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The Piper Is At The Door – And So Is The Landlord

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Now that all the enthusiastic partying over that 300 point increase in the Dow has ended, it's time to get back to reality as most of the world sees it.

The Australian, out of Sydney, Australia, is among the first extra-national publication to declare that the US must pay the bill for a long luxury ride, and cites as justification The Wall Street Journal article which ruefully admitted, "the US could no longer keep running up a tab on luxury imported goods, electronics and, more importantly, oil, on the 'national credit card'."

Lost amid all the boisterous revelry over Fed Chairman Bernanke's abandonment of inflation control in favor of economic stimulus was the cost of the action: the dollar is collapsing relative to foreign currencies. This decline threatens the status of the American dollar as the favored reserve currency, and hastens the time when the world's central banks drive that last stake through the heart of the 1944 Bretton Woods Agreement and fly solo.

What this means in simple Texican lingo? The pricing of oil in dollars may be coming to an end – and with it American hegemony. But having more of a less-valuable currency – even if only on paper – conquers the understanding that such a fact requires. And they don't like any links to information, either.

For those who aren't sniggering behind their barbed-wire-bastioned Airstreamers over their inflated portfolios, several nations are considering delinking their currencies from the dollar. Some are doing so in order to keep exported American inflation from overheating their domestic economies as they no longer have any concern for their former economic master's welfare. After all, you aren't going to worry about your neighbor's barn burning down if your own roof is beginning to smolder!

But more ominous are the recent moves by Gulf States to convert their weakening and less-valuable dollars into tangible assets. Is it not an article of faith in the investor's world to sell an under-performing asset to allow purchase of one which holds far more promise of profit? As a result, Abu Dhabi bought 7.5 per cent of Carlyle Group, and Dubai and Qatar each bought large holdings in NASDAQ and the London Stock Exchange. Better to hold something of real value than to be stuck with the empty promises of a worthless promissory note.

There are indications that the long-term goal of such a purchase would be to move the economic centers of the world to the Gulf. Columnist James Pethokoukis of U.S. News & World Report thinks this is a grand idea. Quoting geopolitical strategist Tom Barnett, Pethokoukis writes:

"Do I want Dubai to become a Hong Kong/Singapore of the Middle East? Sure. Because I want the Middle East to connect up to the world. In fact, that's the whole purpose behind our Big Bang strategy of toppling Saddam: connecting the Middle East up to the global economy faster than the jihadists can disconnect it."

This is an empty and false statement, as Islamia has demonstrated ample desire to purchase modern products from the more-developed world. The only problem for the American business media is that too much of this commerce goes to America's competitors.

It's another article of faith that when an entity gains an advantage, it will do anything to defend it, and damn the morality! It will even cast logic overboard and fight to its own death just to avoid admitting defeat. Once again under George W. Bush, we have that same opportunity to prove that fools and their prosperity are soon parted, as he declared, "I'm comfortable with the process to go forward."

"Connecting up to the world" will prove to be very expensive to America, because we will have surrendered direct control over our financial markets to foreign investment entities controlled by their home governments. Weren't NAFTA and GATT enough of an intrusion into our sovereignty?

Heavens! No! Of course not! Profit is the only item of importance in the Ferengi world of investment, as demonstrated by the Motley Fools, who proclaim opposition to allowing "nationalistic chauvinism" to interfere with the consolidation of the world market ownership into fewer hands.

That didn't work well for the majority with mass media ownership in the United States, but such results are only worrisome to Leona Helmsley's "Little People", right? Not so fast!

Bigger isn't always better, as The Financial Times of London reminds potential bourse investors. They see a bidding war evolving that would make the cost of a stake in the major stock exchanges "decidedly expensive". There are indications that Asian exchanges are next.

Regardless of whether the Gulf State tycoons succeed in their quest to own large portions of the world's stock exchanges, the message should be very clear that the era of automatic American economic leadership of the world is ended. Despite our attitude that no one can tell us how to run our country, we are losing our separation from foreign influence and control. We are also being "connected up to the world" through the greed of our own richest citizens, who would sell our birthright for a mess of gold pottage.

