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Editorial correspondence | Back to History | Back to the world news
TM, ®, Copyright © 2008 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.

Articles after 2008
The really bad ideas of the bailouts
Why i voted against "gay" marriage
What is wrong with the Republican party
Why i didn't endorse either candidate
The 13 most feared words in the English language
What you didn't hear at the debate
"Fix News" doesn't get it
The latest joke from Washington: a Jewish holiday?
Cash for trash
Who caused the financial meltdown
A rebuttal of the conservative worldview
How Bush engineered a new depression
Sarah Palin, the typical bad choice
The worst product in the world
Health care kills
Karl Rove, crook
Amend the amendment
A coalition for the 21st century
Yankees go home
The weak dollar and the trade deficit
Why gasoline hurts so much
They sure miss the American Dream
Change?
The thirty-year recession
The specter of a new Reagan
How Bush engineered the worst recession in modern times
Learn from European discipline
What the Democrats don't say
The Cuba embargo
USA medicine kills
Western vs Islamic terrorism
The Great American Fascist Alliance
Demonizing Iran
Texas makes Arabian human rights look good
Destroying more evidence
The USA is no longer the right pulpit to preach democracy
Comical Ali, Powell, Rumsfeld, Bush
The ideal president
Bloomberg for president
2007 articles


  • (december 2008) The really bad ideas of the bailouts. Underlying the financial bailout and now the car-manufacturers bailout packages are two really bad ideas. The first one (borrowed from the failed economies of Western Europe) is that the government's job is to keep alive companies that are bankrupt just because they employ a lot of people. As the experience in Western Europe has amply proven, this only prolongs the agony. The government will have to step in many more times in the future. The companies will have little motivation to truly solve their problems, and their main goal will become not to sell their services and products to the world but to obtain subsidies from the government.
    The second bad idea is even worse. Banks are parasites. They borrow money from citizens and from the government, and then they give it back to citizens at a higher price. It's an outdated model that only serves the purposes of bankers. If the traditional bank disappears, good riddance. Someone will come up with a better idea. Ditto for car manufacturers. The underlying assumption of the rescue package is that we need cars. The right approach would be exactly the opposite: we don't want cars anymore. This is 2008, not 1908. We want a national plan to get rid of cars, not a national plan to keep manufacturing cars. Ditto for the aid that has already been given to airlines: plane travel is a nightmare, and the last thing we want is more of it. We want magnetic-levitation trains (a` la Shanghai), modern and ubiquitous subways, escalator links (a` la Hong Kong and Hanoi); basically, a world without roads. Don't subsidize the obsolete infrastructure of the USA. Not only does it go against the free-market principles that we have been preaching to the rest of the world when they subsidized their industries, but we don't want airplanes and cars anymore. This is 2008, not 1908.
    Ditto for the energy industry. The USA government has been subsidizing oil companies for decades, even when their profits where skyrocketing. Stop subsidizing the oil companies: we want to get rid of oil. We want green energy, and nuclear plants. This is 2008, not 1908.
    The best thing that could happen to the USA is that the obsolete industries die, whether they are banks, car manufacturers, airlines or oil companies. An economy based on obsolete services and products is not something to relish. Sure thousands of people will lose their jobs. But the entire country would eventually be bankrupt if it keeps investing in obsolete concepts. On the other hand, let's invest in new technologies, ideas and business models, which will create millions of jobs for the future.
    Let's invest in the future, not in the past. This is 2008, not 1908.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2008 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (november 2008) Why i voted against "gay" marriage. Let's start by admitting that discrimination (properly defined) is pervasive and totally accepted. Western society discriminates against many categories of people: mentally insane people (who are denied almost all civil rights based on a very arbitrary and ever-shifting definition of "mental illness"); physically handicapped people (who can be legally denied many jobs); convicts (two million citizens of the USA who are denied most civil rights, including the right to walk in a park); sick people (who are denied, for example, the right to adopt and sometimes even the right to travel); less educated people (who never have the same chance in life as higher educated people); last but not least, singles (who don't have the same rights as people who are married, from tax deductions to adoption). It is likely that all of these categories would like to have more rights than they have today. Then one could add soccer fans, who don't get as many fields as baseball fans, and listeners of avantgarde music, who don't get as many concerts as pop music fans, and so forth and so forth and so forth. You can come up with an infinite list of "minorities" that are discriminated because they are a minority.
    So the argument that we should not "discriminate" against gay marriage calls for the opposite question: why is it anathema to raise issues about gay marriage when it is ok to have all sorts of discriminations against all sorts of categories?
    Second, if we have to expand the definition of marriage, why only expand it to homosexuals? Why is marriage limited to two people? why can't i marry six women at the same time? why can't you have marriage between two men and three women? Polygamy has been pervasive in ancient times, and it is among most mammal species. It is perfectly legal to be a single mother or single father, but it is not legal to have a marriage among three people. Abraham, considered a prophet by Jews, Christians and Muslims alike, had three wives (Sarah, Hagar and Keturah): was he a criminal? The Bible is full of cases of polygamy and never refers to them as amoral. Mohammed, the founder of Islam, had five wives.
    Why are there age limits? why is it illegal to marry a 12-year old? Helen of Troy was 12. Juliet and Cleopatra were still teenagers when they became famous. Most heroines of classic novels and poems were underage by today's laws. Thomas Edison married a 16-year-old. Medical studies show that the best age for a woman to have children is between 15 and 25 (lowest chances of miscarriage, of birth defects and, last but not least, of the woman dying while giving birth); while the worst age is after the mid 30s. And the younger you are, the more likely you are to cement a real friendship with your children; the older you are, the more likely that the "generational gap" will hurt your children's psychology. Therefore it is much more natural to have a child at 16 than at 40. In countless countries of the world women have their first child at a very young age, and stop having children at a relatively young age. Nonetheless, in the USA it is illegal to have sex before 18 (but, note, only if the partner is over 18, which is like saying that it is ok to rob a bank if you are a banker), while it is perfectly legal to get pregnant at 40 or (thanks to medical progress) even at 70.
    Note that all of these forms of marriage were common in ancient times before the introduction of Christian "morality" (Islam, which came after Christianity, still allows them). Therefore one could find stronger arguments in favor of these forms of marriage than in favor of homosexual marriage (which has been relatively rare throughout the centuries and is persecuted in just about every society of the world).
    Today incest is illegal, but it was common in ancient times (all kings and queens of Egypt married their siblings or mothers): why is it illegal for two siblings to get married and why does incest disqualify a couple from adopting children?
    And, if we expand the definition of marriage to all of these categories, what rights do we give them? For example, to me it looks much more natural for a group of two men and three women to raise children (as it was in most ancestral societies) than for a same-sex couple to do so (something for which i find no precedents in ancestral societies). A family without a man or without a woman goes against biology, and probably has psychological consequences for which the entire society will have to pay.
    Prostitution is still illegal in most countries of the world, even though today it is normal for a woman to have sex with many men: why is it illegal to do it for money but legal to do it for fun? A secretary can sleep with her or his boss and a college student can sleep with her or his professor, but a prostitute cannot sleep with a customer for money: why? Paying dinner on a date is ok, and marrying someone for his income is not only ok but advised by your parents. A former prostitute is disqualified from ever adopting children, wbereas a woman or man who has had many sexual partners is considered perfectly fit to adopt children: why?
    Circumcision (which is, ultimately, a form of genital mutilation) is not only legal in the USA, but routinely performed in all hospitals.
    Bottom line: there are many more unnatural and unreasonable laws today than the laws against homosexual marriage: why focus only on homosexual marriage and leave all the other restrictions on sex and marriage in place?
    The argument that i keep hearing is that there are many same-sex couples who are better parents than straight couples. I have no problem believing it (and personally know two of them). But what makes you think that a family with two men and three women wouldn't be good parents of their children? Or that a 15-year old mother married to a 50-year old man wouldn't be a better parent than a 35-year old mother married to a 26-year old man? Or that a prostitute wouldn't be a better mother than a business woman? Or that parents who are siblings are more likely to have abnormal children than women in their 40s? All of these are pure prejudices.
    Personally, i would instead prefer to close this can of worms. For each of these categories, i would instead like to see a list of the *specific* rights that they want (certainly they all want more) and then be asked to vote on each and every additional right that they want. But not on something so vague as "marriage", that is a higher category encompassing a number of specific rights that i am not familiar with.
    To start with, i disagree with same-sex couples having the right to adopt children, until the day that i read enough literature; and the literature i read so far seems to imply that the "traditional" family that has become the norm all over the planet is the result of a "natural selection" of possible forms of family. Before we tamper with it, it's worth pondering the consequences. Most empires collapsed not because of economic or military factors but because they tampered with the structure of family. If there isn't enough literature, then i am opposed to experimenting on children. Homosexual couples can do a lot of good by sending money to poor families and institutions in the third world, instead of "stealing" children that the biological parents would probably not have given them.
    Discriminating over family-related things (such as adoption) against homosexuals sounds more legitimate to me than discriminating against incestuous couples, prostitutes, polygamous/polyandric relationships, etc. Homosexual couples cannot reproduce. Telling me that they are identical to couples who reproduce sounds like denying the obvious. Those are couples in which neither is capable of breast feeding a baby. Neither (if males) has a truly feminine voice (a fundamental part of developing the brain of an infant is listening to sounds) or (if lesbians) neither has a male voice. Particularly the lack of a mother may be dreadful. Read a book on child development and pay attention to the role played by the two sexes. All of that probably disappears if you have only male or only female parents.
    I find it insulting to women that homosexuals frequently compare their political fight to the fight for gender equality: women are *not* a minority. Anyway, we do discriminate based on gender when it comes to physical strength, for example in Olympic sports, that are divided along gender lines. Why? Because women on the average are less strong than men. And we actually give them more rights in restrooms, in hospitalization, in pregnancy laws, in the military draft, etc etc. Even current abortion laws are asymmetric, discriminating against men: when they talk about "choice", they mean "the woman's right to choose", and not the man's right to choose. Whenever there is a biological difference, we condone and actually encourage "gender-based discrimination". (Discriminating women based on intelligence was wrong because women are not less intelligent than men. That was a prejudice not a fact. That most male athletes run faster than most female athletes is a fact, not a prejudice. That women and not men give birth to babies is a fact, not a prejudice).
    We even discriminate based on skin colors when it comes to skin color, e.g. if you need an actor to impersonate Nelson Mandela the most natural choice is to hire an African actor, not a Chinese.
    Is it legitimate to discriminate against homosexual couples when it comes to issues such as adoption? Yes, precisely for the same reason that we "discriminate" against women in tasks in which physical strength is a major issue, precisely for the same reason that we discriminate against Chinese actors in movies about African people.
    Claiming that those who discriminate against homosexuals are like the people who used to discriminate against women is 1. cheap propaganda (using the same logic, right-wing Republicans used to call traitors all those who opposed the war in Iraq) 2. an insult to women (whose discrimination was truly based on prejudice).
    The one thing that seems dangerous to me is the wholesale question "is homosexual marriage ok"? It had the opposite effect on me. Not only am i voting "no" to homosexual marriage if the only choices are yes and no, but i would also like to revisit any other right that they have accrued over the years.
    I am more likely to vote in favor of expanding marriage to more than two people (as long as there is at least one female and one male).
    What is missing on this issue is an honest debate because homosexuals have been able to create a terror campaign in liberal states like California, and their opponents have been able to create a terror campaign in conservative states. Living in California, i personally feel oppressed by homosexuals: the moment you speak up against gay marriage in California, you are treated like suspected communists were treated during the witch hunt of the 1950s. It's like criticizing Islam in Saudi Arabia. Gay-rights advocates are proving to be children of the George W Bush era by using the same methods of psychological coercion that he used to go to war against Iraq and pass many dubious laws. When they call "prejudice" the opinion of others, they echo all the great dictators of the past. People who dare oppose gay marriage are branded as fanatics, but it's gay marriage advocates who are behaving like fundamentalists: they are creating a dogmatic religion in favor of gay marriage.
    Another non-trivial element in making me vote against homosexual marriage is that the world is falling apart and we waste energy and time discussing if gays should or should not have the right to get married? It seems like we are tweaking the seats of the Titanic while it is sinking (which could be one of the reasons why it is sinking: we spent too much time around issues that were irrelevant while there was a much bigger problem that nobody really paid attention to).
    The more people will press this issue, the more hostile i will become. Its attempt to repress dissent is too reminiscent of other historical cases of intolerance.
    In fact, for the first time in my life, i am worried about the fact that children might be "brainwashed" in schools throughout the country to "tolerate" homosexuality ("tolerate" as in "hail"), which may turn out to be an encouragement to 1. uncritically approve gay marriage, and 2. become gay yourself. One thing is to teach that you should not be hostile to a homosexual individual, but another thing is to teach that you should become gay yourself. I wrote the exact same things when i was a teenager and Christian priests enjoyed the privilege of teaching religion in schools. And i would write the same thing if schools taught that Islam is somewhat special. Teach tolerance, not proselyzation.

    See also this article to set the record straight.

