Tuesday, June 7, 2011

It IS different this time!

Greetings good citizen,

As the disaster stretches into its fourth year (remember, this shit all started in August of 2007.) we see more and more ‘comparisons’ being made to past economic, er, ‘downturns’.

I belabor the obvious when I exclaim It really IS different this time

A little-discussed aspect of this downturn is that many Americans never fully recovered from the last one before the crash hit. In 2000, before the dot-com bust, a person right in the middle of the economic pack took home $27,833 inflation-adjusted dollars, and since then, that same person has only earned more in one year – 2006 (Excel). By 2008, the median income was a thousand bucks less than it had been in 2000, and then in 2009 and 2010 we saw the largest two-year drop in wages and benefits since 1962-'63.

Depressions don't always unfold in the same way. The bleak period following the 1929 stock market crash has come to be known as the Great Depression, but it was not the first brutal downturn to be characterized as such. Between 1873 and 1896, the big industrial powers went through what was then called the Great Depression, and has since become known as the Long Depression.

The Long Depression never reached the grinding severity of the 1930s downturn; in fact, it was actually two severe recessions that bookended a period of rapid growth in the 1880s. Today, having “lost” much of the past decade, and with the economy looking like it may well head into a second period of recession – or at best a gradual, drawn-out road to economic health – historians may well come to view this period as another kind of Long Depression.

And they’d be WRONG because this time has too many factors that didn’t even exist when the other, er, ‘thefts’ were taking place.

Yeah, it’s been almost forty years of ‘down’, despite the ‘presto chango’ exhibited by the stock market to provide us with the ‘illusion’ of forward economic motion.

Many factors are different this time. During previous economic downturns they didn’t face the exhaustion of the central premise that under pins our civilization, cheap abundant energy!

That alone is a game changer that staggers the imagination with its implications!

The idiots among us believe the exhaustion of fossil fuels will cause the ‘social clock’ to roll back a mere century, when the reality is it will roll back more than a thousand years!

How unfortunate is it for the rest of us that our self-professed ‘betters’ tend to believe unrealistic fairy tales like a return of the more civilized ‘horse and buggy’ era?

There are (roughly) TEN TIMES as many people now as there were then so the ‘logistics’ of the situation both stagger the mind and would quickly overwhelm Mother Nature.

Imagine EVERYBODY trying to meet their basic energy needs with wood? (Understand, in the beginning even the assholes who could afford to ‘buy’ energy would adopt the ‘quaint’ emergency measure of burning wood for fuel.)

You know, for the ‘romance’ of it…until they started choking on the smoke, then the pricks would try to ban the practice on ‘environmental’ grounds…(who cares how many freeze to death?)

And their bought and paid for politicians would pass such nonsense…because the ‘main objective’ hasn’t changed, they are indeed trying to ‘kill-off’ as many of us as they can without a fight.

Weirdly, they consider this ‘natural selection’ when there is nothing ‘natural’ about it.

Mother Nature don’t have no bank vault, she don’t care about money.

Which will likely doom us as a species IF the rest of us are ‘stupid’ enough to let the self-interested get away with it.

But I digress…

There is a third major factor that didn’t exist in previous economic downturns that is causing a considerable amount of despair, do you know what that is?

I’ll give you a hint, it is the primary reason we have gone four years without any improvement.

The term normally associated with this factor is the one thing capitalists deny (because it makes the whole structure of capitalism invalid) and that term is ‘market saturation’.

It is IMPOSSIBLE to expand saturated markets!

Not that ‘demand’ is the primary problem here, not at the moment anyway. (Oh would that it were!)

As I have stated repeatedly our civilization is seriously ‘mis-managed’ (although those who benefit from the current arrangement would vehemently disagree/deny this.)

I can ‘lobby’ for class war ‘til the cows come home but until the reality that the bastards really are trying to kill you sinks in, I’m just flapping my gums.

Oh, and I am not taking credit for having an ‘original idea’ here. Admit it, you’ve had this exact same thought cross your own mind on more than one occasion, haven’t you?

Anyway, under the category of How spooky is that? we have this article on the same topic from across the pond!

(This snippet is out of context as it sits, Demetri’s ‘central premise’ is the same as my own, comparing the past with the present excludes some major game changing factors.

The snippet refers to how his local ‘downtown’ has changed since the 1950’s, where the main square that was once filled wih banks is now populated with employment agencies.)

None carried pension plans and it was clear that there was no question of a “job for life” or indeed much employment protection given the likely nature of the contracts. How you compare this with say in 1951 a reliable factory job with an established firm I do not know and it is still very different from 1981.

What I do not like is the prevailing fear and defensive attitudes of people in the workplace, the uncertainty and the need to compete personally, to deceive and to betray. We may not have earned much at the bottom end of the ladder in the 1950’s but often we managed to laugh and “teamwork” was real and not a formula for controlling dissent or a box to be ticked for the CV for the next job move.

Rather than casting our minds back to a distant and alien past the question should be how should incomes be distributed in a society that is very new and within which we expect a good deal of public provision paid for by taxation.

The answer at present is that nobody has the answers.

At the end he touches upon a topic that I, myself was musing on earlier this morning.

For all of the general agreement in the media that the current system is broken there seems to be very little ‘discussion’ (among those expected to pull it off) about alternatives to the way things are currently done.

Worse, there are precious few non-Ivory Tower alternatives to capitalism and its kissing cousin, capitalism lite known as Communism.

Once political decision making becomes a ‘club’ you may as well re-instate monarchy!

I have devised a viable ‘third way’ with A Simple Plan.

By placing the law beyond the reach of the self-interested and restricting new legislation with ‘the golden rule’ (universiality) further tempered by the Human Anti-exploitation law, we won’t be making a lot of trips to the polls to defend our rights.

Under ASP there are no legislators to buy and no way to buy them, your money is for you, period!

Alterations in the way income is derived and distributed make ASP ‘fair’. (If you have a ‘problem’ with fairness then you don’t deserve the benefits of civil society…and they will be withdrawn from you.)

Energy scarcity brings with it the necessity of living closer to one another, if we are to pull this off we need to make society more equitable and just than it curently is.

Capitalism favors individualism (read selfishness) something our slender resources will no longer tolerate.

This will remain a major stumbling block going forward but exile will eventually ‘weed out’ those who don’t have what it takes to live in a cooperative environment.

Exile is the ‘stick’ that makes ASP work.

There are other ‘safeguards’ that need to be followed because like any system, leave something out and it won’t work ‘as intended’.

It is easy to see this ‘holistic’ plan turn into a nightmare if the, er, ‘self-interested’ are put in charge of implementing it.

ASP is far from ‘utopian’ but is does provide a much more level playing field than has ever previously been available.

The question without answer is whether or not we are civilized enough to implement it.

I vote yes, but that’s just me.

Thanks for letting me inside your head,


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