Banana Republic Without Bananas

Recently by Fred Reed: Bail

God it’s wonderful – really diverting in a macabre sort of way, at least if you have a diseased sense of humor and enough Padre Kino red. Which I do. As I write the world’s only delusional superflower, perennially in love with itself, navel-gazing as narcissistically as ever, ignorant, self-indulgent, gurbling like an insane relative in the attic and fondling electro-trinkets from Japan, is broke. Yes, we see a beautiful dive from the high board, two somersaults and a half-twist, into the Third World. And so richly deserved.

Congress, a collection of whores, con-men, and penny-ante sharpers from East Jesus, Nebraska, ponders the Great Question: Default now, and admit manfully to being the economic lepers everyone else already knows we are? Or raise the debt ceiling, keep spending like a spoiled Swarthmore sophomore with daddy’s credit card, and collapse a bit later?

It’s just lovely. The World’s Greatest Economy holding out the begging bowl to China. “Alms? Alms for the poor?” Maybe I don’t have enough Padre Kino after all. Maybe there isn’t enough.

On the lobotomy box, congressmen come and go, not talking of Michelangelo, like mayflies but without the brains, calling each other names. They seem to think that they are in an off-year election. I mean, it’s only the future of the country. What, me worry? What if a huge cosmic flyswatter came down on Cap Hill and turned them into barely historical smears? How the hell do you start a cosmic flyswatter?

The Republicans want to protect the wars, the rich, and the military companies. The Democrats want to protect the entitlements. Well, OK, I guess killing Afghans matters more than feeding Granny in Spokane. Unless of course you are Granny. Who really cares? I mean, how many “defense” contracts does she have?

But actually the Dems have the best of the argument of national security. Entitlements are our friend. Welfare is the price we pay for not having the cities burn. Mailbox money is our protection, not gaudy aircraft carriers like the USS Thundertrinket, zooom-kerpow.

It’s the Empire, stupid. You want spending cuts? Easy, if you don’t want to rule the world for three more years before going down history’s cloaca. Pull out of Iraq, Afghanistan, Korea, Japan, and NATO tomorrow. Pull out. Pull out. Coitus interruptus. Stop wasting precious engineering talent and nonexistent money on pointless funsy weapons of no utility: the F35, the Airborne Laser.

Come to think of it, don’t bother. It’s too late. The only sensible answer is cheap Mexican red. The US really is poised to enter Central America. You know, continental drift. It can’t be stopped. South Korea and Finland among others are far more advanced in their internets. Health care in America is first-priced and second-rate. The country is thirty-third in infant mortality. Schooling would be pathetic if we could raise it to that level, the universities largely farces. The Russians and Chinese have manned space programs; we don’t. Industry flees Gringolandia or has fled. The great moiling gerbiltry out there hasn’t figured it out. Wait.

I hear babbling about “the recovery.” Which recovery is that? There ain’t none, boys and girls. There won’t be one. We are not in a temporary recession or correction or what have you. We are going poor. The last dance just finished, and the band is leaving.

And it is self-inflicted. There is, I grant you, a pleasing monumentality about truly phenomenal stupidity. A certain brilliance is needed to be so witless. In this sense the American political system is a work of genius, relying on the principle of Sufficient Ditz-Rabbitry.

You don’t need to fool all of the people all of the time. Enough of the people, enough of the time is entirely adequate. Lincoln knew this but, being a politician, didn’t point it out. Here is the basis of what Americans believe to be a democracy. Curious: Mexicans know they have a corrupt government, but Americans don’t. In the US, books are written about the scams and cons and rips practiced on the public. Few read them, though, and those who do already know what is in them. Enough of the people, enough of the time. If the talking heads on the blinking hamster-diverter don’t talk about the swindles, the rubes never know.

The country is in fact ruled by the interlocking directorates of Wall Street, Washington, and the media, Triamese twins joined at the head and aimed at sucking money from the easily fleeced. We’re not talking Senior Civics and the Federalist Papers. It’s straight drain-the-dullards. And it works. Boy does it.

Can you name anything in America today that is not a disguised fraud? Credit cards are not a convenience, but a way of luring suckers into borrowing crippling amounts of money at usurious interest. The sub-prime circus was carefully designed to do just what it did. There’s the student-loan racket, and Big Pharma: A tiny bottle of ophthalmic salt water from Bausch & Lomb, called Muro, costs $23 in Washington, and about $6 in Mexico. That’s our government, fixing prices that weren’t broken. Pure Third World.

I dunno. What’s going to happen when what’s left of the cream-flow dries up? Maybe it’s the Padre Kino, but…in the last depression of ’29, most of the country was rural or close. People, many of them, lived on farms, and didn’t need much money.

Today most of the population is utterly dependent on remote mechanized farms winch are dependent on supplies of gasoline and chemicals and then on trucks to take the crop to cities that, if the foregoing chain broke down, could not possibly support themselves. The discovery that food doesn’t really come from Safeway will astonish.

I guess I’m paranoid, and no real unrest and disruption could really occur. I guess. I mean, probably. I think. And that’s a good thing, because with so many people dependent on entitlements, to the extent that they can’t eat without them, and everything dependent on intricate systems that can’t handle chaos – hooboy. Think: What happens to skyscrapers if there’s no electricity for elevators?

I say invest in drug cartels. Some say gold, but you can’t smoke gold. When times get bad people want booze, grass, crack, scag, crank, Oxys, and maybe shrooms for the more advanced. Investment is low, and governmental interference has proved minimal.

I hope I’m crazy. I’d better be.

Fred Reed is author of Nekkid in Austin: Drop Your Inner Child Down a Well and A Brass Pole in Bangkok: A Thing I Aspire to Be. His latest book is Curmudgeing Through Paradise: Reports from a Fractal Dung Beetle. Visit his blog.

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