Where life had no value, death, sometimes, had its price. That is why the bounty killers appeared. - For a Few Dollars More
“Tell me, isn’t a sheriff supposed to be courageous, loyal and, above all, honest?” - Man with No Name – For a Few Dollars More
Whenever I get an idea for an article I plan to keep it short and sweet. But it never seems to work out that way. Once I start typing, the articles tend to grow exponentially. It happened again with my attempt to make sense of how the United States of America managed to screw our finances up so badly, that an epic collapse is within view to people with their eyes open to facts and the truth. You don’t end up in the predicament we find ourselves in today due to a couple minor mistakes over a short time frame. It took thousands of horrible choices, colossal doses of delusion, a heaping of stupidity, and a mountain of denial over decades to put us on the brink of economic collapse. An unholy amalgamation of demographics, fiat currency, debt, taxes, power and greed have led us to this point. Next we experience collapse, revolution and ultimately, retribution.
Since I’ve identified four major rationales for our impending doom, I’ve decided to write a four part series that can be read in small doses, rather than one enormous article. I don’t want anyone to miss tonight’s episode of Dancing With the Stars, get distracted from the Royal Wedding preparations, or skip the best reality TV show ever – Ben Bernanke’s press conference, while reading an 8,000 word article about the end of America. The four part series will have a Clint Eastwood theme. For a Few Dollars More will address the Baby Boomer impact on America’s decline. A Fistful of Dollars will examine how the creation of the Federal Reserve and the income tax in 1913 set us on a path to ruin. Outlaw Josey Wales will scrutinize the looting of America by a small group of powerful, connected, super rich men lurking in the shadows, but pulling the strings on our puppet politicians. Lastly, Unforgiven will detail the impending collapse of our economic system and the retribution that will be handed out to the guilty.
Over the last few weeks there seems to be consensus among many financial bloggers, whose credibility is far more trustworthy than the corporate mainstream media, that the country is teetering on the verge of economic collapse due to the complete capture of the government, financial, regulatory, and media by a small group of oligarchs. They have also been described as the super rich, plutarchs, ruling elite, and scum sucking leeches. The bloggers that I have the utmost respect for, including Jesse, Charles Hugh Smith, Mike Shedlock, Yves Smith and Gonzalo Lira have all come to the logical conclusion the horrific economic situation of the country is a direct result of the greed, corruption, fraud, and plundering by a powerful connected group of rich financiers operating without fear of being brought to justice by the authorities.
While pondering the ruminations of these dedicated truth tellers, I was reminded of the Clint Eastwood Spaghetti Western For a Few Dollars More. The quotes above are representative of living in the USA today. There are supposed to be courageous, loyal and honest sheriffs that protect the citizens from crime, corruption and evil doers. But, just as we saw in the Old West of Clint Eastwood movies, the sheriffs are always corrupt and bought off by the evil cattle barons. In a world where life has no value and you can’t rely on law enforcement to protect your interests, the citizens eventually will need to turn to bounty hunters to take care of the bad guys. The bounty hunters of truth reside on the internet. They reside at Zero Hedge, Jesse’s Café Americain, Of Two Minds, Mish, Chris Martenson, and dozens of other anarchist websites. When you can’t trust your government, your bankers, your church, your media, or mega-corporate CEOs, you need to seek the truth where it can be found. The insightful bloggers who courageously print the truth on a daily basis have unanimously concluded that a small band of powerful elite have accumulated undue influence and control over this country, having brought it to the verge of economic collapse. How did this happen? Who is responsible? Why were they permitted to gain this power?
Boomers Come of Age
“If those in charge of our society – politicians, corporate executives, and owners of press and television – can dominate our ideas, they will be secure in their power. They will not need soldiers patrolling the streets. We will control ourselves.” – Howard Zinn
Whenever I direct any blame for our economic woes towards the Baby Boom generation they react as expected. They blame the GI Generation for creating the welfare state. They declare that Generation X and the Millenials are just as greedy and self centered as the Boomers. Boomers are great at blaming, ridiculing and acting pompously, while taking no responsibility for their actions and more importantly their inaction. This generation cannot avoid their responsibility for the state of affairs. They like to take credit for their stand against the Vietnam War and their protests against the man during the 1960s. They don’t like to take credit for turning into materialistic, greedy, selfish, short-term focused bastards. When a generation of 76 million people decides to go in a particular direction, the country will go in that direction. While blaming FDR and the GIs who stormed the beaches of Normandy for creating the unfunded Social Security and Medicare liabilities, the Boomers have been voting since the mid-1960s and have been in control of corporate America and the levers of government since the early 1980s.
The U.S. Congress is dominated by Baby Boomers today and has been dominated by this generation since the 1990s. The Senate has 60 Boomers out of 100, while the House of Representatives has 254 Boomers out of 435 members. Boomers occupied the White House from 1992 through 2008. They have had the political power and control of the agenda for two decades and have failed miserably. Rather than do what was best for the country for the long-term, they took the expedient, easy, vote getting route. Promise more than you could ever deliver and let future generations worry about the consequences. Not one true noble statesman has arisen from this generation of myopic, self centered “Me Generation” political hacks. Even as the country nears the precipice, they continue to address the great issues of the day with talking points supplied by other Baby Boomer PR maggots from Park Avenue. These weasels care not for the country, but worry only about poll numbers and the next election cycle. An apathetic public, dominated by the Baby Boom generation, has the attention span of a gnat. As long as they can make the lease payment on their Escalade, use one of their 15 credit cards at the Mall, be entertained by 600 cable TV stations, play with the latest iSomething, live in their McMansion for two years without making a mortgage payment and consume massive quantities of fast food, then any thoughts of future generations or civic duty are unnecessary. Live for today has been the rallying cry for the Boomer generation. Pot was their drug during the 1960s. Debt has been their drug since 1980.
