16 August 2006

Dobbs: It's good to be a superpower

By Lou Dobbs

Wednesday, August 16, 2006; Posted: 2:13 p.m. EDT (18:13 GMT)
NEW YORK (CNN) -- The Soviet Union, Marxist Leninism, the Evil Empire and their ugly metaphor, the Berlin Wall, crumbled and collapsed almost 17 years ago.

At the time, I thought it was strange that the United States didn't have the inclination to celebrate. There were no victory parades and no fireworks; nor did Congress declare a V-CW Day, as in Victory in the Cold War. There weren't even any grand speeches about America's emergence as the World's Only Superpower.

But a grand smugness did grip most of Washington. And hubris became the foundation of almost every national policy, foreign and domestic. And why not? We were entitled as the World's Only Superpower.

What a blessing, all these superpower advantages. What other people besides Americans can afford not to make their own clothes? The world has other people for such menial tasks, and they sell us all but a few of our shoes, shirts, slacks, suits, dresses and coats (and, of course, accessories). We now import around 96 percent of our clothing.

What other nation can afford to dismantle its manufacturing base and export high-paying middle-class jobs overseas to lesser, cheaper foreign labor markets and then buy back the goods those poorer people provide us?

And energy? Why, we Americans have money to burn. We spend $15-20 billion each and every month to import fuel for our cars, trucks, office buildings and few remaining factories and plants. We can be heedless to the consequences, because as Vice President Dick Cheney suggests, conservation doesn't work well anyway. So why be bothered with such irritating constraints?

Because we're a superpower, we needn't concern ourselves with silly little annoyances like trade and budget deficits. Who cares? What greater proof of our superpower status can there be than 30 consecutive years of trade deficits, evaporating surpluses in services and agricultural goods and even technology.

Our trade deficit in manufacturing soared nearly 300 percent from 1997 to 2005, surging to $662.5 billion. Our business and government leaders soothingly remind us that we are a technology economy and needn't be distracted by developments like the reversal of what was a $35-billion surplus in high-tech goods to what is now a $44-billion deficit. It's great to be The Superpower.

What about all that money we're burning? Not to worry. Spend it if you got it. Well, we really don't have it, actually. We're borrowing more than $2 billion a day to send to those lesser souls who are uncomfortably situated in poorer nations that can only aspire to our superpower status.

As to our government's budget deficit, again, that's not a problem. Our federal government keeps two sets of books: one that shows our budget deficit shrank to $319 billion last year and the Treasury Department set that shows $760 billion. Now, we don't want anyone to get needlessly anxious here. It turns out that our national debts and commitments actually stand at an incredible $49 trillion. But let's just keep that little number amongst ourselves.

The federal government uses a quaint accounting system that would be illegal for any large enterprise in America, and there are those who believe our government should be more transparent, or perhaps honest, if you will. One of those with a very unpopular wet-blanket attitude is David Williams of the Citizens Against Government Waste. "If this happened in the private sector, we would call the government 'Enron,' " Williams says.

David, David, David...A little less negativity, please. David Williams is among that small, insignificant and clearly irrelevant group of eccentric rationalists who care about cause and effect, truth and consequence.

Rep. Jim Cooper, a Tennessee Democrat, is among them as well. In his new book, Cooper writes about things like the fact that our federal government last year paid out $38 billion to the wrong people and that $20 billion of taxpayer money simply disappeared from the government's treasury.

Negativists like Williams and Cooper get all a-gaggle over the fact that the GAO can't certify the books of the Pentagon, the Department of Homeland Security, the Energy Department and NASA. They're even upset that the federal government has failed its annual audit for nine years in a row. Talk about Nervous Nellies.

So what if the U.S. debt rating is heading for junk status by 2025, according to Standard & Poor's. That's a problem for nations that aren't superpowers, don't you think?

When it comes to international relations, our superpower status is even clearer. Though admittedly, it is a little embarrassing to watch how easily the United States imposes its will on the Middle East and brings aspiring superpowers like China to heel on issues like human rights and democracy.

Looking back, I'm grateful that we didn't celebrate our emergence as the World's Only Superpower those many years ago. In our current exalted state, it's clear we were wise not to do so.

Revisiting the discussion about the Matrix - do you question why you question what the goverment and the corporations say? Well, you shouldn't. Everything is smoke and mirrors today anyways. Nothing we do in our society is based on reason or rationality anymore.

It's quite obvious 'they' release only the information they deem relevant to maintaining their power (which is the same as keeping everything as is). For whatever information they can't control, 'they' design their metrics so that they only deal with the parameters that are favorable to their position. If the governments ever got to the point where they had to follow the reporting guidelines like Sarbanes-Oxley, they'd be so screwed. They would be showing insolvency almost immediately. What a bunch of morons, pigs at the trough, liars.

Like what has been said many times before - the government believes 'why stop spending what you don't have when you know full well you're never going to have to pay it back?' Think about the repercussions of that one for awhile - the entire financial system is truly a house of cards......things that make you go hmmm....


Jeff said...

That's why I eat garden grown veggies. ;)

Doug said...

Interesting post Reid....I mean form an accounting point of view I've always thought it was somewhat strange that governments don't in any way have to follow the same accounting methods or standards that corporations do? The theory is pretty nebulus and for the most part it's all about budgets, expenditures, and presentation. No Income Statements, No Balance Sheets, no real comparbility (and some would argure accountability) to the real world. In fact, in all the accounting courses I've taken (lets just say alot) so called "Public Sector" accounting was conveniently ignored as a "specialty area" that somebody has figured the accountants of tomorrow don't really need to know too much about it. Who really wants to work for the government anyway? It's been said that "Ottawa is 40 sq km surrounded by reality" and with the incredible latitude to report financial information in pretty much any way they see fit - who needs reality?

The Experience said...

Pretty soon the Chinese will decide to up the price of the goods they manufacture. Since they make everything we use, we're screwed. They have a stranglehold on our economies; we'll have no choice but to do what they want.

Reid Dalgleish said...

People say it's the terrorists we should be scared of, but I'm more scared of the Chinese too. They have taken over, really they have. They are quietly taking over all of the Western economies!

The Experience said...

I'm not scared of the Chinese, I'm scared of our inept leaders that have sold out our future to pacify greedy shareholders in the next quarter. What will they sell next? We don't have much left to give; they have our jobs and our resources.

Reid Dalgleish said...

It's all true, Jon. Only a collective revolt will truly change things. It may already be too late to do anything, but I suspect that if things get bad enough, 'we, the people' can rise up and pretty much dictate whatever we want through collective action. Stop paying taxes! Stop buying crap! Anything to make a hit on the 'man's' pocketbook is a win for us.

Reid Dalgleish said...

...Although we'll all undoubtedly have to take a hit on our lifestyles because of it. We took far too long to respond to the sell-out shell game the politicians and CEOs were performing while hiding the truth from us.