Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Wow. That's a big one.

The word is out from the Commerce Department: October's seasonally adjusted US trade deficit in goods and services tallies up to a gargantuan $68.9bn. You don't need me to tell you it's a record. Or that it's a full $2.9bn larger than the old deficit record set way back in September. Or that the 2005 trade deficit is on track for 19% annual growth over 2004 and 45% growth over 2003 (that, too, is pretty damned big).

You might not know, however, that the seasonally unadjusted trade balance for October calculated on a C.I.F. basis was $82.5bn, an enormous $19.1bn larger than the deficit of October 2004, which back in the halcyon days of 2004 was itself a record.

How did we do it, you ask? A big big rise in goods imports combined with stagnant services exports. US services exports have been advancing in a step pattern for some time now. They hit a plateau and stay there for months at a time, then there is a little leap up to another plateau at which they stay for a while, and so on and so on. The last step up for services exports was September 2005, and before that, March 2005, and before that, November 2004. So the current plateau will probably be around for a few more months.

The more worrisome result from the October data is the strong growth in goods imports. Over the last three months, the seasonally adjusted annualized US goods import bill is $1.74 trillion (an annualized $1.62 trillion over the first six months of the year). Thus we're on an import binge of late, there is no doubt about it.

And it's not simply an oil binge. Petroleum-related goods imports are indeed up markedly over the past three months, averaging $24.2bn per month (while just $18.4bn per month over the first six months of 2005). At the same time, non-petroleum goods imports are averaging $120.4bn over the last three months, up from a first-half-of-2005 tally of $116.4bn. In sum, 59% of the growth in the annualized Aug-Oct 2005 goods import bill over the annualized Jan-June bill is due to oil, but 41% of it is due to growth in things other than oil.

And what might be said "things other"? Cars and consumer goods. Automotive imports so far this year are up 4.3% in nominal terms, and consumer goods imports are up 10.4%. No wonder the US personal savings rate has been negative over the last five months (June-Oct) and six of the last seven. The hard times upon which General Motors, Ford and Delphi have fallen won't be helping matters, either.

The dollar took a mini-tumble today once word of this monster got out. What is so interesting, however, is how the Fed's interest rate strategy is not only not having any effect on US consumption (neither of imports nor domestic products), but having in fact a positive effect on it by supporting a strong dollar which can command imports. Per the Fed's data, the real broad dollar was up 4.4% y-o-y in November and the real major currencies dollar was up 9.7% y-o-y.

As long as the Fed tightens, foreign states and capital are willing to loan us the money to consume, putting us deeper in debt but keeping the whole wheel turning. When the Fed stops tightening (in relative terms as well as absolute -- note the ECB raised rates earlier this month for the first time in 2.5 years), the incentives for foreign capital to buy the dollar weaken notably. Then do we return to the days of 2003 when just four fingers (the Bank of Japan, the People's Bank of China, the Central Bank of China and the Bank of Korea) were all that held the water behind the dike?

32 Comments:

At 7:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

General,

This is Eustice writin'. Ya seem uh might worked up about uh 68.9 Billion deficit. That's less than we're uh spendin' warrin' on Iraq each year. That's probably lessin' the anglo-AYmurrican ohl company be uh makin. Wah, Bill Gates hisself probably has two thirds that much net stinkin' worth. Wah, stop and ask what the gross world product is, General? Then take that 68.9 billion and put'er in the numerator and put the number fer the gross world product in the deeeenominator. Whah, that percentage would be no biggerin' uh minute, as some hick used tuh say. And that's thuh way ya gotta think 'bout this trade deficit stuff, General. Otherwise it don't make no sense. The Fedeeeeeral Reeeeeserve be the central bank uh central banks fer the world. It be the fiat money spigot fer the G8, er nine, er ten economies (they always change it on me) and so too fer the neocolonies they exploit. When ewe talk about a trade er current accounts defeeeeecit, er whatever, ya gottta reeeeemember that the G8-9-10 really is one economic unit, not uh bunch uh separate ones. They ain't no trade deficit if'n we's all one big happy, er even uh dysfunctional economic army. We're runnin' the defeeeeeecits right now. One day it'll be the Chinese. Some time back it was uh Lord Montagu pullin' the strings on who gets tuh have their defeeeeecits and eat them too.

Ah blieve somethin' bad ere gonnna happen, but it ain't uh gonna happen cause of the defeeeeecits. The defeeeecits is bein run intentional like tuh create the situation what somethin' bad willst occurr under, imho. See, ah think the bad things what happen, like wars and depressions and such, is mostly fundamentally strategic events. And strategic events is always about wrestin' control from someone else. See, ah sees it as war, politics and terror is economics by other means. And economics itself is oligarchy by other means. but then as always, what does uh Corporal know?

Your loyal grunt,

Eustice

 
At 9:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want you to know Eustice, loyal grunt and former Corporal, that I have procurred at my very own expense, a pair of glasses that immediately transforms your script to a small packet of intelligle character strings.
I think you're worth it.
It is a real joy to read 'imho' instead of lacing on the gum boots and slogging through the old 'innuh mieeee hummmmbal apinnnieeeeeeun'.
U B right about the record breaking record and we can always put it in some perspective that would unhitch us from 'records'. [The comparison to Gates and Buffet's net worth for instance, but I think you are low on Iraqi spending.]
OTOH, that perspective might be too broad, too encompassing and catering to other sentiments than those that might fall under the umbrella of 'examining' the issue (the latest trade deficit) rather than 'life' as your Socratic spirit would have it.
That is all I have to say Eustice other than you have chosen a wonderful new moniker.

