Sunday, April 27, 2008

More Gas Pains

If I gave McCain a D for his pandering "gas tax holiday" proposal, I'll have to give Obama a C. He's not exactly got a great solution for the problem either, but- once again- he's less full of shit than the other two candidates and simply wins on that count. Not exactly a ringing victory.

First off, he called the gas tax holiday what it is, a "scheme".

"The Illinois Democrat suggested such a tax break would weaken the nation's funding stream for highway and bridge infrastructure, potentially putting lives at risk.

"It will save you about $25," Obama said, presumably citing a three-month savings for average consumers. "Remember that bridge in Minneapolis?"

Ezzzackly! Obama has suggested implementing a "windfall profits tax" on oil companies to pay for a rebate for consumers, which like I said, isn't really a solution either. He also, maybe, gets extra credit though for having said that gas prices aren't very likely to go back down, which people don't want to hear, but which seems true as far as I can tell.


narrator said...

At some point, with an election campaign already longer than the last election campaigns of France, Germany, Italy, the UK, Ireland, Spain, Poland, et al, put together, US politics simply become ridiculous. I'm with you that Obama is less ridiculous and that's no small thing, but when you have to babble nonsense for more than a year to get within six months of an election, "rational discourse" is not going to win out.

The US won't fix itself until it changes its antiquated - elite in control - election system (the oldest in the world outside of, perhaps, San Marino). It needs a parliamentary system, proportional representation, a much larger House of Representatives (at least the size of the UK's Commons or Germany's Bundestag). Without those changes, nothing else changes.

After all, France's much maligned Fourth Republic accomplished far more in 13 years than the US has managed since World War II in terms of transforming an economy.

Rufus said...

I tell people that, as of now, my choice isn't between Obama and McCain it's between getting off my ass and registering to vote for Obama or staying home and sleeping. I'm not one of these people who think he's the bright and morning star. But somehow saying that he probably isn't that great still makes me think to myself "Yeah, but you already know that McCain is an idiot and Clinton is a snake."

I don't know what the solution is. Political discourse is totally different in Canada- like night and day, and I do wonder if it isn't because of the way they pick their leaders and govern.

narrator said...

The US uses a particularly toxic combination of electoral practices. Gerrymandered single-member legislative constituencies encourage polarization and limit political involvement. A very small legislature (by population size) limits diversity of legislators (I often note that Ireland's national legislature has four times as many members as New York City's Council, though Ireland is far less than half the size of New York. The US House has 435 members for 300 million people, the US's Commons has around 660 members for 70 million) and requires huge amounts of money to campaign in legislative races (because the districts are so big). First-past-the-post elections, rather than Proportional Representation then leave at least half of voters feeling unrepresented. And the formalized two-party structure eliminates choices. Finally, Presidential systems are almost always less democratic than parliamentary systems. The abuse of power possible in the fixed-term separate executive is massive, whether that resident is Bush, Putin, or Sarkozy. It is essentially the "liberal empire" concept of Napoleon and Napoleon III - you elect a dictator.

This makes Americans distrust their government and disbelieve in possible change. In Ireland's last national election a "totally satisfied" electorate replaced 16% of their legislators. In the last US national election a "totally angry" electorate replace 7% of their Representatives and Senators, and this seemed like a "watershed." If that's the maximum impact American voters can have, they have every reason to be depressed.