Politics, et Cetera
A publication from The Political Forum, LLC
Tuesday, March 5, 2013
They Said It:
Leftist attitudes have been extraordinarily consistent. Communism gave way to anti-colonialism. Israel remained a target for special rage, even though Zionism was both a settler movement and an anti-colonial movement that attacked the forces of the British empire. Anti-colonialism gave way to the 1968 rebellions. In Germany, the left-wing terrorists around the Baader Meinhof gang claimed to be against the Nazism of their parents. They proved they were just like their parents when they planted a bomb at a meeting to commemorate the anniversary of Kristallnacht. Today the bulk of the Left has forgotten its old appeals to universal values. Conservatives and liberals are more likely to emphasise the need to assimilate, while the Left “celebrates” diversity and difference — for everyone, that is, except Jews….
Israel is unique among nations. It is the only sovereign country whose right to exist is questioned as a matter of routine. No other country — not China, Zimbabwe, Sudan or Iran — suffers comparable abuse. Left-wing viewers of the atrocities in Syria must be baffled. Who knew that the Assad family was capable of such crimes? Who told them that anyone in the Middle East outside Palestine had good cause to revolt?
The notion that Israel is an illegitimate state has gone from the fringe to the mainstream of left-wing discourse.
Nick Cohen, “How the Left Turned Against the Jews,” Standpoint, April 2012.
WELCOME THE PALEO-CONS BACK TO THE WORLD STAGE.
Some things never change in Washington. The current financial crisis/sequester Armageddon, for example, is simply the newest installment in what has become a very old and very irritating game in this town. This game of “ransom the electorate” is trite, tiresome, and transparent. But it’s also quite effective. “Give us all your money,” the ruling class shrieks, “and let us spend it however we please . . . or . . . or . . . you’ll never see your friends and family again! You’ll be trapped in airport security hell for all eternity. Or furloughed traffic cops will screw up the traffic lights and you’ll die in a fiery crash. Or the terrorists will get you, while you sleep, and in front of you children! Be afraid! Be very afraid!”
In time, of course, the threats works, largely because the ruling class can, in fact, do whatever it wants with the electorate’s money and can “appropriate” as much of that money as it sees fit. The entire production – including the threats – is just for show. It’s always just for show, produced and orchestrated for the edification of the nation’s political “leaders.” It’s what they do. It is reminiscent of Matthew Arnold’s epic poem “Balder Dead,” in which he described the heaven of the ancient Norsemen, Valhalla they called it, where men fought and killed each other all day, then when night came, arose from the field of battle, went to Odin’s Hall and whooped it up, only to do it all over again the next day.
And from their beds the Heroes rose, and donn’d
Their arms, and led their horses from the stall,
And mounted them, and in Valhalla’s court
Were rang’d; and then the daily fray began.
And all day long they there are hack’d and hewn
‘Mid dust, and groans, and limbs lopp’d off, and blood;
But all at night return to Odin’s hall
Woundless and fresh: such lot is theirs in Heaven.
Thus has it been for decades now. And thus shall it be for the foreseeable future.
Other things, by contrast, do change. Sometimes, to quote Paul Johnson, “when the tide of conventional belief ebbs away,” as it surely has done since “The One” became President, “the incoming surge deposits strange objects, often relics of a distant past, on the shore.” Consider, for example, the case of Pat Buchanan.
Once upon a time, Pat Buchanan was the consummate Washington insurgent. He was never really an outsider, having been raised in D.C., having gone to school in the Ivy League, and having worked his entire adult life in politics, including a stint as an opposition researcher for the Nixon campaign and as a speechwriter for the President upon his election.
Still, he was a dissenter. He rebelled against the GOP machine and against a type of conservatism he found too tepid and too “liberal.” He was the self-appointed leader of the paleo-conservatives. He railed against big government and attempted to rejuvenate the old Taft wing of the party, the isolationists who opposed America’s entry into World War II.
By itself, this was a respectable, if lonely, position. It appealed to a great many Americans who were sick of both the fiscal deficits and the constant beat of war drums. But it was a hard sell and Pat turned out to have a tin ear for mass politics.
