IT Employment

IT and politics: Do they mix?

Is it better to keep your work life and your political views separate? Or are political races so important that it's your duty to risk disapproval and take a stand?

It seems as if politics permeate every area of our lives today, much more so than was the case in the past. You can blame (or credit) that to the sharply divided nature of our current demographics, the 24/7 deluge of "news" propagated by cable TV and online sources, or just a more interested and involved populace. Whatever the reasons, our political ideologies are no longer expressed just in the voting booth, but spill over into our work and social lives. Those of us who work in IT and socialize online are not exceptions.

Once upon a time, it seemed most geeks were pretty apolitical. We were too busy writing code or fiddling with hardware or trying out the latest and greatest programs to notice who was president or what laws Congress was passing. You didn't know whether the guy or girl in the next cubicle (or on the other end of the modem connection) was Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Green, Independent or none of the above. And more important, you didn't really care.

Today, for better or worse, many folks wear their political labels on their sleeves. Whether they're pro- or anti-abortion, advocates for gun rights or animal rights, in favor of lower taxes or bigger government, they actively attempt to recruit others to their causes. They even choose their friends based on political compatibility. Many folks get very emotional about their political choices. And it's not just individuals, but entire companies that are taking sides.

Election fever

In the U.S., the political debate tends to get more heated every fourth year, during the presidential race. However, this year's mid-term elections have the major parties out in force, and of course, every year is an election year at some level. Local political battles, while not always partisan, can be just as effective at dividing people into hardened camps.

With campaign ads all over the airways, campaign signs littering the roadways, and campaign "news" taking up so many of the headlines, it's difficult for those in the IT world to remain in a techie bubble and ignore the issues being discussed. But mixing politics with work can be dangerous. If you exercise your right to free political speech on company time, you risk alienating people you have to work with on a daily basis. If the boss knows that you support a party, candidate or issue that he/she hates, will that (consciously or subconsciously) influence your job evaluation and chances for raises or promotions?

Even if you keep mum about your political preferences when you're at the office, political differences can still sour your work relationships if you splatter your political preferences all over your Facebook page or tweet about political issues.

Company politics

If you work for a large corporation, it's enough of a challenge to navigate the waters of internal politics. But when the company gets involved in national, state and local political races, it can make for some discomfiting situations. Some large technology companies donate money to candidates of all political persuasions. For example, according to OpenSecrets.org, in the past year AT&T has given money to Democrats, Republicans and Independents and the party split for 2010 was pretty even between the two major parties (http://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/summary.php?id=D000000076) .

Microsoft also gives a substantial amount to each party, but in 2008 trended heavily toward the Democratic side (http://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/summary.php?id=D000000115).

In the 2004 elections, many news sources reported that 98% of Google's campaign contributions went to Democrats (http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/technology/2005-02-13-google-give-usat_x.htm).

In fact, when you look at the computer software industry as a whole, the party split was close to even in the 1990s, but has moved further to the left over the years, with about twice as much money going to Democrats as to Republicans in the 2008 elections (http://www.opensecrets.org/industries/indus.php?ind=C5120).

What do those trends mean for employees? If you work for a company that gives heavily to a particular political party, will you feel pressured to support that party as well - or at least to keep your political views quiet if you don't?  Would you be less likely to join in when political issues are discussed around the water cooler or in company online forums? Would you be less likely to do things such as putting a candidate's political sign in your yard or openly working for a candidate or cause in your off-duty time if you knew you were on the opposite side of the fence from the company's upper management?

What about my rights?

Many of today's workers are very concerned about "rights" and it's an important issue. Nobody wants to feel like an indentured servant, and today's work world is much more cognizant of individual rights than in the past. Freedom of speech is a right that's guaranteed to citizens of the U.S. by the first amendment to the Constitution - but many citizens don't really understand what that means.

The Constitution prohibits government from making laws that restrict you from speaking your mind - although there are exceptions that have been found to be constitutionally permitted, as such threats, hate speech and speech that creates a dangerous situation (e.g., yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater). In other words, you have the freedom to express your views without fear of being charged with a crime. That doesn't necessarily mean speaking out won't have other repercussions.

In the U.S., most state laws recognize the "employment at will" doctrine, a legal concept that says an employer can fire an employee for any reason at all or no reason at all - unless there is a statutory exception. Exceptions include termination because of a protected status, such as race or gender, as well as such things as firing an employee for filing a worker's compensation claim or for refusing to break the law. A few states offer more protections. Note that if you work under an employment contract, that contract can specify other terms, such as that you may only be fired for good cause for the duration of the contract. For more about employment at will, see http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/article-30022.html

Legally, then, your employer may have the right to fire you for sounding off about your political causes, whether on or off company time. But even if you're not in danger of losing your job for it, taking a strong political stand can make the working environment uncomfortable - for you, and for those with whom you work. Is it worth it? Some feel so strongly about issues or candidates that they think it is. That's a decision that's ultimately up to each of us as individuals. It's important to remember that if you have the right to express your political views at work, others have the right to express their conflicting views - or to simply avoid you. And that just because you have a right to do something, that doesn't mean it's a wise thing to do. One of the biggest mistakes that people make is to assume that just because you like a person, that person must surely agree with you on political positions that, to you, seem so obviously correct. Many great friendships and working relationships have been spoiled by such assumptions.

