Inflationomics

What Kind of “Arab Spring” Will the United States Have?

Lots of people are watching the Arab Spring with a curious fascination and wondering whether the same thing could happen in the United States.

But, let’s take two steps back.  Remember that there have been two different types of revolutions—there were peaceful revolutions such as those in Algeria and Egypt, where the dictators fled (or tried to flee), and there were violent revolutions such as those in Libya and Syria.  In Algeria, the straw that broke the camel’s back was the self-immolation of a fruit stand vendor who was frustrated to death by the local bureaucracy.  In other parts of the Arab world, you had a rise in food prices that set the populace in motion.  While they were angered by rising food prices, they were also angered by their governments’ incompetent response to their problems, thus the revolutions.

While it may seem obvious to some people, others may not see that people around the world are similar in many ways.  Take food for example, or the lack of it.  It makes people very angry when they can’t afford food, and, like the Arabs who grew frustrated by rising food prices and their governments’ incompetence, the same reaction could occur anywhere in the world, given a similar situation; i.e., food riots, calls for a new leadership, and a change in circumstances (without knowing whether the change is for better or worse).

In my opinion, if Americans are faced with the same dilemma after a few years of runaway inflation, they too, could behave “badly” when hungry.  The big question, of course, is how will the U.S. government react?  Will it capitulate peacefully and let the market solve the problems, or will it turn on its own citizens like Gaddafi in Libya and al-Assad in Syria have done?  Your guess is as good as mine, but…you have to wonder why the U.S. Congress recently passed the National Defense Authorization Act that gives the executive branch of government the authority to indefinitely detain or kill any American without cause.  Combine that permission with a long history of settling disputes with force and the means with which to use force (drones that come in all sizes and shapes, guns that can shoot around corners, x-ray devices that can see through buildings, and missiles that can home in on laser pin-pointed targets), and it wouldn’t be hard to imagine a very bloody mess happening very quickly.

On the other hand, such a decision point is probably several years away.  For now, the rest of the world is still accepting our paper money in return for real goods, farmers are still accepting paper money for food, grocery stores are still accepting food stamps from government dependents, and the unemployed folks are still able to collect unemployment compensation, so all is well.  Still, it will be interesting to see what kind of “Arab” Spring we will have when inflationomicssm runs its full course and the U.S. dollar becomes worthless.

Robert Jackson Smith

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