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Question time on the FM website

24 March 2012

Summary:  We have entered a period of radical change, the results of which we can only guess at.  To help us understand, brought back by popular demand, is Question Time on the FM website.  Ask any question about geopolitics, broadly defined. We — and those reading the FM website — will attempt to answer it in the comments.   All answers welcomed!

Questions received so far

Click on the link to go directly to that thread.  Please use the REPLY button when replying to a previous comment, to keep threads together.

  1. If you were in charge of US grand strategy what would be the ends that you would try to achieve?
  2. Should we call a new Constitutional Convention?
  3. How would reducing our overseas footprint (permanent foreign bases) affect our geopolitical strategy?
  4. {Reply to #2}
  5. Why is gun ownership skyrocketing in America?

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Some political wisdom for your enlightenment:

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121 Comments leave one →
  1. 24 March 2012 2:01 am

    If you were in charge of US grand strategy what would be the ends that you would try to achieve? I don’t mean this in a vague Boydian sense like “increase our internal cohesion” and whatnot.

    Like

    • 24 March 2012 2:16 am

      The late American strategist Col. John Boyd (USAF) said that a grand strategy focused our nation’s actions — political, economic, and military — so as to:

      • Increase our solidarity, our internal cohesion.
      • Weaken our opponents’ resolve and internal cohesion.
      • Strengthen our allies’ relationships to us.
      • Attract uncommitted states to our cause.End conflicts on favorable terms, without sowing the seeds for future conflicts.
        — From Patterns of Conflict, slide 139.

      For us today that means doing things such as:

      • Strengthen the international security regime we worked so hard to build after WWII.
      • Stop our war against Islam and unconditional support for tyrannic regimes in Islamic nations.
      • Adopty a rational foreign policy based on something other than killing, allowing us to reduce military and intel spending to global averages.
      • Strengthen our global position by taking long-term measures to reduce our trade deficit and energy imports.

      Like

  2. 24 March 2012 9:19 am

    The UN Agenda 21 sustainable development plan is communitarian. The European Union is a communitarian organisation. Blair, Brown Scameron and their colleagues are communitarians. So is Obama et al.

    We are having communitarianism forced down our throats.

    Please explain what you understand by the term ‘communitarian’.

    Like

    • 24 March 2012 3:32 pm

      (1) Communitarianism is one of the those big words that has such broad meanings as to have become functionally useless. Like libertarianism. From the Britannica:

      Communitarianism, social and political philosophy that emphasizes the importance of community in the functioning of political life, in the analysis and evaluation of political institutions, and in understanding human identity and well-being. It arose in the 1980s as a critique of two prominent philosophical schools:

      1. contemporary liberalism, which seeks to protect and enhance personal autonomy and individual rights in part through the activity of government, and
      2. libertarianism, a form of liberalism (sometimes called “classical liberalism”) that aims to protect individual rights—especially the rights to liberty and property—through strict limits on governmental power.

      As so often the case, the Wikipedia entry is more specific:

      Though the term communitarianism is of 20th-century origin, it is derived from the 1840s term communitarian, which was coined by Goodwyn Barmby to refer to one who was a member or advocate of a communalist society. The modern use of the term is a redefinition of the original sense. Many communitarians trace their philosophy to earlier thinkers. The term is primarily used in two senses:

      1. Philosophical communitarianism considers classical liberalism to be ontologically and epistemologically incoherent, and opposes it on those grounds. Unlike classical liberalism, which construes communities as originating from the voluntary acts of pre-community individuals, it emphasizes the role of the community in defining and shaping individuals. Communitarians believe that the value of community is not sufficiently recognized in liberal theories of justice.
      2. Ideological communitarianism is characterized as a radical centrist ideology that is sometimes marked by leftism on economic issues and moralism or conservatism on social issues. This usage was coined recently. When the term is capitalized, it usually refers to the Responsive Communitarian movement of Amitai Etzioni and other philosophers.

      (2) “We are having communitarianism forced down our throats.”

      We are on one world. One that grows smaller and more crowded every day. It’s not the wide open empty West of fiction. Get used to it.

      Like

    • 24 March 2012 5:07 pm

      Communitarianism is the model system for global governance. It’s a world religion and a world economic theory, but the most important aspect of Communitarianism is the aquis communitarire, the body of Communitarian Law that governs supreme over every nation.

      The world is huge, only the people’s minds and wallets grow smaller. Nobody will tell you this part, but the Rights of Mother Earth and the 11 Laws of Nature were written and designed to be global Communitarian Law by a nation that changed their national constitution to a Communitarian constitution in 2009. Rio+20 is the big Communitarian celebration of 20 years of fleecing the world.

      Like

    • 24 March 2012 6:34 pm

      While your telling of these myths is entertaining, the reality is your description of “communitarism” as a unitary phenomenon (let alone a coordinatred movement) is completely fictional. It is a broad term describing a wide range of beliefs, many of which are are somewhat contradictory. While many of these threads have religious elements, as do most belief systems — such as free-market capitalism — it has little in common with what are commonly called religions.

      The manufacturing of conspiracies, usually esoteric movements, threatening to take over the nation (now the world) and destroy all that we hold dear is an enduring aspect of western culture. World jewery, the trilateral commission, masons, the UN and its black helocopters — it’s a long list, the length of which casts doubt that Earth has yet evolved intelligent life.

      Like

    • 24 March 2012 7:20 pm

      You’re kidding right? I hope so. because otherwise you’re embarassing yourself with these accusations. Look it up before you write another word to me.

      Like

    • 24 March 2012 7:37 pm

      “it up before you write another word to me.”

      (1) Read my reply more carefully and you’ll see the citations from the Britannica and Wikipedia (the link goes to a longish entry).

      (2) You’re on the wrong website if you expect to be taken seriously with big bold statements and no evidence.

      Like

    • 24 March 2012 9:03 pm

      On Communitarian Law:

      http://www.lawnet.lk/docs/articles/international/HTML/BA58.html

      http://aei.pitt.edu/8169/1/Tremoladafinal.pdf

      http://aei.pitt.edu/8169/

      http://www6.miami.edu/eucenter/Conference_Nov4.pdf

      http://ebooks.unibuc.ro/StiintePOL/recenzie/7.htm

      On Communitarian constitutions:

      Rights of Mother Earth: “Submission by the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature to Río+20, posted at Mother Earth Rights, 22/12/2011

      The Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature, representing 18 organizations from all continents, made a submission to the Río+20 process. Some key issues they proposed:

      We urge the organizers of Earth Summit/Rio +20:

      • to call upon all States, regional bodies, organizations and individuals participating in Rio +20 to adopt the Universal Declaration of the rights of mother earth and to actively support its implementation through law; and
      • to include Plenary and working sessions on how to facilitate sustainable development in harmony with Nature by recognizing, implementing and defending the rights of Nature/ Mother Earth.

      World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth – Building the People’s World Movement for Mother Earth

      Like

    • 27 March 2012 2:43 am

      Well if Osama Bin Laden was in charge of US grand strategy, he’d get America to commit immoral acts; and expend an infinite amount of resources that achieve nothing, that ultimately bankrupt America. I’d recommend the opposite. But since incompetent sociopaths run the country…

      Like

  3. 24 March 2012 12:09 pm

    I would call for a Constitutional Convention. Because we have drifted so far from the vision and hope of our “Founding Mothers and Fathers”, America and the hope thereof as it was originally visioned is on the precipice of falling into the slime of forgotten history.

    Take our national, state and local tax codes, for example, what a mess. Now look at our Constitution and all of the common law around it, what a mess. I am not complaining. Our form of government as originally established is as close to perfect as it can get (read page 7, Greeks and Romans Bearing Gifts: How the Ancients Inspired the Founding Fathers, by Carl J. Richard). However, In the structural struggle for equity and fair play, we are now weighted down with so much case law and regulation that confusion, chaos and internal struggle for power and sole/absolute authority, by competing factionshas, ensued. It’s time for a time out and renewal. A Constitutional Convention is the only way that I believe that we can save ourselves and our nation. Anything else would only be a bandaid over a simmering wound that will not heal.

    Like

    • Pluto permalink
      24 March 2012 12:11 pm

      That’s an answer, not a question!

      Like

    • 24 March 2012 3:39 pm

      A constitutional convention is a fantasy solution, the equivalent of the Blue Fairy for Cinderella, based on an unwillingness to consider the causes of our problems. For details see:

      “All peoples have the government that suits them.” “Every country has the government it deserves”
      — Joseph-Marie, comte de Maistre. From Étude sur la souveraineté (1794) and Lettres et Opuscules (1811)

      Like

    • gregle permalink
      24 March 2012 4:40 pm

      When Illinois drafted a new constitution in the 60’s, they inserted a provision called Home Rule. Any community of 25000 or more is a Home Rule city. They can levy their own sales tax and sell up to $350M in revenue bonds without voter approval. Many pols use these provisions as a cash register to fund their pet projects.

      Be careful what you wish for.

      Like

    • 24 March 2012 5:06 pm

      From Wikipedia entry about home rule in the US:

      In the United States, the legislative authority granted to local governments varies by state. In some states, known as Home Rule States, an amendment to the state constitution grants cities, municipalities, and/or counties the ability to pass laws to govern themselves as they see fit (so long as they obey the state and federal constitutions). In other states, only limited authority has been granted to local governments by passage of statutes in the state legislature. In these states, a city or county must obtain permission from the state legislature if it wishes to pass a law or ordinance which is not specifically permitted under existing state legislation. Most non-home rule states apply the principle known as Dillon’s Rule to determine the bounds of a municipal government’s legal authority.

      In Illinois today Dillon’s Rule applies to municipalities not individually granted home rule.

      Like

    • 24 March 2012 7:30 pm

      A constitutional convention is a dice roll.

      Getting the reforms desired assumes taht a good working majority who supports the reforms you want gets elected. The people who do not want your reforms will work just as hard to get delgates who reject the reforms. Who will win – roll the dice.

      The convention will decide it’s own rules and pick it’s own issues. It may ignore the reason the convention was called may propose changes that have nothing to do with the call for a convention. Will what the convention proposes be an improvement – roll the dice.

