Dr. Forbush Thinks

Look at the world through the eyes of Dr. Forbush. He leads you through politics, religion and science asking questions and attempting to answer them....

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Location: California, United States

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Puppy Love

A while back I was watching a political comedy sketch on the subject of the Global War on Terror. I don’t remember who it was, but the point was made. At the time the British had just announced that they would be withdrawing their troops in the next year. The comedian quickly pointed out the Bush doctrine on terrorism. George W Bush has told us that if we withdraw from Iraq the terrorists will follow us home. So, this being the case it would make sense that if the British withdraw from Iraq, then the terrorists will follow them home leaving Iraq terror free.

Well Richard Clarke wrote a piece published this morning in the New York Daily News.

Richard Clarke, you should recall, was one of the terrorist experts that had warned the Bush administration that they would spend the majority of their military efforts fighting terrorism. The Bush administration laughed at Richard Clarke and proceeded to fund the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) also known as Star Wars. The lack of imagination in the Bush administration proved fatal when they finally realized that terrorists wouldn’t use missiles to cause havoc in New York City.

Richard Clarke makes the same point as the comedian that I saw. He tells us that George W Bush imagines that the terrorists are like puppy dogs. If we leave Iraq, then the terrorists will follow us home. This idea shows how flawed the logic of George W Bush is. If There was only one terrorist and he was Hell bent on attacking the nearest terrorist, then this theory might hold water. But, the point is that there are many terrorists and they are increasing as a result of active recruiting. Young Muslims might be recruited into the cause if they may be convinced of the dire need to fight for their noble religious cause. But, what could possibly convince any young person that a cause is worth dying for?

Imagine for a moment that the United States was occupied by a foreign government. Would there be any doubt that no matter what that foreign power had in mind the majority of Americans would not like the occupation. Perhaps the French would occupy us in an effort to teach us how we should care for our people. Perhaps it would be Nazi Germany offering their idea of how we should be more efficient. No matter what the foreign power had in mind we would not like it.

OK, maybe that case was a little extreme and it falls into the realm of unbelievably impossible. So, maybe something a little more believable would be the occupation of a traditionally Christian nation by a Islamic occupying force. Do you think that there might be some Americans that might believe that they were justified in dislodging the occupation. Of course they would, after all they felt justified in dislodging the occupation of oil rich Kuwait from Saddam Hussein.

Now, for one last leap of imagination, imagine that we didn’t have the military might that we currently possess. How could we fight this evil occupation without the might to dislodge it? If you can imagine that, then maybe you can understand why the young Muslims are being drawn into the terrorist ranks. The terrorists will continue to recruit more terrorists as long as we give those terrorists convincing reasons for them to use as recruiting tools. The Iraq Study Group told us this. Richard Clarke has told us this. And the Bush administration continues to ignore this.

The failure in Bush logic is that terrorists are creating more and more terrorists every day. They create them in Iraq, and Afghanistan. But, they also create them by recruiting them around the world. And, if they are created in our very own country there is no way that our borders can be protected from those who are already here. They truth is that the puppies are already here. They didn’t need to follow us home, because the anger that we provoke by our actions is a very effective recruiting tool. We don’t need to worry about the puppies following us home when they are already here.


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

Monday, April 23, 2007

How Can One Fight Immorality in the White House?

Before I start I just want to make sure that every reader understands that this is a description of a hypothetical situation for the sake of an extreme case for argument only. I am not making any statement about the current administration, or our current situation in the Middle East. That being said, I’d like to begin with the following hypothetical.

Imagine the possibility of a president with a racist perspective of world order. This has happened in the past in other countries, and it is possible that a person’s racist thought might slip through the election process. This being the case, there have been people in the past who have come to believe that a person’s race could be the problem in a conflict such as a war. For example, some person might believe that the conquering of an enemy isn’t complete until the bloodline of that country has been changed. There have been cases of this thought process even in modern times. And, if the country continues to move toward the right there could be a possibility of this very same thought process occurring in our country in the future.

