"The Real Economy Is Somewhere Between The Toilet & A Rat Hole"

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by James H Kunstler of Kunstler.com,

With lakes, swimming holes, rivers, and pools beckoning, I went to a sporting goods chain store at the mall — where else? — seeking a new bathing suit (pardon the quaint locution). The store was curiously named Dick’s. All they had were clown trunks. By this I mean a garment designed to hang somewhere around mid-calf, instantly transforming a normally-proportioned adult male into a stock slapstick character: the oafish man-child.

This being a commodious warehouse-style store, there was rack upon rack of different brands of bathing suits, all cut in the same clown style. I chanced by one of the sparsely-deployed employees and inquired if they had any swimming togs in a shorter cut.

“What you see is alls we got,” he said.

Even the Speedo brand had gone clown — except for the bikini brief, which I wore back during 30 years of lap-swimming, but which I deemed not quite okay for an elderly gentleman on the casual summer swim scene. So I left Dick’s without a new suit, but not before having a completely unsatisfying conversation with one of the managers.

“In the old days,” I explained, “bathing suits were designed to minimize the amount of cloth one dragged around in the water. These clown trunks you sell not only make a person look ridiculous, but they must be an awful drag in the water.”

“That’s what they send us,” he said. “It’s alls we got.”

The Fourth of July rolled in just in time to celebrate the disintegration of Iraq following our eight-year, three trillion dollar campaign to turn it into a suburb of Las Vegas. Me and my girl went over to the local fireworks show, held on the ballfield of a fraternal order lodge on the edge of town. The fire department had hung up a gigantic American Flag — like, fifty feet long! — off the erect ladder of their biggest truck, in case anybody forgot what country they were in. Personally, I was wondering what planet I was on. It was a big crowd, and every male in it was dressed in a clown rig.

The complete outfit, which has (oddly) not changed in quite a few years (suggesting the tragic trajectory we’re on), includes the ambiguous long-short pants, giant droopy T- shirt (four-year-olds have proportionately short legs and long torsos), “Sluggo” style stubble hair, sideways hat (or worn “cholo” style to the front ), and boat-like shoes, garments preferably all black, decorated with death-metal band logos. You can see, perhaps, how it works against everything that might suggest the phrase: “competent adult here.” Add a riot of aggressive-looking tattoos in ninja blade and screaming skull motifs and you get an additional message: “sociopathic menace, at your service.” Finally, there is the question: just how much self-medication is this individual on at the moment? I give you: America’s young manhood.

Does it seem crotchety to dwell on appearances? Sorry. The public is definitely sending itself a message disporting itself as it does in the raiment of clowning. Here in one of the “fly-over” zones of America — 200 miles north of New York City — the financial economy is mythical realm like Shangri-La and the real economy is somewhere between the toilet and a rat hole. Under the tyranny of chain stores, there really is no true local commercial economy. The few jobs here are menial and nearly superfluous to the automatic workings of the giant companies.

I don’t have the statistics but I suspect a lot of the males around here are on federal disability payments, and probably in the psychological categories including “depression,” “learning disabilities,” “ADHD, and so on.” In such a situation, wouldn’t a person benefit from presenting himself as child-like, with a dash of menace? And wouldn’t it be advantageous to look that way all of the time, in case one was unexpectedly visited by a government employee?

Down in Brooklyn, a world away, the young men go about in their hipster uniforms: Pee Wee Herman cut casuals. They’re still role-playing “the smart kid in the class” even though they’ve been out of class for a decade. Their computer dreams of IPO glory are formulated with the tunnel-vision of science fair projects. Left out are the realities of the greater unraveling.

Women are not at the center of this story. Theirs is another story. Let some woman tell it before I get to it.

Never has a society entered an epochal transition with such unpreparedness.

Never has a society appeared so childishly decadent.

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Chupacabra-322's picture

The real economy has been toast since 2008. DIfference is no one has had the balls to "Officially" announce it .

hedgeless_horseman's picture

 

 

I don’t have the statistics but I suspect a
lot of the males around here are on federal disability payments, and
probably in the psychological categories including “depression,”
“learning disabilities,” “ADHD, and so on.” In such a situation,
wouldn’t a person benefit from presenting himself as child-like, with a
dash of menace? And wouldn’t it be advantageous to look that way all of
the time, in case one was unexpectedly visited by a government employee?