Through such travesties as NAFTA and GATT, our own laws are subject to veto by faceless and unaccountable foreign bureaucrats who have learned well the lessons taught by American cronyism. We may well find ourselves faced someday with a directive from those who own the agencies of our domestic employment telling us to adopt, for instance, a certain religion or face termination. After all, certain Christian organizations have already been allowed by the corporatist government to do that very thing. After such an established precedent, who is to say that the devotees of Asatru won't become the owners of America and decree mandatory adherence to their religion if you desire to retain your employ?

Of course, you could always eat your shotgun shells instead. I hear they go great with barbed wire.

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About pessimist

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    It’s late and I need to sleep, so I’ll only explode one of your usual spew of silly theses.

    Let’s take a look at that devalued dollar issue, why don’t we?

    Ooh, the dollar is so weak, it’s at an all time low, when it gets this low our economy falls apart and foreign countries come in and take over!

    Utter bullshit.

    You seem to be afflicted by short-term memory syndrome. When you raised this issue something just didn’t ring right to me. I remembered living in the UK about 30 years ago and my recollection was that the dollar was as weak or weaker then against the pound than it is now.

    So I did a little research with this handy site.

    Seems that while the dollar is currently weaker than it was a decade or two ago, it’s actually historically stronger against most foreign currencies if you go back farther than 20 years.

    In fact, looking at the historic pattern, the high-value dollar of the 90s seems like more of an anomaly than a normal situation.

    Today the dollar is worth about half a pound.

    In the 1950s and 1960s when the US economy was booming and Europe was still recovering from the war, the dollar was worth only about a third of a pound.

    The truth is that a weak dollar attracts investment in America and improves our balance of trade. If the dollar were strong and our balance of trade was shifting towards imports rather than exports as it is now, you’d be complaining that we were doomed because of our trade deficit.

    And just one more thing. You don’t seem to get the difference between Arab investors buying a share in NASDAQ and those investors buying interest in the companies which are listed on the NASDAQ exchange. Partial control in a company which just keeps track of stock values and trades is a far cry from owning the companies traded on that exchange. If the Arabs bought out a doctor’s practice would they then own the doctor’s patients?

    dave

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Dave, you can read this after you wake up and have had a cup of coffee.

    While the pound has fallen against the dollar over several decades, the Deutschmark, Swiss franc, and lately the euro, have all risen against the dollar.

    When I was a kid, the Deutschmark used to be worth 22½¢ – the Swiss franc was worth 23¢. If you check the futures page of the NYT or the WSJ, you can check what Deutschmark futures are against the dollar. The Swiss franc is now worth about 80¢. I suspect the Deutschmark futures have a similar value. Moving from theoretical currencies like the Deutschmark to the euro, we find that the euro, once established at near parity to the dollar in 1993, at first fell against it to 88¢, and then rose until it is now about $1.40.

  • http://www.robot-of-the-week.com Christopher Rose

    I believe you’re mistaken about the Pound, Ruvy. In the early 80s it sank to within spitting distance of parity with the dollar but since then has risen steadily to be worth over 2 dollars today.

    You may also be interested to learn that the Deutschmark no longer exists, not even as a theoretical currency.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Chris,

    While the Deutschmark no longer exists as a currency, there is a futures market for it. I didn’t believe it either when I saw it, but it is there. There is one for the French franc and Italian pound also. Thus, they are still “theoretical” currencies.

    As for the English pound, you are right in terms of it coming within spitting distance of the dollar. If I remember right it went all the way down to $1.20 at one point. But I was taking Dave back over a five decade period. Immediately after WWII, sterling was worth $4.00; this was also the initial value of the Israeli pound. When I was a kid, it was worth $2.80, and as it lost value, the decision was made to go to a decimal currency. It didn’t make sense to have 240 pence and 480 half pence in a currency where the penny was worth less than one cent, and the shilling was worth little more than a dime.

  • http://www.robot-of-the-week.com Christopher Rose

    Well, I’ve wasted 5 minutes of my life googling that, Ruvy, but can’t find any contemporary evidence of these theoretical future currencies. Maybe you could provide a url?

    The pound actually got lower than you remember, actually dipping below $1.10 for a while.

