Saturday, September 26, 2020

Doug Ford: Stupid or Evil (or Both)?

 

Obviously it's both. I was just moved to comment after reading Owen Gray's recent post. In it he quotes a rabble.ca article from Jason Kunin (a teacher and writer from Toronto) saying that Doug Ford deliberately fouled up the new school year in order to encourage privatization and online learning. 

For the Ford government, it's mission accomplished. The pandemic has been a gift.

In a matter of months, COVID-19 has undermined trust in the public school system, created mass incentive for private school and homeschooling options, and achieved a grudging level of public acceptance for e-learning. The ground has now been cleared for the introduction of U.S.-style privatization reforms, such as vouchers and charter schools. The coming months will tell if this is, in fact, where the government is going.

Ford and his smooth-talking Education Minister Stephen Lecce accomplished all this by never wavering in their goals and by implementing a back-to-school plan so inadequately funded and haphazardly planned that almost a third of Toronto parents felt compelled to protect their kids by pulling them out of in-school learning. Applications to private schools have soared.

By taking only half measures to protect students and school staff, the Ford government let the pandemic do its work for them. Class sizes for elementary grades were kept large, masks for Grades 3 and under were made optional, few additional caretaking staff were hired, minimal funding for PPE or ventilation upgrades was provided, and back-to-school plans were unfurled so late into the summer that boards were left scrambling, and the system was thrown into chaos.

Personally, I just thought that Ford, like most neo-liberal politicians, wants to get through this pandemic with the least amount of deviation from business-as-usual, especially when it comes to cossetting the wealthiest. All this suffering and sacrifice from ordinary people (especially front-line healthcare workers) and all this public money being spent and the banks (who suck up some $40 billion annually in profits) aren't being asked to do more than delay mortgage payments from people who have been told not to work (while being allowed to charge extra interest). 

But Kunin argues convincingly that this chaos suits what Ford and his paymasters wanted done all along. Just as with the repulsive Mike Harris and his shit-head Education Minister (and high-school drop-out) Ed Snoblen, Ford wants to "create a crisis" in education. They create crises so that they can introduce inferior, inegalitarian, for-profit "solutions" offered by their scumbag financiers. 

Ordinarily I wouldn't think Douglas Ford capable of this level of tactics. But then I remembered that he's no doubt got his advisors and there's a whole network of "conservative" "pro-business" vermin working full-time to take away our public services and gouge us with their private-sector alternatives. Which makes Doug Ford even more nauseating and contemptible than I already thought he was.

Also: No need for austerity. While the usual right-wig idiots are talking about the need for austerity in the wake of the $300 + billion deficit for 2020, we must resist this ignorance. And ignorance it is, as Marc Lee at "Policy Note" points out:

Public policy in Canada remains haunted by large deficits that prevailed in the 1980s and early 1990s. With COVID-19 economic response pushing the federal deficit to an estimated $343 billion in 2020/21, some pundits are starting to beat the deficit panic drum again. 

Don’t let big numbers scare you. Here’s why we shouldn’t be worried. 

What really matters is the size of a country’s debt to its economy or GDP. By that standard, even the jump up in federal debt from 31% of GDP in 2019/20 to 49% this year only puts us back where we were in 2000, and nowhere near the 110% of GDP at the end of World War II. 

In other words, we have a long way to go before anyone needs to be concerned. In comparison to other G7 countries, Canada’s debt-to-GDP ratio is the lowest by far. 

Another way of looking at this is the federal government’s debt service costs, currently about 7% of federal revenues, way down from a peak of 38% back in 1990/91.

...

This situation is very different from the 1990s when interest rates were very high, part of a misguided attempt then by the Bank of Canada to bring inflation close to zero, which also plunged the economy into a deep recession. 

Also: Wealthiest Canadians $37 billion wealthier. TAX IT. TAX ALL OF IT. This is a crisis. COVID-19 could, if left unchecked, kill tens of thousands of Canadians and cripple many times more. We all have to do our part. Instead of subsidizing these lazy assholes and allowing them to grow richer we should force them to contribute to the public good for a change.


Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Various Conspiracy Theories


Do you know what would go a long way towards slowing the spread of dangerous conspiracy theories? A mass media system that doesn't lie. Journalists and pundits who are genuinely honest, who operate from a position of morality and integrity, and who are not influenced by money and power to distort what they tell us.

