Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Facts and Figures, Whys and Means

Fact 1: There is too much debt in the economy to be properly serviced by the earned income generated. Total debt has doubled as a percentage of disposable income in the past 25 years.

Figure 1

Why did it happen? Because wages and salaries (i.e. earned income) were kept artificially low in the name of "competitiveness", while consumption was boosted through ever increasing debt.

What does it mean? Assuming even more debt and/or replacing private debt with public, as is currently happening, cannot resolve this fundamental problem. Instead, debt must be liquidated.

Fact 2: Saving has disappeared in the US. Every penny earned is consumed.

Figure 2

Why did it happen? The stagnation of real wages and salaries meant that less income could be saved and had to be consumed to maintain the American Lifestyle. In addition, way too much social emphasis was placed on consuming vs. producing.

What does it mean? The US economy cannot finance itself internally and has to rely on foreign investors and lenders. Unless reversed, this trend spells big trouble geopolitically.

Fact 3: There was wholesale removal of manufacturing from the economic base after 2000 (aka China's "miracle"). Millions of well paid jobs were replaced by service sector jobs, many in the very low-pay area of leisure and hospitality (waiters, chambermaids, etc.).

Figures 3 and 3a

Why did it happen? Because neo-liberal and neo-con policy makers made a conscious decision to replace manufacturing with its pesky labor unions and associated politically troublesome middle class, with an indentured social class of dependent service workers. All in the name of "free" markets, of course.

What does it mean? The imminent end of the US as a superpower. Supercomputers and fuel cells are not developed by a java-and-jelly donut economy. Globalization means that education, knowledge and technology are, in fact, fungible and transferable. In the absence of a local base of utilization high value-added jobs are free to go where they please.

Conclusions
a) Debt must be liquidated and earned income increased.
b) Saving must be increased by reducing consumption in order to fund investment (preferably in energy infrastructure) and to reverse the loss of geopolitical importance.
c) Manufacturing must be emphasized in order to regain technological leadership.

48 comments:

OkieLawyer said...

I have the feeling you are this post will stir up the hornet's nest today. But you are completely right, of course.

The real problem, however, is that because of the massive government debt to GDP ratio, I'm afraid massive manufacturing and infrastructure rebuilding will be very difficult to pull off.

This is an area where your expertise is more valuable than mine. It is my understanding that if we were to attempt to use more deficit spending to rebuild our infrastructure, that the bond markets would put a crimp on those plans. Therefore the only way to achieve it would be to raise taxes precipitously, which would crimp private investment, hurting private employment.

Is there no way to escape this dilemma?

OkieLawyer said...

Oops! Strike "you are" from my first sentence to read it properly.

Hellasious said...

Re: Is there no way to escape this dilemma?

Yes, because it is not a dilemma. The problem is not that government debt is too high, per se, but that overall (total) debt is too high. So we reduce private debt via liquidation (eg bankruptcy) and re-employ capital (debt and equity) to infrastructure.

Such new capital to be raised via saving vs. consumption.

There is no need to massively raise taxation. Raising the saving rate would have the exact same effect on capital formation and would even be preferable to taxation. It would promote private solutions vs. govt. ones.

Thai said...

Hell said...

"Why did it happen? The stagnation of real wages and salaries meant that less income could be saved and had to be consumed to maintain the American Lifestyle. In addition, way too much social emphasis was placed on consuming vs. producing."

I guess (as seems to be the norm of late), I will be the first to lob a grenade into the conversation.

Your analysis seems to consistently miss the biggest consumption issue of them all- changes in our aggregate personal behavior harming our own and/or others' personal health.

Why such inconsistency with the word 'permagrowth'?

Conservation seem to have an odd dichotomy on this blog:

Focus on ending bigger houses and gas guzzling cars- everyone sees ending 'permagrowth' as positive.

Focus on ending personal lifestyle choices/behaviors that cost 2 orders of magnitude more than those same cars and houses and suddenly 'permagrowth' becomes dirty to some.

It's as if we have a two dimensional understanding of the word conservation yet live in a three dimensional society.

If we don't fight wars we don't spend the money on arms, etc...

If we turn off light bulbs when we leave the room, we don't spend the money on electricity.

If we alter our behaviors, we don't spend the money on the consequences of those behavioral alterations.

