Saturday, October 11, 2008

Whisper of the Axe

I'm getting a little chill down the back of my neck.

First, there's the very real possibility that we're looking a some sort of global financial "panic" of the sort no one living has seen, the kind of thing that used to smash people's lives back in the 19th Century with some regularity but were suppressed by Keynesian economic policies for much of the 20th.

Paulson seems panicked, and Bushies are paralyzed by their insistence that capitalism MUST and shall be preserved from Big Gummint, even as it craters. What does this mean for wage slaves like myself and Mojo and our kids? THAT'S the scary thing - I have no idea. Should we start stockpiling canned food? Update our resumes? Learn to eat bark? What!? It's the not knowing that's so damn scary.

Second, there's the increasingly ugly, evil and insane tone of the McSame campaign.I don't mean the usual ugly, condescending, authoritarian crap that I expect out of Republicans, the sort of thing that tells you that Tailgunner Joe wasn't an evil, vicious fascist out to smear honest Americans but just deeply, deeply misunderstood. What I find especially frustrating is that the news reports and the punditry are trying to paint this as McSame and Bible Spice playing to the "crazies", when ISTM pretty obvious that these people aren't "crazy". They're the plain, "normal", ordinary people who vote Republican. And the McCain/Palin plan seems to be to encourage them to let their inner lynch mob out.

And we're still stuck with THIS jackass.

Christ, we're SO fucked...

Update 10/13: From Matt Yglesias:
"The entire Eurozone seems to be following Gordon Brown’s lead and working to recapitalize the banks by having the government take an equity stake in firms that need assistance. This is how Sweden successfully resolved its banking crisis in the 1990s and it appears to be the right thing to do. Here in the US, Hank Paulson seems to be edging in that direction, but he’s already wasted weeks trying desperately to find another solution and even now sort of seems to be dragging his feet — playing a very dangerous game on behalf of fealty to conservative ideology."
I'm not sure we can wait until January to get shut of these stupid bastards. Impeach!


Charles Gittings said...

Ya, well at least it's not the Thirty Years War. Not yet anyway. I guess I might even venture an "I told you so" or two, but you're a guy I've had total respect for from day one and has been paying a lot more attention to reality than most, so I have nothing but sympathy for you.

I was laid off my job in July 2002 and considered it a blessing, because it allowed my to redouble my effort on my project. In 2004, my savings were running down and I tried to convince myself that I'd done all I reasonably could on my project... and ended up convincing myself that I'd done more than I'd thought possible starting out and the project was in fact a lot more important than I was.

So I gave up my apartment, accepted poverty, and went on the road with family and friends resolved to keep working as best I could, figuring that if it got to the point of abject homelessness, I'd just walk to Washington DC, go to the White House, walk up to the gate and inform them: "I'm here to make a citizen's arrest."

And the whole time, in the back of my head I've been worried sick about what might happen when the economic bubble finally burst... because I've studied a lot of history, including topics like Rome and grain, the Netherlands and tulips, etc. Funny thing about it is that in that light, my poverty is just an absolute blessing.

But I do worry about my friends, and gee FDC, my kids are grown up, and really haven't been dependant on me that much since the divorce in 1987. You're just five years younger than me and have two young ones to worry about -- that's some seriously scary shit. OTOH, the vibes I get from reading your posts is that you and Mojo have a really good relationship -- and that's worth a lot more than money ever will be.

And I don't know what else to say except that you're all in my prayers for what little it's worth, and you better just sit tight and hold the fort because it's entirely possible that I'll be driving up to Spokane in the next year or so, and if I do, stopping in Portland to catch up with a cousin of mine who lives in Oregon City and meet you in person will be on the itinerary. ;>

pluto said...


1. The current stock market crash is probably just about done regardless of what the government does so Gentle Ben's confusion and Paulson's panic don't really figure in.

