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1. The Crisis of Profligacy 
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Post Re: 1. The Crisis of Profligacy
Robert Tulip wrote:
This is certainly a tough assessment, and malignant is a harsh word. I wonder what Barack Obama would think of it?

I wonder, too, and I agree that the assessment is tough and perhaps too harsh. I don't think Barack Obama could do very much to change our concept of what constitutes a standard of living, even if he agrees with Bacevich. Politically, it would be just too great a distance from the positions he campaigned on. He could perhaps make some progress by stealth.



Sat Nov 22, 2008 10:38 am
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You don't feel that an increase to the cost of living through increased taxation will produce the desired effect and reduce Americas inflated standard of living? Or will he have to come out and tell everyone to stop living like they currently expect to be able to?

I'm am interested in what form this new "hard-times" culture will take on, perhaps a little more Bacevich style of contemplation and a little less infatuation with the BSpears school of thought? Or is that simply too much to ask?



Mon Dec 01, 2008 12:47 am
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Currently, over-consumption is a fundamental part of the overall economy. For example, people are currently spending less on holiday shopping because of fears regarding the economic downturn. As a result, the retail sector will have a weak fourth quarter, making the economic problems worse. Similarly, after the 9/11 attacks, Bush encouraged Americans to shop, even though most individuals would be better off if they saved more.

As Bacevich observes, this nation does focus excessively on material consumption. Since that attitude is baked into the economy, societal mindsets, media, and politics, it will be very difficult to change. Besides, as someone who's better off financially than most Americans, it's difficult for me to criticize someone who wants to live as comfortably as I do.



Mon Dec 01, 2008 2:22 am
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How is it that these companies, in say the retail or automotive sectors, can profit for so long and yet remain so fundamentally weak when facing losses?

Where is the natural moderation of the supply-demand economic model we were promised? Or has the system become so supply dominated that it is impossible for these highly pervasive companies to find a balance between their supply chain systems (direct from China of course) and what people are willing to consume (not much right at the moment), even now when they need to engage in a balancing act more than ever?



Mon Dec 01, 2008 9:45 am
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Grim wrote:
You don't feel that an increase to the cost of living through increased taxation will produce the desired effect and reduce Americas inflated standard of living? Or will he have to come out and tell everyone to stop living like they currently expect to be able to?
I'm am interested in what form this new "hard-times" culture will take on, perhaps a little more Bacevich style of contemplation and a little less infatuation with the BSpears school of thought? Or is that simply too much to ask?

I didn't hear even Democrats saying they would raise taxes, except on the wealthiest sector. I don't think Obama's going to raise the income tax on the 90% of us earning below $250,000. I wish, though, that a gasoline tax would be instituted, at least $1.00 per gallon. This would still mean we'd paying less than when gas was a its highest a couple of months ago.

I don't think the problem is the that U.S. standard of living is obscenely high. We don't rank in the top five in the world, according to lists I saw. So what is it about our economy that is different from that of wealthier countries? Is it, as you suggest with Britney Spears, that our culture and economy combine to create a product--American culture--that is probably our biggest export right now (and not one to be very proud of)? Is it that we still consume a lot more than citizens in wealthier countries, often going into major debt to do it? Is it that we simply celebrate consuming more than any other country? It could be that countries like China are catching up to us in this regard.



Mon Dec 01, 2008 8:15 pm
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