Let me jump back into reality for one moment in order to make a comment. The president has made the case that congress should not “micromanage” the war in Iraq. He has told us that he is the decider and we should let him run his war and make his decisions without interference. And, when the US congress was controlled by the Republicans the president was given carte blanche in this regard. So, for several years half of the country was left out of the loop in regard to the decisions being made in regard to this war. By most polls the majority of the congress disagrees with the actions of the president. But, the president continues to assert that he is the decider and the congress has no power in limiting his ability to conduct his war in his way. The only action that he has conceded is the ability of congress to cut off funding for the war. However, the president contends that he would find money to conduct the war to the detriment of the soldiers rather than pulling them out of harms way if the funds were cut.

Now, lets jump back into the fictional world of this fictional racist president. Suppose that he instructs his army to indiscriminately kill as many men as possible and rape as many women as possible. From his racist perspective he is creating a future world in which the US will finally be able to live in peace with the children that will be the product of these rapes.

Of course this process may take quite some time and word of this process gets back to the US media. The president will of course deny that this is happening publicly, while he tells his army to lay off on the rape until the “rumors” fade away. Congress, at the behest of the American people begin to draw up laws that limit what the soldiers are allowed to do, but the president continues to deny the rapes and indiscriminate violence fights against such a law. The president says he will veto the bill. The president says that passing such a law would validate what the enemy has said, the soldiers are raping their women. Thirty-five senators support the president out of loyalty to favors the president had done for him earlier, so the law is not going to pass. Many people who support the president believe that it is just impossible for a modern American to have such racist ideas, therefore he must not be guilty. Soldiers who have returned are to ashamed to talk about the rapes if they had participated or if they knew about them.

Finally, the congress works out a deal to include some very mild language in the funding bill that suggests that rape is not in the interest of the American military in the current conflict. This language wins over three more senators, and the president curses the senate in its interference of his conduct of the war.

In this hypothetical situation, who would you side with?

Let us jump back into the real world again. Many Americans believe that the current president has conducted the policy in Iraq in the same way that he has run his businesses in his previous life - failure mode. The Iraq Study Group addressed this issue and determined that this was most certainly the case. The ISG also came up with the best plan for the US to move away from this failed policy. The ISG was almost completely ignored by the Bush administration which continues to move onward in its failed direction by adding even more lives and money to the pile that has already been wasted.

The American people have voted against the failures of this administration and they have elected a congress with a majority that opposes this administrative policy. The congress is finally beginning to speak out against the administration, and they are being called Benedict Arnolds and worse by those who support the administration. Senator Harry Reid has pointed out the true failure of the administration’s policy and the inevitable defeat if this policy is followed. He has been called a defeatist for pointing out the obvious.

What would that racist president call those who would oppose his policy of rape and murder? Would there be any different accusation? Now my fictional account is only meant to point out the point that there is some extreme action that we Americans would all agree is a president going past his authority. Maybe this president has not exceeded that authority, but maybe he has. We can not even study the issue when those who disagree are called enemy sympathizers. The accusation alone eliminates any form of Democratic debate. And, if we are to deny the Democratic debate, then what the Hell are we fighting for anyway?


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

Friday, April 20, 2007


When I was in High School I took a trip to Toronto, Ontario, Canada and I loved the city. Then about ten years later I had the opportunity to travel to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada and it was my new favorite Canadian city. I thought that it would be tough to top Vancouver, but I recently returned from Montreal, Quebec, Canada and I find it even more intriguing than Vancouver.

Now, it is quite difficult to compare any two places based on trips of less than a week in duration. And, it is especially difficult to compare cities when most of the time spent in the city is for business. Basically my comparison of the cities is based on what could be done for a few non-working hours, including eating and entertainment. And, of course I also base my attitude toward the city on the rudeness of the people that I run into along the way.

I arrived in Montreal on Saturday night and I immediately checked into my hotel got comfortable and fell asleep. The trip was about 10 hours of travel time from door to door and there was a three hour time change between California and Quebec.

I thought that if I were to work out in the morning I could get my blood to flow and perhaps I could get used to the time change a bit quicker. The Hotel had a health club, and so I ran eight miles on the treadmill. I may have overdone the workout a bit, or it might have been dehydration or caffeine withdrawal, but I didn’t feel very good for most of the day. I normally drink coffee everyday, but because of the logistics of the flight I hadn’t had coffee on Saturday, or Sunday. After working out I got together with a couple of guys from my company and we worked until mid afternoon, only pausing for lunch. But because we kept at it we finished with plenty of time to take a hike of the city before the sun went down.

