The High Board

Many of you will remember the first time you went up to the high board and looked down at the pool from more than twelve feet up. It was terrifying. I actually took a few trips up there before I took the plunge. Economics and its intersection with history provides similar terrors.

Stephen Daugherty writes an interesting article on a comparison of the "spice" of Frank Herbert's Dune novels and our modern, similarly addictive, oil. In a comment to the same article ohrealy confirms Daugherty's point that spice, oil, and even the largely Arabic terms in Dune were purposefully connected. In the economy of Dune as in our oil economy this key ingredient is the talisman of the world order, and a vital addiction. Overcoming that addiction frees the world to new paths. The "High Board" of our title is met in taking on the challenge of real, radical, change in the face of just such addicting objects.

In the previous three national cataclysms the people of this country were forced into facing the challenge of making a break with systemic addictions like that we now have with oil. The first was in breaking with England and the age-old governing tradition of monarchy. The second was in overcoming the nation's addiction to the use of slaves as a form of capital which formed a substantial percentage of the market capitalization for banking purposes, not merely of the Old South, but of the nation as a whole. The third was a revolution in economic foundations from a largely agrarian/rural/subsistence economy to a largely industrial/urban/consumerist economy. In each case the vast majority of people could not see the way from one world to the next, if they could imagine the next world at all. In each case a great war threw the old world into shambles and made it untenable. In each case visionaries had attempted to give an indication of the shape of the world to come prior to the great upheaval.

We are in such times as those today. It is possible, but not probable, we can make the coming transition without a worldwide conflagration. Oil is, indeed, our "spice" and addictions are seldom broken without a painful withdrawal.

Why do I break with conservative convention on oil? Because liberty is a higher principle than prosperity, and as long as we are addicted to anything we must depend on others to provide we are not free. It is time to free ourselves from addiction, to take the fearful plunge from the comfort of a high platform.

Live free, or die.

Posted by Lee Emmerich Jamison at November 27, 2008 9:34 AM
Comment #271045

That’s all we were saying over on the blue side. The world WILL eventually use up this non-renewable resource. The last truly forward looking presidential candidate, Al Gore, was laughed off the stage by the yoohoos who voted in W and Cheney… OIL MEN. We sowed the wind and now we must…

Never mind… how about this time around we actually PLAN FOR THE FUTURE!!???? Can we not find people who can look down the road fifty years? Twenty-five years? Heck, ten years?

Glad to have you aboard, Lee. We may differ in the route we’ll choose to get there, but we will all need to have a similar goal. Better late than never.

Posted by: LibRick at November 27, 2008 9:56 AM
Comment #271046

Yours is a curious attitude to the world Lee. You say that as long as we are dependent on others to provide anything, we are not free. No man is an island. Nor can any man provide all that he requires or needs for himself, and indeed, even if he could, it would be very poor economics.

We live in neither a dependent nor an independent world, but in an interdependent one. We achieve incalculably more through working together than through working alone. If we work together for the common good, we can create a civilised society. If we work only for our own good, we find only conflict and degradation. It’s a bit like what the financial community have so successfully achieved these recent times; carnage. Carnage caused by unrestricted greed and venality, through self serving strategies that could only have resulted in the carnage that they indeed have caused. Aided immensely by their co conspirators in government. Indeed, these same co conspirators are now plundering the public trough to bail out their partners in crime.

As to oil independence, well, as long as we have it, what is the problem is having it supplied by someone else? It is no good to the supplier unless they sell it. It’s just like any other product; they can only benefit from selling it. In fact, it seems to me that the only party seeking to use oil for hegemonic purposes is the US, to ensure that it can control China for example, it must control mid east oil. The short name for that is imperialism, and that has a pretty poor history over all. Indeed, rational people recognise that imperialism is over as no longer viable. May as well bring your legions home from their imperial campaigns, seeing as how they are such loss making enterprises.

If we work together with mutual respect, we can truly create a dignified and equitable world. But we would have to put aside selfishness first.

Posted by: Paul in Euroland at November 27, 2008 11:30 AM
Comment #271048

Paul in Euroland writes; “May as well bring your legions home from their imperial campaigns, seeing as how they are such loss making enterprises.”

What a strange statement from someone living free under the American umbrella of military strength. I agree we should withdraw American troops from Europe, Japan and many other places around the globe. My understanding is that we will soon be withdrawing troops in substantial numbers from Iraq under both the Bush administration pronouncements and apparent agreement by the incoming Obama bunch. Increased or decreased American forces in Afganistan…well, that will be up to the Obamaites and does anyone really know what he will do there?

I would ask Paul how he feels about an absent American military presence in his part of the world with the increasing semi-hostile acts of Putin’s Russia?

Posted by: Jim M at November 27, 2008 12:48 PM
Comment #271051

Back on thread…Lee, we finally have something to agree on…well…at least talk like we agree. For the folks who believe we can’t wean ourselves off oil without huge withdrawal symptoms, I say, we don’t have to quit USING oil, we just have to quit using our resources to further its use.

As we generate new energy products and methods, we will gradually wean ourselves off it without even realizing it is no longer required. Until then, there is enough oil currently being produced to sustain our needs. However, we cannot lolligag, or all will be lost…we must get ‘crackin’ on the new stuff, starting now.

Posted by: Marysdude at November 27, 2008 2:01 PM
Comment #271056

Jim, the Russians do not want military tension or cold war. They want partnership. Putin has repeatedly said so. Instead, Nato, an alliance supposedly set up to defend against the Soviet Union, which incidentally dismembered itself almost 20 years ago, has, contrary to assurance given by GHWB not to do so, advanced itself across central Europe to the gates of Russia. Additionally, your country proposes to set up ABM systems, again on Russia’s borders.

