Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Bleak House

I only ask to be free. The butterflies are free.
Mankind will surely not deny to Harold Skimpole

what it concedes to the butterflies

--Bleak House, Charles Dickens

Ain't got no place to lay your head
Somebody came and took your bed
Don't worry, be happy

Don't Worry, Be Happy,
Bobby McFerrin

The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
Of cabbages--and kings--
--The Walrus and the Carpenter
, Lewis Carroll

America is becoming a strange place and our leaders even stranger. At least, Ranger feels like a stranger in a strange land.

While jobs disappear and every economic indicator is bleak to bleaker, our leaders -- both Dems and Repubs -- try to sell us on confidence and hope. Whether it is the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) or the economy, we are told to swallow a huge confidence pill and all will be well.

Add to that attempts to stoke up the old Yankee can-do while preying on the new culture of fear to just-do-something about the economy, and you have what feels like a Keystone Cops scenario. Obama Warns of
"Lost Decade," and the Representatives all say "We must do something." What? Well, what we've always done -- throw money at it and cut taxes.

Confidence and hope are feelings disguised as policy. Confidence will not pay the rent, health care premiums or tuition to a private school. Ranger only mentions these because all of our elected leaders have these things, so they must be part of the democratic ideal.

Confidence and hope will not take an enemy position unless the plan is sound and understood by the troops. In addition, support and reserve forces are necessary.
Confidence stems from realistic operational planning. Confidence and desperation are not compatible.

Lacking realistic planning, desperation easily infects the troops. Hopeful and confident words are just that -- words. As Steven Colbert said tonight, we need a
"Word Czar."

President Obama is right -- we need action, but not action for action's sake alone. As the
WaPo opined on the rush to economic judgment, Stimulus Spending Could Lead to Billions in Waste, Abuse. Action on the battlefield is meaningless unless a verifiable objective is possible form the expenditure of resources.

The U.S. public deserves considered action. We
do need change, which implies scrapping the beliefs and plans of former generations. All that we believe may no longer be relevant to the facts of our new national life.

Unbridled free market capitalism has brought the country to the abyss. Keynesian economics worked once, may not apply this time. The financial wizards who concocted this mess cannot effectively regulate the banking and financial sectors which produced them.

The Treasury Secretaries are foxes guarding the hen house. They are following the deficient old routines that led to current problems and are expecting a different outcome this time;
this is one definition of insanity.

What is really happening in the heads of our elected, appointed and militarily anointed demigods? Our house is in total disarray, and we are flinging our legions to the outposts of Afghanistan. What gives?

We cannot afford the bailouts, and we gain nothing from our far-flung wars, yet nobody is suggesting we pull in our perimeter, assume the strategic defensive and husband our resources. What is our concern with Afghanistan or Iraq when we are rapidly approaching an implosion?

Either we believe in America or we don't. The PWOT © stretched this belief to the fracture point. Now that our economy is the focus, both Right and Left are fronting Socialistic and Communistic fixes as a curative. However, they are at very best, palliatives.

We are either a free market democracy based on capitalism, or we are not. The time has come to
define words in ways that go beyond emotional religious zealotry and to restore faith and hope to their proper domain. The halls of Congress should be dominated by emotionless facts.

The Bush administration sold the
PWOT © by fear and plying an emotional overreaction. Obama, while served an unenviable platter upon hitting office, seems to be piggybacking on the robust fear instilled by 43, trading hope chips for fear, but trading on it nonetheless.

Somewhere between these two extremes there must be something that resembles reality.

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Blogger Juan Moment said...

Now that our economy is the focus, both Right and Left are fronting Socialistic and Communistic fixes

Ranger, I presume you are referring to the state bailing out private business, socialising their losses. But socialism would mean that in return for all this money being poured down the gurgler, the state would have to become at least part owner of the rescued banks and firms.

But this is not the case here. What we see is Capitalism being practiced in its purest form, the redistribution of wealth from the bottom to the top. In order to finance these trillion dollar "rescue packages", propping up Wall St and its margin lending clientele, social spending will have to be cut big time, money will be printed and interest rates are bound to rise.

It is the little folk who will be hurt most by the repercussions of the senseless give away of their money (taxes). Like being shot at with your own gun.

We do need change, which implies scrapping the beliefs and plans of former generations. All that we believe may no longer be relevant to the facts of our new national life.

The new national life will, in the scheme of things, be not all that different from the old. Wealth will have concentrated even more, sufficiently cashed up conglomerates will have swallowed their less fortunate rivals, enjoying an impoverished labour force prepared to work for shit wages.

As you mentioned, following the tradition set by previous administrations, in Obamaworld the foxes are still guarding the hen house, looting Fort Knox whilst promising the unassuming taxpayers a "fix" for something that can't be fixed.

Government and treasury here in Australia are taking the same outdated approach as their US counterparts, albeit on a much smaller scale. By doing so they ensure the skeletons stay in the closet a little longer. Humongous mountains of cash are transferred to banks, which instead of using the funds to kick start the economy again and start lending to viable businesses, hoard and sit on the billions.