What do you think? Is it better to keep your work life and your political views separate? Or are political races so important that it's your duty to risk disapproval and take a stand? Is the IT world more insulated from politics than some other fields? Do public campaign contributions or political stances by your company make you uncomfortable - or proud? Do you ever feel pressured by the company to support (or at least not publicly oppose) a political cause, candidate or issue? Have you ever experienced repercussions at work because of your political views?

About

Debra Littlejohn Shinder, MCSE, MVP is a technology consultant, trainer, and writer who has authored a number of books on computer operating systems, networking, and security. Deb is a tech editor, developmental editor, and contributor to over 20 add...

61 comments
watchaboy
watchaboy

although some variance between IT and Politics, but it's clear that they both require a mathematical thinking process. That is being calculative. In general terms, no dull mind does IT or Politics, the most important factor is address each at it's own period that is keeping them apart at all times. (avoid conflicts) -rasheed

jmarkovic32
jmarkovic32

Look at the geography of most of the big tech companies: California and Washington. These are two bleeding-heart liberal states. I'm surprised Toni didn't mention Apple. Jobs is a big lefty just like the trendy trust-fund college know-it-alls that buy Apple toys.

schmidtd
schmidtd

Politics certainly do get the blood pumping in some people, but it is worth pointing out that if you can be fired for nearly anything, the true list of dangerous topics includes nearly everything by definition! In fact, I am pretty sure plenty of people gain an inside track by tactfully expressing opinions similar to their superiors! So if you want to be completely self interested and don't need to true to yourself, limited talking about politics correctly can factually help you. (Toni is probably already giving you the benefit of doubt that you wouldn't really do this ;-) ) My advice, everything in moderation and keep your eyes open as to what is acceptable and isn't at your company. Ranting on any subject will get you canned, modestly expressing beliefs typically won't. You may learn that where you work certain topics will be verboten (fairly or not) but then I guess you need to decide if you want to work there long term. Strangely I don't find a lot of comments about why managers should watch their tongues, after all you want the best employees in your company. As a manager, like it or not, you have a strong impact on those around you and it is your responsibility to get everyone to work together, much less inflict your beliefs on your staff.

zentross
zentross

An integral part of any organization is going to be politics regardless of internal or government basis. Interdepartmental negotiations breed trust and cooperation for a smoothly functioning operation. Government passes laws that can affect the nature of our work as well as potential for job growth. In order to capitalize on the effects of those changes in legislature, one can not afford to remain ignorant of the event. Similarly, ignorance of new laws could open up avenues of attack in the forms of privacy, reporting, company data archives, etc... In terms of personality and conflict between members of political parties, I think that political affiliation should not be grounds for dismissal. Unfortunately, as with any other protected status, if they no longer desire you there for whatever reason, a policy or 'out' will be found and used regardless. Speaking from a viewpoint of diversity, having a base of representatives from each political party should give a company an in-house temperature of the political climate and how public opinion may be swayed on upcoming legislature. This in turn could help with strategic planning for new products or services as well as budget planning since some laws have a direct impact on income through taxes and tariffs.

yattwood
yattwood

My political philosophy is taken from Treebeard the Ent in JRR Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy: 'I am not altogether on anyone's side, because no one is altogether on my side' I respectfully listen, as much as possible, to all opinions; one thing that saddens me is the sheer hate and ad hominem attacks on most blogs, these days, committed by BOTH SIDES.....

yadavshashi
yadavshashi

In the democracy we have freedom to choose, freedom this is the fundament of democracy. In this male dominant society sometime it has been seen that within a family husband and wife can have different opinion and they back two different political parties, but that does not give husband the right to influence his wife decision. He should respect her decision. Therefore no matter what management choose they have no right to influence their employees. And I think one should take a stand against that.

v r
v r

Not in my experience. When a political view is expressed by one person, others seem compelled to respond, either in sympathy or opposition. When politics are discussed, it is not usually a simple, short exchange as it would be if the discussion surrounded opinions about the best color for an office chair. It usually is continued later in the day, the week, the month, etc. taking valuable thought time from the work at hand. I knew of a talented developer who solved problems well and got along with other developers until he decided that his political opinions were the only correct ones. While the quality of his work did not appear to suffer, the respect from his manager and coworkers did, even though some of the coworkers agreed with his opinions. As a hiring manager, if I had the opportunity to hire him, I would not. He is far too disruptive. IMHO Advice: Keep political opinions to yourself. Express them in the voting booth. If you are asked for your opinion, simply reply that you would prefer not to say.

JamesRL
JamesRL

Work and politics.... I've had a few jobs where my political acument was a requirement;working for a member of Parliament, a polling firm, for political candidates and for a political party. But for the most part in the corporate world, I don't wear it on my sleeve. I may reveal my previous affiliations but I don't do it until I've created a level of trust with a co-worker. And most importantly, I try not to let it get in the way of the job. I wouldn't tell someone how to vote. I don't always agree with every decision or every party leader, so people know I'm not a rabid party follower. I even hired a political activist from another party (he was the best qualified candidate and he did a great job). I've used IT in politics as far back as 1982 when I worked at a polling firm. I think you have to be able to separate your political feelings with your work life at times. At one time when I was a freelancer, a friend of mine with political ties on the left got me a few jobs writing fundraising letters for left leaning political causes. I had to eat, and they would send out the letters no matter what so I thought I might as well do a good job on them. I would never recruit on the job for a political cause.

