Another fisk, this time of a whiny Leftist from an op-ed in the (People’s Republic of) Austin Chronicle.
BY MICHAEL VENTURA
The administrations of George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush, as well as the candidacies of John Kerry and Ralph Nader, all relate to what may be called the Situation – a Situation that they have not and will never discuss frankly. Which is not entirely their fault. Whatever mix of ambition, self-deception, and fear that each must struggle with – for they are merely human and we all struggle with such weaknesses – they also know that Americans of the left as well as the right are an immature people hell-bent on remaining immature.
With the glaring exception of the mature, intelligent, thoughtful Left who know what’s best for us and want to make sure we get it – good and hard. I love writers who condescend to their audience. (Psst! You know that, because you’re reading this, you’re not an immature boob! You’re one of us! The ELITE!)
The mass media market immaturity so successfully because Americans crave immaturity on a mass scale. Most of our entertainment and fashion, as well as the presentation of most news, and virtually all our phenomenally effective advertising, assumes that one must not treat Americans as adults – and America eats up such condescension manically, if not happily.
And who is it that runs the “entertainment and fashion” industry? Not to mention the overwhelming majority of newsrooms? The Left, is it not?
No one can hope to lead by confronting the Situation honestly and directly. So each concocts his own brand of gibberishy cant, shaded to his constituency, and hopes his rap will give him enough cover to deal with the Situation as he sees fit. And the Situation is this:
The great days of the United States of America are over. Nothing will bring those days back. It’s too late. The damage has been done. There is no possible political, military, or economic solution. The general prosperity of the Fifties and Sixties (as opposed to the one-sided prosperity of the Nineties) is irretrievable. The capacity of the U.S. to lead the world has been drained.
Thank you Jimmah Carter. You can leave now. What? You have more to say? Oh well…
The only question is how America will decline – gracefully, clumsily, or tragically? Will we decline with our Constitution intact? Will our decline make us more tolerant and interesting, or meaner and more dulled? Britain declined drastically between 1914 and 1950, yet still produced great literature and a leader of the caliber of Winston Churchill. France declined just as badly, yet still had the cultural power to produce influential art and philosophy.
Our Constitution has been under constant assault – primarily from the Left – since the beginning of the 20th Century. The Bill of Rights is in tatters from that and from the Right’s War on (some) Drugs™. Don’t make me laugh at your contention that the Constitution is important to someone who expresses ideas like this.
Britain started going to hell as soon as they started destroying the personal liberties of their subjects with socialism. France suffered greatly from that as well. Note, also, that France can’t build a functional aircraft carrier. But hey, check out that haute couture! France as a role model? To hell with that!
Europe as a whole declined during the 20th century, but retained the intellectual vitality to reinvent itself for the 21st and become another kind of power.
Europe depended on the U.S.A. to defend them, and then spent the money they’d otherwise have needed for defense on socialist programs to keep their people fat, dumb, and happy. And they “declined” while doing so. Their birthrates went to hell, and they’re now being overrun by immigrants willing to do work their natives find beneath them. We’re suffering from a bit of that ourselves, I admit, but not to the same extent. Their unions won concessions their economies can no longer support. USA, ditto. Europe isn’t close to bottoming out, but just wait until France is predominately Muslim. Want to bet they’ll still “produce influential art and philosophy”? “Another kind of power?” What kind of power is Europe? It’s predominately corrupt and weak. They have essentially no power at all, and want only to hamstring America because we are no longer opposed by the Soviet Bear. Their power is in flapping their gums and wringing their hands, for the most part.
How will America decline? At this moment in history, that is the important question: How will America decline?
Only if you’re a Leftist.
Look briefly at some specifics of the Situation:
China has become a manufacturing colossus while our factories are gone or going, for keeps.
Manufacturing is driven by labor costs. Unions and our general level of prosperity dictate that our labor cost will be higher than underdeveloped nations. Japan is losing manufacturing jobs too, for the same reason. Prosperity means higher wages. Globalization means exporting jobs that can be done inexpensively elsewhere.
It’s simple economics. Why do people have such a hard time understanding that?
