I’m no economist. But economics seems to be one of those fields that you can be trained in for years and years and still not know what the fuck is going on. Not even a savvy investment giant like Warren Buffett can tell which way the wind is blowing all the time. Economics is a guessing game, judging by the amount of divergent opinions one can help themselves to in the news on a daily basis.
So the field is open for a layperson like myself to learn the fundamentals. But even the “laws” of supply and demand elude people interested in the subject. Some people think that is the end of the discussion, that all economic activity comes down to that raw tension between those two concepts. Their relationship is definitely very much a thing and weighs hard on all economic discussions, but it is not the end of them. What I have learned so far is that there are several forms of market warp that transcends the simplicity of laissez- faire notions of how money moves.
Peoples’ memories and attention spans being shit as they are, they often don’t remember events that changed the face of history. Just for an easy example, Trumpers like to point out the price of gas when he was president as compared to what it was this summer while Biden presided. Now of course this is dumb on its face because of the easily understood fact that the president does not really control gas prices. There are things that can be done, like releasing oil from our strategic reserve, employing gas tax holidays, and diplomacy with oil-producing nations. But most of that will not bring significant results that people are clamoring for. Stupid people think that presidents are like CEOs, where everything that goes wrong on their shift is attributable to them. But there’s this little thing called current events, and a president would have to have a crystal ball to head them off. History has to run through the course of a presidency, and to truly understand the efficacy or failure of a presidency we must know what happened during it, looking at phenomena that haven’t got a thing to do with who sits in the Oval Office.
So anyway, why was gas so cheap during Trump? Well, let me get right to it. It’s the prime mover of every calamity we have had and are continuing to have.
If you don’t understand what the epidemic did to the economy, you have shit for brains and should shut up on the subject of economics for the last three years or so.
We literally didn’t leave the house for a year and a half. Businesses were destroyed. Supply chains mangled. Workers laid off. Oil actually traded in the negative, which technically meant we were running out of places to put the oil that no one needed and were on the verge of giving it away. We were worried about how we were going to wipe our ass. It took Trump begging the Saudis to shut their taps off to keep American producers afloat.
An event like this only comes perhaps once a century. It changes everything, and sometimes it just doesn’t matter who is the unfortunate chump in office is when they do occur. Mind you, Trump’s response to COVID was as bad a response as could be imagined, first denying the danger for months and then hawking quack treatments for people who were encouraged to have vaccine hysteria.
By the time Biden entered office, America was back at play, footloose and fancy free. Mask restrictions were done away with, vaccine proof was no longer needed to do certain things and we were off to the races. Demand skyrocketed.
But supply did not. A good chunk of manufacturing is coming from China, who has a zero COVID policy and if they catch a whiff of a breakout they literally go on lockdown. This would and still is causing a crimp in our supply capabilities. Oil company investors, who had their profits pared down seriously by COVID, went on a wild greed spree this summer, refusing to up production to meet the demand, citing a labor shortage, drill parts shortage and the events in Russia and Ukraine. Some of that may have been true-but much of the rise in price in oil was partly attributable to stock buybacks and and insistence on not growing to maximize the barrel price.
So what happens when too much money is chasing too few goods because supply cannot meet demand?
Inflation. It’s as natural as a newborn. Now during COVID under Trump, we printed seven trillion dollars to keep the economy alive. Another two trillion was printed in the first months of the Biden administration. Now those seven trillion under Trump had no effect on inflation. The Fed kept rates at near zero, allowing cheap money to flow wherever it needed to. Once again, it is stupid people who don’t understand that debt is not tied to inflation in a sophisticated economy like ours. Had this been true, we’d be like Argentina since we’re already 23 trillion in the hole and debt to GDP is almost 100%. We absolutely had to borrow that money to just keep basic services going. Some of it went to bad places but on the whole it was necessary debt, which some nitwits cannot tell from bad debt. But anyway, America is taking risks and are back in society, buying what they want. But they’ve noticed big time that what they want is going up in price quite a bit.
