Today on Blogcritics
Home » The Projectile Vomit-Inducing Rise Of Stumblebum American Incompetence – Where Has US Pragmatism Gone?

The Projectile Vomit-Inducing Rise Of Stumblebum American Incompetence – Where Has US Pragmatism Gone?

Please Share...Tweet about this on Twitter0Share on Facebook0Share on Google+0Share on LinkedIn0Pin on Pinterest0Share on TumblrShare on StumbleUpon0Share on Reddit0Email this to someone

Consider these facts, institutions and people:

1. Katrina, FEMA, “heckuva job, Brownie”.
2. America spends twice as much per capita on healthcare as any other industrial nation, yet our life expectancy ranks #46 in the world.
3. The Iraq War, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Bremer, President Bush, US Congress.
4. Instead of making a car that people want to buy, Ford is laying off workers by the thousands.
5. Enron.
6. US public school education.

What do they all have in common? They’re an expression of the rise of something new in American life: spectacular incompetence.

When we do incompetence, we do it big. War and disaster, Katrina and Iraq, expose our most massive incompetence. It seems like everything we touch turns into a mess. We’ve become a culture of the inept. A nation of screw-ups, we’re led by leaders who are competent at only one thing: fucking up.

Does anyone in America still know how to do a good job? Does anybody even know what a good job is?

It starts at the top, with the guy we voted for as our president. George Bush spent his life going from one business screw-up to another. Should we be surprised that he’s fucking up as our President? No, it’s what he’s done all along.

It carries on into our great national undertakings. The Iraq War. What a screw-up. We go in there, and appoint a fuckup to run the place, Paul Bremer, who fires the entire governing bureaucracy, as well as the entire Iraqi Army, and now we’re surprised it’s a mess. He fires everyone who is actually running the country. How stupidly incompetent is that? And then he gets rewarded with a Medal of Freedom.

The most incompetent administrator in history is rewarded by the most incompetent President in history. No wonder this President has the most incompetent Secretary of Defense in history, who is still running the most incompetent war ever fought in history – despite the fact that everyone is shrieking for Rumsfeld to return to the incompetent hole he crawled out of. Heck, the Taliban are taking Afghanistan over again. The fucking Taliban are more competent than us.

Our incompetence carries on into our great disasters, like Katrina, which are made more disastrous by our incompetent response.

Congress is a joke. They passed one good law this year – to stop the slaughter of horses for their meat. That’s it. That’s the record of Congress this year. Unbelievable, isn’t it?

What does all this say about our nation? It reminds one of Stalinist Russia, where incompetence was also rewarded with medals. Ideological purity and loyalty to stumblebum superiors counted for more than competence. Same here in America. You’re doing your job if you can suck up: that’s all that’s expected.

Incompetence is not only expected, it’s rewarded. The more incompetent we get, the more awards we hand out. We have more Award Shows than we’ve got public toilets. We’ve got the damn Emmy Awards. Imagine that: the TV industry, producers of more crap than all the mammals that shit on earth combined, give each other awards, and have the gall to televise the event, and celebrate their inane, asinine crap.

Incompetence has broken out all over, not just in the media and politics. People cite Enron as an example of CEO nefariousness. They’re wrong. It’s more basic than that: it’s an example of spectacular CEO incompetence. Jeff Schilling didn’t know how to do his job. He didn’t know how to make money. All he knew was how to screw around with doctoring debt and balance sheets.

Take public school education. It’s a joke. They teach math better in Singapore. We’re turning out a generation of incompetents.

A few years ago I started courses at a highly respected college towards a Masters Degree in Education. The courses were a joke, and the biggest joke of all was that the students expected to get A’s for everything they did – and got them. The professors were incompetent, and rewarded their students for their passed-along incompetence with A’s.

I think that’s where our incompetence starts – at our schools and colleges. Our Ivy League schools are turning out something that will ruin us forever – an incompetent elite.

Once upon a time, there was something called American pragmatism. Where has it gone? When the supposed traditional leaders of the nation, the Republican Party, can’t run an efficient government anymore, where are we?

I’ve been trying to think of competent people in public life, and I’ve come up with two:

1. Steve Jobs of Apple. This man knows how to do his job. He executes smart ideas smartly in practical products. When the music industry became totally incompetent in the face of the challenge of the Internet, he saved them with the iPod and iTunes. And how are they reacting to this? Instead of trying to produce good music, they want to charge more than 99 cents per downloaded song. That’s what counts for competence in the music business. That’s the problem: for every Steve Jobs, there are a thousand incompetent CEOs out there, like the guys who run Detroit, and sometime in the nineties, forgot how to make good cars, which the Japanese now come and do in our country – eating our lunch right here at home in front of us.

