Author Topic: How much do geopolitical issues matter?  (Read 4795 times)

pecunia

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #50 on: July 24, 2018, 02:23:05 PM »
John Doe:

Quote
We try to avoid made in the US products and have turned down two opportunities to travel/vacation in the US.

Well, I expect he'll be gone in 2-1/2 years.  Please visit then.

letsdoit

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #51 on: July 24, 2018, 02:28:18 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.
+1

Syonyk

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #52 on: July 24, 2018, 05:20:07 PM »
Well, I expect he'll be gone in 2-1/2 years.  Please visit then.

Or 6 1/2.  Either way.

John Doe

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #53 on: July 24, 2018, 06:20:19 PM »
Well, I expect he'll be gone in 2-1/2 years.  Please visit then.

Or 6 1/2.  Either way.

We look forward to it. Would love to start buying Napa Cab once again although it may not be very mustachian.

Laserjet3051

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #54 on: July 24, 2018, 07:10:16 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?

I'm a regular person, i live in America. The issues you cite above do not affect my everyday life. At all. With the exception that if I see Merkel gets all huffy and pissed, I might chuckle for a second......but then move on with my day.

Sibley

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #55 on: July 26, 2018, 08:26:12 AM »
Taking this down to the micro level, a lot of people think that geopolitical issues don't matter. "Who cares if ___________? It doesn't impact me."

And they're right. Who cares if the middle east is a tinderbox. Who cares if there's famine in Africa. Who cares if the Sudan is still in the middle of a civil war.

Until it does. At which point, they're behind the ball, it's much harder to make changes, damage has been done.

Because the middle east is a tinderbox, that could (and has) threatened our oil and gas supply. If that tinderbox flares in a war, there will be consequences. Because there's famine and civil war there are thousands, if not millions of refugees, and they have to go somewhere. Italy and Germany are cracking under the pressure, so Spain is getting more. At some point, Spain is going to crack. I don't pay attention to the EU news that much, but even I can see the pressures building in their societies. How do you fix those problems?

And before you say it doesn't matter, because we're the USA, who cares - consider our trading relationships. Consider our treaties. Consider our historic ties. It is not that simple. I saw an article about companies changing their profit projections because of increases in materials costs. That will have an impact - on staffing levels, on wages, on strategy. A whole lot of innocent bystanders are going to be impacted, and probably not for the better. Some of that is due to the EU (more is probably China).

Geopolitical issues both do and do not matter. "No" because they don't have a direct impact on the day to day, but "yes" because they do have an impact on shaping the structure of society as a whole, which will impact the day to day. I really don't think that humans, in general, are capable of sustaining that duality of thought on an ongoing basis. It's exhausting, it's overwhelming. We lose hope and motivation. But it doesn't mean it doesn't matter.

GuitarStv

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #56 on: July 26, 2018, 08:39:12 AM »
Taking this down to the micro level, a lot of people think that geopolitical issues don't matter. "Who cares if ___________? It doesn't impact me."

And they're right. Who cares if the middle east is a tinderbox. Who cares if there's famine in Africa. Who cares if the Sudan is still in the middle of a civil war.

Until it does. At which point, they're behind the ball, it's much harder to make changes, damage has been done.

Because the middle east is a tinderbox, that could (and has) threatened our oil and gas supply. If that tinderbox flares in a war, there will be consequences. Because there's famine and civil war there are thousands, if not millions of refugees, and they have to go somewhere. Italy and Germany are cracking under the pressure, so Spain is getting more. At some point, Spain is going to crack. I don't pay attention to the EU news that much, but even I can see the pressures building in their societies. How do you fix those problems?

And before you say it doesn't matter, because we're the USA, who cares - consider our trading relationships. Consider our treaties. Consider our historic ties. It is not that simple. I saw an article about companies changing their profit projections because of increases in materials costs. That will have an impact - on staffing levels, on wages, on strategy. A whole lot of innocent bystanders are going to be impacted, and probably not for the better. Some of that is due to the EU (more is probably China).