    As to decimalisation, that was a plan that took a few hundred years to be achieved and I don’t recall that it was done because of declining values, but rather for administrative and calculation convenience.

  • Les Slater

    The FED’s half point cut was a panic move.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    The reason I chose the pound sterling for comparison is that it’s a real currency which is still traded.

    If you look at other currencies in comparison to the dollar in the period since the end of WW2, you will find that like the pound they have all had periods where they were stronger against the dollar than they are now, though they don’t all follow the same pattern as the pound.

    For example:

    Danish Krone:
    1947: 4.79/4
    1957: 6.9/$
    1977: 6/$
    1987: 6.8/$
    1997: 6.6/$
    2007: 5.3/$
    All time low: 5.2/$ in 1949

    Japanese Yen:
    1957: 360/$
    1977: 267/$
    1987: 144/$
    1997: 121/$
    2007: 115/$
    All time low: 94/$ in 1995

    And some countries ARE doing substantially worse against the dollar than they have ever done in the past, for example Brazil, whose Real is now at an all time low against the dollar at 1.86/$ or the Israeli Shekel or the Indian Rupee.

    And more significantly, if anything Realist said were true, then the Chinese Yuan would be gaining dramatically against the dollar, and in fact it is a bit stronger than it was, but still fairly near its prior all time low against the dollar – 8.64/$ in 1994 compared to 7.5/$ today. It’s weaker than it was against the dollar in 13 of the last 25 years.

    Dave

  • Clavos

    “The FED’s half point cut was a panic move.”

    Yeah, and investors (including Gasp!! Horror!! foreigners!!) panicked all the way to the bank.

    The “weakened” dollar (which, BTW, is a cyclical phenomenon) makes American products cheaper abroad, expanding markets and securing and creating American jobs.

    You’ve indicated that your primary economic concern is for the workers, Les. You should be happy with a devalued dollar.

    The past thirty years have seen enormous strides in the technology of communications, with the crown jewel being the internet.

    Enhanced, instantaneous communication is the engine driving the globalization of business, and it’s already well underway, even in areas where there are no treaties facilitating it. Eventually, it will prove to be the great “leveler” spreading wealth currently concentrated in a few areas much more evenly around the globe. It’s already happening in places like India and China.

    Eventually, globalization of commerce will even make war obsolete.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    the US dollar and the Canadian Loonie hitting parity this week…that is an interesting bit to consider

    how this will all shake out in the long run..i am not certain

    but i do think that when dealing with fiat currencies which have NO intrinsic value save what the market infers holding huge deficits and continuously spending money that you don’t have has got to weaken confidence in said markets, and thus influence the value of said fiat currencies

    i cannot see how this can be a good thing for any whose well being is dependent on said currency

    time will tell, i guess…but yer gonzo is investing heavily in canned goods and shotguns…just in case

    Excelsior?

  • Les Slater

    “Yeah, and investors (including Gasp!! Horror!! foreigners!!) panicked all the way to the bank.”

    You mean ‘from the bank’, don’t you? It was a bail from their bad investment practices.

    “You’ve indicated that your primary economic concern is for the workers, Les. You should be happy with a devalued dollar.”

    Higher prices are not in the interest of workers.

  • Clavos

    “You mean ‘from the bank’, don’t you? It was a bail from their bad investment practices.”

    No, I meant exactly what I said; that 335+ jump in the Dow made money for a lot of people.

    It was a bail for the banks stupid enough to lend money to people who were not credit worthy, but the Fed’s move (and the weeks leading up to it) presented lots of other opportunities as well.

    “Higher prices are not in the interest of workers.”

    They are when they result in more jobs.

    you’re making the same mistake bad investors make: looking only at the short term effects of changes.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    We have higher prices? News to me. Theoretically, since prices have remained stable, with the dollar devalued, everything actually costs less in objective terms.

    Dave

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    really?

    so the devaluation of the dollar has made it so that $3 a gallon gasoline is actually cheaper than the $1.15 i paid in 2000?

    news to me

    i still stand by the loaf of bread, gallon of milk and gallon of gas index…how much of each can one hour of minimum wage purchase

    try that and then come back and say we are doing better

    Excelsior?

