Archives for posts with tag: Populism

Să fie oare întâmplător faptul că noi suntem singura țară din lume unde Libertatea, și Adevărul, se vând la tarabă? Pe sume modice?

Să depășim momentul…

Unii sunt ‘îngroziți’ de apariția noii formațiuni politice. Atât de îngroziți încât se gândesc dacă nu cumva ar fi cazul să ceară – în justiție, desființarea partidului.
Alții, din considerente politice – din diverse considerente cât se poate de ‘politice’, doar că genul ăsta de ‘politică’ nu mai are demult de a face cu ‘funcționarea cetății’, se ascund după cireș.

Tocmai ce am citit, pe FB, o analiză mai echilibrată a situației. Aveți linkul aici, chiar merită citită.
https://www.facebook.com/radu.umbres/posts/10161494904682228

“Am intalnit destul de des comparatii intre AUR si Miscarea Legionara, intre George Simion si Corneliu Zelea Codreanu. Deseori aceste legaturi sunt facute pentru a trage un semnal de alarma despre extremismul AUR (antisemitism, sovinism, ultratraditionalism, etc), adica sunt partizane si instrumentale.”

Radu Umbreș, identifică în continuare o serie de asemănări și de deosebiri. Făcând, prin aceasta, o convingătoare invitație către o discuție mai aprofundată. Dincolo de calculele ‘politice’ insăilate de diverși ‘instrumentalizatori’. N-am să mă apuc să reiau idelile lui, sunt la doar un click distanță.

Am să vă fac părtași doar la comentariul meu.
De, blogul meu, comentariul meu…

„De acod cu aproape toate asemanarile si cu mare parte dintre deosebiri.
As puncta totusi o asemanare ‘deosebita’.
Asteptarile oamenilor.
Analiza de mai sus este cat se poate de obiectiva. Doar ca noi, oamenii, suntem mai degraba rationalizatori decat rationali. Gandim, si actionam, mai degraba dupa cum credem noi ca este/ar trebui sa fie decat dupa cum este ‘in realitate’.
Adica actionam dupa cum este in realitatea fiecaruia dintre noi, nu dupa cum este in realitatea ‘obiectiva’. In cea calculata ca medie a celor ce se intampla in societate.
Discutia e lunga, si poate chiar ‘tehnica’, doar ca din anumite puncte de vedere situatia e mai groasa acum decat pe vremea mai sus mentionata. Sau nu mai ‘groasa’ cat mai complicata. Pe vrema aia, era un numar relativ mic de oameni care aveau habar de cele ce se intamplau in afara ‘bulei’ lor. Si care aveau asteptari ce nu puteau fi indeplinite in conditiile date. O parte dintre ei au devenit legionari, altii comunisti. Unii, destul de multi, chiar au trecut dintr-o parte in alta.
Acum e alta situatie. Aproape toata lumea are internet. Adica pareri. Dar prea putini mai au sperante. Iar comunismul si-a aratat deja limitele.”

Lectură suplimentară:

https://spotmedia.ro/stiri/opinii-si-analize/adevarul-nesuferit-despre-george-simion-si-aur

And no, this is no joke! Alas…

Populism is scientific because its ‘adepts’ have a very rational behavior and use scientific tools to increase the appeal of their public messages.
And, on the other hand, populism is scientific because its advent is perfectly explainable given what we currently know. About our society, about our brains, about our psychology….

Let me start from the beginning.
In Thomas Kuhn’s terms, the last 60 or so years have witnessed a tremendous paradigm shift.
Science has replaced religion as the main paradigm and ‘religion’ has been demoted to  ‘religions’.

Science becoming the main paradigm means that we have grown confident about our knowledge. We might be aware that we don’t know everything yet but we continue to believe that we’re able to learn everything. That if we are diligent enough we’ll sometimes be able to look under every rock that is.
This attitude has led us to search for ‘perfection’. ‘Efficiency’ has displaced ‘redemption’. We have ceased our quest for salvation and are now obsessed with ‘buy low, sell high’. In other words, ‘make the most of it but strain yourself as little as possible’.

