Third Party

Tom Friedman opines in New York Times that the US needs a Third Party, which he finds rising. People talk.

Washington, DC

Yes we need a third party, for sure!

However, a 3rd party will NOT solve our problems. America is destined to Roman era decline, only at light speed! Before we can begin to solve problems we must first understand the problems.

Problem #1 = Democracy. Too many people with too many unfounded opinions, too many vested interests, too many defacto legally created monopolies, with too many dreams, goals and aspirations all willing to step on the backs of others to achieve their goals!

Problem #2 = Economics. Poor resource distribution. Income and expenses are totally out of kilter! Economics as a science is sophisticated dogma at best, and as conjured-up in America, fails to paint a true and accurate picture of our economic world, resource base, wealth creation opportunities and wealth distribution.

Problem #3 - America has zero ability to compete globally. We are destined to become a nation of burger flippers.

Problem #4 - Mediocre legal and judicial system that enforces our totally dysfunctional system. Restrictive practices in the professions, trades etc. all intended to benefit a few at the expense of the many.

Problem #5 - Every new law is designed to carve out a niche of protected activity for some special interest sector of society!

Problem #6 - A huge population of know nothings. Even those with top educations often know little to nothing! An educational system from kindergarten up to graduate school that deserves nothing but shame!

Problem #7 - A body politic that is second to none in terms of personal selfishness, foolishness and short sightedness!

Problem #8 - A military hegemon that has few true friends on the planet that has created the conditions for about 5 billion people, or barbarians in Roman speak, to one day crash down our gates and enslave the American population. From the vantage point of God's accounting ledgers, one would say, and deservedly so!

So, with all of these problems there is only one real solution. Only one possible way to right these wrongs. Only one possible way to harness the once mighty American industrial machine. This way is NOT found in voting nor democracy nor elections, nor congress, legislators, governors, judges or county clerks...

One fears that those who so strongly urged George Washington to claim a crown, to forgo democracy, who foresaw the folly of democracies will be proven unquestionably correct!

You want real leadership then our answers lie in benevolent dictatorships! Many will recognize this leader as a Philosopher King. Ronald Dworkin once gave us the idea of the all knowing, timeless intellectual giant that could pounder the rubrics of our time and lead us to just and fair results.

For those fearful of the yoke they will shout DICTATORSHIP or DICTATORSHIP of the proletariat! How much would our lives really change? China developed state backed capitalism? It is time for peaceful revolution. Americans are cows. They can be lead to the bolt gun with easy credit!

Philosopher King? Yes who would make a good Philosopher King?

Washington, DC

Tulsa, OK

"I’ve just spent a week in Silicon Valley, talking with technologists from Apple, Twitter, LinkedIn, Intel, Cisco and SRI..."

The level of disgust goes beyond the two party system. It extends to the boardrooms of corporate America. The executives who run American companies no longer care about this country or its workers. If their bonuses can be made bigger by laying off people, outsourcing jobs, and closing factories, then that's exactly what they'll do. These CEO's have long since stopped identifying the future of their companies with the future of America.

Stop your schoolgirl gushing over the wizards of Silicon Valley. Those people care not one whit about America. Don't believe me? How about asking John Chambers, CEO of Cisco, about this remark of his:

"What we're trying to do is outline an entire strategy of becoming a Chinese company."

These same companies claim, and you gullibly swallow hook, line, and sinker, the ludicrous proposition that America doesn't produce enough math and engineering students. Microsoft, IBM, HP wring their hands and say they are forced to shift jobs to India and China. They have no choice but to lobby Congress for more H1-B foreign workers. And you, Mr. Friedman, repeat this canard ad nauseum in column after column. But the reality is quite different as Hal Salzman, professor of public policy at the E.J. Bloustein School and the J.J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University, stated in The Times on September 14:

"Moreover, there is neither a shortage of U.S. students who are world-class in their educational performance nor of college graduates with science and engineering degrees. The U.S. can claim the lion’s share of the world’s highest performing (domestic) science students and continues to graduate more than two times the number of scientists and engineers than are hired each year."

