OT: 'a' and nostalgia (long)

greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread


I hate to let a good rant go untested. On an earlier thread, a had a bout of nostalgia. He pointed out how America had taken a big dive during the past 25 years. Of course, the 74 I remember--the second year of a vicious recession and America reeling from Vietnam, Watergate, oil price shocks and really ugly green shag wall-to-wall carpet.

At times, I think the pessimists hope for a good, hard Y2K hit to snap the U.S.A. into shape. Or, if youre Gary North, you pine for a chance to establish an Old Testament theocracy. (laughter)

America has its problems. It always has. But lest you think theres no good news, Ill take a for a spin around the dance floor:

Yes, Decker the world today IS markedly different than 25 years ago. More folks dependent on the computerized welfare dole.

You are correct. In absolute terms there are more people on the computerized welfare rolls; however, welfare caseloads have dropped by 38% percent since the 1996 welfare reform legislation.

More violence, drugs, and dangerous criminals on the street and in prisons.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, violent crime has been in decline since 1994 and property crime has been declining for 20 years. In 1997, the FBIs crime index rate fell for the 6th straight year and was down 17% from 1991. For actually charting of serious violent crime from 1973 to 1998, see:


On the drug issue,

Today, there are 10 million fewer drug users than there were in 1985; 74% fewer regular cocaine users, and 45% fewer regular users of illicit drugs. There are still too many people addicted to drugs, but what we've accomplished thus far is anything but a failure. Our great progress in lowering rates of illicit drug use is proof that society is not powerless against this problem. Drug use is a preventable behavior, and drug addiction is a treatable disease. (Partnership for a Drug Free America)

In 1974, 37.8% of adult Americans were smokers. By 1995, the percentage had dropped to 24.8%. (Center for Disease Control) [Love to see the percentage of Y2K pessimists that are smokers.]

Less family values and patriotism.

Its tough to quantify family values. In 1974, about 25% of Americans said they attended church weekly. In 1996, the percentage was the same. On divorce, I found this interesting bit:

"Pollster Louis Harris has written, "The idea that half of American marriages are doomed is one of the most specious pieces of statistical nonsense ever perpetuated in modern times."

"It all began when the Census Bureau noted that during one year, there were 2.4 million marriages and 1.2 million divorces. Someone did the math without calculating the 54 million marriages already in existence, and presto, a ridiculous but quotable statistic was born.

"Harris concludes, "Only one out of eight marriages will end in divorce. In any single year, only about 2 percent of existing marriages will break up."

On to nasty urban America:

Many more people concentrated into smaller areas.

Hmmm is urban density increasing? Probably, but agricultural land is not being lost to urbanization. Since 1950, agricultural land has been taken out of production at a rate eight times that of the urban land area increase. (Wendell Cox)

Fewer self sufficient farms and businesses.

In the history of America, we have not had any self sufficient farms or businesses. All businesses depend on trade and commerce. We do have fewer small farms, however, the large farms have been productive enough to keep food prices quite low in real terms.

Lower saving rate, higher percentage living on credit.

The savings rate is rather misunderstood. Heres the beginning of an explanation. The U.S. personal savings rate recently turned negative, signaling that Americans are spending more than they are making. Such an assumption brings to mind the specter of destitute retirees and high-living workers. But those pictures would be false, economists explain.

The most misleading factor is that such figures do not include wealth accumulation through stock market gains. Although the official American savings rate was 0.8 percent in 1997, if capital gains are included the rate rises to 8 percent.

Moreover, the resulting tax payments made on that income -- as well as purchases that these consumers make -- are calculated as indications of reduced savings.

Then there is the matter of the federal government paying down the national debt.

As a result, national savings -- even with the built-in bias that fails to count capital gains in the personal sector -- is currently 17 percent in the U.S. That is certainly close to Europe's 20 percent. "

Source: Klaus Friedrich (Dresdner Bank A.G.), The Real American Savings Rate, New York Times, May 4, 1999.

On consumer credit, a is correct. One should note, however, consumer debt is difficult to measure.



The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City released a new economic study yesterday that says the rising consumer debt burden may not foreshadow an economic slowdown. The report says it is complicated to get a reliable measure of consumer debt since card debt data is skewed by consumers charging routine bills or the rise in card use for business expenses. The study also cites the fact that more credit cards are being issued to lower income households as another factor making debt burden numbers unreliable indicators.

Before I wrap up, we should note some positive economic news: U.S. Unemployment Rate Dips To 30-Year Low

The U.S. unemployment rate dropped to its lowest level in nearly three decades in March but the roaring economy showed signs of slowing down as new jobs grew at an anemic pace, the Labor Department said on Friday. 

And while the market is overvalued, 1974 was an ugly year to own stocks.

Not long after the industrial average punctured the 1000 mark, a recession occurred and the brutal bear market of 1973-74 set in, pushing the average all the way down to 577.60 in December 1974. It would be late 1982 -- a full decade after the 1000 milestone was first passed-- before the industrials rose above 1000 to stay. Dow Jones Diaries Some notes for the a final exam:

1) Office politics do not control labor wage rates.

2) Some tech stocks have been profitable. (See the buy order on Microsoft, early 80s)

3) Recession is not inevitable just death and taxes.


-- Mr. Decker (kcdecker@worldnet.att.net), July 15, 1999


"At times, I think the pessimists hope for a good, hard Y2K hit to snap the U.S.A. into shape." I can only speak for myself. Not so. Even a little bit.

Also, I have no desire to go back to 1974, economically speaking. I have no problem with the argument that 1990s prosperity has been due to a difficult-to-measure technology productivity boost. Wonderful.

I think the evidence is less attractive, far less attractive, with respect to the state of our civic-political life which, IMO, continues to degenerate year-by-year. Since Y2K impacts are as likely to worsen as to improve that, I certainly don't hope for major Y2K impact. The "worsening" could be so much "worse" as to be devastating.

-- BigDog (BigDog@duffer.com), July 15, 1999.

Decker if you haven't figured out we are in the midst of the largest financial bubble in the history of the world maybe you should go back to Eco-101.

More probably you have just finished the newest college course offered:


Get a Life !!

Your Pal, Ray

-- Ray (ray@totacc.com), July 15, 1999.

Decker was an 11-year old kid in 1974.

-- Do (th@math.guys), July 15, 1999.

Econ 101,

If there were NO other evil in the world save for "monetary inflation", that alone would be enough to DESTROY a nation. Edmund Burke

.....I care not WHO controls a country, let ME control the MONEY SUPPLY and I will control the country. Lord Amiel Rothschild father of European Banking dynasty

Still reading the same ole' news that fits, blah,blah, blah,blah.

The real world spins around these above quotes, please remember that we the American people owe our national debt to: who?.................. THE BANKSTERS............. Most everything done by humanity revolves around MONEY. How to get it, steal it, spend it, and then what to control once they get it. All the rest of the USELESS INFORMATION is just humma,humma to drive the printing presses. The GAME is almost over, the banksters can taste victory, Y2K is a "global confiscation" blessing in disguise. When will YOU wake up ???? The trap has been set, WHAT WILL YOU DO???

-- rob (rgt350@aol.com), July 15, 1999.


If you ever hope to pass Spin 101, you will need to become more coherent. First, Mr. Decker has said several times here (at least 3) that he feels the market is substantially overvalued. Remember? Try reading, otherwise you look suspiciously dishonest. Certainly your accusation is clearly and demonstrably false.

Second, this overvaluation notwithstanding, the economy has been very good for the last 8 years. High employment, high productivity, low inflation. Your fear that the world *will* be worse in the future doesn't mean it hasn't been much better for some time up to the present. Don't confuse your terror of the future with our national comfort level today.

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), July 15, 1999.

Decker give me a break! Crime lower now than 73? Just this week in my city, population 100,000, three separate murder trials. Rape. Home invasion. Every day in the papers another violent crime. My neighbor was murdered in a cab here two tears ago. You're nuts, son. We're talking about 1973, not 1994, 1996 or 1997.

BTW...who's gonna provide the y2k preps for the US prison population, largest in the world? Thanks for reminding me.

Now address the other 90% of my post.

-- a (a@a.a), July 15, 1999.


Are you joking? Decker cited national statistics and provided a URL. You give a couple of impressions from local anecdotes and think you've countered his case in any way whatsoever?

Can it be possible that you think y2k will be a disaster because you saw a bug once, and heard about another? If this is how you come to conclusions and convictions, then your convictions can be safely disregarded. What a hoot!

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), July 15, 1999.

Flint commented:

"If you ever hope to pass Spin 101, you will need to become more coherent. First, Mr. Decker has said several times here (at least 3) that he feels the market is substantially overvalued. Remember? Try reading, otherwise you look suspiciously dishonest. Certainly your accusation is clearly and demonstrably false. "

Flint, Decker uses a technique similar to yours, he throws out a bone or two and then starts to tell everyone how great things are. He NEVER mentioned inflation and its devastating effect in the 70s. "Second, this overvaluation notwithstanding, the economy has been very good for the last 8 years. High employment, high productivity, low inflation. Your fear that the world *will* be worse in the future doesn't mean it hasn't been much better for some time up to the present. Don't confuse your terror of the future with our national comfort level today. "

Flint, all financial bubbles have a "comfort period", they also have a time when the chickens come home to roast.

