Author Topic: How much do geopolitical issues matter?  (Read 4796 times)

jpdx

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How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« on: July 19, 2018, 03:19:24 PM »
There's a lot in the news lately about how America is ceding it's role as a global leader, weakening it's relationship with Western democracies, and taking actions that play into the hands of China and Russia.

How much should we be concerned about these geopolitical issues? Specifically, how do these issues effect regular people's everyday lives?
« Last Edit: July 19, 2018, 08:35:11 PM by jpdx »

jpdx

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2018, 08:38:21 PM »
I'll start it off with this from today's episode of Marketplace:

https://www.marketplace.org/2018/07/19/world/how-american-brand-faring-global-stage

America's "brand" is faltering abroad, which is having a negative effect on the tourism industry and foreign students attending college in the US.

SwordGuy

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #2 on: July 19, 2018, 09:02:13 PM »
There is an economic penalty that will come into play in a variety of industries.

But the real penalty will come when we have to expend copious amounts of blood and treasure to clean up the poo that happens when we do the wrong things for too long.

Syonyk

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #3 on: July 19, 2018, 10:08:35 PM »
How much should we be concerned about these geopolitical issues? Specifically, how do these issues effect regular people's everyday lives?

Short to mid term?  Probably not much at all.

Long term? We're a dying empire.  Lots.

pecunia

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #4 on: July 19, 2018, 10:13:49 PM »
Syonyk:
Quote
Long term? We're a dying empire.  Lots.

Maybe, it would be better not to be an empire.

calimom

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #5 on: July 19, 2018, 10:17:33 PM »
Syonyk:
Quote
Long term? We're a dying empire.  Lots.

Maybe, it would be better not to be an empire.

Yeah, I'd settle for being a pleasant, interesting country that welcomes diversity and visitors from around the globe.

sanderh

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #6 on: July 19, 2018, 10:21:29 PM »
Short to mid term?  Probably not much at all.

Long term? We're a dying empire.  Lots.
I wouldn't quite put it so dramatically as a dying empire, but basic idea is sound. A slow movement toward a large change (e.g. climate change) is unnoticeable at first, but in the long term very significant. Loss of influence would not change ordinary lives in 10 years, say, but in a 100, very much. Compare the British Empire in 1900 vs UK in 2000.

Raymond Reddington

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #7 on: July 19, 2018, 10:29:30 PM »
I tend to side with MMM's take on the "Low Information Diet"

There's not much that can be done to tackle these issues, and if I want to tackle these issues, the worst thing I can do is waste time arguing about them now and catching feelings about them when I need to be working to build myself a future where I may have some level of real influence in the larger world someday, instead of just my local spheres of influence.

There are too many people who make everything about politics, and you can tell, because they're miserable. They can't even sit down and enjoy a sporting event, a movie, or a TV show now because everything is always a "liberal conspiracy" or a "conservative ploy to manipulate such and such." That's just not really any damn fun.

Do geopolitical events matter? Of course. But nothing I do is going to stop whatever terrible thing might happen, at least in my current state of general irrelevance. I understand and embrace that. So why not try to better myself as a person, grow my income, spend more time with friends and loved ones doing meaningful and fun things, instead of overly informing myself of issues I cannot change only so that they can make me miserable? Plus, sometimes, humanity has a way of stepping up at the 11th hour and avoiding disaster by kicking it down the road a little bit. The most productive thing most people who immerse themselves in political news can do, is write to their leaders, file complaints about issues that affect them online to the people tasked with fixing them. Complaining on Twitter, arguing in the comments section of Yahoo news, and suffering through hours of TV news does nothing to improve the world.

In the end, we're all doomed anyway. Not one of the lot of us will make it out of here alive, and sooner or later the Sun will die and swallow this planet whole. Even if we figure out how to do space travel and make our great escape, we've still got the whole logistical issues of sustaining humanity through a multi-year journey through space to find a habitable planet or build a habitable ecosystem that isn't subject to capital projects failure on an otherwise uninhabitable planet, which alone would be a multi-generational effort without any communications infrastructure between there and earth, and any reasonable idea how to even begin. In fact, I'm so sold on this, I'm convinced that's why guys like Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Richard Branson are so interested in space travel. But wasting the pittance of time each of us gets to try and live the best life we can on a bunch of petty human political and religious squabbles just seems, when you think cosmically, like, well, a cosmic waste of the little time we have.
« Last Edit: July 19, 2018, 10:33:11 PM by Raymond Reddington »

alsoknownasDean

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #8 on: July 20, 2018, 01:36:03 AM »
Well the lurch towards protectionism might end up having an impact (both positively and negatively) on each country involved. Our (read: the developed world in general) standard of living relies heavily on international trade.

