Bleeding Heart Lefty

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A non-automotive post. Attempt #4. Yes, I’ve been trying to write this one for a while.

I am a bleeding heart lefty.

I didn’t grow up political at all. I first noticed my political interest around the turn of the century, at 30 years of age, while observing the campaign for the 2000 US Presidential election. We’ve always had plenty of US news here in Australia, even before the internet age. I grew up in the 1980’s with Reagan and Gorby arguing over nukes. I largely ignored the first Bush Presidency, had fun with Slick Willie but was ultimately disturbed in 2000 when the US elected a President that preferred to mosey rather than walk.

I watched this President take a truly sad occasion in 9/11, make a fully justifiable decision to chase the perpetrators in Afghanistan and then make a totally unjustifiable decision to follow that with a conflict in Iraq that wasted nearly criminal amounts of time, money and lives. That was my first real exposure to the conservative ‘hawk’ view of defence and I thought it was irrational.

Four years before George W. Bush was elected, Australia chose to end the era of possibly the greatest Prime Minister of my lifetime, Paul Keating (if you don’t admire him for his reform work, at least admit he was the most entertaining PM we’ve had). They replaced him with a conservative Prime Minister, John Howard, who wasn’t universally liked on a personal level but who did more than just one or two things that were worthy of commendation (gun laws, Bali bombing response, GST implementation).

On the bad side, however, he also noticed the raw nerve touched by Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party and (after he’d eradicated her) capitalised on it by starting the modern hard-line policy on immigration that still divides Australia today. Moreover, he used some questionable tactics (Tampa, and Children Overboard) to try and push his case and create fear in the community. The legacy is ongoing.

The Howard era also saw a lot of government owned assets and businesses sold off to private enterprise. Some of those asset sales were fair. Others became businesses that IMHO provide worse service than what they did when they didn’t have a shareholder profit motive.

Gifted with a majority in both houses in his final term, he went after worker’s rights in a big way with a labour package called Workchoices, which started the three-year decline that eventually saw him kicked out of power.

It’s those last few points that really irk me and perhaps gave best impetus to my own individual stance.

I come from a working class family that managed to work its way up to the middle class by virtue of both my parents working full-time in an era when having a full-time working mother was unusual. We never felt deprived of anything and my parents worked hard enough to send me to a private school for my secondary education. But from the kids I met there, I knew we weren’t rich.

One of my generation, an older cousin, was the first person in our family ever to attend university. Prior to that, it was simply never thought of as a realistic career path for us. My parents’ generation within my family were all manual workers and/or tradespeople. Their friends, their siblings and their kids – my cousins – were nearly all workers. Few worked for themselves. Most worked for someone else, therefore having to take the wages and conditions that were offered to them.

I applaud people who can start their own business. I applaud them for having the drive to establish the business, the people skills to befriend and serve their customers and the smarts to build it in such away as to make it profitable.

That’s not everyone, though. The world’s full of all sorts of people.

Some people have amazing skills in a certain area but no promotional skills to market them. They don’t have the ‘connections’ because they didn’t go to the right school, or they have awkward social skills and find it hard to build those connections.

Some people have little, or no, access to capital.

Some people don’t have any particular skills but are willing and capable workers.

Some people don’t have any particular skill except congeniality (and maybe an inheritance to go with it). They seem to make it regardless of their lack of skills simply because they have connections, and they know how to get along.

And yes, some people are slack arses and do little to help themselves.

When you come from a working class background, those roots tend to stay with you regardless of any success you’ve had in your own life. I was fortunate enough that my working class parents sent me to a private school. I eventually went to university and then got a post-grad qualification in my field. I worked a few different jobs before starting with my current employer, where I’ve had a few promotions and a near-doubling of my salary over my 10 years with them.

I’ve never felt secure in my employment, however, despite doing a good job working for what is supposedly the most secure employer in Tasmania. I still feel that same vulnerability that I’m sure other members of my family have felt during their lifetime. My job is a prime candidate for outsourcing. I know from having done this job in both private enterprise and public service that outsourcing my position won’t lead to a quality result for the clients I service. And yet I know that outsourcing is a real possibility purely out of political philosophy and the perceived need to improve a budget bottom line (which will be a false improvement because the outsourcing will still cost a lot and the service will be a lot worse as a result).

People tend to do a much better job, they tend to be much more productive, when good work is recognised and not threatened by what amounts to nothing more than pure ideology.