Do you have any idea what approximately 70 Trillion in unregulated Derivatives will unleash? When this baby blows it ain't gonna be pretty !!


-- Ray (ray@totacc.com), July 15, 1999.

You see, herein lies the difference between 'a' and I. (And it's more than just letters.) Economics teaches us to question the "obvious." There are far too many example of "unintended consequences" for us not to test our cherished notions against hard data.

A comparison between 1974 America and 1999 America is admittedly complex. 'A' feels "then" was better than "now." Fortunately, there are numerous data available for us to test his contention. For example, we have added about four years to the average American's lifespan. We can look at a wonderful variety of measures--infant mortality rates, poverty, standard of living. It may not be enough to conclusively prove the point, but at least the exercise of gathering data helps us gain a greater understanding of the question. It also more credible than personal observations about "then" and "now."


-- Mr. Decker (kcdecker@worldnet.att.net), July 15, 1999.

Flint, I come to conclusions by putting 2+2 together and trusting my intellect, not by listening to the Federal government or looking at statistics generated for bureaucrats. I'd suggest anyone listening to Koskinen or Clinton do the same.

-- a (a@a.a), July 15, 1999.

Hey Decker -

How many HOME INVASIONS were reported in 73?

How many CAR JACKINGS in 73?

How many SCHOOL SHOOTINGS in 73?

Use your head, son, it appears to be stuck in a book.

-- a (a@a.a), July 15, 1999.

Here's the violent crime trend you nitwits, IN PURPLE:

Can you read a graph Mr. Macroeconomist? Apparently not. It's DOUBLED since 73. How much do they [over]pay you, anyway? Idiot. Flint, I'll excuse this coming from you because I already know about your "mental handicaps".

-- a (a@a.a), July 15, 1999.

Decker commented:

"Economics teaches us to question the "obvious."

Decker, here are some OBVIOUS things you left out:

1). Current Dividend Yield on the DJI is about 1.5%.
What do you suppose the previous record low was?

2). Current Price/Book Value over 6.
What do you suppose the previous high was?

3). How much debt did corporate America have back in 1929
as compared to today?

4). Do you have one of those 125% loans on your home?

5). Do you know what % of Stock Mutual Funds have
borrowed huge sums against their assets to avoid
selling stocks?

6). Are you aware of how corporations are puffing their
bottom line?

7). Are you ready for the biggest Bear Market in our history?

Your Pal, Ray

-- Ray (ray@totacc.com), July 15, 1999.


You're correct, Decker didn't mention the 70's inflation. Double digits and all. But this only makes Decker's case stronger, unless you sincerely feel (as 'a' apparently does) that runaway inflation made the good old days so much better than the low inflation of today.


I don't know if there are statistics counting these events, but what difference does it make? You have already made it clear that your purely subjective impressions are facts, and actual facts are not relevant unless they agree with you.

Perhaps at a local library you can find 1974 newspapers on file from your area, or any major city. After a few hours of reading, your subjective impressions (or 'reality' as you prefer to call them) may undergo a sea change.

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), July 15, 1999.

Well Flint, I'll clue you in -- there ARE NO statistics counting these events back then. Because that type of violent crime didn't exist. People would usually whack you on the head with a lead pipe and that would suffice. Things have changed. The world is much different.

Did you know that 70 people are MURDERED in South Africa EVERY DAY? Worse than DC, although probably not by much. What happens to South Africa and other violent countries after the crash? Do you think it will involve "blood"?

If you and Deck think the world is a safer place than it was in 73 you're living on a different planet than most of us.

-- a (a@a.a), July 15, 1999.

Flint, time will be the ultimate enemy of this financial experiment. The results will not be pretty and as it has been for time eternal the people will suffer severly for the negligence of their leaders.


-- Ray (ray@totacc.com), July 15, 1999.

Remember growing up in the early 70's Flint? Remember when nobody locked their front door? Remember when folks left their keys in their cars? Remember when parents would let their kids go down the street and play till after dark? Remember when you didn't have to tote your Halloween candy to the ER and have it x-rayed?

Why do you think folks no longer are able to do this Flint? Do you think its because the crime rate HAS GONE DOWN???? You're a silly man Flint. I hope you survive y2k, but with your level of common sense, it's very doubtful.

-- a (a@a.a), July 15, 1999.

Let's start with Ray. I have talked about the overvalued market until I am blue in the face. My own defensive position in short T's is a matter of record. Here's a test question for you. We lost 23% of the market value in one day back in October 1987. Why didn't we have a depression. "Ding." The stock market is not the economy. It's just one piece of the puzzle. There are good things happening in the economy, including solid productivity gains and minimal wage pressure (thus far.) The speculative bubble can burst and we still have the fundamentals... and not all are bad. Call me when you want to go bargain hunting in the post-correction market.

Now to 'a,'

Are you serious? You think we invented violent crime in the late 70s and 80s? Do you think serial killers didn't exist in 1974? Child molesters? Incest? Rape? Random acts of violence? Are you having a lapse, or did you miss the racial violence of the 60s? You want to roll back through American history, and we can violence and depravity in any era. Do you think late 20th century America invented drug abuse or alcoholism? Domestic violence? Do the words "bread and circuses" have any meaning to you?

We had all the normal social ills in 1970 and we'll have them in 2070. If you read, 'a,' I'll give you a little book to peruse:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0465090974/o/qid=932097710/sr=2 -1/002-9979816-1332062

"The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap" by Stephanie Coontz.

"This clear-eyed, bracing, and exhaustively researched study of American families and the nostalgia trap proves--beyond the shadow of a doubt--that Leave It to Beaver was not a documentary."


-- Mr. Decker (kcdecker@worldnet.att.net), July 16, 1999.

Here Decker, I'm just getting warmed up:

Remember when a "gang" was a group of school friends? Remember when kids weren't getting accidentally stuck by hypodermic syringes on the playground? Remember when "going postal" using a mailbox? Remember when metal detectors weren't required on public buildings? Remember when "gated community" was an oxymoron?

You or any of your favorite authors are gonna have a hard time convincing me I imagined all that.

-- a (a@a.a), July 16, 1999.

Here Mr. D -- I hear economists like graphs:

-- a (a@a.a), July 16, 1999.

*Sniff* *Sniff* Hey 'a', are you cooking Decker wontons again?

-- Also good with marinated Decker Stew (chopped@up.Mr.), July 16, 1999.

Yes Decker and his book selling spin doctors will tell me that its all in my head. The statisticians and economists and bureaucrats of the world can't be wrong, and they would never distort the truth for their own means. I just thought the world was a better place back then.

Sorry Deck. You hit a nerve. Must have been that sentencing hearing I went to last week for my dead neighbor. Maybe I imagined that too.

-- a (a@a.a), July 16, 1999.

14 year old kid was the triggerman. Black. Poor. IQ of 69. Accomplice was 15. IQ 75. Very sad.

-- a (a@a.a), July 16, 1999.

I encourage 'a' to find facts that support his case. I think there are much more compelling statistics, however, than the incarceration rate. Does it mean we decided to get tough on crime during the Reagan-Bush years? Does it mean improved law enforcement techniques arrested more criminals? Did statutory changes like the "three strikes" laws increase prison populations? Were there just more bad boys and girls? Or was it the influence of the naughty media? You might want to think about it, 'a.'

(And it seems a bit early to call the debate after one graph. A little bias at work there?)

In point of fact, I did a little light work to put together the original post. I still have plenty of data on medical advances, technological breakthroughs, progress in ending racial and gender bias, the end of the cold war, the reduction of the budget deficit, the increase in free trade, the upward movement of LDCs, new flavors of ice cream, etc.

Well, it's late and I'm turning in. If you ask nicely, 'a,' I'll give you a hand in constructing a counter-argument. (Flint, take it easy on 'a.')


-- Mr. Decker (kcdecker@worldnet.att.net), July 16, 1999.

It is disingenuous to suggest that things are better today because the number of crimes has decreased. Incidents of some categories of crime have decreased not because people or conditions have become better but for three basic, documented reasons:

a) more prisons are holding more prisoners for longer periods of time (although the rate of incarceration has just started to slow);

b) three-strikes-and-you're-out laws have been enacted in many states, helping to produce a), above; and

c) there is a temporary lull in the number of juveniles/young adults--the population showing the highest rate of violent crime. Following is documentation.


Growth in U.S. Incarceration Rate Slowed in 1995-1996 for the First Time in a Decade, According to Justice Department


February 1997

The growth in the incarceration rate in the nation's federal and state prisons and local jails slowed for the first time in the last decade, the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced on January 19 (Darrell K. Gilliard and Allen J. Beck, "Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear 1996" (NCJ-162843), U.S Department of Justice, Office of Justice Statistics, January 1997; Fox Butterfield, "Slower Growth in the Number of Inmates," New York Times, January 20, 1997, p. A10; Associated Press, "U.S. Incarceration Growth Has Slowed," Washington Post, January 20, 1997, p. A16).

