Comments on: Welcome the U.S. relative decline Wed, 07 Oct 2015 17:23:32 +0000 hourly 1 By: paintcan Tue, 16 Oct 2012 05:38:49 +0000 excuse me – (Who) holds Libya’s … billions. No more state supported educations for them!

By: paintcan Tue, 16 Oct 2012 05:23:49 +0000 You write like a politician or the Chamber of Commerce.

“However America has risen to dominance”.

It claims that it has risen to dominance. It bases all it’s activity in the world on the preservation of dominance. And it will claim it is dominant long after it has ceased to be dominant. I have hundreds of comments asserting that the US is a fraud of dominance and it’s wars of the last ten wars have been double-talking and self-serving swindles. All you do in reply is serve up self-inflating claptrap.

I’m not talking about the US and the western countries’ definition of fiscal reality. They don’t seem to measure reality all that well actually. It will be too much of a shock to its hyper indebted economy. BTW – How holds Libya’s former leaders expatriated billions now and why aren’t they immediately returned to the country? I think I know why but it would be more interesting to hear your excuses. The word “leash” should figure at least once in it.

I mentioned Bhutan – a small country that really isn’t getting what association with the modern economies promised it. Many developing countries have reason to complain about western global dominance. The dominant power has a bigger appetite than all those it claims it serves. It can be said of them what the Indians said of the British Empire.

I have to admit – I never realized that South Korea was a part of NATO. I always thought the war was caused by a mutual aid agreement left over from the US occupation of Japan and its former empire. That was news to me.

But that wasn’t really an attack on the US but a part of cold war strategy. This country can’t seem to find enough reasons to assert its dominance even as it erodes.

But it’s pretension to dominance will not be seen as agreeable to large parts of the world if it’s dominance causes more problems than it solves. And it certainly won’t be appreciated if it purposely warps problems to its advantage or makes them when none really existed. Vito Corleone may have thought he served a vital function in Little Italy too? The organized crime syndicate in Cuba before Castro may have felt they were serving a vital function in Cuba- or they could always hire politicians and media to claim they were.

I think the Benghazi “terrorist attack” may be one of those situations where a “problem” needs our “solution” and is somewhat like the Iraq WMDs. Somehow these problems will always be found – and like Voltaire’s statement about “God” – if they don’t exist, it will be necessary to invent them.

By: OneOfTheSheep Mon, 15 Oct 2012 06:23:07 +0000 @paintcan,

If I say I actually agree in principle with most of your first paragraph here, I guess you won’t believe me. I can live with that.

Statements like “…situation can be cast in stone so that generations can be made privileged and others never get a chance” are the exception rather than the rule. The idiot of privilege with a college education may be an educated idiot, but American society does not tolerate fools gladly and their life and that of children will not be the stuff of dreams. Children of the underclass of Chicago and elsewhere that pass up their sole opportunity to get an education, however bad, make the worst of bad choices, and are forever thereafter as were/are their parents. Your perspective is frequently illogical.

Forgive me if I do not accept that the American economy “…can be “…so difficult…that no amount of talent, hard work, perseverance or even luck will do…the slightest good”. That ‘s just silly. I’m not in the least concerned with legal “newcomers”. These tend to be well prepared, persistent entrepreneurs delighted with American opportunities that often pass up many native born on their way up the greasy pole, and I cheer them even louder as they climb.

There are capable people in developing countries well able to lead. The question is always how honest are they and where do they lead? Not my problem. When you say: “This country wouldn’t pass your…personal responsibility test, you’re right. Definite ticking time bomb. What little influence I have to improve the situation, I use; and beyond that don’t worry at all. What will be, will be.

However America has risen to dominance, I agree the journey back to fiscal reality will not be easy on all. It will survive simply because the world has no alternate “trustworthy entity” to keep order and the lights and fans running.

It doesn’t MATTER why the U.S. “plays” global policeman. What should properly concern EVERYONE is what happens once there is NO “global policeman. Human nature hasn’t changed (big smile)!

Did you ever hear of NATO? That’s the post-WW II alliance in which an attack on one is considered an attack on all. South Korea belonged, as did the U.S. When North Korea attacked South Korea America had substantially disarmed and was not prepared for timely and effective response. Hung on by our teeth and took serious losses. Never again!

