“Everybody Knows”, as Leonard Cohen said

The problem with having this sort of P-list blog and having it parked on a cult with a long track-record of exploiting any economic insecurity within the nation, is that that tempers my expression of fairly dire economic troubles.  That we are not swerving toward economic Apocalypse does not mean we a few Shoes are about to drop which the body politic is going to have to rumble through.

The American people seem to know the score.  At a recent Republican presidential debate, the question came up on why  polls show Americans hold a negative view on the immediate economic future.  The phrase that came up with the Republicans defending Bush-o-nomics was that we have “The Greatest Story Never Told” regarding economic good times.  This has the flip side problem of Dick Gephardt’s 2004 comparisons between Bush and the rumored “Double Dip Recession” and Hoover and the Great Depression.  For the rich white guy who said that, the signs are pointing us toward a different direction.

I have noticed an advertisement has disappared from the backs of the alternative weeklies.  It had a 20-something year old woman in a Superman t-shirt saying “I Didn’t Know I Could Buy A Home”.  This ad was a lie.  There is a fine line between home ownership and debt culture membership, and I don’t quite know where it is — but the person this ad was attracting fell into the latter category.  It had been clear to me that a
dash of short-term thinking, perhaps even some ensnaring charltain work, was gripping this sector of the economy, which would catch up sooner or later.

Indicative of some things, even if I know that this too will pass, and the latest issue of The American Conservative offers up this dark visage:

Young Adults accustomed to thrilling paydays will instead have to memorize dozens of excruciating formulas for different sorts of beverages more or less based on coffee.

A quick note here: a recent David Brooks editorial riffed off the seeming emergence of a state between “Adolescence” and “Adult”, understandably a little anxiety-inducing to cultural bemoaners.  I had always assumed that this was a product of the triumph of Consumer Culture, but with this line — which was prominently pull-quoted in the magazine — does have an economic thread going: Where are those jobs, and what happens in that state?

The meta-cycle of suburban development, including “housing” and all its accessories in roads and chain stores, is hitting the wall of peak oil.  The suburban build-up is over.  This will come as an agonizing surprise to many.  The failure to make infinite suburbanization the permanent basis for an economy will rock our society for years to come.  Hundreds of thousands of unemployed men with pick-up trucks and panoplies of power tools will feel horribly cheated.  I hope they don’t start an extremist political party when the repo men come to take their trucks away.

Provided is this remedy:

Reality commands that we prepare to rebuild our small towns and small cities and downsize our gigantic metroplexes.  Reality commands that we get serious about local food production and local economies.  Reality commands that we rebuild the kind of public transit that people will be grateful to travel on.  Reality commands that we prepare to restore our habor facilities for a revival of maritime trade, using ships and boats that do not necessarily run on oil.  Reality commands that we put an end to legalized gambling in order for the public to re-learn one of the primary rules of adult life:  that we should not expect to get something for nothing.

The lottery was always an avoidance technique for politicians to keep away from proposing new taxes and fees, complete with some socioeconomic troubles.  I scratch my head and figure that the “revival of maritime trade” insistence is archaic in terms of what is important.  The urging toward smaller communities, in addition to fulfilling the paleo-conservatives’ nostalgic romantic sense, has a grasp toward what eats up resources — how much hydro-electric power out of the Colorado River does it cost to prop up Phoenix?  And then there’s the big problem with converting us to a different energy source — against the power of the entrenched Oil Interests (and, for that matter, the entrenched Corn Interests who profer our less than desirable alternative).

None of this strikes me as dire, and we will likely trip into some of our fixes, off of the fringes of Industry and Government flickering the innovations from the sidelines into thefore-ground.  Supposing for a second, though, that in the meantime the economy falters into a somewhat reasonable guess, say — the depths of late 1970s Stagflation — well, we passed through that before, did we not?
Also in this magazine, this warning shot, and you should know what to do with it.  Maybe.  From “War Whisperers”

The continued deference to former administration officials extends to the very lifeblood of the city right now — the presidential election, where neoconservative war boosters will enjoy A-list invites, give and get tons of money, and have the ear of top-tier GOP candidates.  Meanwhile, old and new Democratic hawks have largely pushed anti-war liberals to the margins of the establishment, creating think tanks with muscular names and erudite journals to catapult their colleagues into top-level jobs in a new Democratic administration.

No less than eight names associated with the Clinton and Obama campaigns– including Indyk, Steinberg, and O’Hanlon — have turned up, in some cases multiple times, on statements and letters authored by the Project for the New American Century.

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