A variety of topics in the news bring to mind a James Lileks column from back in the thick of debt ceiling angst (subscription required). Following a number of paragraphs of humor using The Odd Couple as an example of understandings of wealth creation, Lileks writes:
…that old world is over. The old world where a mysterious, secretive priesthood called “business” conjured wealth out of the ether so the governing class could strain it through a hundred institutions: done. The idea that no child will be educated if the Department of Education shutters its doors: nonsense. Uterus-to-quietus welfare: sorry. Ever-escalating benefits, paid for by magic sacks of money: impossible.
A half-century experiment in draping steamship anchors around the necks of the productive class and expecting them to run a four-minute mile has ended in failure. The confiscation of rights and property, the moral impoverishment of generations caused by the state’s usurpation of parental obligations, the elevation of a credentialed elite that believes academia’s fashions are a worthy substitute for knowledge of history and human nature, and above all the faith in a weightless cipher whose oratorical panache now consists of looking from one teleprompter screen to the other with the enthusiasm of a man watching someone else’s kids play tennis—it’s over, whether you believe in it or not. It cannot be sustained without reducing everyone to penurious equality, crippling the power of the United States, and subsuming the economy to a no-growth future that rations energy.
Even in Rhode Island, some among the powers who be are beginning to understand, the latest indication being Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed’s apparent disagreement with what may be a majority of her caucus about attempting to extract more money from incomes over taxpayers earning over $250,000 in a year.
Of course, the strength of the other side is evidence — as is the general legislative practice of changing as little as possible with every reform — that the will does not exist to move quickly enough. In that, Rhode Island is just a choking canary in the coal mine.