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one manufactured crisis

Discussion in 'English Only' started by azuki, Feb 24, 2013.

  1. azuki Senior Member

    Japanese
    Hello everybody,

    The following is an excerpt from a transcript of State of the Union 2013.

    And let’s do it without the brinksmanship that stresses consumers and scares off investors. The greatest nation on Earth cannot keep conducting its business by drifting from one manufactured crisis to the next. (in the first half of the full text)

    I understand that "manufactured crisis" means a man-made crisis, which doesn't mean a made-up crisis that is not true. Does it refer to the economic crisis recently occurred worldwide? Could anyone explain?

    Thank you in advance,

    Azuki
     
  2. Ceremoniar Senior Member

    USA
    American English
    It refers to the recession in general, but more specifically to the recent legislative battles in the U.S. Congress, where Democrats and Republicans have been clashing over economic policy.
     
  3. wandle

    wandle Senior Member

    London
    English - British
    It seems quite a pointed remark. It is a reference to the so-called 'fiscal cliff'.
    There is a law which automatically imposes a sharp, sudden cut on federal spending if the two Houses of Congress fail to agree a budget with the President.

    This cut, and all the arguments preceding it, may be called a manufactured crisis in several senses: (a) it results from the parties (who at present control one House each) refusing to compromise in the national interest; (b) it results from the law which requires the cut; and (c) it results from the Constitution which lays down that neither of the two Houses, nor the President, nor any two of them, can overrule the remainder.

    As in the case of gun control, the President, supposedly the most powerful man on earth, finds himself unable to move policy in the direction which he sees, from his more impartial position, as necessary for the nation: and also important for the international community.

    Given the frequency of federal elections, would the sky fall if the President together with either House could overrule the other?
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2013
  4. lucas-sp Senior Member

    English - Californian
    And the new one - "sequestration."

    The crises are "manufactured" because the various parties in power leave it until the last minute to start trying to resolve them, so that everything will be more dramatic and the stakes will be higher. Basically, when things are so sudden and extreme (with such a short time-frame), then each party thinks that it will appear like the super-super-good guy and its opponent as the super-super-bad guy - because it was a crisis!!!!!!! and the other side did nothing!!!!!!!!! So it's actually in the best interest of politicians to wait for the last minute, when the stakes are elevated artificially - this is called "brinksmanship." (Although obviously if people acted with a bit of foresight, we could come up with better solutions.)

    Although many of wandle's criticisms of American policy are well-taken, I just want to point out that nobody - nobody - in the US would even consider the idea that 2 out of 3 of the President, House, and Senate should be able to overrule the other one. For starters, the President and the Congress don't even belong to the same wing of the government. I mean, it's just not a solution that we can envision as Americans. So it's certainly not something that Mr. Obama is proposing or referencing in his speech.
     
  5. wandle

    wandle Senior Member

    London
    English - British
    Not that; but President plus either house could overrule the other house.

    In practice the President, whatever his own party background, finds himself often enough brokering compromise between Republicans and Democrats. All the other provisions of the constitution would continue. The frequency of Congressional and Presidential elections gives the people the power to alter almost immediately any combination (President plus one chamber) of which they disapproved.

    This arrangement would increase executive power, but leave it subject to rapid democratic correction if desired.
     
  6. lucas-sp Senior Member

    English - Californian
    The point is that it is impossible that Americans would even come up with that idea. As is, the House and Senate can override the President, and the President can override the Congress, but the idea that you present is unthinkable for Americans. So it's not one of the reasons Mr. Obama is implying that the current crises are "manufactured."
     
  7. wandle

    wandle Senior Member

    London
    English - British
    I would credit them with not only that much imagination, but more. At any rate, in case of difficulty, I offer the idea myself in a friendly spirit.
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought all three had to approve any legislation.
    I can hardly doubt that every President must reflect upon the limits of his (or her) position.
     
  8. lucas-sp Senior Member

    English - Californian
    Executive orders, various forms of veto, and veto overrides.

    The point is to explain what "manufactured" means in President Obama's speech to the American people. Although you may be pointing out one way in which these crises are "manufactured" by a system, it is (perhaps unfortunately) not one of the ways that his description of the crises is legible in the context of his speech.

    It's clear from the context that he thinks the crises are "manufactured" by "brinksmanship." So your remarks (a) and (b) are completely relevant, and I just wanted to add (d): the way in which (both) American political parties wait until the last minute to tackle big issues, gambling that they'll end up looking like the saviors who solve the problem in the nick of time (and their opponents will look like the evil obstructionists who were only barely defeated). Your explanation (c) just isn't legible to the American people, which is why it isn't a very good explanation of what President Obama meant​.
     
  9. wandle

    wandle Senior Member

    London
    English - British
    If these are available, why is there deadlock?
    I would be surprised if it were not at least at the back of his mind. I cannot imagine a man of his intelligence not noticing the difference between his position and that of other national leaders.
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2013
  10. lucas-sp Senior Member

    English - Californian
    That's not a language question - it's an American politics question. Basically, they're all theoretically available, but they've all been rendered unusable in practice (due to various cultural and political forces), except in a very few extreme situations.
     
  11. azuki Senior Member

    Japanese
    Hi Ceremoniar, wandle and lucas-sp,

    Your comments have aroused my interest in reading the State of the Union speech in English. Great help! Thank you!

    Azuki:)
     
  12. wandle

    wandle Senior Member

    London
    English - British
    That seems to be no different from (a). What would it mean if the party leaders decided to drop brinkmanship? They would sit down together and say, 'Let's compromise'. Since they refuse to do so, what better solution than a Presidential casting vote? In most cases, he would not even need to exercise it. The mere threat (which could be given a formal procedural expression) would be enough to set the wheels in motion.
     
  13. lucas-sp Senior Member

    English - Californian
    The difference between (a) a general refusal to compromise and (d) a specific habit of waiting until the last minute to solve problems (whether or not that solution comes through compromise) to me seems clear.

    Again, your idea of how to fix America is fun, whimsical, and filthily monarchist, but not applicable here.

    (Besides, the Presiden already has immense power when it comes to introducing and influencing legislation. For example, President Obama has played a key role, recently, in the Congressional laws repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," and he of course is greatly responsible for health care reform. But Americans would never imagine the President voting on legislation, which would seem like a major breach of separation of powers.)
     

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