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  #101  
Old 12-15-2013, 09:01 AM
Grim Render is offline
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A bit of a digression, but...First off the USA is the most populous developed country. A lot of the points raised here, like foreign aid, immigration etc. is basically total numbers. A result of having a bigger population, when the numbers per head iare nowhere near the top.

Seems to me that if we are looking for a hypothetical US decline in relation to other nations, a per-head measure makes more sense.

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Originally Posted by XT View Post
You could look at the EU as an example. They are pretty comparable to the US when taken as a whole, and their military is much, much weaker taken in the aggregate. Mostly it's a choice...they choose not to spend as much as we do (mainly because, you know, we are here to do it for them...European social programs are built on American military strength since we do that little thing for them and put teeth into the alliances we are in).
Um, no. Actually, hell, no. This seems to be an issue of perspective and scale.

Last numbers I remember, 2009, Germany, the UK and Frances total military budgets were bigger than the total budgets of Russia and China. If the US evaporated tomorrow, the remaining EU/NATO countries would have something like a third of the military speding of the planet.

The EUs military spending is vastly overengineered for any potential threat. And if the EU wanted greater military power, coordinating current spending would yield much better results.

Ony from the perspective of US military spending could the EU spending possibly be regarded as anything but massivly over the top.

The US spends just under 5 % of GDP on its military. Major EU nations spend between 2,5 -1,5 % of GDP.

Meanwhile, the US spends 18 % of GDP on healthcare. The western EU nations average 9 %, with mostly better outcomes. That difference is 3 times the difference in military spending. In fact, the waste in US healthcare is almost twice the entire US military budget!

European social programs are built on more efficient healthcare not less military spending. Military budgets are just not on the same scale.
  #102  
Old 12-15-2013, 01:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Grim Render
Last numbers I remember, 2009, Germany, the UK and Frances total military budgets were bigger than the total budgets of Russia and China.
If you are going to tell me hell no you better back it up with a cite then, ehe? Here is the figured from Wiki (in dollars):

China: $166.0
Russia: $90.7
Germany: $45.8
France: $58.9
UK: $60.8

So, by my calculation the COMBINED defense spending of France, German and the UK is less than the (known) spending of China alone. None of your group spend more than Russia on a one for one basis even today. And, of course, China's spending is continuing to increase year by year.

By comparison, Japan actually spends more than Germany and France (the UK spends a touch more) and they basically have just a local defense force (that, also, relies on the US)...Japan: $59.3

Quote:
The EUs military spending is vastly overengineered for any potential threat. And if the EU wanted greater military power, coordinating current spending would yield much better results.
No, it's not. It relies on the US to carry the bulk of the water wrt military projection outside of Europe. Where would the money come from for the EU to ramp up their military significantly? They are having serious fiscal issues NOW, with their relatively small military budgets as it is. They have spent the money they saved (from us doing the bulk of the military spending) on social programs, and they are basically tapped out.

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Ony from the perspective of US military spending could the EU spending possibly be regarded as anything but massivly over the top.
No, from the mission they spend too little. The mission being the ability of the western powers to project military force outside of their borders. Of course, only the US CAN do that of the western powers...which is why our budget is so high compared to the other allies.

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The US spends just under 5 % of GDP on its military. Major EU nations spend between 2,5 -1,5 % of GDP.
Yeah, I know. That's the issue.

Quote:
Meanwhile, the US spends 18 % of GDP on healthcare. The western EU nations average 9 %, with mostly better outcomes. That difference is 3 times the difference in military spending. In fact, the waste in US healthcare is almost twice the entire US military budget!
Exactly. Their wonderful social programs and healthcare are subsidized by the US. Great, ain't it?

Quote:
European social programs are built on more efficient healthcare not less military spending. Military budgets are just not on the same scale.
Exactly. They rely on us to carry that water for them, and spend their money on other things. Which is exactly what I said. Now, you might disagree that the western powers need the ability to project military force beyond our (or Europe's, or Japan's) borders, but I disagree with that assessment. I believe that without that ability there would be no one to protect all that trade stuff, or the importation of strategic materials (like that oil stuff).
  #103  
Old 12-15-2013, 02:03 PM
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I dunno. I tend to measure a nation's strength by the health of its people. Because all the material things in the world mean nothing if we aren't fit enough to manage them well.

The USA has a relatively high infant mortality rate compared to other advanced nations. We are obese and suffer from all the illnesses that accompany that affliction.

Our use of addictive drugs and our drug dependency is high.

And I believe that currently we lead the world in cases of anxiety and depression.

I don't think of those problems when I think of a Banana Republic. But in terms of decline, yes. We are, in general, an unhealthy people.

