Monday, July 18, 2011

Welcome To The New Captain Tammany H. Plutocrat Seawater Economy

I'm forced to dabble my finger in the turds of the media looking for kernels, just like everybody else. I'm a businessman and need to know what's what. I can only find out things by inference or by tough experience, though. No one that gets paid to talk about things knows anything. Even if they did, they can't write. Even if they could, they wouldn't write anything but propaganda.

But people can be observed, even at a distance, filtered through the septic tank of the media. I like people. Not 'people' in the aggregate. I like persons. The People is a lynch mob on a bad day. I'm a person, and I like other persons.

I especially like American persons. America is the most interesting place in the world because it's just the whole world in one place. We should abolish the United Nations because it's too narrow a slice of humanity, and just give America its own reality TV show instead.

So, person to person, I don't know about you, but I'm weary of being ruled -- not governed, mind you; governed is in the rear-view mirror, and fading -- ruled by a gaggle of metrosexual car salesmen, slovenly ward heelers, and soi-disant intellectuals that can't operate an apostrophe, never mind something substantial and commendable like a dry cleaners or a brothel.

Wait, never mind, I do know about you. I pay attention to you, the anonymous and the friend alike, because it it my business to know about you. I have to try to understand you well enough to get you to read my writing and put your porridge or your Perrier down on the tables I make. And I've never seen everyone as desperate and anxious as they are right now. I'm less anxious and desperate than your average citizen only because everything bad has already happened to me. You're right to worry, it's not fun. I lived as an almost-adult in the seventies, and that was pretty bad, but it's much worse now. The seventies came with its own anaesthetic. We succumbed utterly to malaise. We gave up. No use squirming in the electric chair, after all. Eventually they took the boot off our necks and we had a pretty good run. It's different now.

The economy is like a traffic jam and an accordion. Most traffic jams have no reason to be. There are lots of cars, humming along. Then someone gets nervous and taps the brakes. Even in a benign business climate, the commerce cars veer from lane to lane, lock up the brakes and exaggerate the effect of the first gentle tap on the pedal from the guy up ahead. The accordion is squeezed, and makes unpleasant noises. Of course they're unpleasant; it's an accordion. In a less benign business climate, the driver eating a hoagie and talking on the phone and the woman applying eyeliner while texting crash into each other and things get really bad, really fast. But eventually, if the wreckers and the ambulances sort things out, people get back to zooming along and giving each other the occasional finger. The accordion bellows out. I've lived through the accordion going in and out four or five times already.

We're way past that now. The traffic-jam-accordion is five years in the rear-view mirror. The cars didn't just tap the brakes and have a fender bender; they left the road and ran over the pedestrians and crashed into the houses and burned down the city. The ambulances were in the shop, the wreckers were up on blocks because their wheels were stolen, and after growing weary of having their four-hour lunches interrupted by the complaints from the people stranded on the highway, the government strafed the survivors instead of helping them. They followed up by napalming their cars, and sending out parking tickets for the burnt-out hulks to any survivors.

Welcome to the new Captain Tammany H. Plutocrat Seawater Economy. Climb aboard the Ship of State, a wholly owned subsidiary of Titanic, Inc, they said. But there isn't room for everyone on board, and most of us are cast adrift in a rowboat, and there's nothing but ocean in sight. We sailed until becalmed, rowed until our back gave out, and the map we were given said land was just over the horizon, but of course the horizon, by definition, is always on the horizon. The canteen we were given is dry, but has a Groupon for water in it. The ration cans are filled with nothing but dietary advice. Captain Plutocrat buzzes by from time to time on his cigarette boat, made from the finest flotsam of our lives dashed on the rocks he steered us to, and gives us advice. First it was: You don't need all your possessions; why not throw them overboard? Then throw the people you don't like overboard. Then the feeble. Eat the fat ones before they get skinny. Why not chuck the kids in the ocean, too? Finally, when we're all alone with nothing, he tells us to stop whining and drink seawater if we get thirsty.

