Home / Chalmers Johnson’s Blowback – The Costs and Consequences of American Empire: Is America in Decline?

Chalmers Johnson’s Blowback – The Costs and Consequences of American Empire: Is America in Decline?

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One of the enduring myths sedulously cultivated by apologists of American foreign policy is that America, the land of the free and the brave, is besieged by malevolent foreign powers. In the realm of pure thought unsullied by empiric evidence the lone superpower bravely battles rogue states to prevent free societies from nuclear extinction. As Michael Howard, Regius Professor of Modern History at Oxford says, “For 200 years the United States has preserved almost unsullied the original ideals of the enlightenment: the belief in the God-given rights of the individual, the inherent rights of free assembly and free speech, the blessings of free enterprise, the perfectibility of man, and, above all, the universality of these values”.
   
But is the record of the ‘defender of freedom’ in contemporary history unblemished? “Two hundred years (of US history) is illustrated by a century of literal human slavery,” writes Chomsky in Deterring Democracy, “and effective disenfranchisement of Blacks for another century, genocidal assaults on native population, the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Filipinos at the turn of the century, of millions of Indochinese, of some 200,000 Central Americans in the past decade.”

Since September 11, criticism of the Empire has attained respectability. The word Empire has appeared in mainstream newspapers and books critical of American foreign Policy have been resurrected. One such book is Blowback, written by Chalmers Johnson. Interestingly, this book, which was written during the year 1998-99, received little attention in the mainstream press. Philip Zelikowin, a former member of the National Security staff of President Bush Senior, dismissed Blowback as a comic book. The terrorist attack on the WTC changed all that and the book was reprinted seven times in less than two months.

Unintended Negative Consequences

Johnson, who is the president of the Japan Policy Research Institute and professor emeritus at the University of California, views the events of September 11 not with hysteria but with scholarly detachment. “The suicidal assassins of September 11, 2001, did not attack America,” he writes in his preface, “as political and news media in the United States have tried to maintain; they attacked American Foreign Policy. Employing the strategy of the weak, they killed innocent bystanders who became enemies only because they (assassins) had already become victims.” With refreshing candour he admits, “Many aspects of what the American government had done abroad virtually invited retaliatory attacks from nations and peoples who had been victimized.”

Recent events only confirm this. The massive bombing of Afghanistan which the US launched on October 7, 2001, killed many innocent people and inflicted untold misery on men women and children of an already war torn country. The deployment of overwhelming military force on the peasants of Vietnam in the recent decades and military action in Laos, Cambodia, Iraq, Serbia and Kosovo only produce ‘unintended negative consequences throughout the Islamic and underdeveloped worlds.’

The casual arrogance with which President Clinton ordered the firing of nearly eighty cruise missiles (at a cost of $750,000 each) into a pharmaceutical plant in Khartoum, Sudan, and an old mujahideen camp site in Afghanistan is another instance of its imperial hauteur. The military response was in retaliation to the bombings of American embassy buildings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. The grudging admission of error in intelligence reports came on September 2, 1998, when the US secretary of defense said he was unaware that the plant made medicines and not nerve gas. The fact that the plant made affordable medicines for the poor people of Sudan went largely unnoticed in the US media. No word of sympathy was uttered by Clinton who justified the military action on the ground of repelling ‘imminent threat to our national security’.

Clinton’s abrasive secretary of state Madeline Albright made matters worse by her tactless remark that Sudan was a viper’s nest of terrorists. In the streets of Sudan tempers ran high and street protesters waved placards accusing Clinton of diverting public opinion from his sexual misadventures with his White House subordinate. The memories of injustice linger on and the image of an arrogant superpower using disproportionate military force on small defenseless countries evokes moral outrage among the victims. The situation is ripe for terrorist attacks on the Empire leading to the endless cycle of violence and retaliation.

Johnson explains that the word "blowback" was coined by the CIA. The word was originally used in poison gas warfare "to refer to the likelihood of battlefield gasses blowing back on the forces that have released them." In its political sense it first appeared in a CIA post-action report on the secret overthrow of Mohammed Mossadegh government in Iran in 1953. The CIA helped to install the brutal regime of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlevi who ruled Iran with an iron hand for twenty-five years. The overthrow of the Shah regime by the Islamic clerics and the persistent anti –American sentiments in the region are rooted in recent history.

In CIA argot, blowback simply means the ‘unintended and unexpected consequences of covert operations of the CIA which have been kept secret from the American public and, in most cases, from the elected representatives.’ Such covert operations are illegal, ill conceived and short term aimed at overthrowing foreign governments or helping launch state terrorist operations against target populations.

The Soviet Afghan War

One example that comes to mind is the American involvement in the Soviet Afghan war. The official version has it that US helped the mujahideen after the Russians invaded Afghanistan in Dec 24, 1979. If the memoirs of Robert Gates, former CIA Director (From the Shadow: The Ultimate Insider’s Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War) are to be believed, then a different picture emerges. It was on July 3, 1979, that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to be given to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul, i.e., six months before the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The French weekly magazine Nouvel Observateur pursued this extraordinary story. The weekly interviewed Carter’s national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski who confirmed Gates' account. The Nouvel Observateur put the following question to Brzezinski: "You don’t regret any of this today?" Brzezinski replied, "Regret what? The secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want to regret it?" The Nouvel Observateur posed another question to Brzezinski. "And neither do you regret having supported Islamic fundamentalism, which had given arms and advice to future terrorists?" Brzezinski disdainfully answered, "What is more important in world history? The Taliban or collapse of the Soviet empire?"

What was hidden from the American public is the loss of 1.8 million Afghan lives, some 2.6 million refugees and ten million land mines left in Afghanistan as a result of US secret operation. The bombing of the WTC on 9/11 was a blowback from the same organisation, which US helped to build in Afghanistan.

Deadly Skills

What is concealed from the American public is that the US government trains the police/military of repressive regimes. In 1991, the US Congress passed a law authorising Joint Combined Exchange Training Programme (JCET). Though the law permitted the Special Forces to have overseas joint military exercises with foreign governments to train US soldiers, in actuality, the US Special forces are engaged in espionage activities. Under the guise of military exercises the Special Forces collect extensive information about the whole range of military capability of the foreign country they visit.

The Special Forces also train repressive foreign regimes friendly to US interests in lethal skills such as advance sniper techniques, psychological warfare, close quarters combat, torture techniques to elicit confessions from suspects. Evidence is slowly emerging that the Turkish Mountain Commandos were trained by the Special Forces who used the skills against the rebellious Kurdish population killing at least twenty-two thousand of them. According to the manual entitled Doctrine for Special Forces Operations the main activity of the Special Forces is to give foreign military units instructions in Foreign Internal Defense (FID). The disastrous impact of such training programmes were felt in nineteen countries of Latin America, Colombia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Rwanda, to name a few.

A Muscle-Bound Crackpot

Tom Plate, a columnist for the Los Angles Times, once described United States as "a muscle bound crackpot with little more than cruise missiles for brains.” US media glorify the warrior roles and justify the use of military force in world affairs. The reported statement of Madeleine Albright best exemplifies this: “If we have to use force, it is because we are America. We are an indispensable nation. We stand tall. We see farther into the future.” Echoing his concern Johnson observes, “In the decade following the end of the cold war, the US largely abandoned a reliance on diplomacy, economic aid, international law, and multilateral institutions in carrying out its foreign policies and resorted much of the time to bluster, military force, and financial manipulation.”

In pursuit of its imperial dreams US maintains its elaborate military bases all over the world. Its military expenditure dwarfs imagination. Conservative estimate places the US military expenditure in the region of four hundred billion dollars a year. According to Brookings Institution study, it costs US $5.5 trillion to build and maintain its nuclear arsenal. The Pentagon Industrial Complex sets its own agenda and it has a voracious appetite for more and more resources. The military system has become an autonomous system. With corporate interests permeating the military, the civilian control over the military is at best tenuous. Policymaking is dominated by militarism, ‘a vast array of customs, interests, prestige, actions, and thought associated with armies and wars and yet transcending true military purpose’ which is the defense of its realm.

Negative Economic Policies

The economic policies dictated by imperial ambition expose the US to blowback. The classic example of this is its relationship with East Asian client states. In the case of Japan, in order to further its cold war strategy of proving to the world that free market capitalism is the only mode of economic development, the US ‘treated Japan as a beloved ward, indulging its every economic need and proudly patronising it as a star pupil.’ The US used its influence to admit Japan into many International Institutions. The US transferred its crucial technology to Japan on concessionary terms and opened its markets to Japanese goods while tolerating Japan’s protection of its domestic market. This led to the hollowing out of key American Industries such as steel, consumer electronics, robotics, automotive, camera, and semi-conductor industries. This suicidal economic policy was also continued as a trade off to maintain US military bases in Japan. The long-term impact was that soon the American industries became uncompetitive vis-à-vis Japanese industries.

With the huge US export market made available to them, Japan, becoming a five trillion-dollar economy, pursued an aggressive export led growth. It followed its own brand of state guided capitalism steering clear of market capitalism and the command economy of the Soviets. Increasingly, it expanded its production capacity. What was hidden from economic planners was that Japan generated industrial over capacity that threatened the health of the economy. The over capacity reached crisis point when other Asian countries such as South Korea, Hong-Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, emulated the fast catch up strategy of Japan. ‘There were too many factories,’ writes Johnson, ‘turning out athletic shoes, automobiles, television sets, semi-conductors, petrochemicals, steel and ships for too few buyers.’ The ripple effect of the over capacity is the increased competition between American and European MNC. This has resulted in corporations cutting costs by transferring the high paid jobs from the advanced economy to low wage developing countries. The global demand is on the verge of collapse, as rich countries do not generate demand on account of market saturation or stagnant or falling income of its people. In countries like China, Vietnam and Indonesia the workers who earn low wages cannot buy the goods produced by them.

In East Asian economies financial capitalism spearheaded by the US played an important role in destabilising the economies. US played an aggressive role in making the East Asian economies to deregulate the capital market. The Wall Street Treasury Complex thrust the concept of capital mobility upon the East Asian countries. The nature of money pumped into the economy of South Korea, Thailand, Indonesia, and Philippines was hot money. The financial inflows were short term, speculative, highly liquid and could easily leave the economy. The US accumulated vast funds (around 3 trillion dollars) especially in the mutual funds. These pools of capital were invested and transferred out of the Asian economies. The result was catastrophic: East Asian economies collapsed. Big American companies bought factories and businesses for a song. Proctor & Gamble picked up several South Korean state of art Companies at a fraction of the price.

In Thailand, American Investment  firms bought service, steel, and energy companies at throw away prices. The Carlyle Group sent Bush senior to Bangkok to evaluate opportunities to buy real estate at low prices. The economic meltdown resulted in the largest transfer of wealth in the history of the world. The smoldering anger of East Asians against US predatory capitalism is a potential source of retaliatory strikes against US interests in the region.

There are worrying signs that the US is not able to pay for its huge military deployments and its military adventurism. The US uses its political clout to cajole its satellite countries to pay for its wars. For instance, Japan paid $13 billion to the US for the first gulf war against Iraq. According to Michael Hudson, author of Super Imperialism, the ballooning US balance of payments deficit is financed by the central banks of the world, which plough back the surplus dollars to buy  US Treasury bonds. Blinded by its overwhelming military power the Empire hurtles relentlessly towards the future in pursuit of its hegemonic goals. Its inept elected representatives have surrendered their judgment to a cabal of unelected military experts.

The unraveling of the Empire would have the same inevitability of a Greek tragedy: the hamartia of an inflexible empire bereft of adjustment and compromise colliding against the forces of blowback and imperial overstretch. The danger of the US alienating Europe, Russia East Asia and China politically cannot be ruled out.  The threat of the dollars not flowing back into the American economy is a real possibility. The scenario is dangerous for the US economy as it may financially implode if foreign investment dries up.

Imperial Overstretch

“The two great tests which challenge the longevity of every major power,” wrote Paul Kennedy in his magisterial survey The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, “whether in the military /strategical realm, it can preserve a reasonable balance between the nation’s perceived defense requirements and the means it possesses to maintain those commitments; and whether it can preserve the technological and economic bases of its power from relative erosion in the face of ever-shifting patterns of production.” Kennedy holds the view that this test of American abilities will be greater because it, like imperial Spain around 1600 or the British Empire around 1900, is the inheritor of a vast array of strategic commitments which had been made decades earlier when the nation’s political, economic, and military capacity to influence world affairs seemed so much more assured. ‘The United States now runs the risk of what might roughly called “imperial overstretch”: that is to say, decision-makers in Washington must face the awkward and enduring fact that the sum total of the United States’ global interests and obligation are far larger than the country’s power to defend them simultaneously.’

Johnson believes that America is in a state of decline. The signs are there for all to see: increasing estrangement between the population and their government, loss of moral authority among the elite, the appearance of militarism and the separation of military from the society it is supposed to serve. He quotes with approval David Calleo, professor of international politics, ‘The international system breaks down not only because unbalanced and aggressive new powers seek to dominate their neighbors, but also because declining powers, rather than adjusting and accommodating, try to cement their slipping preeminence into exploitative hegemony.’

Has the bell then begun to toll for the behemoth? Johnson answers the question with scholarly sang froid: “The danger I foresee is that we are embarked on the same path as the former Soviet Union a decade ago. It collapsed for three reasons — internal economic contradictions, imperial overstretch, and an inability to reform. The United States has always been richer so it might take us longer for similar afflictions to do their work. But it is nowhere written that the United States, in its guise as an empire dominating the world, must go on for ever.” Prophetic words?

Only time will tell.

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About Socrates

  • This article seems quite prescient with the ways things turned out on the economic front.

  • Homeless

    Listen to Representative Brad Sherman on bailing out foreign investors..

    Here’s Brad Sherman’s partial transcript of an interview by Larry Kudlow

    Larry I am glad you have a few seconds to talk to someone who voted against this bill. I am not changing my mind. I want to thank my colleagues who stood up to the purveyors of panic and voted against a very bad bill and voted with 400 eminent economists including three Nobel laureates who wrote to us and said don’t panic, don’t act hastily, hold hearings, work carefully. The fact is Larry if you read this bill, even you would have voted against it.

    It provides hundreds of billions of dollars of bailouts to foreign investors. It provides no real control of Paulson’s power. There is a critique board but not really a board that can step in and change what he does. It’s a $700 billion program run by a part-time temporary employee and there is no limit on million dollar a month salaries.

    Larry Kudlow:

    Let me just ask you one question. I think you are referring to foreign banks headquartered in the United States. I do not see how foreign investors get bailed out.

    Rep. Brad Sherman:

    Larry you have to read the bill. It’s very clear. The Bank of Shanghai can transfer all of its toxic assets to the Bank of Shanghai of Los Angeles which can then sell them the next day to the Treasury. I had a provision to say if it wasn’t owned by an American entity even a subsidiary, but at least an entity in the US, the Treasury can’t buy it. It was rejected.

    The bill is very clear. Assets now held in China and London can be sold to US entities on Monday and then sold to the Treasury on Tuesday. Paulson has made it clear he will recommend a veto of any bill that contained a clear provision that said if Americans did not own the asset on September 20th that it can’t be sold to the Treasury.

    Hundreds of billions of dollars are going to bail out foreign investors. They know it, they demanded it and the bill has been carefully written to make sure that can happen.

    Here’s the full video..Bailing out Foreign investors

  • Homeless

    A defining moment in the collapse of American Empire….Henry Paulson in abject genuflection at the feet of Nancy Pelosi.

    Bailout.handout,giveaway…whatever one calls it the American economy is headed for the shit creek.It’s beginning to look more and more like as Gore Vidal once described Ronald Reagan as A Triumph of the embalmer’s art

  • Homeless

    Bliffle,you are absolutely right. One recalls the words the words of Gore Vidal who said “there is only one party in the United States, the Property Party… and it has two right wings: Republican and Democrat. Republicans are a bit stupider, more rigid, more doctrinaire in their laissez-faire capitalism than the Democrats, who are cuter, prettier, a bit more corrupt—until recently… and more willing than the Republicans to make small adjustments when the poor, the black, the anti-imperialists get out of hand. But, essentially, there is no difference between the two parties.”

  • bliffle

    With Phil Gramm in the McCain camp and Bob Rubin in the Obama camp, what hope does an American citizen have?

  • Homeless

    Alexander Cockburn writes..,In 1999 John McCain’s friend and now his closest economic counselor, then a senator from Texas, was the prime Republican force pushing through the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. It repealed the old Glass-Steagall Act, passed in the Great Depression, which prohibited a commercial bank from being in the investment and insurance business. President Bill Clinton cheerfully signed it into law.

    A year later Gramm, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, attached a 262-page amendment to an omnibus appropriations bill, voted on by Congress right before a recess. The amendment received no scrutiny and duly became the Commodity Futures Modernization Act which okayed deregulation of investment banks, exempting most over the counter derivatives, credit derivatives, credit defaults, and swaps from regulatory scrutiny. Thus were born the scams that produced the debacle of Enron, a company on whose board sat Gramm’s wife Wendy. She had served on the Commodity Futures Trading Commission from 1983 to 1993 and devised many of the rules coded into law by her husband in 2000.

    Somewhat stained by the Enron debacle Gramm quit the senate in 2002 and began to enjoy the fruits of his own deregulatory efforts. He became a vice chairman of the giant Swiss bank UBS’ new investment arm in the US, lobbying Congress, the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department about banking and mortgage issues in 2005 and 2006, urging Congress to roll back strong state rules trying to crimp the predatory tactics of the subprime mortgage industry. UBS took a bath of about $20 billion in write offs from bad real estate loans this year.

    Long acknowledged as one of the most mean-spirited men ever to reach Congress, utterly charmless, (he managed to win only eight delegates in a hugely expensive bid for the Republican nomination in 1996) Gramm kept close contacts with the man dubbed McNasty when he was at the Naval College in Annapolis. Aside from their affinities in viciousness of character Gramm had access to big campaign funders in Texas, necessary from McCain’s 2008 bid. He became McCain’s campaign chairman and chief economic advisor.

    Gramm is a prime exhibit in any list of the architects of the current economic mess. At the behest of the banking industry he wrote the laws that enabled the huge balloons of funny money debt that exploded this year. The deregulatory statutes bearing his name prompted Wall Street’s looting orgy in the subprime thievery…

    Dave Nalle wrote a lick-spittle fawning piece on the same Phil Gramm ,the very same miserable,malevolent,sad sack of shit ,one of the nastiest politicians in America, jeering about Americans suffering from a “mental recession,” and becoming “a nation of whiners.”…

    Look who is whining for a bailout now…..or is that a giveaway?
    The Rules-Lets Play Wall Street Bailout

  • socrates

    Update- The declining American Empire.

    The recent developments in the Financial meltdown of Wall Street and political developments in Georgia indicate the essential soundness of Chalmers Johnson’s prediction that US is in a state of decline.

    The extraordinary developments of the last few days indicates the fragility of US. She is a borrower of funds and not a net lender.The countries that are preventing the crash of the dollar are China, Russia and the Petro dollar countries.China and Russia are ideological rivals to US who may support the US economy only if US sacrifices its geopolitical interests in the world.

    Russia has already demonstrated in the Georgian conflict that US is powerless to exert power as she is in a financial mess of her own making.By signing defense pacts with South Ossetia and Abkhazia Russia has challenged the US role in the region.

    The adjustment of US from superpower status to that of a Great power in an increasingly multi polar world may be painful but necessary.

  • Cindy D

    When you use the path above for clubofrome.org you will need to do it manually. That is go to the homepage and then select archive, then select reports. If you try to enter the path into the navigation bar, as if it were a URL you will get a 404 error.

  • Cindy D

    It proves a social point – that the u.s. and other nations use unfairly large portions of the worlds resources.

    I’m not so sure I would agree that he’s saying “unfair.” Maybe that’s my bias. I don’t think it’s so much unfair as I think it’s scary that we won’t just let the world alone and stop meddling with it. There’s nothing wrong with leaving hunter-gatherers to be what they are or with leaving a population to be sustained at its natural level.

    What we do (not talking about Americans here, but about “civilized” people) is we go in and artificially raise the resources beyond any hope of what the local ecology can support.

    So, if I grow (by means of industrialized agriculture, which uses way more petroleum calories than what the food will eventually supply) and transport (more large petroleum usage) food to people who can only sustain themselves if I continue to supply them, then, what happens to them when I can’t afford to supply them?

    You see, when Dave, for example suggested that we would never make biofuel at the expense of food, he was talking about our food. He easily forgets about their food.

    It’s easy to forget that whatever the problems of peak oil they are not just our problems (but will become ours). Those who rely on us for food are one problem. Iran and North Korea need to plan for their energy needs too. That is another problem. There are countries I don’t think I would trust to implement the same safety protocol with nuclear energy that America would in the stress of crisis.

    There is short version of The Limits to Growth located on The Club of Rome’s website. Akismet reads the link as spam so I will just give a path: clubofrome.org/archive/reports (It’s the first report in the list.)

    The Club of Rome is a global think tank and centre of innovation and initiative. As a non-profit, non govermental organisation (NGO), it brings together scientists, economists, businessmen, international high civil servants, heads of state and former heads of state from all five continents who are convinced that the future of humankind is not determined once and for all and that each human being can contribute to the improvement of our societies.

    Quote from The Limits to Growth Short Version:

    “Is the future of the world system bound to be growth and then collapse into a dismal, depleted existence? Only if we make the initial assumption that our present way of doing things will not change. We have ample evidence of mankind’s ingenuity and social flexibility. There are, of course, many likely changes in the system, some of which are already taking place.”

  • Cindy D

    LOL Ruvy!

    PETI,

    We have been feeding the 3rd world and wherever we can seeking to model them in our own image. When our dreams become their dreams and they become as powerful consumers of oil as we are, we have a problem. Because they are so poor it saves us.

    And thank you for your summary above. That is basically what Simmons is saying. He isn’t making concrete predictions but raising concerns that we need to make changes or look what could happen.

    He was also giving examples to show how population grows exponentially not linearly as most people think. So, a population with an annual growth rate of about 3%, doubles in 23 years.

    Another easy error is you overlooked the year that Simmons work was published. So using the figures from the CIA Factbook we have a population growth rate of 3.28 in Saudi Arabia. Not the growth rate at year 2007 of 2.06%, nor a projected future growth rate of 1.95%.

    The UN figures for world population forecasts, for example, are lower than the figures on their previous study.

  • Ruvy

    Cindy, PETI,

    I had to beg the Statistics professor to give me a ‘D’ instead of the ‘F’ I had so richly earned so that at long last I could graduate from college and take my BA home with me. Given that, I tend to stick with Mark Twain’s old saw that there are three kinds of untruths – lies, damned lies and statistics.

    When the two of you start tossing numbers around like you are, I usually close my eyes or look the other way. But the idea that there might be 26 billion Arabs just 200 miles from where I live gets even me nervous.

  • pleasexcuetheinterruption

    Yes sorry about the million/billion thing, don’t worry I don’t actually think Saudi Arabia has a higher population than China.

    Of course, he is up against Matthew Simmons, and no matter what one may think of his (Simmons’s) politics and credentials (adviser to George Bush, Investment Banker in the industry, and THE SINGLE individual (insider) who illuminated the situation with the potential of the Saudi oil fields for the government of these United States), he is still not very likely to be what PETI holds him to be–some idiot whose numbers can be taken apart in a brief reading by any nincompoop.

    I don’t actually think Mr. Simmons is trying to predict the population of China will be 2 billion, or the population of Saudi Arabia 45-80 million, or all the other nations he does the same thing for. And it’s not my numbers that disagree with him – it’s the UN’s and every available source. He’s not actually trying to predict what the population of China will be – he’s not actually predicting what he is saying will happen. I agree he is a smarter man than that. He’s simply proving a thesis that the earth will not sustain the last 50 years of population growth rates if 3rd world nations are going to start using as much oil per capita as the U.S. I don’t think he thinks either are actually going to happen. It proves a social point – that the u.s. and other nations use unfairly large portions of the worlds resources. And it proves world population growth cannot continue so quickly. But according to the U.N. it won’t.

  • Cindy D

    Ruvy,

    PETI made a simple mistake. He meant million and he wrote billion. He was probably tired.

    Perhaps someone should look at the numbers a bit more carefully….

    If I were him I would have a look at at least the numbers as I am about to show him where his calculations, in total, went wrong.

    Of course, he is up against Matthew Simmons, and no matter what one may think of his (Simmons’s) politics and credentials (adviser to George Bush, Investment Banker in the industry, and THE SINGLE individual (insider) who illuminated the situation with the potential of the Saudi oil fields for the government of these United States), he is still not very likely to be what PETI holds him to be–some idiot whose numbers can be taken apart in a brief reading by any nincompoop.

  • Clavos

    Lin Yutang,

    Sharon Stone is as you probably know, merely an actress; a well paid, but unimportant job requiring little or no intelligence to perform.

    Miss Stone and most of her fellow actors in Hollywood are among the least intelligent people in the United States.

    Anything she says can be taken as inane and of no importance.

  • Ruvy

    He assumes Saudi Arabia will have a population of 45-50 billion by 2030 (he even mentions 80 billion), when in 2008 the population was 26 billion, and the growth rate was 1.95% (CIA world factbook). Mathematically, if this continues the population would be only 40 billion, and the UN predicts it will be 37 billion (go to the UN website).

    I’m a better editor than I am a mathematician but Arabia with a population of 26 billion? Do Arab woman lay 1,000’s of eggs that the population of Arabia should explode from the millions to the billions? Is that what those dewy eyed creatures advertised at arablounge.com really are – insects?

    Perhaps someone should look at the numbers a bit more carefully….

  • Cindy D

    PETI

    I wish I had time to address your post tonight. But, it’s too late. I have started reading some of your information though. I’m sorry you lost your detailed post.

  • Cindy D

    #1186 was addressed to dave

  • Cindy D

    LOL, I’m sure since you have no idea what we’re talking about, you’ll be bound to have an opinion on it.

  • Lin Yutang

    Ms Sharon Stone recently made a comment that the earthquake in China was their Karmic fate as they oppressed Tibetans.

    Ms Stone would be well advised to look into the history of her own country which is full of bloodshed from the napalming and carpet bombing of peasants of Vietnam to the killing of thousands women and children of Iraq.

    Stone is reminded of a proverb- People living in glass houses should not throw stones.

  • Cindy D

    Dave,

    This discussion of limits of growth is both pointless and bizarre.

    I imagine if you have no idea what the conversation is about [and you don’t, again] that would be a reasonable estimation.

    Please figure it out on your own or ask Clav, at least he has some idea of the subject matter.

  • Cindy D

    Clav, By the way, you can read about Bjorn Lomborg here:

    The Skeptical Environmentalist: Accusations of Scientific Dishonesty

  • Cindy D

    Clav,

    RE: 1164

    For further clarification where noted see the Limits to Growth wikepedia entry

    Notably, several scientists and scholars have convincingly debunked the conclusions presented therein, specifically mentioning the scarcity of the data supporting them. These scientists, from respected institutions such as MIT, CalTech and Stanford, most certainly DID read the book AND analyzed and investigated the ideas presented. They concluded both in the 70s, after the first publication, and again in 2004, when the sequel was published, that the scholarship and reasoning were flawed, and in one opinion: “irresponsible nonsense.”…

    I will challenge your assumption that Since then, few if any, scholars or experts place any credibility in the Club of Rome OR The Limits To Growth. in a later post. The one where I will show you that the same ideas that are in Limits to Growth are not only much discussed in scholarly circles, but they are becoming more frequently discussed in the media.

    “Yale economist Henry C. Wallich labeled the book ‘a piece of irresponsible nonsense’ in a Newsweek editorial dated March 13, 1972. Wallich’s main complaints are that the book was published as a publicity stunt with great fanfare at the Smithsonian in Washington, and that there was insufficient evidence for many of the variables used in the model. According to Wallich, ‘the quantitative content of the model comes from the authors’ imagination, although they never reveal the equations that they used.’ Considering that the detailed model and Meadows’ et al justifications were not published until 1974 (two years after Limits to Growth) in the book Dynamics of Growth in a Finite World, Wallich’s complaint about “the peculiar presentation of their work and by their unscientific procedures” had merit at the time. [wikepedia]

    The truly convincing evidence, however, is easily interpreted, even by someone with undeveloped critical analysis skills, such as yourself, by simply looking around you, BECAUSE NONE OF THEIR PREDICTIONS HAVE COME TRUE. The world did NOT run out of oil in 1992, as predicted. True or not true, Cindy?

    The Limits to Growth never stated that it would. If you read the Simmons piece I posted for you, you will see that it is basically a bit of misinformation passed along over years about what the book said. (associated with various years 1990s, 1992, 2000) see:
    http://www.greatchange.org/ov-simmons,club_of_rome_revisted.pdf“>Revisiting the Limits to Growth: What The Limits to Growth Actually Said: page 13

    “Whether intended or not, the exponential index has often been interpreted as a prediction of the number of years until the world would “run out” of various resources, both by environmentalist groups calling for greater conservation and restrictions on use, and by skeptics criticizing the index when supplies failed to run out. For example, The Skeptical Environmentalist (page 121) states: “Limits to Growth showed us that we would have run out of oil before 1992.” What Limits to Growth actually has is the above table, which has the current reserves (that is no new sources of oil are found) for oil running out in 1992 assuming constant exponential growth.” [wikepedia]

    “…It should be noted…that the authors of the report [The Limits to Growth] accepted that the then-known resources of minerals and energy could, and would, grow in the future, and consumption growth rates could also decline.” [wikepedia]

    I own The Skeptical Environmentalist by Bjorn Lomborg, it doesn’t read like science. It is not considered “science” by numerous apparently respected scientists.

    This discussion of limits of growth is both pointless and bizarre. Claiming that capitalism is somehow defined by dependence on growth is a self-serving fiction which has no basis in truth. While expanding markets are good for growth, capitalism can function perfectly well in all sorts of other market conditions and certainly doesn’t require growth to be a successful economic system. In fact, some of the strongest and most sustainable capitalist models are based on relatively stable markets.

    Making a big issue of growth only makes sense if you’re trying to marginalize capitalism based on false criteria, presumably so you can push forward some other economic model. Hmmm. What could that be?

    Dave

  • Cindy D

    Thank you PETI for providing your sources.

    I will indeed be interested in examining them. As, this is what keeps a debate from being nothing more than a mudslinging fest. As far as your time invested–I told you in my first reply to you that I did not have the time to spend educating you from the ground up. If you wanted to understand you’d have to educate yourself to the level of being able to discuss the topic.

    I used to make a painstaking argument. I found it’s generally not worth my time on this forum. Most people who criticized simply had no qualms about credibility. Now, I don’t mind letting people make the choice to do the work themselves or simply cast vacuous aspersion. The choice is theirs.

  • socrates

    Dear Cindy,
    You have raised issues of great importance about the limits to growth.

    The best argument against capitalism with its obsession of growth, GDP and per capita figures is that unrestrained growth is not sustainable.

    Economic growth brings noise, pollution,traffic congestion, and degradation of fragile eco-systems.These costs were not factored in economics. The quality of life index which includes fresh air, clean drinking water, schools would be a better measure to fix whether growth is really helping us. Amartya Sen, the economist, led the way by advocating that quality of life should not be sacrificed in the empty pursuit of growth.

    The wide variety of choice paraded before the consumers is a pseudo one if the punitive costs are ignored.As Mishan puts it so well ‘As the carpet of increased choice is being unrolled before us by the floor, it is simultaneously being rolled up behind us by the yard.’

    I have books in my personal library books which articulate the environmental concerns very well.The titles which come to my mind are- The Costs of Economic Growth by Ezra. J. Mishan, Growth Fetish by Clive Hamilton and of course Economics- a new introduction by Hugh Stretton.

    These books are the best antidote to the stagnating orthodoxy that more and more growth is beautiful.

  • pleasexcuetheinterruption

    So if this is a pissing contest about who has cited more information, which is what you have made this into, then the four links you have provided are grossly insufficient.

  • pleasexcuetheinterruption

    1080 no links, no citations, no references

    1091 no links, no citations, no references

    1104 no links, no citations, no references

    1127 claim: “Every statistic I have cited comes from a credible source.” no links, no citations, no references

    1129 no links, no citations, no references

    1132 no links, no citations, no references

    1159 no links, no citations, no references

    1171 noticed a reference, haven’t actually had time to read this post.

    1080: U.S. GDP: CIA world factbook
    U.S. historical national debt as percent of GDP NOT HIGHER than historical standards (current 65%, Truman: 75%, Ike 70%) –u.s. not bankrupt at all

    1091: common sense, colander economics textbook

    1104: 1. 61% used for transport: wiki energy page
    2. Mazda mpg: Mazda website
    3. Other hybrid: Toyota website
    4. u.s. fleet mpg: wikipedia page on fuel efficiency
    5. current coal reserves: wiki coal page
    6. lifestyle changes: common sense
    7. 80 to 100 billion increase in wind/solar investment: wiki energy page
    8. current 80 mbpd: wiki energy page, Bartlett
    9. future mbpd: wiki energy page, Bartlett
    10. negative German population growth: CIA world factbook
    11. U.S. near zero population growth w/o immigration: CIA world factbook
    12. drop child/woman from over 5 to 2.62: wiki human population growth page
    13. 2.5 dollars more tax per person in Huntington beach when price of oil doubles: your quote + math
    14. U.S. coal reserves: wiki coal page

    1127: every fact cited in this post comes from the Bartlett video which you should be well acquanted with as you were the one who posted it.

    1129: logic and common sense

    1132: The information in points 1-3 of 1132 comes directly from your Chefurka article and uses pure reason to demonstrate 3 logical fallacies. Point 4 is obvious to anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of predicted oil production curves. Compare Chefurka’s to Bartlett’s. Points 5-6 require eyesight and logic. Point 7 requires familiarity with any oil curve prediction – they don’t end at 0, they slowly decline, but never reach 0.

    1159: The information in 1159 is directly from the Bartlett video, you should know.

    1171: 1.REALISTIC earth carrying capacity for humans: Campbell Biology [already cited]
    2. Shouldn’t apply carrying capacity to humans: link provided
    3. China population growth .2 bill not .7: UN website
    4. Saudi Arabia population growth 10 bill, not 20-60 bill: UN website
    5. births/woman currently and in 1950: wiki population growth page
    6. Logical fallacies of Simmons’ article: Simmons’ article

    There you have it Cindy, a detailed catalogue of all my sources. If you think anything is incorrect, go to the source and read for yourself. Otherwise stop embarassing yourself by calling into question the vast quantities of information I have bothered to research and post instead of referring people to 20 page articles and half hour movies.

  • Cindy D

    And yet you ignore all of my posts (1080, 1091, 1104, 1127, 1129, 1132, 1159, 1171) containing factual information. Were the links I provided faulty? Was MLA not good enough for you? Would you prefer APA style citations? Chicago? (PETI)

    1080 no links, no citations, no references

    1091 no links, no citations, no references

    1104 no links, no citations, no references

    1127 claim: “Every statistic I have cited comes from a credible source.” no links, no citations, no references

    1129 no links, no citations, no references

    1132 no links, no citations, no references

    1159 no links, no citations, no references

    1171 noticed a reference, haven’t actually had time to read this post.

  • pleasexcuetheinterruption

    And yet you ignore all of my posts (1080, 1091, 1104, 1127, 1129, 1132, 1159, 1171) containing factual information. Were the links I provided faulty? Was MLA not good enough for you? Would you prefer APA style citations? Chicago?

  • Cindy D

    Oh wait, I was hasty Clav. Perhaps I will address some points. Skimming what an awful thing to do. Give me a bit and I will reply.

  • Cindy D

    Clav,

    I skimmed your post (but didn’t bother reading it). It makes a lot of claims that as far as I know you dreamed up. Or, as far as I know, some other numskull dreamed up. Without references you could have gotten your arguments from any source at all.

    Saying something doesn’t make it so. I also have no faith in your ability to discern fact from hearsay. So, I won’t waste my time unless you quit addressing what you think of me and my ideas and debate the information with references.

    End of story.

  • pleasexcuetheinterruption

    Because there is no contrary evidence that I find for limits to growth, quite the contrary. There are only people doing what you are doing. Not reading something and then simply dismissing and ridiculing it because they don’t like what they think it says. If you have any evidence, whatsoever, I would love some.

    No one is disputing that there are limits to growth. There are obviously limits to growth in a finite space with finite resources (at least until we can inhabit other planets). What I am disputing are the actual estimates of the Simmons article and the other article (“the one with pictures”). Without even reading them (I have read both in detail), I know that they are not accepted by most experts. A quick check confirmed what I already knew, that some estimates of earth’s carrying capacity for humans are as high as 1 trillion, and the average is 15 billion (over twice the current population and almost 15 times bigger than the “article with pictures” claims).

    [Campbell, Neil A. and Jane B. Reece, Biology. 7th ed. San Francisco: Pearson, 2005.]

    Others, as I previously said, outright deny the application of carrying capacity to an organism that can alter its environment.

    As it is, I did read the Simmons and “article with pictures.” They both make faulty assumptions about population growth. Simmons says the population of China will grow .7 billion by 2030, most estimates say it will only grow .2 billion by 2050. He is off by over 300%.

    He assumes Saudi Arabia will have a population of 45-50 billion by 2030 (he even mentions 80 billion), when in 2008 the population was 26 billion, and the growth rate was 1.95% (CIA world factbook). Mathematically, if this continues the population would be only 40 billion, and the UN predicts it will be 37 billion (go to the UN website). Wrong again Mr. Simmons.

    Then he assumes the “50, possibly 80 billion people of Saudi Arabia” adopt an energy consumption per capita the same as the U.S. What basis is there for this assumption? He then uses this to justify Saudi Arabia’s energy consumption to increase from 2.1 million BOE/day, to “over 12 million” by 2030. Not going to happen.

    No where in his analysis does he mention the fact that the worldwide number of births per woman has dropped from 5.02 to 2.65 from 1950, to 2005. If we adopt a simplistic projection of the status quo rate of change in births/woman [which is what Simmons does], then in 30 years the number of births/woman will be less than 2 and we will have negative population growth (rapid negative population growth if you account for mortality rates).

    Again, all Simmons has done is take last century’s population growth and extrapolated it to the future (which is why he gets absurd numbers like 2 billion for the population of China) and assumed that all the poor counties (and 4 billion inhabitants) in the world adopt lifestyles similar to the U.S. Both are not going to happen.

    What are you just plain intellectually lazy? You can’t read the book, you can’t even read a short bit of informed discussion about the book, yet you can have an opinion about it?

    So I have read the book, and shown all the flawed assumptions.

    You are a waste of time. Believe whatever it is that you like, dear.

    I know it’s anoying when people actually read your ludicrous sources and go through all their flawed assumptions? You can’t keep going around citing them authoritativily anymore.

  • Possible, but unlikely, unless Chris was sleepwalking at the time!

  • It’s possible that both comment editors were working at the same time and they each deleted a different copy of it as the duplicate.

    Dave

  • pleasexcuetheinterruption

    No problem, thanks for the quick response.

  • PETI,

    I was on point yesterday evening. I did notice that the same comment of yours posted twice, and I deleted one of the dupes but left the other. However, I just scrolled up and you’re right, it has indeed vanished.

    Once they’re gone, unfortunately, they’re gone. I don’t have any explanation for you as to what might have happened: there’s no theoretical limit on the length of posts, so it wouldn’t be that.

    Unless the esteemed Mr Rose found some fault with it (and in that case, he would have excised the offending part, not the whole comment), I don’t know what else to tell you other than offer my apologies.

  • pleasexcuetheinterruption

    It was a very long post carefully showing the flawed assumptions of the Simmons article. Was it too long or something?

  • pleasexcuetheinterruption

    Why has my post been deleted two times now? I posted it yesterday afternoon and again yesterday evening. Now it’s gone again.

  • Clavos

    Cindy,

    Still more flaws in your reasoning, to wit:

    1. You make the unwarranted assumption that I have not read The Limits To Growth, and that I don’t understand it. Nothing I have written here is evidence of that. I have said that the predictions outlined in the book, and in its 30 year update published in 2004 have not occurred, which obviously throws into question the scholarship behind the predictions. Notably, several scientists and scholars have convincingly debunked the conclusions presented therein, specifically mentioning the scarcity of the data supporting them. These scientists, from respected institutions such as MIT, CalTech and Stanford, most certainly DID read the book AND analyzed and investigated the ideas presented. They concluded both in the 70s, after the first publication, and again in 2004, when the sequel was published, that the scholarship and reasoning were flawed, and in one opinion: “irresponsible nonsense.” Since then, few if any, scholars or experts place any credibility in the Club of Rome OR The Limits To Growth.

    The truly convincing evidence, however, is easily interpreted, even by someone with undeveloped critical analysis skills, such as yourself, by simply looking around you, BECAUSE NONE OF THEIR PREDICTIONS HAVE COME TRUE. The world did NOT run out of oil in 1992, as predicted. True or not true, Cindy?

    2. Again, the problem with this and most other predictions about peak oil or any mineral, is that most fail to take into account a myriad of mitigating factors, as I mentioned upthread several days ago. The further problem with buying too precipitously and without careful examination into these kinds of ideas is that the potential for calamitous disaster is too great. It is a common human trait to romanticize and glorify the lone prophet who goes against the conventional wisdom and struggles against the establishment, but it is seldom wise to do so without careful investigation of his ideas; too often, the prophets prove to be false.

    “In other words, I thought that the irrational and uninformed knee-jerk responses to Limits to Growth, etc. might be offset by the realization that even a Congressman is moved to present what is not yet accepted by the mainstream.”

    A nice thought, Cindy, and your faith in congressmen is touching. Over the years I’ve found congresspeople to be among the most uninformed and least trustworthy people in our country, however.

    “What I am asking is for is a discussion that advances anything but someone’s bullshit, uniformed, sock-puppet opinion.”

    An excellent goal, Cindy. Present us with an informed opinion to discuss.

    “I make an argument and provide my evidence.”

    Here, you touch on my X – Y example, which admittedly was a bit murky, though I think quite understandable. The argument you make is that the peak oil and limits to growth theories are in fact, true, and the “evidence” you present to prove your argument are the theories themselves.

    That’s a Circular Argument, Cindy, and proves nothing.

  • Cindy D

    lol very uncool strikeout, that should be reversed

  • Cindy D

    Clav,

    How can you actually believe, in the face of more than a century of evidence to the contrary, that Malthus was correct in his forecasts, or that the Club of Rome, after decades of contrary evidence also had it right?

    Because there is no contrary evidence that I find for limits to growth, quite the contrary. There are only people doing what you are doing. Not reading something and then simply dismissing and ridiculing it because they don’t like what they think it says. If you have any evidence, whatsoever, I would love some.

    Do you understand the difference between saying something is so and actually providing evidence?

    Matthew Simmons, in the link I posted above: Revisiting The Limits to Growth: Could The Club of Rome Have Been Correct After All?, explains and demonstrates that all the criticism he heard about The Limits to Growth led him to actually read it. Basically, he discovered that the people criticizing the book hadn’t actually read it, but had been passing on misinformation about what was in it for years. (Sort of why I am asking you for actual evidence Clav.)

    What are you just plain intellectually lazy? You can’t read the book, you can’t even read a short bit of informed discussion about the book, yet you can have an opinion about it? Where did you get your opinion Clav?

    There is a problem when people who have not actually read something feel qualified to speak about what is in it. This is what happened with Limits to Growth Hubbert’s Peak Oil Theory.

    People much like you Clav, decided Hubbert was a crank and just dismissed him without even bothering to inform themselves.

    And what is happening with the new Limits to Growth is that slowly the awareness is dawning, just like with peak oil theory.

    And yet you do believe that a congressman, not a scientist…

    Robert Hirsch is one of the scientists that Bartlett is quoting in one of the 4 studies that was done. I discovered Bartlett after reading Hirsch’s 2005 (see how much mitigation we have done since then?) report: PEAKING OF WORLD OIL PRODUCTION: IMPACTS, MITIGATION, & RISK MANAGEMENT

    So, the reasons I chose Bartlett were twofold:

    1) I felt this audience would perhaps afford credibility to Bartlett being a Liberty Republican and learning that the Congressional Peak Oil Caucus is trying to convince Congress. In other words, I thought that the irrational and uninformed knee-jerk responses to Limits to Growth, etc. might be offset by the realization that even a Congressman is moved to present what is not yet accepted by the mainstream.

    2) Bartlett’s presentation is a video summarizing the scientific work found in 4 reports. I often prefer to use video as it makes it more likely that anyone will actually look at my evidence before they discount it. As it’s easier to watch something than to read something.

    You keep demanding that PETI and others present “citations” for their data, yet you present the circularity of “Mr. X says that Y is so, and the proof is right here, in Mr. X’s essay that says that Y is so.”…Cindy, you are neither credible nor logical in your arguments.

    Am I supposed to understand that example? I have to admit I don’t. Why don’t you try supporting your argument with something I have actually said instead of using Mr. X and Mr. Y. Knocking down some Mr. X Mr. Y construction in your mind somehow discredits me?

    What I am asking is for is a discussion that advances anything but someone’s bullshit, uniformed, sock-puppet opinion. You know–a real discussion, like people with a brain have. Not familiar with it? Allow me to illustrate:

    I make an argument and provide my evidence. You then comprehend my evidence (like maybe by actually looking at it) and present your argument which demonstrates (with your own cited evidence) where I have gone wrong. Then, I continue on by doing the same and so it goes. This is what is called a debate in the real world.

    Clav, can you express to me in even a single comprehensible paragraph what even the most basic idea behind limits to growth is?

    Tossing out unsubstantiated criticisms and claims is what is called “hearsay.”

    [Personal attack deleted. Cindy, you’ve been quite gracious so far in your debating style. Please do yourself and others justice by not resorting to personal insults. Thanks – Assistant Comments Editor]

  • Clavos

    Cindy,

    One more try:

    How can you actually believe, in the face of more than a century of evidence to the contrary, that Malthus was correct in his forecasts, or that the Club of Rome, after decades of contrary evidence also had it right?

    And yet you do believe that a congressman, not a scientist, has it right with his bizarre, totally unsubstantiated and unproven and untestable theories?

    You appear to be a classic case of an individual who decides their stance on an issue beforehand and then cherry-picks whatever theories agree with their point of view to “substantiate” that stance, regardless of the authenticity or credibility of those sources.

    You keep demanding that PETI and others present “citations” for their data, yet you present the circularity of “Mr. X says that Y is so, and the proof is right here, in Mr. X’s essay that says that Y is so.”

    Cindy, you are neither credible nor logical in your arguments.

  • Cindy D

    PETI,

    You are a waste of time. Believe whatever it is that you like, dear.

  • pleasexcuetheinterruption

    I just thought of an amusing counterpoint.

    Cindy, you realize all of the articles you have linked to have relied upon assumptions of continuing present growth rates in population, energy usage, etc..

    Well, is it not equally fair then to assume continuing present growth rates in wind and solar power?

    If so, then in 30 years wind and solar will provide 366% more energy then all of the energy the world uses today. There is no energy crisis.

    [math: currently make up .14% of world energy use
    growth rate: 30% per year
    1.3 compounded for 30 years = 1.3^30
    multiply by .14% = 366%]

    Using the same calculations, in 50 years our energy derived from wind and solar will be 497 times greater than total worldwide energy consumption. There is no energy crisis.

    I have used the same exact techniques as both of your carrying capacity and limits to growth articles have done, which is assume present growth rates, which are obviously absurd assumptions.

  • I’d respond to you, PETI, but from what I can tell you’re one of the few people on this thread making any sense at all.

    Dave

  • pleasexcuetheinterruption

    My point was he didn’t cite any references. He didn’t cite any sources. Sources are what “citations” in a scholarly, academic, or other factual work are meant to cite.

    For the maybe 20th time, if you think something I wrote is factually incorrect, find a source directly to the contrary. If not, don’t challenge my credibility. Any intelligent reader of this thread would observe the vast quantities of information I have cited(Merriam Webster Definition #2 or 4 for those dimwits who are unclear) in posts 1080, 1091, 1104, 1127, 1129, 1132, and 1157 (all of which has gone unresponded), would be able to verify anything they did not believe, and plainly see your challenging of my credibility as merely an incapacity for intelligent debate.

  • Cindy D

    Thanks for posting that poem Clav.

    I think I will take a break and try to focus on some joy.

  • Cindy D

    i have to say, listening to Dave’s enthusiasm about his biofuel and solar chimney are a good sort of medicine.

  • Clavos

    @#1148,

    You are quite right, Cindy.

    “Thought would destroy their paradise.
    No more; where ignorance is bliss,
    ‘Tis folly to be wise.”

    Thomas Gray
    1742

  • Cindy D

    bliffle,

    i guess i was asking you for more than hope. please no top-down-communism, thank you very much. 🙂

    what i want is to be proven wrong with facts that i can look at and challenge and prove to myself are valid.

    but, i support hope. i am hopeful that i might find some hope. i need some.

  • Cindy D

    troll,

    i am really glad that we didn’t have a summer vacation from gas taxes. lulling people back to comfortable sleep is the last thing we need to do.

    i am looking for some hopeful signs…

    i am doing what i can. mostly learning about permaculture, moving to a smaller house in a warmer climate, as alas i am not rich. (not any more anyway)

  • Hell, I’ve got the generator and the plans for my solar chimney system. I just need to pour the concrete for the base and find some reasonably priced turbines and I’m on my way.

    Dave

  • bliffle

    Cindy,

    I couldn’t figure out what you were asking of me. Probably my inadequacy, not yours.

    It seems to me that we have good solutions within our grasp, if we have the courage and are resolute.

    It doesn’t even require any radical political change. Indeed, rather than top-down-communism (or some such horror) all it requires is that we stop propping up sunset industries with subsidies that we cannot afford.

    Then, our natural Yankee Ingenuity and practical application of technology that is readily available even to small capital investment will lead to a Better Tomorrow.

    What could be more natural?

  • troll

    the market is people and will lag if people lag…hydrogen tech exists now for car and home – solar – wind – biodiesel

    if you’ve got the bucks then create the demand…State investment will follow (or not)

    (yes Cindy – I have been involved with wind and solar since the 70s when I worked with a group salvaging old Jacobs wind generators and gathering used batteries from telephone repeater stations)

    with effort we – the world’s rich dirty bastards – could conceivably come up with solutions to offer the growing human horde

    …on the other hand who gives a fuck: 500 million or bust

  • Cindy D

    Clav,

    (for Cindy, because it’s obvious she doesn’t know the meaning of the verb “to cite”)

    That you would actually post that in a “supposedly” fact-based debate is so utterly telling that you will pluck at the flimsiest of straws to support your lack of ability to actually find ANY viable argument on the topic.

    Do I actually have to spell out for you what citation is in the academic world or will you just deny the existence of the entire academic world on the basis that you apparently know nothing about it?

    References are the foundation of ANY serious argument. References are called citations.

    Or will you write to Princeton University and tell THEM they have no idea what the word “cite” means.

    My point was he didn’t cite any references. He didn’t cite any sources. Sources are what “citations” in a scholarly, academic, or other factual work are meant to cite.

  • Cindy D

    I think this will be something worth reading, did I mention who Matthew R. Simmons is?

    Matthew R. Simmons, chairman and CEO of Simmons & Company International, is a prominent oil-industry insider and one of the world’s leading experts on the topic of peak oil. Simmons was motivated by the 1973 energy crisis to create an investment banking firm catering to oil companies. In his previous capacity, he served as energy adviser to U.S. President George W. Bush.

    Matthew Simmons believes the Club of Rome predictions were correct. Simmons is an advisor to the Oil Depletion Analysis Centre. He is a member of the National Petroleum Council and the Council on Foreign Relations. He believes a careful assessment of Saudi Arabian oil reserves is the most significant issue shaping petroleum politics.

    Simmons is the author of the book Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy. His examination of oil reserve decline rates helped raise awareness of the unreliability of Middle East oil reserves as the published reports have never been verified. (wikipedia, Matthew Simmons)

    Revisiting The Limits to Growth: Could The Club of Rome Have Been Correct After All?

    By the way, just to note, Congressman Bartlett is a Liberty Republican.

    So an investment banker and a Liberty Republican are amongst my most quoted sources. I also happen to disagree with Greg Palast on this issue. My friends on the left don’t like me any more than anyone on the right.

  • Clavos

    From Merriam-Webster Online: (for Cindy, because it’s obvious she doesn’t know the meaning of the verb “to cite”).

    Main Entry:
    cite
    Function:
    transitive verb
    Inflected Form(s):
    cit·ed; cit·ing
    Etymology:
    Middle English, from Anglo-French citer to cite, summon, from Latin citare to put in motion, rouse, summon, from frequentative of ciēre to stir, move — more at -kinesis
    Date:
    15th century

    1: to call upon officially or authoritatively to appear (as before a court)2: to quote by way of example, authority, or proof 3 a: to refer to; especially : to mention formally in commendation or praise b: to name in a citation4: to bring forward or call to another’s attention especially as an example, proof, or precedent (emphasis added)

  • Cindy D

    PETI:

    A few more optimistic quotes from Bartlett:

    “America is very good at that” (solving problems).

    “I think America is up to meeting that challenge” (with reference to solving the energy crisis).

    “I think we can lead the world in developing the technologies to take us away from fossil fuels.”

    You seem not to be familiar with rhetorical strategies in argument. I guarantee you that Congressman Bartlett is.

  • Cindy D

    bliffle,

    I am going to talk to you as a compatriot. I have a great respect for your views and will be happy to provide you with any references that you require. This is a chat about what I have found. When I actually tuned in to the “Peak Oil noise”…as that is what it was to me, I had a rude awakening.

    First of all, I said to myself–our government has access to all this information, surely they would prepare us for something like this. Second, I said to myself–businesses will make money on anything, ANYTHING!…surely the market will just accommodate alternatives when they are financially feasible.

    So, I embarked on some research to prove myself correct. I did not do so. I have learned to be skeptical of my own beliefs. I required hard evidence. While I found that solar energy (like with the zero-energy homes sounded great the cost–“After $18,500 in rebates and tax incentives, the total cost for all our energy-efficient improvements and our solar system, including labor, came to $43,000.” would be prohibitive almost all people to accomplish in the near future.

    PETI is right about what we use most of our oil for–transportation.

    We don’t have solar powered jets or solar powered ships. Solar power doesn’t take the place of what agriculture uses for their fertilizer.

    The organic gardeners were right all along. The pro-solar advocates, wind energy advocates, etc. etc. were right all along. The market didn’t want that.

    Now the problem is we are behind the curve. We will (MUST) use alternative energy to mitigate oil. The main problem is we likely do not have the time to change over before all hell breaks loose. We need to change everything we use now. We need to be able to afford to do it.

    But the longer we wait, the worse we will be. If it takes 10 years (that is the minimum I have read, others say 25-50 years) to change over our transportation, homes, etc over to an alternative, we may already be behind. If oil peaks say at 2016, we won’t be ready. Also, we have to be able to understand and choose what we will be ready for. Putting money into some alternatives will be wasted effort as they won’t pan out. (I am talking here about making the correct choices in investing in changing infrastructure, etc.)

    We also need to trust that other countries (whom we forget are also affected) will be able to practice the same level of safety–say with nuclear energy–that we would in an all out crisis. Say China.

    And if we cannot transition smoothly (due to lack of time to prepare), there will be crisis after crisis. We will be turning our money and attention to these.

    Once oil peaks, it will fail to meet demand. It will become more and more obvious that something is wrong. If the fucking lame brains that run the country will hear this, we will have more time to prepare. I am grateful for Congressman Bartlett. He is trying to convince the rest, based on 4 studies our government did. They may dismiss and scorn him as they (including anyone who counts) dismissed and scorned M. King Hubbert (the geophysicist the idea of peak oil originated with), and Thomas Malthus, and The Club of Rome’s Limits to Growth.

    Like Hubbert’s ideas about peak oil, which were ridiculed until it stared us right in the face…the others are still ridiculed. The others are describing what will happen to us if we do not act in time. If we wait for markets to decide to act, we will act too late to avoid great catastrophe. We will have 12-18 months to prepare what we need 10-50 years to prepare for.

    bliffle, I am waiting to be proven wrong. There is nothing I would like better. But I was taught in High Scool, by a very unusual teacher, to look at the evidence against what I believe, not just the evidence that supports it. So, I need to see evidence. I can’t find any that says we will prepare in time that I am not able to rip apart.

    If you have some. It will surely cheer me up. And I would appreciate having access to it.

    Thanks,
    Cindy

  • Cindy D

    PETI,

    I would add that alternative energy is our ONLY choice and hope. Which in no way negates the problems with it.

  • Cindy D

    PETI,

    I could link you to the hundreds of textbooks saying applying carrying capacity to an organism that possesses the ability to manipulate its environment and (even its own genetics) on a large scale is absurd.

    Okay I am game. Please do so.

    Every statistic I have cited [you did not cite anything, please see the definition of “citation”] comes from a credible source [what sources? sources are part of the definition of citations…you cited nothing]. I have used these sources to show that realistic alternatives exist,[what sources?] that oil production is not going to decline faster than we can adjust (30% by 2035-2060), and that these alternatives can successfully make up the gap in the future in response to higher prices and political initiative.

    Are you completely out of your mind?

    I have seen you pass off some figures without citation. I suspect these mysterious sources have a delusion in common with you.

    1) Correlation does not equal causation. He shows that oil correlates strongly with world population growth. He then concludes the increase in oil consumption enabled (or caused) this increase. Faulty logic.

    You apparently seem to think that correlation disproves causation.

    I would like to hear your explanation for the sudden increase in carrying capacity at around 1900.

    If you want to retain any credibility to your “views”/alarmism Cindy D, I suggest you respond to my posts 1127, 1128, 1129, and 1132 in detail.

    Keep using the word alarmism. You are demonstrating and actual fallacy. I suggest you cite something for me to respond to or stop wasting my time.

  • bliffle

    Lots of smoke here.

    All the energy the USA needs falls on the state of North Dakota every day. Gratis. Free. No charge. Courtesy of our friendly sun. Asymptotically, we have no need to pump oil out of the ground or temporarily convert sun energy to corn, or even grasses.

    What we need is better means to convert free sun energy to portable and storable forms, such as electricity, hydrogen, etc.

    So, should we evacuate NoDak (sending all the people therein to a Better Place, say Texas, to relocate) so that we can erect solar collectors uniformly across the state?

    No. Not necessary. Besides, some people LIKE NoDak and want to stay there! They often claim that the quality of life is high, that family values are strong, that the change of seasons is refreshing, and all kinds of other pretexts.

    Every parking lot and housing development in the nation is already intercepting solar energy sufficient for the community, but uselessly converting it to local heat. Indeed, we usually start our cars and immediately turn on the Air Conditioner to employ petrol to fight solar energy. Same thing with our homes and offices.

    All we need is proper technology to convert, store and transport solar energy. Everything is at our fingertips: solar collectors, energy storage, power networks, and even computers to allocate credits and debits and reconfigure distribution in order to employ traditional market forces to allocate resources, thus avoiding a need for dictatorial government commune or corporate monopoly to administer.

    All we need is the public political will to put it all together and get the projects started. Right now we don’t have the will. Paradoxically, we re-enforce the very vested interests that oppose such progress. We openly subsidize Oil companies while they are reaping record profits (so they are spared the nuisance of re-investing retained earnings in their own business) and we subsidize inefficient reactionary auto and truck makers with slightly more hidden subsidies.

    To get the public will to change the situation we need personal will first. We have to abandon personal shibboleths that have been distorted by propagandists to go against their very goals. For example, we have to stop protecting established private oil companies with extravagant public taxes and national debts. Or that a Politically Correct bureaucracy under control of the Green Party will be able to Do No Evil (think Google).

