By Irene F. Starkehaus -
HuffPo has a thought-provoking article on its site entitled How to End the Gridlock which discusses solutions to the government shutdown crisis that's brewing in Washington over spending and debt and Obamacare…oh, my! It's written by Richard Parker who is a lecturer on public policy at Harvard's Shorenstein Center. He's also Senior Fellow of Harvard's Kennedy School. Parker offers a markedly unorthodox resolution to Congress's gridlock at least from the Left's point of view:
"Suspend Obamacare and cut the budget--just as House Republicans have demanded--but here's the compromise: do all the cutting in just the 80 or so congressional districts of the most ardent Tea Party members.
Cut Social Security and Medicare payments in just those 80 districts. Cut Food Stamps and defense spending (for national security, transfer military personnel to other districts; some would be Democratic, some Republican other than the Tea Partiers'.) Close any national parks, science labs, or public schools in these 80 districts that rely on federal aid. Cut the 80 districts' share of aid to Israel and Egypt, and of military expenditures in Afghanistan and for the NSA and CIA and FBI…and tax them at, say, 6%"
Follow the link to read Richard Parker's detailed proposal. Parker believes that by doing this…by giving the Tea Party exactly what he perceives it wants in removing the Federal Government's economic stranglehold, the Tea Party will die over the financial, social and spiritual collapse within their communities because economics "are very, very complicated things--so complicated that, as a profession, we're still very poor at predicting results, especially over any extended period of time."
I'm going to go out on a limb here based on this particular HuffPo post and assume that Richard Parker is not a Road to Serfdom kind of guy. What say you?
Parker's nutshell: Tea Party conservatives simply cannot fathom the thousands of ways that government touches their lives every day. If Tea Party conservatives would only wake up and realize that they are incapable of surviving without government intervention, if only they would pipe down and let the Harvard economists take care of these very, very complicated things, if only Tea Partiers could understand that the only thing standing between them and death is unfettered Obamacare…so the best way to end the interminable debate between laissez faire capitalists and central planners is to give the Tea Party enough rope to hang themselves. And then do whatever it takes to make sure they do hang themselves. More on that in a minute.
Parker explains that this new Tea Party laboratory experiment would duplicate the conditions and (very quickly) facilitate the demise of Reaganomics, which Parker adds was an unmitigated and abandoned disaster because the federal deficit and debt boomed to its then-highest post WWII levels. As an Oxford-trained economist, Parker is quite fluent on the subject of trickle-down and will be glad to explain how horrible it was living in the 1980s with all that debt.
When Parker is offering his econ tutorial, it's possible that he may choose not to lecture us on the details of Reagan's deficits which were high because the Democrats controlled Congress and misused the increased revenue that was created by lowering taxes to blow up entitlement spending. He may not choose to compare and contrast Reagan's deficits to the Obama deficits because Lord knows this country would have a much healthier economy if we were only at running Reagan's deficits. I suspect that he won't want to place either era's deficits into the context of economic recovery or GDP or unemployment or that too-old-fashioned misery index.
I've got to say though; In spite of the reality that the federal government would no more set the Tea Partiers free to live out their John Galt reveries than they would willingly self-impose term limits, I find the good Fellow's economic throw down almost irresistible. I just can't help but to wonder at it. What does Richard Parker think? Did the sun never rise prior to the efficient management of central planning? Was the first bridge invented by Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Civil Works Administration?
Question: If the federal government no longer provided funding for bridges or highways, would Tea Party oases build bridges, roads and highways without Uncle Sam or would Galt-towns buckle under rotting and crumbling infrastructure the way Detroit and Chicago have?
Answer: Galt-towns would build their own bridges because it would be in their own best interest to do so. At first, local unions would do everything in their power to stop construction from happening and the federal government would naturally facilitate the disruptions because it would be in their best interest to see this social experiment fail. Galt-towns would then do an end run and hire local non-union contractors which would cause social unrest. Unions would bus members from near and far to converge on the little Galt-towns and protest the unfair hiring practices. I promise you, though, that bridges and highways would be built…efficiently and effectively.
Question: If the federal government no longer provided security services for Tea Party oases, would Galt-towns be able to protect themselves from social unrest when the unions decided to rain terror upon the newly freed people or would they collapse into social chaos the way Detroit and Chicago have?
Answer: Galt-towns would still be funding their own local law enforcement agencies and state agencies so there would still be a police presence in those towns. Likely, Galt-towns within conservative states would fare better than those in states like Illinois. Galt-towns in Illinois would see an increase in the hiring of private security forces and private gun ownership would skyrocket as well. In the end, Galt-towns would find a way to effectively and efficiently protect themselves.
Question: Would industry be able to function in Tea Party oases with the hiccups in law enforcement and infrastructure maintenance or would they flee Galt-towns the way they have fled Detroit and Chicago?
Answer: Low taxes? Limited government intervention? What do you think? Galt-towns would become boomtowns in very short order. Whether the federal government would then use the full force of the agencies at it's a disposal to harass corporations and individuals with unique and extra constitutional regulations is a separate issue, but this would be nothing compared to the bigger obstacle. The other problem with the inevitable Galt-town prosperity is that it would certainly create an influx of liberals who are bailing from their failed cities seeking better lives for their families. Once entrenched in Galt-towns, they would attempt to recreate the social and economic experiments from which they escaped in Detroit and Chicago and they would do so without a hint of irony because economics are very, very complicated things--so complicated that, as a profession, we're still very poor at predicting results, especially over any extended period of time.
Eh. Matters not because no such economic trial will ever be permitted and Parker knows quite well that it won't. He has the indolent luxury of proposing the throw down and sounding defiantly supreme in his position that freedom would fail because conservatives will never see such an opportunity as long as Keynesians run wild with your money.