Thursday, February 18, 2010

Spreading Some Cheer

After the crap-tastic day of bitchy New England assholes, two closely-related articles from last night's reading just seem to fit right in. But before getting to those, I've had an epiphany of a sorts; while I enjoy doing taxes for a living and wouldn't mind in the least getting back into it full-time, I will have to be literally starving before I ever work for a tax prep place that offers the so-called bank products (ie. Refund Anticipation Loans). Those products attract too many people living through self-inflicted tragedy, many looking everywhere but in a mirror for the cause of their problems. I'm not a mental health worker or substance abuse counselor or a source of gas money (yes, actual example; gods help us) when money refuses to rain from heaven just because you demand it. From the other side, we're talking about a multi-billion dollar industry based on exploiting people who are either in retched circumstances, are too stupid to know they are being fleeced, or, more typically, both. In other words, I find a large part of what I do for a living to be morally reprehensible. I'll stick it out until April 15th (unless Boss Man reads my blog; I can always hope), but never again.

On to those cheery bits from the intertubes.

The first is by another one of those guys that makes me look like a flamboyant optimist:
We will get you the solutions you need to invest successfully in the short-term. But first, you're going to sit through 10 more reality checks exposing Wall Street's dark conspiracy to control the American mind, your money and world markets. This is what I see, a steady stream of warnings that also reveals why most investors focus mainly on short-term "solutions," why you tune out long-term "solutions," and why the Debt-Bomb Explosion moves inexorably closer.

That's in the second paragraph. It doesn't get any cheerier. After giving ten reasons to believe we are well and truly screwed, he continues with ten investment strategies, but not before giving this preamble:
If you insist on short-term trading -- something guys like Bogle, Buffett, Ellis and others call a "loser's game" because of huge fees and commissions Wall Street skims off the top of our returns -- these 10 rules add a measure of caution counterbalancing the endless, reckless hype coming from Wall Street's Fat-Cat Bankers pushing a 2010 recovery....

Which is followed by ten stock tips you will never get from CNBC's Mad Money. He wraps it up with a conclusion only a true pessimist could love:
OK, there you have the 10 short-term "solutions" you want. Will they help? Unlikely in the long run. Why? Because in the final analysis, all investing strategies, short or long, have nothing to do with market fundamentals, nor trading systems, nor the economy. Nothing.

Investing in the 21st century is totally dependent on America's dysfunctional political system, which is adrift in a fog bank of treacherous icebergs. America has lost its moral compass. We're guided by narrow-minded politicians manipulated by Wall Street's greedy casino bosses addicted to short-term "solutions."

Wall Street's dark conspiracy is destroying capitalism, taking down democracy with it ... nobody sees past the end of their noses ... the blind are leading the blind ... while everybody pretends that short-term strategies are the "solution" to the long-term "Debt-Bomb" that just keeps tick, tick, ticking ... silently counting down till the Doomsday Clock hits "Zero Hour" ... then explodes.

Closely related, although not quite as dark, there is an important reminder from John Greer; namely that the normal condition of humanity through time has been more like Haiti, rather than the US:
There’s nothing all that remarkable about the future ahead of us; it’s simply that the unparalleled abundance that our civilization bought by burning through half a billion years of stored sunlight in three short centuries has left most people in the industrial world clueless about the basic realities of human life in more ordinary times....

Even after two billion years of evolutionary improvements, photosynthesis only converts about one percent of the solar energy falling on leaves into chemical energy that can be used for other purposes, and that only when other requirements – water, soil nutrients, and so on – are also on hand. Other than a little extra from wind and running water, that trickle of energy from photosynthesis is what a nonindustrial society has to work with; that’s what fuels the sum total of human and animal muscle that works the fields, digs the mines, wields the tools of every craft, and does everything else that produces wealth. This, in turn, is why most people in nonindustrial societies have so little; the available energy supply, and the other resources that can be extracted and used with that energy, are too limited to provide any more.

Greer outlines a possible solution based on Schumacher, so the essay ends on a somewhat happy note; the problem is that the solution looks more like the 19th century rather than 21st century. I have family memory of homesteading in the 19th century and it ain't Little House on the Prairie. The Dark Horse was a very real presence.

I think I've spread enough joy for one day.


Unknown said...

Well, that has got to be one of the most unique opening sentences for a blog post I have ever read...

Ric said...

We have unique clients....