Blog Archives

Recommended Reading 37

U.S. Out of Vermont!
Christopher Ketcham, The American Prospect, March 19, 2013

[EDITOR’S NOTE: This captivating article/essay about the relatively thriving secession movement in Vermont features a cameo appearance from Teeming Brain favorite Morris Berman, who delivered the keynote address at a secession-oriented conference held in September 2012 in the chambers of the house of representatives in Montpelier. E. F. Schumacher (another favorite) also shows up, as do a host of fascinating additional thinkers and activists, not to mention a passel of worthwhile ideas and concerns.]

During the Obama years, secession has mostly been an antic folly of the political right, courtesy of Texas nationalists, Dixie nostalgists, white supremacists, “sovereign citizens,” and gun nuts. There was no small amount of hypocrisy, of course, in this conservative rebellion. When Texas Governor Rick Perry in 2009 spoke publicly about a possible Lone Star secession, he billed it as a constitutional right in the face of overreaching government — though Republicans mostly hadn’t complained when George W. Bush was demanding profligate budgets and stabbing the sacred document with pencil holes.

Yet here in granola-eating, hyper-lefty, Subaru-driving Vermont was a secession effort that had been loud during the Bush years, had not ceased its complaining under Barack Obama, did not care for party affiliation, and had welcomed into its midst gun nuts and lumberjacks and professors, socialists and libertarians and anarchists, ex–Republicans and ex-Democrats, truck drivers and schoolteachers and waitresses, students and artists and musicians and poets, farmers and hunters and wooly-haired woodsmen. The manifesto that elaborated their platform was read at the conference: a 1,400-word mouthful that echoed the Declaration of Independence in its petition of grievances. “[T]ransnational megacompanies and big government,” it proclaimed, “control us through money, markets, and media, sapping our political will, civil liberties, collective memory, traditional cultures.” The document was signed by, among others, its principal authors, a professor emeritus of economics at Duke University named Thomas Naylor and the decentralist philosopher Kirkpatrick Sale, author of Human Scale. “Citizens,” it concluded, “lend your name to this manifesto and join in the honorable task of rejecting the immoral, corrupt, decaying, dying, failing American Empire and seeking its rapid and peaceful dissolution before it takes us all down with it.”

. . . . When the proceedings broke for lunch, I asked Morris Berman, who had been invited from his home in Mexico, what he thought of the conferees and their intentions. “There’s no chance in hell that a secession is going to happen under current conditions,” he said. “I’m a historian. I look at what’s possible. If Vermont seceded, there would be troops in Burlington in two hours.” Yet Berman was also hopeful. The Vermonters were reinventing secession. It would not be a mere political revolt, not simply a regional separation, but also, and probably more important, a revolt against the economy of empire, a move toward economic independence.These people here,” he told me, “are experimenting with a kind of monastic withdrawal that has political implications. Capitalism is eating itself alive, but as the system unravels you have all these little flowering buds appear.”

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Europe’s flesheaters now threaten to devour us all
Seuman Milne, The Guardian, March 26, 2013

Teaser: Cyprus risks deepening the eurozone crisis as austerity is failing across the continent. Resistance will have to get stronger.

Europe’s flesheaters are back. The claim that the worst of the eurozone crisis is behind us now looks foolish. The deal forced on Cyprus by the German-led Troika at the weekend isn’t a bailout: it will effectively destroy the island’s economy. Instead of getting a grip on its grossly inflated banks, it will impose a brutal credit contraction, combined with sweeping cuts and privatisations, wiping out perhaps a quarter of Cyprus’s national income. Ordinary Cypriots, not Russian oligarchs, will pay the price.

. . . The eurozone has now become a zombie zone. . . . Whatever the focus of the meltdown in each country — banking in Cyprus, property in Spain — all flow from the same crisis that erupted in 2007-8 out of a deregulated profit-hunting credit boom across the western world and has delivered a prolonged depression. . . . [A]cross Europe, people are being held to ransom by banks, bondholders and corporations determined to ensure that it’s not they who bear the costs of the crisis they created — and politicians who regard it as their job to oblige them.

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The Bacon-Wrapped Economy
Ellen Cushing, East Bay Express, March 20, 2013

Teaser: Tech has brought very young, very rich people to the Bay Area like never before. And the changes to our cultural and economic landscape aren’t necessarily for the better.