If we don't get fat, we don't spend the money on artificial knees and sleep apnea evaluations and the coronary artery bypass surgeries, etc... (nor do we spend it training surgeons to put knees or heart bypass grafts in).

If we don't shoot each other in the streets, we don't spend the money on shooting each other.

This is where all the money keeping incomes stagnant is going- I dare you to do a post on health care, personal behaviors and consequences and not immediately recognize this.

Why does this seem to be such a Black Swan to you and others?

Hellasious said...

re: Black swan

Not at all. Ulra consumption is bad no matter where it appears. In fact, lots of the misbegotten consumption is responsible for even more consumption in the healthcare area. As you well pointed out.

Exercise regularly, eat healthy and less, work in a less stressful way.. SUSTAIN your health...

I don't see the dichotomy at all. Or the grenade, for that matter.

Brant said...

My wife and I not big spenders anyway, goodwill (seeing more people there), yard sales, never malls, etc. Our current/previous? economy was built on buy, buy, buy. While it will hurt bad, would it be "good" if the Christmas season buying is greatly reduced? Maybe just maybe people and families will quickly realize (few weeks/couple months) they don't need all that stuff and family time is much more important. When they get back to shopping they will be more thrifty/thoughtful and the businesses will quickly produce products for this new found mentality.....or fail to survive.

Smokers and overeaters see very noticeable changes in a matter of days/weeks after changed behavior. It seems like all we need (we might get anyway) are a few months of austerity and people will say, "I don't need 80% of the stuff I have".

Brant, Atlanta, GA

Camabron said...
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Camabron said...
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Camabron said...

...and it all happened because the federal government and congress are owned by corporations who were the first ones to profit by shipping manufacturing to China.

A country can either have big gov and small business (bad - ie Soviet Union) or small gov and big business (good - ie Switzerland, Hong Kong), but big gov and big business like in the present day USA is a bad combination also (plutocracy).

Jesse said...

Brilliant post and I thank you for it.

damocles said...

policy makers made a conscious decision to replace manufacturing with its pesky labor unions and associated politically troublesome middle class, with an indentured social class of dependent service workers.

And it only took 40 years.

Instead of asking, "what do you do?" perhaps we should ask "what do you produce?" Most Americans would have to say, "nothing."

Anonymous said...

Commodity Bull-Whip

I have a conern that I have not seen posted anywhere. The deflation / inflation debate is rampant.

Can we have both?

Deflation of productive assets decreases production dramatically. This drives producers out of business. This creates intense scarcity driving up prices.

My first concern is with oil - OPEC nations become politically unstable and production ceases.

My second concern is with agriculture. Farmers can't get credit to plant.

There are some vicious feedback systems and lags at work here. They are happening much faster than at any point in previous history.

There is a probability that the bull-whips in separate industries could align creating currently inconceivable prices (swings).

Oil is at $40. This appears indicative of a fat-tail event that should raise alarms just as much as $150.

Just looking for some restful sleep...

Anonymous said...

I don't see anyone raising this issue. Could it possibly be that what is happening economically in theworld is somewhat scripted? Don't you think Bernanke and Paulson know the issues that caused this and how to really fix it if they wanted to?

I personally believe this is all a part of bigger plan to move to a new world currency and new world order as directed by Cecil Rhodes, Nathan Rothschild, and a few other very rich men.

I recommend everyone read "The Creature From Jekyll Island". It will open your eyes.

Cottonbloggin said...

Hell,

Liquidating debt, increasing earned income thru investment in manufacturing, and increasing the savings rate are all great solutions. Probably the only legitimate solutions. But, they all take TIME.

How long do you suppose it would take to right the system and get to the point you describe? 5, 10, 15 years? Longer? We don't have the luxury! The clock is ticking. And when the alarm rings, it won't just signal the end of American superpower status.

All your posts imply that we have enough TIME to salvage what needs to be salvaged. But riddle me this:

1- What happens if the system collapses FASTER than is possible to increase wages / savings / and create the manufacturing base? (I see an apocalypse of sorts, but please Hell, paint me YOUR version of the picture)

2-What happens if the system collapses SLOWLY and we actually have the TIME to enact the solutions you lay out? Hell, paint me that picture too, cause I'm missing some vital part of your vision... See, supercomputers? Fuel Cells? The only reason we want these things is so that we can live a life of ease... the type of life a wise man once dubbed the, "Java and jelly doughnut economy."

