George Bush, the Bail-Out Plan and Margaret Thatcher - A Letter from an Old Lefty

there is no alternative?
there is no alternative?

A Little Local Difficulty

Wall Street was having a little local difficulty recently but now there's a bail-out plan and 'everything's gonna be alright'.

Let's look at this bail-out plan that is, apparently, 'better than any alternative'. The US Government gets Congress approval to increase its borrowing limit from $10.6 Trillion to $11.3 Trillion. It then uses this extra $700 Billion to buy up the bad debts accrued over recent years by Wall Street's idiot gamblers. The plan has one thing going for it - simplicity. Or should that be stupidity? Neither in fact. It's actually cunning born of desperation as the arch-Capitalists try to hang onto their ill-gotten gains at the public's expense.

The alternative, of course, to bailing out Wall Street is not bailing it out. Then it would fall, and great would be the fall of it. And would that be so bad? Doesn't it deserve to fall for playing fast and loose with people's money? Unfortunately, though Wall Street may harbour corrupt institutions, the institutions employ uncorrupt workers and 'look after' (i.e. gamble with) the savings and mortgages of uncorrupt taxpayers. If it is allowed to crash, it's the workers and taxpayers who will suffer (because you'll notice that in the bail-out plan no-one is talking about accountability).

Wait a minute though - if it crashes, lots of workers won't be workers any more. Then they won't be taxpayers either. We need a new word and, for an Old Lefty like me, the word that comes to mind is the Proletariat - that's everyone, except the Capitalist elite who got America into this mess.

What happened, Comrades, is that you shut your eyes to what was going on, preferring to believe yourself comfortable and trusting in the goodness of your Government, until it was too late.

Maybe you resent being called the Proletariat and being addressed as Comrades? Not very American, is it? Didn't you fight Communism for decades? Yes you did. But you didn't put checks on your own arch-Capitalists and they've shafted you big-time when you weren't looking. They're now the Party and you're the Proletariat in their eyes, Comrades, and you'd better get used to it. Or change it.

Let me tell you a story. It's quite long, but quite relevant to what you're going through in America today.

no such thing as society?
no such thing as society?

The Thatcher Years

In 1979, in a little Kingdom across the seas, a certain Margaret Thatcher came to power on a manifesto promise to rein in the power of the Trades Unions. The Unions, whether or not they were too powerful, had certainly been abusing their power, in a series of crippling strikes. The country had suffered, home and abroad, through their excesses, so Thatcher's ticket had considerable support.

She also promised to reform the Rates system, an old tax to raise funds for local government. We'll come back to this later. It's important!

In her first term of Office, Margaret Thatcher's Government passed legislation to weaken the Unions - outlawing secondary picketing and so-called flying pickets, outlawing the 'closed shop' (compulsory Union membership in certain workplaces) and the block vote whereby a Union Leader could represent his entire membership in a ballot). Of course, some Unions tested her resolve with set piece disputes and strike action, and the whole industrial relations climate became confrontational and unpleasant, but nothing very decisive happened on either side.

Then, out of the blue, came the Falklands War. Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands, Thatcher sent a military task force and retook the islands, notoriously ordering the sinking of the Belgrano in the process, which was seen by many as a war crime. Be that as it may, she was swept back into power for a second term, on a wave of jingoistic nationalism whipped up by the gutter press. Does any of this seem familiar?

Not content with having weakened the Unions through legislation, Thatcher wanted a proper victory. The miners obliged in 1984-85. The National Miners' Strike against pit closures was a national disgrace and a shameful spectacle. There was blame and crime on both sides, but Thatcher wanted the fight, and wanted to liken it to a war. She even characterised the striking miners as 'the enemy within'.

Let's just recall that these were guys whose fathers had died in the battlefields of WW2, whose grandfathers had died on Flanders Field. And here's their Prime Minister calling them the enemy.

Worse, she used the Police as her personal militia. The British Police are civilians. Yet for the first time ever, we saw police 'battalions' on our streets, in riot gear, marching in formation against pickets.

She even used mounted police as cavalry. Our mounted police are for crowd control, at football matches and the like. The horses are trained to lean sideways into crowds, like big slow barriers. But, incredibly, she deployed them as chargers. She literally unleashed cavalry charges against striking miners. The news footage is there to prove it.

Eventually the miners were broken and went back to work. But not for long. The Government set out to close most of the pits which in turn destroyed entire communities, especially in the old industrial north. Many people saw this as simply vindictive, though of course it was dressed up as an economic necessity.

Thatcher no doubt believed that by destroying her 'leftist' opposition she had performed a service for the country. And once again, on the back of her second 'victory', and with the backing of the same gutter press, she went to the polls and won a third term of office.

negotiation, thatcher-style
negotiation, thatcher-style

Thatcher's Poll Tax

Re-elected, she turned her attention to the Rating System. At this time, every house in the UK had a Rateable Value, notionally based on the rent it could (in theory) command. For example, a large detached house might have an RV of £450 and a small terraced property possibly £150. The Annual Rates collected to fund local government might then be, '£1.20 in the pound', meaning that the big house would have to pay 450 x £1.20 and the small house 150 x £1.20. The idea of course was that bigger houses had bigger frontage on the street, meaning a bigger share of road repairs, lighting etc. Also, richer folk usually lived in bigger houses. So the tax was one of 'from each according to his means' and was generally considered fair, though no-one likes paying tax.

