If you get the impression that we've turned some important corner recently, then you and I are probably on the same page. For months Frithguild has been talking about how important the Obamacare finding would be for the future of the country - both in these pages and in person. He was right. The actual ruling wasn't what anyone expected, but I think it's a distinction without a difference.
Justice Roberts has tried to push all this back on our Democratic decision making institutions. But with as much of a third of our country being taught to believe in rainbows and unicorns, it's hard to have much faith in those institutions. They certainly haven't been reliable up to now. So in effect, Robert's choice hasn't done anything as much as it's elevated the importance of being able to tell lies. That's all most politicians do really. They tell lies that indulge the vanity and self importance of enough voters to get elected. It's their stock in trade.
This is really why it takes a virtuous people to be worthy of self government. We must have the courage to dismiss those lies we're told that sound wonderful but which we know aren't really possible. Unfortunately, we stopped being a virtuous people a long time ago. I say that not as someone who is holding others up to his own moral standard - I don't think my own moral standard is particularly high. I say that as someone who is casting a cold eye at our public policy decisions and watching the inevitable economic consequences of them. If we make decision that lead to our demise, then we cannot be a moral people any longer. A decision to have just a little more heroin is never a moral one. And that's all we seem to be able to manage anymore.
If you believe the congress really will undo Obamacare that's great, but at this point it will no longer solve the real problem. At this point Obamacare is only the most serious symptom of a disease which will inevitably be fatal. And that disease has been all but permanently codified into our laws. At this point we would need a constitutional amendment to undo the damage of the Obamacare decision. And although I'm no expert, that seems like a distant and extremely unlikely possibility. It would require a self discipline and moral courage that we no longer posses, and that much of our electorate has never even imagined might be possible.
So. What do we do? Well a country like this won't collapse at once. It will do so in dribs and drabs like rust or rot. Some places will go faster than others. Some places will seem to be working fine for a good long time. Over the last three years I've invested a lot of time and energy in studying how governments like ours fail, and I'll have much more to say on it going forward. But it will be the government which fails, not the country. A nuclear bunker full of canned goods and bullets won't help you. The best way to survive any gunfight is to be somewhere else when it happens. I'll have much more on this in coming weeks.
The graphic above is of George Bush and Dick Cheney, but it points to a fundamental rule of government that we've forgotten, so it could be any two politicians. The rule I mean is that the best we can ever hope for from these people is incompetence - so we should keep government small to limit the damage they can do. Instead though, we've wandered into the area of 'fantasy' where we believe government can solve all sorts of problems for all sorts of people, so long as it can force enough people to do what it thinks is best for them.
That fantasy has become the law of the land now, and will inevitably be the demise of our government. A constitutional amendment could cure it, but I don't believe we're capable of that. In that way, Justice Robert's decision is not his own but is really symptomatic of our broader culture. So now we really must 'manage our decline', because our inevitable decline has been all but assured.