It was one thing to preach prudence when it came to dealing with the world’s hot spots, to avoid war, if you will. It was quite another to base this argument on Robert Taft’s opposition to World War II.
Indeed, the notion that Winston Churchill had a “lust for war” and “blundered” by declaring war against Hitler and Germany in 1939 sounded more than a little bit kooky to most Americans. Furthermore, Buchanan argued that Roosevelt should never have come to Churchill’s aid and that Roosevelt and Churchill were not much (if any) better than Hitler, given their roles in the bombing of Germany and the post-war Soviet domination of Eastern Europe. Ummm!
Now let it be noted that Taft’s position against American involvement in the on-going war in Europe was not at all that radical at the time. Indeed, the opposition among the American people to joining that war was so intense that in order to get congressional approval to do so, Roosevelt had to, in the words of Secretary of War Henry Stimson, “maneuver [the Japanese] into a position of firing the first shot without allowing too much danger to ourselves.”
But this resurrection of the ancient past just didn’t resonate with a public that may not have known much history, but did know that Adolf Hitler was a very evil man who needed to be stopped. And that America’s part in this effort marked one of its greatest moments.
But that wasn’t Pat’s only problem. Indeed, the thing that marked him as too far outside the mainstream to be taken seriously was his not-so-veiled assertion that those who disagreed with his paleo-conservative views on foreign policy were not just wrong, but anti-American, working in concert with a cabal of Jews who were deliberately sacrificing the nation’s security interests on the altar of Israel’s security.
Indeed, his constant patter of anti-Semitism became so offensive that his one-time friend, conservative icon William F. Buckley finally wrote: “I find it impossible to defend Pat Buchanan against the charge that what he did and said during the period under examination amounted to anti-Semitism.”
The result was that Pat destroyed the small but historically respectable neo-isolationist wing of the Republican Party, and did considerable injury to the Party itself. In 1992, he challenged incumbent President George H.W. Bush in the primaries and damaged his fellow Republican, perhaps fatally, when he nearly won an upset victory in New Hampshire. Four years later, “Pitchfork Pat” again weakened the Party’s hand-picked candidate, Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, by actually winning in New Hampshire
But slowly over the years Buchanan became a fringe player. In 1999, he formally left the Republican Party, which he said had been taken over by “neo-conservatives,” which he identified as a faction of Jews who had hijacked the GOP and who were more loyal to Israel than to the United States.
In 2004, he formalized these charges in a book entitled Where the Right Went Wrong: How Neoconservatives Subverted the Reagan Revolution and Hijacked the Bush Presidency. According to Amazon’s “Book Description,” the book “chronicles how the Bush administration and Beltway conservatives have abandoned their principles, and how a tiny cabal [read Jews] hijacked U.S. foreign policy and may have ignited a ‘war of civilizations’ with the Islamic world that will leave America mired down in Middle East wars for years to come.”
Now in case you are wondering why we are discussing a wash-out fringe player, it is because the election of Barack Obama in 2008 has suddenly put Buchanan’s ideas back in the mainstream. And with the confirmation of Buchananite Chuck Hagel as the Secretary of Defense, those ideas are now unofficial administration policy. Over the span of two decades, Pat’s ideas have gone from being almost unspeakable to acceptable and lately to conventional. Pretty neat trick, eh?
And just what are those ideas of Buchanan’s that have been mainstreamed? And more to the point, what do they mean for the political discourse in this country?
Fortunately for us, even at age 74, Pat is hardly a wallflower and thus has no problem sharing those ideas in as aggressive and public a manner as possible. And last week, in his syndicated column, he did just that. Specifically, he went after the Washington Post and its resident “conservative,” the blogger Jennifer Rubin. To wit:
The Washington Post, as always concerned with fairness and balance, runs a blog called “Right Turn: Jennifer Rubin’s Take From a Conservative Perspective.” The blog tells us what The Post regards as conservatism . . . . Rubin’s blog may be The Post’s idea of conservatism. Ronald Reagan wouldn’t recognize it.
And just what is wrong with Rubin’s variety of conservatism? Buchanan continues:
This week, Rubin declared that America’s “greatest national security threat is Iran.” Do conservatives really believe this?
