Mr Obama was a slow learner


            In an attempt to pile more pressure on his opponent, Mr Romney, Mr Obama revealed that he has learned since becoming President that he has to represent all of the people, and work for them all.

             I found this a bizarre statement. The President was, after all, a Senator before becoming President. He is a clever and well educated man who has spent much of his adult life thinking about politics. Why didn’t he discover earlier in his career this basic truth of western representative democracy? Even the youngest and most inexperienced MP should know that once elected they have to represent all their electors. If they wish to stay elected they have to show inclusiveness as well as judgement. You do not turn constituents away from a surgery or decline to answer their emails because they have a different political view to your own. You seek to find things that unite us, as well as sometimes arguing passionately for a change or a cause where there are differing views.

             Mr Romney’s “gaffe” will be exploited by his opponents endlessly. I am not a Republican, so I do not write in his defence out of political interest. I have not checked his figures, which may be overstated. He did, however, blurt out a problem which needs debating. If too many people come to look to the state to supply their income and main services, they lose their independence, and the wider society becomes less successful and enterprising. The American dream is to treat everyone equally, to allow them to get on in the world, to let them strive for the good life by their own efforts. There is a similar but less brash version of this vision in European democracies.

              I strongly support generous benefits and support for those who are disabled or unable to work for good reasons. I do not think living on benefits should be a lifestyle choice. Where there are problems with finding jobs the state has to work with the community concerned to overcome the obstacles. Where there are  jobs the unemployed should take them.  Free state education should equip the many to be able to work. Economic policy has to deliver the conditions for enough jobs. Much of the political debate in the UK is about how we can create the conditions for enough jobs to go to UK citizens, to shrink the benefit bills. No political party disagrees with this aim. The rows are over second order issues on how you achieve it.

              Mr Romney was  wrong to imply all people dependent on state support would vote against him. His challenge is to show that he could help them aspire to a better, more rewarding and challenging life. Mr Obama’s challenge is to show that he has been governing in the interests of the many. He has to explain why so many Americans are still out of work, and why his health reforms proved so divisive.

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  1. lifelogic
    Posted September 20, 2012 at 5:33 am | Permalink

    “Mr Romney was wrong to imply all people dependent on state support would vote against him.” Indeed he was, often those in state employment and even on benefits are well aware of the waste and exploitation of the system that they see around them. They often understand that it needs addressing. If the government has such a daft system in operation it clearly will be exploited by many. It is the system that needs to change.

    I see that the BBC is going in to bat strongly for Obama again in their usual balanced way.

    While good MPs, once elected, will do their best for all constituents, the voting/party system makes them pander mainly to the party and then only secondly to certain marginal voters in certain marginal constituencies.

    The rest can safely be ignored and usually are. In the case of Labour the party first, the state sector & their unions second and only then, thirdly, these marginal voters. Usually using the evil politics of envy and the magic government money tree to trick/buy them.

    • lifelogic
      Posted September 20, 2012 at 5:41 am | Permalink

      The new forced private sector pensions that the government is advertising so widely (and no doubt very expensively on TV) will just be seen as yet another, back door, tax and a further attack of living standard for the private sector by the state. Which is exactly what they are. They should be dropped (or delayed at least) for political reasons. It is absurd (and bad financial advice) for people many of whom will have expensive personal debts to be forced to “save” in this way while borrowing personally at higher rates than they will earn.

      They will become Cameron’s pole tax. He is not short of handicaps already having shot himself in the foot so many times.

      • JimF
        Posted September 20, 2012 at 6:32 am | Permalink

        You’re right, his Pole (sic) tax.
        To the higher paid, they already have pensions so this is meaningless.
        To the lower paid, NEST is just another tax.
        The same for Companies, just another tax, just another time-waster trying to skirt round the thing.

        • lifelogic
          Posted September 20, 2012 at 10:50 am | Permalink

          Exactly yet another poll tax (or pole) with which to poke, annoy, inconvenience and irritate the private sector workers. Also the tax on employers will stop many giving any wage increases. It will not help any recovery that is certain. Needless to say the largely parasitic state sector will not be affected.

      • Cliff. Wokingham
        Posted September 20, 2012 at 10:19 am | Permalink


        I was very disappointed to hear that the government was increasing its advertizing budget by a huge amount. Our host and I have already communicated a few times about government advertizing.