    TM, ®, Copyright © 2008 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (november 2008) What is wrong with the Republican party. The problem is very simple: even when an independent voter agrees with an issue supported by the Republican Party, that voter may not want to associate with the party's core base. It's a bit like voting for the Nazist Party in Germany: even when they say something that you agree with, you don't want to associate yourself with them. The Republican base is made of Christian fundamentalists (who are not much better than their Islamic counterparts and who still go around denying evolution and believing the letter of their holy scriptures), gun-loving fascists (represented by the largest terrorist organization in the world, the NRA), foreign-policy hawks (who routinely insult even allies if they disagree with them), corrupt business men (who have enjoyed unlimited power to influence politics and steal money, to a degree that few African or Latin American countries have ever witnessed), and, generally speaking, a whole bunch of mean-spirited witch-hunting people (best represented by the name-calling hatred-breeding commentators on Fox News, who spend all the time calling bashing liberals in order to deflect attention from the problems caused by conservatives).
    The net result of this federation of (religious, economic, ideological) extremists is that the Republican Party tends to generate an amazing number of amazingly incompetent candidates for just about every job, from president down to mayor of small Alaskan towns. Republicans are drowning in just too much bullshit.
    Their anti-intellectual stance (best represented by the Fox News commentators Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity and by the radio commentator Rush Limbaugh) is truly what has caused the financial crisis and the war in Iraq. A more sensible party would have appointed more competent people to the jobs, instead of relying mostly on hysteria and cronyism (in a way mostly reminiscent of the very Islamic terrorists that attacked the USA in 2001).
    The electoral campaign of 2008 was telling: the Republican Party spent most of the time bashing the opponents, insinuating that they were traitors, using smear tactics, distorting the record. This has become a party of purely negative politics. What they have done has turned into a disaster, so now they simply assault anyone who wants to do something different.

    The choice of Sarah Palin as vice-presidential candidate was, in that sense, the proverbial nail in the coffin: she represented everything that made independents dissociate from the Republican Party. (See Sarah Palin, the typical bad choice).
    Fewer and fewer people want to be associated with this party. Even some of their own senators defected to the Obama camp, and just about nobody is proud of the outgoing Republican president. The ultranationalist rhetoric of Fox News and Rush Limbaugh is slowly burying the once glorious G.O.P.

    TM, ®, Copyright © 2008 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (november 2008) Why i didn't endorse either candidate. I did not endorse either candidate of the major parties nor the candidates of the minor parties. Every voter who supports a tax-cutting politician in this day and age is fundamentally either a suicidal maniac or an enemy agent bent on destroying the USA. Every voter who supports a politician who wants to save financial institutions that paid millions to their executives when they were making the very bad decisions that got those institutions in debt is fundamentally either a masochist or, again, an enemy agent bent on destroying the USA.
    Unfortunately, there is no candidate for president who promises to increase taxes and let bad companies collapse.
    The USA has to stop borrowing money and has to stop rewarding idiots and crooks. The USA has to stop spending above its means. The USA has to stop being a country of debtors. The USA has to stop protecting big business at all costs.
    We need to increase taxes to pay off the national debt and the last thing we can afford to do is to rescue idiots and crooks. Let's tax them more instead.
    On the other key issues there is no difference between the two main candidates. They both favor the current policy in Afghanistan that keeps killing civilians (and therefore increasing the number of terrorists). See Losing in Afghanistan, after losing in Iraq. Both defend Georgia against Russia, a ridiculous stance that has simply created a big enemy at the worst possible time. See The West is wrong on Russia.
    (See also What you didn't hear at the debate).
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2008 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (october 2008) The 13 most feared words in the English language: "It is an old Ronald Reagan idea and it is still around today". The USA has been haunted for two decades by really bad ideas that Ronald Reagan had in the 1980s.
    It was under Reagan's watch that the USA supported a mad Arab dictator, Saddam Hussein, when the said madman ventured in his first invasion of a neighboring country (the invasion of Iran in 1980).
    It was under Reagan's watch that the USA supported international Islamic fighters in Afghanistan (apparently fighting the Soviet invasion of the country but in reality, as we learned later, fighting a global jihad against the "infidels"), namely a young Osama bin Laden.
    It was under Reagan's watch that the USA granted amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants, with the promise that this would put an end to illegal immigration (it actually encouraged more of it).
    It was under Reagan's watch that the USA enacted a giant tax cut that created a huge wealth gap (one of the largest in the world) between an aristocracy of a few rich people and the middle class. That inequality has remained Reagan's most enduring social legacy.
    It was under Reagan's watch that the USA became the world's bigger debtor, igniting a spiral of both trade and budget deficits. "Discretionary spending" peaked at 10% of GDP in 1983, a record never matched again (as of 2014). Last but not least, Reagan signed the largest tax increase in the history of the USA.
    It was Reagan who, in october 1982, signed the Garn-St. Germain Depository Institutions Act that ended restrictions on mortgage lending and started the mortgage boom that would lead to the depression of 2008 (by his own admission, "This bill is the most important legislation for financial institutions in the last 50 years").
    Reagan supported Saddam Hussein when he invaded its neighbors promising that this would bring peace to the Middle East. Reagan trained Islamic fighters in Afghanistan, promising that this would bring peace to the world. Reagan gave amnesty to illegal immigrants, promising this would stop illegal immigration. Reagan created a huge budget deficit and cut taxes, promising that this would balance the budget. Reagan pushed free trade promising that this would boost USA production.
    The results? Saddam Hussein went on to become the main threat to peace, the Islamic fighters went on to carry out the 2001 terrorist attacks on the USA, illegal immigration boomed, the budget deficit is bigger than ever, and the USA has become the world's biggest debtor.
    Reagan sold weapons to Iran in exchange for hostages, setting a terrible precedent for dealing with terrorists. Reagan's support of Saddam Hussein when Saddam invaded Iran also elevated the Republican Guard of Iran to a cult status that over the years brought to power the anti-USA regime of Khamenei and Ahmadinejad.
    Reagan bombed the Libyan capital of Tripoli killing a number of civilians in the attempt to assassinate the leader of Libya (in 2008 the USA eventually paid compensation for the victims of the attack).
    Another great Reagan invention was terrorism against airplanes. In 1988 a missile shot from a USA warship downed an Iranian civilian plane and killed all 290 passengers aboard. In retaliation Iran funded the Libyan plan to blow up the Pan Am flight over Britain. That started the trend of blowing up civilian planes that culminated with the 2001 terrorist attacks by Al Qaeda.
    Reagan's shameful "cut and run" in Lebanon inspired Osama bin Laden to attack the USA because it revealed the USA's vulnerable spot.
    Last but not least, Reagan launched a wave of "deregulation" that eventually led to the shadowy deals on Wall Street that eventually caused the great financial depression of october 2008. Deregulation led to a boom in financial speculation. This caused a distortion of the economy (as much as a government subsidy would cause) and even of education, as so many of the brightest kids rushed to study finance instead of science or engineering.
    Reagan created all the major problems that are haunting the USA in the new century: Iraq, Al Qaeda, illigal immigration, budget deficit, trade deficit and financial crisis.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2008 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (october 2008) What you didn't hear at the debate between Obama and McCain. It is scary how the two candidates completely agree on issues that are at best controversial and, at worst, the very cause of the problems that the USA is facing. It is amazing how both completely ignore the opinion of countless experts in these fields, particularly in foreign policy.
    • The financial bailout. Both candidates voted in favor of the bailout plan. It is a bailout of Wall Street, no matter how they spin it. (See Cash for trash ). There were many other options. If the goal was to rescue the housing market, they could have given that money directly to the homeowners who are struggling to meet mortgage payments: it would have cost less and it would have solved the problem at the source. If the goal was to guarantee that consumers can borrow money for buying cars and homes and that businesses can borrow money for paying goods and salaries, the government could have simply lent that money directly to them instead of hoping that banks would kindly do that.
    • The banking system. Both candidates are fanatically defending the capitalist system that is in place in the USA, despite its utter failure. Both are willing to spend immense amounts of money to rescue a system that does not work (at best, it created one bubble after the other), and to let that sector cause a worldwide recession, rather than simply dispose of its corpse. Why do we need the banking system at all? The banking system is fundamentally a parasite that thrives on the real economy, on both ordinary working citizens and businesses. The banking system borrows money from the government at a very low interest rate and then lends money to individuals and businesses at a much higher interest rate. Between your loan and the government there are sometimes dozens of layers of banks, i.e. of middlemen who take a cut. If the banking system refuses to do its job, then let it rot. They were just parasites. Now they are parasites who are dying, and politicians want to save them. Why save the virus that gave us the flue? The politicians are determined to using our money to keep in place an infrastructure of middlemen who then charge us a premium. If those middlemen go under, good riddance. Let the government use our taxes to lend us our money on our terms, not on the bank's terms.
    • Taxes. Both candidates keep promising no new taxes (at least not on 95% of the population), no matter how many new (expensive) programs they introduce. This is exactly the way the USA got into this crisis: by overspending while cutting taxes. Politicians claim that maintaining USA troops all over the world is essential to the security of the USA. Politicians (at last) believe that the USA needs to invest in order to achieve energy independence. Politicians tell USA taxpayers that the bailout plan is essential to save the USA from a great depression. These all sound like patriotic issues. But then both candidates behave as if paying taxes was an unpatriotic duty. Who in heaven is supposed to pay for the troops, for the bailout, for the energy independence? Is the USA so used to borrow money from other countries that the real (implicit) plan here is that the USA will pay for its troops, its bailout and all the rest by borrowing even more money from the Arab countries and the Far East, thereby further increasing its foreign debt? As Thomas Friedman asked: "Do you think borrowing money from China is more patriotic than raising it in taxes from Americans?" (by "Americans" he meant "USA citizens")
    • Iraq. Both candidates are focused on the military and political strategy, and don't seem to be interested at all in the lot of ordinary Iraqis. That's how the USA lost that war: by ignoring the plight of ordinary Iraqis. Both candidates use a definitions of "victory" that has nothing to do with what the ordinary Iraqi citizen perceives. The issue is not whether the USA wins or loses (the world at large has already decided that issue). The issue is what the public opinion in the Islamic world thinks of the USA, because that's what will determine whether the USA has to fight many more wars in the Islamic world or not. And that depends on what will happen to the ordinary Iraqi, not to its government, its borders or its army. Over the last eight years, USA policies have greatly diminished its standing throughout the Islamic world, thereby encouraging thousands of Muslims to fight the USA wherever and however they can. The issue is how to regain the trust of the Islamic world and how to convince millions of radical Muslims to invest in education instead of bombs. The way to do it is to raise the standard of living in Iraq and to raise the moral standards of the occupation (that so far has mostly been famous for corruption, torture and illegal detention, not to mention inexistent weapons of mass destruction). The USA has spent billions in Iraq, but ordinary Iraqis are still waiting for real reconstruction (as in "water, electricity and jobs"). That is how you win a war.
    • Afghanistan. Both candidates want to send more troops to fight the Taliban. Both seem bent on repeating the mistakes the USA committed in Iraq, by creating a bigger war instead of creating a bigger economy. A larger USA military occupation will also generate more hard feelings around the Islamic world, just like it did in Iraq. The USA has invested very little in reconstructing the essential infrastructure of roads, schools and hospitals, and too much in killing too many innocents. Every bomb or missile that kills a child or a woman is creating many new "terrorists", which is the name that the USA gives to relatives and friends who decide to avenge the dead. (See Losing in Afghanistan, after losing in Iraq). On the other hand, there is virtually no incentive for USA businesses to help the Afghan economy the way they help, for example, the Chinese and Indian economies. How many jobs have USA companies created in China? How many in Afghanistan? Why the preference for China, which is an unfriendly regime, instead of Afghanistan, which is a regime installed by the USA with the money of USA taxpayers?
    • Georgia and Russia. Both candidates think that Georgia is a democracy threatened by an evil Russia, and that its separatist republics should be forced to accept the rule of Georgia. Georgia is not the blooming democracy that the candidates describe, but a one-party system with an unpopular president. Russia did not invade Georgia proper but regions that do not want to be ruled by Georgia, the same way the USA protected Kosovo that did not want to be ruled by Serbia. (See The mess the West got into and The West is wrong on Russia). It is the USA that is provoking Russia (by installing missiles at its borders and by drawing more and more Russian neighbors into NATO and by applying double standards in Serbia and in Georgia) and not Russia (that has not installed missiles in the Americas and has not invited USA neighbors into its alliances and has not applied double standards). Antagonizing Russia is simply creating one more colossal problem at a time when the USA should minimize the number problems. It is simply ridiculous that the ship is sinking and the commanders are arguing about who to attack next, and they picked on just about the strongest bully around, and on the basis of a logic that is a contradiction in terms.
    • Osama bin Laden. It is dubious (at best) if Osama was ever so important as the USA claimed. It is even more dubious whether he now wields any power on anyone. Both candidates want to violate Pakistani sovereignity to kill him. Both candidates are willing to start another war in order to kill one individual just because that individual hates the USA. There are millions of people around the world who hate the USA: is the USA going to invade all of the countries where they live? Is the average USA citizen really so keen on starting another war just to kill one individual? The USA's determination to kill Osama bin Laden has turned him into a legendary hero from Morocco to Indonesia, and has turned Bush into the ultimate scoundrel. In a free election held throughout the Islamic world, Osama bin Laden would easily beat George W Bush. If the USA kills Osama bin Laden, it would simply create a new martyr for the Islamic world.
    • Death penalty. Not only is the USA one of the few democratic countries that still has the death penalty, but the USA kills its inmates at a rate that compares with the worst dictatorships in the world (a few years ago it ranked third in the world in executions after China and Iran). This is not a country that can preach against terrorism and "rogue states".
    • Health care. Both candidates keep defending their health care plans and avoid telling the truth: that the country is broke and may not even have money to pay for the existing Medicare and Social Security.
    • Education and immigration. Both are broke. The system is the most expensive on Earth, but it is producing fewer and fewer brains that can compete in the global system. At the same time, a convoluted immigration system is motivating thousands of foreign-born brains to move out. The USA became the world's superpower thanks to a better educational system and to its power to attract foreign brains.
    • Guns. Both candidates avoid talking about the number-one killer in the USA: not Osama bin Laden, not North Korea, not Iran, but guns. Both are too afraid of the NRA (National Rifle Association), a sinister organization whose influence has cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of USA citizens.
    • Public transportation. The USA lacks the king of public transportation system that even developed countries offer to their citizens. This is still a country that depends on airplanes to travel from coast to coast, and is therefore still as vulnerable as it was in 2001. This is a country that still depends on individual cars to travel between bit cities in the Midwest and West, making its wealth highly vulnerable to oil prices.
    • Pollution. The USA is one of the two greatest polluters in the world (the other one is China). If half of the apocalyptic prophecies on climate change are true, the USA is more dangerous to the planet than all terrorists and rogue states combined. Again, hardly in a position to preach the world.
    • Pentagon. The USA spends several times more in military projects than Russia and China combined. This has allowed Russia and China to grow their civilian economies faster than the USA, while the USA was getting more and more indebted to finance its war economy.
    • Corruption. This is the mother of all problems, the very reason why so many of the problems are not being solved, but instead turned into ever bigger problems. The number-one problem in Washington is the unprecedented degree of corruption that is not only robbing the citizens of their taxes but also enacting dangerous laws not for the good of the country but for the good of the politicians. Even during the worst economic crisis in 80 years, not one politician has resigned to take responsibility of this mess. All told, the regimes of North Korea, Iran and Cuba suddenly don't look so bad compared with Washington. And regimes such as Russia's and China's look even better. It is odd that the two candidates for president are both senators: Congress is the institution that has the lowest approval rating in the USA. Could it be that it is time for a Putin-style half-dictator to clean up the political and economic mess, sending most of these Washington politicians and Wall Street executives where they belong, i.e. jail?
    Both candidates failed to address these issues because both candidates seem to represent the same vision, and that vision is actually the one created over the last eight years by the very man they criticize: George W Bush. Both Barack Obama and John McCain are failing to realize that they both belong to the same party, the party founded by George W Bush. They are both a product of the incompetence and corruption of the Bush years.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2008 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (october 2008) "Fix News" doesn't get it. Fox News (which i started calling "Fix News" and which is fundamentally the Republican Party's equivalent of Al Jazeera) (and millions of Arab viewers may be feeling that i'm insulting Al Jazeera) has just missed another opportunity to help its favorite John McCain by shutting up. Sean Hannity, one of the most visceral fascists in the USA (a distinguished member of what i called "the The Great American Fascist Alliance"), orchestrated a whole program titled "Obama and Friends: A History of Radicalism" that focused on Obama's alleged friendship with radical politicians of the Left (described as "terrorists" whereas radical politicians of the Right such as Hannity himself are, obviously, not "terrorists" in Fox News' eyes). The program is one hour of Soviet-style propaganda in which the most blatant lies and ridiculous conspiracy theories are piled up with no evidence, based on the opinions of extremely biased individuals, starting with Hannity himself.
    That show was a terrifying metaphor for the USA of today, the USA of the financial crisis. Watch that show, and you'll know exactly how the USA has ended where it has ended.
    Fox News missed the point that the vast majority of USA citizens is fed up precisely with this attitude of lying and denial. That majority is longing for a return to decency, honesty and good manners. Fox News represents that minority of USA citizens that has destroyed that tradition. It represents the gun-loving punks, the religious fundamentalists and the financial terrorists who have undermined the USA society from the bottom, and who have managed to conquer Washington during the early 2000s. This USA version of the Taliban and of Al Qaeda has caused much more damage than Osama bin Laden or Saddam Hussein ever dreamed of.
    That majority wants an end to the divisive politics that was invented by Fox News and their friends. They want a return to civilized discussions, to respect and to honor. We have now a massive financial crisis that could destroy the USA as it has known for two centuries; and not a single official has resigned. Not Bush (the main culprit), not Cheney (his grey eminence), not Paulson (the man in charge of the economy), not the various members of Congress (starting with John McCain) who pushed deregulation after deregulation. Fox News would do better by focusing on what really angers the public: that we are being duped again by the same people. The last thing that worries us is who Obama had dinner with twenty years ago. What truly worries us is that despicable people like Hannity (O'Reilly, Limbaugh, etc) are still around, and trying to poison us again.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2008 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (september 2008) The latest joke from Washington: a Jewish holiday? In the middle of the most serious crisis of the last century, the USA Congress shut its doors because several lawmakers are celebrating some kind of Jewish holiday. In other words, because of some superstition held by a tiny minority of the human population, Congress has decided that the USA economy can go bankrupt. Maybe the USA should thank the religious fanatics who created that superstition among that religious group, because Congress may have caused more damage than anything else; but it is appalling that at a moment of great crisis the USA government is all but shut down because of a Jewish holiday. What will Congress come up with next to shock and offend its voters?
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2008 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (september 2008) Cash for trash is the expression that experts are using to define the latest Bush idea to rescue the private sector with taxpayers' money. The idea is to give Paulson quasi-dictatorial powers in spending $700 billion of taxpayers' money to rescue struggling financial institutions, the largest bailout of the private sector by any government in history (socialist or otherwise). The situation fits the usual pattern of "scare tactic" that Bush has used since the beginning of his presidency: there is an emergency and, if you don't give me absolute power right now without delay and without questioning, you will be doomed.
    First of all, Paulson was appointed by George W Bush, and the USA should have learned how competent and honest Bush's cronies tend to be. That alone is a good reason not to trust anything he wants to do, and, last of all, give him the quasi-dictatorial powers he demands. In fact, Paulson and his boss Bush spent one year repeating that the economy was fundamentally sound and that the crisis was "contained". Now they come out and tell us that the crisis is so bad that there is no time to argue about details and we need to immediately grant Paulson quasi-dictatorial powers to fix the crisis. But isn't Paulson the same guy who predicted there would be no crisis? And isn't Paulson a Wall Street animal himself, raised and trained by the same companies that have made such bad decisions? Aren't the beneficiaries of his plan precisely his former coworkers and longstanding friends? Why in heaven should we trust someone who was so blind, who is part of the same mafia he wants to rescue, and who has been appointed not by experts but by a president who has repeatedly appointed incompetent people to manage crises (whether in Iraq or in New Orleans)? Just like in the past, they want no oversight by anyone, just the power to act according to their good sense.
    Secondly, there is virtually no economist who thinks that his plan is going to work for sure. At best, economists agree that a market economy needs "a market liquidity provider of last resort" (an expression coined by Steven Schwarcz of Duke Univ), and it would have been nice if someone in the government had figured this out before the crisis happened, not after it happened. In fact, opinions vary from "it may work" to "it's better than nothing", but hardly anyone is willing to bet her or his salary on Paulson's plan.
    They all agree, though, that Paulson's rescue plan will lead to higher inflation and a further decline of the USA dollar (at least against Far Eastern currencies).
    One thing is becoming ever more clear: if you are one of the few USA citizens who actually saved money (instead of borrowing above your means) and planned for retirement, you made a huge mistake. Your savings will be wiped out very soon by inflation, and will probably be taxed to pay for the follies of those who did not save.
    Paulson's logic is that honest and competent USA citizens who did not spend above their means are supposed to rescue the others because otherwise the whole economy will enter a depression and everybody would be hurt. Paulson is asking the good people to sacrifice in order to save the bad people, so that the mistakes of the bad people do not come back to hurt the good people. However, this twisted plan de facto rewards the bad people (the idiots and the crooks) and keeps them afloat (in fact, relatively speaking, they will be better off after this plan is enacted, whereas the good people will be worse off, so the bad people will have "gained" at the expense of the good ones). The society that Paulson's plan ends up creating is not a strong and healthy society.
    In fact, Paulson's original plan borders on a literal gift of money from taxpayers to Wall Street companies, as it does not envision any way that taxpayers would make money if those Wall Street companies return to profit.
    The fundamental problems with Paulson's plan are simple: 1. Paulson's plan will cause massive inflation and a collapse of the dollar, and it's not clear how this is any better than a financial meltdown; 2. Paulson's plan rewards idiots and crooks, while punishing the competent and the honest, a lesson that won't be lost on future generations; 3. Paulson's plan is yet another case of George W Bush denying that there is a problem until the problem becomes a catastrophe, and then appointing one of his cronies with quasi-dictatorial powers to solve it, and we know how well this has worked in the past.
    This is the panicked solution proposed by an incompetent administration (that one more time did not realize there was a serious problem) to an irresponsible Congress (that has, time and again, been concerned more with profiting from the administration's bad ideas than with blocking them).
    And what an example it sets for the rest of the world. The USA has been preaching (with force) to the rest of the world that governments must not intervene to save bad companies and bad banks, because this would keep alive the weakest species of their economies. In the past the USA (through the IMF and the World Bank) has forced developing contries in Latin America, Africa and Asia (even Japan itself) to make their banking system pay for its mistakes. The USA has traditionally criticized the European governments for their passion in saving bad companies and nationalizing banks. Right-wing politicians mock France and the likes for their massive aid to the private sector when the private sector struggles. Now that a similar problem is happening in the USA, the president has suddenly become an ardent socialist. embraced Hugo Chavez's ideology and treated the USA like a banana republic bent on nationalizing its banking system. In 1992 Japan was undergoing a similar banking crisis. They created the "Cooperative Credit Purchasing Corporation", which was pretty much the same as the bailout plan proposed by Paulson. As right-wing USA politicians and right-wing tv commentators were all too eager to point out, it did not work: Japan's large insolvent banks kept teetering on the brink of the abyss for a decade, with the government trying to salvage them at all costs at a huge cost to the country's economy, until it was finally decided to let them fail in an orderly way. Ironically, in 2008 Japan's financial system has fully recovered and is now in a much better position than the USA financial system.
    As the USA never tired of explaining to the rest of the world, government intervention distorts the markets. When the first banks failed, they were bought by other banks. The private sector found opportunities and picked them up. There is a value for anything. Just let the market decide what that value is. Now that the government has promised to (basically) overpay any bank that is in trouble, those troubled banks have no motivation to look for a buyer, because a private buyer would only pay the market value, not the inflated value that the government is likely to accept. Government intervention is keeping the private sector from buying up these troubled banks and turning them upside down. The USA spent decades explaining this to the Japanese and the Europeans.
    The USA used to lecture countries about the dangers of intervention: if it works, it only prolongs the agony; if it doesn't work, it creates more panic. Paulson didn't tell us what is "Plan B": if this bailout doesn't work (as probably won't), what next? The markets will panic even more, and the government will have even less money to help. What next? Will Paulson propose to raid the social security fund in order to get more money to his friends on Wall Street? We've seen that movie so many times in so many developed countries that the USA ridiculed.
    It feels like we have a choice. We can apply Darwinian selection to the USA, and see who comes out alive and stronger from this crisis (and this is precisely what the USA has been preaching to the other countries when they got into similar problems: let the bad apples rot, even at the cost of causing an economic depression). Or, if we prevent Darwinian selection and proceed to rescue the weak in the USA, we will implicitly apply Darwinian selection to the world, and this weakened USA system is then likely to lose against other countries (notably the Far Eastern ones). That the USA has to pay for its mistakes is unavoidable. Now the question is whether, at the end of this process, the USA will still be the world's economic superpower, one of the many powers, not a power at all, or even a poor country.
    The government should stay out of it (except to offer some kind of relief to foreclosing homeowners in poor communities, but no more than a few billion dollars overall). The Federal Reserve should stick to its business: make sure that inflation is under control. And let the private sector make the deals that it wants to make.
    Last but not least, we should find a way to urgently fire this president and his whole administration before it causes more damage in the last three months of its tenure.
    Yes, it is an urgent matter that requires urgent measures. But the people of the USA should tell their elected officials in Congress to refuse to proceed until this administration resigns en masse. The urgent step to take is to depose this regime. Once they resign, the people of the USA through their Congress will find a solution. But no reasonable, effective and honest solution will be found for as long as the ultimate lever of power is in the hands of this reckless, incompetent and dishonest administration.
    They used to hang, shoot or guillotine leaders like these. The ones who had a bit of dignity would commit suicide first. Alas, these days dignity and honor are even harder to find than competence.