      To say we have serious problems is not to say any roll of the dice, even snake eyes, would be an improvement.

      Hank’s Eclectic Meanderings

      Like

    • 24 March 2012 8:24 pm

      Yes, I am aware of the arguments that a Constitutional Convention would be a “dice roll”. However, since Congress would have to write (or adopt an outside bill) a bill and pass it in the same manner as an Amendment, Congress would must be able to write into the bill the rules, procedures and powers given to such a convention. Such a conventional would not be, in my mind, a runaway, uncontrollable process. Enacting such a bill would obviously require time, debate, revision, etcetera, or the hope of getting the 50 state’s approval would be diminished.

      As for my hope that my ideal changes might not happen and a document would be produced not to my liking. I have no such ideal changes. I am merely concerned that we no longer have a KISS (Keep it Simple, Stupid) Republican-Democratic form of government for the lowest common citizen to adequately grasp. What we have is and has become a “Beast”. The Roman Empire, of which much of our foundation was predicated upon, slowly, but surely, became a “Beast” and fell under the massive burden of its own weight (one of many references is “The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire”, Penguin Classics, by Edward Gibbon, Jan 1, 2001). The basis of my point is simplicity, to the simplest degree possible, nothing else just to keep my point simple.

      Like

    • 24 March 2012 8:30 pm

      One more simple point to add to my post of a few moments ago (24 March 2012 8:24 pm). “The ‘Devil’ is in the details” (one reference is Wikipedia). Everyone has probably heard this idiom many times before, but it is pertinent. To keep the “Devil” out Keep It Simple, Stupid (KISS). Case closed.

      Like

    • WTF (unattended gmail) permalink
      24 March 2012 11:45 pm

      George Carlin -“Who Really Controls America”:

      Like

    • Bluestocking permalink
      26 March 2012 10:54 am

      In the end, it scarcely matters whether people think we should call for a new constitutional convention or not…because the odds that we could and would actually get one are so much against us that it seems safe to say we ain’t getting one.

      The biggest problem with the idea of calling for a new constitutional convention is quite simply one of logistics. The Constitution says that a new constitutional convention cannot take place unless or until at least two-thirds of all state legislatures agree that one should be held. This means that even if fewer than fifty state legislatures agree to simply vote on — never mind pass — such a measure, at least 34 of them (and probably more) would need to do so. However, there is no way to force the state legislature to propose a vote even if the people of that state desire it — it’s quite possible that less than 34 states would get that far. Not only that, even if more than 34 states agreed to vote on such a measure, there is no guarantee that at least 34 states would vote in favor of it — indeed, there is a good chance that they wouldn’t. It’s also possible that while waiting for at least 34 states to propose voting on the measure, an election could take place which might change the composition of the legislature in a state that had already voted in favor of such a measure…with the result that the new legislators could conceivably propose and vote in favor of a measure which overturned the previous vote in favor of a new constitutional convention

      Unfortunately, the state legislators have also in many respects simply become a smaller and more localized variation on Congress…meaning that many if not most of the members are intent on making a career out of politics and staying in that chosen career as long as possible, which in turn leaves them vulnerable and susceptible to the whims of those who contribute the most money to their re-election campaign coffers (i.e., special interests). It is probably not in the interest of the Powers That Be for a new constitutional convention to be called, even if simply on the principle that the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t — and we know they will use all the influence at their disposal to see to it that their pet legislators do not vote in favor of calling for a constitutional convention. Furthermore, it’s not exactly a secret that many state legislators aspire to go to Congress one day — and if they had reason to believe that one or more of the issues which would be brought up during the convention would restrict their potential future authority as members of Congress (such as term limits), there is little reason to believe that they would vote in favor of such a measure.

      Finally, even operating under the assumption that 34 states would agree to propose and pass a resolution calling for a new constitutional convention, logistics once more enters the equation — when and where is this going to be held? Events such as these can’t be organized overnight — they require a lot of advance planning and preparation. After all, the original convention was not exactly a fly-by-night operation…and back then, they only had thirteen states to choose from in terms of a location! Which state will have the honor of hosting this historical convention, and how will this be decided? Who will attend as convention delegates and how will they be selected, especially in light of the fact that making certain this is at least a bipartisan (if not nonpartisan) effort is critical? Even supposing that the delegates miraculously manage to overcome all the obstacles to their ostensible objective (one of the biggest being disagreement between opposing factions) and eventually succeed in producing a coherent document…then what? How would Congress — especially in this day and age — be likely to react to the knowledge that the American people are attempting an end-run not only around their authority but potentially around our entire system of government????

      Like

    • Michael Kelly permalink
      26 March 2012 5:01 pm

      On 26 March, 2012, Bluestocking posted, [quote] “In the end, it scarcely matters whether people think we should call for a new constitutional convention or not…” [endquote]

      Bluestocking, I agree with nearly everything you wrote. A Constitutional Convention? To save America we need one, but it will never happen. America has become a “Bureaucratic Beast” –
      http://s19.postimage.org/m3zbmgrvn/ZP_TOP_HEAVY_Beast_fpv2_Small_4x5.jpg, which is doomed to do fail if it follows in the path of other great nations of the past when plagued by “puffed up, bloated, top-heavy regimes.” If America doesn’t fail and become something that we no
      longer recognize I will be amazed, but exhuberent. In Plato’s “Republic” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Republic_(Plato)#The_dialectical_forms_of_government, he postulated that forms of government were cyclical, and there are five regimes in that cycle, each one leading to the next: (1) Aristocracy, (2) Timocracy, (3) Oligarchy, (4) Democracy and (5) Tyranny. If Plato was correct, then America is now headed for Tyranny as its next form of government, if we are not already there.

      Actually, my original post on 24 March 2012 12:09 pm, was more “tongue -in-cheek” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tongue-in-cheek than serious. I am enough of a realist (actually I am “paranoid-but-not-stupid”, which is a self-diagnosis, JK) to know that a constitutional convention would never be called because it’s politically unenactable. So to put my plug in for a return to a KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) Democratic-Republican form of government I called for a Constitional Convention.

      Like

    • WTF (unattended gmail) permalink
      1 April 2012 6:17 pm

      Follow up questions: Is there any validity in Paul Ray’s “New Political Compass”?

      If a Constitutional Convention aimed at deep, meaningful reform is not possible, should attention still be paid to other, less drastic structural reforms of the current system? If so, what are the best candidate mini-structural reforms? I have a vague recollection of a C-SPAN or NPR/PBS interview of a political theorist who wrote a short book about 5 or 10 years ago listing about 100 such structural reforms that were mostly “nonpartisan” and would have immediate beneficial effects to both government and society (according to the author).

      Like

    • 1 April 2012 7:41 pm

      “If a Constitutional Convention aimed at deep, meaningful reform is not possible, should attention still be paid to other, less drastic structural reforms of the current system?”

      That’s a powerful question, going to the heart of our situation.

      IMO, the problem is that the Republic’s enemies are winning by most (all?) metrics. Therefore opening the rulebook to revisions will benefit them, not us. Structural change is their play under current circumstances, not ours.

      We see that across the political spectrum, Campaign finance reform: money dominates now more than anytime in the past century. Health care reform: results are designed to benefit the health care providing institutions (esp insurance companies) more than us. Banking reform: after 20 years of reforms, the banking industry is less regulated and more powerful than at any time since the start of the New Deal.

      How to proceed? I believe we’re at square one: mobilize the population, building awareness that there is a problem and that they are potentially powerful. I’m neither hopeful or certain about this recommendation, but it is all I have.

      Like

    • WTF (unattended gmail) permalink
      1 April 2012 7:56 pm

      Tony Robbins at TED Talks — Tony describes the difference between Achievement and Fulfillment (reason and emotion), and he “high fives” Al Gore in the audience.

      Relevance: individualism and achievement are foundational memes in modern culture (democracy, capitalism, scientific rationalism). These memes were “revolutionary” in the context of the previous form of dominant culture, which was collective, mythic and conformist (hostile to individual achievement), but they no longer are FULLY capable of meeting the coherence needs of an emerging holistic, integral paradigm.

      Like

    • 1 April 2012 9:17 pm

      Tony Robbins (self-help guru) and Al Gore (snake-oil selling politico): two fine examples of much that is wrong with America.

      That’s not to imply that they are bad people, or that all that they say is wrong. But together they to our weaknesses: inability to take collecive action, and preference for slick half-truths and lies over hard facts.

      Like

    • WTF (unattended gmail) permalink
      1 April 2012 10:08 pm

      I’m not a fan of Gore. I take it that you are not actually familiar with Tony Robbins work?

      The cold, hard fact is that cold hard facts will never inspire meaningful, deep reforms.

      Conservatives are exploitable because of their fears that the Left is attempting to drive the culture off the brink of an abyss of self-absorption and meaninglessness.

      It takes a superhuman effort to take an unvarnished look into the Void and not go crazy. This has been a problem since early in human evolution, and the evolutionary “solution” is social bonding rituals (religion).

      Like

    • 1 April 2012 10:50 pm

      WTF: “I take it that you are not actually familiar with Tony Robbins work?”

      Your assumptions are usally faulty. Your seldom cite any supporting evidence, which suggests that you make them up — relying on your prejudices.

      I am familar with Robbins’ work, and with the material on which he drew — especially Napoleon Hill and Dale Carnegie. While there is much to be learned from this stream, in my opinion the problem of Americans in our time is to recover our lost ability to work together. That, as much as individualism, built America. At this point self-help has become too dominant an influence, contributing to the ease with which the 1% have come to rule us.

      America was built to a large extent by collective action, using government-built infrastructure. The classic explanation is “The Myth of Rugged American Individualism“, Charles A. Beard, Harper’s, December 1931. It’s as appropriate today as when written during the Depression. Excerpt:

      This is only one of the many straws in the wind indicating a movement to exult rugged individualism into a national taboo beyond the reach of inquiring minds. From day to day it becomes increasingly evident that some of our economic leaders are using the phase as an excuse for avoiding responsibility, for laying the present depression on “government interference,” and seeking to avoid certain forms of taxation and regulation that they do not find to their interest.