2. Mayor Bloomberg of New York. This man learned how to do his job real quick. Maybe because he wasn’t a politician to start with. He was a successful businessman. The problem is, for every Mayor Bloomberg, there are a thousand other politicians who can talk all the talk without walking any walk.

Terrorists don’t scare me; I’m not a terrorist-spooked wimp like Bush and Cheney. But America has something to fear besides fear itself. We have to fear our incompetence, and the fact that we reward ourselves for it, and have forgotten to take responsibility for fucking up. If we keep going like we are, we could be a third-world nation in two or three generations.

Maybe we should import competent leaders from South Korea and Singapore, instead of stumbling along with incompetent MBAs from Yale and Harvard. Already we’re the biggest debtor nation on earth, and what does that prove? It proves we’ve become the most irresponsible, incompetent nation on earth.

Oy fucking vey, America.

Powered by

About Adam Ash

  • dee

    Amen… Sad but mostly true.

    Another underlying thing that wasn’t tuched on here. I think people, mostly young people, don’t give a fuck. They care more about celebrities babies than their healthcare. I am one of those who do give a fuck and see that we are heading towards a collision course here. I think we need to start over, we are so corrupt its disgusting and no one seems to give a shit or want to change it. I do. America needs a overhaul starting in government.

  • Nancy

    I’ll take issue in that most of our fire/rescue first responders, most police & troopers, and most of our troops are extremely good at what they do. They are honest, hard-working, insanely dedicated to public service, and suicidally brave. The problem is, as pointed out in the article, they’re led by too many incompetents, who were promoted to their highest level of incompetency. Now, in the fire/police fields, very few personnel suffer fools gladly, no matter how high they are. I’ve seen cops & fire personnel make some poobah’s life living hell until he transfers to another dept. where he can’t do any harm, or outright leaves. Sometimes it takes ‘em awhile, but they DO get him in the end, and they do it because they have no truck with anyone stupid or venal enough to mess with public safety, or to make their own any more tenuous than it is. Unfortunately the military are under more constraint and unable to do that, or I suspect by now Rummy would be lynched, and so would Bush & Cheney.

    Lots of civil servants & much-maligned civilian bureaucrats are honest, hard-working folks, too. In fact, the US is blessed because (except for the seemingly universal & universally-feared MVA departments, which are gummed up no matter WHICH state you’re in) in general the bureaucracy operates totally without graft. Think of any other country, just about, on earth: if you want business done, you have to grease every palm you deal with at every level of government. In the US, that’s actually very, Very rare, and when it’s caught, as it invariably is, it’s very severely punished (with the usual exception of presidential & congressional cronyism, in which case they get medals of honor, as pointed out).

    The rot almost invariably involves anyone involved in politics. Like mold & mildew, politics seems to rot everything & everyone it touches, and it starts at the top. THAT is where all the corruption & incompetence start, and trickle down. Maybe in a sense Reaganomics works.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Adam, this is the first of your articles I’ve liked in a long time. It’s much more rational and developed as an argument than your usual ranting. Good job.

    But OMG the picture. This is the first time I’ve noticed it. I’ve never seen someone whose hairstyle and writing style fit better together.

    Dave

  • Nancy

    Yes – once again I should have said first & foremost, this is a great article.

  • MCH

    “But OMG the picture. This is the first time I’ve noticed it. I’ve never seen someone whose hairstyle and writing style fit better together.”
    – Dave Nalle

    Except for yours.

  • http://adamash.com Adam Ash

    Dave,, thank you. We do what we can.

    Nancy, you’re right, we have many competent people doing the actual work, but it seems the higher up the ladder you go, the more shocking the incompetence gets, until you get as high up as government leaders and CEOs, and then it really gets bad.
    Adam

  • Baronius

    Good article.

    But Detroit screwing up and public schools declining, those aren’t exactly new. Steve Jobs oversaw probably the greatest loss of market share in modern industrial history. Apple’s PC sales have been steady for about 25 years, in an industry that’s been kinda growing.

    I’d love to hear more about your experience in an education program. I’ve heard a lot of broad condemnations of education programs, but not many specifics.

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    The more I get paid the less I try*. Is that so wrong?

    * – implies that I do a lot of great work for Blogcritics. So much for that theory.

  • Nancy

    I agree 100%, which is why I’m always so enraged by the obscene overcompensation that CEOs and other execs get for doing little or no work – certainly nothing worth what they’re paid! I KNOW for a fact of one large-corp exec who gets paid a 7-figure salary for stopping by the office every few weeks to attend a few meetings; the rest of the time he’s on his boat or schmoozing with his buddies. His assistant & secretary do all his work, yet he takes the credit and the money. This is the kind of exec I’d love to see get the Russian revolution treatment, or better, the French Revolution – a guillotine & his head on a pike as a warning to other lazy, greedy pigs.

