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I Have Never Been So Depressed about the State of Government in My Life

This pretty much says it all:

I’ve been pretty much ignoring this fucking sideshow. Why? Because either it will pass, and thus confirm the fecklessness, cowardice, and moral vacuity of most of our elected officials; or it will fail by the narrowest of margins, which simply means that the thieves couldn’t agree on how to split up the booty. Tax-paying citizens protest outside in their thousands; inside the chamber, the Representatives dismiss them as “tea-baggers” and chortle to themselves how they can make up their own rules.

I have never been so depressed about the state of my government in my life, not even during the worst moments of the Iraq War. At least then I had the sense that our concerns were being listened to (if not agreed with). Now? Our nation is being led by three people — Obama, Pelosi, and Reid — who seem to feel that the 2008 vote granted them the power to act by imperial edict and bureaucratic fiat.

My gloom isn’t founded in this particular bill, per se: it is another outrage piled on top of many others, but life will go on. But something has been broken during this process that won’t go together again. It’s not simply the urge of many democrats towards the institution of tyrannical rule by “soft” despots; it’s not simply the inability of our political system to react to the will of the people rather than pressure by victim-groups. No, it’s a breaking of a belief I’ve always had that Americans mostly want the same things, that whatever the means we want pretty much the same ends — a ‘good life’, and an ability to control our own destinies and profit from the fruits of our own labors. To make our own way in society as our desires and skills allow.

The past couple of years have broken that implicit contract Americans have always lived by. Democrats will insist that it was done in the name of brotherhood and mercy for the poor and sick, but the reality is that it was done for the usual reasons: greed, fear, arrogance, and the will to power. Oh, there will be a thin wallpaper of process and rules over the filthy lies and deal-making, but it will fool no one. The murder was committed in broad daylight, and in front of millions of witnesses.

At some point the breaking-strain will be reached. I don’t know when — people are able to delude themselves for a long time that things aren’t really as bad as they are. Tyrannies can persist for years, even decades. However strong they look on the surface, though, the rot once begun is very hard to reverse. It eats away at the foundations until the whole structure topples.

Americans are divided so fundamentally on basic issues that I don’t see how we can continue as we are indefinitely. We are not a “people” united by a common set of beliefs. We are a huge collection of warring factions, interest-groups, and ideological philosophies. Our main point of cohesion in times past was our Constitution, but even that is now broken. A house divided against itself cannot stand, as both Jesus and Abraham Lincoln understood.

It will come to bloodletting, I think; there can be no other way. The tyrant’s final legacy is always coercion and force, and a free man’s response to such a thing is — it must be — to resist that force by all means necessary.

Posted by: Monty at March 21, 2010 11:31 AM

More:

Hell even I,pessimist and cynic that I am allowed myself to believe healthcare was dead.

Not me. The Democrats will not have another opportunity like this for another generation at least: supermajorities in both House and Senate, and a far-left Democrat President. That’s why they’re trying to run the table now; they know full well that they may not ever have another chance like this one to push the liberal wish-list into law.

This is what conservatives didn’t understand until recently. Many on the left are completely willing to take a drubbing in 2010 as long as the liberal apparatus is set up, because while political fortunes may wax and wane, entitlement programs are forever once enacted. And when the wheel turns in 2012 or 2016, liberals will come back to the fold to find their favorite programs still in place.

This is called “the liberal ratchet effect”.

I suspect that only a huge and systemic social/ecnomic failure would motivate the people to reverse these programs: Medicare, Medicaid, public pensions, and now (apparently) a public health system. But the costs of that kind of collapse are grievous; it’s possible that America as a political entity would not survive it.

Posted by: Monty at March 21, 2010 11:56 AM

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The first internecene war I forsee in the coming years is the old against the young. Retired Americans are going to be drawing far more, per capita, from the various entitlement programs than they ever put in. Medicaid will bankrupt the states as inevitably as the sunrise (and the current bill actually makes that problem worse by increasing the state funding for Medicaid). Medicare and Social Security will gobble up ever increasing percentages of the US GDP. The only answer is to reduce the entitlements or somehow manufacture an enormous amount of new wealth. And since the latter option is highly unlikely, that leaves only cuts to benefits and higher taxes.

Grammy and Grampy are going to fight like demons to keep their entitlements. Politicians are scared of them because they vote. Companies like them because they tend to have money to spend. But to keep the money-train moving, that means that Junior is going to have to work like an indentured servant for years and years to make sure Grammy and Grampy can keep taking the RV down to Arizona every winter. It means living on beets and boiled eggs so Grammy can get her hip replacement for only a $100 co-pay; it means living in a 2-room apartment with a balky toilet so Grampy can buy his Viagra and still afford to pay for the charter fishing-boat. And since Grammy and Grampy didn’t save nearly enough money of their own to last for 25 or 30 years of retirement (given the longer lifespans now common in the West), they’ll continue to draw down Social Security for many years longer than the actuaries thought they would.

This war is going to be a very ugly one, way worse than the “generation gap” stuff of the 1960’s. Basically, younger workers are going to be asked to support retirees but without any real assurance that they themselves will be supported in their own retirements (because the system will be bankrupt by then).

Posted by: Monty at March 21, 2010 12:13 PM

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But the costs of that kind of collapse are grievous; it’s possible that America as a political entity would not survive it.