——

I believe that we’re stronger as a country if the weakest amongst us have a safety net that provides them with a position to launch from. I believe in competition and the basic tenets of the capitalist economic system, but I don’t believe in a dog-eat-dog competitive society.

I believe in hard work and reward for those who can do great things. I believe in incentive. I also believe in support and society agreeing on the right base-level start that we can give kids through education so that they can build the skills they need to do great things.

I believe parents should take responsibility for their kids. I get frustrated when I see that the fastest growing area of a school is its breakfast program.

I believe in strong state institutions – where appropriate – where the people have a collective say over the preservation of the commons. My approach as a car enthusiast who buys and sells a bit is that we never really own a car. We simply buy the right to enjoy it and preserve it for the next owner. We should take the same approach with the planet we live on because we have to hand it over to someone else, someone that we supposedly love. It should be in the best condition possible.

I don’t believe in privatising everything. Sometimes the market doesn’t get it right. We should preserve public enterprises that provide essential services (and sometimes even goods) to more remote areas. We should be wary of building mega-cities simply in order to preserve market viability. That might support a few fat bank accounts, but it doesn’t necessarily support people’s lives.

I believe that tax isn’t the bad thing that many people make it out to be. I think the misuse of tax is a bad thing. I believe that those who are crazy rich can bear a bigger proportional burden without losing their incentive to work – as long as taxes are used wisely.

I believe we need a proper, no-holds barred conversation about taxation. Hopefully someone will have the political courage to advance that in the next few years.

I believe in the enriching, healing, community-building power of the arts.

I believe in climate change and man’s contribution to it. I believe that first-world countries should play a major role in tackling it and that a market mechanism is the best way to do this. We should have a price on carbon. In my opinion, our current government’s non-stance on this issue is best summed up here – it’s shameful, it’s selfish, it’s impractical and if it’s promoted around the world then it’s going to make the world a much tougher place for future generations.

I agree that we need to stop people trying to take dangerous journeys by sea to get to Australia and seek asylum. I don’t have a solution, but I don’t believe that we’re handling it properly at the moment.

I believe in the benefits of a multi-cultural society and I think we should increase our migrant intake with the dual goal of accepting more skilled migrants, as well as assisting more people in hardship to improve their lives (eg. those asylum seekers).

I believe that employees should have the right to organise and bargain collectively for their pay and conditions. I firmly believe that the union movement shouldn’t shoot it’s people in the foot by making outrageous claims or abusing its position, but the victories won by the union movement are a big part of why societies and economies even have a middle class to fire the engines up in the first place.

I believe that our future lies with Asia, not with the US, despite our friendship and cultural similarities. All relationships are important, so don’t shit on the ones that will count the most in the future. I don’t think we should bug the governments of tiny nations in order to cheat them on resource deals and I don’t think we should break into the offices of their lawyers and steal their confidential documents.

I believe in transparent, accountable government. Our current government’s silence on some issues and armour-plated spin on others is not only a broken promise, it’s also anti-democratic.

I love the ABC, our government-funded, non-commercial broadcaster. The ABC enriches the lives of all Australians from kids to their parents and grandparents. It provides fearless, honest coverage including news and opinion on events both here and abroad. The ABC is not and should not be a cheerleader for anyone.

I’ve written before about our Mushroom Democracy and the media has a large part to play in this. The ABC is more important now than ever because of the dominance of Rupert Murdoch’s news outlets in this country, and Murdoch’s single-minded agenda to support the conservative line on every single issue. Murdoch’s news assets, both in print and on digital platforms, have succeeded in turning a large part of the Australian population into goldfish when it comes to matters of social importance. The shorter our attention span, the better. The more hysterical the confected outrage, the better.

I’m happy to support the ABC with my taxes, I support Fairfax Media with a digital subscription and I’m pleased as punch that the Guardian has an Australian service now, too. If the only place you look for news is in your capital city’s NewsCorp paper, please continue to read that (I read Rupert’s The Australian, too, because I believe in balance), but please also lift your eyes beyond those pages and expand your reading to other places.

Our current federal government, elected late in 2013, spent several years in opposition building a very successful obsession over debt and deficit. They screamed at the top of their lungs about governments producing an economic surplus (right up to the point when they won the election and were given responsibility for delivering one).

