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Walden Pond

Being a Chronicle of Man against Men

Walden Pond

Being a Chronicle of Man against Men

Murder, Hysteria, Genosuicide and the black-holed Prime Minister of Portugal

I spent several hours last night wondering about whether to write yet another post on the four pillars that mark my compass - the suicidal demise of Western society; amplified functional illiteracy at work through the internet like, very literally, a virus (in the sense that Neal Stephenson in his novel "Snow Crash", and Laurie Anderson in the same-titled song, have described it) that cripples any possible recovery; regressive leftism as the driving engine of the first two; and why I will always prefer Batman to Superman, in his grimmest, darkest, more brutal and primeval aspects.

Then, like any good lab rat, I set out to update my samples. And, upon finding a spike on the graph, decided to abstain from further comment. The moment was a sort of butterfly-effect driven epiphany for me. The portuguese prime-minister, a corrupt and flabby-necked windbag whose vacuity can only rival that of his electorate, claimed (criticizing his predecessor, who is also a socialist, but of a different sect) that schoolchildren have been, and I quote, "forced to take tests on their final terms only to serve an agenda of selective racial purification".

Upon reading this, and coupled with the slaughterhouse-like hubbub raised among feminists, liberal overeducated nerds, and every other life form on the hyena taxonomy branch following Trump's remarks on abortion, I just poured a shot of bourbon, gulped it down, and went to bed where I lay reading Stephen Baxter's "Iron winter" until sleep overcame my senses.

The only thing on my mind was this post from a month ago:

http://www.safehaven.com/article/40540/no-way-out

Stay safe out there.

 

.

posted at 09:39

's a bitch.

"It's A Xanax World,"

by Bill Gross

 

