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Old 09-08-2008, 10:33 PM
 
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I would like to pose the question of whether or not the United States is caught in such a position that dependence upon foreign sources of energy, goods, food, and monies has led us to become an inadvertent imperial state? If so, do you believe that there is a way to break our dependence upon foreign states, or even if we should?
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Old 09-08-2008, 11:20 PM
 
Location: wrong planet
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I think the US could substantially lower their dependence on oil, food and goods from other countries. But this would require a complete change of life for most of us. No more living "in the country" if you work in the city... no more huge gas guzzling vehicles, etc. The focus should be on conserving energy and alternative renewable energy.

Instead of "developing" rural land we should encourage family farms and produce food here in the US, instead of buying it from overseas. We are losing farm land daily. With rising energy costs food prices will continue to rise, we need to buy as much local as possible. However, people that want strawberries in January, Mangos in December etc. would have to do without.

People also would have to live within their means, something most have not learned. It would be a huge change and it would not be painless, but it could be done to a large extent. Instead of filling their houses with cheap junk made in China, they would have to buy more expensive goods produced here, but this would give us jobs for those that do not have a college education.

I think it will not be a question of "should we?" - unless we want to bancrupt ourselves by paying for continued wars over resources, we need to make this change. The sooner the better. The party is over.
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Old 09-08-2008, 11:47 PM
 
Location: Sacramento
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Most efficient productivity requires optimization of that which you produce best. No country can do everything well, you need to make economic tradeoffs.

Interdependence is generally fine with me, where we depend upon other and they upon us. To effectively accomplish this, agreements need to be developed concerning minimum standards, for things such as the prohibition on the use of child or slave labor, pollution and monopolization of resources.

Optimal national growth and stability results from being able to provide goods to other country growth markets too.
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Old 09-09-2008, 02:53 AM
 
Location: Not where you ever lived
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I think it hinges on what side of globalization you are on. We are a "throw away" nation of debtors. As long as we buy new items with the diea of throwing them away when they are not popular we will remain a slave to cheap junk sold by a global retail company that barely pays minimum wage to its employees.

I remember when American made appliances lasted 20 years. Now its hard to find one that will last ten.

Our farmers are aging. Family farms are being sold for new developments bvause the kids don't want to toil and till. I'ts a deux mixtue that I fear cannot be sorted out quickly or easily. .
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Old 09-09-2008, 07:21 AM
 
Location: Sugar Grove, IL
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I think we could make great strides in developing American resources if the government were to invest in our own country. part of the problem here is that the american consumer is always looking for the cheapest prices. That has lead to the import of so much foreign merchandise. The Labor Unions in this country were formed at a time when the worker truly needed protection. However, over time, unions have forced a lot of wage increases, etc on the manufacturers and have driven up prices. Foreign countries have capitalized on this with their cheap labor, cheap prices and american consumers have shifted their loyalties to the dollar savings as opposed to purchasing american-made products. Also, due to various tax burdens, etc, too many American companies have shifted their production to foreign countries, thus eliminating too many american jobs. The government should be encouraging american companies to innovate and get production of quality products back in our country.
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Old 09-09-2008, 07:57 AM
 
Location: Montrose, CA
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Family farms have been mentioned a couple of times already, and I'd like to chime in on that. There's a reason that they're disappearing -- their time has passed. Working a farm for a living is a back-breaking task, which if you break even financially from year to year you're doing well. It's 24/7 365 day a year job, and frankly small farms just aren't efficient enough producers to be economically viable. And don't even get me started on farm subsidies...farmers being paid to not work? How ridiculous is that?

Larger farms = more production, better efficiency.
Small family farms = institution whose day has passed.
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Old 09-09-2008, 08:04 AM
 
2,180 posts, read 3,186,564 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TnHilltopper View Post
I would like to pose the question of whether or not the United States is caught in such a position that dependence upon foreign sources of energy, goods, food, and monies has led us to become an inadvertent imperial state? If so, do you believe that there is a way to break our dependence upon foreign states, or even if we should?
I don't believe our country's 'imperialist' leanings are a result of our dependence on those foreign resources. Rather, I believe that that they are part and parcel of our national heritage and identity.

This divides the question a bit. In terms of dependence on foreign resources, while I freely grant that we take, borrow, and purchase from hither, thither, and yon, we are hardly the only country whose economic well-being is deeply involved with that of other countries. The island nations of Japan and England are also great importers.

http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/tdrc/...n00/graph2.pdf
This chart shows combined exports and imports as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product for the U.S., Canada, and Mexico from 1980 - 1994. (Haven't seen a more recent one, yet.) Among the things it shows is that exports and imports are a far larger aspect of the Canadian and Mexican economies than of ours.

