Sunday, August 29, 2010

Okay, I'm Convinced

I'm currently suffering a summer cold. It's at that stage where the muscles ache, the throat scratches, the sneezing and coughing produce an alarming sheet-metal rattling in the lungs, and the headache in my eyes makes it hurt to look at things. So... my misery is your misery. Aren't I the nice one. Ready?

We are in a Depression.

"Duh!", you may say, or "WTF you talkin' 'bout?", but let me explain.

I'm no economist, but my understanding is there is no rigorous, precise economic definition of what a depression is. There are definitions for recession, and so the prefered phrase for the latest national large-load-found-in-seat-of-pants is The Great Recession. Nah. We are way beyond that. We have moved beyond the Reagan recessions of '81-'82, the worst recession of '73-'75. In both those recessions, the job numbers bounced back eventually (though it took years), But this time out, those millions of jobs that were lost, they ain't coming back.

(I can almost hear VP Biden right now, "What the fuck, Kurman? Why do have to be such a smartass?" Actually, VP Biden, I would think you'd be happy to hear that things were far worse all along. It gives you and President Spock, who is so puzzled by the illogic of us humans, some wiggle room, but regardless...)

We are in a Depression. We have two examples of what depression is like. You have the Great Depressionof the 30s, which everyone knows about. And you have the Long Depression of the 1870s. History does not repeat itself, and, in fact, it does not even rhyme. But if we want comparisons, this current depression is more like the Long Depression.

Have I got a name for it? I'll give you two. The Hidden Depression, and the Lost Empire Depression. Why these names? Because I feel we've been in a depression since 2002. The recent kerfuffle was an inevitable seizure of our national disease. You'll notice the common theme, which is any job growth over the past decade hasn't been real (kind of like the Reagan Recovery, and I'll explain, you'll see). GDP growth and job creation since 2002 has, once you take out health/education/military government expansion fueled through deficit spending, been zero. In fact, private sector (non health/ed/mil) growth has actually shrunk. Oh, sure, there were gains in 2005-2007, but they have all been more than wiped out. So, GDP growth, once you take fake Debt driven jobs out, especially the military defense ones, has been in the negative for the past decade. It's not just me, going with my highly unscientific and amateurish observations about the economy, there are others that have dug deeper on this.

So, I got good news and bad news about this. Since you're Americans, I'll give you the bad news first. We can take it. right?

No, actually, I'll give you the good news, which will take less time. The good news is, we are probably more than halfway through the depression. If I am correct, and it started after the Tech Bubble burst of 2001-2002, then we've got perhaps four or five more years of this shit. Maybe less, if something good comes out of Left Field.

What's the bad news? We've got at least four or five years of this shit left, and it might get much, much, much, much worse. (Notice I'm checking my track record? I said the BP spill would last til Xmas. I'm completely wrong. The well will soon be plugged (HA!), but the damage will go well beyond Xmas). It might get much, much, much, much worse because, if I'm right, and any job creation we've had is through Debt driven government spending, then watch come next January 2011.

Why? Well, the Teatards will be in power. John Boehner will be Speaker of the House. The motley collection of flipper-limbed dipshits that will occupy Congress do not have a clue as to how to get all those jobs back. But they will follow their Contract Out On America, and cut budgets, crank up the supply-side tax policies, eliminate regulatory agencies in favor of free market reforms. There will undoubtedly be a stock market rally, which basically will amount to a sugar high. But this rally will do shit as regards bringing jobs back. It will funnel more fake money into the pockets of the rich, and the fake money will be converted into real money as America continues to eat its seed corn by slowing killing off the middle class, burdening it with more debt both public and private. In fact, my prediction is that Republicans will do what they've always done, and make a bad situation even worse.

Now, that's bad, because they still haven't touched the real debt problem. You got two choices. Cut social services, or you cut the military spending. Oh, they'll cut social services for sure. If they cut military, they pop the Defense Bubble, and that would produce more good news and bad news. They ain't gonna do that.

So, ah, looking forward to 2020, at least!