At G20, Obama Tastes ‘Bitter Reality’ of America’s Decline: Financial Times Deutschland, Germany

November 13, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

This is a challenging moment in history, and according to columnist Peter Ehrlich of Germany’s Financial Times Deutschland, President Obama is a victim of it: The United States, relative to other nations, is growing comparatively weaker. And with economics rather than military prowess the modern measure of true influence, Ehrlich contends that presidents of the United States, starting with Barack Obama, will have to adjust.

I’d like to insert a personal note on this narrative to say, that what is happening today in terms of the relative drop in U.S. dominance reflects the unalloyed success of American policy since the end of World War II. We encouraged the rest of the world to embrace free markets and personal choice for their own good - and ours. Now that they have, we are relatively weaker - but by no means weak. And as Peter Ehrlich emphasizes, it is a world more characterized by economic competition than military.

For Germany’s Financial Times Deutschland, Peter Ehrlich writes in part:

SEOUL: In times of peace, thankfully, there’s no need for historic battles like those of Trafalgar or Waterloo to change the balance of power in the world. These days, change happens little by little, day by day - only becoming noticeable at meetings like the G20 Summit in Seoul. What we witnessed was the end of American global dominance. The “American Century” is over.

At least since the First World War, the United States has been the most significant power both militarily and economically. Twenty years ago after the collapse of the Soviet bloc, it became the only remaining “superpower.” When then U.S. President George H.W. Bush spoke of a “new world order,” he was thinking of a Pax Americana. But from then on, it was all downhill.

Militarily, the U.S. still dominates, but today, even America can no longer afford to go it alone as it did in Iraq. Economically, it is still by far the most significant nation, but the fate of the global economy now lies in Europe and China. Barack Obama, who in contrast to Bush Jr. advocated a multilateral world order, now must bitterly experience what that means in practice. Once staunch allies like Germany now openly criticize the monetary policy of the U.S. Federal Reserve.

READ ON AT WORLDMEETS.US, your most trusted translator and aggregator of foreign news and views about our nation.

The Moderate Voice

Unhealthy American Tastes

September 27, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

The nation’s body and mind are moving in sync as Americans reject Michelle Obama’s campaign to eat more vegetables even as they disdain her husband’s recipe for a healthier polity.

More and more, taste buds and brain cells are responding less and less to subtleties. As the President’s approval ratings hit a new low, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study shows Americans eating far less fruit and vegetables than a healthy diet requires, little more than they did a decade ago despite all efforts at public education.

In the population, women, older people and those with higher incomes tend to consume more vegetables, according to the CDC report, but overall the nation is eating no better than it’s thinking, judging from recent election results that show a growing taste for political red meat and fiery spice.

If eating habits seem a shaky metaphor for state of mind, consider the Republicans’ new “Pledge to America,” a dish of reheated pablum from political hacks caught between the Democrats’ diet of delayed gratification and the Tea Party’s buffet of political junk food.

The dilemma is nothing new. Back in the good old days of the last century, the Reagan Administration tried to pass off ketchup as a vegetable for school lunches and George Bush I bravely announced, “I do not like broccoli…”


The Moderate Voice

Serving Minority Tastes

September 9, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

By David Boaz

In a Washington Post obituary for billionaire John Kluge, Terence McArdle explains how he made his fortune by creating Metromedia, the nation’s largest chain of independent television stations:

Metromedia stations relied on a mix of local programs, old movies and syndicated reruns that often ran counter to what the big three network affiliates had in the same time slot.

Kluge’s key insight was:

Mr. Kluge believed that if the networks had an 80 percent share in a major market, 20 percent of the market wanted to watch something else.

And that’s a key difference between the market and government, one that’s so obvious we may fail to notice it. Kluge figured he could make money by offering a product that only 20 percent of consumers wanted. Many television networks these days make money by attracting 1 percent or less of the market. But in the political world, it’s usually one-size-fits-all. Politicians decide, and then that’s what we all get — phonics in the schools or not, prayer or not, instead of a market of schools from which parents could choose. Health insurance with 99 mandated coverages whether you want them or not.

I made a similar point in Libertarianism: A Primer (p. 189), on politics as a package deal:

Sesame Street recently gave us an example of what that means.  In an election special, the Muppets and their human friends have $ 3 to spend, and they learn about voting by deciding whether to buy crayons or juice.

“Rosita:  You count the people who want crayons.  Then you count the people who want juice.  If more people want juice, it’s juice for everyone.  If more people want crayons, it’s crayons.

“Telly:  Sounds crazy but it might just work!”

But why not let each child buy what he wants?  Who needs democracy for such decisions?  There may be some public goods, but surely juice and crayons don’t count.  In the real world, one candidate offers higher taxes, legalized abortion, and getting out of the War in Vietnam, another promises a balanced budget, school prayer, and escalation of the war.  What if you want a balanced budget and withdrawal from Vietnam?  In the marketplace you get lots of choices; politics forces you to choose among only a few.

Cato @ Liberty

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