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The Party's Over

By Patrick J. Buchanan

19 Sep 08 - The Crash of 2008, which is now wiping out trillions of dollars of our people's wealth, is, like the Crash of 1929, likely to mark the end of one era and the onset of another.

The new era will see a more sober and much diminished America.  The "Omnipower" and "Indispensable Nation" we heard about in all the hubris and braggadocio following our Cold War victory is history.

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 ****?

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 means.

The party's over.

Up through World War II, we followed the Hamiltonian idea that America must remain economically independent of the world in order to remain politically independent.

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 Mexico, Asia, China and India, and we began buying more cheaply from abroad what we used to make at home: shoes, clothes, bikes, cars, radios, TVs, planes, computers.

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 Iraq and an explosion in social spending, surpluses vanished and deficits reappeared and began to rise. The dollar began to sink, and gold began to soar.

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 load.

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 wartime consigliere.

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, putting the U.S. government behind $5 trillion in mortgages.  They decided to buy AIG with $85 billion rather than see the insurance giant sink beneath the waves.

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.

who he is:

Pat Buchanan has been a senior adviser to three presidents, twice a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination and the presidential nominee of the Reform Party in 2000.

From 1966 through 1974, Buchanan was a confidant and assistant to Richard Nixon. From 1985-87, he was White House Director of Communications for Ronald Reagan. In 1992, Buchanan challenged George H. W. Bush for the Republican nomination and almost upset the president in the New Hampshire primary. In 1996, he won New Hampshire and finished second to Sen. Dole with 3 million Republican votes.

Grits4life Grits4life 46-50, F 2 Responses Sep 21, 2008

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God damn this was written half a decade ago and even more relevant today!

very very nice to see somebody who knows what the heck they're talking about. Yeah, the end of an empire, no empire has truly lasted more than 300 years, we began in 1776, 330 years later, we're falling, and those in power are grabbing up all that's left before the cold winter. But it doesn't have to happen, if we'd implement cold fusion and other suppressed technologies the world's economy would boom, but no, the powers that be would submerge us into a cold winter of un winnable wars, both over seas and at home, so that we will be scared into the new world order.

It takes a lot of guts to admit,that a party is over,when one has presided over a powerful and wealthy and pride felt empire like the U S A,I and my wife visited there,and did The great American Crossing in May/Junethis year What a fantastic trip .What a fantastic country.Friendly people,mostly the coloureds and particularly in the countryside
I now live in Australia,which will probably never have a proud empire but will probably trundle along with a nice lifestyle and a commendable standard o living along the likes of Sweden Norway and Switzerland.INow we look north into Asia as we ponder the next empire to fill the void left by the U S A, and it will probably be China
I migrated from Britain which ,proudly had the world s first industrial revolution and commanded an empire on which the sun never set,Sadly being a baby boomer i have had to witness the last throws of this great empire as Britain slowly sinks into an ignominious inobscurity,It has aproud history but history never the less.It just amases me how the British monarchy and dont get me wrong they have great chracters amongst their family,Friendly humerous,even humilty but they have paid themselves fat pensions while the populace struggle from day to day,Great empires ,dont make the masses afluent,An empire that simply creates that great wealth divide between the very rich and very poor is always doomed to fail