Military experts and theoreticians agree that the only logic for such systems in this situation is to make a first strike by the US survivable. According to the doctrine of compellance, if you can eliminate most of your opponents potential reply to a first strike, and then mop up the surviving missiles, you are then in a position to compel your opponent to do whatever you demand. Therein lies the interest in placing these systems in Poland and the Czech republic, and therein lies Putin/Medvedev’s virulent resistance to it.

The reality is, as supported by international surveys, is that the US, along with Israel, are regarded as the greatest threats to international peace. I know that most Americans will think that is ridiculous, by that’s how you guys are perceived by the rest of the world. We don’t need defending from Russia. Russia is interested in fostering good working relations with all. They cannot afford and do not want massive wasteful expenditure on weapons. And let’s remember, it’s the US that is spending at least as much on weapons as the rest of the world combined? What’s that about?

Posted by: Paul in Euroland at November 27, 2008 3:03 PM
Comment #271060

“We don’t need defending from Russia. Russia is interested in fostering good working relations with all. They cannot afford and do not want massive wasteful expenditure on weapons. And let’s remember, it’s the US that is spending at least as much on weapons as the rest of the world combined? What’s that about?”
Posted by: Paul in Euroland at November 27, 2008 03:03 PM

Glad to hear that it’s OK with Paul and Europe for the U.S. military to withdraw our protective umbrella which has helped keep the peace for over 40 years. Good luck to my friends in England and Italy. I am sure no one in Europe believes Russia will use its gas, oil and fast increasing naval forces to squeeze out compliance with its wishes for domination.

While Paul relies upon the word and public pronouncements of Mr. Putin we will remain very leary of his ambitions for Europe and Central and South America.

Posted by: Jim M at November 27, 2008 3:27 PM
Comment #271067




I…CAN’T…agree…with that arch-villain-conservative Lee Jamison!


But…he said…something that, I can’t believe it, something that made sense, something that was RIGHT!

Must be some EVIL PLOT. Maybe…maybe it was Darth Karl with some underhanded plot. Can’t be Darth Sarah - she’s not that clever. Maybe it was even Darth Dick and his lapdog Dubya! Maybe this is part of some incredibly devious scheme to trick us, to pull us towards the Dark Side…to make us see the world through crude-colored glasses….

But Lee was RIGHT!

And I must agree with what is RIGHT! I have no choice….

LEE! I AGREE with you!

Oh, no…I hope Obi-Wan Hillary understands….

Posted by: Glenn Contrarian at November 27, 2008 5:41 PM
Comment #271068

Jim, while the US outspends the rest of the world on weapons, threats and war making, we will remain leery of its claims to be interested in democracy and being the shining city on a hill. There is no question that the US provided a protective umbrella to Europe though the cold war. That war is over nearly 20 years. Instead of making peace and friendship with Russia, the US and its Harvard and Wall Street hyenas,plundered Russia’s patrimony in league with the oligarchs, while Yeltsin looked on from the bottom of a bottle.
Russia had massive debts arising from this period, its people were impoverished and humiliated. Putin has turned that situation around, paying off the country’s debts and rebuilding hope and pride in Russia for the average Russian. He has taken charge of the country’s assets, some of which were on the verge of being sold to the Rothschilds by Mikael Khodorkovsky, who is now doing a big stretch in Siberia. Time was when gangsters in the US, no matter how high, did the perp walk. Now, they just stroll around the beltway and Wall Street unmolested. Which is why we are where we are now. American oligarchs seem to get a better deal than Russian ones. And the best part is, they are lionised in the States. Who knew?

Posted by: Paul in Euroland at November 27, 2008 5:54 PM
Comment #271069

Paul -

I agree with most of what you said - including the bit about America currently being the biggest threat to world peace. But I do question Putin’s motives. IMO Putin, like most of the Old Guard of the Soviet Union, look back to their days of glory, of unquestioned power within their sphere of influence.


Power, once tasted, is incredibly addictive. Abraham Lincoln said it best: “Nearly all men can stand the test of adversity, but if you really want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

Whatever the Russian government may say about what Russia’s government wants, it is better to remember an observation by Winston Churchill: “I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest.”

I don’t trust Putin…but I don’t totally dislike him, either. He’s helped Russia back to being a rather orderly society - and that is a valuable accomplishment in and of itself.

But what is in Russia’s national interest? More importantly, what does PUTIN truly believe is in Russia’s national interest? Perhaps he’s figured out that striving for economic hegemony (e.g. China) is the better way to expand Russia’s sphere of influence…or that it’s the only way the Bear can compete with the Dragon to the south short of armed conflict.

I think the best indicator of Russia’s trustworthiness is what happened in Estonia in 2007. Keep that in mind when dealing with the Bear….

Posted by: Glenn Contrarian at November 27, 2008 5:57 PM
Comment #271072

Glenn, we don’t know who specifically was behind those attacks in Estonia. What we do know is that Russia lost approximately 20,000,000 people in what they call “The Great Patriotic War”. Rightly or wrongly, there are still many Russians settled in the Baltics. There is tension between them and the ethnic Balts. When memorials to the great patriotic war are being messed about with, tempers can run high. That is not to excuse it, but imagine if the French were dissing the US and British graves in Normandy and taking down memorials to those who gave their lives. I imagine that feelings would boil over in the US and Britain too, and might well have even more dramatic consequences diplomatically for France.

