Friday, December 23, 2011

GOPCons: Governing by Hostage Taking

The Legislative Path to Keystone XL
What it would look like if we weren't in denial about the US House

The most recent -- and most convenient -- example presenting the point of this posting can be seen in the "poison pill" inclusion of the Canadian pipeline authorization which is added to the House proposal.  By insinuating this otherwise un-associated provision into the legislation as a condition for the extension of the middle class tax cuts and unemployment insurance benefits, we can hardly miss another glaring repetition of similar, past, bad behavior.

We've seen it before.

And, we have not only seen it before, we have seen it quite recently and quite frequently from both the tea bags and the even more grotesque "nova Republicans" who are now imitating their bad example.

["Nova Republicans?"  These would be the latest, opportunistic, hybrid spawn of traditional "old school" GOPCons, a heavily soiled mix of the old corporate "bite and grab" crooks with the more modern,  truly thuggy tea bag ideological gangsters.].

A bill like the one authorizing the pipeline would normally be authored by sympathetic Congressmen with constituent districts which could, presumably, benefit from the project.  Also, some of the "forward defensive tackling" would have been handled well before such a bill took its final shape.

For example, US agency opinions would have been investigated.  The domestic market would have been analyzed.  Price impacts would have been calculated.  Environmental impact difficulties would have been anticipated.  Perhaps, a few of the farmers with fields which would have suffered when the thing plowed its Juggernaut style easement would have been interviewed.

MeanMesa calls such a process a "causal vector swarm."  To visualize such a concept, just imagine a cork with thousands of needles stuck into it.  Each needle is another one of the predictable "multiple constraints" inherent in such an undertaking, that is, each needle amounts to another "ox to be gored." The final conclusion about the workability of such a project would amount to totalling up all the "pro's and con's" to see how many -- and whose -- oxen were still standing.

When one has the ambition to create a gigantic, multi-billion dollar result, it's usually a good idea to have hammered out a "good idea" before one begins spending the money, much less, pissing off voters.

However, when political realism is added to the mix, you have to make sure you have enough needles, that you have examined each one carefully and that you are ready to hand over all the dead oxen to your election opponent.  More and more gaseous, essentially irrelevant tests will be added as you watch in horror, yet, in a Republic like ours, this torturous route remains the map of the journey.

In the end, the final product will be far from the purity of its engineers' original dream, but it will make sense.  This highly modified new design will have successfully merged individual interests with corporate interests in a way which, more or less, satisfies both parties.  Lyndon Johnson famously said that if a bill passed with more than one vote, too much had been negotiated away during the process.

The Nature of GOPCon Hostage Taking

The American people have spoken. The legislation has wide popular support. (image source)

The Keystone XL pipeline project is only the latest "burning question of the day" so far as hostage taking examples go.  Let's look at a conveniently short list of other recent examples.

A well-informed MeanMesa visitor might, at this point, simply sigh and lament "So, what's new?"  However, let's try to glimpse the "big picture" of what's actually going on here.

Normal governance would suggest that each of these expenditures would be debated, run through the process of Congressional "ox goring" and, finally, either fail or be passed.  Part of each plan adopted would be figuring out a way to pay for the expenditure without further increases to the national debt.

Americans understand that we have to pay for things we need or things we want.

Paying for things which we need or want includes collecting the taxes when necessary.  Raising taxes is part of the package -- unless you can slip by this step by holding something desirable or necessary hostage.  When the "hostage" course is taken, the "ransom will be paid" by lowering the expenditures on something else

The scheme can best be described as watching a kidnapper "holding a knife to your daughter's throat" while demanding that you turn over your house's heater.  At the moment, saving your daughter is paramount, but after she is returned, both of you are sitting through the winter in a cold house.

Why not just govern the regular way?  Collect taxes for what is needed and then buy it?  

If you are a Congressman, this would make perfect sense if raising taxes were a choice you could actually make.  However, when that prospect is "off the table," you have to take the heater in payment.

Americans are getting close to a point where they have no more heaters to sacrifice.  1/6 of the population is now below the poverty line.  1/5 of the population is unemployed.  1/4 of American children are food challenged.

Meanwhile, there is the matter of debt coming due.  To avoid taxes during the Bush autocracy, more and more money was borrowed -- from anyone stupid enough to lend it to us.  The daughter was returned, but, since the parents borrowed the ransom money, the house's heater remained in place.

This worked great for a little while, but plans like this one have a habit of falling apart as time runs along.

Obama, again in the "big picture" view, is now trying to lead the nation back to the regular scheme.  His proposals connect the revenue derived from increased taxes to the urgent necessities now facing the nation, urgent necessities such as jobs, infrastructure challenges and economic recovery.

Where Do Spending Cuts Go
When They "Grow Up?"
Okay then, where does the hostage ransom go 
after the daughter comes back home?

Spending cuts, according to the prevailing myth, become tax cuts.  Spending cuts mean, ridiculously, that less money will need to be borrowed.  The "ridiculously" part enters the equation due to the very, very flimsy reasons that most money is borrowed in the first place.  These reasons become flimsy when they are joined with comments and pledges about not "wanting to drown our children in debt."

The more the national debt is reduced in this way, the lower the interest payments required to service that debt will become.  If the flow of tax money is sustained at the same levels it flowed before the spending cuts, the debt is repaid with the surplus.  The "foot of brass" foundation of the entire Spending Cuts - Lower Debt - Lower Interest - Lower Taxes scam might have actually worked, theoretically, at some point in the distant past, but those days are long gone now.

