The Barbarians at the Liberal Gates

Republicans have dug in their heels and swear they’ll die before they allow any new taxes.  What does this mean?  I think they have two main motives:  greed and the destruction of liberal ideals.  This is no big news, but what does it mean really?  Republicans have fixated on lowering taxes for decades and I think this is mainly due to ordinary old greed, but they have come up with so many justifications to achieve this goal, that they have developed an anti-liberal philosophy to promote tax cuts.

They think big government is taking their money, and so they’ve developed a philosophy against big government.  But what does having a big government mean?  Or more precisely, what does having a small government mean?

Civilization has always meant bigger and bigger government.  All throughout history whenever a civilization would develop barbarians would come along and attack it because it was an easy source of booty.  Protecting civilization began the ever spiraling costs to support big government and big military.  There are two kinds of people in this world, those who want to build civilizations and those who want to tear it down.  Civilizations take a lot of money to create and run, and history shows there are essentially two sources of wealth to run a civilization, taxes or conquering other civilizations, which is essentially a non-citizen tax if you will.  Europe flowered during the Renaissance by taxing the natives of the Americas, Africa, Middle East and Asia, as well as the heavy burden of taxes they imposed on their own citizens.

Like it or not, great civilizations cost a lot of money.  During the course of the last five hundred years we also saw the growth of liberal ideas.  It’s no longer socially acceptable to attack a primitive society and steal their wealth to build your own society.  Either through colonists, armies or corporations.  And the history of corporations are really the history of private business plundering the resources of other nations through price speculation.

However, things have changed.  The nations of the Earth are no longer in flux and national stabilization has set in, and corporations are no longer tied to specific countries, but work worldwide.  This means vast booms of generating wealth through exploiting other people is tapering off.  Nations are having to compete as equals, and the wealth of governments depend more and more on internal taxes based on economic productivity of their citizens.

In other words, if the United States wants to be the leading civilization of the world, the cost of that civilization is on the backs of its taxpayers.   Our military might will wane as the world stabilizes.  So will our influence.  So what will make us the great nation we believe we are?  As all nations become more capitalistic, we’ll no longer be the richest.  For the longest time, we were great because we championed freedom and democracy, and liberal ideals – but they are spreading worldwide too.

So what kind of nation will we be if the Republicans get their way and cut social programs and other spending, and reduce the size of the federal government?  I can’t help but believe we’ll be more like India or Egypt than Germany, Japan, England, South Korea or France.  We’ll have a democracy with lots of poor people.  We’ll have lots of beggars, criminals and lower class people, a small middle class, and a few very wealthy people that stand out in stark contrast.

We won’t have the arts, science, and infrastructure of a #1 nation, and instead start developing the look of a decaying empire.

The greed of the wealthy to avoid taxes will lead to a downward spiral of employed people, or people who look and act employed because of social programs.  Social Security and Medicare allow millions of Americans to contribute to economic activity as if they were employed.  We already have more young well trained people wanting work than we have jobs, so to throw millions of older, well experienced people to compete with them will ruin the job market and raise unemployment to new high levels.  Employment levels have always been an illusion in our country.  Unemployment is high now because we can’t maintain the fevered economic activity of unnatural economic booms. 

We can only get to 5% unemployment when the economy is booming and support big social programs.  If we cut out social programs and followed a balanced-budget economy we’d probably have 25% unemployed, if we were lucky.  Some economists are saying we already have a real unemployment rate of 15% or higher now. 

If we pursued a totally efficient economy we’d probably put half the workers out of work.  Just think what a flat tax rate would do to bookkeepers, accounts, tax advisers, and other bean counters.  Just imagine our society if no one used a credit card, or if everyone spent money like economic advisers advise.  A large part of our economy is based on inefficiency, buying things we don’t need, social programs, crime, crazy unsafe business schemes and stupid unproductive speculation.

Liberal ideals have progressed until they believe that all people, regardless of gender, race, creed or sexual orientation deserve equality and a minimal standard of living and medical care.   Pursuing those ideals has created an ever growing segment of our economic activity.  Reversing those ideals will destroy our economy.

Just watch the news to see how all over the country governmental services are being cut back.  This is the dismantlization of our civilization.  The barbarians are at the gates looking to sack our civilization.  And all of this just to save a few bucks on their taxes.

Barbarians have always wanted wealth for themselves.  Civilized people have always wanted to share the wealth.

JWH – 7/9/11   

8 thoughts on “The Barbarians at the Liberal Gates”

  1. You’re right, Jim. It’s the dismantling of our civilization by right-wing ideologues.

    We used to understand that we all did better when everyone did better. We had highly paid workers, but they took that money and bought the products we made. It’s not that the wealthy were hurting back then, certainly not. It’s just that the gap between the vastly wealthy and the middle class wasn’t so enormous.

    We had highly skilled workers, too, thanks to the best education system in the world, bar none. But education takes money, and no one likes paying taxes. In particular, the wealthy don’t like paying taxes, since they pay more than most (since they’ve got most of the money).

    But the vast majority of Americans aren’t super-wealthy, so that kept things reasonable. This is a democracy, after all. Unfortunately, the wealthy started using culture war issues to get religious fanatics on their side. These people reliably vote Republican, even though it’s not in their own best interests. They’re gullible, and they’re very easy to scare.

    And with Fox “News” pushing Republican propaganda 24 hours a day, they’ve succeeded beyond their wildest hopes. Heck, they controlled all three branches of the federal government during the Bush administration, and only their complete incompetence at governing let the Democrats come back a bit.