Boeing just announced a huge sale to Quantas so that might help next month's report. The oil revenues should be regarded as direct theft, the legislators review of that matter as complicity, the public's acceptance of the performance as self denigration.
calmo

 
At 9:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wayel, Mr. calmo (ah abbreeeeviated miiisterrr tuh Mr. fer ewe), ah do AYpologie fer mah spellin'. And ah will try to use more aaaacronymmmmms like IMHO soze yah don't have tuh wear yer poor corneas intuh uh cataraaaact. Not zactly tuh make excuuuuses, but ah'm a production of the public schools in these united states of Aymurrica. Ah reckon they didn't have much tuh work with, soze this spellin' is thuh best they could get me tuh do. But ah'll keep uh workin' on it. Oan that ewe can deeepend.

Ah reckon ah kin get overbroad at times, soze ah apologize fer that too. ah try not to, but its haybit some less kind that ewe has remarked upon more'n once.

Reeeegardin' yer closin' comment about Boein', wayel, that gits intuh some mighty interestin' stuff, IMHO (seez, ah said ah would use more aaaaacronymmms).

It would appear to this ol'scudder, er, IMHO, ah means tuh say, umm, wayel, boein' and airgreyhound, er, airbus, excuuuse me, be in uh a kinda competition what ain't zactly transparent tuh some folk. Ya gotta look tuh differnt oleeegarchic axeez tuh be uh unnerstandin' them kinds transactions, IMHO. Hey, this aaaacronymmmmin' IS kinda eeeefficient. But ah'll have tuh think on that a'fore ah chew more fat with ya.

Until that time,

Corporal Eustice Glutt

 
At 1:02 AM, Blogger vader_jg said...

Corporal

There is a theory of history that says that countries will support their elites aka oleeegarchics, until such time as that country cannot support them.

In short as long as there are goodies left over to support the mass of citizens, all is well, but always the elites want more and more until there is nothing for the mass of citizens who are then blamed for the mess. At which point we get a different set of oleeegarchics.

 
At 1:07 AM, Blogger vader_jg said...

One other thang.

I know that all we would have to do is to plunder Gates and Buffet to set things to rights, but how long would that plunder pay for the perversion.

 
At 1:13 AM, Anonymous Dustbin Of History said...

Boeing just announced a huge sale to Quantas so that might help next month's report.

However, Boeing's airframes are now something like 25% Made In Japan, and I have no idea how much of the other 75% is Made In USA, so I don't know how much of a boost that'll give us.

 
At 2:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for stamping out that little ember of hope dustbin. You are no fun.
I can imagine you didn't cotton to any of that 'dark matter' that seems to have painted us a $3T rosier picture of our actual debt position. Still sinking, but with a little more time than previously (setserly) thought?

 
At 1:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Vader (ah hope that ain't Lord Vader),

Ah warn't familiar with that theory, but then theyze alotta theories ah ain't knowin' about. Here's thuh way ah unnerstands ya. Ah have expressed it in uh algorithm tuh hep get it clear in mah mind.

If G(t)-G(o)> G(psm), AND IF G(psm) > 0, THEN INCREASE G(o), ELSE REGIME CHANGE.

Where
G(t)= Total Goodies
G(o)= Goodies fer oleeeegarchs
G(psm)=Goodies required by plebes fer minimum subsistence

Do that about AYpproximate it? Ah know it ain't perfect. Ah couldn't recalls some uh mah logical symbols and such. But its a fair try, ain't it?

Theyze another theory kinda like that, but its even a little more elegant and Ockam's razorized than that. It goes like this:

Things work until they break and then ya fix them.

This theory don't feel quite so threatenin' as your'n, cause it don't necessarily imply a regime change in thuh oleeeegarchy so much as a fix. And the fix can take all kinda forms. Ya kin enlarge the problema and cost shift onto other unfortunates, which seems tuh sadly enough tuh me tuh be thuh most frequent case. Er, ya can all agree tuh make some sacrifices for the good uh all. Er, ya can apply a whole lotta asymmetries and hurt a lotta people real bad whilst the eeeeelites (and they ain't just one, theyze like ever one else, they're got their diffurnt factions) keeps sippin' Chateau Oleegarch and talkin' bout the poor quality of servants and wage slaves and prison labor these days. Er ya can do some combination uh all uh the above.