How is America, with thousands of strategic and tactical nuclear weapons, scores of warships in the Med, Persian Gulf, Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean, bombers and nuclear subs and land-based missiles able to strike and incinerate Iran within half an hour, threatened by Iran?
Iran has no missile that can reach us, no air force or navy that would survive the first days of war, no nuclear weapons, no bomb-grade uranium from which to build one. Citing The Associated Press and Times of Israel, Rubin warns us that “Iran has picked 16 new locations for nuclear plants.”
How many nuclear plants does Iran have now? One, Bushehr.
Begun by the Germans under the Shah, Bushehr was not completed until 2011. In their dreams, the Iranians are going to throw up 16 nuclear plants.
Twice Rubin describes our situation today as “scary.”
Remarkable. Our uncles and fathers turned the Empire of the Sun and Third Reich into cinders in four years, and this generation is all wee-weed up over Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
It’s interesting, we think, that Buchanan should mention the “Third Reich” in this rant against Rubin. You see, if Buchanan had been writing his column in, say, 1940, he might have said the same things then about Hitler and the Nazis as he is saying today about Ahmadinejad and the Mad Mullahs. All of this, of course, was written in full knowledge of the atrocities committed by Hitler and his minions, i.e. the murder of some six million Jewish men, women, and children, known in the civilized world as “The Holocaust.”
Of course, Buchanan has never been much of a Holocaust-as-justification-for-stopping-Hitler kinda guy. Indeed, he’s always been more of a Holocaust, schmollocaust kind of guy. And that brings us to Jennifer Rubin. Rubin, as you may have guessed, is . . . how shall we put this . . . “neo-ish,” which is to say that she is a “neoconservative.” And in Pat’s world, a neoconservative is the worst thing one can be.
The “neocons” started the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They were inspired, in part, by the war-monger Churchill – which, naturally, is why war-monger Bush kept the now-infamous bust of Churchill in the Oval Office. Worst of all, the neocons – people like Rubin, and Paul Wolfowitz, and Bill Kristol, and Richard Perle, and Douglas Feith – are doing Israel’s bidding, not that of the United States. Buchanan, unable to resist such an easy target, apparently, swerves from attacking the Post and Rubin to attacking “Bibi” Netanyahu, whom he claims, is using people like Rubin to get the United States to do his dirty work on Iran: “Bibi has since been prime minister twice. Why has he not manned up and dealt with Iran himself? Answer: He wants us to do it.”
Fifteen years ago, Buchanan’s obsession with the neocons would have been written off as crackpot conservative internecine posturing, at best, and thinly veiled anti-Semitism at worst. Today, however, it is lauded as “insightful.”
In response to Buchanan’s rant against Jennifer Rubin, a chorus of “friends of Barack” chimed in to declare Pitchfork Pat a prophet without honor in his home party. At the lefty blog “Wonkette,” a blogger named Snipy insisted on Buchanan’s brilliance in “schooling” Rubin on Iran and the rest of the neocon cabal on Iraq and the rest of the Middle East. More notably, over at the New Jersey Star Ledger, the paper’s big shot columnist Paul Mulshine slaps Buchanan on the back and joins in the neo-bashing:
Perhaps nothing is more amusing than the idea of a bunch of liberal newspaper journalists anointing a fellow left-winger the house “conservative.”
We saw that with the New York Times naming Bill “My Mommy Really Was a Commie” Kristol as the resident right-winger when in fact Kristol was a mouthpiece for the neo-Trotskyite beliefs of his formerly radical parents….
Buchanan nicely dissects the public bedwetting over Iran by these dreadful “neo” conservatives. As he notes, we faced down the Nazis and Japanese and the nuclear-armed Soviet Union. Yet we’re supposed to be in terror of a country that exports little more than pistachio nuts?
