BEEN THERE, DONE THAT

Podcast 1/17/14 BEEN THERE, DONE THAT

What do you do when your secret midnight fears are being discussed on national television, radio, and in newspapers and you seem to have no control over these nightmares?

Not being smarter or really that much better informed than anyone else in the country, we begin to get a little nervous about the future of the country.

There seem to be too many moments of déjà vu in our daily lives. And we don’t want to repeat the old chestnut about those who cannot remember the past are condemned therefore to repeat it.

But, folks, it begins to look as though that’s what we have to do.

From too many quarters, from too many people, from too many commentators and wise men are coming the beginnings of recognition that life in January 2014 resembles too much other periods in our recent national history to ignore.

For example, remember the term “irrational exuberance,” uttered by Alan Greenspan just before the crash of 2006?

Looking at Dow Jones, Nasdaq, and Standard and Poor’s in these past few weeks recalls that understated warning. What, on the trading floors of New York, Chicago, London has happened to make traders and institutions so ridiculously happy that they would be thrilled to buy, buy, buy when in fact just holding for a time might be the better part of valor?

The income inequality gap has not narrowed. There is not even a rumor on the horizon that there will be any kind of tax reform, BUT for Congress’ insistence on whittling away the healthy changes it enacted earlier in Dodd-Frank. The Consumer Protection Agency has still to fight tooth and nail to get anything done. There are oil spills erupting in state after state. Wildfires are attacking California once again. New England’s fishermen are enjoined from making a living in the name of species survival…how about their own?

Housing starts are ‘way up. Housing prices are sliding down. Getting a mortgage has never been harder. Banks do not want to part with the load on which they are sitting. The Trans Pacific Trade Agreement, similar to NAFTA, threatens to do exactly what NAFDA did do, which was strip the nation of middle-class manufacturing jobs – reportedly 700,000 of them – that will never return, only this time rather than just heading to Mexico, companies can travel all the way to China to lower their overheads.

JPMorgan just keeps doling out loot for past offenses, some not even proven. ‘Derivatives” are the coming thing…again! There are mergers and acquisitions going on in cyberspace even as cyberspace has proven to be an unsafe and unsound place to shop, save, invest.

Voting rights are still under attack in the Red States, and abortions under attack in nearly every state. The conservative idea of keeping Big Government out of the daily lives of the ordinary man
and woman is clearly a thing of the past. The Affordable Care Act is taking it on the chin 24/7 from almost every quarter, and may in fact finally not survive.

Benghazi has raised its head again, thanks to Daryl Issa and his committee’s report, and has made life for Hillary Clinton a gauntlet. This is an exact replay of what occurred last year despite finally now being identified as no scandal, simply a pattern of unearned errors.

The concern that Brazil will not be ready for the World Cup or even the Olympics is matched now by the concern that Sochi is a perfect target for terrorists. Syria is still killing its citizens and civil war there will break out the moment Al Queda and Iran allow it to. Egypt is a mess. And Iran is still slyly winking sexily at us while coming across with nothing. China is still manipulating its currency and in off-moments imprisoning opposition . North Korea has not thrown away its nuclear arsenal or even whispered that it might if it could feed its populace. John Kerry is frantically circling the MidEast, dropping in wherever he’s allowed, seeking the Holy Grail of agreements and apparently not making a lot of headway.

US automobile companies are rolling out new models that are larger, more dependent on fossil fuels, and more expensive than ever. JOBS are NOT being created. Unemployment, while down slightly, remains the bane of the poor. The recent 1500 hundred page omnibus bill that will allow the government to continue working until the end of the fiscal year contains hundreds of unpleasant surprises because so few representatives and senators have read the thing. If President Obama signs this bill in the next few days, he’s being complicit along with Congress for some of the worst legislating ideas in history. (This mirrors almost exactly the amount of time and attention lawmakers gave to the Affordable Care Act when it was first passed. Or indeed the bill that allowed President Bush to start a preventive war in Iraq. Why change a winning habit?)

Food stamps are being cut, although not at the horrific level visualized by some Republicans. And Louisiana wants to make certain there is no fraud in their state about any of this, so it is proposing that each family on food assistance show up with a picture i.d., never before a condition of help.

We have political scandals, bridges this year instead of sex. But members of Congress are no better informed about life in these United States than before and far worse educated.

What about any of this is new? And since it so clearly recalls the history of the nation for the past ten years, why can’t we learn how to do things better?

We don’t know. But we sure as hell hope you do.

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