  • Les Slater

    “you’re making the same mistake bad investors make: looking only at the short term effects of changes.”

    Long term? Things have not been getting better for most of us.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    so the devaluation of the dollar has made it so that $3 a gallon gasoline is actually cheaper than the $1.15 i paid in 2000?

    You paid $1.15 for gas in 2000? Did you get arrested for stealing it shortly thereafter?
    The average nationwide price in 2000 was $1.56 and Maine tends to average slightly higher than the rest of the nation. Adjusted for inflation that’s about $2.10 in 2007 dollars.

    So yes, the price of gas has gone up, but the price of many other consumer goods has gone down and the overall inflation rate is under 2% which is remarkably good.

    i still stand by the loaf of bread, gallon of milk and gallon of gas index…how much of each can one hour of minimum wage purchase

    Well, with the minimum wage increased you can probably purchase more of all of them than you could 7 years ago. But the point is that the price of bread is down, milk is about the same and gas is up. It all balances out.

    Dave

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    no it doesn’t..all three are up, the raise in the minimum doesn’t even cover the inflation between the last rise and this one

    check your numbers..compare 2000 to now according to the index i laid out… your assertion is factually incorrect

    Excelsior?

  • Moonraven

    Right, Nalle: The US dollar is in such great shape that it is now par with the Canadian dollar!

    And the Euro is currently at $1.41.

    While you try to impress us with what a high roller you are, maybe you should be getting that tinny trailer ready for the coming Texas winter.

    You are toast, cowboy.

  • Lumpy

    There are good and bad aspects to the dollar being low. It’s great for our balance of trade and for tourism and for employment. Not so good for investors and consumers, though hardly a disaster. But npne of this is dire. Back in the 70s the dollar wasn’t worth wiping your ass with and it recovered.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    fair point, Lumpy

    but if you notice, the ration to the Canadian dollar was NOT parity…

    not to mention the debt/deficit was nowhere NEAR what it is now

    let’s look at it in the same vein as the sub-prime mortgage market right now…

    everyone agrees part of the fault lays on both consumer and lender for making loans in shady circumstances…

    now, if you were the lender, and saw the U.S. balance sheet, would you consider it a good loan?

    that’s the Question national banks are asking themselves, and why the dollar will most likely not be the world’s standard for much longer

    the impact of that, we will see…

    (side note, false comparison mentioning the yuan earlier, the Chinese bank keeps it artificially low to keep their balance of trade favorable to them, as even our own government acknowledges)

    Excelsior?

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    “the great “leveler” spreading wealth currently concentrated in a few areas much more evenly around the globe.”

    Right. In other words, wealth will move FROM places like the US and Canada and Europe and Australia and Japan – and TO places like Nigeria and Iran and Red China and Pakistan and Ecuador. In other words, a massive, global wealth transfer from “us,” to “them.”

    Sounds like something I’d vote for! (Of course, the input of people like myself is not exactly sought after when such decisions are made…)

    “Eventually, globalization of commerce will even make war obsolete.”

    Only if you believe that wars are fought SOLELY over disparities of wealth. (ProTip: They aren’t.)

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    “You paid $1.15 for gas in 2000?”

    It was 98 cents per gallon in Florida around 1998 or 1999…

  • Clavos

    “In other words, a massive, global wealth transfer from “us,” to “them.””

    That statement assumes that the totality of the world’s wealth is a zero sum in stasis, when in fact, as history has shown, wealth grows with the size of the market. Opening hitherto poverty-stricken areas to participation in world commerce increases the overall market available.

    Mr. Ford was famous for being one of the first industrialists to recognize that point, and to institute it on a large scale, when he decided to pay the then highest wage in the auto industry in order to enable his workers to buy his product.

    This is actually going on (vigorously) in China and India; both countries are becoming significant producers and significant consumer markets.

    “Only if you believe that wars are fought SOLELY over disparities of wealth”

    I don’t. Wars are fought over power and territory. Wealth, in fact rarely figures in the equation.

    However, I believe that as we (nations) become increasingly interlinked in commerce, buying and selling from each other, the incentives for war will lessen.

