Politics, et Cetera
A publication from The Political Forum, LLC
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
They Said It:
Hobbes’s deep distrust of the whole Western tradition of political thought will not surprise us if we remember that he wanted nothing more nor less than the justification of Tyranny which, though it has occurred many times in Western history, has never been honored with a philosophical foundation. That the Leviathan actually amounts to a permanent government of tyranny, Hobbes is proud to admit: “the name of Tyranny signifieth nothing more nor lesse than the name of Soveraignty . . . ; I think the toleration of a professed hatred of Tyranny, is a Toleration of hatred to Commonwealth in generall. . .
Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism, 1951.
FERGUSON, MISSOURI AND THE MILITARIZATION OF THE STATE.
We hate to begin a piece with such a hoary cliché. Nevertheless, Ferguson, Missouri is a car wreck. Horrific, bloody, thoroughly repellent. And yet. It is captivating. One can barely look away.
One of the reasons for this is that Ferguson is a painful portrait of America today. Its problems and vices are a microcosm of the nation’s problems and vices. More frightening still is the fact that the chaos that grips that city provides a glimpse into what lies ahead for the “shining city on a hill” if something is not done to alter the course of history.
As we watch the horror, the shame, and the heartbreak of Ferguson, it is hard not to think of the questions posed by Scrooge to the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come at the end of their journey together: “Are these the shadows of the things that Will be, or are they shadows of things that May be, only? […] Why show me this, if I am past all hope! […] Assure me that I yet may change these shadows you have shown me, by an altered life!”
As was the case with Scrooge, there is still hope for America. Its shadows can be lightened, the lives of its citizens altered. But for this to happen, America must, like Scrooge, “sponge the writing from this stone.” Or, to put this in somewhat more contemporary terms, it must repent of the sins and mistakes of the past half century and regain the spirit that has been deliberately and markedly stripped from its culture during much of the last quarter century.
It is ironic that in the seemingly endless discussion among the taking heads and the “experts,” about the “meaning” of Ferguson,” Michael Brown’s life is hardly ever mentioned. Yet, nothing is more important to this quest for an understanding of this tragedy. Who was he? Was he a nice young man on his way to college? Or was he a thief, a scofflaw, a bully? Did his life presage his death? And if so, what does that mean for the countless young men like him in various cities and suburbs around the country? For now, it seems to suffice to simply call him an “unarmed black man” who was shot by a “white police officer.” The police claim that the shooting was justified. The eyewitness, a friend of Brown’s, claims it wasn’t. Now on to the race riots!
For commentators on the Left, this is all about race in America. Young, black men don’t stand a chance. They are profiled unfairly. They are harassed. They have no legitimate outlets for their frustration. They are treated unjustly by a majority culture that fears them and thinks they are all criminals. And the way to prove this unfortunate fact is to start fires, break into stores, and steal flat screen TV’s.
For commentators on the Right, this is all about the “militarization” of the police force, which is to say that it’s all about the aftermath of the shooting. The police shouldn’t have tanks. They shouldn’t have machine guns. They shouldn’t be dressed in Vietnam-era camo for cripes sake. And they certainly shouldn’t treat the people of Ferguson like a hostile, foreign insurgency.
As is always the case, there are kernels of truth in each of these arguments. And yet there is a much larger principle at stake here that is only tangentially related to race or camo-clad cops. In fact, the very character of government in contemporary America is at question here, as is the relationship between government and its citizens.
By way of explanation, we’d like to engage in one of our favorite past-times of late, namely deconstructing the conventional wisdom, as offered by the purveyors of the soft-Left consensus who populate the nation’s most prominent editorial pages. In this case, we will start, as we have more than once recently, with the Washington Post’s Pulitzer Prize Winner Eugene Robinson, who used his column last week to chide us all for our “selective outrage.” To wit:
The killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown has rightly provoked widespread outrage, drawing international media attention and prompting a comment from President Obama. The same should be true — but tragically is not — of the killing of 3-year-old Knijah Amore Bibb.
Brown was killed Saturday in Ferguson, Mo.; Knijah died the following day in Landover, Md. Both victims were African American. Both had their whole lives before them. The salient difference is that Brown was shot to death by a white police officer, according to witnesses, while the fugitive suspect in Bibb’s killing is a 25-year-old black man with a long criminal record. . . .