Margaret Thatcher abolished the Rates. The argument often presented was: why should an elderly widow living alone have to pay a huge rates bill just because her husband had left her a big house? Thatcher's new tax was called the Community Charge and was a flat rate levied on every adult in the country. Quickly dubbed the Poll Tax, this was extremely unpopular. Poor extended families living together in a small rented apartment could end up paying maybe five times as much as the 'rich old bat' in the big house. It was a 'regressive tax' taking money from the poor to benefit the rich.

What happened next was almost unprecedented. People refused to pay. And not just a few people. There were national campaigns 'Can't pay, won't pay!' and even a campaign 'Can pay, won't pay!' for better off folk to show solidarity. In short, there was a popular revolt.

Of course, it wasn't all about the Poll Tax. Many were just sick of Thatcher and Thatcherism. They'd hated her war crimes, hated her destruction of the social fabric, hated her annihilation of the mining communities, hated her militarisation of the police, hated her brand of dog-eat-dog capitalism and her whole compassionless, authoritarian, non-consensual approach to government at home and abroad.

Within months, she was history. Her (rather cowardly) Cabinet ministers turned against her and started a leadership challenge, with John Major eventually taking over the reins. It was the end of an era.

I'm not a historian and some may disagree with my interpretation of events, but that is the Thatcher story as I saw it, then and now. It was a bad time for Britain, yet it ended with a positive message - people have power over government, if they simply stand up to be counted.

John Major soon replaced the Poll Tax with a Community Charge which was effectively a reformed version of the Rates. He also started the Peace Process in Northern Ireland by talking to both sides, unlike Thatcher's "We will never talk to terrorists!" Under John Major, things began to get better, for everyone, though thanks to Tony's New Labour, the respite was short-lived.

Thank you for reading!

More by this Author


Comments 88 comments

CJStone profile image

CJStone 8 years ago from Whitstable, UK

Hi Paraglider, well I agreed with every word, until the last line: "things began to get better." What happened afterwards is that the Labour Party took on the left within its own ranks, ejected the Militant Tendency, elected Tony Blair, removed Labour's commitment to socialism (Clause Four) and then, once in power, continued to govern the country in exactly the same way that Thatcher would have done, so things just got worse. I agree about the Poll Tax though - which I guess is your point - an unpopular and unfair tax defeated by people refusing to pay. Is that the lesson you want our American friends to learn?


soulsurfer profile image

soulsurfer 8 years ago from South West England

Hi Paraglider,

I thought Ben Bernanke's original cunning plan consisted of printing dollar bills, then throwing them out of helicopters. In that scenario the proletariat presumably got to pick a few up and spend them.

Plan B seemed to be to stop chucking the green stuff out of choppers and start stuffing it into the pockets of the latest barrow boy on Wall Street who took on more risk than he could handle.

Now inflation has reared it;s ugly head again I'm not at all sure how Plan C, such as it is, is going to work.

Cheers,

Jim


robie2 profile image

robie2 8 years ago from Central New Jersey

Hmmmm or maybe plan C is " workers of the world, unite"LOL--we live in unsettled times and we are reaping the seeds sown by Reagan and Thatcher those two good buddies who never doubted the rightness of their cause.

Another good hub, Paraglider, and I am delighted to see someone put an international and historical spin on this current American financial dilemma. We spend far too much time gazing at our own navels.


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Hi CJ - I agree with that. I well remember the start of New Labour and the Clause 4 disgrace. I still regret the death of John Smith who would have been a good Labour PM, instead of the unelectable Neil Kinnock. When I said things got better, I literally meant for the short duration of John Major's premiership. He did address the Irish problem sensibly, he did scrap the poll tax and he was basically consensual. Tony, on the other hand... 

Jim - we're getting to the stage that the promisary notes are only good for throwing out of helicopters. 

Robie - thanks! I've been trying to post relevant hubs in the past few weeks, but without the detail of someone on the spot in the US. So, appeal to history, philosophy, sociology, or good old knock-down comedy maybe?


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

CJ - following your comment, I've added a few words to the close, and added this comment here to help new readers understand your comment!


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 8 years ago from The Ozarks

Paraglider, totally agreed that the bail-out is a very BAD idea. But the Proletariat! Come on, that word conjures up the image of a mob in search of bread and circuses. No American, no matter what his social position or income, thinks of himself as a member of the Proletariat, and it's a good thing, too!


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Aya - if you know ne at all, you'll know I choose my words with care. I see the 'Party' formed already. It's not Republican or Democrat. It's Moneycrat. And once there is the Party, there is the Proletariat by any other name. Because, how do you vote them out if the two party system are in bed together at the top, with the Money men?

If the bail out goes ahead, there may well be bread queues. Circuses - don't know ;)


Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 8 years ago from UK

Paraglider, who ever would have thought it? John Major, the grey man, Edwina's secret lover, was actually the right man at the right time. Tony, however, was most decidedly not, and poor old Gordon inherited the mess.

I don't know if the US bail-out is a good plan or not. Peoples lives and jobs are at stake, after all. Comparing Mrs T with good ol' boy George, though, is perhaps a little unfair. She may not have always been popular, and she was certainly calculating and ruthless, but she wasn't insane, and I don't believe that she would have blithely led us into Iraq without checking the facts first. Just look at her record, as described by you in your hub. She saw problems (remember the winter of discontent, and the invasion of the Falklands?) and she clinically set about resolving those problems with all the precision of a surgeon. The miners suffered terribly, and maybe blowing up the Belgrano was a war crime, but these were acts of great resolve, completely unlike the meddling incompetence we have suffered for the last eight years.