Please, describe your children and grandchildren, Mr. Kunstler.  Why were you not spending the holiday with them?

exi1ed0ne's picture

TL;DR "I fell off the fashion train a long time ago and use that as a basis for economic pontification rather then the 2X4 of shitty data whacking me in the face."

max2205's picture

My mom frowns when I don't dress up when we take her out for dinner....

 

What's the point. ...what difference does it make....who you gonna impress

 

A bygone era

Manthong's picture

Damn.

I thought it was at least between a dung wagon and a puddle of vomit.

Vampyroteuthis infernalis's picture

What kind of hood does this author live in or visit? Nothing new here.

Skateboarder's picture

Look at this shit:

The complete outfit, which has (oddly) not changed in quite a few years (suggesting the tragic trajectory we’re on), includes the ambiguous long-short pants, giant droopy T- shirt (four-year-olds have proportionately short legs and long torsos), “Sluggo” style stubble hair, sideways hat (or worn “cholo” style to the front ), and boat-like shoes, garments preferably all black, decorated with death-metal band logos.

Okay, Mr. K. Here's where you need to get your shit straight before opening your mouth and generalizing two completely distinct groups of people into the same amalgamous rot you seem to perceive.

Style 1) Gangsta: big saggy pants, XXXL shirt, sideways hat, lacking in grammatical skills, proclivity towards picking fights. Choice of music likely limited to Rap/Hip Hop/Electronic. Likely to not pursue 'intellectual endeavors.'

Style 2) Metalhead: Black shirts (though not always black pants) with band logos. Hats are less common/uncommon. Snugness of clothing dependent on individual. Smugness of musical knowledge dependent on individual. Proclivity towards 'intellectual subjects and endeavors.'

I can go on in excruciating detail and enumerate the further breakdowns of these two very distinct groups, but I think this is enough.

Panafrican Funktron Robot's picture

I just found it telling that he focused on the superficial rather than stating something more substantial, like the fact that James Kunstler probably couldn't change the oil in his car, fix a leaky pipe, or any number of other basic functions that used to be common knowledge among men a mere 40-50 years ago, let alone, actually survive an extended period without electricity or running water, as was common knowledge 80+ years ago.  The reason we should be concerned about the inevitable next leg down (that he alluded to, though I'm not sure he fully grasps what that leg is going to be) is that, unlike the Great Depression of the 30's, our collective common knowledge re: basic survival is incredibly shitty.

THX 1178's picture

Bingo. Kunstler pats himself on the back thinking he's the one with a mind of his own. All of the problems we are facing now are caused by suit-and-tie wearing bankers, politicians, academics and businessmen. And their associated social norm templates. All of the horrifying death that will result from the worldwide collaspe will be the result of professionalism and straight edge militarism. "maturity" and i place that in quotes for a reason. If we as a species have any hope, it will be from the cartoonish hippies who know permaculture and non-hierarchical social organization. Hopefully some of these hippies and locally grown vegan alterna-hipsters and punk rock anarchists with their bulk beans and rice can show us "mature professionals" how the fuck its acutually done when the collapse comes. Cuz when the bankers are dragged into the streets and killed, and the politicans are assassinated, and the financial advisors are strangled with tehir own ties... what the fuck are you gonna eat? the "mature" ones are the problem.

 

+1 for you funk

Supernova Born's picture

I had a dream a shoplifter was captured after tripping due to his baggy, too low pants.

True story.

7.62x54r's picture

Apparently these kids are unaware that pants down to your thighs was a fad started in the California Penal system. Prison bitches would use this to advertize that they were for sale.

Shocker's picture

The economy has far from recovered

Job Situation: http://www.dailyjobcuts.com

-

Stackers's picture

I wouldn't say the economy is in the rat hole, but definitely working twice as hard for razor thin profit margins these days and the phone just flat out does not ring unless I'm leaving messages for people.

Richard Chesler's picture

Small price to pay so corrupt Obongo and the wookie can enjoy another night of lobster and caviar.

 

Taint Boil's picture

Saggin spelled backwards .... 

Link

 

brockhardman's picture

On a similar note, the secret behind what is really going on under that shirt is revealed here...http://images.quickblogcast.com/3/9/4/9/9/210012-199493/cholo2.jpg?a=35

Bárðarbunga's picture

Hey, he's not heavy, he's my dealer.

