Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Euro,Oil, and Constitutional Conservativism

What’s new today

Our # 1 story describes how the Euro appears to be doomed.  The back and forth on whether or not it can survive may be at an end.  Story 2 is something to be thankful for, as Goldman Sachs predicts America will become the largest producer of oil in the world by 2017.  Story #3 tells us what is going on between liberals and conservatives. 

1.  Is the Euro Doomed?

The defining moment was the fiasco over Wednesday's bund auction, reinforced on Thursday by the spectacle of German sovereign bond yields rising above those of the UK.

If you are tempted to think this another vote of confidence by international investors in the UK, don't. It's actually got virtually nothing to do with us. Nor in truth does it have much to do with the idea that Germany will eventually get saddled with liability for periphery nation debts, thereby undermining its own creditworthiness.

No, WHAT THIS IS ABOUT IS THE MARKETS STARTING TO BET ON WHAT WAS PREVIOUSLY A MINORITY VIEW - A COMPLETE COLLAPSE, OR BREAK-UP, OF THE EURO. Up until the past few days, it has remained just about possible to go along with the idea that ultimately Germany would bow to pressure and do whatever might be required to save the single currency.

The prevailing view was that the German Chancellor didn't really mean what she was saying, or was only saying it to placate German voters. When finally she came to peer over the precipice, she would retreat from her hard line position and compromise. Self interest alone would force Germany to act.

But THERE COMES A POINT IN EVERY CRISIS WHERE THE CONSENSUS SUDDENLY SHATTERS. THAT'S WHAT HAS JUST OCCURRED, AND WITH GOOD REASON. In recent days, it has become plain as a pike staff that the lady's not for turning….

The only reason the dollar hasn’t dropped significantly in the world markets is there is not replacement that is readily available.

     2.  Goldman Sachs predicts that U.S. will be world’s largest producer of oil in 2017

Goldman Sachs made a prediction on Sunday, September 11, that THE UNITED STATES WILL BECOME THE WORLD'S LARGEST OIL PRODUCING COUNTRY BY 2017. This significant production boost will occur as a result of utilizing a new definition of oil and generous estimates for the amount of liquids-rich shale production that can occur, The Oil Drum reports.

The investment bank has claimed that THE COUNTRY'S DAILY PRODUCTION OF OIL WILL GROW FROM 8.3 MILLION TO 10.9 MILLION BARRELS OF OIL PER DAY (Mbopd) by the year 2017, according to the media outlet. This level of production would exceed both Saudi Arabia and Russia, which is currently the top oil producer. The European and Asian country should only increase its oil production by 100,000 barrels during this period, which would result in a total output of 10.7 Mbopd, according to Dow Jones Newswires….

Good news.  Actually the United States has the most energy resources in the world, but we seem adverse to drilling, mining, etc. for it. 

    3. What is Constitutional Conservativism?

The Tea Party
….But the Tea Party has been very unusual for an American populist movement. It has not been focused on soaking the rich, as left-wing populists always have been. It has not even been primarily focused on reducing the tax burden on the middle class, as right-wing populists usually are. Rather, the TEA PARTY HAS FOCUSED ON RESTRAINING GOVERNMENT. It originated in outrage about federal bailouts, and has directed its energies toward pulling back the cost and reach of the state. IT HAS ASKED FOR FEWER GOVERNMENT GIVEAWAYS, NOT MORE. It has even given voice to a tight-money populism, criticizing the Federal Reserve for inviting inflation — a far cry from populists of old. And the Tea Party has also been intensely focused on recovering the U.S. Constitution, and especially its limits on government power (and therefore on the public’s power) — another very unusual goal for a populist movement.


And the PROGRESSIVES GENERALLY DID NOT SEE A CONTRADICTION BETWEEN THEIR TECHNOCRACY AND THEIR POPULISM. THEY EXPECTED THEIR TECHNOCRATIC IDEAS TO BE POPULAR, AND SO THEY EXPECTED POPULISM TO LEAD TO MORE EXPERT GOVERNMENT. Technocracy and populism would together undermine the power of the moneyed interests, freeing our government from corruption by the wealthy and thereby making it both more democratic and more rational. THOSE MONEYED INTERESTS, THE PROGRESSIVES ARGUED, WERE PROTECTED BY OUR CONSTITUTIONAL SYSTEM, WHICH, WITH ITS SLOW-MOVING MECHANISMS AND COUNTERBALANCED INSTITUTIONS, MADE ANY KIND OF CHANGE VERY DIFFICULT TO BRING ABOUT. As the progressive theorist Herbert Croly put it in 1914, the desire of the American people for a government that serves them rather than the rich and powerful was constantly thwarted “not by disconnected abuses, but by a perverted system.”