Putin is a Russian Nationalist patriot. Don’t be sidelined by the fact that he came up through the KGB. If you read Brzezinski’s book, “The Grand Chess Board: American Primacy And Its Geostrategic Imperatives”, you will see why Russia is concerned, and why China and Russia have formed the Shanghai Co Operation Organisation. Brzezinski’s thesis is for the US to control all of of Eurasia. He says, whoever controls Eurasia, controls the world. I’m not aware of any Russian, or indeed Chinese ideologue plotting how to take control of the Americas or surround the US with their allied bases.

Of course we also had the situation in August when Russia was accused of invading Georgia by the US and defamed by all of your leading politicians. Now in my part of the world, it was initially reported that Georgia had attacked South Ossetia, some 48 hours before the Russians came through the Roki tunnel to repulse the Georgians. Even in Canada there is a media that seeks to publish the truth;

As to Putin acting in Russia’s national interest? Isn’t that what historically nations have always done? Indeed, it has long been a truism of diplomacy that nations don’t have friends, they have interests. Putin and Medvedevs popularity in Russia must make western leaders green with envy.

Posted by: Paul in Euroland at November 27, 2008 7:04 PM
Comment #271073


Hey man, yeah, I KNOW, I’m so sorry! It is the sort of thing that can bring on an identity crisis- send people who thought they knew who they were running, screaming, through tranquil settings.
Submitted for your consideration: You find yourself in agreement with someone you thought was an unreasonable, mindless political foe. Your whole world is now in question and, as you ponder a universe in which your most firmly held beliefs now merge with strange reflections. Now you realize you have entered-
“The Twilight Zone”
I hope you’re old enough to remember Rod Serling.

Anyway, thanks, really. There are different ways to look at this, of course. Paul in Euroland’s comments aside, most of that military spending he and others find so worrisome is really necessitated by genuine threats. Most of the tankers threatened by pirates off Africa’s eastern coast are not going to America. The threats only exist because of our (and Europe’s) dependence on oil. The continuation of that level of dependence, made apparent by the damage done to the world economy by the price spike of the last year, is a burden on every person’s liberty. (By the way, Paul, liberty does not mean perfect freedom. It is the capacity to choose a path through life, duly weighing the human and physical environment in which one lives. We all know no one is perfectly free.)

Beyond that, though, Paul, if everyone in Europe believes as you do about Russia you may soon know the difference between living near a bear and trying to live inside a bear. Russia was a land of spies and distrust and cynicism long centuries before there was a Communist Party. The very name (derived from “Rus”, the red-haired nordic people who conquered there) speaks to that heritage reaching back a thousand years to a time when the native Slavic (also no accident) peoples were bullied into a sort of orderly submission by foreigners.

The perpetual inheritance of that history has been an inferiority complex that has expressed itself tragically over the last hundred years. The most dangerous thing in the world is a people full of capability who think it necessary to convince themselves they are not losers.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at November 27, 2008 10:53 PM
Comment #271074

My take is a bit different. I’m not worried about running out of oil. Whenever it goes up in price we innovate. First in the 1980’s with fuel injection, now with hybrid technology. On an inflation adjusted basis the amount of $$ it takes to move us around goes up and down along a level line. Now it is nearer the be bottom of the issue.

I have no doubt that if we did nothing oil would one day hit $200 or $300/barrel and we would introduce a new more efficient fossil fuel car.

My reason for wanting the United States to be done with oil is that I have a son in Kuwait in the navy. Most of the people we import oil from I don’t particularly care like. The best way to keep our troops safe is to get off of oil

As for the Russia lover up there from Euroland. The reason America spends as much as the rest of the world on defense, is that we keep all the shipping lanes open, and Europe free. You take America’s military spending down to the rest of the world and shipping costs will soar from pirate protection cost.

Try to truly think what would happen in the world if we called our US Navy home, and if we bought the rest of the army home. At least we wouldn’t have to debate about free trade, etc, trade would plummet.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at November 27, 2008 11:45 PM
Comment #271075

Craig H,

Thanks for the new idea for bringing our economy back to snuff. Instead of protecting against pirates, we should hire some (Blackwater?) to increase problems with shipping cheap, slave labor products to us. Perhaps we’d be able to crank up some manufacturing here at home, we could stop worrying about wheat gluten, melamine, lead in our food/toy imports…and, it would surely cause us to get off our collective butts to develop better energy sources. Dark clouds do have silver linings after all…

Posted by: Marysdude at November 28, 2008 4:17 AM
Comment #271080

Craig, you do not keep Europe free. Europe, or at least the EU part of it, is an entity of 500 million people, with a bigger economy than that of the US. It does not have any power threatening that freedom militarily. The idea that you have to spend more than the rest of the world on military waste to protect sea lanes is absurd on its face. As to piracy, what is to stop nations internationally coming together to deploy sufficient resources to put a stop to piracy, which in any case is a gnat on an elephants ear?

You call me a Russia lover? Ha! It’s not that i’m a Russia lover, but I do recognise that Russia is not the Soviet Union, and I do believe in giving people and countries a fair break. I think it’s more about a Mc Carthyite attitude in the US regarding Russia which is propagated by the military industrial congressional complex. It is when one side of a competitive pair ups the ante in terms of military spending that the other sees the warning signals and feels it has to respond. Compare Russia s military spending and that of the US, and there is simply no contest, not by a very long stretch.

International tension and war exist to feed the military industrial complex, and that of the US is the most voracious of all such complexes in the world. Meanwhile US citizens go without proper health care. A momentary glance at history will tell you where that kind of imperial overstretch ends up. Hell, even Eisenhower, a military man himself, warned you about this. Still it seems so many USan’s are blind to what is actually happening and who is calling the shots in Washington and how they are doing it. It is not just a danger for the US, but for everyone.