Captain Plutocrat has detractors, of course, and their worldview is the opposite of his, but one can't help but notice they're on the deck of Captain Plutocrat's speedboat with him, and their advice if you're thirsty is to take the seawater rectally instead of orally. Then they bomb off and leave us there. 

We drink the seawater and it makes us crazy enough to drink seawater so we drink seawater, and there's no end to it. It's our own fault. We tapped the brakes, got in the rowboat; we listened.


BrettonPoint said...

Thankfully living in the fallen state of Mass, the Kennedys, Barney Frank, Gary Studds types have taken my gun. After reading the above I would have had to have shot myself or at least shot my computer. Better days are coming my friend. The slugs whores and witch doctors are on the run. I hope

Katherine van Schoonhoven said...

Oooh. Someone did not take his happy pill today!

Just kidding.

It's true. Things are bleak. If there's no land on the horizon, there's no hope, either.

Time to pull out a Monty Python film and sing along with "Always look on the bright side of life." I'll be sipping seawater.

Casey Klahn said...

This is a refreshing article. Except for the part where I'm pissed off.

I once had a guy describe his rectal seawater enema. I'm not kidding here, he really did get a seawater fisking, when he had to abandon ship in The Slot. A Japanese torpedo split his Cruiser in three.

My subject had survived Pearl Harbor to get to the highlight of his adventure. Anyway, he lasted 48 hours in the shark and dead body infested water. Then, he was picked up and eventually made it to my armory and gave me his lecture on the subject of survival. This was in the seventies when I heard his advice. It boils down to attitude.

I agree this is the worst recession I've lived through. The numbers put it right up there with or next to the Great Depression, which I didn't live through, but I saw the pictures.

Gagdad Bob said...

So cynical! With people like you in charge, we never would have forked over those trillions of dollars to the Good Intentions Paving Company.

Jewel said...

That toxic cocktail of sewage and sea water made a fantastic read, Sipp. I need a Coke Zero to get that awful taste out of my head, though.

JoeDaddy said...

We'll take King Putt down yet! I hain't taking no rectal seawater enema !

Teri said...

Not a bit cynical. If you don't believe me, try dealing with local or state bureaucrats sometime. If more folks watched the politicians on tv, instead of reality shows, they wouldn't be able to get away with so much.

Anonymous said...

Holy crap, I think there's smoke coming from my monitor!
THAT ladies and gents, is the written equivalent of Edvard Munch's masterpiece.


Jonah H. said...

I wrote my dissertation on The Christian Topography by Cosmas Indicopleustes. It's an obscure manuscript, a cosmology by a former merchant to India who was now a monk.

Anyway, aside from procuring me a worthless Ph.D. the read did provide a few interesting insights.

In the middle of it he makes an offhand comment that the Roman Empire, which was by then Christianized, would never fall. That God would allow Barbarians to chastise it from time to time but it would always stand. And he was speaking of the whole empire, not just the empire in the east that would later become the misnamed Byzantine Empire.

What's fascinating to me is that the end of the Roman is usually dated to either 410, the siege of Alaric, or to 476, the death of Romulus Augustulus.

Cosmas wrote this around 550.

In the midst of the collapse of the Roman Empire, no one really thought it would ever end. No one thought at the time that later historians would put the end of their civilization more than a hundred years before their day.

So my question is this.

Have we already passed the siege of Alaric, that point in our history all future historians will agree was the decisive turning point in our collapse, and we don't know it?

Bruce Hanify said...

Love it!

Linked it.

John Hinds said...

So the 2010 election was just death throes of the body politic?

Jonah H. gives a good insight by which metric it was all over a hundred years ago. I don't deny that. To my way of thinking the civil war set the pattern of diminution of state's rights. FDR and Woodrow Wilson provided further impetus and the welfare state's war on poverty coupled with the counter culture were nails in the coffin, so to speak.