(Sorry for a political rant there, but I guess there's a lot more to come once the US elections are out of the way! LOL)


Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 8 years ago from UK

Sorry, did I say eight years? It's a lot longer than that, isn't it.


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Hi Amanda - Maggie T was a phenomenon, maybe never to be repeated. I won't deny she was focused, very intelligent and competent, but she did destroy much of the fabric of society and certainly she was never going to help in Ireland. I reckon her legislation on Unionism would have been enough on its own, without the deliberate fight with the Miners. But Arthur Scargill didn't read the situation well either. John Major wasn't a great PM, but his pragmatism was a welcome change from 12 years of dogmatism!


soulsurfer profile image

soulsurfer 8 years ago from South West England

Hi Paraglider,

An addendum from Europe. I bumped into Arthur Scargill once, outside the NUM in Swansea. I don't think he recognised me though!

Tom Friedman was on Dutch TV tonight. "The World is Flat", "The White House is brain dead", "Congress is brain dead". However entrepreneurs all over the US are fighting the good fight! Apparently the solution will emerge from some inventor's garage any day now.

Cheers,

Jim


ColdWarBaby 8 years ago

soulsurfer, robie2. I think plan C involves the labor/concentration camps Halliburton has been contracted to build all over the country.

Paraglider. Another excellent bit. Aren't the parallels interesting? I don't expect the sheeple in amerika to respond in a like manner however.


t.keeley profile image

t.keeley 8 years ago from Seattle, WA

Paraglider, it's about time someone wrote about Thatcher. I guess that was the major inspiration for the song "Jam Tomorrow" by the Oysterband! It makes sense, of course, now seeing the history and even the parallels to the Bush Administration. Scary, scary, scary...


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Jim - I was pleased to see this morning (and I'm between 8 and 13 hours ahead of US in time) that the plan is getting some flak after all. It looked (on Friday) that it was just going to slip through.I guess (hope) a few people have given it some serious thought over the weekend and are saying, wait a minute...


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

CWB - UK had had 10 years of Thatcherism before the Poll Tax rebellion. We also had a very popular and hard-hitting political satire called Spitting Images which lampooned the Thatcher-Reagan partnership.

It wasn't till later (as CJ Stone mentions) that Tony Blair turned the Labour Party into 'New Labour' which as we've seen is just another elitist Capitalist/Consumerist party, virtually indistinguishable from the 'opposition'.


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

tkeeley - The scariest thing was her readiness to see all dissenters as 'the enemy' and to turn her militia-style police onto them. Bad times.


t.keeley profile image

t.keeley 8 years ago from Seattle, WA

Perhaps what upsets me most is her parallels to Palin, who claims government in the 'name of God' much like Thatcher did. I know many "default conservatives" in the Christian realm who strongly feel Thatcher's policy was more or less a "godly endeavour." It's scary, actually, to think that the most idolised politicians like Reagan, Thatcher, Bush, etc. [in the Christian faith] are all arguably the biggest advocates against Christian principles. War, desolation of the poor, building up of the wealthy, these are AMERICAN ideals, not CHRISTIAN ideals.

It's funny ho members of even my church believe that the free market is a tool to make us all financially wealthy, where as Christ Himself preached the antithesis. To the rich man He said "sell all your goods." When we idolise material we stand in the way of Christianity.

I feel this is the biggest hypocrisy of it all.


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

I think to an extent Thatcher has been retrospectively hijacked by the fundamentalist right wing. She believed in her own infallibility, but I don't remember her invoking God on her side, at least not in the direct way that most American presidents tend to do.

The free market is just that - a market, with winners and losers. A regulated market also has winners and losers, but with safeguards and curbs in place. Why is that such a bad idea?


CJStone profile image

CJStone 8 years ago from Whitstable, UK

"the unelectable Neil Kinnock"... yet again we are in complete agreement paraglider. The weird thing is they've been reeling him out again - now Lord Kinnock - for the Labour Party conference, in order to declaim in that pompous tone of his, calling the resergent left "infantile" for calling for renationalisation. Bloody hell! I'm listening to the BBC right now and guess who they have on: the ginger windbag himself talking about "Labour Values".

Yes, a regulated market is what we need, with all the proper safeguards.

Bring back the proletariat!


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Thanks CJ - Did you write a column at the time about the Clause 4 debates? It was that betrayal that cut the Labour party adrift from the thinking Socialists like Foot and Benn and handed it over to the spinners.


soulsurfer profile image

soulsurfer 8 years ago from South West England

Actually Tony Blair was (and still is I guess) far more likely than Maggie to invoke God on his side.  He did so in a fairly Presidential fashion on occasions, when a "just" war was on the cards for example.  I recall listening to one such speech and wondering whether he had even less grip on "reality" than me.

Getting back to current affairs rather than ancient history, what happens if John McCain gets elected but one of his old war wounds flares up? Presumably Ms. Palin's vast experience of foreign affairs and international finance is brought to bear on any "little difficulties" that might arise?


