Saturday, December 26, 2009

America is…

Swallowing Wall Street’s turds coated in the fake promise of saving everyman capitalism.

Sawdust, formaldehyde and epoxy masquerading as “wood.”  Black plastic simulating “iron.”

A book/film like Revolutionary Road – but usually with a “happy” ending tacked on to placate corporate producers.

Spending billions of taxpayer dollars on airport “security” -- to prevent me taking more than two ounces of soap on a plane - but apparently not enough to deter a “watch listed” radical from concocting a PETN bomb on his lap during final descent into Detroit.  Followed by the “hero” that apparently foiled the plot refusing media interviews without compensation.

The 2009 Senate version of Health Care “Reform.”

God, Bill Frist and Terri Schiavo.

Trading in President Imbecile for President JASON.

The hope in your heart and the acid pain in your belly.

This is America.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


No expanded Medicare.  No competition.  No price controls.  Mandatory participation.  As "breeders", "investors", "employees" and "Americans" we’ve sucked on it so long we don't even know which end we're sucking any more... 

All we know, post-2008, post econ-alypse, is the people and the system we believe in -- that we "stay in line", pay our taxes and stop at red lights for – isn’t capable of keeping the lights on or the trains running.  Not without borrowing from the next generation.

After 47 years, 4 mortgages, a million bucks and a billion compromises, I see now that hatred and rebellion are arguably the sincerest and most noble "social" acts.  That pretension and illusion are not the source of happiness.  That I wish to "unsubscribe" from this America.  That what I desire most is to stop believing and (somehow) become change.  Or (ultimate act of selfishness) live to see this failure, this caricature of human potential, catch fire and burn once and for all.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Brawl of the Wild – TODAY in Bozeman


The best offense is a swarming Defense!

Tom Friedman – master of the obvious


Friedman’s conclusion: Capitalism and democracy are incompatible.  I mean, even the Chinese, nascent capitalists as they are, know that.

Marx knew it too, from his life in Victorian England – and said as much -- a mere 16 decades ago!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Tea-baggers: corporatist/fascist hypocrisy in drag?

I favor the tea-baggers' anti-incumbency stance.

But what I don't understand is why anti-incumbency only applies to government not corporations.

Why doesn't Fox "News" care that Wal-Mart and Exxon and Goldman Sachs and Google and Archer Daniels Midland and... grow faster than government, often -- e.g. TARP -- with taxpayer funded subsidies and protections.

Either anti-incumbency swings both ways, or tea-bagging is the same corporatist/fascist hypocrisy, in drag.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A rebuttal to “Late Capitalism” by Douglass Haddow, Adbusters #87

“Was the true focal point of our existence ever the love, heroism, drama or adventure we find in film and TV?  Or is the truth much more banal, like the lives of the Zombieland characters…”

Uh… YES, Mr. Haddow!  For me “the love, heroism, drama…” and immutable truth in the best films and TV is the whole point!  And I am at a loss to imagine Kurosawa’s Rashomon, Fellini’s La Strada, de Sica’s Umberto D. or Bergman’s Seventh Seal ever possibly conveying one iota of “consum-o-tainment.”

As corporatism replaces our democracy and economics supplants our culture, our best truth is discarded, replaced by a confused and utterly selfish (make the best of it) reality – and this planet is far less human and far more doomed for every single, numbing minute of it.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Life in Wartime

Buffet is not (directly) investing in America. Buffet is indirectly investing in America as he upgrades his investment in supplying COAL to China.

So wise up!  Because this is life in wartime!

  • Convert your dollars to Aussie, etc. economies that have a future -- that are or export to China/BRIC and (most importantly) run budget surpluses.   The future belongs to savers not debtors.
  • Be in America, but not of America -- be an elite, educated, competitive citizen of the New World Order.  Because, while no one was paying attention, America became an old, white fat, stupid, Christian, Armageddon, in-denial, profligate "democracy" that only a (unlikely) plague wiping out old people (and their $100 TRILLION in unfunded liability) could cure.

Healthcare cannot cure America. Carbon Neutral cannot cure America. Financial Reform might help tremendously (but will never happen so why consider).  In the end only default (on virtually all future financial obligations) will cure America.   Stay out of the way of this coming default -- and you may survive.  Or move to another country before it happens.  Or learn to squat/barter/fix-things and to survive in the world as it is and will become – not as you imagine it based on your childhood memories.

Now and in future, for the average working American, “America” means survival.  The same survival as in "Slum Dog" India, China, Brazil and Russia.  Wake up American "Slum Dog" and smell your future!

Finally, if you want to blame someone, blame Ronald Reagan, the Founding Father of Credit Card, Trickle-Down America.   Then consider yourself lucky you outlived White, Dimwit, Midwest, Christian, In-Denial optimism.  At least now the blinders are off.  At least now you can see your real future.

You have been warned!

Friday, October 23, 2009

What a wonderful world it could be…

Yes, Paul, it's all China's fault!

A short sighted, Wall Street, "take the money and run" corporatist economic policy that exported jobs and narrowly "repatriated" profits for the better part of 20 years -- China's fault!

A corporate owned (er... I mean "lobbied") government that marginally appeases human suffering from economic displacement and inequity through borrowing rather than (God forbid) taxing excessive profits -- China's fault!

Not allowing the average American worker's life savings to halve in value (yet again), as Wall Street and Washington require, to pull off the greatest monetization (er... I mean "securitization") scheme in the history of mankind -- China's fault!

Chickens, coming home to roost -- all China's fault!

Yes, if the Chinese would just swallow their worthless crap dollars and let us get on to printing ever more...  Everyone could be happy again!  The Dow could be 30,000.  Detroit executives could return to the skies in their corporate jets.  “Low end” New York apartments could exceed $4000 per month.  Bernie could get out of jail.

What a wonderful world it could be...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Ronald Reagan and Pathological Dimwit Optimism

I’ve said it before here, but finally, Barbara Ehrenreich’s new book spells it out for the masses…

An unwillingness to embrace realism and engage in scientific empiricism has limited America’s capacity to solve growing problems and embrace real progress.  It has contributed to new crises, like the sub-prime/banking meltdown precipitating this Great Recession.

In 1979, Jimmy Carter was labeled a “downer” when he informed us we had a MAJOR fossil fuel problem.   Instead, we labeled Carter’s realism “malaise” and elected “Ronnie the Popular”.  Big.  Jovial.  Well intentioned and – above all – optimistic, Ronald Reagan.

Now, three decades later, few fundamental problems have been solved: Not fossil fuel addiction; not declining living standards, even with rising technology adoption; not a soft-fascist, pro-corporatist class system that excludes more workers from the American Dream each day.  Instead such problems have deepened and worsened.

But if the Great Recession restores a sense of American realism – even if only financial realism – it may be a net positive.

Monday, October 05, 2009

If America had a Ticker, I’d Short it!

