February 17, 2013

Burning Questions

One of our readers from Canada, Peter (TNSG), has some questions about US politics.

 Peter asks:
Being a Canadian, I don't really have a dog in this fight.  However, I am still worried about what's happening in the United States right now, both out of concern for the welfare and liberty of people in the US and a more self-interested concern about the knock-on effects that future economic and political turmoil in the US will have on Canada.  (After all, the US is my country's neighbour, closest ally, and biggest trading partner.) 

If I may, I'd like to ask your opinion about the "going Galt" and "let it burn" movements I've read about in the small-c-conservative US blogosphere.  If I'm understanding things correctly, the starting premise behind these movements is that the leftists are going to win, no matter what--which seems at first glance like giving in to despair.  However, the idea seems to be more like letting the leftists build the New Socialist Worker's Paradise, in the sure and certain expectation that the New Socialist Worker's Paradise will collapse under its own weight, much like the old one (the Soviet Union) did.  Then, once the dust settles and the leftists have been run out of Washington in disgrace (tar and feathers will presumably be involved), sensible people will have a chance to rebuild the republic on a sensible basis.  (The "going Galt" movement seeks to speed the process up by starving the Worker's Paradise of tax revenue it will need to fend off collapse.)  It's not so much giving in to despair but enduring short-term pain for longer-term benefits, or so the theory goes. 


First let me say that you are absolutely correct to be concerned. This is because a failed state on your southern border with 1200 nuclear weapons and several times your population can safely be categorized as "a bad thing".

And lets be clear the prospect of the US as a failed state is a nontrivial possibility at this point.


The last chance to save the country without massive disruptive and painful changes passed in November of last year. The debt situation is bad enough but the approaching waves of boomer retirements along with the already massive debt mean that by 2017..the first time we have a (slim) possibility of regaining the whitehouse we will be dangerously far along the road. See this chart...see how steep the increase is.



We currently have a debt that is about 100% of GDP. Keep in mind that Germany's Wiemar Republic had Debt that was about 133% GDP in 1919...things economic went higgly piggly very shortly after that. Wiemar Germany had almost no defense expenditures and was much farther ahead of the rest of the world in many industrial areas than we are now, and yet....

The ONLY way to stave this off is massive cuts in spending and considerable economic growth. The latter requires structural changes to regulations to make the US more friendly to business which are anathema to progressives. It also requires some tax cuts particularly in the area of capital gains. The second half of that equation ain't gonna happen with Obama and the Democrats in charge.

The first half....well that's actually LAW.

You see, some time back, Obama and the US congress set up a budgetary time bomb called the sequester, which would massively and painfully slash EVERY aspect of the budget. Nothing would avoid the cuts. This was a compromise until after the election as both parties hoped to be in a stronger position when the date (March first) came along. As it turned out the situation is not greatly changed. The Republicans still control the House of Representatives (the lower house) and the Dems still control everything else. There have been many attempts at fixing this but the Obama administration has not yielded on anything. The Republicans yielded on raising taxes for high income earners (eg. businesses which even a Kensiyan will acknowledge is bad for this sort of economy).
The Democratic controlled Senate has not passed a budget in 4 years (they are required to by law BTW)

And the draconian cuts still loom.

These cuts will be painful to the public.

The Democrats control the vast majority of the media and lefties like Zuckerburg own virtually all social media, so when these cuts hurt people the Republicans WILL be blamed.


Given that we are not going to get any pro growth policies enacted with 2/3 of the govt in the hands of the Dems....
Given that the Senates refusal to perform their constitutional duties and pass a budget makes budget negotiations to finesse the pain of the cuts impossible....
Given that deep cuts in federal spending are needed....
AND given that the sequester is looming ANYWAY and is legislated to kick in in March....

...several conservative comentators have decided the best course of action is to "Let it Burn", that is let the harsh cuts of the sequester kick in.  This will hurt a lot of people , but elections have consequences.  The cuts are arbitrary and severe, but cuts are necessary and cuts are the ONLY thing we can do to slow the growth of the debt.

Yes SLOW, because the debt will still keep growing just slower...This is a desperate delaying tactic to buy some time so that MABYE after the 2014 elections...and MABYE if we win the white-house in 2016  we can start paying it down.

LET IT BURN! 'cause strangely enough it's the only responsible option open to us.


Going Galt and "Let it Burn" are actually rather different.

Going Galt is, in its most basic form, a big "L" Libertarian idea. The notion is that all the productive people stop working and their employees and the free riders then see the error of their ways and beg them to come back....and elect people who will not torment them.

It's flawed on a number of levels. Libertarians have little in the way of loyalty so there will be plenty of cheaters. The public is unlikely to be grateful to those that abandoned them and total economic collapse is not conducive to a flowering of individuality and liberty...see Wiemar.

However, "Going Galt" also refers to the impact of certain policies. Religious institutions like Christian Hospitals shutting down rather than kill unborn babies is an example of a type of conscientious objection that is referred to as "Going Galt" in conservative circles. Likewise people who are small business owners and who liquidate their businesses because the increase in taxes, regulations and Obamacare obligations make them marginal or money losers are said to be going Galt. Those who have enough saved up and don't want to deal with the new hassles of various recent regulations and shut down their business early are refereed as such.

