Thursday, September 30, 2004
Wednesday, September 29, 2004
War, Outsourcing and Debt
By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS
The US might be a superpower, but it is not a country that controls its own fate. Delusion does.
Much of the US public is deluded about the invasion and occupation of Iraq and its consequences and about the state of the US economy.
Just as Americans are deceived into believing that Iraq was involved in the September 11 terrorist attack on the US and threatened America with weapons of mass destruction, Americans are deceived into believing that they benefit economically from outsourcing, offshore production, and an unprecedented trade deficit.
The deceivers emphasize the lower prices, not the lost incomes and destroyed careers, that result when American workers are replaced by cheaper foreign labor. The deceivers allege that the trade deficit means that we get to consume more of the world's goods than we produce, with the added benefit that foreigners pay for our excess consumption by investing in America.
The truth of the matter is that "foreign investment" in the US today consists of Asian central banks, mainly Japan and China, using surplus earnings from massive trade surpluses to prop up the US dollar by purchasing US government bonds.
By propping up the dollar, Asians keep their goods and services cheap, thus worsening the US trade deficit. Washington goes along because Asian countries use their export surpluses to finance the US budget deficit.
Propping up the dollar undermines investment in factories or businesses that produce jobs for Americans. Stephen Roach, chief economist for Morgan Stanley, reports that in 2003 net investment in the US business sector was 60% below the level in 2000.
The US has become the world's largest debtor, in hock to foreigners for one-fourth of our Gross Domestic Product. The ratio of US external debt (what we owe to foreigners) and US exports is approaching the crisis ratios of banana republics.
It is inevitable: America's mounting debts will produce a crisis. The dollar's value will plummet, and US living standards will drop. Everything will become more expensive for Americans.
The perilous condition of the dollar is one of the reasons Bush invaded Iraq. What keeps the overvalued dollar up is the fact that it is the currency in which the Middle East bills its oil. Every country has to purchase dollars in order to pay for its oil, and these purchases keep the dollar afloat.
Just prior to the US invasion, sanctions on Iraqi oil had run their course and were about to be removed. Saddam Hussein intended to bill Iraqi oil in Euros, which could have started the abandonment of the dollar by the oil producing countries. Instead of fixing our economic problems, we started a war. In the meantime, America continues to lose high-paying jobs and entire occupations to foreigners, because US corporations outsource jobs and produce offshore. University of California professor Norm Matloff warns that outsourcing and H1-B visas, which bring foreign workers into US firms, are destroying the US software engineering profession. (Matloff's writings are available online and are worth more attention than this column provides.)
The shrinking computer science enrollments in American universities have finally caught the attention of the academic establishment. Computer science departments, which should have been speaking out long ago, have been muzzled, because they are heavily dependent on research and faculty funds from the very firms whose outsourcing practices are destroying the occupation in America.
Falling enrollments mean fewer faculty positions and graduate students. Despite their funding being threatened by fewer enrollments, most computer science professors are unwilling to contradict their corporate benefactors' false claim that "outsourcing is good for America." Another year of biting the tongue, another grant received.
Instead, the professors acknowledge that programming is a lost occupation for Americans and claim that there is still a future for American students in designing computer systems--"computer software systems architecture." Nonsense, says Matloff, a computer science professor himself. He notes that it is impossible to design computer systems without having years of programming experience. If you lose programming, you lose the base for the occupation, and all the rest goes offshore as well.
Some economists claim that lost occupations will return to the US once wages rise in India and China. Matloff's answer: "Did manufacturing work return to the US over time as wages rose in developing countries? Of course not." Only America is stupid enough to give away its manufacturing and high tech occupations.
Other economists allege that new high tech professions will rise to take the place of the lost computer engineering profession. Matloff punctures that delusion: Venture capitalists routinely demand that the new companies they finance outsource to the hilt.
US universities have educated enough Indians and Chinese to fill every high tech job American firms have to offer. The false claim that only drudgery jobs are outsourced is laughable.
