In his column today, David Brooks predicts a groundswell of patriotism amongst Americans that will lead to a solving of the nation’s problems before it officially goes bankrupt and no one will buy the country’s bonds any longer. He thinks that patriotism will oblige previously selfish people to give up their tax cuts for the benefit of the country.
He obviously has never spent any time in the Hamptons, where the Wizards of Wall Street hang out. They have an entrenched mind set that what is good for them IS good for the country, in the spirit of Eisenhower’s Secretary of the Treasury, Charles Wilson, who once famously proclaimed, “What’s good for General Motors is good for the country.” According to that logic, the federal government should be bailing all of us out.
The fanatic devotion of the Republicans to tax cuts, particularly for the wealthiest Americans, defies logic. This has been tried before and it failed. David Stockman, Ronald Reagan’s director of the budget, opined in the New York Times that Republican policies from Nixon on have destroyed the American economy. It was Reagan who refused to reappoint Paul Volker as head of the Fed (Jimmy Carter had appointed him in the first place), replacing him with that ultimate charlatan, Alan Greenspan, phony PhD and all. Now, in control of the House with their eyes on the Senate and the White House, the Republicans propose to balance the budget by continuing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy under the same trickle down philosophy that they have maintained over the years. The problem with this is that it will add a trillion dollars to the deficit over time and do nothing to stimulate the economy because the wealthy will simply invest this money and not spend it.
So where does that leave us? It leaves us in the hands of Bernanke, who is pumping six billion dollars from the Fed into the economy by buying US Treasuries, a policy designed to drive the dollar lower so American can pay off its debt with cheap money, the way the Germans did after the First World War. That led to the hyperinflation which led to the rise of Hitler and the Nazi Party. Personally, I have no idea what David Brooks is talking about. Why should there be such an outburst of selfless patriotism when the country is still decidedly self-absorbed. The Balshazar’s Feast of capitalism is over only no one has told the corpse.