        It is funny that we were always told that our NI contributions would give us a good pension in our retirement and that we would be able to live on it. We were later told that SERPS would provide us with a good pension and that it would give us enough money in retirement to live a comfortable life. We were encouraged to enter into arrangements for private pensions which many of us did, just to see Mr Brown dip into them….And yes Bazman and Uanime5, some employers did take payment holidays which did not help but, their decisions were based on the performence of the funds before Mr Brown decided to dip into them and move the goalposts.
        The point I’m making is that ordinary people have been misled at best, or lied to at worst, by successive governments. We have been fleeced many times in relation to retirement funds but the fundamental problem remains: it is a giant ponzi scheme that would be illegal for any private institution to operate. During the good times, Mr Brown and others, should have built up a future pensions fund instead of throwing the record receipts of tax about like a drunken sailor on shore leave that had just received a month’s pay.

        I don’t see any advantage for ordinary people getting into the new pension scheme which, in effect, will just provide another slush fund for a greedy and wasteful state.
        I also feel saddened that in politicians eyes, all the advances in technology and medical science that has increased our health and life expectancy, have all been inorder to enable us to work more and more years, just to fund the greedy and wasteful state. Growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, we were always told that machines would do most of our work for us and we would have more and more lesiure time. When I started work, we worked a forty eight hour week for our basic pay, in the 1970s and 1980s, that was reduced to about thirty-five hours but now, in the 2010s people are starting to have to work more hours than we did in the 50s and 60s.

        • JimF
          Posted September 20, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

          Yes, as this scam takes more and more of peoples’ income they have a right to be given a breakdown of where it goes.

          This NEST scheme is a skimmers’ dream. They get a large cut of any contribution, an additional annual cut on the total fund and the government gets to water down the value with QE.

          For NI it it might be national but it isn’t insurance. An insurance policy has a maturity value and a maturity date at inception, and this ponzi State pension scheme has neither- both can be altered at will by the government.

          Like the student debt scheme, which whips another 9%+ away from the pay of the young, these are taxes, nothing more nothing less.

      • a-tracy
        Posted September 20, 2012 at 10:43 am | Permalink

        The Nest advertising is premature for the majority of SME employers/employees and I find this advertisement misleading.

    • Sue
      Posted September 20, 2012 at 7:14 am | Permalink

      “I see that the BBC is going in to bat strongly for Obama again in their usual balanced way”.

      Yes, why are we still being forced to pay for the BBC when it’s still left-leaning? I hardly watch the TV at all these days as programming is so completely dismal but the BBC completely takes the biscuit!

      Why has the government not taken steps to ensure that all of it’s programming is balanced?

      As far as Romney’s comments are concerned, he’s correct of course, we have the same situation here. That’s why people will vote labour, they know their benefits are safe. You say “There is a similar but less brash version of this vision in European democracies”.

      Just to remind you Mr Redwood, we don’t have a democracy!

      • James Sutherland
        Posted September 20, 2012 at 10:34 am | Permalink

        “Why has the government not taken steps to ensure that all of it’s programming is balanced?”

        The real missed opportunity was the digital switchover, subsequent platform upgrades and the Charter renewal, which should all have been used to move the BBC to conditional access enforcement of their subscription fee. No more “TV Licensing” intimidation letters, snooping or threats required: pay them, or you don’t receive BBC 1, 2 and whatever else it is people aren’t watching. (Excluding the Parliament channel, which is delivered by the BBC but funded separately, as it should be.)

        Once subscribing is optional, the BBC will suddenly have to discover the concepts of quality, value and customer satisfaction the other channels have to deliver!

        • lifelogic
          Posted September 20, 2012 at 10:54 am | Permalink

          “Why has the government not taken steps to ensure that all of it’s programming is balanced?”

          One assumes it suites them to have the pro EU, socialist, ever larger government, forced “equality” and quack green religion forced down everyone’s throats.

          Hence Lord Patten I assume Cameron’s gift to the BBC trustees.

