When I’m in California, I feel like a Newport Beach conservative. When I’m in Utah, I feel like a flaming liberal.
So I would say I’m a moderate. I’m liberal on social issues, but I wasn’t as a parent. Being a grandparent allows you the luxury of being a little more chilled out on social issues. Or, maybe being a grandparent has nothing to do with it. Maybe the best answer right now is, that’s just how things are for me.
I thought I was a conservative when it came to financial and economic issues. Right now I’m mixed. In the financial meltdown of 2008 bankers abused the heart and soul of capitalism with the creation of too much debt. That should make me a super hawk on deficit reduction, but it hasn’t.
Excessive debt is horrid, but debt as a principle in capitalism is profound and essential. There is no capitalism without capital, and there is no capital without debt, and there is no debt without the ability to create loans. But this cycle becomes destructive when abused.
Our financial system was deeply abused by the financial community.
For example, an acquaintance of mine bought a home for “prime plus eight.” It was an adjustable rate, meaning the full rate didn’t kick in for two years. His mortgage banker said that at the end of two years, he could refinance the loan as the home’s value appreciated.
Well, the home didn’t appreciate in value. And my friend not only had to state his income, but had to prove it as well. The mortgage banker didn’t refinance the loan. And my friend was caught paying prime (2%) plus 8 (8%) for a total of 10%, for a property that was eventually worth 40% of its original value. This happened thousands of times all over the country during the financial meltdown. The real estate market found itself with an overabundance of loans with no ability to keep up with interest payments. By definition when this happens the system collapses. That’s what happened in 2008.
In such a situation, I concluded that I was left with two possible reactions. One, I could let the system completely collapse until no one had anything of value, rich, poor or otherwise. Or, two, with whatever resource is available, we could try to salvage the system.
Let It Collapse-Get A Better System
If I were to choose this option, more than likely I would have to admit to myself that I no longer trusted our financial system, and that I was prepared to let it die and replace it with something better.
If that were the case, then the issue would become, with what other system would I replace democratic-capitalism?
For example, would I support an attempt to make America more religious by supporting efforts to make America more of a theocracy? Or, would I support a radical attempt to decentralize America with a bold approach at returning everything back to the states under the argument of “states’ rights”?
As I started reading up on these possibilities, I was surprised at how little evidence history has produced about successful alternatives to modern democratic-capitalism. It appears that different experiments have failed in the past when confronted with crises the size of the one we faced during 2008.
An American Theocracy
For those arguing for America to go back to its religious roots, such thinking is full of complication and hazard. For example, a modern theocracy in America would be a contradiction in terms. Which god would rule? The Protestant god? The Catholic god? The Mormon gods?
Our religious views should inform our public policy views, but so should classical Roman and ancient Greek views. So should European Enlightenment views.
There really is no one set of views that informs us collectively. They all inform us. But what if for some strange reason, a Christian theology were to emerge into a Christian theocracy in America. Before long we would start to resemble an Iranian theocracy, where Islamic teachings not only inform our views, but govern them as well.
And for those who argue for a highly decentralized system of independent states, you only have to look at similar attempts over the past 150 years to see how futile such experiments have been.
The experiment in nineteenth century America of leaving states free to choose whether they wished to be slave or free states ended in the American Civil War. Southern states, fearing a loss of power over the right to continue slavery, invoked “states’ rights” as their justification for seceding from the Union.
Their thinking was faulty on two fronts. One, they supposed that their sovereignty as states was greater than the nation’s right to preserve the union. This was a clear violation of the core reason upon which the constitution was originally established. “To form a more perfect union”. And two, the issue upon which they chose to exercise states’ rights was weak. The issue of owning people as property, in order to place them into slavery, was morally untenable.
The Civil War established that, after due process, states’ rights do not trump the rights of the Union as a whole. Equality of citizens in America supersedes a state’s right to determine what is best for it as a state.
In Europe, during the twentieth century, the reestablishment of force by small nations, in order to solve problems similar to what we suffer from today, resulted in the greatest siege of violence in history.
A Better Future For The Youth . . .
Benito Mussolini established a police state in Italy in the 1920’s to ensure that the youth and small property owners would have a strong and successful Italy. This was brought about by feeling left out of the spoils of victory after World War I. Fearing that their worn down socialist government would not invest in Italy’s future and would take away private property, Mussolini and his followers created a fascist state to ensure discipline and strength in building a new nation. The experiment eventually went terribly wrong. The people ended up hanging Mussolini upside down in Milan.
Improving The Middle Class
Adolph Hitler established the Third Reich in order to restore Germany’s middle class. As a result of the disastrous Treaty Of Versailles after World War I, Germany suffered from overly strict restrictions placed upon it. Hyper inflation and economic depression followed. Elected as Chancellor in 1933, Hitler set out to overcome the country’s economic woes and reestablish the strength of the middle class. In addition, he took vengeance on those nations and people he thought had weakened Germany’s middle class originally. The experience was the worst blood letting in history. This ended with an outside blowback that ended with Hitler committing suicide in Berlin.
After due consideration, I’ve concluded that I’m sufficiently satisfied with how our government is handling the economic and social challenges we now face.
I’m not interested in changing it, and I believe that any suggestion to do so is wrong headed. Democratic capitalism as now formed and functioning in The United States Of America is fine with me. I’m hard pressed to find anything that would work better.
Yes, this is what I believe. And, therefore, this is who I am.