Wednesday, April 8, 2009

What the People Want - Crisis Management and Proportional Representation

One of the central premises of this blog is that the will of the people, the voters, is not at all realized in actual political policies in countries, such as the United States, that don’t have proportional representation.

One of the clearest examples of this in history can currently be seen in the differences in the economic crisis management between countries that have proportional representation and those who don’t.

The voters in The United States and Great Britain (which both have the winner-takes-all voting system) are outraged and disgusted by the taxpayer give aways to the financial oligarchy, whereas voters in countries with proportional representation, such as Germany and Sweden, are generally pleased with the political handling of the crisis, even though they suffer greatly in this crisis too.

The winner-takes-all voting system excludes all those voters, often more than 50% of the voters, who do not subscribe to the specific beliefs of the two only parties that exist in this country. By contrast, a system with proportional representation counts every single vote, and if a party gets 10% of the votes, it gets 10% of the seats, hence incorporating the will of all the voters, as opposed to a small number of them.

In addition to this, the United States allows huge political donations to individual politicians in a scheme that can only be described as a “policy purchasing program”. Money for policy; it’s as simple as that.

The Handling of the Economic Crisis in The United States and Great Britain

Since the current economic crisis began last year, the handling of it has been strikingly similar in The United States and Great Britain. It has been based on one central premise alone:

Protect the current financial power structure, and the individual players within it, at any cost to the taxpayers and no matter what the long-terms consequences to the economy are.

It really is as simple as that, because there is virtually no evidence to the contrary. With bailouts, loans, guarantees to AIG, Citigroup, Bank of America, Bear Sterns and many more, the U.S. taxpayers are on the line for over $10 Trillion at this point!

Enormous bailouts of Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays Bank and many more in Great Britain will eventually cost British taxpayers Trillions of dollars too. All the while banks and other financial companies in both countries are continuing to pay enormous bonuses while successfully opposing financial regulation.

The American and British economies are at this point essentially unregulated. The people in both countries are outraged, and I personally don’t know anyone, nor have I heard anyone outside the corrupt media elite, voice support for the bailout and support of the financial oligarchy.

I don’t have any exact numbers for this, but if I, as a resident of Manhattan working in the financial industry, don’t know anyone who thinks that this is a good idea, I can only imagine what people around the country think about it.

Protesters in Britain have repeatedly smashed the windows of banks, and bank employees have had to hire body guards, so I don’t think the outrage is any smaller there.

The Handling of the Economic Crisis in Germany and Sweden

Although there have been bank bailouts recently in Germany and Sweden, it has been done on a much smaller scale. Banks in both Germany and Sweden had been over extending themselves in lending to Eastern Europe while that part of the continent was trying to re-join Europe after communism.

Both the German and Swedish governments have repeatedly stated that it would be immoral to throw away large amounts of taxpayer money, both for the immediate purposes of taxpayers and the long-term consequences to the economy.

The internal economies in Germany and Sweden were already sufficiently regulated, so in no way are the banks there causing as much of a domestic problem. One could instead look at an industry that is vital to the U.S., Germany and Sweden: the auto industry.

The U.S. has simply given away billions of dollars to companies that are clearly not competitive. Germany’s car companies are very competitive, but the car market in Germany is extremely slow nevertheless. Germany was creative in dealing with this, and gave taxpayers a few thousand dollar to scrap their old car and buy a new one. Sweden will most likely follow this idea.

Sweden refused to bail out SAAB, noting that the company had only been profitable for a handful of years during its 50-year existence. How would Sweden be able to turn around a car company when the biggest automaker in the world could not? It must be noted that the Swedish government in general is not opposed to state-owned companies.

The Swedish government owns many companies that it runs for profit, and created and maintained one of the most successful brands in the world: Absolut Vodka. Who said the government couldn’t run a business?

The Swedish and German governments have, throughout the economic crisis always had the taxpayers’ interests and the future of the country as their first and only priorities.

Small bailouts have occurred, and stimulus in the form of aid to local governments that have run short on cash because of job losses have been paid.

The public outrage that has occurred in Germany and Sweden has largely concerned bonuses, but the big difference is that those bonuses were paid by the companies themselves, not the taxpayers, as in the case of the U.S. and Great Britain.

The policy response to the economic crisis from the winner-takes-all countries has been disastrous, and I personally disagree with almost 100% of what the response has consisted of. The policy is based on the premise that the financial oligarchy must be preserved, taxpayers and country be damned.

The policy response to the economic crisis from the proportional representation countries has been deliberate, responsible, thoughtful with a long-term approach. I agree almost 100% with what has been done in those countries, even though I would not vote for any of the parties currently in power in either country.

This fact describes clearly that the will of the people is not translated into policy in the United States and Great Britain. These two countries are undemocratic and both need vast constitutional overhaul.

Obviously, I advise that the winner-takes-all voting system should be destroyed.


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Anonymous said...

Obama keeps saying that the economy is showing signs of improvement, but how can that be when people are still losing their jobs?

Why isn't obama able to connect the real economic nightmare to jobs? it's not really about the banks anymore (or is it?)

Jacob said...

Obama is saying that because he has to say it. And, of course, jobs is the most important factor in an economy over all, and no growth is real without job growth (at least that's how I see it).

Obama probably believes that he has to uphold the illusion that things are not as bad as they really are. Otherwise people would demand sacrifices from the financial oligarchy, which is the very last things U.S. politicians are willing to consider.

The Democratic governor David Patterson of New York recently drastically cut funding for children's healthcare programs and education, while saying that raising taxes on the wealthy would be a "measure of last resort".

That pretty much illustrates the views of the vast majority of U.S. politicians.

With respect to the banks, they are probably even worse off now than they were before. The only reason that any "improvement" has occured is that the so-called mark-to-market rule has been repealed. This means that banks can just make up what their assets should be worth, so obviously their balance sheets look better now.

What's going on right now is nothing short of a cover-up to protect Wall Street and its individual players.

The crisis cannot be resolved until the problems at the banks have been exposed. Now, they have only been buried deeper.

Anonymous said...

What "assets" do these banks have?