    P.S. In the meantime, unnoticed by most USA taxpayers, Congress is about to pass a $630 billion bill that is totally unrelated. Just a bunch of ordinary expenses, with hundreds of earmarks (Sarah Palin's Alaska gets the lion's share of the earmarks), including $25 billion of subsidies to USA auto makers (precisely the kind of subsidy that the USA has always criticized in Japan, France, etc) and assorted gifts to the oil companies. All paid with your taxes.

    P.P.S. When the stock market crashed on September 29, the Federal Bank intervened on world markets pouring a total of $630 billion to rescue foreign banks. Congress had just killed a $700 billion plan to bail out USA banks, but Paulson used the powers he already has to rescue foreign banks for an amount that was very similar in size.

    P.P.P.S. The bill was initially killed by the opposition of House Republicans, who stood up for their sacred principles, only to be rescued two days later (with virtually no further discussion) simply by buying the votes of the same House Republicans and of some Democracts with "pork barrel" spending, the living symbol of USA corruption.

    P.P.P.P.S. Two weeks later the Nobel Prize in Economics, Paul Krugman, wrote (see article) that Paulson's plan was senseless and probably due to the fact that, in typical Bush-Cheney fashion, "knowledgeable professionals have been driven out" of the government to make room for incompetent cronies.

    Further reading:

    TM, ®, Copyright © 2008 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (september 2008) Who caused the financial meltdown. Old Washington boys like John McCain are experts mainly at one thing: the blame game. Senators and House representatives do precious little for the country, but they are very good at blaming someone else for the mess they created. John McCain what stuff he is made of when he exclaimed "If I were president today I would fire him", referring to the president of the SEC that is supposed to regulate the financial markets. The Wall Street Journal itself (not exactly a liberal newspaper) blasted McCain for trying to find a scapegoat in a man who had absolutely no power to avert the financial disaster. The reason that man had absolutely no power is quite simple: John McCain's party took away that power from him. In fact, it was McCain's good friend Phil Gramm (now his closest economic adviser) who aggressively pushed legislation through Congress to free the hands of the mortgage industry. Gramm famously squeezed into the appropriations bill of 2000 a 262-page provision on the very last day before Congress adjourned for the Christmas holidays. That amendment basically forbids federal agencies to regulate risky mortgages. More legislation came later, always enthusiastically sponsored by senator Gramm, that further facilitated the kind of speculation that led to the current financial disaster. McCain, by the way, voted in favor of all those bills. He cannot point to a single bill that he opposed or to a single instance in which he warned against a mortgage-related measure because... he never did.
    Incidentally, antother great Gramm invention was the "Enron loophole," that allowed Enron's crooks to get rich and caused the eventual collapse of the company. What a coincidence that Gramm's wife Wendy was for several years a member of the Enron board of directors (being profusely paid for the few times that she showed up at meetings) and what a coincidence that Enron's CEO Ken Lay chaired Gramm's 1992 re-election campaign. Talk about corruption in Washington. All of this was well known to fellow senator and close friend John McCain.
    There are certainly many politicians who are to blame for the financial crisis that will cost taxpayers a trillion dollars. The last thing the USA needs is for those very politicians and their financial adviser to decide what the USA should do next.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2008 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (september 2008) A rebuttal of the conservative worldview. (Note: i will write a rebuttal of the liberal worldview too). Conservatives in the USA have a vision of the world that is wildly inaccurate. The media they trust, from Rush Limbaugh to Fox News (which i have renamed "Fix News"), present "facts" that are wildly out of touch with reality. Here is a short list of typical email discussions with conservative readers of my website:
    • Guns are needed to defend ourselves against higher crime rates than in other countries. The crime rate in the USA is actually lower than in most Western countries, or comparable. USA murder rates, on the other hand, are colossal by any standards. The difference is not in thefts, vandalism, rape, etc: the difference between the USA and the rest of the developed world is huge only when it comes to murders.
    • Crime is rampant because the USA is too lenient towards criminals The USA has the highest percentage of population in jail in the entire world, including totalitarian regimes: almost 10%. The USA prison system holds 2.3 million people or about 25% of all the world's prisoners, about 700,000 more prisoners than China. (Source: the U.S. Justice Department Report of 2007). One has to go back to Stalin's Soviet Union to find an example of a country that had jailed so many of its citizens. The USA is also the only Western country that still administers the death penalty. The USA is also one of the few developed countries that still has life sentences. All in all, the USA has certainly the most ferocious punishment system outside of a few barbaric regimes (Saudi Arabia and the likes).
    • The lowest crime rates are in places where everybody is armed The highest murder rate is in Iraq, where al citizens are armed, followed by countries like the USA that have a lot of armed citizens. The lowest murder rates are in places like Austria and Japan, where no citizen is armed.
    • The second amendment grants citizens the right to bear arms The second amendment talks about the arms that were available in the 18th century. They did not know what weapons would be available two centuries later. For example, even the craziest gun lover would probably refrain from allowing all citizens to bear nuclear weapons.
    • The USA health care system is better than the socialized systems of Canada and Europe The USA has a a system in which doctors, hospitals, medicine manufacturers and insurance companies make money if you get chronically sick. The whole system has a vested interest in making you chronically sick. Guess which country has the highest number of people who are chronically sick? The USA Institute of Medicine's report "Preventing Medication Errors" points out: "Medication errors are harming at least 1.5 million people every year." Either everybody in the USA health system is incompetent, or they are pressured to commit those "mistakes" by a system that makes them rich only if they commit those mistakes. Osama bin Laden must be jealous: the USA health care system is not only the most expensive in the world, but it is also harming more USA citizens than he ever dreamed of!
    • Health care is a form of socialism Technically speaking, "socialism" is a society in which the workers own the means of production. An example of socialism is a start-up company that is owned by its founders, or United Airlines that is owned by its employees. Socialism has nothing to do with universal health care or social security. Singapore has one of the best universal health care systems. Nobody would call it "socialist": it is one of the most capitalistic places in the world. On the other hand, when Reagan and the Bushes subsidized the oil business and car manufacturers, they used a socialist logic.
    • Immigration is too easy in the USA The USA used to be the easiest country to emigrate to (legally or illegally). Now it has become the most difficult to emigrate legally to. Coincidentally or not, at the same time the USA has gone from being the most innovative country in the world to being just one of the most innovatives. I wonder how many Einsteins we are turning back every year, who will go and work for another country. (On the other hand, we let in millions of the illegal immigrants, whom big corporations love to hire). The USA is a country (unlike Canada and Singapore) that does not hand out a "green card" to an individual, but only to a company. It's the company that applies for a green card. This is clearly senseless: in theory one cannot emigrate to the USA until s/he has found a job, but how can s/he find a job if it's illegal to look for a job as a tourist? This system is draining the USA of its traditional supply of brains. Not only are the bad economy and the weak dollar (and the cuts in research funding) convincing many USA brains to emigrate to Europe, but the green-card nightmare is convincing European and Asian brains to stay home. Look at the list of great inventions that made the USA what it is. Check where the inventors were born. Relatively few were born in the USA. Today we moved to the opposite scenario in which we are discouraging foreign inventors from emigrating to the USA. The reason that all those brains came to the USA is very simple: the USA was the easiest country to emigrate to. Most countries had very tough immigration laws (similar to the ones that the USA has now). The USA was one of the few that welcomed pretty much anybody. (Argentina, for example, did welcome everybody but only if they were Catholic). Today the USA has a system that de facto lets in only illegal immigrants and they are mostly Mexican (a fact that will have devastating demographic effects).
    • Al Qaeda is out to kill USA citizens Maybe (although many Al Qaeda members have said the opposite and, in fact, have killed more of their brethren than USA citizens). But guns are killing a lot more USA citizens than Al Qaeda. The NRA (that defends the right of people to kill USA citizens) is therefore the largest terrorist organization in the world. Al Qaeda is a group of amateur criminals who staged the September 11 attacks using paper cutters.
    • Islamic extremists are the cause of terrorism, not the USA While i tend to agree and i even blame the Muslim middle class, this statement is not true in the places where the USA labels "extremists" all who fight against the USA. In both Iraq and Afghanistan many of these "terrorists" are simply friends and relatives of innocents who were killed by USA bombings or shootings. Every time the USA announces that it has killed scores of enemies in a bombing raid, i wonder how many innocent civilians were killed (we usually find out weeks or months later) and how many new "terrorists" have just been created (friends and relatives of those civilians who take up arms against the murderer)
    • Ronald Reagan was a great president Reagan supported Saddam Hussein when he invaded its neighbors promising that this would bring peace to the Middle East. Reagan trained Islamic fighters in Afghanistan, promising that this would bring peace to the world. Reagan gave amnesty to illegal immigrants, promising this would stop illegal immigration. Reagan created a huge budget deficit and cut taxes, promising that this would balance the budget. Reagan pushed free trade promising that this would boost USA production. The results? Saddam Hussein went on to become the main threat to peace, the Islamic fighters went on to carry out the 2001 terrorist attacks on the USA, illegal immigration boomed, the budget deficit is bigger than ever, and the USA has become the world's biggest debtor. Reagan sold weapons to Iran in exchange for hostages. He is materially guilty of high treason for selling weapons to an enemy. Bargaining to rescue hostages would have been bad enough, but he even had to sell weapons to the kidnappers. Reagan bombed the Libyan capital of Tripoli killing a number of civilians in the attempt to assassinate the leader of Libya (in 2008 the USA eventually paid compensation for the victims of the attack). Another great Reagan invention was terrorism against airplanes. In 1988 a missile shot from a USA warship downed an Iranian civilian plane and killed all 290 passengers aboard. In retaliation Iran funded the Libyan plan to blow up the Pan Am flight over Britain. That started the trend of blowing up civilian planes that culminated with the 2001 terrorist attacks by Al Qaeda. Finally, Reagan's shameful "cut and run" in Lebanon inspired Osama bin Laden to attack the USA because it revealed the USA's vulnerable spot. Reagan launched a wave of "deregulation" that eventually led to the shadowy deals on Wall Street that eventually caused the great financial depression of 2008. Reagan created all the major problems that are haunting the USA in the new century: Iraq, Al Qaeda, illigal immigration, budget deficit, trade deficit and financial crisis. The 13 most feared words in the English language: "It is an old Ronald Reagan idea and it is still around today". (See also The specter of a new Reagan).
    • Reagan's supply side economics worked. Yes, it helped make Japan and Western Europe richer and richer while USA citizens got poorer and poorer. It started the most massive transfer of wealth in the history of the world. If one man is responsible for the economic decline of the USA, that's Ronald Reagan.
    • The liberals have always been wrong Those liberals have been consistently right on too many issues, from Reagan's economics (that started the decline of the USA) to the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Jimmy Carter was right when he advocated an energy policy to get rid of the USA's dependency on oil: had USA voters listened to him instead of listening to a Hollywood actor, today the USA would not be hostage to oil producing countries such as Venezuela, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, etc. And the liberals were right to oppose Bush II's "war on terror": Iraq turned out to be a nightmare (with no weapons of mass destruction and no links to Osama bin Laden) and Afghanistan is far from stabilized.
    • The USA declined because of the liberals The Republicans have been in power for most of the last four decades.
    • Liberals are opposed to Christianity By today's standards, Jesus was a liberal. Guns, death penalty and private medicine are obviously as un-Christian as it gets. Conservatives should convert to Islam and move to Saudi Arabia: they might find a system more suitable to their taste. The Saudis too think that Reagan was a great president. And there no liberals over there, guaranteed.
    • The mainstream media in the USA are very liberal A poll taken worldwide would show that the vast majority of people in the world thinks the opposite. CNN, CBS, ABC (not to mention the cheerleaders of Fox News) have all behaved like puppets of the right wing. (Yes, unfortunately, foreigners do watch CNN and the likes around the world, and are painfully aware of the right-wing bias of the USA media). The number-one cable news is Fox News. The most popular radio talk show is by far Rush Limbaugh's. The most powerful empire of newspapers and magazines is Rupert Murdoch's. Conservatives (not liberals) dominate both the airwaves and the press.
      What conservatives really mean when they accuse the media of being "liberal" is something else, and something truly scary. They accuse of being "liberal" anyone who tells the truth. This includes: any journalist who suggested that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq; any journalist who dared say that very few Iraqis flooded the streets to welcome the USA troops; any journalist who reported that Baghdad was being looted; any journalist who reported that thousands of Iraqis were joining the armed resistance against USA troops: any journalist who reminds the public that Osama bin Laden is still free; any journalist who reminds the public that Al Qaeda now has many more militants and supporters around the world than in 2001; any journalist who argued the economy was in bad shape; and so forth and so forth. Every time someone tells the truth on the air or in the press, the conservatives label him "liberal". A favorite target is, for example, the New York Times, which is one of the most accurate and reliable newspapers in the world.
      Alas, it is not the media's fault is a lot of what the Republican party and the Bush administration have done was so awful. Some in the media decided to defend them, no matter what (O'Reilly and Limbaugh openly called "traitor" anyone who dared deny that the invasion of Iraq was a success). Others decided to tell the truth, and conservatives decided that the truth means "being liberal". That label is now become a generic term to identify people who are actually competent in what they do and say. This is a scary turn of event. There used to be posses to lynch blacks. There used to be a "red hunt" for communists. Now the people they hunt and persecute anyone who dares study. Their dream is the medieval state in which the only source of information was the Church, and anyone denying the "facts" of the Church would be burned to the stakes.
    • Big government is bad. Taxes are bad. Big government started under president Ronald Reagan in the 1980s and exploded under Bush II in the 2000s. Both were conservative (Republican) presidents. Bush II even had a Republican congress and senate. It's been the Republicans who created huge government and increased taxes. The last major tax increase was enacted by George Bush I, and the previous one was enacted by Ronald Reagan. In 2008 the Bush administration rescued financial companies with hundreds of billion of tax money.
    • The USA is the best place in the world There is no question that for a long time the USA was the best place on earth. Not because the president says so. Not because i say so. But because the world said so: people moved to the USA from all countries to be in the country that was creating most of the innovations and giving them the highest degree of freedom. During the second half of the 20th century, every country in the world (all the way to Russia and China) ended up imitating the USA because it was obviously the best model. But now an increasing number of USA citizens are moving to Europe and Asia, while pretty much only very poor foreigners are moving to the USA. The euro has doubled in value compared to the dollar. USA citizens can't afford a coffee in Germany or an ice cream in Italy. The average USA citizen is full of credit card debts, doesn't have universal health care and may lose social security in one generation. If you live in the USA, you are 40 times more likely to be murdered than if you live in Austria, and your children rank among the least smart in the western world.
    • The USA still makes the best products in the world The USA has the largest trade deficit ever recorded in history. Apparently very few people around the world want to buy USA products, and USA citizens themselves prefer foreign products over USA products. To start with, the USA is the last country in the world that is still using miles and gallons. The USA used to be famous for being the first to adopt new ideas. It is now too often famous for being "last" not "first" (e.g., the last country that is still using the miles/gallons system, and most of its citizens don't even understand meters and liters).
    • Everyone who thinks that the USA is not a great country should have their citizenship removed Hitler, Mussolini, Mao, Castro, the Soviet Union and many others have tried that: expelling and silencing the critics. The results speak for themselves.
    None of this is irreversible. But it certainly takes a lot of change to bring back the USA that used to be the best place in the world and the place that everybody wanted to imitate. And, first of all, the conservatives have to stop denying the facts and start facing the facts: you will not find the solution to a problem for as long as you deny that there is a problem. The attitude of Republicans in the USA towards the state of the union is very similar to the attitude of Muslims in the Islamic world towards terrorism: flat-out denial of the facts.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2008 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (september 2008) How Bush engineered a new depression. In june 2001 i predicted that George W Bush's economic policies would cause the worst recession in modern times. It is sad to be proven true.