Geopolitical issues both do and do not matter. "No" because they don't have a direct impact on the day to day, but "yes" because they do have an impact on shaping the structure of society as a whole, which will impact the day to day. I really don't think that humans, in general, are capable of sustaining that duality of thought on an ongoing basis. It's exhausting, it's overwhelming. We lose hope and motivation. But it doesn't mean it doesn't matter.

To build on this . . . do Americans remember when the CIA funded, trained, and armed a group of freedom fighters in Afghanistan to throw off their Soviet oppressors?  OK.  Now do you remember that one of those brave mujahadeen was named Osama Bin Laden (https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2005/jul/08/july7.development)?  That had some implications for the US later on, if I recall.  Another was Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman (co-plotter of the '93 WTC bombing - https://www.nytimes.com/1993/07/22/nyregion/cia-officers-played-role-in-sheik-visas.html).

How many terrorists do you think that the US run torture and sexual abuse facility at Abu Graib created before it was shut down?  How many do you think that imprisoning innocent Muslims from around the world at the Guantanamo Bay torture facility has caused?  What about the explicit US support of child rapists in Afghanistan?  Or the hundreds of innocent people (including many children) killed or maimed in Northern Pakistan by drone strike?

The world is not a vacuum.  'Far, far away' does not mean 'safe to ignore'', because action your government takes far away has a habit of catching up to you . . . although it may not be tomorrow you will have to pay the piper for your actions eventually.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2018, 08:46:52 AM by GuitarStv »

mathlete

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #57 on: July 26, 2018, 09:06:35 AM »
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.

Ugh... this makes me so sad. What an embarrassment this whole thing has been. Needless to say, I hope we Americans see you again sooner rather than later.

pecunia

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #58 on: July 26, 2018, 10:35:21 AM »
Guitarman:
Quote
The world is not a vacuum.  'Far, far away' does not mean 'safe to ignore'', because action your government takes far away has a habit of catching up to you . . . although it may not be tomorrow you will have to pay the piper for your actions eventually.

That's it.  Time to punish those judgemental, holier than thou , proper English speaking, hockey loving Canucks!  Why go all the way to the Middle East to fight an oil war?  Tuques always reminded me of turbans anyway.

fiteacher

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #59 on: July 28, 2018, 01:50:51 PM »
For me this is extremely important, but part of it is my own research (I focus on America's role in the world). If the liberal order is weakened/ceded to countries like China then they get to manage and make the rules that others have to follow. I would stipulate that one of the reasons why the U.S./world has enjoyed a relative amount of peace in the world for the last 2 decades (there is less death from interstate conflict than in the recorded history of mankind at this time) is because of that liberal order that was created, managed, and extended out of the Bretton Woods institutions in the 1940s and reinforced by every president since that time.

When those international norms are harmed I worry greatly about it politically, culturally, and economically on its long-term aspects of the world and the U.S.

pecunia

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #60 on: July 31, 2018, 10:49:23 AM »
Link

[url]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bretton_Woods_system

For me this is extremely important, but part of it is my own research (I focus on America's role in the world). If the liberal order is weakened/ceded to countries like China then they get to manage and make the rules that others have to follow.

When those international norms are harmed I worry greatly about it politically, culturally, and economically on its long-term aspects of the world and the U.S.

Seems like China has been doing a lot of investing in places like Africa that could use some help.  This seems like a good thing and I haven't heard of them being unfair to those whom they are helping to develop.  It sounds like its been win-win

letsdoit

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #61 on: July 31, 2018, 11:27:31 AM »
Link

[url]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bretton_Woods_system

For me this is extremely important, but part of it is my own research (I focus on America's role in the world). If the liberal order is weakened/ceded to countries like China then they get to manage and make the rules that others have to follow.

When those international norms are harmed I worry greatly about it politically, culturally, and economically on its long-term aspects of the world and the U.S.

