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John Passant

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November 2012



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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)



Presidential election offers a choice of Wall Street champions

The US working poor will be courted for votes, writes Alex Callinicos in Socialist Worker UK, but there is little at stake for them in this election

The US presidential election is turning into a cliff-hanger comparable to 2000, when a controversial Supreme Court judgement awarded Florida, and hence the White House, to George W Bush.

At the minute the Republican challenger Mitt Romney leads Barack Obama in national opinion polls by 49 to 48 percent.

The Democrat incumbent is still narrowly ahead in the nine swing states where the outcome of the election will be decided. The New York Times describes the candidates “fighting county by county”.

The president is not directly elected. He (or conceivably she) is chosen by an Electoral College whose members are selected by popular vote in each of the 50 US states. So to win the presidency you need 270 votes in the Electoral College.

The distribution of seats in the Electoral College is weighted in favour of the less populous states, so it’s possible to become president without having a majority of the popular vote.

The contest is now so narrow that Obama might beat Romney in the Electoral College even though he received a smaller share of the total vote. This is how Bush “won” in 2000.

But, as the Washington Post points out, “every modern president to be re-elected has gotten a bigger share of the vote in their second bid for office than their first, and with it, a chance to claim a mandate.

“A win in the electoral college that is not accompanied by one in the popular vote casts a shadow over the president and his ability to govern.”

Obama would be a lame duck from the start of his second term, confronted no doubt by a Republican majority in the House of Representatives enraged at being cheated of the White House.

Why, after all the joy of Obama’s original victory four years ago, has it come to this? The conventional answer points to the sluggish recovery of the American economy from the Great Recession of 2008-9.


As Michael Roberts notes in his excellent blog, “US corporate profits have surpassed their previous peak, but corporate profitability remains in the doldrums. US capitalism is still weighed down by past dead capital and debt, so it is reluctant to invest.”

The latest figures show that business investment actually fell in the third quarter of 2012.

Obama can’t evade responsibility for this dismal performance. Since he took office in January 2009, he has striven to bolster the Wall Street-dominated economic and political system that nearly collapsed in the financial crash the previous autumn.

The political consultant Matt Stoller calls Obama “a conservative technocrat, running a policy architecture to ensure that conservative technocrats like him run the complex machinery of the state and reap private rewards from doing so. Radical political and economic inequality is the result”.

As Stoller points out, “under Bush, economic inequality was bad, as 65 cents of every dollar of income growth went to the top 1 percent. Under Obama that number is 93 cents out of every dollar.”

So the Republicans can capitalise on the anger provoked by the slump and make the political running. Faced with the challenge from Romney, an ex-private equity boss, Obama has tilted a little leftwards rhetorically.

But his tepid performance in the first presidential debate underlined the difficulty he faces in reinvigorating the base that so enthusiastically rallied to him in 2008.

Romney has been astute in using subsequent debates to move to the centre ground in domestic and foreign policy.

This makes it harder for the Democrats to use their strongest card—vote Obama or America will return to the Dark Ages. The truth is that this is a contest between two champions of Wall Street and the American Empire.

The Center for Responsive Politics estimates that around £3.6 billion will be spent on this election. Presidential politics is a game that only the corporate rich and those willing to do their bidding can play.

America’s growing working poor will be courted for their votes on 6 November, but there is very little at stake for them in this election.



Comment from Kay
Time November 7, 2012 at 6:38 am

Well, regardless of which candidate wins the election, there will be a hard job ahead! The US is poised on a fiscal cliff with its enormous public debt. Hard decisions need to be made to claw the US economy back to some sustainable state. And those decisions will affect the rest of the world’s economies. I’m glad I don’t have the job!!!!

Comment from Lorikeet
Time November 8, 2012 at 8:59 am

When people like Obama are in power, and the economy is still mired in doom and gloom, the global umpire will not blow the whistle for the ball to be passed to the Right.

Instead when it looks as if the people are going to pass the ball without a loud whistle blast, the global umpire sends a man-made superstorm to make Obama look like a hero, and his opposition look like a bunch of cheap politickers.

The global umpire is then quick to dispel rumours of weather tampering, by ensuring the follow-up storm predicted for voting day arrives a day or two after the desired outcome is achieved.

The global masters want Obama to rack up even more foreign debt before a tiny adjustment occurs from the other side, thereby thinly disguising the inexorable economic descent into perfidy.

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