04 October 2008

"A time in America, back in the day, when men and women were free..."

Great post on Paul Krugman's blog about Sarah Palin's quote of Ronald Reagan in the V-P debate. Apparently Reagan said in the 1960s that the US Medicare programme (their tax-funded health insurance programme for pensioners) would lead to totalitarianism. Well people said the same thing about the NHS prior to 1948, of course.

But what's most funny/chilling is the final line from the Reagan quote:

we have to fight for [freedom] and protect it... or we’re going to find ourselves spending our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children about a time in America, back in the day, when men and women were free.
Which is of course, what's already happening in the US. Parents are now telling their kids "back in the day, you could be sure that your vote would count and there wasn't massive institutionalised fraud. Back in the day, we didn't have indefinite detention of immigrants, mass surveillance with no legal oversights, and any of the rest of the drift to a police state. Back in the day we weren't the slaves of entrenched corporate interests..."

(Do take Alex Jones with a large shaker of salt by the way - he may be both insane and distateful to many people, but does at least raise some real issues, even if you don't agree with the conclusions he draws).

Not that I'm feeling in any way superior to the US, of course: the UK ain't much better. I mean ID cards, ferchrissakes.

But it was a good example of the mythical bullshit that passes for the 'received' view of the USA in the media over there (and to an extent over here. The BBC's North America, Justin Webb, for example, seems to swallow this crap wholesale).

The USA held up as the defender of freedom whereas in fact it's probably one of the least 'free' countries in the developed world on any index... and set to become even less free if John McCain gets in. And probably even if Obama gets in, because the Democrats seem to swallow this nonsense wholesale as well - whether because they really believe the hype, or they're just playing dumb to avoid criticism by a reactionary media, I don't know.

The two-party system in the US (and indeed the two-and-a-half party system here) has a lot to answer for, in terms of stifling dissent.

But at least, the global economic system lives to fight another day as Congress has passed the bail-out. Whether it'll do much good in the long run (which could be a matter of weeks rather than years) is an interesting question.

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