    But if we waste our efforts defending either of the archaic models of the past, Communism and Capitalism, we are lost. Anyway, who said that those two impostors are the only choices? they don’t even form a true dichotomy: they are not Exclusive or Exhaustive.

    Think for yourselves. Difficult, even dangerous, but necessary.

  • Songlines

    The U.S and the rest of the world have squandered away a great opportunity to be independent of the rag-heads sitting on the oil spigots in the Middle East during and after the last oil crisis. Nalle I agree with your assessment that alternative sources of energy should be tapped and tapped soon. But i have serious reservations about bio-diesels simply because of the socio-economic costs… unless you are saying humans are expendable.

    Please follow that link to Sharon Astyk’s article provided in #1137. The author observes… the reason that cane-based Ethanol can fuel such a large percentage of Brazilian vehicles is that Brazilians use less than 10% of the oil that Americans do (Maciel, ASPO-USA 2006 Talk).

    She also adds Brazil is a poor parallel in many ways, because of its low consumption; producing as much sugarcane ethanol as Brazil (which would be difficult, given that much of the US is not suited to sugarcane production) would provide the smallest drop in our gigantic bucket. And there are other, more disturbing issues. Brazil has been encouraging massive stripping of the rainforests in order to grow grain. So the reason Brazil was able to keep its grain yields up was because it was transforming rainforests into crop land at the same time that it was turning farmed land into ethanol. This was only possible because Brazil had rainforest to exploit, and could not afford to care about the environmental consequences either for Brazil or for the world as a whole. For nations without rainforests remaining to slash and burn, biofuels will exact a cost in food sufficiency.

  • There’s also some sort of a factual disconnect going on here. According to an article at IPS News, Brazil plans to gear up to produce enough ethanol to fill 10% of world demand for gasoline without cutting more forest, using more land or reducing current food production. This is with only 6.94% of its land under cultivation, about a third of the arable land area in the US. If the US were to follow the same model, the result would be enough ethanol or other biofuels to meet 40% of the world’s fuel needs.

    A 40% reduction in the consumption of petroleum would have enormous impact in delaying any possible shortages and creating long-term sustainability and energy independence. I don’t see where there can be any sensible argument against it.

    Dave

  • Songlines, you have lots of reasons why biofuels are not the answer, but you have no alternatives to offer that are any better.

    Making biodiesel at the expense of food is a bogus argument, because food is always going to be an agricultural priority. You can’t sell your biofuels if everyone starves to death.

    Obviously no single element is going to solve all our problems by itself. But the combination of the more efficient biofuels with engines which get substantially better gas mileage, plus more public transportation and thus reduced vehicle use per capita, the problems ought to be solvable. It’s certainly something worth working on as part of the overall energy picture, to help sustain and transform the current system until such a time as better alternatives become available.

    Just like drilling in ANWR and opening up other oil resources, it’s one piece of the puzzle of how we’ll keep things going for a few more years while more and better solutions can be found.

    Just writing biofuels off and giving up leaves us with less time to find permanent solutions and more hardship and potential for disaster in the meantime.

    It’s easy to identify problems, but if you aren’t willing to act on solutions which, though imperfect, help to mitigate the problem, then you’re just wasting everyone’s time.

    Dave

  • Songlines

    Research has shown that there isn’t simply enough land fallow or otherwise for production of biofuel… even giving allowance to higher EROEI ratios the amount of land available is woefully short of what is actually needed. Current statistics show that even if all of the world’s farm land were to be dedicated to biofuel it still wouldn’t satiate the thirst for energy.Where’s the land for food then?!

    That is why i gave the example of Britain. Even if all of Britain’s farm land were to be converted to fuel production there would still be a short-fall… all cars and buses in the United Kingdom on biodiesel would require 25.9 million hectares, but England has no more than 5.7 million hectares of farmland in total. and Britain even though an industrialised country uses far less energy than does the U.S.

    This would require no more effort than returning to cultivation a third of the former farmland allowed to go fallow since 1900. With modern technology and cheap immigrant labor that ought to be a snap to accomplish

    Perhaps you should elaborate how this plan can be implemented… Sharon Astyk writing in the Energy Bulletin says there are issues of ethics involved. Ethics of Biofuels “The impact of biofuels on world hunger can be reduced to simple land use mathematics. For example, were we to convert all 179,000,000 hectares of arable land in the US to biofuel production, we might be able to meet much of our present energy needs. We would, however, grow no food, and we would strip our soil even more severely than we have thus far.” And as it is being practiced right now, biofuel production also increases soil and water depletion, desertification, and atmospheric carbon.

    She also adds…

    Biofuels cannot and must not be a strategy for maintaining the present situation. Any biofuels strategy we use must operate in conjunction with significant changes in the way we live, if it is to have any impact at all. Anyone who tells you that we can run all our cars on biodiesel or ethanol is out of their minds. The issue is simple arithmetic.

    Use of biodiesel at the expense of food is not ethical.

  • Given the large amount of potentially usable farmland in the US we could certainly cultivate fuel crops and also produce sufficient corn for food at the same time. It’s also not as if we’re destroying valuable habitat or virgin forest. This is all land that’s been cultivated before when our methods were less efficient. It would just be a race to get the land under cultivation before someone builds condos on it.

    Dave

  • pleasexcuetheinterruption

    So where’s the problem then? This would require no more effort than returning to cultivation a third of the former farmland allowed to go fallow since 1900. With modern technology and cheap immigrant labor that ought to be a snap to accomplish.

    And not eating corn or any other corn derived products (of which there are many). It would supplement remaining oil supplies though.

  • To produce enough corn-based ethanol to meet current U.S. demand for automotive gasoline, we would need to nearly double the amount of land used for harvested crops, plant all of it in corn, year after year, and not eat any of it.

    So where’s the problem then? This would require no more effort than returning to cultivation a third of the former farmland allowed to go fallow since 1900. With modern technology and cheap immigrant labor that ought to be a snap to accomplish.

    You also conveniently look only at corn-based ethanol. How about Sugarcane with an EROEI of about 10 to 1 or Switchgrass with an EROEI of 8.6 to 1, both comparable to gasoline. And remember, the EROEI of gasoline is dropping rapidly. 40 years ago it was 100 to 1. Now it’s down as low as 6 to 1. Within a generation it will probably be down to 2 to 1. That will require more fuel efficient vehicles and it will mean that the lower EROEI fuels will be competitive.

    Dave

  • pleasexcuetheinterruption

    If you want to retain any credibility to your “views”/alarmism Cindy D, I suggest you respond to my posts 1127, 1128, 1129, and 1132 in detail.

  • pleasexcuetheinterruption

    Also Cindy D,

    The carrying capacity and overshoot article is utterly bogus. The article you linked to by Chefurka (you know “the one with pictures) is completely delusional. I could link you to the hundreds of textbooks saying applying carrying capacity to an organism that possesses the ability to manipulate its environment and (even its own genetics) on a large scale is absurd. But here’s some of the more obviously absurd parts of the article:

    1) Correlation does not equal causation. He shows that oil correlates strongly with world population growth. He then concludes the increase in oil consumption enabled (or caused) this increase. Faulty logic.

    2) The world population actually increased at the same rate from 1800 to 1900 as it did from 1900 to 2000. He concludes the increased population from 1900 to 2000 is due to oil. What then does he attribute the increase from 1800 to 1900 to? And what reason is their to assume this or a similar rate of growth would have continued from 1900 to 2000 even without oil? None.

    3) “Humans use of oil has quadrupled the earths carrying capacity since 1900.” Wrong. The population was growing just as quickly before 1900 as after. When oil production declined significantly in the early 80s, it didn’t even cause a blip in world population growth.

    4) He adopts a prediction on the decline curve far more pessimistic than any expert in the field. I would bet 1,000 dollars world oil production is more than 30mbpd in 22 years.

    5) He ignores all the literally billions of new technologies invented since 1900 and oil’s first use, when the population was 1.6 billion. These new technologies alone (even without oil) may have increased carrying capacity to 10, 20 40 billion.

    6) The model assumes there are no alternatives to using oil in agriculture, transportation or heating. Could not be farther from the truth.

    7) Assumes there is zero oil left. Absolutely an absurd prediction. In 50 or 100 years when oil becomes exceedingly scarce and expensive it will probably be allocated to those few uses where we have not found alternatives. In many cases where liquid fuels are absolutely necessary, they can be manufactured by net energy loss systems using other non-renewable or renewable resources. There is never going to be a point when there is absolutely no oil left to perform the most vital activities.

    The fact that you even entertain such an absurd notion demonstrates how easily you are influenced by the most absurd “experts,” when literally hundreds of thousands of equally or superiorly qualified individuals disagree. It’s as if you are searching for the most extreme positions to fullfill some kind of need for self-justification and importance.

    Most intelligent people agree population growth is a problem. Something may need to be done about it in the future, but anyone predicting 5 billion people to die because of declining oil production is just delusional.

  • Songlines

    According to GRAIN, a Europe-based NGO that advocates the protection of agricultural biodiversity, if the United States dedicated its whole corn and soy harvests to make fuel, it would cover less than one-eighth of its oil demand and barely 6% of its diesel demand. The figures are even more sobering considering the United States grows around 44% of the world’s corn—more than China, the European Union, Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico combined. This means that if world corn production were to be quadrupled and dedicated entirely to ethanol production, it could satisfy U.S. demand, but would leave the rest of the world’s motor vehicle fleet still running on oil, while drivers starved.

    The situation in Europe does not look much better. In his 2007 book Heat: How to Stop the Planet from Burning, British researcher George Monbiot calculates that running all cars and buses in the United Kingdom on biodiesel would require 25.9 million hectares, but England has no more than 5.7 million hectares of farmland in total.

    World agrofuel production must be quintupled to merely keep up with rising energy demand, according to the Interamerican Development Bank report “A Blueprint for Green Energy in the Americas.” If this is achieved, agrofuels will cover 5% of world energy demand by 2020.

    Various Latin America-based organizations, including Oilwatch South America and the Latin American Network against Tree Monocultures declared in 2006 that “energy crops will expand … at the expense of our natural ecosystems. Soy is projected to be one of the main sources for diesel production, but it is a fact that soy monocultures are the main cause of the destruction of native forest in Argentina, the tropical Amazon rainforest in Brazil and Bolivia, and the Mata Atlántica in Brazil and Paraguay.”

    “Sugarcane plantations and ethanol production in Brazil are the business of an oligopoly that utilizes slave labor,” said the declaration, titled “The Land Should Feed People, Not Cars.” “Palm oil plantations grow at the expense of jungles and territories of indigenous populations and other traditional populations of Colombia, Ecuador, and other countries, increasingly oriented to biodiesel production.”

    One of the signatory organizations, the World Rainforest Movement, affirmed in early 2007 that “the cultivation of these fuels means death. Death of entire communities; death of cultures; death of people; death of nature. Be these oil palm or eucalyptus plantations, be these sugarcane or transgenic soybean monoculture plantations, be they promoted by ‘progressive’ or ‘conservative’ governments. Death.”

    “All of these crops, and all of this monoculture expansion, are direct causes of deforestation, eviction of local communities from their lands, water and air pollution, soil erosion, and destruction of biodiversity,” stated GRAIN in 2007 in a manifesto titled “Stop the Agrofuels Craze!” “They also lead, paradoxically, to a massive increase of CO2 emissions, due to the burning of the forests and peat lands to make way for agrofuel plantations.”

  • Songlines

    Corn is an inefficient source of biofuel, certainly. Yet there’s an enormous amount of land in the US which is not under cultivation and could be. We use 1/4 of the land today that we were farming 100 years ago, and that could change. That’s a lot of biofuel, especially if it’s made more efficiently than converting corn to ethanol.

    Lest we fool ourselves into thinking that biodiesel is the way of the future,it is time to consider the real facts.

    The United States annually consumes more fossil and nuclear energy than all the energy produced in a year by the country’s plant life, including forests and that used for food and fiber, according to figures from the U.S. Department of Energy and David Pimentel, a Cornell University researcher.

    let’s not be suckered by the promoters of biofuel alternatives like corn ethanol and soy biodiesel.

    Large companies that stand to reap billions in subsidies and tax breaks from these energy “sources” are selling them as the way to a healthy planet and energy independence for the United States. For two reasons, don’t believe it.

    First, consider “energy return on energy invested,” or EROEI. This is how much energy we “earn” for every unit of energy we “spend” to get it.

    Gasoline’s EROEI ranges between 6-to-1 and 10-to-1, says Cutler Cleveland, director of the Center for Energy and Environmental Studies at Boston University. In other words, we get anywhere from six to 10 gallons of gasoline for every gallon we use to find oil, pump it out of the ground and refine it. But the EROEI of corn-based ethanol, the most common U.S. biofuel, is a mere 1.34-to-1, the Agriculture Department says. So even though an acre of corn can make 360 gallons of ethanol, only 90 gallons of that is “new” fuel.

    Expand this to a larger geographic scale. Researchers at the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics calculate that planting the entire state of Iowa to corn and using it for ethanol would give us enough new fuel for about five days’ worth of U.S. gasoline use. For policy-makers, this should be a red flag signaling that even enormous increases in ethanol production would do basically nothing to improve America’s energy independence.

    Second, consider the environmental effects of biofuels.

    The corn used to make the ethanol at your local gas pump exacts a heavy price from land and water. The fertilizer required for high corn yields starts as a resource, but once it leaves farm fields — and most does — it essentially becomes poison, polluting lakes and rivers, harming drinking water. Corn production also uses actual poisons in the form of pesticides, and these too can end up in our water and even our food.

    And corn plants have wimpy roots that do a poor job of preventing erosion. Millions of tons of superb, irreplaceable Midwestern soils are lost from fields every year because of corn.

    And other biofuels? Soybean-based biodiesel has an EROEI of about 1.9 to 1, according to University of Minnesota professor David Tilman and his colleagues. That’s better than corn ethanol, but still a poor return, and soybeans carry much of corn’s environmental baggage.

    An unproven form of biofuel production would wring several forms of energy, including ethanol, from grass, tree pulp and other plant material we can’t eat. No one yet makes fuel this way with an acceptable EROEI. Efficiency might improve over time, but the environmental goodness of the resulting fuel will depend on the kinds of plants used.To produce enough corn-based ethanol to meet current U.S. demand for automotive gasoline, we would need to nearly double the amount of land used for harvested crops, plant all of it in corn, year after year, and not eat any of it. Even a greener fuel source like the switchgrass President Bush mentioned, which requires fewer petroleum-based inputs than corn and reduces topsoil losses by growing back each year, could provide only a small fraction of the energy we demand.

    The corn and soybeans that make ethanol and biodiesel take huge quantities of fossil fuel for farm machinery, pesticides and fertilizer. Much of it comes from foreign sources, including some that may not be dependable, such as Russia and countries in the Middle East.

    Corn and soybean production as practiced in the Midwest is ecologically unsustainable. Its effects include massive topsoil erosion, pollution of surface and groundwater with pesticides, and fertilizer runoff that travels down the Mississippi River to deplete oxygen and life from a New Jersey-size portion of the Gulf of Mexico.

    Amongst other things improving fuel efficiency in cars by just 1 mile per gallon — a gain possible with proper tire inflation — would cut fuel consumption equal to the total amount of ethanol federally mandated for production in 2012.

    Rather than chase phantom substitutes for fossil fuels, we should focus on what can immediately both slow our contribution to global climate change and reduce our dependence on oil and other fossil fuels: cutting energy use.

    We must move beyond fossil fuels. But biofuels are not the answer.

  • pleasexcuetheinterruption

    Cindy D

    There are no alternatives that are viable solutions at this time. It will take forthought and time to use the alternatives that have limited potential to their maximum effectiveness. 10 years prior to the peak is the absolute minimum suggested based on what we know now.

    This kind of language is entirely arbitrary and caries no weight in an intelligent discussion. What do you mean there are no alternatives that are viable solutions at this time? You mean doubling car fuel efficiency, doubling, or tripling personal car occupancy, increasing nuclear, coal, wind, solar, and hydroelectric power, lifestyle changes etc etc etc are not viable alternatives? OF COURSE THEY ARE. And they WILL reduce fuel consumption DRAMATICALLY. And they WILL occur naturally in response to higher prices and political action.

    What “problem” are these alternatives not able to solve? You haven’t even defined the problem yet. If the problem is oil magically disapears, well then I agree, these alternatives won’t help enough. If the problem is oil decreases 30% in 30 years, well then these alternatives ARE enough.

    And this 10 years number is entirely arbitrary. What do we have to start doing 10 years before the peak? Start building new efficient cars and trains? We already are. Start developing new efficient technologies? We already are. We have to completely replace our entire infrastructure based on renewable energy sources? Well no we haven’t done that yet..

    Besides, you fail to comprehend the peak is entirely symbolic. It has no real meaning! We have already had a fuel shortage for decades! Demand has been skyrocketing, while production has grown slowly and stalled. There have been no dire consquences. Oil production hitting the top of the curve is entirely symbolic.

  • pleasexcuetheinterruption

    Again, you seem to equate lack of alarmism with not wanting to do anything about the problem. If Bartlett was in my district I would gladly vote for him (based on this issue alone). That’s just naive and counterproductive. I suggest you stop. I know rejecting the system can be a self-fullfilling, self-justifying, exciting ride, but when we’re talking about results, ehh not so much.

  • pleasexcuetheinterruption

    Cindy D,

    I have watched all of Bartlett’s videos, I watched the Hirsch video, and I read the carrying capacity + population overshoot link you provided. If you have any other information, I would gladly look at it.

    I objected to using Bartlett as a source because a congressman is not a valid primary source. He is a politician. His video is very imformative, but it is also political. The Bartlett quote “The economic, social, and political costs will be unprecedented.” is not a Bartlett quote. It’s Bartlett quoting Hirsch.

    I find nothing in the Hirsch video, or the Bartlett video that justifies your alarmism. The only thing which could possibly justify it is the quote “The economic, social, and political costs will be unprecedented.” However, I would interpret this as a political comment used to help garnish political support for a worthwhile cause.

    The evidence in the Bartlett video actually supports my position that we will successfully adjust, although at considerable (not catastrophic) economic costs. In one section, he discusses the rapid growth of renewable energy sources (30% per year for wind and solar) and his optimism for their use in the future. In another, he discusses that we can halve fuel consumption for personal automobiles by putting two in a car, or if your vehicle got 40mpg instead of 20mpg “both of which are very doable with a little planning.” (We could quarter it by doing both). He expresses his optimism about using tar sands. He expresses his optimism about oil shale (more potential oil in them than we have consumed in history). He expresses his belief that the free market will exploit these reserves. “As oil goes up…the more expensive oil gets, the more sources there of oil because you can now use sources of oil that would have been prohibited in costs with oil at lower prices.” That is exactly what I have said in my previous posts, to which you so strongly objected. He says “nuclear could and probably should grow.”

    A few more optimistic quotes from Bartlett:

    “America is very good at that” (solving problems).

    “I think America is up to meeting that challenge” (with reference to solving the energy crisis).

    “I think we can lead the world in developing the technologies to take us away from fossil fuels.”

    I think your approach to this problem is counterproductive. By attacking people like me who express their belief that capitalism and democracy will solve these problems you only make yourself into an alarmist. Let me be clear, Dave, Clavos and I (in varying degrees) are all in favor of doing something about this problem (as any informed person should be). Exagerated predictions of catastrophe do not necessarily lead to increased political response. Instead they generally lead marginalization and decreased political action on the issue. You can see this phenomenon clearly in the global warming debate.

    You presume to know more by reading newspapers, here and there, than some of the most important minds discussing the subject.

    Every statistic I have cited comes from a credible source. I have used these sources to show that realistic alternatives exist, that oil production is not going to decline faster than we can adjust (30% by 2035-2060), and that these alternatives can successfully make up the gap in the future in response to higher prices and political initiative.

    There are many experts out there. You are selectively chosing which experts you listen to, and even then you have a one-sided interpretation (as I showed with Bartlett). Some think oil production is going to increase for another 30 years. Others think the decline will be slower than others. You are selectively chosing some of the most alarmist experts and politicians. Your example about the California mayor proved nothing, as I pointed out the difference in budget when gas prices doubled could be made up by 2 dollars a day in tax money. Being alarmist does not necessarily equate with being more informed, as you seem to think.

  • pleasexcuetheinterruption

    PETI, you have failed to adopt the proper attitude of alarmism. You’re not supposed to look for solutions, you’re supposed to run around holding your head and screaming and then collapse in a quivering pile of despair and hopelessness.

    Dave

    I tried. I ended up going downstairs and eating ice cream. I just couldn’t get that worked up over it.

    Who ever heard of applying carrying capacity to an animal which possesses the ability to modify and intentionally manipulate its own environment? Any realistic and qualified biologist would laugh at the idea of applying carrying capacity to humans.

  • Amended for accuracy:- “Chris Rose is mostly a subject of kind-hearted derision” in the fevered and largely imaginary world Dave Nalle inhabits. What’s that called again? Oh yes, the Republic of Dave, population 1.

    For the record, I think Mike W and Dave Nalle are as bad, and misguided, as each other. A marriage made in political heaven or hell? 😉

  • Mike W

    when i need your valuable advice I’ll remember to ask for it .

  • Mike, what you don’t seem to get is that Chris Rose is mostly a subject of kind-hearted derision for anything but his comment editing, and by repeatedly associating yourself with him you make very clear how seriously people should take you.

    Dave

  • Re: 1116, Oh Cindy-Cindy-CINDY! Have you any idea of how thin the ice is that your walking on?

    I’ll say a special prayer for you tonight…

  • Mike W

    Cindy,see#779,don’t you just feel like Rose sometimes?….

    Like many people he’s kind of stuck in a rut and seems incapable of updating his mental framework, more’s the pity.

    It’s also true that he regularly pulls off the classic doublethink of considering his own views as the product of reason whilst decrying the views of others as dogma or extreme.

    Dave is also being either disingenuous or simply daft when he claims not to be right wing; to my way of thinking his political mental map is firmly stuck in the late 20th century, which makes most of the things he says seem absurd.

    Now run along and write some more of your deliriously dated political screeds

    The real tragedy of the Nalle experience is that he is so arrogantly smug and complacent as to think he’s quite smart…

    The truth of the matter is that he’s just another one of those who pays lip service to intelligence whilst actually just repeating dogma like a machine. The only way you lose readers is when they stop following what you say because it is so dim.

    As to shameless; you’re arrogant, elitist, complacent, unbelievably patronising and as thick as a stick. Shameless? I think the case is proven but I’m sure you won’t even consider the possibility, you know, because you just get everything so right.

    Some people receive and transmit but you are just simply permanently stuck on transmit, to such an extent that you ignore much of what people say to you and just respond dogmatically and robotically. Just because you say so doesn’t make it so Dave, though of course you can never admit that.

    As the old saying goes, empty vessels make the most noise and, as the most frequent commenter to the site by a long way, you are easily the loudest, if not the most tuneful.

    All that’s left is your selective and subjective prejudice against people from certain parts of the political spectrum, a fact you are apparently incapable of recognising…

  • Growing corn or any other crop as biofuel locks up land towards production of fuels which would otherwise have gone towards the production of food.We are witnessing an unprecedented rise in food price inflation partly because of this diversion.

    Corn is an inefficient source of biofuel, certainly. Yet there’s an enormous amount of land in the US which is not under cultivation and could be. We use 1/4 of the land today that we were farming 100 years ago, and that could change. That’s a lot of biofuel, especially if it’s made more efficiently than converting corn to ethanol.

    Plus the truth is that the amount of corn being consumed for ethanol is not sufficient to account for the increase in corn prices, and it also does nothing to explain other food shortages like the rice shortage, which has zero to do with biofuels. Though the latest news seems to be that the ‘worldwide food crisis’ doesn’t really exist.

    Dave

  • That is rich Dave. Whose opinion is it I read on blogcritics? Are you stealing other people’s opinions?

    When necessary. But my point is that you read one or two things and think that they form the entirety of my thinking on issues of energy sustainability, assuming that I don’t understand perfectly well that it’s a much more complicated issue that requires more than a single solution.

    Of course I have read your proposals. None of them address the issues I made above. So stop keeping all that “informed” opinion in your head and write some of it down.

    The ‘issues’ you raise above are nothing but arrogant assertions and denials. I don’t really see anything substantive to respond to.

    Here is a riddle Dave. If you run your car on biodiesel how much petroleum will you be using?

    Much less, but you can never get entirely away from it as it’s used to make plastics. Since I use WVO based B100 manufactured locally some of the other secondary considerations are minimized.

    Here’s another. How much sunlight are you going to use to manufacture a solar panel?

    I know you think that wording things this way is clever, but it’s just sophomoric. There’s a reason why some of the largest oil companies are also among the largest manufacturers of solar panels. In this area I’m quite intrigued by solar driven wind towers. I think they have a lot of potential and they don’t require the expensive materials or manufacturing of solar panels.

    When you can answer those questions, then you’ll be informed.

    When you can ask somewhat less trite questions you might be worth discussing these things with.

    Here’s my point in a nutshell. We need to exploit every possible viable alternative, starting with drilling for oil everywhere we can and building new nuclear plants so that we can continue to function as new technology becomes more viable. If you stake everything on new and unproven technology you’re inviting disaster. Anyone who claims to be concerned about our energy problems and is opposed to nuclear or expanded oil drilling shouldn’t be taken seriously.

    Dave

  • Songlines

    The larger picture is also that we are witnessing a shift in economic power and might in motion as a result of the elites in the West bungling where it hurts most…their business.The sub-prime crisis is only a catalyst which has unravelled all the weaknesses of the present way of doing things…free markets,globalisation,de-regulation et al.The bail out of Bear Sterns has proved that welfare states exist only for the elites.

    A good comment by Philip Stephens in the Financial Times, “Uncomfortable truths for a new world of them and us,” is a polite and understated wake-up call to the fading former imperialist of the West.Stephens argues that the advanced economies are psychologically ill prepared for the shift in power and economic might that is in motion and are too often assigning responsibility to third world countries for phenomena where the West is far from blameless.

    Truths for a new world of them and us

  • Songlines

    Growing corn or any other crop as biofuel locks up land towards production of fuels which would otherwise have gone towards the production of food.We are witnessing an unprecedented rise in food price inflation partly because of this diversion.

    Looking at the larger picture biofuels actually contribute to declining agricultural production.

  • Cindy D

    Dave,

    That is rich Dave. Whose opinion is it I read on blogcritics? Are you stealing other people’s opinions?

    Of course I have read your proposals. None of them address the issues I made above. So stop keeping all that “informed” opinion in your head and write some of it down.

    Here is a riddle Dave. If you run your car on biodiesel how much petroleum will you be using?

    Here’s another. How much sunlight are you going to use to manufacture a solar panel?

    When you can answer those questions, then you’ll be informed.

  • The solutions you are proposing have been under discussion in the real world (outside of stock market journals). Your opinion is uninformed by those discussions. You just look foolish.

    Cindy, you clearly have no idea what my opinion is or what it’s informed by or what I’ve proposed on the issue of solving our energy problems, so by calling me foolish you just make yourself look like an idiot. You might want to go read some of my past articles on the subject to reduce the level of your ignorance.

    Dave

  • Songlines

    #1075 is Europe in the Stone Age? maybe they aren’t there just yet but they are definitely complaining. Irate Europeans Protest the Soaring Price of Gasoline

  • Clavos

    You could read The Club of Rome’s Limits to Growth

    I could. I could also read Paul Ehrlich (and did, when I was young and naive), but they’re as wrong as Malthus was; so why bother?

    BTW, your “peak oil,” “carrying capacities,” and “overshoot” theories/predictions make the same basic mistake Malthus did: they assume nothing will change between now and when the oil runs out; no new deposits discovered, no R&D on alternative fuels, new extraction methods, more efficient vehicles, greater energy efficiency, no nada, yet all of these things are already in the works. Honda will roll out a Hydrogen cell-powered auto next month-uses oil only for lubrication, and it’s synthetic.

    Another of Malthus’ biggest errors was the assumption that, as people and nations grew wealthier, thanks to the Industrial Revolution, their birth rates would increase. In fact, the opposite is true.

    The theories you cite commit the same kinds of errors.

    History is full of Doom-and-Gloom prophets. None have been right yet.

  • Cindy D

    Clavos,

    You read Malthus’ An Essay on the Principle of Population? And kept us with ALL the editions too?

    This blog seems more your speed than an intelligent discussion would.

    Didn’t happen.

    Of course it didn’t. We aren’t in overshoot until we have declining oil.

    Isn’t going to. That depends on whether you only consider people like you “the world”.

    But, Malthus isn’t a good source to look at if you want to see what the problems are and why. He wasn’t around during any expectation that oil would peak. You could read The Club of Rome’s Limits to Growth which or you could read Matthew R. Simmons.

    But, this is an easily understandable explanation of carrying capacity and population overshoot. It even has pictures.

    Peak Oil, Carrying Capacity and Overshoot: Population, the Elephant in the Room

    By the way, regarding Malthus’ An Essay on the Principle of Population–“Its 6th Edition was independently cited as a key influence by both Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace in developing the theory of natural selection.”

    But who cares what Charles Darwin thought? We’ve got Clav to show us the light.

  • Clavos

    I seem to remeber Malthus publishing several editions of An Essay on the Principle of Population as long ago as the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Each successive edition increasingly predicted the world apocalyptically overrun with humans and all of us starving to death.

    Didn’t happen.

    Isn’t going to.

  • Cindy D

    Dave,

    There is a difference between between realistic hope and self-delusion.

    Our house is on fire Dave. Some are discussing realistic escape routes. Some are sitting on the sofa reading Marketwatch.

    Fortunately our success doesn’t depend on what anyone on this blog thinks. It’s simply that your brand of denial is the same kind that put is in this position in the first place.

    We need to make changes years in advance of peak oil to hope for any semblance of a smooth transition. The alternative technologies that you propose will magically save us have problems. Most are not viable as solutions–not merely because of expense (which would be resolved by oil at higher prices), but because of inadequacy. While oil at higher prices would slow consumption, and other benefits, it won’t make non-viable solutions magically viable. And it itself will be detrimental to our economy (as history shows). It will bring personal and community crisis with it as well. . There is only so much low dollars can do for the economy and only so much high oil can do to create alternatives. Alternatives so far, have problems. There are no alternatives that are viable solutions at this time. It will take forthought and time to use the alternatives that have limited potential to their maximum effectiveness. 10 years prior to the peak is the absolute minimum suggested based on what we know now.

    The solutions you are proposing have been under discussion in the real world (outside of stock market journals). Your opinion is uninformed by those discussions. You just look foolish.

    Wallstreet is beginning to catch on as this U.S. News and World Report demonstrates. Wall Street Succumbs to Peak Oil by James Pethokoukis, May 22, 2008. Still, just catching on to an idea, doesn’t provide one with any advanced understanding.

    “The tides, the Sun, and the wind will be our saving grace if we make the effort and spend our reserves wisely instead of the meaningless games of petty men who seek to own more toys before they die. The choices are ours and laid bare before our feet, will we be wise enough to pick them up before the lights go out?” (Petheokoukis)

    Wait until he reads a bit on the tides, the sun and the wind. Petheokoukis is off to a good start, but he has a bit more to learn.

  • PETI, you have failed to adopt the proper attitude of alarmism. You’re not supposed to look for solutions, you’re supposed to run around holding your head and screaming and then collapse in a quivering pile of despair and hopelessness.

    Dave

  • Cindy D

    PETI,

    What does a Congressman know about peak oil and sustainability?

    The speech he presented to congress concerned the basic agreement between about 4 studies from field experts (one of which is Hirsch) ordered by the government and what those studies say.

    You do not understand what Hirsch is saying. You just ignored over some grave things he said in your own quote of him. How about a video of Hirsch rather than a newspaper source. That might be easier for you: Hirsch Video It is 7 minutes long.

    By the way you left the last Hirsch quote off the article you quoted from:

    “As far as finding a solution,” Hirsch said, “we may be too late.”

    You presume to know more by reading newspapers, here and there, than some of the most important minds discussing the subject.

    Your replies are wildly off base as far as even being about the correct subject. They show that you have no idea whatsoever I am talking about and also that I wasted my time.

    What did you do spend 2 minutes finding a quote you don’t even understand, glossing over my terms (of which you have zero understanding of their meaning) and spit out a reply like this is some sort of sparring match?

  • That’s a valuable link you posted up there, Clavos. Of course, it’s exactly the same thing I said three years ago when I wrote my article The Price of Gas – Not High Enough Yet.

    Dave

  • Clavos

    Funny, you don’t talk like a “raving leftist,” PETI.

    You just sound realistic to me.

    And realism has no bias…

  • pleasexcuetheinterruption

    From a moral and economic and political standpoint I think everything possible to reduce energy consumption needs to be done NOW. But from an economic standpoint, I don’t think the condsequences of the oil peak are going to be as dire as some think.

  • pleasexcuetheinterruption

    PETI,

    I would love to give you a proper answer for this idea. But, I don’t have the time to explain what you seem to the ground up.

    Thank you Cindy for providing a reasonable response, and I agree all of the things you listed are serious concerns. And despite what you and Socrates might think about me, in other circles I am a raving leftist, so I don’t think my world outlook is as perverted or one sided as you seem to think.

    I will say this: you may think that your idea is logical and well-reasoned. But, it is nothing more than another refrain in your belief that capitalism can cure anything. And it is so blatantly clear that either you are ignoring the information available, or have not even looked at it, that I can spend time only pointing out a few things to look at:

    1) The problems with alternative energies. (Let’s assume that you will immediately address price and therefore exclude it.)

    Fact: 61% of world oil consumption is used in transportation.

    Fact: The Ford Explorer gets 13mpg city, but the Mazda Tribune SUV hybrid gets 30mpg city, the current u.s. fleet is between 20 and 25, hybrids are over 50mpg, and the technology exists for all electric. Existing technology could cut global transportation fuel consumption by 1/3, possibly 1/2.

    The Math: .61 x .33 = .20. Therefore, the technology exists to reduce global fuel consumption by 20% using transportation alone.

    Coal and clean coal technologies currently exist that could reduce liquid fuel consumption even further. Coal is far more abundant (290ZJ vs. 18ZJ of proven reserves), although less than preferable given environmental effects.

    Add on simple lifestyle changes, like buying a smaller car, driving less, buying more efficient appliances, home insulation, buying locally etc.. conservatively without doing anything drastic, the world could reduce oil consumption by at least 30%, which would happen in response to higher prices. Investment in renewable energy went from 80 billion in 2005, to 100 billion in 2006, and will increase even faster in 2007 and 2008 given the much higher energy costs.

    So say, higher prices could force a 30% drop in fuel consumption, probably more, without major changes or lifestyle altercation.

    Current world oil production is just over 80mbpd, and even the most pessimistic peak oil predictions don’t think production will fall 30% until 2035. The optimistic ones don’t foresee this happening until at least after 2050 or 2060.

    2) “Limits to Growth” What it is, why it was laughed at, what it means for capitalism.

    3) The concepts of carrying capacity and population overshoot.

    Look at nations like Germany: negative population growth. The U.S. has a near-stable population when you disclude immigration. This is despite the financial deductions nations like the u.s. give to parents. With the spread of contraception and abortion as an option, and the spread of modern culture and the 2 child average, world population growth should grow slowly in the future. The rate of growth is already slowing for the first time in centuries.

    4) Have a look at (all the parts) of Richard Heinberg’s Peak Everything which is available on youtube.

    5) Find out who Robert Hirsch is and why what he says should be important to any American.

    Robert Hirsch on peak oil: “This problem is truly frightening. This problem is like nothing that I have ever seen in my lifetime, and the more you think about it and the more you look at the numbers, the more uneasy any observer gets. It’s so easy to sound alarmist, and I fear that part of what I’m saying may sound alarmist, but there simply is no question that the risks here are beyond anything that any of us have ever dealt with. And the risks to our economies and our civilization are enormous.”

    Also by Hirsch:

    “He is advocating “crash programs” such as those used by the country during World War II to mitigate the effects of worldwide oil shortages. These include increasing fuel efficiency, using more unconventional (or “heavy”) oil, moving forward with gas-to-liquid fuel technology and using enhanced oil recovery methods such as steam.

    Hirsch said he sees such mitigation as a sort of temporary bridge to a more sustainable fuel in the future. As it stands now, that future is bleak according to those looking at the peak of oil production. The IEA has said that “we are on a course for an energy system that will evolve from crisis to crisis.”

    So Hirsch isn’t predicting economic ruin either. It’s simply an adjustment.

    6) Find out what Congressman Roscoe Bartlett a Co-Chairman of the Congressional Peak Oil Caucus has to say. “The economic, social, and political costs will be unprecedented.” There are several parts to this I selected Part 4, although I recommend seeing them all. Congressman Roscoe Bartlett on Peak Oil [Part 4]

    What does a Congressman know about peak oil and sustainability?

    7) Have a look into who Matthew R. Simmons is and what he has to say.

    “I am the Mayor of Huntington Beach, California, a full service city of 200,000 residents, 27 square miles, 1200 employees and 8.5 miles of beach. We have nearly 200 police vehicles, 3 helicopters, 15 fire engines/trucks, 7 ambulances, 1 HazMat vehicle, and 1 medical decontamination unit. In addition there are hundreds of miscellaneous vehicles and trucks for public works, marine safety, building department, water department, and administration. All said, we consume 495,000 gallons of gasoline/diesel/jet fuel per year. For every $1 fuel goes up, it is a half million dollars out of our general fund budget.” (Debbie Cook)

    Or put differently, 2.5 dollars per citizen per year! Woopteedooassdoo! Eat one less big mac!

    It’s an adjustment period. That’s it. So the U.S. economy will grow at 1.5% a year instead of 3% because we are more dependent than others.

    If anything, I would be more concerned about it from an environmental standpoint. The U.S. has 27.1% of world coal reserves. That’s enough KJ of energy to last the u.s. 150 years. And that’s a lot of carbon to release!

    So yes, I am concerned about the effect of energy dependence on the u.s. economy on the future. Do I think it will negatively effect the u.s. economy and our standard of living? Of course. It already has and will only get worse. Do I think it will cause the u.s. economic hegemony in the world to end? No. Are predictions of economic collapse realistic? Of course not.

  • socrates

    Dear Cindy,#1089
    Thank you for the link.I look forward to reading Z communications.

  • socrates

    PETI,

    ‘I challenge you to come up with a substantiated argument against any of the claims in my 3 previous posts.’

    I don’t know if you are real. You sound like an Automated Response Machine plugged to right wing think tanks.I get the same feeling about Nalle and Clavos.

    About your claims- the less said about it the better.

  • I have a habit of missing the point? That’s rich, Ruvy, far richer than you’ll ever be!

    Even though the ins and outs of the Israeli economy, approximately the 45th biggest economy in the world, are of no interest to most people, a couple of minutes research produced the information that the US interest rate has a direct effect on the shekel exchange rate. As the US interest rate goes down, the value of the shekel goes up, so there’s one reason for you straight away.

    I’ll leave you to do some more research on the matter as you seem to care so much about it, then you can wipe away your ignorance and find out that there are real reasons for these matters. As I said, it is swings and roundabouts.

    As to the prospect of the Israeli economy “pulling the rug out” from under the UK’s, well, ours is about 20 times bigger, so if that happens it is going to take a little while yet. Personally, I reckon it is just another one of your pet fancies that you’re not going to see in your lifetime…

    Dream on, buddy.

  • Ruvy

    It’s all just swings and roundabouts, mate. Not so many years ago the English pound was almost 1 to 1 with the dollar, whilst this year it has been up to $2.10, before easing off about 12 or 15 cents.

    You have a habit of missing the point, Chris.

    Maybe a bit of repetition will help – you know, good old rote learning.

    Historically, the value of the Israeli currency had only one direction – down.

    The British pound has had its ups and down since currencies were being freely traded, as you say. Being a coin collector, I’d remember things like this. But the Israeli currency was on a one way swan dive downwards from 1948 (with one major “correction”). That is the point of the story. Since 2006, the Israeli currency has been on a one way trip, climbing the comeback trail – against all comers, including the pound sterling.

    And that is what has me fascinated – for there is no discernible reason for this to be happening.

    You may not want to think about the shekel, Chris. Indeed you need not. It’s no skin off my rear end. But even arrogant American yeshiva boys don’t call it the shmekel (penis) anymore. If this keeps up, we’ll be pulling the rug out from under you, Chris. Hope you’re not too close to the seashore when that happens. I’d hate to see you fall in the water….

  • Naah, royalty has pretty much had its day – and who likes sloppy seconds?

  • So Chris, with the pound so strong lately, d’you think we should be on the lookout for the second coming of King Arthur?

  • Ruvy, I’m pleased for you that you feel good about something, even if it is only the value of the shekel.

    A couple of reality check points though:- You say, “A few years ago, the Israeli shekel languished in the image of “the currency that was always taking a dive.” Actually, the shekel languishes in the image of “one of those currencies most people never think about”.

    With regard to why, you say “aside from the commentaries predicting the coming a the messiah, I have no clue why!” It’s all just swings and roundabouts, mate. Not so many years ago the English pound was almost 1 to 1 with the dollar, whilst this year it has been up to $2.10, before easing off about 12 or 15 cents.

    You sure do have one big roar for such a little mouse though 😉

  • Clavos
  • Cindy D

    I give up on editing my post.

    Ruvy,

    That’s okay. We like it that way. As my fellow citizens pointed out, there are of all kinds of reasons why its wonderful that the dollar is so low. Now all we need are those higher and higher oil prices. I can’t wait! What fun it will be!

    If you thought “peak oil” and “global warming” were fun, just wait until you see “worldwide bleached coral reefs” and “overfished oceans,” and don’t forget about “peak humans.”

  • Cindy D

    “But, I don’t have the time to explain what you seem to [be missing] the ground up.” –much better…

  • Ruvy

    Well, I’m back with another installment on the rise of the shekel.

    But this time, let’s look at it as what it really is, the rise in value of the Israeli currency against both the dollar and the euro, and consequently most of the currencies of the world (including the rupee, Sridhar).

    A few years ago, the Israeli shekel languished in the image of “the currency that was always taking a dive”. Historically, the value of the Israeli currency had only one direction – down. It started out as the Palestine pound which had the same value as the British pound of the day, $4.00. Independence brought a change of name – the Israeli pound líra yisraelít.

    But the government, which was broke, printed millions of pounds, and this, plus the negative trade balance of a country barely producing anything after a war, rapidly drove the lira down to about a half dollar. In the mid-fifties, the division of the lira into thousandths prútot – was abandoned, and instead the currency revamped, with the lira divided into hundredths – agorót. The present day “new shekel” is still divided into hundredths as well – the same agorót.

    Anyway back to the story. This lira declined in value from the half dollar it started at to about 5 or 6 to the dollar in 1977, when the Likud under Menahem Begin was elected – and the first thing he did was to change the líra yiraelít to the shékel yisraelí. Under Begin the shekel promptly declined into valuelessness until an American, Stan Fisher, was brought in to effect a cure. He lopped three zeros off the value of the shekel and was instrumental in bringing about the New Israeli Shekel (NIS) or shékel yisraelí Hadásh.

    This currency, like the previous two or three, began a slower trip down the slide, but the decline was steady. By January 1997, it was at NIS 3.30. At the height of the Arab terrorist bombings in 2002, the new shekel declined to just a tiny fraction over five to the dollar; then it steadied in value and went up to NIS 4.60-4.70/$1.

    Two years ago, something strange started to occur.

    The shekel began to rise in value.

    And it has gone up from trading at NIS 4.70/$1 (21¼ cents)to what it is now, NIS 3.255/$1 (30.7 cents).

    America has been fighting a war for several years, and now that its economy is so much in hock that its dollar is going down precipitously.

    But the euro, which used to be worth almost 6 shekels has dropped also to a little over 5 shekels. Our political system is in a state of shambles, but the value of the money in my pocket keeps going up!

    And aside from the commentaries predicting the coming a the messiah, I have no clue why!

  • Cindy D

    PETI,

    I would love to give you a proper answer for this idea. But, I don’t have the time to explain what you seem to the ground up.

    Woopty-doo oil is through the rough. It’s about time. Funny thing is, the world is still spinning. I am glad oil is finally rising, hopefully it continues to do so. The sooner it rises, the sooner we can end our dependence on foreign oil and utilize alternative energy sources.

    I will say this: you may think that your idea is logical and well-reasoned. But, it is nothing more than another refrain in your belief that capitalism can cure anything. And it is so blatantly clear that either you are ignoring the information available, or have not even looked at it, that I can spend time only pointing out a few things to look at:

    1) The problems with alternative energies. (Let’s assume that you will immediately address price and therefore exclude it.)

    2) “Limits to Growth” What it is, why it was laughed at, what it means for capitalism.

    3) The concepts of carrying capacity and population overshoot.

    4) Have a look at (all the parts) of Richard Heinberg’s Peak Everything which is available on youtube.

    5) Find out who Robert Hirsch is and why what he says should be important to any American.

    Robert Hirsch on peak oil: “This problem is truly frightening. This problem is like nothing that I have ever seen in my lifetime, and the more you think about it and the more you look at the numbers, the more uneasy any observer gets. It’s so easy to sound alarmist, and I fear that part of what I’m saying may sound alarmist, but there simply is no question that the risks here are beyond anything that any of us have ever dealt with. And the risks to our economies and our civilization are enormous.”

    6) Find out what Congressman Roscoe Bartlett a Co-Chairman of the Congressional Peak Oil Caucus has to say. “The economic, social, and political costs will be unprecedented.” There are several parts to this I selected Part 4, although I recommend seeing them all. Congressman Roscoe Bartlett on Peak Oil [Part 4]

    7) Have a look into who Matthew R. Simmons is and what he has to say.

    “I am the Mayor of Huntington Beach, California, a full service city of 200,000 residents, 27 square miles, 1200 employees and 8.5 miles of beach. We have nearly 200 police vehicles, 3 helicopters, 15 fire engines/trucks, 7 ambulances, 1 HazMat vehicle, and 1 medical decontamination unit. In addition there are hundreds of miscellaneous vehicles and trucks for public works, marine safety, building department, water department, and administration. All said, we consume 495,000 gallons of gasoline/diesel/jet fuel per year. For every $1 fuel goes up, it is a half million dollars out of our general fund budget.” (Debbie Cook)

  • pleasexcuetheinterruption

    Your optimism about the oil shock reminds me of a cartoon showing a mass grave of Dinosaurs. In the graveyard there was a tombstone with the stark inscription-THEY FAILED TO ADAPT.

    In the winnowing process called natural selection size doesn’t help.

    Actually, it does. The adaptation of an economy and the adaptation of dinosaurs are not even remotely similar. Dinosaurs can’t chose to change, actors within the U.S. economy can. The U.S. already posseses the capital necessary for R&D and to make changes. And simply by transferring capital the U.S. wields tremendous influence in the world merely because of its size.

  • pleasexcuetheinterruption

    pleasexcusetheinterruption,#1080

    A caveat should be tagged to your comments-

    ‘Computer generated rubbish best ignored.’

    Funny, it always seemed to me computers were better at spitting back name calling and short phrases of insults which like this response is all I have received to any of my posts (see 1050,1080,1081). That’s as opposed to substantial posts containing logical reasoning and information, which is what my posts have been. I challenge you to come up with a substantiated argument against any of the claims in my 3 previous posts. Or you could just keep on name calling like a child..

  • Cindy D

    Dear Socrates,

    And no, Hitler killing 6 million Jews does not make me hate Germany or Germans, nor do the past attrocities of my nation (which were so vividly detailed in the article) make me dislike my nation any less. (PETI @ 1080)

    This sort of reply is something I get a lot of. I spent a whole semester recently with 3rd and 4th year college students (future teachers) who could not read what was written (even with clues).

    I look forward to reading more of your articles. And in return for that pleasure, may I recommend Z Communications–a wonderful site if you have not discovered it yet. It is a unique and complete resource of communication (blogs, forums, media). You can interact with some of the best-known thinkers in the world here. If you like it, pass it on.

    “The many Z projects have played an enormously important role in connecting thousands of people outside the traditional channels of communication, bypassing the major media. and introducing into the world of ideas original and provocative insights and significant information that otherwise would be lost….”Historian, Howard Zinn

    “In a time of constant media manipulation, every edition of Z Magazine comes through with key information and cogent analysis. This is an essential publication for people who refuse to be spun by evasion or euphemism and who want to help strengthen movements for social justice and peace. Z Magazine is present-day radicalism at its best — resolutely progressive, non-dogmatic, compassionate, insightful and always searching for better ways to expose the roots of current disasters.” Author and Media Critic, Norman Solomon

  • Songlines

    additional revenue thus generated should be dedicated to R&D for alternative renewable fuels.

    I agree that additional revenue should be set aside for non-oil dependent energy .Additional revenue can also be generated by waging fewer wars and maintaining fewer American bases abroad.The cost of the Iraq and Afghan campaigns according to Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz is 3 trillion and counting .

    The cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts have grown to staggering proportions.

    Thats a lot of money which could otherwise have been spent on not only R&D but also education,infrastructure,health care and such like.

  • Clavos

    Gasoline is still too cheap in the USA; even at $4 a gallon, there’s not enough incentive to initiate a massive development program for other fuels.

    Because of the importance of oil in the manufacture of other, more essential products (medicine, e.g.), the price of gas should be raised (by taxation) to levels which literally force the mass of people to conserve, and the additional revenue thus generated should be dedicated to R&D for alternative renewable fuels.

    Fat chance the clowns in Washington will have the guts, however.

    So, as a stopgap measure, we need to knock off Chavez and the Saud family; maybe annex Mexico and Brasil as well; we’re already being accused of imperialism anyway.

  • Sockrats: I haven’t used a drop of petroleum in 3 years. I run 100% biodiesel produced by a coop of local farmers and currently sold at $3 a gallon.

    Dave

  • socrates

    #1075 Dave,

    Your optimism about the oil shock reminds me of a cartoon showing a mass grave of Dinosaurs. In the graveyard there was a tombstone with the stark inscription-THEY FAILED TO ADAPT.

    In the winnowing process called natural selection size doesn’t help.

  • socrates

    pleasexcusetheinterruption,#1080

    A caveat should be tagged to your comments-

    ‘Computer generated rubbish best ignored.’

  • STM

    Bliff: “$4.40 for 87 octane. If I’d wanted the mid-octane 93 it would have been $5.80. On the other hand, the High-Rent Ferrari drivers who require 100 octane have to pay $7.80.”

    Mate, I’m paying $1.80 a litre (1 US gallon equals 4.5 litres) for diesel at the moment, while the price of Regular Unleaded petrol in Sydney fluctuates between around $1.35 and $1.60 a litre, depending on what day it is. Most retailers seem to be discounting on “Cheap” Tuesdays, but you can bet the price is back up again on Thursday and Friday and will be especially high just prior to a holiday long weekend. Often in those weeks, there is no discounted price.

    Six months ago, I was paying $1.40 a litre for diesel. I can’t believe it’s risen 40 cents a litre in that period, and there’s no cheap Tuesdays for diesel owners – it doesn’t get included in the discount cycle.

    I bought the Peugeot turbodiesel because the new models are a) economical (48mpg roughly for mine if I drive properly – which I don’t 🙂 and b) green and environmentally friendly, with the fuel now sulphur free and the cars containing particulate filters and emission controls. They put out near-clean air.

    However, as more people have woken up to this, lo-and-behold, the oil companies seem to have opportunistically jacked up the price. It still costs me less to run than a petrol engine with eqivalent torque, but it’s not going to stay that way which means those of us who went for a green alternative are now being martyred by the oil companies. The federal government is even talking about lowering its fuel excise (36 cents a litre) to bring down the price.

    Consider these dollar figures on a par with the US, as the A$ is now worth roughly the same. Thank God for that, otherwise we’d really be feeling the impact.

    What we are constantly told is that in Australia, the price depends on the price of Singapore Refined – which sounds like bollocks to me, especially since we have refineries all over the place here anyway and not all of what is retailed here is shipped in from Singapore.

    I understand world oil prices have spiralled out of control, and the bubble will burst, but I don’t understand why diesel is so high when it costs less to produce and was cheaper six months ago than premium unleaded (PULP).

    I used to pump petrol too bliff as a schoolkid. A family friend had a Caltex station here.

    On my first day, the owner just assumed I’d know how to do water, oil and battery and a woman drove in a big Holden and got me to fill the tank (which cost next to nothjing in those days, despite the size of the car). Then she asked me to check under the bonnet (hood).

    I didn’t have a clue what to do, so I just opened the bonnet, looked around, closed it and said: “Yep, looks fine to me”.

    It was the middle of a baking-hot summer here too, I hope it had enough oil and water in it.

    I don’t remember her ever coming back.

  • bliffle

    Well, well, well. Stopped for gas at the High-Rent Shopping Center this afternoon and discovered that it was $4.40 for 87 octane. If I’d wanted the mid-octane 93 it would have been $5.80. On the other hand, the High-Rent Ferrari drivers who require 100 octane have to pay $7.80. They can afford it.

    While chatting with Sun Chang, the owner/operator, for about 15 minutes, nobody came in. We exchanged lore about the oil retail business, and it sounds about the same: 5% margin to the retailer. When I was a teenager pumping Phillips gas at Clarence’s “66” two pump station at 18.9 cents for Regular and 19.9 for ethyl (leaded) we had about 1 cent per gallon, so about $200 margin per month on 20,000 gallons in sales. Not enough to keep a church mouse. Then, as now, we depended on sales of oil, tires, batteries and accessories to make the nut. When those big discount stores came into play we had customers come in with a muffler from CostCo and ask us to put it in! Sure, for the same price we’d install one of ours, including the muffler. Things haven’t changed. Chang gets about 20-30 cents a gallon, and he’s only selling 30,000 per month. So he has about $6000-10000 margin, which doesn’t pay his rent. I was surprised he only sells 30,000, not much more than at Clarences “66” long ago. Several years ago most stations around here were 100,000 minimum, but that was during the acquisition phase when Oil Companies were buying, operating and consolidating stations. Now they franchise them out and have sold more franchises than the community will support, so the owner/operators get squeezed. Again.

    But back in Ye Olde Days the owners had a tool: the Gas War! Something which you young grasshoppers have never seen. Retailers would cut their prices competitively to get customers coming in for the TBA. This would go on for weeks until the mania subsided. An oil company Exec once explained to me how this worked: some farmer on the outskirts of town with about 5,000 gallons sales would get a 30,000 gallon tank put in and when he got down to about 4,000 in the tank he’d cut the price and start a gas war. When all the retailers cut their prices in response it would be hard times for all the retailers so they’d go bang on the oil companies to sell them discounted gas, which they’d have to do eventually, whereupon the farmer would fillup his 30k tank with cheap gas and have enough for several months at the restored high price. Even if farmer ran out of gas to get the war started he didn’t care, he’d just close the station for awhile and do something else since he wasn’t dependent on it.

    Can’t start gas wars anymore. During the previous cycle when Oil Cos bought the stations, consolidated and re-apportioned, they also installed computer networks that monitor gas pumping and catch anomalies. So modern pump jockeys like Chang can’t pull that stuff anymore.

  • pleasexcusetheinterruption

    Cindy D @1069:

    @#1050 Another poster of vacuous opinions, unable, unwilling, to support any argument properly with any evidence.

    Well, I myself dispute the existence of basketball. I don’t read about it, play it, or watch it. Therefore it does not exist.

    Opinions without substance are called bias.

    I didn’t get into specifics, but if you tell me what specifically you object to, I could substantiate it.

    If it’s my claim that America will adapt to changing circumstances that you object to, take this for historical evidence. There is not a single institutionalized democratic capitalist nation in modern history which has fallen. There are no indications that the American economy will fail in the predictable future. Despite predictions of recession and depression, oil through the rough, the housing bubble burst, and continued current account and public sector defecits, the U.S. economy grew substantially in the first quarter. If this is an economic ‘crisis’ in the modern era, then the U.S. has achieved a stable development strategy until something drastic changes. The United States has not experienced a serious economic crisis in decades. Unemployment is at historical lows. etc. etc. etc. We may yet hit a recession, but it will be temporary.

    In fact, I’m really not sure what I said that you object to, because as far as I can tell I have said nothing controversial.

    @#1066 Any way the oil shock ($132 per barrel)and the peak out would send most countries to the stone age.Who knows may be the farmers in rural India with their cattle would have their last laugh.

    We may yet wish we had more respect for the way others do things.

    Woopty-doo oil is through the rough. It’s about time. Funny thing is, the world is still spinning. I am glad oil is finally rising, hopefully it continues to do so. The sooner it rises, the sooner we can end our dependence on foreign oil and utilize alternative energy sources. Oil price rises now, should limit possible repurcussions in the future when world oil production starts decreasing steadily.

    And if we’re talking about who has the geopolitical strategic advantage in the event of an unlikely world wide wide oil catastrophe, it is certainly not rural farmers in India, or for that matter almost anyone in the eastern hemisphere. Lets look at who the net food exporters are.. hmm the U.S… Canada.. Australia.. NZ.. … now lets look where the population centers are.. Hmm.. China: 1.3+ billion, India 1.1+ billion. India is the 3rd most densely population nation on earth, of the major nations, after Bangledesh (their neighbor) and Japan. Does that tell you anything? The rural cattle farmer in India would likely be absolutely fucked. His land and livelihood would be mobbed by hundreds of millions of starving peasants fleeing the cities. Not that I’m into predicting doomsday scenarios.. but you brought it up. The United States is one of the least densely populated nations on earth after places like Uzbekistan and Kazakstan. So if anyone should be praying against an oil crisis, it’s those of you in the eastern hemisphere and especially India. An oil crisis and subsequent economic collapse would be paradise in the U.S. compared to India and China. You thought the cultural revolution in China was bad? Watch this.

  • pleasexcusetheinterruption

    Socrates #1054:

    pleasexcusetheinterruption,#1050

    ‘Or is it just anti-American anti-Aussie drivel?’

    Displays your mindset- I mean it is tantamount to saying if you accuse Hitler of Genocide of 6 million Jews you are somehow anti-German.

    The key word is drivel (ie a biased, selective interpretation of history characterized less by historical completeness and accuracy than by an emotionally charged attempt by half educated fools to denograte everything and anything American). Having not read all 1000+ comments, I can only assume someone has a major stick up their ass. If that’s not the case, forgive me. And no, Hitler killing 6 million Jews does not make me hate Germany or Germans, nor do the past attrocities of my nation (which were so vividly detailed in the article) make me dislike my nation any less.

    You can’t be a patriotic American if you don’t correct the policy of your Government.Chalmers Johnson has better credentials than you of being a patriotic American.Take a look at his record and let it speak for itself.

    Why don’t you let Americans be the judge of our ideals, our goals, and how we will accomplish them? Thank you. As someone who has opposed the war in Iraq, as Dave said, from day ONE, I am still disgusted by people like you who attack anyone and anything not predicting economic and political catastrophe for America. If you’re goal is to change America’s policy and outlook you would do better to criticize only its current government policy and policy supporters, rather than degrading its entire populace and history. Of course in all likelihood, your real motivation is not a change in American policy but something more sinister.

    You and your friends are cheerleaders of an insane war machine which has bankrupted USA.