    • Disaffected
      Posted September 20, 2012 at 11:19 am | Permalink

      Today we have newspaper stories claiming how a latvian mother with 10 children arrived here in 2008 receives £34,000 per year and waits for the council to provide her with a bigger home. While nurses, teachers, police officers and many others earn far less than this. The same applies to the private sector workers. We had stories at the weekend that the main beneficiaries of overseas aid was consultants who earned millions, this is in addition to the despots we have given millions to. Taxpayers’ money has been ludicrously been thrown at the EU to keep the Eternal Recession Mechanism going. The government is making a determined effort to wreck pensions and destroy any economic reason to save while in contrast making press statements that 11 million people ought to save more for their retirement. Really.

      Yesterday it was reported the Border Agency can only find 1 in 10 immigrants/asylum seekers and stated it would not be cost effective to look for them. How do they know this? What proportion are on welfare, going through the criminal justice system, in social housing etc etc. Once more in contrast to prudent action being taken the government continues its the mass immigration policy as well asylum seeker policy when our public services cannot cope and it is not known where hundreds of thousands of illegal entrants are or what threat they might pose the security of the nation. Presumably this is important because we have troops in Afghanistan and the government appears not able to stop creating wars in the Middle East.

      Yesterday it was reported how 3 criminals were compensated £43,000 each because the ECHR ruled it was against their human rights to have indefinite sentences imposed against them- contrary to their Human Rights. Mr Clarke reported as saying that there will be no change in his policies now that Mr Grayling has taken over and the party has inadvertently swayed to the right!! How about the victims and compensating them????? How about deterrent so criminals do not shoot and kill police officers???? It is painful to listen to politicians.

      Yesterday Mr Clegg makes an insincere apology for using categoric language not to increase university tuition fees claiming the UK could not afford it. This is contrary to what he said at the time and when he knows the UK provides free university education to EU students (at UK taxpayers’ expense) and his colleague and former leader of the Lib Dems, Mr Campbell, bestows the degrees on EU students who have not paid tuition fees at the same time he bestows degrees on their English counter parts who pay tuition fees. EU countries our competitors, this is also against the background that his other colleague, Vince Cable, was responsible for the £9,000 hike. Can anyone believe a word he says???? Did he not also claim in April that boundary changes were not linked to Lords reform in Parliament???

      Obama, Romney and many others appear to be on the curve far better than their UK counter parts who have not got a clue about running the country or telling the public truth about key policy areas.

      • uanime5
        Posted September 20, 2012 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

        Firstly the 3 people in prison had already served their sentences however the law required that they had to complete several rehabilitation courses before they could be released. As these courses weren’t available this meant they could be held indefinitely. The ECHR objected to the state requiring that prisoners complete courses that the state failed to provide and freed these men because they had completed their maximum sentence.

        Their compensation reflects what they were likely to have earned had they have been released when their sentence ended.

        Secondarily victims of crime can apply for compensation.

    • Disaffected
      Posted September 20, 2012 at 11:35 am | Permalink

      Mr Clegg is wittering on about no more broken promises again after his apology over university tuition fees. If that is true, let us have the right to recall MPs properly implemented please.

  2. ian wragg
    Posted September 20, 2012 at 5:43 am | Permalink

    And where are those jobs going to come from when you continue to allow mass immigration. You edited out my post about students not leaving after their courses but this is the reality.
    Stop and reverse immigration and see the welfare bill drop.

    • lifelogic
      Posted September 20, 2012 at 6:31 am | Permalink

      You certainly cannot run the current benefit system, free schools, hospital, old age care and all the rest for the poor and the huge immigration from both EU and outside the EU for much longer without running out of money.

      One or other has to stop or be cut hugely.

  3. norman
    Posted September 20, 2012 at 5:47 am | Permalink

    “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years.”
    ― Alexis de Tocqueville

    All things considered we’ve had a decent run. The USA even more so, helped in no small part by the Scottish enlightenment but that type of thinking is a long lost memory in this isles and becoming so over the Atlantic.

    • lifelogic
      Posted September 20, 2012 at 6:44 am | Permalink

      Some truth in this, but what actually happens often is democracies tend to reach a point where increasing tax rates further generates less revenue not more. Also where the government had difficulty borrowing any more.

      Of course on average everyone would be far better off (and GDP and employment far higher) with tax rates way below these high % levels and many politicians know this well. It suits them however, politically and personally, to take the money for themselves and to try to buy votes with it or divert it to their “contacts” or “supporters” under some ruse or other legal or otherwise as we have so often seen.

