Tuesday, October 29, 2013

GOP Establishment vs. Tea Party

Charles Krauthammer's appearance on Comedy Central's Daily Show seems to have sparked a big row.  It's between what might be called the Republican establishment's accommodationist stance towards the welfare state and the constitutional argument against it, typified by the Tea Party movement.

Charles Krauthammer defends the establishment argument here, and Andrew C. McCarthy makes the constitutional argument here.  Former leftist Ron Radosh votes for accommodation here.

I think the disagreements are based on the different assumptions of the different parties.

I don't think that anyone is suggesting that Republicans go into the elections of 2014 and 2016 and propose to end entitlements as we know it.  That is what the Republican establishment, as practical politicians, are telling us.

Anyway, the Tea Party folks aren't proposing to end entitlements; they expect to get theirs.

What thoughtful conservatives argue is that the authoritarian welfare state is doomed.  It is doomed because it has made promises that can't possibly be redeemed.  In their secret hearts conservatives would like to believe that they can persuade Americans to wean themselves off the entitlement drug.  But the truth about addiction is that people don't wean themselves off until they "hit bottom."  They have to see the wreck of their life in living color before they will swear off the demon rum.

I don't think anyone can expect that entitlements will end any other way.  They will end when the checks stop coming and the checks will stop coming when the government's credit is totally tapped out.

The question is what comes next.  How can we rebuild America on better principles?  The Tea Party, aided and abetted by folks like Mark Levin and his bestselling books such as The Liberty Amendments are reminding us that America is supposed to be about limited government.  A limited government can't make the kind of reckless promises that have got us into this mess.

Let's take Social Security.  We conservatives look at the current system and we call it unjust.  It is unjust because it expects the working population to pay seniors for the promises of the politicians irregardless.  The act of paying your payroll taxes is completely divorced from the process of getting your checks.

To illuminate this, let's look at a private system of savings for retirement.  You save your money, according to your means; you invest it in broad market index funds and bonds.  Every year you look at your nest egg and figure out whether you can afford to retire.  Let us illuminate what it means when you reach that point.  You are basically saying that the capital you have saved can now create enough jobs to support you in your retirement.

Let's say you have saved $250,000.  That money is out in the economy providing capital to companies that use the money to create jobs.  In return you get, say, 5% return, which is $12,500 per year.  Or you can get an annuity which will pay you about 10% on your money.  If that $250,000 is not enough, then you work a few years more.  If the market tanks, then you have to wait to retire until it's recovered.

This is a self-organizing and self-correcting system.  (Oh, and by the way, the news has been reporting for a while that baby boomers are putting off retirement, because they lost so much in the Crash of 2008).

The role for the welfare state in this is,  possibly, to take care of the people who have failed to save money, or have become disabled -- all through no fault of their own.  Although I think that it is better for charitable relatives and neighbors to do the taking care.  The role of the state, it seems to me, is to borrow money after a great disaster to keep house and home together while people work to recover from the crisis.

The problem with government running a safety net is that government is an armed minority that stays in power by giving out loot to its supporters.  It has ever been so, ever since the Iliad, and it is certainly still so in the day of the advanced administrative welfare state.  So instead of creating a cooperative, social network of people caring for each other, government always gives you a predatory elite and its ravenous supporters that understand nothing except power and pillage.

The fundamental weakness of the welfare state system comes fully into focus when things go wrong, as right now, when the government has to cut back a little on its disbursements in so-called "austerity."

What happens?  The supporters of the government, the pensioners and the government employees, pour into the streets and "demand" their rights.

It ought to be obvious, to anyone with a brain, that the administrative welfare state is not a self-correcting system.  Instead, it is a system that is always careering towards chaos and conflict.

I like to say that the problem with government is that the only thing it knows how to do is conduct a war.  So everything it does has to be turned into a war: on poverty, on drugs, on bigotry, on racism.

The problem with wars is that there necessarily has to be a winner and a loser.  That is not cooperative; that is not social.  It is martial.  And that is why conservatives argue that the social safety net should not be a government safety net.

Once the government is in charge then the safety net turns into jobs for the boys, and subsidies for the cronies, and outlandish promises that can never be redeemed.  Of course it does.  That's because government is an armed minority: an army.  The political leaders are the captains and they love to fight.  The individual soldiers are recruited with the lure of loot, and they expect to get it, or else they will offer their soldiering talents to another captain.

In real life, of course, the captains use the soldiers as cannon fodder.  The soldiers often don't get their loot; they die of disease or get killed in a battle.  And sooner or later they don't get paid.  That is the lot of the political supporter too.  They get all carried away with the promise of the free stuff.  But in the end their glorious leaders betray them, and leave them to rot by the side of the road, used up and broken, just like broken-down soldiers of real armies.

That, of course, is what is happening right now to the supporters of Obama, like the woman who liked the idea of Obamacare but didn't realize that she would be the one to pay for it.

Socialism, progressivism, statism, call it what you will, has always lived on utterly empty promises.  Obama's promises for Obamacare are more egregious that most, but not too much.  The problem for Obama and for his liberal cohorts is that perhaps the Obamacare promises should have been a little less specific, and should have been a little less short-term.

After all, when millions of women are getting cancellation notices from their insurance companies, they know that they cannot keep their health plan, as the president promised.

But it is only when administrative liberalism has hit bottom that the practical Republican politician and the Tea Party radical will be able to unite and offer the American people a new social safety net based on limited government and consensual cooperation.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Are Conservatives Like Me Anarchists?

I'm a little perplexed.  Over the past two weeks I've been called an anarchist twice.  The first time was when I was explaining my civil society ideas to a 60-ish liberal, a man that started out adult life as an SDS activist at Boston University.

The second time was when a liberal took out after my piece "There Has To Be a System."

Who, Me?  An anarchist?  I have to admit it took me aback.

But then I realized that it all made sense.  To a liberal, a world without their big-government programs would indeed be a world without structure, a world of chaos.

But let's get one thing out of the way.  Wikipedia defines "Anarchism" as "a political philosophy that advocates stateless societies based on non-hierarchical free associations."  That's not what I or any conservative I know about or any libertarian I know about is proposing.  Anarchy comes from the Greek and means "without a ruler."

What libertarian conservatives do want is a state that is as small as possible, with a ruler whose powers are strictly limited to the need to defend people against looters and pillagers foreign and domestic.  We do want most social or "societal" functions dispatched by free associations, which might or might not be "non-hierarchical."  But we admit the need for a state.  It's just that we don't admit the need for a state of liberals, for liberals, and by liberals.  We think that such a state can be described in a single word: unjust.