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Yes, I agree. Tony B was possibly the most sanctimonious PM we've ever had, and wasn't above invoking God in his causes. If McCain gets elected then kicks the bucket, don't we all just start playing hockey till the skies turn black?


pgrundy 8 years ago

Actually I loved your use of the word 'Proletariat', except I'm not sure who it applies to--Wall Street or the blue collar folk here in the frozen tundra of the formerly industrial midwest. It appears that Comrade Paulson is about to seize the means of production, but which proletariat is he seizing them for? I'm thinking Wall Street.

What a good and timely hub, and encouraging too. I do think we are about to see quite a reaction on Main St. I read last night that Paulson & Dodd did finally agree to Congressional oversight and a few other modifications, which is good, but it just made me think, ok, so they presented the outrageous proposal first so the slightly-but-not-much-less outrageous one would pass pronto. Like everyone who ever bought as used car can't recognize that.

I don't think it will work, in any case. It's just an attempt to grab some cash before jumping off the sinking ship. It has nothing to do with helping us keep our jobs. I'm with Robie2. Time to throw some tea in the harbor.

Thank you Paraglider!


Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 8 years ago from UK

I note in the news that a number of communities in the UK are busy printing their own local currency. At first glance this seems a bit of a gimmick, but on reflection, perhaps they know something we don't?


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Thanks Pam - My 'Proletariat' and 'Comrades' were shock tactics of course, but when ostensibly opposed political parties effectively coalesce and join forces with the money machine, they do start to look very much like The Party, owning and controling everything. Then the proletariat is everybody they need to service their machine - slaves are best if they can get them, cheap overseas workforces are probably next best, low-paid home grown workforces are third choice. I hope people do kick up about the way they are being treated. Only a popular movement can stop these guys.


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Amanda - that's an interesting development. A bit like the child-minding tokens we used to use, maybe? Usually all but the simplest bartering systems eventually need some kind of token or currency, simply because the day you need the plasterer's help, he doesn't particularly need his fuse-box rewired. So, ten tokens please :)


Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 8 years ago from UK

The two towns that I've specifically heard about using their own local currency are Totnes and Lewes (both part of the Transition Towns network). I was in Lewes at the weekend and picked up a leaflet about the local currency, and it's available through the local town hall, several shops (as one might expect) and Barclays Bank! The TT network is clearly planning on keeping all bases covered in the event of total meltdown.


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Since you're on the spot, do you fancy publishing a hub about it? It sounds pretty well developed. I wonder if it is a tax-free initiative (and for how long)?


Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 8 years ago from UK

Sounds like a good plan. I'll see what I can find out over the next few days.


summer10 profile image

summer10 8 years ago from my happy place :)

"Wallstreet sticking it to Main Street" "Instead of 1 bad year, we'll be looking at a horrible decade" Ron Paul..... seems to just about sum up the so called "bail out plan"... The complications and hardships this plan will bring seem to take on no importance.

This is a great hub Paraglider ~ Thank u :)


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Summer10 - thank you for reading. I hope that enough decent people make their voices heard to force the powers that be to take stock. But, whatever happens, there's no painless answer to the present deficit.


budwood profile image

budwood 8 years ago from Southern Nevada

Politics is a big deal. Too bad.

I heard a comment comparing politicians to cockroaches - - they both don't eat an awful lot but they sure mess up what they leave.


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

If only it was just the politicians. It's when they team up with the financiers the rot really sets in.


hot dorkage profile image

hot dorkage 8 years ago from Oregon, USA

Politicians, like nappies, need to be changed frequently and for the same reasons.

I see no way out of the financial crisis whether us taxpayers prop up Wall street or allow it to crash naturally and take the consequences of that. The bailout will probably cause more predictable results, but one way or another, the rich always win. Democracy ha. We live in a stupidocracy. I'm just gonna plant my victory garden and assume that any investments we made for retirement will be worthless and Social Security will be squat by the time it's my turn to collect.


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

HD - I think that's pretty realistic. Lot's of folk (me included) are looking less at retirement and more at a sort of ticking over - doing occasional paid gigs, whether music, writing, a bit of gardening, running the odd night class. Because the investments are going to be worth nothing. It's a good idea to stay healthy too :)


Ntathu 8 years ago

Paraglider, its fascinating to read your article and revisit time. Sometimes life feels like "we have reinvented the wheel and history repeats itself". Regardless of the period of time, i feel the main thing is to hold onto your truth, see the good and beauty in all and look out for each other. I recall the Thatcher years and remember the pain and distress her policies caused the "everyday" folk. Can you remember what her "the Lady isnt for turning" speech was about and didnt she eventually make a "U-Turn"? Ntathu


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Ntathu - thanks for dropping by. I remember the U-turn speech but I'd have to go back and remind myself what it was about. I have a feeling it was about Europe. She was notoriously bad at delivering humour. One of her speechwriters included a Monty Python reference (wasn't it to the dead parrot sketch?) and it turned out she didn't understand it, never having seen Monty Python.

Nice website, by the way - Breathe in and out and all else follows - I like it :)


marisuewrites profile image

marisuewrites 8 years ago from USA

No 30 min fix for this; your hub is very educational...thank you paraglider, for your perspective

"people have power over government, if they simply stand up to be counted. "

so right, we must talk and act and never give up!


