Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Some historical crisis have had their balladeers. Woody Guthrie for the Depression. Marat for the French Revolution. Eisenstein for the Russian. But the minstrel of this final collapse of the West is a faceless analyst buried in a London newspaper article about the increase in the top income tax rate in Britain from 45% to 61%. He blythely made the following statement:
"Those in this income bracket tend to plan their tax affairs more thoroughly, so they will be exploring ways to legitimately mitigate these higher charges."
The swansong of economic collapse. Atlas is shrugging all over the place. Social Democracy has gone into Chapter 11. The people responsible for the reorganization have no reverence for or allegiance to free enterprise or even freedom itself. But the problem is that free enterprise is entirely responsible for the current standard of living and that free enterprise can't exist without effective political freedom.
Will the crop of geniuses that are now firmly in charge be able to turn to the powerful interest groups who created this mess and say no to them? Will they tell AARP that the state is broke and that the Social Security recipients are faced with a default? Will they stand firm and tell the Public Employee Unions that the money has run out? Will they tell huge corporations that the days of protection and subsidies are over? Will they tell the ecologists that a prosperous economy is built on cheap energy and that nuclear and coal are back on the table? Will they end all government involvement in subsidizing college students and tell professors that tenure doesn't protect them from layoffs? Will they abandon the bankrupt Medicare-Medicaid system? The crowd of parasites is endless and in one way or another includes us all. Will the Current Leaders turn to each and every one of these angry and deserving entitlistas and loudly and firmly yell, "Enough!"
They'll be forced to do just that by the time this is done...and more. The Welfare State is collapsing. It was always unsustainable. There were people in the nineteen thirties who looked at the beginning of the trend and were able to see its end. Others took a lesson from the collapse of the Second World-- the crumbling of the Communist East. People might think that China is somehow immune to this current chaos, by the way, but that is not true. Giant top-down statist systems are all in equal trouble. Economic planning is the problem, but is universally seen by the Ivy League educated elites in business and government and certainly by the bloodthirsty commies in Beijing as the solution. Wealth is seen as a function of agreements and subparagraphs, adjustments in interest rates and careful planning. Risk, initiative, creativity and enterprise are scorned, even in the private sector. If you can't calculate something using statistical analysis it is anarchic and unsupportable. But risk, initiative, creativity and enterprise are just the factors that create wealth. 61% tax rates and economic planning boards that are packed with fanatical anti-business ecologically obsessed ex-academics are the stuff of poverty.
'Our New Happy Life' said Orwell and he had it right, right down to interactive TV. The adjustment to grinding poverty will no doubt be accompanied by a wave of social unrest that will neccesitate some 'temporary emergency measures' that will include your TV watching you back. Most people wont care. Legal drugs and free video games will keep most people happy. The few 'conservative' malcontents can be easily ignored as the Flat-Earthers are today. The only opposition groups will be rival political gangs with the bureaucracies conducting purges against each other in an all-out war for power.
Happily, I'm old. I've lived a hand-to-mouth existence in the film industry so even though there were some very fat years there were plenty of lean ones to teach me some humility and toughen me up a bit. I need very little. The world can go to hell in a handbasket and I'll try to accept my own part of the general misfortune with as much grace and courage as I can muster. If you read back posts on my blog you will know that I have been expecting this for a couple of years, although the reality is daunting and frightening. Bring on the Change, Barry.
Monday, November 24, 2008
The Fed is poised to 'lend' an additional $7.4 trillion to financial institutions on top of the $2.8 trillion they've already 'leant' to the banks since the beginning of this crisis a few weeks ago. The gross national product of this country is $13 trillion. Obama and the Dems are heading to DC to hand some pathetically tiny $200 billion or so 'stimulus package' to the peasants. Meanwhile every Blue State in the country is collapsing in a sea of red ink and will surely be bailed out by the munificent Big Brother. The Feds have still got some of that Fan-Fred $700 bil that they're handing out to cover the phony mortagages. The line at the bailout door grows daily. With all this stimulation and two-buck gas we should be in a howling boom, our phones ringing off the hook from calls from desperate employers trying to lure us from our current jobs with higher pay.
Its nice to know that the government has an extra ten or fifteen trillion bucks on hand to help us all through these tough times. Its must be those foreign investors clamoring to grab a piece of the coming Obama Boom lending us the money to stand behind these 'loans' to the banks who were impoverished by the government removing all qualifying criteria from lending. So we all received dozens of credit card offers, whether we had a job or not. Lets party! After all we all have hundreds of thousands of dollars in equity from these frame and drywall shacks we were clever enough to buy. A country of millionaires...on paper. Real Estate never goes down, you see.
OOPS! a slight miscalculation. Meanwhile every parasite and overpaid public official have sat back, content that they had enough political juice to protect their 'right' to a cushy livetime job, followed by a fat pension; the social security recipients just had to snivel in front of the TV cameras in phony interviews set up by AARP and big new 'benefits' are added to their 'entitlements': rural corporations grow fat off ethanol subsidies and the waste ground is covered by non-functioning windmills and broken solar panels, all collecting a hefty subsidy check. The list of recipients is endless and probably includes everyone in the country and a whole bunch of foreigners. As government grows its so easy to hide favors and handouts in the thousand-paged appropriation bills and after all, we all win!
