High Tea Time
When I first thought writing about the debt ceiling, which was a month ago, I thought it would be fairly simple and straight forward Five questions on the debt-ceiling debate - The Washington Post. The general outlines of the event and the stakes were in in place by then, and haven't changed Our Mountain of Debt. Despite that it was a hard topic to keep up with. In the last week most of what is have written here I have seen written by others. I write as a blogger and more skeptical person than most, one willing to own amateur passions. When I see professional journalists hit my marks, that is a raw statement on the evolution of this unfortunate debate.
One of the main contours of the argument is the notion that Big Government equals bad government. Bad and wastefull. It functions as central and animating principle. It would claim an absolute difference in intelligence and intent from individuals otherwise fished from the same ocean of citizenship. Big Government is believed to work to courses incorrect and work for courses incorrect. It forms a thorough-going politics of resentment against governance and rule of law. A stance of victimhood, this an irony of such depth it is difficult to describe. It places a premium on smallness, as someone who read portions of Schumacher's
Small is Beautiful years ago, a wrinkle of nostalgia washes over me at this. But for this lot it is an end in itself, A panegyric of unexamined means. All of this signals (or follows) a loss of faith in government that is systemic, or endemic to democracy perhaps. This appears to play out of the achievement of virtual universal individual autonomy. The US as pinnacle of prosperity choice and freedom; moreover, open to the largest set of Americans ever. All of this largely brought about through the sustained efforts of the Federal Government. Yet this is where the discontent seeds from. The point where the contradictions push themselves to the surface. The Federal government is not by any means the only large scale institution in US society. We are a big country of big players, and the game requires big rules What Do You Mean, 'Government Is Too Big' - James Kwak - Business - The Atlantic.
The withdrawal of faith from representational democracy hasn't tempered the craving for the so-called direct democracy. Rule by endless and directionless public referendums this is California's dreaming and the state is ever beacon to others. California is also one of the states that can't live without secession threats, in their case; separation from themselves Counties Propose Secession in the Name of South California - NYTimes.com.
The great crusade against spending and the national debt is plagued by distorted notions. These are notions that it can all be resolved painlessly to themselves and anyone they know. The right budget is just a moment or two of common sense away. The freshman class of this congress combine a great deal of intransigence with naivety. But if you have paid close attention you will have seen this give way to grandstanding, and other juvenilen symptoms as the reality of the federal budget broke through their dissonance. Once they realized simple solutions and invisible cures, taking a knife to just the other fellows fat, weren't in the offing it became more empty talk and public mulishness than true action. I felt the stage was set on a day earlier in the year when the Republican caucus filed into the chambers, the weight of all existence pressing down on their shoulders. This thin brave line came and solemnly voted to cut off funding for NPR, thus balancing the budget and saving the world forever with one stroke. Of course later on some pointed out the government gives the same amount of money to Liberty University (founded by Jerry Falwell) alone as to NPR. I knew then there was nothing particularly discerning honest or serious about these house republicans.
The no-new-taxes world the tea party and hard right speak of constantly functions as an empty shibboleth of identity Grover Norquist, the anti-tax enforcer behind the scenes of the debt debate - The Washington Post. The deficeit and debt ceiling it is critical to remember follows already legislated outlays. It isn't the place where you come to control spending, that is what the budget does. They don't make their stand there, where people expect you to put your money where your mouth is, but at a critical bottleneck further down the road, where they can simply withold cooperation. The instinct bent to high principle, to batten down and make being American about spending as little as possible betrays weakness. In polls of American awareness, our marking of funding levels for various initiatives - foreign assistance programs are off by powers of ten American Public Vastly Overestimates Amount of US Foreign Aid - World Public Opinion:. They have only an attitudinal or emotional grasp of federal spending. Under or over it is a creature of empty false generosity, an inability to recognize routine national security interests. Also problematic is the way this small and antigovernment mindedness will play out in national direction, in loss of national vision for big expensive things we do as a people. However the future of privatized space exploration plays out, it will not be a thing we do as a people. The building of the national highway system and other parts of our transportation network was an extraordinary expensive and focused achievement. A wealth multiplier without compare. It is now thirty to forty years old and the entire system will need to adhere to a strict maintenance regime to keep from degrading Decaying infrastructure costs U.S. billions each year, report says - The Washington Post. This will cost more than this country seems to have the stomach to spend anymore.
