The Environmentalist Gospel

A new, thoroughly twenty-first century threat to domestic harmony is emerging, reports The Independent. “In some relationships, it is said to be causing as much discord as those age-old battlegrounds, sex and money. The problem is environmental incompatibility.”

Therapists across America are reporting a sharp increase in what they call “green disputes”. Couples are finding it increasingly difficult to agree about how much their little unit should contribute to that great cause of our age, the saving of the planet.

The Independent‘s Terence Blacker, fortunately, provides a little common sense as we shake our heads and wonder what has gotten into people. “The high priests and priestesses should, for the sake of their case, give the rest of us a break,” he writes. “All this scolding, bossiness and moral superiority is not only bad for relationships, but it does more harm than good to the planet. Spreading guilt is never a good way to convert souls, even to the great secular faith of our times.”

An interesting choice of words on Blacker’s part for environmentalism is increasingly becoming a dogma uncontested in media and academics.

As early as 1995, in Acton Institute’s Religion & Liberty (Volume 5, Number 2), Robert H. Nelson, a professor of environmental policy, warned against what he called “The Ecological Gospel“. Infuriated with Christian sentiment, environmentalists in the United States more than ten years ago preached against the progress of the modern age already, which, according to them, “has not meant the advance of mankind, but has instead plunged human beings into evil ways,” as Nelson put it. They denounce our modern day consumer society and like to think of human beings as a “cancer” on the planet. Our “addiction to growth,” they insist, “will destroy us all.”

Apocalypse hasn’t quite unfolded yet though 2012 Scare is a recent example of popular fright that environmental collapse is imminent nonetheless. That belief is only enforced by opinion- and policymakers the world over who threaten that life as we know it will come to an end unless we do something, now. The end is nigh, they cry, and we better repent for our environmentalist sins. Back in the 1990s, Nelson knew that “the wide fears of recent years about global warming […] have more to do with religion than science.”

The heating of the earth, global warming alarmists tell us, will melt the polar ice caps, raise the seas, and thereby cause widespread flooding. Higher temperatures will parch the land, creating famine. Global warming will alter the normal weather patterns of the earth, bringing on drought. Perhaps it will encourage insects and bacteria, spreading disease. Flooding, famine, drought, pestilence, all are the traditional instruments of a wrathful God imposing a just punishment on a world of many sinners.

“In environmental theology, the traditional Judeo-Christian categories of good and evil have been replaced by ‘natural’ and ‘unnatural’,” a phenomena that is all the more powerful today as companies “go green” while more and more “eco-friendly” products turn up in our shopping carts. It would appear that many have forgotten that it were chemicals, synthetics and the exploitation of the Earth that allowed us to reach our current state of civilization and luxury in the first place.

Denouncing industry and the progress that it has brought man is not the way to overcome climate change. Yet, as Nelson dreaded, “environmental policies often are not shaped by pragmatic concerns of how to improve human welfare. Instead, [they] follow a logic grounded in an environmental theology” which loves everything “natural” and abhors all that is anti-nature. Thus windmills, for instance, though hardly economical, are subsidized with hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ dollars while lawmakers try to ban everything that pollutes. Increasingly, the state acts as a protector, not of its citizenry, but of nature, making life more difficult for the common man in the process.

The majority of the people, “who simply want a clean and attractive environment,” according to Nelson, “are paying a high price — many tens of billions of dollars — for their current willingness to leave much of environmental policy making to those people who see it as a religious crusade.”

Obama the Jeffersonian

The only constant about President Obama’s foreign policy so far seems to be its reception. Conservatives dread the end of American ascendency and wonder out loud whether Obama is projecting weakness while the Europeans are supposedly upset about the current administration not paying them enough attention.

The truth is that a series of early hiccups abroad coupled with ever increasing Republican opposition at home is imposing caution upon the administration. “Democratic foreign policy observers predict that a weakened domestic political position will make Obama inclined to be more selective in choosing when and with whom to engage,” reports Politico‘s Laura Rozen, “focusing on opportunities where he can demonstrate success over more ambitious but less certain efforts, such as trying to achieve Middle East peace.”

The president admitted that his approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was misguided and in fact hampered the peace process instead of advancing it. Rozen links to an article in Spiegel, Germany’s leading opinion magazine, which declares that Obama “will have to fundamentally re-think his political course.” That is a bit of an overstatement, perhaps, for one lost Senate seat does not diminish the entire Democrats’ agenda. It is symptomatic however of a growing animosity toward the president and his party and a lack of foreign policy results is in part to blame.

