(Initially posted September 22, 2015)
In politics, like science, the ability to make accurate predictions establishes whether a person truly understands something. Economic theories and associated political ideas are often complex; however evaluating the validity of theories and ideas is simple. Do those advocating the theories accurately predict future events? The validity of theories and ideas should be based on accuracy of predictions, not the personality or political ideology of the persons advocating the theories and ideas.
Extensive commentary after an event has occurred is often presented as political expertise—but that does not establish that a person truly understands something. Accurately predicting the occurrence of a future event demonstrates understanding. With this background in mind, some predictions about future political events are presented below.
At the time this is being written (September, 2015) there is a reasonable possibility that the next president will be a Republican. The basic philosophy of the Republican party about economics and the use of the U.S. military have not changed significantly since the George W. Bush administration. Also, any Republican president elected in 2016 will inevitably have many political appointees from the previous Bush administration. The net result is that I predict that if a Republican president is elected in 2016, that president and administration will over eight years produce the same basic results as produced by the previous Bush administration—including a sharp economic recession or economic crisis and initiation of an unwinnable war in the Middle East.
The Bush administration predicted that the tax changes and deregulation that it implemented would produce an economic surplus. That prediction was not correct and the country incurred substantially increased deficits and a severe economic crisis. Similarly, Scott Walker as governor of Wisconsin instituted Republican economic policies that he predicted would produce a one billion dollar surplus. That prediction was not correct and the state had to deal with a projected two billion dollar deficient. Likewise, Sam Brownback as governor of Kansas instituted Republican economic changes that he predicted would improve the economy, but those predictions were also not correct. Conservative politicians offer various after-the-fact speculations about why these economic changes were not successful, but the fact remains that the predictions were wrong. The incorrect predictions indicate that the political decision makers did not understand the actual forces involved. A Republican president in 2016 can be expected to implement these same types of economic policies. These policies, particularly when combined with an unwinnable war, can be expected to create severe economic problems, as occurred with the previous Bush administration.
Osama bin Laden openly described a plan to destroy the United States by prolonged unwinnable wars in the Middle East that eventually ruin the U.S. economy (http://www.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/meast/11/01/binladen.tape/). Bin Laden’s plan was for relatively small terrorist attacks that provoke large, expensive responses by the U.S. Referring to the Bush administration, Bin Laden commented that it was “easy for us to provoke and bait this administration.”
The Bush administration readily fell into bin Laden’s trap. The administration’s predictions about the cost and duration of the war in Iraq and the reaction of the Iraqi people to the U.S. presence were wrong. The administration mistakenly believed that terrorist inactivity after a massive military buildup was a win for the U.S. In fact, the terrorists would move to other locations, which would require a military response in a different area. If the U.S. military moved from one area to another, the terrorists could eventually return to the first area. The Bush administration’s strategy of chasing out terrorists by massive military presence could be successful only if the U.S. military occupied large areas of the Middle East indefinitely. As bin Laden understood, this would have major adverse impacts on the U.S. economy. The unwinnable nature of this type of war for the U.S. can be clearly seen with the realization that the majority of people in the Middle East do not want a U.S. military presence. They want governments that implement that policy. However, once the U.S. military leaves, terrorists return, as they have in Iraq.
Most Republican politicians continue to advocate a military strongman approach for addressing terrorism. This is exactly the self-destructive macho reaction that terrorist leaders want. A Republican president in 2016 will probably take the bait and enter into a prolonged, unwinnable, self-destructive war, without realizing that a more sophisticated strategy is needed for success. A later post will further discuss the challenges in the Middle East.
The fact that the U.S. Supreme Court is dominated by political ideology has become obvious. However, the Court’s dominant ideology is not traditional conservatism or liberalism, but rather an ideology of favoring large corporations and the wealthy elite. This is most obvious in the Court’s ruling to allow unlimited donations to PACs, which has given large corporations and wealthy elites extraordinary influence over elections, politics, and economic policies.
The Supreme Court’s decision supporting Obamacare is another manifestation of the ideology of favoring large corporations. The basic issue was whether the U.S. government could require that people purchase products (health insurance) from corporations. Economic conservatives who advocate free markets would oppose this. However, large corporations want the government to be able to force people to buy their products. Here too, the Supreme Court did what the large corporations want.
The case of same-sex marriage is less clear. Large corporations do not appear to have a strong preference about this issue. However, same-sex marriages will likely be good for business in general.
Controversies about immigration will probably get to the Supreme Court. Because large corporations benefit from the cheap labor from immigrants, I predict that the Supreme Court will rule in a way that promotes immigration.
A new term is needed for the ideology that favors large corporations and the wealthy elite. The traditional distinction between conservative and liberal is not appropriate. A term such as aristocratic ideology may be useful and indicates that political power and wealth are concentrated among a small select ruling class. The next article further discusses the rise of aristocracy and loss of traditional conservatism in the U.S.