It's a strange illness, this malady of plenty.

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  #104  
Old 12-15-2013, 02:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Tethered Kite View Post
I dunno. I tend to measure a nation's strength by the health of its people. Because all the material things in the world mean nothing if we aren't fit enough to manage them well.

The USA has a relatively high infant mortality rate compared to other advanced nations. We are obese and suffer from all the illnesses that accompany that affliction.

Our use of addictive drugs and our drug dependency is high.

And I believe that currently we lead the world in cases of anxiety and depression.

I don't think of those problems when I think of a Banana Republic. But in terms of decline, yes. We are, in general, an unhealthy people.

It's a strange illness, this malady of plenty.
And yet Life Expectancy is increasing, not decreasing. Link to PDF.

And the Infant Mortality Rate (also PDF) is decreasing.

Americans are getting fatter (as are people in most of the developed world), but living longer. Not seeing that as a "decline".

Last edited by John Mace; 12-15-2013 at 02:14 PM.
  #105  
Old 12-15-2013, 02:41 PM
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And yet Life Expectancy is increasing, not decreasing. Link to PDF.

And the Infant Mortality Rate (also PDF) is decreasing.

Americans are getting fatter (as are people in most of the developed world), but living longer. Not seeing that as a "decline".
I appreciate your optimism.

Increased life expectancy isn't always the boon a scientist thinks it is.

I don't see a nation of obese people as progress, myself. You don't see it as a decline in health? Diabetes, heart disease, knee and back deterioration?
  #106  
Old 12-15-2013, 02:49 PM
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I appreciate your optimism.

Increased life expectancy isn't always the boon a scientist thinks it is.
But it's one indicator that the country is not "in decline".

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I don't see a nation of obese people as progress, myself. You don't see it as a decline in health? Diabetes, heart disease, knee and back deterioration?
It's not unique to the US. And it's not that difficult to imagine reversing it, particularly since it appears to be leveling off. In fact, one of the easiest way to change that would be for the US to actually become a Third World Country, which is the topic of this thread.
  #107  
Old 12-15-2013, 02:55 PM
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And yet Life Expectancy is increasing, not decreasing. Link to PDF.

And the Infant Mortality Rate (also PDF) is decreasing.

I don't know where we currently stand but in the late last century I believe we were 14th on the list. I'm glad it's improving, of course, though it continues to be at uneven rates for ethnic groups.

I mean to reiterate that among the most developed countries we are not at the top of the list in our health. Seems to me that given our wealth of resources and riches this should be possible for us.

I suppose remaining static or improving slowly technically in these areas isn't decline. But it is the closest step to decline.
  #108  
Old 12-15-2013, 03:57 PM
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You could consider technological leadership, where we once reigned supreme. Now, the fastest supercomputer is produced in China.
Not a good example. If you know anything about how supercomputers work these days, you would have noticed that it uses American designed processors, and (primarily) American designed software that's highly scalable. I could introduce you to one of the people who helped develop that technology (he's a Physics prof at Duke U., and his machine does wonders...), and he could introduce you to the rest.

At this point, it's just a matter of 'how many FLOPs do you need? How much money do you have?' Keep stacking processors until you either achieve your desired FLOP rate, or run out of money. That machine is nothing more than throwing more money at a highly scalable (mostly) American technology, until you beat the Americans. It's not Chinese technology, by any reasonable definition.

Last edited by Cheshire Human; 12-15-2013 at 03:58 PM.
  #109  
Old 12-15-2013, 04:55 PM
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Not a good example
... That machine is nothing more than throwing more money at a highly scalable (mostly) American technology, until you beat the Americans. It's not Chinese technology, by any reasonable definition.
Fair point.
  #110  
Old 12-15-2013, 04:57 PM
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Originally Posted by XT View Post
Exactly. They rely on us to carry that water for them, and spend their money on other things. Which is exactly what I said. Now, you might disagree that the western powers need the ability to project military force beyond our (or Europe's, or Japan's) borders, but I disagree with that assessment. I believe that without that ability there would be no one to protect all that trade stuff, or the importation of strategic materials (like that oil stuff).
Not just this excerpt, but the entire post--good argument. This is what I look for in these kind of discussions.
  #111  
Old 12-15-2013, 05:04 PM
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Originally Posted by John Mace View Post
But it's one indicator that the country is not "in decline".

It's not unique to the US. And it's not that difficult to imagine reversing it, particularly since it appears to be leveling off. In fact, one of the easiest way to change that would be for the US to actually become a Third World Country, which is the topic of this thread.
This comment shares a problem I have with much of this discussion, and others that discuss topics of relative prosperity. The gross numbers hide or ignore relevant details.

