At least one American blogger likes the idea. Posted at http://blogs.citypages.com/blotter/2008.12/would_minnesota.php
Well, the United States is really screwed financially and it’s all falling apart. Talk about fear-based journalism written by a Russian. But what if this guy is right?
Russian academic Igor Panarin has been predicting the U.S. will fall apart in 2010 and now people are starting to take this once crazy theory a little more seriously.
And a collapsing country could mean a split of the states into surrounding countries with more power, he tells the Wall Street Journal. ”There’s a 55-45% chance right now that disintegration will occur,” he says.
Our threats to move to Canada might come true as Panarin says Minnesota along with other northern states would become part of Canada or go under Canadian influence. All hail the Maple leaf.More from the WSJ:Mr. Panarin posits, in brief, that mass immigration, economic decline, and moral degradation will trigger a civil war next fall and the collapse of the dollar. Around the end of June 2010, or early July, he says, the U.S. will break into six pieces — with Alaska reverting to Russian control.
He based the forecast on classified data supplied to him by FAPSI analysts, he says. He predicts that economic, financial and demographic trends will provoke a political and social crisis in the U.S. When the going gets tough, he says, wealthier states will withhold funds from the federal government and effectively secede from the union. Social unrest up to and including a civil war will follow.
The U.S. will then split along ethnic lines, and foreign powers will move in. California will form the nucleus of what he calls “The Californian Republic,” and will be part of China or under Chinese influence. Texas will be the heart of “The Texas Republic,” a cluster of states that will go to Mexico or fall under Mexican influence. Washington, D.C., and New York will be part of an “Atlantic America” that may join the European Union. Canada will grab a group of Northern states Prof. Panarin calls “The Central North American Republic.” Hawaii, he suggests, will be a protectorate of Japan or China, and Alaska will be subsumed into Russia.Would it really be so bad being a Canadian? Joining forces with those nice Central North American Republic folks could be quite nice. Maybe we’d miss the West Coast, and New York, but the rest we could bear to lose.
The seven deadly sins are rooted in what the early Christians considered as acts involving the most objectionable of all the vices. They’ve been the stock of fables and morality tales ever since. But they can also be applied to a catalog of the world’s worst events of 2008:
LUST, overpowering craving, as in Robert Mugabe’s crazed clinging to power in bankrupt Zimbabwe. As if inflation at two million per cent were not enough, a cholera epidemic has infected 25,000 people in a plague the dictator denies even exists.
GLUTTONY, the gorging of food or drink, as in the global oil fraud where prices were driven artificially — through speculation and monopolization — four times beyond their true market value. Enrichment beyond satisfaction, followed by the inevitable purging.
GREED, the desire to acquire more than one needs, and chief cause of the current global economic crisis. Specifically, the conspirators who designed the sub-prime mortgage dodge, hooking millions of unaware Americans into obligations they had no hope of meeting. Then, the wizards of Wall Street “securitized” this worthless paper and sold it off to banks and financial insitutions around the world. As the bail-outs go on, why has no commission been appointed to investigate this pattern of deceit? Why so few criminal charges? Will President Obama dig into this?
SLOTH, the indolence and laziness of the pampered, specifically the Chinese entrepreneurs behind the shoddy construction of schools that resulted in the deaths of thousands of children when earthquakes hit Sichuan on May 12. Add to these the criminals who enriched themselves by spiking milk with melamine, thereby artificially raising its apparent protein level.
WRATH, fierce anger seeking vengeance, the characteristic of the Islamic militants who plotted and carried out the November 26 attacks in Mumbai that killed more than 170. As is usual in Al-Qaeda-type raids, the victims were innocents, some tortured before being killed.
ENVY, the discontent of covetousness over another’s success (or presence), surely a factor in the interminable conflict in Palestine. The years ends with Israeli retaliation for Hamas attacks in retaliation of … and it goes on and on.
PRIDE, the excessive opinion of one’s own worth, an attribute of all those financiers and engineers who value themselves above the sanctity of nature, as in the plundering of the Alberta tar sands. One of the greatest environmental depradations on earth, ranking with the destruction of the troipical rain forests and the emptying of the oceans of much of its marine life.