The tax reductions which are the constant, atmospheric promise of modern spending cuts are. of course, mostly described by the old adage: "To the victor go the spoils."

Further, all spending cuts are not exactly the same.  In fact the motivation behind any specific tax cut separates them into categories.  Needless to say, the motivation in many cases is sheer opportunistic looting, but the other choices are also interesting.

As we look at the design of the spending cuts now being offered in the legislative process, the  distinctive differences are usually disguised as a "blend" of two or more of the varieties shown in the diagram (above).  However, there are a few fundamental questions about spending cut proposals which "sort them out," making the picture a little clearer.

1.  Will the benefits of spending cuts be benefits to all the tax paying base?

2.  Do the spending cuts actually make any sort of sense when it comes to hard numbers in the budget?

3. Do spending cuts target the relaxation of regulations which have been previously generally accepted by the electorate?

4. Can the spending cuts be classed as either "demand side" or "supply side" benefits?

5.  Are the increased "profits" made possible by spending cuts actually taxable themselves?

A Reminder About Exactly Who
Is An "Expert" On Spending

A Reminder About Job Creation

A MeanMesa Christmas Gift Suggestion
For Your Republican Relatives

MeanMesa's compliments to the President.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

PBS NewsHour Judy Woodruff Fights Back: Obama Will Lose 2012

If you think this is shocking, join FOX News!  They do too!

MeanMesa: Exhibit One
Judy Woodruff and Experts "Agree" That Obama Has NO CHANCE

The purpose of this MeanMesa posting is to provide an up to the minute example of the incredible bias we now find daily on the previously credible PBS NewsHour.  What must be done next is a careful presentation of the evidence of of EXACTLY what we are talking about here.

First, let's have a look at the streaming video of the NewsHour from December 12, 2011.  Following this link will take you to the NewsHour site for the video of today's "news performance."  Once you see the video load on your screen, skip ahead to 13:30, 13 minutes, thirty seconds into the shot.

Judy is "interviewing" Stuart Rothenberg and Susan Page about the almost inescapably dismal chances that President Obama has to win the 2012 election.  Rothenberg is a "yuck, yuck" elitist with the equivalent of a conservative blog called The Rothenberg Report from a previous decade.  Page is  the Washington Bureau Chief for CNN.

Judy must have organized this little tea party to promote the image of her famously "two sides to everything" faux objectivity.  However, after spending a minute or two with video, we see that what's left of Judy's career reputation for being "NewsHour objective" is now little more than "cold, morning after cinders" at the Bonfire of the Vanities.

MeanMesa: Exhibit Two
What It Looks Like When FOX News Is Stunned

Ooops.  The bleach blonde accidentally told the techs in charge of the FOX Reich Bunker to show the wrong poll results.  No problem, what would have, otherwise, been little more than, well, more drool, was frantically lubricated with the frenzied refrain of the FOX News pundits' 


Once the "sting" had been so artfully removed and the talking points generator re-started, everything returned to "normal" quite nicely.  Take a look at the FOX News clip by following this link:

The naked wrestlers and the sheep strangling parts are tasty, but the "face time" of the couch residents is still priceless by itself.  The sudden, couch wide palor is far too Santorum-like to qualify as good FOX broadcast.  The video link is courtesy of

Okay, the stage is set.  PBS is celebrating Obama's inevitable loss in the 2012 election while FOX News is lamenting his landslide victory.  Can anyone still question the President's tactical political prowess?

MeanMesa: Closing Argument
So Much For GOPCon Attacks on the "Liberal Media" 

If we look closely, we can detect Judy's thinly disguised delight as she peers through her faux matron-esque authority to herald the black man's political demise.  This is the daily course on the "objective" PBS news menu now that the show has garnered the sponsorship of some of the worst corporate bottom feeders in the country.

The daily PBS anti-Obama innuendos cluster like flies on a sun drenched potato salad

MeanMesa could have included hundreds of other examples of this similar, quiet bias if the blog didn't suffer from such a geriatric, technological incompetence.  The photo of the FOX poll, for example, was taken with a web cam pointed at the MeanMesa  computer screen.

Questions about corporate media bias are one thing, but questions about the publicly supported Public Broadcast Service are even more sinister. There is no bar low enough to make the sub rosa contamination any "prettier" than simply another case of 1% control issues.

Monday, December 12, 2011

"Supply Side" Disaster in Durban

The "News:"  How Much Do YOU Know?

The following quiz can be taken in the privacy of your own home.  Test results are your property and need not be shared in situations which might be embarrassing or otherwise compromising.

The quiz:

What Happened At The 2011 Durban, South Africa,
Climate Change Conference?

a.) Nothing.                                               
b.) More of the same.                                 
c.) About the same as the previous conferences.
d.) All of the above.                                                                                                                                 

If you answered "D," congratulations!  

Is this because the climate change problem has tapered off and isn't such a pressing threat any longer?  Were all the hysterical predictions actually much worse than turned out to be the case after all?

Rather than start off on another ranting and raving tirade, MeanMesa will offer just a couple of interesting "news" facts.

1.  Carbon dioxide and Methane Levels

Carbon dioxide and methane levels for the planet have increased much more than expected.  So have methane levels.  Turning to an ultra-liberal, generally hysterical source (The New York Times, read the article here.), we find this report. [There are thousands more...]

Atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide, the principal heat-trapping gas, are continuing to rise at an accelerating rate, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported. And after a decade of stability, levels of an even more potent heat-trapper, methane, rose as well. The agency said atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide reached nearly 385 parts per million last year, up from 280 in 1850 and an increase of 2.6 parts per million from 2006, chiefly from the burning of fossil fuels. The methane situation is less clear. Methane is produced naturally by swamps but also by activities including burning fossil fuels. The issue is important because climate experts have long worried that if Arctic permafrost thaws, the process would release potentially catastrophic amounts of methane into the atmosphere. In a statement, the agency said the most likely causes of the methane increase were economic development in Asia and emissions from Arctic wetlands. It said it was “too soon to tell” if the increase signals an Arctic thaw. 

This article is from April, 2008.  Most folks who have looked at the Arctic ice lately don't believe it's "too soon to tell" if it's melting.

Since 2008, the date of the article, the follow has happened.

See the little red dots?  They're going to eat us alive.  (data source)
2.  Climate Change Denial 
Rises With Green House Gas Levels

A few hundred postings could be generated by the tsunami wave of climate change denials being trotted out daily in the corporate media.  (The paper linked below speaks of "media sobriety.")  So, rather than dredge out dozens of examples, MeanMesa will present only the following.  It sets the stage for all the rest for anyone interested in an upset stomach.

Here is Senator Inhofe, R-OK, from DemocracyNow (Read the whole article and watch the video  here. )

Republican James Inhofe, R-OK
"While no members of the U.S. Congress attended the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Durban, Republican Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma recorded a video message that was aired at a press conference of climate change deniers here at the summit on Wednesday. 

"Tossing out any remote possibility of a U.N. global warming treaty is one of the most important things we can do for the economy," Sen. Inhofe said. "I’m making this announcement from Washington, D.C., where I am confident that the only person left talking about global warming is me. The message from the Washington to the U.N. delegates in South Africa is this, this week, could not be any clearer: you are being ignored."

The final statement by the conference's head pretty well sums up the results.

"The grim news is that the blockers lead by the US have succeeded in inserting a vital get-out clause that could easily prevent the next big climate deal being legally binding. If that loophole is exploited it could be a disaster. And the deal is due to be implemented 'from 2020' leaving almost no room for increasing the depth of carbon cuts in this decade when scientists say we need emissions to peak," said Kumi Naidoo, Greenpeace International Executive Director.

"Governments departing the UN talks should be ashamed. When they return home we wonder how they will be able to look into the eyes of their children and grandchildren. They have let us down and their failure will be measured in the lives of the poor, the most vulnerable and least responsible for the global climate crises."

(Read the whole article from  here.)
 We Won't Know What Hit Us

In the admittedly over dramatic cinema, 2012, a program management approach was taken to meet the challenge of the catastrophe which was going to fall on the planet.   Although any precise account of the money involved was, tastefully, omitted from the script, the story pictured gigantic ships, capable of surviving the worst of the holocaust with enough humans on board to repopulate what was left.

Of the seven, eight or nine billion people on the Earth at the time the movie depicts, perhaps 100,000 to 200,000 survived the calamity aboard the giant  vessels.  The ships had to be built in China with a massive amount of foreign money.  The project could not, according to the story, have been accomplished fast enough in the democracies.

Looking at the scope of the story presented in the film, we are able to take a few "pot shots" at the fictional project's budget.  Of course, there is little prospect of making a really accurate estimate of the cost of half a dozen megalithic ships like the ones in the film, ships which have never actually been designed, estimated or built, not to mention the additional expense of establishing a global police state overnight  to suppress the violent desperation of seven or eight billion people facing an inevitable death sentence in a few days or weeks.

However, MeanMesa has never strayed too far from diving right into the middle of issues with such a "little prospect."

Let's say that the ships in the film cost, maybe, $3 to $5 Tn.  For this price, a couple hundred thousand humans survived.

We must probably add that such a "cash price" would seem quite reasonable, since the value of cash after the calamity would be reduced to basically nothing.  In terms of "paying the bill," the global police state would also, most likely, be quite helpful.

So, are numbers such as these -- 200,000 survivors at a cost of $4 Tn -- sensible?  The movie did a great job with them, but that story doesn't really map out any sort of reasonable plan for the actual planet and its likely catastrophe.
What we see in the film is a definite project management problem.  The screaming failure is one of scope, but the underlying causes are exactly the same ones which doom thousands of lesser undertakings daily:  cost and schedule.

Managing Global Warming Solutions
Of course, all sorts of innovations have managed to creep forward in spite of the constant onslaught of the petrogarchs and the coal mine owners, but the cultural priority to actually "run" with one or more of them remains morbidly absent. 
MeanMesa uses the term, "morbidly," because we are talking dead people here, lots of dead people.

In the 2012 movie, the death toll was about 99.99%.  In real life, should we continue on our present path, we'll do quite a lot better than that, maybe only around 40%.  Right up to the very end, it looks like we will still remain resolutely, steadfastly determined to pursue the prospect of "saving all the money" we might have otherwise wasted on managing -- or even partially mitigating -- the inevitable collision.