See, if'n ya take the Rothschild's fer one example (and ah ain't pickin' on them nice folks cuz theyze others what creates trusts of one kind er another, and who knows, mebbe the Rothschilds got eeeenough experience that we wouldn't want no rookie oleeeegarchs uh replacin'em), wah, the more things change the more they stay the same, if ya catch mah meanin' here. Wah, the Rothschilds survive and grow ever more influential for a couple hundred years. They and their Morgans and Rothschilds has made the best uh revolutions, civil wars, world wars, terrorista wars, guerilla wars, cold wars, hot wars, undeclared wars, declared wars, good wars, bad wars, holocausts, pogroms, killin' fields, assassinations, suiciding, famines, plagues, global warmin', the spread of representative governments, the receding of representative governments, the spread of commanism, the receding of commanism, the rise of capitalism, the decline of capitalism the rise of markets, the decline of markets, the rise of central planning, the decline of central planning, the rise of corporatism (uh, ah guess its still on the rise), mergers and acquisitions, divestitures, booms, busts, inflations, recessions, hyperinflations, great depressions, allied powers, axis powers, coalitions of the willin', fasism, commanism, nazism, new dealisim, new frontierism, great societyism, five year plans, ten year plans, no plans, Keynsianism, Hayekism, Von Misesism, Friedmanism, Equilibriumism, random walkism, goodism, badism, upism, downism, insideoutism and outsideinism. Shuuute, they seem as hardy and persistent amidst all this ism'in', ecologically speakin', of course, as sharks and cockroaches do through natural history.

So what is yer theory uh tellin' us about the last 200 years and, say, thuh Rothschilds, er, any other skillful players like them? that the Rothschilds and other oleeeegarchs what has prospered these last 200 years has left enough crumbs on the table fer the plebes that there ain't been no need fer regime changes amongst these long lived oleegarchs? that's what it seems tuh be uh tellin' me.

But that kinda tellin' don't require no theory; that's kind masterin' the obvious, aren't it? Ah, mean, if the folks with the boucoup bucks can always come out on top, that must means theyze ominpotent, er, god like. They can foresee the uncertain future and react and always stay on top, er, leastwise fer uh hundred er so years jest cuz uh money. But that don't wash, cuz other folks with comparable money sometimes loses it.

No, ah just don't blieve folks, even the richest oleeeegarchs can predict the uncertain future and react the right way all the time. Ah thinks they gots tuh be a might proactive and then lay their bets on their proactions and then only expect to win somewhat more than they lose and over time, usin' compound interest and insider knowledge of their proactin', wah, then they just sit and say, kinda like the Rollin' Stones, "Tiiiiime is on mah side, yes it is."

Could be wrong here, again. Could be uh loon with a pea brain on golden pond uh singin' in the fog. But ah just don't see that everthin's gotta come crashin' down cuz uh these defeeeecits, and these Rotschilds and other such oleegarchs gotta fall, as long as theyze enough dark matter to square certain off the books accounts with folks that's got more guns than brains, ya follow?

Now it could well be the my beloved UUUUnited States of AYmurrica is bein' set up tuh be taken down tuh a more humble status. Athens and Rome was brung down. The Florentines was brung down. The Holy Roman Empire and thuh Ottoman empires was brung down. The Dutch was brung down. The English was brung down. Ah don't knows. It kinda all seems tuh depend on strategic parameters and variables that ah cain't know about cuz uh ah'm not part uh the elite. If'n they be best off havin' us run huge defeeecits, wayel, then, ah reckon they can pretty much make us run huge defeeeecits as long as it suits'em. See they ARE dealin' from a stacked deck. They DO print the money. They DO own virtually all the central banks what exists. They DO own the corporations all round the world what borrows and produces. And as mah pappy used tuh say: them with thuh gold makes the rules. It ain't fair. It ain't right. It ain't even good sense really. Its just how it is alotta thuh time.

In a sorta penulitmate closin', thuh way ewe can tell when you're in uh enlighenment is this: the oleegarchs start controllin' ever thing uh little less tightly. They start relyin' more on their fellow man's and woman's ingenuity and love of freedom and willingness tuh contract faithfully and less on their instruments uh coercion. When they does this for even uh short time, wah, the whole danged economy suddenly expands and makes more plenty fer everbody, IMHO.

The way ewe tell you're in uh endarkenment is when the oleeegarchs is uh moving tuh increase their coercion, which is thuh way it seems tuh be tuh this Corporal. See, ah thinks oleeegarchs is people and they has their confident moments and their insecure ones. Ah thinks behind all uh thuh titles, and systems, and trusts, and influence peddlin', ownin' politicians and ownin' media, and arrogance, wah, they'ze just ordinary folk what got alot more tuh lose. And some uh their kids is real bright and natural born leaders and some of their kids ain't bright enough to pour spit out of uh hat. And so, like the wines they is so proud tuh bottle and age and sell, wah, they got some good vintages of oleeegarchs, and some bad ones. our problem as a human community be this: in uh age when a few bad ones can cause uh irreversible heap uh harm, when ere the oleeeegarchs gonna wake up and see that their own enlightened self interest (that is the perpetuation of their way of life) hinges now more than ever on bringin' more and more folk into the thinkin and decidin' loop and not less and less.

