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Things to Come 1 - No Recovery

What we won't be getting - a real recovery.

By Petrarch  |  November 26, 2012

Americans have always looked to the future for hope.  Our Founders proudly proclaimed the motto on America's Great Seal which you can see on the back of a dollar bill: "Novus Ordo Seclorum," which means "A New Order of the Ages."  They believed that the new concept of a nation founded on absolute liberties granted "by Nature, and Nature's God" would be an example that, over time, the rest of the world would follow.  They believed that the United States they were founding would be the first modern nation.

And so it was; there have been fits and starts, but for two hundred years the long march of freedom triumphed over tyranny.  When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 and Communism collapsed, Americans and much of the world believed that final victory had been won; some even proclaimed "an end of history."

Today, we know that belief was not merely false but delusional.  No, the people of the world don't want to be oppressed and constantly watching their back lest they be whisked off to the gulag.  But they clearly don't want to take responsibility for their own lives either: they truly do want to be cared for by an all-encompassing "cradle-to-grave" big-government welfare state.  From Greece across Europe to, now, the United States, the voters have risen up to demand that their bottles and blankies not be taken away even if there's no money to pay for them.

Thus we step forward into Four More Years of what the last four years have brought, and the last four decades have given Europe.  It is not yet a dictatorial tyranny nor an all-encompassing police state, though every trip to the airport raises questions of what exactly that constitutes.

The Saddest Words: "It Might Have Been"

One of the reasons socialism is so persuasive is that most human beings have a hard time properly acounting for potential future benefits given up vs. solid benefits available right now.  Countless psychological studies have shown that most people would rather have a dollar today than two dollars tomorrow.  Wouldn't you think that doubling your money overnight would be appealing?  For most people, apparently, it's not.

That is precisely the problem confronting the cause of conservatism today.  Americans, and really the entire Western world, are consumed by an existential fear and dread.  Every member of the famous 99% has, quite rationally, no real confidence that their current way of life can be continued indefinitely.  There is nobody outside of the plutocratic governing classes who might not very well find themselves living on the street this time next year after a series of relatively unlikely but all too plausible Unfortunate Events.

This simple fact doesn't promote rational thought.  Instead, it provokes desperation, clinging to what we've got.  Who represents "what we've got" more thoroughly than Barack Obama's Democrats with their dire warnings of Granny being shoved off a cliff, foodstamps being slashed, and unemployment benefits being cut?

It takes someone with an ice-cold rational mind and nerves of steel to understand that the only hope for real economic stability is to embrace the instability of the market.  Economic history has shown over and over that market instability is the only road to a growing economy and increased job openings.  In today's world, no job is safe; the only safety is in an economy where a replacement job can be readily found, which is not the case today.

Unfortunately, most people have a hard time imagining the jobs not made available, factories not built, companies not founded, inventions and medicines not developed, or future opportunities not made available.  Instead, they only see the job they now have, visibly hanging by a thread, and the government benefits under threat from Those Evil Republicans.  They'll do anything to try to not lose those things, including give up any hope for something better for all of us.  That's what happened in this recent election: America was scared stupid.

We know now what's not going to happen.  There won't be a recovery.  There certainly won't be a balanced budget, serious spending cuts, job growth, or anything else conservatives want.

Instead, this series sets out the grim litany of what will be happening, and in most cases, sooner rather than later.  Some or all of it could have been avoided, but America didn't choose that road.  The time has come to examine the unpleasant truth and to set aside the comforting fiction of silver linings that are of no practical relevance today and tomorrow.

The next installment in this series will examine the subject of most pressing concern to most Americans, which contrary to Bill Clinton's wise counsel was almost entirely avoided by both sides in the 2012 campaign season: the economy, and specifically employment.  Or rather, the lack thereof.