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Thanks Marisue - in this case, the extent of 'people power' might just be to show disapproval (in whatever way seems appropriate) because as you say, there's no quick fix for the world's biggest ever debt.


soulsurfer profile image

soulsurfer 8 years ago from South West England

I've returned to the UK now, to discover this clip on the BBC website from a few days ago - http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/7620198.stm -  After about 2 minutes George Soros says that "I am afraid that the way Paulson has been handling the situation is very reminiscent of the way the central bankers talked in the 1930s"

Both McCain and Obama seem to be lining up against Bush, Bernanke and Paulson.  Interesting times we live in.


soulsurfer profile image

soulsurfer 8 years ago from South West England

P.S. - A bit more browsing round the BBC website revealed Mrs. Thatcher's "Not for turning" speech and this handy Maggie timeline - http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/o...

Also there is this http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/s... about John Major's "U-turn" moment and the day George Soros made a very large pile of money betting against the Bank of England. I wonder where his chips are stacked just at the moment?

Back in September 1992 Gordon Brown was shadow chancellor. He said "Colossal errors of judgement by the prime minister and chancellor had betrayed the British people."

For some reason I have this strange sensation of deja vu.


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Jim - akin to your Arthur Scargill encounter, I opened a taxi door to let Norman Lamont out so I could get in. For the next five minutes I was treated to the cabbie saying "Chancellor of the bleeding Exchequor and he didn't have change for a tip"


soulsurfer profile image

soulsurfer 8 years ago from South West England

I can feel a new hub coming on. Accidental encounters with the rich and/or famous...... and how they ignored us. (Although actually some of them do occasionally stop for a nice little chat)


Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 8 years ago from UK

Hi Paraglider.

I finally had some time free to put that hub together. You can find out more about local currencies at :

http://hubpages.com/politics/Local-Currency---How-...


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Amanda - I will, thanks! I'm going out for dinner now. Later this evening, OK?


Amanda Severn profile image

Amanda Severn 8 years ago from UK

Enjoy your meal!


Caleb's Dad profile image

Caleb's Dad 8 years ago from Washington state

Thanks for the hub, Paraglider. Until this mess, I didn't understand financial stuff too well, so I've been on a crash course trying to learn what my brain seems to naturally reject for some reason. :) I don't know which path would be best--bail-out or let it all fall. Either way, I know that I'm the one that will be paying for it, as I AM just a part of the Proletariat. When folks were pitching tea into the harbor, I doubt very much that this was the future that had in mind for this nation. Yet, as your hub reminds, and the saying so astutely goes, history repeats itself. And the reason it repeats itself is that human nature is the same yesterdat, today and tomorrow.

With too much power, most people eventually will abuse it. Sad, but verifiably true. The only real chek is us, the masses. We really do have the final say in something. One comment above stated that revolution brings on teh judgement of God, yet I think that needs to be investigated a bit closer. The Jesus that I know and follow brought about a revolution. America was started due to a revolution. The Poll Tax was dealt with due to a revolution of sorts. Revolution can be a very good thing when it is revolting against something that is unjust and corrupt. God is a God of justice, and to go along with injustice is not what we are to do. We are to stand against corruption in any area. Corruption is to be confronted and challenged so that it can be set straight. Hopefully, through non-violent methods. Most conflicts can be resolved without bloodshed if the conflicting parties can swallow their pride and need to win and replace it with humility and the need to resolve the issue in a way that is best for all people.

In the case of us Yanks right now, we need to see that those responsible for this mess be held accountable. We need to see that the higher-ups regard justice as a primary concern. A huge part of the problem right now is that I believe our nation as a whole has an overall distrust for politicians. That is fanning the flames right now. We are flat-out pissed that the CEOs of these companies at the moment appear to be getting off free and clear, and with more money in their pockets to boot. (Although, I heard on the radio that the FBI is looking into these companies for fraud and such. Amen! If there is wrong-doing, may they find it and prosecute those that cimmitted it

I am just a working slob. I don't have milions in the bank or know famous and powerful people. No matter what they do, the next 5-10 years are going to be tough, in my opinion. But I can deal with that much better if I know that my government is doing something to deal with the people who purposely caused harm. That will instill some faith in the system in my cynical heart and mind. I don't trust those running my country right now. They've given me no reason to.

It's time for them to give me a reason. And NOW. I want them to infuse the same urgency into rebuilding some faith in me that they are putting into trying to push through a fix for the current crisis. We can rebuild from this. It is, after all, just money. That can be recovered through time an hard work. But faith in the leaders? Lose that now, and the future we have ahead of us will be very tenuous.

(Sorry this was so long...you all had such great comments, it created this wordy treatise. Sorry, Paraglider...maybe I should ahve just made this a hub...)


viralprospector profile image

viralprospector 8 years ago from DFW Texas

Paraglider;

I am late on the scene on this hub. However, I think it is very enlightening. I am not much of a British history guy, but I take away that there is hope Americans may wake up, since the British did and ousted Thatcher. I think someone said they doubted it. I do, too, so far.

This American bail out fiasco is a very organized corruption by those in power and money.

Of course, the best plan is to let all this mess fall out just as it deserved to, but that won't happen. Here is why I say that. The only loser would be the stock market. Well, sorry but everyone should have seen this coming. We owe China more than we can pay. That's right China, not Britain.

