Tuesday, June 10, 2008

We are the Enemy

On that unspeakable day of September 11, 2001 we were in Connecticut, packing for an overseas trip. While the horror unfolded we could see the smoke from the Twin Towers more than fifty miles away across the Long Island Sound against the clear blue sky. I had thought we were confronting the worst of all possible enemies, one that cared not at all about its own life – in fact reveled in martyrdom – one that shared none of our moral values and would be content to wage war guerrilla style with no time constraints.

But, since then, we seem to be waging the battle for them. They no longer have to hijack planes to fly into our buildings as we have hijacked our own economy and can now be held hostage by any dictatorship du jour.

Here’s what we’ve done since that horrific day:
■ Wage an unnecessary war in Iraq that has cost more than one half trillion dollars to date, or $341 million each day. http://www.nationalpriorities.org/costofwar_home
■ Consume more than 20 million barrels of oil each day of which we produce only about a quarter, meaning we have to send about $2 billion abroad each day a majority of which finds its way to the Middle East, Russia, and South America. http://www.gravmag.com/oil.html
■ Increase our unfunded Social Security and Medicare programs by $33 trillion (yes, trillion) since 2000 to a total of $53 trillion at the end of last year – a liability of about $455,000 for every American household http://www.gao.gov/cghome/d08371cg.pdf

There is a litany of others that could be added to this list, but suffice it to say, our national debt is increasing at $1.59 billion per day. http://www.brillig.com/debt_clock/. No wonder the dollar continues to sink which just increases the cost of our imported oil and leaves us even a greater debtor to other countries.

In other postings I’ve cited the work of Bill Gross, the talented bond manager at PIMCO, and John Hussman an economist who runs his own mutual fund. Their two most recent articles touch upon our inability to fess up to the reality, how we continue to report chimerical inflation statistics http://www.pimco.com/LeftNav/Featured+Market+Commentary/IO/2008/IO+June+2008.htm and focus on monetary policy when our fiscal policy is rotten to the core http://hussmanfunds.com/wmc/wmc080609.htm.

If we cannot even acknowledge these economic truths, there can be no national plan to deal with the dire consequences. Then we will not only lose the war, but also be the architect of our own defeat.