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So, just this morning as we’re getting ready to go to press at Below the Line, a press release from the FTAC folks arrives in my in-box, as they describe themselves “left… somewhere between victory and defeat.”That’s the usual human condition, of course, but in this case, they’re referring to their previously reported attempt to get the Burbank City Council to go on record and support their resolution/petition in pursuing a “fair trade” remedy to the job flight issue, and thereby show support for a large chunk of Burbank’s economy, and a number of its workers, all at once.Last time out, they succeeded in getting the council to put the issue on their official agenda, and this time out—March 15, to be exact—the item came up for a vote. The yin/yang outcome? A 2-2 tie.This was because Vice Mayor Jef Vander Borght wasn’t around to cast the tiebreaker, so the issue will come up for a presumably definitive vote on April 26.The day before this press release showed up in the Union Roundup mailbox, the International Herald Tribune ran an article headlined “A Blend of Risks Makes Dollar’s Outlook Grim.”Written by Daniel Altman, the article notes that “since the start of March,” which means in the short time since the last UR appeared, “Bridgewater Associates, a manager of more than $100 billion of institutional and hedge-fund money based in Westport, Connecticut, has been issuing warnings in its daily reports. One on March 11, titled ‘The Breakdown of the Dollar System,’ said, ‘As we often say, we’ve seen this movie many times, and we know the ending.’” The ending isn’t a good one: It has to do with what the article terms the “volatile blend of risks surrounding the dollar,” which include, principally, George Bush’s willingness to expand the nation’s debt burden, to finance both his war and his tax breaks.These IOUs have been bought, in large part, by Asian central banks, all of whom have been sending out trial balloons lately about “decoupling” from the dollar, in terms of benchmark currencies they invest in. Which is to say: stronger currencies. Like maybe the Euro.“These ingredients,” Altman writes, “may just be waiting for the right catalyst. If enough people start thinking like those at Bridgewater Associates, the dollar will lose value rapidly. There is no point in buying dollars today, after all, if everyone thinks that they will be worth less in the near future.”The perception, in other words, will create the reality. Just like in movie-making!Also since the last UR, and further fueling the perception/reality of the dollar’s decline, were the words of no less a mega-capitalist than Warren Buffett, who, in his annual letter to shareholders in his Berkshire Hathaway investment company, warned that the buck was set for a fresh slump after he made 1.6 billion dollars betting against the dollar’s strength, in the last four months of the year.While claiming that “in no way does our thinking about currencies rest on doubts about America,” Buffett warned that with so much of its debt owned by other countries, the US was on its way to becoming a “sharecropper society.”Sharecropper society. Let that one sink in for a moment. Buffett then observed that “the evidence grows that our trade policies will put unremitting pressure on the dollar for many years to come.”For many years to come!What happens, then, if all the jobs we’re seeking to “bring back home” are paid in weak dollars, in an environment of creeping inflation? What if health care continues to be “too expensive” to provide to workers, forcing them—regardless of previous settlements—to foot the bill for group policies themselves?But perhaps the film business has a strong hand to play when/if the dollar collapses, since all those “foreign goods”—and pretty much everything, except perhaps produce grown in the San Joaquin valley is a “foreign good” these days—will cost a lot more, and people might be wondering why we so easily gave up “making stuff” here in the U.S. Well, it was “too expensive,” remember? Like filming here.However, since the film industry is robust enough that a lot of production still happens domestically, below-the-line—and above-the-line—workers will be some of the few actually involved in making a tangible product still made in the USA.Film industry workers could serve as role models, essentially, for a “domestic manufacturing” resurgence, a resurgence that will become necessary if Buffet, The Herald Tribune, and Bridgewater Associates, are anywhere close to being right.This same morning, there was also a report by MSNBC’s National Affairs writer, Tom Curry, that the Democrats—never ones to understand the words “opposition party” in even the remotest sense—were actually testing the foreign “debt threat” as a campaign issue:“‘The shocking thing is that of the debt we went out and borrowed last year, almost all of it was borrowed from foreign sources,’” said Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., at a recent Senate Budget Committee hearing,” Curry reported.That’s a little like Claude Raines being shocked at the gambling going on in Rick’s Place, but still, better late than never for Nelson, who is up for re-election next year. Other Democrats sent up trial balloons as well.Which brings up the question of whether groups like FTAC are best served by accumulating city council endorsements, or whether they should find creative ways to insert themselves into this dialog about America’s economic destiny at a higher, and dare we say, more media-responsive level?

Written by Mark London Williams

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