More Debate On Politics
First from my friend and colleague:
Peter, I think you have a fundamental misunderstanding of what happened under the Reagan administration, and consequently don't see it as a paradigm shift away from the FDR model that I do. The government grew, but it was largely the military that grew, not the social programs that began with FDR. At most those held steady, but in many cases were cut. I furthermore think the grand strategy was to set the stage to cut them more. You remember "trickle down" economics; same thing repeated to a greater degree under Bush. This consisted, as you know, of massive tax cuts to the wealthy and to corporations with the idea that that money would be invested in business (and not in art works and other such non-productive investments, as it often was), and when business was stoked, the riches generated by the now more active market would trickle down to everyone. The pie gets bigger; everyone gets a larger slice. But I never believed it, and David Stockman, the architect of it, never believed it either. If you cut taxes significantly, and raise military spending significantly, well, you've got more output than input. To balance it out, what do you have to do? You have to cut government programs for what I like to think of as the real common good, rather then the common good Mahoney talks about. Paul Krugman has described this strategy as "starve the beast." Less money in, more money out in the form of military, results in a crisis and a justifitication for less money out to social programs, which Reagan and Republicans, if not hated, were highly suspicious of all along. There is a fundamental difference between the way government grew under LBJ and how it grew under Reagan.
The bottom line is, The government grew under Reagan and Bush II. The issue was an alleged difference between Republicans and Democrats about responsibility, individual responsibility. I claim there is no fundamental difference between the two on this score, that neither one is interested in genuine individual responsibility because that would necessitate a fundamental shift of power AWAY from the national government to the states and localities. Neither part of the oligarchy, Republicans or Democrats, wants such a shift and so both, using different means, fortify the national government, either through social programs or defense spending or some combination of both, which is what has happened because both parts of the oligarchy know it is in their best interests to maintain the status quo by not undermining their "indispensable enemies." The Democrats don't really dispute defense spending just as the Republicans, for all their bluster, don't really dispute social spending. Obama in Afghanistan and health care "reform" finally passed, and this despite Brown's election as senator. I would wager that if the Republicans win in the near future that health care "reform" will continue. Just as a Republican, Mitt Romney, gave Mass. health care "reform" when it was in his interests to do so [and supported gay and lesbian and abortion rights as well]. This is how the "system", their system, is preserved while we, the middle class and the lower class, are screwed. But I guess if you cannot see that we live in an oligarchy, if you take seriously that "liberals" and "conservatives" are actual enemies and not convenient ones, then you are bound to think that Reagan/Bush was "the problem" or that Obama is "the solution."
You know, it is basically an off shoot of Locke that we speak of "liberals" and "conservatives" as if they were real categories, and descriptive of the most basic political conflict. Whereas Aristotle thought the most basic and common political conflict was between oligarchs and democrats. Methinks that Locke wanted a disguised oligarchy - he called it "government" - because he thought the battle between oligarchs and democrats too unsettling and not "progressive" enough. Methinks we are living out Locke's dream of a disguised oligarchy, and the oligarchs are only too happy to have us think that liberals and conservatives are real alternatives.