The United States of America is in decline, but is our decline inevitable? The U.S. Middle Class is disappearing, but is that reversible? Relentless, greedy globalists who bear a striking resemblance to the robber barons of a hundred years ago are destroying what we knew as free enterprise capitalism. Can they be stopped? Our nation faces grave threats from what appears to be an emerging enemy–the People’s Republic of China. Are we destined for a conflict with the dragon?
None of this is inevitable, irreversible, unstoppable or our destiny. We can change the course of our history if we can quit fighting each other and if we have the will to do it.
There is plenty of evidence to support the accusations against the globalist tycoons and the Communist Chinese. Some globalists have formed an unholy alliance with China’s autocratic rulers that is destroying our middle class. These globalists see the world only as markets, not sovereign nations. They are loyal to no flag and no country. Their only loyalty is to their own wealth. The dictators of Beijing have a grudge against the West for exploitation dating back to the 1800s. Some of them believe China is destined to rule the world, despite all their denials to the contrary. Some globalists want to control the world’s wealth and some Chinese hard line Communists want to control the world’s political power, through military muscle, if necessary. I intend to explore the evidence for this in future commentary and analysis.
Let me tell you a bit about my resume. I’m an investigative reporter, writer, multimedia and documentary producer–and I’m an American. My background is in TV news. I’ve won several Emmys and the First Place award for television news documentary in a few international film festivals. I know how to dig for information. Investigative reporting is all about connecting the dots. I hope to connect a lot of dots in the weeks and months ahead.
I live in Southern California now, but I spent most of my reporting career in Detroit, which is ground zero for the destruction of America’s industrial might. My reporting experience in Detroit as a lot to do with my determination to find out what happened to the American Dream and to report what I find.
One of the fundamentals of investigative reporting is what we call contrast and compare. In order to understand scandals and corruption it’s useful to contrast one situation with another, to compare the way things are now with the way they used to be.
In the dark days of World War Two Detroit was known as the Arsenal of Democracy. Most historians agree U.S. industrial capacity enabled us to emerge victorious against two enemies–Germany and Japan. America’s wartime industrial capacity was centered in Detroit. The auto industry turned on a dime from producing cars to producing weapons of war. Ford Motor Company built a factory outside Detroit known as the Willow Run bomber plant. Henry Ford’s engineers were the patriotic Americans who figured out how to apply assembly line technology to the production of tanks and bombers. Willow Run ramped up to the point where one B-24 Liberator bomber per-hour was rolling off the assembly line. The workers on those lines were mostly women; Rosie the Riveters who did their part to save our nation.
Our industrial strength of those days has faded away. The Arsenal of Democracy has fallen into ruin. After the war Willow Run was sold to Kaiser Motors, then to General Motors. In recent years the famed plant made automotive transmissions. But G.M., once the world’s largest corporation, went bankrupt and the Willow Run plant was closed.
This is being posted on the Internet on December 29, 2010. It is a significant date. On this day seventy years ago, President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave his famous Arsenal of Democracy speech as a “fireside chat” on the radio. In those days families used to gather in the evening around big, hulking radios in the living room the way they do now with big-screen TVs.
It’s eerie how the things Roosevelt talked about in 1940 can be applied to our national troubles in 2010. As they say, history repeats itself.
On December 29th, 1940, America was exhausted. It had struggled through the Great Depression. Here’s how Roosevelt described it:
“It was a time when the wheels of American industry were grinding to a full stop; when the banking system of our country had ceased to function.”
Sound familiar? Some economists and apologists for the status quo take pains to say our recent economic cataclysm was not as bad as the Great Depression. Old-timers who lived through the Great Depression disagree. They note that, as bad as things were back then, the banks didn’t throw people out of their homes the way they’ve done in the recent Great Foreclosure purge.
In 1940, as now, Americans were sick of war. World War I, like our recent misadventures in Iraq and Afghanistan, was something the people of the United States wanted to forget. America was in an isolationist mood. Lots of Americans believed if Europe was having problems with the Nazis and Asia was having trouble with Japan, that was their problem–not ours.
But unlike today’s politicians, Roosevelt had the courage to tell America the truth:
“Never before, since Jamestown and Plymouth Rock, has our American civilization been in such danger as now.”