The Romans gave their Plebian citizens a day at the Coliseum, and the French royalty gave the Bourgeoisie a piece of figurative “cake”, so it may be true to form that in the still prosperous developed economies of 2016, we provide Fantasy Sports, cellphone game apps, sexting, and fast food to appease the masses. Keep them occupied and distracted at all costs before they recognize that half of the U.S. population doesn’t go to work in the morning and that their real wages after conservatively calculated inflation have barely budged since the mid 1980’s. Confuse them with demagogic and religious oriented political candidates to believe that tomorrow will be a better day and hope that Ferguson, Missouri and its lookalikes will fade to the second page or whatever it’s called these days in new-age media. Meanwhile, manipulate prices of interest rates and stocks to benefit corporations and the wealthy while they feast on exorbitantly priced gluten-free pasta and range-free chicken at Whole Foods, or if even more fortunate, pursue high rise New York condos and private jets at Teterboro. It’s a wonderful life for the 1% and a Xanax existence for the 99. But who’s looking – or counting – even at the ballot box. November 2016 will not change a thing – 8 years of Hillary or 8 years of a non-Hillary. Same difference. Central bankers, Superpacs, and K street lobbyists are in control. Instead of cake, the 49.5% (males) will just have to chomp on their Carl’s Jr. hamburger and dream of a night with 23-year-old Kate Upton lookalikes that show them how to eat it during Super Bowl commercials. And if that’s too sexist, then Carl’s is substituting six-pack hunks instead of full-breasted models to appease the other 49.5% (females). It’s a Xanax society. We love it. But I kid my readers – (that’s what comedians say on TV when they approach an edge). Kidding aside, however, if the 99 think they’ve got it good (bad) now, just wait 10 or 20 more years until their bills really come due. Of course by then, the 1% likely won’t be doing so well either, but there’s the hope that each and every one of them (us/me) can sell before the deluge. I speak specifically though to liabilities associated with the Boomer generation: healthcare, private pensions, Social Security and the unestimable costs of global warming, but let me leave the warming of the planet out of it for now. Let me try to convince you with some hard, cold facts, many of which are U.S. oriented but which apply as well to much of the developed world, because we’re mostly all getting older together. Demography rules. Explaining this demographic countdown requires an impolitic concession that the world’s population is gradually aging, some at a faster rate than others (Japan, Italy, Taiwan!) but mostly in developed vs. undeveloped countries. And it is the elderly that require more services and expenses than newborns, although at first blush it would seem that an infant in diapers requires more attention and healthcare than a 70-year-old retiree. Not really. To focus on some U.S. centric mathematical realities, several years ago Mary Meeker in a 500 page, softbound edition entitled “USA Inc.” put together a series of U.S. Treasury and other government reports that outlined just how dire America’s future demographic is in terms of financial liabilities. It is one thing to put readers to sleep with a 2030 forecast for aging boomers, as shown in Chart 1 but another to use the government’s own present value of these debts as of 2016. If financial market observers seem aghast at current Greek or Puerto Rican debt traps, they would surely take a double dose of Xanax when confronted with this: Fact – The U.S. government has current outstanding debt of approximately $16 Trillion or close to 100% GDP. The present value, however of Medicaid ($35 trillion), Medicare ($23 trillion), and Social Security ($8 trillion) promised under existing program totals $66 trillion or another 400% of GDP. We are broke and don’t even know it, or to return to my opening analogy, we are having our cake, eating it at the same time and believing that a new cellphone app will be invented in the near future to magically deliver more of the same. Not gonna happen folks. Some politicians like Paul Ryan who argue for balanced fiscal budgets are intelligent sounding but relatively clueless. “Austerity – if not now, then when?”, he would argue in Reaganesque twitter. “Let’s slow down or even stop the inexorable clicking of the debt clock: 16 trillion, 17 trillion, 18 trillion”…he would add. Well yes, every little bit helps, Mr. Ryan, but the fact of the matter is (a great political phrase, is it not?) that reducing the growth rate of current government debt does little to help what in essence is a demographic not a financial problem: too few Millennials to take care of too many Boomers. Social Security “lock boxes” or Medicare/Medicaid “trust funds” which in essence represent “pre-funded” liability systems, cannot correct this demographic imbalance, because financial assets represent a “call” on future production. If that production could possibly be saved like squirrels ferreting away nuts for a long winter, then Treasury bonds or purchasing corporate stocks might make some sense. But they can’t. Future healthcare for Boomer seniors can only be provided by today’s Millennials and even doctors yet to be born. We cannot store their energy today for some future rainy day. Nor can we save food, transportation or entertainment for anything more than a few years forward. Each of those must be provided by a future generation of workers for the use of retired Boomers. And as Chart 1 points out, the ratio of retirees to workers – the dependency ratio – soars from 25 retirees for every worker to 35 over the next 10 years or so. There’s your problem, and neither privatization nor any goodly number of government bonds deposited in the Social Security “lock box” can solve it. While these paper assets may “pay” for goods and services, their value will be market adjusted in future years to exactly match the quantity of things we buy, and that quantity will be substantially a function of the available workforce and the price they command for their services. This is another way of saying that the value of Treasury bonds and even private pension held stocks will be marked down in price as they are sold to pay for future goods and services, and that the price of these goods and services will be marked up (inflation) to justify their reduced demographic supply. Productivity gains are often advanced as a solution but productivity gains have been shrinking in recent years, and even so, employed workers cannot be expected to hand over future advances to retirees without a fight. Having more babies would also turn the trick, but at the moment, making fewer seems to be the going trend. Investment implications? Well it is true that if much of the developing world is younger demographically (think India), then developed nations could and should transfer an increasing percentage of their financial assets to emerging markets to help foot the demographic bills back home. Long-term then, as opposed to currently, think about increasing your asset allocation to the developing world. It’s also commonsensical that if higher Millennial wages are the probable result of a shortage of healthcare workers relative to Boomer requirements, then an investor should go long inflation and short fixed coupons. U.S. 10-year TIPS at 80 basis points seem like a good hedge in that regard. And of course in terms of specific equity sectors, healthcare should thrive, while liability handcuffed financial corporations such as insurance companies as well as the bonds of underfunded cities and states such as Chicago and Illinois, should not. Other countries have similar burdens. The Financial Times reports that the UK pension industry faces a 20-year wait until they might have enough cash to meet their liabilities in 2036. Until then, they cannot. In general, it seems demographically commonsensical that Boomers have in part been responsible for asset appreciation during the heyday of their productive years and that now, drip by drip, year by year, they will need to sell those assets to someone or some country in order to pay their own bills. Asset returns will therefore be lower than historical norms, especially because interest rates are close to 0% in developed countries. Demographics may not rule absolutely, but they likely will dominate investment markets and returns for the next few decades until the Boomer phenomena fades away. The 1% – in addition to the 99 – will need extra doses of Xanax, or additional slices of cake, to cope in the next few decades. Let the games begin.

posted at 14:27

Church of the Lesser (sic) Days

watch a horde of portuguese journalists harassing pizza guy as he tries to deliver an order to former PM Socrates, who is on house arrest awaiting trial for suspicion of corruption and other everyday european periphery misdemeanors #smalltown #baseline #imbeciles #churchofthelesserdays #media #portugal #socrates #holyfuck #priceless https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QA_rND5FwB0
posted at 10:10

Empty Stations

After spending a week in a real city and in a real country, first thing after touching back down on this simulacrum of a nation, the welcoming card pops up: a pair of human-lumpers (the sort of shoremen that specialize at docking humans like crates), an apparent cross between child and orangutan, gesticulating, hollering; not-so-immediately thereafter, a single queue, served by a single customs official, and the direly familiar protraction until papers are cleared.