Now the 401k's are headed for worthlessness, the fat government and union pension plans are holding 'paper' assets that aren't worth the paper their written on--bonds issued by the state and municipal governments that their improvident wage and benefit demands have bankrupted. WHAT?! Those pensions are a right! Aren't they?
Is this the first time that socialism has been achieved by putting the entire free economy in receivership. Everything collapses and the government takes over and runs it according to a Five-Year-Plan. That'll work. Good times ahead.
But where are they getting all this money? It must be all the cash that was accumulating in the 'Social Security Trust Fund' in Algore's lock-box. Ummm...I guess they put all those 'contributions' into the general fund ; anyway Social Security is about to take on millions of new recipients as soon as they pass 'Immigration Reform'. Just ship the abuelos north and put'em on the dole...there's plenty of money!
With all this money floating around why aren't we all rich? Because money is a reflection of the ability of the economy to produce wealth. The ability of this economy to produce wealth is shrinking as the inexorable demands of the recipients of subsidies are expanding enormously.
The corollaries of socialism are poverty and inflation and we are seeing it happen before our eyes. We are also seeing the electorates turning to Big Brother in the hope that they will get something for nothing. I grew up in Las Vegas among hustlers and cheats. The working definition of a sucker in that world is someone who wants something for nothing. That's a good definition in any world. Its also a good definition of the average voter.
Another thing that happens to suckers, or chumps as they are also known, is that there is a moment when they realize that they've been hornswoggled. Conservatives dream that that will be the day that the herd turns to Milton Freedman and FA Hayek and demands rational reforms. Don't bet on it. Tyranny and mob violence are much more likely. Democracy got us into this mess by empowering interest groups to grab control of the system and milk it. Democracy will not get the demands of all these disparate groups under control. Scarce resources will have to be allocated by fiat. Period. Thats Change We Can Believe In!
Monday, November 17, 2008
Ah. its November! It's nice to step outside and watch the tiny white flakes floating down... can Christmas, oops sorry, I used the 'C' word, Winter Break be far away? Of course these white flakes aren't exactly the same as the ones you might be experiencing in Denver or Cleveland; they come from the communities upwind who are being incinerated by giant brush fires which are enhanced by bone-dry sixty mile-an-hour winds blowing off the desert like the wind from a giant bellows.
Those of you who cant afford a California vacation are in luck. All you need is a trash can full of hay or dried yard clippings and two electric fans. Crank the old furnace up to 95 degrees, put some lighter fluid in the trash can, ignite it, use your dimmer switch to turn your lights down to about half-power and replace a couple of the white bulbs with red ones and turn the fans on full blast and you can pretend you're in Beverly Hills. If the smoke is thick enough you can pretend your wife is naomi Watts. This ultra-hot winter weather is sometimes described by the natives as 'earthquake weather' so you might want to hire a giant truck filled with cement to drive by your house a few times so you can really groove on the Cali experience as it shakes ominously. An illegal alien with a leaf blower outside your window at seven AM could enhance the realism.
Black soot is everywhere. Even with the windows shut it leaks in and creates little piles in the windowsills and around the doors. the cats come in from the hillside reeking of smoke as though they had just had lunch with kitty-cat Satan. For some reason the last few nights have been punctuated with coyote howls. Its like listening to a barbershop quartet that likes to eat raw cats and possums. The traveling band of coyotes that live on this hillside are back in our area so we round the cats up and shut them in early on these dim evenings. Its so dry that a half-hour after the sprinklers went off I stepped out into the back yard and it was so dry that I checked to see if they had malfunctioned by running another cycle...fifteen minutes after I did that it was bone-dry again.
A sure sign of impending doom is when the phone rings and my mother-in-law in London is on the other end asking if we're all right. That means that in the UK TV news is showing pictures of burning houses and people being evacuated. We've had fires a lot closer, one where we could see the tongues of flame leaping up over the ridge-line but the smoke from this latest batch is the worst we've ever had. So I'm sitting in my house with the windows shut and the AC on in mid-November.
Luckily our esteemed Mayor Viva-la-raza (Viaragosa) has had to stop performing gay marriages in his office temporarily and is ready to take action. Fortunately the large majority of this season's brushfires are outside the city limits as this particular mayor has screwed up everything he's touched and his active participation in the management of this emergency would easily cause half the city to be engulfed in flames. The clouds of smoke and soot have also put the kybosh on the angry anti-Prop 8 demonstrations. Yes the Neanderthals managed to pass a California Constitutional Amendment against gay marriage but before you guys start getting too upset you should remember that we are in the district of the Ninth Circus Court of Appeals which is about to be topped up by Obama and the sixty-dem Senate with an even more lawless and looney crowd of jurists who will be happy to show their contempt for the Morman and Born-Again scum that managed to convince the voters to pass this ballot measure. All conservative ballot measures are always unconstitutional. I voted against Prop 8, by the way, just in the interest of full disclosure. All the commercials were trying to scare me by saying that the schools will be forced to teach lids about homosexualty. If kids in California schools learn their Gay Studies lessons as well as their math and reading lessons this will be the butchest state in the union in no time. Now if there was a ballot measure that was against teaching these little geniuses that carbon emissions affect the climate, a really destructive lie, then I would vote for that.
