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El Pais, Spain

Playing Chicken is the World's Newest Sport


"We can see how politics, which used to be the art of government action, is becoming the art of inaction: to prevent the government from taking action and impeding decisions that have already been made. Or the art of anarchy: the opposition makes certain that the government cannot govern."



Translated By Florizul Acosta-Perez


July 27, 2011


Spain - El Pais - Original Article (Spanish)

House Speaker John Boehner gives a thumbs up as he passes members of the media, July 30.


PBS NEWS HOUR: Libertarian Congressman Ron Paul explains why he will vote against raising the debt ceiling, and why he has always voted against it, July 20, 00:10:36RealVideo

There's one week left. Neither side wants to give an inch. A Democratic president like Obama cannot drastically slash social spending without raising taxes on the rich: he is gambling with his political future. Nor will ultra-conservative Congressmen cede any ground. They have sworn to their constituents that they will never support a tax increase: they seek a smaller government and want nothing more than to prevent the president from governing. There is only one argument that in the end may be convincing to both sides: If on August 2, the two sides have failed to agree to raise the debt ceiling so the government can meet its obligations, the American superpower will suspend payment of its debts. After a catastrophe of this magnitude others will follow which will affect stock markets, U.S. debt and the value of the dollar. This will affect the entire global economy. We have already seen repercussions in Europe, where we still haven't managed to pick ourselves up after overcoming the crisis [involving Greek debt] last week. The likely reason is the uncertainty reaching us from the other side of the Atlantic.


Living on the edge and challenging each other to a game of the chicken (sending ourselves at full speed toward the abyss to see which side can stop first before going over a cliff) has become the widespread sport of ungoverned globalization. Israelis and Palestinians have given us repeated evidence of this and have now set their own deadline. The moment of the truth in this case will come when all U.N. member countries are forced to choose: In September, the Palestinian Authority will seek U.N. General Assembly recognition and Israel will ask the U.N. Security Council to exercise its right of veto.


For a year-and-a-half, Europeans have been playing our own version of this risky game, over-and-over postponing measures that could have stemmed the sovereign debt crisis that began in Greece in 2010. And now that we've reached some positive agreements that could serve to begin straightening out the economy, a storm has arrived from Washington involving Democrats and Republicans that threatens the global economy and erodes confidence in these same European agreements.




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 this and many other cases, we can see how politics, which used to be the art of government action, is becoming the art of inaction: preventing government from taking action and impeding decisions that have already been made. Or the art of anarchy: the opposition makes certain that the government cannot govern. Obstruct and paralyze are verbs more appropriate for this situation. The use of the right of veto is the highest trick in this art. The task of the opposition is to provide citizens with a permanent alternative program and demonstrate that political change is always available - but in addition, to throw as many wrenches into the wheels of government as possible.


The first and most elementary rule of contemporary politics is to demand, the day after an election, that the winners not be legitimized, and to demonstrate that they cannot govern and that everything they do will be amended as soon as the opposition takes power. The result of such "opposition at the edge" is that no sooner than one has taken office, the credibility of the winners is questioned and there are calls for new elections - with a different end, naturally.



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[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US July 30, 2:59pm]


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