Ya see, ah blieve the oleeegarchs have been fed some bum information by thuh epistemic community. now don't go shoutin' anti-intellectual at me. ah know ah need me uh good nerd tuh build me a computer er even a good cofee pot. And ah likes uh good treatise on this er that as much as the next fella. And ah loves intellectuals, because ah find them among the most interestin' folks to chew fat with, but....they is human too and they makes mistakes ever now and then, too. And ah blieve they has fed the oleegarchs, what needs the epistemic workers as much as Joe Bag-uh-doughnuts does, they fed them oleeegarchs a lotta notions about knowin' more'n they could. They fed them game theories that could supposedly make'em more money and save'm from nukuuular war. They been fed that in the Technotronic era (ah didn't make that stupid word up...Zbig did), the horse sense of ordinary folks just don't matter no more. To paraphrase Zbig, folks can be controlled more cuz uh technology, soze they will be. Is that dumb er what? That's like sayin' cars can now go faster, soze inevitably they will and more people will get kilt. Hey, Zbig, have ewe ever heard of uh danged seat belt and speed laws and tickets? They work despite the technotronic advances. Zbig is uh kind of uh example ah mean about what the oleeeegarchs have been bein' fed. He means well, ah'm sure. Any man who wears a flat top cain't be all bad. But he just got so fascinated with technology and coinin
phrases like technotronic and uh gettin' them Roooskies, that he plumb lost perspective on what can be done tuh make things better. But Zbig ain't the only-est one. And he done alotta good things too. And so have others. But they just got so dad blamed pessimistic and tight sphinctered about what can be did to fix things that they just started tellin' these oleeeegarchs, hey, ya better grab fer all the control ya kin whal ya kin.

These oleeeegarchs been fed the hooey that ewe cain't rationally have uh system unless its exclusive and run by oleeegarchs and a few technotronic flat tops. In short, they've been fed thuh experts own absurd notion that in a risky world, only experts can figger anythin' else out useful like. And this spoilt, fear ridden epistemic diet the oleeeegarch has uh been on has rekindled that old insecurity and lust for more control than is good fer'em. That's all.

Now, ewe look back through history good and close. At times when more folks rather than less was gettin' involved in the system and the decision makin' and when these folks was empowered tuh use their own creativity and good sense tuh solve problems, and when magic was being discouraged as uh sound decision model, alottta good things started happein'--not all good, er even mostly good, but more'n before. So much that the elites got a little insecure about the perpetualness uh their role.

IMHO, what happened tuh the world lately was this: when the USSR got coerced and bribed back into western capitalist orbit, wah there warn't no other big obvious enemy tuh think about.

So: suddenly, the oleeegarchs, which had been purty allied for half uh century, suddenly didn't see no needs to stay tight and cooperative like amongst theyselves er amongst thuh plebes. And they begun tuh bicker a bit. They could all agree that they ought tuh take all the ohl. But some uh them started tuh say, ya know, we'd like a seat on that there central bankin' trust ratherin' just be oil trusters, er what have you. We don't see whah ewe money trusters gets tuh have all uh the whammy by yerselves. Whah can't we share? We knows ya own alotta yer own ohl companies, even some of our'n, but ya needs us tuh produce the danged ohl. Now square up will ya, they must uh said. Quit treatin' us like kid brothers. But thuh money trusters just couldn't bring theyselves tuh share. It just warn't in'em. And so now we got us uh regular hatfield and mccoy oleeegarch feud uh goin' on. and ewe know that when those oleeeegarchs get their backs up, wah, they'll pretty much fight tuh the last drop of your and mah blood. And whoooooweee, do they start lookin' fer flanks and faults in international and national relationships they can exploit tuh give the other oleeegarchs a hard time. They just get into this silly, emotional, super duper ah'm gonnna get ewe a'fore ewe get me kinda mood. and they turn all kinda folks into debtors soze they can then threaten them to join the disagreement on their side, not on the other oleeeeegarchs side.

That's whah, ah been us sayin' right regular: Whoooooooweeeeeee, General, what're weeeeee gonnna doooooo?!

Cain't nobody talk some sense into them designer hatfields and mccoys a'fore a whole bunch'a us gots tuh loose everthin' includin' our children.

Ah really blieves this is how it be.

Mebbe it ain't, but that's how it looks tuh this ol'yardbird in the economic trenches.

Concernedly yours,
Corporal Glutt

 
At 4:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eustice,
Not to discount the Rockeffellers, Rothchilds, Rothmans, and Rocks or Roths in general, but together with your attachment to rank, I am being distracted by this element.
Sorta like your shoe lace being undone or a shirt tail hanging out, a belt end that came out of its loop jutting forward, disturbingly. Something.

The president and the GOP champion the value of family. They mean their's not just anybody's. ["Oleeegaarks" more or less] You seem to think it might be a good idea to ennumerate those families. Identify the enemy. And then we can talk and make sense.
And make hay as Madam Supkis might say. And as Corporal, (or former corporal), you are ready to follow instructions [The omnipresent "Whaatta weeee gooonnna dooooo, General?"] I suppose that is where I draw the line between citizen and soldier: I expect you to follow orders from your superiors if you are a soldier, but if you have chosen a higher road, I expect you to examine, challenge and possibly contest any such requests. So Eustice I thought I'd get that distraction off my mind.
btw, it's just calmo not Mr or Mrs or Ms or...

 
At 5:42 PM, Blogger vader_jg said...

Not Lord, but junior grade as in jg.

The theory that was presented to me over at that 'Kos rag blog, was that the US has has had a couple three of these shake outs. Once from the Slaveowner oleeegarchs to the factory oleeegarchs and from the factory oleeegarchs to whatever we have now. There may have been an earlier one from the Merchant oleeegarchs to the Slaveowner oleeegarchs. But the principal seems to be inline with your theory.