As for the whole 'declining America' thing, even if US influence in the future is less than it has been in the past, there's still a few aces that the US has up it's sleeve to ensure that it remains relevant in this century. Where are Microsoft, Intel, Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook based (among many others), after all? Not to mention the strength of the US military. If the US continues to be a tech leader it'll continue to be relevant and influential.

Regardless of the impact of Trump on 'brand America', at the very most he'll be out of office in about six and a half years. We'll eventually be wondering what the impact of the next president is on 'brand America'.

Of course wars and economic calamities will impact people, as they have in the past. None of us know precisely when these will happen (and if you do, let me know and I'll invest accordingly).

Although, the most boring people are those who talk politics all the time :)

Don't forget to be optimistic :)

marty998

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #9 on: July 20, 2018, 01:47:16 AM »
Syonyk:
Quote
Long term? We're a dying empire.  Lots.

Maybe, it would be better not to be an empire.

Yeah, I'd settle for being a pleasant, interesting country that welcomes diversity and visitors from around the globe.

Too late. New Zealand has that covered.

BookLoverL

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #10 on: July 20, 2018, 02:02:57 AM »
If the geopolitical issue is in your own country or a neighbouring country, or your country is otherwise directly involved, I think it will affect your country more, so it's more important to be aware of it than something that your country isn't or is only tangentially involved in.

I like to have a general awareness of the vague geopolitical issues, but I don't think it's important to be aware of every tiny detail and check on it every day. If something big happens to change the status quo, it's likely that everyone and their mother will tell you about it anyway. It's like with Brexit at the moment: I only care when the news reports actual progress or changes in the likely deal that we will end up with. I don't care if it's reporting "this politician said a controversial comment about it!".

Bateaux

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #11 on: July 20, 2018, 02:08:12 AM »
If NATO were to disband then opportunity will.open up for Russia to expand again.   Not exactly the future I'd hope for.

pecunia

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #12 on: July 20, 2018, 08:15:31 AM »
Bateaux:
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If NATO were to disband then opportunity will.open up for Russia to expand again.

OK - They took over a section of the Ukraine.  Not good.  There were a lot of Russians living there.

What is the incentive to take over other countries?  The Baltic states sure would give them a hard time.  The Poles would give them a hard time.

They've got oil, timber, lots of land, various ores and an educated workforce.  Common sense tells you they would be better off trading for what they need rather than dumb brute force.  They no longer have this Marxist ideology.  It has been replaced with the more common bandito ideology.

History does teach me otherwise.  In the Czar times, Russia was grabbing for land.  However, they have a lot and it is not all developed.

This whole empire thing just strikes me as a waste of time and resources.   I'd fail as a neocon.

J Boogie

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #13 on: July 20, 2018, 08:17:07 AM »
For a contrarian take, listen to any of Peter Ziehan's talks. He believes the US would be totally fine without globalism and many other nations would suffer without our global security infrastructure in place.

He's long term bullish on the US (and the rest of North America) vs almost all other countries for various reasons.

I'll try to list a few:

1-Age demographics. Many other nations have too many boomers and too few millenials. As much as we wring our hands and doubt the solvency of our own social security, many other nations simply won't have the numbers (of tax paying, working adults) to support the elderly and young.  Immigration policies can be adjusted accordingly, though Japan seems to prefer robots to foreigners :)

2-The Mississippi river network and fertile farmlands- Allows efficient, inexpensive distribution of produce and raw materials - apparently this is very advantageous and very rare. We have diverse enough land that we don't really need trade. Our needs are covered quite easily with our own resources, even fuel. We are a net exporter of fuel.

3-Our borders make us nearly impossible to successfully attack. Tons of lakes and hills between US and Canada, hilly desert terrain between US and Mexico. Oceans on either side.


Worth a listen.

Syonyk

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #14 on: July 20, 2018, 09:23:52 AM »
Syonyk:
Quote
Long term? We're a dying empire.  Lots.

Maybe, it would be better not to be an empire.

The problem is that empires rarely unwind smoothly. The UK did, but that's a rarity throughout history.

As noted, the US has a ton of resources we can use locally. But I'd expect more of regional nation states as the long term outcome.

I definitely agree that spending one's time being Outraged! over everything minor is a bad way to spend a life.

FrugalSaver

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #15 on: July 20, 2018, 09:30:15 AM »
There's a lot in the news lately about how America is ceding it's role as a global leader, weakening it's relationship with Western democracies, and taking actions that play into the hands of China and Russia.

How much should we be concerned about these geopolitical issues? Specifically, how do these issues effect regular people's everyday lives?