Funnily enough, Mulshine, apparently believing that his leftist bona fides insulate him against charges that would be leveled against a right-winger like Buchanan, pushes his criticism of the “neocons” much farther than Buchanan does. For starters, he cites Justin Raimondo as an expert source on neo-conservatism and its “radical” history. Raimaondo, for those of you who don’t know, is an arch-paleo-conservative who runs the web site Antiwar.com and who is known for his detestation of the “neocons” and for his book alleging an Israeli intelligence conspiracy in the events of 9/11. Raimondo most recently made headlines for suggesting that the “coup” against former CIA Director David Petraeus was led, in part, by House Majority Leader (and dirty neo!) Eric Cantor, who was unhappy with Petraeus’s lack of support for Israel and used his neocon connections to concoct a “honeypot”/blackmail scheme using Paula Broadwell as the proverbial “honey.” Good stuff.
Additionally, Mulshine wants to make sure that his readers know what it means to be a <wink, wink> “neo” and so he casually mentions Jennifer Rubin’s utterly irrelevant work history:
And read Rubin’s bio on Wikipedia. ‘Rubin was a labor and employment lawyer in Los Angeles, working for Hollywood studios, for 20 years.’ Those are hardly conservative credentials.
Now, we’ve been conservatives for decades between us, and we never knew there was a rule against Hollywood lawyers participating in the movement. Of course, it occurs to us that perhaps Mulshine doesn’t really care about Rubin’s conservative “credentials” and just wanted to make sure that everyone understands that she is . . . well . . . one of “them.”
Indeed, all things considered, between Buchanan and Mulshine, there can be little question who “them” are and what the nefariousness “they” are up to in this country.
But why should anyone care what a handful of far Right and far Left political groupies think about the Washington Post and about “neoconservatives?”
The answer to that, we’re afraid, is rather simple: these guys aren’t out of the mainstream. They ARE the mainstream. Buchanan is unhappy with Rubin. Okay. But she’s been at the Post for nearly two-and-a-half years now. And throughout her tenure there – and at other places like Commentary – she has always been aggressive in her denunciation of the Iranian regime and its desire for nuclear weapons. So why, now, all of a sudden, does Buchanan find her so infuriating that he can’t hold his tongue? That too is rather simple: Rubin was one of the conservative leaders of the charge against Chuck Hagel. She, in alliance with other nasty “neos” like John Podhoretz, insisted that Hagel’s own comments on Iran and “neoconservatives” should be considered before permitting him to take over the Pentagon.
The catch, of course, in Hagel’s case, is that he, unlike Buchanan and Mulshine, didn’t think he had to couch his criticism of the “neos” so cautiously, which is to say that he was pretty outspoken in his vilification of Jews and specifically of the “Israeli” and “Jewish” lobbies.
He was also pretty outspoken about his belief that the Mad Mullahs aren’t really “Mad” at all; they’re just misunderstood. And Rubin, chief among others, called him on both contentions. And that, apparently, made the venerable Mr. Buchanan unhappy. Hagel is his guy, after all. He is, in Buchanan’s words, “a good man, he’s a patriot. He’s got an independent mind.” To Pat Buchanan, Hagel is a REAL conservative, i.e. a Jew-baiting, gay hating, paleocon who thinks that isolationism is actually a real and practical solution to all of this country’s ills. How dare a sniveling “neo” war-monger like Rubin even question a man like Hagel? Or, as Buchanan put it just last month:
Neocon hostility to Hagel is rooted in a fear that in Obama’s inner councils his voice would be raised in favor of negotiating with Iran and against a preventive war or pre-emptive strike. But if Obama permits these assaults to persuade him not to nominate Hagel, he will only be postponing a defining battle of his presidency, not avoiding it.
For Bibi Netanyahu is going to be re-elected this January. And the government he forms looks to be more bellicose than the last. And Bibi’s highest priority, shared by his neocon allies, is a U.S. war on Iran in 2013.
If Obama does not want that war, he is going to have to defeat the war party. Throwing an old warrior like Chuck Hagel over the side to appease these wolves is not the way to begin this fight.
Damned war-mongering “neos!”
