The Dangerous Delusion That We Can Return To Business As Usual

by William Skink

If there is a conflict between business interests and public interests who do you think comes out on top?

This whole social distancing thing is really getting worrisome for CEOs and investors. These addicts of Fed liquidity crack are realizing that all the liquidity crack in the world (conjured out of thin air) can’t tame the quadrillion dollar derivative black hole they created.

I’m not kidding when I say a quadrillion dollars. This is from Investopedia:

The derivatives market is, in a word, gigantic – often estimated at more than $1.2 quadrillion on the high end. How can that be? Largely because there are numerous derivatives in existence, available on virtually every possible type of investment asset, including equities, commodities, bonds and foreign currency exchange. Some market analysts even place the size of the market at more than 10 times that of the total world gross domestic product (GDP).

Yesterday our crony capitalist system reached an important benchmark when Trump articulated the importance of getting back to work ASAP. Trump’s lips may have been moving, but they were being animated by the hand of people like Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs and Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who are claiming that vulnerable populations should sacrifice themselves to save the economy.

But save the economy for who?

Here in Missoula, the need to keep business deals going is the reason cited by City Council to justify their unanimous vote last night to bestow Herr Engen with more power:

On a 7-0 vote, the council approved Monday granting Engen the temporary power to approve contracts and agreements that normally require council approval. Councilors Mirtha Becerra, Bryan von Lossberg, Amber Sherrill, John Contos and Julie Merritt were absent.

“I think this is a real common-sense approach to eliminate a lot of the housekeeping business that … we do,” said Councilor Gwen Jones. “But a bigger issue for me also is that we’re getting these contracts out the door so that we’re lining up business for the summer so we can keep people employed.”

These temporary powers are being handed over to Engen because Council members are afraid to be in the same room with each other, and if they can’t legally meet then business contracts could be stalled. Why not meet remotely? It’s difficult, says Jordan Hess, who wants us to know they aren’t abdicating their duty:

Councilor Jordan Hess also emphasized that he takes the council’s role as a check on power very seriously, but felt this was a smart decision.

Hess said the city is looking at ways for the council to potentially move meetings online, but said that is difficult legally. He said Missoula is looking to other cities around the state to see how they are doing remote meetings and finding ways to engage the public that “might actually make us better after this crisis passes in terms of ways of engaging.”

So, as Council tries to figure out a tech-fix, our Mayor will have extended powers until April 30th.

Remember, this is the Mayor who thought a hand shake with the Carlyle Group was sufficient to make a deal. The same Mayor who is an alcoholic and turned a serious intervention about his behavior into a reelection campaign. The same Mayor who sneakily moved up a vote on Lord Checota’s Big D(rift) to avoid public scrutiny. The same Mayor who appears to be involved in some ethically dubious real estate deals.

I could go on.

Maybe in a few weeks our elected leaders will begin to realize that there is no going back to business as usual. Maybe they will realize that there are actual, real life consequences to kicking a quadrillion dollar can down the road for a decade while Herr Engen tossed out TIF money to developers and encouraged voters to pass tens of millions of dollars in bonds for parks and libraries and schools because 3% annual growth was going to keep happening forever and ever.

The quicker they realize this the quicker we can get to work on remaking a system that actually puts public interest ahead of CEOs and investors who contributed to a financial house of cards that is now crashing all around us.

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to The Dangerous Delusion That We Can Return To Business As Usual

  1. Djinn&Tonic says:

    Bravo! Thanks for keeping on keeping on.

  2. Alexander Sleep says:

    Wow this is bullshit. Never let a good crisis go to waste. Keep up the good work Skink.

  3. Greg Strandberg says:

    Do you think Checota’s Riverfront Triangle development will still happen this summer? Here’s what Kidston’s junk blog said about it in December:

    ‘“They’re still looking to start construction in the summer,” said Behan. “It’s a good opportunity that allows some of the other development to start happening down there too. Splitting off the big project allows Riverfront Triangle Partners to do their part.”’

    Personally, I doubt any of these projects are going to start. I imagine the cost of construction materials will have gone up quite a bit by then, as inflation takes hold when the Fed fires up the money printing presses. Still, the cost of borrowing money will be near zero, so that might keep the project going. I dunno.

    And are construction workers an essential business? In some states, they seem to be. I believe they’re still working on the library downtown, too.

    I suspect massive constuction projects will be seen as a way to get the economy going again, much like in the 1930s. This might work, but we’ll probably have to go to Plan B – a major war to jumpstart things. I hope I’m wrong.

    Keep up the good posts.

  4. TC says:

    Thank you for such a synopsis re: Engen. Of course those who know could give countless other examples of why giving more autonomy to the Mayor is a bad thing. And unfortunately all the “good” liberals will explain away by saying this is a good thing. “Hey – Its Jolly John – I love that guy!!!”
    I have worked for the City of Msla for 25 yrs ( Kemmis, Kadas, Engen). I can honestly say that in my entire career I have never felt more alienated from my “ boss” than I do now.
    I wish I could report as you do but I can’t. I appreciate your efforts – please keep it up!

Leave a Reply