i Can Has Cheezburgr Economy?

As a published Cheezburger photographer (can’t tell you which but it’s in the There I Fixed It edition), I perhaps should be glad that the economy of today build upon the stupid, feckless, and totally bizarre products and services with little of real value.  There are many bizarres going on today (two words, invest in the fleshlight).  Fraud after fraud, trick after trick, hairbrained scheme after hairbrained scheme comes right to our inbox making our iWhatever ding or vibrate, or play a downloaded version of Blink 187 (remember them?).  Stupid rolls off the assembly line with uniformity and regularity as our industrial products once had.

Perhaps Fucking Stupid© being the last thing we make in this country.  We craft our retarded ideas one at a time, lovingly.  Fucking stupid is artisanal.  Made the way Humanities majors make jam and former finance people open taco trucks, unique or as some morons say “sort of unique.”  We have moved beyond the “service economy” that we got damp in the cracks about in the 1980s and 1990s.

We’ve moved on to the KNOWLEDGE ECONOMY.  This ECONOMY of nowhere will be here until we croak or get flushed down the bidet of history (was a dustbin, but meh, who knows what that is these days?).  The KNOWLEDGE ECONOMY (rrrrraaaaa!!!) will transform us all into billionaires as we use the Twenty-First Century Learning Skills(tm) that we got in skoool to innovate our way out of:

1. Climate Change

2. Resource Depletion

3. Environmental Degradation

4. Overpopulation

5. A total lack of Bee Gees (we’re currently down to one)

In our KNOWLEDGE ECONOMY (KY) we are building up new ways of doing… something…. Like Facebook.  Now, I use the book of face for fun.  I have changed my profile so nothing is correct or personally identifiable (I do post my usual crap and pics but don’t check in, give locations, or allow any apps to view anything).  I’ve never looked at the ads on the side.  The business model’s central and only tenet if not the raison d’etcetera for its being is a thin set of value.  The company went public and for those of you searching for that one small event, the spark of WWI, the minor Archduke that will send the Known World into a shitstorm, it will be the slow, creeping, devaluation of Facebook.  This is not the failure of one company, not the schadenfreude of one certain boy who became a manboy in charge of a company and then watched as he became a billionaire and individual investors were bilked, this is the failure that may blow a hole in the entire ship of IPOnesses and push investors over the edge.  This epic slide will demonstrate that the entire world cannot run on advertising revenue, that apps are fleeting bites of wunderkammer but do not support a society, let alone float a complex economy.

So much as been made of FB not just as a company, but so many people are betting on the idea that any dumbass can come up with a few lines of code, download an app (short for, apparently every ones an asshole) and take over the world.   The loss of this golden calf of mooncalfness, will force some (ahem, JM Morgan perhaps?) to confront the need to return to brick and mortar.  Maybe we’ll return to a nation of people working to construct real things in real time with actual people, to create new communities that are not dependent on high inputs of resources, new society exchanges that don’t require proprietary code and complex platforms to understand or deploy.

Nah.  Fuck that noise.

That won’t happen.  We love our dreamworld.  We love not making any actual things all day.  We still believe we’re all rich people who will wake up winners.  Everyone wants to discover those few lines of code, that angry bird, that will pay for their kid’s college education and leave enough left over for one or two hookers and a few k’s of primo blow.

We may refuse to ever wake up to the need to have a thriving industrial core as long as we wish to continue to play this nation state game, this need for three dimensional things we’ve had since Day One of Creation.  An app can’t feed you.  You can’t wipe your ass with code.

Having spend the past few days in Detroit, it is very obvious that we are a declining nation with a set of priorities that is way off.  OK, so we needed to become more profitable.  So we got rid of jobs.  We had to get rid of the industrial past, so we got rid of industry.  Thirty years into this process, where is Detroit’s KNOWLEDGE ECONOMY?  Is it the 50% illiteracy rate of adults?  The high infant mortality rate?  The hundred and seventy or so acres of vacant land within the city limits poisoned by lead paint, asbestos siding, and creosote coated wood?  The city government is closing schools, and by that, it is using a state of emergency in order to transfer a number of schools to private hands or the state.  The Emergency Manager has imposed a set of austerity measures, canceled union contracts, and reduced services to an already constricted city to the point that they debated not sending the fire brigade out to put out vacant buildings on The Devil’s Night.  Or buildings that were told were vacant.  Since, lived in and abandoned often look very similar.  Teachers have all been fired.  They have to reapply for their jobs and still continue to take upon new initiatives.   Taking a little ride about on a rented bike I took a tour of the brownfields of the city.

Wandering in and out of former houses, churches, factories and warehouses I was still amazed that there are so many burned and lost houses left, since the open spaces and pile of rubble told me the story that so many years ago there were far more of these properties and time and fire had taken them down.  I made my way down a few blocks in Corktown and those of Woodbridge, the area around Eastern Market (and the great bike trail).  Some of the intact blocks were pleasant houses, children on bikes, alleys that took one out of traffic and able to peek into backyards.  Quite tree lined smart 19th century neighborhoods…. and then came upon an intersection of destitute souls who were going through trash or otherwise eating among sea gulls who were competing for these scraps.  Along with the wandering bums, a woman lay on the curb stoned out of her mind.  Another block was a van and a few whites were providing food to these walking dead.  Hieronymus Bosch would have thought it a living reenactment of one of his works.  In the bushes off of one of the alleys degenerate citizens, the zombies of real life, called to me as I flew by on the almost gravel roadway that finally opened up to fields and a few pheasants.  I would see more.  Pheasants and walking dead.  The saddest part of Detroit, about the whole shit show is that we didn’t lose just ugly factories, but entire workable communities (and I haven’t even gotten to 7 Mile but once and that was to visit a school that was more like a zoo for little children).

At the burned out children’s center I thought of what one of the teachers I had met had said.  That [teachers and other public workers] were expected to save the city while fighting for their livelihood in a place that gives away money to build sports complexes and replaces production with casinos (three of them with an additional one across the river in Canada).  The towers of commerce replaced by Greektown Casino, a tribute to the fucktarded fucktitude of our times.  I wandered into the casino for a moment.  The fat, unhappy, the elderly, and the obligatory fat elderly unhappily pumping money into a machine while sitting on a Jazzy, oxygen tank balanced between the slots and the trolley (I don’t consider myself the type, but I couldn’t help but thinking that had I been able to take this creature behind the woodshed Old Yeller style, I’d be doing her/the planet a favor).  There they were, the idiotic believing that they could beat the system they knew was fixed.  Pumping in money they know is a bad idea.  The gaming floor and the fake Greek decorations were fitting considering the situation of the Greeks and Greektown are more than similar, they are the same.

We have a canker of Greece upon our la prairie, of too much government spending, not enough revenue, bad ideas and stupid plans coming due all at once.  Like Greece, the City of Detroit is under a State of Emergency.  Under Emergency management (with the obligatory highly paid Mangertzarfucker) the city is not allowed to default on its debt, nor raise taxes on the rich who ran the city into the ground and remain but an SUV’s drive away.  The Yacht Club on Belle Island was humming with activity. Someone still earns a living in and around the Heavy D.  Is this a textbook example of downsizing, the coming rightsizing of our nation?  Or is this an example of our lost economy, the object lesson of what a digital economy brings to all but the Zuckerbergian few?   Proud buildings, hardwoods from prehistoric forests, stones that slept in mountains for aeons, iron forged and smelted came together, millions of years of power and energy converged to last but an hundred years.  As one business man in the Oyster Bar said speaking to some colleagues, “Most of these buildings were rated with a lifespan of at least a hundred years.  They tore them down and build shit thirty years ago that they’re now ripping down.  Yeah…. You ever have the potatoes here?”   The gleaming towers of GM stood like a set of space craft in a city just vanquished.  On the bank of the Riverwalk is a statue depicting runaway slaves (formerly enslaved or whateverthehell).  They look over to Canada.  A place where today, there are labor laws, healthcare, a well funded K – university system, and a casino.  Yes.  A Chavez Palace or whatever it’s called is over there now, waiting for the former slaves, to come across and drop whatever savings they haven’t blown at Motor City Casino, MGM Grand, or Greektown.

Detroit has hit bottom and there is no way to go but up, I was told by a real estate agent in the airport (who also said Detroit’s problems were related to a lack of Jews of which he was one).  There were pockets of urban gardening.  Cool crafted cocktails at hip bars.  Some kind of bike, tattoo, and fresh vegetables culture around the university (Wayne).  This was fun.  However, it is just another iteration of the middle class, not an example for the great unwashed that wander today over the Neo Prairie of the city (staggering home in the dark it occurred to me that perhaps this was a bad idea, but to be mugged one needs muggers and apart from being frightened by a rabbit there was no one about).  As Detroit may have hit the bottom, is Facebook at the top?  Is Detroit, still in the grip of the Emergency Manager not yet at the bottom?  Has the inflation of Facebook and our app economy not yet hit the top, the zenith of dumb yet to be achieved?  Our economy of ican haz cheezburgers?  As one homeless man on the corner exclaimed to a colleague, “fucking stop freaking out nigga’ I’m trying to beg here and your mutha’fucking ass gunna’ bring the cops… I’ll have to move and this spot just got hot.”  Perhaps ya all got to stop complaining.  I’m trying to beg here and your protests or whatever is just going to bring the cops.  I’ll fucking have to beg elsewhere. And right now, I’m so winning.  I’m on a streak.

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