Sharon October 30th, 2008
Ok, if you haven’t scrolled down and read my happy thought post (“The one thing…”), do it now. Now’s a good time to hang on to your own happy thoughts too. Put the liquor away and hide all the sharp objects. Because just in case you haven’t noticed, the news kind of sucks. I wouldn’t do this to you unless I thought it was really important that you know this stuff.
First there’s the stock market. Isn’t that good news, you ask? After all, it had a big rise, and as I write this, is up a little bit. I think you want to take a look a Ilargi’s post from Wednesday over at the Automatic Earth, though. His case is that this isn’t good news at all:
“Wherever I look this morning, Asia, Europe, Wall Street, I see journalists and analysts claim that bargain hunters are causing the rising stock prices. They’re not. There is something different going on.Prices these days fall when and because large investors need to sell assets in order to get cash. Prices rise when large investors need to cover their shorts.
The investors involved in both cases are largely identical, though not entirely. It’s important to understand that while, obviously, price drops cause loss of capital, price rises are now the result of the same. Everybody still tries to hide their losses, but it’s getting much harder. That’s what happens in casino’s: there comes a point where you have to show your hand. And when things get bad, sometimes you have to show both.”
Understanding that the rallies are as much a part of the disaster as the crashes is counter-intuitive, but I think it is also important. In the same sense, my own case is that the bailout money (which is reaching banks this week) is actually bad for us – not just because it is our money and indentures our kids, but more importantly, in a very direct way.
Then there’s Karl Denninger’s latest piece, which besides some probably intelligent advice, includes something I hadn’t realized – the fact that if you accept a deal to “save” your home by using a refinance, you probably will be signing up for permanent debt-slavery. I think it is really important that this information get out, since almost no one I’ve talked to realizes this – that you could be on the hook for your house FOREVER – whether you get to live in it or not. Please pass that information along to all of your friends and neighbors and anyone else who might get hooked from a bank’s “kindness.”
“See, a refinance, which this is, converts your mortgage into a recourse loan. That means if you take their “great deal” and then default later on (e.g. you lose your job in the upcoming Depression) your wages can be garnished forever and, if you earn more than the median income, you can’t even get rid of the debt in bankruptcy.”
Emo Phillips once joked that he was pretty sure the guy hammering on his roof was sending the message that he was a paranoid little weirdo in morse code to him. Now I realize seeing bad guys everywhere makes you seem nuts, but quite honestly, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that it really pretty much does seem to be the case that nearly everything the government or corporations say they will do to help you is just another way of raping and pillaging. Better be paranoid than be screwed yet another way from Sunday.
Ok, all that is just a little bit bad. The really bad news of the day isn’t about the economy at all. It is that levels of methane in the atmosphere rose dramatically in 2007 - and no one has any idea. All the theories are pretty damned horrible though. If this trend continues, we are in serious trouble – and the more so since the economy threatens to drive climate off the front burner altogether. Finding out why right quick should be on the front agenda – but is unlikely to get there.
“Methane, the primary component of natural gas, has more than doubled in the atmosphere since pre-industrial times, but stayed largely stable over the last decade or so before rising in 2007, researchers said on Wednesday.
This stability led scientists to believe that the emissions of methane, from natural sources like cows, sheep and wetlands, as well as from human activities like coal and gas production, were balanced by the destruction of methane in the atmosphere.
But that balance was upset starting early last year, releasing millions of metric tonnes more methane into the air, the scientists wrote in the Geophysical Research Letters.”
Ok, all this sucks. And there’s certainly plenty of lesser bad news out there – like the fact that farmers are having trouble getting credit to plant wheat, or the growth in joblessness. And in a sense it doesn’t change anything – we still need to start working on our informal economy jobs, on growing food locally, or having a reserve. We still need to consolidate with family and yell and scream at injustice. But depressing as it is, knowing what is happening is valuable to – we can’t respond, we can’t even hope to respond, without knowing. Maybe our response won’t be enough – but we can and must try.
Ok, that said, the pep talk does sound kinda stupid. So instead of leaving you with hope, I leave you with Monty Python
“Whenever life gets you down, Mrs. Brown/And things seem hard or tough…
And people are stupid, obnoxious or daft/And you feel that you’ve had quite enough…
Just remember that you’re standing on a planet that’s evolving
And revolving at nine hundred miles an hour,
That’s orbiting at nineteen miles a second, so it’s reckoned,
A sun that is the source of all our power.
The sun and you and me and all the stars that we can see
Are moving at a million miles a day
In an outer spiral arm, at forty thousand miles an hour,
Of the galaxy we call the ‘Milky Way’.
Our galaxy itself contains a hundred billion stars.
It’s a hundred thousand light years side to side.
It bulges in the middle, sixteen thousand light years thick,
But out by us, it’s just three thousand light years wide.
We’re thirty thousand light years from galactic central point.
We go ’round every two hundred million years,
And our galaxy is only one of millions of billions
In this amazing and expanding universe.
The universe itself keeps on expanding and expanding
In all of the directions it can whizz
As fast as it can go, at the speed of light, you know,
Twelve million miles a minute, and that’s the fastest speed there is.
So remember, when you’re feeling very small and insecure,
How amazingly unlikely is your birth,
And pray that there’s intelligent life somewhere up in space,
‘Cause there’s bugger all down here on Earth. – Monty Python, the Galaxy Song
There. I’m sure you feel all better now.