  • Bliffle

    True, true. All too true.

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    “His assistant & secretary do all his work, yet he takes the credit and the money.”

    Again, I see nothing wrong with this. One day I’ll go from contributing to the greater good of the company in exchange for a shiny new quarter, then if I keep at it in 20 years I’ll spend my work week rolling around naked with a model in a pile of $100 bills.

    (And apparently he doesn’t take all the credit or else you wouldn’t know they do the work.)

  • Nancy

    I know the two peons who have to do his work for him, is how I know what a creep he is. I rejoice to hear yesterday the bastard has stomach cancer. I hope it’s slooooooow. He can enjoy it on his yacht.

  • JustOneMan

    Gee this is the best Bush Bash Masturbation Session in a long while…

    Dont you guys ever get tired of yelling “Bush lied” “Bush is not our President”

    Adam…not to get personal…but you posted your picture…does the ointment you use to style that “do” of yours have anything to do with your compulsive masturbation?…..

  • Nancy

    You have sexual inadequacy problems, JOM, don’t you. You know, if you’d quit demonstrating the urgency & desperation of your need to make yourself out to be a foulmouthed macho shithead, no one would know you were actually a cretinous eunuch.

  • zingzing

    oh that’s NICE, nancy. whew. that felt good! thank you for saying what we are all thinking: jom, go get laid. don’t pay for it this time.

  • Nancy

    You’re all most welcome.

  • JustOneMan

    gee I guess I ended you Liberal Circle Jerk…thank God!

  • JustOneMan

    Zing

    Dont pay for it this time? But your mom does need the money. Shes saving up for your birthday present! Gee at $5 bucks a whack she has a long way to go!

  • Clavos

    Adam,

    Overall, a good article in which you make some excellent points, especially about the educational system.

    One small quibble; you say:

    Steve Jobs of Apple. This man knows how to do his job.

    I won’t argue with you about the ipod and itunes; they’re brilliant ideas AND well marketed. But Jobs comes late to the marketing game.

    Like Sony with the Beta VCR, Jobs and his team blew the marketing of the Mac big time.

    All but the most rabid PC enthusiasts agree that the Mac is (and has been from the beginning) a superior machine with a better operating system, and yet even after adopting Intel processors, Apple still only has a less than 5% share of the market (Dell has 32%), according to a recent issue of MacWorld.

    Disclaimer: I have never owned a Mac, and I don’t work for Apple.

    The foregoing notwithstanding, It’s a good article. It seems as if mediocrity has become our new standard in so much of American life, particularly the workplace.

    Scary, especially every time one gets on an airplane or winds up in an operating room!

  • MCH

    We need an edit on #18, please.
    Thankyou.

  • Nancy

    Editors: where are you when needed?

  • JustOneMan

    Nancy and MCH…please read read your own comments……before you start yer cryin!

  • Alien

    And you have only just scratched the surface!!! I am a resident “alien” in USA (yes I come from another planet) – go figure.

    Having lived and worked in other countries including 3rd world, I can only shake my head in abject horror as I watch America self destruct for most of the reasons you so eloquently describe. Perhaps 4th world would be a better way to describe it…. a 1st world country performing and behaving like a 3rd world country.

    The levels of incompetence, corruption, fraud and total lack of responsibility remind one of ancient Rome. How sad.

    Where are all the so called “brains” in the USA and why are they allowing their country to be decimated by the vagaries of a two party state (some democracy!!)? Why aren’t they running for office, or attempting to enact positive change? Just like they are ignoring the environment, so are they ignoring what is going on around them in the political arena. Ah!!! Do I hear the call of “money”??

    After the Asians take over in the not too distant future – economically speaking, they already have – it will be too late and the US will be just another footnote in their history books.

    Hopefully this will occur after I have taken up residence in the afterlife, or a wooden box.

  • Nancy

    The US electorate is caught in the talons of a greedy plutocracy – only nominally of two parties, actually they’re all from the same socioeconomic class – who in turn run and & run by the multinational corporations & THEIR culture of greed and power frenzy. To shake them off would require money – probably on the scale of a Bill Gates or two or three – or a mass uprising along the lines of 1917 Russia or the French Revolution of the 1790s, which won’t happen given the TV- & mass-media induced torpor most Americans are conditioned to just about from birth. They aren’t taught to think critically, and their attention spans are about the length of the average marketing sound bite – and that’s the way the US overlords of Big Business & politics want it to stay: a nation of perfectly conditioned consumerist sheep who may object but won’t rebel at being fleeced on a regular basis by those supposed to be their sworn shepherds.

  • STM

    America, there is a simple way around all this: compulsory voting.