So when liberals call me an anarchist they are projecting.  They are saying: but you want to tear down everything that we have spent the last century building.  And all that will be left is societal rubble.

This all issues naturally from the liberal analysis of the condition of humanity.  Starting at least with Marx, the left has asserted that capitalism is at least as hierarchical and exploitative as feudalism.  Under capitalism the workers are exploited.  The only solution is to meet force with force: a revolution to smash the power of the bosses, or "countervailing power" to match corporate power with union and government power.

If you think the lefty way then you think of society as purely a balance of power, just like the balance of power between nations.  Unilateral disarmament by the workers (and now the traditionally marginalized) would mean their utter destruction by the bosses.

(Yeah.  Funny how liberals call for unilateral disarmament between nations but not within nations.)

The conservative and libertarian worldview says that the fundamental relationship in the modern era is the economic relationship of the invisible hand.  The way to get ahead is not to go out looting and pillaging like some medieval king or some fascist or socialist dictator.  The way to prosperity is to divine the needs of the consumers and give it to them.

Liberals say no, that couldn't be true.  Unless we step in with our wage and hour laws, our social safety net, and our vigilant regulation of business then workers will get exploited without limit and we'll get a society of gross inequality with the rich and the poor and nothing in between.

Conservatives say the science is settled on this.  Starting right when Marx made his predictions about the "immiseration" of the workers the lot of workers has improved.  And the lot of workers has improved fastest where the economy and the society were the most capitalist.  In the 1950s John Kenneth Galbraith talked about "countervailing power" between Big Business, Big Labor, and Big Government.  Today, of course the Big Businesses of the 1950s are a corporate memory and the private sector unions reduced to penury.  Instead we have the market-focused behemoths like Walmart, Microsoft, and Apple and Google.  But Big Government is bigger.

What did Sam Walton, founder of Walmart, say about corporate power?
There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.
You can see why corporations like to get in bed with government when things start going south. Government can stop the consumer from "spending his money somewhere else" and can force him to keep spending his money at the old place.

Conservatives as anarchists?  No, liberals.  You are just interpreting the world anarchy, a "world without rulers," to mean "a world without liberal rulers."

Can't say I blame you.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Liberals Driving People Away From City

One of the hardy perennials of our national political garden is the liberal piece about racist whites bailing out of the city.  Here's the latest, Jessica Grose's "Rich People Love Diversity, Until They Have Kids," from Slate.

Things are getting worse, of course.
According to an analysis of census data by Kendra Bischoff of Cornell University and Sean Reardon at Stanford University, the proportion of families living in affluent areas doubled from 1970 to 2009—it went from 7 to 15 percent. At the same time, the percentage of families living in poor areas also more than doubled—it went from 8-18 percent.
You see, what's happening is that these affluent areas "deliberately exclude affordable housing."  That's how they stay uniformly affluent.

Meanwhile over at Forbes Joel Kotkin is reporting on the baby boomers moving away from the suburbs.  They are not moving back to the city.
Perhaps no urban legend has played as long and loudly as the notion that “empty nesters” are abandoning their dull lives in the suburbs for the excitement of inner city living. This meme has been most recently celebrated in the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal.
On the contrary, they are moving further out, everyone except the most affluent, the ones that can afford the high cost of inner-city living.

The indictment that liberals hurl at the white flighters is that the middle class is abandoning the poor to the inner city.  And that they are racists.  Meanwhile liberals are moving into the city because they like to live in a diverse community and they care about the poor.

Of course there is a germ of truth in the liberal indictment.  Most non-liberal whites think that living next to underclass minority communities is utter folly.  You just don't want your kids anywhere near the dysfunctional and violent youth of the underclass.  And now we have a report of a white couple getting beaten up by a gang of black kids in Brooklyn.  So we were right.

But liberals are only telling part of the story.  Middle class and affluent folks are not leaving the city just to get away from the toxic and dangerous culture of the underclass.  They are also leaving to get away from the toxic political culture of liberals.

You see, liberal political control in a city is a long-term marker for decline.  It means everything from the inconvenience of up-to-the-minute micro-bossiness about recycling and plastic bags and all the latest liberal nostrums in the schools.  And for some reason liberals see nothing wrong with overgenerous public pensions bankrupting state and local governments.

Even if they are not conservative, most people just want to be left alone to live their lives in their own way among their own kind.  And especially they want to raise their kids in a safe and friendly environment.  And safety in this context means safe from liberal social engineers.

Here's another idea from the social scientists.  Guess who drives the urge to go and live in the suburbs?  It's women.  Women may like to live in the cool city when they are single twentysomethings.  Why not?  Young people tend to congregate where young people tend to congregate.

But after women get married and start a family they want a nest.  Ever notice that you never see birds nesting?  There's a reason for that.  If you want to get your fledglings off the nest you need to hide them away from the predators.  Human females are no different.  Once they get into the family way they experience no need to strut their stuff on the sidewalks of the city.  Instead, they want safety and security for the children they bring into the world.

That's what really powered the move to the suburbs after World War II.  Affluence and automobiles meant that women could bury themselves in leafy suburbs and, for the first time since their ancestors came off the farm, leave the edgy city to the fashionables.

Maybe, as the trendspotters would like, women would like to return to the city when their nests empty out. But by that time women are anchored in their dream homes and their relationships in the suburbs.  And they really don't need to return under the tutelage of liberals that take politics with every meal.

The exodus from the city to the suburb has nothing to do with racism or with evil oil companies killing the old streetcar lines.  It has everything to do with women nesting, and liberals driving normal people out of the cities with their poisonous politics.

Friday, October 18, 2013

EBTers Sack Walmart

Obamacare isn't the only government program having computer problems. Recently the EBT program went down.

EBT's the electronic replacement for Food Stamps. It's a debit card that gets refilled every month so that welfare recipients can use them to buy food.

When EBT went down most merchants stopped accepting EBT payments. But two Walmart stores in Louisiana decided to honor EBT purchases anyway.

So what do you think the good EBT folks did when Walmart kindly let them continue shopping on the honor system? Did they thank Walmart for letting them shop even though nobody could verify whether they had a balance on their EBT cards?

No they didn't. What they did was to buy up the stores and loot them, buying not just food but clothing and electronics.

It's a dramatic illustration, as if we needed one, of the difference between government and business, a difference that I dramatize in my American Manifesto.

Government is force. A government is an armed minority occupying some territory and funding itself by requisitioning or taxing the local inhabitants. Who need it? The argument is that you need an agency of force to prevent the robbers and pirates from running rampant. Yet governments maintain themselves by paying their supporters from funds extorted from ordinary people. This may be in wages and pensions paid to modern government employees, or in a license to loot, like crony capitalists, liberal grant recipients, Social Security Disability Insurance, and EBTers.

