Friday, May 25, 2007

A Brit tells America to buck up 

It's stiff upper lip time, guys. Things are "pretty bad, but not Jimmy Carter bad":

For the younger reader, perhaps already infused with a nostalgia that recalls the 1970s as a time of peace and prosperity, a brief reminder of the golden era of Carter is in order. It wasn’t all disco and flared trousers and sex without condoms. Also fashionable in those days were unemployment, inflation and communism.

The US jobless rate was more than 10 per cent. Inflation touched 15 per cent. Soviet troops marched unmolested into Afghanistan. America watched helpless as its diplomats were held hostage by Iranian revolutionaries for 444 days. In the rest of the world, from Latin America to Asia, American power yielded to the communist advance; economically, America was being bested by Japan and Germany.

Not only that, but the stock market was in an extended bear market that had begun in 1966, and would not end until the summer of 1982. The result was that money poured out of financial assets into inanimate objects -- gold, silver, and collectibles and other supposedly "hard" assets -- always a bad sign. It was, after all, a time of national "malaise".

What should Americans do now? Buck up!
Steady on. Once Americans get into a funk, there really is no stopping them. It’s an old truth that things are never as good or as bad as they seem and so it is now.

Start with economics. America is not going to be overtaken by China any time in the next century. So large is the US advantage that, even growing at 3 per cent, the country’s economy adds more to the level of global activity than China does growing at 10 per cent.

Its soft power may have been attenuated these past few years, but not destroyed. Who is there to replace America? China? Do me a favour. Does anyone out there really think they would prefer to live in China rather than America? Europe? Viewed from the comforting perspective of a pavement café in Paris, Europe might look a more appealing place. But the continent is in the midst of a long, slow suicide; falling birthrates and a moral surrender to the forces of relativism have left it an easy prey for less tolerant cultures.

There’s no denying that Iraq is a self-inflicted wound and an energy-sapping one at that. But the scale of the damage to America there can be overstated too. All we’ve really learnt in the past five years is that even the US is probably not powerful enough to remake 700 years of history in five years. That doesn’t mean America is weak, just less strong than it thought it was.

Of course, a president, an inept one, can set back the course of a nation’s progress. Like Mr Carter before him, Mr Bush’s ledger is heavy on the liabilities. But America recovered from Mr Carter, thanks to good leadership and the ingenuity of a people whose great gift is their constant capacity to recreate themselves. Who’s betting it won’t do so again?

Of course, "not as bad as Carter" is hardly a rallying cry. If the Democrats produce anybody of Ronald Reagan's stature they will be very tough to beat in 2008.

MORE: For those of you who believe that America's troubles in the world and anti-Americanism is "different this time," reread Gordon Sinclair's editorial from 1973. Sinclair was a Canadian broadcaster, and until this editorial he was not known for being particularly supportive of the United States. Quite to the contrary, my parents, who listened to him on the radio when we lived in Ontario from 1965-1969, considered him to be quite anti-American.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri May 25, 11:16:00 AM:

The '70s were bad, but not the hell of the '30s and early '40s. My parents lived through both of those earlier times; together we lived through the '70s.

I served several tours of duty in Southeast Asia and watched as American politicians did much the same thing as left-leaning politicians (and some "conservatives" as well) are doing today with respect to Vietnam. The religion of Leftism sent clear messages to our enemies that all they had to do was to hang on long enough and they would win. Even though we thoroughly defeated the North Vietnamese Army in '68 and again in '72, nothing could disuade the MSM or the politicians that all was lost. And so it was.

Fortunately, we held on long enough in the Cold War and the Soviet Union collapsed under its own weight.  

By Blogger D.E. Cloutier, at Fri May 25, 12:19:00 PM:

This comment has been removed by the author.  

By Blogger D.E. Cloutier, at Fri May 25, 12:27:00 PM:

And exactly how does the US stay on top?

Roughly nine percent of the country's manufactured exports involve one company--Boeing.

And every time Americans come up with a new idea they give away their new knowledge to foreign students for the price of college tuition.

To me, the US is starting to look like the UK in the 1950s.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri May 25, 01:17:00 PM:


The UK in the 50s. I do not see the flight of US professionals to other countries. Where would they go?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri May 25, 01:24:00 PM:


The NINBY and enviromentalist culture in this country has a lot to do with the situation we find ourselves in now. As an example I give you nuclear power technology.

One of the Russian designs currently being offered and accepted around the world is the so called pebble technology. Developed in the USA where it could not find a home because no one could get a nuclear power station built.  

By Blogger D.E. Cloutier, at Fri May 25, 02:06:00 PM:

I do see American-born entrepreneurs leaving the U.S., Davod. There are lot of places to go. If you have money, the whole world is the same.  

By Blogger D.E. Cloutier, at Fri May 25, 02:38:00 PM:

P.S. I moved my business operations outside the U.S. almost 15 years ago. And last March the CEO of Halliburton announced plans to move his offices from Houston to Dubai.

Where will US professionals go? In some cases, they will have to take lower-paying jobs, just like Studebaker workers did years ago.  

By Blogger D.E. Cloutier, at Fri May 25, 05:04:00 PM:


NPR today:

"Young men in their 30s in the United States are not doing as well financially as their fathers' generation did. A study released today on economic mobility shows that, on average, 30-something males make about 12 percent less than they would have 30 years ago."


By Blogger SR, at Fri May 25, 06:28:00 PM:

DEC: Check out what passes for a high school education for this generation when compared with that of their "father's." Ask the typical 30 something what books they have read. I could go on....  

By Blogger Purple Avenger, at Fri May 25, 07:09:00 PM:

This country will become the embodiment of Kornbluth's Marching Morons.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri May 25, 08:23:00 PM:

Dear Sirs,

Self inflicted? Yeah, just like after Pearl Harbor.

Iraq didn't do it? Who did? A stateless organization that grew up in a swamp. It's time to drain the swamp. As GWB said, any state that allows these groups to operate on their territory is an enemy.

In Europe we went through four or five countries in North Africa then north through Italy. We went east through France, Belgium and the Netherlands. The Russians went through the Baltics and the countries of Eastern Europe.

In the Pacific we hopped across the islands, throught the Philipines and flanked through China.

In the current conflict we have to keep killing people and breaking things until the states there police themselves and control their own.

We may have to do Syria. We may have to do Iran. We are going to remove the threat.

If we don't the whole region is going to implode. There will be a major war and the nukes will go off. One fouth of the world's oil will disappear. Turkey will be drawn in and the former Islamic Soviet Republics will fall to the Islamists. We've lost 3,000 there. If we fail the world will lose millions. George Bush knows this. Pray that our next President does.

Roy Lofquist  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sat May 26, 12:59:00 AM:

I see that JIMMY CARTER aka THE PEANUT EATER KID was rejected for membership in the LEAGION OF SUPERHEROS he was too whimpy  

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