Tuesday, November 30, 2010

1979-1980/2010-2012. . . History Repeating?

Ronald Reagan became President at a low point for the United States. Our economy was failing, our military was neglected, our politics were poisonous, and our nation was demoralized. Over the next few years, Ronald Reagan turned all of that around. But even before Reagan brought us Reaganomics, Margaret Thatcher was beating Reagan to the punch, with similar stunning results. Well, our two countries feel a lot like 1979 again, and once again the British are showing us the way out of this mess.

In two short years, the Democrats have made a royal mess of our country. They’ve wasted trillions of dollars we could not afford, they’ve created what appears to be a permanent structural deficit, they’ve demoralized our foreign policy, they’ve disgraced our political system, and they’ve put the public on the verge of revolt. Labor did the same thing to Britain. But Britain is now turning this around.

When the British replaced their Labor government with a Conservative/Liberal coalition, few expected much in the way of reform. The Conservatives were led by David Cameron, who seems more like an effete elitist than a reputable leader. Indeed, his claim to fame before being elected was to rid the Conservatives of most of their ideology and to turn them into Tony Blair impersonators. His coalition partners, the Liberals, are a confused jumble of socialists and civil libertarians. That’s hardly the recipe for daring achievements. Yet, that is exactly what they are doing. Consider this:

1. Facing a $245 billion deficit (11.4% of GNP), the government issued a dramatic budget containing previously unthinkable cuts. Government agencies will be cut by 19% on average, 500,000 government jobs will be eliminated, welfare benefits will be cut, a middle class child credit will disappear, the retirement age will rise from 65 to 66, college tuition and train fares will rise, and so on. The only two errors were to exempt the National Health Service from cuts and to increase spending on foreign aid.

This is an incredible budget for a coalition that can hardly be called fiscal hawks and whose members range from both fringes to the squishy middle. So when our media is throwing up their hands trying to explain why not one penny of federal spending can be cut, keep Britain's example in mind. This is a blue print for the United States.

2. The government plans to cut overall immigration from 196,000 a year to below 100,000 by 2015. To achieve that, they’ve just imposed a 20% cut in the number of non-Europeans allowed to work in the U.K., cut the number of visas granted to foreign students, and will impose a minimum standard for English proficiency on marriage visas.

The focus on student visa (which account for 60% of immigration) is the result of many “students” coming to England but not actually working on degree programs, and of concerns that some “schools” are simply schemes to exploit student visas to get immigrants into the country -- and which may provide a gateway for terrorists to enter the U.K. Thus, the new government also will begin stringent background checks into the credentials of schools that offer visas to overseas students, and will give a preference to students in degree programs.

3. The government is completely reforming British schools. For example, they are dismantling the system put in place by Labor where students could get non-academic qualifications (like certificates in “sports leadership”) as a substitute for traditional subjects. They will grade schools on the performance of their students in English, math, science, history or geography, and a modern or ancient language. Moreover, teachers will need to pass math and English aptitude tests. Principals will be given more powers to restrain violent pupils, put students in detention, and search them for mobile phones. Also, about 400 schools will be taken over. Further, they have introduced a program to train soldiers to become teachers with the idea that they have the experience to teach students and to improve classroom discipline. Finally, they are planning reforms to “drive out ‘trendy’ learning methods” brought in under Labor.

That’s not a bad start for a coalition that wasn’t supposed to do much of anything, and it is a lesson for our country. Right now, people are ready for a radical remake of the current system. They don’t want to hear, “we don’t know how to cut the budget.” They don’t want fake 10 year plans where the cuts never come. They don’t want public sector employees to keep getting raises and untouchable jobs when their own jobs are hanging by a thread. They don’t want unchecked immigration. And they don’t want to double down on the liberal stupidity that has ruined the public schools.

If a coalition of quasi-Euro-socialists, actual socialists, and libertarians can do this, then so can the Republicans. It won’t happen until Obama is gone in 2012, but it’s time to start now and to fully implement what we start when the new Republican president takes office in 2012. Anyone promising less than that, need not apply.


Tennessee Jed said...

Jolly good for the Brits. They are an interesting bunch, at times making Pelosi seem moderate and at times coming back to sanity. It's a start. I was amazed at the b.s. Bamster was throwing down yesterday. Compromise was what the electorate wanted, he claimed. Offering to freeze government salaries at their presently too many and too high levels. I wonder how many private sector folks would like a 2 year job guarantee at present salary levels. We need to cut government jobs.

StanH said...

It is encouraging that the supposed weakling Cameron and his weak Conservative Coalition is making such reasonable cuts in the UK, perhaps it’s because he has too? You can’t give what you don’t have.

It’s imperative that we find a conservative standard bearer. When 2011 arrives, I want a robust debate from all comers. Too take on Barry - as the democrats did in ’07 against Bush, and may the best man or woman win.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, The government pay freeze was a joke. I think it was also bad politics for him.

First, you're right, a pay freeze does nothing to undo that vast amount of overly high salaries already, nor does it cut unneeded government jobs. Secondly, a "freeze" only means pay raises. It's not clear if that includes the cost of living adjustments, nor will it stop the nearly-yearly "step increase" which accounts for half of each year's pay raise.

But even more interesting, I think the Republicans should call his bluff on this, pass something and make him veto it.

AndrewPrice said...

Stan, I am frankly stunned that Cameron and his coalition did any of this, and I think it shows that the time has come for very serious, very common-sense cuts. If these guys can do it, then so can we.

