Robert Ganshorn

Some Inconvenient Truths

Filed By Robert Ganshorn | September 27, 2008 3:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Media, Politics, Politics
Tags: bad mortgages, economic policy, GDP, government bailout, oil companies, politics, poverty, starvation

Remember that it was Phil Graham who called Americans a bunch of whiners, not me.

I have no idea why I remember what I do and the way I do. Sometimes I wish I did not so that I would be able to learn new stuff easier. Still, I find myself looking up sources and information on "the bigger picture." I relearn things I already knew with updated figures. While we scream that the sky is falling over the present economic mess that we fear so much, I think that we should remember who we are, economically, and how we fit into the world.

Sounds a little deep huh? I promise to make it simple and painless. You are lucky!

Now, some folks don't like capitalism, and as a market system it can be cruel. I object to imperialism where our military is used to beat other countries over the head, in fact or as a threat. In spite of this, we cannot figure out why other countries in the world do not like us. Our politicians mask the reality of America in catch phrases like: "Our American way of Life." OK, so the politicians have not asked you to think about WHY some folks around the world don't like us. They don't want to bother you with details. We have been very fortunate for a long time, and we are about to throw it away to Asia where schools of engineering and applied science are sprouting up like mushrooms while we grouse about paying American teachers an attractive wage and insisting that the schools in which they teach are habitable.

"Why should I pay for that, I don't have any kids, it should not be my responsibility!"

So we have a list of what we feel we personally, are entitled to automatically and everyone has a different list. Here is some of my list.

We are 4% of the humans on this planet, which automatically means you have more space than you are entitled to.

30% of the people in this world have no access to electricity at any price.

Despite the cell phones popping up everywhere, over 40% of the people in the world have never made a phone call.

The doubling of the price of rice threatens the survival of one fourth of humanity right now, but Americans are the number one consumers of calories per capita in the world.

Yes, America is special.

We have the most millionaires, billionaires, and largest middle class (as a percentage of the whole population) in the world.

If it were not for imports we would have no clothing to buy.

We are number one in the world in military spending. (unfortunately)

We are number one in the world in death by guns.

Per capital energy use? No one can touch us, and we produce more carbon dioxide than any six other countries you might like to mention.

We lead the world in both municipal and hazardous waste production per capita.

OF COURSE we are the greatest consumer of oil in the world. One in four barrels in the world production for just 4% of the population. Hurrah for us.

And while we do all this we have managed to become the lowest voter turnout country in the Western democratic world.

All this while we pay some of the lowest federal and state taxes of any industrialized country in the world.

We produce more beef to eat per capita than I want to even think about, but somehow we still have the lowest math scores on average of any Western country.

If you look here, you can see, in spite of all this, where we rank in the world's economy. It would take the next five countries in size of GDP to equal or surpass our GDP.

The GDP for the world is 54 trillion in 2007, and we were close to 14 trillion of that total. That is 4% of the people with over a quarter of the goodies. Anyone figure out why they just might not like us in Pakistan? And that is before we have pushed anyone around, and we are really good at that!

So when you cry about the cost of this "financial bailout for the fat cats," please remember that without us, the 220 countries who are lower than "the big six" face hardships and starvation that you cannot even begin to understand. I also hope none of you ever have to understand this type of poverty. I see this poverty each day which is borne with dignity that would make you want to cry. Each of you who read this are, by world standards, very rich indeed as you have a phone, electricity, food, clean water, shelter and the leisure to read this posting rather than work every waking hour.

We must step up to the plate and put our house in order. Without us producing, and a vibrant banking system to support our production, the suffering in the world would be too awful to think about. Of course, no golden parachutes. Those who broke the law should be punished accordingly, but while we see uninformed Americans on the streets wailing that there should be no "bailout" we should know the damage we are really doing to ourselves and the world. I truly regret that it is not more convenient, these "truths," but all I can do is react as I know best. Remember, other countries are catching up to us, and we must do better if you want the gravy train to last.

America is, has been, and will be just fine! For as stupid, selfish and uninvolved as we are as a nation, we are also the luckiest people in the world. So far that, at least, has been damn convenient. I hope we can open our eyes and do better.

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A very good post, Robert, but I hope you don't mind if I add a few clarifications.

First you point out:

OF COURSE we are the greatest consumer of oil in the world. One in four barrels in the world production for just 4% of the population. Hurrah for us.

