Mexico

Donald Trump, Anthony Bourdain, and the Plight of Their (Indentured) Mexicans

Off the keyboard of Allan Stromfeldt Christensen

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Published on From Filmers to Farmers on June 10th, 2016

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(photo by Gage Skidmore)

No doubt you've heard of presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump's infamous wall, the one ostensibly meant to keep out all those alleged Mexican "criminals, drug dealers, rapists, etc.," as well as to keep all those 8.1 million undocumented workers Trump intends to (somehow) deport from getting back in. On top of all that, while 3,200 km walls don't just pay for themselves, Trump had nonetheless promised to (again, somehow) make sure that the Mexican government ends up footing the bill for said wall.

After months of the now routine mockery and scorn laid upon Trump, Trump finally came clean with the method of how it was that he was supposedly going to force Mexico to cover the $8 billion tab for his pet wall – by halting money transfers from the nearly $25 billion that (underpaid, overworked) Mexican labourers send back home as remittances every year (a total that actually equates to about 2% of Mexico's GDP). As should go without saying, the vast majority of those 8.1 million undocumented workers are employed in the service industry as maids, cooks, and groundskeepers, as well as in the farming and construction sectors, earning some of the lowest wages in the country to send home to family members in need. In other words, Trump plans on paying for his infamous wall by extorting money from the Mexican government under the threat of confiscating money from the poorest of the poor. As would come as little surprise to many, that Trump "love[s] the poorly educated" was, and is, of course, nothing but a ruse.

Not only then did this zany fiasco to "Make America Great Again" attract its share of derision, but it inherently comes with the threat of "Making Mexico Even Worse": cut out that 2% from Mexico's books, and Mexico could very well be headed for recession, which would probably only stoke antagonism towards the United States. Irrespective of any of this, Trump went ahead and made an offer that Mexico couldn't refuse: "Make a one-time payment of $5-$10bn to ensure that $24bn continues to flow into their country year after year."

(photo by Lwp Kommunikáció)

It turns out though that while pulling all that money out of the Mexican economy would likely be a disaster for Mexico (and particularly for poor Mexicans), pulling out all those Mexican labourers out of the United States' (service) economy would also be a disaster – of sorts – for the United States. As American chef, author, and television personality Anthony Bourdain explained it, "If Mr. Trump deports 11 million people or whatever he's talking about right now, every restaurant in America would shut down." Perhaps Bourdain is overstating it a bit, but his point comes through. In my rough translation, Bourdain seems to be saying that "Mexicans hold the American restaurant industry upon their shoulders – or perhaps better yet, upon their stooped backs," with a side of "Are we really going to let Mr. Trump put our restaurant-hopping lifestyles at risk?"

In case you're like me and don't know your celebrity chef from your celebrity online gamer, here's another statement Bourdain gave while critiquing Trump's shenanigans, conveying a bit of his history and outlook:

I rolled out of a prestigious culinary institute and went to work in real restaurants. I walked into restaurants and always, the person who had been there the longest, who took the time to show me how it was done, was always Mexican or Central American. The backbone of the industry — meaning most of the people in my experience cooking, preparing your food. Twenty of those years in this business I was an employer, I was a manager employer. Never, in any of those years, not once, did anyone walk into my restaurant — any American-born kid — walk into my restaurant and say I’d like a job as a night porter or a dishwasher. Even a prep cook — few and far between. Just not willing to start at the bottom like that.

(Oops. I didn't realize I wasn't supposed to work that dishwasher job back in my university days.)

In other words, count yourself lucky non-Mexican Americans (and you token Mexicans who non-Mexican Americans can refer to as their "but I have a Mexican friend" friend "who isn't an underpaid labourer," or who can be pointed to as having TV shows), because you (like, say, non-Mexican Canadians) get to live the high(ish)-life while Mexicans (and a few others) do the menial work in perpetuity that makes that high(ish)-life possible in the first place.

That raises an even larger point: putting aside the lifestyle crimping notion that the United States' one million restaurants would supposedly shut down upon the deportation of all its undocumented Mexicans, who would be out in the fields planting and harvesting all the food if it weren't for said wage slaves? Who would be working the vines to cultivate and harvest the grapes to make the wine with? Who would be scrubbing those things where the effluents of all that food and wine are deposited into? Surely, one would guess, not the ones living it up(ish).

Hustling and bustling for Trump, Bourdain, and all the acolytes! (photo by Americanspirit)

(Or living it down. In the southern Ontario town next to the one I grew up in, Bradford, a "reclaimed" swamp was drained and turned into Canada's "vegetable basket" some hundred years or so ago. Migrant Mexican workers can be seen working those "fields," and it's not a generally regarded fact (but nor a secret either) that many natively born Canadians would much rather go on the dole than work those "fields," be it alongside (documented) Mexican migrants or not. And with the example that the more well-off Canadians give of avoiding the land like the plague, it isn't exactly easy to blame them either.)

It should go without saying then that without those documented and undocumented Mexican workers, not only would many of the United States' restaurants supposedly shut down, but the United Statesian way of life itself would likely be put at serious risk. Moreover, since fractional-reserve banking and interest bearing debt means that the American economy (like any other) must keep growing (or at least give that impression) in order to avoid imploding in on itself, this requires not only a static supply of Mexicans to keep the pyramid propped up, but an ever-expanding base of Mexicans (and/or equivalents) to do the scoffed at jobs that non-Mexicans generally don't want to do themselves. (That is, until Google's AI department comes up with a fossil-fueled alternative, or Elon Musk bestows upon us an army of benevolent replicas of the Jetsons' Rosie, running, of course, on (ahem) fossil-fueled "renewable energy.")

In other words, whatever would the United States (and Canada) do without their cross-border supply of malleable and readily replaceable Mexicans? Senator John McCain, as was said, suggested an answer to this: "Couldn't the children of illegal immigrants do those jobs?"

Awk-ward.

Fortunately, somebody did respond to that erstwhile comment of McCain's, none other than born-to-immigrant-parents Marco Rubio, a recent member of the Donald Trump love-in and now flop-flipper in that ongoing GOP love-hate relationship. As he was said to have put it, "Pardon me, Senator, but I have to say that the children of those illegal immigrants will be doctors and lawyers." Although there is at least a smidgen of truth to that statement (take Rubio himself as an example), it's mostly a cute sentiment offered by one of the fortunate/lucky few, since many if not most of those children will become burger flippers and, if they have enough pizazz and edgy enough haircuts, perhaps even baristas.

(photo by Eli Christman)

But supposing that said upward mobility were to a rather large extent actually true, that poses a serious problem: If the children of indentured service workers are able to escape the fate of their parents and climb that spiral staircase of the American Dream, who would raise and feed their kids while they're at the office and on all their restaurant jaunts? Who would work the fields harvesting all their food? Who would scrub all those unmentionables? Answer: more Mexicans (and their equivalents), documented or not.

So regardless of what some politicians may say in order to win votes, and what some chefs may say in order to win a larger following from armchair cooks, the United States – the United Statesian way of life – can't do without a steady supply of cheap labour to prop up the lifestyle of its Trumps, Bourdains, and all their acolytes. And when Bourdain states that United Statesians are "just not willing to start at the bottom like that," that "bottom" should refer to the fields, not simply dishwasher jobs at restaurants, and nor should such "bottoms" be something to scoff at as somewhere to merely "start," but a place to dig in and become familiar with, a place to build an affinity with.

Another post will be required to elaborate on that, recognizing the fact that this kerfuffle we face is ultimately an issue of ceilings and floors.

Community in Death

Death-Rattlegc2reddit-logoOff the keyboard of Albert Bates

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Published on Peak Surfer on February 7, 2016

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"Denial is common among our kind of sapient apes and faith in the supernatural — angels, aliens, and economists — exposes our deeper fear of overdue reckonings."

 

 

 

 
When a person you know dies, a part of you must go too, like a thread being cut and a part of yourself unraveling. We are a weave of such threads, we two-leggeds, and our knits are a biochemical, emotional, electrical and microbial gestalt. We interweave with each other in ways that are seen and unseen, forming a fabric that we call, for lack of precision, "community."

We have been spending some winter months in recent years in a small village on the North coast of the Yucatán Peninsula. When we first arrived it was a not atypical coastal town with dirt streets and thatched or tin roofs. It is secure within one of Mexico's largest nature preserves, and it is here because the village pre-existed the reserve, so it was allowed to remain as long as it behaved, and then even when it didn't. Development has been very cruel to this region in recent years, has made it socially, economically and ecologically more fragile, and has set it up for a big fall in the not very distant future. 

