5/07/2006

It's Too Late, Baby!

Anybody who can remember back to the Energy Crisis of the seventies can remember how the government urged us all to conserve energy. We all bought, or rode around in fuel efficient cars as a way to stick it to the Arabs, who we felt were holding us up at the gas pump. Then something happened we actually did so well that gas pirces levelled off, and we continued on our way driving the smaller fuel efficient car and labelling any car that wasn't efficient a "gas guzzler."
Into the eighties, the smaller cars went by the wayside as fuel prices dropped (not as far as pre-Energy Crisis levels, but enough for us to reconsider that Ford Fiesta)and the opulent Dynasty influenced greed driven decade was in full swing. Soon, we were more concerned with Keeping Up Appearances than being miserly when it came to fuel consumption. This led to the rise of the SUB(sport utility behemoth) as America's main mode of transportation, sold to concerned parents as being safer in an accident than an "economy car", so we sacrificed fuel efficiency (and clean air) for safety, much in the same way we sacrificed our freedoms for security in the days following 9/11.
All of this was possible because of an agreement made between the US and OPEC, you accept only dollars for your oil, and we will prop up your regime. Therefore, if another country wished to purchase oil, they first must come to the US to get there dollars, and exchange we got manufactured goods. This worked out so well, that we started shifting our manufacturing overseas, so in exchange for cheap labor, corporations got bigger profits and Americans got more cheap (er, I mean inexpensive) consumer goods. Which was a good deal, as long as you didn't pay attention to the trade deficit. Whenever there was a need for more dollars, the Federal Reserve happily printed up more, which the American people were happy to take, because they never thought they'd ever have to pay it back.
And everything was going swimmingly, no one dared challenge our dollar hegemony, because it meant the loss of US support of your despotic regime. Then one day, Saddam Hussein, who, along with his country, was suffering under US imposed sanctions on his regime following the first Gulf war, decided, in November 2001, to no longer accept dollars in his oil for food program, instead switching over to the Euro.Uh-oh. Sanctions against Iraq were duer to be lifted, and that meant he could sell his oil on the market for euros. Not good for US dollar imperialism. That meant we needed an excuse to invade Iraq, but we couldn't tell the people the real reason, that America is over extended and can't afford to make good on all the dollars we pumped into the world economy, so a reason that the people could easily believe, and be kept frightened at the same time, was concocted involving WMD. And the majority of the American people swallowed, with only a few of them spitting it out. And so, after his successful "Mission:Accomplished photo op, President Bush signed his first executive order, changing Iraqi oil slaes back to the dollar.
Next week, Iran opens it's oil bourse. This bourse is slated to trade Iranian oil in euros as well. A move that, according to the Associated Press "could lead central bankers around the world to convert some of their dollar reserves into euros, possibly causing a decline in the dollar’s value", which is already in decline against the euro anyway. This will create less of a demand for the dolar, in turn driving up prices here at home.
Then, according once again to the Associated Press:"If the dollar lost its status as the world’s reserve currency, that would force the United States to fund it massive account deficit by running a trade surplus, which would increase inflationary pressures." This causes a problem, as we no longer manufacture enough goods in this country to run a tadre surplus, as we have allowed most of our manufacturing jobs to be outsourced to other countries. And, at this late hour, there is no way to retool our manufacturing to do what needs to be done.
This is what has led to all the rhetoric against Iran, whom we seek to punish with sanctions for the crime of building a nuclear power plant. In reality, it's to stop the inevitable loss of dollar imperialism and the devastating effect that it would have on the economy. But, our good old parents, the US government, doesn't want us to worry about that, or wonder how we ended up this way, so they have concocted the whole "nuke Iran's nukes" scenario, to make it appear, once again, they are protecting us from the "Axis of Evil", instead of covering the collective asses of our politicians who for thirty years have allowed this situation to develop and fester.
And everyone involved seems to prefer it this way. The Federal Reserve has stopped the publication of the M3 report of dollar inflows. The Ameican people refuse to abandon their SUB's and McHouses in the suburbs. And the Federal government has refused to deal with this in any rational way, hoping once again, that when the alarm goes off, the American consumer rolls over and hits that snooze button again, allowing them to sleep until it's too late.

73 comments:

Left of Center said...

Well said Lew. I wish more people understood this. Even just the fact that the US dollar is used to by more than Super Big Gulps. Our value is plumettig quickly as Lily saidf in a recent piece on The Blue Republic. It's more than a matter of perception. They aint buyin' our shit anymore.

spooky said...

You titled this post "It's Too Late, Baby!" You said what you predicted was going to happen, but what do you predict will happen after that? Will the US become a third world nuclear power? Will we loose our power seat as the UK once did? Who will be the next "US" if we do? Do you see food lines like in the great depression? Will the "blue plate" special ring true once again? Will we see a shift in our governments structure, perhaps a switch to Socialism? Will it be too late for Socialism, and could we even afford it? Will it finally be time for Canada to tell "US" jokes on there late show's? Will we loose are late show's?
Whats going to happen after the euro takes precidence in the oil market? Tell us.

Lew Scannon said...

It's too late for America to dig itself out the hole we've been digging for the last thirty or so years.
When the euro takes precedence over the dollar, all the countries now holding the dollar as a reserve currency will dump the dollar, which, like a bad check, will come back to the US demanding payment, of which we have nothing to back it up. An excessive amount of dollars chasing too few goods will lead to hyperinflation, such as was seen at the end of the Weimar Republic, where it took a wheelbarrow full of money to buy a loaf of bread and people burned money rather than firewood as it was cheaper. This led to the rise of the Nazis in Germany, who knows what will happen here in the US. The clicker at the right will tell you the financial costs of the war in Iraq, and that's on top of the trillion dollar Federal debt because the war is off the books (and was supposed to pay for itself).
A third world nuclear power? If you looked around my neighborhood, you'd see that's not very far away, and is likely to spread as more jobs are outsourced.

Jason H. Bowden said...

Since the 1970s, the United States diversified the countries that we import crude from. Good luck sticking it to all of the those "arabs" living in Canada and Mexico, guys.

The top countries are (thousand barrels per day):

1) Mexico: 1771
2) Canada: 1710
3) Saudi Arabia: 1418
4) Nigeria: 1342
5) Venezuela: 1178
6) Angola: 464
7) Iraq: 450
8) Ecuador: 222
9) Brazil: 164
10) Algeria: 163
11) Kuwait: 152
12) Columbia: 126
13) UK: 82
14) Chad: 77
15) Equatorial Guinea: 73

Don't let facts get in the way of stupid conspiracy theories about Euros, guys. And note -- the greedy, immoral, unprincipled, and materialist United States is the only country in the world that embargoes oil from the Mullahs of Iran.

