Saturday, October 1, 2011

2012 Will Be An Awful Year

Yesterday as I was leaving the house to fill an important prescription I needed for a flu, I ran into a dear neighbor Eric. We started a casual conversation. You know, "making small talk." At first we talked about our travels and adventures. Then we both started to talk about the "here and now."

We both agreed that we had never seen this country in such bad shape. I mentioned the great website Shadow Statistics that sets the actual US unemployment rate at 16%; just short of the unemployment one sees in a great depression. We agreed that the government is not telling the population the truth about what is going on. If they told the truth, we all would panic, or so they think.

Eric and I both agreed that 2012 is going to be a bad year with more unemployment, foreclosures, and economic misery. Eric and I felt sorry for the young people just starting their careers and looking for work.

Eric was especially skeptical of the right-wing politicians who want to take the benefits away from the poor. I pointed out to him that I spent 5 years living in Brasil in the 1970's during the military government. At that time Brasil was a society where 97% of the productive assets were controlled by 1% of the population. You were either rich /upper middle class or poor.

I was an American man from a humble middle class family in Houston. But with my total expatriate benefit package of $50,000 a year US, I was in the upper class in Brasil. I lived in a humble middle class apartment. I didn't own a car. I had no fancy jewelry. I did not have a fancy wardrobe. When I walked out on the streets of Rio, I could have easily been mistaken for a Brasilian of German ancestry from the south of the country.

I explained to Eric that it took 5 keys to get from the from door of my apartment building (Edificio Sao Roberto) to the front door of my apartment on the 5th floor. All of these keys were to make sure that some poor robber could not get up to my apartment.

I told Eric that I would get up early each morning and go for a run along Copacabana Beach. Run along with me was an off-duty Rio de Janeiro police officer named Elmo. He would always wear shirts and a tank top. He carried his shoulder holster and .38 pistol at all times. My body guard was with me to protect me against kidnappers. When the work out was finished, I had my shower and a breakfast. Elmo would be downstairs awaiting me. He drove a late-model Chevrolet. It was run down. Elmo and I looked like two poor Brasilians. This keep us out of the sights of kidnappers and robbers.

I told Eric that Elmo would drive me to work and bring me home in the evening.

I told Eric that when we move to a society with just the rich and the poor those of us with some money and assets left will have to live in fortresses.

We both agreed that the economy is going to get very ugly next year.