So wherever you find it, government is an armed minority doling out loot to its supporters, even though it says that its whole reason for being is to defend against the looters.

But business is different. Business is not about force and loot, because business does not start with the problem of how to maintain the apparatus of force, but how to find or make something, some product or service, that people are willing to pay for.

So right away business starts not with Ego's needs, but with Alter's needs, to use the lingo of modern Marxists. It means that business must spend every waking hour thinking about what other people want not what I want.

Suppose you have discovered a product that other people want. Then you have a new problem. How do you get the customers to come back and buy again? The answer is simple. You must build a relationship with your customers; you must treat your customers well, and get them tolike you and feel that they are treated well. There is a word for this sort of thing. It is called Trust. There is even a book about it, by Francis Fukuyama.

So when the EBT system goes down, Walmart thinks of its EBTers as valued and trusted customers. Unfortunately, Walmart is wrong.

EBTers and the other supporters of the welfare state are not trusted "others." They are like the soldiers of a warrior chieftain. They are like the warriors in the Iliad. They only know looting and pillage. They range the world looking for things to steal and loot, just like Sherman's "bummers" or the Russian soldiers that, reportedly, raped every single German woman east of the Elbe on their way from Moscow to Berlin in World War II.

The modern global underclass is just like the licentious soldiery of old. They are not connected into the market economy by a web of service and reciprocal obligation, by long-term relationships of trust. On the contrary, they are looters and pillagers, and they owe loyalty only to the political chieftain of the moment, the one that offers them the best opportunity for ripping off free stuff.

The sooner we stop it the better.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Be of Good Cheer

OK.  So the House Republicans lost the shutdown war.  So what, as they say in corporate-speak, are the "lessons learned?"

Lesson One: Obama had to have a win, and he got it.  But we shall see whether it turned out to be a Pyrrhic victory or not.  Because Obama won on the issue to keep his Obamacare lead balloon fully inflated even as its website was collapsing and Americans all over the country were waking up to a doubling of their health insurance premiums.  Golly.  Another victory or two like that and the president will destroy the Democratic Party.

Lesson Two: Republicans needed to show their base that they had some fight in them.  Yes, it was a pathetic Keystone Kops routine, but at least they fought.

Lesson Three: Republicans needed to know which leaders were prepared to get up on the parapet and yell defiance at the Ruling Class.  That was what Sen. Ted Cruz's (R-TX) "meaningless" non-filibuster was all about.

Lesson Four: These Obama crises are really good for usgovernmentspending.com.  Yesterday the site got just under 20,000 visitors.  Back in early September is was more like 4,000 visitors per day.  Yay Obama!

Remember back in the innocent days of 2000 when Al Gore ran for president and his website was full of stuff about "fighting for the people against the powerful?"  Back then I thought this sort of faux populism rather funny, but I'm not laughing now.  Right now I am feeling a deep hunger for a leader who will fight for the People of the Responsible Self against the ruling class of liberals, experts, special interests and crony capitalists and their supporters, the EBT folks that looted Walmart.

Why is this?  It is because the liberals are finding themselves behind the 8-ball and they are cheating in order to stay in the game.  Back in November 2008 after liberals won the election with the First Black President they never thought they'd be sitting where they are today, defending an unpopular law with parliamentary tricks and executive illegalities.  Liberals think that, with their pro-science world view and their Keynesianism and their education and their policy-analyst expertise that they know how to operate the levers of political and economic power to fix society and fix the economy.  They never thought that in 2013 they would be running the printing press flat out (making money for the 1%).  They never thought that the economy would be struggling to make 2% GDP growth.  They never thought they would have to observe a code of omerta on the embarrassing fact of high unemployment.

Because liberals own the mainstream media and the culture and the universities and all, they have a safety net and can attempt death-defying political high-wire acts that Republicans and conservatives just cannot attempt.  But eventually gravity wins out.  Eventually even the most partisan of liberals and the most oblivious of low-information voters begin to feel in their gut that something is wrong.  That "eventually" is probably occurring right about now.

Think about it.  For ten years liberal leaders have been teaching their followers that conservatives, from President Bush on down, are stupid.  And when they are not stupid they are racists, sexists, homophobes.  What was needed was for an intelligent government that knew what it was doing and that relied on science not on religion for its inspiration.  Well who is stupid now?  Who is stumbling and bumbling now?  Who is failing to bring Americans together now?  Who has produced the worst government program failure ever?

Of course the liberal partisans are never going to admit that their guy is a bust.  But they will start to lose faith in the project.  They will start to cast around looking for better leaders.  They will start drifting away from the reassuring NPR news.  The lo-fos will start picking up on anti-Obama cracks from the TV comics.

And then there is 2016.  African Americans will be staring in the face the truth that we conservatives already knew.  Put not thy faith in princes, even First Black Princes.  African American voters will be wondering what their enthusiastic support for President Obama has delivered for them.  They will not be excited about an old white woman like Hillary Clinton, even if she will be America's first woman president!  Yeah.  They will stay home.

But in 2016 the conservative base and the independent conservatives that sat out 2008 and 2012 will be loaded for bear.  All they will need is a presidential candidate that can ignite their smoldering rage.  If they want a nice guy they can have Marco Rubio.  If they want a tough guy they can have Ted Cruz.  Both men come from big states, so that's all right.

Yeah.  It's tough to take a loss, especially against a guy like Barack Obama.  But Obamacare will still be there messing up peoples' healthcare next week, and next year.

And Obamacare is an issue that goes straight to the hearts of women: their healthcare.  Here's a fearless prediction.  Look to the gender gap snapping shut in 2014 and 2016.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

What is Wrong With Republicans?

Here we are, less than a day before debt default -- or more exactly -- pay-as-you-go, and the House Republicans collapsed in a heap on the floor.

Is this a disaster, or what?

Who knows?  But J.T.Young writes that it's a lot easier for the presidential party to impose party discipline.  And right now President Obama desperately needs party discipline to show some backbone to his troops after the chaos of the Syria debacle and the Obamacare rollout.
Democrat divisions have been becoming more pronounced. Prior to the debt limit and shutdown, which strengthened Obama’s control over his Congressional allies, recent concerns have arisen over Obamacare and its implementation, continuing revelations over NSA surveillance, the recent Summers-Yellen debate over heading the Fed, and over his stance on Syria.

