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So what did US conservatives expect?

A conservative friend of mine in the USA sent me a link to an article in Weekly Standard called The Sector Formerly Known as Private: how Obama intends to use corporations to effect social change… and I must say that it somewhat surprised me. The following is largely based on the letter I sent him in return.

We’re beginning to get a sense of what the next four years will look like. It won’t be a conservative era, that’s for sure. Nor will it, despite appearances to the contrary, be a reprise of the Clinton era. Bill Clinton’s version of economic liberalism meant slightly higher tax rates on income and capital, a slightly more burdensome regulatory apparatus, lower deficits, and a commitment to free trade. The public sector didn’t meddle too much in the private sector. It was content, for the most part, to sit back and enjoy the tax revenue that the tech boom poured in. Obama’s liberalism will be different.

Let us gloss over the absurd American use of the word ‘liberal’ when they actually mean ‘illiberal’, but my response to “We’re beginning to get a sense of what the next four years will look like” was… we? Was article author Matthew Continetti not listening to Obama during the campaign? Has he not examined the copious record of the vile man’s public statements ever since he entered politics? Nothing Obama is going to do should be unexpected. For Obama to do anything unexpected he would have to slash public spending and roll back regulation.

Is it really only now dawning on some people that Obama ain’t Bill Clinton? But guess what, do you actually think McCain would have shrunk the state and lowered the regulatory interference that not so much led to but actually mandated the sub-prime melt down? McCain is the one who is Bill Clinton, just with zipped flies and less charisma.

Let the whole stinking system of patronage politics burn I say because nothing is going to change for the better until the piles of garbage and rats in the streets reality rubs people’s faces in the true cost of voting in a political class who thinks wealth is something that is created by political actions rather than markets. Hell, it does not matter what I think, just look at the numbers as the economy slows, then contracts, and at the same time state expenditure actually increases. Do you really have to be an Austrian School economist to see the implications of that?

Never was there a better time for openly authoritarian regulatory statists to be in power, right when the global economy is on the edge of an abyss. There will be no economic growth to mask the expansion of the state this time. Personally I am looking up at them standing on the edge and chanting “Jump! Jump! Jump!”

Just at the point where the state’s tax take will nose dive because of the economic slow-down, the USA has elected someone who is going to massively increase ‘public’ expenditure. The money will come from where exactly? Tax the middle class? That kills consumption and the economy tanks even more. Print more money? That fuels inflation and the economy tanks even more. Screw it out of productive sectors of the economy? That makes marginally productive businesses go bust and makes them all cut their labour forces and increases unemployment… and the economy tanks even more. My guess is that by the time he is done Obama will do all of the above. It does not matter that the media will love The One all the way down to the crater, the pain will be spread around so widely no amount of propaganda will be able to shift the blame. If the so called ‘right’ cannot turn that into political success a few years from now then they are worthless fools.

A lot of people are going to get hurt and that is just too damn bad. Has the GOP actually run a free-market candidate for president since Barry Goldwater? Well Reagan was at least half way there, but only half way, but I give him a free pass because busting the Soviets actually was worth the money he spent. The GOP is as much to blame as the Democrats for where the USA is now, so a plague on both their houses. The situation now is exactly where ‘pragmatic’ and ‘realistic’ voting gets you. Why anyone who wanted a smaller state would have turned out and voted for McCain was beyond me… and of course many did not, they stayed home in droves and quite right too.

Guys, you have been voting for the lesser evil for so long you may have lost sight of the fact that you have been voting for evil, just a tiny bit less than the other guy. Well no more easy options, no more putting the day of reckoning off for some point in the future… the day of reckoning has arrived and I for one am delighted. Do your worst Obama… to quote Lenin’s inspiration Nikolai Chernyshevsky, “the worse, the better”. Do not think of it as a disaster but rather an opportunity to actually create an opposition worth voting for. Never has there been a better time to destroy the political careers of really large numbers of Big State Republicans.

That is what I think. Have a nice day.

54 comments to So what did US conservatives expect?

  • Well said, Perry. Pragmatism doesn’t work. Never has, never will. The only good news now is bad news.

  • Ian B

    They are about to suffer their Tony Blair, their New Labour quiet revolution which is in truth more of a capstone. By the end of Obama’s two terms the US will be as unrecognisable as the UK. Two terms, you say?

