Media attack on New Zealand’s democracy

MMP in New Zealand

Twenty five years ago New Zealand voted in a first referendum for the (more) democratic proportional voting system called MMP (Mixed Member Proportional) as recommended  by the Royal Commission after the most thorough investigation into all electoral systems around the world.
The people overwhelmingly (over 84%) rejected the undemocratic First-Past-the-Post (FPP) electoral system, which for instance previously in 1978 and 1981 had returned the National Party to government even if it got fewer votes than the opposition Labour Party. From the four alternative options MMP got overwhelming support with 75%.
In the run-up referendum in 1993 after a bruising campaign by supporters of the National Party who wanted to hang on to the undemocratic system, which favoured their party the people confirmed MMP by 54% to 46%.

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However the anti-democratic forces did not accept the results of two referenda. They immediately went to work creating a myth that there was a promise that the issue would be revisited after testing it in a few elections. There was in fact never such a promise nor expectation. Still under another National government in 2011 another MMP referendum was held. The result of almost 58% for retaining MMP was even stronger than 18 years earlier.

The media are extremely slow learners. Over all these years they still  seem to be living in the old imperial First Past the Post world. For example they still talk about electorate and list MPs as if there was a difference. In the other MMP country Germany nobody makes that distinctions and never has. In our current debate we still hear the myth that electorate MPs are supposed to be first class while list MPs second class. The former being accountable and being able to be voted out by the people while the later (only) being accountable to their parties, which put them on the list. This myth could not be further from the truth. As one scientist quipped in the US context that MPs in safe seats are less accountable to the public than the members of the Stalinist polit-bureau. The later having changed much more often under public pressure that safe seats under First-Past-the-Post. As I already said in a 1992 debate in safe National seats like Te Kuiti or Southland Clutha the party can put a blue ribbon around a sheep dog and it will be elected.

Not even a conspiracy

Still every election where the results are not to the liking of the neo-liberal media inevitably the electoral system is blamed. An objective observer is driven to despair and might be tempted – shock horror – to agree with Donald Trump’s attacks on the ‘fake media’.

trump1_101117gettyPresident Trump on Thursday again slammed the “fake news” media,
saying it has “such hatred.”

The New Zealand media in general do not even try to conceal their disdain for our electoral system and democracy. After this year’s election, which as usual under proportional representation didn’t produce a clear winner with over 50% of the vote they almost demanded that the party with the most votes – as it two weeks later turned out to be 44% – be given the right to form the next government. The fact that 56% had voted against the old government wasn’t ever worth a mention.
All sorts of arguments were invented by the media like “moral authority” to cling on to the old First-Past-the-Post thinking (see my article in the NZ Herald: Hans Grueber: Nothing says the largest party has moral right to govern).

 ‘Holding the country to ransom’

Some evil man named Winston after a famous British Prime Minister with the help the terrible MMP system has taken New Zealand hostage or so it sounds. Most of the world, which is governed by some form of proportional representation look at us – that is our media – as if we had lost our minds.

We didn’t have a new government on election night, Oh My God !

The media wouldn’t even allow for the final results to come out before crying out about New Zealand being taken hostage by a party with only just over 7% of the vote. They are just taking their time to negotiate and make up their minds. These media, editors, commentators, and pundits assumed that the New Zealand people of voting age are still like little children who cannot wait and want to open the presents under the tree before Christmas day. The only ones who can’t wait are the media themselves. This is the age of instant gratification after all.
A little overview of the comments appeared in the Guardian under the headline ‘New Zealand election result ‘held hostage’ by anonymous board of minor party‘.
This so called “anonymous board” of the New Zealand First party, which will be consulted in the decision making process, is of course not unique but has an equivalent in any other democratic parliamentary party in New Zealand. They would or will be equally involved in the democratic decision making process. So why the media outrage ?

No government, how will we survive ?

Another media beat-up in the crazy assumption that it will scare the people is the fact that for an interim period after every election the old government continues as caretaker government in charge of running the day to day business of government. However they are not allowed to introduce any policy changes of make major decisions. This is portrayed as a terrible thing as if the country would not happily function for a few weeks or even months without a proper government.
The last time I looked the trains kept running more or less on time, the airplanes are arriving and leaving if they have enough jet fuel, the police are still arresting people and solving crimes, the courts are holding hearings and handing down sentences and we all still receive our super annuation or benefit payments. And as far as I could discern nobody claimed after the terrible fatalities of the last few days that people started killing each other on the roads because there was ‘no government’.

The other MMP country Germany held elections on the same weekend. The far right neo-liberal party (FDP) represents the interests of the the business community, which according to the media here cannot live without the certainty of a new government. One of their representatives just appeared on the most influential political TV talkshow. When asked about a coalition before Christmas he replied that such serious negotiations could not be rushed. The host’s only reply was that they just would have to wait.
Belgium a few years back was without a new government for about 18 months after their election. The people loved it as no harm and damage was done to them unlike to us by successive neo-liberal governments over the last 33 years.

The media still stuck in the First-Past-the-Post world ignore the fact that all this is totally normal under any proportional system in the world. They are seriously suggesting that we, the people, didn’t know what we were doing when we voted over the last 25 years not once but three times for MMP – a far superior system than we had before.

Concerted Attack

Following the mainstream media including the state owned broadcasters you cannot but conclude that we are witnessing a concerted attack on our electoral system. Not only do we read and hear comments of the above nature by editors, political reporters and media personnel. The media also give overwhelming space to totally outrageous and false comments in the letter pages and give a platform to anti MMP campaigners of ‘Dirty Politics‘ fame to spread their old disinformation and lies.

It seems we have been watching the Media attack on New Zealand’s democracy.

 by Dr. Hans B. Grueber
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Jacinda, You can do this – again !

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Dear Jacinda

The most interesting and in my mind most appealing feature you disclosed about yourself during the election campaign was the fact that some time back you left the Mormon Church.
You indicated that this had not been easy. I can hardly imagine how hard it must have been most likely having affected your family and circle of friends. You described yourself in an interview as agnostic, which is according to Dr Google synonymous with sceptical, doubting, disbelieving, faithless. In other words thinking rationally. I admire you for having said goodbye to your imaginary friend called (the Mormon) God. Many of us as children had imaginary friends we left behind. However these did not hold such power over us as your imaginary friend – God – must have had. It must have made it hard growing up and starting to think freely and independently.

Good on you for leaving in your case the Mormon Temple behind.

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Your political aims and values

As a political junky having observed you over the grand total of a few months I never the least have the feeling that I know your core values and concerns as displayed during the campaign.

