Thursday, March 13, 2008

it begins

And a thank you to Incertus, for pointing it out. *dons tin foil hat* The title of the post should warn you that I am about to engage in some speculation, and the link to the post header should warn you what kind of speculation I will be engaging in.

The question, dismissed by Bush, is essentially moot at this point: he can call it anything he bloody well pleases, and probably will, no matter what. There is a relatively simple equation to keep in mind here: desperation + dwindling resources + hopelessness = riot. Every fucking time. Check history. Push people enough and they won't care if they could die doing it. A mob is not a smart animal, but it is a destructive one.

I spent some time this last summer watching the sub-prime bubble be uncovered and wishing I could drink. Unfortunately, I was heavily pregnant with the last kid. Thank god for tubal ligations. (By the by, I resent the implications that the thing suddenly appeared in the language of the reports on it. It's been twenty years in the making.) The total debt incurred by this clusterfucktastrophe has risen to nearly 1 trillion dollars.

The possible collapse of all the involved banks and the implications on a society that imports a large percentage of its basic commodities and labor, even to the point of exporting the labor to process the raw goods, are dire. If we lost the ability to import, but no longer had the facilities to process the materials we still produce, coupled with gas prices probably rising to the point that freighting or flying in the same goods would no longer be cost effective, even with the vast majority of the costs shifted to the consumer, we would be looking at the inability to get goods outside an area which could be considered 'at reasonable cost,' or fairly locally. And even the local stuff is liable to be prohibitive; the US consumer is accustomed to bearing a large share of the rising cost. Remember, at least part of the cost is both to ourselves, as a lot more people drive than walk, at least around here, and to the companies handling the transportation (or in house, whoever's doin' it.)

Keep in mind that the FDIC just quietly and legally reduced their responsibility to compensate people whose banks go under. That, if nothing else, is a sign the FDIC believes in hysteria, aka a run on the bank. They can point the finger of blame where they like, and have, but it doesn't make the boiling water we're sitting any less likely to cook us.

We would be possibly also looking at a withdrawal; major brand names possibly withdrawing from areas that are prone to higher shipping costs (Albuquerque springs to mind.) There are plenty more companies; these are the first that came up on Google. Stores that have made their name on variety and use a majority of imported goods to stock shelves will be hardest hit. Think WalMart, and remember that past profit projections and margins are not, repeat not applicable; the conditions have shifted. Googling the terms 'WalMart' and 'closing' will net you 733,000 hits, the first few of which, as of today, pertain to WalMart closing down a store in Quebec, the first ever to be unionized. There has been a societal move away from organizations designed to protect workers as well as a business world move. The ramifications of the closings (a few among many) above are widespread. And before anyone goes to the records for Walmart to try and undermine my prediction, I'd like to point out that you'll have to go back further than 1962, when Wal Mart was founded, to make predictions for the current economic conditions.

I'm thinking 1929-40 in terms of prediction, but I doubt many of the current banking people at the level the real screw ups happened here have enough personal involvement with the finances to throw themselves out of buildings.

Not that I'm bitter.

If the stores and brands don't withdraw outright, we might be looking at armed guards for our shopping safety. Or when we go to church (for those of you that do.)

In the event of the loss of major portions of access to food, basic goods (like soap), and a steeply rising draw on the severely cut budgets of programs designed to provide emergency food and housing, people will respond in the ways that seem obvious to them, sometimes violently. *cough-riots-cough* I have some question, as the currency inflates, about the accessibility and ethical oversight of public utilities, should the scrip the government uses to pay public workers become more unstable. If it becomes unstable enough, coupled with periodic outbursts, we might be looking at a complete crackdown or another withdrawal. No one wants to endanger their lives for free. Ditto on the utilities for neighborhoods with 'problems.' Despair makes people do ugly things.

I told my partner about these projections and he refused to speak to me for a day afterwards. The above are just a few guesses. I got more, but I'll hold on to them. The good news is this can be avoided. And I think I know how. I'll post that a bit later.

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