Defence Spending

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation is a bit like the National Health Service. It is a sacred cow to whom the nations of the Western world must irrevocably commit, and like the NHS any threat to or reduction in the effectiveness of NATO is met with almost condemnation.

Recently Mr Trump pointed out the disparity between defence spending by various NATO members. NATO guidelines call on nations who are members to spend at least 2% of their gross domestic product (their gross incomes) on defence. The USA actually spends 3.61% on defence; poor and impoverished Greece spends 2.38%; the UK manages to spend Continue reading

Meeting Mr Trump

Running a country is harder than running a company, especially where the country concerned has a system of checks and balances to prevent the person who actually runs the country from acting in ways that are unconstitutional or illegal. Also there are differences in objectives between the two tasks. He or she who runs a company does so in order to profit and benefit a defined group of people, who are shareholders in the company. The person who runs a country should do so in order to benefit all citizens of that country and where there are conflicts between several groups of citizens’ interest the person in charge must balance and distinguish and act so as to ensure fair treatment of all.

I think that these differences between running Trump Enterprises and running the United States of America have now become apparent to Mr Trump. Continue reading

Those who seek to lead us, teach us. 

Since the Brexit Referendum vote and the American General Election there has been a marked increase in racist name calling in many schools. I could understand the increase in racist name calling – children are often unkind to each other and policies about immigration on both sides of the debate were exaggerated and this presumably taught the parents and the children that racism is OK because the side who were portrayed (wrongly in my view) as racists won.

There has also been an increase in homophobic name calling since Brexit and the US election. Presumably the same principle applies – the person who was claimed to be homophobic and sexist won, and thus parents and children were taught that homophobic name calling is OK because Mr Trump won.

Those who seek to lead us teach us and many listen to their teachings and adopt their ideas. People often pick up not the ideas of the politicians but the false versions of those ideas promulgated by that politician’s opponent.

I do not believe that 31 million Americans who voted for Mr Trump belong in a basket of deplorables, any more than I believe that 52% of the UK’s populations are racists. The vast majority of Americans and of the British are decent principled people, however they may have voted.

 

What is Democracy?

Things are getting complicated. The results of democratic votes leave many people unsatisfied, as the votes electing Donald Trump as US President and those in favour of the UK leaving the European Union show. Those who are on the losing side of such votes try to reverse the votes by legal means, often offering up arguments that they would not countenance had they won the votes and the losers offered up those same arguments.

It has often been thus. In the USA, Mr Trump was repeatedly asked before the election whether he would accept the result of the vote. He said that the election was “rigged” and this statement brought howls of derision from his opponent and those supporting her, who claimed that democracy was threaten by such a viewpoint. Today those very people do not accept the results of the vote carried out in accordance with the rules set out in the constitution, yet that is democracy.

In the United Kingdom the result of the referendum is now going to be pored over by judges, who may well render the “leave” vote impracticable by their decision, any by the restrictions imposed by the courts may force the government to take actions which make its bargaining position untenable and thus alter the democratic votes’ effect.

We all have the right to disagree with democratically made decisions but we do not have the right to attempt to overturn them or render them nugatory, for if we do we deny the democratic process we deny our most important freedom. Democracy simply appeals to the lowest common denominator of interests so it will often provide results that those seeking to impose their own versions of what is in the interest of a nation will find repellent.

Democracy has been described as the least worse system of government. It exists because time and time again we see that dictators, tyrants and monarchs are not to be trusted. We deny it at our peril.

Pots and kettles

Should I fear for the United States or fear for the world? Hilary Rodam Clinton is probably likely to become the next President of the world’s most powerful nation. She brings with her all the ugly baggage of a career politician. Such is the stuff that the voters despise, but the voters of the United States have to choose between the fire and the frying pan, an unsavoury unhealthy choice. Continue reading

Take it Back, folks

“We’re going to take our country back, folks” is the rhetoric of Donald Trump, a candidate for the Presidential election which will take place in the USA in November. Mr Trump has all the appeal of a Benito Mussolini – smug, self-satisfied, and somewhat fat in his mind, assuring the American people that they will not be swamped by foreigners and that all foreigners will be treated harshly and in some cases without justice.

As the new American Mussolini talks so his audience cheers, and the audience cheers in the same way, I imagine, that audiences years ago cheered lynchings.

All of Mr Trump’s supporters favour taking their country back, but they do not delve too deeply into what taking their country back means, for if they did they would return the country to the indigenous peoples from whom they stole it, just a few hundred years ago.

Selecting Leaders

One of the most unedifying sights in politics is the spectacle of a political party choosing a new leader. In the USA the Republicans are looking for a Presidential candidate and we see the entertaining farce of Donald Trump in the frame; in the UK the Labour Party is choosing a new leader and we see the candidates earnestly promising that which they cannot deliver. It is hard to discover policy in all this mess. What is common in both cases is that the would be leaders are good at making promises to solve problems that they cannot possibly keep because they do not understand the problems that they are seeking to solve. Continue reading