Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Empire in Decline

I'm very behind on things that are important, however, I found this article especially interesting, because the guy talking is a hedge fund manager. Yet, he has a very liberal arts/classically educated take on what the health bill means for the USA.

I can't remember if it was Plato or Aristotle, I think Plato, but I'm not sure if it was in the Republic, but at some point he mentions that societies that are becoming weaker will inevitably have many doctors, a trend in this country and the modern world completely aside from the health bill.

The point of the guy in the article is that many doctors, coupled with the 'demand' for universal healthcare, is a sign that the people are relying more and more on the state to take care of them, which of course is a sign of weakness. I say 'demand' because I'm not convinced that greater than 50% of the population wanted this bill, especially given that it supposedly will provide health coverage to only around 10% of the population (and even that number is highly questionable) while costing EVERYONE ELSE in much greater proportion.

I find the health bill and what it means troubling not just with a financial and socialistic perspective, but also a greater politically philosophical one (which does tie to the socialistic perspective, I know). Universal health coverage, with a deep dependence on government, is a concept fundamentally tied to Utopian ideas, which are stupid (and I don't say that flippantly) and ultimately represent an impossible reality. Yet in many ways those ideas are at the root of any liberal, whether they realize it or not.

Health Care Law Signals US Empire Decline?

The passage of the health care law shows that the US empire is declining because it illustrates the fact that people expect the state to take care of them, David Murrin, the co-founder of Emergent Asset Management hedge fund manager, told CNBC.
On Tuesday, US President Barack Obama signed into law health care legislation that expands health coverage for the poor, imposes new taxes on the rich and forbids insurance practices such as refusing coverage to those with pre-existing conditions.
In their expansionary phase, empires force people to go out, seek risks and fend for themselves, Murrin said, reminding of the dismantling of the British empire after the war, when the National Health Service, which ensures universal health coverage in Britain, was created.
"This (empire decline) is actually a dead-set course that societies get into and it will happen very quickly I'm afraid," he told "Squawk Box Europe."
"As you start to build a system it becomes cohesive because of its success... the fractures in the American system I think are more apparent than ever," Murrin added.
China's rise will be much faster than most people anticipate as the country's military prowess increases, he said.
"We all know there's going to be a change, the surprise will be the pace of that change," Murrin said, noting that "all empires when they decline they underestimate their challengers."
The peak for commodities will be reached somewhere between 2020 and 2025 and it's the period before that that must be watched, as China seems much more willing to take risks than Western countries, he predicted.
- Watch the full interview with David Murrin above.
"You have a lot more males in China then you do in the west," he said, noting that 56 percent of the Chinese society was male, because of the country's policies to control population and because of traditions which value males more than females.
"What that means is that they're far more risk-oriented than a society in the West...if you look at conflict and your ability to risk your males in conflict," Murrin explained.
China has started to innovate and has worked out what the West's weaknesses are so it can overtake developed countries, he added.
The country is investing heavily in Africa, which Murrin calls a "huge opportunity" because it has the best demographics in the world and a big resource pool.
"I think Africa, as a generic theme, is the hottest thing in town," he said.

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