Monty I think we are breaking new ground here. I have NEVER in my life seen the average citizen stirred up as they are now. Even during the turbulent 60s they liked to make out that the country was under severe upheaval but it was only a very small minority that was causing the problems then. All that upheaval was really nothing more than press hype.

Truly the last time we had this level of animosity towards Washington was the months leading into the War Between the States. The difference is this time it is not sectional. It is economic and urban vs rural so it makes things even worse.

All that being said, I don’t think that it necessarily leads to bloodshed or a civil war. This IS new ground so the outcome is up in the air. The elections this year are what I think will be the determining factor. This country simply can not stand another two years of communist control of all three branches of government.

If the Republicans fail to take at least one of the houses of congress it will be all over. We will collapse economically. That will happen when the Chinese quit buying our debt (already starting) and Moody’s downgrades our paper.

If the Republicans take a house and stop the left drift we still may be able to save it, particularly if they follow up in 2012 with the Senate and the President. Perhaps they can actually turn some of it back.

Posted by: Vic at March 21, 2010 12:16 PM

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The next war is going to be the private-sector workers versus the public-sector. If you aggregate all the various city, county, state, and federal workers, they account for more than 20% of the entire workforce. In some states — like California — the percentage is even higher. But here’s the thing: those employees don’t actually create wealth. They are supported by tax dollars, and thus are a drain on wealth. And almost all of them are making more than their private-sector peers, with pension and health benefits that are often guaranteed by law.

Private-sector workers are now living in an environment where they make less money, have to fund their own retirements via 401(k) type programs, labor under an increasingly-onerous tax burden, and face a government that is objectively hostile to a free-market philosophy that would improve their future prospects.

The latter group — getting poorer every year in absolute terms — is going to be jawboned into paying higher taxes to the former group — getting richer every year in absolute terms — as a result of laws passed years and sometimes decades ago by the very people who stand to benefit from them now.

California is the bellwether here, followed by Michigan, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. People will either vote with their feet, or will riot in the streets when taxes push the quality of life to an intolerable level. Either way: social unrest and bitter enemies that used to be fellow-citizens.

Posted by: Monty at March 21, 2010 12:25 PM

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Not necessarily true. I am looking at what I put in vs what I am likely to get out and it is much lower than what I put in.

Vic, you are one of the wise ones, then. Statistically, Baby Boomers as a group will retire with less than $60K in the bank. Medicare and Medicaid expenses are going to skyrocket as Boomers age because the bulk of any medical expense in any person’s life clusters in the last ten years of life. And Boomers (as a demographic) are used to having everything — they will demand every test and procedure possible to keep going for as long as possible. And no politician who values his job is going to tell them, “No, Mabel, we’re not going to pay for that hip replacement because you’re 85 years old and it doesn’t make any medical or financial sense.”

I don’t mean to suggest that all Boomers are narcissistic spendthrifts — but they are a huge demographic, and they more than any other demographic formed the core of the “consumer culture”. They tend overwhelmingly liberal in political outlook, which makes the prospect of substantial reform very remote indeed.

Posted by: Monty at March 21, 2010 12:35 PM

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These clowns are simply Catholics of convenience.

I have many disagreements with Catholic thought on health-care. The major disagreement is the Catholic belief that health-care is a “human right”. I don’t think that health-care is any more a natural “right” than the “right” to a pedicure or a haircut. Health-care is a service, one that is expensive to provide and does not have unlimited resources available.

Catholics (sincerely, for the most part) consider health-care to be bound up in notions of human dignity. I’ve always disagreed with this. Yes, illness is often undignified and debilitating. But this is true of so many things, and is often the results of poor personal choices. If you choose to be a lifelong smoker, then you also “own” the COPD and emphysema and lung cancer that will ensue. If you eat two Whoppers and a large fries every day, you “own” the obesity and heart-disease that will come after. It is unethical to expect the rest of society to subsidize your bad decisions. (But it is also unethical for society to demonize your choices; if you choose to smoke and accept the consequences of that decision, then hey: smoke away!)

This is why socialized medicine is inevitably a much less humane healthcare structure than a market-driven approach. Only you can make the best decisions regarding your own health: your motivations are your own, not that of some bureaucrat you’ve never met. You will always care more about yourself and your family than the government ever will.

Posted by: Monty at March 21, 2010 12:50 PM

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Monty, don’t bash the baby boomers so much.

It’s not bashing to speak the truth. I’m not making a value judgement about every single person born between 1945 and 1960 — I’m simply saying that demographics at this level are obvious and inevitable. The only possible way to solve the coming medicare/medicaid/SS disaster is for old folks to accept benefit cuts… which they (as a group) will never, ever do.

It’s a problem of basic fairness, and goes back nearly sixty or seventy years to promises made by FDR and other politicians since: how much societal support do you deserve versus how much do you need? How much of that expense should be born by generations who come later, and who will have to accept a considerable reduction in quality-of-life to honor those promises made by politicians all those years ago?

Civilization should not be a lottery, where you can get an award simply for successfully growing old. It should not penalize the young to benefit the old because it is the young who keep civilization on a paying basis. We owe our older folks dignity and respect, and I’ve always felt that an essential component of dignity and respect is to treat people like adults. To maintain this entitlement fiction for older folks is to treat them like children; that we will continue to lie to them because a lie is easier than the truth.

Posted by: Monty at March 21, 2010 01:06 PM

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March 21, 2010 , 12:20PM - Posted by | Barack Obama, Democrats, Economy, Healthcare, Liberalism, Socialism

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