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Thread: US economic power

  1. #1
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    Default US economic power

    I love this map from strangemaps--it replaces the names of US states with those of countries with similar GDPs, and in so doing highlights the continuing extent of US economic power.

    The Iranian threat? Think Alabama.

    "Oil rich Saudi Arabia?" Think Tennessee.



    (A more recent World bank ranking of GNI can be found here.)

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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Obviously inaccurate, Rex. Thibodeaux and Boudreaux doan liv in no Indoneeesia.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default And I am not going to

    go to a Kimchi based diet...

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    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Lightbulb aww

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    go to a Kimchi based diet...
    Come on, it has its benefits

    Fresh breath just wouldin be one of em
    Any man can destroy that which is around him, The rare man is he who can find beauty even in the darkest hours

    Cogitationis poenam nemo patitur

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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Default

    Then again, California and France does make a good match...

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    Actually, as a University of Calgary graduate, I was quite happy we got Texas

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    As a native Coloradan, can't complain too much about Finland.

    Hmm, why no North Korea?

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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rex Brynen View Post
    Actually, as a University of Calgary graduate, I was quite happy we got Texas
    Well as a native Texan and an Aggie I were glad we got u...

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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Such graphics are entertaining for some people, but awfully pointless.

    To compare economic 'power' by using exchange rates is incredibly useless. Purchasing power parity needs to be used for useful information, but it is afaik never being used for such comparisons.

    And now some gross, not so entertaining graphics:





    The list could go on...

    Most (almost 80%) of the U.S. economy is just services that don't really constitute economic 'power'.
    PR China's industry is already superior to the U.S. industry (EU's industry is greater as well).

    Just in case anybody doubts it; the graphics source was wiki, the industry figures were from CIA World Factbook.
    Last edited by Fuchs; 07-29-2008 at 08:17 PM.

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    Default ?

    Fuchs, how exactly does the service sector not constitute economic power?

    And I'm not sure what the point is of demonstrating the US is not at the top of steel or shipbuilding since they are only two sectors.

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    i pwnd ur ooda loop selil's Avatar
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    Apples, oranges, a clue? Fuchs you can take any comparison, redefine it after the discussion has began, constrict the evidence to only what supports your case, and even go as far as suggesting the original poster was wrong. That doesn't make it right. The term I believe is sophistry.
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    Council Member Adam L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    Then again, California and France does make a good match...
    I always found it funny how its always people from California who go on and on about how they have the best wine in the world, and yet they are always ordering high end French wines. Now they can honestly say they order California wine. Personally, I think they are both too damn expensive. Why spend $75 dollars on a bottle of wine that may not even last the meal, when you could drink get descent wine for 12-20 (there are some very nice Chilean and New Zealand wines for less than 15, or you can get great Pinot Grigio for 20) have 55 bucks left over and get yourself a good Scotch that will last you a while. In the end, liquor is a lot more economical than wine. LOL!

    Quote Originally Posted by Rex Brynen View Post
    Actually, as a University of Calgary graduate, I was quite happy we got Texas
    Of course you would get Texas. Half the engineers, chemists, etc. are already in Alberta! LOL! Still, too many Albertans do not understand that it might be dangerous to their health tho call a Texan a "Yankee."

    Adam L
    Last edited by Adam L; 07-29-2008 at 09:40 PM.

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    i pwnd ur ooda loop selil's Avatar
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    Well Texas is like a whole nother country...
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    Council Member Adam L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Entropy View Post
    Fuchs, how exactly does the service sector not constitute economic power?

    And I'm not sure what the point is of demonstrating the US is not at the top of steel or shipbuilding since they are only two sectors.
    Although I am not sure if Fuchs statistics are the most relevant, he is correct. Service based industries are not significant when it comes to economic power. Also, this "service based" economy we are building (personally, I think we already have it) is a bad idea, and more dangerous to US national security than almost any other threat. Our economic stability and strength should be dealt with more tactically. Today, we barely can call ourselves an industrial nation. We have spent the last 30 years sending our industry overseas. We used to be #1 in steel production.

