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Mark Steyn on what space aliens will say about North Troy, Vermont

Friday, August 5, 2011
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HH: I hold in my hands what is certain to be a New York Times bestseller next week – After America: Get Ready For Armageddon by none other than Columnist To the World, Mark Steyn, who joins me now. Mark, congratulations on the publication of After America, but I mean, aren’t you a little alarmist? It’s not like the stock market’s going to fall 4% or anything.

MS: No, no, no. And I like the way that in effect, the United States Congress arranged their own pre-publicity campaign for the book over this last month.

HH: (laughing)

MS: I’m very grateful for that, although they’re a bit like the Broadway musical rewrite. They had a happy ending at the 11th hour, and without giving anything away about the plot of my book, I’m not sure the last chapter of my book is quite as optimistic as the splendid bipartisan deal announced in Washington.

HH: We are going to have an extended conversation on Monday with Mark Steyn about After America, as I have read it this weekend. I’ve not yet cracked it open, it just got here, but I’m going to read it over the weekend, and I’m going to talk about it at length on Monday. But by way of teasing, Mark, first of all, how do people get an autographed copy of After America? Can they do that at www.steynonline.com?

MS: Yes, absolutely. We can’t compete with the big retailers like Barnes & Noble and Amazon, although we haven’t gone under like Borders. So we can’t offer the steep discounts, but we are the only source on the planet for a personally autographed copy. So if you go into some bookstore in Berkeley, and some guy tries to sell you an autographed copy of After America, he’s just taken it into the back room and put his signature on it. It isn’t the real deal. We’re the only source for your autographed copy.

HH: And I’m wondering if you’re going to be tempted to add in, in the Fall, a discount on your new Christmas CD release.

MS: (laughing) Well, I guess I’m a schizophrenic personality, because whatever you say about the Christmas CD release, it will not be as depressing as After America. After America takes a bleaker view of human nature than my Christmas CD.

HH: Oh, good, so I’ve got you committed to doing a new CD. CD number three is coming from Mark Steyn in the fall?

MS: Well, look, it’s very hard to stop me doing Christmas CD’s.

HH: (laughing)

MS: If it wasn’t for the impending collapse of the United States, I’d be working on my Christmas CD all year round.

HH: Oh, we’ve got to laugh, because…

MS: But the reality is that once America slides into the abyss, the market for my Christmas CD is going to be extremely small, so we’ve all got to do our bit to save Western civilization.

HH: Well, I want to know, you know, I’m so glad to help promote this, because I want Regnery to succeed as well. But who did the cover art of a corpse with a toe tag on After America?

MS: Yeah, it’s basically Uncle Sam with a toe tag, which I think, you know, I understand, I think we put it up there on the 4th of July, and a lady wrote to our mailbox to say she’d just seen our song of the week feature, which was the great George M. Cohan’s song, You’re A Grand Old Flag. And then she’d seen this toe tag to Uncle Sam that had ruined her 4th of July. But I immediately called her up and sang You’re a Grand Old Tag. But this is a toe tag of Uncle Sam lying in the morgue, because I think that’s what’s at stake. I don’t think we’re facing genteel decline like Austria after the Hapsburg empire, or you know, like a mini post-war continental nation’s. Declines proved rather agreeable, because it was cushioned by the United States, by the Pax Americana. Who’s going to cushion America’s decline the way America cushioned Europe’s decline. There’s no good answer to that question.

HH: It’s not going to be the People’s Republic of China. Mark Steyn, one of the things I’ve been focusing on this week is, whatever one thought of the deal, it can’t be denied it cut $350 billion dollars out of Defense, and it has a $600 billion dollar looming sword of Damocles over the rest of the Defense budget. That’s all we’ve got, really, left as a marker of national power. Yes, we have enormous productivity, and we’ve got enormous economic problems, but our military remains one of those things about which you cannot deny superiority unless we gut it.

MS: Yes, and I think when you look at what happened in, say, the United Kingdom between the early 1950s and the late 1990s, that basically the proportion spent on social programs and the proportion spent on Defense inverted and flipped. And that will happen here. I mean, we might as well get used to it. The idea that the United States can have the kind of government on the scale that Obama and Harry Reid foresee, with $15 trillion dollars of debt, adding another $7 trillion dollars of debt, and maintain a military of global reach, is simply incredible. You can have one or…you can have Swedish scale government, or you can have the U.S. military, but you can’t have both. And I think if you look at which way Obama or Harry Reid or Dick Durbin or any of these guys would want to jump, it’s pretty obvious which way they’re going to go.