What got lost in the screaming match – and the Labor party (the left) can blame themselves for this one – is that there are times when it’s economically irresponsible to pursue a surplus. Maintaining balance over the long term is, indeed, very important. But “living within your means” in times of economic crisis doesn’t necessarily mean revenue > expenditure for the current fiscal year. It means living within your capacity to repay debt as and when it falls due. If you can improve the economic outcome for your country by borrowing within your capacity to repay, then it’s irresponsible to forego this in pursuit of a surplus at any cost. Sadly, because of that goldfish mentality we’re developing, more people tend to respond to the shock headline over borrowing instead of considering the real, long term position.

——

I’m a big fan of team sport. I’d rather watch a game of football than a game of golf or tennis – any day of the week. I value individual skill and marvel at what some individuals can do, but I’ve always thought that the best achievements are those achieved by teams (and let’s face it, even supremely talented individual athletes in the modern age need a team of coaches and doctors around them in order to succeed).

I place the highest value on individual freedom, on freedom of choice, freedom of speech, freedom to enjoy one’s own religion (or lack thereof), sexuality, etc. I place the highest possible value on the principles of democracy, even though sometimes I think the majority get it wrong.

But I believe we’re all better off when those individuals are capable of coming together and achieving something as a team. I think more people care about team achievements than individual achievements and I’m quite sure that they celebrate them harder. I think people support each other better in teams. They care about each other more. They care about being successful together.

There’s room for stars within teams and those stars should be recognised and rewarded accordingly. But even those stars will know that they couldn’t do everything on their own. For every Michael Jordan, there’s a Scotty Pippen and a John Paxson. For every LeBron James there’s a Chris Bosh, a Dwayne Wade and a Shane Battier.

Doing more by doing things together isn’t communism. It’s common sense. It doesn’t impinge on anyone’s freedom because people are free to join the team or to toil on their own. I just think we’re better off if we have a team mentality and for me, the values of the left provide that mentality.

I’m a bleeding heart lefty. That might irk some of my friends and family members, but I’m OK with that. There’s a good chance I think you’re an idiot, too 🙂

I still love you, though.

——

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33 Comments

  1. Swade

    You have a gift and I am glad you bestow it on us that follow you. I found you from the old Trollhattan Saab days. I have made the odd contribution when you have asked and would again if you asked again. Nicely written piece. I am not a liberal of any sort and even voted for the Mosey president and his dad. W turned out to be a pox on America and I deeply regret that vote. As I have aged (I am about 10 years ahead of you), I have become more liberal (but can’t quite make the leap to that of the American Democratic party). I don’t agree with all of your positions but I admire the passion and conviction. You have the makings of a credible statesman. If you wondered whether your audience would stay with you through the non-automotive stuff, count on at least one reader. I have been to Australia every year for the past 4 years and travelled pretty extensively there. I have begun to get a sense of the politics and the regional differences. As an American that visits, I find that I liked the past administrations better than the one you have now. This, despite my leanings to the conservative bent of politics.

    Great read, it really helps to see the world and your part of it through another pair of eyes that belong to someone whom I have grown to respect.

    1. Thanks for the thoughts, Trip. Thanks even more for the respectful manner in which you expressed them.

      This can be a passionate area and part of the reason I had to put some time into this post is because of the attitudes and behaviours of our new government. I wish I could switch off this stuff all together, but I can’t.

      I don’t expect many to share what I think and I do agree with a lot of positions of the right (personal responsibility, law and justice, etc). Hey, if we were all the same it’d be a boring world.

  2. I admire your willingness to divulge (eloquently, of course, as we have come to expect) your political perspective in such detail. I just can’t do the same. Not sure why, just can’t do it.

    1. It’s funny, Pierre, but we all believe what we believe, but sometimes we don’t know why. It’s just gut instinct.

      As noted at the top of the piece, this was my fourth attempt at writing it down and it’s taken a few months and three failed attempts to get an account that I was happy to publish. It’s still too long-winded, but thankfully I don’t have an editor imposing a word limit on me 🙂

    2. I certainly second Pierre’s compliment of your writing. Very clearly put.

      Pierre: I encourage you to write your views on what you believe to be the right course, even if just in bullet form. I found that it made me consider if those ideas were my own or ideas that I accepted as part of a ‘package’.

  3. Great piece Swade, but as someone who shares most of your views I suppose I would say that!

    My view is simple – a society where people are willing to take the time and effort to help one another is the one I want to live in. Conservative politics of the kind we’re seeing in Australia today seem to be espousing the polar opposite, an “us vs them” mentality that speaks to some, but which sends chills down the spines of many of us.

