Shall we shut down the government? Again?

As of this moment, Republicans and Democrats in Congress are at an impasse over the 2011 budget.   Budget hawks in the Republican party have insisted on cutting President Obama’s spending plan.  Democrats have agreed to some $30 billion in cuts, but that is not enough for a key segment of Republicans.  If a budget doesn’t pass, the government shuts down on Friday.  (Well, “essential services” won’t, but still. . . .)

You may recall another time when Republicans scored a big Congressional victory over an unpopular Democratic president.  They demanded that the budget be cut and stood firm and uncompromising on that principle.  The government shut down.  Whereupon the public reacted against the Republicans, President Clinton’s popularity shot up, and he won re-election.

Is this a repeat of history?  Are the Republicans over-reaching, again? Will this mean the re-election of Barack Obama?  Is there anything different this time?

And here is a deeper question:  Will the American public tolerate a tough, trimmed down budget?  With so many Americans beholden in some way on federal money–getting social security, medicare, farm subsidies, business subsidies, government contracts, job-creating pork, federal programs, college loans, etc., etc.–even though they express worry about the deficit in the abstract, will they turn against any Republican or conservative who threatens to defund popular programs?

 

Government shutdown: Potential furloughs for 800k federal workers, disruption of D.C. services – The Washington Post.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Rob

    I don’t know which gang amuses me more, the Democrats screaming about “draconian cuts” or the Republicans pretending that they are doing something about out-of-control spending. They are both lying. We are talking about less than 2% of the deficit. I’ll start paying attention when someone actually proposes spending less than they manage to bring in, without any borrowing; until then it’s all just smoke-and-mirrors.

  • Rob

    I don’t know which gang amuses me more, the Democrats screaming about “draconian cuts” or the Republicans pretending that they are doing something about out-of-control spending. They are both lying. We are talking about less than 2% of the deficit. I’ll start paying attention when someone actually proposes spending less than they manage to bring in, without any borrowing; until then it’s all just smoke-and-mirrors.

  • Carl Vehse

    Rob’s point @1 is illustrated in The Budget Pie.

  • Carl Vehse

    Rob’s point @1 is illustrated in The Budget Pie.

  • http://gslcnm.com Pastor Phil Spomer

    I find the whole charade tiresome. The United States ran out of adults 20 years ago.

  • http://gslcnm.com Pastor Phil Spomer

    I find the whole charade tiresome. The United States ran out of adults 20 years ago.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    Welcome to prolonged childhood, Phil.

    As to overreaching, I am not sure if they are. I haven’t seen hard numbers so this is idle speculation, but it seems there is at least a very significant portion of the population who is sick of the government printing monopoly money to fund unnecessary or wasteful programs. They could be scoring big points in holding fast.

    Personally, I think a bit more statesmanship is needed. Sometimes, you need to take the compromise that gets you closer to your goal.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    Welcome to prolonged childhood, Phil.

    As to overreaching, I am not sure if they are. I haven’t seen hard numbers so this is idle speculation, but it seems there is at least a very significant portion of the population who is sick of the government printing monopoly money to fund unnecessary or wasteful programs. They could be scoring big points in holding fast.

    Personally, I think a bit more statesmanship is needed. Sometimes, you need to take the compromise that gets you closer to your goal.

  • Porcell

    Rob: I’ll start paying attention when someone actually proposes spending less than they manage to bring in, without any borrowing; until then it’s all just smoke-and-mirrors.

    You might take a careful look at Paul Ryan’s proposal for the fiscal 2012 budget that over the next ten years spends 6.2 $trillion less than Obama’s proposed 2012 budget. Ryan’s budget reduces the deficit by 4 $trillion over ten years; if its principles are sustained the total deficit is zeroed about 2050.

    A WSJ editorial remarked as follows yesterday on Ryan’s budget proposal:

    Mr. Ryan’s budget rollout is an important political and policy moment because it is the most serious attempt to reform government in at least a generation. The plan offers what voters have been saying they want—a blueprint to address the roots of Washington’s fiscal disorder. It does so not by the usual posturing (“paygo”) and symbolism (balanced budget amendment) but by going to the heart of the spending problem, especially on the vast and rapidly growing health-care entitlements of Medicaid and Medicare. The Wisconsin Republican’s plan is a generational choice, not the usual Beltway echo.

    What more could any one realistically ask?

  • Porcell

    Rob: I’ll start paying attention when someone actually proposes spending less than they manage to bring in, without any borrowing; until then it’s all just smoke-and-mirrors.

