Friday, June 21, 2019

Thoughts of a Deficit Whisperer

Trillion dollar deficits have an upside that the other injustices of modern America don’t – they carry within themselves the seeds of their own destruction. As a deficit whisperer, I’ve done my best to make a timetable for when out-of-control spending will bring the whole rotten system tumbling down.
Classical liberals such as myself have a lot to complain about when we look at how America is governed. Of all the things that rankle us – be they endless wars, judicial despotism, bureaucratic overreach, mass incarceration, what Planned Parenthood does, or any of the other rampant injustices in our society – deficit spending stands out as the thing which contains within itself the seeds of its own destruction.

In other words, unlike most of the awful things the US government does, deficit spending will actually crash the system if it keeps going on like this. And because I am passionate about all those other injustices, I can watch each uptick of the deficit looking forward to the coming denouement.

So what does it mean to be a deficit whisperer? It means I pay careful attention to where the deficit is now and where it is heading in the future, as I try to make a timetable for when it brings the whole rotten system tumbling down – which is bound to happen once the dollar starts looking weak in the eyes of foreign countries, and America loses the ability to mooch off of other countries’ workforces by exporting dollars.

Back to the present situation: Sometime in the past week, the US federal budget deficit exceeded a trillion dollars. I can’t say for certain when it happened; usdebtclock.org’s estimate of the deficit jumped from $999 billion to $1.007 trillion overnight on Sunday when they updated their source data. But whatever the particulars, the outcome is that trillion dollar deficits are back in America, and this time, they are here to stay.

Unlike under Obama, when the trillion dollar deficit was a temporary measure taken during an economic downturn, the Trump deficit has come during a boom time, with every indication of being the new normal. Indeed, if present trends continue, the deficit will reach $2 trillion less than three years from today!

But numbers like a billion and a trillion only have meaning when you put them in context, and for that, the all-important number is the debt-to-GDP ratio. For the US, it’s currently 105.6%, but it’s forecast to reach 121.5% four years in the future. From then on, we can expect a steady rise. My own prediction is that sometime before 2035, debt will reach double the GDP.

And then comes the economic meltdown. It probably won’t be a matter of the US defaulting on the debt, as there is no need to default when a country can print its own currency. Rather, foreign traders will simply lose confidence in the dollar once they realize that the US can only remain solvent by rapidly inflating its currency.

This will spark a chain reaction, as the dollar will lose most of its value once international trade has moved on to some other currency. Trillions of US dollars will be shipped home in short order, leading to severe inflation, an end to most imports, and an economic collapse worse than the Great Depression. I predict that, due to inflation and economic decline, the price of oil will reach $1000/barrel sometime before 2045.

The central government will prove unable to meet the challenges posed by the aging population and the end of material security and military power. Without the ability to maintain order or keep the goods flowing, the regime in Washington is bound to fall. I predict that by 2055, the United States will have broken up into separate countries, putting an end to the imperialistic wars, judicial despotism, bureaucratic overreach, mass incarceration, and taxpayer funded abortions.

It will be brutal, but it will be worth it. And once the people have been rudely awakened from the state of thoughtless torpor in which they are presently maintained by their endless comforts and amusements, then maybe, just maybe, one of those new countries will evolve into something that resembles the kind of republic that the Founders intended for America to become.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Iran Didn't Attack Those Oil Tankers

The assertion, in the absence of evidence, that Iran is responsible for yesterday’s attacks, should not be believed. Iran has no motive to attack oil tankers, but the Trump Administration has plenty of motives to blame Iran.
Yesterday morning, two oil tankers were attacked with explosives in the Gulf of Oman. One was the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous; the other was Norway’s Front Altair. Not a lot of reliable information is out yet – sources disagree as to whether the weapons were torpedoes or limpet mines, and whether the ships sank, or were merely abandoned after catching fire.

There also isn’t any agreement as to who did it. Mike Pompeo, the US Secretary of State, immediately blamed Iran, saying that no one else in the region has the ability to carry out such a sophisticated attack. Iran vociferously denied it.

All of this raises an important question: why would Iran do such a thing? The State Department’s assertion that Iran was responsible provides no evidence and no motive, only repeating old accusations of “forty years of aggression against freedom-loving nations.”

But since I believe that evidence and motive are important in solving mysteries like this one, I will write a little about why I believe that Iran isn’t responsible, describe three other possible perpetrators that did have a motive to commit the attacks, and, finally, discuss the Trump Administration’s motive for blaming Iran.

Iran’s main foreign policy goal is to be left alone by the United States – something that is easier said than done. For instance, it took years of negotiating with the Obama Administrating to get JCPOA, a promise of sanctions relief in exchange for an end to Iran’s uranium enrichment. But since the deal was never ratified in the US Senate, President Trump was able to rescind it shortly after taking office. This prompted outbursts of anti-American anger in Iran, and the centrifuges were turned back on. Unsurprisingly, the Trump administration is acting as if Iran is the aggressor.