      Beard describes the many services the government provided during America’s development:

      • Government regulation of railroads
      • Waterways (harbors, improvements to rivers)
      • The United States Barge Corporation
      • The shipping business
      • Building airway infrastructure, which subsidizes airmail
      • Building canals
      • Building highways
      • The Department of Commerce, the bureau of standards, the Federal Trade Commission
      • Tariffs (the wall behind which American industry was built

      Like

    • 1 April 2012 11:13 pm

      Re: WTF’s comment

      While his first sentence is incorrect, I agree with the remainder. These realities make running a democracy (of any form) difficult. Perhaps impossible over long periods. Nietzche discusses most of this with searing, but not cheerful, words.

      Like

  4. Keith Melancon permalink
    24 March 2012 2:07 pm

    How would reducing our overseas footprint (permanent foreign bases) affect our strategy as it stands? I have been an advocate of closing many bases (not all) overseas and focus on a “narrower” definition of defense, but not isolationist as I believe that would be foolish. I suppose this is a more focuses question from the first, but in order to more specifically answer the one, these are the the questions that should be fleshed out. I would think that consolidating bases in the US would be better, but I understand that this would involve the State Department and that further complicates the issue.

    I served in Germany for three years and it was lovely, but the sheer amount of leftover infrastructure from the Cold War was/is astounding. It seems this would be an easy way to reduce the defense budget, but I am not an expert….

    Like

    • 24 March 2012 3:50 pm

      It would save a great deal of money, reduce our foreign currency outflow, and overall strengthen our grand strategy. We’re neither empowered or sufficiently strong enough to play global cop. It’s madness.

      Like

    • sglover permalink
      25 March 2012 2:26 am

      What overseas bases would you keep open, and why?

      I’m 53. I can’t think of a single military adventure in my lifetime that’s done any American I know a damn bit of good. (I’m not including Cold War containment in this. To my mind, that’s probably the last example of a grand strategy worthy of the name that I’m ever going to see) What I **have** seen is an enormously overbuilt military apparatus that invites nothing but mischief.

      Ask yourself, how many times have we heard politicians use the phrase “all options are on the table”? And how often has it NOT meant, “do as we say or we’ll start bombing”? Nowadays, whenever Beltway Caesars yammer “all options are on the table”, you can be certain that some options were never on it to begin with — like, say, negotiating in good faith, or even making a serious effort to understand the demon of the moment. Foreign policy and military policy have become almost synonymous. Americans seem to think this is normal, but it’s freakish.

      By the way, the mere presence of bases has nothing to do with returning to some imaginary “isolationism”. At a minimum, if your experience in the army was anything like mine in the navy, you must have noticed how military facilities are often consciously designed as weird little American enclaves, right down to the Burger Kings. More important, “isolationism” is simply a demon word, completely vacuous. Walk down the aisles of any Home Depot and tell me what continent **doesn’t** produce wares bound for America. And while you’re at it, pay attention to how many languages you hear during your stroll. We’re deeply and inescapably enmeshed with the world. “Isolationism” is about as likely to break out in America as celibacy.

      We’re never going to get a healthy, sane society unless we turn away from empire, and the lunatic militarized approach that we take to the world. Defanging the empire is the only way I can imagine to do that — not that I expect to ever see it.

      Like

  5. 24 March 2012 6:00 pm

    (quote from Pluto remark on 24 March 2012 12:11 pm) [quote] “That’s an answer, not a question!” [endquote]

    (quote from the Summary) [quote] “……Ask any question about geopolitics, broadly defined….All answers welcomed!’

    Questions received so far’

    Click on the link to go directly to that thread. Please use the REPLY button when replying to a previous comment, to keep threads together.

    1….
    2.Should we call a new Constitutional Convention?
    3….” [endquote]

    Like

    • 24 March 2012 6:38 pm

      Your comment was fine. It’s not a problem.

      When replying to a previous comment — or answering a question — please use the “reply” button. That keeps the thread in sequence, so people can more easily follow it.

      Like

    • 24 March 2012 8:00 pm

      Thank you Fabius. I wanted to directly reply to Pluto, but there wasn’t a “reply” button attached to his remark. So I had to enter it outisde the string. Although I have been receiving your emails for a few months, today was the first time I was either interested or had the time to participate in one of the forums. Your forum setup is somewhat different from others that I have participated in and I did make some errors. The learning curve is my alibi.

      Like

    • Pluto permalink
      26 March 2012 11:56 am

      I didn’t see the earlier comment. My apologies.

      Like

  6. 24 March 2012 7:24 pm

    By email: “Why is gun ownership skyrocketing in America?”

    (a) Gun ownership has been falling for a generation. See “The Declining Role Of Guns In American Society“, ThinkProgress, 1 March 2012 — Excerpt:

    <blockquote>Data from the General Social Survey show that rates of gun ownership have been decreasing steadily for three decades. In 1977, 54% of American adults lived in a household that contained a gun. By 2010, that figure had declined a full 22 percentage points to 32%.</blockquote>

    (b) Why are gun sales increasing now? As in “Gun sales explode as election looms“, Fox News, 22 March 2012.

    Republicans have worked hard to incite hysteria among Americans. Portraying Obama as an extremist Leftist, when in fact he’s governed as Center-right to Center-left in most issues. Portraying America as in danger from jihadist sleeper cells.

    But this technique risks destabilizing our society. It might already be doing so.

    Like

    • jonh permalink
      24 March 2012 10:41 pm

      Also, it seems hunting is in decline relative to population hovering between 13 and 17 million hunters since the 1950’s:

      http://federalaid.fws.gov/Subpages/LicenseInfo/HuntingLicCertHistory.pdf

      Like

    • M Shannon permalink
      24 March 2012 10:45 pm

      “Why are gun sales increasing now?”

      As with most human behavior there is no one reason. My guess in order of importance;

      1) if you are under employed/ retired you can still enjoy hunting and shooting and it’s inter-generational;
      2) guns and ammo are cheaper and better quality with “cooler” products available;
      3) the internet allows better marketing, FPS video games probably help sales.
      4) CCW spurred by fear of crime and driven by TV
      5) the quite rational expectation that at some point the US Congress will pass more restrictive laws. I would be shocked if Obama wouldn’t sign such a bill but doubt he will be in office when it hits the POTUS desk.

      Like

    • 25 March 2012 4:24 pm

      Not bad as guesses, but I suspect none of those is a major factor. In general guessing is likely to be incorrect, and a bad habit.

      (1) Is the popularity of hunting rising? I doubt it, certainly not proportional to the rise in gun sales.

      (2) Have guns and ammo prices decreased during the past 3 years, and if so proportionate to the increase in sales? Probably not.

      (3) Does the internet allow better marketing? Have sales of all goods marketed on the Internet gone up? Do people playing video games go buy guns? Probably not.

      (4) Has the presentation of crime on TV changed during the past 3 years, so as to change peoples fear of crime. Probably not. This w/b an esp odd reason since crimes rates have been dropping for a generation.

      The last — #5 — is quite daft. With the GOP in firm control of the House, and with the ability and resolve to filabuster to death legislation in the Senate, the odds of gun-control legislation passing is near zero.

      Like

    • WTF (unattended gmail) permalink
      24 March 2012 11:15 pm

      Because the USA is arming drug cartels, and the increase in manufacturing makes them more available? (just guessing)

      Like

    • 25 March 2012 4:29 pm

      I cannot imagine why people think their wild guesses — little more than fantasy — have any validity and are worth posting.

      Do you have any evidence that the US is arming gun cartels, or did you just make that up?

      Do you have any evidence that sales of gun manufacturers were limited by their capacity (ie, they were selling out), or that they increased capacity on the hope that sales would skyrocket?

      Like

    • WTF (unatttended gmail) permalink
      25 March 2012 5:16 pm

      Are drug cartel profits in the USA used to buy weapons from american manufacturers (that are smuggled into Mexico and other countries where drugs originate by the cartels)? If so, has the volume of such weapons sales significantly distorted the market for “normal” weapons sales?

      Like

    • 25 March 2012 10:46 pm

      Your two statements are not equivalent. In no meaningful sense is “drug cartel profits in the USA {are} used to buy weapons from american manufacturers” the same as “the USA is arming drug cartels”.

      Like

    • M Shannon permalink
      25 March 2012 8:09 pm

      FM: Then why have gun sales gone up if not for some combination the reasons I gave?

      Hunting and shooting. Gun sales can go up without an increase in the number of people participating.

      Improvements in the marketing of any product should increase sales. Competition fueled by the ease of comparing prices and the ability to run virtual stores should drive prices down. Guns are a durable good with high resale value that can be used for a number of purposes simultaneously When spending dollars on non-essentials a new gun would be a better bet than a weekend in Vegas.

      Points 4 & 5 are about perceptions of the buying public. Whether they reflect facts is irrelevant. If “facts” were a criteria for merchandizing or politics our society, as we know it, would come to an abrupt halt.

      Like

    • 25 March 2012 10:59 pm

      My piont was that you were making wild guesses — making stuff up — with no supporting evidence.

      What we do know is that Republicans have made great efforts to whip up hysteria about the Muslin-Atheist-Foreigner-RadicalCommunistAnarchist Obama AND the hordes of Jihadist sleeper cells. I doubt that we need speculate about other drivers for increased gun sales.

      My point about #5 was that it was a daft reason to buy guns — not that it was not part of the GOP-fueled hysteria. It is, obviously.

      Like

    • Michael Kelly permalink
      25 March 2012 11:48 pm

      On 24 March 2012 11:15 pm, WTF posted the following: [quote] “Because the USA is arming drug cartels, and the increase in manufacturing makes them more available? (just guessing).” [endquote]

      Fabius wasn’t happy with your post and I do not blame him. However, only a few days ago, I read (I believe it was on http://www.thebeast.com) a very extensive article about how the DEA has been, among other tactics, supplying arms to the Sinaloa Cartel. To get you off of the hook with Fabius, I here is the article: http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2012/01/29/el-chapo-guzm-n-mexico-s-most-powerful-drug-lord.html.