In this instance, you seem to hold that as long as the gross numbers for life expectancy are increasing, it doesn't matter that the longer life comes with details such as diabetes, arthritis, etc. As another poster implied, a life that is simply longer is not necessarily better. Yes, it is possible to live a longer life in spite of poorer health, mainly due to medical science. Should we really consider that "Progress"? How about shooting for a longer life because of better health?
  #112  
Old 12-15-2013, 05:15 PM
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Originally Posted by dataguy View Post
This comment shares a problem I have with much of this discussion, and others that discuss topics of relative prosperity. The gross numbers hide or ignore relevant details.

In this instance, you seem to hold that as long as the gross numbers for life expectancy are increasing, it doesn't matter that the longer life comes with details such as diabetes, arthritis, etc. As another poster implied, a life that is simply longer is not necessarily better.
No, I didn't say that. I said it was "one indicator". There are a slew of others. It is, however, a very common indicator used to assess "quality of life" in a give country. Any such set of indicators is necessarily going to be incomplete and somewhat subjective.
  #113  
Old 12-15-2013, 07:41 PM
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Originally Posted by dataguy View Post
This comment shares a problem I have with much of this discussion, and others that discuss topics of relative prosperity. The gross numbers hide or ignore relevant details.

In this instance, you seem to hold that as long as the gross numbers for life expectancy are increasing, it doesn't matter that the longer life comes with details such as diabetes, arthritis, etc. As another poster implied, a life that is simply longer is not necessarily better. Yes, it is possible to live a longer life in spite of poorer health, mainly due to medical science. Should we really consider that "Progress"? How about shooting for a longer life because of better health?
As I asked several times in this thread - you've never answered - when are you comparing to? Although there are specific aspects of overall health that are disturbing, obesity being the main one, every possible look at the totality of health and medical treatment shows that people are incredibly and utopianly better off in the U.S. than they ever were in the past. Do you understand that we didn't have antibiotics until WWII? That in WWI recruiters were in despair about the level of fitness of the average man? That most people couldn't afford regularly visits to doctors and hospitals and never used either except in emergencies until mid century? That hundreds of cholera epidemics from bad milk were needed to persuade people after a multi-decade campaign to pasteurize milk? That Pittsburgh and other industrial cities used to be blanketed under layers of soot? That factory workers tended to die at around 50?

Please answer the direct question: when do you imagine this era of better health was? What constituted it? How was it better and how were people ever healthier than today? Make a case - any case - that health is actually declining overall today instead of being hugely, enormously, overwhelmingly better.
  #114  
Old 12-15-2013, 08:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Exapno Mapcase View Post
As I asked several times in this thread - you've never answered - when are you comparing to?

Please answer the direct question: when do you imagine this era of better health was? What constituted it? How was it better and how were people ever healthier than today? Make a case - any case - that health is actually declining overall today instead of being hugely, enormously, overwhelmingly better.
I don't know why you have the idea that I am comparing the state of the US now to the state of the US at some time in the past. Please point out where I have said something that can be interpreted this way.
  #115  
Old 12-15-2013, 08:19 PM
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I don't know why you have the idea that I am comparing the state of the US now to the state of the US at some time in the past. Please point out where I have said something that can be interpreted this way.
Right here:
Quote:
Originally Posted by you
You could consider technological leadership, where we once reigned supreme. Now, the fastest supercomputer is produced in
China.
  #116  
Old 12-15-2013, 09:14 PM
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I don't know why you have the idea that I am comparing the state of the US now to the state of the US at some time in the past. Please point out where I have said something that can be interpreted this way.
Well, someone less charitable than I might refer to your title for this thread, "Is the US becoming a banana republic?" and point out that it is unintelligible if it does not imply a state of decline. And the post I was quoting asks, "Should we really consider that "Progress"?" which is also meaningless unless it refers to the past.

As I am not charitable I will also point out every post you made in between them, none of which make any sense whatsoever unless you are arguing that the U.S. is falling behind either because of decline or because other countries have passed us so that it can no longer be considered a world power or a world leader. I.e., things have changed since some date in the past.

But you're right. Other than every post you've made, I got nothing.
  #117  
Old 12-16-2013, 02:58 AM
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Well, there are statements of fact which are completely untrue. I'll just take one of them:

"while 400 individuals own more than one-half of the nation’s wealth"

Total net worth of Forbes 400: $2 trillion
Total net worth of US: $118 trillion
Did you even look at these links?

It's $2 trillion in total individual networth for the Forbes 400.