    You might take a careful look at Paul Ryan’s proposal for the fiscal 2012 budget that over the next ten years spends 6.2 $trillion less than Obama’s proposed 2012 budget. Ryan’s budget reduces the deficit by 4 $trillion over ten years; if its principles are sustained the total deficit is zeroed about 2050.

    A WSJ editorial remarked as follows yesterday on Ryan’s budget proposal:

    Mr. Ryan’s budget rollout is an important political and policy moment because it is the most serious attempt to reform government in at least a generation. The plan offers what voters have been saying they want—a blueprint to address the roots of Washington’s fiscal disorder. It does so not by the usual posturing (“paygo”) and symbolism (balanced budget amendment) but by going to the heart of the spending problem, especially on the vast and rapidly growing health-care entitlements of Medicaid and Medicare. The Wisconsin Republican’s plan is a generational choice, not the usual Beltway echo.

    What more could any one realistically ask?

  • WebMonk

    From a political strategy point of view, I think the Republicans should go for the compromise, though I realize that’s a strategy decision that has plenty of arguments against it as well. I think the arguments for it win out, but I don’t have any beef with someone who thinks the better strategy is to let the govt shut down for a while.

    However, if we’re looking at it strictly from the angle of how much noise is being made over how much money, I agree with all of the above: the massive levels of noise in no way reflects the real level of budgetary cuts which are minuscule.

    Maybe something of serious impact will be made for the 2012 budget, but I highly doubt it. I know Paul Ryan’s plan has some very good financial aspects to it that would hold down Medicare costs going into the future, but that plan has the proverbial snowball’s chance in hell of actually passing.

  • WebMonk

    From a political strategy point of view, I think the Republicans should go for the compromise, though I realize that’s a strategy decision that has plenty of arguments against it as well. I think the arguments for it win out, but I don’t have any beef with someone who thinks the better strategy is to let the govt shut down for a while.

    However, if we’re looking at it strictly from the angle of how much noise is being made over how much money, I agree with all of the above: the massive levels of noise in no way reflects the real level of budgetary cuts which are minuscule.

    Maybe something of serious impact will be made for the 2012 budget, but I highly doubt it. I know Paul Ryan’s plan has some very good financial aspects to it that would hold down Medicare costs going into the future, but that plan has the proverbial snowball’s chance in hell of actually passing.

  • Rob

    @Porcell:
    What more could any one realistically ask?

    That the government stop spending money it doesn’t have. Period.

    Five year plans and ten years plans don’t ever work. Paul Ryan’s budget proposal is undoubtedly far better than anything suggested for many years, but it still doesn’t address the fundamental problems. They need to stop spending, and they need to do it now.

  • Rob

    @Porcell:
    What more could any one realistically ask?

    That the government stop spending money it doesn’t have. Period.

    Five year plans and ten years plans don’t ever work. Paul Ryan’s budget proposal is undoubtedly far better than anything suggested for many years, but it still doesn’t address the fundamental problems. They need to stop spending, and they need to do it now.

  • DonS

    Even Ryan’s plan, as innovative as it appears to be, isn’t nearly enough to bring our budget into realistic balance in a reasonable period of time. For one thing, it doesn’t address the Social Security problem.

    No, the American people aren’t ready for their medicine, in large part because our media refuses to seriously report on the issue. Invariably, when cuts need to be made, the stories are 100% on how children are suffering, teachers are suffering, the parks are closing, blah, blah, blah. Nothing about how the Democrats always target essential services, like police and fire, or close parks first to enrage the populace. Nothing about how public employees are retiring at age 50 or 55 with full, free lifetime medical benefits and pensions close to 100% of their last year’s pay, with inflation adjustments. Nothing about the fact that far less than 50% of total program costs actually reach intended recipients. Nothing about how, where government used to fund infrastructure and try to encourage private productivity, now almost all of the budget goes to redistributive transfer payments and regulation to strangle economic growth.

    The reason the federal government faces the threat of closure isn’t because of Republicans. The House has passed a CR to fund the government for the rest of the year. The Senate and President refuse to accept that CR because a) it cuts federal spending appx. 1.8% (draconian!), b) it defunds Planned Parenthood and NPR, two pet Democratic special interests.

    But the media won’t report it that way.

  • DonS

    Even Ryan’s plan, as innovative as it appears to be, isn’t nearly enough to bring our budget into realistic balance in a reasonable period of time. For one thing, it doesn’t address the Social Security problem.

