Strap the horse to the roof rack – we’re going to a funeral
Bill Bonner Sep 03, 2012
Gold shot up $30 on Friday. What were buyers thinking?
Ben Bernanke just said he was ready to do something if something needed doing. His position hasn't changed.
Today is Labor Day in the US. We are packing up the car and the horse (no kidding, Elizabeth takes her horse back to Paris with her). We're closing the shutters and driving back to town. Summer's over.
Saturday, we went to a wedding and a funeral.
"The wedding starts at 3pm," Elizabeth explained. "And the funeral is at 5:30. So we have time to go to the wedding... and then to the funeral... and then back to the wedding for the cocktail and the dinner."
"And I have to change clothes. I can't go to the funeral wearing my wedding outfit."
"I hope we don't get confused and give our sympathies to the bride and our congratulations to the widow."
"There isn't any widow. The widow died."
"Well, at least she won't be offended."
The wedding was a grand affair. The bride was beautiful. The groom was handsome. Bagpipes blew as the couple drove off together in an old Toyota four-by-four. The significance of the bagpipes in rural France we never did discover. Must be some Scottish connection in one of the families.
"It's always a pleasure to attend a wedding," said a neighbour. "Especially a wedding of nice people who seem very happy with each other. And perfect for each other...
"It seems so rare now. Many young people don't want to get married at all. This next generation is very different. They seem to prefer to 'hang out'... they even have children without getting married."
In France, as in the USA, the weight of the welfare/warfare state rests on the shoulders of this next generation. In America, they are expected to support $211trn of debt and unfunded healthcare and pension liabilities.
Not only that, but they must also join America's consumer economy... by having children, and buying houses and automobiles – just like their parents and grandparents.
If they shirk... the whole edifice of the modern American economy comes crashing down.
And, based on the evidence, the "millennials" are shrugging:
The Atlantic: "How do you sell cars to Millennials (aka Generation Y)? The fact is, today's young people simply don't drive like their predecessors did. In 2010, adults between the ages of 21 and 34 bought just 27 percent of all new vehicles sold in America, down from the peak of 38 percent in 1985. Miles driven are down, too. Even the proportion of teenagers with a license fell, by 28 percent, between 1998 and 2008.
"Since World War II, new cars and suburban houses have powered the economy and propelled recoveries. Millennials may have lost interest in both."
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"She was a royalist. In fact, the whole family are royalists," explained a neighbour, after the funeral.
"There are a few people like that in France. It isn't serious in the sense that no one really expects France to become a monarchy again. Some people just admire the British for their royal family. Especially when there are royal marriages. It's a kind of focus for the whole nation. And everyone seems to like the pageantry of it.
"And most people probably imagine a parliamentary system with a king at the head of it... like the Netherlands or Spain. But this family is a little special. They want an absolute monarchy."
"Well, there is something to be said for monarchy", said another person at our table. At least, it is much clearer and more honest. In a democracy, such as we have here in France, you don't really know who's in charge... or what they really want. The voters think they are in charge, but they have no real idea of what is going on. They get tired of one party and they switch to the other. The real deals are made behind the scenes.
"Yes, democracy is a fraud. The voters think they are in charge. But they're not."
"And I don't know if it would be any better if they really were in charge," another friend added. "I mean, just because you can get a majority of dumbbells to vote for something doesn't make it right. Remember that both Hitler and Mussolini began by getting elected.
"I don't even understand the idea of it. I mean theoretically. What gives the majority the right to tell everyone what to do? At least, with a monarch there's a kind of logic to it. The people obey the king. The king obeys God. Good kings were good. Bad kings were bad."
"There's another way in which a king may be better," we volunteered. "The voters, especially old voters, have now realised that they can vote themselves more money – more healthcare and more pension benefits, usually. No candidate for president can tell them the truth – that we can't afford to give them the benefits they're getting now. So, the system just keeps going... until it finally blows up.
"At least, a monarch – who didn't have to face re-election – would be able to do what needs to be done."
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