Up until this point there wasn’t really anything different about Montreal and any other big Midwestern city that couldn’t accommodate us. So, the hike outside to check out the city was the first opportunity to see what Montreal was all about. Of course, a hike through a city is mainly filled with looking at typical building that occupy most cities. And, of course the route that one chooses dictates what one sees and what conclusions one may draw on that experience. But, there are special differences that every city uniquely offers. In Montreal we chose to walk to Mount Royal, a small hill by California standards that offers a view of the city from the mount. The route from our hotel was simple, travel straight up University until it ended at the Mount Royal Park. We didn’t quite know what to do once we got to the park, but we figured that there should be paths around the mount that would allow us to walk through the park, and perhaps even to the summit.

The walk up University took us through the heart of McGill University. The architecture of many of the buildings displayed imagination and attention to detail. I’m not an architectural expert, but I know how to appreciate the form as well as the function. And, as it turned out, much of the culture of Montreal appeals to the senses while keeping in mind the practical as well.

When we reached Mount Royal we found it difficult to actually enter the park. There were fences as well as gates. There were steep muddy slopes as well as gradual inclines with wheel chair accessibility. And we finally managed to find a main path that encircles the mount. Unfortunately the temperature had begun to drop while we were hiking and it had begun to sprinkle a light but steady rain. And as the cold intolerant Californians realized that they needed heat soon we aborted our mission and turned back toward the hotel. And, when we arrived back at the hotel we were drenched. But, the hike was a successful first look at this interesting city.

While we were in the city we experienced a wide range of very interesting food. I won’t go into the details of every meal that I ate, but I did have walleye, venison, duck, and salmon. I experienced maple pudding and pancakes with maple syrup. No matter what the mean price of the restaurant meals I found a very close attention paid to detail. Even when we ate at a place that specialized in BBQ ribs and chicken I found that the food was displayed with attention paid to the details. In fact, the food and the architecture have that in common - they both pay attention to both form and function. In the case of the food, it looked as good as it tasted in every case I witnessed.
If you look at the city of Montreal on the surface, or from the 27th floor of the hotel we stayed in, it would be difficult to tell the difference between Montreal and another Midwestern US city - Cleveland for example. There is quite a bit of industry. There is its port on the St. Lawrence seaway. Montreal, however, is further north than many Midwestern American cities, and therefore needed to deal with the practical problem of cold weather for more than half of the year. (At least that was before Global Warming.) And, in order to battle this practical problem a huge network of tunnels have been constructed under the city. These tunnels connect buildings and Metro stations. But, in addition to this practical application there are stores and shopping areas in these recesses below the surface of the city.

Now, if these tunnels had been constructed for the merely practical application of connecting the buildings together, one could imagine cinder block passageways, the smell of urine in a parking garage, rats running around, and waste piled knee deep. But, these passageways are clean and well kept. In certain areas the passages have carpeting, although that idea may contribute to a moldy smell. In other areas there are quite creative and artistic themes. There was an entire hallway that seems to have been lifted from “The Matrix.” Another passageway was lined with marble. And, still another looked like it once resided in a medieval castle. No matter where one walked the tunnels were safe and clean. Specific spots were labeled for use by street musicians, and they were. Like I noted above, Montreal seemed to have a good balance of both form and function. The tunnels connected most of the places anyone would want to go throughout the downtown area of Montreal. And, it connected these places to the Metro lines that could take people out into the suburbs of Montreal as well. It was a keen combination of both form and function working together.

As visitors from a far off land we found these tunnels a curious and interesting exploration. If you have ever played Dungeons and Dragons and enjoyed the exploration aspect of the game these tunnels might offer many hours of entertainment. One night we decided to take the tunnels beneath the city to a special event. We could have taken a bus, but for shear entertainment purposes we explored the tunnels and eventually found our way to the event. And, the experience was well worth the time.