See? American companies and their clueless media marionettes are selling out America. They are chewing up and spitting out the middle class.

Yes, we are fed up with Washington? But we are scared stiff about the creeping corporatocracy that the media (they are Big Business too!) so glibly ignores. As Jeff Faux of the Economic Policy Institute so rightly points out:

"But I think for most politicians economic theory conveniently rationalized their support of the interests of corporate CEOs over their workers. Remember, over the last 30 years, the share of campaign contributions representing big business has grown dramatically -- as has the number of ex-administration officials and members of Congress who go to work for corporations as employees, consultants, and lobbyists."

Robert Henry Eller
Milan, Italy

If wishes were fishes.

Sorry, Mr. Friedman. But it only costs corporate America and other special interests about $5 billion annually to but the entire Federal Government. In a $14 trillion economy, that's chump change (and guess who the chumps are?).

The same small group of political financiers can easily up their budget to either compromise any third (or fourth) party, or simply bury it with increased support for their current stooges. No problem.

It doesn't matter whether we have one party (as we do now) or five. The only thing that matters is if most voters learn to vote their own interests, and we find a way to ensure that elected officials actually work for those who voted for them. Assuming we still have a one-person-one-vote democracy.

What we need is a non-corporate media, and a buy-proof government. Not easy. But that would be a revolution.

Pasadena, CA

The analogy to Roman history is false. The cause of the Roman decline
was the elimination of the peasant farmer on the Italian peninsula and
the incorporation of these small farmers' land into the large estates
of the rich. These small farmers had been where Rome had drawn its
legions, which were unparalleled for a period of four hundred years (200BC to 200AD)--as Gibbons notes, the legions of the 3rd and 4th century were no match for those of two hundred years earlier.

The analogy to the current American situation is obvious. The peasant farmers were the equivalent of today's middle class, which is under unrelenting attack from the wealthy. Contrary to Friedman's complaints about the "far left" and corporate taxation, the primary diversion of corporate funds from innovation and investment is through the huge sums paid to corporate officers and continual demands for increased returns for capital through rising share prices and dividends. This has lead to an unprecedented accumulation of income to the nation's top one percent--24% of the nation's income. This group, having grabbed such a large share, wants more--and the only way that can come about is through further evisceration of the middle class.

Friedman should know that the longest sustained prosperity in this country's history was in the post-war era, when government programs were designed to enlarge and enrich the middle class (GI Bill, FHA, etc). Now, the three largest middle class expenditures, education, health care and housing, have gone through the roof. The economic downturn has
removed many from the middle class and made the remainder fearful of
arguing for any increase in their compensation.

The secret to America's economic revival is programs that revitalize
the middle class. It is no accident that northern European economies are doing better than ours, as they have strong policies to protect
the middle class (and one can be a manual worker in those countries and still be in the middle class). Friedman's complaints about the American economic system primarily reflect the capture of the political system by those with high incomes and a desire to maintain them--after all, nearly all of the contributions to political candidates comes from the top 1%. This is the "other election" that each Congressman/Senator must win every week (ten to twenty thousand dollars a week (or more!) for those in competitive races, which is now a large fraction of the Congress).
Until sufficient money is returned to the middle class for their labors the US will suffer from underconsumption and diminished economic returns for labor. Businesses aren't hiring because there aren't people to buy their goods.

Patrice Ayme
High Mountains Somewhere

The real infrastructure stimulus of Obama was 50 billion dollars spread over two years (the rest compensated for the collapse of state spending and the like). That's all.

By comparison, that was exactly the size of the French infrastructure stimulus spent in 2009 alone.

By a further, and more illuminating comparison the bank bonuses were 150 billion dollars in the USA in 2009 alone. Those bonuses were made possible, in several ways, only by general taxpayers.

So who is been made into a laughing stock by Obama?

The USA two party system is one party removed from dictatorship. Why should it be an institution? All European democracies have at least three parties (the UK), and sometimes much more. The two existing parties in the USA are two aspects of the same plutocratic party. Obama has been governing like what passes for a moderate republican nowadays, somewhere right of Nixon. So it is during collapse: yesterday's abyss is today's moderation.

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