      No one, after reading this article, will have any doubts as to youyr post.

      Like

    • 25 March 2012 11:59 pm

      That’s not correct. That program (aka “fast and furious”) was not not intended to arm the drug cartels, but to fight them. It’s often necessary to work with the organized crime networks in order to penetrate them — gaining the information to destroy them. It’s disputed if this one went too far (we might never know, as its become an internal power struggle — with leaks to the media as weapons on both sides). Perhaps the long-term results would have justified the guns they provided. After all, the cartels are already heavily armed — so its not as if this program was their only source of arms.

      Like

    • 28 March 2012 2:36 am

      We the people are arming ourselves under the aegis of the second amendment to the Bill of Rights, because we are increasingly in fear of our own government. We feel the need for the access to deadly force to defend The Republic and our lives, family, and possessions..
      By the bye, a round of .308 NATO small arms ammunition Lake City Arsenal Target Issue which I bought for $.15 in 2000, is worth easily 10 times that today. It is a solid currency, as well as lovely-shooting stuff. I expect that I still have a few thousand rounds.
      Lads and lasses, our nation is calling out from the slough of despond, nay, from the very crapper,for our succour.
      Which side will you be on when the shooting starts?

      Like

    • 28 March 2012 3:06 pm

      Based on my hundreds of conversations with folks expressing similar sentiments, I suspect the people defending the Constitution will be fighting “you” (ie, this group — we know nothing about Hyde personally) AND our government.

      (1) Most of the folks with such sentiments support the government’s increasingly aggressive shreding of the Constitution: torture, illegal wars, illegal surveilance, illegal imprisonment without charge or trial, and now assassination. Reading some of their comments in threads about assassination and torture, they seem like eager prospects for an American version of the Stasi or Gestapo.

      (2) The alleged violations of the Constitution they fear are a grab bag (varying widely), including things like taxes (now far lower than during the post-WWII years of rapid growth), inflation (now lower than during the Reagan Miracle), civil rights for minorities (allowing brown people to vote and sit in our diners).

      (3) In addition they tend to have quite a few crazy beliefs. Esp about our first brown President, whom many find impossible to accept: he’s a radical communist anarchist (these are opposites), he’s an atheist Islamic Jihadist (ie, opposites), and foreign-born (too nuts to discuss). This irrationality makes them dangerous, and susceptable to manipulation by an aspiring tyrant.

      Like

    • WTF (unattended gmail) permalink
      28 March 2012 5:25 pm

      “Your two statements are not equivalent. In no meaningful sense is ‘drug cartel profits in the USA {are} used to buy weapons from american manufacturers’ the same as ‘the USA is arming drug cartels’.”

      So what? You request that people ask questions, then you refuse to answer them, even when they are clarified.

      “Fast and furious” seems most likley to just be bureacuratic bungling (not intentional evil), and I wasn’t talking about that.

      To rephrase: is the gun industry under-regulated in the USA (due to dysfunctional politics), and does such under-regulation result in drug cartels being able to EASILY import american guns fom the USA?

      Like

    • 29 March 2012 1:20 am

      “So what?”

      No apologies. Precision rules here. Broad inflamitory statements get dissed.

      “To rephrase: is the gun industry under-regulated in the USA (due to dysfunctional politics), and does such under-regulation result in drug cartels being able to EASILY import american guns fom the USA?”

      Profits. Profits. Profits. “Greed is good for corporations” has replaced “from many, one” as our national motto. The numbers tell the tale; see Wikipedia’s list of arms exports.

      Like

    • 29 March 2012 1:24 am

      For shame, Fabius. You might have cloven more closely to your namesake’s ethos, and avoided the pit digged in your presumptuous path by nasty old geezers such as myself.I am a fine shot, and a better chopper of logic.I must sometimes carefully suppress certain atavistic urges, alas, for this is the price of the social contract. I do hope you can sympathize with my urge to crucify sob sisters. I like to look on the bright side of life.

      Like

    • 29 March 2012 1:47 am

      “For shame, Fabius.”

      No shame or apologies on this website for speaking the truth, no matter how harsh.

      Like

    • 29 March 2012 1:23 pm

      Fabius, This is not a game.My best guess as an ex-cop (with degrees from Columbia, Dalhousie, and Simmons, in the subjects of Colonial History, Education, and Library Science, respectively) is: the USA is a moribund parasite-riddled leper, it’s demise a mere race between pathologies. .I live in deepest darkest Nova Scotia.Why do you live in the cities of the plain?

      Like

    • 29 March 2012 1:33 pm

      Apismoclam: “My best guess as an ex-cop (with degrees from Columbia, Dalhousie, and Simmons, in the subjects of Colonial History, Education, and Library Science, respectively) is: the USA is a moribund parasite-riddled leper, it’s demise a mere race between pathologies”

      So, as someone with all those degrees, you can present evidence for that assertion. We’d all like to see it.

      BTW — the FM website is a hostile environment for claims of authority. For good reason argument from authority is considered a logical fallacy. Expect to be lightly mocked if you can only cite your awesomeness in support of your claims.

      Like

    • 29 March 2012 6:00 pm

      In English, the word you wanted is “awful”
      The Hutaree Milita, Avenge Trayvon, Occupy Oakland, and so on. Pick your sparkplug, and you have martial law. Instant police state, lotsa Feds, no waiting. Or options.Or Habeas Corpus.If you would rather, you can have a sucking chest wound. How about a slot in a nice safe internment facility?
      I do not attempt to argue from authority, but from experience and observation. I was five years a sheriff’s officer and Departmental Library Director of Middlesex County., Mass. It was awful.The Italians turfed out the Irish and got the rich prize of the budget to steal, and Honest John McGonnigle went to Club Fed to detox from Peruvian Marching Powder.
      I ran high school libraries, public libraries, all awful. The American Public is not much fun, having had no education to speak of for several generations, and being encouraged in cerebral atrophy from birth. Awful.
      We are moribund indeed..Rome took 400 years to utterly putrify. You would scarcely have noticed The Decline, unless Alaric and the boys were in town for a spot of rape and plunder. The internet, etc, will save us from the tedium of protracted dissolution, I think
      I’ll be voting with my feet for the nonce.

      Like

    • 30 March 2012 5:59 am

      apismoclam,

      You are, of course, entitled to your opinion. But those are large assertions about a large nation, of the sort that just wandering around can hardly justify. Citing degrees and officies hardly establishes you as an authority to make such judgements, as many many people with similar or greater qualifications come to different conclusions.

      Such judgements by an individual are outlandish in another sense as well. How do you make comparative judgements, to the US over time or to other nations of this time. Compare the worst of the US to the great ring-cities around Paris, the slums of Birmingham, or Athens (the inner city of Europe). How do you compare the US today to that of the 1930s, when the KKK still ruled much of the South?

      I suggest that such large views should be made on the basis of large collections of data, time-series and compared internationally. Or you can wait until you die. Everything on Earth will look aweful compared to Heaven, and wonderful compared to Hell.

      Like

    • 30 March 2012 2:56 pm

      Ave, Fabius Cunctor:
      I am 30 years in the education business, and even from time, an educator. Please do not tell me the value of an American education. And I adjure you in the name of Professor Longhair, do not refer to University Degrees as qualifications. Pogo called them “objects de rision”, and I concur.
      Somebody or other once stated that to understand a nation, you merely need examine its prisons. There’s more of them in the USA than anywhere, and I daily checked my weapon at Control, and worked in them.I did this for five years.
      If you live or work in an American urban area, you daily encounter free fire zones. Soon, some, then likely all of of you will be in a combat zone. This is why John Q. Public is buying all the ordnance he can.. In extremis you can try to barter your data for a gun. Bonne chance, Mazel Tov, Cowabunga, and maybe BungaBunga…………………
      Seriousely, I live in Upper Whitehead, N.S.

      Like

    • 30 March 2012 11:30 pm

      You have raised some interesting issues. I’ll write a post about it this weekend. There are no easy answers.

      As for your specifics:

      (1) “If you live or work in an American urban area, you daily encounter free fire zones”

      That’s nuts. I have lived in American urban areas for many decades, and have never encountered violence (although I once saw an auto accident). Violence is largely concentrated (which is a disgrace, but contrary to your assertion).

      (2) “I am 30 years in the education business, and even from time, an educator. Please do not tell me the value of an American education … do not refer to University Degrees as qualifications”

      Amnesia much?

      • You are the one who cited degrees as a source of authority: “My best guess as an ex-cop (with degrees from Columbia, Dalhousie, and Simmons…”
      • I am the one who said otherwise: “degrees and officies hardly establishes you as an authority to make such judgements”

      (3) “Somebody or other once stated that to understand a nation, you merely need examine its prisons. There’s more of them in the USA than anywhere”

      True. It even grossly understates the shameful horror of the US criminal justice system.

      Like

    • Pluto permalink
      30 March 2012 6:56 pm

      “If you live or work in an American urban area, you daily encounter free fire zones”
      “Seriousely, I live in Upper Whitehead, N.S.”

      The second statement suggests that you do not have the recent experience to support the first statement. I have lived in one of the largest twenty American urban areas in the country for the last 30 years and have never encountered anything resembling a “free fire zone.”

      I’ve continually moved across the region to take advantage of employment opportunities and have lived in everything from gated communities to places that were a couple of steps over section 8 housing and have rarely seen a weapon in the hands of anybody other than a law enforcement official and have never seen one used in a crime.

      Based on that experience (or lack of it, based on your perspective), I have to call BS on your statements.

      Like

    • 30 March 2012 9:35 pm

      Yeah seriously. Robocop is a movie, not real life.

      Like

    • 30 March 2012 11:11 pm

      Speaking of Robocop: Robocop is not a good role model for the youth of Detroit, 12 March 2011

      Like

    • 31 March 2012 1:22 am

      Fabe:

      A place with citizens, criminals, and cops, many armed, is a free fire zone. Ask any of the last two groups mentioned, or check out The Daily Rotten.

      I hereby forbid as boring any further discussion of my so-called and probably spurious.qualifications. Selah.