Hell... I think it's TIME to start dreaming a different dream.

I think it's TIME to stop worrying so much about what our knowledge can MAKE for us, and start using our knowledge to enrich us and make us happy.

The reason I'm here is because I enjoy-- more than anything else-- the reckless PURSUIT of knowledge. I don't need a supercomputer. I have a laptop. I don't need a fuel cell... I have a bicycle-- and fucked if I don't enjoy riding it (even in the snow)!

so I say... let it BURN! I've traveled the world. I've got great friends on every continent but the cold one. I've got great family. I'm happy. And when things change? Well, come spring I'll start growing vegetables, and I'll be JUST as happy sitting in the dirt listening to birdsong as I was listening to an Italian read Michelangelo's poetry in the Accademia.

dearieme said...

"way too much social emphasis was placed..." So now we know who to blame - Death to the Placers of Social Emphasis!

dink said...

Is it possible to have capitalism without permagrowth? Especially with an expanding population?

Hellasious said...

Re: is it possible to have capitalism without permagrowth? Especially with an expanding population?

No. I expect permagrowth, capitalism and population trends will evolve/morph into something else, more compatible with sustainability.

Anonymous said...

But which is it?

In your last post you say that the problem is the overwhelming amount of CDS between corporates.

Now you say the problem is our overindebtedness. Those are two different and quite independent problems.

Suppose we normal people all lived prudently, but the corporates got into this CDS situation? What then? I guess that if we hadn't gotten into debt, nothing would have triggered defaults on those CDS.

But if something did trigger those defaults anyway, we would all suffer (job losses, etc.) despite our exemplary habits.

So is it our fault, for triggering defaults on their CDS? Isn't it mainly their fault for their unregulated greed?

Hellasious said...

The major problem is that there is too much debt and it cannot be properly serviced by earned income.

CDS is a symptom, not a cause per se. If there wasn't so much debt sloshing around CDS wouldn't pose a threat.

Greenie said...

Hell, I do not understand all these passive tenses in your post. Who is responsible for the problems you described? Who are these 'neo-liberal and neo-con' policy makers? Is it a dictatorship or did people bring them to power?

Why do you think giving more power to the government, except that asking them to do different thinks (alternate energy), be the solution of the crisis?

IMHO, commies like you are the cause of the problem. You tried an experiment of socialism, but ended up creating a Frankenstein.

François said...

Do not forget the role played by the WTO.

You should call for resignation of Pascal Lamy and the WTO staff by the way.

The WTO has been instrumental in the cancerous development of this Bretton-Woods-II-liquidity-aka-debts-based globalization miracle.

Globalization - like any trade activity - only makes sense in a sound monetary system...

We will soon have something worse than a tariff war, a situation in which states will massively flush their industrial and/or export base with cash in order to have them survive.

At the expense of their currencies. And not only in China... And not only in the automobile industry... In all sectors plagued with massive over-capacities. I prefer not to set a list of them...

Lamy and his staff should have called for a review of the International Monetary System way earlier...

Starting when currency dumping practices became well established. No fair commerce can be properly handled without a fair currency system.

Anonymous said...

Increase the savings rate?
Save into what?
Stocks? Banks?
Who's got the money to save? The money has vanished. All that remains is IOU's.
Wallstreet, the FED, Paulson, making huge profits playing with money, like a massive pyramid ponzi sceme. Everyone on the bottom of the ladder gets screwed.
Every American has been robbed.

Increase manufacturing?
Manufacture what? Windmills? The oil powers that run this country don't want fuel cell technology.
A lot of machinery has already been shipped away and or collecting dust and rusting out.
Most Americans have so much useless shit.

Bankrupt the Debt.? Who's money are you defaulting on? You just can't push the reset button. The money created was backed by someone savings, yours, the chinese, japs, saudi's, then leveraged to the hilt. The FED knew, and now want full control and don't give a shit what damage they leave behind.

It has nothing to do with stupid terms like socialism. It has to with money and power. So you get to vote for jokers, and believing we as Americans have any power?