OOPS!  Too late!

Then there’s the fact the U.S. is thirteenth in the United Nations Human Development (HDI) rankings for 2009 -- behind Japan, France, Sweden and Canada. 

Like I always say (inspired by Dean Wormer of Animal House): old, white, fat and stupid is no way to run a country!

Finally, here’s my new response to all charity/alumni/political/etc. requests for donations: “Sorry!  But I already gave at the bank!”

Merry Christmas!

Friday, October 02, 2009

It’s a Supply Side Problem

Another 260K jobs were lost last month.

Conservatives contend the problem is that American business is not hiring, because it anticipates higher taxes, healthcare costs, etc. from Big Government Democrats.

That argument is complete bullshit and I essentially agree with economist Mark Zandy that the problem is a supply side one.  In short, consumer demand for useless goods and catastrophic levels of personal debt has and continues to collapse.

The problem, as I’ve said before, is that the U.S. economy no longer produces enough of what human beings on this planet need (or even want): Gas guzzlers?  Houses?  Casinos?  Loans?  Credit Default Swaps?  WTF?

No.  No.  No.  No.  No.  No.  People need local, renewable, distributed energy, healthy food, physical and social wellness and net neutral access to unbiased information (a k a knowledge).  Unfortunately we just don’t make enough of that here to employ everyone (especially since the Baby Boom refuses to retire) and sustain a $14T economy – that was melting the ice caps and setting the sky on fire anyway.

The problem is that, since Reagan, the U.S. economy has run on the fumes of peak oil, idiot consumerism and unbounded debt.

Move on!  Show’s over!

Chicago couldn’t even bag the 2016 Olympics.  But then no country deserves IOC rebuke more than one that gave the world Wall Street crony capitalisms and for-profit medicine where sickness disqualifies care.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


America, when will you embrace your rightful destiny?

When will you accept that the same advertising coercing your subconscious to buy overpriced annuities, sweatshop shoes and half-pound hamburgers has in turn rendered melting icecaps, starvation and drowning equally palatable.

Coal is clean!  Haven’t you heard?  Crude Oil, it’s not just for breakfast anymore!   So dust off the convertible and fill up the tank – it’s 1959 – for as long as you want it be.

When oil sheiks and Wall Street parasites need your consumption so badly, America, how can you possibly refuse?  After sixty years of uninterrupted self indulgence, surely you see that you are too old, too vain, too fat and too stupid to heal the planet – now?!   Instead, do what you do best and light the sky on fire in your lifetime.

America, Jesus is calling!  But first – Armageddon!  Just like the Bible (and Sarah Palin) promises…

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Glenn Beck, Guardian of the American Way of Life

And the only problem is that Glenn Beck’s American Way of Life is today a sewer pumping effluent and debt down the throats of ninety-nine percent of the citizens of planet Earth, including the Unites States of America.  It is a toxic dream machine, relying on advertising and corporate political manipulation to prey upon humanity’s collective unconscious for the near exclusive benefit of oil sheiks, CEOs and Wall Street parasites.

You’re right about one thing, Mr. Beck.  The battle is us versus them.  But it’s also us versus us.  And our planet and any civilized way of life on it is doomed so long as the majority refuses to mutually and simultaneously join both battles.

Old lady and young reporter at Glenn Beck’s 912/tea-bag rally in DC…

MAX BLUMENTHAL: So you're saying if the government eliminates Social Security and Medicare then you'll get out of the program?

WOMAN: No, I said if they get out of my life.

MAX BLUMENTHAL: Out of your Social Security and-

WOMAN: No, out of everything.

OK then, old-selfish-pig-hypocrite-lady!  I guess it’s time to take our checks back then (taxes paid by young people to benefit old people).  And I say we start with YOU!

Monday, September 14, 2009

New Religion?

Did you ever think you'd live to see Mad Max become reality?

How many more years? 10? 25? 50? before Road Warrior is us?

The certitude that there is no salvation is [itself] a form of salvation. --E.M. Cioran.

Repeat after me…

I accept that the protean, nihilistic revolution, securitized by my labor, for the benefit of billionaire Wall Street parasites, is now complete.  I accept there is no future like the one “as seen on TV.”  I see that striving for escape or transcendence from consumer subjugation through blasé self-indulgence, hatred and rage has wasted my very limited time.  Henceforth, I will strive to become each new day -- on its terms not mine.

Though capitalism and religion have almost destroyed the biosphere, they have not destroyed me.  I am still human!  I harbor the capacity to adapt and transform, to embrace increasing entropy, to starve failure rather than trust in it, to liberate my body from brain eating corporate food,  to plant vegetables, to drill freshwater wells, to put up solar panels… to prepare for and enjoy collapse.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Mandatory Retirement

One more, New Rule for the New Normal, collapsed U.S. consumer, debt-driven economy:  Anyone over age 65 that is not employed cannot be counted in Federal unemployment statistics.

In short, America can no longer afford to be led by the same, old, white, self-centered, less-capable (e.g. not computer literate) generation that led it to ruin over the last 50 years.

A perfect example – someone too old to lead a government supported firm – is new GM chairman, Ed Whitacre.  I find GM’s ads with Whitacre -- implying some kind of new day for GM – patently offensive, simply because the person touting GM products is older than my father, who is at least smart and noble enough to have retired.  How many more millions, how many more estates, how many more yachts do you need Mr. Whitacre?  You were chairman of the board and chief executive officer of AT&T Corp – but don’t use email or have a computer in your office.  WTF?!

America has too many problems that require a major, younger, less individualistic – less what’s in it for me -- rethink.  Old people -- that melted the icecaps, that didn’t switch our nation off fossil fuels after the ‘74 embargo and that continue to vote to increase unfunded health care benefits (e.g. Medicare Part D) for themselves -- while 50 million are uninsured in this country and anyone not on Medicare is dropped for becoming sick – cannot be trusted to fix America.

Old People of America: You had your chance.  And just look at the world you’re leaving behind.  You have clearly demonstrated you are permanently conditioned to insane levels of individualism and greed and that you fundamentally lack capacity for collective social responsibility.  Now, please get out of our way, before the rest of us must force you to – so those of us that can use computers, that innately demonstrate needed capacity for increasing automation and efficiency and that care less about ourselves and more about our society and planet, can move forward.  You failed!  Now get out of the way and give the future a chance.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Closed for Reconstruction: Credit Card Street

U.S. consumers are paying down revolving debt at record rates – $21B/month in July – experts predicted only $4B.

Sesame Street is teaching families to cope with hard times…

Sunny Day.
Sweeping the clouds away.
On, my way, to where I live debt free.
Can you tell me how to get… how to get off Credit Card street?

Now if Obama’s Fed could just come to grips with this New Normal reality – stop trying to restore Wall Street’s status quo, Armageddon tickers.  Crushing the dollar by increasing debt insures only continuing American decline.  In other words, current (Republican/Wall Street) Fed policy solves none of America’s long term problems:  Not under-employment.  Not health care.  Not education.  Not global warming.  Not falling living standards.