If, after all, money has always been a means of effecting the world we want to bring about, when a region is flooded with uncommonly rich and uncommonly young people, that world begins to look very different. And we’re all living in it, whether we like it or not.

. . . . It’s become cliché at this point to describe the tech world as a bubble, but that word has an important double meaning: It’s not just that it could pop at any moment, it’s that it is in, but not quite of, the rest of the world — even as it’s changing it. The work is often abstract and piecemeal; the setting is a continent away from old financial centers. The culture is insular, specific, and self-affirming. As Catherine Bracy, director of international programs at Code for America, wrote in a December Tumblr post, tech’s power-players are “making widgets or iterating on things that already exist. Their goal is to … get bought out for a few hundred million dollars and then devote the rest of their lives to a) building Burning Man installations, b) investing in other people’s widgets, or c) both. They really don’t care that much about making the world a better place, mostly because they feel like they don’t have to live in it.”

But sooner or later, everyone has to live in the world they’ve created. Tech has made a world where certain skills are highly valued, and that has implications. “It used to be, the cleverest people in the world are being called to work at NASA,” Pleeth of IamRich@Google.com notoriety said toward the end of our interview. “But now I can make a billion dollars building a cool photo app or targeting ads to people more effectively. And that is a problem: More and more people in tech are making huge amounts of money, and people aren’t curing cancer because it’s not an attractive thing to do.” Pleeth was being intentionally hyperbolic — and to some degree, what the economy values and what society values have never been entirely in line with each other — but he raised a good point: Maybe this isn’t just unsustainable on the level that funding art via Kickstarter is untenable, or that taking Ubers instead of hiring a driver is shortsighted, or that living hand-to-mouth on a $2,000-a-week paycheck is imprudent. Instant gratification isn’t necessarily just something individuals indulge in — maybe societies can, too.

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How We’re Turning Digital Natives into Etiquette Sociopaths
Evan Selinger, Wired, March 26, 2013

Let’s face it: Technology and etiquette have been colliding for some time now, and things have finally boiled over if the recent spate of media criticisms is anything to go by. There’s the voicemail, not to be left unless you’re “dying.” There’s the e-mail signoff that we need to “kill.” And then there’s the observation that what was once normal — like asking someone for directions — is now considered “uncivilized.”

Cyber-savvy folks are arguing for such new etiquette rules because in an information-overloaded world, time-wasting communication is not just outdated — it’s rude. But while living according to the gospel of technological efficiency and frictionless sharing is fine as a Silicon Valley innovation ethos, it makes for a downright depressing social ethic.

People like Nick Bilton over at The New York Times Bits blog argue that norms like thank-you messages can cost more in time and efficiency than they are worth. However, such etiquette norms aren’t just about efficiency: They’re actually about building thoughtful and pro-social character.

. . . . The longstanding technological goal of enhancing efficiency serves us well in many cases. But we need to avoid prioritizing it over genuine connectivity.

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Best Tweets in the House
Tom Jacobs, Pacific Standard, March 12, 2013

Teaser: In a desperate attempt to engage with younger audiences, arts organizations are scrambling to make their productions more interactive. But who really is more engaged: A live-tweeting audience member, or someone staring silently at the stage?

Although the trend has yet to hit the nation’s largest cities or most prominent companies, arts organizations from Minnesota’s Guthrie Theatre to Palm Beach Opera have begun allowing — nay, encouraging — audiences to break out their mobile devices and respond to performances in real time, even as the actors, singers, and players onstage are working hard to hold everyone’s gaze.

The rise of tweet seats is just one facet of a larger shift taking place in the performing arts — one that champions “audience engagement” and, in the minds of critics, subtly denigrates “passive spectating.” The new conventional wisdom is that it’s vital not just to put on the best show you can, but to give audiences the sort of intense, interactive, personal experience that makes them feel involved in the production. That means prepping your audience ahead of time, debriefing them afterwards, and giving them opportunities to comment or participate as well as observe. In some cases, audience engagement means inviting people to sing, play, or dance along with the performers; in others, to split their attention between the stage and (very small) screen.

. . . . The trouble is that modern 20-somethings seem to have little taste for full engagement. “There is evidence beginning to suggest truly deep attention is not valued among the young,” [Stanford University sociologist Clifford] Nass reports. “The question is, where do you get your pleasure? Do you get pleasure by being transported, which requires great immersion? Or do you get pleasure by having your focus on multiple places at once? “That’s a cultural shift. Artists have to think about what that means, and what they want to do about it.”

