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Well, there you go...without knowing offhand what US agricultural surpluses are, I'll say this: Americans aren't exceptional, they're exactly like every other society in history (which is why I opened this post with Tyuchev's dictum).

However, when the politicians lose all legitimacy (think crazy ideologues elected, who totally lack any capacity to govern), the food runs out (think drought in the midwest, plague killing our livestock, and fished out coastal waters), and middle class America finds itself freezing because they cannot afford to heat their homes, you'll have a nuclear-armed nation in the grip of a civil war. It won't be pretty.

We're not there yet. And rest assured, I'll find an internet connection somewhere, somehow, to report on all of it.

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire

by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Sun Oct 26th, 2008 at 09:23:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
reported that grain was being left on docks because of the economic uncertainties with the banks and all.  Don't think we'll need anything too dramatic to get people hoarding food, etc.

The next 12 months should prove interesting, if not decisive.  Look forward to blogging with you.

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Sun Oct 26th, 2008 at 09:47:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I hadn't heard that grain shipments were being delayed, but frankly I'd be surprised if that was something that didn't happen (for other reasons) not frequently, but at least fairly regularly.

It's worth making note of, thanks.

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire

by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Sun Oct 26th, 2008 at 09:58:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
See my story This is where it gets real from October 13th, 2008. I admit I haven't been following up to see how things are developing.

A vivid image of what should exist acts as a surrogate for reality. Pursuit of the image then prevents pursuit of the reality -- John K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 04:00:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
but I never put 2 + 2 together. Of course food prices have shot up precisely because trade finance costs have risen. Duh.

Frankly, I've been too busy this past month with research for this diary to pay this matter proper attention.

Thank you.

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire

by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 06:15:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not just trade finance costs. Trade itself is stopping because of the inability to make large cross-border payments.

India Times: Commodity traders hit by arrest of interbank lending (27 October, 2008)

The credit crisis has begun to take a toll on the real economy, slowly but surely. Among the sectors feeling the pinch, is commodities, though traders are not openly expressing their angst.

A large south-based trader of edible oils has been unable to procure de-gummed soybean oil from a South American exporter, whose bank refused to discount the latter's bill owing to shortage of dollars.

"Our banker, State Bank of India, issued a letter of credit (LC) to the exporter's bank in South America, but the bank refused to negotiate the LC and pay the exporter. We will now have to negotiate with another banker to get the consignment totalling 1.5 million tonne of de-gummed soybean oil," said a company source.




A vivid image of what should exist acts as a surrogate for reality. Pursuit of the image then prevents pursuit of the reality -- John K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 06:53:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Article today in dead-tree paper about Iceland and their difficulties to keep trade going, seeing how the UK confiscates their money. Terrorists the lot of them, though they seem to disagree.

Icelanders are NOT terrorists

Gordon Brown unjustifiably used the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act of 2001 against the people of Iceland for his own short-term political gain. This has turned a grave situation into a national disaster, affecting families in both Iceland and the United Kingdom. Help us avert greater damage by signing this petition now.


Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 09:54:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'll take you up on this. I (still) believe that the American social system still retains some significant differentiators from other societies. One can easily point to recent events that tend to undercut this argument, but I think we can still brag about a few things. I would point to three factors that may be important:

We do retain some shadow at least of the Enlightenment foundation of our system. Our constitution is better than most, and is stable. Everybody here buys into it (except for the part about guns) and there is no serious move afoot to make significant changes.

Also, our modern internal revolution was one of the early ones, and while there are still a lot of hard feelings, the issue (slavery) has been resolved. At least, it's been resolved in most legal senses, although obviously there is still plenty of racism in play. I would argue that the situation here is not worse than anywhere else, though.

And our society is homogeneous. This is bad from the viewpoint of "Walmart in every town" and "everybody eats at McDonalds" but it means that we have 300 million people who have absolutely unrestricted (by law as well as by societal norm) ability to move from point to point. I think this plays an important part in providing social stability, because there is virtually no difference, outside of the weather and the cost of a house, between Chicago and Baton Rouge. You can live in either place and be happy or unhappy as it pleases you. I don't think this situation applies anywhere else in the world.

There is just not that much disagreement about how things should be run. Example: If Bush and McCain are so horribly out of touch, why are the presidential polls so close? Because the policies of McCain and Obama are not hugely different. Example: Why were the "protests" at the Democratic convention in Denver, which were highly publicized in advance, such washouts? Because people are generally happy with the system.

The U.S. may collapse at some point, but I don't see it happening any time soon.

by asdf on Sun Oct 26th, 2008 at 08:39:06 PM EST
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There is just not that much disagreement about how things should be run. Example: If Bush and McCain are so horribly out of touch, why are the presidential polls so close?

Now there's a question. The answers could likely fill a large book on American societal norms.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears

by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Sun Oct 26th, 2008 at 09:38:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If Bush and McCain are so horribly out of touch, why are the presidential polls so close?

Because a lot of those they are out of touch with are disenfranchised?

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 09:57:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BECAUSE ... Americans on the average are EXTREMELY

  1. Stupid.

  2. Under-informed.

  3. Absolutely self-centered.

  4. Anybody else want to add to the list?


They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 10:05:27 AM EST
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Perhaps you are right, but the whole point of democracy is that you get to elect whoever you want. If the stupid and uninformed choose to vote for someone who will take their money and give it to the already-rich, that's their choice. No cause for revolution...
by asdf on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 10:16:31 AM EST
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So if the majority stupid decide to torch the planet, no cause for revolution.  Glad I don't have any kids if that's the prevailing philosophy.

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Mon Oct 27th, 2008 at 12:28:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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