Thursday, April 24, 2014

The inevitable collapse of the Washington DC bureaucracy

The spirit of secession is alive and well, and is global in scope:
THE list of organisations withdrawing from CBI Scotland over its stance [opposing] the [Scottish independence] referendum grew yesterday, with two more universities among those quitting.
Scotland will vote soon on whether to leave the UK.  A friend in Edinburgh tells me that it's all over but the vote counting.  The periphery is, for better or worse, poised to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with the sassenach.

They're joined by Catalonia:
Catalonia’s president has vowed to press ahead with a fiercely contentious referendum on independence from Spain, warning that he now saw little chance of a negotiated settlement with Madrid that could tackle the region’s economic and political grievances...
And the restive populations of Wales, Brittany, and Northern Italy watch with increasing impatience.  Belgium looks fair to break apart within a decade, as the unnatural marriage of french speaking Walloons and dutch speaking Flemings continue to keep that national government vapor locked.

Europe, for all its grandiose centralizing plans to counterbalance the American hyperpuissance is falling apart before our eyes.  Devolution is the game.  Here, we call that secession.  The path to that end is not (quite) inevitable, but is where the smart money is betting already in Edinburgh.  Soon it will be betting that way in Dallas.

I first broached this topic four years ago:
Kings of [Dark Ages Britain] were Ring Givers, as described in Beowulf and echoed in J.R.R. Tolkien's novels. Simon Schama writes about how the system worked in his A History Of Britain:
Their political power rested on the spoils of war and on the unwritten custom of the clan. The blood feud and the inhumation of bodies were standard practice among them. This does not mean, however, that the early Anglo-Saxon kingdoms were places of sub-human brutality and ignorance, perpetuated by thugs in helmets. War was not a sport; it was a system. Its plunder was the glue of loyalty, binding noble warriors and their men to the king. It was the land, held in return for military service, that fed their bellies; it was the honour that fed their pride; and it was the jewels that pandered to their vanity. It was everything.
And so it is today.  The modern Kings - David Cameron, Barack Obama, M. van Rampouy - are failing because they struggle to be Ring Givers.  Europe has led the charge down this blind alley, and so are running out of rings faster than here in the Colonies, but the plain fact is that Scotland and Catalonia wouldn't even be considering striking out on their own if the political establishment could buy them off.  The used to be able to do this, for the last two decades.  Now an enormous and enormously expensive bureaucracy in London and Strassbourg has consumed the surplus while tamping down economic growth with stifling regulation.  We've see on these shores where that leads.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

The European centralizing experiment is collapsing.  You'll watch it happen this year.  Sic transit gloria mundi, and good riddance to bad rubbish.  And so to our shores, and the inevitable collapse of the Washington centralizing bureaucracy.

Inevitable is the proper term, and this isn't just me being long on sunshine and kittens.  Barack Obama is without doubt the most European US President in history.  His use of power is straight out of the playbook of the European "Elite".  They're running into massive resistance in Europe and Obama is running into it here on these shores:
“I am about ready,” [Texas Attorney] General Abbott told Breitbart Texas, “to go to the Red River and raise a ‘Come and Take It’ flag to tell the feds to stay out of Texas.”


In an exclusive interview with Breitbart Texas, General Abbott said, “This is the latest line of attack by the Obama Administration where it seems like they have a complete disregard for the rule of law in this country ...And now they’ve crossed the line quite literally by coming into the State of Texas and trying to claim Texas land as federal land. And, as the Attorney General of Texas I am not going to allow this.”
In a more prosperous day, Washington would have just bought him off.  But they can't now, any more than David Cameron can buy off the Scottish politicians or Señor Rajoy Brey can buy off the Catalan politicians.  There's no money left.  It's all been spent on the coalition that supported each of these leaders ascent to power - the notorious "Stimulus" program was essentially a Trillion dollar payoff to Obama's allies, and he certainly would have not been reelected without that.

But that's all spent now.  And to the Dark Ages reference above, plunder is the glue of loyalty.  In that post I predicted the current conundrum for the leaders of the Western world:
The modern Regulatory State has a more subtle (and less brutal) method of getting plunder, but at its heart the system is the same: politics is still about feeding bellies, vanity, and pride. Regulations need Regulators, which gives ample opportunity for patronage. New regulations can be crafted with the help of powerful allies, which gives ample opportunity to flatter egos and let them show their followers that they too can deliver results. Plunder must be distributed, even it it takes the form of intellectual booty.


The Regulatory State has led us, step by step, vanity project by vanity project to a massive bubble of Sovereign Debt. Like someone who refinanced their house to take a vacation, the industrialized world is facing a crisis caused by a dynamic that Rædwald understood: the need for rulers to cater to their supporter's money, pride, and vanity.
What I missed in that post is the bureaucracy as the natural ally of the centralizing power.  The bureaucracy has shown itself to be the creature of the centralizers, with the IRS and the BATF as the poster children for intrusive politization of the organs of the government.  And they have been well rewarded for it as 7 of the 10 richest counties in the US are in the Washington DC area.

But power exists to be used, and the bureaus are either slipping beyond Obama's control - running on the autopilot which is the Iron Law - or it's all part of the plan to subjugate the hinterlands.  In any event, it's not working as a self-organized Nevada militia stared down the BLM and the states become increasingly restless.  This means that smart State politicians see a way to get ahead by getting tough with Washington.  Increasingly, it pays to flip the bird to the king.

The Center cannot hold, because a wildly expensive bureaucracy is stifling the Periphery.  The Periphery doesn't like it.  The cost of the people who keep the Center in power makes it impossible to buy off enough politicians to defuse the Periphery's unrest.  It's a dialectic in action.