It's very unsettling to see the pilot of your jet liner running to the rear of the plane in hopes of living a few seconds longer.
Yes, you guessed it, MeanMesa has resurrected the old "Managing Global Warming Solutions" post from June of 2008. The original has been revisited with greatly improved graphic diagrams and a few -- but not many -- editing changes.  The old diagrams were a product of changing computers and graphics which didn't bear up under the burden very well.  Now, visitors can actually read the content of those bar charts.

An example of the improved graphics in the revised paper.

Visitors can now read the content of those bar charts and think about it.

The post describes a scenario where the problem of climate change can be entirely corrected at a cost equivalent to the total number of dollars which got plowed into the financial gizmos which caused the current depression.  The loss of human life, under the plan there, would be reduced from 3 billion to around half that number.

Perhaps even more important, the future course of human life on this planet would be irrevocably altered.  There would be no more impending ecological disasters, and homo sapiens could finally get down to the business of normal development, real improvement and expansion.

It's clear that we don't know how to solve the climate change challenge -- especially not painlessly.  On the other hand, we do know how good management practices have solved other immense challenges in our history as a species.  This is no time to quietly allow screaming mimmies or out of date corporate fascists to sign our collective death warrant.

As humans, we have a remarkable record of solving problems, even big ones that seem insoluble when we first start to work at them.  MeanMesa's discomfort here comes from the dismal reality that we seem quite unwilling to start actually working to solve this one.  There are far too few voices speaking of a permanent, complete solution amid the overly popular hand wringing and moaning.

So, if you've read this paper before, visit it again -- especially the improved graphics.  If you've never read this paper, settle in on a long winter's night and read it.  Give yourself a break.  Enjoy a little real hope for a change.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

GOPCon Debates - Re-Igniting The Orthodoxy of Saint Reagan

When a Republican "Debate" 
Becomes a Snake "Kissy"

Is This The Donald Kissing The Newt? (image source)
Okay, which one's the dummy and which one's the snake?
Don't try this at home or in a voting booth.

After watching the December 10th [You know, the  day which was notable for the lunar eclipse, right?] 417th ABC Republican Debate [yawn...] for around 6 minutes, MeanMesa is completely prepared to offer a few conclusions about the grotesquely unusual goings on.

The corporate "news" pundits had been absolutely breathless for the days approaching the "debate."  The American penchant for reducing all political discourse to foot ball analogies was at full steam, and the GOPCons rose to the challenge.

"The Newtster gonna' clean thet Morman clock!  Jest yew watch!  Chraust 's gonna take 'er bah 6 'r 7 points!"

"We'll be seeing a little of the blood once Mr. Nice Guy Mitt takes off the, uh, mittens, uh, the gloves!"

Instead of all this, what we watched with our jaws dropping was everyone being nice to each other!  Of course, the "reputation" of the hard hitting debates didn't suffer much, it simply switched from rabid FOXite talking points to a snake kissing festival.

How could this have happened?  What could it mean?

This is where MeanMesa's internationally renown credentials for careful, thoughtful reporting swings into action.

"Roughing Up" Romney

The billionaires who own the Republican Party have already decided that Mitt will be the nominee.  The problems these long suffering corporatists "saw on the horizon" derive from the man's, yawn, utterly two dimensional image.  The candidate needed a bit of street scrapping to toughen him up enough that he could, well, fit into the base's football analogies.

The GOPCon version of the "intellectual challenge" approach wasn't working.  No matter how persuasive the "debates" became, the meat eating base in the audience kept cheering for all the wrong things.  Mittens had neither executed enough people, threatened enough foreign countries nor allowed an adequate number of 30 year olds to die from lack of health insurance.

Clearly, what was needed was a toothless opponent with a populist waistline and equipped with plenty of feathers, fury and fangs.  The problem grew worse, however, when the GOPCon base fell in love with the gaseous platform and policies of Gingrich while injudiciously overlooking his genetic, general election, sex flaws.

Now, their favorite boy, Mittens, is covered with bruises, and the evangelicals in the unruly audience base are cheering for Newt's Biblical infidelity.

"Gosh durnit, Whoo'da thunk?"

St. Reagan's "11th Commandment"

It turns out that the "11th Commandment" had significantly more "staying power" than the first ten.  For years we have watched the Congressional GOPCons fall in line lockstep with their leadership as if they collectively suffered from having the same brain.

Of course, we know that they haven't really had the same brain so much as they have all received phone calls from the same bosses.  Ronnie Raygun's "11th Commandment" held sway right up until the day the tea bags arrived in the House after the 2010 election.

The 11th Commandment
"Thou shalt not criticize other Republicans."

Given the "snake kissing" interlude before the punches started flying at the last debate, we have to conclude two things.  First, the bosses didn't like the unorganized "fly bys" which had characterized the previous debates and the collapsing public imaging of the party's candidates and brand.  Second, the whole lot of these "debaters" had been called to a "meet Jesus" moment by those in charge, a "meet Jesus" moment where the "11th Commandment" was read like a riot act.

Naturally, the "riot act" had everything to do with the check books in the back pockets of these very same billionaires.

The mandate was straightforward.  Somewhere in the early minutes of the "debate," each of the flagging candidates would heap praises on another, citing specific examples of how the praised candidate had beneficially influenced the political savvy of the praiser in the past. 

The result was a sickening, televised mix of the hysterical and the horrendous.