We are much more comfortable wintering here than in the cold north, in Tennessee, or in touristy trendy spots like Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas or Playa del Carmen. Here we can find the quiet time we need to gather and sort our lost or jumbled thoughts, recover from our summer labors and travels and prepare for the work to come. We have written 5 books here and substantially contributed to at least twice that many more.

Before there was Cancún or the state of Quintana Roo, this had been just one more fishing village — a few hundred souls. It was known mainly for the quality of its hammocks and the beautiful seashells that washed up on its beaches. Because of its position along Cabo Catoche and the Straits of Cuba, it receives annual migrations of fish, birds, sea turtles and marine mammals and the biodiversity runs deep. The name of a nearby town is the Mayan word for manatee. The name for this place in Mayan is "black hole," a reference perhaps to the freshwater Yalahau cenote that for more than five centuries attracted whalers, pirates and explorers to refill their water casks. Among the older family lines you can recognize Russian, Nordic, Moorish, Maori and Portuguese lineages in facial hair, skin complexion, physical build and other features that are neither Yucatec nor Mestizo.

Here, where it is so full of life, is a strange place to think of death, but there come times when everyone needs to. Mexico has very different customs regarding death than its neighboring countries to the North. As Octavio Paz wrote in Labyrinth of Solitude:

"The Mexican … is familiar with death, jokes about it, caresses it, sleeps with it, celebrates it. True, there is as much fear in his attitude as in that of others, but at least death is not hidden away: he looks at it face to face, with impatience, disdain or irony."

When Hernan Cortes conquered the region that is now Mexico City, his conquistadors noticed a local ritual of making offerings to the goddess Mictecacihuatl, Queen regnant of Mictlan, the underworld, ruling over the afterlife. In the Aztec codices, Mictecacihuatl is represented with a defleshed body, jaw agape to swallow the stars during the day. Cortes' priests were quick to link the Aztec rituals to the Catholic observances of All Hallows Eve, All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day, just as they brilliantly connected the dark-skinned indigenous Madonna, the Virgin of Guadalupe, to the corn goddess, Chicomecoatl. Unlike the masses for the dead celebrated elsewhere, however, Dia de los Muertos is a happy occasion, with a carnivalesque atmosphere.

For the south of Mexico and in rural areas, death holds far greater social and cultural significance than in the north and large cities; families and communities may spend large parts of the year in smaller rituals and processions and it is not uncommon to find an altar in every home with images of the departed. The pre-Columbian concept of life and death was as part of a broader, never-ending cycle of existence, which dovetailed neatly with Christian and Asian traditions of veneration of the deceased, afterlife and reincarnation. In places and periods where unnatural death is a regular feature, as it was in much of Turtle Island after European contact and for 500 years, death becomes engrained as a cultural expression. As the artist Diego Rivera said in 1920: "If you look around my studio, you will see Deaths everywhere, Deaths of every size and color."

Our neighbor across the way on Calle Gonzalo Guerrero is Capitán Carmelo, a fisherman and whale shark diving guide. He is part of an old family in the town and an "abuelo" now, with grandchildren in their teens. A day ago his wife, Maria Coral de Sabatini, died and today the community laid her to rest. We are going to spend a few moments now describing that process, because it has a lot to say about the power of community, how it is built, how it is held, and how it passes between generations.

We started noticing Maria's cough a few years ago. She sort of shrugged it off, sitting as she did in her chair in front of her home every day, but we couldn't help but notice as it became deeper, more throaty and more painful. We suspected that because she and Carmelo neither drink nor smoke and neither does anyone else in their house, that it was not likely lung cancer but more probably tuberculosis. Her family simply called it las garras (the claws, or what we might call the grip). When we returned last year it had gotten so severe that she had lost a lot of weight and could not sit outside on dusty days. When we returned this year she was gone. We asked after her and Carmelo said she was in the hospital.

Then on Christmas she returned home. We asked her about her health and she said she lived day to day, “poca a poca,” little by little. We understood her to be dying. She had come to do that at home, among friends.

The knowledge that a person will die, combined with the uncertainty of not knowing when the event will happen, can be very stressful for family members and we witnessed this as the family drew together over the holidays. Then she seemed to recover, was up and about, and we were happy to see her walking to the corner store for eggs or fruit again, frail but smiling. The family dispersed again, the kids back to school, Carmelo and his son-in-law to fish each morning before sunrise.

A few days ago Maria's condition worsened and the family was pulled back together. Then one morning she suffered an arrest and the paramedics were summoned, followed by the police with the village pickup truck that doubles as an ambulance. We watched from our home and after an hour or so, the medics and police left and soon the village priest arrived.

Maria was given last rites by the priest and anointed with holy oil. If she was able, the priest heard her final confession, provided communion and offered absolution. Then began the vigil.

The vigil was attended mostly by immediate family, close neighbors and friends and lasted a day and a night, until Maria passed, peacefully, in her sleep. In the morning the family closed off the street and erected a tent. Chairs were brought and placed in a circle. A white coffin arrived, and Maria was bathed, dressed, and placed in it, on a pedestal in the front room of her home. For the next 24 hours, everyone who knew her came to pay their respects and say goodbye. They filed into the home and then out to the tent, where they sat, told stories, ate, sang. Musicians — different ones, separately and in groups — came with instruments, some several times. Choirs appeared and serenaded. Prayers were recited. Children came and sat with their elders or wandered in to stare at the body in the open coffin. Candles were lit. Elders were helped in, touched her, held her hand, said a prayer and were helped back out to the street. More candles were lit. More hymns, more prayers.

The wake continued through the night. A heavy rain fell, the heaviest of the winter so far. The songs got louder to drown the rain. Because Carmelo and Maria were teetotalers, there was no alcohol. This was a time for friends and family members to share memories of the past, to speak of their concerns for their own families, the village, the future. It is a moment when the fabric of the tribe is being woven. Lost threads are recovered. Wrongs are forgiven. Apologies are made. Expressions of friendship, kinship and love patch tears in the fabric. The children witness it all. This is part of their formative experience.

Maria was royalty. She bears the family name of José María Sabatini, for whom the annual fishing tournament is named. Her family, and the family of Carmelo, go back to the group that endured the great hurricane that swept away the original village on the Southwest point of the peninsula and made new islands there. They migrated their ejido southeast and built the village that is here now. There are a few names that appear most often in the cemetery that mark these families: Moguel, Ancona, Betancort, Avila, Nuñez, Rosado, Coral, Sabatini. Notice that these are not Mayan names and some are also not Spanish.

At sunrise a pickup truck fords the deep puddles and backs up to the house. The coffin and flowers are raised into the truck bed and the procession of mourners follows it at a walking pace to the church. There the coffin is unloaded, brought to the front of the nave and opened for viewing again. It is 8 am. Now the village gathers.

Capitan Carmelo is a vicar in the church and normally it would be his duty to prepare the way, usher the family to seats, read part of the scripture, and make the collection. Instead, he takes his position in the front row with his family while his fellow deacons, dressed in white, perform those functions. A choir forms at the vestry door and sings energetically at various points in the service. Loudspeakers in the nave make their small number seem larger than it is, but they sing in a style that is definitely homespun and authentic, not canned.
 

The cement angel motions the dead to hush up and sleep

Midway through, the town's power is lost, a not uncommon daily occurrence in this place. The priest does not even pause to acknowledge the loss. Lit through stained glass and with acapella choir, his mass does not miss a beat.

After communion, the pallbearers return to stand beside the coffin and Carmelo leans in to plant one last kiss on Maria before the lid comes down. It is a touching moment.

Then the coffin and flowers are carried back onto the bed of the pickup, which gets stuck turning around in the mud, and once unstuck, the long procession passes slowly through town and out to the cemetery in a light rain.

In Mexico it is said the dead return on certain days of the year. Those days they are remembered through special ceremonies. The body must be buried, not cremated, for their return to occur. Because we are on the sandy coast, the cemetery consists of aboveground vaults, cemented and tiled to protect from the sea. During Hurricane Wilma, the entire cemetery, and the town, went a meter or more under the waves and although the cemetery wall had to be repaired, relatively few of the vaults were badly damaged. Maria's family names, Coral and Sabatini, are on several of headstones.

Afterward, the mourners gather back in our street for a meal and reception. This is a time for levity, good food, and comforting those who are still dealing with their grief. Then, after two or more days awake, the family gets to sleep a short while and Maria Coral de Sabatini is gone but not forgotten.