If Congressional Democrats should really break with Obama in appreciable numbers, his presidency would start to disintegrate as well and Democrat fissures become even more numerous and apparent.
Yeah.  That's the real problem.  Unless President Obama spends a lot of energy maintaining discipline in the ranks his people will start looking forward to the time without Obama.  When that happens, and it is a question of when and not if, the Obama ship will go on the rocks -- while everyone complains about Obamacare 24-7.  Why even a chap from Daily Kos is all wigged out about his steep increases in health insurance premiums.  And now that "Tirge Caps" is getting hammered he has this to say about the president's signature achievement: "This appears, in my experience, to not be a reform for the people."

Listen.  All I'm worried about is that I'm in Boston and scheduled to take the train to Connecticut on D-Day, October 17.  What happens if the president pulls some new shutdown shenanigan Thursday?

But let us ease up from this misery and delight in the Hot People of the Responsible Self.  I am thinking of the hot mom that posed with her three young children on Facebook.  To the haters and nay-sayers that objected to her photo she had this to say.
I won’t go into details that I struggled with my genetics, had an eating disorder, work full time owning two businesses, have no nanny, am not naturally skinny and do not work as a personal trainer,” she wrote, in part. “What I WILL say is this. What you interpret is not MY fault. It’s yours. The first step in owning your life, your body and your destiny is to OWN the thoughts that come out of your own head.
Couldn't have said it better myself.  We humans are social animals, so everything we do is socially conditoned.  But back in the Axial Age the idea got about that each individual ought to be individually responsible for their one life to God.

If you are a conservative and Republican things are pretty discouraging right now.  But with people like Maria Kang in America you have to feel that we are destined to get out of the current Obama Slough of Despond pretty soon.

We'll do this not because of fate, but because of the individual determination of each Person of the Responsible Self.

And because President Obama is driving the Democratic Party off the cliff.

It may look like the president is beating up Republicans up and down Pennsylvania Avenue, but I suspect that he is subjecting his party to unnecessary and damaging battles that are a waste of political capital.

Only time will tell.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

It Ain't Over Till It's Over

The usual voices are condemning the Republicans for their usual vices over the government shutdown.  The mainstream media is all upset about Republican extremism, and the conservative mainstream is all upset about the Republican stupidity or, alternatively, cowardice.

And there's the third voice attacking Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) for imagining that he could stop Obamacare with one filibuster.
I suggest that before moving that discussion forward we acknowledge and bewail the barren naïveté of those Republicans — are you listening, Sen. Cruz ?— who thought all they had to do to make Obamacare go away was fold their arms and clamp their jaws.
No, no, no, William Murchison.  Ted Cruz did not imagine that he could stick his finger in the Obamacare dyke.  He was just establishing his bona fides as a fighter for conservative principle.  He was merely running for president in 2016.

The result of the shutdown thus far, according to the Rasmussen Poll, is that the president's popularity has upticked a couple percent, from 45-48% to 47-50%.  Why?  You can see the reason in the plot of the Strongly Approve / Strongly Disapprove numbers.  Strongly Approve has gone from about 23% to 28% in the last couple of weeks.  Strongly Disapprove hasn't moved, although it is showing signs of increasing from the 39% area.

So the net result so far has been to gin up the president's support among his supporters which is, presumably, the president's strategy for the 2014 midterms.

But my overall feeling is that the president's constant attempt to demonize and corner the Republican opposition is just bad politics -- quite apart from it's being bad statesmanship.

If you ask me there is a reason why presidents usually work with the other side and avoid unnecessary partisanship.  It's because they know it's not good politics to humiliate the opposition and then rub salt in their wounds.  That's a really good way to get the opposition burning with a desire for revenge.

President Obama seems really to believe in the Saul Alinsky school of politics, in which you rile up your marginalized supporters to take it to the Man; you embarrass City Hall or the employers to make them follow their own rules, to personalize and demonize.

But the Alinsky Rules assume that you, the community organizer, are the outsider, and that you, because you are the outsider, don't have to follow the rules because you don't have the power.

That's not what's going on here.  President Obama is the Man: he's the president.  The mainstream media is the ruling class.  They are the ones that must follow the rules because if they don't then it makes no sense for the conservatives, as the insurgents, to abide by the rules either.

The Rules, liberals, are there for the government and the ruling class to follow.  When the government follows the rules then people afraid of injustice, afraid of being on somebody's "list" can rest easy in their beds.  Unjust as this administration may be, the insurgents can say to themselves, at least the government follows the law.

But President Obama and the liberals don't seem to think that they have any obligation to follow the law, or be seen to follow the law.  The president seems to think that he can do whatever he can get away with: Obamacare waivers for powerful special interests, delay in employer mandate, IRS obstruction of Tea Party groups.

Put it this way.  If a Republican president were doing what the Obamis are doing the mainstream media would be hysterical.  There would be daily above-the-fold front page coverage in The New York Times.  The left-wing activists would be staging daily rent-a-mob protests.  We would all know about the new imperial presidency that was worse than Richard Nixon and scandals that were worse than Watergate.

At this point, we do not know how angry the voters are about the Obama strategy of division and name-calling.  That's because Republicans aren't allowed to indulge in hysteria.  And because the mainstream media doesn't know any Republicans and doesn't know what is going on in their minds.

We will only know the answer to this in November 2014.

But my guess is that a deep and powerful outrage is building in the breasts of the conservative independents.  The point is that all government, any government, excites rage in the breasts of everyone but its unthinking supporters.  There's no mystery about this.  Government is force; government is injustice.  And government makes people angry when the force and the injustice is done to them.  That's why we get "throw the bums out" elections; that's why sixth-year midterms are usually a disaster for the president's party.

So go right ahead Mr. President with your division and demonization.  In the opinion of this humble writer you are digging a grave for Democratic hopes in the next two election cycles that will be used as a cautionary tale for up-and-coming political operatives for the next fifty years.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Yellen in the Night

Oh dear.  Our new rule-of-the-experts nominee for Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board admits she didn't have a clue about the Crash of 2008.  Here's the quote from Janet Yellen:
“For my own part,” Ms. Yellen said, “I did not see and did not appreciate what the risks were with securitization, the credit ratings agencies, the shadow banking system, the S.I.V.’s — I didn’t see any of that coming until it happened.”
Now I think that it is reasonable to suppose that the average ruling-class bear couldn't have known that we had a once-in-a-generation financial crisis in 2008.

But the folks in charge of the nation's money supply should have known that cheap credit in the aftermath of the tech crash of 2000 and that huge subsidies for home mortgages and government policy to shovel mortgages to people that couldn't make the payments was going to end in tears.

