Jan 082013
 
 January 8, 2013  Posted by at 8:42 pm Finance
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Artwork: Ilargi for The Automatic Earth

We've sort of run out of ways to describe the skewed perceptions and/or skewed realities of the politico-financial world we inhabit. Metaphors like Bizarro World, Kabuki theater and Theater of the Absurd have come and long gone and are now used only by those who missed out first time around.

But that doesn't mean it's all become less weird; if anything, one gets the feeling the media in general are becoming more complacent if not complicit painting a picture for the general public that's at best make believe and in all other cases border on Orwell. There's a veneer an inch thick (and getting thicker fast) that makes things look sort of normal, just check the economy, and below that there's an increasingly nasty brew boiling and a-festering.

Depending on where one would like to start counting, we were entertained for 6 to 12 months by a B-movie posing as a US presidential election. The outcome of which was clear months in advance, since one of the candidates never was one. Still, you wouldn't have known it from the news you were fed. Poll after poll after poll provided a picture of a terribly tight race, so you would keep being glued to the tube, providing legitimacy to the system and advertising dollars to the major networks and leading papers.

Not even the fact that one of those papers consistently published a poll that diverged from all others so much that no-one quite believed it, could break the spell. Say what you will, but they all stuck to the script in admirable fashion, so much so that the poll in question, Nate Silver in the New York Times, didn't even tempt anyone to blink.

And now, 2 months after the election that never was, there still hasn't been a single voice who seriously wonders what on earth Gallup has done to its professional reputation. let alone why. Despite the fact that it was so tremendously wrong for so long you'd have to be king of gullibles island to ever read another of its surveys. Gallup need not worry: there's a nation full of pretenders to that throne. And who don't care that Romney's own kid said his dad never wanted to be president to begin with. Which was fine all along, since there was no chance of that happening. Unless Obama would have indecently exposed himself on national TV, or tried to ban all handguns.

What Gallup did is deceptively simple. The US is so polarized today that most states and counties are either red or blue before anyone even casts a vote. It's only in small pockets that there is anything obscure about outcomes. Don’t effectively weigh the impact of those pockets, and you will always have the picture of a tight race. Can't miss. Focus on them, though, and the picture changes dramatically. Enter Nate Silver. If he were a gambling man, he could well be very wealthy today.

After that drawn out non-event there were two weeks of relative quiet, and then we went head first into the next: the fiscal cliff. And wouldn't you know, that too went down to the wire. Very very last minute, with all these fine millionaires serving the public flown back in from their holiday homes for good measure and dramatic effect to agree on a piece of paper that could have just as easily been written 3 months before, and probably was too.

The Republican party is a dead duck sitting in the water. If you can't field a credible candidate for president, all power you have left is what your opponent allows you. Which is of course in this case very eager, for obvious reasons, to keep up the appearance of a functioning system, a democracy no less. Hence the ongoing performance. With a script as predictable as a syndicated crime show, and actors of the same quality. A combination that proves itself on a daily basis in primetime, and one the public has faith in.

Enter 2013, and this time around, there were no two weeks of quiet, we went straight from one crisis that was none to the next that isn't: the debt ceiling. This episode of CSI DC will be a long drawn out one – March 1 is the key date – , like the election, only much more intense than that was. We'll be bombarded by the media with clowns, actors and pundits peddling far-fetched problems and solutions with passionate intensity until every single one of you has drifted so far away from any sort of comprehension of the topic that you give up trying, plead insanity and pray to the White House for delivery. And only then shall you receive. Obama started out warning of "catastrophic consequences". Just like the last time around.

The US won't hit the debt ceiling. All the stories already doing the rounds about the 14th Amendment or a platinum trillion dollar coin serve only to dress the windows so much you can't see what's going on behind them. And to put rich food on the media table. Can you imagine the amount of advertising revenue they would miss out on if these three events could not be presented the way they are, as tight races that decide everyone's future? The only alternative for them would be to invent stories out of thin air. Imagine that.

The trillion dollar coin or some other kind of silliness may still happen, but it doesn't matter, since none of it will change the reason it's contemplated in the first place: the debt that resides below the one inch layer of veneer. Or the one inch and a trillion dollar coin thick layer, if you will.