    No, the American people aren’t ready for their medicine, in large part because our media refuses to seriously report on the issue. Invariably, when cuts need to be made, the stories are 100% on how children are suffering, teachers are suffering, the parks are closing, blah, blah, blah. Nothing about how the Democrats always target essential services, like police and fire, or close parks first to enrage the populace. Nothing about how public employees are retiring at age 50 or 55 with full, free lifetime medical benefits and pensions close to 100% of their last year’s pay, with inflation adjustments. Nothing about the fact that far less than 50% of total program costs actually reach intended recipients. Nothing about how, where government used to fund infrastructure and try to encourage private productivity, now almost all of the budget goes to redistributive transfer payments and regulation to strangle economic growth.

    The reason the federal government faces the threat of closure isn’t because of Republicans. The House has passed a CR to fund the government for the rest of the year. The Senate and President refuse to accept that CR because a) it cuts federal spending appx. 1.8% (draconian!), b) it defunds Planned Parenthood and NPR, two pet Democratic special interests.

    But the media won’t report it that way.

  • WebMonk

    Rob, Porcell used that nasty word “realistically”.

    Anyone who thinks it’s even vaguely “realistic” to expect the government to stop spending money it doesn’t have, needs to have their head examined. Maybe in 100 years the entire social, economic, and political system of the USA could be overturned to accomplish such a thing, but even that is stretching the bounds of the term “realistically”.

    It would take a concerted change of at least two generations to substantially change the society and government of our country. I think that realistically, we’ll be looking at a modification to our system that will limit the overspending of the government to a level that is “sustainable”. (those are very major scare quotes)

  • WebMonk

    Rob, Porcell used that nasty word “realistically”.

    Anyone who thinks it’s even vaguely “realistic” to expect the government to stop spending money it doesn’t have, needs to have their head examined. Maybe in 100 years the entire social, economic, and political system of the USA could be overturned to accomplish such a thing, but even that is stretching the bounds of the term “realistically”.

    It would take a concerted change of at least two generations to substantially change the society and government of our country. I think that realistically, we’ll be looking at a modification to our system that will limit the overspending of the government to a level that is “sustainable”. (those are very major scare quotes)

  • Porcell

    Rob, sometimes the perfect is the enemy of the good. Realistically, Ryan’s plan deals more effectively with the fiscal crisis than any other plan out there. It won’t come close to being passed this year, though in 2012, when any Republican candidate will be forced to adopt it, it will give the American people a real choice as to whether to become fiscally sane or inevitably not too far around the corner face a disastrous fiscal shock. Just now most serious investors are stockpiling solid gold.

    It’s easy and simple to say stop spending money you don’t have in a democracy where interests groups have enormous influence. Ryan has had the courage to face the fiscal situation squarely and get a plan through an important committee of Congress. Those idealists who want something more would do well to stop whining and get behind this real plan.

  • Porcell

    Rob, sometimes the perfect is the enemy of the good. Realistically, Ryan’s plan deals more effectively with the fiscal crisis than any other plan out there. It won’t come close to being passed this year, though in 2012, when any Republican candidate will be forced to adopt it, it will give the American people a real choice as to whether to become fiscally sane or inevitably not too far around the corner face a disastrous fiscal shock. Just now most serious investors are stockpiling solid gold.

    It’s easy and simple to say stop spending money you don’t have in a democracy where interests groups have enormous influence. Ryan has had the courage to face the fiscal situation squarely and get a plan through an important committee of Congress. Those idealists who want something more would do well to stop whining and get behind this real plan.

  • Cincinnatus

    Porcell: I can assure you that Ryan’s plan will not pass, compelling and necessary as it is.

    Mass democracy isn’t amenable to such things. Every single mass democracy in the world is in roughly the same boat as we are. Do you detect a pattern?

  • Cincinnatus

    Porcell: I can assure you that Ryan’s plan will not pass, compelling and necessary as it is.

    Mass democracy isn’t amenable to such things. Every single mass democracy in the world is in roughly the same boat as we are. Do you detect a pattern?

  • peter

    America’s debt is a genuine problem. One reason we are so deeply in debt is that we don’t take our debts seriously. We don’t have any concept of the difference between a DEBT to our own people and an elective expenditure. Social Security benefits have been promised in writing to millions of Americans, who are counting on them. They are too old to go back to work and have paid into the fund, accepting a rate of return (if they get it at all) far below market. Yet everybody talks about the need to cut social security without a thought to first cutting the military or foreign aid. We OWE social security benefits to people who have paid into the system. Even if there’s some legal fine print that would get the government off the hook constitutionally, the moment the US government says to its citizens “the joke’s on you – I lied” at that moment we cease to be America and become just another corrupt plutocracy. Now if you owed me a thousand dollars which I needed to live on and you said, tough luck, I’d rather spend the money invading Libya or donate it to Israel or Egypt free of charge or build some more aircraft carriers, I would be royally offended. The Soviet Union’s gone – we don’t NEED that stuff to survive. If the government (and people) would get through its head the difference between an IOU and spending-for-fun we might have SOME chance of escaping the coming nightmare.