Which makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it?

A lot of sense… mainly when you no longer perceive the guy next to you as being a full-fledged member of your community. Your religious community, that is. Of your church.

You see, ever since Emil Durkheim, the sociologists have been aware that religion was not so much a story about the making of the world as a ‘common ground’. The ‘common core’ shared by the members of a given community. Which ‘common core’ makes it possible for those who share it to have respect. For themselves and for the other faithful members of the community. By sharing that common core, the individuals find their bearings in the ‘wide, wide world’ and, thus, know how to behave relative to their ‘neighbors’. With enough mutual respect among the individual members that the community is able to function. To survive, that is.

We no longer have that kind of community.
Our primary allegiance is no longer towards ‘church’. Most of us consider themselves primarily as members of a nation – something governed more by formal laws than by public sentiment, and only secondarily – if at all, as members of a ‘religious’ community.

Now, putting two and two together, it’s very simple to understand that in the given circumstances ‘populism’ was inevitable, right?

Too many of the would be leaders have no qualms about how they get what they want.
Power.
‘Buy low, sell high’ is the current mantra, remember? Accepted by all of us. Buyers, sellers, by-standards…
Too many members of the general public are willing to accept promises which are in line with their own expectations, even if those promises being put in practice means a lot of misery for OTHERS. Who cares about those others, anyway? They are not members of OUR ‘church’!

I’ll let you decide how sustainable is such a situation. I was going to use ‘community’ instead of ‘situation’ but it would have been horribly wrong. We no longer live in communities. We only happen to live in the same place.

For how long?

“If democracy and open societies depend on constantly providing their citizens with more wealth tomorrow than today, then the Western world — and soon enough the whole world — is in for tough times.” (Zachary Karabell, Forget Dow 20,000 — the Boom Times Are Over. Is Democracy Next?, Foreign Policy, 2017/01/26)

Shouldn’t we ‘back track’ and try to identify what and when, if any, we’ve done wrong before attempting to go any further?

The author identifies, with surgical precision, the stepping stones that have led us to where we are now.

We, in the West, have grown to associate material affluence with capitalism, democracy and liberalism.
In the process, we got “addicted” to a special kind of ‘economic growth’,  the one measured in monetary terms.Lately, after people no longer had as many children as they used to – which, supposedly, is going to hinder and eventually halt ‘economic’ growth, things are no longer seen in the same light.
The economic boom in China and recent developments in Philippines, Turkey and a few other places which “have seen a surge in nationalism of late, a questioning of democracy and skepticism about liberalism even as economic growth has been strong and deep”  are adding to the confusion.
Even “more surprising is the erosion of support for democracy and the norms of liberalism — even of capitalism — in the United States, France, Spain, Greece, and elsewhere”.

He also identifies, with equal precision, some of the barriers that prevent us from seeing the wider picture.

That we haven’t yet developed a clearer understanding of what liberalism and democracy might be. In his own words they still are “adolescent concepts relative to the tenure of recorded history”.
Then there is the matter of how we understand ‘economic’ growth.
“Politicians and governments rise and fall based on how successfully they have been seen to address the problem of wealth and jobs — not the problem of food, shelter, health, and quality of life.”
“we know no other way to assess economic strength and societal success except by the metric of growth. Three hundred ago, the metric was armies and territory. Today, it is GDP, jobs, and wages. You could craft a lovely society with zero growth, but nobody would believe it if GDP, jobs, and wages were shrinking and the rewards remained unevenly dispersed.”
And it’s not only a matter of understanding but also one of perception. “How people react to inequality is hardly straightforward; the populist wave that elected Trump doesn’t yet mind a billionaire cabinet. But the perception that some are reaping rewards at the expense of the many is deep and strong; that, too, was a line almost verbatim in Trump’s inaugural address.”
Which perception leads to a certain way of seeing things. “We clearly are able to provide basic material needs to everyone. But in the developed world, we are failing to provide a sense of security even while most people’s lives are de facto more secure.
On top of this, there is “anger”. Produced by the “evidence that we have the ability to meet our collective needs and wants” corroborated with the “ample evidence that many countries lack the political will or social consensus to make that happen”.