[w]e should be just as outraged over Knijah’s death — and just as determined that this kind of killing should never happen again.
According to police, Knijah’s family was visiting friends at a house in Landover on Sunday afternoon. Among the people who lived at the address was a young woman whose boyfriend, Davon Antwan Wallace, had also dropped by.
Wallace got into a heated argument with the girlfriend’s teenage brother, police and family members told The Post. At issue was clothing that belonged to Wallace — and that the brother had apparently been wearing. Wallace allegedly left, went to his car, got a gun and fired about six shots at the second floor of the house, apparently aiming for the brother’s room.
One of those bullets struck Knijah and killed her.
Robinson expends a great deal of energy assuring his readers that he is duly outraged by the shooting of Michael Brown. He is upset and horrified and deeply sorry about Brown’s death. It’s just that he wants us all to be equally outraged by the shooting of Knijah Bibb.
Fair enough, we suppose. He succeeds on that point. We are outraged and horrified by the shooting of Knijah Bibb. Indeed, we are probably MORE outraged by Knijah’s killing. She was three, after all. And that makes her murder heart-wrenching, as well as outrageous.
But the fact is that her death has no connection whatsoever to Brown’s. We’re not sure if Robinson had intended to write about Knijah Bibb and used Brown as the headline-grabber, or if he was trying to fashion a broad theory about the shooting of children in the black community. Either way, any larger point he may have wanted to make was completely lost. Knijah Bibb’s death was an iniquitous tragedy. Period. Michael Brown’s death may or may not have been. Neither we nor anyone else can say for sure at this point.
What makes Brown’s death more interesting and more vital to the social discussion is the fact that it was perpetrated by a representative of the state. Robinson treats this as a trifling matter. But it is not trifling. Quite the opposite. It is arguably the most important detail in the entire story. The state killed Michael Brown. And the state is not just another actor. It is different. And when it commits a violent act – when it kills someone – that too is different, particularly in this country, formerly considered to be “the last, best hope of earth” and still, at least nominally, considered to be a constitutional regime.
For more than a century now, the Left has attempted to portray the state as both a beneficent force and also as the only legitimate source of authority. This has not only perverted the citizens’ expectations of the state, but also permitted it to aggregate powers to itself that were never imagined by the nation’s Founders or their intellectual progenitors. The people of the West, and of the United States more specifically, have become convinced, through an intensive and concerted effort, to replace all familial, social, and civic affiliations with a faith in the state. They have come, in short, to see the state as their friend, their ally – their only true friend and ally.
Consider, if you will, the piece of political propaganda produced by the Obama campaign team during the presidential contest of 2012 known as “The Life of Julia.” Don’t remember Julia? Well, she was the stick figure who demonstrated just how, in Obama’s America, government can take the place of family, church, community, and the rest to help secure a long and happy life. The Huffington Post explained:
As former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama vie for the crucial women’s vote in the upcoming presidential election, the Obama campaign released an online tool called “The Life of Julia” on Thursday that walks users through the life of an average, middle-class woman, in hopes of showing how Obama’s policies benefit her more than Romney’s at every stage.
The website points out that when Julia is 17, Obama’s Race to the Top program will help her get into a good college, while the budget plan authored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), which Romney supports, cuts funding for public education. Julia will be able to focus on her career at the age of 27, because Obama’s Affordable Care Act requires her employer to cover birth control and preventative care, while Romney supported the Blunt amendment, which could jeopardize that coverage.
Government – which is to say the state – is your pal, your provider. It is the way, the truth, and the light, if you will.
Now, it goes without saying, that this pitch on behalf of the state has been more finely tuned and more effectively used in pursuit of the allegiance of those who are most in need of help. Minorities, women, the poor, etc. have been the targets of the Leftist notion of the state, largely because they, theoretically, need the protection of the sovereign more than others, having been most let down by traditional arrangements. According to the Left, “justice and fairness” can only be achieved when society’s benefits are distributed most profoundly and most determinedly to those most in need. Or as John Rawls, the contemporary Left’s leading moral philosopher, argued, in a just society, “Social and economic inequalities are to satisfy two conditions: first, they are to be attached to offices and positions open to all under conditions of fair equality of opportunity; and second, they are to be to the greatest benefit of the least-advantaged members of society.”