Oh there would be paper losses all over the place, but assets would not change. So, that would expose all the co conspirators. they would fall, too. The stock market is a classic economic product. That is about it. So, the law of supply and demand exists. Simple economics is all it is. The supply of stock would not really alter. OK, the bankrupt would not have stock, but legitimate companies might form, so the supply would stay constant. The demand shift would hardly be from Bubba, Darrell and his other brother Daryl. In fact, Joe Lunchbucket would not get out or in the market. It would be the greed mongers that would bail out. They own most of it anyway, so who cares that they lose it all. They messed it up. So, price would fall, but it would come back stronger and faster than it will with the ultimate American fiasco #umpeen under this monarch.

And the good news is that my great grandchildren would have a trillion less debt. Maybe a few sleepy Americans would wake up, OK I know that's stretching it. Hey, we could print up a few constitutions, what do you think? They might see that our forefathers in America said distrust government with all your might. We just sit there wringing our hands and agree with George to go bomb the terrorists and bail out the SOBs who caused this. All of it is at someone's expense.

Yes, Paraglider, the parallels are striking. Thanks a lot.


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 8 years ago from The Ozarks

Paraglider, I'll try again. I understand that maybe you're a lefty and I'm not, and that's all there is to it. But it seems to me that if we're going to divide people up into two categories (and I know that this is never the best thing to do) then the two categories are not  "Capitalists" and "Proletarians" or "Rich" and "Poor". The two categories that make sense in the bail-out situation are: "those who keep their promises" and "those who don't".

I agree that we shouldn't bail-out anybody, and there should be natural consequences to not keeping a promise. But this will affect both those  in high positions and those in low positions and everyone else in between, who borrowed money and did not pay it back on time.

The conflict of interest at present is between those who own their property outright (however humble or grand) and those who borrowed money (however much or little) and don't plan to return it. It is between people who lent money (whether they were just making a small deposit in their savings account or let others have millions of dollars to play with) and those who took that money and will never return it.

If the bail-out goes through, then those who are in debt will profit, and those who have savings will lose. It's very simple, and it cuts through all the different strata of society.

The strength of America has been historically that all people, of whatever walk of life, recognized this.


viralprospector profile image

viralprospector 8 years ago from DFW Texas

Aya;

If I may intrude, I might suggest a couple of other things that need to be in the picture, in my opinion.

First, these bad debts are contracts. If that contract is bad, that is between the two (or more) parties to that contract. No other person is or should be party to that contract. The bail out is Americans' money so it erroneously makes all Americans and future Americans party to that contract. Almost...

In reality, all Americans are party to almost every contract because the compassion of all Americans is express in almost every contract (except child support, fraud, i.e.). That is bankrputcy. A bad contract is fairly simply discharged in bankruptcy. When these contracts were signed, that was in place to discharge these contracts if they defaulted. Both parties knew that, and that is more than enough compassion from Americans because ultimately those who are not defaulting are indirectly paying for those who are.

The issue here is whether the firms that lent that money should bankrupt. In that scenario of disapproval of the biilout, the pain would come to the shareholders of those Wall St firms that would collapse, at least allegedly. Why would Americans care, frankly? I would be worried if lots of jobs were at risk, i.e. GM, Microsoft, etc. A trillion dollars is completely absurd for a few thousand jobs on Wall St. No way would I approve this.

This is building the American monarchy, Geo Bush. This is smoochie poochies for the rich elite. This is robbing from the poor to pay the rich.


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Amanda - {Enjoy your meal!} - thanks - I did. It was a Chinese 'hot-pot', i.e. table wok, self cooked. Too much, but all appreciated!

Caleb's Dad - I won't discuss God with you, because we wouldn't agree, but I agree entirely about accountability. One way or another it's going to be tough, but if the corrupt CEOs and their cronies go scot-free, why would any Citizen buy into the pain of funding the recovery? Thank you for posting!

VP - You are right that the Chinese 'own' most of the debt. And in buying it, they are only playing the game 'we' taught them to play. They were not trying to sink or even control USA. The just wanted to jump on the western bandwagon of 'money for nothing'. I'll say nothing about 'chicks for free'. What might come out of this is a wider appreciation of the difference between real assets and 'derivatives', which are intangible and exist only so long as people want them to. Thanks for the contribution.

Aya - I was/am being tongue in cheek, talking about the Proletariat. I am deliberately trying to provoke people into either asserting their individuality or acknowledging that it is lost. There is a third category not mentioned in your third paragraph - people who borrowed, intending to repay, but have fallen foul of negative equity and/or increased nterest rates, so that with the best will in the world they can't repay. The strength of America is under threat, under the microscope, even.


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 8 years ago from The Ozarks

Paraglider, I don't think intention comes into it. Okay, some people borrow with fraudulent intent not to return the money, but that's not what most borrowers do, not even the big ones. In any event, we can't second guess intent. So I think the only thing that matters is whether you kept your promise. In 1929, people were jumping off buildings because they couldn't keep their promises, and their honor was at stake. It didn't matter that they never intended for this to happen. They still felt responsible. I don't see anyone jumping off of buildings nowadays, because nobody seems to feel responsible for fulfilling a promise -- no matter what happens or who else is at fault. Discharge in bankruptcy is a highly questionable practice, from an ethical point of view. One person can forgive another person's debt if he so chooses. But for the public to forgive Mr. A's debt to Mr. B is completely unacceptable. If someone wants to bail someone else out, he should pay for it with his own money.


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Aya - I agree and disagree ;) When someone highly qualified, well paid, and representing a 'venerable' institution offers a loan to someone with no such advantages, is the borrower to be held solely responsible? Can the lender just step back and say not my fault?

