Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Legitimacy: The Unemployment Bomb, Obama in Moscow and blocking the fatal blow.

Unemployed in the Thirties.

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.

Says Woodhill:

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.



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.


Larry said...

We aren't going to block that blow at the ballot box with all the vote rigging, fraud and diebold voting machines. We have got to organize, mobilize and execute the fatal blow to tyranny.

Anonymous said...

But NO Fort Sumters, right?

Dutchman6 said...

Anonymous said...
"But NO Fort Sumters, right?"


rexxhead said...

I've always held adverse positions and this time is no different.

We can easily afford to dump 90% of our nuclear capability with zero (yes, zero) chance that Russia will take advantage of it.

That has always been true. In the 70s, nuking Kansas and Nebraska was the last thing anyone in Russia would have contemplated, propaganda to the contrary notwithstanding. Reason: our midwest kept the USSR fed from October to May for nearly every one of the 75 years it existed. In many ways, that's still true

Maybe they're evil, but they're not stupid.

Do they want us to stop "projecting force around the globe"? Oh, yes, because they know it destabilizes us almost as much as it destabilizes the target nation, and a destabilized USofA is not a good thing for anyone who's looking to do business with us -- and Russia really wants to do business with us.

It may look a lot like "political maneuvering" but it's more likely to be "enlightened self-interest".

Sean said...

Preventing the "Fort Sumter Syndrome" from arising should prove just about as easy as preventing the first one was. It will just happen, and that will be it. It's nice to not want to blunder, but then life seems to be an unending series of them. It sure as hell won't be me what does it, but counting the millions of variables and people, it's just a matter of time.

daniel said...

So far as avoiding the Fort Sumpters goes, I think the most proactive action we could take would be deterrence. I think the current gangster govt could be forced to withdraw to within the borders of it's constitutional box through the intelligent organization of armed but peaceful protests and the gangsters could be kept in their box until the next elections. Armed but peaceful protest demonstrations wouldn't be Fort Sumpters would they? I don't think there will be any decisive blows from either side any time soon, though. The "next step" has to be economic resistance after the failure of the ballot and soap boxes. You can't jump straigt from ballot and soap box failure to the "cartrige box." Economic resistance, and possibly armed but peaceful demonstrations have be the beginning of any "force continuum."

steve said...

daniel, your "middle ground" assumes at least a minimal respect for our constitutional framework of limited govmt. Do you really believe that the current crop in DC recognize any limits on what they are allowed to do? They won't even think about limits when things get worse. So they are more than capable of ignoring the Constitution, declaring martial law, confiscating personal property or doing something else equally as stupid to ignite what you want to avoid? You clearly have more faith in their restraint that I do.

pdxr13 said...

Power of the ballot is most effective at the local level: Township and County. When you get to the State level (except in low-population and physically-small States), it's difficult to know enough people or have them know you without big money/distant money and corruption/co-option creeping in.

At the local level, paper ballots can be counted and recounted with trusted observers for a reasonable amount of money per count.

At the local level, in an odd-numbered year (no national or State offices on the ballot), a thousand reliable voters on your side from pavement pounding and talking on porches makes a huge difference. Shoes and hat required, but not big money for adverts.

In a place like Portland Oregon, where the Mayor is a confessed LIAR (who wants to work hard on teenage boys --in the future promised to be over 18 years old-- and keep doing the people's business of building Neverland North) and has a City Council who seems to not be concerned. We will recall him and then begin to politically destroy his co-conspirators.

These are hard times, with less income for the City than 1999. They are planning huge projects like sports stadium remodels and constructions, as well as continuing the boondoggles of light rail, illegal alien job recruiting "centers", and trolley projects to make the City seem "more European" to tourists. Doesn't Europe have 30% unemployment and $9/gal gasoline, too? The pdx City Solution is higher taxes and "jobs" that cost $800K per year to make. The jobs made are all insider deals for brothers/cousins of connected contractors.

The Mayor/CC is first, then the County/Port Authority/Tri-County Metropolitan District. If we win all of these, the State will almost fix itself.

daniel said...

Steve, what I am suggesting in no way depends upon govts respect for the constitution or anything else. Its a force continuum which would give us the legitimacy of being able to say we did all we could. Either deterrence works or it doesn't. But you have to exhaust all legal, and then illegal but non violent means, before shooting. If economic resistance or non-violent but armed protests were met by the govt with force, then THEY would be committing the "Fort Sumpter" act. THEY would be put into that spot on OUR timetable. We have to have a way to have some control over the timing and be able to take the initiative, but avoid committing Ft Sumpter ourselves. Gradual "escalation" along a force continuum seems more sensible than sitting back and waiting.

Anonymous said...

FWIW, the conduct of 'armed but peaceful protests' would be the gasoline. The spark would be the 'agent provocateur' who fired the first round on the federal watchers or some civilian bystander, most likely a child or elderly person, and after the ensuing fire fight, no matter who won, the demonization would begin by the 'main stream' media of those who were 'armed, but peaceful protestors'.

I happen to agree that A: Intent should be not to have/allow any Fort Sumter incidents, B: Recognize that it most likely will happen no matter the restraint by the 3%, even if the incident is 'manufactured', and C: until that time comes, we should be training our asses off because as Concerned Citizen has said on his blog, WRSA, 1. We're Screwed 2. There's gonna be a fight. 3. Let's win.

Just my .02

daniel said...

Anonymous, I agree it would be gasoline, but I think it would make some sense as the very last step in a force continuum with legal economic resistance coming first, civil disobedient/ illegal econ resistance coming next, and, finally, large, public gatherings of individuals exercising their right to assemble and their right to bear arms simultaneously. Media coverage would at least be assured, some live TV footage would make it out and reporters would be on scene. Yes, you cant control what the media is going to say, but, the alternative is to have the "gasoline" situation take place at a home or in the woods somewhaere with NO media coverage whatsoever. With absolutely no reporters on site, the JBT's press conference would be the only media outlet on the scene. Look at Iran '79 or '09, Tianenman square '89, or the Soviet failed coup of '91. That stuff didn't take place in the woods, it happened in the streets for all the world to see.