Money 101

Money. It is essential to civilization. Without money we would all return to being hunter/gatherers, or at least to a system of barter and trade. But there you are – as soon as you start to barter and trade you are creating money again – of a sort. “How much is that pair of shoes?”  “Three chickens.” “I’ll give you two now and another next month.” The earliest known writing was commodity accounting.

Obverse of the Series 2006 $20 bill

Image via Wikipedia

Money is a convention, similar to the convention of driving on the right side of the road and staying on your side of the line. We drive toward one another on two lane highways at a closing speed of 130 mph and pass safely within 3 or 4 feet of each other, simply based on mutual understanding. Isn’t money similar?  It works because we all need for it to work.

Money allows us to account for production and consumption. While it might seem that the two have to roughly balance, they don’t actually as long as everybody is working and consuming. The problem comes when not everybody is working. That’s because even though there’s is still plenty of stuff and plenty of equipment, the essential convention is then broken. If people can get by without working, then what’s to stop everybody from taking a permanent vacation? It’s obvious – no work, no money, no eat, no iPad even.

So, everybody needs to work and the work needs to produce something in demand.  That’s the convention.  A century ago more than 90% of us farmed. Sixty years ago some of us still dug ditches. Now it’s machines and a 70% service economy, and we are running out of things to do – it’s called “productivity”, making more with fewer people, and when the Great Recession came along, business found out it could do more with fewer people.

Horse Plowing

Image by BugMan50 via Flickr

The problem is not production. Think about it. With modern machines and technology it takes less than one percent of America’s population to feed all of us, and even then there’s lots left over to export. Mankind long ago passed the point where most of us had to farm to supply basic needs like food, clothing, shelter and safety, a.k.a., defense. It began in the Industrial Revolution in the latter part of the 18th century. Up until that time the principal function of money was to keep track of basics, but mining, manufacturing, and transportation enabled investment and things got more complicated. All of a sudden there was money for stuff besides basics, stuff like planes, trains, automobiles, armies, navies, diamonds, and movies.

Money was linked to commodities, essentially gold, until well into the modern era. The world was on the gold standard until a mere 40 years ago when the U.S. government left it in favor of, well, just our word. That, according to Wikipedia, is called “fiat money” as opposed to what it was with gold, “commodity money”. Most countries of the world had linked their own currencies to ours until we switched, but our action caused them to produce their own fiat money. Now every country is running on promises, including the EU. Some, like Greece and Ireland are shaky, but the system is still working, even though it’s just based on promises. Or at least it was until the Great Recession, the worst such occurrence since the Great Depression.

The reasons for the GR have been much discussed – in my opinion it goes right back to Congress and the large financial firms catering to the populist demand for cheap mortgages, selling them to people who shouldn’t have qualified, and then compounding the mistake by rating bundled bad mortgages as good investments. It all seems so simple now, looking back.  Devastating.  Most Americans’ net worth was tied up in their house equity and when the values fell, people couldn’t recoup by selling, so they began to walk away from their financial “promises”, a.k.a., mortgage payments.  And so the downward spiral continued. Isn’t it interesting that investment ratings are just opinions based on promises about money, kind of like money itself?

Construction works Prokop

Image via Wikipedia

For money to work, humans need assurance that it will buy what they want, and for that to happen we need to find something to do for the one out of five who are unemployed, on part time work, or who have dropped out discouraged. Otherwise, money loses its meaning and the system will fail, a.k.a. depression. So, let’s get to work. As I mentioned in my last post, I think working on our infrastructure is a good way to do it.  First work, then budget.  Otherwise we’ll be back to trading in chickens.

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About Jim Wheeler

U. S. Naval Academy, BS, Engineering, 1959; Naval line officer and submariner, 1959 -1981, Commander, USN; The George Washington U., MSA, Management Eng.; Aerospace Engineer, 1981-1999; Resident Gadfly, 1999 - present. Political affiliation: Independent, tending progressive as the GOP recedes from its Eisenhower roots.
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17 Responses to Money 101

  1. John Erickson says:

    How about a little humour? While I know the definition of the word “fiat” in “fiat money”, being an unrepentant gearhead, I think of the car company.
    And the fact that most people here in the States think FIAT is an acronym for “Fix It Again, Tony” due to the cars breaking down a great deal.
    “FIAT money” – money likely to break down and have no value.
    Kinda funny in an ironic way – and kinda sad.

