I’m not a pessimist. But I get pretty cranky when my car dies in the driveway, my son gets sick, when the person on the bus behind is gabbing on their cellphone, when the financial system drops an atom bomb on the economy that we’re still dealing with, when the central bank plays God with the markets, when companies wrap themselves in the flag and then ship jobs to China, when politicians from both parties wrap themselves up in the flag and then take millions of dollars from the companies shipping jobs overseas, and then rewrite the rules to favor the companies shipping jobs overseas, when…
Well, you get the picture. I consider myself an optimist. But I am also a realist, and I have to tell you, right now, realistically, everything stinks.
Okay, you got me; not every single thing in the world stinks, and like the New York Knicks, everything that stinks can get better. It may take a major upheaval, a revolution or exiling Justin Bieber to Inner Mongolia to make it better, but it will get better.
Now, if you’re a player, a real player, a Koch brother or Jamie Dimon, then everything’s great. But, for the rest of us, here’s just a partial list of everything that today stinks. Tell me if I left anything out.
The economy stinks. We are not creating anywhere near enough jobs, which means we’ve got millions of people stuck on unemployment, and millions more who are employed but are seeing their wages and benefits undercut by the lack of demand. We have a completely shot-through housing market. The list is endless. We will be lucky, and I mean David-Tyree-catching-the-ball-against-his-helmet lucky, to avoid another global banking crisis.
Stocks stink. I don’t want to hear about bull rallies. The market is largely controlled by computers programmed by pros who can suck all the value out of a stock 200 times over before you even get near it. The average investor does not stand a chance, not a chance, of getting real value out of the stock market.
Bonds stink. The Federal Reserve has been driving down interest rates in the interest of driving investors further out along the risk curve, into, say, stocks (and commodities.) Where you’ll get crushed by the quants and bots. That’s not even factoring in default risk. I’d go so far as to say that today, there is not a single safe investment for the average person. Not one.
The Republicans stink. Poppy Bush had it right when he blasted “voodoo economics,” but nobody in the party listened, we had 30 years of “supply-side economics” that led directly to an all-time economic crisis. Republicans stink.
The Democrats stink. The Democrats stopped caring about the working class once they realized there was more money to be had from the banking lobby. The Democrats stink on ice. We will all be better off when both these parties and the kleptocracy they safeguard are exiled along with Bieber to Inner Mongolia.
Unions stink. Well, union leadership, at least. Union leaders come out of hiding at negotiation time, talk a big game, and then brag about the 2.5% wage hike you’re getting, while brushing away the cuts in your benefits. There are a lot of reasons that average wages have gone nowhere for a generation, and lousy union leadership is part of it. Among the institutions in this nation that desperately need reforming, add unions.
401(k)s stink. The advent of the 401(k) was the second-biggest bait-and-switch in history. In exchange for steady, stable defined-pension plans, employees got pushed into the stock market (see point #2.) As a generation of baby boomers is now finding out, the investments will not come near providing for them in their golden years. They’ll be lucky to have gold-plated years.
Globalization stinks. This is the biggest bait-and-switch, the idea that the U.S. would ship all its good manufacturing jobs overseas, in exchange for “knowledge-based” jobs, or some other such pabulum. Can’t believe we fell for it. What we’re finding out now is that we sent those jobs overseas in exchange for cheap DVD players — and no jobs.
Education stinks. Honestly, they don’t even diagram sentences anymore. They teach something called “whole math.” What in God’s name is whole math? God forbid they should teach, you know, like, um, logic. How many students do you think would be better served by learning logic than whole math? All of them, that’s how many.
Music stinks. Just compare today’s music scene to, say, the ’60s. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who (and I don’t even like The Who,) Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, The Beach Boys, Credence Clearwater Revival, The Kinks. That’s just off the top of my head, and any of those acts are 50 times better than anything that act that’s emerged in the last five years. And they were all emerging at the same time. Think about that.
And did “The King’s Speech” really win Best Picture? Really?