Kick Back, Watch It Crumble

Submitted by QTR’s Fringe Finance

The title to this post comes from one of my favorite NOFX songs, Dinosaurs Will Die.

While I’m sure the band in absolutely no way agrees with most, if not all, of my political leanings, the critiques they raise about the music industry in the song could serve just as well as many of the questions I want to ask of legacy mainstream media and politicians from both sides of the aisle in our government.

Leading those questions, for me, is this one: Doesn’t it elicit a hopeless feeling sometimes that we always have to learn the hard way in this country?

Few things are surer than taxes and death, but one of them is that our powers that be will make up any excuses necessary, scapegoat anything possible, and generally exercise every single possible wrong decision before reluctantly realizing that a consequential, uncomfortable yet important, proactive adult decision needs to be made and/or communicated to the American public.

Nobody ever wants to fess up to doing something wrong and nobody has a tolerance for even an ounce of discomfort, even when it accompanies an obvious decision that is in the best interest of our nation.

There have been too many examples in recent memory to name, but one of the latest bouts of us acting like a scared 6 year old with an aversion to reality was the farce of the Fed and Biden administration constantly telling the nation that inflation was transitory, when that has turned out to be the polar opposite of the truth.

Janet Yellen, unable to ascertain a clue in the real world, looking for one in the virtual world.

Zooming out from the inflation farce, monetary policy in general is another example of our inability to digest even subatomic amounts of bad news. We would rather pile on larger and larger tranches of quantitative easing, flying blind and ignorant of the potential consequences of our novel virus of a monetary policy experiment, than deal with the reality—or even the thought—of a recession.

Captain O’Connell said it best in Armed and Dangerous:

“The world is a sh*thole, full of sh*tty little scumbags, who are scared sh*tless.”

Yes, we have chickenshit cowards, whose fragility won’t physically allow their bodies to utter the truth, on both sides of the political aisle. It is a toxic brew of being spineless and an incessant need to be reelected.

Donald Trump lied to us over and over about Covid, saying we had 15 cases that were going to zero. Ben Bernanke told us that subprime housing was contained in the very moments leading up to the 2008 financial crisis. Joe Biden is blaming today’s inflation, very obviously the result of the massive money printing that took place during Covid, on Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump, corporate greed and pretty much any person or inanimate object his feeble brain can conceptualize. Elected leaders support violent protests until they show up on their front lawn. They have no problem telling us that we need to stay home and isolate while they go out to expensive dinners and make trips to the salon. One presidential candidate rails on the other for corruption while engaging in the very same practices they decry.

Out of the hundreds of representatives in Congress, I could probably count the people of integrity from both sides of the aisle using one hand — to say we have lost our way would be a vast understatement. While I thought Bob Moriarty did a great job outlining the end of the empire on my last podcast with him, this weekend provided us an even clearer example of just how profoundly lost we have become.

It’s already bad enough that the nation is in such a precarious debt-to-GDP situation that more than 90% of countries in history that have followed the same fiscal path have wound up defaulting. And it’s similarly disturbing that, despite these obvious realities and the Federal Reserve being stuck between a rock and a hard place, we have thrown our hands up in the air and decided to YOLO the economy by spending as much as humanly possible before the inevitable default.

The Budget and Economic Outlook: 2024 to 2034 | Congressional Budget Office

Honestly, I’m not trying to be hyperbolic, but monetarily and fiscally there seems to be no other way to describe our government’s actions other than willingly and excitedly driving the country full speed ahead towards the death of the dollar.

As if this situation wasn’t insulting enough, over the weekend the United States House of Representatives approved more foreign aid, totaling nearly $100 billion and including $60 billion to Ukraine, without similarly funding to secure our own nation’s southern border.

Putting aside the very real argument that we simply don’t have the money to spend—I’ve given up on trying to reason with anybody about that argument — how could we then still put foreign nations’ security above our own? This weekend was a glaring example of how truly futile an exercise it is to hope for reason and common sense in Congress.

