The good ones get it

Written By: - Date published: 8:30 am, June 28th, 2016 - 126 comments
Categories: capitalism, Globalisation, obama, us politics - Tags:

I have often seen here complaints that elites are taking over the world, that politicians simply get manipulated by them, and as a result the real people are just damaged and used. Following is an excerpt from a Bloomberg interview with President Obama from June 13th – before Brexit – that shows how he makes the links between trade, elites, workers, and redistribution:

I think that the temptation (…) is to resort to nativism and nostalgia and the sense that these things are out of control and I want to take control back. And that can be true of the Left; it can be true of the Right. But I continue to believe that that majority of people, whether in the United States, in Europe, or certainly in rapidly advancing parts of the world like Asia – these folks recognize that the world has shrunk, and that if rules are structured properly, this gives them more opportunity, not less, to succeed.

My argument has been that the reason people are resistant to [the free trade] argument is because global elites have been inattentive to the issues of wages, incomes, and opportunity for ordinary people. If you’re selling globalization and saying it’s great, even though each year … you’re seeing more and more of a winner-take-all economy, where not just the top 1 per cent, but the top 0.01 per cent, are getting a larger and larger share, then yes, it’s going to be pretty hard to make an argument that “don’t worry, this is great for you.”

(…) If you talk to the younger generation here in the United States, they’re not knee-jerk anti-trade. They’re not anti-globalization. If you look at surveys, it tends to be older workers who are feeling displaced who are attracted to this notion of “let’s pull the drawbridge and shut everybody off.”

(…) We know that if we’re investing in education, early childhood education, college – making that cheaper and more affordable – then workers are going to have more opportunity. We know that if they have higher minimum wages, then they’ll get a larger share of the fruits of all these amazing new innovations and globalization. We know that if we have stronger labour standards and workers have more voice, that’s going to make a difference.

There were a bunch of decisions that were made back in the ’30s by FDR and then later in this country in the ’60s, that were fiercely resisted by business but essentially created a social compact and a social welfare state where people said, “OK, I’m seeing the benefits of innovation. I’m seeing the benefits of capitalism. I’m seeing the benefits of trade.” We have to update these for the 21st century in the same way that in previous eras we updated those for the shift from agriculture to industry. And that’s going to require some farsightedness, not just in the public arena but also in the private sector.”

Of course, he’s come to the end of his two terms and is somewhat freer in naming the powers. There’s little more he can do to further burnish his historical place. But at minimum it shows that good politicians when considering the economy can make the right links, focus on where the power is and where it needs redistributing to, and be mindful of the historical shoulders he’s standing on. You just don’t often see it in print, as a verbatim conversation. Compared to what passes for joining the dots in our current parliament, I think I’m going to miss him.

126 comments on “The good ones get it”

    • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1

      Freedom of movement is a basic human right.

      Remember how it was the immigrants who repealed Glass-Steagel and crashed the global economy while chanting “free-market”?

      No, neither do I.

      • Colonial Viper 1.1.1

        you better tell the Syrians drowning off Greece your thing about freedom of movement.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1.1.1

          I have no time for your myopic drivel.

          • Colonial Viper 1.1.1.1.1

            The sooner you stop spending time replying, the better off both of us will be.

            • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1.1.1.1.1

              Nah. You’ll be better off, with one less critical voice exposing your self-serving drivel. I won’t be better off because you’ll still be pushing your self-serving drivel and employing your dishonest bad faith approach to criticism, thus derailing useful discussions and alienating potential allies.

        • Greg 1.1.1.2

          Call me Meyer,

        • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1.1.3

          While I’m at it, as a member of the NZLP, you’ve got a lot of nerve going after a Green voter on those grounds. Get your plank out of my eye.

          • Colonial Viper 1.1.1.3.1

            Why are you still spending your time replying to me?

            • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1.1.3.1.1

              The same reason doctors advise people to stick with their chemotherapy: the possibility of remission.

      • Draco T Bastard 1.1.2

        Freedom of movement is a basic human right.

        Nope.

        You do not have the right to affect other people without their permission.

        As that is what freedom of movement entails then it’s obvious that it’s not a basic human right.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1.2.1

          Sure. When our actions affect other people, they tend to move. I note the failure of various walls throughout history, and that they still seem attractive to some.

          Are you a wall builder Draco? We just more-or-less fucked anyone who lives in the equatorial regions. Like it or not, those who can walk, will. Those who can sail, ditto.

          What’s the plan?

          .

          • McFlock 1.1.2.1.1

            The world becomes a cluster of self-sufficient, automated, communist silos based on current national boundaries, apparently

            • Draco T Bastard 1.1.2.1.1.1

              You have a problem with being sustainable?

              Because the present system isn’t.

              And you’re exaggerating my position.

              • McFlock

                Exaggerating?

                With anyone else, it would be an outright fabrication.

                • Draco T Bastard

                  Considering that I’ve advocated on this board for changing national boundaries in respect to the Kurds and Palestine and anywhere else there’s conflict that could be eradicated by a change in borders.