IT
IT

I'm afraid your bias is showing. While there are some significant 'left-leaning' high tech firms, the vast majority of folks in IT work for companies that aren't, and the vast majority of those firms are heavily Republican in their donation patterns. For 2010 it's even more lopsided, excepting of course, that companies can cloak to whom they give by donating to "non-party" action committees. While it's a reasonable observation to mention that the software industry may be leaning to the left, the vast majority of American business is leaning to the right, and based on the current year, extremely right, and a few stray examples of 'left-leaning' companies distorts the overall picture, particularly when the info you use is 2-4 years old, and may not be relevant anymore (the change in approach towards 'net-neutrality? by Google, for example, may have moved their donations to the right). In any case, it?s not central to your point that politics in the workplace is dangerous?other than to create the impression that supposedly left-leaning companies are more likely to penalize folks who are openly lean to the right? I have to say, my experience is the opposite: people who lean to the left have to be far more circumspect in the office than those on the right in order not to endanger their promotion opportunities.

newonp
newonp

both are "systems"...

larry.roberts
larry.roberts

The only thing that SHOULD mix with politics is 'jail time'. There, I said it.

kevaburg
kevaburg

....the two subjects you should never talk about over a beer is religion and politics. It seems to me this phrase in all its wisdom could be altered to read "the two subjects you should never talk about in the workplace are religion and politics". It isn't just politics that can have an adverse effect on working conditions. Too many factors in modern life affect our chances in the workplace and politics is only one of them. IT involves knowledge sharing on different levels and because of this, the politics change appropriately. The problem is that in IT, the politics have to be predicted in order to move forward. It is a vicious circle because the phrase "knowledge is power" counts with both politics and IT in equal measure.

DPeek
DPeek

'One should never discuss religion or politics in mixed company.' When did this maxim expire? I've never found talking too much to be of great benefit. If youre doing anything in the workplace that isnt benefitting your career... shouldnt you rethink it just on GP?

AV .
AV .

I once worked for a large pharma company and one day, our IT director called us into a meeting and told us that we need to vote Republican in the next election (this was back in the early '90s), or it was likely budgets would be cut and people would be laid off. There was actually a lot of pressure to do that and I really resented that they tried to influence my vote. The Dems (Clinton) got in and shortly thereafter, I was laid off. Today, I try to stay clear of politics at work. It can get very out of hand. AV

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

are power and money. They're inseperable. IT is power (albeit it limited). IT and politics mix. etu

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

Well seeing as California and Washington are both states with MASSIVE SHIPPING PORTS on teh Pacific ocean, of COURSE that's where the high tech sectors are. You miss though that so are Florida, NewYork, and MANY of the Southern and central states too. Nice TRY anyway, but there is a lot of high tech manufacturing in Colorado, Wisconsin, the Dakotas, Alabama, Arkasas etc. too. They supply your military electronics, oil & gas technology, medical devices etc.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

I head it too, never discuss religion and politics with friends. Personally, as nobody wants to discuss politics here and religion is becoming less and less important to people, they are two topics that are easily ignored. The only politics Canadians discuss is when something major is happening, usually in another country. Bush and Iraq, England's latest pickle etc. Canadian politics will clear a room fast, talk about boring, predictable and uninteresting. Our left and right are not really extreme opposites, so while they are still a bit different, the change doesn't create the same stir it does in the US, for example. most of our TV stations are from the US with a few from the UK, so we are flooded with US politics from all over the States, mixed with Canadian news reporting on US politics, UK views of US politics etc. So talking about politics is just not cool, it doesn't attract anyone's attention and simply makes you the drag in the room.

zentross
zentross

Knowledge in and of itself provides no power until applied appropriately. Applied knowledge = power

Ed Woychowsky
Ed Woychowsky

The weirdest conversation that I ever had about politics over a beer was that the communists were taking over the United States. As proof the speaker named a number of beers that had RED on their labels. It was a very surreal conversation and put me off to conspiracy theories.

bytor_tp
bytor_tp

Polictics needs IT. IT = information and it is key for distribution. IT does not need polictics. IT, in its purist form, cares not of politics. IT at its core is binary, it either is or is not. Politics is niether...

jmarkovic32
jmarkovic32

...I'm not surprised, that usually happens when you argue from emotion. My point was that the companies she listed ass donating mostly to Democrats are all from geographic areas that are heavily Democrat. So it may be more of an issue of political geography than a company philosophy.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

It is a common saying but doesn't ring true too often. Just look at people in power and the sheer lack of knowledge they offer. People in such powerful places usually rely on the knowledge of others. Even in SMB markets, rarely does the owner and multimillionaire have the knowledge of his employees.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

The formerly rabidly anti-communist Republican party used to hate anything "red". Now, they keep saying we need to turn more states "red". What's up with that?

kevaburg
kevaburg

I have just had to explain why I laughed out loud while at work and reading your post! It reminds me of a guy I spoke to while drinking in Seattle who was convinced every currency in the world revolved around the Dollar!

zentross
zentross

Information feeds decision making and IT collects, distills, and formats the data. They need IT. Individuals need to be aware of the political environment in order to navigate people and laws effectively. We in IT could do with less politics in order to approach the complex issues of our tasks in a clean, efficient manner. This, however, is a Utopian dream since management has an agenda, some co-workers have an agenda, and politicians are always going to find a way to muck things up for some group.

