The Ghost Of Christmas Present

Apparently, one additional world leader turned up in Buenos Aires without fanfare this weekend. The General Secretary of the North Pole, known popularly as Santa Claus, took his latest-model hypersonic sleigh to the G-20 Meeting and made sure that the global financial elite would find their Christmas stockings stuffed with sugarplums one last time before the great reflation bull market dies of incredulity.

Something drastic was required as so many enterprises were skidding into a ditch last month, especially FAANGs, cars, house sales, and oil, while the Grand Old Man of the Dow Jones, General Electric, was singing its death song like an old Arikara chief in the prairie twilight. The US threat of 25 percent tariffs on Chinese exports was shunted ahead 90 days, giving the almighty algos and their human errand boys one last shot at looting the future.

How exactly will this change the basic equation of China sending its industrial output to WalMart in exchange for American IOUs, while the trade deficit mounts ever-higher and the last holdouts of the US middle class sink into debt, addiction, and hopelessness? It won’t, of course, because Americans have to find another reason to get up in the morning besides reporting to the national demolition derby. I don’t know about you, but it doesn’t warm my heart to hear about x-hundred thousand “housing starts” every month, knowing that it represents the destruction of x-thousand acres of meadow, field, and forest and that what’s being laid down on the landscape out there is soul-crushing infrastructure with no future.

It’s not hard to see why US life expectancy is going down, driven by the two new leading causes of death: opiate drugs and suicide — the former often in the service of the latter. The citizens of this land have exchanged just about everything that makes life worth living for the paltry rewards of “bargain shopping” and happy motoring. But the worst sacrifice is the loss of any sense of community, of face-to-face human transactions with people you know, people who have duties and obligations to one another that can be successfully enacted and fulfilled. Instead, you get to do all your business with robots, even including the robots fronting for companies that seek to ruin you. “Your call is important to us,” says the telephone robot at the hospital billing office dunning you to fork over $7,000 for the three stitches Little Skippy got when his best friend flew the drone into his forehead. “Please hold for the next available representative.” Who wouldn’t want to shoot themselves?

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