Saturday, January 3, 2009

Semi-drunken Economic and Social Observations

Watching the various business news channels is always an easy place for a few quick laughs and the occasional deep cleavage shot. On one unnamed channel you have a very pretty brunette dressed in very proper business attire who with a very straight face will tell you why exported Chinese toys made with lead based paint makes that country America’s best friend. The other business channel will try to “entertain” the viewing public with gorgeous ladies sporting plunging necklines and hefty amounts of silicon while proclaiming the glories of the global economy and free markets but always emphasizing the main party line from the parent noise channel.

But common to both is the near incessant whining of what appears to be middle and lower level “Masters of the Universe” complaining of the trials and tribulations of the poor investor worried over protectionist sentiment and anti-capitalist murmurings from the lower classes they feel are unable to understand the bigger global economic picture. These well paid characters all sporting telegenic faces can explain a whole host of economic realities to a watching amen choir wanting reassurances that as long as their bottom line is secure the shrinking middle and working classes just need to be educated to certain facts.

Like the benefits of the outsourcing of manufacturing jobs overseas leads to cheap goods we can buy on credit here. That labor unions aren’t fair to the nice executive who only wants to enjoy his multi-million dollar bonus for gutting or simply through incompetence ruining an otherwise healthy company. And why such things as environmental regulations are un-American and border on the communistic. Some of these fine and upstanding humanitarians go as far to not only wrap themselves in the flag but at times suggest that God is on their side despite the unspoken element of social Darwinism about the cream rising to the economic top.

However, not all is well in the land of unfettered uber- capitalism and its “curious ritualized thievery” if I can borrow something from Steinbeck. The high paid and accomplished financial wizards having worked themselves into a rabid, greedy frenzy just about brought the entire financial house of cards down on us all but were apparently saved, at least for now, but the wise and compassionate actions of the Bush Administration. (Excuse the dripping sarcasm) But surprisingly all Bush got for his efforts recently was a rebuke from his fellow country club members, the Republican National Committee, saying he had embraced socialism. If that wasn’t the face grumbling because the nose wasn’t cut off for spite I’m either far more inebriated than I need to be, or not enough. Making matters worse is the approaching specter of progressivism the collective denizens of excessive capitalism trembling in dread see coming and arriving on January 20th to ruin all the fun. With great gnashing of teeth the mover and shakers are worried about how President Obama (Damn I still like writing that) will raise taxes, spend money on such silly things like repairing the national infrastructure and schools, begin to break us free of imported oil, work to provide health care to those that can’t afford it, and the most outrageous, raise the minimum wage. Even now it’s relatively easy to see the beginning efforts of the right wing Four Housemen of the apocalypse: fanatic Bible thumpers, proto-fascists Neocons, shrill pro-lifers, and the aforementioned uber-capitalists. All will be pooling their efforts to blunt any reforms that the Obama Administration begin, work to actively sabotage any enacted, and to discredit him both politically and personally so he can be defeated in 2012.

Even as that knowledgeable Alaskan angel of foreign affairs, geography, and the Constitution Sara Palin looks out her window at Russia, that stoic example of moral certitude Mitt Romney stands firmly on his current principles du-jour, and laughing boy Mike Huckabee strums his guitar with all of them looking longingly at that house on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue there are a few things they need to understand. While it is a very scary possibility that any of the three could, given outright errors on the part of President Obama or unforeseen situations that condemn his administration, win the White House in 2012 their victory would could be very short lived.

Even with the unprecedented participation of both African-Americans and Hispanics that helped elected Obama if you actually listen to a large chunk of this country you will still hear some disquieting rumbles. For the working class that were completely left out of the Great Republican Supply Side Economic Scam since its inception in the early 80’s and those of the middle class that have seen their livelihood slip away since then the various economic booms have largely left them by the wayside while the rich and very rich have prospered. People that once could depend on factory jobs that would allow them to buy a house, raise a family, and send the kids to college now find themselves relegated to non-unionized service jobs that pay far less with little to no benefits. These people are not idiots, while some have put themselves in that spot many more have paid the price for increased corporate profits from near slave labor wages overseas that suck jobs away. They see the grinning corporate executive driving the company leased Jaguar reveling in the yearly bonus while they are denied a pay raise because annual profits didn’t grow fast enough. Often times what pay raise they receive evaporated after the yearly increase in health care benefits is factored in. These families are also asked to send their sons and daughters to fight for the country but yet the huge majority of the children of the rich and powerful sit on the sidelines. It’s easy to hear about people cutting back on crucial medication because cut rate health care benefits won’t cover the drugs. And parents that saved for years so their children could attend college and have a better life than them now find that goal out of reach.

It is a huge mistake by all the financial wizards, corporate executives, and the country club elite to not understand that their excessive lifestyle is being noticed by those who despite doing everything they should do still find themselves falling further behind. In small groups you can hear the whispered astonishment from the lower ranks of the economic ladder as demands from those occupying the spacious offices upstairs come down calling for understanding and sacrifice from those who simply don’t have much more to spare.