    Case in point: a scant 65 years ago, the USA and Japan were at each other’s throats. Today, we are each other’s best customers and neither country would even contemplate attacking the other; we’re to interdependent and too important to each other.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    “Wars are fought over power and territory. Wealth, in fact rarely figures in the equation.”

    i completely disagree…

    wars are always about Wealth

    territory = more land/farmers for taxes, natural resources, peasants/workers = Wealth

    power = ability to acquire and/or hold/manage Assets = more Wealth

    always about Wealth…it’s couched in jingoism, religion, revenge or whatever…but it’s all about Big Money, imo

    nuff said…

    Excelsior?

  • bliffle

    The Euro is becoming a replacement for the dollar in international trade, and here’s how they stack up historically (from nalles citation):

    These tables present the price of one United States Dollar.
    Europe, 2000 – 2005
    2000 € 1.0832 Euro
    2001 € 1.1171 Euro
    2002 € 1.0578 Euro
    2003 € 0.8833 Euro
    2004 € 0.804 Euro
    2005 € 0.8033 Euro

    (We did not have data for Europe for every year 2000 to 2007.)

    Since then the dollar has dropped to about .70

  • troll

    Clavos – gonzo beat me to the correct response to your #22…but here’s the alternate link covering this

    …not saying that economic interdependence is a bad thing though

  • Clavos

    gonzo, troll,

    OK, we’re playing a semantic game here. gonzo even spells it out:

    “territory = more land/farmers for taxes, natural resources, peasants/workers = Wealth

    power = ability to acquire and/or hold/manage Assets = more Wealth”

    Territory and power are always the immediate motivations for war, which is exactly what I meant.

    But you both knew that.

  • Clavos

    #26,

    immediate=proximate

  • troll

    …proximate causes are usually bizarre incendiary incidents like the towers or a bomb thrown into a carriage – remember the Maine – ?

    but this isn’t a major disagreement – the desire for territory and power are somewhere in the causal chain

    …though I’ve never been clear on what ‘power’ means – does gonzo’s definition cover it – ?

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    “It was 98 cents per gallon in Florida around 1998 or 1999…”

    When I still lived in the States and tootled around in a Saturn (without air conditioning to get better gas mileage), kept a record of every single time I went to the gas station and bought gas and kept a record of both mileage and gas prices with a stack of averages. In St. Paul and vicinity, the average for most of the years from 1993 to 2001 (when I sold the Saturn) was around $1.15. In essence, I spent about 11.50 per tank of gas. Naturally, I shopped around for cheap gas and kept those little coupons that you get from the food warehouses for 3¢ off per gallon, etc. That is how I learned about the sad state of high school education in my school district. The kids needed a calculator to figure out how much ten times three was…

  • gonzo marx

    those are excuses, Clavos…

    it’s always about the money…no semantics, just distinguishing between the “excuse” for going to war, and the real motivator

    always

    Excelsior?

  • http://pleasestopstampingonmyhead.blogspot.com/ Colin Ricketts

    “War, what is it good for? It’s good for business.”
    Billy Bragg.

  • moonraven

    It IS always about money.

    And race is the excuse used to go after money that isn’t yours.

    The president of Iran is speaking in NYC at this moment. If I were you, I would listen to him.

  • moonraven

    This is the opening of an article by Thom Hartmann (The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight) article on the subject:

    Published on Monday, September 24, 2007 by CommonDreams.org
    Columbia University Shows True American Values
    by Thom Hartmann

    “Columbia University, by inviting Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak, has shown confidence in the wisdom and adultness of their students and our republic.

    Ahmadinejad is the president of a major nation in a vital part of the world, and we should have enough self-assurance and belief in our own system of government, and in the intelligence of our college students, that we can let them (and our larger public) evaluate his words, whatever they may be.

    To be terrified of his speaking there (or, for that matter, laying a wreath at Ground Zero) is behavior one would have expected from a fragile régime like Khrushchev’s USSR or Burma’s military junta, not the bold, brave, and fearless USA.”

