Friday, October 31, 2008

Big Toxic Stupid

I’m not voting for bigger banks, bigger insurance companies, bigger mergers, bigger debts, bigger tax cuts, bigger numbers, bigger capitalism, big, big, big, big, big... ever, ever ever again!

I’m voting for community and for sustainability.   I'm voting for "provincial" values.  I'm voting for the 1800s, with broadband.  My new catch-phrase is “buy local.”

Because the way America lives today is fundamentally and demonstrably wrong - it's environmentally, socially, economically and utterly discredited.

And exporting America's big, toxic and stupid model, at gunpoint or debt-point, to the rest of the world is a recipe for the very same disaster and collapse we see today.  And I no longer wish to vote for this - for any of it!

I want to change my way of life: smaller; better; sustainable.

I don’t fear China. I don’t fear Iran. I don’t fear anyone “coming after me” when my country already has enough weapons to blow up the planet ten times over. 

I fear only big, toxic and stupid.  I fear they have won!  I fear this insanity only stops at Armageddon.

I see now that Ronald Reagan was a dimwit.  I see now that America (and the world) would arguably be better off today if we'd listened to what Jimmy Carter said in his so-called “malaise” speech in 1979.

Corruption, inefficiency, arrogance, stupidity and a fake "empire" too much supported by consumption and debt was our problem then.  But instead of fixing it, since Reagan, we watched it metastasize like a cancer.

Now the only option is big surgery, big change and a smaller, sustainable way of life.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Gap

Hey, I'm in the top ten percent!

And I live in a big, old, stone house in Montana and my wife and I hold hundreds of thousands in our accounts -- at least in a broker's computer somewhere...

And no matter which selfish, petty, individualistic issue bothers me at this very moment, I find I'm just so very PROUD of myself! 

After all...

I'm a Gunslinger! 

I'm a Rock Star! 

I'm John Fucking Wayne, American!

But then I ask myself, "Gee, Todd, but isn't that the real problem here?"  Now that the whole of human existence has been reduced to competition, score-keeping and consumption -- or at least insuring I posses the means to consume, perpetually.  Maybe that's how we became broken?  Maybe that's why we (collectively) can't fix big problems any more?  Maybe that's why our world is unable to achieve or sustain real, existential human progress?

And then I remember the lyrics from an old Steely Dan song...
I heard it was you.
Talking about a world where all is free.
It just couldn't be.
And only a fool would say that!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

An Argument for Trial and Possible Execution of Financial Terrorists

Wall Street solution

If the evil, greedy, Wall Street and Washington terrorists that wrecked America committed mass suicide, by jumping out corner office windows or imbibing cyanide-laced Kool Aid, Jonestown style, it would not be enough! 

Not enough to put a floor under stocks.  Never enough to counter the destruction of the lives and life savings of millions, perhaps a billion, investors.

Thus, the only real solution, to re-instill confidence in America's legal and financial system, is to file charges, hold trials, and if legally warranted, stage death penalty executions for anyone responsible for perpetrating acts of war and terrorism against the United States!

In short, I simply do not understand the common argument that, under current statutes, no crimes were committed leading to the 2008 financial crisis ?!  That no depth of knowing or negligent greed or incompetence can be construed as criminal in this matter?!

And even if I believed that argument was reasonable, I would simply posit the following scenario:  Imagine if the actions of the Al Queda terrorists responsible for 911 had not been technically illegal under U.S. law at that time?  Surely our government , our country and we as a people would have rendered their acts illegal, retroactively, using new or reinterpreted laws.

Thus what I am proposing is merely a legal shift or reinterpretation similar to that of U.S. torture policy under John Yoo.  Because such despicable acts as these -- of greed, theft, torture, perhaps even murder against U.S. citizens constitute Acts of War!  And punishing individuals responsible for ultimately hostile actions leading to the destruction of the U.S. financial system and the loss of American lives is perfectly legal under The War Powers Act.

Today, there are various and sundry bankers, politicians, lobbyists and enablers free in the United States.  But rather than allow them to collect and spend hundreds of millions in severance pay and contract bonuses, our government arguably has a responsibility to hold them legally responsible for the wave of terror and death they perpetrated.