No problem.  Within nanoseconds after the "snake kissing" had been completed, the whole thing had lurched back into its normal Bronze Age mode with the "frenzied fists of favoritism flavored fascism" [i.e. "F5"] flying right and left just like a brawl over whores in a lumber camp.

The Oligarchs' "Next Dilemma"

The very best, most heart warming examples of "unanticipated consequences" come from the cases where the effort and engineering of the bad decisions reaching fruition in the process were lengthy, painful and expensive.

The precise "unanticipated consequence" in this case is going to a little matter of comparison, that is, not a comparison of candidates or platforms, but rather a comparison of processes.

The whole nation watched the torturous democracy unfolding in the primary debates between Obama and Hillary Clinton.  Everyone saw the passion which was to be the foundation of the later choice for the candidacy.  Everyone saw the issues which were debated -- including the off-debate jabs and parries which went with them.  Everyone saw the depth of the primary candidates in action.

Now, however, the parallel process will occur on the Republican side.  In this case, everyone will get to see Gringrich and Romney go through the same blood soaked,  "winner take all" process.  The horribly unfortunate prospect facing the oligarch's in charge of herding the Republican base to the "right" decision rests squarely upon the terrible image problem which will inevitably accompany the comparison of the two processes.

A comparison which may very well become a comparison of the two parties.

Even to the heavily challenged, burping and scratching, "late night at the American Legion beer bar crowd," these GOPCon candidates will, correctly, look unavoidably "little."

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Myth of Growth

What Does "Fixing" the Economy Mean?

Anyone who has heard anyone reporting on the US economy has heard a "common theme" running through the stories.  To validate any of the media's myriad forms of economic fear mongering, we find a common thread:  growth.  Gosh, if we just had more economic growth, every possible aspect of the economy would be all fixed up in nothing flat!

We might pause for just a moment here, delaying our descent into the actual economic growth issue --  remember, we've been told growth is everything -- to discuss what is meant by "common theme."  And, exploiting one of MeanMesa's "tried and true" big picture literary gimmicks, we shall explore this "common theme" from the unquestionably objective point of view of an alien race observing the situation from a carefully sequestered space ship in orbit above us.

An Alien View of the Planetary Economy

After analysing all the media traffic about how bad things are, our thoughtful aliens, all very well respected members of IHOPPPES [the "InterPlanetary Harmonious Office for Primitive Planetary Populations Economic Subcommittee"] immediately held a large conference of all the most highly esteemed, most experienced, very "top line," best thinkers among them.  The conclusion of this scholarly, orbital symposium was that it would be necessary, as a first step, to carefully form a conjecture of exactly what this planetary economy would be like if it were not the "worst possible thing since the Great Depression."

The orbital IHOPPPES conference. (image source)
That is, "If what was being observed was how the economy should not run, what would be observed if the economy were running the way it was intended to run?"

Being the product of advanced cultures from each of their respective advanced home planets, the subcommittee members were not at all misled by the flurry of "supply side" solutions being suggested by those in charge of the disaster on the Earth below.  Everyone unanimously agreed, right off the bat, that what they were seeing was definitely a "demand side" problem.

Further, the Subcommittee quickly "sized up" the basics of the planetary economy which had now begun failing so miserably.

In its normal state, the parameters of the system were clear to them.  Human babies were created at a rate which more than compensated for the planetary death rate.  These babies were then nurtured into a predictable adulthood at which point, each of them would begin to work for "discretionary money" which could then be spent to create the demand required to sustain the planet's economy.

However, this particular planet had imposed an unusual "extra burden" on the very most basic idea of what "sustaining the economy" meant.  This was the commonly held infatuation with "growth."  In order to "sustain" itself, the planetary economy had to perpetually grow larger and larger.

In fact, every media story about "what's wrong with the economy" relentlessly presented this very issue, that is, the "growth" issue, as "the burning question of the day." 

Having supplied themselves with this very comfortable and very available idea of limitless growth as an absolute necessity for their economy, the Earth humans very naturally looked at this foolish idea as the only possible way to ever possibly get their planet's economy "on the right track" again.

Although the economic mess had completely dumbfounded the Earth's planetary economic experts, the immediate solution was clear to the more technologically advanced members of the IHOPPPES council.  Literally only a few minutes later, all agreed that the simplest, most trustworthy solution would be to increase the rate at which babies were being produced on the planet below.

To this end, the IHOPPPES High Committee authorized the space ship's captain to saturate the entire surface of the Earth planet with the ship's FEAR system [the "Fecundity Enhancement Assistance Ray"].  At once, enjoying the "enhanced fecundity" of the ray's influence, millions and millions of "extra" babies would be born to happy couples all around this troubled world, each birth bringing with it a tiny part of the necessary increase to the economic "demand" side of the equation, and, in this way, completely correcting the planet's "demand side" deficit.

In the council chamber a great feeling of well deserved "pride of accomplishment" flooded every member present.  The council chairman, in fact, ordered the ships galley to prepare a special celebratory feast of the intergalactically famous IHOPPPES strawberry pancakes, each one drenched with the very best, very pure Vermont Maple Syrup for every member present.

As the great space ship departed Earth orbit for its next economic recovery mission, spirits were high after another, such highly satisfying, successful intervention.  All the diverse aliens in the council "high fived" each other and sang "See?  Everybody wins!"

