There is a point in your life when you wake up in the morning and realize you have become a cliché …
‘The End is Near’, David Sipress (The Phoenix) … when you realize it is impossible for anyone to take you seriously. You are beating your head against the wall, others laugh at you or they hate you because you are exposed and an easy ‘hate target’. You cannot accomplish anything, you are a boat beating against the current … borne back ceaselessly into ridicule, you are spitting into the wind, up a creek without a paddle, betting the wrong horse. Think of the others who have been pounding that same wall for decades … Nothing changes … the speculators always win, you are a muppet.
Dow Reaches 15,000 as Jobs Growth Exceeds Forecasts!
Inyoung Hwang – Lu Wang – May 3, 2013 (Bloomberg)!
U.S. stocks rose, sending the Dow Jones Industrial Average above 15,000 for the first time, as employment picked up more than forecast in April and the jobless rate unexpectedly declined to a four-year low!
So much for any crash, Happy Days are Here Again! White is the ‘New Black’: unemployment decreases because citizens conveniently stop looking for work. Ex-workers are removed from the unemployment relief rolls … they are then deemed to have ‘left the labor force’ or have retired. Being unemployed in this fashion is counted the same as being employed … That this is a fraud doesn’t matter: the unemployment number goes down for whatever reason, the stock market number goes up. This latter is the only number in America that matters. Indeed, we all live for the right number: Tigers 7, Astros 3 … Yay, Tigers! Because Americans live vicarious, derivative lives, the victory of the Tigers is our victory. When the Tigers lose we all die a little inside.
We should feel good about ourselves because some house flippers in California, Florida and Arizona have been brought back from the dead like vampires. This is courtesy of trillion$ in Federal government subsidies, central bank- crammed down interest rates and easy to obtain low-doc and no-doc guaranteed mortgages. Even beaten-down Detroiters have been able to garner a (small) piece of the house-flipping action. Clearly the animal spirit of unearned success and boundless avarice has refused to flicker out in the Motor City: (from Realtytrac).
It doesn’t matter that college graduates are unable to find work in their chosen fields or that 48 million of our countrymen require government assistance in order to afford to eat … it is the success of gamblers in different finance casinos, to whom everything- and everyone else is sacrificed.
Figure 1: US gasoline sales volume declines to levels not seen ten years ago (Energy Information Agency). National Public Radio says the reason is because we are buying expensive new cars, instead of being too broke to buy gas.
Howard Gruenspecht, the EIA’s acting administrator says there are many reasons for the declining demand for gasoline. They include government mandates for the use of biofuels, like ethanol; and some demographic changes -— for instance, the graying of America (older people tend to drive less). The main factor, though, is the increasing efficiency of new cars and trucks.
Rebecca Lindland, director of research for IHS Automotive, says 27 percent of the new vehicles sold in 2011 were smaller, lighter, car-based versions of the SUV, called ‘crossovers.’ “Those tend to get significantly better fuel economy than our traditional truck-based SUVs that used to account for 20 percent of all the vehicles we bought,” she says.
How the addition of fewer than ten million new vehicles with slightly better than mediocre gas mileage within a three-year period can effect the overall consumption of a 255 million vehicle fleet is not explained by NPR or the EIA. Keep in mind that the vehicles the new crossovers replace are not the ‘traditional truck-based SUVs’ … these remain in service as ‘used cars’ with new owners. Rather, crossovers replace the much older vehicles that are wrecked or retired from service. A percentage of these retirees were very small cars that happened to get much better mileage than any of the newer vehicles. Of course, this does not matter … what is important is (blind) faith in progress working properly and (unjustified) business confidence.
Selling out is so easy: ex-hippie Stewart Brand pimps ‘squatter cities’ along with nuclear reactors: prosperity is on the march, resistance is futile! It is a far, far better thing to ask, “Where’s mine?” than to criticize. The critic becomes nothing more than another brick in the Wall of Worry that the hard-nosed American Business Man must climb over in order to ‘innovate’ (MIT-Sloan).