  • peter

    America’s debt is a genuine problem. One reason we are so deeply in debt is that we don’t take our debts seriously. We don’t have any concept of the difference between a DEBT to our own people and an elective expenditure. Social Security benefits have been promised in writing to millions of Americans, who are counting on them. They are too old to go back to work and have paid into the fund, accepting a rate of return (if they get it at all) far below market. Yet everybody talks about the need to cut social security without a thought to first cutting the military or foreign aid. We OWE social security benefits to people who have paid into the system. Even if there’s some legal fine print that would get the government off the hook constitutionally, the moment the US government says to its citizens “the joke’s on you – I lied” at that moment we cease to be America and become just another corrupt plutocracy. Now if you owed me a thousand dollars which I needed to live on and you said, tough luck, I’d rather spend the money invading Libya or donate it to Israel or Egypt free of charge or build some more aircraft carriers, I would be royally offended. The Soviet Union’s gone – we don’t NEED that stuff to survive. If the government (and people) would get through its head the difference between an IOU and spending-for-fun we might have SOME chance of escaping the coming nightmare.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    Shut it down. (it’s happened before…more than once)

    If we don’t do it temporarily…then one day not so far out, it may shut down permanently.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    Shut it down. (it’s happened before…more than once)

    If we don’t do it temporarily…then one day not so far out, it may shut down permanently.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    These tax and spend Democrats are KILLING US.

    Nothing ever changes with them.

    TAX and SPEND.

    The jig is up.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    These tax and spend Democrats are KILLING US.

    Nothing ever changes with them.

    TAX and SPEND.

    The jig is up.

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    Social Security needs to be phased out and eventually shut down.
    No we can’t just stop sending the checks to those who have paid into the system and were promised benefits in return, but we can quit accepting accepting new participants into the program. The sooner the better.

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    Social Security needs to be phased out and eventually shut down.
    No we can’t just stop sending the checks to those who have paid into the system and were promised benefits in return, but we can quit accepting accepting new participants into the program. The sooner the better.

  • Rob

    @Steve Martin: I agree, except to say that the borrow-and-spend Republicans are every bit as bad. The American people need to wake up and throw ALL of them out, but I don’t expect to see that happen. (At least, not before the entire house of cards comes crashing down, anyway.)

  • Rob

    @Steve Martin: I agree, except to say that the borrow-and-spend Republicans are every bit as bad. The American people need to wake up and throw ALL of them out, but I don’t expect to see that happen. (At least, not before the entire house of cards comes crashing down, anyway.)

  • Kirk

    @Steve,

    If you’re hoping the USG will save money in the immediate term by shutting down, it’s not going to happen. Last time the government shut down, employees were paid back-pay for work they didn’t do. It’s actually extremely costly.

  • Kirk

    @Steve,

    If you’re hoping the USG will save money in the immediate term by shutting down, it’s not going to happen. Last time the government shut down, employees were paid back-pay for work they didn’t do. It’s actually extremely costly.

  • DonS

    Yeah, no matter how you slice it, the “public servants” always get their’s. Someday, maybe, there will actually be someone in government who represents the taxpayers.

  • DonS

    Yeah, no matter how you slice it, the “public servants” always get their’s. Someday, maybe, there will actually be someone in government who represents the taxpayers.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    Rob,

    They are bad. They have been bad. But they are pikers compared to the Dems.

    The Dems have it down to a science.

    And there are a growing number of Republicans who don’t want to play that game anymore. That’s a good thing. And Dems. are welcome to join in, too.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    Rob,

    They are bad. They have been bad. But they are pikers compared to the Dems.

    The Dems have it down to a science.

    And there are a growing number of Republicans who don’t want to play that game anymore. That’s a good thing. And Dems. are welcome to join in, too.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@18) said, “Someday, maybe, there will actually be someone in government who represents the taxpayers.”

    The problem isn’t that there’s no one there representing us, Don. The problem is that we keep electing politicians that do represent us.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@18) said, “Someday, maybe, there will actually be someone in government who represents the taxpayers.”

    The problem isn’t that there’s no one there representing us, Don. The problem is that we keep electing politicians that do represent us.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    And I will only truly believe that attacking the deficit is actually important to Republicans when they have control of the White House (and perhaps also at least one House of Congress).

