The longest recession in modern history is biting deep. Telltale signs can be seen all over. Wifi channels are shaky, cell phone calls get dropped, cheap computer parts ruin your laptop, and phony "eco" bulbs die long before their time.
Long-term investment is down in the United States, Europe, and Japan. In Virginia and Maryland, trees are falling on power lines for lack of preventive maintenance, and the newsies babble about global warming causing those weird thunderstorms that nobody's ever seen before. But the real explanation is simple: things are falling apart for lack of long-term maintenance. Preventive maintenance that should have been done three or four years ago never happened. Fixing breakdowns costs more than prevention, so costs are actually going up. This is Jimmy Carter's Misery Index come back to life.
Your guvmint -- not at work.
I refuse to believe that the State of Maryland, with thousands of highway cops, transportation workers, gas and electrical workers, and emergency crews, all carrying cell phones, could not figure out where the power was out. The authorities had to know, but the public wasn't told. A week after the mess started, a private company finally put a map of the affected areas on the web so people could reorganize their lives.
I have never seen Americans look so fatalistic. Millions of people without light and air conditioning, right outside Washington, D.C.? Shrug.
It's a long, long recession for those who are hurting bad, and for the rest of us, it means a gradual degradation in the way things work. Quality suffers first, because price competition forces producers to cut corners somewhere in the supply chain. That expensive eco-bulb that was going to last several years burned out in a just few weeks, and no, it's not your wiring.
It's the economy, stupid!
Welcome to the capital strike, which isn't some cartoon conspiracy by fat, cigar-smoking capitalists rubbing their hands in glee while people lose their jobs. No. The capital strike is all the people, the banks and pension funds, the rich and the working poor, the homeowners going under, all those who would be earning, spending, and saving if the economy were humming. Storm flags have been flying over the markets for four years, and now they may have to cope with four more years. The election looks 50-50, and nobody is going to gamble a billion dollars on a toss-up.
Welcome to the Great Obamanation.
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