The problem is that for the Keynesian liberals a little bit of cheap credit is worth it.  It's worth it to give the economy a bit of stimulus.  It's worth it to help create jobs.  And all the other self-indulgent stuff that the ruling class spews out.

But for you and I all this mucking around with the credit system is poison, for us and for our lives.  Right now it means that ordinary people can't get a decent rate of interest on their savings.  At other times it means inflation raising the price of groceries.  And inflation eating away at the value of your savings.

And all because the cheap credit philosophy of the Keynesians means that they are always trying to get out of a jam.

Now we have Janet Yellen, the president's nominee to run the nation's monetary policy.  And she admits that she didn't really have a clue about what was going on in the 2000s in the run-up to the Crash of 2008.

So what does it mean three years down the road when the current quantitative easing results in a nasty inflation?  What mumbo-jumbo will she be muttering when things start to go wrong?

Actually, we know what the liberals will be saying then.  They will be blaming the banks and they will be proposing credit controls to stop the reckless speculation that is the inevitable consequence of their foolish policy.

It will be a case of Yellen in the dark.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Why Did Liberals Have to Blame Right for JFK Death?

We all know the story of the Kennedy assassination on November 22, 1963.  A lefty ex-Marine who'd been to Moscow and to Cuba did it.

But liberals have ever since wanted to believe that it was right-wing hate that did it.  George Will rehearses the story for us.

James Reston wrote that Kennedy was "a victim of a 'streak of violence in the American character,' noting especially 'the violence of the extremists on the right.'"  A New York Times editorial spoke of "the shame all America must bear for the spirit of madness and hate that struck down" JFK.  Really?  From a lefty that went to Moscow?

What were they smoking?  And, of course, as the assassinations continued with Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, liberals intensified their indictment of America.  Gun violence was the problem, they have insisted ever since.

Now we see the same paranoia from liberals.  It's directed at the Tea Party, the most sober and friendly of political movements.  But liberals call Tea Partiers "extremists."  It's directed at the government shutdown.  Liberals call the Republicans "arsonists."

I don't think there is anything special here.  We are just seeing the natural behavior of a quasi-religious movement.  Liberals don't experience politics as politics, but as saving religion.  So any setbacks they experience are not the vicissitudes of life, but the power of Satan.

Right now liberals are in a perilous situation.  The economy is barely recovering from the Crash of 2008 and liberals don't know why, because it ought to have responded to their wise Keynesian medicine.  Obamacare is debuting to catcalls; this is utterly demoralizing given that universal health care is a natural evolution of every civilized society.  Republicans, the hated party of racists, sexists, bigots, and homophobes, gives every indication of obstreperous disrespect.  Something weird and chthonic is taking place, and liberals are feeling the strain.  Liberals are starting to panic.

Rewinding back to the Sixties, the self-delusion that began with the "climate of hate" response to the Kennedy assassination ended up in the stagflation and powerlessness of the Carter years.  The remedy was the Reagan revolution of 1980.

It's beginning to look as if the delusion of 2000, that liberals were robbed of the election of Al Gore, that continued through the mad partisan destruction of George W. Bush and into the delusive worship of Barack Obama, is set to end in a massive liberal crackup in 2014-2016.

And it all issues from the central liberal delusion, that you can build a good society on the government of experts and activists, that administration and system can improve on the natural sociability of human individuals.

Our liberal friends make a big deal about the importance of science, at least when it comes to evolution and climate.  But when it comes to economics and government they are the worst deniers of all.  Government, we know from economics and public choice theory, is a very blunt instrument and is just not up to the job of running a modern society.

Once you promote government from the job of defending against enemies foreign and domestic you are heading for trouble.  That's because government is force, and force always means a war, and force applied to your fellow citizens leads to injustice.

Liberals have no clue about the depth and breadth of the injustice they have sponsored in this nation with their endless wars on poverty and wars on behalf of the marginalized.

But injustice is injustice.  Sooner or later it finds its voice and builds up to a head of rebellion.

And liberals, in their delusions about right-wing hate, will be the last to know.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Obamacare: Just Another Press on the Brow of Labor

The basic technique of government is to extract a fee from all market transactions.  That's what sales taxes and tariffs are all about.  Or government can demand to get a cut out of every paycheck in an income tax.

But probably the most ingenious approach is to demand that employers provide benefits to their employees.  Then the government doesn't actually apply a tax.  It just forces market participants to act in the way the government wants.

But it really doesn't make any difference in the big picture.

The big picture is that all these interventions harm the economy.  Let's look at Obamacare. Writes Michael Tanner:
By raising the cost of employment, Obamacare makes employers slower to hire and reduces economic growth. The CBO recently warned that due to the law, the equivalent of 800,000 full-time workers will leave the labor force over the next ten years.
But hey, that's what government does.  When it takes money from Bill to pay to Pete, or it forces Bill to provide services to Pete, there's a cost.  The cost is that the economy is smaller: less jobs, less products, less services.  Unfortunately, most people don't get it.  They buy into the idea that other people can and should be forced to provide benefits to them.

Here's a couple of Obamacare victims that suddenly find out from their insurance companies that they are going to be paying for Obamacare.
Cindy Vinson and Tom Waschura are big believers in the Affordable Care Act. They vote independent and are proud to say they helped elect and re-elect President Barack Obama.

Yet, like many other Bay Area residents who pay for their own medical insurance, they were floored last week when they opened their bills: Their policies were being replaced with pricier plans that conform to all the requirements of the new health care law.

Vinson, of San Jose, will pay $1,800 more a year for an individual policy, while Waschura, of Portola Valley, will cough up almost $10,000 more for insurance for his family of four.
Golly gee-willikins!  Who could have seen that coming?  They want to make me pay for the new government program?  Cindy Vinson, retired teacher, was laughing at Speaker Boehner and his government shutdown tactics, until the Obamacare bill came due.

But really, what planet do these people live on?  All government interventions have a cost.  They disturb the natural flow of the economy, of people providing goods and services to other people.  So, almost inevitably, something will get lost when the government steps in.

What government does, and it does it pretty well, is to inject plausible lies into the conversation.  It encourages people to believe that they have a right to a decent job, to health care, to education.  But the truth is that these basic goods are the reason we work.  It is our labor, our skills, what we can offer to other people, that makes gives us the right to hope for a decent life in exchange for what we provide to our fellow citizens.

We can use force to supply deficiencies, because some people get too little out of their contribution to society.  But every time we allow government off the leash to do this, we reduce the basic sociability of our society because we increase the span of force.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

White Working Class Used to be Little Darlings

Here's conservative icon Ben Stein getting an earful from a racist.
“This is a George Wallace moment,” my interlocutor continued. “White working class people, white small businessmen, mothers, are just sick at being pushed around by the courts, by the government, by the media, by the intellectuals...."
And so on to blacks on welfare and affirmative action.

