Lemmings Living Dangerously.

January 10, 2012

As a nation, we have abdicated the right to bitch. Not that we will ever fully abstain from this grand tradition. Like home ownership, life-long employment, government assistance and flat screen televisions, bitching and moaning have assumed shelf space within our pantheon of birth rights.
But bitching is not the utilitarian skill it once was. When my ancestors were clawed by an angry mountain lion, they bitched. That bitching got the testosterone flowing, which sent endorphins pouring, adrenaline pumping, and got them out of harm’s way.
Now, it’s more sport. Like ping pong.
Remote control batteries dead? Damn! Why me?
Life in the U.S. continues to serve as the benchmark against which all other nations measure their living standards.
On a relative basis, many of America’s poor are wealthy. And our wealthy? Flagrantly so.
This is not to say that everyone has it good. That is not the case. Problems abound. The Occupy Wall Streeters are not without their reasoning. It is objectives and key messages they lack.
Most of your ancestors’ problems were related to weather. Savage beasts. Disease and pestilence. Today’s problems are often of our own making. Identifiable. Capable of being eliminated. Yet, like lemmings, we continue to run at full speed. Regardless of the cliffs ahead.
And as lemmings will thoughtlessly plunge over the cliff, so will we thoughtlessly elect the same rabble this November. The very rabble that got us into this mess in the first place.
Vacuous slogans? Pins? Stump speeches? We eat it up like pigs and slop!
You see, our problems are deeper than we think. Like lemmings, we appear systematically inclined to march over the cliff.
We have been lulled into a sense of security. Yet, if you closely analyze this house of cards we inhabit, it begins to look more like a sense of insanity. Remember the definition of insanity? Well, we keep repeating the same mistakes. And reacting with perplexity when outcomes don’t change.
If you walked in and saw your spouse, the individual with whom you chose to spend the rest of your life, in bed with another, how would you react?
Well, we choose our politicians. And our politicians have jumped into bed with our corporations. And we’re acting like those three wise monkeys. “See no evil. Hear no evil. Speak no evil.”
Only, monkeys learn by their mistakes.
2011 saw western governments throw additional debt at debt problems. While no debt has ever been eradicated by additional debt, that did not stop governments from doing just that.
Ultimately, we realize that the objective is not to eradicate debt. That would eliminate half the jobs in D.C. No, avoiding default is the objective. That way, politicians from both parties, living symbiotically off of each other, as well as all of their analysts, lobbyists, pages, interns, administrators, statisticians, attorneys, communications professionals, staffers, and so on, can remain in the tax-payer funded fiefdom of Washington D.C.
Remember, D.C. doesn’t have the highest per-capita income of any metropolitan statistical area in the nation because they create, manufacture or produce anything. Nope. This shell game is predicated on the largesse of all of us lemmings.
So, Operation Default Avoidance continues.
By extending the loans, refinancing, or issuing yet more debt. When our nation entered its most savage recession of the last 75 years and many of our largest financial institutions stood on the precipice of collapse due to avarice and inattention to risk, the government bailed them out with tax payer money. Your money.
These same “too big to fail” banks were then given the ability to profit off of the same taxpayers (i.e., you!) who bailed them out. Before the taxpayers had even been paid back.
Thanks to the Fed, the banks can borrow money at nearly zero-percent interest. They then lend that money out to taxpayers (who also happened to be the creditors) for 3 percent. The banks would then use these funds to buy government debt at low interest rates.
What a deal!
Mismanaged banks are provided taxpayer bailouts. Then, the banks are given the right to pillage the very citizenry which kept them from bankruptcy. Then, the banks use those easily pillaged profits to buy government debt. Thus, the politicians who agreed to (and arranged for) the chicanery in the first place have yet more money to waste, err, allocate.
Worse, this sweet-heart deal doesn’t motivate banks to loan capital to small businesses. True, these companies may represent the lifeblood of the U.S. economy, but lending to them involves risk. More risk than is involved in the shell game in which D.C. has enabled the banks to engage.
Pissed off? Wait, there’s more. Consider the illusory battle recently acted out over the temporary Social Security payroll tax cut.
When that tax cut was enacted in 2010, both parties figured that the $27 billion per year tax cut would increase demand. Spur the economy.
So, in early 2011, the Treasury borrowed $27 billion to make up for the tax revenue decrease. This $27 billion was then distributed to American workers through the payroll tax cut. Those employees then went out and spent the money, so stimulating the economy, right? Wrong. The tax cut recipients did what consumers always do when they’re anxious about their finances. They saved.
Coincidentally, economic growth fell at that exact time. Real GDP dropped from 2.33% to 0.36%. Yet, the bonds had already been purchased. And who ultimately pays off those bonds? The tax cut recipients.
Dear Mr. Politician:
That tax cut you gave us? Financial engineering at its finest! Thank you.
D.C. must be a difficult place to work, evidenced by all of the capital, time and effort you altruistic public servants spend trying to get back there every other year.
Please continue to work on our behalves! We are literally in your debt!
Sincerely Yours,
The Lemmings
P.S. I hear the benefits are pretty good up there. Maybe we could discuss ‘em the next time you come slumming back to your district. Bye!
Republicans. Democrats. Their key messages differ, but they ultimately play the same shell games. Games intended to gather more money and power at the Federal level.
Need to finance a tax cut? Tax payers will pay for it.
Seeking re-election? Corporations will pay for it.
Politicians purport that the finance industry is a machine created to shuffle money around to all of the corrupt middle men who, in turn, take a cut. Yet, this is exactly what our government does. Distributing money as benefits, borrowing from those receiving the benefits, who in turn will have to pay for the government’s borrowing.
While all of that cash flows hither and yon, the banks get a cut via their favorable interest rates, the politicians take a cut via their re-elections, and you, dear taxpayer, get stuck with the bill.
Do we do anything about it? Of course! What are we, a bunch of ninnies?
We bitch! Only D.C. and Wall Street have erected soundproof walls around their respective fiefdoms. Walls designed to keep the lemmings, and their caterwauling, out.
So long as we enable this defective system to continue, we shall continue to live dangerously. Because lemmings don’t march forever. Eventually, they stumble upon a steep cliff.

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