A delicate balance

Jack wrote this in September, 2006:

  • We want the rest of the world to be like us.
  • We want the rest of the world to want to be like us.

Time was not so long ago when the US cared so little about whether the rest of the world wanted to be like us, or not, the thought would have never entered their heads yea or nay.

What the rest of the world did was the business of the rest of the world.

The leaders of this country at the same time never wondered what the leaders of the rest of the world thought about them, or this country, nor cared.

During the Civil War, when the UK was trying to decide whether to join the French in the invasion of Mexico, the Prime Minister was saying a lot of things to the Queen about the leadership of the country (Abraham Lincoln), the reasons for the war, the conduct of the war, that Americans would have found painful to hear if they hadn’t been too busy killing one another to pay attention.

But they’d have found those remarks between the PM and the Queen painful because they contained so much truth.  Not because they cared a damn what the leaders of the UK thought about the US.

We’ve spent the last half-century trying to make the rest of the world want to emulate us, politically.  Most of the world wasn’t interested.

But we did succeed in a lot of ways nobody anticipated.

We shipped all our industry off to the countries we spent a lot of lives and treasure whupping the socks off of, trying to help them be like us.

We shipped all our industry off to third world countries because of the cheap labor trying to help them to be like us.

When we were minding our own business we had thriving industry, plenty of jobs, affluence.  Anyone who wanted a job could find one.

When we succeeded in making the rest of the world in our own image in some unanticipated ways, our industry became a dead shell.  All our jobs became government related, or pure government.

And in the process, the world we made in our own image wanted to be like us.  They wanted cars, television sets, air conditioners, microwave ovens.

They became super-consumers.  They began needing petroleum products for energy, for plastic rubber monster toys for the kids.  Petroleum to run their powerplants to refrigerate.  Petroleum to run their hair dryers.  Petroleum to run their industries.

They became like us.

The dead hull of US industry didn’t demand so much energy, but our automobiles, air conditioners and plastics requirements continued to do so.

But the rest of the world wanted it, too.

They became like us.  Prices skyrocketed.

So, now we don’t have any industry, don’t produce anything, but still need the energy to run.

And so, also, does the rest of the world because they’ve done as we hoped.  They became like us.

Now maybe we need to find some other ways to make them want to be like us, before they decide to be like us in some other unanticipated ways we’ll like a lot less.



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