Poverty / rich-poor gap

You have made the eradication of child poverty one of the main points of your election platform. Poverty especially child poverty and New Zealand’s gap between rich and poor growing faster than in all other developed countries since 1984 is a scandal.  We have to remember that this is not a natural phenomenon we can do little about. No, it is the result of a deliberate economic policy known in New Zealand as Rogernomics.  Remember tax cuts for the rich financed by benefit cuts for the poor.

Health

Growing hospital waiting list for even life saving (heart) surgery and cancer treatment caused by chronic underfunding. This reminds me of one of the best recent letters to the editor which read : When National describes Labour’s policies as ‘tax and spend’ I am quite comforted as National is the tax and don’t spend party.

Mental health and (youth) suicide

You were rightly moved to tears at the display of the over 600 pairs of shoes of all the suicide victims of last year. New Zealand has the highest youth suicide rate in the developed world. It has skyrocketed since the advent of neo-liberalism in 1984. Almost half of the victims had tried to get help. It was not available again because of funding restraints.

Climate change

You declared climate change as the defining – nuclear free – issue of your generation. The old government is only paying lip service to the problem. Even after signing up to the Paris Accord they couldn’t even bring themselves to setting an example by buying electric cars for their fleet. Instead they subsidise the biggest emitters the livestock industry with hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars. Don’t even mention public transport. Our present  dogma still seems to be: public – bad, private – good.

The environment

You singled out polluted rivers as a disgrace. And again this does not happen by accident. It is the result of deliberate policies subsidised by millions of dollars of taxpayer money.

Housing and Homelessness

This is the big one, which you wanted to introduce a capital gains tax for. Housing or rather the lack of affordable housing is just another example of the failure of the neo-liberal dogma. The “market” does not solve (all) our problems.

Education

You said at at your campaign launch something like that you wanted schools to be institutions of learning and creativity not testing and assessment. I understand that to mean that our children reach their full potential not just become useful cogs in an economic machine.
To many of our Children are taught in unhealthy mouldy classrooms because of deferred maintenance. Instead funding is syphoned off into the neo-liberal pet project of charter schools. The taxpayer puts up all the investment to hand it over to private operators to turn a profit. Education and our most valuable assets – our children – suffer while private ideological or just profit driven individuals benefit.
Then we have the situation where especially in Auckland not enough qualified teachers can be found as they cannot afford to live anywhere near their place of work.

Connecting the dots

Jacinda, please connect the above dots. Everything you have campaigned against is the result of a common ideology : Neo-liberalism.

“Neo-liberalism refers primarily to economic liberalisation policies such as privatisation, austerity, deregulation, free trade, and reductions in government spending in order to increase the role of the private sector in the economy and society.”

I have never heard you even mention the word unlike your hopefully coalition partner Winston Peters. He declared the neo-liberal experiment of the last 33 years in New Zealand a failure. As did the former National Party Prime Minister Jim Bolger.
Even worse you are still endorsing the so called “fiscal responsibility agreement” with the Greens. This is nothing but the failed neo-liberal austerity policy , which has done so much damage overseas and is widely condemned by Nobel Prize winning economists and even the IMF.
Please listen to enlightened academics like Professor Bill Mitchell. He described your ‘budget responsibility’ rules as “the height of economic irresponsibility”. He called “The Greens neo-liberals on bikes and the Labour Party neoliberal lite. They say ‘I’ll do austerity but I’ll do it fairer’. There’s no such thing as fair austerity when you’ve got a third of your children living in poverty.”
Or listen to Auckland University Professor and public policy pioneer Ian Shirley who witnessed first hand – as I did – what the neo-liberal experiment has done to New Zealand.

Lesson from the campaign

Gordon Campbell calls it “a doctrine that says National is better at managing the economy, and this religious conviction goes hand in hand with an ingrained belief that Labour is a tax-and-spend lightweight on the economy, and should therefore be shunned by the cautious and the prudent.” I understand the budget responsibility thing was directed at these voters. What good has it done you?
You best assurances were blown out of the water by the textbook CrosbyTextor tactic of just telling a couple of big fat lies as in the 11.7 billion dollar hole or Labour raising income taxes by April next year. You should not have bothered to fight the religious conviction.

You left a church once

Jacinda, you must realise that neo-liberal economists have been “torturing the minds of our youth with lies and ideology made to look like eternal truths” (Mitchell). You are one of that youth and might not even remember their infuriating mantra “There Is No Alternative“. This economic orthodoxy is not based on empirical evidence. It is an ideological dogma. It is faith based and therefore a quasi religion.
There are good reasons for religions :

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Jacinda, if you do want to change not just the Government but the direction of the country you have to leave the church of Neo-liberalism. It is a big burden on your young shoulders. It will be difficult as you will have to leave many friends and old mentors behind.

You have done it before.

You can do this – again.

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by  Dr. Hans B. Grueber
Posted in Economics, Environment, politics, Society | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

A New Zealand good-news-story

 Good-news-story New Zealand style

Watching the 6 o’clock news on a Sunday night you expect a good news story somewhere to end the weekend on a positive note. Last Sunday the state broadcaster TVNZ managed the impossible feat of literally knitting the worst of the worst of our social and environmental problems together into one good news story. (https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/invercargill-prisoner-works-help-homeless-inside. )

Invercargill prisoner knits recycled plastic shopping bags into matts for the homeless. This makes their sleep on the pavement a fraction less hard and a fraction less cold as he knows from his own past as a rough sleeper.

The problems are :

Incarceration rate

New Zealand has one of the highest incarceration rates in the civilised world second only to the USA, which is fast losing the status of a civilised nation. This is a disgrace on an international scale. The nasty punitive streak in parts of New Zealand society is big enough to be significant for politicians to chase their vote. The “Sensitive Sentencing Trust” – if there ever was a misnomer – seems to dictate ever harsher policies, which have one thing in common. They don’t work to reduce crime. They only satisfy the bloodlust (in the time of the guillotine) of the nasty people. Today luckily it is only: Lock ‘m up and throw away the key. Three strikes and you are out.
New Zealand is the only country with falling crime rate and growing prison population. The only country worse than us are the USA. That has a lot to do with the fact that there prisons are big private business. The fuller the prisons the more profitable the business.  And New Zealand under the present neo-liberal government has also been  going down that same private prison road.