                  Considering that I’ve also said that free-trade will still exist but be minimised and likely to be only an exchange of information.

                  Considering that I’ve advocated for cooperatives businesses run by the workers.

                  The only two things that apply is the self-sufficient and automated. And even the self-sufficiency isn’t absolute due to the expected exchange of information.

                  So, really, it’s even an outright fabrication as regards to me as well.

                  • McFlock

                    so:

                    self-sufficient,

                    check

                    automated,

                    check

                    communist

                    well, at least having businesses run by worker co-operatives, so the workers would control the means of prod-… check

                    silos

                    so, free trade of information only, but other trade is strictly regulated if at all permissable. Physical silos, then, but not of data.

                    based on current national boundaries

                    addendum “with some exceptions”.

                    Yeah, I go with your first position, that it’s merely an exaggeration. In fact it seems to me to be only a slight exaggeration of the views you’ve expressed.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      well, at least having businesses run by worker co-operatives, so the workers would control the means of prod-

                      That would be an over-simplification of communism. And, besides, why shouldn’t the workers control their business? What right do others have to control it?

                      It would still be a market system.

                      so, free trade of information only, but other trade is strictly regulated if at all permissable.

                      Wrong

                      Although there would be some regulations trade itself would be allowed and even encouraged but, due to an actual even playing field, minimised by the vagaries of the market itself. Trade is expensive.

                      addendum “with some exceptions”.

                      With the exception that all boundaries are negotiable.

                      In fact it seems to me to be only a slight exaggeration of the views you’ve expressed.

                      Nope, you’re still exaggerating them, trying to class them as negative while ignoring the merits.

                      Why are you against automation when it frees people up for doing better things and/or a better lifestyle?
                      Why are you against workers controlling their business and themselves?
                      Why are you against a country being able to support itself without having to rely upon other countries?

                    • McFlock

                      lol yes, it’s an exaggeration. It’s hardly a complete misrepresentation though.

                      Why are you against automation when it frees people up for doing better things and/or a better lifestyle?

                      I’m not, particularly. I merely felt it was significant factor in the desired vision you had for the world.

                      Why are you against workers controlling their business and themselves?

                      I’m not, particularly. I merely felt it was significant factor in the desired vision you had for the world.

                      Why are you against a country being able to support itself without having to rely upon other countries?

                      I’m not, if that is the most efficient way humanity as a global species can allocate resources (I don’t think it is – I suspect that our rainfall is more conduciveto watermelon crops than, say, Mali’s water resources. Malians deserve melons, too). I merely felt it was significant factor in the desired vision you had for the world.

                      You misunderstand my laughter. I don’t think that any of those things are negative or bad, with the possible exception of national self-sufficiency when other nations might be able to produce better quality widgets with fewer resources, and we can do the same with sprockets.

                      I just don’t think they will co-exist for centuries, if ever.

                      In the meantime, I do think that regional and global federalism is a much more achievable way to mitigate humanity’s evident desire to kill itself.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      hen other nations might be able to produce better quality widgets with fewer resources

                      That’s a physical impossibility and then on top of it you get the added expense of trade.

                      In fact, a lot of the products we import actually use more resources than we would use in terms of such things as burning coal and human labour and yet we still believe that it would cost more to produce those items here. This belief is the result of a financial system that does not price things accurately.

                      I’m not, if that is the most efficient way humanity as a global species can allocate resources (I don’t think it is – I suspect that our rainfall is more conduciveto watermelon crops than, say, Mali’s water resources. Malians deserve melons, too).

                      That’s not what I mean by self-sufficiency. Self-sufficiency is being able to provide for ourselves all that we need with or without trade. We don’t specifically need melons (although they are rather tasty) and neither do the Malians.

                      BTW, how much water do we actually have, how much do we need to provide for ourselves and thus how much can we afford to export as melons?

                      Physical reality again. We actually need to husband the scarce resources that we have so that we can provide for ourselves indefinitely.

                    • McFlock

                      hen other nations might be able to produce better quality widgets with fewer resources

                      That’s a physical impossibility and then on top of it you get the added expense of trade.

                      Lol.
                      What if the raw widget stuff its 2000m under our fields, but lying around in Mali? Your trade loss is more than made up by our mining expense.

                      What if we’re just really good at getting sprockets to reproduce at five times the rate of Malians? Trade gives us cheap widgets for some of our spare sprockets going to Mali.

                      Now, let’s look beyond your incredibly humble (/sarc) determination of what Malians deserve or need, what if our fields produced loads of grain? And Malian fields didn’t provide enough grain for them to eat? Obviously some deal could be made there, but how would you determine what Malians need as opposed to want? Should they be on half rations? How would your system determine what goes to Mali and what stays here?

                      For that matter, how would your system determine who in NZ “husbands” how much water?

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      What if the raw widget stuff its 2000m under our fields, but lying around in Mali? Your trade loss is more than made up by our mining expense.

                      A valid point. We import bauxite from Australia because the ~25 million tonnes in Northland is hard to get to.