A lot of things have been hidden under the cloud of smoke. Cali's deeping budget mess and the huge layoffs of Public Employees and giant tax increases are working their way forward silently and uncovered by the media who love a good car chase or a hillside full of celebrity mansions aflame but hate anything to do with budgets or appropriations. The Governator flies his private carbon-blasting jet from fire to fire, handing out emergency funds borrowed using California's DDD-junk bond credit status from the Red Chinese Army using the citizens of San Diego as collateral. It the state defaults everybody from La Jolla south to the border has to go live in China and work in smoke-belching factories adulterating wheat glutens and toothpaste with industrial chemicals 18 hrs a day for a dollar...or a Yuan, the dollar will soon be completely worthless. At least they'll have jobs.
I looked for a historical parallel for the New Age Of Obama and I decided that the reign of Charles The Silly in France was probably the most appropriate. The Black Death stalked the land as did the Black Prince and his army of thugs and murderers. Trade and commerce were at a standstill and the king's consort, the lovely Odette, threw huge banquets for the licentuos crowd of barons who actually ran the kingdom. Banquets where the king sat on the floor with the household hunting dogs howling for a bone to gnaw. Just like Obama will be with the New Age Senate. This is it America, its Chuck Schumer's way or the highway, with no gas and cameras that give you an automatic ticket every time you pass.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
In the beginning the French Revolution was a reaction to a fiscal crisis. The King called a special session of the legislature (a really special session, the Estates General hadn't met in over a century) to raise taxes to cover a deficit that was about to consume the entire government. The Ancien Regime ran at a dead loss. Pensioners, parasitic aristocrats, a growing and cancerous bureaucracy, huge interest payments on existing debt and the degenerate luxury of the royal court, all fixed expenses that could not be cut, were outstripping the expected revenue to the point where people who were looking at the numbers rationally were becoming very alarmed.
So the legislature came together with the word 'change' on every lip. But this wasn't a legislative problem. The harvest had failed and the price of bread was ruinous to the average person. Taxes and overregulation were strangling business. The powerful hereditary class of aristocrats had contempt for business and the vulgar nouveau riche who were making large amounts of money in the private sector. They moved to reign in and confiscate the obscene excess wealth of these upstarts, depressing the economy and inhibiting new enterprises. The France of Louis XVI wasn't anywhere near as robust and wealthy as the France of Louis XIV but the fixed outlays were much bigger. What was the result? Chaos and anarchy, followed by a one-man dictatorship.
Here we are two centuries later. Once again beset by immovable 'fixed costs'. The interest groups, local state and national who run the government look on any cut in the rate of growth as an assault on their human rights and the timid cronies they've maneuvered into positions of power are far more likely to resort to robbing the public than they are to anger their sponsors and allies. After all, everybody, from the poorest to the richest gets some kind of a subsidy.
If you're poor there are myriad agencies and benefits that you can access. Food Stamps, Medicaid, Housing subsidies, Earned Income Tax Credit, the list is endless. If you're middle class your children can attend formerly out-of-reach universities run by the beneficent state. Vast bureaucracies and agencies sprawl across the landscape staffed with the middle class in their millions. These folks bask in the knowledge that they have lifetime jobs with a nice fat retirement check awaiting them at fifty-five so they can hop in the Winnebago and drive aimlessly around on the Interstates annoying the children who moved thousands of miles away to get away from their parents.
The rich have become adept at paying their legislators to write subsidies into the giant omnibus budget bills that have become so popular wherever lawmakers meet to 'craft' a budget. Most legislators and their cronies are as moderate in their demands on the public purse as those presented to the trembling and unarmed Romans by the King of the Visigoths as he stood outside their gates with an army of warlike barbarians. The wrathful and 'entitled' politicians now stand inside the gates backed by a swelling army of Senior Citizens who expect their every whim to be catered to instantly, an education bureaucracy that swells like a pig's bladder, farmers wanting bigger payoffs, unions wanting cash to bail out the enterprises they've bankrupted with their unreasonable demands and every variety of idealist and do-gooder all needing more federal cash than last year to shepherd in the new Nirvana.
The Iron Rice Bowl. That is the ultimate distillation of socialism. You own your job as a right. You cant be fired, your pay goes up because its increases are automatically written into an agreement pegged to the 'cost of living'. Health care is a right. Being able to retire and collect a pension that allows you to live comfortably is a right. High real estate prices and bogus mortgages that you never have to pay off are a right. You have a right to cheap food and cheap energy. Smooth roads and adequate police and fire protection. The right to attend university if you can spell your name on the entry form. We've all got lots of expensive rights.
Meanwhile, the idealists have launched on a crusade to fix the weather. Even though global temperatures have been declining for more than a decade and there is absolutely no empirical data linking carbon dioxide with climate change the new crowd has already announced its enthusiastic commitment to the most expensive and inefficient technologies to generate electricity and their enthusiastic opposition to any form of energy that involves fire or radiation. Promethius was tortured by the Gods for giving mankind the gift of fire, now the Democrats are giving that earth-destroying present back with a sneer of contempt written on their New Age visages. The crippling increase in electric bills will be passed on the the herd either in higher rates or higher taxes to subsidize this idiocy. The New Jacobins have also hatched a scheme called 'Cap and Trade' which is like a game of Three Card Monty where businesses are charged taxes for any carbon or anything else that they emit into the atmosphere.
The right to own a private automobile, erroneously taken for granted in the minds of the moronic Voters For Change, is an illusion that will be revealed for the stupidity that it is when the Weather Police get rolling and cripple the oil companies. Soon GM will be like Uruguay Airlines under the socialist government there in the 1960's; tens of thousands of employees but not a single airplane. The government subsidized auto workers will be sitting in their idle auto plants collecting full wages and bennies from the hand of the taxpayer.