Seems like China has been doing a lot of investing in places like Africa that could use some help.  This seems like a good thing and I haven't heard of them being unfair to those whom they are helping to develop.  It sounds like its been win-win

ha ha.  you might like to learn more about Africa

pecunia

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #62 on: July 31, 2018, 02:57:49 PM »

Link

ha ha.  you might like to learn more about Africa

Sure,.....enlighten me.  Here's one link that says mostly good things.  Most news links seem similar.


https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/theworldpost/wp/2018/04/12/china-africa/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.056943c230e6

This Wikipedia article looks mostly good.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Africa%E2%80%93China_relations

I've got to admit that like South America I do not follow the goings on in Africa.

talltexan

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #63 on: August 01, 2018, 07:24:09 AM »
Link

[url]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bretton_Woods_system

For me this is extremely important, but part of it is my own research (I focus on America's role in the world). If the liberal order is weakened/ceded to countries like China then they get to manage and make the rules that others have to follow.

When those international norms are harmed I worry greatly about it politically, culturally, and economically on its long-term aspects of the world and the U.S.

Seems like China has been doing a lot of investing in places like Africa that could use some help.  This seems like a good thing and I haven't heard of them being unfair to those whom they are helping to develop.  It sounds like its been win-win

ha ha.  you might like to learn more about Africa

Investment is good, and it does raise the standard of living.

An issue with Chinese investors is that they do not attach the same value to Human Rights and other non-pecuniary measures of quality of life. Chinese money might be good at turning a place like S. Sudan into Mexico, but it won't turn it into Switzerland.

GuitarStv

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #64 on: August 01, 2018, 08:09:55 AM »
An issue with Chinese investors is that they do not attach the same value to Human Rights and other non-pecuniary measures of quality of life. Chinese money might be good at turning a place like S. Sudan into Mexico, but it won't turn it into Switzerland.

US investment attaches a large value to Human Rights?  Ummmm . . .



https://www.business-humanrights.org/en/ford-lawsuit-re-argentina
"In May 2013 three former Ford executives were indicted for crimes against humanity, following the criminal investigation that begun in 2002. The three men were accused of giving names, ID numbers, pictures and home addresses to security forces who hauled two dozen union workers off the floor of Ford's factory in suburban Buenos Aires to be tortured and interrogated and then sent to military prisons. "

https://www.reuters.com/article/chiquita-colombia-decision-idUSL2N0PZ28P20140724
"Chiquita in March 2007 pleaded guilty to a U.S. criminal charge and paid a $25 million fine for having made payments from 1997 through February 2004 to the right-wing paramilitary group United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, known in Spanish as AUC."

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2001/jul/21/julianborger
"Coca-Cola's bottling plants in Colombia used rightwing death squads to terrorise workers and prevent the organisation of unions, it was alleged in a Miami court yesterday.
The US union United Steelworkers is suing Coca-Cola on behalf of the Colombian union Sinaltrainal for what the lawsuit describes as "the systematic intimidation, kidnapping, detention and murder" of workers in Colombian plants.

Sinaltrainal claims that five of its members working in Coca-Cola bottling plants have been killed since 1994."

https://www.fastcompany.com/40444836/escalating-sweatshop-protests-keep-nike-sweating
"Two years ago, Nike stopped allowing independent inspectors to monitor working conditions at Nike factories, saying that it would instead carry out these checks on its own. Since then, there have been reports of terrible working conditions inside these factories.

In Cambodia, for instance, 500 workers inside a plant that supplies products to Nike, Puma, Asics, and the VF Corporation were hospitalized after fainting out of exhaustion and hunger as a result of working 10-hour shifts, six days a week, in 98-degree heat."

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/dec/03/ogoni-king-shell-oil-is-killing-my-people
"In 2011 the UN environment programme (Unep) published a scientific study of pollution in Ogoniland which said it found oil spills happening with “alarming regularity” in Ogale, including groundwater contamination that is more than 4,500 times Nigerian recommended levels. Water samples taken in 2010 from three metres below ground were found to be contaminated with benzene and other chemicals."

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-court-apartheid-idUSKCN0Z61KA
"Ford was accused of providing military vehicles for South African security forces and sharing information about anti-apartheid and union activists. IBM was accused of providing technology and training to perpetuate racial separation and the “denationalization” of black South Africans."