    We voted for Blair 3 times. They voted for Roosevelt 4 times. People don’t get it, Perry, even when half the population are unemployed and the rats and garbage are up to their necks. The more harm the nostrum does, the more of it is demanded. We’ve had over a century of steadily increasing progressivism and most people don’t even know what happened.

    The Marxists believed that capitalism would destroy itself; we should not fall into the same myth of inevitability. If the enemy class are destroyed by their own machinations, it will only be because they are swept away with the rest of the societies they rule. They will be the last to go. They will not be gone until there is nothing else left.

    The Americans have been drinking deep of a myth for decades now that they are free capitalists and the foolish, lazy Europeans let themselves fall to socialism. Well, now’s the time they get to realise they were in the shitpile with us all along, as they get the last, “Third Way” forkload on their heads.

  • Gabriel

    Do your worst Obama

    I have a savings account, I have bills, I have to earn money, I have people who I care about for which the same is true. I expect you can at least empathise with that. I also have fragments of a civilzation that I have no little affection for and which the Obamas of this world have spent the last 120 years working ceaselessly to destroy. I don’t expect you empathise with that at all, but it’s true nonetheless.

    Excuse me, then, if I greet the global triumph of the Left with less than total enthusiasm

  • dr kill

    Right on. All that is required to restore the Republic is term limits on the rascals we send to DC. Who the fuck do they think they are to tell me what to do or how to live. Fuck them. Live free or die.

  • I also have fragments of a civilzation that I have no little affection for and which the Obamas of this world have spent the last 120 years working ceaselessly to destroy.

    And hopefully your chance to see those fragments saved is at hand. The gradualist approach of the statists has proved irresistible, but the cards are being shuffled… that is not a bad thing.

  • TomC

    Ayn Rand used to say that the reason conservatives were arguably more contemptible than socialists was that they were apologists. Socialist dogma, albeit absent of objective analysis, at least remained true to centuries old collectivist arguments.

    If the so called ‘right’ cannot turn that into political success a few years from now then they are worthless fools,

    you say, but this comes up against Rand’s analysis which was made in the 1960s. Have we really been so pitifully unable to change anything in the last 40 years?

    For your complaints to be dealt with, we need to do what Rand suggested, i.e. stop trying to tacitly slow down the inexorable tendancy towards collectivism, but actively challenge socialism on an ideological level, using objective philosophical arguments to show why capitalism is the only system possible as a solution for mens’ happiness. I thought that was why libertarianism was becoming more popular today? How much longer are we going to be apologetic before we decide to act decisively?

    Several libertarian blogs are championing the idea that environmentalism has given new impetus to collectivist arguments but has never been even nominally challenged in our so-called democratic systems; are we going to wait another 40 years or shall we start to actively promote capitalism as a viable ideological and philosophical alternative? Libertarianism needs to decide if it wants to defeat one thousand years of imposed guilt and misrepresentation of capitalism as an ideal and basic human value. If it doesn’t, humanity is lost, particularly from the viewpoint of the poorest and most vulnerable.

  • Have we really been so pitifully unable to change anything in the last 40 years?

    I also do not accept that we have been in perpetual retreat. In truth we have also had massive victories and unlike so many on ‘my’ side I am actually quite optimistic about the long term.

    I have often been accused of a Marxist style notion of the ‘historical inevitability’ of victory for ‘my’ side, which is indeed a fair representation of what I think. I have no illusions getting there will be pleasant however.

  • Ian B

    Here’s a chart of libertarian success over the past 100 years.

  • The usual fallacy Ian. We are not homo economicus and I for one would not care to change places with someone in Britain 100 years ago and expect to actually be more autonomous, particularly if I was a woman.

    The notion we have been perpetually losing is frankly irrational but sure, the growth of Leviathan is the thing we have to fight, no argument there.

  • Ian B

    It isn’t fallacious to show the continual, uninterrupted growth of the state over the progressive/socialist/whatever era. It is fallacious to suggest that libertarianism is somehow correlated to women’s autonomy. One may however note with a Spockishly raised eyebrow that prior to 100 years ago American women were allowed to cross state lines- something that Eliot Spitzer was reminded is no longer the case.

  • You seem to have mistaken me for someone who cares deeply about libertarians Ian. I care only about autonomy and liberty. And if you think women were more free and autonomous 100 years ago on either side of the Atlantic, I would say you are very much mistaken.

