Army Bob: Why are we still dependent on our enemies?

by Robert M. Traxler

The Covid-19 “pandemic,” coupled with the “supply chain crisis,” shine a light on the dirty little secret that we are at the mercy of our enemies for basic needs, even vital, lifesaving supplies. We are still paying Russia for oil and gas; the sanctions will take even longer to kick in fully.  

Let’s look at how China has us by the male reproductive organs. I recently had cataract surgery (thanks go out to all the great people at U of Michigan Hospital West, and Dr Doyle), and I needed new glasses. Do you know 85% of all our prescription glasses are made in China?  According to the American Action Forum, 97% of all our antibiotics are made or use components made in China. The United States imports over 600 billion dollars’ worth of Chinese made products, many vital to our health and well being.

A total of 311 corporations, from AT&T to Zale, are dependent on China for all products or components. Such iconic American companies as Harley Davidson, Texas Instruments, 3M, Stanley Tools, Sears-Craftsman, Schwinn, RCA, Old Navy, Nabisco Foods, M&M/Mars Candy, John Deere, American Tourister, Eastman Kodak and 298 more are in China.

Had any surgery lately? Had an infection lately? Have your beloved pets been sick? Eaten meat, chicken, or pork? Then you are dependent on antibiotics made in part or completely in China. Cut the importation of antibiotics, and tens of thousands of Americans will die in days, not months, and a third of our newborn farm animals will die. 

When China and Russia went from communist to strict socialist, we rejoiced and opened the trade super highway. The Chinese allowed some private ownership, with the government owning a controlling interest and “government approved” religion, while not allowing anyone who believes in God to be in the government.

The Russians allowed private ownership and religion, but both China and Russia are still hard-core socialists, with the central government continuing to control prices, wages, distribution and production. We and Western Europe have become dependent on trade with both nations, and a long series of tragedies are in the making. We all need to be thankful that the Covid-19 vaccines used in our nation are made in countries that are our allies, though China produces most Covid-19 vaccines used worldwide. 

Army Bob Traxler

Russian aggression in Ukraine with its war on the people has opened our eyes; we need to take a long hard look at who is producing vital life-saving antibiotics, fuel of all types and other products vital to life. The solution is to place a tariff on goods made in belligerent nations, and thus allow our capitalist system to work. If it’s cheaper to produce the products vital to our nations in Western Europe or Central/South America, we will, capitalism at work.

President Trump tried this, but the Silicon Valley/Big Tech billionaires objected, and with the help of the media killed the endeavor. Seventy percent of all electronics sold in the United States are made totally or in part in China/Taiwan. 

It’s past time to wake up and smell the disasters cooking for our nation; the save-the-world folks are happy to export or outsource our pollution, and the capitalists are joining them in the name of profit. Big Tech and environmentalists joining together to sow the seeds of disaster — what could go wrong?

Symbolism over substance is the order of the day. The media is giddy; we are confiscating the super-yachts and other assets of Russian and Belarusians super rich people– that will show them. After this they must sue for peace with the Ukrainians; how can any belligerent nation survive without a dozen super yachts? President Putin has an 87% approval rating with the Russian people; freezing the assets of a few dozen super rich people will not change that. 

We have banned the importation of Russian oil and coal; why are we importing Russian energy in the first place? Damned if I know, unless it is to keep the environmental lobby happy, again outsourcing pollution. Mine or drill for it here, and we do not need to ship it halfway around the world, burning fossil fuel to power the ships, but the left can say they are reducing carbon in the United States and give themselves awards and decorations for saving the planet.

My opinion.    


  • AB –
    While I seldom agree with most of what you espouse, THIS time I believe you are nearly 100% correct. The US long ago outsourced too much of our country’s production in the chase for higher corporate profits.

    Early in the Bush Administration – long before 9/11 attacks – the Communist Chinese Air Force shot down a US surveillance aircraft, and took four US airmen captive. US citizens reacted in anger. I said then that the best way to pressure the Chinese to release the captives would be economically. Stay out of Best Buy, WalMart, Circuit City (long gone now). Didn’t happen…
    And now we are economically dependent on despots everywhere.

    Must be a little tough to agree with Bernie Sanders and Ross Perot (‘Giant Sucking Sound’) on this issue perhaps?? (Even a stopped clock is correct twice a day…. 😉

    • Great point boot51,
      “America is experiencing inflation, and Republicans are saying it’s because Democrats want to help out average Americans instead of just attending to the wants and desires of billionaires and the fossil fuel industry, as we’ve been doing since 1981.

      In fact, most of today’s inflation was set up by Ronald Reagan when he kicked off the turn of our government from Keynesian to neoliberal economic policies in 1981.

      By any measure the total demand for total goods has been up since the fall of 2020 (after demand for services collapsed six months earlier), and greater demand for anything in the absence of greater supply will drive up prices.

      The best way to stop that “excess in demand” is to resolve the end so people can get back to buying services, but the GOP is fighting any effort to do that in the hopes that by keeping people sick and freaked out they will gain a political advantage over the Democrats.

      Our “supply chain” used to be domestic: now it’s international
      The inflation of the 1970s was 100% caused by two major shocks from the Arabs cutting off our oil supplies because we took Israel’s side in a war with them in 1973 and the Shah fell, cutting off Iranian oil in 1979. Gas went from 36 cents a gallon to “unavailable,” and because gas and oil run everything in our economy from farm machinery to factories to transportation, the prices of everything went up.

