The American Economy
Response to Essay by Chris Floyd
Blood Pact: American Hegemony and the True
While Floyd makes many good points, it is important
to highlight the truly atrocious stewardship of our economy
during the last decades, not only this administration but many
before it. The reasons are close to what the author of the
article suggests: vested interests of
the elite, but exactly
how does the elite benefit? The crucial factor to keep in the
mind is that the status quo benefits by maintaining the status
quo; ergo, by definition, it is always conservative, even regressive,
because it resists, in the present case by force of arms, changes
that could undermine its privilege. Exactly how necessary,
intelligent, or sound is this resistance?
We need only look at the transistor to
get our answer. Americans developed the technology but did
not implement it. Sony beat the U.S. to the market and we know
the rest of the story. Had this not occurred, our TVs might
still have tubes and all sorts of other now antiquated technology.
So, how do we sustain the myth that Americans are innovative
and entrepreneurial, you know, that "good 'ole American know how." Obviously, we cannot any
longer support this myth. The U.S. is, according to this author,
in an "advanced state of decadence." Precisely what does this
mean? Basically, it means we have lost our grip on the economy,
but partly this is because of many other myths, including some
taught at Harvard Business School. For instance, we were taught
that competition is good for us; we were told of the benefits
of antitrust laws; and we were made to believe that by endless
pillage and plunder of resources, the economy could continue
to grow at a proud rate of 5-10% a year. Of course, many only
invest in stocks that they hope will grow at 30% or more per
year, showing that these people do not really believe any of
the basic laws of Nature or the economy.
For instance, Nature does not have an endless
growth potential; it is cyclical and depends on renewability.
A tree grows, produces fruit, and next year, it produces fruit
again and again. We are all of us alive today because our ancestors
understood this fact, but where did I learn to discriminate
the difference between macro economics as viewed on Wall Street
and as seen by Nature? in a village in Andhra Pradesh where
American entrepreneurs were trying to coax illiterate farmers
into growing a different kind of rice. The farmer looked at
the "experts" very respectfully
but sternly and said, "Sahib, I am here today because my father
and his father and his father's father grew this kind of rice.
Please take your rice back to your country."
In the news last week, we heard how 1800 sheep
died after foraging on GMO crops in India. The farmer did not
prevail over the aggressive marketing of the multinational corporations
that are totally out of touch with the most important word in
economics: sustainability. We are so fiscally immature that we
covet very short-term profits without thought for tomorrow. Mañana
however comes and brings with it the hardship of bad decisions.
We are now in a muddle over pump prices, but we are told Europeans
have been paying much more for years. Is this true? Has anyone
bothered to add the cost of taxes to build weapons and wage war
to the sticker price at the pump? This is the true cost of lack
of ingenuity, failure to develop viable alternatives to fossil
fuels, and criminal misuse of power. Why should the elite worry
so much about investments? At any time in the last fifty years,
Mobil could have invested in alternative energy and staked out
a place for itself as the primary provider of solar panels and
wind generators, but will we be importing these from Denmark
or China in the future?
Investment in weapons benefits the arms dealers, people who
sit on the board of the Carlyle Group and make deals with petty
tyrants they elevate to power one day and crush the next. There
is a long list of CIA favorites who were later deposed for failure
to tow the official line. What is most shameful in the present
scenario is the collapse of clear thinking and moral rectitude
because no society can remain viable when its agenda is based
not only on lies but an intolerable lack of foresight and criminal
deception of the masses.
Many argue that it is too late; the world
is doomed. I do not believe this. I believe these arguments
are based on science that has been bought for a price. There
are countless "fringe" scientists
with solutions for every problem facing us today.
As a former economist, I can also say that
if we cannot "afford" our
standard of living, it is possible we are not earning our way
in the world. If we look at the two most expensive costs, they
would be "defense" (which ought to be called "offense") and "health
care" (which ought to be called "hype" or something much worse.)
Both are easily addressed through creative restructuring of the
foundations of the economy. Who cares whether Dick Cheney retires
with $100 million a month income or just $1 million. For the
$99 million a month good policies might cost Halliburton, countless
others would be better off, significantly better off.
Energy is basically free. There are countless alternatives
to the present reliance on fossil fuels. So, let's see, we take
20% of the defense budget and invest it in development of alternative
energy. I wonder how many windmills and solar panels $100 billion
would buy? I bet it would be enough to make the whole of New
York independent of fossil fuels, maybe with enough left over
for Pennsylvania and Ohio!
Then, let's take 20% of the Health and Human
Services budget and invest it in sound research of natural alternatives
to expensive and usually dangerous pharmaceuticals. Like, who
cares how much Rumsfeld's personal income is impacted by this?
I would imagine that with $150 billion, we could bring health
care to the level where everyone currently uninsured could have
free health care. You see how simple it is?
The irony is that, as we are told, "this is your
your tax dollars working for you . . . or against you? The theory
on Wall Street, when I worked there in the mid-60s, was that
we need massive amounts of capital to invest in research and
development, but I discovered this is another myth. If smaller
countries like Iceland and Sweden can declare their intention
to become independent of fossil fuels, then the cost of developing
alternatives is easily within the budget of the U.S. if, IF, IF there were a will to lead honestly and not pander to
lobbyists for big interests. For these crimes against citizens,
not to mention the environment, nearly everyone on the Hill is
guilty of total lack of leadership, lack of vision, and lack