Letter Re: Feedback on The American Empire is Bankrupt

I was puzzled by the piece by Chris Hedges (The American Empire is Bankrupt, from truthdig.com) that you linked to in Friday’s SurvivalBlog. There are two huge, crucial, inestimable, incredibly fundamental flaws in Hedges’ article:

* One is his assessment of the primary cause of the American national bankruptcy,
* The second is his conclusions as to who will be causing the greatest social disruption in our nation as that bankruptcy starts impacting our daily lives.

First, the fundamental causes of the American bankruptcy. Hedges quotes heavily from an article from & interview by The Financial Times’ Michael Hudson. So that I don’t take anything out of context, here is the text direct from Hedges’ article, mostly quoting Hudson:

  • “The balance-of-payments deficit is mainly military in nature. Half of America’s discretionary spending is military. The deficit ends up in the hands of foreign banks, central banks. They don’t have any choice but to recycle the money to buy U.S. government debt. The Asian countries have been financing their own military encirclement.”
  • “There are three categories of the balance-of-payment deficits. America imports more than it exports. This is trade. Wall Street and American corporations buy up foreign companies. This is capital movement. The third and most important balance-of-payment deficit for the past 50 years has been Pentagon spending abroad. It is primarily military spending that has been responsible for the balance-of-payments deficit for the last five decades.”
  • “To fund our permanent war economy, we have been flooding the world with dollars. The foreign recipients turn the dollars over to their central banks for local currency. The central banks then have a problem.”

These statements are partially true…as far as they go. But what is left out is more important than what is said. No discussion (in fact, not even a mention) of spending for the U.S. welfare state? Not even the slightest consideration of the fact that American military capabilities are clearly authorized as Constitutional responsiblities–but not our welfare state? This is, simply put, looney toons logic and math.

· Reasonable people can argue over costs, scope and effectiveness of U.S. military budgets/overseas operations (not to mention declared and undeclared wars) since 1916. But that’s not where all the big money has been going. The serious spending increases in our budget are in domestic nanny statism, welfare, circuses and feasts—since at least 1965. You don’t have to be a degreed economist to figure out that military spending constitutes “half of America’s discretionary spending” is because welfare state spending has been made non-discretionary! After all, that is why they’re called entitlements!

o We could defund every military capability we have…but not a single welfare payment can be stayed legally by the hand of the President, his Cabinet, or the U.S. Congress. Welfare and nanny-state benefits are literally entitlements, and by law cannot be left unfunded.

· Things like welfare benefits, Section 8 Housing, etc., especially in this age of electronic payments, must be paid, even if the Congress does not pass those parts of the federal budget. (I believe this was written into law soon after the Clinton-Congress budget train wrecks in the 1990s.)

· If you cut the entire U.S. military budget in half, you only dent the deficit. But if you cut just 25% of the sum total of all welfare state benefits, there would be a huge annual federal budget surplus.

o I conclude Hedges’ illogical placement of blame for the budget situation, and all of the impending consequences, are based on his political leanings… which are decidedly leftist, judging by this article. So, what is he trying to accomplish, since he is blaming the wrong folks for the crime?

Second, I completely and absolutely dispute (verily, even dismiss) Hedges’ conclusions as to who will be causing the greatest social disruption in our nation as the U.S. bankruptcy starts impacting our daily lives. Hedges states that:

* “If [other nations] succeed [in dumping the U.S. dollar as the world’s primary currency], the dollar will dramatically plummet in value, the cost of imports, including oil, will skyrocket, interest rates will climb and jobs will hemorrhage at a rate that will make the last few months look like boom times. State and federal services will be reduced or shut down for lack of funds. The United States will begin to resemble the Weimar Republic or Zimbabwe. Obama, endowed by many with the qualities of a savior, will suddenly look pitiful, inept and weak. And the rage that has kindled a handful of shootings and hate crimes in the past few weeks will engulf vast segments of a disenfranchised and bewildered working and middle class. The people of this class will demand vengeance, radical change, order and moral renewal, which an array of proto-fascists, from the Christian right to the goons who disseminate hate talk on Fox News, will assure the country they will impose.”

Hedges is saying, politely, that those crazy religious people clinging to their guns are already going nuts, and they will get even worse once they start starving! And all of the “proto-fascists,” which presumably means all of those folks recently described in Department of Homeland Security memoranda as being “risks” [read: pro-life, pro-balanced budget, conservative, libertarian, pro-2nd Amendment, Christians, ministers, bishops, Ron Paul supporters, Republicans, etc.], will be using the opportunity to enact “vengeance, radical change, order and moral renewal.” What Hedges fundamentally has done is blame all the victims for being raped!!!

* I’m surprised he didn’t go further and blame it on all of those evil “survivalists,” but even looney tunes logic has trouble blaming the preppers for the very situation they’ve been predicting for a couple of decades now.

Personally, when TSHTF I won’t be nearly as worried about “working and middle class” folks as I am about the welfare-dependent, “entitlements-R-us” folks. The working and middle class folks have the brains to figure things out–we’ve had a number of neighbors start quietly storing food and gear over the last six months–even the ones who (now regretfully) voted for Obama. But, as proven repeatedly during and after the Katrina crunch…it is the welfare-dependent underclass that will tear the cities and countryside apart. Can things get ugly among “working and middle class” types?? Of course. Still, I think most folks who actually work for a living will quickly band together for security and burden-sharing purposes to endure and survive. However, I’m far more skeptical about those who think “the government” owes them a living, no matter what the situation–survivalblog.com fans are well aware of the many violent examples of that syndrome following multiple disasters over the last decade. (If not, try a couple of internet searches for “Katrina violence” or “Katrina gun confiscation” or “Katrina looting” or…well, you get the idea.”)

Bottom line: Hedges’s article borrowed the language, analysis and conclusions of the prepper/survivalist/fiscal conservative movements–to use as a tool with which to attack them indirectly. Indeed, Hedges appears far more interested in painting the impending social unrest (read: welfare & food riots) as a tool of the another evil right wing conspiracy, than in acknowledging them as the inevitable consequence of the social policies he has supported and championed.

Many of us were taught in our youth that we should “dance with the girl what ya brung.” I think Hedges has concluded his “girl” (read: politics) is darn ugly, emits foul body odors, suffers from multiple social diseases, and has bad teeth to boot. Not surprisingly, he now wants to switch partners while blaming it on all the other, far more circumspect squires at the Preppers’ Informal Dance–but we shouldn’t help him get away with it. Respectfully, – Gentleman Jim in Colorado.