If you believe that lie, you believe Saddam Hussein was in cahoots with Osama bin Laden and had weapons of mass destruction.
Paul Craig Roberts is John M. Olin Fellow at the Institute for Political Economy and Research Fellow at the Independent Institute. He is a former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal and a former assistant secretary of the U.S. Treasury. He is the co-author of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.
"The biggest single difference between the debates this year and four years ago is that President Bush cannot simply make promises. He has a record. And I hope that voters will recall the last time Mr. Bush stood on stage for a presidential debate. If elected, he said, he would support allowing Americans to buy prescription drugs from Canada. He promised that his tax cuts would create millions of new jobs. He vowed to end partisan bickering in Washington. Above
all, he pledged that if he put American troops into combat: 'The force must be strong enough so that the mission can be accomplished. And the exit strategy needs to be well defined.'
Comparing these grandiose promises to his failed record, it's enough to make anyone want to, well, sigh."
See the full article (Registration required).
Friday, September 24, 2004
"PARACHUTE, Colo. -- The last sanctuary of the West Douglas wild horse herd is a desolate, forbidding place, which is just how the horses like it. As many as 60 skittish sorrels and bays make their home on the steeper slopes and stony ridges north of here, abandoning the valleys to growing throngs of oil and gas men looking for places to drill.
Now, even this refuge may soon be lost. The U.S. Interior Department, which has leased 93 percent of the horses' preserve to
energy companies, recently unveiled plans for evicting the entire herd. Under the proposal, the animals will be rounded up using nets and tranquilizer darts and then hauled away for adoption. The reason cited: Wild horses are incompatible with the region's intensive gas production. "
So begins an article in the Washington Post, entitled, Land-Use Decisions Largely Favor Energy Industry about the Bush record on the environment. Another evidence of the manifold tragedy, the unredeemed greed this administration represents.
Thursday, September 23, 2004
"Yet this is staring us in the face. Iraq: could the world have conceived, in 1947, that US troops could not hold Hamburg, Frankfurt and Munich? That American leaders could only sneak into Germany on furtive, unscheduled peek-a-boo missions? That the American occupation officials, hardly daring to emerge from their fortified ghetto, could not control most of Berlin? Afghanistan: could anyone have imagined an America as feckless in its response to Pearl Harbor as to the even greater humiliation is suffered on September 11th? The very country that was supposed to feel the full weight of American wrath now houses a puppet semi-government which cannot even control its own capital, and a scattering of American troops bring no results other than their own occasional deaths. The United States has fallen far. The inability to see the significance of the change is almost as spectacular as the change itself."
From "Three Years and Counting? How Time Flies" by Michael Neumann
Much has been written about the decline of America, the perils of imperial pursuits and the unsustainability of empire. But this article by Michael Neumann puts what many people have tried to say in sharper and clearer focus than any others I've seen. An outstanding review. Scintillating!
The prescription with which Neumann ends his article (dump Israel) is too specific for the large questions he raises, but does point to America's marked lack of any instinct of self-preservation.
A must read. I thought Pat Buchanan had best articulated this viewpoint so far, but Neumann has delivered a short tour de force.
Wednesday, September 22, 2004
High Plains Grifter
Part 1: The Ties that Bind
Part 2: Mark his Words
Part 3: More Pricks than Kicks
Part 4: Jesus Told Him Where to Bomb
Part 5: Bush's Mark of Anarchy
Coda: The House Rules
Greg Palast, the author of "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy" has written an article on the Dan Rather story called "Rather Lynching". He quotes Rather's rather prophetic statement (to a British audience), a couple of years ago, that any journalist daring to ask tough questions in America would be given the equivalent of the the South African "rubber tire" treatment (putting a burning rubber tire around one's neck).