A Cooler, Colder Look at "Growth"

If we continue to look at the present economic calamity with more realistic eyes, we see countries all around the world now horrified that they have "suffocated" growth with too much debt.  Although at the "first taste" this proposition just "glides" down one's throat like a bite of a strawberry pancake drenched in Vermont maple syrup, a closer scrutiny begins to reveal some unsettling facts.

Perhaps there is, after all,  a "Vermont guppy" in the batter.

In theory, any Earth bound nation will unavoidably enjoy a certain level of "investment surplus" emerging from the work and products of its economy.  It is precisely this "investment surplus" which will, when properly applied, result in the gradual refinement and growth of improving conditions in such a nation's conditions of life.

Considering such a system as the rational approach for a country's efforts to gradually improve its condition, just where does all this debt enter the picture?  Why borrow money to accomplish those things which such a system will otherwise gradually accomplish anyway?  That is, gradually accomplish in a more "organic" manner, one which is financed by the "investment surplus" at a realistic rate rather than by borrowing?

At a "realistic rate" which can be sustained without borrowing?

The answer to such questions is sickeningly simple: "cultural and political impatience."  The gradual application of a country's organic investment surplus, at least in modern times, does not meet the popular speed commonly desired for  improving conditions.

For this reason, often called the "growth requirements" of a social culture for such improvements, economies find themselves needing to borrow money to finance critical projects such as roads, schools, hospitals and the like.  However, this borrowed money is often diverted to what are painted as day to day expenses and used "to make ends meet."

Of course, all this borrowing may be often be disguised as nothing more than a national version of a local "bond issue," but there seems to be an avoidable problem which always "crops up" as such programs unfold.  The problem arises from the fact that borrowing money is much more politically popular in most countries than raising taxes -- much more popular -- regardless of the story that goes with the explanation of why the money must be borrowed.

Naturally, the organic surplus can be overwhelmed by sudden expenses such as tsunamis, wars and other catastrophes.  In such cases, borrowing often determines whether a state will survive what confronts it.  In such cases economies cannot otherwise meet the cash requirements necessary.  Also, in such cases, the population whose name is "placed on the note" is usually quite aware of why the borrowing took place and in strong agreement with it.

When Debt Becomes Goliath

Such practices, in more stable economic times, disappear below the radar with the folks whose names are on the note.  The visible reality of social improvements -- again, schools, bridges, sewer plants and the like -- are normally enough to placate even the stodgiest conservatives among such voters.  In many cases, good arguments had been made that the new bridge to Shelbyville would benefit the local economy -- and it turns out that it did.

However, absent the war and tsunami case and floating far above the local "bridge bond" sale, we find borrowing practices which are best left far from the light of day.  Throughout all of this misery, the excuses for the terrifying, accumulated debt remain the same:  slow growth and too much spending.

The facts, however, cast a condemning shadow of these reasons.  It is usually the case that no reasonably possible rate of growth would have met the expectations accompanying the decision to borrow.  Further, the spending cuts seem to be targeting areas quite disassociated with the debt they supposedly address.  And, finally, there are no new bridges, water plants or school repairs -- just debt.

The "Meth Addict" Economy

When a nation desires to "consume the future" at a rate which is "faster than the actual passage of time," all sorts of undesirable consequences are "just around the corner."

Not only is there a sudden flow of money which is not yet produced, the spending of that "future money" grows sloppy.  Tax payers are, generally, quite interested in the spending of their tax money, but they may be somewhat less interested in the spending of money borrowed on their signature but based on future prosperity rather than current resources -- resources which would have, otherwise, appeared in their grocery carts or on their kitchen tables.

The infatuation with "growth" introduces an unusual irony.  From the mouths of these tax paying voters we hear a constant reluctance to "bathe their children in debt," but from the spending policies of the officials they continually to elect, the message is a polar opposite.

Theoretically, all this "extra meth" would work out just fine, but that theory is one fundamentally based on the prospect of a faster and faster monetary velocity through an ever growing economic pie.  Economists forgive the world's population for its incessant expansion, but they apparently do not consider the possibility of a limit to the size of the world's economy.

We're leaving out the forthright looting which usually accompanies the application of borrowed money to "specially designed projects" and other expenditures which seem to perpetually line the pockets of the policy makers who propose them.  The fleeting euphoria of our new bridge blinds us from any moment of clarity with respect to limits which should have been imposed on our borrowing rate.

Further, our creditors, like meth dealers, are gleefully uninterested in any discussion of rational limits.  They live in a world where the single question is "Can they pay?"

The unhappy, end result is that every dollar spent on such "special projects" is devalued by its interest because it is a borrowed dollar.  The price of every program is automatically increased by the interest rate of the money borrowed to create it.

We quit "getting our money's worth" long ago in favor of "getting our money's worth. less interest and looting."

"Good" Versus "Growing"

Through the years of manipulating our economy toward an unceasing state of growth, we have neglected what is, perhaps, an even more important question.  Even our language betrays our thoughts.

 Of course we can keep it up!  

We just have to keep GROWING!

An exaggeration?

How often we have heard ourselves speak of "better times" for our children, and how infrequently we have heard ourselves speak of "good times" for our children?  Do we really think that there is no limit on how much "better" things will get?  Especially with thoughts mature enough to understand that the economic "system" within which we live has, wait for it, limits?

Even though we have essentially ceased spending money on infrastructure in favor of financial gizmos, we have also quit worrying about any possible, upper limit on our planet's economy no matter how many hydroelectric dams, hospitals and highways we might ultimately build across the planet in hopes of reaching the "Star Trek" dream world.