Like France in 1789 the problem is not how the system is being run or which faction is running the system, its the unsustainablity of the entire enterprise. Blue State governments and large cities, all run on a one-party basis by Democrats and dominated by the rapacious Public Employee Unions, have now reached bankruptcy. So has the UAW-destroyed automobile industry. Forcing the banks to make loans to welfare cases, cronies and seedy deadbeat speculators has destroyed the banking system. The final coup de gras was the ocean of computer-generated cash poured into the credit system to smoothe over the wreckage of sound business principles and ensure de facto government control of the financial system-- the condition that caused the crash in the first place.
But the biggest beneficiaries of the funny-money loans were the middle class who moved into overpriced six thousand square foot clapboard shacks and imagined they had a million dollars worth of equity after two years of ownership which would allow them to endlessly 'refinance' every time they maxed out their credit cards. Thats the greatest thing about all this government intervention...everybody wins! Sniveling about trivia like sound business practices and free trade or even esoterica like 'free speech' or 'property rights' is for the few remaining conservative crackpots. Rejecting the flaccid Keynsianism of the beady-eyed Bushites or the outright Marxism of the incoming pack of geniuses puts one on the outskirts of society with the Ron Paulians and other political outcasts. The system is seen as immutably rock-solid and permanent by the vast majority, who are upset that there has been a temporary downturn but look to the intervening hand of the state to set things right.
Its not going to happen. An economist named Dougherty from Chapman University made a very credible case on the radio yesterday for a $1.5 trillion deficit for this fiscal year just based on the things that have been implemented already or are being proposed for the lame-duck session of Congress that will usher in The New Age Of Change. He's living in a dream world if he thinks its going to be that low. If the Dems arent going to let the UAW take the hit for ruining the auto industry, or Fannie and Freddie for ruining the banking industry and tanking real estate prices are they going to let their beloved Public Employee Unions pay for the state and local governments that have been brought low by their greedy rapacity? Will they let California and New York default on their bonds? Joe The Plumber defaulting on his mortgage, credit card and car payments, his unemployed kids throwing up their hands and walking away from $200,000 worth of unpayable student loan debt is one thing, the State Of California walking away from the worthless paper the voters have been authorizing is quite another. Actually, they're the same thing. The Perestroika that Gorbachev has been urging on Obama has arrived already. Just like it did in the Good Old Soviet Union-- which most of the people surrounding Obama supported over Reagan before they switched their admiration over to the Islamonazis.
If California bonds are worthless that means all bonds are worthless unless the Feds buy them with more computer cash. That means that low-interest Federal bonds are effectively worthless as is the US Dollar. That wipes out the reserves and investments of every other country on earth. The statists now in charge of the planet do not have the intellectual wherewithal or the philosophical underpinning to deal with this. But they'll be too busy implementing the Law Of The Sea Treaty and the Kyoto Accords to worry about an economic meltdown until its too late. Its already too late. The dinosaurs are arguing about how many electric fans to set up to fend off the approaching asteroid and whether turning on so many fans will cause Global Warming.
On his deathbed Louis the XV was heard to mutter, "Apres moi, le deluge." Most thought he was referring to his idiot son who was about to become king in his place, and that was certainly part of it, but he was looking at the oncoming crackup and thanking God for taking him before the flood hit. As the poet William S Burroughs said, "I dont want to be around when this sh!thouse blows up!" Burroughs had the good sense to check out a few years ago, probably defaulting on huge debts to heroin dealers and sundry other tradesmen and leaving the rest of us on the bare surface of the Earth contemplating the media's idiot son about to be coronated and watching with trembling fear the expanding shadow of the oncoming meteorite.
Friday, November 7, 2008
In my digital donkey-work FX job my only luxury is that I get to listen to music without being bothered from 4:30 pm to 3:30 am four days a week. I've really been plowing through my CD collection and borrowing music from others like mad and burning copies. I'm going over to my son's house after a quick trip into Burbank to connive for free-lance work and grab a bunch of his old ones. He's long since digitized his whole music collection so I can browse through the boxes in his garage and take what I want. One of my favorite rediscoveries amongst my own dust-covered CDs was the soundtrack to 'Repo Man', a punk-rock movie about how tough the Reagan Years were. Hey! Here's a catchy tune...
in a sluggish economy
hits the land of the free
standing in unemployment lines
blame the government for hard times
we just get by
however we can
we all gotta duck
when the sh*t hits the fan
10 kids in a cadillac
stand in lines for welfare checks
let's all leach off the state
gee!the money's really great!
free loaves of bread
5lb blocks of cheese
bags of groceries
has run out on you and me
we do whatever we can
gotta duck when the sh*t hits the fan
Or when America's Chickens Come Home To Roost! And them rascals are roosting all over! But that's OK. We've elected a raft of Social Engineers who are going to rescue the economy and the whole country and make everything fair. How do I know? They've got computer models to prove it! The same kind of computer models that prove Global Warming even as the glaciers expand and threaten Bangor, Maine are now going to model and regulate all economic activity.
