Saturday, May 14, 2011

Irony and strange bedfellows

"There's a rumor going around..."

I gripe about my conservative friend R every once in a while. (His concerns are so petty.) But I want to point out somethin. We're on the same side, he and I, him and me. We both want what's best for America. I know it.

We're on the same side, except for one thing: We have different views about what's best for America. He wants to spread the rumors, and laugh about them. I want to fix the economic problem.

He thinks... No, I don't know what he thinks. But it seems to me he thinks we can fix things in America by fixing the political system. I know for a fact that to fix things we have to start by fixing the economy.

Most people -- people from all over the political spectrum -- think they know what needs to be done to fix the economy. I think they don't. But they think they know, and they even pretty much agree on it, despite all their political differences. And they all put politics above economics. Irony and strange bedfellows.

They think we have to balance the budget... and if that means we have to cut spending then so be it... and if it means we have to starve the beast then so be it... and if it means the Fall of Rome then, apparently, so be it.

But we don't have to balance the budget. Or if we do, we cannot get there directly. We have to use indirection, as if we were programming in assembly language.
Not misdirection, which is too often used already.
We cannot balance the budget by balancing the budget. We have to balance it by fixing the monetary imbalance that creates budget imbalance. And you have to be willing to consider the possibility that there is more to this than "spending" and "spending cuts".

For the record, I do not call for increases in government spending. I just want to point that out. Because I also do not call for cuts in government spending. And whichever of those two you prefer, you're likely to think I prefer the other. I don't.

The economy is the driving force. Not politics. Politics is just the BS people use to turn economic policy in their favor.

The economy is the driving force. It was this that struck me in Steve Waldman's words:

Note that a government’s “political capacity to levy and and enforce payment of taxes” depends first and foremost on the quality of the real economy it superintends.

The economy is the driving force. It was this that did not strike Winterspeak:

A government's capacity to impose taxes has nothing to do with the quality of the real economy it oversees and everything to do with its sovereign power.

The economy is the driving force. I'm not sure if it struck Jazzbumpa:

[Winterspeak's] dogmatic statement about the nature of taxation is simply wrong. Sure taxation policy is a vital element of sovereign power. But to suggest that tax policy is irrelevant to the quality of the economy is nonsense.

The economy is the driving force. Economic troubles give rise to discontent. Unless you're an artist, or suicidal, discontent expresses itself politically. Political discontent gives rise to political solutions. Political solutions do not solve economic problems.

The economy is the driving force.


LiminalHack said...

The economy is the driving force?

What is it that it is driving?

The Arthurian said...


Jazzbumpa said...

Or the lack thereof.

Art - I do not disagree. But I don't exactly agree, either. You speak of politics and the economy as if they were separate and distinct entities. I believe they are not only joined at the hip - they are that rare set of Siamese-twins where both are evil.

The Arthurian said...

One cannot separate the earth from the universe. And yet we have astronomy, which is an attempt to understand how the larger system works... And we have astrology, which is an attempt to say how we are affected personally by the larger system.

Only one of these is science.

Jazzbumpa said...

If that's a comparison to politics and economics, than I have to say that neither one is science.