2. McCain is, for once, doing the country a major favor by reining in the real wacko's in his own party. And he's getting booed all of his rallies by his own strongest supporters for doing this. See this article for more information:

My guess is that McCain has personally accepted that he's not going to win the race because the economy tanked BEFORE the election instead of after as I had expected. In response, he's decided to try to turn his party back into the loyal opposition instead of the secessionist party. This is the political equivalent of falling on your sword and I kind of admire him for it.

3. Troopergate has blossomed into a full-fledged scandal and has the radical right running around trying to figure out how spin this to the positive for Palin. Sarah has, at least for the short-term become another huge negative for McCain. This will force the ultra-righties to spend more time rebuilding Palin's image and less time assaulting Obama.

4. Polls indicate that Obama has pretty much has the election in the bag. Between states that solidly favor him and states that are leaning towards him, he's got 277 of the 270 electoral votes required and 103 electoral votes undecided. Barring some sort of last-minute story that radically alters the political landscape, all he has to do is look Presidential and figure out how HE's going to solve the financial mess.

5. Fabius Maximus is on fire right now with bright ideas on how to solve or at least mitigate the economic crisis.

6. Try reviewing the advice I offered some time ago about figuring out where you can live and how you can live if the worst happens. I spent about 6 months dealing with a panic similar to yours when I realized that the sky very definitely could fall after all.

7. A spare supply of cash that can be easily accessed (mine is in my credit union because I fear theft more than I fear my credit union closing) is a good idea.

8. This is the first of several large financial tidal waves that will be hitting us. Do what the surfers advise and stay flexible and go with the flow and you should be okay. Trying to resist the tidal wave will simply destroy you as numerous financial establishments have already discovered.

FDChief said...

Charles: You're always welcome here in Little Beirut, where Bush Hatred is welcomed as a sign of sanity...

Pluto: Always appreciate a steady word. We're not in the panic mode yet, but I have to say we're definately pulling in our finances and keeping a closer eye than usual on the news.

I'd agree with you about the market except I'm honestly not sure WHAT it's going to do,and I think that part of the panic os that neither Paulson, Bernanke, nor much of anyone else does, either. Some of the more prescient analyses I've read compares this to nothing we've seen in our lifetimes. It's more like a 19th century "panic", with the danger of a bust occurring not fundamentally from liquidity or even from the bursting of the real estate or financial bubbles (although those are part of the underlying illness of the economy) but from fear and the contagion of the unknown...

The G-7 was typical of what I see going on: incomprehension, division, hesitation...the old remedies aren't working, and each time a "fix" is too small, too late or just too wrong to fit the problem the panic grows...

I do agree that this is just tje beginning of some pretty hard times. We're trying to stay out of debt and focussed on our family and our region - what John Robb calls "resilient communities"...

OTOH, I wish I thought that McSame was really able to rein in the Lynch Wing of the GOP. I think this is just the opening fusillade of what is going to be a horrifying and ugly four years for the Obama Administration. Troopergate gives some insight into the creepy, incestual redneck politics of these goobers (I liked the First Dude getting office time to put the screws to the state employees. I'd hope that my first word to him would have been "Fuck" and my last would have been "off." Go ahead, lady, fire me because your douchebag husband doesn't like me.

But this is the place these people are coming from: the hatemongering, petty politicking, Rush-fueled, Coulter-choked, vile, deranged slime they spew on everything "different". McCain can't close this Pandora's Box. The monkeys are running the GOP Zoo.

Amida Buddha help our nation...

Charles Gittings said...

Ya, well it's not like bigots, wingnuts, and religious wackos are anything new in this country -- but they've rarely had as much influence as they have under the Bush / Cheney gang... I'm tempted to say never, but it's hard to measure such things, and the administration itself distorts any analysis of the public simply because it's so inherently corrupt and demented in and of itself.

I mean think about it: codependency doesn't even begin to describe the relationships between the libertarians, racists, religious bigots, neo-fascists, sexists, and sundry other factions within the Republican Party. The base are nutty as fruit cakes, the elite are utterly corrupt.