... and then you point out:

The GDP for the world is 54 trillion in 2007, and we were close to 14 trillion of that total. That is 4% of the people with over a quarter of the goodies.

Now, let us assume that America is consuming other world resources roughly at the same rate that we are consuming oil (4% of the world's population consuming about 25% of the world market for that resource --- this probably is very generally true, except for food, since America is still a major exporter of raw food commodities such as corn, soy, wheat, etc.)

Next, let's be very clear that the GDP, the Gross Domestic Product, is the total value of all the goods and services that we produce --- so, likewise, 4% of the world's population is also producing over 25% of the world's output.

In other words, American consume resources roughly in the same proportion to the rate at which they produce valuables. Moreover, a very good slice of the 25% of world resources we consume constitute simply the raw materials that are inputted into our economic engine --- for example, we use a lot of petroleum, but a certain percentage of that petroleum is used by farmers to produce their corn, soy, and wheat. So when looked at this way, one can see that a certain amount of these astronomical stats about American consumption is a consequence of America being an economic engine that is running at supersonic speed while the rest of the world's economies (generally) run at 30 MPH or slower. America takes raw materials and ... CRUNCH! turns them into ready-to-use products and ready-to-benefit services like crazy. Not that I love John McCain, but he is correct when he says the American worker is strong ... stronger and more empowered than any other workers in the world: CRUNCH! CRUNCH! CRUNCH! It bears pointing out that some of this export is survival products (such as corn and soy) while some of it is intellectual products (such as academic research results, new theories in about every area of study imaginable, literature, and entertainment products such as theater, movies, music, television and sports).

Another part of the Big Picture, and Robert, you allude to this briefly, is that no other country in the world exports foreign aid at a level anywhere near what we do. The 79 billion surplus in Iraq came from two sources: (1) oil money they stockpiled, and (2) American foreign aid that they stockpiled. My guess is that it is more (2) than (1).

But yes, China and India are learning the CRUNCH! routine pretty well. In the meantime, the routine itself is undergoing massive re-design because we (the world) needs to learn how to make it run on renewable resources instead of the petroleum that we will eventually run out of --- and we will need to learn how to dump our waste heat into space if we can't make the CRUNCH routine a net zero-heat process.

P.S. Robert, you also said:

Of course, no golden parachutes. Those who broke the law should be punished accordingly ...

Unfortunately, for the most part, the business executives that made this mess did not break laws: The genius of their criminality was in manipulating the system such that they prevented the appropriate and necessary laws and regulations from being enacted in the first place.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | September 27, 2008 10:18 PM

I just wish Allen that we gave no "military" aid. Ready for a surprising number? Bush gives more aid to Africa than our hero Clinton ever did. Clinton, on the other hand, has kept working for the impoverished through his foundation.

And while we are the economic engine, we also have to learn how to produce and consume wisely. Just petroleum based fertilizers for starters scare the bejesus out of me.

Regarding the investigation to come of Brad the banker and his point shaving buddies. I think that it is too soon to suggest that the Republican drive to deregulate left them loopholes this large, but time will tell. Should the banking regulators fail the SEC will be right behind. This reeks to heaven.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | September 28, 2008 12:19 AM

P.S. Allen,

We should remember that a huge amount of the plastics we use in America are not fabricated in America and do not count as petroleum use by us but the originating countries. We suck up a lot of black gold in America totally off the books in the things we import in our unbalanced trade. Thanks old friend.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | September 28, 2008 2:02 AM

P.P.S. Remember too, even Al Capone was never tried for racketeering, only tax evasion.

I haven’t been forced to sit through an “Up with America" sloganfest since high school, but the paytriotism of supporters of the bailout reminds me of that painful experience.

The truth is that no fig leaf is large enough to hide the economic open sores of the US nor will they prevent sepsis. The US is a debtor nation because of the massive amounts of capital consumed by the one tenth of one percent of the population who dispose of unassailable wealth and power. And now they demand that we pay their debts. That’s arrogance personified.

The US may be headed for a depression and will definitely experience a deep recession combined with stagflation, which is inflation combined with a dwindling of jobs, losses in wages and the end of social programs and they want us to pay for it! Immediate collapse is not inevitable, but whatever happens working people will pay an awful price for this latest failure of capitalism, for the war, and for a Congress and White House who grovel at the feet of the rich.

Because they’re rich and get even richer during recessions and depressions, they’re able to smirk and advise us saying “Don’t Worry! Be happy! We’ll get through this together!”