      “from time” is a typo. Should read: “from time to time” I have Sindh.Oudh, too.

      Did you know that the BATFE due to a warehouse fire, has little idea even how many legal machine guns there are in circulation? You don’t have to worry about these incompetent sociopath boyos arming the shadow government of Mexico ie the drug cartels. No matter if they can chew gum and pick their noses at the same time. Anyway, the druggies can afford the best,and insist on same.Not schlock aftrmarket “AR-15 Platform” ironmongery.

      While in the the states henceforth, I will be keeping my new AWC-Ruger Amphbian handy. You want zero-K cool? Look it up! There will be a quiz tomorrow. Eat your hearts out, girls and boys, The weapon is backordered, at the manufacturer. Perhaps the SEALS are buying them all again. They use them to serve the Navy Cocktail, which is two shots and a splash. Dig it.

      Like

    • 31 March 2012 2:47 am

      apismoclam,

      Quite the rant. Not much content, however. Two points worth mention.

      (1) “A place with citizens, criminals, and cops, many armed, is a free fire zone.”

      That does not support your previous statement that “If you live or work in an American urban area, you daily encounter free fire zones”. Most urban areas in the US do not meet your definition, assuming you meant that in a serious manner (ie, implying that there are a high number of criminals and cops).

      (2) “Did you know that the BATFE due to a warehouse fire, has little idea even how many legal machine guns there are in circulation? You don’t have to worry about these incompetent sociopath boyos”

      (a) Who cares if we know how many machine guns are “in circulation”? Does knowing the number change the reality?

      (b) It’s one of the more unattractive habits of Americans (esp conservatives) to mock government actions and employees. Perhaps apismoclam imagines that he (or she) could run BATF without error, making bold successful ventures with no major failures. His daft insults of the BATF staff tell us more about his judgement than about the BATF staff.

      Like

    • 31 March 2012 8:26 pm

      Fabius my dear old tin of jam:
      I am not a conservative, but an anarchist with great respect for Frank Zappa. I do not share his antipathy for drugs, which are a great blessing..I sense your need to cool your jets., and make so bold as to suggest setting the faithful Extreme-Q vape on 210 c. Fine local bud, naturellement.
      Or are you going turn me in?

      Like

    • WTF (unattended gmail) permalink
      1 April 2012 6:44 pm

      re: “To rephrase: is the gun industry under-regulated in the USA (due to dysfunctional politics), and does such under-regulation result in drug cartels being able to EASILY import american guns from the USA?”

      FM Answered: “Profits. Profits. Profits. “Greed is good for corporations” has replaced “from many, one” as our national motto. The numbers tell the tale; see Wikipedia’s list of arms exports.”

      Thanks. I already knew that the USA is the largest arms producer/exporter (from bullets to airplanes), and has been for a long time. (Eisenhower’s famous warning about the “military industrial complex.) You still didn’t answer the question “with precision”: are drug cartel profits used to buy weapons that are exported from the USA in significant amounts to the home countries/areas of the drug cartels? If so, how much of the increase in weapons sales do such exports represent?

      And, regardless of the percentage of sales that they represent, do such weapons exports make a significant contribution to the ability of the drug cartels to gain and hold power?

      If such weapons exports are significant amplifiers of socially negatives (both in the USA and the other countries involved), how does that inform the debate about drug legalization and/or the need for tighter regulation of the gun industry?

      Like

    • 1 April 2012 7:48 pm

      My apologies, I though the answer was implicit in what I said (always a bad assumption).

      (1) “are drug cartel profits used to buy weapons that are exported from the USA in significant amounts to the home countries/areas of the drug cartels”

      I don’t have the data describing type or origin of guns used by the cartels, but I suspect the answer is yes.

      (2) “how much of the increase in weapons sales do such exports represent?”

      Interesting question. Does anyone have estimates?

      (3) “do such weapons exports make a significant contribution to the ability of the drug cartels to gain and hold power?”

      This is the key question. IMO, the certain answer is NO. The cartels have the money, and will buy all the guns they want — no matter if we make them or not. Guns are an easily manufactured good, and many nations can and will do so.

      (4) “how does that inform the debate about drug legalization and/or the need for tighter regulation of the gun industry?”

      (a) How does the availablity of guns affect the policy question of drug legalization? No significantly, IMO. Our drug laws are insane on many levels. One factor more or less makes little difference to the conclusions.
      (b) Regulation of the gun industry: it’s much like regulation of the drug industry. In a free-market socieity, demand will find suppliers. Prohibition and extreme regulation are the easy but futile public policy responses.

      Like

    • WTF (unattended gmail) permalink
      1 April 2012 7:23 pm

      apismoclam,

      You have restated enduring virtues of self-reliance and populism, and reinforced them with politically incorrect realism, congratulations. From what I can tell, FM doesn’t like (“anarchists”) Libertarians, except de Tocqueville, much, but if you loudly and repeatedly denounce Ayn Rand, he might become slightly more tolerant of your views. lol.

      American counterculture has always had a small Libertarian, or Anarcho-Libertarian, component. For instance, Stewart Brand, the founder of the Whole Earth Catalog (1960s), describes his political origins and orientation as “libertarian”. This is why he promoted self-reliance and mastery of “tools”, rather than the more popular countercultural values of self-indulgence (narcissism). http://www.ted.com/speakers/stewart_brand.html

      Henry David Thoreau’s famous essay on “Civil Disobedience” (a protest of the US invasion of Mexico prior to the civil War) seems like a classic example of anti-imperialist counterculture libertarianism. Excerpt:

      I HEARTILY ACCEPT the motto, — “That government is best which governs least”

      … The objections which have been brought against a standing army, and they are many and weighty, and deserve to prevail, may also at last be brought against a standing government. The standing army is only an arm of the standing government. The government itself, which is only the mode which the people have chosen to execute their will, is equally liable to be abused and perverted before the people can act through it. Witness the present Mexican war, the work of comparatively a few individuals using the standing government as their tool; for, in the outset, the people would not have consented to this measure.

      FM’s positions are basically Straussian, and thus, regressive. Strauss was partly correct (anti-nihilist) in his diagnosis of liberal/postmodern culture, but failed to make the leap to Holistic/Integral solutions, such as “spiritual capitalism” or Transpartisanism.

      One fact that appears to point to the immense difficulties that lie ahead: probably no more than 5% of the population is intellectually capable of reconciling spirituality and evolution in a coherent manner. Material and technological advancements always outstrip spiritual and cultural reforms, which are notoriously difficult to achieve. This creates a tremendous tension that usually results in corruption, revolutions, tyranny, etc.

      Like

    • 1 April 2012 9:10 pm

      WTF: “FM’s positions are basically Straussian, and thus, regressive”

      There is some validity to the first point; the second is absurd (it’s a sophomoric-type bold misunderstanding). For those unfamilar with Strauss, I recommend starting with the entry in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Strauss discussed a wide range of issues, with positions that evolvued during his lifetime. Some of views form a coherent whole; some do not. Some of this I agree with, some I don’t. In general my weak background in philosophy accords more with those of Allan Bloom (The Closing of the American Mind), who was a student (not always agreeing) of Strauss.

      Two of the many areas in which I disagree with Strauss:

      • Strauss did not find the fact-value distinction a useful tool. I consider it a foundational insight.
      • “In 1958 he published what is likely his most controversial study, Thoughts on Machiavelli, in which he pronounced Machiavelli’s “anti-theological ire” the source of modernity.” I agree, but unlike him I consider this a good thing.
      • His whole analysis of esotericism I find almost incomprehensible, which probably reflects my limitations more than his analysis.

      I agree with some elements of his work. For example, he disliked positivism, the search for value-free judgments. I agree; they are not possible in the social “sciences”. We need to understand our values, esp those underlying “value-free statemetns”. But there is one central question common to both our thinking:

      Through his writings, Strauss constantly raised the question of how, and to what extent, freedom and excellence can coexist. Strauss refused to make do with any simplistic or one-sided resolutions of the Socratic question: What is the good for the city and man? (from Wikipedia)

      Like

  7. 24 March 2012 8:37 pm

    This question goes out to all of the participants in this forum. Isn’t Fabius’ “Voting Republican” photo hilarious? And, I’ll be the first to answer: It’s so pertinent and super cool that I captured it and placed it in the center of my desktop, just to keep me humble.

    Like

    • jonh permalink
      24 March 2012 10:42 pm

      Yes, LOL. Joe Baegant’s book Deer Hunting With Jesus elaborates on this concept if you want to read more.

      Like

    • WTF (unattended gmail) permalink
      24 March 2012 11:18 pm

      Sure. But what would happen if 49% (aprx) of Democrats changed parties and used the system to remove the Neocon leadership from the Republican party within a decade?

      Like

    • 25 March 2012 4:33 pm

      What’s the point of such wild speculation? What would happen if we all sprouted wings? That’s as likely to happen as 49% of Democrats deciding to become Republicans and “remove the Neocon leadership from the GOP. Can you cite any historical parallel for people in large numbers joining the opposition party — with which they disagree — just to remove its leadership.

      If they’d get off their butts and vote for Democratic Party leaders who would vote against the neocons (unlike Obama, who is their ally), then the Neocons would have far less power.

      Like

    • lberns1 permalink
      25 March 2012 12:33 pm

      I’ve seen the same pic using Democrat instead. Either way, the point is made. The only difference between the two parties are the bullets. The gun they use is exactly the same.

      Like

    • 25 March 2012 10:42 pm

      That’s a powerful point! It works in somewhat similar form for both Parties!

      Like

    • WTF (unatttended gmail) permalink
      25 March 2012 5:12 pm

      The point is that the Democratic party elites do not want radical change. And their brainwashed followers are almost as clueless as are the common conservatives. liberal democrats are educated fools. Conservative tea baggers are uneducated fools.

      Example: in one of the campaigns for Governor in California in the 90s, a former “radical” (independent) Democrat from Mendocino dared to honestly criticise the vast corruption within the party. He was kicked out, and then began to run as a Green Party candidate. There was little or no populist support from within the “liberal/progressive” ranks for someone that was honest and a reformer.

