Monday, July 16, 2018

Week of 07/16/2018

The Coming Fall
“Pride comith before the fall”, as the old saying goes.
A warning about pride, borrowed from various interpretations of the King James bible.
Unfortunately, too many people in America are well beyond pride.  They’re firmly in the category of blind, stinking, self-serving, self-righteous arrogance.  You know who those people are.  And if you don’t, then you’re probably one of them.
And that’s dangerous.
Pride itself makes us reckless.  It’s okay to be proud of your achievements; but being too proud always blinds us to when we aren’t doing our best.  It excuses and overlooks the mistakes that we make and the wrongs we commit.
And it makes what happens next hurt even worse.
There is an economic crash coming, people.  And it will hurt.  It will hurt you and me and everyone except those in the tippy-top of the food chain in America.  It’s not a matter of “if” it will happen; it is a matter of “when”.
I’m not saying this to scare you.  I’m saying this to warn you.  And I know that I’m not the only one saying it. 
Even the best economists are saying that a recession will happen, and it’ll happen either at or just before 2020. I happen to think they may be optimistic.  It may come sooner than that.
Understand that I’ve been seeing the trends for years.  You can pit my record of seeing the ups and downs since 1988 against the so-called “experts” and you’ll find I’m right every time.  Every time.  I predicted the mini-recession of 1988.  I saw the 2000 recession two years before it happened, and I even predicted the media would be silent about it until after the election.  I was warning people about the Great Recession long before it hit.  You don’t have to be an “expert” to see the signs.  You just have to have eyes and ears and know what to look for, and to also know when you’re being lied to by those same “experts”.
Now, it is easy to dismiss doomsayers, especially when you’re so full of pride and arrogance, and especially when the media and the politicians are telling you what a wonderful economy we have.  “Unemployment” is almost non-existent.  Profits are sky-high.  Wall Street may be unstable, but that instability creates wealth, right?  Someone’s buying, someone’s selling, money is being made either way.  Our narcissistic president, Donald Trump, and his cadre of GOP butt-kissing sycophants and their propaganda prostitutes are all saying everything is hunky-dory thanks to him and the GOP and their “blessed” tax breaks. 
But we’ve been down this same road before, over and over again, and let’s get brutally honest here... things are not as rosy as we wish them to be.
Retail stores have been closing left and right.  Big names like Sears, Toys R Us, Rue 21, Walgreens, Gymboree, Sam’s Club, The Gap, Teavana, J Crew, Abercrombie & Fitch, and Macy’s have either shut down completely, are shutting down, or are closing a lot of their stores.  Even franchise restaurants like Chipotle, Subway, and Starbucks are shutting down.  McDonald’s... McDonald’s of all places... are laying people off!  The big malls are becoming the modern-day versions of ghost towns.
Now “the script” being regurgitated by the media is blaming all of it on the rise of online business activity in places like Amazon and eBay.  But... seriously... Subway?  Teavana?  McDonald’s?  Mc-freaking-Donald’s?  Something is seriously wrong with this picture to suggest that Amazon can compete with delivering a made-to-order Quarter Pounder with cheese, fries, and a large Coke faster than going to the actual Golden Arches and getting it from the drive thru.
But I want you to think about this for a minute: these are all stores that depend on consumers having money to spend.  If our economy is as strong as it ever was – as according to our narcissistic President and his sycophants and their propagandist prostitutes – then wouldn’t these places be flush with business and money?
Now with Toys R Us, their downfall was nothing short of criminal, and you can thank Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital for that.  They took a page straight out of “The Sopranos” and stabbed a lot of children in the heart... and all in the name of blind stinking greed.  But the other stores and even the restaurants?  There’s no excuse for what is going on other than they are losing customers because they can’t afford to spend money.
So where’s the money going?  If the business world is flush with it, if corporations are posting record profits with it, if the economy is so goddamned stable as we are being told it is, then where is the money going?
I can tell you where it is not going, and that is into the pockets of the very hard-working Americans that need it!
Wages have been stagnant for hard-working Americans for a very long time.  Too long.  Year-after-year, we are being forced to make do with less and less.  But the cost of living doesn’t stagnate.  It keeps going up.  The healthcare industry and the insurance companies are the new robber-barons in America, gouging all Americans worse than Big Oil ever did and getting away with it.