I agree that you, as an innocent 3rd party, shouldn't have to pick up the bill, but maybe the lender should? Even if that means trashing the banks and starting over.


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 8 years ago from The Ozarks

Paraglider, I'm not trying to shelter the lender. If the lender defaults on his own obligations to a third party, the fact that the borrower defaulted in no way absolves him. That's just the point: nothing excuses a default, not ignorance, not gullibility, not greed, and not even the failure of people you were counting on to live up their own obligations. Unless someone has been declared non compos mentis, in a free society all are presumed equally responsible for their actions.

The idea that all men are created equal isn't about the actual facts. It's about how we are all going to be treated as if we were equal. 


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

{{The idea that all men are created equal isn't about the actual facts. It's about how we are all going to be treated as if we were equal.}}

We can agree on that. Now, how to apply it to the present situation. at the very least it seems we should not be bailing out guilty individuals or institutions. Party's over here's the bill. Don't give the bill to the non-party-goers.


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 8 years ago from The Ozarks

Paraglider, totally agreed!


talented_ink profile image

talented_ink 8 years ago from USA

Taking accountability for the actions that every person has taken in regards to the current state of the union is a hard pill for many to swallow. It is disheartening and really aggravating to think that if a bailout plan isn't reached then the same people that were "bet" on by rich investors will be the same people that will suffer because of someone else's shady dealings. As a few have said before me, the parallels between Thatcher and Bush are uncanny, and I wholeheartedly agree with your view that the power of a collective group of (civic and intelligent) people will trump any government any day. Great hub!


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Thanks talented_ink. The parallels are unavoidable but the unfortunate difference is that the Poll Tax revolt did stop the Poll Tax, while a popular revolt in US can't cancel that huge debt. All it can do is deliver a strong message.


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 8 years ago from Southern California, USA

I read part of Margaret Thatcher's memoirs for a college research paper, and the one thing that struck me as odd was her insistence on how right she was, especially over certain dibacles such as the Falklans. She even included a letter from her ally and personal friend Ronald Reagan, which basically told her to stand her ground and not give anyone an inch. I was not a large fan of Reagan's policies and Thatcher seemed to sympathize with him a little too much. Interesting hub and thank you for sharing.


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Hi SweetiePie - Thanks for visiting. All politicians believe they are right, but Margaret Thatcher took it to extremes, to the extent that her Cabinet were barely allowed to have opinions of their own. The Thatcher-Reagan partnership was too close and made her no friends in Continental Europe, rather like the Blair-Bush double act over Iraq.


soulsurfer profile image

soulsurfer 8 years ago from South West England

The latest news from the trenches - Washington Mutual bites the dust. So does Bradford and Bingley. Here are some video comments on the situation, from 35 years ago or more:

Kenneth Clark - http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=r9lmepH9STs

Jakub Bronowski - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hAg0anPwWbM

They don't make TV like that any more. I wonder why not?


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

B&B going down will scare a lot of folk in UK. The two bowler hats.


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

29 September - round 21:00 local time in Qatar - Congress has just voted down the Bail-out plan. We live in interesting times. And Ramadan has just ended.


Shadesbreath profile image

Shadesbreath 8 years ago from California

I don't know enough about recent British history to comment beyond the fact that at least civilized societies don't have to have huge bloody civil wars ever ten years, even if some of the differences are humongous.

The one thing I have to say, probably just piss people off, but, Margaret Thatcher did one thing that I really think was awesome.  She proved that a woman could be a strong and effective leader in a modern world and of a "1st world" super power.  Margaret Thatcher showed the world that the idea of woman as weak or even only "strong" in cases where there weren't any "real" big dogs in the yard.. she proved that was bullshit.  I respect the hell out of her for that.  She wasn't afraid to play hardball (whether you agree with her game plan or not).


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Hi Shadesbreath - I'd be the last to deny that she had some admirable qualities, leadership among them. Her weakness was arguably a corruption of her strength - an unwillingness to listen to advice or to respect the opposite view. In fact, I think she could respect an opposing view, but only if it came from someone she saw as her equal, and there weren't too many of them around. Margaret Thatcher and I have a guiding light in common - we're both strong Popperians.


tom mullen profile image

tom mullen 7 years ago from Apollo Beach, FL

Hello Paraglider,

A good article, and of course a specific policy I was unfamiliar with, being across the pond. The first part of the article smacks of what I believe is a misconception of true capitalism. True capitalism is based upon voluntary exchange. Government granted privileges for the wealthy or owners of capital is not capitalism any more than government privileges for the poor. Capitalism does not allow privileges for anyone. We have not had true capitalism in America for many, many decades - certainly not under George Bush. It is disheartening to me to hear George Bush's policies equated with capitalism and capitalism besmirched because of it. I don't even consider Reagan's policies capitalism, although his RHETORIC was certainly capitalistic.

Regarding the tax issue, it is an old argument. I've recently been revisiting my Jefferson, and in his autobiography he talks about Virginia having the same debate: tax the number of people or tax the value of the property? It is an interesting subject. On one hand, everyone, regardless of their means, requires protection of their life and liberty from the government, although some may not have as much property as others. On the other hand, the threat to life and liberty is usually related to property, so there is a case to tax those with more to protect at a higher rate. Even us die hard capitalists recognize the merits of both sides of this argument. However, I doubt that Thatcher was doing any more than trying to benefit her rich friends in big houses - not the poor widow living in the house her husband left her.

