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GRANNY GET YOUR GUN; A MUSICAL

I have just finished the libretto of a new musical that I expect is a sure Tony Award winner. It's about a little old lady from New Jersey who goes on a nationwide crime spree to get money for her high blood pressure medicine. I call it; "Granny get Your Gun." Not being musically inclined, I have borrowed the music from the Broadway hit, "Annie get Your Gun." And, I am just hoping that no one notices this minor plagerism on my part. The show will open off-off-off Broadway. Actually, I have secured a month-to-month lease on the Opera House in North Platte, Nebraska, and auditions will be announced soon. As a teaser, I offer the following preview from Act II, Scene xvi: Scenario: A convenience store in a small town, off an I-70 exit in Kansas, about 11:00pm on a Friday night. The store clerk is a middle age man with a swarthy complexion, possibly Middle Eastern. He has just finished selling a 12 pack of beer to a couple of high school boys, whose underage girlfriends are giggling by the magazine rack. An elderly lady enters the store and pretends to be looking for something on the over-the-counter drugs shelve: CLERK: OK, kids, have fun and drive careful! BOYS: (in mock unison) Don't worry, we always do! CLERK: (to Granny), May I help you madame? Are you finding everything OK? GRANNY: Yes, Thank You. But, I seem to have forgotten why I came in here. (Granny walks over to the clerk, who is standing next to the cash register) GRANNY: (pulling a sawed-off shotgun from under her coat) Oh yea, now I remember!! This is a stick up! Reach for the Sky, Omar, unless you wanna see your liver draped over the Slurpy machine! CLERK: Please, old lady, I have a wife and seven children in Pakistan! I just bought this store, and I still owe my uncle $1.2 million dollars, plus interest for it. Don't shoot me, please! Please! GRANNY: Cut the twaddle, Gupta! I'm in no mood to listen to you right now! My blood pressure is about 220/350, and my ears are ringing something awful. CLERK: Yes, I see your nose seems to be bleeding too! GRANNY: Just fill the bag with money, Jose! Unless you want your sweetbreads hanging from the ceiling! I'm getting dizzy already! CLERK: Please, granny, what brought you to this lowly status of a highway robber? GRANNY: Well, Osama, I was waiting for Dubya and the Congress to pass the prescription drug benefit that they promised to us seniors, and finally, I just couldn't wait anymore. I can't afford food, if I buy my prescriptions, and the rent, taxes and insurance are taking all of my pension, and then some. In short, I'm just desperate! CLERK: Ok, Ok, I see your point. Here's the bag of money. Please don't shoot me, Granny. (Granny takes the bag and heads for the door) CLERK: Watch you step in the parking lot, Granny, there are a few uneven spots out there. GRANNY: Yea, Yea, just keep your hands were I can see them. And, no funny business, unless you want enough buckshot in your ass to set off the metal detectors at the airport! CLERK: Ok, Ok! GRANNY: Hey, Omar, where the nearest all night Drug Store in this town? CLERK: (Begins to sing a peppy rendition of "Granny get your Gun." Both Granny and the Clerk dance around the store a couple of times). EXIT GRANNY (quickly). CURTAIN.




PRODUCTIVITY: A FALSE GOD!

