Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Debt Ceiling Fatigue

As the endless debate concerning the national debt plods on in Washington, I'm starting to detect, especially in the last couple of days, definite signs of fatigue – or maybe it's apathy – on the part of the public. And not only the public, but entities like the stock market, which normally reacts to financial-type woes in the capital the way elephants are said to react to mice. And yes, the American public and the media they feed on (or maybe it's the other way around) do have a notoriously short attention span, no doubt. But this is more than that – there seems to be a growing skepticism as to the truth of government, and media, pronouncements about all the horrible things that will happen if some settlement is not reached before that magical, mystical, Armageddon-like date of August 2. Why, it will be as if Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra, and Gamera held a cage fight with the entire country as the arena! It will be the economic equivalent of Pearl Harbor, 9/11, and Elvis's first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, all rolled into one!

But even the worst “news” (even if nothing has actually happened as yet) gets tiring after a while. People are starting to speak up, albeit in a tentative way, and propose that the world might not come crashing down on August 2 even if Congress and the White House are still locked in debate at that point. The government will not be flat broke (even if it is already bankrupt) and a lot of bills will still get paid – maybe not all, and maybe not 100% right away... but this is apparently not good enough for the perfectionists out there, who claim that a “default” would be the worst thing to ever happen to the economy. Frankly, I think our inability to borrow more money would be the _best_ thing to ever happen to the economy... but let that go for now. The point is that the steady drumbeat of horror stories is starting to fall on deaf ears... and who knows, there might be some out there who, like me, consider the whole thing a hoax. What I think is that it's another excuse, like the Great Recession, for those in control to conduct another raid on the middle class – given that there is any middle class left, which means that they didn't do a sufficiently thorough job the first time around. And what makes me think this? Simply that the Great Recession, so-called, was only a recession if you were middle or lower class. If you were one of those in charge, it was the greatest get-rich-quick scheme ever devised. It was, in other words, a massive redistribution of wealth in an upward direction; those at the top of the totem pole stayed as fat as ever, and many got even fatter (have you checked out the high-end art market lately?). But of course the caper could not be pulled off in broad daylight... actually it was, but it was disguised as something else. We've all heard the litany a thousand times, and I quote from a recent article on the new “consumer watchdog agency” (you know, the one where the watchdog is comatose and has no teeth):

“Congress created that agency in response to the subprime mortgage scandal that crashed the housing market, sank the economy and cost millions of Americans their homes.”

See how easily that rolls off the tongue, and into the brain? You can say it in one breath. And this has already been put in place as the core myth behind the Great Recession – it was all the fault of... well, somebody... but that person, or those persons, are never named. And what made it a “scandal”? Even if it's true, the mortgage market was just responding to pressure from the government – and to the realization that any defaults would be generously covered by additional government programs, which they, in fact, were. And the process is still going on, so it clearly can't have been a “scandal” -- it was just business as usual. But the subprime mortgage market, which was suspect from the start, did serve as a convenient scapegoat for all that has happened since – the first domino to fall, if you will, which should have immediately raised questions as to why the system – all the other dominoes – was so fragile and out of control. But of course it was neither; the whole operation was meticulously planned from the beginning. At least that's my theory, and I have yet to see any evidence to refute it.

So the people who lost ground during the Great Recession, and who continue to lose ground, should at least be glad that somebody benefited from it all – I mean, all that “lost wealth” had to go somewhere; it didn't just slip into a hole in the ground. If I “packaged” a bunch of subprime mortgages and sold them to someone else, I wound up with the cash, right? A lot of people walked away very rich from that scam... but even so, I refuse to believe that the subprime market was the “shot heard 'round the world” on which all else depended. That just strains credulity to the breaking point. I'm sorry, but the system is simply too big, and it's a lot more solid than they want you to believe. This is more like the discount joints that have a “fire sale” every week or two, whether there's been a fire or not... or the rug dealers who are forever going out of business. In other words, it's a con. And in fact, the stock market has basically recovered – this began the minute the ordinary investors all panicked and sold at, um, fire sale prices to the people in the know. The time-honored notion of a “shared sacrifice” simply did not apply in this case; as usual, the ones making the sacrifice were the outsiders, and the ones benefiting were the insiders.

And so it is – or will be – regardless of how the current debt limit debate turns out. And I think that people are finally starting to catch on – to government scams, to the fact that the media are nothing more than government mouthpieces, to the technique of keeping everyone in a state of fear and panic while the “fat cats” puff away on their cigars as usual (not that I have anything against cigars, mind). So people are starting to ask what, precisely, does this “default” entail, and who, precisely, is going to be hurt by it (if the answer is China, it's no wonder people are becoming indifferent). And what they should be asking is, who will benefit? But I guess that will have to come later.

And you can be sure that if all is not resolved in another week, the Regime will orchestrate some sort of economic rolling blackout, just to convince people that all they said was true – and that will, in turn, stimulate the electorate to hand over even more power to the government, which is, after all, one of the goals of the exercise, just as it was one of the goals of the Great Recession. And we will have been pillaged again, in the manner of the classic and picturesque raids by the Huns, Vandals, Visigoths, etc. But let's not confuse that degree and type of badness with things being out of control; au contraire, things will be very much under control, just as they are now.

No comments: