Russia - Macro Lessons for America

It is not my aim to be political, therefore if anyone comments, I may choose not to reply not out of rudeness, but because the board leaders here have made clear - political mud wrestling is for different forums.

But as we’ve seen, issues of war and peace, issues of human capital is a worthy part of macro economics.

There was a time I was the typical American political observer: Had my favorite cable channel, my little slogans. Big time flag waver. Many years ago that stopped and it’s liberating to just call it like I see it.

I came to the conclusion - that Red run amok, Blue run amok - both sides of the same coin and that people of goodwill on both sides - can craft ways forward and I feel proof lies - in places like - Austin, TX. Raleigh, NC. Northern Virginia and many others. Here we have Blue education, Blue inclusiveness, Blue creativity, combined with some business friendly Red policies, and maybe certain “Red” lines drawn - perhaps better off not crossed.

Anyhow, I look at Russia- as a nation, an economy, a people. And it’s not fair to use America as a standard but it IS ok to use it as a goal because many - want to emulate America and Americanism.

I feel ALL sides - can look at Russia and learn lessons - very relevant to macroeconomics.

Defense, Military spending

It’s easy. Even well intentioned to say - spend less on bombs and more on schools. And when some requested Europe spend more on defense it was scoffed at. Look around - nobody is laughing now. France, Germany, will now up their spending. Even Japan in recent years has quietly made some changes in the rules where it can have ore leeway to build up defenses. Conversely - many of the most hawkish voices against Putin today - were equally loud in opposition to America’s nuclear buildup - I don’t see them advocating ICBM freezes today.

Capitalism, Profit Motive

I’m not advocating Laissez-faire (that’s French:). But, at times the very ‘greed’ and profit motive we like to criticize or vilify, is very responsible for the many levers America has to pull, in a conflict such as this - literally right down to taking away Big Macs. But the myriad of economic and consumer conveniences, technological advances - yep, people did it for the money and today, America has leverage.

Human Capital

Some love to advocate “small government”. Love AmeriCA, but don’t want to help AmeriCANS. Some will wave the flag - but freak out that money was spent to expand a highway or modernize a transit system. Some love the “sanctity of life” - - yet are nowhere to be found when investments in early education, and formal education and community colleges is proposed.


Some shout ‘protectionism!!’ “isolationism”! Respectfully - let us remember that Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi, BOTH saw, and used economic nationalism as tools of defeating evil, more powerful rivals. I am not saying Fortress America nor a 100% “Made in the USA” requirement. Not even close. But look at Russia - America has seen to it that Russia can’t go to the bathroom now - and I’m only exaggerating a little. Credit cards, internet, tech gadgets, even French fries - Russia is under America’s thumb. Where it comes to essential things, and even future technologies and materials and products - whether it’s “fossil fuels” - or semiconductors - America mustn’t be dependent on others, especially potentially adversaries.

Recall a previous Empire- Britain’s Boer War - it sort of shook their belief in themselves, and their reliance on other countries for daily goods – didn’t turn out well.

And then - some on this board have correctly alluded to this new economy, where the well educated and well heeled can zoom away to prosperity, replete with growing 401Ks and all. While others - are not able to and fall behind - making them susceptible to divisive, non productive, backward looking demagoguery. And in some cases - we turn a taxpayer, into a ward of state - a double hit to the public treasury.

Think about it folks - we are seeing the Cracker Barrel vs Whole Foods civil war - and something needs to give.

It’s tough, but all Americans - need to value one another

It’s tough.**** And I am guilty***** of it just as much as anyone. But in the end - be it the college professor, be it the trucker, be it the poet or the CEO - - all play an integral part and each other should recognize that, vs vilifying the demogra[hic they don’t like. Sometimes I feel Americans should join a foreign-exchange program - and go spend a month with – Americans.

Otherwise who knows, in a century - someone else will be able to yank OUR internet or credit cards or burger joints.

Perhaps this post and $4.39 will buy a gallon of gas :). But - this whole Russia thing is a real big wake up call to all parties and philosophies that some compromise, some willingness to divorce ideology is needed… because getting 51% or 40% of what you want - is better than getting 0% - and merely letting TV hosts and Bloggers gin up ratings.