Posted by: Paul in Euroland at November 28, 2008 5:19 AM
Comment #271081


It is remarkable that you can behold with such sanguine regard a land that supplies something like a third or more of Europe’s fuel needs, and thus needs no great armies to bring you to your knees. When Europeans look at the United States from afar they imagine a land run by billionaires and populated by peons. Russia really is that land.

I’m all for seeing the best in my neighbors. Russia, though, is not the best of all neighbors. They are an ecological and ethical disaster with a capital city, and you are heavily dependent on them.

Everything I said about energy for the United States goes double for Europe, and engaging in the same kind of tipsy hopeful denial in the face of corruption and emerging tyrrany that preceded the second World War may only win you the dubious joys of repeated history.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at November 28, 2008 9:10 AM
Comment #271082

>Still it seems so many USan’s are blind to what is actually happening and who is calling the shots in Washington and how they are doing it. It is not just a danger for the US, but for everyone.
Posted by: Paul in Euroland at November 28, 2008 05:19 AM


I’ve pretty much agreed with your reasoning, but the last part puzzles me a little…no one in Washington has been calling the shots, as they have been following the lead of our financial CEOs.

The so-called Military Industrial Complex has mostly been out-sourced. You folks in Euroland and asialand are our MIC now…

Posted by: Marysdude at November 28, 2008 9:21 AM
Comment #271090

Marysdude, we’re actually partially talking about the same thing. The financial CEO’s are only one element of the puzzle. Notice how the Military Manufacturing complex is spread throughout the US, and no Senator or Congress person would want to be seen to support cuts in military spending?

There’s a very good website by a lady who was an MD on Wall Street and Undersecretary at HUD in GHW Bush’s Admin. Her name is Catherine Austin Fitts and if you go to her site;

Then read the articles under the heading “Tapeworm Economics”, you’ll get a good sense of what I’m talking about. There’s a lot of reading there, but it will greatly reward the time invested to those who take what is happening in their country or world seriously. I just don’t get it that such a greatly blessed country as the US in terms of resources should apparently have so many peoples mindset influenced more by fear of the unfamiliar that excitement to engage with it. That seems to be how so many are manipulated by the opinion formers to hate and fear the likes of Russia, or pathetically believe that the likes of Iraq, or Iran could possibly be a danger to them. It’s almost like these ideas are like a religion, the bad guys are out to get us. And this is a country that was formed from a Christian culture?

Posted by: Paul in Euroland at November 28, 2008 1:10 PM
Comment #271091

Paul in Europe:

You are free today because of US military might. The United States kept 200,000 military personal in Europe for over 40 years to give you the right to run us down. Your free speech is a compliment to the men and women of our armed forces. Speak loud!! yell at us, flip the bird at us, especially as you walk by those American cemeteries. That is what they died for.

In terms of the present day, I agree that US forces should move out. All of them. There is no reason for US military in Europe.

In terms of your comment about the world coming together. NATO is a joke right now. It cannot fight a small war such as Afghanistan, much less control the high seas. United Nations looks like the bar scene on Star Wars. They are inept and corrupt.

If Europe wants to build a navy I’m all for it. It would only mean lower taxes here.

You economy is declining in Old Europe. At the End of WWII he US economy was about the size of Germany, England and France, today it’s about the size of the entire EU. Socialism has led to very slow growth for a generation. Most of your growth comes from newer countries or those like Ireland that have adopted more open ways.

You have enough troubles of your own. I certainly would not trade places looking into the future. Your demographic problems are huge. Italy is declining in population. You face some very very tough issues in the next 20 to 30 years as you are much further ahead of us on the age wave issue. (As in older).


US navy protects shipping lanes for the entire world. If those forces were withdrawn, commerce would drastically decline. It would be very ugly for a long time.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at November 28, 2008 1:13 PM
Comment #271098

Craig, I’m not aware of any newer countries in Europe. Any that I am aware of have ancient pedigrees. I suspect your concept of “New Europe” is leakage from Rumsfelt and Bush talking crap about “New Europe”. As it happens, I am Irish.

As far as NATO is concerned, I agree with you, especially given that it is largely controlled by the US. Nato’s raison d’etre expired with the collapse of the Soviet Union, and it has been kept alive for the benefit largely of projecting US hegemony under cover of an alliance. The reason for the hegemonic projection is the sustenance of the mil industrial complex. And for all of your advanced weaponry and resources, the Taliban are actually advancing. And let’s not forget that the US is the largest Nato component in Afghanistan, in fact, I think apart from the British lapdog, you are the only ones doing any regular combat work, tho’ you seem to prefer to attack from some 30 odd thousand feet, much to the misfortune of wedding parties.

The reason at least some Americans, I don’t know how many, are gung ho for your military, is that the mil ind complex propaganda puts you all in fear from any entity that can be accused of plotting against the US, so as to keep up the ridiculously bloated military budget. When I look around the world, I see no great military threats. As I have travelled, I have found people very welcoming and friendly. Even in Vietnam, where I met some of your countrymen, and in their company socialised with Vietnamese, there was no anomosity towards them, despite the dreadful losses they suffered at the hands of the US. Interesting fact is that they call it the American War.

People like you Craig, remind me of Don Quixote, always tilting at windmills and looking for ferocious giants to slay. Nations exhibit characteristics much like people and, like people, tend to respond to respect and positive engagement. That’s not to say that unpleasant and dangerous people do not rise to power who need to be dealt with, look at GWB for example, but that’s another issue.

Posted by: Paul in Euroland at November 28, 2008 4:12 PM
Comment #271099

Paul in Euroland:

Economic growth in EU especially countries like Germany, Italy and France are poised for decline because of high taxes, high unemployment and pension plans with too many pensioners.

