The future’s here

and it’s big and angry

For years the guys in Washington ducked the tough choices, leaving them for the future to deal with. Now the future is here. The business-as-usual pols in Washington who created the monster say they can save us from it. If we just raise the debt ceiling they’ll spend responsibly from now on, they promise. Some people don’t believe them. In fact, I don’t think many people do believe them, but they find it expedient to pretend to. Anyway, some of the more recently elected and more conservative Republicans are being stubborn about it. The mature responsible grown-ups who made this mess think the Tea Party should compromise. “The constituencies which make up the tea party do not necessarily understand how much of their life is underwritten by the government,” says Megan McArdle.

I think that’s true, but it’s the too-big-to-fail argument. Look how that worked out: the institutions that were too big to fail then are bigger now, and everyone is worse off but the pols and bankers. The same thing will happen again.

If we get out of the current financial jam, the politicians in Washington will drive straight for the next jam as fast as ever they can. Nothing substantive will have changed, nor ever will without some external force beyond the control of Washington – a large meteor, a terrorist EMP, or the election of a bunch of stubborn jerks to congress.

“When the situation was managable it was neglected,” said Winston Churchill. As long as it remains managable it will continue to be neglected. The bad things happening now are the long term we neglected for the last forty years. If we don’t raise the debt ceiling, bad things will happen next Tuesday. If we do, bad things will happen a week from next Tuesday; or in the best case, after the next election.

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3 Replies to “The future’s here”

  1. Only thing I quibble with:
    Who’s this “we”?

    I’ve only been a going interest for a decade; my folks have been hollering about this as far back as I can remember. No, we haven’t managed to change much of anything, because even with the electoral college the imbalance between cities (where you can spend and buy votes) and less high density places (where you can impose a bunch of laws to make the city people happy*) is just too big, and there are too many folks who don’t find out more than the conventional wisdom. (One can argue on if that’s because of limited media, laziness, group-think, Soros, the Illuminati or whatever.)

    Other than that– 100% agree that we’re at the end of the rope for this “game.” Lileks on this week’s Ricochet had a metaphor about how they’re desperately searching for the last few molecules of aluminum so they can try to throw it further down the road.

    (*I know three ag operations that aren’t city folks or trustfund babies with hobby ranches or small organic farms who get money from the Ag bill. Those three are required by law to take the “grant” in order to be allowed to put in a specific irrigation system; the reasoning behind it is that if it’s grant money, the gov’t can monitor and control how they do it. I believe it’s listed under erosion prevention….)

    1. Yes, it isn’t really “we,” it’s people like Reid and McConnell.

      People in ‘production agriculture’ are pretty constrained in how they do things. They sell in a free market, buy from oligopolies or de facto monopolies, and government at every level is in their business all the time. I expect most small independent businessmen are in the same fix.

      Sometimes I wish it were the Illuminati. At least then there’d be grownups with a rational plan in charge.

      1. Yeah. Be nice if the conspiracies controlling it all were rational in an over-arching way, instead of being people responding to individual motivators.

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