By: paintcan Mon, 15 Oct 2012 03:48:07 +0000 You are always using truisms that aren’t so true. No doubt people make choices in life but many of those choices are by default. The range of choices is very limited and depends largely on prior means. The rich do tend to get richer and the poor poorer. That situation can be cast in stone so that generations can be made privileged and others never get a chance. You haven’t attempted to disprove my statements. I’m simply saying that so much debt – and it wasn’t personal debt (and there you are being the old fool looking only in your “rear view mirror)- but massive corporate debt service from two decades of leveraging every major business to the max, and a real estate market living on no money down to pay for ridiculously over priced real estate and a stock market that was sometimes ignoring margin requirements (to the point where they were lower then they ever were since the roaring 20’s) that caused the credit collapse. If a person wanted a home of his own, they more or less had to participate in that market. You also don’t allow for the fact that property taxes tended to go up as well as all the related costs of homeownership, whether you lived like scrooge or not. And the IRS encourages home ownership for a variety of good social reasons but also because it generates a lot of cash for banks to increase their lending. Knowing the tricks of the trade is what really pays off and others do the “hard work”.

My statements are intended to show that we are moving into an economy with vast disparities of wealth and that situation could become permanent, and so many know it. You even admit that “luck” has a lot to do with success. But the economy can be made so difficult for newcomers that no amount of talent, hard work, perseverance or even luck will do those people the slightest good. Your Norman Rockwell truisms just won’t matter.

I also want to make it quite clear that the leveraged way of life is very difficult to export to other developing countries, without totally destroying their ways of life. And our way of life depends on massive cash flow and all levels of debt or it seizes up. Bhutan is questioning the wisdom of the modern economic way of life with good reason. They might want to pick and chose what they want from modernism but the western economies could paint them as recalcitrant and unfair. They have “a king” if he “plays ball” but a “dictator for life” if he doesn’t. They are portrayed as environmental Nazi’s by businesses that want to exploit the resources for global markets and the rate of poverty has increased now that they are trying to integrate the country into the modern economy. It doesn’t sound like much of an improvement for them at all. They have buildings that are suited for the climate without the need for extensive fuel consumption, and the landscape is beautiful. The have a way of life not based on consumption. You should like them. But the modern economies will bend or ignore any fact or concern to fill their own stomachs first.

5% of the planets population is using about 80% of the resources and it was all got by debt. That isn’t a figure that seems to be used at all anymore. This country wouldn’t pass your or Romney’s personal responsibility test. It is one enormous appetite that borrowed it’s way to dominance. But if it stops – it will go through worse agonies than a heroin addict and it will not be a power at all.

The Chinese are doing so well because they learned how to hybridize capitalist business practice with socialist planning and they love “cash”. In fact they invested the word. They can’t afford massive unemployment yet but when they get it they are going to have to find ways of keeping a lot of idle hands busy and they will have to learn the treacherous ways of debt. They should be loads of fun. They want to be able to censer business papers. They could even give Madoff a few lessons eventually in how to seduce those ever so earnest and hardworking wealthy investors. You can catch millionaires, or wanna be millionaires by making them think they will be multi millionaires or even billionaires.

What I usually object to about your comments is you seem to like that fact that “losers” deserve their fate but I’m sure you will sing another song if you find you are one. The “winners” seem to see no role for government to even the score, unless their own “deserving” hind ends are the ones at risk. You have insured that you live in a secure enclave of your own devising with your gun for protection where you never see the wreckage of policies. You probably don’t know anyone in the lower income brackets like I do. Those people tend not to have a lot of wiggle room.

Money opens doors. Without it, they don’t tend to budge. That’s the hard truth. The low-income person just might get in but it will only be to the “Sal du pas perdue” with a lot of other applicants. Less above board and never admitted means are required to get out of that room, I’m sure.

The country has an enormous target painted on that very big heel it wants to stride the globe with. They probably won’t buy your homilies. I’m sure very few now believe your rhetoric about America’s service to the globe in the form of a bloated military budget. The US doesn’t play global policeman for the benefit of the world, but for it’s own. Don’t lie.

BTW – if affirmative action ends it will because the black people who once benefited by it don’t want any more competition. The wealthy and privileged can use some of the phoniest excuses imaginable.

What petty dictator even attacked the US after WWII? Castro took over and booted the mafia from Cuba. North Korea attacked South Korea. That wasn’t the USA. You nurse a very large sense of “US”. The Israeli’s seem to know how to lead your “us” around by its very insecure nose.

By: OneOfTheSheep Sun, 14 Oct 2012 21:18:15 +0000 @paintcan,

You say: “Simply living within your means doesn’t cut it.” “our” subject was your earlier statement that “WE have an economic system designed to generate debt”, and most people’s “debt” is of “personal debt” which largely DOES arise from not being able or willing to live within one’s means. In the long run, how much is spent should only come as a surprise to those who believe themselves solvent as long as they still have blank checks in the checkbook.

When you jump over to those who would go into business, you speak of a huge minority. Of that minority a huge majority attempt to do that with “inadequate funds” and the huge failure rate of new business is directly related to that.

