pushing tax cuts, and the French equivalent of work choices. He wants an EU finance minister. Bankers rule OK.

  6. May 9th, 2017 at 17:49 | #6

    @Smith

    Mélenchon was offering a break from neoliberalism to the left. He was the obvious candidate to support, IMO.

  7. May 10th, 2017 at 00:56 | #7

    Thanks for the summary EG. His attitude to the Algerian War of Indepencence may prove significant, given recent events in France. The parliamentary elections, due on 11 and 18 June, will be decisive for Marcon’s presidency.

  8. Greg McKenzie
    May 10th, 2017 at 08:28 | #8

    It’s his economic bias that worries me the most. The Euro Zone needs urgent reform, if it is to overcome massively high youth unemployment. Without that reform, a whole generation of young Europeans will be lost to radicalism and poverty. Thomas Piketty said, of The new president’s economic advisors, that they lacked vision and proposed unimpressive policies. As the leading economist in France, Piketty has sounded a warning that time is running out for his country. It was once a powerhouse of Europe. But, without urgent action, France will become yet another basket case. So sad if this happens.

  9. Luke Elford
    May 10th, 2017 at 08:34 | #9

    Economically distressed white “working class” voters were more likely to vote for Clinton, not Trump (although the result is only marginally statistically significant):

    https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/05/white-working-class-trump-cultural-anxiety/525771/

    “In the wake of Trump’s surprise win, some journalists, scholars, and political strategists argued that economic anxiety drove these Americans to Trump. But new analysis of post-election survey data conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute and The Atlantic found something different: Evidence suggests financially troubled voters in the white working class were more likely to prefer Clinton over Trump. Besides partisan affiliation, it was cultural anxiety—feeling like a stranger in America, supporting the deportation of immigrants, and hesitating about educational investment—that best predicted support for Trump.

    “…When these voters hear messages from their president, they’re listening with ears attuned to cultural change and anxiety about America’s multicultural future. It would be a mistake to use this insight to create yet another caricature of the Trump voter. But perhaps it will complicate the stereotypes about destitute factory landscapes and poor folks who had nowhere to turn but right.”

    In other words, they’re not going to abandon him no matter how much he screws them economically.

    These points, from the study itself, were particularly interesting:

    “White working-class voters who experienced a loss of social and economic standing were not any more likely [to] favor Trump than those whose status remained the same or improved.”

    “A majority (55%) of white working-class Americans in fair or poor shape say Trump does not understand the problems facing their communities well.”

    In other words, support for Trump’s identity politics does not have a root cause in economic stagnation and those who have been left behind do not think that they will find a solution in Trumpism.

    On the other hand, religion (in particular, religious attendance and evangelicalism) was not a statistically significant predictor of support for Trump.

    All of this suggests that the Clinton campaign was right to fatalistically accept the loss of white “working class” support—which could never be retained without alienating the Democratic base of non-whites, students, feminists, gays, etc.—and court “decent” Republicans, even if this meant downplaying policy and eschewing more progressive economic and social reforms. The problem faced by Clinton, and future Democratic campaigns, is that this is a near-empty set.

  10. Ernestine Gross
    May 10th, 2017 at 09:24 | #10

    None of the Euro Zone countries are dictatorships or at risk of becoming dictatorships (left or right). Hence any reform of the institutional arrangements of the Euro Zone and its relationship to non-Euro Zone but EU countries and associate members will be the outcome of negotiations. Neither Macron nor Merkel (or Schulz) will dictate to the others. To illustrate by means of a non-economic example, other EU and non-EU countries copied the idea of the Netherland’s satirical video message to President Trump.

    Macron’s election is a clear signal that the many and prolonged attempts from various directions (proverbial wall street bankers, nationalists, …, propagandists, …, dictators, …, wannabe dictators, …, imbeciles) to divide and rule Europe have failed.

  11. John Quiggin
    May 10th, 2017 at 09:43 | #11

    General point: Readers should be aware that in the US political context “working class” means “not college educated”.

    Luke: I think this is a mistake. The Clinton campaign showed that there weren’t any “decent Republicans”. Nearly all self-described Republicans went for Trump.

    What was needed was a campaign directed at the relatively small group of genuinely working class voters who were fooled by Trump or who didn’t bother voting because they saw them both as Wall Street stooges.

  12. Smith
    May 10th, 2017 at 10:36 | #12

    @Ernestine Gross

    “Macron’s election is a clear signal that the many and prolonged attempts from various directions … to divide and rule Europe have failed.”

    Failed on this occasion, in any case. On the other hand, they worked spectacularly well with Brexit. The score is 1-1, and the game has a long way to go.

