The State of Play

Question: What are the serious challenges the United States currently faces?

Hint: The answer does not include specifying pronouns.

The answers should be more than obvious. (1) America faces perhaps the most important foreign policy challenges it has ever faced. (2) America’s public finances border on catastrophic and need to be put on a corrective path before it is too late. (3) The mono-culture being promoted by elite institutions is not only an affront to the primacy of reason; it is illiberal and authoritarian.

Let us consider each of these challenges in turn.

Foreign Policy

Through arms sales and financial support we are indirect participants in both Ukraine’s war of self-defense against Russian aggression and in Israel’s war of self defense against Hamas. We are also an ally of Taiwan and the Philippines, both of which are increasingly threatened by China. In any of these situations, we could easily be drawn into playing an active military role.

Note that arrayed against the liberal democracies of the West plus Japan and South Korea, is an alliance of authoritarian and militaristic regimes. Russia, China, Iran and North Korea are supplying various types of aid to each other, as well as to Iran and its proxies Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad and other Islamist groups. Note too that Hamas, by last count, still holds 9 American hostages as well as over 100 hostages of other nations.

The attacks on American military assets and commercial shipping in the Red Sea make clear that American military power has not served to deter Houthi aggression in Yemen (another Iranian proxy group). Nor has China been dissuaded from building up its military capability in the South China Sea where it continues to harass Taiwanese and Philippine assets.

Add to this the fact that the Biden Administration was unaware of the location of the Secretary of Defense for going on a week while the US was actively engaged in shooting down drone and missile attacks in the Middle East. And that Republicans, egged on By Donald Trump, have increasingly adopted an isolationist McGovernite “come home America” attitude toward more funding for Ukrainian aid. And that the Democratic Party, internally riven by barely disguised antisemitism, is rapidly backtracking on its support for Israel.

Add them all up and we have an inchoate foreign policy presided over by a ward healer at a time of maximum risk to national security.

US Public Finance

By the end of Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 accumulated federal debt held by the public grew to about $27 trillion. For FY 2023, the annual US budget deficit grew to between $1.4 trillion (Brookings) and $2 trillion (Tax Foundation). The difference depends on the methodology used for taking into account the Supreme Court’s nixing the Biden Administration’s plan for student debt forgiveness.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the annual deficit will be about $2 trillion per year for the next 10 years. Which implies that we have now budgeted, meaning we have planned as a matter of policy to spend $20 trillion more than we expect to raise through taxation over the next 10 years. That would bring the total debt in public hands at about $47 trillion.

To put this in perspective, consider that current Social Security spending ($1.2 trillion) exceeds the Defense Department budget ($751 billion) and is about the same as Medicare spending ($747 billion). Those figures do not include Medicaid. Nor do they include what the government euphemistically calls income support programs.

It should be blindingly clear that this is simply unsustainable. Not only is it unsustainable from a financial standpoint; if the United States remains on its current fiscal path, it will be unable to modernize the military to meet the challenges presented by an expanding array of illiberal and hostile nation-states.

Further we ought to at least be cognizant of the fact that the fiscal situation we are in is taking place during a period of historically low 3.7%unemployment and relative low interest rates (notwithstanding the wailing in the press). As a result, in the event of a recession the US has precious little macro-economic maneuvering room.

The solution to the military-readiness problem is clear. Increase military spending sufficient to attain military readiness. The solution to the fiscal situation is equally clear. (1) Reform entitlement programs, primarily by raising the retirement age for payouts to begin. (2) Reduce social spending. (3) Simplify and flatten the rates in the tax code. (4) Deregulate the economy.

It is difficult to imagine the 4 reforms listed above becoming law because, among other things, we have a bipartisan agreement of whistling past the graveyard to avoid even suggesting curbing the free stuff the citizens mistakenly believe they are actually getting for free.

The Political Culture

Which brings up the problem of culture; specifically the nonsense currently being peddled at elite institutions. Under the guise of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) an academic bureaucracy has become the enforcement mechanism for a rigid conformity of acceptable viewpoints.

Speech that doesn’t hew to the DEI line is characterized as “hate speech” and therefore suppressed; facts that put the lie to the party line are supposedly “misinformation” or “disinformation” regardless of accuracy. The judges of all this are the bureaucrats that run the DEI departments and the mob that stands behind them. “My Truth” reigns supreme; “the Truth” doesn’t exist.

As Nietzsche said “There are no facts, only interpretations”. And so what remains is the will to power (also Nietzsche), which the DEI bureaucracy has in spades. Feelings prevail over reason. And for feelings to dominate effectively, force must be used to correct wrong-think.

That is why we have cancel culture, brought to us by elite institutions that serve as our cultural gate-keepers. But they are so prone to fads that we need to be cognizant of what George Orwell once said,”Some ideas are so stupid that only intellectuals believe them”. What else explains college sophomores chanting in favor of Hamas killing babies because you know, babies can be settler-colonialists too.

Let’s not get too depressed about the current state of affairs. It was pretty dreary in 1979 too. Inflation was soaring; the Soviets had invaded Afghanistan; the Iranian government held American hostages. And then along came a guy named Ronald Reagan. And in the end the Soviet Empire collapsed under its own weight with a nudge from the West.

America has to decide whether it wants to step up as it did in 1980. Or whether it wants to elect one of the two ignoramuses who currently lead in the polls. In the end the elections in 2024 will not just be about the fortunes of individual politicians; the elections will tell us what type of America we actually live in.

I intend to vote for Nikki Haley if she gets the Republican nomination for President. If Ron DeSantis gets the nod, I will vote for him. If Trump is the recipient of the nomination, I will write-in Nikki Haley. Under no circumstances will I vote for either Donald Trump or Joe Biden. Let’s see what happens. As Churchill once noted, America always makes the right decisions after exhausting all the alternatives.


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