Tuesday, October 30, 2007

If Warren Says So

I thought I sounded like a horrible drudge last week when I wrote this. I mean, is it an unpatriotic leftist thing to sense a gloomy shift in the power paradigm and actually say so out loud?

I am feeling slightly validated today, however, having just read that Warren Buffet said this:
Becky: If the U.S. does go into recession, do you think it going to be the type of thing that catches around the globe like a cold? Are other economies going to get dragged into it?

Warren: Well, historically they've always said that if we get a cold, the rest of the world gets pneumonia or something. But, we are still very important in the U.S., and we are still very linked in many ways. But we aren't as important as we used to be relative to the rest of the world.


Warren: I think that China is going to be a greater and greater force in the world's economy in every way. And I think that in our relations generally with them, we've often had a superior attitude about things ... Americans do that all the time. I probably do it myself. We are used to being King Pin and, we may have to learn a bit more humility. I mean, there are other major countries in the world that do not have to accept orders from the United States.
Maybe I'm not crazy after all. Or maybe Warren Buffet is an unpatriotic leftist (I must point out that he is always rambling on about tax rates and economic justice and other blah blah blah).


Anonymous eagle-eyed-milton said...

What is it with these great OLD leaders...wisdom and experiences...or senility? Has he lost his mind? What metric do you measure the Superiority of the USA? On one hand, we want more health care for the kids (SChips), less control of government on wiretapping...but we are disappointed we can't be an economic powerhouse like China? Asia powers of the past always lost steam when it came time to take care of their human workers. Are we supposed to emulate the Chinese model? The grass is always greener syndrome. Which is why I shake my head when the government wants to raise taxes and create more jobs at the same time.

11:27 AM, October 30, 2007  
Blogger Logic101 said...

The full article still has Warren looking bullish on the economy in the long term. I think his point (and mine) is that the height of US power in the world has been commensurate with its economic strength. The time of our dominion may be over, for now. Someone else will reign supreme for a while, and then maybe someone else after that. It will be an adjustment for us and especially for the people of my generation and after who have always known the world to revolve around the United States. Think for a minute about what that means, and what it will mean to lose it.

I've resigned myself to this shift in the power paradigm since I accept that cycles are a part of life -- but -- that doesn't mean I'm looking forward to our diminished position in the world (who would?). I've resigned myself to it exactly because I refuse to do what's required to avert it, to, as you say, "emulate the Chinese model". I refuse to regress... to give up the individualist construct we laid down 200 years ago or any bit of social evolution we've experienced since then. Regression is always going to be a wistful, wishful solution to our problems and it's never going to be a viable one.

In the end, I believe that prosperity will eventually soften China's authoritarian regime and mature its society, just as prosperity has matured us. Prosperity will embolden the Chinese people to demand more... not to become satisfied with less.

It's going to be more important than ever that we hold to our democratic principles during these difficult and, perhaps, perilous times. I think we're going to be facing a hard sell by certain factions in our government and their constituencies that the only way to beat authoritarian regimes is to join 'em. This is entirely backwards, as prosperous countries will eventually gravitate naturally toward our values. We're just going to have to ride it out.

After living in the shadow of the WWII generation and their boomer offspring, my generation may well find itself as the keeper of our democratic ideals against those who are tempted to exchange them for something more convenient. I think this was probably what Colin Powell was referring to when he said, "The only thing that can really destroy us is us." Historically I think he has a point. I personally was amazed to discover after 9/11 that, for all of our cowboy bravado, we lacked the simple courage of our convictions. "Habeas Corpus ain't that important, Big Daddy! We don't care ah-bout the 4th Amendment. Just save us, Big Daddy!" Patrick Henry wouldn't only have been embarrassed for us, he would have been grossed out.

I think we're probably coming from the same place here (I'm having a hard time following all of your comment). I was being kind of tongue in cheek about the leftist spin, though.

2:46 PM, October 30, 2007  
Anonymous eagle-eyed-milton said...