    Democracy is a privilege, and a responsibility, not a right. Not voting means surrendering that responsibility, and as a result you then reap what you’ve sown (or not sown, more accurately) and thus have no cause for complaint.

    Under the complsory system, if you really don’t want to vote, you register at the polling station and then vote informally. Perfectly legal. But you are expected to turn up and do your civic duty, nevertheless.

    It has worked for nearly a century in my country – one of the world’s most stable and economically viable democracies and one of the first countries to introduce the vote for women (in the equivalent of state elections in the late 1800s).

    It applies here to all three tiers of government: federal, state and local and forces the electorate to think. If politicians veer even slightly from the path of good governance, they are at risk of losing their seats as the voting process tends to be far less partisan, with many elections decided by the swinging vote.

    And really, being made to vote is not that different to being forced to obey speed limits on major highways.

    Do it now, America. The advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.

  • Nancy

    It will never happen here. It SHOULD, but it won’t, for EXACTLY the reasons you cite: it would ensure good government – and that’s exactly what the plutocracy & corporations DON’T want is for the citizens to re-take control of government & their lives.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Compulsory voting doesn’t insure good government, it insures that people who don’t even know who’s running and check off a candidate at random will show up and vote based on how a candidate’s name sounds or their gender or pure name recognition. Such a system favors incumbents even more than our current system does.

    Dave

  • http://alienboysworld.blogspot.com Christopher Rose

    Which is, of course, their right, wouldn’t you agree?

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    I agree it’s the right of every voter to vote like an idiot, but why force them to place an uninformed vote when they’d really rather stay home?

    We’re getting fantastic voter turnout in major elections these days, so I don’t think this is really a problem which needs to be addressed.

    Dave

  • S.T.M

    Dave Nalle said: “Compulsory voting doesn’t insure (sic) good government, it insures that people who don’t even know who’s running and check off a candidate at random will show up and vote based on how a candidate’s name sounds or their gender or pure name recognition. Such a system favors incumbents even more than our current system does.”

    Yes, I have heard this crap before from some “educated” Americans (usually Republicans), and I have one thing to say, Dave: you absolutely are full of sh.t in relation to this.

    What you describe is not our experience (and really, without having been part of it, how the fu.k would you know anyway?), and its main advantage is an electorate that is not polarised.

    It also tends to negate the power of big-money or big-union lobby groups (giving the real power at the polls, and in the lead-up to the vote, to the electorate, where it’s meant to be) and allows politicians, voters and governments to explore a fair bit of the middle ground with some equanimity – you know, important stuff like banning guns, universal free healthcare (or not), workplace rights, minimum wage rises, personal freedoms and human rights in the age of terrorism, tax, education, foreign policy, reductions in the pump price of petrol, and so on and so forth.

    And it certainly doesn’t favour incumbents, as you assert. Possibly in places like Venezuela, but not here. It follows no pattern, apart from the one where people might give a government the benefit of the doubt AND a second term – in other words, a “fair go”, unless they are spectacularly bad.

    While a few hundred votes in one marginal seat can actually swing an entire federal election, there have been plenty of landslide victories for oppositions.

    The only thing I can add is that the proof is in the pudding: this country is a much fairer place to live than the US, with a much lower rate of poverty, and better overall living standards, so it must be working. The well being and satisfaction of a nation’s people are pretty good indicators.

    I suggest you go and do your fu.king homework for once, rather than simply indulge in your usual rude, crude, knee-jerk trick of running off at the mouth (or keyboard) and trying to baffle everyone with clever-sounding bullsh.t that often has little or no basis in fact.

  • S.T.M

    Dave Nalle said: “We’re getting fantastic voter turnout in major elections these days.”

    So, what’s the figure these days, Dave, then? Still between 30 and 40 per cent?

    I’d prefer a system where 99 per cent of people have put their (mostly) informed choices down – and have been heard, no matter their standing in society or social situation.

    Otherwise, you can claim all you like about it being a democracy – but it’s not representative of ALL the people if only some have voted.

    This is the major failing of the US political system.

    It’s only one, really.

  • Nancy

    As I’ve said before, if I had my druthers, anyone who failed to vote in a national election without a damn good reason (like they were dead or in hospital or stationed overseas – and they had to prove it, too) would lose their voting rights, and possibly their drivers’ license, and wouldn’t be able to get it back without taking an good, stiff, intensive civics class and passing with at LEAST a solid C. There’s no excuse for not voting except sheer laziness and stupidity, which is what incumbents & Big Money count on.

  • Nancy

    However, STM, there’s no need to castigate Dave with that kind of language. He’s a good guy overall, and he says he votes, & I believe him.

  • S.T.M

    Yes, Nancy, I have been very naughty … but I do enjoy it. And I do find Dave strangely annoying, despite liking his writing and appreciating his fondness for crispy-skin duck.

