Friday, June 24, 2011

Mid-Year Global Status Re-Cap Update

“The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable.”
-John Kenneth Galbraith

 Much has happened in the first half of 2011 and if the second half turns out to be anything like the first half, well then fasten your seatbelts.

Let's quickly look at where we stand in our global situation at the midway point of this year.

"He's got the whooole world..."
So far we have seen the little Euro-state of Greece exponentially devolve as their country sinks further and further into debt, The result of this has been massive protests as citizens demonstrate violently and non-violently against austerity measures being imposed on them by their corrupt and lavishly spending government officials and their banker budddies.
Their country urgently needs another 12 billions euro bailout in order to prevent a default on previous debt, accepting this bailout will further indebt their nation and at best buy some 'valuable time' until the next due date of un-payable debt comes swaggering into town.

Much of Greek debt is on the books of German banks who are currently leveraged at a rate of 32-1. It's important to note that when Lehman Brothers went bust in 2008 they were leveraged at 31-1…hmmm !?!

Other nations such as Ireland, Spain, Portugal and even Italy are not far off in terms of their economic woes…watch out, if Greece goes down, then TSHTF!!! (H stands for Hit and F stands for Fan)

The U.S.A. has reached it's debt ceiling of 14.3 trillions dollars and has only enough fiscal manoeuvrability to delay this impending crisis until August 2nd.

Earthquakes and Tsunamis are wreaking havoc along with a few Volcanos, Tornados and Floods thrown in for good measure. Australia, New Zealand, China, Chile, Japan, Iceland, and The U.S. win the booby prize as this year's countries of geologic/ climactic misfortune (am I forgetting anyone?)

On the war front, Libya has gone from a stable dictatorship to 'hell on earth' in a few short months, as innocents in that country are caught in a power struggle between a megalomaniac and the insatiable petroleum appetite of corporate friendly governments.

Across the Arab world we have seen dictatorships fall to the will of 'pro-democracy' movements. From Tunisia, to Egypt and now Syria, Arab peoples have reached their frustration limits as to their inability to affect positive change in their lives.

In certain cases, the west has shown 'support' for these movements and in other cases such as in Bahrain and Yemen, well, not so much!

Of course there is war, and now the rhetoric is being ramped up in the devolving state of Pakistan, as many there fear that this 'Unclear War' could lead to a 'Nuclear War'.

 The price of Oil is holding steady well above 100$ a barrel, and any hopes of economic recovery will be certainly taxed by this unforgiving and pernicious reality. Gold and silver continue to perform well on markets as a hedge against diminished currencies, yet the Dodd-Frank bill in the U.S. is said to make over the counter trading of these commodities illegal as of July 15th 2011…is there anything to be read into this?

 The biggest news by far has been the Fukushima disaster in Japan, eclipsing last years celebrity spectacle of the BP gulf oil spill. The situation is increasingly looking hopeless as officials there are having a 'Chernobyl moment'. They are creating vast reservoirs of radioactive water waste attempting to cool the reactor fuel rods and prevent them from burning a hole right through the centre of the earth.
Now throw in a few scandals like those involving a politician's wiener and lewd Twitter images, Charlie Sheen, and the 'growing pains' of Justin Bieber, and the doomsday scenarios the Mayan supposedly predicted for 2012 don't seem so far fetched after all.

Dirty CT  June 2011

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Zero Percent Down... Syndrome

Yep, zero % down - just for you!
The general production forecast consensus from the auto-god-world for the amount of vehicles manufactured for 2012 is set to be 78 million 'units' (i.e. all manner of cars and trucks worldwide).

Such a figure is a staggering one to digest (to say the least). It would appear that only countries like China or India can compete with such a production scale, however more in terms of population growth than automotive production output. 78 million far surpasses the yearly population growth of most Western 'civilized' and techno/petro economically driven countries. So, what might that mean? Does it mean that out of some bizarre, unfortunate and twisted socio-economic set of circumstances, decisions and fate, we (i.e. the 'Western peoples') find ourselves producing an insane quantity of automobiles compared to the amount of new human lives or the number of new trees planted in one calandar year?