In short, the Future belongs to savers, creditors and investors not to gamblers, Ponzi-schemers and debtors.

New Rules for the New Normal:

  • Debt <> Growth
  • Growth <> Progress
  • Progress <> Real progress (absent sustainability)
  • Real progress <> (destabilizing) Income Gap (richest to poorest)
  • Capitalism <> Democracy
  • Democracy <> Intelligence (e.g. “Keep the government out of my Social Security and Medicare!” = WTF?!)

Real leaders lead!  They don’t flinch from risk or quiver and equivocate before opinion polls and opposition propaganda.  They tax and regulate chaos and failure -- greed, cronyism, obesity, disease, debt – out of existence.  They incentivize real, sustainable progress.  That’s what FDR, Truman, Eisenhower and Johnson did well – despite flaws and mistakes they found a way to leave America better in their wakes as Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Bush did not – or we wouldn’t be in this mess today – a leaderless, elitist, debt-driven, masturbatory kind of democracy, creating, exacerbating then ignoring one crisis after another.

Thus, it’s time for Obama to starting leading America instead of following Wall Street’s libertarian, fast money vision to oblivion.  A majority are likely to follow – and do the better thing.  Take it from the folks on Sesame Street.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Too Late for Teenage Suicide

Mr. Douthat,

I am sorry I missed the opportunity to comment online. ..

But, as a Montanan, having read the responses your article (Montana possibly joining Oregon and Washington in "legalizing" assisted suicide) generated – I suspect, from fellow members of the PIG (er... I mean "Baby Boom") generation, of which I am an angry (punk rock era),  non-breeding, non-profligate member -- I am compelled to commentary.

Your phrase "fiscal suicide" is exactly right!  And we non-breeding, non-profligate survivors (so far) of this current crooks and idiots phase of American socio-political-economic life know too well this country committed to fiscal suicide a very long time ago (my best guess being 1971 – Nixon’s abandonment of Bretton Woods’ “gold standard” or  perhaps its collective, yawning [non] response to the ‘74 oil embargo and Jimmy Carter’s “Malaise” speech).   At any rate, fiscal suicide seems undoubtedly the fate of  America as most of us know and love it.  I suspect those of us over 40 and under 300 pounds know this:  Ron Paul knows it.  Bill Maher knows it.  You know it.  I know it.  Unfortunately, a huge, aging, diabetic swath of “Keep government out of my Social Security and Medicare!” America does not know (or refuses to admit) it.

So the question is: what can be done, if anything, to render (fiscal) suicide as painless as possible?  For myself, I find I am essentially a burgeoning communist/anarchist/survivalist:  and when the  Mad Max age ensues, I suspect I will be in Montana, armed, off the grid, on (relatively) fresh water and basically as self-contained/sustaining as possible…

But I wonder where the conservative “pundit class” expects to be in ten or twenty years?  After all, democracy and unregulated capitalism cannot coexist forever – Marx (unbounded genius) was absolutely correct about this.  As proof I submit: The United States of America.  QED!

And whether you admit it or not, Mr. Douthat – so do you.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Starve the Beast!

“The need for a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the whole surface of the globe, paving the way for more extensive and exhaustive crises.” – Karl Heinrich Marx

I agree with WSWS’ conditional analysis (of capitalism) but not with its prescription to defeat it.  I suggest that Marxists are wrong in assuming that real change, or even resistance, must necessarily be confrontational.  Furthermore, one might argue that Marx foresaw and described the capitalist crisis far more accurately and definitively than its subsequent evolution -- to societies eschewing private property,  self interest, war and collapse in favor of shared values and sustainability.

As in Obama’s sudden health care dilemma, pragmatic Marxists and post-consumerists will never succeed with a head-on assault of globalized capitalism.  To try is merely to sacrifice for its own sake, not for progress, economic  sustainability or even resilience.

Instead we must starve the world hierarchy of exploitation through democratic choice.  We must strive to outlive and undermine capitalism demographically rather than some foolish, fascist attempt to force it at gunpoint into an oven.  In this way, capitalism’s dissenters get to stay alive, out of jail and free from terrorist labels – as wave after wave of crises – for which capitalism has no answers (Peak Everything) ensues, rendering the desire for real change universal for the youngest citizens of this world.

At any rate, I suppose my own musings and solidarity with post-collapse, out-of-the-closet socialism/anarchism explains how it is I came to be a childless miser (a capitalist driven insane, in Marx’ words), living in Montana, striving for a transition-town, off-grid, but grid-tied, way of life.

After all, money ought to be good for something – even if it’s only to survive and to witness (“I told you so!” syndrome) the inevitable collapse of capitalism that Marx so presciently and brilliantly predicted sixteen decades ago.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Old, White, Fat and Stupid

According to the Republican party, apparently, these are the only valid qualifications for receiving single payer healthcare in America.

And I’m sorry but there is no solution for this type of hideous, selfish, degenerative brain disease – short of ovens – jumbo-size, senior-discount, plug-pulling ovens.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Help, Germany! LARGE Ovens Needed ASAP!

America is now officially a freak-show!

It seems that nearly half the U.S. population is comprised of  Sarah Palin “death panel” cretins and old, diabetic, grossly-obese, sub-human retardos – enraged and shouting slogans like “Keep the government out of our Medicare.” 

Absent a swine flu pandemic, very long passage of time or China/Japan calling back trillions in markers, it seems fair to say that America’s dumb-ass status-quo is apparently non-negotiable, ironically, because the continuing success of Wal-Mart, Goldman Sachs, Exxon-Mobil, Humana, et al. apparently depends upon it.

If nothing else, mass stupidity must be incredibly lucrative for multi-national corporations!

Friday, August 07, 2009

Reagan’s Miracle

Job losses may be slowing -- to a mere 250,000/month…  The Dow Jones Industrial Average rallied triple digits on the news.

One in nine Americans is now on Food Stamps.

Congratulations Mr. and Mrs. Idiot America!  Unregulated, un-taxed, Wall Street, Washington, Harvard MBA, crony capitalism has finally given you the country you voted 30 years to achieve – and which you so richly deserve.  Viva La Goldman Sachs!  May we all be so lucky (as me) to invest in our own subjugation.

Bring on the “law and order” candidates!  My guess is Mitt Romney becomes the next Richard Nixon.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Happiness is a Warm Gun, Momma

I am not tall enough.

I am not rich enough.

I own my own home and just got promoted at work, but I cannot get laid.

I cannot get loved.

I am over 40, white, male, barely middle class and predisposed to vote Republican -- forever!

Those goddamn Europeans…  Those goddamn Dutch, Danes, Norwegians, Fins, Swedes and Germans – with their goddamn “free” wellness, their goddamn “be average,” healthy societies, their goddamn “love” for Obama, their goddamn “safety net” and their goddamn “gun control” – it is not for me – and I would rather die than see the mediocrity of altruism, of humanism, of happiness descend upon The United States of America!

I am George Sodini, 48, of Scott Township, a Pittsburgh suburb.  I am Mr. Anonymous America.  I love porno, Talk Radio and blogging about my seething hatred and rage!

But most of all… I love GUNS!   Guns and REVENGE!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Week in Review: Imagine how much worse it might have been otherwise…


Gail Collins’ piece is utterly and unequivocally brilliant!  One of the best I’ve read in the ‘Times since Dick Cavett’s memo to General David Patraeus.

It’s  a riff (I suspect) on a recent Barney Frank comment, when Bernanke was testifying before Congress recently... mostly about what a wonderful job he did to a.) help Greenspan wreck America with easy credit then b.) how his Fed saved it by bailing out Goldman Sachs!

Franks's response (paraphrased): "Chairman Bernanke, I'm a politician and feel I must tell you that no one ever got re-elected on the slogan: 'Imagine how much worse things might have been otherwise!'"

So (again) here's my favorite quote this year –from #82 -- “Endgame Strategies”:  "When the plane's in trouble, it's no use shooting the pilot.  You need a parachute!"


In short, never lose your sense of humor.  But most importantly, never stop working on that parachute!

Stick a fork in their ass and turn ‘em over. They’re done!

Gates “retired” just in time.  Allen left years ago.  Now only Ballmer is left to be assigned responsibility for the inevitable, eventual obsolescence of one of the greatest robber-baron shrink-wrapped-software stories in history.

Who knew that “GUI” would (finally) become a commodity? – I mean who the fuck guts their kitchen and buys a new refrigerator every three years?!

Long live “Leeenux!” (quoting Linus phonetically)… 

I hope now the “softies” can finally give up and “invent” stability.  To this end, here’s my advice:  (25 year track record) — It’s spelled  U-N-I-X.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Maher calls JASON out…

And it’s about fucking time!

Are you listening, MR. PRESIDENT?!

Meanwhile… please don’t make me spell it out for you!

I, Vagabond

I agree with the sentiments espoused here by Chris Darke.  When I saw the film Vagabond last year on IFC, I too was challenged (and disturbed) by the simultaneous dichotomy and similarity between the "passive" (counter-culture) nihilist shepherd/philosopher (in whom I romanticized myself) and the "active" nihilism of the "vagabond" Mona (see Adbusters #85).

I also agree (but more darkly and forcefully) with Darke that, in post-1980, post-Reagan America, we are all "nomads" -- adrift in a virtual-world of “progress" constantly undermined by anxiety from three decades of delusion, debt and denial.  A world reflected in the spirit of this film -- at once cold, bleak and perpetually out-of-season.

Dimwit American optimism coupled with gun-toting libertarian unwillingness to tax or regulate excess is today culminating in a massive deleveraging, a (so far) orderly collapse -- of values and institutions – personified by advertising-centric, “Obama change."  Healthcare “reform” my ass!

Going forward, I will not be surprised if nihilism becomes the new black!

Monday, June 08, 2009

You Know the Best Part About Dying in America?

You get to stop feeling cheated!

Rest in peace, Virginia Mae Wagner/Scribner/Sorenson.

Glad did I live and gladly die, And I laid me down with a will.  Robert Louis Stevenson

Saturday, May 23, 2009

In PROFIT we trust

Open the prisons and close the schools. PROFIT has bought up the town.

The food causes cancer, but no need for rules.  PROFIT can never go down.

Gated mansions abide. Tent people decried. Only PROFIT determines response.

Treasury is looted to pay failed CEOs because PROFIT and law now ensconce.

Health spending soars and coverage collapses but PROFIT guides the reform.

The sky is on fire. Conversations get wired. PROFIT is setting the norm.

Confident Barry the Prom King but not one “Real Change.”

In PROFIT all we must trust.

“Drill baby drill!”

Kill baby kill!

Swill Piggy swill.

For PROFIT, like it or not, we all will!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Pig People*

Pig people got no reason
Pig people got no reason
Pig people got no reason
To live

They got manicured hands
Stepford Wife” eyes
They walk around
Tellin’ “flat tax” lies
They want “private” profit
And “public” loss
They let us hold elections
But it’s always “Meet the same old boss…”

Well, I don't want no Pig people
Don't want no Pig people
Don't want no Pig people
’Round here

Pig people are not the same
As you and I
(Piggy must pay)
They make life an endless competition
Until the day we die
(Let's find another way)

Pig people got big money
Pig people got big money
Pig people got big money
To love

They live in gated mansions
Our taxes subsidize
They own the goddamn system
And call it “private” enterprise
They ride in limousines
That go beep, beep, beep
They got the NSA
Goin' peep, peep, peep
They elect our dumbass Congress
With crooked cheating minds
They always stick it to us every time
Well, I don't want no Pig people
Don't want no Pig people
Don't want no Pig people
'Round here

* alternative lyrics to Randy Newman’s Short People inspired by George Orwell’s Animal Farm and my own experience living under the United States of America

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

What profiteth a man…

Clean air. Clean water. Rule of law. Unfettered access to education according to need and limited only by ability. Guaranteed retirement (e.g. National Savings Plan). And Health Care.

These are the basic human rights every American should demand from any society that generates vast wealth as ours (USA) does.

In this country, it's time to review very basic decisions, for ourselves and for this planet, like: Good business or no business? Good government or no government? Good life or no life?

After five decades of "progress" it seems clear that a happy life is far more basic, simple and elemental than our for-profit society allows for. Americans on average earn three or four times what their parents and grandparents earned in the 1950s, but are they happier? In the five prosperous decades since World War II, incomes have increased four-fold while incidence of clinical depression has increased ten-fold.

America has sold its democracy and its very soul for high corporate and individual profit and (collectively) gained little more than pornographic wealth disparity, slavish consumerism and unending anxiety.

Today Americans are overdue for honest reflection -- for a healthier private/public balance, regarding our basic human need for community, family and friends, toward a life of less materialism and more, un-abrogated joy.

Greed is not good! Progress does not collapse! In any healthy democracy, what we want less of (obscene, obsequious greed) we must tax away and what we want more of (knowledge, health, community and joy) we must subsidize.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

You Can't Fix Stupid!

5.56 Million continuing unemployment claims were reported this week – an all-time record. There are now at least 12 Million unemployed Americans. And unlike Europe or even Japan, we have no real safety net here, save depending on the kindness of strangers.

Welcome to Tent City, USA.

I remember such enclaves from 1999-2001, under the overpass near (ironically enough) Caesar Chavez exit South of Market Street in San Francisco near (now defunct) offices.