The administration got off to a decent start. It “strategically reassured” China rather than treating it like a future advisary. Still, Sino-American relations are shaky and China increasingly focuses on its own backyard, recently signing a free-trade agreement with ASEAN as some American commentators continue to cry havoc.

Obama sought a new start with Russia and while a renewed nuclear arms treaty is underway, the Russian Bear still roars, interfering in its former satelite states and trying to conquer the Arctic.

Lastly, in Afghanistan, the president initiated a surge reminiscent of the strategy that worked so well in Iraq, but Pakistan, although part of the administration’s thinking on the war, is a mess, increasingly plagued by terrorist attacks and goverment corruption. Moreover, Obama is torn between supporting Pakistan and deepening the American alliance with India. The latter is of far greater importance in the long run but he can’t have both.

At the core of his shortcomings, opines Walter Russel Mead in Foreign Policy, is Obama’s “split personality when it comes to foreign policy.” The president is “not only buffeted by strong political headwinds,” he notes, “but also pulled in opposing directions by two of the major schools of thought that have guided American foreign-policy debates since colonial times.”

There are basically four different world views among American president and policymakers: the Hamiltonian, named after the first treasury secretary and reiterating his position that government should promote economic growth and protect the interests of American business at home and abroad; the Wilsonian, which stands with the Hamiltonian but stresses democracy and human rights as primary American export products; the Jeffersonian, which dissents from the aforementioned views and seeks to minimize American commitments overseas; and the Jacksonian, populistic and “suspicious” as Mead puts it, “of Hamiltonian business links, Wilsonian do-gooding, and Jeffersonian weakness.”

Moderate Republicans tend to be Hamiltonians. Move right toward the Sarah Palin range of the party and the Jacksonian influence grows. Centrist Democrats tend to be interventionist-minded Wilsonians, while on the left and the dovish side they are increasingly Jeffersonian, more interested in improving American democracy at home than exporting it abroad.

After 9/11, the Jacksonians demanded action. George W. Bush’s presidency was “defined by an effort to bring Jacksonians and Wilsonians into a coalition.” The failure of this approach “created the context that made the Obama presidency possible.” Obama comes from the Jeffersonian wing of the Democratic Party, which would like to see the costs and risks involved in efforts overseas reduced, while holding dear the more Wilsonian idealism of shaping of the world in America’s image.

Portrait of Thomas Jefferson by Rembrandt Peale, 1800
Portrait of Thomas Jefferson by Rembrandt Peale, 1800

According to Obama, the United States can best spread freedom and democracy by providing a good example of it. He said so much in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech when he declared that America should be the “standard-bearer” of civilization.

And therein lies the rub: “While Wilsonians believe that no lasting stability is possible in a world filled with dictatorships, Jeffersonians like Obama argue that even bad regimes can be orderly international citizens if the incentives are properly aligned.” Hence Obama’s “soft power” approach to otherwise hostile regimes as Iran and North Korea and the “scrupulous caution” with which his administration has behaved in Latin America so far, lest it provoke any sort of confrontation with the “Bolivarian” states of Venezuela, Ecuador, and Bolivia.

In spite of Obama’s “split personality” some progress has been made — perhaps, in part, thanks to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who has no desire for renewed isolationism. It seems that merely a year after Obama took office, many have forgotten already how badly American prestige was left shattered by the last Bush Administration. President Obama did much to restore traditional alliances and America’s appeal to moral leadership in the world. His failure to bring about much concrete with regards to China and Russia so far is in part to blame on President Bush’s neglect of relations with both superpowers throughout his two terms in office.

Mead is optimistic nonetheless. He calls Obama’s an “ambitious and an attractive vision. Success,” he believes, “would reduce the level of international tension even as the United States scales back its commitments.”

It’s no easy task though. “The other schools are generally skeptical about reducing American commitments. Wilsonians interpret Jeffersonian restraint as moral cowardice” whereas the Jacksonians like to think of it as “cowardice pure and simple.” Lastly, the Hamiltonians might be willing to go along with restraint for some time “but sooner or later they attack Jeffersonians for failing to develop and project sufficient American power in a dangerous world.” On top of political opposition, there is the American people who “perceive problems all over the world.” A Jeffersonian response is likely to strike them as “too passive.”