      So, even though a “party invasion” tactic would be VERY SIMPLE TO IMPLEMENT, in reality, as you say, it will never happen because of the Social Conditioning (brainwashing) that exists in the liberal/progressive camp for the purpose of maintaining the power of the (democratic/liberal) Nanny State apparatchiks within the system of american state-capitalism.

      In reality if common liberals did “get off their butts” as you say and try to take over EITHER party, there would probably be a counter-coup (by the Plutocrats and Nanny State) and a totalitarian system would be constructed to stop any real reform.

      Like

    • 25 March 2012 10:41 pm

      (1) “The point is that the Democratic party elites do not want radical change.

      Agreed. Why would the elites who control both parties want randical change?

      (2) “And their brainwashed followers are almost as clueless as are the common conservatives.”

      Perhaps. That’s worth some thought.

      (3) “Conservative tea baggers are uneducated fools.”

      Not in any usual sense of those words. They are on average more highly educated than Americans.

      (4) “even though a “party invasion” tactic would be VERY SIMPLE TO IMPLEMENT”

      “Simple” does not mean what I think you think it means. Restating your words, “it would be simple to implement if conditions were radically different than they are.” Yes, but that’s meaningless.

      (5) “it will never happen”

      Never is a big word. I hesitate to use it.

      (6) “if common liberals did “get off their butts” as you say and try to take over EITHER party, there would probably be a counter-coup (by the Plutocrats and Nanny State) and a totalitarian system would be constructed to stop any real reform.”

      Here we disagree, although there is no way to test either view. I believe that we — the citizens — have both the responsibility and power to rule America. We lack only the will to do so.

      Like

    • WTF (unatttended gmail) permalink
      25 March 2012 5:21 pm

      re: “In reality if common liberals did ‘get off their butts’ as you say and try to take over EITHER party, there would probably be a counter-coup (by the Plutocrats and Nanny State) and a totalitarian system would be constructed to stop any real reform.”

      Evidence: the assasinations of JFK, MLK, Jr. and Robert Kennedy.

      Like

    • 25 March 2012 10:49 pm

      I disagree on all counts.

      1. JFK was a moderately conservative figure, with no evidence that was planning radical change in his remaining months of office (during which he’d be running for re-election).
      2. MKK Jr was killed after his great work was largely completed, and his influence was wanning as more radical figures took the stage.
      3. Robert Kennedy was a conservative in most senses; I have seen no evidence that he intended radical change.

      Like

    • WTF (unattended gmail) permalink
      1 April 2012 8:56 pm

      (thanks for the other responses.)

      FM said: “I believe that we — the citizens — have both the responsibility and power to rule America. We lack only the will to do so.”

      True, but you have never, to my recollection, satisfactorily answered “why?” In my opinion, there are at least two related factors:

      I. post-traumatic political disorder (PTPD). So many political “reform” movements have failed that people see any future emotional investment, and the inevitable disappointment that will result when any new “reform” movement also fails, as a form of ritualized psychological abuse by the ruling elites. As I’ve said before, this idea was first proposed by Michael Lerner (Tikkun Magazine, “Spiritual Progressives”, etc.)

      II. the lack of will (Lerner’s “Surplus Powerlessness”) is manufactured, for instance by corporate mass media and the nanny state* education system, but it is deeply imbedded in most areas (including both politicla parties) of the dominant culture. {From Soci 333-Winter 2000 – Notes on Habermas: Lifeworld and System, by Arthur W. Frank (Prof Sociology, U Calgary)}:

      McDonalds [fast food] is one example; the contemporary university is another. In the university, department meetings could, ideally, be a place where communicative action takes place and influence and value-commitments are regenerated. We could, in those meetings, attempt to reach common understandings. In one meeting we were discussing a proposed change to the curriculum. I was trying to ask a colleague why s/he wanted this change; my “communicative action” involved asking what s/he was trying to teach, how that teaching was going, and so forth. The colleague’s response was: “If you don’t like the change, vote against it.” In other words, s/he didn’t want to talk, explain, or reach a common understanding. Instead we would each gather votes and whoever had the most votes would win. Systems media (power, votes) had pushed out lifeworld media (appeals to common value commitments as a basis of influencing colleagues to believe one option or the other best represented who we want to be, as a departmental community). It’s important to understand that this colleague acted in a milieu that the university as a system creates: money and power dominate, and local understands don’t count for much. The colleague was part of this colonization process, but s/he was only reflecting a larger process.

      Thus, the destruction of self-reliance, independent populism, etc. is an IMPERATIVE OF IMPERIAL/PLUTOCRATIC CIVILIZATION, which is based on:

      a) ego gratification
      b) dehumanizing exercises of power (arising from a lack of compassion)
      c) greed, attachment to money to the exclusion of more human values

      There WILL BE NO REFORM until a belief in SOMETHING BETTER is possible. That “something better” will not be a regression to past glories, it will be a paradigm shift, along the lines predicted by Clare Graves in 1974 {“Human Nature Prepares for a Momentous Leap“, From The Futurist, 1974, pp. 72-87}

      The error which most people make when they think about human values is that they assume the nature of man is fixed and there is a single set of human values by which he should live. Such an assumption does not fit with my research. My data indicate that man’s nature is an open, constantly evolving system, a system which proceeds by quantum jumps from one steady state system to the next through a hierarchy of ordered systems.

      Briefly, what I am proposing is that the psychology of the mature human being is an unfolding, emergent, oscillating, spiraling process marked by progressive subordination of older, lower-order behavior systems to newer, higher-order systems as man’s existential problems change.

      * Ivan Illich: Vernacular Values — excerpt:

      Each time the West put a new mask on the alien, the old one was discarded because it was now recognized as a caricature of an abandoned self-image. .. by the time of the Marshall Plan, when multinational conglomerates were expanding and the ambitions of transnational pedagogues, therapists and planners knew no bounds, the natives’ limited needs for goods and services thwarted growth and progress. They had to metamorphose into underdeveloped people, the sixth and present stage of the West’s view of the outsider. … Development based on high per capita energy quanta and intense professional care is the most pernicious of the West’s missionary efforts – a project guided by an ecologically unfeasible conception of human control over nature, and by an anthropologically vicious attempt to replace the nests and snakepits of culture by sterile wards for professional service.

      Like

    • 1 April 2012 10:03 pm

      FM: “I believe that we — the citizens — have both the responsibility and power to rule America. We lack only the will to do so.”
      WTF: “True, but you have never, to my recollection, satisfactorily answered why?”

      In human affairs “why” is the most difficult of questions. I have speculated as to causes in terms of political mechanics. But we can carry the dicussion far deeper, to realms far above my pay grade:

      • in terms of sociology,
      • in terms of individual psychology,
      • in terms of sociobiology,
      • in terms of neurobiology.

      All are useful contributions to our ability to organize and prosper. We can contribute what we can to the great discussion.

      Like

    • WTF (unattended gmail) permalink
      1 April 2012 9:12 pm

      “Development based on high per capita energy quanta and intense professional care is the most pernicious of the West’s missionary efforts – a project guided by an ecologically unfeasible conception of human control over nature, and by an anthropologically vicious attempt to replace the nests and snakepits of culture by sterile wards for professional service.”
      — Ivan Illich, 1980 (Whole Earth Catalog)

      The civilizational imperative, the “missionary” impulse described above, is the most powerful rationalization for the current form of plutocratic american-global imperium (that has destroyed democracy and independent populism). To repeat:

      • Until a better paradigm emerges which will displace, or transcend, the above “missionary” impulse, no “reform” will be possible, or successful.
      • Plutocracy is a regressive manifestation of modernist/achievement memes, All paradigms regress under conditions of disintegration, stress and chaos (“coherence needs” are not being met by the paradigm).
        Modernist and postmodernist paradigms are in regression because techno-economic conditions have moved faster than culture has been able to adapt to change.
      • Thus, a central issue in discussions of “reform” should be the development of spiritual, psychological and cultural conditions that will best accelerate the adoption of new paradigms that better satisfy new coherence needs – in an effective manner, not just in theory.

      Like

  8. Michael Kelly permalink
    24 March 2012 11:41 pm

    Quoting jonh, who posted at 24 March 2012 10:42 pm – [quote] “Yes, LOL. Joe Baegant’s book Deer Hunting With Jesus elaborates on this concept if you want to read more.” [endquote]

    Thank you Jonh! I am in love with reading. I have been reading since the age of seven and rabidly since age 12. I order all of my books from Amazon these days since often I cannot find what I am looking for at the public library. I have already tabbed your suggestion of Deer Hunting with Jesus” on Amazon. It does look soundly like a book that I want to read. Tomorrow I will finish my review of it and order it. Thank you again for the hint.

    Like

    • sglover permalink
      25 March 2012 1:51 am

      Here’s a second recommendation for “Deer Hunting with Jesus”. Unfortunately, Joe Bageant died a year ago. Fred Reed, whom I believe has been praised by this site, was acquainted with Bageant. You can find his reflections here: http://www.fredoneverything.net/BageantMovesOn.shtml

      The cartoon about Republicans is spot-on. But lately I’ve brushed against something like its mirror opposite I live in the Beltway. Most of my acquaintances are Dems, many of them believing Dems. I voted for Obama (actually, against “Bomb Bomb Bomb / Bomb Bomb Iran” McCain). I’m a registered Dem, though I don’t think I’ll be voting for any Dem or Republican ever again. And about 18 months ago I returned to the DC area from Detroit, my birthplace, where my job had me detailed for a couple of years. The detail had me traveling throughout Michigan, Ohio and West Virgina. I saw lots of derelict industrial and commercial property, lots of declining public services.

      So whenever politics comes up in my current social circle, I’m struck by two things:

      1) Any mention of the substantial continuities between the Bush and Obama regimes receives, at best, awkward silences. At worst it turns into vehement denunciations of anyone who’d criticize the Maximum Leader and “all he’s done”. “You must be a Republican” is the trump “argument”.