What’s the real problem? Did we overdo quantitative easing? Or is this inflation just a function of low supply and high demand? Or do we have yet more greed coming from monopolistic elements within the economy? Either way, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell thinks he has the answer. He’s gearing up for several aggressive interest rate hikes to combat inflation. People I have been reading say he’s going to crash the economy if he keeps it up, and that may be his plan-which sounds insane for a society that just got let loose into the marketplace to buy, buy and buy. Yes, some tightening is probably necessary. Some. But not recession-causing tightening. Apparently Powell doesn’t think the market has the know how to heal itself, and is going to instead contract us into a manageable size, where wages are lower as well as prices. This is madness. COVID-19 warp has shit to do with monetary policy. Those trillions were on the books and they could have stayed there a bit more while we got on with business. Once again, incremental adjustments to the interest rates make sense, but not these ham fisted moves Powell is making. He’s not going to squeeze inflation out of the economy if he is not taking into account what is causing it.
It’s not the balance sheet, folks. It’s the bug. And if Jerome Powell thinks he’s doing us a favor by making the cost of of money expensive and halt this economy’s gains, he doesn’t understand the American consumer nor the pandemic. Give America a minute to actually be a free market. Or to be free, period.
Hurrah! We are free of Donald Trump and his minions.
I mean, Trumpism will live on in some mutated form, no doubt about that. And there are some congressional members who may have established themselves riding on the coattails of Trump, but I think their days are numbered. What we know is that Trumpism is ultimately a political failure because its leader was soundly defeated at the ballot box, turning in such a terrible performance in the last four years that he caused a deep south state to end the public careers of its Trump loving GOP senators.
Trump’s thumb-twiddling in the White House is a mixed blessing. He was too lazy to enact his own policies, preferring instead to claw and tear at everything his successful and popular predecessor ushered in. He also allowed the coronavirus to ravage America. And he nearly caused an insurrection with irresponsible rhetoric. Nonetheless, his idleness and general lack of interest in his job was to our benefit. Thankfully he didn’t do anything monumentally stupid like start a hot war with Iran which could have ended in the nuclear fashion.
So now we have come to the part of the game where suddenly, one of the congressional parties develops a set of principles that they’d utterly abandoned while their party was in power. That’s right, the GOP has found its old hobbyhorse Deficit Hawk, and his sidekick, Unity . The fuck your feelings crew is now begging for us not to fuck their feelings, and I’m not terribly inclined to join them and I certainly don’t think Democrats should pay this twaddle any mind- not after the way Mitch McConnell brought the legislature to a grinding halt at a time when Americans needed them quite possibly more than they had ever needed them. He better go along to get along, because the filibuster can be sidestepped much in the same manner that McConnell employed to get Trump and the corporate establishment their judges. Obstruction simply will not do, and I fear that’s the only tool he has in his toolbox. The country needs a makeover, now.
All this aside, the country seems brighter already, on a surer footing than we have been in years. That’s not enough, as we are still at the bottom a ravine figuratively speaking and all we know is there’s help coming. By all appearances the Biden administration is the right fit for the tasks ahead; it’s now up to them to show the public that they can do good things with their taxes. If they whip the coronavirus in short order, they can ride that shit straight through 2024. It truly is the issue of a lifetime.
If I could just go out for tacos without worrying I’m gonna die or kill someone else, that would be great. The bar’s kinda low for me.
Been a long time, occasional reader.
I’ve been a bit preoccupied lately. My 17-year old has COVID and the last thing on my mind is writing. It looks like he will be OK, so I’m going to try not to worry too much. He can’t taste, he’s congested and a little short of breath but that’s about it so I believe we have been lucky. His brother and mother are negative and I suspect when my results come in next week I too will be negative. So he’s in isolation for the week ahead, but this isn’t a bad time in history to be stuck in one’s room with all our many creature comforts. He’s still in there shouting at top volume to his multiplayer computer games, so as long as I keep hearing his boisterous ass I know all is as well as can be expected.
I am doing my best not to blame myself as a parent for the freedom I allowed him while this pandemic raged. In a sense, it’s not completely my fault because our government has been utterly unresponsive to this crisis, encouraging the reopening of society while the pandemic got exponentially worse. But anyway, it’s been super hard to continue time and time again to say no to the things my nearly grown kids want. It took me close to three months from the lockdown in March to allow visits with his girlfriend, whom he is in love with. I could not bear to stomp on his heart any further so I let it happen. Turns out that wasn’t wise, as she is more than likely the vector from which he caught the virus. Her fucking family members are Trumpers so you know they didn’t believe this thing is real (oh but I guess now they have to, huh?). I also allowed him to go to work at Waffle House, where he was slated to be off training wheels when he got sick so that’s shit timing. It could be worse, I guess-he could have needed to isolate at Christmas and that would be a drag and a half on everyone here.