Homelessness

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Homelessness is looking like the opposite of imprisonment. It is actually a sign of the same wider social ill. One is feeding the other.
We read that NZ’s homelessness the worst in OECD – by far.
The rampant neo-liberal ideology puts profit over people with the result that the God of the “Market” drives rents sky high and takes home ownership out of reach for most people. Landlords and speculators are benefitting.
The government is letting their housing stock fall into disrepair as an excuse to sell it off to private interests. The government has abandoned it’s social housing responsibility. It of course is just ideology and makes no fiscal sense. They are giving the houses away to their mates at mates rates and then pay millions of dollars to motels and even buying some for the temporary accomodation of the most vulnerable.
Believing in the absolute rule of the “Market” they ironically pay above market rates or receive less than market rates depending which side of the ledger you look at.

It is absolutely shameful and unacceptable that in New Zealand in the winter of 2017 people are forced to live on the pavement in down town Auckland or whole families in their cars parked up somewhere.

One of the biggest environmental problems: plastic bags

There is a growing recognition and discussion of the environmental problem plastic shopping bags pose. They are used on average just once for less than 10 minutes before they are chucked.  Enlightened countries have banned them outright. Others impose a financial penalty to reduce their use.
You don’t have to sail into the middle of the Pacific to realise the sheer size of the problem. Just  look at the numbers. Thousands of tons of plastic bags – an item which weighs next to nothing – end up in landfills. The rest ends up in the environment most in the ocean where they float in a circle in the middle of the Pacific called the South Pacific subtropical gyre. Walk along even the remotest beaches or just alongside our highways and you find plastic bags everywhere. And the plastic does not disappear but stays in the environment for a very long time.
Local councils, consumers even the big supermarket chains and the general public are calling for action.
Still our government steadfastly refuses to do anything about it.

Instead of solving any of these grave problems our neo-liberal government is running down infrastructure, services and the environment. Their main election strategy is to label the opposition as the “tax and spend” party. A brief letter to the editor of the NZ Herald by Michael Burton on August 14 summed it up nicely. It first sentence reads : I find the National Party’s description of Labour’s policies as “tax and spend” quite reassuring considering that National is the “tax and don’t spend” party.

The good news story

The lady reporter from Southland and the editorial team at Television New Zealand performed the miracle to literally knit together three of the worst social and environmental problems into one good news story. And it really is.
A long time prisoner from a rough background, who obviously should not be there anymore, has turned the boredom of incarceration into action. He knits and teaches fellow prisoners to knit hundreds of used plastic bags into one matt to be given to a homeless person. He has turned his own life around giving it purpose. He is recycling plastic, which otherwise would most likely end up in the environment. He gives a little comfort to the homeless who will sleep a little less hard and a little less cold. Most of all he puts our government to shame.

They should be turning around the incarceration trend ! They should remember their social housing responsibility ! They should deal with the plastic bag pollution !
May be they are thinking more prisoners to knit more plastic bags into more matts helps more homeless people. Problem solved.

Despite the valiant effort of our state broadcaster to fill the good news story slot on last Sunday night’s news it is not a good-news-story, not really !

Dr. Hans B. Grueber

 

 

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The New Zealand I fell in love with is gone

Neo-liberalism the source of most evil

The other day I talked to my political correspondent up North and I raved about the ills of these times. I was talking about all the mundane things everyone is concerned about especially during an election period.

Housing or the lack of it especially in Auckland. The “market” running rampant over the years to the point where average income New Zealanders have no hope to ever own their own home as their parents did. Compounding the problem is the government running down their Housing New Zealand stock into a state of disrepair to have the excuse to sell it off.

Education under stress. The favourite pastime for right-wing politicians seems to be teacher bashing. May be because they are one of the very few professions still strongly unionised. Whenever some arbitrary standards are not reached or New Zealand doesn’t score as high as we think we should in (senseless) international comparisons teachers are blamed. The answer is never to assure that children don’t live in damp cold houses or even cars and caravans and come to school well fed and ready to learn. The recipe is always more or better teacher training as if they were the problem.
Auckland alone has currently a teacher shortage of 300 and candidates won’t even apply as they cannot afford to live in Auckland on the uniform country wide teacher’s salary. Skyrocketing house and rental prices force them out of Auckland.

Then there is the critically underfunded health service. We just learned that in Otago urgent heart operations have been routinely delayed sometimes after patients had been already prepared for the operation because of the lack of intensive care unit (ICU) beds. Some have died as the the consequence. In response the health minister insists that there is no shortage of ICU beds in Dunedin.

Seriously underfunded infrastructure especially public transport and rail is making Auckland’s commuter traffic unbearable during morning and evening rush hour. The National Party, which seems to be owned by the roading and trucking industry, has one answer, which is anything but public transport.

Another pinch point is the mental health service especially the world beating youth suicide rate. Last week I listened to a researcher in the field telling on National Radio that our suicide rate in the early eighties was comparable to other similar countries. Since the advent of Neo-liberalism in New Zealand called Rogernomics youth suicides skyrocketed.

I had to take a breath and my friend told me that I was all over the place and had lost him. I reminded him of the thread connecting all these ills, which is their common cause : Neo-liberalism.

And the list goes on through every sector. The neo-liberal dogma of austerity beats the value of human life and a healthy future for the next generations and the planet every time.

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Think that is bad ? You haven’t seen half of it.

When I visited New Zealand then known as God’s-own for the first time in 1981 I fell in love with it. Not only with it’s beauty from the mountains to the beaches and everything in between but with her people. They seemed to be kind, caring and fair minded.  New Zealand had pioneered many progressive social achievements like giving women the vote, creating a welfare state looking after the most vulnerable, social housing, ACC and the universal old age pension  Most of all we prided ourselves of living in a more egalitarian society than the ones most of us had left behind.
I remember the locker room in my local golf club with all the members names displayed with their handicaps. One chap had been appointed to the bench and it had obviously gone to his head. He added the new title to his name “Judge” Smith. Soon there were “plumber” Jones, “nurse” Stewart and “builder” Bob and the guy very quickly got the message.
Those were the times when it was famously claimed that the Minister of Labour knew all the unemployed by their first names.

Then in 1984 the Reagan/Thatcher neo-liberal revolution hit our shores in the form of Rogernomics and all hell broke loose.

Over the last couple of weeks we have witnessed the very worst result of the neo-liberal dogma forced down our throats for 33 years. This is the now entrenched believe that it is your fault if you are poor. It is your fault when the freezing works or engineering company closed and you are unemployed after 20 plus years on the job. It is your fault if you dare to leave an abusive relationship with your children and have to rely on the domestic purpose benefit (DPB). It is your fault if you fall ill and have to live on the sickness benefit. This new neo-liberal mindset applauds the Work and Income (WINZ) staff who are paid bonuses for not paying out benefits people are entitled to and who are acting worse than the Spanish Inquisition.
All is personal responsibility and “there is no such thing as society” (Margret Thatcher).

