Politics, et Cetera
A publication from The Political Forum, LLC
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
They Said It:
Bureaucracy is the means of carrying “community action” over into rationally ordered “societal action.” Therefore, as an instrument for “societalizing” relations of power, bureaucracy has been and is a power instrument of the first order for the one who controls the bureaucratic apparatus.
The individual bureaucrat cannot squirm out of the apparatus in which he is harnessed. . . The official is entrusted with specialized tasks and normally the mechanism cannot be put into motion or arrested by him, but only from the very top. The individual bureaucrat is thus forged to the community of all the functionaries who are integrated into the mechanism. They have a common interest in seeing that the mechanism continues its functions and that the societally exercised authority carries on. The ruled, for their part, cannot dispense with or replace the bureaucratic apparatus of authority once it exists. For this bureaucracy rests upon expert training, a functional specialization of work, and an attitude set for habitual and virtuoso-like mastery of single yet methodically integrated functions. If the official stops working, or if his work is forcefully interrupted, chaos results, and it is difficult to improvise replacements from among the governed who are fit to master such chaos . . . More and more the material fate of the masses depends upon the steady and correct function of the increasingly bureaucratic organizations of private capitalism. The idea of eliminating these organizations becomes more and more utopian.
Max Weber, Economy and Society, 1925.
LIES, DAMNED LIES, AND STATISTICS.
Over the weekend, we saw an interesting and, frankly, bizarre story on the web site of the Washington Times. Emily Miller, a senior editor for opinion at the Times, sat down with the Governor of Texas, Rick Perry, and talked to him about guns, among other things. Miller’s write-up of the interview began as follows:
Gov. Rick Perry sat back in shock when I told him President Obama told Mexicans that an upside of his efforts to infringe the Second Amendment would be to make them safer. The Texas Republican, a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association (NRA), pushed back his chair and thought before speaking.
“The idea that a United States president would go to Mexico and make that statement is incredulous,” the 2012 president candidate told me in an interview after his rousing speech at the NRA annual meeting in Houston Friday. “His goal — well before he became president of the United States — was to try to disarm the American public. He just disregards the Constitution.”
Think about this for just a minute. Here we have one of the most successful governor in the United States, a guy who presides over probably the most economically successful of the 50 states, and a former front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination. And he feels comfortable saying – openly, unabashedly, and directly to the media – that he believes that the current president, Barack Obama, is trying to “disarm the American people.”
In a normal world, in normal times, such comments would be deemed inflammatory, seditious even. At the very least, Perry would be repeatedly and roundly mocked for saying something that most people know is simply untrue – and paranoid to boot.
Of course, as we’ve noted countless times before in these pages, we live in neither a normal world nor normal times. Miller’s article was posted to the Times’ web site on Friday. And by Saturday . . . well . . . nothing. Crickets. No one cared. Or noticed. Or would have cared if they had noticed. One of the most prominent Republicans in the country declares that the President of the United States wants to trample on the Constitution and turn the otherwise freeborn men and women of the United States into feeble dependents of the state, and no one bats an eyelash.
Also last week, Farleigh Dickinson University released a public opinion poll that showed that a fascinatingly high percentage of Americans – nearly 3 in 10 – think that Thomas Jefferson may, indeed, have been correct when he wrote that “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” Fox News reported the findings of the poll thusly:
We knew distrust of government was high. But a new poll shows that suspicion reaching new levels.
According to a survey from Fairleigh Dickinson University, nearly a third of registered voters – 29 percent – believe an “armed revolution” might be necessary in the next few years in order to protect liberties.
The poll from the university’s PublicMind explored perceptions regarding Congress’ latest gun control push as well as the Sandy Hook mass shooting . . .
Asked whether an armed revolution might soon be necessary to protect liberties, 29 percent said yes. Another 47 percent said no, while the rest were either unsure or declined to answer.
