. . . and the Mouse’s Necessary Pre-Emptive Response

Pride goes before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.

– Proverbs 16:18

It is not only impending social and civic tumult which threatens to undermine and diminish the United States. In Existentialist and Exceptionalist arrogance, that nation has long sought to defy natural economic law with impunity, having taken comfort and advantage of its (fleeting) reserve currency status. In one of the rare truthful statements that President Trump has ever uttered or typed, theirs (and perhaps all those who, in varying degrees, are likewise connected to them) is a “false economy” with an “artificial stock market.” It has long been bolstered and held together by the duct tape of indebtedness since about the time that Federal Reserve Chairman Greenspan coined the phrase “irrational exuberance.”

In both fiscal and monetary policy, its leaders are the epitome of irresponsibility and folly, either having directly accrued public indebtedness (or transferring it from the private to the public); or worse, induced private indebtedness by Fed actions deliberately intended to do that very thing through absurd monetarist instruments, even to the point of negative real interest rates. It may be reasonably argued that a large part of economic growth in the last 20 years is directly and indirectly due to that indebtedness.

However, indebtedness has its tipping point, a level of precariousness that makes its beholder vulnerable to every breeze of exogenous shock. And if recent economic growth has been largely the consequence of leveraging, then the de-leveraging, as classically described by Irving Fisher in “The Debt-Deflation Theory of Great Depressions” (1933) can, at best, result in a long Japanese-style eon of economic sclerosis. But with ‘the mother of all asset booms’ (“we have a bubble in everything”), and few remaining economic panaceas, not already used, to cushion the blow, a worse thing is likely to happen to them (and to all those who, in varying degrees, are connected to them).

Typical of nations whose arrogance of preceding success leads to the overextension of empire, (even if America’s empire has been more of an Athenian kind), there is currently underway a rationalized retraction of that empire, with adversaries everywhere moving into the resulting void, paralleling the dynamics of the Late Roman Empire and the British empire from the late 19th century. If American foreign policy has turned “selfish, isolated, brutish, domineering, and driven by immediate appetites rather than ideals or even longer-term interests,” this was likewise notable when the costs of overextended European empires resulted in duplicitous, self-serving, and myopic foreign policy which stripped the veneer from “White Man’s burden” and facilitated the rise of American global power and influence.

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Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly or even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is affected by every twitch and grunt.[1]

If America experiences a social, economic, and/or civic earthquake, Canada, being in such close vicinity and having chosen to moor its tugboat a little too closely to that harbour (re: Continentalism), will inevitably encounter the full force of the ensuing tsunami. While our politicos and talking heads are just waking up to the tumult, which has been ongoing there, albeit often subterraneously, since the 1960s; and having but a superficial understanding of the deep and intractable causes and the great consequences; a disaster avoidance and recovery plan has become immediately necessary.

Certainly, a figurative wall has become necessary, not merely to regulate an influx of alien immigrants promised to flow from the American border because of current policy threats from the present administration; (and this not because of an antagonism to immigration but to forestall any anti-immigrant counterreaction because of illegals, as has happened elsewhere and is natural human response). No. If there is, by chance, a social/civic tumult in America, there will inevitably be an influx of American political partisans who will seek refugee status. This poses several perils to the peace and stability of our nation. Like the Iranians in 1978, the winning political faction may demand the heads of those refugees who reside here. Furthermore, will it be wise to allow in those whose factionalist rancour and hostilities may poison our own body politic. This nation prides itself on its moderateness and civility. But, we too are of the human species, and not Exceptionalistically immune to that which occurs in others of our species.

Roughly seventy-five percent of our exports go to the United States, constituting almost thirty percent of our economy. If there be economic disruption, whether because of social/civic or economic causes, those exports, just like happened in the aftermath of the 2008/9 Great Recession (re: a 25% decline), will be inordinately affected. Should not the diversification of our trade become first and overriding priority, especially with an American administration devoted to a Realpolitik bullying of other nations into a regime of permanent economic advantage for the United States? (Even apart from the present politicos, the existential economic sclerosis in the United States will incline them to increasing self-serving and myopic trade policy).

Pipelines, both east and west, must be approved; not because there are not environmental dangers and detriments to carbon-based energy; but because the welfare of the nation is dependent upon more than just one aspect of life. Oil and natural gas should be used as a trade lever (through long-term guaranteed supply) to open up foreign markets which are effectively closed through tariff and non-tariff barriers. An activist inculcation of extensive balanced trade deals with other nations of similar economic status should be pursued.

The goal should be the reduction of our exports to the United States to considerably less than 50% of total exports, not only for economic reasons of safety, but to reduce any threat to political autonomy by a more bullying American foreign and trade posture. There will be disruption. There will likely be economic loss, at least in the interim. However, such is the need for inoculation to make us less vulnerable to the most likely outbreak of American disease.

While we are thinking of the unthinkable; because America is showing itself to be a less reliable defense partner, and because conflict in the United States may induce military incursions into our country, we may need to acquire our own weapons of mass deterrence.

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Is this alarmist conspiracy theory? Such askance looks and ridicule have I encountered in the last several decades when I posited the thesis of an inevitable civil war in America.

[1] Pierre Trudeau, Washington Press Club Speech, Washington, March 25, 1969, http://www.cbc.ca/player/play/1797537698.