Iíd also say be careful where you get your news. You can find what you want by easily looking, but is it the truth?  Thatís the challenge

fattest_foot

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #16 on: July 20, 2018, 10:03:15 AM »
For a contrarian take, listen to any of Peter Ziehan's talks. He believes the US would be totally fine without globalism and many other nations would suffer without our global security infrastructure in place.

He's long term bullish on the US (and the rest of North America) vs almost all other countries for various reasons.

I'll try to list a few:

1-Age demographics. Many other nations have too many boomers and too few millenials. As much as we wring our hands and doubt the solvency of our own social security, many other nations simply won't have the numbers (of tax paying, working adults) to support the elderly and young.  Immigration policies can be adjusted accordingly, though Japan seems to prefer robots to foreigners :)

2-The Mississippi river network and fertile farmlands- Allows efficient, inexpensive distribution of produce and raw materials - apparently this is very advantageous and very rare. We have diverse enough land that we don't really need trade. Our needs are covered quite easily with our own resources, even fuel. We are a net exporter of fuel.

3-Our borders make us nearly impossible to successfully attack. Tons of lakes and hills between US and Canada, hilly desert terrain between US and Mexico. Oceans on either side.


Worth a listen.

Came to post this. If you've got an hour free, I highly recommend watching it. No other country in the world is positioned to become a superpower this century, mostly due to demographics, geography, and inability to project power. Even if the US completely withdraws from the world stage, no one is really there to fill the gap.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=feU7HT0x_qU

jpdx

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #17 on: July 21, 2018, 12:17:22 PM »
Say the US changes from being the world's dominant superpower, to some lesser position, what are some specific ways this change would effect your life?

pecunia

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #18 on: July 21, 2018, 12:40:23 PM »
Quote
Say the US changes from being the world's dominant superpower, to some lesser position, what are some specific ways this change would effect your life?

It may actually be an improvement.  Have you noticed a kind of "sitting on your laurels" attitiude?

In the early 1960s, there was fear about the Soviet Union becoming pre-eminent in Space.  This led to the Space Race.  There was a generation of improvements in aeronautics, electronics, etc.  Science was stressed in the elementary schools.  A feeling of excitement and achievement was in the air.  They talked about America being a great pioneer nation.

At the end of World War 2, there was a race to invent better weaponry.  This led to the Manhattan Project.  This led to atomic bombs and nuclear energy.

Today's society is led by bean-counters who work for the 1 percent.  Innovation has slowed.  There seems to be less opportunity for hard working people with new ideas to gain the pre eminence they once had. 

Yes -Necessity is the mother of invention. 

In the past there were two great car rental companies, Hertz and Avis.

http://www.slate.com/articles/business/rivalries/2013/08/hertz_vs_avis_advertising_wars_how_an_ad_firm_made_a_virtue_out_of_second.html

Becoming number two would spur Americans from their lethargy.  A sleeping giant will have awaken.  Opportunities would abound for those who sought them and money could be made.  Much of the BS which paralyzes us today would be swept aside.

Of course - opinions may differ.

GuitarStv

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #19 on: July 21, 2018, 05:07:28 PM »
Syonyk:
Quote
Long term? We're a dying empire.  Lots.

Maybe, it would be better not to be an empire.

Yeah, I'd settle for being a pleasant, interesting country that welcomes diversity and visitors from around the globe.

Too late. New Zealand has that covered.

I suspect that the world has room for a second New Zealand.

koshtra

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #20 on: July 21, 2018, 06:04:57 PM »
Well, the biggest effects of the waning imperium won't be felt here. They'll likely be felt in places that the old order kept safe from nearby powers -- South Korea, Taiwan, the Baltic States; possibly Finland and Japan. These are happy prosperous states that our decline may put at risk. Depends upon how it plays out, of course. But I worry about them more than I worry about us. (On the other hand, Latin America will probably be somewhat better off if we stop messing with it so much.)

Living standards in the UK have mostly kept rising (despite their grumbling) since the decay of the British Empire. They're doing just fine. We'll probably do fine too.

I'm not at all sure the age of empire is over, or that we'll step out of it without a fight, though. Large shifts in power generally come with wars and unrest: states begin to behave erratically when they're losing power. And erratic behavior with nuclear capability is a scary thing.

pecunia

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #21 on: July 21, 2018, 09:21:42 PM »
Quote
And erratic behavior with nuclear capability is a scary thing.

