Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Four more years: domestic edition

(myspace pals: yep, it's a repost from there. sorry.)

So Bush won. I'm gonna go through the major issues and tells ya what I thinks (sorry, I'm still in the-sky-is-falling mode. This'll probably be heavily edited or amended as I mellow out).

Structure of political power: By this, I mean primarily the balance between federal and state government. This one is probably a wash, which is one reason many bona fide conservatives had real problems with Bush (dems historically being the great agents of centralizing government). He's been a tireless proponent of sucking up power into the federal sphere that had hitherto been considered the right of the states to exercise. IMHO, this is the biggest ideological break between Bush's political philosophy and classic conservative political philosophy. I'll probably delve into this in greater detail later tonite when I should be studying.

Economy: The net economy should show progress. I'm sure that it'll pick up speed and do fine eventually. My concern, though, is with the distributive effects of Bush's policies, which aren't captured by net numbers. Several of Bush's econ policies have a detrimentally regressive effect; in other words, the poor get hit harder. If this were true, though, wouldn't we have seen a widening of the rich/poor gap in the past four years? Yep. And that's exactly what we saw. Between Bush's trade policies (which hurt the poor by eliminating jobs that have historically been points of entry into the middle class) and his tax policies (which disproportionately impact the poor, with the result that their savings rates have plunged to all time lows, while their personal debt rates have soared to all time highs), this gap will increase. Further, due to the skyrocketing deficit, the dollar will probably grow increasingly weak as the government struggles to service its debt. Who gets fucked by a weakened dollar? Poorer people, who are only able to maintain a reasonable standard of living through the purchasing power of the dollar. A weaker dollar, for all intents and purposes, is another form of regressive tax.

Perhaps I shouldn't care; after all, I'll be in that upper class of people that stand to gain the most. But, I have this conscience thing that I just can't shake.

So between distributive regressivity and the combination of lost union jobs with a lack of state support for unionization of new sectors, we're well on our way to a two-tier system of professionals and service workers. But, JP, you might ask, is that so bad? And I say it's worse than you can imagine: take a look at McDonald's employees. Walk in, and stare at them for a good 10 minutes. They're all ugly, aren't they? Bush isn't just going to make the poor poorer, he's going to make them uglier.

Civil Rights: I think we can safely say that abortion rights are in serious trouble. Any justices he appoints better be in the mood for the ugliest battle they've ever seen, because it'll get nasty. If my man Schumer can't keep the Dem senators from losing their backbones, abortion will most likely get the whammo. Ordinarily, I'd say "whatever. That's why I moved to the east coast, so my state legislature wouldn't exercise their new-found power to ban abortion." The problem, though, lies at the juncture of Bush's substantive conservativism (abortion is bad) and his procedural liberalism (strong central government). The danger, which was evidenced in the dubious commerce clause section of the ban on dilation & extraction abortion (partial birth abortion, for the brainwashed among you), is that the US Congress may just try to ban it all, lock-stock-and-barrel.

On the whole, there's stuff that worries me, but enough of it is contingent on other things happening that I'm not in panic mode.