There is no debt ceiling issue simply because the GOP, even if it would want to show its muscle by drawing the country into that fight, has no such muscle. At present, they're just a bunch of unguided missiles looking so desperately for a target they forget to launch in the first place. While the Democrats are the outer layer of a slick bank machine built to always and on every transaction give back less than you and everyone else put in. A quasi-perpetual money maker that they’ll keep running as long and as far as they can. The golden egg at last.

The only thing you can really be sure of is that the debt ceiling non-crisis will be averted with measures that will cost you dearly. The fear of the debt ceiling that has been instilled in you will be used to further strengthen the grip of the financial industry on society at large. The adagium is to never let a good crisis go to waste, and if there is no crisis, you create one.

And in case it wasn't clear yet: all the hullaballoo from crisis to precooked crisis serves to hide an infinite number of other, real, crises. Like, where's the media attention for the reports about the FBI, Homeland Security, the Joint Terrorism Task Force, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, the Domestic Security Alliance Council and the Federal Reserve all teaming up with Wall Street banks to bring down the Occupy movement?

One advantage from a power point of view of having a country so loaded with guns it defies gravity is that everything and everyone can be labeled a terrorist first and talked to later if at all. Occupy is not the first example of this, but it does stand out. Just not in the media.

There are scores of Americans preaching the right to bear arms from their rooftops who are under the impression that it's something their government tries to take away. They should consider the option that perhaps the government loves them having all their guns, because this way they can – much easier and more credible – be labeled as terrorists and targeted with drones, chemical weapons, ultrasound, viruses, you name it.

What the Occupy example shows is that the state apparatus serves those who hold the power and the money instead of serving the constitutional principles of the democratic system. And if you as much as voice your opposition loud enough you're a terrorist before you can say you're sorry, and an enemy combatant just for having a gun at home to protect your family. The presence of all those millions of guns the constitution intended to state you can hold to protect yourself from your government is all the pretext that same government needs to clamp down on you with weapons you paid for but can't buy even in America. In that bright light, it's no coincidence that Obama's CIA nominee John Brennan would long have been nicknamed Dr. Drone, if only anyone had ever heard of him. His time has come.

Still, most of all what this crisis to crisis circus seeks to hide is a fast deepening financial disaster, even as no-one has been persecuted or gone to jail. And as we speak, banks sign off on more foreclosure fraud with mere fines, while at the same time managing to have regulators loosen more rules such as the Basel ones, intended to make sure any next crisis would be less severe. In other words, absolutely nothing has been done or is in the process of being executed to smoothen the effects of the financial meltdown on Joe and Jane. Quite the opposite, they are set up to pay up for the damage the bank owners and their lackeys have suffered. And the media faithfully report an economic recovery. Just for good measure.

America, you're being punked.

 


Home Forums One Inch Below The Surface (America, You're Being Punked)

This topic contains 0 replies, has 0 voices, and was last updated by  Raúl Ilargi Meijer 1 year, 7 months ago.

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January 8, 2013 at 8:42 pm #8408

Raúl Ilargi Meijer

Artwork: Ilargi for The Automatic Earth We've sort of run out of ways to describe the skewed perceptions and/or skewed realities of the politico-f
[See the full post at: One Inch Below The Surface (America, You're Being Punked)]

January 9, 2013 at 3:25 am #6726

Professorlocknload

Why, Ilargi, I think you are becoming a Voluntaryist. A “Free Thinker” as it were.

Got to “cultivate our own gardens.” Anyone who leans toward state solutions, is advocating the use of force to fulfill his own agenda.

http://www.voluntaryist.com/howibecame/alexknight.html#.UOyN62ddATA

January 9, 2013 at 3:35 am #6727

p01

The next thing you’ll hear is they’ll mint 1piece One Trillion dollar coin, designed by headless chickens in their lucid dreams phase, and manufactured by Santa’s Elves from the (nowadays) easily accessible material called Handwavium-FinitusEst-ium.
Oh, wait…nevermind…

January 9, 2013 at 6:23 am #6729

Ken Barrows

We know that financial institutions have to go, but here’s the big question: should industrial society be thrown into the waste bin? Stoneleigh? Ilargi?

