Monday, November 21, 2011

Wheels Keep Fallin’ Off

The evidence both locally and globally just keeps mounting that, having fallen off the wall three years ago, the Humpty Dumpty of our previous political economic era will never be put back together again.

The California Legislative Analyst’s Office announced late last week that it expects the state to fall short of balancing its budget by $3 billion dollars in the current fiscal year. The analysis goes on to predict that, even with the automatic cuts that will be triggered by this shortfall, the state will begin the next fiscal year with a $10 billion deficit.

Today the congressional “supercommittee” declared that it could not come up with an alternative plan to closing the federal deficit, thus cementing in place (unless they don’t) the cuts approved earlier this year—and predictably setting off another round of partisan shrieking and scapegoating. (This, of course, will please many less responsible citizens.)

Last week’s unemployment numbers showed continued minor growth in new jobs—now five months in a row—but the rate of expansion remains anemic. The federal deficit topped $15 trillion, and oil prices surged back to the $100/bbl level, thus threatening this lackluster “recovery.”

The political fallout of the Euro crisis continues apace. Last Monday we witnessed the political defenestration of Silvio Berlusconi and the appointment of Goldman Sachs advisor Mario Monti as his “temporary” successor in Italy. Then yesterday voters in Spain became the first electorate to unceremoniously dump the incumbent party since the Greeks kicked off the crisis in a desperate attempt to stave off painful choices.

In the meantime, back here in California, the Think Long Committee created by billionaire Nicholas Berggruen will propose yet another reshuffle of the state’s tax system, with an eye to bringing $10 billion more tax revenue to our creaky and antiquated state government. The Recovering Bureaucrat has not yet read the full proposal, but news reports indicate that it will be another product of the wishful thinking that we can go back to the “good ol’ days” if only we take enough cash from the taxpayers—especially the filthy rich ones.

After today’s 250-point sell-off in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the Los Angeles Times, in an article entitled, “Dow falls to five-week low as global gloom deepens,” reports, “‘There is just no good news,’ said Dave Rovelli, head of equity trading at brokerage Canaccord Adams in New York.”

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Flabby State of Liberal “Thought”

Matt Miller, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, does us the favor of exposing the flabby and disingenuous assertions that pass for serious thought among the acolytes of the Church of the All Powerful State in a column in yesterday’s Washington Post about the constitutionality of Obamacare.

It is a central article of faith among Miller and his fellow communicants that the only way society can address the myriad of problems inherent in our humanity is by government action.  And since our humanity is the source of endless and often vexing problems, government must be given endless authority to meddle in the lives of the citizenry, because we can’t solve our problems on our own.

While the Recovering Bureaucrat finds this way of thinking to be revolting and inimical to human progress, he is also convinced that giving Mr. Miller and company full rein to do things their way would be self-defeating because they are based upon false and unsustainable premises.

Mr. Miller graciously offers them for us to examine and refute.

His very first assertion is that the constitutionality of Obamacare is inconsequential compared to the magnitude of the lack of health insurance among Americans.  He writes that “the number of uninsured are now equal to the combined populations” of 25 states, and then asserts that “[w]e’re the only rich nation on the planet where getting sick can mean going bankrupt.”

Here for all to see is the central flabbiness of liberal “thought.” 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Comedy Descends into Tragedy—Again

The curtain has just risen on the latest act of the opera buffa that is the political economic mess of the poor European Union.  The newest fin de la crise has just been proclaimed in Athens as the two major political parties have reached an agreement for a unity government to implement the most recent austerity demands from Brussels.

In the plot line of the European drama, the predicament of the Greeks is actually a sideshow, and so the deal will do nothing to alter its fundamental contradictions.  These stem from the EU’s inability to impose a Teutonic political discipline on the other debt-wracked nations of Portugal, Italy, Spain, and Ireland.  This is why the European experiment is doomed to fail—unless the nations of the Union quickly find the willingness to surrender their individual sovereignty to Brussels and cede control of their economies to the Eurocrats.

As for the Greek deal, the unity government will face this precise dilemma in short order.  The Papandreou government has fallen because it could not muster the political strength to convince the Greeks to swallow the EU bailout castor oil.  The saber-rattling by Sarkozy and Merkel last week in reaction to Papandreou’s threat to submit the deal to a direct vote of the Greek electorate revealed the desperation of the French and the Germans to preserve the Euro experiment at all costs—even at the cost of undermining the democracy of one of its members.

The mind-numbing fact is that no one is under any illusions that the Greek bailout deal will actually help turn its economy around and place its finances on a sound enough footing to actually be able to pay off the newest restructuring of its national debt.  The stock markets may fool themselves from day to day, but the bond markets are resolutely bearish.

So the next prime minister will find, as Papandreou did before him, that he will be ground down between the millstones of the EU’s demands on the one hand and the Greeks’ economic weaknesses on the other.  He will have to decide whether to cooperate with the slow draining away of Greek national sovereignty in the name of debt restructuring or face up to a default that preserves his country’s independence.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Occupy Oakland

The aimless temper tantrum that is the “Occupy” activism is now hoping to generate a mass strike in Oakland, California, today.

The complete absence of seriousness among the brewers of this brouhaha continues to stem from their preference for anarchistic scapegoating over reformist (or dare the Recovering Bureaucrat say it—“revolutionary”) demands.  How far serious leftist revolution has devolved from the muscularity of The Communist Manifesto to the wimpy self-esteem feel-good vacuity of the Occupiers!

So let’s say that they succeed in shutting down the entire city and realize Marx’s dream of making “the ruling classes tremble at the communist revolution.” 

Then what?

The sound of the wind whistling through the tools-downed Port of Oakland will be your answer.

We can only hope that this is the last gasp of the degeneracy of the Left implicit in its political aims and methods ever since the New Left took over the Democratic Party in the 1972 McGovern candidacy.

At least the trade union-based Old Left took capitalism, the economy, and wealth creation seriously; the New Left with its vicious postmodern rejection of Reason has no choice but to adopt the therapeutic approach to politics based on feelings and grievances.