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Belmont Club

The Word is Our Oyster

February 4th, 2014 - 4:45 pm

The companion piece to Spengler’s article on the bone-tiredness of the US economy is SFGate’s upbeat story on “funemployment”. While Spengler worries that the US economy is losing steam, SFGate says: don’t worry, be happy. It writes:

Michael Van Gorkom was laid off by Yahoo in late April. He didn’t panic. He didn’t rush off to a therapist. Instead, the 33-year old Santa Monica resident discovered that being jobless “kind of settled nicely.”

What most people would call unemployment, Van Gorkom embraced as “funemployment.”

While millions of Americans struggle to find work as they face foreclosures and bankruptcy, others have found a silver lining in the economic meltdown. These happily jobless tend to be single and in their 20s and 30s. Some were laid off. Some quit voluntarily, lured by generous buyouts.

Buoyed by severance, savings, unemployment checks or their parents, the “funemployed” do not spend their days poring over job listings. They travel on the cheap for weeks. They head back to school or volunteer at the neighborhood soup kitchen. And at least until the bank account dries up, they’re content living for today.”

And they’re going to keep staying happily unemployed until corporate America gives them something meaningful to do.  You may have thought “Pajama Boy” was a person. He’s a way of life.

By thumbing their noses at unemployment, they also are sending a message to corporate America, Logan said.

“People are saying screw it, and they’re leaving companies,” Logan said. “We need to figure out how to make companies work better for everybody. Until that happens … early retirements and furloughs are going to continue. People are going to opt out of the system.”

There’s nothing to worry about because if money runs low the Fed just prints some more! See? The movie you’re watching isn’t the “Grapes of Wrath”. That’s so 1930s. It’s the “Beverly Hillbillies” because as you know, the ’60s are back.  For some they never left.

Funemployment

Funemployment

Are we in the 1930s or the 1960s? Maybe the smart money’s on the 1930s.

First, the Fascists are on the rise, cleverly disguised as seemingly normal people. The German Foreign Minister has warned that the British Party UKIP and similar groups pose a threat to world peace. For al-Qaeda. Forget Syria. It’s them Bible clinging, God-loving, King and Country types what you got to watch out for.

Speaking on a visit to London for talks with William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, Mr Steinmeier said he was concerned about a drift towards scepticism that has aided parties such as Ukip, Germany’s AfD and the French Front National, and led Mr Cameron to offer an in/out referendum.

Instead of moving further apart, European nations should cooperate ever more closely, he said, adding that history has shown that when European countries do not have close relations, military conflict can arise. “History before the First World War was a history of not talking to each other, of nationalisms which could no longer be [tamed] by reason,” Mr Steinmeier said. “These dangers have to be forever banned.”

And the “H” word is back. There’s an actual Hitler on the rise, and in Asia too. No it’s not China. It’s Japan.

Seoul (AFP) – North Korea on Tuesday denounced Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as an “Asian Hitler” intent on amassing military power under the guise of ensuring regional stability.
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The attack in an editorial carried by the North’s official KCNA news agency followed commentary by the ruling party’s newspaper Rodong Sinmun last month that described Abe as a “militarist maniac” for trying to amend Tokyo’s pacifist constitution.

Meanwhile in other news, North Korea was reportedly “expanding its main launch site to permit more advanced missiles which may eventually be able to reach the United States, a think tank said Wednesday.”  Time to send Jimmy Carter back or at least Denis Rodman.

Analyzing satellite images of the Sohae launch site over the past two months, Johns Hopkins University’s US-Korea Institute said North Korea apparently tested a rocket engine needed for its road-mobile KN-08 intercontinental ballistic missile.

The evidence indicates that North Korea may be preparing “for a more robust rocket test program in the future,” said the institute’s blog, 38 North.

This expansion could involve “larger space launch vehicles and road-mobile ballistic missiles able to attack targets in Northeast Asia and the United States.”

Peace-loving countries like China continued to ramp up their military expenditures. China now spends more on its armed forces than Britain, France and Germany combined. Not to worry. Those countries are doing their part by continuing to maintain their vigilance against UKIP.  The New York Times describes the scale of China’s armament:

China already spends more on its military than any country in the world except the United States. Now, as defense budgets at the Pentagon and in many NATO countries shrink, China’s People’s Liberation Army is gearing up for a surge in new funding, according to a new report.