Again, in a normal world, in normal times, this would be evidence of mass psychosis, at the very least. But not here. And not today. Today, it elicits a rather pronounced “meh.” Nearly half of Republican respondents, a quarter of independents, and almost a fifth of Democrats think that armed revolution – against probably the most benevolent government in the history of man – is likely. And while these results are a little surprising, they’re hardly shocking. Indeed, under the circumstances, this expectation on the part of the citizens doesn’t really even seem unreasonable.
But what, exactly, are those “circumstances?” How, pray tell, did this happen? How did we get to the point in this country where a possible future presidential candidate is okay telling the press, in all seriousness, that he thinks the current president is intentionally subverting the Constitution, and where nearly a third of the country has expectations of armed violence against their government, the government of the UNITED STATES of AMERICA, mind you? What went wrong?
The answers to these questions are, of course, quite complicated and would take far more than one essay in one newsletter to address properly. That said, we think that an approximate answer can be nicely synopsized by taking a look at yet another story from last week, one of the most important stories we have seen in a long time.
On the off chance that you missed it, last Wednesday, Amy Finklestein, the Ford Professor of Economics at MIT, and Katherine Baicker of Harvard University’s School of Public Health, published the results of a two-year study on Medicaid expansion in Oregon. The study, the results of which were published in The New England Journal of Medicine, demonstrates in fairly conclusive terms that the effect of expanded access to health insurance results in precious little positive benefit, at least in terms of health outcomes. Or to put it more bluntly, health insurance does not necessarily translate into better health. It translates merely into greater health care spending and higher health care costs. National Review’s Daniel Foster summarized the findings as follows:
The Oregon study compared health outcomes along several measurable indicators — including blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol level — between people enrolled in Medicaid and the uninsured. What’s nice about this study is that the experimental and control groups are randomized, or close to it, because the state held a lottery to enroll a proportion of those newly eligible for Medicaid. There is some potential for bias in the fact that only some of those who “won” the lottery actually enrolled, but this should tilt in favor of Medicaid proponents, because people who are likelier to enroll are also those likelier to need treatment.
So what difference did the study show in health outcomes between Medicaid patients and the uninsured? Almost none at all. Specifically, they found no statistically significant reductions in hypertension, high blood sugar, high cholesterol, or broad markers of cardiovascular health. And this was despite the likelihood that the Medicaid enrollees were sicker to start with and the fact that, as Avik Roy points out, Oregon’s Medicaid program pays doctors better than most states do, thus increasing access to care (21 percent of Oregon doctors won’t take new Medicaid patients, compared with 31 percent nationwide) . . .
So does the study show any benefit to Medicaid? Sure, it shows an increase in health-care spending and treatment consumption, an improvement in subjective reports of mental well-being, and “reduced financial strain.” In other words, the only statistically significant results of the study show that 1) subsidizing something causes people to spend less of their own money on it, and to use more of it, and 2) that this makes them marginally happier.
The beauty of this study, as Foster notes, is that it was performed in a serious and rigorous manner, in keeping with customary medical-study standards. If anything, Foster understates the nature of the study. The MIT News is far more descriptive and, by extension, lends the study’s findings considerably greater credence. “The study,” the News reports, was “a randomized evaluation comparing health outcomes among more than 12,000 people in Oregon, [which] employs the same research approach as a clinical trial, but applies it in a way that provides a window into the health outcomes of poor Americans who have been given the opportunity to get health insurance.”
Now, we will concede up front that we are skeptics of social science, no matter how fancy the study or how complicated the model. Indeed, the fancier and more complicated it gets, the less we tend to like it, largely because “fancy” and “complicated” tend to confuse social scientists and convince them that they are conducting actual science rather than mere pseudo-science. And they are not.
Social science is what it is, which is to say intricate, complex, enlightening, often useful. And nothing at all like the hard sciences.
