Saturday, November 10, 2007

America begins slide into third world status

It coincides with the rising price of oil and the falling price of bucks. Three GOP administrations, Reagan, Bush Sr., Bush Jr., have presided over three pernicious trends: a falling dollar, the US loss of manufacturing preeminence, the decline of the US domestic oil industry. The sum of all three trends equals the loss of US empire. The policies of three GOP administrations have not merely failed to reverse the trends, they birthed them and made them worse with ideology, bigotry and incompetence. Those who called a new Bush regime a "banana republic" during the 2000 election debacle could not have known how prescient they had been. All has come true. The "empire" is lost.

The dollar has dropped 12 percent since the start of the year. My own sources --European bankers --tell me the dollar will continue to fall until the US has what they have termed a "credible" regime and credible leadership. Smart money all over the world is dumping the dollar for the Euro. Until Bush is retired, the American people will continue to pay for his incompetence and his lawlessness. Bush is content to finance the trade deficit on the backs of American consumers.

At the very root of the problem is the fact that in 2004, the US topped the list of oil importing nations with imports of 11.8 million barrels of oil per day. That's more than the next three --China, German, and North Korea --combined. The problem is not only oil. The US Department of Commerce reports that the US "trade deficit" --our total exports vs our total imports --has increased 18% from 2004 to a record $726 billion in 2005. US dependence on oil is responsible, says the US commerce department, for some two-thirds of the increase in the US trade deficit in 2005.

Technically, price hikes due to trade imbalance is not inflation but to a consumer trying to make ends meet with a dollar that buys less and less, what difference does it make?
There are two sides to any exchange rate: Europe's prospects matter as well as America's. In 2006 the Euro area looks likely to grow at its fastest pace for six years. That its GDP growth is modest by American standards, largely because of its slower population growth, is not the point: what matters is that this year it has surprised the soothsayers time and again. That has lifted its currency, and not just against the dollar. A euro now buys more yen than at any time since the single currency was created.

---The Economist, The Dollar Heads for a Tumble

So --when a European financial expert tells me that more and more people are dumping dollars for Euros, Americans would be well-advised to pay attention. It was not so long ago, after all, that the American right wing was advocating a boycott of French wines and "French Fries". What a ludicrous and pathetic spectacle that was! There is a sick, sophomoric mentality in America that likes to coin stupid terms like Islamo-fascism and Euro-trash. Both terms are "designer" red flag terms chosen by the GOP for their appeal to bigotry and jingoism. The US was even at that time a net importing nation of almost everything, in no position to terrify other nations with comic opera threats based upon the misconception that the US had not yet embarked upon an inexorable slide into third world status.

The unkindest cut of all is the Democratic sell out to the GOP! The result is the GOP has now "auctioned off" the office of President of the United States, an eventuality embodied in Mussolini's term: corporatism. Let's put it another way: the apparatus of the US government is now "owned" by rich, elite corporate interests who pay for the campaigns (bread and circuses), pay for the candidates, pay for the legislation they want and need to rape the environment, dominate the world's natural resources to include oil while enslaving the middle and lower classes.

Something similar occurred on March 28th, 193 AD, when the Praetorian guards, literally, sold the Roman empire to the wealthy senator Didius Julianus for the bargain price of 6250 drachmas. I haven't tried to buy drachmas (lately) but it sounds like a bargain compared to the absurdly high prices that are paid by US corporations for control of the US Presidency, indeed, the US government. Our modern day "Didius" has fared better than Julianus.
A magnificent feast was prepared by his order, and he amused himself until a very late hour, with dice, and the performances of Pylades, a celebrated dancer. Yet it was observed that after the crowd of flatterers dispersed, and left him to darkness, solitude, and terrible reflection, he passed a sleepless night; revolving most probably in his mind his own rash folly, the fate of his virtuous predecessor, and the doubtful and dangerous tenure of an empire, which had not been acquired by merit, but purchased by money.

- Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire; See also: Edward Gibbon: General Observations on the Fall of the Roman Empire in the West

An important point must be made here. Gibbon reports that Julianus paid for the Roman Empire in "drachmas". "Drachmas" denotes Greek currency. At that time, the basic unit of currency in Ancient Rome was a bronze coin called an as or aes. A sestertius, another bronze coin, was worth four asses. A silver coin, the denarius, was worth 16 asses. [I will not go there!]

If Gibbon is correct, it is an indication that Rome, by that time in decline, had suffered a catastrophic devaluation of its coinage. Even now "real" money is considered by some to be "gold" if anything at all has intrinsic value. That Didius Julianus would pay in Greek currency, not Roman, indicates to me that the smart money had already dumped the as, the asses, and the sestertius for drachmas. At last, bronze would seem to have little intrinsic value as "real" money unless you had enough of it to melt down for public statuary. I would wager that only very wealthy Roman aristocracy possessed denarius, which they might have held against the complete collapse of bronze coins.


Kucinich Believes We MUST Impeach. He's right!


