Guys. No. Obama's not a socialist. 'Politically to the left of where I personally feel happiest' does not equal 'socialist' any more than 'has more money than I do' equals 'millionaire'. Words have actual meanings, and however strongly you disagree with someone's politics, you are not making pointed criticisms by using terms that don't actually apply. (See also, 'fascist'.)

Also, hearing 'socialist' used as an insult in and of itself reminds me of political debate on the internet c.1998, which was a confusing place to be if you come from somewhere that it's just a descriptive term and was probably equally confusing for the Americans I was arguing with. "What are you, some kind of socialist?" "Well... yeah?"

We own what?

Monday, 13 October 2008 12:36
Government to inject £37 billion into RBS, HBOS and Lloyds TSB, which means that the government will own a 60% stake of the former and a 40% stake of the merged entity made up of the last two. (Meanwhile, Barclays suggests that you can go crying to the teachers if you want to, RBS/HBOS/LloydsTSB, but it's going to earn its own money by begging to investors getting a paper round.) Out of this pseudo-nationalisation, we get... what? I'm confused between:

1) We benefit: the bailout comes with conditions on bank behaviour (mortgage and small business lending rates to be fixed at last year's levels, no more big cash bonuses for senior directors), and if/when the banks recover, the government profits;

2) We lose: this is £37 billion of taxpayer money being used to shore up a system so unstable that this happened in the first place, because if we don't bail them out then we lose even more.

On balance I think I'm in favour of any efforts made to socialise some of the profits as well as the losses. But that's a lot of money.

oh heavens, no

Wednesday, 1 October 2008 22:59
The Tories are totally going to save us, people! David Cameron will get Britain out of the economic crisis! Yay! And they're going to do that by... um... er... well...

Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, Aug 2008: "And before you go whingeing to me about house prices boosted by City bonuses, whatever the disasters of the sub-prime sector, these products allowed millions of Americans to own their own homes..."

John Redwood, co-chairman of the Conservatives' Policy Review Group on Economic Competitiveness, Sep 2008: "It is currently fashionable to argue that because there is a mess in the banking world there needs to be more regulation. We need first of all to ask how this most regulated of industries got into the current difficulty? Why did all the regulation we already have fail to stop the crisis? Indeed, did the regulation itself in some ways allow the crisis or make it worse?"

David Cameron, June 2008: "My job is to make a different argument - and it's this. If we share a vision of a post-bureaucratic world in which business has the freedom to succeed in a low-tax, low-regulation economy, we politicians need your help. We need your help in reducing the demand for government spending, and the demand for regulation."

Sub-prime mortgages good, regulation bad. Yes, I'm sure that'll fix things!

(See: Johann Hari on this being 'no time for Cameronomics'.)

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