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1:46 AM Wed, Nov. 14th

Letter: The Economic Path To Democracy

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Everyone is worried sick about the alleged massive debt that western countries are piling up by way of stimulating their own economies. Wouldn't that energy be better spent encouraging the perspective that the economy will be stimulated back into prosperity which in turn will lead to everyone becoming wealthier -- individuals, businesses, banks, governments -- all sharing in the wealth which will in turn stimulate even more growth?

After all, that was the unspoken premise of the global detatchment from gold as a monetary standard in 1971. And it happened in spades. The western world prospered and became wealthy once currency was free of its bonds of gold and tied rather to the productivity of a nation.

When other nations began hopping on the capitalist free-market train the wealth of the world became immense. Sure, at its height, a bunch of people and institutions got too greedy and took more than their fair share which led to the current economic pile we're in. But we're on our way back out of it and trying to set some regulations to prevent such abuses from happening in the future. We just have to be careful not to over-regulate and choke it back into unconsciousness.

Unfortunately, that goes against human nature. People will be greedy. It's written in stone. Think about it. The human species has had a large array of differing systems for governing ourselves throughout history and the truth is many of them would probably have worked and worked well were it not for the seven deadly sins, among which greed takes second seat to none.

It has long been my opinion that these seven deadlies are the bastard stepchildren of fear and that if our species could only learn to deal constructively with our fears, to recognize when they are valid and when they are merely a construct of our overactive imaginations, we might... well, who knows to what heights we might have risen.

But no dispair. Those heights have not been taken from us -- just merely delayed. We have another round of prosperity at hand, standing in the wings waiting to take stage center in more moral and ethical garb one hopes. Consider how the global economy has grown.

When Christ walked the earth the Global Domestic Product (the value of all goods and services produced including the loaves and fishes) was a mere $102 billion. By 1870 the world had reached a GDP level of One Trillion Dollars. By 1950 we had grown globally to more than $5 trillion. In 1973, just two years after we left the gold standard, the GDP was more than $16 trillion and just last year had more than quadrupled to $75 trillion.

Of the trillion dollar economies in the world, the U.S. still ranks first at $14 tn, followed closely by China with $8 tn. Next comes Japan ($4 tn), India ($3.4 tn), Germany ($2.7 tn) the United Kingdom ($2.1 tn), Russia ($2.1 tn) and France ($2 tn) followed by the rest of the nearly two hundred nations which figure prominently in the global economy.

I know a lot think it might have been nice to stay isolated and survive solely on our own without foreign spending but that's wishing after spilt milk. Pandora's out of her box and there's no putting her back in again. Of course we might come to find that Pandora's not the wicked witch she's often been painted to be.

The U.S. has been top dog for so long that an undesirable event has occurred. Our abundance of wealth and productivity has become a mainstay of most other western economies. This is not good. Much larger portions than is wise of other nations' spending has been on our products. This can be seen by the popularity of U.S. brands around the world. Children in the heart of Africa sport Converse tennies and dispite it's bankruptcy, GM vehicles can be found around the globe from pole to pole.

But when 30% to 50% of another's nations economy depends on buying from the U.S., that's not a good situation. A healthy balance seems to be when a nation consumes at least half of its own goods. Buy At Home is a good practice only half the time for the global economy to be self-sustaining. And as you can see by the numbers above, while we're still top dog that is likely to change in the very near future.

China, with it's estimated 1.5 billion people -- five times the population of the U.S. -- has a huge consumer base to work with and they are in the process of putting that to good use. Until recently most of China's vast wealth has been from exports but they have realized that in order to avoid becoming top heavy they have to develop their own consumer base which means that the majority of their people are going to have to work, make money and spend it locally.

The funny thing I've noticed about nations that develop capitalist free-market economies is that they soon become democratic nations. Wealth frees people from bondage and when people have that sort of money and freedom they want to rule their own lives. Communist rule in China is ending. The writing is on the wall for all to see. Nor is this limited to China. Russia, India, Brazil and other former dictatorships have become not only wealthy but more democratic each day. It seems the path to democracy is through wealth which buys freedom.

(All statistics from Wikipedia.org as ranked by the IMF.)

Ed Tomchin

Golden Valley