IMHO

Oct. 7th, 2008 05:33 pm
angstzeit: (Default)
What's going on in Washington and on Wall Street?

It's kind of like a couple. The thing is Wall Street cheated on Washington. That's pretty bad since Wall Street totally promised it wouldn't do that again after the last several times. And really Washington had been its biggest supporter coming up with excuses for those mysterious late nights and telling everyone Wall Street just needed its freedom.

And now that Wall Street's been caught, it is accusing Washington of not loving it enough. After all it took Washington a week to come up with the money to pay off Wall Street's blackmailers. How can Wall Street be faithful if Washington is so fickle?

But, of course, Washington doesn't think it could possibly live without Wall Street--it will do anything to keep the relationship together! 700 billion not enough? How about another 630 billion? Clean up all the dirty paper Wall Street has? Lower interest rates even further? What will it take?

Ah, but Wall Street is coy. Does Washington really, really, really love it? China's looking pretty hot these days...

IMHO

Oct. 7th, 2008 05:33 pm
angstzeit: (Default)
What's going on in Washington and on Wall Street?

It's kind of like a couple. The thing is Wall Street cheated on Washington. That's pretty bad since Wall Street totally promised it wouldn't do that again after the last several times. And really Washington had been its biggest supporter coming up with excuses for those mysterious late nights and telling everyone Wall Street just needed its freedom.

And now that Wall Street's been caught, it is accusing Washington of not loving it enough. After all it took Washington a week to come up with the money to pay off Wall Street's blackmailers. How can Wall Street be faithful if Washington is so fickle?

But, of course, Washington doesn't think it could possibly live without Wall Street--it will do anything to keep the relationship together! 700 billion not enough? How about another 630 billion? Clean up all the dirty paper Wall Street has? Lower interest rates even further? What will it take?

Ah, but Wall Street is coy. Does Washington really, really, really love it? China's looking pretty hot these days...
angstzeit: (Default)
So we've got this old SUV. Huge thing. It's always had a few problems but it's tricked out with flashy shit like you wouldn't believe. That makes it seem relevant and with it. It also hides the amazing amount of Bondo and duct tape holding the thing together. But we're really proud of this baby.

Of course it hasn't been easy going lately. Gas prices are insane and that was the last thing anyone thought about when they built this monster. It keeps getting flats and we keep saying we'll replace the tires but in the end it is another patch. Truth is, we kind of feel like our ride says a big "fuck you" to the world. Really, we bought this thing because we were damn sure it could roll over anything.

Only there's a bit of problem.

Yeah, it had been making strange noises for quite a while. And there's been the coughing and sputtering. But this thing's got so much mass the momentum will keep it running if the engine quits, right? Right?

Only now we've got the pedal to the floor and the thing is barely moving so we reluctantly take it into the shop. They want $700,000,000,000 to fix it. Fuck.

What lousy timing! Credit cards are maxed and we owe uncle Jiabao like half a trillion already.

Aw hell, we'll come up with the money somehow. I mean this fine ride is worth it, right?
angstzeit: (Default)
So we've got this old SUV. Huge thing. It's always had a few problems but it's tricked out with flashy shit like you wouldn't believe. That makes it seem relevant and with it. It also hides the amazing amount of Bondo and duct tape holding the thing together. But we're really proud of this baby.

Of course it hasn't been easy going lately. Gas prices are insane and that was the last thing anyone thought about when they built this monster. It keeps getting flats and we keep saying we'll replace the tires but in the end it is another patch. Truth is, we kind of feel like our ride says a big "fuck you" to the world. Really, we bought this thing because we were damn sure it could roll over anything.

Only there's a bit of problem.

Yeah, it had been making strange noises for quite a while. And there's been the coughing and sputtering. But this thing's got so much mass the momentum will keep it running if the engine quits, right? Right?

Only now we've got the pedal to the floor and the thing is barely moving so we reluctantly take it into the shop. They want $700,000,000,000 to fix it. Fuck.

What lousy timing! Credit cards are maxed and we owe uncle Jiabao like half a trillion already.

Aw hell, we'll come up with the money somehow. I mean this fine ride is worth it, right?
angstzeit: (Default)
All the major presidential candidates have failed president 101. But I suppose they might beg excuse in that our current president did too.