Michael Jay
Michael Jay

IT is digital. Politics is analog. Do they mix? I really do not know.

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

was about 'mixing', not 'needing' or 'caring'.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

Why would I be emotional over such issues? Perhaps you simply don't know what you are talking about. The point that you TRIED to make was not the point that you made, so don't chalk it up to my emotional response, consider it your own inability to convey your true meaning. "Most of the Big Tech Companies Are In Liberal Cesspools" Cesspool: "A filthy, disgusting, or morally corrupt place." Do tell. Now that is YOU speaking purely from emotion and not reality. Many are in democratic states but many are not, thus your point of relation is moot, it doesn't show the pattern you think it does. All fish swim, that doesn't mean that everything that swims is a fish. Toni's point that AT&T, MS, Google and others are democratic supporters is fine, their geographic location may effect them in the sense that they are more in touch with global trade, benefit from global alliance and are more globally reliant than some other companies. In that same sense, some of America's largest electronics manufacturers are in Red states and rely on the military to stay afloat. They also QUIETLY use Chinese and Taiwanese products in their manufacturing processes and cut out US companies in the process, they just don't take about it as it would tarnish their red reputation. So are they in turn living in Conservative cesspools? It is about livelihood, not what the neighbours support. If I am fed by European and Asian trade, I am more likely to have a broader global mindset and acceptance/understanding of world trade and world alliance. If I am fed by the US military, of course I will be a right wing supporter and be pro war. "Go kill and make me more money" The only geographic reality is with regards to trade.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

its pretty variable and not really a standard

zentross
zentross

While what you say is true, there are varying types of power (influence, knowledge, and money being the core of them). Those with influence AND money will control those who only have knowledge. Those with knowledge are going to be useful and maintain a position of power only so long as that knowledge is not readily accessible from another source.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

Now you just need to tie in area 51, the Easter Bunny and Santa, add a sprinkling of Jesus and a little Scientology to top it off and you have a great conspiracy conversation.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

Have you counted your Asian population yet? I wouldn't be at all surprised if the Yen became the official currency of Richmond BC soon.

kevaburg
kevaburg

No, no, no! I'm an ex-pat living in Germany! British born and bred, an Englishman through-and-through!

kevaburg
kevaburg

most Germans and Brits such as myself do still think in terms of the DM. Mainly to compare the differences between the two with regards to how much more expensive things seem to be since the change. There are even rumours on the horizon that if the Euro doesn't improve, of going back. But nothing could be further from the truth about the DM hving gone from the imagination. In our minds it is still the currency (and the identity) of Germany.

adornoe
adornoe

Most of your post was not even worth responding to since if dealt mostly in hypotheticals and with a lot of re-writing, by you, of history. If others follow, trillions invested in US property will be pulled out and reinvested into the European economy, the tides COULD change but may not. That's a lot of wishful thinking on your part. And, on the part of those other countries that want to give the appearance that the dollar is weakening and that the Euro is strengthening in relation to the dollar. While the Euro is strong, it is not going to replace the dollar any time soon as the standard. Not when the Euro is backed up by a very weak European economy and a very fractured "united" group of countries. When the European community is based mostly on socialist principles, which always lead to weakened economies and even dead economies. Socialism has never worked, even it at times it seems to be producing results. But, in the long-run, any economy based on socialism will nosedive and it has to start over. Never has there been a country that was successful with socialism as its economic system. It takes time, but in the end, all socialism eventually fails because it's not a self-sustaining system. Now, the middle-east countries and the petro-countries may resent and even hate the U.S., but doing things out of anger and out of resentment, is not conducive to good economic results.

