Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.
Monday, February 19, 2018

SAN FRANCISCO — If the United States were still governed under the Articles of Confederation, might California be in the position of Greece, Spain or Italy?

After all, California has a major budget crisis and all sorts of difficulties governing itself. Its initiative system allows voters to mandate specific forms of spending and to limit tax increases and also make them harder to enact. Absent a strong federal government with the power to offset the impact of the recession and the banking crisis, how would California fare in a global financial system?

OK, no metaphor is perfect, and there’s a compelling case that this sprawling and economically diverse state would perform better in the global economy than the beleaguered nations of southern Europe. Moreover, Gov. Jerry Brown deserves credit for trying to get a handle on the California budget crisis. He’s going to the voters this fall with a referendum to raise about $8 billion in taxes to stave off further cuts. Without the money, Brown says, education spending would have to be slashed beyond the cutbacks that have already taken effect.

But the metaphor is instructive because it turns on its head the usual nonsense from anti-government politicians that the United States is on the road to becoming Greece. No, we’re not. Our issues are entirely different. To the extent that the crisis in Europe has lessons for the United States, they go the other way.

12 Responses to E.J. Dionne: We’re Not Greece

  1. You know, if you are wrong about this, there is one thing you are right about. We are not Greece. Greece is a very small country, and despite its very large problems (caused by spending gone wild according to some very good experts, even some Keysnian economists who correctly say that *prolonged* spending is *not* what their model is about) there was someone there who could bail them out. Now whether or not the EU will continue to bail them out, or just cut them loose has yet to be seen, but the point is that there is nobody big enough to bail US out. China can’t do it. They warn again and again, (yes out of their own self interest) for us to slow our spending down. If and When the Dollar collapses, their biggest market will dry up almost instantly. Why? Because that Happy Meal Toy that McDonalds use to get for about 5 cents will cost 50 cents, right out of the gates. With the prices of everything going up, nobody is going to want to pay that extra amount, and Sales of Everything will go down. Funny thing is this: Keysnian economic models can predict this: Their fundamental tenet is that more spending creates job growth by *increasing* the demand for goods. Hyperinflation causes just the opposite effect. That is demonstrated again and again, historically. Greece is just the latest to suffer that fate because they thought themselves immune to the lessons of history. Look to the collapse of Rome. On many lines we reflect that great society of its day, even to the point of thinking we are economically invincible, and immune to the fates of those who went down this road before us.

    We won’t have to wait for our grandchildren to inherit the problems with our *consistent* and *sustained* over-spending, (which is *contrary* to Keysnian economics, I will add) but it will fall on our heads sooner than we can see with our heads in the sand as they collectively are.

    And as for the Republican bashing comment of William Deutschlander, I ask you to take a look at the current extreme Leadership of the Democratic Party as opposed to the Leadership of Bill Clinton, who was not and is not the extremist Barack Obama is. Let me give you a definition of Autocracy:

    An autocracy is a system of government in which a supreme political power is concentrated in the hands of one person, whose decisions are subject to neither external legal restraints nor regularized mechanisms of popular control (except perhaps for the implicit threat of coup d’état or mass insurrection).

    I have to only look at the recent actions of our President to see that he may think he is above the Law. I do think his actions reverberate with those of another man in history. Richard Nixon. If there is an argument for a party exhibiting Autocratic Tendencies, William needs to look no further. There is a saying about living in glass houses and throwing stones, but I guess he has not learned the lesson yet, so is doomed to repeat it.

    If we are going to do Party Labeling, (which is common practice here — I mean the articles themselves do it with great gusto!) how about this one:

    National Socialism. The fundamental premise of that philosophy is “State Control of the Economy” which is *exactly* what the extreme (and currently controlling) branch of the Democratic Party is all about. While it is not the classic model of Nazi Germany yet, which included extreme authoritarian and racist views on top of strong nationalist views, don’t think that party can’t go there. Look to the Democratic Party of the 1960’s. Sad to say, they *were* the racist Party of their time. Look at how Nixon, for all his flaws, started the EPA and forced desegregation of the South to a degree that the prior Democratic Presidency would not. The KKK came out of another extreme branch of the Democratic Party. And they are looking more and more authoritarian with each passing day under Obama’s guidance. So one is foolish to say that the Democratic Party is, and always was and will be, the party that some think it to currently be.

