Posts Tagged ‘gay marriage’

Predictions

November 11, 2016

No more gridlock! With Republicans controlling all three branches of government, we will see action on all kinds of fronts.

I realize that making predictions is a fool’s game, but I’m writing down what I expect to see in order to test myself. Nothing would delight me more than to be wrong on many of these prognostications… but we’ll see.

Health care. Obamacare is toast. Mostly we will revert to the status quo ante, which was not good. The one piece I can’t quite foresee is whether Republicans will repeal the law requiring insurance companies to insure everybody, regardless of pre-existing conditions. The one piece I am sure of is that they will repeal the mandate that everybody buy insurance. Without that mandate the economics of the insurance-based system don’t work, especially if the insurance companies have to insure everybody. Obamacare tried to patch up the existing system; it was questionable whether it could succeed even if encouraged. We’ll never know! I predict that health care will be in crisis within Trump’s first term. Eventually (in the next decade) we will end up with single-payer insurance, which we should have had in the first place.

Trade. Not much will change. There will probably be a show of saber-rattling, maybe with China, but Republicans are the party of big business and business interests are strongly for maintaining the status quo. .

Immigration. Not much will change. There will be an early show of building a wall—a Potemkin wall about 10 miles long somewhere in Texas. Immigrants, legal and illegal, will continue to come, but there will be a great reduction in the number of refugees accepted through legal processes. The millions of immigrants living without papers will continue doing as they have done; they will not be deported—business and farming interests will make sure of that–nor will they be given a path to citizenship.

Tax reform. Taxes will be cut, especially for the rich along the lines of Paul Ryan’s proposals. This will result in huge deficits, which will result in legislation cutting programs for the poor. The deficits will continue to mount until we reach a financial crisis.

Infrastructure. We will finally get money for roads and bridges. This will last until huge deficits catch our attention, probably in 2-3 years.

Regulation. The regulatory apparatus of the federal government will be reduced in every area, but especially regarding banks and financial institutions, consumer protection, and the environment. The impacts of these changes will be diffuse and hard to measure, except regarding banks and financial institutions, where they will inevitably create a crisis that will require a bailout. How long before this happens is hard to predict, but that it will happen is as close to a sure thing as we know. Banks and financial institutions have not learned how to regulate themselves; and Republicans both hate regulations and love banks and financial institutions.

Climate, coal, solar. Attempts by the federal government to slow climate change will end. Problems with climate change will continue to grow (as they probably would even if we did our best). I can’t foresee how cataclysmic the problems will be, nor how soon they will become cataclysmic. The coal business in America will continue its death spiral, as fracking spreads (with less regulation!) and keeps the price of energy low. Solar and wind energy will grow due to their efficiencies and also because some large states (California) will subsidize their use.

Social issues. Abortion will continue unabated, though perhaps the Supreme Court will allow more restrictions in Southern states. Gay marriage will be universally accepted. There will probably be more latitude for people and institutions to discriminate by, say, refusing to bake a wedding cake or make facilities available for gay marriages, but people will care less and the issue will all but disappear. Marijuana legalization will continue to spread; problems with illegal drugs like heroin will also continue to grow. Over all, America will continue to move toward more liberal and hedonistic values, as seen on TV.

Social Security and Medicare. There will be benefit cuts. Social security’s finances will be stabilized, probably by raising the age of retirement; and Medicare will continue to grow hugely more expensive, prompting even more cuts. See Health Care, above.

Foreign relations. Not much will change. There is no appetite for “boots on the ground” nor for a policy that enables Iran to build a nuclear bomb. The world will be slightly friendlier for dictators, but they weren’t doing badly before. Terrorism will continue unabated for the foreseeable future; the problems of the Middle East will continue and the refugee crisis will grow.

The unknown. By definition, the unknown cannot be predicted, except for this: we will be confronted by problems that we do not anticipate. Some possible areas: financial meltdowns, events of nature (storms, earthquakes), cyber disasters, terrorism, war. But there may well be categories that we don’t even know exist. How will the new Republican/Trump administration respond? That is hard to foresee, but recent history does not encourage a rosy view of Republicans’ ability to cope with reality. For the last eight years Republicans running Congress have majored in outrage, not in governance. And President Trump has no experience in governance at all. He does not seem to be a calm and measured person. The category of “unknown” is by far the most frightening of all—as it always is.

 

 

Gay Marriage is Conservative Victory?

April 3, 2013

A very interesting column from David Brooks. He salutes gay marriage as a lone modern indicator of people voluntarily seeking to bind their freedom in commitments.

“Once, gay culture was erroneously associated with bathhouses and nightclubs. Now, the gay and lesbian rights movement is associated with marriage and military service. Once the movement was associated with self-sacrifice, it was bound to become popular.”

Gay marriage is thus a conservative victory, in his telling, and he wonders whether it will lead to a trend. ” Maybe we’ll see other spheres in life where restraints are placed on maximum personal choice.”

Gay Marriage Is a Done Deal

March 28, 2013

Gay marriage is a done deal. It will soon be legally sanctioned nearly everywhere in America, regardless of what the courts say. Public opinion has swung decisively.

It’s certainly surprised me. I remember reading Andrew Sullivan advocating gay marriage (in 1995?) and thinking he was far out on the edge.

How could America change its mind so quickly? Here are some reasons:

–Gays comprise a very small percentage of the population, indivisible from the rest of us (i.e. not identified with any ethnicity or income level or gender). It’s hard to imagine such a tiny minority making much difference in society. Thus it’s not that threatening. And it’s hard to stigmatize gays as belonging to “them” once you know a few. The brave homosexuals who came out of the closet and demonstrated that they were ordinary folks have driven a lot of this change.

–As David Brooks wrote yesterday, gay marriage is socially conservative. It values family stability and lasting love. In contemporary America gays seem to be virtually the only people thoroughly excited about marriage. How can you be horrified? Plus they make their appeal on the basis of fairness, a hard claim for any American to deny.

The really odd thing is that while gays rush toward marriage, marriage is in trouble among non-elite Americans. If you didn’t finish college your chances of getting married and staying married are small. The odds are good that a child in non-elite America will grow up without two parents.

The acceptance of gay marriage is closely related to a deeper, longer-running trend toward defining marriage by love alone. Through most of history marriage was also an economic partnership and an arrangement for producing offspring. (Reading Anthony Trollope’s The Way We Live Now impressed this on me once again.) Many also saw marriage as religiously holy, a window into God’s relationship to his people. Such factors operate on a longer timeline than merely human love, which is famously volatile. (Consider Shakespeare’s sonnets.)

What will marriage look like a generation from now? Gay marriage will certainly be part of the mix. But marriage may be a temporary, shifting affinity significant to only a minority of people. Because what is the point, if all you need is love? You don’t need marriage to love. And when love dies, is anything left?

While gay marriage is here to stay, it’s not clear how great a prize it will prove to be.