the visible hand

it is the theory which decides what can be observed – einstein

The Predator State

Posted by ecoshift on October 6, 2008

Goodbye, Conservatives. Hello, Predators. | The Big Money
“Economic conservatives—and, indeed, economics—have no place in the current GOP.”
By James K. Galbraith Posted Sunday, October 5, 2008 – 5:31pm

The fundamentals of our economy are strong.
—Sen. John McCain, Sept. 14, 2008

Back in the Reagan days, Republicans talked economics. We had problems; they had solutions. Tight money would cure inflation. Low taxes would stimulate saving and hard work. Small government would “crowd in” investment; free trade would make us efficient. Smart people believed this, and they had Milton Friedman to back them up. I never thought they were right—but they were serious. They were coherent. And they argued with passion and conviction, which commanded respect.

But now, real economic conservatives have disappeared from the Republican stage. Many will vote for Obama this year—they call themselves Obamacons. Though we still disagree on nearly everything, we’re on the same side. This is curious, and there seemed to be a book in it; The Predator State is that book.

Real conservatives know that neither Bush nor McCain is one of them. Bush is a bread-and-circuses reactionary with a clientele of lobbies. McCain gets his economic ideas from Phil Gramm, the ultimate architect of the Enron culture, of libertine speculation and financial disaster. As for Sarah Palin, back in Alaska she took every dime of pork she could lay her hands on. This crowd deregulates and privatizes not because they think it might work out for the public but because they know it won’t. What they care about is putting their friends in charge.

Under Bush, oil and gas, drug companies and defense contractors, insurers and usurers, banks and big media control the government of the United States. John McCain was a key member of the Keating Five and a lynchpin of the savings-and-loan debacle; then, as chair of the Senate commerce committee, he presided over Lobby Central; notoriously, his campaign is run by lobbyists to this day and until last week his policy could be summed up in slogans: he was a “free market” man, a “deregulator.” Sarah Palin is an interesting case. What was she known for in Wasilla and Juneau? For trying to fire any public servant, from the town librarian to the state commissioner of public safety, who didn’t toe her line. Bush and McCain are the predator state writ large, and she is the predator state writ small.

The predator state has no public purpose. Apart from a few empty slogans—smaller government, balance the budget, feel your pain—the connection between actual problems and actual policies has disappeared. It has become clear that, if the Republicans had their way, this election would not be about issues. It would be about anything else: personalities, associations, the politics of fear, and the life history of a long-ago prisoner of war.

But fate blew McCain’s cover. On the morning that Lehman Bros. and Merrill Lynch fell, John McCain spoke the immortal words of Herbert Hoover: “The fundamentals of our economy are strong.” He said it twice. It’s a phrase with deep resonance in American politics. People understand it. No politician says “the fundamentals are strong” unless they know that they are not…

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