Is productivity a false god? If it is, we are in big trouble, because Greenspan and Wall Street have been worshiping at the Alter of Productivity for decades! And, of course, making "human sacrifices" in the form of WORKERS! AND EMPLOYEES! As plants are closed, and "head count" reduced. Consider: Productivity is generally defined as: MORE OUTPUT PER UNIT OF INPUT. Right? BECAUSE; If you can produce more product, cheaper, you beat your competition. But, what if EVERYBODY IS DOING THE SAME THING?? Then what? Well, that just produces GLUT! But, don't take my word for it, just ask Michael Dell, or any other "box maker." Here's the problem: Productivity works at the mirco-economic, (ie the firm), level, but NOT at the Macro-economic level. AND CERTAINLY NOT AT THE GLOBAL ECONOMIC LEVEL!! As we are now saddly learning! The paradox is that EVERY WORKER IS ALSO A CONSUMER! So, if you're turning out product with slave labor and high technology, and EVERYONE else IN THE ENTIRE WORLD is ALSO doing the same thing? Well, then it's a RACE TO THE BANKRUPTCY COURT! (Just ask Kmart). So, when the US tells Germany and Japan they have to lay off more workers, and ship their production to China to be "competitive." Well,....nauturally they refuse. Why? Because; Euroland recognizes that THE ECONOMY IS A SOCIAL INSTITUTION, AS WELL AS AN ECONOMIC INSTITUTION. Carried to it's ultimate limit the AMERICAN ECONOMIC MODEL will produce a MEDIEVEL ECONOMY. A FEW RICH, AND MANY, MANY POOR! Of course, we see a little "medievelism" in Latin American Economies today. SO IS PRODUCTIVITY A FALSE GOD? I THINK IT IS. AND, EVERYDAY NOW THE PAGANS ON WALL STREET ARE STARTING TO SEE THE CONSEQUENCES OF THEIR ECONOMIC HERESY! The above idea is not that unusual. It's really in the same catagory as: If one asprin is good, then 10 asprin must be better. A little productivity may indeed be good, but a lot....? SPELLS DISASTER! You would think that the powers that be would see this. But, they don't. Why? Because, they are thinking with THEIR WALLETS AND NOT WITH THEIR HEADS!


TO HELL IN A HAND BASKET

Well, the world is going to hell in a hand basket. I know. I read the Drudge Report. Consider: Dubya and Chums seem intent on aggravating the entire world. There is a new fight with China over Taiwan. The Russians are piss off about new spying allegations. And, Sharon is the new poster boy for anti-semetism in Euroland. The Mid East is plunging toward War. And, Saddam is now the most popular guy in the "Arab Street." So, faced with all this, Dubya comes out against cloning! Maybe I missed something. But, with the world going to Hell in the aforesaid Hand Basket....somehow, cloning was not at the top of my list of things to worry about! Additionally, if the Right to Lifers are so concerned about preserving life, they should start work on the prescription drug benefit they promised to seniors during the last election. And, something has to be done about the high cost of health insurance for businesses and individuals, 40 million of whom are now UNINSURED!! PERHAPS DUBYA SHOULD HAVE HIS SPEECH WRITER TACKLE THESE ISSUES NEXT? Ya think?



HYPE IN PLACE...BUT?

The hype is in place....but can the market deliver? I don't remember seeing so much Street Hype in place at one time. Even Greenspan is driving the bandwagon now! Still, there are a lot of unknowns. For example, the so-called retailing rebound by consumers. American consumers now shop 24/7/365. Still there has been a move by consumers to look for bargains in January. And, Christmas shopping has not been what it once was. So, a lot of shoppers save their money until the January Sales. And, the sales are usually at very, very deep discounts. Thus, people may be buying winter clothes in spring at 80% off. But, will they buy spring clothes in spring AT FULL PRICE? More than likely they will wait again for the sales at start! One can not help feeling that the MIRACLE RECOVERY is in some way not quite real. It has been declared, pontificated about, legislated and annointed. But, somehow it doesn't quite pass the smell test. Saddly, I expect Greenspan to start backtracking, in his usual way, from his joyous scenario outlined recently to Congress. Probably blaming "unforeseen circumstances" and "unique influences" for market "disequilibria" that have caused the upturn to be "tentative," and lacking in "confirmation" in the "underlying data," due to "global disinflationary impulses"......... Postscript: I am available to write speeches for Central Bankers, CEOs and others, and I am willing to work on a "per word" basis. (ie "cheap."). So, if you're looking for unintelligible technical-sounding yada- yada, and mumbo-jumbo, I'm your guy!



911 + 6

What has been accomplished in the last six months? Is the US more or less likely to be the victim of another terror attack? What can we say for sure since 911? Clearly, Afghanistan was not really TERRORIST CENTRAL as advertised. No, flight simulators. No atomic or biological research labs. Just a bunch of shoeless poppy farmers, and the war lords who protected them. And of course, the "Afgahn Hillbillies," a/k/a The Taliban. The so-called "Terrorist Training Camps" were really just a kind of "boy scout camp" for misguided "Jihadi" from all over the Muslim world. True, they were Boy Scouts from Hell! But, still not exactly the kind of people likely to be master-minding anything too "high tech." Because; For many Muslims "Jihad" was sort of like Christians "going on a mission." It was really a kind of "rite of passage" for many. Or, at least in was until recently. The Israeli/Palestinian situation, and 911 may have changed all of that. Still, I fear our "friends" in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia more that I fear illiterate Afgan poppy farmers. As I've said before, if more trouble comes, it will likely come from the wealthy and well educated Islamists, not the poor hill people of Afganistan, or even Pakistan.



