October 01, 2023

Looking at the big picture

We look at things mostly through the lens of our own experiences. In our daily lives, it’s hard to concern ourselves with anything outside our own family, community and especially our own country.

Everyone is concerned about inflation because it affects everyone. We’re struggling to make our paychecks or Social Security checks stretch to pay for higher gas, food and interest rates. Every nation coming out of the pandemic is dealing with inflation, and in most other countries, their rates are far higher than ours.

We naturally focus on higher gas prices because we deal with it nearly every day. We compare today’s prices to a couple of years ago, forgetting gas was cheaper during the pandemic because the nation was shut down with COVID. With far less demand, production slowed. When the country began to reopen, the supply could not keep up with demand.

It would make sense to increase production but no one, including the president, can make companies produce more oil and give up their enormous profits just to make us happier.

Economists are warning inflation may eventually lapse into a recession, but some well-known financiers predict a down turn in the economy will be mild. Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan Chase, says, “Recession is not the most important thing we worry about. We can manage recession if it comes, but we worry far more about the geopolitics of the world today.”

Dimon insists international conflicts cause him to worry a lot more about national security, along with energy and food security. He says Russia’s war in Ukraine is seriously damaging relations among nations and is causing irreparable harm to everyone’s sense of security. He predicts this war in Ukraine will impact our lives far more than we may realize.

It’s unfortunate some Americans are now complaining more about the cost of the war, but even worse, some are supporting Russia instead of the free, independent nation they invaded. These pro-Russia enthusiasts evidently cannot see beyond their own politics to recognize the threat to world peace.

Dimon also sounds the alarm about Xi Jinping’s iron grip on China and how he has pushed more moderate officials out of his administration. Xi has been elected for the third time and doesn’t intend to relinquish power for a long time. With China under complete authoritarian rule, experiencing serious economic decline and making ever increasing threats about reclaiming Taiwan, hostilities between the U.S. and China are cause for a lot of concern.

Dimon emphasizes the need for the U.S. to have strong, experienced leaders, and warns against “an ugly-American kind of leadership, such as my way or the highway.” He also warns of the negative impact of social media, saying, “This is a world-wide problem that’s making it hard for governments to function.” He believes the hatred and ugliness on social media are badly undercutting initiatives to make the world a better place.

Those of us old enough to recall the days of communist dictators, Chairman Mae Zedong of China, and Joseph Stalin and Nikita Khruschev of the Soviet Union, understand what Dimon is getting at.

It was a time when the U.S. felt threatened by Russia and China’s communist regimes. All three super powers had produced nuclear weapons that scared everyone half to death. Every time a conflict arose anywhere in that part of the world, we reacted. We fought in Korea and Vietnam and lost many thousands of American troops because we feared Communism would spread to America.

Past involvement overseas in destructive and unresolved conflicts helps explain President Biden’s determination not to embroil our troops in the war in Ukraine, and justifies his commitment to getting our forces out of Afghanistan.

No one wants to return to such uncomfortable international tensions, but we are headed in that direction because Putin and Xi Jinping have no regard for their own people, or anyone else. Nations like Iran, North Korea and others aren’t helping the situation either.

With all this happening on the international scene, our political leaders, in addition to domestic issues, obviously must deal every day with serious world-wide problems that affect Americans.

We can be thankful we have smart, dedicated foreign-policy experts concentrating on the big picture, so the rest of us can worry about the price of gas.