I humbly suggest another view or two. One is that in a closed social class, truth is what that class thinks it is because that is who that social class interacts with. In short, if all the oleeegarchs talk with are other oleeegarchs, then that limits the truth that can be passed around. If all the oleeegarchs think that poor folks are trash to be disposed of, then that is the truth to those folks. For example, a decade or so ago, the conservative religious folks wanted convenant marriage, divorce only in case of adultry because that would cut down on 'trophy' wives. They told all that this would elimnate divorce. Now poor men can just about afford a 'run of the mill' wife, if any. Only wealthy men can afford 'trophy' wives and because the conservative relgious folks ran with wealthy men, they figured most divorce was caused by 'trophy' wives.

Use to be in the US that we had mixed communities, Doctors, Managers and Professionals live nearby and attend the same clubs and churches. So truth could be exchanged between classes. Now we have gated communities and truth is within those walls, regardless of the reality outside.

Now keeping this idea in mind, who would the oleeegarchs chose to reward with chairs, contributions, salaries or scholorships? Would it be folks that disagree with the truth from the gated community or agree with it? I think agree and then the epistemic community will become self selected to appeal to the oleeegarchs. I think one reason that those political analysts are so bad at predictions is that they are not selected on ability to predict, but on the ability to agree with the oleeegarchs. So I suggest that the epistemic community does not care for accuracy as much as making a good living.

I agree that the demise of the USSR changed things. Once the oleeegarchs had to worry 'bout the plebes getting seduced by the USSR folks and hanging oleeegarchs from lampbosts and trees. Like lovers, the absence of alternatives leads to indifference.

One effect of the oleeegarchs having everything is that money loses it value to them. The plebes have no money and at some point, the system grinds to a halt in a money panic or depressions. Lots of the minor oleeegarchs and oleeegarchs want to be-s get whacked back to plebes and the major oleeegarchs start worrying about ropes and lampposts more than being poorer than one of the other oleeegarchs or having less toys and adust things to take the pressure off. Sometimes like the 1930s US, it works.

 
At 5:46 PM, Blogger Epimethee said...

Calmo, where did you get your glasses ? I'm interested ...

 
At 11:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Calmo,

Ah once read a mess uh poetry called Thuh Four Quartets by T.S. Eliot. It were a long cold night in uh financial fox hole with nothin' much tuh do. In the first quartet, ah blieve it were, he writ somethin' like: "The way upward and the way downward are the same." And then he talked about havin' his thoughts on heaven and uh steppin' in the mud at the same time. That purty much sums up mah thoughts. I kinda figger all roads is purty much the same. Its your mind that goes up tuh heaven and its your feet uh clay what stands in the muck. And its the choices ya makes what bends the stick. That's about all ah kin say on that subject without seemin' dumb as a post.

Best regards,
Corporal Glutt

 
At 12:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice to have such sophisticated literary tastes Eustice. I am only familar with his cats --prefering the common beer as it were, to the wine which demanded so much more attention. The cats ran away with me letting me think Eliot could be quite a pretensious old fart. So it was his fault that I did not come to appreciate his serious work. calmo shall give the Quarters a go on your citation Eustice.

 
At 10:34 AM, Anonymous old ari said...

I am sorry corporal, but I just run to the bottom of your comments, can't you take a course in american english and learn how to spell?

 
At 1:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear vader_jg (may ah calls ya vjg fer uh aaaacronymmm tuh save calmo's eyes and mah fingers...ah kint find that unnerstroke key?),

Hmmmm, that was some right smart expoundin. Ah commend ewe.

Ah follers the part 'bout them talkin' amongst theyselves and evolvin' uh set uh thinkin', some foolish and some not, as be typical of all folks gettin tugether repeated like. Yep, that rung kinda true. Ah finds that goin' on down in the economic trenches, too, sometimes.

But if'n ya admit that they gits the wrong ideas some times behind their gates, wah then, ewe also gots tuh admit that them oleeegarchs gets around quite alot in comparison to regular folks what with jettin' here and jettin' there, and Davos'n here and Bohemian Grovin' there, marryin' intuh this royalty and divorcin' outta that important family and workin' with all kinda lawyers, and doctors and foundation directors and what with hirin' central bank directors and ceos uh multinational koneglomerates, and intel agency heads, and pickin' presidents and startin' CFRs and Bilderbuggers, and extractin' this from here and growin' that there and manufacturing ever kinda widget everwheres. They're busy bees some of'em.

