Thursday, February 21, 2008

Change... you mean spare change?

David Seaton's News Links
The USA has gone broke.

From personal experience, I know that one of the hardest realizations that people who have always had quite a lot of money can have, is to discover that they are flat broke.

I don't say "wake up" to discover, because waking up is instantaneous and the discovery that one's world no longer exists is a slow one. Sometimes it never fully sinks in.

Denial is a wide river that floods the valleys of the nouveau pauvre.

Martin Wolf, the chief economist of the Financial Times outlines the situation:
"The risks are indeed high and the ability of the authorities to deal with them more limited than most people hope. This is not to suggest that there are no ways out. Unfortunately, they are poisonous ones. In the last resort, governments resolve financial crises. This is an iron law. Rescues can occur via overt government assumption of bad debt, inflation, or both. Japan chose the first, much to the distaste of its ministry of finance. But Japan is a creditor country whose savers have complete confidence in the solvency of their government. The US, however, is a debtor. It must keep the trust of foreigners. Should it fail to do so, the inflationary solution becomes probable. This is quite enough to explain why gold costs $920 an ounce."
David Ignatius elaborates in the Washington Post
"The public, fortunately, doesn't understand how bad the situation is. If it did, we might have a real panic on our hands.(...) Do you want to know who is bailing out America's biggest banks and financial institutions from the consequences of their folly -- by acting as the lender of last resort and controller of the system? Why, it's the sovereign wealth funds, owned by such nations as China and the Persian Gulf oil producers. The new titans are coming to the rescue, if that's the right word for their mortgage on America's future."
I disagree with David Ignatius when he says, "The public, fortunately, doesn't understand how bad the situation is." I think that deep down, the public does understand only too well and a great many of them are in denial.

I believe this explains the Barack Obama phenomenon, where a hysterical, nationwide personality cult has grown up mushroom style around a person who has never really done anything: Jerzy Kosinski's fantasy made flesh, a blank sheet, who creates rhythmic ecstasy in his followers with words like "hope" and "change".

Nobody has much of an idea what he might stand for. When Obama supporter Susan Sarandon was asked about this she replied, “I can’t wait to see”.

We are speaking of denial: lets review the steps of the classic, Kübler-Ross "grief cycle".
  1. Shock stage: Initial paralysis at hearing the bad news.
  2. Denial stage: Trying to avoid the inevitable.
  3. Anger stage: Frustrated outpouring of bottled-up emotion.
  4. Bargaining stage: Seeking in vain for a way out.
  5. Depression stage: Final realization of the inevitable.
  6. Testing stage: Seeking realistic solutions.
  7. Acceptance stage: Finally finding the way forward.
I think it is obvious that the eight long years of the Bush Restoration have been pure Kübler-Ross. Different parts of the American electorate are at different places on the cycle.

Some of us went directly from "shock" to "anger". Others, the Obamites, are stuck at step two with maybe a foot in four; t
hose disposed to vote for either Hillary or McCain are either at step five or are dabbling in six or seven.

I think these months are going to go down in history as one of the most bizarre chapters of our amazing and original national experiment. DS

When backing Barack feels like joining a cult - Boston Herald
Abstract: I’m nervous because too many Obama-philes sound like Moonies, or Hare Krishnas, or the Hale-Bopp-Is-Coming-To-Get-Me nuts. These true believers “Obama-ize” everything. They speak Obama-ese. Knit for Obama. Run for Obama. Gamble - Hold ’Em Barack! - for Obama. They make Obama cakes, underwear, jewelry. They send Valentine cards reading, “I want to Barack your world!” At campaign rallies people scream, cry, even faint as Obama calmly calls for the EMTs. When supporters pant en masse, “I love you!” (like The Beatles, circa 1964), Barack says, “I love you back” with that deliciously charming, almost cocky smile. Oh - I’m nervous because it’s all gone to his head and he hasn’t even won yet. I’m nervous because it’s gone to a lot of other people’s heads as well. Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings introduced Obama last week in Baltimore and said, “This is not a campaign for president of the United States, this is a movement to change the world.” “He walks into a room and you want to follow him somewhere, anywhere,” says George Clooney. “I’ll do whatever he says to do,” says actress Halle Berry. “I’ll collect paper cups off the ground to make his pathway clear.” I’m nervous because nobody’s quite sure what Obama stands for, even his supporters. (“I can’t wait to see,” said actress/activist Susan Sarandon, declaring full support nonetheless). I’m nervous because even his biggest fans can’t name Obama’s accomplishments, including Texas state Sen. Kirk Watson, an Obama-man who humiliated himself when MSNBC’s Chris Matthews asked him about five times to name something, anything, Obama’s done. Watson hemmed. Watson hawed. Watson gave up. I’m nervous because John McCain says Obama’s is “an eloquent but empty call for change” and in the wee, wee hours, a nagging voice whispers, suppose McCain’s right, too? Then what? READ IT ALL

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