Despite all my efforts, it’s Monday again.
Rain and wind up here this early morning on California’s north coast, but the storms that have plagued the US upper Pacific coast appears to be fading pretty fast.
Clear skies and joyous sunshine a-coming!
Wrong — CNN poll: “…58 percent say congressional Democrats are acting like spoiled children, with that number rising to 69 percent for the GOP in Congress…”
(Illustration found here).
In other words, Congresscritters are brats — no real surprise there. And these people have no shame when the rubber meets the tar road, as they are right and everyone else is wrong.
Or so they think. Actually, they don’t think at all as the last few years the US has governed itself by rocking the boat every few months — constant-shutdown, permanent-emergency governance is so financially disastrous it’s near-ludicrous, but apparently we’re so freakin’ rich we have that margin for waste.
And spoiled children in a spoils society.
Robert Samuelson explains America’s change in society, from John Kenneth Galbraith’s ‘The Affluent Society‘ to one of a kind of spoils-of-war system:
This explosive abundance, Galbraith argued, meant the country could afford both private wants and public needs.
It could devote more to schools, roads, parks and pollution control.
Economic growth became the holy grail of government policy.
Production was paramount.
It muted social conflict.
The “spoils society” reverses this logic.
It de-emphasizes production and fuels conflict. Here’s why.
There are two ways to become richer.
One is to provide more goods and services; that’s economic growth.
The other is to snatch someone else’s wealth or income; that’s the spoils society.
In a spoils society, economic success increasingly depends on who wins countless distributional contests: not who creates wealth but who controls it.
But this can be contentious.
Winners celebrate; losers fume.
Of course, the two systems have long coexisted — and always will.
All modern societies chase growth; all redistribute income and wealth.
Some shuffling is visible and popular.
Until now, that’s been the case with America’s largest transfer, which is from workers to retirees through Social Security and Medicare.
In 2012, this exceeded $1 trillion.
Still, for the nation, the relevant question is whether productive behavior (generating economic growth) is losing ground to predatory behavior (grabbing existing wealth and income).
There are good reasons to think it is.
Since 1950, the U.S. economy has grown slightly more than 3 percent annually.
But projections for the future are just above 2 percent.
The slowdown mostly reflects an aging population, which translates into less expansion of the workforce.
Indeed, overall growth of 2 percent may be unattainable if, as some economists argue, the pace of innovation is slackening.
All this suggests diminishing economic gains in the productive sector.
The fewer the gains, the more people will fight over existing income and wealth, because — as has been said — that’s where the money is.
The United States’ annual income (gross domestic product) now exceeds $16 trillion; the value of all fixed assets owned by businesses and individuals is roughly $50 trillion.
Diverting even a small sliver of these sums can be hugely enriching.
Distributional battles involve attacking and defending bastions of wealth and income.
As I said, the spoils go to the victor. However, in this particular case there is no victor, but instead a gang of batshit crazies running the country into the ground. There can be no further explanantion — the GOP is a pile of worthless pieces of shit.
Josh Marshall at TPM:
For all the ubiquity of political polarizing and heightened partisanship, no honest observer can deny that the rise of crisis governance and various forms of legislative hostage taking comes entirely from the GOP.
I hesitate to state it so baldly because inevitably it cuts off the discussion with at least a sizable minority of the political nation.
But there’s no way to grapple with the issue without being clear on this single underlying reality.
Sufficient evidence of this comes from 2007 and 2008 when Democrats won resounding majorities in Congress and adopted exactly none of these tactics with an already quite unpopular President Bush.
This is the reality that finally brought Thomas Mann and Norm Ornstein, two of DC’s most arbiters of political standards and practices, fastidiously sober, even-handed and high-minded, to finally just throw up their hands mid-last-year and say “Let’s just say it: The Republicans are the problem.”
And the problem, however, will not go away. In 17 days or so, another asshole crisis occurs when the US hits its debt ceiling, and a pure-promise yet another crossfire in the politics of crisis governing. This country is screwed, and we the people, the screw-ees.
Paul Krugman adds his point this morning:
No sane political system would run this kind of risk.
But we don’t have a sane political system; we have a system in which a substantial number of Republicans believe that they can force President Obama to cancel health reform by threatening a government shutdown, a debt default, or both, and in which Republican leaders who know better are afraid to level with the party’s delusional wing.
For they are delusional, about both the economics and the politics.
On the economics: Republican radicals generally reject the scientific consensus on climate change; many of them reject the theory of evolution, too.
So why expect them to believe expert warnings about the dangers of default?
Sure enough, they don’t: the G.O.P. caucus contains a significant number of “default deniers,” who simply dismiss warnings about the dangers of failing to honor our debts.
Meanwhile, on the politics, reasonable people know that Mr. Obama can’t and won’t let himself be blackmailed in this way, and not just because health reform is his key policy legacy.
After all, once he starts making concessions to people who threaten to blow up the world economy unless they get what they want, he might as well tear up the Constitution.
But Republican radicals — and even some leaders — still insist that Mr. Obama will cave in to their demands.
Spoiled assholes out for the spoils of disaster.