YAHOO GROUPS ARE JUST GREAT!

It appears that Yahoo has made the transition form clubs to groups with minimum problems. The posting servers are working fine. And, you should have no trouble getting you posts on-line in close to real time. All Gloom and Doom Members can return to the club with the assurance that they will recieve the best gloom and the best doom on the Web 24/7/365. And remember imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. But, you don't have time for that! Welcome back!



GREENSPANS UNIQUE INFLUENCES

What are Mr. G's "unique influeneces" that he keeps talking about? Perhaps, his 11 panicked rate cuts in 2001 that brought interest rates down to 40 year lows? Perhaps the MASSIVE LIQUIDITY that was stuffed into the system to support the stock market? Perhaps, that at the bottom of the "recession" P/Es where at levels normally seen at the tops of bull markets? NOW THAT'S UNIQUE! Perhaps, all the "proforma earnings" ie funny accounting that's going on. Perhaps, the fact that while Mr G lowered rates the Bond Market raised them. And, after Mr. G cheerful testimony yesterday the Bond market all but collapsed! Perhaps, the public has a bit of POST BUBBLE menality to work through. Perhaps, the US economy has been really recovering from 911, and not the recessionary downturn that PRECEEDED the tragedy? Perhaps THAT downturn is STRUCTRUAL, AND STILL IN PLACE, as many CEOs are thinking? Perhaps the economists have got their "models" in a knot? What with all of these other "unique influences" going on? PERHAPS WE ARE STILL IN A BUBBLE, ONLY NOW IT'S A DIFFERENT KIND OF BUBBLE? YA THINK?



LOGARITHIMS DON'T LIE

Yesterday's WSJ

has a page C1 article showing a logarithmic chart of the Dow from 1974 to present. The chart is being touted as showing that the recent volitility is a sign of a market bottom. But, the chart also shows that the Dow rested at 1000 and seemly now at 10,000 for a long period of time. The run up from 1982 to 1999 was rapid. But if Dow 10,000 proves as much of a barrier as Dow 1000; WE COULD BE TREADING WATER FOR A DECADE OR MORE! And if the current War on Islam is anything like LBJ's VietNam War with it's deficit spending and damage to the Dollar; THAT IS CLEARLY WHERE THIS THING IS HEADING! LOGARITHIMS DONT LIE. AND, NEITHER DOES HISTORY!


THE COMING CRISIS ON WALL STREET


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CAN STEEL SURVIVE? NO!

Can American Steel companies survive in an environment where they have to pay for retiree health care and pensions? I say NO! And, the Bush Tariff is just another hypocritical move to speed up the ultimate DE-INDUSTRIALIZATION of the US economy. Most civilized nations have and have had a National Health Insurance program in place for decades. NOT THE UNITED STATES. In the US tens of millions are uninsured or are going bankrupt either buying health insurance or paying medical bills. Additionally, Corporations and HMOs are cutting coverage like mad. Who would not take the Canadian Plan or the Britsh Plan RATHER THAN HAVE NO COVERAGE AT ALL. American Multinational Corporations now control the agenda. And, don't be fooled by the Congressional Praddle about Enron. It will result in nothing that helps the American Worker. The American worker is being asked to work like a Chinaman and die in the harness in the name of profits and productivity. Hopefully American workers will wake up for the 2002 election and tell Congress:NO MORE DE-INDUSTRIALIZATION WITHOUT SOME BENEFIT TO THE WORKING AND MIDDLE CLASS. Can Steel Survive? NO! And, under the current system niether can the American Working and Middle Class.



EDUCATION NO HELP THIS TIME?

