It's The End Of The World As We Know It
... and no, I don't feel fine. The rejection by the U.S. House of the $700 billion bailout plan and the resultant precipitous drop of the stock market will likely be seen by future historians as a defining moment in American history, equivalent to the 1929 Stock Market Crash which brought on a decade long Great Depression.
There is always a tendency to over-react at times of momentous news, but in this case I feel perfectly justified in my pessimism for the global economy. A handful of greedy Wall Street bastards bet the future of Western Civilization on the roll of the dice that house prices would continue to rise forever regardless of affordability or even reality, and we lost. They didn't lose as they've been sucking in dividends for decades on the very banks that are now in ruins. We are the ones that lost as the ordinary working person of this planet may soon find that commerce begins to grind to a halt as business and consumer credit dries up, and money becomes not just more difficult to earn, but almost impossible.
Even if a bailout was possible, $700 billion may just be a drop in the bucket. We, the people of the world, may have to realize that the combined financial heft of the international governments may simply not be enough to pull us out of this mess.
As a culture we have become fat and lazy instant gratification addicts and we are woefully ill prepared to confront the very uncomfortable realities that will soon smash us all in the head. The Chinese curse of "may you live in interesting times" is now upon every human being in this world, and a general spiral into international impoverishment is now almost inevitable. The first ones that will feel the horrific brunt will be those marginalized billions who already have more than enough trouble just getting their families fed. As food supplies dry up, transport becomes unaffordable, and distribution networks domino, the immense famines in our immediate future stagger the imagination.
This won't be some suffering we just watch on TV news channels. This will hit home and it will hit hard. In a couple of years, we may very well be facing a homeland which is not even remotely recognizable. In the best possible case, we will be looking at massive unemployment, starkly diminished quality of life, tumultuous crime, and widespread despair. In the worst case, we are in for apocalyptic horrors in a Mad Max world that I doubt any person on Earth today is equipped to successfully face.
Could this be the end of civilization? It may be. At least it definitely marks the end of this particular chapter. As an avowed capitalist, I regret to announce that capitalism is an idea whose time has come and gone. What will emerge from the devastated ruins of capitalism is completely unknown. Will there be a great luminary who will step forward with a completely new concept of human enterprise to rival Karl Marx? Or will we all be too busy guarding our dwindling stash of food and water from the rampaging hordes of starving compatriots?
I'm not one for eschatological blather, but the prophecy that this would be the Last Pope is not lost upon me right now.
Turn out the lights, the party's over...
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