  • Ian B

    I have no idea whether you care about “libertarians” Perry; whether you go out by night to hand out soup to libertarians or spit on them I know not. But it leaves me a little confused as to who the “my side” you referred to above is.

    I didn’t claim that women were more free and autonomous 100 years ago. There were all manner of social strictures on them- very different ones to the ones of today. But those were strictures placed on them by society, not by the state (except for their lack of a vote). The issue, surely, for my side, if not for your side, whatever it may be, is the power of the state- which has grown inexorably over the past century.

  • The Wobbly Guy

    It does not matter that the media will love The One all the way down to the crater, the pain will be spread around so widely no amount of propaganda will be able to shift the blame.

    There’s still a strong possibility that will not happen. For one, you’re banking on the fact that the American public is honest and smart enough to tell what’s happening, rather than relying on the media and their political masters for direction. Judging from what happened in the election, I don’t think so. Would a competent voting public have voted for Obama?

    It gets worse. The leftists have control over education, and you can bet that they’ll pin the blame on capitalism and condition the young to their way of thinking. It’s already happened, since they’re reaping the rewards of it with Obama’s victory, and it’ll only get worse.

    And speaking of Barry Goldwater… how did he fare? His ideas were barely accepted during a more conservative time; what makes you think they are any more accepted now in the US?

    Creating an opposition worth voting for is not the first step. The first step is to try to purge leftist thinking from the voters, so that there’ll be people voting for liberty and free markets. But it’s very, very difficult, since most people think with their hearts than with their brains. Just one example: “Think of the children!

  • DavidNcl

    One of the problems with the “bring it on” approach is that when the fatal conceit bites and the planned economy falls over the next step is to: 1) repeat the planning exercise with added vigor 2) blame an enemy class or ethnic sub group and 3) police it all with the NKVD. This the spirals into the great terror or the great leap backwards or some other “canvas cleaning” exercise.

  • Pa Annoyed

    When people select a particular strategy to fix a problem, campaign for it, argue in public for it, raise funds for it, get it put into practice… and it doesn’t work, their reaction is invariably to do it even harder.

    They picked the statists because they thought it would solve the problem. If it doesn’t, it can only mean they’re not the right sort of statist.

    It’s a multiple choice quiz with no right answer listed – it only confuses people.

  • Otto

    Perry,

    People who have dependent children tend to take a less sanguine view of the disaster we are heading in to.

    The Soviet Union didn’t fall when it did because they ran out of money or guns. It fell because a proportion of the people at the top changed their mind. Yeltsin saw a better alternative. Gorbachev was chosen to try and reform the mess. He tried to with perestroika, and when the coup came was too demoralised to stop Yeltsin.

    We don’t have to persuade the mass of people that ever more statism is a bad thing. We just have to shake the beliefs of a proportion of the elite. When crisis comes, if some in power are mentally flexible, then alternatives will be considered and, when there is no alternative, tried.

    To that end both rational argument, which Libertarians are good at, and cruel mockery are necessary, as is undermining the reputations of leading progressives, both “thinkers” and politicians.

    An additional thought occurs: It used to be said that there were no Marxists in the Soviet Union as Marxism had no explanatory power, as it had been carried to conclusion. By the same token, eventually, there will be nobody left for the progressives to blame, and the brighter ones will realise that there ideas don’t explain the mess that they are in.

  • TomC

    Perry, you “care only for autonomy and liberty” while equating increasing autonomy with the rising tide of statism. In what way then, will you ever be free?

    I take it you mean Conservatives, when you talk of “your” side, going on to say that “massive victories” have been achieved, and that you believe in the “historical inevitability” of success. Why is this belief somehow more “rational” than the observation that 150 years of trying to slow down statism instead of reversing it, has accomplished precisely nothing, as Ian’s link neatly demonstrates?

    You “have no illusions getting there will be pleasant”. Where exactly? And why pay the price of “unpleasantness” when we don’t know where we’re going, or how we’re going to get there? Conservatives = apologetic statists.

  • But those were strictures placed on them by society, not by the state (except for their lack of a vote).

    In the USA married women did not universally have the right to enter into contract, sue or retain their earnings until the 1890’s. In the UK this was true until 1882. This was law, not society, in action. Likewise you might find it hard to convince a homosexual they were better off back in ‘them days’. Pamphleteer critical of the state? Very dodgy.

