Friday, October 3, 2008

Blasting the financial elite

Back on May 27 I posted a comment, actually more of a rant, to this article on CBS Marketwatch.

These Wall Street shenanigans have me in a ranting mood so I'm going to repost it here:

"In my humble opinion, we are caught between: 1) the rock of oil depletion, meaning that cheap energy is gone for good (while vast resources remain, they cannot be extracted quickly or cheaply enough to lower prices,) 2) the hard place of global warming (we cannot afford to continue burning fossil fuel at current rates without frying the planet,) 3) the knife to the gut of unsustainable agriculture (the Green revolution relied on fossil fuel derived fertilizer and crops bred for that input,) 4) the gun to the head of Islamic extremism (again, in my humble opinion, it is fundamental to Civilization that words be answered with words, and hits be answered with hits; the extremists persistently answer words with death threats and bombs; we must stand against this. Beware anyone who is convinced they KNOW how to MAKE a heaven on earth, and justify atrocious means by that end.) Most political affiliations make light of at least two of these four, I find them all compelling concerns. The Fed's massive "liquidity infusions" (money printing) may be necessary to prevent immediate collapse, but they are not sufficient. Issues 1-3 require us to transform the entire physical basis of our civilization. By us I mean all the bottom-up searchers, not the top-down planners. The recession is an indication that the economy is focusing on the wrong things. Just guessing here, but I suspect we need less airlines and more railroad, less croupiers and more farmers, less personal injury lawyers and more nut tree breeders. I beg the government: no Marshall Plan, no Apollo Program, no Manhattan Project. Just set the big picture goals, free us by 20% and we will find the wedges, the silver buckshot, the silver bolos, to save our towns and our country. If you, our elected representatives, were of the generation that authored those grandiose proposals, you might have some credibility, but you are not. We have only ourselves to blame for electing twits whose best efforts are brain-dead, DOA ideas like, outlawing high gasoline prices, suing OPEC sovereign nations in US courts, and subsidizing corn ethanol. Your greatest service at this point would be, as Clint Eastwood's Harry Callahan might say, to know your limitations. Talk to the geophysicists, and get us on the right glide path - how many parts per million carbon dioxide, how many barrels of oil per day. Let us work out the details. As for our vaunted masters of the financial universe, I say to Alan Greenspan: forget about it, stop trying to defend your legacy, you will be reviled in history as the architect of the housing bubble, who seduced us into borrowing a trillion dollars to build energy-sucking housing in the early 2000's when the end of cheap energy was credibly predicted in Scientific American in 1998, based on fifty years of petroleum geology. I say to Ben Bernanke, dude, for ten years I socked away fifteen percent into the 401k like they said. Thank you, I think, for not trashing the dollar to where I'm much below break-even, I know you're in a tough spot. To the mutual fund industry I say, let me get this straight, if I'm understanding Jack Bogle, Warren Buffett, and Paul Farrell correctly, suppose the economy grows by 1.5 % in a given year, you guys have all the assets under management, and your fee is 1.5 % of assets per year. Therefore the Wall Street cut of all the wealth created in the economy that year is 1.5/1.5 = 100%, that is to say, all of it, and the Main Street cut is 0%. Do I have that about right? You want all the money? I think everyone from Lou Dobbs to James Carville would tell you, you've got a choice, you can let the middle class live, or you can spend so much on walled compounds and private security that 2015 upper class will feel like 1965 middle class. Your choice, Masters of the Universe, what do you do? What do you do?"

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