Wednesday, August 19, 2009

When Giants Fall

The subject book by Michael Panzner is an orgy of doom and gloom, but the reasons why along with any potential for escape are cloudy at best.
"For many Americans, the years ahead will be nothing short of a Modern Dark Ages, where each day brings forth fresh anxieties, unfamiliar risks, and a deep sense of foreboding ..."
He does go on to assert that an "enlightened few" that have things firmly in grasp could do well, but after reading the book, I'd have to say that other than being a survivalist with some buried gold, he is short on advice for how the "enlightened" might get along.

Why is all of this coming upon us? There is no one clear reason, but here is an example :
"Now though, the circumstances that have made the United States a beacon of light and the economic and cultural agenda setter over the course of many decades are changing. Many blame the disastrous military adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the newfound acceptance of barbaric torture techniques and scandals like the mistreatment of prisoners at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, others put it down to a general sense of arrogance, of unilateral decision making and hubristic exceptionalism, especially during the two terms that President George W. Bush was in office."

Again, the guy is clearly no neocon -- two terms of George Bush may well have been what killed America! Certainly not a very robust nation, in that merely ONE horrible President, even with the very able 2-year assistance of a fully Democratic congress could irreparably destroy the nation. Think of it -- we survived the '60s and '70s ... Bay of Pigs, the massacre at My Lai -- is killing women and children in cold blood worse than harassing Iraqi prisoners? the loss of 50K lives in Vietnam in complete ignominious defeat, assassinations of two Kennedy's and MLK, Watergate, the economy running to 20+ % inflation and 13%+ unemployment --- BUT, we were brought down by two wars in which we have lost less than 10K soldiers and which at this writing, there seems to be every prospect that we will win both of them!!! Wow.

I'm not so sure the guy is wrong, but I think it has a lot more to do with "America" than it does with Bush -- for the first time in my lifetime, the MSM / elite in this country decided that they so thoroughly hated a president that there were no boundaries on how they would attack him. It is reminiscent of diseases like arthritis or MS where the immune system goes nuts and attacks the body. Humans are designed to live in groups of 250 people or less, and we are wired to do whatever it takes to "maintain enough status to breed" (and to protect our families / offspring) within that group. When the leadership of "our group" identifies someone in the group as "unclean/beneath contempt/outcast", it is well documented that we are "wired" to "pile on" -- it is too late for that one, the only way to save ourselves is to "go with the group".

I think our mass media has crossed a boundary where for most Americans it supercedes whatever their "actual group" is (work, family, church, etc) and the level of disparagement of Bush made him our "ultimate pariah". Oddly, mankind seems to have evolved an odd type of creature sometimes called an "iconoclast" -- which I prefer to call "Moose". I feel most comfortable far outside of the "common wisdom" because I find nearly all common wisdom to just be "popular foolishness".

The rest of the world is well enough wired to our media that the spectacle of a supposedly great nation completely turning on a leader that they had elected a mere two years before in a growing economy with no major policy changes was simply too much to maintain any respect for. When that sudden change of heart was coupled with a radical shift to the left in '06, most of the world validly saw us as just plain nuts. But I digress, this guy thinks it is "Bush" -- and that is a popular view.

Whatever the reason, he is convinced that the age of the unipolar US dominated globe is over, and as the US itself descends into financial, industrial and military ruin, the squabbling for leadership among China, Russia, Europe, Venezuela, etc will speed the worldwide decline.
"Worries and resentments over falling wages, surging unemployment, and the widening gap between righ and poor will also rouse nationalistic, protectionist, and xenophobic hostility. Throughout the world there will be a push for tighter borders and controls on the flow of people, goods, and capital. Immigrants and foreigners will become scapegoats for domestic ills. Meanwhile, a variety of home-grown woes will stir up social unrest, triggering obstructive and antagonistic responses. In many cases, governments will implement ill-conceived policies, including hyperinflationary expansion of the money supply, which will engender further instability. Enfeebled nations will see the reins of power commandeered by populists or tyrants. Some will tap the destructive energy of old rivalries or demonize wealthier rivals, including the United States."
Here is a little quote from a guy named JR Nyquist that I found interesting:
As it happens, men are not global creatures. They speak a specific language, relate to a specific culture, and share specific historical experiences. Although it may sound enlightened to say that we are "all one", it is nonetheless untrue. We are not one. We are individuals with individual traits and attachments. What attaches me to the globe is nothing compared to the reality of language, culture, family and tribe. Every individual has a motherland and a mother tongue. There are national sentiments and national interests.
Very well put -- and for BO, that is KENYA and the Luo Tribe!!!
"To cynical observers, the 1973 publication of "Small is Beautiful" market the peak of hysteria about the limits to growth. ... Perhaps it is ironic that despite decades of apparent evidence to the contrary, Schumacher's vision of the future has not disappeared from view."
Welcome back to the age of malaise! Economic freedom inspires risk taking and innovation which provides growth that breaks down the old "limits to growth". There is a strange paradox that for the "liberal" that finds any restriction on sexual behavior from marriage to sticking with the opposite sex or same species to be restrictive beyond belief, the idea that folks ought to be able to labor at the job of their choosing and keep most of the money they make is scandalous beyond belief!! The "cynics" are the ones that believe that the human mind and ingenuity is unlimited, and of tremendously more importance than the supposed "limits to growth". Potentially, if the average liberal spent 1/10th as much brainpower on new economic horizons as opposed to new sexual horizons, the malaise could be subdued!!
"After years of ever-growing profits, easing regulations, and a yawning gap between the incomes of workers and those at the top, political and social pressures will force the pendulum back the other way. The result will be increasing taxes on businesses and their overseers, restrictive legislation and political interference, tougher rules on governance and executive compensation and pressure for payoffs and handouts ... "
And the result? Well, less for everyone of course!!

In many ways, this book is like one of those reality chase videos on TV where the fleeing car is driving erratically and very fast, with an ever tightening police pursuit -- it becomes certain that there will be a bad crash at the end, but it is impossible to see how to prevent it. Our vehicle "made impact" in '06 when we put the drunken Democrats in charge of Congress, and in '08 when we handed the wheel to the Kenyan Obozo, we drove off the cliff of unknown height and now we just await the sudden stop at the bottom.

Oh, if you are feeling happy and wonder what depression is like, it will work! I wish there was a little less truth in it.