Roosevelt was warning Americans that we had to help Great Britain and the other opponents of Nazism by using one of our nation’s great strengths–our industrial might:
“We must be the great Arsenal of Democracy.”
Roosevelt was leveling with the American people about the danger posed by ruthless dictatorships intent on world domination.
Then, as now, it was a message the American people weren’t eager to hear. Today we don’t want to think about a possible war with China. We’re tired of war. We defeated Communism when the Berlin Wall came down, didn’t we? Many Americans prefer to think of the ruthless, rights-crushing regime in Beijing as a bunch of new-age Communists who want world peace, who have embraced capitalism and therefore will eventually find democracy irresistible, too.
We think–we hope–the Chinese Communists will somehow be different from the Soviet Union Communists, the Cuban Communists, the North Vietnamese Communists, the Cambodian Khmer Rouge Communists and the North Korean Communists. We prefer to think China’s increasing assertion of sovereign rights over ever-expanding parts of the South China Sea, its determination to crush and overthrow democracy on Taiwan and its ruthless repression and occupation of Tibet are not the same as the iron-fisted Communism of the past. Many Americans choose to ignore China’s financial and military support of North Korea and Iran. Today’s quiet and low-key Chinese aggression is, to some wishful thinkers, different than the territorial aggression the world saw from the Nazis, from Imperial Japan and from the post-World War Two Soviet military occupation of Hungary, Czechoslovakia and later, Afghanistan.
We prefer not to think about the fact that Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, India, Australia and other Asia-Pacific nations are deeply concerned about China’s rapid military buildup.
The leaders of the Chinese Communist Party are a different breed in the sense they learned from the Soviet Union’s ruinous head-to-head arms race with the United States and the West.
The ruling elite of Communist China has done what the Soviet Union could never do. They’ve taken our industrial capacity which was the backbone of America’s might. In a very real sense China has dismantled our defense industrial base, our Arsenal of Democracy–and they’ve done it without firing a shot.
Toledo, Ohio used to be the glass capital of the country. Today, the Toledo Museum of Art has a $30 million Glass Pavilion made with glass imported from–China. No one in the United States had the technical capability to create the massive curved glass needed for the pavilion, which sadly celebrates Toledo’s industrial past.
U.S. business media apologists for the dictators of Beijing chant a mantra that doing business with the Chinese Communists will compel them to become democratic.
Most Americans have forgotten that Deng Xiaoping, the architect of the People’s Republic march to modernization and the inspiration for China’s authoritarian capitalism once said, “Hide our capabilities and bide our time.”
Deng also figured out how to game the capitalist economic system. One of his other memorable lines was, “Let some people get rich, first.” The wily little Chinese leader never said what comes second.
We now know what comes second. It’s the gutting of U.S. industrial power. Donald Trump, arguably America’s highest profile business tycoon put it succinctly in a CNN interview:
“We don’t manufacture anything anymore in this country. We do healthcare. We do lots of different services but the big service is manufacturing. Everything is made in China.”
As a nation we have sat on our hands–and other things–while our ability to make products to sell in trade in the global economy has steadily, relentlessly slipped offshore, mainly to China.
Trump: “They’re sucking money out of this country and then the horrible part is, they then loan it back to us. Hey, look, I know lots of folks in China. They think we are the dumbest son of a bitches in the world, alright? They think our representatives don’t know what they’re doing. They laugh at us behind our back. They’re taking money out and they loan it to us…think of it! They come in, they take all this money in the form of jobs and everything else, then they loan us money because they’re buying our treasuries. It’s ridiculous.”
Most Americans know, in a vague way, that China has been supporting our irresponsible no-new-taxes-to-pay-for-our-spending spree by loaning money to our government. U.S. Treasury figures show as of October, 2010, our government is in debt to China for nearly 907 billion dollars.
An issue that is lower on the radar screen is the fact that the government of China, through what is known as a sovereign wealth fund, has been buying stock in U.S. corporations. A sovereign wealth fund is an investment vehicle for national governments.
The People’s Republic of China now owns a piece of Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Citigroup, Apple Computer, Coca-Cola, Johnson and Johnson, Motorola and General Motors.
