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1/27/16

USA: Trump and Palin: Is America Becoming an Oil Kleptocracy? - by Alexei Bayer

Oil-producing nations are a mess. Go down their full list – from A for Algeria, Argentina and Azerbaijan via I for Iraq and S for Saudi Arabia all the way down to V for Venezuela – and you’ll see economic and political basket cases.

Many of these oil-producing countries don’t need, or like, democracy. They are ruled by narcissistic authoritarians who distribute goodies, talk of national greatness and stuff their own pockets.

Muammar Gaddafi, Vladimir Putin and Hugo Chavez come to mind. Eccentric, quirky, self-indulgent and totally devoid of self-doubt, they like to hear themselves talk and are very entertaining. They’re performers, not policy wonks.

They are, in short, wizards of Oz, selling snake oil to their grateful populace. Eventually, they turn nasty, making mischief in the rest of the world and oppressing and robbing their own people.

Now, what does that have to do with the United States, an industrial giant and the world’s leader in technological innovation? Well, in recent years the United States did become the world’s largest producer of oil. Last year, it even started to export some of the stuff.

Of course, the United States has a huge diversified economy and its oil industry accounts only for a small portion of its GDP. It is still a major importer of oil.

Besides, oil is currently quite cheap. At least for now, you can’t live high on the hog by exporting it. All those oil kleptocracies that were rich and self-important are suddenly starting to pawn their family silver (if they have any).

And yet, the U.S. economy and U.S. society as a whole are sending forth dangerous signals. The United States has long been on a road to de-industrialization, sending manufacturing jobs to China, Mexico and other places.

The number of U.S. manufacturing jobs is down 15% from 2006 and it didn’t grow at all during 2015, which was otherwise a bumper year for jobs. Since 1985, the number of manufacturing jobs has dropped by 35%.

 Read more: Trump and Palin: Is America Becoming an Oil Kleptocracy? - The Globalist

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