    The USA is now for the first time in modern times facing the reality of collapsing stock markets, collapsing real estate, collapsing banks, collapsing dollar, rising inflation, rising unemployment, record oil prices, etc.
    Home values are falling faster than during the Depression of the 1930s, the dollar has never been so weak in a century, gasoline is more expensive than during the Carter era of the 1970s, and many banks are in trouble. Between 2002 and 2006 (the prime years of the Bush era) the incomes of 99% of us rose by an average of 1% a year (adjusted for inflation), while the top 1% of "them" (the rich) rose by 11% a year. Households led by someone 65 or under made an average of $56,545 last year, which is 3.4% less than in 2000. There are now 45.7 million uninsured Americans, 7.2 million more than in 2000. The number of people living under the poverty line rose by 5.7 million since 2000, to 12.5% of the population. And the number of impoverished children increased to 18%. Unemployment jumped to 6.5% in October, the highest rate since march 1994. More USA workers lost jobs in 2008 than in any year since World War II, with employers laying off 2.6 million people.
    Bush has become so irrelevant that ordinary USA citizens don't even ask for his opinion anymore. He created this mess and nobody believes he knows how to get out of it.
    So far his reaction to the crisis has been the typical, old-fashioned, discredited socialist-European recipe: use taxpayers' money to rescue collapsing companies. The USA government has taken over the two largest mortgage companies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and the largest insurance company, American International Group. Basically, the management of these companies made a lot of money thanks to the free-for-all policies of the Bush administration, and, now that those policies have caused devastation, the taxpayers are going to pay for the rescue. Nobody, of course, is asking Bush's and Cheney's friends to return their hefty salaries and bonuses. Corruption has never been so expensive, anywhere in the world.
    But ultimately what caused the crisis of 2008 is the simple fact that the masses got poorer over the years, while houses got more expensive (as well as health insurance, education, and many other items that the government conveniently ignores when calculating inflation for the masses). The reason why the masses got poorer is simple: the Bush economy has not created good-paying jobs. On the contrary, it has destroyed many. Bush was proud that unemployment started going up after dipping in the first few years of his reign. He forgot to mention that people were taking jobs that were paying less than their previous jobs. Millions of USA families were struggling to make ends meet even though Bush's statistics showed them as happily employed and owning a house. The truth is that they were making very little and had to pay a lot. The financial crisis will be over only when the USA creates good-paying jobs again, and not only for the executives who hang out at Bush's and Cheney's parties.
    The USA economy is on the brink of a collapse. What Al Qaeda was not able to achieve, the USA president and his cohorts have achieved. Know your true enemy.
    The problem is that 51% of USA citizens voted for this man, and supported his policies. Those USA citizens do not realize that they are co-responsible. While Bush's approval rating has collapsed, support for each and every of his policies (including the dreadful tax cut that started it all) has remained around 50%.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2008 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (september 2008) Sarah Palin, the typical bad choice. A neighbor summarized the family of Sarah Palin, McCain's choice for vicepresident (and therefore potential USA president if McCain dies before ending his term) as "a normal American family".
    Sarah Palin is proud of having been hunting moose since a child. She kills living beings that have done nothing wrong to her, just for fun. She is a member of the NRA, whose sponsored gun laws kill more USA citizens than all the world's terrorist organizations combined. She is a staunch anti-abortionist, which means that she, a former beauty queen, got married very young with her high-school sweetheart and has five children, including one that was diagnosed with a serious disease even before being born (and that society will have to support for the rest of his life) and a pregnant unmarried teenage daughter. Her husband was arrested for drinking and driving, a popular sport in the USA heartland that kills hundreds of people every year. Her son was a hockey player who got in trouble for his violent manners and eventually joined the army. Last but not least, she has virtually never traveled abroad: she got her first passport in her fourties. She presumably knows absolutely zero of how the rest of the world looks like. It is indeed a typical American family: the kind that the world despises and fears.
    It is hard to judge her as a politician and an administrator because literally tens of millions of USA citizens have more experience than her. However, it is telling what she did as governor with the windfall from her state's oil revenues: she distributed the surplus to Alaskans. That's what sheiks do in the Middle East: rather than investing in research, education, infrastructure and so forth, the sheiks give each citizen a bit of the surplus and hope none of them will become the next Osama bin Laden. Palin used the same logic: instead of investing in the future of the state, she gave every voter a bone to chew.
    She is a bad American stereotype with the bad mindset of a typical sheik.
    Shame on McCain, who used to be a honest, competent and courageous politician. He is now showing that, as president, he would be as incompetent and reckless as George W Bush.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2008 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (august 2008) The worst product in the world. First of all the good news. The new operating system from Microsoft, Vista, has one useful feature: it automatically rotates the pictures you upload from a camera. Thousands of brilliant software engineers hired by Microsoft achieved this amazing feat. That's about all the good news i have for those who plan to migrate to Vista.
    If you own a computer with the awful XP, you don't lose much by migrating to Vista. Below i explain how to get rid of the most annoying features of Vista.
    If you own an older computer with the much better Windows 95, 98 or ME, then you are not going to like what you will find. Vista is big and slow, but that would be ok. What is truly shocking is how unfriendly and annoying the Microsoft operating system has become. It almost sounds like Microsoft hired psychologists to determine which behavior would cause the maximum degree of stress on computer users.
    Most Vista users complain about:
    • Relentless questions whether you are really sure you want to do what you are trying to do, and relentless requests for authorization.
    • Tiny, unintuitive icons in the taskbar or whatever it's called, notably the ever unpopular "Safely Remove Hardware" (may the man who invented this feature rot in hell for eternity)
    • Grotesquely unfriendly folders and windows
    • The grep-like search function that Microsoft finally introduced after decades has been turned into a useless monster.
    • Folders don't remember their attributes. Vista is dumb enough to open all folders at maximum size, which means that you only see one. You shrink it to see the others, but next time Vista will enlarge it again.
    • There is an automatic "folder indexing" feature that wastes a lot of your time.
    • Vista automatically groups windows on the task bar (at the bottom of the screen). So if you open two browsers, you will see Browsers (2) instead of each browser instance being listed separately. This means that you have to click twice in order to open one of the two (Microsoft engineers *love* to maximize the number of clicks and windows).
    • It is unbelievable what Microsoft has to come up with in order to annoy its customers. Vista's default for uploaded pictures is now the file type .JPG not .jpg. When Microsoft does these things, there's always a sense of disbelief. Why was there any need to change?
    • Creating a shortcut on the desktop for Safely Remove Hardware. Right-click on the desktop, select 'New' and then 'Shortcut'. For the item location, copy and paste the following: RunDll32.exe shell32.dll,Control_RunDLL HotPlug.dll Then click 'Next'. Call the shortcut 'Safely Remove Hardware', and you should be done. If you want to make it look snazzier, right-click the icon, choose 'Properties' and then the 'Shortcut' tab, click on 'Change Icon' and in the 'Look for icons' box type: %windir%\system32\HotPlug.dll
    • To make the folders remember the attributes (in particular the size), http://www.vistax64.com/tutorials/70819-windows-explorer-folder-view-settings.html
    • To restore the XP search instead of the Vista search function is impossible. Vista will not allow you to search for a string within a file, period. You can get fairly close: search for a string that starts with given characters. To change this option My Computer > Organise > Folder and Search Options > Search and choose the below option to search for files containing the text. Always Search Filenames and Contents, Find partial matches, Include subfolders. You might be better off using a standalone search app such as copernic http://www.copernic.com/ or Unix grep (see below)
    • Useful features not present in Vista: download and install Cygwin and you'll have a friendly and powerful environment http://www.cygwin.com/
    • Disabling the indexing feature. Right click the drive in My Computer > Properties > Uncheck `Index this drive for fast searching'.
    • I did not find a way to change the default setting for pictures back to lowercase .jpg (as it was for decades on all computers of the world), but here is a way to change all the file extensions from JPG to jpg. Escape to DOS (Command Prompt), change directory (cd) to the place where your pictures have been uploaded, and type "ren *.JPG *.jpg" You can also use software such as http://febooti-filetweak-case.febooti-software.qarchive.org/ or http://www.supershareware.com/info/lower-case-switcher.html Every stupid idea by Microsoft generates a new sector of the economy!
    • The "add or remove programs" has been renamed "Programs and Features" in the control panel (I wonder how many Microsoft engineers and how many months of research it took to make this dramatic change)
    • The most annoying feature in WinWord has to be the "Paste Special" feature. When we paste text, we normally DON'T want to replicate the formatting, just the text. Thousands of Microsoft engineers worked countless days and nights to provide a product that, instead, does exactly the opposite: pastes the text with the original formatting. If you don't want that, you have to select "Edit - Paste Special - As Unformatted Text (no, it's not a joke). In order to avoid this cumbersome operation, create a macro (Tools -> Macros) called "PasteSpecial" that has just one line after the automatically provided header (" Sub PasteSpecial()") and before the automatically provided ending ("End Sub"): Selection.PasteSpecial DataType:=wdPasteText. Then Save the macro and exit. Then you need to create a shortcut to access this macr. Go to Tools -> Customize -> Keyboard. From the first menu pick "macros". From the list of macros select the macro you just created, PasteSpecial. Then request a New Shortcut Key and enter ALT-V. From now on your shortcut to paste text is ALT-V, not CTRL-V.
    If you bought Vista 64 bit, there may also be many compatibility issues with software that you purchased in the past. If you don't want to spend a fortune in buying new software, stick to Vista 32 bit for the time being. It makes no difference anyway: every time the hardware manufacturers come up with a faster processor, Microsoft comes out with a slower operating system, so the speed remains the same.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2008 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (august 2008) Health care kills. The USA is one of the few developed countries that does not provide for universal health care to its citizens. Doctors, hospitals and insurance companies make money if you get sick. No wonder that a lot of USA citizens are not insured. No wonder that those who are insured often end up being chronically ill: the health care system has a vested economic interest in making them sick for the rest of their lives. This is what the USA's health care system achieves: USA citizens rank last in life expectancy among developed countries (See this article).
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2008 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (july 2008) Karl Rove, crook. A darling of the right-wing media (Fox News and the likes), Karl Rove is one of the most disturbing figures in recent USA history. To his credit (although he may not be remembered kindly for it), Rove architected the two victories by a dumb and incompetent president, an amazing feat. The damage caused to the USA, though, was colossal. It will take a generation or more for the USA to recover from eight years of devastating decisions. Rove worked for the shadowy "vast right-wing conspiracy" that wanted to influence government to pass pro-gun, anti-abortion and pro-oil legislation while cutting taxes for the extremely wealthy. It worked. Rove can be proud of having succeeded in helping the rich get richer, demolishing the middle class, killing thousands of innocents in the streets of USA cities, causing the oil crisis that is greatly reducing the world power of the USA, and turning the clock back on human rights.
    Rove used methods that clearly violate the spirit (if not the letter) of the USA constitution. The most offensive tactic that he used was to persecute anyone (notably judges) who displayed even the slightest sympathy for liberal ideas. People were hired and fired from their jobs based only on their ideological sympathies. People were sent to jail based on how dangerous they were for the supremacy of the Republican Party. Basically, Rove applied the logic of fascist dictators. In the country that fought and defeated fascism, this amounts to treason.
    His refusal to testify in public about his role in destabilizing the USA democracy is tantamount to admitting his guilt. Neither he nor his boss should be forgiven. Politicians who tamper with democracy should be stripped of their USA citizenship and expelled to countries that practice the same abuses, such as their friends in Saudi Arabia, China and Egypt.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2008 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (june 2008) Amend the amendment. No terrorist organization kills more USA citizens than the NRA (National Rifle Association). The second amendment of the USA constitution recites "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed". This has been the justification for a civil war that has lasted since that day to this day and killed more than one million USA citizens. Not only do criminals kill at a rate ten times higher than in any other Western society (where guns are banned), but ordinary USA citizens often grab a gun and shoot people at random, whether in schools or offices or stores. Whenever someone goes mad, five or ten or twenty people pay with their lives.
    The USA constitution was far from a perfect object. It kept women and blacks from voting, for example. It was a flawed document written by imperfect people. That's why it has already been amended so many times. Besides, the framers of that constitution wrote about the weapons that were available in their time. They did not know what "arms" would be available in the 21st century. Technically speaking, the USA constitution allows any ordinary citizen of the USA to "bear" a nuclear weapon: an arm is an arm is an arm, right? No, of course. Ordinary citizens cannot bear a nuclear weapon because there has always been something that prevailed: common sense. Unfortunately, common sense failed to prevent evil corporations, evil stores and evil organizations such as the NRA from spreading deadly arms in the country, turning it into the most armed country in the world, much worse than Iraq. The second amendment talks about the "arms" that were available at the end of the 18th century. If you don't want to scratch that amendment, well, at least stick to it: USA citizens are free to bear any arm built before the year in which that amendment was enacted, i.e. any 18th century gun.
    In a sense, the second amendment should be amended precisely because in reality it forbids the use of a gun even in circumstances in which it should be allowed. If you live in a remote, isolated area, maybe a (modern) gun is a necessity. Otherwise, the only people with a gun should be the police officers, the national guard and the military. Anybody else who even thinks of owning a gun is, by definition, a potential murderer and therefore belongs to a state prison.
    (See The USA Supreme Court forbids individual states to ban guns)
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2008 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (june 2008) A coalition for the 21st century. Ronald Reagan is famously credited for forging the "Republican coalition": social conservatives (i.e., Christian fundamentalists), business world, and foreign-policy hawks. They apparently have nothing in common, but Reagan somehow managed to create a majority by catering to these three groups. There were voters who voted Republican even if they disagreed with one or more of the three issues: Republicans who favored abortion, Republicans who favored a redistribution of wealth, Republicans who did not want to get involved in wars abroad. But they were convinced by Reagan to vote for the common cause of not letting the opposite side win.
    George W Bush simply took advantage of the mathematics and won twice against all odds. The results of his government, founded on that coalition, have been catastrophic. Each of the three groups of the "Reagan coalition" have suddenly realized how counterproductive the alliance with the other two groups can be. Business-minded people found themselves sharing a president with anti-abortion fanatics, and Christian fundamentalists founded themselves sharing a president with foreign-intervention fanatics, and so on.
    The fact that senator John McCain, hardly a social conservative, a friend of the financial lobbies or a military hawk, is the Republica candidate of 2008 may signal the end of the Reagan coalition: the USA has had enough of the disasters that this incoherent group of religious, financial and military fanatics can cause. He certainly signals the ascent of the "independents", an increasingly large group of voters who are fed up with the corruption and incompetence of both parties.
