July 20, 2008
The United States of America is being swallowed by its own shallowness and greed. There is a wonderfully revealing article in the NY Times today with a revealing interactive graph of events during each decade. It is most remarkable that the savings rate which deteriorated badly in the Great Depression mirrors what is happening now, the collapse of savings. The difference is the debt levels then were conservative – the debt levels of the extreme 90s overboiled in the 2000s.
The Bush era has left a legacy that is far more damaging to the USA economy than it seems, all that debt has to be matched with savings, or you get a deficit, which is funds that the average US citizen owes to the oil producing OPEC countries. How exactly is the Government going to bail out the average citizen drowning in excess credit and crippling interest? By preventing millions of bankruptcies and foreclosures? Preventing banks from reselling properties at a huge discount? The bailouts of major mortage lenders proves this to be true. Bush has run the most socialist economy possible by making the middle class the needy class.
Where is the debt going to be absorbed? Deterioration in the value of the capital reserve? Does that means the grandchildren of the Bush years will be far less wealthy than those who benefitted from ridiculously biased tax breaks that has worsened the position of the average person to such a degree that they are now prisoners of credit card companies – owned by the intensely rich?
Seems like the most devastating blow delivered to everyday Americans is the mass transfer of effective wealth and ownership from American hands, from the Ma and Pa businessscape into the hands of corporatisation, increasingly foreign owned banks and retirement funds that seem more vulnerable by the minute.
Who’s fault? It seems that a country that eats its way to doom has a lack of direction in its culture as a major malady. Hip-hop had it’s social revolution, now with “Pimps and Bitches” being part of the mainstream conversation and “bling” having lost any bad ass connotation – that it was stolen – now it’s seen as a badge of billionary success – any excuse for radically masculine boys to wear diamonds.
Cultural decay – a kind of illiteracy – seems successful. All these make over reality wife swaps and inverted entertainments (Supernanny goes to visit you with her camera crew) are not really engaging people. They are just really cheap fomulae to execute, and like most cheap fodder, it bloats the mind with plenty of useless nonsense. That is cultural decay as it is consumable by anybody, and most do not want their entertinment to challenge them.
But challenging the mind is the entire point of entertainment. That is why the new generation of video games that are immersive, require you to think on your feet and enact a strategy. After fighting for months in some kind of imaginary desert scenario against “bad guys” – the futility and sheer quantity of death necessary – it becomes evident that war is an activity civilization should find absolutely abborhent; but, yet – at the onset of either Gulf war there was a palpable sense of “get on with it!”, and a sense of relief that the bombs had finally started to drop.
While America gets sucked into fruitless wars, Bush seems to have opened the floodgates for the Saudi establishment to buy more American capital with their oil wealth before the Green lobby replace a need for oil with a need for solar energy capture and wind farms rendering the end to this new age of slavery.
The American economy is huge and can still easily absorb this level of indebtedness – it’s the poverty created now that seems the real problem for far too many.
When did this start. Click on the heading of this article to view the NY Times interactive display (requires Adobe Flash Player). Hover over 1984. Observe the trend in savings. 1984 is the top of the mountain that has collapsed ever since. Savings is the degree of participation in ownership possible – the spoils of war. The USA may be able to walk in militarily but it may not be able to afford to “stay the course”, if it carries on with this trend. Even in the past four years savings as a fraction of debt is the worst its ever been, apart from the early 1930s when there were no savings, so America rebuilt by borrowing leading to gradual increase in capital, until 1984. What happened then? Oh yes, let’s see. Regan was elected.
July 13, 2008
Bush can go down in history as the self admitted greatest polluter in the modern world, in fact, ever. That his administration had done everything in its power to destroy the environment in favour of oil exploration and development, energy not to mention war and corporate criminality seems like a cynical joke to the senior members of it, not the life and death serious issue that the rest of humanity can see staring at it with deadly clearity. This is govenment of the people by delusion. The Bush administration wants to draw down soldiers from Iraq because they are needed in Afghanistan.
Of course they are. Just a few years late.
July 10, 2008
You can posture with spyplanes and missile tests all you like, but when you start lopping atomic bombs at each other you ruin most your own homes. Its the MAD principal that finally makes it so pointless. Iran is defying logic claiming not to have a nuclear weapon programme. The actions speak louder than their words. Having nuclear power plants inevitably leads to plutonium, weapons grade is quite feasible with plutonium. Why do you think there are so many atomic bombs in the world? Because the Governemnt has to do something with nuclear waste. Making bombs and thousands of them is what the Russian and US governments are ferociously guilty of – it will take years and years to decommission all these bombs. A defense system that when used spells the end of humantity and quality of life is not a defense system.