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Police Restrain Crowd from Taking Food after Supermarket Eviction
Mark Barber, WISTV.com, March 26, 2013

[EDITOR’S NOTE: It would be difficult to surpass this story’s galling power as an illustration of the literally insane behavior that can result from unthinking adherence to a system of external rule. In this case, the external rule is that of civil law in rural Georgia. One understands why the police did what they did, given the nature of their formal jobs, but in terms of their more fundamental identities and roles as human beings, their behavior is reprehensible. Not tangentially, it bears remembering that this same scenario is played out in slightly different form in restaurants around America every day, as I witnessed personally in college when I worked briefly for a McDonald’s and found that a titanic amount of food was formally required by company policy to be thrown away every day. It was against policy to give this food to employees or anybody else. One manager regularly sacked up as much of it as possible and secretly left it on top of a trash dumpster out back for a group of homeless people to claim. One wonders how many people right now are doing something similar. One hopes the number is huge.]

Law enforcement officials pushed back hundreds of people who were crowding around a large pile of merchandise outside an Augusta grocery store Tuesday afternoon. But the goods sitting in the parking lot of the Laney Supermarket didn’t make into anyone’s hands. Instead, the food people hoped to take home was tossed into the trash. “People have children out here that are hungry, thirsty, could be anything. Why throw it away when you could be issuing it out?” asked Robertstine Lambert.

The Marshal of Richmond County, Steve Smith, says the food wasn’t theirs to give away, so they had to trash it. “We don’t have authority to take possession of the property; we just have to make sure that it’s handled, disposed of by law,” Smith, said.

SunTrust Bank in Atlanta owns the property and they’re sending the merchandise to the landfill after evicting the Chois, the owners of the grocery store. The Chois didn’t want to speak on camera but they say they were kicked out by the bank because they owe them thousands of dollars. They say they offered the food to a church, but members didn’t show up to claim it.

That’s when word that store products were abandoned spread through the community. About 300 people came to take merchandise home, but they were held back by law enforcement. “These are brand new items; we saw the potential for a riot was extremely high,” said Sheriff Richard Roundtree.

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The Sound of the Gravediggers
John Michael Greer, The Archdruid Report, March 28, 2013

[EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a blog post in which Greer explores “the religious dimensions of peak oil and the end of the industrial age” — a topic that he has broached many times at The Archdruid Report, and that he unfailingly handles with eloquence and insight. This time is no exception.]

Unlike too many of today’s atheists, Nietzsche had a profound understanding of just what it was that he was rejecting when he proclaimed the death of God and the absurdity of faith. To abandon belief in a divinely ordained order to the cosmos, he argued, meant surrendering any claim to objectively valid moral standards, and thus stripping words like “right” and “wrong” of any meaning other than personal preference.  It meant giving up the basis on which governments and institutions founded their claims to legitimacy, and thus leaving them no means to maintain social order or gain the obedience of the masses other than the raw threat of violence — a threat that would have to be made good ever more often, as time went on, to maintain its effectiveness. Ultimately, it meant abandoning any claim of meaning, purpose, or value to humanity or the world, other than those that individual human beings might choose to impose on the inkblot patterns of a chaotic universe.

. . . . The surrogate God that western civilization embraced, tentatively in the 19th century and with increasing conviction and passion in the 20th, was progress. In our time, certainly, the omnipotence and infinite benevolence of progress have become the core doctrines of a civil religion as broadly and unthinkingly embraced, and as central to contemporary notions of meaning and value, as Christianity was before the Age of Reason.

That in itself defines one of the central themes of the predicament of our time. Progress makes a poor substitute for a deity, not least because its supposed omnipotence and benevolence are becoming increasingly hard to take on faith just now. There’s every reason to think that in the years immediately before us, that difficulty is going to become impossible to ignore — and the same shattering crisis of meaning and value that the religion of progress was meant to solve will be back, adding its burden to the other pressures of our time.

Listen closely, and you can hear the sound of the gravediggers who are coming to bury progress.

Recommended Reading 13

This week’s installment of recommended links and readings covers: the psychological, spiritual, and cultural aspects of apocalypse; a bizarre restriction on media coverage of a major event unfolding in America right now; the psychology and spirituality of creativity in art and life; a hopeful statement about the future of books and publishing; a wonderful early essay about horror films by Robert Anton Wilson; and a cool artistic remix/reimagining of a classic science fiction film.