China will spend $148 billion on its military this year, up from $139.2 billion in 2013, according to IHS Jane’s, a defense industry consulting and analysis company. The United States spends far more – a forecast $574.9 billion this year – but that is down from $664.3 billion in 2012 after budget cuts slashed spending. By next year China will spend more on defense than Britain, Germany and France combined, according to IHS. By 2024, it will spend more than all of Western Europe, it estimates.

China’s on the moon. Europe’s never been there. Maybe that’s an argument for the 1960s. But the 30′s hypothesis has a lot going for it.  Even Antonin Scalia’s got the 1930s bug. He says that internments can happen again. “U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia told law students at the University of Hawaii law school Monday that the nation’s highest court was wrong to uphold the internment of Japa­nese-Americans during World War II but that he wouldn’t be surprised if the court issued a similar ruling during a future conflict.”

Scalia was responding to a question about the court’s 1944 decision in Kore­ma­tsu v. United States, which upheld the convictions of Gordon Hira­ba­ya­shi and Fred Kore­ma­tsu for violating an order to report to an internment camp.

“Well, of course, Kore­ma­tsu was wrong. And I think we have repudiated in a later case. But you are kidding yourself if you think the same thing will not happen again,” Scalia told students and faculty during a lunchtime question-and-answer session.

Scalia cited a Latin expression meaning “In times of war, the laws fall silent.”

Scalia clings to the quaint notion that the laws of men yield to those of physics and necessity. That is surely incorrect. It’s a betrayal of the notion that reality is whatever the law says it is. For example, we all know there’s no more war, only Lawfare. Why? Has Congress declared war lately? Glenn Greenwald recently denied selling classified NSA material on the grounds that it isn’t technically a sale. And recently al-Qaeda reportedly canceled the franchise of jihadi groups in Syria since the US military can only act against enemies defined as al-Qaeda. Greenwald knows how things work.

Greenwald, who is an attorney, acknowledged insisting on freelance contracts in order to supply the stories. However, he said that is itself a legal precaution aimed at ensuring that authorities treat him as a journalist and not as a source. Traditionally, sources have sometimes been subject to prosecution for disclosing secret documents, while the government has shied away from prosecuting those who act as journalists or publishers.

But maybe the problem with the modern world is that we’ve become too reliant on words; too dependent on spin. We’ve defined war, al-Qaeda and even unemployment out of existence. And we’ve redefined UKIP and Japan into modern day Hitlers. Therefore the problem is solved.

Is it really? The description formerly applied to those who had lost contact with reality was “mad”. Who was it that said “whom the gods wish to destroy they first put on funemployment?”


Did you know that you can purchase some of these books and pamphlets by Richard Fernandez and share them with you friends? They will receive a link in their email and it will automatically give them access to a Kindle reader on their smartphone, computer or even as a web-readable document.

The War of the Words for $3.99, Understanding the crisis of the early 21st century in terms of information corruption in the financial, security and political spheres
Rebranding Christianity for $3.99, or why the truth shall make you free
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No Way In at Amazon Kindle $8.95, print $9.99. Fiction. A flight into peril, flashbacks to underground action.
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Top Rated Comments   
Ask a Filipino landowner about squatters.

The squatters use the world as their bathroom. But because there's a "humanity" aspect to it, removing squatters is not a matter of "adverse possession" law.

So, landowners ask politicians for help. Here's the rub: The squatters come in hordes...and then vote...in the political district of their "squattage".

In one district of nice homes and well maintained landscapes...they outnumber the taxpaying residents, and formed the council to which the landowners/taxpayers had to petition for relief.

America is becoming a land of economic squatters. The Democratic Party is the council of squatter enablers. Because of the "humanity" of the situation, there is no relief for the taxpayers. In fact, squatting is encouraged....as long as the votes keep pouring in...along with the human waste runoff.

Now, we can import 13 million people...border crashing squatters, to help accelerate the pace of Squatting America. Scalia may be right. The camps are coming. Just which group will be placed in them is becoming clearer with every IRS and EPA exposure.

So, I choose an era and a movie.

1930's. The Rapes of Graft.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
It depends on the nature and duration of the "funemployment". Absolutely granting that the old industrial and corporate paradigm is gone and never coming back. Howver, the deliberate seeking of dependence on a less than benign entity and the frivolous consumption of what human and financial capital you possess builds a behavioral rut that will be catastrophic in the future. Dependence is addictive. And the almighty State is broke and the bread, circuses, and soma will run out. Will they be willing and able to become self-supporting or will they have to be carried for the rest of their lives. Think of the cultural differences between former East Germans and West Germans.