But I have to say to the apologist for the white working class: What did you expect?

Back in the day the white working class was the little darling of the liberal ruling class.  Liberals couldn't do enough to extol the sturdy virtues of the working stiff.  At least that's how it went back in the 1930s.

But you could tell things were changing in the 1950s when Jackie Gleason portrayed a less than stalwart municipal bus driver.  And the worm had clearly turned in the early 1970s when Atchie Bunker was made into a figure of derision.

Listen fellahs!  Sooner or later the ruling class gets bored with the little darlings they've created.  They decide that blacks, or women, or gays are far more engaging than bitter-clinger working class whites.

And then the old little darlings are left, deserted, with their bitter tale of betrayal.

Listen up!  When you sign up with the politicians as their little darling du jour you are signing up to be their mistress.  They'll be around to chuck you under the chin and give an expensive present at election time, but the rest of the time you are expected to smile sweetly and never complain.

Here's the future for the white working class.  The affair to remember is over.  The government goodies are over.  The movies, songs, paeans to honest toil are over.  Now there is nothing left but to suck it in, get an education, get a job, and join the People of the Responsible Self in the middle class.  You will find them in the Republican Party.

When you are a little darling of the politicians you can sit on your butt and complain about the unfairness of life.  And because you are a pretty little darling and you have still got what it takes the liberal ruling class will respond to your whining with government programs.

But what happens when the bloom of youth is over?  Then the victim card doesn't work any more.  Then you have a choice.  You can slowly decay like Blanche DuBois as you continue to depend on the kindness of strangers, or you can suck it in and get a life.

The time has come for the white working class to suck it in and get a life.  The time has come for the white working class to embrace the life-giving ideology of individualism, which means that you take responsibility for your own life before God and stop blaming other people.

I call the people that do this the People of the Responsible Self.  The political home of the People of the Responsible Self in the United States is the Republican Party.

Glenn Reynolds is complaining today that while Washington isn't working, the world outside achieves wonders like private spaceflight.  Well, yeah.  Politics isn't supposed to "do" anything.  It is civil war by other means.  Don't expect anything other than a war out of the political process.

Even liberal pup Ezra Klein knows something is wrong.  For him, of course, it's all about the intransigent Republicans preventing things from getting done, from the end of earmarks to the failings of Speaker Boehner to the lack of big-business influence on Republicans. (Imagine: The Chamber of Commerce supports a "clean" continuing resolution for the budget mess just like the Democrats!)  Oh, and Ted Cruz.

But really what's happening is that every time liberals try to spoon that big government medicine between the lips of the little darlings, the little darlings upchuck.

Probably what we are seeing is the entry, finally, of the white working class into the Republican Party.

Because, at long last, the little darlings of the white working class have hit bottom and they have nowhere else to go.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Let Liberal Billionaires Help With Debt Ceiling

There is only one thing that a government must avoid if it wants to live long on this earth.  It must avoid the situation of Greece and Co.  They must avoid the situation where the government has to offer brutal rates of interest to lenders.

Put it another way.  If you can sell your government debt for a reasonable rate of interest, you are in clover.  It's when you have to pay north of 10% interest that things start to go south quickly.

But right now the US Treasury expected to pay an average of 1.2% per year net interest, or $223 billion in FY14, according to usfederalbudget.us.  Hey, me worry?

No the real problem is a "sudden stop" like they had in Britain under the Stuarts.  That's why the Brits had to call in the Dutch Prince William of Orange and his Dutch Finance.

The problem for the US government if Congress fails to pass an increase in the debt ceiling is a) whether to ignore Congress, and b) what programs to finance.  Oh, the agony!

But I have a better idea.  Let liberals step in and help.  Liberals after all believe with Oliver Wendell Holmes that "I like to pay taxes.  With them I buy civilization."

OK liberals, here's a chance for you to walk the walk.  Just log into eftps.gov and pay the Feds some estimated on your 2013 Federal Income Tax.  Here's the schedule I suggest for my liberal friends.
  1. If you are a liberal billionaire, in the Warren Buffet or Penny Pritzker class, I suggest a $10,000,000 payment on eftps.gov.  Remember, the poorest guy on the Forbes 400 is worth $1.2 billion so there ought to be a good 100 liberals in there.   That $1 billion to buy civilization.
  2. If you are a liberal centi-millionaire, I suggest a $1,000,000 payment on eftps.gov.  There ought to be a good thousand or so of liberal centi-millionaires.  That's another $1 billion.
  3. If you are a liberal earning over $10,000,000 a year, I suggest a $100,000 payment to eftps.gov.  I figure there must be 10,000 of you chaps.  So that's another $1 billion.
  4. If you are a liberal earning over $1,000,000 a year, I suggest a $10,000 payment to eftps.gov.  There must be 100,000 of you.  So now we've got another $1 billion.
  5. Now let's talk about the lumpen liberals: government managers, professors, executives with non-for-profits.  There must be half a million of you folks.  How about a cool $2,000 payment to eftps.gov for you guys and girls.  That adds up to another $1 billion.
So there we have a quick $5 billion whip-round to tide Uncle Sam over for the week or so before we get a deal on the debt ceiling.  And liberals will like it.  Because by paying those taxes, liberals will buy civilization.

Oh, don't worry, liberals.  eftps.gov is still up and running.  In spite of the government shutdown.

And if that $5 billion isn't enough, hey liberals!  Pony up another $5 billion.  We are talking civilization here.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Media Lapdog Syndrome Strikes Again

I suppose you can say that the moment I lost my youthful innocence was the day that Jack Patera, the Seattle Seahawks first coach, was fired.  We immediately learned from the sports reporters that they had never liked Jack.

Oh really.  This was the guy that these reporters had been interviewing on the pre-game and post-game and in-between and goodness-knows-what show and we all thought he was their best buddy.

And all along these intrepid reporters were just being regular media lapdogs.  Do the Seattle Seahawks need the media more than the media needs the Seahawks?  Who knows?

What we do know is that the self-serving nonsense about comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable is just that.  What the media really do is take kicks from the powerful and apply kicks to the powerless.

So now we learn that the proposed biopics about the saintly Hillary Clinton have run into a problem.  Nobody is willing to talk to the movie producers.  The word has gone out from Clinton HQ and everyone that knows what is good for them has clammed up.