That caveat noted, this Medicaid study is incredibly valuable, for any number of reasons. For starters, it tends to confirm the results of one of the few other such studies on the benefits on health insurance. In the 1970s, the RAND Corporation conducted its own study of insurance, and the results were, in many ways, very similar to the Oregon study. The New York Times’s Ross Douthat explains:
In one of the most famous studies of health insurance, conducted across the 1970s, thousands of participants were divided into five groups, with each receiving a different amount of insurance coverage. The study, run by the RAND Corporation, tracked the medical care each group sought out, and not surprisingly found that people with more comprehensive coverage tended to make use of it, visiting the doctor and checking into the hospital more often than people with less generous insurance.
But the study also tracked the health outcomes of each group, and there the results were more surprising: With a few modest exceptions, the level of insurance had no significant effect on the participants’ actual wellness.
A second thing that the Oregon study does is that it undermines the progressive case both for universal health care coverage and, more to the point, for health care reform more broadly, which in this case means Obama Care (or the Affordable Care Act, to be more precise.) The progressive case, of course, is based on the notion that the provision of health insurance is an absolute and objective good. Health insurance equals health care, which, in turn, equals life. Government procurement of health insurance for each and every individual is not only good policy, it is a moral obligation of the state as well.
Recall that during the health care debate the backers of Obamacare, including the Barack Obama himself, repeatedly couched their arguments in moral terms. In August, 2009, for example, Obama took the podium to “set the record straight” on the question of his health care proposal and the political opposition to it. In part, he said:
I know there’s been a lot of misinformation in this debate, and there are some folks out there who are frankly bearing false witness . . .
These are all fabrications that have been put out there in order to discourage people from meeting what I consider to be a core ethical and moral obligation. That is that we look out for one other, that I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sister’s keeper. And in the wealthiest nation on earth right now, we are neglecting to live up to that call.
None of this is true. It wasn’t true when Obama and his acolytes insisted so back in 2009. And it isn’t true now. It has NEVER been true. That didn’t stop any of the Lefties from insisting otherwise, of course, charging their opponents with moral depravity, cruelty, and, worst of all, a resistance to the “reality” that health insurance saves lives. Ezra Klein, a Washington Post blogger and an Obamacare supporter put it this way, back in those heady of 2009:
In reality, people don’t like to talk about health-care reform in terms of lives because it seems, on some level, unfair. It sounds almost like an accusation of murder. That’s common rhetoric when talking about wars but not social policy. But it isn’t an accusation of murder. It’s a statement of benefits.
As it turns out, that “statement of benefits” is a complete fabrication. And that’s the point here.
Mark our words carefully. The Oregon study does not “prove” that health insurance is not valuable. It does not prove that Medicaid is worthless. And it does not prove that Obamacare will be a fantastically costly waste of money. What it does do, though, is show that the arguments mustered in support of Obamacare – and health care reform more generally – have no basis whatsoever in fact. They are made up, concocted out of whole cloth, based on nothing more than the prejudices of those who support greater government influence over and interference in the lives of the people. Indeed – and here’s the kicker – the best evidence available suggests precisely the opposite of the arguments that gave us Obamacare. That evidence may not be conclusive, but it is nevertheless damning.
Let us shift gears here for a minute, moving away from insurance, but sticking with “health” policy, at least nominally. As you likely know, the diminutive dictator of New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, has spent nearly the entirety of his third term ignoring such real public health issues as bedbugs, drug-resistant gonorrhea, trash collection, and the like, while focusing instead on make-believe menaces like sodee pop, salt, and margarine. Bloomberg and his public health bureaucracy have insisted that they are doing what is best for New York, for New Yorkers, and thus for the country as well. But are they really?
Last summer, when the tiny totalitarian proposed his ban on sodas larger than 16 ounces, he insisted that he was fighting obesity and would win the battle by focusing on the source, sugary drinks. The evidence, however, tended to show from the very get go that this was all nonsense. In July, Julie Gunlick discussed the matter at National Review Online, citing far more data than Bloomberg ever did. To wit:
According to Gallup’s Consumption Habits poll released this week, 48 percent of Americans drink at least one glass of soda per day, with the remaining 52 percent saying they do not drink soda at all on the average day. Among the 48 percent of those who do drink soda, only 20 percent (that comes to 9.6 percent of all Americans) said they drank two or more glasses of soda per day.