The natives are restless, and are increasingly so.

And so the smart politics is increasingly one of defiance to the Center.  We shall see it later this year in Edinburgh and Barcelona.  We will see is to a lesser - but growing - extent in Austin and Pierre.  But the trajectory is locked because Obama needs every scrap of his base for this (and the next) election cycle.  He'll double down because he has to.  That will be throwing gasoline on the fire. And it won't be enough now, as it wasn't in the Dark Ages:
War was not a sport; it was a system. Its plunder was the glue of loyalty, binding noble warriors and their men to the king. It was the land, held in return for military service, that fed their bellies; it was the honour that fed their pride; and it was the jewels that pandered to their vanity. It was everything.
To keep a large kingdom's fighting men in booty, you had to fight a lot. You also had to fight smart - a king that loses a lot of battles loses his men's loyalty and ultimately his life. The chronicles tell us that the Merovingian boy king Sigebert wept in his saddle as his army was routed. That's what led to the Mayors of the Palace becoming the war leaders and Ring Givers, and that led to the replacement of the Merovingians by the Carolingians. You might say that the Merovingian bubble burst.
As is the centralizing bubble.  In the end, Washington DC will collapse because there is no alternative.  There's no plausible scenario where the growth in power and control over the States is sustainable.  Things that can't continue don't.  I believe that the Class Warfare in this Cold Civil War have so weakened the bands that have bound together the Red and Blue States that the easiest solution will be a split.  The Blue States will get Washington, and its bureaucracy, and its cost.

I don't expect that they will ultimately enjoy that.

Bootnote: if you believe that the two political parties are but the two wings of the same bird of prey, then this suggests that President Romney will see this same dynamic continue in 2017 ...


Anonymous said...
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Brad said...

Too many people live in echo chambers, and your friend in Edinburgh is one of them. One of the best and most reliable predictors for elections are the bookies, and the last I looked, the odds were 4-1 against the Scottish referendum. The people I know in Scotland, even those that support independence, generally agree that the referendum has no chance. There are several reasons:

- Too many English living in Scotland

- Too many close business tied to England

- Politicians working behind the scenes - example, the EU agreeing that an independent Scotland will be ejected from the EU and have to apply for membership (remaining in the EU is central to the plans of the SNP).

That's not to say that I disagree with your premise. Secession should happen a lot more often than it does, and at least it's now being talked about a lot. We really need to have some established, internationally-approved process, so that each new attempt doesn't have to re-invent the wheel, and so that nations cannot prevent internal regions from trying for secession. This would have helped in former Yugoslavia, would help right now in the Ukraine, and would offer hope for zillions of other places (Kurdistan comes to mind, but so does Texas).

Unfortunately, I don't believe it. What I see is simply a continuance of the present trends. The US will slip farther and farther towards being a police state (look at how little protest there was about the Boston lock-down). School children will be indoctrinated to be good little citizens, informing on each other, hoping that the all-knowing State will target their neighbor rather than themselves.

The few who dislike what is happening will either get themselves in trouble (and be removed from society), or else will snap and rant (like now) but do nothing. The government has armored vehicles and drones, the police have become paramilitary forces, they are inside our communications, and more than ready to do us harm. If any serious secession movement starts to pick up steam, the leaders will be stomped so far underground that they'll have to name the new crater. The people standing on the edge will thank the government for protecting them, and give up more of their liberties.

It's not a pretty future, but the US is rich enough, and geographically isolated enough, to pull it off for a very long time...

Anonymous said...

25-30 years ago the Colorado legislature entertained the idea of retaining federal gasoline taxes because they were sending dollars to DC and getting pennies back. It didn't go anywhere, but some of us noticed.

That wouldn't happen again because CO is now True Blue, but it wouldn't surprise me to see parallel actions elsewhere. For example, SC is rattling sabers with DC over channel dredging at the Port of Charleston to accommodate the larger freighters being built; the XL pipeline will, eventually, get built, whether DC likes it or not - there's too much money at stake all along the route, and too much national benefit when it's finally running; CA, NY, NJ are losing their productive population, and not by insignificant amounts.

The list goes on, but the trend is clear. A lot will depend on what happens in November, and if we're fortunate we'll start to see some defunding of the DC bureaucracy to accelerate the trend, which is one reason the Dems are becoming so desperate - that huge bureaucracy supports an equally huge number of liberals, few of whom can make it on their own in the Real World.

Aretae said...

Dunno about scotland...I love this analysis.

Goober said...

Lots to think about here.

One thing that i do have to say is that I am absolutely a fan of secessionist movements, so long as they can remain peaceful, for one reason, and one reason only:


Breaking one government into two smaller governments means that they will be competing against one another for the hearts and minds of the people, which means that a government will finally - FINALLY - have to actually look at what is good for it's people and act in their best interest, rather than it's own, or else the people will leave it.

Choice is never a bad thing. I thinkt he founding fathers of the United States saw this and created a republic as a result - sovereign states overseen by a central federal government with very tight restraints on it's power to act. That way, each state could compete with the next for people and capital. One could be as socialist as it wants, while the other as lassiz-faire capitalist as it wants, and see which one comes out on top.

But the power grabs by the federal government have made that impossible.

Rick C said...

BTW, any non-Texan readers who thought the name Greg Abbott sounds a bit familiar, he's the guy who's going to be the next Governor. (As if he weren't already sure to beat Abortion Barbie, I don't know how this can be seen as anything but red meat to the base.)

blogger said...

These comments are packed full o' smart