Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Liberal Generation That Knew Not Carter

For a geezer like me it's hard to understand the new generation of liberals and their renewed push for big government.  Haven't they learned the lessons of the liberal failures in the stagflation of the 1970s?  Don't they realize just how the Reagan Revolution turned things around?

Well, actually they haven't; they don't.  Because if you are a chap like Ezra Klein, born 1984, or Markos "Kos" Moulitsas, born 1971, you weren't there.  Klein wasn't even alive!  Nor could they have reached political consciousness in the early 1980s when against all fashionable opinion, the amiable dunce Ronald Reagan turned around the US, economically and culturally, from the existential despair of the late 1970s.

It was in the late 1970s that liberals, having failed to maintain a vibrant economy and culture, reckoned that nobody could do it.  It was a huge embarrassment when Reagan actually did it, and it demoralized a whole generation of liberals.

The truth is that if you cut government spending, cut regulations, and stabilize the credit system, you get big-time economic growth.  That's what Reagan did in the early 1980s.  It took a couple of years for the economy to take off, but when it did...  Well, it shut liberals up for a couple of decades.

But then a new generation came along that knew not Carter and the utter futility of big government politics in the Carter era.  Golly gee-willikins, they began to say, how come we don't have comprehensive national health care yet?

Well, the new generation will find out in due course.  They will discover, as Obamacare grinds the nation to a halt, that the administrative liberal welfare state is a terrible idea, at least as far as comprehensive, centralized, bureaucratic, administrative "affordable" health care is concerned.  Probably the Medicaid problem (where up to 90 percent of Medicaid beneficiaries can't get a doctor) will metastasize across the whole health care system, and liberals will blame the insurance companies.

In Reason today, they are talking about the new crew at The New Republic.  The magazine started out in the 1910s as an unapologetic cheering section for big government.  But in the 1980s it had some second thoughts, as thoughtful liberals realized that something had gone wrong.  The New Republic started to get a bit skeptical of big government.  But now, with Obama and the Kos and Klein generation, it's back to full-throttle big government, and damn the torpedos!

How clueless can you get?

But don't despair.  The fact is that things are already going badly wrong.  The Great Crash of 2008, blamed on greedy bankers, was really a failure of politicians mucking around with the credit system.  The current Federal Reserve money-printing exercise is a full-on admission of political failure, the failure to reduce spending to fit the national revenue.  Atlantic today has a piece on the explosion of the Social Security Disability program, now at $128 billion a year and counting.  Way to go, liberals!  The entitlements are on course to crash in ten years.  Government education is lousy, and government pensions are going to bankrupt the states.

Why Worry!

If President Obama were a Republican the mainstream media would be screaming bloody murder.  But as it is, we will have to wait until the current generation of Democrats hits the wall, and the American people recoil in disgust.

Although Republicans are pretty discouraged right now, things are really not so bad politically.  FDR in the 1930s ran full-speed-ahead for six years before hitting the wall of a 60 seat reversal in the 1938 House midterms.  He won 57% to 40% in 1932 and 61% to 37% in 1936.  Obama, lest we forget, won 53% to 46% in 2008 and 51% to 47% in 2012, losing the House in 2010.  There is a difference!

The facts are that just about everything the Obama adminstration has done economically has hurt the nation's economy, from stimulus to Obamacare to energy regulation to putting off entitlement reform to cranking up the printing press to proposing a higher minimum wage.

But, you say, the American people are clueless on economics.  They don't understand how the Obama Kos Klein generation is hurting them.  That's true.  But the American people do know when it is Time for a Change.  And they will be knowing it good and hard by November 2014 and November 2016.

You can already feel the change in the air.  The fact is that Democrats have been on a forced march for the last 12 years, ever since the insult of Bush's "selection" in 2000.  After the reelection of Obama they reckon it is time to enjoy the fruits of office and relax a little.  They are only human, after all.

But the thing about government is that Government is Force, and for people that support the opposition, the incumbent government is always experienced as unjust.  The longer the incumbents are in power, the angrier they get.  Those are the kind of people who will be turning out in 2014 and 2016.  Liberals may swan around in their liberal bubble, but outside the bubble people are hurting, and pain is what motivates people to get to the polls.

But it is a shame that we have to relearn the lessons of the 1970s.  Because it is always the little people that get hurt.

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