After all, our present financial and human catastrophe is no less damaging to the United States of America than if its perpetrators had exploded a nuclear bomb on Wall Street! 

Surely intelligent, elite and educated financial experts knew they were creating a financial house of cards.  Emails and conversations released anecdotally imply this.  As far back as 2003, Warren Buffet labeled the $60 Trillion in derivatives as "weapons of financial mass destruction."  Today, results argue they simply didn't care.  That they took billions in profits and left America and the world to face the consequences of this disaster.

Now lives have been lost.  Families have been ruined.  Retirements have been canceled.  And the future of the U.S. economic system has been destabilized and rendered unknowable, perhaps even unthinkable.  In a time of war, or any time, such acts, engaged in knowingly or negligently, are crimes punishable under the U.S. Constitution.

Thus, why are there no trials or tribunals?  Why is legal and military redress to seemingly seditious acts of war and terrorism not being pursued?

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Shining City Upon a Hill

I see our present, consumption induced, crisis as yet another symptom of economic disparity in this country, where wage earners are bombarded, virtually 24x7, with images of thin, rich, beautiful, charming and successful people – the “upper”, the “successful”, the “American Dream” class.

In other words, our consumer centric economy, through advertising and media in general, trains its lens primarily at the top of the capitalist pyramid, then replays those images to exploit the lower classes, inspiring meaningless consumption in a fallacious quest for “wealth,” as seen on TV, in magazines and real life.

When, instead, we consumers could do better by ourselves and our system by simply admitting that the very nature of “capitalism” requires a rigid class hierarchy. 

Unfortunately, it seems the necessity to accept this hierarchy has been forestalled in post World War II generations by the myth of an American Dream which presupposes a lie over capitalist reality – of boundless and unlimited opportunity – available to anyone willing to assume ever higher risk in reaching for it.

Thus the underlying problem, leading to our present economic crisis/collapse of over-lending and over-borrowing – i.e. of over-risk – is that a majority of Americans have not yet resolved basic emotional and class conflicts inherent in their economic system, instead substituting a “Dream” to fill the void.  But unless these conflicts are resolved, then over-reach and over-risk are destined to recur as consumer underlings resume their statistically improbable quest to get, or at least to feel, rich!

Traditionally, our churches have at least fostered class acceptance – e.g. “render unto Caesar…” and “be in the world, but not of the world”, etc.  But in America today, the “Dream” has displaced religious based class humility, leading directly to a confused, chaotic and arguably collapsing version of capitalism.

Thus, our “crisis” highlights a critical need – for a vast majority of Americans to stop deluding themselves and ultimately to choose between the Capitalism outside their front doors (and stability) or the fake American Dream (and its inevitable overreaching collapse) throbbing inside their heads. 

It’s really a Hobson's choice, however, as it seems historically obvious that we are incapable of a degree of love and egalitarianism necessary to implement any alternative, arguably more highly evolved, humanistic system, of the kind espoused by thought leaders like Marx, Voltaire, Rousseau, Rimbaud, Pound, et al.

Thus my simple advice for my country is this:  Let’s get to the business of accepting the limitations of ourselves and our dominant economic system.  Because the false hope of American Dream consumerism has become a too destructive religion leading to excessive risk and economic instability.

Because let's face it, after thirty years of Ronald Reagan’s trickle down, dimwit optimist capitalism, our “shining city upon a hill” is owned by one percent of us.  The rest of us just work there.

So it's time for America to either vote to change that – or at least get used to it.  Because the present culturally-divided, lowest-common-denominator, "American Dream" consumer limbo is wrecking a fairly decent country!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

McCain generation, you've had your chance -- Now, please, Get Out of Our Way!

Here is my question for Tuesday's Town Hall Presidential debate...

Senator McCain, given that for decades, the American Left has sternly criticized and forewarned of the dangers inherent in the economically profligate, politically divisive, racist, morally selfish, socially intolerant, environmentally unsound  and religiously superstitious politics practiced by post World War II and Baby Boom cohorts of the U.S. voting population, and given that, today, these chickens have come home to roost:  Don't you think it's time, Senator, to accept and acknowledge that older, failed, but politically numerous segments of the U.S. voting population must now step aside, to allow for younger, more vital and future-oriented Americans to lead this Nation forward, out of its present abyss?