So clearly, mistakes have been made and I want to say that just because my kid will likely get off easy doesn’t mean anyone should be running around like COVID’s nothing more than a sniffle. 270,000 dead people would beg to differ. I have been irresponsible and now I am paying. Perhaps not quite as irresponsible as the thoughtless people who continue to walk around maskless, but nonetheless I have allowed COVID to spread because I didn’t stick to my guns. If you are a parent, you know what a struggle this has been but please limit their exposure so you don’t have to fret that you’ve done something monumentally wrong. Knowing your kid has COVID doesn’t feel good at all and it is probably better to protect them presently by curtailing their contact with the outside world wherever you can. They don’t have to completely understand. That’s the hard part.
Don’t go willy-nilly thinking like I did that nothing’s probably going to happen because for eight months nothing did. It’s an inevitability you will have a COVID case in your family otherwise. And you or your loved ones may not get off as easy as we here have.
Here at the seminary, we try not to pass up opportunities to mark certain notable events. I’m a little hungover, but my brain nevertheless got stuck on this exchange between Mark Meadows and Jake Tapper:
MEADOWS: “We are not going to control the pandemic. We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigation areas — “
TAPPER: “Why not get control of the pandemic?
MEADOWS: “Because it is a contagious virus just like the flu.”
TAPPER: “But why not make efforts to contain it?
MEADOWS: “Well we are making efforts to contain it.”
TAPPER: “By running all over the country and not wearing a mask? That’s what vice president is doing.”
MEADOWS: “Let me just say this. What we need to do is make sure that we have the proper mitigation factors, whether it’s therapies or vaccines or treatments, to make sure that people don’t die from this. But to suggest that we are going to actually quarantine all of America –“
TAPPER: “No one’s saying that.”
You read that right. That’s the Trump chief of staff officially signaling an end to any efforts on the part of the administration to control the pandemic. They’ve simply given up. Not that they tried in the first place, mind you. But Americans should be terrified as fuck about the prospects of a second Trump term. Trump himself is now on record saying no one will be talking about COVID anymore should he best Biden on the 3rd. Rather, the president is much more concerned with claiming to have saved Christmas greetings instead.
I can’t believe some of you motherfuckers are gonna vote for four more years of this lying, do-nothing bullshit artist. If cases and deaths are spiking, which they are, we could be staring down the barrel at a situation where we will have nearly all been infected, with deaths in the millions before someone coughs up a working vaccine. How is our already overtaxed healthcare system going to treat all these new cases if that’s all we’re preparing to do? We’re going to be fucked. And it’s all because Trump has no work ethic, no sense of responsibility, and no curiosity about solving real problems suffered by real people. It’s an insane possible future.
November 3rd cannot, for America’s sake, go the wrong way. It’s a real choice we face between healing and mass death.
Vote Joe Biden.
For you, your kids, my kids, somone else’s kids, your momma and your poppa. Get out there and pick someone possessed with a sense of duty to Americans.
I figure if anything needs a commemorative post, it’s the news that Donald Trump caught himself the ‘rona. I’ll keep this brief.
After months of denying, scoffing, flouting scientist’s recommendations, and cavalier behavior at superspreader events, he has finally, I think, gotten exactly what he deserves.
I don’t feel bad at all that he is sick. Why should I? Did he spend even a minute mourning the 208,000 people who died while he did nothing?
It is what it is. Fuck him in the eye.
I’m supposed to take the high road as a compassionate liberal. I’m supposed to be better. But Trump, who has foisted so much pain on this country in nearly four years, is a creature beyond sympathy-at least my sympathy. And if that’s tasteless, so the fuck be it.
I tell you what though, we may all need to get right with JHVH quick, because it would appear that it might have been Amy Coney Barrett’s introduction as SCOTUS nominee that caused the outbreak in the Rose Garden. You see, the nominee had COVID not too long ago, and recovered-but there’s speculation that she might still have been “shedding the virus”.
It is nonetheless conceivable that He received Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s eternal soul, and emptied a bowl of wrath upon the heads of those who could not wait to erase and replace her.
Trump’s in a high risk category for dying from COVID, but he will get the best care in the world and I figure he will survive by dint of that. But one thing is most likely; if he does live, he will remain un-chastened by his ordeal, returning to us just as annoying and useless and dangerous as before. This is not a person possessed with any sort of self awareness at all that we are talking about.
