Thursday, February 21, 2013
The Big picture
I've tried writing this post a couple of times in the past, hoping largely that I was mistaken in it's general premise. But time and time again it's shown that I'm not...
So to begin. I do get asked a lot why I seem to have a very strong interest in world (particularly US) politics and news. It's hard to explain but I think it happened at 11/9/2001; I was always interested in world events but the events in New York and Washington DC made me realize acutely that we live a much wider and more connected world than many people think. As we have made distance smaller via technology events now occur on a much larger stage; yet we all like to think that our corner of the world is a special unique snowflake. We do like to think that global trends and issues won't affect us here in the great southern land, the GFC is a fine example. We still have conservative politicians who refuse to admit that in 2007-2008 the rest of the world suffered an enormous financial collapse that has left the US, UK and Europe fighting off recession still to this day and that this may affect what is happening here in Australia.
What happens else-ware echoes here, the same ideas are quickly picked up and adopted by people connected intellectually or financially to those using those ideas else ware. Understanding what ideas are being pushed in the halls of power overseas (particularly in the US as despite many people's pleading they are our closest cultural exchange for political ideas. We haven't imported much European political thought since the 1970s and British since Hawke came to power even though some of the old British dynamics still exist in Sydney in particular) will often show us what our political class's next move is.
Since the last Federal election both sides have heavily borrowed from their political kin in the US. Labor has long worked along the "center left" paradigm that Bill Clinton created in the 1990s and Tony Blair borrowed in the UK; the so called "centrist" movement that still seeks in the US to marry the Left's social concern and corporatist economics. The Right on the other hand has started sipping from the tea brewed in the US quite regularly, so much so that so many of the shadow treasurer's policy explanations could come out of the mouths of a Paul Ryan or Mitt Romney. "We are going to grow the pie" "A rising tide lifts all ships" etc etc All standard supply side talking points.
Oh and this from economics reporters in our so called "lefty" newpaper:
(I'm not linking to the article as I don't want to provide this tripe with clicks)
We have an instinct here in Australia to see ourselves as the great island nation, separate from the rest of the world by sea and time. That stopped being the case a long time ago, but it is a mode of thinking useful to those who wish to exploit the idea that we are a "special case" to sell us what is often already been shown else ware to be a fraudulent bill of goods.
That's why I can tell you why the US postal service is in financial strife (having to fund pensions 70years in advance and a law requiring congress to approve increases in the cost of postage) and the year that took effect (1996 in a lame duck session) and why I feel it is important to know this stuff to understand not only what is happening in Australian politics; but what will happen next.
Even though I , like many other "lefties", have great issues with the currant government this perspective presents to me the same choices as US citizens faced last year; and why I have to support Labor against a batshit insane opposition. If anybody in the ALP campaign should ever want to take heed of my advise and perspective on these issues I give you one pro tip. Tie the opposition to the GOP in the US; we have already seen links coming to the surface and from local consumption of "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert report" as well as stuff I have seen many people tweet and wall post Australians are fearful of that brand of Conservatism. It's why we think Yanks are idiots in many cases that they allow these "crazy people" into office, but by our polling we are about to do what the "Yanks" refused to do and grant these people power.