Friday, January 21, 2011

US Indebtness to China

Hal Pepinsky,,
January 21, 2011
The US government’s debt is over 90 percent of US gdp, to say nothing of additional US state and local government indebtedness. The Irish government announced elections today amidst national shame and suffering over total public debt in 2009 having nearly reached 65 percent of gdp, just two-thirds the US federal debt to gdp ratio.
Yesterday, I blogged criticism of self-destructiveness of US demands that China let its currency float higher against the US dollar. Today a Chinese friend responded, commenting that US treasury bonds are junk. It is astonishing that when Hu meets Obama, there is scarcely any mention of our own public banking crisis. The Chinese government keeps buying enough US treasury bonds to keep interest rates under control. A demand that China devalue the US dollar is a demand to devalue Chinese investment in maintaining US levels of personal consumption and expenditure. The US is the borrower and China is the lender of last resort.
This bubble of Chinese investment in US treasury bonds is as unsustainable as the Irish public debt. When the dollar collapses, so will the exploding Chinese consumer export market collapse. We are an accelerating global economic train wreck in the making. Contrary to invocations to spend more, personally, I think it is time to build up and save local reserves against the coming collapse of the US dollar, with attendant shrinkage of global commerce. It’s just a question of time. L&p hal

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Prevailing Chinese Attitudes

Hal Pepinsky,,
January 19, 2011
My interest in history was awakened when I majored in Chinese, and honed when specialized in Chinese international legal relations in law school. Today, all Chinese I know acknowledge that they are citizens of single country with its political center in Beijing, and north capital, and economically in Shanghai, the coastal financial center downriver from Beijing.
Today Chinese president Hu Jintao is the guest of President Obama. Today in the US press, I hear historically blind US spin on US and China today. I invite any reader of this message to teach me and other readers what I’m unaware of, or blind to.
I learned that national identity was established by a northern Chinese ethnic group called the Han about the same time as the birth of Jesus. I continue to conclude that Chinese nationalism has never been expansionist like US nationalism. Once the empire was consolidated in Beijing, the only remaining issue was foreign invasion, which happened in the mid-19th century when Chinese warriors lost to British soldiers who won an “extraterritorial” import exemption for opium. As they overthrew a dynasty and drove their nationalist heirs to occupy Taiwan, Chinese have continued among themselves to debate over whether and how to respond to Western invasion.
History tells me that from dynastic times, Chinese political leaders have not shifted historical focus on national security away from keeping foreign “owners” from exploiting Chinese for international corporate gain, while cementing international relations through economic interdependence. For instance, the Chinese central bank has massively invested its financial “reserves” in buying treasury stock guaranteeing the US national debt. If the Chinese should happen to devalue the dollar in relations to the renminbi, the US consumer price index will rise in order to make goods made with US labor to become cheaper in China. When we hear talk about Greece, Ireland and so forth, I find it an awesome testament to Chinese interdependence that they are the major investor in a US national debt (aka US treasury bonds) that approximately equals the US gdp per year. What makes US so special? On historical and economic reflection, I appreciate the restraining influence of a Chinese nation, that has existed for millennia, in the face of US-centered, shortsighted military/economic pressure and aggression. l&p hal

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

birthday thanks

Hal Pepinsky,,
January 18, 2011
I and Kevin Costner, ten years my junior, and the 38-year-old national president of the NAACP share birthdays. The Treaty of Paris was signed on our birthday in 1918, setting payment of war debts by Germans to their victors so exorbitant that a German public at the depth of thirties global meltdown voted to make Hitler their chancellor and gave him a whole slew of patriot acts. Such were results of attempts by winners of a war to dictate an end to all wars. This birthright humbles this old astrological goat’s aspirations to pacifying social relations, and leaves me enjoying memories of togetherness in my relations. Thanks for all the inspiration and life support that the sacred spirits of love and compassion have brought our ways. Happy birthday to US—l&p hal