    Just a word to the folks cowering here on BC.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    The speech by Ahmdinejad did not go off quite as he planned it, Marthe. The president of the university, Bollinger ripped into Ahmadinejad in an attempt to wipe the manure off his shoes for inviting the man to speak at Columbia. And Ahmadinejad’s wreaths went unlain….

    My ass bleeds for the guy.

    But in news closer to home and more important to me, the dollar continues to drop against the shekel, falling to NIS 4.03 to the dollar. It was NIS 4.10 last week. Anybody who gets paid in dollars is getting screwed over. Evidently the intervention to keep the dollar high against the shekel has been withdrawn.

  • http://www.jec.senate.gov/State%20by%20State/September%202007.htm Cindy D

    As of September 2007, here is what the JEC has to say:

    “Over the past six years, the Bush economy has made it more difficult for the vast majority of Americans to get ahead. Under this administration, there has been a sharp divergence between the fortunes of companies and the paychecks of their workers.”

    “Despite strong gains in productivity, workers’ wages are only marginally higher than they were 25 years ago, and after adjusting for inflation, nationally, the income of a typical American household fell by $962, or 2.0 percent, to $48,201 between 2000 and 2006.”

    Have a look at the JEC’s state by state snapshots.

    A prize to the first person who finds a state whose economy doesn’t make me want to throw up.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    When America went to war in 1940-41 (the Yanks started ramping up war production in 1940 to help the British), everybody made money and the war pulled the country out of the depression of 1929.

    This time round in Iraq, the oil and banking establishment has figured out a way to make war, increase war production and make sure that only they profit and everybody else loses.

    You gotta hand it to the bastards. They aim to get rich and get everybody else poor. And they seem to be succeeding. Of course, if in their greed, they wreck the dollar and can’t get into the “amero” quite fast enough, they too will get a good walloping in the butt – more than well deserved….

  • moonraven

    The president of Columbia made a right horse’s ass out of himself–clearly all he had to do was imitate GW BUsh–or was GW imitating HIM?

    Who knows where there is a circle jerk just whose hand is on whose cock.

  • moonraven

    I already posted the letter to Bollinger from the Iranian university chancellors on Bambeck’s thread.

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    “My ass bleeds for the guy.”

    You might want to see a doctor about that.

  • Clavos

    “You gotta hand it to the bastards. They aim to get rich and get everybody else poor”

    Why do so many who hate the rich think that the rich are intent on making everyone else poor? What the hell do they care? They got theirs, so where’s the incentive to make everyone else poor?

    Remember Henry Ford and the $5 wage? If everyone else is poor, how are the rich going to sell us their oil or cars? What will we be able to deposit in their banks?

    What an asinine idea.

  • Dr Dreadful

    What the hell do they care? They got theirs, so where’s the incentive to make everyone else poor?

    Because what’s not in their pockets is in somebody else’s.

  • Clavos

    “Because what’s not in their pockets is in somebody else’s.”

    Uh uh, Doc.

    Assumes wealth is finite; a zero sum. There’s plenty of money to be made in things that don’t exist yet, there’s money in the ground, in space, in the seas, etc.

    The wealthy are not stupid (well, not most of ‘em, anyway). They know that the source of their wealth lies in a robust middle class, able to buy their products and services.

  • Dr Dreadful

    I know.

    It was the obvious response, though.

    Besides, they can always sell to each other. :-)

  • Cindy D

    Re: #40

    You can’t equate Henry Ford’s $5 wage with what is happening today. Henry Ford was a proponent of welfare capitalism.

    Welfare capitalism is the past. Companies hand off the care of their workers to the government more and more.

    The relationship between corporate employer and worker is filled with contempt and animosity.

    I am puzzled at how the economy and competition are cited as reasons for the decline in welfare capitalism. It certainly hasn’t hurt these guys much:

    Americans Pay a Staggering Cost for Corporate Leadership

    Workers pay has stagnated and fallen while CEO pay has skyrocketed.

    “Sha la la la la la live for today.”

  • Clavos

    “Companies hand off the care of their workers to the government more and more.”

    A natural progression after 70 years of Democratic welfare statism, beginning with Roosevelt’s New Deal, and continuing on through Johnson’s Great Society.