Bottom line: regardless what Geithner and Obama tell you, there is no quick fix – not for American Piggy’s $4T and growing insolvency problem – read Krugman, et al. -- there's simply no bottom to bounce off -- not any time soon.

I began studying the post-Dotcom leverage phenomenon in 2003/4 via websites like Daily Reckoning, Prudent Bear, RGE and John Mauldin. Like Fox says in its X-Files advertisements -- the truth is out there.

Today the truth is that American Piggy is basically insolvent and the worldwide backlash has us literally on the verge of financial collapse. In short, the Chinese don't (really) want our Piggy dollars. The Russians and Europeans don't want our Piggy dollars. And now we all know the Piggiest got out early with so much profit it probably doesn't matter (for them) what the U.S. dollar is ultimately worth. But it matters to me. And it matters to you.

So that’s where your retirement went. While you were playing by the rules and buying on credit like the magic screen said you should -- No down. No doc. No problem -- Piggy stole it all, then broke the bank and left the whole world holding the bag.

So just remember, when your money market “breaks your buck” and there is nothing left of you but (hopefully) your ability to draw breath – at least accept who/what stole the American Dream you were socialized from birth to hold faith in.

  • Ronald Reagan's dimwit optimism stole it.
  • Alan Greenspan's Ayn Rand inspired American hedonism stole it.
  • Surly Republican Congressional selfishness, masquerading as reform, stole it.
  • Wall Street's Harvard MBA "Masters of the Universe" sense of entitlement stole it.
  • George W. Bush's Antoinette inanity and "War on Terror" arrogance stole it.
  • Television: QVC, Snuggie, Sham Wow, et al. stole it.
  • Jesus of Suburbia stole it.

As we and our elected government watched live on 50 inch plasma screens.

It finally collapsed because for 30 years American Piggy cared for little more than getting richer faster, exploiting unregulated access to ever-less valuable Alan Greenspan Federal Reserve dollars.

When cheap money leveraged 10-t0-1 as junk bonds stopped working fast enough for parasites like Michael Milkin and Ivan Boesky, Piggy changed the rules and resorted to 40-to-1 leverage.

When 40-to-1 leverage wasn't fast enough Piggy began trading debt instruments, like credit default swaps (CDS) and mortgage backed securities (MBS) in a process called "securitization," which is just a Piggy word to describe bundling then trading illiquid assets (like corporate machinery or homeowner mortgages) then making (what has proved catastrophic) bets on which parasite firm would default first.

By 2006 Piggy had bundled Trillions of such "investments" and concocted elaborate insurance scams to "AAA" rate them so that normally conservative (slow money) investors -- like the fund/broker that defaults on your retirement account or the insurer that can't pay your workers’ compensation claim -- could soak it all up. And when every saved Greenspan dollar in every account yielded zero (less, relative to inflation), all were forced to take the bait.

Near the end, when such trading failed to deliver fast money obscene and obsequious enough, Piggy simply ran Ponzi schemes.

But there were serious flaws in the model.

What Piggy rarely tells us is that today securitization accounts for 2 of every 3 dollars in the global financial system. And that a disconcertingly high ratio of the system's "legacy" assets are now toxic, worth at best 60 to 80 cents on the dollar, though most firms still carry them on the books at 100% of face value, which explains why FASB rules were recently changed.

It also explains de-leveraging, where trillions in stocks, bonds, commercial and residential real estate, swaps, tranches, etc. recently halved in price since peaking in 2007 -- and likely must halve again to restore rational (trade-able) valuations.

Finally it explains why attempts -- e.g. Geithner's plan --to reinflate assets will inevitably produce an inflationary run on the dollar.

That's right. The United States of America may become a Banana Republic? And the only thing preventing the rest of the world from forcing IMF style "austerity measures" on it is that, like it's banks, America is "too big to fail." But imagine the price of a loaf of bread or a gallon of gasoline if gold ever trades at $3000 or $5000 an ounce.

What precipitated this sudden realization leading to de-leveraging and a collapse in U.S. asset values?

Near the end of the housing boom in 2006, when home prices had become unattainable for a majority of Americans, millions of foolish borrowers saw houses as investments not houses -- at least until they discovered what a balloon payment and an adjustable rate mortgage really meant. Meanwhile Piggy lenders and asset bundlers were all too happy to oblige.

But soon enough overextended borrowers and "equity" driven consumers realized Piggy had missed a major loophole in its strategy by insufficiently institutionalizing financial slavery.

Eventually, millions of people -- that wanted little more than granite countertops as trifling imitations of the billionaires they saw daily on CNBC -- realized the only way to break their chains was to walk away from underwater mortgages. Take This House and Shove It! It's not worth it any more...

But don't worry! The new administration has yet another fast fix in mind.

The plan: to render the marrow in your bones as lender of last resort -- so Piggy can socialize its Financial Terrorism to the hapless, helpless, hopeless American taxpayer.

So that's how we got here. Thirty years after uncle Ronnie, uncle Newt and cousin Grover convinced us that Greed is Good. That if we only made the top 1 percent 200 percent richer, while our own wages stagnated and our best paying jobs became the primary export of American corporations, we'd all soon live in a Shining City on a Hill.

In corporate Information Technology (IT) we sometimes resort to a simple aphorism to defend our best efforts to make management's ill fated software purchases succeed: You can't fix stupid!

Somehow, in the midst of this collapse, 99% of us owe it to ourselves and our families to finally stop assuming the ruling class is smarter than we are, demand an official declaration of bankruptcy from Piggy, claw back profits stolen in the greatest swindle in the history of Western civilization, then find our own, better way forward...

The social and economic consequences of parasitism

40. This account of the impact of Blackstone's operations—whose chairman, Steven Schwartzman, has a net worth of more than $7 billion—calls attention to their essential social significance. The activities of outfits like Blackstone are not socially neutral. The phrase "creating shareholder value" is a social euphemism that is employed to conceal and justify the brutally exploitative, socially destructive and essentially criminal character of these financial transactions. The merger and acquisitions wave of the 1980s required and could not have succeeded without a massive assault on the social position of the working class in the United States. The policies implemented by the Reagan administration—with the support of the Democratic Party—created the necessary political framework for the operations of the corporate raiders. Paying down the huge debts incurred in the leveraged buyouts of the 1980s required intensified exploitation of workers, realized in the form of union-busting, wage cuts, reduction of benefits, more onerous work rules, and the outright elimination of hundreds of thousands of jobs.

41. The repeated occurrence of economic disasters cannot be explained as unfortunate accidents, which might have been avoided had investors been less greedy, executives more responsible, administrators more watchful, etc. Every five years or so, since the 1980s, there has been a major disaster. In the 1980s, the so-called "Decade of Greed," there was the Savings and Loans scandal, the junk bond mania (Ivan Boesky and Michael Milken), and the 1987 Wall Street crash. In the 1990s, there was the Mexican peso crisis, the bubble, the Asian crisis, the ruble crisis, and the collapse of Long Term Capital Management. In 2001 Enron collapsed almost overnight, when its fraudulent bookkeeping, in which prestigious accounting firms acted as accomplices, was exposed. Then, abetted by the decision of the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates to their lowest levels in decades, the housing boom developed. Underlying all these speculative operations is the decay of the real productive foundations of American capitalism, the separation of the process of the ruling class's self-enrichment from the processes of production and the creation of real value.