Even if Obama succeeds only partly in bringing back some Jeffersonian influence, he will provide a necessary element of caution and restraint in American foreign policy, preventing “imperial overstretch” by ensuring that America’s ends are proportionate to its means.

We need this vision today more than ever: If Obama’s foreign policy collapses — whether sunk by Afghanistan or conflicts not yet foreseen — into the incoherence and reversals that ultimately marked Carter’s well-meaning but flawed approach, it will be even more difficult for future presidents to chart a prudent and cautious course through the rough seas ahead.

Future Surface Combatant and Other Myths

This is the second part in a series of reports on the current state of the Royal Navy. The first entry focused on the expeditionary tool of the Royal Navy’s future force; the aircraft carrier. This article discusses the Future Surface Combatant and the effectiveness of modular versus “hardwired” vessels.

Earlier this week, the blog War is Boring reported on the development of the Royal Navy’s Future Surface Combatant while the Royal United Services Institute featured an article (PDF) about the very same subject in their February Defence Systems. In the short month since my last post new events have occurred within Procurement planning circles which directly influence the future of the Royal Navy and pose some interesting points to the wider community interested in naval and security affairs.

I had first heard of the Future Surface Combatant (FSC) in a lecture presented by a former Royal Navy officer on the current and future capability of the Royal Navy in October, so already had an inkling of what to expect in both the RUSI’s article and the basic but informative War is Boring entry. Not much. Both are scant in regards the nuts and bolts of a complex defense project. Read more “Future Surface Combatant and Other Myths”

Economic Freedom in 2010

Empire State Building New York
The Empire State Building in Manhattan, New York (Unsplash/Gaurav Pikale)

As the global recession took hold of the world last year, free-market capitalism increasingly came under persecution. Much of the industrialized world accepted an expansion of government power over the economy in the form of greater oversight, tightening financial regulation and sharper labor laws. Taxes went on the rise consequently, targeting especially the supposed perpetrators of the meltdown: bankers and big business, although they were hardly to blame for the situation.

The 2010 Index of Economic Freedom published by the Washington-based Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal reflects these changes as countries formerly steeped in the free-market tradition have fallen on the scale, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States foremost among them. Read more “Economic Freedom in 2010”

Haiti’s Avoidable Death Toll

Some expect Haiti’s 7.0 earthquake death toll to reach over 200,000 lives. Why the high death toll? Northern California’s 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake was more violent, measuring 7.1 on the Richter scale, resulting in 63 deaths and 3,757 injuries. The 1906 San Francisco earthquake measured 7.8 on the Richter scale, about eight times more violent than Haiti’s, and cost 3,000 lives.

As tragic as the Haitian calamity is, it is merely symptomatic of a far deeper tragedy that’s completely ignored, namely self-inflicted poverty. The reason why natural disasters take fewer lives in our country is because we have greater wealth. It’s our wealth that permits us to build stronger homes and office buildings. When a natural disaster hits us, our wealth provides the emergency personnel, heavy machinery and medical services to reduce the death toll and suffering. Haitians cannot afford the life-saving tools that we Americans take for granted. President Barack Obama called the quake “especially cruel and incomprehensible.” He would be closer to the truth if he had said that the Haitian political and economic climate that make Haitians helpless in the face of natural disasters are “especially cruel and incomprehensible.”

The biggest reason for Haiti being one of the world’s poorest countries is its restrictions on economic liberty. Let’s look at some of it. According to the 2009 Index of Economic Freedom, authorization is required for some foreign investments, such as in electricity, water, public health and telecommunications. Authorization requires bribing public officials and, as a result, Haiti’s monopolistic telephone services can at best be labeled primitive. That might explain the difficulty Haitian Americans have in finding out about their loved ones.

Corruption is rampant. Haiti ranks 177th out of 179 countries in the 2007 Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index. Its reputation as one of the world’s most corrupt countries is a major impediment to doing business. Customs officers often demand bribes to clear shipments. The Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom says that because of burdensome regulations and bribery, starting a business in Haiti takes an average of 195 days, compared with the world average of 38 days. Getting a business license takes about five times longer than the world average of 234 days — that’s over three years.

Crime and lawlessness are rampant in Haiti. The United States Department of State of State website, long before the earthquake, warned, “There are no “safe” areas in Haiti. […] Kidnapping, death threats, murders, drug-related shootouts, armed robberies, home break-ins and car-jacking are common in Haiti.” The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade warns its citizens that, “The level of crime in Haiti is very high and the police have little ability to enforce laws. Local authorities often have limited or no capacity to provide assistance, even if you are a victim of a serious crime.” Crime anywhere is a prohibitive tax on economic development and the poorest people are its primary victims.

