We are descended from
monkeys. There is no other explanation.
by Fred Reed
Information Clearing House (January 13 2010)
Pondering Whither America, I reflected on a story, probably apocryphal but
which I am going to believe because I like it, about catching monkeys.
Tribesmen somewhere craft a heavy pot with a hole in it large enough that
a monkey could insert an open hand, but not withdraw a closed fist. They
then put monkey food in the pot. The monkey reaches in, grabs the food
and, refusing to let go when the hunters approach, is caught and eaten.
Here we have our politics in a paragraph. The American national monkey
can’t let go. The party is over, boys and girls, but we aren’t going to
For example: When people recently found that they could no longer afford
the SUVs, the McMansions, the buying of absurdities in a frenzy of
competitive consumerism, they just put it on the credit card. The monkey
can’t let go. And now they are screwed.
Same-same domestic policy. The US has played War-on-Drugs for half a
century, with no results but to make drugs an integral part of the
economy. The evils engendered are great. Yet the monkey can’t let go.
It is [known] internationally that the monkey principle really bites. The
country is well on its way to being a merely regional power militarily,
economically, and diplomatically. Short of a miracle, short of a
conceivable but unlikely catastrophe in China, Americans will soon be
medium potatoes. There is nothing we can do about it, but we will bankrupt
ourselves trying. We can’t let go.
If you look beyond the Reader’s Digest patriotism of Fox News, and the
high-school cheerleading of little Sarah Palin, if you look beyond the
national borders, all of this is obvious.
By Chinese standards, America is a small country, having a quarter of its
population. Their economy grows at close to double digits. Yes, it may
slow down, or it may not. Short of unforeseen disaster, the question is
not whether but when the Chinese economy will dwarf the American economy.
Tell me why this is not true.
All power springs from economic power. While America decays, plays, and
sucks its thumb, China invests. Everywhere. There is nothing unprincipled
in this. It is just intelligent commerce.
Do not underestimate these people of the epicanthic fold. I have lived
among the Chinese, in Taiwan years ago. I liked them, and still do. I know
them to be smart, disciplined, studious, practical – as well as
nationalistic and very racially conscious. No, we do not think these
attitudes proper. It doesn’t matter what we think.
Note that China has that perfect government, an intelligent dictatorship
concerned with advancing the country. The American government consists of
self-interested lobbies and Wall Street looters. China is run by
engineers, America by lawyers. Watch.
The US is midway through an inexorable suicide. If a country does not
manufacture things, it does not have an economy, and manufacturing has
fled American shores. Ship-building, steel, consumer electronics,
railroads: gone. You may think your laptop is an American product, but
in all likelihood every component was made overseas and it was assembled
The country as a whole, as always, looks inwards and doesn’t understand,
doesn’t know what stirs without. Communism no longer protects America from
America is the world’s greatest debtor nation, China the greatest
creditor. We cannot possibly repay what we owe, so we must either default
or inflate. If another choice exists, I am unaware of it. And yet the
government spends, spends, spends, and borrows, borrows, borrows. No one
is in charge. No one cares. All line their own pockets. Wait.
Rationally, this would seem a good time to let go of unaffordable
luxuries. But no. The US continues to buy things it can’t pay for, to play
roles it can no longer maintain, because it pains the national vanity no
longer to be the biggest kid on the block. The monkey can’t let go.
The millstone around the American neck is the Pentagon. The direct cost
alone of feeding the military contractors is almost mortal to a sinking
economy: $720 billion this year, plus another $120 billion requested for
the unending wars, plus huge black programs, the Veterans Administration,
and so on. A trillion wilting green ones, call it. The more perceptive
note the opportunity cost of wasting so much engineering talent, so much
money for research and development, on martial zoom-wowees.
China, Russia, the Moslem world, Latin America and all the rest who detest
the US must be enjoying the spectacle. Spend on, spend on, oh round-eyed
Vanity. We do not garrison South Korea because Pyong Yang may send its
troops across our common border into Arkansas. We do it because we think
it our birthright to rule the world. The monkey cannot let go.
Our practical choice is between retracting the military or going down
hard. But we cannot retract. Once you have made your economy dependent on
huge unproductive expendititures, there is no quitting. It might seem wise
for example to reduce the military rolls by the 30,000 troops in South
Korea. But they would simply increase the rate of unemployment, already
dangeorusly high. Since most of the military contributes nothing to the
defense of the United States, releasing all unneeded soldiers into
joblessness would probably precipitate an armed rebellion.
There is worse. Towns spring up around large bases to supply the troops
and their families. Close the bases, and the towns die. Closing Camp
Lejeune would kill Jacksonville; Fort Bragg, Fayetteville; Fort Hood,
Killeen. Further, huge companies – Lockheed-Martin, much of Boeing, and
dozens of others – being unable to compete in the civilian economy, have
become obligate military suppliers. Cut their big programs and you
unemploy tens of thousands for whom there are no civilian jobs.
The federal bureaucracy is much the same, employing vast numbers yet
producing nothing. Politicians drone about wanting “smaller
How? Eliminate the Departments of Education, or Housing and Urban
Development, or Commerce – and where do the people go?
We can pretend that the current recession is temporary, and not a
manifestation of dying opulence, just as a fading beauty can pile on the
make-up and hope that men don’t notice. We can spend while others grow,
buy their goods on credit – for a little while longer. The monkey
can’t let go.
And any who say that we ought to put our house in order and come to terms
with reality? They will be said to Hate America. Well and good, until the
bill comes due.
Visit Fred’s blog at http://www.fredoneverything.net/