    ‘My side’ is quite simply that of several liberty and whereas the growth of the state is certainly bad, no argument there, the smaller state of days of yore could be pretty nasty too if you strayed out of the mainstream. And of course the small British state went out and conquered a large chunk of the globe… yes how very enlightened those days were.

  • Perry, you “care only for autonomy and liberty” while equating increasing autonomy with the rising tide of statism.

    I do? I have no idea what you are talking about. My point is that if you think we have not also had major successes at the same time the state has been growing, then you are simply wrong.

  • Joec

    Reading that made me feel much better. Thanks Perry.

  • tdh

    This morning the newsbimbos were comparing Obama’s looming dramatic actions to FDR’s. They didn’t bother to mention — and surely are wholly or depravedly ignorant of the fact — that FDR’s policies helped drive the economy further and further into the ground, until the war, with its vast destruction, changed the landscape (and in western Germany brought a temporary reprieve from socialism).

    From the same era come a few vibrant, if not exactly traditional, suggestions for the name of an effective new domestic police force. How about the Emergency (or Extraordinary) Commission (could’ve sworn one dictionary said Committee…)? Or the Shield Squad (or Protection Team), or perhaps something more dramatic, offense rather than defense, like the Assault Department? If you can’t beat ‘em, well, you know, we’ll cross that bridge when we are at last being there.

  • Millie Woods

    There are two kinds of people in the world – be-ers and do-ers. On the whole the former tend to be types who opt for big government and the latter for governments of Adam Smithian proportions.
    Also the former tend to be lost in the nostrums of their poli-sci profs at university and to have little if any knowledge of pure and applied science.
    In the USA they tend to be unilingual and believe that France is the epitome of high civilisation instead of le centre mondial d’ennui which those of us unlucky enough to live part time in outposts of francophonie know alas.
    Instead of being stuck on stupid these types are stuck on sophomoric and rely on us heavy lifters to keep the world as they like it running.

  • Print more money? That fuels inflation and the economy tanks even more.

    Because this econ crisis is one of excessive paper wealth, and the popping of the housing bubble and emerging market bubble and the stock market bubble, and even the oil bubble — the US is leading the world into a deflation.

    The CPI went negative last month, first time in decades.

    Friedman called it, and Bernake will likely do it — print money and distribute it by helicopter. This will, likely, reduce the recession to a tolerable, far less than depression style mass unemployment. And I hope this is true, even if it is not drastic enough to turn voters back towards the market.

    A huge amount of the growth in the last few years has been in finance, slicing and dicing the fictitious bubble wealth (and generating fat Big Bank fees). Just like with newspapers, there are TOO MANY BANKERS and banks.

    The productive economy doesn’t need them. The bailouts are an attempt to keep the old orders from being creatively destroyed. Free Marketeers should be opposing all bailouts.

  • Plamus

    Tom Grey said:

    Because this econ crisis is one of excessive paper wealth, and the popping of the housing bubble and emerging market bubble and the stock market bubble, and even the oil bubble — the US is leading the world into a deflation.

    The CPI went negative last month, first time in decades.

    Only in the short run, Tom. When the massive deleveraging stops, all this boatload of money Helicopter Ben pumped in will still be out there in the economy. “Inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon”. If you hope the Fed will be able to mop it up efficiently… good luck with your well-timed short gold position

    The US will once again inflate its way out of debt, this time though, judging by smoking printing presses, not likely without a major hit to the credibility of the dollar, and of fiat currencies in general.

  • John K

    There was a piece in the Daily Telegraph yesterday by some dweeb called Matthew Bishop who works for The Economist (nuff said). He wrote that the Left might be after the return of “Big Government”. Can someone tell me when it ever shrank?

    To be fair to him, he thinks Polly Toynbee is a tit, so he’s not all bad.

  • lucklucky

    “In light of the downturn, Mr. Obama is also said to be reconsidering a key campaign pledge: his proposal to repeal the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. According to several people familiar with the discussions, he might instead let those tax cuts expire as scheduled in 2011, effectively delaying any tax increase while he gives his stimulus plan a chance to work.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/23/us/politics/23obama.html?partner=permalink&exprod=permalink

    Oh! that tax for riches…

  • Cookies not Biscuits

    Barack Obama is anything but a “vile man” as Mr. Perry so libelously named him. This is just my humble opinion but much of what is posted on this blog seems to be severely affected by a blindness to reality brought on by a unhealthy reliance on stagnant economic and political ideologies. Barack Obama is a gift to the American people and –dare I say– the world. His entire political career for the past year and a half has been astoundingly honest, straightforward, and innovative. His election has started a fresher, more peaceful racial dialog and has helped to heal a racial divide that our cousins across the Atlantic might not realize is still very deeply entrenched in all parts of the country. His “liberalism” is overblown by his detractors, who seem to forget that no one has any solution that is perfectly suited to the situation of the economy, in the United States and worldwide. Not to mention all the while dealing with two wars, a crumbling infrastructure, and all the other inevitable foreign policy struggles involving Israel, Iran and Russia.