This ugly new New Zealand mindset came to the surface after Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei confessed at the social policy launch that she had lied to WINZ 24 years ago when she raised a baby studying for a law degree.

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Let us disregard the further developments since the Spanish Inquisition dug up the dirt. Let’s look at the public reaction when the story was that she had to chose between equally bad choices to either feed her baby or lie to WINZ and that she did disclose this to highlight the fact that many beneficiaries are facing that very same choice today.

The reaction was split. The right-wing commentariat was foaming at the mouth that a politician and member of Parliament had broken the law 24 years ago. Of course they would do anything to distract from the message that we have a huge poverty problem. On the other side people who live in the poverty trap called benefit see Metiria as their martyr saint. She is the only one who understands their terrible situation and is prepared to speak up for them. All this was to be expected.

However the harsh vitriolic often hateful reaction of “ordinary” people in the letters to the editor on talkback radio and discussions in the pub to a “benefit fraud” committed in the mid 1990-ies is an eyeopener. We have to remember the context of the “crime” when the “mother of all budgets” (Ruth Richardson) had cut benefits by a quarter to give tax cuts to the rich.
Still the neo-liberal brainwash of personal responsibility managed to turn the poor against the poor instead of the rich who had just stolen from them. In the pub on Friday night with a prominent political columnist we were approached by a woman of about the same age as Metiria asking us what we thought about her confession. She really didn’t give us a chance before she unloaded. She had been on a benefit with a small child at the time and never cheated. There were beneficiaries having babies just to stay on the benefit while she had abortions. Metiria had stolen from her. Benefits were not an entitlement, which of course is totally false. This I’m afraid was not just one crazy person but representative of a nasty groundswell in New Zealand’s society if there is anything left of a so called “society”.

The New Zealand I fell in love with over 35 years ago is truely gone. Very sad.

Dr. Hans B. Grueber

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There actually is an Alternative

Light at the end of the tunnel

Of all the unexpected crazy political events of the last twelve months one will prove to be more significant than all the others.
We have seen Brexit, the election of a self-confessed mass murderer who still enjoys overwhelming public support in the Philippines, a Liar in Chief in the USA, a young

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political novice coming out of nowhere taking not only the presidency but an overwhelming majority in parliament and in the process evaporating the political establishment in France, a new Canadian Prime Minister winning an election with the promise to legalise pot and the list could go on.
However last week’s British elections will be seen as the most important turning point. It shows the light at the end of the dark tunnel of Neo-liberalism.

There Is No Alternative

Since the neo-liberal takeover of economics around Milton Friedman and his Chicago (School of Economics) boys under Reagan, Thatcher and New Zealand’s Roger Douglas we have been told endlessly that “there is no alternative”. This mantra drove me mad at the time as the economic system is man made and therefore by definition there is always an alternative.

However we have to understand that any myth like a religion or ideology and in this case a new economic dogma must be immunised against empirical evidence by either making it god given and consequently unquestionable or part of the law of nature and consequently unchangeable.
Since the neo-liberal experiment started in the late seventies all the evidence proves that it does not work other than making the rich and powerful even richer at the expense of the poor. However we are still told about the “trickle down effect”, which very much sounds like a law of nature as if money followed the law of gravity. The last time I looked at a bank statement 0n-line the big black numbers did not all end up at the bottom of the screen.

As the neo-liberal ideology is a myth it cannot be disproven by evidence and facts. If you point out all the failings over the last decades the answer always is that it needs more time and we have to go harder. There will never be a point when the neo-liberal disciples will admit that their experiment has failed. A belief system cannot be moved by reality.

Elections are won in the centre

The political version of “There is no Alternative” is the myth that elections cannot be won with left or havens forbid “socialist” policies but rather in the centre.

First of all we have to realise that this elusive centre has shifted over the last 40 years. What used to be in economic terms a far “right” position i.e. anti-union, anti-social welfare (for the poor not the rich), anti-regulation by the state, privatisation of state functions for instance is now the centrist position. In other words the centre has moved to the “right”.

Then at the beginning of the neo-liberal revolution the ruling classes created out of the 1983 UK elections the myth that left wing socialist policies/parties/politicians are un-electable. That election was called early by Margret Thatcher during the jingoistic period after the Falkland war. Labour’s loss had nothing to do with their left wing policies. It was the desertion of the neo-liberal wing of the Labour Party forming their own Social Democratic Party which ended all their chances. Such a move under the ‘First Pass the Post’ electoral system is lethal. Thatcher’s policies other than the war were deeply unpopular and the Conservatives actually lost votes.
But the myth created for the neo-liberal agenda changed the political discourse ever since. Now  mainstream parties converge towards the new (formerly far right) centre. They have become so indistinguishable in their policies that voting has become largely meaningless. As a consequence less and less people take part in elections.

Un-electable candidate with socialist policies

There were two un-electable candidates with socialist policies. Last year Bernie Sanders in the US from the tiny state of Vermont almost took the Democratic Party nomination and would have won the presidency if the party establishment would not have stopped him in his tracks.
In the UK the Labour Party neo-liberal establishment was only partly successful in stopping the un-electable Jeremy Corbyn.

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We have to remember that his election as party leader a couple year back was an accident. His nomination by enough MPs to put him on the ballot of four was meant to be a joke. Soon the joke was on the MPs who overwhelmingly opposed him and had been trying to unseat him ever since. Corbyn was elected twice within a year by the membership with a large and increasing majority. Still his own MPs kept undermining and sabotaging him. They were supported by their mates in the mainstream neo-liberal media, which from the moment he became party leader dismissed him as an un-electable left wing lunatic because of his socialist beliefs and hugely popular policies like properly funding the National Health Service (NHS) instead of privatising it and renationalising the British Railways.

When the snap election was called not only the Tory Prime Minister but the entire political establishment had miscalculated the mood of the people. They all did not learn any lesson from the Brexit referendum a year earlier when the voter had given the ruling political class a shot across the bow. The Conservatives had an unassailable 24 point lead in the polls. The cynical ploy to call the early election was going to give Theresa May a larger majority and crush Labour to their probably worst defeat ever not to come back in the foreseeable future. The neo-liberal Labour MPs and party establishment believed in the same script and seemed intend on loosing big rather than forming a truly left wing Old Labour – in contrast to Tony Blair’s New Labour – government.