Mr. Bush has repeatedly told us just how strong the economy is. At least until things look so bad it may be too late. And with all the rest of the yahoos who've been blowing smoke up our collective ass so they can keep making money while we all scrape to get by, now that the flood waters are getting up to their cozy little attic, the president believes suddenly something needs to be done. Now that we're going unconscious from drowning, maybe a little shot of air will perk us up.

And sure, it sounds great. Send out a bunch of checks! Who doesn't want money? But seriously, do you really believe they won't simply tax it back from you later? And what do they really want you to do with that money? Send it to the attic so they can stuff some more sand bags and ignore the real fundamental economic problems a bit longer while they continue to rake it in.

No, even though they're all running around gabbing about the economy now, I doubt anyone will do what's necessary to even try to actually fix anything. I'd suggest you start grabbing anything that will float because I think we'll have to try to save ourselves once again.
angstzeit: (Default)
All the major presidential candidates have failed president 101. But I suppose they might beg excuse in that our current president did too.

Mr. Bush has repeatedly told us just how strong the economy is. At least until things look so bad it may be too late. And with all the rest of the yahoos who've been blowing smoke up our collective ass so they can keep making money while we all scrape to get by, now that the flood waters are getting up to their cozy little attic, the president believes suddenly something needs to be done. Now that we're going unconscious from drowning, maybe a little shot of air will perk us up.

And sure, it sounds great. Send out a bunch of checks! Who doesn't want money? But seriously, do you really believe they won't simply tax it back from you later? And what do they really want you to do with that money? Send it to the attic so they can stuff some more sand bags and ignore the real fundamental economic problems a bit longer while they continue to rake it in.

No, even though they're all running around gabbing about the economy now, I doubt anyone will do what's necessary to even try to actually fix anything. I'd suggest you start grabbing anything that will float because I think we'll have to try to save ourselves once again.

Part 3

Aug. 15th, 2007 06:33 pm
angstzeit: (Default)
We have a few problems.

You've probably all heard about the housing downturn and rising loan defaults. You may have heard something about the $763.6 billion trade deficit the US carried last year. You may have even heard that our real national debt is actually $49 trillion or more. You probably haven't heard that a chunk of the debt of America is held by China. China has a lot of US bonds. It also has a huge amount of US currency. China has already threatened us with this massive leverage if we don't stop trying to make them send us safe food and products. What is the threat? Well, if they start massively selling off bonds and currency both become worth less (and worse case, worthless). Interest rates would skyrocket. Probably not enough to offset inflation. We would go into a “recession.” That's a nice word for depression. All of the things I've described pretty much lead to the same conclusion. If the dollar is worth less, then imported goods cost more—and most of our goods are imported.

(And BTW, what is China doing with all that money? Building their economy and military. Both mean they need more oil; and that means oil is only going to get scarcer and more expensive.)

And where do you think all this “prosperity” has come from over the last 20 years? Computers. Our economy has been surfing Moore's Law. Defying inflation by increasing productivity as the economy grows. Yet, while some experts are still optimistic, many think Moore's Law is going to hit a wall at some point. What then?

And think about this. The bottom falls out. Wages fall. Interest rates increase. And most of the people are up to their ears in debt already. As I said previously, I'm no economist but I'm pretty sure the outcome will be catastrophic. A domino effect of economic woe.

Lets face it: Economies are a shared illusion. And when that illusion is shattered, what then?

Part 3

Aug. 15th, 2007 06:33 pm
angstzeit: (Default)
We have a few problems.

You've probably all heard about the housing downturn and rising loan defaults. You may have heard something about the $763.6 billion trade deficit the US carried last year. You may have even heard that our real national debt is actually $49 trillion or more. You probably haven't heard that a chunk of the debt of America is held by China. China has a lot of US bonds. It also has a huge amount of US currency. China has already threatened us with this massive leverage if we don't stop trying to make them send us safe food and products. What is the threat? Well, if they start massively selling off bonds and currency both become worth less (and worse case, worthless). Interest rates would skyrocket. Probably not enough to offset inflation. We would go into a “recession.” That's a nice word for depression. All of the things I've described pretty much lead to the same conclusion. If the dollar is worth less, then imported goods cost more—and most of our goods are imported.

