Peak Pretending?

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Peak Pretending?

Postby anothershamus » Mon Aug 09, 2010 11:20 pm

This from James Howard Kunstler's blog: http://kunstler.com/blog/2010/08/the-queasy-season.html

Peak pretending now joins peak oil, peak credit, peak rare earths, and all the other peaks visible to us humble valley dwellers. Pretending bought America two years of respite from the ravages of fraud and mismanagement, but now the true condition of this society reveals itself like the disfigured ghoul in the sewer lowering his mask.
Further pretending is unnecessary now. We're even beyond the "modified limited hang-out" stance, as a long-ago presidential counselor once put his PR strategy in the face of crumbling public credulity. When nothing is believable, what's the point in even pretending?
)'(
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Re: Peak Pretending?

Postby Jeff » Mon Aug 09, 2010 11:31 pm

When this sucker goes down it's going to be like a fire in a circus tent. Don't expect much from the clowns' bucket brigade.


True words and darkly beautiful. Thanks.
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Re: Peak Pretending?

Postby 82_28 » Mon Aug 09, 2010 11:47 pm

I always look forward to Kunstler's Monday morning posts. He always seems to put it up about 30 minutes before I leave for work. I recommend checking out his "eyesore of the week" archives, for those who don't know who he is or all that familiar with him.

One drawback to his name when I try to turn people on to him at the bar or whatever, is when you pronounce it people say "har har. Cunts Ler huh?".

http://www.kunstler.com/eyesore.html
There is no me. There is no you. There is all. There is no you. There is no me. And that is all. A profound acceptance of an enormous pageantry. A haunting certainty that the unifying principle of this universe is love. -- Propagandhi
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Re: Peak Pretending?

Postby barracuda » Mon Aug 09, 2010 11:54 pm

Try pronouncing it "koonst-ler" instead. NYT:

Governments Go to Extremes as the Downturn Wears On

Plenty of businesses and governments furloughed workers this year, but Hawaii went further — it furloughed its schoolchildren. Public schools across the state closed on 17 Fridays during the past school year to save money, giving students the shortest academic year in the nation and sending working parents scrambling to find care for them.

Many transit systems have cut service to make ends meet, but Clayton County, Ga., a suburb of Atlanta, decided to cut all the way, and shut down its entire public bus system. Its last buses ran on March 31, stranding 8,400 daily riders.

Even public safety has not been immune to the budget ax. In Colorado Springs, the downturn will be remembered, quite literally, as a dark age: the city switched off a third of its 24,512 streetlights to save money on electricity, while trimming its police force and auctioning off its police helicopters.

Faced with the steepest and longest decline in tax collections on record, state, county and city governments have resorted to major life-changing cuts in core services like education, transportation and public safety that, not too long ago, would have been unthinkable. And services in many areas could get worse before they get better.

The length of the downturn means that many places have used up all their budget gimmicks, cut services, raised taxes, spent their stimulus money — and remained in the hole. Even with Congress set to approve extra stimulus aid, some analysts say states are still facing huge shortfalls.

Cities and states are notorious for crying wolf around budget time, and for issuing dire warnings about draconian cuts that never seem to materialize. But the Great Recession has been different. Around the country, there have already been drastic cuts in core services like education, transportation and public safety, and there are likely to be more before the downturn ends. The cuts that have disrupted lives in Hawaii, Georgia and Colorado may be extreme, but they reflect the kinds of cuts being made nationwide, disrupting the lives of millions of people in ways large and small.
The most dangerous traps are the ones you set for yourself. - Phillip Marlowe
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Re: Peak Pretending?

Postby Jeff » Tue Aug 10, 2010 12:48 am

And this seems appropriate:

The Horror Show
By BOB HERBERT
Published: August 9, 2010


The employment situation in the United States is much worse than even the dismal numbers from last week’s jobless report would indicate. The nation is facing a full-blown employment crisis and policy makers are not responding with anything like the sense of urgency that is needed.

...

Said Mr. McMillion: “When you combine the long-term unemployed with those who are dropping out and those who are working part-time because they can’t find anything else, it is just far beyond anything we’ve seen in the job market since the 1930s.”