And ah follers the part 'bout them kinda naturally selectin' out the certain epistemic workers (and ah uses that term as one might use the term sex workers in Bangkok, Thailand) what produces thinkin' that tends to reeeeeinforces thuh biases the oleeegarchs deeevelops in their gated commuuuuuunities. Likewise, ah don't listen tuh uh neocon knucklehead economist on Fox, when ah kin come here and listen to ewe. And mah neighbor with the Bush/Cheney bumper sticker, and no job because of the fuelish policies of them what he voted for, still preeeefers tuh listen tuh thuh knuckleheaded economist on Fox ratherin' come here and listen tuh ewe, er me. So, ah sees this model uh operatin' all 'round me and that makes it right empirical. But ah also gotta point out that real oleeeegarchs don't live in no gated communities, least ways none that ah ever knewed about. Real oleeeegarchs got big estates where theyze safe and alone. Wah, they gots tuh throw big stinkin' parties full uh idle rich (they ain't enough real oleeeeegarchs tuh have a real stink wolloper of uh party, soze they has tuh invite the idle rich) tuh have much social contactin' in their communities. Wah they gots to go tuh their second through 15th homes in Staat, Bermuda, atolls in the S. Pacific, Aegian isles, castles here and chalets their tuh get any real socializin' done. And ya know what? They cain't never stay as long as they like, because a real oleeegarch, one what has to worry about keepin' the family on top transgenerationally, wah, he er she done gots tuh get back tuh the grind of contending with other oleeegarchs what gets outta line er too big fer their britches er what just goes stink crazy and starts uh doing things that be bad fer all oleeeegarchs. Ah'ma tellin' ya, bein' uh oleeeegarch ain't all fine wine, rolls royces and polo. These people, some of'em, anyways, has gots huge, sprawlin' financial empires that they gots tuh keep from bein' stole from them (don't ewe think quite few oleegarchs would like tuh own the Federal Reeeeeserve?), others gots tuh commence all kinda mayhem just tuh keep up with the Rothschilds, others gots tuh keep crazy narco trafficers toein' the line to keep the intel agencies what they depend on for watching their flanks financed as well as thuh tuther oleeeeegarchs intel agencies. Ah mean, bein' uh oleeeegarch is uh right taxin' job even if'n they don't pay uh equal share uh taxes with ewe and me.

And then theyze the good oleeeegarchs. Theyze a goodly number of'em ah hear. They got all this lucre and all they wants tuh do is some good soze their kids won't vomit ever time they look at their parents. But they got like a red laser target light on their foreheads cuz uh all that lucre and they knows that the bad oleeegarchs'll be only tooo happy tuh take it all from'em by hook'er crook.

Now ah ain't askin' ya tuh shed no tears fer these folks, but ah am askin' ya tuh see'em clear like. Some is sociopaths, just like some middle class and poor folks is socio paths. But ah blieves theyze always enough good oleeegarchs tuh work with. If'n there warn't, wah, we'd all already be blown up dead about 50 thousand times over ah expect.

Now, ah also gots uh coupla semi related caveaaaates.

First be this: talkin' in thuh somewhat abstract about folk, rich, poor, er in betwixt, like we is doin' here, ya gots tuh be real careful not tuh take none uh their humanity away from'em. That is, afterall, the one thing we can be sure of 'bout all of the oleeeegarchs. They IS homo sapiens...ah just don't buy intuh outter space type aliens stuff.

Grantin' folks they humanity is quite important not only tuh be in good with gawd, er yawhweh, er buddher, er shake-ra, er gaia, er what ever kinda sweet and gentle worshipin' ya might do, but also soze ya can be AYccurate and precise in yer thinkin', too. See, oleeegarchs is human bein's with occassional bad breath, fears uh inadequacy, broke hearts in romance, feelin's uh mortality, frustrations with their parents, disappointments with their kids, OHccassional fecal impactions, stone passin' uh one sort er another, stupidness, hemmorhoids, endurin' wonder 'bout what the hell made the world the way it is, and whether or not they should buy what car they're uh wantin'(it just so happens theyze decidin' betwixt uh Feeeerari Enzo and uh Buggatti Veyron, whilst ah'ma decidin' betwixt uh late model Civic and uh not so late model AYccord.)

Anyways, if'n we recomember their humanity, and they does the same fer us (which unfortunately they some times clearly does not), then it allows us all tuh think more dexterously (ah threw that word in their spelt dictionary right fer Calmo's eyes) about what is really goin' on. It keeps us from imputin' a lotta prejudices and such to them, er them tuh us, or tuh whos soever we might speak of...prejudices that simply ain't factually accurate. The only-est oleeegarch er two ah got any real knowledge of, was supposed tuh be right nice folk actually. No more protective uh thar turf than ordinary folks uh theres....but no less. Ah heared it once called a territorial imperitive what drives us. We done inherited it from millions uh years uh uh peein' off ground durin' eeeeevolution. Anyways, since the oleeeegarchs gots alotta turf, it can seem like they be more protective uh their turf than they actually is. Ah guess, what ah'm'a tryin' tuh say here is this: this here problem uh who gets what is hard enough tuh grapple with without compoundin' it by misunnerstandin' folks too.

Next caveaaaate: if'n you're a real oleeeegarch, ya don't have tuh worry about bein' hanged from the lampposts. If'n ya think back, it were Mussolini the foolish plebes hanged, not no one from the Angelli family. And it were Hitler who had tuh go down in a bunker and commit suicide with his woman rather'n face being hung from a lamp post. It weren't not Alfred Krupp er any uh thuh Farben folk. Almost by definition uh oleeeegarch is worth more alive than dead to his captors, because his captors tends tuh work fer olegarchs that be connected tuh the oleeeegarch captured. And those folks tend to have done business before during and after the wars. And there just ain't no more eeeeefficient way to administrate an occupied territory than by hirin' the oligarchs what at first caused ewe to invade them in the first place. its just business, as they say theirselves. they think other oleeeegarchs, even defeated ones, knows how to get things done in that occupied country. the captured oleeeegarchs think like other oleeeegarchs and don't got their minds clouded with no foolish isms that might favor the plebes. So: in thinkin' bout the fall uh the USSR, ya just gots tuh unnerstand that the forces shapin' post cold war ain't that the oleeeegarchs got less fear uh hangin' from lamp posts; rather, as you said earlier, they got less need fer keepin' ordinary folks content in the process uh maintainin' their status quo.