(And BTW, what is China doing with all that money? Building their economy and military. Both mean they need more oil; and that means oil is only going to get scarcer and more expensive.)

And where do you think all this “prosperity” has come from over the last 20 years? Computers. Our economy has been surfing Moore's Law. Defying inflation by increasing productivity as the economy grows. Yet, while some experts are still optimistic, many think Moore's Law is going to hit a wall at some point. What then?

And think about this. The bottom falls out. Wages fall. Interest rates increase. And most of the people are up to their ears in debt already. As I said previously, I'm no economist but I'm pretty sure the outcome will be catastrophic. A domino effect of economic woe.

Lets face it: Economies are a shared illusion. And when that illusion is shattered, what then?

Part 2

Aug. 13th, 2007 08:36 am
angstzeit: (Default)
For nearly six years now, various people in power have kept a great many of us horribly frightened of another terrorist attack like that on the World Trade Center. Many people go about daily with horrid visions of planes crashing into their workplaces, cars blowing up in crowded areas, “dirty bombs” irradiating their neighborhoods. But what I think most people don't realize is that the possibility of any single person being directly involved in any terrorist attack is very small. However, the chances that any person will be negatively affected by such an attack is quite high. Why? Because the economic repercussions would be extreme. They were severe after 9/11, but future catastrophes could be much worse.

And the even more frightening part is that terrorism is only a small part of the many dangers facing our nation. Why is America where it is? Our economy. I think one of the main reasons we “won” the Cold War is that the Soviet economy simply couldn't keep up. Throwing good money after bad into weapons and the military has some excellent immediate benefits—but in the long run leaves a country with little to show for all its work.

Our economy allows us to toss trillions of dollars into a pointless war. It allows us to ignore certain realities that sooner or later will catch up to us and take us down. In future posts, I'd like to look at some of those realities. Well, I wouldn't like to but I will.

Part 2

Aug. 13th, 2007 08:36 am
angstzeit: (Default)
For nearly six years now, various people in power have kept a great many of us horribly frightened of another terrorist attack like that on the World Trade Center. Many people go about daily with horrid visions of planes crashing into their workplaces, cars blowing up in crowded areas, “dirty bombs” irradiating their neighborhoods. But what I think most people don't realize is that the possibility of any single person being directly involved in any terrorist attack is very small. However, the chances that any person will be negatively affected by such an attack is quite high. Why? Because the economic repercussions would be extreme. They were severe after 9/11, but future catastrophes could be much worse.

And the even more frightening part is that terrorism is only a small part of the many dangers facing our nation. Why is America where it is? Our economy. I think one of the main reasons we “won” the Cold War is that the Soviet economy simply couldn't keep up. Throwing good money after bad into weapons and the military has some excellent immediate benefits—but in the long run leaves a country with little to show for all its work.

Our economy allows us to toss trillions of dollars into a pointless war. It allows us to ignore certain realities that sooner or later will catch up to us and take us down. In future posts, I'd like to look at some of those realities. Well, I wouldn't like to but I will.
angstzeit: (Default)
As a preamble, a couple of things from my past and present.

Back when the Soviet Union collapsed I made a snide pronouncement of my observations. The old way of controlling people is dead; the new way has triumphed. The old way—to point a gun at people and tell them to obey had given way to telling people if they don't obey they'll lose their microwave oven. It was a simplistic notion, but the basic idea that world struggle was becoming more economic than military wasn't far off.

To be sure economics were always a serious part of war. And it is not new to wage economic wars. But the unprecedented globalization of economies has introduced a complex interdependency such that effects in one area of the globe can have repercussions everywhere.


Paranoia then. Time was I got rather into conspiracy theories. Worked out varied ways the government would take over and rid the country of its enemies. Looked for the hidden cabals behind the sinister happenings that most people ignored. It was fun. A new reality grid to work with. But I was never tin-foil hat into it. It was a way I chose to think for a while. I largely left it by the wayside but still have a part of my brain that examines what I receive from the world through that filter.

Paranoia now. As I said, it is secondary in my life but definitely still there. I am much more skeptical of people suggesting specific theories of martial law or anarchy or the evil of the powers that be. But I still watch out for patterns. I watch to see when the balance of things seems to be tipping one way or another. And I am willing to take the things I know and feel and speculate about possible outcomes. I am no sage, and (thank God) no economist (the only profession as mystical and faith based as religion). But when I see someone jump off a building I don't expect them to fly.