Insolvent banks and finance houses should be allowed if not forced to go bankrupt, their balance sheet items evaluated at reasonable benchmarks and assigned a realistic value. For confidence in the global financial sector to rear its sore head, toxic items need to be written off and any remaining assets bought from the shareholders, who in my eyes should carry the ensuing losses. The prospectus did not mention that there would be a taxpayer guarantee for the share value, so why on earth does the taxpayer have to pick up the risk?

The state aka the taxpayers would own the banks, their assets, and could start lending to a credit starved industry with a more sensible, less greed driven policy than any private bank could ever operate.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009 at 8:08:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Terrible said...

I know the feeling Ranger!

And Juan does make some good points about the bailouts actually are capitalist in nature since they do indeed help redistribute wealth upward.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009 at 10:09:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous sheerahkahn said...

Blue pill or red pill?
Which one to take?
Do we follow the rabbit down the hole, or do we do nothing but drink our tea and eat our cake?
Nothing ventured, nothing gained, and yet the end result is always the same.
Hey, Ranger, is there a way off this going-no-where train?

I listen to Obama yesterday, and I listen to NPR's Planet Money PodCast, and my confidence meter is dropping to zero...all I can say is we are so royally...well, I would be crass and used the foxhole term, but for the sake of delicate eyes...screwed.
I though we were electing adults into office.../sigh...not more squabbling chimps fighting over a banana.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009 at 12:41:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

blue pill or red pill?

when i was touring i would have said Both. especially if you could fix them.

it seems that obama is resolutely committed to the same old thing of trying to sustain something which has become unsustainable.

an economy built on cheap and plentiful hyrdocarbons was a brief little golden age of economics. it lasted less time than classical athens' democracy.

they are still weeping and wailing about the crisis in credit when, in all factuality, it is much deeper than that. it is a problem of capital itself.

just as when they based our intelligence system on fox's 24 our intelligence system was degraded, maybe even degraded beyond hope of rebuilding. the basing of our financial theories and systems on the novels of ayn rand has come to great grief.

remember alan greenspan being shocked and surprised that the corporate, stock, and other mega business types did not behave like the moral paragons of richitude that his hero ayn portrayed in her novels? (he was probably one of her boy toys while he was a lad, the delicate social phrase for his role in her circle was acolyte)

holy sainted sweet mary mother of all fuck. they based foriegn policy, economic policy, on fiction. and not even the best fiction.

basing it on vonnegut, that i could live with. i always admired his fierce morality.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009 at 3:59:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Juan and Terrible.

Juan, I take your point and Terrible ; yes I acknowledge that it is capitalistic if you are arranging the money upward. That is democracy and capitalism.But isn't it a form of socialism also?
Aren't all the definitions becoming muddled?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009 at 7:48:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Ghost Dansing said...

Ranger you're right..... things are very fubar..... but i for one am not worrying, it never was worthwhile.....

Wednesday, February 11, 2009 at 8:37:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...

Ghost dansing,

I love your highly eclectic style! But --the kazoo-ukelele/banko guy never did smile!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009 at 8:50:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...


To extend your thinking: is it possible democracy is a fiction in America? Re. Greenspan: he may have been shocked, but it was pretty to think otherwise for awhile.

Vonnegut did not compromise.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009 at 8:56:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

I believe Vonneguts writing is a reflection of his PTSD.

Thursday, February 12, 2009 at 12:26:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Juan Moment said...

But isn't it a form of socialism also? Aren't all the definitions becoming muddled?

You are right Jim, definitions do become muddled, I myself am guilty of muddling :)

Re the labelling of the current taxpayer funded rescue packages for nearly insolvent banks as akin to socialism, I can’t see it. Socialism means the people/taxpayers own the productive means, but all we get for our tax dollars is the toxic waste the government is exchanging for the trillions in cash. In my view, a far better description for what is going down is Fascism, government being in bed with big business to exploit the people, see the Nazis and their German industrial friends like Krupp, Bayer and Grundig, enjoying slave labour and the obscene profits they bring in. Back then as well as today Social Darwinism is omnipresent. Big eats small, a philosophy Nazis were quite fond of, and which by no coincidence also underlies the Friedman and Chicago style free market Capitalism. Sometimes I get the feeling that Capitalism is political fascism’s economic cousin. Along the lines of “Its not that you’re inferior, its just that we’re superior.”


Thursday, February 12, 2009 at 10:39:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Peter of Lone Tree said...

Army Suicides in January Outnumbered Combat Deaths

Thursday, February 12, 2009 at 12:53:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

I'll modify and agree that it's a form of fascism-which we've said before.

Thursday, February 12, 2009 at 6:16:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...

"The prospectus did not mention [to shareholders] that there would be a taxpayer guarantee for the share value, so why on earth does the taxpayer have to pick up the risk?"

Absolutely. And there does seem kinship between the new capitalism and fascism -- just a difference in coercion style and degree.

Thursday, February 12, 2009 at 8:39:00 PM GMT-5  

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