The twin peaks of oil and government are causally linked: central government's great era of expansion has been fueled by abundant, cheap liquid fuels. As economies powered by abundant cheap energy expanded, so did tax revenues.
Demographics also aided Central States’ expansion: as the population of working-age citizens grew, so did the work force and the taxes paid by workers and enterprises.
The third support of Central State expansion was debt, and more broadly, financialization, which includes debt, leverage, and institutionalized incentives for speculation and misallocation of capital. Not only have Central States benefited from the higher tax revenues generated by speculative bubbles, they now depend on debt to finance their annual spending. In the U.S., roughly one-third of Federal expenditures are borrowed every year. In Japan -- which is further along on this timeline, relative to America -- tax revenues barely cover social security payments and interest on central government debt; all other spending is funded with borrowed money.
The fourth dynamic of Central State expansion is the State’s ontological imperative to expand. The State has only one mode of being, expansion. It has no concept of, or mechanisms for, contraction.
In my book Resistance, Revolution, Liberation: A Model for Positive Change, I explain this ontological imperative in terms of risk and gain. From the Central State’s point of view, everything outside its control poses a risk. The best way to lower risk is to control everything that can be controlled. Once the potential sources of risk are controlled, then risk can be shifted to others.
|Systemic risk has been transferred to you|