                      But that comes against the sustainability thing that I also keep going on about. Eventually Australia will run out of bauxite and we’ll have to mine our own. Australia’s probably going to want to buy some back as well.

                      I figure that we’ve got about another 50 years before our iron sands are exhausted. What do we do for steel then? What about the people who presently depend upon our iron sand and steel exports?

                      These are question that the present system does not take into account. Like I said, our financial system does not price things accurately.

                      Now, let’s look beyond your incredibly humble (/sarc) determination of what Malians deserve or need, what if our fields produced loads of grain?

                      1. I didn’t do that at all. I was merely extrapolating on the example that you used.
                      2. It appears that Mali already produces their own agriculture.
                      3. Mali doesn’t need more food, what they need is to develop their economic infrastructure so that they can get away from being an agriculture centred economy.

                      Obviously some deal could be made there, but how would you determine what Malians need as opposed to want?

                      I wouldn’t. Here’s the point that I’ve been trying to make that you seem to miss:
                      If a country produces enough to provide for itself then it doesn’t need trade. At that point trade happens only in luxury goods and information.
                      This is actually the inevitable point that the world will reach. It’s inevitable because it’s sustainable. Trade isn’t.

                      How would your system determine what goes to Mali and what stays here?

                      You may not have noticed but my system is essentially a market system. I’m really just saying that everything needs to be properly priced with equivalent conditions in all countries. Without that the market doesn’t work and with it long distance trade collapses.

                      For that matter, how would your system determine who in NZ “husbands” how much water?

                      We have this thing called government that should measure the availability of all our resources and puts necessary caps in place to ensure sustainability.

                      Every country needs to do that.

                    • McFlock

                      hey, you said people don’t need watermelons. If that’s not a determination of need vs want, then you’re not using language very clearly, are you. Even if Mali grows cotton.

                      Using your bauxite scenario, the current system suggests that at some point it will be cheaper to drag aluminium out of our rubbish tips rather than mining bauxite anywhere. Same with most other things that are mined if there’s no substitute that’s even cheaper.

                      How does your “market” system make sure everything is “properly priced with equivalent conditions in all countries.”?

                      How do you ensure that all countries price their goods “properly” without some mechanism to determine international consensus?

                      How does your system ensure that every country’s government allocates its resources efficiently?

          • Draco T Bastard 1.1.2.1.2

            We just more-or-less fucked anyone who lives in the equatorial regions.

            Yep, I’m quite well aware of that. We should probably have taken that 200 year knowledge that increasing CO2 in the atmosphere increases temperature and not built cars or fossil fuelled generators. But we did and so we have a problem.

            How many people do you think NZ can support sustainably? I’m pretty sure that it’s far less than the number that will make their way here if we had open borders.

            What would you do when there’s several hundred million people trying to get to NZ? Most of them won’t survive even if they do get here but neither will anyone already in NZ.

            What’s the plan?

            The only one that’s available to us – close the borders.

            • Philj 1.1.2.1.2.1

              How many people can New Zealand support in a sustainable way? There are studies that show human population of NZ, prior to European settlement was about 200, 000 people. There was fighting between tribes and some evidence that a biological sustainable limit was being reached,moa and huia extinction etc. Some studies have suggested that NZ could sustain, at a reasonable standard of living, around 2 million people. Does anyone know if this is correct, or sustainable? What if this information is correct?

              • Draco T Bastard

                Some studies have suggested that NZ could sustain, at a reasonable standard of living, around 2 million people. Does anyone know if this is correct, or sustainable?

                Wish I knew. Been looking for years for a solid estimate but have never been able to find one. I believe that it’s a critical piece of information and needs to be updated every five years or so to take into account new knowledge.

                What if this information is correct?

                Then we’re already fucked.

        • jcuknz 1.1.2.2

          I tend to side with Draco because the result of unlimited movement is a breakdown of the receiving society. But the end result is that the movement stops as the destination is no longer attractive.

          Rather than accepting unlimited migration we should be looking after these people in their own or neighboring countries. Using our prosperity to fund them get out of their plight.

          • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1.2.2.1

            I think jailing people who fund dictators and wars might just do the trick. Oops, that’s us.

          • Draco T Bastard 1.1.2.2.2

            Rather than accepting unlimited migration we should be looking after these people in their own or neighboring countries.

            QFT

            Well, their countries anyway. The neighbouring countries probably have their own problems that need addressing.

            Using our prosperity to fund them get out of their plight.

            They don’t actually need funding. What they need is access to the information and education to do that themselves with their own resources. The resources that the rich countries are presently taking out as fast as they can so that their people can be rich.

      • weka 1.1.3

        “Freedom of movement is a basic human right.”

        Are you suggesting that all countries remove immigration control?

        • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1.3.1

          I was thinking more of countries that try and prevent people from leaving.

          As for immigrants, there seems to be no limit to the number of wealthy people allowed in. If all countries did relax their borders would that suddenly make people want to migrate wildly around the world, or is that more often a consequence of the wars and famines we keep dabbling in?