The tent remains for the next 8 days, and each day there are visitors. Twice each day the front room of the house is filled with voices raised in hymn and the recitation of the rosary. On the final day, it is an all-night ceremony.

The cemetery is particularly poignant because this is a town that is built on the coral sand of a barrier island. The highest point of land is no more than 3 meters above the sea. Wetlands approach the edge of the cemetery and trash is being dumped there to fill the sinkholes. Some of that trash includes old monuments and broken crypts of the departed whose names have been forgotten, the marks on their stones and crosses rubbed out by time and salt air.

It might be denied by the government or wishful thinkers, but this is an entire town on death watch. The vigil begins every June, when it enters hurricane season, because one more Wilma could erase everything but the memories. Already regular tides that coincide with the moon are bringing seawater inland to places it has not reached in the memory of the elders. Many seawalls that were constructed after Wilma are now nearly obsolete. The population here continues to grow on the strength of tourism and Catholic fecundity, but where it will go when the town vanishes is anyone's guess. It is likely that many of these families could break apart. This is a community of place.

How long does it have? That's anyone's guess too. It could be a decade. Maybe two. Three seems unlikely, because both the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico are warming dramatically and molecular thermal expansion of the water, combined with the westerly currents at this latitude which dictate that sea level rise here will be stronger and faster than most other parts of the Earth. Southeastern Mexico, Galveston, New Orleans and Miami are on the front lines of climate change. Miami Beach, like here, has been sinking one inch each year, one foot every 12 years, and that is accelerating.

Some here believe that some supernatural event will spare this place its preordained fate. Denial is common among our kind of sapient apes and faith in the supernatural — angels, aliens, and economists — exposes our deeper fear of overdue reckonings. Still, not even the most hopeful provisions of The Paris Agreement can alter the fate of coastal cities and low islands now.

In the not-too-distant future the only way to visit Maria will be with a mask and snorkel. Unless the government decides to relocate everything, an unlikely prospect, she will still be here, and probably alongside Carmelo, when the rest of us have moved to higher ground. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dense Fog Turns into Toxic Smog

Off the keyboard of Jim Quinn

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Published on The Burning Platform on December 31, 2013

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In mid-January of this year I wrote my annual prediction article for 2013 – Apparitions in the Fog. It is again time to assess my inability to predict the future any better than a dart throwing monkey. As usual, sticking to facts was a mistake in a world fueled by misinformation, propaganda, delusion and wishful thinking. I was far too pessimistic about the near term implications of debt, civic decay and global disorder. Those in power have successfully held off the unavoidable collapse which will be brought about by their ravenous unbridled greed, and blatant disregard for the rule of law, the U.S. Constitution and rights and liberties of the American people. The day to day minutia, pointless drivel of our techno-narcissistic selfie showbiz society, and artificially created issues (gay marriage, Zimmerman-Martin, Baby North West, Duck Dynasty) designed to distract the public from thinking, are worthless trivialities in the broad landscape of human history.

The course of human history is determined by recurring cyclical themes based upon human frailties that have been perpetual through centuries of antiquity. The immense day to day noise of an inter-connected techno-world awash in inconsequentialities and manipulated by men of evil intent is designed to divert the attention of the masses from the criminal activities of those in power. It has always been so. There have always been arrogant, ambitious, greedy, power hungry, deceitful men, willing to take advantage of a fearful, lazy, ignorant, selfish, easily manipulated populace. The rhythms of history are unaffected by predictions of “experts” who are paid to spin yarns in order to sustain the status quo. There is no avoiding the consequences of actions taken and not taken over the last eighty years. We are in the midst of a twenty year period of Crisis that was launched in September 2008 with the worldwide financial collapse, created by the Federal Reserve, their Wall Street owners, their bought off Washington politicians, and their media and academic propaganda machines.

I still stand by the final paragraph of my 2013 missive, and despite the fact the establishment has been able to fend off the final collapse of their man made credit boom for longer than I anticipated, they have only insured a far worse outcome when the bubble bursts:

“So now I’m on the record for 2013 and I can be scorned and ridiculed for being such a pessimist when December rolls around and our Ponzi scheme economy hasn’t collapsed. There is no disputing the facts. The economic situation is deteriorating for the average American, the mood of the country is darkening, and the world is awash in debt and turmoil. Every country is attempting to print their way to renewed prosperity. No one wins a race to the bottom. The oligarchs have chosen a path of currency debasement, propping up insolvent banks, propaganda and impoverishing the masses as their preferred course. They attempt to keep the masses distracted with political theater, gun control vitriol, reality TV and iGadgets. What can be said about a society where 10% of the population follows Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga on Twitter and where 50% think the National Debt is a monument in Washington D.C. The country is controlled by evil sycophants, intellectually dishonest toadies and blood sucking leeches. Their lies and deception have held sway for the last four years, but they have only delayed the final collapse of a boom brought about by credit expansion. They will not reverse course and believe their intellectual superiority will allow them to retain their control after the collapse.”

The core elements of this Crisis have been visible since Strauss & Howe wrote The Fourth Turning in 1997. All the major events that transpire during this Crisis will be driven by one or more of these core elements – Debt, Civic Decay, and Global Disorder.

“In retrospect, the spark might seem as ominous as a financial crash, as ordinary as a national election, or as trivial as a Tea Party. The catalyst will unfold according to a basic Crisis dynamic that underlies all of these scenarios: An initial spark will trigger a chain reaction of unyielding responses and further emergencies. The core elements of these scenarios (debt, civic decay, global disorder) will matter more than the details, which the catalyst will juxtapose and connect in some unknowable way. If foreign societies are also entering a Fourth Turning, this could accelerate the chain reaction. At home and abroad, these events will reflect the tearing of the civic fabric at points of extreme vulnerability – problem areas where America will have neglected, denied, or delayed needed action.” – The Fourth Turning – Strauss & Howe

My 2013 predictions were framed by these core elements. After re-reading my article for the first time in eleven months I’ve concluded it is lucky I don’t charge for investment predictions. Many of my prognostications were in the ballpark, but I have continually underestimated the ability of central bankers and their Wall Street co-conspirators to use the $2.8 billion per day of QE to artificially elevate the stock market to bubble level proportions once again. If I wasn’t such a trusting soul, I might conclude the .1% financial elite, who run this country, created QEternity to benefit themselves, their .1% corporate CEO accomplices and the corrupt government apparatchiks who shield their flagrant criminality from the righteous hand of justice.

Even a highly educated Ivy League economist might grasp the fact that Ben Bernanke’s QEternity and ZIRP, sold to the unsuspecting masses as desperate measures during a crisis that could have brought the system down, have been kept in place for five years as a means to drive stock prices and home prices higher. The emergency was over by 2010, according to government reported data. The current monetary policy of the Federal Reserve would have been viewed as outrageous, reckless, and incomprehensible in 2007. It is truly a credit to the ruling elite and their media propaganda arm that they have been able to convince a majority of Americans their brazen felonious disregard for the wellbeing of the 99% is necessary to sustain the .1% way of life. Those palaces in the Hamptons aren’t going to pay for themselves without those $100 billion of annual bonuses.

Do you think the 170% increase in the S&P 500 has been accidently correlated with the quadrupling of the Federal Reserve balance sheet or has Bernanke just done the bidding of his puppet masters? Considering the .1% billionaire clique owns the vast majority of stock in this corporate fascist paradise, is it really a surprise the trickle down canard would be the solution of choice from these sociopathic scoundrels? Of course QE and ZIRP have impacted the 80% who own virtually no stocks in a slightly different manner. Do you think the 100% increase in gasoline prices since 2009 was caused by Bernanke’s QEternity?

Do you think the 8% decline in real median household income since 2008 was caused by Bernanke’s QE and ZIRP policies?

Click to View

Do you think the $10.8 trillion stolen from grandmothers and risk adverse savers was caused by Bernanke’s ZIRP?

Was the $860 billion increase in real GDP (5.8% over five years) worth the $8 trillion increase in the National Debt and $3 trillion increase in the Federal Reserve balance sheet? Was it moral, courageous and honorable of the Wall Street plantation owners to syphon the remaining wealth of the dying middle class peasants and leaving the millennial generation and future generations bound in chains of unfunded debt to the tune of $200 trillion?

