Missing Dark Bubble Matter

Today it’s a late post because there was plenty to do all day. There was battening down the hatches for the expected subfreezing temperatures a-coming in our time of global warming. There was the leaves that needed clearing from the lawn, and the kindling to be picked up from the yard so that we can use it to keep the fireplace going. There were visits from people still spreading holiday merriment. And phone calls to answer to make sure that life continues. There was dinner to cook and naps to take, both for replenishment. It was a calm and fractured day of nothing much. Still, it had to be done.

And then late in the evening I see this article: “Past Decade a Tough Lesson.” Not that any lesson is learned at all, as we shall see in a moment. It’s on page A4 of Sunday’s Advocate. It’s by Neil Irwin of the Washington Post. And it shows how the big elephant in the room with the 600 lb gorilla on its back goes missing in reportage today. It’s the great mystery of the press – where is the elephant/gorilla and what is it doing?

The article is supposedly about how the economic situation of the past decade was the worst in “70 years.” The years of creation of some of the coolest gadgetry and incredible cultural highlights, and billions made, and near steady employment for 10 years, and a stock market that was solid – all horrible per Irwin. Supposedly this “sharp reversal from a long period of posperity … is leading economists and policymakers to fundamentally rethink the underpinnings of the nation’s growth.” Which economists and which policymakers is gone unsaid. What underpinnings is not said – is it the free market which is being stomped on by the unmentioned elephanorilla? What was the underpinnings of growth that saw probably 20,000,000 jobs created in 10 years in order to soak up the growth in population from about 270 million to 300 million folks? What underpinned the giant sucking sound out of other countries of some 15 million foreigners who come here to the United States to make their fortune? Mr. Irwin does not further allude to the cause of this “worst” decade – or how it was really exactly so bad.

Then there’s a litany of problems about the “lost decade for American workers.” There is lament about the “debt driven expansion” that was not “sustainable.” On and on Mr. Irwin talks about the decline, the travail, the debt, the “miserable economic track record,” and other such horrors of our current times. Not that much of it is really societywide as much as concentrated in small pockets here and there.

For instance, there was a foreclosure and unsold house crisis on the Westside of Phoenix, but not the Eastside. Nor was there any at all in Houston or Dallas, Texas, but there was much of it in Central Florida, but not Miami. In fact, virtually all the problems are highly localized, but our tendancy in our times to look at the “big picture” and to look at the “national average” skews things. This too is part of the elephanorilla problem – the mice get stepped on and lost in the mush from the big. And we go to the president, who perhaps is one of those policymakers that Irwin mentions, as beg succor – look, our own Landrieu is going to get us some hundreds of millions, and there are any number who are seeking more millions from the president so we can race to the top, and for infrastructure, and health care and virtually every thing under the sun and clouds. And so the president makes a plan – and it can either help Phoenix, Michigan, Florida or Baton Rouge – but it cannot help all – for the problems are different by the solution is national.

For instance, Baton Rouge, where I am, has its perfectly normal 6% unemployment rate that it has had for the entire decade. There was no bubble here of debt, or miserable economics, and no great debt bust. There were,though, 15% unemployment in Michigan. And California. But is this then a “national” problem? Is the nation’s unemployment rate really 10% as is said ad infinitum? No, it is 15% in Michigan and 6% in Baton Rouge, and 4.5% in Nebraska, which even though doing so well still got succor from the president to the tune of total forgiveness of all Medicaid costs forever, supposedly – but unconstitutional, and still not law yet. And that’s just one of the problems with looking at things through the national prism instead of at the state, county and city level that we should be concerned with – for that’s where we are. Any policy that “policymakers” make to address Michigan’s problems at the national level have to either do nothing, or even hurt, Baton Rouge. As we shall see, it is hurt us indeed.

One of the few people Mr. Irwin could find to give a quote on the entire issue is one “Lawrence Mishel, president of the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal think tank.” That’s his sole identification, which is somewhat less than we know about a stranger we meet on an airplane. And there was Nariman Behravesh of the I H S Global Insight – which is unknown to me and not given a label or any further identification by Irwin. What on earth is this group? Surely Mr. Irwin should give a little more identification of his sources so that we can even begin to see if there is any validity. How do we even know if this bunch is in fact just Behravesh himself or herself alone? We cannot. Still, Irwin name drops this person and this outfit as if it is simply among the well known fonts of insight lying around somewhere we know not where globally. That’s part of the great astrophysics problem of news – ’tis the missing mush of who is being quoted and why. It’s like the Dark Matter that is supposedly there holding the universe together but no one can find or see or even go beyond saying “well, it’s got to be there because something has to be there.” How did Mr. Irwin come to talk to this person? What? Throw a dart at a phone book? Global Insight? Is this a group that even looks at America? Is it even in America? Or is it some foreign thing that is headquarted in, judging from the quoted named person, somewhere in India, perhaps, or Iraq, or somewhere of such valued ethnicity. This is a mush source, a classic case.

