December 01, 2010

Merry Christmas, California!

California always leads the way. We all know that. Trend-setters, daredevils, iconoclasts - it's what we're about. If you want to see what's going to happen next in the country as a whole, pay attention to California. Of course, with 36 million people officially (and another 5 million currently driving on Highway 57 between Pasadena and Fontana), over 10% of the American population is already here. So there is something of a tautological feel to declaring that California leads the way.

For example, California has an official 12.8% unemployment rate. We all know this is nonsense, of course; if the BLS U-3 for the whole country is 9.6%, whereas the more "comprehensive" (that is, a number that actually counts people out of work) U-6 is 17%, then we must assume (with good reason, let me tell you) that the same differential applies here in the Golden State, and that the real UE rate for California is 12.8 + 7.4 = 20.2%. That seems reasonable. A good, round Depression Era feel to that number, doncha think?

Where it gets interesting, right here on the threshold of the Restoration of the Brown Monarchy in California, is that this month, due to the utter paralysis of the U.S. Congress, extended unemployment benefits are going to run out. Congress is understandably otherwise engaged; for example, they're trying to figure out how to spare the defense budget by raising the Social Security retirement age to the outer reaches of the human life span. The only actual "money" available is that printed by the Federal Reserve (by the cargo container lot) to distribute to the Primary Dealers to reimburse them for the Treasury bonds the PD's just bought the previous week (no joke there: literal truth). This is all in furtherance of the Fed's "dual mandate:" (1) to enrich Wall Street and (2) bankrupt the country.

All effects are bigger in California; thus, when UE shuts down, 410,000 (the official number) Californians will suddenly have no income of any kind. As the winter begins. This number is equal to the combined totals of 27 other states plus the District of Columbia. This number also exceeds the 2010 population of Oakland, California (where, no doubt, a significant fraction of the unemployed-with-no-income will be found). Not to put too fine a racist point on things, but one shudders to imagine what might happen in places like East Oakland and South Central Los Angeles when the money suddenly dries up completely.

Situations like this expose the essential vacuousness of the "trickle down" philosophy, the smug idea that the ultra-rich, the One Percenters, can enjoy their Fed Reserve largesse, their privileged, Congress-maintained assurance of bonuses, low tax rates and offshore fortresses, while the hoi polloi are left to their own devices, while the rich bastards bellow on about "creeping Socialism" (such as the kind that has perpetuated the existence of the zombie banks in the first place). Sad to say, fellas, but it isn't going to work, and if you actually think that an orderly, governable society can be maintained while half a million people are suddenly turned out into the streets, in one state alone (the national figure is two million), with no income of any kind, then I say: good luck with all that.

If Congress goes through with its Marie Antoinette routine, a very poorly controlled experiment, a form of dangerous Street Theater, will commence. People without any money do not simply roll over and die. They will seek shelter, food and money by any means necessary. As with so many of these social currents, the effects may be subtle and confused with background noise at first. A rise in violent crime, particularly mugging, armed robbery and burglary. Gangs will get bigger. Violent stand-offs between the police and criminals will become more frequent. But it will get increasingly obvious that a sea change has occurred, and only the thoroughly intellectually dishonest (i.e., the Mainstream Media) will deny what is really going on.

Who knows? Maybe this is the sort of "social development" necessary to demonstrate to the Elites that solely taking care of their own and affording benign neglect to the rest is not going to work. Congress may even realize, after consultation with their lobbyist-benefactors, that some of the federal swag may have to be diverted to paying tribute to the rebels. If so, California might again lead the way. Mitch McConnell might want to watch some old footage of Watts, 1965, to see how this can play out.