My assessment regarding unpredictable events lurking in the fog was borne out by what happened that NO ONE predicted, including: the first resignation of a pope in six hundred years, the military coup of a democratically elected president of Egypt – supported by the democratically elected U.S. president, the rise of an alternative currency – bitcoin, the bankruptcy of one of the largest cities in the U.S. – Detroit, a minor terrorist attack in Boston that freaked out the entire country and revealed the Nazi-like un-Constitutional tactics that will be used by the police state as this Crisis deepens, and revelations by a brilliant young patriot named Edward Snowden proving that the U.S. has been turned into an Orwellian surveillance state as every electronic communication of every American is being monitored and recorded. The Democrats and Republicans played their parts in this theater of the absurd. They proved to be two faces of the same Party as neither faction questions the droning of innocent people around the globe, mass spying on citizens, Wall Street criminality, trillion dollar deficits, a rogue Federal Reserve, or out of control unsustainable government spending.

My predictions for 2013 were divided into the three categories driving this Fourth Turning CrisisDebt, Civic Decay, and Global Disorder. Let’s assess my inaccuracy.

Debt

  • The debt ceiling will be raised as the toothless Republican Party vows to cut spending next time. The political hacks will create a 3,000 page document of triggers and create a committee to study the issue, with actual measures that slow the growth of annual spending by .000005% starting in 2017.

The government shutdown reality TV show proved to be the usual Washington D.C. kabuki theater. They gave a shutdown and no one noticed. It had zero impact on the economy. More people came to the realization that government does nothing except spend our money and push us around. The debt ceiling was raised, the sequester faux “cuts” were reversed and $20 billion of spending will be cut sometime in the distant future. Washington snakes are entirely predictable. I nailed this prediction.

  • The National Debt will increase by $1.25 trillion and debt to GDP will reach 106% by the end of the fiscal year.

The National Debt increased by ONLY $964 billion in the last fiscal year, even though the government stopped counting in May. The temporary sequester cuts, the expiration of the 2% payroll tax cut, the fake Fannie & Freddie paybacks to the U.S. Treasury based upon mark to fantasy accounting, and the automatic expiration of stimulus spending combined to keep the real deficit from reaching $1 trillion for the fifth straight year. Debt to GDP was 104%, before our beloved government drones decided to “adjust” GDP upwards by $500 billion based upon a new and improved formula, like Tide detergent. I missed this prediction by a smidgeon.

  • The Federal Reserve balance sheet will reach $4 trillion by the end of the year.

The Federal Reserve balance sheet stands at $4.075 trillion today. Ben is very predictable, and of course “transparent”. This was an easy one.

  • Consumer debt will reach $2.9 trillion as the Feds accelerate student loans and Ally Financial, along with the other Too Big To Control Wall Street banks, keep pumping out subprime auto loans. By mid-year reported losses on student loans will soar and auto loan delinquencies will show an upturn. This will force a slowdown in consumer debt issuance, exacerbating the recession that started in 2012.

Consumer debt outstanding currently stands at $3.076 trillion despite the fact that credit card debt has been virtually flat. The Federal government has continued to dole out billions in loans to University of Phoenix wannabes and to the subprime urban entitlement armies who deserve to drive an Escalade despite having no job, no assets and a sub 650 credit score, through government owned Ally Financial. It helps drive business when you don’t care about being repaid. Student loan delinquency rates are at an all-time high, as there are no jobs for graduates with tens of thousands in debt. Auto loan delinquencies have begun to rise despite the fact we are supposedly in a strongly recovering economy. The slowdown in debt issuance has not happened, as the Federal government is in complete control of the non-revolving loan segment. My prediction has proven to be accurate.

  • The Bakken oil miracle will prove to be nothing more than Wall Street shysters selling a storyline. Daily output will stall at 750,000 barrels per day and the dreams of imminent energy independence will be annihilated by reality, again. The price of oil will average $105 per barrel, as global tensions restrict supply.

Bakken production has reached 867,000 barrels per day as more and more wells have been drilled to offset the steep depletion rates of the existing wells. The average price per barrel has been $104, despite the frantic propaganda campaign about imminent American energy independence. Tell that to the average Joe filling their tank and paying the highest December gas price in history. My prediction was too pessimistic, but the Bakken miracle will be revealed as an over-hyped Wall Street scam in 2014.

  • The home price increases generated through inventory manipulation in 2012 will peter out as 2013 progresses. The market has been flooded by investors. There is very little real demand for new homes. Young households with heavy student loan debt and low paying jobs will continue to rent, since the oligarchs refused to let prices fall to a level that would spur real demand. Mortgage delinquencies will rise as job growth remains stagnant, leading to an increase in foreclosures. Rent prices will flatten as apartment construction and investors flood the market with supply.

Existing home sales peaked in the middle of 2013 and have been in decline as mortgage rates have jumped from 3.25% to 4.5% since February. New home sales remain stagnant, near record low levels. The median sales price for existing home sales peaked at $214,000 in June and has fallen for five consecutive months by a total of 8%. First time home buyers account for a record low of 28% of purchases, while investors account for a record high level of purchasers. Mortgage delinquencies fell for most of the year, but the chickens are beginning to come home to roost as delinquent mortgage loans rose from 6.28% in October to 6.45% in November. Rent increases slowed to below 3% as Blackrock and the other Wall Street shysters flood the market with their foreclosure rental properties. My housing prediction was accurate.

 

  • The disconnect between the stock market and the housing and employment markets will be rectified when the MSM can no longer deny the recession that began in 2012 and will deepen in the first part of 2013. While housing prices languish 30% below their peak levels of 2006, the stock market has prematurely ejaculated back to pre-crisis levels. Declining corporate profits, stagnant consumer spending, and increasing debt defaults will finally result in a 20% decline in the stock market, with a chance for losses greater than 30% if Japan or the EU begin to crumble.

And now we get to the prediction that makes me happy I don’t charge people for investment advice. Facts don’t matter in world of QE for the psychopathic titans of Wall Street and misery for the indebted peasants of Main Street. The government data drones, Ivy League educated Wall Street economists, and the obedient corporate media propaganda apparatus declare that GDP has grown by 2% over the last four quarters and we are not in a recession. If you believe their bogus inflation calculation then just ignore the collapsing retail sales, stagnant real wages, and rising gap between the uber-rich and the rest of us. Using a true measure of inflation reveals an economy in recession since 2004. Whose version matches the reality on the ground?

 

Corporate profits have leveled off at record highs as mark to fantasy accounting fraud, condoned and encouraged by the Federal Reserve, along with loan loss reserve depletion and $5 billion of risk free profits from parking deposits at the Fed have created a one-time peak. The record level of negative earnings warnings is the proverbial bell ringing at the top.

negative earnings

I only missed my stock market prediction by 50%, as the 30% rise was somewhat better than my 20% decline prediction. Bernanke’s QEternity, Wall Street’s high frequency trading supercomputers, record levels of margin debt, a dash of delusion, and a helping of clueless dupes have taken the stock market to another bubble high. My prediction makes me look like an idiot today. I’m OK with that, since I know facts and reality always prevail in the long-run. As John Hussman sagely points out, today’s idiot will be tomorrow’s beacon of truth:

“The problem with bubbles is that they force one to decide whether to look like an idiot before the peak, or an idiot after the peak. There’s no calling the top, and most of the signals that have been most historically useful for that purpose have been blazing red since late-2011. My impression remains that the downside risks for the market have been deferred, not eliminated, and that they will be worse for the wait.”

  • Japan is still a bug in search of a windshield. With a debt to GDP ratio of 230%, a population dying off, energy dependence escalating, trade surplus decreasing, an already failed Prime Minister vowing to increase inflation, and rising tensions with China, Japan is a primary candidate to be the first domino to fall in the game of debt chicken. A 2% increase in interest rates would destroy the Japanese economic system.

Abenomics has done nothing for the average Japanese citizen, but it has done wonders for the ruling class who own all the stocks. Abe has implemented monetary policies that make Bernanke get a hard on. Japanese economic growth remains mired at 1.1%, wages remain stagnant, and their debt to GDP ratio remains above 230%, but at least he has driven their currency down 20% versus the USD and crushed the common person with 9% energy inflation. None of this matters, because the .1% have benefitted from a 56% increase in the Japanese stock market. My prediction was wrong. The windshield is further down the road, but it is approaching at 100 mph.

  • The EU has temporarily delayed the endgame for their failed experiment. Economic conditions in Greece, Spain and Italy worsen by the day with unemployment reaching dangerous revolutionary levels. Pretending countries will pay each other with newly created debt will not solve a debt crisis. They don’t have a liquidity problem. They have a solvency problem. The only people who have been saved by the actions taken so far are bankers and politicians. I believe the crisis will reignite, with interest rates spiking in Spain, Italy and France. The Germans will get fed up with the rest of Europe and the EU will begin to disintegrate.