 

Up ahead, past the taxi line - the same taxis that I no longer use, since it became commonplace to be picked by drivers doing over 100 along Lisbon's avenues, and/or flat drunk, turning a different color when gently told to proceed on a 4km ride down to Areeiro, as if every passenger who happened to burst out of LIS were somehow supposed to be headed 50km away to Alverca or Fogueteiro - the subway station takes me in. The Airport Subway Station, which took decades to build and which - lest we forget - would now serve, should José Sócrates' government had its way and deleted this airport, as a hub between the city center and no man's land. The very same government run by Sócrates, the former Lisbon mayor (and current socialist wannabe premier) and the sinister likes of Mário Lino and countless others who are still around.

 

Along the subway's red line, the stations are empty of People, about whose paramount significance everyone is now talking. Except at Oriente station, close to the purportedly modern and cool Parque das Nações, no more than a handful of People boarded or left the train.

 

Fine tile works, marble halls all and sundry, archways rising ten metres overhead, a manifold of stairways and escalators, most of the latter now ground to a halt for lack of maintenance and cash-strapped treasuries - mirroring what was done across the entire country in the 1990s, in full blown EU-funded free ride furor, and soon down that same road in full blown euro-consumer credit euphoria.

 

recharging station in the middle of nowhere (concept by some former govt official now behind bars)

 

Roads, speedways and highways where a scant few are now seen to drive, traffic circles topped with an assorted statuary bonanza, swimming pools, urban beaches, interpretive centres, "museological nuclei", an entire paraphernalia of so-called social equipment - many of which of an utterly useless conception, many of which simply abandoned in the meantime.

 

Such is my contemporary perception of this country, akin to an immense empty station. We do, however, retain savoury foodstuffs and gastronomy, and in truth, a more than fair price for our quality wines. And the Sun. Yet, I find myself at odds with the Sun, for it does not provide my livelihood, nor can it raise my son, and it most certainly will not foot the bill for this year's IRS as it awaits for me to take it from our mailbox - an entire salary's worth to lay down at the gentle behest of the State, in tribute to the Common Good. Whatever.

 

As for us, all those to whom this or that reason made bound to stay, then let us hold out and wait while doing our best to nurture the ones who will inherit the Debt, showing them a different future out there.

posted at 09:25

What fucking coup, you morons?