The lament of the environmentalists  has been focused on the physical capacity of the planet to support our habits, but those well reasoned cautions have largely omitted the raw economic correlate.  Inebriated with the myth of perpetual growth, we have never subjected our synthetic optimism to such a test.

The herald of our future calls us to reconsider our incomplete fantasy of possible, ultimate future states.  We will need to have more thoughts about a "good" economy to replace our now unstoppable visits to the "dealer" for a "growing" economy.

Researchers on the topic of meth addiction have adopted a chilling terminology: "anhedonistic."  In their definition the state presents when all the pleasure hormone, dopamine, has been consumed, leaving the addict without any prospect of his normal, hormonal sponsorship of pleasure of any sort.  From such a low point, his future ambition becomes limited to pain reduction, not the blissful euphoria which had been possible earlier.

We can increase our "borrowing load" to a similar place as we frightfully pursue our insatiable appetite for growth without limit.  As we "consume our future" at an ever increasing rate, the actual, material productivity of the money we borrow dwindles precipitously until the advancements we dreamed of making are finally converted entirely to interest payments with a "little bit" left aside for the looters.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A MeanMesa Fiction - "The Candidate"

The Story's "Quick Intro"

MeanMesa isn't the only one sitting in a state of horror while watching the now famous, relentless, endless, Republican "debates" on the old tele.  Public opinion for the GOPCon party brand has not yet mortally "crashed and burned," but only because viewers are too shocked to answer the phone calls from the pollsters.

So, what could be more fun than a little "comic relief?"  Let's tell the tale of the latest GOPCon candidate on the morning he discovers that he's lurched forward in GOPCon Primary Voter Appeal to "first place!"

Well, perhaps we have all wondered just what it would feel like to suddenly be thrust to the number one position.  What could possibly ruin the wonderful day when the entire GOP field became a "cherry on your tree?"

Let's spend a few minutes with "the candidate" on the morning that the great news rolls into the executive office of his campaign.  It wouldn't bother MeanMesa in the least to just go ahead and attach a name to "the candidate," but if that were done, it would permanently date the whole story because they change so often.

The Candidate

Saturated with an over spent luxury only possible with a giant Citizens United PAC money war che$t, the full executive staff of the campaign was milling around excitedly, waiting for the candidate to arrive from his pent house suite on the floor below.

Finally, the bedraggled Republican tottered into the room, immediately receiving a cup of morning coffee from his overly beautiful administrative assistant, Ms. FullBlossum-Eagerly.  Her ever so slightly post teen age face was sparkling and excited as she breathlessly informed him that the campaign's manager was waiting for him in the candidate's palatial office -- waiting for him with some great news!

As predicted, the campaign manager stood as the candidate entered his executive office.  The candidate absent mindedly punched the red button at his expansive desk, activating the anti-bugging electronics and shutting off the automatic recorder his largest campaign contributor had insisted on wiring into the place.

He settled in the $5,000 chair behind his desk and took the first sip of his morning coffee.

"Okay, Smithers, what's come up now?"  the candidate asked with the woeful expectation of being confronted with the latest political crisis.

"Good news, sir.  In fact, spectacular news!  The latest polls of Republican Primary Voters are in, and, and, we're on top!  We moved up 6% points over night, and now we're 3% ahead of the old front runner!"  Smithers exploded gleefully.

"Oh NO!  We're at the head of the pack??!!" (image source)
His face suddenly stone grey, the candidate thumbed his intercom switch to Ms. FullBlossum-Eagerly's desk in the office outside.  "Put in an emergency call to my therapist, Dr. Calmer."

Slowly returning to consciousness, the candidate mechanically turned to face Smither's.  "Christ almighty!!  How could you let this happen, Smithers?  Has Rove or someone put out a hit on me?"

"How could you let this happen??!!" (image source)
Coursing through the candidate's mind were images of all the other Republican candidates who had, at some unfortunate point in their campaigns, arrived at precisely the same horrible place.  He was a man squarely facing the deathly prospect of being the next victim of the meat grinder.

The candidate knew all too well the only outcome possible for a "front runner" when the wheel chair riding serial killer tea baggers got their first, unapproving glimpse of his new status.

"Smithers, you know we decided that we wouldn't take this chance until we were inches away from winning the primary!  Now, here I am, pitched out like raw pastrami in the waiting line to the candidate cemetery!"  yelled the candidate, now sobbing.

"Some of these people were my friends, Goddammit.  Now look at them!  Hell!  Now look at me?  How long do you think we're going to last once those impossible conservative purity tests start rolling in?"  the candidate murmered in a disconsolate mumble.  He placed his head in his hands as his thoughts became even darker.

The candidate's special, secret, safe place.(image source)
"They're going to eat me alive.  Josef Goebbels couldn't get through something like this.  Smithers, they cheered when they brought up the executions!  They cheered when they decided that the sick 30 year old guy had to die because he didn't have health insurance!"  the candidate lamented.

"Dammit!  I've done a lot of savage, brutal stuff during my political career.  I always thought that it would be enough to satisfy them, enough to keep me safely under the horizon long enough to maybe win the primary.  But no!  They want blood -- pure neo-con blood -- and they won't settle for anything less!"  the candidate continued.  Smithers was beginning to look worried.

