Well Slope-a-Dopes, I decided to change it up a bit this week, as I am sure that you are all tired of my unending, monotonous, depressing Eurocentric views, accompanied by my incessant, senseless outbursts of my favorite new word: Andalusia! Don't get me wrong, I still see the EURO debacle saga as a European economic depression in the making, which will only escalate, as the newly minted EU fiscal compact degenerates into a free-for-all fracas between the insolvent and the solvent Nation States. The 180 degree political shifts in France, Greece, Netherlands, and now Romania, as well as the resurgence of the progressive platforms in Spain, Italy & Ireland, virtually assures that this epic food fight is about to get this party started. Let's face it, the Europeans have a long and most dire history of not getting along, and this time will be no different. So instead, I have chosen to focus inward, looking domestically at this country, and what I find is neither pretty, nor too encouraging. Almost everywhere I look, it seems the U.S. is physically unwell, morally corrupt, and becoming more soulless everyday. Wallowing aimlessly in some sort of demented self indulgent Kardashian trance. Let's face it, America is showing all the signs of full blown decadence.
First Slice: Moral decay is so advanced in the United States of today, that outright theft is regularly & blatantly practiced in the open light of day for all to see, by some of the most esteemed players among us in the highest echelons of our society. Even more alarming & distressing, is the disgraceful disconcerting fact that precious little attempt is ever made by the regulating legal authorities to curtail theses bad actors even in the slightest, much less prosecute them for their repugnant self-serving transgressions. Apparently, a slap on the wrist will suffice, it's the new crony kleptocratic American way, didn't you know! Here in NYC for example, we are so quick to put a harmless man in jail for selling a measly joint or two on an abandoned street corner, while the sociopath Corzines, Fulds, Greenbergs, Guptas & Mozilos of this world, that have stolen billions from the unsuspecting public, are let free to roam wherever they please, enjoying the finest this country has to offer them. Whatever happened to the sound upstanding Judicial branch of the greatest Democracy the world has ever known? Some will pathetically point out that these mega crooks broke no specific laws on the books, and thus could not be easily pursued. They could, at the very least, have friggin tried! After all, they violated one of the most paramount natural laws of them all, and that is the expected ethical integrity, conduct, and honorable responsibility of those fortunate enough to be chosen for positions of leadership, power & privilege in a moral Judeo-Christian society. La Decadence!
Second Slice: An utterly corrupt political class is accepted as the norm these days in America. As time has gone on, we've not only given politicians more and more power over our lives, we've made jobs in Congress ever more lucrative. Members of Congress take home $185,000 a year, they can direct earmarks to their business partners, their family members can get cushy jobs as lobbyists, and after their careers are over, the companies they've whored themselves to, will pay them millions to lobby on their behalf as a reward. On top of this, because of redistricting schemes and the advantages of incumbency, a job in Congress is a lifelong career for many of these politicians. Because politics has become such a powerful, secure, and lucrative profession, it has drawn a class of people who care much more about having a plum high profile job than serving the American people. Meanwhile, and most alarmingly, as the lack of concern these politicians have for doing what's right for Americans has become more & more apparent, the American people themselves have responded with apathetic learned helplessness. It is also abundantly clear now, that our impotent, self-serving, can kicking politicians, have been so thoroughly spoiled by our equally lame, undemocratically appointed Federal Reserve board members, that together they would not be able to balance the budget of a child's lemon aid stand. In the end, the FED's cowardly, face saving, short sighted ZIRP & QE policies, will not repair, but actually accentuate the damage previously caused by their own misguided easy street monetary policies. After all, it is they themselves, that had irresponsibly injected lethal doses of excessive credit into our monetary system, destabilizing and grossly over financializing this one time great industrial nation. La Decadence!
Third Slice: The sorry structural decay of our once remarkable national infrastructure, unparalleled for its dimensions & excellence in the 20th century, is now crumbling all around us. Sure it is true, that there exist pockets of newness today, a few shiny office towers in the metropolises are rising like Sphinx out of the wreckage, many new residential rental buildings are now required for the foreclosed upon masses, and several must have modern mod squad malls are metastasizing over the more affluent suburban landscape here and there. The Donald Trumps, Mort Zuckermans, Sam Zells, Steven Rosses, and Simon Properties of this world certainly seem be doing just fine. But where it really counts, the National infrastructure we all share and that we are all so very dependant upon, which was once the envy of the world, and considered the back bone of this great nation, is disintegrating all around us day by day. Decaying infrastructure is everywhere. Our roads and bridges are crumbling and are full of holes. Our rail system is ancient. Our airports and runways have definitely seen their better days. Aging sewer systems throughout the country are leaking raw sewage all over the place. The power grid is straining to keep up with the ever-increasing thirst of the American people for electricity. Dams are failing at an unprecedented rate. Virtually all of our ports are handling far more traffic than they were ever intended to handle.
#2 Traffic on more than half the miles of interstate highway exceeds 70 percent of capacity, and nearly 25 percent of the miles are strained at more than 95 percent of capacity.
#3 Americans waste 4.2 billion hours and 2.8 billion gallons fuel a year sitting in traffic – equal to nearly one full work week and three weeks’ worth of gas for every traveler.
#4 Over the next 30 years, our nation is expected to grow by 100 million and highway traffic will double again. Even if highway capacity grows no faster than in the last 25 years, Americans can expect to spend 160 hours – 4 work weeks – each year in traffic by 2035.
#5 Nearly a third of all highway fatalities are due to substandard road conditions, obsolete road designs, or roadside hazards.
#6 Over 4,095 dams are "unsafe" and have deficiencies that leave them more susceptible to failure, especially during large flood events or earthquakes.