Free trade in our time! TTYS


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 7 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Hi Tom - thanks for the read. I think we both recognise that the pure forms of capitalism and socialism have never been tried. Both are equally susceptible to corruption and, once corrupted, they start to resemble each other very closely.


Sufidreamer profile image

Sufidreamer 7 years ago from Sparti, Greece

I just had to write a paper about that evil woman. I still feel unclean.


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 7 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Writing this hub brought back a lot of memories too.


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 7 years ago

Thanks for the refresher on Thatcher. She was bad but Bush is much worse. She started a small war and Bush started two big ones. She closed the coal pits and Bush allowed them to despoil the mountains and streams.

Here's a good example of the fruits of unregulated capitalism under George Bush:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/03/washington/03min...


Lgali profile image

Lgali 7 years ago

very nice article


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 7 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Ralph - She was more of a Reagan than a Bush. The pits were just that - pits. Not surface scarification. So keeping them open would not have further damaged the environment. But closing them destroyed communities.

Lgali - thank you :)


Sufidreamer profile image

Sufidreamer 7 years ago from Sparti, Greece

Sadly, that was her point. I am no apologist for the present Labour government, but they are the lesser of two evils. Life was tough under that woman - I will be throwing a huge party at my house on the day that she finally dies.


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 7 years ago from South Africa

Thanks to one old lefty from another - I had almost forgotten the bad old days of the cosmic cowboy and the plutonium blonde! Those were bad days indeed and now we have the bad new days thanks to the unspeakable GWB and his ilk, the labour lapdog and weird successor. One hopes, rather against hope, I'm afraid, for something better from Obama. Here in sunny South Africa we have our own issues with a president-in-waiting who had his hands deep in the cookie jar (not to mention some panties!) and a labour leader who arrives at labour conferences in fancy limousines and a Communist Party leader who talks more loike a capitalist than a socialist. So hey, who's complaining? The rich (right and left) continue to enrich themselves further at the cost of the not-rich and what else is new? The liberation movement become in its turn oppressor, or at least collaborator with the opressor is not new in history, just sad to see how great idealism and hope can turn to ashes in a few short years.

Love and peace and thanks for a great Hub!

Tony


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 7 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Thanks Tony - I remain hopeful that good government is a possibility, but it defintely requires an intelligent and watchful public who are prepared to speak out against serious misconduct (by which I don't mean frivolous pecadillos, but serious abuse of public trust). Bring back Clause 4!


Satori 6 years ago

You'll love this - your "negotiation, thatcher style" photograph couldn't look any more medieval feudal if it tried! "Ess'll show ye, peasant filth!"

I haven't done a lot of reading about the Thatcher years, but apparently the vast consensus is that she had an extremely fascist leadership style. But it's kind of nice to see a PM who was returning to the traditional values that Britain was founded on - medieval feudalism.


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 6 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Not so nice if you're on the business end of the whirling truncheon though!


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago

This is a great article. I do understand that poll tax was a terrible idea. I don't know what she was thinking. I don't see any war crime. When you are attacked, you should open a big can of whoop ass. You see, this is a great deterrence. Many times in history, you have to take the fight out of the enemy. Now I know this is politically incorrect. If every time a Muslim terrorist killed 50 innocent people on a bus, somebody in the west with a real pair flattened a few cities and killed maybe 50,000; there would be no more terrorism. This crap persists because these people know how "measured" the response of the west will be. If you tell some idiot "Hey idiot. If you kill one of my children I'll kill your whole village." They won't do it. I know it's harsh. Harsh like Hiroshima.


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 6 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Hi James - interesting solution to terrorism but I don't think it would work. Disproportionate response is the standard Israeli tactic, and it is generally recognised to be the reason for most of the spin-off terrorism around the world. Terrorism is the Hydra - chop off a head and another grows in its place. Terrorism in Ireland was finally contained and stopped by talks, the very thing that Margaret Thatcher refused to do. Clinton, Ted Kennedy, John Major all helped. Mrs T & Ronald Regan didn't.

(The Belgrano was steaming away from the exclusion zone when she was sunk). Thanks for the visit, just the same - always welcome!


prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

oh same tax and similarity, thanks for telling people about all what Tatcher had done also, all I can remember is that she is that great Prime Minister,

how are you now Dave, enjoying your hometown??must be colder, Maita


Low Power Microscope 6 years ago

Always a pleasure to come across some work that is useful, thankyou for the information keep the good stuff pouring in


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 6 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Hi Maita - She was big on the world stage, certainly, but too uncompromising at home. She still has her following of course, but I'm not among them!


htodd profile image

htodd 5 years ago from United States

Thanks for the post


John Holden profile image

John Holden 4 years ago

Big on the world stage maybe, but like all theatrical works tends to gloss over the real horror. After all it wouldn't do to show that great woman's total lack of regard for the huge lump of the British public that were surplus to her needs.


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 4 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

What, you mean like Liverpool and Wales?


John Holden profile image

John Holden 4 years ago

Yes, and most of the north as well


entropyartist profile image

entropyartist 2 years ago

I was happy to come across this hub! I've just started reading a novel set during "the Thatcher years" and I'm glad to have the extra insight into this particular moment in history.

Very nice hub!


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 2 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

entropyartist - thank you for telling me :)

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