    Like

  2. ansonburlingame says:

    Jim,

    At least beginning with the Industrial Revolution, a revolution that produced robber barons and very poor working class, money reflected the ability to produce tangible material thinks, like cars. Henry Ford found a way to both produce cars and pay his workers enough to be able to buy cars as well. Others followed along with unions to establish working conditions and pay that were acceptable to most as well. The result for a while was balance, economically. Find a way to develop and make a widget, pay your workers enough to live and buy widgets, and there we go to prospertiy.

    But we have now gone way beyond that simpler time created by industry. Technology makes industry, the making of widgets much easier and requires less workers. Thus we create inbalance, economically.

    But Bill Gates broke that code as well. He made more money by creating technology and his “workers” themselves made millions doing so. Did Bill Gates make money building computers. Maybe some of his money but the real wealth came from his and his workers BRAINS, intellectual productivity, not manual labor.

    My how times changed with such innovation. And our manual labors are still trying to catch up and their unions as well. I don’t think the geeks working for Microsoft are unionized are they?

    Now consider such a “new” world. Most Americans today are not EDUCATED enough to get a good job with Microsoft to create intellectual “things” life “soft” ware. Note I did not say SMART enough I said educated or trained enough if you will to produce intellectual “things”.

    Does it require a college education to achieve such education to really make money today? Well it didn’t for Bill Gates. Can a good plumber make money today. Sure can as I pay my plumbers bills. But they need great education andor training to be a good plumber or fix my broken computer (so I don’t have to buy a new one).

    Now go read the front page of today’s Globe reporting last years MAPS scores (MIssouri Apptitude Performance Scores). 50% of our students in Joplin lack proficency in both math and english at the K12 level of education. The good news it that those scores are up from 20% in such proficency from ten years ago. But we sure as hell have a lot of ground to get where we need to be, do we not, for today’s world.

    In the meantime, how do you “make work” for the undereducated or undertrained for first those that really need such help. And then what to be done for the huge pile of those that refuse to seek our use the help provided (I call them WILL NOTS)?

    Anson

    America today needs a change in intellectual APPTITUDE. But the only way that I know to get that increase in apptitude is to change the ATTITUDE of many Americans,the attitude of WILL NOTS.

    Now go figure out a way to do that and lots of great things might happen, like lowering HC costs to start with.

    Anson

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    • Jim Wheeler says:

      Anson,

      You must know that I agree with you on the education aspect of the unemployment problem. Just last night I saw a segment about the booming oil industry in North Dakota. They are begging for workers, but they need workers who can think, communicate and calculate, and our schools for complex reasons simply aren’t providing what is needed. In a way, I endorse your disparagement of what you call “WILL NOTS”, although I think that term misses the point a little. “Will Not” implies simple sloth. But I think it is more complicated than that. American society has, I submit, morphed into a bunch of softies. The old toughness, borne of hardship and self-denial is now softness and a pandering sort of entitlement mentality. The symptoms are many. Lowering every flag in Missouri because of the death from a roadside bomb of a single soldier. A proliferation of military medals having nothing to do with heroism. A consistent pattern of grade-creep in schools that rewards mediocre performance. Honor roll lists for high schools and colleges that take up almost a full page of fine print.

      Young people don’t want to work hard, as in taking engineering, science or even hard business courses. Instead, the majority want easier subjects and the colleges are catering to them, touting the meme that a college education is the key to high-paying jobs. It has become the key to deep debt, not jobs.

      Another example of pandering softness was a series on ABC News about “Hunger in America” last week. It aired two episodes and then vanished. Why? I don’t know, but I couldn’t help noticing that the first episode showed mostly children, apparently healthy but complaining of not knowing where their next meal was coming from. The second episode featured a poor couple showing off their bare larder – but they were both OBESE! I can’t help but think that ABC cancelled the series because they couldn’t find any people who looked hungry. Talk about irony!

      You know, despite all our disparagement of schools I can not find it in myself to blame only educators. This softness pervades American culture now, and I’m wondering if this is simply what you get when life has been too easy. Compare the Greatest Generation to today’s generation – the difference is huge. Maybe this GR is just part of the natural cycle, hardship that will eventually restore some toughness. I wonder.

      Jim

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  3. Jim,

    Again, for fear of tainting you in the eyes of your readership, I like your last two posts a lot. You know I agree with your assertion that it should be fix the jobs problem first, get the economy going strong, and then tackle the long-term deficit problem. (I have been telling Anson for more than two years now that his deficit “cliff,” if there is one, is not just ahead.) By the way, the deficit is actually decreasing this year compared to last, a decrease, I think, of something like 6%, and yet no uptick in jobs Decreasing the deficit is actually taking money out of the economy, something most economists say is not prudent.

