President Bush and the U.S. Dollar $$$$$$
It may seem like a rather odd request: “Let Me Be an Ugly American for the Day?” But come on, it has been a pretty bad couple of months for the American image here in Southeast Asia.
I mean a big, big, big geo-political screw-up in Lebanon; and we have to beg the French and the Italians to salvage a little bit of the situation.
Psycho-scum American John Mark Karr gets picked up in Bangkok. This guy at worst is a murderous, vile kind of excuse for a human being. At best he is just a crazy, lying, sex-change seeking, bizarro character that is not what the U.S. State Department’s Office of Public Diplomacy hopes generally reflects American public image. And if who this guy really is was not bad enough, someone decided that American public image would be well served by flying him back to Los Angeles while sipping Champagne and Chardonnay in Thai Airways’ Royal Silk Class.
So cut me some slack and give me the next few moments of mild “Ugly Americanism.”
It was a rather small article in an otherwise irrelevant business section of today’s Bangkok Post that set me off.
M.R. Pridiyathorn Devakula, the Thai Central Bank Governor, said it all: “The World’s Investors are shifting away from U.S. dollar denominated assets.”
It gets worse, he gives details: Massive current account deficits; $7 trillion dollars of external borrowing; and trade deficits of biblical proportions.
His startling conclusion: My U.S. Dollar denominated earnings will buy me a lifestyle today in Bangkok that is 20% less than is was in 2001, when I first started spending a lot of time here. Yikes!
Well who cares about your lifestyle you might say? And of course you would be right; but I care about my lifestyle, and the fundamental weakness of the U.S. dollar is a very bad omen for America’s economic and political future.
Time was, the U.S. dollar was more than just a global currency. It was a cultural and social currency that symbolized stability and authority and strength.
And even if global opinion of America’s morality and diplomatic competence was in question, well we still had the dollar right or wrong.
And who to blame for the recent change in fortune: President George W. Bush, that’s who.
Ignore morality and historical vision. Just look at the economic cost-benefit equation of Mr. Bush:
• Massive, incompetently constructed military spending most of which did not advance Homeland Security one bit.
• Criminally negligent energy policies that transfer America’s wealth into the hands of political and corporate entities that are an anathema to traditional American social, political and economic values.
Come on Mr. Bush, look at who your energy policies have made richer. Your new best buddies, those stalwarts of democracy and freedom of expression: Hugo Chavez, Vladimir Putin and King Abdullah and his extended family.
• Unrestrained growth in the size and spending of Government.
Mr. Bush, it’s hard to believe that they still let you call yourself a member of the Republican Party (Although former president Richard Nixon, another Republican exponent of small government, oversaw the biggest expansion of the American Federal bureaucracy since the New Deal.).
• Trade and external debt policies, particularly with China, that that have turned America into the equivalent of China’s “International Debt Body Slave.”
So you did this Mr. Bush. You have not only shamed America’s diplomatic and international relations competence; you are destroying America’s economic future.
And worst of all, you are screwing up my lifestyle in Bangkok.