Monday, January 21, 2008

The News From Nowhere

By Alan Caruba

Monday, being a holiday, and brutally cold, I did not venture forth to do any banking or marketing. The result was the opportunity to turn on the 24/7 television news channels and watch for more than my usual breakfast dollop of breezy chatter, weather, and pontifications.

As the day wore on, it became clear to me that, other than wall-to-wall coverage of the primary races in Florida and South Carolina, there was literally no news from anywhere else in the world. When was the last time you heard anything about what's happening in Italy? Or Japan? Taiwan? Sri Lanka?

If it were not for the clownish Venezuelan thug, Hugo Chavez, we would see no news from anywhere in South America. The last news out of the Caribbean was about the Halloway girl who disappeared in Aruba over a year ago, but the Caribbean is composed of many islands and nations like Barbados, Trinidad, and others.

What news of events in any foreign nation has been largely devoted to Iraq and even that has disappeared off the screen thanks to whatever passes for peace there. Were it not for Link TV and a clever show called “Mosaic”, Americans would never get to see nightly television news coverage from countries such as Qatar, Dubai, Lebanon, and even Israel.

I am not suggesting that news about the candidates competing to be their party’s champion for the presidency is not news, but that the near total fixation on the political races tends to lull Americans into forgetting that we are just one nation among many others in the world and each of them is making news in their own way.

While the holiday stilled the din of our stock markets, those in the rest of the world were suffering a scare that America’s economy was and is in trouble. They almost all took a nosedive. It was a reminder that what happens in America and to America dominates the economic outlook of nations far, far away even if our television news does not tell us who or even where they are.

We tend not to receive much news about any nation unless bombs are going off, but there is an economic bomb waiting to explode and it’s the future of the American economy, responding first to the sub-prime mortgage mess and, soon enough, the credit card mess of too much unpaid and unpayable outstanding credit. If you think the American banking system isn’t already in trouble, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

A one-time tax rebate isn’t going to do much, if anything, for the economy. The government will have to borrow it in order to pay it out. Cutting interest rates and further devaluing the dollar doesn’t seem like a good idea either, but putting the brakes on Congressional “pork” spending, cutting corporate taxes (we have some of the highest in the world), and other forms of economic stimulus does.

When the bill comes due for the bank’s mortgage loan debacle, then the credit liabilities, and then for Social Security and Medicare entitlement spending in a few years, you won’t even want to turn on the news.


Alessandro Machi said...

No two people react the same when I mention the solution to out of control unpaid consumer debt is to let people pay down their debts interest free.

Interest free debt paydown is a very logical solution to a problem that has been created by banks overloaning money at ridiculous interest rates on credit cards and sub prime mortgages that balloon after a short amount of time.

Greedy people scoff at the idea of no interest paydowns. Nobody of prominence will agree with me because it would cause a huge controversy among the same group of intellectual snobs. Plus, new ways of thinking are to be avoided by those already entrenched in a system that makes them a handsome living.

The world's elite are economically cleansing the "lower" classes before our eyes. Interest free debt paydowns is what is needed, and it is needed immediately.

Alan Caruba said...

Yours is indeed an original idea. Perhaps if the interest-free period had an end-date such as within six months or even a year, people would be inclined to pay down their debt, thus restoring funds to the banks and ending what appears to be a looming crisis.