Those controlling the levers of finance warily await President Obama with them and their media sycophants claiming that he will bring socialism, pestilence, and destruction. So worried are these people that the ugly face of racism surfaced in the campaign, by those claiming a true faith in the teaching of Jesus, and even now. But maybe its isn’t Obama these people need to worry about, he is after all and much to the contrary of his political enemies, a moderate and pragmatic man. But maybe it’s the growing mass of those falling economically behind. A growing class of people who are underemployed, relegated to the service industries. Living without basic health care wondering how they will take care of their aging parents and praying that the strange mold on their shoulder just goes away. And those unable to afford college for their children unless they offer them up for military adventures that again largely benefit the rich and powerful.

Maybe it’s the rich and powerful that should be most actively supporting President Obama and his coming efforts to try and bring back some sort of economic and social balance. Because while total economic collapse appears for now to have been avoided the New Year offers no promises that the worse is behind us. And if it isn’t, if for some reason the economic house of cards being propped up does completely fall apart and another Depression hit us and the rich, safely perched above the chaos, continue to be immune America is no different from any other country. In that a tipping point could be reached in which no country is ever more than three meals away from a revolution. But hey, nothing like that could ever happen in this country. It’s as unthinkable as say the smarts guys and gals in the American banking system screwing up or the mighty American automotive industry going under.


Beach Bum said...

Okay,yes I was drinking the night I started this little rant. This partly came about after seeing a really high class Cadillac Escalade sporting both a "No to Obama Socialism" and a "Palin 2012" bumpersticker. Also this rant was spurred on by my rereading of Steinbeck's "Grapes of Wrath" and the times we find ourselves living in. And to avoid the accusation or plagiarism a couple of phrases of his were used. they should be linked to appropriate supporting material.

Keshi said...

I think so too! *chuckles* ;-)



Mike said...

The answer to our economic woes lies in shutting our doors to imports for a few years. It's the quickest and the best way to jump start our economy (as opposed to jump starting the world's economy).


Hey Beach!

Ain't quite in a commenting mood yet but dropped in to wish you and yours a happy, peaceful, healthy and prosperous New Year.

Here's to 2009: Hip hip hourrah!

Beach Bum said...

Keshi: Hope this year is better for the entire world.

Mike: I agree. While I don't particularly care for Pat Buchanan I do agree with him that "Free Trade" has been a seriously major fuckup with only the corporate types coming out good. Before someone points out the oblivious no, I frankly give less than a damn about the ability to purchase cheap imported products. All that has done is make is screw this country and I feel sorry for anyone who happiness is tied so tightly to materialism.

Hill: Best wished to you and your family. I truly hope things get better this year. Read you had the flu, that always sucks during the holidays. Hope you are feeling better.

Randal Graves said...

Dude, how did you manage that post with so few typos if you were imbibing the good stuff?

I'd rather the cartoons from Masters of the Universe be running the show instead of these enemies of regulation.

Utah Savage said...

This is a great political post Beach. It's a lot to absorb all at once, and I'm just drugged, not drunk, so I'll have to come back and read it with a clear head. But I'm mightily impressed.

Beach Bum said...

Randal: I've heard the financial types call themselves "Masters of the Universe" several times and each time that old cartoon came to mind. On gut reaction level it always gave me a very bad vibe.

Utah: Take your time, curiously enough I saw the Cadillac Escalade sporting both a "No to Obama Socialism" and a "Palin 2012" bumper stickers again that spurred me to write this rant. The second time I just laughed.

MadMike said...

LOL!! BB you are a mystery indeed. Were it up to me America would stop manufacturing inferior automobiles. Instead we would make a deal with Japan (I hate them) to own, operate, and administer the manufacturing of cars for America. We would get better cars at a cheaper price.

Beach Bum said...

MadMike: With all due respect this post had very little to do with the automotive industries troubles. I did make two passing references but my rant was overwhelmingly focused on the investment manager types, bean counters, and assorted other desk jockeys that look down their noses at the blue collar guy or gal who is only hoping like hell their job doesn't get outsourced.
As for me being a "mystery" I'll try to not take that as an insult.

Utah Savage said...

Keep drinking Beach. This is a great bit of serious journalism. You are one hell of a writer and thinker. I'm really impressed and with you all the way.

maryjane said...

the base of our economic system was still is.

we will get over it..but at what cost??

Vigilante said...

Whenever it is that we get to go sailing together, Beach, pack up some of whatever that stuff is that you're drinking, will you, and bring it along?


Beach and Vig,

Seriously, we've got some pretty good waves for sailing in Brittany. Good booze too.

Hope you guys can make it to Plage Bonaparte one day soon.


Beach Bum said...

Utah: I would have rather wrote a short story but right now I can't seem to get back in the groove.

Maryjane: Even with Obama in office I don't know if we will get over it.

Vigil: Sure thing, I really could use a nice sailing trip.

Hill: If I never make it just know you, Vigil, and several others are always welcome here.

Anonymous said...

Great post...
Thanks for sharing......

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