Thought about populism

The dollar hit a new low today against other currencies. If you google Obama's deficit plan, you'll pull up a Page Not Found*.

I've been mulling over and writing something about populism and the political turmoil that's underway as the GOP remakes itself, and Democrats struggle with having the power.

All this political reshuffling has led me to go back to the history books to re-read the mid 1890's to early 1900's, which, with its social conservative populism and economic turmoil, have similarities to glean over; President Grover Cleveland, then the battles between William McKinley vs William Jennings Bryan, and Teddy Roosevelt. That's a fascinating period, when the financial standards were moving from gold & silver to greenbacks. Amidst a financial collapse and recovery, a new economic environment emerged. Both parties became radically transformed as the nation moved from an agrarian to a industrial based economy. The Republicans transitioned from the party of Lincoln and the Civil War victors of justice to being the party of business. The progressives existed within the Republican party still, but the Democrats became less southern and more populist-based. I love reading about that era and its political upheavals. Its also distant enough that it gets away from the whole current era's Red-Blue divide, because you could find progressive arguments for both sides.  

Consider another angle of possible similarity, that as we move toward a globalist economic system, its possible that the current fiscal attempt to rescue the economy by inducing inflation through deficit-ballooning is setting the stage for a move away from the dollar to a new global currency. Obama is probably ideally positioned for leading such a move, and I have little doubt that the populist conservatives would lead the charge in support of the dollar. You could make the progressive arguement that its much better for us to be led down that path by the likes of the Democrats doing the bidding of the banks under Obama, than it would be under BushCo. Although, one could counter-argue that Bush I & II made the corporate New World Order possible; Clinton, Obama and the Democrats just get to follow-through.

Update [2009-11-16 19:51:12 by Jerome Armstrong]: Consider if these are related?

* A joke people.... its under construction...

Tags: conservative, populism, progressive (all tags)

Comments

17 Comments

Re: Thought about populism

The change from the dollar to some other currency would be a disaster...

by BuckeyeBlogger 2009-11-16 02:44PM | 0 recs
I disagree...

I think most populists (as well as conservatives, and liberals and crazies and all other kinds of folk) are nationalists first, and everything else second...

I think you will find that most progressives will recoil at the thought of a global financial currency, and giving up the golden dollar.

A new global currency is perhaps inevitable...but, in my opinion, it will not be accepted easily!

by Ravi Verma 2009-11-16 02:45PM | 0 recs
Please read

..."most progressives (as well as conservatives...)"

instead of

"most populists (as well as conservatives...)"

by Ravi Verma 2009-11-16 02:47PM | 0 recs
Re: Please read

Yea, populists come in all stripes, conservative and progressive. I've a tough time making believe that the deficit can be overcome at this point, and it leaves no other alternative for the wealthy to try and keep order & wealth (we ain't going back to gold).

by Jerome Armstrong 2009-11-16 02:55PM | 0 recs
What are the advantages of a global currency?

And what are it's disadvantages?

I ask these questions from the perspective of being a human being first, and an American second. The poorest countries can ill afford a deal that will benefit the U.S. at their expense.

by Georgeo57 2009-11-16 02:46PM | 0 recs
Re: What are the advantages of a global currency?

Think of it more like a bailout for the rich, or like a company that reverse-splits and then gives new preferred shares to all the insiders.

by Jerome Armstrong 2009-11-16 02:52PM | 0 recs
We can't afford the climate change implications

If it's another giveaway to the rich, we so clearly can't afford it that we should rest easy because it will never touch Obama's pen.

Over half of green house gas emissions are generated by developing countries -- China and India included.  If we choose to make very poor counties even poorer, they will be unable to make even a dent in their greenhouse gas emissions, and with that goes any chance of our planet averting the threshold for irreversible and catastrophic climate destabilization.

Also, there is an inverse relationship between poverty and low birth rate. So more poverty equals more people on the planet and far more difficulty addressing climate change.

Some time ago I thought that climate change represented a devastating distraction to ending global poverty.  I now realize that if we are to save our own progeny, we will need to step up efforts to move poor countries from coal burning, deforestation and wood cooking fuel to clean renewables.  These poor countries will have little incentive to cooperate unless the rich countries lift them from poverty.  