I expect Biden will tread through these next two weeks or so with class and poise along a path to eventual victory, which makes him a better person than me, and that is why he is a politician and I am whatever the hell I am.
Enjoy this little ditty on me. Because there’s no more fucks being produced at my fuck factory.
It is not a good time to be a Georgian with two kids of school age.
If you are paying the least bit of attention at all, you know that the South is about to get a fresh shellacking from the novel coronavirus. The southeastern seaboard in particular is in the crosshairs, thanks to a triad of feckless and incompetent Trumpite governors from South Cackalackee to Florida who give no fucks about life so long as someone’s bottom line is achieved. This is a bad long term solution; once people start dropping from too much exposure to the marketplace, they, um…well, they don’t come back.
As a nation, we have failed utterly to tamp down this virus. Only a malevolent, insane swamp creature like Donald Trump could have mishandled our response to COVID the way he did. In point of fact, it’s a bit of a stretch to say he fucked it up or even handled it. Fucking it up implies agency and since he’s literally done nothing, it cannot really be said that he bungled it. We survive to the degree that we do in spite of him. The federal government has ground to a halt at the worst possible time in our nation’s history. We know, now more than ever, that we are on our own. Our citizenry is bonkers too. A significant percentage of brainwashed zombie people are convinced that wearing a mask during a pandemic equals a loss of freedom or, ironically, a health hazard. Observe these Karens and Kens (all white) losing their shit because they can’t deal with a piece of fabric on their face:
I’m not joking about zombies:
The internet is rife with these Don and Donna Quixotes raging against the machine, so you can continue to laugh or cringe when you are done here.
Now, back to my kids in Georgia.
As of this writing, they are expected to show up for school on August 3rd. That’s less than three weeks. They want to go- lockdown has been hard on them.
But new cases are on a steep incline here. And soon, the number of deaths will rise in proportion. They call fatalities a “lagging indicator”, which I believe is fancy speak for a statistic that hasn’t yet caught up to other related statistics. Trump and the GOP want to point to a flat death rate as evidence that the danger is waning. They won’t be able to do that soon enough. We simply haven’t done anything positive in particular that would cause the death rate to stay miraculously low. It’s not like we are tracing or quarantining, so we are at the same place we were in March, except we’re running around like nothing happened. This virus appears to have an incubation time of approximately 3-14 days, and that is the reason for the lack of current dead. It’s coming.
And in this climate, I am nonetheless expected to have my children attend full time- right when cases are spiking with death following close behind. It’s wrong and it’s dumb and I hope our Board of Education is watching closely but I suspect that they will not be as perspicacious as San Diego and Los Angeles. My oldest, 17, struggles with depression and when last we told him that we are under lockdown, he fainted and busted his lip open. It could have been worse, he went down like a sack of potatoes and my dresser, thankfully, broke his fall. So I have that to contend with.
I have to give thanks to my father, who is occasionally nothing short of oracular when he’s not watching titty flicks and Fox News, reminded me that I will never be able to live down one of them dying from a bad decision I made. I can’t argue with this logic. The choice seems clear, I just have to figure out how to frame my decision so that both boys understand that I am trying to protect them. I need time to watch what happens in the schools before I put them back in. I have to have a semester to be sure sending them back is an acceptable idea. This isn’t Florida, so I can still choose.
My brother lives in Buffalo. I live in Georgia. He loves Jesus, I’m an atheist. We always joke that our families should switch places so we could both be surrounded by people who thought like we did.
When COVID was beginning to tear its way across New York, I, joking again, said I had changed my mind about us switching locales. Our family likes gallows humor.
Things aren’t as funny on my end as they used to be now that Georgia may be the first state to open for business without federal protections, and most surprisingly, without heeding federal guidelines outlined by the Trump administration.
That’s correct. My governor may be dumber than the president.
Georgia, if it fucks around too much, may be ground zero for the next outbreak now that we’ve gotten permission to move freely about the cabin. All of the distancing we have done to “flatten the curve” may be for naught as there is no testing and tracing in the hopper. With no other plan in sight for fighting the virus, there seems to be zero chance that it’s OK to go out heedlessly. We are guaranteed another spike, and for what? Well, the government giveth, and now it taketh. It’s clear were only given checks to buy things (since surviving on them is impossible) and now we gotta give that money back to the almighty fucking market with no regard for the lives that will be lost, and no regard for already buckling healthcare system once it is shown that the virus has been licking its tiny RNA chops for more victims to infest.
