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Discussion in 'Politics' started by StrictlyAvg, Nov 1, 2010.
Andrew Neill presents Tea Party America : This World
On BBC 2 right now...
UK IP addresses only peeps
BBC iPlayer - This World: 2010-2011: Tea Party America
Ought to be about as impressive as the BNP (British National Party)..
To give a bit of background to those outside the UK, Andrew Neil is heavily linked with Murdoch's News Corporation (but fell out with them) and the UK Conservative press.
In the UK Sky News is nothing like as partisan as US Fox news and having previously worked in US tv Neil seems genuinely surprised at what Fox has become.
to give a little background, andrew neil is a presenter of topical and critical political current affairs programs. He has one weekly program (plus others) where his co presenters are an ex conservative cabinet minister and a labour mp. Both are slightly mavericks with respect to their parties mainstream and not afraid to criticise their own side. I dont notice that Neil shows any bias to either side.
So, nice to know something about this tea party everyone here is going on about. Neil starts off by saying why the party is gaining ground. It is a protest party against the fools currently running the show. Neil interviewed some people and they made good sense in criticising government. Id vote for them myself. A similar thing happened in the Uk centred around the MPs expenses scandal. there was a general disgust with just about all MPs, who right and left had been making the most of their expenses and then fought a rearguard action for 5 years trying to stop information being published.
He interviewed a doctor, who made the point which seems plain sense to me, that forcing someone to take out health insurance from a private company is wrong. I accept that the US healthcare works via private insurance companies having contracts with individuals, but brought up on a proper state system of healthcare, this is back to front. Sure, everyone pays in the end, but the system cannot simply lump someone with a bill they cannot pay. It has to be paid for out of a general fund to which people make payments according to their ability to pay, not according to how sick they are. I have read here various objections to obamacare and arguments about accepting what is possible, but it is an example of why the Tea party will win votes. So far its got my vote.
So thats what teapartyers have in common. Then Neil addressed some of their other more disparate views. Lots of groups which oppose one thing or another. If they all got together, then indeed there would be nothing left of US government services. I dont quite know how the doctor who dislikes obamacare feels about the logical consequence that all federal medical services will be halted. The Us has some really weird ideas on funding of healthcare all together.
Didnt hear anyone suggesting that maybe the 25% of spending on the military ought to be slashed. This is a glaring anomaly as no other country on earth spends so much on its military. Many of them perceive the US as their main threat. The US is not threatened by anyone.
Some shots of reposessed houses. Again, while I keep banging on about US banks causing a world recession through messing with the mortgage market, the US is the place where this happened and where the mess has struck individual house owners, not just the population generally. This double whammy has made the effects much worse than anywhere else. People in the UK also do not see why bankers are still in business when they caused such a mess. But it is quite a bit more personal for some in the US.
As far as I can see the whole place is a lot more screwed up than we are. I dont think much of UK politicians, but it looks as though we like them much more than you do yours. Maybe it is because the state in the UK really does provide a lot of services which people do benefit from personally. If there were more central services in the US costing more, maybe fewer people would be objecting to it despite the bigger bill because they would see the benefits. Maybe some of those railing against the US federal government are rather similar to some here railing against the european union. Something they feel they could entirely do without which has nothing to do with them.
Oh Boy...yes, I'm familiar with the MP's expense scandal....but, the divide in America over the role of government runs much deeper than mere abuse of the system. The real question seems to be what is the role of the Federal government (and it's responsibilities...as opposed to the separate states). (There are two singular historical events that fueled this divide).
First, the Tea Party seems to errantly believe that "the states" (as they were known at the time) was some grand utopia, where the Founding Fathers (Gods...as they're often treated)...had settled all questions of governance, and invented the most perfect form of government possible (State's rights with limited Federal government). Never mind that the question of slavery was completely bypassed (We'll just let each state decide that issue...).But, that worked out so well (or for so long...)...as the "States" continued to grow....it ultimately came down to power (doesn't it always...?). The South had built it's considerable economic power through slave labor, and was quite insistent in keeping it ( as the "union" grew).