Yet Gallup also found that those who frequently drank soda were no heavier than those who avoided soda altogether — a direct strike against Bloomberg’s many claims that soda consumption drives obesity:
There is essentially no difference in the self-reported weight situation of Americans who drink two or more glasses of soda compared with those who drink none: About four in 10 of each group says they are either very or somewhat overweight. Those who drink one soda per day are slightly more likely to classify themselves as overweight. This might be explained by heavier soda drinkers consuming more diet soda than those who drink only one soda per day; however, the current survey question did not specify the type of soda consumed.
And lest you think it was just conservative rags knocking the microscopic magnate, some weeks before, over at Newsweek/The Daily Beast, Trevor Butterworth wrote the following:
[Rules] like this mock the idea of law and democratic accountability. You’re going to police this how? Shut down restaurants that don’t comply? I guess so! But then why not insist on maximum calorie limits on everything else restaurants serve, like cheese and steak and dessert? When you single out one product but exempt others of a similar kind, you send the message that those who legislate do so unfairly.
Many commentators have already weighed in on the second problem, which is that the ban is unlikely to have any impact on obesity – and even if it does, it will be too small to be measurable or, rather, won’t be measured at all. The evidence that soda has been the lead driver of the obesity epidemic is larded with assertion rather than hard data; the randomized control trials that have managed to almost eliminate sugary drink consumption showed no statistically significant weight loss over time, except for those who were obese and high soda consumers to begin with; sugary soda consumption has been declining.
All this is true and, moreover, it is supported by non-soda-industry-funded research. But more to the point, policies targeting specific foods are all the product of what might be thought of as the great “noble lie” of public health when it comes to obesity: we’re all eating too much; we’re all getting fat; we’re all going to be obese if Saint Bloomberg and his angelic host of public-health experts and apparatchiks don’t save us from our gluttonous ways.
But guess what? We’re not all eating and drinking too much and getting fat and becoming obese. Obesity is simply not an aggregate problem that we’re all suffering from; and that means that micromanaging the food environment is going to do little, if anything, to solve the problem for those who actually have a problem.
Take a fairly recent and staggering study, which asked the following obvious question: how much soda do teenagers consume? To do this, the researchers analyzed dietary data from the annual National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey for the periods 1988 to 1994 and 1999 to 2004, which covered thousands of kids. The results showed that the majority of kids were low to moderate consumers of sugared drinks, but that the top 20 percent of adolescent males were super-consumers, chugging up to 193.6 ounces a day, the equivalent of 16 cans of soda (the mean for this top quintile was a more comprehensible 57 ounces).
All of this and more can also be said about Bloomberg’s attack on high-sodium products, a crusade in which the teensy tyrant has had a high-profile ally, First Lady Michelle Obama. Both have argued that salt needs to be reduced in the average Americans’ diet, and both have tried to bring the power of government to bear in achieving that end.
Unfortunately, for these two sodium-crusaders, the evidence suggests that they are not merely wrong, but perhaps dangerously so. Writing in the nation’s newspaper of record, the New York Times itself, the science writer Gary Taubes explained why:
When I spent the better part of a year researching the state of the salt science back in 1998 — already a quarter century into the eat-less-salt recommendations — journal editors and public health administrators were still remarkably candid in their assessment of how flimsy the evidence was implicating salt as the cause of hypertension.
“You can say without any shadow of a doubt,” as I was told then by Drummond Rennie, an editor for The Journal of the American Medical Association, that the authorities pushing the eat-less-salt message had “made a commitment to salt education that goes way beyond the scientific facts.”