This was another complete miss on my part. Economic conditions have not improved in Europe. Unemployment remains at record levels. EU GDP is barely above 0%. Debt levels continue to rise. Central bank bond buying has propped up this teetering edifice of ineptitude and interest rates in Spain, Italy and France have fallen to ridiculously low levels of 4%, considering they are completely insolvent with no possibility for escape. The disintegration of the EU will have to wait for another day.

Civic Decay

  • Progressive’s attempt to distract the masses from our worsening economic situation with their assault on the 2nd Amendment will fail. Congress will pass no new restrictions on gun ownership and 2013 will see the highest level of gun sales in history.

Obama and his gun grabbing sycophants attempted to use the Newtown massacre as the lever to overturn the 2nd Amendment. The liberal media went into full shriek mode, but the citizens again prevailed and no Federal legislation restricting the 2nd Amendment passed. Gun sales in 2013 will set an all-time record. With the Orwellian surveillance state growing by the day, arming yourself is the rational thing to do. I nailed this prediction.

  • The deepening recession, higher taxes on small businesses and middle class, along with Obamacare mandates will lead to rising unemployment and rising anger with the failed economic policies of the last four years. Protests and rallies will begin to burgeon.

The little people are experiencing a recession. The little people bore the brunt of the 2% payroll tax increase. The little people are bearing the burden of the Obamacare insurance premium increases. The number of employed Americans has increased by 1 million in the last year, a whole .4% of the working age population. The number of Americans who have willingly left the labor force in the last year because their lives are so fulfilled totaled 2.5 million, leaving the labor participation rate at a 35 year low. The anger among the former middle class is simmering below the surface, as Bernanke’s policies further impoverish the multitudes. Mass protests have not materialized but the Washington Navy yard shooting, dental hygenist murdered by DC police for ramming a White House barrier, and self- immolation of veteran John Constantino on the National Mall were all individual acts of desperation against the establishment.

  • The number of people on food stamps will reach 50 million and the number of people on SSDI will reach 11 million. Jamie Dimon, Lloyd Blankfein, and Jeff Immelt will compensate themselves to the tune of $100 million. CNBC will proclaim an economic recovery based on these facts.

The number of people on food stamps appears to have peaked just below 48 million, as the expiration of stimulus spending will probably keep the program from reaching 50 million. As of November there were 10.98 million people in the SSDI program. The top eight Wall Street banks have set aside a modest $91 billion for 2013 bonuses. The cost of providing food stamps for 48 million Americans totaled $76 billion. CNBC is thrilled with the record level of bonuses for the noble Wall Street capitalists, while scorning the lazy laid-off middle class workers whose jobs were shipped to China by the corporations whose profits are at all-time highs and stock price soars. Isn’t crony capitalism grand?

  • The drought will continue in 2013 resulting in higher food prices, ethanol prices, and shipping costs, as transporting goods on the Mississippi River will become further restricted. The misery index for the average American family will reach new highs.

The drought conditions in the U.S. Midwest have been relieved. Ethanol prices have been flat. Beef prices have risen by 10% since May due to the drought impact from 2012, but overall food price increases have been moderate. The misery index (unemployment rate + inflation rate) has supposedly fallen, based on government manipulated data. I whiffed on this prediction.

  • There will be assassination attempts on political and business leaders as retribution for their actions during and after the financial crisis.

There have been no assassination attempts on those responsible for our downward financial spiral. The anger has been turned inward as suicides have increased by 30% due to the unbearable economic circumstances brought on by the illegal financial machinations of the Wall Street criminal banks. Obama and Dick Cheney must be thrilled that more military personnel died by suicide in 2013 than on the battlefield. Mission Accomplished. The retribution dealt to bankers and politicians will come after the next collapse. For now, my prediction was premature.

  • The revelation of more fraud in the financial sector will result in an outcry from the public for justice. Prosecutions will be pursued by State’s attorney generals, as Holder has been captured by Wall Street.

Holder and the U.S. government remain fully captured by Wall Street. The states have proven to be toothless in their efforts to enforce the law against Wall Street. The continuing revelations of Wall Street fraud and billions in fines paid by JP Morgan and the other Too Big To Trust banks have been glossed over by the captured mainstream media. As long as EBT cards, Visas and Mastercards continue to function, there will be no outrage from the techno-narcissistic, debt addicted, math challenged, wilfully ignorant masses. Another wishful thinking wrong prediction on my part.

  • The deepening pension crisis in the states will lead to more state worker layoffs and more confrontation between governors attempting to balance budgets and government worker unions. There will be more municipal bankruptcies.

Using a still optimistic discount rate of 5%, the unfunded pension liability of states and municipalities totals $3 trillion. The taxpayers don’t have enough cheese left for the government rats to steal. The crisis deepens by the second. State and municipal budgets require larger pension payments every year. The tax base is stagnant or declining. States must balance their budgets. They will continue to cut existing workers to pay the legacy costs until they all experience their Detroit moment. With the Detroit bankruptcy, I’ll take credit for getting this prediction right.

  • The gun issue will further enflame talk of state secession. The red state/blue state divide will grow ever wider. The MSM will aggravate the divisions with vitriolic propaganda.

With the revelations of Federal government spying, military training exercises in cities across the country, the blatant disregard for the 4th Amendment during the shutdown of Boston, and un-Constitutional mandates of Obamacare, there has been a tremendous increase in chatter about secession. A google search gets over 200,000 hits in the last year. The divide between red states and blue states has never been wider.

  • The government will accelerate their surveillance efforts and renew their attempt to monitor, control, and censor the internet. This will result in increased cyber-attacks on government and corporate computer networks in retaliation.

If anything I dramatically underestimated the lengths to which the United States government would go in their illegal surveillance of the American people and foreign leaders. Edward Snowden exposed the grandest government criminal conspiracy in history as the world found out the NSA, with the full knowledge of the president and Congress, has been conspiring with major communications and internet companies to monitor and record every electronic communication on earth, in clear violation of the 4th Amendment. Government apparatchiks like James Clapper have blatantly lied to Congress about their spying activities. The lawlessness with which the government is now operating has led to anarchist computer hackers conducting cyber-attacks on government and corporate networks. The recent hacking of the Target credit card system will have devastating implications to their already waning business. I’ll take credit for an accurate prediction on this one.

Global Disorder 

  • With new leadership in Japan and China, neither will want to lose face, so early in their new terms. Neither side will back down in their ongoing conflict over islands in the East China Sea. China will shoot down a Japanese aircraft and trade between the countries will halt, leading to further downturns in both of their economies.

The Japanese/Chinese dispute over the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands has blown hot and cold throughout the year. In the past month the vitriol has grown intense. China has scrambled fighter jets over the disputed islands. The recent visit of Abe to a World War II shrine honoring war criminals has enraged the Chinese. Trade between the countries has declined. An aircraft has not been shot down, but an American warship almost collided with a Chinese warship near the islands, since our empire must stick their nose into every worldwide dispute. We are one miscalculation away from a shooting war. It hasn’t happened yet, so my prediction was wrong.

  • Worker protests over slave labor conditions in Chinese factories will increase as food price increases hit home on peasants that spend 70% of their pay for food. The new regime will crackdown with brutal measures, but the protests will grow increasingly violent. The economic data showing growth will be discredited by what is happening on the ground. China will come in for a real hard landing. Maybe they can hide the billions of bad debt in some of their vacant cities.

The number of worker protests over low pay and working conditions in China doubled over the previous year, but censorship of reporting has kept these facts under wraps. In a dictatorship, the crackdown on these protests goes unreported. The fraudulent economic data issued by the government has been proven false by independent analysts. The Chinese stock market has fallen 14%, reflecting the true economic situation. The Chinese property bubble is in the process of popping. China will never officially report a hard landing. China is the most corrupt nation on earth and is rotting from the inside, like their vacant malls and cities. China’s economy is like an Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 coming in for a landing at SF International.

  • Violence and turmoil in Greece will spread to Spain during the early part of the year, with protests and anger spreading to Italy and France later in the year. The EU public relations campaign, built on sandcastles of debt in the sky and false promises of corrupt politicians, will falter by mid-year. Interest rates will begin to spike and the endgame will commence. Greece will depart the EU, with Spain not far behind. The unraveling of debt will plunge all of Europe into depression.

Violent protests flared in Greece and Spain throughout the year. They did not spread to Italy and France. The central bankers and the puppet politicians have been able to contain the EU’s debt insolvency through the issuance of more debt. What a great plan. The grand finale has been delayed into 2014. Greece remains on life support and still in the EU. The EU remains in recession, but the depression has been postponed for the time being. This prediction was a dud.

