<$BlogRSDUrl$>

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The choice 


Daniel Henninger puts it rather succinctly this morning:

If the Obama presidency didn't exist, we would have to invent it.

At a time when the American people need to make some decisions about the nation's purpose, along comes Barack Obama to make the choices crystal clear.

In one corner of the world you have Europe, beset by a sovereign debt crisis that's been building for 50 years. The U.K.'s new prime minister, David Cameron, promises his people years of austerity to dig out from beneath their debt. Americans, staring at fiscal crevasses opening across Europe, have to decide if they also wish to spend the next 50 years laboring mainly to produce tax revenue to pay for public workers' pensions and other public promises. The private sector would exist for the public sector.

In another corner of the world, wealth is rising from the emerging economies of the east—China, India, Korea and the rest—posing America's greatest economic challenge in anyone's lifetime. Do the American people want to throw in the towel, or do they want to compete? If the latter, the public sector has to give way to the private sector.

One or the other. It's time to choose.

Here's another way to think of it: Are we going to invest in people who produce more than they consume -- or at least will do -- or the other way around? Will we, as a culture, still honor people who make a substantive contribution to the national wealth (whether through the building of great businesses or the proud and competent execution of a job in one of those businesses), or will the therapy society's prurient interest in tragedy, failure, incompetence and pathology transform in to permanent government subsidy of those conditions?

Discuss among yourselves.

25 Comments:

By Blogger DM, at Thu Jul 29, 08:10:00 AM:

This conflict comes to mind quite often - I think of it in two ways;

1. Unfortunately, it will be difficult to have a truly economically conservative leader in the developed world - imagine the chances of a Thatcher coming into power in the US? There's a great quote somewhere (and I can't be rooted to google :p) that suggests the voting public will vote for as much benefit for themselves from the public purse as they can - until it collapses. How long before the Tories reverse and spend for votes? It's like excessive leverage in the financial markets - probably doesn't bode well for the future, but if every other organisation is doing it you have to go along. Nobody expects individuals to vote for a party that will spend less on them than the other party - which is of course unfortunate.

2. The flip side - thank god - is money. The people who produce more than they consume (which is a particularly apt way to put it) will always exist for their own self-interest.

Just my two cents :)  

By Anonymous Ignoramus, at Thu Jul 29, 10:08:00 AM:

"Are we going to invest in people who produce more than they consume"

I wouldn't frame the "big issue" this way. It's scary wrong in several respects, and even sounds fascist. Nor would I frame it as "the American people need to make some decisions about the nation's purpose." I thought that in the USA the citizen-state thing was supposed to work the other way round. Or do we dislike "ordered system of individual liberty" as much as those on the left. Or am I just ignorant naive?

****

The next few years will be about political re-alignment. There's a few big fault lines that should come into play -- but the two parties don't match the fault lines. There's a few wild cards and jokers in the deck, so the outcome is indeterminate -- the future isn't written.

One fault line is "those who get government checks" vs "those who pay for them." There's an overlay on this: are you part of the Big Government - Big Business Borg or not? ... Goldman traders want to be part of the Borg -- good work if you can get it. Much of our private sector is actually tied at the tit to the federal government.

The Tea Party isn't a party. It's just the activist fringe for one-third of our electorate who mostly don't care about politics but are now being forced to pay attention. Obama & Co have a terrible blindspot on this. Their new strategy is to tie the Tea Party to the Republican Party and run against them both -- so they're just asking to lose the Independent vote 2 to 1.

"Washington DC" vs "the rest of us" is another fault line. They've got the guns, but we've got the numbers. Many of our Republican Congress-critters went native years ago.

"Old" vs "Young" is another. The Young may or may not achieve class consciousness.

MSM has mostly frustrated narratives that reflect these fault lines. But MSM is going broke and is badly discredited.

One big potential fault line is Men vs. Women. To refine this further, Old Women aren't that much different from Old Men. Blacks don't segment at all. Young Men and Young Women are fuzzy, at least to me -- I think they become a voting block together, or don't factor at all.