So, because of climate change, global poverty will likely end far sooner than it would  otherwise.  Thank God.

by Georgeo57 2009-11-16 05:17PM | 0 recs
Re: What are the advantages of a global currency?

Yea, there are advantages. Think long-term, like 100-200 years away, and where you'd see a global community that hasn't destroyed itself and environment, and is making some sort of orderly path of evolving galactic-style.

by Jerome Armstrong 2009-11-16 02:58PM | 0 recs
Re: What are the advantages of a global currency?

In my darkest days, I just don't see how the planet can sustain more than 3 billion people at best. Some suggest a carrying capacity of 900 million. How we go from the projected top of over 9 billion down is a trick that I don't think we can manage. There have been collapse of societies of that same magnitude. None are terribly pretty. Easter Islanders cut down the last tree and then engaged in a genocidal warfare that reduced the population to a fraction. The Maya collapse was triggered by environmental disaster perhaps related to overharvesting and changing rainfall patterns. Andean society after the Spanish Conquest fell from about 20 million to under 2 million in a 150 year period but this collapse was largely triggered by infectious diseases to which native Andeans had no immune response. There are parts of the Andes that had a larger and more sustainable population in 1550 than they do today.

Sustainability in population is something no one wants to talk about because the corollaries are so dark.

Look at the discussion going on in Kenya. Its most important watershed is the Mau highlands just northwest of Nairobi. Perhaps this deserves a post. Deforestation has decimated the region as farmers move. A tribal forest people have been increasingly pressured and retreated evermore into a dwindling forest. Now the Kenyan government wants to evict them from their ancestral lands. The government moved today to evict farmers without title deeds. I am not sure where they will go. The farmers are settlers from other parts of Kenya. The govt in the 1990s began opening the Mau lands. These farmers cut the down forest and boom rainfalls lessened, more of the rain that did fall was lost to run-off because the vegetation to trap it is gone and as population in Nairobi grew that in turn put more pressure on the aquifer.

In the past month, I have read articles on troubled aquifers in Yemen, Peru and Australia. Go back further, you find stories on depletion of aquifers in India, China, Venezuela.

I don't see how human behavior will change to embrace sustainable living practices and negative population growth. Denmark and Norway are exceptional in that they started thinking about these issues in the 1970s. But these are small countries with less than five million people each. The rest of us are way behind in addressing an unsustainable economic model.

It was stark to read last week in the Guardian how the IEA overstated global oil reserves to placate US policy makers. The implication is that the world policymakers know we are in a fix (which we are) but they don't want to set off a panic.   The other is that they are powerless to do anything about it. We may have passed the tipping point.

China's behavior in global commodity markets remains interesting. They continue to buy everything in sight and make investments to secure long-term access to valuable resources. Even we are making exceptions. Our out-reach to Myanmar under Obama is downplaying human rights in order to help develop vast gas reserves in the Andaman Sea. Today the NYT had a story on Teodoro Obiang Nguema, the son of the dictator of Equatorial Guinea. I've been once to Malabo, its capital. The only place that I have ever been that I couldn't buy a newspaper. There are none. The Equatorial Guinea is not a country many people know about but in a continent where dictatorships are bloody and brutal, this one stands out. At one time under the first President Franciso Macias Nguema, the uncle of the current President, one in ten Eq. Guineans were in prison. But his nephew isn't much better. It is still the worse the violator of human rights in Africa. That's something when you think of the situation in the Sudan, Eritrea and Zimbabwe. But Eq Guinea is now the third largest African exporter of oil after Angola and Nigeria. And Chevron is making investments there. And so Teodoro Obiang Nguema whose wealth allows for a $35 million mansion in Malibu is allowed in and out of the country even though his wealth is ill-gotten from illegal timber harvesting. Teodoro Obiang is the Forestry and Agriculture Minister.