As to your view of our motivations.

No one except a handful of whackadoodles with no notion of reality believe that allowing the left to turn the country into the mess they so desire and suddenly have it collapse is a viable option.  The USSR held on for 70 odd years and what sprang up in its place was such that at least one of our readers came here to escape.

An economic collapse like happened to, say, Argentina,  Zimbawe or Wiemar will not have well behaved people lining up saying "Aw shucks, we were wrong. Let's get rid of our safety net and do things right." An economic collapse means desperate hungry people looking to a strong leader to save them...looking for some group to blame for their woes, and who are willing to give up many rights if their children can but eat.
In those countries Peron, Mugabe, and an angry little Austrian Corporal were only too happy to oblige.

Desperate hungry people are not fertile ground for the tree of liberty, nor are the listless or the ignorant.  They are lye to its roots.

To avoid this there are many of my compatriots who believe that the only option open to us is a controlled burn...but it is to save the tree, not consume it for what is most likely to grow in its place are weeds and thorns.




Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 01:49 AM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
Post contains 1369 words, total size 9 kb.

1 Thank you for your reply, and thank you for correcting my misconceptions about "let it burn" and "going Galt".  I should perhaps apologize for this lengthy comment; feel free to edit it or delete it entirely if you wish.

...a failed state on your southern border with 1200 nuclear weapons and several times your population can safely be categorized as "a bad thing".  And lets be clear the prospect of the US as a failed state is a nontrivial possibility at this point.

My personal nightmare scenario in that regard would be a Second War Between The States--one that could end up going nuclear.  My fears are compounded by the fact that Canada's most densely populated areas, including our two largest cities (and the city I live in), are more-or-less downwind from big US cities; it doesn't help that US leftists are already waging what amounts to a cold civil war.

The USSR held on for 70 odd years and what sprang up in its place was such that at least one of our readers came here to escape. (...) Desperate hungry people are not fertile ground for the tree of liberty, nor are the listless or the ignorant.  They are lye to its roots.

I saw that those were major flaws in the "give them what they want, it'll blow up in their faces" plan I'd outlined in my comment, and I suspected that the problem was really with my (mis)understanding of the ideas behind "let it burn".  (I should have gone into more detail about my uncertainties in that regard.)

An economic collapse means desperate hungry people looking to a strong leader to save them...looking for some group to blame for their woes, and who are willing to give up many rights if their children can but eat.

One wonders if this has been the leftists' gambit all along, with of course one of their own becoming the Dear Leader.  This may be a variation of the Cloward-Piven Strategy; the idea being (again, if I read it correctly) to deliberately implement policies that will hamstring free enterprise, drive millions of people into welfare (or some other dependence on government cheese), run up the national debt, and ultimately trigger an economic collapse.  Then, having given the nation's economy the death of a thousand cuts, the leftists will declare the collapse to be The Final Failure Of Capitalism and will implement The Only Obvious Alternative, i.e. communism.  (The flaw in that plan--beyond its despicable ruthlessness and treachery--is that there's no guarantee that the leftists will get the upper hand in any post-collapse power struggle, or that they won't turn on each other in a new Reign of Terror.)  In that light, Pelosicare Obamacare, Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac, Dodd-Frank, the stimulus, and other recent US policy debacles look ominously less like bugs and more like features. 


Posted by: Peter the Not-so-Great at Mon Feb 18 16:10:44 2013 (ElBzz)

2 Oh. One other thing. A good deal of this sort of Let it Burn talk is sarcasm or ironic, but that's hard to filter out even between us down here and certainly across cultural/national barriers.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at Mon Feb 18 16:39:31 2013 (vp6an)

3 I hardly think a $44 billion cut in a $3.6 trillion budget counts as Draconian, except inasmuch as the ruling class is planning on making full use of the Washington Monument defense.  (You hear an ~$88 billion figure, but half of that is things that weren't going to happen anyway, relabeled as cuts, like how in 2011, they said "we're not going to do a Census this year."  Boom, you can now claim the cost of the 2010 as a cut in the 2011 budget (or could, if there were one.)  Also, remember that the remaining $44 billion or so is not a cut in absolute terms, but a reduction in spending increases over 2012, so the 2013 spending will still be higher than 2012 spending!

Posted by: RickC at Tue Feb 26 20:58:53 2013 (WQ6Vb)

4 It's not even a cut...
However it will  hurt. it WILL be painful. I live in Hampton Roads and layoff notices are already starting to go out. The POTUS is making sure that this is as painful as possible...milking it for all it is worth. For those like my sister who will be laid off this will indeed be catastrophic.

That being said, it's the least bad option available and to be frank much more severe cuts are needed.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at Tue Feb 26 21:06:12 2013 (vp6an)

5 "to be frank much more severe cuts are needed."
Absolutely.

Posted by: Rick C at Thu Feb 28 20:00:13 2013 (WQ6Vb)

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