Ph.D. Octopus

Politics, media, music, capitalism, scholarship, and ephemera since 2010


with one comment

America is running huge deficits, which all wise, important people have decided is a big problem. President Obama has done the courageous thing by making completely meaningless symbolic statements about freezing the budget. Well, here’s my profound and well thought-out two cents:
Right now Americans are trying to do three things:
1. Have really low taxes; preferably no taxes.
2. Be a massive fucking empire, with military bases all around the world, and the capability to use crazy James Bond weapons to kill every foreigner who looks at us wrong.
3. Keep a half-way decent society in which the poor and elderly are not marched into Soylent Green factories.

I’m going to go ahead and say we can’t do all three at once. Maybe two of them, in some sort of half-assed way. But not all three.

Wotty adds: Krugman, who has apparently recovered from the pasting recently administered by this page, has some thoughts this morning on the same topic, concluding: “To me — and I’m not alone in this — the sudden outbreak of deficit hysteria brings back memories of the groupthink that took hold during the run-up to the Iraq war.”

Your title of “Choices,” then, was very well, er, chosen, as it were, Krugman’s point being that deficit hysteria is manufactured precisely to curtail serious consideration of alternatives – leaving cutting social spending and the like as an inevitable choix forcé (to borrow a useful Gallic turn of phrase from French sociologist and ami-to-grad-students-everywhere Pierre Bourdieu). In a recent speech at NYU (republished in the NYRB), Tony Judt maintained of this country’s utter failure to square the circle you describe above, or to even articulate the possibilities: “Our shortcoming—forgive the academic jargon—is discursive. We simply do not know how to talk about these things.”

Indeed, this returns us – to know the place for the first time – to an emerging theme of this web-log: Attitudes to government, or, to use another pretentious but nonetheless utile French phrase: la question sociale.


Written by Peter Wirzbicki

February 5, 2010 at 08:24

Posted in economics, Obama, politics

One Response

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  1. No one has talked seriously about taxes in this country for years, except in terms of cutting them or complaining about them. And unless we face up to that, we’ll all become California.


    February 5, 2010 at 15:44

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