Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Stupidity of Broke

Mark Steyn has written an apocalyptic best-seller that every Conservative wishes didn't need to be written.  

Because scales covered the eyes of the American electorate in 2006 and 2008, it chose a government on the basis of hope and hot air rather than reality and reason.  Consequently, America is racing full throttle over the edge of a cliff.

Steyn makes a number of observations in the prologue that are worth sharing.  The first is about America's moral crisis, and its connection to the Armageddon awaiting us.
When government spends on the scale Washington's got used to, that's not a spending crisis, it's a moral one. The Irish have a useful word for the times--flaithitulacht--which translates to ruinous generosity, invariably with someone else's money. There's nothing virtuous about 'caring' 'compassionate' 'progressives' demonstrating how caring and compassionate and progressive they are by spending money yet to be earned by generations yet to be born. That's what 'fiscal conservatives' often miss: this isn't a green-eye-shade issue. Increasing dependency , disincentivizing self-reliance, absolving the citizenry from responsibility for their actions; the mutlitrillion-dollar debt catastrophe is not the problem but merely the symptom. It's not just about balancing the books, but about balancing the most basic impulses of society. These are structural and, ultimately, moral questions. Credit depends on trust, and trust pre-supposes responsibility. So, if you have a credit boom in an age that has all but abolished personal responsibility, it's not hard to figure how it's going to end (emphases added).
Noman says, amen.  As a nation, we have run up a debt relative to GNP not seen since WW II. As a culture, we have adopted a welfare mentality and embraced libertine impulses.  All of this will be at our progeny's expense.

America has slidden from a ruinous financial crisis caused by too much debt, to an apocalyptic debt burden fueled by too much government borrowing.

President Obama tried to spend America out of its debt crisis by borrowing trillions of dollars more.  That's stupid on its face.  It only adds insult to injury that he spent it on government, politically correct causes and Democratic Party constituencies.  In short, he larded troughs when his role was to unclog machinery.

Having allowed Liberals to live out their fantasies with the public purse, America will be in dire straights when bond market creditors come calling.  And, that won't change by assuming perpetually low interest rates.

The Left's paradigm changed from tax-and-spend to spend-borrow-and-then-tax, which enabled it to splurge while simultaneously provoking the crisis necessary to impose a VAT, and worse. Crippling taxes will come with austerity when America is on its knees again.

It isn't in the President's DNA, or any Liberal's, to spend less.  Imminent Armageddon is the consequence.

Later in the prologue Steyn observes about America's largest creditor:
China is dangerous not (as many argue) because of its strength but because of its weakness.  As I wrote in America Alone, the People's Republic has a crude structural flaw: thanks to its disastrous one-child policy, it will get old before it gets rich, and, unless it's planning on becoming the first gay superpower since Sparta, the millions of surplus young men whom the government's One-Child Policy has deprived of female companionship is a recipe either for wrenching social convulsions at home--or for war abroad, the traditional surplus inventory-clearance method of great powers.  That's actual worse news than if China was cruising to uncontested global hegemony--because it means that Beijing's calculations on how the Sino-American relationship evolves are even less likely to align with ours.  China has to maximize its power before demographic decay sets in.  In other words, it has strong incentives to be bold and to push, hard and fast.  And, when it happens, Washington will be taken by surprise by something that was entirely inevitable (emphases added).
Note the connection between the moral issues (in this case contraception and abortion), the fiscal issues (mutually beneficial creditor-debtor relations), and national defense (incentives to war).  Traditional morals, strong families, fiscal responsibility, limited government, and strong national defense all work together.

On the sunny side, Steyn believes that America is exceptional despite President Obama and his Party's insistence to the contrary.
The United States is still different.  In the wake of economic meltdown, the decadent youth of France rioted over the most modest of proposals to increase the retirement age.  Elderly 'students' in Britain attacked the heir to the throne's car over footling attempts to constrain bloated, wasteful, and pointless 'university' costs.  Everywhere from Iceland to Bulgaria angry mobs besieged their parliaments demanding the same thing: Why didn't you the government do more for me?  America was the only nation in the developed world where millions of people took to the streets to tell the state: I can do just fine if you control-freak statists would shove your non-stimulating stimulus, your jobless jobs bill, and your multitrillion-dollar porkathons, and just stay the hell out of my life and my pocket (emphasis added).
This last point is worth underscoring: Americans spontaneously took to the streets in unprecedented numbers to demand less government, not more.  The President had to subsidize union protestors and community organizers with borrowed billions in order to answer the tea parties by mimicking the petulant violent in Paris, London, Sophia and Athens.

In the long run, truth will win out.  Truth is a Person, Jesus Christ, and his victory is assured.

But, this is America, not heaven.  The title of Steyn's book, After America, indicates that at least one astute foreign observer doubts that Truth, reason or even sanity will be embraced in time.

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