          • weka 1.1.3.1.1

            Having lived in a number of places in the SI where there is pressure from western Europeans who want to immigrate here permanently but can’t jump the hurdles required to get residency, I’d have to say I have no doubt at all that were NZ to remove immigration controls our population would jump massively. NZ is a highly desirable place to live. And because of our geographical isolation, the people arriving will be the well off escaping from Brexit and Trump (but really escaping from their own overcrowded, over done cultures).

            The remaining limits, eg housing, jobs, antipathy from locals, the costs of plane tickets and relocation, would ensure a certain population level where those problems were entrenched even more than they are now.

            I’m not for close borders, but I do think that immigration needs to be managed in the context of sustainability. At the moment that’s not even on the agenda, and gets conveniently forgotton in these political debates.

            • Draco T Bastard 1.1.3.1.1.1

              +111

            • Psycho Milt 1.1.3.1.1.2

              I’d have to say I have no doubt at all that were NZ to remove immigration controls our population would jump massively.

              Fuck, yes. I worked in the NZ Consulate in Hamburg for a bit in the 1990s and occasionally had to answer the phone, which seemed to consist largely of having to disappoint local callers with the news that NZ had a points system for immigration that wasn’t geared to letting ordinary Germans move here.

    • Nic the NZer 1.2

      From the first link from Greg,
      “The fact that wage stagnation stems from intentional policy decisions means that fundamental economic forces did not make these trends inevitable.”

      The key lesson for those wallowing in the lefts inability to deal with the inevitability of ‘globalisation’ (actually neo-liberalism) and its outcomes.

      Major question for the future of work policy, is the actual decline of jobs really due to advancing technology or is it due to the govt not supplimenting the number of jobs available (and using unemployment to target inflation).

      • Greg 1.2.1

        Its not just technology changes that affect jobs, but also the idea that a job for life is outdated.
        https://ojs.victoria.ac.nz/LEW/article/view/1325 (abstract)

        just how many job positions offer long service bonuses,

        Do i need to post a link about robotisation of NZs meatworks.

        Reagan made Corporations a person, taxes and liability ?
        https://mises.org/library/sad-legacy-ronald-reagan-0

        So if a non living entity like Corporations can be recognized as a person by the Government, then why can not robots be taxed as worker replacements.
        Considering human workers taxes cannot be avoided, and make up a significant part of government tax take.
        And with a majority of NZ assets increasingly owned overseas, whats to be spent in NZ. Think black hole.

      • Draco T Bastard 1.2.2

        Major question for the future of work policy, is the actual decline of jobs really due to advancing technology…

        It’s part of it. Increasing productivity with no other changes must result in a decrease in jobs. The only thing that the economists and politicians have to counter that is that more will be created but the problem with that is that there really is a limit to how many new products can be created at any one time that will be commercially successful (a good example is indie games). And that doesn’t even take into account that very expensive infrastructure needed to produce most new products that most people just don’t have access to or the worlds limited resources.

        The big problem with modern economics is that it’s predicated upon infinity when the real world is limited.

        • Nic the NZer 1.2.2.1

          Why should jobs involve making products? Many don’t.

          • One Anonymous Bloke 1.2.2.1.1

            Even sustainable items wear out and break.

            • Nic the NZer 1.2.2.1.1.1

              I was replying to Draco and his argument that suggests in order to have jobs we gotta be making more and more stuff.

              Of course his comment is actually showing that if you require jobs either be making stuff (suggested by Draco) or taking advantage of profitable opportunities (main stream economics) then any increase in efficiency results in fewer and fewer jobs being created over all.

              Fortunately there are many jobs which are valuable but meet neither of these criteria of making stuff or being profitable.

          • Draco T Bastard 1.2.2.1.2

            I kinda figure that there isn’t any more growth in the service industry either. In fact, I expect jobs there to decline quite rapidly over the next few years.

            Stores will be online and automated so a reduction in store people. You’ll need technicians to maintain them but that’s likely to be one technician to 100+ stores. Although there will be, until driverless vehicles are the delivery vehicle, an increase in drivers I don’t think that that increase will be as much as the number of jobs lost. Flow on effects as will be loss of jobs at gas stations as people no longer go shopping in their cars.

            I expect tax returns will, eventually, be fully automated as well so goodbye to tax accountants and tax lawyers.

            Talking about lawyers, AI tech is getting good enough to read legislation and previous cases now so even in the justice system we could, potentially, see a decrease in personnel there as well.

            Producing burgers can already be done fully automatically so we can expect to see a reduction of staff there as well. University students getting jobs at Maccers will become a thing of the past – they’ll want well trained techs and not untrained and inexperienced kids. Considering the increased competition we can expect those well trained and experienced techs getting minimum wage under the current system.

            All of this applies across the board:

            Rolls Royce is preparing to go full steam ahead with its plans for futuristic cargo ships that can sail in open waters without a crew.

            The British manufacturer is working on a collaborative multimillion-euro project known as the Advanced Autonomous Waterborne Applications Initiative (AAWA) to effect a sea change in maritime transportation.

            • KJT 1.2.2.1.2.1

              I am not really concerned about unmanned ships.

              Especially with Rolls/Royce controls! Cheap crap.

              They cannot even make a ship that can run unattended overnight, let alone across an ocean.

            • miravox 1.2.2.1.2.2

              “I kinda figure that there isn’t any more growth in the service industry either”

              It depends what you mean by services. Product shopping changes from physical to virtual space reduces some types of employment, yes, but there also seems to be a limitless imagination for new services e.g. those based on wellness, the fashion industry and cultural expectations of beauty. The well-being and grooming industries seem to be well in vogue right now.

        • The New Student 1.2.2.2

          +1
          Economists and the like could learn a lot from some E. coil growing in a flask

          • Colonial Viper 1.2.2.2.1

            Can we then feed them that e.coli. Just pretend the flask is full of instant noodles or something.

  1. Colonial Viper 2

    Obama, for all intents and purposes, carried on the war and droning policies of Bush, Guantanomo Bay remains open with dozens of innocents held for a decade, and continued the bailouts of the bankers instead of the people, sidelining Elizabeth Warren but keeping the ex Goldman Sachs executives around him.

    But yeah hes a good politician alright, a good PR front man and branding for the power elite, whose net wealth skyrocketed under Obama even as jobs, median incomes and savings stagnated or declined under his administration.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 2.1

      🙄

      • Colonial Viper 2.1.1

        And what good is a constitutional scholar who lectures about US history, but has abrogated the US constitution himself. As well as approving the use of US troops on the homeland against US citizens, which is clearly against Posse Commitatus.

        • Craig H 2.1.1.1

          Obama has attempted to close Guantanamo multiple times, but has been stymied by Congress each time, as they won’t approve a budget to close it, and keep approving budgets to run and staff it.

          • Colonial Viper 2.1.1.1.1

            Guantanamo is a military facility.

            The Joint Chiefs can order those prisoners shifted any time that Obama wants.

            • Craig H 2.1.1.1.1.1

              Not in breach of the law, though – if Congress have passed legislation preventing it, the chiefs shouldn’t follow unlawful orders.

          • b waghorn 2.1.1.1.2

            Since your an Obama cheer leader can you explain why he would have an old man murdered and dumped in the ocean ,instead of arrested and put on trial for mass murder.

            • Craig H 2.1.1.1.2.1

              Defending someone against unfair accusations is not cheerleading. Assuming you’re talking about Osama bin Laden, probably political expediency.

  2. Nic the NZer 3

    Maybe AD could have heeded these words before creating a ‘fact free’ hagiography to European institutions, where European institutions create no problems because all the problems they create are dismissed as irrelevant ‘economic’ issues?

    So there are in fact issues with large political institutions who pay most of their attention to elite concerns.

    But of course on Obamas record he talks a good game but actions speak louder than words… His record shows the political contributions he was elected on were well invested.

    • Ad 3.1

      Must’ve missed where I did that.

      You guys will look back in 2017 and realize Obama has been the hardest-left president the US has had since LBJ.

      • Colonial Viper 3.1.1

        Richard Nixon was more to the Left than LBJ by a significant distance.

        There is one good thing I will say about Obama – he learnt from the Libya debacle and has steadfastly refused to escalate in Syria like all the neocons are demanding he does.

  3. RedLogix 4

    A very timely and thoughtful piece Ad. Goodness knows we don’t always agree, but on this we’ve hit a convergence of thinking.

    Obama is absolutely right with this. Yes he has in many, many ways dissapointed, betrayed even, many progressive hopes and ideals. He has been far too close to Wall St and the elites he is talking about here. His record with the drone war is nothing to be proud of.

    Yet faced with a deeply obstructive, blatantly hostile GOP he never had much room to move. Witness the never-ending nightmare of gun violence in the USA, look at his heartfelt pleas to do something, anything to reduce it … and still the GOP remains unmoved. Ironically enough the way the US Constitution works is that the US President has relatively little power domestically if the Senate and Congress deny it to him, but has almost unlimited sway to launch military adventures anywhere in the world.

    The so-called ‘leader of the free world’ is in many ways a remarkable un-free man himself. As you say, it is often in the last year or so of their terms these shackles fall away and you see something more of the real person. Fundamentally I view Obama as a good man, thrust into an un-good role.

    We so often bang on about personalities in politics, while not paying enough attention to the systems, institutions and structures they are working in. The truth is that the system rejects kind decent men like Cunliffe, Corbyn and Sanders. The establishment recognises fundamental goodness in a person as a foreign body, and works tirelessly to reject them. Or if cannot outright expel them, it co-opts and corrupts them.

    • Draco T Bastard 4.1

      The truth is that the system rejects kind decent men like Cunliffe, Corbyn and Sanders. The establishment recognises fundamental goodness in a person as a foreign body, and works tirelessly to reject them. Or if cannot outright expel them, it co-opts and corrupts them.