Private property rights are vital to economic growth. The Index of Economic Freedom reports that “Haitian protection of investors and property is severely compromised by weak enforcement, a paucity of updated laws to handle modern commercial practices, and a dysfunctional and resource-poor legal system.” That means commercial disputes are settled out of court often through the bribery of public officials; settlements are purchased.

The way out of Haiti’s grinding poverty is not rocket science. Ranking countries according to: (1) whether they are more or less free market, (2) per capita income, and (3) ranking in International Amnesty’s human rights protection index, we would find that those nations with a larger free-market sector tend also to be those with the higher income and greater human rights protections. Haitian President Rene Preval is not enthusiastic about free markets; his heroes are none other than the hemisphere’s two brutal communist tyrants: Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and Cuba’s Fidel Castro.

Haiti’s disaster demands immediate Western assistance but it’s only the Haitian people who can relieve themselves of the deeper tragedy of self-inflicted poverty.

This story first appeared at Creators Syndicate, January 20, 2010.

Obama on the Middle East: “Really Hard”

After President Obama delivered a much praised speech in Cairo, Egypt last year in which he called upon the Muslim world to end “the cycle of suspicion and discord,” his administration made little progress in the Middle Eastern peace progress. The president’s credibility with both Israelis and Palestinians “diminished” as his demand that Israel freeze settlement construction failed to bring about the desired result. Special envoy to the region George Mitchell promised to deliver peace in two years but doesn’t appear to have achieved anything concrete yet.

In an interview with Joe Klein of The New York Times, the president admitted that the “process has not moved forward” while Mitchell, he claimed, “got blinded” by the progress he saw from the Israelis, not realizing that it wasn’t enough for the Palestinian leadership.

“Even for a guy like George Mitchell who helped bring about the peace in Northern Ireland,” the Middle Eastern conflict “is just really hard,” according to Obama. The political situation in both Israel and the Palestinian territories made it “very hard for them to start engaging in a meaningful conversation.” Read more “Obama on the Middle East: “Really Hard””

Spheres of Waning Influence

Whenever a new non-Western alliance is formed somewhere in the world, Western commentators are quick to regard it as a threat to Western interests and security. Whereas the economic integration of the European Union and the military cooperation within NATO are considered to have significantly advanced peace and stability on both sides of the Atlantic, similar arrangements made independently of Western interference are regarded warily.

This is shortsighted and ignores how much the West stands to benefit from the copycat behavior of the Rest.

EU imitators

Oftentimes, international cooperation outside Europe and North America is pursued in defiance of perceived Western pressure. The South American Mercosur and Southeast Asia’s ASEAN are both free-trade blocks structured on the European model, founded in part to strengthen their members’ ability to resist the demands of the IMF and the World Bank which for decades have dictated economic policy to these nations.

The irony is that once freed from the Washington Consensus, these same countries embraced free-market capitalism, be it with some “softening” measures to fight poverty as happens, very successfully, in Brazil, for example.

Other EU imitators are less resistant to the West. The Gulf Cooperative Council, led by Saudi Arabia, is designed to counterbalance Iran and relies heavily on American support — and on Westerners buying its oil.

Sino-Russian competition

Until recently, the most potent of anti-Western alliances appeared to be the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in which both China and Russia take part while India settled for an observer status.

In spite of its stated goals, the SCO has failed to achieve much regional cooperation in the last few years. China has been able to use the platform to project its influence across the region while Russia is reluctant to deepen its participation, writes Alexander Cooley in Foreign Affairs magazine. “Subtle but key differences in the regional security priorities of the two countries have started to play out,” he argues.

Russia regards Central Asia as its “zone of privileged interests.” For the past two decades, Moscow has sought to embed the states of Central Asia in a system of Russia-controlled institutions — the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a mutual defense alliance; the Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC), a customs union; and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), a loose federation of former Soviet countries. At the same time, it has actively worked to block Western actors such as NATO. China, in contrast, has been focused not so much on countering the West as on stabilizing its own western territory: the autonomous province of Xinjiang, which borders the Central Asian states.