These are the differences that stand out above other cities that I have been to. Every city has more or less unique aspects that come across to a visitor. Not every visitor is going to discover every aspect. But the pervasive extent of a good balance of form and function is a theme that seems to run through all of these.

Before I finish, however, I need to mention another great discovery that we found in Montreal. This was the “Maison de Jazz” Or “House of Jazz.” This place offered a very pleasant experience of Jazz, drinks and food that is difficult to find in many places other than maybe New York, Chicago or New Orleans. This particular establishment does not set Montreal out above these places, but the existence of it says a lot about the underlying culture of music and sensibilities. These places need enough people in the audience to support the musicians and there also needs to be enough musicians of a high enough quality to populate a nightly entertainment calendar. There needs to be a critical mass of both musicians and those who appreciate the art form for a place like this to succeed. And, “Maison de Jazz” is able to offer an interesting menu of BBQ ribs and chicken as well as items for those not so taken by BBQ. If one considers the population of Montreal, this is truly a unique gem that may be hidden from the typical visitor.

After this trip, Montreal has now popped up to the top of my Favorite Canadian City list. However, my list actually means very little in the grand scheme of things. It isn’t scientific. I didn’t spend a lot of time trying to study any of the Canadian Cities that I visited. All I can say is that it was very easy to find good food and entertainment in the few number of hours that I had for food and entertainment. And, that alone was all I ever want when I’m on a business trip.



Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Effect of Our Experiences

Our experiences effect us in profound ways. Sometimes we don’t see the effect for quite some time. Kurt Vonnegut Jr. experienced the horror of the fire bombing of the German city of Dresden during World War II. Some have argued that this fire bombing was worse than the nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. All of these events left questions in the minds of those who witnessed them. The questions have varied, but they center around how man can hate so much to kill and destroy so much without thinking of the death and destruction that was actually caused. Justification wasn’t really the question, because the people who were effected were not the people who made the choices for which the hatred was directed. The complexity of the situation was truly felt by Vonnegut who had witnessed this horror, but the intricate details he wrote describing it communicated that horror to the wider world. But the wider world had been too euphoric in their victory over evil to understand what they had done. Vonnegut continued to ask if evil had been used to defeat evil. And, he continued to ask it in different ways as he questioned things that we all took for granted or “granite,” the stone structure we use to base our cultural beliefs on.

Slaughterhouse Five was the book that Kurt Vonnegut Jr. used to show us most directly what he thought and felt about this incident. I wasn't forced to read Slaughterhouse Five in High School, I freely chose to read it. I don't think that it was my first Vonnegut book. I believe that was "Welcome to the Monkey House," which was a collection of his short stories. But after reading that I sought and read everything that he wrote. Breakfast of Champions and Cat's Cradle were certainly my High School favorites, although I liked the twisted ending in Slaughterhouse Five.

When I heard that Kurt Vonnegut Jr. had died I knew that I would need to write about his influence on me. When I went out on the web this morning I was struck by how many people were out in cyberspace doing the same thing. He would have smiled at the effect that he has surely had on so many people. Maybe some of his ideas have seeped into our culture like a virus infecting our planet. But, somehow I know that that viral infection is a positive transformative disease. And, maybe that whole concept comes indirectly from some of his insight.

While I was reading Cat’s Cradle my English Teacher saw the book I was carrying and asked to borrow it. I gave it to her a few days later after I had finished it wondering what her reaction to it might be. I had disagreed with her insight into a couple of novels that she had taught up to that point. So, this was my first literary confrontation with an adult “expert” and I was ready to defend my personal taste. And, when she returned the book her only notable remark was that it was anti-science. Of course I had to disagree with her.

But, as I thought about what she had said I realized that anti-science was actually almost right. But, it really wasn’t anti-science but it was against the use of science for warfare. Some people do equate science and the use of that knowledge for less noble developments. Using science to destroy life, or using science to save lives doesn’t really implicate science, but the people who use the information learned from science. Unfortunately, as a young teenage reader I was unable to put that into words the way that I would have liked to. So, instead of saying something like that, I responded with, “Oh really, I didn’t think so.”

I really hate it when that happens, and it still bothers me to this day 30 years later. So, Kurt Vonnegut Jr. was indirectly responsible for me wanting or needing to communicate better.