Basic rule, people: if your so-called “raise” is less than the increased cost of living, then you are not getting a “raise”.  You are getting a slap in the face.  And the hard-working Americans have been getting pretty sore from being slapping around.
Our government, even before it was being led by a narcissist, still operates on Ronald Reagan’s old “Trickle Down” delusion.  You give the rich all the breaks, they get all the breaks, and then it magically “trickles down” to the rest of us.
Only it’s not.  The people at the top of the economic pyramid are not sharing it.  They’re keeping it.  Because sharing it would be an expense, and that diminishes their ever-precious profits.  And our business world worships profits at all costs.
Now this is nothing new at all.  The same lie has been regurgitated over and over and over again, but it is still just a lie.  The problem is that this is happening as we are still trying to recover from the Great Recession from ten years ago.
You remember the Great Recession, right?  All of those people out of work, all of those homes foreclosed and all those people left homeless?  All of those banks collapsing and getting away with huge stinking bailouts?  Remember that?
How many of you got all of your money back from that?  How many of you were able to rebuild your savings?
Now, remember hearing about how “low” the unemployment numbers are?  Those numbers didn’t get that way because millions upon millions of hard-working Americans that were laid off suddenly got jobs.  That’s not how “unemployment” is measured.  That’s never been how “unemployment” is measured.  They only count the people getting assistance from the government.  But if you deplete that assistance, or if it is cut, or if you suddenly “don’t qualify”, then you cease to exist according to the government.  Voila!  Unemployment goes “down” without ever spending a single dollar in job creation.
Numbers magic from the same people that gave us Enron!
All of that... all of it... is taking its toll on our economy.  You can only “carry on” for so long before you run out of money.  You can only “make do with less” until you don’t have it.  You can only cut and scrimp and penny-pinch until you run out of pennies.  If you’re spending more and more money on healthcare, then you’re not spending it on clothes or food or the things that keep the economy going.  Uber and AirBNB and the rest of the “sharing economy” are not growing because of a “new dynamic”.  They’re growing out of economic necessity and desperation.
And you’ll notice that I haven’t even spoken one word of President Donald Trump’s trade war rhetoric yet!  Nothing about the tariffs that will hit all of us soon, thanks to our Narcissist-in-Delusion and his protectionist racket.
Here’s a little reality check: the tariffs that are being imposed will not be paid by the countries Trump is targeting.  At all.  Ever.  They pass those costs on to the rest of us, the consumers of those goods and services.  We will be paying for Trump’s tariffs.  Not China.  Not Canada.  Not Mexico.  Oh, and Mexico still won’t be paying for Trump’s ego-wall either.  We will.
Speaking of, all of those regulatory safeguards that were put in place after the Great Recession have all been disabled thanks to Trump and his complicit crew.  It’s 2007 all over again as far as Big Corporate is concerned.
Now... put all of that together.  Do you see a strong economy in that mess?  If you do, then you are operating on a different reality than the rest of us.
That’s why this coming crash will be hurting us harder than before.  We don’t have that cushion we had ten years ago.
And if you’re still living in that Trump delusion, then the coming crash will hit you like a freight train.  That MAGA hat you got on your head and that Trump-Pence bumper sticker on your car will not protect you.  Nor will your pride and arrogance make it magically go away any more than an it would save you from an actual train.
Again, I’m not saying this to scare you.  I’m saying this to warn you.  The crash is coming.  Even the best people in the field, the ones that get paid to see these things, are seeing it coming.  The only question is whether or not you will be ready.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Week of 07/09/2018

Abolish ICE?  Keep Dreaming!
So the big new political push from the anti-Trump crowd is their call to dismantle, defund, abolish, and otherwise smash ICE, aka the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  ICE was one of those mutant mergers made after 9/11 when President George W. Bush created the omnibus Department of Homeland Security and threw a whole bunch of departments into it.
And because our current President, the narcissist Donald Trump, has his ego-wall in mind and a mad-hate for people coming into America… or at least the ones not working at his Mar-a-Lago resort… he’s got ICE doing his dirty work, rounding up everyone that even touches the U.S. border like they’re Pokémon.  They’re ripping babies from parents, keeping kids in cages like they’re stray dogs, and they’re basically making being at the border as unbearable as possible.
