As the European fiscal crisis continues and political instability worsens across the Middle East, it is perhaps time to rethink our country’s deep embrace of globalization. Instead, we should concentrate our economic and cultural energies on the Americas, the Western Hemisphere of land from Wainwright, Alaska , to Tierra Del Fuego, Argentina. Within this vast territory lies every natural and human resource we need. With vast new energy resources in Brazil, Venezuela and Canada, we would have no need to deal with Petrol autocrats in Saudi Arabia or Russia. The anti-colonial roots of both North and South America stem from both Thomas Jefferson and Simon Bolivar’s reading of Voltaire, Adam Smith and Montesquieu. And while these rooted democracies of the American hemisphere may be flawed, they are strong enough to deal even the toughest of caudillo’s like Chavez, electoral setbacks. From a human capital perspective, while much of Europe is entering a demographic death spiral, the America’s are full of young workers who pay taxes that can provide a healthy safety net for the old and infirmed.
And within the creative urban economies of our hemisphere are the young workers who are making the knowledge goods that the rest of the world consumes. From brilliant film directors working in Mexico City, to innovative software designers in Silicon Valley to wonderful musicians in Rio like Zelia Duncan—the next economy is firmly rooted in the Americas.
Of course you would never know this if you turned on the TV news, because in that long tradition of “if it bleeds it leads”, the cable news bias is slanted towards crisis, panic and tragedy. But in many ways our media and the Republican establishment are linked arm in arm to create a self-fulfilling prophecy—a crisis of American confidence—that will continue to leave our economy in stagnation. The political reality of course is quite different. Take the American deficit, for example. As Ezra Klein points out IF CONGRESS DOES NOTHING, the deficits will be reduced by $6 trillion in the coming years.
So now there are two triggers. One is an extremely progressive spending trigger worth $1.2 trillion that goes off on January 1, 2013. The other is an extremely progressive tax trigger worth $3.8 trillion that goes off on…January 1, 2013. If you count reduced interest payments, the two policies alone would reduce future deficits by about $6 trillion. That’s far more than anything the supercommittee came close to discussing. It’s distributed far more progressively than anything the Democrats have even considered proposing. And all that needs to happen for it to pass is, well, nothing.
So if the deficit crisis is a chimera and American hemisphere energy independence is a reality, why do we feel so stuck in this Interregnum? I think it is the fault of the current Supreme Court that has moved our political system from one person, one vote to one dollar, one vote. Why do a greater percentage of Americans approve of polygamy than approve of congress? Because Americans essentially feel that every member is for sale. So forget Lincoln’s description of a “government of the people, by the people, for the people”. We don’t believe it anymore. Even our disappointment with Obama is based around the suspicion that he was far too close to Wall Street to make them pay for their sins in 2009.
So, as I wrote earlier in the week, I do think Obama is on the way to addressing some of the inequality issues by raising taxes on the wealthy. But until we change the law that Money=Speech, we will live in a pale shadow of a democracy with an increasingly cynical and disconnected public.