Austere times ahead as the chickens come home to roost
When asked recently on National Public Radio why so many financial insiders are using such drastic rhetoric, Wall Street Journal economics editor David Wessel said the closer you are to the crisis, the more you understand just how “very frightening” it is.**
The cultural roots of this crisis have to do with Americans’ refusal to recognize natural limits. Americans have lost the ascetic virtue of self-discipline and have become impatient with the idea of constraints on their individual will. This is deeply rooted in American history and psychology, and both political parties base their appeals on their own particular version of liberty.
At no point, though, are the assumptions undergirding contemporary liberal and conservative notions of liberty seriously questioned. Our liberation from natural and traditional constraints can only continue in an atmosphere of steady, broad-based material progress, which, aside from the 1970s stagflation lull, we’ve experienced since World War II ended the Depression.
That now must change. The cost of our grand national experiment in living beyond our means is now coming due, and not just in the form of the housing crash. If the country indeed goes into a long, deep recession, forcing austerity and worse on the general public, the full social cost of casting aside traditional communal bonds and moral values – the beliefs that enabled people to thrive during hard times – will be painfully manifest. The psychological shock to the body politic will be sharp.
**An example of how an otherwise perfectly fine group of people can be used by a corrupted elite, is the classic appeal of a “free lunch.” The apostles of epic evil do not really care about the wellbeing of the poor or indigent, but they will use the poor and indigent to advance a broad agenda. For example, the so-called Great Society programs that were intended to end poverty have extracted billions of dollars from the pockets of our best and brightest year after year for decades. In fact, since these programs started, enough money has been extracted to make every person who was poor in 1965 a millionaire! But instead of a bunch of once-poor millionaires, we have more poor people than ever before. Any rational person who truly had the elimination of poverty as an objective would not allow the endless expenditures of funds in a fashion that actually creates, extends and incentivizes poverty while turning welfare programs into traps that are almost impossible to escape. Yet that is exactly what these folks have allowed, funded and championed.
Even the dumbest person on earth knows that if you try a given approach to a goal and you do not succeed, you give up on the old approach and try something new. The fact that the same failed approach continues to be supported by the same people year after year can only be explained by two possibilities: either they are too stupid to tie their own shoes or the programs they support actually have a goal OTHER THAN the one they declare. A good feel for their actual goals can be seen in the implementation of our welfare system and what it achieves in reality. Forget what people say – look instead at what they accomplish. MAYBE, for a year or two, the fact that they are accomplishing something other than their stated goals can be explained away by ignorance or stupidity. But, if the same situation prevails for FORTY YEARS, ignorance is not an explanation; the only explanation is that what they are accomplishing is what they actually INTEND to accomplish. In other words: they are acting from malice rather than ignorance or stupidity. — John Young, BOD, EAU