Lew Scannon said...

Jase,
It doesn't matter where we get our oil from,we still have to pay market price, which has risen considerably since the invasion of Iraq, and even more since the saber rattling at Iran from the Bush administration for building a nuclear power plant.
However, Europe gets 70% of it's oil from Iran, and most countries over there have been holding the dollar as a reserve currency for the sole purpose of purchasing oil. The dollar is already starting to fall against the euro, and Japan and China have already started moving away from it. I fail to see where this is a "stupid conspiracy theory" as you put it, with Paul Volcker stating there's a 75% chance the dollar will fall in the next five years. The only thing "stupid" are those people who think we can spend our way out of debt (i.e., by starting another war against a sovereign democratic nation to seize their oil production)while we continue to outsource our manufacturing jobs.

Lily said...

Good question, Spooky. What WILL happen?

What will happen when we are called upon to defend Taiwan, and the Chinese government hovers its finger on the "sell" button? What will happen as we become a nation of nuclear power and we must dispose of the toxic byproducts? How will a destitute superpower guarantee safety of substances toxic enough to kill millions? How will a broke government SECURE these obvious targets? Who will defend them? Recruit the border control volunteering near Mexico? Who?

Who will need to make money from the reprocessing of the waste of other nations? A country in decline, desperate and in debt. Debt will be our downfall. Not immediately, and not if there is an economic bubble that can stave it off for a few extra years. But it will be our undoing because it will be impossible to have a budget where half of all revenues are spoken for by debt, growing exponentially over the decades that follow until the debt consumes all. Most economists (yes, even the republicans) agree that in a short period of time ALL government revenues will be comprised of only a few areas- that something (most things)will have to give. But what? Cut social security? Defense? Medicare? What? See the problem is that there will be no cut possible that will not hurt the public in dramatic ways. What will go to the chopping block? Defense? So much for the war on terror. I hope people will defend America for free! But given the amount of money needed to persuade people, does not seem likely. Does it Spooky?

I think THAT is the way to look at the question. Simple proportion. How long can we maintain a debt load that is numerically impossible to reduce without a major change like huge tax increases.

I do not see a massive socialist movement here in our cash strapped situation. What follows chaos will likely not be our broke government handing out ration cards. Tenuous order will be asserted by military force.

Jason H. Bowden said...

Lew --

The left will believe any fantasy that will prevent them from facing the horrible truth -- there are Islamic totalitarians out there who want to kill a large number of people for Allah. As Ahmadinejad promises to extreminate the Jews and preaches the imminent return of the Mahdi, the oil Bourse conspiracies exemplify the hard left's delusional state of mind. It is more comfortable to fantasize the Americans are the cause of the all of the trouble, since if we merely change administrations, the Islamic supremacists will stop their crescendo of violence that has been accelerating since the 1970s.

Sure, such theories make us feel like we're in control over horrific events performed by Muslim fundamentalists, but who are we kidding?

The left made another failed doomsday prediction that the Oil Bourse would happen in March, and the Great Satan was prepared to strike.

Iran simply lacks the freedom and transparency to do a successful oil exchange, as Milton Erzati notes, and

"even if by some miracle of legal maneuvering and commercial seduction, Tehran established its euro-based oil bourse, trading there would likely fail to move the dollar from its dominant position. Even a wildly successful Iranian exchange would have only a short-lived currency effect. Once traders and dealers had adjusted their transactions balances to accommodate the euro-based trading, they would have no reason for further dollar sales or euro purchases. Currency values would then stabilize at a new level."

Lastly, Iran is not going to be invaded anytime soon. Whether there will be airstrikes against Iran's nuclear program, like the raid on Saddam Hussein's Osirak facility in 1981, is another question.

Jason H. Bowden said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jason H. Bowden said...

James Hamilton has intelligent things to say about the entire oil bourse stupidity:

-----------------
Well, for starters, you don't need to acquire any U.S. assets in order to purchase a barrel of oil that is priced in dollars. You could pay with eurodollars, which are dollar-denominated accounts that could be issued by any bank anywhere in the world.

And even if the oil were purchased with dollars drawn on a U.S. bank, there is no reason at all that the seller needs to retain the proceeds in that form. Those selling oil could convert those dollars back to euros or Japanese yen or whatever their hearts desired, and likewise could convert euros obtained through sales on an Iranian bourse back into dollars, if they wished. What ultimately determines the demand for dollars is not the unit of account for the transaction, but rather the desired asset holdings of those who are accumulating the wealth.

You could buy gold right now in New York for dollars or in London for pounds. Which one is cheaper? Guess what-- you'll pay exactly the same price either place once you make the currency conversion at the current exchange rate. The same will surely hold for crude oil.

And the notion that the U.S. dollar is currently "backed by oil" is so nonsensical that it is difficult even to fathom what that phrase is intended to convey. When we say that under a gold standard, the dollar is backed by gold, I know exactly what that means-- it means you can surrender dollars at any time to obtain a fixed amount of gold promised by the government. But if you surrender dollars on any given day in January 2006, how much oil are you going to get back? It varies literally by the minute, and the rate at which dollars get exchanged for oil has nothing to do with the promises made by any government and everything to do with market fluctuations in supply and demand.

Which is also my explanation for the prevalence of these theories on the internet-- there is a demand for a deeply conspiratorial interpretation of world events, and always someone willing to supply such.
--------------------------

Lily said...

"When we say that under a gold standard, the dollar is backed by gold, I know exactly what that means-- it means you can surrender dollars at any time to obtain a fixed amount of gold promised by the government. But if you surrender dollars on any given day in January 2006, how much oil are you going to get back? It varies literally by the minute, and the rate at which dollars get exchanged for oil..."


Jason but you miss the idea that nobody is saying the dollar is DIRECTLY backed in oil. The idea has to do with the ability to manipulate the exchanges to inflate the value and rating. There is more to it than that, and more to the issue of the bourse.

And while it can be debated how the US does or does not use foreign policy toward dollar supremacy, the fact is that the dollar is NOT backed in gold. You and I both know what a dollar backed in gold means-ok agreed- (gold also fluctuates) but what about currency backed in.... what, Jason? We understand what the dollar is NOT. So...

Great. Stellar sleuthing.

But to say that there is nothing behind its value? That would be impossible. Please tell me since I am just a girl and I'm not so good with figuring- tell me what DOES drive the value of the dollar. In simple language that we conspiracy dummies can understand.

Your own words, given your mission to educate hippies, would be a welcome start. Since the petrodollar conspiracy is hereby debunked, and the gold standard went the way of Disco... tell us what it is backed with.

Lew Scannon said...

