Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Keynesian economics as ... "treason to the fatherland" (?!?)

Die Welt, one of the conservative Springer publishing empire's papers, just published a piece by some obnoxious twit named Dorothea Siems called Hollande-Ruck der SPD grenzt an Vaterlandsverrat ("Hollande Turn of the SPD borders on treason to the fatherland") 08/05.2012. The reference is to French Socialist Party leader and President-elect François Hollande and to the German Social Democratic Party (SPD).

Siems seems to be a German version of a Phyllis Schlafly type of nasty reactionary publicist. She's in a huff because the SPD seems to be thinking that their French counterpart party won and election by opposing insane suicidal austerity policies during a depression. And they're thinking they may get some ideas on how to win elections from that.

In the real world, for years now the SPD has been singing from the neoliberal hymnbook that President Obama also uses, in which the "left" party stands for the same kinds of business deregulation, reductions in public services that don't directly benefit the wealthy and weakening of organized labor, only acting a little nicer about it.

Obama gave his version of it in the 2004 Democratic National Convention keynote speech that suddenly made him a popular national figure, when he criticized the Cheney-Bush Administration this way: "People don't expect government to solve all their problems. But they sense, deep in their bones, that with just a slight change in priorities, we can make sure that every child in America has a decent shot at life, and that the doors of opportunity remain open to all." (my emphasis)

It's not as though Hollande and the French Socialist Party or the SPD under its current Chairman Sigmar Gabriel are advocating some radical change to the economy or their governments. They are advocating for Keynesian economics, aka, Macroeconomics 101. More specifically, the SPD is joining Hollande in criticizing German Chancellor Angela Merkel's fiscal pact that 25 of the 27 EU countries have signed, though not all have ratified it. Hollande is calling for changes in the pact that would allow for counter-cyclical economic stimulation during recessionary periods.

That in itself is really pretty timid policy-wise. The idea of writing debt limits into basic law by treaty and/or constitutional amendments is bad policy, period. In practice, Angie's fiscal pact effectively gives Germany veto power over national budgets in other EU countries without any remotely corresponding commitment from Germany to provide the kind of major economic transfers to less wealthy EU countries that would be required to make such a thing half reasonable.

But Siems writes:

Mit ihrem Widerstand gegen den Fiskalpakt verraten die Sozialdemokraten die Interessen der hiesigen Bürger. ...

Sollten sich die Sozialdemokraten vor den Karren der Reformverweigerer in den Krisenländern spannen lassen, grenzte dies an Vaterlandsverrat. Nicht nur Hollande, auch die hiesige Opposition sollte sich davor hüten, den Fiskalpakt anzutasten.

[With their resistance against the fiscal pact, the Social Democrats are betraying the interests of the citizens here. ...

Should the Social Democrats hitch themselves to the carts of those in the crisis countries who refuse to reform, that borders on betrayal of the fatherland. Not only Hollande but also the opposition here should avoid messing with the fiscal pact.]

German politics hasn't been Rush-Limbaughized yet, so calling people traitors isn't yet considered routine rhetoric to which it would be "uncivil" to condemn. So the SPD's Gabriel responded, Sigmar Gabriel zum Vorwurf: "Vaterlandsverrat" (in German):

A shorter version of his statement would be, "Bite me!"

Gariel called the accusation the "most reactionary kind of language". He reminded his listeners that during the Third Reich, the SPD was fighting and some losing their freedom and their lives for the restoration of liberal democracy while conservatives were cooperating with the Nazis to support the Hitler dictatorship. He says that, "unlike the conservatives", the SPD has never had to change its name out of shame for what they did in the past. (The SPD's conduct in 1918-19 provided reasons for shame but not those that conservatives accused them of.)

I suppose the SPD chose to respond to it at that senior level because it was run in a leading paper of the Springer group and the SPD, having been accused more than once in their history by their German opponents of treason, they aren't willing to have that become "respectable" talk among conservatives. Or to have Macroeconomics 101 be branded as a traitorous thing.

It's about time that some of the leading parties in EU countries started actively resisting Angienomics and its incredible destructive results. Way past time, actually. I would say that the Spanish social-democratic party (PSOE) had better do the same and quick if they want to continue as a major force in Spanish politics.

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