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/capitalbusiness/abu-ghraib-suit-against-contractor-caci-is-reinstated/2014/06/30/9f98d0e2-0074-11e4-8fd0-3a663dfa68ac_story.html?utm_term=.81ce83531e18
"A federal appeals court has reinstated a lawsuit against Arlington-based defense contractor CACI International that accuses the company’s employees of conspiring with the U.S. military to torture detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq."

http://www.panna.org/press-release/%E2%80%9Cbig-6%E2%80%9D-guilty-human-rights-violations
"The verdict was handed down to the six largest pesticide corporations – Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer, BASF, Dow and Dupont – collectively known as the “Big 6”, for their human rights violations, including internationally recognized rights to life, livelihood and health. The agrichemical industry is valued at over $42 billion and operates with impunity while over 355,000 people die from pesticide poisoning each year, and hundreds of thousands more are made ill. In addition, pesticide corporations have put livelihoods and jobs in jeopardy, including, farmers, beekeepers and lobstermen."

https://www.newsweek.com/us-companies-are-violating-human-rights-palestinians-un-report-claims-797558
"Around 206 companies, most of which are from the U.S. and Israel, have ongoing operations inside Israeli settlements that are considered illegal under international law, according to a report issued by the United Nations Human Rights Office (OHCHR) on Wednesday.

The report says that the businesses identified are helping Israeli settlements to violate the rights of Palestinians in places like the West Bank."

https://corpwatch.org/article/india-bhopal-disaster-and-aftermath-violation-human-rights
"Amnesty said it believed that at least 15,000 people died between 1985 and 2003 because of disaster, which saw tonnes of deadly methyl isocyanate seep into the atmosphere on the night of December 2-3, 1984 from a pesticide plant owned by US firm Union Carbide in Bhopal."




 . . . someone forgot to tell US businesses this.
« Last Edit: August 01, 2018, 08:29:20 AM by GuitarStv »

acroy

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #65 on: August 01, 2018, 08:16:19 AM »
An issue with Chinese investors is that they do not attach the same value to Human Rights and other non-pecuniary measures of quality of life. Chinese money might be good at turning a place like S. Sudan into Mexico, but it won't turn it into Switzerland.

US investment attaches a large value to Human Rights?  Ummmm . . .

 . . . someone forgot to tell US businesses this.
Those items were newsworthy precisely because they were exceptional.

talltexan

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #66 on: August 01, 2018, 08:50:57 AM »
Both of the following can be true:

  • All of those stories are valid and represent severe lapses in corporate behavior that required making victims whole
  • The liberal values of Journalistic oversight, self-government and individual dignity result in better outcomes when US capital goes into a country when compared to what would happen with Chinese capital (whose country has little interest in maintaining those values)

GuitarStv

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #67 on: August 01, 2018, 09:12:52 AM »
Both of the following can be true:

  • All of those stories are valid and represent severe lapses in corporate behavior that required making victims whole
  • The liberal values of Journalistic oversight, self-government and individual dignity result in better outcomes when US capital goes into a country when compared to what would happen with Chinese capital (whose country has little interest in maintaining those values)

Don't get me wrong, I don't think that the US is alone in this (Canada certainly has a bunch of mining companies around the world with a long list of human rights violations, Swiss based Nestle employs child labour, etc.)  Generally, most large companies operate with impunity when doing business in 3rd world countries.  Human rights violations are not uncommon or exceptional.  Exploitation is the rule.  That's the whole reason that the companies are there . . . to save money.  This is done by avoiding environmental/safety regulations, paying as little as possible, and working employees as hard as possible while providing as few comforts as possible.  Doing otherwise is irresponsible to share holders because it will fail to maximize profit.

Journalistic oversight is a very small deterrent when compared to the profits that can be generated by acting unethically.  Look at Nike.  They were the poster child for third world exploitation in the 90s.  The tremendous amount of coverage (newspapers, books, articles on the internet) slightly slowed their sales . . . but it's 2018, and they've started doing exactly the same things again that they originally got in trouble for.