What I question is the whole idea of an oil bourse in euros as a "conspiracy". A conspiracy, by nature, is when two or more people get together to perpetrate a crime, as when nineteen men armed only with box cutters were able to penetrate the most highly defended airspace in the world. That is a conspiracy. Iran opening an oil bourse is not a "conspiracy" as no crimes are being committed, it is a matter of fact.
If you haven't been paying attention, gold prices have been rising, because the dollar is worth less, therefore it requires more dollars to purchase them. this is known as inflation.
As for Iran's alleged threats against Israel, they never happened and were interpreted by MEMRI to sound more ominous than they really were.
But you're right about one thing, America's dollar is not backed by oil, or gold, or anything except a multitrillion dollar debt. Many countries that are holding the doolar as a reserve are now dumping large amounts of them. China, for instance, used to peg it yuan to the dollar but now has switched to a basket of currency because of the instability of the dollar.

john_m_burt said...

Well, if the conversion of oil trading from dollars to euros is utterly insignificant and irrelevant, then let's just sit back and watch it happen. No problem, la-dee-dah.

spooky said...

No Lily, I just wanted to know what will happen if the euro takes precidence in the oil market. I did enjoy your tirade though.

Lily said...

Did you? Great, because Lord knows I live to please you.

Quid Pro Quo. I believe you owe me a tirade.

fosco said...

If the euro takes precedence, locusts will plague the earth, the likes of which have never been seen before.

Not since Pharaoh.

Who gives a damn? They can play with dollars, they can play with euros. Its all controlled by the Illuminati.

fosco said...

Quid Pro Quo, Dr Lecter

spooky said...

Give me a day or two Lily, its a bust week and my mind and body are all ready tired. In the interim I'll try to make a comment that could be construed as sexist to keep you busy. Just kidding.

Rex Kramer, Danger Seeker said...

I'm confused by your excessive liberal belly-achin'...are you telling me I have to buy a used Ford Fiesta now in order to stick it to the Arabs?

Damn. Life was so much easier when I could just yell stuff like "Bring it on" from the open window of my Hummer Special-Edition Behemoth!

Lew Scannon said...

No rex, you have to buy a hybrid.

Lily said...

A day or two? I have ten tirades before you've even had your breakfast. I've had ten tirades by six a.m.

Sir, you can't handle the tirade.

Lily said...

Wait- in my pathological self absorption I missed something.

"Kidding"?

sumo said...

Well...kids this has been very illuminating and interesting...I hope to see more tirading tommorrow...and sling some gold while you're at it.

rev. billy bob gisher ©2005 said...

if school buses became a hip thing, those big yellow suckers would be parked in suburban driveways everywhere.

Mr Accountable said...

As far as Arabian oil is concerned, it seems to me that the creation of Saudi Aramco is important, as well as the subsequent heavy involvement of Silk Road partners Japan and Korea in the building of the infrastructure of the ports, refinery and now the chemical industry there.

mikevotes said...

I find it really interesting that there is no massive anti arab hate surrounding gas prices this time around.

Most of the anger seems to be aimed at the oil companies.

I just find that odd, because historically, Americans, as a culture, have taken every chance they could to villify arabs over oil.

Mike

Mr Accountable said...

Qadafy was very important to the creation of Saudi Aramco, and to the nationalizations of the oil industries in the area during the time before. In European terms he is quite objectionable, and in North African/Arabian terms he is a diplomat and joiner.

I should really find my sources on this.

RichM said...

http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/rankorder/2001rank.html

Right now our Gross Domestic Product is $12,410,000,000,000

The next closest economy is the European Union with $12,180,000,000,000.

As long as we continue to produce at these rates our economy will still be one to be reconned with. While there is reason for concern, I do not think there s reason for doom and gloom. Our nation has shown itself to be immensely resilient.

Don't get me wrong, I am not saying our leaders have done a great job of leading us, but we are a long way from being an economic backet case.

Lily said...

I don't agree, because I think we cannot possibly maintain an expense level that so far exceeds revenues. Expenses are are expected to increase, and many pin their hopes on another bubble like under Clinton. But in what industry? Things have changed. Something dramatic has to happen, and they haven't even addressed social security yet.

douglass said...

Richm is correct here.

No matter what happens, America will continue to be a wealthy nation.

Right now, the currency is roughly backed in the USA's ability to kick ass.

With enough nuclear weapons to blow up the world 2 dozen times and the world's largest military budget, we can kick a lot of ass.

On a side note; backing a currency in precious metals became obsolete about 100 years ago. Such an arrangement cripples the liquidity of a currency and gives too much power to those who are involved in stockpiling precious metals.

fosco said...

Yes, and it appears the Chinese are also keeping their currency "liquid" instead of letting the market work, not that we will call it manipulation or anything!

Of course it was along time ago when currency became backed in ass but who will pay the military when the shit hits the fan? Then will we have volunteer ass kickers? last I checked there weren't enough recruits WITH the big payouts and ad campaigns. Will we kick ass without a military?

I don't buy your argument that we will always be wealthy. With what industry? Not in technology anymore, in what?

We are wealthy because we are propped up by others. And they can pull the chairs out from under us.

GraemeAnfinson said...

nice post Lew.

That Damned Jezebel said...

Snow's a pussy, thats why

douglass said...

Fosco:

The industries in which America will have an edge into the next century are those that require a statewide network of research universities such as pharmaceuticals, aeronautics, military hardware, biotechnology, and nanotechnology (among others.). Also, we excel, and will continue to excel in the production of FOOD, which is a weapon when the shit hits the fan. The problem with comparing the US to china is although China is growing faster than the US, it has a relatively archaic infrastructure.

That Damned Jezebel said...

Yes, but here are some problems with the technology edge we keep hearing about:
1. Funding for technology,grants, research, etc. will be harder to provide as the nation is pressured to confront the debt and costs of perpetual war. Investment in technology will be hindered. Infrastructure will begin to suffer and fail as well.

2. We are no longer leading in technology productivity as indicated by a variety of indicators. This year the US was NOT first in tech, this trend could continue.

3. The future innovators? Foreign! Go to a tech school look at who has a student VISA and where they are from! As it is, we have jeopardized US security to utilize foreign students (WHO CANNOT get security clearances legally) to work on defense contracts.Look into places like Virginia Tech and RPI!

4. Food is a good issue. Food, with Monsanto and co forcing GMO foods? Food, with climate change, sprawl, the subsidy impact? If food is our ace in the hole we are REALLY in trouble. Yes we have food but we have a huge population. What are the current figures on food imports/exports these days?

The point is not to compare the US to China. The point is to look at how our position can be expected to change due toa variety of things, of which the deficit and job loss are only two. We must compete with the EU, for example. People look at the snapshot of the world right now and think nothing in it will change and therefore the current strengths will be our salvation.

douglass said...

