September 7, 2010 archive

Europe debt crisis: half-life of a bailout now only four months

  Europe is in trouble again.

Back in May the European Central Bank created a massive $1 Trillion bailout package for the countries on the fringe of Europe that were struggling with rising interest rates on their debts.

 Despite the enormous bailout package, interest rates for the PIIGS countries just hit new records today.

Irish and Portuguese government bonds fell, pushing the yields on 10-year securities to records versus benchmark German bunds, on concern European banks are vulnerable to losses on their holdings of so-called peripheral euro-region debt.

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Spain’s debt isn’t doing much better.  

 This is particularly depressing for Ireland since it has already enacted the draconian austerity measures that the financial markets demanded. In fact, all of the European nations in question have implemented austerity measures, and yet the financial markets continue to punish them.

Ireland and Portugal are the big losers for today, but Greece is still leading the pack towards self-destruction.

 “Greece is insolvent,” Bosomworth, Munich-based head of portfolio management at Pimco, which oversees the world’s largest bond fund, said in a telephone interview today. “I see it as being quite a substantial risk that Greece eventually defaults or restructures.”

 One Trillion dollars in bailouts and we are back where we started four months ago. Why is that?

  The answer is surprisingly simple.

The Morality of Liberalism

Its interesting, I’ve read so many odd things this week that meld together in this contraption that runs my physical being. Religion, Liberalism, Science. Open-mindedness.

I’ve seen sites co-opted in the past by people insisting our rage against the liars and the murderous bastards at the helm of this nation is illiberal… since good liberals don’t ever use language that might “dehumanize” another. You all know where I stand on that touchy-feely bullshit.

I’ve seen other blogs, in the name of free speech, let pedantic madmen, bullies or right-wingers set the tone, just by sheer screaming volume, since real liberals must allow everyone a turn at the podium. Right… lets let Dick Cheney frame the day!

I’ve heard people say we need to find a moral reasoning to support our stances. I’ve heard people say we are too connected to science, and not connected enough to faith.

So, in no particular order, I’m going to shit pearls of Liberal wisdoms, and what I think to be the obvious morality behind them.

Lets start with the oldest philosophical question of all about what “goodness” is, and how it is weighed in a society. The few vs the many? Kind of a no brainer. You learned it in kindergarten whether or not you studied any religion. Its called the Golden Rule.  

Open Horse


Green Medievalism

Among the many ironies that characterize our chaotic era is the likelihood that the green dreams of environmental reformers will be realized in the nightmarish context of a class war that separates mankind into two groups: the rich and politically powerful, who will preserve high standards of living; and the poor and politically weak, who will sink into polluted misery as resource depletion, climate change, and social unrest ruin their lives.

Nobody is more eager to go “off the grid” than the predatory elites. Once they have isolated their lily pads of comfort from the decaying infrastructure of the mass societies that they exploit, they will have a far more efficient and profitable model for aggrandizing their wealth. The wealthy fully anticipate a die-off of the world’s excess population, and they have zero interest in any kind of shared sacrifice that might save a few billion people at the expense of cuts in their living standards.

Thus, creating enclaves that are ecologically self-sufficient is a high priority for those who intend to be among the survivors of the coming ecological catastrophes. Where possible, the wealthy will provide their own power, water, food, and security directly, but where they must depend on outside entities, they will work relentlessly to secure preferential access, mainly by insisting that the resources be provided by private corporations. The reason the rich love free markets is that they can always be the high bidders. Markets allow the rich to legally secure scarce resources. This is why there has been a steady drive to privatize the control of vital services worldwide. For example, water supply, which was once almost entirely in the hands of governments, has been steadily privatized all over the world. When clean water is provided by a corporation, all it takes is a single price adjustment to turn it into a luxury available only to the wealthy.

There is no realistic possibility of an ordinary middle-class household going “off the grid” without enduring a sharp drop in living standards. But the wealthy can afford the scale of investment required to replace costly shared infrastructure, or to buy dwindling shared resources at top-bidder prices. Thus the green future envisioned by environmental reformers is likely to be realized by the wealthy and powerful, and not by the mass of humanity, who, having exceeded the carrying capacity of the planet, will die in misery outside the islands of comfort the rich have established in the green strongholds of their neo-medieval society.

Personal Inner Strength and Collective Action

I wrote a little diary on Friday urging people on the left towards what is often called self-realization or living in the now. I do that because, ironically, it is the basis of the warrior spirit. To be focused and centered and at one with the yourself with no-thought is an important component of the samurai code. To be effective politically this spirit needs to inhabit the culture of the left.

