Preparing to Live In Post-Democratic America

I have offered a few tips here on A Little Tour in Yellow — mostly dealing with food and this one is more of the same – about how to live in a post-democratic America.  And I don’t mean to sound nihilistic,  but should Romney win and also get a Congress dominated by conservatives…well, think things are bad now?  We’re toast.

Among the biggest concerns that no one talks about is the courts.  We have it bad now with the Devil’s lazy henchmen currently serving in the Federal courts  — yes, I am talking about you Scalia, Thomas, et al — but a rookie like Romney might nominate a loon like Michele Bachmann to a federal court!  Or maybe Mary Pawlenty, wife of poor little Tim.  In fact you can count on Mary Pawlenty being appointed.  Bet the farm.

Yes, things look bad now, but they would be much, much worse.

Of course we would lose more than our rights and our government, we would lose the economic battle as well.  Conservatives, like liberals, might — and I mean might — know a little something about business — maybe we can give them that — but they don’t understand economics, especially macroeconomics, and business and economics are two different things.

The economic winners in places like China will demand more and more of the world’s resources and with us getting less and less it will become necessary to learn to live with less.  So I am preparing now.

Today I stopped at a grocery store and shopped as if I were in the post-democratic future.  First I limited my shopping to $10 and tried to get enough for a couple days.  My basked was half-filled with off-brand products of things like potato flakes, canned vegetables, and some macaroni and cheese.  There were some tempting “meat products”, but I was a long way from home and didn’t want the soy and wheat to sprout before I got to a freezer.

Tonight I enjoyed a mix of potato flakes and corn.  You know…it wasn’t bad.  I splurged with some butter, however, which might be cheating and not fully living the post-democratic American dream.  In any case, it is a good idea to start eating this way, because … well, you never know.  And don’t think it can’t happen.  Ask millions who already know.

And of course I sound like an ass.  I hope I do.  This isn’t supposed to be funny.  Many millions of people in the United States are grateful for even my paltry make-believe pantry.  For them it is not make believe.  Keep in mind that the poverty rate in the United States is going up, not down.  The yuppies of the past are being replaced by older Americans — and not so old for those who won’t even get a chance — who are learning to do more with less.

Is it government’s job to fix this?  You know, to some extent, the answer is yes.

We don’t have to keep punching holes in a sinking ship.  Government has policy tools it can use to stimulate economic growth.  The United States has the Federal Reserve, assigned to manage these things from a monetary angle.  Today they did what they need to do — they did the right thing — and pushed some money into the system.

Overall government can and should support programs and infrastructure that put a foundation beneath its citizens (i.e., workers) and business (i.e., job creators).  Government can also hire talented people to administer these programs, build the infrastructure, and maintain the business of government.  Public jobs should not be a disgrace.  In these key ways, government has a positive role serving the economic interests of the country.

In my (perhaps cynical) post-Democratic America (I should be more fair), do we expect further investment in the common good?  Come on!  Fat chance.  Even in this country’s relatively strong years (cf. the Clinton years) we cut and didn’t reinvest our good fortune.  In good times and in bad we have been dismantling our shared, public investments in our common assets.

The race to the bottom will end somewhere and I’m not sure why we should look forward to where that ends up to be.  If we continue to disinvest in our common assets, don’t expect the same standard of living that raised today’s conservatives.  No, the good schools, functioning infrastructure, sound regulation, and so forth required a public investment that people today seem unable and unwilling to understand.  And the private sector won’t pick up the slack.  These investments are called public goods for a reason.

So as our rights dwindle, our economy tanks, and our treasure flows increasingly overseas, I simply think it is a good idea to look at a bleak future with eyes wide open.  Practice, prepare, and practice some more.  Maybe less will feel like more and we can celebrate with a swig of victory gin.

Potato flakes and corn.  Or…how about this?…we could stop voting against our best interests!


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