2012 Comes to an End Awash in Crises that May Make a Mess of 2013
2012 may go down as one of the worst years yet. For those of us born with a gift of laughter but a sense that the world is mad, our gift of laughter has been stolen while the sense that the world is mad has been titanium reinforced.
The Shipping Cliff threatens a huge amount of the shipping that enters the United States every day. The International Longshoremen's Association (union) is threatening to strike at 15 ports along the US east and gulf coasts. From Boston to Texas, these ports are key to the US economy. A strike could cripple them, and the economy along with them. Truckers, warehouses, retailers, factories that depend on overseas supplies, automotive services, electronics, shoe and clothing companies and sellers -- all of these would be heavily impacted by a strike. For what it's worth, the workers who would be striking make about $124,138 per year in wages and benefits, roughly double the US average.
The Milk Cliff threatens to double the price of milk. At issue is a porked up farm bill which is languishing in Congress. If a farm bill or a fix is not passed by January 1, the federal government will revert back to a Truman-era law that forces it to buy milk from dairy producers at grossly inflated prices. This will drive the price of milk up swiftly, and consumers will find prices ranging from $6 a gallon to $8 a gallon. The spiking milk price will have a cascading effect on the prices of other commodities. Hello, inflation!
Calls for stricter gun control are rising in the wake of the Newtown, CT tragedy. Though school shootings remain rare and stricter gun control has never proven to reduce gun-related crime, guns are the easiest things for politicians to reach for in a crisis, and Democrats like California Sen. Diane Feinstein are reaching for them with both hands. Feinstein et al will never pause to consider why cities with the strictest gun control laws tend to be the most violent and lawless places in America. They're finishing 2012 in hysterical crisis mode, and we can expect them to spend much of 2013 pushing to do something the Constitution expressly forbids them to do. The Second Amendment to that document that Obama once derided as a "charter of negative rights" expressly says that "the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." 2013 is going to see a strong and concerted effort to violate the spirit and the letter of that amendment.
The Fiscal Cliff is the largest of the four crises. It threatens to rain economic Armageddon on an already struggling US and world economy. If nothing is done by January 1, tax rates on all Americans will go up. The first paychecks of 2013 will reflect the poor decisions made in the USA during 2011 and especially 2012. The worst of those decisions was the re-election of Barack Obama to the presidency. Obama has made a discovery during his first term, which is that the poorly performing economy with its high unemployment does not hurt him. Economic malaise leads to more citizen dependence on government. This is good for Obama's political livelihood at least in the near term, as he has positioned himself as the champion of the giveaway state. The current state of the economy leaves Obama little incentive to take any action that would improve the economy, but with strong incentives to sabotage the economy so that more Americans depend on him and the Democrats just to get by every month. The divide Congress leaves him with a relatively free hand to act unilaterally on issues of his choice. Essentially, he has hacked the Constitution and the economy. Regarding the fiscal cliff, Obama has cynically engineered the crisis so that if no deal averts the January 1 tax hikes and deep defense spending cuts, he gets to blame Republicans despite the fact that they only hold one side of Congress and despite Speaker Boehner's attempt to pass Plan B the week before Christmas. As the nation plunges headlong over the cliff in January, Obama gets to ride in as the hero to cut taxes back to the Bush-era rates. The Bush tax cuts which Obama criticized for years become the Obama tax cuts that help him cast himself as the great tax cutter. Federal entitlement spending cuts are unlikely to be meaningfully folded into any January deal, leaving the nation less well defended than before, but with just as rampant an entitlement spending problem as ever. And, more dependence on government as the economy reels from body blow after body blow. The left's transfer of wealth from future generations to present ones goes on unabated, and will probably only get worse.
So, happy New Year...
Update: The longshoremen strike has been averted...for 30 days.