Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Stuff!

 
I miss George Carlin. No, this isn't a brain short-circuit moment---I do have plenty of those---but I'm going somewhere with this. You'll see.

Yesterday on Capitol Hill, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, told lawmakers that the “risk of a protracted slowdown” merited the introduction of new measures to help individual Americans gain access to credit. In Joe-the-Plumberspeak, basically Bernanke is thinking heavily of sending out another round of "stimulus checks." ("Cheques" for our Canadian readers). Mr. Bernanke, however, did not specify the size or scope of any plan.

From the effects of last spring's actions, I can safely say that, while I greatly appreciate "free money" from the soon-to-be Marxist/Communist/European Socialist government, I am extremely leery and pessimistic that this second round of band-aids will jump start the frozen credit market. Never mind Wall Street yesterday; the Fatcats-That-Be who control that whole racket are such knee-jerk reactionaries, they make Appollo's Chariot at Busch Gardens feel like a smoove, groovy ride in an El Dorado (does anyone drive Caddys anymore?).

A non-scientific, personal survey of (Joe Sixpack) friends and family who reveled in their newly-received cash infusion last May, indicated that none of the recipients actually paid down their debts or mortgage principal, but instead...bought more stuff. This went against widely-reported, disappointing results. The Treasury Department indicated that no positive movement had been seen in the economy as a result of the stimulus package because most people used the money (unwisely!) to pay for gas and food. But not the people I know. They did their patriotic bit. They got their flat screens, Wii or Playstation game systems, clothes, Ipods, Iphones. Stuff! This is exactly what the current administration banked on in its attempt to prevent the total economic collapse of the last couple of weeks: send the constituency money so it can trickle down the booty, thus resuscitating the retail sector. Some did that. But not enough. You see the Carlin tie-in now? Fine, here it is.

Yes, yes y'all; The Great American Way: when in trouble, spend more on Chinese-made shit and fuggetabout it. Everything is beautiful. And so, round 2: ding, ding.

The outgoing, lame-duck administration is under the gun to do more to help the economy. The Treasury Department, meanwhile, hopes to spur a new round of mergers among banks by steering some of the money in its $250 billion rescue package to banks that are willing to buy weaker rivals, according to government officials.

From the New York Times: While these efforts may provide some relief, the concern is that it may take time before they have a major impact on the economy. Loans are likely to remain scarce for many small businesses and consumers.

Credit is unlikely to flow freely soon, said Max Bublitz, chief strategist at SCM Advisors, an investment firm in San Francisco. “It’s going to be doled out in small pieces over the next few months,” he said.

Since the collapse of Lehman Brothers in mid-September, the credit markets entered a state of near paralysis, keeping many businesses and municipalities from obtaining financing.

For now, market watchers can celebrate that credit is being given out at all. Interest rates on common types of commercial paper — basically short-term I.O.U.s issued by businesses — fell to a four-month low. Joy!

But until we all get back on track, hell, I'll take another few hundred if they're doling it out. I am one hundred percent committed to do my bit for this country. There's a killer Macbook Pro I've had my eyes on for a year now. The hell with my fiscal responsibilities. Bring it, Ben!

5 comments:

momentofchoice said...

i'll be honest, the whole financial crisis and talk of the economy has bored me and so i've had a hard time paying attention to the details and commenting intelligently on the situation. i guess maybe when you're a resourceful person who's never had much money to begin with, it makes caring about the stock market hard. however, i do see how what i do affects others, and vice versa.

i understand that when people aren't buying stuff, businesses can't survive and people lose their jobs. what i don't understand is why people keep going into business making shit that people don't need, that harms the environment or harms people. especially now that we know it does!

i think once the world wakes up and realizes that there's a shitload of problems that need to be fixed, they'll see the opportunities for creating solutions (instead of crying that another manufacturing plant shut down)...which will keep a lot of people employed for a long time to come. how is that people are so limited in their thinking? don't people realize it's possible to do good things and make money at the same time?

throwing a few hundred bucks at the problem won't solve the problem. it will help people continue to 'get by' - there needs to be a wider understanding of how our decisions to date have messed up the planet and our health, and how people are actually contributing to the problem so that they can change behaviour and force a change in how business is done.

i know i contribute to the problems still every day by purchasing crap (because it's convenient and affordable) that hurts others but am working to understand the issues so that i can hopefully start to offer solutions. me not going to walmart will not inspire others to not go to walmart if that's all they can afford. i want government involved at a federal or state level to regulate production of harmful products and practices, and offer more incentive for people to change their behaviour at the corporate level...instead of exploiting ignorant and penniless consumers.

I WANT PEOPLE TO HAVE A CONSCIENCE. IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK?

ok i'll continue my neverending rant in my head. i just want everyone to know, i rant and feel like a hypocrite some days but i really am brainstorming ways to help make things better. i promise.

nice carlin clip. :)

carlindesciple said...

I need to buy a bigger house so that I can store all of "my stuff" man!! I can't live without more stuff! Wow, when does all of this chasing the carrot/keeping up with the Jone's end? I watched a news special on a woman who lives in Glen Arden Maryland who over the last 15 years became totally debt free. She framed the 100 credit cards she once used daily as a reminder to be ever vigilant over her finances. Her quote at the end of the piece was great, "No one ever explained that the one thing we didn't know about "The Jones'" who we're all desperately attempting to keep up...the Jones' are broke."

We used our "stimulus check" to wipe out a credit card balance last Spring. I'm officially against buying further cheap Chinese crap that I don't need, which in the end only stimulates China's economy and adds to our own spiraling debt.



George Carlin had it right, "When we're born, we're born into the freak show but if you're born in the USA you have a front row seat."

Deni said...

We try very hard to avoid buying Chinese made products, and it is a really hard thing to accomplish.

And it is not so much for the whole "trade deficit" reasons, but more for not wanting to support and validate slave labor conditions, environmental destruction and an overall horrible human rights policy.

carlindesciple said...

You're absolutely correct and I should have clarified that in my post. I also feel terrible contributing to the abhorrent treatment of Chinese workers every time I buy anything that has "Made In China" emblazoned on it.

I read an article this past week about a Chinese toy factory that was suddenly shut down by the Chinese government due in part to the economic downturn (or recession but I know they're doing everything not to use the terrible "R" word). I was stunned to learn that the workers not only worked at the factory but lived there and were provided meals there. Once the factory was closed the workers had no where to sleep, zero income and no means of eating.

That story has aided me in once again becoming more aware of what I buy and where I buy it. I agree that avoiding purchasing products from China is incredibly difficult.

the beige one said...

Like (S)wine, I'm in dire need of the Playstation 3 that's finally coming down in price...and a tattoo, and a pony.