Briar Patch Research

This is a reprise of previous blogs... I guess I was right in a lot of ways, and wrong in many others..  

September 28, 2010:  Planning in an Age of Jacksonianism Part 1 of 3

Both major parties and all major media will at first miss the point that America is experiencing a broad-scale cultural event drawing on people from all parts of society, and not simply an attempted conservative coup d’edat, or vast right-wing conspiracy.  Careful planning will be needed by both businesses and individuals not to be overwhelmed by these events, but instead be able to profit from them.

 The main driving force was first described in 1999 by Walter Russell Mead in The Jacksonian Tradition , an article published in The National Interest.  I urge all to read this, plus his award-winning expansion of the theme in Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and How it Changed the World.  Based on his insights, I have termed the current political trends to be a “Jacksonian Upwelling”.  Secondary drivers include the aging of the “Baby Boomer” population in the US, and the overall loss of desirable jobs due to globalization, and the unanticipated effects of technology improvements (both machinery reducing jobs and products that “don’t wear out”.)

Political impacts of a Jacksonian Upwelling:

Jacksonianism is not single unified school of thought and will not be centralized.  Mead describes it as “less an intellectual or political movement than an expression of the social, cultural and religious values of a large portion of the American public”.  The Tea Parties are broadly similar, in that they are and will remain local and particular, united mainly by the shared iconography of a particular late-Colonial Era tax revolt.

Expect an end to the two-party system as such, with the rise of web-linked single issue and theme factions forming shifting coalitions on shared issues. The coalitions forged in the Great Depression have been decisively broken by a rising wave of neoPopulist sentiment, and are being held together by the fear of losing power and the lack of any ready alternatives.  Though their replacements may superficially resemble the existing mega-parties, they will be loose coalitions of regional and theme-interest micro-groups with no firm, permanent central leadership.   The ready availability of instant communications enables wide-spread splinter groups and factions to maintain the emotional depth a a tightly knit community and shared values regardless of distance.  Jacksonian themes currently permeate both of the major parties.

Anticipate a rise in social prominence and political influence for both entrepreneurs and former military/law enforcement personnel, and a repugnance by voters for even the most saintly of incumbents.

Read:  SEVERAL biographies of Andrew Jackson—he remains quite a polarizing figure, and is in many ways the gateway into Modern America from the Revolution.

Anticipate  activist and special interest groups using sophisticated mass communication and information warfare techniques to mask their true (lack of) size and spread their opinion.  Speed and accuracy of message targeting will freely substitute for masses of voters.

Read: I have yet to see anything germane and recent on “weapons-grade public relations”.. but it is an established industry.  Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent: the Political Economy of the Mass Media seems to be available, if leftist and dated.

Expect a reduction and refocus of Federal power, with authority shifted back to state and much reduced number of local governments. 

Anticipate outright government closures, mergers by smaller civil units, and overall shrinkage in services offered.

Read:  Nine Nations of North America by Joel Garreau (or check his website) to gain insight on how the New Localism might break out in regional blocs.

Anticipate an attempt to simplify the national and state tax codes, perhaps a move to a federal flat tax, and simplification of tax code, combined with a massive tax amnesty program and stricter enforcement— but with fines, penalties NOT expensive-to-taxpayers jail time.

Read:  “The flat-tax revolution”, (Economist, April 14, 2005.)  Steve Forbes has written extensively on this as well


September 29 2010:  Planning in an Age of Jacksonianism Part 2 of 3

Business Impacts of a Jacksonian Upwelling.

Expect a sharp rise in localist sentiment, expressed both in calls for formal protectionism and grass-roots “buy local” campaigns. 

Anticipate public demands for information as to the ownership of the firm, sources of the material, and location of the factories, similar to the nutritional information now demanded on food products.

Anticipate at least one major retail chain launching an “American Only” outlet.  Overall, successful  advertisements will stress the message with phrases like “Made in the USA” and “Connecticut Grown.”

Expect strong opposition to anything limiting national sovereignty.  Anticipate increased attempts by Congress to control, review and sunset any international agreement to ensure US interests are not impinged. 

Anticipate attempts to breakup large internationally-owned controlled or influenced organizations—especially financial institutions.  Jacksonians are just slightly less distrustful of Big Business and Big Labor than they are of Big Government.  For world-wide businesses, decentralization and visibly local control of operations may be the cultural keys to survival. 

Expect “Strong Encouragement” to repatriate jobs and capital.  Pressure will at first be social, not by tax structure, and be administered though social media channels like Youtube, Facebook or Twitter, but followed-on by formal pressure from activist investors. 

Anticipate problems from governments torn between needing to honor international agreements and not wanting to further alienate voters. 

Expect calls for looser credit (and easier bankruptcies) for individuals and small businesses. 

Anticipate “starting your own business” becoming viewed as an essential part of the maturation process for the political classes.

Consolidated Reading Recommendations

Read carefully, as most of the materials I have encountered have been strongly anarcho-leftist, Green and, well, Just Plain Odd.  The important thing to remember is that it makes sense to THEM, and they are finding a ready audience.

October 22, 2010: Planning in an Age of Jacksonianism Part 3 of 3:

Implications for the continuation of politics by other means.