If it still seems like Iran is overreacting, just remember that when the US government imposes sanctions on a foreign country, it doesn’t just ban Americans from trading with that country, it bans everybody from trading with that country. You may remember how Meng Wanzhou, a Chinese corporate executive, was arrested in Canada last December, at the United States’ request, for the crime of trading with Iran.

The originalists in my audience may recall that the constitution does not give Congress power to regulate commerce between foreign nations, but that was back in 1787. Nowadays, America is Emperor of the World, constitution be damned.

And blaming the oil tanker attacks on Iran makes no sense when one considers that one of the tankers, Kokuka Courageous, was owned by Japan, a country whose prime minister was in Tehran at the time, discussing ways to circumvent the American sanctions. Why would Iran attack one of the few countries that is willing to stand up for its rights?

And in case any of my readers have misconstrued my previous post about how the United States would lose a war with Iran, I will repeat that I meant “lose” in the sense that, if war broke out, the Iranians would keep their independence and inflict more damage on America than the Americans are willing to bear. But the majority of casualties, especially civilians, will still be Iranians. Iran has no incentive to make itself the aggressor in a war that would get millions of its people killed.

Having explained why I believe that Iran is not to blame, the question becomes one of who actually has a motive to attack those tankers? In other words, cui bono?

It could simply be ordinary middle eastern terrorists. Perhaps they were funded by Iran, though they certainly weren’t taking orders from the Iranian government. Perhaps they were funded by Saudi Arabia. They would have been acting out of general anti-western sentiment, driven by anger over foreign involvement in the middle east, rather than any sort of coherent grand strategy.

On the other hand, it could have been a conspiracy on the part of oil speculators to drive up the price of crude. Oil futures surged 4 percent on the day of the attacks, and investors with their money leveraged properly would stand to make a huge profit.

Or it could have been a false-flag attack by the US to gain a pretext for war with Iran. While I am listing this as a possibility, I don’t believe that it is more likely than the other two.

What, then, is the State Department’s motive for blaming Iran? Inertia is part of it: enmity with Iran has been a staple of US foreign policy for decades, and old habits die hard. Also, it gives Donald Trump an opportunity to look tough, by breathing out threats against Iran should the aggression continue.

Mike Pompeo and John Bolton are war hawks who want an increased American presence in the middle east. Even if they can’t convince Trump to invade Iran – and at this point I think that they can’t, because Trump knows better than to start the next Vietnam War – they’re still on the lookout for reasons to escalate things and deploy more American forces near the Iranian border.

Finally, the media coverage of these events – in which President Trump gets to be the good guy for a change – is a welcome relief from the constant focus on his administration’s domestic scandals and failure to secure the border.

In conclusion: Iran had no motive to attack the oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. Other people did have motives to do so. And the Trump administration definitely has motives for blaming Iran – but don’t bet on Mr. Trump moving on to open hostilities, because if it came to war, America stands to lose.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Escaping the Left-Right Axis

America’s current political spectrum, and the mainstream conservative and liberal camps, cover a very small portion of all possible ideologies. To truly understand out times, it is necessary to escape the left-right axis, dump traditional media, and instead follow an array of eclectic blogs.
If you have been reading Twilight Patriot for a while, you will probably have noticed that I don’t fit neatly into the conservative camp of American politics. I voted for Donald Trump and will do so again, but I also think he’s a windbag. I disagree with the Republican Party’s denial of climate change, but I also think that anyone who votes Democrat because of that issue is being played for a fool.

I have criticized the British people for not rioting on account of the delays in implementing Brexit, and I have criticized right-wing Americans for not having a revolution – violent or otherwise – over the abortion issue. I admire George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Martin Luther King Jr., Ron Paul, and Vladimir Putin.

I think that conservatives ought to dump their islamophobia. I despise the House of Saud, but have a favourable opinion of Iran. I look forward to the collapse of the US dollar. And I believe that the three biggest moral abominations of modern America are abortion, medicating children for ADHD, and what the Federal Reserve does – in that order.

If you tried to place my ideology on the traditional political spectrum, you would probably conclude that I’m somewhere on the extreme right wing. The trouble is that, on the left-right axis, the “far right” includes both libertarians and fascists. And the statement: “he’s somewhere between a libertarian and a fascist” has very little meaning.

The truth is that I escaped the left-right axis a while ago. And the fact that my beliefs are uncategorizable is a good thing.

The opinions of the modern left, right, and center – in other words, what you’ll find on MSNBC, CNN, and Fox – are a tiny subset of all the political opinions that have ever been held throughout human history. And anyone who calls people like me extremists – that is, anyone who thinks that the only legitimate opinion is some sort of mixing together of the opinions that are commonly held in his own small piece of spacetime – is an idiot.

One reason I think this way is that I was raised to study the classics, and to be part of an intellectual tradition that bestrides millenia of history, next to which the combined viewpoints of Fox, CNN, and MSNBC look rather puny. But another reason is that, as I grew up, I learned to ignore mainstream news sites and instead follow an array of eclectic blogs.