Fraudida 2000 Goes National in 2004
The disenfranchisement of black voters in the 2000 elections in Florida is now being repeated on a wider scale. The story, Millions blocked from voting in US Elections, was on the front page of Yahoo a few minutes ago, and then completely disappeared, buried deep inside. Here's a quote from the story:
"There are individuals and officials who are actively trying to stop people from voting who they think will vote against their party and that nearly always means stopping black people from voting Democratic," said Mary Frances Berry, head of the U.S. Commission on Human Rights.
"In elections in Baltimore in 2002 and in Georgia last year, black voters were sent fliers saying anyone who hadn't paid utility bills or had outstanding parking tickets or were behind on their rent would be arrested at polling stations. It happens in every election cycle," she (Vicky Beasley of the People for the American Way) said.
Every politician needs to speak about it, every newspaper needs to make a stink about it. And all of us need to raise hell.
Tuesday, September 21, 2004
Sunday, September 19, 2004
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF JOE REPUBLICAN
Joe gets up at 6 a.m. and fills his coffeepot with water to prepare his morning coffee. The water is clean and good because some tree- hugging liberal fought for minimum water-quality standards. With his first swallow of coffee, he takes his daily medication. His medications are safe to take because some stupid commie liberal fought to insure their safety and that they work as advertised. All but $10 of his medications are paid for by his employer's medical plan because some liberal union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance - now Joe gets it too.
He prepares his morning breakfast, bacon and eggs. Joe's bacon is safe to eat because some girlie-man liberal fought for laws to regulate the meat packing industry.
In the morning shower, Joe reaches for his shampoo. His bottle is properly labeled with each ingredient and its amount in the total contents because some crybaby liberal fought for his right to know what he was putting on his body and how much it contained.
Joe dresses, walks outside and takes a deep breath. The air he breathes is clean because some environmentalist wacko liberal fought for laws to stop industries from polluting our air.
He walks to the subway station for his government-subsidized ride to work. It saves him considerable money in parking and transportation fees because some fancy-pants liberal fought for affordable public transportation, which gives everyone the opportunity to be a contributor. Joe begins his work day .He has a good job with excellent pay, medical benefits, retirement, paid holidays and vacation because some lazy liberal union members fought and died for these working standards.
Joe's employer pays the same standards because Joe's employer doesn't want his employees to call the union. If Joe is hurt on the job or becomes unemployed, he'll get a worker compensation or unemployment check because some stupid liberal didn't think he should lose his home because of his temporary misfortune.
Its noontime and Joe needs to make a bank deposit so he can pay some bills. Joe's deposit is federally insured by the FSLIC because some godless liberal wanted to protect Joe's money from unscrupulous bankers who ruined the banking system before the Great Depression.
Joe has to pay his Fannie Mae-underwritten mortgage and his below- market federal student loan because some elitist liberal decided that Joe and the government would be better off if he was educated and earned more money over his lifetime.
Joe is home from work. He plans to visit his father this evening at his farm home in the country. He gets in his car for the drive. His car is among the safest in the world because some America-hating liberal fought for car safety standards. He arrives at his boyhood home. His was the third generation to live in the house financed by Farmers' Home Administration because bankers didn't want to make rural loans. The house didn't have electricity until some big- government liberal stuck his nose where it didn't belong and demanded rural electrification.
He is happy to see his father, who is now retired. His father lives on Social Security and a union pension because some wine- drinking,cheese-eating liberal made sure he could take care of himself so Joe wouldn't have to.
Joe gets back in his car for the ride home, and turns on a radio talk show. The radio host keeps saying that liberals are bad and conservatives are good. He doesn't mention that the beloved Republicans have fought against every protection and benefit Joe enjoys through out his day. Joe agrees: "We don't need those big-government liberals ruining our lives! After all, I'm a self-made man who believes everyone should take care of themselves, just like I have."
Friday, September 17, 2004
Thursday, September 16, 2004
The item referred to is depleted Uranium (DU) and its impact is discussed in a frightening article on the English website of Al Jazeera (see full article).
- the half-life period of depleted uranium is 4.5 billion years.
