Would a Biden Presidency Be Better Than Another Four Years of Trump?
Week 32 of the Quarantine
SAN MARTIN, ARGENTINA – We recently learned a new word. Actually, it’s a very old word: Enantiodromia.
Naturally, the Greeks thought of it. As our colleague, Joel Bowman, tells it, it describes the “tension of opposites”… the rise and fall… the yin and yang… the first shall be last…
Want to see it in action… in the flesh? Just look in the mirror. What was once young becomes old.
People, companies, nations… all rise and fall.
But great nations do not fall on their own. They are knocked down by people – leaders who are up to the task… right for the time… who are capable of kicking Humpty off the wall.
There are two sure ways to bring a nation down – war and inflation.
By our reckoning, the decline of the U.S. began at the end of the last century – in 1999. That is when the stock market – in terms of gold – hit its all-time high.
It was also when America faced no significant enemies… when the U.S. federal budget was in surplus (allowing for a little funny accounting)… and when it was widely expected that the new technology – centered in the internet – would make us all smarter, richer, healthier, longer-lived… and happier.
Alas, beginning in 2000, Mother Nature, with her glorious sense of mischief, wanted to take America down a peg. And she found the man to do it – George W. Bush.
His “war against terror” was a fateful, feckless catastrophe. It will cost $7 trillion, say the professors at Brown University who bother to add it up. And it produced nothing but misery.
Then came the Obama team, whose contribution to national disaster was the Obamacare plan… which added unfunded liabilities estimated between $43 trillion and $87 trillion, depending on whom you believe.
And finally, the Great Man himself, Donald Trump, arrived, wearing his steel-toed boots.
In four years, he has added more to the nation’s debt than any previous president. He brought deficit spending to a peak never before seen in the USA. He made “helicopter money” – heretofore a joke – a reality.
And he crushed conservativism out of the Republican Party. Now, Republicans are ready to spend, spend, spend, too. In the next go-round of giveaway money, for example, Donald Trump says he wants to “go bigger” even than the Democrats.
How do you pay for all these extra boondoggles when you’re already spending $2 for every $1 you collect in taxes? You print the money.
This formula – aka “inflation” – has ruined countless countries. The U.S. will not be the first or the last.
And so… here we are, Dear Reader… at a decision point.
On Monday, we set the stage: an election is coming up.
On Tuesday, we brought forth our flawed hero, Donald J. Trump.
And on Wednesday, we looked at how he had made an already dangerous, and probably fatal, situation worse.
Today, we will look at the alternative – Joe Biden. Would a Biden presidency be “better?” And if so, how?
Not wanting to keep you in suspense, our conclusion is this: If the goal of Mother Nature is enantiodromia – that is, cutting a great empire down to size – Biden is probably her man.
His policy notions are even worse than those of Donald Trump. And his advisors and probable apparatchiks are more competent than those of the Big Man (for whom loyalty was more important than competence)… and therefore, perhaps, more likely to succeed in implementing his policies.
(Competence is not always a benefit. If your 10-year-old tries to build a bomb in the basement, for example, you should be happy that he lacks the necessary skills.)
Now on the downswing… In theory, the nation faces a choice. It could turn away from crackpot economics and divisive politics… balance its budget… recall its troops… and reenter the community of stable, civilized nations in a dignified and graceful way.
Or… it could continue on the path set by Bush, Obama, and Trump.
But in practice, there is no choice at all. Because the people who actually run the U.S. government – the Deep Staters – are not about to renounce the source of their pride, their prejudices, their reputations, their power… and their wealth.
And in Joe Biden they have found their champion. He is no visionary… no intellectual… no ideologue. Instead, he is a go-along, get-along political hack.
He went along with the war mongering of George Bush and Hillary Clinton. He went along with the Forever War… as it continued under Obama. He went along with Obama’s medical care extravaganza.
A senator for 36 years… and vice president for eight, Joe Biden has gone along with practically every jackass program that saw the light of day. And he’s ready to go along with a whole new set of trillion-dollar bamboozles and boondoggles.
