In coping with short-term chaos and disorder in exchange for long-term order and peace, the American government and the American people can go one of either two ways. And the debate over which direction to take will be a heated one because it involves both entrenched interests in Washington as well as popular interests across the nation.
For one, given that the American government has already gotten big and unwieldy over the course of the last three decades, one option is to go the whole nine yards per se and to become a social welfare state along the lines of Western European and Scandinavian states. This is possible, and what a social welfare state along the lines of Western European and Scandinavian states would entail is universal education, universal health care, and universal basic income (UBI) for all Americans. In other words, the state would have to guarantee what Amartya Sen called “multidimensional wealth” for all of its people.
Or, the solution to short-term chaos and disorder could be to cut down the size of government and to make it small so that a failing government with immense debt can be done away with. A big, failing government with massive debt is a burden on the American people, and the American people have been paying taxes for it without getting anything out of it in return. Thus, the “populist” route is another route, given that the Trump-led populist surge in the United States has not died down and it is still a potent political force in the United States.
Thus, we have two possible routes for the American government and the American people to take when it comes to dealing with short-term chaos and disorder in exchange for long-term order and peace. Many people in the United States do not want a massive social welfare state. On the other hand, there are those who won’t mind going the whole nine yards and turning an already big and unwieldy government into a social welfare state. What won’t work, however, is ambivalence, inaction, and the refusal to go one way or another on the part of Joe Biden and Congress. In other words, you can’t half-ass everything and expect that people would be satisfied with the status quo.
To add popular interests (“multidimensional wealth”) to the government’s strategy and operations, all while preserving entrenched interests in Washington is something that some people can accept. Perhaps it is too complicated to cut everything down at this point because it’s already gotten so big and unwieldy. But there are many people in the United States who refuse to turn the United States into a massive social welfare state along the lines of Western European and Scandinavian states out of both self-interest as well as belief, conviction, and ideological reasons. Capitalism, reduction of taxes, and small government are red lines for some people.
As I said in the previous blog post, it is still not too late to get the popcorn out and watch events unfold, because this contentious debate over not just politics but also the identity of the United States as either a capitalistic nation with reduced taxes and small government or a massive social welfare state has just started and it will get even more contentious as we approach the midterm elections in 2022 and finally the general election in 2024. As someone once said, there is never a boring day in America.