Thursday, July 7, 2011

Consumer Confidence Game

Well, so we're in the middle of the vacation season.  As James Kunstler has put it, "The time of the year when we turn Lake George upside down with cigarette boat Cuinsiarts."  Or something like that.  I'll defer to his ability to turn a phrase, but you get the idea.  When the highways are even more choked with people going places they can't afford to go to, so they can start counting down the time until they can go home.

In the daily games of "How do we keep their eye off the ball?" at the alphabet soup networks, the Casey Anthony ordeal has come to a close for the moment, to be replaced by the aftershock of of talking heads all clamoring to make the most outrageous statements about how the process of law should work.  Some people have called for an end to the jury system, and I expect we'll eventually have someone stumble across the Code of Napoleon and decide to apply the bastard child of criminal law in post-Revolution France.  Maybe we'll just skip to the world of Death Race and be done with it (good flick if you enjoyed Running Man...haven't seen the original Death Race, so I can't comment).  

Unemployment is edging back up again, or at least hovering around like a buzzard who wants a snack.  It looks like the steam has run out from the stimulation, the census lift, and the Golden Age of Hiring at the Golden Arches.  Almost ten years of war and a busted economy which is falling off the cliff, slow-motion, like Homer Simpson, are leaving people wondering where we're going next. 

Consumer Confidence, that weathervane of how willing we are to spend money we don't have on crap we don't have, is sinking yet again, two straight months in a row now.  Some people will say that it's a sign we're not recovering, economically, but I think it's a sign that people are coming to their senses and realizing that no promises or debt-based government lottery/stimulus packages are going to make a damn bit of difference in what is a steadily declining nation.

Ultimately, people are going to start seeing they have to learn how to fend for themselves, or at least help each other out.  While I'm pretty jaded a lot of the time about collapse, having maintained this blog for most of a year, having kept something jumped out at me today that made even me sit up.  I was looking through a bookseller's items and noticed the little bar at the bottom which showed what other people were looking at:  Self-Sufficient Life Homesteading, Home Canning, Wilderness Survival Guide Books CD, Survival CD Self-Reliance, Raising Chickens Permaculture...

So much for books about World War Two, the Ford Mustang or vacation homes...


  1. Vacation homes indeed! I'll try moving into that one when they've foreclosed on the one I'm living in now. In the Netherlands they call it Kracking. Here we might start calling it Homesteading.

  2. I've been watching the trend in suburbia for homes being "downclassed" -- where people who pay the mortgage move out and people who don't move in. By the time the bank gets around to kicking them out, the place is trashed and the whole street looks less desirable, then the cycle repeats itself. It seems to be happening around here a lot.

    I don't really care one way or the other about the fortunes of the banksters or the ups and downs of the real estate market. The former will survive as long as at least one printing press is operational and the latter will always be around, even if in a different form ("Yeah, that pasture out behind the old subdivision will be great for grazing a dozen head of you want to make an offer, Farmer Bob?"). What bugs me about it, more than anything, is that these places are suffering a loss and sense of community even worse than what suburban plantation-style living did.

    I guess when the dust settles, people will get together and figure out how to make it work, but it seems like a long slide until then...

    BTW, I have dibs on a snazzy beachfront home on the Outer Banks. Well, until a hurricane that no one predicted (because the satellites will go silent) shows up and demolishes it.

  3. Okay, so I'm growing tomatoes and peppers in pots on my deck. But that's not going to help me pay the electric bill, which is outrageous, or stay warm in the winter. And I'm not about to deal with chickens when I can barely deal with my pets.

    TPTB have no clue about what the average American is dealing with just trying to survive--and they don't give a crap either. The reason people are turning to survivalism, self-sufficiency, and storing up food and ammo, is that they have no confidence in the politicians either. Besides, you can't eat a Chinese chotchka.

  4. Sharon,

    I have to agree. I don't know of many people that are "fat and happy" at the moment. I think we're seeing a reverse of the growth of affluence, into de-affluence.

    People seem to want to expect the future to be like the past and politicians are living in a world of "perpetual growth" and "ever-increasing prosperity." I'm not really sure how anyone can realistically say there's increases in the GDP, unless the books are being cooked at some point, or the truth is ugly enough that it would shatter any remaining confidence people have in our complex systems.

    Myself, I'm really not sure how we all keep limping along...most people these days come off like shell-shocked survivors after a nuclear exchange. The difference is that all the cities are still standing, and most people are still alive, but the sense of being lost and confused and trying to cling to normalcy just pervades everything these days.