Thursday, May 20, 2010

Opening salvo - almost literally

by Rich Miles

Fella named Timothy Egan, does a little writing for the New York Times from time to time, has pointed out a few early hypocrisies among the tea party lot. Here's what he says - it made me laugh, perhaps it will you too. I think the funniest part is the constituency the Tea Partiers are gonna have to ream up the ass in order to carry out their alleged agenda - it's the constituency that is currently their mainstay. Hoo boy - what an all round goat fuck this is going to be:

Sex, lies, and hypocrisy: does an election day get any more entertaining? And that was before Republicans in Kentucky voted against the advice of the top Republican in Kentucky, and voters in Pennsylvania sent a Democrat to Congress who vowed to take on Democrats in Congress.

First, let’s share one last moment with the day’s diversions. Nothing playing at the local octoplex can match that video of Rep. Mark Souder, the evangelical, family-values Republican from Indiana, giving a lecture on sexual restraint — with his then-secret mistress as the interviewer. He announced his resignation on Tuesday, leaving an homage to high school chastity clubs that should be shown at the Smithsonian, in continuous loop.

At the same time, the Democratic candidate for Senate in Connecticut, Richard Blumenthal, called a news conference to explain how he had “misspoken” in claiming fictional service in Vietnam. Most of us have the same problem. I can swear I played third base for the Red Sox, and hit a dinger over the short fence at Fenway. Or was that whiffle ball with the kids?

If we can make it to November without any more distractions from the pious and the fabulists, it could be a fascinating election. I may be dreaming, but the vote of 2010 might be a mashup for the ages, one of those rare referendums on real stuff.

The Tea Party — that is, the talk-radio-grumpy-old-men wing of the Republican Party — now has some things to answer for, and will have to do more than pose as background for a media narrative on 24-hour cable.

In the Kentucky senate race, those pistol-packin’ partisans who think President Obama was born in Kenya and want government to go away are claiming Rand Paul, who routed the party establishment pick, as one of their own. This is a good development. For who makes up the Tea Party? At their rallies, you see a lot of people on Medicare and Social Security.

Now they have Rand Paul, with his libertarian heritage, to carry the banner. Dr. Paul has promised to fight for “liberty and limited government.”

If we take him at his word, he should move against the biggest obstacles to liberty and limited government in the federal budget: Social Security and Medicare. Since 1966, those two mandatory programs for old people have grown from 16 percent of the federal budget to nearly 40 percent. Medicare now covers about 45 million people. Those deficit-contributing citizens, all those people at Dr. Paul’s rallies with spare time on their hands, would be a logical target.

Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Tea Party supporters rallied in Sacramento on Tax Day, April 15.
After all, is it not socialism to force younger taxpayers to pay for the shortfall on behalf of an expanding pool of older Americans? Doesn’t Ayn Rand’s philosophy hold that Wall Street should be free to run wild, that a national health care system for the elderly is tyranny and that the only way for people to live freely is with “full, pure, uncontrolled, unregulated laissez-faire capitalism,” as Rand said?

We need to have this discussion; it is the fundamental disconnect among people who call themselves Tea Partiers. Rand Paul is the perfect person to force the issue. His father, Ron, was dismissed as a gadfly when he took fellow Republicans to task for putting a trillion dollars worth of wars on the credit card. Let’s see if the son also rises to fight.

In Washington state, many in the Tea Party are backing a former professional football player, Clint Didier, in the Republican race for Senate. He rails against taxpayer bailouts and encroaching socialism. But he doesn’t hate Big Government enough to refuse at least $140,000 in farm subsidies he’s taken since 1995, or the taxpayer-financed irrigation water that keeps his patch of eastern Washington from being barren.

Where is the Tea Party anger at these mostly red-county, fat-cat freeloaders who’ve been given nearly $250 billion in handouts over the last 15 years? I wait for the credible conservative candidate to make the case that taxpayers should not be stuffing nearly a quarter-trillion dollars into the pockets of people who keep high-fructose corn syrup in the American diet. With Clint Didier in the Senate race, at least we now have a poster child for corporate agriculture bailouts.

