Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Post Turkey Open Thread: Amusing Ourselves to Death

Hope everyone the other side of the pond is slowly recovering from Turkey Torpor. Meanwhile, in Ireland, 100,000 took to the cold Dublin streets to protest against the ECB/IMF cuts being imposed to bailout the Irish Banks.

Don’t know about the US, but the dangers of another round of defaults and property price collapse is imminent in the Emerald Isle; check out Morgan Kelly’s worrying analysis

Money quote below the fold…

Banks have been relying on two dams to block the torrent of defaults – house prices and social stigma – but both have started to crumble alarmingly.

People are going to extraordinary lengths – not paying other bills and borrowing heavily from their parents – to meet mortgage repayments, both out of fear of losing their homes and to avoid the stigma of admitting that they are broke. In a society like ours, where a person’s moral worth is judged – by themselves as much as by others – by the car they drive and the house they own, the idea of admitting that you cannot afford your mortgage is unspeakably shameful.

That will change. The perception growing among borrowers is that while they played by the rules, the banks certainly did not, cynically persuading them into mortgages that they had no hope of affording. Facing a choice between obligations to the banks and to their families – mortgage or food – growing numbers are choosing the latter.

In the last year, America has seen a rising number of “strategic defaults”. People choose to stop repaying their mortgages, realising they can live rent-free in their house for several years before eviction, and then rent a better house for less than the interest on their current mortgage. The prospect of being sued by banks is not credible – the State of Florida allows banks full recourse to the assets of delinquent borrowers just like here, but it has the highest default rate in the US – because there is no point pursuing someone who has no assets.

If one family defaults on its mortgage, they are pariahs: if 200,000 default they are a powerful political constituency. There is no shame in admitting that you too were mauled by the Celtic Tiger after being conned into taking out an unaffordable mortgage, when everyone around you is admitting the same.

Meanwhile, hat tip to Andrew Sullivan’s blog for a wonderful graphic that summarises Neil Postgate’s chilling book Amusing Ourselves to Death where he compares the two dystopias projected over 50 years ago by Orwell in 1984 and Aldous Huxley in Brave New World.

No prizes for guessing who turned out to be the most prophetic


  1. fogiv

    FoxNation website presents Onion piece as actual news.  Readers buy it, of course.  Then they ‘poofed’ it.

    This morning, an article and comment thread related to a piece of satire the site and its readers took seriously, went missing.

    The page was preserved through Google Cache, but the comment thread, which showed dozens of loyal Fox readers reacting to a joke story from The Onion as if it were real, is gone.


    I read it after every election in which Republicans gain a majority anywhere.  

    I think right now Orwell is in the lead for prescience.  The Republicans are definitely masters of doublespeak and, judging by the blank stare pols like Bachman wear when delivering a real whopper, doublethink as well.  They use Twitter for newspeak.  They have giant pictures of Obama with a Hitler moustache as Goldstein.  Glenn Beck plays the role of Big Brother but it used to be Bush.

    For those who haven’t read 1984 lately here’s a short definition of terms:

    Doublespeak – making up a lie and believing it

    Doublethink – making up a lie, believing it and forgetting that you made it up or that you consciously forgot

    newspeak – abbreviated speech using limited vocabulary and buzz words

    Goldstein – the evil enemy who is behind everything bad that happens

    Big Brother – the guy who tells the truth and protects everyone from Goldstein

    The basic premise is that the past is whatever we say it is at the moment.

  3. spacemanspiff

    by ohshush December 3, 2010 6:52 PM EST

    Hillary is either outright lying,

    or Obama-Trons have something heavy on her &

    blackmailing her to oblivion.

    Welcome to Cgicago thugs, eating their own.

    Dirty Politics isn’t the game,IT’S GUTTER POLITICS

    from now on.I hope the Republicans have the cahones to

    fight back.

  4. sricki

    on this subject, but… for the moment I need to show my ignorance because…. It’s tormenting me not to know the artist — maybe I should know, but I don’t — who did that unspeakably brilliant pic just below the fold?

Comments are closed.