As for the $118 trillion:
Quote:
"They included three kinds of asset: “manufactured”, or physical, capital (machinery, buildings, infrastructure and so on); human capital (the population's education and skills); and natural capital (including land, forests, fossil fuels and minerals)."
How is that a comparison?
  #118  
Old 12-16-2013, 08:22 AM
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Yes I did. Did you actually divide 2/118 and come up with 50%?

I compared net wealth of individuals to the net wealth of the country and found that the article was, well, factually wrong.
  #119  
Old 12-16-2013, 01:13 PM
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Wealth is a measure. But it's somewhat of a moot point. If you have millions, all the possessions you could desire, are well protected and have the adoration of everyone who knows you it will do little good if you are disabled by disease, crazy, or drug addicted.

Don't people get that?

The adoration of everyone thing? I remember when that was true. Now we question and even discount past international decisions and nearly the entire world is unhappy with us. How is that progress?

They still want to come here for the material things but that's a misplaced priority because a material world is worthless without health.
  #120  
Old 12-16-2013, 01:40 PM
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They still want to come here for the material things but that's a misplaced priority because a material world is worthless without health.
First, the United States is not a nation without health. It has incredible medicine. What it also has is large pockets of poverty that pull the average numbers down. But that is not at all the same thing.

Second, you need to look at where immigrants are coming from.
Quote:
As of 2010, Mexican-born immigrants accounted for approximately 29 percent of the nearly 40 million foreign born residing in the United States, making them the largest immigrant group in the country by far.

China (including Hong Kong but not Taiwan) accounted for 5 percent of all foreign born, followed by India and the Philippines, each comprising approximately 4 percent of the immigrant population. These four countries — together with Vietnam, El Salvador, Cuba, and Korea (at about 3 percent each), as well as the Dominican Republic and Guatemala (each about 2 percent) — made up almost 60 percent of all foreign born residing in the United States in 2010.
You can't make the case that all those countries have better health care than the U.S. By coming here immigrants generally improve their lives.

Yes, I would like the U.S. to have a proper national health care system. But the fact that some factors are lower in areas of poverty does not mean that immigrants become unhealthy when they step across the border. You're making the same mistake as the OP by not putting any of the numbers in any context and therefore reaching entirely false conclusions from them.
  #121  
Old 12-16-2013, 03:00 PM
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First, the United States is not a nation without health. It has incredible medicine. What it also has is large pockets of poverty that pull the average numbers down. But that is not at all the same thing.

Second, you need to look at where immigrants are coming from.

You can't make the case that all those countries have better health care than the U.S. By coming here immigrants generally improve their lives.

Yes, I would like the U.S. to have a proper national health care system. But the fact that some factors are lower in areas of poverty does not mean that immigrants become unhealthy when they step across the border. You're making the same mistake as the OP by not putting any of the numbers in any context and therefore reaching entirely false conclusions from them.
Well, help me out with this because I don't see mental illness, addiction and obesity as a problem that only the poor suffer.
  #122  
Old 12-16-2013, 03:03 PM
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Well, help me out with this because I don't see mental illness, addiction and obesity as a problem that only the poor suffer.
But only the poor (and then only some of the poor) would have issues getting treatment for those things I think is the point. I guess I'm not seeing whatever point you are trying to make in all of this with respect to the thread (i.e. the US is becoming a banana republic)...do you have a point, if so could you spell it out?
  #123  
Old 12-16-2013, 03:14 PM
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I think he believes that almost everybody in the US* suffers from a life-destabilizing disease which is not indicated in general overall wellness statistics. You might live to 82, but if you're in the US, you're guaranteed to either have diabetes/angina/gout/obesity/alzheimer's/etc because... well, because that's what he believes.

So Americans might be living longer, but they're doing it in worsening health. Which makes a lot of sense in the same way that "my car gets better mileage, but it uses more gas to drive the same distance" does.

*"Except the rich, cause they're the only healthy ones because they have money", right?
  #124  
Old 12-16-2013, 04:35 PM
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Well, help me out with this because I don't see mental illness, addiction and obesity as a problem that only the poor suffer.
Nor are they problems that only Americans suffer.
  #125  
Old 12-16-2013, 05:38 PM
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Right here:
This has nothing to do with comparing the current state of US technology to a previous state of US technology. It's comparing the relative state of US technology to the state of other countries. This goes for other comparisons, not just technology.

We could have the same technology/health metrics/quality of life factors that we have always had, and if other countries improve these areas, they will rank higher relative to us. I don't know why this is so hard to grasp. It has nothing to do with whether we do something better or worse than we used to.
  #126  
Old 12-16-2013, 05:44 PM
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But apart from the aqueducts, irrigation, the roads, education, medicine, the fresh water system, viniculture, and public health - what have the Romans ever done for us?

