The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

The Depression and the future

Ok, everyone’s talking about the oncoming recession.  What it is is the second downleg of the depression we’ve been in since the financial crisis.

All of this has been baked in since 2009.  Since January 2009, when Barack Obama announced his stimulus, which was not just too small, but put together so badly that it was evident it would not kick the economy out of the doldrums.  The stimulus would be seen to fail (it doesn’t matter how many jobs it “saved” what matters if it created a good economy.)  Meanwhile Obama made it clear he had no intention of restructuring the economy, shutting down any of the major banks or of disrupting the paper for oil securitization game.

So, anyway, what’s happened since 2009 was baked into the cake.  What is happening is what anyone halfway competent should have expected to happen and that includes the massive wave of austerity in the developed world, the high commodity prices, and the continued liquidation of public assets to feed private greed.  If anything it’s slightly worse than I expected.  I would have hoped that some nation other than Iceland would prove to have enough guts to tell the vultures to fuck themselves, but apparently we’re all eunuchs or morons these days, and the Greeks still aren’t rioting amongst the mansions of the rich, I notice.  So who cares what they think, anyway?

I suppose it’s tiresome to keep saying “I told you so”.  Certainly I’m tired of it, but the point is that this could all be predicted, was all predicted (well, not all, I didn’t get the revolutions in Arab countries, though I know someone who did and the clues were there.)  Assume that what is happening is, essentially, what your lords and masters are at least ok with having happen.  If they weren’t, it wouldn’t be happening.  This isn’t a case of incompetence, they didn’t even try to make this stuff not happen.

The future you’ve got coming from you is a future of unconventional oil extraction: aka fracking.  The play is to get back to cheapish oil and make that run for as long as it can.  That is what WILL happen.  That is baked into the cake.  The only economy these people want to run is an petro economy. They will do whatever it takes to run one and continue to use their position in control of legacy capital to extract rent and tax the future.  There will be more controls on so-called intellectual property (a contradiction in terms if there ever was one).  There will be more security theater.  There will be more austerity, which means taking public assets and turning them into what appear to be revenue producing private assets.

This will go on until the last drop of cheapish conventional oil has been pumped and the last suburb built.  Americans, and apparently the developed world, will do whatever is required to see this happen.  They will kill whoever they have to kill.  That’s what the developed world is, now.  This is only compounded by stupidity like Germany going off nuclear without a clear plan of how to replace the energy.  Remember, boys and girls, yes, there is blood mixed in with that oil.  A lot of it.

This the future, the next goodish economy will come from unconventional extraction.  Not sure how long that will last.  It will come at great environmental and health costs, but Americans will give up anything to keep the petro-economy going, so, so be it.

What’s this gonna mean for you?  The good jobs are going to keep getting scarcer, and if you aren’t willing to do evil (work for any insurance company, anything defense related, most good paying education jobs, most good paying healthcare jobs, virtually all financial industry jobs, etc…) then they will essentially non-existent.  Real wages after real inflation will continue to trundle down.  Even inflation adjusted wages as measured by the BLS may show declines.  Employment WILL NOT recover in your lifetime if you are over 40.  That doesn’t mean there won’t be ups and down, but it won’t have a long sustained up.  Financial markets will continue to be a rigged game, and if you want to play, realize you need to play as if the game is rigged, not as if you’re in a free market.

Unless you can pay premium, the quality of everything you buy will continue to go downhill. Want a good burger?  Closing in on $8.  Want a shitty fastfood burger?  $2 or less.  Public transportation will get worse, more libraries will close.  The cops will make less calls and be less helpful.  The schools will be worse in most places and keep getting worse.  Eventually Medicare will be slashed to the bone, and so will SS.  Not necessarily destroyed, but so weakened they might as well be.

It’s gonna be a long 20 to 30 years folks.  Does this have to be the future?  In theory, no.  In practice, well, yes, apparently it does.


Moral Monster Test


Stephen Moss tells us the powerful do as they will and the weak can suck it up


  1. guest

    Speaking of killing people to get oil, don’t get too comfortable with Canada’s resource wealth. We will take it. We’ll pay for it, but Canada will provide it, environment be damned, or else. I’ve noticed a lot of TV ads here in the US about coal and oil. They always mention North American energy (not US), and they always talk as though it is ours for the taking.

  2. Ian Welsh

    I’ve long advocated that Canada should have the capability to destroy American cities in ways that can’t be stopped. Not because I want to, but because I understand America thinks everything Canadian is up for grabs by the nation on our border with the strongest army.

  3. ms_pym

    It’s the future that my teenage years reading Jack Womack prepared me for.

  4. Z


    What you predicted will PROBABLY be what will happen, but it’s not destined … it’s not hopeless. One thing that I believe is assumed in all your predictions is the continued servility of the u.s. subjects. I’m not one for u.s. exceptionalism … not at all … but if things keep going the way that they’re going, more and more people are going to realize that it is the system versus them … versus their life … and that they got nothing to lose by fighting against it in some way. Can their numbers and their rage have enough of an effect to break the alliances of the elite and cause them to fracture or retreat? I don’t know … but I think that these matters are less predictable than you do.

    If the system is allowed to stay in place and keeps progressing the way it is, it’s going to eat up tens of millions of u.s. subjects. That’s a lot of people to expect to accept that they deserve this to happen to them and not be able to figure out why it’s happening to them. And that’s a lot of turmoil for the system to absorb and still run as efficiently … and as insanely advantageous to our rulers … as it has.

    If the system changes for the better, it won’t be due to any great plutocratic conscience awakening, it will be due to the fact that it is not benefiting them any more.


  5. Morocco Bama

    Excellent. You picked my brain. My thoughts and sentiments, exactly.

    I’m still waiting for my brothers, sisters and friends to be significantly affected by this. To them, I’m a Alarmist and Cassandra…..a Party Pooper, but I know their time is coming. My time is here, because I have committed to starving this Beast proactively and preemptively, but their time is coming involuntarily. Right now, though, they’re all living like it’s 1999. I’ll keep you posted as a sort of anecdotal validation of the event timeline.