      QFT

    • jcuknz 4.2

      The main problem Obama faces is that he is black, which raises the hackles of most of the GOP. If he was white he would make compromise work I am quite sure.

      • Colonial Viper 4.2.1

        Would Hilary Clinton have had an easier ride from the GOP if she had won? I can’t see it myself…

  4. dukeofurl 5

    Oh dear. Every conspiracy idea to the left of John Pilger will be on display here today.

    • Ad 5.1

      I know, but at the moment i’m enjoying cornering the statist go-kart into the drooping flower bed of the perfumed ultra-left. Its Good for them.

      • RedLogix 5.1.1

        Oh hell … I’ve NEVER typed this before … but I just choked on my morning coffee!! 🙂

  5. Adrian Thornton 6

    I like to judge people by their actions not their rhetoric, and in that light I won’t miss Obama one little bit, and either will most American workers or the poor, who haven’t been helped or supported by him, or his administration during his fruitless reign (unless you are in the wealthy class of course).
    A few concessions around the edges, but no real substantive changes domestically or internationally, & some would argue worse on this front.

    A small taste of the Obama years….

    Free Trade Under Obama (& H Clinton)
    FTA agreements in Columbia, Korea, Panama, that even at the time, was acknowledged as opening up huge tax havens for wealthy Americans.
    http://www.ibtimes.com/panama-papers-obama-clinton-pushed-trade-deal-amid-warnings-it-would-make-money-2348076
    As we speak, TPPA advocates want to try and force this agreement through congress during it’s ‘lame duck’ period
    http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/political/306796/will-us-approve-tpp-in-lame-duck-period
    Though this is unlikely as Clinton has opposed the proposed move, but let’s be very clear, Clinton is pro Free Trade, in all it’s forms, as her own CV well shows.

    Nuclear Arms under Obama.
    The USA is on the brink of developing small scale tactical nuclear weapons, that the military are hoping can be deployed in conventional type battle situations.
    The US now has a 30 year Trillion dollar nuclear programme under way.
    http://www.democracynow.org/2016/4/14/a_new_nuclear_arms_race_builds
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/apr/01/obama-claims-nuclear-weapons-reductions-start-treaty
    Less than a 5% reduction in Nuclear warheads under Obama.

    International Security under Obama.
    US led NATO cold war type military build up and exercises around Russia.
    http://sputniknews.com/us/20160301/1035559132/obama-.html
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/12142645/Mounting-concerns-over-return-to-Cold-War-style-troop-build-up-in-Europe.html

    Lets not even start on the Middle East, and Africa.

    So what that Obama comes out when it doesn’t matter, and utters a few honest words for a change? what about action for working people or the poor..none, just another neo con centrist, wall st, shill, and most probably just like Clinton to come.

    Politicians like Obama are in the long game, more dangerous than Bush.
    Because at least with Bush, everybody knows who the enemy is.

    • RedLogix 6.1

      I like to judge people by their actions not their rhetoric,

      I’ll bet you like judging yourself by your own intentions, and not how they never quite work out the way you hoped.

      • Vinnie 6.1.1

        Individuals are in a unique position to judge their own intentions, that’s true. It’s an uncontroversial point however that we judge someone’s ability to do a job on their record

      • Adrian 6.1.2

        Well as I am not the leader of the most powerful nation on the planet, I hardly think your comment is relevant to the subject we are discussing.

      • Siobhan 6.1.3

        I often make mistakes and stuff up my best intentions…it’s one of the reasons I’ve never run for the office of Prime Minister.
        Do you not think we should expect a teeny tiny bit more from the ‘Leader of the Free World” than we do from ourselves??
        Really, If Obama didn’t want to be judged he should have kept out of World Politics and then he would only have Michelle and the kids to answer to.

        • RedLogix 6.1.3.1

          And I guess this is where I’m different to a lot of people, I’m happy to expect and ask for better from people, and I hold them in withering contempt when they know better and deliberately chose lessor.

          But I’ve also lived enough life to know that none of us are Superman, none of us is perfect, and every flaw, failure and fuckup you ever encounter in another person, is lying latent in all of us. The thing we hate in others, is often nothing more than a dim view in a dark mirror. It only takes the wrong thing to happen and none of us know for certain what we might do.

          I always keep in mind a line from a once very well-known Auckland barrister Mike Bungay; who in an interview with Kim Hill years ago said something like “85% of murders are committed by ordinary people who found themselves in extra-ordinary circumstances they did not know how to deal with”. Does this mean he was condoning or forgiving murder? Of course not, but I always found it a thought which tempered a rush to judgement.

          • Adrian 6.1.3.1.1

            Yes I guess we are quite different, I do hold people who seek and obtain power that effects the very life of our planet to a very high account, and most certainly higher than some person who just happens to end up in some extra ordinary circumstances in their private life.
            I have lived enough life, to have come to this understanding.