While, back then, the evidence merely failed to demonstrate that salt was harmful, the evidence from studies published over the past two years actually suggests that restricting how much salt we eat can increase our likelihood of dying prematurely. Put simply, the possibility has been raised that if we were to eat as little salt as the U.S.D.A. and the C.D.C. recommend, we’d be harming rather than helping ourselves . . .
The idea that eating less salt can worsen health outcomes may sound bizarre, but it also has biological plausibility and is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, too. A 1972 paper in The New England Journal of Medicine reported that the less salt people ate, the higher their levels of a substance secreted by the kidneys, called renin, which set off a physiological cascade of events that seemed to end with an increased risk of heart disease. In this scenario: eat less salt, secrete more renin, get heart disease, die prematurely.
With nearly everyone focused on the supposed benefits of salt restriction, little research was done to look at the potential dangers. But four years ago, Italian researchers began publishing the results from a series of clinical trials, all of which reported that, among patients with heart failure, reducing salt consumption increased the risk of death.
Those trials have been followed by a slew of studies suggesting that reducing sodium to anything like what government policy refers to as a “safe upper limit” is likely to do more harm than good. These covered some 100,000 people in more than 30 countries and showed that salt consumption is remarkably stable among populations over time. In the United States, for instance, it has remained constant for the last 50 years, despite 40 years of the eat-less-salt message. The average salt intake in these populations — what could be called the normal salt intake — was one and a half teaspoons a day, almost 50 percent above what federal agencies consider a safe upper limit for healthy Americans under 50, and more than double what the policy advises for those who aren’t so young or healthy. This consistency, between populations and over time, suggests that how much salt we eat is determined by physiological demands, not diet choices.
Again, we should proceed here cautiously here: As with the Oregon Medicaid study cited above, none of this “proves” that salt intake should be increased rather than decreased or that higher salt diets should be given a public health green-light. What it does prove, though, is that the public health scolds are wrong about the “evidence” and the conclusion that can be drawn from it. Worse yet, they are they’re flat-out lying about this evidence.
The scientific case that salt-restrictive diets are healthier is dubious at best. Moreover, this case tends to be contradicted by far more and far more substantive recent studies. To pretend otherwise is to deny science altogether – something the Left likes to accuse the Right of doing, even as it is a far more egregious offender.
Want more? Okay.
Consider the question of guns and the absolute moral necessity of doing something – anything! – about gun violence. One of the most popular and controversial proposals forwarded by advocates of gun-control is the ban on so-called “assault weapons.” In response to the vicious massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, gun-controllers, including Barack Obama and Senator Diane Feinstein (D, CA), proposed reinstating the 1994 assault weapons ban. Now, they did so, in spite of the fact that Connecticut has in place its own assault-weapons ban, one based on the 1994 federal ban. Yet the Connecticut law did not ban the weapon used by murderer Adam Lanza. That’s right, Lanza used a LEGAL weapon. And that, therefore, made it imperative to make other, different weapons illegal. Or . . . well . . . something.
More to the point, we suppose, there was never any solid evidence that banning assault weapons did much at all to deter violent crime. The seminal study on the federal assault weapons ban, for example, reported that the results of the 1994 federal law were “mixed.” As Christopher Koper, the study’s leader put it back in 2004:
Although the ban has been successful in reducing crimes with AWs [Assault Weapons], any benefits from this reduction are likely to have been outweighed by steady or rising use of non-banned semiautomatics with LCMs [large-capacity magazines], which are used in crime much more frequently than AWs. Therefore, we cannot clearly credit the ban with any of the nation’s recent drop in gun violence.
Again, there is nothing conclusive in any of this “evidence.” And again, that’s the point. The government wants to do something in response to Newtown. But what it wants to do would be irrelevant at best. Certainly, it would not have prevented the massacre at Sandy Hook. And its impact on violent crime more generally would also have been questionable.