    Or has no one noticed that the deficit is only important to Republicans when they control a house of Congress or two but are opposed to the Democrat in the White House?

    It’s easy to grandstand when you can make political hay out of it. It takes a heck of a lot more courage to slash your own ability to earn political favor by doling out large sums of cash.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    And I will only truly believe that attacking the deficit is actually important to Republicans when they have control of the White House (and perhaps also at least one House of Congress).

    Or has no one noticed that the deficit is only important to Republicans when they control a house of Congress or two but are opposed to the Democrat in the White House?

    It’s easy to grandstand when you can make political hay out of it. It takes a heck of a lot more courage to slash your own ability to earn political favor by doling out large sums of cash.

  • Cincinnatus

    tODD@20 makes a good point that almost atones for his stupid bit about taxes yesterday:

    The bureaucratic apparatus, with its attendant entitlements, social engineering, and redistributive programs, isn’t something that foisted itself upon us due to a conspiracy by mysterious “elites.” While it does have something of a life of its own nowadays, our mass democracy asked for the bureaucracy. We asked for our entitlements, welfare, infrastructure, etc., and we elected the people who promised to give them to us. And give them to us they did indeed. And we also chose the insufficient taxes to fund these goodies, so we also chose our gargantuan debt. Mass democracy gave us all this. It’s a narrative truly told by Max Weber, Bertrand de Jouvenel, Carl Schumpeter, and many others. Heck, even Plato said something about it.

    In other words, this isn’t a problem rooted in the Democratic party, nor does the Republican party possess the Porcellian cajones to “solve” the problem. What we lack is self-government, and all you opponents of social engineering should know that the government isn’t going to fix itself until we correct our besotted, dependent selves en masse–which is unlikely to happen in sufficient time to save the republic.

    Doubt me? Go ahead, try to run for President in 2012 on a platform of slashing spending everywhere, privatizing/eliminating Social Security, shrinking the defense budget (itself a massive entitlement program), reducing/eliminating Medicare, and minimizing subsidies for things like agriculture, ethanol, Medicaid, etc. See how far you get.

  • Cincinnatus

    tODD@20 makes a good point that almost atones for his stupid bit about taxes yesterday:

    The bureaucratic apparatus, with its attendant entitlements, social engineering, and redistributive programs, isn’t something that foisted itself upon us due to a conspiracy by mysterious “elites.” While it does have something of a life of its own nowadays, our mass democracy asked for the bureaucracy. We asked for our entitlements, welfare, infrastructure, etc., and we elected the people who promised to give them to us. And give them to us they did indeed. And we also chose the insufficient taxes to fund these goodies, so we also chose our gargantuan debt. Mass democracy gave us all this. It’s a narrative truly told by Max Weber, Bertrand de Jouvenel, Carl Schumpeter, and many others. Heck, even Plato said something about it.

    In other words, this isn’t a problem rooted in the Democratic party, nor does the Republican party possess the Porcellian cajones to “solve” the problem. What we lack is self-government, and all you opponents of social engineering should know that the government isn’t going to fix itself until we correct our besotted, dependent selves en masse–which is unlikely to happen in sufficient time to save the republic.

    Doubt me? Go ahead, try to run for President in 2012 on a platform of slashing spending everywhere, privatizing/eliminating Social Security, shrinking the defense budget (itself a massive entitlement program), reducing/eliminating Medicare, and minimizing subsidies for things like agriculture, ethanol, Medicaid, etc. See how far you get.

  • DonS

    But, Cincinnatus and tODD, in all fairness it was the intention of the politicians to build a dependent class of tax eaters, because being able to dole out tax money is the definition of political power. Unfortunately, we have perhaps reached a tipping point, where we have more tax eaters than producers. Alas, the downfall of a once great nation, because of the human tendency toward greed and receiving something not earned.

  • DonS

    But, Cincinnatus and tODD, in all fairness it was the intention of the politicians to build a dependent class of tax eaters, because being able to dole out tax money is the definition of political power. Unfortunately, we have perhaps reached a tipping point, where we have more tax eaters than producers. Alas, the downfall of a once great nation, because of the human tendency toward greed and receiving something not earned.