#7 Rolling blackouts and inefficiencies in the U.S. electrical grid cost an estimated $80 billion a year.
#8 By 2020, every major U.S. container port is projected to at least double the volume of cargo it was designed to handle. Some East Coast ports will triple in volume, and some West Coast ports will quadruple.
#9 Other countries are leapfrogging past us by investing in world-class ports. China is investing $6.9 billion; the port of Shanghai now has almost as much container capacity as all U.S. ports combined.
#10 According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, more than 25 percent of America's nearly 600,000 bridges need significant repairs or are burdened with more traffic than they were designed to carry.
#11 More than a third of all dam failures or near failures since 1874 have happened in just the last decade.
#12 All across the United States, conditions at many state parks, recreation areas and historic sites are deplorable at best. Some states have backlogs of repair projects that are now over a billion dollars long.
#13 Over the past year, approximately 100 of New York's state parks and historic sites have had to cut services and reduce hours.
#14 All over America, asphalt roads are being ground up and are being replaced with gravel because it is cheaper to maintain. The state of South Dakota has transformed over 100 miles of asphalt road into gravel over the past year, and 38 out of the 83 counties in the state of Michigan have transformed at least some of their asphalt roads into gravel roads.
#15 Major cities such as Philadelphia, Baltimore and Sacramento are so desperate to save money that they have instituted "rolling brownouts" in which various city fire stations are shut down on a rotating basis throughout the week.
#16 Detroit Mayor Dave Bing has come up with a unique way to save money. He wants to cut 20 percent of Detroit off from essential social services such as road repairs, police patrols, functioning street lights and garbage collection.
The sad truth is that we are a bankrupt & busted nation, and thus America's dilapidated infrastructure is going to continue to decay. We simply don't have the money, nor the will to repair what we already have, much less add desperately needed new infrastructure. In an eerie poetic justice sort of way, perhaps it is only fitting, that the further demise & disintegration of our roads and cities matches the deep social, moral and political decay that has already infected our society at large for decades. The Roman Empire flourished for centuries on the framework of paved roads and cleverly engineered aqueducts. The United States itself grew to greatness by building a national highway system, transcontinental railroads, massive dams generating electricity, and breathtaking bridges connecting people and commerce. Contemptibly, contemporary America has little taste for "public works" when they compete with private wants. Our self seeking consumer society is built on the here and now, not the self sacrifice & hard work that is required to build a solid foundation for the benefit of generations to come. Our dignified ancestors who so selflessly & courageously built the Brooklyn Bridge, would be disgusted by our pitiful apathy & lack of foresight. La Decadence!
Fourth Slice: Let's simply call this slice "The Kardashian Trance". I am simply dumbfounded by the worthless vulgarity continually projected on American television sets, which gets fed to the U.S. masses as something to warrant their undivided attention & continued devotion. As you no doubt know by now, I'm all for a sordid joke or two from time to time, in the appropriate setting amongst friends. But this incessant visual & oral dysentery running on national TV, that gets passed on as viable valid entertainment, is just so terribly sad for a country of such vast cultural heritage. Why The exploits of Lady Gaga, Justin Beavers, Nicole Richie, Paris & Niki Hilton, Snooki, the Situation, the Real Housewives of NY, DC, Atlanta, and Beverly Hills, and countless others, are even accepted, much less found to be worthy of one's attention, is difficult to comprehend. Yet, once you realize that they are tools of the insidious entertainment / media corporate juggernauts that infests are daily lives with their wicked seduction, it becomes all too clear what their true purpose is. Those fortunate enough among us that have been taught right from wrong, and the importance of humility, courtesy, grace, elegance, civility, frugality, discipline, dignity & above all humanity, can more easily discern & discard the useless decadent nature of this corporate sponsored avarice, which has only one goal in mind, and that is to sell you more worthless trivial garbage that you simply do not need. However, those less fortunate, that have not been shown right from wrong, grace from disgrace, courtesy form discourtesy, humility from conceit, elegance from tastelessness, civility from rudeness, discipline from laziness, dignity from vanity, frugality from extravagance, and above all humanity from inhumanity, they regrettably become easy prey for the decadent seduction of this omnipotent venus fly trap that is constantly being set by the insatiable greed of these Corporate swine. These faceless, sub human, ruthless entities have no genuine patriotic care for the country they feast off of. They are specifically designed & programmed to only count dollar signs as a measure of their triumph. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the great legacy & value of the wonderful American entertainment industry, and as in all good entertainment, there has always been a bit of raunchy scandal & delightful irreverence that pushes the envelope. However, today's explicitly produced, vapid, mindless form of entertainment, which is overly hyped, endlessly marketed, and grossly commercialized for the sole purpose of selling to the lowest common denominator in us all, is reprehensible malfeasance in its purest form. Unadulterated decadence always precedes the fall of a once great society. The current frenetic retail consumption feeding frenzy that we are witnessing today, is in large part driven by this hyped up superficial need to keep up with the Kardashians, with their hollow, shallow, in your face, shop until you drop reality show mentality. This has evidently induced one last great orgy of U.S. consumerism, which will soon be seen for what it really was, the last hurrah of the indomitable American consumer gone mad. The grand finale so to speak. La Decadence!
So you see my fellow Dopes, you simply can't fake it until you make it, by printing your way to prosperity. You have to earn it in earnest and build your way to it. This faux, hyped-up, bought & paid for decadent orgasmic consumption eruption, will soon give way to the real reality show on the ground.
The 1310 SPX Limited Express will show you what not to wear, and will take you there.
Let Evil Plan 57.0………"La Decadence" show you the error of your ways.
I'm afraid these two guys will not help us change our ways, as they clearly have another agenda, and more pressing matters on their minds.
BDI The Slope of Hope's Idiot Savant