    In this post, Jim, I especially like the highway driving comparison to money. Being naturally fearful of depending on others to stay on their side of the road, I have often thought about the amount of trust involved in a simple drive on two-lane highways. My wife is on those kind of roads every working day and many of them don’t have shoulders, no margin for error. It is amazing how we have evolved a sort of trust that the other guy will stay on his side.

    What is happening in our country now, it seems to me, is a profound lack of trust in our elected officials that they will not swerve their car into the other guy’s partisan lane and have a head on, just because it will stop the other guy from getting to where he is going. While most Americans don’t expect everyone to travel in the same lane or in the same direction, I think they do expect they will follow the rules of the road and not cause harm on purpose.

    And you know where I am going here. There is one party that knows that doing nothing about jobs right now, in terms of government spending of the kind you have defended, is detrimental to the economy. And harming the economy, swerving into Obama’s lane, seems to be their only way back in power.

    Duane

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  4. ansonburlingame says:

    To both,

    If I wrote, as Jim did above the following: “American society has, I submit, morphed into a bunch of softies. The old toughness, borne of hardship and self-denial is now softness and a pandering sort of entitlement mentality. The symptoms are many.” I would be called just about every name in the book by commenters on Duane’s blog.

    It is the “softness”, written by Jim that explicitedly defines “WILL NOTS” in my view. They are people that for whatever reason refuse to exert themselves in many different ways to “rise to the challenges at hand”, day to difficult day. Be it a student “goofing off” in school, a worker “slacking off” on the job, the unemployed that refuses to look for work, just about any work, the parent that chooses to watch TV with a beer in hand rather than throw a ball in the backyard with a kid or help with their homework, and and the list goes on.

    Maybe six or seven years ago I substituted in a Middle School class, the most outrageous group of young boys and girls that I ever encountered. It was a very “bad” day for all of us. I did not know Duane at the time, but his son was in that class. He was one of the few that did not join the crowd. I think I know why after later meeting Duane and reading his blogs implying the attention he has given to just that one young man today.

    I could then reflect today on one of the more aggressive and outrageous boys in that same class today. No matter how much money was given to that school or even his parents, I bet that “kid” is a dropout and “slug” today. It does not take a genious to “see it coming” and we have all seen the results over our professional careers when such “kids” are unleashed on society.

    Find a job for a WILL NOT today and you are wasting money in my view. Attitude comes before apptitude in my view and one does not have to be genetically “smart” to have a great attitude. That can be TAUGHT or people can be TRAINED to approach each daily task being the best that they can be.

    And when their “best” is no enough, well there you have a CANNOT and we as a society must do all we can do to provide the help to find a good place for them in our society. THERE is were the empathy and sympathy must be focused and the money as well.

    Now just consider this simple thought. Unemployment today is 9.1%. Actually it is closer to 25% with all things considered. How many of those millions of people are WILL NOTS vs CANNOTS? My guess is around 75% fall into the WILL NOT category but I have no way, other than looking at individuals, to make such a determination. And of course my standards to make such a judgment will be different from yours probably.

    You look perhaps at the conditions of individuals while I try to see the underlying causes of such conditions before I get out my own checkbook, or tutoring skills, or counseling to an alcoholic, etc. Government for sure cannot distinguish such “attitudes” and is racked over the coals when it tries to do so, like drug testing for…..

    Anson

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    • Jim Wheeler says:

      Anson, you said,

      You look perhaps at the conditions of individuals while I try to see the underlying causes of such conditions . . .

      I was hoping you might help identify such “causes”, but you did not, nor did you comment on my own theory, that societal softness is the product of prosperity. It seems to me that today’s gene pool must be the same as it was a half century ago. It’s not the raw material, it’s the way it was brought up, just as you allude relative to Duane’s son. However, I can testify from personal experience that you can raise two children the exact same way and get results that are markedly opposite. I think it’s genetic variability. But if that’s true, then the home environment wouldn’t matter at all and any teacher knows that isn’t true. Other variables include peer group behavior and I happen to think that is likely stronger than even parental behavior.