I've seen little indication that 'self-government' and 'individual dignity' (whatever that's supposed to mean) result in better outcomes for the people that a company is exploiting.  Can you elaborate?

If you're going to claim the a company from the US is going to automatically be better than a company from China for the third world, can you provide anything beyond pro-american rhetoric to support it?

letsdoit

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #68 on: August 01, 2018, 09:23:33 AM »
if a foreign power buys off the one family in charge of a poor country  and takes its resources while creating no jobs for locals (the chinese bring their won workers)  why is that good development?
that is colonialism

pecunia

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #69 on: August 01, 2018, 04:45:47 PM »
letsdoit:  (nike?)

"The Chinese bring their own workers"  Not completely - see link

http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2017-03/18/c_136139077.htm

I would think it may take a bit to train locals to do some of the jobs.

GuitarStv - You sure are hard on the US.  On the other hand, there do seem to be a lot of businesses that operate close to the dark side.

RetiredAt63

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #70 on: August 01, 2018, 07:28:34 PM »
letsdoit:  (nike?)

"The Chinese bring their own workers"  Not completely - see link

http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2017-03/18/c_136139077.htm

I would think it may take a bit to train locals to do some of the jobs.

GuitarStv - You sure are hard on the US.  On the other hand, there do seem to be a lot of businesses that operate close to the dark side.

He mentioned companies in his own country, Canada. And we see it here - just look at the Lac Megantic rail disaster.   Crappy as pipelines are, trains can be worse for oil transport.  And definitely worse when the company involved puts the bottom line ahead of safety.  Look at all the arsenic in mine tailings around Cobalt, ON.          Mine tailings that blow in the wind over 100 years after the mines closed.   Look at all the coal mine messes in the Maritimes, including the Westray explosion.   It's not all fun and games being a country that has a resource-based economy.

Corporations don't owe or show loyalty to countries, and they don't owe or show loyalty to ordinary citizens.  And, they only nominally owe and show loyalty to stockholders. 

pecunia

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #71 on: August 01, 2018, 08:40:00 PM »
Quote
It's not all fun and games being a country that has a resource-based economy

Subbury is kind of famous too.

BobMueller

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #72 on: August 03, 2018, 04:39:23 PM »
The only countries that matter in the world today are probably the US and China. If they aren't at war, don't worry. There is no "geopolitics".

marty998

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #73 on: August 04, 2018, 03:22:44 AM »
The only countries that matter in the world today are probably the US and China. If they aren't at war, don't worry. There is no "geopolitics".

Hello Bob Mueller.

So you don't think Russia matters?

(Apologies to everyone else for the thread derail, but I needed a laugh).

Cranky

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #74 on: August 04, 2018, 10:06:50 AM »
Geopolitical issues are economic issues, IMO, and those economic issues will obviously have an impact on us all, but in ways that I think are pretty unpredictable. Climate change is one heck of a wild card in this, too.

I think my life will go on just fine - one thing about living in a post-industrial wasteland, as I rather do already, is that your money and resources go a long, long way.

I've got a grandson to worry about, though.

BobMueller

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #75 on: August 04, 2018, 06:15:10 PM »
The only countries that matter in the world today are probably the US and China. If they aren't at war, don't worry. There is no "geopolitics".

Hello Bob Mueller.

So you don't think Russia matters?

(Apologies to everyone else for the thread derail, but I needed a laugh).
I don't want to get too political in this forum, but as part of a "low information diet", there is nothing wrong with introspection around current investigations and their relevance to your life. Try to put yourself in the shoes of someone who watched Fox 5 years ago and grumbled about "benghazi" all the time. Fox News made a lot of money on it. Try to be sure you are not in the same position here, helping NBC make money, grumbling about "russia" all the time.

Low Information Diet--Geopolitical issues mostly don't matter!

Hargrove

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #76 on: August 04, 2018, 10:21:19 PM »
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.

+1 to every movement that ever accomplished positive change ever.

