Thursday, December 09, 2004

The Bush Administration – An Unsustainable Path

One thing I have learned from dealing with ideologues in general and the religious right in particular is that no amount of empirical data will dissuade these people from making a bad decision. That the Bush administration is driving the ship of state into an economic iceberg at flank speed should be obvious to anyone with solid grasp of 3rd grade arithmetic. That sustaining massive federal and balance of trade debts is ignored by partisan Republicans and religious fanatics does not bode well for the state of early elementary math skills in certain regions of our great nation.

So, knowing full well that a report from the good people at the Brookings Institute will not dissuade true believers any more than an article in the Economist or basic arithmetic, I will cast caution to the wind and present the Brookings article anyway. Here it is: The US Budget Deficit: On an Unsustainable Path

I also note that conservatives (both political and religious) have cast Brookings as a “Liberal” (their favorite pejorative) think tank. So be it. I would note however that unlike the Heritage Foundation and the CATO institute, which state that they are simply policy advocacy groups (i.e. paid to promote conservative propaganda), Brookings actually publishes much of its work in peer reviewed academic forums where their data can be verified and their theories vetted.

Bush, Economic Policy and the March of Folly

“Scorn and defiance; slight regard, contempt,
And any thing that may not misbecome”

Shakespeare, “Henry V”

- Complete fiscal irresponsibility leading to the largest budget deficits in US history.
- An insistence on “Making the tax cuts permanent.”
- An annual balance of trade deficit larger than the economies of half a dozen nations combined.
- A push to borrow $2 trillion to finance a bizarre scheme to restructure Social Security, a system our president seems bound and determined to fix even though it is not broken.

It would be difficult to imagine what more the Bush administration could do to put the entire US economy at risk. If it wasn’t for George’s incessant flag waving and professed faith in Jesus (acts which garner the unquestioning support of religious conservatives) I would think that W. had only one goal, the complete destruction of the US economy.

The issue at hand is not one of complex economics, it is a matter of simple arithmetic. The Republican Party under Ronald Reagan, George Bush #1, and George Bush #2 has demonstrated a level of fiscal incompetence that defies explanation and placed our entire way of life at risk. It is from these three administrations that the United States government derives the vast majority of the current national debt. More disturbingly, these presidents owe much to the religious right who will vote compliantly and lend their support without question as long as their chosen leaders pacify them with promises end abortion and punish gays. That these promises are never delivered on and that these administrations have promoted the worst forms of crony capitalism, pursued foreign policies devoid of any attempt at negotiated solutions and engaged in inexplicable military adventurism not only goes unnoticed by the religious right but seems to motivate ever greater levels of support. When nations engage in behaviors that are clearly contrary to their own best interest they begin what historian Barbara Tuchman called “the March of Folly.”

As for the Bush’s escalating Economic mess I give you this must read item from Britain’s conservative news magazine, the Economist:

America has habits that are inappropriate, to say the least, for the guardian of the world's main reserve currency: rampant government borrowing, furious consumer spending and a current-account deficit big enough to have bankrupted any other country some time ago. This makes a dollar devaluation inevitable, not least because it becomes a seemingly attractive option for the leaders of a heavily indebted America. Policymakers now seem to be talking the dollar down. Yet this is a dangerous game. Why would anybody want to invest in a currency that will almost certainly depreciate?

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Blue State Christians Pursue a Personal Moral Code

Mainline Protestants are increasingly turning to small groups for moral guidance on personal ethical matters. From my own experience I can say that the small group process is a much healthier approach to developing a mature approach to personal ethics than simply soaking in another dry sermon on Sunday. From the Christian Science Monitor:

Often, this thirst for a personal code of conduct is being satisfied among lay members themselves, who gather in small groups in homes, cafes, and church basements to talk over daily moral challenges.

What's new is that it's appearing in "blue state," liberal-leaning churches, which appear to be taking a page from the playbook of conservative megachurches that have long used small groups to reinforce Christian morality - and to help members feel connected and satisfied.

Monday, December 06, 2004

The Values Myth

It has become a basic assumption of the 2004 Presidential elections that the “values” issues of gay marriage and abortion rights tipped the election. While these issues may have motivated religious conservatives to up their turnout the idea that religious conservative views on abortion and homosexuality were foremost in the minds of voters in the United States may be a little off the mark. Note this story in the November 10 Washington Post:

Battling the notion that "values voters" swept President Bush to victory because of opposition to gay marriage and abortion, three liberal groups released a post-election poll in which 33 percent of voters said the nation's most urgent moral problem was "greed and materialism" and 31 percent said it was "poverty and economic justice." Sixteen percent cited abortion, and 12 percent named same-sex marriage.