So, what next?

In Mr. Karrabell’s terms, we need to brush off skepticism, fear and anger – since they “are not themselves barometers of the future” – and …

“The greatest questions for the coming years is whether material stability is enough to mitigate against political chaos and societal decay.”

I’m sorry but I really don’t like this kind of ‘wait and see’ attitude.
It doesn’t make much sense to bother about something that will happen outside your sphere of influence, does it?
Place a bet, if you are a betting guy, and go back to whatever you might be able to actually do!

How about rephrasing that question?

What is it that might bring about the “political chaos and societal decay” we are so afraid of?

Now is the moment for me to make a confession.
I’ve altered, just a little bit, the narrative.
While Mr. Karrabell did mention “anger”, he only said about it that it was “evident” – without providing any cause for it. It was I who associated that anger with the “ample evidence that many countries lack the political will or social consensus” to “meet our collective needs and wants”.
The way I see it there is no way that any country might ‘meet our collective needs and wants’, no matter what amount of ‘political will or social consensus’ might be involved in the process. Not in the longer run, anyway.
All communist regimes – which were, declaratively, trying to accomplish exactly that – have failed. Abysmally.  Not because, in reality, all of them did nothing but cater for their ruling elite but because all of them used to be run according to a ‘central plan’.

And stop calling China a ‘communist’ regime. Or Vietnam, for that manner. As long as the ‘means of production’ are more or less private, and their owners free(ish) to use them as they see fit, those countries are not ‘communist’. They might not be entirely free but they are not at all ‘communist’. Venezuela, for instance, is a lot more ‘communist’ than China.

But let’s return to the countries that might attempt to make it so that ‘our collective needs are met’.
How are they going to do that?
First of all, those in charge – the government, right? – would have to determine what those ‘needs and wants’ are and only then make the necessary arrangements for them to be met. But not more than that, because that would be wasteful.

Do I hear any chuckles? You figured out that those ‘willing’ countries would have to use the same ‘central planning’ system that has already led to the failure of the communist regimes?

How about re-framing the whole situation?
How about the “ample evidence” mentioned by Mr. Karrabell suggesting that too many countries – including the one that has recently inaugurated Mr. Trump as President – no longer have “the political will or social consensus” to allow their citizens enough real freedom and enough real opportunities to pursue their own “needs and wants”? As they see fit?

Then shouldn’t we next try to understand the process through which the erstwhile ample opportunities have been curtailed?

As I mentioned before, I’m going to use the ‘back-walking’ method.

First step, anger. We really need to loose that. Nothing good ever came out of it.

Specially when considering the next steps, perception and understanding. If we allow anger to cloud our thinking both perception and understanding will yield errors instead of knowledge.

Which brings us to our obsession with (monetary measured) growth. Could this obsession be explained by the fact that money is the easiest thing to distribute but also the easiest thing to hoard? Panem and circenses eventually failed… Why do we still see hoarding money as a legitimate goal (after amassing more than one could ever spend, with the entire family, in a hundred years)… beats me.
But explains what’s going on.
As long as enough of us see hoarding money as a legitimate past-time, more and more people will engage in it. More exactly ‘try to engage’ in it. And this is the very behavior which produces ‘bubbles’. As in ‘market bubbles’. And, eventually, crashes.

But not only crashes. Misconceptions also.

