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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Is Rulon Hurt a Republican or a Democrat?

Is Rulon Hurt a Republican or a Democrat – inquiring minds want to know! Early in Einstein’s Trunk, Rulon and Yohaba have their first political discussion while sitting in Yohaba’s apartment. Since then I have spent many hours eavesdropping on their political conversations and so feel singularly capable of summarizing their viewpoints. Naturally, Yohaba thinks Switzerland has most of the right answers – full employment through a nationwide apprenticeship program, stay out of wars, eliminate corruption, and return most of the tax money back to its citizens in the form of long-term infrastructure development and an adequate safety net for the aged, infirm, and unemployed.  Having lived in Switzerland for almost a third of his life, Rulon tends to agree with her.

But make no mistake, Rulon is a red-blooded, gun toting American through and through. He believes that the American eagle has a right wing and a left wing but the head is in the middle. And that is the reason why he is neither a Republican nor a Democrat! Rulon would love to see a third American party spring up. He thinks both parties have failed America. Both say one thing publicly to get votes from the masses and another thing privately behind closed doors to get money from corporations and the wealthy to finance their campaigns.

To Rulon’s way of thinking, the most important issue in America right now is fixing the campaign finance laws and to somehow overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United decision allowing corporations to give unlimited money to SuperPACs because “corporations are people.” Rulon believes if you fix the campaign finance laws then politicians will be free to fix the country's problems without worrying about offending their corporate donors.

Even though Rulon is a tough guy, he’s a bit of a history buff and, as his father has said, ‘he can see through a brick wall, given enough time.” In other words, he is no fool. He’s sees the corporations in America as not having allegiance to anything except “returning value to the stockholder”, who, by the way, could be from any country in the world. If corporations can make more profits by moving jobs to China, they’ll do it in a heartbeat – then lobby for overseas tax breaks! Rulon believes that if corporations are left unchecked on the path they are headed, America will eventually return to what it was like in the 1800s when the robber barons ruled the land, child labor was in full swing, and factory workers were paid barely living wages. After all, if the world is an open market and capital is free to move anywhere in the world, why should American workers be paid more than Chinese?

Rulon is particularly impressed with Germany which also faced complaints/threats from corporations that they had to move their manufacturing jobs overseas if they were to survive. But the German unions wouldn’t let that happen and instead of being allowed to abandon German workers to chase cheap and easy profits overseas, the German corporations were forced to think of innovative ways to manufacture in Germany while paying the relatively high German salaries. And since they had no choice, they figured it out! In America, on the other hand, corporations were allowed to move American jobs overseas with impunity, keep the profits, and pay less taxes. Everyone won except the American worker. Both parties abetted or fiddled while that was happening, and that is why Rulon has no use for either party.

Next posting will be on the book Master and Commander by Patrick O’Brian and what it taught me about writing novels.

Jim Haberkorn
Zurich

3 comments:

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John Franklin III said...

This is really unique and on the ball stuff! John Franklin

John Franklin III said...

Jim,
This is a very interesting and unique perspective on the value of putting pragmatic policy over politics. American exceptionalism only goes so far. We can easily afford to learn from the world's more successful countries and create a better American quality of life.