Summer of Tough Love

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Summer of Tough Love by James Howard Kunstler

The golden Colossus of Trump looms over the national scene this summer like one of Jeff Koons’s giant, shiny, balloon-puppy sculptures — a monumental expression of semiotic vacancy. At the apogee of Trumpdom, everything’s coming up covfefe. The stock market is 5000 points ahead since 1/20/17. Little Rocket Man is America’s bitch. We’re showing those gibbering Asian hordes and European café layabouts a thing or two about fair trade. Electric cars are almost here to save the day. And soon, American youth will be time-warping around the solar system in the new US Space Corps!

Enjoy it while you can. Events are converging ominously this summer in the direction of unwinding expectations and serial train wrecks of finance and politics. Mr. Trump has made hubris simple by bragging on the supposed triumphs of “his” economy. When it blows up, he’ll own that, too, and the second half of 2018 liable to be a debris-field of shattered national economies, zombie corporations, and floundering institutions.

A new supreme court justice will be the very apex of Trump triumphalism, but whoever the pick is will goad the Democratic “progressives” to new depths of antagonism, so expect more street-fighting by the black-masked Antifa forces during the senate confirmation debate. Some sort of martial law will be invoked by a governor, or perhaps even the president himself. Initially that would amount to little more than curfews, but they’ll be ignored, and then the fun will really begin. Think: national guard troops and angry clashes. The tone will be low, and sinking fast.

If Antifa acts up the way I anticipate, it will drag the Democratic Party closer to extinction. The party celebrated a week ago over the rise of Evita Peron wannabe, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Her youth and glamour intersect with her socialism, a doctrine that caused more human deaths in the 20th century than all the religious wars of the previous centuries. What’s not to like about it?

The blowup of the bond and stock markets later this year will put to a gloomy rest the ludicrous notion that America has been enjoying a great economic boom. It’s actually been an engineered hallucination, thanks to the global monetary authorities applying the magic of limitless credit to a bad habit of credulous speculation. The central banks have launched a program of so-called “quantitative tightening (QT)” — an idiotic phrase meant to counterpoise the equally fatuous “quantitative easing (QE),” PhD economist-speak for grotesque interference in the bond markets — that will choke down the credit supply at exactly the moment that governments and giant corporations need new loans to pay the interest on old loans. The trajectory there is obvious.

The big question, of course — hardly ever asked in the public arena — is what that will do to currencies, i.e., money. It can really only go two ways: either make money very scarce, in which case a lot of people and enterprises go broke, or, if the monetary authorities respond to the predicament by enabling a return to bottomless credit issuance, the money will become worthless — they’ll be plenty of it, but it won’t buy much. Such a turn of events will make an already-unhinged nation fly apart.

Lurking in the background of all this are several other consequential movements, trends, and troubles. One is the fate of the European Union. The quarrel over migrants from the Middle East and Africa will not be resolved happily. Germany and France will not succeed in bullying countries like Austria, Hungary, and Poland into absorbing more of these strangers. The more the EU pushes, the more they will feed nationalist sentiment in these places. And of course all the Big Dawgs of the EU are already stuck with millions of newcomers they foolishly invited the past several years, and all the problems they brought with them.

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James Howard Kunstler

James Howard Kunstler says he wrote The Geography of Nowhere, “Because I believe a lot of people share my feelings about the tragic landscape of highway strips, parking lots, housing tracts, mega-malls, junked cities, and ravaged countryside that makes up the everyday environment where most Americans live and work.” Home From Nowhere was a continuation of that discussion with an emphasis on the remedies. A portion of it appeared as the cover story in the September 1996 Atlantic Monthly. His next book in the series, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, published by Simon & Schuster / Free Press, is a look a wide-ranging look at cities here and abroad, an inquiry into what makes them great (or miserable), and in particular what America is going to do with it’s mutilated cities.