We took Penn_E to the vet today. She’s reached a milestone, essentially completely blind. She’s a happy, spoiled dog and so it’s difficult to believe or accept that she can hardly see. When she’s on familiar ground you might not notice. She bounced down stairs and jumped curbs flawlessly on the short walk to the vet’s office. She negotiates up-steps by lightly touching each with her nose then extending a paw up to the next one before she jumps. We don’t know how she manages down-steps or knows when to jump at a curb.
Our vet’s name is Haggai. He cures exotic animals for free and we understand he owns two mules. (Is there a need to say more?) In his office during our visit were a wounded pigeon, the off-duty Israeli soldier who had brought the bird to Haggai’s office, and the soldier’s mother. We talked. Mom made Aliyah about thirty-five years ago and married an Israeli. Her five children including her youngest son, the soldier, were born here. They spoke excellent English and their Hebrew sounded flawless. After the small-talk we moved on to local politics.
After not too long it became clear that the lady and her soldier son are solid examples of the often very caring and yet not entirely logical liberal left in Israel. Mom mentioned that she was “ecstatic” over Gilad‘s release. (Her son said he did not have an opinion about Gilad–which may be related to his being in the IDF.) Mom also mentioned that she wholly disagreed with the opinions of journalist Caroline Glick, a strong, right-leaning columnist for the Jerusalem Post. (I’ve found this Caroline Glick test to be the quickest way to determine an Israeli’s views. Everybody knows her and has strong feelings.) Like almost all Israelis, Mom was comforted by the strength and support of the US for Israel. Unlike most Israelis, she believed Barak Obama to be pro-Israel (but not very good at it).
Also, she understood the recent surge in the US dollar to be very encouraging; serving as reassurance, she said, that the US is and always will be the strongest force for good on the planet–a beacon of light to the world–and it will always support Israel.
We can hope. The dollar has strengthened recently but I’m not sure that Mom in the vet’s office should be quite so encouraged. But she’s not alone in her enthusiasm. A recent CNBC financial show kicked off with the headline, “King Dollar.” At the intro, an extremely happy host reported that the American dollar had gained strength against everything. “Up 11% against silver this week,” he announced, all glowing.
King Dollar! How exciting. Then I remembered King Cotton:
Cotton’s central place in the national economy and its international importance led Senator James Henry Hammond of South Carolina to make a famous boast in 1858:
Is it safe now to conclude that the concept, King Cotton, was an overstatement? Could that also apply to the recent euphoria regarding our dollar? Just how pleased should we be with it given its performance over the last century in buying power?
And should the dollar, rather than national debt, be the central figure in the US’s current economic drama? Can the world really count on the perpetual strength of America when she fails to take significant steps to control and reduce its overweening appetite for borrowing? While the debate, euphoria, concern and interest in the exchange rate seems to have taken center stage, the US Debt Clock keeps ticking while Israel and others watch the dollar rise and take hope. But at this writing debt per taxpayer in the US lay at $134,295, over $15 trillion, and total unfunded liabilities approached $117 trillion.
That’s a lot of King Dollars.