Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Confused by the bailout?

Maybe this will help. Sarah Grillo at Vermont Commons explains it to us in plain English.

Here are the essential points:

Letting us spend the money ourselves (through tax cuts) makes more sense than providing lump sums, because we are more likely to spend them when they are added to our paycheck, than when we get a larger check to take to the bank.

However, if we take a short term view of economic recovery, we will lose sight of the deeply entrenched issues that led to our current plight:

"The problems with our economy, in actuality," Ms. Grillo writes, "are not limited just to bad decisions by investors, or the collapse of short term bubbles in the housing market or dot-coms. The problems are foundational, and run far deeper than most people can possibly imagine."


* More than 50 years of U.S. Government manipulation of statistics to mask the reality. Her example of "hedonic pricing" for the Consumer Price Index is particularly interesting.

* As I have mentioned several times in this space, the Federal Reserve has been creating money out of thin air -- or if you insist, backed by debt, which in essence is the same thing:

"Our debt-based money system must continually expand, as new money must be printed to cover the interest payments on the government's outstanding debt; it is an exponential system by its very design. And exponential systems always reach a point of peaking, which is simply a rule of living on a finite planet that many people seem to think we can avoid... As strong and as popular as it may be, it is manufactured in an unsustainable process, and moreover, with our country in debt in the tens of trillions, and our money losing value exponentially via inflation, it only seems realistic that the dollar may, some day, become worthless."

She urges us to check out Jim Kunstler's take on this phenomena, known as “peak money”: http://jameshowardkunstler.typepad.com/clusterfuck_nation/2007/11/peak-money.html.

* Finally, she says our biggest problem is our "aversion to sustainability." To understand how our monetary system is, in fact, unsustainable, she points us to The Crash Course at http://www.chrismartenson.com/, an online PowerPoint presentation that does an excellent job of breaking down our economic crisis step by step and tying it into other problems like the peaking of our energy resources.

"So will Obama's plan work? It may mean a few extra dollars in my pocket, for sure, but I think it is a band-aid on a dying patient. Realistically, I think the best bet for anyone now is to buy gold, learn a trade, and invest in local resources. Which, as I see it, isn't such a bad alternative at all."

The spiritual benefits of community may well cause us to decide one day that the adjustment was well worth the pain.

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