Rick Perry / Tim Pawlenty

So long, Pawlenty.  We hardly got to time to absorb your hockey-playin’, beer-drinkin’, regular-guyness.  He was proud of his government shut down, I remember that.  Optically, he cowered before Romney and got knifed by Bachmann.  He got out at the right time and something tells me he’ll do OK.

So, moving on, we’re down to Bachmann v. Perry v. Romney.  Not a bad field, at least in representing various ideas of the GOP.  As for their personalities, the first two believe crazy things and the third believes nothing.

Since he’s new, let’s get to know Rick Perry.   Here’s Perry’s 10-point plan, will succesuflly build a bridge to the 18C, and which if enacted will allow him a ceremonial 8 years of ribbon cuttings, state dinners, and picking out drone strikes.  He shoots coyotes while jogging.  He executed an innocent man after being informed of his innocence.  He recently prayed for rain.

I question why the Rs get all the crazy ones.  What is even vaguely comparable in any D candidate to the wild accusations, crackpot theories, unexamined orthodoxies and straight-up denialism that marks an R candidate c. 2011?

Let’s consider.

Our fictional candidate would be an actual (not merely alleged) Marx-quoting Communist.  She would  run on a platform of “expropriate the expropriators”.   She would be an outright atheist.   At the end of her speeches in lieu of “God Bless America”, she’d say: “There is no God, America is on her own, which is why I’m here to help, with my copy of Das Kapital and Mao’s Little Red Book.”  She would openly and loudly accuse every rival of being crooked, self-dealing, and money-grubbing, and having risen to his position on the backs of the oppressed.  (This would be the antithesis of “hating America”.)  She would outlaw the car, because evidence for global warming is impossible to deny, and we might as well get started now rather than later.  She’d state that “you cannot prepare for war and peace at the same time”, disband the military and sell off all the weapons.

Of course, the proposed craziness of the Rs does not mean they’ll govern crazy, the implicit deal with their supporters is that they won’t be able to do anything too nuts, but they will gut regulations and keep taxes low.  This is probably correct, as it is quite hard to do even sane things via the US government’s form.  Thus they manage to get to have fun with wild ideas and still win 50% of the time, which seems unfair.

Wait, you say: the current President is a Marxist!  So, ha!

I submit that even if he was, he’d have a rational leg up on his opponents.  Marxism developed at a time when continental Europe was emerging from the “pray for rain” form of government (divine kings) and seeking a rational footing for its state organization.  If Obama was a Marxist, you could then rebut his argument!  But what can you say to someone deriving all authority from an infallible mix of the bible and the late-18C?  “You saying Saint Paul is wrong, buddy?”

Anyway, on the topic of Marx, here’s Nouriel Roubini himself, prophet of economic doom, wondering if capitalism is dead.

..Karl Marx, it seems, was partly right in arguing that globalization, financial intermediation run amok, and redistribution of income and wealth from labor to capital could lead capitalism to self-destruct (though his view that socialism would be better has proven wrong). …

Well, kinda.  A key tenet of Marxist thinking is that the bourgeoisie would make itself a state (check), but sooner or later the states would run short of new markets to exploit (globalization would build bourgeoisies in other states, and they too would be keen to exploit something) and natural resources would limit growth (oil price?).  The states would turn on each other, leading to wars, crises of legitimacy and paving the way for the revolution from below.

Do we see this today?  The exploitation of the industrial worker, which seemed the problem in 1850 that would lead to revolt, is being rapidly replaced by the subsidence of the middle class into a bizzaro working (servant) class – one without work security, or sometimes any work – in thrall to a global transnational elite and massive piles of freely moving capital.  If the bourgeois state is committed to remain a democracy, trouble is looming.  A lot of this “squeezed middle” reporting we see, and the revolts for example in the Middle East (including Israel, a democracy) imply anxieties about the death of mobility and the perception that the state now works for only a small slice of the population.  And, um, lest we forget, the most populous nation on Earth is avowedly Marxist.

So, what does Roubini think about capitalism being doomed?

To enable market-oriented economies to operate as they should and can, we need to return to the right balance between markets and provision of public goods. That means moving away from both the Anglo-Saxon model of laissez-faire and voodoo economics and the continental European model of deficit-driven welfare states. Both are broken.

The right balance today requires creating jobs partly through additional fiscal stimulus aimed at productive infrastructure investment. It also requires more progressive taxation; more short-term fiscal stimulus with medium- and long-term fiscal discipline; lender-of-last-resort support by monetary authorities to prevent ruinous runs on banks; reduction of the debt burden for insolvent households and other distressed economic agents; and stricter supervision and regulation of a financial system run amok; breaking up too-big-to-fail banks and oligopolistic trusts. …

Sigh.  One of the running themes of this blog is my amazement at commentators, who can write anything they want without consequences, and yet every…single…time they go for the anodyne.  “Is capitalism doomed?”  Not if we adopt my exciting (non-specific) 5 point plan for bank regulation!  C’mon, man!

I’m probably just bitter.  My side won’t get its Rick Perry. Dogmatic self-assurance isn’t our game.  And no one ever prayed for “additional fiscal stimulus aimed at long term infrastructure”.


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