Monthly Archives: November 2011

Mother Died Today or, Maybe, Yesterday

The euro is going down and will most likely take the 17 nation euro zone with it, if not the entire 27 nation European Union.  Or maybe it will be the other way around?  Does it really matter?

Having never recovered from the 2008 recession, the collapse of the euro will drive the U.S. economy deeper into the quagmire of more unemployment, negative economic growth, schizophrenic fiscal policy, Congressional gridlock, inflationary monetary policy, double-digit interest rates, and the rout of the dollar.  Is it possible that whatever the White House, the Congress, or the Fed may do will make not one whit of a difference?

To deflect public opinion away from their incompetence and corruption the White House, the Congress, the Fed, the European Central Bank, and all of the political leaders of Europe need an international scapegoat.  What could be better than a war against some unpopular rogue state such as Cuba, Iran, North Korea, or Venezuela whose leader is considered by many Americans to be demonic.

Enter Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu bearing gifts for American and European political leaders. “Have I got a deal for you,” says Netanyahu.  “Why don’t NATO and its Arab allies take out the nuclear weapons program of the terrorist state of Iran?  It would divert the attention of the American and European people away from their economic woes.  Everyone (except the Iranians) would gain.”

With the demise of Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, and Muammar Qadhafi, there are few alleged demons left with whom to wage war.  Bringing down Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would significantly enhance Barack Obama’s chances for re-election in 2012 and help preserve the political status quo in Europe despite the economic turmoil.

And then what?  Iran is no Iraq.  This would not be kid’s stuff.  For starters, Iran has some very influential friends, not the least of which are Russia and China, who would be unamused by such an attack.

Unless the NATO strikes severely inhibit Iran’s ability to respond militarily, one could expect almost instantaneous retaliation by Iran in the Persian Gulf, closing down the Strait of Hormuz as well as oil production in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Iraq.  This would effectively shut down the global economy.  If Iran were not in a position to respond militarily, then either Russia or China would likely do so.  They would perceive an attack on Iran to be a major threat to their national security.  China could always opt to pull the plug on the trillion dollar or so investment which it holds in U.S. Treasury bonds sending the U.S. economy into an even further death spiral.  China could also offer to help refinance the European economy thus driving a permanent wedge between Europe and the United States.  Russia might cut off the supply of natural gas to Europe as well.

And if Russia or China retaliates on behalf of Iran, how might the United States respond?  I think it is quite likely that the American Empire would launch missile strikes against Moscow or Beijing depending on the circumstances.  And since the White House and the State Department love to proclaim that all options will be on the table, one cannot rule out the possible deployment of nuclear weapons by missiles targeted at Moscow and Beijing.

Could this be the beginning of the endgame?  If so, so what?

Maybe Meursault, the Algerian clerk who narrated Albert Camus’s famous novel The Stranger and who was sentenced to death for murdering an Arab, said it all upon the death of his mother:

Mother died today.  Or, maybe, yesterday;

I can’t be sure.  The telegram from the Home

says:  YOUR MOTHER PASSED AWAY.

FUNERAL TOMORROW.  DEEP SYMPATHY.

Which leaves the matter doubtful;

it could have been yesterday.


Thomas H. Naylor

November 26, 2011

Founder of the Second Vermont Republic and Professor Emeritus of Economics at Duke University; co-author of Affluenza, Downsizing the USA, and The Search for Meaning.

www.vermontrepublic.org.

High Priests of Technofascism 2012

  1. Benedict XVI  —   Pope
  2. Ben S. Bernanke —  Federal Reserve Chrmn
  3. Lloyd C. Blankfein  —  Goldman Sachs Chrmn
  4. Hillary Clinton  —  Secretary of State
  5. Rahm Emanuel  —   Mayor of Chicago
  6. Bill Gates   —   Microsoft Founder
  7. Stephen Harper  —  Canadian Prime Minister
  8. Angela Merkel  —  German Chancellor
  9. Rupert Murdoch   —  News Corporation Chrmn
  10. Benjamin Netanyahu  —   Israeli Prime Minister
  11. Grover Norquist   —   Americans for Tax Reform
  12. Barack Obama  —   President
  13. Bill O’Reilly  —   Fox News Talk Show Host
  14. Larry Page  —   Google CEO
  15. Leon Panetta   —   Secretary of Defense
  16. David Petraeus  —   CIA Director
  17. Bernie Sanders   —   Vermont Senator
  18. Nicholas Sarkozy  —   French President
  19. Robson Walton  —   Wal-Mart Chairman
  20. Mark Zuckerberg  —   Facebook CEO

God and Man (and Secession) at Yale

When I team taught a course on corporate strategy back in 1980 at the Yale School of Management with economist Martin Shubik and former New York Times chief financial officer Leonard Forman, I never dreamed I would be invited back to Yale thirty years later to be the keynote speaker for a debate on, of all things, secession.  Yet on the evening of November 9th, the Yale Political Union, the largest student organization on campus, held such a debate to consider the resolution, “Be it resolved that the United States of America be peacefully dissolved.”  One can’t even imagine how long it must have been since a politically correct Ivy League college organized a major debate on secession?

Founded in 1934 as a debate society, members of the Yale Political Union include Democrats, Republicans, Socialists, and others.  Each member belongs to one of seven political parties: either the Liberal Party, the Party of the Left, the Independent Party, the Federalist Party, the Conservative Party, the Tory Party, or the Party of the Right.  Past presidents have included Senator John Kerry, New York Governor George Pataki, and writers William F. Buckley and Fareed Zakaria.  The YPU’s list of past speakers reads like a veritable Who’s Who in American Politics.  Right wing writer and darling of Fox News, Ann Coulter, was there a couple of weeks earlier.

My charge that the U.S. Government is an immoral, undemocratic, over sized, materialistic, unsustainable, ungovernable, unfixable military machine run by and for the benefit of the superrich precipitated a lively and very intense response from the bright-eyed, bushy-tailed Yalies.

The liberal Democrats and the neoconservatives, both apologists for big government, didn’t like what I had to say one bit.  The rebuttal speaker, a young Filipino, made the case for America’s role as the global policeman.  The fate of America’s nuclear arsenal was the primary concern of another participant.  A conservative woman worried about the possible impact on copyright protection.  My favorite response came from a student from Rochester, N.Y., who feared that dissolution of the American Empire might threaten the future of the Super Bowl, which he considered to be an integral part of American exceptionalistm.

A lot more students came to my defense than I had expected.  They included several libertarians, some hard core leftists, and a Mexican socialist.  One student even claimed to be a fan of the Second Vermont Republic.

What was particularly gratifying about the debate was the extent of the engagement of these very bright, articulate Yale undergraduates in a conversation about a politically incorrect topic which had been summarily rejected by most Americans for over 150 years.  There seemed to be a willingness to think outside of the box and openly discuss heretofore unimaginable political options such as radical decentralization, Internet based direct democracy, secession, and even peaceful dissolution.

Many of the Yale debaters appeared to have been influenced by the Occupy Wall Street movement.  Although not everyone was in agreement with the goals and tactics of OWS, the movement has produced a tailwind of support for political change which was clearly evident in the debate hall.

After two hours of intense discussion, there was a motion to end debate and vote on the resolution.  Much to my surprise 45 percent of the participants voted to dissolve the United States.  Maybe there is hope after all, if that many Yalies opt for secession rather than empire.

Thomas H. Naylor

November 14, 2011

Founder of the Second Vermont Republic and Professor Emeritus of Economics at Duke University; co-author of Affluenza, Downsizing the USA, and The Search for Meaningwww.vermontrepublic.org