Random observations on the global collapse, Bush gives a pep talk, and a contest: “Name This Crisis.”
Well, stock markets around the world continue to tank, as well as other bad economic signs. No one really knows what is going on, in fact it’s amusing watching the experts squirm (the honest ones) or continue to spout BS (The BS ones.) Even in stable times expert prediction about the future is mostly crap, in times like these all the crystal balls are cloudy and cracked. Personally, I am trying to step back and take an historical view on all this, and maybe ease my mind a bit. Historically speaking, troubled times can last weeks, months, years, decades…so I’m not sure what the best personal course of action is, but am pretty sure that being highly anxious isn’t going to help. And I’m pretty anxious, I don’t know anyone who hasn’t been impacted by the credit crunch and the crash (it’s officially a stock market crash now.) In any event, a few random observations and thoughts.
I just watched the president’s statement on the economy. I was not re-assured. He blamed the whole problem on the mortgage meltdown, which is an almost insulting simplification of the problem. He went on to say that his administration has a comprehensive plan to fix the economy. I’m sorry, but the Bush administration has shown an almost complete disdain for comprehensive plans of any sort, if anything they are one of the worst administrations in history when it comes to planning. His plan basically consists of attacking the symptoms of the problem by throwing money at them, and reassuring Americans that the economy is basically healthy and that by working with other world leaders we would get through this. The economy is not basically healthy, and Bush couldn’t work with other leaders if he tried. So basically he gave an enthusiastic pep talk, but didn’t say anything of substance.
I don’t think there’s gonna be a quick fix, in fact so far it seems to be a series of increasingly expensive unsuccessful quick fixes. Remember the economic stimulus program this spring where they sent everyone in America a check? It was supposed to avert or minimize a recession. It only cost $150 billion, controversial at the time, seems almost quaint now. Maybe I’m going out on a limb here, but I’m thinking that this economic thing is a problem that throwing increasingly larger piles of money at is not going to fix.
In a related I notice there’s been an effort to blame the economic crisis on Clinton and the Democrats, primary by sending around this 1999 article from the New York Times. Its about how lending standards were lowered at the behest of the Clinton administration to allow more minorities to purchase houses. It’s very prophetic in that it makes the prediction that this lowering of standards will eventually lead to problems similar to the Savings and Loan crisis of the eighties.
So it’s true enough, but the implication is often made, or even overtly stated…that if we hadn’t loaned all this money to poor niggers who didn’t qualify for loans, why we wouldn’t be in this problem. Wrong on pretty much all counts. The mortgage meltdown may have been the catalyst for this crisis, but it most certainly wasn’t the cause of it. And they didn’t just lower standards for minorities, they lowered standards for everyone. In fact the demographics for bad loans seem to mirror the country’s makeup pretty closely, so why don’t we just blame poor people in general? Fortunately I’m noticing that partisan attacks are sticking even less and less these days. Most Americans are beginning to suspect the truth, that both parties have been selling out the middle class for decades.
In the “this is getting scary now” category, the administration most definitely has suggested that martial law is on the table. With the recent stationing of a US army brigade in the USA ostensibly to aid the police in times of crisis, some are even worried about the possibility of fascism in the USA. While Naomi Wolf has made a career out of “crying fascism,” she’s kind of like a reverse Ann Coulter, I’m beginning to worry that she may be onto something. While on first pass a single brigade is obviously not going to be able to police the USA, we do have more policemen per capita than any other nation on Earth. So if the police are called out to control the streets…a few thousand soldiers in key areas would both improve police morale, increase the appearance of legitimacy, and discourage resistance. I don’t think there’s any chance of people rioting n the streets soon, but if the government is worried about the possibility, so should we.
Lastly, right now we don’t even know what to call this mess. It’s really frustrating. It’s clearly gone past a mortgage meltdown, credit crunch, or stock market crash. So in the spirit of clarification, not to mention seeking lasting fame, I am announcing a contest: What should we call the current economic crisis? Please leave your suggestions below, if we get enough I will pick the best four and we can have a vote. That way at least my readers will have participated in at least one fair election this fall.
Have a great weekend everyone!
(The above image of “The Potato Eaters” by Vincent Van Gogh is public domain under US copyright law, being a photographic reproduction of an image created before 1928. I chose it because it may very well reflect the coming had times, and my potatoes are up and growing nicely. I think a lot of people will be planting gardens next spring, and I ain’t talking daffodils.)