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Friday, January 11, 2008

Reading List: Day of Reckoning

Buchanan, Patrick J. Day of Reckoning. New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2007. ISBN 978-0-312-37696-3.
In the late 1980s, I decided to get out of the United States. Why? Because it seemed to me that for a multitude of reasons, many of which I had experienced directly as the founder of a job-creating company, resident of a state whose border the national government declined to defend, and investor who saw the macroeconomic realities piling up into an inevitable disaster, that the U.S. was going down, and I preferred to spend the remainder of my life somewhere which wasn't.

In 1992, the year I moved to Switzerland, Pat Buchanan mounted an insurgent challenge to George H. W. Bush for the Republican nomination for the U.S. presidency, gaining more than three million primary votes. His platform featured protectionism, immigration restriction, and rolling back the cultural revolution mounted by judicial activism. I opposed most of his agenda. He lost.

This book can be seen as a retrospective on the 15 years since, and is particularly poignant to me, as it's a reality check on whether I was wise in getting out when I did. Bottom line: I've no regrets whatsoever, and I'd counsel any productive individual in the U.S. to get out as soon as possible, even though it's harder than when I made my exit.

Is the best of the free life behind us now?
Are the good times really over for good?

Merle Haggard

Well, that's the way to bet. As usual, economics trumps just about everything. Just how plausible is it that a global hegemon can continue to exert its dominance when its economy is utterly dependent upon its ability to borrow two billion dollars a day from its principal rivals: China and Japan, and from these hired funds, it pumps more than three hundred billion dollars a year into the coffers of its enemies: Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Iran, and others to fund its addiction to petroleum?

The last chapter presents a set of policy prescriptions to reverse the imminent disasters facing the U.S. Even if these policies could be sold to an electorate in which two generations have been brainwashed by collectivist nostrums, it still seems like “too little, too late”—once you've shipped your manufacturing industries offshore and become dependent upon immigrants for knowledge workers, how precisely do you get back to first world status? Beats me.

Some will claim I am, along with the author, piling on recent headlines. I'd counsel taking a longer-term view, as I did when I decided to get out of the U.S. If you're into numbers, note the exchange rate of the U.S. dollar versus the Euro, and the price of gold and oil in U.S. dollars today, then compare them to the quotes five years hence. If the dollar has appreciated, then I'm wrong; if it's continuing its long-term slide into banana republic status, then maybe this rant wasn't as intemperate as you might have initially deemed it.

His detractors call Pat Buchanan a “paleoconservative”, but how many “progressives” publish manuscripts written in the future? The acknowledgements (p. 266) is dated October 2008, ten months after I read it, but then I'm cool with that.

Posted at January 11, 2008 14:43