    I don’t know where you got this from. Your presumption that anyone that does not completely disown America is a cheerleader of its policies gives you away. Again, as Dave said, I have opposed the Iraq war from day one. Nor is the USA bankrupt. People wouldn’t lend to us if we were bankrupt. The U.S. GDP is over 13 trillion. A slight change in our tax or spending policy would generate the revenue necessary for a government surplus. I disagree with the Bush fiscal policy, but bankruptcy is an exageration. The U.S. has always maintained a large national debt, and as a percent of GDP (65%) it’s only slightly higher than historical standards (40-60%) and much lower than the post-WW2 period (80-120%).

    You are your own worst enemies

    Thank you for your constructive criticism. Leave it to an Indian to know what’s best for Americans.

    Why this thread has 1049 posts? Take a guess!It discusses serious issues and avoids the mind numbing debates about where to get your latest ipod.

    I don’t own an ipod, but if I did, I would want to get a good price.

    If someone points a mirror to you and you find an ugly face staring at you it is extremely unwise to break the mirror.

    I don’t need a mirror to know what my reflection looks like.

  • Someone described Cricket as Baseball on Valium…one should think of T-20 as Cricket on Viagra.

    In that case one dreads to think what baseball on Viagra would look like…

  • socrates

    Dear Cindy,
    Thanks for your comments.It is heartening to know that there are nice people like you in the world.

  • socrates

    Dear Surfer,
    Thanks for your tip about Fosters.

    Wish you guys could visit India sometime.We could spend our time drinking beer, eating Chicken Tikka and having fun.

  • Cindy D

    I would like to recommend this program to all people of all viewpoints.

    Three Part Series – Race: The Power of an Illusion
    PBS has the transcript available for free.

    Part 1: The Difference Between Us
    Part 2: The Story We Tell
    Part 3: The House We Live In

    Our hope is that this series can help us all navigate through our myths and misconceptions, and scrutinize some of the assumptions we take for granted. In that sense, the real subject of the film is not so much race but the viewer, or more precisely, the notions about race we all hold….

    As The House We Live In shows us, until we address the legacy of past discrimination and confront the historical meanings of race, the dream of equality will remain out of reach.

  • I thought US slipped into debtor status and the wars are not funded with American tax payers money but with borrowed funds obtained from foreign countries.Hudson calls it the Treasury bill route.

    The US has operated on debt, mostly to foreign investors, since Alexander Hamilton financed the last of the cost of the Revolutionary War that way. Then as now, it’s a sound way to run the country’s finances so long as you have the revenue to properly maintain and gradually pay off the debt.

    Any way the oil shock ($132 per barrel)and the peak out would send most countries to the stone age.Who knows may be the farmers in rural India with their cattle would have their last laugh.

    The net effect of this is to raise the cost of gas in the US to about half what it is in Europe. Is Europe in the stone age?

    Dave

  • Ruvy

    Stan,

    The real difference between Mac&Don’s dog food and Burger King (or Hungry Jack’s) is that at Burger King they broil the meat. At Mac&Don’s they basically fry it and flip it. Now, tell me, which do you prefer – meat off the fire at a barbie, or something soaking in grease and fat from a frying pan/”grill”?

    Case closed.

    I don’t see a real possibility of getting to either Oz or India soon. Can I get the Indian cricket off a live streaming or catch a video on my computer? I see lots of articles on Desicritcs about cricket. Hinduism is slippery stuff for a Semite like me, but cricket on Viagra I think I can understand – especially if they have dancing girls….

    Oh, BTW. This article at Globes says it all. You don’t need to read Hebrew for this. Just look at the photo to the right and the big 3.285 in the headline. The market is closed here, but is just opening in New York. As of 16:29, Israel Summer Time, the representative rate of the shekel was NIS 3.2895/$1.00 – or 30.4 cents. Put differently, 500 ml of bottled water at 5 shekels now costs $1.52. A 200 gram jar of Tasters’ Choice Coffee at NIS 30 costs $9.12. Wow!!

  • Songlines

    Someone described Cricket as Baseball on Valium…one should think of T-20 as Cricket on Viagra.

  • Songlines

    Surfer,I stayed at a home-stay.If you wanna experience Indian hospitality or beat the heat of summer check out this place…see the feedback section…i guarantee you it’s as they describe it.
    Welcome to our Ancestral Home

  • Surfer

    You are right on the money Ruve. I always ask for a fresh one (Burger King is known here as Hungry Jack’s, but it’s the same stuff, identical packaging etc, except for the name) when I go. They are pretty good burgers cooked fresh, although McDonald’s is now doing it too here, I guess to compete. Tgheir latest ad campaign is that they cook the burgers as you order, rather than pulling one of the hot shelf that’s been there for an hour.

    And in regard to the Roman vindaloo, well, I’m just tired of circular arguing. No one’s benefiting so I thought we could all bury the hatchet (in no one’s head) and have a bit of fun instead.

    I am now off to watch the IPL (Indian Premier League cricket) – the Indians are turning cricket into baseball … and it’s good.

    No need to take a book to the game any more. It’s all action, with guys belting fours and sixes all over the park for a limited period.

    Spectacular, and so are the dancing girls 🙂

  • Ruvy

    Now, now, Stan,

    One of your countrymen probably served up a batch of really hot vindaloo at The Maharajah in Via di Serpenti (yes, such a place exists, and it’s good) that’s left half of Rome sh.tting its innards out for three days.

    If customers treat waiters as you say they do (remember you are talking to a former restaurant manager here), then the cook can’t be blamed for serving a bad batch of vindaloo; after all the cooks have to listen to the waiters bitch about the lousy customers.

    Sridhar – if you must eat “fast food”, at least go to a Burger King, and not a McDonald’s. No matter how much curry they may put in the Mc&Don’s dog food to hide the lousy flavor, it is still McGarbage. If you do go to a Burger King, order a hamburger or cheeseburger of your choice (write this down) “fresh off the broiler”. Your chances of food poisoning such that you will feel like vandalizing the place with a hood will be much reduced if you avoid what passes for lettuce and tomatoes or other “condiments”.

    Hearty eating!

  • Cindy D

    @#1050 Another poster of vacuous opinions, unable, unwilling, to support any argument properly with any evidence.

    Well, I myself dispute the existence of basketball. I don’t read about it, play it, or watch it. Therefore it does not exist.

    Opinions without substance are called bias.

    @#1066 Any way the oil shock ($132 per barrel)and the peak out would send most countries to the stone age.Who knows may be the farmers in rural India with their cattle would have their last laugh.

    We may yet wish we had more respect for the way others do things.

  • Surfer

    Socrates: “I seem to have developed a taste for Fosters.”

    Lol. Don’t drink Foster’s mate … it’s awful stuff. Try Crown Lager or Carlton Draught if you get the chance. I know these two are exported, and of the two, both are good but Crown is a really nice beer.

    And songlines, you are right: there are some really nice Aussie wines around at the moment, although with the dollar hitting parity with the greenback, the price would be starting to go up a bit overseas, which is not good for exports. Wine is a major industry so it is has the capacity to hurt the growers and the people who work on the vineyards. We like our dollar WAY down on the exchange value of the US dollar.

    What are those hills you speak of??

  • Songlines

    I had a bottle of Aussie wine on my last trip to the hills of Coorg.Pretty good stuff actually:)

  • socrates

    Dave,
    ‘And BTW the US is not bankrupt. The government actually had a budget surplus in each of the last two fiscal quarters.’

    I thought US slipped into debtor status and the wars are not funded with American tax payers money but with borrowed funds obtained from foreign countries.Hudson calls it the Treasury bill route.

    Any way the oil shock ($132 per barrel)and the peak out would send most countries to the stone age.Who knows may be the farmers in rural India with their cattle would have their last laugh.

  • socrates

    stm,

    I have seen shit heads treat waiters badly and I hate these creeps.

    For all my sins I am extremely rude to only the well heeled members of my class and overbearing whites.

    May be we should open a bottle of wine and drink to the health of the distinguished members of the hospitality trade.

    I seem to have developed a taste for Fosters.

    Take care.

  • STM

    Not so So-crates … there are waiters who are so sought-after, they are among the highest paid in the hospitality industry.

    It’s all relative.

    In my case, working as a waiter and washing dishes in a restaurant that was never going to reach 5-star status probably wasn’t a good career move, but as a young man I was working briefly on a fishing boat and it was good to have a few dollars coming in in between trips even if it was as boring as batsh.t. What WAS interesting about it, however, was how people treated those waiting on them. .

    I thought most people would be nice, and only a minority rude and arrogant, but as most waiters will tell you, sadly it’s generally the other way round. I always knew the ones who would be trouble because they didn’t know the wines but insisted on tasting them. I mean, if you don’t know what it’s supposed to taste like, why bother?

    Always good when they sent a decent bottle of wine back, though, because we got to drink it.

    Not my scene though … the ocean is a much nicer place, even on a bad night.

  • socrates

    stm,
    ‘I’ll bet neither of you have done an honest day’s work in your lives.’

    I am not sure whether serving as a waiter qualifies as honest work because i know waiters who cheat their customers.

    India is enthralled by the service economy and you can see lot of us serving hamburgers in McDonald.My only point was if we drop out of school without finishing our education a career as a waiter would limit our potential as a human being.This is painfully evident in the comments I receive in response to my blog.

  • STM

    So-crates: “BTW-Indian shops were ransacked by masked hoodlums in Italy- I wonder why? Perhaps resentment?”

    You wonder why?? Come on Crates old chap, use your imagination!

    One of your countrymen probably served up a batch of really hot vindaloo at The Maharajah in Via di Serpenti (yes, such a place exists, and it’s good) that’s left half of Rome sh.tting its innards out for three days.

    They don’t understand hot food, those Italians. Too much garlic, not enough spice and chilli.

    Nothing like giving us westerners a bit of curry, literally and figuratively, eh mate??

  • socrates

    STM,
    ‘Typical of the nose-in-the-air rich elites, chardonnay socialists and bourgeois pretenders of all cultures who only have a textbook understanding of what it’s like to work and struggle and stand up for your fellow man.’

    A spot of good wine never diluted ones revolutionary fervor- Do we have to dress badly, drink bad wine and have bad breath to be authentic? Che dressed well, had many lovers and was charismatic until he was bumped off in the jungles of Blovia.Offers a refreshing contrast to the pasty faced middle aged white men who visit my country.

    On one point I would agree with you ( you are dead on!)the majority of the ruling elites in my country are shit heads who have sold their soul to the Washington Consensus which has ruined this country.

    If the latest election results are any indication the Congress party (supporters of Washington model of development) has been routed.

    I have been critical of my own country in my blog ‘Sunshine India- Encounter killings’ and also in ‘The Myth of Free Trade’ where I have condemned the myopic policies of my government.

  • socrates

    Clavos,
    ‘From the evidence apparent in both your original article and your comments throughout this thread, you wouldn’t know a “first rate historian” from a proctologist.’

    If the quality of your posts are any indication -it shouldn’t be too difficult to make that distinction.

  • socrates

    STM,

    ‘So-crates and Songlines are high-caste, wealthy, well-educated Indians (among the few who are priveleged enough to attend university), sitting in nice homes in wealthy suburbs of say, a big city like New Delhi or Kolkata.’

    Guilty on all counts!Does it cause resentment among you occidentals that the natives (some 300 million)are indeed well educated and wealthy? Give us a break- we can’t be eternally hewers and drawers of water for our ex- masters.

    BTW-Indian shops were ransacked by masked hoodlums in Italy- I wonder why? Perhaps resentment?

  • STM

    Songlines: “India doesnt have any “Stolen Generations” or any history of persecuting other peoples”

    Lol! What a hoot! Get out of your ivory tower man. Where have you been hiding? Under a rock? Or do you just never get out much from that big house in the nice wealthy suburb?

    The dalits, all 200 million of them, are among the most persecuted of people anywhere, and always have been. Ask them. They are under no illusions. India is one of the most class-conscious, divided, nations on the planet.

    Don’t try to wriggle out of it. What’s happening in India at the moment is the fault of your own class/caste system, nothing to do with the British, Americans or anyone else.

    Sadly, you can’t face up to your own skeletons (the ones that are still rattling loudly in your closets), but you think it’s OK to criticise others who have nothing like the problems or the uneven distribution of wealth or social injustice that India has.

    Like I say, the worst kind of arrogance. Typical of the nose-in-the-air rich elites, chardonnay socialists and bourgeois pretenders of all cultures who only have a textbook understanding of what it’s like to work and struggle and stand up for your fellow man.

    I’ll bet neither of you have done an honest day’s work in your lives.

  • Songlines

    Many Indians would find YOU utterly delusional and completely unintelligent.

  • You and your friends are cheerleaders of an insane war machine which has bankrupted USA.You are your worst enemies.

    Unless my recollections are way off, PETI has consistently opposed the war in Iraq. And BTW the US is not bankrupt. The government actually had a budget surplus in each of the last two fiscal quarters.

    Dave

  • Let the whites give back the land to the Aborigines..how does that sound?

    Let the whites give back the land to the Red Indians ..how does that sound?

    It sounds remarkably stupid, actually. They have no more intrinsic right to the land than anyone else does. The land belongs to those who can hold it and make use of it most effectively. But I do agree that they have as much right to own land as anyone else does.

    Quoting the ICC to me doesn’t gain you any credibility. It’s a joke….now we know what you think of major Institutions of justice and basic human rights…you are the joke Nalle.

    Describing the ICC as a ‘major institution of justice and basic human rights’ is the joke here. I strongly support genuine human rights and fairly applied justice. The ICC has yet to prove itself one way or another with only a handful of cases in its docket, but based on the history of other UN ‘human rights’ groups all I can predict for it is disaster.

    As Cindy said …YOU ARE SHAMELESS

    Of course I am. I have nothing to be ashamed of.

    Dave

  • socrates

    pleasexcusetheinterruption,#1050

    ‘Or is it just anti-American anti-Aussie drivel?’

    Displays your mindset- I mean it is tantamount to saying if you accuse Hitler of Genocide of 6 million Jews you are somehow anti-German.

    You can’t be a patriotic American if you don’t correct the policy of your Government.Chalmers Johnson has better credentials than you of being a patriotic American.Take a look at his record and let it speak for itself.

    You and your friends are cheerleaders of an insane war machine which has bankrupted USA.You are your worst enemies.

    Why this thread has 1049 posts? Take a guess!It discusses serious issues and avoids the mind numbing debates about where to get your latest ipod.

    If someone points a mirror to you and you find an ugly face staring at you it is extremely unwise to break the mirror.

  • Songlines, have you ever actually met any high caste Hindus or untouchables? Have you ever seen how they interract (or painstakingly don’t)? Your last comment sounds utterly delusional.

    Dave

  • Clavos

    You’re dead on, PETI.

    #1051 reinforces your point.

  • Songlines

    The reason most Indians are so poor is because a very small number of rich and powerful high-caste Indians control most of the wealth, the power and are the only ones given educations beyond basic schooling.…high caste only?…any proof for your silly assertions?

    The culture and civilization of India date back to many thousands of years.It is the longest unbroken civilisation in the world wherein people of all castes lived in harmony.India doesnt have any “Stolen Generations” or any history of persecuting other peoples.

    Historically there has been no such thing as a “higher” and a “lower” caste.Everyone is equal.The Chandogya Upanishad, many thousands of years old revered by all castes alike speaks of Satyakama Jabala the bastard son of a serving girl going onto to become a great Guru and preceptor who teaches students from the “higher caste”.Historically no one has been denied on the basis of caste and that story is not 130 years old…sorry DD.

    Most people in the west do not have a concept of caste.Caste orjatias it was originally conceived very broadly meant a certain class of people with a certain aptitude who were inclined to do a certain kind of work whether it was for the seeking/advancement of knowledge,upkeep/Administration of soceity,trade,commerce and economic activity or to be engaged in service…..not very different from modern day civilization .Over the years customary Hinduism has ossified the terms of caste.The ossification has also been excacerbated by the “divide and rule” policies of the British while they were in India and that is a fact.They were the ones who seeked to classify and categorize and consider issues like separate electorates for different kinds of people.The seeds of divisiveness were sown during the British Rule.

  • pleasexcusetheinterruption

    This thread is insane. 1049 posts? Did someone set off a bomb? Or is it just anti-American anti-Aussie drivel? There was a similar article written a few months ago about the decline of America, and I think it was successfully demonstrated then that America is not in crisis. The same things about American over-reaching and decline could have been said in 1968. What the critics fail to realize is the adaptability of a democratic capitalist system. Authority in America ultimately lies with the people. It may get pulled lose now and then, they may not know everything that’s going on all the time, but ultimately everything comes back to the voting block. People just have to care enough. And when things get bad enough, they do. Voter turnout has increased substantially in both of the past two elections after reaching record lows in 1996. I expect that to continue this year.

    American hegemony and overeaching is nothing new. The author betrays himself in the piece in his eagerness to denegrate anything and everything American by citing many historical examples which could be turned on their head to demonstrate the American western democratic capitalist system’s resilliance despite failed policies.

    Anti-Americanism is nothing new. American economic hegemony is nothing new. I disagree with the classification of imperialist, although I question even the relevance of the term. America rarely operates in the traditional sense of the term imperialist with open political repression, control etc. One might argue that it uses a new kind of imperialism. But then I would argue the difference between this ‘new’ and ‘traditional’ imperialism is a world of difference. As Dave pointed out, the mere classification as ‘imperialist’ gets you nothing but a descriptive adjective.

  • pleasexcusetheinterruption

    Don’t apologize if you’re wrong! Even if they personally aren’t, someone somewhere in India is.

  • STM

    Here’s my bet too:

    So-crates and Songlines are high-caste, wealthy, well-educated Indians (among the few who are priveleged enough to attend university), sitting in nice homes in wealthy suburbs of say, a big city like New Delhi or Kolkata.

    In the case of so-crates, given the thinly disguised contempt he has for the “serving” classes that was obvious in one his posts, I’d say he grew up with servants too, or possibly still has them.

    And there they are, probably living high on the hog, with nice full bellies, pontificating about how bad everyone else is while all around them, their fellow Indians eke out what could only conservatively be called a living in the dirt, dust, hunger and degredation of the poor districts.

    I’ll apologise if I’m wrong, but I have a feeling it’s getting close to the truth.

  • STM

    “Now you know why Indians are poor.”

    What bollocks. That is NOT the reason Indians are so poor. The reason most Indians are so poor is because a very small number of rich and powerful high-caste Indians control most of the wealth, the power and are the only ones given educations beyond basic schooling.

    There is enough wealth in India to break the cycle of poverty many times over, and to allow the rich to remain extremely rich. But do you think the rich would be up to sharing (some) of their wealth? Nah, course not …

    Who would want that kind of dilution of power??

    At least in this country, we do pay more than lip service to social justice with fair division of wealth through taxes, universal education opportunities, decent wages set by independent arbirtation courts and free health care for everyone.

    Offering up stuff that happened two centuries back to back up your shaky argument doesn’t wash with me I’m afraid, and I don’t care whether you like it or not.

    Like I said, it’s bollocks.

    I’m a believer in truth, not whitewashing, which is what your doing.

    This is also one of the least racist countries you’ll find on the planet, given that multicultural modern Australia has one in four people born somewhere else, and a huge percentage descended from people of other cultures (yes, including Indians from both the sub-continent, other parts of Asia and Fiji or the Caribbean).

    The one thing I do remember from my visits to India were the poverty, the wealth and power in the hands of a few, and that’s something Indians have been living with for thousands of years, well before the British turned up for a couple of hundred years. If it wasn’t exactly fair how they went about their empire-building, they at least introduced many of the insitutions upon which modern India is based and which may well be its salvation and its hope for change in the coming century as it moves to become a genuine player on the world stage.

    The problem is, no one is going to take seriously any quest by India or Indians for social justice in this world until it deals with its own problems first.

    And certainly people who have made real attempts to address social inequality don’t want to hear criticism from those who haven’t.

    It’s the worst kind of arrogance.

  • STM

    However, I do agree with so-crates about one thing: you can’t trust an Englishman in the dark. In fact, I’d be wary about trusting the buggers in the cold hard light of day.

    Sorry Doc, but you know how it is down here 🙂

  • Songlines

    Warren Hastings, the company’s chief officer in India, wrote the following to the company’s board of directors in London:

    “Not withstanding the loss of at least one-third of the inhabitants of the province, and consequent decrease in cultivation, net collections of the year 1771 exceeded those of 1768…. It was naturally to be expected that the diminution of the revenue should have kept an equal place with the other consequences of so great a calamity. That it did not was owing to its being violently kept up to its former standard.”

    Now you know why Indians are poor.

  • STM

    So-crates: “Go beyond your googalised version of History”.

    Lol! Most of the nonsense you post on here seems to have been dug up by selective trolling on the internet.

    Like I say, worry about fixing the caste system first before you start looking for the speck in my eye.

    You’ve got a log poking out of yours.

    Do you have any idea of what many people outside India think of this stuff afflicting your society, and all this in the 21st century when India has a chance to become a beacon of light in Asia?

    Do you know how many people think the money being paid to the IPL cricketers is obscene in the context of India, where the paypackets of Sachin Tendulkar and Andy Symonds would feed many thousands of poverty-stricken families for about 10 years? You can’t blame the players for what’s on offer, and I must say it’s an enjoyable package, but it does speak volumes about your problems.

    Please, don’t speak to me about the dignity of minorities with your holier-than-thou air of superiority. I’m not a lower caste member, remember?

    Perhaps you could post up some honest figures on how many lower caste members or poor end up with university degrees in India. If you don’t feel up to it, I will.

    The truth is, many Indians come to places like Australia to escape that nonsense.

    India has the opportunity to be something special right now, not just in the region but on the world stage. Perhaps it needs to look at this stuff, and it should be down to people like you, as in truth, only the rich and educated in India have the power to do it.

    When you can tell me otherwise, I’ll accept your criticisms of me.

    Until then, I’ll continue to believe that you have other motivations beyond genuinely looking at issues of social justice.

  • Nice sidestep change of subject, Songlines.

    And this all happened, ooh, only 130 years ago…

  • Songlines

    Abject poverty eh?..Really?…You want to know about one of the ways the “Third Worlds ” are created???..

    When an El Nino drought destituted the farmers of the Deccan plateau in 1876 there was a net surplus of rice and wheat in India. But the viceroy, Lord Lytton, insisted that nothing should prevent its export to England. In 1877 and 1878, at height of the famine, grain merchants exported a record 6.4 million hundredweight of wheat. As the peasants began to starve, government officials were ordered “to discourage relief works in every possible way”. The Anti-Charitable Contributions Act of 1877 prohibited “at the pain of imprisonment private relief donations that potentially interfered with the market fixing of grain prices.” The only relief permitted in most districts was hard labour, from which anyone in an advanced state of starvation was turned away. Within the labour camps, the workers were given less food than the inmates of Buchenwald. In 1877, monthly mortality in the camps equated to an annual death rate of 94%.As millions died, the imperial government launched “a militarized campaign to collect the tax arrears accumulated during the drought.” The money, which ruined those who might otherwise have survived the famine, was used by Lytton to fund his war in Afghanistan. Even in places which had produced a crop surplus, the government’s export policies, like Stalin’s in the Ukraine, manufactured hunger. In the North-western provinces, Awadh and the Punjab, which had brought in record harvests in the preceding three years, at least 1.25million died.

    In his excellent book Late Victorian Holocausts, published in 2001, Mike Davis tells the story of the famines which killed between 12 and 29 million Indians.

    These people were, he demonstrates, murdered by British state policy. Late Victorian Holocausts: El Niño Famines and the Making of the Third World

    Read it …it should disabuse you of the notions such as poverty of the third world and benevolence of empire.

  • STM

    The first aboriginal governor of South Australia, Sir Douglas Nicholls (that’s right, SIR Douglas), was appointed in 1976. Aborigines have served as (elected) Senators in federal parliament, and as MPs in most state parliaments in Australia, and on the boards or as as heads of many government agencies. The current Fair Trading Minister of New South Wales, Linda Burnie, is aboriginal. An aboriginal woman is likely to be appointed the next Governor of Queensland.

    In relation to your Dalit president, please, tell me how that has helped the 200 million dalits (and the many millions of other Indians) who live in abject poverty while those in the upper castes live high on the hog at their expense, cradling as much wealth as possible while their fellow Indians struggle just to put food on the table or find a decent place to live or a job that pays above the poverty line.

    There are plenty of human rights groups around who have reports floating about in relation to this. The notion that Indians can criticise anyone for their treatment of others within their own society is a sick joke, and you should be ashamed of yourselves.

    Like I say, no one in this country has to take their own utensils to a restaurant in case they somehow pollute the sensibilities of those “above them”.

    The “who-can-use-the-fork rule” is a pretty accurate pointer to what kind of a society one lives in. We pass on that (now), India (still) fails.

    Despite its lip service to equality, and that’s all it is, India remains a vastly divided society. It’s apartheid at its worst, and a dcisgrace for Indians to be on here carrying on about other countries while the festering sore of the caste system continues to stink out most of the sub-continent. If you are rich in India, you’ve got it made (I believe that’s about 1 per cent of the population controlling about 98 per cent of the wealth, off the top of my head). If you are middle class, it’s a struggle. If you are poor, you are totally stuffed.

    Who’s arrogant? You, mate. You.

  • Songlines

    Surfer India has appointed a dalit to the Highest office in the land the post of President of India.A dalit occupies the chair of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.Balakrishnan is first Dalit Chief Justice of India.

    How many aboriginal Prime Ministers and Chief Justices does Australia have?

    Who’s arrogant?

  • Surfer

    I reckon the Indians pontificating on here should start working at giving some REAL rights to the 200 million downtrodden Dalits (and other low-caste members), instead of just paying lip service to it.

    People from a country where most people live in abject poverty – and it IS abject – and that practises the worst form of apartheid against its own people (yes, Dalits still have to take their own utensils to restaurants) should focus on their own gigantic screw up before they start criticising others.

    At least everyone in this country has the right to use the same fork.

    The arrogance ….

  • Songlines

    Let the whites give back the land to the Aborigines..how does that sound?

    Let the whites give back the land to the Red Indians ..how does that sound?

    Quoting the ICC to me doesn’t gain you any credibility. It’s a joke.…now we know what you think of major Institutions of justice and basic human rights…you are the joke Nalle.

    As Cindy said …YOU ARE SHAMELESS

  • Quoting the ICC to me doesn’t gain you any credibility. It’s a joke.

    As for Cindy’s Lewis reference, I agree completely, because the converse is also true. Coming first doesn’t necessarily make you better either.

    In the case of Diego Garcia the Portuguese and then the British moved the people there in the first place and then they moved them out. Which was more wrong? The current legal status of the whole mess is that the islanders will likely be allowed to move back in the next year.

    My point in mentioning the short time that the Diego Garcia ‘natives’ had been there was merely to illustrate that they have no more intrinsic right to the land than the British government or the planters who previously employed them.

    If you’re all for restoring rights, let’s give Diego Garcia back to the families of the original plantation owners. How does that sound?

    Dave

  • Songlines

    What are you saying Nalle? that anyone brought there within the last 200 years doesn’t have right of residence?.Is 200 years too short for you?How many years would it take to claim say a place is your home?300?…400?…500?…by that relentless logic the original inhabitants of North America the Red Indians have the right to ask every white man to leave because they haven’t been around that long either and the Australian Aborigines have every right to claim their continent …they have been around for 40,000 years.

    Don’t try and justify something that is completely unethical Nalle…like Cindy says people can always look back at what you’ve written…

    According to Article 7(d) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) which established the ICC, “deportation or forcible transfer of population” constitutes a crime against humanity if it is “committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack”.

    The British Royal Court of Appeal has recognised this atrocity and ruled that the islanders should be allowed to return to their homes.Read this from the Guardian..The court ruled that thousands of people who were tricked, starved and even terrorised from their homes could return immediately, with the decision likely to draw a line under what is widely seen as one of the most shameful episodes in British colonial history.Chagos islanders win right to return

    Do you know something that the Court of Appeals doesn’t Nalle?

    Here’s a timeline of actual events..Context of ‘July 27, 1971-May 26, 1973: British Forcibly Remove Chagossians from Their Homes’

    You budding historians would do well to read one of Cindy’s links.In it there’s a quote from the writer C.S.Lewis who warns of what he called the snobbery of Chronology…the notion that just because you came later you are necessarily better.Diego Garcia demonstrates not only the snobbery of chronology but also the hubris of empire.

  • Go beyond your googalised version of History and recall the shameful events of Diego Gracia.

    Perhaps you should spend some time on google yourself learning to spell the names of places you write about like Diego Garcia.

    Or for that matter learn about their history. There are no ‘native islanders’ of Diego Garcia. Anyone living there was brought there within the last 200 years before which the atoll was unpopulated.

    Dave

  • Clavos

    @#1032,

    From the evidence apparent in both your original article and your comments throughout this thread, you wouldn’t know a “first rate historian” from a proctologist.

  • socrates

    Surfer,
    ‘The real reason for the doctrine of terra nullius was that despite London’s insistence on a treaty with the aborigines in the early days of the colony, it didn’t happen … simply because there were so many diverse tribes and the difficulty of doing such a thing was near impossible.’

    How very convenient!We natives learned a bitter lesson-There was a saying during the British rule-‘The sun never sets on the British Empire because you can never trust an Englishman in the dark.’

    Go beyond your googalised version of History and recall the shameful events of Diego Gracia. Britain illegally removed the entire population from the Chagos island and expelled them to Mauritius.Diego Gracia was depopulated by expulsion by the British and handed over to USA to serve as Military base there.Even today the islanders do not have the right to return to their homeland- Diego Gracia.The Chagossians have become unpeople and slipped into the black hole of oblivion.

    If you want to educate yourself about Diego Gracia read WEB of Deceit by Mark Curtis- Vintage publication pages 414 to 432.

    If the plunder and pillage of the colonies is a mark of a civilized society, even the monkeys would clamber up the trees and say nuts to Darwin.

    So spare me the humbug of fair play and white man’s burden which is self serving illusion without the backing of historical facts.

  • socrates

    Clavos,#1024

    ‘The white settlers viewed the ‘natives’ or ‘aborigines’ as unpeople.’
    Horseshit.

    You show promise of being a first rate historian if you mean -The white settlers viewed the ‘natives’ or ‘aborigines as (horse shit). Your talents are being wasted as a boat salesman to rich guys.

  • Cindy D

    …but you know this already

    indeed troll. replacing one bias with another would hardly be worthwhile. my pedagogy of critical thinking embraces the examination of all and any information, particularly through active engagement with the real world.

    this could include discussing myth, but i hadn’t really thought about doing that. discussing myth has been more something i use to communicate my point of view on a forum such as this one. my teaching style is more about engaging the learner with the material in an active way, having exposure to all voices including that of the dominant culture, and then allowing the process of thinking and debate to occur and take the learner in whatever direction he or she will go, hopefully freer to evaluate the world.

    do i sense skepticism about what can be scientifically studied? you may wish to update your thinking by familiarizing yourself with, oh, say three or four fields encompassing maybe 100 years or so of published research.

    i can point you to a few places to start for free:

    highbeam research

    but, i bet you wouldn’t have to go that far. perhaps a single course by the title of research methods would suffice.

  • troll

    Cindy – you’ll make a great teacher…try not to drive too many kids nuts with your ‘new’ myths

    question authority…especially your own (and your favorites with their ‘scientific’ studies of social phenomena)

    …but you know this already

    ps – put a little lead in the tip of your ruler

  • Cindy D

    troll,

    I think those are all admirable things. And I think the more people who are free in thought to choose what they want to do the better.

    That is where the ability to challenge preconceptions comes in handy. What if we did not have such preconceptions to begin with? Not that I am suggesting we can erase all cultural myth. Rather, what if for example, our children were taught to think critically and question assumptions, actually read for understanding, discover in the real world what the effects of various actions have, open dialogues with marginalized people?

    I took a class with a professor who was trying to wake people up enough to challenge whether they had chosen their own thoughts. Having that choice is a new experience for me. This “journey” as you called it happened in an English class for teachers.

    I would have become an English teacher, who reasonably enough, taught grammar. What could be wrong with that? I became aware that we have 70 years worth of studies demonstrating that teaching grammar has no affect on producing better writers or readers. Why then do we continue to call for more “back to basics”? How does an intelligent culture (of teachers, I mean) simply disregard scientific evidence in favor of its own bias? Where did it get that bias?

    Challenging cultural assumptions is not an idea that originated with me, nor a new idea. It is more an idea that has become a small movement, getting larger. It holds great promise, from what I have seen, for changing our world. We begin by asking our children to think for themselves and create a place where they are free to do that.

    Involvement in the real world can make school a place that bears a relationship to the problems faced by children themselves. School can, instead of being a mind-numbing irrelevancy, actually become a place that relates to their own experience. A good dramatization of this is the film Freedom Writers. The Freedom Writers Foundation gives the best written account.

    That, troll, is the significance of my “journey”. I am going to be a teacher in a school where many of the children are at cultural disadvantage. I would like to make a difference in their lives rather than replicate the failure of the current system. To do that, I will have to have an understanding of what the current system does wrong. To see that, I will have to challenge what I have believed.

    We each do what we can.

  • Ruvy

    I’m going to try to bring this back to topic – the decline of the American economy. This article in Hebrew from Globes talks about how the dollar has fallen to below NIS 3.30 for the first time since January, 1997.

    The shekel keeps rising against the dollar. It is no longer an issue of currency manipulation – the dollar is truly dropping against the shekel, as is the euro.

    It may well be that the realities under the surface, realities that few of us see, indicate a very strong economy here, as opposed to a very weak economy in the States. This article is an approximate English equivalent.

    A more interesting story for the future is this one, indicating that the New Israeli Shekel is a fully convertible currency as recognized by the International Bank of Settlements, also from Globes.

    Several countries and companies already honor the shekel, but the announcement by CLS is a symbolic act that gives an international stamp of approval to the Israeli currency, and recognizes it as one of the strongest currencies in the world.

  • Surfer

    Cindy,

    I’d like to add here – and to make it very clear – that no one is disputing that these things happened. People in this country ARE fully cognisant of the racism that led to these issues arising in the first place. It’s just the scale on which they happened that’s the issue.

    There have been public forums here, and one reportedly (I wasn’t there but there is plenty fo press coverage) where Manne was challenged to come up with some of the names of the thousands of stolen children and to prove they were stolen and couldn’t even come up with 10. Later, he reportedly provided 200 names but no evidence at all that the children were stolen, despite being asked to do so in the case of just 10 children. Read has also admitted that in NSW, he could only find two files in the records where children were removed “for being aboriginal”. That is two children among 800 examnined in NSW.

    The courts in Australia – which have (quite rightly) sided with aborigines on all kinds of issues including land rights, in a compensation case that was regarded as a test case for the stolen generations, found no evidence existed that the two plaintiffs were stolen, and that was after very thorough and independent searching of the records and the hearing of much evidence.

    I would not hesitate to use the words racism, murder, and social ostracism in regards to the treatment of aborigines in this country, and I can tell you that it didn’t start to change until the 1960s (the same time frame as the US civil rights era), and that it was a slow process.

    All I’m arguing is that the evidence doesn’t support the use of the term genocide, a view that’s also been backed up by a couple of US academics who are regarded as experts in the field.

    But that is not to say terrible wrongs weren’t done, and much harm meted out to aborigines, and that many aboriginal children were institutionalised and had their lives ruined up by abusive white fellas.

    Do you get my drift here, or not, or do I have to put up with accusations of racism simply for offering up a view while not as popular as that touted by academics, is backed up by evidence the other view can’t provide?

    I believe the truth actually lies between two extreme points of view, and involves thousands of children rather than tens of thousands as some historians have claimed.

  • bliffle

    There’s a guy sitting on death row for murder for driving the getaway car. He claims that he was just giving a friend a ride, friend asked him to stop for a minute, ran into bank, killed guard and robbed bank and came back to the car. Friend confessed to the killing to get his sentence reduced from death, the quid pro quo being fingering the driver, who got the DP. The driver never intended to rob a bank.

  • Surfer

    For our pontificating, anti-imperialist, west-hating Indian friends (you’d think with most Indians living in abject poverty as a result of racism and caste and a dreadfully uneven distribution of wealth in their own country, they’d be looking at that first, but no … ): The real reason for the doctrine of terra nullius was that despite London’s insistence on a treaty with the aborigines in the early days of the colony, it didn’t happen … simply because there were so many diverse tribes and the difficulty of doing such a thing was near impossible.

    Which is why the Mabo decision was so important (google it, clowns, I can’t be bothered).

    Also Cindy, in relation to the stolen generations, one historian challenged to come up with 10 names of stolen children and to prove they were actually stolen has been unable to do so. Robert Manne later came up with up with 200 names, but didn’t provide any evidence that they were stolen.

    In Victoria, a large number of organisations either set up or geared up to help the stolen generations childrem, but no one could find any.

    In Victoria, it seemed there weren’t any. And like I say, In NSW, there there were less than a dozen documented cases.

    I havealready said that I don’t agree with much of what Windschuttle believs, but many of his opponents unfortunately haven’t been able to produce any real evidence to shot down his research.

    Windschuttle was a leftie who began researching this stuff and was surprised by what he found. I’m sure he still holds many left views, even if many on the left don’t like some of his other views.

    Myths aren’t history, as much as many people would like that to be the case, especially in India where judging from the comments on this site, they don’t know much about anything.

    I say: the truth of aboriginal mistreatment is bad enough, without making up more sh.t that contains only a grain of truth and causes endless, unnecessary division in this country at a time when there is a healing process underway.

    Myths are dangerous things. Many Indians will tell you that the Dalits are well looked after in India. It’s a nonsense. They are still untouchable almost everywhere, especially in rural India, but most Indians in their dealings with foreigners will tell you the opposite. India is still run on an apartheid system.

    It also has some of the richest people on the planet, and many of the poorest. But really poor, not anything that most people in the west would understand unless they saw it.

  • Cindy D

    @#1022

    unhorseshit

  • Cindy D

    Ruvy,

    –Intent does not have to be proven for anything but the underlying felony.–

    Maybe you missed this part of the definition of felony murder, Cindy. What creates any felony, and murder is just a species of felony, is intent.

    Okay, but what that says is if you are driving the getaway car while your buddies are robbing the bank, and a guard dies of a heart attack, you have committed 1st degree murder. The only proof of intent needed is that your intent to rob the bank.

  • Clavos

    The white settlers viewed the ‘natives’ or ‘aborigines’ as unpeople.

    Horseshit.

  • socrates

    Dear Ruvy,

    The white settlers viewed the ‘natives’ or ‘aborigines’ as unpeople.The early descriptions of the land occupied by the so called natives as being essentially unpopulated.

    If you dehumanize the natives then it is easy to decimate them- destroy them like clearing forests or hunt them down like wild animals.The Nazis viewed Jews as vermin and killed them.Hitler was inspired by slaughter of the native Indians and told his cronies that if the American settlers could do it so could he.He also boasted that as public memory was short about genocides, he could get away with it.

    But couched in gruesome jurisprudential terms-‘ Can a settler be accused of Genocide/ intent to murder when he genuinely believed that he was killing wild animals?

  • socrates

    Dr Dreadful,
    ‘It seems that while you may be able detect racism whether it exists in a comment or not, you have a hard time detecting sarcasm.’

    Certainly not worse than detecting only sarcasm while ignoring racism in comments.


  • I visited US years back and I was shocked to see a black person rummaging a McDonald trash can for food.Do you think the rich poor divide in your country has deepened?

    The standard of living of the average poor person in the US is considerably higher than the standard of living of the average citizen of 90% of the nations of the world. As for black guys rummaging in dumpsters, that has nothing to do with racism. We have our share of homeless people, but the overwhelming majority of them are white, not black. The same is true of our welfare recipients. Disparities in wealth in America are largely not based on race or ethnic background, and less-so all the time.

    Dave

  • Ruvy

    Intent does not have to be proven for anything but the underlying felony.

    Maybe you missed this part of the definition of felony murder, Cindy. What creates any felony, and murder is just a species of felony, is intent.

    You have made no case for genocide in Australia – you have made a case for homicidal neglect. One would need intent to prove genocide*, such as a book like “Mein Kampf” or similar works from the Nazis which delineated Roma (Gypsies) as habitual criminals who needed to be murdered off, and Jews as members of a Gegenrasse who needed to be murdered off to clean the planet.

    In the States, you could argue murder felony as characterizing the behavior of many whites towards Indians: an intent to steal land, while killing them off in the process, accidentally or otherwise. But given as I know little about Australian social history, I’m far less willing to point a finger.

    *Lately, the Arab ass-hole licking boys at the UN, trying hard to convict Israel and Israelis of genocide, have removed intent and put in all sorts of other bullshit as well, attempting to fit the crime to the behavior, rather than the behavior to the crime.

  • troll

    Cindy- all I know is what I can do…here’s an example: war and peace are practical matters of personal choice and action –

    demand disarmament
    declare conscientious objection
    do not enlist
    reject conscription
    boycott war profiteers
    attack the roots of violence

    (“The Roots of Violence are:
    Wealth without work,
    Pleasure without conscience,
    Knowledge without character,
    Commerce without morality,
    Science without humanity,
    Worship without sacrifice,
    Politics without principles”
    Gandhi)

    and counsel others to do the same

    will this make much difference – ?…..uhhh….(look what became of Gandhi and his dream for India)

    there are relatively positive action sets for many problems

    do I have all the answers…..sorry to have given you the impression that I thought so

    am I prepared to act….been at it for years

    it’s not all that complicated really

  • Cindy D

    However, if it is NOT the case, then speak!

  • Cindy D

    AND do not tell me, for example, that you were being rhetorical, as I will have to have a long nap, (otherwise known as a night’s rest). and as is my way (apparently). I will abuse those who agree with me for some dysfunctional reason or other. And if that IS the case (as only you will know) I am deeply sorry. Deeply, deeply sorry.

  • Cindy D

    troll,

    “but the ‘sic et non’ method seems to me to be about as barren as Cindy’s prescribed journey into presuppositions”

    You know what troll, I agree with you, but I am out of ideas. And I will beseech you to ask yourself if you think there is ANY “method” that adequately challenges ignorance.

    evil shit went down is going down is scheduled to go down – what are we going to do about it troll?

    1) Do you have all the answers?
    2) Are you prepared to act?

    Then let us (your compatriots) know. I, for one, am sick to death of the bullshit. If you have a way out of it, let me in on it.

  • Cindy D

    And of course, I know you know that. I am never sure what most people know though, as I usually give them more credit than is deserved.

  • Cindy D

    If you mean what I posted Christopher. I will swear that it is not my rule. It’s just THE LAW. If you didn’t, pardon me.

  • That’s a pretty over the top definition though; way too aggressive to my way of thinking.

  • Cindy D

    Actually, it doesn’t. Murder, that is, doesn’t always require intent.

    FELONY MURDER RULE:*

    …any death, which occurs during the commission or attempt to commit certain felonies, which include arson, rape or other sexual offenses, burglary, robbery or kidnapping, is first-degree murder and all participants in the felony can be held equally culpable, including those who did no harm, possessed no weapon, and did not intend to hurt anyone. Intent does not have to be proven for anything but the underlying felony. Even if, during the commission of the underlying felony, death occurs from fright, a heart attack for instance, it is still first-degree murder.

    * This is an arbitrary link, as I know what the felony murder rule is. I have no idea what this site is about and I make no personal claims about what it says, other than it describes this rule accurately. And I am exhausted. I can attest to that!

  • Ruvy

    Stan,

    Please re-read these points from comment #962

    I doubt that the British settlers in Australia ever had it in mind to exterminate the aborigines – unlike the Romans, and later the Germans, who did have it mind to exterminate Jews.

    But shall we say that it probably didn’t bother them too much if the aborigines died?

    Genocide, like all murder, requires intent. Perhaps the treatment of the aborigines in your country for many years might better be termed homicidal (or genocidal) neglect?

  • Socrates @ #1001:

    It seems that while you may be able detect racism whether it exists in a comment or not, you have a hard time detecting sarcasm.

  • Songlines

    Thank you Socrates….and I think you’ve two new fans in Cindy and Zedd:)

  • socrates

    Songlines,

    ‘The lower castes occupy positions of power.They like to maintain their grip through reservations and such like in education,jobs and promotions.I can’t see how they are perceived as oppressed by the West anymore.’

    So very true.

    Edward Said wrote a book called ‘Orientalism’ where he discusses the skewed view that the westerners have about the Orient. Even today India is perceived as exotic in its viciousness. Nalle’s comments reflect the stereotype of the Orient.

    Enjoyed reading your robust and bracing comments about racism.

  • Zedd

    Socrates,

    I’m at page 2 in my reading. Beautiful so far. Thank you for providing lucidity. I feel encouraged.

  • socrates

    Dave Nalle,
    ‘India has no moral high ground from which to criticize any other nation on human rights issues.’

    I have expressed my opinion in my individual capacity.In a poll conducted in my country about 60% approve Bush.As a country we are out of sync with world opinion.

    I visited US years back and I was shocked to see a black person rummaging a McDonald trash can for food.Do you think the rich poor divide in your country has deepened?

    After adopting the Washington consensus India seems to be heading south inspite of flattering GDP growth which only benefits the upper 20% of the people.

  • Songlines

    The lower castes occupy positions of power.They like to maintain their grip through reservations and such like in education,jobs and promotions.I can’t see how they are perceived as oppressed by the West anymore.

  • Songlines

    the key phrase is “mutual respect”….if you talk down to other cultures its not going to take place.

    Dialogue has to be conducted as between equals…not as between “dominant cultures” and “primitives”

  • socrates

    Christopher Rose,
    ‘But there is, of course, no such thing as racism in Asia. That never happens.’

    I understand that the Japanese look down upon other Asians, especially Indians.

    In India it is caste but things are changing in India with most of the so called ‘lower castes’ now occupying positions of power.

  • socrates

    STM,
    ‘Socrates falls down somewhat in one area: he assumes that if it’s white, it must be racist.’

    More to the point- If you are white you are not necessarily imbued with benevolence as your History books say.

    I believe in the dignity of Labour but mate if you had worked less as a waiter and studied more history of other nations you would have at least had the education to respect other cultures.

  • socrates

    STM,

    Sharne Warne like other Aussie cricketers are gainfully employed in India, slurping on Chicken Tikka and drinking Kingfisher beer. I get the impression they would not like to go back to Australia and milk cows.

  • But there is, of course, no such thing as racism in Asia. That never happens.

  • Songlines

    The “dominant cultures” haven’t been able to get their basics right on how to treat their fellow human beings as this news link amply proves…and yet they give us their “oh!its all your fault” lectures
    Parents claim racism in Harper Lee’s Ala. hometown

  • Songlines

    Asia is already starting to wipe the smirk off the “dominant cultures”

  • Songlines

    see #806 Cindy,
    the Aborigines brought the tragedy on themselves because of the wrong “choices” they made in response to the arrival of British colonialism. Instead of accommodating themselves to the new civilisation, they “chose” to resort to criminal activities–murder and robbery–in order to acquire the consumer goods of British society. …..this is a classic case of blaming the victim instead of the perpetrator.

  • Cindy D

    Surfer,

    In reading Windschuttle’s article (which you have documented @ #950), I am wondering to myself. What is all this talk about “aboriginal children” not being stolen? Those historians who document the “stolen generations” as I read them, are discussing “half-caste” children. Full-bloods, from my understanding were generally left to their families.

    In fact, Manne says this in repudiation of Bolt:

    “Bolt also writes as if in the seizure of the children no racism was involved. If the thousands of children were taken for welfare reasons, to save them from neglect, why is there no example of the removal of a “full-blood” child?”

    It appears, to me, that Windschuttle is using a trick of words to defeat the real point.

    You say: I’ll repeat: mainland geocide is a myth, as are the stolen generations claims (apart from isoalted incidents), and any serious historical study shows this to be the case.

    But besides newsarticles, I am interested in discovering if you have read the actual historians. Have you read, for example,:

    1) Keith Windschuttle’s The Fabrication of Aboriginal History

    2) Whitewash: On Keith Windschuttle’s Fabrication of Aboriginal History, Edited by Robert Manne

    3) The Stolen Generations – a documentary collection by Robert Mann, which was presented to Bolt before their debate and which is available, in full for free, at The Monthly.

    I have spent only maybe 5 hours or so reading. I would like to read the Windschuttle and the Manne book when I get some time (maybe after Blowback).

    For now I will say that this review of Windschuttle’s book pretty much sums up my thinking after spending some time on both sides of the issue:

    From– An assault on historical truth, By Nick Beams:

    “Of course, there is room for disagreement on a whole host of historical issues. The origin and significance of the impact of British colonialism on Aboriginal society, the role of government policy, the nature and extent of Aboriginal resistance, the character of pre-colonial Aboriginal life, among others. They have been, and will continue to be, the subject of research and controversy—part of the intricate and complex process of uncovering the truth of both the past and the present.

    Windschuttle’s book, however, is aimed at obscuring historical truth. His goal is to “prove” an already formulated thesis: that the violence committed against the Aborigines has been vastly overstated. He accuses “orthodox historians” of “fabricating” evidence to meet certain political agendas and claims that the total destruction of Tasmanian Aboriginal society was the fault of the Aborigines.

    According to Windschuttle, the Aborigines brought the tragedy on themselves because of the wrong “choices” they made in response to the arrival of British colonialism. Instead of accommodating themselves to the new civilisation, they “chose” to resort to criminal activities—murder and robbery—in order to acquire the consumer goods of British society.

    As we shall see, Windschuttle’s method can be described as the application of “free market” ideology to the study of history. This is one of the reasons why his work has found such favour among those right wing commentators who regularly ascribe social problems and criminal behaviour to the activities of evil individuals.”

    By the way, Beams is a socialist. I’ll save anyone the trouble if they would like to immediately discount him on that account.

    I will reiterate “…the full story of the crimes committed against the Aborigines is still not appreciated by Australians at large.” (Ian McIntosh)

    I will add that the “popular story” is not the full story.

  • STM

    Lol. I can just see in my mind’s eye throngs of eager Australians banging down the door of places like India and China looking for the opportunity to work as waiters and waitresses and even clamouring for work visas.

    But why go there for that – there’s plenty of that kind of work here. I daresay most of us have done it at some time or another.

    You speak of it like it’s a crime to serve food or drink to another person, something that might be beneath you. Not here it’s not. There’s no real class system here so-crates.

  • STM

    Socrates: “As the power gradually shifts to the East it may not be far off before you serve Chinese beer in Beijing or Chicken Tikka in Delhi.”

    Ah, interesting, so now we see the truth, the bitterness and the hopeful intent behind socrates’ diatribes.

    It’s a get-square is it?

    Socrates falls down somewhat in one area: he assumes that if it’s white, it must be racist.

    Actually, on your other point, I can’t see myself heading to India for any reason these days, even to watch the cricket although I must say I’ve been enjoying the IPL. I don’t mind a nice chicken Tikka, either.

    But Foster’s?? Yuk.

    That’s cat’s p.ss that stuff. I wouldn’t serve it to my worst enemy. Actually, maybe I would.

    And when confronted with a choice between chinese beer and Foster’s, I’d choose the chinese drop any time.

  • STM

    Troll, there is a law archive that contains many references of incidents where whites were prosecuted, tried and punished. I tried to post it yesterday but couldn’t. I will try to dig it up again at home.

    However, for the most part juries prior to that period and magistrates later on in what might be called the frontier areas were reluctant to find whites guilty of such crimes even when the evidence was overwhelming. I suspect the aboriginal traffic to the colonies’ jails outnumbered the white traffic by a considerable margin, and that would be a conservative claim.

    New South Wales, scene of the landmark case involving the Myall Creek massacre, is probably a different ballgame for a significant reason: it was the hub of white settlement in eastern Australia, and therefore the authorities and the judiciary in NSW were far more willing by the mid-1800s (although not as a matter of course) to apply the law as it would mostly be applied in Britain than say a magistrate would in the wild and wooly Northern Territory.

    Bear in mind that that leaves a fair bit of the rest of the continent – most of it – as a wild-west type frontier.

    Basically, beyond the coastal settlements and larger inland towns, once you started to get a ways inland, there wasn’t any law (except the law of the gun – or the spear).

  • socrates

    STM,

    At least unlike your country we don’t sit on our butt drink Fosters and describe genocide as mistreatment.

    As the power gradually shifts to the East it may not be far off before you serve Chinese beer in Beijing or Chicken Tikka in Delhi.

  • I’ve been to India, but I’ve never been to Australia. Yet somehow I find it hard to imagine that India could be nicer than Australia. Let’s just put aside the genocide issue and consider the massive poverty and income inequality. Oh, and forget the Dalits. How are things going with the Sikhs and Kashmiris these days?

    India has no moral high ground from which to criticize any other nation on human rights issues.

    Dave

  • STM

    Yes, I know, Socrates, India’s a much better place than Australia

  • socrates

    Dave Nalle,
    ‘Last time I checked ‘mistreatment’ is not a synonym for ‘genocide’.

    There are other words worthy of your lexical prowess, namely,’pacification’,’collateral damage’,’job flexibility’ and ‘relocation’ to name a few.

    I checked ‘doublespeak’ and came across an interesting definition- ‘words deliberately constructed for political purposes: words, that is to say, which not only had in every case a political implication, but were intended to impose a desirable mental attitude upon the person using them.”

    Does it ring a bell?

  • socrates

    Surfer,
    ‘I’d actually like to hear Socrates view on the Dalits – India’s own dirty little secret … it’s own apartheid. Despite what India’s constitution says, the untouchables are still exactly that in most parts of India today, except in some of the larger cities where they have managed to blend into the landscape somewhat.’

    Please visit our country and try insulting a Dalit- the chances are you would be clamped in irons and sent to prison.The press in India does not spare any one committing atrocities on Dalits.
    KR Narayanan -a Dalit became President of India.How many aborigines occupied similar positions of power in your country?

    At least,we do not call genocide as mistreatment.

    ‘A white man could have walked for a thousand miles through the bush in Australia, and not seen an aborigine.’

    I wonder why? May be you thought an aborigine was an animal to be hunted like rabbits?

  • Songlines

    [Entire comment deleted]

    Songlines, knock it off. There’s a line between trying to prove a point and being a complete dickhead. It’s not a fine line either.

    ASSISTANT COMMENTS EDITOR

  • troll

    good stuff dude – have you got some idea of number of cases brought to trial and conviction rates (and the like) – ?

  • Surfer

    Ruvy: “If you do the math, and use the 31,000 aborigines counted in 1911 compared to the 350,000 estimated to be living in Oz”

    The big problem with those figures is that the original is an estimate only (by whom, I don’t know), and the 1911 figures are hugely flawed. You have to understand the nature of the bush in Australia Ruve: if you don’t want to be found, you won’t be. Aborigines know this better than anyone.

    A white man could have walked for a thousand miles through the bush in Australia, and not seen an aborigine.

    But they were there all right.

    All I am arguing against here is the rewriting of history to suit a particular political view.

    One said plays it down, the other plays it up.

    The truth lies somewhere between.

    But it still doesn’t constitute genocide, no matter how you look at it if you look at it honestly.

    One of the things that always had me thinking was the hanging or imprisonment of white settlers for the murder of aborigines, after a fair trial.

    There are many cases, but one that is actually quite famous because it disavowed any white settlers of the notion that they could just go out and kill people. There is a classic case documented at Myall Creek in far northern New South Wales (the original colony, now a state) in 1838 where a group of 11 white men in a posse were convicted of killing 28 aboriginal men, women and children in response to earlier clashes. They claimed the group (which was peaceable) had been rustling cattle but the court found no evidence of any such thing. Seven of the white posse were hung, others locked up.

    People who want to commit genocide don’t let notions of justice get in the way of what they are doing … as you well know.

    How many Germans would have been hung in 1942 for the killing of jews?? This is an important point.

  • Surfer

    I’d actually like to hear Socrates view on the Dalits – India’s own dirty little secret … it’s own apartheid. Despite what India’s constitution says, the untouchables are still exactly that in most parts of India today, except in some of the larger cities where they have managed to blend into the landscape somewhat.

    In my view, what goes on in Australia in terms of genuinely trying to embrace all cultures on this continent regardless of race, colour or creed (and where the division of wealth is deliberately far narrower than it is in India in an attempt to offer everyone a fair go and some notion of community), is far more benign than the deliberate social exclusion of a large part of the population, and the deliberate keeping of wealth and opportunity from the vast majority of the population which forces them to live in what can best be described as abject poverty.

    If I were Socrates, I’d be inclined to focus on a fix for my own dreadful problems before embraking on uninformed and race-based criticism of another’s.

    What I find interesting about some of these arguments in regard to colonialism and imperialism, is that the subjugated peoples are now banging down the doors of their former oppressors to go and live there and amongst them.

    And mostly, except by a small minority, they are welcomed with open arms.

  • Curious to know why the Prime Minister of Australia Kevin Rudd apoligised for the mistreat of the Aborigines in the Parliament?

    Last time I checked ‘mistreatment’ is not a synonym for ‘genocide’.

    Even what happened to the natives of North America was not genocide with a couple of incidents excepted. Their decline was largely the result of accidental infection by diseases they had no resistance to and a territorial war which was not genocidal in character.

    The only actual attempts at genocide were IMO the use of smallpox infected blankets against native populations, first by English colonists in Massachusets and later by American frontiersmen in the Dakotas. I think the Dawes Sevrality act could be considered an attempt at cultural genocide.

    However, there was no widespread, planned attempt to exterminate native americans as a people within the boundaries of the US at any time in its history.

    Dave

  • Surfer

    Songlines: “you didn’t tell us your opinion about Australian aborigines”.

    My son is aboriginal. I love him. Good enough for you??

  • Cindy D

    Stan = Surfer?

    Okay, if so,

    I did come across Windschuttle, before I read the link in your post. The thread was moving in a direction I wanted to speak on for a bit though meantime I have been examining the “history wars”. But I am still working on it and I will reply to that post. So far I came up with a number of historians and writers writing books and articles that attempt to discredit eachother. It will take a bit of reading to understand it all.

  • Ruvy

    Ruvy: It is likely that 85% of the aborigines on the continent died directly or indirectly due to policies of the white settlers, and that is one hell of a percentage of people to lose to “appalling treatment”.

    Stan: Ruvy: please do some research instead of plucking a figure of 85 per cent out of the air. It’s simply not fact.

    This is from comment 853: I was unable to find the comment that I originally pulled my 85% number from.

    Australian aborigines, native people of Australia who probably came from somewhere in Asia more than 40,000 years ago. In 2001 the population of aborigines and Torres Straits Islanders was 366,429, 1.9% of the Australian population as a whole and slightly more than the estimated aboriginal population of 350,000 at the time of European colonization in the late 18th cent.

    If you do the math, and use the 31,000 aborigines counted in 1911 compared to the 350,000 estimated to be living in Oz at the end of the 1700’s you get a 91% elimination rate, as opposed to the 85% I used. I think I used a minimal number of 250,000 aborigines; again doing the math and comparing to the 31,000 found in 1911, one finds an elimination rate of 87%.