As before the Labour Party membership the British voter didn’t get the memo how they were supposed to vote. They largely ignored the propaganda assault of the right wing media. And worst of all young people registered in record numbers and unlike in the Brexit referendum they actually turned out to vote.

The much maligned Jeremy Corbyn attracted record enthusiastic crowds and instead of losing big he won big, more than 30 seats including Kensington the wealthiest electorate in the land, which always voted Conservative. Labour missed an outright majority by just a couple of points. All this with left wing lunatic socialist policies. Labour’s manifesto hit the soft spot after years of ideologically driven neo-liberal austerity. Even two terrorist attacks just before the election  could not drive the voters into the “strong leadership” camp. The foregone conclusion of a huge win and wipeout of Labour turned into a humiliating defeat.

However the neo-liberal wing of the Labour Party were partly successful stopping Corbyn from – shock horror – moving into No 10. That would have happened if they would have been loyal to their leader instead of undermining him. Must watch Jonathan Pie ! ! !

But that is not a bad thing. The Conservatives still have to deal with the mess they created with the Brexit referendum for their own little party political purposes. It will not last. We can look forward to a socialist win next time around. The people are not buying the neo-liberal myth anymore that elections are won in the centre.

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Thanks Jeremy, you have shown us the Alternative.

by  Dr. Hans B. Grueber

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One more reason not to visit Gallipoli

This is again the time of year when some New Zealanders consider to make the pilgrimage to Gallipoli for ANZAC day celebrations.

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Two years ago after the centenary I have written about what is wrong with all these ANZAC day “celebrations” in my post under the title “100 years Gallipoli: ANZAC propaganda still working overtime“.

Now and then two things about the continuing ANZAC propaganda irk me most. For one the claim that the poor chaps who lost there lives on Turkish soil all died as heroes. One died sitting on the latrine being hit by a grenade. The next died storming up the hill to take out a machine gun position. Another died leaving the safety of cover to retrieve a wounded comrade (re Willie Apiata). According to the ANZAC propaganda they all died as heroes. This not only empties the word “hero” of its meaning but demeans the real heroes of war.

The other is the lie that this campaign and the Great War for that matter was about that we could live in freedom and democracy instead just a struggle of competing powers for superiority.
General Sir Ian Hamilton the one most responsible for the disaster whitewashing the report of the Dardanelles Commission warned Churchill :
If the people of Australia and New Zealand feel their sacrifices went for nothing, then never expect them again to have any sort of truck with our superior direction in preparations for future wars.

The propaganda has been working like a charm. New Zealanders have trundled along to every jolly war going if Britain or in the case of Vietnam the US asked them to. Helen Clark  was the first New Zealand leader to resist in the case of the second gulf war. The one also based on a lie that time about weapons of mass destruction.

Freedom and Democracy

Besides the recent terror threats the people who peddle or believe the ANZAC lie about freedom and democracy  should this year have even more reason to stay away from Turkey.

As a guest contribution I add the unedited thoughts of a learned friend :

THE DOUBTFUL LEGAL TURMOIL NEVER CEASES

With much turmoil reported in Ankara and the rest of Turkey and with some 60,000 people apparently detained and arraigned no matter their rank or profession it must be clear that our representatives of those who fought, were wounded or died at Gallipoli just 102 years ago must now stay at home in New Zealand.

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With a president staking his future on a populist reaction of support by which he and they can condemn those arrested we must look to ourselves. Erdogan openly now discusses the death penalty for many of those whom he now has in his prisons when such a penalty does not exist there.  He is doing and threatening things of state importance which cannot be done except by the existing law.  And he is openly in favour with the crowds when he says that the sentence of death must be looked at in respect of the worst of his enemies. There does not appear to be any statute on the books which authorises execution of anyone by anyone else least of all by the state.
We abolished the use of the death penalty in the 1980s. Long before that we declared that retrospective legislation was something which we would not sanction from our Parliament or ask the Queen’s Representative to provide her Assent. Both those constitutional safeguards appear to be at risk now in the land of the repressive Ottoman Empire from which our foe Atta Turk created the modern Turkish state. It is that state which now welcomes us to the Dardenelles and the hills and ravines, ridges and shorelines where the history of the ANZACs began.
However we cannot stand alongside our Gallipoli hosts again until those most serious cornerstones for which those men of ours suffered and died and which seem at risk of deletion by Erdogan from Turkey’s lexicon of laws and been declared to be safe. Our society is one of the Rule of Law, a society which at its core is being dismantled in the very land of Atta Turk.  He promised the mothers of our fallen that they there were now the children of his own land.  Would they want that. Would they have gone so far in order to ensure that the democratic life with its safeguards here would not be lost to history? I think not.
Sadly as present things stand we ought not to have our present day servicemen and young people with all their great intent be seen at Gallipoli. They could only be seen to be supporting a regime and its illegalities of the death penalty and the retrospective legislation which will be required. In our constitutional framework both acts of a captured and compliant legislature would not possible. Nor should they be attack available to President Erdogan who this week is reported as having undertaken an ‘indiscriminate purge’ …and in particular ‘to secular opposition and silence independent media in the country‘.  That is an unwelcome start for any dictatorial plans: First kill the messenger!

Simon Reeves.
7th March 2017

So everyone who believes in freedom and democracy should now stay away from Gallipoli. This would send a real message in support of freedom and democracy.

by  Dr. Hans B. Grueber

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How many Lives to balance the books ?

St John Ambulance Service

It always struck me as odd that in New Zealand the most vital of emergency service is not run by the government but an NGO (non governmental organisation). In this case a not for profit charitable organisation, which in regular intervals approaches us with their begging bowl. I do not know of any civilised country where such a crucial part of the health and disaster service is run by a private charity.
Of course as always in these cases there is a long history behind it going back according to their web-site to the crusades. In New Zealand St John started in 1885. In light of recent reports about a Steep rise in reported ambulance mistakes one has to ask if the charitable model as least for the ambulance part of St John’s operation is still adequate for the twenty-first century.

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The recent revelations seem to point to underfunding as the main problem. The service is under-resourced and under-staffed. This leads to more and more mistakes being made by exhausted and stressed medics, which have lead in some cases to serious harm or even death of patients.
Of course we hear the usual obfuscation about the steep rise in reported incidents being just the result new reporting procedures. And as always the government tries to wash it’s hands of the responsibility to provide adequate funding as it is not running the service.

Fortunately I live to tell about my own experience. I wonder how it was recorded by St John. Here is a slightly abridged version of what I wrote almost seven years ago.

