Free Markets, Free People

Meanwhile, back to the mundane but very important stuff–the economy

I think Bob Gorrell’s cartoon fairly represents what we should be talking about now after a week of bin Ladanpalooza.

 

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As Dale said in the podcast last night, it seems much more likely we’re in the 2nd year of a “lost decade” than any real recovery.  You get the feeling, or at least I do, that our so-called economic experts at the tiller of the ship have absolutely no clue as to how to proceed.    Dale also mentions that if we were calculating unemployment and inflation like we used too in the ‘80s we’d most likely be looking at about 18% unemployment and 10% inflation and wearing our “Whip Inflation Now” buttons already.

In the meantime you can literally see the steam escaping the GOP push to trim the budget, cut spending and downsize government.   It’s like everyone in government (and many voters) are still in denial.

If we were to resurrect the Misery Index, I’d dare say we’d be in new territory speaking of misery.  And, as I stated on the podcast, I’m surprised there aren’t those out there asking Ronald Reagan’s favorite questions – “Are you better off today than you were 4 years ago?”

My intent isn’t to sound alarmist, but maybe it’s time to be more than just a little alarmed.  Commodities are rising, wages are flat, and while we did see over 200,000 jobs created this past cycle, 60,000 of them were at McDonalds – literally – and we saw over 400,000 initial claims for unemployment registered.  “Unexpected”, of course.

In fact, it seems that we’re getting sunshine pumped up our skirts with weekly pronouncements that it is “getting better” out there.  Well, I for one am not seeing that.

You?

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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15 Responses to Meanwhile, back to the mundane but very important stuff–the economy

  • There were times when it seemed to the animals that they worked longer hours and fed no better than they had done in Jones’s day. On Sunday mornings Squealer, holding down a long strip of paper with his trotter, would read out to them lists of figures proving that the production of every class of foodstuff had increased by two hundred per cent, three hundred per cent, or five hundred per cent, as the case might be. The animals saw no reason to disbelieve him, especially as they could no longer remember very clearly what conditions had been like before the Rebellion. All the same, there were days when they felt that they would sooner have had less figures and more food.

    Animal Farm George Orwell

    • As though in confirmation of this, a trumpet call floated from the telescreen just above their heads. However, it was not the proclamation of a military victory this time, but merely an

      announcement from the Ministry of Plenty.
      “Comrades!” cried an eager youthful voice. “Attention, comrades! We have glorious news for you. We have won the battle for production! Returns now completed of the output of all classes of consumption goods show that the standard of living has risen by no less than 20 per cent over the past year. All over Oceania this morning there were irrepressible spontaneous demonstrations when workers marched out of factories and offices and paraded through the streets with banners voicing their gratitude to Big Brother for the new, happy life which his wise leadership has bestowed upon us. Here are some of the completed figures. Foodstuffs–”
      The phrase “our new, happy life” recurred several times. It had been a favourite of late with the Ministry of Plenty. Parsons, his attention caught by the trumpet call, sat listening with a sort of gaping solemnity, a sort of edified boredom.

      1984, George Orwell
      Yes, it’s the age we live in.

    • “Barack Obama is a character out of novel that Orwell didn’t live to write.” — Me.

      • I don’t know that he would have written it.  In his novels, the propagandists are employees / members of the ruling party.  The sad thing is that OUR propagandists (officially) are not: they shill for Captain Bullsh*t and the dems for free.  Further, Orwell’s imgainary rulers relied on hyper-patriotism as an opiate for the masses as well as a threat from external enemies to give them a focus for rage and fear as well as a handy whipping boy when things went wrong.  I think that we can safely say that patriotism is anathema for the dems, and their enemies are all domestic.  Finally, Animal Farm and Oceania were born from a violent end to the former “nation”, by revolution in the first case and nuclear war in the second.  Our country is going down the drain in a slow, peaceful manner though the ballot box.

        I can’t help but think that Orwell, if he were alive today, would shake his head in wonder: “I never thought that people could be stupid enough to do this to themselves.”