“There is little evidence that democracy and liberalism (and capitalism) in their current form are the best or only conduit for providing for economic needs and wants for all. If they were, there would be less roiling discontent.”
My point being that none of those, in any form, are ‘conduits’ for anybody to provide, through them, anything for anybody else.
Democracy, liberalism and capitalism, together, determine the three dimensional ‘space of opportunity’ where we, human individuals, try to provide for our own needs. If allowed to, of course.
It fact it is not the “politicians and governments” mission to “address the problem of wealth and jobs”. In a full-fledged liberal democracy the government does nothing but guards the freedom of the economic market  and the safety of the citizens – including their ‘human’ rights and private property.

As for capitalism… it doesn’t provide anything. Lest of all “incentives”. People provide incentives. Capitalists provide their employees with incentives to work and politicians provide the capitalists with incentives to engage in such or such enterprises or to refrain form others. And while the first kind of incentives, those provided by the capitalists themselves, work as intended – increase productivity, that is, if employed wisely, the latter end up curtailing the freedom of the market. Which can no longer work smoothly enough. This being the moment when opportunities disappear for the ‘man in the street’ and when those ‘connected’ to the government start to ‘flourish’.

You see, real capitalism is not as much about money as it is about trust.
Trust that your business partner – well, most of them – is going to fulfill his end of the bargain, not try to rip you off. Trust that if things go wrong – in the rare event that he does try to rip you off – the government will move swiftly on your behalf.

That’s all.
That’s what Deng Xiaoping meant by ‘I don’t care about the color of the cat, all I care is for it to catch the mouse’. That’s why the Chinese imported capitalism works. Because the Chinese government has learned that the market cannot do its job, in the longer time frame, without a certain dose of ‘liberty’.
The problem being that China is but an exception. Along with a few other examples, mostly in South Asia, they are the very few countries whose authoritarian governments have learned to refrain from interfering too much in their economies.

Looking back in time, ‘back-tracking’ that is, we’ll notice that capitalism has emerged in places where the entrepreneurs had both considerable individual liberty and enough wisdom to refrain themselves from trying to con their business partners. Otherwise the whole (budding) economic effervescence of the time would have very quickly been smothered by greed.
Think of the Medieval Venetians trading with the Arab merchants of the time. This being the reason for why the oldest surviving bank in the world, Monte dei Paschi di Siena, is based in Italy – the least centralized country in the Medieval Europe.
Or think about how a hand shake used to be enough to seal a deal between two Americans. Some time ago… nowadays you need an army of lawyers to buy a car… not to mention the flurry of official permits needed in most cases…

So, what we need to do, if we want to continue to be a source of inspiration for the rest of the world, is to restore democracy, liberalism and capitalism to what they used to be. Dimensions which described the space of opportunity that used to be open for all of us.

OK, hindsight is always 20-20… or so they say…
I’m afraid that what I just described was an idealized mental construction but I’m sure that you got my drift.
After-all, if the Chinese were able to learn it from us … we’ll surely be able to restore it to its old glory.
Or else…

http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/01/26/forget-dow-20k-the-boom-times-are-over-is-democracy-next/

vluchtelingen-wegversperring

‘Hungarian self-defense’

 

… must we sink in our own, self induced, decrepitude before we’ll be able to notice the stink we, ourselves, have draped around us?

Before figuring out that it’s us who are ultimately responsible for our own fate?

Before figuring out that by allowing this kind of crap to be traded above our heads, and sometimes even by helping to its distribution, we soil the most precious of our ‘belongings’ – our souls?

This image has probably been ‘Photoshopped’ by somebody.
I’m not going to discuss that person’s motives here. We live in a free world and everybody should be able to express his/her feelings.

What I find extremely interesting – and dangerous – is the fact that this picture has been so widely circulated over the internet that it ended up in my mail. A short Google search confirmed that it comes from somewhere in Holland only the guy who sent it to me, horripilated, lives in Canada…

So, what’s the use for us to clamor virtuously about human rights and then make fun, shamelessly, of people who find themselves in a horrible situation?