  6. Morocco Bama

    Face it, at the Elite level, the U.S. and Canada are one. Same with Mexico. Alberta, in 30 years, will be a toxic, barren wasteland. We think we’re so special, but when you get right down to it, collectively, we’re no smarter than the Reindeer on Easter Island. At least the Reindeer had the excuse of not knowing. Humanity can’t say the same. Hubristic ignorance is the Hallmark of Civilization….and its downfall. John Milton in The Devil’s Advocate said it well:

    These people, it’s no mystery where they come from. You sharpen the human appetite to the point where it can split atoms with its desire. You build egos the size of cathedrals. Fiber-optically connect the world to every eager impulse. Grease even the dullest dreams with these dollar-green gold-plated fantasies until every human becomes an aspiring emperor, becomes his own god. Where can you go from there? As we’re scrambling from one deal to the next, who’s got his eye on the planet? As the air thickens, the water sours, even bees’ honey takes on the metallic taste of radioactivity… and it just keeps coming, faster and faster. There’s no chance to think, to prepare; it’s buy futures, sell futures… when there is no future. We got a runaway train, boy. We got a billion Eddie Barzoons all jogging into the future. Every one of them is getting ready to fistfuck God’s ex-planet, lick their fingers clean, as they reach out toward their pristine, cybernetic keyboards to tote up their fucking billable hours. And then it hits home. You got to pay your own way, Eddie. It’s a little late in the game to buy out now. Your belly’s too full, your dick is sore, your eyes are bloodshot and you’re screaming for someone to help. But guess what — there’s no one there! You’re all alone, Eddie. You’re God’s special little creature. Maybe it’s true. Maybe God threw the dice once too often. Maybe He let us all down.

  7. More like 10 years than 30, I think. The demographics are shifting, women are going to continue to become more powerful, people now in their 20s are going to be coming into their own, and the financial angels of the US radical right are getting old. (The Koch brothers are in their 70s.) But the next 10 years promise to be hard. I expect the next two years will see the political collapse of the Tea Party Republicans. After that it will be the “centrist” coalition, which used to be the country club Republicans, in charge. It’s hard to imagine what 10 years of depression will do to people who are on the edge of adolescence right now, the people who come of age in 2020.

    There are some hopeful things, too. New manufacturing technologies. The global deployment of electronic communications. (It is estimated there are 5 billion cell phones in the world, now.) People rising out of poverty in India and China. An Arab Summer, if the revolutionaries make it. The knowledge that most of the suffering of a prolonged depression is unnecessary is new in history and will ultimately change the thinking of the developed world in ways that will probably be positive.

    There’s a lot to hope for, if you hominids make it through the next 10 years.

  8. Morocco Bama

    The Raven, your hopeful world presupposes unlimited resources, and it also ignores the unstoppable environmental wheels that are now in motion. How will the cell phones be used in this dystopian future? Call friends and family and tell them you’ve located a great mud cake bakery, or some sweet, pure cholera-infused water?

    The Arab Summer is a bunch of propaganda disseminated to make a purposeful changing of the guard look like revolution from below. A managed protest that serves as a well-needed reordering and also as an appeasement to the increasingly dispossessed.

  9. I expect that maintain a global cell phone network has a much, much, much lower environmental impact than a global air transportation network. Communications is a human need; do not underestimate the improvements in human life that can be achieved by addressing it.

    I see no indication that the Arab Spring is false. So far as I can tell, people are putting their lives on the line for freedom, without coercion. Why do you believe that it is false?

  10. David Kowalski

    The rich are always old. Last year I went through the Forbes list of billionaires and the median age was 65. It was time consuming but I think worth while. The only really young billionaires were three from Facebook. That’s it. Middle aged billionaires tended to be either people who inherited money or the chief assistants to hedge fund managers and stock market speculators.

    This prospers on lies. Lies from people who should know better. CPAs saying that taxes are the highest ever when top rates have hit levels not seen since the 1930s and overall taxes have been switched from corporations to payroll. A newspaper, was it the Washington Post, saying that Romney lied when he said things were worse under Obama than under W. Well, unemployment was 6.5% in November 2008 and housing equity was way higher and foreclosures way lower. Bush set up the mess bit the comment by Romney was actually accurate.

    Things have gotten better for the very rich and the corporates but not for the bottom 98%. These people are either galactically stupid or so selfish that in their eyes only they and their cronies matter. I’m betting on the later but their is some stupidity mixed in.

  11. David Kowalski

    It’s not obvious. The levels tax rates have hit are historic lows, particularly for the wealthy and incredibly so for corporations.

  12. Jack Olson

    Mr. Walsh, your March 2nd essay reported that the Fed tried to stimulate the economy with $4 trillion in new money. Yet, you say that that was not enough and indeed it hasn’t lowered our unemployment rate much if any. So, if $4 trillion wasn’t enough, how much would have been enough?

  13. nihil obstet

    If I understand the post correctly, it assumes that the current social fabric will degrade smoothly, a slide down a more or less steep hill. I tend to think we’re more likely to see a collapse, Soviet style if we’re lucky, Weimar Republic style if not. The social fabric is tearing, rather than wearing out.

    And for our oligarchs — Third world countries don’t produce much except raw materials for export. As the U.S. suppresses technical innovation to protect corporate monopolies, they’ll end up with nothing to profit from except military looting of other countries and nothing to sell except a mercenary military. I’m inclined to think that other members of the global oligarchy aren’t going to permit that for very long. That may open the door for internal change, as the increasingly mediocre elites fail to adapt.

  14. Morocco Bama

    So, if $4 trillion wasn’t enough, how much would have been enough?

    It depends on the the elastic limits of the Plutocracy’s stomach, because they will continue to fill themselves until they burst.

  15. alyosha

    @nihil – I expect a lot of bumps as the social fabric is rent apart, here, and now there, in ways that astonish the public – how could this happen in America?. Eventually it will become apparent to all that things have radically changed – at this point the country will be close to a psychological bottom where anything could happen. By that time, “American Exceptionalism” will be a complete and utter joke to everyone except the paid mouthpieces on the right, who will finally be out of anything new to say.

