Saturday, October 27, 2012

Blue State Blues

Recently, Walter Russell Mead wrote the latest in his analyses of the crumbling “blue social model” that is dragging down any serious momentum for economic growth in the U. S. and Europe.  His focus was on President Obama’s home state of Illinois, where the Church of the All Powerful State (CAPS) reigns undisturbed by reality (although Rahm Emmanuel has shown signs of apostasy).

The Recovering Bureaucrat’s favorite journalist from the Land of Lincoln, John Kass, has been chronicling the disheartening details of how the feudal structure is propped up.  In his latest column for the Chicago Tribune, called “Change in Madiganistan Starts at Home,” Kass outlines how Speaker of the House Michael Madigan, high priest of the Illinois CAPS, controls the political apparatus that has bankrupted the state. 

This level of control could only happen in either a one-party state like California or a place, like Illinois and New York, where both parties are in on the deal.

Here in the once Golden State, the Republican Party slowly committed hara-kiri over the past twenty years, and now has become all but irrelevant to statewide decision-making.  With the erosion of our once dominant manufacturing base, the big business establishment is controlled by banking, Hollywood, and Silicon Valley—activities indifferent to, if not outright manifestations of, the parasitic impact of rent-seeking on wealth creation.

The Destructive Impact of Rent-Seeking

It’s essential to our civic responsibilities to be literate with political economic terms and dynamics.  “Rent-seeking” originally meant financial activities that of themselves generate no wealth but are entirely dependent upon actual wealth production for their existence.  Investopedia explains it thus: “When a company, organization or individual uses their resources to obtain an economic gain from others without reciprocating any benefits back to society through wealth creation.”
An example of rent-seeking is when a company lobbies the government for loan subsidies, grants or tariff protection. These activities don't create any benefit for society, they just redistribute resources from the taxpayers to the special-interest group.
Sandy Ikeda has a primer on rent-seeking on the Foundation for Economic Freedom’s website, The Freeman.
According to the principle of human action that Ludwig von Mises used as the starting point of economics, man acts in order to improve his situation as he sees it.  One of the important lessons taught by Mises, and later many of the adherents of the Public Choice school of political economy, who follow in the footsteps of Tullock and James Buchanan, is that while the principle of human action is universal, the particular actions chosen, and the consequences that follow from them, depend crucially on the “rules of the game.” 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Clashing Narratives

Ed Driscoll at Instapundit recently linked to a fascinating election analysis by Robert James Bidinotto entitled “Election 2012 and the Clash of Narratives.”  It is a crisp summary of the ongoing clash that the Recovering Bureaucrat has been chronicling between supporters of the founding principles of the United States and the counterrevolution against it led by Church of the All Powerful State.

Bidinotto calls this a battle between two narratives: the progressive zero-sum Narrative and the Narrative of American Individualism.

His analysis of the origins of the progressive zero-sum Narrative is spot-on.  He correctly ascribes it as a product of the pre-industrial tribal social organization and consciousness that dominated human evolution from the rise of agriculture at the end of the last Ice Age through the European Renaissance and Reformation.
For progressivism is not a mature, adult philosophy, but a juvenile story—an immature, childish Narrative about how the market economy supposedly works.  More specifically, it is a primitive Narrative, one rooted far back in mankind's distant tribal past.  This timeless Narrative has been resurrected and propagated endlessly in classic myths, allegories, and parables, such as Robin Hood, the Sermon on the Mount, Dickens's A Christmas Carol, and Capra's It's a Wonderful Life.  It remains the central plotline of endless novels and films in which rapacious (more recently, carcinogenic) corporate tycoons crush the souls, jobs, and lives of hapless, hard-working "little people."  Arguably, it goes back to the Prometheus myth in ancient Greece: After all, Prometheus didn't create fire as his gift to man, but stole it from the gods (Zeus: "Prometheus, about that fire—you didn't build that!")
This period lasted for almost twelve thousand years, and this dug a deep groove in the collective consciousness of the human race.  And, truth be told, this perspective on life still predominates among the majority of people on the planet today. 
Now, it was understandable that our primitive ancestors would accept a zero-sum, tribal Narrative about wealth.  In their hunter-gatherer world, basic needs were filled mainly by scavenging from nature, not by producing goods. Facing myriad threats, vulnerable individuals grouped together in tribes as a matter of survival.  Threats also came from other tribes, which were competing for access to the same natural resources.  It was a brutal, zero-sum world of privation, of a limited "pie" of wealth—fostering an ethos of kill or be killed, eat or be eaten.
It was not until the Agricultural Revolution that men began to break free of the zero-sum existence of the hunter-gatherer lifestyle.  For the first time, production allowed men to increase the food supply—to expand the size of the "pie."  No longer did one person's gain entail another person's deprivation.  With the gradual increase of production under a division of labor, and with free trade among those producing specialized goods, the "pie" of wealth began to grow rapidly.  With the Scientific and Industrial Revolutions, living standards, which had remained at subsistence levels since the dawn of man's presence on Earth, suddenly began to soar, and so did life expectancy.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Mario Draghi Channels Lord Kelvin