    But on this one, AND the oil war, he is wrong.

    The true mark of genius is remaining teachable … not telling every bastard all the time that they are wrong.

  • Clavos

    STM,

    First, the disclaimer:

    “This is NOT a challenge, just real curiosity on my part.”

    I assume the Aborigines have the vote–when did they get it?

  • S.T.M

    Hello Clav: Yes, of course Aborigines have the vote, although their treatment at times from various federal and state governments over the years has been reprehensible.

    I have cut and pasted this stuff from the Australian Electoral Commission website, which answers your question:

    “Ask Australians when Aborigines got the vote and most of them will say 1967. The referendum in that year is remembered as marking a turning point in attitudes to Aboriginal rights. In one of the few ‘yes’ votes since federation, 90.77 per cent of Australians voted to change the Constitution to allow the Commonwealth to make laws for Aborigines and to include them in the census.

    “But the referendum didn’t give Aborigines the right to vote. They already had it. Legally their rights go back to colonial times. When Victoria, New South Wales, Tasmania and South Australia framed their constitutions in the 1850s they gave voting rights to all male British subjects over 21, which of course included Aboriginal men. And in 1894 when South Australia gave women the right to vote and sit in Parliament, Aboriginal women shared the right. Only Queensland and Western Australia barred Aborigines from voting.”

    As a result of this, it was thought at the time of federation in 1901 that not all Aborigines could vote in federal elections, as those not on the existing state rolls were unable to register, but some commonwealth election officials took this to mean no aboriginal voting period. It becomes complicated, with a section of the constitition (the infamous Section 41) open to interpretation, often wrongly, but it was not a universal lock-out. It’s worth noting here that many Queenslanders and some West Australians at the turn of the century and probably up to the 1960s had the same kind of attitudes to black people that you’d encounter in the southern states of the US.

    Self-examination by Australians in the ’60s put this to rights, around the same time African-Americans were fighting for their rights in places like Alabama, Georgia and Missisippi.

    So the real date is the 1850s, not the late ’60s as is erroneously believed. It just took a long time for them to be able to exercise this right universally, which is an indication of how our racist attitudes prevailed through that period.

    Today, the aboriginal people and their culture are very much celebrated as part of mainstream Australia, although there is still plenty to address and it would be an understatement to say that things are far from perfect.

  • Clavos

    Thanks, STM.

    I’m still a little confused; you seemed to say that, as of 1894, Aborigines in Queensland and Western Australia still weren’t enfranchised. But, unless I missed it, I don’t see when they did get the vote?

  • Clavos

    OOPS!

    Just saw it here:

    Self-examination by Australians in the ’60s put this to rights, around the same time African-Americans were fighting for their rights in places like Alabama, Georgia and Missisippi.

    Here’s a new question:

    What kinds of problems (resentment perhaps?) arose because, for so many years Aborigines living in some parts of the Federation COULD vote while those in the aforementioned areas couldn/t?

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Yes, I have heard this crap before from some “educated” Americans (usually Republicans), and I have one thing to say, Dave: you absolutely are full of sh.t (sic) in relation to this.

    What you describe is not our experience (and really, without having been part of it, how the fu.k (sic) would you know anyway?), and its main advantage is an electorate that is not polarised (sic).

    What I’m able to do is apply logic to the idea. If you bring in uninformed and uninterested voters to vote, their votes will largely be random. What they will do is provide an averaging effect, or a herd mentality, vote for the most known name effect. This ought to be obvious. It doesn’t mean that they will screw up elections or elect the Nazi party or anything like that. But
    it doesn’t have any positive impact and as you point out it DOES reduce polarization. Reducing polarization is a bad thing because it leads to closely contested races and problems like we had in 2004 and 2000, years in which we had extraordinarily high voter turnout.

    It also tends to negate the power of big-money or big-union lobby groups

    Logically, it should increase the power of big-money groups, though not necessarily unions, because advertising will be the only knowledge the reluctant voters have of the candidates, so those with the money to advertise have an edge. You might be right on it reducing the power of unions, though.

    (giving the real power at the polls, and in the lead-up to the vote, to the electorate, where it’s meant to be)

    I’m all for that, but except in a purely technical and superficial sense, I’m not confident that it does this. You have some arguments, but they aren’t based on any kind of hard data as far as I can tell. Have studies on ‘reluctant’ voters been done in Australia?

    and allows politicians, voters and governments to explore a fair bit of the middle ground with some equanimity – you know, important stuff like banning guns, universal free healthcare (or not), workplace rights, minimum wage rises, personal freedoms and human rights in the age of terrorism, tax, education, foreign policy, reductions in the pump price of petrol, and so on and so forth.