    Now, before you start jumping all over the beer bottles in anger remember the opening line to my comment:

    I’m not going to point the finger and scream genocide over what happened in your country;

  • Songlines

    personal experience has left me not particularly liking two groups of people on this planet: Indians and Germans..you didn’t tell us your opinion about Australian aborigines

  • >>Yes, I agree. The Incas actually conquered an apparently much more peaceful (or merely content and uninterested in expansion) people called the Daguita.< < Let's not forget the Aztecs conquering the hell out of everyone and oppressing them mercilessly. For excesses of violence, genocide and massacre they're hard to beat. Looked at through a modern lens they're looked at as among the innocent aboriginal people oppressed by evil westerners. And as westerners go, the colonial Spanish are about as evil as they come. Yet from the perspective of the Zapotecs or Toltecs the Aztecs were the evil imperialist bastards. >>I would only argue to replace “tribe to work metal” with “agricultural tribe” as the origin. (and of course, i could be wrong in my thinking) Because it is agriculture, in my understanding, that is the basis of the need for more land. The hunter-gatherers generally moved around to obtain fresh food and were not typically of the mindset that land ownership per se was even a possibility. Territory in this case is considered a different idea.< < Agriculture makes it possible to concentrate labor to support other industries, so it's the basic underlying technology which makes civilization possible. And once labor is concentrated then a society produces specialized laborers, including warriors/soldiers whose job is to expand territory to support larger concentrated populations of specialized workers, and thus conquest and warfare go hand in hand with any kind of 'civilization'. I am for saying, “Wait a moment, we are at a point of “advancing” and “civilizing” ourselves toward destruction. And do civilized and advanced people really want to be headed in this direction?” So, what I am looking at are things like how does the popular opinion get disconnected from the historical facts. Things like that.

    Well, that’s all pretty vague. I do agree that as society becomes more sophisticated we can find ways to divert ourselves from excess violence and oppression of other groups. But we can never really make up for the past, even if we make efforts to expiate societal guilt, and there comes a point where we have to acknowledge that the living really bear no responsibility for the crimes of the dead, or it all gets entirely out of hand.

    Dave

    In other words, we all get our story from our culture. That includes Incans, American Indians, and Aborigines.

    Because of the way we have advanced we have (and I mean the dominant culture) made it impossible for other cultures to exist within their own context. This impoverishes us as well as them. It also gives us notions that our culture is somehow the most superior. Thus this trend toward hegemony gives us no fresh perspective. Life requires variety to survive. When one type dominates everything it is not usually a good thing. As it is, we have changed our world in ways that are very destructive. Perhaps some ways that can never be repaired. Our survival depends on stopping this progression. Looking at things differently. Allowing in some ideas we did not allow in before. You know the saying, “If nothing changes, then nothing changes.”

  • Surfer

    Kevin Rudd apologising for the mistreatment of aborigines (on behalf of non-indigenous Australians) is a lot different to giving truth to the myth of genocide and the claimed scale of the “stolen generations”.

    As I keep saying, and you keep ignoring, no one disputes that these things happened.

    It is the scale of what happened that it is in dispute in this country, as well it should be, because figures plucked out of thin air by a few white academics don’t equate to proper research of historical documents.

    The historical documents quite clearly show that white settlers engaged in a what was basically a genocidal frontier war with Tasmanian aborigines, but that there was no such thing on the mainland.

    It’s easy to sit over there in India Socrates pontificating about what might or might not have happened on the strength of a bit of internet trolling and the works of some discredited academics, but history can’t be written on hearsay. I’d also say that aborigines are treated far better in this country than the vast majority of Indian peasants and urban poor who are victims of the Indian caste system and who live in abject poverty even in the 21st century. That is the majority of Indians, by the way.

    The accurate study of history requires reference to records, texts and statements, and these don’t back up either a mainland genocide or the stolen generations claims – or even mistreatment on the scale some are claiming.

    I’ll repeat: mainland geocide is a myth, as are the stolen generations claims (apart from isoalted incidents), and any serious historical study shows this to be the case.

    Ill treatment of aborigines and some isolated actions over a period of time in taking half-blood aborigines from their families are a fact that we all acknowledge.

    As I say above, in NSW its was so isolated in terms of removing children from families that only a few cases were documented. This is by the British, remember, who are inveterate record keepers.

    As for any thinly-disguised suggestions of racism, I’ll turn that back on you Socrates.

    What, if it’s white, it must be racist. That’s a mighty dangerous assumption. I voted for Kevin Rudd knowing full well that he’d make that apology as it was part of the Labor platform, and I agree with it wholeheartedly.

    I think I’d be in reasonable position to know a bit about too this as there is some indigenous Australian background in my own family.

    Still, I’m a bit like you in some respects: personal experience has left me not particularly liking two groups of people on this planet: Indians and Germans, and while that is a generalisation because there are always many exceptions to the rule (and there have been), I suppose being white, that makes me at least 50 per cent racist.

  • socrates

    Dear Cindy,
    Some of our friends seem to be in a state of denial about the genocide of Aborigines in Australia.

    Curious to know why the Prime Minister of Australia Kevin Rudd apoligised for the mistreat of the Aborigines in the Parliament?

    Maybe we need Racist proof fence in Australia.

  • Surfer

    Cindy: “…the full story of the crimes committed against the Aborigines is still not appreciated by Australians at large.” (Ian McIntosh)

    Actually, Australians at large are hugely cognisant of this.

    It’s just that when we all started to buy the opinions of people like Read and McIntosh, and then did the research and the notion of geonocide, it just didn’t stack up.

    This is the problem. It’s not that these things didn’t happen, it’s the claim about the scale on which they happened.

    Please see the link I posted to Keith Windschuttle for you above. It’s an illustration of what’s been touted around in this country.

    When you are talking stolen generations, for instance, Windschuttle goes through all the records in New South Wales, and finds a dozen or so maximum of children removed from their families in the era talked about. No one talks about this however: There was a scheme operating from the 1890s that offered PAID trade apprenticeships to aboriginal boys, paid their living away costs, and allowed them to return home as soon as their study was finished. Many thousands took it up.

    It’s just not at all how it has been painted by a small cadre of white academics who in many cases have fabricated numbers in a bid to jump on the bandwagon

  • Surfer

    Troll: “Stan – there are stories in American folklore that tell how many white settlers held the view (following Sheridan) that ‘the only good indian is a dead one’…are there tales about a similar attitude toward aborigines amongst whites in Oz.”

    No. It’s bullshit. It was the least violent collision of colonisers and indigenous inhabitants anywhere.

    There was no genocide. In the past few decades, some white academics have fabricated the figures. It’s always telling when people start off with “no actual figures exist, but …”

    History has been rewritten in regards to the genocide of aborigines and it’s a total fabrication.

    In many cases, historians have just plucked figures out of thin air. They just don’t stack up.

    There are 500,000 aborigines in Australia today, which is a significant group in a population of 20 million.

    Clearly, you can see with your own eyes there was no genocide.

    But people keep spruiking this nonsense.

    It’s like Americans bizarrely believing they won or “we drew” the War of 1812. When you research it, they didn’t. They lost it. It’s just a myth, and myths have no place in the honest study of history.

    Ruvy: please do some research instead of plucking a figure of 85 per cent out of the air. It’s simply not fact.

  • Clavos

    If it walks like a canard and quacks like a canard…

    If your canard insists on staying very close to home, it’s probably a base canard.

    Three canards walk into a bar. The bartender, spotting them as they enter, yells,

    “Duck!”

  • bliffle

    Sometimes I think Dave has a reading disability. I quoted his original statement in comment #1 that: “the US is not and has never been an empire,…”.

    His stand now seems to be that there have been many empires and ours is a good one. Without actually conceding that we are an empire.

    I also said that I wasn’t necessarily against our empire, that it wasn’t necessarily evil, which Dave transmuted into “As for the tedious canard that the US is imperialistic and Western civilization is evil, let me point out one obvious reality which you’re all overlooking. Expansionism, conquest, domination of neighbors and even cultural imperialism are NOT exclusively characteristics of western civilization, they are characteristics of ALL organized and advanced societies.”

    So it must also be true of OUR society, so we are imperialist. So it is NOT a canard.

    Here’s what I said about our american empire:

    “I’m not even arguing against USA Imperialism. IMO it’s accomplished some good things. But, good or bad, we are an imperialist nation. The trick is not to be non-imperialist (since imperialism springs from innate tendencies in all humans) but to have a good imperialism. If we sacrifice our loudly stated virtues in the pursuit of mere imperialism we have lost everyhing, whether we gain territory and control of other peoples, or not.”

    Dave has refuted his original statement and now posits a new ‘canard’ and then refutes THAT!

  • Cindy D

    Sorry, that was not meant to be condescending. It was that I rather enjoy discussions with you when we are both in respectful mode. I realize that I am not always in that mode.

  • Cindy D

    P.S. Dave, Thanks for the reasonable comments.

  • Cindy D

    Dave,

    …let me point out one obvious reality which you’re all overlooking. Expansionism, conquest, domination of neighbors and even cultural imperialism are NOT exclusively characteristics of western civilization, they are characteristics of ALL organized and advanced societies…”

    Yes, I agree. The Incas actually conquered an apparently much more peaceful (or merely content and uninterested in expansion) people called the Daguita.

    When the first tribe to work metal conquered its stone-age neighbors, or encouraged them to join in an alliance with it because of their superior technology, and when it was then imitated by a tribe down the river which stole its metallurgical secrets, that was the beginning of the dynamic which is fundamental to human society which you folks are now decrying as oppression and imperialism.

    I would only argue to replace “tribe to work metal” with “agricultural tribe” as the origin. (and of course, i could be wrong in my thinking) Because it is agriculture, in my understanding, that is the basis of the need for more land. The hunter-gatherers generally moved around to obtain fresh food and were not typically of the mindset that land ownership per se was even a possibility. Territory in this case is considered a different idea.

    So, there we have it. Any culture that developed “the might”, might have been in a position to destroy the whole thing. I am not for going back to being hunter-gatherers. I don’t think westerners or white people or Americans are inherently any different than anyone else. I am for saying, “Wait a moment, we are at a point of “advancing” and “civilizing” ourselves toward destruction. And do civilized and advanced people really want to be headed in this direction?” So, what I am looking at are things like how does the popular opinion get disconnected from the historical facts. Things like that.

    In other words, we all get our story from our culture. That includes Incans, American Indians, and Aborigines.

    Because of the way we have advanced we have (and I mean the dominant culture) made it impossible for other cultures to exist within their own context. This impoverishes us as well as them. It also gives us notions that our culture is somehow the most superior. Thus this trend toward hegemony gives us no fresh perspective. Life requires variety to survive. When one type dominates everything it is not usually a good thing. As it is, we have changed our world in ways that are very destructive. Perhaps some ways that can never be repaired. Our survival depends on stopping this progression. Looking at things differently. Allowing in some ideas we did not allow in before. You know the saying, “If nothing changes, then nothing changes.”

  • Cindy D

    Dr.D,

    Well, I think you’ve hitched ‘throughout history’ and ‘westerners’ together in a rather cavalier fashion…

    Point taken, thanks. That’s actually sort of an obnoxious thing to do.

  • troll

    yup – it’s all for the best in this best of all possible worlds…such foolishness to rail at reality

  • Sometimes I wonder if the Saxon bits of me should apologize to my Welsh bits for my ancestors’ genocide against the Celts, but then the Viking bits of me would have to apologize to the Saxon bits for all those war crimes along the North Sea coast, and my French bits would have to apologize to everyone for the Norman Conquest.

  • Bliffle, I also find your contributions here to be woefully biased and laden with questionable opinions and not a bit of factual support. I don’t mind that you choose to periodically launch personal attacks at me as you did recently in this thread, because if I am irritating and frustrating you, then I am accomplishing something positive for everyone. You represent the complacent arrogance of the left and if I put you on the defensive and reduce you to making personal attacks then I am doing good.

    As for the tedious canard that the US is imperialistic and Western civilization is evil, let me point out one obvious reality which you’re all overlooking. Expansionism, conquest, domination of neighbors and even cultural imperialism are NOT exclusively characteristics of western civilization, they are characteristics of ALL organized and advanced societies. From the Egyptians to the Incas to the Han to the Moghuls to the Yoruba to the Japanese to the Iroquois to countless other examples – dynamic and growing cultures expand and influence those around them, through conquest, through annexation, through cultural domination. It is not unique to western civilization and it is no more characcteristic of the United States than of hundreds of other societies on a smaller scale throughout history.

    When the first tribe to work metal conquered its stone-age neighbors, or encouraged them to join in an alliance with it because of their superior technology, and when it was then imitated by a tribe down the river which stole its metallurgical secrets, that was the beginning of the dynamic which is fundamental to human society which you folks are now decrying as oppression and imperialism.

    What you are railing against as so terrible is nothing but the ongoing development of human society. To oppose it is to oppose humanity and it’s a pretty ridiculous position to try to defend.

    Dave

  • Ruvy

    The opposite viewpoint to the right’s, mostly from the left (no prizes for guessing that), is that the treatment of indigenous Australians since white settlement constitutes genocide.

    I still maintain, however, that genocide is too strong a word, and that’s not about splitting hairs. Appalling treatment is another thing altogether.

    Stan,

    I’m not going to point the finger and scream genocide over what happened in your country; but I’d like you to think about something.

    When the Romans conquered and defeated Judea 2,000 years ago they embarked on a program of murdering off as many Jews as they could in an unsystematic way. One of the reasons the early Christians wanted to distance themselves from us was this policy of – well there is no other word for it – genocide.

    But you need to bear in mind that the technology of the day did not allow for the construction of death camps as it did for the Nazis.

    The first “concentration camps” were invented by the Spanish in the 1890’s in their efforts to subdue Cubans fighting for independence, and these camps were mimicked by the British in attempting to subdue the Boers in the early 1900’s. And in both cases, the intent of the concentration camps was not to kill people, but to deprive guerillas of their families, forcing them to lay down their arms. These original concentration camps were not death camps by any means.

    I doubt that the British settlers in Australia ever had it in mind to exterminate the aborigines – unlike the Romans, and later the Germans, who did have it mind to exterminate Jews.

    But shall we say that it probably didn’t bother them too much if the aborigines died?

    Genocide, like all murder, requires intent. Perhaps the treatment of the aborigines in your country for many years might better be termed homicidal (or genocidal) neglect?

    It is likely that 85% of the aborigines on the continent died directly or indirectly due to policies of the white settlers, and that is one hell of a percentage of people to lose to “appalling treatment”.

  • bliffle

    The natives ARE subdued. No need to kill them.

  • Cindy: we can try to understand why we have this repetition throughout history of westerners:

    conquering, killing, enslaving, owning, marginalizing.

    Well, I think you’ve hitched ‘throughout history’ and ‘westerners’ together in a rather cavalier fashion, Cindy, but certainly in the history of the period from about 1500-1950 that policy is a dismally European motif.

    The origins of it can be found in Europe’s new-found commercial vigor, wherein first Spain and then France, England, Portugal, Holland and others engaged in a series of no-holds-barred empire-building matches to see who could be the biggest and the baddest.

    In that sense, subduing the natives was a ‘good’ policy because it meant you weren’t fighting on two fronts at the same time.

  • Clavos

    CHARGE!!

  • Re: “the only good indian is a dead Indian”.

    It was enough of a common saying 100 years ago that the usually admirable Theodore Roosevelt could say, “I don’t go so far as to think that the only good Indians are dead Indians, but I believe nine out of every ten are, and I shouldn’t like to inquire too closely into the case of the tenth.”

  • Clavos

    Well, it’s a well known fact that white people the world over want to eradicate all people of color.

    Ever meet a brown Nazi, a black man in a white hood, or an Asian fascist? The great oppressors are always white.

    I say, let’s get the jump on them and eradicate all the whites first.

    Think of how much it would improve the world.

    Take back Aztlan!

  • bliffle

    troll,

    “there are stories in American folklore that tell how many white settlers held the view (following Sheridan) that ‘the only good indian is a dead one’..”

    Folklore? That statement was common among certain people in my youth (though not in my family). Friends, co-workers, casual acquaintances, I heard people say it and then look like they had said something clever.

    Not just in those Ancient Times, either. A few months ago I heard it from a nice middle-class person during a discussion of some modest low rent housing being made available to native Americans.

  • Cindy D

    Perhaps some words from a giant lowland gorilla would be appropriate here:

    “There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with people. Given a story to enact that puts them in accord with the world, they will live in accord with the world. But given a story to enact that puts them at odds with the world, as yours does, they will live at odds with the world. Given a story to enact, in which they are the lords of the world, they will act as the lords of the world. And, given a story to enact in which the world is a foe to be conquered they will conquer it like a foe, and one day, inevitably, their foe will lie bleeding to death at their feet, as the world is now.” Ishmael–Daniel Quinn

  • Cindy D

    Stan,

    I agree with you that we cannot go backward. But we can try to understand why we have this repetition throughout history of westerners:

    conquering, killing, enslaving, owning, marginalizing.

    We say we weren’t there, we can’t go back. That is true. But we are products of a history that has done savagery, we are not now cured of this or removed from it.

    In other words, these things were first completely acceptable things to to, now they are not acceptable, so we try to hide them and minimize their destructiveness.

    If you look in the popular accounts only things that are as well-examined are admitted.

    I will repost this because reading these words is exactly what I am talking about:

    “…the full story of the crimes committed against the Aborigines is still not appreciated by Australians at large.” (Ian McIntosh)

    How can people at large have the truth of a matter hidden from them? How can the greater number of people believe what is false. There is a “mechanism” that allows for this to take place.

    I have been trying to illuminate about this “mechanism”.

    I cannot tell you how many bugs I crushed walking through my garden.

  • troll

    Stan – there are stories in American folklore that tell how many white settlers held the view (following Sheridan) that ‘the only good indian is a dead one’…are there tales about a similar attitude toward aborigines amongst whites in Oz – ?

  • Anand Menon

    Ruvy,re #947,you askedwhy is it that only the shekel is going up against the dollar…well….what happens is that sometimes governments deliberately intervene in currencies to protect the export lobby or industries such as software which earn in dollars from exacerbating their losses.The indian software exports is heavily dependent on the value of the U.S dollar.India and the U.S are joined at the hip.The rupee has appreciated almost 9% in the past year which has hit the exporters earnings.Check this link outWhen global inflation is high in dollar terms, why keep the rupee cheap?

  • bliffle

    Cindy,

    Re #928. Yes, I concluded Dave was unreasonable, unreliable, and a bit of a bully, some time ago. He affects an air of rationality, which is easily deflated, but he’s a rationalizer instead. It’s usually a joke to trace down his citations, but the experience is so fruitless that it’s not worth the effort.

    His extravagant claims could be piquant and interesting if he presented some kind of case, but he doesn’t, he just wants to bully one into accepting his assertion. For example this statement in the very first comment to this article: “the US is not and has never been an empire,…”. It takes ones breath away! It seems obvious to me that most Americans are proudly and assertively Imperialist! We even had a famous railroad whose motto was “The Empire Builder”. We are all part of a Great American Movement to show others the Better Way that makes America exceptional. It is our Manifest Destiny.

    Our entire history is about the March Of Empire. Thomas Jefferson acquired the Louisiana Purchase, but our Empire simply dispossessed the peoples who happened to be living there. All the states that clamored to join the Union were consciously desirous of joining that movement. They were led by Imperialist Leaders who were convinced that they knew what was best and that it could best be achieved by the amassed power of the Federal Empire. Just look at Texas own history in all it’s flamboyant imperialism.

    One could go on and on. But it’s not really necessary. In fact, the open proclamations of most USA citizens regarding the righteousness of our Imperialism makes the point moot.

    I’m not even arguing against USA Imperialism. IMO it’s accomplished some good things. But, good or bad, we are an imperialist nation. The trick is not to be non-imperialist (since imperialism springs from innate tendencies in all humans) but to have a good imperialism. If we sacrifice our loudly stated virtues in the pursuit of mere imperialism we have lost everyhing, whether we gain territory and control of other peoples, or not.

    If we torture people and strip them of the rights stated in our Declarations and Constitution, then regardless of the territory or people we control by force, we have voluntarily surrendered to defeat. A defeat precipitated by our own mental frailties and not by any armies. Soon we will be thrown on the Dustheap Of History. The same course that the Communist Soviet Union took.

  • STM

    Doc and Cindy, here’s the other side of the coin, and well researched, particularly as regards New South Wales (which for the sake of all you Americans who haven’t been here or sent me a letter, will be called NSW in this story).

    Windschuttle has some views I don’t like – like his view on the Tasmanian aborigines – but does do his research, and it’s a cogent argument. He doesn’t argue against the notion that these things were done … it’s the scale on which they were done and it’s an important point ( a key point in reality) when words like genocide are being bandied about.

  • STM

    Songliners: “pity they dont have a racist proof fence for the likes of STM”

    Mate, racist is the last thing I am.

    You obviously don’t read posts in full, or are a recent arrival here on BC, or you wouldn’t even be suggesting it. You need to be disavowed of that notion or there is no point in addressing anything you write.

    What I am is someone who thinks the truth lies between the two extreme positions. In other words, no genocide, but violence and neglect, and no stolen generations, but episodes (especially in Queensland, and until recently, even other Australians found Queenslanders a bizarre bunch) where part-aboriginal children were removed from their parents to be raised as whites.

    Oh, and I hate bullsh.t, even when it’s spouted for a good cause (and you obviously have an affinity with the stuff).

    Why? Because as whites and blacks in Australia keep pointing out, it just causes more divisions and we’ve just got rid a government that thought it could ride those divisions to stay in power. Unlike like some people here, I’d like to look to the future, not the past – and address the issues of today.

    So I’d suggest to songliners/songlines: give yourself an uppercut (that’s if you can find your chin). You don’t know shit from clay. Anyone can troll the internet. Maybe you should come here and see it all first-hand before you pass judgment on my (non-existent) racism.

    As for quoting Bolt, Doc, he’s at least attempting to present the other point of view. It’s very important that this is the case, as a one-sided view of it all as presented here and in Rabbit-Proof Fence is simply wrong. He’s also way smarter than that fool O’Reilly.

    Bolt at least takes the position that there is some truth in all this.

    I still maintain, however, that genocide is too strong a word, and that’s not about splitting hairs. Appalling treatment is another thing altogether.

  • STM

    Cindy,

    There is a view touted around in Australia by the right that modern Australia has no need to apologise to indigenous Australians over their treatment during the past 200 years or so. I don’t agree – there has been plenty of harm done, and Australians as a whole need to come together on this to make their peace. The descendants of white colonialists need to take stock and think about it … but the truth is, times have changed and the only answer multi-cultural modern Australia needs to come up with is what to do about it. The courts have led the way and made rulings in land cases, and many aboriginal communities have been given back traditional ownership of their lands. With our previous, right-wing government (thankfully) consigned to the dustbin of history, the country will return to labour laws that previously existed for 100 years that don’t allow discrimination in wages the way you would find in America.

    The opposite viewpoint to the right’s, mostly from the left (no prizes for guessing that), is that the treatment of indigenous Australians since white settlement constitutes genocide.

    Neither are correct. The notion of genocide on the mainland is something very recent, whereas in Tasmania, where it really did occur, it’s been studied by schoolchildren for generations. We all know about it, and we all ackowledge it. That might be the clue: if no one talked about genocide on the mainland before the 1970s, it probably didn’t happen.

    There was no genocide on the mainland. Ilness introduced by whites killed many indigenous Australians early on, and yes, some WERE killed randomly in shocking acts of violence, but genocide implies something else. The “stolen generations” is also a myth, but contains a grain of truth – some part-aboriginal children WERE removed from traditional life (where they were outcasts within their own communities) and brought up in the white community.

    Doubtless, some were ill treated and abused. Most weren’t, and readily admit they were treated with love and kindness by adoptive parents, but they WERE removed from their culture and their blood kin, which is the real bugbear. Just as great a tragedy in Australia were the many thousands of child migrants brought from Britain post WWII who were brought up in orphanges and institutionalised and regularly ill-treated and abused.

    What happened here is bad enough (across the board, bearing in mind that penal transportation didn’t end here until the 1860s) – for instance, racism (in a country that until 40 years ago conspired to keep out non-white immigrants), violence, ignorance, stripping indigenous Australians of their cultural identity, not counting them as citizens until the 1960s, not addressing some serious health and lifestyle issues, etc, and most importantly, not addressing the sense of hopelessness and helplessness this has wrought.

    Adding other things to this mix that are not real – myths, in other words – only serves to inflame tensions between blacks and whites in this country in an era when most of us just want to be treated equally, even if that means acknowledging our differences.

    You are right in some respects: indigenous Australians ARE at the bottom of the heap when it comes to life expectancy, prison populations, infant mortatlity, and the like. Mainly, that is in the bush and among small pockets of indigenous Australians in urban areas.

    However, it is no longer true that indigenous Australians are treated as social outcasts. Obviously, some racism exists, like anywhere. But by and large, most people here today understand that the original inhabitants of this continent are part of the rich tapestry of a new culture that seeks to include everyone and to right the wrongs of the past.

    That’s where I stand, and in taking that position, I believe I have a duty to encourage people who don’t live here to sort fact from fiction.

    In regard to Bolt’s story, I tried to post a copy of it yesterday but couldn’t, but whether Olsen thinks the quotes have been taken out of context or not, they ARE the quotes of Molly Craig, and she does kill off much of the myth in the story.

    It’s great entertainment, Cindy, and based on a grain of truth, but it’s not fact. Since it’s about Molly, and she shoots most of it down, that’s good enough for me.

    I always prefer the true account to the Hollywood one – and surely, as an American, in a country where virtually every aspect of American life is fictionalised on-screen and bears no resemblance to reality, you understand that.

  • Ruvy

    STILL GOIN’UP! This article in Hebrew details the steady rise of crude to $135/bbl while the shekel still stays at over 30 cents.

    Now, kids, why is it that only the shekel is going up against the dollar, and the Bank of Israel has to keep stepping in as rag-sheeny to support the American dollar?

  • Cindy D

    LOL Vox…very clever name.

    That reminds me of a skeptic I met who has a website called The Millenium Project. He exposes pseudoscience in three of its forms, harmless, crazy, and dangerous. Dangerous people are placed in the Millenium Project Category.

    His posted definition:

    We all know that “millennium” comes from the Latin words “mille” and “annus” and means a thousand years. The word “millenium” comes from the Latin words “mille” and “anus” and means something else. This web site is devoted to the millenium of sites which don’t deserve a place on the Web. We are not putting them on a pedestal – we are offering them a stool. ratbags.com

  • vox pooppuli

    Cindy – you know as well as I do that all that cultural contact space crap is just propaganda for her underlying pinko multilingual agenda

    NYU – ha…commie to the core

    (it’s a dirty job etc)

  • Clav @ #939:

    I believe he’s ‘pushing the envelope’ – track back a few more comments and you’ll see what it’s all about.

  • Cindy D

    have=haven’t

    Oh I forgot:

    Signed,
    Dave

  • Cindy D

    Dave here is my analysis of your last post:

    Cindy,

    I have actually read what you gave me. But I know “its kind” based on my own assumptions and personal bias. Mary Louise Pratt is equivalent to a 911 Truther.

    I presume to know this, in the same way Clav does. Not by presenting any evidence, but simply spitting out my opinion, as I usually do.

    If you press me for facts, I may have to resort to skimming over a few things to try to discredit you. Otherwise I will simply ignore a request for facts, knowing that my post will soon be moving up in the thread. Where it will disappear from any further questioning.

  • Clavos

    That holds for a hell of a lot of the garbage that’s published in academia these days; especially the crap that comes from the “Social Sciences” dweebs, who are barely one step above the Education majors.

  • It is definitely not a text that lends itself to skimming and discounting. (Which to Dave’s credit, he did not try to do when I offered it to him, but instead, simply dismissed it.)

    Just for the record, Cindy, I’ve read more than a few articles written in the kind of academic tranzi doublespeak you’re referring to. It appears ever so clever and like something you must read carefully to get the deep meaning, but once you’ve done all that work you realize that the words of wisdom are worthless because the premises on which the argument is based are garbage. It’s actually surprisingly like reading ‘thoughtful’ analyses by 9/11 truthers.

    Dave

  • Clavos

    Doc,

    Who’s “songliners?”

    Whomever [s]he is, they’re pretty quick with the character assassination. (see #938)

  • Songliners

    Read this all of you who are in denial.Stolen generations

    pity they dont have a racist proof fence for the likes of STM

  • Yeah, Stan, I’ve checked Bolt out a bit on the web and I must say he does come across as a one-man Aussie equivalent of Bill O’Reilly – reactionary opinions, scandals, lawsuits and all.

    I realize that the messenger doesn’t invalidate the message, but going by Bolt’s track record, citing him as support for your argument seems to me a bit like invoking O’Reilly in an immigration debate.

  • Songlines

    Cindy that was a good link to Olsen.Here’s another one..The cruelty of denial…just goes to show the levels to which people will go to support their arguments.

  • a local brand that tastes worse than horse piss

    Ah. Probably brewed under license from Budweiser, then.

  • Cindy D

    “…the full story of the crimes committed against the Aborigines is still not appreciated by Australians at large.” (Ian McIntosh)

    It’s the same link as above, the first article this time.

    Mr. McIntosh, in this article, gives his assessment of Andrew Bolt’s bias, countering Bolt’s “beliefs”, and underscoring Bolt’s sanitization of history. You may read that for yourself. I would like to point out here though, that this is the way the myths of the empire are given life:

    Bolt’s naïve and misguided attempt at objective reporting is causing an uproar, particularly because Australian papers are prepared to print his inflammatory remarks. (McIntosh)

  • Ruvy

    OK, let’s try it. A dollar, a shekel and a Syrian pound walk into a bar….

    DD,

    You don’t want to go there.

    The dollar collapses with stomach cramps, the shekel blows the Syrian pound away with his Uzi, scares the shit out of the counterman, and walks out with every stubby in the house, thanking his lucky stars with each step he takes that it ain’t Goldstar!! (a local brand that tastes worse than horse piss).

    A drunk Israeli, especially a drunk Israeli shekel, ain’t a pretty sight. In fact, it can really weigh (a shekel is actually a weight) on the mind.

  • …the dollar has declined yet further against that “joke” of a currency, the shekel…

    Joke of a currency?

    OK, let’s try it. A dollar, a shekel and a Syrian pound walk into a bar…

    …No?

  • Cindy D

    STM,

    I have taken your advice and am researching Rabbit-Proof Fence.

    I have discovered thus far, that Andrew Bolt does not seem to have given a fair or credible analysis of the film.

    His “facts” are countered here by Christine Olsen writer/co-producer Rabbit-Proof Fence.

    Now, I haven’t read the book or seen the film yet. But, if Olsen’s, apparently documented, claims that Bolt was quoting for distortion (picking out a bit of this or that quote so as to give a wrong impression)…then Bolt’s integrity itself is in question.

    Were you aware of Ms. Olsen’s position Stan?

  • Ruvy

    Well, guys, I’m back with a second report on the currency situation of the dollar here. The trading day is over, the local market is down but the real news is that the dollar has declined yet further against that “joke” of a currency, the shekel.

    Now, NIS 1,000 is worth just over $300. Just yesterday, I reported NIS 1,000 as being $295.60, and this morning, it was $297.00.

    Let me put this in perspective for all of you. Last year, I started editing a book, and as a down payment the writer gave me $200 – 800 shekels. Were he to want to give me that same 800 shekels today, he would have to shell out $240. At least I had the sense to quote my price in shekels, rather than dollars. Most Israelis would do the opposite, in spite of the decline of the dollar.

    The last time the shekel was this high against the dollar was almost a decade ago. At that time, according to a travel book, a maná falafel, a full meal, cost NIS 3.50. Now, that very same maná falafel costs NIS 13. That is almost a 400% increase in price! Wages have not gone up 400% at all.

    So a deliberate process of impoverishment is taking place world wide.

    Ah, interesting times!

  • Clavos

    Yaaawwwnnn

  • Cindy D

    Bliffle, that’s such utter biased bullshit that you ought to be ashamed of yourself. I’m hardly a defender of the Bush administration, and when I provide facts they are hard facts and backed up. I guess you feel frustrated by that, but until you can come up with some facts on your own, you’re kind of stuck with nothing but unsubstantiated personal attacks like your last comment.

    Not agreeing with you doesn’t make me a liar, but stating blatant untruths about me makes you exactly that. (Dave)

    “Bush is the leader of the Republican Party. Bush has certain strongly held beliefs. He clearly sees Obama as a threat to the America he wants to see created as his legacy. More than that, he sees the Democrats as they currently exist as inherently dangerous to the nation. Who can argue with that? Who can fault him for caring enough about the nation’s future to take a stand? What use is the bully pulpit of the presidency if he can’t use it this way?” (Dave)

    bliffle, I gave Dave a long period of the benefit of the doubt. I have to say that my experience is in accord with yours. I no longer can trust what he says.

    He seems to plunk down some opinion based on bias and when you present him with facts, he just ignores you and stops the discussion. He appears to even see this as a victory for himself. (that sentence is my inferred opinion based on his comments). He rarely says he was mistaken, but seems to take advantage of the fact that his comments will be lost in the thread.

    He has a clever way of sounding like he is backing things up with facts. He uses enough actual facts to make this impression. But, often his facts have been plucked, in a pinch, to prop up a stated bias, without actually having been really understood by him. Because of this they are easily challenged. When one counters them, he simply stops responding.

  • Cindy D

    I mean the comments they make in discussions, not the above comments.

  • Cindy D

    Songlines,

    My own experience, since I have been reading blogcritics is 100% in accord with what Dr. Dreadful and Christopher Rose. Even maybe 110% 🙂

    I find that they both try to be (and in my opinion manage to be) fair in the extreme. I have only been edited once (and boy did I deserve it!). Whereas, I understand Arch Conservative has been edited numerous times.

    If you read the comments made by both Dr. Dreadful and Christopher Rose I think you will find, in this way, that they are not your enemies and they appear to have much less in common with Arch Conservative-like people than you imagine.

  • troll

    …push the envelope…then you should have tried something like: ‘STM you are parenthetic’ and then watched the slashers squirm

  • Songlines

    sorry that should read #919

  • Songlines

    troll see #922 since the editors are doing things in a spirit of tolerance rather than repression, even if that results in the occasional over-exuberance i decided to see for myself how far i could push the envelope;)

  • troll

    Songlines – is ‘why don’t you go fuck yourself’ more of a personal attack than ‘STM you are pathetic’ – ?

    just wondering

  • Ruvy

    And we continue to see the escalator of disaster in today’s market:

    GOING DOWN! According to this brief story the dollar could be headed for NIS 3/$1 or a shekel of more than 33 cents. I try hard not to discuss things like these with my retired neighbors living on Social Security checks….

    GOING UP! LONDON (MarketWatch) – Oil and gas firms helped London shares to find a floor on Wednesday, with natural gas supplier BG Group and oil majors Royal Dutch Shell and BP performing strongly as crude futures stubbornly stayed over $127 a barrel.

  • Songlines

    STM you are pathetic,tear down that Rabbit fence in your mind

  • Songlines, balancing the often conflicting demands of freedom of speech and maintaining an orderly debate is as much as art as it is a science.

    If anybody should apologise to Socrates it is Arch Conservative, although I doubt he would do that. I think he undermines himself by expressing himself that way.

    Sometimes, certain usages are tolerated that in other situations on another day wouldn’t be, so we might not delete such a remark if you chose to make it, depending on the context.

    What is abundantly clear is that different people would choose to exercise the comments guidelines in different ways. My view is that it is better to err on the side of tolerance rather than repression, even if that results in the occasional over-exuberance. Far better that than a sterile and lifeless environment.

    Christopher Rose
    Blogcritics Comments Editor

  • Ruvy

    It’s like asking whether I’ve seen the Indiana Jones movies.

    It’s a shame you do not know Vendyl Jones.

  • Songlines

    If editing is a judgement call then improve your editing.That comment happened to be right at the top of the comments column.Even if it had appeared right at the end ,out of sight from Google’s prying eyes it would still be offensive and not “embarassing” as you put it.The underlying subtext appears to be that as long as Blogcritics is not “embarassed” everything else goes.

  • Songlines

    Re#912 and #915 ,I still feel that an apology is owed to the author Socrates

  • Songlines #912:

    We try to be as even-handed as we can. Arch Conservative is one of our most strident and (frequently) foul-fingered commenters and his transgressions of the policy are stamped on when we see them. But we’re prone to human error like everyone else and occasionally, as you observe, something slips by which shouldn’t. Christopher Rose was, at the time that comment was made, the sole comments editor for the entire site (not just the Politics section). Even now that he has assistance from me, it can still be quite a task.

    What there most certainly is not is a political bias in the comments editing. Arch’s views are about as far removed on the political spectrum from those of Chris and myself as it is possible to get. And as I said, he is probably the most heavily-edited of our regular commenters.

    We do try to follow the stated comments policy while at the same time cutting transgressors a little slack if we can. If you read the policy you’ll see that apart from personal attacks, another kind of comment we don’t allow is one that is ‘an embarrassment to the site’. The comment you refer to would, to my mind, qualify under that banner because it is the first comment on that thread – anyone surfing to the page via Google, for instance, would see it as soon as they’d finished reading the article.

    So although the comment is very old, I’m tempted to edit it because it most certainly fits that description. However, in this case I’m not going to because to do so would make a nonsense of this discussion.

    The point is that editing is frequently a judgment call. There are no hard and fast criteria for deletion. I don’t know what commenter #3 said that warranted censorship, although I imagine it must have been something particularly egregious.

    I’d also remark that it seems to be a natural tendency to read bias against one’s own camp. We see this all the time with the mainstream media, which is constantly accused by the right of being too liberal and by the left of sucking up to the Bush administration.

    Dr Dreadful
    Assistant Comments Editor

  • Songlines

    Cindy,here’s yet another example of asymmetry of power at work.A U.S sniper uses the Quran for target practice and also scribbles some expletives in it while in Iraq,a country that has been under Pax Americana for sometime now.The book had 14 holes in it ,one would assume atleast that many shots were fired….we don’t know how many missed. Naturally Sunnis and Shias alike are very upset.The news hardly merited a mention in our mainstream press.Now imagine a situation wherein an Iraqi sniper took pot-shots at The Bible or a Hizbollah fighter at The Talmud.Imagine the uproar and outrage at this particular event.Asymmetry of power and of reaction?

    But there’s always the danger of extreme “Blowback” from those you seek to suppress because there’s only so much one can go forward in the exercising of that power as this apology from George W. Bush amply and abjectly demonstrates Bush apologizes over US soldier’s Quran shooting

  • STM

    “Did you see the film Rabbit Proof Fence?”

    Do your research on it guys before touting it as anything approaching pure fact. Even the girl depicted in the film knocked the myth on the head.

    It’s a Hollywood-style dramatisation based loosely on fact and with a grain of truth.

    It’s like asking whether I’ve seen the Indiana Jones movies. Well, yes, I have, but it doesn’t tell me much about hydro-electric power generation.

    As Andrew Bolt has written in the Herald Sun:

    “Even the first spoken words in the hyped film, … are: “This is a true story.”

    Wrong. Crucial parts of this “true story” about a “stolen generations” child called Molly Craig are false or misleading. And shamefully so.
    No wonder that when Craig saw Rabbit-Proof Fence at a special screening in her bush settlement last month, she seem surprised.

    “That’s not my story,” she said as the credits rolled … ”

    Indeed, Craig herself disputes any notion of an idyllic life in the bush camps at the time as depicted in the film, and has said that conditions were shocking.

    Rabbit Proof fence is full of holes.

    It perpetuates the myth of the “stolen generations” and the genocide of mainland aborigines.

    Genocide of the Tasmanian aborigines is a fact, and the result of what amounted to a full-scale war between indigeneous Tasmanians and white settlers, but the rest is myth and has been exposed as such.

  • Songlines

    Cindy,that comment of mine was made tongue slightly in cheek.An asymmetrical relationship in power can also exist on a blog even if those managing(or bungling)it profess to be even-handed.For example Blogcritics very prominently display Personal attacks are not allowed. Please read our comment policy. but if you notice some people are allowed to abuse and walk away while others like you and this author Socrates who present alternative views considered leftist/commie, whatever cannot do so .

    Please note the first comment #1 against Socrates in this post by Arch Conservative and you’ll get my point.Abuse of Socrates It says Why don’t you go fuck yourself! . Can you and I say that to Nalle or Clavos or to anyone else on this site?.Also note there is no provocation from the author Socrates to justify that particular comment from that reader….he simply stated his point of view for which he was abused .So the argument that this particular abuse was contextual or provoked or somehow got through due to poor editing doesn’t hold water.

    Note the asymmetry in power Cindy?

  • socrates

    Dear Songlines,
    Thank you. I shall check all the links that Cindy has provided.

  • Cindy D

    But, Songlines, in another sense,…yes now that you mention it, like blogcritics. Pratt says, “often” the relationship is asymmetrical in power, I think perhaps you just made me aware of an example that would not be typical.

    When I think of it, we are each here seeing through our own worldview and sort of grappling with the views of others, often unable to see through their eyes.

    Interesting, thank you.

  • Cindy D

    Songlines,

    The key to being a contact zone a is the “…context[s] of highly asymmetrical relations of power…”

    So like, between slave and slaveholder, Spanish Imperialist and Incan, White colonialist and, take your pick: Aborigine, Indian, Hawaiian, and to the extent that this (and other experiences in the class) changed my way of thinking about asymmetrical relationships in general, I found it to extend to nearly every asymmetrical relationship I attempted to test it on including teacher and student, and interestingly (to me anyway) reader and text!

  • Ruvy
  • Mike W

    Ruvy,every time the dollar goes down the price of oil goes up.There are a lot of things made from oil …fibreglass for instance for instance which goes to make boats.I’m sure someone like Clavos is trying to put a brave front on things when he says his boat business is recession-proof. What I’m trying to say is that boats guzzle a lot of gas and the prices of inputs are going up…not good for the boat market as this article bears outEconomic Tide Is Rising for Repo Man

  • Ruvy

    I got a chance to look at the funny pages today in J-lem (the free newspaper yisraél hayóm, – Israel Today) and happened upon the representative rate of the dollar for yesterday It was NIS 3.37 to the dollar – having again declined. Today it was worth NIS 3.382. Put just a bit differently, NIS 1,000 are worth $295.60.

    The dollar keeps going down – the shekel keeps going up. Every day your country overspends its receipts the dollar gets weaker and weaker….

    Fortunately, I have no American money, aside from some tokens, like quarters and nickel dollars that someone can take to the States with them if they give me the appropriate (and continually shrinking) equivalent in Israeli money.

  • Songlines

    Contact Zone, definition: I use this term to refer to social spaces where cultures meet, clash, and grapple with each other…

    like blogcritics Cindy?

  • Cindy D

    Here is the follow-up on Arts of the Contact Zone by Mary Louise Pratt. I have decided not to immediately plunk down my interpretation of the text, thus coloring it with my own perspective. Instead, I have put out a couple of ideas that are addressed in the text; so that those interested in such subjects might be inspired to read it. Thus it may be allowed to transform their thinking, independently of my own.

    Mary Louise Pratt (a Silver Professor, NYU ( and, no doubt, future discredited communist) is credited with the coinage of the term: “autoenthnograhical text” :

    definition: a text in which people undertake to describe themselves in ways that engage with representations others have made of them. Thus if ethnographic texts are those in which European metropolitan subjects represent to themselves their others (usually their conquered others), autoethnographic texts are representations that the so-defined others construct in response to or in dialogue with those texts. Autoethnographic texts are not, then, what are usually thought of as autochthonous forms of expression or self-representation (as the Andean quipus were). Rather they involve a selective collaboration with and appropriation of idioms of the metropolis or the conqueror. These are merged or infiltrated to varying degrees with indigenous idioms to create self-representations intended to intervene in metropolitan modes of understanding. Autoethnographic works are often addressed to both metropolitan audiences and the speakers own community. Their reception is thus highly indeterminate. Such texts often constitute a marginalized groups point of entry into the dominant circuits of print culture.

    The text of Ms. Pratt’s Arts of the Contact Zone is a very difficult read. It is written in an autoethnographical style and requires pause and thought. It challenges assumptions and in order to see that, one must have, not only a willingness to have one’s assumptions challenged, but one must actually do some work. Missing a single word can, in some cases (as in my case), change what you believe the author is saying. It is definitely not a text that lends itself to skimming and discounting. (Which to Dave’s credit, he did not try to do when I offered it to him, but instead, simply dismissed it.)

    Contact Zone, definition: I use this term to refer to social spaces where cultures meet, clash, and grapple with each other, often in contexts of highly asymmetrical relations of power, such as colonialism, slavery, or their aftermaths as they are lived out in many parts of the world today. Eventually I will use the term to reconsider the models of community that many of us rely on in teaching and theorizing and that are under challenge today. (Pratt)

  • Cindy D

    Songlines,

    I am checking out your links. The first article I chose, Tibet – The Myth of Shangri-La is already dispelling some preconceptions I (like most other people in my culture) have been fed.

    Thank you for the links. I am sure I will not be able to refrain from commenting on that blog.

  • Cindy D

    Socrates,

    Did you see the film Rabbit Proof Fence?

    I did not see it. But thanks, I definitely will.

    (as I am sure it must have been made by discredited communists. right Dave? LOL)

  • Songlines

    Cindy,I did a search on this writer Socrates a.k.a CR Sridhar as suggested by Ruvy and he’s available at Desicritics.He’s written some interesting articlesArticles by C R Sridhar

    perhaps you could pitch in with some comments there?

  • Songlines

    Some of that visceral racism has found expression in some of the comments here.It is not overtly stated but its always simmering underneath the surface.

  • Songlines

    Socrates, it would be well worth going through some of the links Cindy has provided in #849 and #850.There are references to what you’ve just alluded to ,for e.g

    The Chief Protectors appointed by each state became the legal guardians of the half-caste children until the age of 18. Some of their reports speak louder than words: “I would not hesitate for one moment to separate any half-caste from its Aboriginal mother, no matter how frantic her momentary grief might be at the time. They soon forget their offspring” (Inspector James Idell, in 1905) (1); “Children are removed from the evil influence of the Aboriginal camp, with its lack of moral training and its risk of serious organic infectious disease.” (Chief Protector Cook, 1911) (2)

    and

    The Commonwealth conference in 1937 on the native problem did not mince words: “The destiny of the natives of Aboriginal origin, but not of the full blood, lies in their ultimate absorption”. It restated its views in 1951: “The aim is assimilation…until the Aborigines live like any white Australian”.

    “For most Australians, the Aborigines are still not human beings, but a kind of sub-race close to the animal kingdom. We’re dealing with the most visceral, the most primitive racism on the whole planet! As soon as they got here, the Whites hunted us with rifles, just like rabbits. Then, they went on constantly working to wipe out our culture, our languages and our people. They’ve so much hatred in them that today, even though there are no more than 300,000 of us, we’re their favourite source of complaint, the thorn in their flesh, as if we were counted in millions!” This heartfelt comment comes from Marcia Langton, professor of anthropology at Darwin university and the Aborigines’ long-time spokesperson at the UN.

  • Even troll? gasp!

    LMAO! Dave do you know people can actually look back at things you say?

    Yes. But apparently I gave troll more credit than he deserved.

    Dave

  • socrates

    Dear Cindy,

    Did you see the film Rabbit Proof Fence?

    I believe it tells a heart breaking story of ‘”half-caste” children who were brought up in camps and homes, in an attempt to “advance” them into white society – as domestic servants and farm labourers. What made a misguided policy into a heart-breaking one was the element of compulsion. Thousands were forcibly removed from aboriginal mothers between 1900 and 1971.’

  • Mike W

    see #779..and stop trying to conduct a conversation with the deaf

  • Cindy D

    Even troll can draw that distinction.

    Even troll? gasp!

    LMAO! Dave do you know people can actually look back at things you say?

  • troll

    Clavos – without dipping more than my pinkie into the waters of seditious conspiracy I do think that it would be a good idea for someone to organize a ‘tax rebellion’…it really is each of our responsibility to muzzle our dog

    Surfer Dude – couldn’t agree more: historical ‘facts’ are buggers and slippery devils easily misinterpreted and misused in argument…the practical approach is to look for the validity in both sides of the argument as you say

    but the ‘sic et non’ method seems to me to be about as barren as Cindy’s prescribed journey into presuppositions

    evil shit went down is going down is scheduled to go down – what are we going to do about it – ?

  • So no foreign aid of any kind, Clav? Interesting. Nothing like furthering the isolationist philosophy, eh?

  • Clavos

    Clavos – you like the rest of us are directly responsible for the ways that your tax and invested dollars are at work around the world which leaves you open to charges of ‘interfering’…if you hire a hit man your ethical position is somewhat compromised

    Oh no you don’t, troll. I do not accept responsibility for how my taxes are spent; I have virtually no control over that and you know it. I can vote, and do, but it’s only one in multi millions. The only votes I get which are directly about taxes are for property taxes and local referenda.

    If I had my druthers, none of my taxes would be spent outside our borders.

  • Surfer

    Troll: “Surfer Dude – it’s neither counterproductive nor even wrongheaded to strive for ‘honesty’ in historical analysis.”

    That’s right troll, and the claim of genocide against the aboriginal people has been punted up as being a myth over and over again.

    Some historians here even argue against the Tasmanian genocide, seeing it instead as the outcome of a “crime” spree by aborigines brought about by misunderstanding rather than a flat out war between the settlers and the indigenous population. I don’t buy that first one, but there exists a body of records and research that does give another point of view on all these things.

    No one knows the truth of it except in Tasmania where the last full-blood aborigine died last century – because no one knows the real figures. It’s still all conjecture, and will probably remain so.

    One of the commentators above makes a telling statement: “No official figure” in regards to the the fall in the aboriginal population.

    But do your own research on it, guys.

    There ARE differing points of view. Fact: Disease seems to have been the main killer in the early days of white settlement.

    And when people in Australia spoke of genocide, they were generally talking of the Tasmania aborigines. Certainly that’s what I learned at school.

    The idea of genocide across the mainland continent is something that has sprung up in the past few decades, and it’s a very strong and emotive word and possibly too strong despite the fact there was certainly much wrong done to aborigines by white settlers. Genocide implies murderous intent and the carrying out of that intent in regards to an entire population.

    Genocide implies aborigines were wiped out in mainland Australia, and that’s quite clearly not the case (I watched three games of football on the weekend that featured a total of about 20 aboriginal players among 100 or so players, so unless I’m seeing things … ), and nor do any official figures exist in regards to the aboriginal population and the counting of the aboriginal population after such a catastrophic event is said to have occurred.

    I don’t buy the revisionist myth in Tassie, nor the revisionist myth on the mainland. What I do buy is that muddle-headed white colonialists attempted to destroy aboriginal culture in favour of their own beliefs where they could (and remember, in many places they couldn’t do this because unlike aborigines, they couldn’t survive even in the less-remote parts of the bush).

    And I live here, too, so I know how this country has been divided by this issue. Being armed with whatever facts one can glean means NOT taking one set of writings of a certain viewpoint – either way – and believing that to be the whole truth.

  • troll

    I think there’s a legitimate distinction to be made between physical imperialism and cultural imperialism.

    a largely academic distinction…in the ‘real’ world they have been insufferably inseparable (historically speaking that is)

    Dave…I think that we are going to have difficulty agreeing on just what constitutes the ‘use of force’

  • You are shameless. Really. And your last post is not worth spending the time to counter. It’s unintelligent.

    Based on some of your earlier statements it’s pretty clear you’re too biased to judge how intelligent my comment was. You can’t even tell the difference between a discussion of general western imperialism and the specific treatment of Australian aborigines, which is hardly relevant to the broader issues. Even troll can draw that distinction.

    Dave – if you limit your consideration to government policy then your insight into the methods and impact of the spread of our (ongoing) Empire and imperialist enterprise will be equally limited

    I think there’s a legitimate distinction to be made between physical imperialism and cultural imperialism. Actual imperial conquest depends on the use of force and is involuntary upon those conquered. Cultural imperialism – and the economic imperialism it goes hand in hand with – has at its heart the seduction of the subject population and ultimately their voluntary accession to the cultural conquest. That’s an enormous difference.

    I’m against physical conquest. I’m all for cultural and economic corruption and subjugation.

    Dave

  • troll

    The only country in the world (other than the US) that I interfere with is Mexico.

    Clavos – you like the rest of us are directly responsible for the ways that your tax and invested dollars are at work around the world which leaves you open to charges of ‘interfering’…if you hire a hit man your ethical position is somewhat compromised

    aculturating schools are NOT a function of foreign policy by our government or any other western state.

    Dave – if you limit your consideration to government policy then your insight into the methods and impact of the spread of our (ongoing) Empire and imperialist enterprise will be equally limited

    Surfer Dude – it’s neither counterproductive nor even wrongheaded to strive for ‘honesty’ in historical analysis

  • Clavos

    Talk about unintelligent!

    You were akready told (by me) on this thread that he’s not editor in chief.

  • Mike W

    Unintelligent and somehow editor in chief…they like em like that blogcritics

  • Cindy D

    Dave,

    You are shameless. Really. And your last post is not worth spending the time to counter. It’s unintelligent.

  • Ruvy

    Clavos, I apologize. I hit the 8 when I should have hit the 9. The Nazi success rate in Poland was 98.5%, not 99.5%. When the Nazis invaded on 1 September, 1939, approximately 3 million Jews lived in Poland. When they were finally defeated 63 years ago, there were 5,000 left. They did a very thorough job of it, I tell you. They very nearly wiped out Polish Jewry.

  • Ruvy

    Aw, come on, Clavos,

    What percentage of success would the whites in Australia have needed to have been said to have “wiped out” the aborigines there – 99.5%, like the Nazi success rate in wiping out Polish Jews?

    Cut Mr. Sridhar a little slack, eh? If, using the sources he cites, we assume the minimum number of aborigines in Australia was 250,000 at the end of the 18th century, and 31,000 remained at the beginning of the 20th, wouldn’t that be an at least 85& success rate of success in exterminating them? Isn’t that enough to demonstrate the point?

    We’re not arguing a case at law here, we’re trying to get some enlightenment. There is a difference. So he said “wiped out” when “very nearly wiped out” would have been more appropriate.

    He drives home my point with a sledgehammer, destroying the head on the nail, Clavos.

    All of us are mere uncivilized savages.

  • Songlines

    If you want to split hairs Clavos maybe they weren’t wiped out to the last man but a reduction of population from 750000 to 31000 is a 95% reduction in numbers.That is close to being decimated

  • Clavos

    socrates, you said:

    The aborigines were systematically wiped out by the White settlers.

    I proved you wrong. They were not “wiped out.”

    All the rest is parsing and window dressing.

  • socrates

    Clavos,

    Bret Stone adds-
    ‘Aborigines were forced out of their traditional homes, hunted like wild animals, poisoned or shot, and confined to the harshest and most desolate climes. The effect of British settlement upon these people led to near extinction within 120 years.’

    In a report titled Genocide in Australia,written by Professor Colin Tatz, director of the Centre for Comparative Genocide Studies at Sydney’s Macquarie University the extermination of the aborigines is chillingly narrated

    The report says- ‘Even though no official figures exist, estimates of the Aboriginal population in 1788 range between 250,000 and 750,000. By 1911 the number was 31,000. Aborigines have only been included in the National Census since 1971. In 1996 the National Census recorded that 352,970 or 1.97 of the population were of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent.’

    On the issue of substantial increase in aboriginal population after their Genocide the report states- ‘Despite the substantial increase in the population of Aborigines since 1911, the conditions of life in which they find themselves remain impoverished and highly oppressive. Tatz states that according to every social indicator available Aborigines are found at the top or bottom. Diseases, such as coronary disease, cancer, diabetes, and respiratory infections, are far more prevalent than 30 years earlier. Life expectancy is 50-55 years for males, approximately 55 years for females. The likelihood of an Aborigine being unemployed is far greater—22.7 percent as opposed to 8.1 percent. Fewer Aborigines own their homes. For Aborigines fortunate enough to have employment, their income is 25 percent less on average. Large proportions of Aborigines languish in prisons (14 percent of the prison population in 1997) and police watch-houses.’

  • Ruvy

    Gibbernator,

    Besides which, Ruvy, the past is the past – as you know. It can’t be changed one iota despite our desire that be the case, so there’s not much point living there if it doesn’t help what’s happening in the here and now.

    There are also laws here about human exploitation. No one can be discriminated against. You can’t villify people on the basis of race, colour, creed, religion, ability, sex or age, etc.

    Since that’s the part of “free speech” (is it, really free speech, though??)that led to things like the holocaust and still causes ongoing racial problems in the US, that’s not a bad thing.

    Sorry, mate, you’re gibbering on, carrying coals to Newcastle, as it were. My definition of civilized versus primitive goes far beyond looking at the past, or the limited attempts of some nations to limit discrimination and redress past grievances.

    Let’s have another look, shall we?

    a truly civilized culture would not rely on human exploitation as a base for its growth and development and would reduce resource exploitation to an absolute minimum. Against that yardstick, we are all nothing but primitive savages.

    A guy goes to a pub, spots a nice sheila, and tries out his lines to get her into bed. THAT’S where exploitation starts. Exploitation is all about using another person to achieve a goal that may or may not benefit the other person. He can cover that up with “love” or “friendship” or “going steady” or “marriage” or whatever term the ideological superstructure, and his own experiences with the sheila, lead him to. But, if at bottom the issue is how he uses her, and how she uses him, it is still exploitation.

    This concept can be extended to all human relationships in all forms, and is, and thus it is that exploitation is part and parcel of all human relationships – at present. We do not know any better. But it is for this reason that we are all uncivilized savages.

    Have a nice afternoon or evening, whatever it is in Oz, mate….

    Oh, I should point something out. Even after the sun sets in Oz, the shadow of danger from the North, from China, lengthens daily over your land. Whatever good and pleasure you enjoy there, store up. You need to be watchful for the menace that can swallow you up like a shark swallows a guppy.

  • The life expectancy of aborigines has plummeted since their forced assimilation

    I assume you’re talking solely about Australian aborigines here? I was talking about aboriginal groups in general.

    (not chosen Dave, as if wasting my breath is going to matter to someone who invents facts–doesn’t even go and find some that conform to his wrong suppositions, just plain invents them.)

    Really? Show me some facts I’ve invented. Clavos has done us all the favor of showing that your facts are dead wrong.

    into white culture. I wonder if they don’t think life is a lot harder now.

    Forced assimilation is the exception rather than the rule. There are a few very notable instances of it, but most of the really large scale western colonial efforts have depended on hybridization and a certain degree of voluntary cooperation rather than forced aculturation. Look at India or Southeast Asia for examples of more typical western interaction with native societies.

    The cases which fit your extreme model occur only in places where the native population was extremely technologically unsophisticated and culturally ill-suited to any kind of accommodation with western society. And this is hardly something unique to the west, though they are always the bad guys of choice. Look at the interaction between any organizationally and technologically advanced group and hunter gatherer societies they come into contact with. History is full of examples from all over the world.

    Dave

  • The Gibbernator

    Ruvy: “Stan’s “paradise on earth” has managed to minimize human exploitation some.”

    Ruvy, it’s not Stan who calls this place paradise on Earth beyond the sun, surf and lifestyle. In that regard, it is paradise. In others, perhaps not.

    He just happens to like it here … a lot.

    He also knows a bit about what he’s talking about.

    Cindy is only right up to a point. The disparity between indigenous Australians and non-indigenous Australians in the bush is huge, but in the big cities (outside a few inner-city communities where help is sorely needed), the disparity is a lot less than people outside this place think.

    Besides which, Ruvy, the past is the past – as you know. It can’t be changed one iota despite our desire that be the case, so there’s not much point living there if it doesn’t help what’s happening in the here and now.

    There are also laws here about human exploitation. No one can be discriminated against. You can’t villify people on the basis of race, colour, creed, religion, ability, sex or age, etc.

    Since that’s the part of “free speech” (is it, really free speech, though??)that led to things like the holocaust and still causes ongoing racial problems in the US, that’s not a bad thing.

    It goes a long way to inclusion (as opposed to assimilation). Everyone should be encouraged to maintain whatever aspects of their culture they wish.

  • Ruvy

    It was part of comment #840 which I made and you countered and I countered and you countered, etc. was the argument you an I had.