Regards,
Shodan
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Old 12-16-2013, 05:45 PM
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But that wasn't the question. The question was "Is the US becoming a banana republic"? The data we're showing answers that question, not the new, goalpost-moved question of "Is the US lagging in some metrics that one would think could be improved?", which the answer is, "Yes, just like all countries. Doesn't make one a banana republic, however."

Last edited by JohnT; 12-16-2013 at 05:45 PM. Reason: ETA: Reply to dataguy
  #128  
Old 12-16-2013, 05:54 PM
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Nor are they problems that only Americans suffer.
Very true. And I could point out that the U.S. is way ahead of most of the rest of world in reducing the worst scourge of all, cigarette smoking. That's huge. Smoking In Asia: A Looming Health Epidemic
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A study by the George Institute of Global Health in 2010 revealed that the Asia-Pacific region is home to 30 percent of the world’s smokers, and the World Health Organization (WHO) has found that almost 80 percent of smokers live in low to middle-income countries.
Two consistent elements in the critiques in this thread are the cherrypicking of individual flaws about the U.S. and the failure to mention any equivalent flaws about anybody else.
  #129  
Old 12-16-2013, 07:17 PM
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As a reminder, way upthread, I specified which aspects of a "banana republic" I was interested in discussing:
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First, about the term "banana republic". Here's the Wikipedia definition.

"Banana republic is a political science term for a politically unstable country whose economy is largely dependent on the export of a single limited-resource product (ex. Bananas.) It typically has stratified social classes, including a large, impoverished working class and a ruling plutocracy that comprises the elites of business, politics, and the military.[1] This politico-economic oligarchy controls the primary-sector productions and thereby exploits the country's economy."

Other than the part about being dependent on the export of a single product, I think the rest fairly describes where the US is headed.
In this article, the author discusses the same topic and the same characteristics. The article is a few years old, but still relevant to the discussion. Maybe a little outside perspective, which people have been prescribing for me, would help here.

An excerpt from the article:

"But a banana republic isn't characterised only by a rotten political system, ruled by a small, wealthy, and corrupt clique usually put in power or supported by foreign interests (in the 20th century, in the case of several Central and Latin American countries, by the US), but also by huge wealth and income inequities, poor infrastructure, backwardness in many sectors of the economy, low capital spending, a reliance on foreign capital, money printing and budget deficits, and of course a weakening currency.

A banana republic is also characterised by a ruling class that curtails people's personal freedoms and is moving towards a heavyhanded military dictatorship under the excuse of fighting guerrilla (or terrorist) opposition groups or enemies. Moreover, the fact that the ruling class or the elite comes from different political parties isn't a relevant factor in classifying a country as a banana republic; what is relevant is the determination of the elite, irrespective of which party its members belong to, to shift wealth from the majority of the people (the masses) to themselves, usually through simply printing money and incurring chronic budget deficits, and frequently also through senseless warfare.

Now, I am not insinuating that the US is already a banana republic, but the trend is undoubtedly there."
  #130  
Old 12-16-2013, 08:54 PM
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a banana republic [is] characterized ...by huge wealth and income inequities,
Which are increasing in the U.S. But they are no higher than at other points in history. And critically, the U.S. is predominately middle class, which is conspicuously lacking in a banana republic.
Quote:
poor infrastructure,
This doesn't mean that not enough money is being spent; it means that in a banana republic infrastructure is non-existent.

Quote:
backwardness in many sectors of the economy,
Again, this doesn't mean that some pieces of the economy are lagging; it means that pieces are essentially non-existent, obviously not true in any conceivable way for the U.S..

Quote:
low capital spending,
It's not clear whether this refers to public or private spending; either way capital spending in the U.S. is enormous.

Quote:
a reliance on foreign capital,
Now we're getting into sheer comedy. Most of the world buys U.S. treasuries because it is the safest currency in the world. Calling the world economic leader weak in this regard is fantasy.

Quote:
money printing and budget deficits,
The budget deficit has been cut by a trillion dollars in the last five fiscal years. The extremely mild quantitative easement being practiced by the Fed is standard economics. The U.S. economy is actually recovering from the recession in far better terms than most other large economies.

Quote:
and of course a weakening currency.
The dollar is still the world's default currency. Of course it fluctuates regularly against other currencies, but you can see that over the past year it has not moved very far against the Euro and the pound [click on 1Y to get yearly figures], and it is at a five-year high against the yen.
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A banana republic is also characterised by a ruling class that curtails people's personal freedoms and is moving towards a heavyhanded military dictatorship under the excuse of fighting guerrilla (or terrorist) opposition groups or enemies.
Please try to make the case that anything - anything - in the U.S is a heavy-handed military dictatorship or even moving toward one. I would love to read that.