    Barack Obama may represent the rise of a new coalition that unites three new groups: the social liberals (who defend abortion, gay rights and the separation of state and church), the welfare liberals (who favor government-run programs such as universal health care and taming corporate greed), the foreign-policy isolationists (who want to greatly reduce the scope of USA military involvement abroad).
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2008 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (june 2008) Yankees go home. A poll by the Pew Center shows that the vast majority of the world has a negative opinion of the USA and blames the USA for its own economic problems (See this table).
    In the meantime, USA politicians (of both parties) claim that the USA has had a benign influence on world affairs and that globalization has created economic opportunities for the entire planet. Economists tend the agree that without the USA's colossal import and outsourcing machine many countries would not have had the kind of boom they have had. In fact, there is evidence that the one country that is paying a price for globalization is... the USA. When the capitalist world was a minority, the USA enjoyed their biggest economic boom. Now that the capitalist world covers almost the entire planet (de facto, even China), the USA is mired into one of its worst economic stagnations.
    There is a very simple way to solve this paradox: the USA may eventually simply listen to world's public opinion and return to a policy of isolationism. And the developing world will have to find a new market for its cheap products, and a new employer for its cheap labor.
    The USA should not engage in trade with any country whose public has an unfavorable opinion of the USA. It makes literally no sense.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2008 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (june 2008) The weak dollar and the trade deficit. From the moment Bush II became president (or king?) of the USA, the USA adopted a "weak dollar" policy because it would benefit exports. Given that the USA had a colossal trade deficit (the largest in the history of the world), Bush II's advisors reasoned that a lower dollar would make USA goods cheaper and therefore help USA manufacturers export more goods abroad.
    Seven years later the dollar has collapsed below the level of a third-world currency (losing half of its value to the euro) but the USA is still waiting to see any difference. In fact, USA citizens are beginning to appreciate a very different kind of effect caused by the collapsing dollar: skyrocketing oil prices.
    The trade deficit keeps reaching one record level after the record, and it got seriously worse in mid 2008. (See this New York Times article). The weak dollar does not help sell anywhere: the deficit with China increased by 25.9% in april to $20 billion; the deficit with Canada by 18.6% to $7.6 billion; the deficit with Mexico by 14.2% to $6.8 billion; the deficit with the European Union by 14% to $8.5 billion. The USA does not want to look into the mirror and admit what everybody else knows: foreigners just don't want USA products (with the obvious exceptions in computers, music and movies). The dollar can go as low as zero, but foreigners will still refuse to buy terrible cars that suck a lot of gasoline and (this is not a joke) measure it in "gallons" and display the speed in "miles" per hour. This is 2008, not 1908. The world has moved on. The USA has lost its ability to compete in too many sectors. Lowering the dollar will not help make a USA car appealing if the car fundamentally sucks.
    On the other hand, the weak dollar is now becoming a massive boomerang because USA citizens are still importing a lot of goods from abroad (they are wise enough to realize that foreign cars tend to be a lot better than USA-made cars and so forth). Because of the weak dollar, those foreign-made goods are now getting more and more expensive. This is causing inflation, a general rise in prices that is beginning to seriously hurt the average USA family. It was nice to live in the age of cheap Chinese goods that were helping USA families save on all sorts of expenses. Now the USA family might have to learn to live in a world in which the choice is between a bad and expensive USA-made product and a good but also expensive foreign-made product. (In the meantime the one thing at which the USA was a lot better than China has been all but destroyed: customer service).
    The spike in inflation is particularly driven by oil prices. The price of oil moves in the opposite direction of the dollar, so it should be no surprise that the collapsing dollar has caused skyrocketing gasoline prices.
    The USA public needs to be educated on the colossal blunders of its government and on the fundamental weakness of its economy. When a presidential candidate (John McCain) declares that "The fundamentals of our economy are very strong", there is no hope in sight: just more decline and more suffering.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2008 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (june 2008) Why gasoline hurts so much. In recent times the USA has had major problems, from causing the death of 40,000 Iraqi civilians to creating the largest trade deficit in history, but nothing has outraged the average USA citizen as much as the increase in the price of gasoline. Europeans and Japanese smile because USA gasoline is still ridiculously cheap by their international standards. But people in the USA are not used to pay more than one dollar per liter ($4 per gallon), and they don't know that Europeans pay twice that much (1.5 euros per liter, i.e. $2.3 per liter, i.e. $7.80 per gallon, the awful measurement system that the USA is still using). In fact economists point out that the price of gasoline has not increased as much as many other things over the last three decades. So one wonders what is the reason that it hurts so much.
    It hurts so much because the USA (and particularly the central, southern and western states) has never invested in public transportation. Europeans and Japanese can travel long distances in a few hours on bullet trains. USA citizens have a choice: drive or fly. Both are deadly choices (sometimes literally so, since they are the most dangerous forms of travel). Many USA cities (think of Los Angeles) have a very poor bus network, and an even poorer subway system. Gasoline prices hurt because people don't have a choice. They don't have a choice because they never wanted to invest in public transportation that today would offer them a cheaper alternative. California is an excellent example of USA madness when it comes to traveling. The governor of California (a Hollywood star) decided to spend billions on improving the roads, thus sending the state on the verge of bankruptcy. Californians will soon have extra lanes to drive on their celebrated freeways, but they may not be able to afford the gasoline to drive at all. Had California invested in buses, trains, subways, today millions of Californians would simply drive less and still travel the same distances. Instead, the state is broke and Californians are hostages to gasoline prices. You do pay a price for stupid decisions.
    The second reason that gasoline prices hurt so much is that the USA automobile industry invested mostly in producing bigger and bigger cars. Even poor neighborhoods are overflowing with SUVs and trucks. The USA car industry has been specializing in bad decisions for at least 40 years, and did not miss this opportunity to make another colossal (possibly fatal) blunder: they designed worse and worse cars (as far as gasoline mileage goes) without foreseeing a near future in which drivers would demand better and better cars. Japanese car manufacturers gladly obliged by producing the same kind of monsters, but they also invested in good cars for their domestic market. Today millions of USA citizens are stuck with gas-sucking monsters that are rapidly becoming a form of financial suicide. You can sell that monster for half of what you paid (thereby losing tens of thousands of dollars in one day) or you can keep paying whatever price the gas companies ask you (thereby losing thousands of dollars a year): choose which death you prefer to die of.
    Thirdly, the middle class was already being squeezed by inflation. Inflation has always been underestimated by official figures. If one considers housing, health care and education (the three main items for almost every household), inflation has been galloping for decades. Now food is also getting more expensive (courtesy in part of misguided investments in ethanol as an alternative to gasoline). At the same time the "cheap" goods imported from the Far East are no longer that cheap, because the dollar keeps collapsing: when the dollar goes down, prices of foreign goods go up. The USA has been bashing cheap Chinese goods for a long time, but now its middle class has to learn to live without those cheap goods. People are paying more for just about everything.
    None of this came as a surprise. It was widely predicted that oil would skyrocket due to the growing demand of the developing world. It was visible that the USA had not invested in any alternative to cars. It was obvious that a declining dollar (like any declining currency) would cause inflation.
    Since nothing has been done to rectify this situation, it will keep hurting for a long time.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2008 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (june 2008) They sure miss the American Dream. Millions of USA citizens are complaining that the combination of the mortgage crisis (they cannot afford to pay the mortgage on their houses) and the gasoline crisis (they cannot afford to pay the gasoline for their cars) is killing the American Dream. But not quite: it is them who are killing the American Dream. They demand that the politicians do something to save their homes and their cars, as if it were the politicians who signed up for those killer mortgages and as if it were the politicians who bought those ridiculous cars that consume so much gasoline.
    The American Dream was never about rewarding the idiots. The American Dream was about rewarding the geniuses. Darwin at work, literally. If the USA politicians do anything to save the one million homes that are on foreclosure and to reduce the price of gasoline, they will reward the millions of USA citizens who, let's face it, are a burden, not an asset, for this country. The USA is limiting immigration when it should be encouraging emigration.
    The mortgage crisis is due to millions of USA citizens who bought homes that they could not afford using loans that any schoolchild would know were not safe. The gasoline crisis is due to millions of USA citizens who bought cars that they could not afford and that consume gasoline at a rate two or three times higher than the cars of other countries. Basically, these USA citizens were betting that banks would lower interest rates and that oil producers would lower oil prices. Who can be so naive?
    Both crises had been widely predicted, because they were easy to predict. The real scandal would be if anyone in Washington used the taxes of the USA citizens who acted wisely and responsible to save the USA citizens who acted stupidly and recklessly.
    The damage caused by the irresponsible ones is much bigger than losing their own homes. They indirectly fostered industries that should not have existed in the first place: the ricky lenders and the huge-car manufacturers. Take the latter. The USA car industry is now collapsing. The USA itself buys more foreign cars than USA-made cars. Abroad hardly a single USA-made car is sold anywhere in the world. The USA is manufacturing the worst cars on the planet. This is the damage caused by the millions of USA citizens who kept buying those terrible cars. They not only destroyed their household: they destroyed a once vibrant sector of the USA economy.
    Helping the bankrupt home owners or helping the huge-car owners would only compound the problems.
    Let us, instead, reward the wise and responsible USA citizens, by using their money not to save the unwise and reckless citizens but to improve the system for those who will now prosper in it: for example, build more public transportation, develop alternative energy sources, offer free health care, provide better education. The last thing their tax money should be used for is to alleviate the trouble of those who spent recklessly.
    No wonder that the dollar keeps collapsing. This is not a country that anyone would believe in. It resembles the old Soviet Union, not the vibrant USA of the Cold War.
    (See also Learn from European discipline)
    The presidential campaign of 2008 is very much about "change". But the real change that has to come is not from the Washington politicians: it is from the ordinary USA citizens. They have to change the way they think and the way they behave. Stop driving gas-sucking monsters and stop spending over your means (and, while we are at it, stop doing drugs, as the USA is still the number-one consumer of illicit drugs in the world while it complains about gasoline prices). That's the "change" that the USA needs the most.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2008 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (may 2008) Change? If there are two recent bills that define everything that is wrong with Washington politics, they are the 2005 energy bill (that the Washington Post called "a broad collection of subsidies for energy companies", and David Brooks in the New York Times summarized as a "Christmas tree for the oil industry") and the $307 billion dollar farm bill that just passed this month, a wonderful example of subsidies for just about anybody who can afford to buy a vote in Washington. Barack Obama voted in favor of both bills.
    The despised president, George W Bush, had pledged to veto this last pork-barrel bill. Barack Obama, probably eager to win the votes of agricultural states, voted in favor of it. Bush did what Obama promised: fight lobbies, special interests, corruption. Obama (not famous for throwing too many votes in his career) stood on the other side, next to the lobbies, the special interests, the corrupt politicians. Change?
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2008 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (april 2008) The thirty-year recession. Two presidents stand out as having crippled the USA economy for generations to come: Ronald Reagan and George W Bush. The median household income in the USA more than doubled between the end of World War II and the end of the Jimmy Carter presidency. Since then it has risen mainly on paper. It did increase under Clinton, but it has slightly declined during the Bush era. In world currencies, the median household income in the USA has actually declined, because the dollar is worth a lot less than it used to. The rest of the world has been getting richer while the USA has been getting poorer.
    Reagan had two bright idea that screwed the USA economy. The first one was to make government smaller, which translated into reversing a trend started at the end of World War II if not during the Great Depression. For many decades the USA government had invested in infrastructures (from the freeway system to the space race). Those massive government projects mainly helped the middle class. Reagan reversed that trend when he decided that the government should stay out of people's businesses. Government still helped big corporations (that always manage to influence Washington through their lobbies) but stopped helping the middle class for real (because the middle class has precious few lobbies fighting for it in Washington). Reagan de facto invented the lobby-driven economy, in which the government spends even more than before but not on stragetic large-scale projects: it spends on local pork-barrel projects. Indirectly, Reagan caused a colossal increase in corruption (because that's ultimately what pork-barrel projects are).
    The second demented invention of the Reagan years was a tax code that greatly favored the rich. Bush continued that work by making the tax code even more favorable to the wealthy ones (whom, by the way, were also the main recipients of his trillion-dollar tax cut).
    Reagan's idea was that the wealth of the successful capitalists would eventually "trickle down" to the middle class. It never did. It has trickled down to countless villas on the French riviera, but not to the average Joe in the USA.
    Clinton didn't undo Reagan. Bush topped Reagan in terms of unfair legislation. It is up to the next president to salvage what can be salvaged: increase taxes, balance the budget, launch some grand government projeects and shut down pork-barrel projects and, last but not least, teach the effects of the Reagan and Bush presidencies in every school of Economics.
    (See Record unemployment in the USA)
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2008 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (march 2008) The specter of a new Reagan. John McCain wants to appeal to a broad segment of the USA electorate by presenting himself as the heir to former president and Republican icon Ronald Reagan. Reagan is still widely respected in the USA even by enemies of the Republican Party.
    Nonetheless, it was under Reagan's watch that the USA supported a mad Arab dictator, Saddam Hussein, when the said madman ventured in his first invasion of a neighboring country (the invasion of Iran in 1980). Nonetheless, it was under Reagan's watch that the USA supported international Islamic fighters in Afghanistan (apparently fighting the Soviet invasion of the country but in reality, as we learned later, fighting a global jihad against the "infidels"), namely a young Osama bin Laden. It was under Reagan's watch that the USA granted amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants, with the promise that this would put an end to illegal immigration (it actually encouraged more of it). It was under Reagan's watch that the USA became the world's bigger debtor, igniting a spiral of both trade and budget deficits. Last but not least, Reagan signed the largest tax increase in the history of the USA.
    So the question for senator McCain is simple: as president of the USA, will you support a dictator whom 20 years later the USA will have to remove at the cost of thousands of lives? Will you help train and arm terrorists that, 20 years later, will attack the USA? Will you grant amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants to that even more illegal immigrants will be encouraged to enter the USA? Will you further increase the budget deficit? And will you sign the largest tax increase in history? When you compare yourself to Reagan, are these your campaign promises?
    The 13 most feared words in the English language: "It is an old Ronald Reagan idea and it is still around today".

