Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Some historical crisis have had their balladeers. Woody Guthrie for the Depression. Marat for the French Revolution. Eisenstein for the Russian. But the minstrel of this final collapse of the West is a faceless analyst buried in a London newspaper article about the increase in the top income tax rate in Britain from 45% to 61%. He blythely made the following statement:
"Those in this income bracket tend to plan their tax affairs more thoroughly, so they will be exploring ways to legitimately mitigate these higher charges."
The swansong of economic collapse. Atlas is shrugging all over the place. Social Democracy has gone into Chapter 11. The people responsible for the reorganization have no reverence for or allegiance to free enterprise or even freedom itself. But the problem is that free enterprise is entirely responsible for the current standard of living and that free enterprise can't exist without effective political freedom.
Will the crop of geniuses that are now firmly in charge be able to turn to the powerful interest groups who created this mess and say no to them? Will they tell AARP that the state is broke and that the Social Security recipients are faced with a default? Will they stand firm and tell the Public Employee Unions that the money has run out? Will they tell huge corporations that the days of protection and subsidies are over? Will they tell the ecologists that a prosperous economy is built on cheap energy and that nuclear and coal are back on the table? Will they end all government involvement in subsidizing college students and tell professors that tenure doesn't protect them from layoffs? Will they abandon the bankrupt Medicare-Medicaid system? The crowd of parasites is endless and in one way or another includes us all. Will the Current Leaders turn to each and every one of these angry and deserving entitlistas and loudly and firmly yell, "Enough!"
They'll be forced to do just that by the time this is done...and more. The Welfare State is collapsing. It was always unsustainable. There were people in the nineteen thirties who looked at the beginning of the trend and were able to see its end. Others took a lesson from the collapse of the Second World-- the crumbling of the Communist East. People might think that China is somehow immune to this current chaos, by the way, but that is not true. Giant top-down statist systems are all in equal trouble. Economic planning is the problem, but is universally seen by the Ivy League educated elites in business and government and certainly by the bloodthirsty commies in Beijing as the solution. Wealth is seen as a function of agreements and subparagraphs, adjustments in interest rates and careful planning. Risk, initiative, creativity and enterprise are scorned, even in the private sector. If you can't calculate something using statistical analysis it is anarchic and unsupportable. But risk, initiative, creativity and enterprise are just the factors that create wealth. 61% tax rates and economic planning boards that are packed with fanatical anti-business ecologically obsessed ex-academics are the stuff of poverty.
'Our New Happy Life' said Orwell and he had it right, right down to interactive TV. The adjustment to grinding poverty will no doubt be accompanied by a wave of social unrest that will neccesitate some 'temporary emergency measures' that will include your TV watching you back. Most people wont care. Legal drugs and free video games will keep most people happy. The few 'conservative' malcontents can be easily ignored as the Flat-Earthers are today. The only opposition groups will be rival political gangs with the bureaucracies conducting purges against each other in an all-out war for power.
Happily, I'm old. I've lived a hand-to-mouth existence in the film industry so even though there were some very fat years there were plenty of lean ones to teach me some humility and toughen me up a bit. I need very little. The world can go to hell in a handbasket and I'll try to accept my own part of the general misfortune with as much grace and courage as I can muster. If you read back posts on my blog you will know that I have been expecting this for a couple of years, although the reality is daunting and frightening. Bring on the Change, Barry.