Thursday, May 13, 2010
In the early eighties it was clear that the Soviet Empire had some major problems. Even though it seemed to be expanding in Africa, Asia and Central America there was increasing unrest in its European satrapies and the rival Chinese were abandoning Marxist economics in favor of a murderous state crony capitalism (fascism) that emphasized exports and expansion. There were no exports or expansion in the Soviet zone. Even the abundant oil and natural gas resources of the Soviets could not be extracted and marketed profitably by their moribund state monopolies. An earthquake in Armenia caused tens of thousands of deaths as the poorly built concrete apartment complexes built in the Soviet era turned into rubble in a few seconds.
But we had grown up with the Cold War. No communist country had ever thrown off its masters and reverted to whatever it is they call what we have...social democratic capitalism, I guess. It looked completely permanent, an immovable force. There might be adjustments back and forth but no one thought that it would collapse as quickly as it did. But it did. Within three or four years every member of the Warsaw Pact threw off the chains of Marxism and the entire lie, the Great Social Experiment of Lenin and Stalin disappeared into the trash can of history. In most of the 'former' nations the old elites of the Communist Party and the secret police 'privatized' the economy by declaring themselves the owners of it. That was fine except that without a closed economy the noble Moskvitch had to compete with Toyota and Mercedes Benz so owning the Moskvitch plant didnt add up to much.
But on the other side of the Iron Curtain the creeping 'democratic socialism', that was led by people who in the main sympathized and admired the Marxist experiment and reviled anti-communists like Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, continued its slow, malignant growth. By the first decade of the twenty-first century there were crowds of people in every 'Western' country that believed that the government subsidies that they received were theirs by right. Government employees receiving a hundred times their contributions to the pension funds back as a pension, corporations receiving subsidies and bailouts because they were too weak to stand up to ruinous union demands, union workers screaming for the government to underwrite those demands, social security recipients who sat happily by while the 'trust fund' was added to current accounts to hide the growing deficits and now expecting a giant payout far out of proportion to their contributions. There were universities with their huge tenured faculties and unionized work forces attended by students who were there because they could borrow cheap government-subsidized money from banks happy to be on the take from the Feds. Medicare grew like a gigantic tumor as the seniors demanded everything they wanted without any thought given to costs. Ten thousand earmarks funded ten thousand 'deserving' programs.
This was fine as long as the global economy was expanding but the seeds of its destruction had sprouted and two years ago the shape of that destruction became apparent. The largest age group in the population has reached retirement age and one of the chief side-effects of the cradle-to-grave social democratic state is a birth rate far below replacement. Why have kids? You really want to live in the kid's garage with the St Bernard, a burden to everybody, when you can take your pension and your Social Security and your Medicare and tell those ungrateful brats, if you even bothered to have any ungrateful brats, that you didnt need them in your sunset years? The social structures put in place by St. FDR and expanded by every government since then and its copies in Western Europe would provide.
Now we have reached the end of the road. There are not enough young workers to support the aging boomers in the same lifestyle that their parents had in their old age. Our parents had children. Those boomer children worked and paid taxes to fund their parent's old age payouts. Some of us boomers also had children. We paid the huge cost and did the hard work of bringing them up and teaching them to be hard-working good citizens. But plenty of people decided that children were just a hideously expensive pain in the butt. They were able to buy that vacation home with a spare bedroom for the beloved Lhasa Apso, using the money that they didnt spend on diapers and ballet lessons. They have 401k's that are phat and happy. The government and the corporation are going to kick in, or in the case of government employees fully fund, a nice cushy life style starting at age fifty and ending in the mid-eighties. Where the wealth to pay for this is going to come from isnt a worry...after all the system always has problems but it never collapses, right?
Wrong. Los Angeles, the city I live in, is bankrupt. Mayor Villarigosa (pronounced Viva La Raza), a former community organizer from the SEIU, has stopped happily performing gay marriages in his office and now uses that venue to sadly announce layoffs of city employees on a regular basis. The Governator has just announced some relatively tiny cuts in some welfare programs. They are nothing in the big picture except that welfare programs never get cut in this state. Never. Now the poor, who always vote Democratic in return for bigger and bigger payoffs are feeling the results of voting for a party that happily encouraged hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens to sign up for benefits along with our native poor and at the same time chased businesses and high-income taxpayers to other states. Adding millions of foreign nationals to the social safety net has helped to bankrupt the system.
But the poor are only a part of the problem and not the biggest part. The pension fund for government employees (CALPERS- The CALifornia Public Employee Retirement System) is mismanaged, underfunded and going broke. If those pensioners are looking for a state with declining revenues and exploding fixed costs to underwrite their union-encouraged improvidence then they are living in a fool's paradise. The moment of Greek Truth is very close in the Golden State.
Now, in California we are in the midst of a primary campaign to decide which Republiclown gets to challenge Jerry Brown for the governorship. Thats right, you read right, Jerry Brown, a moron whose loony administration in the seventies became a national joke, is going for his third term. But the two Republiclowns who are slugging it out in the primary to see who runs against that idiot have come up with some interesting attack ads. Meg Whitman, the founder of E-Bay, is using her millions to point out that her opponent contributed to Algore in the 2000 election. Steve Poizner, her opponent has raised the salient point that Ms. Whitman contributed to and campaigned for the reelection of the noxious radical Babs Boxer. Both of them rail on about how conservative they are but neither has denied that those specific charges are false or have attempted to explain their actions. Guilty as charged; they're a couple of big fat LIBERALS!
In a former post I said that I'm glad our president is not John McLame. I'm glad this collapse now has a purely Democratic brand on it. McLame would have passed everything the Dems wanted with a few Republiclown votes thrown in to make it all look 'bi-partisan'. The super-liberal McLame would have 'worked with the other party' and enacted more destructive programs and taxes than the incompetent and clueless Obama has been able to do. Just as the lefties called Bush's liberalism a 'conservative failure' so too would the current decline be attributed to the 'right-wing McLame'. That's why I am leaving my primary vote for governor blank and I will be voting for Jerry Brown for governor of California. What good did Swartzenegger's 'R' do us? None! In fact he has allowed those lying leftists in the legislature to sell their Democratic trainwreck to the rubes as 'Arnold's failed conservative policies'. No way am I going to vote for a RINO who wont take any of the necessary steps to avert the trainwreck, if that's still possible, so the Dems can tell the same lie again. Let Jerry explain to the pensioners, La Raza and the welfare crowd that the well has run dry. I cant wait to see it.
California is Greece. When the do-do hits the fan we are all going to suffer. There is no 'fix' to this except letting the system reach critical mass and then picking up the pieces after the meltdown. Our children are screwed. Maybe our grandchildren will be smarter.