Thursday, February 12, 2009

Stimulate This.

Let’s get pessimistic for a while.
What a time to have a kid. Either the world was always this dire, and I was blissfully self absorbed and didn’t see it…or its gone completely in the crapper the moment Noah was born and I started paying attention. Either way I’m scared.

I know the election of Barack Obama made (and still makes) people optimistic about our future. But America is extremely superficial, and elected him for extremely superficial reasons (he’s black, eloquent, voted against Iraq, he’ll save us all, etc.)

That doesn’t mean that Barack isn’t able to handle the task, in fact I think he might be more than capable, but he’s got a whopper of a mess.

What bothers me about this recession (now we can call it that) is that no matter what stimulus package we pass, we’ll have to innovate to truly get out of it. That’s the way America works. The last 30 years have seen the computer in the 80’s, internet in the 90’s, cell phone in the late 90’s. Now web 2.0.

Back in college I used to get into drunken arguments with a Danish economics major. He kept saying that the America’s days of innovation were over; other more hungry countries would take it away from us. This was back in 2001. He wasn’t completely right (smartphones and web 2.0), but our most recent ‘innovation’ has been moving magic money from house mortgages to investors. That's worked out well for us.

I really hope America can think of the ‘next big thing’ again. The possibilities are endless. Thomas Friedman would like that to be green energy. I would like that to be GMO'd pets. Let’s do it America! Beat those Dutch.


cyberninja said...

You're just getting pessimistic now?!

I do not think technology can save us from having a nonexistent economy. At least it can't give us that standard of living back. When people begin to believe in money for nothing, and come to expect it from the system (e.g. flipping houses, bailouts), you shouldn't try to save that system (but we will try, and bury everyone in it). It will eventually be replaced by a more honest system, which will result in a lower standard of living for everybody (just how much lower depends on when we get our act together and stop trying to save the current one).

After the 80's, our lack of natural energy sources meant we had to maintain a make-believe 'globalization' economy to ensure we kept our place at the top of the food chain. Now that the curtain has been pulled back, people probably won't fall for that again for a good twenty years, and we will no longer be the superpower we once were.

But hey, there'll be more local farms and farmers at least. And those super-duper scourge-of-the-earth Costco-sized Iowa hog plants won't survive without even more bailouts (which we will give them, of course). But we can't give 'em out forever!

Leviathan said...

Cyberninja, do you read Fareed Zakaria?

Let's say I'm getting more pessimistic about our government, and corporations, and NGOs. I'm optimistic about American people.

The whole seems much less than the sum of its parts.

Even if we had a more honest system (which I completely agree with, btw), we still owe trillions in debt to other countries and generations of future taxpayers. Now we owe $800 billion more.

The money/ethical problems we are facing (securitized mortgages, bailouts) are a recent phenomena. We can dig ourselves out of this financial hole. We've done it before. But we definitely need new technology. Obama is betting our future on it.

cyberninja said...

"The whole seems much less than the sum of its parts."

That's a very poignant description of America's current system.

Localized economies is how I envision the future. Local currencies based on a gold standard, that would certainly solve our ethereal money problems. Money should follow the same laws as physical matter, neither created nor destroyed.

We've got so many laws in the system we've become an enormous economic monstrosity where the holes in the beaurocracy can allow some people to (legally) steal (or invent) billions of dollars, while not even serving the basic needs of the average system-user.

And no I do not read Fareed Zakaria, but I know who he is cause he's occasionally on Meet the Press. Should I? I mostly just read the highly doomtacular and occasionally tinfoil-hattish conspiracy news reports of

Oh, and about all that debt, we're going to default on it. For sure.

Leviathan said...

I think people abuse the system because gov't doesn't enforce the laws it has, especially against white-collar (money) crime. It was obvious that the TARP money was to be used so banks would lend again, instead it was spent on making million dollar renovations to offices. Besides being chastised in public, those banks had no repercussions for their actions.

In my opinion, Feds should prosecute that crap. This is common sense stuff.

Anyway, my envisioned future involves a lot more federal government, or Yen. There is no way that foreign countries are going to forgive our debt. We'll get rid of welfare, Medicare/Medicaid, Soc. Sec., universal health way before that.

Leviathan said...

Here's another example
of abuse of government money, with little to no consequences (except for a guy stupid enough to take pictures of himself with crateloads of cash). Still another $49.5 billion missing...

Hundreds of rules do no good if nobody needs to follow them.