You damned Jezebel,

You are right about the USA losing the place it had at Bretton woods.

There is no way we can sustain the levels of growth we have enjoyed for the past 60 years.

My point is that ok, we will not grow at the rate we did, we have a population timebomb on our hands, and the industries in which we one dominated are now finding homes overseas.

As a result, America will definitely fall from it's place as the only superpower, but it will continue to be wealthy, we will not see an apocalyptic crash, just market stagnation that will lower the standard of living.

America will remain wealthy.

Lew Scannon said...

Well, sure dougl ass, America will stay wealthy, at least the top tenpercent, it's the rest of the population that will suffer in poverty.

douglass said...

Clever spacing, Scanton

'Suffering in poverty'

I will have no part in your apocalyptic thinking.

How exactly do you equate the elimination of an advantage gained through imperialism with poverty for 90% of Americans?

Elizabeth Branford said...

Well perhaps it won't be poverty by real poverty standards, poverty to some people though is not having 4,000 square feet. The "apocalyptic" thinking is just the term slapped onto it by some economists and you seem to be debating the merits of their case. Thats another matter. I will post it in the economics forum at Blue Republic though because I find that debate on Blogger is difficult.

My problem is that I don't know if Americans will step up to the plate. In some cultures, communities were able to get through tough times because they had been through tough times. An example- when England experienced food shortages when imports were limited during WWII- they responded by rethinking their communities and land use strategies. They rethought the way they used open land and villages, reserved green spaces because that was an adaptation for survival. In the event that it became necessary to step up agriculture they could. These are the kinds of things that many societies do that Americans do not seem to do.

That adds to my pessimistic view about our "fate". I would like to think it will be better than expected though.Hope.

Lew Scannon said...

douglass,
sorry about that, sometimes my fat fingers hit the space bar.
I fail to see anywhere in the Constitution that gives anybody the right to create an American empire. And I see Americans slipping into poverty everyday.

That Damned Jezebel said...

Scannon,
The Constitution doesn't say we have to put a man on the moon either but we sure spent a lot to do it.

Our constitution really doesn't tell us how or when to violate and oppress others, it just talks about trying to prevent the violation and oppression of our own from our from one another.

What does specifically outline the empire agenda is the plan created back in the nineties by the radical neocons even including a 'new pearl harbor".

douglass said...

Liz,

you said it, not me:

"Well perhaps it won't be poverty by real poverty standards"

perhaps.

jezebel, word. But hold off on the conspiracy theories about the PNAC until they are substantiated.

scannon, I don’t care about the obesity of your fingers.

The constitution is a piece of paper that has nothing to do with the American exceptionalism and manifest destiny that has driven American imperialism.

Are you scared that you won't have cheap consumer goods made by quasi legal sweatshop laborers, that you won't be able to build your 5000 sq ft 'mcmanison' on the backs of the poor and beaten masses of the third world?

Please, I don't see why people should be alarmed about the end of such injustice.

But, If you are scared, start training for a job in healthcare. You will have near absolute job security as there are plenty of baby boomers that are going to need healthcare as they age.

Lew Scannon said...

No, I'm not "scared" of not being able to buy cheap consumer goods, I don't need more than I have.
The PNAC is not a "conspiracy theory" as you have suggested, but a conspiracy fact as most of the signees have gone through the Bush adminsitration which has followed the agenda of the PNAC to the letter. I don't know what makes you claim the PNAC is unsubstantiated. perhaps a state of denial, or willful ignorance.The whole idea of American imperialism is founded in their writings, for those who bother to read them, rather than dismiss or defend them.
The truth is we have a trillion dollar national debt, not to mention the hundreds of billions of dollars of debt incurred by the war in Iraq. We have a trade deficit where we import more goods than we manufacture and export to other countries. The American homeowner is overextended, refinancing their overpriced homes to pay off debt. As the housing bubble starts to deflate due in part to rising interest rates, the value of that house will fall as well, leaving homeowners deeper in debt that they won't be able to recoup by selling their homes.
Suggesting that one start training for a job in healthcare is facetious, as most aging boomers on fixed incomes won't be able to afford most medical help,as evidenced by the giveaway medicare program that the Republicans have just given to the Big Pharm.
And no amount of jingoism or flag waving chauvinism is going to make any of these problems go away.

douglass said...

ok, Scannon,

I’ve taken macro 1101, too. The debt is closer to 43 trillion odd dollars, also, there is always growth in inferior goods and services when a recession comes (camel v. American spirit) (kia v. bmw), etc. that a savvy individual like you could catch on to and be prepared for if you just thought about it for a bit.

I'm not denying the existence of the PNAC.

In fact, I was the first one to use that term here, you said "radical neocons" and I connected the dots to read: Project for the new American Century.

The idea that the PNAC willfully misled the American people into a war IS a conspiracy theory that is UNsubstantiated.

But, I'll give you credit in the sense that this certain theory was 'pervasive' in the US intelligence community right after 9/11 (their version essentially said that 9/11 was a repeat of the Lavon affair).

There's nothing wrong with conspiracy theories, they just have to be substantiated before they can be taken seriously.

Also,

You said, "The whole idea of American imperialism is founded in their writings (the PNAC)"

WTF?

That is patently false.

America has been an imperial entity since the Monroe doctrine.

What exactly are you trying to prove by attempting to link America's imperial past with the PNAC?

Lew Scannon said...

Dollar doing okay?
The PNAC members dominated the Bush adminstration and it's members did willfully mislead the nation into a war with Iraq. They cherry picked intelligence to "fix" it around the notion of invading Iraq.
Dick Cheney, a PNAC signee, willfully lied about Iraq's aluminum tubes and attempted to use it as a rationale for invading Iraq, and that's only one example.Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, Feith and Richard Perle were all behind the drive to invade Iraq.
i don't know why you are citing the Monroe Doctrine as eveidence of American imperialism when it was used to prevent European colonialism in the "new world" (don't you really mean "manifest destiny"?)and was not meant to be used outside this hemisphere.

That Damned Jezebel said...

I thought I mentioned the radical neocons? And yes, of course I meant PNAC. And their supporters.
Douglass:
You are saying that imperialism has always been a feature of our society. I think somewhat, but that it is different. We used to have expansive domestic resources, even to the extent that land trusts were considered in welfare and wealth redistribution. But our consumption patterns have proven unsustainable.

What PNAC asserted was the strategy of specifically manipulating the resources of foreign sovereign nations toward the "material interests" of America. Their language, not mine. Where is the disagreement there? To acknowledge PNAC does not mean one buys into the entire conspiracy spectrum of which 9-11 was only one part. They did call for a "pearl harbor" but nobody reasonable has used THAT mention to hoist credence on a contrived 9-11 and that was NOT at all the point in mentioning PNAC.