In other words, have we compromised life in general or the sacred importance of propagating life (human included) for the sake of manufacturing, financing, selling, owning and operating cars?

The automobile, more than anything else in the West, and specifically here in 'good 'ol North-America', is not only a symbol of wealth, success and personal 'freedom' (yawn...) as we already know, but in more recent times has reached levels of deity worship (with only cell phones trailing behind a close 2nd place). The ubiquitous Car (and it's twin companion at arms, the petro empire) seems to be a non-negotiable entity. To suggest a better way, one that is somewhat scaled back... well, don't even go there! The response is likely to be: "How dare we criticize or oppose any issues related to cars and oil production especially regarding any negative human and environmental impacts caused by this untouchable industry and economy both on global and local scales. How dare we! Who do we think we are anyway?!"
Oh, oops, sorry, I almost forgot to add our friends the bankers/financiers to the list. What, you may ask is the link between bankers and the production of 78 million new vee-hic-als? Well, it might have something to do with the promise of owning a new car in 2012 by means of zero-%-down-financing-don't pay before 2013' offerring from our all too eager-to-lend and friendly banking/financing facilitators. An activity otherwise known as the 'Zero percent down syndrome'.

All this leads me to the following assessment pertaining to a more local example: with the purchase of an automobile made so easy now, such carelessly tempting financial 'instruments' like 0% down-pay-me-later-pal, it seems that everyone in my neighborhood, except perhaps my 12 year old son and his pet fish, now owns a car... or two or THREE!!!

Due to my careful and meticulous anecdotal observations and correlation of this data , I have concluded that the number of vehicles on my street alone has more than doubled over the last five years! But, as life would have it in the 'credit-desperate world' of cheap and easy financing, there are other reasons why the car population and density have doubled in my neighborhood as well:
1) the recent 'demand' and construction of cheaply built and financed condominium 'units' (there's that word again: 'units'!);
2) the construction of heavily governmentally financed (i.e. through us, the public) sports recreation and health centres; and
3) the close proximity to the usual franchise horses of the apocalypse such as 2nd ('evil') cup, Star(expletive)ucks, Tiny Tm Horton, et al...

All the above elements, realites and attributes have lead to a mad and whacky world of cars cars cars in my borough, the likes of which have produced the beginning of a plethora of acts of auto-lawlessness and saddly enough, fatal accidents, as recent as the one which happened a few days ago not too far from where I live,-An impatient and distracted driver ran a red light and collided with a mini-van, projecting an unsuspecting and innocent three year old boy out one of the van's windows to his instant death. Another car accident fatality; Another statistic. This is the type of sacrifice I was refering to above. Car culture has traded convenience and blind addiction for another precious life. We will have to wait for the official coroner's report.

As for auto-lawlessness: due to the inadequate number of parking spaces available now to accomodate the increased volume of vehicles in my hood, drivers are now parking illegally in front residents' personal parking aprons (e.g. like my own!), illegally double-parking in front of stores, fire-hydrants and other zones deemed 'illegal' parking areas, and of course my favorite one, the reckless performance of 360 degree 'U' turns right in the middle of a busy intersection while pedestrians are attempting to just safely cross the street. It's a frenetic car chase scene right out of a Keystone cops episode; a chaotic exhibition 'out of sync' with anything rational and natural, in order that someone can arrive 2 minutes faster to the closest Second Cup coffee shop so they may sit down and consume another crappy cup of 'coffee'!

Tell me that's not a sign of a culture totally out of whack and pathetically imbalanced; made only possible - of course - by the Zero Percent Down Syndrome. (no, no...I'm not angry!)

PD Cafargo June 2011 (no longer contributing to this site)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Pippa Middleton: A Post Hypnotic Suggestion?

WARNING: The following article is a very silly one, so if you have something better to do, then DO IT!  if not, I hope you enjoy my latest post.

  Who is Pippa Middleton?  I see her name all over the web, and I guess if I really wanted to know, I could click on anyone of the many online articles or just go to Wikipedia and find out.

Look into my eyes, and repeat after me...
 I know enough to know that she is a relative, most probably the sister of Prince Whatever's wife of England. Yes, that's it, she's most probably the sister of Kate Middleton, that new royal person.

