Sunday, February 21, 2010

Charles Hugh Smith

Charles Hugh Smith's blog Of Two Minds is one of the best blogs out there and his current posting is without question the finest rant I have ever read. You will find a link to the left and I heartily encourage all to visit. I can't say I always agree 100% with Mr. Smith, but most days I feel as though he is saying what I would like to say. Excellent, excellent work Mr. Smith.

I am not a particularly religious person but I do consider myself a spiritual person and this country is in fact spiritually and morally rotten to the core as Charles Smith points out. It is difficult for me to express in words how screwed up we are. Our sense of honesty, fair play, and integrity are almost totally lacking. It seems as though we no longer as a society care much about right from wrong. Stealing cable? So what. Cheating on food stamps and welfare? Big deal. Laying on your fat ass while others pay for your existence? Your deserve it, right?

Whether or not the economy tanks again is almost certain in my view but certainly not assured. We may pull out of this, but when and for how long? In my mind when or if things get really tough, we are screwed because the values of the past are long gone. Many have no clue how to take care of themselves because they never had to. They don't really understand the concept of sacrifice and doing without because, let's face it, those things, which I consider to be necessary for us to right the ship, where never taught to them.

We have become largely a nation of get what you can, as much as you can, without worrying about what we have to do or who we have to step on. We feel entitled to a big house, nice car, and plenty of toys just like what we think others have. The thing is, many of those with "all the toys" really can't afford them either. We are not doomed because of the "big banks" or car companies or credit card companies or government or name your villain. We are doomed because of what we have become. Nothing wrong with being rich or poor. It just is. Nothing wrong with wanting things. What is wrong is expecting good things to come your way without earning them.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Generally I use this blog to vent about what I feel are society's ills. To shift gears a bit, I want to comment on Glenn Beck's interview of Debra Medina. I listen to Beck each day and am in general agreement with his views. True, he can be a little alarmist but these may be times that need an alarm to be sounded. We really need quality leadership and we need it right now. Since I will be voting in the Texas Republican primary and am a Libertarian, I have followed Ms. Medina's campaign with much interest. I thought she embodied all the qualities that I think Texas' governor should possess. I was absolutely shocked that she wouldn't either confirm or deny the allegation that she is a 9/11 truther.

Now, Beck has taken much heat today in the blogosphere about that interview. Some have called it a set-up or hatchet job or worse. First, I don't smell set-up at all. I think Beck expected a simple "no" and then move on to the next question. I think it was intended as a softball question. I could sense the consternation and then frustration from Beck as Ms. Medina sidestepped the question. He immediately wrote her off as well he should.

Second, I don't want a governor that is afraid to admit what he or she thinks. For the record, I think the truthers are absolute wack jobs. If they are right, God help us. Debt and budget crises don't mean anything compared to a government that would kill it's own citizens to justify a war. I am quite sure we don't know every detail of that horrible day and I'm not sure I want to. But, the idea that our own government was involved in any way is too monstrous to consider and I for one refuse to give it any consideration. However, if Ms. Medina, or any candidate for that matter, really thinks that is a possibility, they should at least have the courage to make their views known.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


Well, any who follow the market noticed that the "better than expected" employment numbers didn't do much for the Dow. I had expected wild optimism after the marked decline of the previous day. What happened? Perhaps the numbers were not believed or employment wasn't the reason for the decline after all. Many in the know, of which I am not, believe the current fear is largely due to debt. Massive debt from the consumer level up to and including states and countries. Of course the world runs on debt. Most never think about it but look at your own spending. How much would you consume if you paid cash for everything excluding houses and cars. Not nearly as much I'll wager.

The thing is, there's really nothing wrong with some amount of debt. It keeps consumers consuming which creates jobs. That's obvious. Most of us use credit in one form or other. Mortgages, car loans, credit cards. The first two are revolving- for most of us they have to be. Credit cards are another thing all together. Everyone I know says they pay their balance off each month but the stats I have seen indicate otherwise. So we keep on consuming and our credit card minimum payments continue to rise. Maybe you can keep up but eventually something unforeseen happens like an illness or job loss. Multiply that scenario my millions and and you have USA 2010.

Of course, we aren't just talking credit card defaults. A personal situation of serious magnitude nowadays will often result in the loss of a home or automobile or both. What happens when a city, state, or even country can't cover it's bills. I as I have said, I'm not an economist but it doesn't sound like a good situation to me.