The incarceration rate almost doubled during the last ten years and tripled over the last 20 years. In 1985, the national incarceration rate was 313 inmates per 100,000 U.S. residents. By June 30, 1996, this had increased to 615 inmates per 100,000 residents. The incarcerated population grew from 744,208 in 1985 to 1,630,940 by the end of June 1996, an average growth of 7.8 percent a year and an increase of 4.4% over the previous year. As of last June 30 there were 93,167 federal prisoners, 1,019,281 state prisoners and 518,492 jail inmates.

[Breakdown by state.]

Drug convictions accounted for the largest increase in incarceration. Alfred Blumstein, a professor of criminology at Carnegie-Mellon University estimated that drug offenders made up about half of the growth in the prison population during the last decade. Although national crime statistics have shown a decreasing crime rate since 1992, the FBI crime index does include the sale and possession of drugs.

This report can be obtained from the BJS fax-on-demand system (301) 251-5550 or by calling the BJS Clearinghouse on (800) 732-3277. The report is located at: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/.

From the Koch Crime Commission at http://www.kci.org/publication/white_paper/falling_crime/part3.htm

Sentencing Policies and Incarceration

Robbery, theft, assault, burglary, and motor vehicle theft rates continue to decline. Is there a relationship between these types of crimes and those who are now incarcerated?

It is generally recognized that a minority of criminals commit a majority of the crimes; therefore, one offender may be responsible for multiple incidents within a type of crime. In defending the California legislation referred to as "Three Strikes Youre Out," Governor Pete Wilson stated that two-thirds of violent crime is perpetrated by less than 10% of convicted felons. He further related that during the first three years of the law, 2,900 violent criminals in California were imprisoned, while overall crime dropped 20%, with violent crime down 9.3% and property crimes down 14%.4

Most states have initiated tougher sentencing for repeat offenders and for crimes that have a link to the commission of additional criminal acts. Since 1990, the number of people in custody has risen more than 577,100, or 1,708 inmates per week. Today, more than 1.7 million individuals are confined in state, federal, and local correctional facilities.5 As the repeat offenders are taken off the streets, it is reasonable to expect that the repeatable crimes should decline.

Perhaps the state of Texas provides an example of this. In the 1980s, crime in Texas jumped 29%, creating a ratio of eight crimes for every 100 citizens. During the 1990s, after the creation of additional prison space and a concerted effort to fill it with repeat offenders, the rate dropped to 5.6 crimes per 100, the lowest since 1973.6

A recent article in the Washington Times reported that since 1991, when the rate of violent crime peaked at 758 offenses per 100,000 population, the rate has declined each of the following five years, reaching 634 offenses per 100,000 population in 1996, a cumulative decline of 16%.7

Concurrently, the incarceration rate increased from 479 per 100,000 in 1991 to 645 per 100,000 in 1997. How may crimes would have been committed by the 444,000 convicted felons who otherwise would not be incarcerated? Some estimates for the number of felonies committed by a career criminal range as high as 200 per year.8

From the Koch Crime Commission at ttp://www.kci.org/publication/white_paper/falling_crime/part5.htm

Through the analysis of crime data we can develop a profile of characteristics for past offenders. Two of these characteristics are age and sex of an offender who is most probable to commit crimes. Noted criminal justice author R. J. Herrnstein believes that "the typical offender today, like the typical addict, is a young male probably between the ages of fifteen and twenty-four." Presently, there is a low point in the population of those in this group who would be sentenced as adults. The adult statistics have been declining. Juvenile rates have continued to increase in all categories. The present lull is limited in duration, as there is a large juvenile population on the horizon.11

The upcoming group of offenders have already demonstrated a disturbing capacity for violence. The coming crime wave reflects more a poverty of values than a poverty of material wealth.

For those who wish to delve further into the crime question, there is a wealth of documentation to be found on the Net by inserting the appropriate keywords into a search engine. Here are some sites to get you started:

Bureau of Justice Statistics http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov./bjs/pub/html/cjusew96/contents.htm

Law Enforcement News http://www.lib.jjay.cuny.edu/len/

Cecil Greek's Criminal Justice Page http://www.fsu.edu/~crimdo/cj.html

U.S. Census Bureau http://www.census.gov/

FBI http://www.fbi.gov/

Justice Information Center http://www.ncjrs.org/

Intl. Crime Statistics Links http://www.crime.org/links_intern.html

-- Old Git (anon@spamproblems.com), July 16, 1999.

Old Git,

Ah, another try at sociology. What about crime itself? Holding all other things equal, let's say 1,000 people were murdered in Anytown. Wouldn't it be "better" if only 800 were murdered? If I lived in Anytown, I'd be delighted with fewer crimes... not as a socio- economic indicator, but because fewer of my family, friends and neighbors would be victimized. If we have fewer murders because we are locking up the criminals with greater frequency and for longer terms... is there less benefit?

If you actually read what I wrote, I speculated that the crime rate may not be a reliable indicator due to external factors like the "three strikes" legislation. I do not suggest we have suddenly become a nation of really nice folks nor do imply crime is not a problem. I simply reject the notion that 1974 was a uptopic time and 1999 is the edge of the abyss.


-- Mr. Decker (kcdecker@worldnet.att.net), July 16, 1999.

utopic. Oops.


-- Mr. Decker (kcdecker@worldnet.att.net), July 16, 1999.

Amshel not Amiel, and he was right.

-- number six (Iam_not_a_number@hotmail.com), July 16, 1999.

Reluctant to enter the fray, but seeing such Panglossian drivel bothers me. No one has discussed the illegitimacy rate, the abortion rate (Roe v. Wade in 1973), or the number of children in day care. I have to wonder whether Decker is homebound, in a wheelchair? Have you been to a city lately? Or even a large suburban mall? Girls with nose rings and tatoos ain't the America I remember. Girls drowning their newborns in toilets at the prom, and casually going back out and requesting songs would seem to be a new 'thang.' Or kids without compuction shooting down their classmates: our pagan chickens have come home to roost. Turn on a sitcom, if you can stomach it: they've gone so far beyond sexual double-entendres it's shocking. The dehumanization that exists throughout our 'popular' culture is simply unprecedented. Or how about fetal tissue research, and the use of cloned human embryos for medical experimentation: Huxley thought his 'Brave New World' a dystopia when he wrote it. How about the level of personal indebtedness? A record high. And how much of our 'productivity' is due to mom's having to work to pay taxes and make ends meet, neglecting their children? America is a festering abscess, waiting to burst. Panglossian wishful thinking is a rhetorical panacea for our culture of death.

-- Spidey (in@jam.commie), July 16, 1999.

Decker commented:

"Let's start with Ray. I have talked about the overvalued market until I am blue in the face. My own defensive position in short T's is a matter of record. Here's a test question for you. We lost 23% of the market value in one day back in October 1987. Why didn't we have a depression. "Ding." The stock market is not the economy. It's just one piece of the puzzle. There are good things happening in the economy, including solid productivity gains and minimal wage pressure (thus far.) The speculative bubble can burst and we still have the fundamentals... and not all are bad. Call me when you want to go bargain hunting in the post-correction market."

Decker, thanks for NOT answering any of my questions.

Now here is how you are DECEIVING readers, you are pushing the "Market Correction Theory" as are some of the SHILLS on Wall Street (the rest of them claim the market will never go down). The sheeple have no idea of market valuation except for what they hear on CNBC etc from those whose livlihood depends on their 401K money.

The stock market may not "be the economy" but you can bet your bottom dollar it's actions affect the economy DIRECTLY. Todays economy is riding on the "slave labor" of third world countries. We, the US, have consumed to the point of creating the first negative savings rate since 1933. Central Bank and IMF manipulation of the world economy has kept the bubble going for much longer than expected, but this charade is about to end.

You must have missed out on the "Fiat Money Systems-101" course when you went to school. There are enough US dollars floating around the world to sink a battleship. When the rest of the world figures out what is going on these little pieces of paper will find their final resting place in a wheel barrow. Check the fundamentals today versuses 1987, it will be an eye opener.

We had an opportunity to "righ tthe ship" years ago but as politicians ALWAYS do they took the easy way out (keep the sheeple happy and they will vote for us until the cows come home). We are about to pay the price for many years of this financial debacle (70 trillion in unregulated derivatives for one thing) and it ain't gonna be pretty.

Fasten Your Seatbelt.


-- Ray (ray@totacc.com), July 16, 1999.

italics OFF

-- Ray (ray@totacc.com), July 16, 1999.


Ah, sorry if you feel neglected, Ray. I have spent time with 'a' and not with you. Sorry.