31 July 2010 was my lucky day

I might not have been so lucky as it was a Saturday. However I live to tell the tale.

The pain in the middle of my chest started slowly at around 12:30 pm. As I had a heart attack before I knew the routine. First the Nitrolingual Pumpsray under the tongue. After 5 minutes the repeat brought no relieve. The pain became more crushing. I had to make the decision to ring 111. The ambulance dispatcher was reassuring. “Have you got Aspirin? Can you get to it? What is the strength? Chew three but don’t drink water. The ambulance is on the way.”

The ambulance arrived about 15 minutes later. The paramedics started their work: ECG, blood pressure, Oxygen, shunt into the arm and more Nitrolingual spray.

One piece of advice to all tough guys out there. You will be asked to rate your pain on a scale from 1 to 10, ten being the worst. Being men we will probably never know a ten but it doesn’t pay to downplay your pain. If you are in agony don’t understate and go for the 8 or 9.

The ride in the ambulance seemed painfully slow as I was increasingly struggling with more crushing chest pain. Then we hit some traffic backlog on the Northern Motorway and instead of asking for permission to turn the flashing lights and siren on as the patient was getting worse we went off the motorway to go through the suburbs to reach North Shore Hospital. This alone would have caused a 10 to 15 minute delay.

And here comes the next problem. As a resident of the Waitemata Health Board area north of Auckland you are inevitably taken to North Shore Hospital even if on the weekends they are not fully open for business. We finally got there and into the A&E room. I was  now struggling  with excruciating pain. The medical staff did all they could to stabilize me with anti-clotting medication and more and more morphine. “Can I have another signature ?” Obviously needed to give the restricted drug. The medical staff got to the end of their capabilities and decided to have me shipped to the catheter lab at Auckland Hospital.

My wife by now as scared as I was desperately tried to cheer me up by pointing out to me how beautiful the cardiologist was accompanying me in the ambulance. She was beautiful alright. However her qualification and the fact that two nurses got with her (and me) into the back of the ambulance and that this time the lights were flashing and the sirens were going was more comforting to me. At least my situation was now taken very seriously.

At the Auckland Hospital the Cardiac Care Unit (CCU) was ready for me. The catheter lab had been fired up. “Where is the radiologist ? We need a radiologist.” He appeared a minute later. The surgeon managed to get the catheter into my coronary arteries. It didn’t seem to be easy. You eagerly listen to the communication between the team. He managed to open up the blocked artery and put a stent inside a previous stent, which had been blocked. At around 5pm it was all over. I knew and told everybody, the medial staff, my family and visitors, that I was a very lucky man. About half the heart attack victims don’t even make it into hospital alive.

I am thankful to our public health system, which really looked after me in my hour of need. However some questions remain.

Why can an ambulance crew not turn the flashing lights and siren on when the patient in the back is clearly struggling and deteriorating ? This seems to be a management and/or communication problem the patient really doesn’t need. During a heart attack they speak of the “golden hour” i.e. every minute counts.

Looking back

I just recently had another look at my heart. My cardiologist pointed to an extended white area on the ultrasound image telling me that this was the scar from my last heart attack. I am wondering if the scar would be smaller if I had reached the hospital 15 minutes earlier.

I am convinced that proper funding by the government will improve the survival chances of many patients and the ambulance service is just one small example.

Our government is so smug about balancing the books and even posting a budget surplus. However they achieve this by underfunding even the most vital services like health. Think of the rosters of junior doctors, underfunded and understaffed midwifes run of their feet, life saving medications. Think of other life saving services like suicide prevention, women’s refuge and related services. Think of safe and healthy housing, social services to protect vulnerable children. And the list goes on.

And the government is still spinning us a neo-liberal lie like “trickle down” like “the tide will lift all boats big and small” and most of all “there is no alternative“. This time the lie we hear from government and even the Auckland mayor Phil Goff is the promise to do “more for less“.

The government should be asking themselves :

How many lives are we prepared to sacrifice to balance the books ?

by  Dr. Hans B. Grueber

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And the good news is . . . .

The regular readers of this blog will have noticed that since the US election the author has gone numb. But now even my cardiologist encouraged me to resume writing. As a model patient I have to follow doctor’s orders. Lets pick up the thread.

No real change in America

On election day the NZ Herald came out with this front page :

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I have it laminated hanging on my wall. I am somehow still in disbelief. On the other hand nothing really changed in the USA on November 9th. The picture just has become much clearer.

Still the country  has a deeply undemocratic constitution designed 250 years ago to keep control in the hands of the establishment and keep the riffraff out. Just to give you some examples look at the US Senate, which makes a mockery of the most basic democratic principle that each vote should count the same. In California you get two senators for 50 million people the same number as in tiny states like Wyoming or Vermont for a few hundred thousands.
Or the so called electoral college gave Trump a decisive victory despite the fact that he got about three million votes less than his opponent.

And still Americans accept this and even go to war to teach and bring democracy to other countries. Many even believe that somehow the constitution was given to them by “GOD”.

And still the country is run by big money via corrupt political parties. For example a couple of years back some freshly elected congressmen even missed their swearing-in ceremony because they were already attending fundraising events for the next election.

And still the corrupt political system is held in place by the undemocratic first-past-the-post electoral system aggravated by Gerrymandering. Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in a short video clip WHY CONGRESS IS WORSE THAN HERPES describes this system correctly as “politicians pick their voters instead voters picking their politician” and “politician draw their district lines so safely that even when congressional approval rating went down into single digits they couldn’t lose” and “the former soviet polite bureau had more turnover than Californian politics“.

And still the USA act aggressively against her former ideological foe. It is if the Soviet Union and communism hadn’t expired over a quarter of a century ago.The US military – industrial complex needs an enemy to keep going.

And still most of the US media disseminate the old propaganda line about Russian aggression like Saddam Hussain’s weapons of mass destruction. Just one look at a map of US military bases around Russia from 1990 to 2017 would debunk the propaganda as lies.

The picture is clear for everyone to see

Since Trump’s inauguration i.e. the angry orange meteor hitting the earth and us with it

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we can see clearly that our worst fears have come true. The events since the election have proved what all actual observers of US politics feared. Now it cannot be denied by anyone anymore. Houston we have a problem a threefold problem.