Our agriculture is on welfare: 18% of U.S. farm income comes from government subsidies; what happens to U.S. agriculture when we’re too broke to sustain such subsidies?
Jesus! Agriculture is the “third rail” of government and has been since time immemorial. Nobody on the Left or the Right has the ability to defeat each year’s multi-billion dollar “Farm Bill” that rightly should go out the window. And if they did, the Left would be screaming about how we’d be destroying the “family farm.” You don’t get it both ways.
China invests vast sums a year in its infrastructure, on all levels, from cultural and educational institutions to grand construction projects;
That’s because China has relatively little in the way of such infrastructure. It’s a COMMUNIST DICTATORSHIP. They’re starting from zero.
we’re spending comparable sums futilely in Iraq while our infrastructure, on all levels, crumbles.
To paraphrase: “Liberating 50 million people and initiating democratic government in the Middle East is TOO EXPENSIVE!”
Goddamit, it’s NOT FUTILE.
We’re fighting for oil in the Middle East; China is in negotiation with Russia to have oil piped through its backdoor – while, through its front door, it has a sweet deal with Australia for natural gas (while we spend millions “defending” Australia against – China!).
Right. We’re fighting for oil. I haven’t notice the price at the pump coming down, have you?
In a third-degree-removed way, yes, we’re in the Middle East because that’s where the oil is – the oil our economy and way of life depends on. We’d buy it from others (and will, when they develop it), but we’re in the Middle East now because Radical Islam has spawned people who want to kill us and have demonstrated some capability of it. Oil is secondary at best.
We’ve allowed our corporations to become non-national entities. Not only are they financing the rise of China, moving our manufacturing to China or to its sphere of influence, but through off-shore tax havens and the like these so-called American businesses contribute next to nothing to the only entity empowered to ensure our domestic tranquility: the federal government.
Wait a minute – weren’t you just praising China’s massive investment in its infrastructure? And this is being paid for by evil corporations? Well, whaddaya know! They’re actually good for something! See what happens when you try taxing them into submission? They move offshore and do business in other countries! Imagine that! And whose idea was it to punitively tax big corporations to fund the Federal Government? The Left, was it not? We’ve “allowed our corporations to become non-national entities”? As opposed to what? Regulating them to death?
As to our heavily indebted federal government, its solvency is now supported mostly by Asians buying our bonds. Why do they buy our bonds? Because the American consumer is still the engine of world prosperity. How is this possible? Because of credit cards and the like. Without the American way of credit, we’d be in a depression.
And without the American way of credit, our economy would never have become the powerhouse it is. Everything’s a tradeoff.
The paramount fact: The United States (as opposed to its nominally American corporations, which demonstrate no allegiance) is now important economically only because of its citizens’ consumption.
You’re forgetting our overly-subsidized agriculture. Turn that off and see how important we are.
That consumption is fated to decline while in the near future – maybe five years, maybe 10 – China will prosper enough for its 1.3 billion citizens to become significant consumers.
And their wages will go up, and Durkadurkastan will start getting an influx of manufacturing plants there to take advantage of cheap labor. And Chinese workers will bitch about “outsourcing.”
There are so many of them that they don’t have to consume as much as we do to become the world’s economic engine; if, individually, they consume merely one-fifth of what we do, they will surpass us in buying power. When that happens, China and Southern Asia can support their own growth and will have no more use for us. Then they need not defeat us militarily. They have merely to stop buying our bonds. Or even to threaten to stop buying our bonds. America will have the choice of being either severely destitute or following China’s lead – perhaps both! That is the Situation.
Quite possibly. If we stop inventing – the one thing America does better than anywhere else.
To cope with the Situation, each of the five men mentioned in the first sentence of this column has had, beneath his pointless rhetoric, a plan.
George H.W. Bush tried to proclaim a “new world order.” The U.S. still had enough credibility, manufacturing clout, and consumer strength to lead and control the big changes that were afoot – or so Bush the First hoped. He temporarily secured both our oil dominance and our world leadership. But he couldn’t be honest with our childish voters about the Situation, so he was accused of not having the “vision thing,” though in fact he did. He lost his moment and his momentum, and America lost its last chance at dominance. (Do not take this to mean that I approved his policies. He sold out the American worker in order to retain American world clout. I’d rather we not be dominant. I’d rather we grow up.)
