Keith Johnson
Revolt of the Plebs
August 17, 2010

Hicks: Game over, man! Game over!

from Aliens (1986)

The very fact that you are reading this may indicate that you suffer from a psychosis characterized by delusions of grandeur, coupled with feelings of euphoric bliss, at the prospect of being clued in to terrible events and conspiracies that may be contributing to the end of civilization as we know it.

Whew!  That was a mouthful.

Back in early February of 2009, Hugo Lindgren—writing for the New York Times—coined the phrase “pessimism porn,” referring to a “fantasy world of the web” where dire economic predictions are cast by self-righteous doomsayers and apocalyptic futurists.  According to Lindgren, those of us who give credence to such notions are merely addicted to bad news, and have a false sense of superiorityover “ all these heedless knaves who have no clue what’s coming down the pike.”

obamaville

What were once known as “Hoovervilles” during the Great Depression have now become known as “Obamavilles.”

In Lindgren’s article, the author takes particular pleasure in poking fun at trends forecaster Gerald Celente’s predictions concerning a middle-class tax revolt, food riots, and a Central Park engulfed by shantytowns.  The term “pessimism porn” caught on, and was later picked up by ABC News correspondent Dan Harris, who also ran a similar attack piece on Celente, in April of that same year.

Harris made light of Celente’s predictions for a new Great Depression, even going so far to suggest that the idea of people living out of storage units was a far-fetched concept.  He also tried to paint Celente as some sort of paranoid survivalist who would rely on his close-combat skills, and a German shepherd, to protect himself in the event that turmoil ensues into full-fledged battle.”

Harris concluded his tongue-in-cheek piece by assuring his audience that most mainstream economists did not hold Celente’s views.  To prove it, he provided a link to another ABC News article—from January, 2009—where Nobel Prize winning economist, Paul Krugman, was quoted as saying, “We’re not in a depression. But we are in a situation where the normal tools don’t work and we’re back to [a] 1930s-type environment”… “My great fear is not that we’re going to fall into a Great Depression in the next year,” he said. “My fear is that we’re going to have a lingering, major slump for two, three years.”

This is the same Krugman who insisted that our only solution to the economic crisis is for the government to spend more money.  “Government spending is the only surefire way to create employment,” said Krugman.

At the time, he didn’t believe that the $775 billion proposal from then President-elect Barack Obama was big enough. “At max, the U.S. government can probably borrow another $5 trillion,” Krugman said. “Hard to believe, but we can probably get away with that if we have to. I hope we don’t have to spend that much.”

It’s now been well over a year and a half since the aforementioned articles were written.  I wonder if ABC’s Dan Harris has given any consideration to following up on his piece, and determining which financial guru’s forecasts have proven to be most accurate?  If he did, he may be astonished to learn that the man—whom he considers as a barometer for mainstream consensus on the economy—is now starting to sound more like Celente each day.

Late last June, Krugman wrote an op-ed piece, for the New York Times, where he concedes, “We are now, I fear, in the early stages of a third depression. It will probably look more like the Long Depression than the much more severe Great Depression. But the cost — to the world economy and, above all, to the millions of lives blighted by the absence of jobs — will nonetheless be immense.”

Quite a turnaround, don’t you think?  Does this relegate Krugman to the category of a dissenter, who is now purveying doomsday tripe in the vein of fellow outcast, Gerald Celente?  Or does Krugman’s views now bring Celente into the fold of mainstream consensus on the economy?

Well, I think we all know the answer to that.  The mainstream media will never allow Celente to be accepted into the ranks of legitimate discourse, regardless of how accurate his predictions are.  Never mind that his forecasts relating to a middle-class tax revolt have already come true.

I don’t need to remind you that—little more than a month after Lindgren and Harris mocked Celente’s wacky conspiracy theories—“Tea (Taxed Enough Already?) Party” protests began to pop up all across the nation to revolt against everything from TARP bailouts to mandatory health insurance.