Which leaves "White Men 30-59" and "White Women 30-59". Obama has lost the former for Democrats, perhaps for a generation -- hence Jim Webb's recent primal scream.

Which is why Obama is on The View today.

More women work in Education and Healthcare, and so are part of the Borg. Women tend to have less tolerance for risk and uncertainty -- don't believe me? ... ask an insurance agent.

But do "White Women 30-59" feel aggrieved? Obama may push his Payroll Fairness Act to bait this demographic.

Going into the November mid-terms the Democrats have already lost "White Men 30-59" -- if they don't do well with "White Women 30-59" they'll get killed.

After November it should really get interesting, as we're likely to get at least a few big shocks that will bring fault lines into play. Developing ....  

By Blogger Bomber Girl, at Thu Jul 29, 11:14:00 AM:

WW30-59 seeking candidates who are budget conscious, pro-business, and anti-state encroachment into private lives. Familiarity with weapons, a plus.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Jul 29, 11:30:00 AM:

'Discuss among yourselves.'???

TH: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_bDCDfYlZbg  

By Blogger Progressively Defensive, at Thu Jul 29, 11:35:00 AM:

Contrary to Ignoramus, I think you put it wonderfully Mr. Tigerhawk [I know there is no Mr. Tigerhawk]. I can see why Ignoramus finds it inapt given his reluctance to see how horrible Obama's administration is for the USA on every level.

In fact, I think the opposite point of view is the fascist one [refer would you to Goldberg's Liberal Fascism and Rand's The Fountainhead]. Fascists attain and retain power by taking from hard-working and well-behaved citizens and giving "bread and circuses" to wretched parasitic consumers. This can be directly via welfare or "unemployment insurance" without end or subtly via civil service jobs that pay 100% more than those workers could get in the marketplace, have virtually no effective supervision of job performance, invite corruption through negligence, and provide lucrative pensions at 20 years (38 years old for those who begin at 18). It's Greece's way.

That was also the 70s USA which Obama's policies without check would reconfigure - worse quickly enough. But government that invests in producers, 9-5+ naturally, who return home to enjoy life and to raise a next generation of even more effective producers is good governing; governing the leeches despise because it indentifies their actual purpose rather than the pretense to social justice.  

By Blogger Progressively Defensive, at Thu Jul 29, 11:40:00 AM:

DM: Good points. I think Thatcher would win in a landslide today in the USA anyway. Palin with the excellent political mind.

Ignoramus: maybe I mis-read you. But I think Mr. Tigerhawk hit the nail on the head with his take.  

By Blogger MTF, at Thu Jul 29, 11:43:00 AM:

Bomber Girl, you win "post of the month".

American voters have only part of the clarity of choice they need. Henninger is right that Obama is doing his level best to make the statist, fascist argument as clearly as he can. On the other side we see only the beginnings, with Paul Ryan, Chris Christie (maybe) and Mitch Daniels. At my age I shouldn't wish for time to move faster but if only we were already into the campaign season of 2012, then the rhetoric would ratchet up from both sides. My great fear is that the Democrats will primary Obama, with Hillary (who is nothing more than a more guileful Barack Obama) and we will lose the clear choice we need. One thing I hope to see in the GOP platform is a proposed Constitutional amendment making the 10th amendment even more starkly clear (as if one declarative sentence isn't already clear!).  

By Blogger Progressively Defensive, at Thu Jul 29, 11:43:00 AM:

DM: But where will the producers reside and how hard will they work? USA, USA, USA! [So far; there's some competition out there.]  

By Anonymous Ignoramus, at Thu Jul 29, 11:50:00 AM:

"given his reluctance to see how horrible Obama's administration is for the USA on every level."

WTF? Do you know what I've said about Obama here?  

By Anonymous Sarah from Wasilla, at Thu Jul 29, 12:35:00 PM:

"WW30-59 seeking candidates who are budget conscious, pro-business, and anti-state encroachment into private lives. Familiarity with weapons, a plus. "

BomberGirl, I'm you're girl! You just don't realize it yet.  

