The State of the States

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The State of the States

Postby admin » Mon Jan 28, 2008 6:43 am

Well, I am back in the States for my first time in over 4 1/2 years. Thought I would posts some observations on the State of the Union, as official State of the Union address is tomorrow.

Really I don't have a lot to say, and everyone else seems to not have a lot to say either. I think there is a general sense of relief that Bush is on his way out, and people are just tired of the whole mess all the way around.

The economy is a different issue. I think the economy here is in far worse shape than is being covered in the media. I went through LAX and Las Vegas air ports, arguably two of the most trafficked airports in the world during a Tuesday afternoon, the first business day of the week after a long holiday and the airports where both dead.

I remember going through LAX several years ago and sitting in a line of airplanes for 45 mins waiting for 50 plains in front of us to take off. Nothing this time. Flights where half full, airport bars where empty, and security lines where no more than one or two people at a time.

I have also noticed that just about every other building on the streets has empty space for rent. Las Vegas is one of the fastest growing cities in the US, and I don't see the construction trucks and projects like I use to as moved around the city.

One of the larger malls in Vegas is running at about 1/3 the people I use to see, and the parking lot is only about 10% full, when it use to be more typically about 30-40% full on a normal day.

I do have to say that people don't seem nearly as stressed as they where the last time I was here, relatively speaking. There seems to be general sense of political and social numbness now, as apposed to kind of general panic that seemed to be everywhere in the States about 5 years ago. I really can not put my finger on what that is I am seeing in peoples faces and behavior here. Perhaps it will strike me later. I would describe it as a general lack of joy, but not a stress sort of unhappiness.

Perhaps we can round up some animal behaviorist, anthropologist, and a fat research grant to figure it all out.

The things I find I miss about the States are really fairly trivial. Most of it either has to do with shopping or food, which I guess kind of sums up what the U.S. society has degenerated in to in recent years; basically, it is now a big mall with a food court.

I am rather shocked now by the level of poverty in the States. Somehow, after seeing different forms of poverty all over the world, the poverty in the States seems somehow more malicious and intentional. Some of the poverty I have seen in other countries is even orchestrated through various social means, but in the States it seems somehow actively engineered.

There seems as if there is no excuse for it to exist here, but it is everywhere. It has not gotten any better in recent years, and with the mortgage and economic crisis the little bit of credit many of them had is now gone. That is the many that where on the verge of stepping foot in to the middle class, will now have to wait until the next generation to have a chance at it. There is most definitely a debtors prison in the States, and many times it even comes with bars.

Perhaps most malicious is the sort of working poor. Neither poor nor rich, but one paycheck, trip to the hospital, or some other disaster away from loosing everything. They are everywhere here. In that respect, I would say I do see fear in peoples eyes. They have been victims of an economic terrorist attack, and they are just waiting for the next wave to hit.

I find the whole thing very depressing and just want to go home to Chile.
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Postby RWS » Mon Jan 28, 2008 11:50 am

I'm intent upon leaving the States for reasons not dissimilar to those expressed (though in more extreme form) by EE.UU., but my perceptions of current reality here differs. I was educated and have worked successively as an historian and as a lawyer. I live in the northeastern states, have friends and relatives (hey, after more than a dozen generations on this side of the Atlantic, one has relatives everywhere) in the southeastern states, the mid-Atlantic seaboard, the Midwest, and the Rocky Mountain and far West, and travel occasionally to those other parts of the country (I visited Los Angeles last week, for example, with impressions much more sanguine than Charles's). And I have lived and visited extensively abroad, remaining in contact with foreign friends and relatives, too.

So, then, here's a brief encapsulation of my thoughts on this subject, formed from the experiences, education, and character. The usual human fear of the future when too much is at risk is expressed through ignoring the threats -- until the threats are immediate, by which time the person can do nothing but freeze or panic; Americans, once a perceptive and industrious people, have become that norm (why the change? too much dependence upon governmental support and protection? unhealthy immigration?). The economic system has some years -- five? ten? twenty? -- to run before a real collapse, though this is a foretaste (of course, so were the 1960s and '70s). And most Americans will stick with the country out of conviction, come what may, for a long, long time (the illegal immigrant from China or Mexico or elsewhere, who comes only for material gain, will of course soon be discouraged by economic failure and go home).

So, then, why am I leaving? At least as much because of what Chile offers -- a less cluttered, less hectic existence in a lovely setting among decent and likeable folk -- as because of what America, after a dream of four centuries, no longer does. And I hope that no one goes to Chile chiefly because he's running from somewhere else.

