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03 June 2010


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William R. Cumming

Interesting post and comments.Relative vis a vis absolute decline. My guess is both. Is it important? Yes but only if the US is true to its founder's vision. And some others also. Without the US clearly the 21st Century might well have been unbearable for most of the world including the US. So my bottom line is that decline whether relative or absolute is [are} a problem. Okay so what to do? First let's prioritize better and not try to handle all issues with equal effort since they really don't justify equal effort. Educational reform and funding provides the basic sinew for our form of democracy (Republic)and the research universities provide new ideas to stoke our economic system. So do we really need 5,000 profit making colleges and universities that survive only on student loans and do no R&D or even much academic research? I pick on them but I use that only as one example. The US funds many things that don't strengthen our national sinews of power, whether national security or civil security? So hey where are the politicians that might forge a consensus and not just operate as if being elected was a "job'?
I always used to like the "Guns" versus "Butter" discussions no matter how simplistic. What galls me is that indirectly we all pay for high priced lobbyists to preserve the status quo or legislative niches new or already carved that provide nothing in reality to the American system or polity and in fact just serve to allow non-productive raking off of assets and resources of the commons for the purpose of private enrichment. Where is our (US) rightous indigation? Do we really need 60 protectorates to have national security?


Well Obama could save $1 million by closing this office :Office to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism. There's already a civil rights division in the Justice Department, assign the duties there. Tell the latest political appointee to go find a real job. I'm sure K street's always hiring.

The beaver

Let's see what the "elite" from the Bilderberg Club decides this WE in Spain!!!
I believe that they will discuss both issues including Israel since quite a few of the members are loyal to Motherland (reason Turkey was chosen as a venue a couple of yes ago and some Turks powerful people were invited to attend the last two)
Scuttlebutt is that both Holbrooke and Susan Rice will be attending

N M Salamon

I have read both the Quadrennial Review and the NSS. Neither is facing reality:

The USA has to beg China, Japan, EU, Opec et al to suppport her imbalances both internal and external trade and corporate, private and federal. Moreover USA has to beg oil producers to keep prices down [though getting impossible, as marginal production is approaching $80/new barrel in deep seas and oil sands] which is against the interest of the producers].

I was happy to note that some of the responders did do discuss the financial reality, and indicated that these two papers did not reflect it. Thus one must conclude that these papers were designed to appease interior politics, to support the la-la land conception of the american public and K Street.

Notable that non of the responders included the liabilities in the Federal Debt of Fannie Mae, Freddie MAc and the Federal Housing Authority{?], not withstanding the explicit guaranteees thereto by the Federal Government [as China and Japan threatended to dispose of all such papers without guarantee, thus forcing the possible collapse of the reserve currency status of USD].

Yes, DoD budget is due for contraction, yes foreign aid is due for contraction, yes ear-marks are going to be non-existent very soon, yes SS effective age level will be raised ot reflect realty, and unfortunaterly so will many other programs. We in Canada faced this issue once already - very painful for all but the elites, and will do so again if the Harper Government does not wake up.


With respect,

The good news:

Your problems are of your own making. Ten years hard work by everyone under the guidance of Chicago School Economists should get you over the worst. Another Ten should put you back on top of the world.

The "cure" is increased taxation, reduced public and private debt, investment of what is available in Americas entire social and physical infrastructure. That includes public education, justice system, welfare, health, business regulation, taxation and trade policies. You are wasting far too much of your human capital by not investing nearly enough in it.

The bad news:

It ain't going to happen because I don't believe there is any power on earth that can prize the hands of special interest groups off of your Legislators, Executive and judiciary.

To put it another way:

You cannot afford debates over Texas schoolbook creationism, Gay marriage and overseas military adventures. There is serious work that needs to be done at home.

In Australia, we trod this bitter road from about 1984 to 2000. We will always have more to do.

Patrick Lang


Do you have a second residence in the US? You are a US citizen.

Did you watch "The Pacific?" Are you the product of such a union as the second world war produced? Melbourne looked like a hell of a liberty port. No disrespect is intended.

I think you should come and vote.. pl


Col. Lang,

Some American States allow non resident children of a State citizen to vote in elections. Colorado and California are possibilities I've checked without result.

Think Tokyo in 1947. Dad had just broken a major war crimes case and was celebrating, and this good looking American girl who worked for the U.S. War Department came up to him in the mess and said "You seem very pleased with yourself?".

I knew people (all gone now) who knew McArthur when he was here. One quipped that McArthur was followed around by an officer with a brown briefcase embossed with "Intelligence" in gold.


Melbourne was probably a reasonable liberty port, but I think Sydney would have been better.

In 1956 Ava Gardener made "On the beach" here. After touring the city she said "This is a perfect place to make a movie about the end of the world". The tyranny of distance lasted until the building of the B747.

Patrick Lang


You are welcome in my guest bedroom as long as you and friend are needed to qualify as Virginians. I will take you around to explain how the Yankees did not deserve to win. pl


Thank you for your kind offer. I just have to check on which side my ancestors fought before I can offer to be a Confederate Hasbarim.


'Ten years hard work by everyone under the guidance of Chicago School Economists should get you over the worst." I hope this is satire, I believe this is just what got us into this mess.

Col., " I will take you around to explain how the Yankees did not deserve to win." I'm torn between 'this hurts' and 'I agree'. Must be too many youthful summers in Westmoreland County.