Newer members of EU tend to have higher growth rates as they do not have as much entrenched socialism.

Also what needs to be addressed is how the EU benefits from American military protections. For decades Europeans were able to contribute less of GDP to military budgets for protection.

Again, your shipping costs are far far lower due to US military presence. You personally benefit in two ways. First, by paying less taxes for your own protection around the world. Second, by being able to trade at much lower costs.

Should American military be greatly reduced the EU would need to provide such protection for it’s industries which would cut into your social expenses.

I don’t mind taking all the criticism of America that you provide, as long as we are clear that you benefit financially, from America’s military. And as long as we are clear that you owe your countries freedom to American troops, without which you would remain dominated by either German or Russian influence.

Russia by the way is also in a state of decline. It’s mortality age is declining, as is it’s birth rate.

Actually, in the long term, Europe is likely to fade from the scene as a world power. The future belongs to China and the far east. America will be there to compete with China for world dominance, but Europe is likely to continue to fall behind. Especially those countries that have been in the EU the longest. (If you don’t like the term Old Europe).

I think America has a much better change to continue on the world stage because it is so adaptable. We are far better at attracting the best and brightest from around the world. And with lower tax rates the strong and ambitious are likely to flow here for some time.

I however think China is the one to watch. They seem to have great potential on the world scene.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at November 28, 2008 4:53 PM
Comment #271101

Oil and metal and there down in price

Posted by: Rodney Brown at November 28, 2008 5:46 PM
Comment #271102

Craig, I agree with you regarding China, to a point. If China were to try to replicate western standards of living as are required in the west, it would rapidly strip the worlds resources, so that’s not really an option.

It’s true that Europe has had slower growth than the US. Does that mean that USan’s enjoy a better standard of living? That’s at the least debatable, as is the question of quality of life.

With regard to the US in the future? Can’t you see that the US has been taken over by an oligarchical class? Why do you think that the wealth distribution is so skewed in the US towards the super wealthy? Why do you think that Wall St, the cause of the current collapse is being bailed out, but not main street?

The US is run by a cartel, and most USan’s ain’t in it. The problem is now tho’, that the unrestrained greed has now wrecked the system, and it is in the process of implosion. There are many US conservative commentators who agree with this. Your economy for the last 20 - 30 years has been massively narrowed, with undue and unwise dependance on FIRE ( Financial, Insurance & Real Estate) to make a living. Now that Wall Streets’ venality in out in the open, there will be no more suckered international investors to be taken in for a long time. It is now more likely that the US, along with the rest of us, are facing a prolonged depression. It is very possible that the US is in the decline phase now, with imperial overstretch and gangster/bankster capitalism ruling and corrupting from within. We are in unchartered waters, and the risk today are probably greater than in most of our lifetimes The world is entering a period of techtonic shifts, and they hold great perils all round, also great opportunities. But the ones with the discipline to profit from the opportunities are not the decadent west, but the industrious and provident east.

Posted by: Paul in Euroland at November 28, 2008 5:52 PM
Comment #271115

Paul in Euroland:

Yes, wealth distribution is at the peak of Americas range of tolerance. It goes back and forth with the markets. Right now as in the 1930’s it should be moving closer together. (The wealthy own most of the stock and real estate, and bonds!!, the FIRE as you call it. (Good term).

I disagree with you about internationals being suckered as you call it. Have you watched the dollar and US Treasuries during this crisis? Right now our 30 Treasury had it’s best month since 1981. People are actually investing at 3.44% for 30 years.

You are a pessimist by thinking we are going into a depression. I have found that trait among bloggers here before. The bond market is sure predicting such a thing. I certainly see a strong recession coming. Interestingly, I looked up intrade and the lead was the odds of a depression in 2009 of 14%. So it looks like a long shot. Hope it remains that way.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at November 28, 2008 10:00 PM
Comment #271118

Welcome. This talk about Russia is off thread but germain as Russia is also dependant on oil,the selling of it that is. I am more in agreement with Paul but I just love the idea of selling the concept of oil independance to otherwise intransigent right-wingers as a blow against their traditional boogyman, not to mention Chavez.

Posted by: bills at November 29, 2008 6:07 AM
Comment #271128

Thanks bills,

There is a huge difference between interdependence and dependence. The former is simple community, a recognition that we all share in the travails of the world together. The latter is a neglect of our responsibility to be able to stand on our own in those times when the interdependent world needs us to be strong for them.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at November 29, 2008 10:49 AM
Comment #271130

As an Irishman Paul, your country has seen its share of foreign and civil war, foreign dominance, poverty and famine. I spent a week in your lovely land in 2001 and have never met a more friendly and ambitious people. Ireland is among the greatest European economic success stories of the last decade and I hope it continues.

I have read and studied the recent success of Ireland Paul and would like your view of what has led to its great economic turnaround.

Posted by: Jim M at November 29, 2008 11:20 AM
Comment #271133


Why are we so hot to build a “missile defence” system in Eastern Europe other than to enhance our first strike capabilities?
How can this be America “being strong for them” when all of the members of the “nuclear club” still have enough nuclear firepower to destroy human life on this planet many times over?
Much has been made by some of the posters on this thread that the world owes America it’s gratitude for the freedoms they now enjoy. Yet despite all of our “whizz-bang” weapons systems, since Sept. 11th, this planet truly isn’t that much safer. I would also submit that some of our actions in the last 50 years have made the world less stable, and unless something has been in America’s own self interest, a goodly portion of the world has been left to fend for itself.

We have taken on the responsibility to patrol the world’s shipping lanes.
Why is that?
Is it out of some altruistic motive, or is it also in America’s best self interest to do so?
If we pulled our ships home, would not Americans also suffer the consequences of that action.