    These are all important issues, but I don’t see how having additional voters makes it any easier to address them.

    And it certainly doesn’t favour incumbents, as you assert. Possibly in places like Venezuela, but not here. It follows no pattern, apart from the one where people might give a government the benefit of the doubt AND a second term – in other words, a “fair go”, unless they are spectacularly bad.

    Show me a study that proves this. I’m not convinced because it doesn’t make sense. Incumbents should have more name recognition and therefore unmotivated voters will logically be more likely to vote for them.

    The only thing I can add is that the proof is in the pudding: this country is a much fairer place to live than the US, with a much lower rate of poverty, and better overall living standards, so it must be working. The well being and satisfaction of a nation’s people are pretty good indicators.

    I’d love to see your proof of the connection between these things and how many people vote. That would be a hell of a study to do in a scientific way.

    As for Australia in every way being better than the US, we have 30% higher per capita income, a higher rate of GDP growth, lower unemployment, fewer people in poverty. The reason you can claim the last is that Australia does not officially measure poverty or have an official poverty rate, but non-government assessments show a poverty rate about 20% higher than the US.

    I suggest you go and do your fu.king homework for once,

    Odd, I think if you ask people here on BC I have a reputation for doing my homework pretty damned well. I’m not the one here who misrepresented the economic superiority of Australia over the US.

    trying to baffle everyone with clever-sounding bullsh.t that often has little or no basis in fact.

    If the facts I post baffle you, perhaps you should reassess your assumptions.

    So, what’s the figure these days, Dave, then? Still between 30 and 40 per cent?

    Once again you trumpet your ignorance and bigotry. In fact, voter turnout in the last election was 64.8%. Even with compulsory voting about 5% of Australians still don’t vote. And BTW, Australia is only 1 of 3 major nations which practice compulsory voting.

    I’d prefer a system where 99 per cent

    Or 95%, but who’s quibbling.

    of people have put their (mostly) informed choices

    What evidence do you have that the 30% of voters who wouldn’t have voted in a voluntary system are reasonably informed?

    Otherwise, you can claim all you like about it being a democracy – but it’s not representative of ALL the people if only some have voted.

    Of course it is. It’s representative of everyone because those who choose not to vote are making their preference known by that choice. We don’t restrict ANYONE from voting. It’s entirely in their hands.

    Dave

  • Martin Lav

    Incompetence caused by the conservative right capitalists and their agenda to line their pockets with more money, by farming out our work to foreigners, breaking the unions and allowing illegal immigrants unfettered access to our jobs.
    The grocery stores in California are a perfect example of what I’m talking about. Since they took on the Unions, now every Tom, Dick and Harry can scan my purchases at a minimum wage. Quality sucks. Gone right out the window with middle class.

  • NAZI KILLER

    WOW
    I haven’t heard someone tell the truth in along time comparing other media.
    I think this is fantastic to read ,you are not afraid to call it what it is.
    EL DIABLOCO and almost all congress and house of reps should be prosecuted and put in jail or executed, seize all their assets to pay for the crimes,and all their relatives barred from public office, they will seek revenge. That is just step one. IF any elected official lies they should be fired and put in jail,immediately.
    But that’s not going to happen so YES america is totally FUCKED, NO ONE TRUSTS OR BELEIVES AMERICA ever and for EXTREMELY good reasons.
    AMERICA IS A PARIAH and hopefully “THE MACHINE EATS ITSELF”…..KARMA KARMA KARMA

  • S.T.M

    Dave Nalle said: “As for Australia in every way being better than the US, we have 30% higher per capita income, a higher rate of GDP growth, lower unemployment, fewer people in poverty.”

    I didn’t say it was “better in every way than the US”. I don’t suggest that for a moment, but it does rank consistently in surveys as a more desirable place to life. I did say overall standard of living. I don’t believe the 20 per cent poverty rate either. Go back and read the post without reading between the lines. But here’s some facts to counter the usual argument. In 2003, the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook ranked Australia as the most resilient economy in the world, and the OECD forecast that Australia’s economic growth in 2004 and 2005 would outstrip that of most industrial countries. The Yearbook ranked Australia 11th in the world on total expenditure on R&D, with US$ 5.9 billion. R&D expenditure by government agencies in Australia, as a percentage of GDP, is among the highest in the OECD, including higher than the US. Gross expenditure on R&D increased by 15 per cent from A$8 936m in 1998-99 to A$10 251m in 2000-01.

    The IMD rates Australia second only to the US in terms of per capita GDP adjusted for purchasing power parity. In 2004, the figures were (in US dollars): The US, 1st, $38,260; Australia, 2nd, $30,348, followed by Japan, Germany, France and the UK, all under $30,000 on purchasing power parity.

