Monday, 3 November 2008

“It’s the economy, stupid!”

My most recent column for Bangor Student Union's Newspaper - Seren. I was a little short of space for this months column so I had to be very brief on the issues concerned.

Those were Bill Clinton’s famous words about what the main issue was during the 1992 US Presidential elections. And in the wake of the freezing up of the banking system last month, the part and full nationalisations that have taken place, increasing rates of home repossessions and the rising tide of unemployment have made it the main issue in this years U.S. Elections.
Of course, in the early days it was all about change, as Barack Obama positioned himself as an alternative to both the continuations of the last two US Presidents in the Republican Party candidate John McCain (potential successor of George W Bush) and his rival for the Democratic Party nomination, Hillary Clinton (potential successor to the aforementioned Bill Clinton). Of course Bush was responsible for the Afghani and Iraqi invasions, but Clinton had previously been responsible for the sanctions against Iraq and other U.S. military actions too.
The selection of Sarah Palin as John McCain’s running mate, as an apparent political ‘outsider’ (she still is the Governor of Alaska though!) was an attempt to undermine Obama’s theme of change which had actually mobilized a lot of younger voters to support him in the U.S.
But it is the economic crisis deepening that has swung Obama decisively into the lead. Thousands of families in the US face losing their homes as a result of the subprime crisis. Whatever anger about the Bush government’s policies that existed before (and unlike here the anti-Iraq war movement in the US was getting bigger not smaller), it has been massively multiplied by the economic crisis their ultra-neoliberal policies have driven the U.S. It is the height of irony that government’s who love the idea of the free market like those of Gordon Brown, George W Bush, Angela Merkel etc. have been forced to nationalize or part-nationalise so many companies to save the market they so cherish.
You may think that being a socialist I’d be on top of the moon at the moment with capitalism taking a battering, but unfortunately not. The truth is that what these governments want is to bail out these company’s bad debts, get them back into shape and then sell them back to the private sector. And its ordinary people that they are going to try and make pay for it with cuts to public services.
Capitalism goes through economic crises every so often like this, but the only way to make the situation better for the rest of us is to fight for it to be better. Although these companies have been nationalized, they are still gonna be run by similar people to those who wrecked them who won’t be as interested in the human cost of their decisions as opposed to the need for them to make these companies profitable again. And both McCain and Obama agree on this basic strategy, rather than what I would advocate which is placing them under the democratic control of the people who work at the company and the people who use their services.

No comments: