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John Passant

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November 2008



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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)

I am not surprised
I think we are being unfair to this Abbott ‘no surprises’ Government. I am not surprised. (0)

Send Barnaby to Indonesia
It is a pity that Barnaby Joyce, a man of tact, diplomacy, nuance and subtlety, isn’t going to Indonesia to fix things up. I know I am disappointed that Barnaby is missing out on this great opportunity, and I am sure the Indonesians feel the same way. [Sarcasm alert.] (0)



All change at Obama station?

I put Barack Obama’s victory down to one thing – class.  Working people are scared.  Scared for their jobs.  Scared for their families.  Scared for the future.

US workers have had 16 years of rule for the rich from Clinton and Bush.   They’ve had eight years of foreign adventures which are or will be defeats.

The wages of low and middle income earners have not increased in real terms over the past 8 years.  The minimum wage has fallen. The reward for all this sacrifice – bailouts for the fat cats on Wall Street and more sacrifices for workers on Main Street.

Nearly 50 million Americans have no health care.  30 million are on food stamps.  Millions are homeless while 18 million homes stand empty.  House prices are over twenty per cent below their 2006 levels.

There are 9 million unemployed.  This will only get worse.  Double digit unemployment is likely.

Race and class are inextricably linked in the US.

The institutional racism of the US divides white and black workers, and as a consequence impoverishes both groups.  For example, while blacks and Latinos are the two poorest groups in the US, for most workers the US is a low wage economy compared to other OECD countries.

Nearly half of the more than 2 million US prisoners are  black. More black men are in jail than in college. With five per cent of the world’s population the US has nearly 25 per cent of the world’s death row prisoners.

Prison is a deliberate divide and rule tactic the US ruling class employs to create fear among significant sections of the working class – fear of jail and fear of those over-represented in jail.  It pushes many white workers to see white bosses as their ally, not their enemy.

Obama will not challenge the logic of imperialism that leads to the US having a military presence in 130 of the 195 nations of the world. Indeed his shift out of Iraq (a sleight of hand since US advisers will remain) and into Afghanistan confirms his commitment to imperialism. As its economic power continues to decline the US will, irrespective of who leads it, engage in more foreign invasions to try to retain its imperialist domination.

Obama talks about change, but he refuses to detail what change he is going to implement.

How will he deal with the economic crisis?  What will he do to extricate the US from its overseas wars?  How will he help the poor?

The US political system is unique in the developed world in that it has no organised labour or social democratic party capable of vying for power.  Instead it has two parties of the capitalist class running for power. They may have slight differences on strategy but they overwhelmingly agree on the fundamentals – namely the US has the right to invade any country for its own benefit and that the low wages economy (with  low taxes and large sections of poverty) is the best way forward for American capitalism.

The battle between Obama and McCain is, if you like, similar to the battle between Nelson and Turnbull for leadership of the Liberal Party here.

Obama has no plans for dealing with the economic crisis.  He may adopt vaguely Keynesian  programs, although the size of the current US deficit makes extra spending on education and health very unlikely.

But Obama has raised expectations among the poor and working class for change – change that benefits them.  95 per cent of blacks for example supported Obama.

Obama will not be able to deliver substantive change because to do so would require a challenge to the very structures of US capitalism.

The fundamental problem for the US ruling elite is the low profit rates in the real economy.   Obama will, because he is managing capitalism,  of necessity be tempted by traditional capitalist responses to low profit rates – lengthening the working day, increasing productivity (i.e. working harder for less) and cutting wages and conditions.  It is difficult however to see, given the low level of wages in the US, where there is much room for more wage cuts.

Even if the economy were not about to go into deep recession Obama’s Democrat Party links and logic would tie him to change at the margins.  The economic crisis is likely to wash away any chance of substantial change that benefits minorities and the poor.

Obama has tapped into the basic class response of many Americans when he talks about governing for Main St, not Wall St.  But who in fact persuaded wavering class conscious (of sorts) Democrats to vote for the $700 billion  bail out package? Barack Obama.

Right wing Labor man Gough Whitlam won power in Australia in 1972 with a plan to modernise Australian capitalism after 23 years of conservative neglect.   One of the results of that pro-capitalist program was to provide some benefits to working people, but arguably they were more a response to a combative working class during the period 1968 to 1974 than any commitment to workers per se.

Economic crisis engulfed and destroyed Whitlam’s Government, so much so that in 1975 workers deserted Gough in droves to vote for the arch reactionary Malcolm Fraser.

Obama could face the same fate after four years if, as I suggest,  he fails to improve the lives of ordinary working Americans.

The US working class, both black and white, will draw lessons from Obama’s failure to fix the economic crisis and make their lives better.  Whether they are left or right wing conclusions remains for the future.



Comment from Arjay
Time November 20, 2008 at 7:59 pm

The first thing that Obama must do is sack the Federal Reserve and print his own greenbacks.They need a Govt owned Reseve Bank like our RBA.The bailouts are just propping up a failed financial system.It must be left to rot and Obama must save the real economy by creating real jobs and developing national infrastructure.
We too must do the same.

Pingback from En Passant » All change at Obama station?
Time November 21, 2008 at 2:25 pm

[…] En Passant » All change at Obama station? Even if the economy were not about to go into deep recession Obama’s Democrat Party links and logic would tie him to change at the margins. The economic crisis is likely to wash away any chance of substantial change that benefits … […]

Comment from Arjay
Time November 21, 2008 at 9:20 pm

The international banking cartell will not relinquish their power easily.They have wrought this destruction via the debt trap.There is no way that they those at the top of this pyramid debt scam,did not know of this present unfolding outcome.It is the Rothschilds,Morgans,Rockefellers,etc who are the real power brokers who set the trap.They can now internationally buy up real assets at bargain basement prices.
This will be the greatest redistribution of wealth to the few,since the Great Depression of the 1930’s.
With the aid of internet,we this time,can stop it.

Comment from parann70
Time November 27, 2008 at 10:43 am

It seems to me that the cause of most world problems are caused by greed. How can Obama ,or any one else , change this?

Comment from Stuart
Time December 12, 2008 at 10:51 am

Another hand went up in the campaign, a blonde bombshell says she is ready to lead and Paris Hilton is growing and developing, and MAY have a good handle on the probloems of America.

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