Like it or not, we on this planet are totally interdependent because this is the only planet we have.
From global resources like oil, to famine, to disease, to climate change, planet wide we all have a stake in the outcome.
Those that believe otherwise are more the problem than the solution.


Posted by: Rocky Marks at November 29, 2008 12:26 PM
Comment #271136

As long as we try to pretend that oil or anyother product is our adiction, we can avoid addressing the true adiction.

Oil is a product that proved to be cost effective at providing the power demands needed to produce and transport the other products which feed our addiction. Oil also gives us a means of transportation to get us to work so that we can require the funds necessary to sustain us and feed our addiction.

Our addiction leads us to be greedy, makes us a benefactor as well as a victim of greed. It creates politicial appathy “it’s the economy stupid” and makes many of us indifferent to the harmful effects produced by it.

Our addiction is hedonistic mass consumption materialism coupled with a planned obselence, throw away mentality.

The moto of GM and Ford:

Big is good.

Big and powerful is better.

Big, powerful and luxurious is best.

How did we get addicted to this way of life?

I guess you could say it just comes naturally.

Posted by: jlw at November 29, 2008 12:56 PM
Comment #271137

Our military 1s our greatest asset. We use it to intimidate or destroy our enemy’s. We use it to both intimidate and protect our cooperative partners. We use it to try to achieve the world cooperation that we deem right.

Posted by: jlw at November 29, 2008 1:16 PM
Comment #271142

Rocky Marks,

Why not ask yourself why Poland, which chafed under Russia’s boot for forty years, would want the missile defense system on their own territory? Why not ask yourself why Russia would be so upset that Poland would have the system on Poland’s territory? Is it possible there are things other than the United States which are to be feared in the world?

Interdependence is a healthy recognition that we share the world, sure. It is not a given, to be taken for granted, though. True interdependence is a product of mutual strength, the capacity to stand on one’s own when one must, or when one’s neighbors seek to impose their values as though one is wrong to have one’s own.

If Americans can’t be different, even vastly different, from their neighbors, if they must submit rather than lose the support of others they are dependent. If others can force you to accept certain views you are dependent. If they can tolerate you if you are different and seek to convince you, and you them, of your various views and priorities all of you together are interdependent.

Thus, we and Europe are indeed interdependent, while it could be argued that the Middle East is dependent on us.

When I argue for a campaign to reduce or eliminate our dependence on oil I do so knowing America has abundant wind and solar resources. Europe is less blessed in these areas, while elimination of a world oil economy still leaves a Middle East overflowing with abundant sunshine and seasonal wind resources. There is still interdependence.

Paul, “F.I.R.E.” is a problem in the United States, but it is an oversimplification to describe that as our economy. It is even an ovesimplification to think of America as one place or us as one people. I say that as a Texan who knows that people from Boston (where a cousin once lived) think rather strange things of people from Mississippi (where both sides of my family lived a century ago).

By the way, I haven’t found in this thread that you are Irish as Jim M says. Have I missed something?

Posted by: Lee Jamison at November 29, 2008 2:06 PM
Comment #271145

“Why not ask yourself why Poland, which chafed under Russia’s boot for forty years, would want the missile defense system on their own territory? Why not ask yourself why Russia would be so upset that Poland would have the system on Poland’s territory? Is it possible there are things other than the United States which are to be feared in the world?”

Gosh, Lee, how many billions of dollars would that mean that America is pumping into the Polish economy?
And, if I were Russia I would be asking myself what the hell the difference was between a cold war enemy putting ICBMs in Cuba, and a theoretical “friend” putting missiles on MY front doorstep.

It seems that the American MIC is always looking for the next bogeyman.
My hope is that we don’t someday realize it’s us.


Posted by: Rocky Marks at November 29, 2008 2:46 PM
Comment #271146

Oh, and BTW,

The Middle East doesn’t need us when China is willing to buy up every drop of petroleum the Middle East can produce.


Posted by: Rocky Marks at November 29, 2008 2:49 PM
Comment #271147

Lee wrote: “By the way, I haven’t found in this thread that you are Irish as Jim M says. Have I missed something?

Lee, Paul said in Post #271098, “Craig, I’m not aware of any newer countries in Europe. Any that I am aware of have ancient pedigrees. I suspect your concept of “New Europe” is leakage from Rumsfelt and Bush talking crap about “New Europe”. As it happens, I am Irish.”

Posted by: Jim M at November 29, 2008 3:20 PM
Comment #271150

Jim, there are so many factors involved in Ireland’s economic turnaround over the last 20 years. It would take an article in itself to explain it, because it’s really quite complex, and has much to do with our history as a colonised people, followed by our history as an independent people. The bad of one, and the good and bad of the other. And of course timing was also a factor.

If you’d like a more detailed explanation, write to me at -

Craig, the dollar and the US treasuries are a simple run home to mamma strategy in the flight from risk. Also, hedge funds are having to unwind their positions and thus the dollar has had a good run on the back of that. This only confirms what I am saying. As there is a perception out there that all asset values are overinflated, as indeed they are, perhaps with the exception of precious metals, that the stock market is rigged, which it is, ( think Plunge Protection Team - aka the Presidents working group on Financial Markets ) and the Wall Street sucker rallies where the insiders make out like it’s lotto winners time as they bleed the amateurs dry. So people are rushing to the default strategies for what they perceive to be safe stores for their money.

Craig, the system is bust. The banks are insolvent and getting them lending again is like trying to push a piece of string. Consumers are borrowed out. They want to pay down debt, not increase it. And even if they did get credit markets working again, which is Paulsons strategy, all it would do is to start to reinflate assets to bubble prices. That sets the seed for future implosions. That is if it happened. It’s not gonna happen. As GWB said, fool me once….duh…. duh…. duh…….ain’t gonna happen again.