    P.S. Since i wrote this article, the financial crisis hit the world. That was caused by another dreadful Reagan invention: deregulation.

    TM, ®, Copyright © 2008 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (march 2008) How Bush engineered the worst recession in modern times. In june 2001 i predicted that George W Bush's economic policies will cause the worst recession in modern times. It is sad to be proven true.
    The USA is now for the first time in modern times facing the reality of collapsing stock markets, collapsing real estate, collapsing dollar, rising inflation, rising unemployment, record oil prices, record gold prices, etc. The price of dold hit $1,000 for the first time ever, oil passed $110 a barrel, the dollar set another all-time low against the euro (1.56) and dipped below 100 yen (a drop of 6.5% in less than three months), home prices plunged 9.1%. With the latest rise in the value of the euro, the Eurozone has overtaken the USA as the world's largest economy (measured by market exchange rates).
    The Federal Reserve can keep cutting interest rates as much as it likes. It will not undo the damage that George W Bush caused when he cut taxes. That trillion dollars does make a difference. It all started with a ballooning USA budget deficit. As a comparison, the worst critics of the Iraqi invasion estimate that it costs 12 billion dollars a month. That's 144 billion a years. That's still a drop in the bucket compared with Bush's tax cut.
    All the USA citizens who rejoiced in 2001 when they received a $300 cheque have only themselves to blame for what is going to happen to them.
    (See Record unemployment in the USA)
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2008 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (march 2008) Learn from European discipline. The USA Federal Bank has aggressively cut interest rates to cope with an emergency of sorts: millions of USA citizens who borrowed beyond their means. This has not prevented stock markets from falling back to the levels of five years ago, but has prevented housing from collapsing. It has had an indirect effect on currencies, pushing the dollar to all-time lows (the lower the interest rates, the less appealing the currency for investors). The low dollar has in turn made imported goods more expensive (the protectionists finally have it their ways, as imports are decreasing because domestic goods are becoming competitive). In simple words, the lower interest rates cause a weak dollar that causes inflation.
    The European Federal Bank has taken a completely different approach. They have repeated that their job is to prevent inflation, not to rescue people who made bad decisions. Thus the European Union has not cut interest rates at all. The euro has reached an all-time high, ridiculing the USA dollar. That is a ironic reverse of fortunes, because many in the USA were making fun of the euro when it was first introduced. (They obviously rank among the great idiots of the new century).
    The problem with the actions of the USA Federal Bank is not only that they are slowly turning the USA currency into a joke. The problem is also moral: this policy of lowering interest rates is hurting the very USA citizens that should be rewarded for doing the right thing: saving money when others were buying homes that they cannot afford. These wise citizens are punished three times by the Federal Reserve: 1. The nation is de facto using their tax money to help the people who made bad decisions; 2. The nation is using their tax money to keep house prices unaffordable for them; 3. The nation is using their tax money to cause inflation that hurts their finances.
    Europe is rewarding the wise people who made the right decisions. The USA is punishing the wise people who made the right decisions. One place is rewarding smart people, the other place is rewarding idiots. It doesn't take an economic genius to figure out where these policies will lead to in the long term.
    (In fact, the European bank increased interest rates in July instead of decreasing them).
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2008 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (february 2008) What the Democrats don't say. The presidential candidate of the Democratic Parts (whether Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton) will have a hard time against John McCain because of the incredible number of hidden issues and fictional notions that the Party is indulging in:
    • The surge worked. Had John McCain been president, maybe the war in Iraq would have lasted only a couple of years. Had a Democrat been president, Saddam Hussein would still be in power and in these seven years he may have killed more people and started another war somewhere else, and possibly acquired the very weapons of mass destruction that were not there in 2003.
    • If the USA withdraws from Iraq before order is restored, the USA will have lost yet another war, after Korea, Vietnam, Lebanon, Somalia. Each loss emboldened the enemy and brought about another war. I doubt that all the Muslim extremists in the world will see a USA withdrawal from Iraq as a sign of USA strength. They will see it as a sign of Allah's strength.
    • Harry Truman attacked Korea without approval from Congress. Bill Clinton attacked Serbia without approval from Congress. It is not even clear which president started the Vietnam war. The Democratic candidates pledge that they would not start a war without Congress approval. Nobody in his own mind believes it. It takes a few minutes to manufacture a story that will justify and emergency.
    • Social Security as it is will be bankrupt within six years. No Democratic candidate has explained what s/he will do: increase taxes, reduce benefits, abolish Social Security. There is no other way to fix Social Security.
    • Guns kill a lot more USA citizens than any terrorist organization in the world. No candidate of the Democratic Party has spoken out on how to stop the carnage that kills a lot more USA citizens than the Iraqi war.
    • Every economist in the USA thinks that global trade is good for the USA economy, and in fact accounts for the unprecedented era of economic growth since the end of World War II. The Democratic Party is growing increasingly protectionistic, despite the mountains of evidence that protectionism has caused great depressions in the past.
    • Russia is growing more and more totalitarian. Neither candidate of the Democratic party has explained how they will cope with an increasingly aggressive and totalitarian Russia that still has the second largest nuclear arsenal in the world.
    • The totalitarian regime of mainland China is rapidly improving its army, navy and air force, and even experimenting with "star wars". Neither candidate of the Democratic party has explained how they will cope with the arms race started by China in the Pacific region.
    • Most of USA trade partners in the world, notably mainland China and the Arab countries, severely limit what part of the World-wide Web can be viewed by their citizens, thereby distorting their view of the world and typically brainwashing them against USA principles and interests. Neither candidate of the Democratic Party has a said a word against this behavior.
    • A recent study published in Science shows that ethanol (once you consider the whole process) would produce more greenhouse gases than gasoline. Nonetheless both Democratic Candidates support ethanol as an alternative to gasoline.
    • The studies on Climate Change are far from having reached any consensus on what is happened to the weather's climate and what is causing it. The Democratic candidates promise to pass laws to prevent a human-made "climate change" whose existence is dubious and whose effects are dubious.
    Whoever wins the nomination for the Democratic Party will have a hard time to stand up against John McCain, who has simple and plausible answers to all of these issues (you may not agree with them, but at least he has told you what he thinks about them).
    John McCain is also the one candidate who has a record of fighting against corruption (voting on thorny issues instead of abstaining like Barack Obama consistently did and instead of getting involved in all sorts of corruption scandals like the Clintons did). He is the only one who can show real actions (not just words) to curb the influence of special-interest groups in Washington and pork-barrel bills. In a debate between the Democratic candidate and John McCain it will take more than empty rhetoric.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2008 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (february 2008) The Cuba embargo. As Fidel Castro announced that he was resigning, the Bush administration responded by saying that it will keep the trade embargo in place because his brother and successor Raul Castro is a "dictator lite" (meaning that he is a little better but still a dictator).
    Why in heaven a "dictator lite" deserves a trade embargo whereas the brutal dictators of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Egypt and so forth enjoy full USA cooperation and friendship, is beyond anyone's moral understanding. The USA is a country whose trade with mainland China (a country that holds several records in human-rights abuses) is booming. The USA is a country that just restored diplomatic ties with Libya, despite the fact that Libya's Qaddafi is now the new longest-lasting dictator in the world (Castro was the previous one).
    The only reason to single out cuba among all countries in the world is to please the obsessed right-wing Cubans in Florida, an important "swing" state for the next elections. The Cuban people may one day remember that the USA ruling class was more interested in winning a few votes in Florida than in helping millions of Cubans live a decent life.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2008 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (february 2008) USA medicine kills. Suicides are increasing in the USA, killing 32,000 people a year. Almost half of them are middle-aged people (40-64 years old). Suicide used to be associated with elderly people (75 and over). Now the highest rate is among people aged 45-54. The increase seems to have started around 1999. The increase among women aged 50-54 is particularly staggering: almost 30%. (See this CDC's article).
    There is no economic factor to justify this sudden rise in suicides among adults. The prime suspects are illicit drugs (that increase the chances of a suicide by up to 2500%) and... legal drugs. USA doctors are fond of prescribing all sorts of medicines for their patients, a fact that keeps a multi-billion dollar biomedical economy going. Many of those medicines have been proven to be useless or even dangerous. USA citizens routinely learn that medicines prescribed in a previous decade were actually a bad idea and now explain some other disease (for which new improved drugs are prescribed that may cause new improved diseases!)
    Beware of your doctor.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2008 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (february 2008) Western vs Islamic terrorism. Throughout the Islamic world the view that the world should unite to fight Al Qaeda's terrorism is ridiculed because the USA and Israel are blamed for worse terrorist acts than Al Qaeda's. The single weakest argument by the West is the one that should be the foundation for the whole strategy: that the civilized world does not practice terrorism.
    The Islamic world is right, though: the USA and Israel do practice terrorism. It is a different kind of terrorism, but it is difficult (a semantic nonsense) to claim that the missile shot into a crowded Palestinian street or the carpet bombing from the sky of a city like Baghdad do not constitute terrorism. Any act that terrorize ordinary people is an act of terrorism. When the USA drop powerful bombs on a neighborhood, children are traumatized for years to come. Every time a child hears the roaring of a jet, she panics, knowing that within a few seconds an entire building will be annihilated and families exterminated, and it could be her house and her family.
    Modern high-tech warfare is not humane. Ancient warfare at least gave the victim some warning and a chance to escape. Modern high-tech warfare does not.
    It is claimed that high-tech warfare reduces civilian casualties. There is evidence that this is indeed the case: the number of civilians killed by the USA in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq is much lower than the number of civilians killed in previous wars. The fact is even more obvious for Israel: while routinely accused of atrocities by Palestinians, Israel kills fewer Palestinians in a year than Jordan or Syria killed in weeks when they did it with traditional warfare. Nonetheless innocents are still getting killed . Even when it does not kill innocents, a powerful bomb or missile does terrorize them.
    The point that the West has not been able to make convincingly is that there is killing and killing. One thing is to kill a criminal, one thing is to kill a honest person by accident, and one thing is to kill a honest person on purpose. All three are killings. But the semantics is very different. Any society punishes them in different ways. Israel and the USA have consistently failed to prove to the Islamic world (and often to their own public opinion) that Western terrorism is of the first and second kind only, whereas Al Qaeda's terrorism and Palestinian terrorism are of the third kind.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2008 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (february 2008) The Great American Fascist Alliance. At the beginning of the 21st century the USA, a country of great intellectual traditions that has inspired intellectuals all over the world, enjoys the dubious record of having some of the most biased, unfair and demagogic commentators in the world. Former drug addict Rush Limbaugh, possibly the most barbaric of them all, draws a daily audience of 13 million people. He ranks with the worst propagandists of Hitler's Germany. Former alcoholic Glenn Beck, compulsive liar Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly all published books that became best-sellers. Their tv shows and/or books make Al Jazeera look fair and unbalanced. They form what i labeled the "Great American Fascist Alliance".
    They routinely attack any politician who dares attack their right-wing sponsors. They steadfastedly (and comically) supported every lie and every blunder than came out of the Bush/Rumsfeld government. They literally rallied a skeptic USA public opinion to the rescue of Bush's failed policies (until it became a bit too obvious that they were wrong on every single issue).
    It is a good sign that in 2008 they are attacking in concert the Republican candidate for president (they who were the cheerleaders of George W Bush): John McCain is guilty of having drafted a campaign-finance law that has limited the political influence of the lobbies. John McCain involuntarily crippled the financial foundations of the Great American Fascist Alliance.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2008 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (february 2008) Demonizing Iran. Bill O'Reilly, one of the cheerleaders of the Bush administration, whose daily tv show draws millions of viewers in the USA, once discussed a (terrible) Hollywood movie and defended its anti-Persian bias by claiming that the Persians were not a great civilization but barbarians who tried to invade the civilized world of Greece, forgetting that the one who invaded the whole world (razing Persepolis to the ground) was Alexander the Great, later followed by the likes of Caesar, Napoleon and Hitler (Tip for tv show hosts: some things are best left to historians).
    In february 2008 John McCain referred to Iran as a country that has historically tried to dominate its region. McCain clearly does not know that Iran/Persia was invaded by Alexander and his Greek-speaking successors, the Arabs and the Mongols, then coveted by Britain and Russia, then controlled by the USA that engineered a coup to install a puppet dictator. (Tip for politicians: some things are best left to historians).
    The truth is that Iran is one of the ancient civilizations of the world. It probably invented monotheism (the Jews became monotheistic after being saved by the Persians from the Babylonians). It rivaled Greece for centuries. it then rivaled Rome for centuries. It then rivaled the Arabs for centuries (the majority of Islamic intellectuals were Persian). While other empires kept coming and going, Iran transformed itself and remained a center of political, economic, scientific and artistic power. But it rarely aimed at conquering its neighbors. It was conquered, repeatedly.
    What O'Reilly and McCain prove is that the USA is still practicing the old European tactic of demonizing the enemy.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2008 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (february 2008) Texas makes Arabian human rights look good. In surveying the abysmal human-rights record of the Arabian peninsula, one finds that there is a piece of the West that almost competes with them.
    Last year Texas, already not the most popular of places in the world, carried out its 400th death penalty. It was a great day for terrorists all over the world, that rejoyced seeing their methods applied which such diligence and competence by a vastly more powerful country. It was a sad day for the civilized world.
    Texas is part of the USA, the country that preaches human rights and democracy around the world at the tune of thousands of bombs and hundreds of thousands of invading troops. All in the name of "liberating" people from barbaric regimes. Perhaps the USA should first bomb, invade and liberate Texas.