January 9, 2013 at 6:44 am #6730

p01

Ken Barrows post=6439 wrote: We know that financial institutions have to go, but here’s the big question: should industrial society be thrown into the waste bin? Stoneleigh? Ilargi?

Not speaking for I&S, but:
1. Financial institutions WILL go, regardless of what they/we want.
2. If someone comes up with a way to continue building The Pyramids (extremely large capital-eating projects) without using slaves or deferring the slaves to a future generation, I’m all ears. And I’m talking strictly pragmatical capital here, not ecology.
Anyone?

January 9, 2013 at 7:17 am #6731

jal

There is only one answer.

Today, a chocolate bar costs, $1.00.

I remember when that chocolate bar cost $0.05.

Boil baby boil.

(If you don’t understand what I’m saying, read the archives of the AE.)

January 9, 2013 at 1:21 pm #6732

Viscount St. Albans

Glutton: I’d like to order a cake for my birthday.

Baker: I’d be happy to bake one, but you never paid for last year’s cake, or the one before that.

Glutton: Details! Mix that batter before I get angry.

Baker: I couldn’t even if I wanted to. There isn’t enough sugar left in the pantry.

Glutton: Then make it with Splenda and tell me it’s sugar.

Baker: Only if you promise not to burn down my store.

Glutton: I’ll pretend to enjoy it and you pretend we’re even.

Baker: Deal.

January 10, 2013 at 2:47 am #6733

Professorlocknload

“2. If someone comes up with a way to continue building The Pyramids (extremely large capital-eating projects) without using slaves”

I’ll kick that up a notch.

There will be slaves and masters as long as there are governments. The more consent granted by the governed (slaves), the more intense the control over them.

Not to worry, they will provide you with just enough calories to maintain minimum productivity, as long as you cooperate.

January 10, 2013 at 4:27 am #6734

Loch

Ilargi, we’ll all be terrorists before too long. The right of free speech is the right to be named a thought criminal, a wrecker, and a reactionary. The right to bear arms is the right to be labeled a violent terrorist.

We are all fucked. But the most superficial study of history shows that the gain of the whole world at the price of one’s soul is still a bad bargain. Life is a fleeting shadow, and we all are like grass, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown in the oven. I’ll keep my integrity, thank you very much. The worst that the Statists can do to me is torment me and then kill me. I’ll see them at the judgment seat of God.

January 10, 2013 at 12:45 pm #6735

Glennda

Ilargi – “Like, where’s the media attention for the reports about the FBI, Homeland Security, the Joint Terrorism Task Force, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, the Domestic Security Alliance Council and the Federal Reserve all teaming up with Wall Street banks to bring down the Occupy movement?”

You make further important points.
Free speech = being a terrorist.
“the state apparatus serves those who hold the power and the money”
CIA nominee John Brennan = Dr. Drone

Last fall some local cities wanted to buy armoured vehicles and even paraded them at the last few Occupy rallies. Berkeley voted down armoured vehicles.(Though I expect some city nearby has managed to keep one of the free samples they got from HLS. What are they to do with all the equipment and personel brought home from Iraq?)

I can only hope (hopium?, anyone?) that the Alameda County (Oakland is one of the cities in the county)Board of Supervisors realizes that the Occupy movement is “watching” them back. We are alert to the possiblility that the Sheriff’s Dept wants to divert prisoner re-entry money from community service groups to use to fill the budget gap. Guess what they want to buy? Drones!!!

I went to their meeting yesterday due to an email from one of the Occupy group lists I’m on. Now I’ll be watching them too. I think it can go both ways. I know I’m likely to be on their list of “subversives”, but I cannot quietly ignore the direction they are likely to head. It wouldn’t take too much for a full blown Occupation of the Alameda Co BOS, like we did to the Oakland City BOS. The People will show up again when they try to buy drones. They claim there will be a discussion open to community comments.

Our time will come.

But guns won’t be necessary. Just ask Ghandi.

January 10, 2013 at 12:54 pm #6736

John Day

How does one create alternatives?
It is very difficult,and needs to already be in process.
Going back down the economic ladder, to places where people eat from their gardens and don’t have so live without industrial fuel, food and technology, is the key (I think).
Oh, and you have to be directly useful to the community of resourceful poor people you have gone to join.
Speaking the language helps.