Do you really want a view of American economics that has not been "minted" over at one of your gold sites? I have no problem explaining the strengths and weaknesses of the current U.S. economy. I'll point out the structural errors in calculating the U.S. savings rate (as noted above.) I'll discuss gains in productivity and the lack of wage pressure. Falling commodity prices? Increased m/a activity?

I have little time, however, for listening to rants about our central banking system, fractional reserve banking or the gold standard. NO country is going to dissolve its central bank, impose 100% reserve requirements or move back to the gold standard. Period. To imagine otherwise is simple folly... like putting the nuclear genie back in the bottle.

You don't like it, Ray, fine. Exercise your Constitutional right and work within the system to change it. Vote with your feet and move to a country whose economic system is more to your liking. Rant... but don't expect a very large audience.

So, do you want to talk about economics within the realities of the current system... or do you want to rant?


-- Mr. Decker (kcdecker@worldnet.att.net), July 16, 1999.


The quality of living has been drivin to an all time low in Middle Class America.

You don't seem to have a real grasp of the disenfranchised American Center.

Be carefull of the next dehumanized ex-convict you meet as well. He may eat you for lunch. And Guess what, the odds of you meeting one now have increased since your Republican bretheren actually believe that punitive sentencing is a good way to keep them out of society. (Not realizing that if they don't kill them they are just going to come back in 20-30 years and be repeat offenders beacuse they lived for 20-30 years in a dehumanizing environment.)

You make me sick Decker.

Why don't you read a book called "Violence." Its gruesome. Just what you need.


-- b (b@b.b), July 16, 1999.

Decker, you seem to have missed the significance of the following:

"The adult statistics have been declining. Juvenile rates have continued to increase in all categories. The present lull is limited in duration, as there is a large juvenile population on the horizon.11

"The upcoming group of offenders have already demonstrated a disturbing capacity for violence. The coming crime wave reflects more a poverty of values than a poverty of material wealth."

The decrease in crime is only temporary. The jails are full. There will be no place to house these up-and-coming offenders, particularly females, whose participation in crime is accelerating. Either the three-strikes-and-out prisoners will be released early because of overcrowding or judges will give way to increasing pressure to issue only slaps on the wrist to the coming wave of offenders--the same situation we were in a couple of years ago. Also please note this new wave is more violent than the previous wave. In 1974, I was a divorced working mother, rearing a child with neither financial nor practical help from anyone. I remember very well what conditions were like. They were not utopic, but:

My child walked the four blocks to school--alone. He was completely safe riding his bicycle in the neighborhood. Basic necessities were cheap and easily affordable. I had never heard a gunshot away from a firing range. I rarely heard a police siren. People were much kinder to and more trusting with each other than they are today. I can say without hesitation that it would not be nearly as easy to raise my child today as it was then, for many reasons. There is more, but I hope others will post their own contributions.

Trying at sociology? Since I worked as an investigator for a state attorney general's office in 1974, and a year later went to work half each for the National Association of Social Workers and a United Way Agency (counsling aid recipients), you might say that. I did go to Loyola University and major in social psychology, yes, you could say sociology. There are all those years I worked as a paralegal too. And since I've donated thousands of hours working for social service and crime prevention agencies over the years, yes, you might say I try at sociology. And, given the fact that for the last several years I have worked as a crime stringer for a newspaper and TV station and still ride along on patrol on occasion, well, yes, I guess that means I might do a bit more than try at sociology--or should I say criminology?

How many years as an economist lie behind your economic posts?

-- Old Git (anon@spamproblems.com), July 16, 1999.

Decker, even a ten year old with the watered down public education now being served up by LIBERALS can figure out how falacious your arguments are.

You and Flint must have gone to the same "School of Disinformation".

Always remember that economists can't figure out if we have been in a recession or depression until they are over !! And yes Decker you have little time to listen to FACTS. Spin-On my friend while your spinning time still exists!!

Your Pal, Ray

-- Ray (ray@totacc.com), July 16, 1999.

Ken -- How many years of economic education and experience do you have? Since you are in your mid-30s and were in the military and currently work for a non-profit agency, that would suggest a maximum of 10, more likely 1 to 3? Nothing wrong with being a self-taught economist (probably more useful than the school-trained ones) as long as one is clear about that.

-- BigDog (BigDog@duffer.com), July 16, 1999.

I seem to have a different memory regarding the past than some here. I went to high-school pre-1970's...just remember that I'm only 29 when I'm done with this, okay? [grin] We had one period of "study- hall" assigned each day. If we were so inclined and had a "good" record, we could obtain some sortof extra commendation by working in various school offices during study-hall. One year I worked in the school counselor's office. Now this was the girl's counselor. Whoever doesn't believe that girls were in gangs in high-school during the 60's went to a different school than *I* did. These were some TOUGH females...definitely mud-wrestling quality. Another year I did a stint for the school nurse. Not a day went by when just during the ONE period I was on this post, a stabbing victim didn't come in. They'd typically been stabbed in the bathrooms...which were a place that we only visited for emergencies, and if we did have to "go", we went as fast as possible and left before the cigarette smoke and marijuana smoke got us high.

Gangs? You betcha. We had a hispanic gang, an African-American gang, and a "greaser" gang. The "greasers" wore tight pants, pointed shoes, and slicked their hair back with ...was it Brylcream? Rumbles typically occured after school, but occasionally during school time...more entering the nurse's office.

Pregnancies? You betcha. Not to discuss this in detail, but I might remind y'all that most females wore panty-girdles in those pre-panty- hose days, so I had to wonder at how long it took to complete the appropriate undressing part. A friend of a friend of mine became pregnant senior year. She said, "He told me that if I didn't give it to him, he'd knock me out and take it from me." Oh YEAH...good old days, eh? There weren't so many fewer pregnancies. There simply was poor reporting of pregnancies, as Mary-Jane went to live with her grandmother in Mississippi for a "while." There was also the pregnancy of a neighbor girl who got pregnant by a guy *I*'d dated for a short time. I told my mom about it and she said, "Don't think any less of her, dear. She's going to have a little baby."

Drugs? I sat between a pusher and a user in Honor's English. The pusher had received a scholarship to a college in Alaska. Oh, he never made it, though, as he got a girl pregnant senior year. Outside school the pushers waited for school to get out. Transactions were made quite out in the open in broad daylight.

Let's go even further back to when I was younger than high-school. My mother would let me play ONLY in front of the house until the street-lights came on, 'a'. She told me never to talk to strangers, because if I did, they would cut me up into little pieces, put me in a bag and throw me in the river. No...we didn't live with fear...we lived with TERROR. Oh, yes, we locked our doors, and by the time we entered 7th grade we had the sense to be aware of our surroundings at ALL times, never walk home from school near bushes or any other cover where predators could lurk, never have our arms so full that we couldn't defend ourselves, etc.

Let's move ahead to the recession of the 70's. I remember lines to get gasoline, but we all got out of our cars and chatted. I wasn't out of work, my folks weren't out of work, my friends weren't out of work, and we lacked NOTHING. I got mugged ONCE in my life and it was in the early 70's in a quiet little suburb. After that, I carried a tear-gas gun that looked like a Saturday Night Special. I only drew it out ONCE. I'd finished loading groceries into my car and was about to start it when I noticed a young man approaching the driver's side in my rear-view mirror. It turns out he was selling something, but by the time he approached my window, he was looking into that tear-gas gun. I'll never forget the look on his face. Nah...we weren't scared. I was daily terrified by a guy that followed me home on my walk from the train to my apartment. As I walked, he drove by my side slowly, just watching me. The second day, I entered my neighbor's apartment instead of my own. The car sat in the parking lot. My neighbor wrote down the driver's license and called the police. "Did he DO anything to you?" "No. He just follows me and watches." "There's nothing we can do if the man committed no crime."

At the time, the internet wasn't in swing, and crimes in other areas weren't reported much locally. Of course my mom had heard about the kid being cut into little pieces, not to mention the little boy that went in a public restroom and had his penis cut off. Public restrooms were TOTALLY off limit for my mom's kids. There wasn't much reporting AT ALL of bad stuff, unless it equaled Al Capone-type massacres. When were those Manson murders? I remember camping in a site in Montana or Wyoming and visiting the lone outhouse just to find written all over the walls "If you want X done to you, or Y done to you, just see Z at the bunkhouse." I'll let you fill in the graphics of X and Y, but I dug a hole near the tent after running out of that place.

Even the NEIGHBORHOOD news wasn't reported. "Dirty laundry" wasn't to be "aired." We could know that Linda at Sunday School had polio that had crippled her and that Mano next door was crippled by the same disease, but were told not to pay attention when we asked why Mrs. Jones always had bruises or why her son had his arm in a sling.

I suppose if one lived in a small town, these years may have looked different to them, but I'll take today over yesterday.

-- Anita (spoonera@msn.com), July 16, 1999.

I have just one question for a: your first graph showed total violent crime down (the top line) while the arrest for violent crime went up (the bottom line). You conclude crime is up? And you claim you see the total picture. Well it looks to me that you're just picking what you want to see. Your next graph is more of the "arrests are up" which we got from the first graph. How does this "prove" your point?

-- Maria (anon@ymous.com), July 16, 1999.

Anita, I guess all of those parents that have decided to Homeschool these days have got it all wrong.

The big difference between today and when you went to school is the technology ....... today the have metal detectors at the entrance to school and back then they had (you fill in the blank) !!


-- Ray (ray@totacc.com), July 16, 1999.

Anita, it seems we have similar childhood experiences. I also remember some (ahem) thirty years ago having to examine halloween candy for razors. Riots broke out in warmer weather and I wittnessed some pretty awful stuff. A man was shot and killed right outside my front door. But given all that I can't conclude crime is up or crime is down because I don't have all the facts. Get it a?

-- Maria (anon@ymous.com), July 16, 1999.

Hey Maria, when I was a kid in the big city we used to leave our house and car unlocked !! Hard to believe I know, but true.

We wern't protected by all these new gun laws because we didn't need them.


-- Ray (ray@totacc.com), July 16, 1999.

Hmmm... let's open our box of crackerjacks...

"Be carefull of the next dehumanized ex-convict you meet as well. He may eat you for lunch. And Guess what, the odds of you meeting one now have increased since your Republican bretheren actually believe that punitive sentencing is a good way to keep them out of society."

Thanks for your concern, but I am not terribly concerned about my personal safety nor do I feel the need to read about violence. I have been there and have the "T" shirt.


Gosh, Old Git, you sound just like those folks in the 60s who were convinced the young "hippies" and "radicals" were going to wreak havoc on society. Remember the social unrest? During the 70s and 80s the radicals went mainstream.

Yes, trends in youth violence are disturbing. On the whole, we have proven to be an aggressive species. Just remember that late 20th America did not invent senseless acts of violence....


Ray, I guess this means you don't want to talk economics. In truth, I didn't think you would. If you decide you want to read something other than "American Eagle," drop me a line.


Russ aka Big Dog, hmmm... is this a job interview? After my graduate degree, I was professionally active in applied microeconomics for about five years. To tell you the truth, I didn't learn much after the first two... mostly just running a complex computer model, writing analysis, and dealing with elected officials.

You see, Ray and 'a' remind of those politicians. They really aren't interested in finding facts to determine the "best" course of action. They know what they think and just want to hear the "facts" that fit their opinion. It's one of the reasons I bailed out.

If you ever stop by, I'll show my sheepskins and some old policy papers. I keep them to remind me why I do what I do now.


-- Mr. Decker (kcdecker@worldnet.att.net), July 16, 1999.

Anita: You obviously grew up in a large metropolis. True, they had problem with crime back then also. But they are much worse today. The examples I site (Halloween candy, etc) pertains to Anywhere, USA, like the small town I grew up in, pop. 8000 then, 22000 now. Small town like this have all the crime characteristics of much larger cities now.

Maria: Study the graph babe. Concentrate. Note that arrests and reported crimes have doubled, victimization, whatever that is, has gone down slightly, and from that the spinmeisters conclude that the crime problem is better now than in 73. How do you explain that? You may want to include the fact that we have a entire new class of citizen coming into our society in the 90's called the Crack Baby. Maybe there're too stupid to kill you huh?

Decker: Since you have failed to do anything else, can you or someone answer my question of WHO IS AMASSING THE PREPS THAT WILL BE NEEDED TO PROVIDE THE WELFARE OF THE 1,000,000+ PRISON POPULATION WHEN WE ENTER THE Y2K PERIOD? Can you say PRISON RIOT and ESCAPEES? Will "market forces" solve that one as well?

-- a (a@a.a), July 16, 1999.

Hey Anita and Maria, want to solve the drug and crime problem, talk to your liberal representative about enacting something along these lines:

Saudi beheads Nigerian, Afghan for smuggling drugs


RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) - A Nigerian and an Afghan were beheaded in Saudi Arabia on Friday for smuggling drugs, according to the Interior Ministry.

Aisha Saadeh Kassem of Nigeria was executed in the port city of Jiddah after she was convicted of smuggling heroin and cocaine into the kingdom. Habib Gul Mohammed, an Afghan, was beheaded in the capital Riyadh for smuggling heroin.

The ministry did not specify the amount of drugs involved in either case.

So far this year, 53 people have been executed in the kingdom, compared to 29 in all of 1998.

Human rights groups have criticized Saudi Arabia's executions, claiming that suspects generally do not receive fair trials. The kingdom's Islamic courts impose death sentences for murder, rape, drug trafficking and armed robbery. Executions usually are carried out with a sword in public.


Any of you folks know what the crime rate is in Saudia Arabia??

Your Pal, Ray

-- Ray (ray@totacc.com), July 16, 1999.

Well a congratulations! You can explain that chart but yet you don't know what they mean by victimization and ignore the fact that it's down and how it plays into the scheme of things. Where did you get your degreee in criminology?

-- Maria (anon@ymous.com), July 16, 1999.

Hey Anita and Maria,

Guess What !!

We didn't have Graffiti on the walls when I was a kid !!

We were responsible for our words and actions !!

We didn't have a bunch of counselors and shrinks telling us how to live and act.

We didn't have Political Correctness !!

More to come, surprised I have not heard anything from you folks.

Your Pal, Ray

-- Ray (ray@totacc.com), July 16, 1999.

Decker, Maria and Anita --- Look, guys, wake up. Economically, we're doing great (the debate about whether it is based on fantasy is legitimate but stands on its own). Culturally? Values? Crime? Education competencies? Family cohesion? Community?

Bill Clinton. Al Gore. Bill Bradley. Dan Quayle. George W. Bush. Elizabeth Dole. Her Majesty, Hillary. And the list goes on.

They can't stand each other. But they all agree that something VERY NEGATIVE has happened in the dimensions cited over the past two to three decades. Some can be measured statistically. Some can't.

Is it the stuff of dopey campaign slogans? Of course. This is America. But the essential unanimity is "case closed," in the same way that past generations of Americans universally recognized that "slavery" was a crisis (whichever side one took), "industrial monopolies" (late 19th century) were a "crisis" for the culture, "immigration" was a crisis (end of 19th, beginning of 20th), our "relationship to Europe" was a crisis (WWI and years following) and so it goes.

Argue if you'd like that a is correct (as well as all the folks mentioned above and 1,000s of contemporary public figures alongside from all walks of life) but that it is less significant than 'y' or 'z'. But to trash the obvious only makes you look ridiculous.

Do we know what to DO about this crisis? Nope. THAT'S why the pols are scrambling for the edge. But is it a crisis? Sheesh. WAKE UP and be honest.

-- BigDog (BigDog@duffer.com), July 16, 1999.


Silly is defining some past era as America's "golden age" with utter disregard to social or economic facts. Even sillier is to act as if modern America invented "sin." Ray and 'a' and smoking a nostalgia crack pipe. As noted earlier, "Leave it to Beaver" was not a documentary.

I agree that we face serious social and economic challenges in the 1990s. It is admittedly difficult to measure the severity as compared to earlier eras. How do our times compare to the infancy of the Republic? To our bloody Civil War? To the Great Depression? To the restless 60s?

Serious students of history can build compelling arguments on whether the glass was half full or half empty. Ray or 'a' are just pushing the old stump speech about how the glass used to be full and now it's empty. (sigh)

Well, folks, it depends on your perspective. If you were an African- American living in slavery, 1830s America was not the land of opportunity. What about the 1870s women who didn't have the right to vote? The Native Americans?

Ray and 'a' are talking about a mythical America. Perhaps it may have been a personal reality for them, but one cannot stretch a personal history into American history.


-- Mr. Decker (kcdecker@worldnet.att.net), July 16, 1999.

Decker, any possibility of addressing some of the questions posed to you above or can we just expect another day of spinning?

Anita and Maria, you've been awfully quiet !!

Your Pal, Ray

-- Ray (ray@totacc.com), July 16, 1999.


I'm not ignoring ya, fella. It simply seemed to me that if I addressed your issues this thread would be taken off into too many more areas. I think it's GREAT that you had such a carefree childhood, Ray. I'll address just a FEW of your issues, but I really don't want to take the thread off-topic into more, please.

Home-schooling...yes...great idea for those who are competent and can afford the luxury of staying home to do it. Had my already-stay-at- home mother home-schooled us, Ray, we'd have had no education at all. I love her dearly, but she couldn't even help us with elementary school homework. My three kids went to public schools, Ray. They didn't have metal detectors, and still don't. I home- schooled them AFTER school and all summer. It has something to do with being a responsible parent. My dad WAS able to help me with my homework, and he taught me the European method of mathematics as well. In addition, I have no desire to discuss politics. I stay away from religion as well.

A: Yes. I grew up in a large metropolis, but already in the 70's crime was prevalent in the suburbs, etc. "Bad" things have ALWAYS spread from the large cities to the smaller-populated areas. Remember that drug-awareness campaigns didn't begin when only Harlem was affected. It began after the market moved to the typically White "Mainstream America." It was ALWAYS a crisis in Harlem, but politicians didn't care. I would say the same about crime. When it was strictly a big-city problem, nobody cared. Kids killed at school received a one-liner on page 27 of a newspaper, if at all.

Maria: Yes, a kid on our block ALSO got a razor blade in an apple when I was a kid. Crazies ALWAYS were out there, and with the increase in population comes an increase in crazies.

Big Dog: Of what am I supposed to awaken? Crime, drugs, poor education, lack of family values, etc. have ALWAYS occurred SOMEWHERE in the U.S. I repeat what I said to 'a': It simply wasn't a CRISIS until it occurred to someone YOU know. Of course the politicians are calling it a CRISIS now. Their wealthier constituents have finally become affected, not to mention that the media is giving it coverage now. IMO, parents have ALWAYS had a responsibility to know what their children are doing and impart to them a "Do the crime, do the time." philosophy. SOME parents have NEVER done that, and SOME parents aren't doing that now.

I hope the formatting isn't too screwed up on this. I lost my server midstream, so copied and pasted to finish.

-- Anita (spoonera@msn.com), July 16, 1999.


Do you only beat your wife on Sunday? You want to play "if you don't answer my questions, I must be right?" Grow up, Ray. I'm willing to talk economics with you, if you can discuss the matter like an adult.

For future reference, questions on issues like my home mortgage are foolish. Do you think my personal financial decisions have any relevance to the economy? If you want to talk about corporations padding the books or mutual fund managers borrowing money, provide some data. Do you want to talk about the disappearing dividend... fine. In a free market, if investors want dividends, they'll get dividends. Most investors have bailed on looking for dividends and look for capital appreciation. You want to talk about why the market is overvalued. OK. How many times do I have to agree that the market is overvalued before we move into economic fundamentals?

So, how do we get from bear market to economic collapse?


-- Mr. Decker (kcdecker@worldnet.att.net), July 16, 1999.

I thought Mr. Decker put it succinctly in his last post. Yeah, a, you just "thought" things were better back then. It all depends on your personal defintion of "better".

Just to move to Spidey's comments on child abuse and abortions. My grandmother had four abortions. Of course they weren't legal, taking place at a neighbor's house with a hanger. How can you say abortions have gone up when no records were taken before they were legal? Do you have insight on the number of "back alley" abortions? Further, define child abuse. Is "taken to the shed" child abuse or discipline? This term has certainly changed during the years. Nowadays if you scold your child in public, you could be brought up on charges of abuse. Where do you get your information? Just curious.

Ray, I don't answer any of your questions; you should know that by now.

-- Maria (anon@ymous.com), July 16, 1999.

Maria commented:

"Ray, I don't answer any of your questions; you should know that by now. "

Maria, the truth does hurt sometimes.

Say Maria and Anita, check out the thread on the CBS News article regarding the GAO report, if this doesn't wakt up you Polly/Trolls nothing will.

Looking forward to your always astute comments on the article.

Your Pal, Ray

-- Ray (ray@totacc.com), July 16, 1999.

There's an old English proverb: each man judges the (county agricultural) fair according to how his own market went. Many of the above posts reflect the accuracy of that proverb. I could note, say, that the job market for English Ph.D.s in the Nineties has been the worst since the Modern Language Association began compiling records over 30 years ago, despite the booming economy--for, in my profession, other factors apply. People living in that 35-40% of the world where there is currently a recession or worse, probably would not call these good times. Again, much depends on who you are, where you are, and what has happened to you.

I'm a few years older than Mr. Decker, and my personal "take" on all this, for whatever it is worth, is that there have been many scientific, tech., medical, and legislative improvements in American society over the past 25 years but also a gradual cheapening of the culture (not that it was ever great), a decline in civility, and probably a deterioration in educational standards (I taught university courses at various different institutions off and on from 1978 through 1992.) I find those sentiments echoed by many former colleagues.

Re economics: the usual definition I see of a "depression" is a 10% annual contraction in GDP. That's the one I use. A slump is usually just equated with a recession. I remember the 1973-74 recession well; it was nasty. But I seriously doubt if at any time in our history the stock market was as overvalued as it is today, by most valuation models that I'm familiar with. Also, the World Bank, Sakakibara, Paul Volcker, and George Soros all say that the U.S. stock market is currently leading/supporting not only the U.S. economy but also (such as it is) the global economy; all of them think this is a highly dangerous situation. There also seem to be looming global debt and currency crises out there. That's why I worry, Y2K or not.

-- Don Florence (dflorence@zianet.com), July 16, 1999.

Decker --- You're drifting. We weren't comparing now with the Depression but with 1974. Remember?

-- BigDog (BigDog@duffer.com), July 16, 1999.


I can see now why Maria doesn't answer your questions. I have never ONCE trolled this forum, nor have I ever said anything unkind to anyone. My level of preparedness is at MY comfort level, Ray...not YOURS. My opinions on things Y2k (or otherwise) are ALSO my own. I respect your right to disagree, but if all you can do is throw a label my way, I'll not respond to you further either.

-- Anita (spoonera@msn.com), July 16, 1999.

Anita, that's an EASY way out, still waiting for just ONE comment on my post above.

Your Pal, Ray

-- Ray (ray@totacc.com), July 16, 1999.

Ever attend a faculty gathering where some boorish person has you cornered? Then, fortune smiles upon you and a friend helps you step neatly away from the jaws of doom.

Good to see you, Don.


-- Mr. Decker (kcdecker@worldnet.att.net), July 16, 1999.

Decker, Maria and Anita, still waiting for your comments at this thread, cat got your tongue??

Cities Not Ready for y2k

your Pal, Ray

-- Ray (ray@totacc.com), July 16, 1999.

Decker, my friends and I WERE the hippies and radicals of the 60s and 70s. As usual, you have completely misconstrued fairly obvious background facts and twisted them to fit your own prejudices. Hence, I find it supremely ironic when I read your words: "You see, Ray and 'a'. . . know what they think and just want to hear the 'facts' that fit their opinion."

Oh well, I should know better than to belabor a knackered equine. (laughter)

-- Old Git (anon@spamproblems.com), July 16, 1999.

I'll add that the definition of "depression" I'm using is apparently rather "mild" by the standards that Mr. Decker employs, so to some extent our differences are merely semantic. Put another way, he and I might be on the same page with regard to various U.S. economic issues, just not in the same paragraph.

It's when I also start looking globally, and noting the fears of Soros and company, that I get worried: too many unknowns, too many potential threats, too much volatility, and a whole lot of global capital flows (over $5.3 trillion daily) out there. That, in conjunction with the inflated U.S. stock market, makes for possible big-time trouble. But then, to be frank, I thought we would get hammered by the Asian financial crisis last year. Obviously we didn't.

Anyway, on most, if not all, technical economic points I'll defer to Mr. Decker. He is a trained economist and I am not--another way of saying that he has probably forgotten more about economics than I ever knew in the first place! It's just that there may be global threats out there that nobody can really quantify or assess.

-- Don Florence (dflorence@zianet.com), July 16, 1999.

Mr. Decker,

Can you clarify something for me?

I'm confused by your reference to Mr. Florence's post. My reading of it conflicts with your expectation of a recession. I think Mr.Florence expects something much more dire, as do I. I'm not an economist, however my brother and brother-in-law are. They've not been much more accurate predicting the future than I.

-- flora (***@__._), July 16, 1999.


You are too kind.

There are worrisome trends, and I am quite willing to admit a level of discomfort about our current global economy. On Y2K, I sometimes think of the old adage, "You never hear the bullet that hits you." During the past year, I have become more bullish on Y2K and more bearish on the global economy. Unlike Ray and "a," however, I make an effort to separate my "hunches" from the facts.

Global demographic trends have my brow furrowed. The "first world" is aging rapidly. While the pre-retirement boomers are fueling part of this speculative bubble, I imagine the tide will begin to flow out between 2005 and 2008. Your thoughts, Don?


-- Mr. Decker (kcdecker@worldnet.att.net), July 16, 1999.

I think both Don and I are savvy enough to know we are just making some "beer and pretzels" guesses. I am not a "macro" guy, but the global economy is evolving in ways we have trouble understanding, let alone modeling. Don is also wise enough to the difference between "hard times" in America and real poverty in third world countries.

Where Don and I agree... the wheels can fall off the wagon. I am not sure Don agrees, but I think capitalism is the shark of economic systems. Tougher than nails and always moving forward. It's also a self regulating system... when government allows ventures to fail.


-- Mr. Decker (kcdecker@worldnet.att.net), July 16, 1999.

Mr. Decker,

Thank you for your response.

Have we entered the flip side of the coin, where 'ventures' may prefer to allow governments to collapse?

-- flora (***@__._), July 16, 1999.

Decker commented:

" It's also a self regulating system... when government allows ventures to fail. "

Now there's a qualifier for ya. Decker, you think possibly .gov has it's fingers in the pie??? Naw, this is not possible or is it?


-- Ray (ray@totacc.com), July 16, 1999.

