The new era will see a more sober and much diminished
Seizing on the crisis, the left says we are witnessing the
failure of market economics, a failure of conservatism.
This is nonsense. What we are witnessing is the collapse of
Gordon Gecko ("Greed Is Good!") capitalism. What we are witnessing is
what happens to a prodigal nation that ignores history, and forgets and
abandons the philosophy and principles that made it great.
A true conservative cherishes prudence and believes in
fiscal responsibility, balanced budgets and a self-reliant republic. He believes
in saving for retirement and a rainy day, in deferred gratification, in not
buying on credit what you cannot afford, in living within your means.
Is that really what got Wall Street and us into this mess —
that we followed too religiously the gospel of Robert Taft and Russell Kirk?
"Government must save us!" cries the left, as
ever. Yet, who got us into this mess if not the government — the Fed with its
easy money, Bush with his profligate spending, and Congress and the SEC by
liberating Wall Street and failing to step in and stop the drunken orgy?
For years, we Americans have spent more than we earned. We
save nothing. Credit card debt, consumer debt, auto debt, mortgage debt,
corporate debt — all are at record levels. And with pensions and savings being
wiped out, much of that debt will never be repaid.
Our standard of living is inevitably going to fall. For
foreigners will not forever buy our bonds or lend us more money if they rightly
fear that they will be paid back, if at all, in cheaper dollars.
We are going to have to learn to live again without our
The party's over
Up through World War II, we followed the Hamiltonian idea
But this generation decided that was yesterday's bromide
and we must march bravely forward into a Global Economy, where we all depend on
one another. American companies morphed into "global companies" and
moved plants and factories to
As the trade deficits began inexorably to rise to 6 percent
of GDP, we began vast borrowing from abroad to continue buying from abroad.
At home, propelled by tax cuts, war in
Yet, still, the promises of the politicians come. Barack
Obama will give us national health insurance and tax cuts for all but that 2
percent of the nation that already carries 50 percent of the federal income tax
John McCain is going to cut taxes, expand the military,
move NATO into Georgia and Ukraine, confront Russia and force Iran to stop
enriching uranium or "bomb, bomb, bomb," with Joe Lieberman as
Who are we kidding?
What we are witnessing today is how empires end.
The Last Superpower is unable to defend its borders,
protect its currency, win its wars or balance its budget. Medicare and Social
Security are headed for the cliff with unfunded liabilities in the tens of
trillions of dollars.
What we are witnessing today is nothing less than a
Katrina-like failure of government, of our political class, and of democracy
itself, casting a cloud over the viability and longevity of the system.
Notice who is managing the crisis. Not our elected leaders.
Nancy Pelosi says she had nothing to do with it. Congress is paralyzed and
heading home. President Bush is nowhere to be seen.
Hank Paulson of Goldman Sachs and Ben Bernanke of the Fed
chose to bail out Bear Sterns but let Lehman go under. They decided to
nationalize Fannie and Freddie at a cost to taxpayers of hundreds of billions,
An unelected financial elite is now entrusted with the
assignment of getting us out of a disaster into which an unelected financial
elite plunged the nation. We are just spectators.
What the Greatest Generation handed down to us — the
richest, most powerful, most self-sufficient republic in history, with the
highest standard of living any nation had ever achieved — the baby boomers,
oblivious and self-indulgent to the end, have frittered away.
To find out more about Patrick Buchanan, and read features
by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators
Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.
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