Quote
To build on this . . . do Americans remember when the CIA funded, trained, and armed a group of freedom fighters in Afghanistan to throw off their Soviet oppressors?

Lol. Except, they didn't - not to throw them off, anyway. They wanted to bleed the Soviets, which they did, for a stupendous amount of money at the time. Then Bin Laden turned around and thanked us after the CIA abandoned ship following Soviet withdrawal. So the CIA walked in and did to themselves what they had done to the Soviets for... some reason. They favored Gulbuddin Hekmatyar over Ahmad Shah Massoud because Hekmatyar "got results" (despite the fact that he literally told the CIA that America was his next target). The Lion of Panjshir was assassinated, and some felt that was the end of the chance for near-term peace. No one will know if he could have done it, but we do know there hasn't been a lot of peace.

BobMueller - can I have your autograph?

Cranky

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #77 on: August 05, 2018, 04:54:27 AM »
If we had minded our own damn business in Afgahnistan in the 80's, I think history would have been a whole lot different.

ChpBstrd

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #78 on: August 05, 2018, 08:23:16 AM »
There seems to be a lot of learned helplessness and proud disengagement from generation X and the millennial generation. "Oh well, what can I do" is a large part of why about half of eligible voters sat out the 2016 election. It's also the basis for a lot of anti-mustachian behavior.

Disengagement and a focus on oneself was perhaps a predictable outcome from the first American generations who were unable to do as well as their parents. The experience of gen X and millennials is to have no pensions, no unions, investments wiped out in 2000 and 2008, no ability to buy a home in one's early 20's, sporadic access to health insurance, student loans for often-useless degrees, and not starting families until in one's 30's due to a focus on career. Contrast this lifestyle with the experiences of the baby boomers or silent generation, who could get solid-paying union or union-influenced jobs that would allow them to buy a tract house straight out of high school. People now work very long hours and drive very long and costly commutes. This extension in the time it takes to build an adult life meant people had less time for civic engagement. It's hard to be confident from a bedroom in your parents' house, much less run for public office in your 20s as generations of Americans had done before. The inability to achieve cultural norms (generally, of consumption ability) made many young people think they needed to focus on their own lives rather than addressing societal concerns.

Of course, one way out of this crisis of confidence is offered by ideology. Confidence could be regained by joining people who see everything through an ideological lens that says the cause of our dissatisfaction is some other demographic group (minorities if right-wing, the 1% if left-wing). Thus the only people with confidence to speak or participate in government are the simplistic ideologues. Meanwhile the pragmatists are still trying to boost their confidence by focused on advancing their careers or consumption. Political participation became a mark of being a brainwashed wingbat, while obsessing about careers, BMWs, and houses while not caring about politics became the new way to be sophisticated.

The problem is that politics matter a lot. Take your same skillset and career experience and drop it into a country with authoritarian government, high corruption, poor educational infrastructure, or ethnic conflicts / fragmentation. How successful would you be in Zambia, Venezuela, El Salvador, Sudan, Sri Lanka, North Korea, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Libya, Ukraine, or Pakistan? No matter how hard you work in those environments, there is a low ceiling. At some point, you must pay for private education for your kids, private security guards, bribes, more bribes, extortion fees, and high inflation - all in an environment where long-term investments (e.g. a factory, modern equipment, or a nice house) don't make sense because of the risk it will be seized/stolen or you'll be forced to flee.

No amount of "hard work", "resiliency", "work ethic", "strength", or "grit" allows a person to escape the constraints of their surroundings unless they apply those qualities to flee to places with better political systems. Even then, the life of a refugee is far from easy.

The other problem is that ideologues cannot solve problems BECAUSE they are not pragmatists. Ideologues are more interested in virtue-signaling one another to gain status within their in-groups (loud forced public prayers if right-wing, language codes and thought crimes if left-wing) and force-fitting facts into ideological narratives. The more pragmatists avoid politics, the more we end up with dysfunctional government, conflict, and the sort of apathy-spiral seen in failing nations.