And, please, do not make any mistake!
I’m not speaking exclusively about the refugees here.

Some of the manifestly dissatisfied Europeans who are protesting these days are not as much against the refugees themselves as they are against the hapless manner in which the European bureaucracy has been (mis) managing so many things recently.

Just as some of the political leaders who are lambasting the European Commission on this subject are not interested in improving the European Community but in ‘scoring swag’ with the disillusioned (and somewhat naive) electorate.

We need to break this vicious circle!

Cand eram eu mic – istorie antica, nici comunismul nu cazuse inca – umbla un banc printre ‘intelectualii’ vremii:

Doi tipi se ciocnesc din neatentie pe trotuar. Inainte de a incepe sa se injure se uita fiecare la celalalt, sa-si dea seama fiecare cu cine are de-a face. Amandoi aratau destul de prosper, proaspat barbieriti dar fara taieturi – semn ca aveau acces la lame bune, mirosind a after-shave, imbracati in alain-deloin-e (haina lunga din blana intoarsa de oaie, la mare moda in anii 1980), pantofi de piele de la Clujana…
– Nelule, tu iesti?
– Bai Vasile, mai sa nu te recunosc!
– Pai de, se mai schimba omul… De cand nu ne-am mai vazut?
– De cinspe ani, de cand am terminat a 8-a.
– Da, ma, ce-a mai trecut timpul… Tu ce mai faci?
– Pai ce sa fac ma, ia, sunt macelar, lucrez in Hala la Obor, m-am insurat cu o vanzatoare la aprozar – iti dai seama ca n-avem nici o problema cu mancarea, ne-am luat casa, masina, avem doi copii la scoala…bine, nu pot sa ma plang. Da’ tu cum esti?
– Pai tot cam asa. Eu is frizer, nevasta la alimentara, in rest ca tine – casa, masina, doi copii…

– Ba, da de Mihai ce mai stii?
– Nu-i chiar asa bine, Stii ca el s-a dus mai departe la liceu…
– Da, si?
– Pai nu numai la liceu, dupa aia a intrat si la facultate!
– Pe bune ma?
– Da, da’ stai sa vezi ce a patit dupa aia… Stii ca in generala era el in limba dupa una Veronica, de era ta-su gestionar la o crisma?
– Da!
– Pai cand a vazut ta-su lu’ Veronica ca Mihai a intrat la facultate n-a mai facut gat ca e coate goale – stii ca Mihai era orfan si maica-sa era cam saracuta, si i-a lasat sa se casatoreasca.
– Si ce, asta e rau?
– Stai sa vezi. Veronica a terminat si ea liceul si a bagat-o ta-su dactilografa la directia comerciala. Cind Mihai a terminat facultatea – el intrase la istorie, stii ca aia ii placea lui, socru-su i-a spus: “Da-o dracu’ de facultate si vino la mine la carciuma. In doi ani te fac sef de sala si dupa aia ramai in locul meu ca eu in 5-6 ani ies la pensie!” Da’ Mihai nu. Luase repartitie dubla, invatase bine, si dupa doi ani la tara avea post la facultate, ca asistent. N-a vrut sa renunte. Asa ca a facut naveta. Veronica a ramas aici, el la cucuietii din deal…se vedeau sambata seara si duminica dimineata…Ea si-a gasit pe cineva si intr-o sambata seara cand Mihai a venit acasa – stateau amandoi la parintii ei – Veronica i-a spus ca i-a mutat lucrurile inapoi la ma-sa acasa… Asa ca Mihai s-a apucat de baut, aia la facultate nu l-au mai primit… sta cu ma-sa la treizeci de ani… face naveta la dracii chiori…
– De ma, asa-i trebuie…cine l-a pus sa-i placa cartea…

Fast forward catre zilele noastre.
Intre timp ne-am desteptat si ne-am luat viata in mainile proprii: nu mai asteptam slujbe de la stat ci ne mutam noi acolo unde ne e mai bine:

