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May 08, 2006

Zembla Unfair To Norquist!

The King of Zembla (a distant northern land) is, of course, infallible. That goes without saying. However, some of His Highness' infallibility is more equal than his other infallibility.

For instance, His Majesty recently brought to His people's attention an article in the Atlantic. It's about William A. Niskanen,

...a veteran of the Nixon OMB and the Reagan Council of Economic Advisers, who now serves as chairman of the libertarian Cato Institute. An old-school conservative, Mr. Niskanen has always been skeptical of the conventional GOP wisdom that by cutting taxes, and thereby decreasing federal revenues, you "starve the beast" -- i.e., force spending cuts and thereby shrink government to the point where, in Mr. Norquist's famous formulation, "it can be drowned in the bathtub"...In a show of rare bad form Mr. Niskanen undertook to chart changes in the tax code against a quarter-century's worth of real-world government spending -- and so discovered that starve-the-beast theology is at least as bogus as that other Reagan-era nostrum, the Laffer curve.

It seems that Niskanen found that over the past twenty-five years, spending goes up when taxes are cut, while it goes down when taxes are raised. Niskanen theorizes this is because lower taxes will make government seem "cheaper" and so people want to "buy" more of it, and vice versa.

His Royal &c., &c. endorses this perspective—i.e., that conservatives aren't getting what they want by cutting taxes. However, this really doesn't give enough credit to smarter conservatives, of whom Norquist is probably one.

What they're trying to do is not force government revenue down so that spending will then be prudently cut. They think Americans are too attached to their disgusting unearned Social Security, Medicare, food, etc. to ever do that. However, they do believe they may be able to crush social spending if there's a gigantic fiscal catastrophe.

So, they've set out to create one. This requires planning and effort over decades, particularly for a country as economically powerful as the U.S. But they've gone a very long way to succeeding.

The most likely motor for such a welcome financial panic is our gigantic foreign debt. The longer this debt accumulates, the more likely it is there will be a rapid collapse in the dollar. Then the fed will jam up interest rates, the economy will stagger, and with the government already heavily indebted there won't be much room to maneuver.

Believe me when I tell you they are already preparing for such a day. When it comes, they will have an explanation they will scream from every TV and editorial page in America: THIS IS THE FAULT OF AMERICA'S GREEDY WELFARE RECIPIENTS. The only solution, they'll explain, is a massive cram-down of government-funded pension and medical benefits.

Of course, it won't be the fault of greedy normal people. Nor will slashing government benefits solve anything; just the contrary. But this is a game plan they've successfully executed in many third world countries. There's no reason it can't work here, particularly given that they've been laying the groundwork for it for years and we're completely unprepared.

True, this will be disastrous for the U.S. as country. But that's the last thing Norquist & co. care about. What matters to them is their relative power within the U.S. They'd far rather be the upper class in a poor country like Ecuador than the upper class in a rich, developed country. And that's what they're shooting for:

My family and I rented an apartment in the new section of Quito... Beyond the office towers, up along the valley walls, were lavish new condominiums and golf courses and tennis clubs. A good French dinner ran about fifteen dollars, a full-time, live-in house servant about twenty-five dollars a month.

I called them servants; one of my neighbors, Alex, called them slaves...

For someone like Alex—that is, for anyone, American or Ecuadorian, who works in the white-collar end of the petroleum business... Ecuador's ever-increasing poverty was a windfall. The price of slaves kept dropping. "The debt?" Alex said. "I love the debt."

Posted at May 8, 2006 11:21 AM | TrackBack

Not only has Zembla been unfair to Norquist, I believe that Zembla has BULLIED Norquist. Of course, statistics have a well-known liberal bias.

Posted by: Aaron Datesman at May 8, 2006 12:45 PM

It's worse than that, Aaron. Statistics and reality generally are inherently Islamo-fascist. That's why the liberals like them so much.

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at May 8, 2006 01:30 PM

Which is why I say that the greatest failure of the eight-year Clinton reign was the failure to properly SOAK the rich. Much of the contribution to the impending disaster can be blamed on the 12 democratic out of 37 previous years being run by two men who did not have the guts it took to literally plunder the castles.

Democratic presidents should not be loved. If they have not been sufficiently burned in effigy by the middle class, they've been failures.

Posted by: Alexis S at May 8, 2006 02:05 PM

Why am I still paying these people?

Posted by: Mike Meyer at May 8, 2006 02:55 PM

Actually, Alexis, I would've pinned the "Biggest Failure of the Clinton Administration" medal on that whole "starvation of the Iraqi poor" thing.

Posted by: Sully at May 8, 2006 03:35 PM

Although I too genuflect at the mere mention of Simbaud/Zembla, I have to agree. There is always an ulterior motive. Neocons govern only for the wealthy and themselves and put a boot to the neck of the rest of US when given half a chance.

Posted by: spiiderweb at May 8, 2006 07:39 PM

Oh, Sully, you don't think that Iraq is the only place that starved, do you? Are you not now aware that people have been starving continously for some six millenia? Surely, we can't blame that all on Clinton.

Posted by: Alexis S at May 9, 2006 12:04 AM

From reading your blog and others in the last fortnight or so, we have come to understand that a variety of Republican programs go by names other than their true names. Color us surprised!

Posted by: Simbaud at May 9, 2006 12:43 AM

Or, you know, history.

Jonathan, this site's irony meters are off the charts. I can't tell which parts of which comments are sarcastic anymore-- and she cannae take it.

Help us!

Posted by: Sully at May 9, 2006 02:30 AM

Great blog, and interesting discussion.

Another thought: If we are indeed approaching a post-oil society, then this "master plan" makes sense in that such a collapsed society will ensure the plentiful, cheap, and desperate workforce needed to keep the tiny elite in some remnant of the style in which they "deserve" to live.

Posted by: Brian Miller at May 9, 2006 09:49 AM