Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Car Wars

Imagine your teenage son and his cheerleader girlfriend hopping into his brand new jazzy sports scar for its maiden spin. OK, I know this merely reinforces the Palos Verdes stereotype of indulgent parents and spoiled kids. But, hey, the kid is an honor student who will be attending Stanford U. in the fall. Anyway, the car enters the 405 freeway and carefully moves across toward the HOV speed lane. Suddenly the unimaginable happens: the throttle opens wide, the engine revs into the red zone, the brakes cease to function and the steering wheel locks tight. A disaster is imminent.

This is merely the opening scene of Chris Malburg’s new techno-thriller, “Car Wars: A Novel of Industrial Terrorism.” (Get it at
http://www.carwarsebook.com/ or at Amazon.com). My friend and PVE neighbor, Chris is a noted business writer who is trying his hand at fiction. And his new book is a fun read, especially on a Kindle at RAT Beach. Without giving away the plot, let me just say that there are plenty of villains in the book, among them Yonggan Zhanshi, ruthless industrialist in control of a devastating weapon of mass destruction, the head of the Chinese National Bank and the honorable President of the PRC.

In a memorable scene the Chinese President reads the riot act to the American president. Here is an excerpt:

...The Chinese President frowned at his American counterpart. “America is bankrupt,” he began. “Morally as well as economically. I can do nothing about the former, but I can do something about your economics. I am your banker. I am now calling in the money I have lent to you. From this moment on, you work for me.” The Chinese President paused for a few seconds to let the shock of what he had just said fully sink in.

“America’s Social Security, its Medicare and Medicaid and its unfunded pension liabilities created by the powerful labor unions now comes to 93 percent of your gross domestic product. There is no more money left to pay for anything else. And so you rely on China, Japan and the UK to buy your Treasury debt to fund your cash needs. No more!
“Your baby-boom generation is now retired. This large portion of your former workforce no longer pays taxes, but they do suck down your government’s benefits like hogs on a teet. Had you raised taxes to pay for all this years ago and reduced spending, things might have been different--”

“I have been in consultation with my fellow holders of US debt. The IMF is calling the temporary line of credit it granted the United States. You have 30 days to repay the $100 billion you borrowed. Additionally, China demands that the US immediately repay $500 billion in Treasury securities coming due in the next 60 days. Not only will China not lend you the $300 billion you have come here to borrow, but my country will no longer be in attendance at your Treasury auctions.”

The Chinese President stopped his pacing in front of his counterpart, turned and looked him in the eye. “This financial hiatus China is taking from America does not have to be permanent. If the US puts its financial house in order and affords China one other courtesy, I may elect to resume doing business on a limited scale.”

The American President sat very still in his chair. He rejoiced that there might yet be a way out of this financial morass. “Yes, Mr. President? What kinds of house cleaning tasks do you have in mind?”

The Chinese President’s knife-edged hand slashed the air, making his first point. “America will limit the coverage of Medicare and Medicaid--no more expensive treatments. Either your people will pay for them on their own or they will do without.” The hand slashed the air a second time, “Next, no health insurance subsidies. You will explain to your greedy, unemployed nation of welfare recipients that healthcare is not a right of citizenship but instead, a personal responsibility.”

“Next,” continued the Chinese President, “You will eliminate all nonessential governmental expenses. You will begin with farming subsidies, ethanol production, public broadcasting, energy conservation and trade promotion.” The knife-edged hand slashed the air yet a third time, “You will go to a flat tax system where everyone--every single American citizen--pays taxes equivalent to 18 percent on the income they earn. You will eliminate all deductions and tax credits. You will also increase the gasoline tax to $2 a gallon. You will balance your federal budget.”

The US President raised his hand for permission to speak. “That’s a lot to take in. Are you finished, Mr. President?”

“I will tell you when I am finished...

Good stuff that. I had no idea that the PRC President was a Republican. In fact some of his action items could be taken straight from Newt Gingrich’s new 21st Century Contract with America.


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