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Krugman on the end of the 30-year Republican campaign

Don't miss Paul Krugman's column this morning. There's no sudden new thought but, brick by brick, he builds a compelling logical explanation for the fiscal cliff moment in Washington based around the premise that what we are seeing is the end of the road that Republicans have been traveling for 30 years, which, according to this telling, was supposed to lead to the end of the welfare state. Only it didn't.

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What we are seeing is the dog

What we are seeing is the dog finally catching the car, but being unwilling to bite.

Extending the analogy, the dog caught the car, not because the dog got faster, but because the car engine was sputtering and stalling.

The extraordinary post-WW2 growth that was assumed to be the birthright of Americans has come to an end. Cheap energy is gone. Resources, across all categories, are becoming scarcer and more expensive and sought by more of the world's populations. There are no secrets of production that are not available anywhere else in the world. Speedy transport connects all parts of the world. Massively productive equipment ensures that there will be a restive underemployed class throughout the US and the world. There are few, if any, populations that willing to remain servile to the the west, the US, and the politcal/economic classes that dominated that period. The witness of lavish excesses of the old industrial empire remain in the pollution, degradation, illnesses, extinctions, and exotic pests that populated the world.

The older end of the population, many with their mindset unchangeably constructed in the peak of the post-WW2 boom cannot effectively deal with the world that the children of the 80's (and forward) see.

And the Republican party, being embedded in the ideals of the the post-WW2 era, is especially ill-equipped to deal with the new world that we are now living in.

THAT is the problem with the Republican party.

It should be a good time for them. The economy is bad, and they have a solution that appeared to have worked before--cut taxes, cut spending.

However, they do not realize that the irresistible rise of the post-WW2 US economy empowered many effects, including balanced budgets and increasing revenues despite cuts in tax rates, despite increases in social spending, simply because so much money was flowing through the US economy from so many other places in the world. I would venture that almost any system or program would have worked in that period, simply because of the artesian flow of money into and through the US economy.

Well, that has changed. The world has grown up around us and the former artesian flow of money needs to be pumped with effort now. Almost anything works in a growing economy. Virtually nothing works in an economy that is stagnant or going downhill.

Many hard choices are ahead of the US. The first major choice before the US is whether the US is mainly an association of economic interests ( "of the business, by the business, for the business"), or an association of mutual personal interests mainly characterized by freedom ( "of the people, by the people, for the people"). When that decision is made, the choices that are to come become simpler with a visible chain that connects goal, means and effect.

However, it is amusing that the party that has vociferously decried the "waste, fraud and abuse" within government spending for the past 3 decades cannot come forward with even a down-payment on the bills that must be paid.