The idealogy of communist theory is superior, but lacks the basic understanding of human nature. It doesn't work, just like capitalism.
Corruption, with money has violated all the rules and now there is no way to fix it.
The new american dream, will be not going to bed hungry, with a roof over your head. Sweet dreams.

Homer Simpson said...

Greenie said... "I do not understand all these passive tenses in your post. Who is responsible for the problems you described? Who are these 'neo-liberal and neo-con' policy makers? Is it a dictatorship or did people bring them to power?


Amen!

... And the greatest irony of all is while it's hard to change someone else's actions, it is relatively easy to change my own.

Hell and Dink, what other system? Hope on a non-existent alternate system is not a policy response. Excess got us in, less excess - conservation will get us out.

This crisis does not need to be solved with more work, or more physical production of goods in the US (lower cost labor/robots took those job forever). The problem needs to be solved with less subsidy of non-productive behaviors and actions whether we are capitalist OR socialist.

Since behavior-action-consequence units follow Pareto spreads just like wealth distributions (there are certain behavior-action-consequence that are vastly more expensive to the collective than other's), I suggest we stop subsidizing the most expensive clusters first and just say "no"- a few will suffer nasty consequences but most other people will ultimately change their behavior as the subsidies stop. It will be painful for some but the collective will be safe and the pain will be felt on far fewer people than your approach.

This is simple collective- hive game theory and is very well understood. Why do armies send some units on suicide missions?

Hubbs said...

Hellasious,

The fact is that it only takes 1% of the population to farm and grow our food. Automation decreases the need for manual labor. Doesn't this boil down to the fact that much of humanity is "obsolete" and that this empowers the lucky or clever few to concentrate wealth and power through exploitation of the masses looking for work outside the agrarian economy? Back in the Great Depression,50% of the people were engaged in farming on a self subsistence level. This is not the case now.

You forgot to add the increased numbers of government workers to the service sector substitution.

You are dead on the concept of sustainability as opposed to the past mantra of economic growth. I think this is the single most important objective that needs to be realized before we can stop this orgy of government sponsored bailouts to keep people borrowing. It's madness!

There should be a radical revision of the tax code to a VAT which taxes consumption, and encourages saving and conservation.

If we were to suddenly discover or transition to a more plentiful supply of energy, such as a Manhattan Project to develop fusion, or wind or solar energy generation efficiency were to take a quantum leap, then humanity could truly enjoy an increased standard of living.

lineup32 said...

Manufacturing has become highly efficient using less and less wages to produce just about anything, its primariy drawback is its ability to overproduce. Solving this overproduction has expressed itself in our business structure through easy credit and extensive advertising to generate the demand side necessary to feed the machines.
While it takes less direct labor to produce widgets the process generates overhead related cost in sales,advertising, finance, we can clearly see growth of this in American economy which is a simple reflection of the power of manufacturing automation.
The over emphasis on manufacturing operations moving to China and its impact on American wages blurs the reality of what overproduction via a highly efficient industrial manufacturing sector requires from the demand side.
The current response to the demand side slow down is political and status quo but expected.
We in the United States have had a unusual period of growth and increase in living standards which has finally peaked,the impact of this peaking will be the bread and butter discussion such as this for decades.

Anonymous said...

Hello Hell,

Do you ever go back and re-read your old material???

I've been re-reading all your stuff from Dec 2006. AWESOME!

Keep up the good work.

Miss America

p.s. Are there any "stand out pieces / work" that you've put together that you go back and read and say: Damn I nailed it there!!!

If so, can you throw a couple dates/titles so I can go back and re-read them.

thanks again.

jp said...

lineup32 writes:

"Manufacturing has become highly efficient using less and less wages to produce just about anything, its primariy drawback is its ability to overproduce. Solving this overproduction has expressed itself in our business structure through easy credit and extensive advertising to generate the demand side necessary to feed the machines."

That has never make any sense to me.

If the manufacturing at issue is unprofitable because it's "overproductive", then it's unprofitable. That's a capital malinvestment problem.

No need to create a "demand side" to "feed the machines."

That's just creating artifical demand and filling the world with excess junk.

jp said...

Hellasious writes:

"The major problem is that there is too much debt and it cannot be properly serviced by earned income.

CDS is a symptom, not a cause per se. If there wasn't so much debt sloshing around CDS wouldn't pose a threat."

