Another Permanent State of Emergency
Many people have expressed a hope that Barack Obama will be an improvement over George Bush and that he will roll back some of George Bush’s excesses. They see in Obama a man who understands nuanced argument, who at least acknowledges that those who oppose his policies can have good reasons and arguments for doing so. However, those who are so hopeful are doomed to have their hopes dashed. Barack Obama may give of good vibes, but a review of his policy papers show nothing more than a few crumbs of freedom thrown to the people. Make no mistake, under Barack Obama’s leadership, the federal government will seize more wealth, violate more liberties and wreck the economy more thoroughly than George Bush did. The Obama administration will permit, nay encourage, the looting of the treasury by their cronies to a degree that not even the Bush administration dared to. Reading his policy aims, I see that he offers us no quarter, no accommodation. He demands that the American people hand over more of the wealth they create, and threatens them with more pervasive monitoring and violence in order to ensure their compliance with his edicts. He wishes to rework society – to impose his vision of how society ‘ought’ to be organized – using the state security apparatus to impose his dreams.
In every policy proposal, one sees the same theme, the expansion of government, in size, in scope and power. Typical is his proposal as to how the government will begin respecting civil liberties: rather than ordering the justice department to respect civil liberties in the court system by voluntarily complying with historical precedents governing government power, rather than announcing his intention to rip out the listening rooms used by the NSA to eavesdrop on the communications of the citizenry, he announces his intention to create a ‘civil liberties board’, with subpoena powers. If the attorney general of the United States lacks the power to enforce respect for civil liberties, or even worse, is disinclined to respect them, how will the addition of this board alter the calculus? No, this board will provide sinecures to political allies and something to point to when questioned about his respect for civil liberties while allowing the Justice Department, the Defense Department and the Department of Homeland Security to continue the business as usual, that of exercising their powers lawlessly and without limit, in furtherance of the public and private aims of the officials staffing them.
Nowhere in his policies does he announce his intention to relinquish control of anything that the government currently controls. That which the Federal Government controls today, the government will continue to control under the new administration. Much of which is currently out of its control today they will seek to bring under its control.
According to the Obama administration, the current economic crisis warrants expanding government spending well beyond George Bush’s record-breaking levels. Only in passing does he acknowledge the need to raise money for this spending, which will have to be either through increased taxation, borrowing or via the printing of new money. The U.S. economy will not provide enough in taxes or in loans to pay for this spending. It is incapable of it. Thus, we will see the Federal Government borrowing from anyone who will loan it money, and when those sources of funding dry up, from the Federal Reserve, which pays for the bonds it purchases with newly printed money. The ‘inflation rate’, so called, already near 10% according to the calculation method in use in the 1970’s will rise to much higher levels. In the meantime the standard of living will stagnate, and in all likelihood decline. Nor is there any plan to end this spending once the economy exits the crisis. This, like the Global War on Terror, is yet one more open-ended emergency.
And when these policies fail to have their intended effects, as unemployment continues to soar and prices continue to rise, it is inevitable that the Obama administration will blame people who it sees as standing in the way of their policies. The Obama administration will be tempted to go after bankers, intellectual opponents, industrialists, and corporate offices in exactly the same manner as when FDR excorciated bankers and industrialists. And, like Wilson, FDR, Nixon, Clinton, and many others, the Obama administration will be tempted to use the state security apparatus against these enemies, citing the economic state of emergency to justify it. So now the U.S. will not only be under a permanent state of emergency against external enemies, it will be in a state of emergency. This time the enemy won’t be people living a continent away… It will be us.