I Remember When I-94 Used To Be Merely Backed Up!

When I first moved into the Northwest Indiana area ten years ago (it’s getting near that date) I had grown used to I-80/94 backing up anywhere from near Calumet Avenue (thank goodness for the merge in/out lane) to past the Indiana Toll Road. Eventually people could make it through, if they stuck on it long enough.

Then they rebuilt the road. It was expanded to four lanes between Broadway and I-294, and they even made the section underneath the intersection four lanes. So now the road rarely backs up.

Only now it closes.

It closed for a few days last year. That time they said some bit of machinery didn’t work the way it was supposed to, and I-80/94 became flooded because of it.

This year the closing has grown so bad that the blockages have expanded. This time I-65 north from US 24 has been closed down for traffic control. All because a dike broke near Kennedy Avenue.

I don’t know about you, but I remember a road that almost never closed. Now we’re talking about a road that closes down every other year, it seems.

Something is VERY wrong.

So This Is What Happens With a Consumption Economy…

Last month the unemployment rate rose. The governmental unemployment rate.

In short, enough people lost their jobs and actually went to the government to declare this fact. Which means a lot of people lost their jobs, period.

Meanwhile a lot of stores have been closing down. Not just the “Mall Stores” Restaurants have been closing down like crazy, as well. A Long-Standing (Okay, been around NW Indiana longer than I have) Mexican Restaurant closed its doors, along with quite a few along US 30 and a couple other areas. Elsewhere, a few restaurants have added hours long unused (one place now open Sundays, another expanded their their hours closer to dinner hours).

Meanwhile home sales have fallen through the floor, so much so that the government has had to save a bunch of banks. You’ve heard about the recent actions to save Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (Sallie Mae is still solvent. Make of it what you will.); and while “I’m preparing to foot the bill,” I’m not sure I have enough KY Jelly to do a proper preparation.

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So what’s the linkages in all this? The “Service Economy,” or our basing our economy on consumer consumption.

Think of it: If you base the health of your economy on how much people are buying, you’re going to do everything to make people buy stuff. Credit suddenly becomes big, and easy credit becomes the ticket towards a bigger economy (I’ve heard and read that $1.00 can be multiplied to $8 or $9, if not more, by loaning it out to people everywhere). Stores suddenly become more important than other places, malls become Meccas and Brands take on religious meanings (Apple, anyone?).

Question is, what happens when the credit runs out and people no longer are able to spend what they need to?

Here’s a hidden secret behind the malaise of this economy: Credit has an impact of depressing the amount of money usable for purchase later on.  Think of it: If what I’m purchasing for $1,000 now has a total cost of $1,100, that’s $100 dollars that didn’t go towards other items. Maybe we’re talking about a choice of Wonder Bread vs a brand made with multiple grains. Maybe it’s some clothes that didn’t get purchased because that $100 needed to be used on interest relief. Maybe it’s money not saved because of a necessary purchase.

And when that money needs to go for necessities, we’re talking about people forced to pay off today with tomorrow. Present/furure money that could go towards savings or improving one’s life is forced to cover for present/past money that wasn’t there when needed.

I know of no better definition of wage-slavery. I also know of no better way of making people accept wage-inflation.

And when people are forced to pay off the past with their present income, their wages had better have improved over what they earned, more than even the rate of inflation. Otherwise we’re going to see what’s now happening: Store closings, restaurant closings, increasing unemployment and a sluggish economy that has its money going to people whose sole reason for making money is that they lent some money out months/years ago, expecting interest.

Is it any wonder people have hated banks? Is it any wonder religions have railed against usury (to the point that one, Islam, has banned loans at interest)? Is it any wonder people rail for the gold standard (I’ve always been a bit leery of this, probably because I doubt that a gold standard ALONE would cure this country’s ills).

Love the VP Candidates!

This presidential primary “season” (if you can call a 1 1/2 year trudge a season) has been most interesting. The Democrats have actually had to choose between two candidates whom they loved (none of them white males, by the way) and the Republicans have for once had to settle for “whom do we think we can with with” (a situation which the Democrats have had to deal with too many times since 1984). And while the sadness from the Hillary supporters on the Democratic side is palpable, it’s probably one of the happier problems I’ve seen the party have.

And now we have our vice presidential candidates:

  • Obama chooses Senator Joe Biden. Knowing his weaknesses, Obama chooses a man who complements him with strength where his weaknesses lie. Yes, a drop in potential power, but the two would be better together.
  • McCain chooses Governor Sarah Palin. A woman from probably the most unique state in the union, she not only shores up the religious right’s support but adds some serious eye candy to the ticket. Not only that, but the issue of her daughter’s pregnancy has actually given her cache amongst the Republican faithful (and for good reason: I’ve seen similar actions from other Fundamentalist Christians. They may want the world to end soon, but they’re not about to abandon their wayward daughters.).

In the world of VPs, this is the best of all worlds so far. For once both candidates aren’t trying to cover geographical ground but instead adding true complements to themselves. Both selections were very much proactive selections that sought to improve their chances for election in ways that didn’t have to do with staid, safe selections that were calculated to protect themselves from possible assassination attempts.

And yes, I’m being a lookist in reference to Sarah Palin. She IS hot. I’d jump her bones in a minute; even going so far as to risk discovery. Besides, Dan Quayle was a looker himself, and was also chosen by a moderate Republican for his Right-leaning views. However, such was his bearing that he was a weight on George H.W. Bush; while Bush was able to win it was Despite him, not necessarily because of him.

I don’t think Sarah will turn voters off. At least amongst the faithful (Although if Sarah’s Daughter Palin bears a child with Down’s Syndrome, it’s going to get REALLY interesting – Down’s Syndrome usually hits older women who try to bear children well after normal women stop bearing children).

And I’m actually amped up about this presidential campaign. Only the 1992 Campaign was more of a high for me (and just so you know, Ross Perot was a vital part of the electricity of that election).