When You’re Born You Get A Ticket To The Freak Show. When You’re Born In America, You Get A Front Row Seat
“The real reason that we can’t have the Ten Commandments in a courthouse: You cannot post ‘Thou shalt not steal,’ ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery,’ and ‘Thou shalt not lie’ in a building full of lawyers, judges, and politicians. It creates a hostile work environment.” – George Carlin.
The state of the union address yesterday gave president Obama one more chance, before his ‘shoe-in’ re-election in November, to unfurl the star tattered banner and attempt to get the wider world to salute..
“Tax the rich until their pips squeak, let’s rein in Wall Street…”, whilst the carefully vetted and assembled crowd in the President’s heartland might have “whoop whooped!” had he used those exact words no doubt the less gullible would simply raise an eyebrow and sarcastically mumble “whoopee-doo..”. The less gullible include the representatives of the great USA public in Congress who politely stood, raising a reverential cheer when appropriate whilst no doubt checking the speech for every nuance that may affect their personal wealth.
However, the reality behind the rhetoric is that any change will be window dressing and opinion poll driven, no president will issue extreme policy so close to an impending election. Therefore the address was big on promise, underpinned by the usual polished delivery, but skinny on detail. There was a loose strategy outlined amongst the poorly executed hypnotic neuro linguistic programming (that was a spent force after his election in 2008), but no time table of execution.
But what can we honestly expect from a country that has blurred the lines between show business and politics to such an extent that the difference is unrecognisable? This is a country whose population, despite all the evidence to the contrary, still believes in the “American dream”. A country who looks at a millionaire (250 times over) and is prepared to vote for him to take the place of the latest incumbent in the White house. A candidate who is as blue blood, ‘moneyed royalty’ as they come.
In a country that collectively worships at the alter of the dollar, it’s hardly surprising that they look at the main Republican candidate Romney and think “that could be me”, after all it’s the American way, the American dream, it’s a “can do” society, unless you’re one of the estimated 57 million on food stamps that is, a number that is scheduled to rise to 75 million by 2013. That’s right, a country where up to 25% of its population is considered that poor it has to distribute food tokens to feed themselves, is considering electing a fabulously wealthy politician into the highest office.
Analysing the state of the union address and breaking it down into bite size statements versus the reality.
We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by. Or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.
There has been plenty of chatter with regards to fairer taxing in the USA, the figure of 30% for the wealthiest has been ‘kite flown’ constantly. However, in the fourth year of his tenure (and by any measurement used) the rich in the USA have grown disproportionately wealthier since the 2008-2009 crisis as the poorest number levels in the USA has ballooned. If ever proof were required, that the rescue was built on the backs of those with the least to give, then there it is. The ‘Buffet tax’ is now aimed at multi millionaires who will have the finest lawyers and accountants on their payroll in order to legally (and within Obama’s “rules”) always find loopholes. Closing the loopholes and tax the super rich at fifty percent is not on the agenda.
Let there be no doubt: America is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal. But a peaceful resolution of this issue is still possible, and far better, and if Iran changes course and meets its obligations, it can rejoin the community of nations.
The rhetoric has moved on remarkably, there is no evidence that Iran has intentions to have nuclear arms, the smugness and arrogance to take praise for the disastrous campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan is truly breath taking in its dissonance. The implied physical threat aimed at Iran is equally nauseous. The failure to close the Guantanamo prison camp is one of many stains on Obama’s record. The circa $2 trillion paid by USA tax payers on those foreign crusades, which has enriched a select few involved in the twin axis of oil and the military industrial complex, has left a legacy whereby the USA is perilously close to a deeper recession. Despite the 2008-2009 crash the spend on military had increased exponentially.
Nowhere is the promise of innovation greater than in American-made energy. Over the last three years, we’ve opened millions of new acres for oil and gas exploration, and tonight, I’m directing my administration to open more than 75% of our potential offshore oil and gas resources. Right now, American oil production is the highest that it’s been in eight years. That’s right — eight years. Not only that — last year, we relied less on foreign oil than in any of the past sixteen years.
The USA economy is still importing circa 50% of it’s energy, Obama intends to create a wild west environment for fracking despite evidence that this untested practice for obtaining gas is deeply flawed and totally unsound. Offshore the devastation caused by gulf of Mexico oil spill was brushed over despite compelling evidence that in order to generate its ‘own’ energy the USA is taking more and more risks. There was no mention of the drilling ban that took place after the April disaster, a ban only lifted in October.
The USA economy is over 70% dependent on consumerism, the impact of innovation is over exaggerated, without the blunt and simplistic exercise of ‘shopping’ the USA economy would die a quick and painful death. Cheap imports, from their new ‘enemy’ China, have built and re-fashioned the modern USA, the banking and auto industry that was rescued with multi billion dollar bailouts will inevitably require further bailouts, QE 3 and a raising of the debt ceiling await.
I’m sending this Congress a plan that gives every responsible homeowner the chance to save about $3,000 a year on their mortgage, by refinancing at historically low interest rates. No more red tape.
This desperation to rescue the housing market at all costs is a busted flush. Can this policy really be believed, the USA admin. is considering paying a sweetener for mortgage owners to stay in houses with negative equity, rather than the market find a true level? There is enough housing stock currently in limbo in the USA, repossessed/foreclosed but unoccupied could house the circa 1.5 ml homeless in the USA, however, the lenders would rather have millions of properties empty as opposed to taking the loss. The USA admin. would surely be better served letting go of the house price metric vanity measurement.
If you’re an American manufacturer, you should get a bigger tax cut. If you’re a high-tech manufacturer, we should double the tax deduction you get for making products here.
The irony that Apple is sitting on a cash pile that would make it the envy of a small country should not be lost in comparison with Obama’s statement. Apple sits on on a cash pile of circa $96 billion, by ranking this makes it the 58th largest economy on the planet, yet it chooses to pay overseas workers a pittance as opposed to employing USA workers on decent salaries.
It seems apt to finish (as we started) with a George Carlin quote;
“The reason they call it the American Dream is because you have to be asleep to believe it” – George Carlin..