The Pentagong Show

The Pentagong Show
United State of Terror: Is Drone War Fair?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Shhh...Roubini says, ...

Roubini: "So all the gold bugs who say gold is going to go to $1,500, $2,000, they’re just speaking nonsense. Without inflation, or without a depression, there’s nowhere for gold to go. Yeah, it can go above $1,000, but it can’t move up 20-30 percent unless we end up in a world of inflation or another depression. I don’t see either of those being likely for the time being. Maybe three or four years from now, yes. But not anytime soon."

Hmmmm ... how a little financial meltdown can change one's whole perspective. With people's 401's and IRA's devastated and no hope of providing even a modicum of retirement income, an investment that in 3-4 years will provide 20-30% gains ( with considerably higher upside potential maintained by other financial advisers .. and don't even mention Jim Sinclair) is considered nonsense. That's exactly what my financial adviser at Fidelity told me 5 years ago. A young man named Chin with a degree and as much financial acumen as a ventriloquist dummy. Because, that's all Fidelity (or Lehman's or Bear's, or, well you get the point) looked for in their HR hiring. Just as in the days of Big Blue, which then meant IBM, no Data Center manager could go wrong buying IBM, even if there was a much better deal to be made buying PCM (plug-Compatible Machine) vendors' equipment, (which meant their equipment was capable of plugging into the IBM channel). Similarly, investment banks' HR looks for a degree, and then safely hires those with the appropriate approved university credentials, even though that credential meant only that the "analyst" knew nothing more than how to parrot the notions fed to him like pablum to an infant.

Had I listened to Fidelity's advise, the recovery of my portfolio, to higher than what it was before the meltdown, could not have happened, and Fidelity's advise to steer clear of gold, recorded for my protection, would have no repercussions for them, only for me: I'd be destitute. They'd still be rich, their analysts retained, as they made money for the firm. That is their job. Making your portfolio perform well for you is not. That should be self-evident in a country proudly proclaiming that greed is all that matters, but somehow it escapes most investors, who quaintly believe investment firms have their customers' interests at heart.

Since I started being interested in gold, around 2002, because the goldbugs were the only financial analysts who weren't buying the Kool-Aid of "New Economy" nonsense, the price of the precious metal has quintupled...not in 2002, nor 2003, nor 2004, n0r 2005, but slowly and steadily, gaining each year, so had I listened to Roubini then:

"Maybe three or four years from now, yes. But not anytime soon."

His words would have been music to my ears. I had no intention of spending my savings for retirement sooner than "2/3 years from now" (well meaning then as "now"), so why should I care what roller coaster ride the Stock Market was going to gyrate through if I could be reasonably assured of 20-30% gains if I simply bought gold? Having had to listen to the exact same garbage spewed by the likes of Cramer throughout the 90's, only to witness friends in my industry (computers and networking, which includes telephony) lose everything, it was truly mind-boggling to me that the charlatans could use the exact same strategy and doublespeak to do it all over again, only on a much grander scale.

If Capitalism had proved its superiority over Communism, then exactly what were we doing developing a "New Economy"? The tacit admission is that Capitalism, without the competitive edge furnished by an alternative to its "Greed is good, and everyone trying to fuck over everyone else will magically make everyone better off" philosophy, is doomed to failure by its own absurd contradictions epitomized by Reagan's mentor, Margaret Thatcher's, denial that society exists, and only the individual matters, even as we send young men off to be killed, demanding they surrender their individual self-interest in the name of society.

So perhaps Roubinin's right and "all the gold bugs who say gold is going to go to $1,500, $2,000, are just speaking nonsense". But everyone's speaking nonsense. And since the turn of the millennium, when the Y2K bug was the nonsense du jour, the nonsense of the gold bugs has been, and continues to be, the most sensible nonsense in what has (predictably) turned out to be not a "Goldilocks" economy, but an "Alice in Wonderland" economy, sustainable only by constant warfare, continuous lies, and infinite economic expansion on a finite globe, all fueled by ever decreasing supplies of dirtier and more expensive fuels, driven by consumers being laid off in record numbers, with those keeping their jobs being paid less and working less hours, thrown out of their homes in unprecedented numbers, no prospects for job creation in either of the worlds' largest economies, being told to increase their savings and pay down their credit cards and making sure they spend more, all simultaneously. Even Lewis Carrol'd have trouble being more nonsensical than those expectations .