In future posts about my thoughts I will be putting forth things I've noticed and my worries about them. Possibly they add up to something; possibly not. I will make my judgments but ultimately you will have to decide.
angstzeit: (Default)
As a preamble, a couple of things from my past and present.

Back when the Soviet Union collapsed I made a snide pronouncement of my observations. The old way of controlling people is dead; the new way has triumphed. The old way—to point a gun at people and tell them to obey had given way to telling people if they don't obey they'll lose their microwave oven. It was a simplistic notion, but the basic idea that world struggle was becoming more economic than military wasn't far off.

To be sure economics were always a serious part of war. And it is not new to wage economic wars. But the unprecedented globalization of economies has introduced a complex interdependency such that effects in one area of the globe can have repercussions everywhere.


Paranoia then. Time was I got rather into conspiracy theories. Worked out varied ways the government would take over and rid the country of its enemies. Looked for the hidden cabals behind the sinister happenings that most people ignored. It was fun. A new reality grid to work with. But I was never tin-foil hat into it. It was a way I chose to think for a while. I largely left it by the wayside but still have a part of my brain that examines what I receive from the world through that filter.

Paranoia now. As I said, it is secondary in my life but definitely still there. I am much more skeptical of people suggesting specific theories of martial law or anarchy or the evil of the powers that be. But I still watch out for patterns. I watch to see when the balance of things seems to be tipping one way or another. And I am willing to take the things I know and feel and speculate about possible outcomes. I am no sage, and (thank God) no economist (the only profession as mystical and faith based as religion). But when I see someone jump off a building I don't expect them to fly.

In future posts about my thoughts I will be putting forth things I've noticed and my worries about them. Possibly they add up to something; possibly not. I will make my judgments but ultimately you will have to decide.
angstzeit: (Default)
Illegal immigration: again.

I happened to read another of Mr. Navarrette's columns on CNN.com. It, like a previous column of his uses some incomplete reasoning.

First of all, he's right, it's our fault--if by that he means that by our government's failure to enforce our laws it is our fault. And, as with most things this country is facing now, we do fall oh so easily for economic blackmail. Outsource our manufacturing and you get cheap crap at Wal Mart. Import cheap labor and you get your lawn or house spruced up on the cheap. But quite simply this has made the rich richer and done little for the rest of us. The simple argument that illegal immigrants came here "[for] jobs -- jobs willingly provided by individuals and businesses that, in turn, forked over tax dollars and filled town coffers. When businesses do well, the town does well. And when the town does well, the people who live there feel as if they're doing well." Sounds lovely doesn't it? But what he's saying is that the businesses made more money using cheap, exploitable, illegal immigrants. But what about the people who used to do those jobs? Sure many of those jobs used to be done by teens--but are we better off with our teens on the streets or in front of video games? But those are not the only jobs in which wages have fallen and respectable jobs lost. And the number is climbing. And if people are feeling that they are doing so well (notice he didn't say they are doing well) why are they so resistant to the immigration legislation?
So yes, many people have taken advantage of illegal immigrants, or at least not complained. But I think we will pay a high price for that. Not just in that it serves as an excuse to ignore illegal immigration; but that it is leading to an economic collapse of staggering proportions. I'll rant more specifically about that in another post.

He states in the previously mentioned column. One written when Congress was still trying to get the "Grand Compromise" immigration bill passed.
This is Congress we're talking about. If it does enforcement-only, it'll never get to Part II. Look at what happened in 1996, when lawmakers went for the low-hanging fruit of enforcement by passing the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996. The law increased the ranks of the Border Patrol and increased penalties for violations of immigration law.

And what happened? The illegal immigrant population grew from about 8 million then to 12 million now. What a good plan. I can see why some folks want to travel that road again. In fact, the author of that failed bill -- Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, has joined with Rep. Peter King, R-New York, to propose a new enforcement-only bill in the House of the Representatives.

Swell. What's the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.


What he fails to mention is that in 1986 a law was passed that gave amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants. That obviously didn't stop the problem either. Does it not seem obvious that if we take the "low-hanging fruit" of amnesty now we'll be doing the same thing again in 20 years with even more people? What was that about insanity?