And what will be the punishment for these seven deadly sins of 2008? Unfortunately, it is falling on all of us.
Wishing all my readers
the Best of the Season
I enjoy exchanging thoughts and ideas with my friend Michael Callaghan. With Michael’s permission, I thought I would share with you some of our recent conversations.
On Friday, I sent Michael a copy of a letter I submitted to the Globe and Mail (which was published the next day.) Here is what I wrote:
“It is shameful that in praising Finance Minister Flaherty’s appointment of an economic advisory council as Obama-like (Opening ears, raising hopes – Dec. 19), you overlook the fact that this was the chief recommendation of Liberal leader Stephane Dion when he set out a plan in the leaders’ debate on October 1 for coping with the economic crisis.
”At the time, Mr. Harper said “You’re panicking, Stephane,” and the media ridiculed the proposal as meaningless.
”It is doubly ironic that the potential stimulus figure you attribute to the Harper government (Harper eyes stimulus worth $30 billion – Dec. 19), is the very sum set out by Dion’s Liberal-NDP Coalition as the amount that would be required to get the country moving again.
”Clearly, we now have a Dion government – without Mr. Dion.”
Quite right. I told my Tory friend that the brazen lying of Harper and his side-kick has been grossly offensive and increasingly dangerous.. The two of them milked the idea that Canada was largely unaffected by the economic storm swirling through other G10 countries as if precautions they had taken were shielding us. Now they propose the same G10 measures. Just as the Opposition parties claim, Harper is a brazen
liar and he can not be trusted.
Anyway, you might also, while you are on the injustice of it all,
consider the Obama cap and trade proposal.
Nonetheless, I think Dion defeated himself. He was a “clarity” man who didn’t have any. The Liberal party needs to rid itself of everyone in
charge of “communications.” Getting out the word began to fail back in
Martin’s day. I remember throwing up my hands when I heard Martin on the radio bleeding all over Rex Murphy. “Can no one,” I thought, “get that
fool to shut up?” And Rex Murphy?!!. Owning Rex Murphy is like having
Then Michael sent me the following:
I see by a report today that the inflation rate dropped, largely because
of a decline in the price of gasoline, since food prices increased. This reminds me of “core inflation” which arbitrarily excludes prices for both energy and food. Which reminds me that Milton Friedman used core inflation numbers of the ’70s to propound his monetarist nonsense. I call it nonsense because it was clear that the oil price bomb of those years caused a general rise in prices that was reflected in all the prices in the economy. If government intervention could have forced gasoline prices down we would have had the same effect then that we have today.
What was needed was an NEP. No one has mentioned it yet, but the effect
of what Obama promises is the US version of an National Energy Progame
for today, and it goes a lot further than Trudeau’s NEP. So, get ready out West, oil prices are collapsing and big government is stepping in to
control the business.
To which I responded as follows:
You are right. What intrigues me is that price is supposed to be a factor of demand vs supply. Now in the past couple of months the price of oil has fallen by three-quarters, from $160 to $40 a barrel, with only a marginal reduction in demand and no increase in supply. In fact, OPEC has been reducing supply.
So my question is, if the current price is a reasonable reflection of demand vs supply, why did the price ever get to $160? I can only conclude it was the result oif a monopolistic conspiracy – stated or unstated – among the major suppliers, abbetted by speculators who stupidly assumed they could push the price ever higher. It is this sort of nonsense that makes mockery of Adam Smith and all the cvonventional economists.
The problem is that the alternative – state control – is equally bad or worse because then there is nobody to monitor the criminal actions of those controlling the state. So my motto on that, just like “separation of church and state,” is “separation of commerce and state”
What we need to do is rigorously monitor the free market to keep its players honest. We moved in that directioin from the 30s to the 80s, then the pendulum swung back, with today’s disastrous results. Hopefully, we’ll now put in place regulatory strategies that will yield long term improvement.
What do you think? I’d be glad to hear your ideas.
Re the comments above, Jeffrey Simpson’s Globe column from Saturday is a terrific read:
For the past few years we’ve all bowed down to the great god Free Market, not realizing we were giving free rein to all the thieves, cheats and liars of big-time Capitalism to run roughshod over our economic well-being.
