by Jack Campitelli | September 3rd, 2011
September 2, 2011
Having grown up in the hippie era without having been one, having lived through the Vietnam war without fighting there, it is hard to imagine that these are not times that call for anti-establishment protests.
I’m not talking about the disgraceful and embarrassing union protests in Wisconsin’s state capitol. I’m talking about “government is not working” protests.
And then I got to thinking. Did the hippies actually come to maturity and power and vote in this nightmare of social experiments we can’t pay for? Well, that’s not entirely true. We could pay for them if we, say, gave up our military but watching the news, I’d say it’s not the right month to do that. And maybe it’s not so much that the “hippies” social consciousness is responsible for this mess as it is that few of us, including myself, have learned the lessons of fiscal restraint and “conserve”atism. Of course, history shows us that as soon as someone saves something, someone, as in government, comes along and steals it. Or whatever taxation is called by another name.
Was it the yuppies fault? How did we learn to live on what we didn’t have? Did our parents not teach us about saving? Can we lay this off on TV stimulating our “must have it now” glands? How did it come to pass that we as individuals (and now our nation) came to live ahead of our earning curve? I mean how did we even have that thought? Was it some positive thinking guru who told us to envision our future and we could cause it to manifest? And then the credit card showed up in the mail?
The ease of “credit” – alas gone forever for many of us – stimulated entire markets, like real estate, and caused demand to soar beyond what a cash economy could support. That raised prices and real estate values that had no meaning if someone would give you credit to buy – regardless of true value or the price. We all knew it didn’t matter. It would go up faster than our interest rate, so even a Nobel laureate economist could figure out you’ve got to buy today on credit to lock in the price on a rising tide.
It seemed so plausible.
And now the disaster seems so predictable and obvious.
So today even banks know you can’t have sound lending policies until jobs become stable and predictable. The stuff of actuarial tables. I mean if you ran a lending department of a bank, just exactly who would you lend to in this economy? Certainly not me. Some who works for GM? Ah, no. At the Detroit Burger King? Ah, no. At a mini-mall? I don’t think so. Your own grandmother? Your kids without jobs or prospects? To anyone whose job is hanging by a thread – which is almost everyone?
The answer is in our own minds. If you had $1-million of your own money that was all you would ever get in life, and you wanted to “work” your money – where would you place it to get a 95% chance of a 10% return? I’m old and “experienced” and I would tell you I have not one idea of what I’d do that gave me a fair return without much risk.
Imagine how banks and even government feels?
I don’t get the feeling that President Obama is a crook. At least THOSE days are gone. But a good-looking under-experienced academic who is forced to rely on “experts” who are not really experts? Yeah. At best, he’s that. I am not an Obama fan, but I told friends before the election that whoever got elected was taking over the White House with a nuclear bomb in the basement – the Bush era overspending – that was just ticking away. Obama thought he could roll back the timer by spending even more money we didn’t have. He had experts telling him it was the only thing to be done or it would explode. They didn’t lie. It would have.
The only question for any of us is do we want a controlled demolition or just let it blow to hell. I suppose the follow on question is, can we really control this or will we just spend a lot of money and it’s going to blow anyway? History says it’s going to blow anyway. It always has. What government is doing, without telling us straight out, is giving us time to prepare as best we can.
But . . . if Obama can keep it together with bailing wire for another year and some, he can get “defeated” in the election and the ticking time bomb will pass to the control of Republicans who will accuse Obama of all evils and they, too, will be unable to stop the bomb. Better it blows on their watch, I say. They made the mess. It’s hypocritical for them to get religion this late in the game. We can’t forget that.
The Tea Party’s “just say no” approach seems responsible at first blush. But their rallying cry seems to be “Let ‘er blow!” and I think that’s not as good as we can do.
In the end, chances are good that the economic time bomb will explode and scatter debris everywhere. Each of us needs something paid off that’s big enough for three generations and someplace that limits property tax increases. Anyone who buys property someplace without constitutional prohibitions against unlimited property tax increases is an idiot. How do you think government is going to feed itself? If it can’t tax paychecks, the only thing left is property.
That’s a long ways from “hippies” but their time has come and gone. Hippies age. Young hippies need very little. Old hippies need everything. They’ve avoided “the system” and now would like the establishment to take care of them in their agedness. If they paid for their commune and are now organic farmers, they’ll own the world. If they took the cash when property values soared?
They’re broke. Like the rest of us.