Quote:
Now, I am not insinuating that the US is already a banana republic, but the trend is undoubtedly there."
No, it's not. Not in any way. Not even close. You have no comprehension of what life in a banana republic was like. Nor have you made any actual case for the U.S. becoming one.

Last edited by Exapno Mapcase; 12-16-2013 at 08:55 PM.
  #131  
Old 12-16-2013, 09:23 PM
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No matter how you twist and torture the definition, no one is going to buy into the US becoming or is a banana republic unless they have delusions AND a political axe to grind. We aren't, and we aren't on the path to become one.

Just parsing this:

Quote:
Originally Posted by dataguy (from link)
A banana republic is also characterised by a ruling class that curtails people's personal freedoms and is moving towards a heavyhanded military dictatorship under the excuse of fighting guerrilla (or terrorist) opposition groups or enemies.
We aren't characterized by a ruling class that curtails people's personal freedom. We aren't moving towards a heavy handed dictatorship. We don't HAVE opposition groups or guerrilla groups in the US. Outside of the US we are certainly fighting terrorist groups, but it's not like we started this whole mess, though admittedly we fucked up by going into Iraq. But consider that we DIDN'T attack Syria, despite the fact that they used WMD against their own people, something that could legitimately trigger a military response. Where were these entrenched ruling classes pushing us to heavy handed military action then?

Quote:
Moreover, the fact that the ruling class or the elite comes from different political parties isn't a relevant factor in classifying a country as a banana republic; what is relevant is the determination of the elite, irrespective of which party its members belong to, to shift wealth from the majority of the people (the masses) to themselves, usually through simply printing money and incurring chronic budget deficits, and frequently also through senseless warfare.
Except that we don't have a ruling elite, and the rich aren't shifting wealth from the poor to the rich...the pie is getting larger and the rich are simply getting a larger share, while the middle class is getting a smaller share and the poor are stagnant. There are a number of factors of why this is happening, but it's not as described in this hyperbolic paragraph.

And so on. I know the OP really, REALLY wants the US to be a banana republic or on the path to become one, and gods know folks like Der are right there ready to egg him on, but it's just not reality.
  #132  
Old 12-16-2013, 10:05 PM
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Yes I did. Did you actually divide 2/118 and come up with 50%?

I compared net wealth of individuals to the net wealth of the country and found that the article was, well, factually wrong.
My point is, if you are comparing net wealth of individuals, it should be against the total net wealth of all individuals. Not the net wealth of the country.
The total net wealth of all Americans would not be anywhere near $118trillion.

Having said that, I would agree with you and would seriously doubt that the top 400 and their $2trillion would be 50% of total. I would estimate maybe 3 ~ 5%.

A bit busy right now, but I'll see if I can look up what the actual figure is for The total net wealth of American individuals and get back with a more accurate figure, unless someone here has the time.
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Old 12-16-2013, 10:12 PM
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As for the original question in the OP.
The US is too big to be a banana republic as a whole, but I can see that perhaps it could apply on a state level. Call it a Banana State if you like. I'd propose that states like Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana could possibily be considered close. If they were independent countries, they would certainly be candidates.
  #134  
Old 12-16-2013, 10:27 PM
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I'd propose that states like Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana could possibily be considered close. If they were independent countries, they would certainly be candidates.
No. They wouldn't. Really. Not close. Not by any definition. Please do some real research on what life was actually like in a banana republic.
  #135  
Old 12-17-2013, 12:18 AM
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No. They wouldn't. Really. Not close. Not by any definition. Please do some real research on what life was actually like in a banana republic.
The term Banana Republic was coined and was originally based on the late 18th century Honduras and Guatemala, this is true. But I have seen the words used to describe other economically backward nations. Where leaders are incapable or too greedy to invest and improve on a nations infrastructure and are in effect limited to producing raw materials/natural resources for export.

If you want to be so narrow in the definitions so as to be inflexible to the fact that the meaning may have expanded to describe poorly run countries, then fine, let's examine Mississippi in this context.

Assuming Mississippi gained independence during the civil war. They would have had only one major commodity. Cotton, which they exported in huge quantities to textile mills in the UK. Without federal support on building infrastructure, they would have remained backward and hugely dependent on cotton. UK and US textile mills would have competed and corrupted the Mississippi rulers and so on.

So, yes, if you must use it in the context of when the term was coined then historicall, I'd say Mississippi would have been a prime candidate.

In the modern understanding of the words, I stand by my opinion.
  #136  
Old 12-17-2013, 07:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NiceGuyJack View Post
The term Banana Republic was coined and was originally based on the late 18th century Honduras and Guatemala, this is true. But I have seen the words used to describe other economically backward nations. Where leaders are incapable or too greedy to invest and improve on a nations infrastructure and are in effect limited to producing raw materials/natural resources for export.

