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Everything posted by theguyfromtheVale

  1. French politics: houlala!

    Indeed, I think it's fair to say that the French president is the second most powerful contestedly elected position in the world, directly after the US president (and that's only because the US is more influential than France; if they were equally so, the French president would be more powerful than the US president; I don' consider the Russian presidential eletion or Chinese leadership to be elected on similar grounds) Chirac was more conciliatory than Sarkozy ever was, so while leftists may have voted for Chirac, the post-Sarkozy Conservatives aren't as unproblematic to the left as Chirac was.
  2. French politics: houlala!

    Well, sure, the UK isn't in the same ballpark. But I do see the Brexit vote as an expression of resurgent nationalism, and in the current state of UK politics, there seems to be no credible challenge to the Tories, so they can basically govern without fear of being voted out of office.
  3. French politics: houlala!

    The problem is threefold. First, Le Pen being elected would have instant repercussions far beyond France itself, probably destroying the EU almost instantly (because France plays a critical role as arbiter between the rich, protestant North and the poorer, mostly catholic South of the EU, and because after Brexit, France would be the only remaining nuclear power in the EU, so a French exit would be even worse) The second problem is that once these nationalists have taken over enough governments, I don't know if we'll be able to reclaim our democracies any longer. A British de facto Tory One Party state, Trumpism in the US, then Le Pen would basically mean that the proud history of Western Democracy would be in its death throes. Well, and third, you're assuming that their rule will last "for a while". That may sometimes be the case, but the more autocratic ones may well be tempted to make their rule permanent, only bolstered by sham elections. And while Trump's incompetence may seem frightening, I find Le Pen's competent rebranding of her fascist party to be, in many ways, even more frightening. ETA: I guess I'll have to be happy about Fillon's political demise. It makes Macron far more likely to reach the second round, which is encouraging.
  4. US Politics: Ask Fox News

    Considering there are four (or five?) presidential candidates as opposed to two, in the US, all with their own kind of baggage, with the top two going to the second round, and the outcome of said second round entirely dependent on who these top two candidates are... yes, it's madness. German election season is exciting too, for a German election in the 21st century so far (Merkel is in more trouble than she's ever been since becoming Chancellor), but it's a case of boring sanity compared to the French clusterfuck.
  5. The dark underbelly of Facebook groups

    Don't you know they're all photoshopped? They are, but that's because geostationary satellites are too close to Earth to take pictures of an entire half.
  6. US Politics: Ask Fox News

    Oh for fuck's sake... Trump apparently thinks Germany will pay money directly to the US instead of us ramping up our defense spending. I guess he'll be up for a rude awakening.
  7. US Politics: Speak Into the Microwave

    Scot, please reread where the socialism discussion started. My point was in reference to that, explaining to you where your insistence that yes, socialism has been abused. (which it has just like any other ideology), that's irrelevant to the fact that socialised healthcare is proven to be compatible with capitalism and democracy, so socialised healthcare really shouldn't cause the "Stalin in disguise!" cries.
  8. US Politics: Speak Into the Microwave

    That's not what I said. What I said was that there are different kinds of socialist policies. Some of them are compatible with a capitalist system (like universal healthcare, pensions systems, social security,...), some of them are required for a capitalist system (socialised police, firefighting and infrastructure) and some of them are incompatible with capitalism (common ownership of the means of production). Some are even incompatible with democracy (e.g., Mao's cultural revolution, Stalin's Gulag system). People are objecting to "Healthcare bad because Stalin bad" because the kind of socialist policy promoted is leaps and bounds away from the socialist policies that made Stalin and Mao moral monsters, and indeed in some sense diametrically opposed to those policies (because universal healthcare and Gulag go so greatly together, after all...)
  9. US Politics: Speak Into the Microwave

    I think it's more of a case of avoiding misrepresentation by reclaiming a label. More to the point, The discussion was started by some poster claiming that universal healthcare (or even the far less ambitious ACA) amounts to socialism and is therefore bad. What people did was to point out that the kind of socialism that promotes these kinds of programs tends to be social democracy (or the slightly more radical democratic socialism), not the totalitarian Leninist or Maoist models that are indeed incompatible with either of modern democracy or capitalism. Indeed,totalitarian dictatorships tend not to promote the health and welfare of all of their people any more, no matter where on the political spectrum they started out. (Cuba seems to be the one reasonably stable dictatorship that still provides those services to a remarkable extent. It's still a dictatorship, which I despise; but it's still better than almost all of the others)
  10. Political power and arms

    Sweden isn't Norway's only neighbor. Think further to the northeast.
  11. Whisk(e)y

    Although I can't afford them too often, I'm usually a Scotch person. However, my neighbor moved out lately and gifted me some Jim Beam liqueurs (Apple and Honey) - not really impressed by either (I mixed the Apple one with Tonic Water after the first attempt at the pure stuff that tasted like pure fake apple flavor. The Tonic version was better, but still tasted fake to me; The honey version gets better grades, but I guess I'm not gonne drink it without a bottle of coke at hand). I am kinda disappointed in my former neighbor's taste in spirits...
  12. U.S. Politics: Russian Around