    I have to admit it’s been fun watching this kerfuffle over words like “civilized” and “primitive”.

    Almost as much fun as a watching a barrel of monkeys.

    I submit to you all that none of us are truly “civilized” – a truly civilized culture would not rely on human exploitation as a base for its growth and development and would reduce resource exploitation to an absolute minimum. Against that yardstick, we are all nothing but primitive savages. C.S. Sridar’s (screen name: socrates) article is about how one group of powerful primitive savages (America) is apparently on the decline, losing power as its “wampum” loses value.

    Stan Denham’s “paradise on earth” has managed to minimize human exploitation some.

  • You’re welcome, Cindy. It is Monday tomorrow, after all.

    Remember too that for ‘The Gibbernator’, it’s already Monday (due to Australians’ amazing ability to time travel) so he’s got a good head start on the crankiness himself.

  • Cindy D

    Thanks Dr.D. Since you say so, then I must have been hasty. Probably just tired and cranky. 🙂

  • Cindy D

    Good night Clav. I think bed sounds like a pretty good idea.

  • Cindy, Stan (aka The Gibbernator*): you’re both correct to an extent.

    I took a look at the Australian government website, and while some of the topical stats on the indigenous population don’t differentiate between urban and rural, ‘traditional’ and ‘westernised’, the raw census data from which it is taken is broken down by state/territory, region, city etc. It would take a bit of analysis (requiring, unfortunately, more time than I have), but it should be possible to back up both your points.

    Cindy, Stan does like to paint Australia as heaven on Earth (I’ve been there twice and he’s not far wrong!). But he’s way more savvy about the social issues there than you give him credit for, and while he may see the plight of indigenous Australians through slightly pink-tinged spectacles, he’s certainly not the Arrogant White Settler you seem to think he is.

    * You don’t fool me, mate. That flag comment yesterday gave you away.

  • Cindy D

    Clav, It was part of comment #840 which I made and you countered and I countered and you countered, etc. was the argument you an I had.

    Not the others. Although you did have those arguments with other people.

  • Clavos

    OK, Cindy. Then there really is no debate. Of course aborigines are happy with their lifestyle.

    So are most cultural groups (including fat, burger-eating Americans) that are not oppressed or enslaved or exploited or otherwise subjected to some form of tyranny.

    So, the abos like their lifestyle; I like mine. Neither is better than the other. Everything is relative. There is no black or white, only shades of grey.

    Good night, it’s late here in La Republica de Miami.

  • The gibbernator (proudly terminating gibber since 1974)

    Cindy B: “Frankly, I make every effort to be accurate and well-researched. I spend my time doing this. Lot’s of time. I will no longer do it for any Bubba that thinks they can just spout out opinions without doing any of the work it takes to back them up.”

    Lol. And, ah, thanks so much for patronising me and calling me a liar and deciding on the strength of an internet chat that I can’t match your obvious wit and intelligence because I don’t agree wholly with what you say. I loved the bubba bit, too. Nice touch.

    I suspect you’ve never set foot on this continent, nor met an indigenous Australian (unlike me, the person with no ability to comprehend any of these issues, who is part of an indigenous Australian family).

    Judging by the assumptions you’ve made there alone, I’d be in two minds about accepting whether a) you really do spend a lot of time researching this stuff, or b) actually have any real solutions that go beyond foolish platitudes and the regurgitation of facts and figures you’ve got from a few academic papers and some well-meaning, do-good writers.

    Fact: while there are high rates of infant mortality and health and social problems in the bush, the majority of indigenous Australians living in true urban areas have similar life-expectancy, living standards, educational opportunities, and wages to any other Australians.

    We are talking urban here, BTW, not rural or traditional.

    And that’d all make sense, wouldn’t it, since they are Australians too.

  • Cindy D

    Just for the record:

    1) I never jumped all over you for using the word primitive. And actually admitted that I normally would use the same word.

    2) If there are a group of people I get along with LESS than right-wingers, it would be new-agers.

  • Cindy D

    lol for more clarification comment #867 is addressed to Clav.

  • Cindy D

    P.S. For clarification. The point I am talking about relates to comment # 854.

  • Clavos

    I do think you forgot the original point.

    The original point was I used the word “primitive” to describe aboriginal peoples (BTW, I meant ALL aboriginal peoples, not just the ones in OZ), and that’s when you Politically Correct socially conscious good people all jumped all over evil ol’ me.

    The point I was trying to make when I stepped on your New Age sensibilities was a personal one which you cannot refute, because it’s how I see it for ME only, no one else. And that point is that I consider my lifestyle to be much more desirable TO ME than that of someone who is a hunter-gatherer, whether ancient or contemporary.

    I’m not PC; I know that. Sometimes I’m not PC on purpose, just to irritate people who are, but this was not such a time. On the contrary, you and your two comrades-in-arms crawled all over me for expressing a personal opinion which pertained only to me.

    And just for the record: I have traveled extensively in both Africa and South America for nearly forty years, and have visited numerous aboriginal settlements on both continents; from the Amazon jungle to the plains of the Kalahari. In my native Mexico, I have even spent weeks at a time inthe jungles of Chiapas, and in the north, in the Tarahumara mountains; two of the most primitive (there’s that word again!) areas in a fairly primitive Third World country.

    I have formed my opinion largely on what I have seen and experienced in the real world, not from lectures, books and essays.

  • Cindy D

    It is the case because the FACTS say so. I will give you a clue where you can find a fact. Go to you government website and look at the facts on aborigines. Today’s facts.

    Do you understand that I am not theorizing but am basing what I am saying on factual information?

    Do you understand the difference between those things?

    It means I am not guessing by talking to some people, or citing my aborigine friend who goes to college and agrees with me. I am basing it on evidence which was collected by your government.
    say no, no, no all you want Bubba. Calling me names–which I associate with the stupidest of narrow minds, only reduces you to less than worth the time it takes to write this.

    My opinion comes mostly from reading scholarly study of aborigines and viewing facts. Something, as I said before, you would know nothing about as your opinion comes from filtering your limited experience solely through your own bias and spitting out the result.

  • The Gibbernator

    No, and if you’d read my post in its entirety, you’d see that’s not the case at all.

    It might have been in the past, but it’s not the case today, and since we are now living in today (and it’s the only time we have) and not the past, it’s a supremely relevant issue.

    It’s more don’t be white, don’t die, and be whatever you are and be proud of it while attempting also to be part of a new and inclusive society that attempts genuinely to redress the wrongs of the past but values the cultures and experiences of all its members.

    Most indigenous australians aren’t stupid enough to believe foreign white-propogated and mostly leftist nonsense that encourages them to shed all shackles of so-called white society (that’s arrogant and a misnomer anyway – read simply: modern society) and return to a FULL traditional life in the bush. Although it must be said, that option is there for anyone. It’s a free country.

    Besides, many indigenous Australians now live what could only be decsribed as modern lifestyles melded with aboriginal culture on their own traditional lands, making money from art, tourism, etc.

    You might notice in the post that I do have some knowledge of what is going on based on my own family’s experience.

    Maybe it’s time people stopped patronising indigenous Australians. That’s a big part of the problem.

    White do-gooders, bleeding hearts and activists have their place (especially when it comes to over-inflated ideas of their own value and importance on such issues), but practical solutions, cultural awareness and acceptance and genuine inclusion are the real answer.

  • Cindy D

    Clav,

    I do think you forgot the original point. Really, go back and have a look. I never suggested you should accept any sort of lifestyle. I even said no one is asking you to (or something close to it). This particular discussion was along the lines of a debate on whether the aborigines had a hard life or a relatively easy and happy one. It was in no way dependent on whether you would find their lifestyle happy. But whether they did.

  • Cindy D

    Gibbernator,

    You haven’t the ability to comprehend what I am saying, much less the ammunition with which to attack it.

    I get really tired of talking to liars. Because that is what I am going to start calling people who make up their own facts. It is an unwritten rule of intelligent discourse that you do not invent facts.

    Frankly, I make every effort to be accurate and well-researched. I spend my time doing this. Lot’s of time. I will no longer do it for any Bubba that thinks they can just spout out opinions without doing any of the work it takes to back them up.

    “An Aborigine’s life expectancy is 20 years less than that of a white, infant mortality is four times higher, unemployment three times higher, average income less than a half, imprisonment and suicide rates five times higher.”

    That is certainly the case with aborigines choosing to live traditional lives, or who are living on the fringes of white society (literally, in many cases, given that some communities are on the fringes of urban areas).

    That is not the case however with aborigines in many urban areas, who still make up most of the numbers.

    This is certainly the case with ALL aborigines, because the numbers (according to the Australian government) do not differentiate urban people (the good ones who don’t “play” the victim and who accept your wonderful white lifestyle) and the other poor bastards (you know those “victims” whom your culture has destroyed and left in deep psychic despair. You know the ones who don’t wanna play rugby witcha. And if, as you say, there are actually MORE urban aborigines then that would mean that it is EXACTLY the case with urban aborigines as it is with the non-urbans.

  • Clavos

    The reason there are more now. Is the same reason there are more of everyone now. When food is not in oversupply (as it is agriculture) there is a natural population control.

    True, and I agree, but not the point.

    The point (mine) was in response to socrates, who said, “The aborigines were systematically wiped out by the White settlers.”

    Which is obviously not true, since if it were, there would be NO aborigines today.

  • Cindy D

    Gibernator?

    Be white or die?

  • Cindy D

    Clav,

    The reason there are more now. Is the same reason there are more of everyone now. When food is not in oversupply (as it is agriculture) there is a natural population control.

    So:

    Culture than has natural population control: bad?

    Culture that keeps making more and more food so that the population is growing exponentially (while convincing this now HUGE population they should all be good capitalist consumers like us–because ours is THE ONLY RIGHT WAY!) and wrecking the entire world = good?

  • The Gibbernator

    Cindy B quotes: “An Aborigine’s life expectancy is 20 years less than that of a white, infant mortality is four times higher, unemployment three times higher, average income less than a half, imprisonment and suicide rates five times higher.”

    That is certainly the case with aborigines choosing to live traditional lives, or who are living on the fringes of white society (literally, in many cases, given that some communities are on the fringes of urban areas).

    That is not the case however with aborigines in many urban areas, who still make up most of the numbers. White Australians don’t now as a rule expect aborigines to assimilate.

    Modern Australians hope everyone can live in an Australia that’s for all, also accepting that many aborigines will choose to maintain their own culture and its icons while living in a modern society.

    Times have changed. If you are going to pontificate about this, it’s best to have some real knowledge of it that comes from, let’s say, playing sport with aborigines, going to school with aborigines, working with aborigines, socialising with aborigines and having aboriginal friends. It’s not stuff you can readily understand from a book, or from reading a few papers written by people with slanted opinions on social justice. In my case, it comes from having some aboriginal backgrouind in my own family – something to be proud of.

    I think you’ll find that most aborigines also describe themselves today as Australians, even it’s Indigenous Australians.

    That is what this country is trying to be. It is not trying anymore to favour one group of people over another, while still working hard to redress the wrongs of the past and to a large extent, it is working.

  • The Gibbernator

    Cindy B quotes: “An Aborigine’s life expectancy is 20 years less than that of a white, infant mortality is four times higher, unemployment three times higher, average income less than a half, imprisonment and suicide rates five times higher.”

    That is certainly the case with aborigines choosing to live traditional lives, or who are living on the fringes of white society (literally, in many cases, given that some communities are on the fringes of urban areas).

    That is not the case however with aborigines in many urban areas, who still make up most of the numbers. White Australians don’t now as a rule expect aborigines to assimilate.

    Modern Australians hope everyone can live in an Australia that’s for all, also accepting that many aborigines will choose to maintain their own culture and its icons while living in a modern society.

    Times have changed. If you are going to pontificate about this, it’s best to have some real knowledge of it that comes from, let’s say, playing sport with aborigines, going to school with aborigines, working with aborigines, socialising with aborigines and having aboriginal friends. It’s not stuff you can readily understand from a book, or from reading a few papers written by people with slanted opinions on social justice. In my case, it comes from having some aboriginal backgrouind in my own family – something to be proud of.

    I think you’ll find that most aborigines also describe themselves today as Australians, even it’s Indigenous Australians.

    That is what this country is trying to be. It is not trying anymore to favour one group of people over another, while still working hard to redress the wrongs of the past and to a large extent, it is working.

  • Cindy D

    Gibernator,

    What’s the answer? Do we all pack up and head back where we came from in the hope of redressing the balance??

    The answer is, we examine what we do. We question the beliefs that have allowed us to do (and continue) to do this. We examine were we got, and why we continue to believe that, for example, we can have unlimited growth in a limited space with limited resources. We begin to ask questions about how other people (who managed to survive without wrecking their world like wine yeast in a bottle) lived. We begin to wonder if our very paradigm might have some flaws in it.

    Why are we scrambling for oil, why are we overfished with the result that we have in some cases changed nature so thoroughly (in such a short short time) that we have wiped out parts of the ecosystem that held itself in balance, why are our coral reefs receding. How is it that we are so much better off than people who were able to live in a balance with the world. Why, do we think we are above nature and that the world was created with us as its highest end result. Why do we believe that we own the world? Where did we get all these ideas, that while not typically expressed, are yet expressions of suppositions that are the basis of the very decisions we make every day.

    We can stop teaching our children how to keep repeating this cycle. We can teach them to think critically. We can also welcome the voice of “the other than us”. We can actively consult “the other” instead of repeating to ourselves, the endless “beliefs” we have about “them”.

    That might be a start.

  • Clavos

    OK, Cindy, you’re right. I’m much more miserable (and fatter) than the average aborigine. Poor me.

    But there’s nothing in the world that would induce me to trade places with him.

  • Clavos

    The aborigines were systematically wiped out by the White settlers.

    Not only not wiped out, there are actually more now than there were when the first whites arrived.

    From Infoplease:

    Australian aborigines, native people of Australia who probably came from somewhere in Asia more than 40,000 years ago. In 2001 the population of aborigines and Torres Straits Islanders was 366,429, 1.9% of the Australian population as a whole and slightly more than the estimated aboriginal population of 350,000 at the time of European colonization in the late 18th cent. (emphasis added)

  • Cindy D

    Songlines:

    Taking that argument one step further perhaps its possible to say that not only do individuals have their blind-spots,society has its blind-spots,a nation can have its blind-spots…America very definitely has its blind-spots and one of them is Empire building.

    Very interesting perception. Because, this is exactly where the blind-spots come from. From our cultural indoctrination. They come from the Empire. It is how the Empire continues to exist without being taken apart (in the manner it would be) if it were allowed to let its members consider equally, ideas which would threaten its very existence.

    This is exactly why we have developed the way we have. It begins with the culture (society, nation). And it is not just America (in this case it is the whole of the colonizers from the past to the present). It is the same root as the Spanish destroyers of the Incans. We have the same mentality today as the Spanish had then. We have become less outwardly ruthless in some ways, but certainly not in others. We still destroy other cultures. We try to get them to be “like us” and live according to the “one right way”–ours.

    The dominating culture can be any culture that steps in and changes the other by seeing them, their ways, as irrelevant. But, it doesn’t just “see them as irrelevant”. It doesn’t really see them. And it particularly does not ever see them through their own eyes. It does not ask, ever, how do you fell about the way we view you or the way we treat you.

    We do this today as individuals, because we don’t have much opportunity to break out of those blind spots. The thrum of our culture tells us what story we should believe. This story is so ingrained in us as to be nearly invisible. We think (these unexamined ideas) are our own. When in actuality there were put there much in the same fashion (and with similar repercussions for ignoring or challenging them) as a cult would have.

  • socrates

    Clavos,#842

    The aborigines were systematically wiped out by the White settlers.

    Try convincing an aborigine with your argument- ‘gee too bad we bumped off your people in their prime. But look now- thanks to white man’s powerful medicine our life expectancy has increased.’

    The chances are that he would look at you with surprise, nod his head and go back to petrol sniffing.

  • Cindy D

    The missing Brody Link:

    Life as a Hunter-Gatherer

  • Cindy D

    You have a very idealized view of aboriginal life that doesn’t square with what we know about aboriginal peoples all over the world, Cindy.

    Clav, you are going to dispel my idealized view by:

    Finding and presenting one (approximately 275 word) abstract to a paper you haven’t read. And a generalized statement made about prehistoric humans?

    No where in the abstract does it say it is a bad thing that hunter-gatherers had to move about to insure a food supply. In fact, it basically says that securing for was most of their work. (Sounds almost like what I said.) It also contrasts this naturally active lifestyle with the contemporary sedentary lifestyle. Likewise it claims that due to a more varied diet contemporary peoples tend to overeat.

    I am speaking as a person who has actually read many ethnographies about hunter-gatherers, rather than as one who has scowered the internet for 15 minutes trying to find anything that might prop up my point while imagining that such a limited exposure to an idea gives me the credibility to judge the validity of someone else’s point of view on said subject.

    Clav/Dave

    The life expectancy of aborigines has plummeted since their forced assimilation (not chosen Dave, as if wasting my breath is going to matter to someone who invents facts–doesn’t even go and find some that conform to his wrong suppositions, just plain invents them.) into white culture. I wonder if they don’t think life is a lot harder now.

    Here is an excellent article called Australia’s forgotten dreamtime

    “For all the progress made in the past 20 years, the statistics are damning. An Aborigine’s life expectancy is 20 years less than that of a white, infant mortality is four times higher, unemployment three times higher, average income less than a half, imprisonment and suicide rates five times higher. Not counting the slow suicide of a whole people through alcoholism, and of its youth through petrol sniffing. It is as if, in spite of all the measures that have been taken, integration into white society is still impossible.”

    Clav,

    I guess I am just an idealist in the way that other people, who have actually, studied, lived with and been amongst aboriginal people and hunter-gatherers are:

    Wretched or contented? The politics of past lives

    James Cook noted in his journal after his visit to Australia in 1770: ‘From what I have said of the Natives of New Holland they may appear to be some to be the most wretched people upon Earth; but in reality they are far happier than we Europeans … the earth and the sea of their own accord furnishes them with all things necessary for life …’

    It doesn’t make evolutionary sense to think we lived miserable lives for a million years or two until we discovered economic growth and material progress. Why would we be unhappy in the natural habitat to which we were biologically and psychologically adapted? It’s not how wild animals are (they are mostly fit and healthy), and we have been, for most of our time on earth, animals in the wild.

    Hugh Brody is a writer, anthropologist and filmmaker. From his experiences of hunter-gatherer culture gleaned from years of living and hunting with the Inuits of the Arctic and the salmon-fishing tribes in the Canadian Northwest, Brody reaches through everyday realities [my emphasis] to reflect on the human condition.

  • The Gibernator

    Songlines’ attempt to link in his/her argument the movement of populations, the effect of colonial expansion and the notion of interfering with other nations as the cause of that is quite bizarre.

    Here’s a little snippet: Infant mortality among aborigines choosing to live a traditional way of life is still very high. At some point, before European settlement in Australia, you could argue that that was nature’s way of keeping the strong and allowing the weak to fall by the wayside.

    That is no longer the case in modern Australia, but it’s also not possible to stop people who want to from living a traditional aboriginal lifestyle.

    It’s not a case of the government not caring: they throw huge resources at this, and have also tried hard along with aboriginal elders to reduce the level of anti-social drinking and other problems like petrol sniffing you’d presume among young aboriginal people come from a sense of hopelessness.

    Nevertheless, urban aborigines are today – after a long period of being treated as less-than-second-class citizens – a colourful and vibrant part of the Australian social landscape and don’t neccessarily think of themselves as victims, as many (who don’t seem to know much about it) would have the rest of the world believe.

    Yes, they do have a fair bit to gripe about, but the great majority are not downtrodden or treated as outcasts in modern Australia.

    Ultimately, and here’s the ultimate truth of all this, there has been movement of populations since time began. Australia was an islolated continent, and it didn’t happen on a large scale for hundreds of thousands of years until Cook’s arrival in 1770 tipped the balance.

    A classic comparison might be the invasions of the British Isles by the Vikings, Saxons, Angles, Jutes, Normans and Romans, and the displacement of the Celts, which gives all those countries (I’m including Ireland in this) their identities today. All those races have integrated over the years to form the whole.

    It’s not quite as simple as songlines presents it here, is it?? What’s the answer? Do we all pack up and head back where we came from in the hope of redressing the balance??

    Imagine that. I’d probably be looking for a place in Stockholm, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Berlin or Dublin, given my North Germanic/northumbrian/Irish background, and my wife would be moving either to the Scottish highlands, Queensland or Hampshire, given her Scottish/English/Australian background.

    Then there’s my son, who’d also have the opportunity to explore most of those options – or to move in with his tribe in North Queensland.

    The world is as it is, and it’s best we make the most of it without going over the kind of ground that’s been raked over for thousands of years.

    Not much has happened in the past 200 years that didn’t happen for thousands of years before.

  • Songlines

    No you are perhaps not responsible for them Clavos but you do have your blind-spots and i do have mine.I perhaps shouldn’t have reacted the way i did.

    My apologies Clavos

  • Songlines

    Very interesting work that you do Cindy.I agree with what you have to say about blind-spots.Taking that argument one step further perhaps its possible to say that not only do individuals have their blind-spots,society has its blind-spots,a nation can have its blind-spots…America very definitely has its blind-spots and one of them is Empire building.You mentioned We can’t eliminate or alter what is in these blind-spots until we have an experience that breaks through the blind-spot allowing us to engage a new viewpoint. American imperial adventures abroad and its subsequent present decline as a cost accruing from maintaining that empire is one such experience.Perhaps like you said it will allow Americans to engage a new view point?….or will history condemn it to repeat the same mistakes all over again?

  • bliffle

    Is it allowable to hope that there might be another life path that would include the best of both? That would exclude the traumas and fears each?

    Or must we choose between the extremes? Must there be war? Must we exterminate the others?

  • Clavos

    songlines:

    The only country in the world (other than the US) that I interfere with is Mexico.

    And I am a Mexican citizen…

  • Clavos

    Substitute the word Songlines with the word America and you’d know how the rest of the world feels about American interference in their affairs Clavos.

    And I would be responsible for this how???

  • Clavos

    You have a very idealized view of aboriginal life that doesn’t square with what we know about aboriginal peoples all over the world, Cindy.

    Here, for example, is the abstract of an academic paper presented at the University of Witwatersrand (South Africa) which compares aboriginal life with that of people leading lives like ours. It notes, among other things, that our life expectancy is much greater than theirs, that our diet is generally more varied and healthy (unless you eat exclusively at Mickey D’s) than theirs, etc.

    In millennia past, and until recently, among hunter-gatherers and like populations, in all populations, in measure, down through the ages, the securing of sufficient food was life’s primary purpose. Virtually all people were physically very active during early life and later in their everyday occupations. In contrast, nowadays, in Western populations, with relative abundance of food, the way of life is mainly one of enjoyment of meals, of work, and of leisure time, in a context of as few as one child per family, and with long survival times of about 75 to 80 y, due in large part to much reduced child mortality and the effective treatments of disorders and diseases. As to changes in food consumption, compared with the erratic and often monotonous fares of the past, both far and not so distant, everyday diets have changed tremendously in variety, nutritional value, and palatability such that, inter alia, overeating is almost inevitable. Compounding the latter, sedentariness is the rule, in contrast to the previously very high level of everyday physical activity in the masses of populations. In consequence, one speculation is that, by 2230, “all Americans will be obese.” Although the living of much longer lives is highly gratifying, understandably, all wish to have longer “healthy life expectancy,” i.e. to suffer as little as possible before death…

    And here, from Wikipedia:

    “The life expectancy in prehistoric times was very low, 25 – 40 years old[5], with men living longer than women. Archaeological evidence of women and babies found together suggests that many women would have died in childbirth, perhaps accounting for the lower life expectancy in women than men. Once born many babies would have died before the age of 5, being more susceptible to changing conditions and diseases.”

    Hardly an easier life than today’s, stress and all.

  • Songlines

    What you ignore is:

    A) I’m not denigrating anyone else’s lifestyle, nor am I trying to conquer nor force them to do anything they don’t want to do, and

    B) All I ask in return is to be left alone and not denigrated for my own lifestyle (which you are doing). In other words, live and let live.

    Why are you so vicious, Songlines?

    Substitute the word Songlines with the word America and you’d know how the rest of the world feels about American interference in their affairs Clavos.

  • Cindy D

    I myself am guilty of using the word “primitive peoples”, though I meant nothing wrong by it, I simply defined it in my head differently. But, after looking at some definitions, it does have a flavor of being an “undeveloped something else”. That won’t work at all. So, I will stop using it. It occurs to me that indigenous people might be a better choice in that it may be more accurate. Other choices I can think of might be tribal, primal, original–all very short and simple words.

    There is no choice at all, for people like Aborigines, once we enter and influence the world of people whose ways we view as “primitive” and I mean this in the sense of being able to think of someone as not merely “having a different way”, but, “having a less developed, undeveloped, uncivilized or somehow backward life compared to our own.” We think, well we are simply a “more advanced” them. We fail to understand and value the differences between our cultures.

    There life was not difficult at all, Clav. Their life was very easy compared to ours. Like the lives of most hunter gatherer cultures. In fact, one of the very things that makes me scratch my head is how very hard we slave away our lives (at mostly jobs we hate) to have “better” things–when hunter gatherer cultures work a few hours a day, enjoy their work, have real community, connection with life and plenty of time to relax and enjoy.

    After entering our type of society (which often seems insane to native peoples) they typically suffer, generation after generation. Extraordinarily high rates of alcoholism and suicide are a part of modern aboriginal life. Aborigines are ancient peoples who developed a culture more well-adjusted than we could ever hope to be.

    Songlines:

    Songlines, I appreciate the info in your posts especially about Dreamtime. Here is a book you must read (if you haven’t already) You will love it! And I promise you Daniel Quinn’s Ishmael will be one of the most important books you will ever read.

    “In 1989 Ted Turner created a fellowship to be awarded to a work of fiction offering positive solutions to global problems. The winner, chosen from 2500 entries worldwide, was a work of startling clarity and depth: Daniel Quinn’s Ishmael, a Socratic journey that explores the most challenging problem humankind has ever faced: How to save the world from ourselves.”

    “…The book opens with a deceptively ordinary personals ad: ‘Teacher seeks pupil. Must have an earnest desire to save the world’….”

    Cindy …Its not so complicated as that really…

    My apologies, I didn’t mean to imply one needed any education at all to be respectful. I was just trying to tell Clav, that the state of anthropology has changed since the time of Margaret Mead. Indeed since I last took an anthropology course.

    Still, I am going to disagree that it is as simple as you say. Nor, do I think it is just a matter of respect, concern, or even desire. Bear with me as this is not merely a philosophical discourse, but my own actual experience of altering my own perceptions (including my experience with watching and pondering others in the class who failed to achieve much change in their perception). This was a class of basically ordinary people, but mostly young people, typical college students. Although, these people were generally kind, concerned–even outspoken about human rights, most of the 30 students failed to make much change in the way they viewed the world, most failed to experience the insight that was possible, and some never really knew what the class was about at all or understood any of the readings.

    What has been called the human schemata (simple definition from thefreedictionary: “Psychology–A pattern imposed on complex reality or experience to assist in explaining it, mediate perception, or guide response.”) seems to me to have blind-spots. By that I mean, things that we don’t know (can’t know) that we don’t know. We can’t eliminate or alter what is in these blind-spots until we have an experience that breaks through the blind-spot allowing us to engage a new viewpoint.

    One of the things we did in the class I took, was to read some very complex texts (not in the sense of legal texts) along with studies and other texts that were simpler. The key commonality in the material was that it all challenged deeply held beliefs about reality, our culture, etc. It was directly aimed at blind-spots.

    Now, I have been a left-wing person, probably since I was born. But, as a member of the dominant culture in our society, I not only discovered that I had the same blind spots as everyone else, I also found, that it took a hell of a lot of work to break through them. That is what I meant before when I said, it is insidious.

  • Irene Wagner

    I wish I WERE troll, Clavos. I’d give him a whip of snippy wit he’d not soon forget; however, I don’t think Troll is likely to disagree with Dave Nalle in this instance.

  • “there is little choice but to interpret this as disingenuous…Dave is well aware of the ‘schools’ for indigenous children that accompany ‘civilization’ and their horrendous record of using dehumanizing force”

    When did I say word one about the Catholic Church and other missionary schools, Troll? Those aculturating schools are NOT a function of foreign policy by our government or any other western state. IMO they are parasitical in characters. We did have a run with that philosophy under the Dawes Act and it was reprehensible. We’ve never used it overseas.

    Dave

  • Clavos

    Trolling again, eh Irene?

  • Irene Wagner

    All this semantic silliness is the fault of the theory of evolution, of course, Clavos. “Primitive” is just too dang close to the word “primate.”

    There, I’ve just paved the way for this thread to be kept in continuation for years to come. 😉

  • Clavos

    and that is so hard for people like you Clavos who can think only of my boat business,my tv,my advertising, my fundamentalist preachers,my society’s shallow values…in short …the me,mine,myself culture that is so much at odds with another way of thinking,something subtler and finer and without the material trappings that you so deem so necessary ,so necessary in fact that you quickly jumped to term it “primitive”.

    Not quite true. I don’t care for preachers of any kind, fundamentalist or not; I consider religion (all of them) a scourge on humanity. I also deplore (as I said above) society’s shallow values, and I never even mentioned TV, which is an unimportant aspect of my life.

    What you ignore is:

    A) I’m not denigrating anyone else’s lifestyle, nor am I trying to conquer nor force them to do anything they don’t want to do, and

    B) All I ask in return is to be left alone and not denigrated for my own lifestyle (which you are doing). In other words, live and let live.

    Why are you so vicious, Songlines?

    I keep granting you all your points, even apologizing for using a word you consider offensive, and yet each successive comment of yours is even more vicious and dismissive of me than the previous one.

    You clearly are full of hate for everything of which you disapprove, whether or not it is injurious to you or anyone else; I feel sorry for you, it’s a terrible way to go through life: full of bitterness and hate.

    But I am content with (indeed, delight in) my life, and don’t need approval of it from anyone but my family and friends.

  • Songlines

    British colonialists dismissed ancient Indian scriptures such as the Vedas and Upanishads as “the babblings of humanity’s nonage”.It is easy to see why.These profound philosophical and spiritual scriptures came in the way of an imperial power that had set out to conquer that ancient land and what better way to do it than by saying that the natives were savages and that they needed to be civilized.

    Something along these lines but with more devastating effects have proceeded for the aborigines of Australia.Their concept of spiritual unity expressed as Dreamtime has been sneered at and denigrated just as the Vedas and Upanishads were too.The aborigines have no concept of property ,they expressed the world as a spiritual unity just as the Indians did.A key concept of aboriginal culture is that the aboriginals and the land are one. By singing the land, the land itself exists; you see the tree, the rock, the path, the land. What are we if not defined by our environment? And in one of the harshest environments on Earth one of our oldest civilizations became literally as one with the country. In other words,this world is for everyone…. and that is so hard for people like you Clavos who can think only of my boat business,my tv,my advertising, my fundamentalist preachers,my society’s shallow values…in short …the me,mine,myself culture that is so much at odds with another way of thinking,something subtler and finer and without the material trappings that you so deem so necessary ,so necessary in fact that you quickly jumped to term it “primitive”.

    An unspoken assumption underlying your comments and mostly almost all modern research is that human society evolved in a straight line from the “primitive stage” to the present day.Aurobindo Ghosh,one of India’s great philosopher saints had this to say..
    European scholarship regards human civilisation as a recent progression starting yesterday with the Fiji Islander and ending today with Haeckel and Rockefeller,conceiving ancient culture as necessarily primitive culture and primitive culture as necessarily half savage culture.It is a superstition of modern thought that the march of knowledge has in all its parts progressed always in a line of forward progress….

    In a certain sense the Red Indian, the Basuto, the Fiji Islander had their civilisation; they possessed a rigorously, if simply organised society, a social law, some ethical ideas, a religion, a kind of training, a good many virtues in some of which, it is said, civilisation is sadly lacking; but we are agreed to call them savages and barbarians, mainly it seems, because of their crude and limited knowledge, the primitive rudeness of their appliances and the bare simplicity of their social organisation. In the more developed states of society we have such epithets as semi-civilised and semi-barbarous which are applied by different types of civilisation to each other ,-the one which is for a time dominant and physically successful has naturally the loudest and most self-confident say in the matter. Formerly men were more straightforward and simple-minded and frankly expressed their standpoint by stigmatising all peoples different in general culture from themselves as barbarians ….

    The word civilisation so used comes to have a merely relative significance or hardly any fixed sense at all. We must therefore get rid in it of all that is temporary or accidental and fix it upon this distinction that barbarism is the state of society in which man is almost entirely preoccupied with his life and body, his economic and physical existence, with their sufficient maintenance, not as yet their greater or richer well-being,and has few means and little inclination to develop his mentality, while civilisation is the more evolved state of society in which to a sufficient social and economic organisation is added the activity of the mental life in most if not all of its parts; for sometimes some of these parts are left aside or discouraged or temporarily atrophied by their inactivity, yet the society may be very obviously civilised and even highly civilised. This conception will bring in all the civilisations historic and prehistoric and put aside all the barbarism whether of Africa or Europe or Asia, Hun or Goth or Vandal or Turcoman….

    It is obvious that in a state of barbarism the rude beginnings of civilisation may exist; it is obvious too that in a civilised society a great mass of barbarism or numerous relics of it may exist. In that sense all societies are semi-civilised. How much of our present-day civilisation will be looked back upon with wonder and disgust by a more developed humanity as the superstitions and atrocities of an imperfectly civilised era!….
    The unmental, the purely physical life is very obviously its opposite, it is barbarism; the unintellectualised vital, the crude economic or the grossly domestic life which looks only to money-getting, the procreation of family and its maintenance are equally its opposites; they are another and even uglier barbarism. We agree to regard the individual who is dominated by them and has no thought of higher things as an uncultured and undeveloped human being, a prolongation of the savage, essentially a barbarian even if he lives in a civilisation and in a society which has arrived at the general idea and at some ordered practice of culture and refinement. The societies or nations which bear this stamp we agree to call barbarous or semi-barbarous. Even when a nation or an age has developed within itself knowledge and science and arts, but still in its general outlook its habits of life and thought is content to be governed not by knowledge and truth and beauty and high ideals of living, but by the gross vital, commercial, economic view of existence, we say that that nation or age may be civilised in a sense, but for all its abundant or even redundant appliances and apparatus of civilisation it is not the realisation or the promise of a cultured humanity….

    A man may so live with all the appearance or all the pretensions of a civilised existence, enjoy successfully all the plethora of its appurtenances, but he is not in the real sense a developed human being. A society following such a life may be anything else you will, vigorous, decent, well-ordered, successful, religious, moral, but it is a Philistine society; it is a prison which the human soul has to break. For so long as it dwells there, it dwells in an inferior, uninspired and unexpanding mental status; it vegetates infructuously in the lower substratum and is governed not by the higher faculties of man, but by the crudities of the unuplifted sense-mind. Nor is it enough for it to open windows in this prison by which it may get draughts of agreeable fresh air, something of the free light of the intellect, something of the fragrane of art and beauty, something of the large breath of wider interests and higher ideals. It has yet to break out of its prison altogether and live in that free light, in that fragrance and large breath; only then does it breathe the natural atmosphere of the developed mental being. Not to live principally in the activities of the sense-mind, but in the activities of knowledge and reason and a wide intellectual curiosity, the activities of the cultivated aesthetic being, the activities of the enlightened will which make for character and high ethical ideals and a large human action, not to be governed by our lower or our average mentality but by truth and beauty and the self-ruling will is the ideal of a true culture and the beginning of an accomplished humanity.

    Who are we to call other people “primitive”?? and occupy their lands and kill and maim ?? and if we continue to do so shouldn’t you expect some Blowback??

  • Clavos

    It was my understanding that some US aid was now getting through – albeit not aboard American vessels.

    Reports I’ve read say the sum total of all aid being allowed in is, so far, a mere trickle and completely inadequate.

    The negative connotations of the word are obvious…

    True, but I thought the point made by Mary Douglas in the second link that even the abstention from using the word is itself “…the product of secret convictions of superiority,” is a good one.

    I think such sensitivities are just a tad too much preoccupation with Political Correctness, which I think is one of the silliest (and most repressive) concepts humanity has come up with in a long time, particularly as practiced on college campuses these days.

  • Thanks, Clav. Well, I can see both sides of the argument. The negative connotations of the word are obvious, but there is a tendency for replacement terms to be ever longer and more convoluted in an effort to future-proof them and make them culturally neutral.

    It’s just linguistic evolution in action: the acceptability of terms changes over time as societal attitudes change.

    For example, referring to a hunter-gatherer people from the Congo as ‘savages’ would be unthinkable today, but it was everyday terminology a hundred years ago.

  • Clavos

    Doc,

    Interesting links, both.

    Props for presenting one on each side of the issue…

  • It was my understanding that some US aid was now getting through – albeit not aboard American vessels.

  • Clavos

    Here’s a timely opinion piece in the LA Times regarding the issue of forcing unwanted aid on Myanmar.

  • Clavos

    Maybe we should just leave them alone. Or is that unthinkable?

    That’s what Irene was saying, Bliff. And I agree with you both.

    Ditto the Sudan and Darfur.

  • Clav, I took an anthropology class last summer and learned that the use of the term ‘primitive’ is now frowned on by many in that field.

    A couple of links I found would seem to bear that out.

  • bliffle

    Maybe we should just leave them alone. Or is that unthinkable?

  • Clavos

    Relief-bringers go in unarmed, and under-cover, without government sanction (ask Bible smugglers to formerly Eastern bloc for the details) or they don’t go in at all. That gets respect. That action probably takes as much courage than that displayed by a US soldier who volunteers to go into the Iraquian meat grinder.

    Once again, agreed, Irene.

    However, I’m betting we go in anyway.

    Enjoy your services.

  • Irene Wagner

    It’s that time, Clavos. Last time I bowed out of a blogcritics conversation with the excuse that I had to go to church…Dave Nalle got involved…and it was kind of funny.

  • Irene Wagner

    The US would be at war with half of the continent of Africa if attempts at humanitarian aid were backed by military action against some of the corrupt leaders who intercept the bounty.

  • Irene Wagner

    We take the long view, Clavos.
    We went into Iraq to “liberate” them, and as a result, over a million Iraqi civilians are dead so far.

    In five years, how many Burmese will die, being caught in the crossfire after th US wages war on their leaders to bring relief to them?

    Relief-bringers go in unarmed, and under-cover, without government sanction (ask Bible smugglers to formerly Eastern bloc for the details) or they don’t go in at all. That gets respect. That action probably takes as much courage than that displayed by a US soldier who volunteers to go into the Iraquian meat grinder.

  • Clavos

    One doesn’t have to be naive about the evil of Islamic militaristic expansionism (to which the much-maligned Crusades were in large part a response) to recognize that militaristic expansionism on the part of the US is also a bad thing.

    As I have said before, Irene, you and I do agree on quite a few of the issues, and the above is one such.

    Now let me throw some sand in the gears:

    Believing as we do, that military expansionism is not a good thing, how do you think the US (and for that matter, the UN and rest of the world) should react to the situation in Myanmar? Their government, though desperately in need of help, refuses it, and has indicated that any attempts to provide it will be met by force of arms. This means that if we want to go into Myanmar and help the victims of the disaster, we’d have to do so with armed troops, and perhaps even engage in combat to assure relief gets where it needs to go. The situation then becomes a case of armed intervention, not unlike conditions in Iraq at the beginning of our intervention there.

    So, do we go to Myanmar and provide aid and relief?

  • Clavos

    having such basic things as decency and respect for a fellow human being whatever be his material status.In this respect one would find that the likes of Clavos and Nalle are more primitive than the people they seek to label so.

    songline, where the hell in my comments here do you find my lack of decency and respect for anyone? The fact that I used the term “primitive” for aboriginal societies doesn’t so indicate; it’s, as I pointed out, the term used by anthropologists.

    I fully recognize and respect the humanity and dignity of those peoples, but I also see that they live very differently from me and I don’t think I would like to live like they do. What’s wrong with that?

    I was born and raised in (and am a citizen of) a Third World country, songline. From that experience alone, which doesn’t even approximate the difficulty of the life led by aboriginal peoples, I know that I would not like to live as they do.

    If it really bothers you, I humbly withdraw the word “primitive” and respectfully ask you to indicate what term I should use in order not to be indecent and disrespectful, for such was decidedly not my intent.

    My only intent was to declare that I could not live as they do, because I like where and how I live now, with all the material trappings, and have no desire to give up what I have.

    That was all, songline.

    Now, what word that won’t offend you should I use to describe such societies?

  • Irene Wagner

    I knew I’d find at least a couple of square feet of common ground with that comment, Clavos. 🙂

    One doesn’t have to be naive about the evil of Islamic militaristic expansionism (to which the much-maligned Crusades were in large part a response) to recognize that militaristic expansionism on the part of the US is also a bad thing.

    It’s not either/or.

  • Songlines

    In the field of anthropology today, Clav, we are questioning this relationship of observer and observed.

    Cindy …Its not so complicated as that really…I don’t think one needs to have a doctorate in anthropology as a pre-requisite for having such basic things as decency and respect for a fellow human being whatever be his material status.In this respect one would find that the likes of Clavos and Nalle are more primitive than the people they seek to label so.

  • Clavos

    Right around the corner, unless we wake up, troll.

  • Clavos

    Big government always screws things up when it gets involved in education anything.

    There. Fixed it for ya, Irene.

  • troll

    Clavos – the comparison will hold when the next generation of white Americans is forced into beards and burkas…soon come Allah willing

  • Irene Wagner

    When the United States considered Islamic fundamentalism a plus in its fight against Communism, it funded madrassas during the Afghan jihad. Central Asia was a testing ground for the “no child left behind” program perhaps.

    Big government always screws things up when it gets involved in education.

  • Clavos

    Are some of those called madrassas?

  • troll

    The so-called benefits of civilization are almost never forced on people. They are offered and accepted and the responsibility ultimately rests with those who made the choice.

    there is little choice but to interpret this as disingenuous…Dave is well aware of the ‘schools’ for indigenous children that accompany ‘civilization’ and their horrendous record of using dehumanizing force

  • Cindy D

    Dave,

    You’re listening to yourself too much. I see you have as much “theoretical” knowledge abut the Aborigines as you do about the Hawaiians.

    I am not sure what I can say to (or about) anyone who could be so glib about the destruction of a peaceful, happy culture.

    Clav,

    I gave Dave a link to a part of a speech once. It confused him too much to read it. (It is a difficult read, but very worthwhile.)

    The anthropological ethnography, of course, is the descriptive record by the anthropologist studying the “subject”. We understand now though, that this relationship is limited (by the interpretation of the observer, through his/her own cultural filter).

    In the field of anthropology today, Clav, we are questioning this relationship of observer and observed.

    Ooops out of time. I will put a little bit here later about Mary Louise Pratt’s Arts of the Contact Zone

  • Songlines

    Oh yes the “benefits” were so profound that a head of state had to apologise

  • Last I checked aborigines were not strapped down and forced to watch TV. What TV they watch has always been a matter of free, personal choice.

    Cindy makes the common mistake of the self-righteous left in not accepting the existence of the free will of the ‘oppressed’ people. The so-called benefits of civilization are almost never forced on people. They are offered and accepted and the responsibility ultimately rests with those who made the choice.

    There are, in fact, examples of cultures which have chosen to remain relatively isolated and not be corrupted by elements of western civilization and technology which they did not approve of – hell, the Amish have managed to do it for 200 years.

    Dave

  • Clavos

    I think that hundreds of academic anthropological studies over the years have pretty much removed any doubt about the lives of aboriginal peoples.

    Starting with Margaret Mead’s pioneering work in Samoa in the 1930s, dozens of anthropologists have lived among primitive peoples and created a voluminous body of work, adding to our understanding of such societies.

    …we automatically assume that the aborigines were a primitive people…

    Well, yes we do, but not in a pejorative sense. Compared to industrial societies, they are primitive; even the anthropologists studying them use the term. Read almost any anthropology work, and you will see the word used wherever appropriate in an academic context; Mead used it, even in some of her book titles.

  • Cindy D

    You know what Clav. I really understand exactly what you are saying and I think you are speaking for only yourself. So, I am asking you to have a look at why you chose the words “…subsistence or survival level…”

    Not for the sake of argument, but really, just for your own edification, google a bit about Aborigines and what kind of life they enjoyed.

    You mentioned the term agringados in another thread. By The Hawaiians, we are called “haolis” (pronounced howlies) which means “without breath”.

    I am rambling now but, I am reminded of the endearing and comic film The Gods Must Be Crazy which deals with an aboriginal tribe that finds a coke bottle (which has been discarded from a plane) and is thought to be a gift “from the gods.”

  • Songlines

    Thanks Cindy for veering the ship of debate back to course.

    You have touched upon something fundamental which is the essence of imperialism.Imperialism stems from a need to possess and control.The machinations of imperialism has always been cloaked by a veneer of altruism.The relentless logic applied is that they are different,therefore they are inferior,therefore they are savages devoid of understanding,emotion and feeling,therefore they need to be civilized/bombed/napalmed whatever.For which one has to repeat the endless litany of lies and canards about exporting “human values”,”democracy” and “freedom”

    In the case of the aborigines as you rightly pointed an entire way of life has been erased not accidently but systematically decimated.Please read the phrase…But there’s no way a life at subsistence or survival level, such as the aborigines had… and you’ll understand the inherent bias and prejudice against other races.Its so in built that we automatically assume that the aborigines were a primitive people ,barely eking out a subsistence/survival living which doesn’t explain ofcourse how they survived on the Australian outback successfully one might add for thousands of years.The very same prejudices and biases have resulted in perverse social experiments based on eugenics which have resulted in the “Stolen Generations” which the present Australian administration under Kevin Rudd has acknowledged and apologised for.Its very simple actually.You occuppy the aborigines land,you take away from them their way of life and their children and treat them worse than second class citizens,you keep them in the shadows and the edges of society and then you say its all your own fault.

  • Clavos

    I think you may have misunderstood my point, Cindy. I was neither denigrating the lifestyle of aboriginal peoples nor implying that the lifestyle I lead is good for anyone but me.

    But I DO know that the aboriginal style is NOT good for me; I’m quite content with the complexities of life in the developed world, and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I would not be happy living in either the Outback or the African Savannah wearing nothing but a loincloth and herding goats.

    Just speaking for ME, Cindy, not you, the aborigines, or anyone else.

  • Cindy D

    “…a life at subsistence or survival level, such as the aborigines had…”

    You make my point again Clav.

    Why is it that you care more what you think about how Aborigines lived, then what they think about it?

    Allow me to tell you. Because you believe that you’re way of life is the only “right” one. Why would a reasonable person believe such a thing. It is quite amazing when you consider it.

    There is ONE right way, and it is ours. Dirt floor and thatched huts are certainly not a part of the ONE right way. My way of life represents the culmination of what life itself is. I am the reason (the evolved result, if you will) for the very existence of life.

    Well, you will be pleased to know that no one is asking you to live in a thatched hut with a dirt floor.

    I am still curious. Why do you, Clav, imagine you can speak for and categorize the lifestyle of a whole culture without even consulting it?

  • Clavos

    A life without TV may, in fact, be a good thing; I agree.

    But there’s no way a life at subsistence or survival level, such as the aborigines had, or some societies in Africa still have, would be attractive to me, thank you very much. I like the modern world, with all its amenities, even if it comes with TV, advertising, fundamentalist preachers, society’s shallow values, etc.

    I certainly wouldn’t trade my modest apartment for a dirt-floored thatched hut, even to live in a “sane culture.”

  • Ruvy

    I almost always have someone under me who’s responsible for the actual editing of articles.

    Thanks for the kind words, Dave. BTW, what gives with Mark Schannon? I have seen none of his words to mark for quite some time now….

  • Clavos

    A life without TV may, in fact, be a good thing; I agree.

    But there’s no way a life at subsistence or survival level, such as the aborigines had, or some societies in Africa still have, would be attractive to me, thank you very much. I like the modern world, with all its amenities, even if it comes with TV, advertising, fundamentalist preachers, society’s shallow values, etc.

    I certainly wouldn’t trade my modest apartment for a dirt-floored thatched hut, even to live in a “sane culture.”

  • Cindy D

    An excellent article Socrates. I’m glad I noticed in the “recent post” column. I would have hated to miss reading it. I am inspired to read the book.

    Dave:

    You don’t hear a lot of Hawaiians complaining these days, do you?

    Actually, you would, if you cared to listen. It’s not that they aren’t complaining. The views of marginalized people are rarely of enough importance to the dominant culture to make the headlines.

    They are sort of like the views of those we colonized:

    Actually, in the areas under discussion the native population had already been previously suppressed by colonists from Spain, so their presence was irrelevant. And as a general rule, unfair though it may seem to some, conquered peoples are not given a fair shake by conquerors….

    This is what hegemony is Dave. This is where it all starts (the way we have gone so wrong). We make some people irrelevant and we never stop. In doing so we damage ourselves. Because, different ways of being, differences in ideas and ideals are what spells a growing healthy community. One kind of idea, dominating all others and making them irrelevant is what leads to, well, what we have…a basically insane world that is destroying itself bit by bit because of the blinders (of arrogance) it wears.

    We say things casually like, we’ve brought other people a “better life”. I think the Aborigines would have preferred a life without TV. We have helped (along with the other hegemon dominators) to destroy almost every sane culture on the planet.

    We have done this:

    Because it’s irrelevant to anyone [who counts] but those who want to make a bogus [one that doesn’t effect me or people I can relate to] issue of it.

    It is so ingrained in you, you can’t even see it.

  • Mike W

    Clavos,Rose doesn’t want to get into any controversies…but i suspect he secretly admires what I’ve done;)

  • Mike W

    Hmmm…no love lost between the two of you.

    Rose I don’t have to(want to) respond to Dave’s “logic”…can’t see any …besides you’ve said what I wanted to say all along;)…you’ve responded to his “logic”

  • Clavos, thanks for both your charm and your perception, they are two of your more profound qualities…

  • Clavos

    Clavos, you are really great at taking inappropriate snippets out of remarks. Is it that are you just given to the obtuse?

    Apparently so.

    You’re not always wrong, just frequently, like most people who are oversure of what they think they know.

    Thank you for your insight.

    Clavos, you’re the one most in danger of that kind of nasal damage!

    Not likely, Christopher, there’s nothing about you I admire.

  • Clavos, you are really great at taking inappropriate snippets out of remarks. Is it that are you just given to the obtuse?

    You said that “one could even assert that Mr. Rose is biased against him, though I’m sure Mr. Rose will deny any such bias”. I would have thought you would have been able to grasp that I was happy to admit my bias but clarity is perhaps not your strongest quality.

    You’re not always wrong, just frequently, like most people who are oversure of what they think they know.

    Mike W, you are not countering Dave’s “logic”, just adding another flavour of non-thinking, to nobody’s gain.

    Clavos, you’re the one most in danger of that kind of nasal damage!

  • I can edit better than Dave Nalle does.

    I believe you, Ruvy. I’ve never been a copy editor, which is a lot of what the job entails. When I’ve worked as an editor in the real world it has always been in an administrative/executive capacity. I’m great at giving out assignments, picking articles, editing for content and putting an issue of a magazine together. Pretty good at layout and design too. I get editorial jobs because I’m good at working with writers and artists and producing a nice final product. I almost always have someone under me who’s responsible for the actual editing of articles. I can do an acceptable job editing text, but it’s drudgery and not my primary interest.

    Dave

  • Clavos

    Careful, M’ Lord! Don’t turn sharply, you’ll break Mike’s nose!

  • Mike W

    besides Chris..not everyone has your turn of phrase..

    The only way you lose readers is when they stop following what you say because it is so dim

    of all your comments this one could well turn out to be the most prescient.

  • Mike W

    Chris Rose…about “Nalleian type of robot”…one of the ways to counter Nalle is to be his mirror image :))

  • Clavos

    Choose one.

  • Clavos

    Clavos, once again you’re mistaken

    Of course. I’m always wrong. I once wasn’t mistaken and nearly destroyed a lifetime of work.

    Fortunately, I caught it in time.

  • Clavos

    So, I said you are biased against him, and you agree.

    Where am I “once again mistaken?”

  • Clavos, once again you’re mistaken. It is indeed a fact that I am biased, although not prejudiced (a very important distinction), against Dave Nalle; it is with good reason, in that he does have an excessively rigid and oddly dated view of the world as he demonstrates here on a regular basis, as I stated in the extract quoted above by this Mike W character.

    Mind you, for the record, I also don’t agree with this guy, who seems another Nalleian type of robot that can’t actually process information that contradicts his world view.

    Also, for the record, Dave Nalle and I do actually agree on several issues, mostly where his thinking is not as dated or rigid as it is on some other isuues, these being mostly non political ones…

  • Roughly translated, the above comment says:

    “Something big is going down. The meeting was never this secret before now.”

    As to what he’s actually talking about… well, there I can’t help you.

  • Da bahnt sich etwas großes an. Das Treffen war bisher noch nie so geheim…

  • What continues to astonish me is how very American Dave’s perspective is, considering that he has in the past lived in the Middle East, the Soviet Union and Britain.

  • Ruvy

    Both Chris Rose and Dave Nalle believe in freedom of speech, but Dave has a very European perspective on what this freedom means, and Dave has a very American one.

    So much for my editing ability!

    That sentence should read:

    “Both Chris Rose and Dave Nalle believe in freedom of speech, but Chris has a very European perspective on what this freedom means, and Dave has a very American one.”

    I think that my error in the previous comment was a message from the Big Guy Upstairs to get the hell off the computer, as Sabbath is upon us here in Israel!

    Shabbat Shalom,
    Blessings from Liberated Samaria,
    Ruvy

  • Ruvy

    Mike,

    I gotta agree with Clavos in comment #781 (Shit! That many comments have piled up here?).

    Chris Rose, the Comments Editor, generally does not agree with Dave Nalle at all on views, and the two tend to lock horns when they do communicate on comment threads. Citing Chris is no indication of validity at all. All the editorial positions here are volunteer positions, not professional ones. And Chris tends to speak his mind, unedited, when asked. What is worth noting, Mike, is this comment by Chris Rose, as it deals directly with being an editor:

    He is, after all, the very epitome of even-handedness and, with a humility worthy of respect, has very recently said “I’ll continue to try to do my honest best within my obvious limitations to promote discussion and useful exchange of ideas here on BC”.

    Both Chris Rose and Dave Nalle believe in freedom of speech, but Dave has a very European perspective on what this freedom means, and Dave has a very American one.

    Nevertheless, speaking as one who writes articles here, my comments are not exactly a ringing endorsement. I can edit better than Dave Nalle does. But I have to spend time making money, and am not in the position to volunteer a large chunk of time, which is what being the Political Editor here would entail.

  • Clavos

    BTW, the “Comments Editor’s” opinion (and that is what you have presented here) is no more (or less) valid than anyone else’s on any topic.

    On this one he has amply displayed an animosity for Dave in the past; one could even assert that Mr. Rose is biased against him, though I’m sure Mr. Rose will deny any such bias.

  • Clavos

    Also think its important to remain silent or atleast abstain from the silly assertions in those areas which are not your domain of speciality….

    So, the Constitution is wrong…

    One is only free to speak when one is an expert on the topic being discussed.

    Why are you posting then? You haven’t shown us any level of expertise; you merely post links to other people’s work, interspersed with your opinions.

  • Mike W

    Ruvy you mentioned.. It helps to know a lot about the topic at hand, and Dave is no slouch, but you needn’t be an expert or even right a tenth of the time. When you bear in mind where Blogcritics Magazine puts its emphases, Dave’s being right is not that important.

    and you’ve summed it up pretty well too.Also think its important to remain silent or atleast abstain from the silly assertions in those areas which are not your domain of speciality….Nalle thinks he know something about economics but the truth is otherwise.

    Besides this is not the first time he’s managed to get under people’s skin.Not too long ago Blog Critics’s VERY OWN COMMENTS EDITOR had this to say about Nalle…..and its hilarious….remember this folks YOUR VERY OWN COMMENTS EDITOR

    Here’s a sample …
    Like many people he’s kind of stuck in a rut and seems incapable of updating his mental framework, more’s the pity.

    It’s also true that he regularly pulls off the classic doublethink of considering his own views as the product of reason whilst decrying the views of others as dogma or extreme.

    Dave is also being either disingenuous or simply daft when he claims not to be right wing; to my way of thinking his political mental map is firmly stuck in the late 20th century, which makes most of the things he says seem absurd.

    Now run along and write some more of your deliriously dated political screeds

    The real tragedy of the Nalle experience is that he is so arrogantly smug and complacent as to think he’s quite smart…

    The truth of the matter is that he’s just another one of those who pays lip service to intelligence whilst actually just repeating dogma like a machine. The only way you lose readers is when they stop following what you say because it is so dim.

    As to shameless; you’re arrogant, elitist, complacent, unbelievably patronising and as thick as a stick. Shameless? I think the case is proven but I’m sure you won’t even consider the possibility, you know, because you just get everything so right.

    Some people receive and transmit but you are just simply permanently stuck on transmit, to such an extent that you ignore much of what people say to you and just respond dogmatically and robotically. Just because you say so doesn’t make it so Dave, though of course you can never admit that.

    As the old saying goes, empty vessels make the most noise and, as the most frequent commenter to the site by a long way, you are easily the loudest, if not the most tuneful.

    All that’s left is your selective and subjective prejudice against people from certain parts of the political spectrum, a fact you are apparently incapable of recognising

    Dave’s offer of help is unprecedented in its generosity and in no way shaped by his eagerness to have another voice of which he approves writing for the site. I think. He is, after all, the very epitome of even-handedness and, with a humility worthy of respect, has very recently said “I’ll continue to try to do my honest best within my obvious limitations to promote discussion and useful exchange of ideas here on BC”.Of course he did follow that noble aspiration with a sly dig at me for not offering him “collegial support”, despite the fact I have made it clear to him many times that my commitment is to the site and the user community. Go figure.

    No ,…you are right Ruvy ,No one should be wasting their breath on this guy.

  • troll

    – unionize – strike…boycott – !

    or if you prefer ignore them until they go away

    …but consider the extent to which the food on your table is afforded through the sale of bullets

    it’s all a matter of personal choice

  • Clavos

    So pile it on, Dude.

    Include me out…

  • troll

    (snow)flakes add up

  • Clavos

    Crap, troll.

    As you well know the economy is an oligopoly; control is in the hands of a fairly small cohort of players.

    Nothing the average schlemiel can do — short of armed revolution — will make a snowflake’s worth of difference.

    And revolution ain’t worth it — nothing’s worth dying for; particularly not a business cycle.

  • troll

    what horse shit…investors and consumers exercise their control (which is considerable) by going for the buck – cutting their throats in the name of short term ‘self-interest’

    Ruvy – if it works then it work for all…much as one might feel vindicated in shooting corporate capitalists and their lobbyists

    the paradigm of violent revolution is a failed world view

  • Clavos

    The trouble is that the elements that are dragging your economy down are things you have little control over

    That’s exactly my point…

  • Ruvy

    Mike, this is from your LA Times article on the Bloomberg Poll that Clavos thinks nobody cares about.

    Chris Kobes, 41, who lives in Cloquet, Minn., near Duluth, was among those who told pollsters that he had worries about the economy and his own finances.

    With earnings of less than $40,000 a year, Kobes said he just barely makes it from paycheck to paycheck — and that’s after cutting back on things such as eating out, going to movies and driving unnecessary distances.