  4. Mike Stallard
    Posted September 20, 2012 at 5:53 am | Permalink

    Just under half the people of this country are dependent on the State (46%). They – we – fall into three equal chunks: OAPs, state employees and those who are of working age but who are on benefits.
    So – come on the 46%! We need you to support us!

    • lifelogic
      Posted September 20, 2012 at 6:47 am | Permalink

      Most lower paid workers are net recipients from the state too with tax credits, free health care, education …………

      • zorro
        Posted September 20, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

        This is true and why it is mad to continue importing immigrants with the same potential financial profile…


  5. colliemum
    Posted September 20, 2012 at 5:56 am | Permalink

    You ask “Why didn’t he [President Obama] discover earlier in his career this basic truth of western representative democracy?”.

    There are two reasons why he didn’t, still doesn’t, and won’t in future.

    The first, which has been known from his time as senator, where he voted ‘present’ more often than vote for or against an issue, and which can now be seen by all, is that he simply doesn’t work. During his presidency he spend more time on golf courses than any of his predecessors. He goes to fund-raising parties rather than attend e.g. intelligence briefings, something which became known in the wake of the murder of the Ambassador in Libya.

    But there is a much more significant reason. President Obama knows about western democracy only insofar as it helps him to achieve his goal, to subvert it. Obviously, it’s not just him, there are quite a few vested interests behind him.
    Once one knows his upbringing and his education – as far as that is possible, seeing that all his educational reports/papers/scores were sealed by Obama as soon as he sat down in the Oval Office – this is not astonishing. From ‘favouring redistribution’ to the infamous ‘spread the wealth’ it doesn’t take much to discern which type of society he prefers, and into which sort of society he wanted to turn the USA. One example which should be a danger signal to all conservatives is the way he turned General Motors into an Union-run enterprise, or his support to unions which were trying to subvert democratic decisions (words left out-ed) in Wisconsin.

    So President Obama’s remark about what he’s learned is not just astonishing, it is actually rather damning, for the man himself and his policies. And, if I may, it didn’t surprise those of us who have friends in the USA, and are thus a bit better informed than the journalists in the old media here in the UK.

    • zorro
      Posted September 20, 2012 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

      Will the real Barack Hussain Obama please stand up…….?


  6. JimF
    Posted September 20, 2012 at 6:24 am | Permalink

    “Where there are problems with finding jobs the state has to work with the community concerned to overcome the obstacles.”
    Should read
    “Where there is a larger demand for jobs than the supply, the state should get out of the way by removing taxes like NEST, employers/ees NI, income tax, business rates, corporation tax, and legislation like dictating minimum wages, maximum working hours, planning controls and others”

    • lifelogic
      Posted September 20, 2012 at 6:53 am | Permalink

      Indeed and easy hire and fire too. The last thing business want is help from people (paid for from taxes on business) who have never run anything – just get out of the way.

    • lifelogic
      Posted September 20, 2012 at 6:55 am | Permalink

      Also to stop paying people to encourage them not to work.

  7. Pete the Bike
    Posted September 20, 2012 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    Obama has learned nothing. He is the lap dog of Wall Street. In reality there is no significant difference between the candidates. Both will lie, scheme, rubbish their opponent and say anything to get elected. Once the winner is in the White House all the promises will be ignored, the war mongering, wasteful police state will continue and be enhanced. The USA will get back to being run for the benefit of the super rich and their mega corporations. It happens every time and deluding yourself that this time is different is pathetic.

    • Cliff. Wokingham
      Posted September 20, 2012 at 10:24 am | Permalink

      I always have the same thoughts around American Presidential election time: If these two candidates, out of a population of 270 million, are the best that country can come up with, God help that country.

  8. Electro-Kevin
    Posted September 20, 2012 at 6:32 am | Permalink

    Working for all of the people all of the time sounds like a recipe for political paralysis – which is what we seem to have. This suits the left very well.

    I understand that you can’t ignore emails and surgery visitors, but some people have to be told that they’ve made bad choices and brought things upon themselves.

    Having children without plans to settle with the partner is one of them. In fact doing so without getting married proves to be a bad choice more often than not. This adds substantially to the welfare bill.