Whew!  Good thing we have Donald J Trump as our president.

hypertrichosis

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #22 on: July 21, 2018, 10:06:43 PM »

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=feU7HT0x_qU

This is one of the best things I have watched in a really long time.

jpdx

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #23 on: July 22, 2018, 12:37:55 PM »
Thank you for sharing this video. It is very interesting. This guy is smart, but shouldn't we be skeptical of anyone who claims to know the future?

grantmeaname

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #24 on: July 23, 2018, 06:56:57 AM »
3-Our borders make us nearly impossible to successfully attack. Tons of lakes and hills between US and Canada, hilly desert terrain between US and Mexico. Oceans on either side.
I haven't listened to this video, and now I won't. You have to be a small child with an infantile view of power (hi, Mr. President) to think that an adversary that wanted to hurt US interests would do so by waging symmetric warfare in a land invasion of Arizona. The "borders" that matter today are our trade relationships, the nation's infrastructure and online systems, the country's reputation in the world, our electoral climate in which one or both sides are easy prey to manipulation, and the nation's stressed public health systems. Think for a second about the abductions of US travelers in North Korea and Iran, the amount of damage a chemical weapon or dirty bomb in lower Manhattan could do, or the amount of lost business if a cyber attack could brownout the electrical grid for half an hour. Any of those things costs mere hundreds of dollars.

"America's really safe because the south bit has a desert next to it." <- asinine.

Channel-Z

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #25 on: July 23, 2018, 07:06:23 AM »
The notion of a land-sea invasion is just a brief mention. The speaker in the video mostly discusses demographics, age distribution, and how the U.S. is better positioned in the coming decades to be self-sufficient. "Bretton Woods is gone."

grantmeaname

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #26 on: July 23, 2018, 07:18:17 AM »
I'm an American who lived in London from 2015 until earlier this year. Since my move back, I've noticed that politics has been affecting my happiness far more than it used to. I believed then, and still believed now, that any negative thing that doesn't fall within my circle of control deserves to be banished outside my circle of concern. A lot of objectively emotionally upsetting things happen in the world, and none of them really gets to me singly - but for some reason together they add up to this weight that I'm carrying around on my shoulders. Living in a blue city in a blue state, I'm sure the regard for the country's current management is no higher here than it was in London, but it's harder to see things with the same remove from the inside. I still try and be an outrageous optimist, but when there are literal Nazis in the street it feels increasingly fake to be an outrageous optimist, and increasingly sinister, almost collaborationist, to banish the Nazis from my thoughts because they don't directly affect white male gentiles like me.

I tend to side with MMM's take on the "Low Information Diet"
I think The low information diet is wise advice; I mostly follow it. I don't watch or read news, but I do listen to a few politics-adjacent podcasts. I like Left, Right, and Center, which I use to help myself understand the two parties' perspectives on issues, and spinoff All the President's Lawyers, which is a great legal education from the incomparable Ken White of first amendment blog Popehat. I also listen to the FiveThirtyEight Politics Podcast which raises interesting data science topics and asks how journalists know if they are fairly representing their subjects. To some extent, I'm getting something worthwhile from each of them, rather than just newsy facts with enough blood sold in to sell like the trash on TV. But I wonder if it's still a bad idea and I should set them aside and go fully head-in-sand.

GuitarStv

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #27 on: July 23, 2018, 07:27:34 AM »
I think that many undersell their circle of control.

If you are confronted with a big problem that is fundamentally wrong and is upsetting you, the best response is not to shrug your shoulders and decide that it's too big to worry about - ignoring upsetting news.  The best response is to become politically active and attempt to expand your circle of control to come together and fix the problem.  Every big problem that a democratic society has faced and overcome has needed people to do this to reach a solution.

J Boogie

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #28 on: July 23, 2018, 08:52:04 AM »
3-Our borders make us nearly impossible to successfully attack. Tons of lakes and hills between US and Canada, hilly desert terrain between US and Mexico. Oceans on either side.
I haven't listened to this video, and now I won't. You have to be a small child with an infantile view of power (hi, Mr. President) to think that an adversary that wanted to hurt US interests would do so by waging symmetric warfare in a land invasion of Arizona. The "borders" that matter today are our trade relationships, the nation's infrastructure and online systems, the country's reputation in the world, our electoral climate in which one or both sides are easy prey to manipulation, and the nation's stressed public health systems. Think for a second about the abductions of US travelers in North Korea and Iran, the amount of damage a chemical weapon or dirty bomb in lower Manhattan could do, or the amount of lost business if a cyber attack could brownout the electrical grid for half an hour. Any of those things costs mere hundreds of dollars.

"America's really safe because the south bit has a desert next to it." <- asinine.

That's not the argument being made here. I think I used the wrong word - I said we're hard to successfully attack and I should have said invade or overpower.

Nationless terrorists are a great example of those who might attack us successfully. But once they put down a flag like ISIS, they can be devastatingly bombed without us even risking our troops' lives.

On 9/11 we mourned the loss of lives, the loss of certain freedoms, the brief disruption in our economy, and largely moved on. It was a massive blow and and yet it hasn't diminished our power.

Nations who would try to weaken us with some of the various creative attacks like you listed would still most likely fail to bring us to our knees based on our economic and geographic advantages that he lists.

