What a fucking joke. Seems everything's pretty much the same now, aside from the farcical window dressing of shutting down a tiny prison that was bad for governmental PR. We're still headed down the same path of more government control over more parts of life, still involved in foreign wars with no end in sight, and still threatening to screw our trading partners worse than we already do. Its the same jackass policies with a different dumb animal implementing them.
I want to believe in human rationality, I'd like to believe that we're more than reflex mechanisms buffeted about by forces inconceivably greater than ourselves. but our susceptibility to the simplest, most empty propaganda crushes my hope that that might be true.
Look how excited even smart people got about this new president. "He'll Change things! He's a new voice!" No, he's not. He's just as much a part of the political establishment as the other choices we're offered. What worries me is that the really bad stuff is more out in the open now; salary caps, nationalizations, corporate welfare, trade barriers... they're all being talked about in a positive light now. Before, its true, they were just slipped under the table, but now they're given the full credibility of Authority and leader-endorsement.
The one bit of optimism I have for our near political future is the loosening of some of the conservatives more oppressive laws, ie the ones around drugs and reproduction. But really, we're more likely to get some consolation-prize relaxation than a true restoration of individual self-determination. After all, as we expand government control over economic life, we can't expect it to retreat very far on the personal front.
And is there really a difference? I think its a tragic dichotomy that I should seriously be suggesting that there's a difference between "personal life" and "economic life," as if any thing you do in public is automatically the subject of popular approval. Do we really spend most of our waking hours doing things that are not "personal?" Sadly, the answer is probably yes for most.
At least we're not headed down the cold war path of planetary destruction, right?
I don't think even that optimism is warranted. "When goods cease to cross borders, armies will." Our protectionism (and the rest of the world's response to it) is a very bad sign. Its easy to forget how recent the threat of MAD was, and now we have many more nations armed with the same weapons. As tragic as it is, people go to war over resources if they can't get them by mutually beneficial trade.
The elephant in the room is Russia. They've been openly hostile to other nations for more than a decade, and they've been using their resource-clout in a very antagonistic manner. What will happen when we (and the rest of the world) do become energy-independant? If demand (and thus the price) of oil drops radically and rapidly, how would the powerful and hostile nations that depend on it react?
I think the best case is that technology is rapidly disseminated and the motivation to fight over resource control will be obviated, but I don't think that that outcome is inevitable. What are the negetive paths that could be followed there, and how can they be avoided?