Saturday, November 22, 2008

I hope no one is surprised

According to a US intelligence report, the balance of global power is shifting toward Asia. This unintended consequence of outsourcing is grimly amusing. Business and political leaders are learning the hard way that you can't exploit foreign laborers effectively without bringing them into your own country, where you can control the economy more completely.

All that money sent overseas isn't coming back, because we have made our nation a place with nothing to offer except suckers to buy cheap goods. Once our pockets are empty and we've forgotten how to make anything we will just have our real estate to sell. That's underway already.

The full crash will take down people who presently consider themselves wealthy. Only the few wealthiest who have resources to rival those of a small nation will be able to buy themselves a place in a global order where there are no discrete superpowers. You can't really prepare for life in a regime we have only experienced in fiction. All anyone can say for sure is that vast wealth always helps. If you don't have it at this point, you probably don't have time to get it.

The people who plan to build their little forts and live with heavily-armed exuberance will find that their little fantasy depended more on an indulgent government than they realized while they cursed its "intrusiveness."

Is the future democratic? Why should it be? Popular government is not efficient. Since the financial leaders of this country have demonstrated that they really don't care about the average citizen, and our country supposedly led the way in enfranchising Joe Average, why should any government stemming from nations with more heavy-handed traditions take up the burdens of it?

Giving away the farm bought a temporary boom. Any place the United States retains after engineering its own downfall will have to be earned on standards we probably will no longer have the strength to set.

The big change will not happen overnight. Patient nations will simply wait for human nature to take its course. And eventually their turn will come as the unified race grapples unilaterally with our tendency toward slothfulness.

Too bad we can't agree right now that work basically sucks and we should just share the load of necessary tasks and show each other a good time in our off hours.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Period of Adjustment

Much has happened since the election of Barack Obama. Most has simply been further settling of the broken chunks of the economy.

Gas prices have plunged. Climate change seems forgotten as chilly weather makes warming seem like not such a bad thing.

Supporters of Obama spoke openly of their hope and relief after the election. His detractors grumbled. Some swore to resist in dramatic terms. No running off to Canada for the folks who will give up their guns when you pry their cold, dead hands off of them. They load in supplies and ammo, rig their perimeter alarms and defenses and wait for the next Shot Heard Round the World.

When I visited my car mechanic a few days after the election, a fat, angry white man was there, sounding off to Rich about all that was wrong with the new administration. He grunted out separate lumps of condemnation that lay around him on the floor in disorganized piles. He spoke proudly of his service in Vietnam.

"We killed plenty of gooks," he said. "If we killed a few extra, so what?

"You want to know how to treat prisoners of war? I'll tell you how. After the Vietnam war they never found any enlisted prisoners, you know that? You know why? The gooks killed 'em all. I'm proud of what we did over there."

He was offended that Rahm Emmanuel had served in the Israeli army instead of the US Army. He considered it less worthy than service in Desert Storm would have been.

"We were over there fighting to save Israel's ass. Did they do any fighting? No!"

I didn't try to remind him that George HW Bush had pressured Israel to stay out of it so it wouldn't inflame the Muslim world any more than it already had. He growled warningly whenever I said anything that didn't sound like hearty support. Not wanting to make an uncomfortable scene that would mess up my relations with the mechanic, I fell into the same mode Rich did. We just went along with the ranting, let him vent.

The fat man had a whole lot of militarism in him for having served less than ten years. He may have served the minimum required by the draft. It was a little hard to follow. All I knew for sure was that this soft bodied man loved to talk a hard line.

The worst of the grumbling seems to have subsided. I don't believe for a minute that this reflects acceptance and support. The grumblers simply have other things to do. If you ask them, they still hate the way things turned out. Just don't ask.

We have not elected a messiah. No candidate could be that good. So, by extension, we have not elected the embodiment of evil, either. Thoughtful people will see how it goes and adjust their opinions accordingly, regardless of how they voted this time.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

How about a little change?

Change is tricky. The longer we persist in some mistakes, the more radical the correction needs to be. But you can't just slam the ship of state into an all-standing jibe. Large, important things are liable to break and many of the crew will probably be washed overboard. This is why the real reform candidates of the fringe parties don't--and probably shouldn't-- get a lot of votes.

Parties based on pure ideals seem so...pure. The idealists who form them believe that their selection of simple principles will streamline government into the perfect machine for the perfect society. Let's have a mere handful of laws and almost no taxes! Then we each get to keep most of the money we earn and spend it on whatever we see fit. Sounds good. Okay, which laws?

Oh shit.

Other small parties focus on issues like the environment or social services. But we all know that things like a clean environment, public transportation and everyone's health are Special Interests. Taking care of the planet and each other is a concern for Creeping Socialists and other Big Taxing Bureaucratic Totalitarians. Those people are the Enemies of Liberty.

Hear the rigging creaking?

Today everybody gets to grab the wheel and give it a little tug in the direction of their choice. Hours from now we will know the cumulative result of all those little tugs. The ones that don't go in the direction we favor we can call jerks. Then in a few months when the elected or re-elected officials settle into their positions we have to remember to keep a finger on the wheel ourselves by keeping in touch with the bozos in office. Don't let them forget you until the next time they decide to go looking for your vote.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Yay! It's almost over!

Tomorrow the campaign ads end. It's not all smooth sailing from there. We just won't have to put up with the clutter of signs, the yammer of television and radio advertising and the phone calls.

Hopefully, the various officials in charge of elections across the country will manage to land it cleanly on the first try. Then we get a few days off before the losing side starts campaigning again and the winners have to build their public relations defense.