Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Interesting Times

I'm not particularly afraid of what's happening.  I'm young, I have a career in a field which is not merely in demand but hopelessly understaffed, and I save a substantial portion of my income and still have substantial room to make cuts in my lifestyle.

We're rapidly approaching a dead end, and are still accelerating.  Libertarians have been predicting this moment for something like twenty years - the brief respite of the Clinton era, funded largely by a technology bubble, was not enough and will not return.  We consume and spend too much, and the hard stop is looming ever-closer.

The far left has proposed a budget which increases spending and relies on economic growth to survive.  Republicans have proposed a budget which decreases spending, but not nearly enough; it merely postpones disaster.  Many on the left honesty believe that printing off more money to finance the federal budget is fine, and many on the right honestly believe we can get out of the mess we've put ourselves in by blaming the left and cutting their programs only.

We live in Interesting Times.

I'm a hardcore Objectivist, but one thing makes me different from many of my fellows - I believe rule of law trumps final destination.  How we get there is more important than that we get there.  That's not what makes me different.  What makes me different is that this applies not only to the way things should be run, but how we get to the point where things are running that way.

Any change must be gradual; we can call businesses or individuals parasites until we're blue in the face, but ultimately people have structured their lives and business plans around expectations which the government has created, and government must allow sufficient time for plans to change; it is not merely destructive to change the rules on short notice, it is immoral, for the same reasons that government changing the laws under which contracts are governed and making those laws apply retrospectively to contracts signed before the law was passed would be/is immoral.

Rule of Law is not merely a pragmatic position, but a principled one, and it takes precedence.  Rapid changes to the way our society is structured are not principled, they're arbitrary.

A principled position dictates therefore that we cannot even make the changes we need to make right now.  They needed to have been made twenty years ago; it's too late now, and we're in for some pain.

The changes that are necessary?  Taxes increasing over a period of five years, and then decreasing again over the next five.  We can't expect to grow our way out of this problem.

Spending decreasing over the same ten year period.  Regularly.  Social programs have not achieved what they set out to achieve; scrap them, but do so gradually.  People need to be able to plan for changes in our societal structure, remember.

Scrap social security over the next years, sunsetting further benefits so that after the ten year period, nobody is due for new benefits (leaving existing benefits in place until the people in question die.).  We should not ever be -obligated- to be in debt, which is what Social Security amounts to.

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