Patrick Lang


"Hasbara." "Hasbarim" is the plural. We know they won, including all my ancestors. The question is - Did they DESERVE to win? pl


walrus, I'm interested in, "You are wasting far too much of your human capital by not investing nearly enough in it." Should I investigate the Chicago School Economists or can you provide more detail? Thanks, Trent

Neil Richardson

"I knew people (all gone now) who knew McArthur when he was here. One quipped that McArthur was followed around by an officer with a brown briefcase embossed with "Intelligence" in gold.

Posted by: walrus | 03 June 2010 at 06:52 PM"

Regarding Charles Willoughby, MacArthur once stated that there had been only three great military intelligence chiefs in history "and mine is not one of them." Apparently in MacArthur's court sycophancy was richly rewarded. (Contrast Willoughby's performance to that of Oscar W. Koch)



I would urge everyone to go and read each and every entry in its entirety.

Very sobering and surprisingly candid. And who would have thought the National Defense University would have a Professor of Economics? He's a pretty smart guy, this Paul Sullivan. He said:

"If we truly and honestly looked at the costs and benefits of our foreign and military policies, the structure of our alliances, and the cognitive disconnect between national security and its costs would we be doing what we are doing? Would we be in the situation we are in now economically? Would we be in such a mess in Afghanistan? Would we be sitting on the powder keg called Iraq? Would we be constantly showing invertebracy on some issues that require serious backbone, especially in the Middle East? We are a great country. Let's behave like one.

We have a powerful economy. Let's nourish it with the proper laws, regulations and incentives, rather than just letting the wolves run the feed lot for the sheep."

Go read all the responses in full, you'll be glad you did.


I enquired of my 88 year old Mom today and was told that we fought in the revolutionary war, but not the civil war for some reason

Great great Grandpa was living in West Virginia at the time and may have been too old, but I guess I could stretch a point.

Well the Confedracy didn't win, it only came second, but is the Confederacy yet subdued? I think not, judging from the tomes on the subject available in Southern book stores.

Sounds just like our situation in Afghanistan with the Taliban.


Fred, I'm not joking about Chicago school economists, I mean real economists, not TV talking heads and "commentators".

Increased taxes, brutal destruction of over protected industries through loss of subsidies, serious reforms to make markets really free, including breaking trade unions (including the AMA) if necessary.

This is called "removal of rent seeking behaviours" in economic speak, in laymans terms it means removal of all the cushy subsidies and legislation that protects sclerotic uncompetitive industries, their unions and managers.

To put it another way; applying the blowtorch of international competition is the only way forward.

Whats left after the slashing and burning is by definition internationally competitive, and you build from that. You want your kids to have real high paying jobs in internationally competitive industries, not working in some shipyard praying that Congress doesn't repeal the Jones act, as it should.

I spent about Eighteen months unemployed in the early Nineties, and I had Two technical degrees. If you told me in 1990 that by 2003 we would exporting locally designed and built GM cars to America, I would have told you you were dreaming. Next years Camaro looks pretty good too.

William R. Cumming

Did the Confederacy deserve to lose? Isn't that the real question of the War of Independence?

Patrick Lang


Well, without the French alliance the British would have won. pl

Patrick Lang


The North successfully reintegrated the rebel states, but the effort to transform the South into a clone of the North failed. We still live with the result. The transformation of the Republican Party into essentially a Southern regional party is the product of that. pl

N M Salamon

The essence of the Quadrinnial Review and NSS with respect to reality is well illustrated by the driver of this fine car:





I've got the BA in economics. I also know I live in the world, not an academic one.


Daniel Defoe (Villainy of stock-jobbers detected, 1701):

"These People can ruin Men silently, undermine and impoverish by a sort of impenetrable Artifice, like Poison that works at a distance, can wheedle Men to ruin themselves, and Fiddle them out of their Money, by that strange and unheard of Engines of Interests, Discounts, Transfers, Tallies, Debentures, Shares, Projects and the Devil and all of Figures and hard Names."

“Through the contrivance and cunning of stock jobbers there hath been brought in such a complication of knavery and cozenage, such a mystery of iniquity, and such an unintelligible jargon of terms to involve it in, as were never known in any other age or country.”: Jonathan Swift, The Examiner No. XIII, Thursday, November 2, 1710

Quoted from --


Lao Tze said (succintly): True words are not beautiful; beautiful words are not true.


Its interesting how our politics have changed - the GOP was the party of Lincoln and the North while the Democrats were the southern segregationists. Now both represent the kleptocracy while the partisans believe they are still fighting the culture wars with the Republicans holding the South and the Democrats the coasts.

As a registered independent I know how it feels to be part of a minority. I hope as time moves on many more will reconsider blind party loyalty that our first president warned about. Its high time we get back to electing citizen legislators who have the national interest before party or self-interest and who return to their real careers after serving the public good for short terms.



Economics is not my field of professional expertise, but I have some relevant practical experience, as we all do.

"applying the blowtorch of international competition"

How does the decades-old, widespread US job outsourcing practice of multinational corporations figure in your philosophy?

"real high paying jobs in internationally competitive industries"

Given the international wage/salary structure, which is a huge driver in said job outsourcing, I wonder how you envision the quoted concept being implemented in the US. I define "real high-paying" as relevant to the cost-of-living in the US.

From The United States of America (whatever that is)

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