For more than ten years now, we have written in these pages about the mainstreaming of anti-Semitism, particularly on the political Left. We put it this way just under two years ago:
One of the most signiﬁcant and least understood side effects of the left’s embrace of the Palestinian cause as its own – which is to say the embrace of the “noble,” if primitive Palestinians against the Westernized and “colonial” Zionists – is the shift in the position of anti-Semitism along the ideological spectrum. Once upon a time, anti-Semitism was identiﬁed as a uniquely right-wing phenomenon, the province of Nazis, fascists, the Klan, Christian radicals, Father Charles Coughlin, Charles Linbergh, and others assorted reactionaries. Since the 1960s, however, that has changed, slowly, but ever so surely. Today, the left is the home of the overwhelming majority of anti-Semitic sentiment. Those who despise Israel for its Palestinian policies and Jews in general for their “undue inﬂuence” on American foreign policy, wield great and ever-growing inﬂuence, and they do so exclusively within the conﬁnes of the Democratic Party . . . .
[T]he Left’s obsession with “neoconservatism” during the Bush years was, in many ways, anti-Semitic in its origins and motivations, if not always in its expression. The left and its intellectuals continue to this day to insist that Israel and its “agents” (i.e. American Jews) wield far too much power within the American foreign policy establishment and have far too much inﬂuence over policy makers, which renders American foreign affairs essentially a tool of Zionism, which is to say a “tool of the Jews.”
When Barack Obama nominated Hagel to be the Secretary of Defense, many on the Right concluded that Obama needed Hagel to serve as the token Republican who would oversee the dismantling of the Pentagon, thereby making that dismantling “bipartisan.” Nonsense. Obama nominated Hagel because they share a common view of the world, a view in which American is a bully and its closest ally in the Middle East is an even bigger bully; one that uses the influence of rich American Jews with “questionable loyalty” to control the American foreign policy establishment.
Guys like Chuck and Pat have always been on the fringes of American political discourse. They’ve always been radicals, outsiders, guys whose beliefs were just a little too “fiery” (read: bigoted) to permit them to be allowed in polite company. But that’s no longer the case. Today, Buchanan is well within the Washington mainstream, and Hagel is the guy in charge of defense policy for the most liberal president since Johnson at least and perhaps since Wilson. They are part of the ruling class. And their views represent the ruling class’s views.
Strangely, we don’t think we should have to make the case for what has come to be known as “neoconservative” foreign policy. Longtime readers likely know well that we were, in many ways, opposed to the Bush foreign policy and especially to its administration in the hands of Condoleezza Rice.
In fact, in an article entitled “Over the Edge With Condi,” dated August 11, 2003, we said the following when she was quoted as saying that America’s commitment in Iraq was part of a “long-term strategy in which the United States would spread its values through Iraq and the Middle East much as it transformed Europe in the second half of the 20th century.” To wit:
. . . that if Ms. Rice’s views do indeed outline what George W. Bush and his foreign policy team have in mind for the Middle East, then the United States is headed down a road toward a foreign policy disaster. An ancillary thought that came to me at the same time is that these people are insane.
But then, Condi wasn’t a neocon. And neither was Bush. And neither was Dick Cheney, for crying out loud. “Neocons” were singled out in the Bush administration for reasons that had very little to do with policy or reality. As the inimitable Mark Steyn noted in his defense of Bush Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, “Wolfowitz is a demonic figure to the anti-war types for little reason other than that his name begins with a big scary animal and ends Jewishly.” That demonization, of course, continues to this day. And as either Pat or the nation’s DefSec Hagel could tell you, all the “bad guys” have names that end Jewishly.
This may be difficult for some Jewish-Americans to wrap their heads around – especially useful idiots like New York Senator Chuck Schumer, who ran interference for the Hagel nomination – but the fact of the matter is this: the American ruling class does not like Jews who have a fondness for Israel. Its leaders do not want them hanging around. And if they do insist on hanging around, they’re going to have to shut up about Israel and about the “unfairness” of the pro-Palestinian, pro-Arab, pro-ISLAMIST, and pro-“oppressed” biases of the rest of the crowd.
As outlandish as it sounds, Harvard-educated “neos” are out, and University of Nebraska-Omaha-educated knuckle-draggers like Chuck Hagel are in. Deal with it. This is one of those things that have changed in Washington since the Boomers and post-Boomers have come of age. Cognitive dissonance is the ruling-class ethos. And in that spirit, it is wrong to be prejudiced, unless, of course, you’re prejudiced against the right people. And the Israelis and their American brethren are the “right people.”