They are also are exhibiting a near absolute cluelessness on the potential real effects of bond defaults. Inescapably it would make it harder and more expensive to borrow money it would make servicing the existing debt more expensive through higher interest rates. That there will be no default fallout is maintained first by the Tea Party caucus, and by figures like Michelle Bachmann Michele Bachmann's defaulty logic - The Washington Pos. They tend to wave it off with exceptional vagueness mimicking magical thinking, but most of them likely don't believe this, since they seem to be counting on the great disinclination of reasonable and substantive people to let this happen and meet their terms to prevent it. They keep up a vague monotone insistence that money is there (somewhere), that neither tame US markets or foreign markets will punish us just for not taking their money seriously, let alone actually not paying them. That rating agencies would never dare downgrade USA bonds. A face value belief that the "markets" will "understand" what the tea party thinks they're doing, and that some sort of shell game can be pulled off if the President simply chooses to do so. But there is little here that should be taken at face value Beyond a default: Catastrophic calculations - The Washington Post.
Tea Party has not yet had its "we have me the enemy and he is us" moment. A Pogo nod not only to any belated recognition of the damage they have caused. But also to the fact that they don't seem to recognize that the budgets that exists -- that we are raising the debt ceiling to accommodate -- is already passed into law by congress. It is their budget. It is what the American people want, what they desire the system of government to provide them. Perhaps they feel that expenditures not clearly flowing to them, even if democratically authorized just should not be paid. The debt ceiling proxy war is power politics by a minority faction to force cuts from the budget created legitimately and democratically. It is certainly capable of being paid for if we would honestly own up to what we want, and look towards the ways and means of paying for it. Many on the right may be massively underestimating the way government expenditures wind benevolently through their own lives and the lives of people close to them Public Wants Changes in Entitlements, Not Changes in Benefits | Pew Research Center for the People and the Press:. And at that I await the inevitable Cheney moment when after regaining power (executive, both houses) the GOP suddenly recalls that
deficits don't matter -- Reagan proved that. Any time they have an angle to play, deficits mean little to them The Chart That Should Accompany All Discussions of the Debt Ceiling - James Fallows - Politics - The Atlantic.
Forcing a recession to destroy President Obama's public standing, isn't inconsistent with the Tea Party's thinking. If others say this is too Machiavellian, they won't have heard that from anyone in the Tea Party. The entire Republican party is adamant there is to be nothing, legislatively for Obama going into the 2012 elections. Votes that have occurred routinely before won't now The budget deals of Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Obama, in one chart - Ezra Klein - The Washington Post. An observable fact is that ultra-wealthy were affected very little if at all (and often came out richer) by recent recession. Driving the republican agenda more than a little is Paul Ryan's crowd, who are not anyone's rank and file but societal distorting wealth who are no longer interested in putting money into America. [In the middle of this debate a Pew Trust Survey on wealth disparity dropped which noted the tremendous hollowing out of the middle class -- minority representation in the middle class particularly which ought to have made every sit up and take notice Wealth Gaps and Perception Gaps: A Paradox of the Great Recession - Pew Research Center] There are elements on the right that are intent on undoing every liberal or democratic initiative from the great-society era onward, if not a rollback through the new deal to the gilded era. Significantly the programs that allowed the working class to move up into an expanded middle class. There is no longer danger of a true socialist party forming is the US, there are no concessions that need to be granted to the service classes to head that off. When I was going through a government and politics program, decades ago. The line on government programs was that social (engineered) mobility was inseparable from stable democracy, and social safety net programs were well intended, but suffered from the law of unintended consequences. Few openly challenged the ethical grounds of the war on poverty. Just how it was being waged. Now we are seeing the very notion of governmental noblesse oblige challenged. Empathy and concern for others is an optional and entirely private matter. High rates of unemployment by itself are of little consequence to them and are certainly by the right to be perfered over the least degree of inflation. What has changed is our place in the world. For the duration of the cold war and unipolar moment that followed it with every passing year we were ascendent and the doomed Soviet system diminished with every year. That no longer holds, or describes our place in the world of rising eonomies. Many, I believe see a zero sum game in the future, and are taking steps to lock in advantage now, and dismantle any excess of democratic process that might induce or allow change. The situation with illegal immigrants seems a campaign to remove some and effectively regulate the others into utter powerlessness, an ongoing subjugated dependency creating a labor and wage vacuum. One that would hold even if documented and native workers moved into that labor segment. In addition to this we see the virtual end of an era of legal remediation for any kind of work place discrimination. The Supreme court's dismantling of practically all grounds for class action suits Supreme Court dismisses women's class action lawsuit against Wal-Mart - CSMonitor.com. Tort Reform has reformed the worker out of law altogether The Attack on Trial Lawyers and Tort Law | Commonweal Institute.
Wealth, big globalized money, will get bigger and remove itself from attachment to the US The wealthy will do the same by degrees attitudinally if not physically. The American worker, the American consuming middle class, will cease to be of particular importance to this wealth.
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