    In other words, it would greatly benefit the tone of this publication if all the hateful, ideology-driven rhetoric against a man who has inspired millions of people around the world who had lost all faith in the most basic and essential integrity of the leaders of the free world. Progress is being made in the world. Don’t be so damn cynical.

  • His entire political career for the past year and a half has been astoundingly honest, straightforward…

    I agree, which was the whole point of my article… there are no surprises in store, he has been quite clear what he intends to do and ‘conservatives’ who are only just cottoning on have not been paying attention.

    …and innovative

    Now that is just silly. Obama is a European style leftist of the sort that are ten-a-penny on this side of the Atlantic. There is nothing whatsoever innovative about his ideas.

    In other words, it would greatly benefit the tone of this publication if all the hateful, ideology-driven rhetoric against a man who has inspired millions of people around the world

    Of course I am ideology driven! You think Obama is not? What an bizarre thing to say. And yes, I hate Obama (and McCain for that matter) because they are force addicted statists who see no aspect of civil society that they are unwilling to interfere with.

    Progress is being made in the world. Don’t be so damn cynical.

    I agree, just not the progress you think.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Barack Obama is a gift to the American people and –dare I say– the world.

    Hilarious. Do you do stand-up?

  • His entire political career for the past year and a half has been astoundingly honest, straightforward, and innovative.

    This sentence does not make sense. You probably meant ‘his speeches were honest and straightforward, and his ideas innovative’? If so, can you be more specific? Because from what I have heard from him, he rarely expressed any specific ideas other than hope and change. On those rare occasions when he did express specific, honest and straightforward ideas, those ideas were of the old socialist variety. You might like them, but innovative they are not.

    His “liberalism” is overblown by his detractors, who seem to forget that no one has any solution that is perfectly suited to the situation of the economy, in the United States and worldwide.

    You are mistaken. If you take the time to read some of the posts and links on this site, you will see that there is a solution. You might not like it, but it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist.

    As to his liberalism being overblown, I sure hope that you are right. Can you give me any concrete reasons to be hopeful?

    Oh, and I agree that it is remarkable that we are going to have a black president. But surely you are not suggesting that his being black automatically makes him a good president?

  • Splodge Of Doom

    Might I be ever so petty and point out that he isn’t actually black? He’s half white!

    Everyone seems so hung up on his colour and the fact that he can spin a speech charismatically. The man is an actor, a figurehead for the ideology of other, less wholesome individuals (Rev. Wright/ William Ayers/etc, please stand up).

    He has no ideas of his own, only those of his advisors. Does the fact that he associates closely with terrorists, black supremacists and various other “-ists” bother anyone else?

  • Splodge: a great number, if not most of American blacks have whites among their ancestors. For racists (both real and imaginary) he is black, and that’s the only thing that counts as far as his race is concerned.

    As to ideas, all of us adopt them from other people. As long as we follow and act on them out of free will, they should be considered ours.

    The man is an actor.

    He is a politician – what did you expect?

  • Cookies not Biscuits writes:

    Barack Obama is a gift to the American people and –dare I say– the world. His entire political career for the past year and a half has been astoundingly honest, straightforward, and innovative.

    Well, I respond (on behalf of much of the UK though not me personally): Tony Blair – been there, done that!

    Best regards

  • Gabriel

    The gradualist approach of the statists has proved irresistible, but the cards are being shuffled… that is not a bad thing.

    Hey do you remember when after two decades of temporising, Mugabe decided to go the whole hog and implement Socialism and then in repsonse this grand Libertarian movement emerged, took the country and turned it into a paradise of laissez-faire, with no cholera at all?

    What I’m saying is this: sometimes worse is better, but more often worse is just worse.

  • Laird

    “His entire political career for the past year and a half has been astoundingly honest, straightforward, and innovative.”