Sorry if I didn't make my point clear. You answered it. We can't be both an economic power and democratic. We can't want a solution to global warming and sell goods at the cheapest price....so let's stop complaining and change our model!
Let's sell good living standards, eco-friendly goods and services. But to do it, you need a big powerful military to protect us from all others. Shame on Clinton for ever downsizing our military.

I squirm regarding Colin (Colon) Powell. I prefer to worry about our enemies. You don't let a fox run around in the hen house and pretend he will change his ways. I don't know how you can live with your polar mood swings....social(big government) vs. your so-called libertarian whims.

2:47 PM, October 30, 2007  
Blogger Logic101 said...

I don't think I'm affected by polar mood swings at all... I actually consider myself somewhat of a political hybrid.

To make sure we're clear on terms, I embrace libertarianism in the small "l" classical sense of the term regarding freedom of thought, speech, and self-determinism. This is in contrast to the Ayn Rand brand of libertarianism where government has no role other than to protect its citizens against criminal and foreign aggression. I'm no expert but I think of Randian libertarianism as a reactionary position born of communism and I disregard it as such (reactionary positions on anything should automatically be treated with skepticism since they're corrective in nature... "counter extremism" is still extremism).

The premise of Randian libertarianism -- that some kind of universal "goodness" will result from man giving in to his baser instincts like greed, self-interest, and ego -- only makes sense when you think of it juxtaposed against the equally ridiculous notion of communism's state-imposed "goodness".

At any rate, big "L" Libertarianism applied to government seems to require 1) absolute faith in the private sector to police itself, 2) absolute faith in the private sector to provide for itself, and 3) absolute moral ambivalence regarding its failure to do either.
That's three strikes for me... I'm out.

I've spent more than enough time in the corporate world to understand that our private sector is every ounce as corrupt as our government -- and even more so, because at least government is accountable to its voters. I have far less faith in the private sector to do the "right thing" for me than I do the government in its proper form (which is why I am downright freakish about the need to respect its intended power structure with all of its checks and balances intact).

There is an appropriate role for government to play for its citizens. I absolutely believe that. Hating government for our failure to make it work for us properly is just a silly waste of time.

So yes, I have found a way to reconcile my (small "l") libertarian tendencies with my (small "l") liberalism. Occasionally there's a conflict of interest but there's a balance that can be reached and it mostly makes sense to me.

p.s. I do understand that it may make sense ONLY to me. :-)

5:34 PM, October 30, 2007  
Anonymous eagle-eyed-milton said...

I bet you've been dying to use "Randian Libertarianism" in your blog for quite some time :-) but it was a well stated response.

Pondering my thoughts from yesterday (sorry for obsessing over your blog):

1. Let's not forget India when we think of economic powerhouses.
2. Pakistan became a nuclear power during the Reagan years(hmmmm).
3. I think Libertarianism plays off big government quite nicely in this country and is a good thing. Government does stifle economic growth more than it helps it.
4. If people think government can run things better, it is perfectly alright to include a donation in your next tax return

7:41 AM, October 31, 2007  
Blogger Logic101 said...

India... Yes, trust me, I am quite familiar with India as a future economic powerhouse. Merely cheap labor for US businesses today but soon they'll have their own businesses to compete with ours, their own demand for labor. Cost of labor is rising there already along with attrition rates (signaling a demanding workforce, at least in IT).

Yes... Pakistan has had nukes for ages. And that's my point... having nukes and an islamic element should be freaking everyone out. Either we're downplaying the risk of Pakistan's existing nukes or we're exaggerating the risk of Iran's pursuit of nukes.

I like my democracy with checks and balances. A dash of libertarianism here, a dash of socialism there. A blending. A balancing. Government may check economic growth but it also provides a counter weight to represent consumer and worker interests. It does not have to be all or nothing... it's about balance. It's about us figuring out where to place the fulcrum.

Anti-government crusades seem kind of childish to me. Government is just a framework. You can rail against the politicians within it (and deservedly so), you can rail against abuses of power, you can even rail against our apathetic voters. But government itself is not an evil or malignant entity. It's just a tool to serve our national interests.

12:41 PM, October 31, 2007  

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