Tuesday, August 09, 2011

House of Cards

You play with fire long enough, you're liable to get burned.

If your object is to get back to the pre-1929 world economy, we're well on our way and it looks like the whole world is coming with us. Of course, all of this should have been expected, because what else do you think happens when the American government - maybe the one entity with the ability to spending enough money to land the economy safely - says they're going to stop spending money? Business leaders and stock brokers know that there is no one left to spend the money. Companies aren't spending money, despite massive tax breaks, subsidies, and loopholes. Individual people aren't spending money, because they're too busy trying to make ends meet. People in other nations aren't spending money, because their economies are based of the USA spending money.

Not only that, but if you borrow money from the USA, there is the very real possibility that a completely untrustworthy political group is going to put the brakes on you getting paid back so they can further curb the spending ability of the one organization left that can still spend money.

Thanks, Tea Party! Y'all own this economy, now. While all the kids may have pushed on the antique vase that ended up broken, the kid holding the baseball bat should recieve the most scrutiny. This isn't just the Tea Party Economy, y'all, this is the exactly stated results of their policies.

For a little while, it looked like we might get let down easy. The unsustainable economy America has been building over the last two generations was finally being exposed for the fraud it was. The panic of 2007-08 evaporated trillions of dollars in Monopoly Money from the economy, to the shock of many. The nation was bleeding jobs even as real estate oversupply sent house values tumbling below what owners and developers borrowed from the banks to pay for the land. Those are the types of jobs that aren't coming back, so not only are people going to need to find new jobs, they have to discover new ways to live within their means or create new jobs on their own. The whole time, the cost of health care continues to rise, along with prices of food and energy.

Of course, few politicians were willing to say in public how screwed the country is, lest they be called out for "making the situation worse" with a dose of reality. Out of our political caste, President Obama comes the closest to the truth the most often with the most consistentcy. And while that reality might draw derision from the Professional American Left, their national influence wanes the further away you get from the New York Times editorial pages.

On the other hand, talking about reality only draws howls and hatred from the fanatic and ideologically pure Right-Wing, content to sell cultural panic for the political capital necessary to win elections. At this point, the Right-Wing's stated policy goals include returning this country to a mythical utopia of stars-and-stripes-colored unicorns and business-friendly faeries where the government is based only on the parts of the Constitution they agree with. After all, the theory goes, how bad could things have been back in the days when the Founding Fathers worked tirelessly to end slavery after Paul Revere raised his guns and bells to warn the British of an insane and armed American population?

And if you think incredible historical misconceptions are very different from the historical buffoonery of Bachmann and Palin, you're just kidding yourself.

Anyone mildly versed in United States history knows that pre-1929 economics would take us back to the boom and bust cycles of pre-1929 America, where the economy didn't experience "recessions" as often as it experienced "panics." Sound good? Try this: those economic panics happened so often they had to be labeled by the year instead of the decade, and often evaporated entire regions of national economic health.

The Right-Wing political sales pitch is more American Pie than Jim Crow, Segregation, and the legacy of slavery; more Strict Constructionist than Louisiana Purchase; more "right to work" than children in the coal mines; more seperate but equal vouchers instead of public education; and more Whistlin' Dixie than the Battle Cry of Freedom that eventually mtobilized the Union for total war.

Bobby Lee might have been revered by his soldiers and, later, an America that adores tragic heroes, but Grant and Sherman came after him with more men, more guns, more ammunition, more food, railcars to move all of those things and shoes on their soldiers' feet. I think of that any time a Tea Partier from the eleven states of the Old Confederacy talk to me about government being the problem.

These howlers aren't interested in the reality of the situation with the American economy, it only matters what they can sell the loudest to the 24 hour cable news consuming public. Discussing the real problems and real solutions would be difficult professionally and would make for boring television, after all.

Well, I doubt pre-1929 America was a boring place to live, based off the history I have read. Thanks to the Tea Party Economy and the right-wing, I think we're about to get a taste of just how "exciting" that kind of life would be.

(NOTE: This was scheduled to post Monday around lunch, and then I saw that Dante had posted Monday around breakfast, so I pushed it back.)
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4 comments:

Dante said...

"(NOTE: This was scheduled to post Monday around lunch, and then I saw that Dante had posted Monday around breakfast, so I pushed it back.) "

I think it still would've fit then. Mine was more research than commentary.

"Thanks, Tea Party! Y'all own this economy, now."

I doubt that. The debt deal that actually passed was a bi-partisan bill that didn't have a lot of Tea Party support behind it. In fact, the far left and far right were the bulk of the "no" votes. If the Tea Party were the ones with the bat, they were smart enough to hand it off before anyone noticed the vase was broken.

Instead, the Right gets to heap this on a growing narrative of failure:

Obama: We need to pass stimulus or the economy will be worse.
Response: Could it be any worse?
Obama: We need to bail out the automakers or they'll go bankrupt.
Response: Chrysler still went bankrupt and then got bought out by a foreign company.
Obama: We need to pass a debt deal of we'll lose our credit rating.
Response: We did that and still lost our credit rating.

Is it fair? No (except for maybe the Chrysler one). Will it be effective in election season? Yes.

"Companies aren't spending money, despite massive tax breaks, subsidies, and loopholes. Individual people aren't spending money, because they're too busy trying to make ends meet. People in other nations aren't spending money, because their economies are based of the USA spending money. "

Now this is an interesting point. People aren't spending as much anymore. The Age of Wal-Mart is over. Buy, buy, buy is over. It might come back but it will take a while. But as a silver lining, Americans are looking for something they haven't sought out in decades: quality. Whole Foods is doing great. Apple is doing great. People aren't spending $3 on a cup of burnt coffee anymore but they are buying the good stuff at the grocery store. People aren't buying bargain basement Dells anymore but they are spending an extra $100-$200 on a computer with a better support network and better perceived quality. People aren't going out to eat but when they're eating at home they're buying higher quality meats and produce. Maybe business and government could follow the consumers' examples and find what's really important and focus on making that the best it can be. Increased consumer spending on the same things they were spending on will just lead us right back to where we are now.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

I think it still would've fit then. Mine was more research than commentary.

Yours was quite good research, and very informative. I just hate running two large posts together in such a short span of time.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

The debt deal that actually passed was a bi-partisan bill that didn't have a lot of Tea Party support behind it.

This is quite true, as are your examples of effective messaging come election time.

But the Tea Party never handed off the baseball bat.

We've arrived at the current location based on previous Tea Party messaging, and a HUGE part of that is turning back the clock to pre-1929 America. They didn't like the deal because it didn't go far enough. Their stated goal is to take us further down the road of instability.

I damn sure isn't a "liberal Keynesian" economy. It isn't even a more conservative "let us down easy" economy. No, it is a balls to the wall, market stability be damned Tea Party Economy. And they only want more of it.

As for the political marketing of that reality, I expect this to be another golden opportunity that Democrats, Liberals, and Progressives to miss completely. The message is teed up, the fairway is forgiving, and they've just been handed the driver.

So, of course, I expect them to kick at the ball.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

But as a silver lining, Americans are looking for something they haven't sought out in decades: quality.

I find this to be a natural correction to the unsustainable economy we've been running for a while now. Though it doesn't reach to the majority of purchasers, there is definitely a market to be found here.

Though I think an additional dynamic is that, when you have less disposable income, your shopping habits gravitate towards more durable goods that give you a better chance to get your money's worth.

Those looking for high quality electronics that interface well with other electronics and can expand dynamically based on software can find a long term investment in Apple products. Those looking to make cooking at home more of an event, or who eat less but want to eat a trusted product can find high quality foodstuffs at Whole Foods.