How ridiculous is it? Supposedly when it came to global warming, the media's fixation on "objectivity" is what led them to going to "both sides" of a non-existent scientific debate, giving equal time to global warming deniers and actual scientists, causing the public to believe that the issue was still under dispute in the scientific community. "Objectivity." "Objectivity" gone wrong! It's telling though, that when it comes to reporting on the lead-up to a war, this noble, but wrong-headed commitment to letting "both sides" of an issue have their say disappears. Not only are opponents of war ignored, they're silenced. Proponents of peace in the media can lose their jobs for trying to allow the antiwar side to have a voice.

How sincere is your commitment to a principle (in this case "objectivity") when your adherence to it depends upon the relative wealth and power of the people whose views you choose to communicate?

So right there we see dishonesty and distortion on the part of the media. Most famously there were Saddam Hussein's "Weapons of Mass Destruction." The Bush 43 Administration pushed a false story (among several false stories) about how the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was defying his legal obligations to dismantle his chemical weapons program and was in fact covertly building a nuclear weapons program. And the media credulously reported on this lie and enthusiastically endorsed it. At the very least, in doing this, the corporate media showed themselves to be staggeringly incompetent. At worst, they just showed themselves to be partners in a campaign of deception to advance an imperialist agenda that suits their owners and advertisors. 

The US media consistently distorts reality to defend the parasitical private health insurance industry, portraying medicare for all as unaffordable (when every other industrialized country has it and consequently spends less per capita on healthcare) and normalizing a system that produces hundreds of thousands of household bankruptcies and tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths annually.

In the polarized US political culture, when justifiable disgust with Donald Trump easily mutates into "Trump Derangement Syndrome" there is a tendency to reflexively side with the corporate megaphones of the USA's mainstream news media when Trump attacks them as "enemies of the people." Because that term is used by authoritarians, including murderous totalitarians like Joseph Stalin. But what else should we call a privileged group of professional liars who willfully, deliberately lie their countries into shameful, ruinous, murderous wars, obstruct efforts to provide healthcare for millions of people, and deflect energies away from solving the existential crisis of global warming? If Donald Trump, Joseph Stalin or Pol Pot told me that the sky was blue and that water is wet, I'd agree with them. I'd agree with them without having to agree with anything else they said or did.

The US newsmedia consistently failed in its responsibilities while covering Bernie Sanders' two runs for the Democratic Party's nomination in 2016 and 2020. In the first one they pointedly ignored him except to run brief flurries of smears against him from time-to-time. The second-time they could not justify such behaviour so instead they convicted him of sexism and lying and screamed how if he won his supporters would be executing rich people in Central Park among other stupidities.

Again, the point is that the media lies. This isn't to say that the media doesn't make errors. Occasional errors are one thing. The media willfully distorts in favour of the wealthy and powerful. And, here's the thing: Some of Donald Trump's supporters are NOT among the wealthy and the powerful. (Oh sure, many of them are racist and/or ignorant. But that's not the same thing.) And when the newsmedia blatantly lies and distorts, it demolishes their credibility with the public, including right-wing Trump lovers.

The problem is that neo-liberalism has been destroying people's living standards for forty years (minimum) and people feel under threat. And right-wingers/conservatives feel under threat in the most normal of circumstances. Economic distress and the distortions of the toxic right-wing information bubble (FOX News and their shit-head internet channels) make these cowardly, emotional-mental basket-cases retreat into their own worlds of distortions and witless conspiracy theories.

And make no mistake about it: These people are CRAZY. "Global warming is a hoax." The fact that most places on Earth (including Southern Ontario) have gotten warmer on average (no more "white Christmases") and that the Arctic ice has melted enough to make talk of shipping lanes realistic doesn't matter. It's simply a liberal con-job inspired by hatred of cars and beef and whatever. "'Black Lives Matter' is a terrorist movement funded by George Soros (hint: 'Jews') to sow conflict between US-Americans and undermine public order for reasons too sinister to talk about. The fact that mountains of video evidence and official documents and statistics show that the US justice system is brutally racist doesn't matter. The fact that proponents of this conspiracy theory consciously hate Black and Brown people and see them as inherently criminal doesn't register.

And now we have "COVID-19 is a hoax!" It was simultaneously created by China to kill people and make Donald Trump look bad while also being no more harmful than the ordinary flu. Totalitarian elites are trying to get people to war masks so that pedophiles can kidnap children in broad daylight. But Trump (who admits to ogling teenaged beauty contestants at his pageants and lusted after his teenaged daughter) is trying to stop them. The pandemic is a hoax and the CDC is in on it. The World Health Organization. Every public health authority who endorses it in every country around the world, ... at the national, state/provincial, municipal level, ... they're all in on it. Every hospital worker who says it's real. 

The claim that COVID-19 is a hoax is so titanically stupid and leads to such insane conclusions simply boggles the mind. 

But here's the thing: When liberals and progressives go along with their own conspiracy theories, it only gives the nutbars on the right-wing fuel for their fires. I am speaking of course about "Russiagate." It doesn't matter how much you have allowed yourselves to believe this stupid garbage. It didn't happen. What supposedly did happen is so inconsequential that it's difficult to see what you're so upset about. The holes in the plot are so gaping that the entire edifice is undermined.

So now some asshole on the (lying war-criminal) Robert Mueller's Russiagate investigation says that they didn't pursue Trump as diligently as they could have because they were afraid that he'd shut them down. Of course this Andrew Weissmann fellow is trying to sell a book. How could he sell a book that told the true story that their investigation failed because it was based on bullshit? So he ASSERTS that Mueller's fucking stupid farce of an investigation (issuing subpoenas to Russians who would never be extradited and running for the hills when one Russian actually showed up in court to meet the allegations) 

“Revenge of the oligarchs” might be a good headline for this story.  The IRA indictment initially seemed to be a no-lose proposition for  Mueller. He got to look good in the press, the media got to indulge in yet another round of Russia-bashing, while, best of all, no one had to prove a thing.  “Mueller’s allegations will never be tested in court,” noted Andrew C. McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor turned pundit for the rightwing National Review.  “That makes his indictment more a political statement than a charging instrument.”

Then came the unexpected.  Concord Management hired Reed Smith, a top-flight law firm with offices around the world, and demanded to be heard.  The move was “a real head-scratcher,” one Washington attorney told Buzzfeed, because Concord was beyond the reach of U.S. law and therefore had nothing to fear from an indictment and nothing to gain, apparently, from going to court.  But then the firm demanded to exercise its right of discovery, meaning that it wanted access to Mueller’s immense investigative file.  Blindsided, Mueller’s requested a delay “on the astonishing ground,” according to McCarthy, “that the defendant has not been properly served – notwithstanding that the defendant has shown up in court and asked to be arraigned.”

Prigozhin was forcing the special prosecutor to show what he’s got, McCarthy went on, at zero risk to himself since he was not on U.S. soil.  What was once a no-lose proposition for Mueller was suddenly a no-lose proposition for Putin’s unexpectedly clever cook.

Now Mueller is in an even worse pickle because he’s barred from mentioning a major chunk of his report.  What will he discuss if Democrats succeed in getting him to testify before the House intelligence and judiciary committees next week – the weather?  If his team goes forward with the Concord prosecution, he’ll risk having to turn over sensitive information while involving himself in a legal tangle that could go on for years, all without any conceivable payoff.  If he drops it, the upshot will be a public-relations disaster of the first order. 

As skeptics have pointed out, the IRA’s social-media campaign was both more modest and more ineffectual then the Mueller report’s over-the-top language about a “sweeping and systematic” conspiracy would suggest.  Yet after Facebook Vice President Rob Goldman tweeted that “the majority of the Russian ad spend happened AFTER the election,” he was forced to beg for forgiveness like a defendant in a Moscow show trial for daring to play down the magnitude of the crime.

But it wasn’t Goldman who shaved the truth.  Rather, it was Mueller.  Thanks to the unexpected appearance of Concord Management, he’s now paying the price.

Now, some Russiagate dead-enders are crowing about a stupid Senate report (It's bipartisan so you know it's true!) that provides [redacted] evidence to show that Paul Manafort's Ukrainian client Konstantin Kilimnik was a Russian intelligence agent. GASP! HORRORS! So, perhaps when Manafort was sharing this detailed internal polling information with Kilimnik, it was so the Ukrainian could then send that info to the St. Petersburg troll farm, the Internet Research Agency, and they could then scientifically target the electorate with such game-changing memes as these?



I'll retire to Bedlam. 

Check out the YouTube video that was my last post for a thorough demolition of the Senate report. That interview shows the New York Magazine reporter has a better grasp of what polling information Manafort shows than does Aaron Mate, and a better grasp of what Kilimnik was doing at the US Embassy in Kiev, and it might be disconcerting to hear the interviewer talking much more (and talking over) the interviewee, but in the end, the enormity of what the interviewee doesn't know, and his inability to pushback shows that he definitely needed that talking-to. In the end, Mate argues that Republican Senators joined Democrats in accusing Russia of stuff because they're all servants of imperialism and the military-industrial-complex.