    And there’s a racial angle in all this, too. The Democrats lost the South when they did the right thing and supported integration and other civil rights for racial minorities. Things are a lot better than they were, but there’s still a lot of racism in this country. People just find it easy to believe the worst about someone of another race.

    When Republicans attack welfare, they imply black “welfare queens” picking up their checks in Cadillacs. When they “get tough on crime,” it’s black “urban criminals,” gang-members and drug dealers. They’ve convinced ignorant white hicks that racial minorities get all the breaks and all the tax money. It’s cynical, but it’s highly effective politically.

  2. I am worried that readers will see this post as an argumentum ad hominem, and therefore, unsophisticated emoting.

    It appears according to this post that conservatives CANNOT POSSIBLY have a legitimate (dare I say, moral) reason for not wanting to further grow government. As I understand it, Republican Party members are barbarians, they are SIXHRB (Sexist, Intolerant, Xenophobic, Homophobic, Racist, Bigoted), trying to destroy the very foundation of civilization. Bottom line, conservatives are not just wrong, they’re Evil.

    The temptation, the siren call of this ad hominem perspective is two-fold: 1) by labeling your opponents as SIXHRB you do not have to confront their ideas and; 2) it feels exhilarating to be morally superior.

    Of course, that is what concerned readers might think. Not me.

    I’ve never actually met a conservative, nor do I know anyone who has. Rumor has it there is that a chill that settles in the room when they enter. That they stick to the shadows, bringing with them a eerie silence and dense, ghostly fog wherever they prowl. I have heard reliable reports they are 8-feet tall, drink blood, and cannot be killed. Personally, I think they’re not real. Like mermaids, centaurs and giraffes. Nothing more than a bedtime story told to children by tolerant, enlightened people.

    1. I’m not concerned about SIXHRB issues – just the fact that Republicans are so adamant against new taxes. When things are bad I think we should pay more taxes, and when things are good, we should pay less. For example, they are talking about cancelling the James Webb telescope to save money. Is that the kind of smaller government you want? And that’s just one example. Sure there are wasteful programs, but there’s far more good programs I want to keep.

      If we all paid a little more in taxes now we could afford everything we’ve had and then wait until good economic times to start spending reductions. We’re throwing too many babies out with the bath water.

    2. When Republicans held power, they grew government themselves. But what they did that’s been absolutely disastrous is to cut taxes, especially for the rich, and put everything on the government credit card.

      Do they have a moral reason for not wanting to grow government? Well, if so, they’re immoral themselves. Admittedly, “do as I say but not as I do” is pretty common.

      But that’s not the issue. The issue is that we need to pay our bills. And the only way we’re going to make a dent in government debt – which is overwhelmingly the result of right-wing Republican policies of the past – is to reverse course on those tax cuts.

      It’s also the case that the last thing a government should do during a deep recession is to cut spending. We learned that in the Great Depression. We should have been tackling the deficit during good economic times, which is exactly what the last Democratic president did and exactly the opposite of what the last Republican president did.

      Remember, Republicans promised that tax cuts to the rich would “pay for themselves” with increased economic growth. Well, they also promised that the Iraq War – invading an innocent country with lots and lots of oil – would also “pay for itself.” They were wrong – horribly, disastrously wrong – in both cases.

      Maybe they didn’t lie about these things. Maybe they were just mistaken. But either way, isn’t it about time to change course? I would gladly confront conservative ideas if they had any that haven’t just been demonstrated to be complete and utter failures.

      I’m evidence-based, and the evidence seems pretty clear these days, wouldn’t you say?

    3. Neuromancer, I don’t believe my essay used an ad hominem argument. I wasn’t attack Republicans for their personal traits, but attack their unified stance against tax increases. I think taxes were too high decades ago, but they’ve been slowly reduced over the years, and now we’re in debt from too much tax cutting. I think we need to increase taxation just a little, and then slowly work on efficient spending after the economy gets better, then pay down the national debt, and then go back to exploring tax cuts.

      I believe the Republicans want to dismantle our current society with their belief that a smaller government is better. I disagree. Do the Republicans actually believe everyone wants a small government? I like having things like a space programs, science research, PBS/NPR, art programs, educational programs, medical support for the elderly, social security for the old, and so on.

      Is there any nation in the world where a small government produces a great society?

    4. What a self-serving, hypocritical load horseshit. Where were you the last 40 years? When ever did conservatives not grow government? When did they not massively expand the deficit and the debt? Passing law after law controlling how people live their lives. Foisting their particular version of christianity on everyone else.

  3. I agree with what you say. What is really sad is that no one is defending the gates, no one is manning the walls. We have the pathetic joke where Tea-Party fools call the President a communist, in complete seriousness, while that president and the entire democratic party surrenders with compromise on top of compromise. In the last election republicans only won control of the house, but they seem to think they won every seat. From the actions of the democrats you’d think they really did. What it shows is how utterly corrupt our politics are. How every politician and judge is bought and sold. The right to vote is meaningless when corporations can funnel unlimited cash to candidates and fund 24-7 cable-TV lies. I believe the situation has gone on for so long reform is no longer possible, positive change can only come after another revolution. Which is why I’m looking to roll my 401K plan into boxes ammo.

  4. Thank you for your well written essay. People don’t realize that the much vaunted Reagan administration actually grew the government instead of downsizing it. Greed is the key today – and so is the everlasting need to have the latests “whatevers”. Having worked with people who needed food stamps, I can attest to the fact that many of them were not lazy but just could not find appropriate work. By sending our jobs overseas, we have outsmarted ourselves. Welfare rules are such now that no one is able to profit from payouts. Some try to do it illegally by selling their food stamp cards, but now, computerized surveillance of those cards makes it a whole lot harder.
    We headed for third world status due to greed!

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