Kevin said...

@Jonah H: Yes.

Claire Wolfe is known for her famous quotation, "America is at that awkward stage. It's too late to work within the system, but too early to shoot the bastards." She wrote that in 1999. By that time, it was already too late, I think.

Some people time the destruction of the US to the Civil War and Lincoln's excesses. I don't. I think it can be dated to start about the time Woodrow Wilson was elected, it accelerated with FDR's New Deal and his third election, and it became irreversible with Johnson's Great Society.

Claire's shooting should have started back about 1932, possibly in response to the massacre of the Bonus Marchers, when it might have done some good.

Phelps said...

There's an island called Texas just over there to your right. I know Captain Plutocrat keeps telling you that the rivers run fire here, and we're all cannibals, but if you notice, we're all fed, and one of your lifeboats lands here every couple of hours without anyone being eaten. (Never mind that ol' Cap stops by himself every few hours to refill the canteens and grab a taco or two.)

Anonymous said...

The Revolution Was

Daphne said...

Exactly, Sipp.

Historian said...

Re Jonah H:

There are any number of significant contributory factors to the societal collapse now looming in front of us. Ken Royce and L. Neil Smith both make a compelling case that this all started with the Federalist's Constitutional coup, but I think there are three things that inevitably doomed the USA.

1) the establishment of centrally controlled, state funded, mandatory public education, (AKA the Prussian system, or Progressive education) which got into high gear around the turn of the 20th century. This system was overtly designed to indoctrinate the young and to prevent the propagation of unwanted memes infiltrating from Eastern Europe. Our modern education system is designed to teach conformity and obedience, and it largely works as intended.

2) the establishment of the Federal Reserve Bank, the final and successful attempt to give control of the money supply to the ruling oligarchy, and thus to confer control of the economy to the Fed.

3) the amendment to allow personal income tax, which required a heretofore unheard-of intrusion into private affairs, and allowed enormous transfers of wealth to the government.

After those three events had occurred, we were doomed.

Tam said...

Jonah H.,

Knowing a bit about what was going on in the western tatters of Justinian's rump empire of ~550AD, your image is even less comforting than you intended.

Windy Wilson said...

I'm with Casey Klahn, this is the worst "recession" I can recall since I first started noticing such things in 1969 and there was that Wall Street Journal op ed piece that began, "Civilization as we know it is crumbling".
I didn't live through the [First]Great Depression, but I also saw the pictures, heard the stories, and saw the garage full of junk my father saved in preparation for the next one.

Oh, and "Good Intentions Paving Company" is priceless.

As for the Bonus Marchers, all they wanted was the 1945 lump sum payment to be made in 1933 when they needed it. Considering all the deficit spending from Roosevelt's version of Tarp and Bailout, why shouldn't a bunch of decrepit, deaf old soldiers get some too?

SippicanCottage said...

Hello Windy- Thanks for reading and commenting. I'm with Casey Klahn on a lot of things, myself.

Gagdad Bob is a veritable machine for a turn of phrase like that.

My grandfather was in the Bonus Army. Hoover was famous for not paying them, but Roosevelt refused to do so as well, and congress had to override his veto. My father told me that when his father got the money, my father ate his first meal ever in a restaurant, a meal he didn't have to share with his 7 brothers and sisters, a meal he remembered clearly 75 years later.

Are we living in the ruins of our empire? It's a good question. In my experience, something else happens. History is not a bulleted list. Salvation or perdition comes from unlikely places.

Everyone talks apocalypse 24/7 these days, but not that many are missing any meals or American Idol episodes. My essay was hardly sunny, but was as much a reminder to people who are fairly well off not to forget those that are under the treads of events now, not just tsking about them on the Intertunnel.

Like all people, I think it would be wise to look at what I do, more than what I say. I have moved to the edge of the map, and I make Ayn Rand look like Dale Carnegie at this point.

Thank you all for reading and commenting.