They may be thinking about this in Washington, but they sure aren’t doing much about it. The politicians’ approach to the jobs crisis has been like passing out umbrellas in a hurricane. Millions are suffering and the entire economy is being undermined, and what are they doing? They’re appropriating more and more money for warfare while schizophrenically babbling about balancing the budget.

At some point we’re going to have to claw our way out of this denial. With 14.6 million people officially jobless, and 5.9 million who have stopped looking but say they want a job, and 8.5 million who are working part time but would like to work full time, you end up with nearly 30 million Americans who cannot find the work they want and desperately need.

We’ve got more and more people in our working-age population and fewer and fewer jobs to go around. Mr. McMillion tells us that there are now 3.4 million fewer private-sector jobs in the U.S. than there were a decade ago. In the last 10 years, we’ve seen the worst job creation record since 1928 to 1938.

We’re not heading toward the danger zone. We’re there. The U.S. will not remain a stable society if this great employment crisis is not addressed head-on — and soon. You cannot allow joblessness on this scale to fester. It’s wrong, and the blowback will be as destructive and intolerable as it is inevitable.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/10/opini ... ef=opinion
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Re: Peak Pretending?

Postby wallflower » Tue Aug 10, 2010 1:38 am

I read Kunstler's posts every week, but often it takes the better part of a week for me to open them. His relentless pessimism makes me cringe: I suppose that's just me pretending to be optimistic. Something I like about John Robb's Global Guerrilla's blog is he shifts between writing about open source warfare and resiliency. Surely Kunstler's writing doesn't lack for opinions about what to do. His Nativism strange to me. At first I thought it was just of an extension an "I hate everybody" perspective. But for someone who writes about the foolishness of thinking that "they'll figure things out" as far as energy goes, he also seems to find fault in some fantastic category of "them." So he doesn't want Mexicans around and to the extent they are, it's just another example of how "they" can't do anything right.

No doubt all of humanity is in crisis. So how are "we" to respond? Well, Kunstler is taking a nice vacation. I hope he has a good time, really. As I say I do read his posts and think his pointing to the predicament is worthwhile. But I couldn't stand to read him if I weren't also aware of other writers who address ways ordinary people might respond artfully, appropriately, and with compassion to the situation we are in.
create something good
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Re: Peak Pretending?

Postby Nordic » Tue Aug 10, 2010 3:13 am

We’re not heading toward the danger zone. We’re there. The U.S. will not remain a stable society if this great employment crisis is not addressed head-on — and soon. You cannot allow joblessness on this scale to fester. It’s wrong, and the blowback will be as destructive and intolerable as it is inevitable.


I disagree. I think they have us right where they want us. A strong middle class had political power. Poverty-stricken working poor do not.
"He who wounds the ecosphere literally wounds God" -- Philip K. Dick
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Re: Peak Pretending?

Postby hanshan » Tue Aug 10, 2010 12:16 pm

Nordic wrote:
We’re not heading toward the danger zone. We’re there. The U.S. will not remain a stable society if this great employment crisis is not addressed head-on — and soon. You cannot allow joblessness on this scale to fester. It’s wrong, and the blowback will be as destructive and intolerable as it is inevitable.


I disagree. I think they have us right where they want us. A strong middle class had political power. Poverty-stricken working poor do not.


MOot, at best.


They may be thinking about this in Washington, but they sure aren’t doing much about it. The politicians’ approach to the jobs crisis has been like passing out umbrellas in a hurricane. Millions are suffering and the entire economy is being undermined, and what are they doing? They’re appropriating more and more money for warfare while schizophrenically babbling about balancing the budget.



There is a fundamental disconnect between those in D.C. supposedly making
& ennacting policy, & those on the ground. This is partly a function of
size/scale, partly willful ignorance, & heaps of wtfc(who the f*** cares).
That this phenom presages massive social changes is apparent. Strap in & enjoy the ride...

...
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Re: Peak Pretending?

Postby DrVolin » Tue Aug 10, 2010 8:52 pm

I think pretending has a big future. In fact, I would predict that we are just starting to pretend, and that the US is about to start using military force to convince every one else to start pretending as well. The "let's pretend that there are WMDs in Iraq" UN speeches were just a warm up exercise. Now we're going to start pretending that the US dollar has any value.
all these dreams are swept aside
By bloody hands of the hypnotized
Who carry the cross of homicide
And history bears the scars of our civil wars

--Guns and Roses
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Re: Peak Pretending?

