April 19, 2010

Planning for a future that isn't there...

Richard Fernandez (Thanks to Tex)

...The point Bill Clinton is missing is that the danger doesn't come from right wing 'anger.' The anger is just a byproduct. The voices he hears from the Tea Party crowds aren't threats; they're warnings. The real peril is coming from somewhere else: the demographic decline in industrial world working populations, the increasing cost of energy and the international movement in the factors of production. A whole generation of failed policy from both parties is coming to a head and it probably means that the welfare state, the European Union and by consequence the Chinese economy are heading for a cliff.

What's driving the Tea Parties isn't amorphous hate. It is concrete fear: worry that pensions have been devalued; medical care will become unaffordable; taxes are too high and jobs are gone, never to return. And a look around the world shows there's no place to hide. When the wave hits it will be global. In the UK membership in political parties is at near historic lows. In America Congress's popularity is lower than whales**t. The Eurozone is cracking up under its weight of debt. First Greece, now Portugal are being ripped off the cliff face like a zipper – and all the climbers are roped together. Japan is like a kamikaze sub heading for the depths and tapping out a sayonara. Russia was history long ago. And China, when it has used up its flowering moment, will face the consequences of its one-child policy. And Middle Eastern potentates, stuck in the same old, same old, are warning about a Summer War. The Tea Parties aren't about putting some country club Republican in the White House, though Bill can't help hearing it like that.

The cheese-paring scene at the White House Press Corps is just as indicative of the coming storm as the Tea Parties. It is yet one more sign that the old institutions are making plans for a future that isn't there; moving trillions of dollars in projected revenues around a five year plan like Hitler's fictive armies were moved around a map in 1945. When you hear Gordon Brown describe the billions he's going to spend to save the world and heal the planet; when you read news about the proposed legislation on "cap and trade"– the issue isn't the "right wing hate" but where's the money going to come from? The most telling fact about Bill Clinton's speech is that 2010 reminds him of 1994. If he – or the political establishment – can't tell the difference between the decades, that's your problem right there.

But the average Joe can. His pocketbook talks to him as loud as his cell phone; he has to live in a world where five bucks is a lot of money. So the man in the street can see things that are invisible from Olympian Washington....

My suspicion is that the money is in existence, but that it is fleeing from the "large stable entities" that were the building blocks of the Industrial Age. (I wrote about this here.) What's happening to governments (and unions, universities, newspapers, TV networks) is what happened to big "blue chip" businesses a couple of decades ago. Pan Am, GM, AT&T, IBM, NCR, DEC, GE.... They've all had to morph, change, downsize, become more nimble... or die. No one even talks about "safe investments in blue chips" anymore. The idea has become absurd.

The "large stable entities" that have not been forced by the market to become nimble are now deprived of their Industrial Age "ecosystem," of a world where they made sense to everyone, and were held in check by the common sense of that age. Now they have grown cancerous, and are killing their hosts. (See for example: How public-sector unions broke California, by Steven Malanga)

Posted by John Weidner at April 19, 2010 7:35 PM
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