Additionally, there is the matter of “background checks.” Barack Obama and his supporters continue to run around the country touting the need for increased background checks based on the claim that 40% of the guns sold in this country are sold under the “gun show loophole” and are therefore sold without the requisite federal background checks. We might call this “nonsense on stilts,” but we won’t. And we won’t because it is worse, far worse. It is a bald-faced lie. And no less than the Washington Post’s “Fact Checker” gives Obama “3 Pinocchios” for his continued use of this lie. To wit:
There are two key problems with the president’s use of this statistic: The numbers are about two decades old, yet he acts as if they are fresh, and he refers to “purchases” or “sales” when in fact the original report concerned “gun acquisitions” and “transactions.” Those are much broader categories of data.
As we noted before, the White House said the figure comes from a 1997 Institute of Justice report, written by Philip Cook of Duke University and Jens Ludwig of the University of Chicago. This study was based on data collected from a survey in 1994, the same year that the Brady Act requirements for background checks came into effect. In fact, the questions concerned purchases dating as far back as 1991, and the Brady Act went into effect in early 1994 — meaning that some, if not many, of the guns were bought in a pre-Brady environment.
Digging deeper, we found that the survey sample was just 251 people . . .
Cook and Ludwig, in a lengthier 1996 study of the data for the Police Foundation, acknowledged the ambiguity in the answers but gave their best estimate as a range of 30 to 40 percent for transactions in the “off-the-books” secondary market. (The shorter 1997 study cited by the White House does not give a range but instead says “approximately 60 percent of gun acquisitions” involved a licensed dealer.)
Meanwhile, note the phrasing in the original report — “acquisitions” and “transactions,” which included trades, gifts and the like. But Obama spoke of “gun purchases,” and his tweet referred to “gun sales.”
Why is it important to make a distinction between purchases and transactions? For one thing, the Senate bill that would expand background checks — supported by the White House — specifically makes an exception for “a bona fide gift between immediate family members, including spouses, parents, children, siblings” as well as “the death of another person for whom the unlicensed transferor is an executor or administrator of an estate or a trustee of a trust created in a will.” As noted above, such transactions can change the results.
The Police Foundation report did not break out gun purchases, so in January we asked Ludwig to rerun the data, just looking at guns purchased in the secondary market. The result, depending on the definition, was 14 percent to 22 percent.
Lies, piled upon lies, piled upon dishonest manipulation of dubious statistics. And that’s it. There’s nothing more. The President and his supporters want to change the law and to make something that is already illegal even more illegal-er (we think?). And they want to do so with no evidence whatsoever that this change would affect anything and despite the fact that the new laws, had they been in effect, would have done nothing whatsoever to prevent Adam Lanza from stealing his mother’s legally purchased guns and slaughtering two-dozen children.
We could go on, we suppose. And in future issues of this newsletter, there is no doubt that we will go on, particularly on the issue of immigration.
For our purposes today, though, we think we have made our point. And that point, quite clearly, is that on the most serious, most controversial, and most repressive issues of the day, the political class cannot help itself. It lies, fudges statistics, manipulates data, and otherwise deceives and bullies the country class into accepting liberty-restricting and economy-killing legislation and regulation, none of which have any basis whatsoever in reason or rational governance.
You wanna know why Rick Perry thinks that the President of the United States is trying to kill the Constitution and disarm the public? You wanna know why nearly one-third of Americans despise their federal government enough to expect armed revolution against said government? Well . . . there you have it.
It is important to remember, we think, that the very foundation of what we know today as “big government,” and what might be more accurately called “the administrative state,” is the utilization of reason and rationality in the “science” of governance. The father of American Public Administration – and a Progressive hero – Woodrow Wilson, wrote in 1887 that “it is the object of administrative study to discover, first, what government can properly and successfully do, and, secondly, how it can do these proper things with the utmost possible efficiency and at the least possible cost either of money or of energy.”