      Considerable study has been done by psychologists relative to the nature (genes) vs. nurture (upbringing) question, and at least one study concluded that by adulthood, behavior is largely determined by genetic factors. But that runs counter to what I want to believe, i.e., that upbringing matters. There’s an interesting Wiki page on it (but no firm answers):

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nature_versus_nurture

      Bottom line, society has changed markedly in yours and my lifetime. The Greatest Generation wanted a society in which their children and grandchildren would be “better off” than they were. Well, they are indeed much better off, but primarily in a material sense, right? The possession of things, the mobility of the automobile and the comfort of appliances and air conditioning. But the home environment is much different with the mother also working and dinner together virtually a thing of the past. I wonder how much that matters? My instinct is, a lot, but there are too many variables to know for sure. But I submit, it is just possible that the “better off” meme is a primary factor in why today’s society is less tough. Do you think it might simply have gotten carried too far?

      By the way, I agree that separating WILL NOTS from CAN NOTS is virtually impossible. There are for example many people, including wounded veterans, who suffer from conditions that require handicapped parking spaces and the electric carts now often supplied at government expense. But I find myself feeling angry and resentful when I see people shopping in electric carts who at least appear to be in that condition solely because of gluttony. Similarly, I see many people parking in handicapped spaces, placards displayed, who appear to have no mobility problems at all. I see it all as symptomatic of our soft society, but I don’t know how to fix it.

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  5. ansonburlingame says:

    Jim,

    What I pointed out was fix the attitude of WILL NOTs and the apptitude will follow.

    Anson

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  6. Anson, Jim,

    You know, I have thought about this “soft” stuff for a while now, and while I’m very reluctant to generalize, I’m afraid I just don’t see it as big a problem as you two do. If you look back at every generation, commenting on the generation before it, I think you will find the same thing: the youngsters are not as tough or as whatever as we were. I think you can even go back to the ancient Greeks!

    Do I think my sons are as tough as I was? Nope. But my dad didn’t think I was as tough as he was either. I’m guessing his father thought the same thing of him. It can’t be, as I think Jim suggested, that the gene pool has changed all that much in the past century or so, and I suggest it can’t be that the changes in culture have so drastically altered group behavior that it is fair to label the latest generation as “soft.”

    Yes, I do think there are some challenges in our society, but many of them come with the size and complexity of our culture, not just because of our prosperity or because we have indulged the population with handouts. Sure, those things play a part in the dynamics of any sociological phenomenon large enough to measure, but think about the reverse: If mere hardship developed toughness and independence, if daily struggle to survive enabled people to be more self-reliant, then the unfortunate folks spread all over Africa would be the toughest, most self-reliant people on the face of the earth.

    There are a lot of factors in play, a lot of things that go into large-group behavior, and I’m not discounting the fact that our relative prosperity or our social safety net do not alter behavior in important ways. But look around here in Joplin, up in Vermont, or down in Texas. I have heard folks from all three areas—very different parts of the country—say essentially the same thing during the disasters that have befallen them: People “around here” are one tough, resourceful people.

    Duane

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    • Jim Wheeler says:

      Duane,

      You have some interesting points here. First of all, I agree that it is natural for each generation to look on the next as less mature, because they are, obviously, and it would be natural to equate maturity with toughness. Sure, I buy that. But then you say,

      If mere hardship developed toughness and independence, if daily struggle to survive enabled people to be more self-reliant, then the unfortunate folks spread all over Africa would be the toughest, most self-reliant people on the face of the earth.

      You know what, I think Africans just might be pretty damned tough, albeit not very long-lived or healthy. But there is a reason why this is not a valid comparison. It is because toughness and self-reliance alone don’t result in success and prosperity. You also need freedom from oppression, a non-corrupt government, a system of capitalistic laws in which business can thrive and equity be acquired, and a free press. All or most of those elements are missing in most of Africa. As you say, there are a lot of factors in play.

      I have heard a lot of self-praise for restoring Joplin lately, and a few examples have been mentioned in the press, such as the fellow who was personally rebuilding his house a few days after the tornado, but I can’t help but notice the fabulous clean-up FEMA managed for us, nor the temporary housing rising south of the airport replete with all the utilities and even storm shelters. We are not exactly on our own here, are we? We are awash in cash aid, both federal and state, swimming in insurance money, and swamped by volunteers of all stripes.

      As I said and you acknowledged, the raw genetic material is probably unchanged, but I am still convinced that the societal meme has changed, and changed a lot. Modern life is chock full of distractions, is it not? I see people, at least those still employed, mainly concerned about the next iPod, iPad, Thursday night football, high school prom, family picnic, etc. Wouldn’t you agree that there are very few cogent letters to the editor for our area population of some 200,000? Until the GR few people had much reason to ponder deeply about the big questions of life simply because those things were seen as stable. Social Security was in place, people had their 401(k)’s or an employer retirement plan, we had an all-volunteer military and so there was no worry about being drafted, almost anyone could get a job. Only since the GR have some of those things begun to change significantly, but the cultural changes have been underway since the 1960’s. They are, I submit, deeply embedded in the psyche of the body politic.