As the expression goes, stocks are climbing a wall of worry. And by our estimates, despite economic malaise, the stock market hasn’t peaked, and we’re still on the way up. Here are some reasons why:
– The market largely reacts early in the cycle (and just remember: We are largely no higher than we were at the 2000 peak);
– We’re stimulating the market fiscally with low interest rates for some time to come;
– Businesses have cleaned up their balance sheets after the financial crisis and are now liquid (in fact many are sitting on huge cash reserves); and
– Companies are finding ways to achieve higher earnings despite a difficult political and regulatory environment.
Don’t fight the Fed. Dow 46,000! It’s never too late to jump in! Interestingly, MIT-Sloan does not mention slums as a means to prosperity, nor do they mention reactors, they must have made a spreadsheet error.
The world’s ‘Progress Economies’ have so far swallowed management outrages such as the depositor theft in Cyprus and the repeated bailouts of the Giant Banks by pensioners and others. Consequences have so far been iffy. There have been no market crashes or runs out of the banks, no additional reactor meltdowns or cities drowned by climate change, no bubbles are reverting to mean, no insurrections or violent government overthrows. The children have vanished into their parents’ basements and X-boxes. Occupy and similar social movements have enjoyed their fifteen-seconds of fame and have retreated into well-deserved obscurity; there are no replacements lurking over the horizon. The liberalizing impulses that once flared across the Middle East and North Africa have faded into power-politics-as-usual in places where open warfare has not broken out. Without consequences more outrages are certain to come. This state of affairs will remain in force as long as the promise of material plenty tomorrow remains more credible than the promise of it all unraveling.
“Poverty is therefore a most necessary and indispensable ingredient in society, without which nations and communities could not exist in a state of civilization. It is the lot of man — it is the source of wealth since without poverty there would be no labour, and without labour there could be no riches, no refinement, no comfort and no benefit to those who may be possessed of wealth — inasmuch as without a large proportion of poverty surplus labour could never be rendered productive in procuring either the conveniences or luxuries of life.”
A single person gains from the losses and efforts of the multitude; modernity offers the Invisible Thumb permanently on the balance of human affairs … as well as a collection of ‘seriously good reasons’ why this should always remain so.
” — Historian Niall Ferguson says he was “doubly stupid” for suggesting British economist John Maynard Keynes did not care about the future because he was gay.
Ferguson — Laurence Tisch professor of history at Harvard University and author of a number of historical works, including a history of money — made the remark in response to a question at an Altegris Strategic Investment Conference in Carlsbad, Calif., The Boston Globe reported.
He had been asked about one of Keynes’ most famous remarks talking about long-run investment strategies: “In the long run, we are all dead.”
Ferguson responded that Keynes, presumed to be a homosexual, did not have children and was therefore presumably not interested in the “long run” effects of the economic policies he advocated.
What comes after cliché? The Void: there is little incentive for the establishment to buy from the cliché what can be had for free everywhere else. Clichés are not dangerous. First they ignore you, then they fight you … then they go back to ignoring you some more! The establishment doesn’t have to out-perform clichés, it has only to frame every element in every discussion in terms that serve its own — extremely short term — interests: clichés are part of the frame.
The only alternative the establishment offers to individuals at this moment is to be a victim — that is, to be ‘surplus labour’ or a market fool. Far better to cliché oneself out of the line of fire … the system is too gigantic, reflexive and insensitive. It is too committed to the status quo to accept- or even understand directions that do not continually reinforce the same status quo. Resistance is futile, indeed!
Opting out is not just an expedient to avoid pesky non-linearities, it is a sea-change, a fundamental and voluntary realignment of interests away from the cannibalistic regime. By doing so the individual short-sells the status quo, at the same time he- or she fleshes out a marketplace where such short sales become meaningful … where a marketplace currently exists only in outline.
Keep in mind, the establishment itself is nothing more than an abstract idea, it is not a concrete ‘thing’. It is not formidable even though it puffs itself up in order to appear to be so … our business- and management enterprises are suicidal, they devour themselves and do so faster whenever the chance appears. Carried along with the idea are all the mechanical wind-up ‘things’ that the idea brings into being … however, every element or increment is dependent upon all of the other elements functioning predictably and providing necessary subsidies. The establishment is a very long chain masquerading as a four-dimensional lattice. This chain has no substance, only shared prejudices and fantasies. The concrete ‘things’ are fetishes, they cannot pay for themselves. As has been seen throughout our period of crisis, individuals are the unwitting bankers to the never-finished enterprises that once-upon-a-time made up modernity and that now make up its demise. Without the deluded citizen eagerly and greedily playing along there is nothing but a shell; what remains are empty promises, junk and circus tricks.
