|Whither the White Working Class||Occupy: History Repeats as Reality Show|
by Christopher Chantrill
December 26, 2011 at 10:59 pm
WHEN I WAS a lad in 1950s Britain, the adults used to talk about austerity. This, I learned, was the period right after World War II. But what did it mean? I could never quite grasp what was so austere about those years. There was food rationing, of course, and that meant that my parents kept chickens in the back garden. It meant that we were careful to spread the butter on bread very thinly. Then there was the Winter of 1947. It was cold enough to get its own Wikipedia entry.
Now I finally understand. Austerity means that the technocratic statists have goofed and that some government benefits may possibly dip in the near future.
That must be what austerity means because we have liberals like Robert Reich warning urgently against copying the European austerity here in the United States. It is one thing, apparently, to copy European social democratic programs in good times, but another thing altogether to copy the Euro chappies when sovereign debt default is just around the corner.
But austerity is still pretty confusing. The victorious Popular Party in Spain is said to have a strong mandate to push through further austerity measures and avoid being engulfed by the sovereign debt crisis. But apparently the reason the Spanish voters are chucking out the Socialists is that many are angry with the Socialists for allowing the economy to deteriorate and then for introducing tough austerity measures. The voters are retired the austerity Socialists to give the Popular Party a mandate for austerity?
As the US rumbles around the bend heading for its own Rendezvous with Default Destiny, sometimes I wonder about the Democrats like Robert Reich, who seem to think that the whole thing can be solved if only the rich contribute a little more. But then I remember that there is a method to their madness.
The dirty little secret is that any austerity is going to disproportionately affect Democrats. All those lovely social programs, those crony capitalist subsidies? They benefit Democrats.
Look at the Tea Party Budget, which cuts a manly $9.7 trillion from the federal budget in 10 years, from 24 percent of GDP to 16 percent.
The Tea Party cuts hit nothing but Democratic sacred cows. Eliminate the Departments of Education and Energy. Cut EPA by 50 percent. Eliminate HUD. Eliminate ethanol and unproven energy technology subsidies. Oh, and eliminate business and economic development subsidies. Thatll really hit those famous Republican fat-cat CEOs!
Of course Democrats are raging against austerity. If we cut health care, the middle class will just suck it in a bit. If we cut education, the middle class will just shrug and pay a little more. But Democrats are all traditionally marginalized folks who are living on fixed incomes. Why if we cut spending on the backs of Democrats we will... Well, we will increase inequality.
Yes, Democrats apparently think they have changed the conversation since President Obama went all class-warfare on us. Says a Democratic aide via Hugh Hewitt:
The worm has turned a little bit. The national conversation now is about income inequality and about jobs, and its not really about cutting the size of government anymore or cutting spending.
There it is, that famous national conversation again. Last time I checked my political dictionary national conversation meant the latest talking point that Democrats are trying to ram down our throats.
Heres whats really happening. The Democrats cant win by doing a pragmatic deal on spending or a down payment on entitlements on the Supercommittee, something that would really help their supporters, long term. They cant do it because any deal will gore Democratic oxen in the here and now and demoralize or even inflame the base. Bang goes the election in 2012.
So instead they are doing another Bob Schrum special, fighting for the People against the Powerful and writing solemn articles about inequality. Heres Ezra Kleins effort: Ryans Inequality Plan Means Inequality.
The whole idea of the welfare state is to provide the little people with a little protection, a safety net, against the major austerities of life, old age, health care, educating the kids. Youd think a party that cared about the little guy would be saying: Wow, things are going to be really tough for the next few years. Weve got to do what we can to make sure that the little guy is protected. We should ease up on the nice-to-haves like really fast trains and green energy. Why, we could even let the odd oil pipeline get built and turn a blind eye to the occasional horizontal fracking between consenting adults. Instead the Dems have hit the nitro on the Class Warfare Special.
My guess is that we are just weeks from the moment when every tyro realizes what the best strategic minds already know: that Obamas class warfare strategy is going to make things worse -- for Democrats.
In the aftermath they wont be whining about austerity.
Buy his Road to the Middle Class.
[W]hen I asked a liberal longtime editor I know with a mainstream [publishing] house for a candid, shorthand version of the assumptions she and her colleagues make about conservatives, she didn't hesitate. Racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-choice fascists, she offered, smiling but meaning it.
Harry Stein, I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican
Families helped each other putting up homes and barns. Together, they built churches, schools, and common civic buildings. They collaborated to build roads and bridges. They took pride in being free persons, independent, and self-reliant; but the texture of their lives was cooperative and fraternal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism
[To make] of each individual member of the army a soldier who, in character, capability, and knowledge, is self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility [verantwortungsfreudig] as a man and a soldier. — Gen. Hans von Seeckt
MacGregor Knox, Williamson Murray, ed., The dynamics of military revolution, 1300-2050
For [the left] there is only the state and the individual, nothing in between. No family to rely on, no friend to depend on, no community to call on. No neighbourhood to grow in, no faith to share in, no charities to work in. No-one but the Minister, nowhere but Whitehall, no such thing as society - just them, and their laws, and their rules, and their arrogance.
David Cameron, Conference Speech 2008
Imagining that all order is the result of design, socialists
conclude that order must be improvable by better design of some superior mind.
F.A. Hayek, The Fatal Conceit
[Every] sacrifice is an act of impurity that pays for a prior act of greater impurity... without its participants having to suffer the full consequences incurred by its predecessor. The punishment is commuted in a process that strangely combines and finesses the deep contradiction between justice and mercy.
Frederick Turner, Beauty: The Value of Values
[The Axial Age] highlights the conception of a responsible self... [that] promise[s] man for the first time that he can understand the fundamental structure of reality and through salvation participate actively in it.
Robert N Bellah, "Religious Evolution", American Sociological Review, Vol. 29, No. 3.
But the only religions that have survived are those which support property and the family.
Thus the outlook for communism, which is both anti-property and anti-family, (and also anti-religion), is not promising.
F.A. Hayek, The Fatal Conceit
[T]he way to achieve a system of determining admission to the public schools on a nonracial basis,
Brown II, 349 U. S., at 300–301, is to stop assigning students on a racial basis. The way to stop
discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.
Roberts, C.J., Parents Involved in Community Schools vs. Seattle School District
A writer who says that there are no truths, or that all truth is merely relative, is asking you not to believe him. So dont.
Roger Scruton, Modern Philosophy
Paul Dirac: When I was talking with Lemaître about [the expanding universe] and feeling stimulated
by the grandeur of the picture that he has given us, I told him that
I thought cosmology was the branch of science that lies closest to religion.
However [Georges] Lemaître [Catholic priest, physicist, and
inventor of the Big Bang Theory] did not agree with me. After thinking it over he
suggested psychology as lying closest to religion.
John Farrell, The Creation Myth
Within Pentecostalism the injurious hierarchies of the wider world are abrogated and replaced by a single hierarchy of faith, grace, and the empowerments of the spirit... where groups gather on rafts to take them through the turbulence of the great journey from extensive rural networks to the mega-city and the nuclear family...
David Martin, On Secularization