Needless to say, the notion of an omnipotent and benevolent state has been most fervently embraced in communities where the people believe that there is an imbalance in the distribution of rights, property, and/or justice. In short, then, it is no coincidence that this nation’s urban centers – from New York to LA, from Philadelphia to DC, from San Francisco to Chicago, from Detroit to St. Louis – have been the laboratories for “progressive” politics.
Unfortunately for the residents of these erstwhile progressive Utopias, the expansive and empowered state has consistently failed to deliver on its promises of justice and fairness. Moreover, as the state has pursued this noble goal, it has also expanded it police power, which is to say its ability to coerce behavior and to back it up with the implicit and occasionally explicit threat of violence. In an essay on Ferguson for National Review Online, Kevin Williamson, made precisely this point, i.e., that expansion of state power is rarely, if ever, limited to one sphere of behavior; the extension of the reach of the purportedly benevolent state always comes with a price.
Progressives spent a generation imposing taxes and other expenses on urban populations as though the taxpaying middle class would not relocate. They protected the defective cartel system of public education, and the union money and votes associated with it, as though middle-class parents would not move to places that had better schools. They imposed burdens on businesses, in exchange for more union money and votes, as though businesses would not shift production elsewhere. They imposed policies that disincentivized stable family arrangements as though doing so would have no social cost.
And they did so while adhering to a political philosophy that holds that the state, not the family or the market, is the central actor in our lives, that the interests of private parties — be they taxpayers or businesses — can and indeed must be subordinated to the state’s interests, as though individuals and families were nothing more than gears in the great machine of politics. The philosophy of abusive eminent domain, government monopolies, and opportunistic taxation is also the philosophy of police brutality, the repression of free speech and other constitutional rights, and economic despair. Frank Rizzo was not a paradox — he was an inevitability. When life is reduced to the terms in which it is lived in the poorest and most neglected parts of Chicago or Detroit, the welfare state is the police state. Why should we expect the agents of the government who carry guns and badges to be in general better behaved than those at the IRS or the National Labor Relations Board? We have city councils that conduct their affairs in convenient secrecy and put their own interests above those of the communities that they allege to serve, and yet we naïvely think that when that self-serving process is used to hire a police commissioner or to organize a police department, then we’ll get saints and Einsteins out of all that muck.
The more progressive the city, the worse a place it is to be poor and/or black.
In short, the problem with the Leftist/Progressive notion of the state is that it is naïve, to put it mildly. It represents a willful misreading of human nature. Furthermore, it disregards both the historical and philosophical support for the contrary view that man will not willingly accept material uniformity and will thus have to be coerced to do so. Recall that the original Leftist conceptions of the social contract, those upon which the contemporary, progressive, Rawlsian notion is based, both accepted, even advocated the use of force on the part of the state/sovereign to enforce its will.
Both of the architects of the modern police state, Hobbes and especially Rousseau, understood that the will of the state would not always correspond with the will of individuals, and thus those troublesome individuals would have to be brought into line by force or eliminated. Hobbes, of course, contended that man in his natural condition, is nasty, violent, wicked, and greedy, and would remain so if the state were not there to subdue him. Rousseau, for his part insisted that:
While the state can compel no one to believe, it can banish not for impiety, but as an antisocial being, incapable of truly loving the laws and justice, and of sacriﬁcing, if needed, his life to his duty. If, after having publicly recognized these dogmas, a person acts as if he does not believe them, he should be put to death.
In opposition to the naiveté of the Leftists/Progressives, the incomparable Max Weber offered pragmatism and realism, assessing the state for what it is and, in the process more accurately deciphering the requirements of the state in its pursuit of order. In 1919, at the end of the Great War, when hopes were high throughout Europe that the Bolshevik revolution would provide the iskra, i.e. “spark,” that Lenin said it would, Weber threw cold water on the idea of the workers’ paradise, explicating the true and irredeemable nature of the contemporary state.