Un profesor de matematica, observand ca are probleme cu chiuveta din bucatarie, a fost nevoit sa cheme un instalator.
A doua zi, instalatorul a venit, a strans cateva suruburi, a infiletat cateva chestii, apoi totul a functionat ca inainte. Profesorul a fost multumit.  Totusi, cand instalatorul i-a dat nota de plata, profesorul a fost socat:
– Asta inseamna o treime din salariul meu lunar!!! A platit pana la urma iar instalatorul i-a zis:
– Va inteleg, sa stiti. De ce nu veniti la firma noastra, sa depuneti dosarul pentru o slujba de instalator? Veti castiga de trei ori mai mult decat o faceti acum. Dar nu uitati, cand depuneti dosarul, sa le spuneti ca ati terminat doar 7 clase. Nu le plac oamenii educati.
Prin urmare, profesorul nostru si-a luat o slujba de instalator, iar viata lui a devenit mai usoara din punct de vedere financiar. Tot ce trebuia sa faca era sa stranga un surub-doua.
Intr-o zi, seful companiei a hotarat ca trebuie ca fiecare angajat sa se duca la seral, pentru a-si termina si clasa a 8-a.
Profesorul nostru a trebuit sa mearga, evident. S-a intamplat ca primul curs sa fie de matematica.
Profesorul clasei, vrand sa vada nivelul de cunoastere al studentilor, i-a intrebat care e aria cercului si l-a scos la tabla chiar pe profesorul nostru. Ajungand la tabla acesta si-a dat seama ca a uitat formula asa ca a inceput sa o deduca. A umplut tablele cu integrale, diferentiale etc.
La sfarsit, rezultatul pe care-l avea era “minus pi r patrat”.
Neconvenindu-i acel minus, s-a apucat iarasi de calcule, de la inceput.
Nimic nu s-a schimbat, tot acelasi rezultat a obtinut. De fiecare data a obtinut aceeasi chestie.
S-a uitat putin spre clasa, speriat, moment in care a observat ca toti instalatorii ii sopteau:
“Schimba limitele de integrare! Schimba limitele de integrare !”

Fiat justitia, ruat caelum insemna mult mai mult decat “faca-se dreptate chiar daca ar fi sa se prabuseasca cerul” (condamna-l cu orice pret daca il crezi vinovat).

Bunicii nostri romani erau mai degraba razboinici. Scrijeleau cuvintele cu varful sabiei, nu le mangaiau cu varful vreunei pene. Spusele lor erau mai mult avertismente si mai putin indemnuri metafizice.
Erau mult mai interesati de amanuntele practice ale guvernarii imperiului decat de aspectele morale ale justitiei abstracte.

Si pentru ca toate astea trebuiau sa se termine cu o interpretare alternativa a maximei din titlu….

“Ai grija! Daca dreptatea din care te impartasesti nu este cu adevarat justa, mai devreme sau mai tarziu cerul de de-asupra capului iti va cadea de sub picioare”!

Ce ziceti de urmatorul scenariu:

Antonescu se retrage pentru ca nu simte vreo mare dorinta reala de schimbare din partea populatiei ‘de rand’ iar el nu pare a fi din tagma ‘populistilor’, dispus sa faca oricui orice promisiune doar pentru a ajunge ‘la putere’ si apoi sa se scuze: ‘nu s-a putut’.

In turul doi ajung Gabriela Vrinceanu Firea din partea PSD si Elena Udrea din partea ‘dreptei reunite’ in conditiile in care prezenta la vot in turul I a fost sub 30%, majoritatea electoratului fiind atat de scarbita de campania de la europarlamentare incat a considerat ca nu mai are nici un rost sa voteze.

Ce va face PNL in situatia in care chiar daca USL nu s-a destramat inca deja a devenit evident ca indiferent cine va castiga la prezidentiale Ponta isi va pastra postul de prim-ministru?

