Awake, Sleeping Beauty America

Tuesday, July 10, 2007
In a piece in the FT with the above title, ad whiz Maurice Saatchi lists a number of criticisms he says are commonly heard about the USA. I thought I would post them here by number and invite commenters to, er, comment on any or all of them:

1. It is too much in love with money – worshipping the god of the marketplace, the golden calf.
2. It has too much money, seven of the top 10 banks, eight of the top 10 companies etc.
3. It is too stingy, giving away less of its wealth than other countries.
4. It is vulgar, a rich barbarian.
5. It has a lowly culture yet practises cultural imperialism. It makes people dread “Americanisation”.
6. It is arrogant and condescending to “the little monkeys” from other cultures.
7. It is too religious, saying “God bless America” once too often.
8. It has too much power, spending more on arms than the rest of the world put together.
9. It is a hypocrite, disguising its wars of self-interest as humanitarian interventions and exporting democracy at the point of a bayonet.
10. It is inconsistent – agitating for “regime change” with some “un-democratic” countries, but with others giving arms, aid and trade.
11. It has an incoherent foreign policy – it abandoned the “no first strike” principle which kept the peace for decades; “pre-emption” replaced “deterrence” but has no basis in international law.
12. It is too close to Israel.
13. It resists multilateral solutions, preferring unilateralism, hegemony, a sheriff strategy – In Guns We Trust.
14. It has aroused the envy of Europeans, causing them to want to form a rival power bloc.
15. It has hit a brick wall, the Great Wall of China, where “state capitalism” works.
16. It has not solved the mystery of Islam.
17. And it is not even a democracy, as the 44 per cent turnout of its eligible voters in presidential elections proves.

Finally, he states, "The accusations against the US are endless."

15 comments:

truepeers said...

Endless indeed, like the bicyclists and the Jews.

World's largest economy; but just try finding salt and vinegar chips at the biggest Walmart in Wichita! And they'll go out of their way to give the French surrender poodles what they want, but do they ever stop to ask if maybe people at home might like some paprika wedges and mayo too? It's all a big conspiracy!

Buddy Larsen said...

...and it's too damn big. Ever think about walking the perimeter? Of course not. But Luxemborgians can, and even Belgians and Dutchmen. But not us, nosiree.

richard mcenroe said...

Mt god, Maurice, you're right! How could we not have seen it? We must atone.

Tell you what, we'll pull out of NATO and let rich advertising executives defend Cool Britannia's way of life. Howzat for a start?

Knucklehead said...

Here's a link to the article.

It opens with...

"On this July 4, Americans may be perplexed and confused about the way their country is perceived in the world."

I'm not perplexed or confused about it at all. Been around the block enough times to know that that Euros and everyone else around this globe is every bit as Archie Bunkerish as any American ever was. And that the US is the safe play when it comes to being an self-righteous, bigot.

It continues...

"Accusations against the US have become a global phenomenon,..."

Sorry, Maurice, but this has been going on for the 25+ years I've been exposed to things international. It has not become, it has been - and for a very long time.

There's no way I'm going through all 17 items, so let's just take the first few...

1. It is too much in love with money – worshipping the god of the marketplace, the golden calf.

What is it people from other parts of the globe are "in love with"? I think Euros are way too in love with their vacation junkets and welfare benefits. Lose your job... big deal, no need to find another any time soon. I fail to see why that's something to be so all fired n love with.

BTW, how is this bit about Americans more "in love with money" measured by anyone? I never noticed money being a bigger (or lesser) topic of rapt discussion in the US than anywhere else.

2. It has too much money, seven of the top 10 banks, eight of the top 10 companies etc.

Oh? Here's the first list of top ten banks I clicked on.

My count says 6 of the top 10 companies.

No need to be accurate with acusations, just make 'em.

3. It is too stingy, giving away less of its wealth than other countries.

Yet another, Oh? Really? Is this the least bit true?

4. It is vulgar, a rich barbarian.

And we're supposed to answer this bit of idiocy... how?

5. It has a lowly culture yet practises cultural imperialism. It makes people dread "Americanisation".

I encourage anyone to take a global tour and have a gander at the middle level of "culture" anywhere. Low? We have no monopoly on that.

6. It is arrogant and condescending to “the little monkeys” from other cultures.

So, 'splain to me how the person, or people, who can make the last two claims, in particular, has any right to make them about others?

Just askin'
It just goes on from there. What a bunch of bigoted tripe.

Rick Ballard said...

Knuck,

Ya gotta admit he has a good point about China. "It has hit a brick wall, the Great Wall of China, where “state capitalism” works."

America just doesn't have a strong enough correction mechanism with which to handle minor difficulties.

Buddy Larsen said...

China to-date hasn't proved anything other than that political and economic liberty are not always necessarily gained (or lost) at any given lockstepped rate. IOW we're still in the midst of China's transition.

truepeers said...