On January 28, 1919, in an address to the Free Students Union at Ludwig Maximillian University of Munich, Weber told the students gripped with revolutionary fervor that their hopes would inevitably be dashed. The lecture they had requested of him, he warned, would “necessarily disappoint you in a number of ways.” He then enumerated those ways, discussing the nature of politics and the state, noting, among other things, the following:
“Every state is founded on force,” said Trotsky at Brest-Litovsk. That is indeed right. If no social institutions existed which knew the use of violence, then the concept of “state” would be eliminated, and a condition would emerge that could be designated as “anarchy,” in the specific sense of this word. Of course, force is certainly not the normal or the only means of the state — nobody says that — but force is a means specific to the state. Today the relation between the state and violence is an especially intimate one. In the past, the most varied institutions . . . have known the use of physical force as quite normal. Today, however, we have to say that a state is a human community that (successfully) claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory. Note that ‘territory’ is one of the characteristics of the state. Specifically, at the present time, the right to use physical force is ascribed to other institutions or to individuals only to the extent to which the state permits it. The state is considered the sole source of the ‘right’ to use violence. Hence, “politics” for us means striving to share power or striving to influence the distribution of power, either among states or among groups within a state.
As Weber explained, politics is the exclusive purview of the state, and the state exclusively controls “the means of political organization,” which is to say that it controls the means by which power is exerted upon the people. These are the means by which the state achieves its ends. And those ends, which are determined by the sovereign – or by the “ruling class,” in our contemporary vocabulary – are not only essential to the administration of the state but virtually define the state through this detached administration of power.
Everywhere the development of the modern state is initiated through the action of the prince. He paves the way for the expropriation of the autonomous and “private” bearers of executive power who stand beside him, of those who in their own right possess the means of administration, warfare, and financial organization, as well as politically usable goods of all sorts. . . . No single official personally owns the money he pays out, or the buildings, stores, tools, and war machines he controls. In the contemporary ‘state’ – and this is essential for the concept of state – the “separation” of the administrative staff, of the administrative officials, and of the workers from the material means of administrative organization is completed. Here the most modern development begins, and we see with our own eyes the attempt to inaugurate the expropriation of this expropriator of the political means, and therewith of political power.
Now, what all of this suggests to us, with respect to the events in Ferguson over the last couple of weeks, is that both the Left and the Right are woefully underestimating the nature of the problems on display there. In Ferguson, the state – rightly or wrongly – took the life of an 18 year-old man. And in the aftermath of that killing, the state again asserted its power, attacking protestors, arresting journalists, and, in general, treating the people of Ferguson as a hostile foreign entity. And the reason for this is as inescapable as it is chilling: the people are a foreign and hostile entity. In this case, they are a threat to the state.
The Left complains that the problem is race, while the Right complains that the problem is the “militarization” of the police. Both are right, to some extent. But both are wrong about the source of these matters. The problem is the state. The police, their alleged racial profiling, and their militarization are only manifestations of the state’s will and the tools of its enforcement. They do not exist outside of the state, and they draw their power only from the capitulation of the people to the state as the lone legitimate source of political and social power.
When Rand Paul, the Senator from Kentucky and the libertarian-leaning presidential wannabe, declares that Ferguson, Missouri provides irrefutable proof that the nation’s police forces have become militarized and that they must, therefore, be de-militarized, he misses the point. He worries about the “war on drugs,” and the Pentagon’s program whereby it distributes surplus military equipment to local police forces. He frets that “Washington has incentivized the militarization of local police precincts by using federal dollars to help municipal governments build what are essentially small armies — where police departments compete to acquire military gear that goes far beyond what most of Americans think of as law enforcement.” And while this is all well and good, we suppose, it’s myopic as well. The problem isn’t just that the police have been militarized. It’s that the state itself has been militarized; that is the state has become a separate, foreign and hostile entity to the people. The tanks and the guns and the camo are merely the most obvious manifestation of the problem.
In his splendid rant on the fundamental changes in society on display in Ferguson, the inimitable Mark Steyn addressed the issue of the police and their camo and machine guns as follows:
To camouflage oneself in the jungles of suburban America, one should be clothed in Dunkin’ Donuts and Taco Bell packaging. A soldier wears green camo in Vietnam to blend in. A policeman wears green camo in Ferguson to stand out – to let you guys know: We’re here, we’re severe, get used to it.
This is not a small thing. The point about “the thin blue line” is that it’s blue for a reason. As I wrote a couple of months ago:
“The police” is a phenomenon of the modern world. It would be wholly alien, for example, to America’s Founders. In the sense we use the term today, it dates back no further than Sir Robert Peel’s founding of the Metropolitan Police in 1829. Because Londoners associated the concept with French-style political policing and state control, they were very resistant to the idea of a domestic soldiery keeping them in line. So Peel dressed his policemen in blue instead of infantry red, and instead of guns they had wooden truncheons.
