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Samizdata quote of the day

Romney is no Thatcher – in truth, he’s far from it. It made sense for the unemployed back then to vote Thatcher because she offered an alternative to the headlong rush to destruction. Sadly, Romney may be correct – what sense would it make for today’s unemployed to vote for a marginally slower slide into the abyss?

- Samizdata commenter ‘the other rob’

20 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Well, I think the question answers itself. If you were sliding towards an abyss, and your only choice was quicker or slower, which would you choose? Slower. Unless you have given up and just want to die.

    I’m not saying that slower is the ideal arrangement. Just slightly less bad.

    That’s what sense it makes. And I’d go further. Once you have realised that there is indeed an abyss on the way, it makes extremely little sense to answer the question the other way.

    The serious point is that slower at least gives you, and the universe, more time, to provide an answer, or some luck, or something.

    Thatcher was no “Thatcher” either, to begin with. She became Thatcher, under the pressure of events, and because she gave some thought beforehand to the decisions she would be forced to make as Prime Minister. Time changed her, for the better.

    Maybe, maybe, time will improve Romney too. He has improved a bit already, I would say. While you are slowly sliding towards that abyss, rather than after you have quickly given up and fallen into it, Romney may become “Thatcher” too.

    I’m not saying it will happen, merely that it might.

    I thought about including stuff like the above, about Thatcher not starting out as Thatcher, in the original posting this comment was attached to, but I felt that enough was enough.

  • I’m not saying that slower is the ideal arrangement. Just slightly less bad.

    That is a bit like saying a slow lingering death is better than quick death. Not really. The world is not going to end in fire, it is just the current world order of regulatory statism and crony ‘capitalism’ that is going to collapse, taking everyone else down with it… and the sooner that happens, the sooner the world can start working towards something that is hopefully better.

  • Perry Metzger

    “Well, I think the question answers itself. If you were sliding towards an abyss, and your only choice was quicker or slower, which would you choose? Slower. Unless you have given up and just want to die.”

    That presumes that the majority understands that Panem et Circenses is not sustainable. I believe that looting has become a way of life at this point. Social Security and Medicare cannot be reformed because of the millions of elderly who will vote against any attempt to alter their benefits in any way other than to increase them. Few on food stamps will ever vote against food stamps.

    The majority of US citizens are now net consumers of taxes, and they are absolutely convinced they’re entitled to the earnings of others and will never vote to change that. I believe we’ve hit the point of no return.

    The US founders, of course, anticipated this when they created a republic and not a democracy. However, a couple of centuries of propaganda have eliminated even the memory that the goal was liberty, not democracy, and that elections were only as a tool to assure good governance. We have lost track of the fact that the founders were fully aware of how democracies had repeatedly failed once the majority realized it could vote itself bread and circuses at the expense of others, and sought to explicitly guard against that. The expression of will of the majority was not only not the goal, but actually was an object of scorn and fear.

    When the majority are looters, the way to get elected is to promise ever greater amounts of looting. The future, when it comes, will be ugly, but who needs to think of the future when there is ripe plunder to be taken today? Even the God of the Looters, Keynes, told us that “In the long run, we’re all dead”.

  • Perry Metzger

    I agree with you that the question of whether enough people think an abyss is indeed coming is crucial. At present most seem not to. And it’s exactly the same here in Britain.

    But what happens to this argument when there is a widespread perception that there is an abyss coming towards us, and we’ll all fall into it unless far more drastic things are done than are being even contemplated now. At that point, as I discussed (somewhat confusingly but I tried) in the earlier posting, the incentives for everyone, including tax-gobblers, change.

    The point being that today’s (American) unemployed, or tax-gobblers or whatever they are, are not, in their own minds, about to vote for “a marginally slower slide into the abyss”. We may see it that way. They mostly don’t. They are voting for money-for-nothing (or for not enough – I don’t know the details), as per usual. Once that perception changes, then the whole game changes.

    Again with my British recollections. A precondition for Thatcher becoming Thatcher (see above) was a widespread belief that Britain was about to stop being Britain and to become Argentina, and then not very long after that to become hell on earth. As Thatcher’s (Labour) Prime Ministerial predecessor: “we can’t go on like this”.

    Many (most?) American tax-gobblers now seem to imagine that America now can carry on dishing out free stuff to them, with no consequences, even for the stream of free stuff in the longer term future. If those tax-gobblers change their minds about that, things change, big time. They will, at some point, because that is the truth of the matter.