  • Cincinnatus

    DonS@23: While I know a few fringe thinkers expressed a desire to engender a dependency class (and while that was, of course, the tactic of nineteenth century urban Democratic machines) as a source of constant votes, can you name prominent politicians by name who have actually and effectively pursued policies for this primary purpose? So far as I know, FDR and his administration pursued Social Security out of a sincere desire to prevent poverty among the elderly. LBJ and his party pursued the (disastrous) Great Society, again, out of a sincere though naive desire to eradicate poverty. And the impulse for these things predated both FDR and LBJ: they were elected based on promises that they would provide such programs. Fill in the blanks with your chosen program or entitlement: federal aid to public education, highways, defense contracts, agricultural subsidies, Medicare, subsidized housing, ad infinitum. All or most were implemented with the best of intentions. All of most did create a dependency class. But whose fault is that?

  • Cincinnatus

    DonS@23: While I know a few fringe thinkers expressed a desire to engender a dependency class (and while that was, of course, the tactic of nineteenth century urban Democratic machines) as a source of constant votes, can you name prominent politicians by name who have actually and effectively pursued policies for this primary purpose? So far as I know, FDR and his administration pursued Social Security out of a sincere desire to prevent poverty among the elderly. LBJ and his party pursued the (disastrous) Great Society, again, out of a sincere though naive desire to eradicate poverty. And the impulse for these things predated both FDR and LBJ: they were elected based on promises that they would provide such programs. Fill in the blanks with your chosen program or entitlement: federal aid to public education, highways, defense contracts, agricultural subsidies, Medicare, subsidized housing, ad infinitum. All or most were implemented with the best of intentions. All of most did create a dependency class. But whose fault is that?

  • Cincinnatus

    Let me submit a positive prediction, to ameliorate my typical apocalyptic prophecies: Paul Gottfried and certain other scholars who hail from the “right” forecast that a sort of “right wing populism” will arise in response to the bureaucratic apparatus and the governing class that operates its levers. While there is a danger that the Tea Party has already been co-opted by power-brokers, and while it is too inchoate or fractured already perhaps, this is one reason why the general phenomenon of the “Tea Party” so-called may be cause for hope. American populism typically gravitates toward more entitlements of a certain kind, but could a “small government” populism be a sustainable possibility in America?

  • Cincinnatus

    Let me submit a positive prediction, to ameliorate my typical apocalyptic prophecies: Paul Gottfried and certain other scholars who hail from the “right” forecast that a sort of “right wing populism” will arise in response to the bureaucratic apparatus and the governing class that operates its levers. While there is a danger that the Tea Party has already been co-opted by power-brokers, and while it is too inchoate or fractured already perhaps, this is one reason why the general phenomenon of the “Tea Party” so-called may be cause for hope. American populism typically gravitates toward more entitlements of a certain kind, but could a “small government” populism be a sustainable possibility in America?

  • DonS

    Cincinnatus, the whole Democratic party apparatus is built around a series of tax eating special interests. I certainly cannot speak to the intentions of politicians in creating entitlements, whether they be public assistance programs or public employee union benefits, but regardless of good intentions or not, they are not stupid. They know that building a dependent class guarantees a voter base, and they play to that base. Refusing to implement common sense border and immigration controls, ensuring that illegal immigrants are entitled to government benefits, creating lavish medical and pension plans for government employees, moving us toward single-payer medical entitlements, federal education department for funding K-12 education at historic levels, federal student loans and grants which prop up over-priced college tuition and isolate universities from market forces, and an abject refusal to institute common sense voter fraud protection measures.

    Republicans should have sworn off corporate welfare, farm subsidies, and other tax eating measures decades ago. They are by no means innocent in this assault on the taxpayer, and more pointedly on the future taxpayer. But at least there is an emerging core of responsible politicians in that party, such as Paul Ryan, who are figuring out that we are in a death spiral fiscally. I see no such logic emerging in the Democratic party as of yet. They are committed to continuing to engorge their special interest supporters.

  • DonS

    Cincinnatus, the whole Democratic party apparatus is built around a series of tax eating special interests. I certainly cannot speak to the intentions of politicians in creating entitlements, whether they be public assistance programs or public employee union benefits, but regardless of good intentions or not, they are not stupid. They know that building a dependent class guarantees a voter base, and they play to that base. Refusing to implement common sense border and immigration controls, ensuring that illegal immigrants are entitled to government benefits, creating lavish medical and pension plans for government employees, moving us toward single-payer medical entitlements, federal education department for funding K-12 education at historic levels, federal student loans and grants which prop up over-priced college tuition and isolate universities from market forces, and an abject refusal to institute common sense voter fraud protection measures.

