Possibly, David Stockman's iconic four-page manifesto — the "Easter manifesto" — on the op-ed pages of the New York Times last weekend has an answer: America is "fiscally, morally, intellectually” broke he says, and on the verge of collapse. And we have been steadily descending to it for eight decades.
That Stockman’s piece, derived from his new book, The Great Deformation: The Corruption of Capitalism in America, appears so prominently today in the Times means it is time. The media will begin to face up.
And this time the time is right for Stockman, Ronald Reagan’s director of the Office of Management and Budget from 1981-1985. A new generation constellates with Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (R), Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R) and Utah Sen. Mike Lee (R). Likely there will be more to come.
“The Dow Jones and Standard & Poor’s 500 indexes reached record highs on Thursday, having completely erased the losses since the stock market’s last peak, in 2007. But instead of cheering, we should be very afraid,” he writes.
Salient themes: In March 2000, the mad money printers at the Fed have expanded their balance sheet sixfold (to $3.2 trillion from $500 billion). Yet during that stretch, economic output has grown by an average of 1.7 percent a year, the slowest since the Civil War.
Real median family income growth has dropped 8 percent, and the number of full-time middle class jobs, 6 percent.
The real net worth of the “bottom” 90 percent has dropped by one-fourth. So the Main Street economy is failing while Washington is piling a soaring debt burden on our descendants, unable to rein in either the “warfare state or the welfare state.”
We are state-wrecked, he writes. And when the bubble bursts, there will be no new rounds of bailouts. Instead, America will descend into an era of zero-sum austerity and virulent political conflict.
His is an old voice of conservatism, suddenly new and relevant. And unlike most conservatives of his generation, he goes forth today without Reagan or Jesus to prop himself up.
The future is bleak, he says, because the United States is broke — fiscally, morally, intellectually — “and the Fed has incited a global currency war (Japan just signed up, the Brazilians and Chinese are angry, and the German-dominated euro zone is crumbling) that will soon overwhelm it. When the latest bubble pops, there will be nothing to stop the collapse."