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It's Time to Flog Our "Government"

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The fall of the dollar means that Americans will pay more for almost everything. The "correction" had been overdue since the US became a debtor nation, a process completed under Ronald Reagan. It was on September 16, 1985, that the Commerce Department announced that the United States had become a debtor nation and it was on that day that the American Empire died. Since that date, the GOP has been content to let consumers suck up the trade deficit with fewer real jobs. The GOP got away with it as long as China propped up the buck in order to fill the shelves at Walmart. An emerging stronger Euro changed everything. The collapse of the dollar might not have mattered as much if the US had not over many years of incompetent GOP missrule and corruption become a net debtor nation. US consumers are utterly dependent upon "cheap" merchandise from abroad; a falling dollar is catastrophic. So far, CNN and the US media seem to be treating this like a novelty story, a "kicker" at the end of the real news. Like the Democrats who thought they could "play" Bush's game and win, they just don't get it. The average American may not "get it" but he will most surely pay for it. Like almost every stupid thing that has happened to the US since World War II, the GOP is mostly to blame. But Democrats should be flogged for letting them get away with it. Iraq changed everything by pressing the point and Bush is to blame for bankupting the US with his vainglorious adventure in Iraq. The American people will pay dearly for Bush's on-going act of mass murder in Iraq. Though Democrats were, at one time, villified as "big spending liberals", it is the GOP that has run up the highest debts and deficits. Just as terrorism is always worse under GOP regimes, debts and deficits are, likewise, greater during periods of GOP missrule. The world might have tolerated our many follies as long as they could pass along bucks received for the goods sold the US. But, alas, the chain is broken. A growing number of people and nations now refuse the dollar. It was all, literally, a "confidence" game, in which all the world has lost confidence. War is a racket fought by the masses for privileged elites, big corporations, and venal politicians like Bush. Bush's quagmire is fought for the benefit of no-bid contractors like Halliburton and Blackwater. The war is financed by America's working poor and middle classes who pay for the war -with their lives abroad and with their jobs, their retirement prospects, and their access to health care at home. Bush's base -the nation's elite, his corporate sponsors, and the so-called defense industry -have paid nothing, risked nothing! Rather -they feed at the trough. The upper one percent of the population has gotten several tax cuts while the big oil companies report record profits rising concurrently with higher prices at the pump.
Just two days after 9/11, I learned from Congressional staffers that Republicans on Capitol Hill were already exploiting the atrocity, trying to use it to push through tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy. ... We now know that from the very beginning, the Bush administration and its allies in Congress saw the terrorist threat not as a problem to be solved, but as a political opportunity to be exploited. The story of the latest terror plot makes the administration's fecklessness and cynicism on terrorism clearer than ever. -Hoping for Fear, by Paul Krugman, Using Fear Commentary, NY Times
There are big profits in the death business. Go to Texas and consult the CEO of Murder, Inc. , otherwise known as DynCorp.
The war in Iraq has boosted DynCorp's revenues, responsible for about $400 million of the company's nearly $2 billion in sales. And while the company didn't specify how much the effort has added to profits, there has certainly been an upside, Lagana said, although he added that profit margins are lower than in other private industry -- often below 10 percent. For government contractors and other US-based businesses that are doing work in Iraq, the war there has continued to provide opportunity and benefits, although experts and companies alike say they are difficult to quantify. To be sure, security businesses, oil producers and defense contractors are among the biggest winners. Those who manufacture key products, from bulletproof vests to bullets themselves, and, more recently, those involved in reconstruction, have reaped the benefits, too. --Businesses find benefits, costs in war work
Money is not the soiled and over-designed scraps of paper that we carry around and pass off in exchange for "things". Money is, at last, mere faith. China, especially, had "faith" that their confidence in the almighty buck would be repaid by US willingness to buy all sorts of cheap Chinese crap at Wal-Mart and other blights on the American urban landscape. The Chinese would get it all back as long as the rest of the world was willing to wink and nod.

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The result is that Shanghai and other cities have out-Americaed, America. They have taller and uglier buildings and worse traffic amid the worst air pollution on the planet. Houston and LA look green by comparison. China is a ecological blight on the planet. The lesson one hopes China has learned is that there is price to be paid for having partnered with Satan. Wal-Mart makes a killing putting people out of work, depressing local economies, and lowering wages but it is globalization --an unholy alliance with GOP "trickle down" policies --that spawned Wal-Mart and sounded a death knell for the futures of American workers. Most recently, Wal-Mart's Chinese imports have displaced nearly 200,000 US jobs
China's entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) was supposed to improve the US trade deficit with China and create good jobs in the United States. But those promises have gone unfulfilled: the total US trade deficit with China reached $235 billion in 2006. Between 2001 and 2006, this growing deficit eliminated 1.8 million US jobs (Scott 2007). The world's biggest retailer, US-based Wal-Mart was responsible for $27 billion in US imports from China in 2006 and 11% of the growth of the total US trade deficit with China between 2001 and 2006. Wal-Mart's trade deficit with China alone eliminated nearly 200,000 US jobs in this period. Robert E. Scott, The Wal-Mart effect
The Wal-Mart effect on US workers and manufacturing is typified by the effects seen in clothing --low-cost goods with a hidden higher price: lower wages, lost jobs. Underlying every sector, however, are unsupportable US trade deficits which benefit American consumers but only so long as they have jobs themselves. As has been the trend at least since the regime of Ronald Reagan, manufacturing suffers most as Wal-Mart grows more intrusive, exploiting the trade deficit with its own undervalued currency. In effect, American consumers have financed China's economic boom.

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Of some 133,000 manufacturing jobs lost in the US, sixty-eight percent were the direct result of Wal-Mart's "partnership" with China. The effect is devastating to US workers and the US economy overall. Manufacturing jobs, after all, have generally paid higher wages and provided better benefits. The US-China trade deficits amount to more than $1 trillion in US Treasury bills and growing. It is fair to say that China has done this deliberately to rehabilitate its own economy on US backs. It has had the effect of lowering the cost of its exports to the United States and other countries.
The relationship between the dollar and the yen has been affected primarily by the adverse trade balance that we have with Japan. At the last summit meeting in London, for instance, we discussed the very high positive trade balance that Japan enjoyed then. The goal established by your own leaders was that this trade balance would be reduced. Instead, it's continued to go up. I think, as the economic market leaders have recognized, the high export of Japanese goods and the relatively low imports into Japan of other goods, the yen has strengthened in comparison to other currencies, including, of course, the American dollar.

- President Jimmy Carter, Interview with Western European and Japanese Reporters, July 11th, 1978

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What a foolhardy game of brinkmanship this has become! It is tempting to write that China has more to lose by a collapsing buck than does the US. Certainly Bush concluded thus as he parked the US Fifth Fleet in the Persian Gulf, where it is tracked undetected by Chinese subs. Money is whatever people will accept as payment for goods and services. As long as the rest of the world was confident that they could pass along their bucks or exchange them equitably, the US was not overly concerned about "fundamentals". I am now told in Europe that the strength of the dollar abroad is inexorably linked to Bush's credibility abroad. We are, therefore, screwed. Bush has no credibility. And most Americans don't have the luxury of demanding that they be paid in some other currency.


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Len Hart is a Houston based film/video producer specializing in shorts and full-length documentaries. He is a former major market and network correspondent; credits include CBS, ABC-TV and UPI. He maintains the progressive blog: The (more...)

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