Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Galt's Daydream

In the past, I've written about Thomas Jefferson transported to 2009 (Jefferson's Nightmare) and a fictional “Tea Party” candidate capturing the White House in 2012 (State of the Union 2013). As a Jeffersonian/Libertarian/Anarchist I've had more opportunity than I could ever had wished, or dreaded, to consider what exactly might have been done differently in both domestic and foreign policy over the last 20 or 30 years. I guess we'll call this JohnGaltLives' daydream......

What if we had seriously pursued energy independence? I'm talking expanded oil and gas exploration and production, new refineries, no “boutique” gas blends for each and every state, new nuclear facilities and a corresponding upgrade in transmission infrastructure. How might that have changed our need to protect Mid-East oil production, and would we have ever seen gasoline over $4.00/gallon? Would that have spurred development of fuel cells and other green technology at a realistic market cost and demand?

What if we had seriously followed through on Reagan's much derided “Star Wars” program, and developed defensive missile systems that stayed far ahead of anyone's ability to attack us? Would we need to now spend inordinate time and money and political capital to forestall rogue powers like Iran and North Korea, or could we simply provide or sell that defensive capability to our vulnerable allies like Japan or Israel? Would we need to fight an ongoing war in Afghanistan to prevent Pakistan's nuclear arsenal falling into the hands of Al Quaida or the Taliban? Perhaps, but only...

What if we had actually secured our borders, and implemented the technology that has long existed to track every non-citizen who enters and leaves our country? Would we need to sacrifice civil liberties to prevent enemy infiltrators from waging an internal attack? Would we be paying for myriad social services and prison costs for illegals? Would perhaps Americans actually “do some of those jobs Americans don't want to do” if low-wage illegal labor didn't depress the wages of legal workers? Is it possible we would have a rational visa system to allow entry of both short-term unskilled and long-term highly skilled workers?

And finally, what if, as has been proposed many times, we had an ironclad balanced budget amendment (no “emergency” exceptions!) that capped any spending increase at inflation plus population growth, and immediately froze all spending levels if it was exceeded? Would George W Bush have been able to put federal spending on steroids? Would Obama and a Democratic Congress have been able to then quadruple the worst deficit that Bush was able to run up?

There are countless other “what ifs” that I could list, but I have to believe that if just these few things had been implemented, we might have the luxury to argue about the other important issues of the day. I have to think any good Jeffersonian or Libertarian would approve (anarchists might have other plans for the federal government!) The good news is, I'm also an optimist! All these things are still available and achievable if we have the will and leadership put them in place. We've dug ourselves a deep, deep hole, but maybe not yet quite so deep that we'll never climb out of it. But time is short, and the situation is dire, so man up, patriots – Let's Roll!

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