Pure, unmitigated chaos. Admittedly, we’re nowhere near that point; nobody’s rioting in the streets, people aren’t throwing vegetable at politicians when they show their faces in public. But it does seem like things are…picking up speed. The way dirty water might when it’s circling the shower drain. These days, I’m so jacked into the 24-hour info-net that I can’t tell if things seem to be happening more quickly than I remember from back in the day, or if it only seems like that because I’m temporarily “unplugged” and so unconsciously used to absorbing everything as it comes in real-time that the inevitable backlog when I find a hot-spot always seems somewhat excessive. I’m not 100% sure that makes sense; point is, shit seems to be getting serious.
The first hint of this? Russia and China specifically blaming Wall Street for the current financial spasms rippling throughout the major international markets at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland. Well, kinda. Prime Minister Wen did that thing where you talk smack in front of someone, but you don’t actually use names so nobody knows who you’re talking about, but really everyone knows who you’re talking about. As for Putin, he was a little more direct. “Excessive dependence on a single reserve currency is dangerous for the global economy.” That’s fancy political talk for “Fuck the dollar; I need better international value on the ruble before chunks of the western markets start moving towards renewable energy and the bottom falls out of the oil market.”
Let that simmer for a minute; we’ll come back to it.
Meanwhile, a massive $800 billion stimulus bill passed the House of Representatives, which was good. It managed to do so without a single Republican vote…which was not good. Not one vote, Republicans? Not one of you managed to think to yourself, “OK, we had our run of things for anywhere from 4-6 years, during which time we enacted almost every financial scheme we ever championed. This led to chaos. Public opinion is obviously behind the other guys, and this thing’s gonna pass with or without us, so why don’t we piggyback off their popularity until they screw up, and pounce when they’re weak?” It’s not that complicated of a plan; this isn’t exactly a Rube Goldberg diagram. The Republicans say it because there’s too much overall spending and not enough infrastructure spending. Whatever; I honestly don’t take anything they say seriously anymore. It’s not an issue of insulting them, or anything like that; I honestly have no basic trust in the veracity of their arguments anymore.
Hey, speaking of the economy, did you hear Starbucks is closing 300 stores worldwide and laying off 7,000 people? And before you think, “Well that’s not so bad; I mean, there’s freaking Starbucks’ everywhere,” that’s in addition to the 600 U.S. stores that started closing in summer. Now, while this might have the potential upside of the vengeful return of Dunkin’ Donuts, I’m not convinced that’s worth all those people losing their jobs. And it’s not just Starbucks in recent weeks, as I’m all too sure many of you are aware: Circuit City declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy, while Boeing, Dell, Allstate and Time Warner all announced big layoffs.
Finally, here’s President Obama in the middle of this whole mess, staring down pissy government heads, rank politicizing from an embarrassed opposition at home and mental obfuscation by the media. It’s only been one week. I want to say he can pull it off; I’d be more comfortable with the idea if he had eight definite years instead of four, but I’ll take what I can get. Either way, it’s a limited amount of time, and in less time than it takes to get all your furniture and stuff into the White House, Obama’s gone from a guy hoping to attack these various problems with a united front behind him to a guy fighting various enemies, and at the worst possible time too.
“Civilization begins with order, grows with liberty and dies with chaos.” There’s a storm coming, and who knows what we’ll look like when we come out on the other side?