    The US has an abundance of certain natural resources, prized by outsiders – freshwater and farmland among them. And a growing population that will be happy to work at nearly any price. Others have mentioned this novel before, but Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower contains a side plot, where some foreign multinational buys up an American town and has jobs for everyone, plantation style. People rush to apply, even though it means serfdom.

  16. Morocco Bama

    Others have mentioned this novel before, but Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower contains a side plot, where some foreign multinational buys up an American town and has jobs for everyone, plantation style. People rush to apply, even though it means serfdom.

    It’s already happening. It’s called Bentonville. My brother just indentured himself and is in the process of moving there.

  17. This essay is also part of a second wave of essays I’ve seen: those that express fading hope. Everyone informed, I think, now realized what I wrote of just under a year ago: our government has returned to its habitual deadlock without doing anything to create jobs, resolve the housing crisis, or cleanse the corruption of the financial system. And this is one of several posts I have seen writing of it.

    At the turn of the year, we had a mood of hope. Now that is fading. I think we need to begin doing. I suppose the first step is to organize. Who will we choose to lead us, who to teach?

  18. Bruce Wilder

    Ian Welsh: “I’ve long advocated that Canada should have the capability to destroy American cities in ways that can’t be stopped.”

    What? You can’t rely on America doing it for you? Detroit. New Orleans. Akron. Las Vegas.

  19. Morocco Bama

    Fading hope is a positive sign, but I’m not seeing it. Hope is what keeps us attached to the current action-reaction merry-go-round that we can’t seem to disembark. Hope is not empowering, but, in fact, quite the opposite.

    In regards to the Arab Spring, review this article and tell me if you don’t see the all too typical pattern emerging.

    Egypt, struggling to consolidate a revolution that deposed President Hosni Mubarak in February, faces what could be even worse turmoil because the country is running out of food as well as the money to buy it.

    Food prices went up 10.7 percent in April compared to the same month in 2010, government statistics indicate.

    At the same time, Egypt’s annual urban inflation rate surged past 12 percent in April, underlining how key factors that triggered the popular uprising that forced Mubarak from office after 30 years remain in play…..

    This bleak assessment in Asia Times Online’s Spengler column was underlined by a warning from Ahmad al-Rakaibi, head of Egypt’s Holding Company for Food Industries, of “acute shortage in the production of food commodities manufactured locally as well as a decline in imports of many goods, especially poultry, meat and oil.”

    Egypt is reported to have only four months’ supply of wheat on hand and only one month’s supply of rice.

    According to Al-Ahram, Egypt’s leading daily, hoarding of rice by wholesalers has pushed prices up by 35 percent this year….

    Egypt’s foreign exchange reserves have fallen by $13 billion, or roughly one-third, in the first quarter of the year amid a flight of capital.

    The business elite who flourished under Mubarak and ran the economy for half a century are hustling their wealth to safer climes.

    Rising food prices is a global problem but the Middle East is particularly at high risk because of chronically high levels of unemployment and low incomes.

    Mushrooming populations are an added factor. Arab countries have among the highest population growth rates in the world….

    I wonder if there is some correlation to this latest maneuver and the potential neutralization of DSK? Remember when Tom Hagen wanted to help Michael and Michael said “you’re out, Tom?” Michael and his thugs were about to make some bold and brutal moves and Tom Hagen was too soft for the job. Not that DSK, or Tom Hagen, are angels by any means, but they don’t have that “edge” that’s needed in these trying times that call for bold moves.

  20. Morocco Bama

    What? You can’t rely on America doing it for you? Detroit. New Orleans. Akron. Las Vegas.

    We could make a theme song out of that….instead of Route 66, we could call it Route Deep Six.

  21. The Rock

    Mr Welsh, based on trends and current events, has accurately predicted the economic path this country, nay this world, is on. It can be averted because there is a solution out there. Fish rot from the head, so cut off the head. That said, in this case, the economic warriors that are the elite have come up with a plan to replace that head by convincing a stupid electorate whatever they deem necessary at the time with another idiot (see the current GOP field). Since this corrupt president and this corrupt Congress are just in line to be replaced by other corrupt individuals, we can’t be swayed by who they put in front of us. Asshats.

    Here is the solution. First, AS A NATION, we need to go to Hillary’s doorstep and COLLECTIVELY beg her to run again, and then open up our mouths to shout down anyone that would call her racist, or divisive, or whatever other stupid reason that people had in 08 not to elect her. None of the half-wits the media puts in front of us is even CAPABLE of doing the job. (See she is the only person that has been on the side of the people her entire career. She is the only person currently eligible to hold that highest office that will work for humanity rather than her own self interest. How ashamed should we as a nation be that she sets up program after program after program designed to uplift citizens and solidify our moral authority for people around the world rather than Americans?) Second, we let her, through legislation and policy initiatives, move the country back in the correct direction while allowing us to plainly see the members of Congress that are patently opposed to governing. Finally, we passionately act against the moronic dems and republicans by VOTING THEM OUT. They are as much a problem as Obumbles.

    That how the problem gets fixed. Tell your friends.

    Hillary 2012

  22. The Rock

    My bad on the spelling at the end. That should be That’s……

    Hillary 2012

  23. Everythings Jake

    @ Jack Olson

    4 Trillion was more than enough, if it had been used as actual stimulus to create jobs programs. But it wasn’t, it was given to insolvent banks to protect stockholders and instead of lending the money to create jobs, they used it to buy U.S. treasuries, inflate the commodities markets, and invest in non-U.S. emerging economies.

    Real stimulus would likely require far less. Here’s Randall Wray, Professor of Economics at UMKC arguing for a jobs program that would require an investment of around 300 billion.

    @ The Rock

    How is Hillary any different from Obama, really? There’s a hair’s breadth of difference between them if you examine their voting records in the Senate and read their policy positions. Set aside the fact that it would take something on the order of being caught in bed with underage white boys for Obama to lose the nomination (so Hillary 2012 is a delusional fantasy), if there were a path for the Clintons back to the White House, they are at the very center of center-right Democratic party politics. There is just NO solution to be found within the current “two-party” system.

  24. Everythings Jake

    Here’s the Randall Wray link:

  25. Coming here is like being in some super-secret global observation bunker. 🙂

    Keep it coming, Ian (and Morocco, et. al.)