The end of dollar dominance

42. This crisis cannot be reversed by reviving a mythical "Golden Age" of American capitalism. First, the objective position of American capitalism in the world economy has deteriorated dramatically over the past 40 years. As I explained earlier in this report, the weakening of the dollar as far back as the late 1950s was among the earliest signs of the deterioration of the global position of the United States. In 1971 the US ended dollar-gold convertibility. Still, the dollar has remained the world reserve currency even as the United States became the largest debtor nation and accumulated a massive current accounts deficit. But, in yet another sign that this crisis marks a historic turning point, Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao has publicly expressed concern about the future viability of the American dollar and the safety of Chinese dollar holding. "We have lent a huge amount of money to the US. Of course we are concerned about the safety of our assets. To be honest, I am definitely a little worried," he said recently.

43. The financial viability of the United States has been called into question by a major economic power—one that happens to be the largest foreign holder of US dollars. While American commentators have, for the most part, brushed off Wen's statement—on the grounds that China would not, for its own sake, risk the global financial consequences of lowering its dollar holdings and igniting a run on the American currency—it is difficult to exaggerate its significance. Up until now, the global role of the dollar provided the United States with a unique financial advantage. The United States controlled the printing of a currency that functioned as the world reserve currency.

44. Were the dollar to lose its unique global status, this would have immediate consequences not only for the global position of American capitalism, but also for the conduct of its domestic economic policies. It needs only to be pointed out that the entire stimulus package of the Obama administration, which entails running multi-trillion-dollar deficits, depends upon the willingness of foreign creditors to hold US dollars.

A systemic crisis

45. The analysis presented in this lecture has stressed that the present crisis is of a systemic, rather than conjunctural character; and that its development is the outcome of the protracted decline in the global position of American capitalism. The rampant financial speculation, fueled by debt, is not the cause of the crisis, but, rather, a manifestation of deep-rooted contradictions in the American and global economy. As we have sought to explain, the very measures undertaken by American capitalism to respond to economic pressures that it confronted more than four decades ago prepared the foundations for the crisis that it confronts today.

46. Precisely because of the historic and global character of the contradictions that underlie the present crisis, the claims of the Obama administration that the present downturn will give way, within some sort of reasonable timeframe, to renewed and sustained economic growth, accompanied by a recovery and improvement in the living standards of the broad mass of the population, will be discredited by events. Regardless of fluctuations in the economic conjuncture from month to month and quarter to quarter, the enduring impact of this crisis will be a long-lasting and deeply painful deterioration in the living standards of the working class in the United States.

47. Moreover, if history teaches us anything, it is that an international systemic breakdown of capitalism leads inexorably to violent political convulsions. Capitalism in crisis becomes the breeding ground of political dictatorships and rampant militarism. Out of the economic breakdown of the early 1930s emerged first fascism and, later, world war. The restabilization of capitalism in the aftermath of World War II was purchased with the blood of tens of millions.

The social physiognomy of the American ruling class

48. To recognize the dangerous implications of the unfolding crisis is not alarmism, but political realism. There is no reason to believe that the ruling elites will respond in the first and second decades of the 21st century to the breakdown of capitalism with any less brutality than they did in the 1930s and 1940s. Nothing in contemporary culture suggests that the super-rich of the corporate and financial elite has grown more civilized and less prone to violence in defense of its interests than the magnates of the last century. The operation of the capitalist economy cannot be abstracted in some sort of metaphysical way from the class relations and interests to which it gives rise and in which it is embedded. During the past quarter century, the decay of American capitalism has created a powerful social constituency, commanding vast wealth, whose social and political arrogance has been magnified by its economic parasitism. If any conclusion can be drawn from its initial response to the bankruptcies and collapses produced by its own policies, it is that the ruling class is determined to make the mass of the population pay for the cost of the crisis.

49. Observing the response of the ruling elite in the United States to the economic crisis, one cannot help but note the parallel to the French aristocracy on the eve of the revolution that erupted in 1789. Every effort to find a rational solution to the financial crisis that confronted France was blocked by the aristocracy, which was determined to exploit the crisis in its own interests. The nobility would not tolerate any measures that threatened to undermine its wealth, status and prerogatives. In the end, their intransigence drove the mass of society, the "Third Estate," to ever-more radical measures.

50. The brazen contempt for public opinion displayed by the executives of failed banks and corporations as they reward themselves with multi-million-dollar bonuses, looted from funds provided by taxpayers, exposes the unalterably reactionary and socially destructive character of the American ruling class. It will do anything to protect its wealth and privileges. The AIG affair is typical of a society in which the rich, intoxicated by privilege, believe that they can do what they wish, unencumbered by legal, let alone moral restraints. President Obama's Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, a multimillionaire (like many other members of the administration), cheated on his taxes—with no legal or professional consequences. Paying taxes, as we were once told by a real estate mogul, "is for little people."

51. One is struck by the degree to which the American ruling class has acquired the characteristics of a decadent aristocracy. Self-obsessed and narcissistic, it seems utterly impervious to the feelings and sentiments of that portion of society that is compelled to work for a living. In the midst of the AIG scandal, one of the leading business columnists for the New York Times, Andrew Ross Sorkin, argued that the $160 million bonuses must be paid to AIG, in the interest of preserving the sanctity of contracts! And yet, the same columnist has called for the ripping up of the contracts of autoworkers and the elimination of benefits and the lowering of wages. Legal standards, as we see, are determined by class interests.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

A case for change - or nihilism?

If "enough is enough" when is it time for Piggy to sacrifice for real change?

How long can we wait to take a scalpel to the charming but malignant, anti-competitive and only self-interested cancer that has consumed American capitalism under Milt Friedman's gospel of neo liberalism?

How long until we abrogate fascist corporate injustice and live (or die) for an American economy our children's children can hold faith in?

Since when is failure too big to fail?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Ever Get the Feeling You've Been Cheated?

Suffice it to say, my PHK trade is off...

I got out with a too-small position, but a lovely 20% gain on it! 

No matter what shenanigans Wall Street pulls, they cannot keep me (and moneyscraper) from at least breaking even.  Break even is about as bad as it ever gets for me.  That rule having held for a decade or so now.

But, if America had any real upside potential, well, then we might really have something to talk about! 

But, unfortunately I (nor you) have AIG’s (or Wall Street or Washington's) license to steal.  In other words, unfortunately, Bush syndrome -- “hey, let’s put the least competent, least moral people in charge… then see what happens” – simply does not apply for 99% of us.