So, when the police are dressed like combat troops, it’s not a fashion faux pas, it’s a fundamental misunderstanding of who they are. Forget the armored vehicles with the gun turrets, forget the faceless, helmeted, anonymous Robocops, and just listen to how these “policemen” talk. Look at the video as they’re arresting the New York Times and Huffington Post reporters. Watch the St Louis County deputy ordering everyone to leave, and then adding: “This is not up for discussion.”
Really? You’re a constable. You may be carrying on like the military commander of an occupying army faced with a rabble of revolting natives, but in the end you’re a constable. And the fact that you and your colleagues in that McDonald’s are comfortable speaking to your fellow citizens like this is part of the problem. The most important of the “nine principles of good policing” (formulated by the first two commissioners of the Metropolitan Police in 1829 and thereafter issued to every officer joining the force) is a very simple one: The police are the public and the public are the police. Not in Ferguson. Long before the teargassing begins and the bullets start flying, the way these guys talk is the first indication of how the remorseless militarization has corroded the soul of American policing.
The only thing that Steyn misses – and it’s surprising that he does – is that this isn’t about the corroded soul of American policing, but the corroded soul of the American state. This is about the fact that this constable actually sees himself as the “military commander of an occupying army” because he has come to believe that he, as a part of the state, is indeed distinct from the people he polices, separate from men and women who require his “protection.”
None of this should come as even the slightest surprise to anyone who has been paying attention over the last several years, either to our essays or to the broader pattern of American political life. Regular readers may note that two of our most constant and enduring themes over the past decade fit the pattern exposed and reinforced by Ferguson.
More than four years ago now, we began writing about the coming resource war in this country, a war that would pit the state, in its various iterations, against the people. The state, we have often argued, needs more of a dwindling pie to maintain itself. Its representatives have made promises that they cannot keep, or at least cannot keep at current levels of resource expropriation. It cannot fund the schools, the police forces, the fire departments, the universities, and the other assorted bureaucracies at current levels, while simultaneously paying out the promises it has made to the bureaucrats of the past, present, and future in their retirement. In order to meet its promises, the state will either have to scale back its services dramatically, or it will have to take a greater and greater share of the people’s resources to fund its own apparatuses. In short, the political battles of the present and the future pit the state and its functionaries against the people for limited resources, hardening the distinction between “us” and “them.”
Likewise, more than four years ago, we began documenting the failures, overreach, and increasing autocracy of the nation’s “ruling class,” the people who believe, essentially, that the people exist to serve the state, rather than the other way around. The sense that the country is divided into “us” and “them” is, in this paradigm, likewise palpable. The ruling class despises the country class and seeks its own will rather than that of the people it scorns and pities. Or as our old friend Angelo Codevilla put it:
The two classes have less in common culturally, dislike each other more, and embody ways of life more different from one another than did the 19th century’s Northerners and Southerners – nearly all of whom, as Lincoln reminded them, “prayed to the same God.” By contrast, while most Americans pray to the God “who created and doth sustain us,” our ruling class prays to itself as “saviors of the planet” and improvers of humanity. Our classes’ clash is over “whose country” America is, over what way of life will prevail, over who is to defer to whom about what.
It is worth noting, we think, although it should be obvious at this point, that in this final clash described here by Codevilla, the people may have some guns, but only the ruling class, the state, if you will, has a domestic army, fully clad in camo, tanks, and riot gear.
We would note as well that the unrest and polarization in Ferguson, Missouri may be the most pronounced battlefield on which this clash is taking place, but it is hardly the only one. Consider, for example, the much aspersed and much discussed Obamacare “death panels.” The ruling class, of course, laughs at the very notion. This panel, they say, is merely a board of experts who has been tasked with assessing the cost-effectiveness of medical treatments to be covered under the new, state-sponsored health insurance regime. It is, they argue, no different than any other such panels, which have been utilized by private insurance companies for decades. To insist otherwise is to look a fool and to expose oneself as an anti-Obama radical.