And by this, Senator McCain, I do not mean practicing politically cynical ploys, like the selection of an obviously incurious, unqualified runner up in the Miss Alaska beauty pageant as your Vice Presidential running mate. 

For you sir are at the top of your ticket.  And in the minds of millions of younger Americans you are simply too old and unrealistic to lead America to any kind of sustainable future.  On the contrary, from a younger person's vantage, your generation seems intent on sustaining America's current selfish and dissipative decline -- characterized by bumper stickers on 3 MPG recreational vehicles driven by American retirees reading: Spending My Children's Inheritance!

Thus, don't you think it's time, McCain generation, to reject your sick and unprecedented philosophy of I've Got Mine dissipation and decline, before it's simply too late to turn back from this obvious self-destructive course?

In light of your candidacy, I assume, Mr. McCain, that your answer would be NO

But in that light, and with all due respect sir, I am compelled to forewarn -- that in coming years your generation will be incapable of defending itself from the very same lousy and ruinous future you have voted time and again to thrust upon this Nation. 

And unfortunately, since you seem irrationally unwilling to abandon a pre-1973 false vision of American superiority, it is conceivable that younger Americans will in future be forced to undertake morally painful and economically draconian measures, including default (on your debts) and conceivably, unfortunately perhaps even euthanasia.

Thus, I am advising your generation to please lead, follow or get out of the way of a sustainable American future, in light of a potential future elder-holocaust your present course of action might one day force upon America's children and grandchildren! 

The longer you put off real change by twiddling the knobs of your generation's selfish, unyielding capitalism, the more likely its destructiveness becomes your own destiny.

Thank you.


Todd Ryder

Friday, October 03, 2008

TARP II Passes

The anal rape of the American taxpayer, known as TARP -- a bailout designed to enrich Wall Street billionaires -- er... I mean main street: small businesses, pension funds, 401Ks, etc... -- has passed both houses of Congress and will become law following President Bush's signature.

And the only problem I see is that:  a.) Most U.S. workers don't have pensions any more and  b.) Anyone stupid enough to have money in stocks today (as of last August when the collapse of the housing sham became apparent) probably (at least under Capitalism, which they tell me underpins our economic system) deserves to lose their money, in my opinion.

Stocks promptly sold off from daily highs on the news, with the DJIA ending down 157 points.

In philosophical circles, we refer to this as a universal concept known as JUSTICE!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

The Great Renewal?

It's too late now!

TARP isn't going to work.

Banning short selling isn't going to work.

Eventually, the SEC will probably ban all selling of stocks - i.e. the U.S. government may legislate that stocks can only go up!  But I don't think that will work either.

Because the real problem is simply that, since Reagan, the U.S. economy has steadily evolved into a Ponzi scheme -- more akin to the Soviet Union of America than to a Democracy with transparent and accountable markets.  In short, today, America is no longer capable of providing real economic opportunity for Joe Sixpack.  And, finally, Joe's as mad as hell and he doesn't want to take it any more.

Thus, I assign no blame for the millions of people that have and will soon default on their mortgages.  Rather, I admire their courage -- for finally making sound financial choices -- contrary to the buy, buy, buy mantra broadcast 24x7 over the corporate media that shapes public opinion in this country.

Today we see that the stolen 2000 election of George W. Bush, followed by his subsequent reelection, marks the collapse of the fake American economy.  The one that spent the Social Security trust.  The one that created the illegal and immoral Iraq war to further transfer public money into private crony hands.  The one that spawned and exacerbated the housing collapse.

This is why I have for years labeled George W. Bush the Marie Antoinette of the 21st Century.

Today, before our very eyes, the Soviet Union of American Ponzi scheme is collapsing -- and Joe Sixpack is so indebted, so tapped and finally, so angry, that Joe will join liberal/anarchists like myself and vote for a Black President.

Thus, it probably only gets worse -- for the 1% Wall Street-Washington ruling class.  And I believe that's a good thing!  Because for 99% of us, this period of economic contraction and de-leveraging finally marks an opportunity for American renewal!

