Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Buried Alive By The Globalized Ponzi

While we wait for this lurching clusterfuck, euphemistically called the "globalized economy", to collapse in on itself like a cheap tent, below I recapped the central themes of this blog. When the Idiocracy catapults itself into the brick wall known as reality yet again, my days of blogging will be over. Soon, even the Captains of the Idiocracy will be forced to acknowledge the overwhelming disaster they have created, at which point the only place they will be safe will be Antarctica...

The Emperor Has No Clothes
At risk of stating the obvious, I am not in the camp that believes Bernankenstein's attempt at Central Planning this broken economy back to health, has any chance of success. I put the odds at exactly 100% that this house of cards collapses at escape velocity sooner than 99.99% of people expect it ever could. Most people are under the delusion that the longer this pseudo-economy persists, the more sustainable it becomes. Quite the opposite, the longer it continues, the more brittle and non-resilient it becomes. This "economy" is now merely sustained by this society's compulsive willingness to bury its own children and grandchildren under a mountain of debt. The endgame will come when the credit markets are no longer willing to play along with the charade. At that point, the underwear will be mighty stained when the Idiocracy realizes that the U.S. (and other developed nations) will not be the first countries in history to borrow their way to prosperity. Our heroic policy-makers like to think that they saved us all from Depression, when all they really did was to propagate an unsustainable consumption binge, now waiting for a much bigger collapse. Outside of this blog, I've given up telling other people my more hardcore views about the world and the economy, because I've found they really don't want to talk about it. In the year after the events of 2008, the pseudo-recovery was a fair topic of conversation. Not anymore. Today everyone wants to live in the Matrix. Unfortunately, I can't evince much sympathy for people who delude themselves into believing that their children and grandchildren will pick up the tab for their "guns and butter" profligacy.

Towards a Level Playing Field
The second and in some respects more important motivation for writing is to get to something better. Granted, I won't glibly state in a blog post all aspects that go into a better economy, but suffice to say, it needs to start with a more level playing field. The Ponzi economy we have now, has rewarded many things beyond the reach of the average citizen - scale, access to large amounts of capital, first mover advantage, foreign sourcing, and most importantly an all consuming greed and drive for profit. Most of us don't have those things, and therefore have to settle for being a wage slave near the bottom of the ladder or at best a corporate drone somewhere in the middle. Clearly, I am no apologist for capitalism, but social mobility was theoretically a major advantage "free markets" provide. When I look around now and see that the hardest working people getting paid the least and CEO pay 244x what an average worker makes, then it's safe to say that the fair day's pay for a day's work compact was broken a long time ago. On a global scale, the playing field is that much more skewed against the workers at the bottom. That these Third World workers submitted to this scheme for this long under the delusional fantasy of achieving their own piece of wealth, is the most amazing aspect of this entire fiasco. Most of them would have been better off remaining under communist rule, which is likely where they will end up again, in due time. In any case, whatever economic model comes next, the economic advantages currently held by those at the top of the pyramid, will be swept away violently during the coming reset. Something to look forward to.

There, But For the Grace of God, Go I...
When Obama suggested there was a certain amount of luck involved in personal success, the Libertarian set went bat shit. How dare he suggest that "all of this" was anything but a result of extreme hard work, entrepreneurship and master planning. Sadly, this is the lens through which this society views the rest of the world as well. When looking at other less developed countries, the overwhelming temptation is to think they deserve their fate. They don't work as hard, they're not as intelligent, not as well governed etc. We fail to see the role of luck and timing in either our success nor in their failure. More importantly, we fail to acknowledge that most of what sets us apart from other nations was built by prior generations. Beyond the abject moral failures of this Ayn Randian fantasy, there is a much darker side to this perception, which then leads us to take for granted all that we have, and how it came into being. Our industries, our infrastructure, our schools our institutions, are now all taken for granted, which is just another way of saying neglected. We think we are different from those other people, and could never suffer their same fate. This society will rise and fall by this one assumption alone.

The Man Who Wants Everything Ends Up With Nothing
We all need a certain amount of resources to survive and maybe a bit more than that to thrive, but what we don't need is a single dimensional obsession with ever-more external gratification, at the cost of a well rounded life experience not preoccupied with comparison to others. It's amazing that otherwise mature adults still think that some shiny bauble or trinket is somehow going to affect their life. And who needs all these happy pills in this consumption oriented nirvana? Apparently, this society has built up a large tolerance for the ever-dwindling endorphine hit that comes with each mall purchase. Then there are the fools who don't realize that the amount of money they are dissatisfied with now is the amount they believed would make them happy a year ago. Worst of all, a society that is preoccupied with chasing baubles and the "next big thing" clearly has no concept of gratitude or contentment. It's therefore ironic and fitting that it will be this all-consuming societal affliction for wanting more, that will end up costing most people everything they have, and then some...