 I don't know if she is younger or older than Kate, and I'm not interested in finding out. Her name suggests to me she's younger, yet the pictures I've seen of her make me think she could be older. Anyway, besides being the sister of Kate Middleton, who is she? Is she known for something special, maybe something she may have invented, or perhaps she gained notoriety as a swimsuit model, or maybe she's a 'Nobel Prize' winning physicist? 

 I'm really more interested to find out why or if, people are truly interested in Ms.Pippa, or is she just a product; a media-created celebrity?  I'm conducting a little experiment of my own, I want to see how this article on Pippa Middleton will do compared to my previous post "It's US Against Them", or maybe one of the Bin Laden series I wrote back in 'Bin-Laden Week' in early May, in order to gauge whether she is authentically popular, or just someone forced upon us by the will of the mainstream media. 

  If she is popular, it probably has something to do with her name: "Pippa". 
If her name were a normal one like Janet, or Karen, would the media world be just as transfixed? And what if she weighed 294lbs (21 stone in the U.K.) and had a face like an orangutang, would she still be so beloved? We may never know.

 I think her name, at least phonetically, has a certain magnetism to it…think about it... Pippa Middleton…it sounds like a pebble being dropped into a pond, it has a beginning, middle and end to it. "Pip-pa-Midd-le-ton" say it over and over again, and you will find yourself detaching from your earthly vessel and moving into one of the higher overtones of the fourth dimension…"Pip-pa-Midd-le-ton Pip-pa-Midd-le-ton"

 I saw a headline on Yahoo news last week alerting us to a 'collision' suffered by poor Pippa at a recent triathlon (swimming biking and sunning?) I hope she wasn't hurt, for her sake and for ours. She's an attractive woman indeed, at least in the pictures I've seen, and yet I've never seen a shot of her from "head to toe", maybe she has stubby little legs and in her "off" days, represents the 'Lollipop Guild'?

 Yet, what if her sudden appearance into the world of pop culture is a harbinger of something much more sinister? The 'Sinister Sister' (I had to write that) as one who portends a dark future, one where mind-controlled MK-Ultra's go "koo-koo" upon hearing the sound of her name, like some creepy line in 'The Catcher In The Rye'...

 Somehow, either due to media-hype, the cult of personality, or a simple post-hypnotic suggestion, Pippa Middleton has 'arrived' in our consciousness and is quite probably here to stay . now repeat after me "Pippa Middleton-Pippa Middleton-Pippa Midddleton"

Dirty CT  June 2011 


                                                                       ~VIDEO PODCAST~                      

                                                             Dirty CT interviews PD Cafargo

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

It's US against THEM!

Hey, it's nothing personal, but...

 Remember the ad campaigns for 'Miller lite' beer…"less filling! tastes great!" or the campaign for Kellogg's 'Mini Wheats' cereal, "crunchy wheat! nicely sweet!" Two examples of ad campaigns designed to pit one side against the other, in order to excite the consumers allegiances to 'decide for themselves'.  There is big money in playing both sides of the coin, whether it be in the whimsical world of advertising or in the geopolitical theatre.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this 'rant-o-mine pantomime', but please bare with me, I promise to order it in as coherent a manner as possible, Have a good laugh at my expense or share my frustrations as I touch on many subjects which I believe are all symptomatic of a holistic problem.

 Of course we have BIG troubles in our world, I once read that we would need something like 28 planet Earths to provide the energy and resources necessary for all nations to live at the same economic standard as the United States. With this in mind, it's easy to see see how geopolitical problems are bound to reach a climax in the not too distant future.

 Daniel Quinn wrote it so clearly in his book 'Ishmael', about how the ravenous appetite of expanding agrarian based cultures are decimating, displacing and disposing the world's indigenous populations. Similar to a package of flour full of mites, massive western economies and their bitch satellite nations consume resources to the point where they too will one day begin to suffocate in their own metaphorical and literal excrement.  This process began many years ago, and the first 'shit across the bow' might have been the terror attacks of 9/11.