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Recommended Reading 10

This week’s links and reading cover apocalyptic trends and their cultural, psychological, and artistic/literary aspects; economic collapse in America and Europe, with attendant venality on the part of politicians and the wealthy elite; the rise of an über-surveillance state in America; epic protests in Canada; the decline and fall (and continued decline after falling) of America’s colleges; a poignant plea for us all not to forget the real human suffering that attends the current debate over the status of antidepressants; a list of steps to “becoming a writer”; thoughts about fantasy, science fiction, horror, and other genre fiction in literature and film; the American military’s relationship with the entertainment industry; lucid dreaming and near-death experiences; and a timely warning about the dangers of taking in too much information (from posts like this one, perhaps?).

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Decline, collapse, and doom: Snapshots from Europe, America, and planet earth

This morning when I went to scan the day’s delivery of essays, news, and information, one of the first things that came to my attention was this:

Nothing I’ve heard from politicians or economists on the world crisis has shivered my spine like an hour spent with the gentle‑mannered historian Antony Beevor, whose mighty new book on the Second World War is making him the pundit of the moment. He does not mean to be alarmist, and that is why the soft warnings in his sunlit garden are chilling. Of course the rise of the Right in Europe is not the same as the rise of the Right in the Thirties, he soothes. But isn’t it terrifying the way the Greeks are portraying the Germans as Nazis in their popular press, with Angela Merkel in Nazi uniform? There are “far too many jibes” about a Fourth Reich. The weedlike eruption of extremist parties makes him “uneasy” – and if Beevor is uneasy, it probably means the rest of us should be scared witless. “The great European dream was to diminish militant nationalism,” he says. “We would all be happy Europeans together. But we are going to see the old monster of militant nationalism being awoken when people realise how little control their politicians have. We are already seeing political disintegration in Europe.”

— Elizabeth Grice, ” Europe is already falling apart,” The Telegraph,  May 28, 2012

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Recommended Reading 9

This week’s recommended articles, essays, and blog posts cover: various possible modes of doom that await us (or that are facing us right now), including climate change, economic collapse, and some other usual suspects; the hijacking of global culture by money and its possibly psychopathic servants; the historical role of alchemy in giving birth to our modern-day economic system driven by credit-based currency; a philosophy professor who has taken it on himself to publicize the anti-technological cultural critique of Ted Kaczynski, a.k.a. the Unabomber, since in many ways these critiques may be pointedly on-target; an essay from no less authoritative a source than MIT Tech Review explaining why Facebook is not the new Google but the new AOL, and why it may collapse and bring down much of the rest of the Web with it; a 2008 report from The Wall Street Journal about one rather shocking way (in my opinion, at least) that American megachurches have begun to exploit corporate marketing tactics; and excellent essays (plus a video) about the life, thought, and work of Philip K. Dick, Whitley Strieber, and Ray Bradbury.

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Recommended Reading 4

In this week’s roundup of recommended reading: various developments in the ongoing global economic collapse, more dystopian/totalitarian trends, the problem with America’s enduring attitude of techno-worship, the crisis in America’s education system, an earthshaking religious discovery in the Middle East, Dan Simmons on the creative daemon muse, and the imminent promise of true cinematic brilliance in Prometheus.

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Recommended Reading 3

Topics this week include imperial and economic collapse, the true value of a college education, our troubled shift from physical to digital media, the nature of consciousness, a mysterious marine mammal die-off, the nature and quirks of the human religious instinct, and a new UFO documentary.

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Recommended Reading 2

Topics in this week’s edition of Recommended Reading include: the ongoing eating of everybody else by the wealthy elite; the crisis in America’s education system; the continued rise of online and real-world surveillance; the clash between scientistic reductionism and more humane views of human consciousness and psychology; and a recent UFO sighting.

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Troubles in Eastern Europe add to drumbeat of economic Armageddon

eastern-europe-mapMy roving eye-for-apocalypse scans the immediate environment and detects — imminent meltdown in Eastern Europe!

In a word (or actually two), holy hell. The financial situation in Eastern Europe has gotten absolutely insane over the past few days. Here’s a small sampling of the mass-mediated intel that’s available to us mere mortals — as distinguished from what’s available to those journalistic demigods and deities who have access to actual firsthand information.

Euro tumbles amid East European bank warning
The International Herald Tribune, February 17

Moody’s said faltering economic conditions in Eastern Europe will continue to hit the asset quality and liquidity positions of local subsidiaries of major Western bank, which could spill over to their corporate parents, primarily in Austria, Italy, France, Belgium, Germany and Sweden.

