The long list of long lists of predictions for the New Year are coming out, as they do every year. The Collapseniks, and the bulls and bears and the splitting hares, the see-sawing currency Wars and the homelessness of Santa Claus as he vies with polar bears for the shrinking geography of the Icy North Pole. Seeing however, as the centennial of the Great War made no great splash (Although some seem to have taken notice, as Ambose Evans-Pritchard started his column today with the sentence: "There is a whiff of 1914 to the latest Balkan showdown"), despite the promise of the Russia Ukraine Syria ISIS/ISIL/Daesh Libya, Yemen Somalia debacle of setting off a tinderbox of overly-armed nations all asking themselves the Madeleine Albright question, "What's the use of all this military might you're always talking about (and we're always taxed to pay for) if we can never use it"?, it's not completely impossible that it has indeed already started, just quietly enough that no one took notice.
I've sometimes conjectured as to whether that was the plan all along to, limit climate-changing burning of fossil fuel by eliminating those most responsible for it: the Middle classes of the OECD nations who complain about it the most while actually doing nothing in their own personal behavior to mitigate it (on the contrary, all this euphemistically-referred to process of "money-printing being indulged in by all of the above-mentioned nations is akin to stoking the furnace of CO2-production to ever-accelerating new highs ... by design, if not intention).
That leads me to ponder what I had forgotten about the burgeoning human population of the 20'th century. To wit, the so-called Great War that mowed down an unprecedented number of humans and buried them in the muck, which was quickly followed by a flu epidemic that killed off what amounted to an even greater number, totaling between them 35 million souls, a number to be more or less doubled in the next conflagration otherwise referred to as WW2, leaves a century during which a billion lives were extinguished for no discernible reason. Which century, that same century, saw the human population blossom like algae on a polluted lake, choking off more and more of the planet's life-affirming natural places and their inhabitants, and leaving a planet overburdened with the energy-intensive, oxygen-depleting and CO2-creating creature we call Man, to the tune of 7 billion current inhabitants.
So that kind of gives a whole new sobering perspective to the capitalists mantra of creative destruction. And it sorely tests my theory that said capitalists, in the guise of Neo-liberal and Neo-Conservative economists, having displaced the Keynesianism of their predecessors, argue ad nauseum about how dumb Keynesians are or how stupid Austrian economics is, or, like 19'th century philosophers dreaming of return to the times of the noble savage, insist that if only we went back on the gold standard, everything would be fixed and classical economics could be honest again, engineered the Financial crisis in order to slowdown global warming, since the only thing that would stop the accelerating growth in the burning of fossil fuels would be a global depression.
This latter is akin to the manner in which the Bernie Sanders of the world keep insisting if only we would re-instate the wall between investment banking and commercial banking, built by the Glass-Steagal Act, that Neo-Liberal Bill Clinton, together with his congressional Neo-Con ally Phil Gramm swept out of Wall Street's way, that things would be fixed. But it can not now be magically re-created, neither can the chimera of a gold standard be re-instituted by some monetary wave of a wand. The fact that these barricades to the use of funny money have been atomized, providing living proof of Gresham's Law, doesn't seem to have sunk in yet, yet another symptom of the refusal to acknowledge the way in which the entire landscape of the financial world has been irrevocably changed by the computerization of the currency and the entire monetary system in which money is created, dispensed, and spent.
The wall was dispensed of because there were already so many holes in it it had become embarrassing, and the rehypothecation of everything under the sun makes a gold standard just as much of a farce, as the story of China's iron ore supplies, on which massive amounts of debt were leveraged, should make clear. Whether it's gold or iron ore, it is a store of value, but when the keepers of the underlying security are thieves, con artists, embezzlers and State-bureaucracy stooges, it doesn't matter what metal, shiny or dull, you have based the monetary system on, it is always ultimately based on confidence and trust, or, as now, unassailable military might that its possessors have no compunction about using to sustain their privilege while abasing your life to pay for it.
And the tool that's been the most effective in waging this War Against the Dollar is, as I pointed out in my last post, the Computer, in its conspiratorial configuration as the internet. In which, "Yea, Sun (as in Microsystems), moon (as in satellites), and stars (hierarchical topology of most intranets on the internet) were all in the conspiracy to lie to us of the loveliness of the world and the good intentions of life." And we, for the most part, have swallowed whole the stated lie that the information superhighway was built with just that, good intentions. Yet, even were that so, that is what purportedly also what can be used to build the road to hell. But no worries, one of the things most conspicuously missing when Darpanet engineers were constructing the internet were good intentions, and the loveliness of the world was not something in which they had either belief or interest.
What is the economic system, therefore, supposed to do? What are a nations' responsibility, not to its most prosperous citizens, who are practically not citizens at all, but over-stuffed pariahs, ready to flee the country at a moments' notice, carting with them as much of the country's wealth, which they always consider their own, with them, but to its least prosperous? Are they, as conservatives believe, the pariahs instead? As I walk one mere block away from San Francisco's glittering Union Square in the midst of what Ambrose claimed is a US booming economy, and see block after block of desperate dirty people in filthy rags lying about and begging or just curled up in rank sleeping bundles, it's hard to swallow that these homeless helpless people are pariahs.
There's something in the air
And I think it's despair,
Without a whimper or a sound
they lie scattered on the ground.
The Flotsam and jetsam of civilization
Human debris of our uncivil nation.
Is this really the way it's destined to be?
'Cause the "exceptionalism" here isn't clear to me,
And that's why I can't shake this feeling of doom.
In the USA, there was supposed to be room
For the poor, the wretched, the huddled masses,
But to give them hope, not to grind them like glass is.