The candidate stood, staring pensively across his office.  

"Maybe if I were to just flip-flop on a few issues that meant nothing to our contributors, the polls would break back, returning us to second or third place.  We could creep back up from there just in time for the first few state primaries." he mused.

"I'm afraid it's too late for that.  Once news like this hits the airwaves, it spreads like wildfire.  And, once they've heard your name, the tea bags will be happy and relieved for a few minutes, then they'll start in on you.  You know how this works."  Smithers offered.

"They won't remember anything about you or the campaign once they hear that their cousin or some right wing bartender doesn't like you.  They won't know why, but once the killer instinct is aroused, they won't quit until the next front runner falls into the trap."  the aide turned to the door of the office because of the growing noise outside in the staff room.

"What's going on out there?  What's all that noise?"  the candidate asked in  a blank sort of dejected monotone.

"That's the media.  By this time the entire place is packed with paparazzi.  FOX News might have been there first, but by now every network has shown up with a camera.  We won't be able to get out of here without facing them and their questions."  Smithers grumbled, looking worried.  He noticed that the candidate had become totally fixated, his empty eyes staring at the 13th floor window behind his desk.

"Why doesn't the staff shut them up?  Why hasn't security thrown them all out of here?"  the candidate asked desperately.

"The staff is gone.  They all had jobs lined up in case this happened.  The only two members of the campaign still left are me and Ms. FullBlossum-Eagerly.  She's only here because she was too stupid to run for it.  Plus, she was probably emailing the last of my resumes when the reporters broke through."  Smithers answered.

"I wouldn't worry about her, though.  She's a knock out, and she'll find a home somewhere in no time now that she's got experience." the aide added nonchalantly.

A new thought was clearly moving into the candidate's mind.  His constant stare at the picture window was beginning to be quite unsettling to his campaign manager.

"It was Gingrich.  They resurrected that old corpse from his sepulchre after they got so freaked out by Romney.  He set this up -- it's just like him!  The old bird fired up the dirty tricks squad, and they did this to me!  God, how did I miss it?  I should have seen it coming."  the candidate muttered, his eyes bulging as if they were on fire -- the only remaining sign of life on his now morbidly sallow face.

The Gingrich grave had been opened -- again.
Smithers was almost amused that his old boss had taken so long to see through the scheme.  In fact, he was smiling broadly as he opened the door to the outer office.

"The candidate will see you all now."  he announced matter-of-factly to the mayhem awaiting access to the latest front runner.  Stepping aside quickly, he could see the candidate struggling to lift his executive office chair high enough to break out the window.

Deep behind those bloodshot eyes, a final thought coursed through the candidate's last moments.  "Maybe I should have called my wife."

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Keeping Your "Occupy-Self" Safe

Responsibility and Apologies

The videos have hit the net in a delightfully viral frenzy.  Millions of Americans have watched in horror as the UC Davis "police" sprayed sitting Occupy protesters with pepper spray.  Millions of Americans have watched the ever so sincere Chancellor of UC Davis (Where did this woman come from, anyway?) "apologize" for the "incident."

Happily, as can also be seen on another viral internet video, the Occupy and students gave UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi a profoundly moving "silent treatment" as she walked to her car.

Well, Chancellor Katehi, "responsibility" means "responsibility."

Let's see how this works, ChancellorYou were the one who signed all the checks to buy those police of yours their fancy "soldier" outfits, including the super-gigantic spray cans of "crowd control chemicals" they used on your fellow citizens.  You are also the one who clearly happily sat by while your police department saturated themselves with toxic FOX drivel as the gradually transformed into anti-democracy thugs who thought such actions were "just fine."

You were the one who these "little soldiers" of yours thought would roll over in their defense when they sent along the criminally falsified report that they "were surrounded."  Hmmm.  How did your little soldiers ever get an idea like that?

In fact, Chancellor, it's really a "bad turn of luck" that you decided to go "thug" the same week that the Seattle police thugs pepper sprayed and roughed up a pregnant Occupy protester, causing her to miscarry her baby.

The gosh darned "little people" in the United States have a really unfair, bad habit of consolidating stories like these all into one big stinky thing.

Which it is.

The MeanMesa Solution

Of course, all this complaining could not merit its own MeanMesa posting absent some plan to mitigate future, similar outrages for our visitors.

So, if you, valued visitor, have plans to do a little Occupy protesting, MeanMesa would like to invite you to join our national staff!  You job duties will require basically nothing -- the bar is, obviously, quite low here at MeanMesa.  And, of course, your pay checks will be just as gaseously immaterial as your work requirements.

However, you will get your very own MeanMesa PRESS PASS!  You can flash this baby at just the right moment and -- maybe -- avoid one of those now famous, anti-democracy beatings.

Just open up the jpeg below, insert a nice photo of yourself, fill in your name and print it up on a bit of card stock.  Scrawl your signature in the "issued to:" line and laminate it with tear gas proof plastic.  The preprinted form of this beauty is already signed by the NM Director of News Management, Ms. Pepper Spray.

Downloadable MeanMesa Press Pass

Of course it's a bold faced forgery of a document which doesn't actually exist, but it might give you that all important "moment of hesitation" in the mind of the guy who is getting ready to beat your brains out for America.  Feel free to offer copies to your Occupy friends so that they can individualize their own PRESS PASS with their own photos and name!

Have fun!