Friday, March 20, 2009

Deep, Deep Kimchee

A couple of thoughts before I call it an evening, curl up with my Kindle, and engage in some true mind rot: a book about an ATF agent who infiltrates the Mongol outlaw motorcycle club. This is really a job that requires a major league set of cajones, and I suppose the Harley-borne criminals in leather and chains ought to have somebody watching them and building cases against these dudes for drug and gun-trafficking, rape, murder, and assorted other anti-social behaviors.

But the thought occurs to me that we the people should have had some kind of agent from some kind of bureau concerned with the general welfare wearing a wire in the plush dominions of Wall Street beginning, oh, sometime in the 1990s. Maybe they could have saved us before those greedy bastards pulled the temple down on all of us. And friends, we are now in the deepest kimchee you care to imagine. The more I learn about what's going on, the more convinced I become that we have no idea where we are headed--except that it is bad--and the bottom is not even in sight. Rumor has it now that because of the AIG middle-finger-in-the-face-of-all-America bonus, Congress is going to be most reluctant to pass any further stimulus packages . . . at least for a while. Particularly if they resemble bailout money. Not that stimulus or bailout would necessarily do any good--I've been checking: nobody seems to know how much it will take to "work"--but I hardly think doing nothing is a good way to approach this fiscal catastrophe. The Republicans are, of course, in a patented frenzy about fiscal responsibility, damn their two-faced, hypocritical souls.

Here's some more good news: The Congressional Budget Office says that the administration predictions on the budget deficit this year are too rosy. It's likely to be in the neighborhood of $1.8 trillion. I have to tell you that these kinds of numbers just make no sense to me at all. I mean that much money has to be a hallucination, right? What are they smoking up there in the CBO? Are the Mongols selling them some extra special stuff? How does anybody figure this out? Suppose the deficit turns out to be only $1.4 trillion. Is that better? A deficit of a trillion a year for the next three years . . . another of the CBO predictions. Suppose it turns out to be only $.8 trillion a year. Is that better?

Remember, brothers and sisters, that the president's idea of a solution is to get us back to where we were before all of this unpleasantness. That is, restoration of the hoary old American Dream: the economy "moving again." Cars coming off the assembly line, hammers on nails building all those new houses, shoppers shopping, coins clinking on the tables of the money changers. Except that everybody's going to have health care, and we'll be building solar farms and windmills like it's going out of style. I'm thankful to all the gods that John McCain is not the president, but pardon me for observing that a restoration of anything resembling rapacious, destructive capitalism, i.e., an economy moving again so we all can consume ourselves into a stupor, is not what I want for a solution. No. That's not where we want to go, not what I want for my kids and grandkids. But at least so far that's the only place Mr. Obama seems to want to take us. With luck, the true gravity of this situation will prompt some creative and by-God-bold solutions.
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