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Rediscovering the Great British Republican Tradition


For a Civic and Constitutional Republic


Issue No 53 Friday 25 December 2009




This week 

·        Obama has already forced the AMERICAN GOVERNMENT into Wall Street Debt Slavery. Now he plans the same for the AMERICAN PEOPLE. 

·        University "blue sky" thinking under threat as research to be judged only on "social or economic impact". 

·         Republican Party Meeting in London in the New Year



News Stories

Highlighting news stories important to the Civic Republican view, particularly those that are overlooked or little covered in the main media.





·        Obama has already forced the AMERICAN GOVERNMENT into Wall Street Debt Slavery.

Now he plans the same for the AMERICAN PEOPLE.


President Barack Obama is nearing the end of his first year in office. He was elected just over a year ago on a wave of optimism and the promise of “change”. Most people are still in the sway of that moment on that bright day in February 2009 when he was inaugurated. We may have had some doubts about some of his judgments but, if we have, we tend to give him the benefit of those doubts. We want him to be a good president. He still seems sincere. He seems to be in control. We have warmly taken to his family. He was given the Nobel Peace Prize of 2009.




But his record starts to tell a different story. We have seen him plan a greater commitment to the intractable war in Afghanistan. We have seen him kowtow to Wall Street delivering them tax payers' money while they binge anew on bonuses. He totally mishandled the Chinese at the Copenhagen Conference on climate change. And … and there is his health care bill.

On this last issue many in Britain may feel the issues concerning it are a little cloudy. We don’t quite follow the complicated passage of a major bill through the House of Representative and the Senate and we don’t understand the overall American attitude to healthcare for it seems so different to our own here in Europe. It seems even callous to us. Clearly what is acceptable in the USA would be often straightforwardly unthinkable here.

If it wasn’t for his determination to see a change in healthcare in his country many would have started to write him off as another George W. already. But surely his concern for the health of the nation particularly the poor and uninsured redeems him. Unfortunately we are doing here what we always do with Obama – giving him the benefit of the doubt, without looking too closely. Once we start to do this we find that his healthcare bill, whilst being dressed up in nice-seeming language, is a disaster waiting to happen. At the bill’s core a principle has been enshrined that has lit a fuse. We don’t know at this stage how fast or slow burning that fuse is. But the end result is going to be the same. This bill is programmed to explode and when it does it will weaken and perhaps destroy an already suspect presidency.

The New York Times reported on Christmas Day

“The Senate voted Thursday [Christmas Eve] to reinvent the nation’s health care system, passing a bill to guarantee access to health insurance for tens of millions of Americans and to rein in health costs. If a deal can be struck, as seems likely, the resulting law would vastly expand the role and responsibilities of the federal government. It would, as lawmakers said repeatedly in the debate, touch the lives of nearly all Americans. The bill would require most Americans  … have a minimum level of health insurance or else pay a penalty.

The sting is in this last sentence. If the Bill is finally passed then private insurance will be compulsory. Let us be clear what this bill is not. It is not promoting European style healthcare where the state effectively provides health insurance to a certain minimum standard and does it across the board for everyone, that is, 100% of the population,. The state under the Obama bill does have a role and the exact details of this role are still to be thrashed out when the bill goes back to the House but the principle is clear. Most Americans, and certainly all under 55, will be forced into the hands of insurance companies (for that read Wall Street) to take health insurance.




Imagine that in Britain there were no National Health Service but in its place there was a law compelling you to take out health insurance with Aviva, Bupa, and the like. It is not that this is just a bad idea, it is much more than that. The Obama law is a law that delivers every man woman and child into the clutches of corporate finance for one of the absolute fundamentals of modern life – reliable health care. It is little wonder that the insurance companies in the USA have gained substantially in value on the stock market.

America claims to be a democratic society. Now for Americans “democracy” means also a “liberal” (in the British sense of the word) society in which everyone has freedom to make their own choices. But this bill is a direct violation of the liberal principle with its compulsory, yes compulsory, insurance.

It has been argued that we already have compulsory insurance with private finance for motoring. But there is a fundamental difference. No one has to drive. But we all have to live. Anyone who wants to live, which is most of us, under the Obama law, will be forced, on pain of fine and ultimately imprisonment, to take private health insurance.