In an announcement of stunning hubris that would make even Bill Clinton blush, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi proclaimed today that "the Euro is irreversible."

This breathtaking lunacy ranks right up there with English physicist Lord Kelvin's 1895 pronouncement that "There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now. All that remains is more and more precise measurement." 

Five years later the great German physicist Max Planck introduced the theory of quantum mechanics, and five years after that Albert Einstein published his paper on the Special Theory of Relativity.

In other news, President Obama has announced that his re-election will finally make the oceans recede.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Stupidity, Postmodernism, and the Shallows

Occasional columnist and former radio personality Bruce Maiman had a piece a couple of days ago in the Sacramento Bee entitled “As stupidity becomes fashionable, we all lose,” which unwittingly makes the author complicit in the title’s assertion.

The Recovering Bureaucrat almost always reads Mr. Maiman’s columns, not so much because of his powerful insights about our political economic problems and what to do about them, but because at least he cares about their complexity and is not necessarily wed to conventional viewpoints of them.

This column is an example of the value of his contributions.  Almost no one in the MSM tackles the issue of the dumbing down of our public discourse—unless it’s to offer the inanity that conservatives are stupider than liberals, based upon nothing more substantial than projection.  Since such contentions simply confirm both liberals and conservatives in their prejudices about each other, it’s essentially just another rotten tomato in the left-right food fight.

Mr. Maiman uses the occasion of the death of author and liberal gadfly Gore Vidal to wonder how we all got so stupid in the course of a generation.
We had a moment some 50 years ago when intellectualism and literacy were prized in American culture, when writers, artists and scientists were also genuine celebrities, fixtures on talk shows and in socialite columns, not only for what they wrote, painted or theorized, but because they were thinkers cultivated by a nation that aspired to intelligence.
Since Mr. Maiman is a Baby Boomer himself, it’s a puzzle to the RB that he actually believes this goofiness.  The RB was ten when John F. Kennedy brought Camelot to Washington DC, but he remembers—and histories of the period confirm—that the glitz was more important that the commitment to serious inquiry.  

The 60s were the zenith of the Industrial Age with its blind belief in the physical sciences as the epitome of all necessary knowledge.  The Kennedy-Johnson years celebrated the muscularity of the era by assiduously promoting the Washington-New York power axis, built upon the unprecedented wealth of America’s industrial might, which had dominated the global economy since the beginning of World War II.  As ruthlessly portrayed in the AMC series Mad Men, the America of that period was already being seduced by the bling of the emerging consumer economy that the profits of the time made possible on a national scale.

Among the “innovations” of the period was the creation and spread of what we now deride as “the mainstream media.”  But the dynamics of the age required significant accumulations of capital and therefore political power to wring as much value out of industrial production as possible.  Profitability was based on mass production and distribution, and by the mid-1960s the mass consumer market impacted almost all elements of the American middle class.  As Wired magazine editor Chris Anderson demonstrated cogently in his insightful book The Long Tail, the communications technology of the times dictated that only large corporate organizations, such as the three national television broadcast networks, nationally distributed magazines like Life and Time, and large-circulation daily newspapers in every urban center, could operate profitably.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Mass Psychology of Rapid Global Transformation

The Recovering Bureaucrat is now taking a look at the question of the best possible way to address our rapidly changing political economy.  Just as our current assumptions are inadequate to provide adequate leadership for what is coming, so too our assessment of how humans are confronting a world seeming to spin out of control is too simplistic.

Where are we, and what will it take to regain sure footing in the weeks and months ahead?

The predictable decision by the majority Democrats who control California’s government to spend billions of borrowed dollars on the illogical and indefensible high speed rail project is an example of the the temporary insanity that has occupied the minds of the conventional power establishment.

The Recovering Bureaucrat suspects that this flight from reality will continue until we run out of every tactic for avoidance and denial.  After all, the evidence is that this madness has been gripping the minds of leaders across the globe for several years now, floating on a huge current of fear and paralysis that occupies many if not most of the citizenry of these nations. 

