Cake Having, Cake Eating
I would like to once more touch on the story of the whitebark pine tree. Mentioned previously, it is recognized as capable of being classified endangered, but monetary semantics and a backlog of other, higher priority listing actions, have precluded the listing. Why bring this up? Have I gone eco-hippie, back to Mother Gaia and such?
No. It proves an illuminating backdrop for this article from The Economist (which apes a lot of ideas from this New York Times opinion piece), proving once again that words sound great, but words unattached to reality are fantasy. Both articles are arguing that the REAL bubble we’re experiencing is a deflation of the consumption bubble.
The last quarter century of GDP was really smoke and mirrors (my words, not theirs), and now that people cannot charge and accumulate debt to the hilt (my words, not theirs), there is nothing propping up the economy.
Upbeat stuff. I guess I agree, but when the financial system is predicated on fractional reserve banking (literally making a dollar outta fifteen cents), what do you expect? People are getting wise to this, and [spoiler alert] not spending their money in a tight economy.
I know, right?
The American economy is built on consumption. People are not consuming. So…..the government should intervene. And spend. That is the sentiment from both The Times and The Economist. It has been noted on this blog how the Bank for International Settlements is calling for governments to de-leverage (shed debt). Which means either economics writers for prestigious publications glossed over the BIS annual report, don’t want to recognize the, dare I say, prophetic words of the BIS, or live in La-La Land.
That isn’t a Los Angeles joke, either.
Which brings us back to the whitebark pine. It’s not listed as endangered because it costs money to do the leg work. A $5.38 billion budget is big bucks. That’s the U.S. Forest Service budget for 2011. As much as that is, that includes a $10.7 million budget cut for so-called “Forest and Rangeland Research,” which sounds just like where the whitebark is being pinched.
And this is actually almost strictly a problem of the Federal Government. In a stunning twist, 96% of the whitebark pines in the United States are on federal lands. You will also note a similar request made in 1991 was ignored.
So this is a problem for the feds.
And guess what? Capital Hill can’t afford to foot the bill.
Which, if you’re keeping notes, is the call to arms from economics writers. Although, if you take the time to read an economics writer, you’ll probably find they’re full of shit. From The Times article (emphasis added):
The biggest flaw with the past stimulus was that it imagined that the old consumer economy might return. Households received large tax rebates, usually with little incentive to spend the money (the cash-for-clunkers program being the exception that proves the rule). People did spend some of these across-the-board rebates, and kept economic growth and unemployment from being even worse, but also saved a sizable portion.
If it pleases the peanut gallery, I would like to point out the notion of paying down debt. Shitheads spend money given to them when they have debts to pay down.
The Times seems to believe we needed more shitheads during the golden era of for-clunkers programs. Or unemployment and economic growth would have been even worse.
Consider it imagined.
Let me get this straight. Pundits are calling for more federal expenditures when the feds are not able to pony money up for anything? Sounds like a plan. Having your cake, and doing something with said baked good.
What gets me most is that nobody has thought of what may be the simplest solution to the whitebark pine: crowdsource the problem of designating a critical habitat. If finding a suitable tract of land to serve as protected environment is the problem, use technology. This is simple stuff, folks.
How much would it cost to make a GPS based app, one where hikers in parks and forests could ping whitebark information to build a database. THAT database could be used to find a suitable critical habitat to actually protect, on the cheap. Call it, “If a tree falls in the forest….Say something.”
Inform park visitors of the problem in the tree’s region. If they were willing to use smart phones to help build this map, would that not be a good, cheap use of technology?
Seems obvious. If the feds can’t afford it, pawn it off on citizens. For good measure, I’ll even throw a “Duh” in there, for good measure. And poor form.
While I’m discussing the ridiculous nature of economics writing, I’ve got another dandy piece from The Economist I’d like to cryptojournalize.
That’s one of the perks of being a cryptojournalist. Getting to make up new words on the fly.
This article is a rubbernecker’s dream. It’s that much of a train wreck.
Some juicy tidbits, clearly dis-ambiguous and without context:
If we’re worried about the very real possibility that the long-term unemployed will drop out of the labour market altogether, we need quick-acting policy.
The plight of the discouraged worker is one that has been conveniently overlooked. I’m fairly surprised it is even mentioned here, as it is SO overlooked. Who wants real unemployment numbers? Then people would panic. Still, I am glad to see this overlooked aspect of the labor market at least referenced.
I have become increasingly averse to the idea of once again becoming a permanent salaried or wage-earning employee. I suspect I’m not alone.
Um. Sure. That is not from the mouth of CM Punk, to be clear. Not everyone hates working, that’s just the impression from 95% of workers. And the vagabond community. And hobos, derelicts, the homeless, vagrants or whatever else you might call bums.
Now I could be taking that quote out of context. Or the writer has a Neo-Randian viewpoint. Me-centric, where ‘I’ trumps all.
…the sort of self-rental involved in the employment relation is regularly experienced as a lamentable loss of autonomy, if not humiliating subjection.
If you feel “a lamentable loss of autonomy, if not humiliating subjection,” at your job, it may involve something dubbed “The Lollipop Ride.” For those who don’t know what that is, well, it involves a man lying on the floor, a Blow Pop and a lamentable loss of autonomy, if not humiliating subjection.
I read this next quip, and wanted to tell him, “Buck up, sport. Welcome to the real world.” But I don’t think he wanted to listen.
It just sucks to have a boss.
From the mouth of a teenager, working his first summer job. Or a freelance writer for The Economist. The level of rhetorical sophistication sometimes leaves me confused. Does it suck, or just blow, to have a boss? This is major stuff, people!
Head fake. It’s not important stuff. Merely the equivalent of the Sunday funnies for a cryptojournalist.
Regrettably, many intelligent people take economics writing seriously. It’s better with a grain of salt and dose of cynicism. Taken seriously, we all may be gypsy cabs, banking on the next dose of government largesse.
I’m not an economist, but I know if revenue is down and budgets shrinking (like the Forest Service), we should expect more whitebark pines than Cash for Clunkers. If you know what I mean.
And I think you do.