Sunday, December 5, 2010

America is Leaking Badly

Around the world, nations are shaking their collective heads at an America that can’t seem to catch a break these days and the old ship of state is full of holes and cracks!
by Charlie Leck

Now the title at hand here is very interesting. Does that mean that America isn’t doing a very good job of leaking? Or would that be expressed as America is Leaking Poorly?

For three or four days I’ve been trying to write something significant – or, if not significant, humorous – about the great Wikileaks phenomenon. I worked through a couple of drafts and ended up hitting the ubiquitous delete button on both of them.

Then I read the Tom Friedman column on the subject, The Big American Leak [4 Dec 2010], and asked myself why I was bothering. (Did I ever tell you that Friedman is a Minnesota boy? Yup, he is from right here in Saint Louis Park, an inner-ring suburb of Minneapolis. It’s an interesting community that produced an extraordinary amount of national talent, including, but not limited to, Al Franken and the Cohen Brothers. There’s a story about St. Louis Park and why it produced so many bright, talented people, but I’ll leak that story another time.)

(And also parenthetically, did I ever tell you about one of Kurt Vonnegut’s coolest fictional characters, Kilgore Trout? If you haven’t read Breakfast of Champions, you’ve missed one of the very best novels in American fiction. Continuing on parenthetically, Trout emphatically referred to mirrors as leaks. It’s because he believed they leaked to us images of an exactly parallel universe that lay on the other side of the mirror. So, when we look into a mirror, what we see, looking back at us, is our exact duplicate being in this coexisting world. When Trout heard someone at the bar excuse himself by saying he was “going to take a leak,” old Kilgore thought the fellow meant he was going to steal a mirror. So goes your literature lesson for this morning.)

When I looked into the leak this morning, I was not terribly pleased with the extraterrestrial idiot who looked back at me. Both frightened and bored by the fellow, I promptly told him I needed to go take a leak. I’ve not looked back since.

Where was I? Oh, yes! Thomas L. Friedman, the St. Louis Park boy, had some interesting things to say about the WikiLeaks cables. In a nutshell, the thesis of his column can be summarized like this: “America is leaking power.” Think of leverage as another word for power; for later he says:

“Geopolitics is all about leverage. We cannot make ourselves safe abroad unless we change our behavior at home.”

What he’s getting at is that America cannot really bite the hand that feeds it. We depend too much on Middle East oil and Asian industry and wealth.

“Think how different our conversations with Saudi Arabia would be if we were in the process of converting to electric cars powered by nuclear, wind, domestic natural gas and solar power? We could tell them that if we detect one more dollar of Saudi money going to the Taliban then they can protect themselves from Iran.

“Think how different our conversations with China would be if we had had a different savings rate the past 30 years and China was not holding $900 billion in U.S. Treasury securities – but was still dependent on the U.S. economy and technology. We would not be begging them to revalue their currency…”

What America is leaking, says the St. Louis Park kid, is not oil or money, but leverage! He’s right, you know; but you had to be there to understand.


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1 comment:

  1. What America needs is a prescription for Flomax. I guarantee that will stop the leaking.