We are dealing with a concurrence of events the likes of which no human being has ever witnessed, and the indications are overwhelming that the rate of technological, social, and political economic change is accelerating, leaving us no time to catch our collective breaths and make sober-minded and wise decisions about how to proceed.  If that isn’t a legitimate source of fear, then the RB has no idea what might be.  It’s very difficult to blame people for wanting to pretend that what is happening isn’t.

Jonah Goldberg’s latest book The Tyranny of Cliches only hints at the mechanisms that hold the convention of denial in place.  In a certain way, it is highly unfortunate that this global breakdown had to occur on the Baby Boomers’ watch, for we are the generation that, in birthing a new level of consciousness, turned our collective backs on reason (“Eurocentric white men’s weapon of psychological oppression”) and turned emotion into the vehicle of collective decision-making.  We promoted the goofy slogan of “if it feels good, do it.”  We championed the silly construct of “self-esteem” as a desirable norm.  We decided that the only way to stop oppression was to oppress the oppressors, and developed an entire argot (political correctness) to cover up our own complicity in oppression.

So now, as the breakdown of the Industrial Age comes into full expression, we are stuck with only our feelings by which to fashion a strategy to deal with it.  Unfortunately, we are about to find out how useless this is.  “Feelings” are what fuels the otherwise inexplicable commitment by not only the Left but by major transnational corporations to indulge in the “green” fantasy of a fossil fuel-free “sustainable” political economy.  (Well, it may simply be that the corporations are just being willing to profit off some sucker’s folly.)  This is why the Left no longer has a defensible philosophy of governance, relying instead on increasingly overwrought appeals to people’s sympathies.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Obamacare v. Founding Principles

The Recovering Bureaucrat is as entertained by all the blather in the aftermath of the Supreme Court ruling in NFIB v. Sibelius as he was by all the bloviating leading up to it.  What is still clear is that the fault lines in our current political economy are holding up remarkably well, and neither side is about to recruit masses of converts from the other.  The presidential election will still go down to the wire in November—unless Europe falls off the cliff, something the Europhiles may have just barely delayed enough to help Obama avoid losing.

What amazes the RB is the remarkable power of denial that is gripping the political leadership and much of the citizenry of the Advanced Sector.  He has written extensively about the Eurozone delusion; the lead opinion in the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision last week preserves America’s version of the blue social model fantasy.  The RB disagrees and fights back because not only is the model’s dependence upon government intervention into civil society unsustainable, it has the effect of eroding the very republican virtues of self reliance, personal freedom, and individual responsibility that are the moral foundation of the American experiment and the wellspring of its prosperity.

As the RB has often pointed out, the reaction against our founding principles has existed since the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  But it was only with the rise of the Progressive Movement at the end of the nineteenth century that its critics turned to the federal government as an instrument of the insurrection.

Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Franklin W. Roosevelt are the political leaders most complicit in this powerful undermining of America’s world historic achievement.  We should be grateful that nobody of their stature is around today to champion their misguided cause—but on the other hand neither do we have anybody of the stature of the founders or of Abraham Lincoln to champion American exceptionalism.

Walter Russell Mead has done us the favor of codifying the current “blue social model” version of the Progressive war against our fundamental values.  The decision authored by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts is only the latest in a string of rulings favoring the blue social model since West Coast Hotel Co. v. Parrish in 1937 finally cleared the way for FDR’s New Deal interventionism.  In the thirties, as today, the left wing attacked the Court’s previous unwillingness to certify New Deal legislation as constitutional as “obstructionist and political.” 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Money Is Not Wealth

In our continuing analysis of the muddleheadedness that passes for conventional economic thinking, we look at this morning’s headline from USA Today, “Stocks rise as Fed meets to consider its next move.”   We see here once again the power of wishful thinking impacting investment decisions, as “traders hoped that the Federal Reserve will come up with a plan to jump-start the economy.”

The same article reports some concrete business news also influencing the market’s gains.  Microsoft and Oracle showed strength on the news of product releases and earnings growth.  Analysts are also reading housing data as “signs that the housing market is healing.”  These concrete data are the necessary and fundamental elements of stock valuation decisions.  But of course we cannot eliminate emotions or projections from decision-making, even in the stock and bond markets!

But this mixing of actual results from the real economy with the heart flutterings from the massive act of fiction called the financial markets is the problem.  And this problem stems from the collective misunderstanding of the relationship between money and wealth.

