Saturday, February 05, 2005

Big Three Under Reported

Housing Inflation, Super power China and Terrorism.

Maybe this is a guy thing. Or an engineer thing. For me, newspapers, news programs and news blogs should be reporting on the big threats to our society. You report so we can fix them. From my reading of the Washington Post, Express and Examiner; from my listening to NPR, WTOP, WMAL and Air America; from watching limited amounts of TV/Cable News, three important stories are relegated below everyday political spin news.

Housing Inflation. I'm not convinced that there is a housing bubble, but I certainly know there is inflation of housing prices across the US and in Europe. In the 80's we saw the devastation that monetary inflation caused and then took action to tame it. When monetary inflation started there was little alarm but the impact hit and became the top concern for a long time. The Federal Reserve is still fearful of monetary inflation.

Housing has much more inertia than money. You spend money every day but only buy a house every eight years on average. So is taking much longer for people to personally experience this problem. And regrettably it will take much longer to find a solution and the impact will be felt for a long, long time.

While the impacts and disruption of housing inflation are wide spread, I'll just mention one. How can anyone's kids afford to live in the same suburban town they grew up in? And if young adults are not living in the suburbs, who works in the retail stores in the suburbs? Obviously this prompts many, many more questions. The impact is local, national and worldwide.

Super Power China. The US promotes free trade as the alternative to violent nationalism. This has been our policy since World War Two, though some may argue. Regardless, you think we'd prepare ourselves for the "next war" because it looks like we've won the free trade issue.

I use the term "next war" because when we think of super powers we think of nukes. But in the next war, the super powers are not competing with us on the battlefield but in the global marketplace. China has become the other economic force in the world. Look at how they influence the price of oil. Look at their trade balance with us. Look at the cost they will have to reclaim their environment. They are the other Super Power. Are we prepared?

Terrorism. Sure the war on terror is front page news, but that coverage is looking at it through Viet Nam glasses. Global or network terrorism is fighting in the "free trade" world. Targets are rarely battleships but rather economic infrastructure. John Robb's Global Guerrillas blog is excellent coverage on the subject. Surprising that his perspective is not also covered by the mainstream press. We need more reporters working on this.

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