At the time when color revolutions swept across Eastern Europe, Beijing and Moscow found their agendas aligned: both feared Western-backed democratization in Central Asia. Russia showed its teeth to prevent further foreign involvement in its former satellite states while China pressed down hard on calls for reform in its hinterland.

But a Sino-Russian split became apparent when the latter invaded Georgia in 2008. Days after a EU-brokered ceasefire went into effect, Russian president Dmitri Medvedev asked the SCO to support the independence of the breakaway Georgian provinces which Russia claimed to defend. China and the other members refused.

“After this diplomatic rebuke,” writes Cooley, “Moscow redoubled its efforts to promote the CSTO, an organization that includes the same Central Asian states but is safely in Russia’s pocket.”

Wary of China’s economic predominance, Russia subsequently sought to block many of its neighbor’s efforts to use the SCO to its own advantage. Chinese premier Wen Jiabao’s proposal to create a SCO free-trade area was met with Russian disapproval. Rather, Moscow champions the existing EurAsEC, which includes Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan — but not China.

Paper tiger

The SCO then is weak and far from the aggressively anti-Western pact is appeared to be a few years ago.

“As such,” writes Cooley, “it makes sense for the United States to work with the SCO to engage China and the Central Asian states on select Afghanistan issues.”

Moreover, Western engagement with the SCO could undercut Russia’s ambitions to dominate the region once again.

As the world moves toward more multilateral cooperation, the West should not stand in its way. The United States will probably lose some of its status and influence, as Western Europe has, but it will remain the uncontested superpower for decades to come.

More importantly, as the Latin American and Southeast Asian states have demonstrated, direct involvement in their development does not encourage them to do as the West did. Rather, allowing these nations to discover the advantages of free markets and shared security on their own is much more effective — and therefore more in the West’s own interest.

The Impossible Joy of Sacrifice

The recent disaster in Haiti has sparked a renewed wave of commentators to demand that men “sacrifice” for the sake of others’ needs. There is little mention of the injustice suffered by the Haitian people at the hands of their own government and, recently, at the hands of nature — which would be legitimate reasons for generosity. Rather, an appeal is made to people’s “altruistic nature” for as New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof puts it, “generosity feels so good.” Indeed, according to Kristof, it is “difficult for humans to be truly selfless.”

Kristof presents readers with an interesting choice. Whom would you rather be, he asks. A successful, healthy 36 year-old businessman who hasn’t married but spends his spare time traveling the Pacific while authoring poetry, or a 64 year-old, overweight retired school assistant who dedicates her time to babysitting and Church charity? The journalist derives his example from the work of Jonathan Haidt, Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia and author of The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom (2005).

The choice, both Haidt and Kristof seem to presume, is obvious. The businessman’s life is “stressful” and “lonely” while “happiness is tied to volunteering.” Moreover, “people with religious faith tend to be happier than those without.” Gaining wealth and advancing one’s career don’t do people any good. “Good works, religion or spirituality, or friends and family” — those are the things worth living for. “Helping others,” notes Kristof, “may be as primal a human pleasure as food or sex.”

The latter is an odd statement and deconstructing it leads one directly to the irrationality of Haidt’s and Kristof’s argument. Unlike food and sex, “helping others” is no requisite for survival. To the contrary, charity typically comes at a personal loss, equating it to sacrifice which is never a pleasure, let alone a “primal” one. That is why the moralists of altruism have to invent all sorts of arguments to justify it. Man is not inclined to sacrifice; he is bound by reality to pursue his own interests for the sake of his own survival.

Happiness is not a state attained at the command of whim. It is a state of non-contradictory joy: a joy devoid of guilt or punishment; a joy that does not clash with one’s values nor work for one’s own destruction. As such, happiness is possible only to men of reason — men who pursue realistic goals and seek to fulfill them by rational means. That fulfillment makes happiness; not the satisfaction of any emotional urges nor the achievement of altruistic virtues imposed upon man by savants who dare claim that happiness is found in its very renunciation.

Yet that is exactly what our aforementioned duo professes. Kristof even draws religion into the equation which, at least, promises a carefree afterlife as reward for the sacrificing that man must endure on this Earth. Later philosophies of altruism, as promulgated by Haidt, do away with this fantasy altogether and declare that sacrifice is its own reward — because it “feels so good”.

Altruism only “feels good” to men infected with the nefarious sense of morality that holds that life is not one’s own; that it belongs to the anonymous mass of humanity that is in need. Sacrifice therefore does not mean merely entail benevolence. It demands the surrender of that which one values in favor of that which one doesn’t.

