Posts Tagged ‘economic advantage’

On Campaigns and Society

May 7, 2015

As of this writing (May 7th, 2015), there are at least six ‘declared Republican candidates’ for president. Six more are hinting strongly that they’ll run while they accumulate the milllions it will take to campaign for the party’s nomination. To do that, they’re attempting to find something, anything, that will separate them from the rest in the clown car. Funny suits, big noses, huge shoes won’t do it; this time, it’s not how they look but what they say.
Believe it or not, those buffoons represent a slice of the modern TeaPublican Party. Because they appeal to the few, they believe they can parlay that into an appeal to the many.

But they will end up driving each other farther to the right, to the portion of the electorate where the lunatic fringe lives. Where people think that if only people prayed more, that would solve all the world’s problems. Apparently they haven’t noticed how often Muslims pray.
They end up where the NRA lives, never noticing that the NRA propaganda hasn’t done anything to rein in government; instead, the guns kill thousands of ordinary citizens, many of them children. Not one ‘dictator’ trying to take over the country has been held back. You’d think someone would notice, but the propaganda is never ending. The tree of liberty has not been watered by the blood of patriots and tyrants, it’s grown stunted by being overwatered by the blood of children and citizens.
The no-tax fools are realizing that as government shrinks, as there’s less money in the system, somehow the potholes don’t get fixed. Bridges are collapsing. Some wonder why. Eventually, others will too. Whether they’ll wonder in time for the election I don’t know.
But the party of low spending has no qualms about using public money for political purposes. After all, they’ve spent millions trying to deny affordable health care for ordinary citizens. Fifty plus votes, last I heard. They’ve spent more on repeated investigations into Hillary Clinton. So far, nothing has been found. How much have the manufactured ‘crises’ cost the government?
More money will be spent on defense, too. Not to pay soldiers, not even to care for the injured and shocked, but for hugely-expensive weapons systems. That will, somehow, be spent in districts that elect powerful politicians. Ahh, pork…more public money used to help elect a critter.
So what are the issues? Other than that virtually all of them have been told by God that he should run. God’s being indecisive, I suppose.
Wouldn’t you love to see Ted Cruz debate Mike Huckabee on the role of religion in government?
Freedom, or what Republicans call freedom, is an issue.
Railroads are ‘free’ to haul dangerous cargoes. Periodically they blow up, but at least they blow up free.
Factories too are free of regulations. Guess what? They blow up too. But hey, regulation cuts into profits. And corporations need to be free to make as much as possible.
That TeaPublican fringe curses the EPA because it limits ‘freedom’. Even so, corporation are still free to pollute, to strip the top off mountains, to dump coal ash in streams, to leak oil from pipelines into rivers and streams, to create a mess that the federal government can’t control and won’t have the money to clean up.
And after the clowns drive the car as far to the right as possible, the eventual winner will try to crab back to the center. Dragging all that campaign baggage with him.
I don’t see much chance that a Republican can be elected. Even if one is, haven’t we seen how ineffective they’ve proven themselves to be at governing? At least so far, there’s a slight amount of control.
But the corruption is getting worse. The preachers and priests are gathering, waiting to have more say in American society. The manufacturers of military goods are smiling, waiting for more money for ever-more expensive systems they can sell to the Defense Department.
Have you noticed how similar we’ve become to the Middle Eastern nations we’ve been fighting?
We’ve separated into ‘tribes’ based on religious fundamentalism. On color. On ethnicity. On gender and sexual orientation. Corruption, always present, has become endemic. Schools are failing, education is a way for banks to exploit the young, the social safety net is tattered, little by little we’ve been reduced to a third-world nation. Maybe that’s what people are looking for.
Personally, I don’t want to live in Americanistan.
How about you?


On Economic Cycles

August 19, 2011

I posted this to Larry Elliott of the Manchester Guardian. The original essay referred to was posted in the Politics Forum of the International Mensa Forums.

I have recently been posting similar things to those you write about to the International Mensa Forums. I take the points you’ve made farther and in a slightly different direction.

I have argued that the venality of financial agents and the seeking after advantage of virtually everyone, individuals to corporations to nations, is similar. The effect is to create imbalance. Trade imbalance comes first, followed by imbalance in the form of debt. And I further argue that imbalance cannot be sustained indefinitely. Adjustment of currency standards was a way of doing this, but with the formation of the European Union this tool was taken away from nations; only the ECB still maintains a floating balance against the dollar. The US can’t really adjust the value of the dollar, because the US dollar is the standard. Asian nations can do it, and do, in order to favor exports over imports. The ECB also tries to keep the euro competitive against the dollar so that exports are favored over imports of US goods.

Money, in the form of dollars or euros or yuan, currency or electronic credit, is not worth anything except in the nation(s) that originated it. Those credits cannot be maintained indefinitely, because inevitably they become worth less over time. I model the modern world economy as a series of cycles within a larger cycle, in which nations rise economically and fall. Eventually the cycles achieve balance through a number of mechanisms.

One of these is the necessity to maintain liquidity in whatever monetary standard is in use. Think of the world economy as a board game in which tokens flow from one side of the board to the other. If one player gains most of the tokens, then the game must end; but in economics, demand for liquidity to keep trade going creates pressure to make more ‘credits’ available. So more dollars and euros and yen are created and fed into trade. The credits that were hoarded on one side of the board are now a smaller fraction of the whole. Their value lessens.

Dollars can be exchanged for other currencies, of course, but inevitably they come back to the US. At one time this largest economy was strong enough to provide a ‘sink’ where the world’s business could be absorbed. But this is no longer the case. That strong economy was based on manufacturing and trade, and now there is little of either. ‘Trade’ is now ‘sales’ on the part of foeigners; the US GDP and GNP are almost identical. Dollars flow out, very little comes in. The US is no longer a nation of manufacturers, it’s a nation of service workers, surviving by doing each other’s laundry. No longer sustainable as the world’s center of exchange, in other words.

Dollars can be used to exchange for other currencies and for purchasing American goods. They can also be used to invest in either T-bills or similar, or to purchase shares of stock in corporations or to invest in businesses. There’s a limit to this, however. When investment becomes too great, governments step in to protect their national interests. In any case, investment only creates more dollars which, again, must be funneled into the US. Nationalization of industries and economic default are two of the catastrophic ways in which cycles adjust to balance.

The only indefinite mechanism to prolong economic activity is by means of balanced trade. This is where that search for advantage comes in. There is no mechanism I know of to balance trade except to wait for the cycles to play out. In the end, nations and empires rise and inevitably fall, balancing the cycles in this way. Should the US ‘fall’ in the near future, economic imbalance, financial chaos, would result. The yuan or euro would replace the dollar, and so all those dollar ‘counters’ so amassed would become virtually useless. Balance is restored, but now with the European union or, more likely, China on top of the financial heap. To prevent this, advantage must be seen as imbalance, and balance short of catastrophe must be sought. But neither individuals nor nations will willingly forgo advantage, and so I expect the cycles to continue to their conclusion.

Jack Knapp