- an undue number of deformed births have been reported in Iraq
- cases of cancer have skyrocketed
- a number of US service personnel have also been affected, and a huge number from the first Gulf War (remember the Gulf War Syndrome?)
- among the victims is Major Doug Rokke, director of the US army's DU project in 1994-95.
Finally, Kofi Annan has worked up the gumption to get his tongue around the word, 'illegal', to describe a war started in contempt of the UN (in the name of safeguarding UN resolutions, but not seeking a resolution for the War itself).
Will he investigate this atrocity (for if true, that is precisely what it is)?
Wednesday, September 15, 2004
"I used to chat up a number of students when we were walking back to class," Tsurumi said. "Here was Bush, wearing a Texas Guard bomber jacket, and the draft was the No. 1 topic in those days. And I said, 'George, what did you do with the draft?' He said, 'Well, I got into the Texas Air National Guard.' And I said, 'Lucky you. I understand there is a long waiting list for it. How'd you get in?' When he told me, he didn't seem ashamed or embarrassed. He thought he was entitled to all kinds of privileges and special deals. He was not the only one trying to twist all their connections to avoid Vietnam. But then, he was fanatically for the war."
That's how Prof. Yoshi Tsurumi, George W. Bush's economics professor at Harvard Business School in 1973, described his impressions of his student (SEe full article in Salon (Free Day Pass Available)).
Prof. Tsurumi found Bush to be ill-mannered, unashamed of showing off his high connections. He used to come late to class, sit in the back, chew tobacco and spit into a cup. He was in the bottom 10% of the class.
If you want an insight into the character of this weak and mean youth who grew up to sit in the Oval Office and order young men and women to their doom for a false cause, this article deserves your attention.
Monday, September 13, 2004
(See article: Guns N' Poses).
Sunday, September 12, 2004
A Newsweek poll says the race has tightened, and so has Kerry's message. He finally spoke out against Black disenfranchisement, but only at a meeting of the Congressional Black Caucus (guided no doubt, by an appropriate focus group). Where is Edwards, by the way? We don't see him on the news at all.
Thursday, September 09, 2004
And oh yes, wasn't he the guy who would appear frequently on TV and say things like, "the votes have been counted over and over again...", knowing full well that they had not been counted even once, during the Florida 2000 fraud election?
He is. Anyhow, this is a regular republican ploy as long as I can remember. They fuss about the debates, forcing everyone to say their guy is so abysmally devoid of debating skills that he's ducking it. Then they appear, and a full sentence evokes an 'Egad, that's pretty good' from the watching public.
Don't let's fall for this. Bush can debate as well as any one. What he has to say is another matter. My worries in this debate lie entirely with Kerry.
Wednesday, September 08, 2004
With all his crimes, Saddam was not a religious bigot. Bush may have eased the path for Iran -- and Al Qaeda -- to play a bigger role in the region.
Byrd railed against all this from a simple standpoint -- a war is not for the president to declare. A constitutional purist, he reasoned that it was too serious a matter to be left to one man. All we had to do was follow the rules. But I forget. If we had, we wouldn't have had this presidency... Duh!
I hope he regrets his Willie Horton -- the coyness with which he permitted his surrogates to slime Kerry (not forgetting the sly, "I honor Sen. Kerry's service..."). His National Guard service is the last thing he needs to be a topic in this campaign.
The chickens, it would seem, are coming home to roost.
Tuesday, September 07, 2004
Today the 1000th American life was lost in the Iraq war. A far greater number of Iraqis have died as well, all to serve Bush and his cohorts' shifting fancies of remaking the world.
It is time to see this megalomania for what it is. It is exactly this sentiment which drives the Hitlers and Stalins of the world, or the Osama Bin Ladens. Lives are mere tokens in a Great Game.
Tomorrow's NY Times also has a headline, "U.S. Conceding Rebels Control Regions of Iraq ".