    Others have already commented on the “innovative” part of that sentence, so I won’t pile on. But I will make a couple of observations: First, how can one talk about an “entire political career” being in the “past year and a half”? At most you are saying that during the presidential campaign he has been “astoundingly honest”, etc. I suppose that’s true, since for the most part he said nothing of substance (although he said it extraordinarily well). However (and this leads to my second observation), his “entire political career” (16 +/- years in the Illinois legislature and 3+ years in the US Sendate) has been marked by a signal lack of substantive achievement. This is a man who has authored no material legislation and lead no reform movements, to say nothing of the fact that he has never held a managerial position in his life.

    You object to our criticism of his “liberalism”, but that’s all anyone has to go on. The man is a cypher. Obama’s election was truly a triumph of hope; the electorate has accepted him purely on faith. We all hope for the best (that’s all we can do), but based on what record he has there is little reason to be optimistic.

  • This is a man who has authored no material legislation and lead no reform movements, to say nothing of the fact that he has never held a managerial position in his life.

    Heh, sounds like a libertarian’s dream politician:-)

  • Cookies and Biscuits accuses Mr Perry (sic) of “libel”…

    How very Obama of him/her (and indeed “vile”).

    Isn’t that what the Obamadrones did in Missouri?

    Oh and all the rest shows that C&B lives under a bridge and molests Billy Goat Gruff for a living. It’s fucking priceless.

  • Brad

    We will continue on our crash course with destiny here in the US so long as Guns, Gays, and Abortions are the lead reasons people vote. These are the hot-button causes that separate otherwise very similar parties. While people sweat over these causes, that aren’t likely to change a great deal, both sides of the Two Party System created an environment that takes 45% of middle class incomes, returns low grade goods and services in return (and creating an Apparatus a la the USSR filled with loyal apparatchiki’s – people of low to middlin’ quality who are guaranteed jobs at payscales above their worth), and forged a system of Debt so that each household is liened upon for a further $375,000 each (per capita, upper middle class on up of course share a much greater amount pro rata). While people chased the shiny tinsel or the bouncing light on the wall, the Two Parties galvanized a Totalitarian framework economically.

    Every aspect of life is now penetrated offensively with State interference. Now the only question that remains is is this framework forged over the last eight decades actually going into service or not? – to actually make good on all the promises made from the New Deal to the Great Society to Medicare Part D? In true political fashion Statesmen could make all sorts of promises when the lion’s share of the cost was in the future. Now the future is upon us, and ham fisted attempts to make good on just the tip of the iceberg of services has brought the market and economy to the brink of ruin, and now the question has to be faced – are we really going to proceed with this Totalitarian framework, and all the nastiness that goes with it, or are we finally going to get a moment of clarity and undo this framework? My unscientific, man in the street observation tells me that people are so ignorant of what is lying right if front of them that they will choose the darker path.

    People have such a strong faith in their State that when it necessarily begins to persecute a trianbulated minority to make good on its promises, the average joe will go along with it. We have two shining examples from history of total, centralized States, and that is precisely what is needed to make our system work. There is a reason Obama is in favor of a “civilian” domestic force in the scale of the military. THAT is scary in and of itself in that the US has remained relatively free because of the separation of the State and the military, much more so than many other countries born from revolution over the last 200+ years. And to sweep all that away with a Federal Domestic Force on par with the military. It’s all coming into focus. The answer seems “yes, the government is prepared to do exactly what it takes to make good on its promises”.

    The unfortunate thing is that this all could have been undone peacefully over the last few decades, but instead the pedal as slammed to the metal and we rushed headlong into this trap. It’s not about undoing anymore, it is about overthrow. And I’m afraid that the more radical the methods, the longer the road to stability is going to be.

    If only a party could be forged that embraces the swing voters. I think swing voters are made up people who vote defensively and vote for who seems to be less likely to harm them. What better party than one that promises to remove government from their lives on a consistent basis? I think there are dyed-in-the-wool folks on either side who are largely one-cause voters and see the other side as unaccetable. Pro-choice will vote Democrat regardless of fiscal conservative bent, and people who favor “free guns” wil vote Republican even if they have other “socially liberal” views. Put another way, I think the time was fairly ripe to start leaving the hardline Booomers behind. The Red State Stosh’s and Stella’s with their Lawrence Welk view of the world AND the coombyah 60’s crowd are both going to be history soon. The time has come for “moderation” to mean the removal of the State from our lives – over guns, over persecuting gays, over pro-choice, over regulation and taxation – basically forging a consistent role for Government. But unfortunately the Two Party system fractured along hot-button lines long enough for them to solidify their hold on the Beltway. The only way people are going to wake up to a consitently free society free form coercion is learn an abject lesson on what the State is and what it will do to hold on to power.