Passing this foreign aid not only shows that our leaders can’t “read the room”, it goes to show they simply don’t know the difference between being nice to other nations versus extending so much help that it becomes counterintuitive to our own country. Not only that, prioritizing the security of other nations over our own is, at its core, a slap in the face to U.S. taxpayers on both sides of the aisle. And after the bill passed overwhelmingly in the House this weekend, representatives tarred and feathered those still-red-from-being-slapped faces by waving Ukrainian flags on the House floor.

Look, playing Devil’s advocate, I know what politicians are thinking (if you can call it that): we are in the midst of defending democracy and Western values by supporting Ukraine and Israel.

They are thinking we have always had an excess of room to spend, and it has never led to meaningful consequences for the country, so why not shovel another $100 billion of taxpayer cash that will be spent without an audit overseas?

They’re thinking the border crisis will be an election issue and that both sides will secretly be happy that an agreement hasn’t been reached so that it can play out as a key issue leading up to November. In addition to thinking these things, they’re thinking generally that they are doing the right thing.

It’s the same type of naïve logic that people reason to themselves when helping out a friend or family member who is an addict. They continue to lend them the 20 bucks a day that they ask for, hoping that eventually they will find a long-term solution to their addiction while staving off short-term withdrawals by buying more drugs, booze or lottery tickets.

They do it so the person stops asking for the day and many times they do it because they think it’s the right thing to do. And, as is almost always the case, it isn’t, and the “helper”, who has actually become an “enabler”, winds up as one of the key figures in an intervention where they have to eventually threaten to withhold all of the “help” they’ve been giving and try to put the addict to a decision to break out of the devastating grip of the addiction pattern they’re in.

I’m not trying to liken Ukraine or Israel to addicts—I can see the benefit to helping both nations and certainly I can see the benefit of trying to defend Western values on a global scale. But it’s when it comes at the expense of our nation that it becomes the wrong decision. And right now, we simply don’t have the resources to offer help and—most alarmingly—we are a nation that needs to help itself first.

I don’t know what it’s going to take for us to reach the point where we realize we need an intervention, but sadly our history of cowardice approaching uncomfortable problems and making tough decisions leads me to believe it’ll come only at a point after it is far too late.

Looking back from that point, it’ll be so obvious how we failed to do the right thing for our country at these crucial moments. We will deal with the consequences then because we will be forced to. Eventually, no matter how catastrophic the issue, we will figure out a path to rebuild—not unlike other nations and empires that have fallen or defaulted—and we will carry on. This I’ve come to accept.

But don’t be surprised if the shame and humiliation of slapping the US taxpayer in the face like we’ve done this weekend isn’t quite as easy to process, get over and rebuild from.

My only hope is that our misguided decision-making at some point serves as a learning experience for future generations. But for us now, sadly, the die has already been cast, and my prediction is the coming years and decades will be bumpy ones.

QTR’s Disclaimer: I am an idiot and often get things wrong and lose money. I may own or transact in any names mentioned in this piece at any time without warning. Contributor posts and aggregated posts have not been fact checked and are the opinions of their authors. They are either submitted to QTR, reprinted under a Creative Commons license or with the permission of the author. This is not a recommendation to buy or sell any stocks or securities, just my opinions. I often lose money on positions I trade/invest in. I may add any name mentioned in this article and sell any name mentioned in this piece at any time, without further warning. None of this is a solicitation to buy or sell securities. These positions can change immediately as soon as I publish this, with or without notice. You are on your own. Do not make decisions based on my blog. I exist on the fringe. The publisher does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information provided in this page. These are not the opinions of any of my employers, partners, or associates. I did my best to be honest about my disclosures but can’t guarantee I am right; I write these posts after a couple beers sometimes. Also, I just straight up get shit wrong a lot. I mention it twice because it’s that important.

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