Thinking it Thru's picture

There's no collaspe coming any time soon. Thousands of these towns prove every day. The FED is paying to keep it all together, and whenever they run out of $ they print more. No end in sight, this is the plan.

yatikto's picture

Stopped by Charleston, West Virginia on a road trip this weekend.   Was 4th of July,  town was mostly deserted.  New hotel that was built ' "4 points" for my architect's taste was cheap and work was shotty.  Weather was awesome, food was great, music was good. In the beginning they ran thru the sponsors of event.  One of them was JP Morgan.

Freddie's picture

Sadly the shotty (sic) hotel was not high enough to throw those JPM bankers off of.

Thinking it Thru's picture

There's no collapse coming any time soon. Thousands of these towns prove every day. The FED is paying to keep it all together, and whenever they run out of $ they print more. No end in sight, this is the plan.

 

THX 1178's picture

Meh. The FED can't print indefinitely. if they do, UST holders get wise to the fact that itll never end and trade out into something better. That is the End. When will that happen? soon. sooner than later. The end is NIGH.

Handful of Dust's picture

They may print but it's going into the pockets of bankers and Wall Streeters instead of the 'consumer middle class( CMC).' Have you gone a clothing store any time recently? Piles of stuff discounted 60-90% just sitting there collecting dust and accumulating dust mites and cluttering the aisles.

Very little 'velocity'...very little "trickling down" to the CMC.

SeattleBruce's picture

And they make up 70% of the US economy - so the US in particular is in trouble...but also the other countries geared up to sell is cheap crap.

Thinking it Thru's picture

That's why the FED the ECB, China and even russia won't let this happen. A kind of quasi one world currency seems to be likly. All work together now, all need each other now.

Nexus789's picture

Okay while other countries had to hold the Dollar to trade - the US exports its debt. These countries are starting to drop the Dollar for trading and are using their own currencies or bartering. The Fed is boxed in as foriegners will be less and less willing to hold US Dollars so printing will have deminishing returns.

Thinking it Thru's picture

"The Fed is boxed in as foriegners will be less and less willing to hold US Dollars so printing will have deminishing returns."

The question is will the EU, possibly China and (FED) North/South America agree to keep printing together. Simply because all the interests align rather well. They all want quiet, non-protesting, malliable populations. So why not just have them join together with only internal conversations keeping it going. Althogh there is much strife in the world it seems that in reality the leaders of the big nations all want stabiity over anything else; plus all the leaders are living such lavish lifestyles one might immagine total earth dominaane is something they would be happy to share amoung a fairly small group. I think they can work together.

The moral (hazard lol) really turns out to only be the want to keep people simple and quiet and without too much ability to reproduce. Sounds like a sick plan, I wonder who I could talk with about this who would know? Who run the FED, the ECB and the world bank? I'm sure there are quite a few smart fellows calling the shots. I wonder after a certain point what is worth more to a billionare, money or power.

Cathartes Aura's picture

seriously great post THX 1178.

Kunstler's longing for a by-gone time socially engineered to keep everyone scrambling for a place in the "social order" while simultaneously rewarding the pocket protector's who followed all the rules to get their gold watch'd retirements - meanwhile!  the nationstate they exist within is overtaken by thieves and sociopaths

all nicely suited up, with purchased gold watches, of course.

smug took its eyes off the road, and is about to crash the overpass. . . look out below.

Horseless Headsman's picture

True enough. Probably won't go this far for a few more years, though. Two anyway.  Plenty of time to look into gardening, right? Actually, it's quite a bit more difficult than the non-gardeners believe. Buy an extra shovel.

Dragon HAwk's picture

And Learn About Heritage Seeds, real real fast..  or Starve next Season

 

imbtween's picture

Heritage? You mean heirloom? Or is there another type?

NuckingFuts's picture

You are correct with Heirloom as the perfered nomenclature.  But I give him/her +1 for being on right track.

TheMeatTrapper's picture

"Plenty of time to look into gardening, right? Actually, it's quite a bit more difficult than the non-gardeners believe."

Very, very true. There's more to growing food than having a bunch of seeds stored, just like there's more to trapping meat than having a bunch of traps stored. 

I've got 15 years trapping experience - I'm playing catch up on the gardening; but I'm learning fast.