You might find many arguments are only asinine if you create straw men versions of them to pick apart.

Zeihan participated in an intelligence squared debate called "declinists be damned" that I'd recommend if you want to hear his views as well as his views being challenged.






talltexan

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #29 on: July 23, 2018, 08:56:30 AM »
Our position as the dominant economy in the world has led the US Dollar to be the world's reserve currency. All major international banks--unless sanctioned by US policy--owe debts in dollars. And hold dollars.

This unique position of the dollar means that we have an enhanced standard of living. It makes prices lower for us when we travel abroad, and when we buy things that are delivered to us from abroad. It allows our government to run deficits without sparking the kind of harsh inflation you see in other economies. It means that US corporations trade at higher P/E ratios than international ones.

A withdrawal from the world would endanger all of this: the UK went through it about fifty years ago, and standards of living decreased between 5% and 20%. Mustachians should come through such a social dislocation okay. But lots of other people who are on the edge will not be. Many of them will be neighbors, friends, or relatives.

pecunia

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #30 on: July 23, 2018, 09:35:36 AM »
talltexan:

Quote
Our position as the dominant economy in the world has led the US Dollar to be the world's reserve currency.

How long is that going to last?

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2078rank.html

Seems like - from the CIA chart there are a lot of countries that use the Euro.  If I was running the world and saw that the currency used was  from a country with a slowly waning economy in relation to the rest of the world, I'd probably swap over to the Euro which is used by multiple countries.

It also looks like the Chinese economy has overtaken the US.  It makes sense since it has been cheaper for for businessmen to make money having them make the products and there has been essentially no penalty for taking away US jobs.


letired

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #31 on: July 23, 2018, 10:40:28 AM »
I think that many undersell their circle of control.

If you are confronted with a big problem that is fundamentally wrong and is upsetting you, the best response is not to shrug your shoulders and decide that it's too big to worry about - ignoring upsetting news.  The best response is to become politically active and attempt to expand your circle of control to come together and fix the problem.  Every big problem that a democratic society has faced and overcome has needed people to do this to reach a solution.

I strongly agree. I might not be able to do much individually, but I can make my voice heard to my government representatives, which I think is absolutely the minimum required of me if I want to continue to live in a thriving democracy. Not to mention it's easier than ever. And I can go further and talk about the things that concern me with family and friends and encourage them to use their voice as well. It may not have an immediate visible effect, but all these actions are well within my "circle of control".

To paraphrase some rando on the internet: Your insurance company cares about politics. Your boss(es) care about politics. The owners of all the stores you shop at care about politics. The owners of all the stores you don't shop at care about politics. The oil and gas companies care about politics. The car manufactures care about politics. The big agriculture companies care about politics. Why don't you?

panda

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #32 on: July 23, 2018, 11:15:04 AM »
At the end of World War 2, there was a race to invent better weaponry.  This led to the Manhattan Project.  This led to atomic bombs and nuclear energy.
That actually happened during WWII, but was only lead by one nation. USSR got in on the game after the war due to espionage.

wageslave23

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #33 on: July 23, 2018, 11:32:21 AM »

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=feU7HT0x_qU

This is one of the best things I have watched in a really long time.

+1.  I went from pessimistic about US future to very optimistic.  In short, we never needed foreign trade it was only for the benefit of our allies so that they would be strong against the Soviets.  Now the cold war is over, so there is no reason for the US to maintain free trade as we used to.  Left to ourselves we have the natural resources and consumers and security that the rest of the world wants so it is up to them to offer us incentives to trade with and protect them.

J Boogie

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #34 on: July 23, 2018, 03:14:07 PM »
talltexan:

Quote
Our position as the dominant economy in the world has led the US Dollar to be the world's reserve currency.

How long is that going to last?

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2078rank.html

Seems like - from the CIA chart there are a lot of countries that use the Euro.  If I was running the world and saw that the currency used was  from a country with a slowly waning economy in relation to the rest of the world, I'd probably swap over to the Euro which is used by multiple countries.

It also looks like the Chinese economy has overtaken the US.  It makes sense since it has been cheaper for for businessmen to make money having them make the products and there has been essentially no penalty for taking away US jobs.

As of 2017 IMF estimates, China's GPD is 61.7% the size of US GDP.

So China's economy has not overtaken the US economy. But it projected to overtake the Euro zone this year, so I don't think I'd abandon the dollar for the Euro.

Perhaps there is another metric you're using besides GDP?


grandep

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #35 on: July 23, 2018, 03:53:47 PM »
In short, we never needed foreign trade it was only for the benefit of our allies so that they would be strong against the Soviets.  Now the cold war is over, so there is no reason for the US to maintain free trade as we used to.  Left to ourselves we have the natural resources and consumers and security that the rest of the world wants so it is up to them to offer us incentives to trade with and protect them.