        • One of the essential points from Orwell was his emphasis on how the destruction of language likewise destroyed the capacity to think. To destroy language is to destroy meaning. Truth itself is off the table.

          For instance: “Gay marriage.” That’s doublethink in a nutshell, about the most fundamental social institution, an institution rooted in the fundamental nature of human biology: the complementarity of the two opposing sexes. But “gay marriage” is being sold on the basis of “marriage equality,” which is meaningless. From the standpoint of meaning, “gay marriage” does not exist.

          Obama is someone who is beyond being a simple pathological liar like Bill Clinton; he is someone who cannot tell the truth, about whom it is impermissible to tell the truth, and for whom truth is the enemy.

          This is why I call him a character out of a novel that Orwell did not live to write.

          • I see no reason why the government needs to license or record marriages.  Without such intrusion, you aren’t obligated to recognize any marriage outside of your personal values, which in your case would be your church, I assume.
            In light of the varied and often sordid history of marriage, to include polygamy, high divorce rates, relationships of convenience, political/royal unions, green-card marriages, etc., I don’t see how two people pledging a lifelong monogamous relationship could possibly do harm to anyone else.  It’s not like the “institution” of marriage is an ideal or fragile thing.  And, if you want to argue “biology” then you’ll have to explain why we should look to “biology” as a font of order and design, when biology makes some people attracted to the same sex.
            From reading and speaking with people opposed to gay marriage, I conclude that nearly all are driven by unquestioning religious dogma and/or an irrational compulsion to keep the queers down.  (Kind of like Randy Newman’s “Rednecks“.)  I know it was for me.  I let go of the hate and moved on.
            Really, it’s a waste of time and energy to concern oneself with what others do in private, to rationalize ways to keep the “weirdos” in their place.  Hell, that’s probably one of the reasons I abandoned Christianity, because of the endless obsession with sexuality and the highly contradictory hatred expressed towards homosexuals.  Having been away for many years, it’s such a bizarre, icky feeling to be around people who still have the bug in their ear (or somewhere), driving them to apoplexy over other people’s sex.
            My wife’s nephew married his long-time boyfriend in California during the window when it was legal.  His parents are very devout Christians, but they still supported him, despite their belief that homosexual activity is a sin.  As he put it, he had mixed feelings about getting married legally, because he didn’t think they should depend on approval from the government.  (He’s a big Obama liberal, though.)
            Having been around the couple, I have no problem recognizing them as being married.  I know they won’t biologically produce children, just as many opposite-sex couples don’t produce children, and I don’t see that as a salient factor in whether their relationship, via their vows, constitutes marriage.

          • Amen.

            As I’ve always said, Dems want to be your mommy and tell you how to act, what to eat,and what you can say, etc. Repubs want to be your daddy and tell you who you can love and who you can marry.

            None of your freakin’ business.

          • Marriage is the fundamental social institution. It is based in a factual biological relationship.

            Government did not ordain it. It’s five thousand bloody years old, at least. It stabilizes that fundamental biological relationship and is the foundation of the family.

            It wasn’t invented by Democrats or Republicans or evangelicals. The Western form of marriage is based in the Judeo-Christian idea of monogamy, which is optimal and confers mutual dignity because it is exclusive.

            It’s about the most basic, fundamental, biological fact involving the two sexes.

            It’s what it is; it’s not about anybody telling you what to do.

            Bruce, your laissez-faire attitude is actually about turning your back on the fact that government is going to redefine the meaning of marriage, not just attacking its real meaning, but attacking, as Orwell would have it, meaning itself.

            It is also a strawman to suggest that you don’t care who somebody loves. Who does care? X loves his dog. Y loves his mother. Z loves his horse. Who cares. It’s about the meaning of the institution that sits at the foundation of family and society, and when it is monkeyed with, then many doors are opened for its destruction.

            Elliot you’re all over the place, but you’re also trying to say that the government shouldn’t be involved in it. Well, when that world comes along, let everybody know. But in the meantime it’s another way to walk out on what this is really about. Political correctness inventing something that does not conform with reality.