What's been bad is the willingness of independents and foolish "Reagan Democrats" to go along with their BS, and what we need now is a crushing landslide in the elections. I have to beleive that it is actually possible, which is not to say probable...

I make no assumptions, but I know what any reasonable person should do.

And luck ain't gonna cut it. I think part of the problem is that this country has been so damn lucky from the start. Now we need to be smart.

Lisa said...

The rampancy of the "bigots, wingnuts, and religious wackos" is stunning, yet the republicans have not cornered the market on this insanity. If people are not blind, raving affiliates of one creed or another, they are hopelessly apathetic.

I agree that smartness is called for now. Where do you buy it, and can you get it in bulk at Costco? :(

Charles Gittings said...

Well Lisa, I wouldn't claim they have a corner, but they certainly have a solid majority across the board.

And there are no short cuts here -- I keep saying that this has been going on for thousands of years, and I'm not kidding when I say it. One of the most fundamental things about intelligence is that it requires something more than just the capacity to store and process information -- it requires honesty, because without that, all the information and analytical power in the world is useless. GIGO: false premises lead to false conclusions.

pluto said...

Well said Charles, particularly this line The base are nutty as fruit cakes, the elite are utterly corrupt.

A lot of what I'm seeing right now has the emotional maturity of a three year old in the middle of a temper tantrum. It wasn't appreciated when my kids were three and it most certainly isn't appreciated from a large percentage of the electorate.

My kids discovered that the world tended treated them harshly for this behavior but all of these people put together have a lot of clout so it's going to take some major catastrophy to finally break through their tantrum and persuade them that this isn't appropriate behavior for the times. And we have to live in the same country as these yo-ho's so we get to suffer as well. There are times when seccession doesn't look so bad after all...

sheerahkahn said...

I keep telling myself,
"I've only lost money if I cash out, I've only lost money if I cash out..."
Bad times only last a very short time, but it's putting a that "very short time" to a calender that makes it drag on.
24/7 can really take the life out of patience, and that is where we have to be...very, very patient.
To be honest, though, I think that this one is going to have long term effects on our economy...still reading up on it, but I think the halcyon days of the late eighties, early ninties of fat and unregulated greed is now over.

Then again, I thought in 2000 George W. Bush was going to bring a different sort of government to Washington DC...boy howdy did he what do I know.

FDChief said...

I think that you are all hitting on the same point: that our nation has been able to fumble along since 1945 without our citizenry being particularly well-informed, activist or analytical. We were the economic and military colossus of the West and benefitted from the profound internal structural flaws within the Soviet Union. We could flub and fumble a lot of things, foreign and domestic, and not pay any real price for it.

We'll see if that still holds true; I suspect that it finally may not. We have flung a lot of our economic and human principal away and have been living on the interest for a while now. Now the dividends aren't going to be paid for a long, long while, and we may just find out how skimpy Uncle Sam's Trust Fund is at keeping to nasty cold outside...

The end result may be beneficial in the long run - we may end up, like Germany, emerging from the Troubles purged of the moronic delight in fuhrerprinzip and "national greatness" we've developed in the last fifty or so years - but the process is likely to be extremely painful for most and fatal for some.

Red Sand said...

I'm a bad combination of excitable AND untrained in this whole area, but my sense is this: it's not just a matter of confidence vs panic in the markets, it would be a good idea to have a few back-up plans and pay attention to liquidity (a brand new word for me right there), and to pay very close attention. Nothing new in any of that and you're probably light years ahead of me. Mind you, people around me who generally know more about all of this think I'm out to lunch.

FDChief said...

RS: "Mind you, people around me who generally know more about all of this think I'm out to lunch."

Because you're worried that this problem is going in ways we don't understand, don't seem to be able to correct and may result in at the very least several years of difficult economic times?

And why would this be so nuts?

I think that there's good reasons - as Pluto points out - not to panic. But not to be concerned? Not to be taking some careful, reasoned measures against possible hard times? I'd say, rather, that of you're just looking around grinning "What, me worry?" then you're either kidding yourself or so far gone as to be certifiable...