Friday, February 19, 2010

Layer 248 . . . . Wars of Words, Economics, Assassination, War in Helmand, Obama and the Dalai Lama


Remember the letter to the Sunday Times from "20 top economists", none of whom the average punter had ever heard of, a fair gaggle of whom are currently based at the LSE?

These guys were demanding an immedate slashing of the budget deficit that has been caused by the conspiracy of the City, Wall Street, New Labour, Old Tories and the Washington Consensus - which resulted in The Great Financial Bubble and its subsequent implosion. In other words - they want an immediate return to the rotten and despicable voodoo economics that got us into the shit in the first place.

Well - having waited for some time for a response from our more enlightened economists, it seems to have finally arrived.

Firstly, yesterday, there was this article in the Guardian written by the Master of Balliol College, Andrew Graham, no less:

Beware the calls for hasty cuts

The would-be instant deficit slashers ignore the risks of triggering a double-dip recession

Their letter was seriously misleading – and their prescription for deficit reduction is not only unhelpful but potentially dangerous.

Far from being a problem, the public deficit is essential.

The result is a real danger of creating precisely the conditions for the double-dip recession that will scuttle the present signs of recovery.

In response Oxzen posted this on CIF -

There needs to be an all-out effort to help voters and and those with very little knowledge of economics and economic history to understand better the fundamental differences between the two main schools of economic opinion and philosophy. In other words the general public and the electorate really need to understand what they're voting for. Andrew Graham's column helps to do that.

With Osborne and Cameron you get a continuation of New Labourish 'compassionate' Thatcherism with regard to many social issues, but even more hard-line Chicago School ideology with regard to economics and finance. A hung Parliament that's controlled by 'reformed' Labour and the Lib Dems working together at least keeps open the possibility of the kind of progressive policies and reforms that this country and the world in general urgently need.

Today there's not one but two letters in the press, with signatures from about 60 of our more serious and sensible economists, refuting the ideas set out in that original letter.

NB Joseph Stiglitz (Nobel prizewinner) and David Blanchflower (who correctly forecast the financial crisis) are in this team!


Other excellent columns in the Guardian yesterday:

Never mind the data. Teen parents simply must be bad

This is no ripping yarn, but a murder to fan more conflict

The media may revel in a Mossad hit, yet Britain's response to a plot that could threaten its own citizens has been craven

Talk to Hamas

As Israeli soldiers we hang our heads in shame over last year's attack on Gaza's civilian population. Dialogue, not war, is needed

The silence of Israel's liberals

The gulf between the country's cultural and political life will continue to widen unless the left wakes from its paralysis

We need judges to investigate our spies, not spies to berate our judges

To keep us safe and free, a new government must set up a judicial inquiry into the entanglements of our secret services

Israeli assassinations: passports to kill

Our government seems to be fine with letting the Israeli secret service wage its war with Hamas under a British flag

In praise of ... bringing it all back home

The court of appeal has ruled that a multimillionaire should not be excused from a £30m tax bill. The times, they are a changin'

Fig leaf of co-operative Conservatism


Also well worth a read this week - an article by playwright David Edgar

If only the BBC behaved less like bankers and more like my local council

The broadcaster should reassert its public service values, rather than aping the status-obsessed largesse of the City

I heard on the radio yesterday someone saying that the BBC is "trampling the aspirations of the private sector". Well - good.


Why is our anti-war outrage muted at this Afghan folly?

Even the doubters seem to be giving this military intervention one final chance, but there is little confidence it will succeed

As far as Oxzen is concerned, Obama has done the best he possibly could with a totally impossible situation. It's the same as the USA did in Vietnam when faced with a horrendous unwinnable war - grab as much of the available land area as you possibly can with a 'surge' of your forces, pretend to 'hold' the so-called government-controlled areas with local troops substituted for American troops, and then pull your US troops out pronto, knowing full well that within months or even weeks those indigenous Afghan troops will either melt away, join the rebels, or be defeated when the locals decide to come out of hiding and take over.

Here we have the Americans telling the Taliban they're massing forces and about to 'surge' into Taliban-held areas, having already said that American troops will be withdrawn from the country within a year ot two. So what are you going to do if you're a Taliban? Take to the mountains and hang out there for a while until the Americans and their allies have cleared off. I would.

Of course lots more lives are going to be lost, but this is the least-bad option available to Obama, who certainly wouldn't have started from where he is now given any choice in the matter. He was one of very few people who had the vision and the intelligence to vote against invading Iraq in the first place. At least have some faith in him now and give him some credit for being able to figure out the right way to go in the present circumstance.


China complains to US about Obama-Dalai Lama meeting

The Dalai Lama and the president

President Obama finally met the Dalai Lama. And once again, the activities of a softly-spoken monk roused China's anger

As far as Oxzen is concerned, President Obama and the Dalai Lama are two of the wisest and most spiritually and emotionally intelligent human beings currently alive on this planet. Their sanity and commitment to world peace are outstanding. Any face to face meetings they may have are merely signals to the rest of us that they have a warm and positive relationship. They no doubt understand one another from reading each other's books and speeches. For the sake of all of us it's to be hoped that they have other regular channels of communication through which they can discuss the world's biggest problems. Both understand very well that the creation of a more peaceful planet depends on dialogue and compromise rather than aggression and bullying.

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