These books and stories have effected me over the years. The little concept of ice-nine in Cat’s Cradle pops into my brain at odd times. Ice-nine is a hypothetical crystalline form of water that freezes above room temperature. I small crystal of ice-nine when placed in water acts as a crystal “seed” causing the water molecules to align themselves in a way that all the water around the crystal would become crystalline as well. The obvious advantage of ice-nine is that the military could turn swamps into hard solid ground. Hence the ability of the military to turn a quagmire like Vietnam into a parade down Main Street USA. Of course the short sighted view of the military advantage eclipses the far reaching consequences of oceans, lakes and rivers freezing all over the world. People would need to develop a whole industry of water mining and melting to provide for the entire planet, not to mention all the lower forms of life that would die of thirst because they couldn’t know that they needed to raise the temperature of the water to drink it.

I think of this when I think of crystal “seeds,” or potential damage from new technology, or even when the stock market rises on the prospect of short term gains over long term health of company. This little allegory is about planning and thinking as well as the cute story that it tells. The cute story just helps one remember the more important lesson of thinking before you act. And so, Kurt Vonnegut Jr. was responsible for pushing me to look at the consequences of our actions just a little bit more.

But, maybe Kurt Vonnegut Jr.’s ideas were a little bit like the crystal ice-nine seeds that were planted in the world. The way that those who have read and reflected on what Kurt Vonnegut Jr. wrote has been effected by those ideas. The little molecules of thought in our brains have been rearranged and crystallized into something a little more solid. He has shown us in the immediate sense what should matter to us in order to make the big picture make sense. At least I know that his writing has effected my thoughts in that way.


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

Friday, April 06, 2007

Lessons Learned From Past Conflicts

Two hundred and thirty two years ago the frustration of British occupation reached the tipping point and men were killed in the name of freedom. But, what was the freedom these men desired that was worth risking life, limb and property in order to prevail? And, how could these average men from a far corner of the British Empire succeed against then arguably most powerful force on the planet? What motivated the two sides of the conflict and why did they remain motivated?

Every American knows, or should know the story of the first battle in the War that eventually lead to the Independent and free country of the United States of America. King George III sought cash to fund his Empire and he raised taxes on his American subjects. Law abiding Americans respected the authority of the government and paid their taxes. But, a few individuals began to feel that they taxes paid provided them no benefit. The King could argue that he provided protection, but slowly the Kings forces of protection became forces of occupation and enforcement.

This small group of lawbreakers gradually grew in number as they convinced their fellow citizens of the King’s unfairness. Emotions being what they are they began to grow and fuel a hatred against the King and his authority. In the beginning each side could argue reasonably why they believed that they were right, but according to the law the King had authority and by the law he alone had the right to enforce the law. Even so the hatred toward the King grew and grew.

We all know the story, but we often forget that the Americans that stood up to the King were criminals. A curiosity that strikes me every time a conservative that argues the legal status of an action of protest could easily slip into praise of the brave patriots that stood up to the King two hundred and thirty two years ago.

Today we know the outcome of this conflict and we praise those criminals that stood up to the King. But, we rarely think about the emotions and thoughts of those criminals as they made the decision to break the law.

A few years ago I had the opportunity to travel to Boston. Since my ancestors had been from what is now Massachusetts and some of them had actually participated in the legendary battle I felt the need to see what that battlefield looked like. I drove to Concord and went to Minuteman Historical Park. At the time I knew that my ancestor David Forbush was a sergeant in Captain Issac Davis’s regiment from Acton, Massachusetts. I also knew that another ancestor Major John Buttrick was one of the commanders at the battle. So, I looked at this place while I imagined what it would be like to be there on that particular day when the shot fired was heard round the world.

I was caught off guard by the simplicity of the place. A road, a bridge and a weapons cache on a farm on the other side of the river. The river was less than twenty feet wide and surely a few men could cross the river without the aid of the bridge anywhere along the course. How could this little stand off at this bridge be such an impediment to the strongest military force on the planet? Why could the British just set up camp and wait out the rebels and earn the respect of the law-abiding citizens of the town? Why couldn’t they make the argument that the King was the sole authority in the land and prove their point?

