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Thursday, August 21, 2014

THE USA IS DOING FINE!

Yes, the United States is doing fine, if not terrific, relative to the rest of the world.  The local paper this morning gave me the impression that our country had messed up the turmoil in Ukraine, seems powerless to rescue our citizens in the Middle East, can't do much for the Ebola problem in Africa, can only weakly suggest peace options in the Gaza Strip and sits on a powder keg for the coming other (than Ferguson) riots this summer.  All that was reinforced by Maureen Dowd (left), a long-time supporter of Barack Obama, who censures him with an excoriating op-ed entitled:


First of all, the world is not doing that badly.  The Cold War is over and there is no threat of a nuclear winter.  What happened to acid rain, the limits to growth and the population bomb?  The imminence of a world-wide depression facing President Obama when he first took office has been replaced by the Dow Jones again approaching an all time high.  In comparison, check out the stock markets of China (all three graphs start in the year 1990):


Japan:


Note that the China high of 6,000 is now dawdling near 2000, while Japan, the country that has made a so-called recovery, was once close to 40,000, and now jiggles around 15,000.  And, by the way, the worth of 40,000 in 1991 is today something closer to 70,000.  The USA?

Yes, we are doing fine, indeed.

What else is good.  The price of oil seems to have stabilized:


The red line is the inflation adjusted price .  So what does the the biggest world producer, Saudi Arabia, do with its revenues?  They spend $67 billion on their military, 9.3% of their gross domestic product.  The top three+ in annual military spending:

#1   USA               $640 billion   3.8%
#2   China             $188 billion   2.0%
#3   Russia           $  88 billion   4.1%
#4   Saudi Arabia  $  67 billion   9.3%
.
#8   Japan             $  49 billion   1.0%

That $640 billion for the U.S.?  You could almost double that figure when you count all the other national security measures funded by the Feds.

The bottom line, though, is that we have no fatal threat.  We are the only supreme power left.  China has no interest in invading America.  Our Navy Seals and selected units can take care of most terrorists.  Russia sort of has one aircraft carrier nearly a quarter century old, and China's is a re-tread of a Ukrainian ship (left).  Honestly...not kidding!    The U.S.?  We have 12, with three more under construction, each to cost an additional $13 billion.  Why???  The military-industrials complex.

No reason why we should spend so much on defense.  Thus, if sanity can prevail, we actually do have more funds to apply to the environment (like global warming, for example) and education.  We can start by returning 90% of our 160,000 active-duty personnel from 150 countries back home.  Then, quickly eliminate these positions.  I could add that this number doubles when you include civilian personnel and dependents.  While we're at this, terminate the F-35 (right), a dud that is expected to cost taxpayers $1.45 trillion, which is $1,450 billion.  I fear the real bill, for that estimate was made two years ago.

More so, then, if we can ever get our politics productive, priorities progressive and attitudes constructive, I have even higher hopes for our future.  The world?  I worry about the basket case that is Europe, the trends I see in Japan with Abe touting the return of nuclear and intent to beef up its military....and a lot more.  We are not the problem, we help provide solutions.

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