Our Fears Are Unwarranted. America Is in Fact Well-Governed.

Summary:  The good news is our problems are relatively minor.  Our leaders probably will take the necessary reforms during the next few years.  Of course they will govern in the best interests of our plutocratic elites, not us.  We’re along for the ride, sliding towards the Third Republic (which might not be a real Republic).

I reviewed the posts on the FM website of the past eight years, mostly cutting edge predictions.  Comments show they were considered outre when written, but most look good in retrospect (picking the right experts was the key).  But on the two most important subjects discussed here I was wrong.

  1. The fate of America’s political regime:  My naive optimism now looks delusional, as the Second Republic (based on the Constitution) has sickened more quickly than in my worst nightmares.
  2. America’s society and economy:  I have repeatedly said that American society was defective, with a broken Observation-Orientation-Decision-Action (OODA) loop.  Recent events reveal that to be false, in an operational sense.

By now anyone paying attention can see the first point (especially if reading the many fine commentaries on this sad story, such as Glenn Greenwald’s articles at Salon).  Today’s we take a brief look at the second.  A previous post, A look at the future of America, unlike the expectations of conservatives and liberals, sketched this out.  Readers suggested that it was not clear, so we will try again.  With more details in a later post.

The brief story of modern America, well-governed (in a way some of the Founders expected)

America is in better shape than Europe and Japan.  We have good demographics, sound fundamentals, relatively easily solved problems, and no powerful enemies.  Why the constant sense of crisis?  QE2, hyperinflation, climate armageddon, Obama the socialist, AIDS, alar on apples, jihadists, debt, swine flu – a constant drumroll of doom, explained by Peter Moore in ”The Crisis Crisis” (Playboy, March 1987).   Answer:  elites govern a weak people by exploiting their fears.  For example, look at the “government is broke” panic.

  • The Federal government’s net debt is only 2/3 of GDP, well below the 100% of GDP “red line” (that Italy reached many years ago).
  • The short-term deficit is mostly the result of the recession.  The medium-term deficit results from the Bush tax cuts.
  • Social security’s funding gap is small vs. GDP and easily fixed.
  • The massive funding gap is mostly Medicare, easily fixed by adopting features from the mixed public-private systems in Europe.

Panic pushes Americans to allow cuts to popular social services plus increased and highly regressive taxes.  No matter who wins, after the 2012 election our representatives will implement the necessary policy changes:  raising taxes, cutting expenditures, rebuilding our infrastructure, and beginning the long process of reforming health care.  It will be another morning in America.  There is no crippling polarization, just distracting noise masking a consensus between both parties about the key points of economic and foreign policy.

We do not see this long-standing pattern (see the previous post for details) because our collective OODA loop is broken (see section 6 here).  That makes us easier to lead.  Relying on wealth-based elites to run the country has a cost.  They take a large share of the pie; we take a small slice.

Experts warn about the coming doom of America

An analogy explains why America will prosper.  We are like sheep.

Sheep panic each morning, set upon by barking, biting carnivores and screaming men on horseback. The sheep run to safety in the fields.  Later the pack and men return.  Again the sheep flee, this time finding safety in the pen. All is well.  Tomorrow the cycle repeats. Sheep have short memories, and do not see the pattern.

Sheep have poor judgement.  But ranches depend on the thinking of the shepherds, not the sheep.

Our leaders incite fear to build support for policy changes.  It’s easy to do, which makes us easy to govern.  During the past quarter-century or so they have concentrated America’s wealth and income in fewer hands and massively expanded the government’s internal security services (police, intelligence, and paramilitary forces).  Both good things from their perspective.  They will steer America away from the rocks because they own most of it.

This is the opposite of a conspiracy: They do everything in the daylight.  It’s an open source movement, funded and operated by like-minded people.  Something between Linux and jihadism.  John Robb should write about this, if he has not already done so.

It’s class warfare.  But like war monger, a form of right-wing political correctness has banned these terms from our thought stream — making it difficult to understand current events.   It’s like Newspeak.  Guide the language, which directs people’s thoughts, which channels their actions.

Open source political movements are among the major drivers of social change.   The 1917 Russian Revolution was an exception, driven by a relatively small number of more or less organized groups.  The American, French, and 1989 Russian 1989 revolutions were more typical, guide by open source political movements.

A question for readers

Should this post appear on the Good News about America reference page?

For more information about US politics

  1. America’s elites reluctantly impose a client-patron system, 5 November 2008
  2. Lilliput or America – who has a better way to choose its leaders?, 19 November 2008
  3. About campaigns for high office in America – we always expect a better result from the same process, 17 June 2009
  4. Please read this. For the sake of yourself, your children, and their children, 25 June 2009
  5. The key insight to understanding America’s wars, 11 December 2009
  6. Campaign finance reform = incumbent protection, 20 December 2009
  7. More people participating in politics: is this good for America?, 20 June 2010
  8. Programs to reshape the American mind, run by the left and right, 2 August 2010
  9. Which political party will best protect our liberties?, 10 September 2010
  10. Our leaders have made a discovery of the sort that changes the destiny of nations, 1 September 2010
  11. Polarization and hot rhetoric conceal two similar political parties. Will we ever notice?, 29 October 2010
  12. We have the leaders we deserve. Visit McDonald’s to learn why., 30 October 2010
  13. The winners and losers from this election, hidden amidst the noise, 3 November 2010
  14. In America, both Left and Right love the long war, 30 March 2011

This post originally appeared at Fabius Maximus and is reproduced here with permission.