Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Wall Street crash? What about an asteroid smash?

Took a while to get the ball rolling.

First of all, what's with the URL for the blog? Well, all of the good ones were already taken. But for me, "tug-pull-push-stop" is the process of forming our positions, forming how we think. We get tugged and pulled in one direction, pushed in another direction, and then we finally stop (perhaps with some resonance) in a position where we don't feel buffeted or cosseted too much in one direction or another. That's our position.

Whelp, today's issue, at least one, has to be the financial market. I daresay I'm not an expert. But it does seem to me that Joe Sixpack doesn't understand the problem (and it wasn't explained very well, either). The problem is, banks don't know how much money they're going to lose on mortgages, so they have to keep cash to cover the losses. So they aren't lending. Lending is the grease that keeps the economy going. No grease, the wheels get sticky and lock up, and that's what's happening. Now, how does one explain that the money is necessary so that the banks can lend without fear (or at least less fear) of either being punished or collapsing for lack of money?

When you cut through the morass of this issue, at the heart of it is greed. Gordon Gekko was wrong; greed isn't good. (Hmm, wasn't that movie named "Wall Street"? Thought so.) The housing market was driven by greed of three kinds: one, to make money, and two, to realize the American Dream Greed part one drove the market with double-digit increases per year in housing prices. Greed part two drove people to forget thrift and prudence and do whatever it took to get the house on the half-acre rather than the townhouse or condo that was actually affordable. Greed part one then led realtors and loan agents to come up with dubious ways to allow people that really couldn't afford a home to supposedly afford one, and greed part one also caused some predators to take advantage of people who didn't know better.

So what we need now is a shock to the system that would force us to realize our place in the Solar System. I suggest an asteroid. Esoterica time:

Space Explorers Plead With UN to Prepare for Killer Asteroids

In the past 15 years, we've already had a comet hit Jupiter, the Greenland ice sheet took a hit, it was thought there was a chance an asteroid could hit Mars just this past January, and there was a bit of concern that asteroid 1999 AN10 might deflect enough when it swings by Earth in 2027 to have a chance of smacking us on the next time around in 2039. And those are the ones we're actually tracking. One rogue could hit us any day, any time -- and I think that would be a good thing, provided it wasn't really catastrophic. It would remind people and nations that we're all in this together.

It happens: in September 2007, a meteorite left a muddy crater in Peru. Believe it or not, some people apparently got sick inhaling steam laced with arsenic released when the meteorite hit and vaporized some groundwater.

Experts confirm meteorite crash in Peru

So I advocate a decent impact just to wake us up. For some reason we don't pay attention when half of Galveston Island gets washed away overnight.