And anyone that cannot see this (“Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated”) reality is an even bigger chump than they already know you are!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Rush the big fat Pig-Man

Rush the big fat Pig-Man lives in Florida.
Where they worship snakes, untreated sludge and condominiums.

Rush the big fat Pig-Man is a Reagan devotee.
So he keeps digging up his rotted corpse for Presidential run number three.

Rush the big fat Pig-Man eats everything in sight.
Then defecates on the radio for consumption by the extreme Right.

Rush the big fat Pig-Man hates the human race.
That's probably why he eats so much -- to mask GOP failure and disgrace.

Rush the big fat Pig-Man is going to die one day.
While the Left's rebirth has just begun working toward a better way.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

My Dad, Obama and Class Warfare

I'm not a very likable person. That's something I share with my father.

Ego. Directness. Incapacity to suffer fools. Guilty as charged.

In 1980 my ACT scores may have been high enough to warrant an obligatory "letter of introduction" from Harvard University, but over the course of my life I've learned more about work from my father than a thousand Harvard educations might otherwise have garnered.

His was a lucky-at-birth, post War, baby boom generation. But those dads, in Laurel, Montana, worked hard -- hoeing sugar beets on their summer "vacations", in the railroad yards and at the refineries -- always by the rules. They were mostly good and always honest men, and they got what they deserved: income growth, home equity, retirement dinners and good pensions.

But somewhere around the oil embargo in 1974 things started to slip in this country. It started to become obvious that America had fundamental problems. That America consumes far too much energy and produces hardly any. That dichotomy was never more apparent than in 1974 -- or today.

All of which brings me to Obama's budget.

My wife and I have nearly half a million in our retirement accounts and she has a small pension from working 23 years in State government. Sometimes I think we're nearly all that's left of the American middle class. But I believe we can afford to chip in more.

Then I see Dick Fuld or Lee Raymond or Rick Wagoner on television and a rage boils up inside me. How, in God's name, could anyone possibly want that much for, of all things, failing to deliver real progress? What has happened to this country?

Right or wrong, I blame Ronald Reagan.

In 1980, I too was a young Republican. And for nearly two decades, I never voted to raise my taxes. I wanted so much for America to be the way Reagan wanted it -- handsome like my Dad, pragmatic and mid-western.

But America just isn't like that and if you read Howard Zinn or Upton Sinclair you realize it probably never was and never can be. People need rules. Rules create structure. Structure creates order. And order provides the base for advancement for everyone.

That's what President Obama's budget is about. It tries to fix things in this country that we should never have allowed to become so broken: teacher's pay, energy policy, a safety net for the least powerful and the most unlucky.

Today I am willing to help pay for this -- to spend the rest of my natural life paying for this.

But first, we must expose, dis-empower and punish the Financial Terrorists that collapsed our system. Only then can we set about fixing thirty years of damage that Reagan inspired "greed is good" has wrought.

Piggy must pay! And when Piggy has been hung by the neck until dead, then and only then will the rest of us tolerate paying for its sins.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Debt: Nature's way of saying "I'm with Stupid!"

The boys on the boards are restless…

They’ve lost money out the ass.

Now they’re questioning money itself.

HELLO! – I’m afraid I’m five, maybe even 30 years ahead of you, boys.  When the plane’s in trouble, you’re wasting your time shooting the pilot.  Scramble for one of the remaining parachutes and get ready to jump!

For defense contractors and investors therein it was a fabulous decade (70% -- compare the charts to anything else out there except gold) – but now it’s OVER!  Like Dean Vernon Wormer (Animal House) said, Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son.

In short, Shedlock's article referenced indirectly herein is correct in characterizing current economic policy as a Don't Ask, Don't Sell policy -- trying to avoid marking bad assets to market (e.g. $0.30 on the $1.00).

It's like a LTBH market investor looking at 50% losses on his 401K statement and fantasizing about a comeback, eroticizing the fallacy of a failed belief system.  (Remember.  It takes a 100% gain to recover a 50% loss.)

The truth is that realizing losses is the only chance to restore needed balance to the fiat system.  In short, Piggy must pay!  Piggy must take HUGE losses.  Piggy was too stupid, greedy and irresponsible ever to be made whole in this debacle.  And if Piggy is somehow made whole in this debacle, the outcome will be even worse, making absolute collapse (Mad Max syndrome) more likely.

So here's the conundrum: not taking losses is deflationary and taking losses is deflationary.

Can the U.S. Government really force the American taxpayer to pick up Piggy's 70% losses – to make a corrupt system whole?  Frankly, I don’t see how.  Presumably, there would be riots in the streets.  That’s Mad Max syndrome.  And no one wants that, least of all Barrack Obama, Ben Bernanke and Tim Geitner.

Thus, deflation (depression) is inevitable as the value of credit and credit based assets - e.g. homes - collapses, as illustrated by Shedlock’s formula below. 

How does one profit from deflation? -- by not taking on new debt and by paying off any debt outstanding.  Suddenly, paying down debt (or not paying it at all – if you can get away with it) is the newest and only successful present form of investment.  (But actually it’s old.  Historically, the insanity of Reagan, trickle-down, voodoo, deficit, crony capitalism, like the Weimar Republic, is the real aberration.)

Fm = Fb + MV(Fc)

Where Fm = Fiat Money Total
Fb = Fiat Monetary Base
Fc = Fiat Credit, the amount of credit on the balances sheets of institutions in excess of Fb

MV(Fc) = the market value Fc (market value of credit)

Thus Inflation is an expansion of Fm
Deflation is a contraction of Fm

If only base money was lent out (no fractional reserve lending), MV(Fc) would equal zero. The MV(Fc) equation ensures we do not double count credit in Fm.

MV is a function of time preference and credit sentiment (i.e. Faith that lenders get paid back). As long as that belief is high, banks are willing to lend.

Because (at the moment) Fc (credit) dwarfs Fb (base money), the system can only hold together as long as there is belief [A K A pixie dust] credit can be paid back -- as long as there are not substantial and destabilizing defaults.  Needless to say, the perceived belief that Fc can be paid back is at increasing risk, both by rising defaults, and by falling consumer and lender sentiment.

That's why MV(Fc) – the real value of debt – is collapsing before our eyes.

In other words, [deflation is when] the mark-to-market value of credit is contracting faster than base money [supply] is rising.

Welcome to deflation!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Capitalism - only without the Pixie Dust

All greed. All capitalism. No "Pixie Dust" (that's what Rick Santelli labels public/consumer confidence on CNBC).

Any way you slice it, it's a rotten, rotten sandwich.

So go ahead Ben, Tim and Barack. Print and hang paper all over the world economy. It won't help one bit without "pixie dust" -- i.e. without you and me believing and investing in our own undemocratic subjugation to the top one percent, and its continuing successful inundation of our ninety-nine percent in false, "Horatio Alger", "American Idol" dreams.

