On The Money
Financial Advice for the Working Class
“Double Dip” or “Banana Split”
I read an article by Paul Krugman recently. In it he expressed the opinion that a “double dip” recession is almost inevitable now. I think, however, that we should go for the “banana split” instead.
Paul Krugman’s predictions did not surprise me. What surprised me, was that the guy who played Oscar Madison on The Odd Couple, and Quincy, on Quincy, is now a Nobel Prize winning economist. The guy has won Emmys, played an Oscar, and now he’s won a Nobel Prize. What a guy!
So, according to Quincy, the US economy will almost certainly slide back into recession later this year or early in 2012. I can understand why bloodsucking capitalists might fret about this, but it sounds like good news to me.
For one thing, people turn into assholes when they think the are rich. The whole housing bubble turned a lot of people into assholes. The downturn in’08 really put a stop to that epidemic, but another downturn could really help build character.
Unfortunately, we have bigger problems than stupid assholes who think they are rich. So many of the real environmental problems in the world are linked to the economy. As the economy slows, we burn less oil, generate less emissions, produce fewer toxins, cut fewer trees, mine fewer minerals, and destroy less habitat. The best part of all, is that the slower the economy goes, the easier it is to stop it altogether.
The “smart banana” knows that without the global economy, even war becomes a manageable problem. Of course we’ll still hate each other. We just won’t be able to pay people to fight, nor will we be able to afford bullets, bombs, airplanes or missiles. Without the big budgets made possible by the global economy, war becomes a lot less attractive and draws fewer participants. This makes war a much more intimate personal experience geared towards truly motivated enthusiasts. I think everyone would agree that this would be a major improvement.
So this economy turns people into assholes and everything else into poisonous garbage, why on earth did we invest so much in this economy to begin with? I think most people would say that the single most beneficial achievement of the modern economy is an elevated standard of living. Running water, flush toilets, houses with thermostatically controlled heating and two cars in the driveway, because the garage is full of stuff, that sort of thing.
40 years ago, a guy with a high school diploma, could afford to provide that standard of living for his whole family. His wife had time to wash his clothes, cook his meals, clean the house and take care of the kids, because she didn’t need to work to help pay the bills. The whole family had full medical coverage, including dental, and no one knew what a co-pay was. He had a pension, and could afford to send a kid to college, or bail them out of jail, or a little of both. Of course we all know that was a totally unsustainable lifestyle.
The jobs sucked. They were dirty, loud, repetitive and dangerous to your health. Long work hours often involved working overtime or graveyard shift. The houses mostly sucked too. They consumed too much energy, and required too much maintenance. People worked harder for their homes than their homes did for them, but they at least had homes.
Today, most workers with a high-school diploma, can’t afford an apartment, let alone a home. So you live in a room, that you don’t own, or a van that you do. If you have a girlfriend, and you both work, you can maybe afford an efficiency apartment. You can’t afford to get married, even if you want to. You have no pension plan, no savings, and no job security. If you have health insurance, a big if, you probably have a large enough copay that you can’t afford to go to the doctor anyway, and the jobs still suck. If you have kids, you probably get food stamps, but please don’t have kids.
Because, if we don’t stop this economy in its tracks, right now, while its down, its going to be ten times worse for the next generation. When your parents or grandparents decided to invest in the economy, they got something for it. Capitalists figure that you’ll continue to go through the motions, just like your folks did, even though you aren’t getting anything for it, because they think of you as a Pavlovian dog with a lifetime of conditioning that they paid for, and a weak brain.
Clearly this economy is a bad deal, and its only getting worse. When they talk about austerity plans, entitlement reform and belt tightening, the smart banana says”fuck the belt” and gets rid of the pants. Corporate capitalism is a loud pair of plaid bell-bottoms, that never fit well and couldn’t look more stupid. They have to go.
Every day we go to work we drive another nail in our own coffin. Every dollar we spend gives them one more bullet to use against us. So, don’t fret about the double dip, just make like the smart bananas, and split. A better world is just around the corner, you just have to walk away from this one to find it.