Isn't there a problem with using bad debt as collateral for new credit issuance?

lineup32 said...

JP:

we are still in the Henry Ford model of business investment.
My own experience as a small/medium manufacturing owner was that as I purchased faster more efficient equipment I needed to generate more volume to cover the new debt but my competitors did the same so in fact demand as measured in sales volume declined for all of us as the new equipment
eat up any new volume and processed the old sales volume faster thereby making us all invest in sales and marketing to somehow make up the difference which has never happened. My guess this is occuring across a wide spectrum of business/manufacturing.

Anonymous said...

Hellasious,

I don't think CDS is a symptom of the debt problem, because I think one could have CDS even if there is not the debt level. One could have CDS in China for example. The only way it's a "symptom" is of a general decline in prudence all around, because CDS are treated as insurance but not backed adequately. There must be other problems as well, like overconcentration in services and especially financial services.

Hubbs you are absolutely right. We now have too much productive capacity for everyone to work 8 hours a day, and if some work less voluntarily or because they cannot find jobs, it does not mean others should take their share for themselves. Capitalism has to be adjusted.

Still I admit I feel little sympathy for certain unproductive sectors of our economy. Realtors keep coming to mind. They should have a turn at very humble work.

Drake said...

Excellent mail! Thanks.

Note to those who keep up cooking theories of great conspiracies: sorry but no way. It is much more simple and therefore also more frightening. The bad things happen due massive stupidity and gargantuan greed. There is no ring of insiders that we could just overthrow. The greedy idiots are everywhere.

Personally do not think that neither communism nor capitalism are viable systems. What would work? Something from the middle maybe?

And getting America out of this mess without rising taxes, ha ha, a good one.

VAT is no good, be course it will hurt the poorest most. You need to tax those who have the money, and not those who spend every cent they own to sustain themselves.

And to invest in infrastructure is absolutely necessary. Energy, roads, fast railways.

Thai said...

Cottonbloggin said "I think it's TIME to stop worrying so much about what our knowledge can MAKE for us, and start using our knowledge to enrich us and make us happy."

We did, it's called Oxycontin and it seems to make you happier than you can possibly imagine!... But it doesn't seem to be solving society's ills contrary to all promises by the manufacturer.

... Might I suggest you look down nihilism's path a little further and see if you can find any other escape hatches? Happiness shouldn't be our only-ultimate goal either.
(not that I mind it one bit and I certainly wish it for you and others).

And I sure do hope we don't use these Mediocristan approaches for our Extremistan world, unless of course they are the way we get those who rally around them to cooperate on their issues a little bit more.

dink said...

" permagrowth, capitalism and population trends will evolve/morph into something else, more compatible with sustainability."

Agreed. I've been thinking that capitalism never was really an organized or thought-out system. The inherent weaknesses of the idea were masked by the abundance of the planet. But now that seems to be getting tapped out.

Sooooo. I guess we'll have to inventory what we can reasonably produce, call that the sustainability threshold, divide that by the number of people currently on the planet (tell citizens that from 2010 forward they can't create more than 2 kids so the # of people doesn't change in the future), assign labor as needed, and just hang out in our spare time.

I have to wonder if the sustainability/people ratio would mean only working, say, 13 hours a week if everyone could be brought up to US education standards. Once we colonized some other planets with mega resources we could resurrect capitalism.

Maybe people who didn't want to participate could be given Oxycontin for life. That way we could keep the hedonists out of our way while we try to save our species.

Phil W in Atlanta said...

I agree with most of the writer's observations but must point out one sore point lacking in explanation. Many lament the low savings rate as if this is something attributable to selfish life styles when it seems to me that the fact of the matter is: why put your fiat FRNs in a bank account where you are guaranteed to lose money? No bank offers a positive, real rate of return. Why should anyone agree to "earn" 2% when inflation is 12%?? Why do you suppose M3 was stopped being reported? Remember that the COT report was also on the chopping block. We can count on the govt for lies, deception and obfuscation, but sources such as this should at least be more accurate.

J said...

Hellasious say that there was a decision to eliminate American industry to eliminate labor unions and the middle class. Nonsense. Too diabolical. It was a natural, spontaneous change, and it follows the same trend in the UK and Europe.

Debt cannot be solved but through inflation. And it will be solved.