Third caveaaaate: ah just don't see no hard evidence that oleeeeeegarchs ever get to where money don't matter much to'em. Ah think they is normal smart in the head and ah think they know that money is uh powerful shapin' force and ewe can never have too much of it. Whah do ah think that? Wayel, cuz some oleeegarchs deeeeecided tuh grab thuh bankin' system, that's why. They think's money's so important, no matter how much they got, that they want control of creatin' unlimited amounts of the stuff. Ah mean, ya cain't be too young, too pritty, er too flush with fiat money, if'n ya catch mah meanin' here.

Finally, ah respectfully offers this observation on what appears tuh be yer general notion that theyze alotta fears uh violence resultin' from tensions between thuh rich and the poor. Ah thunk on this one a bit in my economic fox hole over the years and ah come tuh this: ain't been no violent revolutions that warn't financed by some oleeeegarch somewhere. if there ain't no money lendin' fer revolution, wah, they just ain't enough wherewithal among us plebes tuh ever have a revolution. Also, so fer as ah kin tell, there be as many isms floatin' around as cloacas at a chicken farm, but the only-est isms that ever rise to any broad degree of acceptance is always financed by oleeeeegarchs tuh some end. some times it blows up on'em. some times it goes the way they want. but ah just don't see no historical evidence of uh ism ever really spreadin' like wildfire and causin' an uprisin' without a sugar daddy oleeeeegarch. If ah'm wrong on this, please de-stupid me.

Anyways, even though ah'm a soldier in this economic war, ah'm basically a peacenik and definitely a believer in nonviolence and negotiatin' and talkin' when the general permits. Bombs and wars is nothin' but uh sign uh quarrelin' amongst oleegarchs over something that could just as sensibly be solvin' another way. Ah agree with ol'Smedley Butler on that one. That is mah point of view, er POV to Calmo. Ah don't blieve in arm wrestlin with a polar bear, when ah could be reasonin' with uh human bein'. Fer this reason, ah don't sees no point tuh talkin' bout hangin' nobody fer nothin. Ah don't want tuh sees oleeegarchs as polar bears or enemies. some is bad. some is good. mah job as a soldier and a human being is tuh see which is which, not judge, but also not pretend the bads is good, er the goods is bad. ah've no doubt in mah mind that if'n oleeeegarchs could blieve that they chances of uh stayin in they high and might place would increase if'n they were tuh re-rig the system soze we were all livin' like upper middle class AYmurrricans, whah, they would do it in a New York minute. They like their lives that much. Thuh problem is: they just don't think that would happen. They really does blieve that they would have to give up something serious big tuh have us all livin' well. They really, some of'em anyways, seems tuh be trapped inside uh some stupid Hegelian logic that tells'em that the least risk way tuh clear a path in the direction they wanta go is tuh fund opposites, and take over in the vacuum created by the conflict these opposites creates (think Iraq fer one example). Now ah cain't argue that that don't work too some extent. What ah'm uh arguin' with is that it is not necessarily the only, best or even least risk way uh clearin' their path. Frankly, it defies economic logic, when you set down and study it. It even deeeeefies straaaaategic logic when you set down and study it, too. But that's apparently what some of'em think. Some day, ah blieve they'll learn diffurnt. Some day, ah blieve they'll look on this absurd relationship they have with the rest uh thuh world right now (an elite with some technotronic nerds treatin human beings as cattle is ridiculous stupid. I imagine that some day they'll learn this kinda like they learnt that slavery was plumb stupid from every angle of self interest for them (even though they seem tuh be uh back slidin' a bit right now).

And as an aside: you mark my words on this: there is gonnna come a time when China has a mighty heap uh civil war trouble fer usin' prison slave labor tuh grow their economy just the way mah beeeloved United States of AYmurrrica used African American slaves to prosper. Some Oleeeegarchs will exploit the vileness of the Chinese institution just the way some oleeegarchs exploited the vileness of the institution of slavery in America. It will happen. Chinese is human bein's too. Never fergit that man what stood up in front uh that tank in the square. Put an oleeegarch behind that man and you'll have a civil war in china as sure as you had one in the USA. History don't repeat itself; that's foolish naive. But oleeegarchs learns tools and tricks from the past and they uses them again when they fit and they listenin' tuh the wrong advisors. Bet on it.

Corporal Glutt

 
At 4:20 PM, Blogger vader_jg said...

You are correct, that revolutions take money to fight. Lots of them revolutionaries retired when the USSR KGB money dried up. Gotta have that filthy lucre to pay for guns, food, uniforms, booze, whores and other neccessaries of warfare. OTOH, there is a theory called 'fourth generation warfare'. You can google it and get more info. One principal it has is that the nation state if finished and warfare of the future will be between non government forces vs government and other non government forces. Its theorists hold that the nation state cannot continue in its present form for a bunch of reasons. Not important at the moment to cover them.

