Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Stranded

So let me get this straight; there’s this dying paranoid-lunatic dictator who’s passing the scepter to his twenty-seven year old son – and to show the outside world, as well as his subjects, that junior is every bit as screwed up as the old man, he drops a few dozen artillery shells onto his neighbor’s island…

“Outside world” is a term painfully literal to your average North Korean – and while I am anything but an authority on their conflict with the South, regardless, one has to know that a great deal of envy exists when worlds-apart realities separate folks on either side of a given set of tracks. In this case, a certifiably insane ruler peers over the fence and sees a people bustling in commerce, fattened, in his mind, by hotteok and whipped-creamed cappuccinos – while his people, growing evermore gaunt, feast on fear of a regime that’ll crush the infidel who shimmies a tree to take a peak next door.

Sheltered as they may be, the North Korean people are all too aware of the prosperity residing to the south, but I’ll wager that they (some) are nonetheless proud, fear of their leadership notwithstanding, to be Northerners. In their view, sadly, the Southerners enjoy cushier lives by virtue of their sins – which somehow allows for the murders of two soldiers and as many civilians… They see their neighbors as insubordinate gluttons on a path to self-destruction – “they should not be allowed such freedoms, they need strong leadership, they must yield their personal ambitions in favor of the collective good”…

Again, a Korean conflict scholar I’m not, yet I can easily apply to said topic what would be my understanding of the collectivist mindset – a mindset that too many of us seem, albeit subtly (and unwittingly), predisposed to. The socialist-at-heart believes someone or entity other than himself is ultimately responsible for his lot in life. And when his neighbor steps beyond that paradigm and exhibits the tenacity that would suggest otherwise, i.e., becomes wealthy by way of hard work and ingenuity, he cries foul and demands that the government impose a limit to which any measure of his neighbor’s fortune in excess of be confiscated and distributed among those “less-fortunate” (i.e., those with a lesser worth-ethic).

While the Korean situation may not be the best segue to my message herein (in that we are not oppressed, nor are we communists), if class-envy is indeed at the crux of Pyongyang’s plague, my point would be that we, in that respect only, are not all that different than your everyday North Korean.

You see somewhere along that bumpy road to autonomy – the transition from juvenility to adulthood – folks (some) get stranded in a state of arrested development, where independence is merely a convenience to be abandoned at the slightest provocation. A state whose citizens demand the benefits of adulthood while living like children (I believe it’s called the “entitlement mentality”). A state a lot like California now that I think about it…

As it relates to society and economy, this underdeveloped state equates to terms like socialism, Keynesianism, ignorance and stupidism…

The stranded politician would blame our recessions, asset bubbles and huge deficits on China. While the adult politician would blame such occurrences to some degree on cyclicality (recessions), but to a far greater degree on faulty policy – even when “faulty policy” comes from his own party…
I guess then, alas, the term adult-politician would be your classic oxymoron…

The stranded consumer facing home foreclosure would blame the bank for his woes – even though he signed the mortgage app stating he made $20k/month. While the adult consumer would accept responsibility, in that he willingly signed the bogus app (although the latter would require maturation to adulthood sometime between signing the app and missing his first payment).

Even the stranded consumer who had the stated income, yet facing foreclosure, would still blame the banks – for they caused the recession that cost him his job (or pay cut). While the adult with the income would accept responsibility, being that he put himself in a position that would not last a recession…

The stranded consumer on unemployment paid into it during those eleven weeks at Wal-Mart and therefore deserves the ninety-nine weeks of benefits – and has no interest whatsoever in going back to work until he gets every dime coming to him (I imagine the jobs numbers will improve when {if} Uncle Sam stops extending unemployment benefits). While the adult wants to get his ass back to work and off the government dole as soon as possible…

And lastly, to perhaps the very root of the problem, the stranded parent whose capable kid is flunking History blames the teacher, has his child switched to a new class and bribes a trip to Toys R Us when junior gets back to a C minus. While the adult parent whose capable kid is flunking History knows the little sucker’s screwing off and (lovingly) grounds his ass till he starts showing some real improvement – it’s called personal responsibility… Yeah, believe me, I know, there are a few bad-apple teachers out there – in which case we already know what the stranded parent will do. But the adult parent might very well say “welcome to the real world Johnny, let’s learn how to deal with a less-than-rosy situation (and of course if we determine your teacher is truly a nightmare I’ll see if I can’t perform a miracle and get the tenured Freddy-Krueger’s ass fired – and you’ll switch classes in the meantime {still doesn’t make you a victim}). Bottom line, I love you Johnny, and therefore I’m going to teach you self-reliance!”

Now you may believe, justifiably by the way, that the government is leveraging our children’s future – leaving them to contend with higher interest rates and inflation. But please don’t let your kids hear you say it – lest you strand them in a helpless victim mentality. If our youngsters grow to become self-reliant capitalist-minded adults, I assure you, they’ll do just fine…

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

November 24th Market/Economic Report (video)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

November 17, 2010 Market/Economic Report (video)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Brains to Burn

In their book Freakonomics, the rather curious duo of Steven Levitt, an economist, and Stephen Dubner, a journalist, tell us

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

November 10, 2010 Market/Economic Report (video)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

What A Difference A Tuesday Makes

I would have bet you a month ago, heck, a few days ago, that, come January 1, we

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

November 3rd Market/Economic Report (video)