Too often, campaigns are about surface abstractions: liberty versus government control, real Americans versus Hollywood. But this year, large events of tragic and ongoing impact have occurred, prompting what should be a much bigger discussion of Real Stuff.

Those who argue for continuing the deregulatory trend of the last decade need to look at how well that worked for the families who lost their loved ones in the Massey coal mine, run by a company with a history of bucking government oversight while promoting politicians who do their bidding.

Those who think drill, baby, drill should be the national energy policy must consider the mortal blow to a marine ecosystem in the Gulf of Mexico, because a global oil company didn’t want to spend the equivalent of a day’s profit on adequate controls.

And those who think the incomprehensible form of toxic capitalism that evolved in the snake pits of Wall Street should be left unfettered — in keeping with the emerging Rand Paul wing of the Republican Party and lobbyist-rolled representatives of both parties — should consider an astonishing figure from the Treasury Department.

The financial meltdown cost Americans $17 trillion in lost household net worth between 2007 and 2009, according to Alan Krueger, the chief economist for the department.

“How’s that hands-offey, non-regulatory thing workin’ for ya?” was the stinging tag of a recent cartoon by Stuart Carlson. It was meant as a punchline, but if this election does turn out to be about Real Stuff, it could also serve as a question every candidate will have to answer.


John said...

“How’s that hands-offey, non-regulatory thing workin’ for ya?”

But over-regulation caused the problem. The United States is heavily regulated! As an outsider to your country, it's obvious that the "free" market doesn't exist and never has. You're practically as socialised as us in Britain - especially now that you're moving to a government-run insurance healthcare scheme (though where's the money to pay for it? You guys are 13 trillion in debt!)

You have a government that owns over 90% of the mortgages, controls the money supply and interest rates, subsidises big corporations and big unions, fights wars it cannot afford, interfers with healthcare such that one, incredibly, cannot buy insurance across state borders or from other countries, and so on.

You're pretty much in line with the European Union already, save for all the ancient castles and cathedrals.

I highly recommend you try "Meltdown", by Thomas E Woods. He explains the situation perfectly and you'll understand the philosophical underpinnings of people like Rand Paul.

Just one more note, the followers of the Austrian school of economics, such as Rand Paul, have been right about all the financial crises for the last goodness knows how many decades. The West has been following the same destructive path of crony, socialised, Keynesian capitalism and we're reaching the moment of truth in the coming months and years. Do we continue down this destructive path of overspending, socialised industry and unsustainable benefits, which will lead to rioting and violence when the cheap booze dries up? Or will we finally turn to a stable monetary policy of actual free market capitalism?

Remember, under a free market system, there would be no subsidies for big corporations, no laws to encourage banks to loan to people who could never pay back their mortgage and would ultimately default. And there would be no central bank to artificially stimulate the economy, leading to malinvestment as the result of confusing the government's cheap credit as real loanable funds from the private sector.

I truly recommend you try out the aforementioned book - it's well worth it (and quite humorous!).

Rich Miles said...

John, much of what you say in your comment is essentially true - I say ESSENTIALLY true, because if the issues are looked at a bit more closely, it will be seen that you're skimming the cream off the top of the issues. Yes, America is moving toward some socialized positions, simply because (IMHO) they work better. The medical insurance "scheme" is among those. I am in the process of researching a blog post on the topic of HOW the new system will work better than what we have. It might be a while before I get to it.

You see, the problem in America is this: government control of ANY portion of American life is currently based not on how many Americans it helps, nor even how many needy Americans it helps, but on how many wealthy Americans it enriches further. And until Americans start to see that clearly, we're still going to continue to take it in the arse while the rich get richer. And the
"hands-offey, non-regulatory thing" is going to eat many of us alive in the process. The richer one is, the slower the meal will be, but it will still happen over time.

We're in a terrible mess, and nothing anyone is doing so far looks like helping to get us out of it. But it's my contention that we have to keep trying till we find something that does. And deregulating more industries is NOT the key.

Only when we reach a place where greed no longer exists in the human psyche will deregulation be the be-all and end-all that those like Rand Paul and his ilk seem to think it is now.

Anybody see that on the horizon?

Bueller? Bueller? Anyone?