REMEMBRANCE OF THINGS PAST AND PRESENT
By Sy Schechtman
Approximately 25 years
ago, in 1981 I believe, a
debate was published in
Commentary Magazine about the current status of the two most powerful world economies---the United States
and Japan. Then, as now, the
Besides their lopsidedly buoyant
economy to contend with was our “buoyant”
crime rate, especially murder, and the
generally neat and orderly Japanese environment; not the
messy place that most urban areas in the
No! America’s day in the shining sun of number one super power status was about over, and even the editor of the Wall Street Journal, who was still adamantly pro capitalist, free market United States, failed to convince faint hearted, despairing me. The admiring, pro Japanese spokesman seemed most convincing, and as the supposed Goliath of new industry in the Far East started to slowly diminish in strength we all felt confident that this was only an inevitable, very transient stumble; which has now continued for about 25 years.!
The Dow Jones Average in 1981-82 was around 800-825. Today it is near all time highs, around 11,000. The major Japanese stock index is about half the value of its 1982 level.
Now, of course, the tantalizing
question; can history repeat itself? The United States is still the super power, not the “paper tiger”
laughed at in the early eighties --Reagan corrected that image—but there are
many jeremiads about
our Iraq venture and the large the large public debt partially resulting
from this has been a very worrisome
thing, and there have evidently been civil rights incursions in our zeal to preempt more terrorist violence in our midst, and in general our
country has now become the loathsome aggressor in many people’s opinion. Among
others British historian Niall Ferguson has weighed in with the warning about debt, claiming in his book Empire
that the once mighty British Empire
collapsed eventually not because of
military weakness but because of growing insolvency due to
foreign debt, and warned that we could
be in the same bind sometime soon. as nations refuse to lend us money
because of our seemingly soaring debt. (
The great disconnect, even among Bush supporters, in
which camp I am still rather
unhappily in, is the obvious fact
that not enough troops are there
to completely control the
situation. And the proper
planning to implement the transition from overt war and invasion to adequate stability and security. Thus
the initial looting and destruction of key installations of great value strategically and for civilian use went unchecked. Oil pipelines, electric power plants and transmission lines and many military weapons storage sites
were looted and destroyed, as was the
Indeed, not unexpectedly, many
moderate prior supporters of the Iraqi invasion are
opting out, at least in the sense of supporting Bush’s conduct of the war. His approval ratings
are way down, probably the lowest
ever of any president. But the memory of the
So, can we right our apparent slide into the doghouse of universal public opinion and be once again the envied and respected super power as before? Most certainly! Primarily because we ourselves are not depressed or despondent---remember the famous “malaise” that Jimmy Carter moaned about? We certainly are unhappy about Iraq but public confidence in the country is strong as witnessed by the all time highs in the stock averages---even in the face of the current debacle at General Motors! Our economy is still the most productive in the world, inflation is low, as is unemployment. (And 70% of our people are home owners!). And our relatively positive dilemma is the illegal aliens situation where millions of poor people are constantly voting with their feet to come this country, and earn considerably more then at home even though much lower than our average national wage.
Our national age is much lower than
dignitaries have been honored with quasi sainthood and great respect. Not a trace of militant Hinduism or Buddhism; no concept of Hindu Jihad or 70 compliant virgins to reward Hindu suicide bombers. But also a striving thriving younger generation of Indian youth making great technologic strides in modern science and telecommunication, already deep into the art and skills of our modern era; not like the modern barbarians of Islam, whose greatest modern creation is still the suicide bomber, whose greatest productivity is the ratio of how many non Moslems killed per one suicide bomber.
But here, immediately on the home front, we must accelerate our media production-----and FIRE DONALD RUMSFELD!! The message to our intractably stubborn president is that loyalty is not necessarily a political hallmark of integrity; just because you never vetoed a bill is not going to be your shining legacy, so firing Rumsfeld will not tarnish your image as a compassionate conservative, but as an alert leader who once again has been “misunderestimated”. This time by admitting some of the planning was below the mark. This will help immeasurably with public opinion; and the fact that the Democrats still don’t have clue as to how to proceed.
Their attacks and threats of censure are like shooting themselves in the foot.
Unless, of course, there is some sort of ugly “smoking gun” soon to emerge!