    The governor of Texas made it clear that he doesn't have the slightest interest in finding out if a conviction was right or wrong. He just wants to kill them as fast as possible.
    The world should not tolerate states like Texas in any world organization. Let Texas join the likes of Saudi Arabia, mainland China, Iran and North Korea (the only major countries that execute more people than Texas) in a "League of State Terrorists".
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2008 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (february 2008) Destroying more evidence. The USA has announced that six Arab prisoners of the Guantanamo Bay concentration camp will be brought to justice for their alleged involvement in the 2001 terrorist attacks that killed about 3,000 people. Notably on trial will be the mastermind of those attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. As customary in Saudi Arabia, communist China, North Korea, Iran and the USA, the defendants will be killed if found guilty. Since we already know that they will be found guilty, this means that another important witness will soon be unable to grant interviews to the media. Just like Saddam Hussein was killed before he could give his version of the facts to any media, so Khalid Sheikh Mohammed will soon follow him among the many famous names whose voice we never heard.
    The zealousness with which the USA keeps the "suspects" away from the media does not escape the Arab public opinion. USA citizens might be willing to believe that people like Saddam Hussein and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed have nothing to tell, but the Arab world believes otherwise: these are people who have a lot of stories to tell. And, de facto, the USA is keeping the world from hearing what they have to tell.
    Let journalists from all over the world interview them before they get sentenced to death.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2008 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (february 2008) The USA is no longer the right pulpit to preach democracy. The USA preaches democracy, freedom and the likes to the Arab world. Most USA citizens sincerely believe in the message. Unfortunately most USA citizens are only superficially aware of how much their government is controlled by "special interests", by the powerful "lobbies" based in Washington. The rest of the world, on the contrary, is painfully aware that the USA government stands for neither free market nor clean government. For example, a 2005 Washington Post editorial unveiled how the USA government sets quotas for sugar and restricts imports. This policy drives prices much higher than what would be the price in a free market. "Sugar producers, notably in Florida, a battleground electoral state, pocket $1 billion a year in excess profits". This is the net effect of subsidies that are paid by USA taxpayers. The same taxpayers is de-facto taxed a second time when s/he buys sugar at a much higher price than it should be. Sugar producers use their colossal profits to contribute to the political campaign of corrupt politicians who help keep this system in place.
    While the USA promotes free trade and free markets outside its borders, it has a system of subsidies and laws in effect that keeps poor countries from selling their products at competitive prices in the USA.
    As Firas Ahmad wrote in the Islamica magazine: "The ability of lobbies to circumvent national interests to secure political and economic gains for the few is a form of institutionalized and systematic corruption. It represents a fundamental challenge to American democracy. It also has grave consequences for America's relationship with the rest of the world, especially developing countries" ("America" means USA in the Arab world).
    While the USA promotes its political system in the Arab world, the political process of the USA is perceived by just every person in the world as very flawed. In order to get elected, candidates need to spend money. They raise that money from lobbies. The candidates that win the election has to return the favor by passing the laws that the lobbies demand. This is the definition of "USA-style democracy" in the world.
    It will take more than words to change this perception.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2008 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (february 2008) Comical Ali, Powell, Rumsfeld, Bush. A fellow passenger on a flight from Kuwait to Dubai reminded me of "Comical Ali". That was the Iraqi spokesman who kept pretending that Saddam Hussein's Iraq was winning against the USA during the 2003 invasion. This man was widely quoted throughout the Arab world and derided in the West. He famously denied the presence of USA troops in Baghdad while USA troops were entering the center of the city.
    The Arab world, though, has other and more important "comical" figures to deride. First is Colin Powell, USA secretary of state who in february 2003 gave a spectacular presentation at the United Nations (spectacularly flawed) in which he described in detail Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction that (it turned out) did not exist. Second is Donald Rumsfeld, USA secretary of defense who consistently denied the obvious. He famously scorned the rise in USA casualties in Iraq as a "spike" that would soon die out. He infamously disguised every massacre of innocent Iraqi civilians by USA troops as a killing of ferocious terrorists. The third "comical" USA figure is George W Bush, the man who declared "mission accomplished" while the insurgents were just beginning to slaughter his soldiers in Iraq.
    (One can go further back in time, to the day when George Bush I sent a tearful 15-year old Kuwaiti girl named Nayirah to tell Congress and the whole USA how she had been raped by the invading troops of Saddam Hussein, see this article, except that it turned out she wasn't even in Kuwait at the time... "comical" indeed).
    The USA public opinion does not make fun of these episodes because, alas, the Iraqi war is far from being a light matter now that 4,000 USA soldiers have died and more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians have been slaughtered. But the Arab world has not forgetten (and will not easily forget) the most "comical" figures of this whole botched affair. Their comedians have enough material to make several generations of Arabs laugh.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2008 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (january 2008) The ideal president The next president of the USA is usually chosen by the large sector of independents (whom, alas, do not get to choose the party candidates that they will have to vote for). Independents are not interested in rhetoric or demagogy. They do not take sides based on labels such as "liberal" or "conservative". They are not easily convinced by comparisons with Bill Clinton or Ronald Reagan. They care, first and foremost, about difficult issues that will not be solved with just words. The conundrum is that each party is a solution for some of them but a problem for others. Neither party reassures on all the issues.
    Here is a list of which of the major (major) candidates is best for you, based on their statements and (more importantly) their record:
    • Uniting the country. After eight diviside years under Bush the country is eager to regain a sense of unity. Vote for: John McCain.
    • Fighting special interests. The country feels that their politicians constitute a form of organized crime that passes laws based on how much money they receive from lobbies. Vote for: John Edwards, John McCain.
    • Reducing the influence of religious groups. The USA is one of the few countries in the world that welcomes people of any religion. It is against the very nature of the USA that any religion (for example the ones that believe in the Bible as a divine book) should influence politics. Vote for: John Edwards, Hillary Clinton.
    • Reviving the economy. The USA has the largest trade deficit in history. The USA dollar is one of the weakest currencies in the world. The USA government is running a deficit that makes most European "social welfare" governments look frugal. Individuals and companies are no less indebted. All these forms of debt combine to threaten the USA economy. It is beginning to look like an impossible job. While several of the candidates have experience dealing with the economy "in normal times", there is nobody on the face of the Earth who has ever dealt with this kind of crisis. It probably takes a major flight of imagination to fix the USA economy devastated by eight years of Bush economics. Vote for: a miracle.
    • Energy independence. The USA became a world's superpower when it was self-sufficient in energy, which is the key ingredient of any industrial society. The USA cannot be self-sufficient anymore if it does not change model, investing in new forms of energy and reviving the nuclear sector. Vote for: John McCain, Mike Huckabee.
    • Winning the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. The USA has already lost too many wars (Korea, Vietnam, Lebanon, Somalia). It cannot afford to keep losing, especially in the Islamic world. Its enemies (notably the Islamic terrorists) are just waiting for Iraq to cause the collapse of the USA the way Afghanistan caused the collapse of the Soviet Union. Vote for: John McCain.
    • Securing the borders. The USA is the only country in the world whose borders are broken. Vote for: John McCain, Rudy Giuliani
    • Protecting the USA from terrorists. Vote for: Rudy Giuliani, John McCain
    • Rationalizing immigration. The USA was built on immigration. It became the world's superpower thanks to immigration. The problem is not that current laws are not enforced. The problem is that the current laws are ridiculous. Legalize illegal immigrants who deserve to be citizens. Speed up the process for legal immigrants. Distribute immigration fairly among all nationalities. Vote for: John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Barack Obama
    • Universal health care. The USA is the only Western country that does not protect its citizens against the most common of tragedies: illness. Vote for: John Edwards, Hillary Clinton.
    • Balancing the budget. Increase taxes if necessary, but, just like in any families, the USA should never spend above its means. If it needs to spend more, it should tax more. If it doesn't want to tax more, then it should spend less. Vote for: John McCain, Hillary Clinton.
    • Reducing the wealth gap. Increasing taxes on the rich and subsidizing health care, education and the likes would help reducing one of the highest wealth gaps in the world. Vote for: John Edwards.
    • Gun control. The USA has more guns per capita than any country in the world. USA citizens are killed by guns at a rate that compares with death rates in countries torn by civil wars. Vote for: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards.
    • Abolition of the death penalty. The USA is the only democracy that still enjoys killing its own citizens by the dozens. It ranks with China, Saudi Arabia and Iran among the countries that execute the most people. All the people executed are poor: they could not afford a good attorney. Vote for: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards.
    • Funding research and innovation. The USA has lost its edge against the Far East and sometimes even Europe in several technological areas. Vote for: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards, John McCain.
    • Improving education. USA children consistently rank low in international tests of education. Vote for: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards, John McCain.
    • Stemming the bearkdown of the family. History teaches that the breakdown of the family always brings the decline of a civilization (from ancient Rome to modern Western Europe). Vote for: Mike Huckabee.
    • Rationalizing the laws on drugs. Either they are illegal and users should go to jail, or it is ok to use them and then we should just legalize them. Vote for: John McCain.
    • Investing in public transportation. The USA cannot the network of bullet trains and local buses that make transportation invulnerable to terrorist attacks on planes. Vote for: Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards.
    • Maintaining military supremacy over emerging and old powers. More and more countries are achieving nuclear status. Countries such as China are developing the technology to shoot down USA satellites. There is a serious chance that, sooner or later, the USA will be hit with a dirty nuclear attack. The USA needs to develop new forms of protection and aggression that will make current warfare negligible. Vote for: John McCain, Hillary Clinton.
    • Reviving the space race. It is a matter of prestige and of legacy to future generations that the USA should lead an aggressive space race to explore other planets. Vote for: nobody.
    • Reducing pollution. The USA is the world's largest polluter. Vote for: John Edwards, John McCain.
    • Improving the image of the USA around the world. The USA has never been hated so much by so many people in so many countries. Vote for: Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2008 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • (january 2008) Bloomberg for president. As the longest presidential campaign in USA history drags on, voters have plenty of time to decide which candidate they dislike the most. At the end of the day, they all project a negative image. Most of them are obviously paid by powerful lobbies. Many of them have always been and still are incompetent. Those who have been or are members of Congress have lower approval ratings than George W Bush. Each and every one of them has flip-flopped at least once on major issues, and the flip-flop has never (never) gone against the polls. USA voters are entertained by debates in which the candidates argue about comic issues such as gay marriage, flag burning or whether the Bible (a holy book for Christians) has to be believed literally, in which they boast of how many guns they have (one even boasting that he learned to shoot at ten, which probably made him a much desired recruit by Iraqi insurgents and Al Qaeda terrorists) and of how proud they are of being members of the largest terrorist organization in the world (see The largest terrorist organization in the world kills 32 USA citizens). The leading Republican candidate is even a Christian preacher: imagine how the USA would react if an Islamic country chose an Islamic cleric for president... Not one of them has articulated a credible energy policy (that would liberate the USA from the dependency on foreign oil), a credible foreign policy (other than "let's surrender in Iraq and anywhere else"), a credible economic policy (how do we rescue a superpower whose currency is worth nothing and whose trade deficit is the largest in world history?), a credible social policy (how do we make sure that this superpower give their citizens the basic benefits that most Western countries, some of them much poorer, have been giving for decades to their citizens?), a credible security policy (for a superpower whose border can be violated by just about any enemy who has the money to pay for a trip to Mexico).
    How much respect they would get from the rest of the world? None: not one of them opposes guns and not one of them opposes the death penalty. They would simply reinforce the image that USA citizens are barbarians with nuclear weapons.
    USA voters are faced with a bunch of cowards who bend to whoever shouts louder, whether Lou Dobbs (whose witch-hunt against immigrants are scaring away scores of bright scientists and engineers and whose communist ideology against free trade will devastate the USA middle class just like it did under Stalin and Mao) or the Republican anti-tax fanatics (who are responsible for gasoline being so cheap that USA consumers keep buying too much of it and for the death of thousands of citizens who cannot afford health insurance) or Christian fundamentalists who are no better than their Islamic counterparts.
    After eight years of Bush rule, presidential candidates like these will finish the job of destroying the USA.
    Both parties have shown time and again that cannot be trusted. It is time for an independent to stand up and get rid of all this religious, anti-immigration, anti-trade, anti-tax, pro-gun nonsense. The USA was not founded on stupidity.
    The USA needs a president Who can:
    • restore public confidence in the political system
    • unite the country instead of dividing it
    • restore USA prestige around the world
    New York mayor and philanthopist Michael Bloomberg is widely seen as the only person who could successfully run for president as an independent. He has distanced himself from both Democrats and Republicans. He is not associated to any lobby of Washington corruption. He is competent at least in Economics, if not on foreign policy. He has never joined the hysterial crusades against free trade and open immigration. Since he is a Jew, maybe they will stop asking candidates silly questions about the Christian faith. Believe it or not, he's even opposed to the death penalty. Wow: a USA politician who actually looks civilized.
    TM, ®, Copyright © 2008 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • January-December 2005
  • January-December 2004
  • January-December 2003
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  • January-December 2001
  • January-December 2000
  • January-December 1999

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