    If a politician feels this to be true then he must say so. If we are to rescue Britain then we cannot afford to be neutral on issues such as this.

    Today I hear on the news “Poorer children needing more financial support that advantaged ones.”


    Why ? Because their dad stuck around to support his kids and didn’t pee his money up a wall ?

    • Cliff. Wokingham
      Posted September 20, 2012 at 10:26 am | Permalink

      Exactly! The one truth that no politician will discuss because of a very well organised “Won’t somebody think of the children” lobby.

    • uanime5
      Posted September 20, 2012 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

      Complain about poorer children needing more financial support all you want but the state needs to do something to encourage these children to get an education and a job. If these children are thrown on the scrapheap at best they will remain on benefits all their life and at worst they will become career criminals.

  9. stred
    Posted September 20, 2012 at 7:01 am | Permalink

    My previous MP was instrumental in legislation, which was acted against my interest and made no sense. He spent much of his time pushing a ‘green’ form of electricity generation which does not work economically. Now he is on a fat pension, paid for from our taxes. The next MP pushes the ‘green’ agenda and is so far to the left that she understands very little except their dogma.

    How can such people possible represent my interest? It would be in my interest if they had never existed.

  10. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted September 20, 2012 at 7:35 am | Permalink

    What strikes me is the partisan way in which the media in this country report this and show their unswerving support for Obama, despite his dismal record as President. This applies to many politicians also. Those same people, who are now salivating at Romney’s so-called gaff, will be telling us before long that our votes don’t matter and that the general election will be decided in a hand full of marginal seats and the political parties will focus on them. It’s all part of the tribal game that constitutes politics today. You are right in trying to concentrate on the issues but you are in the minority.

  11. wab
    Posted September 20, 2012 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    First of all, the largest increase in percentage of households which paid no federal income tax in the US happened under Reagan and Bush. This is because the Republican Party used to believe that there should be tax cuts for all (none of which were paid for, of course, hence the large deficit problem). Now they believe there should only be tax cuts for millionaires.

    Secondly, federal income tax is only one tax. Many of the “lucky duckies” (as the Republican crazies would have it) pay other taxes, such as payroll taxes and state income tax. Focussing on just one tax is extremely misleading.

    Thirdly, most of the states with the highest percentages of households which pay no federal income tax happen to be states which are heavily Republican. And indeed, many of the people who pay no federal income tax are retired, and so are more likely to vote Republican. Romney was insulting people who will vote for him.

    Fourthly, Romney has refused to release all but two of his tax returns. It’s already clear that he pays at most around 13% in federal income tax, and there is some possibility that there are years when he himself paid no federal income tax. So Romney evidently believes that he himself is some horrible “victim” of government “dependency”.

    This was not a gaffe. Romney came out afterwards and doubled down on this awful view of the world. He will try to spin it towards the idea that there are “virtuous” people (i.e. white, elderly, Republican) who pay no federal income tax and then there are “those people” (i.e. black, young, Democratic) who pay no federal income tax and are therefore scroungers. It’s unfortunate for him that the 47% figure is now ingrained in the public imagination, and no amount of spin will improve the situation.

    It’s interesting that the usual BBC haters on this website speak about the alleged leftwing bias in the BBC commentary on this story. Well, these people ought to get out and read a bit more. David Brooks, one of the most influential Republican chatter boxes in the US, was extremely critical of Romney over this story. And he wasn’t the only one. Peggy Noonan, Bill Kristol, etc., have also been scathing. Paul Ryan (!) said that Romney was “obviously inarticulate”. Romney screwed up big time.

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted September 20, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

      Obama has been screwing up big time for the past four years.

      • uanime5
        Posted September 20, 2012 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

        Then why have corporate profits increased and the stock market risen?

  12. Glenn Vaughan
    Posted September 20, 2012 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    The United States is becoming like the UK since World War II, i.e. a welfare entitlement society.

    As for President Obama he is the first socialist president of the USA and the most divisive to hold that office since 1945.

  13. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted September 20, 2012 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    Mr Obama has a bigger challenge than the two items you mention. He has to explain why in 4 years he has done absolutely nothing to reduce the annual Federal deficit. As a result of this inaction, total Federal debt now exceeds 100% of US GDP; State and local debt adds 30%.