Outside of Georgia, there are politicians who say the quiet part out loud and are happy to send their citizens as bellwethers in a social atmosphere that is still deadly. You’ve all seen these, but they bear repeating for posterity.
Only in America can the economy come before the health of its citizens.
Now we can see what garbage capitalism is. It’s a virus unto itself in a way; it’s called Mammon. I mean, yes, any ideology that kills its human capital is bad, but we need to focus on our failed economic system, especially now when it wants us to risk our lives so people can profit.
I’m certainly not going down for its sake. Y’all can stick your fingers in all the bowling balls you like and get on the treadmills and huff and puff all over people; I’m still hunkering down. Fuck all of you. This clan is going to keep sheltering until science says it’s OK to go out. I refuse to be a statistic just for someone’s bottom line.
PS: While I’m at it, let’s check into the president’s mental state:
When it comes to Trump, there is no bottom. He’s a force multiplier for death.
There’s a lot of drama going on in the US of A.
We’re watching the Democratic establishment spit the irritant called Bernie Sanders out. C’est la vie. The Democratic establishment represents Democratic voters and they don’t need an insurgent with no respect for the machine that brought them to the dance. His viability ended with that dumbshit tweet. You don’t goddamn bite the hand so blithely. Biden didn’t have to lift a finger to bring Buttigieg, Booker, Bloomberg, O’Rourke, Klobuchar, and even Kamala Harris-the candidate who drew first blood on Biden in the debates-over to his side all because Bernie believes in his own hype.
Sanders supporters are agape and agog and angry at the wholesale updraft to the Biden campaign. They simply don’t understand American politics. One day, when they do, it will be a good day. I mean, they could have gone for Liz Warren, an actual Democrat with exciting and new policy ideas in a similar vein as Sanders, but unfortunately Bernie has nurtured something of a cult of personality as an auslander and many will throw their vote away to spite the process that did not nominate their anointed candidate. It is worth noting that no other candidate’s following does this withholding of a vote bullshit. I find it grossly privileged to do so. If you have been on this rock a few revolutions, you ask for a lot-that’s all well and good-but after you have fought, you settle for a little. Even Saul Alinsky understood this. It’s just poor tactics to bury your bullets. It doesn’t do anyone any good.
So: let’s talk COVID-19. We’ll ignore Donald Trump, because he’s golfing while this virus flies across the countryside, and when he’s not doing that, he’s trying to manage the crisis by lying about it not being a big deal. No one is listening. People are a little panicky right now, if the grocery store shelves are any indication. There’s rationing of Clorox wipes, Purell hand sanitizer, and Lysol disinfectant spray. I bought a can of wipes and some spray for the hell of it. People are genuinely scared that this COVID is coming for them. And who can blame them, stuck in an information vacuum?
Since even the fucking CDC seems tainted by Trump’s insistence on handling every crisis by the seat of his pants so he can get much needed adulation, I have had to resort to alternate information on who has COVID and where. I’m happy to say I found a great site for raw data like that. Johns Hopkins is compiling a visually striking case and fatality list. I go to see the location of the virus and I like to take an average of the estimated US population to the number of infected people…see what kind of odds I’m facing. I know that the incidences are much higher but you go with the numbers you know. I did it last night and we have one case in every 600,000 heads. This morning, the odds changed to 583,000 to 1, just to give you an idea of the velocity of this baby. President Asshole may not think this virus is big shit because we’ve only had 566 cases and 22 deaths so far here but the fact is we don’t know a damn thing about this virus from a biological perspective but we know a few things empirically: it’s exponentially contagious as all get out and it kills the vulnerable and we have no vaccine.
While we’re on the subject of coronavirus, let’s talk about the stock market tanking. Currently, the market is in a 5,000 point slump from the loss of consumers and producers due to the virus. It’s either a great time to buy, or a horrendous time to leave your 401k exposed to further volatility. This might be the big recession everyone’s been heralding; we shall see when things like earnings come out. The world’s central banks have emptied out the toolbox to fill the gap left by the virus’ arrival to at least keep the stock market bubble stationary. It did not work. It’s clear that there’s a fundamental rupture somewhere and the good times might be gone.
Something’s gone horribly wrong in the greatest country in the world. Perhaps all that is going on is that we are realizing we are just another country in the world. One thing is certain: we are not going any place special with the fucked up “leadership” we have right now.