  26. Hmmm. I was really only trying to close the italics tag with my last non-comment. Didn’t work.

  27. Morocco Bama

    Petro, same thing happened to me. I know I closed it……but it appears there’s a glitch in the software today that isn’t recognizing it.

  28. The Rock

    @Everythings Jake

    To say that there is little difference between Obumbles and Hillary is to demonstrate that we are in for many many more years of pain. Because for someone that frequents a site that demonstrably opposes the policies and actions of this president, who has reneged on more or less EVERY promise that he made to the electorate, and has shown himself to be a novice in terms of foreign policy, to equate him with someone who has shown herself to be EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE IN EVERY WAY, shows how powerful media suggestion is.

    Read the foreign press about how Hillary is viewed by the leaders in the foreign countries that she works with. Read about the programs, like MAMA, that she kicked off for women in 3rd world countries. Read about her statements in support of the LGBT community (‘It gets better’). Read the open letter from Saudi women looking for support for their ‘Women should be able to drive in muslim countries’ stand.

    If you see Obumbles and Hillary as politicians, nay PEOPLE, cut from similar cloth, then the media and the elites have won. We can all get ready for surfdom.

    Hillary 2012

    BTW – I am well aware that the likelyhood of Hillary running is slim at best. My signature is who I am voting for in ’12 regardless who is running.

  29. Morocco Bama

    Limbaugh wants Hillary to run, as well, so you two have that in common. Why would Limbaugh want that, and encourage the Dems who listen to his show, and there are more who do than you think, to get Hillary in the saddle?

    Here’s who I’m voting for in 2012….because I think it would do a better job than any of these bozos.

  30. “Fading hope is a positive sign, but I’m not seeing it.”

    What else is the blog post that started these comments? But also, read Krugman, Thoma, Delong, and John Cole. I find Delong and Cole especially striking: Delong is conservative, and Cole is one of Obama’s strongest supporters in the blogosphere.

    But that is only positive if we replace it with action.

    All due respect, I don’t trust the UPI article you cited. Nothing mentioned in the article is at all surprising, and some of it looks like pure right-wing propaganda. The aftermath of revolution is always hard; we will have to wait and see.

    I think it unlikely that the charges against DSK are anything but legitimate: he just got caught. Let us be glad we will not have a rapist in charge of the IMF.

  31. Tony Wikrent

    I have only one quibble.

    A good hamburger is NOT closing in on $8. More like $12 to $14.

  32. Celsius 233

    The Raven
    June 5, 2011
    Let us be glad we will not have a rapist in charge of the IMF.
    But isn’t that what the IMF is?

  33. Everythings Jake

    @ The Rock

    There are fundamental issues of economic justice and staggering inequality that none of the centrist Democratic politicians are going to address, ever.

    I care very little how Hillary is viewed by leaders (aka repressive dictators) in the Middle East or neoliberal politicians imposing savage austerity on their constituencies in Europe. How do the people view her? Well, in polling, not so favorably.

    Yes, I agree that fighting against gender inequality is indeed a worthy cause (and I guess we should all have an equal opportunity to pollute the planet with hydrocarbons until we it uninhabitable for human life), but it’s not one that really addresses the economic order or threatens the power elite who are raping the planet and the vast majority of its populations to satisfy their own greed.

    I would urge you to compare Hillary with someone like Cynthia McKinney (she’ll be my write-in vote). Even just on the issues you mention, Cynthia is far more outspoken (and was so even when she was in power). And Cynthia doesn’t fear to take on Wall Street and global corporations which Hillary would not dare to do.

  34. Morocco Bama

    “Let us be glad we will not have a rapist in charge of the IMF.”

    Well, of course, but that portends that another rapist won’t take his place, and I think that’s a bit naive. Afterall, that’s what the IMF does….rape…..but on a much grander scale….they rape whole countries/nations, and create an environment where violence against women is certain to occur because of their contractual conditions that create severe economic hardship for the Commoners.

    As Ian said, the Plutocrats are well aware of the consequences of all this. Either they made it happen, or, in the least, they are letting it happen. Many of the old-guard Arab dictatorships were, and are, increasingly out of touch and ineffective at controlling their respective populations. They were Cold War lackeys and the Cold War is long over….we’re in a new era that calls for a new kind of dictatorship. Wall Street speculators drive the price of commodities through the roof, and these antiquated Arab dictatorships suddenly have revolts on their hands, especially when you enable the bottom up via intelligence operations. After a revolt, which is not a revolution by definition, and what happened, and what is happening in Egypt is not a revolution by any means, you continue to apply the pressure by speculating enough to keep commodity prices at record levels…until they’re on the brink of starving, and then you send in the IMF with bridge loans…..that can only be repaid by privatizing everything that hasn’t been already.

    Arab Spring, my ass. What does Egypt have to offer the Plutocracy except its geographical proximity to Israel and a bulwark against the greater Arab world. Israel needs Egypt as part of its Iron Curtain, and Mubarak had to go….he was old, and if his departure wasn’t managed properly, or taken advantage of, an uncontrolled power vacuum would inculcate, and you can’t have that.

    However,assume what you are asserting is so, and the Che-like Revolutionaries in Egypt you envision, get their wish and take control of their Government, entirely and completely, what next? How do they feed themselves? What do they have to trade for what they need? As Ian mentioned, the easy oil is quickly running out, then it’s shale and tar sands until there is none left. Egypt is not that resource rich, certainly not enough to offer their population any kind of modern quality standard of living. Egypt has been subsidized, just as has Israel, by U.S. taxpayer dollars, otherwise they wouldn’t be much more than Bedouin communities…..which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and it may be to what they return considering their, and our, limited options in this brave new world into which we are rushing head first.

  35. The Rock

    @Everythings Jake

    Your response further illustrates the awesome power of suggestion that money and power can have over a population. Your response begins by attaching a political philosophy to someone that has demonstrated a more pragmatic approach to problem solving, ie what is in the best interest of the country as a whole (see her role in the demise of OBL, her actions immediately after the crises in both Haiti and Japan, her actions towards internet freedom worldwide, her handling of the Wikileaks case, etc). Each of these cases (and WAY more that we don’t hear about) demonstrate someone that see the facts at hand and acts on those facts. Period.