What was refreshing about Donald Trump was that he was willing to say what others only thought, and resist popular fads. (He had his own crackpot ideas.)
Biden, on the other hand, will get behind every politically correct, claptrap idea that comes down the pike.
A Green New Deal? Sounds good!
A universal basic income? Check.
Higher taxes on the rich? Sure…
Free college? Yep, it’s on the list.
These things tend to have open-ended price tags. But the most recent estimate for the package Biden is campaigning on is about $6 trillion, guaranteeing deficits of trillions of dollars per year…
Enantiodromia, Here We Come!
And check this out. Federal Reserve governor Lael Brainard has been mentioned as a possible Treasury Secretary in the new Democrat-led government.
What does she think? She spoke out on Wednesday… possibly to raise her visibility:
Biden in the White House? Brainard at the Treasury?
More fake money! More inflation!
Whoopee! Enantiodromia, here we come!
But wait… Will Biden really win?
And what will happen if he does? Will he actually be worse than Trump?
Two Poor Candidates
The two surest ways to wreck a great nation are war and inflation. Donald Trump failed to stop the former (though he had promised to do so and, as Commander in Chief, had the power to do so). Instead, he actually increased funding for the warmakers.
In domestic matters, too, Trump did nothing to bring spending under control (he didn’t veto a single spending bill).
Au contraire, he brought spending, deficits, and “inflation” – the money-printing necessary to cover budget shortfalls – to a level never before seen in the U.S. In 2020, the budget deficit hit a sh*thole country record – at 18% of GDP.
Trump did one other calamitous thing worth mentioning. In response to a health challenge – the coronavirus – he allowed his bureaucrats to put the country on a war footing… taking on extraordinary powers that are normally limited to matters of national survival.
But as unsuccessful as he was, we’ve also seen that his opponent is unlikely to be any better.
As far as we can tell, Joe Biden never met a boondoggle that he didn’t like. He is likely to back scams and bamboozles – green programs, universal basic income, expanded free medical care – far beyond those of Mr. Trump.
If Biden has his way, the feds’ printing presses will probably run hotter than ever.
So what will happen?
First, who will win?
Most likely, Biden will win. But not because his policies are better. Nor even because he is the overwhelming favorite of the Deep Staters.
Both candidates are socialists. Both are committed to a large role for the government in the economy. Both will continue in the Bush/Obama/Trump tradition… less freedom, more control, less prosperity, more inequality, more fake money.
But our guess – and it is only a guess – is that the marginal voter is a little tired of the Big Man. Trump has dominated the news cycle for the last five years, beginning even before he was elected.
He captured the headlines largely because he was willing to say “outrageous” things – many of which were true.
Back in 2016, for example, he said “all lives matter.” And of course, they do. But now, you’re not allowed to say so without being branded a “racist.”
Then, hardly a month ago, he urged Americans not to let the coronavirus “dominate your life.” The core of the message was little different from the advice of the Harvard Medical School in March – “Don’t let coronavirus anxiety take over.”
But coming from Trump’s mouth, it was deemed too dangerous for public consumption. The press went wild with indignation. Health “experts” branded it “irresponsible.”
A few months earlier, an interviewer, hoping to lure the Big Man into another sensational headline, touched on the California forest fires. The Donald was invited to opine on whether or not the fires were caused by man-made climate change.
“I don’t think science knows,” the president responded.
This, too, was right on the money. Of course, “science” doesn’t know. It has hypotheses that, in the fullness of time, are sure to be amended and updated.
As of today, nobody knows for certain which way it will go… nor what really is the cause.
But while this maverick approach was welcomed… and captivated the media and the public for 60 months… now, the lumpen electorate seems to have gotten weary of it. The voters yearn for a return to normal.
Trump’s unkind epithet for “Sleepy Joe” Biden, may have backfired. Sleepy is what the public wants. People want an anaesthetic president… a dreamtime leader… who will put the bitter conflicts and sour dramas behind us.
