Natural and unnatural disasters


Australia (Photo credit: Kenny Teo (zoompict))

What is an unnatural disaster? It is a natural disaster made much worse by the actions or lack thereof of conservatives in government.

Case in point, the fires near Sydney, Australia, in New South Wales state. It is spring Down Under during a prolonged drought and not yet the summer and fall high season for wildfires. The thinking person’s response would be to increase fire preparedness. Is that what the conservative government of NSW did? No, they cut the fire prevention budget for no good reason. The Great Recession in Australia is over, defeated several years ago by the traditional Keynesian remedy of adequate stimulus by the national government. Something that hasn’t happened here because the GOP are punishing us for electing Barack Obama in 2008 and re-electing him in 2012.

Another case in point, the destruction of New Orleans in 2005 by Katrina. We are now 8 years after that event and New Orleans still has not recovered. George W. Bush knew that the levees needed to be strengthened and he did nothing for 4.5 years, spending money on dredging a seldom used canal rather than budgeting for levee maintenance in New Orleans. Conservatives tend to be penny-wise and pound-foolish when it comes to government spending for the common good. Today, they decry the national debt when they should be stimulating the economy to increase economic activity and increase tax receipts. But that would redound to President Obama’s credit and they cannot abide that.

No news is no news

Flooded I-10/I-610 interchange and surrounding...

Flooded I-10/I-610 interchange and surrounding area of northwest New Orleans and Metairie, Louisiana (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Have you ever noticed how little information there is in the “news?” Traditional news on TV and other media is spectacle and entertainment, designed not to inform, but to garner ratings and advertising dollars. Car chases are a big deal in cities, but who really cares to watch the police do their job apprehending a solitary driver?

When Katrina happened, we were in Northern California on vacation. The networks focused on interviewing individuals trapped in New Orleans to show the human side of the tragedy, but a task that required no real effort on their part. I turned to PBS for information and in one thirty minute segment, I was informed about what was really happening in New Orleans. The networks could inform the public if they chose, but the owners of the media and the 1% mostly don’t want an informed electorate. It’s easier to get what they want if the rest of us don’t know what is happening. So to them, no news is truly good news.

Debt and deficits

The red "GOP" logo used by the party...

The red “GOP” logo used by the party for its website (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What do debt, as in national debt, and deficits have in common, besides both beginning with the letters “DE?” I think that many Americans are confused about the difference and the media and the GOP are doing nothing to clarify the difference. If the Federal government spends more than it takes in in revenue, the difference is a deficit and that adds to the national debt, which we owe mostly to ourselves. The only way to reduce the national debt is to take in more revenue than we spend as a nation, run a surplus in other words.

The best way to reduce deficits and thereby reduce the national debt is to stimulate the economy to produce more jobs and thereby more tax revenue. Austerity does not work, just ask the European nations who have tried it since the crash of 2007, England, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece. The nations of the Common Market, European Union, that embraced austerity as a solution did so at the urging of German bankers who wanted their loans repaid in full. Now Germany is finding that austerity by its customers reduces its ability to sell German products and that hurts Germany itself.

Here in the US, the GOP are selling austerity because some of the most conservative among them believe that it is morally the correct solution. In other words, don’t help the less fortunate among us because their misfortune is their own fault. They chose to be born to poor parents or they decided to be poor in New Orleans or they decided to live along the New Jersey shore and should have been better prepared for a hurricane. They are the true believers.

Those members of the GOP who are not true believers, but are more politically motivated, are selling austerity as a solution to the nation’s problems because it will only hurt the 99%, not themselves or the 1%. They believe that another 2 or 4 years of economic pain will cause American voters to turn to the GOP for relief. In other words, they expect voters to reward them for all the grief that they have caused or will continue to cause if we let them. And the corporate media are shirking their responsibility under the Constitution to inform the electorate. Shame on them.

The Mitt Romney Hour

Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts,...

Image via Wikipedia

The Saturday night GOP debate lasted 90 minutes, but it was devoted mostly to Mitt Romney. I watched the game between Detroit and New Orleans and switched to the debate during commercials and between plays. Whenever I tuned to the debate, Mitt was speaking, or had just spoken or was about to speak. I think that the networks should position the candidates on stage according to a draw, rather than follow the polls and position the leaders in center stage, giving the polls additional importance that they do not deserve. This time it was obvious to me that there are two serious candidates, Jon and Ron, and four phonies, Mitt, Rick, Rick and Newt.