The role of America as an imperialistic nation is debatable, but certainly there is little precedent of pre-emptive aggression in this respect.

There is a difference between a society that seeks to forge alliances and trade partnerships, and one of global supremacy not in collaboration, but at the expense of other economies.

Looking at your quote:
"Are you scared that you won't have cheap consumer goods made by quasi legal sweatshop laborers, that you won't be able to build your 5000 sq ft 'mcmanison' on the backs of the poor and beaten masses of the third world?"

This tells me that we are actually more on the same page than it appears. We are not condoning this or talking about the financial collapse, 'apocalypse' etc. because we are saying some toppling isn't perhaps deserved or in order. The point is to talk about policydecisions such as the recent tax breaks given the dismal projections.

Speaking just for me, I wonder about the impact of this 'come uppance' on certain situations where the US has actually been able to do some good. I wonder about Americans' ability to adapt to a lifestyle comparable to the more humble ways of our contemporaries.

Many of us here and elsewhere have said that our design is based on the backs of the global poor. There is no dispute there.

douglass said...

scannon,

Perhaps the Monroe doctrine was a poor example, but still it lay claim to territories OUTSIDE the US, and so was imperial.

The difference between manifest destiny and the Monroe doctrine is that the latter was an outline for government policy whereas the former was a piece of American cultural mythology that has accompanied American political mythology from it's very beginning through the 20th century with Wilson’s (if educated read: Bernay's) 'make the world safe for democracy' to Reagan's 'evil empire'.

If the Monroe doctrine doesn't suit your palate for an example of clear imperialism BEFORE the PNAC, how about American actions in Latin and south America during the 20th century in places like Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Chile and elsewhere?
Perhaps examples of American imperialism in Greece in the late 1940's or Iran in the early 1950's would be best.

My point to you, scannon, is that the Project for the New American Century is simply trying to preserve the terms of the OLD American century (the 20th).

I don't see how "The whole idea of American imperialism is founded in their writings"

Jezebel,

You said; "What PNAC asserted was the strategy of specifically manipulating the resources of foreign sovereign nations toward the "material interests" of America"

I'm saying that idea is NOT New

. For example, can you deny that the situation of the United Fruit Company influenced the decision to replace the democratically elected president of Guatemala (Arbenez) with the puppet Castillo Armas? or that the position of Anaconda copper influenced the decision to replace the democratically president of Chile Slavador Allende with the Junta of General Augusto Pinochet?

By asserting that the PNAC is somehow pushing our government towards policies that are unprecedented in their imperial nature, you are unfairly demonizing PNAC and the agenda of the PNAC.

Otherwise, I don't think there is much disagreement here.

That Damned Jezebel said...

Douglass,
I do not dispute what you have written. however, I do think that we have a tendency to view recent events a bit out of context, every generation tends to view their political climate as uniqie when often it is a continuation of what has been going on for many years. In this, I agree that this idea was certainly not "founded" with PNAC.

Doesn't mean we have to agree with their view of our role either, just because they are hardly the first bastards on the block. They are one of MANY groups we can point fingers at.

Just because we have a sordid history (most of us would admit to that) that does not- in my mind at least- detract from viewing the agenda of strategic and material protection as an imperialist design.

I can kick a kitten on Tuesday and by most accounts, that is wrong and misguided. it does not cease to be so because I did the same thing on Monday, and every day prior.

Things are what they are. Are we disagreeing about whether or not PNAC should be demonized? Blamed? Are we arguing about whether or not US foreign policy shifted toward "imperial" with Bush? Certainly it did not. But the use of pre-emptive versus subversive aggression in the name of "other" goals has both blatancy and deliberacy.

There are examples that certainly make your case, entry into Vietnam and the economic aspirations of post-war Europe and the promise of capitalism being one example.

The support of murderous disctators is another. The support of the world's worst human rights abusers...

My confusion comes in ascertaining where we part ways on this. OK-we have been chronically imperialistic both subversively and as a matter of formal policy. PNAC did not invent the demon that is empire. PNAC may or may not have laid a groundwork a the "Wolfowitz Doctrine" being executed by this administration. Any resemblance to that Doctrine could also be completely coincidental. I don't have the real answer to that. Seemingly, though, you do.

fosco said...

I don't understand why people argue about one quagmire by mentioning others. Why not discuss absurdity on its own merits and with its own circumstances.

Its like when people say "well Clinton did this, or that" as though that pertains. It doesn't, things should be looked at for what they are as all actions were in the context of that historical time period with its own circumstances.

What does South America have to do with whether or not the US had early plans, regardless of justification, to invade Iraq?

douglass said...

Fosco,

Right, but Jezebel was saying that the PNAC somehow initiated American Imperialism, and I thought that statement was bullocks, just like I thought your assertion that the illuminati control something was bullocks (unless you were kidding. If you were, lol)

I hope that now, you understand why people argue about such things.



Jezebel,

I'm saying that the PNAC should not be UNFAIRLY demonized.
Now, if they are up to something, please expose their crimes and their treason.

Just don't stoop to the level of the propagandist. No matter how just your cause is, don't play games with the facts.

That's how the bastards operate, by presenting things in light that shines well on them and their agenda, even though the light that shines in reality paints a different picture.

That Damned jezebel said...

I don't think I said that PNAC initiated American imperialism, I reference the memo that outlined the agenda and stated that in my view the pre-emptive military aggression, large scale, was unprecedented and was outlined in the memo which came to be known as the Wolfowitz doctrine.

Does that mean we have never been imperialistic? Or pseudo-imperialistic? no. You are also confusing me with Scannon on this as well. I did not even START by identifying PNAC, so obviously the desire to blanket-demonize for the hell of it was not the intent.

That Damned Jezebel said...

And the illuminati remark was a joke because she says everything is because of the illuminati, from gas prices to tuition hikes. We have almost as much fun laughing about conspiracies and propaganda as you probably do!

The challenge here is in the purist definition of imperial. Imperial in my view pertains to the use of coersion, fear, or aggression to control the resources of a free willed population for the gain of the person who benefits from 'empire'. Some could say that the Lousisiana purchase was "imperialistic" but it really was not. Domination, influence, puppet states, etc. can differ from the resource aspect. Unless of coruse you subscribe to the idea that it ALL comes down to resources. Where religion is concerned though, it does not. Would you describe the Crusades as imperialism?

Telling a country that under threat of military action, they will comply with something NOT SELF ORIGINATED that serves the interests of the country in power (ie British empire) is how I view it and the current oil situation.

douglass said...

Jezebel,

I formally apologize for confusing you with Scannon, and for stating something that sounded like an accusation of blanket demonizing. I know that is not your intention nor is it Scannons intention.