And Karen Dyson of the Brookings Institute which is not stated to be the liberal organization that it is. Apparently there were no conservative, or free market people to be found to get their take on what is essentially an opinion piece. And the opinion is dire. Yet, still, to be shown – the elephanorilla is running around like a bull in a china shop and no one will mention the clinking shattering glass of its march to Valhalla.

But it is all opinion, and bad at that — an opinion that the free market was just a bunch of problems that someone had to rescue from itself. There is no real word about who does the rescuing. There are “policymakers” and “economists” but really – which ones? From where do they work and prognosticate? From what hat will they pull corrective measures? Supposedly this is the “Bubble Decade” — a term which Mr. Irwin seems to have made up, particularly in light of his comment that “the lessons are still being formed.” Well, maybe it wasn’t a decade anymore bubbly than any other decade. The Dutch of the 1600s when the Tulip Bubble broke when no one would by a single tulip bulb for 16,000 gold guilders – or about a Million Bucks today — may well argue that they had the Bubble Decade and this was merely the Effervescent Decade. Or perhaps, Forthy Decade, since it happened here and there. Or maybe it was “head of beer” decade, for it rose and fell as the bubbles burst and we wound up exactly where we were when we started. The poor Dutch never really recovered.

There is talk about “managing the economy” though who is to manage is unsaid. And talk of looking at the economy as “a whole – and manage those risks.” There is much talk about “chewing” on lessons, and “crashes” and “bubbles” and “excessively risky behavior” On come the travails and laments, teeth gnashing and difficulties. No doubt Irwin used his ipod with 3G capability to look up some of these problems on the Internet in seconds and was interrupted by his Blackberry ringing with word on how his investments in the few million new businesses that were created this past decade were doing. Or perhaps it was a more accurate count on the number of buildings and houses that are far more real than any bubble. And perhaps he even received word through his email or RSS feed that prices are down in a lot of places, and few people are unhappy with falling prices – except for the elephanorilla – this beast which cannot be mentioned in such travail pieces is forever unhappy with falling prices. That’s the horrors of “deflation” — as if a falling price – like for every electronic gismo in our hands today is lower pricewise by every measure – absolute, percentage, productivity – is a problem. Or when Gas prices fall – that’s good – though not the “fault” of Exxon – but a rising price – well, that’s bad too – that’s why “inflation must be kept in check” though who controls the inflation is left unsaid. But it is “stablity” that is sought – also known as death, or catatonic fit, or rigor mortis – but stability is the goal of royalism and socialism – so much easier to plan when everything doesn’t change.

Then there is this gem: “the first decade of the new century was an experiment in what happens when an economy comes to rely heavily on borrowed money.” — This is actually the Key Sentence in the entire piece. This is the crux of the issue. This is the elephant ridden by a gorilla. This is the biggest thing of out times – and yet, – AND YET – Irwin says not a word about it. What is it that is missing from this article? Well, it’s the Government and it’s tax and spend and borrow and deficit regime that went from supposedly a Surplus at the end of Bill Clinton’s term (doubtful, for the numbers were cooked and much was pushed off the books of those years to show up on the books of the Bush years.) to 200 Billion to 500 Billion a year of debt through 8 years of the Bush Bunch and then that was ratched up by Obama to $1.5 TRILLION – and not a word about this relying “heavily on borrowed money.”

Yet it is this government debt that did more to kill the economy than anything. It is this debt that is taking billions of bucks in interest to maintain – money that is not being used constructively. It is this debt that is making everyone very skittish about spending anything, thus cutting short economic growth. It is this debt that sucked all those Billions of Bucks out of the active economy and put it into the slush pond of government. It is all the money transferred from one group of citizens to another that stilled the engine of growth. You cannot not grow an economy by moving money from the hands of one person to another merely because the latter is entitled to it for some political reason. It is this number – the endless unsustainable debt of trillions that is the problem – and yet, AND YET, — Neil Irwin says not a word about it. It’s more secret than Valdemort for Harry Potter, and just as darkly powerful as said bad wizard. These huge sums sucked out of the economy is the problem. And even if you say – yes, well, those trillions were spent anyway, and the debt is being repaid – yes, well, I’ll say this – It costs approximately 10 cents to 25 cents in preparation of one form or the other to tax the money and reallocate it – to collect it and disperse it – 10 cents to 25 cents per dollar spent.

If any clearer sign of a bubble approaching is possible I don’t know it – One and a Half Trillion Dollars in debt = Three and a Half Trillion budget – Two Trillion in Taxes — this is the elephanorilla – this is the beast that is breaking it all. Donna Brazile just the other day said we shoud “Know” these numbers – and Irwin does not. This is the missing information. This is the cause of the undermining of the underpinning. But Irwin is simply complicit in the promotion of mush by not only not mentioning the elephanorilla in the nation but also in promoting only “economists and policymakers” as the solvers of the problem they created. The inflation is caused by government, and the rules are set by government, and thus every bubble is driven by government, and every bubble is burst by government – and yet, in this entire article the only innocent-yet-missing thing is the government elephanorilla. Astoundingly worthless mush filled opinion is what we are given on a cold Sunday – mush that fortunately can go right into the fire. And to all a good night.


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