Legitimacy in political science, is the popular acceptance of a governing regime or law as an authority. Whereas authority refers to a specific position in an established government, the term legitimacy is used when describing a system of government itself—where government may be generalised to mean the wider "sphere of influence." It is considered a basic condition for rule: without at least a minimal amount of which, a government will lead to frequent deadlocks or collapse in the long run. -- Wikipedia
A recession, some wag once said, is when your neighbor is out of work. A depression is when YOU are out of work. Well, get ready for the depression. Louis Woodhill reports at realclearmarkets.com here that we should "get ready for 14 percent unemployment." Others, among them the London Telegraph's Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, think the number will go even higher.
The June "Jobs" report issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on July 2 caused shock and dismay. Payrolls declined by 467,000 jobs, more than the 345,000 lost in May, and much more than the 363,000 that economists had predicted. The only reason that the reported unemployment rate rose by only 0.1 percentage points (to 9.5%) in June was that many jobless people became discouraged and stopped looking for work. . . The current 9.5% unemployment rate is causing great economic pain, and life with a 14% jobless rate would be much, much worse. Unfortunately, almost everything that the government has done or is proposing to do to right the economy is actually counterproductive. . . As bad as joblessness is now, be prepared for it to get much, much worse.
Now as bad enough as widening unemployment is, it is not the worst thing in and of itself. Ambrose Evans-Pritchard reports what he thinks will come after in an article here, entitled, "The unemployment timebomb is quietly ticking."
Unemployed today: Riot in Sofia, Bulgaria.
One dog has yet to bark in this long winding crisis. Beyond riots in Athens and a Baltic bust-up, we have not seen evidence of bitter political protest as the slump eats away at the legitimacy of governing elites in North America, Europe, and Japan. It may just be a matter of time. . . The shocker last week was not just that the US lost 467,000 jobs in May, but also that time worked fell 6.9pc from a year earlier, dropping to 33 hours a week. "At no time in the 1990 or 2001 recessions did we ever come close to seeing such a detonating jobs figure," said David Rosenberg from Glukin Sheff. "We have lost a record nine million full-time jobs this cycle."
AEP points out that the government's official way of counting unemployemnt is woefully understating the real unemployment rate, for:
The Centre for Labour Market Studies (CLMS) in Boston says US unemployment is now 18.2pc, counting the old-fashioned way. The reason why this does not "feel" like the 1930s is that we tend to compress the chronology of the Depression. It takes time for people to deplete their savings and sink into destitution. Perhaps our greater cushion of wealth today will prevent another Grapes of Wrath, but 20m US homeowners are already in negative equity (zillow.com data). Evictions are running at a terrifying pace. . . Sheriffs in Michigan and Illinois are quietly refusing to toss families on to the streets, like the non-compliance of Catholic police in the Slump. Europe is a year or so behind, but catching up fast. . .
This is the deadly lag effect. What is so disturbing is that governments have not even begun the spending squeeze that must come to stop their countries spiralling into a debt compound trap. . . If bankers know what is good for them, they will take a teacher's salary for a few years until the storm passes. If they proceed with the bonuses now on the table, even as taxpayers pay for the errors of their caste, they must expect a ferocious backlash. . . We are moving into Phase II of the Great Unwinding. It may be time to put away our texts of Keynes, Friedman, and Fisher, so useful for Phase 1, and start studying what happened to society when global unemployment went haywire in 1932.
In our case, add on top of the unemployment rate (whatever it may actually be and however high it ends up) the fact that with its actions as a "gangster government," to use Michael Barone's phrase, this administration is well into losing its perceived legitimacy with an ever growing percentage of the population. You can begin with the missing birth certificate and find any number of examples after that.
Here is another one, although it might seem an entirely different subject altogether.
OBAMA'S MOSCOW GIVEAWAY
by Ralph Peters
July 7, 2009
PRESIDENT Obama went to Moscow desperate for the appearance of a foreign-policy success. He got that illusion -- at a substantial cost to America's security.
The series of signing ceremonies in a grand Kremlin hall and the litany of agreements, accords and frameworks implied that the United States benefited from all the fuss. We didn't.
We got nothing of real importance. But the government of puppet-master Vladimir Putin (nominally just prime minister) got virtually all it wanted. In Moscow, this was Christmas in July.
Ignore the agenda-padding public-health memorandum and the meaningless "framework document on military cooperation" (we've had such agreements before; the Russians always just stiff us). The main course in Moscow was arms control.
President Obama's ideological bias against nuclear weapons dates back to his undergraduate years. Yet those weapons kept the peace between the world's great powers for 64 years. A few remarks about deterrence notwithstanding, Obama just doesn't get it.