Jacksonianism is realpolitik in its purest form.  Jacksonians are naturally peaceful, though fierce when angered.  Trust of Outsiders is just not part of the package, though alliances and “honor” (both personal and national) are sacred.  Defense is looked on both as a sacred duty and personal privilege. Individuals and nations that do not “do their part” to help their people will face ostracism.  A non-pacifist form of isolationism will emerge.

Expect the “Regular” Military to be moved back to US, based locally, and expanded.  Bluntly, bases mean local jobs, and forces at home are safer than those overseas.  Widely dispersed bases both increase the safety of forces and the number of Congressional Districts positively impacted. 

Anticipate the continued rise and mission expansion of “military service companies” including a legal method of buffering their “mercenary” status.

Anticipate return of National Guard forces to the several States, with their force-projection responsibility (not ability) moved to federal regular and reserve units.  NG forces may be retasked and equipped for internal civil defense and disaster control mandates.

Anticipate anti-terrorism efforts being legislatively redefined as warfighting, not crime control, to enable avoidance of Posse Comitatus Act restrictions.

Planners should note the long-term possibility of a Corps of Engineers-like structure emerging for providing some parts of healthcare, particularly in cases of national emergency.  Oddly, many of the national states of emergency from administrations back to FDR are reportedly still running.  Expansion may be a way to “fund” job creation, rudimentary  national healthcare, and higher education through ROTC and GI Bill-like programs.

Expect to see increased funding of “warbots” and stealth for force projection in space, air, land and sea environments.  Jacksonian lives are precious.  “Overwhelming force projection” will retain doctrinal centrality.  So will a cultural affinity for “Bright and Shiny”,  “New and Improved,” “Holys****lookathat” Systems, and a bad tendency not to care at all what foreigners think. 

Anticipate the ability for the US military to “reach out and touch someone” on a planetary scale becoming an increasingly  important part of national expectations.  The ability to put a discrete, but noticeable, hole in the ground directly in front of an opposing leader’s domicile with no or little collateral damage will raise national bullying to an art form.

Anticipate the militarization of space, with NASA taking a background, scientific role.  Existing “data gathering” functions, acknowledged or not,  will likely be moved to a new Agency in a restructured Aerospace Force, and the formal development, or revelation, of warfighting capability is a certainty.  No, there is no super-secret “Black Airforce” with alien-derived technologies.  Grow up. 

Planners should note that on a 5-year horizon there is a heightened likelihood of actual spacewar, with communications and GPS systems being highly vulnerable.

Expect strengthened borders.  Jacksonians consider borders to be important symbols of national sovereignty. They will be strengthened, though immigration rules might not be addressed or control immediately tightened, as Jacksonians are paranoid, not racist or stupid. 

Anticipate the militarization and expansion of law-enforcement parts of ICE and Border Patrol, perhaps under the Coast Guard.  There is at least the chance, based on the increased need for job creation, that a separate branch oif service might develop.

Planners should note that this is a natural arena for “environmentally sound” high-technology solutions:  warbots, automated rescue vehicles, and stealthy reconnaissance platforms. 

Read the 10Qs and October 26, 2010:  Gun Show 10Ks of defense related companies, looking for insufficiently explained profits.  Try to find a reliable, unbiased, non-US news source.  No, the BBC does not count.

November 7, 2010: Planning in an Age of Jacksonianism  Part 4 of 3.

Some other expectations…

Jacksonianism is a cultural trend, not a political party.  Jacksonian attitudes will be impossible to stifle once they have broken out on a broad scale, and will play out for at least the next ten years.

Expected the Upwelling to continue on the state level. Based on their compulsive imposition of a two-party model, Media pundits are predicting at least 26 states will come under firm, generations-long republican control in the upcoming redistricting… Anticipate this NOT being the case.  Jacksonians used the Republicans… NOT the other way around.  Census data shows the US as increasingly concentrated in the suburbs, which may overwhelm other considerations.  Republicans have yet to prove themselves trustworthy, and may just have represented the lesser of the two evils.

Expect “unexpected” support for non-traditional life styles, from “supposedly conservative politicians” provided not special, expensive favors are asked. Jacksonians mostly just want to be left alone in their personal lives, and may well put up with something they don't like if it isn't too much of a bother.

Expect rooting out government fraud to be a major arena where political factions try to outdo each other as “Defenders of the Little Guy.” Anticipate forensic accounting and auditing being the hottest growth fields for years to come. 

Expect blanket Presidential Pardons for everyone involved in the Real Estate Industry from 1990 through 2010 being presented and justified as a cheaper alternative than honest investigation and prosecution of evildoers. Anticipate something equally massive and over-reactive on the title problem.

Expect initiatives toward a federal weapons permit either through mandatory recognition of state licenses (like driving licenses today) or a single national permit.  Anticipate a sudden drop in violent crime.  Go read the statistics yourself-- you have been lied to by people who do not trust you.

Expect a substantial decline in governmental funding for the arts, higher education, “public” television and radio.  Jacksonians are opposed to all forms of government waste they are not personally benefiting from.  Anticipate the collapse of over half the independent “higher education” institutions in the US from financial stress.

Expect the “immigration problem” to start solving itself as jobs continue to dry up.  What is “acceptable” in a job will shift as employment becomes more scarce and resources dry up.  Anticipate problems elsewhere.   A flood of hardworking, well-trained and highly entrepreneurial  "undocumenteds" used to relative clean governments could have an interesting effect of several countries.Type your paragraph here.