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Poodles
09-29-2005, 12:00 AM
To keep its dream alive, America must end its military obsession

The US is dynamic and adaptable, but it needs to pay more attention to its fragile economy to save itself from future shocks

Timothy Garton Ash in Stanford
Thursday September 29, 2005
The Guardian


As dusk fell, they danced barefoot on the grass, small children and straw-hatted grannies, fat and slim, rich and poor, white, black, Hispanic-American, Indian-American, Chinese-American, while the irresistible beat of the zoot-suited Big Bad Voodoo Daddy band pounded from the stage. Some of the dancers looked great, others ridiculous, but they didn't give a damn. Then fireworks erupted into the spacious night sky, and a leather-faced man in a cowboy hat cried: "Red! White! Blue!"


The concert to mark Independence Day here at Stanford University in California, earlier this year, showed America at its best. It was an authentic, infectious celebration of freedom and national togetherness, but also of a very particular kind of equality. Not the European kind, which looks to a state-guaranteed social standard for all citizens, but the American kind, which claims that anyone, coming from anywhere, has an equal chance to make their own way to the top.
Where else would you get men and women of such diverse origins dancing so exuberantly together, barefoot on the grass, to celebrate a national holiday? Perhaps in Australia, Canada, or London, which is a small multinational country in itself. But even there, would it have quite the same pizzazz and largeness of spirit?

This was the enactment of a dream, of course. The statistical reality of social mobility in today's United States is rather different. But a dream in which enough people believe is itself a kind of reality, and that has long been the case of the American dream. It's a remarkable fact that, in surveys, many poorer Americans oppose high taxes on the rich - presumably because they believe they might one day be rich themselves. There are just enough success stories of outstanding individuals from poor and immigrant backgrounds to keep the dream alive.

Two months later we saw America at its worst, as members of the black underclass in the ninth ward of New Orleans drowned, grew sick and were preyed upon by violent gangs, while government failed to help or protect them. There are even reports (unconfirmed, and perhaps apocryphal) of American women changing their name from Katrina, since Hurricane Katrina has become a synonym not just for natural disaster but for human and political failure. How could the richest and most powerful country in the world, capable of hitting a flea in Afghanistan with a precision laser-guided missile, fail its own poor so miserably?

And then there was Rita. I returned last week from Iran (where an ayatollah at Friday prayers used Katrina to illustrate the inhumanity of the Great Satan America) to an America engulfed in preparations for the onslaught of Hurricane Rita. Watching television, which reported virtually nothing else, 24 hours a day for several days at a time, this felt like a country facing up to a Martian invasion, as in H G Wells' The War of the Worlds. As the 1938 radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds famously triggered a mass exodus from American cities, so now an estimated one million people fled north from Texas. "Galveston is virtually a ghost town now," reported one correspondent, "which is encouraging." While that multicoloured rotating swirl in the weather-map simulations attacked the Gulf coast again and again, like an alien spaceship, the governor of Louisiana warned people: "If you choose to stay, write your social security number on your arm in indelible ink." So they can identify the corpse, you see.

In the event, it was not so bad as they feared. Three things struck me about this week of Ritamania. First, how often people reached for the word "hero". "Hero docs ride out the storm," said a report on ABC. Of course our tabloids do the same, but this has a different quality and frequency to it. When a military man briefing President Bush said the response to Hurricane Katrina had been "a train wreck", meaning a complete mess, Bush responded: "Having said that about Katrina, there were still some amazingly heroic rescues ... "

It would be interesting to do a word count for mentions of the word "hero" in American public life, as compared with Britain, France or Germany. A hundred years ago, conservative nationalist Germans used to characterise the "true" Germans as heroes and the Jews as wheeler-dealers: Helden against Händler. Today, we have a different stereotype: true Americans as Helden and limp-wristed Europeans as Händler. Yet in practice, of course, you had the same mix of true bravery and, as one journalist on the spot noted, "real raw panic" in the response to Rita and Katrina as you would in most societies.

The second thing that struck me was the way the Bush administration fell back on to the military. After the breakdown of public order following Katrina, members of the 82nd Airborne swept the streets of New Orleans, guns at the ready, as if this was Somalia, Kosovo or Iraq. Not just once but twice in the past few days, Bush has been shown being briefed by military commanders. The president confided that he was thinking about the circumstances "in which the department of defence becomes the lead agency". In the run-up to Rita we were shown the deployment of an entire, fully transportable accident and emergency department, with all mod cons, entirely owned and run by the military. Spick and span, and eerily empty. I could not help reflecting that the poor inhabitants of the ninth ward in New Orleans could have done with one of those in everyday life. But that's not where the money has gone in the past few years.