 I'm not one who believes our elected officials are out to get us, but when you look at 'laws passed' which 'we the people ' never voted on nor were ever campaigned on behalf of, it's important to remember that our politicians are set before us by private interests, on the agreement that these elected officials will in turn appoint 'non elected officials' to positions of extreme political power, and it is the power of these 'non-elected officials' which disturbs me the most.

 Meanwhile, the corporate media continue to CREATE the news, instead by focusing on non-relevant 'wing-nuts' like this 'rapture dude' Harold Camping. It would be preferable to see our media pay more attention to the virtues of edge thinkers, wilst castigating the misdeeds of banking criminals… oh, and also tell this Camping guy to "take a hike!"

Here in Montreal, a recent revelation has come to light, that the much loved and loathed 'bixi' rent-a-bike program is swimming in a debt of unsustainability. 

 Considered by many to be the 'jewel of Montreal' due to the exporting of this program to cities like London, Toronto and New York, 'bixi' bikes were able to fly under the political radar of accountability due to the pride and prestige it supposedly brought to the city. The program was hastily ushered in three years ago in an idealistic attempt to create the facade that Montreal, and other major megalopolis', could somehow be 'Green' by massively increasing the presence of affordable, non-carbon emitting 'rent-a-bikes'.

 Big cities are the worst offenders of environmental decay, and are beyond hope of ever becoming sustainably 'Green'. If people want to live on a 'Green' earth, they better disavow their love affair with the internal combustion engine, go electric, or pedal power, instead of  some spoon fed eco-bike program.
  I don't wish to get into that now, but my main bone of contention concerns the idealism of some politicians, the voters who believe their lies, and the attempt to maintain this charade at any cost; an illusion which is often not at all consistent with reality. These kinds of scams are perpetuated to beef up contracts and line the pockets of private companies and municipal unions, under the seemingly benign assertion that 'bixi' itself, is a non-profit organization. The local taxpayer then foots the bill. This corrupt microcosm should demonstrate how eventually, the curtain must always get pulled back on the wizard.

 Our world is holographic, and the metaphor of running a 'Green' 'bicycle-for-hire' program, whose cost overruns make it more feasible to buy everyone in the city a brand new bike, is akin to the greater world of financial and geo-political governance, and it's determination to sustain the unsustainable.

                                                                      ***End of Intermission***

 Now, due to the unravelling of our 'Ponzi scheme' economic order, food and commodity prices are continuing to rise in the wake of diminished currencies (diminished due to schemes designed to sustain the unsustainable). For the rich western nations, this contraction will result in high unemployment, a major slowing of economic growth (already world trade is down one third from 2008), and a carnival combination of inflation and deflation, as sellers and buyers will be forced to renegotiate the true value of consumer products and other necessities during the second decade of the 21st century. 
Expect essential goods and services to skyrocket relative to incomes (food,building materials,bicycle parts,gasoline) and non-essentials should be expected to plummet (pedicures, jacuzzi hot-tubs, cable TV packages, prostitution). 

The consequences of this new reality, for people living in economically developing nations, will continue to be one of inner turmoil, as the bight of global recession will sink it's teeth directly into their means of survival, the price of food.

 When people can't afford to feed themselves, they get really irritable, and tolerance for 'western friendly' dictatorial regimes within 'developing nations' will continue to wane, as they will certainly inherit all the ugly political consequences of this painful transition, and will be henceforth known as 'devolving nations'.

  Why do I say all this?  Well, given the depletion rates of the major oil fields, combined with the lack of any major new and INEXPENSIVE finds (in other words not 'shale-fracking', tar sands, or deep water drilling) the demand for energy globally will most certainly outstrip supply, and coupled with the reality that we have yet to find an adequate substitute to match oil's energy output, the spin off effects of this new imperative will wreak havoc on the lifestyle we've been living since the end of WWII.

 These idea's are not mine, I'm only echoing the thoughts of those 'peak oil' proponents, whose arguments against, I have yet to hear an adequate rebuttal to. As it stands now, there is no adequate substitute waiting in the wings to take Oil's place

 The world will inherit all the problems that go hand in hand with this new 'unreality', as once passive people, like me and you, will have to figure out a way to curb the zeal of idealists, who will most certainly be anxious to propose their solutions by socially engineering societies in both hemispheres of our planet, with the same dysfunctional corporate template they've always been using.

