Tony, Toni, Tone

One nice thing about our apartment is that we get BBC World on the TV. We mentioned before how much nicer it is to watch real news on TV.

Last night we watched Tony Blair address the Labour Party congress. It makes us sad to think about how backwards our country is. Our president has latched onto the word “freedom” like it’s a life raft, making vague promises about what he will do if he gets elected president. (Note the infuriating subtext here.) Tony Blair talks about seven and a half years of overwhelming progress in British society. Our president claims that the economy is “getting better.” Tony Blair cites seven and a half years of economic growth, a massive drop in crime and unemployment, a doubling in the percentage of poor Londoner students passing through high school, and a 200% increase in the efficiency of Britain’s government-funded public health system. Our president wants to amend the founding document of our society to include a provision that prevents loving same-sex couples from being treated just like everyone else. Tony Blair proudly proclaims that the New Left has forced the Lib Dems and the Tories to accept gay rights and to openly compete with Labour for the gay vote. Our president has nothing to say about minorities except for that he appoints them to cabinet posts. Tony Blair notes the changes in the past decade–racial relations are not “political correctness,” but rather an issue that all Britons must accept as a key issue in British society.

Now let’s be clear. Poor Tony glossed over a bunch of troubling economic problems, including the failure of Britain to join the EU–a massive defeat that will harm Britons in the long term. Poor Tony still refuses to acknowledge the flip side of “I’m Not Going to Apologize for Removing Saddam,” which is “It Is Not the Case that Anything Is Better than Saddam.” But still.

Comments 5

  1. Josh September 29, 2004

    Disappointing but not shocking that the grad student in poli sci recommends accession to an enormous foreign bureaucracy as a prerequisite for future success, isn’t it?
    As for the rest, well, I suppose we can agree to disagree on which country’s major financial center was destroyed by kamikaze airliners three years ago.

  2. Tom September 29, 2004

    Ouch. On point one, if Britain can manage on its own to control fiscal policy with prudence, that would be nice. Decades of evidence from every country in the OECD suggest otherwise. Much better, to my mind, to create incentives to work within a liberal free-trade and monetary zone to maintain fiscal discipline and budgetary scrutiny among all parties. It’s straight neo-classical economics–wrestle control away from captured domestic bureaucrats, forge more rational budgetary policy. It’s not like political scientists blindly seek to join any international orgranization for the sole purpose of deconstructing national sovereignty.
    On point two, terrorism did not create poverty in America. Terrorism did not create parties too beholden to religious groups to speak about justice for gay couples. Terrorism did not create a political system that has yet to deal with inequality of opportunity based on both income and race.
    And let’s disabuse ourselves of the contention that Sept. 11 destroyed our financial center. The real financial institutions in this country survived essentially unscathed, from Wall Street to the Federal Reserve to the FDIC to the SEC. I may be able to grant the airline industry some slack for 9/11, but it’s not an excuse for poor fiscal policy on the part of this administration, nor is an explanation for an economic situation that predates 9/11. I mean, come on, even the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation agree with me.

  3. Josh September 30, 2004

    Tom, I would in no way want you to think I’m at all averse to the great free-trade benefits of the Eurozone. And if the EU seemed to me at all effective at enforcing fiscal discipline on its member states, I’d be begging them to let the US join. Unfortunately, that doesn’t appear to be the case. Worse, greater integration with the EU now implies acceptance of the horrifying new EU Constitution. The Economist editorial line is ‘join now, fix later,’ but that sounds like a recipe for disaster to
    To the list of things terrorism did not create, I agree mostly, though I would caution that opposition to gay marriage is hardly the exclusive domain of the religious.
    And perhaps I was too literal about the destruction of our financial centers; I didn’t mean to imply that our economy was actually incapacitated by 9/11. But to deny the huge financial and psychological impact the attacks had on all sectors of an already weakened economy seems somewhat disingenuous. It’s not as if we shed a couple airline jobs and got back to normal in January. Any discussion of relative economic growth between the US and the UK in that period should probably take that into account, shouldn’t it?

  4. Tom October 1, 2004

    I disagree that the EU has been ineffective in changing the fiscal policies of EU member states. They had to change them to join, and the changes were prudent for all parties involved. They also had to rationalize monetary policy to join the monetary union.
    As for “join now, change later,” that’s where I stand. There are lots of what-ifs. In the long run, Britain should join the monetary union.
    And I do indeed disagree that 9/11 caused the state of the economy that we have today. Fundamentals were bad, and if 9/11 hastened an already-significant decline, then I’d buy that, but not that it changed the way that the economy seemed to be working.
    Comparing economic growth between the US and the UK should include 9/11, but I take pre-9/11 signs that the economy was weak as telling me that 9/11 is not the culprit of the differences. For that, I look to policy mismanagement, both under Bush and Clinton.

  5. Kristin Ditlow October 2, 2004

    Hello to Tom and Julie!
    What a great idea to use this “blog” thing. It is great to see the pictures. I guess it is a stupid question (after reading this) to see if you guys are keeping posted on political events in the good-ole-US of A. Um, I haven’t watched one debate yet though I AM registered to vote. Josh, and Tom, you guys are beyond brilliant and some of the things you write are harder for me to understand than they should be. Tom, ever thought about writing “Politcal Science for Dummies” (with the fashionable yellow-and-black cover?)
    šŸ™‚ Catch ya later — regardless of what time zone you are in.

Comments are closed.