Reality is now tough enough. The recovery is stalling. The rich are getting much richer; the poor much poorer. And the coronavirus shows no sign of going away, suggesting that we have gotten ourselves into another unending, unwinnable war.
Many people blame the president – even for things that aren’t his fault.
But if they pull the lever for Mr. Biden, what difference will it make? Can they nod off… and make yesterday’s mistakes and today’s challenges… disappear?
The deficits? The jackass programs? The deepening Swamp? The growing debt? The widening gap between rich and poor? The 76 million baby boomers in need of pensions and medical care? The crisp new bills – albeit in electronic form – flying off the printing presses?
Nope. Things – at least the things that matter most, war and inflation – will go on, much as they have for the last 20 years.
Appreciate What We Lost
But let us, uncharacteristically, depart from our usual doom and gloom. Yes, of course, the American empire is on the downslide. And no… there’s nothing we can do to stop it.
But between the dimming light of today and the crack of doom tomorrow is at least a little time…
Like the once-rich families on the pampas, there will be time to light candles… time to enjoy the dusky scenes… to reach into our once-bulging liquor cabinet and pour out the last drops from a bottle of Highland Malt that we bought when we were flush…
…and time to sit at an ancient table… as the last rays of the southern sun steal through the cracked windowpanes… the old wallpaper peeling down…
And finally, at peace after so many guerras inutiles… so many battles fought trying to hold the line against waste and foolishness… so many fights lost against lunatic enemies…
…there, finally, there will be time to appreciate the fruits of a civilization that is no more.
Yes, enantiodromia works both ways. It casts down… but it raises up, too. Sleepy Joe might win… but the “conservatives” might reawaken.
When in power, people become proud and practical, eager to take advantage of their opportunity to punish their enemies, reward their friends, and steal whatever they can. It is usually a sordid spectacle.
That is why winning a war… or an election… is often one of the worst things that can happen to a people.
The Romans had won so many battles for so many years that they began to believe their armies – although composed largely of barbarians – were invincible.
In the 5th century, rather than protect the homeland… their armies remained deployed at the fringes of the empire – often fighting each other…
….until the Barbarians marched into Rome… raped the women… slaughtered the men… burned down the city… and carried off anything of value.
The Germans handily defeated the French in 1870… and took away the idea that they could so again. (The French learned nothing.)
In the next war, Germany – following essentially the same strategy – was ruined… bankrupted… with 2 million of her young men dead.
And wouldn’t the U.S. have been better off if it had had its butt kicked a little harder by the Vietnamese?
Instead, its military considered that the withdrawal was a “political” decision. And then, eager to regain its pride, led by Stormin’ Norman Schwarzkopf, it attacked Iraq in 1991.
Wouldn’t it have been better if it had lost there, too?
Most likely. Then, it never would have thought it could pull off a Second Gulf War.
Our point is that you learn more from failure than from success… You think more clearly, too, when the boot is at your neck.
Failure, especially if it is indisputable, excites the brain. And the first thing you realize is that war is not always a paying proposition. Minding your own business becomes a virtue, not a sign of cowardice. Conservatism – learning from the past, sticking with the traditional rules of an honest, open society – pays.
As for the warmongers… the world improvers… the activists and empire builders – you begin to see them in a different light… as the clowns and numbskulls they really are.
And you realize that these morons who are ruining the empire are actually doing us all a favor.
And so, Dear Reader, looking on the bright side, as usual, we see a blaze of glory at the end of the tunnel…
Defeated, we will be a smarter, nicer race.
Humbled, we will be less inclined to try to boss others around.
Broke, we will spend our money more carefully.
And out of power, following a Biden win, our erstwhile “conservatives” might suddenly come to their senses and eschew war, deficit spending, grandiose scams, fake money, giveaways, tariffs, phony interest rates, meddling in the economy, restricting, confining, controlling… and all the flimflams and swindles of both parties over the last 50 years.
The born-again conservatives might even regain the clarity and courage to prevent the Biden administration from doing more harm!
Yes, we see much better things ahead.
After the crack-up… of course.
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