Mendel Telebendee said he just hired someone who had been "funemployed" for 18 months. He will either be very motivated, having looked into the abyss; or he will be a very troublesome hire.

Subotai Bahadur
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Another parallel would be the recent report from the Congressional Budget Office admitting that the critics of Obamacare were right, and that it would cause a net loss of 2.5 million jobs in this country by 2017 [when, in theory, Buraq Hussein Obama would leave office under the now ignored Constitution]. The response of the White House [and Senate Majority Leader Reid] was that it was not a loss for those people, but that it was a benefit because they were now "free agents" and could use the leisure to do what they wanted to do with their lives. And that may be right if what they wanted to do was go on welfare or watch their family starve.

In a sense though, those who claim that the Sino-Japanese problems are in a sense Hitler redux are correct. Except the aggressor being appeased is China.

And Scalia speaks sooth. Note this:

http://www.infowars.com/students-sign-petition-to-have-gun-owners-executed-in-concentration-camps/

Given that Obama's mentor wants to execute those Americans who resist "re-education", and that no one in the Federal Government seems to be subject to the law or Constitution; yeah it will happen.

Subotai Bahadur
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (51)
All Comments   (51)
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We already had Jethro Bodine as President. He was educated, went to Oxford for four years.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
My gratitude to everyone for continuing the discussion on the twin culpabilities and capabilities of both the foreign and the domestic threats. Both are real. Both are responsible for their actions, whether in concert or not. Both can and should be resisted. Be of good cheer. There are fights worth attending.

William B,
One caveat to your noble encomium to the Navy. Do not over or underestimate the efforts over the last several years, beginning with Clinton and Weasley Clark and accelerating under Obama, to politicize and deprofessionalize the Armed Forces. There is always the risk that some people look at works like "Nineteen Eighty Four" and "Brave New World" and "The Manchurian Candidate" and "Wag the Dog" and "Seven Days in May" as training guides.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yes, I agree completely. As long as we stay true to our own best selves, we need fear no external enemy. The enemy within is always the greatest danger.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
More squealing in California over the fallout from O-care purely apart from its relationship to "funemployment": People who signed up for Covered California are-- as the experts had predicted-- losing access to their physicians. One unhappy person was ". . . diagnosed last year with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and discovered a suspicious lump near her jaw in early January. But when she went to her oncologist's office, she promptly encountered a bright orange sign saying that Covered California plans are not accepted. 'I'm a complete fan of the Affordable Care Act, but now I can't sleep at night,' Nelson said. 'I can't imagine this is how President Obama wanted it to happen.'"

Meanwhile, life imitates art: Wretchard said of O-care in a previous post, "There’s no alternative but to ride ‘er down to Davy Jones because it’s too late now." Turns out that DJ's infamous locker is in California: "'It's a little early for anyone to know how widespread and deep this problem is,' said California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. 'There are a lot of economic incentives for health insurers to narrow their networks, but if they go too far, people won't have access to care. Network adequacy will be a big issue in 2014.'"
http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-obamacare-patients-20140205,0,1675336,full.story#axzz2sTb20bzM

32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Ah, if only Comrade Stalin knew about this!

Good to know this mindset is still alive and well! At least perhaps I can take some solace in the fact that natural selection may now be at work here.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Ask a Filipino landowner about squatters.

The squatters use the world as their bathroom. But because there's a "humanity" aspect to it, removing squatters is not a matter of "adverse possession" law.

So, landowners ask politicians for help. Here's the rub: The squatters come in hordes...and then vote...in the political district of their "squattage".

In one district of nice homes and well maintained landscapes...they outnumber the taxpaying residents, and formed the council to which the landowners/taxpayers had to petition for relief.

America is becoming a land of economic squatters. The Democratic Party is the council of squatter enablers. Because of the "humanity" of the situation, there is no relief for the taxpayers. In fact, squatting is encouraged....as long as the votes keep pouring in...along with the human waste runoff.

Now, we can import 13 million people...border crashing squatters, to help accelerate the pace of Squatting America. Scalia may be right. The camps are coming. Just which group will be placed in them is becoming clearer with every IRS and EPA exposure.

So, I choose an era and a movie.