          • I’m not “all over the place”.  I was raised a Christian.  I read the bible to see that Jesus taught people to love everyone, even one’s enemies.  But, quite blatantly contradictory to the supposed word of god, I witnessed a seething hatred for homosexuals.  Not for people who work on the sabbath, children who sass their parents, or people who have graven images.  Not for adulterers, who tear down families.  Not for bar or casino owners, who enable addicts to hit rock bottom.  Not for all manner of sinner who actually makes life worse for others.
            For QUEERS.  Those icky people who show affection for each other (mostly behind closed doors, for fear of a beating).  Yes, I went along with it, making ugly remarks about people behind their backs, shunning and ostracizing effeminate boys or butchy girls, arguing about the importance of Judeo-Christian values, etc..
            But honestly?  There was nothing sensible behind such hostility, not even a biblical reason to single out that group of people for such concentrated scorn.  It’s hateful and definitely a violation of the overt message of the Christian gospels.
            We’ll never agree on religion, but if you want to do your best to adhere to the core message of the man you call your savior, then you’ll drop the caustic hate for queers, quit worrying about other people’s sex, and focus on things like honesty, charity, and fellowship.  There are too many things in this world far more important.
            As for the government, I can’t wave a magic wand and make them stop interfering in personal matters like marriage.  But decent people who buy into the whole democracy thing can also quit wasting time and money on legislating hate.

  • It all boils down to … confidence.
    Confidence that taxes won’t go up.
    Confidence that DC will deal with the deficit.
    The last budget fiasco was cast as the Republicans thinking they got $33 billion or so, but the CBO saying it was $242 million.
    The reality was that we got $242 in spending cuts but the Democrats told us it was $33 billion or so.
    Exactly who is zoomin’ who ?
    As we wait for yet another commission to make a report that will be ignored, we’re supposed to be confident.

  • I wonder if McDonald’s national rush to employee people had anything to do with the exemption they received from Obamacare.
     
    Nahhhhh….that would never happen.

    • And of course, there’s no story there for the media…..move along.

  • WIN buttons? That was 1975, not 1980. Ironically, inflation was running at around 5% at the time. Bad in the context of the post war America where mortgages could be had for 3 to 4%. Bad in the sense that the price of a gallon of gas nearly doubled from sub $.30 cents a gallon to over $.40.
    I don’t have a lot of faith in how we are calculating inflation (or unemployment for that matter) but 10% inflation looks far different from what people are seeing in their daily lives. The cost of living is a lot more complicated because families have different needs. And the globalization of currencies, asset trading and commodity demand now makes it possible for inflation in a far off nation like China to feed through to domestic prices much more quickly than even 10 years ago.
    We are not living in an age where time and distance create buffers. We live in a world where events happen at the speed of electrons, but where the speed of the human mind to handle those events hasn’t changed much since WWII.

  • “My intent isn’t to sound alarmist, but maybe it’s time to be more than just a little alarmed.”


    Bruce, I just have to disagree as viewed from my distant vantage point. I’m calling it a depression because of the length (primarily), breadth and depth. I would be ringing that bell so dang hard, the clapper would fall out.
     
    All of those mutually necessary and mutually supporting industries are gone and as a result; we have no cushion for folks to rely on for being able to get another job in manufacturing after being laid off as a steel worker.
     
    Steel, rubber (remember that?!), textiles, manufacturing of all types, Made in the USA … all gone … poof. We are skin and bones.
     
    If the mayor where I live confronted an 18% unemployment rate (a number which I agree with by the way), he would be screeching and he’d have help.
     
    I’ll hand him the cough drops.
     
     

  • “As Dale said in the podcast last night, it seems much more likely we’re in the 2nd year of a “lost decade” than any real recovery.”

    This is the 42nd month of the recession. Can we call it a depression yet?

    I guess if you’re in the homebuilding industry, you know what the story is.