America is a superpower primarily because it has twelve carrier groups while its enemies have none. And it has the will to use them, which its enemies and rivals have not.

Cottonbloggin said...

Thai--

Who said anything about oxycontin?

My point-- and I believe you missed it completely-- was that America doesn’t have the Time or the resources to fix the current system. As a result we won’t be able to institute the kind of sustainable system that Hell seems to want to put in place. That said, we are faced with a POTENTIAL Black Swan which has the ability to tear asunder the economic fabric which we rely on, which would have disastrous repercussions on the social and political systems we are part of.

Taleb chimes in. He writes; I am “very conservative when I am under threat from a negative Black Swan.” (p.296).

So... if the basic necessities of survival are threatened by a potential Black Swan economic collapse (and they would be since our agriculture policy is not sustainable without government assistance and a version of our economic system), it seems reasonable to be conservative and focus on the mediocristan world of self sufficiency (see permaculture).

The problem with such a focus-- and this is the only reason I brought up happiness-- is that it is a less desirable option when compared to the luxuries permagrowth affords us (oxycontin / cheap international travel). In order to make the transition to self sufficiency it would be necessary to change the cultural value system AWAY from the Ipod, and TOWARD more mundane pleasures like “birdsong”.

We have to come to grips with the fact that we fucked up, and put high tech innovation and growth on the backburner for a few decades. I said in my last post that, “it’s Time to start dreaming a different dream”. MY dream of the future is one in which every man woman and child grows up in a household that is more or less self sufficient in terms of food and energy production. It would splinter the social fabric into many small enclaves, BUT.. would increase potential pragmatic invention in one's garage.

and if it doesn't work... what’s wrong with a little opiate derived happiness?

“John Adams, irreverent to the end, declared that, if it could ever be demonstrated conclusively that no afterlife existed, his advice to every man, woman, and child was to “take opium.””

Thai said...

Cottonbloggin said...

“John Adams, irreverent to the end, declared that, if it could ever be demonstrated conclusively that no afterlife existed, his advice to every man, woman, and child was to “take opium.””

LOL!!!!!! :-)

I just read that England is facing another peak crisis. I wonder if the guys at Treasury have a plan to bail them out as well?

dink said...

"put high tech innovation and growth on the backburner for a few decades"

You need to separate high tech innovation (science) from growth (unnecessary consumerism). Science can lead to less waste of resources which is absolutely in line with sustainability.

BTW, John Adams was a tool.

yoyomo said...

Thai,
Colbert already has them covered, he's volunteering to personally make up any shortfall.

M. said...

"New York City woke up this morning to find that some committed satirists had delivered unto them a remarkably well-rendered facsimile of the New York Times, filled with earnest and hopeful headlines from the future -- specifically July 4, 2009 -- in which the Iraq War is over, Bush is indicted for treason, and columnist Thomas Friedman has confessed: "I have no business holding a pen, at least with intent to write." According to Editor & Publisher, these fake copies of the NYT were distributed nationwide."

Debra said...

Good post, good comments today, my friends.

I will proceed to play from left field :

I am endlessly amazed that when I further utopian ideals, there is invariably a slew of people who do not take me seriously, because utopia is unrealistic.
But careful examination of these people's positions invariably reveals a deep, hidden streak of apragmatism which makes my utopianism look like peanuts in comparison.

No-one, including Hell, on this blog has shown the slightest inclination to take seriously my criticism of the creation of usury way back in the 14-15 century.
If I bring this up again, it is because a quick glance at history shows that the currency system has, over a period of several hundred years, reached new heights in abstraction.
We are animals, my friends.
We may think, but our thinking is limited.
In time, and in space.
The more our lives become abstract, the less they become...
FULFILLING.
HAPPY.
CONNECTED.
The current system is doomed, not because of debt, bankruptcy, ecology, or whatever, although all of this is obviously important.
It is doomed because we have reached the absolute limit of what our minds can connect to in our daily lives.
So...
I fear that we will have to show great "species" courage, and invent something, which, for the time being, will be less abstract, while waiting for the whole process to pick up again, which it will, but over a long period of time.
No more currency.
So...
How else could we go about living together ?
Why do we have to buy and sell ?
What's so great about that ?
Can't we feel good about ourselves, have a sense of accomplishment, etc in any other way ?
Personally, I THINK THE PROTESTANT WORK ETHIC SUCKS.
I like working (but not for money.)
Money is so fucking vulgar. So...cheap.
And...
I HATE BEING OWNED BY AN EMPLOYER MORON.
Montaigne's lovely friend Etienne de la Boétie wrote "De la servitude volontaire" in and around 1600 ( I am SO lousy for dates) to try to understand just HOW people could manage to participate so actively in their own enslavement. A mystery...

