The State of the Union, Just Another Reality Show

It looks just like a reality show that’s not going to be renewed for another season. President Obama’s State of the Union ratings are headed in the same direction as American Idol’s so far this season – down.

Let me make a secret confession right here. For years, the producer of my radio talk show and I would draw straws each January to see who would “have the high privilege and distinct honor” of watching the president’s State of the Union address.

Do I have to clarify that the loser had to watch?

In case the president said something important – which almost never happened – I felt an obligation to play some audio clips and talk about it on the show the next morning. But, personally, watching Republican and Democrat presidents recite their laundry list of promised giveaways for the year ahead was more than I could bear.

I learned early on that I could avoid all of the ovations and applause, save time, and still capture what substance there might have been in a written paragraph or two. Soon, I’ll give you such a written account, a perennial synopsis that will allow you to watch something else – like American Idol – and still have a handle on what the president says.

And you might even have time left over to keep an eye on the real news.

While We Were Watching…

The State of the Union is treated with utmost seriousness by the dominant news media. All four major TV networks and the cable news channels carry the event. My local newspaper devoted most of the front page and big chunks of the inside pages to its coverage: photos, accounts, sidebars, response, and analysis.

But it’s actually a spectacle that crowds out the real news. News about the impact American diplomacy is having on our future standard of living. News about the U.S. dollar’s reserve status winding down.

On the day of the State of the Union address, news flashed around the world – but not on your favorite network or in your morning paper – that India and Iran have agreed to end-run the U.S.-imposed sanctions on Iran.

They will use gold to do so.

Those [U.S.] sanctions, which have now been agreed to by the European Union as well, will ratchet up in July. Their enforcement means that banks and financial institutions involved in oil transactions with Iran will be barred from doing any business with financial institutions in the United States and Europe.

According DEBKAfile, a news source based in Israel, Iran has taken steps to bypass American and European banks and their currency desks altogether, agreeing instead to sell its oil to India for gold. China is expected to soon agree to use gold in buying oil from Iran as well. It’s a move that would leave the long-standing global dollar pricing of petroleum in tatters.

The gold-for-oil agreement means a three things:

1. It hastens the unwinding of the U.S. dollar’s global reserve currency status.

The rest of the world is actively developing alternatives to the U.S. dollar. Although it will mean a falling standard of living for the American people, U.S. policies and secretaries of state, like Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton, have spurred what will become a stampede away from the dollar. DEBKAfile also reports that both China and Russia have secret mechanisms already in place to pay Iran in non-dollar currencies for its oil. And only a month ago, China and Japan, the world’s second- and third-largest economies, agreed to develop direct yen/yuan trading, forgoing the dollar as the reserve currency intermediary.

2. It accelerates the global monetization of gold.

Both China and India have been aggressively adding to their gold reserves. Other countries are following suit. The Keynesians, who have been in charge of American monetary policy, having destroyed the value of the dollar and enabled our ruinous debt, may actually believe that gold is a “barbarous relic.” But it is clear that their opinions have little functional value in the real world. The world is turning to gold more and more as U.S. debt continues to mount. Indeed, is there a better alternative monetary unit to be found? Certainly, it’s not the euro. Jim Grant of Grant’s Interest Rate Observer says gold is the only answer to the question, “if not the dollar, then what?”

3. It reveals the growing global impotence of the U.S.

Long able to enforce reluctant countries to adhere in its missions and embargoes around the world, the U.S. is finding its will frustrated. Nations that once had to weigh the favor of the U.S. against their own commercial and domestic political interests are increasingly ignoring the global dictates of the U.S. State Department. In 2003, Turkey, where the prospect of a U.S. invasion of Iraq was wildly unpopular, refused even bribes to allow the U.S. to stage the invasion from its soil. Today, the threat of a U.S. or Israeli strike on Iran is meeting with growing disapproval, especially from countries like China and India which rely heavily on Iranian oil.

Routine. Tired. Repetitive.

It may be that the State of the Union’s falling ratings – Obama’s speech the other night was down 12 percent from the year before, and was down 21 percent from 2010 – are a sign that people in large numbers have discovered there are better sources of important news than network television and Washington’s lapdog press.

Or, even better, maybe they’ve had about enough of the Washington party.

Or, maybe it’s simply because it’s all so routine, so tired, so repetitive. Even American Idol, entering its 11th season, has more surprises than the State of the Union. Consider:

Obama, who clearly doesn’t understand anything about markets, offered to have the government interfere with the real estate market in brand new ways in 2012. What could be more predictable than some president announcing a scheme to screw up the real estate market again in the new year?

It’s so routine. So tired. So repetitive.

And while the contestants on American Idol are fresh every year, the promises that make up the State of the Union are just reruns, season after season.

Now, if you’d like to be free to pay attention to the real news that actually affects your freedom and prosperity, let me provide you the following short, beginning-to-end account of this year’s State of the Union. You’ll be able to refer to it year after year, so that while you’ll still be informed about the president’s address, you can skip the show and save yourself time.

Time to follow the real news. Or to watch American Idol.

“Thank you so much. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you.”

The president agreed to do something for (to?) homeowners. He also has decided to help teachers. And students. And women. Workers, too. The president wants to help workers, for sure. And jobs galore. The president is all about creating jobs in 2012. And more jobs in energy. Oh, they’ll be clean ones for sure!

Plus, he’s going to reform regulations so that regulators will be able to regulate better. And he wants to get a handle on the bureaucracy. And he wants to reform education. And both make government more effective and still grow the economy. Did he forget men and women in uniform? The president most certainly did not!

“Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.”


Charles Goyette


The Daily Reckoning