Two intellectuals and students of the human condition – Harvard’s Harvey Mansfield and Yale’s Charles Hill – lend their considerable weight to the notion that we are beyond the tipping point to the promised “fundamental transformation” of America. By all accounts we have now failed the Grand Experiment envisioned by the Founders to answer the question of the ages – Can man govern himself? While the answer to that question is never final because the experiment is ever ongoing, they did provide us a magnificent tool to keep bringing back a ‘YES’ answer. It’s called the Constitution. Professor Mansfield tells us (‘The Crisis of American Self-Government’) that “the founders wanted people to live under the Constitution. But the progressives want the Constitution to live under the American people.”
Along this line Professor Hill talks about the American decline (‘World Order in the Age of Obama’) and says –
And there now grows a deepening appetite for gain. America, perceived as eager to shed the burdens of world order in order to be “fundamentally transformed” through European-style social commitments, talks of engagement even when Iran’s “diplomacy” is a form of protracted warfare. The enemies of world order translate the American election results into the lexicon of abdication, telling themselves that their time has come: there is a world to be gained. Only America’s return to world leadership can halt this deterioration. “Sequestration” will relegate the U.S. to a second rate power and must be reversed to enable American strength and diplomacy to be employed in tandem.
RR readers know that one of the more successful Rebane Rules, long argued here, is ‘The most reliable predictor of progressives’ policies is the their common aim of weakening America’s influence on the world stage by removing all vestiges of the country’s exceptionalism.’ The reliability of this rule is doubled when used to predict which turns Team Obama will take in navigating the ship of state (see also 'Obamunism' in Glossary).
The uses of America’s energy abundance. In the same vein, there is a growing corpus of belief that America’s newly found gas and shale oil energy reserves will not be used to launch a new era of growth and prosperity for the country. Instead the wealth from those resources will be commandeered by the federal government under new powers that it will discover and relegate to itself. The entire scenario starts with President Obama having emerged from a second term victory to steer the country into a (hard to imagine) deeper fiscal thicket, whether by a rapid tumble over the approaching fiscal cliff, an extended version thereof, or a more torturous way.
The bottom line is that Obama will seek a third term, and he will have a good chance of getting it because the growing ranks of the ignorant, unemployed, and discontented dependents on government transfer payments will scream to have the 22nd Amendment repealed. (Look for the revival of the most recent effort to do this that was introduced in Congress as HJ Res 5(111th) in 2009.) And California will again lead with its Democrat supermajorities that have now removed the last restraints on its rush and tumble into federalized socialism.
I am amused that among those who see the high likelihood of such a scenario (in its various forms) are some noted financial and investment gurus like Porter Stansbury and John Mauldin. These much-read prognosticators of the best places to put your money are telling their readers about how to take advantage of the new energy boom that will benefit a few select sectors beyond the federal government. In other words, there is still an opportunity to make a bundle as the country adjusts itself into a new form of a socially just autocracy.
All this is predicated on some as yet unknown strategy of being able to bail out with your bundle at the end. Because everyone knows that the haves will then be shorn of their filthy lucre if not simply marched to the wall. That part of the investment plan, even if known, is not widely published and for obvious reasons. Lifeboats have limited capacity, and there definitely is not room for all. (I described my own experience with two such ‘lifeboats’ during WW2 in ‘Last Train from Stettin’.)
An ongoing version of this is the predictable puzzle Britain’s progressive elites have recently encountered with its missing millionaires (here). That government’s solution was also to soak the rich, as all their entitlements (including nationalized healthcare) are now in their obvious slides to oblivion. Top tax rates were raised to 50%, causing the number of such millionaires to plunge from 16,000 to 6,000 in one percipitous year ending in 2011. The collectivist’s well-worn static analysis predicted the usual pro-rata increase of government revenues. Instead, the raising of tax rates razed government revenues from ₤13.4B to ₤6.5B, a loss of 51.5% from that pool. So again, there appears to be a way to skip out once the music stops (as Scandinavian countries have already discovered to their dismay).
All this is, of course, invisible to our progressive elites, as such information is never passed on by the country’s lamestream. In the meantime some other liberal economist – e.g. nobelist Krugman? – will once more excoriate those who are so foolish as to believe that increasing tax rates can negatively influence government revenues. And so we continue our march into the sunset.
[4dec12 update] On the road to fundamental transformation the Republicans' negotiating points with the much more sinister Obama administration may be summarized by the following American icon of perpetual perfidy.