    Granted, I’m not to concerned how Assad or Mugabe views Hillary (and while I can’t prove it, I don’t think she does either) except to fear the power of the United States. I do recognize that we live in an interdependent world that is growing smaller by the minute as a result of technology. If our partners in the world cannot work with us, or worse yet, don’t respect us through our leadership, then more speeches like Bibi’s to Congress will continue to be made. That impacts not only our moral authority, but also our ability to maintain that number 1 economic status in the world (which truly is the biggest national security concern that we face). And I am not sure what international polling data you are citing. Here and around the world, she is viewed with high favorability. I can speak of Africa in particular, because I am from there.

    I cited her work with gender inequality because it is evidence that when she says that she believes in an issue or that she is going to work on an issue, she does it. You say that women’s rights is not an issue of economic consequence. Do you know that the majority of societies that oppress women don’t prosper (see Afghanistan, Rwanda, the Congo), and granted, these aren’t places that you care about, but they are good models for what the worst case scenarios would look like. You say she wouldn’t take on the big money players in this country forgetting that as first lady, she took on the healthcare industry. I would think that they are pretty big as their lobbiest wrote this nonsense health insurance crap.

    I have been a fan of Rep McKinney way back when she was in the House. I even donated to her re-election campaign to the House. I like her. I think she should be put in a very high ranking position as she is a soldier of truth. That said, she doesn’t have a tenth of the contacts, knowledge or abilities Hillary has gained in the many position that she has served in. I wonder how much more outspoken she would need to be when she was the first and highest ranking officer in this government to get behind the LGBT. She marched in gay rights parades as a member of the Senate. I don’t remember any other senator doing that (though I very well could be wrong).

    I am disheartened that you would equate Obumbles and Hillary in any way, and it reinforces the power that money has. It seems that the media’s efforts to disuade the populus from the truth is working. So then let’s all get ready for ALOT of pain.

    Hillary 2012

    BTW – If you want an example of the difference between Obumbles and Hillary in terms of economic policy, Youtube the interview the Maria Baritomo did with Hillary in ’08 during the campaign concerning the housing issue. It’s an eye opener…… 😉

  36. Notorious P.A.T.

    Oh yes, please, let’s get Hillary Clinton to save us from the right-wing assault. Hillary Clinton who sat down to make nice with right-wing lynchpin Richard Mellon Scaife because she thought it would advance her political career, who voted to give George W. Bush the authority to attack Iraq–and still doesn’t regret that vote, who promised to “annihilate” Iran if they didn’t do what America wanted, who as SecState has never, ever disagreed with Bush and Obama’s right-wing defense secretary. She’ll pull us back from the brink!

  37. Notorious P.A.T.

    “An increasing number of young Iraqi women and girls who fled Iraq during the turmoil are turning to prostitution in Syria”

    And it’s not just in Syria, either. That’s what Hillary Clinton has done for women. But I’m sure she’d be glad to help those Iraqi refugees purchase a nice woodburning stove to warm their dinner.

  38. Z

    The Rock,

    What exactly do you find so impressive about hillary clinton’s role in the demise of OBL, her actions immediately after the crises in both Haiti and Japan, her actions towards internet freedom worldwide, her handling of the Wikileaks case? And I don’t want to hear about empty words and bullshit speeches, I think we get enough of that nonsense from her boss. And what do you think of the obama administration’s handling of those issues? Becoz, she still works for him you know, through all the drone bombings of innocent civilians … women and children included … his torturing of Bradley Manning, his claims of the right to kill u.s. citizens on his all mighty whim, etc., etc.


  39. Ian Welsh

    I don’t think my post can really be characterized as fading hope, since I haven’t had much hope, period.

    Italics issue fixed.

    Jack: it’s not primarily about amount, it’s about restructuring the economy with the stimulus. Giving 4 trillion to banks to sit on to paper over holes in their balance sheets doesn’t change a damn thing.

  40. Ian Welsh

    Italics don’t seem to be closing properly, yeah, the tags were there. Blockquotes do seem to be working, so please use that tag for quoting for now.

  41. Everythings Jake

    @ The Rock

    In the end, you and I may respectfully disagree on Hillary, but you are actually attributing things to me that I did not say and do not think.

    Firstly, you seem to suggest that my thinking is in some way affected by the suggestion of power and money. Whose money and power? My views are informed greatly by reading Paul Street Glen Ford, Bruce Dixon, Amy Goodman, Chris Hedges, and Noam Chomsky. To my knowledge none of these individuals are particularly well-funded.

    I in every way agree that Hillary is extremely competent, but I find Obama no less so – I think he gets exactly what he wants. In both cases, I think they are servants of Wall Street and corporate power.

    I’m not certain what you think Hillary has done well in Haiti. For one thing, I think Haiti could do with much less interference from us – namely we should stop carrying out coups against democratically elected leaders like Aristide (who actually was following through on his promises to the historically long disenfranchised people). The last election there was a farce – fully rigged, of course, to produce an entirely anti-democratic outcome that served corporate powers in the U.S. and Canada. Where was Hillary on the issue of the basic right and freedoms due the Haitian people? By which I mean what she did versus what she may have said. I’m happy to be pointed to that evidence (or frankly even what she may have said against suppressing free elections), though I’ve looked hard and cannot find it.

    Assad and Mugabe are not what I mean by the people. They are dictators by and large supported by the U.S. The 2010 Arab Public Opinion Poll, here cited on the Brookings Institute website, is instructive on the people’s views (which often stand in direct contrast, on the issue of Iran for example, to the views of their leaders).

    It is wrong for you to say that I do not care about Afghanistan, Rwanda, the Congo. I am against the war and my political contributions and votes are largely shaped by that opposition. While time does not permit full-time activism on all fronts, I am actively against the privatization of resources, namely water and farmland, which I am given understand fuels much of the trouble and violence in Africa and I regularly “vote my dollars” (all be they meager) against corporations engaged in rabid exploitation of the continent. As to the Congo, my contribution is again limited, but, for example, I certainly have not treated myself to any conflict-mineral filled Apple products in several years, and in fact, other than my computer and the cell phone provided by my work, try to remain free of mass-market electronics (also in opposition to the death factory known as FoxConn).