The third thing that struck me very forcefully was the number of people left destitute, or shouldering mounting debt, by the damage to their homes. Why? Because they had no savings. Indeed, many of the poor evacuees from New Orleans did not even have a bank account. The possessions in the house, some of them purchased on the never-never, were all they had. That's why some poor African-Americans refused to leave their homes. This is not just about poverty; it's also about a consumer culture, a relentless commercial pressure to spend, spend, spend, which has given the United States its lowest average personal savings rate since 1959, and one of the lowest in the developed world.

There's very little padding there to absorb another shock, such as the soaring petrol prices which are America's other current obsession. On Monday President Bush even suggested that Americans might think of driving a bit less. If I had any shares in the manufacturers of gas-guzzling SUVs, I would sell at once.

Now I believe the United States will meet this challenge, precisely because of the spirit and diversity I saw in that Independence Day celebration. This is still a very dynamic society, full of enterprising people who want to be here and want to make it. It's also good at scientific and technological adaptation, which can go a long way to address the country's oil dependency. But as I leave Stanford to return to Europe, I do come away feeling that this country needs to spend the next few years concentrating more on its economy and less on its military. When the next recession comes along, it will be no use sending for the marines.

www.freeworldweb.net

Buckeye1sid
09-29-2005, 07:41 AM
Garton is a condescending fool.

whiteclouder
09-29-2005, 07:45 AM
"The Guardian"? SNORK!!!

Cloud..

momahedger
09-29-2005, 09:09 AM
America would not exist if it was not for the civilian army and the continental army. and the nation would have been over run time and time again, if it was not for the military.

everynation has a military that helps to define its boundaries and protects it from being over run. to suggest that we do away with the military is ridiculous.

the military was sent in with gun to help the police because there werew armed gangs roaming the streets. and the looting. The police needed help and were calling for it.

police units are the same thing as nation guard, the reserve and the military. all have different functions but are still responsible for protecting the civilians of the nation. get rid of one and soon it will be easier to just get rid of the next until there will be anarchy.

do not like authority? then read Lord of the Flies, a tired but true analogy because even people who do not want authority the need arises.

Buckeye1sid
09-29-2005, 09:12 AM
Moma, how could you not follow the advice of a European. They is smart an such. Looky at how goodest they done did with their own places.

randy
09-29-2005, 09:31 AM
You guys do realize that at some point in time the US is going to lose it's mask of defender of liberty, truth, justice and democracy around the world, right? The bottom line is going to kick in.

Have any of you considered what would happen if the Saudis and the Japanese stopped buying US Treasury notes and automatically renewing them? What would happen if they DEMANDED to be paid, according to the terms of those financial insturments? We in the US DO NOT produce enough good and services per annum to generate enough income to cover OUR EXPENSES. Just WHOM do you think has been paying it for us. ???????????

What if there was another oil embargo right now? With our 25% oil refining capacity impaired from the hurricanes anyway??? :) Starting to get the picture now?

Our only choice would be to use our military to TAKE what we needed and base that action on NATIONAL SECURITY. Do you think the rest of the world gives a fuck about our NATIONAL SECURITY? What do you think the Russian Federation, Peoples Republic of China and those nations that were left holding our useless Treasury notes would do? Think about this one carefully now..

It is only a matter of time until the US WILL NOT BE "THE" WORLD LEADER, in fact, we won't even be a WORLD POWER. That will be good for our over blown egos anyway.

momahedger
09-29-2005, 09:37 AM
You guys do realize that at some point in time the US is going to lose it's mask of defender of liberty, truth, justice and democracy around the world, right? The bottom line is going to kick in.

Have any of you considered what would happen if the Saudis and the Japanese stopped buying US Treasury notes and automatically renewing them? What would happen if they DEMANDED to be paid, according to the terms of those financial insturments? We in the US DO NOT produce enough good and services per annum to generate enough income to cover OUR EXPENSES. Just WHOM do you think has been paying it for us. ???????????

What if there was another oil embargo right now? With our 25% oil refining capacity impaired from the hurricanes anyway??? :) Starting to get the picture now?

Our only choice would be to use our military to TAKE what we needed and base that action on NATIONAL SECURITY. Do you think the rest of the world gives a fuck about our NATIONAL SECURITY? What do you think the Russian Federation, Peoples Republic of China and those nations that were left holding our useless Treasury notes would do? Think about this one carefully now..

