by

Living In The Plastic Age

Hi, I’m Scott, this is my blog, and this is my semiannual political screed. Gentle readers who wish to avoid sullying their news of tractors and gaming drama with talk of the wider world are invited to move to the next post.

Well, this election is certainly a zoo.

In fine American fashion, we have plenty of people whom are better suited to appear on talk shows or perhaps on late night cable TV running to make decisions that affect us all. I’m sure you have your favorites. Mine is the guy who shot to fame today on the Rent Is Too Damn High platform.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x4o-TeMHys0

Andrew Cuomo vs. Carl Paladino vs. a KARATE EXPERT. The choice is clear. It’s a good thing the country is in such sound shape that we can focus on these sorts of shenanigans.

Oh.

Wait.

We have an effective 17% unemployment rate – the last time we saw such high unemployment, it was called the Great Depression.

Outsourcing of manufacturing, chiefly to China, has happened at such a furious rate over the past decade that China now controls 95% of all rare earth resources thanks to flooding US competitors out of business, and is already using it as a political weapon.

Mandated entitlement spending – what the government is obligated to spend on benefits such as Social Security and Medicare – has ballooned to such a ludicrous degree thanks to the Baby Boomer population curve that the US defense budget – which outspends every other military budget in the world and consists of 40% of all military spending globally – is only a portion of mandated entitlement spending. We spend $677 billion on Social Security, $453 billion on Medicare, and $663 billion on defense – Every year. $1.8 trillion.

Oh, and we only have $2.4 trillion in revenue. Throw in interest on the debt and a few luxury spending items such as Medicaid and the FBI, and we’re broke.

You’d think someone would notice this rather basic math, yet for the past decade the economic philosophy of our government has been “Screw it, budgets are hard”. After all, we also had a culture built around ever growing stock prices, ever growing housing prices, “Flip that House”, “Mad Money”, the smartest guys in the room. Thrift was for suckers. Or, to quote Paul O’Neill, Bush’s first treasury secretary:

O’Neill had been preaching that a fiscal crisis was looming and more tax cuts would exacerbate it. But others in the White House saw a chance to capitalize on the historic Republican congressional gains in the 2002 elections.

Surely, Cheney would not be so smug. He would hear O’Neill out. In an economic meeting in the Vice President’s office,

O’Neill started pitching, describing how the numbers showed that growing budget deficits threatened the economy. Cheney cut him off. “Reagan proved deficits don’t matter,” he said. O’Neill was too dumbfounded to respond. Cheney continued: “We won the midterms. This is our due.”

The due is due. And so, enter the Tea Party, which began with that most libertarian harbinger of populism, a stock market reporter complaining about how mortgage bailouts might interfere with the already huge bank bailouts already in progress.

Because, you know, Wall Street’s ever-increasing manipulation of more and more fictional derivatives of wealth collapsing upon itself wasn’t anything that should be paid attention to or, even more shockingly, regulated. And in truth, should it?

It was quickly forgotten, after all, with an ever growing rage against that interloper of a President who was elected with the help of illegal immigrants, prostitute-loving community organizers, and 52% of the popular vote.

However, the liberal theory that the Tea Party is just an astroturf creation of moneyed interests is more than a little wide of the mark. The anger of the American public is real. Whether or not it’s justifiably placed, it is there. Really, if you’re not mad as hell, you aren’t paying attention.

And in truth, the Tea Party, and everyone else, *should* be enraged at Barack Obama.

Not for being a crypto-Muslim secret Maoist fascist, or whatever the current trope is.

No, because Obama, for all his calm, cool, “I got this” charisma of the election, effectively abdicated his agenda to the same tired Clinton-era hacks that helped drive the economy into the ditch through rampant, no-oversight deregulation in the first place.

Because Obama didn’t realize that the two greatest problems facing America today are the twin spectres of the government going broke through uncontrolled spending and nearly 1/4 of the population being jobless *at the same time*.

Because Obama played into the hands of a thoroughly discredited Congressional Republican minority, allowing them to drive the agenda of the national debate and focus on distraction after distraction, culminating in a misbegotten health-care plan, the result of attempt after attempt to compromise with a party that had stated, repeatedly, that they never wanted to compromise ever, and proving that politics was no longer the art of the possible but the graffiti of the misbehaving.

Yet being angry at Obama for this isn’t that realistic. After all, what are the alternatives? What choices do we have?

Apparently, our choices are a spineless, shellshocked remnant of the government of the 1990s or FULL-ON CRAZYTOWN, where Rush Limbaugh reminds us that no, the Constitution *didn’t* proscribe the seperation of church and state, where Glenn Beck uses his daily platform to resurrect the grinning corpse of Joe McCarthy through accusing his enemies of being secret Marxists, only this time with the added surrealism of the Cold War being a decade over, and…. it goes on. It just keeps going on. And this is the new mainstream of the conservative movement.

Which is why you see roughly half of the electorate enraged at forces in our government that are driving our country towards Marxism, Socialism, and high taxes. Despite literally no one in our goverment advocating Marxism, Socialism or particularly higher taxes. Because the level of political discourse in this country has broken down to the point that we are arguing about the completely fictional, such as Muslims building mega-mosques and enacting Shariah in a suburb of Dallas.

Meanwhile, the government is still going broke, 1/4 of the people you know are still unemployed, and no one in power really seems to care overmuch.

So who am I going to vote for?

Who *can* I vote for?

Who is *left* to vote for?

Further reading:
The New American Economy, by Bruce Bartlett
The Conservative Soul, by Andrew Sullivan
Empire of Illusion, by Chris Hedges
Griftopia, by Matt Taibbi