But the issue I want to point out is that money is less important to revolution than it used to be. Iraq is a good example of this. There is a high human cost to the insurgents, but a $100 in training and equipment combined with a suicide bomber can cause millions in damage. Used to be that you could just wipe out the trouble makers and make a pile of skulls of the result as a warning to the next town, or at least bury the result in mass graves. Now that is not possible. So you have all the potential $100 bombs going off and defeating $Millions. And if I remember my war theories correctly, winning does not include being on the wrong end of that exchange for long. I remember very well the local cable news, talking about the great victory where 10 or so insurgents got killed, after a massive bombardment by numerous sorties of aircraft, lots of special force folks being shuttled around by helicopter and hummers, and so on. Assuming that training+equipment was about $100 US and the cost to the US was millions of those same dollars, then you get my drift. As my dad used to say, for those folks, making a soldier is unskilled labor. For us lots of dough for schooling, healthcare to get them up to soldier size and then lots of training and equipment because each one is so valuable.

I've heard rumors of lots of uprisings in China lately. Riots and what not. When I am not worrying about economic here I go read the Asia Times Online to see what is what.

I agree with you about violence and such. War is the last resort of the incompetent to be sure. No war starts unless at least one side thinks that they can win easily. Yet we have wars and we have revolutions like the Russian and French ones where blade, rope and bullet taste Oleeeegarchs. Granted the Oleeeegarchs on top are generally smart enough to run away.

The oleeegarchs are human to be sure, but they do have children and sometimes the smarts do not get passed alone. Our Lord President is one example of this. Them being human all, means they carry the human stupidity of not using the brain until it is the last resort.

That 'Hegelian' truth our oleeegarchs seem to be stuck in is a result of about 40 years of working at it. Human kind seems to run in cycles of greed is good, followed by some major problem caused by greed is good, followed by period where greed is evil and repeat as memories of the major problem die out. Think from the depression of the '30s and WWII through today. I read one of those socialists on the Asian times website expounding on how this time it was different in that great quantiies of money was not as valuable as it was. That the incremental value of more wealth was less and less. Thus he thought at some point, that drive would fade away and we all be one happy family.

Buckmister Fuller wrote Grunch of Giants in the 1980s in which he theorized that corporate and capitalism would eventually put all the means of production and intellectual knowledge in the third world, and eliminate the advanage of the first world and end corporatism. I cannot say though it sounds a great deal about what is happening today. In any case, I will assert that for the first time in human history, non anglo-saxons will have control of the means of production and the advantage in intelectual property. So whatever happens will be different.

Dilbert said that we are all frightened chipmonks running around in the leaves.

 
At 11:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pondering the generous script of Eustice, and some of the reactions to it, I am reminded of a real life occurrence of a young man who did not finish high school presenting his case (armed robbery) before the judge and several prosecutors.
He began "Due to the unfortunate matter of my previous incarceration, I was unable to procure sufficient resources to avoid further misfortunes...".
Sometimes style is everything and substance goes wanting. [I think this is a problem for W: the style is suffering; the polishing is actually tarnishing when stood next to a previously unknown like Murtha who somehow just shines without all that preparation. A little substance cuts a lot of mustard apparently.]
So Eustice is not easy to read (like W is not easy to listen to), but there might be some stuff in there (unlike presidential script) that is worth digging out.
Why does Eustice make this so deeeefikult?
I'm not sure. This could be too generous: in order to entertain new ideas, really new ideas, we need to relax a whole bunch of rules that confine our hoplessly cramped style. [Not that we would flourish if we all wrote at the same length and creative spelling as Eustice.]
This may not be generous enough: If the poetry is not well received (if the persona is just too much of a burden), those readers, who are demanding just a little more substance (that may be being obfuscated by a very demanding style) [such as a wanton use of parenthetical remarks for instance], may just decide to go with old ari.
calmo digresses...

 
At 11:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear ol'Ari...ah did. Ewe shoulda seen mah syyyyyyntax, graaaymmar and spellin' afore that.

Yers ever,
Eustice

 
At 11:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Calmo: Ah'll tries tuh go onna pairenthetical diet tuh be obligin' tuh volks, even though ah was raised tuh blieve digression were the better part uh valor. Now reeegardin' thuh lack uh substance, ah'm doin' mah best. Ah don't git no grants fer this ewe know. And ah didn't never claim tuh be no Bobby Lucas, er Dougie North, er General Glutt er nuthin'. And ah started out by askin', not tellin'. Ah said, whoooooooweee, what're we gonnna do, General? Fuhther, ah always presented mahself forthrightly as uh grunt in this man's economic army. Ah gots mah thoughts and mah IMHOs and mah path deeeependencies just like the next feller. Ah just tries tuh mention when ah thinks the postin's here mebbe overlookin' uh 900 lb. gorilla in the foyer; that be all. Ah'll do mah best tuh think deeper when ah kin, though, and tuh de-parenthesize a might. Deep thinkin' is real good, especially when it heps brings the 900 lb. gorillas intuh keen focus. Say, ah almost fergot. happy holidays to ewe and your'n.

Yer humble Cervantes,
Eustice R. Glutt
Corporal
Grand Army of thuh Economic Republic

 
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