There’s the talk…
And then there’s reality.
That’s kind of what this column is all about: big lies — and the dark secrets they hide.
The truth is always out there somewhere, buried on page six of a government report or in the tiny print at the end of a corporate press release.
But sometimes, the truth is a lot closer than you might think…
Too Damned Busy
My wife complains that I am far too solitary, spending my days either gazing at computer screens, or hiking alone in the Appalachian backwoods.
So when she feels that I have become too much of an anti-social misanthrope, she arranges social events for me, in much the same fashion as she used to set up playdates for the kids.
I always grouse and whine beforehand: “I’m too busy… I don’t want to dress up… I hate the Smiths*, he’s such a fatuous ass… yadda, yadda, yadda.
*Names have been changed, mostly so that my wife’s friends will still talk to her.
My wife makes modest attempts to mollify me: “You’ll have fun. John Smith is in business (he owns a local car dealership) and loves to talk about that sort of ‘stuff.'”
In the end, she just grabs me by the ear and drags out of the house. And thank goodness she does, because this last weekend, I actually gleaned one of those hidden truths I spoke of earlier — and from that ass Smith, no less!
After working our way through the usual filler — “Yes, we won’t go far in the playoffs with our quarterback running hot and cold… yes, the local politicians are all either incompetent or on the take… yes, I would gladly take a third scotch, a little ice, no water” — I figured we get down to the inevitable question…
“Did I have any hot tips I might part with?”
But this year, things seemed different.
Smith wasn’t full of his usual braggadocio re: his newest car, his weekend house, the coolest smart phone, et al. Heck, he didn’t even try to pump me for a stock tip this year.
“I gotta tell you, Lass. I’m worried. Oh, I’m moving truckloads of cars again. Honestly, I thank God for all those dealerships that got closed down. My lots are pretty much the only ones left on this side of town now, but it’s all just churn these days…
What, with folks price swapping used cars on the Internet, my guys are getting maybe $100 bucks a car if I’m lucky. I used to make it up on the loan, but now that’s a wreck, because everyone is upside down on their trade-ins, and the banks won’t give us squat.
I just want to know one thing: Is it gonna get better next year?”
I figured I owed Smith some kind of a decent answer, since he had just given me a great tip for a change.
Turns out that same churn we’ve been seeing in the markets — up three hundred points one week, down three hundred the next, crossing back and forth over the year’s open ten, twenty even thirty times, but no real progress for all the effort? — it’s a top-to-bottom thing.
Just about everyone out there has been spinning their wheels this year. All the action in the world, but a hellish time pocketing gains in the end.
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Will It Get Better in 2012?
No and yes!
“Frankly, Smith, the financial side of things is even more of a train wreck than you realize…”
The guys at the top have been lying through their teeth for years now. Forget 2007; these guys have been working over the system — rigging the numbers, bribing the politicians, and raking off the cream — for decades.
And now we are all paying the price.
The dollar’s pure crap, and getting worse by the minute. Far more folks are out of work than the Fed will ever admit, and real inflation (you know, stuff like food, heat, light, and gas) is through the roof.
To be honest, I wouldn’t throw water on a Wall Street banker if his shoes were on fire — and a lot of them used to be my friends!
But here’s the cool part: in the end, none of that matters. Because in the end, we are an enormous country with an enormous desire to do business!
The Best EVER at One Thing
Europe? A bunch of socialist wankers who can’t resist a chance to split hairs.
Putin is about to go down Stalin’s path of thuggery…
China and India are ginning up a foul brew of the worst of Eastern centralism and Western corruption.
Brazil? One good president, really: “Lula” da Silva. After him? I’m thinking Argentina redux here.
But the United States of America was founded on hardcore biz. Folks came here in the first place looking to escape European classist stagnation.
Screw the banks! Forget about the dollar! Blow them all up, and we will happily trade eggs for wheat and wheat for someone who can spin a wrench and fix the mill.
The Sleeping Giant
A German invented the internal combustion automobile. But Americans created Buicks big enough to lose your virginity in the back seat. Also interstate highways, gas stations, and buxom young girls in short skirts and skates bringing burgers and milk shakes to your car door.
Back during the last Depression, some hot heads in Europe and Asia figured to put a fork in us, as we were done. Took us maaaybe a year to churn out enough tanks and aircraft carriers to bury the rest of the planet.
And then we dotted the eye with rock and roll — and the friggin A-bomb!
Go to our worst slum, and you’ll find guys on every corner killing each other for the right to do biz. Yeah, it’s crack and whores, but man do these kids pride themselves on their hustle! Our version of “uneducated life-long loser” knows more about profit and loss than most of rest of the planet.
The Next Big Thing
Right now, somewhere in New York City — or maybe Fargo, North Dakota — a young man is working on the next big thing…
I don’t know what it is, but I have utter faith that someone will slip him a few bucks to bring it to market, in exchange for a piece of the action.
If the folks on Wall Street get their heads out of their rears, they can join the next party. If not, well then let ’em rot.
Because the rest of the country will still be getting stuff done when they are dead and gone.
That’s what I told Smith, and that’s what I’m telling you.
Good luck and good hunting,