Kos's feature today, "The fallacy that tax cuts stimulate economies," made me aware, more than ever, that what we're seeing now is the ultimate result of the Starve the Beast policy that has been in place ever since Reagan.
More after the jump, including an interesting use of statistics.
Starve the Beast is the conservative strategy based on the idea that you won't succeed at paring down the government by arguing that ideologically this is the right thing to do. Instead, you cut taxes (which always appeals to voters) and eventually we reach the situation where government is forced to cut back because the revenue just isn't there.
We're now seeing the fruition of this strategy. It provides the excuse to bust unions, remove oversight of polluters and financial speculators, and make working people so desperate that they'll take any job, no matter how poorly it pays or how dangerous it is. This is what conservatives have thirsted for all these years: the destruction of government and the return of a feudal society in which the rich rule and the rest of us are peons.
Another way of saying this is that we're moving toward seeing the whole USA made into Arkansas writ large. I suggest you read "The Conservative States of America," on The Atlantic's website. In this article (with very effective graphics), the brilliant urban theorist Richard Florida looks at the correlations between political conservatism and various other factors on a state-by-state basis. He finds a strong link between conservatism, low education, and low income. I should note that he is not very partisan and often takes pokes at both political parties in his writing.
He concludes (emphasis added):
Conservatism, at least at the state level, appears to be growing stronger. Ironically, this trend is most pronounced in America's least well-off, least educated, most blue collar, most economically hard-hit states. Conservatism, more and more, is the ideology of the economically left behind.
Liberalism, which is stronger in richer, better-educated, more-diverse, and, especially, more prosperous places, is shrinking across the board and has fallen behind conservatism even in its biggest strongholds. This obviously poses big challenges for liberals, the Obama administration, and the Democratic Party moving forward.
But the much bigger, long-term danger is economic rather than political. This ideological state of affairs advantages the policy preferences of poorer, less innovative states over wealthier, more innovative, and productive ones. American politics is increasingly disconnected from its economic engine. And this deepening political divide has become perhaps the biggest bottleneck on the road to long-run prosperity.