Can education help during a recession? According to the NYT Economic Scene article today, maybe. What has happen is that during the early phases of recession the more educated lose their jobs. And, during the later phases the less educated lose their jobs. But what's really happening? Late in a recession you can get college graduates to mow your lawn, so why hire an uneducated recent immigrant! The US is probably the most OVER-EDUCATED country in the world. The amount of under-employment is never really reported in the media although I suspect that people out in the real world can feel it. I suspect that there will be a "glut" of IT workers very very soon. As the US economy continues its decent into being a LOW WAGE, LOW SKILL ECONOMY. There is a glut of PhDs in the US that is only RARELY even discussed, as the public is duped into the "education cures all" approach to thier problems. All of this is, of course, courtesy of the CONGRESSIONAL EDUCATION LOBBY! The sad fact is that even a top-notch US bred and trained software engineer can not compete on wages and benefits with his or her counterpart in India or China or Russia. Education is a sham being pushed on an unsuspecting public. True, it is "better" to be educated than uneducated as those "lawn mowing jobs" become increasingly scarce! BUT IN THE LONG RUN; EDUCATION IS NO HELP THIS TIME!

REFLEXES TESTED

Are the nerves dead? Or, does the Bull Market still have it's basic "gag reflex" intact? Today's action smacks of an attempt by the market masters to "right" the market. Sort of like a gyroscope rights itself. Call it an oversold condition. Call it bargain hunting, (a sorry term, indeed, in this over-valuation environment). Or call it "buying the dip." Whatever; The facts are that the facts are HORRIBLE. Forget the accounting debacle; Now it's looking like the markets themselves have been acting as one BIG BOILER ROOM OPERATION. Today's WSJ has an article about the "oversight" that investors expect from the markets, the NYSE and the NASDAQ. Is it lacking? I mean, when you buy a stock that is LISTED on a major exchange you sort of assume that "somebody" has checked to make sure it was a REAL company, with REAL books, and hopefully, REAL cash flow. WELL, NOT SO FAST! That assumption may not be totally accurate. It seems that the interests of the exchanges, and the interests of investors may not be one and the same. Need Proof? One word: ENRON! But, that's just the elephant in the china shop. There are lots of smaller vermin out there that haven't been caught yet. SO, THE BULL MAY BE BREATHING, (ie, oxygenating tissue); BUT, IS IT ACTUALLY "BRAIN DEAD?" These little "reflex tests" are interesting, but they tell us nothing really, because the real issue is: CAN THE BULL RECOVER? (And, of course, the the Bull's quality of life issues are tied to the quality of earnings issues). OR, IS THE CONDITION NOW: "CRITICAL." Postscript: Kudos to the Gold Gnomes! Nice job overnight. Ultimately futile, but still very "workman-like." http://www.thestreet.com/markets/aarontaskfree/10019943.html

HYPE IN PLACE...BUT?

The hype is in place....but can the market deliver? I don't remember seeing so much Street Hype in place at one time. Even Greenspan is driving the bandwagon now! Still, there are a lot of unknowns. For example, the so-called retailing rebound by consumers. American consumers now shop 24/7/365. Still there has been a move by consumers to look for bargains in January. And, Christmas shopping has not been what it once was. So, a lot of shoppers save their money until the January Sales. And, the sales are usually at very, very deep discounts. Thus, people may be buying winter clothes in spring at 80% off. But, will they buy spring clothes in spring AT FULL PRICE? More than likely they will wait again for the sales at start! One can not help feeling that the MIRACLE RECOVERY is in some way not quite real. It has been declared, pontificated about, legislated and annointed. But, somehow it doesn't quite pass the smell test. Saddly, I expect Greenspan to start backtracking, in his usual way, from his joyous scenario outlined recently to Congress. Probably blaming "unforeseen circumstances" and "unique influences" for market "disequilibria" that have caused the upturn to be "tentative," and lacking in "confirmation" in the "underlying data," due to "global disinflationary impulses"......... Postscript: I am available to write speeches for Central Bankers, CEOs and others, and I am willing to work on a "per word" basis. (ie "cheap."). So, if you're looking for unintelligible technical-sounding yada- yada, and mumbo-jumbo, I'm your guy!

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