I recently heard James Galbraith on a late night talk radio program. The thrust of his talk, if I understood correctly, was that all the debt amassed by the US really doesn't matter and that in reality the government will never run out of money because we can continue to print it. Wow! Doesn't make sense to me but then who am I anyhow. The only thing is, if it doesn't matter, why are investors all over the world worried about it. It seems to me, in my woefully inadequate understanding of these matters, that debt makes you beholden to someone for something. I guess maybe the important question is what you owe and to whom.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Give me a Break

I don't know about you, but when I hear the mainstream media use the term "unexpectedly" to describe yet another bad jobs report or a weaker than hoped for economic indicator, I don't know whether to laugh or punch a hole in the wall. I mean it must be obvious to all but the most detached of us that we are in a bad way. It is hard to buy into this "recovery" when most of us know people who are in very dire straits. Well, it must be getting better somewhere else right? I don't see it. The jobs report for Jan. is expected to be bad, and if you follow various sources such as Mish or Drudge, there are lots of lay-offs announced for the near future. But people are going back to work right? Doesn't seem like it when first time claims are up, continuing claims are up and morale is down. Foreclosures-up. Home sales-down. Instead of planning for the future, many are hanging on for dear life.

What can we do? Well first, you can either be the sort that looks to the government for help, or you can determine to help yourself. If you have decided to curl up in ball and wait for the government to come to your aid, you do yourself and me a disservice. Hopefully that mindset is not contagious. If on the other hand you are determined to help yourself, you have to realize that despite your best efforts you may still need help. We all need help sometimes and there is no shame in it.

Problem is, I see more and more people unwilling to try. I know people who will accept food stamps but will not sacrifice cable. Maybe they're on Medicaid and still paying for a cell phone with an unlimited data plan. Good grief what has happened to us? I am not even advocating real suffering. How about this: If you expect me to get up and go to work each day to help support you, how about using coupons at the grocery store. Maybe actually take care of yourself so you have less need of medical care. How about realizing that although there is nothing wrong with accepting help, your goal should be to take care of yourself. Food stamps, medicaid and these giant tax returns that end up being spent on t.v.s instead of necessities don't come without a price. How about a little humility instead to the attitude of entitlement that is becoming more and more common?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Be Prepared

I'm sure most everyone has noticed in the last few years you can find extreme optimism and pessimism in equal measures. On one hand it's all good and on the other it's man the lifeboats. I must admit that I likely fall generally into the latter category. Yep, I guess I'm a gloom and doomer. There is a reason I think this way. It is simply prepare for the worst and hope for the best. That simple philosophy has served me well. Maybe my investments haven't paid off big time like others' have, but I also haven't lost my ass like many have. Perhaps I don't have the most hip ride, but I can easily afford to drive and insure it. You get the picture.

I guess what I am getting at is that I don't know if our economy will recover or go down the dumper again, but I will try to be ready for the worst. I have always grown vegetables- just more of them now. I am amassing quite a store of canned goods and toilet paper. A few smart and often very accurate people stopped me in my tracks and made me consider the worst case scenario. Could these things really happen here? I don't see why not. We have some 37+ million on food stamps and other assistance,and the unemployment numbers are going the wrong way. Foreclosures are up and will likely continue rising while consumer spending is sinking.

Times are indeed tough. How tough? I believe things are almost certainly worse than they are being portrayed by the mainstream media. For a look at what a couple of really smart people think, follow some of my links and see what Mish and Charles Hugh Smith have to say on the subject. I think making the same types of preparations one would make in the event of any crisis would be wise. Let's face it,even if the world doesn't end tomorrow, it is wise to be prepared for emergencies. It's hard to imagine all that toilet paper going to waste.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The State of the Union

While I am not going to go into great detail about the President's recent address, I must say there were several things that I found objectionable. The only subject that I will address here is the idea that we must somehow bring home values back up. I understand his reasoning,or do I? I assume that he wants values to increase so that we may once again use our homes as piggy banks to purchase things that we couldn't otherwise afford.

Speaking only for myself, it seems as though that is a quick way to get us right back where we were. I mean, my home is my home. I don't intend to sell anytime soon or borrow against it's value. Certainly the unforeseen does happen, but mainly I am poking at people who borrow against their home's value for that new boat that they can't live without. Really, we need a reality check in this country. C'mon people- let's get serious here. I know lots of folks want the new boat( or whatever) because their neighbor just got one but guess what-he probably can't really afford it either. Home prices were and still are too high and we all know it. Do we really need to trade up to bigger and better every few years? Of course not. What we need is a home we can comfortably afford in a community we love. That and good neighbors is about all that we need.

I think that if affordable homes are as important to President Obama as he has said, isn't a better solution to simply let home prices find their own level without the government mucking about with the market. If you are a speculator, I can see your desire for values to rise. But the vast majority of us aren't. Most of us simply want to be able to buy a home without having to raid the kid's college funds.
2Feb 2010- As the name of this blog may or may not imply, this is largely commentary about our disordered society. In general I will be sort of identifying what I view as social ills and how I think they relate to our current difficulties, both economic and otherwise. I may from time to time include charts and graphs and links, but in general, since I am neither an economist or psychologist, this blog is merely my opinions and observations and hopefully yours as well.