PLS 200-05

*** NOTES COPIED FROM ZACH HOLLER ***

PLS200
Fri, May 16, 2008

Instructor: There was a question about the government putting oil in strategic reserve. For national security reasons, the US keeps a reserve of oil to use for military and other emergencies. The level of that reserve is decided on by each administration. When that level is reached, we don’t transfer anymore oil into that reserve. When the reserve is low, when they have to use it for some reason, the government decides to buy more. It pulls oil available to the general market away. If they’re not buying it off the open market, demand shrinks just a little bit. All it means is that they’re either buying from the market or not. I’m not sure what they’re deciding on now. It affects availability.

Male Student: Right now Bush is overseas talking… (Cannot hear him/her.) What can he do with OPEC?

Instructor: Good question. That is the oil producing exporting countries. It’s a business organization. Saudi is one of the largest in that group. Bush is asking them to produce more or lower price. The Saudi’s said they don’t see a reason to do that. Can he directly affect them by putting demands on them? Not really. We have other means to negotiate. He’ll use whatever options he has available, but if Saudi says they won’t change anything, there isn’t really anything we can do.

Male Student: (Cannot hear him/her.) In Venezuela, we demonize Chavez, for his communist point of views.

Instructor: He has moved to a more Marxist orientation and has made himself very unpopular in America. He is stripping the free market economy. He has taken conscious steps to change his government and economy, and that doesn’t align with our ideas. Both governments are now taking steps to distance the two countries. Chavez has an ideology that doesn’t jive with ours. I don’t know how much open discussion we can have that would be productive.

I want to go over some political party issue stuff today and why none of today’s candidates don’t represent any stark differences. Some say they all sound the same, and they do, and they must. How many parties do we have now?

Male Student: Infinite.

Instructor: Be real.

Female Student: Ten.

Instructor: Probably several dozen. Maybe forty or fifty. You really only hear about republicans and democrats, although you do hear about some independent parties sometimes. You may hear about the green party or some others. Let me give you an idea of some parties that are out there. (PowerPoint slides)

The Democratic Party is by far the largest. They represent the more liberal ideology. They are for the working class. It has moved toward more of the left center. There are a few variations, like Euro style, which Clinton embraces. He has some traditional liberals, Joe Lieberman was one, but now says he is independent. A lot of southern democrats are more center right. There is a wide range.

Female Student: What would a conservative democrat believe?

Instructor: They are very strong on defense and they typically balance social welfare programs with national security. The others put less emphasis on national defense and put more into social welfare stuff. You’ll also see traditional democrats put more emphasis on government and not private enterprise.

The Republican Party is to the right of center and focus on business, defense, national security, and the like. Bush is considered a neo-conservative which is a little more to the right. Other groups within the party is the Christian Coalition, the moderate wing which is more on the West coast. Libertarians are sometimes grouped with conservatives. They sometimes join the Republican Party because of the structure, even though they differ in a few areas. They want secure boarders, solvent money, and less government involvement. Libertarians will say that as long as no one is harming anyone else, then just leave them alone. Libertarians try not to worry about other countries and focus on ourselves. They have a hard time answering questions about terrorism. Don’t worry about the Paleo-conservative wing that is kind of like a throwback.

Some of these other parties I’m sure you’ve never heard of. Just know the big picture on these. There is the America First Party which is viewed as the conservative right. These parties have a tighter focus on certain issues. You don’t see a lot of discussion on defense or social welfare. They had some candidates lately, but are rebuilding right now. They are significant enough to be ranked among parties.

The American Party is narrowly focused, pro-life, pro-gun, and anti-tax. This is very different from the Democratic Party. They want to get rid of the EPA, they want anti-trade. These guys advocate securing boarders and taking care of ourselves. You don’t see any variation in this platform. Notice the symbol on the screen.

Male Student: Do we need to know specifics?

Instructor: No, just get a feel for the different parties out there.

This next one is the American Independent Party. They are very conservative and are far on the right side. They are anti-Washington, anti-racial integration, and anti-communist. They do not want to see a desegregated society. They think races should be separated in terms of policy. Other questions?

There is the American Nazi Party, which is alive and well. They are Pro Aryan Nation, anti-Jewish and non-white. They blend left winning economic socialism with right winning social fascism with strong totalitarian sentiments. It’s very odd. They do have candidates at the state level in almost each election but I don’t know if they’re ever fielded anyone on the national level.

Female Student: Is this in Ohio?

Instructor: They are probably in each state, but you’d have to look it up.

The American Reform Party began in the middle then realized they weren’t getting any traction so they moved to the far right. They’re focused on the environment and economics. They’re pro-green. They’ve had state level candidates but I don’t know if they’ve had any success on the national level lately.

There is the Christian Falangist Party of America. They’re on the right, conservative, and dedicated to fighting the forces of darkness.

Female Student: Will this PowerPoint be up anywhere?

Instructor: You can look all this up online and find all kinds of links.