If you want to be so narrow in the definitions so as to be inflexible to the fact that the meaning may have expanded to describe poorly run countries, then fine, let's examine Mississippi in this context.

Assuming Mississippi gained independence during the civil war. They would have had only one major commodity. Cotton, which they exported in huge quantities to textile mills in the UK. Without federal support on building infrastructure, they would have remained backward and hugely dependent on cotton. UK and US textile mills would have competed and corrupted the Mississippi rulers and so on.

So, yes, if you must use it in the context of when the term was coined then historicall, I'd say Mississippi would have been a prime candidate.

In the modern understanding of the words, I stand by my opinion.
Oh, so you meant Mississippi would be close...in an alternate reality where it became a sovereign nation in the the 1860s. That wasn't at all clear from "...states like Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana could possibily be considered close. If they were independent countries, they would certainly be candidates."

The Mississippi of today has a median income of $36,641,, by the way.
  #137  
Old 12-17-2013, 08:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NiceGuyJack View Post
My point is, if you are comparing net wealth of individuals, it should be against the total net wealth of all individuals. Not the net wealth of the country.
The total net wealth of all Americans would not be anywhere near $118trillion.

Having said that, I would agree with you and would seriously doubt that the top 400 and their $2trillion would be 50% of total. I would estimate maybe 3 ~ 5%.

A bit busy right now, but I'll see if I can look up what the actual figure is for The total net wealth of American individuals and get back with a more accurate figure, unless someone here has the time.
Well, the UN had the time... in the report I provided.

Last edited by JohnT; 12-17-2013 at 08:21 AM.
  #138  
Old 12-17-2013, 09:12 AM
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Mississippi is a banana republic because it was economically dependent on a single commodity more than a hundred years ago. Got it.
  #139  
Old 12-17-2013, 11:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright View Post
Mississippi is a banana republic because it was economically dependent on a single commodity more than a hundred years ago. Got it.
In an alternative universe where Mississippi was an independent, sovereign state. With a single crop. I guess they would be a cotton republic. Or something. Except....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Human Action
The Mississippi of today has a median income of $36,641,, by the way.
Which, ironically, probably puts them in the top 20 or so countries in the world by median income. But maybe not, in the fantasy alternative universe where Mississippi is it's own nation with a single crop and a ruling class of elites, with bad infrastructure and worse teeth. The Cotton Republic of Mississippi would probably be fighting insurgents in the the United Rich Folks of Alabama and The Snooty French Empire of Louisiana, definitely making them a banana republic and proving the OP was right!
  #140  
Old 12-17-2013, 11:07 AM
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Well, the UN had the time... in the report I provided.
This was a stupid reply, my apologies. You deserved better, NiceGuyJack.

Here's a chart showing total household net worth in the US.

The OP's article stated (and note that this was just one of many misstatements of fact, I could have focused on others)

Quote:
50 million Americans living in abject poverty, while 400 individuals own more than one-half of the nation’s wealth.
According to the chart, total household wealth in the US is $55 trillion.

According to Forbes, the Forbes 400 own $2 trillion of assets.

No matter how you do the math, no matter how one defines "assets" or "wealth", the articles "statement of fact" that 400 people own half the country is completely asinine.

And, again, I could have picked other "facts" to poke holes into.

... Oh, wait, I did.

Last edited by JohnT; 12-17-2013 at 11:10 AM.
  #141  
Old 12-17-2013, 11:38 AM
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The term Banana Republic was coined and was originally based on the late 18th century Honduras and Guatemala, this is true.
You mean late 19th century, even thought the term wasn't coined until the 20th century and almost everything in the public mind about banana republics comes from the 20th century.

Others have already demolished the rest of your fantasy.
  #142  
Old 12-17-2013, 11:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Human Action View Post
Oh, so you meant Mississippi would be close...in an alternate reality where it became a sovereign nation in the the 1860s. That wasn't at all clear from "...states like Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana could possibily be considered close. If they were independent countries, they would certainly be candidates."

The Mississippi of today has a median income of $36,641,, by the way.
Which makes them part of the 1%!
  #143  
Old 12-17-2013, 12:29 PM
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In an alternative universe where Mississippi was an independent, sovereign state.
Well, they did try that, so it's not too far-fetched.
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Old 12-17-2013, 12:40 PM
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Just to clarify, $36,641 was the median household income. Individual income will, of course, be lower , but being the poorest of the 50 states is like being the 50th best player in the NBA: you're still pretty freakin' good at basketball.