One time, in the midst of some monumental screw-up, Curly turned to Moe and said proudly, "This is so easy a moron could do it!" Moe replies, "So why dont you get one to help you?" Why not, indeed? Obama and the Democrats are getting more than one moron to help them. The fluorescent-glowing halls of government and the ivy-walled towers of academia are currently being combed for the most extreme morons available. Morons who reject free Trade and vow to tax businesses who think about going offshore into bankruptcy. Morons who reject the secret ballot in union elections. Morons who want to create a 'Cap And Trade' system to fix the weather that was implemented in Europe a few years ago. It was a policy so disastrous that even the Hegelian Euros were forced to abandon it as their economies went in the tank. But our economy is already in the tank.
Ahhh! The Enlightened Social Theories abound! The buggy-eyed totalitarian leftists are geared up like a bunch of speed-freaks who just filled a phony prescription for Desoxyn and are ravening to punish the ignorant proletarians for their decades-long rejection of extreme leftist candidates. They've been putting James Brown's 'The Big Payback' on a loop in their Ipods and dancing a happy ji...better just forget that word... dancing a happy dance. These power-hungry theorists are going to take the 'offensive speech' codes from the halls of academe and apply them to everybody they dont like. Hate speech, you know. Cant wait for that. William F Buckley once stated that he'd rather be governed by people picked at random from the phone book than the faculty of Harvard. Oops! Its too late to say you're sorry. If WFB was alive today he'd roll over in his grave. He would also be pilloried as a racist; everyone knows Harvard Faculty is a code-word for African Americans.
In the Age Of Enlightenment in the last half of the eighteenth century two great thinkers emerged; Adam Smith and Jean Jacques Rousseau. Both defined philosophies which had immense consequences in the development of our current society.
Adam Smith believed in the Invisible Hand of the market. He was the prophet of the Industrial Revolution and the Age Of Information. Societies that employed Smith's principals were the freest and most wealthy ever in the history of human civilization. The free-market economics of Smith led to a human race which had conquered hunger and disease, which sped from place to place with undreamed of rapidity, in which communications went from galloping speed to instantaneous speed-of-light realtime psychedelic blur-speed. A world in which childbirth didn't kill one in six mothers and childhood one in four children. A world in which women were free to have sex lives of their own without having to chain themselves to early marriage and endless childbearing. An Arcadia.
Jean Jacques Rousseau had a different idea. He believed that primitive societies were the most fair and happy. The reason for this was the 'Social Contract', a mutual and generally unspoken agreement that defined everyone's rights and responsibilities. In simple societies this was generally seen as being more fair. More complex societies are more often dominated by small cliques of greedy and power-hungry men who skew the social contract to their private benefit and to the detriment of the general public. Rousseau posited that if the most enlightened people in society would consciously write a social contract they could vastly improve the lot of the common man and realize the utopian dream of perfection and happiness.
As Smith's ideas generated the Industrial Revolution so Rousseau's generated the French and Russian Revolutions. The misery experienced by common people being taken from the land and yoked to the industrial harness was nothing compared to the brutality of these two revolutions. Both were attempts at social engineering on a scale never before envisioned. But when Robespierre, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Hitler, Mussolini, Juan Peron, Mugabe and myriad others tried to fashion their ideal societies by a 'Triumph Of The Will' these determinist crusades always ended in total destruction and disaster. Less brutal methods were tried in Western Europe after World War 2. Britain, which had won the war but had then gone on a binge where the government nationalized most heavy industry, still had a bleak poverty and rationing seven years after the war ended. Germany, which had been completely physically destroyed but whose government had been created by a bunch of free-marketeers, was undergoing a boom. But the Germans waded into the fever-swamp of socialism and stagnation as soon as the rebuilding was done. Soon the only brake on the socialism of Europe was the giant gravitational pull of America.
The failure of government planning is manifest. Countries which had it were always basket-cases. But rising above the statist soup there was always one beacon, one light to which every face hoping for freedom or economic well-being would turn; America. The word is magic in the world. People everywhere know more about America than they do about any other foreign country. America is the hope that you can live a decent, happy life without oppression or fear. The consumerist culture that flowed from America's economic freedom created a world market, laced together by the internet and instant communications overwhelmed the entire world. How did five percent of the worlds population outdistance the other ninety-five percent?
Freedom. Capitalism. Rule of law. That's how. None of which have any relevance to the claque of social engineers who will be flinging the mush-soft retarded bureaucrats of the Bush Administration out of their cushy sinecures in the vast structure of the federal government and putting their Soviet claws on the levers of power. Six weeks into this new session of Congress people will be stunned at what a monster they've bred. These dudes want a finger in every pie and if you dont like it you're an unpatriotic, racist, greedy, self-serving, corrupt Enemy Of The People. We didn't elect Jimmy Carter we've elected Hugo Chavez. As times get tough that will be apparent.
The application of only a few of these 'cures' for the economy will have the same effect that draining two pints of blood and branding with a hot iron had on Medieval fever patients. Extreme measures will be taken to exorcise the demons of unfairness and selfishness and make the system work for the little guy. The new social contract. The old social contract, the one that built this country is obsolete. Now we get a level of government planning that will take your breath away. The few hundred thousand miserable wretches who starved to death as a result of corn being diverted into ethanol will become a few hundred million as the global subsidies that basket-case economies like Egypt and Pakistan feed off of dry up instantly. the Saudi Arabia of food is about to cut its production drastically. Let the Saudi Arabia of oil deal with that.