    “I do very little extra that isn’t a necessity,” Kobes said. “With the cost of gas and food being more, there’s just less money left over.”

    I used to live in Minnesota, and generally it has a lower cost of living than many states in the union. Cloquet, in the north near Duluth, has a lower CoL than St. Paul or Minneapolis or other cities in the Twin Cities Metro area. So $40,000 a year is not what it looks like to the article’s author, Abigail Goldman, who is likely writing from the Left Coast, with a perspective to match.

    My wife and I used to pull in about $41,000 to 45,000 in 2000 and 2001 and we did just fine. I suspect that by now, in order to do as well as we did then, (had we stayed in the States) we would need to be pulling in at least $50,000 yearly. Of course, I could be wrong. But we did not live extravagantly at all, but rather modestly in a working class St. Paul neighborhood.

    I realize that some folks in America can act as if the economy doesn’t matter, but apparently most of you cannot afford that perception. The trouble is that the elements that are dragging your economy down are things you have little control over, like how much money your government is wasting in Iraq, or how much it is using credit chits to American defense firms to keep control over countries like mine.

    You, like us, need a revolution to turn the shits who are impoverishing you out of power – and you are not likely to get one. Revolutions cost lives as well as money, and when that fact sinks in, most folks shy away from it. Things just aren’t bad enough in America to foster a revolutionary mentality there.

  • Clavos

    Get back under the bridge, troll, you didn’t see your shadow yet–oh, wait…

    (in the voice of Emily Latella) Never mind!

  • troll

    …but he can be Chief (by marriage) if he wants

  • Clavos

    Dave is the Politics Editor, not Editor in Chief, and responding to comments on the threads is not part of his job description; he does that because he enjoys the give-and-take, as do we all…

  • Ruvy

    Mike W. complains,

    Housing bubble not bursting – assertion – and proved wrong.

    Dollar will rebound in the next few months – assertion – and proved wrong.

    Gulf states threatened to come off dollar peg – assertion – no proof forthcoming from Nalle

    How did they make you editor in chief, Nalle?

    Editors, Mike, do a number of things. They correct for style, (see your comments above and compare to what you originally wrote); they clean up factual messes that their writers hand them where factual articles are involved; they clear up problems where the author has been unclear in his writing – this is most often (but not always) why articles get sent back for rework; and finally, they make sure that links work, that the title has some apparent relevance to the article, and that the writer has kept to the magazine’s standards and its guidelines. At BC, that is the other reason that articles get sent back to writers – they do not conform to the magazine’s standards and guidelines.

    It helps to know a lot about the topic at hand, and Dave is no slouch, but you needn’t be an expert or even right a tenth of the time. When you bear in mind where Blogcritics Magazine puts its emphases, Dave’s being right is not that important. This isn’t a news-magazine in the classic sense of the word (sorry E.O., but that’s the truth, even though every now and then someone here scoops something).

    Put simply, Mike, Dave has the job because he volunteered to take it (and it is a volunteer position), he actually does the job, and writes articles as well on a pretty consistent basis.

    That’s not a ringing endorsement. If I didn’t have to make a living, I’d be glad to do it, and know I could do a better job. But those bills keep a-coming.

    Thanks for the links, by the way.

  • Clavos

    Give Pablo a shout, Mike. You can have fun together blaming it on the CFR, the Bilderberg group, and the Rothschild famiy…

    Don’t forget to stockpile food and fuel in your bunker.

  • Clavos

    Nobody cares, Mike, there’s nothing we can do about it anyway; you’ve proven incessantly the economy will crash, most of us will be severely crippled by it, but some of us will survive and become Chinese. Or Indians.

    In the meantime, we have to keep on living as best we can, even if it means killing and eating each other to survive, which I’m prepared to do–are you?

    End of boring story…

  • Mike W

    Ruvy #732..The view from the gated community is very rosy indeed…but for the reality Americans’ money worries are growing, L.A. Times/Bloomberg poll finds Food costs jump most in 18 years!

    besides here’s another example of how inflation figures are fudgedGovernment Inflation data at Odds with Reality

  • Mike W

    The Fed cannot lend money to investment banks.It hasn’t happened since the Great Depression.That is why Paul Volcker former Fed Chief himself to say that the Fed actions of bailing out Bear””extend to the very edge of its lawful and implied powers.”…he should know …not our know-all editor

  • Mike W

    I stand by what i said.Nalle doesn’t know the difference between a commercial bank and an investment bank.The repeal of the Glass Steagal Act has blurred the distinctions between the two.Bear Stearns is a investment bank.

    This is a standard diversionary tactic by Know-all editor in chief.

    In case you didn’t know here it is…the difference between a Commercial bank and a Investment bank

  • Because he’s a nice guy?

    From what I understand, we’re talking about ONE ad from an independent group.

    Compare that to the mud being slung by Clinton, or just wait a couple of months to see what a Republican attack campaign actually looks like.

    Dave

  • Well, that wasn’t your statement, Dave Vox Barry. You don’t get to massage it after the fact.

    “The Reps aren’t the ones attacking Obama. McCain has barely spoken in public in the last few weeks. The GOP is just sitting back and watching. It’s all Hillary and her army of surrogates.”

    Besides if they were negligible, why did McCain ask for them to stop?

  • EB, I still stand by that statement. Serious Republican attacks on Obama remain negligible. If anything Republicans have been expressing sympathy over the Rev. Wright business.

    Dave

  • “Yes, do check #711 where Mike makes a whole series of untrue statements.”

    Congrats, Dave. You just won this week’s “pot calling the kettle ‘black'” award due in part to your falsehood that Republicans haven’t started attacking Obama yet.

  • Yes, do check #711 where Mike makes a whole series of untrue statements. Then check #756 for the facts.

    Mike says that Bear Stearns has no federally backed banks in its family of financial institutions, but as usual he’s wrong. One of Bear Stearns subsidiaries is the NJ based Custodial Trust Company which is insured by the FDIC as shown in this SEC Filing.

    Credibility? Not in Mike’s portfolio.

    Dave

  • Mike W

    fellow readers see #711..Nalle doesn’t know how many types of banks there are and their different functions.Know-all at work again

  • Sure Bear-Stearns is a bank Davey. Is that one of your (facts) or an erroneous opinion of yours, something which you NEVER preface your remarks with.

    Pablo, you and Mike should form a misinformation club. Bear Stearns is, in fact, a bank.

    I refer you to the NYSE summary for Beaar-Stearns. To quote:

    The Company through its broker-dealer and international bank subsidiaries, Bear, Stearns & Co. Inc. (Bear Stearns), Bear, Stearns Securities Corp. (BSSC), Bear, Stearns International Limited (BSIL); Bear Stearns Bank plc (BSB); Bear Stearns Global Lending Limited; Custodial Trust Company; Bear Stearns Financial Products Inc.; Bear Stearns Capital Markets Inc.; Bear Stearns Credit Products Inc.; Bear Stearns Forex Inc.; EMC Mortgage Corporation; Bear Stearns Commercial Mortgage, Inc.; Bear Stearns Investment Products Inc. and Bear Energy L.P is an investment banking, securities and derivatives trading, clearance and brokerage firm serving corporations, governments, institutional and individual investors globally.

    So in fact it is several banks of several different kinds, including BSB which meets the most narrow possible definitions of a bank and bears the name Bear Stearns Bank which is pretty damned unequivocal.

    Ignorance is no excuse, Pablo.

    Dave

  • Clavos

    Look Jane, Look!

    See Spot run!

    Run, Spot, run!

  • Pablo, it was William Clark, who’s one of your compadres, not Richard Clarke who’s a reformed neocon.

    Dave

  • Clavos

    As Ruvy mentioned earlier,the class you serve and cater to are apparently recession proof.

    True.

    And most of them aren’t even Americans anymore.

    It’s a global economy now, and MUCH larger than the US.

  • Pablo

    Richard Clarke is about as credible as you are Dave, as in being a shill.

  • Pablo

    Dave said:
    “Mike, why draw an arbitrary line between banks and other financial institutons? Plus Bear-Stearns IS a bank, among other things, so in this case that division doesn’t even apply.”

    Sure Bear-Stearns is a bank Davey. Is that one of your (facts) or an erroneous opinion of yours, something which you NEVER preface your remarks with.

    As to why draw arbitrary lines between financial institutions, it is not even worth a comment from me. Your understanding of finance and money is elementary at best. Glass Spiegel Act was one of the biggest criminal acts ever perpetrated on the American public, save the FED itself.

    Bear-Stearns is not a bank, and you can take that to the bank Davey, as fact, not Pablo’s opinion, or Dave’s opinion which is not true.

  • “If the housing bubble isn’t bursting as Nalle pointed out why is Bernanke worried??”

    Is that the same Nalle who tried to tell us that Republicans haven’t started attacking Obama?

  • Mike, most of those are opinions or conjectures, not statements of fact. Do you actually know the difference?

    The only statement of fact is the last one, and the facts are well established. That you aren’t familiar with the basic history of this particular issue places all of your other claims in doubt.

    I shouldn’t have to provide sources for stuff which is common knowledge, but since you’re so reality challenged, here you go.

    Here’s an article from William Clark in 2003 in which he references the intent of Saddam to sell oil for Euros instead of dollars in 2000, which he cites as a primary secret motivation for the Iraq War. He provides links to sources and discusses the issue at length. As I’m sure you’re aware, Clark hates Bush as much as anyone and opposes the Iraq War. I imagine you’d find him credible.

    As for Iran’s intent to trade in Euros instead of dollars, here’s a reference to the plan from the Christian Science Monitor in 2005. The plan predates the article, and actually went into effect this year, so Iran is now in fact trading oil in Euros.

    These are facts, Mike. You can’t disagree with them and even if you try to spin them the facts themselves remain the same.

    Dave

  • Mike W

    Housing bubble not bursting…..assertion…and proved wrong

    Dollar will rebound in the next few months…..assertion…and proved wrong

    Gulf states threatened to come off dollar peg…assertion…no proof forthcoming from Nalle

    How did they make you editor in chief Nalle?

  • Mike W

    “established facts”…assertion..quote your sources.

  • As usual, you’re just wrong, Mike. One of the reasons the war conspiracy fanatics frequently give as an explanation for the Iraq War is that Saddam was considering selling his oil for Euros instead of Dollars, and that was actually 7 years ago. It was 5 years ago that the Iranians started making the same kind of murmurs. These are established facts, Mike. I know that’s something you’re uncomfortable with.

    Dave

  • Clavos

    You do realize there’s not a damn thing you can do about it, don’t you?

    It’s no longer even in American hands anymore.

    Welcome to the brave new world.

  • Mike W

    As Ruvy mentioned earlier,the class you serve and cater to are apparently recession proof…why don’t you let the rest of us sweat the so called small stuff?

  • Clavos

    Mike,

    You’ve got to learn not to sweat the small stuff!

    It’s not the end of the world or of mankind, only the of the USA and Americans – not a big deal!

    Nobody else in the world will even shed a tear for you guys…

  • Mike W

    Yet another assertion is that pricing in Euros will not affect American consumers….

    …””Money like oil is fungible resource. It wouldn’t cost the US purchasers a penny more to buy Euros and then use them to buy oil.”..Really Nalle!!…

    The shift to Euros represents a techtonic change in the fault lines of global power.Foreigners will no loner finance our deficit…we owe trillions to foreigners in the form of useless I.O.U’S …already we have seen that inflation caused by the weakening dollar is causing governments around the world to diversify their currency holdings.. Make no mistake..Americans will end up paying MORE ..almost double what they are paying for at the pump.We have already read about Truckers saying that the present gas prices are untenableTruckers Protest Record High Gas Prices

    Please tell the truckers that a shift to Euros will be good for them Nalle..

  • Mike W

    The Gulf States HAVEN’T been talking about coming off the dollar-peg for the past 5 YEARS..all that talk really started only since November 2007 when this credit crunch started and exacerbated the whole problem.Prince Al-Faisal has expressly said at one meeting that the oil producing countries shouldn’t be openly discussing the issue.”My feeling is that the mere mention that the Opec countries are studying the issue of the dollar is itself going to have an impact that endangers the interests of the countries. “There will be journalists who will seize on this point and we don’t want the dollar to collapse instead of doing something good for Opec.”Saudi minister warns of dollar collapse

    So then THERE YOU HAVE IT..where is the question of these governments openly discussing the dollar-peg for the PAST 5 YEARS???

    5 years…this is yet another assertion from Nalle.Can he come up with any sources for his assertion ?

    The despots running the show in the middle east there are only in power because they are backed by the U.S.The fact that there has been talk recently is itself significant because it indicates that the governments considers the threat of civil unrest as a consequence of high inflation of prime importance.

  • CS

    If the housing bubble isn’t bursting as Nalle pointed out why is Bernanke worried??

    Bernanke urges more action to stem home foreclosure crisis

  • What is your source for all those assertions Nalle?It would be helpful to know.

    The local grocery store. Where would you look for grocery prices?

    Gulf States May End Dollar Pegs, Kuwait Minister Says …Gulf States Creep Away From Plunging Dollar

    They’ve been talking about this for 5 years and have done nothing. It’s still just talk. And what functional difference would it make to anyone if they did switch to Euros? Money like oil is fungible resource. It wouldn’t cost the US purchasers a penny more to buy Euros and then use them to buy oil.

    Dave

  • Clavos

    I rest my case.

    In the end, the whole world will benefit.

  • Clavos

    Would it really be such a disaster if the US economy REALLY crashed (I mean totally)? The world economy is in need of a major adjustment, and this could be it.

    It’s time for the Chinese or Indians to dominate.

    Allow the poor to take over the wealth of the rich; that’s good, no?

  • Anand Menon

    Yes folks the dollar has appreciated SO MUCH that chinese exporters no longer want to invoice in dollars… that wouldn’t be helpful to know i guess Chinese exporters shun flagging US dollar in favour of stronger rivals

    OH yes!! …The dollar has appreciated SO MUCH that Gulf States are considering coming off the dollar-peg Gulf States May End Dollar Pegs, Kuwait Minister SaysGulf States Creep Away From Plunging Dollar

    that wouldn’t be helpful to know i guess

  • bliffle

    The Bush administration financial policies have been almost uniformly negative to the US economy. That’s what happens when ideology trumps knowledge.

  • Mike W

    What is your source for all those assertions Nalle?It would be helpful to know.

    An article,A rising euro threatens US dominance in the Financial Times, by Benn Steil, director of international economics at the Council on Foreign Relations, covers old and new ground in a discussion of the implications of a further decline in the dollar.

    His well reasoned analysis contains some pointed observations, for instance, that the dollar’s standing heretofore permitted it to have loose monetary policy without paying the usual consequences of capital flight and inflation, but no longer. Like a developing economy (ahem, banana republic), the more the Fed eases, the higher long term rates go.

    Steil enumerates the implications of what happens when the US falls into banana republic category, and they aren’t pretty. The “lender of the last resort” function breaks down in developing economies because investors withdraw funds from domestic accounts. Similarly, he raises the possibility that the US will have to issue foreign-currency-denominated debt. That is even more likely an outcome; the US briefly was forced to issue Deutchemark denominated bonds under Carter. Large scale non-dollar issuance would considerably constrain our formerly free-wheeling ways. He also notes a less widely noted cost: if the euro becomes more important, the US threat of sanctions as a tool of policy is neutered.

    Note that these troubling scenarios are presented in an anodyne tone, and the author reminds us the US does not need to go down this path. But all indicators say that it will.

    Maybe this link will also help?How to lie with statistics

  • Ruvy

    Apparently, the dollar has batted down the Swiss franc and Canadian dollar to less than parity status at 98¢ each,….

    I misquoted here. According to the Globes On-line chart I provided you, the Swiss franc is about 94½¢, not 98¢. It came from misreading the value of the Australian dollar as (about 93¢) as 98¢ and thinking that the Canadian currency was listed immediately underneath the Swiss currency, which it is not.

    A thousand apologies, gentlemen and ladies of the reading world out there.

  • Ruvy

    Ruvy, I hope you’ll forgive me if I suspect that your sources are as biased as you are.

    Dave, my sources are the prices I find at the supermarket near the Jerusalem Central Bus Station known as zol po (cheap here). I don’t shop there because the prices are so terribly cheap, but because it is easier to shlep the bags fifty meters to the Central Bus Station to get home to Ma’alé Levoná from there than several kilometers from a still cheaper supermarket in the Talpiot Industrial area near where I used to live.

    My other sources are the e-mails I get from the States. My father-in-law, who once said I needed to see a psychiatrist for wanting to move to Israel, recently sent me an e-mail praising my wisdom for selling our house in 2001 – in St. Paul, housing prices have gone down, and still haven’t recovered.

    As for monitoring currencies, I use this chart in Hebrew from Globes On-line . For those of you who are challenged in reading Hebrew, just take a magnifying glass to go to the right side of the chart to find the flag of the country you want to trace and follow the numbers as you go to the left. This currency chart is not different from others except that it runs from right to left in Hebrew. It gets updated several times an hour.

    Apparently, the dollar has batted down the Swiss franc and Canadian dollar to less than parity status at 98¢ each, and the euro to $1.54, but the pressure from the shekel remains. Last week, it was at NIS 3.48/$1 – now it is at NIS 3.46/$1.

    My point in quoting you these prices from zol po is to drive home the point that the shekel prices were the same for Barilla pasta and Tasters Choice coffee two years ago. In shekels, they have not risen at all! But other staples, like rice, milk and bread are exploding in price, responding to an artificial food shortage, and an equally artificial high price in crude. And this is not just occurring here but world wide, resulting in food riots in various parts of the world.

    I guess that the advice from your gated community is “let them eat cake”, eh, Dave?

  • Ruvy, I hope you’ll forgive me if I suspect that your sources are as biased as you are.

    My research shows Barilla still at $1.49 here and Tasters Choice at $8.79. A loaf of generic white bread is $.99 and rice is running about $1 per dry pound. That’s a serving of rice for maybe 15 cents.

    Tasters Choice is the only one which seems inflated and the rest of the prices seem pretty much what they were 6 months ago. Tortillas are up, though.

    Dave

  • Ruvy

    I also went to the article in the Bee. Obviously, a news story that doesn’t say what you want it to is “speculation”, Mr. Nalle.

    The e-mails I get from the States do not indicate anybody is having a rollicking good time. In fact, they tend to indicate the opposite….

    It is hard not to notice the rising price of rice – a staple in our home, or the rising price of bread.

    The dollar seems to have stabilized against the shekel at about NIS 3.50/$1, but there always seems to be a downward pressure on the dollar. The lower price of the dollar makes the higher price of everything around here just that much more obvious.

    A jar of Tasters Choice Coffee costs 30 shekels in J-lem – that used to be about $7.00, now it is closer to $9.00. The Barilla pasta that goes for NIS 6.50 used to cost $1.50. Now it is closer to $2.00.

    Reading about the same kinds of things in the States gives one little comfort indeed.

  • I hate to admit that I actually followed one of Anand’s links. That article from the Sacramento Bee is one of the biggest piles of speculation, overdramatization and anecdotal BS I’ve seen in quite a while. Not putting it on the editorial page is a sad commentary ont he state of journalism in America today.

    Dave

  • Clavos

    Probably not, Dave.

    And, while you’re at it, you probably shouldn’t mention that the unemployment rate actually improved 5% in April, either.

  • I guess I shouldn’t mention that the Dollar is now in its 8th month of gains against the British Pound and Canadian Dollar and in its second month of gains against the Euro and the Yen and the Swiss Franc. That wouldn’t be helpful to know, I guess.

    Dave

  • Anand Menon

    Time to take stock…See Comment#25 from Dave Nalle…”… The dollar has been deliberately deflated as part of an economic strategy which thus far seems to have been pretty successful….As for the ‘housing bubble’, it’s not bursting.Every expert seems to agree that the adjustments are short-term, and the impact of artifically low interest rates wore off quite a while ago. You can bleat about economic doom and gloom all you want, but the evidence just isn’t there to support it, so long as the deficits continue to go down at an accelerated rate and the value of the dollar starts to rebound correspondingly as we ought to see in the next few months.”
    Next few months he says folks…..please observe the patronising tone from our know-all editor folks…those comments were made On May 7 2007 ..its almost a year now ..we are no where near the bottom as far as the dollar is concerned….how many more months does Nalle want?…what does he mean by ‘few months”?…12 months?…18 months?…24 months?..in the meantime this is what is happenning in the real world..Americans unload prized belongings to make ends meet
    and the dollar rebounding???..really????Dollar Reserve Status Is Tale of Fading Glory

  • Clavos

    Thank you, Mike.

    Just trying to enhance your credibility.

  • Mike

    #273 is a pathetic attempt to show that all is well with the system.The author of that piece James Cramer completely lacks any sort of credibility….it would well do to read some of the comments from Cramer’s regular readers.They are not taken in by the nonsense he is spouting and are trashing him….

    Here’s a sample…
    “The thing Cramer does not seem to grasp is that he is allowed his pulpit not because of his valuable insights on finance and the markets but, yes yes, for the entertainment value of his disjointed utterings. In the old days it used to be called Clown…”

    “hey did anyone see the total smackdown jon stewart gave him on the daily show for his bear sterns call-great stuff!”

    “Isn’t this the same moron who advised people to hold their Bear Stearns stock last Friday at $130? Now he’s some kind of oracle again…. Jesus Christ….”

    “Not sure if Jim Cramer has any credibility at all….”

    Nice try Clavos

  • Clavos

    Mike et alia:

    Another viewpoint…

  • bliffle

    CEOs collect big bonuses on the Cost Reduction Incentives section of their contracts when they reduce worker payroll. That’s why we see CEO pay go up while workers are fired and wages cut.

    They don’t care about the company’s future.

  • Mike

    Ruvy…we got your point…its about a 20% appreciation in a year..and your central bank tried to intervene….no wonder you have inflation…Ouch.

    Troll…anytime…we’d like you to join in more often:)

    Bliffle..very good point..The average CEO from a Fortune 500 company now makes 364 times an average worker’s pay, reports the Institute of Policy Studies. This is up from a 40-to-1 ratio in 1980.

    And they’re getting rich despite the huge losses being wracked up on Wall Street. Bonuses for those toiling on Wall Street totaled $33.2 billion in 2007, down just 2 percent, according to New York state comptroller’s office. Overall compensation and benefits at seven of the Street’s biggest firms totaled $122 billion, up 10 percent since 2006 — even though net overall revenue for these firms fell 6 percent.

    But even the traditional investment banks can’t match the outrageous compensation captured by private equity and hedge fund managers, a few of whom manage to pull in more than $1 billion in a single year. Thanks to a tax loophole, these characters pay income tax at a rate less than half of what a dentist making $200,000 a year pays.

    High CEO pay is often defended as the just reward for outstanding performance, but the report shows that this correlation is a myth. .Countrywide lost $1.6 billion, Merrill Lynch lost $10.3 billion and Citigroup lost $9.8 billion.When Stanley O’Neal left Merrill Lynch in October 2007, he was given a retirement package worth $161 million.Citigroup ousted Prince in November, but he still took home a $10 million bonus, $28 million in unvested stock options and $1.5 million in yearly perks. Mozilo, who remains at Countrywide’s helm while the firm’s merger with Bank of America is pending, has been granted $120 million in retirement compensation.

    Not only is executive pay going through the roof, but it is also linked to the decline in the fortunes of workers. Far from the rising tide of executive pay lifting all boats, wage costs are being pushed down to foot the bill for CEO compensation and perks. Despite an increase this year to $5.85 per hour, the real value of the minimum wage has declined 7% over the past decade and real wages have risen only a little over the same period. During this time, executive pay has soared by 450%.

  • bliffle

    Some might wonder why top execs, at Bear Sterns for example, pursue investment strategies that hold such peril for their own companies. The answer is that the execs payouts are not tied to the success of the company. They write their own contracts and will win no matter what happens as long as gross changes occur in the companies fortunes. Yes, if the company prospers they will benefit, but if the company fails they will not suffer.

    We would all understand this, as investors, if we really had a view into boardroom shenanigans, which we do not. Few investors appreciate the adversary relationship that exists between a company and it’s CEO.

    It is the de-coupling of executive personal fortune from company fortune that has driven the widespread mismanagement of USA business for the past 30 years.

  • troll

    (thanks for the link Mike)

  • bliffle

    “Mike, why draw an arbitrary line between banks and other financial institutons? ”

    Illustrates Nalles ignorance of basic financial institutions. In case anyone had doubts.

  • Market Cycle. There’s a bright spot in that, if you can manage it, a crash on the market makes it easy to get in with small, and if you can hold on to it, get decent returns when it finally DOES recover.

    Cannonshop, try going back to 1933, and explaining that to someone burning his furniture to heat his home because he hasn’t got a quarter to put in the gas meter. The closest folks came to “decent returns” in those days was playing with monopoly money and landing on FREE PARKING.

    Historically, the Israeli currency always went down against the dollar, no matter what the market cycle. In the early part of this decade, the shekel nearly went from 4/$1 down to 5/$1 before stabilizing at around 4.7 to the dollar for several years. Around two years ago, a change started to occur – slowly – where the shekel rose against the dollar.

    The last time the shekel was at the rates we see now was April, 1997. A year ago, it was hovering at 4.1-4.2/$1, and now it is at 3.38/$1. All this had nothing to do with “market cycle”. It had to do with the slow deterioration of the dollar based on the fact that American bankruptcy has been slowly dawning on its creditors. You can go to this chart to get historical data on the shekel if you want. Just press the month and year and hit “go”.

    Have fun!

  • Cannonshop

    Market Cycle. There’s a bright spot in that, if you can manage it, a crash on the market makes it easy to get in with small, and if you can hold on to it, get decent returns when it finally DOES recover.

  • Mike

    Ruvy,….one of the reason why you see a marked rise in food prices is because there has been a flight of capital from equities to commodities including food.This will continue until we have a major correction in those markets…

    i too beleived at some point that we would be hit by stagflation …that is inflation coupled with stagnant economy…however I have revised my point of view to what most economists hold today …that is that the deflationary aspects will take over as supply far outstrips demand.We are going through a short and painful period of stagflation and then we would get into the deflationary phase once the recession is in full swing….simply because there would be fewer buyers…..in 2008 cash is king.

  • A final thought (for now) on the rise of the shekel and the decline of the dollar. The next psychological line in my eyes for the shekel to reach, if it continues its rise, is NIS 3.333; at that point the shekel will be worth thirty cents a piece, and will be at a point it was over 13 years ago relative to the dollar. I do not think it will reach this line quickly – if it does, then events will be truly moving faster than I have foreseen….

    Price rises in food have been predicted here by Osem Foods. After PessaH, it expects its own prices to rise by an average of 10% – the rising price of grain and cooking oil being the main drivers in the equation. This means that Israelis will probably buy less refined food (which is Osem’s main product), more bread makers, more flour and more basic products to make their own foods.

    All these things (the rise in prices, the rise in the value of the economy here, the government that purposely violates the Torah, the “generation with the face of a dog”), are signs, according to our sages, that messianic redemption is near. Note, I’m not predicting this redemption, I’m reading off the signs for you. Ignore them if you wish. Scoff at all this if you wish. You do so at your own peril.

  • This article in English from Globes On-line gives a very brief overview of the continued fall of the dollar against the shekel, and perhaps more tellingly, against the euro.

    As we approach noon here in Israel (11:13 in the morning), the dollar has now dropped to NIS 3.382. I think that Wall Street markets open up about 16:00 our time, and it should be interesting if anybody here decides to be the “rag-sheeny” picking up the falling dollar, the way “rag-sheenies”, Jewish rag buyers, used to buy up other people’s trash in the early 20th Century.

  • Dave,

    My “honestly crazy” (thank you for realizing I’m being honest) point of view is backed up by the facts. Let’s give you a couple of links to chew on.

    According to a currency chart from Globes On-Line at the moment, (10:00 Jerusalem Time) the dollar has slipped below NIS 3.40 at NIS 3.3915, is worth less than the Swiss franc, and the Canadian dollar. In spite of the efforts of Stan Fisher to prop the dollar, it has fallen anyway. Anyway, you can check through the day if you wish hitting reload to get accurate figures.

    This news analysis from Arutz Sheva speaks for itself – in English.

    Where to go? What to use as a hedge against all currency risk?

    Like I said earlier. To hedge against currency collapse, buy gold coins. If you haven’t got the guts for that, buy Swiss francs.

  • Mike

    Bear Sterns is a securities firm ,a brokerage,a primary dealer, a non-bank financial institution…if it was a bank it would have had access to Fed Funds …direct….

    Bear Sterns has a lot of powerful friends…powerful enough that Bernanke and the four Fed governors voted to become creditors to Bear Stearns Cos., a securities firm that isn’t a bank..The Telegraph notes…”It was not an easy decision: not since the 1960s had the US central bank authorised the provision of funds to institutions other than a regulated depository bank. Bear Stearns, a brokerage, was not one.”….

    note that everybody?….BearSterns is NOT a regulated depository bank…..Nalle doesn’t know the difference…or he simply ignores it…thats his grasp of finance.

    Traditionally regulators have helped commercial banks in financial panics, but not investment banks, which do not hold customer deposits. But the 1999 repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, the Depression-era law that separated investment banks and commercial banks, led to consolidation within the financial industry that has made such distinctions harder to make.

    “I don’t remember a Fed action aimed at a noncommercial bank; this is the kind of thing you see in this post-regulatory environment,” said Charles Geisst, a Wall Street historian at Manhattan College.

    non-banks institutions don’t have access – based on the Federal Reserve Act – to the lender of last resort support of the Fed unless a very special and unusual procedure and vote is taken.

  • Mike

    Adrian Ash wrote an article on the 13th of this month which goes against the grain of mainstream thought that we should be bailing out the big boys..He quotes from a World Bank report by Patrick Honohan and Daniela Klingebiel….remember this is a World Bank report …not something picked up from a left wing nutter-blog

    “we find no evidence that accommodating policies reduce fiscal costs.” That’s exactly how two senior economists at the World Bank put it in a 2002 report. They’d just finishing studying 30 years of systemic banking crises across 94 countries. Near misses – so-called “borderline crises” – hit 44 nations.

    And on average, the World Bank economists found, “governments spent an average of nearly 13% of GDP cleaning up their financial systems” as a result of the bail-out programs they tried to implement.

    “Indeed, each of the accommodating measures examined,” they continued – citing “open-ended liquidity support, blanket deposit guarantees, regulatory forbearance, repeated (and thus initially inadequate or partial) recapitalizations, and debtor bail-out schemes – appears to significantly increase the costs of banking crises.”

    given the current collapse of real estate markets, banking models, hedge fund credit lines and short-term liquidity the world over since last August – back when Gold Bullion traded one-third below today’s current price – who in their right mind would bother to read a study of 113 truly system-wide banking crises in 93 countries between 1970 and the year 2000…?

    No one running monetary or fiscal policy in the G7 group of top economies, that’s for sure!

    “If the countries in our sample had not pursued any such [supportive or bail-out] policies, fiscal costs [borne in the end by the tax payer] would have averaged about 1% of GDP – little more than one-tenth of what was actually spent,” write Patrick Honohan and Daniela Klingebiel in their report, published in Jan. 2002.

    What’s more, trying to bail out or support failing banks did nothing to reduce the economic drag that followed, according to Honohan and Klingebiel’s analysis. The so-called “output dip” never responded to government meddling – not unless the central bank stepped in to ease liquidity problems at crisis-hit banks with unlimited cheap loans.

    That kind of support – the support first given to Northern Rock as it started to belly-up in Sept. last year, just before the UK government issued a blanket promise to settle all banking deposits – is only one step removed from the market-wide support now being offered to New York brokers today. Yet it “actually appears to have prolonged crises,” write the two World Bank bean-counters, “because recovery took longer” following liquidity loans to effectively insolvent banks.

    In other words, the only sure way of prolonging a financial crisis is to try and delay it. Say, by putting tax-payers “on risk” with $200 billion in mortgage-backed loans.

    “Things could have been worse,” the World Bank goes on. If every country hit by a systemic banking crisis during the 30 years to 2000 had piled in with liquidity support (like the G7 central banks are offering today) or blanket depositor guarantees (as the UK government did with Northern Rock), the final bill of trying to clear up the mess early would have risen sharply.

    Throw in regulatory forbearance – letting “zombie” banks continue their operations, even though they’re technically bust – plus repeated recapitalizations and debtor bail-outs, and “fiscal costs would have reached more than 60% of GDP.”

    Nasty rumors about “living dead” bank stocks keep whacking the broader markets in the City, Tokyo, Frankfurt, La Defense and on Wall Street right now. And so far, tax payers aren’t on the hook for recapitalizations; UBS and Citigroup have gone to Asian and petro-wealth funds for that. Ben Bernanke has so far only demanded that subprime lenders write off the value of outstanding loans, rather than calling on Congress to issue the checks direct.

    But if the authorities sat on their hands during this crisis, the fiscal cost might equal one per cent of GDP, the World Bank report suggests. Donning a cape, tights and mask instead – and pretending they can unwind the mal-investments caused by record low-interest rates from the Fed after the Tech Stock Bubble burst – the cost may rise 60 times over.

    That’s more than a 98% saving, if only the G7 authorities would sit back and let the failed banks fail.

    “Fiscal outlays are not the only economic costs of bank collapses,” note Honohan and Klingebiel. “The losses covered [by tax-payers] – which are caused by bad loan decisions – reflect wasted investible resources. Furthermore, a government’s assumption of large, unforeseen bailout costs can destabilize fiscal accounts, triggering high inflation and a currency collapse – costly in themselves – as well as adding to the deadweight cost of taxation.”

    High inflation and a currency collapse, you say? As a rule, smarter investors spotting this trouble in good time can switch into hard currency to hedge their domestic inflation risk.

    But today’s systemic banking crisis crosses all developed economies…from North America to Japan and Australia onto Europe and the United Kingdom. So unlike the Asian Crisis of 1997, you can’t flee the Thai Baht by hedging with Dollars today. Nor can you flee the Hungarian Forint for the safety of French Francs or Deutschemarks as you could when 25% of Budapest’s banking assets were caught in a mass bank failure in 1993.

    Where to go? What to use as a hedge against all currency risk?

  • Mike, why draw an arbitrary line between banks and other financial institutons? Plus Bear-Stearns IS a bank, among other things, so in this case that division doesn’t even apply.

    You also totally mischaracterize what is going on here as being something other than a government facilitated buyout of a failing bank. That’s all we’re seeing and you’re trying to blow it up into something entirely different when it just isn’t.

    The precedents for this kind of action by the federal government are longstanding, and while we’d all probably rather not have the government in the financial bailout business, the inevitability of it is hard to deny.

    As for Ruvy’s comment, he seems to have completely misunderstood the current situation by trying to cram it into his apocalyptic world view. But at least his reasons for trying to misconstrue what’s going on are honestly crazy rather than more sinister as I think Mike’s are.

    Dave

  • Dave,

    If you read the pieces Mike sets forth, you realize that your sarcastic solution – stripping everybody of their wealth – appears to be in the cards, once the consequences of trying to be the final arbiter of a bankrupt economy sink in. Except that folks will be lucky to have homes at all. Eventually, the whole rotten structure comes tumbling down, and that is what appears to be happening.

    And when it does, the dollar goes down the toilet. This is not a “cyclical business event” – it is the beginning of a meltdown.

  • Mike

    In capitalism’s extreme crisis Bernanke, acting beyond his mandate, invokes a law that hasn’t been used since the 1960s so the Fed can become the creditor for an institution that attempted to enrich itself through wild speculative bets on dubious toxic investments which are now utterly worthless.

    The Bear Stearns bailout has ignited a firestorm of controversy about moral hazard and whether the Fed should be in the business of spreading its largess to profligate investment banks.

    The New York Times summed it up like this in Saturday’s edition:”If the Fed hadn’t acted this morning and Bear did default on its obligations, then that could have triggered a widespread panic and potentially a collapse of the financial system”.

    Pam Martens writes..”..”if you’re a Wall Street miscreant you’re thrown a lifeline; if you’re a Wall Street crime fighter you’re thrown a land mine.While mainstream media called the Bear Stearns bailout the first brokerage bailout since the Great Depression, in truth it was the second in seven months.

    The first brokerage bailout came without all the media fanfare because it arrived not on the wings of a public announcement but in five pages of indecipherable Fed jargon addressed to the General Counsel of Citigroup.

    Here is the effective message sent by the Federal Reserve to Citigroup in its letter of August 20, 2007: now that we have allowed you to become both too big to fail and too big to bail by repealing the depression era investor-protection law known as the Glass-Steagall Act at your mere beckoning, we have to bend more rules to keep you afloat. So, for example, the rule that says the Federal Reserve is not allowed to lend to brokerages, just banks, from its discount window can be tweaked for you by lending up to $25 billion to you and then we’ll let you lend it to your brokerage arm. The Federal Reserve Act rule that says a bank can’t loan more than 10% of its capital stock and surplus to its brokerage affiliate, we’ll let you go as high as about 30% and say it’s in the public interest.

    By giving Citigroup an exemption from Rule 23A of the Federal Reserve Act, by allowing it to funnel up to $25 Billion from the Fed’s discount window to its brokerage clients who were getting hit with margin calls, the Federal Reserve and Chairman Ben Bernanke telegraphed an incredibly dangerous message to global markets: we’re just as unaccountable as Wall Street…”

    The Federal Reserve as enabler under Alan Greenspan created today’s problem and today’s Crony Fed under Ben Bernanke is killing off what’s left of U.S. financial credibility.

    …and Now…the Federal Reserve is taking the breathtaking step of making direct loans to all brokerage firms which are primary dealers for Treasury securities!!!

  • The Bear-Stearns deal is a lot more like the S&L bailouts of the 1980s, where the government financiallly backed up banks that bought out other failing banks. Each of those deals was on a smaller scale than Bear-Stearns, but together they certainly added up to a lot more.

    As for Bear-Stearns, it did itself in. The colossal level of their overextension into high risk hedge funds is so irresponsible that it’s mind-boggling. The current deal which will ultimately salvage something for their investors at what will basically be no cost to the public is nothing like nationalization. It’s a straight buyout by another private company with the only difference being that about 12% of the financing for the buyout is backed by the government rather than private banks in a form which will ultimately be paid off and not be a permanent minority ownership position for the government. It’s actually more like a federal loan guarantee.

    Dave

  • bliffle

    I believe that Bear Sterns is not really nationalized, rather, that the buyout by Morgan is coppered by the Fed. The result is that the USA taxpayer stands to lose whatever the Bear/Morgan combine loses, but to gain nothing. that’s a terrible deal. Would you do it?

    It fits in with the modern Big Business motto: “Privatize the profit and socialize the risk”.

  • Mike

    Les thanks for those comments…i mentioned quasi nationalisation simply because its a state subsidised rescue too

  • Mike

    More than what we ought to do …heres someone who feels strongly about what we ought NOT to do..The Financial Tsunami Part IV:
    Asset Securitization – The Last Tango

    and troll…about how many trillions would go into deleveraging….for that we’d have to put a tentative cost to the whole subprime mess….and since the Fed has very clearly given signals that it intends to bail out the big boys the tax payers will end up footing the bill…so how much is the cost?…between 1 and 2.7 trillion or between 7 to 19% of GDP! says Nouriel Roubini…The Staggering Fiscal Costs of Bailing Out a Financial System in Crisis ….REGISTER TO READ THE WHOLE ARTICLE…ITS FREE

  • Les Slater

    Mike,

    Bear hasn’t just been bailed out; it’s been nationalized. This is something new.

    Bear was desperately seeking a buyer, even at a fire sale price, but could not find one. Morgan considered it but would not do it without help from the Fed. The Fed fronted the capital for JP to buy Bear but Bear belonged to Chase in name only. Part of the deal is that the Fed maintains rights to exercise control over all major decisions regarding Bear’s portfolio. Hence Chase only owns the shell; the Fed owns the assets. It’s been NATIONALIZED.

    Les

  • Mike

    Northern Rock In England has already been nationalised.India has a long list of nationalised banks doing pretty well.The requirement of the day is better laws and better regulation….but then the “free-marketers” don’t want that …the name of the game is ….as is happening right now privatisation of profit during the good times and socialisation of losses during the bad.

  • Mike

    A history lesson

    In August 1979, Paul Volker was appointed as Chairman of the Federal Reserve by Jimmy Carter… He faced double-digit inflation and a country struggling through a decade-long malaise…. Showing unusual political courage, Volker took bold action to limit the money supply, jack up interest rates, and promptly threw the country into a recession. …He faced the strongest protests and political attacks against the Fed since the early 1920’s…. Volker’s stern medicine brought inflation down from nearly 14% in 1981 to 3% by 1983…. The recession also contributed to some of the highest unemployment rates since the Depression.

    The point of this history lesson is that it took strength and courage to not pander to politicians, Wall Street, and every special interest group damaged by higher interest rates…. The fact that Volker could take this action says even more about the 1970’s than individual courage…. The country had suffered for most of the decade from growing inflation and the aftermath of the Vietnam War. …It was ready for change, even if the medicine was painful.

    The contrast today could not be more stark. The Federal Reserve, under intense political pressure, has chosen to bail out the banking system, and hopefully, the economy, while worrying about inflation and the imploding dollar in future years…. The fact that the US has not had a serious recession in over 25 years is not necessarily wonderful news. There has been very little market rebalancing and creative destruction from poor economic decisions….. The decades of bubbles, excesses and misallocation of resources created by the Fed’s unlimited fiat money printing have led us to this spot between a giant rock and a very hard place.

  • Mike

    Les is right…a quasi nationalisation of Bear Sterns has already taken place.Bear has been bailed out using tax payers money.

  • troll

    …let’s start a pool: the bet is on how many billions (trillions) in puplic money will go into de-leveraging over the next couple of years

  • Les Slater

    Dave,

    I was talking about something already happening, right here in capitalist America.

    Les

  • A solution? How about nationalizing the banks?

    Ooh, there’s an idea. And let’s take away all private income and savings too! Then we can seize all private property and put it on a long-term lease from the government. And let’s make sure everyone dresses the same and lives in apartments of identical square footage too!

    Sounds great.

    Dave

  • Clavos

    “Funny, I thought the most inept and corrupt were already running the banks”

    No, the government is only just now stepping in.

    Now we get to see how the people who handled the response to Katrina and the wars in Iraq and Vietnam screw it up.

    We ain’t seen nuthin’ yet…

  • bliffle

    Funny, I thought the most inept and corrupt were already running the banks.

    They’re too inept to do a good job, and so corrupt that they have to bribe the government to bail them out.

  • Les Slater

    Clavos and Ruvy,

    I was hoping someone would respond. I do think nationalizing the banks would be a good thing but that’s not what I was talking about. The reality is this is what is now beginning to happen. Bear Stearns has been NATIONALIZED. It happened between yesterday and this morning.

    Les

  • In the meantime, Les, see if you can write a hip-hop version of The Internationale. With the money you make, buy gold coins and a troy scale…..

  • Les, if you want to nationalize the banks, you gotta wait until AFTER the revolution – then you can hoist the workers flag and sing, “Workers of the world, unite! All we have to lose is our chains!”

    Until the revolution, when we all will HAVE to like peaches and cream, you don’t want the banks in the hands of the government….

  • Clavos

    “A solution? How about nationalizing the banks?”

    Yeah, that’s always a good one. Let the most inept and corrupt organization in the country run them.

    Sigh.

  • Les Slater

    A solution? How about nationalizing the banks?

  • bliffle

    “But still…no solution.”

    there’s no one solution. But if you really thought about it you would see that there are several solutions that every one of us must undertake and teach our children:

    -abandon failed experiments. Like the Iraq invasion.

    -don’t rationalize the irrational. Stop trying to prop up failed policies.

    –don’t be lazy. Stop acceppting simplemeinded notions like communism and ‘free markets’. Both are demonstrated failures. You have to work harder, think harder, and be more honest.

    -don’t put idiots in positions of power that demand good judgement. Just look at the messes naifs like Bush have caused.

    -don’t be distracted by trivia. Look at all the people fooled into voting for bogus candidates over trivial issues, like gay marriage, birth control, etc.

  • troll

    …despite the highly publicized growth in the gap between rich and poor – which has been growing slightly for the last 5 years or so – historically the wealthy control substantially LESS of the nation’s assets than they did in the past.

    since we’re in a battle of un-sourced fact here’s some historical perspective:

    the gap has been growing steadily since WWII and is presently greater than at any time since pre WWI

  • Mike

    …and you pulled that” dollar rebound” and ” no recession” from your ass right Nalle?

  • troll

    ‘root for a second depression’…’nihilistic propaganda’ – ?

    what are you talking about

  • about 1% of the population of the US controls 80% of all the stock and money on the market.

    I’d say this says all there is to say about Mike’s ability to actually analyze anything or even get basic facts straight.

    Which top 1% are you talking about? The top 1% in income? They earn only about 20% of the total income in the nation. Or perhaps you mean the top 1% in total assets? They control about 34.4% of the nation’s assets. Less if you count in home ownership.

    So you just pulled that 80% figure out of your ass, right?

    And BTW, despite the highly publicized growth in the gap between rich and poor – which has been growing slightly for the last 5 years or so – historically the wealthy control substantially LESS of the nation’s assets than they did in the past.

    Dave

  • Mike

    a lot of the readers don’t think its propaganda..I kind of like getting under the skin of guys like you..thats all;)

  • Clavos

    By your own numbers, Mike, virtually everyone who reads this “rag,” as you call it, is powerless to do anything about that which you are propagandizing.

    And, if BC is such a powerless and non-influential “rag,” why do you deign to favor us with your nihilistic propaganda?

    Why are you wasting your time and effort (and BC’s bandwidth)?

  • Mike

    about 1% of the population of the US controls 80% of all the stock and money on the market.They are the real movers and shakers.They are NOT getting their news from Mike on Blogcritics….or from Nalle or you Clavos…they KNOW the actual situation on the ground and its not very nice…so when you say”he IS posting serve no purpose other than to frighten people powerless to do anything about the situation”…you are rather overestimating the power and influence of this rag.

  • At this stage Clavos we don’t know if it will be as bad as 1929.

    But we can still root for a second depression, right Mike?

    Dave

  • Clavos

    “Mike is the only one on BC who is looking at the facts that are important.”

    But still…no solution.

    The long litany of horrors he IS posting serve no purpose other than to frighten people powerless to do anything about the situation.

    And I still contend that is precisely his and other doom-and-gloom posters real intent.

    Economic crises are as much about confidence (and the loss thereof) as they are about the actual numbers.

    As to the possible loss of dollar hegemony and consequent loss of US world power; that can be seen as a GOOD outcome. We are not a people comfortable with hegemony, as the last 50 years of our history has shown. We don’t handle leadership well; most of the rest of the world is pissed off at us, they see us as mishandling the world’s problems, so we are better off relinquishing that role.

    Being the world’s economic and political leader has been costly for us; if we no longer have that power we are relieved of the responsibility of spending our resources on the rest of the world and can then concentrate them here at home.

    For those who are anti immigration: no longer being the world’s economic leader will eliminate our attractiveness to the world’s disadvantaged and they will probably stop coming.

    I vote for Australia to be the next world leader; let them take it on, they have more balls than we do; they’re better suited for the role.

  • bliffle

    Mike is the only one on BC who is looking at the facts that are important.

    We have $500trillion in extrinsic paper assets riding on $45triliion of intrinsic real assets in the USA. That’s a 9% margin rate, similar to what we had just before the 1929 collapse, the ensuing years of poverty, 25% employment, breadlines, and an economy that was only rescued by FDRs regimentation of manufacturing for war purposes. Even with that it took 20 years just to get started out of the Depression caused by irresponsible financial manipulations. Think we can do any better next time? We aren’t even trying to do things right.

  • Mike

    At this stage Clavos we don’t know if it will be as bad as 1929.It will be bad if the Fed tries to transfer the losses onto the tax payer through the back door as it is doing now.The most pessimisitic of the economists Nouriel Roubini feels we are in for a hard landing and a long and protracted deep recession.He’s mentioned that the previous dot com bubble resulted in a recession that lasted only two quarters.This bubble has had 6 years to build and burst and hence we are looking at atleast…he mentions that….atleast… 8 quarters….which is 2 years.

    Its not an Armageddon situation.But there is no denying there will be pain …lots of it.

    The falling dollar presents the problem of oil exporting countries with their currencies pegged to the dollar of importing inflation into their economies.Faced with this there is a very real chance that they could come off the dollr peg.This would mark a techtonic shift in world power as it would essentially signal the end of dollar hegemony and by extension US world power.All because of a credit crunch.

  • I’m actually with troll here. I think the NBER’s definition is far more comprehensive and meaningful than the more common definition. I think that a broader definition of recession does make some sense.

    But what’s also built into the NBER definition is an awareness that recessions are part of the natural economic cycle, that essentiallly as soon as you pass a peak a recession starts and then lasts until you hit a trough and head up to the next peak.

    Under that definition you can have very brief micro-recessions or larger more intense recessions.

    But looking at the historical record, most of our recessions seem to last for 18 months or less. The worst recession since the depression was the post-Clinton recession in gross numbers. The Ford-Carter recession was the worst as a percentage of GDP. Compared to both of those the current recession is much less intense. It looks like it’s about half-way through and is going to be about 2/3 as bad as the Clinton recession and half as bad as the Ford-Carter recession, based on the rate of decline and depth of decline over time.

    Best guess is that it will start to turn around in the next 6 months and we’ll be out of recession sometime in 2009. A very nice break for the next president who will get credit for economic developments he has no actual role in, just as Bush got blamed for the Clinton recession.

    Dave

  • Just to correct the economic historian on the list.

    Roosevelt’s action raising the price of the ounce of gold against the dollar and pulling gold coins out of circulation was referred to as “going off the gold standard”.

    In reality, the United States remained on the gold standard, redeeming dollars for gold, until the French nearly cleaned out Fort Knox over thirty years ago by redeeming euro-dollars and Nixon finally de-linked the dollar from the price of gold.

    You need to read more closely, Ruvy. What Roosevelt did was to take the US off the gold standard while keeping the gold reserve. The key element of that being that he printed more paper money than could be backed by the gold reserve – about twice as much, and later presidents followed suit. The net result was a radical devaluation of the dollar.

    Dave

  • Clavos

    OK, Mike.

    Your multitude of links to other people’s writings have proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the US economy is moribund, and will likely result in a crash even worse than 1929’s.

    So what do you propose be done about it?

    Do you have a solution?

    I’m still waiting to hear.

  • Mike

    Bear Sterns has had to be bailed out by the Fed.

    What are the consequences of a world in which regulators rescue even the financial institutions whose recklessness and greed helped create the titanic credit mess we are in? Will the consequences be an even weaker currency, rampant inflation, a continuation of the slow bleed that we have witnessed at banks and brokerage firms for the past year?

    The Fed is still trying to convince markets that the financial system is merely experiencing “liquidity” problems. But if liquidity were the only issue, all the pumping the Fed and other central banks have been doing already should have cleared up this problem.

    The problem isn’t one of liquidity. It’s one of solvency: loans banks made (especially through the derivatives market) are worth less now than when they made the loans. Because they made way (100 ways) too many of them, banks in general have no capital left. You can’t make loans if you don’t have capital.

    So the Fed has to give the banks capital. This latest scheme is extremely troubling, especially for the already-battered dollar. The Fed is taking on “AAA mortgages” from the banks in exchange for Treasury Bills to give banks the capital. Of course we don’t know the price they are taking on these mortgages at and that is the crux of the matter. Everything is price.

    So now the Fed has mortgages on its balance sheet instead of T-bills. Why is this so troubling? It is a slippery slope to more currency debasement.

    Let’s say the mortgages continue to deteriorate in price (which is highly likely given the nature of our rating system to make them AAA) and then the banks are in no shape to take them back. If the Fed is stuck with declining assets it too will have a capital problem. But if the Fed loses capital it won’t go bankrupt like a regular company: It will just print the money to make up the difference. Literally.

    If the Fed loses $50 billion, it can physically print (tell the Treasury to print) the currency to make up this difference. If there currently is $700 billion of physical currency in circulation, printing $50 billion new money would immediately devalue the dollar by 7%.

    If the Fed takes on riskier and riskier loans, it becomes more and more negative for the dollar. A collapse in the dollar is a de-facto bankruptcy by the Federal Reserve and the U.S. in general.

    This is what Wall Street and finally our economy is looking at

  • Clavos

    “my suggestion – learn a skill that owners find indispensable”

    Agreed. One such is selling them their toys, which I’ve been doing for years.

    The “owners” as you call them, are not affected by the economic ups and downs; at most, they represent a slight “bump in the road” to them.

    Sales of boats valued at <$500K started slumping a year ago. Those above that level, and especially $1M and above are actually accelerating, particularly with European buyers. The deal I'm working on now involves a Russian buyer, Hungarian seller, and the boat is located in Croatia.

  • Mike

    i think troll gave us your answer Nalle.

  • troll

    (…the more arcane and difficult the better)

  • troll

    Clavos asks what one can do about the recession…Ruvy says buy gold

    my suggestion – learn a skill that owners find indispensable

  • troll

    …I’m not sure why our rationalists/realists cling so desperately to their definition of recession – here’s how the NBER puts it (apologies for the lengthy quote):

    “A recession is a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months, normally visible in real GDP, real income, employment, industrial production, and wholesale-retail sales. A recession begins just after the economy reaches a peak of activity and ends as the economy reaches its trough. Between trough and peak, the economy is in an expansion.”

    and:

    “Q: The financial press often states the definition of a recession as two consecutive quarters of decline in real GDP. How does that relate to the NBER’s recession dating procedure?

    A:: Most of the recessions identified by our procedures do consist of two or more quarters of declining real GDP, but not all of them. According to current data for 2001, the present recession falls into the general pattern, with three consecutive quarters of decline. Our procedure differs from the two-quarter rule in a number of ways. First, we consider the depth as well as the duration of the decline in economic activity. Recall that our definition includes the phrase, “a significant decline in economic activity.” Second, we use a broader array of indicators than just real GDP. One reason for this is that the GDP data are subject to considerable revision. Third, we use monthly indicators to arrive at a monthly chronology.

    Q:Could you give an example illustrating this point?

    A:On July 31, 2002, the Bureau of Economic Analysis released revised figures for gross domestic product that showed three quarters of negative growth in 2001-quarters 1, 2 and 3-where previously the data had shown only quarter 3 as negative. This revision shows why the committee does not rely on a simple rule of thumb such as two consecutive quarters of negative growth, nor relies on GDP data alone, in making its determinations, but rather looks at a broader array of statistics. In November 2001, the committee determined the date of the peak in activity in March 2001 using its normal indicators. The two-quarter-decline rule of thumb would not have allowed the declaration of the recession until August 2002, let alone a declaration that it had begun early in 2001, as in the statement that the committee made in November 2001. It was not until eight months later that revisions in the GDP data showed declining real GDP for the first, second, and third quarters of 2001.

    Q: Isn’t a recession a period of diminished economic activity?

    A: It’s more accurate to say that a recession-the way we use the word-is a period of diminishing activity rather than diminished activity. We identify a month when the economy reached a peak of activity and a later month when the economy reached a trough. The time in between is a recession, a period when the economy is contracting. The following period is an expansion. Economic activity is below normal or diminished for some part of the recession and for some part of the following expansion as well. Some call the period of diminished activity a slump.”

    (I haven’t read all of the comments and don’t know that this hasn’t been pointed to before)

  • I’ll add a couple more points, speaking both as a historian/political scientist, and as a coin collector.

    A “coin” is a piece of metal with intrinsic value closely matching the value stamped on the metal – to wit:

    a silver half dollar, half dime, dime, quarter, franc, reichsmark, shilling, etc.;

    a “token” is a piece of metal that does not have the intrinsic value stamped on it – to wit:

    the aluminum francs of the Third and Fourth Republics, the cupro-nickel coinage of the Federal Republic of Germany, the French Fifth Republic, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States, etc., etc.

    The first “token” that I’m aware of was the cupro-nickel five cent piece minted in the late 19th century in the United States. This was followed in short order by the cupro-nickel coinage of imperial Germany, specifically the 20 pfennig coin, and other small change in Eastern Europe. Tokens became common in Europe as the currencies of the continent lost real value after WWI and silver coins were either hoarded or withdrawn from circulation. The United States stopped using coins altogether in the mid-1960’s with the introduction of the cupro-nickel dime, quarter, half dollar and dollar tokens.

    The point of the comment? Tokens were introduced in the early Twentieth Century as a response to inflation. But when common currency and coinage loses its intrinsic value as a matter of policy, real devaluation over time is sure to follow, as the principle of “intrinsic” value in money is violated.

    This was not understood during the middle years of the last century, when bankers looked for a way to free themselves of dependence on gold.

    Only now is this becoming obvious.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Got any good tips?

    I’ll give yawl the same tip I’ve been giving you for a while now. Buy gold coins, a troy scale, and sit on both against the time that the dollar finally collapses.

    Just to correct the economic historian on the list.

    Roosevelt’s action raising the price of the ounce of gold against the dollar and pulling gold coins out of circulation was referred to as “going off the gold standard”.

    In reality, the United States remained on the gold standard, redeeming dollars for gold, until the French nearly cleaned out Fort Knox over thirty years ago by redeeming euro-dollars and Nixon finally de-linked the dollar from the price of gold.

    I’ve been a gold bug ever since, sensing that no currency system can last for too long without something solid – like gold or silver – to refer to as a final standard.

    It appears that I’m being proven right.

    And America is being nailed to a cross of gold, dipped in oil….

  • Perhaps we need to redefine the term ‘recession’. Even Mike should be able to admit that our current situation doesn’t fit the traditional criteria for a recession since we haven’t had two consecutive quarters of negative growth. So perhaps we need a different term for what we’re currently experiencing. It’s not quite stagflation either unless the rate of inflation continues to accelerate. How about calling it a ‘slump’ or a ‘downturn’. Those sound good.

    Dave

  • Clavos

    OK. Since you asked, I’ll broaden it…

  • Mike

    Here’s a link to “ol’ Prof. What’s-his-name”…a summing up of what he’s been saying lately…the comment at the end of that article is quite revealing…it says”Comment: Given who Feldstein is and what a free-market cheerleader he has always been, this statement is a signal of what is being planned for the near future.”

    U.S. faces severe recession: NBER’s Martin Feldstein

  • Clavos

    Mike, I believe my most recent comments have acknowledged that we are probably headed into a recession, have they not?

    Have I not also mentioned that recessions occur periodically in our economy?

    What more do you want from me?

    I’m not going to start worrying about it; there’s nothing I (or any other ordinary citizen) can do to prevent it, so there’s no point in worrying.

    And I’m certainly not going to start whining about it.

    I might start investing in China, though.

    Just in case…

    Got any good tips?

  • Mike

    I don’t think i suggested anywhere that you took classes with the Harvard professor,its just that you seem to pick and choose authorities and discard them at your convenience.see what you said Clavos…#235″I KNOW Feldstein’s a right winger!! That’s why I linked to him!!”…note the emphasis on KNOW…now you say..”I did quote ol’ Prof. What’s-his-name ”

    “What’s-his-name”…really Clavos!…you quote an authority,even KNOW his leanings but can’t …..conveniently…remember his name when the same authority says we are in a recession…….you say “I was quoting was the particular passage he wrote, because it supported my point of the moment”….why don’t you quote the SAME authority with the SAME vehemence and SAME degree of conviction now that he’s taken a stand in direct contravention to the one you and Nalle are taking??…..c’mon you guys KNOW such a lot… tell us some more ….its going to be fun watching you guys put your foot in the mouth

  • Clavos

    By golly, Mike you’re right!