 My major concerns are these: 
1.The ravenous desire for profit in order to maintain the required investment expansion rate necessary to keep the 'bubble' of toxic financial instruments (derivatives and the like) from bursting.
2. The endless conveyor belt of consumer wants and needs, and to what extent it's pressure on the environment will damage our chances for survival within our ecosystem. 
3.The philosophies of the corporate 'bottom line', which I believe, wouldn't hesitate to lay waste to our lives and those of our brothers and sisters across this globe, in order to maintain it's own survival.  Uncontested, we could be rendered by these multinationals, as little more than 'collateral damage', in their attempt to maintain global-economic stability.

 It will be essential for the wealthiest and influential of our human family, to surrender some 'creature comforts' in order to resist this bottom line. Right now, a precedent is being set where the opposite is happening, where those at the base of our economic pyramid are being forced to 'tighten their belts' in order to save 'the system'. The idea of taxing the incomes of those who make less than the average income is absurd. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont recently explained to congress how the top one percent of wage earners in the U.S. now have more wealth than the totality of the bottom fifty percent, so the way I see it, taxing the incomes of the finically less-fortunate is akin to forcing a rocky-turd out of an anorexic.

 When I hear wealthy people in our society boasting 'how much tax they pay' and how people like them are 'carrying the load', it really pisses me off!   Especially when you consider how many tax shelters are available to the rich, not to mention expense account business lunches, golfing with 'clients', per-diems and other write-offs. There's plenty of people who have become wealthy due to their hard work, commitment, and perseverance… and I salute them, but increasingly, wealth is being garnered by those who do not work very hard. You see these 'lattes sipping wankers', and 'texting plankers', basking in luxuries provided by a life of 'borrowed wealth'. This business of borrowing money from whoever to make investments that will provide a greater yield than the interest on debt borrowed IS this insidious activity of which I speak.

 We all know that it takes money to make money, and I don't deny anyones right to acquire wealth, but based on this truism, if you chose that path, please climb down from your ivory tower. Yes, our capitalist system technically allows anyone to seek their fortune, but there's only a limited number of spaces in the upper strata available, and very little room at the top. Yes you may have the right, but is it right?  Our laws are merely rules, they are not effective unless backed up by some force. The suffering created by turning ones back on 'what's right' has it's consequences as well.

 Meanwhile the hard working masses take on the shitty jobs that are essential to our survival but that no one else seems to want, often working long hours for insecure bosses, in order to make enough money to keep the 'creditor wolves', and taxman, at bay. This frustration experienced by low-income hard-working people is only exacerbated by an ineffective and system draining underclass, and the heavy costs of financially supporting powerful unions and their mafia-like hegemony over major government contracts.

 In Europe, countries such as Ireland, Greece, Portugal, and soon to be others, are being forced to accept 'austerity measures' which WILL cause problems, and is the main reason why the wise people of Iceland recently voted "NO" to repaying loans given to service debt, which was primarily acquired due to fraudulent banking practices.

 Over in the U.S.of A, a similar scam is ravaging the people's treasury, in the form of corporate wars, bailouts, and reckless banking schemes. The U.S. had a surplus when 'Bush junior'  took office in January 2001. Two terms, and a 'hopeful corporate puppet' later, and the 'Idealists' of their culture are now running that great nation into the ground, to the tune of 14.3 trillions dollars in debt, and climbing! (and now a 'quick skinny-dip' into pension funds)

 Those at the helms of power in western economies are a 'club' and have been very skilled at convincing us how 'they know what they are doing', probably due to the recent (20th century) 'trickle down prosperity' of their economic policies. My view is, they're nothing more than 'confidence men' (and women) who are trying desperately to mitigate the nasty byproducts of this 'f**k sandwich' they've created for us, and by extension themselves.
 And now, through the veils of 'official secrecy' and 'media spin', they'll probably make situations much much worse. 

 So, keeping with the spirit of the advertisers of lousy beer and genetically modified cereal products, look for the 'leaders of our society' to encourage us to play both ends of their fiddle, in another 'song and dance' to the tune of that timeless battle hymn: "It's US against them!"

Dirty CT  June 2011