Neoliberal Inflation

Inflation, by the way, is part of this neoliberal retraining of the mind. If you saved a thousand bucks in the past year, it’s worth less than a year ago. Thus we are trained to see saving as useless and counterproductive. This inflation was absolutely engineered, and useless old Joe Biden was installed to take the flak for it.

16 thoughts on “Neoliberal Inflation

  1. It’s dismal. We are moving to a new town in a few months (work reasons), we’ve never lived there before, and normally I’d like to rent for a year, check out the area, and take some time to decide whether we like the place or not… but now I’m all “let’s buy a house immediately” because all the money we’ve squirreled away is tanking in value right now and the mortgage interest rates (3.7-5.7%) are less than the current actual inflation rate (8.5% minimum!)… so we’d do better owing it than saving it.

    Like

  2. The problem with holding a “basket of currencies”: what if they all suck?

    Translate the problem into holding a “basket of commodities”: what if they all are mediocre performers?

    And so we have reached the There Is No Alternative hold point where most people become unwilling property speculators because a private dwelling of some kind is the top investment they will ever make.

    But if you’re resigned to becoming a better speculator, maybe the question to ask whether you’d be better off owing rather than saving? (No, that word in italics is not misspelled.)

    Present valuations for residential real estate are absurd … until you realise that most people will never pay for these things outright, but instead will pay for them through arranged credit.

    What’s that crap the WEF types have been spouting, that you’ll own nothing and you’ll be happy?

    Most people don’t own their houses outright, and I believe it’s now up to about a quarter of all residential mortgage notes in the US being owned by the US Government.

    Translate the problem again for holding a “basket of common ambitions”: what if they are delusions?

    What’s the world these people are planning on living in after a 10 or 15 year mortgage, let alone a 30 year mortgage?

    Does this map lead to any real territory?

    So is this even a choice, or is it more like a Hobson’s choice in which you get to choose from one well-advertised form of debt slavery over another?

    In this landscape, all of your better paths out of the current situation are mediocre, and you may have little choice in the matter.

    Maybe you could lower your down payment and churn those FiatBUXX into some commodities that while they suck, they happen to suck less than your other alternatives?

    Like

    1. For us personally… we’re only looking at houses we could pay off in 5-6 years, that were built before central air conditioning (off-grade foundation, stick construction, floor layouts that maximize air circulation– these are important for minimizing A/C use in the subtropics: slab foundations and brick walls condensate if you open the windows, so you are forced to use your HVAC year-round just to avoid mold), and that are closer to work/church than we currently live, to cut how much we’re driving.

      The problem with continuing to rent is… there are cost saving and quality-of-life measures I’m used to having, that I can’t use in a rental (and for the last nine months the lack has been agonizing): I can’t have a clothesline (I asked!) which would save 30% on my electric bill, I can’t have a garden, or chickens, which wring every last useful nutrient out of what is otherwise kitchen waste and return some of the value in high-quality eggs, pumpkins, and greens. I can’t plant fruit trees or blueberry bushes. There is no point whatsoever in long-term soil-building, which is one of the larger contributors to my mental, physical, and spiritual well-being. I get harassed by my landlord every time something breaks and I just fix it myself instead of contacting the office and waiting two weeks for an overbooked professional repairman to be available (no, really, I am competent to replace a kitchen faucet: AND I CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT IT FOR THAT LONG. Ditto for the condenser fan on the fridge). Renting is horrible for my relationship with my kids, because I can’t overlook the odd pen-mark (or foot-mark) on the walls, I can’t let them cook after that last spaghetti-sauce explosion hit the ceiling (because my landlord, for unfathomable reasons, has chosen flat paint for the kitchen– and that’s not something I have any control over, but may result in us not getting our deposit back. Yay for $1300 cooking accidents… It’s like a cruel entrapment situation). There are lots of things that would make our current house nicer to live in, but since it’s not my house, I can’t change anything (eg, I have a toddler, we live on a road where people drive fast, and I can’t install a fence… it is a source of constant anxiety). In my own house, I could take a very casual attitude toward paint colors and do what we did at my sister’s house: pick up whatever’s on the reject shelf at the hardware store, mix a few shades of light-blue together with a gallon of white, and paint some walls for cheap! In my rental, I have to use the exact horrible color (“softer tan”) from Sherwin Williams at an insane premium price, to patch up the dings and marks that always happen when you a) have kids, and b) cook at home constantly.

      And we don’t even have a bad landlord!

      Anyway… at least for us it’s not a case of trying to invest our money. Investing is for rich people. It’s a choice between spending five years paying so much in rent that we are unable to save anything but a chunk of our tax return (unless we have to replace a car, in which case that year is a bust), and watching what we do save go down the drain due to inflation… OR spending five years paying the same amount or less on a mortgage and home repairs, for a house we will actually own at the end of that time, AND being able to retire our dryer, recycle our food waste, and plant things without purchasing every cubic foot of soil (in a bag, to put in pots, also purchased).

      Are houses overvalued right now? Yes. But rents are also insane, at least in our area, so… it’s not like you escape the insanity by renting. You just pay through the nose for the privilege of living in a house where a landlord who doesn’t share your values and interests gets to make rules that you have to live by. And dangitall, I NEED to have a garden again. It’s one of the things that makes life worth living, and I’m not willing to wait for it until I’m seventy and too crippled to use a shovel. If I have to pay cash for a half acre in the sticks and finance a trailer to make that happen, I will do it.

      Like

      1. “The problem with continuing to rent is…”

        All the things you mentioned are why Schwab doesn’t want you to own anything… neoliberal existence is a constant stream of greater and lesser nuissances that you’re never free from.
        The reasons for this are to make it hard to resist (the USSR utilized the same principle) and to make people more likely to spend to soothe their anxieties since that’s what so many people do…..

        Liked by 2 people

        1. And it’s easier to drag us around at will if we are never comfortable or settled anywhere. Look at the first thing that the Russians do when they occupy a village in Ukraine. They put people on buses and ship them to the Sakhalin. Dragging people around like objects is the whole point. Tens of thousands of Ukrainians have been dragged someplace they never wanted to go, and for what? This achieves no purpose because you can’t keep them there for any length of time. It looks like an insane waste of money but it’s not. Shuffling people around, enacting and reenacting fluid existence and endless mobility is the whole purpose.

          Like

          1. “They put people on buses and ship them to the Sakhalin”

            Very…. Soviet. And a thought occurs. Neoliberalism was supposed to be a tool for ending communism but modern neoliberal values and practices are often extremely…. Soviet for lack of a better word.

            It’s not just the obvious stuff like the cancelations and self-criticism but often a kind of weird mirror version. You once wrote that Soviets abhored ‘over-production’ so that finding something when you needed it was almost impossible.
            The neoliberal version is the war on ‘spare capacity’ and the weird fixation on ideas like ‘just in time’ deliveries (which make supply chains fragile and threaten catastrophe).

            Liked by 2 people

            1. This is a great observation. I think it’s the totalitarian aspect of both systems that creates the similarities. Both systems try to abolish the ‘bourgeois’ or middle-class wealth, both need complete control of the speech and thought. It is funny (but in an eerie way) that we ended up in a neoliberal version of Sovietization. Even the beliefs about the interchangeability of men and women are the same. The hatred of genetics is bizarrely identical.

              Like

              1. It’s gotten so that even saying that different racial groups are more likely to suffer from different health conditions is now anathema. Med school professors are now abandoning their lectures about heart disease among African Americans and Crohn’s disease among South Americans. Because everybody is a replaceable, identical widget that is a product of their own will and not of nature (or let alone God).

                Like

        2. One does get the distinct impression that the globalist dream is for all us plebes to be interchangeable bags of protoplasm whose interests and preferences are all carefully channeled into a few monetizable streams. For the slugs: there’s proce$$ed food and re$taurant$. For those with an interest in cooking, there’s $ub$cription boxes where fre$h ingredients arrive on your doorstep with kindergarten-level instructions on how to cook them, and the carrots already chopped and everything in discrete little plastic bags (so much for reducing plastic waste). So you can feel like you’re cooking, without the bother of learning anything about it or using dangerous implements such as knives or exercising choice and planning, and a whole parasitic industry can live on the profits. Don’t get me started about the “tinker crate” subscription services (training future assembly-line drones by tricking their parents into thinking they’re “being creative” Ha!)…

          The idea of growing a landrace pumpkin in your own yard, using a free nitrogen source (such as roadkill, or what you found in the rat trap), cooking and eating it yourself, and saving the seeds for next year, is anathema to these people. The only place money changed hands was maybe the initial $2.50 packet of seeds (if you weren’t lucky enough to know someone already growing them). The only way this scheme is valuable to our overlords is if you hired a boutique landscaping service to come and plant the garden for you (then it’s taxable!) and only used the pumpkin for your fall house decor.

          And that’s before even getting into messy issues like kids which they’d prefer you not have at all– but if you’re going to have any, they need to be properly monetized via daycare, school, electronics and advertising to make sure their interests are adequately stunted and anesthetized, so they’ll buy the required amount of licensed trademarked plastic-landfill-waste to keep the wheels of commerce churning.

          What’s bizarre to me is all the talk about being eco-this and eco-that, but at the same time funneling people into high-energy-consumption, high-waste lifestyles. Packaged food is extremely wasteful (and unhealthy!– and the resulting unnecessary medical care is even more wasteful). Dryers are completely unnecessary (but heaven forbid you have an ugly clothesline!). Constant indoor climate control is one of the chief wasters of fossil fuel after cars in this country– but do we build buildings to be functional without it? No. Giant TVs, subscription electronic entertainment, and constant screen use are a huge energy suck (should we talk about e-waste?), particularly compared to, say, badminton and rummy (which is how we entertained ourselves before the internet). Wouldn’t it save a lot of gas and resources if we didn’t have to move every few years for a job? If we could grow just a small fraction of our own food instead of shipping it from halfway across the world? The US government used to encourage that (Victory gardens, anyone?). Our new overlords don’t like it. It’s not standardized and monetized and tracked and controlled. How are they going to bill you for the time you spend exercising and getting sun in the garden? Better to get an internet-connected exerbike and pay for virtual spin classes while basking in the artificial UV generated by your SAD lamp, no?
          .

          Liked by 1 person

      2. “I can’t have a clothesline (I asked!) which would save 30% on my electric bill, I can’t have a garden, or chickens, which wring every last useful nutrient out of what is otherwise kitchen waste and return some of the value in high-quality eggs, pumpkins, and greens. I can’t plant fruit trees or blueberry bushes. There is no point whatsoever in long-term soil-building, which is one of the larger contributors to my mental, physical, and spiritual well-being. . . Renting is horrible for my relationship with my kids, because I can’t overlook the odd pen-mark (or foot-mark) on the walls, I can’t let them cook after that last spaghetti-sauce explosion hit the ceiling”

        This is a very precise diagnosis of what’s wrong with the lifestyle that pushes us to endless mobility and to “rent, not own.” People who want to form a meaningful connection with the land they are on (aka mentally healthy people), people who have children, people who know how to perceive the world through tactile experiences (once again, aka mentally healthy people) can’t thrive in chaotic, unattached, uprooted environments. It is quite literally being unable to leave your mark on the world that’s implicit in this kind of lifestyle. The world is no longer our canvas. We are the canvas that has things written on it against our will.

        Thank you, it’s a brilliant comment.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. The baffling thing is that my husband is totally OK with that lifestyle. He’s willing to go along with the wife-needs-us-to-buy-a-house scheme because he loves me, but he does not understand it at all. If he were not married, I’m not sure he’d ever leave the confines of a building except to go to the car and transfer to another building… how does that happen? I feel like there must have been something deeply unhealthy about his upbringing.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Wait. Since when are you married to my husband?

            🙂

            Honestly, though, it’s the weirdest thing. I’m no social butterfly and people tire me but I still do need human contact, being outside, feeling the breeze on my face. How one can be cooped up for months and not go barking mad is incomprehensible to me. In my husband’s case, it’s definitely a result of a very unhealthy, abusive upbringing.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Don’t worry, my husband is not a mathematician 😉

              But this is why I hang around on your blog, you know. Like OMG someone else understands!

              His parents were not abusive AFAIK (his brothers are another story), but I think they were overwhelmed with his older siblings (who were unholy terrors), and when they finally got a quiet kid, a more-or-less benign neglect set in. Like, “well, at least we don’t have to worry about that one getting into trouble…” so he never had friends, or learned to ride a bike. I taught him to drive a car after we married, because his parents couldn’t be bothered. He lives almost entirely in his head. I consider it one of my chief duties as a wife to crack him out of there and expose him to the broader world now and then. He tolerates, and sometimes even enjoys, this.

              Like

  3. Liked Nassim Taleb’s definition of the West:

    // What is it that We Call the West?

    What we call “the West” is not a spiritual entity, but an administrative system first and last. Is is not an ethno-geographical ensemble, but a legal and institutional system: it includes Japan, S. Korea, and Taiwan. It mixes the thalassocratic Phoenician world of network-based trade and that of Adam Smith, based on individual rights and freedom to transact, under the constraint of social progress. In the United States, the difference between Democrats and Republicans is minor when seen from a different century. Both sides wants social progress, but at different rates of growth.

    On the other hand, nationalism requires the All-Mighty Centralized –worse, Hegelian — State, and one that curates cultural life to weed out individual variations.

    Ending the Ukrainian War

    If you give Putin even one finger, he will have won the war. Russia’s leadership must therefore be humiliated, and the only way is for it to retreat. We need a repetition of the 1905 Russo-Japanese war. In this case, Putin will be overthrown from the inside, because, historically, people who accept autocracies do not like the weak.

    View at Medium.com

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.