Wealth can be simply defined as “stuff one produces that other people want and are willing to pay for.”  Money, on the other hand, is simply the main, although not sole, method by which this buying and selling are accomplished.

We humans regularly produce wealth regardless of the health of the money system, although the money system can either suppress or encourage the production of wealth.  This is because our collective agreement through long-term historic habit to employ money as the most reliable and cost-effective instrument of exchange has subjected the productive sector to the vagaries of the currency system.

Monday, June 18, 2012

"Wall Street Falls on Euro Zone Contagion Fears"

This was eminently predictable.  No one in Europe believed that a New Democracy victory in yesterday's Greek elections would herald a new dawn of stability and growth.  So why did markets climb last week on news of the promise of Euro-printing by central banks in the event of a Syriza victory?

The stubborn facts on the ground remain the same, and the accession of Antonis Samaris to the prime ministry probably makes the problem worse, since he belongs to the delusional pro-EU faction that is refusing to face reality.  He and his PASOK allies will persist up until the last moment in the Sisyphean task of heading off Greece's return to the drachma.

President Barack Obama continues to chug the Kool-Aid, proclaiming with no basis in fact to back him up that yesterday's result "indicates a positive prospect for . . . the path of reform."  He is at the photo-op called the G20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, where he promises "to make sure that all of us do what's necessary to stabilize the world financial system, to avoid protectionism."

So while the tribune of hope and change continues to lead cheers for the unsustainable, the heat and sweat in the Eurobunker will keep on building up.  No one should take any solace from yesterday's results.  Clearly the markets have--at least for the moment--sobered up.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Last Days in the Eurozone Bunker

Today, the last day of the Eurozone as we know it, the Recovering Bureaucrat takes on the phenomenon of the spreading mass insanity among our Advanced Sector elites.  From Athens to Madrid, from Brussels to Washington, from London to Sacramento, our leadership is increasingly unhinged from the fundamentals of political economy.

And it’s not just the political leadership; the stewards of our slowly disintegrating international financial system are equally unmoored from reality.  The price we are all going to pay for this will be frightening.

Thursday’s financial headlines screamed “Stocks Rally as Central Banks Reportedly Ready to Inject Cash,” thus confirming that financial “experts” maneuvering in the stock markets are as bonkers as the eco-loons jetting to Rio next week to halt, once again, the world’s aggregate CO2 emissions.

Writing at two days ago, Abram Brown provided the latest breathless upbeat news:
Stocks climbed higher today, following a report detailing central banks’ plans to stabilize markets after Greece’s parliamentary elections.

Central banks from major economies are prepared to keep money flowing if the elections again roil financial markets and tighten credit. “The central banks are preparing for a coordinated action to provide liquidity,” a senior G20 official familiar with the situation told Reuters.
American stocks continued their fantasy rally yesterday, even as some economists publicly warn that the global economy is de facto back in recession.  So why are investors still pretending that the latest reports trumpeting promises by central banks to “provide liquidity” if the Greek elections don’t go Brussels’ way tomorrow hold out any possibility of actually turning the recession around?

The Recovering Bureaucrat, who regularly admits he is no Nobel Prize-winning economist, has a simple question.  Where is all this money coming from?

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Torrents of Denial

The news on the financial front continues to worsen, as Europe careens toward a break-up of the Eurozone, and China faces a contraction of its hitherto torrid growth rate.  The United States remains mired in paralysis as the deadline to address the “fiscal cliff” of the expiration of the Bush tax cuts and implementation of the budget cuts agreed to during the last debt ceiling debate looms.  Here in California Governor Jerry Brown and the Democratic legislative leadership remain dogmatically committed to the Greek model of tax increases and budget cuts.

The common thread of all of these situations is the resolute and blind adherence to outdated political economic systems that are no longer able to stimulate the dramatic expansion of wealth that is otherwise possible.  What Professor Walter Russell Mead dubs “the blue state model” is commanding allegiance in defiance of the evidence that it has long since outrun whatever usefulness it may have had in its heyday in decades immediately following World War II.

The sad news is that, for the most part, this stubborn denial of reality is a bipartisan matter.  In Europe, commitment to the Eurozone has been spearheaded by Prime Minister Angela Merkel, leader of the center-right Christian Democratic Union.  While recent elections in Greece and France has strengthened leftist resistance to Merkel’s insistence on budgetary discipline as the way to right the euro’s ship, only the far-left in Greece has been willing to champion secession from the Eurozone.  Newly elected French President Fran├žois Hollande remains firmly committed to his country’s participation in the EU.  