Postby Laodicean » Tue Aug 10, 2010 9:00 pm

DrVolin wrote:I think pretending has a big future. In fact, I would predict that we are just starting to pretend, and that the US is about to start using military force to convince every one else to start pretending as well. The "let's pretend that there are WMDs in Iraq" UN speeches were just a warm up exercise. Now we're going to start pretending that the US dollar has any value.


Like she knew the plan...
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Re: Peak Pretending?

Postby Nordic » Tue Aug 10, 2010 9:47 pm

DrVolin wrote:Now we're going to start pretending that the US dollar has any value.


Start? I think we've been doing that for a while now.

The faith is certainly being tested.
"He who wounds the ecosphere literally wounds God" -- Philip K. Dick
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Re: Peak Pretending?

Postby hanshan » Wed Aug 11, 2010 12:24 pm

DrVolin wrote:I think pretending has a big future. In fact, I would predict that we are just starting to pretend, and that the US is about to start using military force to convince every one else to start pretending as well. The "let's pretend that there are WMDs in Iraq" UN speeches were just a warm up exercise. Now we're going to start pretending that the US dollar has any value.



:rofl:

pump 13 trillion (newly minted) into the market
& destroy dollar value.


The US is home to vicarious experience;
simulation is merely an extension.
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Re: Peak Pretending?

Postby DrVolin » Wed Aug 11, 2010 8:17 pm

I think I need a new smiley for dry wit.
all these dreams are swept aside
By bloody hands of the hypnotized
Who carry the cross of homicide
And history bears the scars of our civil wars

--Guns and Roses
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Re: Peak Pretending?

Postby 82_28 » Wed Aug 11, 2010 9:04 pm

Here's one thing I have noticed about myself and I'm sure it follows with most others as well.

I always seem to get trapped in a thought process that makes me think of myself as an actor in a movie. Once I notice it, I then think "wow, this little recursion would be good for a movie too". I can't escape it. It really bothers me.

If something happens which may remind me of something, that something is usually a movie. Often a book too. But movie flashes are more common only insofar as most everyone has seen Star Wars and hardly anybody has read White Noise and it's possible to share the communal experience more readily. Sometimes not so much. As I've grown older and my co-workers and such seem to get younger, the movie refs don't work as well anymore. I can't believe that "American Pie" is basically considered an old movie now (btw, I walked out of that one) or a "Something about Mary" is old too. I still like turning the young uns onto the simple Vacation experience. So many 20 somethings have never seen it! I'm in my mid 30s (ugh), and approximately the same age that Chevy Chase was when he made it! But I don't see myself as his age then when I watch it today. There has to be a name for this phenomenon. Here's a classic:

There is no me. There is no you. There is all. There is no you. There is no me. And that is all. A profound acceptance of an enormous pageantry. A haunting certainty that the unifying principle of this universe is love. -- Propagandhi
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Re: Peak Pretending?

Postby justdrew » Wed Aug 11, 2010 11:37 pm

good lord, never thought I mostly agree with David Stockman:

Reagan insider: 'GOP destroyed U.S. economy'
How: Gold. Tax cuts. Debts. Wars. Fat Cats. Class gap. No fiscal discipline

ARROYO GRANDE, Calif. (MarketWatch) -- "How my G.O.P. destroyed the U.S. economy." Yes, that is exactly what David Stockman, President Ronald Reagan's director of the Office of Management and Budget, wrote in a recent New York Times op-ed piece, "Four Deformations of the Apocalypse."

Get it? Not "destroying." The GOP has already "destroyed" the U.S. economy, setting up an "American Apocalypse."

Yes, Stockman is equally damning of the Democrats' Keynesian policies. But what this indictment by a party insider -- someone so close to the development of the Reaganomics ideology -- says about America, helps all of us better understand how America's toxic partisan-politics "holy war" is destroying not just the economy and capitalism, but the America dream. And unless this war stops soon, both parties will succeed in their collective death wish.