    On healthcare. To me, that an industry hits back hard against something is not evidence that the proposed regulation is itself particularly revolutionary or worthy of support. Take as recent example, Wall Street’s continued attacks on the fairly weak Dodd-Frank regulatory bill. Of course, Wall Street wants to be completely free of regulation and so they whip up a hysterical reaction to the few meager provisions the bill provides). Despite the lies of “Harry and Louise”, Hillary’s proposal for managed care competition (insurance retains control) was very far from being the single-payer program most of the U.S. public supported even in 1992. It was instructive though – Hillary’s failures there led to her later competence (deference to corporate power) – when Obama was doing well in the campaign, she tacked to the left in an attempt to capture the disenfranchised working classes that Edwards fumbled away, but I don’t believe, given her senate voting record, that she would not have tacked back to center-right had she won an election.

    Maybe “pragmatism” will always lead to a Hillary Clinton rather than a Cynthia McKinney, but that’s a problem in and of itself. Maybe I am letting the perfect be an enemy of the good, but in my view, I don’t see much good in the better “realistic” choice we are constantly told we must accept – I think that’s leading us all down a very dark and doom-filled path.

  42. What’s happening for the many in the Developed World is a decoupling from the consumer economy of the past and an introduction to the near-subsistence economy of the Developing World. The political class has never had the slightest intention of reviving or restoring the consumer economy for the masses (of course the well off will continue and improve upon their consumption lifestyle – – at the expense of the many), something that was obvious from the start of the collapse.

    As the previous consumer economy evaporates, restructuring toward subsistence if not sustainability is guaranteed. This could be a reasonable transition, provided that there are appropriate restraints on the predator class, but there aren’t any to speak of, so it’s not going to be a reasonable transition. It’s ugly now, and it’s going to get uglier. The People’s power to affect what’s going on is strictly limited. The People don’t have the economic or political tools to have more than a marginal effect on the actions of the High and the Mighty, at least over the long term, and typically they have no effect at all in the short term (Iceland excepted.)

    There are and will be no jobs programs so long as predator capitalists believe wages and benefits (and now pensions) are too high. There will be no household debt relief programs so long as there are MOTU gambling debts to cover. There will be no infrastructure programs, no education programs, no expanded homeless service programs, no health care program expansion, and on and on and on.

    This is the New Normal in the Developed World that millions are already adapted to and millions more are joining them every year. Obviously nowhere in the Developed World is immune to this sort of globalist restructuring.

    You can call it a Depression, but it absolutely is not for those on top of the heap. It’s a shock and a change for the rest of us that we cannot control. For those on top, though, it’s just fine.

  43. Morocco Bama, the Arab Spring is occurring in Lybia, Syria, Bahrain, and Yemen as well as Egypt. and you don’t seem to know. Go visit Juan Cole’s site as a corrective.

    M.B.: Do not wish despair on people. The results are not likely to be positive.

    “I don’t think my post can really be characterized as fading hope, since I haven’t had much hope, period.” No, you haven’t. But you chose to write about it now, along with a number of other people. As an index of the attitude of the blogosphere, I think that’s significant. As to the broader public, I have only intuition as my guide.

  44. There’s been a lot of talk about depression lately as if something big has changed over the past week. Well, the only thing that’s changed is a couple of pundits openly using the D word mainly because the Fed’s QE program is ending and some of this talk is really about pushing the Fed to go to QE III. Fed stimulus has been helpful for the Wall Street crowd but hasn’t done jack for Average Joe other than fleece him at the pump and the grocery store. For Joe, the depression has been full on for quite sometime and for some, even prior to the 2008 collapse. The monied elite through their control of the political process is just grabbing all of the lifeboats and jumping ship while leaving the rest of us aboard. Serves us right for overdosing on Celebrity Apprentice while the politicians BS’d everyone with soundbites.

    If there’s one positive thing that will come out of this, it will be the great awakening of the people. Pain and the new reality will see to that. I definitely think a breakup of the US is in the realm of possibility just due to the uneven economic picture among the states. I can easily see the immigration debate shifting from worries about Mexico to those states in better economic positions restricting the influx of fellow Americans fleeing places like California, New Jersey, Michigan and Illinois.

    The key right now is where to physically place oneself and how to become self sustaining. For me, that means learning how to garden and store food. What will make the transition worst is that many people have their sights firmly affixed on the rear view mirror and assuming the recent past is the near-term future.

  45. anon2525

    this is a test:

    Italics don’t seem to be closing properly, yeah, the tags were there.

  46. Ian Welsh

    that tells you nothing without another comment.

  47. CMike

    @The Rock

    Chris Hedges writes:

    >>>>>[A]uthor and environmental activist Bill McKibben [says,] “We are no longer talking about a long, slow, gradual, linear warming, but something that is coming much more quickly and violently….Now what we are coming to realize is that the most important adaptation we can do is to stop putting carbon in the atmosphere. If we don’t, we are going to produce temperature rises so high that there is no adapting to them.”

    …The false promise of human adaptability to global warming is peddled by the polluters’ major front group, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which informed the Environmental Protection Agency that “populations can acclimatize to warmer climates via a range of behavioral, physiological, and technological adaptations.” This bizarre theory of adaptability has been embraced by the Obama administration as it prepares to exploit the natural resources in the Arctic.

    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced recently that melting of sea ice “will result in more shipping, fishing and tourism, and the possibility to develop newly accessible oil and gas reserves.” Now that’s something to look forward to….<<<<<

  48. madisolation

    @The Rock

    Hillary Clinton. You mean this Hillary Clinton?

    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced recently that melting of sea ice “will result in more shipping, fishing and tourism, and the possibility to develop newly accessible oil and gas reserves.”

    No, thank you.

  49. Lisa Simeone

    Stunning that anyone is suggesting Hillary Clinton as some kind of solution. You have got to be kidding. She’s just as war-mongering, hypocritical in her speechifying, and beholden to corporate America as Obama — or anybody else from the two major parties. Z already outlined some of her true-colors displays up-thread.