What this means going forward is that American Jewish voters are going to have to make a choice. We have been predicting a Jewish swing to the GOP ever since 9/11. It hasn’t happened. We’re no longer convinced that it will. If it doesn’t, then this country’s liberal Jewish population will be tacitly accepting its underclass position in the new ruling coalition.
We find the whole thing rather disturbing. But then, what do we know? Like Jen Rubin, we think Chuck Hagel is a boob and we think a nuclear-armed Iran would be a bad thing. Maybe Pat Buchanan is right. Maybe ol’ Ronnie wouldn’t recognize us as conservatives. He would, however, recognize the ruling class for who and what they are. They’re the crowd about whom National Review’s Jay Nordlinger tells the following anecdote (one of our favorites):
When he [Reagan] was governor of California, he visited some campus, for a tense regents’ meeting. As he tried to leave, a student mob surrounded his car. They chanted, “We are the future! We are the future!” Reagan retrieved a notebook from his briefcase, scribbled something, and held it up to the window: “I’ll sell my bonds.”
The future, of course, is now. And those students are all grow’d up and now have the ruling class they always wanted. As for Reagan, we’d imagine he’d be awfully glad he sold those bonds, although we suppose he’d be surprised to see Pat Buchanan running around with that mob, acting like a fool and questioning the loyalty of his fellow Americans, much less his fellow conservatives.
CALIFORNIA AND THE “BLUE” ECONOMIC MODEL.
As you well know, we have spent a great deal of time and spilled a great deal of toner over the last few weeks discussing the “Obama economic plan” and the implications of that plan on the national ethos. On the off chance you missed it, here’s the gist of our thesis, as spelled out in “Makers, Takers, and the Obama Economic Model,” (January 29, 2013):
[T]he Obama economy is very much shaped by the age and by his belief in the necessity and efficacy of government on a massive scale. The Obama economy is, for all intents, the “service economy” on steroids. The key players and the principal job providers are those that deal not in manufacture or creation of tangible goods, but those that deal in ideas, creative ventures, finance, and, most important, government services. Obama and his fellow Leftists decry the decline of American industrialization and bemoan the “outsourcing” of good manufacturing jobs. And yet their economic policies and priorities promote nothing except big banks, big IT companies, and big government. Small business, manufactures, and start-ups, by contrast, are singled out for retribution….
The net effects of this type of economy, naturally, include a greater number of Americans without jobs and a greater emphasis on the growth of government, at all levels and across all professions. On the private economy side of things, success is measured in terms of productivity and efficiency. How much can be done with how little? How much can be accomplished with how few workers? This is the nature of technological change, of course. But its impact on the workforce is both notable and hugely significant. This is all the more relevant when small business, which is the overwhelming provider of new jobs in this country, is given short shrift. The economy can, for a while at least, chug along, but it does so needing fewer and fewer workers.
On the public sector side of things, “austerity” is a completely foreign concept. More is better. Bigger is better. The larger and more extensive is government, the more people who can be employed in government “service.”
In both cases, the cost of government has to rise significantly, either to provide benefits or to provide jobs. And that, in turn, means that taxes have to rise, in order to pay for increased benefits or to pay for jobs, all without upsetting the debt markets or their herald, the credit ratings agencies.
The ultimate outcome of all of this, we have argued, will be an economic disaster of impressive magnitude. That’s unfortunate, to put it mildly. What is fortunate, however, is that you don’t have to take our word for it and you don’t have to wait until the ultimate collapse to see how things could play out.
It’s an old cliché in politics and policy circles that “California’s present is America’s future.” Or, as California Governor Jerry Brown put it in his state of the state address roughly six weeks ago: “The rest of the country looks to California. Not for what is conventional, but for what is necessary-necessary to keep faith with our courageous forebears.”
He’s right about the rest of the country looking to California. But he’s dead wrong about what it sees when it looks. Governor Moonbeam may still see California as the epitome of the American dream, but reality shows it to be more of a nightmare.