Would that it were so. The catch here, as with the two gun deaths mentioned at the top of this piece, is that it is different when the state does it – whatever “it” happens to be. When the state makes a decision, commits an act, or suggests a rule, it does so with the ultimate coercive power. It does so with an un-appealable finality. It does so as the ultimate arbiter, the holder of the “the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force.”
This is not insignificant. Indeed, it makes all the difference in the world.
Throughout the course of the meltdown in Ferguson, various media and political personalities have expressed their surprise and their outrage. How can the police behave this way? How can racism still be so institutionally endemic after all these years, during the reign of the first black president? This surprise, we suspect, is either feigned or indicative a terrible and irreparable intellectual disconnect.
How can the police behave this way? How can they harass innocent citizens exercising their right and journalists doing their jobs? Seriously? Have they not seen the precedents set at the top, by the IRS and the NSA? Have they not yet come to recognize that this is how the state operates to maintain its control on the mean of political organization?
Mark Steyn ended his essay noting that “one day, unless something changes, we will all be policed like Ferguson.” With all due respect to Steyn, we tend to believe that this has already come to pass. It is merely the form and the violence of state coercion that varies from polity to polity.
Rather, we worry that Codevilla had the better of the argument and the more fitting fear: “The gravity of such divisions points us, as it did Lincoln, to Mark’s Gospel: ‘if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.’”
Ultimately, we suppose, the country is headed for some sort of denouement, a grand, final confrontation in which the political and social pathologies accumulated over the last century can no longer be ignored.
If we could paint for you a picture of post-denouement America, both you and we would, in time, get rich playing the market, anticipating the changes to come. Unfortunately, neither we nor anyone else can paint such a picture, at least with any clarity.
The usual libertarian/conservative solution to all problems is to devolve power back to the states and the communities, to withdraw power from the federal state and invest it in political entities “closer to the people.” This sounds promising to some extent, and certainly it makes for pithy talking points. But truth be told, such federalist fantasizing ignores the fact that state and local governments are part of the problem as well. The federal police didn’t shoot Michael Brown. The federal government didn’t lose control of the streets of Ferguson. The President is not the man in charge, waffling between sympathy for the protestors and disgust with the rioters. All of the problems in Ferguson were both triggered and exacerbated by local authorities.
This is not to say that local authorities had many good options in this situation. Indeed, the buttressing of the state and its coercive capabilities may have gone so far that local officials no longer have any chance to function in ways that would befit the representatives of a free people. The free people may not exist in any discernable sense any longer in far too many of this country’s urban centers.
If this is the case – and we suspect that it is – then much of the country faces one of two possible futures. The first of these is an extension of and a strengthening of the status quo. The state will continue to accumulate power, and it will continue to use that power to enhance the economic well-being a few, favored entrepreneurs. The rest of the people will pass, quietly and passively from citizens to subjects. They will be content with their service jobs or with the payments the state grants them in return for keeping peaceful. The new oligarchy will rule and their subjects will be pleased to subsist comfortably, if placidly.
The other possible future takes the path of Detroit. Detroit, you may note, and as we have repeatedly documented in these pages, is the proverbial poster-child for urban collapse. It is a wasted husk of a city that can offer its people nothing and can afford to pay for nothing. But Detroit is also, ironically, the hope for urban renewal. Bankruptcy, after all, is not the end of a city, but the opportunity for a new beginning, the opportunity to shed the shackles of union pensions and an all-powerful government. Detroit offers the hope that can only come from hitting bottom. When ya ain’t got nothing, as Bob Dylan put it, ya got nothing to lose.
We don’t actually expect that Detroit will take advantage of this opportunity, sadly. But the opportunity is still there. And others, less heavily invested in the power of the state, will undoubtedly find their salvation down that road.
In the end, then, we suppose that some combination of all of this will shape the future of the country. Codevilla warns about a house divided, but perhaps this division can provide partial hope for part of the country. Federalism will provide some relief, allowing those polities not encumbered by a statist mentality to find their own futures. And where the state is too heavily entrenched, the future will look different, with the Blue-State oligarchical structures dominating the near-to-medium term. Some Americans will be happy and free, while other will be less happy and notably less free, but nevertheless will have their material needs satiated.
The nation will look much different in a couple of decades, in other words, as some men and women awaken to glories of Scrooge’s Christmas morn, while others never do, remaining forever lost in their Dickensian delusion.