A few years ago I had lunch with a successful television entertainer. At the time, I was steeped in negativity. I remember saying something like, "But the world is so much uglier now! Everything's worse! How can you have children in a world like this?" My friend said, "But to me the world is getting better every year! It's the best time to have children." True, he was making a lot of money at the time. But perhaps he was able to achieve what he had at that point in life because his attitude was positive. One successful day built onto the next. Before he knew it, he had made his fortune.

Perhaps it's true that one's circumstances influence the way one views reality, but it's true only for the vast majority of people who do not exercise their will. If one's chosen field isn't hiring, for example, one can seek to expand in a different field. That's what's so exciting about free will, and living in a free market society. It's open to us all. The main point: circumstances do not create our happiness or unhappiness. Our attitude towards them does.

This thread contrasts a positive frame of mind, exemplified by Decker, Maria, Anita, etc., with the Negatives, the ones who are shouting that we're doomed, society is on the road to ruin. "The world has gone to hell in a handbasket," they mourn. Deterioration is obvious, morals lax, civility in decline, and failure and destruction ever near. Constantly asserting this makes it real, at least in your minds. Deny the belief in your minds and it no longer exists. This is a heroic act. Anyone can choose to think that the world is whatever he or she wants it to be. The options are endless.

Even if you do not openly complain of the state of the world to your children, they will perceive it in your attitude toward life. At least for the sake of your children, if not for yourself, choose to view the world positively. Make a difference in your own life first. Then you will see that even one positive person who is heroically working to improve his own little lot can influence beyond his wildest conception the larger society in which he dwells.

It's important and necessary to acknowledge failure and shortcomings, especially in oneself. One may even acknowledge larger failures in society. But the key thing is to move beyond acknowledgement of the negative into acknowledgement of what you want to become, what you want your community and society to become, and to live as though your dreams and ideals are not only possible, but actually capable of being apprehended, experienced in the present moment. Don't dwell on the negative. Choose the positive. Aren't you impatient to discover what you are capable of?

-- Try it. (*@*.*), July 16, 1999.

Try It commented:

"This thread contrasts a positive frame of mind, exemplified by Decker, Maria, Anita, etc., with the Negatives, the ones who are shouting that we're doomed, society is on the road to ruin. "The world has gone to hell in a handbasket," they mourn. "

Try It, I know for you it is difficult to extrapolate FACT from HOT AIR but do "Try It" a little harder.

Your Pal, Ray

-- Ray (ray@totacc.com), July 16, 1999.

Mr. Decker,

I'm just looking for a "beer and pretzels" kind of answer.

-- flora (***@__._), July 16, 1999.

Try It:

I think you nailed it. Without question, we all project our personalities onto our viewpoints as we observe the world around us. Happy people live in a good world, unhappy people see misery all around them, and nasty people see the nastiness. Not exclusively, of course. But as life's experience (and *many* fascinating experiements) have shown, we all see what we want to see, or what we expect to see. Interpretation is crucial. The "red pickup" syndrome is more pervasive and subtle than you'd believe.

As this forum makes wonderfully evident, y2k is a giant Rorschach test. It provides a window into our individual natures not ordinarily available even to ourselves.

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), July 16, 1999.


Your phrase "The Age of Exasperation" from Big Dog's 'Simplicity' thread is a classic!

-- flora (***@__._), July 16, 1999.

Flint, we sure are missing you Polly/Trolls over on this thread:

Cities Not Ready For y2k"

We need your EXPERT spin here, please turn this into a "Bed of Roses"

Your Pal, Ray

-- Ray (
ray@totacc.com), July 16, 1999.

Exactly, Flint, this forum separates the pollyannas from the realists. Pessimism and realism do not necessarily go hand in hand. When you come from a country whose written history goes back to the year dot, and its evidence is all around, you realize that history moves in cycles, hence the old adage about those not remembering are condemned to repeat.

As far as I'm concerned, current misgivings are merely part of a phase the country/world is going through. It too shall pass. Whether one passes with it in relative comfort or discomfort is partly determined by what prudent steps one takes to help oneself--whether it be protection from natural disasters or anything Y2K throws this way.

The next 18 months could contain events analogous to the devastating Winter of Forty-Seven that everyone old enough remembers in Britain. Or those events could replicate the warmth and delight of the summer that inspired Shakespeare to write the sonnet containing the immortal phrase, "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?" Nobody knows. But the realist, while hoping to enjoy the summer, will prepare well for the possible winter.

-- Old Git (anon@spamproblems.com), July 16, 1999.

Telling statement:

"Ken -- How many years of economic education and experience do you have? Since you are in your mid-30s and were in the military and currently work for a non-profit agency, that would suggest a maximum of 10, more likely 1 to 3? Nothing wrong with being a self-taught economist (probably more useful than the school-trained ones) as long as one is clear about that.

-- BigDog (BigDog@duffer.com), July 16, 1999."

Facsinating! A rather clandestine attempt to discredit a posters experience, so that their "message" will not be readily accepted. But for quite some time we have observed the Y2k pessimists often used quip of "don't shoot the messanger" (such as when the fact is spoken of that Historian Dr. North is just that...an historian. "No known technology background" as the russkelly site says.)

An interesting use of the technique by subject BigDog, who has voiced rather loudly his admiration of Dr. North (and his need for a public medal ceramony).


-- Psych Major (psychob@b.le), July 17, 1999.


This is Big Dog's specialty. He can slice hairs exceedingly fine to find fault with 'the enemy', but cannot bring himself even to notice a dozen off-topic or mindless-attack post by the 'good guys' on the same thread. While nobody can be totally objective, it would be *most* entertaining to see Big Dog address each post on this thread in order, explaining why the most egregiously paranoid deserved no notice, while genuine attempts to address the topic were guilty of being just slightly off. But this won't happen.

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), July 17, 1999.

Flint said, "This is Big Dog's specialty. He can slice hairs exceedingly fine to find fault with 'the enemy'.

Shucks, I'm not THAT good.

I don't see anyone here as the enemy. I've occasionally felt angry, disappointed or bewildered by various posts on this forum and have, at times, expressed my feelings about that. Is that permitted?

As for Decker, Psych Minor, I thought his response to my question about his qualifications was straight and to the point. And helpful. I consider it a positive that he hasn't been a career economist and I respect the fact that he is working for a non-profit enterprise out of conviction. He certainly has more econ training than me!

Gary North does deserve praise with respect to Y2K. Deal with it.

Flint, I'm not sure why it is my responsibility to comb through the threads on this board? I have a full-time job, five children and a raft of real-world responsibilities and privileges to attend to. I comment on the threads that interest me. I only comment on the allies and bozos that spark my fancy.

Listen, guys, get a life. I can't help it that I'm right about Y2K and you're wrong. Someone had to be right. Just one of those things.

-- BigDog (BigDog@duffer.com), July 17, 1999.

Maria: How silly of me for thinking that there are more abortions occurring now than pre-Roe v. Wade. I hope your forebear didn't use the same hangar each time. As for child-abuse, I hadn't mentioned it: projecting? I HAD mentioned illegitimacy rates, which have skyrocketed. But you have explained the old-fashioned solution for that dilemma. I would also enjoy hearing why current levels of personal indebtedness aren't important. I guess the benefits of an ever-expanding economy will someday allow everyone the opportunity of resuming saving. Or is continual credit-expansion necessary to our robust economy. Disciples of Galbraith say yes. I vote with Wendell Berry: continued growth is the imperative of the cancer cell. [ ] (I wish I could use my old friend the paragraph, but I am limited by the deficiencies of my gasoline-powered browser) To the ersatz logical positivists, I would note that perception is important, but, in my field, medicine, often doesn't win the day. Other, more implacable realities tend to dominate. My primary fear vis. Y2K is loss of electrical power. No reliable source, including my own utility, is guaranteeing that power will remain on. As has been noted elsewhere, if the situation weren't so serious, it would be risible. But if it's 50 below, and the power is out, people will die. Decker can chuckle (laughter) to himself about all this, and boast of his self-sufficiency, but I have children to take care of, and he doesn't. I've found that learned fools are worse than useless: they can be dangerous if not ignored.

-- Spidey (in@jam.commie), July 18, 1999.

Well, folks, we have wandered far afield. Unfortunately, we didn't actually exchange much interesting data contrasting 1974 and 1999. I think the "nostalgia buffs" will sally forth and create more opportunities for objective discussion.

And good Flint, don't worry about BD. I think of him as a cleric... just one I happen to dislike personally and who's religion is a fraud (at least from my perspective). On a good day, I simply acknowledge his devotion to his faith. Like the inquisitors, BD takes his work very seriously.

I wonder sometimes, though, if BD doesn't have another agenda. I have the sense BD was disenchanted with the world long before Y2K. He seems rather friendly with Arlin Adams and he has dropped the constitutionalist label about. He also has talked about the immorality of capitalism (though he never wrote this anticipated essay.) Oh, I think BD's a smart fellow, but perhaps one who feels he has not received his due from the world, short-changed, if you will. Based on my impression of BD, I imagine he sees this as a problem with the world... not with him. You are right, of course, Flint. The die is cast. I don't think BD is willing to leave his pulpit for the sake of objectivity or fairness. But do give him credit for consistency and effort.