Arguing with Twitter hashtags is like urinating into a hurricane, and a particularly stupid and self-righteous hurricane at that. But sometimes, you just have to do these things anway, and dry yourself off afterwards. So here goes: no, this is not a coup. #thisisacoup has been trending in various parts of the world for several hours over the latest Greek talks. Let’s skim over the awkward fact that Twitter and public opinion are not the same thing and deal with the argument – such as it is – that lies beneath the hysteria and hyperbole. A coup is what happens when a group of people, foreign or domestic, seize power in a country by force or coercion. I’ll allow a bit of poetic licence in political conversation about Greece, so I won’t bother with the literalist argument that it’s not a coup because there are no tanks or guns or men in uniforms involved. Instead, the argument seems to boil down to suggesting that because the Greek government is about to sign up to policies advocated by foreign governments and international organisations, Greek democracy has been thwarted. After all, the Greek people voted against something like the proposed deal in a referendum last week. Isn’t it undemocratic for that view not to prevail here? Here’s a quick Politics 101 lesson for the #thisisacoup mob: Greece is not a direct democracy. It is a representative one. That means that the Greek people elect their governments to make decisions on their behalf. Referendums are not binding in Greece; they simply advise the government of the day on the views of the people. (That’s set out in the Greek constitution, a set of rules put in place by elected Greek politicians in 1975 after the country, er, got rid of its military rulers.) To repeat: the Greek people elect their governments. Those governments do things, things like spending, taxing and borrowing. If the Greek people don’t like those things, they can sack their government and get another one. The things that Greek governments do, things like spending, taxing and borrowing, have consequences. One of those consequences is that Greece has run out of money and needs to get more money from someone else. Hence the negotiations in Brussels, where the people who will provide that money are asking for conditions before giving them that money. Are those conditions extreme, draconian and potentially counterproductive? Quite possibly, yes. Is Greece under enormous pressure to accept them, and facing horrible consequences if it says no? Oh yes: the pressure is vast, the consequences truly terrible. And are the negotiations slanted against Greece, because Germany has more money and political clout within the EU than Greece? Yes. But so what? Germany is a bigger, richer country than Greece. That’s just a fact of life. Welcome to the real world, kids. And while we’re on the subject of Germany, can I just suggest that the “voice of the people” argument cuts both ways here. Angela Merkel and her government are answerable to the German people, whose taxes are on the line in this deal. The Chancellor is doing the job she holds in the Germany democractic system, and she’ll be held accountable for her actions by German politicians and voters through that system. Very few of the #thisisacoup crowd seem to be worried that the sovereign will of the German people is being ignored in the Greek talks, even though it almost certainly is: a referendum in Germany would very likely see German voters seeking even tougher conditions on Greece, or immediate expulsion from the Eurozone. When the pious hashtag brigade care as much for the Germans’ popular sovereignty as they do for the Greeks’, they’ll be worth listening to. Instead, they seem to prefer childish and nasty references to the Second World War. On this point, I’d like to briefly set aside any pretence of courtesy or respect of the views of others and say this: if you compare the actions of the democratic German government led by Angela Merkel to those of Nazi Germany, you are not just an idiot but a hateful, small-minded and bigoted idiot. Yes, Greece is under a lot of pressure to accept another bailout, and some of the conditions being attached to that bailout are stupidly harsh. But that is not the same thing as Greece being compelled by force to accept. If the Greek people do not like the deal that their current government is about to accept, they can sack that government and get another one, one that might chose to withdraw from the deal and pursue other policies, policies which would have consequences of their own. This is not a coup. Anyone who thinks it is should grow up and join the real world.

posted at 13:59

A Translation of Supermarket Queues

a collection of early morning tweets on a perfectly normal trading day, hours from the referendum which will probably see the victory of consumerism and crony-politics over the freedom we once had, before shopping malls took over playing street football in the evening as our leading hobby. 


before the € replaced national currencies, countries like portugal and greece produced food, machinery, clothing and shortages were unheard of.

when we joined the EU, and later the EZ, real work was replaced by bureaucratic, paper-shifting "job openings", specially State sector.

the essential was made obsolete, and the accessory was made essential. suddenly, everyone found it normal to have 200 yogurt varieties, 

a new car every other year, two week vacations in the Far East, countless options of useless goods, none of which were locally produced

and merrily we went along with the bandwagon, dumbing down our kids, accommodating a decadent and dependent lifestyle, trading reality 

for a perpetual, cash-induced stupor that is having its peak LaLa-Land as we see a slow death unfold to liberty, objective reasoning, 

and most ominously, demography. in portugal, the net population loss is 1% y/y, based on infertilty (people having more cats than kids)

emigration (with the State and satellites taken over by every crony and his nephew, the private sector is at a choke point) which in turn

will burst the many bubbles afflicting us: 3.5 million pensioners and 1.5 million public employees for fewer than 1.5M PRODUCTIVE taxpayers

now we see the arguments in favor of how the sacred euro , at least, may grant us another ten generations of this zombified condition, and

we think, fuck, but didn't we have a decent enough standard of living before all this shit came about? where have all the bailout € gone?

so anyone preferring to remain an accessory to the suppression of entire cultures and their replacement by the Maoist relativity of Brussels

by all means, be my guest, go live in france, belgium, holland or anywhere everything is normalized from toilet seats to pet psychology

just don't make me wake up every fucking day to your rainbow hysteria, and your cowardly addiction to free money coming from german pockets.

i don't care if syriza is left, right or schizophrenic. i don't care if the previous greek govts stole every euro. that is irreversible. 

however, the future is not decided. and beyond ideologies, beyond anachronical issues like "class struggle" or "nationalism", there is

something much more important: to bring down the rule of the all-encompassing nanny SuperState and to make people return to depend solely

on themselves, on what is real, tangible, produceable. to quell the rise of moral relativism and the damping of traditional values & ethics

syriza (by mere happenchance) can accomplish this. any country leaving the EU and kicking the right dominoes can accomplish this. rant over.

posted at 08:49

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