So now we march, with our faces into the glowing sunrise, into the New Age Of Change. Soon our benefactors will be issuing us restive peasants a donative under the rubric of a 'tax refund' in the hope that we will spend it at Mattress City instead of buying stock in General Motors, therefore expanding the economy greatly. In fact, we're buying General Motors whether we like it or not, or at least our pals in DC are going to buy it on our behalf. The sound of dominos hitting each other is deafening. I feel like Leonardo DiCaprio laying on the top of the upended Titanic, waiting for the plunge.
My wife tells me I'm an obsessive Right Wing Nut whose worm-eaten brain has been warped beyond repair by Talk Radio. Maybe she's right.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Last night we watched the effective demise of the Republican Party. The dissolution of the Republicans as a separate political entity started the day they didn't stand up to The Clintons. As it became clear what a lawless, corrupt thug BJ was a true opposition party would have attacked him every day and every way pointing out what he was until he resigned, just like the left did to Nixon. Instead they stood aside and watched Newt be savaged and acquiesced as the Clintons effectively choose a giant, bloated, waddling caricature of a corrupt politician, Dummy Hastert, to be Speaker Of The House. The Big Dummy was so hopelessly ineffective that it made any majority possessed by the Republicans nearly meaningless. Meanwhile in the Senate Dole and Frist were trying to compromise with glassy-eyed zealots like Schumer and Kennedy. Slowly all ideological pretense was leached away from the party. The party of The Contract With America became the party of The Bridge To Nowhere. Average people saw it clearly. While the Democrats were skillfully pretending to be what they weren't, middle-of-the-road and honest, the hapless Republicans settled into a comfy life growing fat on kickbacks paid for favors received in the harsh glare of a media which was serving the revolution by discrediting its opponents. The party of Newt Gingrich became the party of Ted Stevens.
So the party that stood by too polite to point out the Clintons open corruption stood silently by while Bush's opponents heaped him with calumnies devoid of any truth. No epithet was too vile to apply to Bush. Was there any response? Were people supposed to sit there while the media attacked Bush's policies and just take it on faith that Bush was trying to do the right thing? How could they when he goes to MALDEF and Ted Kennedy and gets them to write an Immigration Bill and tried to sneak it through the Congress without any debate? What were they to think when he signs a bill to effectively federalize education (No Child Left Behind)? Or when he nominates his liberal counselor for an open Supreme Court seat. As leaks poured from the Permanent Bureaucracy to their friends in the press there was never any response by the Bush Administration. Its almost as though Bush rejected Machiavelli and chose being loved over being feared; his reward for being so stupid was to be neither loved nor feared.
The ideas of freedom, individuality, and capitalism have disappeared. The old myths of 'America' are jokes among the people. First Amendment, whats that? I can post anything I want on U-tube, cant I? Last night at work I heard people happily talking about how Obama was going to get them better jobs by ending outsourcing. The idea that tripling the costs of production would end any chance of them getting a better job ever, was foreign to them. The thought that our employer was about to receive a giant tax increase both for his business and and personally and that that might threaten their ability to keep the job that they had now was also blissfully absent. The thought that they were about to be press-ganged into a Union didn't bother them until I mentioned that the Union charges two weeks pay to inductees. Too late now, its going to happen.
But since The War On Poverty the state has been growing and metastasizing in the body of a formerly healthy country. The role of the government and the cut it takes of all wealth has expanded steadily and almost without opposition by the Republicans, until there were no real differences or disagreements between the two parties; they had become the Crips and the Bloods of a hundred statehouses and legislative chambers. They fought over turf by slinging slogans at each other. The Democrats cared about the children and the Republicans were protecting America's values but it had all been reduced to twaddle by a gusher of cash. Except that even in the great corrupting surge of money that was pouring into DC the Democrats remained true to their values. Self-serving corruption and leftist totalitarianism go hand in hand. The Republicans committed their felonies furtively with timid hearts. When confronted they stood before the dock trembling with shame. When Chuck Schumer was caught feloniously making public a political opponent's credit records he smiled and walked up to the cameras and bragged about it. When William Jefferson was caught with $90,000 of bribe money stashed in his office he was successful at keeping his seat on a powerful house committee. How dare they insist that he step down? Democrats smoke crack, run gay whorehouses in their basement, openly sell government land to companies run by their children, get way-below-market loans on marked down real estate from lenders whose regulation they oversee, they take bribes from Chinese street gangs. Nobody cares. Certainly not the voters.
So now the turf war is over. The Cripocrats have wasted the Bloodpublicans and have achieved effective one-party rule. All government employees are in accord with them. All Unions are on board. All the Non-profits. 100% of academia is dancing in the streets. Soon the sun will begin to set on the opposition. Talk radio will be shut down, the internet policed. The already-failing Old Media will be nationalized and brought even more totally to heal than it is now. School curricula will be mandated by the Feds to become even more rigidly propagandistic. Capital will fly or be taxed into oblivion. We will be living in a One Party State. A Venezuela-style kleptocracy.
This was truly the Storming Of The Bastille. The New Age will begin with a flurry of legislation from a party unified and directed by fanatics who will brook no opposition. Usually 'The First Hundred Days' is a tired cliche, but not this time. In a previous post I quoted Old King Log...all the poisons which lurk in the mud will rise and hatch out. Deficits will be ignored and now that money doesn't even need to be printed trillions of dollars will be created electronically. That will take care of the trillions of dollars in unfunded liabilities. The pitiful opposition will either be co-opted or swatted like flies. Senator Schumer has already labeled talk radio 'political pornography' soon to be made unprofitable by a more onerous the 'Fairness Doctrine'. Opposing Obama during the election was described as racism, what will opposition to The Obama Administration be described as? If paying taxes is patriotic what will happen to those unpatriotic souls who protest the confiscatory tax rates which are inevitable in the presence of a hungry bureaucracy? With a judiciary picked for its 'empathy for the poor' anything can happen.