  6. Pat 7

    to frame globalisation as a force for good is a clever and disingenuous ploy…who could argue against raising the worlds poor out of poverty and enabling education and opportunity for them.

    How is this to be achieved and who benefits the most is unspoken…globalisation seeks a leveling of the price of labour (downwards in the wealthy west) and a means to overcome demographic imbalances for the benefit of the few……great if you’re one of the few, no so much if you are not.

    And to achieve this lofty goal we must destroy the planet….brilliant.

    • RedLogix 7.1

      The short answer is to set about doing the job properly. The world we live in now is fundamentally different to the one Queen Victoria lived in. We take for granted open travel, transport, communication, and whole rafts of standards, mechanisms, policies and institutions enable the relatively free movement of people, capital, ideas and information.

      What we don’t have is universal human rights, human dignity, human equality, nor any effective political mechanisms to hold this global machinery to democratic accountability.

      • Greg 7.1.1

        Queen Victoria era is the Tories golden times, they want to recreate it.
        Its self evident in most of the National party policy.

      • Colonial Viper 7.1.2

        The top 20% of the world take those things you listed for granted. Travel, technology, etc. No one else does.

      • Nic the NZer 7.1.3

        This kind of attitude is what is being addressed by 1.2.

        There are perfectly functional political institutions to address the economic trends of globalisation. The issue is that they are not doing their job its hardly that they can’t do their job. And the issue politically is there is scant recognition of this with many mainstream politicians excusing the status quo with excuses to the effect of claiming there is nothing we can do about it.

        • Colonial Viper 7.1.3.1

          not only are they “not doing their job” they have in many cases been thoroughly co-opted or compromised.

        • Draco T Bastard 7.1.3.2

          There are perfectly functional political institutions to address the economic trends of globalisation.

          No there isn’t. The institutions we have are actually making it worse as they work more and more in favour of the rich.

      • Draco T Bastard 7.1.4

        The world we live in now is fundamentally different to the one Queen Victoria lived in.

        Actually, the world and its limits are the same. The problem is that the politicians, the economists and the RWNJs don’t recognise those limits.

        What we don’t have is universal human rights, human dignity, human equality, nor any effective political mechanisms to hold this global machinery to democratic accountability.

        Which, of course, is what the deregulation of the last few decades has been all about.

    • Ad 7.2

      Obama isn’t proposing to save the planet. Not even Captain America does that.

      As for raising most of the world out of poverty, that indeed is hard to argue with.

      • Greg 7.2.1

        Its okay for the elite if they cant save the planet, theres the secret moon base to escape too.

      • Pat 7.2.2

        “Obama isn’t proposing to save the planet. Not even Captain America does that.”

        Thats odd, i thought all the signatories to COP21 were…my mistake

        “As for raising most of the world out of poverty, that indeed is hard to argue with.’

        It is, depending on how its achieved and what you replace it with

        • Ad 7.2.2.1

          COP 21 is non-binding.

          How you get there is different to whether you got there.

          • Pat 7.2.2.1.1

            “How you get there is different to whether you got there.”

            Different yes ….and an important difference…we could eradicate poverty tomorrow by executing everyone deemed impoverished….is that a solution?

      • Colonial Viper 7.2.3

        Raising the world out of poverty? You can’t be falling for that old trope, surely. The poorest get a few drippings off the table while the top 1% use them as plantation wage slaves to help rake in half the planets wealth for themselves: and you consider this PR a valid moral justification?

  7. Bill 8

    So let’s summarise this.

    Obama is saying it’s time to loosen the screws a bit.

    What’s interesting is what Obama isn’t saying – there is absolutely no question that the economy should be viewed through a chrematistic lens – ie, roughly speaking, that everything should be ordered according the shake out that occurs from the making of money.

    That leaves economists very much in charge and politicians in the sole position of convincing us to dance to the tune that the economists are playing. And Obama, as his role dictates, makes a fair go of doing just that.

  8. Coreyhumm 9

    Lol another post about how wonderful globalism and the elites who have ignored the working class for nearly 40 years are oh wonderful so many Tories in red ties these days…. This is why left wing parties no longer can connect at all with the working class and why in November, Trump will be elected President out of anger with the status quo

    Brexit taught us the unwashed masses don’t want a bar of what you’re selling.

    If the left continue to push elistist neolibs on the people they’ll vote for the ignorant isolationist just to stick it to the elitist left.

    Also Obama isn’t a good guy, he’s a bad guy, he’s bombed more people than Bush, he’s deported more people than all presidents combined his treatment of whistle blowers, and economic policies are neoliberal and right wing to the core same as Hillary Clinton and I for one think the us election will be a kind of referendum on globalism and neo liberalism and the globalists wowon’t win.

  9. Colonial Viper 10

    by the way, the power elite arent “taking” over the world; they finished doing that in the 70s and 80s.

    • Ad 10.1

      Define elite.

      • Colonial Viper 10.1.1

        Multi billion dollar hedge fund managers. The boards of directors of Northrup Grumman and Boeing. The top tier hierarchy at the NSA and CIA. Jamie Dimon and the rest of the investment banking elite. The senior neocons. These and the other attendees at Bildergberg meetings.