      We agree on the raw material, Duane, but I am convinced that the culture has undergone a devolution that will be difficult to reverse without a profound failure of the financial system. Or a catastrophic event like a real war or attack by WMD’s – those would likely do it too.

      Jim

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  7. Jim,

    A cultural devolution? I suppose that’s one way of looking at it. But that’s only if you begin from the premise that culture’s best days were when you and I were young or when our parents were young or when our grandparents were. I just don’t concede the truth of that premise.

    Call me an incurable optimist, but in so many ways—though certainly not in every way—far from devolution, we are evolving into a much better society, assuming the current economic sluggishness is temporary. I have been reading a lot about the Great Depression, so maybe that’s why I don’t see the current problems as earthshaking as others do.

    We have much less poverty compared to only a couple of generations ago; working conditions and living conditions are so much better than our grandparents knew; food production is stunning; medical “miracles” are aplenty; life-enhancing technology proceeds apace; and that’s just a few things. The transition to a post-industrial economy, if that is what you want to call it, is messy, but I’m confident things will normalize.

    Oddly, the fact that we do seem to have culturally evolved into a much more interdependent society I find a good thing. Sure, it in some ways makes us more reliant on others to thrive, but how else can a large, complex society function? We’re not farmers anymore.

    I respectfully submit that you (and Anson) are making a little too much of our latest economic crisis, at least as it impacts things like the “softness” you guys claim “pervades” the culture. Now, in terms of our politics, I agree that the GR has had some profound effects, although we don’t know how long they will last after things return to normal, “new” or otherwise.

    Duane

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    • Jim Wheeler says:

      Duane,

      What we started out discussing here is unemployment – why it’s here and what to do about it. In my post I had noted that the nature of money, on which society is structured, requires that every capable person do something productive so as to uphold the collective confidence in the economy. Anson then noted, correctly, that a principal underlying cause of unemployment was the failure of the education system to produce the kinds of workers that science and technology needs. He also complained about a problem with attitudes on the part of what he calls “will-nots”. That prompted me to muse about culture and how it has changed.

      What changed in our culture? The world changed after WW II. The nature of war was changed by nuclear weapons. The draft was eliminated after Vietnam and the Cold War ended with a whimper rather than a bang. Stress was reduced in society and with the global economy life got easier – softer if you will. Material good got steadily cheaper in inflation-adjusted terms, at least until a decade or so ago. And one enduring meme throughout was the desire that each generation should have a “better” life than the one before. That desire came to be expressed in material terms, but came at the expense (in my opinion) of a decline in the quality of the family, primarily the transition of the wife from home to workplace.

      It well may be that the most desirable culture for America is the one you envision, Duane. “Softness” might not be all that bad in the complex, interdependent society you picture, although I must note that you are defining it primarily in materialistic terms. How much stuff is enough? Can there be too much? I hear a little voice in the back of my mind that this just might not be the best goal for humankind. I am reminded of the “World State” in Aldous Huxley’s novel, Brave New World. It was described thusly,

      The World State is built upon the principles of Henry Ford’s assembly line—mass production, homogeneity, predictability, and consumption of disposable consumer goods.

      Huxley’s world wasn’t perfect – it was a laid-back, drug-suffused, indolent society run by a tiny elite that had retained a sense of creativity and ambition. Is this the future to which we aspire? Or was William Blake correct that we were not designed for such complacence?

      “Without contraries is no progression. Attraction and repulsion, reason and energy, love and hate, are necessary to human existence.”

      But getting back to the original issue, that soft, pleasant society appears to me to be part of the unemployment problem, and as long as money and economics work the way they do, it will continue to be. Which was the point of the post. So if it’s not culture that is at the root of the education problem, what is it?

      Like

      • John Erickson says:

        An interesting set of stats was reported on by Fox News, concerning the living conditions of poverty. Refrigerators, TVs, and microwaves were found in nearly 90% of households below the poverty line (I forget the original source, sorry). While I don’t support Fox’s use of this to show that poor people aren’t really poor, it does show that our level of “comfort” has definitely increased. (Central air was in the upper 70th percentile while central heat touched 90%, if I recall.) Compare that to the 50s for the basic appliances, and even to the recent 80s for the proliferation of TVs and microwaves. I would also float the idea of how many 20-somethings or 30-somethings could do basic wiring in their house, basic auto mechanics (no computers, I’ll give that), or even have basic survival skills like knowing where to get water and food in a “stranded at home” scenario (snowstorms).
        I’m not saying that these skills are indicative of either “go-getter” status or intelligence. I just thought it was an interesting comparison with times past, and how “non-basic” skills like computer operation and information management have replaced what our fathers (especially mine!) would refer to as “gumption”, and how the definition of “basic necessities for living” have changed and expanded.