It is only a matter of time until the US WILL NOT BE "THE" WORLD LEADER, in fact, we won't even be a WORLD POWER. That will be good for our over blown egos anyway.

Randy, if I am reading this right, then I completely agree and that is what will happen if dismiss the military and its counterparts. I hope I am reading this right. :flowers

momahedger
09-29-2005, 09:38 AM
Moma, how could you not follow the advice of a European. They is smart an such. Looky at how goodest they done did with their own places.
:laugh :rofl :thud

Buckeye1sid
09-29-2005, 09:59 AM
Randy, apparently you think that we are being supported by Japan and Saudi Arabia. You also seem to imply that we have no interest in truth, liberty and democracy. Yet your facts appear to be hypothetical and your doomsday situation is funny.
Agreed, we are in a world wide oil crunch that probably won't improve. However, we do feed much, if not most of the world. Our Treasury note are not worthless, and we hold a whole lot of similar Japanese instruments.
As to Saudi Arabia, it's political climate is such that the current regime will not last too much longer. When it changes, we will not be MFN with the new government, but neither will we be considered the Great Satan.
But, what the hell, tell me how much smarter other nations are, and how their policies are so much more enlightened than ours. How much oil does Japan pump? How much food does Saudi Arabia grow? I can only assume that France is self sufficient in oil, undoubtably China is too.
But hate away Randy, here in the U.S., you can!

randy
09-29-2005, 10:12 AM
Randy, apparently you think that we are being supported by Japan and Saudi Arabia. You also seem to imply that we have no interest in truth, liberty and democracy. Yet your facts appear to be hypothetical and your doomsday situation is funny.
Agreed, we are in a world wide oil crunch that probably won't improve. However, we do feed much, if not most of the world. Our Treasury note are not worthless, and we hold a whole lot of similar Japanese instruments.
As to Saudi Arabia, it's political climate is such that the current regime will not last too much longer. When it changes, we will not be MFN with the new government, but neither will we be considered the Great Satan.
But, what the hell, tell me how much smarter other nations are, and how their policies are so much more enlightened than ours. How much oil does Japan pump? How much food does Saudi Arabia grow? I can only assume that France is self sufficient in oil, undoubtably China is too.
But hate away Randy, here in the U.S., you can!



Well fly that RED, WHITE AND BLUE, have Greenwood singing "I'm Proud to be an American" in the background, maybe have a military jet formation screeching across a clear blue sky for added effect. :)

BTW, NO we do NOT hold anywhere near a comparable amount in Japanese securities, AS A GOVERNMENT.

Now;

"Have any of you considered what would happen if the Saudis and the Japanese stopped buying US Treasury notes and automatically renewing them? What would happen if they DEMANDED to be paid, according to the terms of those financial insturments? We in the US DO NOT produce enough good and services per annum to generate enough income to cover OUR EXPENSES. Just WHOM do you think has been paying it for us. ???????????"

Care to DIRECTLY address the above please? :)

Buckeye1sid
09-29-2005, 10:17 AM
First of all Treasury note are not demand instruments. Secondly, they are traded in the securities market. Japan can dump whenever it choses, but it would drive the discount rate up and they would lose a vast amount of money.

randy
09-29-2005, 10:21 AM
First of all Treasury note are not demand instruments. Secondly, they are traded in the securities market. Japan can dump whenever it choses, but it would drive the discount rate up and they would lose a vast amount of money.


Excuse me? ALL US Treasury Notes have maturity dates and the HOLDERS of those notes ARE NOT obligated to renew them and if I were you I would be worried more about Arab holdings of such notes than those held by the Japanese.

Buckeye1sid
09-29-2005, 10:24 AM
We've never defaulted and I don't think we ever will. A demand instrument is one which can be redeemed without regard to maturity date. Nevertheless, they can be sold on the market prior to the maturity date at whatever price they will bring.
T-Notes are being redeemed every day. New ones are being sold every day.

randy
09-29-2005, 10:26 AM
We've never defaulted and I don't think we ever will. A demand instrument is one which can be redeemed without regard to maturity date.
T-Notes are being redeemed every day. New ones are being sold every day.


HELLO!!!!!!

WHERE would the money come from to "redeem" a trillion dollars in debt? WHERE would the money come from to finance just ONE YEAR of US expenditures if no one BOUGHT the US Treasury notes? Do you really not see the vulnerability here?