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Banks hit by Eastern Europe fears
Forbes, February 17

Moody’s stark warning on Tuesday about economic deterioration in Eastern Europe shook the currency and bond markets, though for many it was simply a confirmation of their growing fears. The euro fell by 1.4% against the dollar after the ratings agency released a note warning that the Eastern European subsidiaries of Western European banks were facing downward pressure and that some would need help from their parent companies.

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Eastern Europe is about to blow
Mike Whitney, Novakeo, February 17

Eastern Europe is about to blow. If it does, it could take much of the EU with it. It’s an emergency situation but there are no easy solutions. The IMF doesn’t have the resources for a bailout of this size and the recession is spreading faster than relief efforts can be organized. Finance ministers and central bankers are running in circles trying to put out one fire after another. Its only a matter of time before they are overtaken by events. If one country is allowed to default, the dominoes could begin to tumble through the whole region. This could trigger dramatic changes in the political landscape. The rise of fascism is no longer out of the question.

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RED ALERT: FX dislocation in process
Karl Denninger, Market Ticker, February 16

Someone, apparently someone in Asia, wants dollars. A LOT of dollars. There is a forced-liquidation event underway that is massive, it is against all asset classes and it is spreading. It originated at approximately 7:15 CT this evening and originated out of Asia somewhere. All of the primary currency crosses got hit at once — Euro, Pound, Yen — all weakened dramatically against the dollar and it is still going on. The Asian stock markets got walloped at the same time in coordinated waves of forced selling. At the same time the US futures markets got nailed as well, down some six handles on the /ES in a near-vertical drop. While this sounds “not that big” to move these markets in a coordinated fashion like this is a trillion-dollar enterprise — this is not some small company that went bankrupt, or even a large company. There is no news coverage at the present time identifying the source of this but it is not small and contrary to some reports it is not “automatic selling”; this is forced liquidation. Folks, if this translates into Eastern Europe where there are severe instabilities already brewing literally everything in the financial world could come apart “all at once.” The worse news is that if this happens Bernanke will have killed us (in the US) by extending those swap lines all over the planet during the last six months. These will become utterly uncollectable and they are massive, in the many hundreds of billions of dollars. To those who are reading this, I hope if you’re in the markets you are prepared for extreme levels of violence. You must expect that the authorities will try to arrest the destruction if they are able, but you must also be prepared for the possibility that we have reached a “critical mass” point beyond which “duck and cover” is the only winning strategy.

Note that the event reported immediately above by Denninger kicked into action only a day after renowned financial journalist Ambrose Evans-Pritchard published this piece:

Failure to save East Europe will lead to worldwide meltdown

The unfolding debt drama in Russia, Ukraine, and the EU states of Eastern Europe has reached acute danger point

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, The Telegraph, February 15

If mishandled by the world policy establishment, this debacle is big enough to shatter the fragile banking systems of Western Europe and set off round two of our financial Götterdämmerung.

…”This is the largest run on a currency in history,” said Mr Jen.

The sums needed are beyond the limits of the IMF, which has already bailed out Hungary, Ukraine, Latvia, Belarus, Iceland, and Pakistan — and Turkey next — and is fast exhausting its own $200bn (€155bn) reserve. We are nearing the point where the IMF may have to print money for the world, using arcane powers to issue Special Drawing Rights.

…”This is much worse than the East Asia crisis in the 1990s,” said Lars Christensen, at Danske Bank.’There are accidents waiting to happen across the region, but the EU institutions don’t have any framework for dealing with this. The day they decide not to save one of these one countries will be the trigger for a massive crisis with contagion spreading into the EU.”

…The implications are obvious. Berlin is not going to rescue Ireland, Spain, Greece and Portugal as the collapse of their credit bubbles leads to rising defaults, or rescue Italy by accepting plans for EU ‘union bonds’ should the debt markets take fright at the rocketing trajectory of Italy’s public debt (hitting 112pc of GDP next year, just revised up from 101pc – big change), or rescue Austria from its Habsburg adventurism.

So we watch and wait as the lethal brush fires move closer. If one spark jumps across the eurozone line, we will have global systemic crisis within days. Are the firemen ready?