There are not many businesses that can get funding to start up with “other people’s money”, and God help those “other people” most of the time that are the exception. Debt, like fire, can be a useful tool to the intelligent and a danger to the community at large in the hands of a fool.

And then there are those who prioritize paying themselves first, because they “deserve” it; thus condemning their efforts to inevitable failure when their taxes are not paid, their employees are not paid, or their suppliers are not paid. It is cold, hard economic fact that you cannot pay out money you have not created via your “business model”.

There are necessary “private” and “public” construction projects. Financing for each is both necessary and different. The decision to buy a house is a personal one and those whose income is reasonably established as reliable or adequate in the long term should not buy one. Yes, we bought a house with VA financing I earned honestly, and yes, we bought homeowners insurance. We felt fortunate, over the years to be able to do so; not victimized.

Every car my wife and I have purchased since 1972 has been for cash. Before that we bought three on multi-year loans. either way we did not make a purchase contrary to our long term financial well being. Life in general is “…very difficult for the lower income levels…” in any country…”. What’s your point?

I actually agree with much of the rest of this latest rant, until you speculate as to the “…reason why the US government budget devotes 60% to defense…guaranteeing cash flow to enormous strings of corporate and private debt service.” America became withdrawn and self-centered after WW I, so much so that our ever-increasing lack of preparedness encouraged petty dictators to attack us simply because our values would eventually have to be confronted if they were to have their way on Earth.

After WW II, we did much the same until the Communist alliances “woke us up” in Korea. National defense is a challenge a major country fails to meet only once, and American defense spending has returned many, many benefits to how people live the world over. Would that the same could be said about the additional money spent over that same period on education, farm subsidies, welfare and affirmative action. Kids back then, by and large, left high school equipped to “make their own way”. Today, most leave only understanding the excuses why they are not.

Debt is but one of many tools we humans use. The sledge hammer can be used to build the railroad or to destroy the locomotive. You seem to be a person who would drive with sole reference to the rear view mirror, seeing nothing ahead and not even aware that your present is the inevitable result of choices made, good and bad, long ago. Choices have consequences; and by such consideration who, here, is the “old fool”?

By: paintcan Sun, 14 Oct 2012 17:08:44 +0000 @Gordon2352- How would you fix the Constitution, or the government bureaucracy, or the nation as a single or even a collection of states? The whole country would love to know a sure fix for even the simple problems. Was it you who wanted to “start from scratch”? What would the first scratches look like?

And what’s it matter if OOTS and I snipe at each other? Our disagreement won’t cause the collapse of the country of the currency. He’s an old fart and I’m an old fart in training.

BTW – I tired to find the comment link you posted to another blog but found a long list of other articles and didn’t try to get through them. Mr Hadas doesn’t seem to care how long this thread gets so why not just post it here?

By: paintcan Sun, 14 Oct 2012 15:48:42 +0000 @OOTS – Simply living within your means doesn’t cut it. When someone wants to start a business they must go deep into dept to secure financing. All construction projects in this country are financed with debt. In fact, they require two tiers of debt. First, they require short-term higher interest construction loans and those are then turned into longer term mortgage loan. The IRS code encourages that. All major municipal infrastructure improvements are financed through the issuance of bonds. Financing requirements often require insurance as a backup.

People do not usually buy houses for cash and when they have a mortgage they are required to buy homeowners insurance. Most people do not buy cars with cash. The car loan requires the security of auto insurance.

This country needs debt at all levels and lots of it, or it’s economy slows to a snails pace. To function in the modern economy one must be capable of taking on heavy debt loads. Modern American life ABSOLUTELY requires it it and it is very difficult for the lower income levels in this country to do that. Wake up you smug old fool!

This was where Romney was dead wrong. When the debt spiral collapsed, the upper income levels of this country felt it was the governments responsibility to bail them out or they would have been destroyed. And the amounts of debt and leveraging the big boys can play with are staggering and even reckless. They are the forces that toy with derivatives and ever easing margin requirements the more you invest. Those greedy and very foolish investors in Madoff’s scam are all feeling very “entitled” to relief. All the survivors of 9/11 were stridently bitter and felt “entitled” to massive relief. And they were not Romney’s low income 47%. Modaoff’s victims were all in the very upper percentile income group. None of them thinks they should just eat the losses. And they most certainly consider themselves “victims”. Madoff’s chumps were really greedy for privileged and ill-advised returns that any sane money manager would say were phony and suspicious. Life style choices you say? Is that Fifth Avenue address and Nieman Markus, of Sak’s wardrobe (to fill a closet the size of a bedroom – I’ve seen them) something one simply can’t live without? Is a car costing over $100,000 or 5000 sq foot plus houses necessary to perform a job adequately? For certain income brackets you don’t rise in the ranks until you can show you can live like a lord. The US is a very class riddled society but it is very hypocritical and subtle.

