Monday, December 8, 2008

The Worst of All Worlds

If we are stuck with the belief that "government is bad" whoJustify Full do we have left? Private industry? I had a conversation many years ago with an ex-friend, a friend at the time, who insisted with a totally straight face that the leaders of industry were good, well intentioned people who left to their own devices would keep the ship of state afloat and prosperous. This from a man who had, at the time been awarded the largest settlement in history for blowing the whistle on a corporation cheating the government of around 15o million dollars. According to the news reports from the time my ex-friend walked away with around 22 million dollars (of which one third must have gone to his attorney who decided to use the proceeds to fund pro-bono defense of capital murder cases). My ex-friend and I fell apart finally when I accused Colin Powell of lying during his famous uranium speech at the UN. "Lying? You think the Secretary of State is lying?" my ex-friend spluttered. "That or he is reading a speech written by liars," I said, and we parted ways. The fact that history proved me right was not much comfort. I lost a friend and the country lost thousands dead and injured and trillions in treasure.
I read today (naked capitalism) that AIG is still supplying bonuses to its leaders after receiving a $152 billion dollar check from we the taxpayers. They did the deed before Thanksgiving so we wouldn't notice (we didn't!) and somehow that's supposed to be okay. I am no fan of the automaker's bailout but they are small beer ($34 billion total?), and they offer people real jobs, compared to the crud that festers in the financial industry. I find it astonishing that we can be so prosperous as a nation (the lights came on as usual this morning! That's good news...) and be led by such morons. They must think we are the morons. Where's my pitchfork?
The problem is, if not them, who? The mistrust of government that has been put about by the same press that failed to notice the bonuses, is eating us up. The problem as I see it is that the people in government aren't bureaucrats, they are people from the industry sector. The reason the Treasury Secretary black mails the country into handing him carte blanche for the disbursement of the $700 billion is because he is one of them. He came to the Administration from Goldman Sachs the investment bankers and rivals of Lehman Brothers who he allowed to fail and thus they disappeared! The rest of the bail out plan? Who knows!
So, let's review. The Credit Default Swaps are still floating around unclaimed and not dealt with so banks won't loan money as they still aren't sure what they or their clients will need in reserve to pay them off when they come due, eventually. In the absence of loans business is drying up, so we are getting record unemployment statistics, the official U-6 measure of unemployment (unemployed and under-employed) stands at 12.5%, half the generally accepted level which indicates a Depression. We the people have been screwed coming and going by business and the government who are passing around our money and peeling their retirement bonuses off the top. We trust no one. African states don't trust western powers so even though 150,000 people in Zimbabwe have cholera they don't want foreign intervention to depose Dictator Mugabe. Mugabe has managed to give the white minority racist government a good name because Rhodesia was a food exporter twenty five years ago...Greece is in flames because police shot a kid over government education policies (!) and an international aid agency says the Taliban are back in Kabul and all our military intervention there was for naught. Oh and despite billions spent to prop it up Venice is sinking ( exceptional pictures on A1A News) again.
And then people write in and tell me I am unduly pessimistic! My supply of Irony is full to overflowing, anybody want any?

Villa Mill

I had a moment last month when we got a call about someone passed out at Villa Mill Lane. My colleague who took the call said out loud: "Villa Mill Lane..?" Which was my opportunity to pipe up and explain it was off United Street...and thus I looked good once again to my incredulous co-worker. Ha, little did Noel know my wife used to have a job in the building shown in the photo above. Then they moved the Department of Juvenile Justice to Stock Island and she had to move out. But I remembered where Villa Mill Lane was.There really is no reason to know why this lane exists unless one happened to live or work there. It has little of special significance, and even the architecture isn't much. I guess I just needed a break from impossibly cute lanes in the pretty parts of town. It's not that Villa Mill is ugly or anything, there is lots of greenery and stuff:And this, though what this is exactly I'm not too sure. It looks like a brightly colored fish made out of cloth, serving an indefinable purpose:The entrance to the lane is marked by these poles bright scarlet and very visible:
And there are pretty enough homes of course, some scarred by the intrusion of modern technology:And then there was the cat, imperiously licking itself clean in a public place:And that was that for Villa Mill. It wasn't even sunny, so you can see even the Keys have the capacity to suffer from nasty winter weather..