Tag: learn

What Trump could learn from French history

Let me explain: I was born and raised in Paris, France and on the eve of the 2016 US presidential election, I relocated with my family to the southern state of Georgia for CNN International.

We were still unpacking our suitcases on election night, when the polls sent then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton home and Republican nominee Donald Trump to the White House. And I had barely gotten behind the anchor desk by the time Trump spoke of “American carnage” in his inaugural address, setting the tone for his presidency.

In the years that followed, I had a front row seat as Trump took a wrecking ball to presidential norms. As I watched the endless presidential transgressions, unrelenting media coverage, and bitterness on both sides of the political divide, it started to feel… familiar.

It reminded me of France a decade earlier, where then-French President Nicolas Sarkozy had reveled in incensing liberals, dominating the headlines, and borrowing from the lexicon of the far-right.

To say the norms of presidential behavior were broken during his first term would be an understatement. Highlights of Sarkozy’s colorful conduct as president include him telling a hostile bystander, “get lost, asshole!” and egging a heckling fisherman to “come down and say it!” His post-election holiday on the private yacht of a French billionaire — a no-no in French politics — was never quite forgiven. And his controversial push to strip French nationality from foreign-born citizens who committed grave crimes never made it past parliament.

Of course, he is not Trump. Sarkozy is a conservative career politician who knew the affairs of state inside out. He didn’t make a habit of insulting political opponents, promote conspiracy theories, or alienate France’s closest allies. And he was chummy with US Democrats: In 2008, he embraced Barack Obama, then a senator vying for the Democratic nomination, in Paris; in 2016, he favored Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
Sarkozy even tried to pump the brakes midway through his presidency. Following a rout in regional elections and a waning popularity, he softened his tone — to “presidentialize himself” as the French press described it. More in control, less erratic, less confrontational. “We need authenticity, not histrionics. I must be minimalist,” Sarkozy told French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche, a year before his reelection bid.

But it was too late. And this is where the parallels matter most: After Sarkozy’s million-miles-an-hour presidency, France — like America now — was running on fumes. The country was exhausted. For many voters, the passions unleashed, the acrimony, the national soul-searching hadn’t been sustainable.

And Sarkozy’s raucous re-election campaign, like Trump’s today, did nothing to suggest a second term might offer something different. When your brand is firebrand, it’s hard to slow down. On all his signature issues, Sarkozy leaned in: Naked appeals to the far-right, a pledge to halve the flow of immigration because there were “too many foreigners in our country,” attacks on the media and diatribes against vague “intermediary bodies” impeding his government’s

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Will the Morrison government learn from its Covid success or return to trickle-down economics?

Reality constantly reminds us that the biggest risk the pandemic poses is to those who think it is less than it seems. From the White House to the safe house, this is a virus that locks on to system weakness and exploits individual arrogance.



Scott Morrison wearing a suit and tie: Photograph: Mick Tsikas/EPA


© Provided by The Guardian
Photograph: Mick Tsikas/EPA

The US presidential race is paralysed because one of the candidates believed he had the power to wish it away and let freedom reign, while countries like Sweden that chose to let it run are paying a higher economic cost than those whose governments swung into action.

Closer to home, Victorians have been living the repercussions of the previously unchallenged orthodoxies that you can outsource public safety and transform the care for our oldest and most vulnerable from a public service into a market.

Related: Essential poll: tax cuts brought forward but only 25% of voters think budget will benefit them

It’s as if the virus is engaging in a real-time critique of the free market ideology that decrees big government is bad, taxes are a burden, caring for others is counterproductive and the market will always determine the best course of action.

As Kurt Anderson has outlined in his excellent new book Evil Geniuses, these assumptions lie at the heart of a political model ruthlessly promoted for the past 50 years by an organised cabal of wealthy industrialists, libertarians and the “useful idiots” they seconded to their cause.



Scott Morrison wearing a suit and tie looking at the camera: ‘The levers the government is pulling seem geared to getting the economy back to where it was before the current crisis hit.’


© Photograph: Mick Tsikas/EPA
‘The levers the government is pulling seem geared to getting the economy back to where it was before the current crisis hit.’

Now, as the world thinks through a recovery to the pandemic’s shock, the Friedman model of trickle-down economics, deregulation and rabid individualism is finally coming under scrutiny.

This context takes centre stage as the Morrison government releases its delayed budget later on Tuesday. Like so much of what this government does, the plan has been broken into so many pre-packaged announce-ables that it’s hard to see a bigger picture. But there is one.

While there is no hiding the fact that the prematurely celebrated budget surplus is history, the levers the government is pulling seem geared to getting the economy back to where it was before the crisis hit. It’s business as usual with a deferred payment plan.

Related: Budget 2020: Coalition hopes to drag Australia out of recession with tax cuts and big spending

We caught this thinking in the government’s initial response to the forced lockdown: incentives for small businesses to invest in expansion when all they were thinking about was survival; incentives for home renovations when a new pagoda is the last thing on anyone’s mind.

These were textbook Freidman-inspired attempts to bookkeep our way through a downturn, giving business and individuals financial incentives to do things that were against their disposition. Unsurprisingly, they were undersubscribed and fell flat.

It wasn’t until the crisis prompted the government to put money directly into the pockets of those most vulnerable that the

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Will Morrison government learn from its Covid success or return to trickle-down economics? | Peter Lewis | Opinion

Reality constantly reminds us that the biggest risk the pandemic poses is to those who think it is less than it seems. From the White House to the safe house, this is a virus that locks on to system weakness and exploits individual arrogance.

The US presidential race is paralysed because one of the candidates believed he had the power to wish it away and let freedom reign, while countries like Sweden that chose to let it run are paying a higher economic cost than those whose governments swung into action.

Closer to home, Victorians have been living the repercussions of the previously unchallenged orthodoxies that you can outsource public safety and transform the care for our oldest and most vulnerable from a public service into a market.

It’s as if the virus is engaging in a real-time critique of the free market ideology that decrees big government is bad, taxes are a burden, caring for others is counterproductive and the market will always determine the best course of action.

As Kurt Anderson has outlined in his excellent new book Evil Geniuses, these assumptions lie at the heart of a political model ruthlessly promoted for the past 50 years by an organised cabal of wealthy industrialists, libertarians and the “useful idiots” they seconded to their cause.

Now, as the world thinks through a recovery to the pandemic’s shock, the Friedman model of trickle-down economics, deregulation and rabid individualism is finally coming under scrutiny.

This context takes centre stage as the Morrison government releases its delayed budget later on Tuesday. Like so much of what this government does, the plan has been broken into so many pre-packaged announce-ables that it’s hard to see a bigger picture. But there is one.

While there is no hiding the fact that the prematurely celebrated budget surplus is history, the levers the government is pulling seem geared to getting the economy back to where it was before the crisis hit. It’s business as usual with a deferred payment plan.

We caught this thinking in the government’s initial response to the forced lockdown: incentives for small businesses to invest in expansion when all they were thinking about was survival; incentives for home renovations when a new pagoda is the last thing on anyone’s mind.

These were textbook Freidman-inspired attempts to bookkeep our way through a downturn, giving business and individuals financial incentives to do things that were against their disposition. Unsurprisingly, they were undersubscribed and fell flat.

It wasn’t until the crisis prompted the government to put money directly into the pockets of those most vulnerable that the strategy began to work. Doubling unemployment support and providing struggling businesses with a Keynesian lifeline may have been anathema, but it got money circulating in a shocked economy.

The big question for today’s budget is: can the government can learn from these successes? Early indications suggest not.

The choices the government is making speak to a desire to go back to the way things were. Tax cuts

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