There are good reasons though, to feel optimistic about the US. In 1776 a great revolutionary upheaval rocked North America. Unrelenting and unyielding, the struggle for sovereignty shook the entrenched tyranny of the Brits, and shattered dreams of empire. In 1860 another great social upheaval put down the arrogance and treason of the criminal Southern slave-owners. Both events fundamentally altered the nation.

A new temblor has been powering up for decades. In the last thirty years growing numbers of working people have taken a beating, forced to work longer and harder to make ends meet. From the end of the Second World War until the 1970’s the economic successes of working people, based on the victories of the unions smoothed over the jagged edges of a society run by and for the rich.

That period ended with the NAFTA union busting by Clinton, the deregulation of Carter, Reagan, Clinton and the Bushes, and the Clinton/Bush war, fissuring and fracturing are again showing up across the social landscape.

It began during Nixon’s second term as inflation, ignited and fueled by the war in Vietnam, began to smolder through the economy. Carter continued it with deregulation, Reagan busted the Air Traffic Controllers unions, Bush1 and Clinton went to war, decimated welfare, deregulated the predators and decimated social programs. Bush2 carried it forward and added a dangerous attack on civil liberties, which McCain and Obama support.

Now, 40 some years later, the economic security that many took for granted is lost, replaced by mounting anger and anxiety. Unions, our first line of defense against the arrogant greed of the rich, operate at a disadvantage. Subject to a government of, for and by the rich, they’re boxed in on all sides by anti- union laws like NAFTA, and the rich who wouldn’t dream of regulating themselves enforce anti-union regulations with a vengeance. Many of the leaders of the AFL-CIO leaders are mired in accomodationist Democratic (sic) Party and have tied their own hands. Their weaknesses, combined with the steady wearing down of our standards of living and mounting poverty has cracked the daydream of social harmony.

Like the disquieting jerks and shudders that occasionally rumbled through the body politic before the detonations of 1775 and 1860, new shocks and tremors are signaling the approach of another great shaker. Razor sharp divisions are once again shredding the national consensus. The ‘middle ground’, once so beloved by slippery politicians, is now just a place where they’re sniped at by all sides.

What really makes this country great is that Americans are ready to unleash the convulsive energies of latent social antagonisms. In 1776, 1860, with the growth of unions, civil rights struggles and the antiwar movement, working people and farmers have proven their willingness to turn on their masters with sudden and explosive fury. These deep-rooted processes evolve at their own tempo and nobody can say when it’ll happen again but the next one will give us the chance to again fundamentally restructure North American societies. It’ll be great fun.

And in the elections, remember to write in a protest vote, or vote for the US Labor Party, or for socialist or communist candidates. It’s better, paraphrasing Gene Debs, to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don’t want and get it. If you can stomach four more years of war, pandering to bigots and bailing out the rich Obama’s your candidate. Or McCain, it makes no difference.

What we definitely don’t want are any more big defeats like Clintons DOMA so vote against the anti-GLBT same sex marriage initiatives in Californian, Arizona and Florida.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | September 27, 2008 10:35 PM

Odd, only you could take a posting that includes:

"Due to the doubling of the price of rice one fourth of humanity right now, but Americans consume more calories per capita than anyone in the world"

and find that an "Up with America" speech.

Perhaps to you it sounds like one. Reread the last paragraph would you?

Ganshorn, don't you get it? It was precisely your last paragraph I had in mind when I raised the question of jingoism:

"America is, has been, and will be just fine! For as stupid, selfish and uninvolved as we are as a nation, we are also the luckiest people in the world."

Every idea you express in that revealing little slogan is full of error.

As for the history of the US it’s true that the US has had its good moments like 1776 and 1860 and the growth of unions but for long periods of our history we’ve victimized by the rich. They deliberately foster homophobia, racism and to divide and rule. Their greed has been responsible for depressions and recessions and they've engaged in foreign wars, beginning with their murderous attack on Native Americans and continuing to this day in countries all over the world.

After the civil war they made a deal with the Democrats and instituted Jim Crow, which for millions was an extension of slavery via Jim Crow laws that sentenced people to hard, involuntary labor for the rich or for the state. That went on until World War Two. They passed a series of laws that combined with the democracy-killing Electoral College effectively blocked independent political action. And now they're taking direct aim at the Bill of Rights with FISA and the Paytriot act, both supported by Obama and Bush.

