Friday, May 25, 2007

Bye Bye U.S. Republic

As we enter the Memorial Day weekend, I'd like to strongly suggest folks pick up a copy of Chalmers Johnson's, "Nemesis: The Last Days of The American Republic." If, for some reason, you think purchasing the aforesaid treatise simply isn't in your plans, perhaps you will consider acquiring the June 14th edition of the New York Review of Books instead. In Nemesis, Mr. Johnson makes striking comparisons between the present geo-political incarnation of the U.S. empire and that of Great Britian and Rome at their respective imperial zeniths. His comparisons are compelling, and though they represent the better part of the foundation for his argument, they are by no means all he has to offer by way of evidence to buttress his thesis that the American Republic is, in fact, in terminal decline.

For those who wish to see, none too veiled signs abound to indicate that the United States has indeed ceased to function as anything but a facsimile of a Republic. Indeed, evidence can be found in more pedestrian realms than those where the conduct of U.S. Foreign policy claims center stage. Por ejemplo, the realm of government statistics, particularly that area that pertains to the general economy, is a marvelously fertile field in which to locate appalling signs of rot. As some great sage once observed about the waging of war, "The truth is always the first casualty." Apparently this is also the case with respect to the official calculation and reportage of economic statistics in a decrepit Republic. Here in what was once proudly referred to as Freedom's Land, official tabulations of employment, consumer and producer price levels, general economic growth, and productivity, home sales, home prices, commodity prices, and on and on and on, are buried beneath moutains of statistical piffle such as hedonic price adjustments, seasonal adjustments, Birth-Death models, and many other metrics that seem designed to do nothing so much as make the U.S. turd blossom economy appear to look, act, and smell like a rose blossom.

The whole process has become such a sham that when official numbers are released, markets often behave as if there was no news released at all. Such was the case earlier this week when the latest real estate sales asserted that home sales had risen 16% percent last month. Even the most casual observer of the ongoing housing debacle could immediately see that such numbers were more reminiscent of the product of a boiler room operation than, say, the United States Commerce Department. As such, the stock market greeted the news with a severe across the board markdown of real estate investments. Such is day to day life in a Republic whose days remaining as a Republic are numbered.

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