atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,
atomic_fungus
atomic_fungus

#4655: The depression started in 2007.

I'm seeing an awful lot of stuff about "are we about to enter another recession?", at least from the center-right folks who don't have a stake in Obama being the do-all-be-all. The problem is, asking that question indicates that you trust the government numbers, and the government numbers are bullshit.

They've been like that for most of a decade. Inflation rate is a crap number, GDP is a crap number, unemployment is really a crap number, and all these crap numbers add up to economic statistics which absolutely do not reflect what is actually happening in the economy.

Example: if the economy were really roaring along, expanding, and at full employment, the Fed would have raised interest rates by now. Instead, like Jack Nicholson's Joker, "We're giving away free money!"

Inflation is hidden by ignoring the price increases in food, and only including energy costs when they drop. (Incidentally, the price of oil is not dropping because supply has risen, but because demand has fallen. "Worldwide economic depression".)

GDP is a component of a bunch of statistics, one of them being government spending. Our government is spending a hell of a lot more money than it's taking in; if government stopped deficit spending today GDP would drop by eighteen percent tomorrow. This goes back to the Fed and interest rates, by the way, because if the money wasn't free, government couldn't spend like this.

Unemployment is the biggest lie of them all. The claim is that we have 5.5% unemployment, but when you count unemployed noses the way we did when Bush was in office, suddenly U3 is closer to 12%; go back to how we counted unemployed people when Reagen was President and U6 is a staggering 22%. Instead, we count as many unemployed people as possible as "not in labor force" (duh!) and they therefore don't count towards U3 or U6, and BLS can gleefully report that we're at full employment in the worst economy in eighty years.

The common (mis)perception of the Great Depression of the 20th century is that everyone was out of work and there was all kinds of privation and misery, up and down the ladder. That's not so; the economic conditions we're in now are what they were like eighty years ago--in 1935 people bought new cars, built houses, made money, and in general did everything they could to be comfortable just like they always have. The problem was that 25% of the country was either out of work or underemployed.

Sound familiar?

The only reason the depression doesn't look like a depression is due to government largesse. There's a hell of a lot of social spending now that didn't exist in 1935, such that people who haven't worked a day in their lives can afford iPhones and big-screen TVs and 24" rims for the hoopty. (All things which, incidentally, also did not exist in 1935.) Absent social spending, today's depression would look a lot like the one of eighty years ago, complete with soup kitchens and shantytowns and the whole lot.

Spending which, by the way, is financed by "free money" and quantitative easing. Interest rates can't be allowed to rise now, because if they do, the whole tangled mess comes crashing down: government can no longer afford to support the masses of unemployed and/or unemployable, absent crushing taxation that would ruin what little productive capacity the economy still has. The alternative to that is hyperinflation, but--again--that's such a bad outcome no one wants to go there, because between the time you get your paycheck and get to the store for a loaf of bread, it's become mostly worthless. The only people who manage to survive that, financially, are those who have hard assets, things like gold and property and factories. Rich people, the ones who made sure to have only risk capital in markets and paper assets, things like stocks, bonds, and bank accounts.

Do I wish it were otherwise? Hell yes. I'm one of the people who's being crushed by it. My technical ability, intelligence, and willingness to tackle complex puzzles ought to guarantee me a full-time position in just about any technological field I'd care to enter. That's how I became a computer technician in the 1990s; no one taught me anything about the stuff and I built a career in on-site service while I was still in college.

Instead I'm working part time as a retail grunt, and all my applications for full-time technical positions come back with "Thanks, but no thanks" because there are six applicants for every job. 44% of people who are in the workforce--however you count it--are only working part-time when they'd rather be working full-time, and they are not working at jobs which exploit their whole potential. (Again, like me.) It's not that they don't want to; it's that the jobs don't exist for all of them to be working. Companies have their choice of candidates and can pick their ideal, rather than accepting anyone who is only mostly qualified.

It blows chunks, but that's the long and short of it.

* * *

Abortion proponents have finally taken off the mask. For quite a while even people who support abortion-as-contraception acted outraged when a woman disposed of her newborn in a cavalier fashion. Now, however, we're arriving at the next step: "Well, if you really didn't want the fetus, even after it's born it's not really a person, so it ought to be fine for us to dispose of it."
Notice how long it has taken to go from "abortion is not murder" to "abortion is murder and murder is okay". 45 years. And it is morbidly amusing to see the journal's editor complaining about the death threats. If "the very values of a liberal society" include the right to murder newborn babies, then number me among the fanatics opposed to it.

If newborn babies are not actual persons, then how can one reasonably limit the right to kill them to the parents? Since they can't be property, it seems to me that the moral logic suggests that anyone who might happen to feel like killing them has a right to do so.
I don't see what the editor is getting so upset about. I mean, how can we really say at what point a fetus becomes a person? If a delivered fetus is not an actual person and has no moral right to life, who is to say that the editor of a medical journal is an actual person with a moral right to life? I mean, is there any way we can tell that he's self-aware and capable of making rational decisions? Okay, sure, he graduated from medical school and became a doctor and all that, you know, but that's not proof that he's actually an actual person.

Abortion is murder--it always has been--but this garbage does not agree with that premise. What it does is to redefine child murder--infanticide--as abortion, which is itself defined as an elective contraceptive or prophylactic procedure and most emphatically not murder, no way, uh-uh, never never never, because WOMAN'S RIGHT TO CHOOSE, HITLER!

Watching our formerly moral society rocket into the gutter at mach 9, I am again struck at how quickly the guardrails come down once the forces of chaos begin hammering at them in earnest. It does not take very long.

In my various SF stories, one of the themes is the cyclical nature of civilization. When I was first readjusting the canon for my main SF universe, I put an interregnum about fifty years after the second interstellar war, and worried that fifty years was too short a time for things to go to shit.

Guess what? It's not.

* * *

Rumblies this morning--

I was up very late (early) last night. Working on the story--the difficult one--and even after I went to bed I was still tossing and turning for quite a while. I'd managed to get to sleep perhaps half an hour before my wife's alarm went off, and then managed to just get back to sleep when she kissed me before leaving for work. I dozed for another hour, got up, wrote the prior post, had a PBJ, and then dossed down again...and slept like a man drugged.

While having a post-writing proofread in my rocking chair, I heard loud deep sounds that I couldn't idenfity at first...and then realized thunder, which I haven't heard since October. Seriously, the first option my brain tried to pattern-match the noise against was snow plow, for crying out loud.

Thunderstorms and rain--and once I realized what was going on it was even relaxing, to a point. But my mind was still whirling with plot and story and character, and I was thinking about personal experiences which could help me put it all into perspective, because first and foremost you must always write what you know--and if you don't know, you must first find out before you write.

I slept until after 4 PM.

After all the work I did on Tuesday and Wednesday, my entire body feels well-tenderized and I'm in no shape to do much of anything else. On top of that, I wrote both nights after Mrs. Fungus went to bed. It's nice to have one day to myself where I can get some rest, then sit in the quiet and contemplate the next stage of the story.
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