Over the past couple of weeks, both the Washington Examiner and the Wall Street Journal have run essays detailing the demographic and political collapse of the once “Golden” state. And this collapse can, in many ways, be seen as a portent of America’s future under the Obama economic model. And that future is not particularly pretty. Last week, the Examiner’s Conn Carroll provided us the gory details:
More Americans now emigrate from California to other states than immigrate from other states to California. This exodus has cost California more than 1.5 million residents since 2000. And the reason is simple – the jobs are fleeing first.
In his state of the state speech, Brown claimed, “California lost 1.3 million jobs in the Great Recession, but we are coming back at a faster pace than the national average.” The first half of Brown’s statement is true, but the second half is not. California has only gained back 556,000 jobs since the recession ended, or 42 percent of those lost – well below the national average of 60 percent regained. As a result, California’s unemployment rate is still near double-digits at 9.8 percent. By comparison, Texas, which lost 427,000 jobs during the recession, has gained them all back and created an additional 265,000.
California is no longer a model that other states want to or should emulate. It currently has the nation’s third highest unemployment rate, its highest poverty rate and more than one-third of the nation’s welfare recipients.
Over the weekend, Carroll continued, explaining how this happened and what it has meant for the California and its remaining residents:
Even before the Great Recession, California already suffered from some of the highest levels of income inequality in the nation. And according to recent Public Policy Institute of California study, the recent downturn only exacerbated the problem. “Compared to the rest of the country, California experienced larger declines in income at the bottom of the distribution and smaller declines at the top – leading to the largest gap between upper and lower incomes in at least 30 years,” PPIC reported.
Worse, a 2012 California Budget Project study found that what little job recovery has occurred in the state has been confined to the low-skill sector. The employment rate for prime-working-age Californians with a bachelor’s degree or higher has been flat since the recovery began, whereas those with just a high school diploma and those without one have both seen job gains. To the extent that the California labor market is recovering, it is a McJobs recovery.
Of course, the Googles, Facebooks and Apples of California are all still swimming in profits and growth. If you do happen to have a job already among the highest fifth of California income earners, your weekly wages are up 1 percent since 2006. But every other income group has experienced sharp earnings losses.
Also over the weekend, WSJ’s Alyssia Finley noted that “contrary to conservative lore, there has been no millionaires’ march to Texas or other states with no income tax. In fact, since 2005 California has experienced a net in-migration of households earning more than $200,000, according to the U.S. Census’s American Community Survey.”
What this means, then, is that California is precisely what Obama envisions for the nation’s future: high income earners in creative and service enterprises; HUGE government; and a massive population living on the government dole, thereby requiring ever higher taxes on the creative class. Sounds great . . . except for that little, bitty fact about the entire middle class and all of its jobs completely disappearing. That’s . . . well . . . not so great.
But it is the American future.
The political Left in this country likes very much to complain about growing income inequality and the disappearance of the middle class. It likes even more to blame these developments on “conservatism” and specifically on the tax policies initiated by Ronald Reagan and expanded by George W. Bush. This is, to put it mildly, nuts. In reality, the social and economic policies of the Left have utterly destroyed the middle class, killing jobs in the name of environmental and regulatory “progress,” wrecking the institutions that once encouraged ambition and responsible behavior, and crushing the opportunities that once paved the path from poverty to sustenance to wealth.
The good news for Californians is that a federal Republic like ours makes it possible for them to continue to access this path to wealth. They simply have to pack up and leave California for greener pastures in places like Texas. And as both Carroll and Finley note, middle class and lower middle class Californians are doing just that.
The bad news for the rest of us is that if/when the Obama economic model comes to dominate our politics completely, there will be no place for us to go. The last, best hope for the world, these here United States, will be California without Texas, which is to say that our national problems will be even worse.
If you think that this is a grim picture of the future, you are correct. But then, if you’ve been reading our pieces over the last several weeks, you knew that would be the case. We don’t have high hopes for the nation as it is currently divided between ruling and country classes. California explains, in vivid detail, why this is the case.
We can only hope that watching California (and New York, and Illinois, and other bastions of “Progressive” economics) explode will help either to prepare the rest of us for what is eventually to come or – is it possible? – convince the ruling class to change, before it’s too late, before we are ALL Californians.