When You're Neck-Deep in a Hole You Should Probably Stop Digging
by Reaper0Bot0, Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 06:30:52 AM EDT
Yep. We're kind of boned. I suspect we'll be well and truly boned shortly.
The dollar's in the crapper. Oil is flirting with $150 a barrel. We're fighting two wars at the moment and either we or a close ally will probably strike Iran by the end of the year. We have entitlement spending spiralling out of control (and both parties are to blame for that, thank you very much Medicare prescription drug "addition"). We are long on demand for mass transit but short on infrastructure.
We're really in some trouble here. I think we need to soberly assess what we need, what we want, and what we can afford.
Look, we're liberals. We're (usually) the big spenders. While we historically tax enough to pay for most/all of it, we do tend to support more and larger programs. I'm the first to admit that the Republicans have really been on a deranged bender for the last seven years.
I think we may be a little too hopeful about Universal Health Care and some other programs. I absolutely support UHC and I look forward to its implementation. However, I think we're at or near the precipice economically speaking. Our energy needs aren't ballooning as quickly as those in India and China, but their hunger will starve us just as well as it starves them.
I have a sinking suspicion that we're about to hit a wall. If things do really get bad quickly and serious economic austerity is needed to get us through it, will we have the strength to accept it? I emphatically do not want this to happen, but we've been spending money we don't have to buy crap we don't need and fight wars that are either unnecessary (Iraq) or allowed to run far too long (Afghanistan).
We can list all of the things we want and expect from our government. My list is pretty similar to most anyone else's here. However, I think we may have to accept that the monetary freebies (civil rights and so forth) will be far easier to attain than the big spenders. It will take some time to right the ship of state.
I think we're in for an incredibly painful correction, and if I'm right then we will not be able to afford a lot of the things we want. This isn't about Obama, nor is it about McCain. The very nature of our society, the underpinnings that fuel it and sustain it, well, they're being stretched to the breaking point. Things like UHC could tomorrow be yesterdays fantasies. I dunno. I certainly hope that this isn't so, but we'll have to work through it.
What would the Democratic Party look like in a hypothetical period of forced-austerity? Could it survive? Could we be the economic adults? I'm for all the good government we can afford. After the damage this Administration has wreaked (with the help of a mostly Republican-run Congress) and some bigger issues that are beyond them, I'm afraid we're about to find out.
For example, if Israel hits Iran then oil will absolutely go through the roof. Insurance is void in a warzone. If Iran closes the Straights of Hormuz or even just tries to, then no oil tanker captain will attempt to pass them. Lloyds of London will declare the area a warzone and the oil will stop flowing. That's nearly a third of the world's supply going through there.
In sum, I kinda think we're arguing over a bunch of costly programs (many of which I earnestly support) that are probably never going to happen because the bottom's about to drop out. Obama (and the rest of us) are gonna be left holding the bag, and possibly judged by history for the disaster on our watch.
What can we do?