adornoe
adornoe

at my my previous posts? You can address me directly. You shouldn't fear "talking" at me. Kevaburg, your point made. What point did he really have? I don't think many TR peers could have enforced your point more solid than the adornoe just did. Yet, you fail to explain how I "made his point. "I don't see or hear Americans going about tooting their own horns and bragging, like you seem to believe. That is my statement, and I stand by it. Most people aren't even aware of any "perceived" superiority. They just have time to go about their lives, working and enjoying it as much as they can. They dont' even care about monetary policy or international trade. Most people here in America don't care how they get their jobs, and they don't worry their little butts off about international competition as far as trade or currency policies are concerned. I do. Of course you don't notice it! That is a statement of your own and not based on fact. The only "fact" in that silly statement is that, it's your opinion and does not speak for most Americans. Spoken like someone who is very ignorant about how Americans think and go about their lives. Again, that is my statement and I stand by it. It doesn't matter that you don't like it and feel that you just have to contradict it. Spoken like someone with vision, who is looking in from the outside. Vision? An external vision? Look, if you're not aware of how Americans think, your "vision" is no more than an uninformed opinion. Get it?!?! Your disgust with anything American is boundless. Hey, that too is another statement of mine. You're very good at quoting me. But, I guess you're learning from my own tactics. However, I noticed that you didn't have a problem with that particular statement. So, I'll go on. There again, when it comes to the military, the U.S. is the standard by which all other armed forces are judged. That has been the case ever since the U.S. emerged with the strongest armed forces after WWII. To try to detract from the facts just shows a lack of good judgment and a lack of being able to deal with reality. Look, feelings and disgust should not get in the way of taking note of the realities around you. You go and quote a long series of statements and all you come up with as a retort is: Key point AFTER What the heck are you trying to say? Apparently, you didn't really have a good response to my statements. Look, when you don't really have anything to say, the best thing to do is to say nothing at all, otherwise, people will notice that you aren't really making a coherent and informed argument at all. And no, the world does not judge it's armed forces based on the US at all. In denial much? Your forces are not wanted in most conflicts, What cave did you just emerge from? nobody wants to fight alongside Americans these days, Yet, the U.S. is the first country any other country looks to when it comes to needing military aid, be it for arms, or for actual military intervention. You should go back to that cave you came from because your posts are very uninformed or in denial. they say it is just too dangerous to be around them, even as allies. Yep, I've heard some of that. But, when it comes to the actual need for U.S. involvement, there will always be those "leaders" who will verbally and publicly attack the U.S., but in the background, they're making deals to get that U.S. assistance and intervention. What happens in the news and on TV is oftentimes meant as appeasement of those who hold a view that the U.S. is the enemy. Also, when it comes to the battlefield, and when a conflict cannot be avoided, there won't be a combatant from any other country who would not welcome American assistance in the form of troops on the ground, or with air support or naval support. You sound like the typical foreigner who doesn't have a clue about American ideals and our desire to help, even if those we seek to help have a negative perception about Americans. Your forces suffered tremendous casualties in Iraq while requesting assistance from Canada's Coyote recon teams. I doubt that we would turn down any help from any of our allies. But, sometimes, the help being sought is meant to create the perception that, we do have allies willing to join us in a conflict. There is no doubt that we could've handled the Iraq and Afghanistan wars without Canadian help, but, we needed to show that it wasn't just Americans carrying the fight. However, I'm pretty sure that any kind of help is always appreciated. America, alone, is not the force that they think they are. Nobody is claiming that. But, we are still the most powerful military the world has ever known. That might not sit well with our enemies, nor with those that seem to resent America for being the most powerful at anything. But, the facts are what they are, and being resentful and hateful of our success, is not going to change the way things are. The US military still bases MANY of it's maneuvers and strategies on what they learned from the British forces. That's irrelevant. Heck, we learned a lot from the Vietnamese and from a lot of other countries. That still doesn't change the fact that we are the country that anybody in need comes to for aid, be it military, economic, disaster assistance, or anything else. As an example, which country is always the first to offer assistance for disasters, and which country always ends up being the most generous. And, to boot, we don't require repayment. That's benevolence beyond compare. You may resent those facts, but it's what America and Americans are all about. try going outside for once, No, you try being a realist for once. Being in denial and wishing for what isn't, is not going to change how things really are. the world is HUGE and extends well beyond your back fence. So, according to your handicapped way of thinking, one must travel the world in order to understand what is really happening? Get a clue. And you don't even know where and when I've been, especially when I myself have been to war in foreign countries as an American combatant. Being simple-minded and making generic statements about others is not going to win you any arguments. Most Americans have not traveled overseas, and some have not even left their state of residence. But, when it comes to being informed and understanding what happens around the world, we have the information we need in order to make good judgments and good decisions. Not everybody needs to be a traveling diplomat in order to understand what's happening in other parts of the world. BTW, another thing that we in America are still good at is, knowing how to read and where to get the information and news we need. Now, not everybody is well-informed, and, even those who are well-informed might be clueless about certain issues. But, for the most part, we know what we need to know, and we don't need a foreigner telling us that, we should go and understand them before making any decisions or judgments. We've moved beyond the world of the telegraph and we now know a lot more about foreigners than foreigners know about us. It seems to me that it is you that needs to drop your misconceptions and you need to get a lot more understanding of what Americans are about and why we do what we do. And, hey, I'm not going to require that you visit us in order to understand us.

adornoe
adornoe

and for the moment, the dollar is strong as compared to most other major currencies. Please explain what a strong dollar is, and how you feel the USD is the strongest, in order to justify your claims. I don't have to justify "my claims". The truth speaks for itself and anybody that would deny why a currency becomes "the standard" is just in denial of how things work. The U.S. dollar is for now the strongest currency based upon the U.S. still having the strongest economy around. That doesn't preclude any other currency also being strong, such as the Euro, but the Euro is a relative newcomer and the economies which depend upon it or use it, are now going through an economic downturn which is actually much worse than that of the U.S. When the French and the Greeks and Portugal are having as much trouble as reported on a daily basis, then it would be foolish for anyone to use that Euro as a standard because, it may not even survive an economic upheaval in the Eurosphere. Both the Euro and the Pound have greater monetary value than the USD, surely you are claiming otherwise. The relative value is of no consequence. The standard is set via a stable set of circumstances, including a strong economy and trade policies which encourage all partners in trade to prosper, and a country which is not about to collapse because of internal upheavals/conflicts. I'm not saying that all countries in Europe or elsewhere are about to collapse, but when any of the component countries are in such unstable straits, such as France and Greece and Portugal and others, then no one is going to use their currency as a standard. the Euro may be the standard for the region, and it might even used by certain interests as their standard for international trade, but for the most part, the standard for now is the dollar. Now, there may be some countries, mostly through their leadership, who would want to dump the dollar, but, those countries might be doing so as a protest against the U.S. and as method to try vilify the U.S. in regards to all other areas that the U.S. is involved in international relations. There are countries who regard the U.S. as the enemy, so, they'll try hard to use other currencies as their trade standard in order to try to do harm to U.S. interests in their areas, such as the middle-east, and around the world. That kind of decision is not based on sound business and trade policy but on anger and vicious attempts to try to diminish U.S. interests and influence. Now, when it comes to the dollar being the standard, I personally don't care. In fact, I don't care what the standard is as long as it's a stable and strong currency, and one that's not going to disappear anytime soon, and it has to be one with a long track record.