History is full of examples of countries that went from functionality and prosperity to a collapse of freedom and the economy within just a few years after corrupt, hyper-ideological government took over. Germany in the 1930s, Argentina in the 90s, Venezuela in the 2000s, Iran in the late 70s, Greece in the 2000s, Turkey in the 2010s, etc. It is naive to think something makes the U.S. immune no matter how bad our governance gets.

MMM is a decent role model in this regard. By refusing to fall into the trap of consumerism/careerism, he became FI and then applies some of his time working as an influencer - advocating for bike lanes and a low-consumption high-fitness/resiliency lifestyle. Yet he would have done better to incorporate civic engagement into his pre-FI life. If all Gen Xers and millennials wait until they are millionaires to volunteer on their first campaign, the world isn't getting better anytime soon. It's time to get over the socioeconomic insecurity and the shortsighted focus on one's own bank account. Civic engagement is a part of a balanced lifestyle. You can arrange for your own personal form of advocacy to fit within the context of your social life, family life, and interests. The alternative is to passively consume Netflix and Facebook on your iPhone while working long hours in pursuit of some benchmark of consumption, at which point you expect to finally find the confidence to express a set of values. I wonder how many multi-millionaires in Venezuela wish they had spent their time differently in hindsight, now that it means nothing to be a multi-millionaire in Venezuela.

It matters a lot and there's a lot you should be doing.

talltexan

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #79 on: August 06, 2018, 07:33:26 AM »
I'd argue that having the time/energy for civic engagement is a very appealing benefit of the FI lifestyle.

ChpBstrd

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #80 on: August 06, 2018, 10:27:45 AM »
I'd argue that having the time/energy for civic engagement is a very appealing benefit of the FI lifestyle.

I'd add that civic engagement is easy to work into one's lifestyle well before FI once one has FU money, a minimal commute, a lack of debt, a small-low maintenance place to live, and a reduction in time wasted on passive entertainment. What's that, 5-10 extra hours per week?

Hargrove

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #81 on: August 06, 2018, 06:09:04 PM »
Someone told me that by not voting, he was making a statement. You make a statement by making a statement, not by failing to make a statement. Non-participation isn't an invitation for others to figure out your secret meaning. Non-participation is the best possible way to destroy a form of government based on participation.

"This small way I, citizen, can hold you, leader, accountable, I today surrender, to let you know I'm not thrilled with what you're doing, and I agree to do nothing about it."

But nevermind voting. Voting is the bare minimum engagement with the democratic process. Those who vote and wipe their hands clean didn't save democracy in 20 minutes, either. ChpBstrd is right - saying "I'll be civically engaged later" is not terribly different from "I'll do pushups tomorrow" or "I'll save money right after I buy this F150."

I love hating the F150.

pecunia

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #82 on: August 06, 2018, 07:33:31 PM »
Hargrove:
Quote
I love hating the F150

They have a drinking problem.  I am renting one right now.  It sure does use gasoline.

Comment:  Some have commented on Gen X and millennials not caring about politics.  Many of these guys have multiple jobs.  No time for politics.

sixwings

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #83 on: August 06, 2018, 09:42:46 PM »
Taking this down to the micro level, a lot of people think that geopolitical issues don't matter. "Who cares if ___________? It doesn't impact me."

And they're right. Who cares if the middle east is a tinderbox. Who cares if there's famine in Africa. Who cares if the Sudan is still in the middle of a civil war.

Until it does. At which point, they're behind the ball, it's much harder to make changes, damage has been done.

Because the middle east is a tinderbox, that could (and has) threatened our oil and gas supply. If that tinderbox flares in a war, there will be consequences. Because there's famine and civil war there are thousands, if not millions of refugees, and they have to go somewhere. Italy and Germany are cracking under the pressure, so Spain is getting more. At some point, Spain is going to crack. I don't pay attention to the EU news that much, but even I can see the pressures building in their societies. How do you fix those problems?

