Friday, October 22, 2010

Welcome to the Depression in No-Fun, Distracted America

Is there any wonder why Americans find ways to distract themselves from the real world? The diversions provided by major league baseball, the NFL and other sports, shows like Glee or American Idol at least provide an escape from the drudgery that has become life in America: working to just pay bills that never cease, never go down, never go away. After the utilities, cable, phone, car insurance and other debt payments, gas and food most Americans are left with little to spend, much less save anything for a "brighter" future.

The oligarchy that we have morphed into over the past 40 years is decimating the middle class, having already created a huge and growing underclass that pays no bills, relying on food stamps and subsidized housing for basic sustenance. The rich could care less; they're just busy getting richer or trying to hold onto what they have before it's all inflated away by the Fed and the Treasury and our spendthrift congress.

We overburdened with rules and regulations that haunt us at every turn. Entrepreneurs are reluctant - no, afraid - to expand and hire anyone due to the crush of regulations, taxes, paperwork and red tape, making the thought of training and retaining employees almost unthinkable.

It would be nice to say that people want distractions because the news is always so bad, but that's not even true any more. The mainstream media doesn't even report the news properly, shielding the guilty (government, banks, politicians) from the public, left in the dark to fend for themselves when the next shock comes.

France is nearly in a state of anarchy, as is much of europe, though you'll find none of it on the major PUBLIC AIRWAVE networks. NBC even went so far as to call the potential $257 billion, or whatever stupid number they assigned to it, that will be needed to bail out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the largest bailout in history, then went through a brief history, including the auto manufacturers, an some others they came up with, and then put had the temerity to show the cost of bailing out the banks at something like $17 billion.

It's outrageous that they can still call themselves a news organization. Somewhere along the line the $700 billion the banks stole from the American taxpayers has become a mere $17 billion. Supposedly, they'll argue that the banks paid most of it back. All they're doing is conditioning the public for the next bank bailout, on the order of $500 billion to $1 trillion, scheduled for late Winter or early Spring.

Even the stock market is a fool's paradise. Stocks just keep going up, no matter what. For instance, today, Fitch warned of downgrading the debt of Bank of America and Citigroup. Shares of both insolvent banks were higher at the end of the day.

Speaking of said stock market, the NASDAQ was higher all day, the Dow lower, and the S&P and NYSE hugged the flat line. The markets are broken, devoid of the individual investor that used to be the backbone of the trade. Today, 80% of the trades are computer driven and come from the top twenty or so brokerages or hedge funds.

It's simply no fun to be an American any more. Some days, people wish the system would just collapse, so we could start over again from scratch, because this one is just worn out or has become so corrupted, that it doesn't play right. Those of us who grew up in the 50s and 60s remember better times. One working parent, stay-at-home mom, mostly honest politicians, straight-forward banks, low costs for gas, food and other necessities and enough money for summer family vacations and even some left over for savings.

Forget those idyllic days, for they are long gone. What we have today instead is nothing short of catastrophic, and what we'll leave for the future will be an unmitigated wasteland.

Dow 11,132.56, -14.01 (0.13%)
NASDAQ 2,479.39, +19.72 (0.80%)
S&P 500 1,183.08, +2.82 (0.24%)
NYSE Composite 7,522.91, +7.24 (0.10%)

Despite the bifurcated headline numbers, advancers defeated decliners, 3940-2434. New highs soared past new lows, 340-46. Never mind that it was the lowest volume day in six weeks.

NASDAQ Volume 1,660,682,375
NYSE Volume 3,536,505,250

As one might have guessed, oil was up, by $1.13, to $81.69. Gold was lower by 50 cents, to $1,325.10, and silver shed two pennies, to $23.29.

We're all aware that America isn't what it used to be, but it would be nice if some of it could be saved. By kicking the can further down the road, the congress and big business are assuring us that it will never, ever again resemble anything like it was when it was good.

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