David Kline

If you're still fortunate enough to host a dinner party, topics to avoid, in addition to religion and politics, now include economics and the weather.  It's hard to tell which is what.  Voo doo economics comes to mind, for example, or the notion that we've gone from talking about the weather to changing it.

A weather disturbance can be capped off with a tactful reminder that weather conforms to physics, not politics.  An economic blowout, however, requires a dispersant, herewith provided, which won't save your dinner but may momentarily distract everyone.

My sister recently emailed the following link under the subject line, "We are screwed any way you look at it!"

Mr. George Melloan, deputy editor of the Wall Street Journal and author of "The Great Money Binge:  Spending Our Way to Socialism," says some asset managers and economists believe the U.S. is facing deflation.  But he disagrees.   No, inflation is a more serious danger.  Our budget deficit drags down the dollar's international purchasing power, and errors by the deflationists mask an actual rise in the CPI.  But since there is so much uncertainty now, the money recently printed up by the Feds is not flying off the shelf.  No spending, no economic growth, inflation, why it's like in the 70s when we had stagflation.  Keynesian nostrums are again the ailment, so cure it with tight money.  Cut taxes.  Deregulate again.  Cut nondefense spending.  It worked in the 80s and it will now.

Sis, Boom, Bah!

But what about the pall of uncertainty?

It's time to pay the piper.  We've all called the tune, our national anthem, "In Greed We Trust." 

The business of America is business.  Corporations are the quintessential personification of our theme.  In fact, the corporate orchestra is led by an invisible King, a fictional "person" created by our legal system.  This "person" enjoys constitutional rights and protections originally established for natural persons, but the King is immortal and wields wealth far beyond the means of any individual.  This King has but one legal purpose, to create wealth for investors.  All other concerns fall by the wayside, becoming externalized costs which wreak havoc, overpopulation, disease, and gross environmental harm such as the climate disaster.

We have been persuaded to think that the economic benefits in the near term, such as refrigerators, cars, TVs, full employment (if the underclass is ignored), and the American Dream (again ignoring reality) outweigh the obvious harm.  Not to worry, the free market (think turf war), technology and more of the same will eventually fix it, probably bringing even greater benefits as yet unimaginable, on out into the shining future of all humanity.  Again ignoring one inconvenient reality:  Our system of greed-benefits-all requires the reinvestment of ever larger capital sums in order to produce further profits to satisfy investors to keep it all going.  This results in ever larger projects which subsume more and more of our natural resources.  Even a pig is intelligent enough to foresee that this process will meet a natural end when no more resources are available.

We are now near the natural end of our system.  Those who have profited most are loathe to reconsider our system, which has been copied all over the world.  Most are true believers in The Fix, if not The Dream.  The scientists, they think, will have to be kept on a short leash and their cries muffled until The Fix is in.  (And behind the scenes they all agree on The Real Fix, for now -- keep those profits rolling in.)  But no amount of economic tinkering, Keynesian or otherwise, will prevent the inevitable.  Raise or lower the interest rate; print more or less money; pay the people who robbed us to stay in business so the system won't collapse; end the war in Iraq; disable Social Security; nuke the terrorists before they nuke us; end Medicare; encourage assisted suicide; promote homosexuality; lower taxes for the wealthy, or for the middle class, or pump money into the pockets of the unemployed; regulate lobbyists or let them go about their business (the business of America) unimpeded; nationalize the banks or give them money or get out of their way; have a cup of coffee at Starbucks.  The ant hill is definitely in disarray.

We either wake up or die in our sleep.  Hope you enjoy your dinner.