SmackDaddy's picture

no kidding.  and at least for someone of my present skill level, it is far more expensive than just buying at the store.  but the experience is most certainly priceless....

NuckingFuts's picture

Thankfully the wife has a MS in Permaculture and is the most eduacted in ag.  I also have a BS in horticulture.  It is a fucking hard row to hoe man.  We dropped out 7 years ago to do it full time.  I have over 2K in produce and eggs going to the "city" on my reefer truck tommorow, it is brutal to try to make a living at it.... But I could feed 50 people all year if I had too.  (and yes to all you haters, I could do it with out gas or fertilizers as long as I had the labor)

Son of Loki's picture

Wait one minute Buckeroo! What are you talking about? That GS executive, you know the one who’s been getting $1 million bonuses since TARP, said the economy is ‘recovering.’

 

Even the bankers [with their several hundred thousand dollar TARP bonuses] are saying the economy is recovering.

willwork4food's picture

Great post Nucking. Who would downvote you on this? Probalby someone who owns stock in Food Lion...anyway with only one acre, half that out back we planted rasberrie, blueberrie, peaches, plums, tomatoes, hot pepers, lettuce, mar..er, strike that, and cucumbers. Who needs grass?

Wahooo's picture

Here's an idea. Specialize in Wealthy & Healthy, delivered fresh by you each week to those who can afford it.

Oracle of Kypseli's picture

Fruit of the month already exists.

Maybe try veggie of the month?

Miggy's picture

Other than the swear words I agree with you THX1178. What do you think the hippies parents thought in the 60's? The author is looking in the wrong places for the answers like you said.

 

John 3:16

THX 1178's picture

Well, you can't come to ZH and not expect a little salty language every now and then.

Oracle of Kypseli's picture

And yet... Point is that these kids and adults have made themselves unemployable. Add the druggies, add the psychologically sick and the entitlement group and you have half of the productive working class supporting an overbearing bloated government as well as these souls whether they got there by choice, by conditioning, by misguidance, parental failure or whathave you.

This cannot last.

BTW: Me thinks that you do not dress for others. You dress for yourself. There is a guy at the office that on casual Fridays he comes in with shirt and bow tie as a counterculture. He was warned though, as this is a revolutionary act like telling the truth.

ThroxxOfVron's picture

"Hopefully some of these hippies and locally grown vegan alterna-hipsters and punk rock anarchists with their bulk beans and rice can show us "mature professionals" how the fuck its acutually done when the collapse comes. "

 

Are allegiences aren't to any of the exisiting variants of statist/centrist clown posse.  

We eat the weeds and bank fires at night for heat.

We roll our own and We hoard the seeds.

We hide in plain sight and bide our time.

 

WE are gonna own this whole continent again by default if TPTB don't wise the fuck up.

gatorboat's picture

"The reason we should be concerned about the inevitable next leg down (that he alluded to, though I'm not sure he fully grasps what that leg is going to be) is that, unlike the Great Depression of the 30's, our collective common knowledge re: basic survival is incredibly shitty."

Next "great depression" will bring anarchy and civil war.  "Underprivileged" class against middle class (what's left of it).

Only way to prevent it is keep those EBT cards and welfare checks going.   Which means keep printing dollars, keep weakening the dollar, keep reducing people's purchasing power.

Govt doesn't fear the middle class.  Middle class isn't violent.   Govt fears the "underprivileged" class who ARE violent.  It's why govt buys their cooperation with EBT cards and welfare checks.

America has two choices.  Quiet death or violent death.  Quiet death is the dollar steadily losing value till it's worthless.  We quietly sink to 3rd world level.   Violent death is the dollar suddenly crashing to zero. 

It could go either way.  50/50 odds.

Revolution isn't in either of those choices.  Middle class isn't violent enough for revolution, and "underprivileged" class wouldn't attack the source of their EBT cards and welfare checks, which will continue right to the end because Fed can keep printing dollars right to the end.

Middle class are the losers.  Purchasing power wiped out and no EBT cards / govt checks to make up for it.

Larry Dallas's picture

This article is dead on .

But as usual, is perpetually knocked down for being the person who can't change oil or plant corn. Who does that stuff anymore or needs to? I mean really? Low skilled labor isn't something to be proud of.

'Cause only blue collar folks do that. Not folks paid to use their brain...

tvdog's picture

Which group do the wearers of girly jeans and tight T-shirts belong to?