The drug (debt) dealer for the Baby Boom generation has been the Wall Street mega-banks, coincidentally, run by Boomers. The entire corrupt financial industry is being run by Boomers. The CEOs, CFOs, and the thousands of Harvard MBA VPs that created the fraudulent derivative scheme to bilk billions from clueless municipalities, pension funds and American taxpayers are all Boomers. It is no coincidence that the great debt delusion began in the early 1980’s. Jim Kunstler captured the essence of Boomer transformation:
“The Baby Boomers came back from the land, clipped their pony tails, discovered venture capital, real estate investment trusts, securitization of “consumer” debt, and the Hamptons. Greed was good.”
The Boomer CEO hall of scam has been built on the brilliance and financial acumen of Lloyd (god’s work) Blankfein, Charlie (keep dancing) Prince, Jamie (friend of Obama) Dimon, and the king of the Boomers, Hank (the system is sound) Paulson. These mainstays of crony capitalism led the Boomer charge of greed, greed and more greed. The Baby Boomer generation has been the proverbial pig in a python working its way through the decades as presented below. By 1985, Boomers had entered the work force in full force with the entire generation between the ages of 25 and 42. It will be a great day when the python craps this pig of a generation out the other end.
It is not a coincidence the National Debt growth has far outstripped GDP growth since 1980. Boomers had been spoiled their whole lives and felt they deserved the goodies today while passing the bill to future generations. They voted for politicians who promised them more benefits, more programs, more subsidies, more tax breaks, more military adventures, and more pleasure. And this was “paid for” with more debt. Thirty five years of government debt declining as a percentage of GDP was reversed over the next thirty years starting in 1980, pushing it past the 90% tipping point in the last year. The country is over-indebted to the tune of $9 trillion on a current basis and $100 trillion on a long term accrual basis.
There is no better picture of Boomer decadence and myopia than an historical view of the national savings rate. The parents of the Boomers understood the meaning of sacrifice and investing in the future of the country. During World War II they bought US War Bonds to support the cause. From 1950 through 1985, the savings rate consistently ranged between 7% and 12%. Americans had this odd notion that if you saved more than you spent, you actually got ahead in life. Excess savings were used to invest in new plants and equipment that were used to produce goods and employ more Americans. By 1985, the Boomers considered these notions as quaint and old fashioned. The savings rate methodically declined until it went negative in 2006, just prior to the worldwide financial conflagration. Our inspirational Boomer president George (Mission Accomplished) Bush while waging two wars of choice, asked for the ultimate sacrifice from the Boomers. He solemnly urged them to buy a GM SUV with $0 down and 0% interest for 7 years, so we could defeat the terrorists. The Boomers who ran GMAC were more than happy to make loans to people with no income so they could “purchase” a $40,000 ostentatious gas guzzling hog. They were doing their patriotic duty for the good of the nation. It brings a tear to my eye just thinking about it.
The Boomers not only heeded George’s call, but they did him proud by buying 8,000 sq ft McMansions with $0 down and negative amortization ARMs. Luckily, the executives at the mortgage origination sweatshops were Boomers. They found no good reason to verify income or assets before loaning someone $600,000, because they knew their fellow Boomers at the rating agencies would rate the bundles of these toxic shit loans as AAA so the Boomers on Wall Street could sell them to greater fools. GMAC’s exemplary subprime mortgage arm – Ditech, did a bang up job getting migrant Mexican workers into $450,000 homes in California’s inland empire. As the tsunami of bad debt swept toward shore, delusional Boomers across the land borrowed $500 billion against the inflated value of their McMansions and installed granite counter tops, stainless steel appliances, home theatres, elegant patios, Olympic sized pools, and with the excess home equity, leased a BMW or two. The first devastating tsunami wave hit in 2008 and wiped out billions in faux Boomer wealth. Instead of learning a brutal lesson and reverting back to saving and frugality, the “never say sacrifice” Boomers ventured out to where the waves had subsided looking for more trinkets and treasures.
The next tsunami wave is on its way. The delusional Boomers will be surprised again.
The Boomer persona has been formed over the last five decades and the country will deal with the consequences for decades to come. The clean cut Beaver Cleaver children of the 1950s turned into the pot smoking Dobie Gillis of the 1960’s, then into the slimy Gordon Gekkos of the 1980s and ultimately into the eternal wealth seeking Gollums of today.
This Boomer debt orgy over the last thirty years would have made Caligula blush. Of course, none of this could have happened without the Creature from Jekyll Island. I will address this aspect of our fate in Fistful of Dollars – Part Two.
Now for the righteous indignation from the Boomers that think I have unfairly lumped them all together as one. Their reactions are predictable. Even though they have had the means, the power and the time to reverse the course of USS Titanic, they plowed full steam ahead into the abyss. The GI Generation is dead. Generation X doesn’t hold the reins of power. The Boomer generation needs to look in the mirror to recognize who is to blame. I’m sure there are a few good Boomers out there somewhere, but as a generation they have failed this country and our unborn generations miserably.