January 10, 2013 at 7:08 pm #6739

gurusid

Hi Folks,

We’ve sort of run out of ways to describe the skewed perceptions and/or skewed realities of the politico-financial world we inhabit. Metaphors like Bizarro World, Kabuki theater and Theater of the Absurd have come and long gone and are now used only by those who missed out first time around.

If anyone is in any doubt as to just how “skewed” are the realities of economics they should read Steve Keen’s “Debunking Economics”, it shows just how unrealistic and downright delusional the current economic model is based as it is on nonsensical maths, but also shows just how human nature works in terms of supporting these delusional ideas: people believe in these flawed ideas just as they believe any other religious notion. So I guess “first time round” would have to be way back when humans ever started believing made up mythologies as true. The emperor truly does have no clothes… and throughout history never has.

L,
Sid.

January 11, 2013 at 5:04 am #6741

GREG L

I hadn’t been here for awhile, but this is an excellent recap of what’s actually going down. During the presidential campaign, I was just thinking about how 6 months can be spent campaigning while never talking about a single relevant issue—-not one single one. I didn’t vote and the way things are set up, most people arrive by design at the voting booth either fearful or angry and that’s wholly a function of media manipulation. I liken the current political/economic situation to a WWF match where either side sees the other one with the brass knuckles hitting their guy when the referee has his head turned. Of course, the press tells you what you’re seeing during the match. The only difference between the WWF and American politics is that observers of the latter don’t realize it’s fake. I do and that’s why I couldn’t vote. We are being given nothing to make real decisions on other than emotions.

I don’t doubt that the level of repression will escalate. OWS was a non-violent movement, but the real issue here is the desire to kill and snuff out ideas; the sort of ideas that raise questions about wealth disparity, undue influence of monied interests and the fact that the political class, having been bought lock, stock and barrel, haven’t represented people for decades. Everywhere one looks, there’s a sense of a information desert and that’s increasingly the case with the internet as well. Yes, we live in a world of lies and half truths.

January 11, 2013 at 4:36 pm #6742

Viscount St. Albans

A review of the news:

California balances its budget and sees a surplus in 2013.

Nikkei 225 index surges ~ 20% in 2 months.

S&P 500 is at 5 year high

Yield on peripheral European debt is low and on a downward trend.

It seems these factors would merit some kind of commentary.

January 15, 2013 at 6:59 pm #6766

ChartistFriendPgh

The National Debt Is A Millstone Hung Around Our Neck http://chartistfriendfrompittsburgh.blogspot.com/2013/01/the-national-debt-is-millstone-hung.html

January 16, 2013 at 10:07 am #6767

Anonymous

Thanks Ilargi, a great piece of writing! The disconnect between modern man and reality seems complete. We run out of epithets, metaphors fail us, words gasp for air; Orwell would have felt right at home. Fake candidates running for a fake presidency? Philip K Dick is grinning in his grave.

But you’d never know it. Here in Auckland, property prices are flaring like Aussie bush fires, highest prices since 2008… gives me the shivers. Our old friend the Dow Jones is still a thousand points off its pre-crash heights but it’s struggling for a double top. Coyote is on acid, his feet peddling the air, apparently forever – he hasn’t looked down yet. Meanwhile there’s a climate on steroids about to sock a hard ball to Coyote. What we thought of as ‘reality’ is morphing into a B Grade movie.

Tell me straight, Ilargi, how long can this go on? How long can the markets hope to squeeze more money out of what’s left of the public purse by austerity measures, sinking lids, and beating people, and the environment, to pulp? Couldn’t this just keep on going until we have a condition of absolute slavery? Abolishing all wages would give that old market a rocket boost! Then we’d be reloading our metaphors…

Best of the new year to you all at TAE

January 17, 2013 at 12:55 am #6768

Golden Oxen

The National Debt Is A Millstone Hung Around Our Neck chartistfriendfrompittsburgh.blogspot.com/2013/01/the-national-debt-is-millstone-hung.html

If you think it is going to be paid with Monopoly play money, it’s not so heavy.

Let’s issue a wooden nickel worth 20 trillion and pay it all off.

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