And it’s not entirely their fault.  I mean, look who they are working for!  Their bosses are a narcissist, an enabling gang of corrupt nepotists, and an elected body of sociopaths.  We should just be lucky they haven’t started the old East Berlin policy of shooting-on-sight yet.  And, even if they did, Trump’s corporate propagandists would hush that down faster than a mistress.
So now that the world has seen our gross inhumanity with the kids in the cages and ripping babies from the arms of their mothers, a very-vocal segment of the Trump resistance movement is demanding that we do away with ICE.  Either disband ICE, defund ICE, or just purge the enforcement part from immigration and customs. 
Basically they want to take away Trump’s new favorite goon squad.
Well, I’m sorry boys and girls, but, let’s get brutally honest here… that’s just not going to happen.
I don’t care if you somehow mange to get a complete sweep of the House and Senate in November with an impossible filibuster-proof-and-veto-proof majority, you are never going to get rid of ICE.
For starters, you are dealing with Donald Trump’s new favorite goon squad.  They’re carrying out his orders without question or resistance, so Trump will give them all the support and adulation that he can.
And, yes, as long as Trump loves ICE, so will his cult-followers.  They will blindly support anything and everything that ICE does, no matter how despicable it is.  Even if they carry out a shoot-on-sight order on women and children.  Because they firmly believe that ICE is doing Trump’s work... which, in their perverted minds, is the same as doing God’s work. 
But here’s the kicker: ICE is only Trump’s new favorite because they’re doing his dirty work without question.  As soon as ICE officials start questioning Trump’s orders, or not carrying them out to his satisfaction, Trump will then treat them like he currently treats the FBI.  He’d order them to be replaced, he’d subject them to his 3am Twitter-tantrums, he’d call them incompetent, he’d start firing officials that defy him, and he might even join in with the calls to abolish ICE.  Because that’s how a narcissist like Trump does things.  His fidelity to anything is first conditional to their fidelity with him.
Let’s not forget that there are other branches of government out there!  Trump’s got the military at the border!  Trump loves soldiers!  He never served… you know, because of “bone spurs”… but, like all good fascists, he loves his toy soldiers marching to his cadence.  So… even if the Trump resistance manage to get rid of ICE or neuter ICE or otherwise get ICE out of the picture, Trump still has his soldiers to do his dirty work.  And if that doesn’t work, then there is a whole alphabet soup index of agencies and organizations that Trump could mobilize and send over, and then they would be his new best friends.
And… let’s face it… outside of my fellow libertarians, nobody really wants to get rid of the whole immigration system, despite the outright lies being spread by Trump and his supporters and his cult worshipers and his propagandists to that effect.  The vast majority of you really don’t want open borders.  You don’t!  Never mind the whole pretense of “national security”; you still want the power to determine who comes in and who doesn’t.  So that your hard-working American job that allows you to pay the bills isn’t turned over to someone from another country who has more education than you and is willing to work a whole lot cheaper than you.  You see, I get that.  I understand it.  That’s why we started determining who comes in and who doesn’t over a century ago.
Then there’s just the idea that everything would be okay if only we would get rid of one particular alphabet soup agency or organization.  We all have one.  Some of us have multiple.  And they vary.  In the late-80’s it was the DEA.  In the 90’s it was the ATF and the IRS.  And, yes, even I have a list of alphabet soup agencies that should be eliminated, starting with the FCC.
But how many of them have actually been eliminated through public outcry?  None of them!  Not one!  No matter which one of the two dominant political parties are in charge, no alphabet soup agency has ever been truly eliminated to acquiesce to public demand.  They simply get renamed or they get assimilated into some other agency or some other organization.  That is the intrenched nature of government.
This is a rather important election year.  If the people in the Trump resistance movement want to get their supporters out of their chairs and into the voting booths in November, then they need to appear to be the rational ones and not try out out-crazy Trump and his Trumpets.  It doesn’t work, and, besides, they’ve been at it longer than the rest of us.  You want to deal with immigration?  Fine.  You start on the idea of fixing what’s not working.  You don’t start with wanting to abolish the department that would enforce that fix.
Abolish ICE?  Abolish the idea instead.