    I did quote ol’ Prof. What’s-his-name in #219.

    The thing is, what I was quoting was the particular passage he wrote, because it supported my point of the moment, not really him, though I did of course credit him.

    And, he’s certainly NOT my “beloved professor;” I never even sat in on, much less took, one of his classes at Harvard.

  • Gee, devaluing the dollar sounds like such a good idea maybe we should reduce it all the way to zero! Then we’d all be rich!

    Why didn’t anyone before Bush think of that?

    It’s an old idea, Bliffle. When the Greenback movement first gained popularity one of their promises was to reduce the real value of the dollar to 50% of the face value so that the wealthy would be half as wealthy and it would do no harm to those who had nothing.

    FDR effectively implemented this plan when he took us off the gold standard.

    Dave

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    I come at it from the perspective of someone trained as a historian and in fact an economic historian.

    Funny, how the trained historians are so often the last to see history happening in front of their eyes….

  • bliffle

    I guess that the dems will ask Nalle to rationalize billions of debt when they bring in UHC. I’m sure he’s already enthusiastic about doing it.

  • Les …you and I are just conducting a conversation with the deaf here..

    No, you’re conducting a conversation based on different principles which some of the readers just don’t agree on.

    You’re approaching the issue from a perspective where you start from the assumption that the system is doomed to failure and you then look for signs of that failure. Some readers come from the perspective of looking for what the economy is doing and drawing conclusions from that.

    I come at it from the perspective of someone trained as a historian and in fact an economic historian. I look for what in the current economy is truly and significantly different from or similar to other historical trends or events. I put the current situation in historical context. In that context it’s very clear that while there are certainly problems today, the situation is nowhere near as desperate as it was in the crisis periods of the 70s and 80s. We’re spoiled by the relative stability of the 1990s where the worst crisis was the paltry tech bust.

    Dave

  • bliffle

    Gee, devaluing the dollar sounds like such a good idea maybe we should reduce it all the way to zero! Then we’d all be rich!

    Why didn’t anyone before Bush think of that?

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Clavos,

    Reading your more recent comments here, I realize that you are just as pessimistic as I am – except that you think the whining is all premature! While I do understand, do try to understand that lots of folks remember the Great Depression, and fear a repeat. A lot of folks have already had a lick of hell and don’t want second helpings. They see History coming to get them and they don’t like it….

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Chris,

    You wrote I think the evidence supports the idea that we are getting better. WWII wasn’t as bad as WWI in terms of brutality and slaughter, the USA and the USSR managed to avoid nuclear war, and there hasn’t been a major war for a long time now.

    What have you been smoking? And can you send some over here? I could use delusions like these to get me out of the dumps when I have to deal with the news around here.

    WWII was not was bad as WWI in terms of brutality – it was a whole lot worse!! At least eleven millions were killed in concentration camps under German control, several million civilians died in bombings, like of London and Germany, several more million civilians died during the German invasion of Russia – then there were the atom bombs dropped on Japan. We haven’t even gotten to the soldiers who died! And then there is the simple fact that each and every single death, military or civilian, affected at least fifty people….

    Talk about progress!

    The Armenian holocaust of WWI laid the groundwork for the German holocaust of WWII, which laid the groundwork for the murderous events in China during the 1950’s and 1960’s, which laid the groundwork for the holocaust in Cambodia in the 1970’s, which then laid the groundwork for war and holocausts in Sudan, Ethiopia and central Africa. It gets sickening to continue.

    And while there hasn’t been a major war since WWII – I fear to think what such a war would be like – have you ever heard of nickel and diming? If you haven’t, get some of those red-blooded Americans on the list to explain the term. There have been the wars here, the partition of India and the subsequent wars between Pakistan and India, the war between Iran and Iraq, Korea, Vietnam – not major wars, mind you, just nickels and dimes in the bucket. And then for the penny-ante stuff, you have had Northern Ireland….

  • Mike

    “1.6 million and 655,000 sound like scary big numbers”….they are.Les …you and I are just conducting a conversation with the deaf here..

  • Mike

    “I don’t even know who Martin Feldstein is”…see comment #219…you quoted him as an authority…talk about selective amnesia.

  • Les Slater

    From today’s WSJ:

    “The Federal Reserve’s decision to invoke a Depression-era law so that it could lend to Bear Stearns shows how seriously it believes the financial system is at risk.”

  • I think I’ve figured Mike out. He’s writing on the assumption that his readers are enumerate and will be scared by any number he posts if it looks large, even though if they actually understand the context they’d realize it’s just meaningless scaremongering.

    Case in point:

    when the Household Survey dropped 644,000 people from the labor force. If these workers had remained in the work force, the unemployment rate would have jumped to 5.3 percent.

    That would be the gigantic jump of .2% or 1 in 500. To an end total which is historically just below average unemployment. Still low, just not extremely low.

    If you dig a little deeper, the Household Survey also shows 1.6 million people marginally attached to the labor force

    That would be slightly under 1% of the total labor force, roughly equivalent to the people who take on a second job for Christmas or work in trades where they work on a project by project basis, and a number which has fluctuated around the same level histoically for ages.

    See, 1.6 million and 655,000 sound like scary big numbers, but in the context of the enormous labor pool they’re actually quite small.

    You can easily do the same thing with the massive deficit and debt. If you want to scare people you go on and on about 9.4 trillion dollars of debt or $300 billion in deficit. You don’t mention that as a percentage of GDP that debt is less than under Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Reagan, Bush I and Clinton and they all had higher deficits as a percentage of GDP during their administrations as well. In fact, the only period when debt and deficits weren’t higher after adjusting for inflation and comparing with GDP was the late 1960s and 1970s when the economy was in terrible shap, much worse overall than anything we’re experiencing now. And you certainly mustn’t mention that the deficit has been declining because of careful budget management and we’re expected to break even and move into surpluses within 5 years if we stay on this same course.

    On that topic an interesting side issue occurred to me. One side benefit of devaluing the dollar is that all that debt we’ve built up is suddenly actually worth much less than it once was. With the dollar devalued as it has under Bush, that $9.4 billion is really more like $5 billion if it’s paid back in current dollars. What a scam!

    And BTW, I’m a pessimist too. I just think it makes more sense to worry about the real threats rather than trying to fearmonger about aspects of the economy which are cyclical and hardly out of control. A bunch of real estate trading hands with one group of people losing money and another picking up bargains and making money is hardly a disaster in the long run.

    Dave

  • Clavos

    i said we are half way through the sub prime crisis.”

    Not even that.

    “Clavos your favourite Prof Harvard University economist Martin Feldstein…”

    Mike, you’ve confused me with someone else. I don’t even know who Martin Feldstein is. However, what you quote him as saying sounds entirely reasonable and possible to me.

    So what? Is there something you or I can do about it? If so, what?

    BTW, interesting spelling of “favorite,” there, Mike. Is it possible you’re not an American?

    “i don’t see why you should be so taken with my “whining”

    Um, Oh I dunno…

    …Because whining isn’t constructive; it doesn’t accomplish anything toward improving the situation??

  • Clavos

    “Being optimistic or pessimistic is pretty much a matter of choice, Clavos. I just find it more rational to pick the former.”

    Agreed. I find it more rational to be pessimistic.

    I agree with you that much of what we now know came within the last 150 (no longer just 100 if one goes back to the dawn of the industrial age) years. In fact, my favorite anecdote to illustrate that point is my maternal grandmother, who died a a year or two after the moonwalk, but who courted my grandfather in a horse and buggy.

    “I think the evidence supports the idea that we are getting better. WWII wasn’t as bad as WWI in terms of brutality and slaughter…”

    Yes, advances in war defensive technology helped hold them down in WWII, but more advanced knowledge didn’t prevent the war in the first place; and in fact that war was sparked by one of the more egregious examples of the evil of humanity in history, so I don’t think it represents advancement in that area, except advancement toward more evil.

    “…the USA and the USSR managed to avoid nuclear war, and there hasn’t been a major war for a long time now.”

    Both accomplished by dint of pushing the fight off onto surrogates, which practice IMO, is more evil than fighting your own battles, even if it involves fewer casualties.

    Greater learning, in fact, seems to have broadened the opportunities for inhumanity (nuclear weapons, e.g.), even as low tech evil thrives: spousal abuse, gangbangers killing each other wholesale for sneakers, teenagers beating the homeless for amusement, beating gays, selling subprime mortgages to the unsophisticated and unwary, the entire narcotrafficking world, etc., etc.

    And,

    In a sense, we are very much in the last days of the Dark Ages and, as our understanding and knowledge is increasing seemingly exponentially, the future holds great promise. I just hope I will live long enough to see enough of it.” (emphasis added)

    I don’t think even your grandchildren will.

  • Mike

    Clavos you misunderstand me i didn’t say we were half-way through the recession,i said we are half way through the sub prime crisis.

    And since you’ve alraedy indicated elsewhere on this thread that you don’t care really care about what happens to the american economy…i don’t see why you should be so taken with my “whining”…..perhaps you should go back to doing what you do best…selling boats to those people who are unaffected by all this “whining”

  • Mike

    Clavos your favourite Prof Harvard University economist Martin Feldstein further sounded alarms yesterday, saying: “I believe the US economy is now in recession,” and that it could “become the worst recession we have seen in the postwar period.”

  • Being optimistic or pessimistic is pretty much a matter of choice, Clavos. I just find it more rational to pick the former.

    I think the evidence supports the idea that we are getting better. WWII wasn’t as bad as WWI in terms of brutality and slaughter, the USA and the USSR managed to avoid nuclear war, and there hasn’t been a major war for a long time now.

    As to the Dark Ages, they were indeed a period in which human culture and knowledge hardly developed at all. On the other hand, over 90% of everything we now know was learned or discovered in the last hundred years.

    In a sense, we are very much in the last days of the Dark Ages and, as our understanding and knowledge is increasing seemingly exponentially, the future holds great promise. I just hope I will live long enough to see enough of it.

  • Clavos

    Bliffle’s facile and far removed analysis of my thinking is very amusing.

    Having never met me he has arrived at insights to my psyche based on pixels on a screen.

    Amazing!

    I haven’t even mentioned “survival of the fittest,” nor am I talking about it. I addressed ONLY the real acts of evil that humans have inflicted and continue to inflict on each other.

    And I’m speaking of acts of evil performed by all manner of people, powerful and impotent, rich and poor, alike.

    Again, the history of humanity is replete with incidents that amply demonstrate man’s inherent inhumanity to man.

    bliffle writes:

    “But there are a great number of people who are in awe of Great Men and never cease making apologies for them.”

    I don’t know any “Great Men” bliffle. I DO know a number of wealthy men, most of whom are rather unprepossessing and unremarkable (many of the younger ones are computer nerds); my only real interest in them is separating them from some of their cash in exchange for a new toy…

    Save your psychobabble nonsense for someone you actually know and who needs it, bliffle.

  • bliffle

    Clavos’ Hobbseian beliefs sound like ideological infections from the rich clients and associates. It can happen to anyone if they associate long enough with powerful people who repeat the Survival Of the Fittest idea that is often espoused.

    But Clavos is insufficiently curious so he doesn’t examine what really happens as people become more powerful, that they understand less and less of the purposes of the organization and more and more about mastering the means of increasing their own power witin the organization. And that they seek more and more reward for less and less personal risk.

    That’s why those organizations must fail eventually.

    Look at the government of George Bush. As he’s become better at reinforcing his own power the consequences of that power have become more expensive and less productive. The same can be said of Bear Stearns and even the Fed Reserve itself.

    But there are a great number of people who are in awe of Great Men and never cease making apologies for them.

  • Clavos

    Chris,

    The Dark Ages are so named because they were a period when learning and intellectualism almost died out altogether, not because they were a particularly cruel time in the history of humanity.

    You say I’m a pessimist, and perhaps I am, but my outlook is no less valid than yours, except in your mind, because you are an optimist.

    As for mankind’s slow progression toward the light:

    I would remind you that the twentieth century saw some of the worst genocides in history; Hitler, Pol Pot, assorted smaller massacres all over Africa, Darfur, etc.

    Mind you, I’m not saying we’re getting worse; only that we’re not getting better.

    Nor do I believe we ever will.

  • Clavos, I don’t see any basis for you to characterise your opinion as realism. As I said, you’re being pessimistic.

    Nor do I think my view is idealistic. Indeed, looking at the “totality of mankind’s history” rather tends to support my view that humanity is slowly evolving out of the dark ages.

  • Clavos

    Chris,

    I would expect you to think that way; in fact, I’ll venture to say I may well be the only person on BC who believes the way I do.

    To think my way is to abandon all hope for mankind ever pulling itself out of the mire, and most people prefer hope to despair.

    As a realist (as opposed to idealist), I’m comfortable with the idea, however, and I think that if one looks at the totality of mankind’s history, one cannot avoid the reality that the scale is tipped decidedly on the side of evil up until now.

    And the beat goes on…incessantly.

  • Hi Clavos, just wanted to chime in that I completely disagree with your opinion that humans are inherently not good. That’s just pessimistic grumpy old man speak.

    There is a lot of good in the world and, as more people emerge from conditions of grinding poverty, there is more and more of it.

  • Clavos

    troll,

    Can’t argue with the morality of the brother’s keeper thing.

    The priests have been teaching it for 20 centuries; hasn’t caught on yet.

    I believe that humans (as a group; not necessarily any given individual) are inherently NOT good, which explains why no one has listened to the shamans for two thousand years.

    If I’m right, and history certainly points that way, then you’re going to need something with a lot more authenticity and attraction to it to accomplish what you say you want to accomplish.

    Otherwise, you’ll be left by the roadside as the majority continues moving on.

  • Clavos

    Mike,

    You misunderstand me. What I was saying is we are waaaay less than “halfway through” the recession, as you suggest in #630; it’s barely beginning.

    A year from now, you will know we are in a recession.

    Meanwhile, what do you propose to do about it, other than whine on a blog?

  • troll

    Clavos – What non-capricious hand would you propose guide this “kinder, gentler market?” The no less capricious and also inept and corrupt hand of our government? Perhaps the hand of another nation’s government? Or that of the UN? NATO? Chavez? Castro? Canada? OZ?

    sadly – as history shows – easy materialist solutions such as government tyranny will not solve the problem…the adjustment needed is in attitude

    something along the lines of each of us realizing that he is his brother’s keeper and that if it works at all then it works for all…such an understanding makes it more difficult to fuck another over for a percentage

    (in fact I have more hope that the irrational demands of ‘religious’ belief will get us through to a more appropriate ethic rather than any government action…which is why I consider myself closer to Ruvy’s pov than say Dave’s so called rationalism)

    Should we attempt to stay out of ALL wars?

    yes

    Is there not a possibility, nay a probability that some group or nation will decide to come after all the goodies we harbor? And, were that to happen, should we stick to our “no more war” plan and simply pack up all the goodies for them and hand them over?

    we won’t need to as ‘they’ will already own our chit from today’s wars

    and finally – I’ve never met ‘the nation’ but I do know lots of Americans (and ferners) and these living breathing folk are my concern…climbing out of this economic trough over the backs of the poor is unacceptable

    capitalism is absurd

  • Mike

    You don’t think its a recession???…heres Nalles favourite Wall Street Journal again…he loves the wsj doesn’t he?Most economists in survey think recession is here

  • Mike

    Listen Nalle ,Clavos…THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES thinks we are in trouble President Bush on Friday acknowledged more starkly than ever that the economy has slipped into trouble….Shortly after Mr. Bush spoke, Ben S. Bernanke, the Federal Reserve chairman, issued fresh warnings about the gathering wave of home foreclosures …do we need to listen to YOU??

  • Clavos

    “We are only half-way through this crisis.”

    Actually, it hasn’t been going on long enough for it to even be a recession officially yet.

    It’s just beginning; so if you’re so scared already, you should be suicidal by this time next year…

  • Clavos

    It’s still just another in a long line of recessions. Sure, lots of people will lose their jobs, but where is it written that everyone is guaranteed a job for life?

    Lots of people will also lose their houses in the subprime crisis, but just as many will pick those houses up for a song from whomever winds up with them and eventually turn around and sell them for a profit.

    Such distress purchases in wholesale lots are already going on here in Miami in the condo market, where speculators are buying 10, 15, even 20 unsold condos at a time from the developers, who, to avoid bankruptcy, are dumping them for whatever they can get.

    It’s not the end of the world. It’s not even the end of the US.

    And, even if it is, whining about it on a blog isn’t going to fix it, so what do you think you’re accomplishing?

  • Mike

    We also have the problem of inflation.It doesn’t matter what newspaper you picked up. I doesn’t matter what TV show you watched. Records fell like no time in recent history.$1.55 on the Euro, $1.00 on the Yen, $1000 Gold, $110 oil…When the government releases economic statistics for prices and employment, a magic mirror is used to make numbers look much better than they really are…. Both the Democrats and Republicans use this smoky mirror when they control the Presidency, and neither party dares to glance into it in fear it may shatter from the reflection. Washington is a company town and a political machine that spends trillions of our tax dollars to mislead the public.

    The inflation numbers are very important to the economy…Bureau of Labor Statistics – with arm twisting and urging from the Federal Reserve – made two major changes to the price indexes…First, Hedonic (quality) adjustments were added. An adjustment for quality says that if my new computer runs faster and has more memory, I have a more valuable computer for the money, so the real price is only $1,000, even though I paid $2,000.

    Next, weights for the goods in the price indexes were changed. ..In the old index, if the price of beef went up, the price you paid for it went up. Now, if I loved filet mignon but stopped buying it because the price was too high – and I began buying chicken instead – the price of beef didn’t really go up because I “chickened out”. ….Without magic, prices actually rose considerably and for the same number of dollars spent, my standard of living went down.

    Why is it so important for the government to fudge and mangle the price indexes?… Well, many government payments like social security and other benefits are tied to inflation, and America is broke…. Fudging the price indexes to cut the level of reported inflation is a great way of directly sticking Grandma with a hidden tax increase.

    Moreover, economic statistics such as the Gross Domestic Product, (“GDP”) are reported by taking the inflated GDP numbers and adjusting them for inflation….. So, if the inflation numbers are understated by even two to three percent, GDP will be overstated by the same percentage. If, because of underreporting for inflation they can overstate economic growth by several percent, not a single politician or government employee – including the staff at the Federal Reserve – would complain…. Remember, Washington is a company town where the American people get to pay the salaries and benefits for all government employees!

    Indeed, with all this price fixing, the US government, Federal Reserve, and Wall Street stock touts thought that a recession was impossible….. In order to show negative GDP, the actual economy would have to be falling by more than three percent.

    This means that the recession is actually much worse than the government admits to

    The reports on employment and unemployment are also critical economic statistics. For employment, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (“BLS”) has two surveys…. The first is the Payroll Survey which queries businesses about how many people they employ. This survey has a special mirror called the BLS Birth/Death computer model…. In February 2008, the computer model added 135,000 jobs to the total before seasonal adjustment…. Without the computer model, February’s payroll employment would have fallen by 198,000 jobs, not the reported drop of 63,000!

    The second is the Household Survey. This survey is conducted by contacting people to inquire whether they are working, if they would like to be working, and when they last looked for work. (The Household Survey in February did show a sharp drop of 255,000 jobs.) The unemployment rate is calculated using the Household Survey data, but magical “smoke and mirror” tricks are used to keep the unemployment rate down when it’s reported to the public. An example would be last month, when the Household Survey dropped 644,000 people from the labor force. If these workers had remained in the work force, the unemployment rate would have jumped to 5.3 percent.

    If you dig a little deeper, the Household Survey also shows 1.6 million people marginally attached to the labor force….. In this case, the magical logic is “If you haven’t looked for work in the past four weeks, you’re not included as unemployed! In other words, these workers are not just marginal, they’re invisible!

    Next, the employment numbers are bulked up. In February, there were 4.9 million part-time workers who would prefer working full-time…. Again, the magical logic used is “if you worked an hour during the week, you’re fully employed!

    We are only half-way through this crisis.Imagine what will happen when more jobs are lost.

  • Mike

    #618 Clavos “You guys are freaking out over a normal stage in the business cycle. We have had several recessions during my lifetime. We’ve survived every one of them”…this is NOT a normal stage in a business cycle.The present crisis had its genesis in the last downturn when former fed Alan Greenspan lowered interest rates to stimulate the economy.Structured financial products like derivates which were practically non-existent in the 80’s exploded into a notional 516 trillion market…yes you read that right..out of which 17 trillion is tied to the present crisis…a lot of this explosion in paper money….and not real wealth….was due to financial derugulation whereby leverage could be increased many times ones capital reserve and liabilities could be taken off the balance sheet.Throw in fraud and greed,crony capitalism, coupled with no oversight by the powers that be and rating agencies isssuing AAA ratings to toxic waste and you have a recipe for disaster.This disaster has been 6 years in the making….that is one BIG bubble…i didn’t say that its the end of the world….just that the pain is going to last longer and deeper….no one like losing money….the Bush family has lost money in the Carlyle fund…but its a drop in the ocean to what the’ve made for themselves over the years….for the rest of us…amongst other things we are faced with the stark specter of unemployment….beleive me people are going to be laid off….good people..there’s a brilliant analysis/review by CR Sridhar on this phenomenonBook Review: Bait and Switch by Barbara Ehrenreich – White-Collar Blues

  • Mike

    There’s no difference between McCain,Bush,Clinton and that Black Clinton…you’re barking up the wrong tree Nalle.

  • When she laughs I get visions of a hyaena, Bennett. When she cries I see crocodiles, of course.

    And MCH, my much vaunted ‘fortified compound’ is on top of a hill (for the tactical advantages, of course) so when the sky falls it will hit here first.

    Dave

  • Bennett

    “They are giving her convenient ’emergency’ a back story to make her seizure of more absolute power more feasible.”

    Not that the bar for this type of manipulation hasn’t been set pretty high by the current administration.

    So you’ve decided that Clinton will be the next Prez?

    Hmmm, a female dictator. I’m sure we can’t wait.

    After eight years of GWB’s heh heh laugh and missing oratory skills, I have to say that four years of Senator Clinton’s forced laughter will quite possibly send me to the asylum.

  • Stop fooling us with your bullshit Nalle

    If it’s bullshit then it must be damned good bullshit to be fooling all of you paragons of truth.

    Last night before I went to bed I had this thread weighing on my mind trying to figure out the motivation behind people like Mike who are doing everything they can to create a sort of propaganda storm of unrelated tidbits of marginally meaningful data and then add it all together into some grand sign that the sky is falling.

    It occured to me that the most likely motivation is that they are laying the groundwork for the time next year when Hillary is in office and needs the pretext of an economic crisis in order to clamp down, nationalize industries and start restricting our rights and taking away our earnings at an accelerated rate. They are giving her convenient ’emergency’ a back story to make her seizure of more absolute power more feasible.

    And if that’s not their intention, then they’re just fools playing into the hands of the forces of oppression and that may be worse.

    Dave

  • If Ruvy is offended by Leno, then goodness only knows what he’d make of The Moment of Truth

  • Clavos

    “But that doesn’t change the sad fact that America is on the way down and on the way out….”

    If, as you say, it IS on it’s way down and on it’s way out, because it is so degenerate as you describe, then how can that be sad?

    It can only be good that such a foul, noisome people and place are on the verge of extinction.

    And, if you’re wrong, then it will be around to foul the rest of the world (for its culture is, as you saw in your friend’s house, being exported all over the world on a daily basis) for generations to come.

    Something to look forward to…

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    A friend of mine likes to stream in TV from the States, and visiting him a couple of days ago, I got to see Jay Leno’s Tonight Show. After having watched Johnny Carson for many years, I found the aging Leno disgusting in his humor – this was just a small taste of what America has degenerated to, Clavos. And yes, it bothered me that my friend would watch this trash. I didn’t stay. I went home.

    If the crap I saw on my friend’s streaming TV is the kind of crap that occupies the minds of Americans, I fail to see how they can rise to their former glory. Even a cheap dollar would not help a rotting people build on the rotting timbers of an abandoned industrial base. This is not said with contempt, it is said with sadness.

    Do remember, I grew up in Brooklyn, lived in Minnesota and when I saw American culture beginning to grab my sons, fled here. I didn’t come here out of idealism, or even necessarily out of desire, but the recognition that it was what I had to do to make sure that we would see Jewish grandchildren. And I have paid a price in doing so.

    But that doesn’t change the sad fact that America is on the way down and on the way out….

  • Clavos

    “whose ‘we’ brownish white boy – ?”

    The nation, of course, which has not only survived but continued to grow and prosper overall throughout my lifetime (a lotta years).

    “isn’t there at least the kernel of a proposal here – ?”

    Barely a kernel. Should we attempt to stay out of ALL wars? Is there not a possibility, nay a probability that some group or nation will decide to come after all the goodies we harbor? And, were that to happen, should we stick to our “no more war” plan and simply pack up all the goodies for them and hand them over?

    “…and I won’t even go into the possibility of replacing the capricious invisible hand with a kinder gentler market”

    A noble ideal. What non-capricious hand would you propose guide this “kinder, gentler market?” The no less capricious and also inept and corrupt hand of our government? Perhaps the hand of another nation’s government? Or that of the UN? NATO? Chavez? Castro? Canada? OZ?

    In any case, my admonishment above was valid, since your “kinder gentler” embryo of a suggestion is the first in th thread…

  • troll

    (that would be ‘who’s’)

  • troll

    *We’ve survived every one of them.*

    whose ‘we’ brownish white boy – ?

    then you say: *none of you has made even one suggestion as to how to correct those deficiencies.*

    yet Socs already said: *…US in her pursuit of imperial ambition dangerously exposed herself to financial instability. This was primarily on account of conducting wars abroad with borrowed capital…*

    isn’t there at least the kernel of a proposal here – ?

    …and I won’t even go into the possibility of replacing the capricious invisible hand with a kinder gentler market

  • Clavos

    You guys are freaking out over a normal stage in the business cycle. We have had several recessions during my lifetime. We’ve survived every one of them.

    As for the dollar value slipping: it should be devalued. For years, the dollar has been overvalued; now that it’s sinking relative to other currencies, american goods are once more competitive overseas, and american exports are skyrocketing.

    The only reason for the american dollar to be the world’s monetary standard is american hubris in wanting to keep it that way.

    And that’s a stupid reason.

    I notice that, while you’re all eager to whine about the deficiencies in the american economy, none of you has made even one suggestion as to how to correct those deficiencies.

    Why not?

    If the american economy is crashing, why aren’t you doing something about it? Why are you wasting time posting whiny comments on a blog?

  • Mike

    We need to pay more attention to people like Socrates.”..US in her pursuit of imperial ambition dangerously exposed herself to financial instability”….so much so that the dollar is losing its luster…can you ever have imagined a headline like this a year ago Dollar losing clout around the world when Nalle was claiming there was no sub-prime crisis….nay….sneering at the rest of us for even daring to hint at such a thing as a sub-prime crisis and a falling dollar…by the way that link is from MSNBC and not from some commie-left wing-nutter blog

  • Mike

    Ruvy that link to the troubles at Carlyle is very revealing….it only goes to show how rapidly events are unfolding….in January the Peloton fund was given an award …now the partners are selling their plush office in Soho…its a bloodbath…only problem is our know-all head in the sands editor can’t see it….he doesn’t like his news unless it meets the approbation from such “mainstream” sources as the Wall Street Journal…well..tell you what…. the journal has said that we are in deep shit in an article today..Recession Is Inevitable

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    This article by William Engdahl, talks about the misfortunes of the Carlyle Fund and other companies in the United States. My heart bleeds for the them, of course.

    Engdahl is the author of the book, A Century of War, which explains why the United States is on the skids. Unfortunately, his book rings true in its account of events over the last fifty years of the twentieth century, when I grew up and lived there.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    This English article in Globes is a lot less explanatory than the Hebrew one, merely indicating that the Bank of Israel is taking the rare action of intervening in currency trading buy selling shekels…. That is the reason originally linked to the Hebrew article in telling you this little tale of an American appointee (that’s really what Fischer is) at the Bank of Israel trying to stall the dollar’s decline (and look good with American retirees at the same time)….

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    This article in Hebrew at Globes.co.il describes how the Bank of Israel, under the control of the American Stanley Fischer, is buying up dollars to drive its value back up to 3.60 shekels.

    Heh, when the dollar becomes garbage, Stan Fischer has us pick it up! So not only were Jews rag-sheenies in the Midwest United States, now they are the rag-sheenies of the financial world!

  • socrates

    In my article The End of Dollar Hegemony, I had pointed out that US in her pursuit of imperial ambition dangerously exposed herself to financial instability. This was primarily on account of conducting wars abroad with borrowed capital through the issuance of Treasury Bills with low rates of interest.

    The decline of US could be gleaned by the fact that she seeks to dominate the world even though she is a debtor nation. Even Britain in her heydays as an Imperial Power was a net exporter of capital.

    In my article Blow back the same point was raised when i highlighted the dangers of Imperial overstretch.When a nation loses the ability to pay for its wars its days are numbered.

  • Sidhu

    Violent economic blowback indeed.Brings to mind a quote…”The roots of violence are wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, worship without sacrifice, and politics without principles.” Mahatma Gandhi.

  • Mike

    For the vast majority of Americans this country is already in decline. We don’t need the Wall Street Journal to tell us otherwise. Besides that article to which Nalle has provided a link is full of qualified ifs ,buts and maybes… the author isn’t very sure himself… and more telling… most of his readers aren’t taken in by the nonsense… just look at some of the comments posted to that particular thread by David Gaffen The Subprime Crisis Is Over! (We Think)

    Now you’ve got to ask…who is we???

    [Edited]

    Stop fooling us with your bullshit Nalle

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Oh, yeah, and I know this really impresses you, but the New Israeli Shekel, which is less and less of a joke currency, is now work over 29¢, or NIS 3.433 to the dollar.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Dave, my father-in-law is a supreme optimist, having always believed that over time, the market would rise. And for a good part of his life, he was right. In 1987, when lots of others panicked, he kept his head, and persuaded his daughter not to sell stock either. I benefited from his advice, even though I considered him terribly optimistic. And his nerve in playing the market made him lots of money. He did pretty damned well for a postal worker feeding six people.

    Well, dear old dad has had the optimism knocked out of him by events of late. Yesterday, he sent us two e-mails: the first dealt with the high price of gas, and admitted that i was wise to sell our house when we did (in 2001 to immigrate here), saying that since, housing prices have taken a steep dive. The second e-mail noted the large numbers of foreclosures he has been seeing in the Twin Cities area.

    My father-in-law was raised during the Depression. When he starts worrying, I know trouble is brewing.

  • I see the official economic nonsense and propaganda thread is still alive and kicking. Let’s see what bogus statements I can debunk in the 10 minutes before lunch.

    Mike offers some rich fodder:

    Foreclosures are still soaring

    Except that they aren’t in places like Amarillo, Pittsburgh,, or New York or many, many other areas of the country. The truth is that foreclosures are declining nationwide except in specific problem areas which were overbuilt and have generally weak local economies.

    Oh and wait…the WSJ says that the Subprime Crisis is Over. What on earth will we do if the sky stops falling?

    More later, perhaps.

    Dave

  • Mike

    In his prepared statement, Bernanke announced that the Fed would add $200 billion to the financial system to shore up banks that have been battered by mortgage-related losses. The news was greeted with jubilation on Wall Street where traders sent stocks skyrocketing by 416 points, their biggest one-day gain in five years.

    Yesterday’s action by the Federal Reserve proves that the banking system is insolvent.

    The stock market was headed for a crash this week, but Bernanke managed to swerve off the road and avoid a head-on collision. But nothing has changed. Foreclosures are still soaring, the credit markets are still frozen, and capital is being destroyed at a faster pace than any time in history. The economic situation continues to deteriorate and even unrelated parts of the markets have now been infected with subprime contagion. The massive deleveraging of the banks and hedge funds is beginning to intensify and will continue to accelerate until a bottom is found. That’s a long way off and the road ahead is full of potholes.

    “In the United States, a new tipping point will translate into a collapse of the real economy, final socio-economic stage of the serial bursting of the housing and financial bubbles and of the pursuance of the US dollar fall. The collapse of US real economy means the virtual freeze of the American economic machinery: private and public bankruptcies in large numbers, companies and public services closing down massively.” (Statement from The Global Europe Anticipation Bulletin (GEAB)

    So far, the Fed’s actions have had only a marginal affect. The system is grinding to a standstill. The country’s two largest GSEs, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which are presently carrying $4.5 trillion of loans on their books, are teetering towards bankruptcy. Both are gravely under-capitalized and (as a recent article in Barron’s shows) Fannies equity is mostly smoke and mirrors. No wonder investors are shunning their bonds. Additionally, the cost of corporate bond insurance is now higher than anytime in history, which makes funding for business expansion or new projects nearly impossible. The wheels have come of the cart. The debt markets are upside-down, consumer confidence is drooping and, as the Financial Times states, “A palpable sense of crisis pervades global trading floors.” It’s all pretty grim.

    The banks are facing a “systemic margin call” which is leaving them capital-depleted and unwilling to lend. Thus, the credit markets are shutting down and there’s a stampede for the exits by the big players. Bernanke’s chances of reversing the trend are nil. The cash-strapped banks are calling in loans from the hedge funds which is causing massive deleveraging. That, in turn, is triggering a disorderly unwind of trillions of dollars of credit default swaps and other leveraged bets. Its a disaster.

  • PCR

    As of March 12 crude oil for April delivery hit $110 per barrel. The US dollar fell to a new low against the Euro. It now takes $1.55 to purchase one Euro.

    These new highs against the dollar are the ongoing story of the collapse of the US dollar as world reserve currency and corresponding collapse of American power.

    Here is the picture: The US economy, which has been kept alive by enormous debt expansion that has over-reached its limit, is falling into recession. The traditional way out by expanding the supply of money and credit is blocked by the impaired banking system, the levels of consumer debt, the collapsing value of the US dollar, and rising inflation.

    The Bush regime is attempting to bypass the stalled credit expansion by sending Americans $600 checks, money that will mainly be used to reduce existing credit card debt and not to fund new consumption.

    The US is dependent on foreigners not only for energy but also for manufactured goods and advanced technology products. The US is dependent on foreigners to finance our consumption of $800 billion annually more than the US produces. The US is dependent on foreigners to finance its red ink wars, and the US government’s budget deficit is now expanding as tax revenues decline with the declining economy.

    The bottom line: US power is enfeebled. US power depends on the willingness of foreigners to finance our wars and on the willingness of foreigners to continue to accumulate depreciating dollar assets.
    The US cannot close its trade deficit. Oil prices are rising, and offshore production of goods and services for US markets results in a dollar-for-dollar increase in imports, while reducing the supply of domestic goods available for export.

    The US cannot close its budget deficit while it is squandering vast sums on wars that serve no US purpose, handing out $150 billion in red ink rebates, and falling into recession.

    US living standards, which have been stagnant for years, will plummet once dollar decline forces China off the dollar peg.

  • NR

    Serious concerns about a systemic financial crisis or a meltdown have been recently expressed by a number of very distinguished observers and analysts. Larry Summers recently warned that “we are facing the most serious combination of macroeconomic and financial stresses that the U.S. has faced in a generation–and possibly, much longer than that”; he then added the country has “never been in more need of serious economic thinking than we are now”; he warned that “the current estimates of mortgage losses are $400 billion…Those estimates are substantially optimistic.”; and then argued that “It’s a grave mistake to believe in the self-equilibrating properties of economies in the face of large shocks…Markets balance fear and greed. And when fear takes over, the capacity for self-stabilization is not one that can be relied upon.” ….conditions in financial markets have significantly worsened … stock markets are falling day after day; margin calls are hitting hedge funds and highly leveraged institutions; highly leveraged private equity firms are in serious trouble; more large mortgage lenders are going belly up; credit derivatives spreads for corporate bonds are widening even for high grade bonds; even the super safe agency debt spreads are now widening; the muni bonds, TOB and ARS markets are in a seizure; the liquidity crunch is back with a vengeance forcing the Fed to sharply increase the size of its liquidity operations; but since such widening spreads in interbank rates are now representing more credit premia rather than liquidity premia monetary injections are likely to become increasingly impotent in addressing such widening spreads. Market observers are now using terms such as the markets are becoming “utterly unhinged”, the financial system is “broken” and “everybody’s in de-levering mode” to describe the rising panic in financial markets. ….

    in the broader economy we are having stores with weak sales and sometimes even closures…Economic woes lead to retail retrenchment

  • AM

    couldn’t have put it better Ruvy;)

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Clavos,

    The point of all these postings is not to demoralize you; you’re very foolish to look at them that way. The point is to wake you up. Not you personally; you have been paying reasonably close attention to this thread, fighting a rearguard action against the bad news that continues to pile up about the American economy.

    You’ve indicated before that you don’t appear to care if the American economy crashes. And given that there are over 300 million Americans, I’m sure that there are about 300 million points of view on the situation you all find yourselves in.

    Stan has been attempting to make lemonade out of lemons (see comments #588 and #597, but all the sugar from Down Under is not going to sweeten the gall and ashes your country will have to taste in the near future. Bear in mind that in saying this, I’m not just talking about Americans I don’t know. Most of my family still resides there, and I fear that many of them, pensioners, will lose what money they have in the market, and when your government can no longer cough up Social Security checks (I’ll be shocked to see any money coming my way from the system) will find themselves in dire straits indeed.

  • Clavos

    AM:

    You should put quotation marks (or attribute) passages you lift verbatim from the media.

    “The worst fears of consumers, investors and Washington officials were confirmed on Friday, as deepening paralysis on Wall Street collided with stark new evidence of falling employment and a likely recession.”

    Those are not your words.

    You commenters who keep gleefully posting all this gloom and doom are merely trying to undermine the confidence of the American people.

    Unfortunately, since you don’t live here, you don’t see that we are not so easily demoralized by a few anonymous posts on a blog, especially when we’ve already read your comments in our newspapers.

  • Mikew

    “Housing is in its “deepest, most rapid downswing since the Great Depression,” the chief economist for the National Association of Home Builders said Tuesday, and the downward momentum on housing prices appears to be accelerating.

    “Housing is in a major contraction mode and will be another major, heavy weight on the economy in the first quarter,” said David Seiders, the NAHB’s chief economist.” (“Rapid Deterioration”, MarketWatch)

    On Friday, banking giant USB estimated that credit woes would end up costing financial institutions $600 billion, three times more than their original estimate of $200 billion. But USB’s forecast does not take into account the $6 trillion of lost home equity if housing prices fall 30 per cent in the next two years. (which is very likely) Nor does it account for the potential losses in the structured finance market where $7.8 trillion of loans (which are presently in “pooled securities”) have gone into a deep-freeze. There’s no way of knowing how much capital will be drained from the system by the time all of this plays out, but if $7 trillion was lost in the dot.com bust, then it should greatly exceed that figure.

    The housing bubble was entirely avoidable. It was the policies of the Federal Reserve which made it inevitable. By fixing interest rates below the rate of inflation for almost 3 years, Greenspan ignited speculation in housing and created a false perception of prosperity. In truth, it was nothing more than asset-inflation through the expansion of debt. The Fed’s actions were complimented by repeal of regulatory legislation which prevented the commercial banks from dabbling in securities trading. Once the laws were changed, the banks were free to peddle their mortgage-backed securities to investors around the world. (A-rated mortgage-backed bonds are currently fetching just 13 per cent of their face value!) Now, those sketchy bonds are blowing up everywhere leaving large parts of the financial system dysfunctional.

    As investors continue to run away from anything remotely connected to mortgages; the price of risk, as measured by the spread on corporate bonds, has skyrocketed. In fact, investors are even shunning overextended GSEs like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. As the number of foreclosures continues to soar, the aversion to risk will intensify triggering a savage unwinding of leveraged bets in the hedge funds as well as a wider paralysis in the finacial markets.

    There’s absolutely no doubt now that the storm that is currently ripping through the financials will soon bring Wall Street to its knees.

  • AM

    The worst fears of consumers, investors and Washington officials were confirmed on Friday, as deepening paralysis on Wall Street collided with stark new evidence of falling employment and a likely recession.
    Sharp Drop in Jobs Adds to Grim Economic Picture

    Dangerous Cracks Appearing in Job Market

  • Persona

    very true STM…but “provided the US is able to revive exports in the manufacturing and farm sectors”…it can’t…not for a few years atleast…

  • STM

    However, much of the hoo-ha, gnashing of teeth and wailing in the US in regard to the falling value of the US dollar does beg one serious question.

    Does anyone actually in charge in the US understand that America’s woes are largely down to the fall in exports and a declining manufacturing sector, brought about by the big corporations’ willingness to send manufacturing offshore. All so that shareholders can pull in a few extra bucks on the bottom line.

    What makes it unattractive for other countries to buy US-made (or grown, or produced) goods is the disparity between their currencies and the US dollar. It’s simply cheaper to buy stuff from elsewhere.

    What America was once good at – making stuff and selling it – is now being done, largely thanks to US corporations hoping to save money on wages, in China, India, South America … you name it, anywhere but America.

    Jobs have gone too – call centres (look at the big credit card operations like Amex) are now based overseas because wages are lower and it improves the bottom line.

    Most people living outside the US understand that any currency measured lower against the US dollar is good for their economies, especially if they are exporting.

    A high US dollar is an impediment to US manufacturing and exports. So the falling dollar could be a bonus provided the US is able to revive exports in the manufacturing and farm sectors.

    That’s how wealth is made, not by nervous, panicky lunatics in pin-striped suits shuffling bits of paper around on Wall St.

    But has anyone in Washington worked that out yet??

  • STM

    So much gloom, so little time.

    Come on guys, we all know you’re not fair dinkum.

  • STM

    “ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet, who initially declined to comment yesterday, turned back to reporters to say that the U.S. government’s ‘strong dollar’ policy is ‘very important.’ ‘In the present circumstances, I consider very important what has been affirmed and reaffirmed by the U.S. authorities, including the secretary of the Treasury and the president of the United States of America, according to whom a strong-dollar policy is in the interests of the United States,’ Trichet said.”

    That’s because the Europeans understand that the Euro being the world’s strongest currency works against them, especially when it comes to exports.

    No one in the US govt seems to have worked that out yet.

    An artificially strong dollar isn’t necessarily that good for the US, except where it might massage the egos of those in the US govt responsible for watching it slide in the first place.

  • Doug N

    The worse than expected employment report has come through…the US has lost 63000 jobs in february!….think about that…thats 63000 people who have to worry about making their bills on time

    the past fortnight has seen a lot of action in the credit markets.Traders have become increasingly jittery.Just look at this string of bad news…we’ve never seen anything like this!

    March 6 – Bloomberg (Shannon D. Harrington): “The cost to protect corporate bonds from default soared to a record as hedge fund failures and rising bank funding costs stoked concern that a financial institution may collapse. Credit-default swaps tied to Citigroup Inc., Bank of America Corp., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Wachovia Corp., the nation’s four biggest banks, climbed to the highest on record. A benchmark gauge of credit risk in the U.S. and Canada reached the highest since it started trading in October 2003. ‘There’s so much concern about a market failure,’ said Gregory Peters, head of credit strategy at Morgan Stanley… ‘It’s a situation where there’s just a general lack of trust and there’s a heightened fear of the unknown.’”

    March 6 – Dow Jones (Deborah Lynn Blumberg): “In yet another sign of just how jittery financial markets have become again, U.S. Treasurys are just about the only security accepted in the securities repurchase market Thursday. Super-safe Treasurys are being scooped up like hotcakes and mostly on an overnight basis in the repo market, where dealers go to finance their positions by lending and borrowing securities from each other on a short-term basis. The 10-year note is the most popular thus far, with most other Treasury issues in demand as well. Other securities – such as agency debt issued by the Congressionally-chartered housing finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – and deals to loan out any types of securities for longer than overnight were struggling. The focus on overnight loans backed by Treasurys… comes Thursday as some mortgage bond funds failed to meet margin calls, leading them to sell high quality, liquid assets to make up for the loss. That drove market participants to gravitate once again to only the safest possible securities as trust dwindled… ‘Dealers are tightening up lending standards for non-Treasury securities in the repo market,’ said Carl Lantz, fixed income strategist at Credit Suisse… noting that the financing of mortgage securities in general is becoming more difficult. Agency mortgages ‘are typically something you think of as stable,’ Lantz added, but are now becoming especially volatile.”

    March 7 – The Wall Street Journal (Carrick Mollenkamp and Serena Ng): “The financial turmoil is taking on a new dimension: Banks that lent money to hedge funds and other big risk-takers are asking for some of it back. Loans from banks and brokerages had allowed hedge funds, which manage some $1.9 trillion in clients’ money, to amass many times that amount in investments. But as the value of mortgage-backed bonds and other investments has dropped in recent weeks, the lenders are demanding that borrowers put up more cash or assets. This is producing a negative cycle that has policy makers deeply worried. When investors rush to dump assets, prices fall and lenders feel compelled to make further demands, or ‘margin calls,’ which cause even more selling.” …’The appetite for risk is dropping sharply,’ said Steven Abrahams, chief interest-rate strategist at Bear Stearns… In the early stages of the financial turmoil, the riskiest securities… were hit by selling. Now, as margin calls intensify, hedge funds and others find they must unload even assets perceived as high-quality, such as bonds backed by the government-sponsored mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.”

    March 7 – Bloomberg (Edward Evans and Cathy Chan): “Carlyle Group’s mortgage-bond fund was suspended in Amsterdam trading after creditors forced the sale of some holdings, jeopardizing shareholders’ capital. Lenders who issued default notices have liquidated some residential mortgage-backed securities held by the fund and may sell more as talks continue, Carlyle Capital Corp. said… The fund had ‘substantial’ margin calls and additional default notices from lenders yesterday… Carlyle Capital said yesterday it had failed to meet margin calls, prompting creditors to seek immediate repayment… Carlyle increased its mortgage holdings last year, selling $300 million of shares in Carlyle Capital. The fund used leverage to buy about $22 billion of AAA rated mortgage debt issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. ‘This marks a further savage step in the ongoing credit implosion of recent months, Keith Baird, an analyst at Bear Stears…wrote… ‘The liquidation of the fund cannot be excluded nor the potential loss of capital, rendering the shares worthless.’”

    March 7 – Reuters (Laurence Fletcher): “Hedge funds under pressure from a combination of tightening credit lines, illiquid investments and investor redemptions are increasingly moving to stem investor outflows, industry experts told Reuters… An increasing number of funds are using gates — which can typically limit investor exits to between 10 and 25% of assets per quarter. Alternatively they are suspending investor redemptions entirely so the managers don’t have to undertake a fire sale of assets in difficult markets to pay exiting investors. ‘We see a lot of situations that aren’t total write-offs but where it’s more a question of suspending dealing or a gate,’ said one fund of hedge funds manager… ‘These situations are increasing.’ Prime brokers — who provide services such as financing for trading and settlement of trades — have become increasingly concerned in recent months about funds, particularly in the credit area, who may be leveraged, have suffered large losses or are holding illiquid investments.”

    March 6 – The Wall Street Journal (Liz Rappaport, Joellen Perry and Deborah Lynn Blumberg): “Despite repeated doses of medicine from central banks, short-term lending markets around the world are struggling again. In both Europe and the U.S., the rates that banks charge each other for short-term loans remain elevated, a sign of how cautious banks still are about using their capital. In other markets, investors are signaling distress at banks. For example, the cost to buy insurance against a bank debt default is soaring, in some cases to more than 20 times the cost last summer.”

    March 6 – Bloomberg (Joseph Galante and Edward Evans): “Carlyle Group’s publicly traded mortgage bond fund failed to meet margin calls and said it received a notice of default as banks call in loans against even the highest-rated bonds… The Carlyle fund raised $300 million in July and used loans to buy about $22 billion of AAA rated agency mortgage securities issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, securities that have the ‘implied guarantee’ of the U.S. government, according to Carlyle. ‘The credit crisis is spilling over to the next asset class, agency bonds,’ said Philip Gisdakis, senior credit strategist at UniCredit SpA in Munich. ‘There’s never just one cockroach. If you see one highly leveraged hedge fund going bust, then there’s another on the way.’”

    March 5 – Bloomberg (Jody Shenn): “The extra yield that investors demand to own agency mortgage-backed securities over 10-year U.S. Treasuries reached the highest since 1986… The difference in yields on the Bloomberg index for Fannie Mae’s current-coupon, 30-year fixed-rate mortgage bonds and 10- year government notes widened about 12 basis points, to 215 basis points, or 79 basis points higher than Jan. 15… Some owners have been selling the debt ‘to make room for the cheaper alternatives or to lighten up because they anticipated further unraveling’ in the financial markets, UBS AG analysts led by Laurie Goodman wrote… Agency securities, which are guaranteed by government-chartered companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac or federal agency Ginnie Mae, were the ‘most liquid’ bonds they could sell, they wrote. Spreads are also widening as ‘hedge funds continue to de- lever,’ or scale back bond-secured borrowing… Banks and securities firms are raising the collateral they require on loans or taking other steps that discourage borrowing…”

    March 4 – The Wall Street Journal (Lingling Wei): “Overwhelmed by margin calls from its creditors, home-mortgage lender Thornburg Mortgage Inc. said it has to sell assets or raise capital to stay in business. The news knocked off more than half of the market value of the company, which is structured as a real-estate-investment trust, and it dragged down shares of other mortgage lenders. It also raised fears that Thornburg would join hundreds of other nonbank home-mortgage lenders and brokers that have gone out of business over the past year. While most of the others were subprime lenders, Thornburg specializes in selling ‘jumbo’ mortgages…”

    March 5 – Bloomberg (Michael McDonald): “Auction-rate bond failures show no sign of abating after investors abandoned the market for variable-rate municipal securities. Almost 70% of the periodic auctions in the $330 billion market failed this week as investment banks stopped buying the securities investors didn’t want. Yields on the debt averaged 6.52% as of Feb. 28, up from 3.63% before demand evaporated in January… ‘Even if the auction-rate market survives, we’re not going to see the kind of rates we’re used to,’ said Roger Roux, chief financial officer at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, which spent an additional $940,000 on its auction bonds since rates reset as high as 15% last month.”

    March 5 – Dow Jones (Michael Aneiro): “On Tuesday, a consortium of bankers gathered in New York to try to prevent an ailing Alabama municipality’s finances from disappearing down its own sewer system. Jefferson County, Ala. is in talks to refinance its sewer revenue debt, which include interest rate swap agreements it entered with four banks: Bank of America, Bear Stearns, JPMorgan Chase and Lehman Brothers. In the wake of recent credit market problems, the terms of those swaps agreements mean the county is on the hook for a $184 million collateral payment that must be made by March 7. Adding to the county’s woes, Moody’s…followed Standard & Poor’s and cut to junk status its underlying rating on Jefferson County’s $3.2 billion in outstanding sewer revenue bonds…. If the county is unable to negotiate a rescue plan this week, it could result in the largest-ever municipal default, roughly double the size of the infamous Orange County, California, debt default in 1994.”

    March 3 – Bloomberg (Pierre Paulden): “Distressed debt levels have risen to the highest since August 2003 as investor fears of increased defaults amid a slowing economy fuel a flight from high-yield, high-risk assets. At the end of February about $180 billion of junk bonds, or 24.8% of the market, traded at more than 1,000 basis points above U.S. Treasuries, compared with $8 billion a year earlier, JPMorgan Chase & Co. analysts…led by Peter Acciavatti said… The dollar value of bonds that traded at or below 70 cents on the dollar is up 93% since the start of the year to $70.2 billion. Twelve companies with high-risk loans have already defaulted this year…”

    March 5 – The Wall Street Journal Europe (Joellen Perry): “Fears that stalked European credit markets last year, pushing money market interest rates higher and prompting major central bank interventions, are back. Longer-term European money-market rates, elevated since the start of the year, are rising sharply. On Wednesday, rates at which euro-zone banks lend to each other for three months hit 4.398%, above the ECB’s 4% policy rate and their highest since Jan. 18… Longer-term rates are rising despite ECB policy makers’ ongoing efforts to maintain market calm in the three-month market.”

    March 4 – Bloomberg (Lukanyo Mnyanda): “The difference in yield between Italian 10-year bonds and benchmark German bunds increased to the most in almost a decade as slumping stock markets prompted investors to shun all but the safest government debt.”

    March 4 – Bloomberg (Lester Pimentel): “Emerging-market bond sales plunged 65% this year as mounting subprime mortgage losses dried up demand for higher-yielding debt. Developing-nation debt issuance totaled $15.5bn in the first two months of this year, David Spegel, head of emerging-markets strategy…at ING Bank NV, said…”

    March 3 – Bloomberg (Hamish Risk): “Derivative trading fell 21% to $539 trillion in the fourth quarter, the biggest drop in at least 14 years, as the freeze in money markets reduced the need to hedge risks, the Bank for International Settlements said. Interest-rate futures, contracts designed to speculate on or hedge against moves in borrowing rates, led the fall in exchange- traded contracts with a 25% decrease to $405 trillion during the three months ended Dec. 31…”
    Currency Watch:

    March 4 – Bloomberg (Sandrine Rastello and Meera Louis): “European finance ministers said they are ‘increasingly concerned’ the euro’s advance to a record against the dollar risks deepening the economic slowdown in the region… ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet, who initially declined to comment yesterday, turned back to reporters to say that the U.S. government’s ‘strong dollar’ policy is ‘very important.’ ‘In the present circumstances, I consider very important what has been affirmed and reaffirmed by the U.S. authorities, including the secretary of the Treasury and the president of the United States of America, according to whom a strong-dollar policy is in the interests of the United States,’ Trichet said.”

    The dollar index declined 0.9%, ending the week at 73.03. For the week on the upside, the Swiss franc gained 1.7%, the British pound 1.5%, the Taiwanese dollar 1.2%, the Euro 1.0%, the Danish krone 1.0%, and the Japanese yen 0.8%. On the downside, the South African rand declined 3.4%, the New Zealand dollar 1.6%, the Australian dollar 1.4%, the Mexican peso 1.2%, the Brazilian real 1.1%, and the South Korean won 1.0%.

  • Persona

    I’m sorry if people here don’t understand how serious the situation is.I take the liberty of reproducing some things that Prof Nouriel Roubini has to say about the present credit situation…we are on the cusp of a very important event….the rapid unravelling of the credit and finance markets…..i hope Chris Rose bears with me on this one…i think its extremely relevant to the discussion.

    Risk of a systemic crisis is rising: the markets are becoming “utterly unhinged”, the financial system is “broken” and “everybody’s in de-levering mode”
    Nouriel Roubini | Mar 06, 2008

    I have been away from blogging most of the week as I have been traveling to Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia, Dubai and Turkey.

    Certainly concerns about the US economy, the credit crunch, the stability of the US financial system and the plunging value of the dollar are rising even among official authorities (central banks and sovereign wealth funds) that I have met in region in recent days.

    Here are some of the spreading financial concerns and rising risks in financial markets…

    My 12 steps scenario to a systemic financial crisis is becoming more likely by the day. First of all, credit losses are spreading in every corner of the financial system and the credit crunch is getting more severe by the day. We are also observing a return of the liquidity crunch as interbank spreads are widening again.

    And this time around central banks will be less likely to control such spread via massive liquidity injections as such spreads are now reflecting more widening credit premia that central banks cannot control than widening liquidity premia that central banks can partially control. Now the liquidity and credit crunch in the muni bonds market, the TOB and ARS markets is becoming more severe. And as I argued in my previous piece the seizure of the market for state and local government debt reflects in part a significant increase in the actual risk that local government will default.

    Indeed, local governments that are rapidly losing their tax base (as fees from developers collapse and property taxes plunge) are having massive problems in cutting spending: a lot of such spending in on the salaries of unionized public employees. And local governments having to choose between firing such employees and defaulting on their debt will choose to default. In my last column I reported on the default risk in Jefferson County. And today Bloomberg reported that:

    Alabama County Won’t Pledge $184 Million for Swaps

    Jefferson County, Alabama, in a move that may cost it $184 million, said it wouldn’t pledge reserves against $5.4 billion of interest-rate swaps tied to sewer debt that its bankers may demand. Jefferson County, where Birmingham is located, faced a March 7 deadline to put up the $184 million in collateral or buy insurance to meet its obligations to JPMorgan Chase & Co. and three other banks on 13 swaps after its sewer debt was downgraded by Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s Investors Service.

    “The county commission faces difficult decisions on the sewer system debt. However, these decisions will not be made at the expense of the county’s employees,” Jefferson County Commission President Bettye Fine Collins wrote in a memo to the workers. (bold emphasis added) While Collins said filing for bankruptcy was an option, “its not something that they’re considering,” said Leigh Butler, a Collins aide. The county will not cut jobs, dip into its pension fund or curb health and other benefits to generate cash to bail out the sewer system, Collins wrote to employees.

    Jefferson County, its interest expense on $3 billion in floating-rate obligations skyrocketing, is caught in a faltering credit market that has more than doubled costs for many borrowers in the municipal-bond market. Investors are no longer willing to trust much of the insurance backing the bonds, as the guarantors face subprime mortgage losses, leaving the county paying interest rates as high as 10 percent.

    Ditto for the case of city of Vallejo that is also on the verge of default. As reported by Bloomberg under the headline California City Moves Closer to Bankruptcy Filing :

    Vallejo, a city of 135,000 outside of San Francisco, moved closer to bankruptcy after negotiations with its labor unions collapsed.

    Bondholders will likely be asked to sacrifice some of their investment if the city seeks bankruptcy protection, an attorney for the municipality said last night. Vallejo faces ballooning labor costs and declining housing-related sales-tax revenue, leaving budget officials projecting that money will run out within weeks.

    The city council is scheduled to consider a resolution tomorrow to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection, after negotiations with labor unions to win salary concessions broke down Monday. (bold emphasis added)

    Vallejo is the first of many cities and local governments in California and the West that are under serious fiscal strain and likely to default rather than having public employees take a wage or job hit. The Jefferson Country Commission President was quite explicit on this. This attitude will be the root of the coming local government defaults. As he put it: “However, these decisions will not be made at the expense of the county’s employees…” Note he did not even bother to say “the county’s citizens and employees”; he only spoke of the “employees”. This answers the question where the loyalty of such local politician resides: certainly they could not care less about bondholders. Also, it might be difficult for elected State judges to take harsh action against municipal entities against a strong stand by the local officials.

    Add to all of this turmoil and credit woes the spread of the liquidity and credit crunch even to the previously super-safe agency debt. As reported by Bloomberg:

    Agency Mortgage-Bond Spreads Rise; Markets `Utterly Unhinged’ By Jody ShennMarch 6 (Bloomberg) —

    Yields on agency mortgage-backed securities rose to a new 22-year high relative to U.S. Treasuries as banks stepped up margin calls and concerns grew that the Federal Reserve may be unable to curb the credit slump. The difference in yields, or spread, on the Bloomberg index for Fannie Mae’s current-coupon, 30-year fixed-rate mortgage bonds and 10-year government notes widened about 21 basis points, to 237 basis points, the highest since 1986 and 103 basis points higher than on Jan. 15. The spread helps determine the interest rate homeowners pay on new prime mortgages of $417,000 or less.

    The markets have become “utterly unhinged,” William O’Donnell, a UBS AG government bond strategist in Stamford, Connecticut, wrote in a note to clients today. A lack of liquidity has “led to stunning air-pockets in price levels.” Investors are realizing that banks have little room to make new investments amid rising losses and a flood of unwanted assets, said Scott Simon, head of mortgage-backed bonds at Pacific Investment Management Co. The world’s top banks have reported more than $181 billion in asset writedowns and losses, been stuck with $160 billion of leveraged buyout loans, and bailed out $159 billion of structured investment vehicles.

