Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Heeeeeeeeere's the Collapse
"If there is no wind, row." – Chinese Proverb
(This article has been amended since first posted)
Each day, day in and day out, the "collapse" arrives for thousands of Americans. If you work for the government you might hardly have noticed. If you own and run a small business, you have had it beat you into submission. The media and the Left have done the most amazing job of convincing many Americans that the problem is the elusive "rich". Wall Street "Fat Cats". Scum bag executives that are exporting jobs for the sake of greed.
The truth, and the facts, are somewhat different. The truth is, the rich do not cost the middle class a single dime... the truth is, the haves are the government workers, particularly the members of the public employee unions.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out over the next decade or 2.
I had a visitor from my home town just north of New York City to the farm earlier this summer. Her younger sister was in my high school class. We got to talking about property taxes.
Now this person lives in a neighborhood where folks working at the local G.M. plant lived during the 50's, 60's, and '70's. By the mid 1980's, the prices of these homes became out of reach for factory-line-workers. Not because the properties had been improved but because of their proximity to the train station and a half hour ride into Manhattan.
She had bought the home from her mother some years back, and over the years her property taxes had risen to today's $16,000+! Mind you, this a former working class neighborhood. Actually, many of the old residents are still there... only the turnovers went to the yuppies as the older folks could not afford to move.
How does an individual making $100k per year, or less, pay New York's outrageous income tax levy, the outrageous sales taxes and fees for everything from car registration to park passes, and $16,000 per year in property taxes while providing for a family? How, exactly are these people supposed to save and provide for their "retirement"? Just how FOS have we become?
The $480k this person will pay (in constant dollars) in property taxes over the term of their 30 year mortgage would have done wonders, given interest compounded on those dollars, to provide these people with savings and security... instead it has been confiscated by their state and local governments leaving most of these folks literally destitute. Did I mention that New York State, in spite of these outrageous extractions, is destitute as well? Unable to assist the people they have reduced to penury?
In the background (foreground) of this cluster f*** is the ugliness that is our politics. How many times does the media have to run the story about "greedy executives" off-shoring jobs? As if its a f***ing conspiracy. Labor is being arbitraged until we reach equilibrium. The same people that can grasp this when it comes to entropy (heat will flow from a hot cup of coffee into the surrounding environment until both come to equilibrium) go deaf, dumb, and BLIND when it comes to grasping this simple economics equation. These are the very self same folks pining about poor folks in the third world... where, pray tell, do these economically challenged nit-wits of the American Left think those "off shored" jobs are going to?
Unfortunately for America, the same forces for equilibrium that are beating our income's into the mud are also doing the same job on the distribution of the world's Oil exports. This has the unpleasant effect of compounding the labor arbitrage in the extreme.
The question is: What, if anything, should be done about it?
Of course, the answer is to try to take advantage of this miasmic circumstance in each subsequent political election... and actually that makes perfect sense because there is nothing that the political structure can do about this anymore than American politics can restrain China's CO2 output, so they might as well see to their own careers. That's the problem with democratic republics... they are the "worst form of government except for everything else".
So here is the good news, sort of...
I read with interest that the many bloggers like me commenting on this seem to have gone from macro complaining to recommending micro action. John Michael Greer, Dmitri Orlov, Charles Hugh Smith... (I really need to start using my middle name... it sounds sooooo cool with Greer and Smith... hmmm... Gregory Thomas Jeffers... ugh... too busy. Oh, well) among many others seem to have gone from venting to action.
I must criticize some of what I read... "prepare" is such a sh*tty word. It connotes some kind of deluge that if one can just survive they will pop out the other side.... that's like "dieting". What is needed, in my humble opinion, is a change in "lifestyle" (another word that I absolutely, positively freaking despise...).... because in the end we need to enjoy the life we have, and me thinks, that can best be accomplished by acclimating to our new found modest lifestyles before they are forced upon us... and if they have already been forced upon you... LIE TO YOURSELF, and tell yourself that this was your plan from the beginning... and then get back to the business of living.
Because "The American Dream" is NOT dead. We just f**ked it up. But you can have it if you really want it - that is, for what it really was. When I was a kid, we had an army for a family, and that was normal back then for Catholic, working class folks. My parents lived in a 800 square foot, 3 bedroom home with 1 bathroom with 7 kids (when I was 3 or 4, my parents took in a 13 or 14 year old girl. She was not legally adopted but we referred to her as our sister, she just came to live with us when her mom died and her father abandoned her and shared a closet sized sleeping alcove with my toddler sister... I remember her arrival because we all had to move down one space at the table. We did not have dining room chairs (for the kids that is, my parents and oldest brother sat in chairs on the open side), as it was a very small kitchen/dining area (and with all of those kids) my father constructed an "L" shaped bench around the kitchen table... all of us kids had our place and had to slide in at either end of the "L" making it impossible to get up from the table without vacating everyone... anyway, can you imagine an unregistered adoption of an "early teens" girl today? No doubt my parents would have spent their lives in prison... times have changed).
THAT WAS the American dream. A roof over your head. Not a f***ing status symbol. A small business or job with which you could feed and clothe your family. Not a consumer lifestyle. TIME!... to play baseball with your kids, go camping, fishing, swimming... and all of the other outrageously fun stuff we did as kids that did not cost SQUAT.... TIME, because we were not working 70 hours per week in order to make the payments on 3 cars, 4 cell phones, 5 gym memberships... as well as the property taxes and mortgage on 5000 square foot house that nobody uses 4000 square fee of, the 16% for social security and medicare we will never see, the 33% income tax to fund an outrageous military budget and bloated bureaucracy (oh, and by the way... I am guilty of ALL of the above... but then I came to my senses).
The AMERICAN DREAM IS NOT DEAD. It just got way-layed. Most folks can get it back if they want it. There is a farm down the street from us. 5 miles from the seat of a county of 100,000. County has Little League, Boy & Girl Scouts, community center with indoor/outdoor pool, nice 3/2 house, small barn, 6 acres of pasture and gardens. Could be had for $170,000. Property taxes $1000.
If you want the AMERICAN DREAM, all you gotta do is vote with your feet. The American Dream is alive and well in small towns and cities of the despised Red States. What states are in dire straights? California, New York, Illinois, Florida, New Jersey, Michigan, Massachusetts... anybody see a pattern here besides me? The high tax/social services/socialist states are f****ing broke. They have taxed their productive citizens right into poverty (or into moving away), and they ain't getting themselves out this mess... everyone of them or their pension systems will require a bail out. The low-life, scum sucking, smug little commie bast*rds (perhaps a tad too much?) that brought the system down have done a very, very good job of convincing people that this was ALL caused by Wall Street. Good Grief!! You mean to tell me that everybody refinanced their houses to buy jet-skis, granite counter tops, and Paris vacations? Bull S**T!!! You mean to tell me that those that did, and let's face it, they were far and away the residents of those enlightened "Blue States", did not know what they were doing? That they were somehow victimized?? Christmas, I gotta stop writing... I'm about to have a canary... Many of these people are nothing more than common thieves... but when you got this many of them, well, the politicians can't exactly call a spade a spade, now can they?
So here's to you rat-bast*ard Keynesian elitist jag-offs. Way to f****ing go.