But why focus on Stockman's message? It's already lost in the 24/7 news cycle. Why? We need some introspection. Ask yourself: How did the great nation of America lose its moral compass and drift so far off course, to where our very survival is threatened?

We've arrived at a historic turning point as a nation that no longer needs outside enemies to destroy us, we are committing suicide. Democracy. Capitalism. The American dream. All dying. Why? Because of the economic decisions of the GOP the past 40 years, says this leading Reagan Republican.

Please listen with an open mind, no matter your party affiliation: This makes for a powerful history lesson, because it exposes how both parties are responsible for destroying the U.S. economy. Listen closely:
Reagan Republican: the GOP should file for bankruptcy

Stockman rushes into the ring swinging like a boxer: "If there were such a thing as Chapter 11 for politicians, the Republican push to extend the unaffordable Bush tax cuts would amount to a bankruptcy filing. The nation's public debt ... will soon reach $18 trillion." It screams "out for austerity and sacrifice." But instead, the GOP insists "that the nation's wealthiest taxpayers be spared even a three-percentage-point rate increase."

In the past 40 years Republican ideology has gone from solid principles to hype and slogans. Stockman says: "Republicans used to believe that prosperity depended upon the regular balancing of accounts -- in government, in international trade, on the ledgers of central banks and in the financial affairs of private households and businesses too."

No more. Today there's a "new catechism" that's "little more than money printing and deficit finance, vulgar Keynesianism robed in the ideological vestments of the prosperous classes" making a mockery of GOP ideals. Worse, it has resulted in "serial financial bubbles and Wall Street depredations that have crippled our economy." Yes, GOP ideals backfired, crippling our economy.

Stockman's indictment warns that the Republican party's "new policy doctrines have caused four great deformations of the national economy, and modern Republicans have turned a blind eye to each one:"

Stage 1. Nixon irresponsible, dumps gold, U.S starts spending binge

Richard Nixon's gold policies get Stockman's first assault, for defaulting "on American obligations under the 1944 Bretton Woods agreement to balance our accounts with the world." So for the past 40 years, America's been living "beyond our means as a nation" on "borrowed prosperity on an epic scale ... an outcome that Milton Friedman said could never happen when, in 1971, he persuaded President Nixon to unleash on the world paper dollars no longer redeemable in gold or other fixed monetary reserves."

Remember Friedman: "Just let the free market set currency exchange rates, he said, and trade deficits will self-correct." Friedman was wrong by trillions. And unfortunately "once relieved of the discipline of defending a fixed value for their currencies, politicians the world over were free to cheapen their money and disregard their neighbors."

And without discipline America was also encouraging "global monetary chaos as foreign central banks run their own printing presses at ever faster speeds to sop up the tidal wave of dollars coming from the Federal Reserve." Yes, the road to the coming apocalypse began with a Republican president listening to a misguided Nobel economist's advice.

Stage 2. Crushing debts from domestic excesses, war mongering

Stockman says "the second unhappy change in the American economy has been the extraordinary growth of our public debt. In 1970 it was just 40% of gross domestic product, or about $425 billion. When it reaches $18 trillion, it will be 40 times greater than in 1970." Who's to blame? Not big-spending Dems, says Stockman, but "from the Republican Party's embrace, about three decades ago, of the insidious doctrine that deficits don't matter if they result from tax cuts."

Back "in 1981, traditional Republicans supported tax cuts," but Stockman makes clear, they had to be "matched by spending cuts, to offset the way inflation was pushing many taxpayers into higher brackets and to spur investment. The Reagan administration's hastily prepared fiscal blueprint, however, was no match for the primordial forces -- the welfare state and the warfare state -- that drive the federal spending machine."

OK, stop a minute. As you absorb Stockman's indictment of how his Republican party has "destroyed the U.S. economy," you're probably asking yourself why anyone should believe a traitor to the Reagan legacy. I believe party affiliation is irrelevant here. This is a crucial subject that must be explored because it further exposes a dangerous historical trend where politics is so partisan it's having huge negative consequences.

