The Perfect Storm
It seems recently that events in my life almost seem ordered in some way. Maybe I’m making more sense of things, or maybe I’m snapping my twigs. In either case, there’s no denying we are living in interesting times. I know I keep promising more science blogs and such, but the state of the world is really bothering me these days.
The latest meaningful coincidence happened yesterday. I talked with an old friend into the night, a friend I hadn’t seen for some years. She told me the story of her late unlamented marriage. In a nutshell, she found out one day that her entire marriage was a sham, and that far from living in a nice condo and saving up for a house…ever penny they had made for years and then some was gone, and the creditors were at the door. I mulled over this as I was going home, where I received an email from another old friend asking me to please talk about the catastrophic economic policies of the Bush administration, and the collapse of the American dollar.
Thinking over the economic situation, and the US caused foreign policy disaster unfolding in Pakistan and other parts, I realized that the American public is very much in the position of my friend and her superficially successful marriage. Most people are persuaded that things are going fine because the media for the most part is simply an entertainment device and corporate ad delivery system, actual news coverage and keeping people informed has gone the way of the dinosaur. The failure of the media I will blog about at some other time, but the collapse of the dollar and American foreign policy needs to be addressed. Since running out in the street and grabbing people and screaming “wake up” just gets me in trouble, I am reduced to ranting here. Bear with me….
Domestically the situation with the American economy is simple. There isn’t one. Our manufacturing capacity has shrunk to the point of non existence, our resources are all imported, our dollar is worthless. We have an economy based on consuming ever increasing amounts of stuff, but no actual wealth is being created. The world is waking up to the fact that the only role the US plays in the world is one of consumer, and it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for the world to hand over the lion’s share of the world’s resources to the US when they are getting worthless dollars in return. And this is the point I am making, the US dollar is no more valuable than toilet paper, and getting less so every day.
The US national debt just topped 9 trillion dollars, it has nearly doubled under the Bush Administration. It’s much worse than that, by lying about the inflation rate to keep down cost of living increases in various things like the minimum wage and social security payments, not to mention the outright looting of social security and other funds, the actual debt owed by the USA is somewhere in the neighbourhood of 40-60 trillion dollars by most estimates. In other words, while Americans were amusing themselves with video games and Paris Hilton type stories the past few decades, our government had spent everything we have and then some…and we have nothing to show for it. You think $5 a gallon gas is bad? Just wait, this is going to keep getting worse very fast as the American dollar goes into free fall.
Internationally the very same thing is playing out, Bush has squandered all of our international good will and basically destroyed American foreign policy. His simplistic “good vs evil” foreign policy has strengthened our enemies, weakened our friends, and set into motion catastrophes liked the failed states in Iraq and Afghanistan that are going to be bleeding sores and terrorist spawning grounds for decades to come. And the worst is yet to come, by forcing/cajoling/paying/threatening Pakistan to join the “war on terror,” a war Musharraf had every reason to stay out of and no reason to join, we now see Pakistan going to way of Iran or Cambodia. An unpopular American supported dictator is frantically destroying the democratic institutions in his country in a desperate bid to stay in power while Islamic extremists are emboldened and strengthened at every turn.
It’s now just a matter of time before we wake up to see a nuclear armed Islamic state, and it’s not going to be Iran. By basing a foreign policy on imaginary nuclear weapons, we are creating a world where the real nuclear weapons are going to fall into the hands of our worst enemies. And when the chickens finally come home to roost, and Americans wake up and discover that the collapse of the American dollar and the collapse of the American Empire are making the collapse of the Soviet Union look mild in comparison, we may turn on our fellow Americans like rabid dogs. Or does someone care to claim that our leaders will shoulder responsibility for the mess they have made?
A more detailed look at the failure of our foreign policy and it’s historical antecedents can be read here. And just for fun, read about the rise of Islamic extremism on the Balkans…where our so called leaders chose to simply ignore it because it is in their short term interests to do so. (What, you thought we invaded and occupied the world’s second largest oil producer to fight Islamic extremism? I have a bridge you might be interested in buying….)
(The above detail from The Temptation of Saint Anthony is public domain under US copyright law. Credit: Hieronymous Bosch 1450-1516)