What we really know about the media is that if they aren't dishing the dirt on some political figure it is because they are too powerful.  Nice little career you got going here.  Pity if something happened to it.  Pity if nobody who was anybody refused to talk to you.  Because what use to a journalist is anybody who is really nobody?

My theory about the Obama years is that the media adulation is not just knee-jerk terminal liberalism.  The bottom line is that the enforcers are out there and they will quickly remind any journalist what it would cost to go public on the Obamis.  In other words, the media is afraid, and rightly so,  because any single media personality is expendable.  In a minute.

Hey.  No biggie.  But the fact of the lapdog media is just another argument for limited government.  If the media won't expose wrongdoing because it's afraid, and won't write inconvenient truths about existing powerful political figures, then there is one thing to learn.  The political figures are too powerful.

How do you reduce the power of political figures?  You reduce the power of government, the power of government to come down like a ton of bricks on anyone for any reason.

What was it that Conrad Black did that sent him to jail?  Apart from the fact that a Chicago US Attorney, Patrick Fitzgerald, wanted to make a name for himself.  Here's Ben Stein wondering what his friend, a financial planner, did that got the SEC after him.  That's the SEC that failed to stop the Crash of 2008.  And why not?  Because the drivers of the crash, "affordable" home mortgages, were supported by the most powerful people in the land.  And don't get me started about Bernie Madoff.

Maybe there's a silver lining to this black cloud.  Maybe the rise of the blogosphere means that there is more likely to be some naive fool out there that will publish the dirt about some powerful person before he realizes that he is fishing in deep waters and that he will regret his rashness for the rest of his life.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Tea Party Extremists? You Bet!

The word from the Democrats at this time of partial government shutdown is "Tea Party extremists" and "fairness."  And any Republican or conservative automatically winces.

Because we conservatives are not extremists, and we are not warring on fairness.  Are we?

Of course we are.  We want to reverse the century of progressivism, of administrative free stuff.  And you know what they call that?  Extreme.  And not just unfair to present government dependents, but cruel, unjust, and mean-spirited.

There is a word to describe who we are: Revolutionaries.

Anyone that wants a revolution is an extremist.  You are sidling up to that famous line in the Declaration of Independence, to "pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor."  And indeed most of the signers of the Declaration did lose their lives and their fortunes to the American Revolution.

Jeffrey Lord makes things clear this morning.  It's a battle of the crusades he writes.
Mr. Obama and his friends are on a crusade to turn America ever further left than it was when they took charge...

For conservatives, this shutdown and the response to Obama is about nothing less than the life of America itself. A crusade to restore America to the constitutional republic it was designed to be.
But here is the point.  We, the conservatives and Tea Party extremists are the progressives, striving to create a new thing.  The Obamis and the liberals are the reactionaries, reverting back to the old thing.

OK.  What do I mean?

I mean that identity politics and the big man handing out the free stuff -- and 40% of Americans think that Obamacare is free -- is the old way.  You can see it in chimpanzee culture where the males conduct continuous border wars to enlarge the troop's territory.  The result is the free stuff, the food and fruit that is free for the taking for the females.  And the bigger the territory the more baby chimps that grow to maturity.

You can see the old way operating in Homer's Iliad.  Homer's warrior culture was a simple culture of loot and plunder.  And the plunder included well-born women.  The conflict at the heart of the Iliad is the argument between Agamemnon and Achilles over the woman Briseis.  Here's the Wiki story:
Briseis, a daughter of Briseus, was a princess of Lyrnessus... When Achilles led the assault on that city during the Trojan War, she was captured and her family (including her father, mother, three brothers, and husband) died at his hands.[2] She was subsequently given to Achilles as a war prize to be his concubine. In the Trojan War, captive women like Briseis were regarded as objects to be traded amongst the warriors.[3]
That's nice.

The other interesting thing about the Iliad is that the warriors assume, as a matter of course, that they must sacrifice cattle to gain the favor of the gods.  Whenever some warrior wins a fight, it is assumed that the gods are on his side, and the action of the Iliad is constantly interrupted while the gods decide who is to win the next round of the battle on the plains of Troy. 

Isn't that pretty well how Democratic politics works?  You need to "pay to play."  The name of the game is getting in power and using the power of government to hose pensions and subsidies at your supporters.  You use the tribal loyalties of "identity politics" to divide off your constituents from the overall nation, encouraging people to think of themselves as African-Americans, Hispanics, feminists, gays, rather that 100% Americans.  Wise experts decide who will win or lose.

But conservatives are different.  We are the heirs of a new thing that started around 3,000 years ago.  Karl Jaspers called it the Achsenzeit or Axial Age.  The new idea was that each individual had a personal covenant with God.  The relationship with God was no longer the supplicant buying favors with sacrifice, but a contract with God.  God is no longer playing favorites between the Greeks and the Trojans, as the mood takes him.  He is saying: here are the rules which both you and I should observe.

The Axial Age heralds the entry into history of what I call the People of the Responsible Self.  When you have a covenant with God then you are responsible for your life.  You cannot say, oh well, I would have been OK but the exploitation done me down.  You cannot say the capitalists or the Jews or the rich or the bankers are to blame.  You are responsible for your life, even in the face of evil and overwhelming power.

My guess is that this revolution in human consciousness was confined to the early cities.  It's in the city that each actor is individually responsible.  It's in the city that contract comes to the fore.  It's in the city that you start to deal with people who are not your kin.

And my guess is that the expansion of the new idea reflects the growth of the city.

But the revolution in consciousness is not easy.  It really is a complete turning over, the revaluation of all values.  That means it is an incredibly hard thing to do.  That's why, as soon as the Industrial Revolution got started, movements of reaction like Marxism and Fabianism began, each with a nostalgia for the comfort of the tribe, and the constant demonizing of the Other that is necessary in the eternal border wars of the hunter-gatherer and agricultural ages.

Only, of course, the old ways don't work any more.  They were perfect for the hunter-gatherer tribes with their hard-won territory, and the feudal states with their vulnerable grain stores.  You had to stick together and above all defend those borders.

We know the old ways don't work because the Soviets conducted an actual experiment in class tribalism and, after unimaginable cruelties, disintegrated in 1990.  We have Argentina, a perennial basket case of charismatic leadership and class warfare lurching from one devaluation to another.  We have Detroit.  We have Chicago coming up.  In the industrial age you simply can't operate on the old patronage/clientage model.

But we humans are still programmed to love that free stuff, and politics is still run on the old Homeric model: join with me and get your share of the spoils.  And so it is with the authoritarian welfare state.