He agreed to trim our nuclear-warhead arsenal by one-third and -- even more dangerously -- to cut the systems that deliver the nuclear payloads. In fact, the Russians don't care much about our warhead numbers (which will be chopped to a figure "between 1,500 and 1,675"). What they really wanted -- and got -- was a US cave-in regarding limits on our nuclear-capable bombers, submarines and missiles that could leave us with as few as 500 such systems, if the Russians continue to get their way as the final details are negotiated.
Moscow knows we aren't going to start a nuclear war with Russia. Putin (forget poor "President" Dmitry Medvedev) wants to gut our conventional capabilities to stage globe-spanning military operations. He wants to cut us down to Russia's size.
Our problem is that many nuclear-delivery systems -- such as bombers or subs -- are "dual-use": A B-2 bomber can launch nukes, but it's employed more frequently to deliver conventional ordnance.
Putin sought to cripple our ability to respond to international crises. Obama, meanwhile, was out for "deliverables" -- deals that could be signed in front of the cameras. Each man got what he wanted.
President Obama even expressed an interest in further nuclear-weapons cuts. Peace in our time, ladies and gentlemen, peace in our time . . .
We just agreed to the disarmament position of the American Communist Party of the 1950s.
The Russians also enjoyed our president's empathy for their position on missile defense. Apparently, Eastern Europe really does belong to the Kremlin's sphere of influence.
Not least, Obama fell for the sucker offer of the year: The Russians will generously allow us to fly our troops and weapons through their airspace to Afghanistan.
This ploy is utterly transparent: Putin intends to lull us into dependency on a trans-Russia supply route -- giving him a free hand in Georgia, Ukraine and elsewhere.
By Putin's calculus, we'll complain about further aggression on Russia's frontiers, but take no action that would jeopardize our new supply line. Meanwhile, we serve as the Kremlin's proxies, protecting its sphere of influence in Central Asia against Islamist influence from the south and working on the Russians' Afghan heroin problem.
What did our president get in return? Russia will import more American meat products (which Russia needs). And we can re-open our Moscow office investigating the cases of POWs and MIAs from yesteryear's wars. Well, I served in that office 16 years ago.
Even during the Yeltsin-era "thaw," the Russians stonewalled us. And Putin's no Boris Yeltsin.
Our president also got some generalizations about North Korea and Iran, but no hard commitments. Russia -- which designed many of Iran's nuclear facilities -- wouldn't even promise to permanently deny Iran the sophisticated air-defense systems that would make it harder to hit Tehran's nuke sites.
And you could read something else in President Medvedev's imperious bearing behind his podium yesterday: Moscow longs for the world to view Russia and the United States as equals again, as joint arbiters of a global condominium, reviving the Kremlin's Cold-War status (for which Russians feel passionate nostalgia).
They got that, too. And we got nothing, nothing, nothing. Unless you think trading our military superiority for hamburger sales is a winner.
There's been a debate in the Obama administration between veterans who learned the hard way not to trust the Russians and the new, unblooded idealists. Now we know who won.
There exists, among many folks, the opinion that if Obama's entire purpose in getting elected was to destroy the United States as an economic engine and world power, he could scarcely do better than he has done. In the end, if you apply the old Roman test to a crime, Qui Bono?, or "Who benefits?" then you would have to conclude that America's traditional enemies in the world are behind the Obama presidency. But the same events can be inspired by a well-placed narcissist who secretly loathes his country as by an international criminal conspiracy. In any case, just like the absence of the birth certificate, these events are troubling and in many people's eyes strike at the heart of Obama's legitimacy to hold office. Especially when he seems intent upon ruling us, instead of representing the best interests of the people as the Founders intended.
It all comes down to this. This country has endured the buffeting of the two-plus centuries since its birth by virtue of the common religious heritage of Judaeo-Christianity, a social and political compact based upon the rule of law and not the rule of man, and the Lockean principle that legitimacy of government derives from the consent of the governed. All of those are under assault and failing under Obama. Of course he is but the last of a long line of muggers of the Constitution and perhaps not even the worst of them. But here we are, at the opening of the 21st Century which seems to be heralding the death of the Founders' Republic. If the republican lady Columbia has suffered a death by a thousand cuts, it is Obama's knife which seems poised over her aorta for the last, fatal stab.
And yet if the knife is driven home it will only be because we, the people -- the armed citizenry and others in the military and local and state governments who took oaths to the contrary -- failed to block the blow.
As Locke put it:
"Whenever the legislators endeavor to take away and destroy the property of the people, or to reduce them to slavery under arbitrary power, they put themselves into a state of war with the people, who are thereupon absolved from any further obedience."
The Founders knew what to do with a government that had forfeited its own legitimacy. We must stand ready to emulate them. Our lives, our liberty and our property -- and of our children's children's children -- hang in the balance.