The great question for some Republicans seems to be now whether America likes it anymore. Some pundits are saying, if Republicans want to win elections they will have to change their message to something more "moderate". This is pretty dumb.
A simple distinction needs to be made between politicians who want to win because that's how they intend to make a living, preferably one that brings wealth and power, and those who care about politics because they care about things such as liberty and this remaining a prosperous country. I don't care about the careers of politicians; indeed, in pains me that they can't all lose. But I care about the latter. This makes things a lot simpler.
In many ways, we live in fairly simple times. Obama has clarified things; you have to give him that. He and his supporters in Congress show every sign of seriously pursuing an agenda that stands a good chance of leading to if not economic ruin, at least hard times that go on for a long time. As I have said before, I think it is unfair to Socialism to call the Obama plan socialist. Obamaworld is a lot more like the corporatist capitalism of the 1930's variety, FDR and those Euro- New Dealers who went on to make such a mess of things. Italians. Germans. Japanese. You know whom I mean.
There is no reason to think it will work now any better than it did then, though I'm optimistic enough to think world war can be avoided. The Obama vision is based on a budget that is patently unsustainable several times over. Even with much higher taxes, it could not be financed. Unless something big changes, it will collapse of its own weight. When that happens, somebody has to be around to pick up the pieces. I nominate us.
On the other hand, maybe it will work. Maybe a new green economy will pop up from out of the ground. Maybe people will pay 60 or 70 or 80 percent in federal income taxes and happily be just as productive as at 30 percent. Maybe the government can allocate capital as well as private companies. Maybe GM and Chrysler will come out of bankruptcy making neat little green cars people want to buy. Maybe a nationalized health care system will provide more care and better too. Maybe a carbon tax will reduce our consumption of dirty energy while at the same time not cost us very much. I view all of these things as unlikely to the point of being almost impossible. They would violate what I feel in my gut as basic principles of economics. But who knows.
If they do work, then it will turn out that Obama really is a kind of savior figure. He will have done things many, definitely including me, thought impossible. If he does pull this off, the GOP should just dissolve itself, and maybe become an historical reenactment society. We could all dress up in suits from the 1980s
, listen to Blondie
and talk about the good old days.
But I am virtually certain this is not what our future holds. Instead, I think the enormous sums of money our government has spent and more importantly is about to spend will mostly be wasted. I have great faith in the ability of government to waste money, because I have seen it done. I think health care reform, if it comes in the form proclaimed, will be a disaster, which will start to show up in patient outcomes pretty quickly. I think if GM and Chrysler ever get out of bankruptcy, it will be to produce cars who sole rational purpose will be to make a political statement, a kind of very expensive bumper sticker. What will happen with the banks, I don't know, but it does not look good so far. I think if we escape massive inflation, it will only be because taxes will go up a lot. If you spend money, you have to pay for it somehow. I think economic growth will be low for a long time and unemployment high. I don't see how a significant downgrading of the credit of the US can be avoided. I think we are in for a rough ride. But if you look at the history of the world, you will see rides can get pretty rough.
So in other words, I think we are on the cusp of a big fall. But the people have made their choices and now they (and we unfortunately) have to live with them. But the time to start planning to rebuild is now. If the GOP is about something other than putting its clients in office and grabbing goodies for its special interests (a debatable proposition at best), then it should be thinking about how to rebuild when this fire is over.
Of course, if any of this nonsense can be stopped
, it should be. I just think much of it is probably inevitable, barring some game changing event from out of left field.