You Acting Like You Don’t Know

photo(2)The red-faced talking head has looked at the job numbers and said that this dip in employment is due to the sequester. This is all Uncle O’s fault, yes He caused this dip in the numbers, sent you junk mail, filed up your in box with Spam, he soured the milk in the back of the fridge, he fucked your friend and now brunch is going to be super awkward. Then other talking head with the small poindexter-head (style? Hyphen or not?) says this isn’t the sequester. No, the impact of this self-imposed clusterfuck has yet to be felt, the economy is too complex these days to identify a reason for this dip in employment, there are so many factors, the cost of energy that is being diverted to emerging markets, swine asshole being sold as calamari, gay marriage, gay divorce, sugar being bought by the government and sold at a loss in order to inflate prices, those shoes we bought and wore once but they’re so cute we really should wear them again… Very, very, very complex. But not too complex to require chattering experts to talk about what they don”t know. So we’re stuck between those who pretend to know, and those who don’t… but are willing to speculate to fill up their slot on the air.
However, there may be some truth in admitting that we don’t know. That economics may be broken. We have reached one of those points in time where that worn phrase “forget everything you ever knew” is actually true. The models, the theories, the schools, the projections and prognostics are all antiquated. That they may have worked, once, in the near or distant past, but now there needs to be a major re-imagining of this field of study. That the world for one reason or another is working in a way that we are not understanding, and by not understanding it, we are less in control of any and all outcomes. There was a time before Marx. Before Das Kapital. Then the time after. People understood the industrial economy in a new way, in a way that while it produced bad social policy was theoretically true. Many have argued that there was no capitalism until Marx described it. Prior to that, we just had “the market.” This may be an overreach, but it remains that that one book changed the study of economics. Today we’re caught between the fantasy of the Chicago and the Austrian schools of economics. We can choose Al Capone or Hitler economics. Everything seems to still be measured in these old yard sticks (kids, as your parents what a yard stick is).
When I was younger, walking about the streets of M- I would often come across stacks of books on the curb. Some placed in and about the trash can, others in stacks, some half-assed attempt to donate the books to passersby. What was interesting was that these books were more than not libraries of leftist tracts and works. Lots of Marx Readers, Secret History of XYZ, new urbanism blah blah blah, the coming revolution, and sundry other titles. It was like an entire generation had moved on, either departing this planet or realizing that these books were no longer relevant. They had once been pertinent at some point, but no longer. A book on black/white relations is less relevant in the world where your Bangladeshi neighbor just hates the Hasidic landlord and Tina, your girlfriend from Taiwan, can’t listen to her friend Olabau make one more joke from him about the Bantu family down the block, I mean Kongo-Yaka-Sira is technically also Bantu.
And we have reached that same stage with all understanding of the economy. It is not surprising when this and other bloggers are wrong about the economy, we’re just citizens with too many words on our hands. It is less reassuring when every expert right up to those top money managers claim that if anyone says they understand what is going on they’re either lying or stupid. Marx is no longer relevant. An interesting set of ideas, some themes could be borrowed and rebuilt, saying “fuck you capitalist pig!” is fun to say, but more because it has “fuck” in in and “fuck” is always fun to say. Keynesian and all those thought thinkers are also good reads, but they’re not being translated into something that explains the world as we see it. The WSJ says one thing, they have the numbers, their experts see reports we peeons can only imagine, things that would we see would be like Cthulhu to us…. perhaps one look would drive us mad… However, all this talk and ink (digital and actual) seems not to bring about a better understanding. Economics has become blinders, each work on how the world works throws about more darkness. Those in charge either are fooling us, or themselves, or both. Which means that the average yuk yuk (you, me) finds it harder and harder to make sound economic decisions in our private lives. Those of us who are petty managers or the bourgeois leadership make poor money decisions and investments. Entire companies are born, life, and die going about matters in the wrong way. Nations turn on themselves and do stupid things like austerity or sequester or invest in fish futures, place it all on black. A casino economy and the criminal financial shenanigans are here because we faithful cannot understand the world about us, and with a lack of understanding comes the snake oil salesmen, the faith healers, the cult leaders, those who know enough maths to give a few peasant dazzling charts and graphics and tell us buy/sell/lease/mouse/danger mouse gold and silver, get land and flip it, take a middle finger and flip it, and we fall for it because we’ve read the Economist, we start our day with Money Watch, we listen to Market Place, we read the WSJ, we follow our 401k stocks on our MSN App on our iSomething. We think we know, but we don’t know. We think the FED is magic because they invent money out of thin air. Turns out, they can do that. Money has changed in such drastic ways that we kids are still thinking in terms as if we’re at the literal stage. We think mommie vanishes because she covers her face. We think the cookie broken in two is more cookie. We’re so not even mirror aware, who is that baby and why is he so cute, why is he laughing when I laugh?
Ignorance isn’t sexy. And we so not sexy. Being a baby is cute, being an adult baby is creepy.
photo(3)So step away from your books about the economy. Put them on the curb. All of them. Yes, Naomi Campbell too. Mix Freekinomics with something unpleasant like coffee grounds or used cat litter and put it in a bag so that some junkie doesn’t take it. Same with Hot Flat and Crowded. Now with a clean house and an open mind, maybe we can start over, maybe we yet will unravel this world in order to chase out the wizards of finance and masters of industry and all their smoke and mirrors.

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