Ganshorn, if you actually lived in the US and could talk to people you'd know that most Americans think that the slogan "America is, has been, and will be just fine!" is at best doubtful and for a growing number simply hogwash.

Working people do not think that they're part of the "stupid, selfish and uninvolved" crowd but they believe in huge majorities that the corporate rich and their kept politicians are. They know that politicians service the rich while they screw us into the ground. That's why tens of millions don't bother to vote. They're right. You're wrong.

Nor do most of us think we’re particularly lucky right now. Personal savings rates are at the same level they were during the depression. Unemployment jumped in the last two years. Foreclosures and repossessions are way up and thanks to dismal sellouts like Biden we now have draconian bankruptcy laws. Even civil service workers and autoworkers are being forced to take big pay cuts so you can imagine what it’s like for less organized workers. About one in six of us have no insurance. ER’s can only do so much so a lot of people suffer and die because for the lack of socialized medicine which all reactionaries oppose. Among the unluckiest are the young men and women fighting and dying for Haliburton and Texaco half way around the world and over a million Iraqi victims of Clinton and Bush. You're wrong about that too.

If you lived here you’d get a first hand chance to find out what people think about your ideas. But you’d be well advised to wear a catcher’s mask if you’re going to tell them how lucky they are. There may be a few people here who agree with you, but they’re few and far between. Most of then are in Congress and they're called paytriots.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | September 28, 2008 4:04 AM

Mr. Gym Teacher, a man your age should not stay up so late. I have lived overseas one year next Wednesday. My ancestor came to Indiana in 1816 and the land he farmed is still in my family. I know a little bit about working people because they were the only people I knew growing up.

I know the ills and disparities of income of the United States which are trivial when compared to the big wide world you are afraid to visit. You know I have a burning desire for universal health care, but you are showboating for your self imagined "audience" as usual.

Your criticism betrays your coddled lifestyle in your apartment building with all those postage stamp sized swimming pools, running water, electricity, air conditioning, telephones, food and all the leisure you have to submit your voting commercial over and again.

Seventy percent of the world can only dream of what you have deservedly or not. The starving billion of our fellow humans and those just getting by are the people worst affected by our economic downturn

If a sizable percentage of the American voters are not stupid, selfish, lazy and uninvolved how do you explain their voter turnout?, or for that matter the right wing fundie voter turnout? And if they are suffering and are not bright enough to organize to effect change they would view to be in their interest (which would mean leaving their precious television sets) who am I or you to tell them what to do as they consume the most calories per head in the world.

How can you explain that Americans are so poorly traveled outside the United States. Oh, they might miss McDonald's too much! They have no curiosity to find out why "terrorists" wish to attack them while they nest deeper and deeper into their sofa with their dish of ice cream.

And no, gym teacher, I don't get you. For that much I am grateful.

Ganshorn demands an answer!

If a sizable percentage of the American voters are not stupid, selfish, lazy and uninvolved how do you explain their voter turnout, or for that matter the right wing fundie voter turnout?

Well Ganshorn, it's like this. They don't vote because unlike you they can't stomach the thought of voting for one of a pair of bigot-pandering pro-war lapdogs of the rich. And maybe some of them have figured out that this is not exactly a democracy and are working for change in other ways.

As for the Republican vote, the answer is simplicity itself. The Republicans are always way behind the Democrats in registered voters. Republicans have been a minority party for a long time. The only reason they continue to win is because people refuse to vote for opportunist hustlers like Biden (who let the money-grubbing banks get mean about bankruptcy just before their dominos started falling) and a superstitious cultist like Obama who agrees with god and McCain that we're second class citizens who don't have the right to be married.

I am suprosed but glad that for once you being honest about your contempt for working people and Americans in general. What I surmised about you everyone now knows for sure.

I’m sure that all the rancor directed against anti-union business owners like you because the economy you all screwed over collapses around them must come as a shock. But think of how much more upset you’d be if you lived here and actually had some sense of the rage working people are feeling about your economy and what it’s doing to us.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | September 28, 2008 10:18 PM

Excuse me Gym teacher, you have to wait your turn. I am busy commenting back to those who do not overdose on the "bold" key. :)

No excuses, Ganshorn.

I don't think there is an excuse for union-busting and apologizing for the corporate rich. If it's an attempt to divert attention from the imminent economic collapse caused solely by the corporate rich it's a futile one, And so is blaming that collapse, or the price or rice, which skyrocketed because of speculators, or any other effect of their gross mismanagement of the economy on anything but greed-inspired elitists. It won't work. We know better.