      2) If that whole big swath of the country between the coasts is discussed at all, it’s in almost anthropological terms, like some exotic primitive tribe in the Amazon basin. Why don’t they all go to grad school, get nice non-profit jobs, maybe set up a web site or something? What the hell is wrong with those people? It’s not completely unfair. Michigan, for one, has made just about every bonehead short-sighted public policy choice imaginable over the last 40 years. Hell, they can’t even muster the sense to levy a progressive income tax — which helped make my detail rather lucrative, but I’m doing very well compared to the average Michigander.

      I try to avoid these conversations, now. But they’ve taught me that the insularity and cognitive dissonance lampooned in that cartoon aren’t a monopolized by Republican yokels at all.

      Like

    • Michael Kelly permalink
      25 March 2012 1:54 pm

      Quoting from sglover’s post of 25 March 2012 1:51 am – [quote] “…Here’s a second recommendation for “Deer Hunting with Jesus”. ..Fred Reed…was acquainted with Bageant. You can find his reflections here: http://www.fredoneverything.net/BageantMovesOn.shtml.” [endquote] Thank you sglover for that one. It’s new to me and I’ve earmarked it to My Political Favorites file for a later read.

      You’re right on about Democrats and Republicans using the same gun to lampoon each other. While Democrats lampooning Republicans makes me roar with laughter and keeps me humble (as in I see myself in that picture, somewhere), when Evil, Corrupt, Larcenous, Hypocritical, Greedy, etcetera Republicans do it to Fair-Play Democrats I cringe with disgust. Here’s an example of what I mean http://www.sodahead.com/united-states/top-12-reasons-to-vote-democratic/question-2043409/?link=ibaf&q=VOTING+DEMOCRATIC&imgurl=http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_pV56sneYkHA/TUMGyt2IDaI/AAAAAAAADRI/YRKCGn7gdQQ/s1600/Liberal%25252BMoron2.jpg, and my reply is this

      http://www.spreadshirt.com/take-your-analogy-and-stick-it-up-your-a-C3376A6224017.

      The remainder of your post is also right on. I live northern eastern part of the Cincinnati area. All of the industrial blight that you describe in this area as well as the greater Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky area is what I refer to. It all began, my friend, with Reaganomics, e.g. trickle-down, unfair tax reductions on the wealthy, deregulation, NAFTA, GATT, ad infinitum, ad nausea infinitum. Before Reagan and his gang of unmerciful, non-caring, unrepentant thieves, America was an industrial power-box. Though not always churning at maximum steam (the down economic stroke), it was nevertheless still a land of tremendous hope and promise. Bill Clinton almost succeeded in bringing it back, but then he had to turn over the reigns of power to GWB, who I believe will go down in history as the worst president ever.

      Like

    • WTF (unatttended gmail) permalink
      25 March 2012 5:00 pm

      Michael Kelly,

      Thanks for the interesting observations. Liberalism has become corrupt/ineffective, but it is based on a fundamentally different psychological archetype than conservatism.

      There are two modes in the Republican party: the Plutocrats (Industrialists/Financiers) and the populist/common conservatives. The Plutocrats manipulate the alienation of common conservatives from “liberal” culture. This is what the photo is about.

      There are two modes in the Democratic party: The Nanny State Apparatchiks (liberal elites) and the Postmoderns. (there are also a variety of “common” or “populist” groups that are exploited by the Nanny State bureaucrats and liberal political elites.)

      As a libertarian/independent I have to say that even though I have seen DECADES of utterly disgusting behavior from “nanny state liberals”, the current crop of Plutocrats and Tea Baggers is way off the chart of Pure Evil. And, liberals are largely powerless to make any real change. Because they did little or nothing of significance to stop it at its point of origin – during the Carter Administration. (scholarly documentation is on old “reforming america” entries on the FM blog)

      In the american system, the “liberal” nanny state is part of the system of state-capitalism. So, there is a hybrid model, and the liberal apparatus is fundamentally dependent for its existence on the “oppressive” system of State-Capitalism (State-Capitalism = Socialism for Rich People).

      See: “Beyond Conservatism: Reclaiming the Radical Roots of Libertarianism“, Keith Preston, American Revolutionary Vanguard

      Like

    • Michael Kelly permalink
      27 March 2012 1:55 pm

      Quoting WTF [quote] “Michael Kelly, Thanks for the interesting observations. Liberalism has become corrupt/ineffective, but it is based on a fundamentally different psychological archetype than conservatism……” [endquote]

      Gosh, WTF, Fabius must needs give you an “A+” for this one, though he may not agree with all of it. A really good analysis of our political philosophies and divisions even though you once again fail to cite any authorities. It is so well written, that it has answered a lingering, dumbfounded question of mine and that is “just who do I vote for this November?” The competing pols have thus far have not answered that question for me with their platforms, with the possible, though not yet convincing, platform of Ron Paul.

      By the way, did you see this post that I wrote on 26 March 2012 10:00 pm: [quoting myself] “Yes, we can hear the laughter and here is a genuine phoney photo enhanced with PhotoShop (similar to BHO’s birth certificate) to prove: http://postimage.org/image/past4pabt/

      P>S>If Fabius gives you you an “A+”, then averaged with the two “F’s” he’s given you, your present grade is 1.5 or a “D”. Mmmm, a “D” up from an “F” average. As one of my teachers, way back 47 years ago in high school, remarked to me “some progress is better than no progress or worse degression”, yukka, yukka (I’m a comedian ’cause I’m, mmmm?).

      Like

    • 27 March 2012 2:05 pm

      The two important things to know about the FM website (including previous posts on DNI since March 2003):

      (1) Almost everything reported (analysis and forecasts) here gets overwhelming criticism from commenters.

      (2) Our batting average is over 400800 {correction: was thinking of proof, not baseball — time for a drink!}.

      So I don’t care about graders from commenters. There have been 19,913 comments posted since November 2007 (only a small fraction from me). Mostly critical. Mostly wrong.

      Like

    • Bluestocking permalink
      27 March 2012 2:55 am

      I’d be curious to know, Michael…in which neighborhood of Cincinnati do you live? I ask because I’m actually from Cincinnati originally and still have family there but no longer live there myself. From the sound of it, you probably don’t live all that far away from the neighborhood in which I spent most of my childhood (Greenhills).

      Like

    • WTF (unattended gmail) permalink
      1 April 2012 9:52 pm

      Michael Kelly,

      Reaganomics

      {alternative version:} http://postimage.org/image/past4pabt/

      Excellent, I remember, and did not participate in promoting Reaganomics, or any of the other Ayn Rand inspired lunacy. At that time I had been living in rural areas of the west, doing farming/ranching and timber and mill work for about a decade, mostly in counterculture settings, or small businesses. I read a lot of Wallace Stegner and Wendell Berry, and some Vaclav Havel and Sufism. I saw most of traditional rural life disappear as multinationals took over and looted. This was similar to how, as a child, I saw rural life disappear in the midwest when we visited the family farm my mother grew up on in a Mennonite area (german immigrants).

      Note: fascism arises from a crisis in the economic conditions of the middle class. In that sense, Teabaggers are proto-fascists.

      If you go to the FM link I cited above, you will see that the scholarly evidence points to the Carter years as the point of origin. Reaganomics was the result, not the cause. And, don’t forget that Bush Sr. was in China as ambassador (and CIA guy) in the aftermath of Nixon/Kissinger, that was the real “banquet” scenario. The cause was rooted in how the opposition to the concentration of wealth vaporized as Leftism became “discredited” by the late 70s. (see Christopher Alexander’s “The Nature of Order” commentary on Amazon.com for one example.)

      Another example: Ken Wilber, a counterculture-zen philosopher, has a controversial critique of postmodernism’s “mean green meme”. In one version, Wilber refers to this as the “Tag Team From Hell: narcissism and nihilism”.

      When the Left’s legitimacy vaporized, the Right simply filled the resulting void with cr*ppiness, and was able to “sell” it as “patriotism”. Please see the FM post on Gnome Underpants Thievery: “The Tea Party movement develops a platform. It’s the Underpants Gnomes Business Plan!“.

      One component of this was the ability of the Plutocracy to manipulate and exploit the alienation of common conservatives from “liberal” society. (The timeline exactly follows Rush Limbaugh’s rise in influence.) So, it presumably follows that any “new” political paradigm/reform must be able to address the problem of conservative alienation from liberal society (which is basically the problem of the alienation of spirituality from scientific rationalism).

      The great Rock that most reform proposals go aground on is Habermas’ problem of “lifeworld being colonized by systems”.

      Have a nice day.

      Like

    • 1 April 2012 11:22 pm

      WTF: “fascism arises from a crisis in the economic conditions of the middle class. In that sense, Teabaggers are proto-fascists.”

      Depending on future events, this might become the one-sentence story of our time. We can still avoid this outcome.

      Like

  9. Michael Kelly permalink
    25 March 2012 2:03 pm

    This is a administrative question for Fabius. Trying to keep the varioous strings together is not possible. Reply links (buttons) are missing from many of the posts. Can this be fixed?

    Like

    • 25 March 2012 4:36 pm

      We’re limited by the wordpress software. It’s free, so we have no grounds for complaint.

      The reply button is only at the top of the thread. Clunky, but that’s the current state of the art here. As I said above, keeping the threads together is nice but not that big a deal.

      Like

    • Michael Kelly permalink
      25 March 2012 6:00 pm

      Thanks Fabius! Just wanted you and other participants that I have tried to keep my own postsinside the threads. And yes, no one should “look a gift horse in the mouth” – http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/look+a+gift+horse+in+the+mouth

      Like

    • Michael Kelly permalink
      27 March 2012 2:50 pm

      One other question, Fabius. Does WordPress have any way for you to close-up/compress the posts so that all participants/readers see is a forum tree structure, which would make it a lot easier to locate a specific entry reply for any initial question?

      Like

  10. annanic permalink
    25 March 2012 4:04 pm

    Do Democrat citizens register as Repubulicans for these Primary thingys , and strategically vote in the candidate least likely to win the real election ? ( And vice versa ) If so , that would explain a lot.

    Like

    • 25 March 2012 4:38 pm

      No, they do not do so very often.

