Watching Dreams Die

SUBHEAD: Other dreams will take their place. But, it is going to be an epic struggle that many of us won't live to see. By Ilargi on 8 September 2011 for th Automatic Earth - ( Image above: View of the ruins of the Palais de Justice in the town of St. Lo, France, summer 1944. The red metal frame in the foreground is was once fire fighting equipment. From ( Earlier this week, there was a heart-rendering comment on Reddit by someone involved -boots on the ground- in the process of evicting people from their homes. Very much recommended reading, see here for the original comment and here for the follow-up. The commenter named his follow-up: Why my job is to watch dreams die. And that got me thinking. For that is what it often feels like what we do here at The Automatic Earth: we watch dreams die. Only, we see them die -mostly- before the people do whose dreams we watch. That may sound convoluted, but it really isn't. While it may be hard to predict and see what stone may fall next, it is very obvious that the large majority of them will indeed topple over. There are big dreams, like that of a unified Europe, a dream that is age old, and has been shattered as often as it's been dreamt. This time will be no different. And neither will the consequences be any more bearable. The German Federal Constitutional Court passed a judgment this week that seems to let Angela Merkel and her people off the hook: all EU bailouts to date passed the threshold of legality. For Merkel though, this is as Pyrrhic as it comes, and the same goes for the financial markets. The court, even as it condoned past actions, put very strict limits on future ones. Future bailouts will be very hard to pass, there will no longer be any last minute grand gestures, and a fiscal union for Europe was swept off the table in one fell swoop. In case anyone still feels even this can be overcome, Slovakia of all places threatens the Euro project with imminent demise. The chairman of the parliament in Bratislava has said there will be no vote on the lift of EFSF funds until probably December. So even if there's a yes vote, no funds will be available until February 2012. Which is more than Europe can bear at this point in time. There are so many leaks in the system, it's already running out of fingers. Dutch Finance Minister De Jager sent a letter to his parliament yesterday saying the next chunk of Greek Phase 1 bailout funds will be delayed from mid September to end September at the earliest. Greece is not living up to the conditions put on the bailouts. Not enough austerity. Firing 20% of civil servants is apparently what it will take. Not enough austerity in Italy either, or so we hear. We could go on for a long time pointing out signs that paint the inevitable picture, but it should be clear by now that Europe is a dream we see die before our very eyes. Swiss bank UBS has an idea what that will likely lead to: "We note that almost no modern fiat currency monetary unions have broken up without some form of authoritarian or military government, or civil war." The cause of the downfall of the Eurozone? Too much debt. It's no different from that of the people the Reddit commenter evicts from their homes. Too much debt. It's everywhere, and it will devour our societies. There are other big dreams. Never ending economic growth comes to mind. Or technical progress that lasts forever and can solve all problems caused by .. technical progress. That reminds us of the yeast in the wine vat that die off at the height of their proliferation, not because they run out of wine, but because no organism can survive in a medium of its own waste. We watch the big dreams die here. But they‘re not what we are most interested in. We care about the dreams of everyday people that are going to be shattered, if they’re not already. In that regard, I often say that what I think is our role is can be defined as "minimizing the suffering of the herd". We have no solutions that can carry anyone safely away from the falling debris of our civilizations. The best we can do is to try and point to small ways that might make it all more bearable. But having your dreams broken to bits will never be easy. And broken they will be if they have anything to do with our financial system, for it is itself broken beyond repair. Too much debt. Whether you've paid into a pension plan for years only to find out there's nothing of it left, or you want to start a family but don't have a job or a home to live in, whether you want to provide your children with a good, let alone a better, future, your dreams too will be maimed beyond recognition. We are on the verge of entering the most severe credit crunch in history, and there are no easy ways out of it. We wouldn't do too well even if we made all the right choices, and at the same time there's no way we are going to make them. The MO of our societies, the way we respond to the impending collapse of our systems, is defined by those who owe their very positions to those systems: bankers, captains of industry, media moguls and politicians. Instead of using the remaining resources to minimize suffering, they spend them all in a doomed effort to prop up the existing structures that made then what they are. Most of them don't know any better, and those that do proceed anyway because they think they themselves will be better off that way. Deutsche Bank CEO Josef Ackermann said earlier this week: "Numerous European banks would not survive having to revalue sovereign debt held on the banking book at market levels." Indeed, neither would numerous American banks. Or pension funds, for that matter. Still, if one would wish to restore confidence in the financial system, marking assets to market is the only way to go. Mark to market or the market will do it for you. Restructure debt, let those institutions go bankrupt that hold too much debt, and move on. But in no case use any more money that belongs to the people. Use that money to help out the people, minimize their future suffering. Unfortunately, our societies simply don't have the political structures to make the right choices, or at least those that would serve the people best. Our political structures serve those who hold the power, and they will choose to hold on to that power. The structures allow them to use the people's wealth against the people's best interests. It's perverse, it's insidious, and it's our reality. Voting someone else into power doesn't change these structures one bit. The people at UBS seem to realize this when they talk of impending civil war in Europe as a consequence of the break-up of the Eurozone. What they don't mention, for whatever reason, is, as Tyler Durden points out, that this will be the end of UBS, too. That seems sort of symbolic for the way many people view the future: they see a lot of negative developments, but a relatively benign position for themselves. The best we can do is to continue to tell people to get closer to their family and friends, to establish closer communities. But also to stop making plans for decades into the future, because the future has too many embedded uncertainties. And don't expect too much, if anything, from our existing pension, health care and education systems. There will be no funding to keep them going. So your children will once again be your pension plan, just like they were throughout the ages, and they still are throughout most of the world. They will have to learn their skills from their parents and communities. And yes, that is, provided they live long enough, that they don't succumb to afflictions that today are perfectly treatable but for which no provisions will be available. We are watching dreams die. Other dreams will take their place. But, given the way the human mind works, it is going to be an epic struggle that many of us won't live to see. See also: Ea O Ka Aina: Costs of a Euro Break-up 9/7/11 .

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