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        • Jim Wheeler says:

          I am a little confused by your comment, John, and you don’t provide a link to the Fox News stats. Are you saying that most currently “poor” people do NOT know how to do basic wiring, fix the car or prepare for disasters? That would be interesting, but how do they know? Some kind of poll? And if so, did the news item speculate about why? I must say that the current crop of thieves seems pretty savvy so I will be inclined to question Fox’s findings.

          As to the definition of “poverty”, I think everybody understands how that has changed over the years. In 1933, poverty was when you were down to your last apple. In 2011, it is when your microwave breaks. 😆 Just to be clear, I attribute the change to science, productivity, technology, and most of all to cheap, cheap, cheap labor provided by the global marketplace.

          Jim

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        • Jim Wheeler says:

          PS, by thieves being savvy I was referring to how quickly they can strip a car or a power substation of copper.

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      • John Erickson says:

        Sorry, Jim, I should’ve clarified a couple things. The study was reported on the TV version of Fox several days ago, and (my bad) I didn’t take the time to find the link. And they only gave the breakdowns of items possessed – the observations of lacking necessary skills was mine, made on the basis of observations of my neighbors and friends both in Chicago and down here in Ohio (admittedly VERY unscientific).
        My point about the “owning stuff” was just to reinforce the newer cultural concept of what is necessary, that even poor people enjoy a much higher standard of living than what my father experienced growing up in the 30s. (Yes, it was a re-tread of what you said, just giving examples.) My point about the skills is that the things people used to know were for hard physical work and tough economic times, whereas modern skills are more oriented toward skills used during more prosperous times. (If you can afford a mechanic, who cares if you can fix your own brakes?) The new skill set, while relying less on physical skill and thus looking “softer”, aren’t necessarily easier than knowing how to plum a toilet, for instance – they’re different, not tougher or easier.
        Did that make it any clearer? My apologies, I’m more than a bit stoned right now, compliments of a bad couple days of headaches. I babble when I’m drugged, whether verbally or in type. Sorry to inflict my scrambled neurons on you! 🙂

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  8. ansonburlingame says:

    To all,

    Over the period of time, two or three generations that we discuss above, what is the thing that stands out?

    To me it is the growth in the federal government. OK, we had SS of a sort, a solvent SS say right after WWII. And after that war, actually during that war, we took off economically with extraordinary growth. Women had entered the workforce during the war to make “airplanes”, etc. and a lot of them remained. Returning troops flooded an expanding workforce as well AND many moved to higher levels of education via the GI Bill and later became leaders in business and society. America, as the “last man standing” (physically untouched by the war) BOOMED.

    During that boom we kept wartime levels of taxation for a while and paid off the war debt as well without “bleeding” our former enemies dry (as European victors did to German after WWI). In fact we sustained both devastated allies and former enemies with the Marshal Plan. Did we do so out of altruism of just hard nosed common sense to create a new market for America?

    America moved into its hayday, internationally, after WWII and was unchallenged anywhere except by the raw military power and nuclear weapons of the Soviet Union. After about 40 years we overcame that threat as well.

    The “generation” that achieved such things for America is correctly called our Greatest Generation, the one of my father, the folks that survived the Great Depression and then won a huge war by mobilizing a UNITED country. We the people, beginning in late 1941 stood shoulder to shoulder on the battlefield and at home to win that war and THEN continued to work together politically to build the most powerful economic engine ever seen by mankind.

    At least that is the way that I read that phase of our history in America.

    Look at America ten years after Pearl Harbor. Then look today at America ten years after 9/11

    Anyone that cannot see the stark differences between then and now must be blind.

    Now why is that the case one must ask.

    I have my ideas related to federal growth and power. But I am sure you have different ones as well.

    People stopped saving for themselves over time and now expect the federal government to save for them in terms of SS, Medicare, “emergencies” while folks still work, etc.

    But the government does not save anything either, now, does it? Nope, government borrows today to “survive” in the form that we the people, over time, came to demand.

    Anson

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