# 1   There is now a leader of the most powerful county on the planet who will not only take his place in the history books but also future psychiatric textbooks. The US professor who wrote the standard text on malignant narcissism  didn’t classify Trump as ill despite meeting all the criteria only because he doesn’t seem to suffer from his condition. All his life he got the lollies feeding his condition like an open carriage ride down the London Mall with our gracious Queen. Its like calling a heroin addict not ill as long as he has enough supply. However we better not wait for what happens if he runs out of lollies eventually and suffers serious rejection, which even he in his alternative factual world might not be able to deny. So far in his mind he could turn around poor attendance and rain at his inauguration or a botched military action in Yemen into the opposite.
However Trump is only the symptom. A boil full of pus on the sick body politics USA threatening to pop anytime.

# 2   The bigger problem are the Trump enablers around him. A criminal gang called the Republican Party or GOP. They not only made him their standard bearer despite all he said during the primaries and without demanding his tax return or that he divests himself from his business interests. They confirm the worst of his cabinet choices. A billionaire secretary of education with the declared aim of destroying the public school system. Or the head of the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) who is against all scientist of his department a climate change denier with the declared aim of destroying the agency. Or a racist white supremacist pig as his top aid and security adviser with no experience in the later.

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Not that the Democrats  are or have been Lilly white but the Republicans are taking their unashamed and blatant abuse of power to a whole new level. In North Carolina for instance after they narrowly lost the gubernatorial race the Republican majority in parliament turned around and stripped the office of governor of all its political power. The court had to put a stop to it.

We are actually watching live the biggest heist in human history. Wall Street, the fossil fuel industry, private education providers (charter schools) and the health insurance/providers and of course the “wall” building industry to name just a few gorge themselves at the expense of the sick, the poor (many of them Trump voters) and the environment.

That is what the GOP has been all about for quite some time but now their audacity is mind boggling.

# 3   The third problem are the before mentioned Trump voters. There have always been the traditional tribal Republicans waging class war from the top. They seem to be unable to change their vote whatever unqualified sick candidates the party puts up. But they have now been joined by a lower class, angry, often racist, uneducated crowd who have no idea what they are voting for or talking about. They for instance want to get rid of “Obamacare” because they – as they say – still have the “Affordable Care Act” not realising that these are one and the same.

I asked friends from California on their recent visit about what has changed in their day to day lives since the Trump election. Their reply was that people just have become angrier, more openly racist and nastier than they ever experienced before.
For me there are just the scary images of Nazi rallies during the 1930s and the infamous Berlin “Sport Palast” crowd.

Are we there yet ?

World renowned physicist and thinker Stephen Hawking predicts that Greed and Stupidity Will End Humanity Earlier than Expected. The doomsday clock has been moved closer to midnight since Trump’s election.
I have over many years observed where the world is heading especially in regards to climate change and inequality and have come to the conclusion that things would need to get much worse before they would get better.

Even looking at the downwards trajectory from Reagan to Bush II and now Trump I lack the imagination to foresee anything worse. And therefore the good news is . . . . .

We might have hit rock bottom.

by  Dr. Hans B. Grueber

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USA/facebook conundrum : Nudity and fake news

Nudity not ok

I have been banned from posting on facebook for 24 hours. I re-posted a political cartoon critical of exploitation including sexual exploitation and hypocrisy.

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I self censored the image above so you are not blinded by two cartoon nipples and facebook will allow this blog to be posted. You still might be offended if you fantasise about what you can’t see behind the bar. I bet that your fantasy will be so much more vivid and therefore offensive than the actual hidden detail of the image. As they say ‘radio is better than TV because the pictures are better’.

Just to make sure that the censor at facebook understands the meaning of the objectionable image let me give you my interpretation of what the artist depicted. It shows a privileged white male sitting comfortably being served all sorts of conveniences like lab top computers, smartphones, chocolate, toiletries and even marihuana by crouching poor mostly dark third world figures. The one blond female figure is even exposing her bare breasts. All this while the privileged white male is ironically wearing a Che Guevara T-shirt.
In one image we get the whole story of exploitation including sexual exploitation and hypocrisy.

The Problems with Censorship

The main problem with censorship has always been with the dirty minds of the censors. To prove this point famous 19th century Austrian satirist Karl Kraus once wrote a little piece where he left spaces blank. The story was designed so that the missing words could either be innocent fitting a harmless storyline or dirty fitting a naughty storyline. The dirty mind of the censor at every turn inevitably supposed the naughty version and the piece was banned even if not one objectionable word was uttered. The satirist had made his point brilliantly.

In the case of the facebook bare breast/nipple policy the question is : What is the reason for the blanket ban ? Is it that the sexual exploitation of women is objectionable ? In this case I would wholeheartedly support the policy and for that very reason I posted the image in the first place.
Or is it that Mark Zuckerberg thinks that nudity per se is objectionable and that the human body is dirty and somehow pornographic ? I do not want to open up the whole breastfeeding debate at this point. However I am reminded of the actor Hugh Laurie on a recent US comedy show. When discussing Donald Trump’s obsession with women’s appearances and walking in on naked beauty contestants his therapy recommendation was breast feeding. It had to be consenting adults, which needed to be emphasised in the case of Trump. And I would wholeheartedly agree with that approach as well.

In any case the image should not have been banned by facebook. If it was for an anti sexual exploitation stance it should have been welcomed. If it would be for an anti nudity stance it should not have been banned as many of the old masters in the great art galleries of the world should not be banned. Instead Mark Zuckerberg and his censors should book some breastfeeding therapy.

Fake News ok

Fake news stories on the internet have become a real problem. Facebook as the main player has come more and more into focus. It is claimed with some good reason that it might have had a decisive influence on this years US elections.

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Even if Mark Zuckerberg dismissed as “pretty crazy” the idea that fake news spread on his site could have affected the presidential election facebook is now taking the issue a bit more seriously. Reputable PewResearch found that 44% of US adults get news from facebook, which is a staggering reach. If you are responsible for the news of so many people you cannot just wash your hands off the problem.

More and more governments around the world are increasingly concerned about the power of social media to control the “news” content. The German government for instance is demanding access to the algorithm behind the “news” selection the users are fed.

Most of the fake news stories are so blatantly false as the one above that any sensible half educated person would check the date of the publication if it was not the 1st of April. Which brings us of course to the level of education of many including Donald Trump who believe things because they have seen it on the internet. As a product of decades of neo-liberal cuts to education they lack the basic knowledge to asses if a news story is even close to the realm of reality.

Word of the year 2016 “Post-truth”

The Oxford Dictionary has named “Post-truth” the word of the year 2016. It could as well be the description of the state of the US society and politics where the term was used to characterise the election campaign. Observers already call the incoming administration the most anti truth – as in science, as in climate change – ever. Up to 40% of US citizens don’t even care about the truth of climate change as they believe that the world is going to end anyway on judgment day in the next 30 to 40 years during their lifetime.