    And at some point before America actually hurtles into the abyss, the tax gobblers will get it, just as (enough) British tax-gobblers (and trade unionised parasites) did in the early 1980s. These American tax-gobblers may yell that it’s all a dirty trick by the rich, and they will have a point. But they will start seriously losing their free stuff, and there will be no-one to vote for to get their free stuff back to its previous levels. At that point the cent, so to speak, might drop in their heads. And then, like I say, it all changes.

    Summary: Romney (or whoever is in office when the proverbial hits the fan) “becomes Thatcher”.

    Or else he, or someone, becomes Lenin. When we are in the abyss, politics doesn’t stop. Decision still get made. They could be good decisions, or very very bad ones.

  • Brian, The problem with your theory is incentives change with time. If I have only 15 years to live then a slower slide into the abysss, slower by say 15 years, is perfect for me. Why would I vote to suffer for the last 15 years of my life?

    For the sake of the grandchildren? Perhaps, perhaps not, and perhaps my children (their parents) vote for me to keep my benefits in my interest guessing that they have time to look after the grandchildren. Maybe they are right.

  • RRS

    There does seem to be a misconception of the motivations of the Americans who will vote.

    Many on food stamps and other programs will vote for the chance of an administration that will remove or relieve the conditions that make it necessary to be on those programs.

    It is myopia to scale the votes of the “unemployed” in terms of a perceived abyss. The judgment or motivations will be toward what they think can be done, by whom, toward altering the present conditions – not some “rate of change.”

    There is a tendency to conflate what seems economically determinable with what is electorally determinable.

  • ragingnick

    the notion of a collapse or “slide into the abyss” followed by a new and improved world order is just rehashed marxist dialectical thinking aka progressivism.

    to say that a march into the abyss is ‘inevitable’ is also a rehashed version of marxist historical determinism – the only thing that would make such a slide (almost) inevitable would be the re-elction of the Kenyan communist Obama.

  • Robbo

    Of course not all of the 47% are committed Dems. Many are retired, many others want a change in order to have a beter chance to get another job. But when trying to gin up donations, it is a natural temptation to draw things as black as you dare. Let’s not get carried away.

  • the other rob

    At the risk of allowing my first ever appearance in SQOTD to go to my head, I have a few thoughts.

    Brian’s point about Thatcher becoming Thatcher is a good one, which deserves a reply. My gut feeling is that the grocer’s daughter started from a place from which it was possible to become Thatcher. Romney, on the other hand, sets out from a very different place; he is the child of a machine that is the co-dependent counterpart of Obama’s Democrat machine. I doubt that he could ever become Romney, let alone Thatcher.

    The debate over whether marginally slower is better, aside from being a classic “lesser of two evils trap”, reminds me of the old joke about the Alabama state trooper, who pulls a chap over for running a stop sign. The driver says “But Officer, I slowed down. What’s the difference?”. The trooper proceeds to beat him about the head with his nightstick, while asking “Now, Sir: would you prefer me to slow down or stop?”

    Finally, this conversation, together with my decision to vote Johnson in November, has prompted me to consider something about my own political evolution.

    As a young and naive man, I “knew” what was right and voted accordingly. As I grew older and more sophisticated, I discovered such things as tactical voting and a perceived duty to support the election of the least-worst option with the best chance of victory, regardless of how slim the differences might be.

    Now, middle-aged and faced with the consequences of those decades of “enlightened pragmatism”, I once again find myself voting my conscience, while turning a deaf ear to the blandishments of the machine. I have a vague notion that this sounds like some Buddhist proverb, or something.

  • Two comments:

    1. The journey towards the abyss. Only a fool wouldn’t want to slow the progress towards the pit, and it’s easier to stop or change direction when you’re going more slowly. And I’m heartily sick of that analogy, so ’nuff said there.

    2. I think people are underestimating the depth and passion of the Tea Party movement. In ordinary times, the incumbent President has an easy time of it when going for his second term.

    These are not ordinary times.

    If Romney doesn’t implement change quickly enough, then he WILL face a Republican primary challenger in four years. His opponent may well be his current running mate, or a complete outsider like Rand Paul.

    You heard it here first.