    A substantally lower cost of living, however, more than compensates for any differential in income, which if it is being measured in $US dollar terms is an artificial yardstick since the $A is worth about 25 per cent less than the $US on international markets, but in terms of what you can do with your money in either country, dollar for dollar it’s about the same. A fluctuating exchange rate is a poor tool for these kinds of comparisons.

    ie, if I earn $A150,000 a year here, I can do pretty much the same with it as if I earned $US150,000 in the US. That is my experience in both countries. The only place I lose is when I’m changing to US dollars, but then I gain the other way around.

    Finally Dave, I did say overall standard of living: Australia consistently rates higher than the US on quality of life surveys conducted all around the world.

    Although the two countries are probably the most similar of any two nations in the world in terms of lifestyle, in my view, it is a marginally better place to live than the US, but I guess that depends on what you’re after.

    It is subjective, after all.

  • S.T.M

    Dave Nalle said: “What I’m able to do is apply logic to the idea. If you bring in uninformed and uninterested voters to vote, their votes will largely be random.”

    What makes you think that is the case? … don’t judge us by your standards, and in relation to the post as a whole, I will say this: it is worthwhile for non-Americans to challenge Americans’ Amero-centric views on everything.

    There are other views out there that hold as much water; it’s time you embraced a few.

    Contempt of everything non-American prior to investigation is a peculiarly American, isolationist type of arrogance.

    Perhaps it’s part of the problem in terms of how others perceive you (although we in Australia have a genuine fondness for Americans, and if you read my original post properly you will see that it is neither bigoted, tainted by jingoism nor coloured by a dislike of the US).

    And Clavos, yes, there is still much lingering resentment over racism (our immigration system was even set up once upon a time to stop non-whites entering the country). However, perceptions change with the times and the main areas where this has been the case has been sport, where many aboriginal Australians shine, especially in the football codes, and the arts.

    The Australian Football player of the year announced this week is Aboriginal, and that is not unusual. I think with the advent of multiculturalism in this country, skin colour or ethnic background ceases to be an issue, for the most part.

    Sadly, however, for Aborigines, because of the damage done it has been a long and slow process and is yet to really translate to any genuine equality across the board, except in legal terms.

  • S.T.M

    Dave Nalle said: “Logically, it should increase the power of big-money groups, though not necessarily unions, because advertising will be the only knowledge the reluctant voters have of the candidates, so those with the money to advertise have an edge.”

    There are policed limits on contributions to political parties, and while it as an ad-hoc approach compared to that of other, more progressive countries like Canada, it at least remains transparent.

    Without this safeguard, I agree that it could be more of a problem than it is. However, the two main political forces, the conservative Liberal Party and its coalition partner, the rural-based National Party, and the more liberal, left-leaning Labor Party, tend to spend about the same amounts on electoral campaigns.

    There is also a three-day electronic media blackout starting on the Wednesday before the poll, which provides a cooling-off period for voters who might want to reassess all the facts without being bombarded by political propaganda.

  • Baronius

    STM – My reason for opposing mandatory voting is based on personal experience. During one period of my life, I was completely uninformed politically. A part of me will always be ashamed that I didn’t vote back then, but realistically if I’d voted, I wouldn’t have been making an informed choice.

    I probably would have fallen into the easiest trap, voting by party affiliation. I would have continued voting for “my” party for years, even though that original decision was based on rumors and fairy dust. Then I would have died as a fool who had destroyed his country. I’m sorry, what were we talking about?

    I’ve done a lot of election work over the years, from voter registration drives to supporting individual candidates. I’ve seen the actions of many people who were as poorly informed as I used to be. I’m not persuaded that compulsory voting would work.

    Maybe compulsory voting is beneficial in a society that grew up with it, but there’s no reason to think it would fit the US. The American political tradition is a dichotomy: apathy when content, uprising when upset. That’s why the minority party says things like “wake up, people” and “stumblebum incompetence”. It’s why our system lurches. We don’t want an efficient government. An inefficient government is bad, but an efficient one is terrifying.

  • Clavos

    STM,

    There is also a three-day electronic media blackout starting on the Wednesday before the poll, which provides a cooling-off period for voters who might want to reassess all the facts without being bombarded by political propaganda.

    That’s a hell of a good idea! We get literally bombarded, particularly those last few days.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    First off, I agree with STD that Australia is a damned fine place to live. I’ve got some Aussie friends and they seem to have positive values and decent overall life experiences. Which doesn’t diminish the quality of life in the US. I think that overall the US beats Australia slightly on material values, while Australia probably does a bit better than most of the US on intangibles that figure into quality of life. But the key thing in any comparison is that the US is much more regionally diverse than Australia is, and the quality of life here may be similar on average to Australia, but we have both areas which are much worse and others which are much better. My guess is that Texas – where I live – is one of the parts of the US most comparable to Australia, at least that’s what Aussies I know who have moved here seem to thik.