  14. Simon
    Posted September 20, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    Sounds like Romney read Ayn Rand and swallowed the whole thing.

    I’m sure the pensioners (who’ve paid income tax), students (who will pay income tax), unemployed (who wish they were in a position to pay income tax), and low waged (who Bush & Regan took out of income tax) will be thrilled to hear that Mitt doesn’t like them.

    I’m glad our own politicians are not so obviously ignorant of the society they live in. Oh, wait…

  15. forthurst
    Posted September 20, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    Why is Romney more gaffe prone than Obama? Neither of them is remotely fit to be President of the USA, but whereas Obama wisely does not generally speak publicly without an autocue in front of him, Romney still shoots from the hip. We can only guess at what Obama really believes although his past deference to the Rev Jeremiah Wright might be indicative, since his past, who paid, who facilitated his levitation from obscurity to high office, including even possibly his paternity, has been deliberately hidden from view. (link I have no time to check removed)#!

    “Let’s face it, a mixed kid from Hawaii born to a single mom is not likely to become president of the United States,” Obama told the campaign rally. “But in America it can happen because of education, because somebody gave me opportunity.”

    The USA is the land of opportunity and no one should be held back by their family background, but people should rise according to their abilities, not on their uses to some who do not entirely believe that the people should select their leaders.

    Mr Romney’s background at Bain Capital is well known as well as his long standing friendship with Benjamin Netanyahoo dating back to their days together working with Bain Consulting Group. When, however, Romney who knows little about foreign policy announces that he intends to consult his old friend concerning any policy decisions which might affect Israel, he is, in effect, saying that (allegation left out) he will, in any case, be declaring his hand openly to Israel before acting.

    The choice that Americans have before them is between two candidates who are apparently capable of launching WWIII and deciding which one is the least likely to do this in practice; certainly Obama’s actions and occasionally his rhetoric with regard to Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, and Iran are not encouraging, but then nor are those of Cameron and his Willy.

    The right candidate for President by a very long margin is Ron Paul; he is the only one who would respect the Constitution, or capable of turning the tide against the plunder of America by banksters and corporations (possessors of ‘personhood’, therefore eligible to purchase politicians, according to the ‘Supreme Court’), and carpet-chewing neocons. When both parties allow in a never ending stream of immigrants, when corporations off-shore all their jobs, many of those willing to work find themselves, jobless, homeless as a result of decisions taken outside of their control.

  16. Jon
    Posted September 20, 2012 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

    The Republicans to me are not the same as the Conservatives here and equally the Democrats are not the same as Labour.

    To me it was Clinton who began a leveraging credit spree but it was Bush junior who ran with it. Saved having to deal with the end of the post war boom. Some of the Republicans over there to me can sound like totalitarian socialists. On the whole though I’m glad there is an America, without them I think we would all be most certainly be under some socialist dictatorship.

  17. Jon
    Posted September 20, 2012 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

    ….Made me think what horror could have been had Pangaea not split up.

    • Electro-Kevin
      Posted September 20, 2012 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

      I agree. Their last album was total rubbish, Jon.

  18. C. WHITE
    Posted September 20, 2012 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

    From 1997 – 2010 about 4/5 jobs created in UK went to non-UK workers. The MAIL correctly dubbed this the ‘POLITICS OF THE MADHOUSE’. Keith Vaz did a 180-degree turn on immigration after 2010. He rightly points out that the majority of the 8/10 ?6/10 are EU-nationals and that Tory measures to reduce immigration will not address this. Clearly we should have a Norway/Switzerland relationship with EU , FREE TRADE but no free movement of labour. It is only in the ALICE-IN-WONDERLAND of European democracy that doing what the people want (‘demos’ = people ‘kratos’ = power) has created a situation where a 30-year struuggle to bring this about has still not borne fruit and, if Cameron and Miliband have their way, will not bear fruit for the foreseeable future.

  19. uanime5
    Posted September 20, 2012 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps Obama was referring to the non-voters and those who are apolitical. It can be very difficult to represent them since they don’t make it clear what they want.

    I feel that’s it’s a major problem when people working full time are reliant on state benefits because their salaries are so low, and the cost of housing and childcare are so high. Until this problem is tackled an increasing percentage of the population will be claiming benefits all their life whether they work or not.