    As for hope, yeah, I have little; but at least I’ll go down fighting. Z and The Raven might be interested in this — I don’t think Morocco B will — but I said I’d post the link when we went public with the website, so here it is:

  50. Morocco Bama

    M.B.: Do not wish despair on people. The results are not likely to be positive.

    That’s a Strawman. I’m not wishing despair on any one. If despair is the result, then it will happen regardless of me. I’m just a mere observer and I commnet about my interpretation of my observations. Also, it’s not just Hope and Despair. That’s a false dichotomy, and it only serves to keep people hanging their hats on hope. Have you thought through hope…..what it really means….how it really plays out. Hope is wishful thinking that relies on forces out of the Hoper’s control to align in a way the Hoper wishes. It’s a cop-out, allowing the Hoper to relinquish his/her responsibility in taking the appropriate steps to bring about the desired outcomes.

    Most of the people you are referring to who are exhibiting fading hope believe that the very System that has created this mess will somehow provide a solution to this mess. It won’t, because it can’t. It’s not in its program. The System must be dismantled….disintegrated, and an entirely new way of interacting with one another and our environment must take its place if we, and most life on this planet, are to survive. Call it active Nihilism for lack of a better term. Either that happens voluntarily, or involuntarily. If it’s the former, we cab minimize some of the pain and point our evolution in a positive direction, but if it’s the former, and the odds are it will be, then the pain will be stark and there will be much gnashing of teeth, and our evolution from it, if there is any, will be, in all likelihood, pointed in a negative direction. Afterall, evolution isn’t automatically a positive thing, but rather an adaptive response to significant environmental catalysts.

    And Juan Cole, you have to be joking, right? I would never read that jackass. He’s part of the fabric of the straight jacket that keeps the illusion in place.

  51. Morocco Bama

    I don’t think Morocco B will

    What do you think it will accomplish? Petitioning this System to change itself, to provide a solution to itself, is insane, and a waste of time, just as having faith, and praying to God to make it alright is insane. It is an insane System. Read Vonnegut again if you believe otherwise.

    And no, Lisa, I’m not apathetic. Considering almost 60% of every Federal Income Tax dollar goes to the Military Industrial Complex, Lisa, how much tax did you pay in 2010? Are you willing to reduce your tax bill to zero and have the Government pay you instead, as a form of protest? That’s a real sacrifice….one where you couldn’t afford the fancy dresses and the plane trips across the country and the globe, but it would be much more effective, and much less hypocritical. Until you walk in their shoes……….

  52. Lisa Simeone

    What do you think it will accomplish? Petitioning this System to change itself, to provide a solution to itself, is insane, and a waste of time, just as having faith, and praying to God to make it alright is insane. It is an insane System.

    I agree. We aren’t petitioning this system. We want to change it. We want to get rid of it. And no, we can’t do it alone. We need tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, willing to do it with us.

    I don’t think you’re apathetic, MB. I think you’re pessimistic, as am I.

  53. Morocco Bama

    I’m a cynic, Lisa, not a pessimist. There’s a big difference. The pessimist says “why bother to do anything at all, it’s doomed to fail.” The cynic says “if you’re going to do something, make sure you do what’s most effective, otherwise you can make things worse, or you will just be wasting your time that could have been spent on more positive outcomes.”

  54. Lisa Simeone

    Funny, I would’ve defined them as exactly the opposite. I’ve always thought cynics don’t bother to try to change anything, whereas pessimists (who are really idealists deep down) use their pessimism to fuel anger and action.

  55. In any case, however we define our terms, I hope people will pledge to be there.

  56. someofparts

    I’m reading Keith Richards’ autobiography this week. It’s something light to give me a breather from Nixonland.

    Regarding their first tour of the States in the mid-60’s, Richards’ initial observations of America (even then), included the insight that American is only “civilized around the edges”, because the moment you are more than 50 miles outside of a big metro area, you find yourself in another century culturally.

    True then. True now.

  57. rumor

    Christ almighty, Ian, you have a knack for using reason and prose like a club and I do so appreciate it. I always feel like a drink afterward, though. And perhaps a cigarette.

  58. Bernard

    the idea of Hillary as different from Obama, other than skin color, is part of the problem in America. After watching her suck up to Richard Mellon Scaife, the man behind Whitewater and the Clinton Scandals, i can trully dismiss anyone who says Hillary is anything but part of the problem. Wishes vs. Reality

    the propaganda machine has worked very well, i dare say.

    Now reading that the FT. Worth wants to remove the word Public from their “public library” system cause it sounds “bad!” just about says it all. see Atrios.

    The comparison of the Weimar and Soviet systems is by far too optimistic. the Soviets had an underground/black market in play years before the Soviet system collapsed. America has nothing in place to even beging to offset the gasoline/elite controlled system.

    we are far past the Weimar version right now. Palin’s Revere quotes and the response from the “media” show how far down the rat hole, not rabbit hole, we have gone.

    whether the Americans respond before it’s too late is another good question. one thing is for sure, having your own source of food and water may be the only wise thing any of us can do.

    the system we have now is not going to exist when the Rich/Elite decide they’ve gotten enough. as i have always noted, the example of capitalism was and still isn’t sustainable in a limited resourced earth.

    the speed of the pollution in a closed system/earth and enormity of the climate change is proof enough of that.
    unless of course someone comes up with immediate responses,that the elites will control in any event.

    naivete is sweet to read from all the willfully ignorant, however it is still naive and ignorant. we are all in this together, folks.

    that’s what is not being said. that is “socialism”, and socialism is only for the Elite/Rich, not the rest of us.

  59. anon2525

    I suppose it’s tiresome to keep saying “I told you so”. Certainly I’m tired of it, but the point is that this could all be predicted, was all predicted (well, not all, I didn’t get the revolutions in Arab countries, though I know someone who did and the clues were there.)

    My suggestion is that it would be more convincing to provide examples that illustrate a pattern or demonstrate cause and effect.

    (One of the problems with “I told you so” is the “you.” Many “you’s” have not been “told” in that they knew it, and many of the “you’s” who did not know it are put off, and so end up not being told because they no longer are listening.)

  60. anon2525

    I would have hoped that some nation other than Iceland would prove to have enough guts to tell the vultures to fuck themselves, but apparently we’re all eunuchs or morons these days, and the Greeks still aren’t rioting amongst the mansions of the rich, I notice.

    As I replied to this recommended course of action for the Greeks and others (specifically, the Spanish), the problem with this recommendation is that the wealthy are not home (although I, too, would like to see some pressure applied to them). Who is home? The politicians. In the u.s., all representatives need to be made afraid to return to their districts because they would be met by angry crowds. This is feasible, but is not being done enough. When it was done (repubs returning to their districts after the “ryan plan” vote), it was effective. (Can’t get inside the building where the representative is speaking? Protest outside.)

  61. By the way, wonderful, thrilling — best 2-1/2 minutes you’ll spend:

    Gene Sharp documentary nears completion

  62. alyosha

    @Lisa – great video! I had never heard of Gene Sharp before. Bookmarked his works.

    @Bernard – thanks for your succinct comment that summarizes the situation well.

  63. David Kowalski

    It might be more effective for the Greeks to protest in front of the houses of the German and French bankers. That is the source of the problem more likely and the source of any let up.

  64. Ian, you under estimate Americans. We are rising up, the media is burying it, but you can follow it on local blogs, youtube, or my solidarity posts over at Corrente. It is mostly in the Great Lakes, but not just there. The thing is, when this kind of movement reaches a crescendo it happens all at once. I don’t know if by the big October Demonstration it will all come together, or it will be something else. My guess is that Obama will be reelected in 2012 but that 2016 will be a free for all, like that last Canadian election. I will be interested to see who Netroots Nation goes, I hope that Obama’s representative gets booed, but I suppose that is too much to hope for.

  65. anon2525

    It might be more effective for the Greeks to protest in front of the houses of the German and French bankers. That is the source of the problem more likely and the source of any let up.

    Recall that the political leadership of Iceland recommended that the population approve of the plan that the British and Dutch banks wanted. This plan was put up for a vote in a referendum and the population said no. In other words, even in Iceland the political leadership wanted to take the neoliberal path. Likewise, in Greece, the political leadership, so far, has gone along with what the German and French banks want. The political leadership will need the political cover that would come from a popular referendum in order to defy the German and French bankers. The population of Greece needs to convince their political leadership to put up any plan for a popular vote. (If the population of Greece votes for draconian cuts, then so be it.)

  66. Just a quick observation on the Cassandra Syndrome: it’s sort of a tautology, in that it’s self-defined. If one heeds a Cassandra, events don’t turn out in the way in which one had been warned, hence the validity of the warning remains open to debate and, presto! – no Cassandra.

    It is only when warnings are ignored that prescience has a sharper definition.

  67. An account of what’s going on in Greece:

    Athens sees its biggest gathering in years, more than 150,000 at Syntagma square as the build-up for the General Strike of June 15th begins

    A crowd whose size is difficult to even estimate gathered in central Athens to protest against the crisis and the Memorandum tonight. The call to a pan-european call of action saw more than 100,000 (some estimates give much higher numbers) flooding Syntagma square and many central nearby avenues. In contrast to previous gatherings, police presence was much higher, with fencing erected around the parliament building and double, or triple rows of riot police around it.

    The city is now building up for the General Strike of June 15th, which is also the next date of action announced at Syntagma square. Both mobilisations are aimed against the new agreement between the government and the troika (IMF/EU/ECB) which is planned to be voted at parliament on the morning of the 15th. The general assembly of Syntagma square has already called for a blocking of the parliament from the night of the 14th. In addition to the fencing installed around the parliament (see below), a police water canon has also appeared nearby.

    Similar demonstrations took place in Thessaloniki, Patras, Heraklion, Larisa, Volos, and many other Greek cities. In the Cretan city of Chania, fascists bearing arms appeared in the gathering, in a failed attempt to provoke the gathered crowd.

  68. anon2525

    A good hamburger is NOT closing in on $8. More like $12 to $14.

    Good. Beef is one of the least efficient and most fossil-fuel intensive methods of producing protein for human consumption. Plus, it is less healthy for humans to get their protein from beef than from many other more efficient sources. It will be good for all life on earth if fewer and fewer people eat it, or if those who do eat less of it.

  69. 1. On Sharp’s 198 Non-Violent Methods of Protest and Persuasion, see this continuing index:

    2. And on the hamburger, now we see my much-derided focus on gardening coming into focus. Eh?

  70. anon2525

    Lifted from a comment by economist Stephanie Kelton at nakedcapitalism today:

    In July 2009 — when the Democrats had the power to push through a more ambitious agenda, I posted a Twelve-Step Plan for Economic Recovery at

    It said:

    1. Admit that the real economy is powerless against a de-regulated and de-supervised financial system

    2. Recognize that the fiscal powers of the federal government can restore stability

    3. Ignore the debt-to-GDP ratio; allow it to drift to whatever value is consistent with an economic recovery and a return to high employment

    4. Enact a full payroll tax holiday by setting employer and employee FICA contributions to zero

    5. Provide $1,000 per resident to state governments to help them stabilize projected budget shortfalls

    6. Commit $2.5 trillion to restore our nation’s crumbling infrastructure and build a modern energy superhighway to facilitate expanded use of renewable energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and lessen our dependence on fossil fuels

    7. Downsize the financial system; reduce the size of banks to the point that they no longer pose systemic risk

    8. Ban the securitization of non-prime loans

    9. Determine the real worth of bank assets; instruct the U.S. Treasury to conduct a survey of the underlying loan tapes and require banks to aggressively mark-to-market

    10. Stabilize the housing market by creating a Home Owners’ Loan Corporation and bestow upon it a full range of powers, including renegotiation and rental-conversions, as deemed appropriate in each case

    11. Announce a job guarantee program (like the WPA) to provide employment and income to the millions of Americans who will not find jobs in the private sector even after the economy recovers

    12. Carry these messages to elected officials and urge them to practice these principles in all our affairs

    It’s too late for all of this. The crisis has been “wasted”. The payroll-tax holiday remains the most viable option on the list.

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