That said, I would like to see a strong standard-bearer for conservatism as well. But even more so, I'd like to see a dozen of them. I want to see them in the House, in the Senate, in the governor's mansions, and in the Presidential contenders. Now is the time for EVERYONE to step up.

AndrewPrice said...

P.S. Since we don't have an open thread today, let me extend my condolences to Leslie Neilson and his family. He was one of my favorite actors.

Tehachapi Tom said...

Lets hope our politicians can follow the lead again. You are right in that it won't happen until after 2012.

The return from the Thanksgiving recess is a fine example of the Democrats failure .

Reid and his Democratic colleagues have gone for broke and are pressing for approval of S. 510: The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, a highly controversial measure intended to extend the power of the Food and Drug Administration over food production and distribution from farm to fork.

This is only one of their schemes which are tangential to the ares that are in real need of attention.

I can hardly wait for 2012 get here and see if this mess can be fixed.

Anonymous said...

Andrew: And let's not forget that while not "raising" federal employee pay while leaving the possibility of a cost-of-living increase in place, they did exactly the opposite for Social Security recipients. By cutting off cost-of-living benefits for SS recipients, they have effectively cut off the only kind of "raise" such beneficiaries can get.

I almost feel sorry for Cameron who is facing the ire of an "entitlement" public. He will face the same kind of opposition that Dame Thatcher received, but he's not nearly as strong as Thatcher.

As we've discussed before, it just seems historically odd that as the European nations move to the right and fiscal responsibility, our administration continues to push to the left and fiscal irresponsibility. The federal pay freeze is a hoax, a shuck and a sham designed to deflect public ire at the outrageous pay scales and retirement benefits for what used to be called "public servants."

patti said...

what they (we) want is leadership. you know, where the leaders lead. libbies make all things more complicated in an effort to be needed. we don't *need* stupidity, ergo we don't need libbies mucking up the joint.

AndrewPrice said...

Tom, I hope so too. I suspect that this time the Republicans got the message, but you never know until they finally have to make the big vote.

I was downtown earlier waiting for someone, and as I waited, I watched Obama on Fox News. He absolutely doesn't get it. He said the right things about being bipartisan, etc. etc., but it was clear that he was only talking about having a civil tone as he told the Republicans he would not give an inch on the Bush tax cuts.

And you're right about the rest of the Democrats -- they came back and immediately set out to do bizarre and irrelevant things while avoiding the few issues that should have been looked at. Typical.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, It does seem strange that Europe is moving to the right as we drift left. But hopefully, our drift left has stopped and we're about to leap to the right.

Cameron has surprised me so far, he may continue to surprise me.... but I agree with your assessment. I don't think he has the nerve that Thatcher did so things could go wrong over there. But in the meantime, it's fascinating to watch.

Yep, you're right about Social Security. . . but Lawhawk, there's no inflation so they don't need a COLA! Yeah, right.

I also thought it was interesting that as soon as Obama floated the idea of a pay "freeze", Hoyer immediately jumped up and declared that this would apply to the military. After all, we don't want those slackers getting anything if the rest of Club Fed doesn't get anything. Unbelievable.

AndrewPrice said...

Patti, We definitely do not need the liberals messing up the joint. . . they did enough damage already!

Anonymous said...

Andrew: So true. The Democrats simply don't understand that the only true public servants left are serving in the military. The rest are just employees. That equivalence of "public employees" is simply too insulting to our military to be believed.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, Very true. Having spent time in Club Fed, I can tell you that nothing they do is the least bit "public service" oriented. They are nasty, lazy, over-paid and over-protected. And comparing them to the people who risk their lives as police, fire or military is just an insult.

CrispyRice said...

Good article, Andrew! I always find it insightful to read an analysis of what's going on in other countries.

I also just heard (on Rush) that Eric Cantor has said that Republicans are going to keep some provisions from Obamacare - the worst parts!! WTF??? As Rush also said, "What part of 'HELL NO' do the Republicans not understand?"


Watching the UK for a blueprint is all very good, but it seems even the Republicans won't implement it.

BevfromNYC said...

First of all the British (and most of Europe) have no choice. They must make deep cuts, or collapse. But they love doing it - you know, that stiff upper lip self sacrificing Post WWII British thing will help them alot.

BTW, it's the same as 1979, right down to the pending royal wedding!

AndrewPrice said...

Crispy, As you know, I think Cantor needs to go. Ug. Way to go team. :-(

I think looking at other countries is a great way to see what might work and what might not. Take the soldiers as teachers idea. No one has said that here, but I think it's a great idea and we should consider it too.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, True, they had no choice. But I don't think we're much different.

Great point about the wedding! I hadn't even thought of that. All we need now is a disco revival, bell bottoms and gas lines and it will be exactly like 1979! Yikes!

BevfromNYC said...

Our problem is that we don't have strong leadership that is clear that we need to cut and willing to MAKE cuts. Our elected officials keep playing games.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, True. That's one benefit of having a strong leader, they can push the rest of the party that may be too weak-willed to act on their own. Hopefully, the leaders we need will emerge soon!

Ed said...

It makes me happy to hear the British are turning themselves around. Greece may be the cradle of civilization, but Britain taught it everything it knows. We need the British, and we should follow their lead.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, Nicely put. I agree with you. Most of what we truly know as West Culture was created by the British. Let's hope they lead the way again.

Dane said...

I would love to repeat 1980 and get another Ronald Reagan! Hell yes!

AndrewPrice said...

Dane, That would be fantastic. I would even accept half a Reagan at this point.

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