About Iraq, I see Bush's axis of evil as continuation of Clinton's dual containment policy.(which was a continuation of Bush I's policy)[fosco ;)]

I'm sure that 'operation desert fox' rings a bell.

For proof that Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II pursued basically the same approach to Iraq (one of attrition and containment), find a copy of Clinton’s 'dual containment' speech to the world Jewish congress in April 1995.

I triple dog dare you, (that damned Jezebel) to read it and compare it to the Wolfowitz doctrine.

That Damned Jezebel said...

I must admit I have not read it.

I will read it though. I make no claims to be an expert in foreign policy. And my intention is not to argue. I come to learn with my brain willing and my heart open. What else can I say? If "winning" is your objective, I give it to you because competition is a realm I have little interest in.

fosco said...

My intention is to argue. Muthafuckers!!

douglass said...

Aww, Jezebel,

I have tried to be gentle with you.

I can sound argumentative at times, but my intention is to find out something new by challenging other's viewpoints and in turn having my viewpoints challenged.

I promise that I'm not mean-spirited,[except towards Fosco ;)]

Really, just I’m trying to eliminate my ideological blind spots by discussing issues with people who hold Ideologies I disagree with.

jezebel said...

I think it is mean spirited to make assumptions about ideologies based on what little you know in this comment thread. If ever there was a blind spot, that would be the basis of it!

Because a person makes one or two statements about the role of the US- that means you know their ideology?

What if I wasn't even American? What do you know about my background?

Far more dangerous than any mean spirited behavior is a person who assumes, generalizes, characterizes.

Know why? Its the lazy way and it helps you conclude about "other" based on little tid bits. "Hates Bush, suspicious of PNAC, writes with liberals, has a blog, clearly likes Pippi Longstocking known to be a feminist icon in Europe....hmmmm! I have you all figured out!

**Those** are blind spots. How do you know what we disagree on really? Semantics? The history of imperialism as defined by you? If you truly wanted to eliminate blind spots you would see that people hardly behave based on ideology so its practical use is flawed and without utility!

Do Republicans practice their ideology? Are they really small government? Are they really fiscally conservative? Explain the sense of putting people into boxes and debating these hypotheticals. They have nothing to do with what is going on really.

I have hated hippies and loved Republicans. I have been both frivolous and practical. I have been right and I have been wrong. I have turned to church and I have been convinced there is nothing for me there. So? We show a snapshot of ourselves at a point in our evolution. Nothing more.

My concern is that I work toward learning, to make up my own mind and not seek out ways to "improve my game" like war and life are a sport. Like posterity and stewardship and a desire to see our children prosper- like those are ideologies to bicker about.

Go sharpen your claws on your own posts. I am not your tool.

You are mean spirited.

Lily said...

Being gentle is a word that men use to reinforce their beleif that women are weak and require "mental coddling".

You sure sound like somebody I know.

Gentle. Now I'm not making assumptions here, but what makes you think gentle is in order? Why not deal bring it on, so to speak?

Or do women have no need to reduce their blind spots, only men? We cannot benefit from direct talk?

douglass said...

Jezebel,

Fair enough.

That was not my intention.

I know from experience how irritating such assumptions can be.

I never claimed to have 'figured you out'

I wasn't even trying to.

I know that assumptions are most always incorrect, they lack enough data to be meaningful.

But they serve the purpose of being the hypothesis to the thesis you derive from sufficient data.

How else could we learn?

By ideology, i meant a person's political views whatever they may be, not a label or an ism, of course all ideologies have groupings and subgroupings and sub-sub-groupings that are just categorical, serve no practical purpose.

All I know is that at one point I was a republican, but now I am apolitical, so, I know more about the flaws of democratic policy than I do about republican policy.

I introduced the speech to you no to use you, but to see if we could find some common pattern in government policy towards the ME region, because I assumed that you liked the democrats more than the republicans, and consequently would know more about the intricacies of the negative side of republican policy.

I did come at you from a mean angle when talking about the PNAC, but I did so because I had misread you statement in it's real context, I thought you had made the ridiculous assertion that the PNAC started American imperialism. I now see that you were saying that the PNAC has drawn the outline for the CURRENT stage of American Imperialism, and I agree with that.

You are nobody's tool.

Branford, women are usually stronger than men in the category of mental stress.

When I used the word 'gentle', I was being sarcastic, because Jezebel thought I was being argumentative, because I made a mistake and read her statement about imperialism out of context, and responded to it out of context. in short I was being a jackass who didn't get what jezebel said, but out of ignorance, not malice.

Also, I am being real with ya’ll, I thought the point of these comment pages is to use conversation to find a deeper meaning in the post.

Here, I proposed looking at the policies of the Bushes and Clinton, towards Iraq, to see how that lined up with American economic goals, or not. If people were interested in such a comparison, we could find a deeper meaning, just as we could do the same (probably better) If you or anyone else had a constructive idea..

If we found something, you, and everyone else participating would learn as much as I would.

If we didn't, at least we didn’t resort to arguing over details and what way is best.

Lily said...

Douglass,
The gentle remark just sounded condescending. Moving on...
How presumptuous when anyone claims to know what is best! Nobody learns anything from extreme positions. We cannot know what is best, only what is practical based on universal, observable facts.I cannot say that my arrogance has never reared its head, but when it does I try to see it as a symptom of an unwanted pathology.

Arrogance closes the mind's eye.

Yes, the purpose here is to comment/discuss. But it is very difficult to do that when anyone feels miscategorized. The energy is expended on defending and reframing the mischaracterization instead of on the issue. That is a major failing in so called "discussion" and unless mitigated renders the dialogue insalvageable.

It is also very difficult when there are assumptions made before a person has even written a word. That has happened on many sides here in this thread.But your comments are appreciated for their value- the point is not to spar. The point is to hear. In earnest. When that breaks down little is gained.

Oddly enough, it does sound like we both engage in this obnoxious process for the same reasons. But when properly engaged neither side must necessarily become obnoxious. Perhaps we both see the importance of some parameters. One being that assumption be shelved in favor of careful reflection on what is said verses the imagined subtext.

It has taken me a long time to get to a point where I think about things apolitically to the extent that is even possible. There are things that are troublesome to me about all sides, and both extremes, and I do not actually think either extreme represents my thinking on many issues.

I do not believe elected officials are the instrument of my beliefs. I think they are elected to function as operatives on the public's behalf toward societal interests. I do not think that includes imposing values that do not pertain beyond my person. I do not think that extends to forcing people to subscribe to imposed views about others. I do not think one can effectively,rationally legislate real equity, real autonomy, real freedom, real love, real empathy, real compassion, real respect, real tolerance, or real peace. Just like I do not think we can really "fight" terror. We can only seek to assuage,eradicate,transform, or defend. You cannot fight invisible things. You can address discrimination by asserting equal rights and access but you cannot legislate racism out of people's heads. Only when everyone has their individual rights protected, and this often seems contrary to a liberal view which would often seek to undermine the rights of one to advance the rights of another. Same with the religious right.

And at times I wonder how much we should try. Government is not the collective mind, charged with outlining everything down to our values, priorities, and thoughts. On this I differ from both liberals and conservatives. But it is not exactly centrist. Therein lies the label problem.

Many of us here at this blog do not fit very well into our own boxes, nevermind those of others.

douglass said...

Branford,

I, too have a problem with such labels. After all, they are LABELS.

But, I find that sometimes what we call an assumption or a stereotype is just a schema we don't like.

For example, to many communists, I am a capitalist pig.

Now, I don't think that I am a capitalist pig, so I am irritated with that label, I think it is a ‘stereotype’ I don’t fit into.

I'll restate that such labels and schemas serve the purpose of scaffolding, something to be discarded once enough data is presented.

I find it best to assume such assumptions are false, off the bat, so I agree with your above post.

But, I sounded like a condescending asshole when replying to Jezebel. That was my bad.

I agree that arrogance closes the mind's eye, but I would go a step further to say that arrogance shuts down the other senses.

Lily said...

It is frustrating because I think that many of us never make it past the venom to find areas of agreement. Especially when we know people in real life.

I originally looked to the blogosphere as a way to avoid labels and learn based on words alone...ha! Alas, it very much echoes the real world. People seem to cluster and soon the mind adjusts and simply fills in the blanks of what is unknown.

I do not see the real battle between communists and capitalists as much as indivualists versus collectivists and the matter of rights. My primary questions do not concern the parties or the lables, but the role of government and the role of the individual. If you think people are flawed and prone to taking advantage, then a collective societal model would not work, and you would be called a capitalist pig by the commies. If you think nature is such that people respond negatively to society as a product of being wronged by it, you might say that a collective model eradicates the evil part of competition and renders the benefits irrelevant and would then be a dirty commie. I am an individualist who sees financial benefit in the practical metered use of societal empathy. I do not think karma,heaven, or the fear of returning to earth as a deer tick should influence what is a 'good' nor do I think we should just categorically redistribute resources to equalize all people.

Please explain what makes you a capitalist pig so I know if I should shun you outright! Or perhaps I should anyway. Mean Spirit.

douglass said...

Comrade Branford!!

I live in America, so by default I am a capitalist (add your favorite American crime here) pig who is swine and an enemy of the people ;)

It’s interesting that you see the real battle as one between individualists and collectivists.
Leagues of evidence back that assertion, so I will concede that your idea is at a minimum, valid.

(I don’t claim to know what the ‘real battle’ is, although I would guess that it was either those who had the privilege to create fictional capital, charge usury on that scrip, then benefit off the surplus value VS. everyone else, the it’s the technological-industrial society VS. all people (the second is heavily influenced by the work of Jacques Ellul) or it is just all people VS their own stupidity.

Often times partisans will try to take control of a dispute by altering the vocabulary, that's one reason why 'red-blooded American' can be a synonym of 'u.s. imperialist leech'.

There are two segments to each phrase, a description of a behavior, and then a moral judgment of that behavior.

So basically, words are tossed around to accommodate ideological or political viewpoints, the common variable being the need to justify and rationalize one's view.

"I am an individualist who sees financial benefit in the practical metered use of societal empathy."

Interesting.

I am just some dude who tends to look at political solutions under the lens of milieu, setting and context.

I’ll use the concept of political libertarianism as an example of how my mean spirited mind would go about judging the appropriateness of libertarianism.

Here:

In Europe during the enlightenment, there was a 'public sphere' (Habermas) that allowed libertarian principals to thrive.

But today in the US, libertarianism is but a fantasy, for the setting of a technologically advanced industrial society demands supervision and regulation on all levels as to maintain efficiency.

when you said " I think that many of us never make it past the venom to find areas of agreement."

That's dead on the money.

But,it's not out of malice, it's because the brain is complex.

Lily said...

Well much to chew on there.

I could take a bite out of Libertarianism though to start. Libertarians are willing to pay a higher cost for "freedom" than I am willing to pay, but I know I do not speak for everyone. Libertarians often do not have answers for larger scale problems and often sound more like objectivists. Libertarians often present a view of social programming that can be linked to secularism. Where government ceases to fill social needs, the second largest institution will be prevailed upon to fill the void and that is often religion, which paradoxically fosters a society that is farther away from individualism and rights. My government does not ask for my faith when it provides charity. My government does not restrict my right to autonomy, to seek out options, to advance my interests. Real rights based "liberties" cannot be tied to faith based social systems. They are incompatible. They harm both the spiritual and the atheist alike.

It comes down to the idea that in American history we have worked through four models of social welfare- a serf-lord type (sharecroppers, slaves, orphan trains)religious-based charity, institutionalization, and the welfare state with community based relief. Only the present system seems to lend itself to the preservation of individual rights. Sharecroppers were beholden to an owner, slaves to a master, the poor to a religion, the institutionalized were stripped of their rights to separate them... so this is the dilemma of the libertarian view of social welfare. What model? It is inefficient to ignore social needs. It is inefficient to provide for them without limits to preserve the integrity of the pseudo-capitalist system. We are not practitioners of capitalism as it stands now.
I'm wondering how the libertarian view reconciles social demands without infusing its structure with religion.

Lily said...

Douglass,
Do I know you from somewhere? There are things that sound familiar. Just curious.

douglass said...

Elizabeth, I don’t think I have met you before, so try to be specific, my memory might be jogged.

I tried to answer your questions and your post was pithy, so forgive me if I skipped something. Also, I am writing with the context of the continental United States in mind.

Branford 1) Libertarians are willing to pay a higher cost for "freedom" than I am willing to pay, but I know I do not speak for everyone

D: Yes, but the libertarian view of ‘freedom’ is one that is individualistic in nature, and based on what the government is NOT going to do (tax over roughly 15%, stay out of moral legislation ,etc) , rather than what it IS doing to do(provide basic health and human services, education, etc) . Often the libertarian schema of freedom attracts those with a self-reliant personality.

Branford 2) "Libertarians often do not have answers for larger scale problems and often sound more like objectivists"

D; If you mean the objectivism of Rand, yes but yet again the similarity is in a social Darwinist outlook rationalized through the notion of ruggedness and self-reliance.
This is not new. See here: “"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace..... May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." -- Samuel Adams”

Branford 3)"Libertarians often present a view of social programming that can be linked to secularism."

