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Feeling It

Saturday, January 31, 2009 by Michael Reynolds

Call it my own response to hard times. I'm not feeling the need to talk politics. I'm feeling the need to write funny.

I have two paid writing projects. First, the continuing GONE series. I'm almost done with book #3, with 3 more lined up. They are heavy and dark and intense. And I'm all-but-signed to a new series pitched a bit younger than GONE. Where GONE is fantasy/horror, the new thing will be comic/adventure.

That's a good balance for me. 600 pages a year dark and scary, 400 pages funny. My strange little brain in abstract.

But right now obsessing over politics feels a little off. It's time to put away childish things, as President Obama said. And in some way I can't quite explain, seriousness for me feels childish right now. Funny feels like the grown-up thing to do.

I'm feeling like my political schtick is wearing thin -- with me. The era of the Limbaughs and, in a very different income tax bracket, the Michael Reynoldses, is past. The grown-ups need to step in. The dialog needs to advance. The thrust and parry, the counting coup, is tired and irrelevant. The games played by the people I disagree with, and the games I myself play, they've become joyless, off-topic, suddenly ancient. Embarrassing.

Something has changed. It's not just Obama, it's the wave of revulsion that swept Obama into office. Politics isn't entertainment when Americans are in serious trouble. Not for me, anyway. But it's not just this recession, it's that it all doesn't feel quite right. Not much of an explanation, I realize, but for me intuition provides the hypothesis to be tested by logic. I start with the feeling that something has changed.

I told my friend Annie at Ambivablog that I was going to make myself scarce in her comments sections. It isn't petulance, it's a response to a feeling that I was doing the same old same old when something fundamental has changed. I don't get paid to be behind the curve. I don't want to be peddling schtick 20 years past its sell-by date. I'm not going to be Charo. I'm not Vanilla Ice.

There is a disturbance in the force. Change is coming. Change is here. It's already happening and I'm riding the aftershocks. The paradigm has shifted The zeitgeist is geistier. I don't see it clearly enough yet to describe it. But I feel it.

I'm not ending this blog, just warning the few remaining readers that I'm analyzing the new environment. Considering what it all means. And in the meantime instinct is telling me that my most useful contribution is probably to provide a few laughs.

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He's The Tail, We're The Dog

Monday, January 26, 2009 by Michael Reynolds

It's happy mush until the end. And then, "I pledge to be a servant to our president and all mankind . . ."

What the fuck?

Hey, geniuses, he works for us. He's our servant. We pay him, he doesn't pay us. Hollywood pinheads. Jesus Christ fajita.

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Fool Rushes In

Sunday, January 25, 2009 by Michael Reynolds

What I know about economics would fit on a matchbook. So when it comes to economic issues my instincts are probably not worth much, and my analysis is worth less. But that's never stopped me before. So . . .

I think this stimulus package (and can we please, God, find a different phrase?) is doing two different things, both of which need to be done, but which are not as directly connected as we're supposed to believe. 1) It's meant to pump money into the economy by the shortest route available. 2) It's meant to improve the power grid, the roads and bridges and school buildings. The so-called infrastructure.

The problem is that this isn't 1933. If you want your infrastructure improved you don't hire a million guys with shovels, you hire ten thousand guys with bulldozers. You really want Tom Joad building your power grid with a pickaxe on his shoulder and a piece of hay stuck in his teeth? I kind of think we may need non-hobo labor for most of this stuff.

So I doubt all this infra-restructuring will create today's randomly-assigned-number of jobs. I think we need the infra-restructuring, but I don't think it's a panicky, need-it-this-very-minute thing because it's not going to quickly translate into jobs. It may not create jobs until we're clear out the other end of this recession/depression. So maybe we should take a few weeks to actually think it over.

If what you really want is to pump money into the economy, fine, cancel payroll taxes for a period of time. Or cancel it on a means-tested basis so that struggling families would benefit. A huge percentage of that money would go straight back into the economy for fast food, Wal-Mart socks, rent, a new muffler, and glasses for the kids. Boom! Pass the legislation next week, people could be spending the money by Valentine's day.

While you're at it, cancel the employer contribution for a period of six months, make it cheaper for employers to keep workers on salary. No fuss, no muss, no detail, no new paperwork, no new bureaucracy.

The following blogs have been useful in helping me think about this, but should not be held directly responsible for my no-doubt mangled conclusions: The Glittering Eye, Not a Potted Plant, Our Better History and Rightwing Nuthouse.

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