January 01, 2009

After a year as bad as 2008, trying to imagine what God’s permissive will—or incipient wrath—has in store for us this year seems almost churlish, or masochistic. Should I lay out a series of catastrophic events in our nation’s politics, economy and culture, I might seem like I’m challenging God: “I bet You can’t top this. Go ahead, make my day.”


In a country where William “Wrong About Everything” Kristol is still a pundit, where school systems still focus on “teaching self-esteem,” and Keanu Reeves is still permitted to make movies, I’d rather not tease the Lord. What we do to ourselves is bad enough. Why provoke the omnipotent entity Who invented tapeworms, piranhas, and menopause?


So I’ll lay out my predictions for 2009 with humility and in the spirit of repentance, focusing on the evils that are of our own making, which God will simply permit—leaving aside those which He will visit upon us through the means of avenging angels. M’kay?


Self-Inflicted Evils Occurring by Divine Permission:


Spending. The U.S. government will continue to try to electrify our dead-frog economy by spending money it doesn’t have, doubling down like the gambler on the Baton Rouge riverboat who uses the handy ATM machine on the boat to mortgage his house. (I’ve seen such machines myself—but happily had no assets I could squander.) Unwilling to let people lose jobs that are unproductive or outright destructive— like trading derivatives in the finance industry—the DLC-types who are running things will continue down much the same path as the Enron/Worldcom Republican hucksters they’re replacing. (Personally, I’m for sending troops down to Wall Street and marching all those “suits” out into the rice paddies.) Afraid of seeming “soft,” Obamodites won’t even make the most obvious, rational cuts—namely in our bloated and useless Defense budget. As Republican hacks still reminisce about Reagan’s popularity (not his policies), the Democrats will keep on dreaming that they can repeat the “successes” of FDR. They don’t even realize, much less admit, that Roosevelt prolonged the Depression by imposing Mussolini-esque controls on the economy. As real economists know, what pulled us out of the Depression was World War Two. It’s not that socializing a quarter of our economy for the duration was a rational means of restoring prosperity. But when you win a war that destroys the economic base of most of the other advanced countries on earth, so your industries have no competitors, your people will prosper for a while. (We might consider trying this again, of course….) The Democrats will pursue the logical implications of consumption sector Keynsianism, pushing America ever-closer to the point of ungovernability. Barring a miracle that wakes up some members of the once-responsible sectors of society, we’re headed toward the fate of Argentina in the 1990s—but an Argentina with nukes, which is “too big to fail.” You know, just like the USSR….


Trade. Attempts at neo-protectionism will founder on naked fear: We cannot provoke the Emperor. In fact, we can’t even ask the Chinese nicely to change the policies that have helped eviscerate our manufacturing sector. Itself afraid of political turmoil, the Chinese government will keep its currency devalued, taking advantage of that culture’s longer time-preference—its willingness to delay gratification. So the Chi-Coms will continue to keep their people working very hard, stashing away wealth (instead of consuming it) to buy up American debt—making the bet that we’ll never default. (The Chinese have that one weakness: they do love to gamble.) Even as China’s purse-strings reach ever further into our economy and entangle us in each other’s affairs, count on neoconservative ideologues to push for the U.S. to offer unconditional backing to the most hawkish, suicidal elements in Taiwan seeking independence. This is roughly as prudent as Winston Churchill’s brief, bright idea in 1940 of declaring war on the Soviet Union, and allying Britain with Finland.


Foreign Policy. Expect more feel-good, low-cost interventions along the lines of our attack on Yugoslavia. Instead of “boots on the ground,” we’ll pursue the “Death Star” strategy where we promote peace, equality, and the universal Hegelian triumph of Western liberty by nuking foreigners from orbit. In Iraq, we will continue to draw down forces, sending them to an even more futile mission in Afghanistan. The whole point of Afghanistan, as our rulers don’t seem to realize, is that it’s a country you want your enemies to control—so they can waste their substance trying to herd all those army ants, while you destabilize the place through selective sabotage. Or better still, ignore it.


Immigration. Already declining because nobody’s building houses, and out-of-work accountants are mowing their own dang lawns, this issue will drop off the political radar for a while. If the numbers of illegals decline, it might perversely become much easier to offer an amnesty to the smaller numbers still in the country, as a “humane” solution that “saves money” we’d otherwise have to spend deporting them. Once naturalized, these people will all invite in their brothers and elderly parents to use our hospitals and collect the last few pesos left in the Social Security system. The pace of multiculturalist activity will increase, as the “need” of immigrants for Hmong-speaking gym teachers and nurses fluent in Yucatec makes national suicide our ultimate growth industry. (See Evelyn Waugh’s novella Love Among the Ruins, where the only popular and efficient State agency is the Ministry of Euthanasia.)


I reckon that’s enough for now. With policies like this, we citizens of Sodom don’t really need to await the fire and brimstone. We will perish through hype and flimflam.


A happy Feast of the Circumcision to one and all.


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