Does China influence U.S. policy? It’s a silly question. In the scary days of early September, 2008, as our economy went in to free fall, the Bush Administration rushed to bail out the riverboat gamblers of Wall Street banking and the irresponsible leaders of Freddie Mac–the Federal Home Mortgage Corporation, and Fannie Mae–the Federal National Mortgage Association. The Bush White House was under pressure from China to do so because Beijing was heavily invested in Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae loans.
Brian Setzer of the Council on Foreign Relations, in an interview on World Focus, used the Freddie/Fannie bailout as an example of the influence Communist China has on what our government does when its biggest creditor is upset:
“I think the only real example we can really have where China has exercised a bit of influence was when the debate about Freddie and Fannie came up, because China, in addition to holding an ungodly number of Treasuries, probably has half a trillion dollars of Freddie and Fannie debt and they really wanted those institutions to be bailed out.”
The Chinese financial stake in our economy may be even larger than the figures suggest. The Securities and Exchange Commission recently launched an investigation of a scheme by which Chinese companies “merge” with fake U.S. shell companies in a scheme known as a reverse takeover. Untold numbers of U.S. accountants, lawyers and bankers have helped the Chinese use this scam to worm their way into our economy.
In a CNBC interview, Warren Buffett, the widely admired billionaire investor known as the Oracle of Omaha, was asked about China’s use of its sovereign wealth fund to buy a stake in the economy of America. Buffett uses different words than Donald Trump but he draws a similar conclusion:
“People over there work hard. They work extra hours to send us shoes and send us a lot of things you see in the store, and we send them little pieces of paper. And they’re not as excited to get those little pieces of paper but we ought to expect them to do with those little pieces of paper whatever is the most intelligent. That’s what we would do. And so sovereign wealth funds are simply a result of a large trade deficit, large current account deficit, and they’re going to get larger and larger and larger. And we may hope they buy government bonds instead of equities but they should have the right to make that choice.”
China is not buying ownership in America because they want to be a democracy. That’s a lie that dies hard. Theirs is an authoritarian regime with iron-fisted control of the Chinese people. The Chinese Communist Party has no intent to change. What they are doing is gaming capitalism and the capitalists and cheating on so-called free trade for their own advantage.
On the other hand China has some serious internal problems which I will examine in future commentaries and analysis.
Ronald Reagan, the political patron saint of America’s conservatives understood Communist thinking and he wasn’t conned by lies and smooth talk of a peaceful rise of Communism anywhere. In his famous 1983 “Evil Empire” speech Reagan was talking about the Soviets, but let’s consider what he said and think about Beijing instead of Moscow:
“…because these quiet men do not raise their voices, because they sometimes speak in soothing tones of brotherhood and peace; because, like other dictators before them, they’re always making “their final territorial demand,” some would have us accept them at their word and accommodate ourselves to their aggressive impulses. But if history teaches anything, it teaches that simple-minded appeasement or wishful thinking about our adversaries is folly. It means the betrayal of our past, the squandering of our freedom. So, I urge you to speak out against those who would place the United States in a position of military and moral inferiority.”
In today’s toxic partisan politics in America, militants on the Left despise Ronald Reagan and hotheads on the Right heap scorn on Franklin Roosevelt.
Yet these two presidents had a couple of things in common: they had the courage to be true leaders and they didn’t flinch from telling the American people the truth; whether it was about the refusal of some to see the rights-crushing domination of fascism or communism–or the need to maintain hope:
“We saw this phenomenon in the 1930s. We see it too often today.”
“We have no excuse for defeatism. We have every good reason for hope. Hope for peace. Yes, and hope for the defense of our civilization and for the building of a better civilization in the future.”
While cutting taxes and shrinking government is all the rage these days, Americans with tax phobia, especially conservatives, would do well to remember national defense is part of government and it’s paid for with our tax dollars. The taxaphobes, and the peace-at-any-price anti-defense liberals must remember the world is a dangerous place. And democracy is still the exception to the rule in the countries of the world.
As Ronald Reagan said: “The reality is that we must find peace through strength.”
That was true when Reagan said it in 1983, it was true when Roosevelt urged it in 1940 and it’s still true today.