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Postby Gloria » Mon Jan 28, 2008 12:35 pm

I totally agree with everything that has been said here. Time is not going fast enough for me til the day I leave.I won't list the reasons why I want to go back after 39 years in this country.It would take too long.Meanwhile I'm packing and just like Charles..."I find the whole thing very depressing and just want to go home to Chile."

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Postby RWS » Mon Jan 28, 2008 12:49 pm

eeuunikkeiexpat wrote:. . . . "¡Viva Chile Mierda!" and I do say this with feeling and experience as I have already experienced some of that pago de Chile we talk about on this forum. Gotta love the love/hate dynamics there. Chicha anyone?

I'll join the toast (but with tinto)!

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Postby Gloria » Mon Jan 28, 2008 1:25 pm

I'll drink to that! (Cepas de Ovalle please! my favorite.)

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Postby RWS » Mon Jan 28, 2008 1:45 pm

eeuunikkeiexpat wrote:Have you tried vino tinto with harina tostada, flor de azucar and chicha mixed together? :D <hic>

Hmmmmm . . . .

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Postby admin » Mon Jan 28, 2008 3:54 pm

I have seen recessions, and this looks like something way worse than a mere recession setting in. This economic disaster hit the core engine: the American consumer. It struck at home, it hit their credit, and it undermined their confidence in really having a chance to build economic security.

I seen something on 60 mins last night that caught my attention. This real estate agent said that he was not sure who the owners of about 80% of the properties that where going in to default where. They where bundled in to those securities and are owned by hundreds of shareholders and such. So, the houses might not go back on the market anytime soon as the companies go though various liquidations. They have no landlord basically.
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Postby RWS » Mon Jan 28, 2008 4:13 pm

admin wrote:. . . . not sure who the owners of about 80% of the properties . . . .

Purple crazy = eighty, right?

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Postby zulu789 » Mon Jan 28, 2008 6:18 pm

I think the report that Charles mentioned is or was on the front page of Yahoo , today, under the header U.S. foreclosure capital.
Is a snippet of "60 Minutes"
It talks about the city of Stockton ,CA and one of their communities hard hit by foreclosures.

Very depressing...

What people don't realize, is the fact that the banks,who are sustaining huge losses, in time they are going to pull back on lending .

The bond investors will make credit scarce for businesses and consumers.

That credit crunch, in turn, would sparka slow down in production, job losses and further curtail consumer spending.

This gyrating spiral can send the US economy to the pits.

We wait and see,I have hope,,,

After all hope,is the last thing to die...
Between the right and the wrong path,I choose the machete...

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Postby RWS » Mon Jan 28, 2008 6:47 pm

Indeed we should hope that all goes well for Americans and the United States, as for other peoples and nations. Times will likely be tough for most folk throughout the world over the foreseeable future, though, a causa de the harms of overpopulation coupled with very human greed: we are too many, we human beings, and we consume too much, too foolishly.

What a gloomy outlook! Has EE.UU. any more of that chicha?

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Postby Gloria » Mon Jan 28, 2008 10:40 pm

Yes EEUU, fill our glasses please, let that chicha overflow, we needed!!
I'll drink to that....hic!.....again.
I'm from the generation of common sense and wisdom- so don't piss on my leg and tell me it's raining!

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Postby Chuck J 3.0 » Tue Jan 29, 2008 12:09 am

Charles! LAX? My condolences. That place is a freakshow, I avoid it like the plague.

I was in Oregon last summer, (June/July/Aug.) for 9 weeks and the vibe I got was weird. Sort of like being on the Titanic. Or maybe MOBY DICK is a better analogy :-) Cap'n Bush chasing his white whale and the ship sinking in the process. I saw a lot of denial going on, it's amazing how people can BS themselves when they don't want to look at bad things happening.

Chile to me is a like a USA in miniature. They are gonna have a rude awakening also. It's been good times with the 7.8% inflation and the easy credit and people buying everything on credit cards without understanding the downside. Well, there are worse places to be than Chile in a financial implosion but a lot of people here are gonna suffer too.

One of my favorite financial commentators is Jim Kunstler. http://www.kunstler.com/
Not for the easily upset :-)


I'm probably going back to the US in April. I don't want to, I wish I could stay. Going back to my dying country, probably to die with it. I'm not morbid but I'm a lot less safe in Oregon than Chile. Just the police violence in the USA is enough to make anyone ill. A couple years ago one of the most horrific murders of a citizen by the police happenned not 25 miles from where I live in Oregon, The kids name was Fuad Kaady.
Part of the reason I came to Chile was to avoid the financial meltdown and inevitable social dislocation in the US but ironically I'll be there when it happens. Bummer. I'd like to come back to Chile someday but I dunno if it's gonna happen. Well, I'm gonna have a beer now, cheers!


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