1930's. The Rapes of Graft.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
I have an apartment I own and rent out in SC. I hired a property management firm to handle it. They rented it to a Hispanic man whose background checked out. But gradually over a period of years, as it became all too obvious that the original renter was subletting it to other Hispanics. Some washed their 3 cars every weekend and invited their friends to do the same; the water bill was $150. Some had 2 adults and 2 children living in a one bedroom apartment. Some refused to allow access to maintenance personnel. Some refused to pay rent until the Sheriff appeared at their door with an eviction notice. Eventually after two tenants apparently had fight and threw their household goods all over the lawn; I formally asked that “the” tenant be evicted.

It is all too common for such immigrants, regardless of ethnicity to submerge them in their group identity to disguise their crimes. I can recall complaints from authorities in Oklahoma in the late 70’s about the large number of Iranian students due to just that situation.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
William Berry:

Re your post below, I agree completely. There's a tendency to overlook the fundamental weakness in a central control system (and don't forget corruption).

**Re the blue-water navy, two old friends went through Navy OCS back in the 'Nam era and both remember to this day lectures on traditions and how modern fundamentals and practices date back to Nelson's time or more. You can't just ''build'' a navy.

**I have a son and friend who have done business in China, computer- and software-related, and they have told me of the Chinese way of approaching such things. As you said, they may copy but are unlikely to innovate.

**finally, in 1991 I was at the eastern shore of the Black Sea at an ocean research lab. They had a very fine diving chamber complex built in E Germany, equal in quality to any in the US; the chambers were good to a depth of 2000 ft. That was the high-grade steel and welding. Then we looked behind the locally-made control panel: clumsy soldering, loose wires, something a third-grader wouldn't own up to.

My companion, who was an electrical engineer during his Navy service, just looked at me and said, ''How did they think they were going to win?'' He was referring to the Cold War if this was an example of their mil-tec competence.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
A friend of my made some trips to the PRC to support launch of US built satellites on Long March boosters. When I expressed concerns to him over my belief that the effort constituted a training program for the Chinese (and on which I testified before the US Congress) he replied that we never need fear the PRC because, “They lie to each other too much.”

I think we are catching up to the PRC in that respect, fast.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Thanks, Hunter B. On the blue-water navy, yes, it was just that great tradition back to Nelson and beyond, that learned competence of centuries, that I was thinking of. So when I think of a proposed Chinese naval threat, I wonder, to paraphrase Saul Bellow, who is the Nelson of the Chinese? Who is the John Paul Jones, the Admiral Blake? I don’t mean that to be snarky or dismissive or overconfident or “racist”; I mean, seriously, show me that man and I’ll get concerned. Show me a dozen and I’ll get worried.

It must have been from this site, years ago, that I read for the first time all of the signals to the British fleet from Nelson’s flagship at Trafalgar. I pored over them for quite a while, and I excitedly showed them to my sons. (This site entered into their homeschool curricula many times; thanks, Richard and all.) Like everyone, I knew the great “England expects” line; but it gained even more power, I thought, by being laconically embedded in a whole sequence of signals that seemed prosaic, but were where the real gold lay: serious, competent, devoted men totally focused on the business at hand, the details of navigation of a fleet of deadly machines closing rapidly with the enemy.

It reminded me of Armstrong at Luna; the thrilling part, to me, was not so much the “one small step” line as the sequence of radio signals from the Lander as Armstrong executed a very demanding landing of a dangerous machine with almost depleted fuel: totally focused on the business at hand, making adjustments on the fly, executing with deep competence.

In these moments, we may be venturing close to the basic causes of the success—and it has been success, mostly, for many centuries now—of what Churchill called the English-speaking peoples. If that’s true, those ways of being can’t be stolen, spied away, copied, or bought; they have to be learned, worked, lived over many generations. We can fail only if we lose our faith in them and throw them away.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
You're so right; I suppose it's called ''institutional memory'', ''generational memory''. A young officer--or any idealistic beginner--instinctively looks to his elders, his superiors, and wants to be like them. He/she incorporates a million thought processes, mannerisms, etc without even knowing it, then in turn passes it on later in the career. This takes generations and the laconic Nelson probably didn't realize the full extent of it in himself even.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Up next...IRS audit of CBO staff!!
Whats the deal with the recent run of high level banker "suicides"?:
http://therealrevo.com/blog/?p=112133


32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
The melody is 'entrepreneur' but the lyric is 'regulation/taxation'. It's to sing 'Happy Birthday' to Chopin's 'Funeral March': either dirge sounds happy or happy means sad.

