This super committee was set up as a result of the congressional budget deal in August. Formally, it’s called the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, but everybody just calls it the super committee. Its job was to do what Congress was supposed to have done during the fight a few months ago — figure out how to reduce the federal budget deficit that’s threatening to grow bigger and bigger and bigger.
Democrats on the committee want tax increases and few spending cuts. Republicans want no tax increases and slightly more serious spending cuts. The two sides have positions that are locked in concrete. They aren’t budging. Monday, the members announced that they’re giving up, because no deal is possible.
If you read various stories about why the negotiations failed, you almost have to come to the conclusion that the two sides might as well be on different planets insofar as how they view the world. Democrats view high-income taxpayers as cows to be milked. Republicans want to keep milking those cows, but just not as hard. The narrative that’s probably going to prevail in the media is the one that says Republican insistence on extending the Bush-era tax cuts is to blame for the failure. I think the truth is simpler and less exciting to TV news.
This country isn’t united in what it wants. It’s not even close. Maybe it never has been. But the fissures are getting deeper. The unity that exists in history books and government classes and romantic imaginations is gone. We have less and less in common. There’s nothing united about today’s United States.
The things that I believe are moral about how society is organized aren’t negotiable. I can’t say, “Hey, this is theft to take this money, but I’ll agree to let you steal that guy’s money, but only this amount.” Even for those for whom taxation isn’t a moral issue have certain things that are non-negotiable to them. For some people, it’s the belief in enforcing social morality through coercion. For others, it’s the belief in providing basis services for everyone that’s not negotiable. There are more and more of these things that are non-negotiable to more and more people. It can’t ultimately lead to anything except a breakup of the country.
We don’t all want the same things, and that’s fine. My theoretical utopia isn’t the same as yours. Some people want individual freedom and others just honestly don’t want to be free. It’s time for us to face those facts and then face up to the fact that we have to have an adult conversation about how we’re going to go our own separate ways.
The idea of a breakup of the United States still seems like sacrilege to many people. They’ve been indoctrinated in the modern civic religion so well that it’s unthinkable. At some point, it’s going to happen. We can either be adults about it and agree on a peaceful divorce while we still can — or it can become a bitter and violent disaster after an economic collapse.
We still have a choice now about how to handle the breakup, but we’re edging closer and closer to having no choice about the matter. Social and economic collapse are coming.