The world is beautiful. Nature is beautiful.
I spend more and more time looking at it, trying to understand it, and showing other people how to appreciate it, to look at it.
The ducks aren't working.
The trees aren't working.
They aren't running around like morons, driving cars in a hurry to get to improbable places.
And another thing.
WHAT, ME WORRY ?
WHY ?
My mother used to say, "when rape is inevitable, relax and enjoy it." Maybe she was right. Certainly getting all worked up about it won't change anything, will it ?

And one last BOMB :

In order to understand the momentous changes in American society during the 20th century, it is absolutely ESSENTIAL to examine the changing position of women, and the impact.
Getting women out of the home has had two major effects :
the creation of a low paid service economy
the fecalization of anything and everything that goes on in the home GRATUITOUSLY, counterpart, the glorification of WORK outside the home for a salary.
I am not a feminist these days, my friends.
I am a maitresse de maison.

lineup32 said...

Without strong consumer demand we do not have a economy since our industrial manufacturing driven base is focused on eliminating labor(floor labor)we call that productivity via automation.
Our ecnomic model then has become demand driven with financial, marketing & sales, Insurance and other service related jobs driving demand measured in consumer spending.
We are a volume manufacturing centered economy rather then a job shop or custom manufacture such as the black smith in years gone by that made whatever somebody needed and had no inventory.
The political class understands that consumer spending (demand) is all we have left or what they understand is valuable from a economic point of view and so they are consumed with reinflating RE, auto and other large consumer items to drive what they consider the economy.

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dink said...

Debra,
Your mother's quote is offensive. Any woman who is not a feminist is either useless or dangerous.

Debra said...

Well, dink, so...
as a MAN you are going to selflessly work toward MY liberation, whether I desire it or not ?
And...
Am I to understand that I am useless and dangerous ?
Thank you, dink.
That's about the greatest compliment anyone has paid me yet on this blog.
I must be doing/saying something right..

AdelmTaji@yahoo.com said...

The money system we have is all screwed up beacuse...1 The creation of the federal reseve in 1913..2 If you take a close look at the way the system works money can only be created by dept!...and last ..3 The more consumer dept and the more goventment bonds purchased by the fed...the more we debase our currency... how can we stop it....lol...ha ha ...good luck with that one..maybe we can reinstate the greenback...

Ashtanga in the Desert said...

Dink said - (tell citizens that from 2010 forward they can't create more than 2 kids so the # of people doesn't change in the future),

You hit the nail on the head. The #1 issue facing us is overpopulation. However, there is a problem with your calculation.

Even if every couple has only 2 children, the population will still continue to grow exponentially - especially as life expectancy increases.

The only way to stop population growth is for people to have 1 or 0 children. If a couple has 2 children, the couple would have to die immediately - just to keep population stable.

patfla said...

Mr Hellacious - I agree with most of the argument, and it's well put.

But there's one (sizable) fly in the ointment. Manufacturing employment. Yes it's true, just one of the ways that our 'elite' (or our owners if one prefers) have sold us out is by moving _some_ manufacturing to China and then selling those goods back to the US but with larger margins.

But how large has this trend been compared with another huge trend and one that's been going on for longer? Increasing automation and productivity in manufacturing. Increasingly sophisticated US production (and the US is still the world leader in manufacturing value added and by a large margin) requires less workers.

If you break down those yr-by-yr productivity growth numbers, and whether large or small growth yrs, the most consistent contributor is manufacturing.

I think of it like agriculture. Manufacturing, like agriculture, is a sector we're leaving behind - but not in the sense that its output is trending to zero.

In fact output is trending steeply upwards. But employment is shrinking.

US agriculture is producing more (and by far) than it ever has and with what? It _was_ 3% of the population and is now probably less.

This is the 'domestic' story and I believe it to be as compelling as the international one.