Screenplay

We’re All Bakersfield Now

Our return from Palm Springs took us through Bakersfield. This is Kern County’s biggest city. It is Kevin McCarthy’s district; he is the temporary Speaker of the House. How temporary remains up in the air, his tenure is uncertain, the mood of his caucus is rather gladiatorial.

American Ingenuity ala 1950’s

While in Bakersfield I was taken to wonder what to make of the people who voted for the Republican leader. I’m presuming that they liked the insurrection, were cheered on by his backhanded comment that he suspected that Putin was paying Trump to run for President. That was back in the good old days of 2016 when he was discussing the odd affinity then House member Dana Rohrabacher had for Russia’s dictator. This other Dana, not this one, was also being paid by Russia according to McCarthy. 

I continue wondering about how eager Bakersfield voters are to forfeit our nations status as the issuer of the world’s reserve currency. It is our reserve currency status that earns us the so-called exorbitant privilege that goes along with this status. Since we now control how many dollars are in circulation should we default on the holders of our Treasury Bonds we would instantly surrender our exorbitant privilege and instantly enter insolvency. Social security would end, mortgages interest rates would rocket into the stratosphere then beyond the solar system, that is if there were any functional banks left standing after our defaulting on the nation’s debt.

If you like living in Bakersfield that’s maybe fine, but if you wanted to move, if you had to move, the odds of finding a buyer for your home would be virtually zero. Maybe you could find a cash buyer, but then you’d have to figure out which currency you would risk being paid in, as once the peg on the dollar has been vaporized it is going to be all but impossible to know how much anything is worth.

I’m not an economist— you can tell can’t you

I’m not an economist. I’m just an ordinary citizen living in the United States. There is this quirk in our system that is called the debt ceiling, and as our debts rise the government must change the amount of debt we might hold— this is called raising the debt ceiling. If you are a member of the House, you have either voted for or against legislation that directs the agencies of our government to spend money. We spend money on farmers, teachers, secret agents, judges, soldiers, air traffic controllers, livestock brand inspectors, nuclear weapons designers, librarians, prison guards, border guards, crosswalk guards and so on and so forth. One out of five of us works directly for some piece of our government, and another chunk of the four out of the other five makes their living providing services to the people employed by the government. 

Bakersfield’s people like people across the nation do have jobs both in the public and private sector. Figure once we default every teacher would be put out of work instantly, the means of paying teachers would be ended in the default, the government would be broke. Add the local police, sheriff deputies and Highway Patrol. Weather satellites would continue to orbit the earth, but the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration offices would be shuttered. Forget about controlling immigration on our southern border, northern border, or shorelines the Coast Guard would be disbanded.

Like it or not we no longer live as nomads. We no longer emerge from our fortified caves to scurry about to forage for chubby rabbits, tubers, and yummy little acorns. Instead, we go to supermarkets where we exchange dollars for the food we need. That’s definitely going to be a problem once Republicans destroy our reserve currency status.  I think citizens in Bakersfield will have to learn to get by on citrus, almonds, pistachios and milk. Potatoes are fairly decent crop here too. Lots of potatoes will need to be eaten in Bakersfield, this is the town you can’t leave because nobody has any way of selling their house to anyone else because— you know the rest.

I know a lot of you parents out there have been griping about being stuck at home with your kids because of the pandemic. Well, get used to being stuck big time. And you know when that teenager goes off on you, do remember that there will be no juvenile hall, no parole officers, no drug addiction counselors, no nothing to help you with the problemed child living down the hallway in the house you can’t sell.

If you are living in another country, you’ll soon discover all that money you saved up over your lifetime isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. You’ll have to break out your gold coins, that’ll work until someone finds out you have gold and those famous bad guys come to take it from you. You could keep it in a bank, but banks will be out of business, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation will be tits up and zeroed out. 

Even on a good day I can barely take being in Bakersfield for more than a few hours. Call me an effete snob, call me geographically small-minded, tell me I’m a civic wimp but for whatever reason Bakersfield reminds me of a Greyhound Bus terminal suffering from the world’s most grievous janitorial strike. Candy wrappers are strewn everywhere. Piles of oil exploration drilling gear is scattered halfway to hell and back across the city limits. Even the trees appear to be stunted, arborists have spited the cities flora and fauna, birds flying over but are seldom tempted to stop. I know friends that worked in Bakersfield at the Kern County Fair. As soon as the fair ends they returned to the place they are from and had to spend whatever they had earned on a psychiatrist to overcome the depression living in Bakersfield for two weeks had brought on.

So, you see there are a good many reasons to suspect that defaulting on our nation’s debt might just turn out to be not such a good idea. In a very real sense, our whole nation could turn out to look like Bakersfield. 

Fishing is a form of food gathering, after collapse you’ll paddle

What I’m describing is but the tip of the iceberg. All those unanticipated knock-on effects would have to be included in anyone’s portfolio of misery that is the result of what would certainly the history of the world’s all-time-titanic-never-ever-seen-before-now-or-ever global financial crisis. 

To be sure we place the blame for all this mayhem on the right persons you will need to look at the elected Republican members of the House of Representatives, all the voters who helped to elect these particular house members, all the variety of constituencies that donated money to their campaigns, such wonderful organizations as private equity scoundrels, fossil fuel lobbyists, Chamber of Commerce operatives, and Wall Street types obsessed with having their taxes (not your taxes) cut. Honorable mention must go to book burning advocates, abortion foes, White Supremacists, evangelicals, breast implant enthusiasts and that select group of men now suffering from or soon to be suffering from E.D.. 

If you read this blog now and then you’ll know I’m more than concerned about the possibility that the regions megadrought could render this region ungovernable, that the water that has held this region together could be the cause of it coming unglued. Collapse of civilization can never be ruled out— as hard as Putin tries even he knows there is a risk to the whole thing coming unraveled— trust me all those rooftop swan diving Russian oligarchs are well aware of how tough things can go when where you are from is in the midst of a self-inflicted collapse.

That’s really what a debt default is in the end. It is a self-inflicted act of destruction. Your homes, bank accounts, 401k’s, pensions, medical services, and the chump change you have folded up in your wallet will be totally worthless. All you people bitching about the cost of a gallon of gasoline will finally have something to really be pissed off about. This will be the Republicans sloppy wet kiss to all those deplorables that voted them into office. 

Won’t be needing these anymore

So, to be clear I have to believe that we will not default on our nation’s debt. Kern County will soon count among its population one ex-speaker of the house, and by 2024 a nation of low-information voters will because of watching Fox News be mesmerized into forgetting about the whole stinking mess. Pond scum it is believed will see a meteoric rise in its popularity. Dollar Stores will sell for discount all those many speeches given by politicians that soon after have left America to seek happiness abroad living in Russia, China, Iran or North Korea. 

A global outbreak of popcorn orgies will race across the world. Bakersfield will become a footnote in history, Kevin McCarthy will take up standup comedy, gallows humor will be his closing joke— Kevin wanted power, and finally when he got it, the first thing he did with it was to try to completely destroy the very government he was elected to preserve and protect. You just can’t make this shit up. Welcome to life’s mad carnival, the United States has gone all in for a bumpy ride. Put on that seatbelt and lookout below.

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