“I’d rather we not be dominant.” No, you’d rather we be France. Thanks for making that even more clear.
Bill Clinton knew the score. He opted for a relatively soft landing. His plan: Let the corporations have whatever they want – given the makeup of Congress and the immaturity of the American voter, they’d get it anyway (so his thinking went); serve big business, but keep the American way of life more or less viable. Thus his priority was to balance the budget. I hate the way he balanced it; for instance, with a double-digit lead in the polls in ’96 he cut school lunches for impoverished children to appease the right. Clinton knew that our middle class is small-of-heart and run by fear, and that they care nothing for the suffering of others as long as they’re taken care of. He balanced their budget. But say this for him: His goal was that America decline gracefully, retaining most freedoms and some privileges. With a balanced budget America wouldn’t be beholden to creditors, and would retain its agriculture and much of its powerful consumer value. China would dominate the 21st century, but would still need the U.S. as a junior partner, as the U.S. needed Western Europe in the last half of the 20th century. With their combined power, China and America could stabilize the world. So Clinton hoped. Not an entirely ignoble plan.
From an entirely ignoble man? What a backhanded compliment! No wonder I disliked Clinton so much! He wanted us to decline gracefully! How good of him! He was doing a helluva job at it.
George W. Bush sees things differently: America may be lost, but the American elite must still call the shots on the world stage. Screw the middle class as well as the poor, bankrupt the government long-term for power short-term. His goal: a military solution. A missile shield would allow us to dictate to China and Europe; even a fake missile shield might be a playing card. Find any excuse to root the American military in the Middle East. Its oil would be under our command, while a poorer America would swell the ranks of our “volunteer” forces. Gut the Constitution’s checks and balances, for belief in raw power admits no checks and balances. Iraq is a mess? Inconvenient, but ultimately it doesn’t matter as long as the American military is committed to the Mideast. That keeps everybody off balance. With everything so crazy, China will hesitate, Europe will hesitate, and the American elite will have enough time to move entirely off-shore, and then – screw America too, who needs it? How will America decline in the Bush plan? Precipitously, but the elite will still be the elite. That’s all Bush cares about.
Ok, now wipe the foam from your lips and back away from the word processor.
Try to understand this: George W. Bush is an optimist. Like Reagan before him, he doesn’t see America as a defeated, decaying nation, but one in the midst of change – one from which we will emerge, as we tend to do when lead by people of optimism, stronger. Jimmy Carter told us all the crap you’re telling us. Reagan told us different. Reagan was right. Bush is too.
Ralph Nader says to the Situation: “End corporate welfare!” His stance was barely viable in ’96, when I voted for him, but now it’s ’04 and the damage has been done. Corporations don’t need us anymore, yea or nay. Their profits are ultimately Chinese. Nader can’t fix that. His plan is politically unfeasible and economically outdated.
So, you voted for Nadir? That explains a lot. All that “corporate” money goes somewhere. And those corporations have a lot of American employees, too. Why must the Left see economics as a zero-sum game? “Ending corporate welfare” results in those corporations moving offshore – the thing you spent the first part of this screed decrying. What you’re asking the Big Evil Corporations to do is stand perfectly still while you kill them for being productive.
And John Kerry – he’s like one of those damaged but functioning Mars landers. Clinton’s soft landing is no longer possible, but bumpy is better than a crash. Given the Situation, make things as bearable as possible. That’s Kerry’s real policy: Salvage what’s salvageable. His goal is straight from Mars: a damaged but functional landing. It won’t be pretty but it might work, and when all is said and done we might yet have a functioning Constitution. With that, we can pick up the pieces of what’s left of America. Which is still something worth fighting and voting for.
There you go: Vote for Kerry! He’ll make us as relevant as France!
I don’t fucking think so. We’ve got our problems (and Leftists are a great big one), but we’re not finished yet. The Left has not yet destroyed us, try as they might.
And if there’s any justice in the world, on November 3 the Left will find that out. In spades.