      Party allegiances are quite fixed (which is why periods when allegiances change are so powerful). There are not even many independents. People with strong partisan voting history often label themselves as such because it sounds prestigious in the US.

      Like

  11. annanic permalink
    25 March 2012 6:52 pm

    So one way to change a nation’s politics might be to lower the voting age .

    Like

    • 25 March 2012 10:53 pm

      Agreed. Change for the better or worse — that is more difficult to determine.

      Given that we’re an aging society, with voting rates far higher for the oldsters than the youngsters, I doubt it would make a large impact. But we can only guess.

      Like

  12. jonh permalink
    25 March 2012 7:35 pm

    If America ended the embargo with Cuba, would this embolden or weaken the communist government?

    Like

    • 25 March 2012 10:56 pm

      The communist government is dying due to internal forces. I doubt the emgargo is at present a significant factor, but that’s just a guess.

      Like

  13. jonh permalink
    25 March 2012 8:18 pm

    In “The coming big increase in structural unemployment” (http://fabiusmaximus.wordpress.com/2010/08/07/20100/), you discuss how AI and automation will eliminate many jobs.

    Will automation help or hurt American exports?

    How hard hit will the USA be by automation compared to other nations? Say, Northern Europe vs Southern Europe; USA versus Asia.

    Who will be the winners? Small populated countries?

    Like

    • 25 March 2012 11:03 pm

      Good question.

      (1) Are we implementing automation faster or slower than our peers? I have seen no data. We do know (from memory) that levels of business investment have been low in America for many years, which suggests (guessing) that other nations might be moving faster. OR that multinationals are automating rapidly, but placing their chips in other nations.

      (2) I see no advantages or disadvantages to a nation’s size.

      (3) Our overvalued dollar is a major hinderance to exports. Republicans make a fetish of a strong dollar, part of their war on simple math and history.

      Like

    • jonh permalink
      25 March 2012 11:53 pm

      Where can I get a strong concise (scholarly?) argument in support of your 3rd assertion that we have an over-valued dollar that hinders exports? It makes sense but I have looked around for a argument with support and haven’t found it yet. Thanks.

      Like

    • 26 March 2012 12:27 am

      The degree of China’s supression of the RMB vs. the US dollar have generated hundreds of articles during the past decade, and annual hearings before Congress (about finding China guilty of currency manipulation). Also see the vast literature about the Bretton Woods II system.

      But none of this is necessary. Price signals suffice. A trade deficit shows that the currency is overvalued; a trade surplus that it is undervalued. The larger and longer the trends, the greater the misvaluation.

      Also see the vast literature about the effects of the UK revaluing the pound in 1925 at its pre-WWI value — despite the UK’s far weaker international position.

      Like

    • jonh permalink
      26 March 2012 3:41 am

      I am aware of all the references you make here, but alas, I am trying to convince a buddy of mine that these things are true. I can’t really hand him a stack of papers or books. My field of work deals with buying and selling abroad so I am aware in a real sense the impact of a falling RMB etc… I was just looking for a quick one-two punch. Thanks anyway though.

      Like

    • 27 March 2012 1:47 am

      Speaking as someone who has had hundreds of discussions about economics during the past few years, it’s hopeless. If you found the wonderful scholarly article explaining currency dynamics, probably he either wouldn’t understand it or not believe it. People tend to use economics to justify pre-existing beliefs, full stop.

      Like

    • jonh permalink
      26 March 2012 3:45 am

      In lieu of American dollar reserve currency, what setup would be best? Multiple reserve currencies? SDRs?

      Like

    • 27 March 2012 1:31 am

      With modern technology we don’t need a reserve currency. Every nation could have its own.

      More likely we’d go to a few “core” currencies, those of the great powers. Perhaps with some sort of synthetic pseudocurrency such as the Special Drawing Rights.

      Like

    • 26 March 2012 9:07 pm

      http://www.google.com/finance?q=USDCNY

      RMB is not falling. Chinese currency has risen in value lately. Click on the 10-year chart, looks to me like it’s gone up about 30%, which is substantial, really, for this kind of thing.

      A trade deficit is made worse exactly because the dollar is the reserve currency. When foreign governments and companies use dollars or other American financial products as a store of wealth, because the products they sell to the USA show up in the trade deficit, but the financial products or cash they hoard don’t show up in the trade deficit.

      Like

    • 27 March 2012 2:06 am

      (1) “RMB is not falling.”

      You have it backwards. I said “supression of the RMB vs. the US dollar”, which means that China works to keep the RMB from rising. It’s been rising at several percent per year, far less than should be given its economic development. Their large purchases of US dollars soak up the excess dollars from their trade surplus.

      So what happens to a nation that prevents its currency from rising? The other path for adjustment is higher inflation than its trading partners. That’s been China’s problem, which they’ve fought mostly using administrative measures, which more or less work in it’s semi-controlled economy.

      (2) “A trade deficit is made worse exactly because the dollar is the reserve currency”

      Not exactly: only sometime; and you have the casuality backwards. A reserve currency can result in a artifically-high value of the currency, which depresses exports and increases imports — and therefore increases the trade deficit.

      Like

    • 27 March 2012 3:27 am

      I was responding to jonh who mentioned a falling RMB, which it isn’t doing. And the RMB has been either on the peg, or when inflation heats up in the country, they let the currency rise, and then they went back on the peg. Then with the last bit of inflation they went off the peg again. I guess that since the inflation in China is coming back down, that we’ll see the peg once more — where the chart flat lines for a few years.

      >Not exactly.

      We’ve created a world economic system where nations are encouraged to build up dollar reserves, or face loss of sovereignty and other mayhem from the IMF and other banks. In order for them to build reserves they must maintain a trade surplus with the USA. For them to have reserves we have to have a deficit. The relationship between the ‘reserve currency’ and the ‘trade deficit’ is near mathematical certainty — assuming that countries are successfully building reserves.

      Like

    • 27 March 2012 3:43 am

      “RMB has been either on the peg”

      It’s called a managed float. They have let the RMB float up at very roughly 5%/year, assuming that this (plus moderate inflation) will gradually get the RMB to equilibrium. We’ll know when they get there because their massive trade surplus will vanish. They might be far closer to that point than most Americans expect.

      “We’ve created a world economic system where nations are encouraged to build up dollar reserves”

      Not encouraged. It’s called the Bretton Woods II system, allowing those who successfully apply it to become creditors and export powerhouses. It works but angers their trading partners, who threaten trade sanctions in response. Hence the endemic fears for the past decade that we’re on the verge of a trade war. The major developed nations would prefer that emerging nations stick with the Washington Consensus system, which keeps them as weak borrowers and importers.

      Like

    • jonh permalink
      27 March 2012 7:44 am

      Hi Cathryn: In response to your : “RMB is not falling.”

      I travel to China quite a bit and have noticed in the past years the RMB go from 12rmb to 1 dollar in 2008, to 8rmb to 1 dollar in 2010, to 6.3 rmb to 1 dollar now. That’s what I meant by “falling”. Probably not the slickest way to express myself.

      Like

  14. Michael Kelly permalink
    26 March 2012 9:53 pm

    Can we still hear laughter from the Oval Office in 1988?

    Like

  15. Michael Kelly permalink
    27 March 2012 5:07 pm

    Referring back to FM post:

    Quoting WTF [quote] “Michael Kelly, Thanks for the interesting observations. Liberalism has become corrupt/ineffective, but it is based on a fundamentally different psychological archetype than conservatism……” [endquote] Gosh, WTF, Fabius must needs give you an “A+” for this one, though he may not agree with all of it. A really good analysis of our political [...]

    The two important things to know about the FM website (including previous posts on DNI since March 2003): (1) Almost everything reported (analysis and forecasts) here gets overwhelming criticism from commenters. (2) Our batting average is over 400. So I don’t care about graders from commenters. There have been 19,913 comments posted since November 2007 (only a small fraction from me). Mostly critical. Mostly wrong.

    Fabius, I apologize if I offended. I absolutely cherish your FM website and the periodic emails referring back to your latest opinion pieces. My writing teachers long ago taught me that humor injected into writing was an effective way to draw a larger and more receptive audience, such as your current “Voting Republican” picture above. I appreciate your highly intellectual, analytical and thoughtful pieces and I thoroughly enjoy and learn from them. If that were not true I would have “unsubscribed” weeks ago, as I do with other emails to keep the clutter out of my inbox.

    This should give you a laugh. I hope so, because livening up your’s as well as other participants’ entries gets everyone juiced up and interested. Don’t you think?

    Like

  16. Michael Kelly permalink
    27 March 2012 6:03 pm

    Reference Bluestocking’s post, [quote] “…Michael…in which neighborhood of Cincinnati do you live? I ask because I’m actually from Cincinnati originally and still have family there but no longer live there myself. From the sound of it, you probably don’t live all that far away from the neighborhood in which I spent most of my childhood (Greenhills).” [endquote]

    Bluestocking, I own a newly constructed and beautiful home in Lebanon 25 miles northeast Green Hills, which is up US 42 15 miles from Sharonville. My wife grew up in North College Hills, only about five miles southeast of Greenhills. :)))

    Like

  17. Thomas Moore permalink
    29 March 2012 2:23 am

    Here’s a question for FM:

    Can you think of another society that realized so clearly that so many of their policies (unwinnable self-destructive drug war, unwinnable self-destructive war on copyright infringement, endless unwinnable foreign wars AKA “the Long War” according to the Pentagon, criminalization of dissent, abandonment of the rule of law, hollowing out the middle class and destroying the tax base via offshoring + automation, limitlessly increasing cost of medical care, skyrocketing college tuition combined with new laws making it impossible for students to rid themselves of debt via normal bankruptcy, a freeway-and-suburb based Happy Motoring society faced with Peak Oil, etc.) are completely unsustainable…yet which continued so eagerly and so enthusiastically with those crazy self-destructive policies?

    Like

    • 29 March 2012 2:51 am

      “continued so eagerly and so enthusiastically with those crazy self-destructive policies”

      Lots of examples. Latin America from the 1920s through the 1980s. Africa in the post-colonial era. Japan and Germany during WWII.

      Like

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