International free trade is the reason that Facebook, Microsoft, Intel, Apple, and Google were all started in the US by people who could learn how to code instead of working in a shoe factory. To say nothing of the ways that trade positively affects diplomacy and discourages inter-state violence. So yes, there is absolutely reason to maintain free trade as we used to and, indeed, to further eliminate trade barriers around the world.

grantmeaname

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #36 on: July 23, 2018, 05:57:45 PM »
In short, we never needed foreign trade it was only for the benefit of our allies so that they would be strong against the Soviets.  Now the cold war is over, so there is no reason for the US to maintain free trade as we used to.  Left to ourselves we have the natural resources and consumers and security that the rest of the world wants so it is up to them to offer us incentives to trade with and protect them.
This idea is not only very wrong but also very dangerous. The prosperity, peace, and security that we all enjoy today is a direct result of international trade, and the stellar rise of the English language and our cultural hegemony have a lot to thank trade for as well. Not just the incredible prosperity at the beginning of the Cold War but our entire rise to superpower status were propelled most proximately by international trade with shattered European powers after each world war.

There is no magical force or liberal conspiracy propping up unfavorable trade deals. If we could make the same things we import in the US for cheaper than our trading partners can do it, we would be doing so. Nobody compels Apple and Boeing to import a single iota of their supply chain from abroad. Bringing our refrigerators and selfie sticks in from abroad frees up American capital and the American workforce to do other things in which we are more uniquely skilled, while providing us all a higher standard of living as our paychecks go further.

I don't understand how anyone can look at the world today and think that international trade is not a fundamental feature of the world order.

genesismachine

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #37 on: July 23, 2018, 06:11:10 PM »
I have a third way that hasn't been mentioned yet. I like the low information diet MMM talks about, as there is little that we can do anyways. However, I disagree about the passive attitude to just live as if the US will be fine no matter what.

If the US does well over your lifetime, have a plan for that. If the US does not do well over your lifetime, have a plan for that as well. We travel and have a couple locations abroad that we are familiar with and agreed we could move to if needed. Once we retire, our goal is to shift assets to either be nationless (stocks, etc...) and to have property like real estate in each country. Let's say 3 countries. And to travel often between those countries. That way, if one goes to poopoo, we just stop visiting, potentially lose the real estate there and stick with the other 2. Then, we pick a new country 3 and start again.

The truth is that 30+ years is an awfully long time and nobody can predict the future even a couple years out. The iPhone is only 10 years old. 70 years ago, people were still using donkeys to build. The national highway system was built only ~50 years ago. Germany had not one but two world wars in the span of 30 years.

The point is to be anti-fragile rather than psychic.

pecunia

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #38 on: July 23, 2018, 08:41:39 PM »
Boogie:
Quote
So China's economy has not overtaken the US economy. But it projected to overtake the Euro zone this year, so I don't think I'd abandon the dollar for the Euro.

I stand corrected.

Timodeus

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #39 on: July 24, 2018, 06:51:00 AM »
Syonyk:
Quote
Long term? We're a dying empire.  Lots.

Maybe, it would be better not to be an empire.

In the past I would have wholeheartedly agreed with that statement but the reality is dying empires create vacuums. What replaces us will probably be a nation or group of nations that won't allow us to live in peace and quiet. We tend to forget many of these small pleasant little countries that don't bother anyone live under our security blanket. For them whether they acknowledge it or not they are in the Pax Americana and I don't think they would have the same quality of life, economic status, or lifestyle without the benefits the US and its allies have provided since the end of World War II.

pecunia

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #40 on: July 24, 2018, 07:15:00 AM »
Timodeus:

Quote
What replaces us will probably be a nation or group of nations that won't allow us to live in peace and quiet. We tend to forget many of these small pleasant little countries that don't bother anyone live under our security blanket.

I think it will happen.  I think America has retrenched and is living on the actions of the past.  I think it was John Glenn who said, "We are living on our seed corn."

History is full of surprises.  The population of the South American countries is rising.  They have an entire continent of resources.  Other than their own history, they seem not to have influenced the rest of the world as much as other countries.  Other than revolutions and governing troubles, they don't seem to be in the news.  Maybe, it will soon be their turn to start calling some of the shots.

J Boogie

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #41 on: July 24, 2018, 08:42:00 AM »
The prosperity, peace, and security that we all enjoy today is a direct result of international trade, and the stellar rise of the English language and our cultural hegemony have a lot to thank trade for as well.

There is no magical force or liberal conspiracy propping up unfavorable trade deals. If we could make the same things we import in the US for cheaper than our trading partners can do it, we would be doing so. Nobody compels Apple and Boeing to import a single iota of their supply chain from abroad.

