The New Cold War

It will be an odd year, a year in which there will be no election. It will have an unlucky number, and it will begin with a severe political hangover, making the year ahead appear unstable.

With trillions of dollars sitting idle and consumers doing their best to stretch a dollar, we start this New Year as tentative as common sense would dictate. This is no way to run a country, even when or if our political leaders rush in to save the day from a self-imposed cliff.

Kevin Clark is a Senior Vice-President with Raymond James and Associates, and is a contributor to The Brenner Brief.

Kevin Clark is a Senior Vice-President with Raymond James and Associates, and is a contributor to The Brenner Brief.

I think we all know-we instinctively know — this is no way to enable democracy and preserve liberty for the many generations to come. No, the feud in Washington is wearing pretty thin, and it will take courage and honor to fix these problems; both of which have been in short supply.

I saw a few survey results the other day, and watching the daily dysfunctional rhetoric emanating out of Washington makes me want to focus on what real people are worried about. The survey revealed that less than 30 percent of investors believe either Social Security or Medicare will provide the benefits they expect throughout retirement. The survey went on to say 65 percent of investors are worried about taxes going higher in 2013. So, the vast majority of Americans believe they will be paying more and getting less. It’s even hard to imagine a socialist being happy with those results.

I don’t believe we need to do a survey to know that the nation is in a pretty deep hole — a gorge that naturally was formed through years of reckless government spending, eroding the natural wealth America had accumulated. It’s not as though we thoughtfully identified priorities in the use of tax revenues. We have squandered trillions on needles programs as though money really does grow on trees.

The truth is, there is time to implement needed reforms to extend and build on the many examples of innovation and entrepreneurship economic freedom creates. We must recognize that, at the same time, the window is closing and, once shut, will be difficult to reopen.

Reform will not be easy. So often, we spend valuable time focusing on symptoms rather than the root disease that has plagued broken empires throughout history, making reform seem nearly impossible. We all need to spend more time contemplating that the seeds of decadence that were sown in Rome are the same seeds that have been sown throughout history, and if not tended, will eventually be fatal to freedom.

We don’t have a gun problem, a marriage problem, a debt problem or an abortion problem. We have a culture problem. These issues are the casualties of war in a divided nation with divided world views.

When the Cold War ended, the US economy enjoyed a peace dividend that created the greatest bull market in history. Today, what holds our economy back and hampers wealth creation can partly be explained in observing a new cold war. This conflict is not identified as North and South or blue and gray, but rather right and left and blue and red. Daily, this conflict is being fought in the intellectual ghettos of public education, challenged in the lower court systems and absorbed through the entertainment industry giving credence to social justice at any cost, rather than building up moral character and civic virtue. A peace dividend will become possible if and only if America becomes that “shining city on a hill” that President Reagan famously talked about.

As a culture, we seem to diminish hard work, ridicule faith and weaken traditional families all in the name of progress moving toward some perceived justice. Like I said, “this is no way to run a country.” More importantly, it’s exactly the way to diminish an empire and strip liberty from its citizens.

So, as we wait to have the fiscal cliff resolved, let us aspire for a new peace dividend while seeking higher ground in this culture war that is raging. This will be trench warfare, where losing or winning ground will be measured in inches not miles. With people believing that they will be getting less from more, conservatives should recognize that economic freedom and expanding opportunities will be directly tied to this war’s ultimate resolution.



  1. You’re spot on that what we have is a culture problem. The left really believes in their side. Economic freedom is just not up for discussion with leftists.

  2. This is an excellent column. Liberals began to implement cultural changes a century ago through schools and courts etc. We will never recover lost ground until we realize that is where the battle is.


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