Well, as we all know...the whole thing eventually collapsed (Pres. James Buchanan stood on the sidelines and helplessly watched). When Pres. Abraham Lincoln was elected, many Southern states fearing his intentions seceded from the union. Pres. Lincoln, determined to preserve the union at any costs, challenged their right to secession...and from there we had a civil war costing 600,000 American lives. Pres. Lincoln ultimately prevailed, and at that point the ultimate supremacy of the Federal government was established. It was at that point that the "states" became the "United States" (this also was result of Lincoln's goal of quickly welcoming back the "states of rebellion " into the family).
The second historical event was "The Great Depression"....and FDR. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, recognizing the depth of suffering within the U.S....and recognizing that America's security was ultimately at risk....greatly expanded the role of the Federal government. Many economic programs (considered to be Keynesian) were enacted in order to hopefully, bale the U.S. out of the economic malaise (some argue that WWII ultimately solved it). The point of contention apparently surrounds "the commerce clause" within the U.S. constitution...
So any way....here we are again....over 200 years later, and many basic issues still haven't been solved. Supposedly, the Tea Party is aghast that it's possible for the Federal government to require you to by "health insurance". Never mind that the Federal government can require you to pay taxes, and serve in the military (yep, both upheld by the courts). What's really funny is when the Republican's proposed this very same thing...it was known as the "Personal Responsibility Act" ! But, now that Obama has made it a reality...it's overstepping our basic constitutional rights ! (LOL)
In the Uk there was a lot of unhappiness with the property tax system, which meant people paid according to the value of their house. It was felt (by some) that this was unfair on poor people living in very big houses, and (perhaps by others) that it was unfair on people living in enormous houses. Anyway, Margaret Thatchers government introduced a flat rate tax, same for every person living in a house. Now this caused enormous fury. There were riots. It was quite a big amount and it was now perceived as unfair on people on low incomes. It became so unpopular that first the government threw money at it. They massively increased the money given to local authorities, which had relied on this tax to raise money, so they could charge less. Then they were forced to replace it with a new property tax once more based on value.
Anyway, this sounds to me exactly like the US medical insurance law. It is a fixed sum, presumably quite large, which you are obliged to pay regardless of income in return for some state services. The UK tax became known as the poll tax, because the best way to avoid it was not to exist on records at a particular address, so you never got billed. Thus you could not register to vote. It was argued this also suited the conservative government which brought it in, since the poor were less likely to vote for them and more likely to 'disappear'.
The principle of a large fixed sum tax was thoroughly rejected by the british population. So might there also be riots in the US?
Have you read any of the back and forth between some of us brits about the EU? There is real debate in the uk about whether it is a good or bad thing to be in the EU, which is perceived as a growing superstate which will take control of britain. Or not. or even yes, but thats good. Sounds like the US citizens are s doubting whether it is good to belong.
O.K....well the system you described (regarding property taxes), is enormously regressive. Here in the U.S...the idea that, if you have a larger house....you also have more money seems to hold. Therefore, you would be expected to pay more in taxes. To us, that's logical...
However, in California....they put a cap on property taxes about 30 years ago (the idea then, was that your house could appreciate to such a point that you couldn't pay taxes on it anymore....if you were a retired couple, this was a real concern !) But, like I said...they put a cap on it...and now the whole state is bankrupt !!!! (I'm sure this can be argued about in other places).
As far as health insurance goes....the idea was that for a given income level, you wouldn't have to pay anything at all...(not fleece the poor)...and, if you were an insurance company...you couldn't pick and choose your customers.
As for the UK and EU...the Brits have been very wise in being skeptical of the EU. The problem is that EU was an "economic union" first, and a political union second (they both need to occur at the same time). As Margret Thatcher said, a country that gives up it's currency gives up it's sovereignty...
i dont know exactly how graduated the US health charges are but everything I have heard says 'not very'. As you say, an enormously regressive tax. Thus the idea of universal health care contains the seeds of its own destruction. California would seem to be a pure mirror of the federal government. Wiling to spend but not willing to tax. But...one of the other lessons from the Uk poll tax disaster is that there is a limit to how much tax you can raise on property. Owning property does not guarantee you have cash to pay big taxes. I undesrtand the US also hates taxes on spending, but that exactly follows people who have spare money. The US needs more taxes on goods.