Staring in the Mirror

In a NYT op-ed piece yesterday, Kishore Mahbubani, professor of public policy at the National University of Singapore decries the absence of global leadership at a time of political and economic chaos. The good professor states that there is neither political nor intellectual leadership in the Western world. The elites, he says, are too concerned with maintaining their own privileges, and he singles out America as a country that is imploding, with the worst example of our ineptitude being “the crazy Tea Party episode.”

I agree with Mahbubani’s observation that elites occupying positions of power around the globe are too preoccupied with maintaining their privileges of office to exercise any leadership. These people are oligarchs, after all, and that includes our own “elected” officials (who buy their elections with huge money from corporate oligarchs). The presumptive objective of any oligarch is to hang on to power and privileges.

Where I disagree, is with his notion that we are a dysfunctional government held hostage by crazies. I’ve been dismissive of the Tea Partiers, but I am belatedly recognizing that these folks are totally right in forcing the issue of this nation’s profligacy. For decades we bemoaned the fact that we’re saddling our kids with unconscionable future obligations. But, until the Tea Party came along and was willing to derail the debt train, we just kept on rolling. Here’s what Elliott Wave International reported this month:

During Cycle Wave I (1932-1938) there were zero debt ceiling hikes.

During cycle Wave III (1943-1969) there were 21 separate hikes featuring a 300% increase in the debt ceiling.

During Cycle Wave V (1982 to recently) there was a 3,300% expansion of the debt ceiling on 46 separate hikes.

This has to end. If not now, when? If not us, who?

Free societies always overdo expansion with debt. America did so in the late twenties. It’s a fixable problem.

Grand Supercycle Wave 4, underway now, is when social mood favors doing the right thing. It ain’t going to be pretty. It will be the hardest medicine, but we are going to fix this thing for our kids.

The leader Mahbubani pines for is as yet undiscovered, but is out there somewhere now, waiting for a determined electorate to find this person and give him/her a shot at leading the country to fiscal sanity. I expect it to happen in the November 2016 elections, as the market puts in a bottom around Dow 400.

Cheers,

Rod

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