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Ed Driscoll

Mort Sahl Meets Oswald Spengler

August 2nd, 2011 - 11:18 am

In the mail today, Mark Steyn’s new book, After America:

Nobody writes a doomsday tome because they want it to come true. From an author’s point of view, the apocalypse is not helpful: the bookstores get looted and the collapse of the banking system makes it harder to cash the royalty check.

But Cassandra’s warnings were cursed to go unheeded, and so it seems are mine. Last time ’round, I wrote that Europe was facing a largely self-inflicted perfect storm that threatened the very existence of some of the oldest nation-states in the world. My warning proved so influential that America decided to sign up for the same program but supersized. Heigh-ho.

It starts with the money. In “The Run Upon the Bankers” (1720), Jonathan Swift wrote:

 A baited banker thus desponds,

From his own hand foresees his fall,

They have his soul, who have his bonds;

’Tis like the writing on the wall.

A lot of writing on the wall these days. Who has the bonds of a “developed world” developed to the point that it’s institutionally conditioned to living beyond its means? Foreigners with money. So who’s available and flush enough? The Chinese Politburo; Saudi sheikhs lubricated with oil but with lavish worldwide ideological proselytizing to fund; Russian “businessmen.”….These are not the fellows one might choose to have one’s bonds, never mind one’s soul, but there aren’t a lot of other options.

 **********

 In 2010, Douglas Elmendorf, director of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), described current U.S. deficits as “unsustainable.” On that everyone’s agreed. So let’s make them even more so!

On assuming office, President Obama assured us, with a straight face, that his grossly irresponsible wastrel of a predecessor had taken the federal budget on an eight-year joyride. So the only way his sober, fiscally prudent successor could get things under control was to grab the throttle and crank it up to what Mel Brooks in Spaceballs (which seems the appropriate comparison) called “Ludicrous Speed.” Let’s head for the washed-out bridge, but at Obamacrous Speed!

The Spendballs plans of the Obama administration took the average Bush deficit for the years 2001–2008 and doubled it, all the way to 2020. “We’ve got a big hole that we’re digging ourselves out of,” the president declared in 2011. Usually, when you’re in a hole, it’s a good idea to stop digging. But, seemingly, to get out of the Bush hole, we needed to dig a hole twice as deep for one-and-a-half times as long. And that’s according to the official projections of the president’s economics czar, Ms. Rose Colored-Glasses.

By 2020, the actual hole will be so deep that even if you toss every Obama speech down it on double-spaced paper you still won’t be able to fill it up. In the spendthrift Bush days, federal spending as a proportion of GDP averaged 19.6 percent. That’s crazy. Obama’s solution was to attempt to crank it up to 25 to 30 percent as a permanent feature of life. That’s load up the suicide-bomber underpants and pass me the matches.

You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll kiss America’s future as a superpower goodbye.

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