  • Alisa

    I will precede my question by mentioning the fact that I am the proverbial undecided here, and looking for any clues to help me make a decision…

    Kim: your point begs the question why then didn’t he face such a challenger in these last primaries, and what do you think will change in the next ones?

  • the only thing that would make such a slide (almost) inevitable would be the re-elction of the Kenyan communist Obama.

    Or the election of a statist like Mitt RomneyCare.

    *That* is why folks like me think it is inevitable. The two main parties are largely fungible and thus it is not “rehashed marxist dialectical thinking”, it is just the screamingly obvious point that there is no politically effective party at the moment (i.e this side of said abyss) whose policies are not in favour of trying to preserve the Ponzi status quo.

    Question for ragingnick: will a President Romney Administration reduce the size of the government to even that of the bloated size it was when George Bush left office? What do you reckon? No prize for guessing what I think.

  • 1. The journey towards the abyss. Only a fool wouldn’t want to slow the progress towards the pit, and it’s easier to stop or change direction when you’re going more slowly. And I’m heartily sick of that analogy, so ’nuff said there.

    No Kim, ’nuff not said. The trouble with your whole line of thinking is that you are actively working against solutions (not heading towards the abyss) and actively supporting the same course of action (heading towards the abyss, just slower) by making it clear that regardless of what you really want, you will still vote for statists whose entire political career has been about increasing the state but just making sure it appeals to people who are pro-Republican more than people who are pro-Democrat.

  • Snorri Godhi

    The problem with the the “Romney is no Thatcher” camp is that, not only Thatcher was no Thatcher at first, but that even when Thatcher became Thatcher, she only brought about a small and temporary reversal of the slide towards the abyss.
    If you prefer a quick death to a slow death, then Romney is actually better than Thatcher.
    If you don’t want to die, then vote with your feet, or at least be prepared to.

  • Romney’s biggest problem is that he comes across as oblivious and detached. It is pretty amazing but Republicans have managed to nominate someone with less of a “common touch” than McCain.

  • RRS

    In all these screeds about

    “the journey toward the abyss”

    Are we ( U S & U K) being “driven,” “led,” “sucked along,” (by some vacuum) or is there some failure of the “public” to recognize or acknowledge that there IS an abyss that is deepening and widening because the public failures?

  • RRS. I think it is as simple as so many people are now net tax recipients and the vast size of the regulatory state as become so ‘normalised’ in most people’s minds that to argue for any policies that could realistically turn things around places you on the ‘lunatic fringe’.

    For example arguing against the existence of the NHS in the UK is something you simply cannot do in the media and to some extent, not even in ‘polite society’.

    That is why I cannot see the politics changing until things quite literally collapse. Not sure what that will look like of course… Weimar Germany perhaps? Your guess is as good as mine.

  • RRS

    PdeH-

    Yes, the picture is “backlit,” by the conditions you note.
    Perhaps you saw my post from Greg Manikew’s blog that confirms (in the U S) the statistics. If you didn’t, it’s at 01:26 p m under Brian’s post on rational voting, just below this thread.

    But, note my close – at least for the U S.

    I don’t think people want “gifts” paid for with “stolen money.” But, even Ross Perot could not get across to enough of the public: ” They’r bribin’ ya with y’r own money!”

    The backlight will go out (as Margaret Thatcher said) when ” you run out of other peoples’ money.”

    I do think that my grand children (mid-20s) will live to see the changes in the form and substance of the U S Government, probably something similar to the Napoleonic structure for France, with another major conflict before we see a drive (again probably) from the U S for ” Universal Empire.”

    However revivals have occurred

  • Paul Marks

    If people wish for battle and war, for the time of blowing off heads and cutting throats, then let Comrade Barack.

    Perry is sincere – he is ready to, if need be, die in battle.

    Other people must ask themselves if they are prepared to that.

    Of course it may not come to that – Comrade Barack may allow States (such as Texas) to peacefully secede from the Union (say after the 2014 “midterm” elections – when the economy will have already collapsed).

    But he may not.

  • Paul Marks

    If people wish for battle and war, for the time of blowing off heads and cutting throats, then let Comrade Barack.

    Perry is sincere – he is ready to, if need be, die in battle.

    Other people must ask themselves if they are prepared to that.

    Of course it may not come to that – Comrade Barack may allow States (such as Texas) to peacefully secede from the Union (say after the 2014 “midterm” elections – when the economy will have already collapsed).

    But he may not.