The financial media are chock full of "Repent, for the end is nigh" warnings. I usually agree with their catalog of economic sins this country, and others, have committed: artificial "wealth" through credit madness at every level from individuals to the government; over-taxation and over-spending; submerging small businesses and entrepreneurs in a La Brea Tar Pit of regulation; conversely, using the people's money to rescue big companies from the consequences of their folly.
No porcine lipstick can conceal the nature of the beast anymore. Don't we all know, even if it's half-consciously, that the economic morass isn't part of the normal business cycle or a common or garden variety recession? That the system has come unglued?
It's mourning in America, with Robert Shiller, Peter Schiff, Martin D. Weiss, James Turk, Robert Prechter, David Wiedemer, Gonzalo Lira, Tyler Durden, Marc Faber, and others I can't remember at the moment assuring us the American economy, if not the world financial nexus, is at death's door. Even in such a crowded field, however, Paul B. Farrell stands out.
Farrell, a regular columnist for MarketWatch, can match the bets of all the other doomsters and raise them. He's a combination of Savonarola, Huey Long, Jesus in the temple with the money changers, Nostradamus, and Karl Marx. I like him, sort of in the way I like Gore Vidal: unhinged but colorfully argumentative, with a dream logic that's persuasive until you finish reading and wake up. It's refreshing to find an economic guru who isn't hedged in every direction and who doesn't seem to have the slightest concern about being thought mental; and once in a while he makes unconventional sense.
His latest opus is a look back from the year 2020 at the magnum collapse, with a new chapter of the debacle each year starting in this one.
2011. Wall Street’s super-rich spend billions to control WashingtonThanks to the conservative takeover of America’s so-called democracy the past three decades, from Reagan to Obama, our activist Supreme Court delivered the coup de grace into America’s psyche in 2010, overturning long-established precedent and giving rich owners of zombie corporations absolute rights of live humans, a decision that would have gotten a failing grade in my constitutional law class at the University of Virginia.
Obama part of the conservative takeover? Deliver me. Still, after the Supremes' Kelo decision, it's not that far-fetched to imagine the Court "overturning long-established precedent and giving rich owners of zombie corporations absolute rights of live humans."
Washington now feels called on to rescue big corporations, as though they are humans in need of a hot meal and a brush-up. But corporations lack one important attribute of people. Baron Thurlow, an 18th century English jurist, said: "Did you ever expect a corporation to have a conscience, when it has no soul to be damned and no body to be kicked?" Quite.
2013. Pentagon’s WWIII global commodity wars accelerate for 2020 peakBack during the Bush II presidency, Fortune analyzed a classified Pentagon report that predicted “climate could change radically and fast. That would be the mother of all national security issues.” Billions more people will increase unrest across the world, creating “massive droughts, turning farmland into dust bowls and forests to ashes.”
No decent Twilight of the Gods scenario is complete without a good helping of climate change. If the Pentagon says so, well, that caps it.
2014. Global population bubble accelerating, wasting commodities
By now it had become clear that America’s Conspiracy of the Super-Rich was draining trillions from middle-class taxpayers. They see global population growth (exploding more than 100 million annually) not as a drain on scarce resources but only as a way to get richer through their obsession with free-market “globalization.”
Bull's-eye. In all the wailing about various kinds of bubbles, why does no one ever mention the population bubble (i.e., unsustainable population growth)? If anything, our funeral directors for Western civilization are more likely to complain that folks aren't reproducing enough. Good on Farrell for going out on a limb with a sensible observation that few want to hear.
2017. Middle-class revolution: Buffett’s rich class loses, overthrownBy 2017 it had exploded into a new Civil War as all hell broke loose after the 2016 presidential election. The growing income gap popped Wall Street’s bubble for the third time in the 21st century, the economy collapsed, riots spread against another bailout of too-greedy-to-fail Wall Street banks. A class rebellion ignited.
As if. We need a right old shake-up for sure, but I can't picture any serious revolution. The fight has been bred out of us. Like the English, we've become a nation of grumblers.
We complain, but when the cost of civil disobedience is an IRS audit or an indictment on one of an endless supply of potential charges — as is frequently pointed out, there are now so many laws and regulations that we can't help violating a few every day — we buckle at the knees. I'm not directing this at you. I accuse myself, because I'm another griper via this blog who won't do anything more radical than joining a demo in Washington with a hundred thousand others.
We do what we can; can't do more. With some common sense, sensible reform, and more good luck than we've earned, maybe we'll muddle through.