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Destruction of Credit in the Evil Empire of Debt

Education, like home-ownership, is now merely a method for tying people to their jobs. One would think that referring to employees not as Personnel, but as sub-human resources would enlighten them to the fact that, to HR, employees are just that, resources. And like other resources, there for Corporations to use up and throw on the slag heap. Since most people now know that promised pensions won't materialize and health benefits are a sham that will be exposed only at that moment when you need them the most, employers now look at level of debt to ensure that their workers are more akin to indentured servants, leaving them more exposed to employer abuses and threats, using the threatened loss of their jobs as extortion to force them into working unpaid overtime hours, giving up vacation and sick time, and always be on call, even when "time off" is granted.
Here in the country that determinedly set out to destroy an entire economic system, while clownishly referring to it as "The Evil Empire", even while simultaneously cheer-leading greed as the driving force behind our own (greed is one of the 7 deadly sins, making our empire, by our own definition, the truly Evil (and proud of it!) Empire). Yet millions of people have gone into debt to "educate" themselves, yet finish college and still don't have a clue, nor one iota of curiosity, as to even what the Fed is, never mind how it or the rest of the Capitalist structure functions.
This ignorance makes it possible for the Ayn Rand/Milton Friedman acolytes to change a partially harmful illusion about human nature into a totally noxious one. Then, as if to make sure that the illusion will bear every possible evil fruit, it invests this proudly vice-driven class with precisely that total monopoly of power which is bound to be destructive of workers' rights, which is what the rabid anti-communist right wanted in the first place. A mechanism was needed to keep those uppity workers in line, and a mountain of debt coupled with a dearth of alternative employment opportunities was just the thing to put them into a virtual strait-jacket.
That's all higher "education" gets you today, and the price we pay for allowing our educational institutions to turn into corporate centers for indoctrination, for which the hapless future greed-mongers are forced to pay for themselves.

Hahaahah: Let Friedom Wring (every cent of your future earnings into the profits of your future employers. Now that's American exceptionalism.)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Rape of Utopia

In the PBS special "The Rape of Europa", Directed by Richard Berge and Bonni Cohen, with Joan Allen, the systematic theft and relocation to Germany of trainloads of art from all over Europe is documented. During this documentary, they show many scenes of the aerial bombings of World War II and its effects on the Art of Europe. Especially on public art, something which, for an American, is quite shocking. Not that it was destroyed, but that it existed at all. To see Florence, and then to consider the sweltering abyss known as Houston, is to see that, luckily for us, our cities would have no worries about saving public works of art, as there simply aren't any.

Of course, there's various reasons why that not only is, but should be, so. For example, the magnificent Cathedrals were built while the peasants lived in crushing poverty, the Churches and upper classes extracting money from the impoverished to pay the artisans and craftsmen that put the knowledge of centuries to work to erect monuments to their faith, following the example of the Egyptians. The United States had a different idea of what to do with its wealth, for good or ill.

The same cannot be said for America, which, contrary to what the people of the United States think, is a vast land extending across two continents, with thousands of years of history, of which the United States is only one country. One country whose citizens actually believe that it is America, but it is only in America. Never having bothered to conceive of a name for itself, it settled for a definition, and ever since has usurped the name of the continent for itself.

But what "The Rape of Europa" inadvertently reminds us of is the rest of America. Because as the documentary wrings its hands for the lost, stolen and destroyed art of Europe, and stands aghast at the crimes of Hitler and the Third Reich, it never considers for a moment the fact that Hitler merely did to Europa what Europa did to the entire continents of North, but especially South, America. Inca and Mayan art wasn't just transported across the oceans to the marauding "civilizations" of the most barbaric of continents. It was melted down and destroyed to recapture the metal, the art itself considered worthless, having been wrought by the primitive hands of savages. For centuries the gold and silver artwork of an entire continent was confiscated and shipped to Europe, so its artists could make "real" art, art which we now can use to show how horrible Hitler was and ignore that he was not an aberration, but merely a continuation of the logical result of a christian culture's consideration that the habitat and endowment of the rest of the world was its own. Hitler merely applied the same hubris to Europe itself. A Europe that for centuries considered the White race as the Master race was now confronted with a Reich that merely applied that same philosophy to a narrower subset of that so-called White race.

An entire documentary was constructed and painstakingly filmed and researched, a documentary on art, no less, and nowhere is there even a glimmer of self-awareness that what happened to Europe was nothing more than what Europe had done, on a much larger scale (in fact they use that very concept ... the enormity of the scale of Nazi theft), to the entire globe.

Now, the United States, wrapping itself in the Uber-Capitalism doctrine espoused by Milton Friedman, carries out the same mission: subjugate the economies of the globe to produce the necessities and goo-gahs demanded by the citizens of US, all in the name of the dogma of "free enterprise", even while maintaining the largest nuclear arsenal on the globe at the disposal of that same Europa, should any sovereign nation have the temerity to believe that the wealth within its borders belongs to its citizens.

When we attack Iran, with the same nonchalance which we attacked and destroyed the national treasures of Iraq, there's little doubt that the great art of Persia will be nothing more than fodder for smart bombs, cruise missiles and the great US predators. But we won't call it rape. We'll call it Friedom.