Anyone who says this is going to be a short one is either spaced out or trying to sell a pup for their own self interest. This sucker is going down, again quoting the decided. And it needs to. The shameless corruption needs to be washed from the system. The guilty parties should be doing the perp walk, having destroyed peoples savings and pensions.But that does not seem to happen in the US any more. They have clearly invested enough in Washington to buy immunity.

Posted by: Paul in Euroland at November 29, 2008 4:25 PM
Comment #271159


Thank you for the nice response. I fully understand that there is a flight to quality brought on by the panic caused at least in start by the real estate bubble deflating.

I also agree that it’s unlikely that we get out of this quick.

It is important to note that how we “feel” is usually not how things turn out. The Iraqi war was “lost” in 2007. Oil was heading for $200/barrel just a few months ago. So a year from now the world will look very different than now.

As for this sucker going down. Hope you take this right, but Watchblog would not be where I would get my infomration on that one. Here is a better sourse:

my understanding is that these economists are polled confidentially.

Posted by: Craig Holmes at November 29, 2008 10:13 PM
Comment #271173

Craig Holmes
Thanks for the link although I sometimes suspect that economist were put on the earth to make astrology look reputable.

Far from the original topic but the missile defense shield is worth exploring. IMO it is a dangerious venture of little utility. I know you are a student of history but perhaps from your American perspective you tend to discount the importance of buffer states to great nations.The US has an advantage there. Our buffer states are the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. All great nations,and Russia is one as a glance at a world map will show, must maintain their buffer states.We sometimes forget this with tragic results. For example,China’s entry into the Korean Conflict was entirely predictable.
That being said there is also the abrogation of the ABM treaty to consider and the failure to honor our commitments to Russia. There was an agreement between Gorbachov and Reagan that the US would not push for NATO expansion if Gorbachov
would allow/condone the fall of the Berlin Wall.
A good way to get along with other people and nations is to try and put oneself in their shoes.Russia has be savagely invaded from the west twice in the last century. Of course they are wary. The missile defense shield is a provocation. Even if its intent is peaceful it is part of a first strike infrastructure. I am sure you understand the MAD regime that has so far prevented a nuclear conflagration. This system destroys that regime. You know. A first strike does not make sense because at least a few ICBMS will get through,most likely targeting major cities as opposed to military targets. The ABMs being placed remove much of that deterant threat. Russia has to respond. Russia has to contervien the system. WE would do the same. The first obvious option is to launch a first strike themselves. There is no ABM system that could prevent it. Fortunately cooler heads seem to have prevailed at least for now. Their responses have been restrained, Naval exercises in South America etc.My guess is they are waiting to see if BHO will change direction and I hope he does.
What is the point of the provocation. The military as has been said, always is prepared to fight the last war. Our current enemy is more likely to deliver a warhead by canoe than an ICBM. If anything we need more cooperation with Russia to control the supplies of nuclear weaponry.IMO the biggest reason for the shield is the huge influence the MIC has has on the outgoing administration. They had a product to sell and an administration willing to invent a need for it. My how they miss the cold war. What better to start it again.There is just no big money in psy-ops,human assets and armored humvees needed to fight the war we are really in.

Posted by: bills at November 30, 2008 5:58 AM
Comment #271204

My sensibility is that sometimes doing the right thing is easier than it seems at first.

I don’t think there will be any one answer to the problem of replacing fossil fuels. But there doesn’t have to be one successor technology. But we can’t be hesitant, because the dependence we have on that technology is real, as the crisis will be if we let temporary lulls in price or our habitual complacency take over.

We need to look around us to see what kind of systems we can employ. If we’re near a river or along a strong wind corridor, we use one system. If we’re near the ocean, we use another. If we get a lot of sun, we can use more solar.

Energy flows around us all the time, and I’m not talking the mystical kind. Perhaps it will never be as cheap as the stored kind was, but then cheapness is not guarantee of permanence and sustainability.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at November 30, 2008 6:00 PM
Comment #271207

In the aspect of aesthetics that system sure wins i see Pluses And Minuses I would like to know if they have a actual working prototype, it’s a mechanical system, I suppose with newer technology plastics and corrosion proof metals and waterproofing and proper lubrication i could see it living in such a saline environment as our oceans and in the rivers the possibility of silt and mud and sand clogging from runoff in the spring and summers could be addressed, the transmission lines and connections would have to be carefully routed and easily accessed and buried , Thank you for the link Stephen, many times the most complex problems can be addressed with less complex solutions.

Posted by: Rodney Brown at November 30, 2008 9:02 PM
Comment #271217


Yeah…the first car I learned to drive had three little metal foot treadles, the accelerator was on the steering column, and the horn was a squeeze-bulb…we’ve come a long way since then. I suspect all the potential problems you’ve pointed out will evolve over time. New technologies rarely come off the starting block at their best. The key is to get ‘crackin’ on them, rather than waste our time and resources on the proven disaster of fossil fuels.

Posted by: Marysdude at December 1, 2008 2:22 AM
Comment #271218

Well,there you go.The country has an opportunity of historic proportions,arriving at an exceptionally fortunate time. For the economy we need a national project like oil independance to get things moving. Thats close to a good enough stand alone reason to make some major investments and policy changes toward that end. We can probably agree that government has a role in its develpoment similar to the governments role in the internet or agriculture developement. Research, start up loans, trade assistance ,market support,patent law enforcement, direct government purchase for governmental use,tax credits etc. to attract capital. I cannot think of a better way to put Americans to work at good jobs for a good reason. I expect the GOP leadership to fight or,that failing, to try and undermine the effort. If I am right kick those guys out please. We will see.

