Friday, October 24, 2008

The Iron Rice Bowl

In the 1960's the 'best and the brightest' blundered into the Vietnam War. Their idiotic micromanagement and overintellectualizing set ridiculous parameters which hamstrung our forces there and prevented a swift victory. When things started to get tough they walked away from the policy and joined the leftists in the permanent bureaucracy and the media in attacking the war and the man they left holding the bag, LBJ. Their sons used the 2S deferment to avoid the draft and spent the years of the war hiding in 'elite' universities which were intimidated by mobs of violent drug-addled Maoist revolutionaries into becoming bastions of politically correct thought.

These same campus revolutionaries grew to become powerful, important people. As the MegaState grew enormously so did the opportunities to carve out a fortune as a lobbyist, department head, consulting attorney, head of a 'non-profit' or any of the other myriad ways to milk the system for ten or twenty times the size of your pathetic 'salary'. But those salaries arent so bad either. Even in local government salaries have swollen to the point where people are easily in six figures. Even cops and prison guards are in 100k-land, with the promise of a phat pension after they retire, and the Max of Social Security if they work a few more years in the private sector. The office buildings full of these myriad 'departments' pop up like mushrooms, all named for the local pork-barreling congressmen who managed to get the overpriced boondoggle of an office building approved and built by his kickback-serving union buddies and contractors that gave him a healthy taste on the side, causing the building to cost four times what it would if it was built by private enterprise.

But the middle class has been on the take too. A liberal government loan program has made college mandatory for any kid who wants to get ahead in the world. The colleges are full of kids downloading their papers off the internet and killing the monotony by binge-drinking and snorting coke. Now the 'status' of the degree is all that matters; college-educated nudniks wander the landscape as ignorant as donkeys and overloaded with debt. What, if anything, you might have managed to learn in college is almost irrelevant. The tidal wave of credit that caused the real estate and finance boom was a gift to most middle class people. Most partied with hundreds of thousands of dollars in fake 'equity' and parlayed these magically generated wealth into obscenely large houses and the trappings and pretensions of elegance. Cable channels sprung up whose themes were remodeling your home, cooking gourmet food and dressing with style. "TV dinner by the pool, I'm so glad I finished school!" sneered a Frank Zappa song in the sixties...but if you DID finish school you could join the swelling class of 'middle managers' shuffling an ever-growing mass of papers and e-mails back and forth like some tide of sludge that flows aimlessly back and forth over the landscape. It used to be that a doctor was a doctor. He had a medical records girl back at the office and a nurse. Now he's a 'medical corporation' attached to legions of insurance, accounting, and legal paper shufflers. Even the simplest medical transaction is handled by dozens of people by the time its resolved.

The wealth of this class of smart, educated, pampered professionals is tied up in three places; their house, their pension and their 401k. There is an air of certitude in their lives that doesn't exist in the lives of the little dactylos who scurry about in their little office domains or who perform the various services or provide the products that they buy. The Iron Rice Bowl has arrived. If you reach a certain point in government or the bureaucracy of a mega-large corporation these days, and not a high point either, you can be assured that you will never feel want or need again.

But whats this? Can the system which has been constructed so very carefully since 1933 have some fatal flaw that no one, up to now, has noticed. After all, expansion has occurred always in the same direction under Republicans and Democrats since the days of FDR. When Clinton and Gingrich went to the mat in 1996 it was during an argument about the rate of increase of Medicare; Clinton wanted 7.5% Gingrich 7.2%. Thats the difference between Republicans and Democrats.

But now there's a problem. Medicare is broke. Government intervention and bungling has made mortgage equity decline drastically. In the 'bailout' (aka effective nationalization) of the financial industry the shareholders were completely stiffed, they lost everything. Who were the shareholders? Pension funds and 401k accounts for the most part. Companies like Chrysler are announcing huge layoffs of 'salaried' personel; the people who write the memos and guidelines so essential to automaking. The entire structure of the world which has spawned a burgeoning professional class and given it a sense of entitlement is tottering, needing only a small additional push to collapse entirely.

Enter Barak Obama and the Democrats. They are now going around announcing that when they get elected they will be handing out trillions of dollars to all and sundry. Only a few rich people will have to be bothered with the bill. Of course the inflation that all the Socialist policies will cause will push even low-wage employees into the top tax brackets but at first that will be OK because it will effectively make most debt worthless. Unions will be empowered to 'organize' even the smallest and most marginal companies... those that survive the tax increases and enviromental regulations that will cripple the economy. Inflation and confiscatory taxes will end any new investment in the private sector and to make up the slack new quasi-governmental corporations will spring up as the efficient sectors of the economy die, like algae-scum floating to the surface of a dead lake. Cronies and political allies will be running these enterprises... mainly into the ground.

But the educated elite, who are overwhelmingly advocates for and voters in favor of the megastate, will be the biggest losers in this situation, just as they were in the Soviet Union when it collapsed. The Iron Rice Bowl is an illusion. Blue collar types have skills they can barter and sell. Average people have been forced to scrape by and survive all their lives; not so the elite. They went to school, university and then got a cushy sinecure in some organization and there they have remained, peacefully chewing their digital cud. They have no survival skills in the wild. And hyper inflation is going to make things pretty wild.

I mentioned in a previous post the gloom and depression of England when they adopted the disastrous policies that we are on track to put in place here. It will be worse here. People will be looking to the usual insurer of last resort, government, and it will be flailing and applying the old tried-and-true methods which will make things increasingly worse. The next indication of the way things are going will be the collapse of Blue State state governments. New York, Massachusetts, Michigan and most especially California are about to implode, taking hundreds of thousands of state employees and the pensions of them all into the whirlpool as it sucks everything down into the black hole of bankruptcy.

The people in this country seem to not know where all this leads. They don't know what is happening in Venezuela as the newly nationalized power company turns out the lights on the empty store shelves and crime-ridden streets. The phony ballots that no one seems too worried about in this year's election will morph into a phony currency just like it has in Venezuela and in every other Socialist state. The course is clear and unstoppable.

But what should we, who see the folly of all this, do? We have to keep the faith and fight for our beliefs. It wont be easy in the times that are coming but this creeping welfare-state disease has to have a crisis before it burns itself out and recedes...or kills its host. The 'ideas' that have generated this crisis have to be seen to have failed before some more workable alternative develops. Creative destruction. During the misery have hope that the truth will prevail. It makes us stronger than them.

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