We are often faced with these questions when we feel that the laws imposed against us seem to be unfair and dangerous. But, why can’t the more powerful military force control the population and make them obey the law?

We can think about another more recent standoff at a bridge. This time the bridge was in Selma, Alabama and the force to be reckoned with was the Alabama state troopers. The issue was just and powerful and the rebels had freedom on their side. This time the protesters did not carry weapons and in the long run we know that they succeeded. The conflict was just as emotional and people were hurt. The drama in Alabama was played out over many days and the nation watched via television as the state troopers beat the people at the bridge. How could the obviously superior force not stop this rag tag group of criminals? The law was against them, the authority was against them, but freedom was on their side.

The case for freedom winning against the stronger force of authority is a tortured history. Force sometimes wins, but the people need for freedom generally wins over time. And, sometimes the powerful forces are able to take the freedom away even after it is won. Superior force is like that, it can suddenly turn things around at the drop of a hat. In the Congo, Iran, Guatemala and other countries the United States used its superior force to aid in coupes that over threw Democratically elected governments. The people of the United States have largely forgotten these misdeeds, but the people who live in these countries still harbor the desire for freedom. There are many problems in the case made for winning freedom. Freedom implies freewill and freewill can not be controlled. Undesired results will happen when people have Freedom and implement their freewill. The desire for fairness pushed the democratically elected governments of Congo, Iran and Guatemala to move further to the socialist side of the political spectrum than the United States felt comfortable with. And, the United States decided to use its superior power to take the people’s freedom away.

The history of America controlling the freewill of smaller countries has created a narrative that has been exaggerated, exploded and exploited among those who desire political power. People around the world know some of these stories and they imagine that there are even more events that have been covered up by the American conspiracy.

Whether these things are true or not isn’t the point. The point is that the perception of America having its hand in the politics of countries around the world makes the suspicion, fear, and hatred of America grow around the world. And, US foreign policy over the last five years has played into the hands of those who wish to demonstrate the evil ways of America. And, we continue to help them on their way.

Like I said, the truth doesn’t matter when we talk about the motivation of people. People are willing to die for what they perceive to be a noble or righteous cause. Freedom is one such cause that continues to push people forward. And, in Iraq we are on the wrong side of this perception.

In Iraq the majority of Iraqis see the US as oppressors, and enemy occupiers. The Iraqis see America’s interest centered on the oil that they possess. Iraqis want their freedom to determine their destiny. They know America’s history, including the Iranian coupe that took Democracy away from those people. They perceive the unfairness of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians and perceive America’s ties to this. Some Arabs see the Americans as profane secular hedonists that disrespect their religious practices. And, all of these people desire freedom to create their own laws that may limit the freedom of their own citizens. So, whose freedom is more important?

Everyone can not have all the freedom that they desire. Freedom desired by one may end up impinging on the freedom of another. But can the grand authority of a superior force be used to dictate which freedoms are allowed and which freedoms are denied? That seems to be the current thought of the current administration, and the Iraqi people don’t like it.

But, can a relatively small group of lawbreakers win against the most powerful force on the planet? Maybe the Bush administration should read some history and learn that when the people desire freedom they tend to win in the long run. It doesn’t matter if the freedom that they desire is the same as the picture that we envision. The ultimate authority rests in the desire of the people, it just takes time and the perception of freedom.


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

A Better Life

In the United States everything seems to be about money, except when it isn’t. If Yogi Berra didn't say that, he could have. But, the point is that money, capital, market rise and prosperity is the language of America and capitalism. We saw this when the Soviet Union collapsed; capitalists were standing on their soapboxes proclaiming the strength and power of the capitalist system.

Of course I believe that capitalism is a motivating factor. People desire the easy life, and one sure way to an easier life is having money in the bank. The dream of resting on your laurels and having the world be your oyster has long been the American dream. It is certainly hard to argue with the fact that people can be bent to do the right thing if money is offered in exchange for it.

Not all cultures operate on this principle. Some cultures value family more than money. Some cultures value religion more than money. Some cultures value the well being of society more than money. But, here in American although you may find some minorities with these skewed and warped values the majority of Americans value money above all else.