Listen liberals and progressives. I don't care how wedded you are to the Russiagate narrative. It's bullshit and you embarrass yourselves and you weaken your credibility when you cling to it. And the weakness of liberals and the corruption of the US newsmedia only assists right-wing imbeciles when they use your failings to construct their own shit-head realities.

Saturday, September 5, 2020

The US 2020 Election is a Disaster That's Going to End in Blood

 

US elites are so blind to their countries ills that a contest between the obnoxious, ridiculous, fascistic Trump and the doddering imbecile Biden for the presidency of the United States of America seems almost normal to them. It should not. Trump is a career criminal, a racist and a degenerate. He's a travesty of a human being. Biden, meanwhile, is a half-wit, pathological liar (so is Trump!) authoritarian errand-boy for big finance. He's in love with the sound of his voice and doesn't understand that most of what he says is garbage.

Biden helped to build the system of militarized, racist police and of racist mass incarceration during his long career in the Senate. Biden helped to build the structure of permanent austerity for the majority and forever bail-outs for the oligarchy. Biden helped to build the shitty USA that made Trump's Electoral College victory possible.

And for the second time, the Democratic National Committee stole the primaries from Bernie Sanders to give it to a corporate/imperialist stooge, seemingly more worried about a social democrat winning than a nascent fascist.

This is insanity ladies and gentlemen. And it's only going to get more pathetic as these two human abominations begin to "debate" each other. We won't have to imagine it much longer. Soon those two shit-heads will be on the stage babbling incoherent inanities at each other. Neither capable (or desirous) of articulating a positive way forward for the US-American people.

But what of the US-American people? Half of the electorate doesn't vote. They correctly see that the political system has nothing to offer them except which flavour of shit sandwich will poison them. It's entirely possible that there will be TENS OF MILLION of evictions as a result of BOTH PARTIES' corrupt, callous response to the pandemic. Millions will be unemployed, destitute, with no access to health care during a pandemic. 

Meanwhile, Blacks and Latinos are right now (with millions of White allies) in open rebellion against the racist injustice system of the USA. And, in response (and in defense of their racist injustice system) Trump's fascist, shit-head supporters are armed and in the streets against them. The US military (and former servicemen) are a wild-card. Traditionally right-wing, they have turned against both parties. They turned to Trump in 2016 because he made noises about ending the destructive forever wars that liberal imperialists like Obama and Clinton were perpetuating in bipartisan agreement with Bush and Cheney. But Trump really hasn't ended those wars and he's insulted the military on numerous occasions. Minority current and former servicemen are also enraged at the racist injustice system that Trump celebrates (and that Biden created).

Trump is openly sabotaging the US Postal Service and, thereby, the upcoming election, when many people would like to vote by mail due to the pandemic. Greg Palast has already documented how Trump is getting ready to steal the election through other tactics. Trump is openly sewing the seeds of doubt in the integrity of the upcoming election. This is easy to do because US elections are already anti-democratic shams, run by shameless partisan hacks. 

So much filth and stupidity has become normalized in that country. But the overwhelmingly appalling state of the Union has destroyed any possibility of a normal response to a normal political outcome. There are Republicans and Democrats who will be at each others' throats regardless of who wins. And there will be an equal number of non-partisan citizens who have been pushed to the wall. I predict a violent, COVID-19 raging November.

Friday, September 4, 2020

Advocate For Something Positive (and other thoughts)

 


Been reading my usual sources for several months; CommonDreams, CounterPunch, Rabble.Ca, Caitlin Johnstone, Tom Tomorrow, Jacobin, Press Progress, ... etc., etc., and so forth. Most of these sources contain excellent critiques of the rotten system we're all living under, but very few provide a sustained advocacy for anything positive and concrete. And you can search through the later years of this blog and find me saying on more than a few occasions my frustrations with progressive's failures to offer up a positive vision for their societies. Even environmentalism is usually packaged as a condemnation of humanity's/capitalism's crimes against the eco-system. When was the last time you read a celebratory description of an ecologically sustainable society/lifestyle that we could be living in right now if we had a change in our political-economy?

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Two More Books

 Hello Posterity. You might have heard of me. I'm "thwap." A practitioner of the dying hobby of "blogging." In the young childhood of the internet, many people heretofore excluded from the distribution channels of the mass media used the medium of "blogging" to get their ideas out to a potentially worldwide audience. 

