Here Thar Be Monsters!

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16.10.13

To Lance And Squeeze

Regular readers may recall that sometime back, we looked at the word 'sequester', as in the program the US government instituted back in January of this year, to cut costs.  If you look up the legal definition of 'sequester', it means to take possession of property from a debtor until the bills are paid.  Although no one ever seems to talk about this, the US government being chock full of lawyers would certainly have chosen that word for a reason, which is what lawyer types are paid to do - dissemble, prevaricate and obfuscate.

Given that the US government has been running a sequestration program for the past year, is it any wonder that it has shut down?  Is this really a "budget battle"?  Or is it instead the prime lenders cutting off the flow of money?  Is Ben Bernanke going out and Janet Yellen coming in because she has the longer curriculum vitae in public sector economics and her husband is a Nobel lariat economist able to handle things like entire nations in receivership?

The reader is advised to scan down the right column and find the links on this page.  The first one is the US National Debt Clock.  This sobering website tells us that the US has a total of $126 trillion in unfunded liabilities and total taxpayers of 115 million people, so that every man woman and child in the US owes $1.101 million on total assets per capita of $332 thousand.  Even if we remove things like Social Security and Medicaide (now Obamacare) and count only money already borrowed, then each man woman and child in the US owes $190 thousand. In other words, if you confiscated all the assets of all the citizens of the US, it would only pay one-third of the national liabilities.

That is the textbook definition of BROKE, referred to in polite circles as bankrupt.  No amount of lawyering will change the facts, only the terminology.

"It is not, perhaps, unreasonable to conclude, that a pure and perfect democracy is a thing not attainable by man, constituted as he is of contending elements of vice and virtue, and ever mainly influenced by the predominant principle of self-interest. It may, indeed, be confidently asserted, that there never was that government called a republic, which was not ultimately ruled by a single will, and, therefore (however bold may seem the paradox), virtually and substantially a monarchy."  - Alexander Fraser Tytler, Lord Woodhouselee, (1854). Universal History: From the Creation of the World to the Beginning of the Eighteenth Century, Vol. I. Petridge and Company. p. 216.

It is now the point in US history when things will continue to worsen until the people cry out for someone - anyone - to fix the problem.  As in every other instance, this 'savior' will not be beneficial to either the American people, nor the world.  Experience has shown that the person who ultimately gets tapped for the job usually ends up causing more problems than are solved.  In recent history, we need look no further than one Adolf Hitler.

It is important to keep in mind that, no matter what else may have happened, Hitler did a bang-up job of fixing the German economy.  The people went from abject poverty under the Weimar Republic, to living the high life and nearly taking over the world in less than ten years.

One can feel the moment coming when the US citizens will cry out against a do-nothing Congress.  They will search, find and install a powerful and charismatic leader who will assume the entire powers of government in a popular mandate to 'clean up Washington.  This leader will be wildly successful at reversing decades of economic mishandling and America will get back to work - only it will be at the sacrifice of liberty and the well-being of the rest of the world.

Things could be fixed by simply repudiating the debt and returning to some semblance of sanity, much as Russia did when the USSR fell.  It is now much healthier and able to dictate policy to the US, it seems.  However, given the American public's predilection for doing nothing out of fear and/or ignorance, it is safe to assume that within the coming decade, a new global menace will emerge at the helm of the most powerful and pervasive techno-dictatorship ever built.

The reason there is so much fear and trepidation over so simple a solution as repudiation is that Americans have enjoyed about 70 years of high living based solely on the fact that it was 'last man standing' after WW2.  That's it.  Because that represents roughly three generations of good times, no one can imagine what it will be like to tighten the belt and trim a little fat.  That, however, does not make it less necessary.

In order to keep the illusion - commonly called the American Dream - going, history tells us that Americans will chose the worst of all possible solutions.  They will rally behind a single powerful leader perceived as able to cut through the Congressional morass and make things work the way they used to.  Without thinking of the consequences, the people will choose the most destructive and dangerous path out of fear of pain.  They will not lance the boil because it will hurt.  In turn, the boil will fester, causing blood poisoning, organ failure and death.  All preventable had they chosen a little pain up front.

At this point, it all seems rather unavoidable.  The American people appear unwilling to take the necessary steps to fix the problem correctly because it will mean ending a system of largesse and lard on which they have grown dependent.  Suddenly taking full and complete personal responsibility for one's life, after years of shoving it off on government, is terrifying to the average American.  Decades of voting themselves a free lunch, couching in terms like "The Great Society" and "social safety net", they must now face the prospect of going it alone - the skills for which have been lost over the past several generations.

Very soon, we will see a leader rise up who will promise not to stop the gravy train, but only if he or she is allowed to side-step the usual channels of Congress and courts.  This leader will ask to be given extraordinary powers that will be returned when the 'Great Work' is done.

America must admit two things: it can not continue monopolizing the world's resources for its pleasure, and there is no painless remedy for the current problem - either it will hurt a little at first, or a lot at the end.

As for the rest of the world, we should be prepared for uncountable troubes ahead.  If Hitler's Germany destroyed a major part of the world to stop, how much more will it take to stop a far larger nation with many more resources and technology only dreamed of by the Nazis.  And if the US goes (more) rogue, this will encourage others to launch their own initiatives without any moral stops, such as Israel, North Korea and any of dozens of non-aligned interests.

It has already begun.  Iraq and Afghanistan were the Poland of our generation.  Obama was supposed to be our Hitler, but he fizzled out like a wet fuse.  The big danger is the 2016 US elections.  We should look for someone much like Obama started off to be, with 90% approval ratings, Nobel Peace Prizes and a sort of quasi-religious support base.

The new Hitler is likely visible, though low key just now, just as Obama was after making his big speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention.  The person won't be entirely new, but won't be anyone with much of a track record to distract from the message either.  We can be reasonably sure that he or she will rise up out of the US, though.  The die has been cast in that regard.

Why not Obama?  Because if he tried to take the kind of control necessary, fully half the country would start shooting.  Bad public image for a dictator.  No, it will be someone fresh who can rally the masses on all ideological sides.

We still have the option to bite the bullet and allow the US to collapse in a controlled and contrived manner, or allow the scenario painted above to play out, with nothing less than the complete disruption of the globe as the consequence.

How desperate are you to pawn off your personal responsibility to Uncle Sugar?