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Generational Dynamics Web Log for 29-Oct-2013
29-Oct-13 World View -- New Zealand and U.S. resume military cooperation

Web Log - October, 2013

29-Oct-13 World View -- New Zealand and U.S. resume military cooperation

Robert Reich: Obamacare is Nixon's health care plan

This morning's key headlines from

New Zealand and U.S. resume military cooperation

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel receives a rugby jersey from New Zealand Defense Minister Jonathan Coleman on Monday
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel receives a rugby jersey from New Zealand Defense Minister Jonathan Coleman on Monday

America and New Zealand announced a resumption of military-to-military contacts for the first time since 1986, when Washington ordered a military embargo after New Zealand banned all nuclear-armed or nuclear-powered submarines from entering its waters. The ANZUS (Australia, New Zealand, U.S.) mutual defense treaty that was signed in the wake of World War II was partially suspended in 1984, leading to the embargo. The change in policy is part of the announced plans by the Obama administration to "pivot" to the Asia Pacific. Next year, a New Zealand ship will be permitted to dock at Pearl Harbor for the first time since 1986. However, none of the announcements or press conference transcripts indicated whether New Zealand is going to change its policies, and permit nuclear-armed or nuclear-powered submarines from entering its waters. Dept. of Defense and Australian Broadcasting

Israel to release 26 Palestinian prisoners

On Tuesday evening, Israel will release 26 Palestinian prisoners who have been in jail since prior to the 1993 Oslo Accords. The prisoners are being released in conjunction with the current "peace talks" going on between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators. In order to keep the Palestinians from walking out of the talks, Israel agreed to release a few dozen prisoners every two months. Tuesday will be the second of four planned releases. Thousands of Israelis are protesting the release, because almost all of the prisoners were convicted of kidnapping, lynching or murdering Israelis, or torturing and executing suspected Palestinian collaborators. Palestinian officials argue that they should have been released long ago (as part of the Sept. 4, 1999, Sharm el-Sheikh agreement), and add that the released prisoners will be given a heroes welcome when they return home. Jerusalem Post and Al Monitor

Robert Reich: Obamacare is Nixon's health care plan

Left-wing political economist Robert Reich is saying that the Obamacare health plan is the same as the plan advocated by president Richard Nixon:

"In February 1974, Republican President Richard Nixon proposed, in essence, today's Affordable Care Act. Under Nixon's plan all but the smallest employers would provide insurance to their workers or pay a penalty, an expanded Medicaid-type program would insure the poor, and subsidies would be provided to low-income individuals and small employers. Sound familiar?"

This is a startling revelation, but in a sense it's not surprising at all. Nixon's wage-price controls were exactly the kind of "liberal, progressive" program that Robert Reich would love, and yet they were an absolute disaster for the U.S. economy. As I've written many times since 2009, Obamacare is a repeat of Nixon's wage-price controls (see, for example, "5-Jul-13 World View -- Eurozone and Obamacare continue their parallel economic collapse".)

In his quote above, Robert Reich referred to the date February, 1974. I've previously referred to William N. Walker's history of Nixon's wage-price controls. According to Walker, here's what happened in February, 1974:

"This bitter legacy -- shortages of gasoline, heating oil, red meat, soybeans and numerous other products -- together with ruinous price increases, finally discredited price controls in the eyes of the American people. By February 1974, when Dunlop appeared before the Senate Banking Committee, there were sixty Amendments proposed to the Economic Stabilization Act aimed at providing relief from controls to one segment of the economy or another. Dunlop told the Committee that the Administration did not favor continuing price controls after April 30 1974, except in the health care industry (and except in petroleum where authority to administer price controls and allocation regulations had been transferred to the Federal Energy Office in early January 1974). In the end, the Congress simply allowed the Economic Stabilization Act to expire on April 30, 1974. Thus, the only peacetime experiment with direct economic controls in U.S. history came to an inglorious end."

So Nixon's wage-price controls were coming apart at the seams in February, 1974, just as Obamacare is coming apart at the seams today. If Reich is correct, and Nixon was pushing an Obamacare-like program at that time, it was probably a last desperate attempt to preserve his legacy, at a time when his economic policy was facing disaster, and he was facing Watergate.

President Obama is almost identical to President Nixon. Like Nixon, Obama uses the IRS to punish political enemies, he threatens the press with retribution, and now, according to Reich, he's even pushing Nixon's health care program. Huffington Post and CBS News and Daily Caller

Venezuela creates a Ministry for Supreme Social Happiness

Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro, the hand-picked successor to the late Hugo Chávez, has announced the Venezuela will create a Vice-Ministry for the Supreme Social Happiness, to coordinate all the "mission" programs created by the Chávez before his death to alleviate poverty. As we described last month in "26-Sep-13 World View -- Venezuela's economy approaches full-scale hyperinflation", the country is plagued by shortages of everything from milk and cooking oil to toothpaste and toilet paper. After Maduro's new announcement, a Caracas fruit vendor was quoted as saying he wants Maduro to create a vice ministry of beer, saying, "That would make me, and all the drunks, happy." However, a Venezuelan official says that "What [the critics] demonstrate is stupidity and bad intention," and added that the name of the new ministry is related to Venezuela's liberator, Simón Bolivar. AP and Venezuelanalysis

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 29-Oct-13 World View -- New Zealand and U.S. resume military cooperation thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (29-Oct-2013) Permanent Link
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