    I’m rational and see where we need to be a hard, and where we can’t possibly “fix” things, but I think within our own society we can certainly afford to give everyone the Australian “fair go” through education, financial support and by building a fundamentally decent society that’s not all about self.

  4. Wonderfully written Steve,
    Agree with most you have written but can’t agree about Paul Keating and the recession we had to have. As I am roughly twenty years older than you and had to bear housing interest rates of up to 22% while raising a young family you will understand my position.
    My wife Jenny and I established a business which took some time to become profitable, forcing us to sell our house to raise capital. This was a short sighted view of the bank as we were proftable within twelve months and didn’t need their ‘help’ again.
    You call yourself a bleeding leftie, our views are very similar , yet I don’t think of myself as a leftie , a small ‘l’ liberal in the mould of Malcolm Fraser and Dick Hamer.
    On another note, your writting has improved, having followed you since Trollhattan days. Keep up the good work and you may end up with Fairfax or the Guardian.
    Cheers.

    1. I used the Bleeding Heart Lefty tag because that seems to be the default tag given by the Tea Party jingoists on the extreme right. Truth be told, I’m much more centre-left, which hopefully came through in the piece (but should have been more obvious).

    2. Forgot to mention that unfortunately Australian politics has taken a hugh swing to the right and it will take years for the pendulum even to return to the centre. Abbott is leading from the front, followed closely by Kevin Andrews and that embarassment to the name’Christopher’ Pyne.

  5. I agree with you on taxes and the arts, and if we talked long enough, we’d agree on many other things. I think that in many (most?) social policies the difference in opinion is only a matter of degree.

    I’ve come to abhor the ‘liberal vs. conservative’ binary bickering. Nothing changes; few people really negotiate in good faith. I can’t ever see myself as a liberal (although I am certifiably liberal on education, humanitarian aid and possibly the arts), but I’m put off by some of the pat package that comes with ‘conservative’. For something as important as governing our nation I get to pick from two prix fixe menus and that’s it?

    Why should I have only two choices? That continues to make no sense to me. I hate the way we choose our government in the US, and I hate even more the way that we choose our president. The winner in s can say virtually nothing of real importance or truth and be elected if the ONE challenger is a little more flawed in platform or appearance. He just has to be less bad than the other guy.

    Finally, I think that most ‘liberals’ and ‘conservatives’ would agree on the GOAL, but they disagree on the way to get there. So, now I try to start from the goal and work backward rather than snipe back-and-forth about the plan and thus continue the rhetoric that got a great deal of us into this mess in the first place. It simply isn’t working.

    One final thing: I know that Australia has good and bad, just like the US. But the next time that you’re tempted to pass judgement on a US policy or leader, think about this: we have ten fold the number of people and thus ten times the number of messes to clean up and ten times the number of reasons to celebrate. Both give us a bad name.

  6. One other thing about taxes: I strongly dislike our taxation SYSTEM in the US. I agree with the statement “Taxes are what we pay for a civilized society.” Therefore I don’t begrudge taxes. I DO chafe at the complexity of our taxation system, the attendant cost and the social engineering that’s embedded. Tax everyone at a simple fixed or graduated rate and be done with it. Why should marriage, home ownership or type of business make any difference?

    1. Ah yes, “Taxes are what we pay for a civilized society.” That quote from Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendall Holmes (a dissenting opinion in a 1927 case) is a U.S. liberal favorite. 🙂

      There is an oft-forgotten corollary to that quote: “The power to tax involves the power to destroy.” (John Marshall, Chief Justice U.S. Supreme Court, 1819)

      How to resolve these seemingly polar opposite points of view? By recognizing that taxes are a necessary evil, but being necessary does not make them less evil. Therefore the idea in the U.S. was to hold taxation to the minimum necessary to fund the lawful operation of government. (That is, some evils are unavoidable but we contain and restrict them to prevent them from getting out of control and going on a destructive rampage.)

      The current system is clearly an abomination no matter how you cut it or which “side” you are on.

      1. Yes, agreed. Even though Holmes gets the credit because he wrote it in a decision, there are documented examples going back many years before. It’s a good thing to think about.

    2. Spot-on on the tax issue…there absolutely should be a “flat tax” in the US…but until ALL lobbying activities are banned from EVERY form of government, from the most local of elections, right up and including the Presidential elections…very little if anything will ever change on the tax issue…or anything else in the government for that matter.