The problem is not caused by working people, or their unions. The blame lies with the rich who can't get past their abject greed and ultimately always fail when they try to run an economy. And of course by their apologists.

And while we’re at I'm not likely to excuse your pride in an ancestor who "… came to Indiana in 1816 and the land he farmed is still in my family...” He probably ripped if off from some of my ancestors.

Custer had it coming! Etc.

If people want to do something meaningful about the economic chaos we face they should join a union or help build the one they’re in. They should be active in the antiwar movement and help build a GLBT left. They should fight for an inclusive ENDA and a hate crimes bill – all parts of our agenda tossed in the garbage by the same Democrats who are falling over each other to be the first to give away $700 billion dollars to the dummies who lost it by being greedy and stupid. The paytriots Ganshorn admires so.

With Democrats like that who needs Republicans.

Those will help but voting for Obama or McCain and the parties that enable the corporate rich will do nothing but give us for more years of bigot-pandering, war and perhaps the ultimate economic crisis - depression. Vote for the US Labor Party where it's on the ballot or for socialist or communist candidates. And if there aren’t any decent parties and you prefer to stay home or vote, as I will, for 'none of the above candidates’ that's ok, nothing is going to get chaned one way or the other by elections. Except where there are anti-LGBT initiates on the ballot and in those cases we should make a point of voting.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | September 29, 2008 12:12 AM

You could not even surmise my hat size...

So you indite all American Farmers along with all political parties except the ones you like...

You approve use of violence, why am I not surprised that you think Custer deserved it. In my response to an intelligent comment I have already mentioned our shameful past in this and other areas of exploitation like slavery. Are all people who wore cotton prior to 1865 equally guilty?

Isn't it lonely in there gym teacher? Thanks for keeping me laughing and enjoy your dip in one of the many postage stamp sized swimming pools in your apartment block as you luxuriate in your apartment with electricity, aircon, phones, running water, internet connections television sets and furniture all created by capitalism.


Ganshorn wants us to believe that "I have studied history."

Evidently not. And if he did he must have been home schooled by those Republicans ladies of his back in Indiana. In any case, his education is revealingly Eurocentric and straight out of a bad John Wayne movie.

He condemns the Sioux and Cheyenne who, led by Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse gave Custer exactly what he deserved. The native peoples, as usual, were defending themselves from depraved military murderers like Custer. On orders from mining companies he was raiding into Indian country to terrorize people and drive them out of their treaty lands. Crazy Horse was not raiding Chicago or Cincinnati, Custer was raiding their lands. They were defending their people. Get the distinction Ganshorn? I thought not.

Custer and the mining companies who wrote his orders wanted to drive the native peoples off their land but got a nasty suprise on the way. It’s because they'd absorbed the lesson of the Cherokee experience. Forced to leave their farms and cities to make way for Eurocentric farmers they were nearly rubbed out on the Trail of Tears. The Sioux and Cheyenne turned the tables and met the invader at the Little Big Horn and, for a change, rubbed them out.

Sitting Bull, Crazy horse and all the brave warriors at the Little Big Horn fought to prevent just the sort of massacre that occurred a few years later at Wounded Knee. Custer, as usual, was acing in violating of numerous solemn treaties. In the long run native peoples were not victorious like the Vietnamese and Cubans, who kicked ass, or as the Iraqis will be when they force McCain or Obama out of Iraq.

The violence against the Sioux was started by the unchecked greed of mining companies; just as today’s economic violence against working people results from the unchecked greed of crude business types whose private management of economic affairs sooner or later always leads to disaster.

They'll have to be replaced by democratically elected governing bodies and then we'll make our former bosses do some actual productive work for a change.

This is turning out to be a revealing conversation, Ganshorn. Earlier you falsely said that “America is, has been, and will be just fine!” Several of us commented and you tried to back down but you can’t unsay what you said. Then you laid bare your utter contempt for working people by saying that “For as stupid, selfish and uninvolved as we are as a nation, we are also the luckiest people in the world." Again, you tried to back off some but we have it all in black and white. And now you’re blaming the violence against native people on … native peoples. John Wayne would be so proud.

And finally, in answer to your bizarre comment that I “indite (sic) all American Farmers” that’s not true. I love the efforts of family farmers who see the need to unite with working people etc. in a movement to end the reign of the economic mismanagers. That’s a natural partnership that’s been undercut over the years but given the latest failures of the corporate rich that too will be changing.