A few years ago, there was a coup attempt against Teodoro Obiang Nguema, the father. It involved a whole host of characters including mercenaries led by a man called Simon Mann. They were detained in Zimbabwe before departing on their mission. Linked to the plot by Simon Mann who was recently released from prison is Sir Mark Thatcher, the son of Lady Thatcher. American interests may have been involved. They are not toppling that brutal regime for altruistic reasons.

Obama has abandoned human rights as a driver in US foreign policy. Wouldn't meet with the Dalai Lama until after this trip to China. On the Sudan, Scott Gration talks about awarding "gold stars and cookies" to Omar al Bashir, a butcher. It is all very disconcerting especially since it gives the neo-cons an opening. On China, it is notable that for the first time an American President goes to China and the ones driving the discussion is not us but them. China still has long way to go before it becomes the top global dog , and there's no guarantee that it will because China does have serious obstacles to overcome, but it is clear that the balance in the relationship is more equal. Not a bad thing per se and certainly more a legacy of decisions made by us beginning 25 years ago but we opted to destroy our manufacturing profits for both political and economic reasons. And now we face a populist revolt (see I knew I'd get there eventually) in the heartland that wants their country back yet they fail to realize that the underlying cause of their misery where the policies that Ronald Reagan set in motion. Instead, they want another round of insanity.

Sorry, I have the flu. Insanely bored.

by Charles Lemos 2009-11-16 04:06PM | 0 recs
Hope you feel better....

but this comment was a gem!!

by Ravi Verma 2009-11-16 04:50PM | 0 recs
Vegetarianism can probably sustain over 12 billion

Look at it this way.  Since livestock accounts for about 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, we will all have to go vegetarian within the next decade or two to meet our climate change targets - unless, of course, efforts at manufacturing animal tissue in the lab succeed.  Considering that it takes over 3 pounds of grain and over 400 gallons of water to create one pound of beef, you can see how we have more than enough food and water to sustain even 12 billion people.  Admittedly, there would need to be major relocations.

Feel better, and remain optimistic.  We will solve this sustainability problem because for the first time in the history of humanity we are facing a situation wherein we all survive or virtually no one survives.  That should be enough of an incentive for us to destroy the Republican Party and its global counterparts, take all political power from the rich, and do whatever else we need to do to get the job done.

by Georgeo57 2009-11-16 05:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Vegetarianism can probably

Good idea.I'm glad to be part of that solution.

by Jerome Armstrong 2009-11-16 05:45PM | 0 recs
Re: Vegetarianism can probably

I love a good medium rare steak so very very much, but if ever an argument pushes me to vegetarianism, this will eventually be it.

by Nathan Empsall 2009-11-16 06:04PM | 0 recs
Re: Thought about populism

I am appalled that someone could make it all the way to the Majors and not know that YOU DON'T TALK TO THE PITCHER when he's throwing a no-no! Geez.

by Nathan Empsall 2009-11-16 03:40PM | 0 recs
Re: Thought about populism

It's a Bilderberg world. We just live in it. And Obama is in Asia right now trying to figure out what role China will play in it.

China has its own roiling waves of "populism", of course. Sometimes they end in government concessions, sometimes they end in Tiananmen Square.

Here they tend to end of late in BeckWorld. The conservatives bring the masses to Washington now. In my day it was the left liberal progressives.

Stop 1,000 people on the street in any American city and ask them to define "political economy". Enough said? Populism is just another pawn on the chessboard to be molded and manipulated in the stacked deck that is crony capitalism.

From TARPs and healthcare "debates" to finance "reform" and cap n trade legislation, the Bilderbergs rule. And they almost certaily will until the day I die. I do hope however that you might actually live to see this change.

by george walton 2009-11-16 04:48PM | 0 recs
Re: Thought about populism

OH, I think I'll live to see the unsustainability of all this, but who knows, the earth is a resilient place, and is a lot like a loving lab that would come back to you everytime after being kicked each day after each day.... but I'm sure we'll see some catastrophe's that really surprise us. I just hope to be in the right place at the right time :)

by Jerome Armstrong 2009-11-16 05:47PM | 0 recs
Re: Thought about populism

To paraphrase the late and great George Carlin, it is not the earth that is in trouble, it is us.

by bruh3 2009-11-16 07:29PM | 0 recs

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