I don't understand how anyone can look at the world today and think that international trade is not a fundamental feature of the world order.

Can you respond to the argument of the US economy still being fundamentally strong and powerful without international trade?

I get that US companies benefit from geoarbitrage. The argument is that trade is a nice-to-have, not a must have. Granted, an abrupt transition from trading to no trading would be a massive shock, but I see no reason why winding down trade and building up domestic capabilities in to fill in the gaps would leave the US significantly weakened.

I'm not against trade. I am against, as many here no doubt are, spending .7 trillion on our military. We don't need to maintain 800 military bases across the globe. We're overextending ourselves to maintain an order that we don't actually need that much. The juice is no longer worth the squeeze.

If you want to make a moral argument that we have a duty to maintain this order, that's another thing. I think you can make a decent argument there. The counterargument would be whether or not it is moral to ask the taxpayers for a trillion to maintain overseas bases when their healthcare situation is dismal and their veterans are frequently homeless and/or mentally ill (and have their own crappy healthcare situation).





mathlete

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #42 on: July 24, 2018, 08:50:22 AM »
There are lots of reasons to care.

-If you live in the United States, a good chunk of your ability to FIRE is tied up in the fact that the US Dollar is the dominant reserve currency
-If you like to travel and would like a frictionless experience moving through Europe, Brexit and general EU instability should concern you
-Trade wars are having/will have a domestic impact on the jobs and the price of goods
-General American hostility costs many lives

Just to name a few off the top of my head.

Checking Twitter every hour to see how the world is melting down certainly isn't good. But I think people should be reasonably well informed. Especially powerful people in positions of privilege.

pecunia

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #43 on: July 24, 2018, 09:48:18 AM »
Quote
-If you live in the United States, a good chunk of your ability to FIRE is tied up in the fact that the US Dollar is the dominant reserve currency

Seems to me if you have your money tied up in Index funds, it shouldn't matter.  The corporations are spread across the globe.  If US index funds tend to drop, shift to international index funds.

Quote
-If you like to travel and would like a frictionless experience moving through Europe, Brexit and general EU instability should concern you

Isn't the long term trend that Europe is getting more united?  The European Union was only founded in 1999.  It seems like the entire continent has been quite stable over that time.  There have been problems because it has been too prosperous.  People want to emigrate there from poorer nations.  So,....Britain voted it out.  One country that is still very integrated with the rest of Europe.  Perhaps they can be considered a pseudo member.  If I travel through there, they will take my money with a smile.  I'm not worried.

Quote
-Trade wars are having/will have a domestic impact on the jobs and the price of goods

I'm really not so sure about this one.  Classical economics teaches us that trade benefits all the countries that trade.  Each gets to do what it does best.  People in suits trot out facts and figures showing how trade has been to our benefit.

Yet, I remember when we made stuff here.  There were good jobs and people had futures.  There was a lot more equity in the American economy among the various Social classes.  We made stuff here, sold it here and used it here.  The money stayed here.  The US is a big country.  It is a big enough market on its own.  I can see keeping some form of NAFTA going, but we can eliminate clothng and trinkets that wash on to our shores from foreign lands.

Prices of goods may go up.  I'm not sure that I would mind that because I think the pay would return to the American worker.  We would be a stronger nation and be better off.  There is a reason they call it protectionism.

Quote
-General American hostility costs many lives

I agree with that one.  I don't see war as an investment in America or it's people.  I think the military industrial complex that President Eisenhower so wisely warned us against so many years ago has become a reality.  All of these wars are supposed to be for "American Interests."  It's time the American people became the American interest.




mathlete

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #44 on: July 24, 2018, 10:11:52 AM »
Seems to me if you have your money tied up in Index funds, it shouldn't matter.  The corporations are spread across the globe.  If US index funds tend to drop, shift to international index funds.

Yeah. Part of what I love about American index funds is how much revenue comes from overseas. Built in diversification. But open up any global company's 10K and under the heading "Risk Factors", they'll cite currency fluctuation. Your suggestion of shifting to international funds is a point in favor of geopolitics mattering IMO. You can't know if and when to make the shift if you're not paying attention.

Isn't the long term trend that Europe is getting more united?  The European Union was only founded in 1999.  It seems like the entire continent has been quite stable over that time.  There have been problems because it has been too prosperous.  People want to emigrate there from poorer nations.  So,....Britain voted it out.  One country that is still very integrated with the rest of Europe.  Perhaps they can be considered a pseudo member.  If I travel through there, they will take my money with a smile.  I'm not worried.

The EU did get a popularity pop post-Brexit vote, but I think that's reflective of how significant a potential withdraw would be. Since Brexit, populism has been on the ballot in a number of Eurozone elections. Worth paying attention to IMO.