By Anonymous Sarah from Wasilla, at Thu Jul 29, 12:35:00 PM:

"WW30-59 seeking candidates who are budget conscious, pro-business, and anti-state encroachment into private lives. Familiarity with weapons, a plus. "

BomberGirl, I'm you're girl! You just don't realize it yet.  

By Blogger Escort81, at Thu Jul 29, 01:13:00 PM:

There is this video of the former VP candidate, but Bomber Girl might be looking for a more diverse set of weapons experience.  

By Blogger Gary Rosen, at Fri Jul 30, 01:42:00 AM:

"refer would you to Goldberg's Liberal Fascism and Rand's The Fountainhead"

Oh noes, da Joooos! Can't you tell?  

By Blogger Gary Rosen, at Fri Jul 30, 01:44:00 AM:

"WTF? Do you know what I've said about Obama here?"

Ig, PD has spent considerable effort here to prove he's worthy of your pseudonym.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Jul 30, 07:39:00 AM:

Americans will do what they have always done - try to have their cake and eat it too - pushing the bill onto the next generation.  

By Anonymous Ignoramus, at Fri Jul 30, 08:29:00 AM:

"pushing the bill onto the next generation"
But the bill is now too big. Strange things happen when you go past billions into the trillions.
Every American kid is now born with the equivalent of a mortgage to pay off. But the amount is variable -- if you earn more, your mortgage payment will be a lot more, because of progressive taxation. Unless you wind up earning a lot -- or inherit enough to cover your mortgage -- it's not worth trying hard.

That's if you can get a job. If you're coming out of school you need to find a slot in the Borg, else you have limited prospects.
Also, expect the Borg to have more racial and gender-based quotas. In practice these quotas don't promote social mobility -- they actually have the opposite effect.

So how's that hope and change working out for you.
The Young may achieve class consciousness and reject this. I expect they will, but it may take a long time.  

By Blogger Noumenon, at Fri Jul 30, 09:26:00 AM:

I can explain why "those who consume more than they produce" reminds ignoramus of fascism -- it includes senior citizens, children, and the unwell, the people Hitler used to call "useless eaters."

"Those who produce more than they consume" doesn't sound as bad but kind of reminds me of the diamond-water paradox. You can work all day to carry food and water to your family and still produce less than you consume, or you can dig up and sell a shiny rock and be praised as a "producer."  

By Anonymous Ignoramus, at Fri Jul 30, 10:13:00 AM:

The "useless eaters" reference was exactly my point.

Also, not everyone in the Big Government - Big Business Borg is a Producer ... many are Presiders ... some are very well paid Presiders. Witness Michelle's stint in the private sector. We'll see more of this, I fear.

Here's another example: the infamous "Kelo v City of New London" Fifth Amendment takings case. One way to read that opinion is that it just reads the words "for public purpose" out of the Constitution. The other is worse: that it's an OK public purpose for New London to drive land-owning citizens like the Kelos out of town just to get a better class of taxpayer.

This all goes to the chicken and egg problem: which comes first ... we citizens ... or the state.

There's an interesting interview of Congressman Paul Ryan by Glen Beck from April 2010 that gets into this:

"PAUL RYAN: Where we raise our family, 35 miles from Madison. I grew up hearing about this stuff. This stuff came from these German intellectuals to Madison‑University of Wisconsin and sort of out there from the beginning of the last century. So this is something we are familiar with where I come from. It never sat right with me. And as I grew up, I learned more about the founders and reading the Austrians and others that this is really a cancer because it basically takes the notion that our rights come from God and nature and turns it on its head and says, no, no, no, no, no, they come from government, and we here in government are here to give you your rights and therefore ration, redistribute and regulate your rights. It's a complete affront of the whole idea of this country and that is to me what we as conservatives, or classical liberals if you want to get technical. "

Source: http://www.glennbeck.com/content/articles/article/196/39068/  

By Anonymous Ignoramus, at Fri Jul 30, 11:05:00 AM:

Re: Those who produce / those who consume

Why do some people get paid a lot?

