23 August 2005

No Discipline

An exerpt from James Howard Kunstler's blog, Clusterfuck Nation. We are so SCREWED here in North America! Remember, boys and girls, everything is wrong...

August 8, 2005

Has the world noted that the conservative establishment in America -- including the always prim George W. Bush and his buttoned-down minions, the heavenly hosts of mass-market evangelism, the zillionaire retired CEO authors of how-to-get-rich books, and the media tub-thumpers like David Brooks of the New York Times -- I repeat, has the world noted that they all preside over the most slovenly, undisciplined, and reckless economy the world has seen since mankind started bathing regularly?

Many are amazed at the levitation of a financial system with no remaining reality-based understructure of value creation. Zero-percent financing. Loans to anybody with a pulse. Instant conversion of hallucinated house value appreciation into speedboats and Hummers, college kids declaring bankruptcy on graduation at unprecedented rates, the explosion of "creative" financial instruments conjured out of the promises of millions to pay back money that they will never earn, and swapped in a spiral of casino-like wagers into metaphysical ethers of delusion -- things like that. I sort of left out the pretend money that Mr. Bush's government itself affects to disburse, and the bond racket linked to that affectation.

We're a country with no discipline, led by fake scoutmasters, moneygrubbing ministers, chiseling accountants, and oversexed schoolmarms. The new national motto: Something for Nothing. The new spiritual capital: Las Vegas.

Now, it's my personal opinion that we really are headed for crash central this fall. The price of oil is entering uncharted territory. Natural gas has virtually tripled in price since 2003. People are beginning to fear that the heating season will be brutal for those in the employ of WalMart and worse for those in the employ of nobody. Magical as this phony-baloney over-leveraged economy has seemed, whatever remains of real life will be affected by higher gasoline prices. I know it sounds absurd to say that, because so far Americans have seemed to absorb a one year price doubling without complaint. But we're hostages to motoring, whether we like it or not, and when the price of gasoline goes north of $3 a gallon (coming very soon) yowls will be heard even in the soundproofed sanctums of Karl Rove's west wing headquarters.

Trouble is brewing with WalMart's chief partner, China. They are ticked off that they are prevented from acquiring hard strategic assets, such as US owned oil companies, with all those US dollars we have snookered them into hoarding from the sale of their plastic-ware. Together with Russia, China is egging on the former soviet-o-stans to kick out our military bases. China is inking long-term supply contracts with the people we desperately depend on for our oil: Venezuela and Canada. China is tired of our tendentious jive. Pretty soon they are going to want to try to kick our ass. Let's hope they don't try that by making moves in central Asia, where our prospects for fighting a land war with them are not promising.

Meanwhile, at home, we will come to grips with the sheer fact that a society unable to produce things of real value must contend with a tanking of those financial markers pegged to the expectation that a society can produced things of value. When that recognition hits, there will be far fewer zero percent loans and no money down ghost condo sales. The unwinding will begin. America will be reunited with it's long-lost biological parent: reality. What will the despondent public think of the conservative establishment then?

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