One guy who didn’t fall over and lie down in front of the corporate steamroller is Danny Williams, the lawyer/businessman Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador.
For his forthright defense of the right of his province’s people for a fair share in their natural wealth, I nominate Premier Williams as Canada’s Man of the Year. I say Man because he’s a guy — and what a guy!
David Newell/The Advertiser
This week,the Premier served notice on AbitibiBowater that it didn’t just have ever-lasting rights to timber and water resources after it was no longer operating in the province.
This followed the big American pulp and paper company’s decision to close its Grand Falls mill next March, putting 600 people out of work.
Now, a company has every right to shut a plant when it can no longer be operated profitably. (Note to the Big 3.) And perhaps there’s not much future in pulp and paper, considering the ease and economy of digital communication.
But it’s a different story when the company expects to also sell off to the highest bidder the rights it had held to timber and water rights as a condition of its “milling and logging business.”
So when the Premier pushed a bill through the Legislature to expropriate those rights it was, in the opinion of most perople in N&L (and many others) an entirely juistifiable action.
That’s because a 1905 agreement allowed AbitibiBowater’s predecessor “to have, use and enjoy for its milling and logging business all streams, lakes, watercourses, springs or water …”
No more milling and logging, no more water rights, or cutting rights either. Fair’s fair.
None of this will restore the jobs of the pulp workers. Nor guarantee an alternative source of income from the expropriated water and timber rights.
But Danny Williams has demonstrated again that he’s a Premier who truly acts as a steward for his people’s well-being.
It was this attitude that enabled Newfoundlanders to benefit by hundreds of millions of dollars from the hard bargain he drove with oil companies wanting to tap the Hebron offshore oil field.
At first, the companies walked away, crying they were being robbed. But they soon enough came around again, ready to face the reality of dealing with a tough-minded negotiator.
Then, of course, there was Danny Williams’ principled “Anybody but Harper” campaign in the late federal election. He felt the Prime Minister had broken a committment on equalization, and showed that he had the guts to fight back.
Sure, they’re calling him Danny Chavez, the socialist of the north. He’s not. And it’s too bad a few other Canadian politicians aren’t capable of being equally ballsy.
Premier Campbell of B.C., for instance. His province continues to pay through the nose for power produced by Alcan’s Kemano hydro station, even though Alcan’s new owner, Rio Tinto, refuses to invest in keeping alive the Kitimat aluminum smelter that was the basis for Alcan receiving hydro rights.
Of course, there’ll be a long legal dispute as AbitibiBowater tries to use NAFTA rules to stop the expropriation. Ironically, it’s the federal government, as the partner in NAFTA, that will have to defend Williams’ actions.
Meanwhile, all hail Danny Williams — Canada’s Man of the Year for 2008.
People say such stupid things that it’s never too difficult to pick out the most egregious (and sometimes insightful) in any roundup of sound bites. Here’s a few that I thought worth passing on:
President George Bush
Dec. 16 – “I’ve abandoned free market principles to save the free market system.”
Muntadhar al-Zaidi, Iraqi TV correspondent who threw his shoes at George Bush
Dec. 16 – “This is a goodbye kiss from the Iraqi people, dog!”
‘Go out USA’ sign
Bernard Madoff, Wall Street Trader in $50 billion fraud
Dec. 13 – Release of 2007 Video – “In today’s regulatory environment it’s virtually impossible to violate rules and this is something that the public doesn’t really understand. It is impossible for you to violate the rules and go undetected.”
Sean Avery, Dallas Stars $15 million ‘bad boy’
Dec. 14 (quoted after suspension) – “I am really happy to be back in Calgary. … I just want to comment on how it has become like a common thing in the NHL for guys to fall in love with my sloppy seconds.”
Robert Fulford, National Post columnist
Sept. 5 – The Canadian election may well be among the least significant events in living memory. What, after all, is at stake? Nothing, so far as I can tell. The Prime Minister, with his present minority caucus, can get just about anything from Parliament that he asks.
Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance –
Economic Update, Nov. 27 – “Today, our Government is announcing a series of measures designed to strengthen Canada’s fiscal position in an uncertain time. These measures will enable us to plan on a balanced budget …”
Stephen Harper, Prime Minister –
Oct. 2 – “You’re panicking, Stéphane,” – response to Stéphane Dion’s 30-day plan to deal with economic crisis.
Dec. 15 – “I’ve never seen such uncertainty in terms of looking forward to the future. I’m very worried about the Canadian economy.”
Sarah Palin, Republican VP candidate
Sept. 11 - You can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska.”
I know I’ve missed a raft of good ones. If you’ve got one, send it to me!
I am always intrigued by the lengths politicians are willing to go to avoid answering a question.
The other morning, I watched Finance Minister Jim Flaherty being asked what he thought about the Bank of Canada’s declaration that we could expect a lot more mortgage foreclosures in Canada in the future. Here’s how he answered that one:
- First, he said it’s important to encourage Canadians to save, and that is why his government launched the $5,000 tax-free savings account that goes into effect January 1st.
- Second, that Canada has no sub-prime mortgage crisis because his government wisely increased down payments to five percent and reduced the amortization period from 40 to 35 years.
And that was it. Not a word to either recognize — or challenge — the Bank’s forecast. Not a word of sympathy to those who are struggling to hang on to their homes.
Why? Because that would undercut Mr. Harper’s position that all’s well under Tory economic policies. Why worry? Be happy continues to be the message.
Now word comes that Canada DOES HAVE A SUB-PRIME MORTGAGE CRISIS . The reason is the Harper government in 2007 caved into U.S. lobbyists and brought in lax mortgage policies that permitted American companies to provide high-risk mortgages to Canadian home buyers.
The Globe and Mail has an extensive expose in its Saturday (Dec. 13) issue explaining how these American companies, including the now devastated AIG, were “all hungry for a piece of what is regarded as one of the most lucrative and the second-largest mortgage insurance market in the world.”
In came 40-year and no-down payment mortgages, taken up by the very people that the Bank of Canada now says are at risk of losing their homes.
True, the 40-year mortgages were eliminated in June of this year, but by then the handwriting was on the wall.
Only one Conservative MP, Garth Turner, who later switched to the Liberals and was defeated in October’s general election, resisted the changes although he too finally voted in favor.
Turner has since written The Greater Fool, warning that Canadians ”have been seduced by a cabal made up of real estate marketers, builders, lenders and bankers, along with a pliant media, to buy, buy, buy. Canada has its own, hidden debt crisis just as dire as the subprime mortgage fiasco.”
Of course, the Minister of Finance assumes no responsibility for this. But Turner’s right — we have a debt crisis, not a credit crisis — and efforts to get people to spend themselves even more into debt aren’t going to go anywhere.
We won’t won’t start spending again until we’ve paid down our debts. So get ready for a 2 or 3-year recession.
Also worth reading:
Michael Ignatieff. Author and journalist. Harvard professor. Public intellectual. Politician.
The new leader of the Liberal party has succeeded in each of the fields he’s chosen to enter since being raised in Toronto as a member of a Russian emigre family with a distinguished history.
Best known for his books (a novel Scar Tissue was even short-listed for the Booker Prize), Ignatieffas an author has plumbed complex human and global issues for the past 25 years.
Will he be equally successful in his new career as leader of the Liberal party?
I carefully watched the first interview he gave after receiving the endorsement of his party’s caucus and its insiders. He came across as a confident personality, sure of himself as a leader, and decisive but careful in his answers.
Liberals will welcome this new sense of sure-footedness. The past two years under Stephane Dion have been difficult for Liberals, despite their admiration of Dion’s integrity and his intellectual ability.
Interestingly, the Liberals have gone for two professors in a row. And when Ignatieff was first courted by Toronto Liberals back in 2004, there was talk of him being the guy who would restore the lustre of Pierre Trudeau to the party.
Certainly, the Liberals have not had a leader since Trudeau of such cerebral powers.
The big question hovering over the Liberals right now is whether they will remain true to their pact to form a Liberal-NDP coalition if the Harper government falls and the Opposition gets a chance to take over without an election.
Ignatieff put the question to rest. “I am prepared to enter into a coalitiuon government if that is what the Governor General asks me to do.”