        • Ad 10.1.1.1

          I’m guessing that you’re saying that their cumulative effect is the same on the world, even if their tasks, drivers, and reporting lines are different.

          Which is possible.
          We proles probably look exactly the same to them!

          • Colonial Viper 10.1.1.1.1

            Big Oil and Big Motors bought up and tore up all the tram way lines in LA. Sounds like a conspiracy theory, except it happened.

            The strait jacket that our society finds itself in is not comprised of just one binding or just one buckle.

            • Ad 10.1.1.1.1.1

              I really can’t figure out now whether agency – the capacity of people to change stuff – is on the whole increasing or decreasing. For every decline in voting and democracy so beloved of the left, there are huge waves of greater personalized connectivity and agency popping up taking new generations by storm.

              One group’s conspiracy is another group’s plan.

              Over the weekend I’ll start having a look at whether we really are at another “yawn” End Of History moment – except this time about the collapse of the “Liberal World Order”.

              And I’ll try to keep it under 300 words. For the kids 😉

              • Colonial Viper

                there are huge waves of greater personalized connectivity and agency popping up taking new generations by storm.

                That’s what it looks like on (corporate owned and controlled) social media. But who holds the levers of financial capital? The military industrial surveillance complex? The energy infrastructure of our nations?

                Has the Granny Herald on the Dom Post suddenly given new voice to the impoverished and marginalised?

                It ain’t these peaceniks pushing “like” on Face Book who own the establishment levers of power.

  10. Aaron 11

    I get what you’re trying to say but this bit is just wrong:

    “…global elites have been inattentive to the issues of wages, incomes, and opportunity for ordinary people.”

    Global elites have been VERY attendant to these issues — which is why they’ve all declined over the last 30 years

    In any case, Obama is smart enough to know what he can and can’t get away with saying – so yes, he understands the issues but clearly lacks the power to do much about them (despite being the highest ranking politician on the planet).

    • Ad 11.1

      For a president who has neither House aligned with him, he’s done OK.
      You’ll realize how leftie he was soon enough.

      I would love someone to do a decent post explaining to me what all these elites are. Either in the full wing-nut conspiracy version about the Bilderberg-intermarried-interowned-CIA-KGB thing thing, or in just a couple of little bites at the cherry.

      • Crashcart 11.1.1

        I think the mistake you are making is assuming that this is some vast designed conspiracy. It is more along the lines of people with wealth using wealth to improve upon their own position and thereby increase their wealth.

        It’s not like they are getting together in smoky rooms and coming up with plans to best fuck over the working man cause they is just evil. They use money personally to influence policy in a manner that benefits them. Occasionally when interests align they will work together to achieve a goal. In the end most of these guys would happily screw over another just to improve their own situation. Just as they happily screw over those with less money.

        Those are the elites. Those whose voice by virtue of money far exceeds the individual voice of any normal member of society.

        • Ad 11.1.1.1

          No you won’t see me going all Doom-Cult on elites or whatever.
          And you sure won’t see me over-subscribing to their collective force.
          I was being polite to Aaron, which is where your comment is better directed.

        • mikes 11.1.1.2

          “It’s not like they are getting together in smoky rooms and coming up with plans…”

          So what’s discussed at Bilderberg Group meetings then?

  11. “Of course, he’s come to the end of his two terms and is somewhat freer in naming the powers. There’s little more he can do to further burnish his historical place. But at minimum it shows that good politicians when considering the economy can make the right links, focus on where the power is and where it needs redistributing to, and be mindful of the historical shoulders he’s standing on. You just don’t often see it in print, as a verbatim conversation. Compared to what passes for joining the dots in our current parliament, I think I’m going to miss him.”

    Or maybe he just understands in great detail exactly who he’s been pissing on.

  12. Olwyn 13

    Obama to me epitomises a problem with the official left – he says the right things but he lacks hunger. When I see him making a speech on something like the availability of guns, he seems more like a news anchor doing an opinion piece than a president. Yes, he has the congress against him, I accept that, but there is still none of the drive and resourcefulness you see in someone who is determined to find a way through. This kind of determination has become the province of the right, and is not nearly so evident on our side – not nearly enough “They hate me and I welcome their hatred” attitude. They make moves, we make pleas. I hope the movements behind Sanders and Corbyn continue to build force, whatever happens in the short term.

    • GregJ 13.1

      That is a very astute observation Olwyn.

      In a sense it is like the religious Reformation and the Counter-Reformation of the 16th Century.

    • Colonial Viper 13.2

      Look at what happens to Obama when he makes a campaign speech about Trump. And the teleprompter goes down.

      • Ad 13.2.1

        Definitely a set-piece guy.

        Best POTUS off-the-cuff in my lifetime was Clinton.
        That guy could play an audience like a black grand piano.

      • Olwyn 13.2.2

        Oh dear, so he’s even more like a news anchor than I thought 🙂

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