Other early advocates of the administrative state were even more specific and more assertive in their advocacy of the “scientific administration” of government, as were second-generation public administration theorists. Luther Gulick, for example, one of the chief advocates of Roosevelt’s adoption of Keynesian economics, was also one of the chief advocates of the “scientific administration” of government. Among other things, Gulick is credited with reducing the duties of the executive and his administrative apparatus to an acronym, the notorious PODSCORB, which stands for Planning, Organizing, Directing, Staffing, Coordinating, Reporting and Budgeting.
Again, we could go on. (And on . . . and on . . . and on . . . ) It should, though, suffice to say that big government is, in theory, supposed to be rational, and scientifically administered. Weber’s characteristics of the “ideal type” of bureaucracy describe a supremely “rational” organization.
But today’s big government, of course, is anything but rational. It is irrational, in fact, basing its policies and decisions not on the best available evidence or the most reasonable and rational choices, but rather on the personal prejudices and the emotional responses of the political class – including the administrative class.
Over the weekend, President Obama, as is his wont, defamed the American people, specifically those who are skeptical of him and those like him who want to micromanage their lives. Speaking at graduation ceremonies at Ohio State, Obama lectured graduates thusly:
Still, you’ll hear voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that’s the root of all our problems, even as they do their best to gum up the works; or that tyranny always lurks just around the corner. You should reject these voices. Because what they suggest is that our brave, creative, unique experiment in self-rule is just a sham with which we can’t be trusted . . .
The cynics may be the loudest voices—but they accomplish the least. It’s the silent disruptors—those who do the long, hard, committed work of change—that gradually push this country in the right direction, and make the most lasting difference.
This is as tiresome as it is trite. There are indeed “voices” warning that government is a “sinister and separate entity” bent on “tyranny.” But these voices issue such warnings not from cynicism, but from the sincere belief that the people who run the government – the political class – do indeed behave at times like a sinister entity, and because the political class is, in fact, a “separate” faction, one that seeks to impose its will on the people by means of deception and duplicity. Obama is right in that there is a serious problem in this country. But that problem has little or nothing to do with the people who fear government and everything to do with the people who ARE the government.
Obviously, we can’t say how this problem will be resolved. But we can speculate a bit. And as much as this may disappoint some of those 29%-ers, we don’t think that armed revolution is inevitable. A revolution of sorts may be inevitable, but not an armed conflict.
As we see it, this struggle between the political class and the country class will play out over a period of several years, as the country class slowly but surely (and figuratively) purges the current political class, replacing it with another – which itself will be replaced, slowly but surely, once it too has been corrupted. To this end, the Tea Party movement continues to be the most extraordinary and most fascinating development in American politics in a long time.
You may not have noticed, but over the weekend, the UK Independence Party won an astonishing share of the vote in British local elections. The UKIP is an anti-establishment and Euroskeptic populist party that serves much the same role in Britain as the Tea Party serves in the United States: It stands in opposition to the established order and the professional political class. And its ranks are surging, as Sky News reported:
The UK Independence Party has made huge electoral gains and declared itself the “official opposition” – largely at the expense of the Tories – as Prime Minister David Cameron vowed to win back Conservative voters who had defected.
With UKIP averaging 26% of the vote in county council polls, leader Nigel Farage said he was “astonished” by the party’s breakthrough, and put it down to what he described as the “total disconnect” between the “career politics” of Westminster and ordinary people on the streets.
“UKIP is actually speaking the language of millions of ordinary voters,” he told Sky News’ Boulton & Co programme.
In our estimation, such anti-establishment movements will become far more pronounced and far stronger in virtually all of the West over the next several years. In the United States, Britain, and a handful of other places, these movements will all but certainly remain peaceful and confined to the political process. That’s the Anglo-American way.
The same, unfortunately, cannot be said of all of the nations of the West. And some – perhaps many – of these may yet get their armed revolutions, with some very ugly consequences.
In the meantime, though, expect the opposition to the political class here at home to grow louder and more aggressive over the next several election cycles. The political class has betrayed its principles, its constituencies, and, oddly enough, the foundation upon which it was built. And there will be consequences.