When I was younger, I got my news from websites with fairly standard conservative viewpoints – the Drudge Report, Fox News, and the Federalist. Soon afterward, I started reading liberal sites too – Slate and the Huffington Post. But my opinions were, for the most part, aligned with the Federalist – a fairly standard set of doctrinaire conservative views.

Then I found Matt Walsh. Walsh writes for The Matt Walsh Blog – an aptly-named site if there ever was one – and he’s a right-winger who tells it like it is. Unlike some of the writers at the Federalist, Walsh is willing to say, over and over again, and quite bluntly, exactly why it is that conservatives should seek no middle ground on the abortion issue. Or on sexual liberation, or the welfare state, and so forth.

Rather than reviewing the latest Game of Thrones episode, Walsh just makes a straightforward case that Christians shouldn’t watch Game of Thones – and they also shouldn’t send their children to the public schools – and that they should go to a traditionalist church whose pastor makes them feel guilty about their sins, because modern Christianity isn’t judgmental enough.

According to Walsh, America is not, currently, a great nation – and it isn’t going to have its decline reversed – and it won’t split into multiple countries, because people these days are far too lazy to fight another civil war. Most conservatives are, on account of their apathy, just as guilty for their country’s situation as liberals are. And indifference, not hatred, is the vice that has done our civilization in.

You don’t get that perspective from Fox News, or Breitbart, or the Federalist.

Also, Mr. Walsh is the only right-wing personality I follow who talks about the damage being done to American children by ADHD medication – how child-drugging causes reduced growth, personality changes, psychosis, and permanent deficits in the same neurotransmitters whose concentration the drug is boosting in the short term.

The upshot is that a little over ten percent of America’s young men (and 3 to 5 percent of young women) are going through life with neurotransmitter deficits whose effects are basically unknown, and most news outlets, including the Federalist (which has published about a dozen stories each day since 2013 without mentioning the issue) have nothing to say.

Screw the Federalist.

Matt Walsh has done a lot to help people wake up to the fact that the realities of modern America are much darker than mainstream conservatives want to admit. Even so, his effects on my own intellectual development were limited by the fact that I immediately agreed with almost everything he said – to the point that the biggest issue we don’t agree on is that of emotional support animals (I am in favour; Walsh is generally opposed).

There is only so much you can do with a blog where you agree with nearly everything the proprietor has to say. That’s why the truly fun blogs are a mixture of the self-evidently true and the off-the-wall crazy – ideas which I will almost never share but which, on further thought, I very occasionally end up agreeing with.

A good example of a “fun blog” is Ecosophia – the website of the Archdruid John Michael Greer. Greer is an environmentalist, but he’s far too wise to support the Democrats on that account, and he realizes that both parties are fully committed to the same unsustainable industrial lifestyle. He criticizes all segments of modern society, but especially the Left, for their misplaced faith in abstract thinking, their insistence that the world must conform to their desires, and their dismissal of the experiences of people whom they consider to be beneath them. He takes a moderate view on the things usually called “social issues,” is against globalization, and is a mild supporter of Donald Trump.

An Ecosophia post on the ongoing rise of a unique, non-Western civilization in Russia led me to discover the websites of Dmitri Orlov and the Saker. Orlov and the Saker are both Russians whose families fled their homeland during the Communist years, so that the two men ended up watching the recent transformations of the motherland from the outside. Both are patriots with favourable opinions of Vladimir Putin, whom they see as one of the few national leaders willing to keep his country independent of the American empire – which they see as a militaristic pirate state which is desperately trying to stave off its impending collapse by forcing other countries to accept its increasingly worthless currency.

I do not agree with everything that Orlov and the Saker have to say – I dislike their whitewashing of Russia’s treatment of the Poles, I don’t share their belief that America was founded on unbridled individualism, and I reject the assertion that American foreign policy is controlled by Zionists in Tel Aviv. Nor, for that matter, do Orlov and the Saker always agree with each other: for instance, Orlov is irreligious, while for the Saker, defending the true Orthodox faith against the claims of the heretical Papists and Protestants is more important than any of the mere political controversies that grace his blog.

Nevertheless, reading these authors and internalizing their ideas – whether I end up agreeing with them or not – has brought me a much greater awareness of the alternatives to Western Europe’s (collapsing) civilizational model, the magnitude of the national turnaround that President Putin has achieved since he took power, and the role of American militarism in propping up a doomed financial system amid the ongoing struggle for dedollarization.

If you want to escape the left-right axis like I did, then I recommend reading all of these blogs, and more. Seek out people like Matt Walsh, John Michael Greer, Dmitri Orlov, and the Saker. Be eclectic. Find websites that make you think, that don’t fit into doctrinaire conservatism (or doctrinaire anything), and that don’t flatter their audience into feeling good about their unsustainable lifestyle.

In conclusion: A man who holds who holds only mainstream opinions is a man who never thinks.