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Upsala Nya Tidning, Sweden

U.S. Should Choose Practical Patriotism Over Party Tactics


"There are times that the national interest must be held higher than party politics and electioneering. It is about practical patriotism, which is often praised in the United States."




Translated By Mia Shanley and Tomas Ageskog


July 28, 2011


Sweden - Upsala Nya Tidning - Original Article (Swedish)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: Early Sunday evening, Reid confirmed that he had signed off on a debt ceiling deal. If his and the Republican caucus' approve, the crisis could be over by Monday afternoon.


FINANCIAL TIMES VIDEO: What a downgrade means for Wall Street, July 27, 00:03:45RealVideo

Now it's really becoming embarrassing. We've been following the circus for a long time and now the whole U.S. economy is at risk with Democrats and Republicans continuing to argue. The debt ceiling must be raised by August 2 at the latest so that the country can afford to pay for pensions and interest on loans.


The polarization is worsening due to the fact that both sides have difficulty with internal fights and betrayal. Republicans are being pressured hard by the Tea Party movement not to raise taxes, while within the Democratic Party there is strong resistance to cutting the social safety net - even if Obama now seems to be going along with that.


As a politician, making enemies among one's own party members and voters or even risk one’s political career is obviously difficult. We hope that the drama in this serious, acute situation makes it easier for the parties to justify internal compromise.


Under normal circumstances of course, the parties should represent citizens of differing opinions and fight hard for their cause. But there are times that the national interest must be held higher than party politics and electioneering. It is about practical patriotism, which is often praised in the United States.


It is gratifying to see that the American people want them to find a compromise solution. “You know what people are most tired of? They're tired of a city where compromise has become a bad word,” Obama said recently.


The financial crisis and its economic aftermath have forced many countries to make difficult choices. This has provided an interesting window on the differing ways in which governments and peoples have dealt with the challenges.


The Baltic States underwent a drastic austerity program. In Latvia, public sector salaries were cut by 20 percent. And although this hit many public employees hard there was public acceptance and the measures were greeted with relative calm. It was a courageous choice that now seems to be paying off as the small and open economy has begun to grow through exports.    



In Greece, the situation is the opposite. On the streets and squares, Greeks are shouting their anger against politicians and the E.U. One can understand their disappointment with the system, but also marvel at their naivety. If you've been involved in a widespread black economy, it may not surprise you to hear that the state doesn't collect enough in taxes. And how can Greece defend a retirement age of 58, when other countries don't consider themselves capable of affording it? The Greek people should also be able to acknowledge their own part in what is now happening.



FTD, Germany: Take Decisive Action on Debt Ceiling! Do it, Barack!
La Jornada, Mexico: The 'Grand Debt' of U.S. Families
Jornal Do Brasil, Brazil: American Default and the End of 'Zero Risk'
The Telegraph, U.K.: World Needs America to Come to its Senses
El Pais, Spain: Playing Chicken is the World's Newest Sport
Mainichi Shimbun, Japan: U.S. Must Prevent Another 'Made in U.S.' Disaster
Yomiori Shimbun, Japan: U.S. Lawmakers Should 'Stop Playing Political Games'
Yezhednevniy Zhurnal, Russia: The U.S. and Soviets: Pyramid Builders to Raiders
Frankfurter Rundschau, Germany: 'Radical' Republicans Threaten U.S. with Ruin
Tiscali Notizie, Italy: The Fiscal Decline of the 'Apocalypse'
News, Switzerland: Notion: 'Pay Politicians Based on Performance'
Salzburger Nachrichten, Austria: Debt Ceiling Attack By Republicans 'Backfires'
Gazeta, Russia: America's Astonishing 'Battle for the Ceiling'
People's Daily, China: U.S. Game of Chicken Threatens Creditors and Economy
Die Zeit, Germany: U.S. Risks 'Plunging World' Into New Financial Crisis
O Globo, Brazil: Global Economy Hangs on 'Mood' of U.S. Voters
The Telegraph, U.K.: Down on the Fourth of July: The United States of Gloom
Financial Times Deutschland, Germany: For Americans, a Dour Independence Day
Financial Times Deutschland, Germany: Who Cares about the U.S. Economy?
Folha, Brazil: U.S. Conservatives Threaten to Plunge U.S. into 'Lost Decade'


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In Sweden, we have learned from the tough decisions we made in the 1990s. Pension and tax reform are proud examples of when the country’s long-term interests were allowed to prevail over party politics. With all parties - except the Left Party - and with other key stakeholders supporting pension reform, there were a few protests but no public outcry. Against this historical background, it's no wonder that many were outraged by Hakan Juholt's suggestion that the Social Democrats could develop their own proposal for reforming the pension system and make it an election issue.


We see several examples in the world around us in which both governments and the voters lack a sense of responsibility. For leaders, it's about daring to take wise decisions - even if there is a cost. As voters, it's more important that we keep ourselves well informed about the economic realities facing the country. In the end, it is our responsibility to neither reward economic frivolity nor punish politicians that dare to take tough decisions on behalf of the public good.



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[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US July 31, 9:29pm]


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