The problem is that Congress can pass all the laws it wants to, to try to control illegal immigration. But unless they fund the enforcement of those laws they are meaningless. The real problem is that our lawmakers are in the pockets of business, Wall Street, and special interest groups. It seems to take us about 10 years to get fed up with that and demand action. Congress makes a big deal about a new sweeping legislation. We take the bait and then it is business as usual. Those who aren't falling for it again are being labeled racists, bigots and xenophobes. No doubt there are plenty of those around. But there are many others, I include myself in this group, who simply want something real to be done. We're sympathetic to the plight of the illegal immigrants here. Indeed, we want to stop their exploitation. Now and in the future. All we're asking is that our government do its job and enforce our laws, and fund the agencies that enforce them. I think the issue of legalization of current illegal immigrants would be looked at much more favorably in that light.

But, as I said, it is our fault and not just in letting our businesses and government get away with this for so long. But that, as I mentioned above, is an upcoming and gloomy rant.
angstzeit: (Default)
Illegal immigration: again.

I happened to read another of Mr. Navarrette's columns on CNN.com. It, like a previous column of his uses some incomplete reasoning.

First of all, he's right, it's our fault--if by that he means that by our government's failure to enforce our laws it is our fault. And, as with most things this country is facing now, we do fall oh so easily for economic blackmail. Outsource our manufacturing and you get cheap crap at Wal Mart. Import cheap labor and you get your lawn or house spruced up on the cheap. But quite simply this has made the rich richer and done little for the rest of us. The simple argument that illegal immigrants came here "[for] jobs -- jobs willingly provided by individuals and businesses that, in turn, forked over tax dollars and filled town coffers. When businesses do well, the town does well. And when the town does well, the people who live there feel as if they're doing well." Sounds lovely doesn't it? But what he's saying is that the businesses made more money using cheap, exploitable, illegal immigrants. But what about the people who used to do those jobs? Sure many of those jobs used to be done by teens--but are we better off with our teens on the streets or in front of video games? But those are not the only jobs in which wages have fallen and respectable jobs lost. And the number is climbing. And if people are feeling that they are doing so well (notice he didn't say they are doing well) why are they so resistant to the immigration legislation?
So yes, many people have taken advantage of illegal immigrants, or at least not complained. But I think we will pay a high price for that. Not just in that it serves as an excuse to ignore illegal immigration; but that it is leading to an economic collapse of staggering proportions. I'll rant more specifically about that in another post.

He states in the previously mentioned column. One written when Congress was still trying to get the "Grand Compromise" immigration bill passed.
This is Congress we're talking about. If it does enforcement-only, it'll never get to Part II. Look at what happened in 1996, when lawmakers went for the low-hanging fruit of enforcement by passing the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996. The law increased the ranks of the Border Patrol and increased penalties for violations of immigration law.

And what happened? The illegal immigrant population grew from about 8 million then to 12 million now. What a good plan. I can see why some folks want to travel that road again. In fact, the author of that failed bill -- Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, has joined with Rep. Peter King, R-New York, to propose a new enforcement-only bill in the House of the Representatives.

Swell. What's the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.


What he fails to mention is that in 1986 a law was passed that gave amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants. That obviously didn't stop the problem either. Does it not seem obvious that if we take the "low-hanging fruit" of amnesty now we'll be doing the same thing again in 20 years with even more people? What was that about insanity?

The problem is that Congress can pass all the laws it wants to, to try to control illegal immigration. But unless they fund the enforcement of those laws they are meaningless. The real problem is that our lawmakers are in the pockets of business, Wall Street, and special interest groups. It seems to take us about 10 years to get fed up with that and demand action. Congress makes a big deal about a new sweeping legislation. We take the bait and then it is business as usual. Those who aren't falling for it again are being labeled racists, bigots and xenophobes. No doubt there are plenty of those around. But there are many others, I include myself in this group, who simply want something real to be done. We're sympathetic to the plight of the illegal immigrants here. Indeed, we want to stop their exploitation. Now and in the future. All we're asking is that our government do its job and enforce our laws, and fund the agencies that enforce them. I think the issue of legalization of current illegal immigrants would be looked at much more favorably in that light.

But, as I said, it is our fault and not just in letting our businesses and government get away with this for so long. But that, as I mentioned above, is an upcoming and gloomy rant.

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