THE GREATER DEPRESSION CHRONICLES: Gone Crackpot???

Crackpot?...

...That's me, according to some. I'm guilty of sounding crackpot at times, I suppose ...but mark my crackpot rantings with an asterisk. Why? Because if I'm wrong, I'll 'fess up. A true crackpot goes to the grave with his beliefs, despite any evidence to the contrary.

I admit that I can be a bit eccentric. Odd, perhaps. (Okay, sometimes more than a bit odd; let's be honest). But not, for the most part, a crackpot (though I have moments, particularly this past winter).

With that as the set-up, here are some of my views on the state of the nation. Let's see if I set off a crackpot alarm or two (take them all with a grain of salt):

  • We are not in a recession. We're in the early stages of a worldwide depression. Last year, Hank Paulson was scaring the bejesus out of lawmakers with dire warnings about martial law, financial black holes, bingo riots, etc. unless bailouts happened right that second, before lunch, even. Worldwide collapse was imminent. The sky didn't fall, but despite everything Gubbermint has done, America continues to bleed jobs. The greatest evaporation of wealth since the Great Depression is still wreaking havoc. That kind of damage doesn't melt away with a couple decent months by the stock market.
  • The "recovery" is NOT being threatened. We're not in one, folks. OK, we're not in free-fall anymore ...but we're not in recovery, either. It's more like we fell off a cliff and now we're rolling willy-nilly down a steep rocky mountainside. The valley floor is still nowhere in sight. When headlines mention "improvement" read carefully. Most of the time the "improvement" is a slowing rate of decline. Things are just going down the toilet a bit more slowly. Occasionally a story will bravely state the rate of decline is "moderating" but boy, that's a rare thing. I see it this way: dying more slowly isn't getting healthier. You're still ...well ...dying.
  • I have no faith in Gubbermint to get us out of this crisis. The cure for what ails us ain't more government and massive deficits ...deficits that will be ultimately greater than all the past deficits of this nation combined. The American people will get the nation out of this crisis, one way or the other.
  • Americans have been very upset about the auto maker rescues. I'm not happy, either, but I'm a lot more upset about the vast sums that flew out the door in TARP funds and other rescue packages under a virtual veil of secrecy. Hey, at least with the auto maker rescues some Americans might keep their jobs. Maybe.
  • The "stress tests" for banks were a joke.
  • Let's bust Bernie Madoff out of prison and make him Secretary of the Treasury. Our Treasury is running the biggest ponzi game in history right now. Put it in the hands of an expert. (Wish I'd been the first to say this. Whoever said it first is a genius. On the surface, yes it sounds crackpot. Or is it? Hmmmm...)
  • Meaningful recovery is half a decade away...at the earliest. If the US dollar collapses in the next 12-24 months, true recovery may take far longer, and it will be significantly muted.
  • The future of the Republic is at stake. Earlier in the year, for the first time in decades, every state was in recession. Many states are wrestling with financial crisis. Pennsylvania and California are shining examples of the utter incompetence of government. Take California, in particular ...the world's 8th largest economy. California's credit rating has been downgraded significantly. It may fall further, to junk grade. A real crisis is brewing in state capitols all across our nation. It's gonna hit the fan sooner versus later, and it won't be pretty. No matter how far back you stand, you're still going to need a change of clothes. We're all going to get hit with it.
  • Gubbermint is picking our wallets more and more these days. A tax for this. A fee for that. We are no longer a nation of the rich, the poor, and the middle-class. We're now the slightly-less-rich-and-about-to-be-slammed-with-taxes, the poor, and the taxed-to-death-soon-to-be-poor-former-middle-class. Those in power would be wise to remember that this nation was born out of unfair taxation.
  • The United States will suffer a secession of either Texas or California within the next 20-25 years unless our economic ship is righted. The Governor of Texas "joked" about this a while back, but I'll bet there are folks in Texas right now who'd LOVE to break away. In the course of its history, a nation is either growing or shrinking in size and/or influence. We're certainly not growing any more, gang.
  • Our military will be slashed to the bone within a decade, setting the plate for a major conflict somewhere in world which we will not be able to stop simply because we can't afford to be there to discourage it. When the cat's away....

Before you dismiss all of the above as "crackpot," let's review some of the things that have happened in less than a year:

  1. A number of iconic Wall Street firms have vanished. Gone. Evaporated.
  2. General Motors went into bankruptcy, and the government fired their CEO. This was a company that defined the American dream for generations of Americans.
  3. Unemployment is creeping toward double digits. Vice President Joe Biden says that the Administration underestimated the damage to the economy. Too bad he wasn't in my kitchen last November when I told my family that unemployment would be 10-15% by the 2009 Christmas season.
  4. Those out of work are taking longer to find work. Many have just given up.
  5. Joe Paterno is still coaching and winning championships after hip surgery and yet another change in American Presidents. I think Abe Lincoln called him "...a pretty fair coach, for an old fart." Joe can probably still run down most officials from behind. (Umm...sorry, gang. I wandered off there a minute. Too much coffee, too little sleep...)

Last thoughts:

My parish is having their annual summer Festival. On Friday, hours before the Festival opened, I showed up to start prepping my area of responsibility. The church parking lot was jammed. My first thought was that I was missing a pre-Festival Mass. That wasn't it. Our Festival flea market was jam-packed with people looking for bargains. We get a few early birds every year, but this was a boatload of bargain hunters. A virtual D-Day Omaha Beach of Flea Market shock troops. Further proof from where I sit that the average American sees no real recovery.

Last weekend, I was in New England visiting my brother. He took me to lunch at a place a few miles from Seabrook, New Hampshire where almost all the food is shamelessly deep fried. (They even had wings...but I went for the seafood platter. It was too good to pass up. If you see my doctor, swear I only had a nice lettuce salad and a low-fat dressing.) The meal was reasonably priced, and the food was fantastic. The restaurant was not packed with diners. Business was brisk, but I'm guessing they were at about 70-80% capacity. Keep in mind it was a Saturday, a day with flawless, gorgeous July weather, deep in the middle of vacation season. My brother said the place is usually packed. We had no problem whatsoever finding a table. No sign of the recovery there, either.

So ...am I crackpot? Geesh, maybe. I still don't think so, but I'll admit the possibility. Am I wrong about most of the above? I certainly hope so. I'd love to be sitting on a fat 401k at retirement time getting ribbed about how crackpot I was in 2009. We'll see. Meanwhile, I'm "signing off" ...I picked up a $2 tabletop pizza oven at the Festival flea market. DOA. I'm going to see if I can get it working. If you see a chicken wing fryer for $2 somewhere, drop me a line ...just make sure it works. Bring a batch as evidence (heavy on the sauce and a side of bleu cheese, please).

Your call...

* * *

Error. Page cannot be displayed. Please contact your service provider for more details. (12)