Instead they care about nipples. Remember the infamous wardrobe malfunction during a Super Bowl performance when Janet Jackson’s breast was exposed for about half a second showing her breast covered with a nipple shield. People went bananas and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) tried to impose a record fine of $500,000.- on the broadcaster. A case which got all the way to the Supreme Court.

Please excuse my generalisation. Many friends and family are Americans and I apologise to them. But as this year’s election has proved Americans do not care about the truth while if facebook is anything to go by are being obsessed with female nipples. They just elected the president to suit.

Donald Trump, an unabashed pathological lier with a lifelong obsession with the shape and appearance of women in urgent need of some breast feeding therapy.

by  Dr. Hans B. Grueber

 

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“Scary Movie 16” – US Election

I am utterly sick of the US election and can’t wait it to be over. It has become so incredibly ugly and the downward spiral seems to have no end. And I am scared. I don’t want to be held “in suspense” any longer.
The choice for the American voter should be easy even if each appears to have a sour taste.
In any case the outcome has grave consequences for everyone connected to this world. Think of gradual devastation by climate change or sudden by (at worst) nuclear war.

Bread and Circuses

For a long time I have seen parallels between our period in history and the end of the Roman Empire. I even encouraged my son to become a professional in the wider entertainment industry to have job prospects for life. The bread and circuses of the Romans were the last device to keep the masses in the crumbling empire docile.
Looking around us today we see the same things happening. Serious discourse about serious issues like the economy, the environment, politics are displaced by entertainment. You only have to look at New Zealand’s two main TV channels where narcissistic ignorant clowns are hosting current affairs programmes. The ratings indicate that the great unwashed crowd is loving it.

guy body editorial cartoon october 31 2016 halloween paul henry max key obnoxious behaviourguy guy body editorial cartoon October 31, 2016

This is the result of a deliberate policy by neoliberal elites. In the US and other countries following the neoliberal doctrine like New Zealand the public education system has been gradually defunded. Underpaid teachers are under constant attack not the least as they are still unionised. The result is a lesser and lesser educated citizenry, that for instance does not know history and therefore does not understand the context of the problems facing us.
Another example of our neo-liberal government dumbing down public discourse was the scrapping of the state broadcaster’s charter as one of it’s first acts after coming to power. The public broadcaster was turned fully commercial with no more obligation to true in depth journalism and informing the public.
The ultimate result of creating an uneducated ignorant citizenry can be observed by the regression of US presidents from Reagan to Bush junior to now Trump. The trajectory points even lower.

While we are distracted by the media and other circuses the serious problems are festering on.

Climate Change

To start with the big one with the most serious consequence for us all. A Trump presidency would set back the global effort by years. This is of the gravest concern as time is of the essence. Other more localised environmental issues fair no better.
Again the widely uneducated uninformed masses don’t seem to care. How else can a climate change denier who threatens to rip up all the international climate treaties come close to winning the US presidency? And again the media are not doing their job to thoroughly research and report on the issue affecting all of us.

World Economy

The burning economic and political problem of neo-liberalism is never mentioned by name during the campaign. However one of the leading candidates, Bernie Sanders, with his policies on closing the growing rich-poor gap, free public education and globalisation raised awareness and shifted the positions of the finalists.
Like on climate change there seems to be a stark choice on globalisation between the candidates. The outcome will affect all trading nations.

War and international Conflicts

It seems that Hillary Clinton poses a greater risk to world peace than her counterpart. This is explainable by the fact that as a woman in a men’s world she cannot possibly be seen as weak. From her record she rather seeks confrontation than walk away from a dangerous situation.
We have seen 25 years of US led Western aggression against Russia. After the end of the Soviet Union and their dream of world revolution there was hope for co-operation and a so called ‘peace dividend’. We meant to save on military spending as the “communist threat” had disappeared. However the Western military/industrial complex or arms industry did not want a bar of it. Against all promises made when Gorbatsjov allowed German re-unification Nato expanded eastward right to the Russian border. New weapon systems directed at Russia were deployed. Former Soviet republics were enticed to join or align with anti Russian alliances. And right now we are in the midst of an anti Russian/Putin propaganda war.

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In Georgia and Ukraine where Russia was defending it’s self-interest direct confrontation between the two nuclear superpowers was avoided. Now in the Syrian war where both US and Russian airforces are operating on opposite sites there is a risk of direct confrontation and military exchange. Even more so as Clinton threatens to impose a no-fly zone.
The threat of a nuclear war is real. Remember at the last direct confrontation during the Cuban missile crisis only the cool heads in Moscow saved us from nuclear armageddon.

Candidate Trump’s approach to international security seems be more isolationist more like the Mafia business model. If you want protection you have to pay for it. Otherwise the US are not interested.

US government & political System

For a very long time the US political system has moved away from a democracy. As former US president Jimmy Carter noted ‘The U.S. Isn’t A Democracy, It’s An Oligarchy’.

Former President Jimmy Carter speaks during a forum at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014. Among other topics, Carter discussed his new book, "A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power." (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Former President Jimmy Carter

A system that declares corporations to be persons to be allowed to influence the political process when they are not allowed to vote is deeply flawed.
One candidate claims that the elections are rigged and he is correct on so many levels from  election finance to voter suppression in many federal states to blatant gerrymandering. All of which generally favour the Republicans.

The US neo-liberal political system is broken, not fit for purpose, kaputt. Against all evidence to the contrary it relies on the fiction that there is an informed rational electorate able to make decisions in their interest. I have been saying all along that not Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton are the problem but the American electorate, which in great part has gone crazy with justified anger. Filmmaker Michael Moore in TrumpLand (last night on TV One) explains it well. Democracy cannot work if you use you vote as an “anger management tool”. 

We should not even be talking about Trump in political terms but instead in medical terms like in Narcissism named after the Greek mythological figure Narcissus.
Imagine the day after the election a crazed candidate unable to accept that he lost is arrested running down New Yorks’s 5th Avenue trying to shoot someone to prove his prediction that he will not lose even one vote by shooting someone in broad daylight. Then the term “Trumpism” will be coined for people suffering from the mental disorder that they are “winners” who cannot ever accept losing. Think of Monty Python’s Black Knight.

Imagine the very real prospect of a man in the oval office influencing the world economy and climate  with his finger on the nuclear button  who is not able to believe that he could ever lose.
We must be in “Scary Movie 16”.

by  Dr. Hans B. Grueber

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