Mirel Palada, cel care a lipit de fruntea lui Basescu epitetul de ‘matrafoxat’, ne-a spus aseara un banc cu blonde:

“Un betiv, in tramvai, o tot batea pe o blonda la cap:- Dupa ce ca esti blonda mai esti si urata!
O data, de doua ori, de trei ori…Blonda se facea ca nu aude.
Totusi, dupa a cincisprezecea repetare, nu mai rezista si ii raspunde, cu un imens dispret:
– Esti beat!
– Da, dar mie imi trece!”

Implicatia, ulterior explicitata, era ca Basescu, chiar si atunci cand se trezeste din ‘matrafoxeala’, ramane nepasator fata de destinul si nevoile romanilor.

Am sa dau cateva definitii, personale si oarecum neconventionale:

– Democratie.
Metoda de adoptare a deciziilor in colectiv. Pentru a functiona cu adevarat presupune existenta unui acord, chiar si tacit, cu privire la obiectivele mari/implicite ale grupului, variantele supuse alegerilor referindu-se de fapt doar la caile de atingere a acelor obiective. Daca nu exista un oarecare consens cu privire la obiective, totul se transforma in ‘dictatura gloatei’: multimea debusolata trage caruta dintr-o parte intr-alta a drumului in functie de impulsurile de moment.

– Politica.Arta posibilului. Activitatea facuta in comun de catre membrii unui grup atunci cand incearca sa foloseasca cit mai eficient resursele aflate la indemana grupului pentru a se apropia cat mai mult de obiectivul comun.
Daca adminstrarea treburilor publice ajunge pe mana unor operatori politici, lipsiti nu doar de scrupule ci si de viziune pe termen lung, procupati doar de promovarea propriilor interese, politica degeneraza in politicianism. Manifestarea practica a acestuia poarta numele de populism si este o ‘metastaza’ a marketingului in politica. Actorii politici care practica acest mod de actiune publica nu mai incearca sa adune oamenii in jurul unor idei despre cum ar trebui facute lucrurile ci pur si simplu identifica niste publicuri tinta ca fiind cel mai usor de manipulat si apoi promit exact ce (cred ei ca) vor aceste publicuri sa auda. Cateodata se si tin de cuvant, adica incearca sa isi satisfaca ‘alegatorii’ pentru a-si conserva, sau in masura in care acest lucru este posibil mari, capitalul politic.

Cu adevarat ingrijorator este faptul ca si aici functioneaza legea lui Gresham: “Banii rai ii scot din circulatie pe cei buni!” Odata aparut ‘in piata publica’ populismul devine din ce in ce mai atractiv pentru toate gruparile politice (devenite intre timp grupari de interese), tocmai din cauza aparentei sale eficacitati. Au cazut prada tentatiei si tari cu traditii democratice mult mai puternice decat a noastra, luarile de pozitie impotriva tiganilor si a ‘turismului pentru beneficii sociale’ fiind suficient de elocvente in acest sens.

Si pana la urma cum ramane? Lovitura de geniu sau populism pe fata?
Eu cred ca amandoua la un loc. Ce, populistii n-au si ei dreptul la genii?
Mai ales ca tot ce se intampla acum era absolut previzibil inca de la incheierea ‘pactului de coabitare’. Pentru cineva obisnuit sa isi reconsidere tot timpul pozitia incheierea unui astfel de pact nu reprezinta promisiunea de a respecta niste conditii ci asigurarea ca celalalta parte nu va incalca acele conditii, cel putin la inceput. Iar daca o va face pactul ofera oportunitatea excelenta de a arata cu degetul: “V-am spus eu!”

