A Helpful Nattering Nabob of Negativism

Over at NRO’s The Corner:

…when I hear people express extreme optimism about the Internet, I say, we’ve had it in mature form for about ten years. Macroeconomically speaking, those are about the worst 10 years we’ve had since about the 1930s. I don’t blame the Internet for that — that would be ridiculous. But nonetheless, it’s yet to really kick in as a major positive moving force at the economic level. It has just a small amount. The best is yet to come.

Look at electricity in human history — it took a few decades for electricity to really revolutionize the American economy. And the Internet will be the same. At some point in the future we will arrive at a new era of low-hanging fruit. We’re just not there yet, and the optimists tend to forget just how long those lags are…

We’re seeing society grow more rapidly along the happiness or utility dimension than we had expected, and seeing it grow more slowly across the jobs-and-revenue dimension than we had expected. And that’s a disconnect. It doesn’t have to be a fatal problem. The problem is when you don’t plan for that and don’t understand that that is happening.

A major issue is that we have a lot of debt commitments — some privately, but mostly in the public sector — that were premised on robust growth in revenue and jobs. But we’re taking a lot of our social dividend out in the form of happiness or utility — which, by the way, is harder to tax.

But that does mean that our fiscal crisis is going to come more quickly and be a lot worse than many people expect, even fiscal conservatives. They still think it’s only a matter of time before we revert to 1968 levels of growth for the typical families. And I don’t see us as being there.

We’re going to have slow growth and persistent, fairly high unemployment…

That quote is from a gentleman named Tyler Cowen – clearly a very intelligent and thoughtful man. He’s also very right about crisis coming very fast and very hard. I know that I got it wrong in my prediction – I figured the Big Crash for March of last year. I am absolutely astounded that Ben Bernanke and the rest of the banksters have managed to hold it off this long – and now I can’t say when the crash is going to hit; I can only say that it will hit, it will be quite destructive, and it can’t possibly hold off longer than three or four years, at the maximum outside. We’ve got a mountain of debt and fake money running around the world at a time of demographic decline – this circle cannot be squared with the set of rules we have right now.

But Cowen does miss something very important, and it is what he is calling a disconnect between happiness and jobs dimensions. The reason we’re seeing this is because we’re at the tail end of a socio-economic catastrophe which we instituted (as a civilization) round about two centuries ago. While it all started a few centuries earlier than that as the middle ages closed down and greedy/base princes and financiers started to loot the Church and the people of their property, it really only got rolling to destruction in the post-Napoleonic world.

To nutshell it – we ripped up the economic basis of the family upon which our civilization rested, crammed ever more people in to cities and started to develope an unsustainable ethic where personal happiness and pleasure trumped all other considerations. The finality of this is the unemployed 20-something wandering around the mall with his I-pad and whom Obama is now going to allow to stay on mommy’s health insurance. No work, no family responsibility, high tech gadgets and government subsidized/enforced benefits – and death at the end of it all.

We can reconnect the two halves – the jobs and happiness dimensions, but not under the current socio-economic regime. We cannot use more fake money, more debt and more skullduggery to put right what was wrecked by fake money, debt and skullduggery. Real money, no debt and honesty will fix what ails us. Of course, we might choose to continue on the road to suicide because, lets face it, its much more fun for someone to contemplate computer programming for a living rather than being a farmer, lumberjack or miner. In other words, we’re so hooked on being happy that we might just keep laughing until we die.

Personally, I don’t think it will come out like that. Looking around the nation I see a leaven – which may be a solid majority, but is at any event the largest segment of the population – of people who have, incredibly, held to the things which used to make our civilization work, and will make it work, again. Faith, family, hard work – those are the keys to a rational, just and humane society, and I believe there are enough people who hold to these things to repair all the damage which has been done. The liberal nightmare will end and our civilization will arise from the ashes.

So, remember; hard times are coming. No sense trying to pretend otherwise – no sense, that is, in being absurdly optimistic. But, also, no sense in being pessimistic. Think of it like this – a little while before he died, I advised my dad of my opinion that today’s Marines were better than the Marines of my dad’s day…he thought about it for a bit, and admitted that I was right. And its not like the WWII Marines were slouches, you know? Any nation which can produce the men and women of our armed forces has within it sufficient strength to revive. We can fix all this; it just won’t be an easy task.

But, then again, Americans have never been daunted by hard tasks…