Helping a friend then is not sacrifice; helping an unknown stranger is. Helping another at no personal expense is not sacrifice; helping another at the cost of one’s own happiness, is.

If that doesn’t make you “feel good,” don’t despair though. Kristof paraphrases John Stuart Mill who “had a point,” according to the columnist, when he suggested that, “It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied.” In other words: the egoist is a “pig” and a “fool” whereas the altruist might not be happy but can at least consider himself a “noble” human being. And “nobility,” writes Kristof, “can lead to happiness” — expect when one holds reason and selfishness and self-esteem as the noblest of virtues, of course.

Helping others or donating to charity should not be done out of a misplaced sense of responsibility or guilt for one’s own accomplishments. Emotions are the products of man’s values and man’s pride and should on themselves never be called upon to justify any course of action. Justice is the only righteous motive for charity. Only if the person or people profiting from one’s help are deserving of it can such help be in accordance with a proper morality. Then, by living up to one’s own code and achieving one’s own virtues, will generosity truly “feel good”.

Punishing Banks Won’t Work

We’re not the only ones opposing President Obama’s recently announced Financial Crisis Responsibility Fee, the new tax on “big” Wall Street banks that is to pay for the billions of dollars thrust into the financial system by the American government since the recession begun.

Where we argued against the morality of the tax, Nicole Gelinas, author of After the Fall: Saving Capitalism from Wall Street — and Washington (2009) explains in the New York Post why it won’t work.

The administration is trying to address public outrage over bankers’ bonuses but people aren’t just upset over the money that’s being made on Wall Street. “They’re angry,” writes Gelinas, that the bonuses are “going to people at firms that got bailed out last year as ‘too big to fail’.”

In other words, the public’s angry that the government’s made the financial industry immune from consistent market discipline. Small businesses go under if their owners make catastrophic mistakes — but shareholders of failed insurer AIG live to see another day.

“The popular impulse is right,” says Gelinas. The financial sector must realize that bankruptcies will happen when warranted. That, she notes, is the best defense against bank failures — not more regulation. Indeed, the “too-big-to-fail fee” will achieve the very opposite.

All imposing this fee will do is hammer home the idea in bondholders’ minds that the firms […] are too big to fail, that the government will bail them out again the next time they screw up.

Freeing banks from the safety net of “oversight” benefits them as well as their customers. As we noted before, “In a truly free market, failure is possible and consumers are aware of the risk — with the result that they rationally and voluntarily assume less of it.”

Krugman Says: Spend More!

Since the early days of the Obama Administration, economist Paul Krugman has been more than eager to defend every spending measure enacted by the Democrats newly in office.

Writing in August of last year, Krugman credited “big government” with saving the country from a Second Great Depression. While George W. Bush was in power, the economist used to complain about government spending running amok but after Obama moved into the White House, budget deficits were “actually a good thing.”

At the start of the Bush Administration Krugman argued in favor of lowering the interest rate in order to “promote spending on housing.” He even proposed a fiscal stimulus package that “should include only measures that really will promote spending,” he noted. “Giving money to lower-income families would also be sensible.”

Krugman might see things differently but President Bush followed his advice. The interest rate was lowered while the government-sponsored enterprises affectively known as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac facilitated an irrational lending policy that ultimately undermined the whole of the American financial sector to bring about the meltdown of 2008. Banks are blamed but it was government that made the recession.

The answer, predictably, was: more government. At a time when the United States had already to finance two wars in the Middle East, both Democrats and Republicans approved of bailing out not only banks but much of the auto industry as well. Although journalists predicted that banks would mostly abuse the infamous Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and although even Congress found (PDF) that it had in no way stimulated America’s ailing housing market, Krugman relishes in the “deliberate efforts of the government to pump up the economy.” Indeed, just a few months ago, he declared that the world “would be better off if governments were willing to run even larger deficits over the next year or two.”

This week, the High Priest of Keynesianism reiterated that sentiment, complaining that the stimulus was “too small”. He in part turned his back on his own party, claiming that the Obama Administration was “wrong” to think that more spending wasn’t “necessary.”

Still, at least the Democrats favor spending before anything else, right? “And aren’t you glad that right now the government is being run by people who don’t hate government?” Even though they are saddling up the American people with debts that their unborn great-grandchildren might, if lucky, be able to pay off. But who really cares about the future? As the grand master himself once professed, “In the long run we are all dead.”