Politics and the effect on RE

I recall 50 years ago how Japan taught the West a lesson in how to manufacture stuff. That put an end to the American motorcar industry.
But although there was resentment in the West about ‘Jap crap’ there wasn’t the dread that we are now facing with China.
I haven’t made up my mind wrt China’s agenda but as a manufacturer they offer the world a lot. This isn’t a bad thing since we all benefit from this.
That said I’m also a supporter of the US since they are the biggest democracy in the world.

Not only. They nearly wiped out the Swiss watch industry. Once Seiko came out with the first quartz-crystal watch, the game was up for the Swiss. Even the best analog movements (and many swiss firms were using good but not best movements) could not compete for reliability and accuracy. Dozens of Swiss watch companies bit the dust. Some embraced the inevitable and (gasp!) moved to quartz movements. Seiko’s Astron watch was a disrupter before we started using that term.

The biggest Democracy in the world … with the “best that they can offer” being the oldest candidates ever there vying for the presidency. The one having court case on court case stacked against him.

Viva the world to follow their “lead”. There is drama on the horizon if you ask me if that is the “best of the best” the USA has to offer.

Sorry, but that had to be said, us still dealing with Zuma with all his woes, his powerbase.

Democracy is a bit of a blanket term, of course. It means that the people decide, but in practice there is always a system in which democracy is just one part.

The US is technically a republic, not a democracy. They have a system where the people vote for representatives, and the representatives vote for the president, via a mechanism known as the electoral college. Large states gets more representatives than smaller states, but the rules are set up that smaller states ends up with slightly more power: Really large states actually get less representatives relative to the number of people. This is on purpose: It prevents a large state, such as California, from overriding a small state. Long story short: Democracy only does so much, the entire system that governs the republic can cause the less popular candidate to get the presidency. That is what happened in 2016 when Trump beat Hillary.

South Africa has proportional representation, which also has democracy as one component, but the system also has some side effects: If the party you voted for got too few votes to gain even a single seat in parliament, then those people technically lose representation.

I far prefer the system of proportional representation over the two-big-poles system of the US. Bigger isn’t always better.

But on that topic. I have the following observation.

  1. The MK-party managed to get over 14% of the votes nationally, at the same time that the ANC lost about 17% of their support. It is probably not incorrect to say that the vast majority of the MK’s support came from disgruntled ANC voters, or people who stopped voting in the past. Or in other words, the rise of the MK is more properly seen as a schism within the ANC.
  2. The vast majority of MK voters (and in terms of 1 above, former ANC voters) are from KZN, with a smaller but still significant component from neighbouring Mpumalanga.

What this means, is that for the last decade or so, the ANC had majority power solely based on one province. KZN essentially kept them in power. One commenter even, somewhat humourously, called them KwaZupta-Natal.

As another humourous observation, it means that the Cape Independence supporters (who got less votes than the MK in the Western Cape… shows you how incorrect polls can be!) underestimated how wide spread the issue was of being ruled by someone you did not vote for. Instead of trying to divorce the Western Cape from SA, they should have instead advocated for SA divorcing KZN!

(I am not serious… this is all said in jest… mostly).

This is why it’s important to properly understand the rules.

Nigel Farage is grinning like a Cheshire cat because polls show that his party is ahead of the tories, with 19% support across the country.

But that’s popular vote.

Farage’s previous party, the Brexit party, polled at 13% across the country. But the reality was that he had pretty much 13% everywhere. That wasn’t enough to win constituencies and thus seats in Parliament.

So now it may be that he has the consistent 13% upped to 19%, and if that’s a consistent 19% across all parts of the country, he likely won’t get many seats and has little chance of being, as he claims, the Opposition.

Farage needs high support within individual wards if he’s to win seats in Parliament. It is quite possible in the UK to win an election with a good majority of parliamentary seats, but not take the popular vote.

Which is the point that Trump made on his election. He didn’t win the popular vote, didn’t need to, and didn’t aim to. He aimed deliberately for electoral college seats and not support from the majority of Americans. Trump understood the game (or got lucky and made all of the stuff up on the spot).

With the system in use in South Africa, Trump would not have become President, but Nigel Farage and a good few of his colleagues would have sat in Parliament.

So, understand the rules, and don’t use statistics as a drunk uses a lamppost.


I don’t think that there’s anything ideological behind this, it’s just protectionism. Of course that P word is a dirty word, so the US will dress this up as fighting off the evil forces of communism, but it’s about protecting US industries from a strong rival who can beat them on price.

The section about less powerful chips is interesting, and worth paying attention to. When Intel started making the Pentium back in the 90s, some folks wondered about the 486 and 386.

They shouldn’t have. Simpler Intel chips were selling like hot cakes, being used with embedded systems in cars, air cons, and even F1 racing cars (a 286 had all the fire power you needed for a mid 90s F1 car).

So it will be the same here. You want that fancy chip for your AI enabled smart phone. But you can go for something with a bit less oomph and a lot less price when you have to control charging and monitoring in an EV with rear impact sensors and a lane detector.

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A government agenda can be a good thing. If you are a small country like South Africa and want to compete in the world market, you do need an agenda, a national strategy.

Government must create an economic climate so that secondary industries that are based on our national resources can be competitive, both in price and quality:

  1. No import tax, period. Not only on the inputs of these industries but even on consumer goods, which indirectly affects labour costs. What we cannot make cheaper and better locally, we import.

  2. Abolish the labour laws. With the high unemployment rate, nobody has the right to highjack a job or even strike. Cheap labour could be one of our national resources, as it is for China.

  3. Subsidize education and research in skills that are applicable to industries that are likely to be competitive.

  4. Incentivise investment in manufacturing and penalize investment in more shopping malls.

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I agree. The word “agenda”, much like the word “discrimination”, is now mostly considered pejorative, it has a negative connection the moment you utter it. But outside of those connotations, an agenda is simply a plan, and discrimination is merely making a decision (ie, not all discrimination is necessarily unfair, not all agendas are sinister).

Everyone has an agenda. Most of us probably want to retire some day on the money you saved up. That is an agenda… :slight_smile: