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It's The End Of The World As We Know It

Updated on September 29, 2008

 ... 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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    • Hal Licino profile imageAUTHOR

      Hal Licino 

      9 years ago from Toronto

      Don't wanna lose you Kika Rose! :) That was Portuguese for:

      Hi, I'm very happy to be here. We're all dining at the A Choupana restaurant in the Lisbon section of Estoril tonight. That's fantastic! And I hear you're paying? That's even more fantastic! :)

    • Kika Rose profile image

      Kika Rose 

      9 years ago from Minnesota

      *blink* ... We lost me. O.<

    • Hal Licino profile imageAUTHOR

      Hal Licino 

      9 years ago from Toronto

      Ola! Estou muito feliz por estar aqui! Estamos comendo em restaurante A Choupana no Estoril esta noite! Fantastico! E voce esta pagando? Mais fantastico!

    • anime_nanet profile image

      anime_nanet 

      9 years ago from Portugal

      Welcome to Portugal :D

    • Kika Rose profile image

      Kika Rose 

      9 years ago from Minnesota

      I was just talking with my coworkers last night about our economy failing. It was an amusing discussion, but a very informative one for me since I pay so little attention to just about everything news-worthy. I did learn the price of oil per barrel dropped again, which I personally thought would be a nice change, but was told it was a sign of our economy faltering. And I think I'll still have my job when we do crash into the ground; our store is purposely understaffed, so if problems do happen, we should be okay.

      As far as my other job goes, I'm not so sure. :-\

    • stevenschenck profile image

      stevenschenck 

      9 years ago from Sacramento California

      I was a savings and loan examiner under old Bush, have we forgotten that his policies crashed the entire S&L business, one Bush son sat on the board of the most crooked S&L, Banks and S&Ls got a huge fed bail out that benefited the bank owners;

      I am working on a book "Capitalism to socialism and the long road back"

      Still this is the best place to live in the world.

    • Chef Jeff profile image

      Chef Jeff 

      9 years ago from Universe, Milky Way, Outer Arm, Sol, Earth, Western Hemisphere, North America, Illinois, Chicago.

      As we might have a tendency to over react, we also have a habit of under estimating dangers right before our eyes.  I am afraid that this one, when it gets rolling downhill like an avalanche, will be just impossible to stop. 

      Worse yet, no one can predict when it will start sliding toward the abyss, but the creaking and groaning of an ecnomy sceeching to a halt will be the first sign. 

      Oh, wait ... it that a squeal I hear now coming from Washington?  Sounds like a wheel off the track to me!

    • Hal Licino profile imageAUTHOR

      Hal Licino 

      9 years ago from Toronto

      I completely agree. I know a woman in London who has essentially lived for several years (and very well thank you) on remortgaging her ever-escalating flat. The flat would go up in value by 100K pounds a year, she'd refi and blow the 100K. The flat got to 900K before the party was over and the price dropped to less than half in six months. Last I heard she was going to flip a coin to see if she would declare bankruptcy or commit suicide. :(

      If Asian and European markets don't show any strength tonight, there may be a lot more people facing the same options! :(

    • Misha profile image

      Misha 

      9 years ago from DC Area

      Hell yeah!

      I do agree with your picture of our future. We are definitely up to some nasty surprises and serious difficulties. I don't think it is the repeal of bailout that marked the turn, I would rather think of year 2000 stock market top, this is when the slide began. And I don't think the bailout would have saved anything. Postponed and multiplied - yes, saved - no.

      And I wouldn't blame all of it on greedy bankers. No doubt they are greedy, and this did contribute to crisis development - but ordinary people on average are no less greedy, and those chasing second or third house in plans of flipping it for a quick cash a bit later, or those buying the house they clearly could not afford were contributing to this crisis no less than bankers...

    • Hal Licino profile imageAUTHOR

      Hal Licino 

      9 years ago from Toronto

      I hope you have a job by the time you get back. Yeah, it could be gettin' that bad. :(

    • Kika Rose profile image

      Kika Rose 

      9 years ago from Minnesota

      I'll come back and read this later. I have to get ready for work.

      But I will say this...

      >.< You got that stupid song stuck in my head, Hal!

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