We Tea Party extremists, we revolutionaries, we Few: we want to reverse the backwards lurch to the tribalism and serfdom of the authoritarian welfare state.  We are the People of the Responsible Self and we long for freedom, the freedom to do the responsible thing rather than kowtow to the knout of the welfare-state enforcement officer.

And that is why the battle is joined.  It's a fight to the finish between the nostaglic tribalism that goes under the name of "identity politics" and the universal freedom and responsibility of the thriving citizen in the thriving city.

Call me an extremist for the new way, the Way of the People of the Responsible Self.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Liberalism Starts Shutting Down

Back in the old days liberalism was a plaything of the educated youth.  Angry young men like Karl Marx saw the suffering of the hungry 1840s in Germany and declared that there had to be a better way that didn't put such a heavy burden on the workers. The Pre-Raphaelites and the Fabians sneered at the atomism of individualism and its reduction of every value to the materialistic "will it pay?"  These young men and women looked at the world and found it to be unjust.

Youth is always good at coming up with sweeping, idealistic theories, temples of reason, to show the way to the glorious future of peace and justice.

There's just one little problem.  That government is force.  Government is always an army looking for a war to fight.  In the 19th century you can argue that government had a mandate to fight against the cruel working conditions in the mines and the factories.

In those days, without a doubt, the rich were fat and idle, and the poor were thin and overworked.

But now?

Now we have Obamacare just rolling out, and, surprise surprise, the insurance exchange websites don't work.  And women are greeting their husbands in tears because their health insurance premiums have gone up.  That's because, necessarily, Obamacare is a war.  It's a war on... well what, exactly?

Government tends to get into two kinds of war.  There are wars for justice, noble efforts to blow away the accretions and cruelties of the ancien regime.  And then there are wars of loot and plunder, evil efforts to descend on ordinary people and hated minorities and strip them of their wealth and assets.

The government army always marches under the flag of justice but is often really engaged upon a orgy of plunder.

That's how to understand modern liberalism in general and Obamacare in particular.  The whole point is to distribute loot among the Democratic voting base.  That how you explain the waivers.

That's even how you explain the government shutdown.  The Dems need to frighten their supporters every now and again to make them realize how much they need their tribal leaders.

Hey you guys!  Without us you would be nothing!  Richard Fernandez thinks that the Democratic position in the shutdown saga is weaker than the Dems are letting on.
 Like any Ponzi scheme they need money to keep the pensions, the promises, the whole system of rewards going. Like a Ponzi setup, an ever-enlarging Big Government has only two modes: a brilliant tomorrow or total failure.
The Dems don't have any room to negotiate, for "a step back in the ever forward drive for bigger government means not smaller government but the cliff."  Why, if the Dems concede something to the Republicans this time then the GOP will be back for more concessions next time.  Where will it end?

So the grand visions of the 19th century have collapsed into the grubbing  attempts to borrow money to keep "the whole system of rewards going," to keep the troops from deserting.

It has been ever thus.  The king starts out on a magnificent campaign to conquer vast new lands, but eventually starts to run out of money.  For a while he can keep the army together by looting the countryside and by exhortations.  But eventually, without more money, the army melts away and the glorious campaign comes to nothing.

That's the advantage of capitalism for government.  When you have a thriving economy the government can tax and borrow to fund unimaginable wars, foreign and domestic.  But you want to be careful not to gum up the works with stupid regulation and wasteful subsidies.  Because then you might kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.  And you might frighten away the widows and orphans that you need to keep buying the government's bonds.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Shutdown: Looking Past the Tactics

Government "shutdowns" are said to be bad for Republicans.  And that's probably true in the short-term sense.  Our liberal friends in the mainstream media tend to report the news in liberal terms.  Thus a government shutdown means that women and minorities will be unable to get the benefits they need, and therefore Republicans are taking bread from the mouths of babies.

But long term it doesn't seem that big of a deal.  Sean Trende shows that the government shutdowns of 1995-96 didn't seem to annihilate the Republicans when it came to the 1996 elections.  True they did manage to lose some House seats, but mainly in Clinton-leaning districts.

So let's focus on the donut, and not upon the hole.  That's what supply-siders Arthur Laffer and Stephen Moore do.  They note that the big Democratic spending occurred in 2007-10, when Congress was Democratic.  Since 2011, with Republicans running the House, spending has come down, rather more than we might think.  Although Republicans seemed to lose the August 2011 debt-ceiling crisis and the December-January fiscal cliff crisis, in fact they won, because they got substantial cuts in spending.  That's good for the economy, as Laffer and Moore point out.
The federal government’s main activity now is to redistribute resources, mostly from producers to non-producers. When the money the government takes from workers and producers is used to pay people and companies not to work—food stamps, unemployment benefits, bailouts, Solyndras, Obamacare health subsidies—it’s a double-whammy.
It's not good for the economy when government takes stuff from some people and gives it to others.  Why not?  Because when you give money to people, whether 19th century Russian heirs or 21st century "disability" recipients, they don't need to get out and get a job.  Where "job" is defined as doing something useful to other people for which they are prepared to pay money.

But look at the list above: "food stamps, unemployment benefits, bailouts, Solyndras, Obamacare health subsidies."  Add in too-big-to-fail banks and grants for studying global warming, and you'd define the current over-under Democratic coalition.  And the Obama years have been very good for them.

But the ordinary middle class has not done well.  If you want to start a business, the regulatory hail-storm has beaten you back.  If you want to retire, the Crash of 2008 made you sell at the bottom and now you can't even get a decent interest rate on your savings account.  If you are a middle-class college graduate you are buried in student debt.

In the 2000s the Democrats did a fine job encouraging "social liberal economically conservative" voters away from the Republican party.  That was easy when the economy seemed to be OK and you could always get money from the mortgage ATM.

But now, after nearly eight years of the over-under Democrats hosing money at their base, the "social liberal" question seems to be less important.  The fact is that if you are an unorganized individual, not a green energy capitalist, not a union member, not a welfare-state dependent, you are tearing your hair out right now.  You are wondering: can I ever retire?  Will I ever be able to start a business?  Will my children be able to afford a decent education?  Will they find decent careers?  Will the government come after my savings, like they have in Cyprus and Poland?

The fact of politics is that you may not like the other people in your party coalition, but you put up with them because the alternative is worse.  Libertarians may not like fundamentalist Christians, but when it comes to smaller government, what difference does it make?

And so I suspect that all the sound and fury of the government shutdown will signify nothing.  The fact of the matter is that if you are a member of the People of the Responsible Self these Obama years are the times that try men's souls.

Come 2014 and 2016 the People of the Responsible Self won't be worrying too much about the niceties.  We will just want Obama and Pelosi and Reid gone.