DelbertPGH
DelbertPGH

In Germany, do people still think in terms of the DM? I thought it was gone from the imagination, replaced by the Euro.

DelbertPGH
DelbertPGH

The Euro's economy is about the size of the United States', but the US has advantages that make it the one currency against which all others are tested. The U.S. has the world's largest economy and central bank by far; has a financial system that makes it easy to move money and make investments; has an enormous quantity of money and bonds in circulation; has a record of trustworthiness as an economic partner; and is the currency that institutions are accustomed to using in their big-money and international dealings. The U.S. is in decline, but it still has the world's first currency. ** Since the early 20th century, the U.S. has had the largest economy in the world, and following World War 2, it had the west's only surviving large economy. (England's survived, but was nearly bankrupt, due to the money it owed the U.S.) It has a history of running the world's money supply. ** Since government bonds are a form of money, it's important that the U.S. has more bonds than any other country. ** U.S. cash and bonds are held as foreign reserves to give central banks around the world the appearance of financial solidity. They hold Euros, too, but not nearly as many. To be a primary reserve currency takes lots of money in circulation, and only the U.S. dollar and Euro are available in that quantity. But USD is the traditional reserve currency of the last 60 years. ** The U.S. has a single, unified government and people. The European Union is a club of sovereign states, whose members could turn on each other, renounce agreements, or secede. People feel the U.S. is a better long-term bet than the E.U. ** The U.S. has the largest, most liquid financial markets in the world. You can easily turn your USD into bonds, stock, or futures, or use them to collateralize deals with banks. Only England has a market that challenges the size of a U.S. market, but that is for currency only. More foreign exchange deals are made in London than anywhere else, and that is the power of tradition. London has been the world's FX capital for 150 years. ** The U.S. military, which you noted, is available to defend U.S. economic interests. It is not a financial factor in itself, but its strength makes everyone feel that U.S. investments are more secure. ** Oil contracts, and many other international contracts, are denominated in dollars. This is another example of trust and tradition. One last thing to remember: the British Pound was the world's supreme currency, up until World War 2. Then, the U.S. used Lend Lease to bankrupt its weaker, smaller ally, and steal its export markets, and destroy the exclusive trade agreements that kept most business in the British Commonwealth tied to the Pound. Our downfall is coming, too. We are getting financially weaker and keep running trade deficits every year. Some day we will be knocked down, just like the British. Wait.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

Please explain what a strong dollar is, and how you feel the USD is the strongest, in order to justify your claims. Both the Euro and the Pound have greater monetary value than the USD, surely you are claiming otherwise.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

I don't think many TR peers could have enforced your point more solid than the adornoe just did. [i]"I don't see or hear Americans going about tooting their own horns and bragging, like you seem to believe.[/i] I do. Of course you don't notice it! [i]Spoken like someone who is very ignorant about how Americans think and go about their lives. [/i] Spoken like someone with vision, who is looking in from the outside. [i]Your disgust with anything American is boundless. There again, when it comes to the military, the U.S. is the standard by which all other armed forces are judged. That has been the case ever since the U.S. emerged with the strongest armed forces after WWII. To try to detract from the facts just shows a lack of good judgment and a lack of being able to deal with reality. Look, feelings and disgust should not get in the way of taking note of the realities around you. [/i] Key point [b]AFTER[/b] And no, the world does not judge it's armed forces based on the US at all. Your forces are not wanted in most conflicts, nobody wants to fight alongside Americans these days, they say it is just too dangerous to be around them, even as allies. Your forces suffered tremendous casualties in Iraq while requesting assistance from Canada's Coyote recon teams. America, alone, is not the force that they think they are. The US military still bases MANY of it's maneuvers and strategies on what they learned from the British forces. try going outside for once, the world is HUGE and extends well beyond your back fence.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