It is not our dependence that is behind the degree of influence we have, whether imperialistic or not - it is the overall magnitude of our nation's wealth when coupled with both a willingness to spend that wealth and an ability to produce that which others want.
*********

The other side of the question, then, is why are we imperialistic (or perceived as such)?

To me, this question is rooted in two very different places. The first of them is our view of the United States of America as a noble experiment, leader of the free world, foremost democracy, etc. "We're number one!" So long as we continue to perceive it to be our duty to help other countries or peoples, we will continue to be imperialistic. The U.S. people, to a far greater extent than I suspect they are consciously aware of, believe in noblesse oblige - and that we are the nobles who are so obligated.

The second component of our imperialistic appearance derives from one of our exports. We, more than any other nation currently, and possibly in history, export culture.

Without movies, television, and music, our import/export balance would be far more out of kilter than it is - but we do have those three. And our movies and television, in particular, change the world. Our language, our images, our (seeming) culture, and especially our attitudes are communicated through the visual and spoken media, invading and pervading other parts of the globe, to the point of resentment even as their eyes are glued to the screens.

This effect is exacerbated because those self-same images and words include our implicit message of inherent superiority and, again, that "we are here to help (or save) you." (With the only worse thing being the images and words that instead say "We could help or save you, but we choose not to.")
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Old 09-09-2008, 09:14 AM
 
11,128 posts, read 12,372,439 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by katzenfreund View Post
People also would have to live within their means, something most have not learned. It would be a huge change and it would not be painless, but it could be done to a large extent. Instead of filling their houses with cheap junk made in China, they would have to buy more expensive goods produced here, but this would give us jobs for those that do not have a college education
I believe we know it, but that we simply deny it. It is difficult at the citizen level to say purchase more expensive American made goods when budgets are tight and choices are limited because of this. This is a cause and effect that requires time scales in decades and American culture has tended to favor viewing the future in terms of fiscal quarters instead of decades or generations.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NewToCA View Post
Interdependence is generally fine with me, where we depend upon other and they upon us.

Optimal national growth and stability results from being able to provide goods to other country growth markets too.
In the case of the most obvious resource that I at least feel is driving this situation is petroleum. America, with 5% of the worlds population using 26% of the global petroleum is radically disproportionate. To the extent that there are number of nations who produce petroleum for nearly all of the worlds market, they could deny dealing with the US and they would still have a market. The US on the other hand cannot go without as our entire society is based around cheap energy. In the case of Middle East oil producers, these are in the hands of small groups and families in most cases, so they would be forced to only make billions per month instead of tens of billions per month, and I suspect they would manage.

I assert that if it were just simple interdependence, the United States would be able to leverage its demand against Middle East producers and there would be an equal or near equal manner of sanction, but this is not the case.

Quote:
Originally Posted by linicx View Post
Our farmers are aging. Family farms are being sold for new developments bvause the kids don't want to toil and till. I'ts a deux mixtue that I fear cannot be sorted out quickly or easily. .
There is a technological revolution taking place in farming that requires fewer farmers to produce the same amount of production per acre. I will continue this response in a minute.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sgresident View Post
I think we could make great strides in developing American resources if the government were to invest in our own country. part of the problem here is that the american consumer is always looking for the cheapest prices.

The government should be encouraging american companies to innovate and get production of quality products back in our country.
Without a doubt and I will address this in my final comments.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SuSuSushi View Post
Larger farms = more production, better efficiency.
Small family farms = institution whose day has passed.
Only problem with relying on this as the sole model of agricultural production is the loss of diversity. In order for those large mega farms to maintain their competitive edge, they tend to be mono-crop oriented. (do one thing and do it really well) There is certainly a place for community and small scale farming as it brings diverse goods to localized populations at a reasonable cost because you are not required to ship your product as far. With the cost of fuel what it is today, this can add up to quite substantial additional cost.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jps-teacher View Post
I don't believe our country's 'imperialist' leanings are a result of our dependence on those foreign resources. Rather, I believe that that they are part and parcel of our national heritage and identity.

It is not our dependence that is behind the degree of influence we have, whether imperialistic or not - it is the overall magnitude of our nation's wealth when coupled with both a willingness to spend that wealth and an ability to produce that which others want.
*********

This effect is exacerbated because those self-same images and words include our implicit message of inherent superiority and, again, that "we are here to help (or save) you." (With the only worse thing being the images and words that instead say "We could help or save you, but we choose not to.")
There is an interesting thing that has occurred, whether by accident or otherwise, that we as a society of people do very much have a romantic Rousseau, "noble savage" view of the world. I believe part of this is from our population being isolated by two great oceans, east and west, and two friendly nations north and south. Our population is simply not part of the rest of the world in any direct manner due to geography.

