Archive for January, 2009

Ignorance Prefers Ignorance

January 14, 2009

Surprised that an ignorant man wants to remain ignorant? This well sums up the conservative media.

WURZELBACHER: you don’t need to see what’s happening every day, that’s my personal opinion, you don’t have to share it. But, you know, okay, you don’t have to see, you know, 800 dead, 801 dead. It’s like they drill that in your head. … They want you to sit there saying there are so many people dying. You know these are large, these are numbers, you know I don’t want to take away from that. Let me, uh, think about how to say that again. Just essentially, they keep drilling it into your head, newscast after newscast after newscast. I think the military should decide what information to give the media and then the media can release it to the public. I don’t believe they need to be in the front lines with soldiers, I don’t believe they need to, uh, you know, be bothering the military for information or for access to certain areas.

[via Thinkprogess]

Watching the Money and Power Move to the East

January 2, 2009

Imagine the scenario in which the U.S. government decided that building our own weapons was no longer important. Instead, we bought weapons from China, India and Europe.  Would this be a smart thing as a superpower? To depend on competitors, even potential combatants in a conflict, for the majority of our weapons and technology? No, it isn’t. It would be asinine, and I daresay that Americans would fire every politician that supported such a proposal.

Yet, in truth, we have done a very similar thing with our economy. Economies are like armies in that countries depend on them and gather their strength through them, the strength to defend, to deter, and to build. Yet, we have amassed debt, which we have done before, but now we find our debt being held by foreign governments such as China. We have allowed American companies to depend on foreign workers, confusing the idea that profitable companies means a profitable America. It doesn’t work that way, however, because the vast majority of Americans are workers, not high-level managers in corporations.

Over the last few years, our political leaders have done little to ensure that the American economy and American workers are secured. The Iraq war, for all its billions of dollars, has in a very real sense been a case of robbing Mary to pay Paul. Regardless of the success of our military intervention there, we have weakened our economy and financial security in doing so.

The National Intelligence Council has published a reported titled 2025 Global Trends: A Transformed World that paints a weakened U.S., based largely on economic developments in recent years.  Our greatest challenges in the coming years are economic, not military, which is unfortunate as the Bush administration has focused on the latter to the great detriment of the former.

In terms of size, speed, and irectional flow, the global shift in relative wealth an economic power now under way–roughly from West to East–is without precedent in modern history. [p. 7]

The scarcity of resources should be taken as seriously as weapon development in years past. I encourage you to read the report yourself, to scan the different sections at least. And then ask yourself this question: is the U.S. in a better or worse position than it was 8-12 years ago to deal with the economic competition in the East and elsewhere? Are we in a better position to be energy independent so that we are not dependent on countries like Russia and Saudi Arabia? Do we want to be able to determine our own policies, our own future, or do we want to be dependent upon or limited by other countries?

Full of provocative quotes, the one on page 94 jumped out to me:

The dollar is vulnerable to a major financial crisis and the dollar’s international  role is likely to decline from that of the unapralleled “global reserve currency,” to something of a first among equals in a basket of currencies by 2025. This could occur suddenly in the wake of a crisis or gradually with global rebalancing. This decline will entail real tradeoffs and force new, difficult choices in the conduct of American foreign policy. [my emphasis]

If you are familiar with the idea of cutting jobs to appease stockholders, then you have some idea of what it could mean to have our country’s debt held by countries like China, although I doubt China will be as understand and sympathetic as stockholders.

I’m not reimagining the “Buy American” campaign. Instead, we should learn from conservationism, the idea that we strengthen our (economic) environment and resources: use but replenish and grow. We have focused so much on the profits of our companies that we left a weakened American worker pass without notice, let alone concern, even rage.

More importantly, we should look at the whole of our economy. America and Americans prospered for so long because we had both opportunity and plentiful resources.  And I think from the larger perspective, American workers are part of those resources. To interchange them with foreign workers is to look at it from a corporate, not an American, persepective.