Yes, the GOP does have a welfare-warfare state: Stockman says "the neocons were pushing the military budget skyward. And the Republicans on Capitol Hill who were supposed to cut spending, exempted from the knife most of the domestic budget -- entitlements, farm subsidies, education, water projects. But in the end it was a new cadre of ideological tax-cutters who killed the Republicans' fiscal religion."

When Fed chief Paul Volcker "crushed inflation" in the '80s we got a "solid economic rebound." But then "the new tax-cutters not only claimed victory for their supply-side strategy but hooked Republicans for good on the delusion that the economy will outgrow the deficit if plied with enough tax cuts." By 2009, they "reduced federal revenues to 15% of gross domestic product," lowest since the 1940s. Still today they're irrationally demanding an extension of those "unaffordable Bush tax cuts [that] would amount to a bankruptcy filing."

Recently Bush made matters far worse by "rarely vetoing a budget bill and engaging in two unfinanced foreign military adventures." Bush also gave in "on domestic spending cuts, signing into law $420 billion in nondefense appropriations, a 65% percent gain from the $260 billion he had inherited eight years earlier. Republicans thus joined the Democrats in a shameless embrace of a free-lunch fiscal policy." Takes two to tango.

Stage 3. Wall Street's deadly 'vast, unproductive expansion'

Stockman continues pounding away: "The third ominous change in the American economy has been the vast, unproductive expansion of our financial sector." He warns that "Republicans have been oblivious to the grave danger of flooding financial markets with freely printed money and, at the same time, removing traditional restrictions on leverage and speculation." Wrong, not oblivious. Self-interested Republican loyalists like Paulson, Bernanke and Geithner knew exactly what they were doing.

They wanted the economy, markets and the government to be under the absolute control of Wall Street's too-greedy-to-fail banks. They conned Congress and the Fed into bailing out an estimated $23.7 trillion debt. Worse, they have since destroyed meaningful financial reforms. So Wall Street is now back to business as usual blowing another bigger bubble/bust cycle that will culminate in the coming "American Apocalypse."

Stockman refers to Wall Street's surviving banks as "wards of the state." Wrong, the opposite is true. Wall Street now controls Washington, and its "unproductive" trading is "extracting billions from the economy with a lot of pointless speculation in stocks, bonds, commodities and derivatives." Wall Street banks like Goldman were virtually bankrupt, would have never survived without government-guaranteed deposits and "virtually free money from the Fed's discount window to cover their bad bets."

Stage 4. New American Revolution class-warfare coming soon

Finally, thanks to Republican policies that let us "live beyond our means for decades by borrowing heavily from abroad, we have steadily sent jobs and production offshore," while at home "high-value jobs in goods production ... trade, transportation, information technology and the professions shrunk by 12% to 68 million from 77 million."

As the apocalypse draws near, Stockman sees a class-rebellion, a new revolution, a war against greed and the wealthy. Soon. The trigger will be the growing gap between economic classes: No wonder "that during the last bubble (from 2002 to 2006) the top 1% of Americans -- paid mainly from the Wall Street casino -- received two-thirds of the gain in national income, while the bottom 90% -- mainly dependent on Main Street's shrinking economy -- got only 12%. This growing wealth gap is not the market's fault. It's the decaying fruit of bad economic policy."

Get it? The decaying fruit of the GOP's bad economic policies is destroying our economy.

Warning: this black swan won't be pretty, will shock, soon

His bottom line: "The day of national reckoning has arrived. We will not have a conventional business recovery now, but rather a long hangover of debt liquidation and downsizing ... it's a pity that the modern Republican party offers the American people an irrelevant platform of recycled Keynesianism when the old approach -- balanced budgets, sound money and financial discipline -- is needed more than ever."

Wrong: There are far bigger things to "pity."

First, that most Americans, 300 million, are helpless, will do nothing, sit in the bleachers passively watching this deadly partisan game like it's just another TV reality show.

Second, that, unfortunately, politicians are so deep-in-the-pockets of the Wall Street conspiracy that controls Washington they are helpless and blind.

And third, there's a depressing sense that Stockman will be dismissed as a traitor, his message lost in the 24/7 news cycle ... until the final apocalyptic event, an unpredictable black swan triggers another, bigger global meltdown, followed by a long Great Depression II and a historic class war.

So be prepared, it will hit soon, when you least expect.
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