    Aside from the Democrats and Republicans opposing everything the other party does Obama’s healthcare reforms have been divisive because they’re a threat to the profitability of private healthcare companies. Before Obamacare healthcare companies could refuse to sell health insurance to those who had pre-existing medical conditions, such as cystic fibrosis, or set the premiums so high that these people would not be able to afford to purchase insurance. As healthcare companies could refuse to insure those who were likely to need treatment or those who needed expensive treatment they were able to make huge profits from those who very rarely needed treatment. Obamacare made this practice illegal so healthcare companies now have to insure people even if they are likely to need lifelong medical treatment. As a result healthcare companies are likely to see a massive fall in profits because they can no longer exclude people who will cost them a lot of money.

    Reply: So why do half the US population agree with the Health care companies, if that is the only reason?

    • Lindsay McDougall
      Posted September 21, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

      This is bizarre. Premiums should be determined on the ‘willing buyer, willing seller’ principle. If the State thinks differently, the State should step in with a subsidy.

      You have missed the main point about American medicine, which is the huge litigation costs. If they were reduced, health insurance would be affordable further down the income scale. Both in the US and UK, a law of medical negligence is needed, the most important point being that an error of judgement is not the same as negligence. Let’s face it, even though we don’t like it, young doctors are going to make mistakes, and they can’t be supervised all the time.

      • uanime5
        Posted September 22, 2012 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

        The main reason why medical litigation is so expensive is that there’s a huge cost when the injured patient is going to need additional medical care for the rest of their life. This won’t change whether the injury results from an error of judgement or negligence.

    • uanime5
      Posted September 21, 2012 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

      The reason I provided was one of the major reasons why the healthcare industry would oppose Obamacare. Due to their wealth they’re able to lobby and advertise their position far more effectively that others who object to Obamacare.

      Other reasons are as follows:

      1) 16.3% of Americans don’t have health insurance, so I suspect that many of the 83.7% with health insurance don’t care about those who lack health insurance.

      2) Since most healthcare programmes are provided by the company the person works for this means if someone is unemployed they normally don’t have any health insurance. For cultural reasons welfare is very negatively viewed in the USA and any policy that provides welfare for the unemployed is often viewed negatively by a lot of Americans.

      There are many Americans who consider welfare and socialism the same thing.

      3) Even among those who work there are many people that lack health insurance because their company doesn’t provide it and they can’t afford it. Again as being on welfare is considered as bad thing many Americans who already have health insurance oppose giving health insurance to those who can’t afford it.

      4) Many Americans believe the free market should be allowed to operate completely unregulated. Therefore they’ll oppose any sort of Government regulation, even when the free market is resulting in high prices.

      In summary those who will benefit from Obamacare are mostly poor and unemployed, as these people are considered pariahs many Americans oppose them getting any benefits. Other Americans will oppose Obamacare simply because they dislike the Government trying to regulate anything.

      • uanime5
        Posted September 22, 2012 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

        For more information I recommend reading “Why Doesn’t the US Have a European-Style Welfare System?” by Alberto Alesina, Edward Glaeser, Bruce Sacerdote.

  20. Terry
    Posted September 21, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    Mr Obama remains a slow learner. The recent rise in tensions between China and Japan, is believe, tells us this. For decades those now disputed, barren islands were the registered property of a Japanese businessman. The Chinese never took them to task over that. Now they do because the Japanese Government has bought them.

    In the past few months we have have been pressured once again by Argentina over the Falkland Islands . Despite that fact that in 1982 the Argentine Junta invaded them and were thrown off after another bloody war, where both Britain and Argentina lost hundreds of men, Mr Obama did not make a clear International stand alongside Britain, America’s number one ally. And that sent out the clear message across the world that the USA would not get involved in local border squabbles. Even when allies were in the pot. So, the Chinese may well have read precisely that into the current situation and taken up the cudgels. Ron Reagan saw the problem with NOT making such a united stand and stood right behind Mrs Thatcher. Alas, Mr Obama is no Ronald Reagan and he is unable to learn from such strategy. In his naivete he may well have opened a Pandora box in the South China Sea and another massive headache for the USA. Just when will these arrogant people learn?

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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