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Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright View Post
Well, they did try that, so it's not too far-fetched.
They were in a confederation with ten other states (albeit a dysfunctional, squabbling one), so they weren't trying to be independent or sovereign per se.
  #145  
Old 12-17-2013, 12:52 PM
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One of the big points of the Confederacy was that the constituent states didn't give up their sovereignty. From the Preamble to the Constitution of the CSA:
Quote:
We, the people of the Confederate States, each state acting in its sovereign and independent character...
The Confederate States retained, among other things, the power to impeach (Confederate) federal judges and other officers assigned to them.
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Old 12-17-2013, 01:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright View Post
One of the big points of the Confederacy was that the constituent states didn't give up their sovereignty. From the Preamble to the Constitution of the CSA:
I read that line as reflecting that the six states whose delegates wrote and signed the Provisional Confederate Constitution, which contains the same phrase, were, having already left the Union, (Dec. 20, 1860 (South Carolina) - February 26, 1861 (Louisiana)), temporarily "free agents", so to speak, before subsuming their sovereignty in the new Confederacy on Feb. 8th (Provisional) and March 11 (Permanent).

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Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright
The Confederate States retained, among other things, the power to impeach (Confederate) federal judges and other officers assigned to them.
Certainly, while in several ways the Confederate Constitution granted more power to the states than the U.S. one did, they weren't sovereign or independent. They were each subject to the acts of the Confederate Congress, including taxes between states, and being prohibited from barring any citizen from the right to travel through another Confederate state, and so forth.
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Old 12-17-2013, 01:52 PM
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Correction: January 26th for Louisiana. All six states had seceded at least 13 days before creating the Confederacy.
  #148  
Old 12-17-2013, 10:10 PM
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This was a stupid reply, my apologies. You deserved better, NiceGuyJack.

Here's a chart showing total household net worth in the US.

The OP's article stated (and note that this was just one of many misstatements of fact, I could have focused on others)



According to the chart, total household wealth in the US is $55 trillion.

According to Forbes, the Forbes 400 own $2 trillion of assets.

No matter how you do the math, no matter how one defines "assets" or "wealth", the articles "statement of fact" that 400 people own half the country is completely asinine.

And, again, I could have picked other "facts" to poke holes into.

... Oh, wait, I did.
$55 trillion sounds more accurate and I guess I wasn't too far off estimating the top 400 would be around 3~5% of the total. Not 50% as agreed.
  #149  
Old 12-17-2013, 11:22 PM
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The Mississippi of today has a median income of $36,641,, by the way.
Which is still the lowest median income in the US. Anyway, I would have thought measuring median individual net worth would be more revealing.
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Originally Posted by JohnT View Post
Great for 50% of Mississippians earning that amount and above. I guess that puts half the state into the 99% world wide.
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Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright View Post
Mississippi is a banana republic because it was economically dependent on a single commodity more than a hundred years ago. Got it.
In all fairness, Mississippi was still heavily dependent on cotton into the late 20th century.
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Originally Posted by Exapno Mapcase View Post
You mean late 19th century, even thought the term wasn't coined until the 20th century and almost everything in the public mind about banana republics comes from the 20th century.
The phrase was coined in 1904, and Mississippi was still a cotton republic in 1904. See the link provided above.

I’m a bit surprised at the reaction to my opinion. I was just pointing out that as a whole, the US couldn’t be considered a Banana Republic as it’s just too big and that taken individually, some states could possibly be considered. Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana come to mind because I find these states to be poorly governed. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there was a fair amount of corruption going on in those states as well, and if they happened to have been independent, they could even be third world countries. The reason they are not is because they are part of the US and they receive more federal money than they pay in taxes.
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Old 12-17-2013, 11:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NiceGuyJack
I’m a bit surprised at the reaction to my opinion. I was just pointing out that as a whole, the US couldn’t be considered a Banana Republic as it’s just too big and that taken individually, some states could possibly be considered. Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana come to mind because I find these states to be poorly governed. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there was a fair amount of corruption going on in those states as well, and if they happened to have been independent, they could even be third world countries. The reason they are not is because they are part of the US and they receive more federal money than they pay in taxes.
And I'm a bit surprised you continue to miss the point...which is that, while it's your opinion that those states are banana republics, you've not demonstrated anything more than that it's your opinion. Sure, if we speculate that in a fantasy universe they were independent nation states on their own they MIGHT be banana republics, in THIS universe they aren't.

As to receiving more in federal moneys than they bring in wrt taxes, do you also consider Florida a banana republic? What about Maine? Virginia? Oregon? How about Maryland? New Mexico...? Ok, I'll give you that one...New Mexico actually IS a banana republic (well, a green chili republic at least ).
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