      ALL elections should be publically financed. No candidate should be allowed to take one penny from ANYONE…or ANY ORGANIZATION. All of the media outlets, be they TV, radio, print, or online, should be required to allot equal amounts of space for candidates to put forth their views…FOR FREE.

      There has long been, and will continue to be, an incestuous relationship between government officials, and lobbying groups. A revolving door that has spun out of control.

      People buying influence for other people, who have obscene amounts of money to throw around. And it involves ALL the political parties. There is no difference between the two “major” parties in the US, or any other smaller splinter off-shoot(s) of them. Even the so-called “Independents” are beholding to lobbyists.

      It has sickened my to death, and turned me off completely to the process.

      Candidates will stand up and pontificate on how wonderful and righteous THEY are, while tearing down their opponents with falsehoods and outright lies. They will tell the assembled masses/party faithful exactly what THEY think those people want to hear, so they can win an election, and once in office, go on their merry way with instant amnesia about what got them elected.

      I have voted for Republicans and Democrats over the past 45 years, because I didn’t care about party affiliations. I voted for Obama in 2008, because I really thought he meant what he said when he told everyone there would be “change” with him in office. I was just one more voter who was hood-winked by another lying sack of poo politician.

      Change? What change? The only thing that changed were the monograms on the tea towels.

      All we got was 4…now 8…more years of Bush II. But you can’t blame me for his latest term in office. I refused to take part in 2012.

      As Ari Fleischer put it a while ago…”“Drone strikes. Wiretaps. Gitmo. Renditions. Military commissions. Obama is carrying out Bush’s fourth term (edit me: now fifth), yet he attacked Bush for violating the Constitution,” said Ari Fleischer, George W. Bush’s press secretary.”

      http://www.politico.com/story/2013/06/nsa-phone-records-obama-george-bush-92352.html

      So now, what do we have in Washington, DC? Politicians who care NOTHING about the greater good of the country. Their only concern is getting re-elected, and getting donations to their re-election campaign funds, from organizations who want their agendas brought to the fore in Washington.

      The political system in the US is an utter disgrace, along with all of the participants in it.

        1. Yes. From macroeconomics 101, a flat tax is essentially a regressive tax. It’s pretty universally recognized that one needs a progressive tax system (ie the rate increases to some degree with income). How much, well, that is a political discussion… but a much simpler tax system that builds in a safety net is a progressive tax rate with an intercept at the poverty line, so those below it obtain a negative tax. There is no reason this stuff need not be simple like that, except that the system is designed to preserve the jobs of the bureaucrats who design it! And this is coming from someone with a libertarian bias (generally pretty central in my opinions though, not so extreme as many in the US)… it is important to reward entrepreneurship… but balance is important. We had that in Canada… not sure where things are going now. Like Australia, we have a more right biased government in there now, and they are not necessarily any better at managing finances… in some ways worse!

      1. Good thoughts. You wanna know something? I’ve voted in every election since the 1982 Mid-term congressional elections, and I’ve voted for a third-party candidate three times, most recently in the last election. I simply can’t buy into the fact that I have to choose between ObamaBush and Romney. That’s the best you can do?

        You’ve alluded to the dirtiest secret of all in our system: the two parties are 80% alike in how they govern, and they make huge claims about the 20% on which they disagree. Test for yourself. Name the government services that they do NOT talk about during the election and you’ll see virtually all of the stuff that people use/need daily. That boilerplate doesn’t change.

  7. Very well said. I share much of the same background you express. I have been lucky to be where I am in life and have not forgotten my roots. I contribute to charities and political candidates as my way of trying to keep my moderate liberal views being consumed the extreme and hateful in the States. The best we can do is encourage education as the term Fiat Lux — “Let There Be Light,” UC’s official motto. Bring light to the darkness of myth and magic.

  8. A well-written piece, though I am what most here would consider a radical right-winger and anti-government extremist. It is a label I wear with pride. (Frankly it is amazing to me that anyone in all good conscience would be in favor of giving governments ever more power. Any history book will confirm that there is little to love in the institution of the State, whose primary activities throughout the ages have consisted of corruption, theft, extortion, torture, and murder. But I digress…)

    I do take issue with the description of the U.S. Tea Party as ‘jingoist’ — they are not. The Tea Party is composed primarily of people who simply want to be left alone to live their lives in peace without an authoritarian central government dictating every facet of those lives down to the type of toilet they are permitted to buy. They expect government in the U.S. to obey the law and stay within what Thomas Jefferson described as “the chains of the Constitution.” The mass media and the American Left appear to see this as a potential threat to completing the instantiation of the Workers’ Paradise in the U.S., and thus have their Ministry of Truth working overtime with the smear campaign. Anyone who does not agree with the goals of the American Left here is continuously pummeled with accusations of being a hater, racist, etc. etc., ad nauseum.