    Quote Originally Posted by selil View Post
    Apples, oranges, a clue? Fuchs you can take any comparison, redefine it after the discussion has began, constrict the evidence to only what supports your case, and even go as far as suggesting the original poster was wrong. That doesn't make it right. The term I believe is sophistry.
    It's only sophistry if he redefines the terms to unreasonably and excludes evidence that is relevant. His arguments are legitimate, and it is your job, if you disagree with him, to defend what he is claiming to be incorrect or flawed. His argument does not become sophistry just because you feel it to be incorrect. To call what he has argued sophistry, would be to call any form of argumentation such.

    Although I would not have structured my argument the way Fuchs has, nor used the same statistics, I do have to say he has a legitimate point.


    Adam L
    Last edited by Adam L; 07-29-2008 at 10:15 PM.

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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Entropy View Post
    Fuchs, how exactly does the service sector not constitute economic power?

    And I'm not sure what the point is of demonstrating the US is not at the top of steel or shipbuilding since they are only two sectors.
    Money is mostly an illusion, and even the purchasing power parity concept fails to make services really comparable. A haircut for an Indian costs a couple of cents, a haircut for an U.S.American several dollars. Even if the hair studio and service were perfectly identical - the price would still be different even in ppp terms.

    Another problem is that services are in large part a substitution for informal activity. A haircut would be made by family members in most countries, for example. Such activity counts for nothing in statistics, but it is still valuable.
    Typical household activities like cleaning can be done formally or informally - in the latter case it means nothing for GDP statistics.

    Third; services are only in a very small part available for export. Services - unlike industrial/agricultural value added - is quite unimportant in interaction with other nations. Even in the financial sector it's rather the willingness to postpone consumption and lend away money instead of the associated services that weigh heavily. Services-borne value added does usually not constitute influence beyond the borders.

    Finally; this is a pretty much a military/national security related forum. I saw the topic in this context.
    Services are almost irrelevant as base for military power. You can't get a rifle from an UPS driver, you cannot sell his services to other nations in exchange for their rifle - but an industry worker can make a rifle for you.
    Some services have relevance (like harbour service, railway, airports) - but the bottlenecks count, an abundance of harbour services doesn't help much if only a fraction of their capacity is relevant.

    The U.S. economy is like a canoe with two rowers and eight steersmen (the German one is like 30%/70%).
    It's misleading to compare its 'power' in terms of full crew instead of just rowers. Other teams don't have ten men in their canoe, but a much higher share of rowers (PRC like 3/3).

    The shipbuilding graphic (more modern data is even more extreme; check the wikipedia entry on shipbuilding) - is relevant because mankind has never experienced that a naval power kept its superiority on the seas in face of a challenger who had a greater shipbuilding capacity. Much less a shipbuilding capacity that's stronger by more than an order of magnitude.
    Last edited by Fuchs; 07-29-2008 at 10:18 PM.

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    All I can say if those map folks think Alabama is like Iran....they need to review their employee drug testing policy

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default I think your position applies to the west

    in general, the US is just a little larger. Penalty of a 'post-industrial' society the Academics keep telling us is the way to go...

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    ...Services are almost irrelevant as base for military power. You can't get a rifle from an UPS driver, you cannot sell his services to other nations in exchange for their rifle - but an industry worker can make a rifle for you.
    Well, you can in the US -- most of them have a couple of rifles at home...
    The U.S. economy is like a canoe with two rowers and eight steersmen...
    There's more truth in that statement than you realize. I agree with it as you meant it but it's also true in the sense that there are too many steersmen trying to make decisions -- ending up with no one in charge all too often...
    The shipbuilding graphic (more modern data is even more extreme; (it) is relevant because mankind has never experienced that a naval power kept its superiority on the seas in face of a challenger who had a greater shipbuilding capacity. Much less a shipbuilding capacity that's stronger by more than an order of magnitude.
    Mankind has never experienced many things that are now occurring. The world is in the early throes of major change; too early to tell how it will fall out. A lot of historical paradigms are going to be laid to rest -- many won't, it's true but we don't know yet which will and which will not...