And before you say it doesn't matter, because we're the USA, who cares - consider our trading relationships. Consider our treaties. Consider our historic ties. It is not that simple. I saw an article about companies changing their profit projections because of increases in materials costs. That will have an impact - on staffing levels, on wages, on strategy. A whole lot of innocent bystanders are going to be impacted, and probably not for the better. Some of that is due to the EU (more is probably China).

Geopolitical issues both do and do not matter. "No" because they don't have a direct impact on the day to day, but "yes" because they do have an impact on shaping the structure of society as a whole, which will impact the day to day. I really don't think that humans, in general, are capable of sustaining that duality of thought on an ongoing basis. It's exhausting, it's overwhelming. We lose hope and motivation. But it doesn't mean it doesn't matter.

People can only that geo-political issues don't impact them today because the USA does a pretty good job of ensuring it doesn't. I doubt too many people in 1914 or 1942 said that geopolitical issues don't impact them. We have historic peace around the world and it's only getting better with time. Unfortunatley some people need their children to die in WW3 to remember why NATO and geopolitics do matter.

ChpBstrd

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #84 on: August 07, 2018, 07:01:26 AM »
Someone told me that by not voting, he was making a statement. You make a statement by making a statement, not by failing to make a statement. Non-participation isn't an invitation for others to figure out your secret meaning. Non-participation is the best possible way to destroy a form of government based on participation.

+100

Notice how those often-dishonest negative political ads are designed to discourage targeted demographics from voting? It works. And then those people who were targeted act like they are making some sort of enlightened choice to boycott democracy. They think everyone else is being influenced.

It's the same as those men who think you need an F150 to be a "real man" and don't realize they never had such an attitude until they watched 5,000 commercials with unshaven macho guy role models driving trucks off road.

Syonyk

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #85 on: August 07, 2018, 09:09:29 AM »
Nah, the F150 is the toy truck for those not man enough for a diesel Super Duty. ;)

The EcoBoost F150 isn't awful on gas. Some of the V8s are really bad though.

jm89

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #86 on: August 08, 2018, 12:48:41 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.

I just had to bump this post by RR -> 100% nailed it. I've always struggled to express why I feel this way and you just did it perfectly. I'll be quoting you to my 24/7-media-consuming family members from here on out!

ChpBstrd

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #87 on: August 08, 2018, 01:41:14 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.

I just had to bump this post by RR -> 100% nailed it. I've always struggled to express why I feel this way and you just did it perfectly. I'll be quoting you to my 24/7-media-consuming family members from here on out!

There's a big difference between having a low-information diet and contributing absolutely zero to improving the world (i.e. not voting, not donating to support your values, being apathetic/selfish).

Yes, as RR points out, it is an act of futility to argue on Facebook, to consume two hours of news per day, or to serve as a repeater drone for whatever ideological information source one is hooked on.

It's not futile or foolish to be informed (not propagandized, informed) or to take meaningful real-world action to improve one's community, nation, or world. What's the alternative? The hedonic treadmill of comfort and luxury? To consider oneself "insignificant" and helpless? To hang out all day with similarly self-made helpless people trying to justify my meaninglessness? None of that for me, thanks!

Hargrove

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #88 on: August 08, 2018, 05:41:42 PM »
MMM doesn't waste a lot of time going from "low info diet" to "let's talk city planning."

As for "we're all doomed anyway" - why be interested in space travel and 10 billion years in the future if we're not interested in clean water tomorrow? Acquiring new stuff to replace the stuff we've trashed (instead of taking care of it) is not my idea of a plan, whether physical objects we own, areas we inhabit, or social circles we're a part of, which includes politics.

As for stuff that's not worth worrying about, the sun swallowing the world whole is at the bottom of my list.

talltexan

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Re: How much do geopolitical issues matter?
« Reply #89 on: August 09, 2018, 11:39:17 AM »
Apparently the Andromeda galaxy will collide with our own in approximately 4 billion years, perhaps more if they continue revising estimates of the Andromeda galaxy's mass downwards. So all you people who are waiting around for the Sun to swell up and swallow us won't be alive to see it, because--seriously--you think you can survive a galactic collision?

Are you so badass that you're stronger than an entire galaxy?