Even if the industrialists are able to make good on some of their fantasies such as pocket-sized nuclear reactors, by opting out, you will escape becoming the subsidy-of-last-resort for them. Let those who offer fantasies as ‘goods’ pay for them out of their own pockets, and not borrow then demand for others to retire the resulting debts.
– Get simple. The establishment is complexity made material: the system’s response to complexity’s shortcomings is to add to it. Becoming independent from- or less dependent upon interconnected engineered systems is a way to avoid others’ costs.
– Get Small! Ditch the growth idea starting at home. Size = vulnerability, giant size = collapse. Steve’s First Law of Economics: The costs of managing any surplus increase along with it to the point where costs ultimately exceed the worth of the surplus itself.
– Get Free. Pay off debts and flee from the Giant Banks! Stay out of the casino(s): hold onto your money and starve the tycoons: holding increases money’s worth at the same time the rich are denied access to it. They are unable to repay their own monstrous debts and are thereby ruined.
– Get close to food! Grow some yourself, patronize farmers’ markets or start one. Most communities in the United States are nowhere near able to feed themselves … even in rural areas! Industrial mono-agriculture produces ‘crops’ which are not human food. At the fringes, growing human food is making a comeback with real invention and perseverance on the part of a growing percentage of farmers. The ‘wild card’? Climate change …
– Get real! Disconnect from the mediastream: throw away the television, cancel the NetFlix subscription, use a real telephone and ditch the smartphone and its endless ‘connectivity’. What comes your way is advertising.
– Get creative. The establishment is a naked emperor. Make fun of it, tweak it, laugh at it, annoy it, make it bleed money defending its precious ‘prestige’. The use of screen-printing is encouraged.
– Get rid of the car. If you have two, sell one of them. If you have a big one, get a smaller one. If you can, become car free and enjoy life.
– Learn a skill or trade even if it seems silly. For example, learning how to sew or make hats — and buying the necessary tools — appears dumb where clothing can be had for a few dollars at a store. Learning a practical skill is an investment in yourself. The market for such things is always there, perhaps bubbling under the surface. Everyone on Planet Earth wears clothing. The current regime of cheap goods from China and elsewhere is not guaranteed over the longer term.
– Find a place to live where you are comfortable: that is, a place that has friendly people and is appealing; that is not overly expensive, dangerous, contaminated, decrepit or badly managed.
– Learn how to entertain yourself … and others. Draw, write, paint, fiddle, sing, act … garden, volunteer, carpenter, become a fire fighter, feed the hungry and destitute, become politically active … once removed from the mediastream the time must be filled with something else. Make hooked rugs.
– Be flexible. Non-linear = unpredictable. Learn to avoid rigid, doctrinaire approaches … to everything.
– Think toward nature’s parsimonious ‘economy of needs’. These are simple: food and water, clothing, shelter along with delight – love, sex and a stimulating and beautiful environment. Compare this to the industrial regime of robots and furnaces; capital consumption, waste, and profits … of material excess alongside the artificial scarcity of abstract ‘money’; of toxic contamination, greed and violence and their tyranny over all things and the extinguishing of life itself.
Over the course of hundreds of millions of years … nature has learned how to provide sustenance to our planet’s inhabitants within the boundaries of what is freely available in the form of material resources along with energy from the sun and from within the Earth. We refuse to learn, we insist there are better, more expedient ways conceived over the past fifteen-minutes, ways that ignore everything that has gone before. The river does not borrow money in order to flow. The tree does not need a permit or plan to grow; the bird flies as it will when it feels the urge to do so.
Nature builds without furnaces or plans, without debts or money, without pointless destruction. To change, we must become more like nature and less like our precious selves. Time to do so is running short: the End is Near.