In the U. S., the national Democratic Party is in the solid control of President Barack Obama, who has finally discarded his centrist, “post-partisan” pose to aggressively champion maintenance of the blue state model of increasing government interference in the private sector.  Unlike the two different approaches of the Eurozone partisans, Obama would increase taxation and federal spending.  While his Republican rival Mitt Romney denounces “Obamanomics,” he has yet to spell out in stark terms a compelling alternative that would unleash the entrepreneurial might of the United States.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Krugman Right on Europe for the Wrong Reasons

In yet another uproarious screed, this one purporting to address the slow-motion global financial meltdown, New York Times columnist (and former Enron advisor) Paul Krugman lectures German Prime Minister Angela Merkel on the efficacy of hyperinflation as a solution to the Eurozone’s current predicament.

The Times entitles Krugman’s essay “Apocalypse Fairly Soon,” and it contains all of the usual blather and mendacity that are reliable features of Krugman’s work.  Ever the utopian leftist, Krugman prefers that the Europeans submerge their national sovereignty into a single European political entity, but even he has to admit the unlikelihood of such a happy occasion.

He accurately summarizes the fiscal folly of the Eurozone, noting that upon its inception ten years ago, “[m]oney poured into Spain and other nations, which were now seen as safe investments; this flood of capital fueled huge housing bubbles and huge trade deficits.”

But once the financial collapse hit world markets in 2008, the bursting of those bubbles hit the periphery of Europe hardest, “causing severe slumps in the very nations that had boomed before.”
At that point, Europe’s lack of political union became a severe liability.  Florida and Spain both had housing bubbles, but when Florida’s bubble burst, retirees could still count on getting their Social Security and Medicare checks from Washington.  Spain receives no comparable support. So the burst bubble turned into a fiscal crisis, too.
Europe’s answer has been austerity: savage spending cuts in an attempt to reassure bond markets.  Yet as any sensible economist could have told you (and we did, we did), these cuts deepened the depression in Europe’s troubled economies, which both further undermined investor confidence and led to growing political instability.
And here the hilarity takes off.  Krugman overlooks the mounting federal deficits that are the only reason “retirees could still count on getting their Social Security and Medicare checks from Washington.”  Ever the blind Keynsian, he pretends that somehow Washington is more financially solvent than Brussels. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Hell Freezes Over: David Corn Gets One Right

David Corn, veteran opinion writer for the 60s throwback Mother Jones, yesterday wrote a column about the pending collapse of the euro with every word of which the Recovering Bureaucrat agrees.  This has never happened before.  Perhaps, like President Obama on the subject of same-sex marriage, Mr. Corn's philosophy is evolving.  We can only hope.

What next?  Paul Krugman making sense?

Sunday, May 6, 2012

European Elections: Things Just Got Wilder

Today’s election results in France and Greece are bad news for the Obama campaign.  The narrow victory of Francois Hollande over Nickolas Sarkozy in the French presidential election throws a serious monkey wrench into the machinations of Mr. Sarkozy and German Prime Minister Angela Merkel to prop up the euro.  Although Mr. Hollande promises to meet with Ms. Merkel at the earliest possibility, he is on the record as pledging to renegotiate the accord.

In early reporting in the wake of Hollande’s victory, Voice of America reports an observation by Charles Kupchan, a Europe expert at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington.
“He’s called for renegotiating the fiscal pact,” says Kupchan, referring to the economic agreement forged by the European Union to stabilize the euro currency.

“Hollande’s call to reopen that pact, and to focus more on stimulus than austerity, will certainly win him some support in France and in other European countries—notably Italy, Spain, Greece, Portugal—but it could spell trouble with Berlin,” Kupchan adds.
The bravado of this commitment will be made hollow if he follows through on his campaign promises to raise taxes on the rich, freeze fuel prices, increase welfare payments, and hire 60,000 new teachers.  Squeezing the already sluggish French economy to achieve these goals will only weaken it further.

Also today, Greek voters gave a stunning rebuke to the ruling PASOK socialist party, whose share of the vote dropped from 44% three years ago to 14% today.  The center-right New Democracy party took first place, but with a paltry 20%—half its previous total.  Fringe parties made great gains at the expense of these major parties, further exacerbating the political chaos.

Greece has been caught between the devil and the deep blue sea since it agreed to intense austerity as the price of a bailout from the European Central Bank and its patrons.  As long as it puts remaining in the Eurozone ahead of national economic health, the Greeks are facing decades of increasing poverty. 

The fragmented results mean that New Democracy will be hard-pressed to form a coalition government—and it doesn’t have much time.  The new government faces an immediate test next month when it will have to decide whether to approve another €11 billion in spending cuts for the 2013-4 budget to keep the bailout funds flowing.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Priest of the Church of the All Powerful State Denies Its Existence

In a howler of an essay in today’s Sacramento Bee, former deputy editor Bill Endicott unintentionally displays in 629 words all the arrogance and myopia of the MSM and its role in the Church of the All Powerful State.

Mr. Endicott’s topic is liberal bias in the MSM—or, more accurately, his assertion that there is no such thing.  Of course, he and his fellow acolytes have been saying this ever since the “nattering nabobs of negativism” speech by Spiro Agnew in 1970.  This reaction of denial is understandable; after all, the Wizard of Oz was flustered when Toto pulled back the curtain revealing the actual nature of his mystique.

Mr. Endicott’s methods deserve similar exposure.  The ways by which the MSM delegitimizes the dissenters from the Church’s orthodoxy are fairly straightforward, and are on full display here.

First, attack a proponent of the argument you intend to stigmatize by misdirection rather than straightforward refutation.  In this piece, Mr. Endicott does this by first acknowledging Mr. Agnew’s leading role as one of the first public officials to specifically call out the MSM.  He then belittles the Vice President’s actual argument by asserting that his attacks were merely the result of personal pique against the press by President Richard Nixon.  He next decoys us away from the substantive argument when he reminds us of Mr. Agnew’s subsequent legal problems with things he did while governor of Maryland.  The message is that because the former Vice President had political ambitions and criminal problems, the point he was making with the "nattering nabobs" speech can be safely dismissed.

Nowhere does he address or rebut the actual substance of Mr. Agnew’s criticisms of the press.

Thirdly, insinuate that the charges have no substance by remarking on the effect they have on the unwashed and ignorant masses.  “GOP candidates have found press-bashing irresistible,” Mr. Endicott intones, “knowing there is no quicker way to get conservatives riled up than to tell them what they love to hear.”

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Occupiers' Gift

What do Occupy Wall Street, Ron Paul, David Cameron, Peter Ackerman, Xue Jinbo, Jeff Bezos, and Publius have in common?

They are all harbingers of the emerging international political economy.

The Recovering Bureaucrat is aghast at the insipidness of most 2011 year end summaries he has read so far.  With the exception of the wariness with which most of them assess the fragile Eurozone (“Europe is in a tailspin, and it's not at all clear that the rescue efforts will succeed,” writes Instapundit’s Glenn Reynolds, one of the savvier observers around. “If they fail, and the Eurozone breaks up, we're likely to see major disruption—people are even talking about reinstating currency controls—and a major down-drag on the American economy, along with the rest of the world”) almost none sees the meta-pattern of the dramatic transformation of humanity’s self-organization.

Thus, as he has been noting all year, our political establishment across the globe—with a very few notable exceptions—continue to behave as if the now three-year old international financial convulsion is just an extended blip in an otherwise unchanging universe. 

Here in California, for instance, the commentariat are obsessed with the lackluster performance of Governor Jerry Brown, whose conventional approach to our current situation is somewhat obscured by his obsession with pursuit of the “green” unicorn.  His solution to the state’s structural deficits—half by cuts, half by higher taxes—is utterly unimaginative and ultimately self-defeating, for it does nothing to address the actual cause of the government’s deficits.

But Governor Brown is practically Lincolnian in comparison to the state legislature, a bought-and-paid-for subsidiary of public employee unions, with a Republican minority unwilling to defend the principles of free enterprise.  A review of the new laws about to go into effect should bring tears to the eyes of any thinking citizen, who will scrutinize the list in vain for any evidence that the legislature has the slightest idea about the ever-increasing drag that government imposes of economic growth. 

In September, in the midst of this muddled establishmentarian myopia stepped a ragtag bunch of lefties, anarchists, students, and other usual suspects to set up camp in Zucotti Park in Manhattan and proclaim to “occupy Wall Street.”  Within weeks this latest version of the evergreen utopian protest against reality caught the fancy of the mainstream media and spiritual gurus, who universally proclaimed it the harbinger of political shifts to come.

Other less delirious observers dryly predicted that, with the coming of the wintry blasts out of the north, most Occupy encampments would fade away without a trace.  And these guesses were the more accurate.