Posted by: bills at December 1, 2008 3:06 AM
Comment #271225


”Yeah…the first car I learned to drive had three little metal foot treadles, the accelerator was on the steering column, and the horn was a squeeze-bulb…we’ve come a long way since then” “Said MD.” Most Folks thought back then that was Light years ahead of the times, The Innovators new better! Beep beep! ;0) Glass Half Full!!

Posted by: Rodney Brown at December 1, 2008 9:25 AM
Comment #271228

“concentrating light to boost solar cells’ production” ;) that is without burning them up.

Posted by: Rodney Brown at December 1, 2008 9:40 AM
Comment #271229


I am sure you understand the MAD regime that has so far prevented a nuclear conflagration. This system destroys that regime. You know. A first strike does not make sense because at least a few ICBMS will get through,most likely targeting major cities as opposed to military targets.

I do understand MAD (as well as its confluence with the magazine of the same name) and I know that MAD is not eliminated by anti-missile-defense. The real goal of ABMs is making MAD too expensive for a rational leadership to pursue. The real immediate threat of nuclear war fell in the aftermath of the 1980s because the research burden on the Soviet Military machine to answer the threat of “Star Wars” was too great for the Soviet economy to bear.

ABM systems are not really practical weapons militarily, but they are brilliant weapons for “warfare by other means” because they put a proxy for warfare we can win on a grand scale, economic dominance, in the place of one nobody wins at, killing and blowing things up.

As to your comments on a “national project”, I agree. Overall we are talking about a project the beginnings of which will require a committment like that to the space program of the 1960s. After the infrastructure is in place, though, the raw resource is free and, unlike oil, one does not run out of it in the places where it is found.

Look, though, from an environmental standpoint at what the potential spinoffs will be. Where we have the most sun we are in need of water. We will have to develop water recycling technologies to support increased populations in sun-drenched regions of the country or risk severely damaging ecosystems dependent on waterways we would otherwise divert, as well as those dependent on maintaining the status-quo in areas which are currently very dry.

We will have to develop transitional technologies, such as plug-in hybrids, that give us a foot in both worlds.

We will also have to be open to re-visioning the way we build cities, currently dominated by accommodating the hegemony of the automobile. Pre-historic cities all over the world were devised in such a way that people layered their dwelling and working spaces. Think of a parking garage with townhouses and walking/biking paths on top, offices and shops for a couple of levels below, and automotive accommodations in lower levels. One might not even NEED a car to function well in such a space.

I’m all for a classless society. One of the most ferocious enforcers of class in the modern world is our mode of, and accommodations for, transportation. Yeah, that’s a little off-topic, too, but it’s all a part of the same conversation about liberty, interdependence, and the mutual respect that makes both concepts possible.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at December 1, 2008 9:49 AM
Comment #271252


If ABM’s are not really practical weapons militarily, I am sure that we will not mind if countries like Cuba or Venezuela decide to deploy them.

ABM’s can be extremely effective weapons based on the kind of explosive warhead they carry, the proximity to their target and how they are used in combination with other weapons.

I am sure that our military has explored the posibility of destroying Russia’s nuclear potential in a first strike against them. I am sure that our military has developed operational plans for such a senario. Such a senario would have to include Russian submarines,ships and planes as well as land based ICBM’s.

IMO, contemplating such an action, taking that kind of risk is crazy. Even if the military was assured that it could destroy 99.99% of the Russian missles before they could reach orbit we would sustain considerable but not totally destructive damage. Would a president contemplate such an action? I think not but, a president with the neoconian attitude of a Dick Cheney might.

In their thinking, that is the the possibility that the Russian’s could be facing, especially if they refuse to turn ownership of their resources over to capitalist corporations.

Perhaps we are not concerned about what the Russians might do with the profits from their resources, like we were not concerned about what Saddam might have done with his.

Spaced based business will be a wave of the future. I would like to see the American people form their own corporation, with NASA at it’s core, to develop and reap the benefit from such ventures. Many in this country would like to see those possibilities put off until investors can be assured that they can be accomplished profitably.

We The People, using our government, could begin this process now. The Russians have announced that they are going to begin the development now with government owned entities and some of the profits from their resources. If they are sucessful, it could be disasterous for us, especially our corporations ability to make profits from such ventures in the future.

Contrary to what some might believe, the world is not getting safer. Perhaps, in the long run, corporate capitalism and government restraint can make the world safer but, the people of the world will have to sacrifice something to get that safety and in all likelyhood, personal freedom is what we will sacrifice.

Corporate capitalism is one of many threats to freedom.

Posted by: jlw at December 1, 2008 1:14 PM
Comment #271284


Corporate capitalism is one of many threats to freedom.

Then become a supporter of SMALL business and small(er) government.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at December 1, 2008 4:31 PM
Comment #271303


I am not totally anti-corporation.

I do support small business but, I am not a fan of the Chamber of Commerce.

As for government, large or small, I am for effective government. Government that cares as much or more for the poorest amoung us as it does the wealthiest. A government that promotes full employment rather than welfare. A government that promotes a real living wage rather than a minimum waqe.

Posted by: jlw at December 1, 2008 6:45 PM
Comment #271319

LEE, Stick Around.

Posted by: Rodney Brown at December 2, 2008 1:07 AM
Comment #271481

Even granting incorrectly that you are right, that ABM are good proxies for “war by other means” what is the point or justification for any war with Russia? We need their parnership in the war on terror and the program to limit nuclear weapons. The Cold War is OVER!

Posted by: bills at December 5, 2008 2:15 AM
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