They typed essays and articles and diaries and musings. Whole books even. It was "citizen journalism" it was an online "marketplace of ideas." It was fresh and exhilarating an new. It was even impacting the public conversation on politics and policies.

Now of course, the youngsters and other lazy people are limiting themselves to unnuanced blurbs and shallow observations in 145-characters or less (or something, I don't know) on "Twitter." 


The first book I'll tell you about is a university textbook from Cambridge's "New Approaches to European History" series; Jonathan Sperber's The European Revolutions, 1848-1851.


In case you don't know, after some bad harvests (followed by a bumper crop that caused grain prices to plummet) there was social unrest all across Continental Europe. In the spring, in the face of massive urban uprisings, the French constitutional monarchy fell, the Kingdom of the Naples & Sicily, the Kingdom of Prussia, and the Hapsburg Empire were all compelled to accept liberal ministers and call for parliamentary elections within their states' borders. By the end of the year however, reactionary forces regained the upper hand and by 1851, when Napoleon Bonaparte's nephew, Louis Napoleon, recently elected President of the Second Republic declared himself Emperor, it was all over with conservative triumphs across Europe. Both Britain and Russia remained relatively stable, with Britain extending moral support (and little else) to the constitutional monarchists, while Russia intervened diplomatically and militarily on the side of reaction.

Sperber does an excellent job of describing the social structure of Europe in the decades leading up to 1848. He also shows how the ideological importance of the French Revolution of 1789 weighed on the minds of everyone involved; some being inspired by it, others terrified of repeating it. 

Railroads and advanced capitalism were disrupting the economy of Europe the way they'd disrupted Britain a few decades previously. The British ruling class had crushed the working class Chartist movement in their own country and Sperber argues that the uprisings of 1848 were caused by the same social-economic upheavals that had produced Chartism.

Cities had become more important to the running of states by 1848. It was no longer enough for a monarch to have a court that could travel from place to place. Capital cities, at the hubs or transportation and communication networks, as well as finance, had to be controlled to control the 19th Century state. When the barricades went up, most monarchs (impoverished by the Napoleonic wars and the economic turmoil that followed them) lacked the military wherewithal to strike back, hence their capitulation to the early demands of the revolution for constitutional assemblies and elections.

Karl Marx lived through this period. Indeed The Communist Manifesto was written and produced during the revolutions. In Marx's analysis, the liberal revolutionaries were not strong enough to push the feudal social order from power in 1848. Neither were the urban working classes. But the hints of continued class struggles were there for all to see.  Liberal constitutionalists were a small, wealthy minority of commoners. 


Secondly,  I'm reading Robert C. Tucker's The Lenin Anthology:



Lenin writes with a kind of sneering condescension about the ideas of others he disagrees with. But so far I find myself agreeing with him more than I disagree with him. I'm glad I took it off the shelf.

Friday, August 21, 2020

The Squandering of Anglo-American Cultural Hegemony


I was a pretty idealistic person in my youth. Part of that might have come from my Mother's honest Canadian patriotism (which included an acknowledgment of the importance of the First Nations) and her deep, sincere religiosity. If you believe in something, you should genuinely live to reflect your beliefs.

I think that's why as a kid, when World War Two was only thirty years in the past, the idealistic portrayal of the actions of Canada and our two larger allies, Britain and the United States, resonated so much with me. We were the democracies fighting tyranny. We didn't start the war, the Germans did. We fought to liberate other countries and did not take anything for ourselves at the war's end. The film clips of Allied troops liberating Paris and Rome were thrilling. We even treated the Germans (and the Japanese) well afterwards, despite all their war crimes. (As a child, the dropping of the atomic bomb, was just accepted by me as something wise and powerful men had done as part of a war. I accepted it the way I accepted the reality of the existence of nuclear weapons in my own day.)

Here's the way I understood the progress of the war as a child: Germany invaded Poland. Britain and France declared war. (So did Canada.) France was defeated. The Germans bombed London and Churchill vowed that Britain would fight on. The Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour. Then D-Day happened. (There were battles in the Pacific between the American and Japanese navies and the British were fighting the Japanese in the Burmese jungles. The Japanese treated Allied prisoners terribly.) Germany was defeated and the concentration camps were discovered and the survivors were rescued. Allied troops liberated conquered cities to cheering crowds throwing flowers. Then the USA rebuilt Europe out of the goodness of their hearts. (You can see the impact of propaganda here in the absence of the enormous contribution of the Soviet Union and of the story of the massive suffering of the Chinese.)