So all sanity has been abandoned as the ship of state drifts onto the reefs of nationalization and deficit spending. Cap and Trade, Card Check, automobile industry bailout, private pension and 401k confiscation and an immediate repeal of the Bush tax cuts, an immigration bill that will make MALDEF and Ted Kennedy proud; thats the first week. Also, there's the dying Kennedy's parting shot; the end of private medicine in this country, the effective nationalization of one seventh of the economy. The places an unchecked legislature can go will boggle the mind, especially when they're sending these monstrosities to a White House where they will be signed with pleasure. They will pass so many bills so quickly that the effect will hit all at once, probably by 2010. And there lies the hope that as things go south as a result of these disastrous policies, and the effect of them all being put into place will be a shock that will create chaos, that a new more resolute party will emerge to truly oppose the Mega-State. They will have the reality of socialism as their ally which will make them powerful indeed.
Monday, November 3, 2008
"Laissez-faire, c'est fini," said President Nicolas Sarkozy. "We will intervene massively whenever a strategic enterprise needs our money."
The column that I got this Sarkozy quote from was detailing the total statist mentality that has completely taken over in all the nations of Europe. Evans-Pritcherd, the author, very clearly lays out how statist intervention in free markets caused the current crisis and that the philosophy of free trade and free markets is completely absent from the political class that has grown up in the last twenty years.
Probably the first big crisis that Obama-Reid-Pelosi will deal with is the bankruptcy of the American automobile industry. Their first step will be to pass card-check so that the UAW can reduce Toyota and Honda to the same level of insolvency as GM and Ford. But that wont affect GM, Chrysler or Ford, they will need help within months. Soon people with no pension or savings will be paying taxes to protect the pensions of UAW members whose unreasonable demands have bankrupted the enterprises they worked for. Another cradle-to-grave liberal social scheme pays off in red ink. Those unions really were in the drivers seat for a while, weren't they? They still are. They make huge political payoffs to Democrats and will be rewarded with hundreds of billions of dollars for their investment. An entire state, Michigan, will soon have little economic life left besides a run down service sector catering to a pack of pensioned parasites. A true 'welfare state'.
Barak has promised to put the coal business into bankruptcy as well. Surely no responsible humanitarian would punish the innocent, black-begrimed, silicosis benighted coal-miner for the climatary sins of their greedy, earth-raping capitalist masters? I've been told that coal miners get mighty healthy pensions these days. We can just chalk it up to one of the minor expenses in the War Against Climate Change and just cover the pension tab out of the boundless public purse! As Caligula was heard once to say when someone questioned one of his many donatives, "Dont worry, there's plenty of money!"
Or was that Barak Obama? I get them confused sometimes. Both so like Gods you see. Last night I watched Barak as he laid the message of Change on a stadium full of keening chumps in Cincinnati. Just in that campaign speech were contained a trillion dollars worth of goodies to everyone. He basically promised Cadillac health care coverage to everybody, with the forty-nine million currently uninsured immediately given 'Congressional level' medical coverage. Luckily our medical system has that much unused capacity at its disposal. They might fund this one by rounding up the small businesses that would be the likely victims of a crippling federal mandate and strong-arming them into some kind of Omnibus Medical Plan so they dont all just drop all their employee's health coverage and let them join the Government Cadillac Plan.
Wow! The government will give Cadillac Health Care and make Cadillacs at the same time! Who needs a risky free market when you only have to tap into the geniuses emerging from our modern universities? A rise in the standard of living is certain. Maybe a good slogan will be, "Our New Happy Life". I like that. How do you say it in TextSpeak? R nu :) lif. Gee, imagine that, a new English-derived language with all the nuance and sublety removed. I vaguely remember reading a book that had that in it...but I cant recall the title. You know, that weird book where your TV was completely interactive. The one where The Ministry Of Plenty planned the economy, and what a great economy it was! Full employment for everyone.
In fact, its starting to look like the only thing Orwell got wrong was the date. To go back to the article I started with, the one about the total acceptance of Marxist economics, or as Evans-Pritcherd puts it, 'the Hegelian Broth', tomorrows election, whether a Democratic romp or a less damaging Republican last hurrah won't change the course of events at all. Will McCain let General Motors fall and make a speech reminding labor unions that excessive demands will lead to situations like this? No he wont. Will McCain support cheap energy as a way to jump start the free economy and help the auto makers? No he wont. Even if he wanted to do those things he would be prevented by the almost total opposition within the bureaucracy to any kind of free market policies.
Once, when I was a 13 year old starry-eyed worker for the Nevadans For Johnson campaign in 1964 one of my schoolmate's parents told me he was voting for Goldwater. This was in Nevada. These guys lived a few miles out of town on a few acres of tumbleweeds. The father made a living in a tiny two-man machine-repair business he ran out of a shed on his property and his old pickup truck. I used to go out there to ride horses out in the desert with my friend Steve. When his old man told me that he was voting for The Evil One I asked him why. He told me a story.
