What is the most likely cause today of civil unrest? Immigration. Gay Marriage. Abortion. The Results of Election Day. The Mosque at Ground Zero. Nope.
Try the Federal Reserve. November 3rd is when the Federal Reserve's next policy committee meeting ends, and if you thought this was just another boring money meeting you would be wrong. It could be the most important meeting in Fed history, maybe. The US central bank is expected to announce its next move to boost the faltering economic recovery. To say there has been considerable debate and anxiety among Fed watchers about what the central bank should do would be an understatement. Chairman Ben Bernanke has indicated in recent speeches that the central bank plans to try to drive down already low-interest rates by buying up long-term bonds. A number of people both inside the Fed and out believe this is the wrong move. But one website seems to believe that Ben's plan might actually lead to armed conflict. Last week, the blog, Zerohedge wrote, paraphrasing a top economic forecaster David Rosenberg, that it believed the Fed's plan is not only moronic, but "positions US society one step closer to civil war if not worse." (See photos inside the world of Ben Bernanke)
I'm not sure what "if not worse," is supposed to mean. But, with the Tea Party gaining followers, the idea of civil war over economic issues doesn't seem that far-fetched these days. And Ron Paul definitely thinks the Fed should be ended. In TIME's recently cover story on the militia movement many said these groups are powder kegs looking for a catalyst. So why not a Fed policy committee meeting.
"Powder kegs looking for a catalyst"? Mixed metaphor, I guess. Powder kegs looking for a spark would be what I think he's looking for.
Do not get involved in arguing the point, for now. Just consider the power ascribed to the militias by the language.
The article concludes:
"It is a gross exaggeration," says Allan Meltzer, who is a top Fed historian at Carnegie Mellon. "I cannot recall ever learning about riots or civil war even when the Fed made other mistakes." When I called, David Rosenberg was traveling and couldn't talk, but he did send me a quick e-mail to stress that he has never, ever suggested that any moves the Fed makes will lead to a militia uprising.
Some smart people, though, including Meltzer, it appears, and Rosenberg do think the path of quantitative easing that the Fed looks likely to embark on is the wrong move. John Taylor, a top Fed scholar at Stanford, says eventually you will have to pull the support out, and when you do a year from now when the economy is recovering he thinks it could be quite disruptive. So even if you don't double dip now, you might double dip then. And even if you don't it would make for a slow recovery. Others, such as Raghuram Rajan, who has became famous for warning about the possibility of a financial crisis back in 2005, believe low-interest rates could be creating new bubbles in say gold or commodities.
So it seems clear what the Fed is likely to do. How the economy, the militias and the rest of us react is up in the air. The count down is on. T minus 15 days to Fedamageddon. See you there, hopefully.
Now I don't know what the Fed will or will not do. Based on past experience, you can just about guarantee that what it does will a. be unconstitutional and b. make things worse.
The interesting thing here is that a major magazine is speaking about the militia movement in terms that admit its potential power and the assumption of the role of counterbalance to government tyranny.
They're starting to get the Founders' point.