HH: Right. Now Mark Steyn, I had a conversation about the future of Europe a couple of days ago, and I’m curious after this latest round of panic, because it wasn’t just our market today that collapsed, but Italy and Spain and Great Britain’s markets all collapsed, the bonds are looking terrible. Do you think the Euro is doomed?

MS: Well, I think the Euro should probably retrench to a northern Euro. But you cannot have a currency that embraces Germany and Sweden on the one hand, and Greece and Portugal on the other. You place enormous strains, because simply put, nation-states no longer have the freedom to make the economic decisions, make the tough economic decisions, when they’re wedged into an artificial currency. The U.S. dollar, by the way, didn’t really take off as a national currency until the mid-19th Century. For the first, whatever it is, 75 years of this republic, all kinds of currencies floated around, according to local conditions. And that’s because in a way, a national currency is the last piece of the puzzle. And you don’t want to, and what you’re doing is you’re straightjacketing, straightjacketing countries and preventing them from making the tough economic decisions, and you’re risking contagion as we’re seeing in Britain with this massive exposure to Belgian banks, as you’re seeing in Germany’s holding of all kinds of funny debt from Eastern Europe and from Greece. You can’t isolate these things anymore. It’s all going to spread.

HH: You know, Mark, it’s so eerie that your book is called After America, because what we’re watching in Europe is really the first economic crisis after America’s position of guarantor of the international financial order. We are now no longer that guarantor, because we are so deep in debt. So this is after America in Europe, and it doesn’t look good.

MS: Yeah, and I think that’s a good way to look at it, actually, because for example, who had bailed out Portugal’s utilities just a couple of months ago? It was the Chinese. The Chinese, having bought up basically everything on the rest of the planet they need, are now moving into the developed world. And it’s a strange thing. This is what is so foolish about U.S. policy, because when money drains, power drains. And that is the lesson that nobody in Washington seems to understand with this fraudulent, bipartisan deal.

HH: Now I want to turn to politics for a moment, because one of the most interesting aspects of the deficit deal is that every Republican candidate for a Senate seat that is open or held by a Democrat that is important to us, and I’ve listed them all in a new column at Townhall.com, whether it’s Josh Mandel in Ohio, or Ted Cruz in Texas, or Adam Hasner in Florida, there’s a whole long list of them. Every one of them came out critical of the deal, and every presidential candidate not named Huntsman came out against the deal.

MS: Right.

HH: What’s that tell you, Mark Steyn?

MS: Well, I think that tells you that out here in the real world, we understand that making promises, that presenting the plan to run up an additional $7 trillion dollars of debt, does not represent any kind of savings. We need to stop the spending now. The spending in this country is nuts. I was, last week, just after speaking to you, I drove back south of the border. I’d been over the border in Quebec for lunch, and I passed a little border post at North Troy, Vermont. On the Canadian side, Her Canadian Majesty makes do with a one room hut. On North Troy, they’ve rebuilt this border post that handles a couple of cars an hour with this big, two-story facility, six lanes of traffic. It looks absurd. In the rubble of the United States, space aliens will be saying North Troy, Vermont, what a mighty empire this must have been here.

HH: (laughing)

MS: Look at the size of this mighty palace. Stop the spending now, not in 2020. Stop it now. You guys are nuts. You’ve got to stop it now.

HH: Now Mark Steyn, I want to close by finding out, are you doing a book tour? Are people going to have a chance to meet and shake your hand? Or are you doing most marketing over the airwaves?

MS: Well, I’m doing a lot of cyber and virtual and telephonic promotion, but I will be getting out and about. And in fact, I’m, I think the first event is in the great Granite state of New Hampshire, at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics, where that ghastly CNN debate took place with John King doing all this stupid Coke or Pepsi lines. So I may be doing my John King impression on that stage in New Hampshire in about a week and a half’s time.

HH: Thank you, Mark. We’ll talk on Monday at length about After America. I remind everyone it’s linked at Hughhewitt.com. It’s at Amazon.com. You can get an autographed copy by going to www.steynonline.com, the only place you can get an autographed copy. And I’m hoping you give it for every Democrat friend in your life for Christmas. Go get ten copies of After America, and let them see where President Obama is taking us, subtitle, Get Ready For Armageddon. It is not happy. It is not happy, but it is necessary. Mark Steyn, thank you.

End of interview.

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