In any event, I see a common theme of many that there is a desire to decrease our dependency on foreign sources of energy, goods, etc... What I don't really understand is why so few people don't see this as an opportunity to not only lead the world in cutting edge technology, but to also lead in the prosperity that would ensue from leading the world in these technologies.

While I highly doubt the United States could be totally self sufficient at this level of societal development, I do believe that we could do this in key areas. Energy and food, being the most important. In addition to the security that comes without having to rely on the most tumultuous region of the globe to supply your most important resource, I believe there is great wealth and advancement in this area. However it would take a serious commitment of just not the government but also from the people.
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Old 09-09-2008, 10:02 AM
 
Location: Sacramento
13,755 posts, read 23,213,984 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TnHilltopper View Post
In the case of the most obvious resource that I at least feel is driving this situation is petroleum. America, with 5% of the worlds population using 26% of the global petroleum is radically disproportionate. To the extent that there are number of nations who produce petroleum for nearly all of the worlds market, they could deny dealing with the US and they would still have a market. The US on the other hand cannot go without as our entire society is based around cheap energy. In the case of Middle East oil producers, these are in the hands of small groups and families in most cases, so they would be forced to only make billions per month instead of tens of billions per month, and I suspect they would manage.

I assert that if it were just simple interdependence, the United States would be able to leverage its demand against Middle East producers and there would be an equal or near equal manner of sanction, but this is not the case.
Two points I would want to make here. First off, my response was to the objective of how international economics should (and can) work, vs the actual situation of this very moment. Second, current production is very different from capacity.

Aside from the obvious ability to drill in Alaska and offshore, we have many different sources for oil, and the alternative production methods (such as biomass) are rapidly becoming economically feasible. In the very near term, sugar based ethanol from Brazil and Argentina can also be significantly increased without impacting food production, as can oil from the Alberta Oil Sands.

Along with smart use of energy, which is also approaching a near term solution (our many discussions about electric motors in vehicles) I just don't see a long term problem negating the benefits of international economic interdependence. I agree we have to overcome stupid political decisions, but we seem to be getting a bit smarter (finally).

NationMaster - Oil > Production (most recent) by country
NationMaster - Oil reserves (most recent) by country

http://www.energy.gov.ab.ca/OilSands/oilsands.asp

Last edited by NewToCA; 09-09-2008 at 10:17 AM.. Reason: added a link
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Old 09-09-2008, 10:19 AM
 
2,180 posts, read 3,186,564 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TnHilltopper View Post
There is an interesting thing that has occurred, whether by accident or otherwise, that we as a society of people do very much have a romantic Rousseau, "noble savage" view of the world. I believe part of this is from our population being isolated by two great oceans, east and west, and two friendly nations north and south. Our population is simply not part of the rest of the world in any direct manner due to geography.
This is, for the most part, not all that different from either Mexico or Canada. Mexico, if anything, has had fewer problems with its neighbor to the South than we with ours. And Canada has only one bordering nation to deal with! Yet, neither of them has developed that same attitude, to the best of my knowledge.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TnHilltopper View Post
In any event, I see a common theme of many that there is a desire to decrease our dependency on foreign sources of energy, goods, etc...
While I agree that there is a general desire to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and money (and goods, but to a far lesser extent), I perceive one huge stumbling block.

The desire is not for me to reduce [/i]my dependence on foreign resources, but for them to reduce theirs. Other people are profligate, and they should do something about that!

We are very much caught up in a belief that some nameless third party is screwing things up for the rest of us, and if only they would stop, things would be better. It only gets worse when we finally figure out who we think that third party is, and they stop being nameless. The liberals, the conservatives, the commies, the fascists, the Japanese, the Jews, the illegal immigrants, the President, the Congress...

Just not us.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TnHilltopper View Post
What I don't really understand is why so few people don't see this as an opportunity to not only lead the world in cutting edge technology, but to also lead in the prosperity that would ensue from leading the world in these technologies.
You answered that, in part, at the outset of your comments:
Quote:
American culture has tended to favor viewing the future in terms of fiscal quarters instead of decades or generations.
I don''t know that I agree with the premise that we need to reduce our dependence on external goods and services, at least not in an optimal situation. But in a world of dwindling resources and one in which countries use access to resources as weapons, perhaps we do.

We certainly need to look further down the metaphorical road at the less direct costs of how we live and do business, but I can tell you that I am far less worried about oil/energy than I am about water - either internally to the US or between other nations and the potential for warfare as a result.
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