January 17, 2011

A Simple Bit of Math

I don't post as much uninformed blather on policy ideas as I used to because:
1: There are others who do it better.
2: The topic depresses me because there are few options open to us and all are varying levels of grim.
3: There are those few people who can make informed posts on policy.

CDR Salamander is one of the latter and he has a math lesson for us all.

Jack made a good point last week over at USNIBlog,
Something’s gotta give. In 2009, the U.S. spent $187 billion (more than China’s defense budget) paying off interest on government debt.


He goes on.
It's short.
Read the whole thing.

In the late 19th early 20th century when other developing countries were going deep into debt for short term gain, Japan had a pretty simple defense strategy. 

"Rich nation=strong army" 

This was the slogan of all mainstream political parties there for something like 40 years. Men of great substance and ability like
Eiichi Shibusawa were encouraged to be entrepreneurs and helped to bring Japan into the modern era.

Around the turn of the century Argentina developed a rather different policy... which I'll  paraphrase with all due malice as "hope and change". 

Argentina had many advantages over Japan, being an established republic that was on a par with the USA and only a little behind Europe technologically. 

Argentina has never recovered. 

Japan became a world power and was quite successful until they went off their trolley in the '30s. 

I see many parallels between then and now.

I do not like them.

The options we have now, as I said earlier, are quite limited. They will grow more limited as time passes. We MAY have until 2013-14 to regain steering, and turn the ship of state away from the  iceberg we are approaching. We are so close and our inertia is so great that we will suffer damage regardless, but as time passes our ability to meaningfully change course, even if we regain full helm control is steadily reduced, until oblivion is inevitable no mater what, so time is of the essence.

Of course, right now we don't have the bridge and have control  of only one engine room....so the only thing we can realistically do in the next two years is reduce our speed. 

That and review our counter flooding procedures.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 08:35 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
Post contains 397 words, total size 4 kb.

1 To be fair, Japan was also undergoing an industrial revolution, which produces a high growth rate as labor is shifted from subsistence farming to industrial goods.

At the end of the day, we've got one big advantage - most of the alternative powers have the same problems we've got, except worse. If the wave breaks, it's going to hammer most of them under before it gets to us. (Not that everything will then be hunky-dory here, but you know what they say about outrunning the tiger.)

And in a worst-case scenario, it's not as if the US doesn't have, well... an incomparable military, thousands of nukes, and absolutely unquestioned mastery of the seas. If the world order breaks down to the point where it becomes "grab what you can get" time, we're in a good position for grabbing and getting. (For that matter, we could stave off the decline for a long, long time just by receiving subsidies from other countries who don't want to see an over-gunned US backed into a corner. You could even argue that this is already happening - you didn't think that China was investing in US government bonds because they liked the returns, did you?)

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at Tue Jan 18 19:01:13 2011 (pWQz4)

2 Yes. Japan benefited from the impressive growth curve that came from industrialization. However, they recognized that growing their economy was a sine qua non of having a strong military.

Other developing countries did not and became colonies. Yes we have an impressive military but that will pass very quickly if we are bankrupt.

I don't think we'll get overrun, we still have nukes, but that is a worrisome thing to have as ones plan B, rather than plan Z sublevel 5 last resort.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at Sun Jan 30 06:02:39 2011 (EJaOX)

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