  13. Ernestine Gross
    May 10th, 2017 at 11:10 | #13

    @Smith

    ‘This occasion’ is only one of many where rightwing nationalism didn’t work. The election outcome in the Netherlands and Austria should be mentioned, too. In Germany, the AfD is on the wane if polls can be believed (from 15% to 7% during the last 6 months). The election outcomes of Spain and Italy indicate that left wing nationalism isn’t popular either. The UK, while being among the ‘larger’ EU countries, in terms of population and GDP, has never been member of the Euro Zone countries nor a founding member of the predecessor of the EU. Hence a score of 1:1 is not meaningful.

  14. Ronald B
    May 10th, 2017 at 11:10 | #14

    The good news is, what is left of the European Union is now so economically integrated a currency union could be practical within a decade.

  15. Smith
    May 10th, 2017 at 11:12 | #15

    Peta Credlin says the tax-and-spend budget “beggars belief”. Accepting for the sake or argument that the budget is what she says it is, I don’t know why she should be surprised. Ever since Turnbull became PM she has been saying he is closet-Labor, not a true Liberal, etc etc etc. The budget is exactly what she should have expected, based on her own commentary.

    On the other hand, she (and the rest of the News Ltd and Sky News gang) might have expected differently from Morrison and Cormann, especially Cormann, given his long and to date uninterrupted record of pro-austerity, small government, rhetoric, his lecturing about Labor’s “debt and deficit” disaster, and so on. It will be amusing to hear the Belgian Waffle try to explain away this roaring inconsistency, but no doubt he’ll get it a red hot go.

    Of course we shouldn’t really expect politicians to be consistent. Look no further than the internationalist turned new nativist, Bill Shorten.

  16. Luke Elford
    May 10th, 2017 at 16:30 | #16

    @John Quiggin

    I’m pretty sceptical that many Trump voters were unwillingly hoodwinked, and even more so that they could be dissuaded from voting for him through rational argument rather than an alternative, and equally shameless and shameful, demagoguery. The strongest case against the idea that Trump and congressional Republicans would govern in the interests of poor whites was made by…everything they’ve ever done, and it wasn’t enough.

    As for turning out supporters, a large reduction in turnout amongst African Americans is one of the various factors which, had it been averted, would have tipped the election.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2017/05/08/why-did-trump-win-more-whites-and-fewer-blacks-than-normal-actually-voted/?utm_term=.bbace1f6f22a

    Remobilising this part of the Democratic base would be a good start.

  17. Donald Oats
    May 10th, 2017 at 17:25 | #17

    Drug tests for unemployed people. That is a new low. How about testing our ministers with a breath test when they shamble into the parliament after a big lunch? Nope, didn’t think so.

    At every turn, this LNP mob are determined to remind unemployed suckers that they have no control, that they are leeches, they are leaners, they are the unclean of society. I suppose the the drug tests will be administered by someone’s mates, as a private enterprise that makes a big fat profit from the taxes that the rest of us pay, from time to time.

    There are plenty of cases where the drug testing company has been found deficient in its testing capacity, generating too many false-positives; couple that with a bureaucracy that assumes a positive drug test is 100% reliable information, and the alleged drug user has little to no recourse. Obviously it is in the government’s interests that the false-positive rate be high, for it gives them yet another reason to cut off welfare support payments to unemployed people.

    I recently spent five months trying to get a health care card through Centrelink, and the experience was scarifying. If that’s what it took to get a simple paper card, I cannot imagine the complexities of dealing with unemployment support from Centrelink. There are so many deficiencies within the agency itself, instead of spending cash on drug testing unemployed people, that money for drug testing would be far better spent on improving Centrelink’s response times on the help desk, and on actually assisting people in the search for work, rather than slamming them for every (alleged) transgression.

    God help anyone who needs disability support; will they find themselves being drug tested as well? Or given random disability testing, to see if they are still disabled? FFS.
    The entire thing is punitive. It takes a very particular mind set to go down this path.

  18. Smith
    May 11th, 2017 at 10:28 | #18

    Is there any doubt that the banks made a boo boo in appointing Anna Bligh as their lobbyist-in-chief? Of course the government might have thinking about to slapping a new tax on them anyway, since banks are as popular as pedophiles, and the government needs the money. But if it was a close decision, then the politics of tribal vengeance would have sealed the deal, especially since Bligh beat one of Morrison’ staffers for the job.

  19. Ikonoclast
    May 12th, 2017 at 18:05 | #19

    @Donald Oats

    I absolutely agree with everything you say there. It is such bad social policy at so many levels. Wasteful, punitive and worse than useless. It will do real harm and cause more real alienation. Really, if they wanted to push people into crime they could not come up with a more effective policy. What do people do when they have no way to live? I guess they turn to charity, crime or revolution. Revolution. Now there’s a thought. How I wish the unemployed would create an organized unemployed army and march like a (peaceful) army using Gandhian philosophy and tactics. It would scare the sh** out of the Tories. It might actually lead to positive change. It seems nothing else will cause change under the neoliberals.

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