Rick, what percentage of Chinese officials do you think are not corrupt? It's a wonder how they decide which among them to execute. State capitalism? more like crony capitalism with still weak choices for reinvesting wealth. A Chinese guy was explaining to me the other day that it is now very common for Chinese families to get very rich and then blow all the wealth in less than a generation. (I guess such executions are ways of displaying a fleeting status too.) Maybe it's easier to start up again nearer the bottom and almost impossible to go high up.

Knucklehead said...

Rick,

Yeah... another of my pet peeves.

China's "state capitalism" has "worked" for all of, what, 2 or 3 decades? And along the way there have been significant riots, widespread corruption, a banking systems that makes the cronyism that so badly hurt Japanese and Koream banking systems a while back. But it will just keep on going, no hiccups, no problems, no huge internal strife or even a national breakup...

Brick wall indeed. The US is always on the verge of economic collapse or fascist takeover but the folks who don't know diddley about economies and are fascists are never under any danger.

Yeesh, I loathe idiots like Maurice.

Rick Ballard said...

I've been to a few slave factories in China. The system really does "work", it's just not capitalism. Both the Greeks and the Romans ran empires on slavery. For centuries.

I doubt that a unified China will make it more than a few more decades. So do they. Holding long US treasuries ain't a sign of strength.

dan said...

The "Middle Kingdom" is a small German-like country, though with much better food, in the middle of a large continent of many other countries that has risen and fallen and risen and fallen and risen and fallen many, many times. Almost all risings and fallings have not included the massive rock of its coast called Taiwan. Europe and its little French guy with the hand in his shirt or the one with the mustache and funny salute and all its other Caesars and emperor-bes and emperor-wannabes that have pranced and petered throughout its history have 'nuthin in terms of silliness and brutality, some spreading of enlightenment too--let's be fair, on the characters the continent that sooner rather than later will formerly be known as China has produced. (Though I do recall Kissinger making a statement a few years back, profound historian that he is and having just spent a week whoring and eating at the invitation of the present masters of that continent, that, to wit, "China" has basically been the same monolithic state for 2,000 years. Including Taiwan. Inner Mongolia too. No doubt outer Mongolia. Nepal. Manchuria and the Korean areas. Why, might as well throw in Vietnam, Okinawa and Japan too (surely Kyushuu). Must've been some good booze.) Anyway, the thing about "China" is that even more than Europe when one part goes for the empire ring it really goes. And the 20th century Mao riding on the beard of Marx/Lenin was a real successful go. (Much thanks to Kissinger/Nixon and other jackasses. Acheson. Anyway...) But just as "China" so to speak during the Mongolian period of empire indeed wasn't a t'ang at all, speaking in terms of a political entity and not some culture (because wars and politics and ruling ain't about forks or chopsticks, relative noodle diameters, and the hem in the dress), so it won't be again. The question is how many little pieces and how soon. For me, the more the better and the sooner the better. Go Mongolia! Manchuria! Nepal! Taiwan! Hong Kong (every continent needs a Switzerland) etc...What Rick said. Not a lot of optimism over there of late. Everyone's getting ready to get out of Dodge. I doubt the light will be gently turned off. Lots of booms most likely. History has ended. Minerva's Owl has flown the coop. My derriere. America on the other hand. Problems galore, but relatively speaking glorious problems to have. Nothing serious at all. Enjoy yourselves. And we hope you'll continue to help out now and then. (I.e. bring us no more Nixons and Clintons, please.)

truepeers said...

And we've got all these EUcrats saying look at China, our competition. We have to get big like them to survive. I'd like to see the Europeans, let alone the rest of us, trying to compete with 30-odd Taiwans.

loner said...

It's lonely at the top.

Rick Ballard said...

"A Chinese guy was explaining to me the other day that it is now very common for Chinese families to get very rich and then blow all the wealth in less than a generation."

True,

China instituted the one child policy in 1979. Seems like only yesterday, eh? The first Golden Princes are now 28 and beginning their ascent. I haven't a clue as to whether that is a factor in what you describe but it does illustrate that the next twenty years are very unlikely to be much like the past twenty.

Buddy Larsen said...

Dan, I thought your comment was most excellent--thanks!

Knucklehead said...

From the Wikepedia entry for the Vanderbilt Family:

Present-day economist John Kenneth Galbraith said that several generations of Vanderbilts showed both the talent for acquiring money and the dispensing of it in unmatched volume, adding that they dispensed their wealth for frequent and unparalleled self-gratification and very often did it with downright stupidity. Confirmation as to the validity of Galbraith's views is that only forty-eight years after the death of Cornelius Vanderbilt, one of his direct descendants died penniless. Within seventy years of his passing, the last of the ten great Vanderbilt Fifth Avenue mansions in New York City had been torn down.

This is not an uncommon phenomenon when it comes to vast financial holdings. What makes China somewhat different, as Rick so aptly points out, is that there's only one heir. If he blows the family dough, it's gone. At least some Vanderbilts hung on to some of it. Enough so that it is still a prominant family name.

BTW, should you ever have the opportunity, visit the Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site. In addition to being worthwhile in its own right it provides an excellent example of what it meant to be really wealthy rather than the comparative pittance pikers like Gates have.