    But, a couple of quibbles or points of interest.

    The IMD rates Australia second only to the US in terms of per capita GDP adjusted for purchasing power parity. In 2004, the figures were (in US dollars): The US, 1st, $38,260; Australia, 2nd, $30,348, followed by Japan, Germany, France and the UK, all under $30,000 on purchasing power parity.

    As of the end of fiscal 2006 the US rose to $41K and Australia remained at that same $30K. So our standard of living appears to be rising slightly faster.

    Although the two countries are probably the most similar of any two nations in the world in terms of lifestyle, in my view, it is a marginally better place to live than the US, but I guess that depends on what you’re after.

    Most of what I’d be after is probably available in Australia, except massive number of personal firearms.

    Dave

  • troll

    ‘STD’…you sly dog

  • STM

    Baronius said: “My reason for opposing mandatory voting is based on personal experience. During one period of my life, I was completely uninformed politically. A part of me will always be ashamed that I didn’t vote back then, but realistically if I’d voted, I wouldn’t have been making an informed choice.”

    I had just turned 18 in the 1970s when the Governor-General sacked the elected government of Australia (the Whitlam Labor Government) because supply (of money) decisions made in the House of Representatives were being blocked in the opposition-controlled Senate.

    Such a sacking was unheard of, as the Queen’s representative in Australia is meant to be like her: a figurehead only, and with no input into the electoral process. However, the legal right to do such things exists.

    It meant there had to be a new election, and it caused a constitutional crisis. Hindsight is a marvellous thing, and it was probably the only way of breaking the deadlock, which is what such safeguards are all about. But it was a very controversial thing to sack an elected government (it’s the eqivalent of impeachment).

    At the time, I was told by my father to vote for the Opposition Liberal Party, which did subsequently come to power, as the Labor Party had been bringing about some really radical social change. However, I live forever with the knowledge that I caved in as a naive young man who should have stood up for the idea that an elected government should be able to serve its full term without being forced to go back to the polls.

    It made me, and a lot of other people, think very hard. I haven’t made the same mistake twice. We are very involved, generally, in the political process. My take on the whole thing is this: because with compulsory voting the closer elections tend to be decided by the swinging vote (sometimes literally by a handful of votes), it means that politicians must remain on their toes as they know they are on shaky ground. That can only be good.

    It certainly cuts down the potential excesses of government, although doesn’t eliminate them completely.

    But I’m not sure making the odd mistake early-doors as a voter means much in the long run. A hiccup is just that.

    And Clav, it does work: there have been elections where you’d swear that going by the pre-poll surveys a certain party would win, and the opposite happens because people have had the opportunity to sit down and think for three days without having their brains peppered with bullsh.t.

  • STM

    Troll said, of Dave Nalle’s classic piece of clever opportunism: “‘STD’… you sly dog”

    Nice one, Dave.

    Mate, please don’t misinterpret constructive criticism as my having a potshot at the US – I love the place, and Americans, but it’s always good to challenge the accepted view.

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Sorry, the STD thing was actually entirely unintentional. It’s just a combination of letters I type more frequently than STM, though it might also be a case of an aversive reaction as I once had a particularly sleazy mortgage holdern called STM Mortgage.

    We are very involved, generally, in the political process. My take on the whole thing is this: because with compulsory voting the closer elections tend to be decided by the swinging vote (sometimes literally by a handful of votes)

    You seem to be confirming what I was saying, that the 30% of the voters who are coerced into it have an averaging effect and bring the elections closer by more or less splitting evenly on a random basis. That may not be a problem in Australia, but here in the US we have a demonstrated problem with actually counting the votes properly, so it might not be a good thing if major elections are too close. One of the good things about the Ohio count in 2004 was that it was far enough apart that even with the irregularities and counting problems the margin was enough that if the disputed votes went the other way the result would have still been the same.

    Dave

  • http://www.theofficediaries.com mrofficeslave

    Incompetence is always rewarded – I think that’s something that we can all relate to if we consider some of the bosses we’ve had in our lives! Incompetence getting rewarded!

  • Cindy D

    mrofficeslave,

    I take it that you are not amongst those who “love” their boss then?

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Incompetent bosses exist all over the world. The fellow who heads up the volunteer unit I serve in in the Israel Police used to be a deputy director of the Income Tax Division of the Ministry of Finance here. The compliance with income tax laws in Israel is one of the lowest rates in the Western world.

    Needless to say, this incompetent fool from the Ministry of Finance has brought his incompetence here to the volunteer unit as well! The higher-ups in the District administration are starting to cut resources to the unit to punish his incompetence!