    Republicans should have sworn off corporate welfare, farm subsidies, and other tax eating measures decades ago. They are by no means innocent in this assault on the taxpayer, and more pointedly on the future taxpayer. But at least there is an emerging core of responsible politicians in that party, such as Paul Ryan, who are figuring out that we are in a death spiral fiscally. I see no such logic emerging in the Democratic party as of yet. They are committed to continuing to engorge their special interest supporters.

  • DonS

    To this notion of “the best of intentions”, I make one more point. A person with truly good intentions commits their own resources to address the problem of concern. Politicians, on the other hand, are infatuated with committing the resources of other people for their own gratification.

  • DonS

    To this notion of “the best of intentions”, I make one more point. A person with truly good intentions commits their own resources to address the problem of concern. Politicians, on the other hand, are infatuated with committing the resources of other people for their own gratification.

  • Carl Vehse

    There is the question of whether Congress and the President and Vice-President will be paid during any shutdown. And in talking about non-essential services, should the SCOTUS (not to mention the lawyers at the Pentagon) be furloughed as well.

  • Carl Vehse

    There is the question of whether Congress and the President and Vice-President will be paid during any shutdown. And in talking about non-essential services, should the SCOTUS (not to mention the lawyers at the Pentagon) be furloughed as well.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@23) said (at 2:53pm): “it was the intention of the politicians to build a dependent class of tax eaters”.

    DonS (@26) said (at 3:11pm): “I certainly cannot speak to the intentions of politicians in creating entitlements”.

    Wow, what a difference half an hour makes!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    DonS (@23) said (at 2:53pm): “it was the intention of the politicians to build a dependent class of tax eaters”.

    DonS (@26) said (at 3:11pm): “I certainly cannot speak to the intentions of politicians in creating entitlements”.

    Wow, what a difference half an hour makes!

  • DonS

    tODD @ 29: Yeah, well. Poor choice of words the first time. “It was the intention of politicians to enlarge the population of tax eaters”would have been better, because that intention was clearly discernible from their actions. I’m trying to take your advice and get away from using language that implies a knowledge of heart intention.

    However, my point stands. There is no nobility in committing other peoples’ resources to address societal problems. Sometimes it is necessary, but it is not noble. Nobility comes from self-sacrifice.

  • DonS

    tODD @ 29: Yeah, well. Poor choice of words the first time. “It was the intention of politicians to enlarge the population of tax eaters”would have been better, because that intention was clearly discernible from their actions. I’m trying to take your advice and get away from using language that implies a knowledge of heart intention.

    However, my point stands. There is no nobility in committing other peoples’ resources to address societal problems. Sometimes it is necessary, but it is not noble. Nobility comes from self-sacrifice.

  • Porcell

    Cincinnatus: Mass democracy isn’t amenable to such things. Every single mass democracy in the world is in roughly the same boat as we are.

    I’d agree that mass democracy is part of the problem, though one needs to be careful about over-emphasizing it. America’s democracy in past years was built fundamentally on responsible, hard-working people of all classes who didn’t depend on the government for their welfare. About the mid-sixties, something fundamentally changed to cause many American people to increasingly rely on the government for their welfare. Also, especially among the working class, marriage declined, causing the economic and moral disaster of many young people to grow up without a father.

    All of the founders including the Deists claimed that no democracy could survive without the virtues of its people. Probably the largest cause of our present decline has to do with the shocking lack of serious virtue, especially widespread among the lower orders of our people, many of whom lack religion, have a poor work ethic, and either don’t get or stay married. For a cogent analysis of this go to Charles Murray’s recent AEI address The State of White America.

    Representative democracy for most of America’s history was one of the reasons for its greatness and it still could be. This anti democracy hobby-horse of yours lacks nuance.

  • Porcell

    Cincinnatus: Mass democracy isn’t amenable to such things. Every single mass democracy in the world is in roughly the same boat as we are.

    I’d agree that mass democracy is part of the problem, though one needs to be careful about over-emphasizing it. America’s democracy in past years was built fundamentally on responsible, hard-working people of all classes who didn’t depend on the government for their welfare. About the mid-sixties, something fundamentally changed to cause many American people to increasingly rely on the government for their welfare. Also, especially among the working class, marriage declined, causing the economic and moral disaster of many young people to grow up without a father.

    All of the founders including the Deists claimed that no democracy could survive without the virtues of its people. Probably the largest cause of our present decline has to do with the shocking lack of serious virtue, especially widespread among the lower orders of our people, many of whom lack religion, have a poor work ethic, and either don’t get or stay married. For a cogent analysis of this go to Charles Murray’s recent AEI address The State of White America.

    Representative democracy for most of America’s history was one of the reasons for its greatness and it still could be. This anti democracy hobby-horse of yours lacks nuance.