    It is very instructive to talk to those who risked their lives to escape to the U.S. from behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War. They recognize full well what is happening here, and what the collectivism of the American Left truly represents once you peel back the thin veneer of civility — it is what George Orwell described as “a boot stamping on a human face — forever.”

    The problem with the high and noble sounding goals of the Left, of course, is the use of violence and coercion via the State to forcibly impose those values on their neighbors. Every act of government is an act of violence (actual or threatened). The founders of the U.S. understood this and thus sought to restrict the authority of the central government to a few key areas. (They so feared centralized authority that the first attempt at establishing a national government, the Articles of Confederation, was too weak to even prevent trade wars between the states.)

    Via the Constitution that replaced those Articles, the U.S. central government was designed to face primarily outward, dealing with international affairs as well as matters between the states rather than taking an active role in the lives of individual citizens. Unfortunately the government beast has long since escaped its captivity. (The unforgivable “crime” of the Tea Party is the desire to put that violent and destructive genie back in its bottle.)

    Regarding “Democracy” — note that the United States was not designed to be a democracy, it is a constitutional republic where the popular vote is supposed to be just one input into a system of checks and balances against the abuse of power.

    I don’t want to start an all-out idealogical war here or get into pissing contests, that’s not what this site is all about. I just thought that while Leftists are busy congratulating themselves some input from the “other side” should be heard.

    In closing, my only real complaint about the Tea Party is that in my eyes they are too far to the left. 🙂

    1. Jason, the problem for the powerful is that the state helps to protect the little guy. My job is constantly under attack because I tell powerful people that its NOT ok to kill, injure or destroy the health of their employees. Its sad that people are so easily fooled by by the powerful. Con men have made a living forever telling people what they want to hear and ripping them off.

  9. Not sure if is the same way in Australia, but here in the US it seems the primary system now can only produce candidates for each party that are on the far right or the far left. Those with the loudest voices (and money) dominate the primaries because so many Americans are turned off by (or choose to ignore) politics. So, while many (most?) Americans are likely somewhere to the right or left of center, candidates who are also there have a hard time getting traction as they cannot appeal to the “true believers” at both ends of the political spectrum. It seems the net effect is that many good potential candidates never choose to run because they just do not want to climb into the mud pit.

  10. Swade you are not a bleeding heart Liberal at all. It is simply that some very greedy and selfish people have misused and twisted some basic principles of the ‘right’ to enrich themselves and convince themselves that they are somehow more moral than others.

    1. Accusations of motive and assuming moral superiority resolve to arrogance on the part of the accuser. Check your rhetoric. I’ve made similar accusations in the past and wish that I could take them all back.

      As I’ve said before in this thread: liberals and conservatives generally have similar goals, it’s just that they disagree about the plan to get there. Specifically for your statements, I believe that everyone wants economic prosperity, but liberals want that to mean that everyone gets equal results from the economy today, while conservatives want corporations to be free enough to create growing and better results for everyone tomorrow. You can twist that however you like, but it’s generally fact.

      1. Eggs, I don’t talk in terms of Liberals and Conservatives because where I live those terms mean nothing, American politics is very different from UK politics and massively different from politics where I live in Northern Ireland where your vote is usually based on religion and sometimes you could be murdered for it.

        I hope you are criticising m post based on a perceived assumption that I am attacking the ‘right’ in general. Far from it. I could make similar statements about the left. Greedy people are greedy people and will use whatever political philosophy to enrich themselves. As I said the tragedy is when good people fall for it and make it their philosophy too (and I am thinking Soviet Russia as much as I think of the Tea Party).

        You state that ‘Liberals’ want equal results from the economy. Not really. I would like everyone to share in success. For example when my company started a bonus structure it was for managers only as was health care and sick pay. The people who MADE the product were given an hourly wage and that was it. What does that say about the owners of the company?
        You can make corporations free to grow and create wealth but unfortunately the wealth does not make it down to the foot soldiers anywhere I have ever worked, its not about getting equal results more about giving them some of the pie.

