Thursday, June 30, 2011

Pacification Thy Name is Internet.

The following is part of a (slightly edited) correspondence I had with a friend on-line. I should add that, apropos of the thrust of this post, my friend is someone I've never actually met with face to face. This is not entirely down to the limits of the
internet-where virtual is the name of the game- as my friend lives in a part of the country that is quite distant and is not an area that I have reason to visit, well, aside from our seemingly (internet bound) friendship.

"No doubt – I do not know when as I am beginning to lose hope in that most people seem too stupid to know what is happening to them – that and the fact that fully half are now takers rather than makers. So it may be that in the end – the takers win out – who knows.

I've long pondered the whys and wherefores of contemporary citizen inaction, and, while I'm sure entire books could be (and have been) written on such things, I have a few pet ideas. One of them squares on the role of the internet, namely it's incredibly capacity to dissipate all kinds of emotions and energy. Consider the following:

In days of yore, if people wanted to be heard by their fellow man, and I mean heard in numbers, what options did they have? They had few options except to take out ads in the local gazette, manage to get themselves heard on radio or T.V., or, perhaps, rent out a hall-a favorite of political activists going back many generations-and say whatever it was they felt they had to say.

Now they boy do they ever blog by the boatload. Quite a few blogs are downright vitriolic, even incendiary in their style and content, and some, not too many, but some, are compelling. And yet, at least in the U.S., it seems, what transpires from all the chatter? Very little. I am not by any means suggesting that the blogosphere has, all by itself, sucked the life out of any potential political activism, let alone revolutionary spirit, but, still, I fear that the presence of the internet, along with myriad other kinds of (peculiar to our age) diverting fare, and some other, not to be named in this missive, crucial factors, have reduced us collectively to not much more than inveterate talking typists-and here I raise my hand up as a member of this guilty cohort- at the expense of aligning ourselves with one another for the purpose of taking genuine action, not in cyberspace, but in the real world

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Hello Again!

To my loyal reader(s), I'm sorry that I've had no scintillating entries for you over the last six weeks, but, well, I've been busy with other stuff. Now that I have a bit of time I thought I'd just drop a line to say that it appears to me as if the next round of the financial crisis is upon us.

Why now, you may ask? The termination of the so called Quantitative Easing programs conducted by U.S. monetary authorities is not the proximate reason that things are heading south again in my view. Having said that, QE2 has likely contributed to the onset of the next go round of economic contraction since QE2 has been instrumental in causing the price of raw materials to ratchet higher to an extent that has eaten into the profit margins of all manner of business activity. In the meantime, the higher cost of everything from toothpaste, to gasoline, to lawn furniture, to pork cutlets has made just about everyone but the very wealthy feel less wealthy. It's all a recipe for another round of job losses, stock market woes, and general wobbliness in the economy. And as bollixed up as things have become at the hands of the monetary authorities, there is little doubt that they would be worse without the soon to be defunct Quantitative Easing programs.

Don't misunderstand me. I've never been an advocate of the kind of monetary nostrums that have been applied in response to the calamities of '08 and early '09. It's simply that I'm aware that the pain we've experienced to date would have been vastly more intense, albeit relatively short lived-or so I conjecture- had no QE programs been enacted. And because politicians in our governmental system are in it as a career, more precisely for life, they will always, in the main, without fail, opt for the sort of approaches that attenuate pain. To do otherwise would reduce career politician's chances of remaining career politicians. In short, kicking the can down the road is how the political class responds to all crises. It's why, in time, there will be more Quantitative Easing whatever new euphemistic moniker they may apply to actions that will be nothing less than buying debt outright for cash. So, while Quantitative Easing demonstrably creates all manner of painful economic distortions, to not engage in more money printing presents the bigger risk to the political class.