Since its President’s Day, I think I’ll write about something Presidential. And this quote from our patron saint George Carlin is absolutely crucial to the piece:
“When you’re born you get a ticket to the freak show. When you’re born in America, you get a front row seat.”
See, I want it crystal clear at the outset that there is nothing political about what I’ve got to say. Our nation is deeply divided along political lines – – the worst I’ve ever seen – – and I can write or tweet about just about anything under the sun without repercussion, but the moment I so much as mention the word “Trump” without words of gushing adulation next to it, some Duck Dynasty-watching mental midget flips out.
So let me drive this point home: I have no ax to grind. I have no agenda. I simply don’t care. Trump could become the greatest president in history, and I don’t care. He could be shot through the head today, and I don’t care. Seriously. He and his whole family mean as much to me as I do to him. Zero. None. Zilch. Got it? Thank you.
Having said that, I’d like you to step back and consider the superficial state of our nation today:
- The crime rate has been in a steady downtrend for decades;
- The unemployment rate is about as low as it’s been for decades;
- Equity prices are at lifetime highs, far surpassing their greatest optimism of the Internet bubble or the housing bubble;
- The world is at peace (yes, there are tensions, and lots of troops deployed, but face it, there are no real wars happening);
- In fits and starts, for nearly thirty years, our former opponents in the Cold War have been moving toward capitalism and normalized relations;
- Interest rates remain near zero worldwide;
- In spite of absolutely enormous debt, the public isn’t worried about it, and the public discourse and hand-wringing about debt is virtually non-existent compared to what people were worried about in the early 1980s, when debt was literally 95% smaller than today.
So, all in all, life is awfully good, right?
And yet, with all these advantages – – these enormous, global, sweeping positives – – there is chaos and strife on the political scene. We have a president who exceeded an unpopularity rating of 50% faster than anyone in history (8 days, as compared to 1,361 days for Reagan). People being offered cabinet posts are saying “no”, which happens just about never. Plus you’ve got the whole Flynn situation.
- An honest-to-God bear market in equities, just like 2000-2002 or 2007-2009, but even more destructive;
- Steadily rising interest rates, which crush private equity firms, homeowners, and anyone else with debt;
- The breakout of “hot” wars, or maybe just a terrorist attack on the scale of 9/11
I could go on, but you get the idea. Seriously, think about what kind of trauma, angst, and political fireworks would be going on then.
Personally, I don’t think Trump is going to ride out his entire four years, but even if he does, one should shudder to think about how he’s going to behave when this world of sunshine, lollipops, and flowers takes a holiday. A world this pristine isn’t going to last. Somewhere, sometime, things are going to start to go wrong, and it’s going to be one hell of a show when it does.