And let’s not forget some of Celente’s other predictions that have been made the brunt of so many jokes from the likes of Lindgren, Harris, and a variety of other hacks.  Take the subject of “food riots” for instance.  Though they have yet to become commonplace in American cities, many factors leading up to that realization have already begun to unfold.  Paul Joseph Watson recently wrote that,“Globalist mouthpiece the Financial Times concedes that “another food crisis does not look out of the question,” as a result of Russia’s wheat export ban, noting that food riots occurred in developing countries two years ago amidst similar conditions.”

“Allied with proposed consumption taxes on carbon dioxide, spikes in sales taxes, income tax bracket hikes, gas price increases, crippling austerity measures, and the sinking U.S. dollar, skyrocketing food prices will serve to further financially castrate Americans, achieving the elite’s goal of eviscerating the middle class by forcing them to adopt lower standards of living and becoming more dependent on big government for their sustenance and survival.”

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Though Americans—for the most part—can still find a meal or two to get them through the day, we are beginning to witness tensions rising, all across the nation, as people struggle to secure things as basic as shelter.  According to this recent article from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

“Thirty thousand people turned out in East Point on Wednesday seeking applications for government-subsidized housing, and their confusion and frustration, combined with the summer heat, led to a chaotic mob scene that left 62 people injured.”

“At the Tri-Cities Plaza Shopping Center, emergency vehicles passed each other, transporting 20 people to hospitals. Medical and police command posts were set up on scene. East Point police wore riot gear. Officers from four other agencies supported them. Yet no arrests were made.”

“All of this resulted from people attempting to obtain Section 8 housing applications and, against long odds, later securing vouchers for affordable residences. Some waited in line for two days for the applications.”

Yeah—people are desperate, and when they are unable to secure adequate housing in major metropolitan areas, you may actually begin to see places like “Central Park engulfed by shantytowns.” Not that that’s anything new.  During the last Great Depression, Central Park was host to a dozen or more shacks in what the Parks Department describes as “Hoover Valley.”  During the winter of 1932-1933, more than 1.2 million American’s were homeless; 2000 of those were New Yorkers.  Today, 25,000 New Yorkers find themselves in similar predicaments.  That’s 12X the homeless population of the Great Depression.  By this calculation, it is realistic to envision hundreds of makeshift settlements springing up there in the not-so-distant future.

What were once known as “Hoovervilles” during the Great Depression have now become known as “Obamavilles”: tent cities that have been found across the nation, populated by scores of homeless.  Some are found in the most unlikely of places, like the Island of Oahu—President Obama’s own backyard—where 50 acres of Navy and Public land are home to more than 60 different encampments, and populated by desperate people who have been driven off the island’s beaches and city parks by police and city officials.

In March of 2009, Obama was asked to comment on his concerns over the tent cities.  He responded by saying that it was “not acceptable for children and families to be without a roof over their heads in a country as wealthy as ours.”

It’s pretty hard to take him seriously at his word, especially in light of the fact that he is currently embarking on his fifth vacation since the beginning of July.   This week, the Obama family is expected to take a 10-day trip to Martha’s Vineyard where they will be staying at the 28-acre oceanfront Blue Heron Farm that rents for up to $50,000 a week.  This comes a little more than a week after wifey, Michelle, returned from a glitzy Spanish vacation where she, and 40 of her closest friends, occupied up to one third of a 160 room resort where rooms go for about $7,000 per night.  Transportation aboard Air Force 2, and housing for 70 Secret Service personnel, has made this one damn expensive—taxpayer funded— shopping spree.

This kind of lavish spending is what you might expect from rich elites, who have amassed fortunes, and have no obligation to share their wealth with the less fortunate.  But for a taxpayer funded public servant to splurge, in the middle of the worst financial crisis in modern history, is nothing short of a crime against humanity.  Think how many beds and meals could have been furnished to the countless veterans, children and single mothers living on the street—whose lives have spiraled out of control during these tough times and made even worse as a result of the actions taken by our own government.