1) They have unique skills. E.g., LeBron James. Sometimes this is "artificial" or "dumb luck", in which case economists call the excess earnings a "rent." LeBron would still be playing basketball, even if we raised his marginal tax rate to 90%. So some think you can raise taxes on other high earners without adverse effect.

2) Reward for individual effort -- Classic Producers. Think anyone on commission. If you raise my rates too much, I'll just work less. Some think that this is a good outcome in its own right. Why have one high-earning sales guy when you could have two mediocre sales guys? If you think this way, you've never worked in a competitive environment.

3) Reward for risk. If you tax this too much, you kill innovation and stifle change. You push smart investors to bunt singles and short-term speculation. Crazy entrepreneurs don't get funded. Long-term this is the difference between 2-3% GDP growth and 3-4% GDP growth -- which means everything. In the private sector, if you have a good track record of making capital allocation decisions you'll often get more money to work with -- but only if you have skin in the game. It doesn't work that way in the public sector.

4) For giving a shit. Managers at companies in competitive environments are paid to care. These jobs can be ball-breaking. Think of the difference between the experience of many BP workers over the last few months and the experience of their analogues in government. If people aren't paid well, they'll stop giving a shit. If no one gives a shit, then we all have a problem.

5) They've got juice. They owe their position to connections -- Classic Presiders. Unfortunately, the numbers in this rank are growing. Especially inside the Beltway.  

By Blogger Progressively Defensive, at Fri Jul 30, 10:50:00 PM:

Ignoramus et al.

If you look, I corrected myself immediately before your WTF? comment. I admited I mis-read you before you got upset for having mis-read you.

Rosen, you are such a baby - sore loser.  

By Anonymous Ignoramus, at Sat Jul 31, 08:31:00 AM:

You completely mischaracterized my positions on Obama. In that light "maybe I mis-read you" is not an acceptable correction.

You're a waste of time.  

By Blogger Gary Rosen, at Sat Jul 31, 07:35:00 PM:

What exactly have I lost? You must tell me so I can look for it bwahahahaha.  

By Blogger Progressively Defensive, at Sun Aug 01, 11:42:00 AM:

Ignoramus:

I did not incorporate your history of posts into my critique, but I don't think I completely mischaracterized your position in your post here. Please see below:

I quote you, Ignoramus: "I wouldn't frame the "big issue" this way. It's scary wrong in several respects, and even sounds fascist. Nor would I frame it as "the American people need to make some decisions about the nation's purpose." I thought that in the USA the citizen-state thing was supposed to work the other way round. Or do we dislike "ordered system of individual liberty" as much as those on the left. Or am I just ignorant naive?"

You asked the question to which the answer involves your view of the quality of the Obama administration; and then maintain indignation at getting an answer. Directly answering you, I think you are ignorant and naive as to "how horrible Obama's administration is" and I wrote so. Should Obama be successful, the USA could pass a "tipping point" where-by too many consumers have a stake in insidiously destructive policies that benefit them. It would become intransigently like France or worse Greece. It happens in many northern USA cities, Detroit, New York, Philadelphia, etc.  

By Blogger Progressively Defensive, at Sun Aug 01, 11:48:00 AM:

Rosen: "refer would you to Goldberg's Liberal Fascism and Rand's The Fountainhead"

Oh noes, da Joooos! Can't you tell?

---

Rosen, if you maintain some level of lucidity however briefly, you'll see I refered favorably to Mr. Goldberg and Ms. Rand. I like many Jews. I judge people based on their behavior to the best of my ability.

Have you thought of spending some time in a mental institution? They'll help you there.  

By Blogger Gary Rosen, at Sun Aug 01, 03:55:00 PM:

" I like many Jews."

Right, some of your best friends are Jews ...

"Have you thought of spending some time in a mental institution?"

Only if I had some burning desire to meet you, which I don't.  

Post a Comment


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?