The title of the post reflects the view of America’s current fight about its 2012 budget reflected in a recent Financial Times op ed out of the UK: “A debt disaster behind a comic book budget squabble” by Clive Crook (4/10/2011… er… forgive me, my British friends: 10 April 2011). Note: You may have to register to be able to see the article, but registration with the FT is free.
While I may not agree on every point, I like the article because it isn’t quite as one-sided as American media can tend to be, perhaps because the ocean between gives a little perspective.
I thought this passage was insightful:
Unfortunately, the Republicans’ plan is no good. In the first place, it offers no basis for compromise with Democrats. The paradox of US politics is that the system, with all its checks and balances, insists on compromise, whereas its practitioners – now more than ever – see compromise as defeat. Every American reveres the constitution; every politician and political activist recoils at the outcome it was designed to provide.
A Republican-controlled House of Representatives can do nothing if Democrats control the Senate and the White House. You would not guess this from Mr Ryan’s blueprint, which could only be passed – and then with difficulty – if Republicans controlled every branch. The plan dismantles Medicare, a jewel in the crown (forgive the expression) of the US welfare state, and uses the proceeds to cut taxes. It would be difficult to think of a proposal that would dismay Democrats more.
Mr. Crook points out the accounting legerdemain used to make Mr. Paul Ryan’s plan seem more successful than it would be, just as he points out. But he is just as pointed about the plan that was submitted by the President before Mr. Ryan’s:
Recall that Barack Obama’s budget in February failed to address this [constant rise of public debt]. The president calls for large deficits long after the economy has returned to full employment, and an indefinitely rising ratio of public debt to gross domestic product. It has come to something when the White House makes eventual fiscal collapse official policy. That is novel even in Washington.
I think the key sentence in the entire piece is at the very beginning: “The world had better start paying attention to the US government’s inability to govern.” And the world is taking notice.
Democracies like ours (OK, democratic republics like ours) are purposefully designed to be adversarial in nature. The Constitution is an exercise in national self-governance by checks and balances that pit one branch of government against another in an effort to produce a result of limited, self-controlled government. It is to be praised in that it recognizes the carnal nature of man and attempts to account for it. It is not to be enshrined, however, for inherently within it lie seeds of national destruction.
After all, it is Jesus Christ, Himself, who says, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand” (Matt. 12:25). How can a nation stand when such division is not only institutionalized, it is actually considered fundamental to the nation’s very existence?
Some have said that it would be different if we had heeded the advice of Washington and avoided the establishment of political parties, but as much as I love George Washington, such advice was and would always be fruitless. Voting structures, by their vary natures, produce “party” mentality (if there is a nation that has truly avoided this, I am unaware of it). Such systems are inherently designed to empower one to seek his desires over those of others and to work to make them a reality and, as such, they are adversarial in nature. Whether it takes 5 years, 15 years, or 500 years, houses so divided will fall.