The simultaneous populist and technocratic appeals of the progressives’ successors in today’s politics seem to echo this premise. THEY AT LEAST IMPLICITLY SUGGEST THAT TECHNOCRACY AND POPULISM ARE TWO SIDES OF THE SAME COIN.

Founding Fathers

AND THE FRAMERS OF OUR CONSTITUTION SEEMED TO THINK SO TOO. But whereas the progressives championed both technocratic government and direct democracy, the Constitution stands opposed to both. AS THE FRAMERS SAW IT, BOTH POPULIST AND TECHNOCRATIC POLITICS WERE EXPRESSIONS OF A MODERN HUBRIS ABOUT THE CAPACITY OF HUMAN BEINGS — BE IT OF THE EXPERTS OR OF THE PEOPLE AS A WHOLE — TO MAKE JUST THE RIGHT GOVERNING DECISIONS. The Constitution is built upon a profound skepticism about the ability of any political arrangement to overcome the limitations of human reason and human nature, and so establishes a system of checks to prevent sudden large mistakes while enabling gradual changes supported by a broad and longstanding consensus. EXPERTS SHOULD NOT GOVERN, NOR SHOULD THE PEOPLE DO SO DIRECTLY, BUT RATHER THE PEOPLE’S REPRESENTATIVES SHOULD GOVERN IN A SYSTEM FILLED WITH MEDIATING INSTITUTIONS AND OPPOSING INTERESTS — a system designed to force us to see problems and proposed solutions from a variety of angles simultaneously and, as Alexander Hamilton puts it in Federalist 73, “to increase the chances in favor of the community against the passing of bad laws through haste, inadvertence, or design.” …

…THUS EXPERT OMNISCIENCE COULD NOT BE TRUSTED TO CHECK THE EXCESSES OF POPULAR PASSION, AND PUBLIC OMNISCIENCE COULD NOT BE TRUSTED TO CHECK THE EXCESSES OF EXPERT ARROGANCE. In the view of the framers, there is no omniscience; THERE IS ONLY IMPERFECT HUMANITY. We therefore need checks on all of our various excesses, and A SYSTEM THAT FORCES US TO THINK THROUGH IMPORTANT DECISIONS AS BEST WE CAN. This may well be the essential insight of our constitutional system: Since there is no perfection in human affairs, any system of government has to account for the permanent imperfections of the people who are both governing and governed, and this is best achieved through constitutional forms that compel self-restraint and enable self-correction.

This emphasis on moderating forms – that is, THE FOCUS ON ARRANGEMENTS THAT IMPOSE STRUCTURE AND RESTRAINT ON POLITICAL LIFE — IS CRUCIAL, and it has always been controversial. Indeed, it is WHAT TROUBLED THE PROGRESSIVES MOST OF ALL ABOUT OUR SYSTEM, and what troubled many other technocrats and populists before them. But as Alexis de Tocqueville noted a century before the New Deal, “this objection which the men of democracies make to forms is the very thing which renders forms so useful to freedom; for their chief merit is to serve as a barrier between the strong and the weak.” And he added, with his usual prescience, “FORMS BECOME MORE NECESSARY IN PROPORTION AS THE GOVERNMENT BECOMES MORE ACTIVE AND MORE POWERFUL.” IN OTHER WORDS, WE NEED THEM NOW MORE THAN EVER…

…THAT DIVISION IS EVIDENT IN MANY OF OUR MOST PROFOUND DEBATES TODAY, AND ESPECIALLY IN THE DEBATE BETWEEN THE LEFT AND THE RIGHT ABOUT THE CONSTITUTION. This debate, and not a choice between technocracy and populism, defines the present moment in our politics. THUS THE LEFT’S SIMULTANEOUS SUPPORT FOR GOVERNMENT BY EXPERT PANEL AND FOR THE UNKEMPT CARPERS OCCUPYING WALL STREET IS NOT A CONTRADICTION — IT IS A COHERENT ERROR. And the Right’s response should be coherent too. It should be, as for the most part it has been, an unabashed defense of our constitutional system, gridlock and all.

Because the Left has been so much more technocratic than populist these past few years, the Right’s response has naturally drifted into populist tones. That is appropriate, and it has been effective, but the tone must not overwhelm the substance of the Right’s critique. IN THIS TIME OF GRAVE CHALLENGES, CONSERVATIVES MUST WORK TO PROTECT THE FUNDAMENTALLY CONSTITUTIONALIST CHARACTER OF THE TEA PARTY, AND OF THE CONSERVATIVE MOVEMENT — avoiding the excesses of both populism and technocracy as we work to undo the damage done by both, and to recover the American project.

This is a very insightful article about what is going on in America between the left and the right. 

No comments:

Post a Comment