    Not really, no. Geneva had just recently joined the Confederacy when Calvin became active, so he had little time to investigate the different systems of taxation in Switzerland. Even if he had, though, the Confederacy's cities were not particularly big on downward redistribution of wealth. To take the two most powerful cities of the Confederacy at the time, Berne and Zurich were both different kinds of plutocracy, both trying to emulate the greatness of the North Italian Republics of Venice Genoa and Florence. In Berne, the local aristocracy had a tight hold on power and wealth, exploiting their rural conquests in Vaud and Aargau. Their influence continues to this day: the current mayor of Berne belongs to one of these noble families (Interestingly, Laura Bush is a descendant of the same family). In Zurich, power rested with the trades and crafts guilds, while again, rural farmers bore the brunt of the tax burden. So... no, there were no local examples of downward redistribution of wealth available to Calvin at the time.
  13. Men's rights/issues thread- Grab 'em right by the willy

    No, that's not what Jo supposedly meant. The corresponding German term refers to cases where the husband of the mother is not the biological father of her child, often unknowingly so. Some court rulings over here have posited that these men must pay child support for chilren born during their marriage that aren't biologically theirs, even after a paternity test. It seems to be this what Jo is opposed to (and I admit that ruling seems dubious to me, too)
  14. US Politics: Lock Him Up!

    And you think Comey or wikileaks didn't depress turnout amongst Dem-leaning voters in the Midwest? Like, at all? Because the margins were razor thin.
  15. Corporate, Capital Taxation, And What To Do About It.

    Capital gains are a form of income. In fact, they are the primary form of income of the rich. The're also only available to the rich in meaningful amounts because in order to make enough of a living from capital gains one needs to own a considerable amount of disposable capital to begin with. By setting the capital gains tax at a lower rate than the income tax, we're essentially taxing the middle class (who earn considerable wages but usually do not own millions in savings) at more than twice the rate we're taxing the rich. Which is a major factor in the rise in inequality. I do live in a city. In fact, I've only lived in cities all my life. It's just that most European cities have building codes that limit the height of most buildings... Also, even if we were only to build skyscrapers from now on, while that might increase the amount of habitable space by a factor of 100, there'd still be a hard limit on how high we can build and, consequently, how much real estate we get.
  16. Corporate, Capital Taxation, And What To Do About It.

    No, company shares have their own value even if no dividends ever get paid - particularly in case of corporate mergers and takeovers, when shares are bought above market price by a competitor. But even if not, just owning a small percentage of a company making billions of dollars in revenue makes the stock valuable on its own. Your focus on dividends is largely misguided; in fact, companies that pay large dividends tend not to grow as fast as those that reinvest their gains. Hence, a smart long-term investment strategy is to shun dividends in favor of faster company growth. Why anybody would set the capital gains tax at a lower level than the top income tax level is mindboggling though. It basically guarantees the Buffett outcome (i.e., that employees pay more of their income in taxes than multi-billionaires). If the value of a house increases, likewise, there's more money to be made by selling it. But currently, that increase in value is not taxed at all while regular employees see their income cut by a considerable amount because on top of not profiting from the fruit of their labor (just their labor itself), they also have to pay taxes to a community increasingly beholden to the interest of those who own capital, but who pay far less of their income into the system that made them rich. In other words, it should be generally more profitable to work yourself than to let others work for you, but currently, the reverse is true. One could also exclude real estate from the wealth tax; that's relatively easy to do because in contrast to other kinds of investment, the total amount of real estate in the world (and any single country) is limited by land mass.
  17. US Politics: Everyone's Manipulating Everyone

    One can argue about the fairness of an electoral system if 45% of the vote get you more than 66% of the seats in parliament, enough to change the constitution.
  18. US politics: Donny, you're out of your element

    It would be awfully inconvenient if something happened to these people while in those camps. Famine and disease are totally not to be expected. /sarcasm
  19. US politics: Donny, you're out of your element

    Well, I guess one can have sympathy for Milo's younger self while still despising what he has turned into.
  20. US politics: Donny, you're out of your element

    ... particularly if they're used to concentrate people for purposes of, well, getting rid of...
  21. US politics: Donny, you're out of your element

    Well, if we compare it to Trump's "greatest ever" inauguration attendance, that's a scary riot indeed!
  22. US politics: Donny, you're out of your element

    Thank you, by the way, for expanding on my quickly composed point in far more detail. I appreciated it
  23. UK Politics: Trumpy Cat Trumpy Cat Where Have You Been?

    That's an issue for the small party in coalition governments, usually: you get blamed for the failures of the government far more than the successes, partly because you don't have the prime minister as a leader figure to rally to. In Germany, it's been a similar story for Merkel's coalition partners the last two times around (the SPD had massive losses in '09, and the liberal FDP didn't even get the necessary 5% in '13); and it would probably be the same this time if not for the SPD deciding not to run a current minister as candidate for chancellor, which allows Schulz to run as a de facto opposition candidate. All that being said, it's critical for those smaller parties in a coalition to stick to their core issues. You need to be able to tell the voters that on the core issues you were elected on, you delivered, even if the other issues were decided by your partner. And there, the tuition fees really hurt the Lib Dems (just as the FDP's decision to placate their hotel and pharmacy clientele while allowing surveillance to be expanded made them collapse in '13)
  24. US Politics: Deep State Solution

    And how far was Sandy Hook from a state with lax gun control laws? ...oh, right. There's a proven way to reduce such massacres. Australia did it. But you refuse to consider it.
  25. US Politics: Deep State Solution

    Yes. Second in officially reported rapes. But then, there's various reasons why the numbers in Sweden would be higher than anywhere else, from higer report rates to stricter sexual violence laws (grabbing women by the genitals is classified as rape by Swedish law - so Trump would have to be considered a rapist in Sweden) to every accusation, not conviction, counted in Swedish crime statistics. In other words, by just comparing the official reported rape rates, you're actually comparing apples to oranges.