Friday, November 19, 2010

America Is Just Going Through the Motions

Going through the motions for PR purposes only fools yourself. Reality isn't swayed by propaganda.

A profound realization hit me last night: America is just going through the motions now--of reform, of healthcare, of everything. America's leadership--both its elected and appointed officials, and its "shadow" Financial Power Elite leadership (the corporatocracy of crony Capitalist cartels and rentier/speculative parasites) are just going through the motions of financial reform. And the American public is resigned to just going through the motions of accepting the travesty of a mockery of a sham that is called "reform," too, even as they understand in their bones that nothing has been fixed and the next financial crisis has already been cooked into their future.

One of our few reliable voice of reason in the world of finance, Simon Johnson, has already laid bare how the the next financial crisis and inevitable bailout of the banking parasites will unfold. His article in The New Republic Way Too Big To Failreveals how the "too big to fail" banks have shredded the wet paper bag of "reform" Congress went through the motions of conjuring up: they are quickly expanding globally, beyond the reach of any mere nation-state's grasp.

When the liquidity/speculation/leverage/toxic-asset bubble bursts again--and I think a strong case can be made that we are seeing the incipient signs of that bubble bursting in emerging markets, commodities and elsewhere--then the only nation-states with enough borrowing power to bail out the global banks will be the American Empire-- or more correctly, the shocked and dazed taxpayers of the Empire--the EU and Japan.

Unfortunately, all three have already socialized staggering bank losses, shifting the burdens of future meltdowns to the State itself.

Let's be honest, shall we? There never was any fire for real reform of the financial sector. It was all rote, a foul, stupid play-act, a passionless pantomime of "caring" and fake-"progressiveness" displayed for propaganda purposes.

Real reform occurs when the political class of toadies, sycophants, leeches and cowards is forced by a near-universal public outrage to pass simple, powerful legislation and the budgetary resources to enforce that legislation. For example, the landmark environmental laws of the 1970s. Rivers in America used to catch fire before this Federal legislation; now they don't. There was a true passion and desire in the nation to clean up the industrial pollution that was destroying the nation's commons.

Even some politicos were driven by conviction that this was necessary for the good of the nation. Ideologues of both parasitic parties dropped their preening and demogoguery and passed what the nation demanded, over-riding the political powerful industries which saw profits pinched as a result.

There was no real fire for financial reform in the politico class. All they had to do was wait out the public's outrage over TARP and then get down to the business of collecting contributions from financial players and their armies of toady-lobbyists.

So Washington went through the motions of "reform" and the regulatory agencies went through the motions of "enforcing" existing regulations. But nobody was indicted, no RICO suits filed on behalf of the defrauded, no billion-dollar penalties slapped on those who carted off tens of billions in embezzled, ill-gotten gains, and no perps forced into bankruptcy.

In other words, nothing got done except another layer of useless, overpaid bureaucracy was added to the bloated, overstuffed Federal payroll.

The exact same dynamic is visible in the "healthcare" (a.k.a. sickcare) "reform."2,300 pages of mind-numbing slicing and dicing of the vast flood of national treasure that flows to the sickcare cartels, and nary a single word on the actual health of the American public, which continues to deteriorate on multiple fronts.

The "reform" is to add multiple layers of bureaucracy and additional costs on a bloated, out-of-control system in which 50% of the money is already wasted on fraud, needless procedures/meds and paper shuffling.

It was all about going through the motions of reforming a system everyone knows is beyond dysfunctional.

So the net-net of "reform" is to slash the Medicare payments to primary-care physicians, the lowest-paid doctors in the system and the ones which actually provide the care to patients. So what incentive does anyone have to stay in primary care medicine, or to become a primary care doctor in the future, when the already low pay (an average of $136,000 annually, far less than unionized subway train drivers, airport staff who game overtime--one gent in San Francisco International Airport skimmed $233,000 a year by gaming OT and paid time off--and tens of thousands of do-nothing state and Federal paper-shufflers) is set to be slashed by a quarter?

The net result of a mindless, PR-dominated "going through the motions" reform is systemic collapse. But that won't occur in this election cycle, so haw-haw-haw, not our problem.

Correspondent "Ishabaka" (a U.S.-based M.D. despite his Japanese nickname) recently provided a daily-life example of the futility of just going through the motions. Ishabaka noted that some members of his gym didn't really come to do a real workout; they showed up to simply go through the motions of a workout so they can say they work out at the gym three times a week.

The net result of this simulacrum of exercise is a simulacrum of fitness and health. So when the GTTMer (going through the motions) keels over from a heart attack then everyone can shake their heads, tsk, tsk, he worked out three times a week at the gym, guess that doesn't do any good after all.

GTTM is not just the dominant paradigm in policy--it's also present in education. Many people are going through the motions of getting a Masters Degree, not to master a field of study they are passionate about pursuing but in the vain hope that another gatekeeper-stamped document will get them a high-paying, secure job.

The same dynamic is at the heart of many diets. Look, we are socialized to get fat and unfit by thousands, if not millions, of messages, cues and prompts, and by a packaged "food" and fast-food industry which ceaselessly markets unhealthy fare.

So people go through the motions of dieting: they sign up for costly programs (Weight Watchers, etc.), they buy an armload of fad-diet cookbooks, they start walking before going to work, and so on.

Yet they eat their tofu and brown rice with tears of self-pity, wearing a hair-shirt of deprivation, dreaming all the while of French Fries and pork chops smothered in gravy.

Going through the motions doesn't cut it. People who approach dieting and fitness with this approach lose a few pounds and then crack, and soon enough they are back to their unhealthy weight and tiring of their doctor's pleas to lose 30 or 40 pounds.

Here are two good easy-to-digest (heh) articles on the physics of weight loss by a UC-Berkeley physicist who lost 30 pounds:

The Physics Diet

On Gluttony

Basically, it comes down to eating less, eating better food, building/ maintaining muscle mass and doing some aerobic exercise that gets your respiratory rate up. That's it. Nothing fancy. For a variety of health reasons I realized I had to lose some fat from my 56-year old frame and so I've peeled off 8 lbs of lard that was not doing me any good. MyBMI is now 21.6 and I feel better. I feel fuller sooner, too, at mealtime.

You have to have a positive passion for a goal, a belief in its goodness and necessity that fires a commitment, for anything to come of it. The program and goal have to be simple.

In the case of the "too big to fail" banks, we as a nation have failed, completely and utterly. In the case of "healthcare," we as a nation have failed completely and utterly. The same can be said of tax reform, a national energy policy, election finance, "national security," restraining the Savior State's oppressive reach, reversing the ever-increasing concentration of wealth and political power in the top 1/10th of 1%, and in reducing the needless burdens of Global Empire.

We as a nation have accepted a "going through the motions" President, Treasury, Federal Reserve, Congress, regulatory system and judiciary, and the net result will be systemic collapse. That sounds "impossible," of course, just as it was "impossible" that Enron, Lehman Brothers, Countrywide, etc. etc. etc. all went belly-up.

When all you're doing is going through the motions for self-deception and public relations, then collapse isn't just possible, it become inevitable.

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