          1. eggs, I have been polite in every post, you in both of yours have attempted to play the man, not the ball. I wish you well but I really did think better of you.

            You disagree with my politics, fine. Perhaps rather than imply I am stupid (classic debate avoidance) you can demonstrate how deregulation has improved worker safety and driven up wages (I accept it can create jobs).

        1. 2 things… 1 is for Eggs – better not to think of the political spectrum as left and right but rather something more like the Nolan chart which separates the economic and social elements. The superficial binary approach taken by many the USA can a bit disturbing. Political beliefs more complex than that.

          Jon, I’m not at all a fan of unions etc but I’m not on the extreme of the political spectrum… What I’ve found (and maybe it is the difference between high tech and low tech industry) is that companies that treat employees well get the best employees, retain their employees, and therefore are more productive (and the employees have no interest in unions, no matter how hard the unions try to get in). Companies that don’t do this, lose their best employees and flop in the marketplace. In North America, most of the low tech companies that didn’t value their employees and ended up unionized, now ship their production offshore to other places that are not unionized… the exceptions being a few industries that are hard to move (eg automotive, for which there are robotics)… of course lots of tech has moved offshore also… replacing workers with machinery or outsourced labour is just a reflection of the job becoming sufficiently trivial that it’s time to find something better to do. So my point was that union activity does not necessarily make life better. It’s great when people are really being abused, but for the most part, people will move to other jobs where they are not taken advantage of… obviously if there is a scarcity of jobs, that may be more difficult. But imho, it is better to foster entrepreneurship (to create new better jobs) than to force existing companies to pay unsustainable wages for people to perform the same old tasks that machines could do… To me, it’s better to move on than whine and complain (which is what the unions do here, paid for by the workers). Things are not too bad around here I guess, so perhaps my opinions would be different if I lived elsewhere… but “elsewhere” could be made better too… Companies used to outsource to China because it was cheap and poor and desperate. Now there is much wealth in China from this and things will improve there. It is already becoming less cheap and more stuff is coming back. I’d never want to outsource there – too complicated and costly to manage, especially now as costs there escalate. But people in those countries do value the jobs: The crappy jobs of today bring wealth to start better jobs tomorrow…

          fwiw I have a mild libertarian bias, but I’m pretty central in the spectrum overall… I’ve been blasted for supporting Keynesian policies before (it just has to be done correctly, which it usually is not, but that is another whole can of worms!)… To me, balance is better than extremism.

          1. Snow, at any time here in the UK there are 2 million people who are not in work and it was never difficult to replace a low skilled employee (the ones who did not get bonuses). We were not a unionised plant so I have no idea how unions operate, thus I cannot comment on whether they are a good idea or not. I do know regulations protecting employees are a good idea however.

          2. hmm… I’m attempting to reply to JonC, but perhaps there are limits to the number of indents…

            Anyway, I just wanted to say, that yes, I agree it is good to have some basic regulations or at least standards that at least protect the health and safety of employees and ensure a little job security. To some degree, unions enabled that, and to that extent they are a good thing… though I feel that nowadays (here), they have mostly lost their relevance. I’m in high tech, and there, often the lowest on the totem pole get stock options/bonuses/incentives also. At one point with a former employer, we could not hire assemblers fast enough locally to keep pace with demand. There is more balance these days (and more outsourcing), but the economy here is pretty good. Many of the assembly staff were simultaneously attending tech colleges to improve their skills to move up the food chain. I had a great deal of respect for our assembly staff. Imho, that is the best scenario: create a culture of drive and self-improvement vs the union culture of complaining and treating a job as a “right”… imho, there is no benefit having an adversarial relationship – the only ones who benefit from that are the union leaders.

            (I don’t write this to disagree with you – I mostly agree with you – I’m just clarifying my views.)

  11. I share most of your sentiments Steven. Similarly, I share your hesitancy to express my political views in depth, not out of fear of debate or negative response, but because I’ve found reactions to be, largely, nonsensical.

    The challenge to informed and reasonable debate anymore is the fact that we don’t seem to be able to accept facts as facts. Forgoing the conversation about climate change, I’ve found that there’s a wider streak (at least here in the US) of discrediting the source. If someone doesn’t want to engage in a real debate, they say something like “Oh, those university liberals.”, which I might get if the source was Waterbury College, but seems ridiculous when the source is, say, University of Chicago.

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