July 9, 2008
and how to avoid it
Is the world falling into some kind of recession? That is when growth starts to subside and things economically suck, but if one understands it right, then what it is seen as is the loss of confidence based on property ownership – a line of credit was generally loosened up for billions of home owners, a culture of being able to borrow against one’s mortgage increased leveraging and the profits were handsome so the banks continued to go further.
The tragedies that underlie sub-prime + the oil hunger – a direct consequence of the Iraq war + lack of real progress with the nuclear question = potential for another Depression. It is not just that bills will not get paid, it is that assets will lose their value, nobody will buy things and prices will start to fall. If that fall accelerates – the potential for severe economic storms becomes more likely.
The authority carried by Security Council decree against a country, especially one of its nuclear capable members, may help guide us from disaster. The only thing that makes “nuclear weapons” necessary is other nuclear weapons. What real point is there in having nuclear weapons? To conquer any chance of threat in case of unpredictable behaviour. After all humans have their finger on the button. The USSR had Breshnev. America has Bush. Both caused recession.
Both also fought with Afghanistan. Not that fighting Afghanistan has been the problem for America – but because they did not provide their full ferocity to win the war in Afghanistan with commitment, they still are at war with malign forces.
Sorry, Osama bin Laden, it is hard to admire a person who promotes the death of innocents. It was not bin Laden that alerted the world to George Bush’s America. Osama bin Laden is not doing the work of God. It is not definite that he is not working for his homeland.
Neither is the US military incursion into Iraq, although by doing that and by not wiping out the Taleban, and at the same time efforts to quell appear to be fanning the flames of nuclear trouble with Iran, well – one can only imagine the end game.
The Office of President is not being attacked by Congress because it is “at war”. That is all keeping Bush and Cheney in office till February 2009.
To bring charges against Bush or Cheney would require that they depart office or end the state of war, and a pardon from their successor, whomever wins is all it takes to bury this sad chapter.
But the extraction of trillions of dollars from the US economy by chiefly OPEC countries, well. How many trillions has Saudi directly cost the US?
I think that the high oil prices are a direct result of the US uncovering its own lack of ruthlessness in war allowing a relatively degraded enemy to survive. Now the Arab nations smell nuclear technology within reach, and the confidence they now have in bargaining power seems the new reality.
Is the international recession in fact a deliberate plot to vacuum wealth out of US hands and into the hands of Arabia? The underlying economic war is far more serious because of sub-prime and the loss of confidence and money from a system growing on increasingly thin vapour.
A belief that the source of economic difficulties are “asset related” but providing free housing to the poor has been found to be an unsustainable activity of the US Government – is another way to put it.
It appears to be the problem, but it is the oil shock that will change economies the world over. Unless Bush can win his wars real soon now, and instantly restore confidence in the unassailability of the USA, the rest of the world will not start trembling has they now have been given the lever it needs to even the economic stakes.
Perhaps the only way to stop the spread of the Taleban cult or the Al Qaeda insanity is for taxes to increase for the wealthy, the US to pay its debts and stop living so ridiculously beyond its means.
July 4, 2008
Former Sen. Jesse Helms, who built a career along the fault lines of racial politics and battled liberals, Communists and the occasional fellow Republican during 30 conservative years in Congress, died on the Fourth of July.
He was 86.
Helms died at 1:15 a.m., said the Jesse Helms Center at Wingate University in North Carolina. The center’s president, John Dodd, said in a statement that funeral arrangements were pending.
“I don’t have troops I can reach for to send into Afghanistan until I have a reduced requirement in Iraq,” said Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in a Pentagon briefing Wednesday.
July 3, 2008
A judge has ordered that YouTube turn over its complete logs of private viewings of videos to Viacom. Are we moving away from tenets of humanity and reason just to return to preindustrial era ideas of human ownership? Has the concept of privacy been abandoned in the US Justice system? How are 4 terabytes of logs going to be analysed by Viacom and what will stop them from using this commercial information for their own commerical gain? Has the judge overstepped the mark – and played into the hands of a dismissal? Or is this revealing of a more sinister campaign against individuality. Can what we do be handed over like chattels in this way without consulting us first?
The terms and conditions of any website are so long and complex 99% of humans do not read them. Folly, say the laywers. They still apply. I do not however agree that a term that my viewing patterns would be available to Viacom was on offer when I used YouTube and found otherwise buried content owned by Viacom. Now what will happen – will Viacom start to persue billions of damages from millions of users of YouTube?
Why? For goodness sake. Viacom is supposed to be an entertainment company. Not the bleeding gestapo.
July 1, 2008