"Mourning in America!" --"Can Do!" to "Canned Doo?" in only five endless years!
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
LET THEM EAT CAKE

The latest fit of mendacity from Harry Reid and others explains that Obamacare is creating a whole new breed of "independent agents," or self-employed people, "liberated" from the "tyranny" of having their insurance tied to their employer. I.e., those two million people being projected by the CBO as likely to lose their jobs will actually become "self-employed free-agents" thanks to the ACA. This is pure, unadulterated con-man chicanery worthy of the worst scammers in American history.

The fact that the ACA was never intended to create this neo-libertarian result doesn't seem to phase those touting this latest bit of outrageous spin. Along with the "Heritage Foundation Conspiracy to create Obamacare," and Pelosi's notion that unemployment checks "help" the economy, etc., ad nauseam, reality has been turned completely upside down.

I see that Subotai is well ahead of me on this. I'll add another observation: Reid and the others touting this "free-agency renaissance" remind me of a desperate defense attorney trying to get his client off despite the massive evidence to the contrary.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
How much hardware and systems does $148 Billion buy in China, where labor can still be purchased for $5 to $100 a day, and they have no union rules to concern themselves with? Much more than $600 billion in the USA, of that, I am certain.

Any American not freaked out by the disparity in military investment between China and the USA is naive. The internet has made most information fungible. Anything that the US develops and deploys is already under development in China. The US won't have a 25+ year technical edge over China or any other country. We had stealth fighters and great drones. Well, hooray, China will have them, and they'll thousands more units than the USA will have.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_budget_of_the_People's_Republic_of_China

(a couple quotes from)

''Due to differences between the countries' budget systems, China categorizes the budget of the 2nd Artillery Corps as the budget of Space Development Rockets, and missile development is included in the Air Science budget. As a result, China and Russia's military budgets do not correspond to those of other countries.''

(IOW, missile development is not included in the $148 bbl --and there's other anomalies not included in this 'even-handed' wiki)

===

"The last year that many international institutes provided estimates of Chinese military spending in comparable terms was 2003.[citation needed] In terms of the prevailing exchange rate, SIPRI, RAND, the CIA and the DIA estimated the budget to be between US$30–65 billion. In terms of purchasing power parity, or the relative purchasing strength of the expenditure, the SIPRI estimate was as high as US$140 billion.[4] The Chinese government's published budget at that time was less than US$25 billion."

(IOW, eleven years ago was when the last reliable number was reported, and that number was $25 bbl, which at that time corresponded to an actual $140 bbl)



32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
SFGate article used anecdotal and carefully chosen people's view to further their ideology. LATimes’ “Why the new CBO report on Obamacare is good news” goes a bit further.

http://www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-mh-cbo-20140204,0,3106578.story#axzz2sS2c0Hf9

(excerpt)
The Congressional Budget Office is out with its latest report on the Affordable Care Act, and here are a few bottom lines:

— The ACA is cheaper than it expected.

— It will “markedly increase” the number of Americans with health insurance.

— The risk-adjustment provisions, which Congressional Republicans want to overturn as a “bailout” of the insurance industry, will actually turn a profit to the U.S. Treasury.

Given all this, why are the first news headlines on the CBO report depicting it as calling Obamacare a job killer?
(end excerpt)
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Unbelievable spin, isn't it?
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yep, the thing that gets me is the ACA is using the insurance industry to keep a second set of books. The private sector is collecting taxes and redistributing the money, and the actual costs are hidden by the Treasury payments. That's why I always laugh when the left twist their collective mustachio while they utter "single payer" with a gleam in their eyes. Who is going to be the "Schweinehund" if the Government isn't hiding behind industry. Don't they ever wonder?

I'm reminded of my punk days when the musician, Steve Albini, pushed back on early PC crap. He got in trouble for wearing a tee-shirt that said, "Should we rape and kill her? No, lets kill her and then rape her". I found it offensive; it was good satire. However, I shouldn't have been surprised that it represents the policy debate our government has towards the citizens quite nicely. Alas, Hey! Ho! Let's Go, were the good old days.

As a further aside. After 9/11, I came across an astute anti-terrorism screed by Albini. At first I thought he was condemning the leftist that were glorifing 9/11, but quickly realized it was an earlier writing chastising the left for elevating The Chicago Five. So, points to him for continuing to push back against his likely audience.
32 weeks ago
32 weeks ago Link To Comment
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