by michael on April 15, 2011

I wrote yesterday about debt being a moral issue. Debt is an issue that goes beyond economics and politics. Debt is an existential threat to the United States. Debt is giving military and scientific power to enemies of the United States. Debt is legitimizing the subversion of the most productive sectors of the United States economy. Debt will polarize the United States to a degree, I believe, not seen the Civil War.

 Just as I took a break from writing an article about the extraordinary leather craftsman, Jim Wear, who lives in Laramie, Wyoming, I find this prescient but gut wrenchingly pessimistic article by Michael Filozof. Here are a few key paragraphs. Read it all if you can stomach his conclusions:

The Federal Budget and the Crisis of Democracy

by Michael Filozof 


“The proposals in Ryan’s budget are pure fantasies. Ryan is a member of the House of Representatives. He’s up for re-election in 2012 and every two years thereafter. ……..   How can he possibly make proposals decades into the future? And we haven’t even mentioned the Senate, the White House,…..

The fact that the Ryan budget was received as a model of fiscal responsibility shows just how out-of-control things really are.

The budget reflects the existential crisis of democracy.  Our books cannot be balanced without an authoritarian governing process on one hand, or a disastrous collapse of American currency and credit on the other.

The budget cannot be balanced by the democratic process. That is because we have three distinct groups, each acting rationally: clients of the welfare state, who vote to obtain as many benefits as they can; taxpayers, who vote to pay as little as they can; and politicians, who can only get elected by appeasing both groups through deficit spending. 

All of this is happening because our country has become democratized far beyond what our Founders intended.  Twenty-five centuries ago, the philosopher Plato argued that democracy led to tyranny when the people rose up against the propertied class; the tyrant gained his power by first posing as a “defender of democracy” and a “man of the people” against the oligarchs.4  America’s Founders knew this, of course, so they devised not a democracy but a republic of limited powers.  The Founders envisioned that factions antagonistic to each other would balance each other out.  But they never envisioned that government could loot the wealth of one faction and give it to another.

The insatiable appetite of the welfare state has destroyed the constitutional framework carefully constructed by the Founders.

We have already seen authoritarian attempts to control the budget because the political process cannot……. We are thus left with the unpalatable choices of an authoritarian denial of welfare state-benefits, or an authoritarian confiscation of property to pay for them.

Welcome to socialism, folks.  Welcome to tyranny.”

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