  • Grace

    Carl,

    Perhaps locking Obama out of the Oval office? – until the situation can be resolved? Michelle can prepare dinner tonight ….. why not?

  • Grace

    Carl,

    Perhaps locking Obama out of the Oval office? – until the situation can be resolved? Michelle can prepare dinner tonight ….. why not?

  • Cincinnatus

    Porcell@31: “This anti democracy hobby-horse of yours lacks nuance.”

    Kind of you to say, but I’m pretty sure that every other word of your comment is actually a restatement of what I said.

    Virtuous republican citizens begin asking for various things from the government, particularly as their “morals” decline, etc., –> bureaucratic state.

  • Cincinnatus

    Porcell@31: “This anti democracy hobby-horse of yours lacks nuance.”

    Kind of you to say, but I’m pretty sure that every other word of your comment is actually a restatement of what I said.

    Virtuous republican citizens begin asking for various things from the government, particularly as their “morals” decline, etc., –> bureaucratic state.

  • Porcell

    Cincinnatus, my point is that it is simple-minded to pin all of these problems on “mass” democracy.

  • Porcell

    Cincinnatus, my point is that it is simple-minded to pin all of these problems on “mass” democracy.

  • Cincinnatus

    Porcell, methinks you didn’t read your de Jouvenel carefully.

    I observe a careful distinction between mere democracy and “mass” democracy.

  • Cincinnatus

    Porcell, methinks you didn’t read your de Jouvenel carefully.

    I observe a careful distinction between mere democracy and “mass” democracy.

  • Carl Vehse

    Grace @32, then he’d spend even more time golfing.

  • Carl Vehse

    Grace @32, then he’d spend even more time golfing.

  • Grace

    Well Carl ….. the ole boy can drive himself and his golf clubs – it would give Michelle a chance to dust off the furniture.

  • Grace

    Well Carl ….. the ole boy can drive himself and his golf clubs – it would give Michelle a chance to dust off the furniture.

  • Porcell

    Cincinnatus, de Jouvenal, like de Tocqueville, favored liberal democratic civilization, though both warned of its dangers. One writer characterized these two as melancholy classic liberals. Both favored classic democratic liberalism over aristocracy or monarchy.

    What is the difference between”mere” and “mass” democracy? Also, pray tell, what other form of government do you prefer? Or, rather, how would you respond to Churchill’s remark that democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others?

  • Porcell

    Cincinnatus, de Jouvenal, like de Tocqueville, favored liberal democratic civilization, though both warned of its dangers. One writer characterized these two as melancholy classic liberals. Both favored classic democratic liberalism over aristocracy or monarchy.

    What is the difference between”mere” and “mass” democracy? Also, pray tell, what other form of government do you prefer? Or, rather, how would you respond to Churchill’s remark that democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others?

  • Trey

    The whole scenario plus a bombing campaign gives me whiplash to the mid-late 1990s. I think Obama is using Clinton’s blueprint. I don’t think he is being malicious it just happens to be similar situations. With that said, even if there is a shutdown, it won’t last long, but at least it might save the country some money.

  • Trey

    The whole scenario plus a bombing campaign gives me whiplash to the mid-late 1990s. I think Obama is using Clinton’s blueprint. I don’t think he is being malicious it just happens to be similar situations. With that said, even if there is a shutdown, it won’t last long, but at least it might save the country some money.

  • Carl Vehse

    Included with those deemed as providing “essential services” during a modified limited government shutdown will be the guards assigned to keep Barry Soetero’s birth certificate, passport records, and other records related to (e.g., refuting) his biographical claims from getting out to the public.

  • Carl Vehse

    Included with those deemed as providing “essential services” during a modified limited government shutdown will be the guards assigned to keep Barry Soetero’s birth certificate, passport records, and other records related to (e.g., refuting) his biographical claims from getting out to the public.

  • Kirk
  • Kirk
  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Carl “Eighth Commandment” Vehse, everyone!

    He gets upset if you call Quran-burning “tacky” and demands you “substantiate” your claim, but feels no compunction whatsoever in passing along “Birther” conspiracies. … To say nothing of calling for Obama’s execution.

    Carl “Eighth Commandment” Vehse, everyone!

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Carl “Eighth Commandment” Vehse, everyone!

    He gets upset if you call Quran-burning “tacky” and demands you “substantiate” your claim, but feels no compunction whatsoever in passing along “Birther” conspiracies. … To say nothing of calling for Obama’s execution.

    Carl “Eighth Commandment” Vehse, everyone!


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