Without that so-called "pixie dust" to which Santelli refers, Wall Street and Washington's scheming is for naught.

And Hugo Chavez' brand of "change" might be onto something.

"If the plane is in trouble, you don't shoot the pilot, you grab a parachute and jump." -- Daniel Quinn

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Crash as precursor to a new New World

Adbusters #82

This is my tribute to author David Graeber – never has my emergent belief system been codified so perfectly on two pages -- as perfect, compact and transcendent as Hank Paulson’s initial TARP proposal was evil, insidious and utterly combustive.

Hopelessness isn’t natural. It needs to be [mass] produced. To understand this situation, we have to realize that the last 30 years [Reagan Era] have seen the construction of a vast bureaucratic apparatus that creates and maintains hopelessness [through materialism].

Once one [erroneously] assumes that capitalism will be around for all eternity, the only kind of economic democracy left to imagine is one in which everyone is equally free to invest in the market.  [Thus] Freedom has become the right to share in the proceeds of one’s own permanent enslavement.

Whenever a genuinely democratic movement begins to emerge, particularly one based on principles of civil disobedience and direct action, the reaction is the same: the government makes immediate concessions (fine, you can have [your] voting rights) and then starts revving up military tensions abroad.  The movement is then forced to transform itself into a [weak, amorphous] anti-war movement

Consider the term “communism.”  Rarely has a term come to be so utterly reviled.

[But] In fact, communism really just means any situation where people act according to this [Marxist] principle: from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.

If, for example, two people are fixing a pipe and one says “hand me the wrench,” the other doesn’t say “and what do I get for it?” [What’s in it for me?]

[Instead] they apply the principles of communism because they’re the only ones that [truly] work.  [All real and sustainable progress requires collectivism, whereas individualism and selfishness inevitably produce only failure for large-scale endeavors.]

That’s why even Republican computer engineers trying to develop new software ideas tend to form small [or large] democratic collectives [to succeed].

[Thus] Communism is already here [and always has been].  The question is how to further democratize it. Capitalism, in turn, is just one possible way of managing communism.  [But] It has become increasingly clear that it’s rather a disastrous one.

All this makes it much easier to understand why capitalists are willing to pour such extraordinary resources into the [mass produced] machinery of hopelessness.

Debt is the most efficient means ever created to make relations [between individuals] fundamentally based on violence and inequality seem [somehow] morally upright.  [But] When this trick no longer works everything explodes.

Think of the promise made by capitalism: we can live like kings if [only] we are willing to buy stock in our own collective subordination [to hopelessness].  [But now, today] All of this has come crashing down. What remains is what we are able to promise one another directly, without the mediation [and subjugation] of economic and political bureaucracies. The revolution [our revolution] begins by asking what sort of promises do [truly] free men and women make one another and how, by making them, do we begin to make another [new] world?

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Comfortably Numb?

All men are created equal... - Thomas Jefferson

You own the banks and we pay the mortgages.

You control billions and leave us holding plastic cards.

You are bailed out and our capacity to sustain perpetual hopelessness foots the bill.

You own every asset and every government as we struggle to survive in the marketplace.

You own the factories and your salt, cholesterol and medicine courses through our veins.

But as long as your magic screen glows: blue, orange then green...  distracting us with stories of octuplets and single mothers with fourteen children, in every dwelling, on every night, in America...

Then we at least share something.

...the single goal of the industrial economy, from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, has been the highest possible margin of profit.  That is to say that its single motive has been greed.  The economy justifies itself as a sequence of innovations that it calls "progress."  But it is progress for the sake of the biggest possible profit.  Industrialism [corporatism] is the most effective system ever devised for the concentration of wealth and power.  Its most characteristic "progress" has been the increasing ability to concentrate wealth and power into fewer and fewer hands.
- Wendell Berry

Sunday, February 01, 2009

My House My Fetish

This is our house.  And as houses go I hope it reveals something about me.  For example:

  • I'm middle class.
  • Like most of the American middle class, I'm simultaneously materialistic and narcissistic.
  • But unlike most Americans at least one of my fetishes is for saving beautiful and old things that arguably warrant preservation.

But my wife and I have never deluded ourselves that any old house we've borrowed substantially to own, in title (rather oxymoronic isn't it?), ultimately to restore, was an investment.

Because houses are not investments.  They are, in varying degrees, material fetishes.  At their best, houses are dwell-able, domestic works of art commensurate with household assets earned (or inherited) under a private capital system.  Often larger than need be and, today, mostly showy and impractical in much the same way that America has become showy and impractical in my lifetime.  Shining visage above.  Substantial rot beneath.

And rotten and impractical are seldom more than predictors for abject failure.

Our house is comprised of massive granite stones, laid up by hand in 1890, at the height of the Victorian work ethic (and worker exploitation) as well as the peak of Montana's robber baron era of gold, silver and copper extraction.  That it has largely survived the ensuing Panic of 1893, at least two major earthquakes, urban renewal, and a host of other, mostly human contrived, maladies is testament to America and humankind's capacity to share and to propagate fetishes across generations through culture.

But it is not an investment and it never will be!

Anyone that earlier profited selling this (or any) American house was lucky.  But such luck was a byproduct, one of many such random American windfalls that are hopefully byproducts of moral, sustainable choice.

And OH MY, but how times have changed! 

Today, American investment firms routinely hold 2.5% of their assets as capital reserves, if at all.  Today, American wealth is a measure of social and academic status determining indirect corporate or direct political access to Washington's printing presses.  Today, America is a collapsing house of cards, run into the ground by a politburo of  secret haters and the Harvard MBA money changers they work for.

For thirty years, the sham metastasized behind a veil of Ronald Reagan, Hollywood illusions.  Until today when, despite Obama, too much of America's leadership class is as hollow, mean, selfish and destructive as its front runners -- as people like Rush Limbaugh or Paris Hilton.

Thus, my bailout package for my country and its too weak Democracy is this: lay it up or tear it down; dig a hole and fill it up again -- in the end it matters not one twit.  History values sustainability.  And without us, the faith bearing, hard working, collective underclass, and without leaders, enforcing and ennobling the essential human values inherent in any long lived culture, then something from nothing (a k a Wall Street; a k a Washington; a k a paper money) ends in nothing all the same.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Quote of the Month

When you don't know where you're going, it's probably best not to speed up!  Jeff Mackie, Fast Money, CNBC

Translation: making the rich whole is not going to make the world (or even the U.S.) whole!  This is because since Reagan, GDP has become an Armageddon ticker, not a measure of progress.

Thus our planet is past due in concentrating on what works and is arguably sustainable.  Unfortunately it is not status quo United States of America.

So now that the post WW2 baby boom joke's basically over, we, the little people, need just one thing: solidarity -- so the joke is on everyone and not just us.