Because America is so much more than its cynical, decadent, jejune ruling class. 

America is 300 million, mostly well meaning, people -- working hard, honoring the rule of law, and desperately looking for a reason to have and to hold faith -- something other than a plastic Jesus on a plastic cross hanging in an overpriced McMansion made of fake wood and leaching cancer-inducing cyanide gas.

Yes!  America has promise!  But first it must become leaner, decentralized, localized, pluralistic and sustainable.  First, America must get off fossil fuels, stop lying to itself and the rest of the world about its economic and military greatness and start living within its means.

Absent that, the end of America is at hand.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Another Open Reply to Accrued Interest

Please READ your feedback, Mr. Accrued Interest!

In short, I don't see much support for TARP in the comments here, among those of us that follow economics closely and/or perhaps even among some working in the financial industry!

In short:

  • What's wrong with collateral?
  • What's wrong with long term financial security for human beings?
  • What's wrong with financial sanity?
  • What's wrong with an economy where cash (finally, again) is king?

On the contrary, those supporting the bailout simply wish to return to business as usual -- albeit now requiring forced participation on the part of the American taxpayer in Wall Street's  high risk matrix -- as the ultimate backstop to secure unjust and irresponsible Wall Street exploitation of the Democratic majority.

While those of use opposing the bailout simply wish to embrace this opportunity to FIX the system, returning it to sanity.

We (the sane) want secured lending.  We want less churn and constant trading to attain and sustain financial security. Thus, we want future, greater stability in financial markets.  We want American (world) financial systems to work as they did for prior generations, when cash, not leverage, mattered most, when America and the world economy were far less prone to the instability presently inherent in the system, producing bubble after bubble after bubble and crisis after crisis after crisis and now collapse after collapse after collapse.   Like Warrent Buffet, many of us wish to return to an economic system wherein we might become rich slowly, through sound lending, borrowing and investing practices!

Thus, the current crisis and potential collapse represents a unique opportunity, not some kind of mean-spirited pyrrhic victory, as our position has been described by the corporate media.

In short, those of us considering ourselves sane simply wish to alter/fix the present economy, presently consisting of two false choices for wage earners and small investors forming the core of  the U.S. (consumer-centric) economy:

  1. spend our wages immediately (and borrow/leverage on top of them) to avoid loss of principal relative to inflation OR
  2. invest (which today means trade) in insanely risky markets -- only to be exploited by hedge funds and very, very large investors in general -- who generally sell off profit nearly instantaneously.

We simply do not wish to forcibly participate in these schemes, where sound economics has been replaced by gambling and where we can be sure of just one thing: "the house" always wins and we (wage earners and small investors) always lose!

Thus, if, in the process of de-leveraging, as sanity requires, the U.S. and world economy goes "into the tank" for several years or even decades, then so be it, as far as I am personally concerned.

After all, economic collapse, which seems unlikely under virtually any scenario purported by government, financial and media fear mongers, has happened before.  Perhaps it should happen again -- if there is any chance for an ultimate outcome redounding in favor of return to economic sanity and stability.

Wall Street's "business as usual" approach has simply failed the vast majority of human beings participating in the world economy today.  Therefore business as usual cannot (or at least should not, in rational terms) be allowed to continue.

CASH SHOULD BE KING (again) and money (fiat currency) -- versus 100-to-1 leverage -- should be worth something again -- to allow for a return to traditional saving and real, long term, investing!

Otherwise, what is the point of having a complex, highly structured economy?  What is the point of an economy where the vast majority of human beings work for it, but it merely exploits them, for the obvious gain of a statistically tiny (1%) minority -- aka the house -- aka Wall Street?

The answer is: there is no point! 

We raising our voices loudly in protest to TARP have chosen to risk the (very unlikely) possibility of economic collapse over forced participation in yet another bailout of Wall Street's status quo, with our own money (taxes), which will only guarantee further diminishment of our (99%) future economic prospects in favor of Wall Street's one percent.

Finally, Wall Street, if you want our money to bail you out, then either give us equity or give us [economic] death!