That's the impression I had as a youngster and it didn't really get replaced with anything approaching a more nuanced reality for almost two decades. It just gradually faded from my mind as I became a narcissistic teenager. But it subconsciously continued to form my perception of the role of what Churchill called "The English-Speaking Peoples" or "Anglo-America." We were victorious democracies. We were liberators. We tried to help other people. (Sometimes the people we tried to help resisted us out of confusion or because of the malevolence of their rulers.)

I gradually acknowledged that we'd made mistakes in the past. By the 1970's I was aware that the USA had stolen the lands of the First Nations there. And that there had been slavery. (I thought Canada's history had been inexplicably far more peaceful. That we'd never had slavery and that we'd signed treaties with all "our" First Nations.) Britain had built an empire through conquest and had ruled people without their consent. (As a Canadian I sided with the British in the story of the American Revolution. The colonists didn't have it so bad. But what was done was done. We're all friends again.) The important thing was that all these bad things had happened in the long-ago past and the past was a different world. Most civilizations conquered others and enslaved people in the past. Black people were free now. (Racists were a minority and they were on their way out.) Both Canada and the USA were trying now to help their Indigenous Peoples to overcome the damages done in the past. Britain had peacefully given up its empire and we were all friends now in the British Commonwealth.

And everybody in the world wanted what we had, materially and culturally. Rock and Roll was an American phenomenon (and the contribution to it from Black people was a sign of their growing acceptance in American culture and the decline of racism). Rock and Roll as embraced by young people the world over. Aside from Black people in the USA, British people were (for some reason) better at it than Americans were! Hollywood films dominated the world. American television shows dominated the world. (Though, as a Canadian, I knew that if you wanted more clever television, there were British television shows that you could watch. Also, Canada had some pretty good Rock and Roll bands, SCTV was great, and many Canadians had gone to Hollywood and gotten successful and famous. Plus we had some famous doctors.)

People everywhere wanted our standard of living. (From what I could see, from Southern Ontario at least, the Canadian and US standards of living were the same.) The poor, oppressed people in the Soviet Union wanted Anglo-American culture and American blue jeans and running shoes. People came from all over the world to try to share in "The American Dream." (They came to Canada too. But one didn't speak of a "Canadian Dream" for some reason. Modesty maybe.)

In all honesty, I didn't know much about Australia. I just knew that it had English-speaking people too who shared a similar standard of living with us and that they also had kangaroos, koalas, Tasmanian devils, baby-snatching dingoes, and Aborigines who lived in the dry, dusty "Outback."

The thing was, there was some truth to this whole childish vision. We did have a high standard of living that had gotten better (by conventional measurements) with each succeeding generation.  And immigrants did come from all over to have a share of it. (And we welcomed them. My Dad's grandparents had been immigrants after all. (My Mom's family had been in the Maritime Provinces since forever as far as I was concerned.) Both my parents were good people. Anti-racist. My Dad liked to listen to the Blues and also Black radio stations from Buffalo, New York. There were people trying to repair the ill-effects of our racist and otherwise problematic histories.  "Our" movies, films, music, writers, were admired the world over. We had been the liberators in WW2. And the USA was the richest, most powerful country the world had ever seen.

But that time has clearly past. The standard of living of the average US-American went from being first in the world to outside of the top-ten. The British have been a nation in permanent decline since 1945 and the process is accelerating. Our economies have suffered from a process of financialization that has concentrated wealth in the hands of a small coterie of criminal parasites. Politically we suffer from being societies that have believe our own lies about ourselves for too long. More to the point, our oligarchies have been resorting to pandering to the most debased (racist, sexist, authoritarian right-wing bullies/cowards) to be their shock-troops against the inevitable reactions to their depredations. 

This is why we have Boris Johnson in the UK and Donald Trump in the USA. And the mainstream "opposition" to these boors are neo-liberal scumbags like the Clintons, Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. Canada vomited up Stephen Harper but we're currently under the neo-liberal scumbag Liberal Party. The massive failures of Trump and Boris Johnson, together with the undeniable economic decline caused by slavish devotion to the demands of the financial sector have made those two countries international laughing-stocks. Their culture of corporate-friendly mythology exposes the hypocrisy and shallowness of it all. As I said, Anglo-Americans have been allowed to believe in their own self-serving lies about themselves for far too long and this current sorry state is the result of that.