But that won’t stop me stop me from calling a thief a thief or lamenting what happened to native peoples, who are part of the ancestry of millions of Americans.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | September 29, 2008 7:47 AM

Your chances of seeing my college transcripts are somewhere between nill and impossible.

John Wayne and Eurocentric? How does one say crossant with a Wayne drawl missy?

Custer was not a miner and his last stand was no where near Indiana. My Hoosier Republican Ladies are also farmers Bill. 1816 was also the year Indiana became a state so my ancestor, who came to the United States with an education, took nothing personally from anyone but did take the opportunity for land he could clear when he could get it.

Certainly Indian game hunting had occurred on the land my family had cleared because my father reported to me that he and his brothers still found arrowheads of the Tippecanoe Indians even in the 1920's and 1930's. Very tiny amounts of foodstuffs compared to what has grown their since. 192 years later we still hold this land and you hate the American family farm. You, in black and white would confiscate all inherited assets for the state in excess of one half of one million dollars. By your own statements you are against the family farm. Also, you can't figure out how to unionize them because they work too hard.

I presume you would replace it with a Stalinist experiment? We would need to import food from Brazil.

Honestly Ganshorn, no one is interested in your purported transcripts and none of us wants to know your hat size.

Least of all me.

What I do want to know is why you distort American history so often. How could you defend a depraved murderer like Custer and try to blame the victims instead of the criminal for the violence.

And why you always take the wrong side of the still one-sided class war being waged against the vast majority of the people of this country by the corporate rich.

And why you dismiss the rage and fear that Americans feel as the facts become clearer. In your "Up with America" (or was it "Up with People", no matter, it's all the same crap) euphoria do you think we should all be wearing government issued happy face masks while austerity is imposed on us for decades.

If you want to talk about politics fine, but please keep your personal life out of the conversation. No one seems to be interested.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | September 29, 2008 10:23 AM

What I would like to know is how you can look in the mirror and find any truth staring back at you. Which personality am I addressing now. The one who doubts that I have studied history or the one who "surmises" that they know something about me.

Your inconsistencies are rife, your ramblings are many and most importantly no one reads beyond your first paragraph. You also seem to lack anything that resembles an attention span. Now if you could be concise (but you can't) people might read what you say.

One in four persons potentially suffering death from starvation and you call it crap? You want to condemn me for Indian tribe brutalities of 140 years ago. Get in the moment gym teacher.

Without us producing, and a vibrant banking system to support our production, the suffering in the world would be too awful to think about.

Vibrant banking system?

And without the violence we perpetrate on other countries in the name of Freedom. Democracy and yes even Aid much of this suffering wouldn't occur. At you can read about the effects of the global gag order.

we are also the luckiest people in the world.

We are not lucky. The positions we are in now have been provided by racism, imperialism, war, etc.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | September 28, 2008 10:15 PM

Hi PB.

The banking system must again be made vibrant so that banks will loan to one another and corporations, individuals and small businesses.
If it fails to do that people are going to die.

Please reread paragraph that begins with: "Some people don't like capitalism." Did you read where I decried military imperialism? Hello?

Regarding luck, I also say we are fat, lazy intellectually and politically. Not everyone, but check out suburbia sometime. But we are lucky and I will include that answer in my response to Alex.

Thanks for your interest.

Your responses to comments are gross. Your post is ridiculous. Why do the editors let you post?

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | September 29, 2008 10:29 AM

OK, I retract "thank you for your interest" (since you find that gross) and commend you to learn some manners. Bye kid!

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | September 29, 2008 11:08 AM

Dear Poolboi,

Since my goal is to learn and share information I visited your listed website and found the information presented on access (or lack of it) to abortion rights principally in Africa. is not exactly germane to my posting. Abortion rights, though I fully support them, have little to do with gross domestic product.

Sorry that I appear "gross" to you and I wish you well in all things.

I agree with pooboi on a lot of what he says: we're not lucky, and you can't look at the economic disparity between us and other countries without first looking at violence, since violence is how we got that wealth.

Besides that, I'd dispute the math scores fact, because the last international test on that subject tested only the college-track kids in most western countries, and up to age 21 in many of those countries (including France). The US was the only one that tested a random sampling of high school seniors.