D; If you mean that they do not give proper quarter to the influence of religion, perhaps, although I would note that their economic fantasies are far more dangerous (thinking that a newly weakened federal Government wouldn’t fold to K street faster than a drunk frat boy with ‘daddys’ credit card stumbles into a Belarussian whorehouse.)

Branford 4)"Where government ceases to fill social needs, the second largest institution will be prevailed upon to fill the void and that is often religion, which paradoxically fosters a society that is farther away from individualism and rights. My government does not ask for my faith when it provides charity. My government does not restrict my right to autonomy, to seek out options, to advance my interests. Real rights based "liberties" cannot be tied to faith based social systems. They are incompatible. They harm both the spiritual and the atheist alike."

D: Right, but again, the little discussed dark side of the libertarian outlook boils down to that if you can’t fend for yourself, you are dead weight, you should not force the other members of society to slow down by paying more taxes, or accommodating legislation designed to protect the public from dumbasses, weaklings and crazies. (seat-belts, Medicare, welfare, gun control, etc)

Branford 5)"It comes down to the idea that in American history we have worked through four models of social welfare- a serf-lord type (sharecroppers, slaves, orphan trains)religious-based charity, institutionalization, and the welfare state with community based relief. Only the present system seems to lend itself to the preservation of individual rights. Sharecroppers were beholden to an owner, slaves to a master, the poor to a religion, the institutionalized were stripped of their rights to separate them... so this is the dilemma of the libertarian view of social welfare. What model? It is inefficient to ignore social needs. It is inefficient to provide for them without limits to preserve the integrity of the pseudo-capitalist system. We are not practitioners of capitalism as it stands now.
I'm wondering how the libertarian view reconciles social demands without infusing its structure with religion."

D : most libertarians are fierce in their literalist interpretation of the constitution, they are pro-choice, and would not allow the church to pass moral legislation. Separation of church and state is maintained in the libertarian society. The libertarians note that churchgoing is a voluntary activity that government has no business snooping with, but again, they do NOT consider a voluntary activity, where the members of the group have roles in planning and leadership to be a nefarious force, whereas they consider organizations that DEMAND participation, and in which the members have no influence over the activities of that organization to be nefarious (anything made CUMPOLSORY by the state under the pain of fines and or imprisonment such as drivers licenses, taxes for social welfare and primary education)

Again, I would note that the biggest problem with the libertarian outlook is not their discounting of religion, but their concept of the national government. It is clearly unrealistic in light of the power of multinational conglomerates and firms. (Imagine the havoc Exxon-Mobil’s Lobbyists could create inside a newly elected libertarian administration)

Elizabeth Branford said...

I do appreciate your thoughtful answers. I did not mean for my comment to be "pithy". And today I am somewhat short on time. Your questions also speak to the real gist of my inner dilemmas where rights and liberalism are concerned. While I have read different views, I am not settled. Not at all.

I find this format to be difficult at times because it really requires me to distill voluminous thoughts into smaller pieces, not my strong suit!!! bear with me!

I want to return to the idea of dead social weight, and the notion of social darwinism and "crazies" etc. You mentioned seatbelts, for example.

This takes us toward compulsory-morality thinking. Does the "law" have the right to force such a behavior on a parent, and on what basis? We can say that it violates parental autonomy to require a seatbelt and yet we would not permit pedophilia or abuse- for example. Would we? Yet they are linked by the same notion of societal "values" and norms. The codified belief of a majority as to what is "proper" or "good". The right of the child to life over the right of the driver of the car to impose stupidity. Some say this is a part of the pro-life rationale, that there is precedent for a spectrum of vulnerability. When rights compete, the most vulnerable should win.

We cannot escape them,these 'external values" that beset the individual... rooted as they may be in social and cultural context. We might all agree that seatbelts, to use your example, are "good". But some are suggesting that this is a way to keep the offspring of crazies alive, thus perpetuating a society that enables further increases in crazies, inherently inefficient for a society. If that makes sense. Tad bit nazi, no?

Rugged people of course tend toward the minimalist side with fewer social "crutches". But there will always be people that are not able to contribute toward their own care (in previous history often categorized as the deserving poor-the blind, the retarded, orphans, etc.) Such people even in a totally "emotion-free" model would command societal costs no matter what matter of coping is employed. There is a case to be made to care for them in tandem with individualism and ruggedness!

That points to the idea that one cannot really legislate values, can we? One cannot take a "logical" cost-benefit view on laws that are designed solely to protect people vulnerable to the stupidity or craziness of others. These seem to come from a higher sense of individual self and place in society.

Where they do not, punitive law provides the remedy. In other words, we would hope that all people would have the sense independent of the law to use seat belts and handle guns safely, but acknowledging that they do not, the right of the individual to safety and LIFE is asserted and thereby trumps the right to behave in ways that harm others.

Where others are not harmed- though- I would agree that law has little to offer. Its a harm versus rights issue. Right to hurt versus right to be protected from being hurt. We often legislate on the side of the potential victim.

Government role in curbing rights should fall within the realm of where my actions harm another, and have little place regarding actions that concern me alone. I can therefore drink poison but not poison another. Etc Etc.

douglass said...

Well, I'll try to keep it concise.

In terms of society and it’s proper function, Libertarians place value in incentive, and bitterly hate coercion.

Economically, they note that ok, although civilization produces all this great technology and wealth, but, the most vulnerable members of our society still get left out, but, that is OK because they couldn't cut it, and should be cared for by their family or some other organic group(unrealistic, but makes sense in light of their views against on the role of government as a caretaker)

The libertarians hate being pushed around by a power wielding group (gub'mint most of the time)trying to point guns at them and scare them with being locked in a scary box, or being fined, or having their status reduced for anything that is mala prohibita (bad because they say it is)they are for legislating and enforcing laws and norms against mala in se (inherently bad) things (violation of another’s life liberty or property).

They see that 1. Leaders are often not good people, these leaders need to be controlled by the people.

2. You cannot just redistribute from the pie to the pauper without reducing the incentive for building the pie, thus reducing what you have to redistribute. These libertarians often say that 'socialists' tend to do that, (reduce the size of the pie by reducing incentive via coercive measures) until everyone is in poverty but the elite, who are of course not savory characters by that time (i.e. Stalin), and will use all of those 'safety' measures (gun control) to enslave the people (i.e. north Korea).

Lily said...

Yes, I see the same conclusions and wish I could be as concise! You are my new hero. :) The value added feature was that you pre-emptively covered my concerns about socialism.

I suppose I ramble around certain things that I do not want to admit to. What follows logically from certain admissions- are often not in keeping with what I think is my stubbornly settled mindset.

I think I have to think on this a bit more.

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