    “Everything is telling you the financial system is broken,” Simon, whose Newport Beach, California-based unit of Allianz SE manages the world’s largest bond fund, said in a telephone interview today. “Everybody’s in de-levering mode.” (bold emphasis added)

    So loaded terms like markets becoming “utterly unhinged” and the financial system being “broken” are now becoming common.

    Add to this utter financial mess the loan defaults by Thornburg Mortgage Inc. and a Carlyle Group bond fund (Carlyle Capital Corp.) after they failed to meet margin calls. Carlyle Capital Corp. is the publicly traded mortgage bond fund of the second largest private equity firm. If a group like the Carlyle one is unwilling to rescue one of its bond funds what does this signals about the reputation and financial problems of such private equity funds?

    In the meanwhile the market delusion that the monolines’ necessary and unavoidable downgrade can be avoided is rapidly eroding. As reported by Bloomberg:

    Ambac to Sell Half the Company; Bet May Not Pay Off (Update7) March 6 (Bloomberg) —

    Ambac Financial Group Inc., the bond insurer seeking capital to salvage its AAA credit rating, will sell half the company in a bet some investors said won’t pay off. Ambac said yesterday it plans to issue $1 billion of common stock, more than doubling the number of shares outstanding. The New York-based company will also offer $500 million of units that convert to shares in 2011. Investors had anticipated Ambac would be bailed out by banks, which would pledge their own funds to support a capital raising of as much as $3 billion, enough to overcome record losses on subprime-mortgage debt. Instead, the company announced it would raise half that amount in a transaction that would push down the value of its stock. “The new offering is highly diluting to existing shareholders,” said Jim Ryan, an insurance analyst at Morningstar Inc., said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. “The market was looking for a backstop, to say the least.” …

    “Based on our estimate that Ambac will eventually absorb about $11 billion of losses from insured CDOs and mortgage-backed securities related exposures, $1.5 billion of new capital at first blush does not seem like enough to fix the capital adequacy problem,” Andrew Wessel, an analyst at JPMorgan Securities in New York, said in a March 6 research report. CDOs, or collateralized debt obligations, package pools of securities then split them into pieces with different ratings.

    $1.5 billion of new capital to cover at least $11 billionof losses? Which investors do credit rating agencies think they are going to fool again after reaffirming their AAA rating of MBIA and Ambac? Do they think that investors are that stupid or naïve?

    So given this increasing mess it is no wonder that US equity markets fell by more than 2% today and they are now at risk of a crack as investors’ nervousness is surging. In my 12 step scenario analysis I pointed out how a falling stock market, rising margin calls and fire sales in illiquid markets could lead to a vicious circle of cascading asset prices well below market fundamentals and further financial distress:

    Tenth, stock markets in the US and abroad will start pricing a severe US recession – rather than a mild recession – and a sharp global economic slowdown. The fall in stock markets – after the late January 2008 rally fizzles out – will resume as investors will soon realize that the economic downturn is more severe, that the monolines will not be rescued, that financial losses will mount, and that earnings will sharply drop in a recession not just among financial firms but also non financial ones. A few long equity hedge funds will go belly up in 2008 after the massive losses of many hedge funds in August, November and, again, January 2008. Large margin calls will be triggered for long equity investors and another round of massive equity shorting will take place. Long covering and margin calls will lead to a cascading fall in equity markets in the US and a transmission to global equity markets. US and global equity markets will enter into a persistent bear market as in a typical US recession the S&P500 falls by about 28%.

    Eleventh, the worsening credit crunch that is affecting most credit markets and credit derivative markets will lead to a dry-up of liquidity in a variety of financial markets, including otherwise very liquid derivatives markets. Another round of credit crunch in interbank markets will ensue triggered by counterparty risk, lack of trust, liquidity premia and credit risk. A variety of interbank rates – TED spreads, BOR-OIS spreads, BOT – Tbill spreads, interbank-policy rate spreads, swap spreads, VIX and other gauges of investors’ risk aversion – will massively widen again. Even the easing of the liquidity crunch after massive central banks’ actions in December and January will reverse as credit concerns keep interbank spread wide in spite of further injections of liquidity by central banks.

    Twelfth, a vicious circle of losses, capital reduction, credit contraction, forced liquidation and fire sales of assets at below fundamental prices will ensue leading to a cascading and mounting cycle of losses and further credit contraction. In illiquid market actual market prices are now even lower than the lower fundamental value that they now have given the credit problems in the economy. Market prices include a large illiquidity discount on top of the discount due to the credit and fundamental problems of the underlying assets that are backing the distressed financial assets. Capital losses will lead to margin calls and further reduction of risk taking by a variety of financial institutions that are now forced to mark to market their positions. Such a forced fire sale of assets in illiquid markets will lead to further losses that will further contract credit and trigger further margin calls and disintermediation of credit. The triggering event for the next round of this cascade is the downgrade of the monolines and the ensuing sharp drop in equity markets; both will trigger margin calls and further credit disintermediation.

    So, based on the events of this past week we are already close to steps 10 through 12 of my systemic financial crisis scenario…The trigger for this further stock market crack may be a much worse than expected employment report tomorrow Friday. So – to paraphrase Bette Davis in “All About Eve” fasten your seat belts as the it’s gonna be a bumpy ride in the next few days and weeks…

  • Persona

    who’d want to pick up our gas-guzzling shoddily designed cars?…General Motors and Ford are deeply in the red….and Ruvy is right…you want to start from the basics…the platform is made of rotten timbers….you want to return to the US manufacturing on a large scale…hell!..you need money for that..where do you borrow money from???..only the banks…who are tightening their lending and hoarding on cash..all because of our credit crunch….which is the result of economic blowback..just think about this….the rates at which municipalities borrow has climbed to 20%!…

    you guys have some hope

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    That’s where its wealth came from in the first place – not from bits of paper being traded on Wall St.

    We agree on where wealth comes from.

    But Stan, you’re talking about building a platform from rotten timbers. I’ve got to admire that sunny optimism of yours, but your idea is fifty years too late – even for hard working immigrants who want to build a dream.

    Heh! They’d be better off in Australia – running a gang!

    That is the essential theme of the article, Stan – America in Decline…..

  • STM

    That’s my point Ruvy. The falling dollar sets a platform for a return to US manufacturing on a giant scale … something it does very well.

    That’s where its wealth came from in the first place – not from bits of paper being traded on Wall St.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Stan,

    I suppose you could do an internet search and dig up all the products Americans make (like Amana refrigerators, IH tractors or yachts), but the truth of the matter is America just does not produce enough anymore. Too much is produced in Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, China, all at slave wages – or no wages at all!

    And the Americans have spent themselves into a hole they cannot dig themselves out of….

  • STM

    Persona: “Buying goods manufactured in the U.S….and what are those goods pray?…..”

    Motor vehicles for a start.

    With the dollar down against the euro, Americans would be smart to buy American-manufactured vehicles again instead of cars imported from Japan or Europe.

    Motor vehicles includes farm machinery and trucks.

    On that note, American-manufactured cars haven’t been seen in Australia or New Zealand since the 1960s, but are now starting to return as the $A and $NZ climb against the greenback.

    That involves considerable finiancial input from Detroit in what is a competitive market – Australia has its own very good motor vehicle design and manufacturing industry – as cars in the antipodes drive on the left, which means steering wheels have to be reconfigured for right-hand drive.

    That’s not cheap and at least Detroit is making an effort to build its export markets outside the western hemisphere and the mid-east. It’s those kinds of things the US is starting to do, but it wouldn’t have been competitive a few years ago because of the respective values of the currencies.

    All is not doom and gloom persona. Lower value currency on the international market is only a problem when you travel outside your own country, and has all kinds of benefits for export and manufacturing.

    Unlike Americans who don’t seem to know how this stuff works globally, Australians are praying that the $A dollar falls again against the $US and the Euro.

    Things were far better for the average Joe Blow when that was the case, especially given that even low-level underlying inflation can be a downside of a very strong economy, which is what is happening Down Under.

    One of the spin-offs from that is mortgage interest rates have risen 12 times to 9 per cent in the past five years as the Reserve Bank tries to slow the economy down.

    The US has the opposite problem, and the sub-prime crisis is not the cause of it. It’s a drastic indicator of underlying problems in the US mostly related to balance of trade and budgets in the red.

  • Persona

    Ah Ruvy….the pussy economy to the rescue…heyyyy..now why didn’t we think of that?….maybe all that business should be conducted in all those foreclosed homes which could be leased out by the banks for this purpose….y’know they could recover what the’ve put in;)…..for the really high-end customers perhaps Clavos could in the same spirit of patriotism lend one of his boats….we could anchor his yachts just out from the coast…..the new “off-shoring”;)….very good Ruvy!!

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Buying goods manufactured in the U.S….and what are those goods pray?

    Persona,

    How about selling sex? You know, since Madison Avenue has used sex to soak you all dry, why not offer the real thing to foreigners visiting your shores, and soak them dry – in every sense of the word?

    America has lots of nine year old, ten year old and twelve year old kids sexualized by Madison Avenue and the entertainment industry. Why not recruit them in a patriotic crusade to out-fuck the Filipinas, Thais, Cubans – you name ’em! Medicare could be expanded to include plastic surgery to make every male and female willing to serve in such a patriotic crusade a Venus or an Adonis to seduce guys and gals living overseas (we won’t mention names to protect the yet innocent).

    Since the only other thing you guys do is make cars and car parts, you can use cars as payment to the lucky teens who get to screw the most foreigners and bring in the most of those undervalued dollars back to your own shores. The Saudis, Japanese, and Chinese (the folks holding the undervalued dollars) will love it!!

    American women are beautiful, and dress like whores – why shouldn’t they be whores? That is how lots of Arab men think, you know.

    After all, don’t all Americans look like the actors on Smallville?

    This is not entirely a satirical or sarcastic suggestion. When the Russians cut Cuba out of their supply line, Castro did almost exactly what I outlined above…

    Soon it may be your turn.

  • Persona

    Buying goods manufactured in the U.S….and what are those goods pray?…..ever since we started outsourcing and off-shoring we have have only managed to destroy american jobs and our manufacturing base.which industry or sector is going to turn it around??

  • STM

    Bliffle, the falling dollar has helped US industry and exports.

    That’s a fact.

    When you’ve got the highest-valued currency in the world, it’s not very attractive to other countries to buy your goods.

    It’s also a lot easier for Americans to buy goods from overseas that are produced with cheap labour and bought with a high-value greenback against a weaker foreign currency.

    By patently not understanding this basic tenet of Dave’s argument, you obviously don’t know much about how global trade works.

    I’ll agree that a lot of what Dave says is, in my opinion, bollocks … but not all of it.

    In this case, he happens to be dead right.

    The falling dollar might actually be America’s way out of its current malaise as people once more start buying goods produced in the US.

    And I believe much of the reason for America’s problem is not Bush’s fiscal policy but Wall Street’s machinations.

    In regard to those who trade currency: By propping up the dollar at an unreasonable level to benefit a few (ie, themselves), they have harmed hundreds of millions of their fellow Americans.

    “King dollar” was a myth perpetuated on Wall St, and a dangerous one. It’s now seen for what it really is as the dollar is corrected and settles to the level it should have been long ago.

  • Persona

    Robert Samuelson also adds in that piece..”To be sure, all this weakens the economy. No one relishes evicting hundreds of thousands of families from their homes. Eroding real estate values make many consumers less willing to borrow and spend….”

    This subprime crisis is not just about fre-falling home prices…its tied in in with the banking and finacial industry which have securitised all these mortgages.Lax lending standards,Unregulated financial innovation and a rating industry in bed with the rated parties has resulted in a credit crunch which now assumes astronomical proportions…some estimates say as much as 17% of U.S G.D.P….that is no small amount by any stretch of the imagination…what are the costs of a systemic break down of the banking and finacial industry?….what are the costs of a bail out?…why should there be a bail out?….why should we privatise profit during times of excess and socialise risk when things get out of hand because of outright fraud and greed?

    It is simplistic to say that falling home prices are good..Has anyone considered the cost of this mess that we are into?…Professor Nouriel Roubini seems to do so..
    The Staggering Fiscal Costs of Bailing Out a Financial System in Crisis

  • This thread is fascinating.

    Every few weeks it abruptly explodes into a frenzy of finger-pointing and acrimony, then goes back to sleep.

    I can’t think of another thread that’s been sustained for quite this long, except maybe the Harley-Davidson one.

  • Clavos

    From an opinion piece by Robert Samuelson published in today’s WaPo:

    “Though cruel, foreclosures and falling home values have the virtue of bringing prices to a level where housing can escape its present stagnation. Helping today’s homeowners makes little sense if it penalizes tomorrow’s homeowners. An unstoppable free-fall of prices seems unlikely. Slumping home construction and sales have left much pent-up demand. What will release that demand are affordable prices.”

  • Clavos

    “but until you can come up with some facts on your own, you’re kind of stuck with nothing but unsubstantiated personal attacks like your last comment.”

    Bliffle never substantiates. All he ever does is post long, rambling anecdotal assertions with no attributions, links or sources for his bizarre claims.

  • Bliffle, that’s such utter biased bullshit that you ought to be ashamed of yourself. I’m hardly a defender of the Bush administration, and when I provide facts they are hard facts and backed up. I guess you feel frustrated by that, but until you can come up with some facts on your own, you’re kind of stuck with nothing but unsubstantiated personal attacks like your last comment.

    Not agreeing with you doesn’t make me a liar, but stating blatant untruths about me makes you exactly that.

    Dave

  • bliffle

    Dave often makes astonishing statements, often citing ‘facts’ that are simply untrue. For example, only a few weeks ago he was denying any devaluation of the dollar, but that was before he flip-flopped and decided it was a brilliant Bush strategy.

    I’ve decided that, for myself, he is simply untrustworthy and unreliable. I can’t believe what he says.

    This statement of his may reveal the cause of his unreliability:

    “The truth is that the weak dollar has done more for US industry and business and workers than any bailout or protectionism or union empowerment plan ever to come out of the left.”

    His obvious bias to the Bush administration, whatever political ideology THAT may represent beyond “me first”, colors everything he says.

    My recommendation: don’t believe anything Dave says.

  • Persona

    And Nalle said..”As for the ‘housing bubble’, it’s not bursting. Every expert seems to agree that the adjustments are short-term, and the impact of artifically low interest rates wore off quite a while ago….”

    Hmmmm….look at this..
    Families Flock to Foreclosure Fairs

  • STM

    Clears that up then …

  • Les Slater

    STM,

    “…while it looks OK on paper…”

    I wasn’t saying anything looked OK, I was just pointing out that the statistics I have are quite different than Dave’s. The statistics I have undercut his conclusions.

    “It’s still a deficit though…”

    Yes, and as I’ve pointed out in my #573, have been so since the 70’s. At present, at least as of November 2007, the ratio of imports to exports was 1.44, a clear deficit.

    Les

  • STM

    It’s still a deficit though less, and what you have to remember is this: many unprofitable US industries and farmers have been propped up by tariffs and incentive paid for by the taxpayer.

    That doesn’t help much, because while it looks OK on paper, in reality it’s something very different.

  • Les Slater

    Dave,

    Your numbers may be entirely correct but are different than those I have. I checked the figures that I have on an old spreadsheet of mine and find that from 1960 to 1970 the U.S. generally had a trade surplus. As we get into the 70’s there’s definitely a deficit, however through 1983, never at a ratio of more than 1.22. Between 84 and 87 it was around 1.4, settling down to no more than 1.27 through 2001, and then between 1.42 and 1.56 through 2006, which was the end of my spreadsheet. I checked figures for November 2007 and found $142.3B for exports and $205.4 B for imports, giving us a ratio of 1.44.

    Les

  • No one ever seems to talk about the balance of trade figures when the economy is on the table, but throughout my life imports have been a minimum of twice as high as exports and often much more. Well right now we’re within a stone’s throw of import/export parity, which we haven’t had since the 1960s. Yes, it’s hard on our trading partners, but I’m shedding few tears for Japanese heavy industry.

    The truth is that the weak dollar has done more for US industry and business and workers than any bailout or protectionism or union empowerment plan ever to come out of the left.

    Dave

  • STM

    Troll, it’s not a joke. The strong dollar was partly responsible for the US balance of trade deficit and the US being in the red. It’s not a good thing.

    As can be seen from the fallout. Propping it up artificially for so long through the machinations on Wall St did no favours to the United States.

    Some of America’s best-known finance gurus have known the truth for some time, and have seen the fall coming.

    However, many don’t think there will be a recession.

  • troll

    gee – with all of the motivational benefits that will come with a weakened US dollar it’s a wonder that anyone ever advocated a strong one

  • STM

    Thanks Dave,

    Believe it or not, while it was bad for my going-on-holiday exchange rate (and having had two overeseas trips in the past few months, including one to Europe, where I was grateful that my buck got more bang both against the Euro and the Thai Baht) things are not as rosey as they were when our dollar was worth less.

    Because we have underlying inflation here driven by the rising dollar, a very strong economy and a dependence on mining and minerals exports feeding the Asian powerhouses, it would be far better for our ecomony for the $A to be worth LESS against the $US dollar. As I say, having lived through a time when it bought be only 60 cents US, it was a drama going overseas. But at home it made no difference.

    People drove Australian cars, or cars imported from countries like Spain, Japan, South Africa and Thailand, where the economies were stacked up more evenly against ours, and bought mostly goods grown and produced in Australia. Petrol was cheap, too, so it was all good. I actually think my buck went further than it does now.

    My mortgage rate has now risen to 9 per cent, which is a spin off of the rising $A and an economy growing too quickly. This is the Reserve Bank’s attempt to slow growth.

    Most Americans don’t realise that the lowering of the $US could actually bring huge benefits to the United States, of the kind not seen for years, at least once the dust settles – especioally if Americans get in there, roll their sleeves up, and start doing what they do best.

    Take my tip … the fervent hope in Australia is that the US dollar goes up against ours. We want ours to be worth less, not more.

  • Stan, it’s refreshing to see a comment from someone who actually knows what the hell they are talking about and doesn’t just repeat someone else’s talking points.

    They refuse to believe it from me, but maybe from someone outside the US it will be more convincing.

    Dave

  • STM

    Persona: If you think the falling dollar is a major problem for the US, with respect you don’t know much about the basics of how economies work. First, it won’t affect the average American (those who aren’t buying imported luxury goods from Europe and Japan) and your dollar will still buy as much as it did at the supermarket or the car yard or the real-estate agents a year ago provided you buy (North) American goods and produce.

    I will give you some examples:

    The big problem for the dollar was always that it was artificially inflated by the goings on in Wall St and driven by a culture of greed, and that US exports were protected by tariffs and therefore while looking profitable on paper, were actually costing the US economy and made US manufacturing and producing for export totally not viable. The fall in the dollar is not huge, in terms of currency fluctuations, and was the correction it had to have. It simply takes it down to where it should have been for a long time.

    When you are trying to slow an economy down and reduce inflation, interest rates invariably go up in concert with other factors like debt exposure by the banks – especially mortgage interest rates. In the US, many companies have paid lower wages to workers in a bid to compete on world markets, so the fall in the dollar and a corresponding increase in exports may ultimately lead to some general wage rises in the US that increase spending a little.

    The other upside: America’s problems are partly a result of an inability to compete in simple cost terms in global manufacturing, so any fall in the dollar helps reinvigorate export markets.

    As an example: rather than rely on exports, and because of its geographical isolation, Australia has largely produced its own motor vehicles since the late 1940s, and very few American cars were seen in the road since the 1960s.

    In the past year, as the US dollar drops and the Australian dollar rises, US-built cars are returning to Australia and New Zealand in numbers, and Detroit must feel it’s worthwile as Australians and Kiwis drive on the left, which means all cars exported there must be reconfigured to right-hand drive – no small investment because it means retooling production lines.

    American fruits and produce are in the supermarkets in the off-season when they aren’t grown Down Under, and the prices are good.

    So it’s the opposite side of the coin: while the $A continues to climb to near parity with the $US, Australians realise, unlike many Americans, that it is not really a good thing because it affects exports, leads to inflation, and the Reserve Bank of Australia, in trying to rein in consumer spending and slow down the economy, has veen forced to lift interest rates, which affects the average Joe. The Australian economy is affected by a budget surplus, while such domestic insanity in the US as massive taxcuts at the top end offered by the Bush administration and a budget in the red have affected the US.

    The fall in the greenback may be just the thing the US needed to kick-start its ailing export industries, and these are the things that made the US wealth in the first place. I notice that US interest rates are currently right down.

    If I’m not wrong, Americans are renowned for getting going when the going gets tough so there’s that aspect too that will work in your favour.

    It’s an absence of those other factors, not sub-prime mortgage crises and credit squeezes, or a long war in Iraq (America has traditionally grown stronger in time of war) that has really knocked the US economy in the long term. The credit squeeze has just highlighted the problems inherent in the US economy, and some that are made worse by Bush’s policies.

    Simply, it hasn’t been able to compete on global markets in most areas except in those industries the US government props up with generous tariffs.

    Also, it’s worth noting that while currencies like the Euro and the British pound are worth more than the dollar, the average worker over there gets a lot less of ’em in his or pay packet.

    When you add it all up, taking into consideration factors like buying-power parity, earnings and the cost of living, it still works out that the middle-class in the US are still slightly better off, or at the very least, not worse off.

    The only problem comes when you go on vacation there and your buck doesn’t stretch the way it did. But like I say, that was just a bonus for people with a dollar set artificially at too high a level for too long.

    King dollar was a myth, and a foolish one, and you are now seeing the result of the thinking.

  • Persona

    #563…”That’s the way to tell the government what you think..”…its also time to tell them to stop the dollar from sinking further..take a look at this..

    “Euros Accepted” signs pop up in New York City

  • BE
  • STM

    Doc: “Andrew, have you ever taken a wander through the gloriously fake streets of the Paris casino in Las Vegas, where an after-dinner mint will set you back about $20?”

    I have spoken to Americans who are certain this kind of thing gives them a taste of euro-kulcha (or Egyptian :).

    I see it more as an American cultural experience, however.

    Fascinating stuff, though, and fun.

  • STM

    Andrew: “america’s problems aren’t all brought about by the republicans, nor is it all the democrats. the system is breaking.”

    Bingo. Lobby groups and big-dollar donations to political parties (how DO they get around McCain-Fiendgold??) have meant, at least in the past 60 years or so, that America is no longer really a democracy (in the modern sense of the word) as really two big parties only vy for the affections of the electorate, and the voice of the people isn’t really heard.

    I know people will want to dong me over the head for saying this, but it’s how I see it as an outside observer and keen America-watcher.

    The last time America was a democracy (in the modern sense) was in the 1960s (civil rights era) and the ’70s (Vietnam moratorium protests, and a press determined to inform the public and bury a corrupt president).

    And what a democracy it was. That’s the way to tell the government what you think.

    Unfortunately, and it’s a problem in Australia too, no matter who you vote for – politicians still get elected.

  • Andrew, have you ever taken a wander through the gloriously fake streets of the Paris casino in Las Vegas, where an after-dinner mint will set you back about $20?

    😀

  • STM

    But it’s at least good to see you coughed up a bit of your hard-earned Andrew and took the family somewhere else for a taste of a bit of european “kulcha”, as we say in Oz.

    We have been bemoaning here the fact that Americans aren’t great travellers, and therefore often don’t have much of an idea of what goes on outside America.

    If you want $1 cheeseburger value meals at McDonald’s (Maccas), come to Australia for your next holiday. Just stick your fingers in your ears so you can’t hear the accent, and pretend the cars are driving on the wrong side of the road like they do in the US, and voila! You’ll never know the difference!

    I do suggest taking a course in Australian as a second language, however, before hand.

    Failing that, catch up here by propping yourself at the bar of any pub. Within hours, it won’t matter who understands who, because everyone will be speaking gibberish anyway.

  • Andrew, I largely concur with your other comments. But you did come across as a whiny American tourist when you spoke of Europe, and being natives of that continent, Colin and I felt compelled to take issue with you.

    I’m glad that your experience of Europe was by and large good, and that you enjoyed it enough to want to go back.

    I didn’t realize La Boulangerie was a chain. We have one here in Fresno, California which is managed by a Frenchman. The food is French in style, but inauthentic in its mediocrity!

  • andrew b. lee

    i was exaggerate! letsee…when i was in paris, a hamburger cost about…3 euros. that’s about 6 american dollars. 6 dollars, 10 dollars, either way, its a lot more than 1 dollar!!!
    either way, we never bought “american” food while in europe.

  • andrew b. lee

    oh of course! the bakery items in europe are like NOTHING in america. le boulangerie, a supposedly french bakery chain store in america, is fraud!
    my family spent most of our time eating at family-run corner store delis. the store owners were very nice to us and with our language deficiencies and gave us more than we ordered, often giving us a little more than the kilogram or so we ordered of this and that.

    europe was great, and as a college studnet i’m actually planning to return for a study abroad program for the summer in either spain, greece, or germany.

    yes, my experience of europe was incomplete, of course.

    WHY IS EVERYONE ONLY POINTING OUT MY COMMENTS ON WHAT LITTLE I SAW OF EUROPE???

    does no one find my comments on the sins of being an ideologue compelling??? it doesn’t pay to always be conservative or liberal, right???

    yes, in order for society to function the citezenry must trust the government, but the citezenry’s duty is also to have a healthy cynicism along with an open mind.

    america’s problems aren’t all brought about by the republicans, nor is it all the democrats. the system is breaking.

  • STM

    Lol. A McDonald’s meal costs $10 in Europe. What a lot of rubbish. Where were you Andrew. The boutique burger bar on St Germain??

  • BTW, Andrew, inflation certainly seems to be galloping in Europe. A burger only cost $5 when you commented yesterday…

  • americans have things like dollar value meals at mcdonalds, while in europe a burger costs like, 10 bucks.

    Yeah, but, Andrew, you were in Europe. Of course American food is going to cost more than it does at home. It is, believe it or not, regarded as exotic!

    I do hope you at least sampled the local cuisine, rather than spending all your time scouring the continent for overpriced burgers, steaks and pizzas.

  • andrew b. lee

    and why did no one respond to my comment about loyalty to ideals and not ideology, parties, or institutions????

    doesn’t that comment resonate more than ‘america is a great place to live!’ ???

    what i’m trying to say is, all you ‘hardcore’ republicans and democrats, crawl out of your little ideological holes and use your heads, not the punchlines the politicians give you.

    jesus christ

  • andrew b. lee

    jesus christ. ok, i have been to europe this past summer with my family, just me, my brother, and my mother. we went to london, oxford university, and paris. and yes, we have found that a lot of the restaurants in downtown london and paris, where the tourists tend to congregate, charge for everything. i’m not saying that europe is crap. far from it. if i came across that way, my mistake, i was too hasty.

    i was just trying to balance out the dialogue a bit. one side accuses of people who support chalmers johnson’s positions that they hate america and that they should move away since they hate america so much and so forth.

    europe is gorgeous. europe has qualities that i think america will never have. however, europe also does not have some of the conveniences america has. i realize that my family and i were tourists in the big city (where things are usually expensive), but i also noted that things are different besides that.

    things, in general, are more expensive in europe. why? europe doesn’t have illegal immigrant mexicans that we can employ for 50 cents an hour, wich drives down costs. there are some things in europe that americans don’t have, like universal healthcare, and americans have things like dollar value meals at mcdonalds, while in europe a burger costs like, 10 bucks.

  • I’m distantly related to an Aussie cricketer – Neil Harvey…

    Although Wales have benefitted from it in the past I’m not great fan of the nationality changing stuff in Rugby. Thanks for the spelling correction Stan, shameful as he plays for my team, Glawster! And he’s been going great guns for us helping us to the top of the Premiership.

    In Wales’ favour is the arrival of Gatland – who’s talking a good game (although in that mumbly New Zealand way – open yer mouths ferchrissakes Kiwis!) and we’ve snagged Shaun Edwards as defensive coach. England think they’re cheese on toast at the moment and could be complacent whereas Wales have a lot to prove after the appalling world cup.

    Yer right Doc, a most sporting nation indeed… And the soap operas and actors and pop starlets do pretty well too (thanks to the stirling work of Sir Les Patterson I assume).

  • troll

    it was crude of me to bring it up…Chatham House rule and all

  • Clavos

    I knew there was some explanation…

  • troll

    well duh Dreadful old boy – you do realize that the Aussies are the result of a secret experiment in eugenics the brainchild of some decadent Royal and funded by the BoE ….don’cha – ?

  • In answer to troll’s query in #536 and supported by much of the subsequent discussion, I would have to say that in my view Australia’s primary – in fact, only – industry is sport.

    I mean, they have a population smaller than an Anglican church congregation yet are persistent world champions in several sports and are always to be found near the top of the Olympic and Commonwealth Games medals tables.

    Seriously, every second Aussie must be a world or Olympic champion in something.

  • I once got a free meal in a Chinese restaurant in Mayfair – owned, slightly bizarrely by a Serbian woman – by the simple means of bad-mouthing Croats as a bunch of Nazi supporting Catholics (something I’m not very proud of, and, yes, I was very, very drunk at the time)… There was an Oz teen soap that played on the immigrant issue rather well, I can’t remember the name now and it must be nearly 20 years ago when it was shown on the Beeb over here – it was very good and featured largely Greek and Italian second gen immigrant kids who played football, warring with native Australians who despised the game and played Aussie Rules and Rugby. Your kids might have seen it Stan, it was all based around a high school and much more hard hitting than the Neighbours, Home and Away styley thing.

  • Silver Surfer

    “WORLD HEADQUARTERS OF EVIL, or Twickenham.”

    Lol. You ain’t wrong there Colin.

    Yes, Gilly’s departure is a huge story here. Really, he is one of the best cricketers ever produced by this country.

    That rugby league bloke … Lesley Vainakolo?? He can play a bit, but he’ll try and do the pacific islander side-step (ie run straight over you).

    Shane Williams just needs to stand his ground and tackle him low … and that’ll be the end of Lesley (famous last words?).

    All the islanders and maori are tough bastards though, and the maori are tough bastards for the full 80 minutes and then for about 10 hours afterwards.

    I used to play against them. I always got smashed from one end of the park to the other.

    Could be a torrid afternoon at the HQ of evil.

  • Silver Surfer

    Mate, I think it was Greeks, Croats and Serbs – although the Greeks actually weren’t involved in the fighting but were booted out anyway cause they appeared to be involved. Well, that’s always on the cards. Good to see people moving to Australia to start new and better lives but forgetting to leave their old animosities at home.

    We’ve had some beauties, too … the best being a soccer match between a Croat team and a Serb team. In the end, and they were just like a lower suburban grade, they had to get the police in.

    Now one team I believe is banned from the competition completely and the other is under constant threat of being punted.

    Sometimes these guys are third-generation Australians, too. It’s a worry.

    But I guess the only reason they fit in is because they are as mad as the rest of us.

  • And what’s all this with the tennis hooligans (hoons even)? Bizarre in the extreme, I can’t imagine anyone fighting over tennis… Although from what was reported here it was nationality ruccus – Greeks V Serbs? I know you have a fair number of ex-Yugoslavs down there, Mark Viduka, the ex-Leeds and now Newcastle (via Boro) footballer came from a club called Melbourne Croatia I think.

  • Pretty good thanks Stan – my blog reports continued sobriety, which is odd! Isn’t the world bright!?!

    Six nations starts next week with a visit for the mighty Wales to WORLD HEADQUARTERS OF EVIL, or Twickenham.

    I’ve wrongly attributed the quote to George Orwell in the past, but I believe now that was liberal historian Arnold Toynbee who wrote (paraphrasing), “A bomb under the West Stand at Twickenham on international day would put the cause of facism in this country back a generation.”

    Now I live in Wales, I can really see the hot house the coach operates in – it’s front page news nearly every day. Gatland’s talking us up but I always fear the worst against the Saes and they’re sticking with much of the World Cup grizzled old bastards squad with some exciting young uns too. Hey ho. They’ve also snagged Vainakola (my spelling, completely wrong) “The Volcano”, a Tongan New Zealander rugby league convert who plays for my beloved Gloucester… I definitely fear him, he’s very much on the massive and extremely quick side – he may well tread poor little Shane Williams into the turf.

    Adam Gilchrist’s retirement’s quite big potatoes over here – a bit of a genius I must say. Super 14’s is only shown on Sattelite telly over here so I can’t watch it but I gather it’s a top notch competition.

  • Silver Surfer

    Doc: “the haggis”

    Och the noo Doc, the haggis isn’t that bad y’know. It tastes pretty damn good … it’s just the thought of what’s in it that turns most people off, but it’s not a bad feed.

    I’ll bet my balls that Robbie Burns wrote a poem about it. There’ll be one somewhere.

  • Silver Surfer

    G’day Colin.

    How are you bearing up old son??

    Yes, much uranium in the ground (lots of everything in the ground), and let’s hope the bastard stays there.

    One day, someone will work out how to use it properly and then we can get it. Until then, I say we leave it exactly where it is.

    Rugby season started today, BTW, kind of – it’s Australia Day (well, Saturday was) and NSW played Queensland in a Super 14 pre-season opener.

    NSW won, for a change. Queensland can lose nearly every game in the Super 14 but if they come out and beat NSW for their one victory in a season, they’ve had a good year.

    They really are all crackers up there. It’s the heat, you know.

    It fries their brains. White fellas aren’t meant to live in that kind of climate.

    I know, because all my immediate family are Queenslanders thanks largely to my not organising things very well.

  • Hey up Stan, hope yer well…
    Isn’t a lot of Uranium from a land down under?

  • Silver Surfer

    Troll: “surfer dude – what are Oz’ primary industries – ? (seriously…just wondering)”.

    What, apart from propping up breweries?

    OK … mining (gold, minerals, coal, etc), wool, beef, cotton, agriculture, food crops, running the gamut from tropical fruits in the north, to citrus fruits in the more arid areas, to an entire island state of orchards (Tasmania), fisheries and, believe it or not, motor-vehicle manufacturing, mainly.

    All of which bring in the big export bucks – we even export cars to the middle east and the US, rebadged though.

    The mining boom is being ridden on the back of exports for the Asian powerhouses. Iron ore is the big one. This continent is literally made of iron. That’s why our dust is red.

    We do OK for a small country, but apart from our mining and agriculture sectors, we are small players really.

  • Stereotypes indeed Clav. By the way, despite being extremely left wing by American standards I have not nor have I ever been (apart from one stoopid incident as a drunken student) anti-American – anti the American government on many an occasion but not the good people of the big ol’ place… Hell, almost all my heroes are yanks – writers, musicians, film directors, actors, political types and so on and so on. It’s such a huge mixture and melting pot that America can show hundreds of faces to the world and still hide so much. I’m old and wise enough now to realise that what the media, or Hollywood shows is but a sliver of a slice of a tranch of a snicket.
    I think there’s much in what Stan says (he is after all a fighting ossie so I’m not gonna disagree with him), the only places I’ve ever encountered American travellers (not settlers) has been in Ludnud and Oxford where they do tend to travel in packs.
    If there is a pub in Central Ludnud without an Australian somewhere on the premises, usually behind the bar I am yet to enter said pub.
    English teeth shouldn’t be bad, as until recently we had free dental care – I blame the Sex Pistols for that. The food is getting better. But most of us live in Castles still – I’m orf to beat some sense into the local dart-hurling peasantry shortly.

  • Well, I’d consider it a colony!

  • troll

    surfer dude – what are Oz’ primary industries – ? (seriously…just wondering)

  • Silver Surfer

    Rosey: “With only half the population of Europe in almost twice as much land area, it is practically unoccupied by my standards”.

    OK then Rosey, what would you consider (occupation wise) a country twice the size of Europe with only 20 million (very lucky) people living in it??

    Desolate?

    Or the quivalent of a roomful of bastards?

  • troll

    …yes they do and they should shut the @#%$# up

  • Silver Surfer

    You should agitate instead for compulsory voting, so the people actually DO have a voice 🙂

  • troll

    since spending some time as a ‘vagabond and drifter on the run’ (LG) as a kid I’ve developed an ambivalence about the voyeuristic nature of tourism to the extent that I resist going anywhere without a damned good reason and a personal invitation

    …probably oughta retire to a cave and recycle a stone for a few decades I guess

    (I would emerge at election times to agitate against voting of course)

  • Whilst there is not really any excuse for the kind of international ignorance which allegedly leads many US citizens to think of Paris, Texas, before Paris, France, it has to be remembered the US is a very large place.

    With only half the population of Europe in almost twice as much land area, it is practically unoccupied by my standards. Similarly, if you allow the notion that the European Union is one country, the number that have been “abroad” or need to own passports would be very much reduced.

    Most of my own travel has been within the EU and nowadays I could travel from the Atlantic shores of Ireland to the Russian border without producing a passport once.

  • STM

    Yes, I love American women too 🙂

    Why wouldn’t you???

  • I’ve not been anything like that lucky, Stan, but Americans will certainly fall over themselves for you once they hear a British or Aussie accent (which, BTW, they often can’t tell apart). I also get people – well, women – asking me simply to say something – “anything… just so I can listen to that accent”!

  • STM

    On Americans:

    The only two times, ever, anywhere, where I’ve been told by cabbies that they won’t accept my fare: New York and Miami.

    In New York, by an American guy who had lived in a nice beachside suburb of Sydney for 15 years (and who got me to JFK from downtown Manhattan in good time during rush-hour when I was running extremely late after sleeping in).

    He just wouldn’t take the money, and said he he was trying to talk his Aussie-born wife (who wanted to stay in NYC) into going back to Oz to live because he liked the outdoors lifestyle.

    In Miami, by a USN veteran who had been stationed in Australia during WWII. Not only did he refuse to take my money, which was a fair sum too as I’d caught the cab in South Beach across town to pick up mail from a friend of my father, he took me to to a great jewish deli on the way back where he bought me the best pastrami sandwich I’ve ever eaten.

    With the sandwich and a drink thrown in, that was about $50 for the return journey and the waiting time, which was a good whack of dough in 1980.

    He immediately recognised my accent and said: “You won’t be paying today”.

    That’s a fairly good indicator of what Americans are really like, in my experience.

    So to those who don’t know, I’d suggest: find out for yourself instead of repeating all the nonsense you read or hear. No it’s not perfect, but it’s not bad either – and a lot better than plenty of other places.

  • STM

    I will also here pour cold water on the mistaken belief that hardly any Americans hold passports.

    I have heard figures quoted as low as five per cent, which is bollocks, and has been touted as a reason why Americans don’t travel (except you haven’t needed a US passport to travel to a lot of neighbouring countries like Canada, Mexico, and the caribbean).

    The real figure is between 18-20 per cent, which isn’t that different to a lot of countries. (*Puffs chest out and tells punters the figure in Oz is about 50 per cent … well, we’re so isolated here in our extreme comfort at the arse-end of the world, you just have to travel to get any idea of what goes on elsewhere*)

    And the figure for Americans is a lot more than China 🙂

  • Clavos

    “However, I believe there is a mindset among many travelling Americans that comes from years of isolation and a certain insularity born of not having any need to know anything about anywhere else.”

    That’s it, in a nutshell.

    That also covers why most Americans are monolingual; more so than any other developed Western nation.

  • STM

    I don’t buy the notion that Americans are stupid.

    Far from it … you don’t get to be the most powerful country in the world by being collectively stupid.

    I have a plausible and simple theory about it all.

    Yes, Americans are big travellers, but not per capita.

    Those who do go overseas tend to go a fair bit … to Canada, Mexico, Central America, the caribbean, etc. A lot do go to Europe, too, granted.

    However, I believe there is a mindset among many travelling Americans that comes from years of isolation and a certain insularity born of not having any need to know anything about anywhere else.

    Thus, in my experience, Americans tend to travel in groups, and often on package tours, or they go to places that almost exclusively frequented by Americans. They also tend not to go backpacking around the world when they are young (there are of course always exceptions to the rule), and often don’t know very much about the places they do go to and because of the aforementioned, still don’t know much about those places when they get back.

    Which is a shame, really, as America and Americans generally (who I’ve found to be among the friendliest people on the planet, without doubt and Doc would back me up here I’m sure) have so much to offer the world, that not being interested in other places (apart from troop build-ups 🙂 except for superficial issues like how good the hotel is just works against America IMO.

    However, people who criticise America and Americans at least need to visit the US to see it for themselves. They won’t find much to dislike.

    It works both ways. As I’ve said before, contempt prior to investigation is a foolish thing.

  • Clavos

    Maybe we’re just stupid; though we go more than anyone else, we don’t learn from it…

  • Clavos

    Nonetheless, Stan, the point that started this part of the discussion is also true:

    Despite all the stereotypes about Americans and their ignorance (or perhaps it’s disinterest more than ignorance) of foreign countries, geography, etc., it’s a FACT (and has been for more than thirty years) that more Americans leave home to visit foreign countries annually than any other single nationality.

    And that’s without counting troops…:>)

  • STM

    Clav asks: “Do you Brits really have bad teeth? Is your cuisine that awful? Are the Germans really that dour?”

    Yes. All true, and well-travelled man that you are you know it, although the Poms do have better teeth these days. But the tucker … eeek!

    And those Germans. Yes, they are a dour lot mostly. My country: the ugly Aussie … loud mouthed, arrogant hot heads who drink too much and who’d prefer a punch-up to a feed if offered the choice – true again.

    It’s also true that MOST Americans (I’m not saying all) are geographically challenged. Passport ownership among US citizens is rare per capita, and MOST Americans would struggle to name five countries in Asia and Europe AND their capital cities, and what systems of government they have.

    There’s no excuse for it either, particularly given America’s place in the world. What it means, ultimately, is that MOST people who are able to vote in the US don’t have much of a clue as to how US policies affect the outside world, or indeed how many of those countries operate, whether they are allies of the US, or even where they are.

    Sorry Clav, but that stuff is true. I’ve experienced it first hand, but chose to keep my gob shut at the time as I didn’t want to offend anyone, because one failing Americans don’t have is a failure to be kind and hospitable.

    I realise these are generalisations, but a lot of generalisations do have some basis in fact.

  • I can’t speak for the Germans and Mexicans but…

    Let’s put it this way: I’ve seen some sets of teeth which… well, you could keep intruders out of your yard by cementing them to the top of your wall.

    And yes, British cuisine IS that bad. Case in point: the haggis. I mean come on. Why do you think we all guzzle Indian, Chinese and kebabs constantly?

    However, I’ve said before, say now and will say again (until everyone tells me to shut up and perhaps beyond) that British teeth are by no means the world’s worst. Oh no siree. The dental appendages of the Japanese archipelago make us Brits look like a nation of Osmonds.

    ;-P

  • Clavos

    Stereotypes, Colin.

    Do you Brits really have bad teeth? Is your cuisine that awful?

    Are the Germans really that dour?

    Mexicans that lazy?

    etc., etc…

  • Is that really true Clavos? How has it become such a cliche then that they don’t, that passport ownership is rare, that America is insular?

    Well, well, well – you live and learn. My apologies to the globe trotting US of States.

  • Clavos

    Correction. The following statement:

    “Conversely, the USA is also the world’s #1 tourist destination.”

    Is no longer true. In recent years, the USA has slipped to #3, behind France and Spain.

  • Clavos

    “It’s a shame Americans don’t travel more. It might make the world a better place.”

    Actually Colin and Doc, having spent 30 years working for international airlines, I can tell you unequivocally that, on a per capita basis, Americans travel internationally more than any other nationality.

    Conversely, the USA is also the world’s #1 tourist destination.

  • It’s a shame Americans don’t travel more. It might make the world a better place.

  • As a fellow traveller to Europe, Colin, I’m pretty sure that Andrew… isn’t. Like most of his compatriots, he’s probably never even left the US.

    He’s just making things up based on rumors he’s heard.

  • Where exactly in Europe was this Andrew? I’m British (living in Wales) and it’s certainly nothing I or any of my family (who travel to France, Spain and Italy) have ever experienced anywhere in Europe.

  • andrew b. lee

    america is by FAR the best place to live in america. has anyone been to europe? they charge you for water! they have security guards at restaurant bathrooms? who’s stopped at a mcdonald’s in the states just to take a piss? in europe they have a guard at the bathroom! a hamburger is over $5!

    yes, america has its flaws, but our system is the best, i’d have to say. however, that DOES NOT mean that we shouldn’t discuss its (which means, our) flaws. the reason for all the hullabaloo from people about the direction our govt and country is going in is because it is deviating from the path that our constitution gives us.

    for all you ardent democrats and republicans out there, bill moyers said “loyalty to ideals, not parties.”

    EXACTLY. that is what we should all be doing. the crap that bush jr. and co. have gotten us into isn’t a republican problem. as a californian born and raised, i’m pretty sure that alot of our current problems are “blowback” from clinton and bush sr. era actions. sept.11 would have happened whether gore or bush was in office.

    i can’t guarantee that gore wouldn’t have invaded afghanistan and iraq. clinton is quoted as saying that he ‘couldn’t afford to stand up to’ the entrenched military interests.

    our problems aren’t caused by republicans or democrats. that is so naive. it’s bigger and more complex than that. but no matter what you say, if you adhere to the ideals of our constitution, i don’t think we can really excuse our actions abroad.

    just as one can no longer doubt global warming, if one just looks a little bit, one cannot doubt that the military industrial complex is real and that it is not a monster created by democrats or republicans. it’s there, most all politicians have to work with it, and it’s a problem.

  • NR
  • Clavos

    Ruvy,

    I’ve never disagreed with you that the dollar is devaluing. It obviously is.

    I’m sorry that your Americans on dollar incomes over there are hurting because of it. It’s tough I’m sure. But they chose to live in Israel.

    And you see, to those of us living here in the USA, the devaluation of our overvalued currency is, as I’ve explained to you previously, helping the economy by making American products more competitive in foreign markets. As a result, US exports (and revenue) are skyrocketing. Our deficit has been decreasing for several months now, as a result.

    On the home front, foreign made goods ARE more costly, but we still make almost everything we need in the USA, so instead of Toyotas or Hondas, Fords and Chevys are becoming the better choice for American consumers.

    This could have been a real economic shot in the arm for GM and Ford, except that some time ago, the Japs were smart enough to start building a lot of their cars here in the USA, which means they too, are benefiting (to some degree) from the less expensive dollar. But still, the American companies are helped by the devaluation.

    We grow all our own food domestically. In recent years inexpensive foreign produce (chiefly from Latin America) has undercut the US farmers. So now, the US produce is once again competitive at home. There’s more money in the US farmer’s pocket, and now he’ll buy a John Deere, instead of another Kubota.

    And so forth…

  • Clavos

    Editors,

    There’s a hell of a lot of cut-and-paste, without attribution going on in this thread.

    Two of the last posts are obviously entire articles lifted from other sources. At least one of them, #306, doesn’t even have a typo.

  • Clavos,

    According to Globes, the dollar continues to drop against the shekel – I guess I was wrong about the cessation of trading for the Sabbath.

    Now the representative rate is NIS 3.7635/$1.00.

    If it gets down to NIS 3/$1, I’m popping open the 32 year old bottle of cognac I have. All the retirees I know living on American pensions will need a drink – badly.

  • William Swagell

    The term “spin doctor” was invented in the mid-eighties and was conjured up to describe a public relations professional who can be employed to put a “positive spin” on almost any situation or problem.

    Clients hire “spin doctors” proactively to show their corporate strategies in the most flattering or favourable light; or engage them in desperation to exercise “damage control” after being exposed to bad press or publicity that might harm corporate profitability, reputation or brand value.

    Politicians use “spin doctors” to generate propaganda in a more subtle form during political campaigns; to sway public opinion; to put the most favourable slant on their intentions; or to deflect blame for bad policies and actions taken.

    This culture of spin has exploded onto the scene thanks to the global telecommunications and media revolution that has seen people everywhere connected up as never before. Instant information now flows around the world, unrestricted by national boundaries, via the internet, global television networks and cell phones. In this new hi-tech world media coverage is critical in moulding public opinion and even financial markets.

    The danger is that these experts of “spin” may at times mask transparency or fool the public with distorted information and half truths so that it is impossible to recognize the cross-over point between “spin” and outright lying.

    Spin Doctors on the Economy.

    “Spin”: “This is not a rescue. Given the dislocation, we saw a good investment opportunity for us and other investors.”

    David Viniar, CFO Goldman Sachs, August 13, 2007.

    This was the spin put on the announcement by Goldman Sachs that it (and some “other” high profile investors) would pump $3 billion into their Global Equity Opportunities Hedge Fund after the fund plunged 30% the week before. Goldman also offered to waive entrance fees and cut in half its performance fee in order to attract new investors to the ailing fund. Observers were sceptical this move would prevent further withdrawals from occurring adding that some of the high profile “other” investors may desperately be investing more in an attempt to protect their current investment against massive redemptions or a fire-sale of assets.

    “Spin”: “This economy is pretty good. There’s definitely some storm clouds and concerns, but the underpinning is good…I hope you can tell I’m an optimistic fellow.”

    George Bush, December 17, 2007.

    This from the mouth of the man who, when previously asked at a press conference;

    QUESTION: Do you think there’s a risk of a recession? How do you rate that?

    BUSH: “You know, you need to talk to economists. I think I got a B in Econ 101. I got an A, however, in keeping taxes low and being fisky…fiscally responsible with other people’s money.”

    Spin Doctors on Real Estate.

    “Spin”: “Repudiating fears that it was overly exposed to the US consumer, Centro showpieced a Q&A with Peter Linneman, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, in a recent quarterly report (in September 2007). The wave of home loan defaults, said Linneman, could actually provide a fillip to consumer spending. Having been liberated from the burden of their monthly mortgage payments, the consumer would have more cash to splash on shopping sprees. ‘Sub-prime defaults and delinquencies are leaving more money in consumer pockets, as they have stopped servicing their mortgage debt’.”

    Michael West (The Australian December 14, 2007).

    Three months later Centro’s share price plummeted over 80% and had four billion dollars wiped from its value when its access to short term funds (to fund long property purchases) was cut off by the global liquidity crunch. Centro is the second largest shopping centre owner in Australia, and the fifth largest in the USA.

    Michael West’s wry response to that quote was… “Perhaps the homeless defaultees could store all their purchases in the neighbour’s garage. Perhaps garages could be hived off from (houses) and securitised with a AAA-rating …just on the yield of course…from S&P and Moodys.”

    Perhaps Centro should now use another of Linneman’s quotes to try and talk up its prospects as it negotiates to sell off its shopping centre assets to circling predators:

    “Spin”: “The good news is the consumer is in great shape. By the way, people ask the question, a variation of Shawn’s, which is how long can the consumer carry the economy? The answer is forever. All there is is that people like you woke up this morning having more crap than you’ll ever need saying honey I am going to go to work and make some more money so I can buy even more crap.”

    Prof. Linneman, Realtors Commercial Alliance conference August 23 2007.

    Do I detect a bit of cynicism in there somewhere?

    But special mention must be made of the doyen of “spin doctors”, David Lereah who retired in March of 2007 as spokesman and chief economist for the National Association of Realtors. Wikipedia describes how “Lereah’s penchant for putting out positive spin on dismal housing numbers led critics to dub him the Baghdad Bob of real estate.” As well as publishing “WHY THE REAL ESTATE BOOM WILL NOT BUST – And How You Can Profit From It” in 2006, some of his gems include:

    “Spin”: “If you paid your mortgage off, it means you probably did not manage your funds efficiently over the years… (such action being) very unsophisticated.”

    Los Angeles Times, August 28, 2005.

    “Spin”; “In October 2005 Lereah was busy calling the bubble believers ‘Chicken Littles’.

    Chicago Tribune, September 2006.

    “Spin”; “We need a price decline, we were overbloated… In 2007, it will be a flat year, maybe 1 percent (sales) drop, and that’s it. After 2007, we’ll be back to expansion again.”

    Realtor convention New Orleans, November 2006.

    As it turned out, house prices slumped 12% in Miami and Tampa and 11% in Detroit in 2007, with Lehman Brothers economist Michelle Meyer saying… “I don’t think we’ve hit the bottom yet. The housing shock is only about halfway over and housing prices will continue to fall well into 2009.

    Lereah also enlisted the support of then Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan during his last few presentations by showing a large slide of a beaming Greenspan who was quoted as saying (October 2006);

    “Spin”; “Most of the negatives in housing are probably behind us. The fourth quarter should be reasonably good, certainly better than the third quarter.”

    But the “I So Wish I Hadn’t Said That Award” still goes to Anthony Hsieh, chief executive of Lending Tree Loans, an internet-based mortgage company (are they still in business?) who was more disparaging;

    “Spin”; “If you own your own home free and clear, people will often refer to you as a fool. All that money sitting there, doing nothing.”

    Los Angeles Times, August, 2005.

    Good call Anthony!

    The Master of Spin.

    “Spin”; “American consumers might benefit if lenders provided greater mortgage product alternatives to the traditional fixed rate mortgage…the traditional fixed-rate mortgage may be an expensive method of financing a home.”

    Alan Greenspan, February 23, 2004.

    The quote above was still being featured prominently in 2006 at the top of a web site belonging to SAINT LAWRENCE MORTGAGE recommending ARMs (are they still in business?).

    “Spin”; “…homeowners might have saved tens of thousands of dollars had they held adjustable-rate mortgages rather than fixed-rate mortgages during the past decade.”

    Alan Greenspan, February 23, 2004.

    “Spin”; “Innovation has brought about a multitude of new products, such as subprime loans…extending credit to a broader spectrum of consumers. Where once more-marginal applicants would have simply been denied credit, lenders are now able to quite efficiently judge the risk posed by individual applicants and to price that risk appropriately. These improvements have led to rapid growth in subprime mortgage lending…constructive innovation that is both responsive to market demand and beneficial to consumers.”

    Alan Greenspan, Federal Reserve conference, April 8, 2005.

    Two years later we find the Bush administration trying to launch emergency rescue measures to freeze interest rates for some 250,000 of the most vulnerable ARM borrowers in an attempt to stave off a deluge of foreclosures in a collapsing housing market. Now however, retired Greenspan is urging caution and warning that reneging on lenders contracts may undermine confidence in the American way of doing business and encourage a flood of litigation.

    Well, I’ve got news for him…according to Geoff Kitney (European correspondent The Australian December 15-16, 2007) Greenspan needn’t worry because… “British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, reflecting a growing view in Europe that the rest of the world is paying a price for the consequences of cowboy capitalism in the US said on Thursday that the action by the central banks (pumping out US$500 billion) was ‘a wake-up call for the global economy…The existing institutions aren’t good enough. I’m going to make it my business to reform those institutions.”

    And even though Greenspan is now trying to deflect criticism and blame from himself by blaming all those around him…

    “Spin”; He writes (in his recently published memoirs) that Bush’s failure to curb spending was “a major mistake” and that Republican congressmen were “feeding at the trough”. “The Republicans in Congress lost their way,” he says. “They swapped principle for power. They ended up with neither. They deserved to lose [the 2006 congressional election].”

    Graham Paterson, TIMESONLINE September 16, 2007.

    Wow…talk about the dog biting the hand that feeds it.

    It’s good to see Secretary of Treasury Paulson, who is no mean hand at spin doctoring himself, isn’t about to take it lying down when he says… “I can’t undo the excesses of the last six years…house prices rising at an unsustainable level, easy credit. When you have these kinds of excesses it takes a while to work your way through it.” Fox Business Network, December 17, 2007.

    Yep… “the last six years” was definitely on Greenspan’s watch.

  • The dollar seems to have had a bad week here, Clavos. I’ll translate the Hebrew headlinein this link from Globes (the Israeli version of FT) for you….

    “The dollar strengthens itself by 1%; but by week’s end it has increased in value only .1%. The representative rate is NIS 3.78/$1.00.”

    At the close of the business day today (which ends early due to the Sabbath) the dollar had dropped back to NIS 3.7715.

    Now to illustrate the unreal world of the value of the dollar to you.

    We did Sabbath shopping this morning. A 750 gram box of Kellogg’s Cornflakes reflects the falling value of the dollar, going down in price to a “mere” NIS 20 (about $5.30). But there is real inflationary pressure in the economy: fifteen slices of 9% fat yellow cheese (the Israeli equivalent of American or Canadian cheese) cost NIS 40 (about $10.60) or 70¢ a slice of cheese!!!

    Dairy products produced internally cost more than the American (actually British) imported cereal. In fact any dairy product that is not larded with fat or sugar is a killer on the wallet.

    Why do I continually pelt you with news of the shekel? Because the shekel is as valuable as Monopoly money. It’s a fuckin’ joke! And your dollar is going down against it….

    The end of comment #506 is very telling.

    Now the economy is weaker, the damage more serious, and the Chinese and Japanese more sober. It is going to take heavy lifting to get this economy moving again.

  • R.Borosage

    In the January Myrtle Beach Republican debate, the candidates were asked what they would do to get the economy going in the event of recession. The answers expose just how preposterous conservatism has become.

    John McCain, who at least admits he doesn’t know much about economics, said the first thing we need to do is” stop the out-of- control spending…. As president, I know how to do it. I’ll wield that veto pen, and I won’t let another pork-barrel earmark spending bill cross my desk without vetoing it. I’m called the sheriff by my friends in the Senate who are the appropriators, and I didn’t win Miss Congeniality.”

    Charming, but completely wrong headed. A recession is caused by lack of demand. The squeeze on working families has them tightening their belts. Companies lay off workers. State and local governments, mandated to balance their budgets, choose between deep cuts in spending on education and health care or increased taxes. Only the federal government is able to act – by spending money or cutting taxes, adding to a short term deficit to get the economy moving. (The Federal Reserve can also try to lower interest rates, but with the dollar sinking and credit markets shattered flooding the market with money may just feed inflation without much effect. And in fact, the Fed’s previous interventions under Alan Greenspan helped blow up the bubble that triggered this mess).

    Rudy Giuliani just released a big tax cut plan, so you’d expect him to take McCain apart. Nope, the Mayor was as lost as McCain: “You also have to cut spending as significantly as you cut taxes. You have to be willing to impose cut-backs on each one of the federal agencies, the civilian agencies. “The main things you have to guard against are overtaxing, overspending, overregulating and over-suing.” “Over regulating?” We’re suffering a credit and housing collapse that derives directly from the LACK of sensible regulation to hold lenders to basic standards like reviewing borrowers’ ability to pay.

    Mike Huckabee showed that he could feel people’s pain, and then suggested he’d increase it, calling once more for his “fair tax” that would cut taxes on the wealthy and increase them on working and poor people. Not exactly a remedy for the economy no matter what condition it is in.

    Libertarian Ron Paul at least was true to his principles, which he stated as unintelligibly as possible. After ruling out monetary or fiscal relief, he called for attacking this with the “Austrian theory of the business cycle. For the few of you not familiar with Austrian economists, the Austrian theory of the business cycle is simply to let her rip… “The longer you delay the recession, the worse the recession is,” said Paul.

    In this crowd, only former Governor Mitt Romney offered a passing glance at common sense. Before lurching into his requisite pander about fighting for every job in Michigan, he urged that we “stop the housing crisis (without telling us how), and “immediately cut taxes” on middle income Americans. He then argued that we get “gas prices under control” by becoming energy independent and invest in research and development, good ideas that would take far too long to have any effect on turning around a recession.

    The contrast with the Democratic field is stark. Once more John Edwards drove the debate, releasing a serious short term stimulus plan, mixing tax rebates for low income people with direct spending and aid to the states. Hillary followed with the largest plan, with a good mix mirroring that of Edwards. Obama’s plan relied almost entirely on tax cuts, quicker but less effective than direct spending.

    Democrats on the Hill seem