I know and couldn't agree more: [i]"There is an unfortunate mentality in many Americans that would suggest they believe they are superior in every way. I beg to differ and I wish the US would finally see that for themselves.[/i] However, if people around the world say such things, they are just jealous because they really want to live in America. Or so I have been told here for years now. This also doesn't change the fact that the US dollar is the key trading currency that all other currencies are measured against. Wiki or Google 'Petrodollar' to see how it applies. [i]Unfortunately, in a country that finds it difficult to see how any other country could survive without it, it is also natural to think in somewhat abstract circles.[/i] :D Apparently, I am the only one who thinks that. [i]The US has, albeit a strong economy, has still been a victim of the global recession. [/i] Actually they are hit the hardest. We've all but recovered in the sense of jobs, income etc., though still walking softly of course. Funny, to bring up an old issue, but so many Americans have told me (being British) that if it wasn't for them, I'd be speaking German. However the Battle for Britain ended years before the Allied invasion ever steppe don French soil. I'd say, in the same broad respect, that if it wasn't for England, Americans could very well be speaking German today too. Britain was the last standing democracy in Europe, Japan had all but conquered the Pacific. If the Nazi regime had conquered England, and thus all of Western Europe, including the Royal Navy, the US would have had an attack by Japan and Germany from both shores. As Hitler was also setting up to conquer south America, they would have had it coming from all directions, as would Canada being part of the British Commonwealth at that time too. At the time Pearl Harbour was attacked, America had one of the smallest an weakest military's around, behind countries like Romania. Because they were not constantly attacked on their own shores, they were able to rebuild with an army of barely trained recruits that succeeded, despite many losses, in Guadalcanal. They were being beaten to hell on their Altantic coast though, with U-Boats taking out thousands of ships carrying arms, fuel etc to Europe. It was no cakewalk for America or any allied or axis power, at all. I think the arrogance related to WWII is completely unfounded, nobody walked in and kicked anyone's a$$, millions of men died on both sides, it was no walk in the park for anyone, as many today seem to cockily imply. Sorry to run off topic so I understand you are German and don't intend to offend you or to make this any more than a mere example of how sheer global ignorance feeds much of the US arrogance in such cases. the US propaganda machine made everyone "at home" feel safe and secure, as if it was easy and they were winning all along, of course we all know that was far from truth, but may have been necessary to keep up support, just as it was with Iraq. There are MANY Americans who see reality for what it is, they understand that America isn't the be all and end all of the world and not everyone wants to live there. generally they are Americans who are well traveled and have seen the dim light America is vied in and how others are completely free and content in their lives. We've recently even had a big issue here over Americans seeking refugee status in Canada too. Such hard economic times should be humbling, though there are still many who just don't get it, I think. As I am the one on TR that is constantly labelled as Anti-American, I think you may have gotten the wrong impression from my last post. I am not saying they rule world currency at all, in fact my first impression was that it was a joke. But if he was speakign with respect to the PetroDollar, it IS actually the key currency that world currency is measured against as it is the currency used for oil trade. Again though, I think that doesn't take into consideration that several Middle Eastern countries, including Iran, now trade in the "Eurodollar" instead due to the constantly weakening USD over the last few years. If others follow, trillions invested in US property will be pulled out and reinvested into the European economy, the tides COULD change but may not.

adornoe
adornoe

And so the controversy begins.... Unnecessarily, some things can be made out to be controversial. Mostly, controversies are formed from negatives feelings against realities that people wished weren't true. It might be a currency standard but no more so than the British pound against a given currency. That does not mean that the dollar (or the GBP) is the currency against which all other currencies revolve. For world trade, the dollar is still the standard, no matter how many other currencies there are, or which one a country prefers, or which one they want to compare to, or what negative feelings there are towards a particular currency. The dollar being the standard is a reality which many wish weren't true. Trading in currency was not invented by the US and neither was international trading. Irrelevant and a strawman argument. Before the dollar there were other standards and nobody was arguing that point. The point is now that, the dollar is the "current" standard. The argument introduced by your statement is irrelevant and meant to divert from the reality which you apparently hate. In fact, if indeed the US Dollar IS the currency around which all others revolve, the US would have the single most stable currency in the world today. But it isn't. No currency will ever be stable, and that's another irrelevant argument. Stability for a currency is impossible given the myriad of issues relating to the American economy and to inflationary factors within the U.S. and around the world. It is nothing more than a datum around which people compare changes, albeit an international trading datum. Well, who the heck was arguing any different? I'll state it again: the current currency standard around the world is the "$". That is a statement of fact, even if some don't like it. I for example (as do alot of Germans) compare the Deutschmark to the Euro, or the GBP to the Euro. While I was working in Norway, the comparison was between the Krone and the GBP/Euro. That's still irrelevant and a strawman argument. Though those may be facts concerning the European currencies, the fact remains that the dollar is the international standard. Now, which one of those European currencies are used for conducting international trade? Is it the Deutschmark or the Krone? The point is that, for now, the standard is the dollar, no matter how much you or anyone else hates it. The US has, albeit a strong economy, has still been a victim of the global recession. Correction: the U.S. had a strong economy. Although, when compared to all the other economies around the world, it is still the strongest. When it comes to the "global recession", it is true that, when all economies have become interdependent, what affects one, affects most others. Thus, if the U.S. economy sneezes, the rest of the world's economies will catch a cold. That, again, points at how it is the U.S. that is the leader in economic growth/slowdown, and thus, it's dollar is, by extension, the standard currency. The fact it has been affected as much as any other currency is proof on its own that it is not necessarily the pivotal point around which everything else rotates. Try as you might, you can't change the facts on the ground. You're arguments fail to show balance when you don't consider the "relativism" of the conditions which affect all economies equally. Thus, if economy A suffers a slowdown, and economy B is affected likewise, economy A, because it started out as the strongest, might still be the strongest, no matter how it was affected by the slowdown. Thus, the slowdown might not have had any effect on the relative strengths of the economies. Thus, if the strongest economy still ended up as the strongest after a global decline, it's currency, if it was the standard, might rightfully still remain the standard. It is not independent of any other currency and is just as liable to fluctuate as any other currency. That's still an irrelevant argument and you're putting it up as just something to justify your dislike for the standard being the dollar. If all currencies fluctuate, and all survive a global recession, and the strongest at the beginning is still the strongest at the end, then, by default, it will remain the standard. That's simple logic and not dependent on feelings. Hate it or not, standards are determined by the facts on the ground. Unfortunately, in a country that finds it difficult to see how any other country could survive without it, it is also natural to think in somewhat abstract circles. You sound like a foreigner with a chip on his shoulder. I myself don't care what the standard is as long as it reflects strength and sane policy. But, just attacking a currency because you might have negative feelings against the currency or the country from which it comes, is, basically, an argument born out of feelings rather than from rationality. Just because the US has books, does not mean the US is master of all things book. That's silly and irrelevant and a strawman argument. Books don't set standards and they're not used for trading. Just because the US has a military, does not mean it is the master of all things military (the threat of overwhelming force does not count) Your disgust with anything American is boundless. There again, when it comes to the military, the U.S. is the standard by which all other armed forces are judged. That has been the case ever since the U.S. emerged with the strongest armed forces after WWII. To try to detract from the facts just shows a lack of good judgment and a lack of being able to deal with reality. Look, feelings and disgust should not get in the way of taking note of the realities around you. and just because the US has an economy does not mean that every other economy/currency depends on it. That's not the point. The point is that, with what is still, relatively speaking, the strongest economy anywhere, that most other currencies are pegged against the U.S. dollar. BTW, the U.S. doesn't just "have an economy", it has the "strongest and largest economy". There is a big difference, you know. There is an unfortunate mentality in many Americans that would suggest they believe they are superior in every way. That is your view of how Americans view themselves, but it's not the reality on the ground. I don't see or hear Americans going about tooting their own horns and bragging, like you seem to believe. People are mostly worried about their own lives and the welfare of their families. In fact, most people in the U.S. probably don't even know or understand about currencies and trade and relative values of those currencies, and many of them probably don't even know that the dollar is the de-facto currency for international trade. So, your argument holds no water and is simply one formulated from disgust of anything American. I beg to differ and I wish the US would finally see that for themselves. Spoken like someone who is very ignorant about how Americans think and go about their lives. Look, you don't have to like anything "American", and I wouldn't care one way or the other. But, allowing your feelings get in the way of sound judgment is not going to change the facts on the ground. I myself don't take any pride in the dollar being the standard for trade. It's just the reality born from the need for a standard, and by default, with the U.S. being the strongest economy around, the dollar is it. Now, I am proud that we here in the U.S. do "still" have a strong economy, but that's not a source for feelings of superiority. It's just a fact that resulted from many economic decisions made in the past. It just so happens that, the formulas for creating a strong economy where what produced the strongest economy around. However (and you're going to like this part), with creeping socialism and with the out-of-control spending, and with more intrusive regulations, with more government control over the lives of Americans, it's just a matter of time before the American economy is not the strongest around, and we'll end up just like Greece or France or Cuba or Venezuela. For you, that time probably can't come soon enough. But, be careful what you wish for, because, without the U.S. being the "stabilizing" force that it has been for the last 60-70 years, economically and militarily, the world, including whatever your country is, might be a lot worse off. Standards don't matter. Considering reality is a much better way of analyzing the world around you.