In a fair world, Bush, Cheney, Powell, Rumsfeld, Rice and the rest would be tried as war criminals, and so-called honorable men such as Guiliani and McCain, Schwarzenegger and Pataki, who cynically offered them cover, arraigned as accessories.
"I've steered clear until now of how Mr. Bush evaded service in Vietnam because I thought other issues were more important. But if Bush supporters attack John Kerry for his conduct after he volunteered for dangerous duty in Vietnam, it's only fair to scrutinize Mr. Bush's behavior."
Kristoff goes on to give evidence from various individuals at the Air National Guard in Alabama during the period Bush says he was there, but hasn't been able to locate anyone who can place him there.
It takes enormous chutzpah to accuse the other guy of wimpiness, especially when he volunteered for a war you not only ducked, but ducked the sinecure you got for ducking the war.
There was a joke about a guy who, unlike others, would always give his age as 35, no matter how many years apart he was asked. When questioned, he said he wanted to be steadfast. If Kerry fought in Vietnam, and came home transformed in mindset, that is certainly more acceptable than someone who sticks to the same lie, now finally wearing thin.
Kerry should embrace his criticism of the war, and add to it the criticism of the Iraq war, where the 1000th US soldier died today.
Today, he expanded on that theme, linking the deficit projected today by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to Bush, saying, according to the Washington Post, "Only George W. Bush could celebrate over a record budget deficit of $422 billion, a loss of 1.6 million jobs and Medicare premiums that are up by a record 17 percent...W stands for wrong -- the wrong direction for America."
Good work, Senator. After months of scoring self-goals, you've finally found Carville and Begala. It's working. Keep it up.
Monday, September 06, 2004
Graham, in his new book, Intelligence Matters, said that a year prior to the Iraq War, Gen. Tommy Franks, heading the army in Afghanistan, had told him he was distressed by orders to pull troops out of Afghanistan to prepare to deploy in Iraq.
Kerry has asked for an investigation of this charge. Let us see whether the Democrats have the tenacity to keep at it.
Sunday, September 05, 2004
"When I talked to Kerry, I cautioned him that if he did not order a stop to the dirty tricks of his Democratic underlings and allies, he may face a mini-Watergate type of scandal. For Democrats and Republicans who care about civil liberties, free speech and an equal right to run for elective office, this festering situation should invite their very focused demands to cease and desist."
So goes an article by Ralph Nader in the Washington Post (dt. 9/5/2004, registration required). He was writing about the dirty tricks Democrats were waging, including threatening an elderly lady who was collecting ballot signatures on his behalf in Oregon.
If this is true, Kerry needs to call off the dogs, and apologize publicly. In any case, he should address Nader's charge. No use crying foul over Bush's dirty tricks (admittedly on a much grander scale than anything the Democrats have probably thought up) when engaged in similar behavior yourself. But perhaps I am being overly optimistic. Kerry's call to be optimists, not opponents, urging a positive campaign, is probably limited to his encounters with Bush, in his mind.
"Watching their bullying maneuvers and harassing lawsuits around the country, I marvel at the absence of condemnation by Sen. John F. Kerry or Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic National Committee chairman."
"Sen. Kerry told us that he would look into this situation seven weeks ago but we have not heard back from him yet. Around the same time, McAuliffe told me in a phone conversation that he actively approved of these organized efforts, one of which is ironically called the Ballot Project. He urged me to run only in the 31 states considered to be locked up by one of the two candidates."
Well, about time, wouldn't one say? After all, he was cornered in Tora Bora in late 2001, if you recall, and rather than commit US forces, they outsourced the job to Afghan warlords, whom history records as being noticeably partial to the higher purse. Osama was apparently more persuasive, and he and his associates, including Al Zawahiri (who was declared dead by the administration early on) made good their escape.
So, if he gloats about capturing the fugitive now, Bush would only be displaying his incompetence. There is a reason why the "Wanted, dead or alive" of the early days following 9-11 dissipated into the "We don't really care what happened to him" of later.
