Sunday, November 18, 2007

life in the slow crash

Well, here we are. Between natural disasters (tornado & ice storms) and exploding power plants, life is never dull here in podunkia. We can watch our city twiddle while it burns--no violins here. We never lost power, surprisingly. However, this is all small potatoes of What Could Possibly Happen and Most Likely Will.

After all, the dollar is at the top of that incredibly slippery slope--falling fast!--and since the world hates us for being power-hungry egomaniacs, they ain't doing us any favors. For some stupid reason, we (our country, so maybe I should call it We)--We sold all off all of our natural resources in the 50's and 60's. Too bad, because gas could be had for dimes when We sold it off.

(An aside: I have an encyclopedia set from the 60's. It's most wonderful because it contains the added benefit of the hindsight you acquire being 40 years from reality of that time. It says in those books that here's the estimated oil reserves we have and here is what demand is, and it'll be years before We run out! I did the math, and came out to 1999. I guess someday came for us.)

Back to the dollar. Earlier this year, I read that our rumored Vice-President was found to have traded the dollars in his investment accounts for euros. Of course, that had nothing to do with anything that was about to happen! For a month straight I was reading in foreign online news that the dollar was at an all-time record low against the euro. Yesterday I was told that the American dollar is worth only 90 cents in Canadian dollars. What?! Does that mean we can expect rich Canadians to buy up all the nice properties?

China is considering dumping the dollar. We owe them $1.4 trillion, or at least they owe that much of our debt. Yes, that's right! Good thing it is a big capital W kind of We. Oh wait, that We is all of us that make our livings in dollars. That's only $4600 per person, just half the yearly income of the biggest chunk of Americans (most of us earn around $10,000, not that they publish that in the evening news). Not only is the dollar going to seriously decline if they dump our currency, they are also importing tons (literally) of our used steel. I bet we're really going to miss that in the future. They just give us lead and cheap plastic for our landfills. I think we're getting the sorry end of this deal, but billions of Wal-Mart shoppers can't be wrong.

You can't exchange your federal reserve note for gold anymore, or even silver. Ever wonder why that is? Used to be you could take your notes to the bank and get an equal amount of gold if you wanted it. I think We gave all that gold to the Federal Reserve, a private corporation that graciously manages our economy for us.

What can we expect with a dollar that is worth less? It takes more dollars to buy what it did a few years ago, and you can expect to see it in your consumables rising--food, gas, fossil fuels, etc. Loans are easier to pay off if your money is worth less, because the value of what you borrowed is worth less. That's good news for anyone enslaved in indentured servitude. After much thinking, I decided it will be easy for the rich to remain rich, and easy for the poor to remain poor, but it will be a lot harder for anything resembling the middle-class to stay where it is.

I read an interesting blurb about the negative interest rate, where money is worth less each year on purpose, and how that actually stimulated an economy, because it discourages accumulation of wealth. It encourages money to flow, because it is only worth less in time, and there is no point in saving it up. I like the idea of a cashless economy, and I'd even call it a gift economy. It's a beautiful thing, creating wealth by helping each other and caring about each other. It's enough to make you cry at times.

Oh, the economy. Some parts of me think it is just a silly superstition, and I get a chuckle watching grown men in business suits get flustered and worried and consumed and start praying to the god of the arrow that points up. It's as though they are possessed. I've got no money, especially none in the stock market, so to me it's good news the economy is tanking. That means we can go back to planting forests instead of digging up the earth and selling it to each other!

The housing market is grand, isn't it? We have a very cheap mortgage, $250 a month, for a small house on 1/4 acre in the city. It's like that all over our part of town. On our block alone, since we bought our house seven years ago, six houses have been torn down (some from being offered dirt cheap with no takers, others through neglect). There is one business that is apparently still running, although they have no identification markers on their building. It makes me wonder what they're doing. Half of the houses on our block are currently for rent or for sale, vacant. Of the half that are left, three are owned and four are rented. That is some crazy kind of neighborhood when you're looking for a place to settle into. If you're looking for decent land (we have the best soil on Earth!) and low prices, and don't mind parentless kids and racist cops, have we got a deal for you. Well, it's Eden to me.

The power plant exploding was the loudest explosion I think I've ever heard. We are about two miles away. Terrorism? Oops, no just our own ineptitude again, or maybe just our infrastructure collapsing, or just random accident. The fire chief told people not to worry; it was just coal dust that was floating through the air (thank od for the northwest wind blowing steadily that night--it blew the coal smoke to those beautiful expensive homes with their central heat/air on with hepa filters). The fire department had no foam to put on a fire fueled by oil in a transformer, and had to request some from the national guard unit on the opposite side of the city. No one from the power company elite showed up until a good half an hour after the explosion. The fire department didn't even know exactly what was on fire. The city didn't know and/or tell what was happening, so we were left in the dark (but not literally, thanks to the national grid). When questioned about this decision, the mayor said, "Tough."

Well, oops happens. It is still happening for people who live in parts of what used to be New Orleans. And Detroit and East St. Louis--all disasters, or maybe Disasters. It's the disaster of every day life that fuels the encyclopedias of 100 years from now. I wonder what they will say about us, and what hindsight they will acquire by then? I wonder if they'll still be angry with us. I sure would be. Nothing like making a big mess and not cleaning it up. Buncha spoiled babies we are here in the U.S. Well, no time to grow up like the present! Time to feel big feelings, take responsibilities, and pitch in to do what we can. Somebody has to remake America. It might as well be us.

(edited for line breaks and apologies for the lengthy venting--just letting off some steam like the old coal-fired fossil fueled citizen-owned (ha) megapoly!)

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