Without a solid basis for action both in the personal sense and in the philosophical sense nothing can get done and progressives are doomed to gnash their teeth at having no say in the politics of this country. So far, in this decade, the left has, other than a source of funds for Center-right politicians, disappeared from power. There’s a game being played but the left isn’t in that game. Why? Because few understand what power and politics really is. I’m not sure how it happened maybe its that so many on the left buy into the American Exceptionalism cult maybe it’s just the decline of courage that is a general trend in this society.  

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

An Opened Mind XIX

One never goes so far as when one doesn’t know where one is going.

– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

A Glint in the Eye


Prize not rare objects

So that the people shall not steal

–Tao te Ching, (tr. Lin Yutang)

You ask what you can give me

What I wish for is beyond

your power to give

I wish for the universal

for peace, harmony, understanding

for commonality of purpose

for empathy, sympathy, compassion

to fill every heart

For myself I wish only time

for the years until these exist

not simply as a list of wishes

and to keep my senses

so that I will see them

when they arrive

and hear them

when they have voice

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–December 12, 2005

Racing to the Bottom with Phony “Two-Party” Politics

If the Democratic Party stands for anything today, it stands for the remnants of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, and if a Democratic administration with majorities in both houses of Congress simultaneously attacks New Deal Programs like Social Security and Great Society programs like Food Stamps, then the Democratic Party stands for nothing, and even the name of it is just a noise.

And… surprise!

Obama and his playmates are simultaneously attacking food stamps and Social Security.

President Obama in August signed a $26 billion bill to save teaching jobs and pay for Medicare. It included a $12 billion – or 14 percent – reduction in food stamp funding scheduled to kick in during 2014.

This is at a time when more than 41,000,000 Americans depend on food stamps, an all-time record, and an increase of about 8,000,000 since last year.

And while Obama’s “Deficit Commission” continues with its formerly secret plan to cut Social Security benefits, you may very well wonder…

How the heck do the Democrats think they can win an election with out-of-control unemployment and a platform of gutting food stamps and Social Security, and the answer as always is…

Because the Republicans are worse!

And how the heck do the Republicans think they can win an election with their legacy of extremely unpopular wars and an economic meltdown?

Because the Democrats are worse!

This never-ending “bipartisan” scam is the push-me/pull-you engine of American politics.

The Republican platform of yesterday is the Democratic platform of today, and the Republican platform of today is a previously inconceivable further reversion toward the dog-eat-dog primitivism of 19th Century robber-barons and the miserable impoverishment of almost all of us.

Late Night Karaoke

Denial to Determination …

Acceptance of and understanding of Global Warming is an overwhelming action. Truly understanding what we (all of the US and all of us) face commands decisions about how one will interact with the globe from that moment on. Now, for better or worse, there are many (often illegitimate) reasons for skepticism about Global Warming. One of these is, quite clearly, an emotional desire to avoid having to face those decisions in the face. But, there is a path toward that decision point. For quite good reasons, that path is very close to that outlined by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross in Death and Denying for dealing with life’s tragedies.

  1. Denial,
  2. Skepticism (anger for dealing with grief)
  3. Delay (bargaining)
  4. Depression
  5. Determination and Activism (acceptance)

Chutes Not Ladders

Yes, my job was outsourced to Mexico via China.  I attempted to prolong my value to the company by trying to diamond machine prototype innovative energy saving ceramic parts using a cheap Chinese imported lathe which of course was permanently off center.  Anyway.

I looking back searching for some lower position of relative importance, ie, a job I was excellent at having 22 years behind me doing what I did there are corporate obstacles in the way.  Most of these “obsolete” jobs are either contract short term when they formerly were core paths to advancement from within.  Contract works pays benefits not.  The “agencies” doing the contract hiring speak English as a second language and might be located ten states away on top of the secret resume parsing/data mining auto-reject features based upon my age/my name on the AE911 truth petition/a minor traffic accident last year and or my avoidance of the medical surveillance system.

I don’t have the heart nor the stomach for scamming people via the mis-using the internet, I make stuff, build stuff.  I am innovative, go beyond the mundane requirements of going through the motions and can recognize the atomic emission spectra of many contaminating species in five nines semi-conductor grade argon.  I am not ugly.  I don’t smell bad and I would actually show up on a regular basis.  My real unmarketability I guess lies in the years of experience I do have and that dangerous potential to pass that wisdom on to co-workers.  That former work ethic, that path towards innovative and not compliance type thinking, that Edward Tufte why Microshit sucks type of stuff.…