Around the blogging traps…

A steal from Jim Belshaw, that, who in turn echoes an Australianism that probably relates to dingoes or rabbits.

These have all appeared on my Google Reader selections over the past few days.

It seems, doesn’t it, that it is very easy to be a Marxist in the USA. So many people are, at least according to some of the more strident parts of the American Right, that you’d think the place was already the People’s Republic of America. It seems that all you have to do to be a Marxist is have a generous or unselfish idea from time to time… Ask Jim Wallis from the socially aware evangelical group Sojourners.

Last night Glenn Beck distorted the truth again: He called Jim Wallis a Marxist and denied the Christian calling to social justice.

He also claims that we started a campaign against him (and that Obama is behind it). Sojourners simply initiated a response of people who "turned themselves in as Christians who believe in the biblical call to social justice." Now he’s thrust Sojourners into a familiar role – countering the conservative agenda. He’s used labels such as Marxist, communist, and socialist against political leaders, against advocates of health-care reform, and now multiple times against Sojourners and Jim Wallis.

Now I concede there are real critiques that can be made of the very imperfect package that politics and compromise have so far delivered to the American people as “universal health care”, but “socialism” is hardly its most obvious feature.

Australian economics blogger Bill Mitchell, Research Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at the University of Newcastle (NSW Australia), puts our Antipodean view rather well in The US should have universal public health care.

To start with here is a personal message to all the fine American readers of my blog (there are thousands). I live in a nation where I can ride my bike for hundreds of kms unimpeded although I do have to wear a helmet these days as a result of invasive law changes. I live near the beach and can go and surf the waves whenever there are some as free as a bird. I walk the street each day without fear of arrest and interrogation.

I even criticise the national government relentlessly on national media and no-one comes round in the dead of the night to take me away. I can travel where I like (mostly). The citizens can toss a government out of office if they do not like them at regular (relatively short-spaced) intervals.

The only time I see the Australian army is on TV when the news shows them getting shot up in far of lands where they have no place to be.

I have to stop at red lights but consider that probably is a health issue rather than an infringement on my civil liberties. Which brings me to the next point …

I live in a system with universal health care where the poorest Australian can access first-class medical and hospital services on demand. It is not perfect and there are significant inefficiencies in certain areas mostly involving private insurers and greedy medical professionals. But overall it works fine.

This health system hasn’t turned Australia into a totalitarian state. The material means of production are mostly privately owned. And even though I agree with Marx, that capitalism represents the chimera of freedom … we do not live under the oppressive iron glove of a dictator – communist or otherwise!

So when President Obama’s health changes were passed the other day, the reaction among some was idiotic. I got this retweet which was originally tweeted by one Solly Forell who calls himself a conservative American blogger:

ASSASSINATION! America, we survived the Assassinations and Lincoln & Kennedy. We’ll surely get over a bullet to Barrack Obama’s head.

Some reaction to a piece of legislation that hands over billions in public funds to corrupt and powerful private health insurers.

Even the right-wing News Limited press in Australia, which is usually rabid on these matters, noted in relation to President Obama’s health changes:

On the lunar Right, claims that the legislation follows the mindsets of Lenin, Stalin and Kim Jong-il are equally wide of the mark.

Jon Taplin also has an economics blog, but his is in the USA. In University of Fox he writes:

Thomas Jefferson stated an essential truth of democracy when he said, “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” So what are we to think of the incredible level of ignorance across our land as evidenced in the latest Harris Poll? Majorities of Republicans believe President Obama

  • Is a socialist (67%)
  • Wants to take away Americans’ right to own guns (61%)
  • Is a Muslim (57%)
  • Wants to turn over the sovereignty of the United States to a one world government (51%); and
  • Has done many things that are unconstitutional (55%).

They also believe the President

  • Was not born in the United States and so is not eligible to be president (45%)
  • Is the “domestic enemy that the U.S. Constitution speaks of” (45%)
  • Is a racist (42%)
  • Want to use an economic collapse or terrorist attack as an excuse to take dictatorial powers (41%)
  • Is doing many of the things that Hitler did (38%).

One last thing, 24% of Republicans believe Obama “may be the anti-Christ.” The only answer to this mass delusional ignorance is that these people are getting all their information from Fox News and most especially Professor Glenn Beck.  Here is one Professor Beck’s most famous students, Rep. Michele Bachman.

“It is really quite sobering what has happened. From 100% of our economy was private prior to September of 2008, but as of Tuesday, the federal government has now taken ownership or control of 51% of the private economy.”

I swear to God, you couldn’t make such brainlessness up if you tried, but here is a U.S. Congresswoman spouting complete nonsense in public…

Brainlessness is right! Before we leap too far, however, read some of the commenters on Jon’s post. The Harris Poll may not be very reliable. Trouble is you really do see examples of what appears to be a specifically American madness on blog after blog.

Away from politics, but not too far away, read The age of Innocence: Some Thoughts on The Chimney Sweeper by William Blake.

The Chimney Sweeper (Experience)

A little black thing among the snow,
Crying ‘weep! ‘weep! in notes of woe!
“Where are thy father and mother, say?”
“They are both gone up to the church to pray.

Because I was happy upon the heath,
And smiled among the winter’s snow,
They clothed me in the clothes of death,
And taught me to sing the notes of woe.

And because I am happy and dance and sing,
They think they have done me no injury,
And are gone to praise God and his Priest and King,
Who make up a heaven of our misery.

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