  • Sam Duncan

    IanB:The trouble with the graph in the link you posted, is that it simply shows the number of Pounds spent by the state. You of all people should know that that isn’t a good measurement of the real size or value of anything.

    This is surely a far better version: government spending as a % of GDP, ie. the size of the state relative to everything else. And it shows that it did shrink in the 1980s. Not by much, but it did. Indeed, only now is it returning to the levels of thirty years ago, along with all the other fun things that didn’t work back then either, like punitive taxation.

    That’ll be this “progress” thing then, CnotB.

  • Sunfish

    He’s Michael Dukakis with melanin and without experience. *yawn.*

    Splodge: what does Obama’s ancestry have to do with anything?

    Perry,
    It’s a lot easier for you to chortle or even rejoice when you don’t have to live here. I’m not going to discuss this in an open forum but I saw something over the weekend to suggest that this is going to get a metric fuckton worse before it gets better.

    But enjoy the laughs.

  • John Thacker

    But guess what, do you actually think McCain would have shrunk the state and lowered the regulatory interference that not so much led to but actually mandated the sub-prime melt down?

    In the agricultural sector? I would have at least expected a few overridden vetoes from Sen. McCain. But since no one actually cares about that part of the state except for people getting the subsidies…

    He’s also been very good about opposing idiotic “Buy American” rules, whether for defense or just for ordinary goods. Of course, as a result I saw all sorts of nasty ads about how unpatriotic his economics were.

    We will continue on our crash course with destiny here in the US so long as Guns, Gays, and Abortions are the lead reasons people vote

    Incorrect. If people don’t vote on Guns, Gays, and Abortions, then we’ll run headlong into socialism much faster. Sen. McCain did not run on Guns, Gays, and Abortions. He far more ran on things that no one cares about, like lifting the sugar tariff from Brazil and being against ag subsidies, or things that people are against, like a more sensible somewhat more free market health insurance system, than he ever mentioned Guns, Gays, and Abortions.

  • Sunfish wrote:

    Perry, It’s a lot easier for you to chortle or even rejoice when you don’t have to live here. [...] But enjoy the laughs.

    I respect the opinion of Sunfish rather a lot. However, it is no laugh here in the UK at the moment: our accommodation market is ******* (that’s having a roof over one’s head – or even trying to provide one for others), our pension schemes are ********, our currency is ********, and some total ****** (several in fact: those one thought in charge, and elected, paid and empowered for same) excuse it by saying it is all the fault of the USA (or just about anyone and everyone else but their own judgement and policy).

    Now, are we on the same side or not?

    Best regards

  • It’s a lot easier for you to chortle or even rejoice when you don’t have to live here.

    The economic meltdown that is just starting to roll is global in scale, so do not imagine that when the USA, which is in many ways the engine of the world economy, well and truly tanks, that the pain will not get widely distributed across the globe. Moreover we have a merchantalist oaf in power here too and he too thinks you can print and spend a nation out of economic disaster.

  • Eric

    Perry, I never had you pegged as such an optimist! The problem I see is the schools no longer teach history or what they used to call “civics”. You’re right, Obama is a run-of-the-mill European-style socialist. But to many (sadly, most) Americans, this is truly innovative stuff.

    IMHO we took a disastrous turn more than 100 years ago with compulsory state education – the sorts of people who gravitate to the state’s education bureaucracy tend to find collectivism comfortable, and that attitude sinks in to their charges.

    I fear for the future. Socialism is just so much more facile than individualism. Somebody is hungry? Give him money. Business failing? Bail it out. No jobs? Create busy-work projects. Failures can be blamed on imperfect execution. How many times have we heard “the Soviet Union wasn’t really a Marxist state” from the left, with the implication Communism could work if only it were done correctly?

  • Alsadius

    If Bush had been a Democrat in name, I’d fully agree with you. Problem is, he was a Republican, and thus the Dems will campaign against him for the next 30 years, same as they did with Hoover. Few blame FDR for the bulk of the Depression, and few will blame Obama for the bulk of this one, no matter how bad it gets.

