We’re down to one debate in the US now. The ceaseless generational conveyor belt is slowly settling the social issues that have been occupying so much of our indignation bandwidth, and the two parties have nearly converged on foreign policy, with the GOP even toying with the idea of reverting to isolationism which in some ways is its natural state of mind..
But the last Big Argument is the size of the Federal Government. The GOP is scrounging all its last chips to place on this last-hope bet. Ever since the 1970’s, when the country at large came to the conclusion that yes, there was such a thing as government waste, and the GOP started actually winning elections on this issue, they have clutched the subject so closely that they have now nearly suffocated on it. The trouble stated almost immediately, when instead of advocating straight-ahead budget discipline, they decided they preferred the have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too approach of Supply Side tax-cuts-pay-for-themselves gibberish. This ‘idea’, which had a lot going for it at the ballot box, has been tripping up the party, but more importantly, the country, ever since. But its long-postponed demise has now left the GOP in a bind. They are now confronted with actually implementing the cuts that the country is no longer in a mood for.
Now we are left with the strange vapors of the end of this debate. And of course here comes David Stockman, back with some sort of purist vision of a pox-on-everyone. But he eventually needs to get to some bottom line or other. Which sin, for David, will be the Original Sin? Not too much imagination shown here. All the trouble started, according to Stockman, when we went off the Gold Standard. Yes, that again. Just look at the history of mayhem unleashed by that decision, he bewails. Why, nearly everything has gone wrong since then, including a generally booming economy and widely distributed prosperity. Every terrible thing that has happened since the Great Depression! The Great Depression, brought to you by the Gold Standard.