    Thus, your comments are all correct -- but I'm not sure they prove what you think they prove.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    You can't get a rifle from an UPS driver, you cannot sell his services to other nations in exchange for their rifle - but an industry worker can make a rifle for you.
    Given that UPS runs a global logistical system superior to that of every other military in the world (save one), I'm not sure that knowledge embedded in the system is entirely irrelevant from an aggregate national power perspective.

    Then again, since the DHL courier who (almost) delivered the Harry Potter touque that my daughter ordered today had the wrong customs COD and tried to charge me an $82 clearance fee for motorcycle parts instead, and then finally was told by his dispatcher to bring it all back again so they could sort it out (leaving my daughter HP touqueless), I perhaps shouldn't be singing the praises of the courier industry...

    PPP adjusted GNI data is useful if you are looking at, for example, the ability of a state to acquire assets that are priced and available locally (say, raw military manpower). They are irrelevant for other purposes (buying F-16s from the US).

    More generally, I don't think the odds of the US fighting a multi-year war in which long-term rifle (or ship) production becomes a deciding issue are significant at present. I think there is even less chance of such a war where the US so loses control of sea lanes and allies that it is unable to buy raw and semi-processed materials for major trading partners. (This would be of rather more concern to me if I was, say, China, and had relatively limited bluewater navy.)
    Last edited by Rex Brynen; 07-29-2008 at 11:23 PM.

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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Actually, I think they prove that we (in the West) should stop considering our nations as being what they once were.
    Too many people don't understand that we are in decline in several aspects even though we are in rise in others. Instead, many people seem to believe that the 'power' ratios in the Western world are just like the were decades ago (plus China's industrial rise).

    How many people would believe that the South Korean shipbuilding industry has many dozen times the capacity of the U.S. one, or that Poland's and Croatia's shipbuilding industries are larger as well? It's likely easier to find people who still consider the extreme U.S. shipbuilding effort of WW2 as an indicator of national power.

    Most Western nations/economies would have trouble to mobilize and equip as many soldiers as they did in WW2. The million men armies would have almost no uniforms. Most of the textile industry is gone, after all!
    On the other hand: Even the present, relatively weak steel industries are still much more capable than they were in WW2 (and the steel is better).

    And Ken; wasn't it you who - just a couple of days ago - wrote in the context of technological changes that you don't trust "everything changes" attitudes?

  20. #20
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default I think there's a context issue.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    ...And Ken; wasn't it you who - just a couple of days ago - wrote in the context of technological changes that you don't trust "everything changes" attitudes?
    Minor changes in technology do not necessarily change operational techniques and practices; sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. IIRC, that discussion was on the increased lethality of munitions -- a change that I believe has had only a minor effect on warfare.

    Changes in the human condition, OTOH, will wreak even more technological change which may obviate current changes -- and techniques.
    Actually, I think they prove that we (in the West) should stop considering our nations as being what they once were. Too many people don't understand that we are in decline in several aspects even though we are in rise in others. Instead, many people seem to believe that the 'power' ratios in the Western world are just like the were decades ago (plus China's industrial rise).
    I agree that too many do so. I do not however believe most do so.
    How many people would believe that the South Korean shipbuilding industry has many dozen times the capacity of the U.S. one, or that Poland's and Croatia's shipbuilding industries are larger as well? It's likely easier to find people who still consider the extreme U.S. shipbuilding effort of WW2 as an indicator of national power.
    Why would they not believe it, it's true -- the US Shipbuilding industry is very much aware of it. Part of this discussion lies in the realm of the never ending quality versus quantity argument which there's little sense in going into that here. On the WW II shipbuilding effort, the real issue is the pre war level versus the 1944 level; most of that effort was built from scratch. Could it be again? Probably. Will it need to be? Not soon.
    Most Western nations/economies would have trouble to mobilize and equip as many soldiers as they did in WW2. The million men armies would have almost no uniforms. Most of the textile industry is gone, after all!
    On the other hand: Even the present, relatively weak steel industries are still much more capable than they were in WW2 (and the steel is better).
    Somehow, I have this idea that a lack of textiles will not be a major problem in future war...

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