    Also, I find it hard to cheer for the US getting smacked around for a decade or two – I don’t seem to recall good times being had by anyone last time that happened.

  • Laird

    I think Alsadius is right. Bush II was the perfect “Republican” (from the Left’s perspective) to have been in office while we went off the rails. They’ll be playing that card for the next two generations, at least. If we ever recover, I won’t live to see it.

    There’s an old saying that “the US sneezes and Europe catches a cold.” Well, we’re coming down with pneumonia. That bodes ill for you over there.

  • Sunfish

    Perry and Nigel:

    Two things.

    1) This is part of what irritates so many people about libertarians[1]: this apparent desire to evaluate, assess, and view the world in terms of economics. Not everything can be expressed in terms of where wealth accumulates and how it moves. And I wasn’t talking about the economy crapping the bed at all. Which brings me to…

    2) I can’t go into much more detail without either giving up who I really am[2] or giving up information that isn’t really mine to give up. So, I withdraw the point.

    [1] Or whatever whoever is calling himself this week. Our labeling is starting to sound like the Judean People’s Front. Except I’m apparently the Popular Front.

    [2] No, I’m not some sort of Jack Bauer secret squirrel CTU spy drinking buddy of James Bond and neither Mike Myers nor Michael Caine will play me in the movie. I’m just some random patrol fairy who works in a place where we’re expected to not have opinions and certainly in front of the public.

  • This is part of what irritates so many people about libertarians[1]: this apparent desire to evaluate, assess, and view the world in terms of economics.

    I evaluate the world in terms of liberty. That of course has a huge impact on economics. The big economic pile of poop we are in is a consequence of the lack of liberty pertaining most places.

  • Perry,
    I think you’re central thesis here is wrong.

    You seem to assume that when the wheel finally comes off that things will fall out pro-liberty.

    Well, it’s gonna be a bit like a revolution. God knows who will end-up at the top of the pile.

    And frankly I suspect there’s a very good chance that whoever it is will in fact be worse than this lot.

  • Paul Marks

    In defence of President Elect Obama…… (I never thought I would type the words “in defence of” Comrade Barack).

    Anyway, if government is going to give money to the leading corporations (anything is a “bank” these days) surely it has a right to tell them what to do.

    Of course it is not the government’s money (even the money they print or issue via computers means the money left in the taxpayers wallets is worth less than it would have been) and sure they are going to order about companies they do NOT give money to……..

    But the principle seems plausible.

    “Corporate America” (people do not tend to draw distinctions between one company and another) is getting a massive series of bailout orgies (they must get tired after awhile – but they always seem to be up for another bailout orgy), so Corporate America will do what the government tells it to do.

    For the “good of the people” of course.

    Whether it be Fascism or Socialism (or whatever) we must remember that it was not President Elect Obama who set the stage for this (he is just taking advantage of it) – the man who set the stage for this is, of course, Bush-brain.

  • Tedd McHenry

    I’m jumping in a bit late here, but, Ian B, the chart you link to looks quite different if you re-plot “public spending” as a proportion of GDP. On that basis, after a rise in the 60s and 70s, it has returned to early post-WWII-era levels. I expect that’s why we hear so much moaning from certain quarters about government “cut-backs.”

    I’m not defending the growth of the leviathan. Pre-WWII levels would be better, and pre-WWI levels better still. I’m just saying, I think proportion of GDP may be a more meaningful way of looking at it than absolute numbers.

  • Paul Marks

    What graphs are you looking at Tedd McHenry?

    “Early post World War II levels” – i.e. before the Korean War.

    Well government spending (Federal, State and local) was under 25% of G.D.P. as late as 1950 (in spite of Marshall Plan aid to Europe) – errr it is not down there now.

    There was a massive decline in defence spending (as proportion of the economy) after 1968 – Nixon, Ford, Cater, Bush I, and Clinton all hit defence (Reagan did not).

    So that may twist the stats a bit (although not as much as you imply).

    As for the entitlement programs and other such – they have been on a hard track up and up (whether measured as a percentage of G.D.P. or any other way).

  • Paul Marks

    By the way “G.D.P.” is a terrible way to measure the economy (for various reasons) – but that is another topic.

  • Paul Marks

    To be fair to Tedd McHenry:

    I have seen some wildly wrong stats quoted for government spending as a proportion of G.D.P in the United States – and in “respectable sources” to. Such as my least favourate magazine (sorry “newspaper”).