There is the Communist Party USA which is for universal healthcare, large public works, and free college. They don’t account for who is funding all of this. What happens when you put massive income taxes on people? They stop making profits and running businesses. This is sort of a self defeating ideology. It’s clearly Marxist in its ideology. It’s not too successful but there is one Congressman in the northeast who was in this party in earlier days. Don’t worry about who he is, but there are folks out there who believe this.

There are the Democrat Socialists of America. They are left wing socialists… (Cannot hear him/her.)

There is the Family Values Party. They are ultra conservative and right wing. They say to stop paying taxes until abortion ends.

There is the Green Party focused on the environment. They are leftists and derived from the European Green Party. Ralph Nadar is a presidential candidate again this year, but maybe not as influential. No one seems worried about him splitting the vote again.

There are Libertarians. They are neither left nor right. There are a few variations with individual focus. They say there is no need for social welfare and that type of stuff. Ron Paul is a candidate, and he says he’s still running, but doesn’t really campaign that much.

(Showing Chart on Screen) On the left you have the World Socialist Action and other socialist parties. There are some interesting parties, which is the US Marijuana Party and the Pansexual Peace Party. On the right you have the American Patriots, Libertarian National Socialist Green Party. That last one is kind of an environmentally friendly fascist, if you can imagine that. The Republicans and Democrats would sit in the middle here.

Don’t feel like you have no home if you don’t agree with the main parties. You see all the options you have here. Questions on this? Why do these parties exist?

Male Student: Because people didn’t find homes before?

Instructor: Right, they don’t feel they’re represented by the national organizations. They come about because there is demand for them. They decide they’re not represented so they do something different.

Female Student: What is the pansexual party?

Instructor: They focus on sexual revolution that came out of the 1960s.

Male Student: What is the Marijuana party about?

Instructor: Do you have to ask? They want it legal, free access, etc.

Male Student: I feel represented now!

Instructor: Let’s talk about the election now. Who’s on the far left? Communists, then Democratic Socialists… The anarchists’ kind of sit in different spots on the spectrum. The general electorates in this country, those who vote, kind of have a normal distribution. Somewhere around 70% identify themselves as being centrists on their ideologies. That accounts for the vast majority of you and I. Less than 5% on the far end of each side, which are those who make up the extreme left and right. If you’re running for presidency, where do you position yourself? In the center. Candidates generally start out by aligning themselves in the center. Everyone stands up and says they’re looking out for the American dream. They want to cure death and sickness, end poverty, end wars, and so on. The political parties themselves create the position on the issues by aligning themselves with the majority of party membership. The parties, when they sit down and craft the platform they pull the candidate a little farther from the center. The candidate becomes centered by the demands of the party itself. You begin to see some subtle difference between the candidates.

Republicans look at defense, business, and economics. The Democrats look more at social welfare, poverty, and labor. When one candidate moves farther to the left or right, what happens to the vote? It starts to decline. How far to the right or left can you go without sacrificing the votes you need to get elected? Do you worry about the fringe on the left and right? Is there a chance that the hard right will ever vote for socialists? No. So they count on those 5% or so on their end for sure. So you’re really only concerned with this group (on board). When the Democrats move toward the left, it allows the competition to move toward the left also. That center line begins to drift.

Ideally a Republican, for example, would want to get as close to this line as possible while maintaining the people to the right. The Democrat wants to do the same in the other direction. As they move to the right, it allows the Democratic candidate to move to the right and start to approach to this line. Ultimately, as they do this back and forth, they align themselves closer to each other. So how radically different can they be? That’s why there is almost no difference when you get to the general election. Think of what we look at: tax, social security, Iraq, immigration, gun control, abortion, and healthcare. There are a few major issues out there. When you get close to the election, within 30 days or so, it’s hard to distinguish between the candidates. They’re all trying to appeal to this center part of the voting public. That’s why people say that it doesn’t make a difference, that nothing will change. It’s a slow process. They all want to appeal to you. There are 80 of us in this class and we each have a different idea of what is right. Each candidate will claim that they can take care of that. They try to appeal to you and your vote. Questions? Does it make sense?

For Monday I want to introduce the economic stuff and talk about the Federal Reserve, fiscal policy, and also look at the candidate’s position in these major areas about. So your homework for Monday is to identify the three major candidates and find their place on these major areas: tax, Iraq, social security, immigration, healthcare, gun control, abortion, and trade.

Male Student: We have problems with men getting on the Internet and trying to attract 14 year old girls… What kind of crime is that? Is that a computer crime?

Instructor: Computer crime, pedophilia, and probably a host of other crimes.

Male Student: Sounds like a combination.

Instructor: Oh yeah. If it’s over state lines it involves different jurisdictions, it could be a federal crime because of the phone lines and things.

Male Student: What’s the difference between…? (Cannot hear him/her.)

Instructor: If I understand your question right, it’s about access. It’s about using money to gain access.

Male Student: What I’m thinking of is like, maybe I’m thinking of a bribe. If a company pays a politician to support them…

Instructor: Yeah, that’s a bribe.

Male Student: Is that similar to influence pedaling?

Instructor: It may be broadly categorized as that.

Male Student: I get it. That’s it.

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