      In other words, our “oil supply chain” was not under our control and so we were at the mercy of world oil markets controlled by OPEC.

      This moment is similar with regard to supply, only this time for all goods instead of just oil.

      China shut down two of the world’s largest ports — Shenzen in May for a month and Ningbo-Zhoushan for the same in August — because they found Covid-infected workers in those ports and the country is committed to zero Covid (they’ve had fewer than 5000 deaths since the virus first appeared; we achieved over 800 thousand

      That was massively disruptive to our supply chains, raising prices for shipping and delaying the arrival of goods, as Bloomberg documented in excruciating detail in August.

      None of this would have been an issue if Reagan hadn’t renegotiated the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) to pave the way for the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO), and George W. Bush hadn’t walked China into the WTO in December of 2001.

      Most Americans didn’t even notice (although Bernie was loudly opposed), as it was so soon after 9/11, but at the time China, with four times America’s population, had a GDP of only about $2 trillion. Today their GDP is over $17 trillion.

      Letting every industry in America move their manufacturing (and, thus, their labor costs) to China blew the lid off; their GDP will equal ours ($21 trillion) within a year or three.

      In the meantime, instead of getting furniture, clothes and toys from the Carolinas, machined goods from the industrial Midwest, and tech products from California and Texas, we now have to wait for boats to arrive from China for all of it.

      And waiting for those goods to arrive causes supply chain disruptions that in turn cause shortages which drive up inflation.

      As the BBC’s Economics Editor Faisal Islam noted :

      “Container ships are the juggernauts of global trade. In the five years after China joined the WTO [in 2001], the number of containers on ships coming in and out of China doubled from 40 million to more than 80 million. By 2011, a decade after the country became a WTO member, the number of containers going in and out of China had more than trebled to 129 million.

      “Last year it was 245 million, and while about half of the containers going into China were empty, nearly all those leaving China were full of exports.”

      These products used to come to us by truck and train, from one American city to another. Now they come from China, Vietnam, Mexico

      This was a key part of Reagan’s neoliberal policies, following the dictates of Milton Friedman that corporations, not government, should determine what’s a “free” and “competitive” marketplace.

      It’s why hospitals are marking up sutures 675% along with pretty much anything else they want to price-gouge you on: the local, community-owned hospital is dead and it’s almost all giant chains now. Every industry in America, in fact, is now dominated by 3-5 companies that act as a cartel or oligopoly with the explicit goal of minimizing competition and maximizing profits.

      American industry has never, in our entire history, been more profitable, and American consumers have never in our history been more severely ripped-off. It’s why in America we pay five times as much as Europeans for cell service, internet service, and as much as ten times as much for pharmaceuticals, among other things.

      The average American family pays $5000 a year more than Canadians, Mexicans or Europeans for total average annual family purchases because in 1983 Reagan instructed the DOJ and several other agencies to stop enforcing the Sherman and other anti-trust acts and nobody has restarted them since (although Biden is talking about it now). The last big breakup was initiated by Nixon and finished by Carter: it was AT&T, which has now recombined as a new monopoly.

      So these giant companies are making up for lost time, jacking up the prices of everything they can to recover lost 2020 profits. The result looks like inflation but, in reality, it’s just good old fashioned price gouging, something past presidents (FDR and Nixon in particular) use to prosecute companies for.

      In summary, inflation is a very real concern. But it’s not Biden’s fault, it’s not simple, and if there’s any politician you want to point a finger at, I’d argue that “it all started with Reagan”

  • Boot51,
    Thank you for the comment. I am sure Senator Sanders would not agree with the problems pointed out with socialism, and that capitalism can and has worked, and worked well. Senator Sanders would approve of government ownership of production, wages and distribution, as we find in China and Russia also he calls our nation the worst nation in the world, and sang the praises of Russia. Mr. Perot a libertarian was against any government control let alone a socialist system.
    Thanks for the comment.

  • Mr. Traxler, I’ll offer a possible answer to your question: In 2010, the Supreme Court’s conservative majority ruled in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that wealthy, corporations, special interest groups, and their dark money-funded “super PACs” could spend unlimited money to influence our elections. This ruling and similar court decisions over time combined with new term limits laws to greatly expand the power of “big money” in our three branches of government.

    America’s wealthy and their international oligarch partners don’t view the Russians, the Chinese, the North Koreans and their autocratic allies as “enemies.” Instead, they just see customers, investors and business partners, with whom they can make even more money, and gain even more power and control in our country, and around the world.

    For the rich, the world is their oyster. Usually they win, sometimes they lose a few, but it’s a long-term game for them. The price we pay for gas, where it came from, national borders, immigration, where things are manufactured, inflation, unemployment, pandemics, the rule of law, wars and body bags are of interest only to the extent that it affects their bottom line. Whatever happens, you can bet that somebody, somewhere in our country is making money on the deal. And if they can make more money buying, selling, or building outside of the U.S.A., they’re happy to game our system and tax laws so they can make it happen.

    Your focus typically connects everything bad that happens to the evils of socialism and the Democrats. But if you follow the money and connect the dots, you might find some additional answers.

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