It has been argued that in Britain we have compulsory health insurance because we pay taxes and receive the NHS health insurance in return. But that is a government scheme that is run ultimately by people who are democratically accountable. That is quite different from an obligation to take out a contract with international corporations which are a law unto themselves

This obligation is said by its advocates to be softened and made acceptable by virtue of the fact that insurance providers will have no right to refuse people on the grounds of previous conditions, or because they have made a claim in the past. Everyone will be treated the same, no questions asked. That sounds fine and in fact this should be the basis on all health insurance (as it is currently in France, but not in the UK).

But there is a snag. There is absolutely no constraint on the insurance companies charging whatever they want in premiums. OK, the premiums will have to be the same for a healthy person as for a sick person, but the level can be whatever the companies decide. Ah, but, it is argued, they will be in competition with each other and so premiums will be kept low. This argument is not just optimistic, it displays an absolute ignorance about the operation of corporate finance (not just in the USA but in all western economies) – an optimism that is unforgiveable in the years following the obscene excesses we saw in the noughties.

We have to understand that thanks to the freedom that has been given to corporate finance: insurance, commercial banking, investment banking, mortgage provision and unregulated practices like hedge funds, are all conflated together.

In addition these corporations more and more no longer represent external clients but rather they represent themselves speculating with their own massive reserves, manipulating the markets and punishing smaller investors. The pretence of separation within corporations of their different activities (so-called “Chinese walls”) has long been dropped and the proceeds and losses of all of these fields swirl around together and zap from continent to continent, footloose and free. The word “bank” no longer describes the activities of these companies and so, for instance, Barclays Bank has become simply Barclays and everyone is encouraged to forget what the initials HSBC actually stood for (the B did stand for “bank” at one time).




The sums of money traded by global finance corporations are so huge that their reserves dwarf those in the real economy of production. Inland revenues services are at a loss in imposing proper taxation on these leviathans but when they go bankrupt it is to the normal tax payers that they turn to pick up the mess. Because of their “leveraged” activities and their artificial financial instruments like “derivatives” their losses bear no relation to the real working economy and so their debts are too gargantuan even for the government of a developed nation to absorb.

It is against this background that we need to understand the full meaning of the Obama healthcare plan. Obama is making it compulsory for every American of working age to look to the world of corporate finance in order to seek protection against the vicissitudes of illness and accident that can befall the lives of them and their families. No wonder Wall Street loves Obama. Not only has he bailed out their excesses after corporate failure and given the green light to the continuation of insane bonuses paid to financial directors, not only has he failed to introduce effective new financial regulation, not only has he allowed financial corporations to use their substantial funds to speculate on and “short” the American currency, but he is about to deliver millions of Americans into their clutches by law.

A country and a people can stand so much from its leaders. Americans survived President Bush and his catastrophic neo-conservative agenda that brought the American nation to military embroilment and financial ruin. Obama promised “change”. when, with most policies, he has not delivered change - only more of the same. However, with healthcare he has ratcheted up the stakes.

Having sold the American government into slavery to Wall Street he is now about to do the same with the American people. Americans may not quite have woken up to the fact yet but when the healthcare bill passed through the Senate on Christmas Eve this was their President’s Christmas message: You are to be healthcare debt slaves to Wall Street.

For those in the rest of the world, this is a tragedy. America has in the last two years moved from being “the world’s only superpower” to being an embattled, indebted, deindustrialised, carbon junkie with growing disparities between its superrich and the growing number of its own dispossessed and repossessed. The failures of the Obama presidency will open to door to the many dark forces that American politics harbours. This is what we will have to deal with in the years to come




The new millennium began with a spirit of hope. To find hope for the new decade we cannot look to our leaders. We will have to look elsewhere.



Recommended article of the week




·        University "blue sky" thinking under threat as research to be judged only on "social or economic impact"..





·         Republican Party Meeting in London in the New Year


A Republican Party meeting is planned in the new year in London.


Especially in the run up to the general election, it is time for the website to become an organisation. Subscribers to the website and to the newsletter have been building up. You will soon be asked to donate towards the costs of the meeting to launch the party.




A Great New Decade to All RPGB supporters!


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……. …….until next time