Thursday, October 27, 2011

Affluent Effluent

I almost titled this post "Greek Debt? Euro Crisis? What, Me Worry?"   But then the ironic alliteration of "Affluent Effluent" struck me as much more appropriate as I composed it.

Alfred E Neuman is famously quoted for the phrase "What, me worry?"  And I hear this alot from Americans regarding the current European financial crisis.  Greek debt, Italian bonds, Spanish debt, Irish debt, Portuguese debt... the entire inflated bubble of imaginary worth is getting close to popping.  The inherent evil of CDS (credit default swaps - where the rich take out insurance bets on losers), CDOs (collateral debt obligations, where the rich have packaged high risk debt into beautiful, delicious bundles of AAA rated debt [using credit agencies which they have paid off]) and plutocratic international banking is getting close to imploding, me thinks.

But again, why should I, a somewhat average American member of the 99% care if a bunch of bankers lose their shirts / take a hair cut / feel some pain from their really crappy investments in "financial instruments" created by MIT engineers who've bought into Larry Summers (and his despicable like) version of reality?  After all, they're getting what they deserve, right?  Nope.  Completely wrong.

I do not really understand how international finance schemes work in much detail.  I leave that to my friends who trade in crucibles and who are traditional pineapple practitioners - and the little I know about banking and finance I've picked up from my very smart and very patient friends.  But, I do have a Colbert-like "gut feel" for how Systems work.  As a practicing engineer for 2 dozen years, I've gotten a pretty good feeling of how well functioning systems work, and how to fix most things when they start to malfunction. 

Systems that are designed soundly with solid fundamentals and that are built using high quality products and materials and are documented thoroughly are much easier to fix, to tweak, to manipulate, to improve, to repair, to build upon and to salvage.  One very simple, very ubiquitous example of such a design, is a modern waster water sewage treatment system.  1000s of such systems are functioning well across North America, Europe, Australia, and a few in parts of Asia, parts of South America, and very few parts of Africa.  The pipes carry away the feces, urine, bath water, dish water, and wash water by gravity down to large settling ponds and treatment tanks where chemicals and microbes do very efficient work to convert nastiness into much less nasty effluent - and in some communities (like Flagstaff & San Antonio), into a non-potable irrigation & recreational water source.  In its component parts, its a very simple system, and has worked for more than a 100 years in many communities. 

The affluent rich, the shrinking middle class, and the poor all create the inputs into the system that result in effluent out of the system, and it all flows down-hill - gravity, though just a "theory" like evolution works in the real world, just like evolution works in the real world, regardless of anyone's belief system.  The affluent live far from the smells of the effluent, buffered by the middle class who live adjacent to the smells of the effluent adjacent poor neighborhoods (like my paternal grand mother's 2 bed room home [where she raised 5 children in the 50s] in East Chicago down the street from the EC Water Treatment plant was located before she died).  It's a basic fact, a very stark reality how the affluent have very effectively isolated themselves from the effluent they created.  Isolated geographically, economically, and in a olfactory sense as well.

So understanding how systems work, and understanding how resourceful and enterprising and the affluent 1% are, and knowing how it was the richest of the rich 1% who invented and propagated and facilitated these fictional financial schemes where credit was extended to entire nations the same way that credit was extended to the majority of my Phoenix neighbors whose homes were foreclosed in the last 3 years by the same banks run by the same geniuses who cling so dearly to derivatives...  seeing all this, it is not a quantum leap to see the European Financial crisis and say "yep, that's gonna hurt the regular citizen the hardest".  Goldman Sachs has massive amounts of funds invested in hedging their bets that Greece and Italy will default.  And Jamie Dimond still has Tim Geithner on speed dial, so those two peas-in-a-pod will make sure any European effluent not only doesn't touch Goldman, but that it won't get anywhere close enough to down wind for Goldman to smell it. 

The same goes for Shitty Bank, Well-Too-Far-To-Go, Chase-Yourself, and Skank of America.  Like Goldball Sacks, they will still give their "talented executives" mind boggling bonuses in the Q4 2011 Hanukkah / Christmas season.  They will still slowwwwwwwwwwwwwly process HARP refinancing at a glacial pace, denying consideration of short sales and refusing to write down any principal on any residential mortgage loan anywhere.  They will not only raise ATM usage charges, but they'll nickle and dime their poorest customers, who have the lowest deposits in their accounts, with Romney-esque fees, penalties, and other regressive but profit-stream strategies.  They'll claim they need to do this because of the global economic crisis (which they created), and it will be the average citizen who will pay the price.

There are no effective regulators anymore.  There's no prosecutions, there's no penalties, there's no teeth in the financial laws and regulations on the books currently.  Republicans want fewer regulations and weaker rules than what we have now.  Perhaps sometime during President / Emperor / Great Leader Rick Perry's 2nd or 3rd term, in a post apocalyptic American land scape governed by martial law, average citizens will look back at the "good old times" prior to 2001, when you could own your own home, use credit universally, not have to wear a bullet proof vest, not have to barter for food, gasoline, or ammunition, and could speak in English rather than broken Mandarin or Marklar.  The affluent will make sure their gated communities, guarded and walled compounds, and island resorts are well isolated from any and all of the effluent they're generating and the system they've engineered to keep them separate and very unequal from the steaming masses. 
I hope this serves as a "Clarifier" to all (and look where the output of the "Clarifier" goes!)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.