  • Iran will grow increasingly desperate as hyperinflation caused by U.S. economic sanctions provokes the leadership to lash out at its neighbors and unleash cyber-attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities and U.S. corporations. Israel will use the rising tensions as the impetus to finally attack Iranian nuclear facilities. The U.S. will support the attack and Iran will launch missiles at Saudi Arabia and Israel in retaliation. The price of oil will spike above $125 per barrel, further deepening the worldwide recession.

Iran was experiencing hyperinflationary conditions early in the year, but since the election of the new president the economy has stabilized. Iran has conducted cyber-attacks against Saudi Arabian gas companies and the U.S. Navy during 2013. Israel and Saudi Arabia have failed in their efforts to lure Iran into a shooting war. Obama has opened dialogue with the new president to the chagrin of Israel. War has been put off and the negative economic impacts of surging oil prices have been forestalled. I missed on this prediction.

  • Syrian President Assad will be ousted and executed by rebels. Syria will fall under the control of Islamic rebels, who will not be friendly to the United States or Israel. Russia will stir up discontent in retaliation for the ouster of their ally.

Assad has proven to be much tougher than anyone expected. The trumped up charges of gassing rebel forces, created by the Saudis who want a gas pipeline through Syria, was not enough to convince the American people to allow our president to invade another sovereign country. Putin and Russia won this battle. America’s stature in the eyes of the world was reduced further. America continues to support Al Qaeda rebels in Syria, while fighting them in Afghanistan. The hypocrisy is palpable. Another miss.

  • Egypt and Libya will increasingly become Islamic states and will further descend into civil war.

The first democratically elected president of Egypt, Mohammed Morsi, was overthrown in a military coup as the country has descended into a civil war between the military forces and Islamic forces. It should be noted that the U.S. supported the overthrow of a democratically elected leader. Libya is a failed state with Islamic factions vying for power and on the verge of a 2nd civil war. Oil production has collapsed. I’ll take credit for an accurate prediction on this one.

  • The further depletion of the Cantarell oil field will destroy the Mexican economy as it becomes a net energy importer. The drug violence will increase and more illegal immigrants will pour into the U.S. The U.S. will station military troops along the border.

Mexican oil production fell for the ninth consecutive year in 2013. It has fallen 25% since 2004 to the lowest level since 1995. Energy exports still slightly outweigh imports, but the trend is irreversible. Mexico is under siege by the drug cartels. The violence increases by the day. After declining from 2007 through 2009, illegal immigration from Mexico has been on the rise. Troops have not been stationed on the border as Obama and his liberal army encourages illegal immigration in their desire for an increase in Democratic voters. This prediction was mostly correct.

  • Cyber-attacks by China and Iran on government and corporate computer networks will grow increasingly frequent. One or more of these attacks will threaten nuclear power plants, our electrical grid, or the Pentagon.

China and Iran have been utilizing cyber-attacks on the U.S. military and government agencies as a response to NSA spying and U.S. sabotaging of Iranian nuclear facilities. Experts are issuing warnings regarding the susceptibility of U.S. nuclear facilities to cyber-attack. If a serious breach has occurred, the U.S. government wouldn’t be publicizing it. Again, this prediction was accurate.

I achieved about a 50% accuracy rate on my 2013 predictions. These minor distractions are meaningless in the broad spectrum of history and the inevitability of the current Fourth Turning sweeping away the existing social order in a whirlwind of chaos, violence, financial collapse and ultimately a decisive war. The exact timing and exact events which will precipitate the demise of the establishment are unknowable with any precision, but there is no escape from the inexorable march of history. While most people get lost in the minutia of day to day existence and supposed Ivy League thought leaders are consumed with their own reputations and wealth, apparent stability will morph into terrifying volatility in an instant. The normalcy bias being practiced by an entire country will be shattered in a reality storm of consequences. The Crisis will continue to be driven by the ever growing debt levels, civic decay caused by government overreach, and global disorder driven by resource shortages and religious zealotry. The ultimate outcome is unpredictable, but the choices we make will matter. History is about to fling us towards a vast chaos.

“The seasons of time offer no guarantees. For modern societies, no less than for all forms of life, transformative change is discontinuous. For what seems an eternity, history goes nowhere – and then it suddenly flings us forward across some vast chaos that defies any mortal effort to plan our way there. The Fourth Turning will try our souls – and the saecular rhythm tells us that much will depend on how we face up to that trial. The saeculum does not reveal whether the story will have a happy ending, but it does tell us how and when our choices will make a difference.”  – Strauss & Howe – The Fourth Turning

RE’s Excellent Mexican Dental Adventure: Part II

Discuss this article at the Kitchen Sink of the Diner

Mexican side of the Los Algodones Boder Town Entry/Exit

I finally got esconced in my Hotel Room about 4PM yesterday, after more than 32 hours without sleep ( I do not sleep on planes). Needless to say, I was WIPED, and crashed until about 8PM, when I awoke and wrote Part I of my Doomer Travelogue. Onward here to Part II, today’s Adventures.

I was extemely nervous last night, for many reasons. I am of course completely PARANOID these days, and worried that I would get Detained at the Border trying to re-enter the FSofA. Have I yet “Made the List” as an Anti-Goobermint Blogger? Instead of returning to my Luxury Hotel Room in Yuma, would I get a One-Way Ticket to less luxurious accomodations at GITMO? I worried about the Dentist, despite the fact he came to me highly recommended by friends in Alaska who have used his services. I worried about the Security on the Street in Los Algodones. Would there be “criminal” types around who would try to divest me of my money or “things”? Could I FIND the Dentist’s office in this town?

Still, after finishing Part I and TRYING to watch some TV, I got a few more hours of sleep and woke around 6AM for my 8:30 Appointment with my Mexican Dentist. Why do I say I “tried” to watch TV rather than actually watched it? Because TV NO LONGER EXISTS in Hotel Rooms of the “Luxury” type!

Flipping it on, I got an EXTREMELY confusing Menu of Options, which included PPV Movies, Porn, Kidz Menus yadda yadda, and just FINDING the switch to get me to “normal” TV was a Treasure Hunt without a Map. I did FINALLY find “regular” TV, but there is no longer a “TV Guide” listing of what comes on when on which channel, just a list of the Channels.

So the only way to see what was on these Channels was to click through them, but the percentage of Commercials is such that just about every channel I clicked through had a Commercial running rather than actual Content Programming. Seriously, after messing with this shit for about 30 minutes I gave up and shut off the Tube. Its all just SELL SELL SELL.

Rising out of bed at around 6:30AM, I showered and screwed up my Courage. I prepped myself as best I could, which is not well since I could not bring even a Swiss Army Knife in my Wheely Bag past the Gestapo Agents of the TSA. However, I double checked that I had all the right IDs, checked my I-Phone and Galaxy Tablet for charge (communications if I got into trouble hopefully). Secreted CASH on my person, had a quick Complementary Breakfast in the Hotel Lobby and jumped in my Rented Ford Focus for the 10 mile drive to the Border.

Border Bugout Machines

It wasn’t hard to find the Border Parking Lot, I didn’t even need my GPS, just followed directions my friends gave me and even without that, the signs are pretty clear. You pass a Native Casino, numerous Bugout Machines parked on lots along the way and finally end up at THE BORDER. You know, that place where we are supposed to hold back the Mejicano Horde from Invading the FSofA. Passed this sign informing me that Weapons are ILEGAL in Mejico! Has anybody informed the Drug Cartels of this?

The parking lot is IMMENSE, but at 7:45AM when I arrived it was mostly empty, and it was only a few hundred yards walk to the barred Corridor you walk into Mejicano Territory. Despite the bars and all the rest on the way OUT of the FSofA, you have NO checks as you leave. There are Signs that warn you that if you carry more than $10K in Cash or other Negotiable Monetary Instruments you are supposed to “declare” it, but there is absolutely no checking on this whatsoever.

This is an important fact to consider for people worried about Capital Controls and leaving the FSofA with some MONEY. If you take this route at present time, you could walk across the border with 100lbs of Gold in a Backpack and another $100K in FRNs and nobody would ever be the wiser. No idea how long this situation will last, but it IS the case right now. Of course, depositing it in a Mexican Bank is no safe idea, as Peter here will attest to, but you CAN get it out of the FSofA right now this way.

