And so are ours.
Abroad, it’s a sea of troubles as far as the eye can see. Powerful forces are amassing against peace on multiple fronts.
Russia under Vladimir Putin is continuing its war against Ukraine. In the United States, lawmakers are inching ever closer to escalating the conflict into a global conflagration, pushing Putin further and further with each passing week. They are forgetting, perhaps, that the choice to escalate doesn’t only lie with them.
Hopefully, Putin will be content with his usual method of nuclear saber-rattling in response, rather than resorting to something more drastic to dissuade Ukraine’s allies from taking an even greater hand in the conflict.
Meanwhile, an emboldened Iran is pushing the Middle East further and further into conflict. The 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the Iran nuclear deal negotiated during the Obama Administration, is shelved — at least for now. But the damage may have already been done.
United States allies in the Middle East, chief among them Saudi Arabia and Israel, were always against the JCPOA, arguing it gave Iran too much money to fund proxy wars and terror operations throughout the region and beyond. And so it proved in time.
ISIS has been routed — for the most part — but other equally powerful terrorist groups remain a regional threat that could easily spread.
So too threatens the looming conflict between Taiwan and China. The Chinese Communist Party has long promised to annex Taiwan, by force if necessary. The CCP has for over a decade been using information warfare strategies against the sovereign nation it considers part of its One China policy.
Election interference, intellectual capture, media manipulation, disinformation campaigns, economic sabotage, hacking; undermining Taiwan’s political parties, institutions, and sovereignty at every level: All these methods and more are being used to soften up Taiwan for a full-scale military attack.
Vladimir Putin did the same thing to Ukraine for over a decade before he invaded in February of 2022.
Recently, the CCP has been escalating aggression, violating Taiwan’s airspace and demonstrating China’s superior military strength and reach. When the CCP does move on Taiwan it is likely to disrupt world economies to such a degree as to make our current levels of inflation and supply chain issues seem like a walk in the park.
At home in the United States, even more trouble may be brewing for the Biden Administration.
“Dow surges after inflation cools more than expected,” reported CNN somewhat optimistically on December 13, 2022.
“November’s 7.1% annual rate means the typical American household needs to shell out $396 more per month to buy the same goods and services as they did a year before, according to Moody’s Analytics,” CNN admitted, somewhat less optimistically. “While that nearly $400 extra needed per month isn’t as bad as the $493 needed per month when inflation soared to 9.1% in June, the high prices are still wearing down Americans and their finances.”
“Inflation Cools to 7.1 Percent, but Still Has a Long Way to Fall,” agreed Reason later that day.
“Is a 2023 recession coming?” wondered USA TODAY this week. “Job growth likely to slow sharply, companies brace for impact.”
As far as a recession in 2023, all signs point to yes.
Low unemployment numbers are certainly nice, but unemployment is a classic lagging indicator. First, cash-strapped consumers stop spending. Next, companies lose money. Then, companies start trimming their workforces, as indeed is already happening. From the Washington Post’s offices in D.C. to the previously untouchable tech firms of Silicon Valley, layoffs are incoming, if they aren’t well underway already.
Major financial firms like BlackRock are already warning their clients to prepare for a drastic economic down-shift unlike anything they’ve witnessed before.
Working-class consumers are equally nervous, if not as well-advised. Already cash-strapped and saddled with more credit card debt than they had two years ago, or even last year, middle-class America is not ideally placed to withstand the economic woes that are starting to seem inevitable.
(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)