Time Flies when you're having fun, or so they say.
As the global economy tanks and the fun fund implodes, does this imply that time slows down? Me thinks not.
This morning, Ben Bernanke spoke to Congress's Joint Economic Committee concerning the outlook for the US economy. The unsurprising but discouraging conclusion: it's not good.
I don't know about you, but I am not just watching the news about our lousy economy; I am experiencing it. I do not know a soul who isn't. From this vantage point it seems to me that our economic chieftains, governmental and corporate, as well as the media pundits, have got the thing all wrong.
Consumers not spending is not the problem. Consumers aren't spending because they do not have the money. Small businesses, which according to the Economic Census, make up 99% or more of all businesses,1 cannot get credit from The Banks.
Technology illiteracy is not the problem. I can't tell you how many knowledge workers I know who can't find work and have either lost, or are on the verge of, losing everything. It's not just young people: it's everyone. People over fifty, who conscientiously undertook the slow, careful climb to greater job satisfaction, professional status, and income — suddenly find themselves out on the street, but with an expense structure that reflects their investment in their career(s). Cut back?! You can't lay off your children. It's great to fund infrastructure projects — heaven knows we need to upgrade — but that is not enough.
The problem is far bigger, and - I dare say — more sinister. Two years ago, I briefly held a consulting position at NTIA - the National Telecommunications and Information Agency. Setting aside the bizarre management climate of the place (my role was not one that required a security clearance, but I was prohibited from even speaking to any other employee at any level), I witnessed the following:
The Stimulus program (at least the part administered by Commerce) was a gigantic give-away from the gargantuan, wealthy US government (funded by taxpayers but controlled by monied interests), to its gargantuan, wealthy confrères in the ruling class. Inside deals with huge government contractors, state governments, and corporate astroturf institutions were the norm — so much so that they were assumed to be the only option. While I was not permitted to speak with anyone, lobbyists could sail in and corral the time of anyone at any level. It was highly educational, in the sense that all learning comes with pain.
It's no wonder that even the paltry "Stimulus" effort didn't work: the money merely exchanged hands within that small, coddled group otherwise known as "the 1%." To be clear, I completely, categorically reject everything the "Tea Party" stands for. That said, if the leaders of government and industry weren't busy adding (kevlar) layers to the cocoon of money and power that already encases them, they would have a clue about the nature and magnitude of the needed changes.
I don't want government to go away. I simply want it to exit the Matrix.
1 According to the Small Business Administration, small businesses comprise over 97% of all US businesses. The SBA's definition of small business is most closely calibrated to manufacturing — businesses with 500 - 1,000 or fewer employees fall within its definition. However, if one adds to that businesses with 20 or fewer employees and Non-employers - businesses where the owner is the sole employee as does the US Economic Census, the percentage climbs even higher. Who, then, are the "job creators?" They are the small enterprises who are being starved by the large ones.