Once there was a little bird. A fox came to the bird with a fat worm he had dug up and offered the bird the worm in exchange for a feather. The bird had to work pretty hard to get himself a worm that fat so he plucked one of the tiny feathers from his underbelly, one he'd never miss, and traded it to the fox for a nice easy meal. Every day the same thing happened. The bird became fat and lazy and after a while he found that he no longer even wanted to fly. Thats when the fox ate him. Steve's dad said that liberty was a lot like that, if you trade it for a free meal then little by little you'll get weaker and weaker and then one day that selfsame meal will swallow up your freedom just like that bird got swallowed up. I didn't understand what he was talking about. What the hell do birds have to do with anything anyway? Whats for dinner?
Sunday, November 2, 2008
It dont look good. For McCain to win every poll has to be extremely wrong. Not just some of them, not just one or two of them but all of them. No matter how you slice it this looks like the end. Its depressing.
George Will today has a column pointing out that LBJ won and had vast majorities in Congress and that after Watergate in 1974 the Congress was swept clean of Republicans, setting the stage for what was effectively six years of Congressional rule. He forgot to mention 1992 when Clinton and the Democrats dominated both branches. According to Will the country survived all these Democratic victories quite nicely.
Or did it? Wasn't LBJ's victory in 1964 the beginning of the nation's unchecked slide into welfare-state socialism? Didn't the 1974 Democratic majority take the viable South Vietnamese nation, which had defeated the Viet Cong completely in the countryside and was holding off the North Vietnamese Army, and defund all military aid to the South? This set the stage for an NVA invasion and the throwing away of two decades of valiant efforts to keep the people in the south from the most brutal form of slavery ever known in human history. It also set in course a falling of dominoes in the Third World which came very close to losing the Cold War for the West. The Clinton victory ushered in an age where lies and corruption permeated the government. The rules and the truth were thrown out and a permanent state of war was declared on anyone who disagreed. Republicans or whistle blowers were destroyed as confidential government records, sealed divorce transcripts and supposedly sancrosanct medical records were combed and any juicy bits were handed to the increasingly partisan and compliant liberal media.
The public rewarded the Democrats for their misbehavior. The lies worked. Little by little the integrity of the system was eroded. Republicans were eager to 'cross the aisle' to accommodate this trend. Only a handful of stalwarts from states inhabited by the remaining few Americans who still believed in the old verities remained on the scene yelling unheard into the ether. After Clinton crushed Newt Gingrich and then torpedoed Livingston as his replacement a gigantic but feeble-minded creature named Dummy Hastert emerged to 'lead' the House Republicans away from the policies of the defeated Gingrich and Livingstone and into the boundless pasture of legislative corruption where they and their Democratic buddies were able to feed in groovy bi-partisan harmony on the dense fodder that an ever-expanding government could offer.
But now we are at the end game. The erosion of the integrity of the democratic system is at one with the erosion of the integrity of our social system. Mass media has so destroyed people's political consciousness that the whole concept of democracy and freedom has become meaningless. American's are so inured to debt that the swelling national debt and the geometric expansion of its unfunded obligations just reminds them of their own financial dilemma. They don't see that the system that they live in, that they have known since birth and which has been consistently raising their standard of living for the last 63 years, can fail.
But this last Democratic Party victory is indeed 'America's Chickens Coming Home To Roost'. The economic system which created the last burst of wealth will be stressed into a permanent decline, its innovative wealth creation strangled by a death-grip from intrusive regulators, confiscatory taxes, and predatory unions. This will drag the public sector into bankruptcy. It already has in New York, New Jersey and California. Without a trillion-dollar bailout these three states' governments will implode. Their bonds are probably as worthless as a pack of sub-prime mortgages. And who are the main holders of California Government Bonds? CALPERS, the pension fund that pays out outrageous retirement pensions to state employees who retire to live in luxury in their mid-fifties. That fund also was big in the bundled mortgage market. What would a California bond default do to those pensions?
But the voters of this state are fearless and believe in the future! When the hated Bush wouldn't fund embryonic stem-cell research the good citizens of this state passed a three-billion dollar bond measure to fund embryonic stem-cell research. Dozens of breakthroughs have resulted from this. I'm sure of it. Really. This year the buzz-word is 'alternative energy' and the bond issues infest the ballot to the tune of tens of billions. Throw in a few bill more for mass transit, children's hospitals, and veterans and add that to the ten billion dollars the state has to borrow just to pay its bills and you have the entire problem in a nutshell. There is no opposition party standing up and pointing out that all children in California are automatically insured by the state already and that the incoming Obama Administration is promising additional federal largesse to these already pampered prepubescents who might not really need an extra 3 billion dollars at this point. There is no opposition party pointing to the head-on collision with insolvency that our nation is facing from all these 'socially conscious' policies. So the happy morons of Cali will tromp happily to the polls and vote to hand a couple of billion borrowed dollars over to T. Boone Pickens.
The real estate bubble bursting was like the little chest pain and fluctuation from a mild heart attack. Now Obama is going to take power, put his big feet up on the desk and fire up a giant-sized Marlboro of taxes and spending to the applause of a befuddled electorate who has installed him to make their lives OK after the Evil Bush wrecked everything. He'll be chain-smoking these compassion ciggies and also laboring hard to make sure that the boys are all getting their cut, that's only fair. Lets hope that the national ticker can take it.