Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

JLT, Re: Alex Jones, "How the elite control politics."

  What is needed then is an up-to-date understanding of the free-market prime directive: let the buyer beware.

Alex Jones here describes the 2-party system as a "very strong, stable system." But the case that he makes is only that it is stronger and more stable than a one-party system over the long run. It appears to offer a mode of succession that is preferable to the coups, assassinations and civil wars that are common when the dictator dies or falls out of favour.

But the "royal arch" he describes, as any football player will know, is easily toppled by a force applied along a line perpendicular to the left-right axis. American democracy would be improved by a third party or even more. The Canadian and Israeli examples raise other questions about real representation.

On the other hand, some here argue that the Chinese Communist Party method of succession saves money by avoiding costly and largely useless elections.

A real discourse about democratic refom that goes beyond simple STV partisanship by a party on the outside wanting to get in would go a long way toward loosening up ground that has been frozen for decades by dogmatic ideologies.

Jones's argument against the carbon tax is that people who support a carbon tax "lack the documents." Presumably he has them, but doesn't present them here.

Moreover, both Obama and Harper are on record as supporting a "cap-and-trade" system. Neoliberals of both the neocon and the true dithering liberal varieties have learned that taxation isn't popular. But side-bet paper-trading scams like junk bonds and vulture funds are proven money-making innovations, i.e, you can get away with them during the wait-and-see period. Carbon trading is the emerging replacement in this category for sub-prime mortgages. It won't reduce emissions but it will help reconstruct the short-term illusion of prosperity as an indicator that our "democracy" is succeeding. Day-trading, mergers, and golden-bucket bailouts are expected to help too. So far, no one is proposing to put any of the innovative crooks behind bars.

What is needed then is an up-to-date understanding of the free-market prime directive: let the buyer beware.

Homework: For a good warmup, pick a financial "innovation." Make a list of the real costs, and see if you can find any real benefit at all.
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