Sunday, January 16, 2011

(Dis)robing: veils and the state

Hal Pepinsky,,
January 16, 2011
Rick Steves’ weekend travel hour has just aired on a local npr station, with an apparently married, apparently Muslim, couple of travel guides in Istanbul. Rick got them to talking about silk shops. The woman guide pointed out that the rate of religious observance (as in prayer) in Turkey far exceeds observance in Iran, a theocracy. She talked to how youth are more flamboyant, less protective than their parents so that in a single shop, observant women are either traditional or into more color and less cover, in a scarf that can be pinned in an instant to publicly conservative cover. And I thought to myself: How religiously liberated urban Turks are.
My first chair at Indiana U pointed out that I had never (except in cap and gown, at my 1st advisee’s graduation) dressed for professional appearances in anything but jeans (which I do try to keep clean). This remains my uniform to this day both privately and publicly unless I appear in court or am persuaded that failure of a coat and tie would be disrespectful. My freedom of dress is important to me. Now that I’m on pension and off the payroll, no one is going to change my dress code. Luckily, I was tenured and fully promoted a quarter century earlier without ever have being instructed to change my pants in class. Throughout my teaching career, my wearing the same uniform became a badge of my commitment to giving away my professorial power. I continue to wear jeans. With time jeans have become a virtually sacred part of my public identity.
When Rick Steves started asking the guides about Islam and its effect on state policy, I thought of France. If I might have considered quitting had a court dared tell me to wear a coat and tie at work, suppose Indiana U, on a campus of some 37,000, had ever decided to tell women whose equivalent of a yarmulke is to cover whatever privacy she wants when appearing in public, to take it off? Is a woman whose face is covered on her driver’s license not verifiable in 21st-century technology? There’s no security justification for having one’s face bared. Many are those who do not want their pictures taken for personal reasons having nothing to do with offending anyone.
I feel more honest and comfortable in public when I wear jeans. Wearing jeans has become my form of public worship of powersharing. I figure the same sense of sacred presentation of oneself in public can go for what women wear in or on their heads. Regulation of how we dress in public is as intimate and totalitarian as social control can become. Enforcement of dress codes/uniforms amounts to social assault on the power of individual expression of personal identity and compassion anywhere, anytime. In the case of how women are undressed by law, orders to disrobe amount to sexual assault, and in effect force women in some case to submit to private violence to avoid public assault and degradation. I am continually fascinated and appalled by how seriously we dictate to one another how to robe and disrobe. Love and peace--hal

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Jails and Jailing in Monroe County, Indiana

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Friday, January 7, 2011


Hal Pepinsky,,
January 7, 2011
Tonight national public radio has a segment on how women sports reporters are disrespected, and by extension, so are women’s sports. Here’s a case where pro and con, left and right, are beside any political point to me. I can’t understand how so many people can make so many buck and command standard news media time just winning and paying attention to sports, period. Okay, you want to listen to the weather report and gamble on what you clothing you will wear when you go off to work, I can grasp that investment in gambling. I tried playing my granddaughter’s Christmas hi-ho cherrios present with her, and it was fun as long as she paid attention. A friend asked me yesterday how I felt about my daughter’s alma mater, Auburn, playing for the national football championship. (My only rear window sticker in my 1999 car is “Auburn Dad.”) I don’t care, and wonderful as Katy’s Auburn memories are, the sport doesn’t matter to her any more than it does to me. And why should it?
I think it is sick that any sports figure gets paid more than the average stay-at-home parent. I admit to a personal problem: When I managed to letter as a high school wrestler, I lost nearly every match (while winning an occasional wrestle-off to get to the match) imagining that if I beat my opponent, especially a champion, he might carry a grudge enough to meet me in an alley one night and seek revenge. No kidding, that’s how I really thought. I specialized in not getting pinned; I was in great shape; I didn’t want to disgrace my team.
It is said that Roman citizens invested themselves in who would win in wrestling competitions between Christians and lions. It’s okay by me that weather and sports give US something safe to talk about in daily life. It just seems sick to me that people invest themselves further in whether a home team wins or loses. So what? Why isn’t it as simple a game as whether I give my granddaughter revenge in a game of hi-ho cherrios? Aren’t we amazing, incredible creatures? Love and peace--hal