kevaburg
kevaburg

It might be a currency standard but no more so than the British pound against a given currency. That does not mean that the dollar (or the GBP) is the currency against which all other currencies revolve. Trading in currency was not invented by the US and neither was international trading. In fact, if indeed the US Dollar IS the currency around which all others revolve, the US would have the single most stable currency in the world today. But it isn't. It is nothing more than a datum around which people compare changes, albeit an international trading datum. I for example (as do alot of Germans) compare the Deutschmark to the Euro, or the GBP to the Euro. While I was working in Norway, the comparison was between the Krone and the GBP/Euro. The US has, albeit a strong economy, has still been a victim of the global recession. The fact it has been affected as much as any other currency is proof on its own that it is not necessarily the pivotal point around which everything else rotates. It is not independent of any other currency and is just as liable to fluctuate as any other currency. Unfortunately, in a country that finds it difficult to see how any other country could survive without it, it is also natural to think in somewhat abstract circles. Just because the US has books, does not mean the US is master of all things book. Just because the US has a military, does not mean it is the master of all things military (the threat of overwhelming force does not count) and just because the US has an economy does not mean that every other economy/currency depends on it. There is an unfortunate mentality in many Americans that would suggest they believe they are superior in every way. I beg to differ and I wish the US would finally see that for themselves.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

the petrodollar is the main trading currency as it is used to buy oil. The Middle East owns MASSIVE chunks of US territory due to them investing in US dollars, for now. Several countries, Iran for example, have since started to trade in Eurodollars and if the US dollar continues to tank, other Middle Eastern companies will retract their TRILLIONS in US investments (further sinking the US economy) and will also take up trading in Eurodollars. Just better hope that doesn't happen, I don't think you can cough up the kinda dough they'd want back and you'd have a whole LOT of Middle Eastern immigrants in a hurry.

JamesRL
JamesRL

As battered as it is, it is still the standard other currencies compare to. For many countries, Canada included, it is the currency that has the biggest impact on our economy. Some day it may be China, but its still US $$ at the moment.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

Didn't the Romans trade in an equivalent to US dollars before the US was even discovered? Huh, learn something new even when you weren't trying. EDIT:sorry I misread it to mean EVOLVED form the dollar. In actuality the PetroDollar is the current measuring stick, with the Euro working in with each new country in the Middle East that chooses to trade in Euros.