Oh, and in case you want to look at what’s happening anyplace besides Eastern Europe, Japan has just experienced its most severe economic contraction since World War II, California will start THIS WEEK to lay off 20,000 state workers, the University of Arizona has just issued a warning to its students that they should avoid traveling to Mexico over spring break because of instability and danger, GM will probably be forced to declare bankruptcy within the month, and various commentators, including James Howard Kunstler, who has proved eerily accurate in his financial and economic prophecies, is saying (and he’s not the only one) that the U.S. banking system is so thoroughly tanked that Obama will inevitably have to declare a bank holiday in the near future.

Furthermore, MarketWatch, which is run by CBS and is thus as mainstream a source of financial-economic news and analysis as you’re likely to find, has a special page full of articles and videos that they have collectively titled The Spiral. The topic is the deflationary economic pressure that may lead us into a true deflationary depression (i.e., one like the Great Depression). And they include an interview with John Williams, economist extraordinaire and operator of the magnificent Shadowstats Website, who says he thinks it’s likely that U.S. government efforts to stave off deflation will go too far and have a rebound effect of causing hyperinflation — as in Germany, post World War I. He advises hoarding gold and scotch for bartering purposes.

His interview’s title: “$100 Bills as Toilet Tissue?

toiletpaper-money

Citizens stage mass strike and demonstration across France (with riot in Paris) over government bail outs of banks while U.S. citizens remain asleep in their La-Z Boys

paris-riot

Check out this BBC video from yesterday (Thursday, January 29):

Crowds riot in striking France

[Whoever posted the video to YouTube requested to have external embedding disabled, so you’ll have to click on the link and actually visit YouTube to watch it.]

The summary and upshot: All across France yesterday, citizens staged a HUGE strike and public protest — over a million strong — out of anger and frustration at the government’s decision to handle the economic crisis by doling out money to the banks. For the most part it all proceeded peacefully, but in Paris it turned into a riot complete with police in riot gear who lobbed tear gas at the crowds. In the words of the BBC reporter on the scene, “It was inevitable that the mood here on the streets of Paris would change. There is a lot of resentment about the bail out of the banks and the fact that many ordinary people here feel that they didn’t get to benefit from that.” In the video you can see the reporter speaking with several Parisians who express the thought that — to paraphrase the way he summarizes it at one point — it’s outrageous that the very people who caused the recession should be bailed out while the ordinary person who suffers the most should get shafted.

Need I point out the obvious parallels to the situation in the U.S.? It remains to be seen how long we the sheeple will lie down and take it before similar things start happening here. In that capacity, I think the current blistering round of mass layoffs across the nation (which is already shockingly huge in scope and will only get much worse in the coming weeks and months), operating in combination with the giddy freefall of the foreclosure disaster, will move things along quite nicely.

For context, reference, and reflection, consider the following thoughts from James Howard Kunstler’s December 22 blog post, “Legitimacy Dwindles“:

Public sentiment toward the accelerating economic fiasco has shifted, seemingly overnight, from a mood of nauseated amazement to one of panicked grievance as the United States moves closer to an apparent comprehensive collapse. . . . What seems to spook people now is the possibility that everybody in charge of everything is a fraud or a crook. Legitimacy has left the syste. . . . This is very dangerous territory. In dollar terms, the numbers being applied to the various problems are so colossal — trillions! — that the death of our currency seems assured. And in defiance of congress’s express intentions, none of the TARP “money” has been applied to its targeted purpose of buying up “toxic” (i.e. fraudulent) securities hidden in the vaults of banks, pension funds, and municipal portfolios. . . . The years since Jimmy Carter have produced an astoundingly flaccid public, sunk in various addictions and distractions, but this is about to change. The darkling mood of political protest and violent activism that saturated my own young adult years is scudding up again on the horizon.

When legitimacy erodes, anything goes. Nothing is respected including rules and personalities. The center doesn’t hold and the new vacuum there is a tumultuous place. The same crisis of authority and legitimacy is spreading from nation to nation now.

. . . . Right now, the overwhelming sentiment is to get this country back to where we were, say, ten years ago, when everything was humming nicely: Clinton nostalgia. We’re definitely not gong back there, though. It’s an idle wish. And any set of policies designed to lead in that direction will prove very disappointing. Our destination is a land of much smaller-scaled local economies. We could retain our federal ties if the federal government can scale back appropriately from the bloated, feckless enterprise it has become. Otherwise, it might only get in the way and make matters worse, and the public in one region or another of North America might reach a decision that they are better off without it. That would be what’s called a revolution.

paris-strike