This week, the second half of the Ten Signs list. Here goes!
6. Jobs in some places are still hard to find. Despite what the government says there are many people still out of work. When you have college educated people lining up to work at Walmart there are still serious issues with the economy and the government throwing money at it will not make it better. If you have lost your job you know what it’s like for TS to HTF.
There might be some signs that this is starting to ease a little–see the recent CBO report on the ACA, with possibly as many as 2.5 million jobs “opening up” since folks will no longer have to work to cover expenses and/or receive health benefits (yes, despite what the media blared initially, this is actually a *good* thing). The struggle to keep jobs from going offshore continues, and probably will continue until we can no longer afford to ship manufactured goods from overseas cheaper than we can make them here. Perhaps it’s unjust, but it’s true.
7. The Department of Homeland Security is another symptom of your rights being stripped away in the interest of keeping you safe. This department is growing in size and strength and it worries me.
Ah, the DHS. I’ve long argued that we already had a Department of Homeland Security, we just had a different name for it: the Department of Defense. DHS hasn’t demonstrably improved our security domestically (arguments could be made that it’s worsened it), but I would lay the blame for loss of rights at the foot of the PATRIOT Act. DHS is simply playing the hand it was dealt–poorly, perhaps; maybe even with ill intent. Properly utilized, it would work well. (But then, that’s a corollary of one of my “Laws of Military Efficiency”: if everything did what it was intended to do and no more, things would go much more smoothly.)
8. Fiat currency. This might fall in line with the market point above, but I think that our currency model is flawed. With the trillions of dollars pumped into the system over the last five years it’s hard to predict how that will effect us later, or maybe it did serve it’s purpose and pulled us out of the crash back in ’08. Maybe it would work if we didn’t abuse it; however, I think that as long as we have derivatives in the market place we’re riding a stick of lit dynamite with no idea when it’s going to go off.
I have to agree with the derivatives portion. When things get so complex that bundles of crap can get sold as gold, with nearly no one any the wiser, a blow-up is inevitable (see the market crash of 2008). The “fiat” currency problem is likewise fairly complex, but I don’t believe its anywhere near as intractable. In the end run, the money has value because we all agree that it does. Likewise precious metals–they’re worth something because we agree that they are. Many cultures have used widely varied things as currency, from particular seashells through large carved-wheel stones [link] to any of a number of things. We just happen to use intricately printed pieces of paper–and, more and more, electrons held in semi-stable matrices, recording strings of ones and zeroes that represent “value”. Still money, just a bit more abstract…
9. As a nation we’re more interested in Justin Beiber’s arrest than we are in the poverty that plagues our nation. People either don’t see it or don’t care, but either way it’s a problem that we need to wake up from.
Yes. This. This is a prime symptom of the “zombification” of the masses. Just last week, CNN cut from an interview with a former U.S. Senator to cover the “breaking news” of Bieber’s arrest. I’d ask, “in what universe is this fluff more important than analysis of the workings of the government,” but that’s really just begging the question. I worry that we’ve become a bit too Roman in this regard, voting repeatedly for our “bread and circuses” rather than focusing on real issues. I’m somewhat comforted by the apparent number of folks willing to look past all of that and get things done; more dismay arises from the number of said folks who seem to be of the far-right-wing-nut-job persuasion. Not certain what exactly to do about it, but something certainly needs doing.
10. The declining middle class. It’s no secret that the rich are getting richer and the middle class is slowly eroding away. The gap between the two continues to grow.
I’d call this a definite symptom. What amuses me (somewhat, and with decidedly mixed feelings) is that this point is definitely a left-wing one, and the original poster is in most ways fairly right-wing (I believe he’s even claimed to be such explicitly, but I could be mis-remembering). If A: you think that the “decline” (“destruction” might be more accurate, if more inflammatory) of the middle-class and growing income inequality are issues; B: one side of the political spectrum (the right) has been very busy claiming “nope, not a problem”; C: the other side (the left) has been saying “we definitely need to do something about this”; and D: you claim to be “right-wing”–you may want to re-examine either your beliefs, or your political affiliations, or possibly both.
I think this list was better than most I run across. What say you, dear readers? Have I missed anything, or overlooked anything?