Buckeye1sid
09-29-2005, 10:31 AM
Randy, they don't all become due on the same day. I really don't see the problem you're refering to. T-Notes are bought in huge lots by traders who then sell them off. No country could precipitate a financial problem simply by unloading them. They would only sustain a huge loss themselves.

randy
09-29-2005, 10:40 AM
Randy, they don't all become due on the same day. I really don't see the problem you're refering to. T-Notes are bought in huge lots by traders who then sell them off. No country could precipitate a financial problem simply by unloading them. They would only sustain a huge loss themselves.

If that makes you feel better, OK. I do however think you more than see my point and I think it scares the hell out of you as it well should. To precipitate a financial catastrophe in the US only a fraction of those notes would have to be presented for redemption and the US would go immediatedly into default and we both know that. IF current offerings of US Treasury notes were stalled by non purchase we would go into a financial tailspin. Wishing it would never happen and putting on a smiley face will not make it so.

Buckeye1sid
09-29-2005, 10:42 AM
Randy, you can't renew a T-Note. The interest rate changes. They are all redeemed.

randy
09-29-2005, 10:44 AM
Randy, you can't renew a T-Note. The interest rate changes. They are all redeemed.


That is where we are failing to have a meeting of the minds. GOVERNMENT TO GOVERNMENT sales are not the same as individual and corporate sales. I see now where we have failed to communicate. Other governments do not go to local banks or stock brokerage firms to buy US Treasury notes. Terms, interest rates, etc are different as billions of dollars change hands.

whiteclouder
09-29-2005, 12:40 PM
If the Saudis or the Japanese demanded (laughable) anything, we simply demand payment for the services we've rendered protecting their homes for the last few decades. The same applies to about any country you can think of. If we've not been their protectors, then we've been feeding the ungrateful bastards.

So, if they want to call all the notes, let 'em. We go belly up on the world market, they loose all the worth of their investments and would have to fend for themselves for a change. Neither is going to happen.

Cloud..

randy
09-29-2005, 02:12 PM
I hope your right Cloud. BUT what if your wrong? Isn't the most practical answer that we find a way to actually finance ourselves and let the rest of the world worry about themselves?

whiteclouder
09-29-2005, 07:17 PM
That would be the least practical answer, randy. I'm going to assume for the sake of arguement that you are buying your own home. I will assume further that you are paying off an amortized loan acquired for the purpose of buying said home. Practically, you should have saved for 15 years and paid cash but you didn't, you borrowed. It's the way a market economy works. You will not lose money on that house even after paying for it twice (which you will do over 25-30 years). Why? Because over the long haul, we grow more than inflation. Alway have and the people who buy our paper, believe we will continue in that vein. When they have doubts, they will not sell what they have, they will just stop buying more. Hasn't happened in over 100 years and I'm betting on the USA to keep it up. Seems most folks are.

Cloud..

randy
09-29-2005, 07:23 PM
That would be the least practical answer, randy. I'm going to assume for the sake of arguement that you are buying your own home. I will assume further that you are paying off an amortized loan acquired for the purpose of buying said home. Practically, you should have saved for 15 years and paid cash but you didn't, you borrowed. It's the way a market economy works. You will not lose money on that house even after paying for it twice (which you will do over 25-30 years). Why? Because over the long haul, we grow more than inflation. Alway have and the people who buy our paper, believe we will continue in that vein. When they have doubts, they will not sell what they have, they will just stop buying more. Hasn't happened in over 100 years and I'm betting on the USA to keep it up. Seems most folks are.

Cloud..


OK, then how is it practical to finance overseas military expeditions at a costs of billions and billions of dollars? BTW, I could be mistaken but I do believe on an individual basis, credit grantors will withdraw already allocated credit when they determine that an individual is overextended even if that individual has never defaulted on a payment? Are you saying that the U.S. will be able to continue to accumulate national debt indefinently and the rest of the world will continue to finance it? I fail to see the logic in that. At some point the U.S. dollar will begin to lose value and those holding US insturments payable in U.S. dollars will see their value decrease? Very perplexing.

wintertao
09-29-2005, 08:47 PM
oh great an article from the guardian - which even my friends in London tell me is regarded as a paper for and by looney tunes - America has no military obbsession - if we did we would own all of North and South America in about a month.....

Bard
09-29-2005, 08:50 PM
:lolup

Bard
09-29-2005, 08:52 PM
We cannot even win in Iraq!

What fairytale world do you live in?

Bard
09-29-2005, 08:53 PM
No military obsession?
:rofl

Bard
09-29-2005, 08:59 PM
oh great an article from the guardian - which even my friends in London tell me is regarded as a paper for and by looney tunes - America has no military obbsession - if we did we would own all of North and South America in about a month.....

No military obsession he says?? :laugh

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