People may indeed feel they are “entitled” to government support and that is in direct proportion to how the government at all levels demands that you don’t actually protect yourself because it isn’t quite possible to do that. And even though I say that, I am not a back to the wilderness survivalist. I have only been a very low-income person most of my life and don’t even dream about big debt. I try to live on cash and minimal credit card debt. But this country couldn’t live on a population of people with my means. The most I have ever been able to afford has been very short-term credit card debt and I like it that way. It keeps life and bookkeeping so simple and not at all overwhelming.

People in this country and any civilized country governed by “The Rule of Law” are constrained in almost every aspect of their daily life by those laws. If those laws were poorly designed or misused by the most privileged income groups, of course they will feel betrayed. And “bitterness” isn’t quite adequate to describe what some feel.

The developed world needs the developing world to convert to indebtedness as a way of life. Perhaps that won’t work as well as the developed world hopes. There is a reason why the US government budget devotes 60% to defense. That 60% is guaranteeing cash flow to enormous strings of corporate and private debt service. Without it the economy collapses. But it must be raised through taxation and the wealthier tier can’t afford to spend too much on taxation or their debt service requirements start to feel the pinch and the great train of mutual indebtedness starts to come to a halt. Almost every aspect of commercial and personal life in this country depends on being able to service large amounts of debt and that is it’s Achilles heal.

BTW – my comments aren’t always “bitter”, if you refer to me. I’d say they were rude, sarcastic, arch, critical, or just plain “calling a spade a spade”. I was never one who could “wager” much of anything and my “bitterness” comes from the fact that so many high flying and high living gamblers made such a through mess of things.

By: OneOfTheSheep Sat, 13 Oct 2012 20:33:34 +0000 @paintcan,

When did our economic system become “designed to generate debt”? Who is responsible for that if it be true?

The insurance companies did not create the “need” for insurance (which existed as long as investors have sought to “spread the risk” among ships sent out, some of which would not return (based on prior experience). Debt is nothing new.

In “good economic times”, there are more who can be lenders, and there is more “surplus to immediate needs” money that must be “put out at interest” so long as the rate of return is in excess of the rate of inflation. In every case, the borrower had best not be borrowing to meet ongoing “needs” of a certain life style their income is inadequate to support. I don’t have great patience with the “victim” mind set of “The Devil made me do it”.

But we each have to “step up to the plate” and cut back when money is “short”. No one decides for me to spend money I don’t have, not even hospitals. I once pawned a .22 rifle to get $5 until payday while in the service, due to unexpected and unavoidable expense. On payday I was right there with the $5+ to get it back.

Those unable or unwilling to accept and act in accordance with such realities are gambling that “things will get better”. That’s a bet with 50-50 odds, at best. Not something on which I would EVER wager my immediate future, but many do, again and again. Some of those that so wager get thrown off the economic merry-go-round and wind up here posting bitter comments.

By: paintcan Sat, 13 Oct 2012 04:41:25 +0000 “Your comparison of the U.S. to a vain woman is that of a dissatisfied and ungrateful sychophant to such a person,”

Oh no OOTs – that describes you! Or you don’t know how to use “sycophant” in a sentence? You don’t seem to understand a word I’m saying about out way of life here as compared to other places in the world, especially Europe. The USA does not have the definitive top-of-the- line way of life or standard of living. That is the product of our own self flattering, “sycophantic” media.

“We the People”, as you like to put it, punish those that tell us what we don’t want to hear or if journalists become “too independent” aka “radical” in their opinions. Such opinions are starved of advertising dollars. The corporate advertisers and large industrial producers world-wide determine how you live and what you will like. They are the Musak of your life. And it should be obvious by now that devotion to them is irrelevant in as much as they are not devoted to you. And the only thing global corporations want out of you comes from your wallet.

WE have an economic system designed to generate debt and debt passes for wealth here. There is something to be said for that approach as a way to grow a large economy but it is also very unstable and exceptionally vulnerable to shock and crisis. Debt is a promise to pay that can only work as long as the promise can be kept. The promise can’t be kept now by as many as used to be able to do that. Obviously! That is where your “metrics and logic” fail.

Sycophant is not a word to describe me in any of my comments since I started making them.

But I could warm to the idea of being a “mosquito in a nudist colony”. A lot of people are getting a bit more “naked”. We may well become streakers before too long.

By: walterlibby Fri, 12 Oct 2012 19:15:46 +0000 Is fail-safe the next political and economic buzzword? Check it out @