Thursday, January 24, 2008

How Computers Make It All Okay

Dear George,

I confess I’m not just addicted to meth. I also get high meditating on the innate stupidity of my betters. It is a law of nature that the higher a man rises in the Corporatist State, the dumber he becomes. It must be the thin air at the top of the pyramid.

Yesterday, I came across an interesting piece in The New York Times[1]. The article catalogs some of the delusions that have led to our current economic meltdown. Ben Bernanke, before he became head of the Fed’s counterfeit money ring, termed our ever expanding economy, “the great moderation”. Once again, the deluded belief that the boom/bust problem had been tempered took hold. It was simply a variation of what have been called the four deadliest words uttered in the midst of a bubble, “It’s different this time.”

In his article, Leonhardt dropped one of those little asides that explain volumes when he said, “Computers allow managers to run their businesses more efficiently and avoid some of the wild swings.”

There you have it, Big Guy, the machine that makes it possible to say, “It’s different this time.”

Yes, the computer spreads a veneer of linear rationality over what is essentially a nonlinear hodge-podge driven, not by rational self interest, but by ego, greed and stupidity. The charts, graphs, and diagrams the computer generates make it all look so neat and sensible. It puts a linear frosting on the bullshit that is economic theory and makes it look like a wedding cake. Nothing hides the stench like a well-ordered spreadsheet.

In one of those serendipities that never happen when I’m stoned, I came across another comment that underscores why our economy is such a house of cards. Northrop CEO Ronald Sugar said, “A great global power like the United States needs a great navy and a great navy needs an adequate number of ships, and they have to be modern and capable.”

No computer could factor in the stupidity that is the product of hubris. Let a man become enamored of greatness, and his brains turn to mush.

Everyone talks about bubbles, housing bubbles, snot bubbles and spittle bubbles. However, nobody, but nobody, ever speaks of the defense bubble that has kept our prosperity bloated for that last sixty-eight years. Weapon systems are the playing cards that make up our economy.

Our military-industrial complex is a greed machine that is spinning out of control. The same piece that quoted Chairman Sugar pointed out that we are “spending insane amounts of money on ‘defense’ projects that bear no relationship to the national security of the United States.”

Or course we are, darlings. That is because we have a Congress that is so addicted to landing defense projects for their respective districts that they have become employees of the defense industry. This is why none dare speak of our defense bubble. And, of course, the computer makes it different this time.

The madness of it all absolutely arouses the senses. This same article quotes Thomas Woods who points out that:

"According to the U.S. Department of Defense, during the four decades from 1947 through 1987 it used (in 1982 dollars) $7.62 trillion in capital resources. In 1985, the Department of Commerce estimated the value of the nation’s plant and equipment, and infrastructure, at just over $7.29 trillion. In other words, the amount spent over that period could have doubled the American capital stock or modernized and replaced its existing stock."

I am sure such thoughts are a comfort to the good folks who were pitched into the Mississippi River when that Minneapolis bridge collapsed last summer. They died so our country could be a world power.

Of course, that statement was made in 1987, before you took over the helm and started working your magic. I’m sure the updated figures would be a real turn-on.

What a wonderful time it is to be alive and stoned. To sit in the filth of my hovel pulling on the pipe as America spends herself into ruin is the good life. Her elite have plunged over the cliff and are calling the fall prosperity. And as they plunge, they are comforted by a computer monitor that assures them that, “It’s different this time.”

Your admirer,
Belacqua Jones

[1] David Leonhardt. “Worries That the Good Times Were a Mirage.” The New York Times, Wednesday, January 23, 2008. Page One.


Anonymous said...

i agree, and fortunately, it is only a small step from the limo to the curb!

Anonymous said...

...or the cliff.