Yesterday, ol’ Robbo got round to reading Kevin D. Williamson’s new book, The End Is Near and It’s Going To Be Awesome:  How Going Broke Will Leave America Richer, Happier, and More Secure.  I like Williamson’s stuff over at NRO and had heard great things about this book, so I felt it worthwhile to pick a copy up over at the devil’s website.

Well.

The book is a good, succinct, lucid account of the socio-economic collapse which I am now almost positive will be upon us in the next fifteen to twenty years thanks to the modern entitlement state, demographics and the iron hand of simple math.

It is also a damning critique of Leviathan, arguing persuasively that we are not now, in fact, a republic in which the government rules by consent of the people, but instead a Mafioso protection racket with a thin veneer of respectability thrown over it.

It further argues that, contrary to teh progressivist straw-man that those rejecting Big Gub’mint want to go to a Hobbesian state of every-man-for-himself-and-the-devil-take-the-hindmost, many, indeed most services offered or promised by said Big Gub’mint can be provided more efficiently, more ethically and more humanely by overlapping and integrated layers of private and semi-private organizations – churches, mutual aid societies and the like.

It then proceeds chapter by chapter to suggest various ways in which this might be accomplished with respect to things like social security, health care, education and even law enforcement.  (I particularly like Williamson’s dig at Holy Mother Church for supporting Obamacare and then being shocked, shocked at getting snake-bit over mandatory employer coverage of birth control and abortion.  As the They Might Be Giants lyric goes, “Can’t shake the devil’s hand and say you’re only kidding.”)

And yet…..

As I was reading, I kept thinking to myself, “Yes, yes.  This all makes lots of sense to you and me.  But how are you going to sell it to the Low Information Voters, the Bread and Circuses crowd, the 47%, the Free Shite Army?”  Williamson doesn’t seem to get much farther than suggesting that we have to be intelligent and careful and make sure to get it right.**

So, in other words,

Step 1 – Collapse of Progressivist Leviathan

Step 2 – ?

Step 3 – Profit!

I don’t mean to be unduly harsh.  As I say, I think the book states the current problem and some very sound academic solutions quite well.  But I’m reminded of a passage from Peej O’Rourke’s Parliament of Whores (which, by the way, TEIN closely mirrors in a number of ways).  Peej is talking to a woman living in some god-awful housing project in New Jersey:

“What if,” I said, “you and the other tenants had a chance to buy your apartments, no down payment, with mortgage and maintenance no higher than the rent you’re paying now.  Then you could control the building, get rid of muggers and drug addicts and order repairs and renovations yourself.”

“I’m not going for any of that,” said the woman.

“But you’d own something,” I said, “You’d be building equity.  You could sell it later and make a profit.”

“I’m not going for any of that,” said the woman.

“But you wouldn’t be at the mercy of the housing authority, the city council, all those people.  You’d be a property owner.  You could tell THEM what to do.”  And I told her about various other advantages that would accrue to her and her family through privatization – all very good arguments for the case, I’m sure.

The woman looked up at this seven-story sewer in the sky that she lived in and looked back at me like I was a big idiot and said, “I’m not going for any of that.”

The collapse, as I say, is coming.  And hopefully, when what’s left of us go to rebuild, Williamson’s ideas (behind which – although he doesn’t say so- I catch a distinct whiff of the Catholic social doctrine of subsidiarity) will be adopted.  But between now and then I fear it’s going to get mighty ugly.   Perhaps the subtitle of the book should be amended to include “Eventually – In the Meantime, Praise the Lord and Keep Your Powder Dry.”

**UPDATE:  I guess I should be clearer about this.  The book does, in fact, discuss the transfer of sovereignty from a static, centrist model to a kind of market-drive merit one that encourages innovation, refinement and improvement and rejects what doesn’t work, and even shows some small scale examples of the way this is being attempted in some areas even now.  (For instance, with respect to education, one sees the growing trends of homeschooling, voucher programs and online degrees.)  It’s fascinating stuff.  But anyone keeping up with the headlines knows that Leviathan is not going to let go its power without a serious, to-the-death fight.  At the same time, much of the population won’t even be aware of what’s going on until some kind of major catastrophe – like a can of soup suddenly costing $100 – hits.  Will we, as a people, be able to smoothly, sensibly readjust our entire attitude toward the relationship between State and Citizen under such circumstances in able to implement this transition?  I’m a bit dubious simply because I think Leviathan’s I-spit-at-thee arming of the Genesis device will be to turn the mob loose on that very part of our society capable of such implementation.

Advertisements