Tag Archives: Croatia

IS DONALD TRUMP A FASCIST?

trump-fascist.sized-770x415xt

I would be amused if it wasn’t so serious.

The venerable (!) New York Times carried a front-page news story on Sunday that had “Trump” and “fascism” in the title.

Fascism is defined as follows:  an authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organization.

Donald Trump has many faults, but he can hardly be called a “fascist.”

Fascist countries in World War II included Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Hungary, Croatia and Japan, all of which invaded other countries or practiced genocide, or both.   I can’t see that happening under Mr. Trump.

The US constitution has been in effect for over 200 years.  Except for a major hiccup known as the Civil War, it’s worked quite well.   The checks and balances in place have been quite effective.   It will be hard for a President Trump (or a second Clinton) to rule in an authoritarian manner, no matter how authoritarian the candidate might sound now.

The NYT should be careful what it writes (that would require a change in editorial policy in itself!) and not be frightening people.

Other media outlets in the last few days have chosen to use words like “Trump” and “violence” in the same sentence, when covering Trump rallies.   But, please note, the violence is caused by those opposed to Trump.   TV coverage shows most have been immigrants who fear he will send them all back to their country of origin.

Instead of throwing gasoline onto the fire, why can’t our TV news programs and the New York Times, show where the Republican presidential candidate is wrong.   They could actually do this in an intelligent debate.   Admittedly, less people would be inclined to watch, so ratings would suffer, which is what it’s all about.

But Mr. Trump needs to be pinned down on foreign policy, especially. His understanding of international relations could result in the US losing its allies, in which case the President of the United States would no longer be “the Leader of the Free World.”   His proposals on trade could actually make things a lot worse.   A history lesson on the 1930 Smoot-Hawley Act would be a good place to start.

There are some good reasons not to vote for Donald Trump; just as there are good reasons not to vote for Hillary Clinton.   The moniker (no pun intended):   “crooked Hillary” is not without merit.    Check out the book “Clinton Cash” by Peter Schweizer:   “The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich” (2015).

Neither candidate would have made it under a parliamentary system.

If there are good reasons not to vote for either Trump or Hillary, then perhaps it’s time not to vote at all!

——————————————————————————-

Alex Haley’s novel “Roots” was turned into a highly successful 1977 TV mini-series.   A new version is showing on The History Channel this week.

The original series did not improve race relations.

Supposedly, Haley traced his ancestry back to The Gambia.

Some years later, research by a historian proved that Haley could not have done that.   In fact, his book was not a novel based on fact, but, simply, just a novel.   Of course, when this was revealed it was on page 17 of the New York Times!

So far, we have not been told that the new series is also fiction and that Haley could not trace his genealogy back very far.

Whether it only makes racial tensions worse remains to be seen.

The slavery depicted in “Roots” was horrible.   So is the slavery of today.   According to UNESCO a few years ago, slavery is now back in every single African nation.   When will one of our television companies make a series on that?

——————————————————————————-

Race relations are set to deteriorate further in South Africa after the country’s parliament passed a Land Reform bill that will enable the president to effectively confiscate white-owned farmland to promote equality.

“South Africa has passed a bill criticized by some opposition parties and farming groups that allows the compulsory purchase of land in the public interest.

The bill, approved by parliament on Thursday, will enable the state to pay for land at a value determined by a government adjudicator and then expropriate it for the “public interest,” ending the willing-buyer/willing-seller approach to land reform.”  (Al-Jazeera, 27th May.)

This may seem progressive in western countries, but it’s actually a big regressive step backwards.

White South African farmers have been highly productive commercial farmers.   That is, they farm on a massive scale.   Black African farmers, by contrast, are subsistence farmers.   They just grow enough for their own families.   It’s a cultural difference.

When President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe confiscated white farmland almost twenty years ago, food production in the country plummeted and the nation’s economy was shattered.   Within a few years, the country was bankrupt and its money worthless.

It will take a while for South Africa to reach that point, but it will come.

The difference between Zimbabwe and South Africa is that the former was helped by South Africa’s agricultural produce during its man-made famine.   South Africa has no such neighbor.   Its people will starve.

DEBT, DEBT AND MORE DEBT

debt

I heard a few days ago that there are twice as many Cash Advance outlets as Starbucks in the US.

Now, there are plenty of Starbucks stores around.   In fact, it seems that they are on every third or fourth block but, apparently, there are twice as many places lending people money at exorbitant rates of interest.

It shows that an increasing number of people are desperate.

When they have to pay a bill or borrow cash to buy a birthday gift for a loved one, they need to borrow the money.   They have no savings, no bank account and no credit card.   Sometimes they are simply maxed out, having borrowed and borrowed until they cannot borrow any more.

Borrowing from cash advance places does not improve a person’s financial condition in the long term.   The APR can be a staggeringly high 1800%, depending on how quickly the money is paid back. Sadly, most of those borrowing from such places have little understanding of how to handle money.

With this in mind, it’s encouraging to note that Croatia has become the first country in modern times to cancel the debts of its 60,000 poorest citizens.

When you think about it, this may be a quick and effective way of getting an economy moving again, assuming the 60,000 can be taught how to live within their means.   Further borrowing would only repeat a negative cycle.

Debt cancelation is not something new.   You can see evidence of it in the Old Testament.   Leviticus, chapter 25, commanded the cancellation of all debts every fifty years.   It was known as the Year of Jubilee and began on the Day of Atonement at the beginning of the 50th year.

Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants.   It shall be a jubilee for you; each of you is to return to your family property and to your own clan.”  (verse 10)

In addition to what we read of ancient Israel, the Babylonians had a similar system of debt cancelation.

It’s arguably the best way to get western economies moving again.

At a higher level, it could even be applied to countries like Greece, who are overwhelmed with debt.   The problem, though, is that Greece has been guilty of reckless over-spending and does nothing about corruption.   These would have to be dealt with at the same time as canceling debt obligations.

But canceling debts may be the only way out of the fiscal mess the West is in.

CROATIA BECOMES THE 28TH MEMBER OF THE EUROPEAN UNION

croatia

Today, July 1st, Croatia became the newest member of the EU.  Membership talks continue with Montenegro, set to become member number 29.  Talks with Serbia are scheduled to begin next year, bringing the total to 30.  Others may follow.

At a time when the EU’s continuing fiscal problems continue to make headlines, it must seem strange that countries are lining up to become members.   Clearly, the perception over there on the continent of Europe is different to what it is here in the United States.

“Enlargement has been the EU’s most successful policy, bar none.  The hope of membership was crucial in fostering and smoothing the transition to democracy, first in Greece, Spain and Portugal and later across large parts of eastern Europe.  The lure of joining the rich democrats’ club led countries into social and constitutional reform and persuaded them to free statist economies.  The results benefited not just new members, but existing ones, too.”  (“Keeping up with the Croats,” The Economist, June 29th)

Meanwhile, anticipated talks to promote a free trade area between the EU (the world’s biggest single market) and the US (the world’s biggest single national economy) are looking less hopeful following the revelations that the US has been spying on EU countries, nations that are in alliance with the United States.

Thanks to Edward Snowden, anger and hurt feelings are running high in Europe.  Can western European allies restore trust in the leader of the free world?   It remains to be seen.