Saturday, July 16, 2011


I read the Vancouver Sun and the Globe & Mail this morning.

Blah, blah, blah.

The single most important story stands alone - the US debt crisis.

I am not smart enough to know what has brought us to this brink.

Greed? The credit card life? Laziness? Entitlement? Poor productivity? Cheap Asian labour?

I don't know.

But I know this.

If the US falters, so do the rest of us. The European Union is in a almost mirror image of near panic.

What makes this all so scary, truly frightening, is that so much of the possible short term solution lies in the Bible-thumping, slogan-bearing, gun-toting, simple-minded, clever, always politically motivated hands of Republicans, in and out of office.


* * *

One the local scene, where we are insulated from real problems by bike lanes and the profusion of good Italian coffee shops, only a small letter to the editor in the Sun caught my eye.

Here it is in its entirety:

A plea to delay funding cuts to mental health group

Survivors of mental illness are often stigmatized and ostracized by society. They often must struggle to recover on their own with little help from the community.

But Burnaby Mental Wealth Society has provided psycho-social rehabilitation services to 300 members for 17 years. Our supportive social community has been a second family to our members. We encourage members to stay healthy, out of hospital and involved in society.

But due to a recent draconian decision by Fraser Health, our funding has been terminated as of Aug. 31.

We are asking Fraser Health to sustain our funding until March 31, 2012 to give us time to find another source. We ask the public to support us by writing to their members of the legislature to ask that Fraser Health sustain our funding. Please help us help the poor and mentally ill.

John Johnston President, Burnaby Mental Wealth Society


Anonymous said...

Well, from what I can gather, the major problems in the U.S. are due to a combination of a few things. One, an excessive amount of deregulation. Two, substantial tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans combined with an increase in spending thanks to two arguably unnecessary wars. Three, an unshakable belief by a large group of Republicans that the Republican party is the only one that should control the government, and who seem to be doing everything to mess up the economy to ensure Obama's presidency fails. Four, President Obama's unshakable belief that he has to go down in history as a president who builds consensus between the parties.

I'm sure there's more to it than what I've outlined, but they're important points. Obama has spent a great amount of time and energy compromising with extreme Republicans who don't believe in compromising. They want his presidency to be a failure so that a Republican president can get elected. A shaky economy makes a president's chances for reelection very shaky. Obama doesn't seem to understand or care that nothing he does will satisfy them. So the extreme Republicans have been empowered, and have boxed themselves into a corner. And the U.S. and the rest of the world will be worse off for it.

What the lawmakers and president in the U.S. need to do is concentrate on getting people employed. Employment is what ensures the money flows, tax revenues come in, and mortgages and other personal debts are paid off. The private sector is holding off on hiring people and expanding business due to lack of demand for products and services. People are unwilling to purchase products and services, creating the demand the private sector needs, unless they are steadily and fully employed. It's a vicious circle!

New York Times columnist and Nobel laureate Paul Krugman has long argued that the stimulus package created by the U.S. Federal Government a couple of years ago was much too small to be effective. He has advocated government involvement in big, and arguably necessary projects, like a high-speed rail system, or a massive expansion in renewable energy production that would help reduce reliance on petroleum. This would help get the employment up for many years, and really give the U.S. economy a boost.

But this would also involve a temporary and large increase in government deficits. Unfortunately, governments are more interested in implementing austerity measures to hold government deficits in check. The problem is their timing is off. Governments should be working to ensure money is being injected into the economy during the bad times, and working on reducing government deficits and debts when the times are good. I, however, don't think this will happen.


Diverdarren said...

"Bible-thumping, slogan-bearing, gun-toting, SIMPLE-MINDED, clever, always politically motivated hands of Republicans, in and out of office."

Who you calling simple-minded? :)

But seriously, the Republicans and the Tea Party-ers have some sound ideas. (After you remove the rhetoric) It is going to take some serious reductions it our
(ie. westerners) ideas of normal expectations on government entitlements, and high debt life-styles.

Anonymous said...

"Entitlements" There are two definitions of this word. The first definition is a legal one. If one has worked and contributed to their pension (be it CPP or their municpal pension) - they are "entitled" to collect it. This is pretty easy to understand and is quite reasonable.

Then there is the psychological "entitlement" as in "sense of entitlement." This is usually used for personality disorders when one feels that they are "entitled" to something for which they are not (such as, "I am entitled to eat all the caviar around the buffet cheese plate - saving none for the other guests because I am in some way special and more important than everyone else."

I hate using the word "government entitlements" to describe pensions, pharmacare and such. Right wing thinkers tend to think that someone who has paid into their pension (be it CPP, municipal pension or company pension) to have the latter, psychological "sense of entitlement" and tend to be disparaging on those who are angry that the benefits WHICH THEY WERE PROMISED AND OFTEN PAID INTO are considered for the chopping block.

I think it is very wrong to put the legal definition of "entitlements" next to "high debt lifestyle" One is a reasonable expectation (i.e. a person pays into a pension - they should be able to collect, a disabled person should be able to live with dignity and a senior should have their medications covered so that they too may live in dignity during their latter years). The other (the high debt lifestyle) is more of a personality disorder - where one lives beyond their means. (Please note - I am not referring to those who need to use debt, including credit card debt, in order to put food on their table or pay for needs and absolutely necessary expenses due to low wages/fixed incomes, but those who enjoy luxuries/wants on credit).

Eroding "entitlements" is a reverse Robin Hood (i.e. stealing from the poor and working people to benefit the wealthier members of society).

My parents are now collecting their CPP and Old Age Security. They earned it. They need it. They deserve it. Having this entitlement is not a "sense of entitlement" in the psychological sense.

These entitlements are reasonable and just.