The Future as a Lesser Place
It is tempting to imagine that, if the leaders of the ruling party were to understand where their errors lie, they would make amends that would set the economy on a better course. Along with this hope, though, is the perhaps cruel but fair assessment that, at this point, the general citizenry of this country doesn't matter at all: those of conservative leanings have the political landscape they want, and they will allow their elected officials to proceed without caution; those of liberal leanings may wail to the wind, but they can do nothing to stop the inevitable turn to the Right the country is making.
In fact, the leaders of the ruling party have no intention of being made to "understand where their errors lie." Ideology is blessed by freedom from errors because the ideologically driven are blessed by freedom from introspection.
Despite what people may hear from the newswhat little attention they give itthe economy is not in good shape.
- The headline that some stock market index reached a three-and-a-half year high is wonderful news: that means a stock portfolio formed on that index has yielded exactly zero percent over a three-and-a-half year holding period.
- The headline that new home sales reached a seasonally adjusted, blistering high in October is honked for all to hear; but the November decline, the largest drop in almost eleven years from that high, is whispered in a corner.
- The headline that America has broken the back of yet another city full of insurgents in Iraq is pounded across the front pages of the news; but somehow, the broad military assessment that America is losing the warand that it cannot win the waris nowhere to be found in the respectable press.
The United States right now is running the largest budget deficit in its history. That deficit, along with the ones the Bush Administration has racked up before this one, are soaking up trillions of dollars in lendable funds, thereby setting the stage for a major, upward surge in interest rates. Only because the Federal Reserve has been pouring money into the U.S. economyand therefore, into the global economyhas this not been apparent. But now, the Fed can do no more coddling of an irresponsible President lest the fires of inflation become stoked by those increasingly worthless greenbacks swirling about.
Unfortunately, those increasingly worthless greenbacks have found their way in boat loads to the shores of other countries by virtue of our staggering trade deficits, and the currency traders of the world have reacted by turning the venerable currency of this nation into a pile of pot metal, Third World coins.
And all the while, the Administration plows forward, vowing to make permanent its ideologically motivated tax cuts, tax cuts that have eviscerated the treasury and the treasure of America. The Republican Party, which claims the free markets and their brutal efficiencies as its inspiration, somehow becomes inattentive when the free currency markets of the world lay down their assessment of what the White House has done to the nation's economic house.
Nothing can be done to stop the slow skid into a near-recession. The old-time Keynesian fiscal stimulators are off the table: cutting taxes to spur consumption is off the table because the tax cuts have already been made (and the three rounds of them barely made the economy twitch, anyway); creating jobs programs to get people working is off the table, not for ideological reasons, but rather because the government is broke; and stirring up a good, industrial-output pumping war right now wouldn't be such a good idea for rather obvious reasons.
The only path remaining for the Bush Administration and its hand maidens in Congress is to go the one, final step for which the disreputable supply-siders have been crying for three decades: eliminate the "hidden" and "onerous" tax on businesses that is called "regulation." One final tax cut that isn't even a tax cut, at all: it's a long-awaited present to a commercial quasi-nation that has always chaffed under the rule of administrative law far more than the real nation of American citizens ever complained about the rule of civil and criminal laws that apply to them.
As nothing can be done to stop the slow skid into near-recession, neither can anything be done to stop the slow descent of this nation into a hard land of brutishly tough laws on its people and complete license to its businesses.
But this won't be on the news because the sentiments of the people, conservative or liberal as they may be, really don't matter, now.
And there's no good reason for citizens to try to change the future, anyway, because it has already arrived.
The Dark Wraith has spoken.