But it doesn't justify how we live. We think it's OK to steal wealth from other countries and then bicker over who gets more in the US, but it's not.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | September 28, 2008 11:54 PM

Firstly, I should correct myself. Not every country with a smaller GDP than ours actually has a lower income per person. But we can't all live in Luxemburg with no standing army and 76,000 inhabitants. :)

Alex, I know that I have a major disadvantage. I have studied history. Firstly, please observe my reply to A.J. Lopp above with reference to how I view the use of our military. If it were up to me taxes in France would be much higher because the USA would no longer be paying the lion's share of NATO. Bases in Germany? Ha ha!

The United States and her citizens are damn lucky and until good old rough rider Teddy Roosevelt over 100 years ago our country had grown amazingly with virtually no military. We generally only wanted to be able to defend ourselves should we have to. We were a country and continent blessed by excellent weather for crops, natural resources, rivers, harbors and the will to trade. It was no accident that in 1775 the second largest city in the entire British Empire was that upstart city of New York. An American colonial British citizen was materially better off than her cousins were in Britain. It is well documented in journals that the British Army could not believe the prosperity they saw.

Not being a traditionally "religious" person I do have to credit a greatly reduced level of violence to the relative freedom of religion our new republic fostered when compared to the religious carnage of Europe.

If you would like to say we were violent to native Americans I surely agree with you. Were we violent in the institution of slavery?, of course. Did a majority of Americans directly participate in this shame?, they did not. There are more threads than can be discussed here when you make a blanket statement of "Look at violence." On some level violence in the world has always been with us.

We had to defend ourselves during the war of 1812 which was arguably our finest hour in keeping our sense of country intact from the former colonial rulers. We did not ask to be attacked, we did not "win", but we held our land until the British left.

Up to the time of the Spanish American War anyone could arrive in our country and stay here bringing their skills from the old world with them. We had already built coast to coast railroads. We had only had our Civil War by that time ending our own unforgivable "peculiar institution."

Now Alex, do you want to see real violence today? Look at a starving country when the aid arrives at a refugee camp. Now, look at the incredible abundance of American farmers (despite my fears of petrol based fertilizers and hybrid seeds) and tell me how that wealth producing asset is violent. All that we have is hardly the result of violence. IF WE ARE to rediscover the best part of being an American we must first demilitarize again. Why do I say "again?" Because in every internal war we did that exactly and did it again in WW I. Only since we used the atom bomb have we been afraid to disarm because we have been sold fear of the world. That fear has lead to many of the mistakes you make reference to.

I know that you worked in a school catering to the well off (and self involved) in suburban Indianapolis. Have you worked in a multiracial inner city school? Have you visited a food court in a shopping mall and observed that if the cash register does not tell the 16 year old how much change to give you they have no idea?

Math scores? Ask a sixteen year old public school kid in America to do a multiplication table. Algebra? Geometry? Calculus? Then ask a kid in Korea, or even a first generation American Korean Kid.

I appreciate the intellectual rigor you bring with you Alex. It is always a treat for me to read your many posts and enjoy the wide ranging subject matter you share. The whole premise of my posting was that our 4% of the world population does not automatically deserve 25% of the world's goodies, but until other countries surpass our advantages (and they, sooner than you believe, will)we need to keep a banking system that keeps the wheels of industry and trade turning for the benefit of the 90% of the world who lives on so much less, as much as ourselves. The world is now a single economic entity.

Instead of military might I want to see educational strength. You yourself,(I believe) once made an excellent observation that each foreign student graduate of an American University should be granted immediate American citizenship and encouraged to stay stateside if they can. If you cannot stay, come back and visit often, and bring your smarts with you. We need them.

I would add that we need to completely reinvent basic education and I am willing to listen to any good ideas you may have. How about a 300% tax on TV sets and free notebook computers to all American school kids paid out of military savings?

Don't hold back, Robert. Tell us how you really feel!

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | September 29, 2008 12:14 AM

Gee Bil, you know how I hate to express myself. :)

I have to point out though - the constant "Ganshorn" and "Gym Teacher" references are getting a little old. It's like watching Obama and McCain debate... "John!" and "Senator Obama" (while never looking him in the eye).

Good Lord.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | September 29, 2008 9:51 PM

Your absolutely right Bil. I think Mr. Perdue is a fine person, a wonderful theorist and a man with whom I agree about a number of things. He also has a penchant for referring to people by their last names in a manner that straddles swear word and explosion.