Part Deaux

Dennis Kucinich is correct in describing a "race to the bottom", a phrase that describes well the US decline under GOP domination and incompetence. All but Bush's increasingly tiny elite have financed Bush's on-going folly. A falling dollar is a market response to a balance of trade imbalance, a long-term decline in US exports begun, I believe, with the GOP administration of Richard Nixon.

Most economists will tell you that for most of some 50 years, the US enjoyed an economic pre-eminence if not dominance characterized by strong domestic industries, notably steel and automobile manufacturing. Since important discoveries in Southeast Texas and, later, West Texas, the US was, for awhile, the world's leading oil producing nation.

As US dominance of world supplies began to slip, "terrorism" grew worse. [ See chart at this link. ] I recently provoked the ire of the Heritage Foundation by stating and proving --to the foundation's chagrin --the simple truth: Terrorism is Worse Under GOP Regimes. More than enough stats make an equally compelling case about crime: crime is always worse under GOP regimes. That this should turn out to be the case may have something to do with the fact that since 1980, unemployment, as well as terrorism, is always worse under GOP regimes.
Job Growth Per Year Under Most Recent Presidents

Johnson 3.8%
Carter 3.1
Clinton 2.4
Kennedy 2.3
Nixon 2.3
Reagan 2.1
Bush 0.6

Based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics Survey.
I don't believe in GOP coincidence theories. There are reasons for the sorry state of nation and state. GOP policies are injurious to the nation's fiscal health, its security, and the well-being of US citizens. The GOP is endemically corrupt and dishonest. I have stated and will repeat: the GOP is not a political party is it a criminal conspiracy not unlike that described by St. Thomas More in the England of Henry VIII.
...so God help me, I can perceive nothing but a certain conspiracy of rich men procuring their own commodities under the name and title of the commonwealth. They invent and devise all means and crafts, first how to keep safely, without fear of losing, that they have unjustly gathered together, and next how to hire and abuse the work and labour of the poor for as little money as may be.

-Of the Religions in Utopia, St. Thomas More

There is a reason "terrorism" is worse under GOP regimes. As an Iranian diplomat told me in Houston almost one year ago, oil is a curse. He was not alone. Many "industry-watchers" now use the term "curse" to refer to the nature of oil exploitation that democracy, public institutions, and civil liberties are often retarded because of it. Civil liberties are most often dispensed with altogether.

Oil wealth concentrates at the top. People in Venezuela, Nigeria, and Azerbaijan enjoy few benefits of oil production their countries. We now see in the US the unseemly spectacle that other nations have always known, that is, ruthless factions scrapping for control and riches.

What is needed is a radically different approach. A recent report quotes British energy economist David Fleming:
Anticipated supply shortages could lead easily to disturbing scenes of mass unrest as witnessed in Burma this month [2006]. For government, industry and the wider public, just muddling through is not an option any more as this situation could spin out of control and turn into a complete meltdown of society.

--British Economist David Fleming in Crude Oil: The Supply Outlook, Report to the Energy Watch Group, October 2007

We may have already entered the melt-down phase. For too long, Americans were just barely aware that the price they paid for gasoline was about one-third the price Europeans paid. But you have to credit the GOP with resourcefulness. The Bush administration delivered a message to the faithful: the war in Iraq would result in lower prices even as Bush cited every other reason for waging war. To assert that oil was behind Bush's war of aggression was tantamount to treason. It was unpatriotic. It was enough to get you pilloried and ostracized. Every SUV sported a flag.

Many worry about a "hard landing". Inflation and interest rates rise as the dollar falls. A collapsing dollar threatens to make of the US a third world nation, a "banana Republican" nation, if you will. Americans had grown accustomed to the accoutrements of empire. Oil and the lifestyle it afforded was cheap. The rest of the world had a stake in keeping us afloat. After all, they wished to export to the US. That will be impossible should the dollar collapse.

Per capita oil production peaked in the 1970s. Globalization was supposed to make us rich even as it lifted millions in the "third world" out of poverty and hunger. This has not worked out as planned. The Kucinich take on all that is correct. Recently, the one-two punch of corporatization and globalization has undermined US welfare even as it threatens to end in a global crisis of our making.


Money as Debt


Additional Resources
  • Strategies and Strategists
  • Jeremy Scahill - US war of conquest in Iraq
  • Retro: Mailer and McLuhan
  • Mission Accomplished
  • The Collapse of the US Dollar

  • An excerpt:
    "Imagine being sent forward in time from 1967 to 2007. Instead of gas costing 25 cents a gallon, it's $2.50. A decent home, intead of costing $15,000, costs $250,000 or more. Imagine your shock that the average American family owes $9000 on their credit cards. Imagine entering a society where less than 2% of the cars on the road are owned by those that drive them, and less than 1% of the homes are owned by the people who live in them. Welcome to the debt based slave state of America in 2007. It is all symbolic of how the globalists have America right where they want it, and are eager to finish it off. As the dollar continues losing strength, what will this mean to the world?"






Bush Lies



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