One minority in the USA that has been fighting an uphill battle are the environmentalists. These crazy people have determined that the environment that we all live in deserves a high value. So, instead of worrying about the cost to corporations, industry or just plain folk who want to drive big SUVs they are concerned with the possibility that our environment might possibly become unlivable for our future generations.

Well, in the American culture it is quite clear that priorities should ensure that we have enough money before we start spending it on the future generations. After all, if the environment is destroyed we would have wasted all this money spending it on people who would never have been born anyway. What a silly waste of money!

Another minority that doesn’t see things the same way as the majority of Americans are the people who want to make sure that the average working stiff has enough money to live on. These people are as crazy the environmentalists. They want to spend money on people who don’t have enough gumption to get a real job that pays real money. They don’t have the network of friends and family to make the connections to get that job, so they must not really be worth anything anyway. And, these crazy people want to spend money on these poor slobs. Can you imagine that? This minority really believes that if people are sick they should be taken care of even if they can’t afford to pay for it. Maybe if they took out a loan or something and their family promised to pay it back after they died it might be fine. But, can you really imagine wasting money on these people?

It sure is a good thing that these people are in the minority here in the USA, because if they weren’t we might end up with a system like they have in Europe. It turns out that in Europe people who care about the poor, the working class and the environment are in the majority. In Europe they value people and our planet more than money. So, in Europe they spend money to make society a better place for everyone. It sure is a good thing that we don’t have a majority of crazy people like that in our country.

Can you imagine how bad the European economy must be doing with these crazy people spending all this money?

The strange thing is that at first there were problems getting everything in Europe working. They had high unemployment rates and lots of issues with getting services to everyone that needed them. But as time went on things seem to have worked out quite well. And, yesterday I read that the value of the European stock market has surpassed the value of the US stock market for the first time since World War I.

So, what does that mean to me?

Think about the history of the twentieth century for a moment. Europe experienced two very destructive wars that destroyed not only people and property, but entire infrastructures and industries. If you owned a company that was doing pretty well in 1905 but it was destroyed in the Great War then the value of that company had fallen quite a bit. In some cases only the intellectual property, i.e. the recipes and secret formulas remained. If you own stock in a company, that means that you own a fraction of the company that had lost quite a bit of value.

The value of a stock market is the total value of all the companies listed on the market. Since the bombs and bullets were kept on the other side of the ocean during this war the United States was able to preserve its industry and infrastructure and the relative values of the two markets reversed. And, just as Europe began to rebuild the value of its markets by rebuilding companies and infrastructure it was hit with another war. This war was arguably even more destructive than the first. And, during this time the United States was able to build even larger and more robust companies that were still untouched by the bombs and bullets across the sea.

In the United States we value money as I said before. This means that if I buy stock in a company I expect that the value of the company to go up so that the value of my stock goes up. The value of the company is reflected in how much profit the company can make, the value of its intellectual property and value of its assets and property. This is determined by how much a potential stockholder is willing to pay for a share of stock.

Let us assume that the two groups of markets, in the US and in Europe both started out at the same value after World War II. We know that they didn’t, but let us assume that they did. If we assume that both markets operated freely then we could assume that they might grow at approximately the same rate; if all things were equal.

But, all things were not equal. In Europe the value of their stock market was much below the value of the US markets. And, on top of that the people in Europe decided that some things were more important than money. They created a National Health Care system in each of the nations. They consisted of many different nations that had tariffs and prejudices with each of the other countries. They also taxed their gasoline at an enormous rate in order to protect the environment by forcing people to use the fuel as efficiently as they could. And, they created a system of worker’s rights to protect the average worker from being exploited by their employers.

So, based on these facts it would be nearly impossible for Europe to manage to continue it growth at the same rate as the United States. And, since European growth would need to exceed the United States growth for a substantial number of years in order for Europe to catch the United States we should have been able to predict that Europe could never reach the United States in economic value in any measure. But yesterday, we found out that they did. And, they did it with out putting money as the most important priority. Instead they caught the US and they continued to value people more than money all the way to the bank.


Don't forget what Stephen Colbert said, "Reality has a well-known liberal bias."

Cross Posted @ Bring It On, tblog, Blogger and BlogSpirit