Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Smackdown harangue

Dear BB. These are my tentative conclusions after reading your note in GG today. –

As a student of Western economic history I am alarmed by the shallow and ill-informed remarks you occasionally seem compelled to utter, perhaps as part of your delusion that you are really Friedrich Nietzsche.

Nietzsche could get away with writing a lot of bullshit because news traveled slow in those days. By only hours after you blurted out your economic clunkers -- obviously inspired more by a spell of dyspepsia and Povean grandiloquence than by any careful observation of economic reality, they were remotely detected by my sensitive nerve endings and were promptly collared and dragged into operational HQ  for a thorough and critical inspection by yours truly.

The fantastic and utterly unfounded economic claims you make -- without a shred of evidence -- are two in number and foul in nature. They seem calculated to reinforce cantankerous behavior among flabby-minded congenitally retarded T party fans. Be that  as it may, I will now proceed to demolish your quaint fictional and lugubriously mendacious claims regarding contemporary history.

Next time you feel a strong urge to make a big splash by blurting out some phony statement or other about the economy, I suggest that you instead shoot yourself in a soft place – like your head, for example.

Your two preposterous claims:

1. “The Western welfare state is built out of enormous, unthinkable quantities of debt. It is the greatest Ponzi scheme in history, and its demise is mathematically inevitable.

Just to give the reader an glimpse of the profoundly fraudulent nature of these claims, I must at once point out that during the classic welfare state period, “les trente glorieuses” as the Frogs call it, the 30 glorious years of Western welfare-state  consumerism that took off with the  economic recovery from World War II in the late 1940, only to founder in the quagmire of stagflation in the late 1970s. Those three decades can by no means be characterized as debt-ridden. Debt became a dirty word in the early 1980s, when Ronald Reagan put the kibosh on the welfare state, slashed income taxes on the rich and thus providentially created a monster shortfall in the US government budget. This bulging government debt drove interest rates through the ceiling, leading to much hardship in Latin America – because the sneaky Wall Street  crowd had unloaded its petrodollars onto the unwary Latins, who signed on for huge debt burdens, little suspecting that the spike in interest unleashed by Reagan-s madcap schemes would squash their economies.  DURING THE WELFARE STATE PERIOD DEBT WAS NOT A PROBLEM. Debt became a big problem immediately after the political  right took power in the US  UK and lowered taxes, accordingly using the huge debt it had itself deliberately created out of thin air to torpedo the welfare state it so detested. The welfare state was not built on debt, it was built on taxes, contributions and mass consumption.

Consequently a brief glance at history  seems to indicate that the facts are exactly the diametrical opposite of what our doughty right-wing author claims. Debt is not associated with the   welfare state, but rather began when finance capital around 1980 dislodged manufacturing capital – one of the principal backers of the welfare state -- from its privileged niche running public affairs and promptly replaced it as the hegemonic force within the capitalist coalition, thus bringing the welfare state to a close. I even conjecture that debt is the club with which finance capital destroyed the welfare state.  

2. “… Socialism … weakened Western culture and allowed Islam to establish … a massive beachhead.”  This notion is exceedingly peculiar. I am an expert on socialism, on 20th-century European and American history, and on the welfare state too -- and for the life of me I cannot imagine what grounds this  man could have  to claim such a preposterous thing.  I am utterly mystified. I run the film of 19th and 20th history through my head and can detect nothing even vaguely comforting to such a curious belief. Obviously he just made it up on the spur of the moment.

It's the new trend on the right-wing horse-shit circuit-- creating elaborate historical melodramas out of thin air on the spur of the moment, to lend a shade of justification to the crackpot schemes they promote, usually -- alas! -- for ignoble ends.

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