Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays?

And so it is Christmas. And what have we done?

To any objective, ground-level observer (as opposed to the tower-dwelling elite still drinking the Friedman Twins' Kool-Aid), times is hard. Office Depot has axed two stores. Kennecott is set to whack a big chunk of the few remaining, living wage jobs around here. KB Toys finally filed for bankruptcy. Costco's profits are flat. General Growth Properties continues to teeter on the edge of bankruptcy, threatening to leave the Cottonwood Mall site as a huge hay field (which I suppose beats the sewer lagoon Mecham has left in Sugarhouse). R&B SunCrest has scrapped its plan to take over The Incredible Sliding Subdivision, leaving Draper once again holding the bag. Jobs are hemorrhaging in town-sized blocs. Big boxes and anchors are going dark. Even though we've torn half the malls in the valley down, the surviving half are barely surviving. The only reason Sportsman's Warehouse has any chance of making it is because a Canadian farmers' co-op wants to buy it and use it as a Merc for its members. And having leveraged itself to the moon to follow gas prices earlier this year, Flying J has now had to file bankruptcy.

How did it come to this? It boils down to a simple fact, folks: We bought a load of hooie. We bought that everyone could own a home. They can't (I don't own a home now, and I won't be buying one soon. If you're smart, you won't either.). We bought that financial experts could take large piles of garbage and make them squeaky clean by dividing them into smaller piles of garbage. How's that again? We bought that we didn't need to grow or make things any more; we could all sit in offices and generate paper and electrons all day, and that would be a sustainable economy. Yeah, right.

We bought and swallowed so much crap, we finally exploded. Just how surprising is it really that we now find ourselves standing here with our guts hanging out?

So what do we do next? So far I don't hear anyone in the halls of power even asking the right questions. So I'll start with this: We've dumped $3 trillion on saving the finance industry; we spent $3.8 trillion (in current dollars) to fight World War II. We fought WWII to save our country and way of life. What sort of country and way of life are we saving with our current spending?

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