Once you Cross the Border into Los Algodones, you are in ANOTHER WORLD. The Malls, the Chain restaurants, none of that exists over there. Its an old style Border Town, with lots of little Vendors hawking their merchandise, and you have to be able to Just Say “No, not interested” as you are hit on by numerous vendors trying to sel you something. Annoying as this is though, its a LOT better than the fucking Ads that were being pitched at me over the Boob Tube in the Hotel.

The main difference between Los Algodones and any other Border Town I ever hit (during my trucking years I hit a few others) is their Economic Model. The whole town is DENTISTS! OK, there are Optometrists also and the Pharmacies, but the driver is Dentistry. In about a 5 square block area of “Downtown” Los algodones, there are WELL over 100 Dentists, I would not even hazard a guess beyond that. The Dentists are out on the STREET beckoning you to come in, and even if you already KNOW the Dentist you are heading for, they urge you to get a “Second Opinion” and if you wanted to chance it, you could probably bid it down. However, if you already KNOW a decent one the prices are already so good dickering is stupid. I just said to the Dentists on the street I had my Appointment with my Dentist already, thanks but no thanks.

So, I wandered a bit through the shops since I was Early for my appointment, and located my Dentist’s Office in a Shop Plaza barely a block from the Border Crossing. It is a Tiny Office, the Waiting Room is about the size of a small Bedroom and the actual Dentist Recliner you get drilled on is in a room the size of a typical walk in closet in a McMansion. The Tech however is good, the Xray machine is Computer driven, no film. Overall very clean if small, and Jorge (my Dentista) speaks OK English.

I have now Relaxed somewhat, and spent about 20 minutes in the Waiting Room and the Receptionist gave me the Password to the WiFi, so I sent out a few messages to the Mod Squad here letting them know what was going on. Live Dentistry Updates from Mejico over the Internet!!! LOL. Where ELSE could you get that but the Doomstead Diner? OK, its only for the Mod Squad, but you get the idea here.

After some poking and prodding and discussion with Jorge, we agree on the Plan to Yank all the bottom teeth because there is simply so much wrong down there it would be ridiculous to try and fix it. On the top though, I elect to try to save the front teeth I have and go with a Partial Denture for the Molars which will attach to the front teeth. To do this, I go for 2 Root Canals on my Canines, which he needs to call in the Root Canal Specialista to do. Unlike here in the FSofA where said appointment would probably be 2 weeks away, he schedules her to come over to the Office at Noon. It is now 9:45AM, I have been in the chair since 8:40 or so.

So I go out and walk around Los Algodones and find a Cantina. I resist the urge to order a Corona at such an early hour and order Coffee and an Omellete. Not sure when I will next be able to eat solid food again, so I figured it was a good time to put some food in the stomach.

I mosy back to the Office around 11:30, send a couple more messages over the WiFi and then the Specialista shows up promptly at High Noon. Real Cute Mejicano Dentista 🙂 I’ve been through Root Canals before, and they can be Rough. However, this babe knoww what she is doing, and soon as I wince at all, she loads up the Hypo with still MORE numbing agents, and keeps on plowing the stuff into my gums. Probably had about 10 Shots, but couldn’t feel them really after about the second one. She drills and grinds and files for about an hour, then Jorge returns to carve the teeth some more to be ready for Crowning. After that, takes Molds of my Upper and Lower Teeth and soft tissue, and we make next appointment for Wed, when he will Crown Up here and do scaling and cleaning of the teeth that will remain in my head. Thursday, he will Yank the teeth and I will get my Partial for the Upper and Full for the Lower. I elected not to get Implants at this time. I’ll see how it goes with the lower, which supposedly is the most problematic for denture wearers. My sister has done OK with this though, so I want to see what this works like. If it slides around to much, I’ll come back in a few months and get 4 Implants dropped in to snap the lower denture into. Assuming of course in 4 Months I can still make this kind of trip.

Its now 3PM, and my Dentistry for the Day is Done, and I head back for the Border. Unlike the way IN, the way OUT is a LOT slower. There is a Queue about 200 yards long going into Customs. The Demographics of the Queue is very interesting. Its almost ALL Silents. 70-80 year old Retirees who live in AZ. I am a Spring Chicken in this crowd. In fact, if you walk around Los Algodones for a while you could easily become convinced the population of the world consists of all Old White Folks and Young Brown folks. Like the RE Developers of Yuma though, the Young Brown folks of Los Algodones hold no Ill Will toward the Old White folks from across the border wandering around town, they LOVE them! They are the Economic Driver for the town, the source of their FOREX that still holds some Value.

This REALITY is what really PISSES me off with respect to dimwitted Blogger Pundits who go on endless rants BLAMING Boomers for all the problems we face today. Jackasses like this simply do not look at the actual DEMOGRAPHICS and who received the greatest Benefits of the Age of Oil, and who in fact are still living quite well off of their Investments and GM Pensions that are STILL paying off courtesy of the Boomer Taxpayers (and Millenials, and GenXers etc) Silents set up this system, people like Warren Buffet and George Soros. Not Boomers. Boomers were TRAPPED by the kind of system set up by the Silents, who truly screwed this world, and who now are dying off just in time to fuck everyone else. If you want to place BLAME here as far as the Age of Oil is concerned, it rests entirely onthe shoudlers of the Silents, who were the most Greedy Generation ever to hit the planet. They sucked up the welath and spent it all cruising round the Golf courses of Florida for the last 30 years while Boomers picked up their Tab.

Standing in line waiting to walk my way back IN to the FSofA, I chat a bit with some of these Oldsters. The queue is so long I am curious how long it wil take to get back IN to the FSofA? I ask a Silent in front of me if he has done this before, he says yea, hundreds of times, from where we are it takes about an hour. He was almost dead on, it took 50 minutes. This ASTOUNDS me! Why?

Well, my Math Brain is not as fast as it was when I was a Child Prodigy or when I was doing Blackboard contests in the basement of Havermeyer Hall or pouring over spreadsheets at Drexel, but its still a whole lot faster than the average Calculator. LOL. Based on my walk to the back of the line, I estimate there are at least 500 people ahead of me. For this queue to move that fast, they have to be processing through around 10 Oldsters/Minute, or one every 6 seconds. I know the size of the building we are walking though, I estimate no more than 3 divisions can be made inside the building. In fact it was only two. So the Boarder Control Guards of the Foot Traffic out of Los Algodones have about 12 SECONDS to verify your Citizenship and whether you are a Political Criminal before granting you Access. So I say to myself, “MAN, these guys must be FAST on the Keyboard here to drop your Passport Number into the Database and see if it is Flagged! Then I think I have the answer, they don’t HAVe to keyboard it, the INFO is in an RFID chip in the Passport and they just scan it. Right? This is what you would THINK, BUT NO! No Keyboarding, no Scanning, NADA. You flash your Passport at the Border Guard, and you get Waved on through! LOL. There is better Security at your average Rock Concert or NFL Football Game!

Of course, if you do not fit the Demographic of an Old White Person, you probably get more scrutiny, but for you Old White folks who wish to move back and forth across the Mexicano Border these days, on FOOT is the way to do it! You could do it 3 times a day at least never carrying more than the $10K you are allowed to carry without declaration, even including having to wait on the line to get out.

For the Reverse movement of Mexicans, not quite so easy, but by no means very hard either. I pinpointed half a dozen places you could scale the fence in under 10 seconds if you are reasonably athletic and then make your way up the Colorado river with Snorkel and Flippers. There is almost NO WAY you would be caught. They simply do not have personnel to do it in the area, and this in a major town. Anybody can move across this border anytime really. Fencing the border with Mejico is an absurd idea, the personnel it would take to do it effectively would cost more than it costs to absorb the refugees! This is not even considering what you can do with a Kayak along the coast of Baja.

Anyhow, despite my calculations, I still had a certain amount of my initial Paranoia going until I actually passed my “check” with the Border Guard and got back into my Rented Ford Focus in the parking lot. Back here now in the bosom of the FSofA, I can enjoy the last of the ebnnies of the Age of Oil here in the 3 star Hotel Room I bought for Roach Motel Prices on Travelocity. Long as this system still functions, there are alot of ways to play the game still, and get “value” for your money. Why spend $10K for Dentistry when you can get the same job done just as well in Los Algodones for 1/5th the cost? Bonus, you help a smart Mexican Dentista feed his family with still working Dollars.

Which leads us into the final part of this series, not written yet, but I will call it now the “Unreality of Unknown Unknowns: Cross Border Fiat Collapse in the Real Economy.” Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You.