An excellent definition of populism:

http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/nicolas-maduro-and-the-essence-of-populism-by-jan-werner-mueller

 

“In Slate today, Matt Yglesias argues that anti-Wall Street populism is counterproductive, because it will cut Wall Street’s profits, leaving less tax revenue for the populist government, thereby hurting the populist cause. It’s worth pointing out briefly that this is incorrect.”
The quote above is from Gawker, I didn’t ‘linked’ it because I wanted to preserve the link to Slate.

 

I must confess I’m rather confused at this point. In Europe, where I live, ‘populism’ is a fake. Those who earn this moniker pretend to be working for the people while in reality catering for a vast host of special interests. So what does it mean ‘anti-Wall Street populism’? I went to Slate for enlightenment: “Suppose that President Warren rides to town with a raft of new legislation and tough regulators and a set of U.S. attorneys firmly dedicated to prosecuting financial wrongdoing with the utmost rigor. Well if it works, the pretax income of Wall Street types is going to plummet.”
But ‘prosecuting financial wrongdoing with the utmost rigor’ would be a good thing for almost everybody, no? And how come ‘the pretax income of Wall Street types is going to plummet.’? Wall Street profits are based on ‘financial wrongdoing’?!?

Reading a little further only added to my confusion: “By contrast the Tim Geithner philosophy—regulate Wall Street but don’t seek to transform it or displace the sector from its leading role in America’s political economy—is a great match for the politics of progressive taxation to finance public-sector social democracy.” So what is in reality ‘the Tim Geithner philosophy’ if its ‘contrast’ is ‘financial rigor’? Let them steal so they’ll generate more profit for us to tax? Who would be catering for the special interests in this case?

 

Now let’s see the ‘remedies’ proposed by Mr. Nolan in “No, the Populism Will Not Bankrupt Itself”.

 

1. “Perhaps the biggest reason of all to seek to cut down on Wall Street’s profits is the fact that those profits themselves are often little more than a tax on other people’s money, funneled into Wall Street’s pockets.”
What? Why should anybody try to “cut down” on anybody’s “profits”? What world are we living in? Any administration’s business is to maintain the rule of law and to preserve the ‘financial rigor’, not to ‘cut down on profits’! To confuse between these two is unpardonable!
And the fact that “these profits themselves are often little more than a tax on other people’s money” is something that has to be dealt with by dismantling the ‘too big to fail’ financial institutions in existence today and thus freeing the market, not by trying (how, by taxing them?!?) to curb the profits of the current financial behemoths…

2. “In a theoretical world in which a president actually enacted meaningful reform which reduced the financial sector’s share of earnings, the resulting business climate would be far more fair and far more accommodating to entrepreneurs and small business. In such a theoretical world, bumping taxes on the upper middle classes would not be such a terrifying thought.”
Again, why should a president be concerned about ‘the financial sector’s share of earnings’ instead of concentrating his/her efforts on insuring the real freedom of the market? OK, that freedom would include the dismantling of the current stranglehold that some of the people involved with the financial industry have over the rest of the economy but it would also imply a lot of other things. Including a fairer and more accommodating business environment and a fairer tax burden for everybody.

3. The last one beats them all: “Progressive taxation should be viewed as a tool to achieve a more economically just and fair and equal economy and society. Trying to preserve a less fair economy in order to better maintain progressive taxation is ass backwards.”
I agree with the last part but the first phrase really frightens me. Who can take it upon himself the responsibility to determine the fairness and the equality of the economy or those of the society? What are the standards for judging that? Who is so wise as to point to the rest of us where we should all go?

 

How about trying to open our eyes and to look further than our ideological noses? How about understanding that all we need is an economy that sustainably provides the people with what they need and a society that is able to maintain that economy in working order?

In other words a free economy and a responsible society.

In this conditions fairness will come along by itself while equality makes sense only when we speak about the opportunities to express one’s potential! And for good reason: ‘fair’ always works better than ‘crooked’ while creating effective opportunities for as many people as possible to develop their true potential is beneficial for the entire society, not only for each of  the individuals.

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