But note the “if.” He’s also said, mirroring Mackenzie King’s famous conscription statement, “Coalition if necessary, but not necessarily coalition.” And more: “No party can have the confidence of the country if it decides to vote now against a budget it hasn’t even read.”
Also yesterday, Prime Minister Harper phoned Ignatieff to arrange a meeting to discuss the government’s response to problems of the economy.
Ignatieff has made it clear he would not be going to Harper as any kind of supplicant, pleading for certain things to be put into the budget. This was the scenario Harper seemed to have in mind when he said he was willing to “listen” to the ideas of the Opposition.
Ignatieff is of course prepared to meet Harper. But he adds: “I made it clear I don’t want to get into secret negotiations or backdoor deals.”
Certainly, a good start. The Globe and Mail correctly writes that the onus is now on the Prime Minister:
Harper’s real test, the Globe says, will come “when the House of Commons reconvenes. If Mr. Harper does not change the way he treats Parliament now that Mr. Ignatieff is leading the opposition, his prime ministership will likely be on borrowed time.”
Also worth reading:
In the days since the Governor General permitted Prime Minister Harper to close down Parliament, it’s become more clear than ever that only the Coalition of Liberals and NDP will restore majority democratic government in Canada.
Once again, Mr. Harper demonstrated today in his interview with the CBC’s Peter Mansbridge that he has no real understanding of the economic problems facing Canada and that he has no strategy to deal with them.
Let’s not lose sight of the fact that while Mr. Harper has focused on how he can gain partisan advantage from the urgent economic situation Canada is facing, he’s been woefully inept at putting forward any meaningful program to deal with growing unemployment, the loss of foreign markets, the persistent credit crunch, or the need to protect Canadians at the bottom on the economic ladder.
From the day of his Economic Update, in which he sought to use the country’s dire economic situation as a scenario to gain partisan advantage, to his blantantly misleading denunciation of the Liberal-NDP Coalition as a sell-out to Quebec separtists, Mr. Harper has shown where his priorities lay.
In neither his speech to the country last Wednesday night, nor in his Masnbridge interview this afternoon, did Mr. Harper offer even an inkling of what he’s prepared to do. It’s as if he doesn’t recognize what’s happening in the world, or if he does, he hasn’t the slightest idea what to do about it.
About the only thing he has accomplished is to give the Parti Quebecois a boost in the Quebec election. By stirring up the spectre of a separitist veto over Coalition policies, saying he’d never agree to working with a party that wants to destroy Canada, he gave a great boost to the PQ in the provincial campaign.
The result: a narrow Liberal majority, with a PQ comeback giving them 51 seats, enough to hold Premier Jean Charest to a narrow majority with66 seats. The election restored the PQ to Official Opposition status, and gave them the credibility to mount a new drive for separation in the coming years.
What is it about these Conservatives? In 1911, Robert Borden defeated Wilfrid Laurier by making partners with Quebec nationalists. In the process, he set back the cause of free trade by 75 years.
In 1984, Brian Mulroney told Quebeckers that the Canadian Constitution wasn’t “worth the paper it was written on.” His fiddling with the Meech Lake and Charlottetown agreements so turned off Quebec that Mulroney’s Quebec deputy, Luc ien Bouchard, put together the Bloc Quebecois. Together, the BQ and the PQ came within a few thousand votes of winning the 1995 Quebec referendum.
Now it’s Mr. Harper who is driving Quebeckers into the arms of the separatists.
Given these facts, it is urgent that newly-affirmed Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff stand by the Liberal-NDP coalition crafted by his predecessor, Stephane Dion.
It’s the only way to defeat Mr. Harper when he faces the inevitable confidence vote after Parliament resumes on January 27th.
And if, instead of the Coalition being given a chance to govern, the country is forced into an election, it will take a united Liberal-NDP campaign to overcome vote-splitting by anti-government forces.
In that event, the choice is obvious. No Liberals should run against sitting NDP MPs, and the NDP should not run candidates against incumbent Liberals.
The result will be a solid Liberal-NDP majority that is not dependent on Bloc support. We’ll be able to get on with the business of protecting Canadians in the worst economic times since the 1930s.