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Chapter Seven: The Failed State

Ideological partisanship made bumper-sticker, sound-bite politics easier

because once you drank the Kool-Aid of your party you knew what you thought about any question

before you heard the question. 

Reviling your ideological enemies made fund-raising easier because there is nothing like fear and anger 

to get someone to empty his head and his pockets on your behalf. 

It is tempting to say that this is what changed politics, that ideological partisanship ruined the country. 

But it was not the cause, it was one of the effects of what really happened -- the rise of the insatiable need 

for cash for the candidates, and of ways to distract the constituents from what their representatives were doing to get the cash.

The dry rot that suffuses our institutions today is largely the result of attempts to avoid legitimate pain, 

to make sure that taxes are never increased, purchases never deferred, discomfort never borne 

and consequences always for somebody else. 

It is amazing how quickly the high priests of the Free Enterprise System, who worship individual responsibility 

when they are making millions of dollars, instantly become socialists when there are losses to be borne. 

It's even more remarkable how quickly their government follows them in this transformation, 

until you remember that in the good times, their profits funded the campaigns of countless politicians, 

so that in the bad times, their government would be there for them. 

It's just another kind of credit default swap.