JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: MODERN CONSERVATIVES’ FISCAL IRRESPONSIBILITY – NOTE ON AMERICAN DECLINE – AND A FURTHER NOTE ON SARAH PALIN   Leave a comment


 

 

JOHN CHUCKMAN

POSTED RESPONSES TO A COLUMN BY JEFFREY SIMPSON IN TORONTO’S GLOBE AND MAIL

Well said, Jeffery Simpson.

I believe there is an important contemporary political phenomenon with conservatives few have carefully observed.

As you say, fiscal conservatism has been dead for decades.

Both Reagan and Bush were big, big – truly reckless – spenders.

Yet they always were reluctant to pay the bills for their spending, typically cutting taxes again and again.

Not paying your bills is a fundamental violation of traditional conservative views and ethics, the one part of conservative philosophy I have always regarded well.

So what is a contemporary conservative?

A politician who tries to buy votes with tax cuts. Long ago, conservatives would say that liberal politician tried to buy votes with big, new programs. The conservatives finally hit upon a counter strategy of buying votes with tax cuts.

Tax cuts had the additional advantages of crippling the government’s ability to grow and creating a temporary Keynesian stimulus to the economy.

It has been an effective cheap trick, especially in the United States where hatred of the “fed’rah” government is bred in the bone.

And again, as you say, the one area where there are never cuts, only increases, is in so-called defense (so-called because just ask yourself, when was the last time the United States launched a war to defend itself?). This part of conservatism has applied primarily to the United States, a nation that regards itself as democratic yet continually behaves as a rather arrogant world imperial power.

Indeed, many Americans through a long and complex process of indoctrination Mussolini would have admired – in everything from marching bands, pledges, football homecomings, flags on porches, speeches, songs, social pressures of every description, plus the presence of the military everywhere including recruiters in every campus and high school – almost regard the very meaning of their country as a grotesquely-enlarged cartoon eagle, with its talons out, ready to strike.

And for so many young Americans of humble origin and limited prospects, the military is the key to a paid education, their part of the cheap political slogan, the “American Dream.” Plus a sense of worth, unavailable in McJobs, in a place which so exalts uniforms.

The only way you keep that whole thing rolling forward is with more spending and, truly, more wars – completely against the attitudes of most of the Founding Fathers who were generally traditional conservatives and afraid of standing armies.

So mindless support of the military-industrial complex – thank you, President Eisenhower, the last right-thinking Republican – has become a fundamental part of American conservatism.

Only recently, with the intense influence of the United States in Alberta and thereby on Stephen Harper do we see a bit of this poisonous philosophy coming to Canada.

Of course, the great game American conservatives have devised has within it the seeds of its own destruction.

Much as the former Soviet Union always contained the seeds of its own destruction – immense inefficiencies and endless spending on the unproductive military and security establishment.

The United States is unquestionably stuck on a downward path towards losing its imperial status with vast economic and fiscal inefficiencies and unbelievable spending on a military which never creates anything but waste and destruction.

While the United States remains frozen, much like the proverbial deer in the headlights, countries like China, India, Brazil, and even Russia are making genuine progress as efficient competitors on a grand scale.
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“And this is why there’s a Tea Party movement spreading across North America. Less taxes, less government spending.”

Sorry, the Tea Party is nothing but more of the same old, same old.

There is nothing new in it, whatsoever.

There have been many versions of the same thing, including the “contract with America” of that pudgy old phony, Newt Gingrich.

Just look at the party’s hooking up with Sarah Palin, truly a pitifully ignorant person who understands nothing of economics or, indeed, much of anything else.

The Party is a vehicle – paid for by some wealthy people – to harness the discontent of so very many Americans who really do not understand what has happened to them.

And so many Americans are virtually trained to look for quick and easy answers, trained to respond to celebrities like Palin, and trained not to question the fundamental assumptions of their society.

America’s middle class is in an unavoidable spiral of decline. Real wages have fallen for many years. Its efforts to maintain its situation – through two people working per family and moving out to distant suburbs for cheap land – is about played out.

The world of suburban sprawl and two large cars is coming to an end with oil prices which are only going to go up long-term. And America’s lack of competitiveness in many fields only grows vis-à-vis up-and-coming states. So does its debt of every description. And so do the foolish expenses of its military-security complex.

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