I'm really not so sure about this one.  Classical economics teaches us that trade benefits all the countries that trade.  Each gets to do what it does best.  People in suits trot out facts and figures showing how trade has been to our benefit.

Yet, I remember when we made stuff here.  There were good jobs and people had futures.  There was a lot more equity in the American economy among the various Social classes.  We made stuff here, sold it here and used it here.  The money stayed here.  The US is a big country.  It is a big enough market on its own.  I can see keeping some form of NAFTA going, but we can eliminate clothng and trinkets that wash on to our shores from foreign lands.

Prices of goods may go up.  I'm not sure that I would mind that because I think the pay would return to the American worker.  We would be a stronger nation and be better off.  There is a reason they call it protectionism.


Setting aside whether protectionism will herald a new golden age for the American worker, this is still cause for concern. Especially for nerds who have spreadsheets that tell them when to retire (hopefully) based on some proxy for the cost of goods, such as the CPI. I think laborers should make more money too, but I still have personal reasons to be concerned re: the cost of goods. So I think that this geopolitical issue very much matters.

mathlete

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #45 on: July 24, 2018, 10:32:54 AM »
Specifically, how do these issues effect regular people's everyday lives?

Getting more to the heart of this question, it depends upon how you define "regular people". I think post people think they're regular people.

I'm a rich white guy living in a first world country. If I define myself as "regular", then almost no issues, geopolitical or domestic, "matter". I can respect that some lifestyle gurus like Tim Ferris or MMM can preach the helpfulness of a "low information diet", but I don't seek to emulate these people. Every step I take towards becoming more of a self-interested person is a step I take away from being able to relate to more people. To me, that would be just as unhealthy as checking Twitter all the time to see which world leader said what abominable thing.

Everything in moderation I guess.

koshtra

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #46 on: July 24, 2018, 11:32:55 AM »
In the good ol' days our economic rivals had done us the inestimable service of totally trashing their industrial and commercial infrastructure with war: immediately post WW II, US GDP was a staggering 40 percent of the world's. Of course we were riding high.

wageslave23

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #47 on: July 24, 2018, 12:08:30 PM »
In short, we never needed foreign trade it was only for the benefit of our allies so that they would be strong against the Soviets.  Now the cold war is over, so there is no reason for the US to maintain free trade as we used to.  Left to ourselves we have the natural resources and consumers and security that the rest of the world wants so it is up to them to offer us incentives to trade with and protect them.
This idea is not only very wrong but also very dangerous. The prosperity, peace, and security that we all enjoy today is a direct result of international trade, and the stellar rise of the English language and our cultural hegemony have a lot to thank trade for as well. Not just the incredible prosperity at the beginning of the Cold War but our entire rise to superpower status were propelled most proximately by international trade with shattered European powers after each world war.

There is no magical force or liberal conspiracy propping up unfavorable trade deals. If we could make the same things we import in the US for cheaper than our trading partners can do it, we would be doing so. Nobody compels Apple and Boeing to import a single iota of their supply chain from abroad. Bringing our refrigerators and selfie sticks in from abroad frees up American capital and the American workforce to do other things in which we are more uniquely skilled, while providing us all a higher standard of living as our paychecks go further.

I don't understand how anyone can look at the world today and think that international trade is not a fundamental feature of the world order.

I was just summing up the youtube lecture that was linked.  So you would need to watch the video to see his rationale.  But a trade deficit by definition means that more money is leaving the system than is coming in and is not sustainable long term.  It only has been because the US is so bountiful that it could afford to give away business in order to keep the peace.  Also the lecturer addresses that this is not a liberal or conservative issue.  The US was heading this direction whether Clinton or Trump was elected.  Trump just sped up the timeline more than Clinton would have because he is more blunt/aggressive/egotistical, etc.

GuitarStv

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #48 on: July 24, 2018, 12:26:08 PM »
In the good ol' days our economic rivals had done us the inestimable service of totally trashing their industrial and commercial infrastructure with war: immediately post WW II, US GDP was a staggering 40 percent of the world's. Of course we were riding high.

Is that why Trump is so focused on starting another world war?

John Doe

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #49 on: July 24, 2018, 01:17:05 PM »
Well I can say that the actions of the Trump administration has made my family adjust our purchasing decisions. We try to avoid made in the US products and have turned down two opportunities to travel/vacation in the US.  I realize that our actions practically have nil effect but it is about the only thing we can do to voice our displeasure at the current political tone and direction in the US. We can of course agree to disagree on such things but in the end it just all seems so unfortunate it has come to such a point.  Of course we could disagree on that too. So I guess in my household geopolitical events can and do matter on occasion.