RE

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RE’s Excellent Mexican Dental Adventure: Part I

Discuss this article at the Kitchen Sink of the Diner


Background Music courtesy of “The Voice”, Jay Black and the the Amerikans

I’m currently sitting in a Luxury Hotel Room in Yuma, AZ after an exhausting Red Eye flight down here from the Last Great Frontier. Reason for the trip? Tomorrow I will walk across the border with Mejico into “Los Algodones”, a town of Dentists, Optometrists and Pharmacies that makes its living on Amerikans making day trips there to buy prescription drugs and get affordable dentistry.

Its soooo much cheaper there that the cost of the flight from Alaska and the luxury Hotel Suite and the Rental Car is more than made up for by savings on the Dental Work, if you have a decent amount to be done and I have a LOT. I may end up having them all pulled and get dentures, but I will try to get Implants instead, or at least implants that will help stabilize the dentures. For most people, if you just have a couple of Root Canals and Crowns to get done, this is enough to justify the trip.  My Dentist comes to me Highly Recommended by numerous Alaskan friends who have used him.

Anyhow, every trip I make down to the Lower 48 these days brings me some new insights into how things are progressing with the spin down. Needless to say, up in the Mat Valley of Alaska, you don’t get a real feel for what is going on down here.

For my first new experience on this adventure, I got my first Molestation from the TSA Perverts. Ted Stevens International Airport finally got its Full Body Scanners and mine showed up “too many hot spots” so I got the full Blue Glove exploration of the Family Jewels. LOL. The pervert doing the job had a rehearsed Patter as a constant drone explaining what area he would touch next, when he would use the Back of his hand instead of the front, all almost unintelligible its spouted off in a monotone with no inflection to the voice. Anyhow, after coming up Clean I asked him just why I had “hot spots” that needed the pat down when nothing was there. His response was that sometimes the machine gets confused by folds in the clothing etc. Anyhow, its just freaking stupid, everybody knows you will get scanned so nobody will be carrying weapons this way. If you want to carry something, you will do orifice stuffing. Until they start doing Anal and Vaginal cavity checks, this is just a waste of time. I could come up with a zillion other ways to creatively turn the average Wheely Bag into a weapon also.

Anyhow, this bizness doesn’t bug me or embarass me and it certainly does nothing to keep me from carrying my weapons along for the ride. My weapons are words and ideas, and I carry them inside my head, not outside my body or even in my body cavities.When Fatherland Security bans Laptops on Commercial Airlines, I’ll have a problem.  Until then, ” Have Keyboard, Will Travel”.

The next BIG Difference I saw or rather heard was Militarization Propaganda. First off, now in addition to First Class Passengers and Handicapped people and people with small children getting first Boarding Priviledges, Military Personnel in Uniform travelling also get to board first. I saw many more Military in fatigues travelling this go round then I ever have before. There were also numerous announcements about supporting our Troops defending our Freedom and so forth. Tourist and Bizness flying may be declining, but I suspect it is being made up for by the military using the commercial aviation system as a troop transport and redeployment mechanism.

Upon my arrival as I drove down here and saw the sprawl across the Arizona Desert, it drove home to me once again how appallingly unsustainable the model is here, there just is not enough WATER around natively to support towns and communities that are really dropped intot he middle of NOWHERE. They are only there because they serve as waypoints between the very few places that there IS enough water around, like in Yuma which sits right on top of the Colorado River, though by the time it gets down to Yuma its a pretty pathetically small river. Then of course you have the fact that down the line here the water needs of this side of the border are balanced against the needs on the CA side of the border, not to mention the Mexicans.

The water avaialble from the river does make Ag possible around here, I passed numerous Green Farms surrounded by Brown Desert. However, such irrigated Ag has salinization problems over time, and I doubt without liming the soil and the constant input of fossil fuel based fertilizer you could continue making this ag land productive. Then you have the fact its so far from everything and surrounded by vast stretches of Desert with NO water. Even if you can grow stuff around here, how will you move it from here to anywhere else without the Trucks and the Oil?

Regardless of all these very obvious problems, in these last 20 years or so Arizona was very attractive land for RE Developers on the Suburban Sprawl model. There is a lot of land, all very FLAT and easy to layout a road structure on and drop whatever kind of structure it is you would like on it, be it Mcmansions or Malls. The prices could be made attractive to aging Boomer Retirees since the land itself was so cheap. They love the nice Warm and Dry climate also, long as they have HVAC in the Malls and McMansions of course.

Even MORE than McMansions though, what you have down here are a PLETHORA of Bugout Machine Communities. This actually makes the most sense of anything done down here to date. All you need to do to set up a Bugout Machine community is provide Hookups for water, electric and sewer, a Pad to park on and the Retired Boomer can live cheaply down here most of the year, and then occassionaly drive the Bugout machine to visit Grandkids sprinkled all over the rest of the lower 48.

Besides the Boomers living in classy Diesel Pushers, you also have many more lower class older Mobile Home parks which are home to the local Ag workers, and the Service Personnel who staff the restaurants and Malls that serve the retired Boomers. Basically, an economy has developed here which takes the Social Security checks the Boomers live on and then filters it out to the rest of the community through the Malls and Restaraunts. Sense a problem with this?

Really, the economy here depends on the Transfer Payments made through Social Security. The overall cost of living for someone on SS is sufficiently cheap if you live in a Bugout Machine that even with JUST SS you have surplus income to spend at the Mall and Restaraunts. Since aging Boomers looking for cheap places to live on SS is a Growing Demographic, Yuma’s Future was so Bright you Hadda Where Shades if you were an RE Developer, and so they built up yet another one of those MONSTROUS Mall/Hotel complexes, where I am currently writing this missive from. It looks new enough to me that it was likely built in the last decade. Got your Dillards, Target, Sam’s Club, Olive Garden, Red Lobster et al, along with several redundant 3 star Hotels where in theory I suppose the developers figured Grandkids would stay when visiting Boomer Grandma and Grandpa, since they can’t all fit in the Bugout Machine. Also of course trying to attract the Convention Biz, so these hotels have the meeting Rooms and the Spas as well.

Know what I PAID for my spacious and comfy Hotel room here? $40/night on the Travelocity “Super Secret Deals” plan. On this one, you don’t get to know the name of the Hotel until AFTER you pay for it in advance, but I figured what the hell I would take a chance. In my trucking years, I stayed in many Roach Motels, I have no problem with this as long as the place has a working shower, a fridge for my beer and wireless internet I don’t mind sharing the space with a few roaches and spiders and having Welfare Moms for neighbors. I just paid the SAME price I paid for that kind of stay in a Roach Motel at this place! LOL. Its a freaking palace.

Obviously, my $40/night is not going to pay the mortgage on this CRE. This sucker has to be losing money hand over fist here.

View from RE's Room Balcony

However, the Mall and associated Restaurants all seem to be doing OK. Long as the SS checks keep rolling in and the Dollar still works to buy something, Yuma’s Future remains pretty bright overall. You can live overall very cheap in a Bugout Machine here, you don’t have Mildew or Condensation problems, and currently the flow rate from the Colorado river is sufficient to keep the water and sewage systems running OK.

In this respect, the Bugout Machine paradigm is pretty good around here these days, and probably for a little while yet to come also. Its certainly better than anyone who bought one of the Fixed Retirement Homes in the neighborhood, at least when it goes south here if you keep enough Gas inthe tank you’ll have enough to unhook and drive up into the Rocky Mountains where maybe you can find a spot to park it for good that actually gets some Rainfall.

For the older folks who need Medicines also, you can cross the border over to Los Algodones whenever you need to and buy your medications at 20% of what you would pay here for the same stuff. Of course, you will need Gas to get to the Border Parking Lot, and once the dollar goes south or Mejico completely collapses, this system will stop working also.

In the long term, most of the stuff built up around here is an ENORMOUS Ghost Town in the making. Those SS checks are not going to keep coming in perpetuity, and Gas to move around the vast sprawl of the Desert won’t be available either. The Water will get diverted from here to other places also. What this area can support sustainably is FAR less than the number of Bugout Machines you see parked all around the neighborhood. Until the Seneca Effect Sudden Stop occurs though, the economics here work a bit better than they do in some other places like the Rust belt and Inner Shities.

Until this occurs though, you can enjoy a first class Hotel stay and get your Teeth fixed up on the Cheap in Mejico down here in Yuma, and go visit the Prison also, which is a Legendary One and is one of their biggest Tourist Attractions. Culturally speaking of course, if a prison is your big Tourist Attraction, there is something seriously WRONG with your culture to begin with, but let us not dwell on that one too much here.

More tomorrow after I get back from over the Border.

RE

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