Let's not forget Mullah Omar either, the leader of the Taliban government. The Clinton Administration had cut off all aid to the Taliban. After coming to office (all in the few months before 9-11!) the Bush Administration gave 43 million dollars to the Taliban Click here to see an article written May 2001, well before 9-11. In fact, the article even asks why the Bush administration wants to give aid to a government which harbors Osama Bin Laden!
Why John Kerry does not raise this 'Faustian Bargain' (in the words of the article) in every speech is past my understanding. Why did the Bush administration in Texas (when he was Governor) invite a Taliban delegation to Texas to do business?
What about the oil connection? The current ambassador to Afghanistan (post-Taliban) is Zalmay Kahlilzad, a Unocal executive. As, evidently, was Hamid Karzai himself. The Bush-Cheney-Taliban-Oil connection bears investigation, and Michael Moore's movie exposes the surface. Why does no mainstream news correspondent follow up?
In any event, like the Zinoviev letter, it is possible (though hopefully, unlikely, given the scandal it would create) that Osama bin Laden will be captured, and the news released at the opportune time. But the Democrats need to articulate the fact that this should have happened in 2001.
To appear to be winning is to win. Not always. The defeats of Aznar and Vajpayee crept up on them. Chavez was written off. But the United States has a patently dormant sense of politics, which is one reason why what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WSYWIG) was invented here.
From that standpoint, it is essential that Kerry patch up with traditional Democratic allies, beginning with Nader. This is a tough call, but one that needs to be made right away, the sooner the better.
The impression one gets is that the Kerry campaign is in response mode, not in active mode. And as long as Bush can keep them there, he wins. One of my favorite political stories is from Pakistan (recounted in MJ Akbar's India - The Siege Within). That Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (Prime Minister of Pakistan) smoked and drank, was an open secret. But his opponents in the Islamic wing kept nipping at his heels by taunting him at every public appearance. After putting up with this for a while and dodging the question, Bhutto decided he had had enough. Finally, at one public meeting, when they heckled him about his drinking, he took them on directly. "It is true that I drink alcohol", he declared, and added, "But unlike the mullahs, I do not drink the blood of the people". The whole crowd roared, "Peevae, Peevae, Bhutto Peevae. Jeevae, Jeevae, Bhutto Jeevae" (meaning: "Drink, Bhutto, Drink. Live, Bhutto, Live). The mullahs slunk away.
The theme is an old one, dating at least to that classic, High Noon. Kerry needs to turn and take on these miserable cowards.
As Col. Welch asked Joe McCarthy, someone should ask the Bush, Cheney and Company, "At long last, have you no shame?"
What a contrast between Bill Clinton and the current occupant of the White House. Clinton grew up poor, came up by sheer excellence at every stage. George W. Bush was given entree into every opportunity by either birth or influence (including the very top spot). Clinton was a master of the facts. George can barely muster them. Clinton took a record deficit and turned it into a record surplus. Bush took a record surplus and turned it into a record deficit.
Agree with him or not, Clinton is a brilliant man and an exceptional president. What we have now is a poor excuse, on both counts.
Saturday, September 04, 2004
In my view, Kerry has to do immediately, the following:
- Criticize the Iraq policy in no uncertain terms.
- Apologize for his vote.
- Proclaim a quick troop withdrawal.
- Talk about the widespread doubt regarding voter intimidation (Florida) and ballot rigging (electronic)
- Ask for Bush's impeachment for lying to the country.
- Declare a 5-year moratorium on immigration.
- Sack James Rubin for saying he would have gone to war even if he had known WMD's were not there.
- Hire James Carville and Paul Begala, the last successful Democratic consultants.
No good answers. With all of Kerry's faults, what does one do when a President who took the country to war on the imminent threat of weapons of mass destruction shamelessly say it did not matter that none were found, and then discovers that the country doesn't think it matters either? What can a politician like Kerry do? Especially if his spokesman (James Rubin) has also said he (Kerry) would have also taken the country to war, even knowing everything he knows now? Pathetic.