It’s easy for Obama to promise that he will bring an end to homelessness within 10 years.  Bush did the same thing back in 2003.  But such promises always come in the form of “studies” and “proposals” that never see the light of day.  Funding for the homeless is campaign rhetoric that always takes a back seat to other pressing budget priorities like war and Wall Street bailouts.  Meanwhile, on any given night, more than 640,000 men, women and children find themselves without shelter in America, and according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the number of homeless families has increased by 30 percent over the past two years, to 170,000.

And, just as Celente predicted, some of these homeless families are now using storage units for shelter—a concept that ABC’s Dan Harris appeared to think of as odd back in April of 2009.  By September of that same year, The Tampa Tribune ran a piece that reported Along with dusty family heirlooms, mattresses and furniture, self-storage units are serving as homes for a growing number of homeless people.”

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“It’s not a widespread practice, but there are more people renting space and sneaking in at some storage units around Hillsborough County. There’s no plumbing, and it’s strictly against a myriad of rules, but people without homes are finding the rent cheap and accommodations safer than on the streets.”

But—of course—to dwell on such trivia is the trait of a pessimist.  Both Hugo Lindgren and Dan Harris would agree that those of us who seek out this kind of information are doing so to satisfy a morbid curiosity akin to a gawker at the scene of a car crash.

Maybe they’re right to some degree.  Maybe we can be found at the scene of the crash.  But it’s certainly not to satisfy a morbid curiosity.  We’re there because it was our car that was involved in the crash, and those are our family members who were injured.  We’re there to find out what happened, and who is responsible.  We’re taking pictures, getting witness statements, and making sure no one tampers with the evidence.

If that makes us pessimists, then I must assume that an optimist is one who drives by the crash site and pulls into the nearest bar so he can drink himself into believing that he did not see what he just thought he saw.

The optimist believes that what he doesn’t know won’t hurt him; while the pessimist believes that what he doesn’t know may very well sneak up behind him someday and bite him near the pocket he carries his wallet in.

Being a pessimist isn’t for everybody, and if you want to avoid becoming one, then I suggest you confine your reading to the pages of the mainstream press.  There you’ll find plenty of good news to feed into your optimism, like: Obama signs manufacturing bill or President Obama signs $26 billion jobs bill.  But if you want to stay in a good mood, I would strongly advise against reading beyond the headlines.  If you do, you may enter through a gateway that leads to a life of hardcore addiction.

You may be compelled to dig deeper once you learn that Obama’s manufacturing bill does nothing to bring manufacturing back to the United States, but rather sets up a bi-partisan commission to “study” the causes of the trade gap with China, Japan and Mexico.

Or you may be enticed to investigate further once you discover that Obama’s job bill does nothing to create new jobs or save those jobs that actually help stimulate the economy (like farming, manufacturing or new technologies), but rather rewards 26.1 million taxpayer dollars to irresponsible state and local governments that are predominantly controlled by powerful police and teachers unions, and whose support is critical for the upcoming elections.

See what I mean?  Once you get started, you just can’t stop.

I would agree that all of this stuff is pretty nasty and hardcore, but it certainly doesn’t qualify as porn.  Porn is sensational and exaggerated, while the issues concerning our economy are very real and disheartening.  It affects us all in very intimate ways.  We cannot become detached from it or view it from the peripheral.  We are active participants, struggling to discern the facts from the fictions that are often laid before us as obstacles.

The daily struggle to find the truth is not a masturbatory exercise in futility.  It is an ugly, dirty and animated war for information.  To be involved, you must be a warrior, not a spectator.

The definition of  pessimism is:

The doctrine or belief that the evil in the world outweighs the good.

While I may believe that evil men overwhelmingly occupy seats of power, I am confident that good people outnumber them several thousand times over.  But until I see these people wake from their slumber, and rise to join the fight, I will remain…a pessimist.


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