    • Lyle, the Democratic Pary in fact had the KKK as a wing. Goldwater and the GOP raised fears about civil rights to cause the “Dixiecrats” to jump parties in the late ’60s, and the majority of those racist conservatives went to the GOP. Only a few stalwarts (Robert Byrd and Strom Thurmond come to mind, and they both apologized for their earlier actions) maintained their party affiliation. Nixon aides then developed the Southern Strategy to use these disaffected voters to win the presidency.

      And yes Nixon had a broader civil rights platform than Johnson. Johnson fought his own party’s prejudice to open the doors, and achieved more than Truman, Eisenhower, or Kennedy did before him. Admirably, Nixon built on those gains rather than retreating from them.

      Eisenhower put the first troops into Indochina, Nixon brought the last troops out. The GOP changes too.

    • Lyle, sorry but you simply do not know your history. You are right on one thing, and that is BEFORE the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964 under Democratic President Johnson, the Dixicrats were conservative. But as soon as the Civil Rights Act was passed the vast majority of southern Democrats moved to the Republican Party. That is why today the KKK vote Republican.

      • Patricia, you are right but I see many posters make these same claims about the KKK. They simply have not researched the entire story. I have lived in Alabama for almost 70 years and know some about this first hand.

    • Historical inaccuracies in your post lead me to believe that you have not kept up-to-date on events for the past 50 or 60 years. Sloppy research puts your entire composition in a unflattering light. You profess to be a free thinker but then regurgitate GOP talking points and finish off with the ever popular, but incorrect, KKK myth.

  2. Still sitting in a darkened room trying to read the eye chart. It’s interesting to us sitting outside the circus to see how calm you remain as you continually piss-off an enormous percentage of your population that are heavily armed.

  3. I do not write for those who will just attack me for the sake that I opposed their talking points. So flame away, it will avail you naught. I write for those who will investigate what I say. Some will say: “I don’t watch CNN (or Fox News, or whatever) because of their bias.” Well, I watch them all, and investigate with as open a mind as I can muster. Those who would do as I try to do are the ones I am trying to engage. The rest of you are a lost cause, just like the Jack Booted Brown Shirts that dutifully march in step with all of their respective camps, whether that be Republican, Democrat, or any other organization that you identify with.

    Another stone that can be thrown against both parties is the Label of Fascism.

    It is a is a radical authoritarian nationalist political ideology. One party more than the other adheres to the concept that government should be designed to initiate a revolution from above and to organize the nation upon fascist principles. The other seems inclined more towards the idea that the state should purge forces, ideas, people, and systems deemed to be the cause of decadence and degeneration. Both of the major political parties have some tendency towards these fascist goals. Look up fascism. Look at the main parties. Think on what that means to you. Both have different points of emphasis, but both seek to limit your freedom by regulations designed to explicitly define, in finer and finer detail, exactly what you can and cannot do. Both are self justifying and self perpetuating. Take off the blinders. They may not be limiting anything you care about today, but there is no sense in thinking that you can’t be their target for the future. Politicians are out for power and control. Statesmen are out for the good of the people. Sad to say it, but we put politicians rather than statesmen in power, and we reap what we sow. We need to wake up and scrutinize everyone in power. The best revolution is the peaceful one, but where the peaceful revolution (that our forefathers tried to give us a way to accomplish) fails, take heed. Sooner or later the revolution will come! And that is regardless of whether or not you try to regulate weapons to the point that politicians don’t have to worry about violent revolution. IEDs have been around since before our current time. A hot pot of coffee in a glass container can be a three strike weapon! Fascism will be opposed, and the state will not be able to completely control us forever!

  4. I welcome Dionne’s lucid and articulate analysis of issues while complex is written in a manner that a curious and informed person needs to know.

    Most of the time, people speak in cliches and phrases which have no meaning other then it seems reasonable.

    Thank-you E.J.

    Raymond Lavine
    Gig Harbor, Washington

  5. Mr. Dionne is right. “THE U.S. IS NOT BECOMING GREECE”. This quote should be shown in all U.S. newspapers, made into LARGE BILLBOARDS across this country , and expressed on TV MONITORS in writing my the TV media IN BOLD LETTERS.

    • The U.S. is not becoming Greece, its becoming California! We all pay the price for “illegal immigration” and you know it. When does it stop? They are bleeding us dry with their DEMANDS AND DEPENDENCE on U.S. tazpayers!

Leave a reply