Spidey... the "coathanger" comment was offensive. Your adherence to J.K. Galbraith explains the addled economics, but not the bad manners. And until you stop by and visit, you might want to refrain from speculating about my personal status.


-- Mr. Decker (kcdecker@worldnet.att.net), July 19, 1999.

Nice smears, Decker.

Did you get up on the wrong side of the old bed this morning? As I stated to you before, not only don't I think capitalism immoral, it is absolutely the best system going and I am a big fan of Adam Smith. But I've said that before, as you know.

I do esteem the Constitution, didn't realize that's a sign of something "wrong"! Silly me. I was taught to do this in elementary school.

I have no connection to the movement Arlin belongs to, though I respect Arlin himself, sure. And Arlin scrupulously obeys the laws of this land, btw.

At least by sinking into the gutter, you've acknowledged the poverty of your arguments on this thread!

Are you bothered by my applauding your credentials and the tenor of your own experience just above? Can't be that.

Must be this: "I can't help it that I'm right about Y2K ...."! Does the word, "humor", help? Wow. AS IF you don't take that position about your own convictions!

Hope your week takes a better trajectory than the one it is starting out on.

-- BigDog (BigDog@duffer.com), July 19, 1999.


While I may be wrong, your posts give me pause. Maybe it was your instant validation of Ed Yourdon's reasons for departure. Maybe it was your post raising the drawbridge on future Y2K debate or your continued chanting of "the code is broken; we started too late." Maybe it's your ongoing "dodging" of the tough questions.

C'mon, BD. You have your new preparations forum. You have a chance to learn about the "pick and shovel" work of self reliance without the bother of the optimists. Why don't you homestead that forum and leave this one for the people willing to discuss Y2K with an open mind?

Since you think I am "dense or dishonest," you can dismiss this out of hand. It has worked rather well for you in the past. You may or may not have another agenda, BD. You have speculated the same about me, so I guess we share space in the same gutter.

In the end, you have yet to produce a single compelling argument to support Y2K as "catastrophe." You have also been a leader among the bully boys (and girls) of the forum.

About all I can find to like or respect about you is your tenacity, BD. That may be a higher opinion than you have of me. (chuckle)


-- Mr. Decker (kcdecker@worldnet.att.net), July 19, 1999.


I am glad both to be your very own "classic Y2K zealot" and "tenacious." Thanks! I wish I were wrong about Y2K too, but I'm not. You'll see soon enough, of course. Just as I'm not an economist, you're not an IT expert. I AM, seriously. And you would be wise to take my arguments more seriously. Always been up to you.

You continue to be wrong about my view of you. I believe some of your posts have been intellectually dishonest but I take at face value the reports from VA that you are a "thoughtful", nice guy. And was glad to hear it.

This just in from CNN today:

"WASHINGTON (AP) -- Violent crime fell 7 percent last year from 1997, with 8.1 million Americans falling victim, the lowest number reported since the Justice Department began tracking the figure in 1973."

I still maintain as I have on this thread that (a) we are clearly more prosperous than we were in 1974 (though I agree with Don and many others that we are "on the bubble") and (b) that most aspects of our political, cultural and community life have degenerated very badly over past 25 years.

However, the crime argument is far more ambiguous, as this snippet shows. America has always been violent and remains violent. The nature of that violence has changed over the past 25 years (much more stranger-to-stranger than hitherto) even as the demographics have changed (more transience). But the absolute rate, the trend and its meaning can be interpreted differently by all sides.

-- BigDog (BigDog@duffer.com), July 19, 1999.

What is - who - where did we get this new heart-on-his-sleeve pollyanna?

This "try it" and "doomers suck" guy?

Is it Leo Battaglia, or is he dead already?

Or is it that love-guru that Demi Moore and others worship? Deepak something?

-- lisa (lisa@work.now), July 19, 1999.

Decker, you twit. I don't adhere to Galbraith: all those who are in love with our current economy, based as it is on cheap money courtesy of Fed policy, do. The coathanger was more offensive to the babies murdered than to you. And what are you suggesting in your last aside? That you'll kick my ass? Oy.

-- Spidey (in@jam.commie), July 20, 1999.


It is not my purpose here to defend BigDog, but since the same criticism that you leveled at him is true of me, I find it necessary to comment.

I cannot find enough acceptable (to me) evidence to believe that I can reach absolute conclusions as to the results of the Y2K situation. I see enough to conclude that whatever those results will be, they will be negative. How negative is beyond my ability to discover. As I've said here in the past, I know only that the potential for anything from a BITR to TEOTWAWKI and/or anything in between exists. I am certain that Pat Shannon is correct in that Y2K will surprise us ALL and that Robert Cook is correct in that things will fail in weird and wonderful ways.

Now, from that perspective, I examine the comments of everyone else on the forum. On the one extreme I see those who are sure that there will be no major negative consequences. They are firm in their convictions and seriously ridicule those who disagree with them. If they are right, they may soon be able to say, "I told you so!" If they are wrong, they might be fortunate enough to be able to simply say, "I guess I was wrong." If anyone is swayed to accept their position as "gospel" and they turn out to be wrong in the extreme, those who were convinced will likely be in very deep kim-chee. OTOH, if they turn out to be right, nothing of consequence will result, except that those so convinced may have saved some "face".

On the other extreme I see those who are sure that there will be only major negative consequences. They are firm in their convictions and seriously ridicule those who disagree with them. If they are right, they may soon be able to say, "I told you so!" (although probably not to very many people as communications will likely be poor) If they are wrong, they will probably be fortunate enough to be able to simply say, "I guess I was wrong." If anyone is swayed to accept their position as "gospel" and they turn out to be wrong in the extreme, those who were convinced will likely be targets of ridicule for some indeterminate period (and judging from some of the families I have known, that could be the rest of their lives!). OTOH, if they turn out to be right, those so convinced may well survive because of it.

BigDog was correct in that all of us have a life of some sort outside this forum. My own is a stop/go life. Either I am going flat out and have no time for the forum, or I am completely free to spend 24 hours a day here. I would think that everyone falls somewhere between those two extremes. As such, we all must pick and choose how to spend that time that we spend on the forum. For my part, I think it prudent to ignore those extreme posts on the "doomer" extreme because I can't see them as causing any harm (I don't consider loss of "face" as much of a consequence). The posts on the "polly" extreme however, may very well cause big trouble for those who adhere to those conclusions. Still, I endeavor to point out that specific details (such as whether or not a particular power company is "ready" or not) are not available and that we are all ultimately responsible for ourselves. I do not expect to point any fingers after the fact no matter what happens. I accept responsibility for my own actions and I believe that such is the essence of being an adult.


FWIW, I took your "coathanger comment" to be sarcastic disgust which, coming from the medical perspective that you've clearly told us that you speak from on more than one occasion, is quite appropriate and not offensive at all. As you point out, the offense is the taking of human life. . .

I think you've mistaken Decker's comment as well however. It came across to me that he was referring to your comment about his not having raised children and that such was speculative until/unless you visited him and found out for certain.

Mister Decker,

It seems apparent that the question of whether 1974 was "better" than 1999 or not is quite the same sort of question as whether Y2K will result in TEOTWAWKI or not. Both were/will be local in nature from the individual's perspective and in the last analysis, that's what will count for each of us. It seems rather pointless to attempt to persuade one who made his first million in 1974 that today is "better" (unless, of course, he made his first billion this year) and beyond reason to argue the point with anyone who was a child then. That both parties to the argument are adults now is irrelevant. It becomes an academic argument.

As for capitalism being immoral, in fact capitalism is neither moral nor immoral. It is amoral (unless viewed from the fundamentalist Christian or Islamic perspectives which both hold that to make a profit is sinful). The fact that one (you, for example) may perceive it through your own moral and ethical framework and operate from that platform in your practice of capitalism matters not at all, except to you and those that you interact with.

As for your perceived disdain of "clerics", I would point out that societies get their moral values as well as their ethical and spiritual ones from religion. Which religion is largely immaterial but they all have "clerics" and such "clerics" in all religions range in character from those Roman Catholic Inquisitors that you find so fascinating, to Mother Teresa. Surely you realize that by labeling BigDog a "cleric" that you accord his opinions special value and depend on your characterization of concern for the effects of the Y2K situation as a religion to discredit those opinions. I suspect that such dependence is misplaced here.

It should not surprise you to know that I am in agreement with both you and Flint in that we all see the die as being already cast. If you will recall, that is what I advised Mr. Yourdon when he asked for input regarding his Senate testimony. That we see the "die" as a different shape in each case is simply normal.

Lisa, "doomers@suck" reveals the depth of his intellectual arsenal by his selection of a handle. . .

-- Hardliner (searcher@internet.com), July 20, 1999.

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