    If the government’s handing it out, people (and corporations) will accept it.

  • bliffle

    What fun is it to be rich if there aren’t a lot of poor people around for one to sneer at? To say nothing of ready targets to heap moral condemnations upon?

  • Clavos

    Amen to that, bliff.

    Though sometimes they can be a rather tiresome lot.

    Still, they have their place.

  • Cindy D

    “…Democratic welfare statism…” a natural consequence of designing a lopsided unreasonable system that puts the wealth into the hands of the few and then assures that it stays there.

    “…Democratic welfare statism…”, likely the only possible alternative (barring radical change of the system) that will insure that the ripped-off masses get back a tiny fragment (luxuries like health, food, etc.) of what has been robbed from them.

  • Clavos

    “Amen to that, Clavos. For example, all the draft deferments the conservative chickenhawks accepted during ‘Nam.”

    Amen to that, emmy.

    And boy, do I feel stupid for having let myself be drafted and sent over there.

    What a sucker I was.

  • REMF

    “The wealthy are not stupid (well, not most of ‘em, anyway).”

    Um, GW Bush verifies your parenthetics.

  • Clavos

    Agreed.

    Yet, he’s in the white house, proving once again that it doesn’t take brains to be the president of the usa.

  • REMF

    ^ Or integrity.

  • Clavos

    Well, of course not integrity, emmy. Presidents are politicians.

    Man you are naive!

  • STM

    Actually, the falling greenback may be just the correction you needed to have. It makes no difference to you at home in terms of what you can do with your money unless you are buying expensive imported luxury goods, and it also helps the US economy in a big way – through exports.

    I have noticed in Australia in the past 12 months, as the Aussie and the greenback have approached something like near-parity, that there have been a lot more US-manufactured or -produced goods coming into the country. I’m buying stuff in the off-season (fruit, nuts, etc) at the supermarket that is from the US.

    The rise in imports includes quite a number of American cars, which we really hadn’t seen here in any numbers since the 1960s.

    Not sure how good that is given the current state of thinking in Detroit and the troubles currently besetting an Australian car industry intent on continuing to build big rear-wheel-drive family sixes, V8s and SUVs, but at least it gives us a bit more choice.

    These American cars now coming in have been built specially for export, too – they are right-hand drive and also must comply with quite strict Australian Design Rules legislation, so it’s not like we’re just getting the cast-offs. That is not an inexpensive exercise and some considerable investment has to be made in Detroit to retool auto plants to make sure they complay with this legislation and to stick the steering column and instruments on the other side of the dash.

    That factor alone leads me to believe that the US economy, while slowing down a tad, is not going into freefall anytime soon.

  • Clavos

    Dead on, mate.

    And turning to an industry I know well, the weaker dollar is also helping tourism here in the US.

    It’s a little known fact, since Americans are such enthusiastic tourists themselves, that the US has long ranked as one of the top tourist destination countries in the world. Through 2006, the UNWTO (World Tourism Organization) ranks the US third in arrivals (Behind #1 France and #2 Spain) and #1 in receipts. Among the top three, the US is growing fastest.

    The falling dollar will further accelerate that phenomenon.

  • STM

    Yep, you are spot on there … I have chosen in the past not to go to the US, since while what you can do with your in Australia and the US is pretty much the same, the disparity on international exchange (I was losing over a third at one stage against the US dollar), I chose to go elsewhere, to places where the Aussie dollar got the better exchange rate.

    That is no longer an issue, so expect more mad people from Down Under soon. You will recognise them easily … they will be the ones speaking proper English :)

  • Clavos

    Hope one of ‘em’s you, mate.

    Take the opportunity to re-visit the scenes of your old Miami crimes….

  • STM

    BTW, what’s the statute of limitations in the US on vending-machine “enterprise” (Aussie 1 cent and 10 cent coins doubling nicely as nickels and quarters – well, that’s what I’ve heard :) and unintentional night-time golf-buggy “borrowing” and “driving”? And does the vending-machine “eneteprise” constitute a federal crime, because of the foreign currency aspect?

    Just wondered about those things, as I have a couple of mates who are worried …

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