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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    U.S. economic decline reverberates worldwide

    2008 has not been a good year. No matter what the outcome of the election is, historians will look to ’08 as the turning point – a time when the excess of the past eight years reached its boiling point, spilling all over taxpayers, the future generation and countries that have inextricable ties to the United States. It is that dreaded ripple effect that will undoubtedly take the next president years to mop up.

    It’s too easy to point a meaty finger at the Bush administration, and I’m afraid I’m not skilled enough in either business or economics to slink back in my chair, put that in a pipe and smoke it. As much as I want to blame Bush for all of my problems, there are likely just a few things he’s not responsible for.

    What I do know is that the events of this year so far have been crappy on a biblical scale. What do you say about a year that claimed the lives of Heath Ledger, Bobby Fischer, Roy Scheider, Arthur C. Clarke, Sydney Pollack, Bo Diddley, Tim Russert, George Carlin, Bernie Mac and David Foster Wallace? (Also dead: Chuck Heston, Jesse Helms and William F. Buckley, Jr., but I can live without ’em.)

    Let’s look at the year in a quick review: The price of petroleum soared to $100 a barrel, creating bulbous gas pains across the country; a deadly tornado struck the South, killing over 50 people; food and gas hikes overseas caused Third World riots; 69,000 were killed in an earthquake in China; three bitches of hurricanes swept through America and elsewhere and finally, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (not a lost ’70s adult contemporary duo) requiring government intervention, the Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy and an upcoming $700 billion economic bailout. It’s all veering toward Weekly World News territory, but not even Bat Boy can help us laugh through this disaster.

    It goes without saying that the American economic problem reaches beyond party lines and must be solved as it sits in Congress. It is neither a Democratic nor a Republican issue at this point, but a universal one that affects those not only here but overseas. Aching to sign up for a study abroad program? You might want to hold off on that for a bit. The weak dollar continues to limp along on the other side of the pond, with a Reuters report calling this “”the worst credit crisis since the Great Depression,”” adding that the bailout “”would give sweeping powers to the U.S. Treasury to buy up toxic mortgage-related debt from financial firms, including U.S. subsidiaries of foreign banks.””

    Japan, another country that is on economic life support, will stand to benefit from the bailout plan, according to a Bank of Japan official mentioned in a report by The Washington Post, who said that “”Japan simply cannot afford to criticize Washington or consider withdrawing its roughly $860 billion in U.S. investments, mostly Treasury bonds.””

    Once the bailout was announced, other foreign financial entities with American ties were quick to beg for a piece of the pie. UBS, Barclays, HSBC, Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse were all banks mentioned in a New York Times article as having stateside connections, which prompted critics to lambaste the total cost of the plan, initially drafted as being a U.S. “”stimulus”” package.

    The problem with being a superpower is that all of our decisions, good and bad, have widespread influence, whether it’s a hackneyed foreign policy or financial mismanagement. International relations and maintaining good ground with those overseas is becoming increasingly important as the United States is starting to lose some of its steam. It’s true that the economy ebbs and flows, but right now it’s sitting at the bottom of the ocean, looking up.

    It’s a bit surreal to think that the election is just a little over a month away and that this issue will be hammered to death until then. One thing’s for certain, though, folks: It’s time to be united, not divided. Otherwise, we’re screwed and we can throw this notion of democracy away.


    – Matt Wavrin is a media arts senior. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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