Skip to comments.Scapegoats for Keynesianism
Posted on 08/22/2012 8:20:15 PM PDT by Abiotic
Near the end of July, the Small Wars Journal published an article that described the possibilities for, as the title put it, Full-Spectrum Operations in the Homeland: war against American citizens, in the United States, waged by the U.S. military. The authors, a retired army officer with a recent history Ph.D. and a history professor with a too-perfect interest in the field of Lincoln studies, laid out the scenario that would lead to their case-study future war:
The Great Recession of the early twenty-first century lasts far longer than anyone anticipated. After a change in control of the White House and Congress in 2012, the governing party cuts off all funding that had been dedicated to boosting the economy or toward relief. The United States economy has flatlined, much like Japans in the 1990s, for the better part of a decade. By 2016, the economy shows signs of reawakening, but the middle and lower-middle classes have yet to experience much in the way of job growth or pay raises. Unemployment continues to hover perilously close to double digits, small businesses cannot meet bankers terms to borrow money, and taxes on the middle class remain relatively high. A high-profile and vocal minority has directed the publics fear and frustration at nonwhites and immigrants. After almost ten years of race-baiting and immigrant-bashing by right-wing demagogues, nearly one in five Americans reports being vehemently opposed to immigration, legal or illegal, and even U.S.-born nonwhites have become occasional targets for mobs of angry whites.
As a predictable result, an extremist militia motivated by the goals of the tea party movement takes over the government of Darlington, South Carolina, and the fight is on.
The authors are being cute here since Darlington is where the Confederacy got its first military volunteers: our new civil war begins in the cradle of the old one. But the choice holds. South Carolina is still known for its vicious right-wing population, which rages against all immigration, legal or illegal, and recently elected the daughter of Punjabi Sikhs to the governors office.
This flawlessly obtuse scenario misfires with almost every syllable, but one assumption stands out as particularly silly. In the long economic future-doldrums described in academic fairy tales, persistent crisis is caused by political obstruction and a withdrawal of bureaucratic intervention. Economies dont grow because they are denied their mothers milk, the wisdom of state planners. Without legislative nurturing, business withers and thriving enterprises like Solyndra and General Motors slip away toward insolvency. Only government checks create prosperity. Take them away, and the economy flatlines.
The authors compare the struggle of this hypothetical austerity-driven America to Japan, where government debt is well over two hundred percent of GDP and the lost decade has marched arm and arm with frantic state intervention. If only the Japanese government had been willing to spend some money, dear reader, their country would already be prosperous again. Who knew that Japan had its own share of teabaggers to obstruct progress and prevent all stimulus spending? Government is invariably rational, effective, wise, and morally decent. If something is broken, it must be because some fool wouldnt let the state fix it.
Missing the Recipe
The historian Thomas Haskell has described the significance of recipe knowledge: if you do A, B, and C, in that order, then D will result. Recipe knowledge links facts to the future. Pass this stimulus bill, and unemployment will quickly fall below 6 percent. Invade this country, and a culture of freedom will blossom in the Middle East. Require everyone to buy health insurance, and have government subsidize the resulting market, and premiums will fall.
As the examples suggest, the American political class has not the slightest hint of recipe knowledge. They have the opposite, as if someone wrote a cookbook for people who want to start with frosted cake and turn it into burnt flour. They not only cant connect acts and results, but go the next step and assert forecasts that slam against the obvious reality of their foundational premises. A hundred million Americans receive federal transfer payments, not counting Medicare and Social Security recipients, but somehow the economy isnt thriving. So what we need is to get more people on food stamps, since those are a powerful driver of sustainable prosperity. Why isnt this working? Is it because of right-wing obstruction?
Save it before it gets "scrubbed"
That’s funny. “We now present the President, and the man standing behind it!” Obama, what an empty suit.