Real Life is Not Spin Art

The authorities keep emphasizing that the nurse who caught ebola from Thomas Eric Duncan was sealed in her haz-mat suit the whole time she cared for the poor fellow and blah blah nobody knows how she could possibly catch the darn thing…. But the newspapers and cable news networks are not asking: What about all the people, ordinary civilians, that this nurse was consorting with off-work, after she took off her haz-mat suit and, let’s say, at some point stopped by the Kroger Store’s fabulous steam table display of take-out goodies behind the helpful and reassuring sneeze-guard on her way back home? It sounds like a new Netflix drama – The Fatal Mac and Cheese.

If one more person in that chain of circumstance falls ill, Rick Perry will have to ring-fence Dallas faster than you can say Guadalupe Hidalgo and then we’ll be off to the quarantine races in America. It will be interesting to see who’s shorting the airline stocks a few hours from now. I’ve got to pass through Dulles airport tomorrow myself, and then two more foreign hubs after that, and return to freakin’ Newark International at the end of the week when a fullblown ebola panic may be underway.

For the moment, I’m in Washington for a conference on population and immigration. Believe it or not there are some people who want to have an honest national conversation about these issues amid all the disingenuous chatter about “dreamers” emanating from the Oval Office in this miserable era of politics-as-spin-art. And along comes the galvanizing event of a really serious disease to finally force the issue. Nothing concentrates a nation’s attention like the specter of the people next door bleeding out through their ears and noses.

Welcome to the diminishing returns of the global economy. They’ve been there all along, but none previously were sufficiently vivid or horrifying as ebola. The Chinese FoxConn workers throwing themselves out the factory windows in despair just seemed like some kind of fraternity prank in comparison. Now something has got loose from the Heart of Darkness like the hissing beastie that burst out of John Hurt’s ribcage in Alien and water-skied out of the sick bay into the bowels of the cargo ship Nostromo. Sometimes a metaphor is just a figure of speech and sometimes it’s liable to set your hair on fire.

The ebola melodrama has all the mojo to set the global economy’s hair on fire. And it comes along at a very strange time: just as central bank hoodoo approaches the brink of its own epic fail – as in, accounting fraud, check-kiting, and public relations can only work as a place-holder for authentic economic relations for so long before the ominous shadow of reality sweeps in on black swan wings. The markets were already well into the puking stage of their own hemorrhagic contagion last week. Maybe today the S & P starts bleeding from its eyes and ears this week.

There’s certainly blood all over the overburdened back roads of the Bakken play all of a sudden, where $88-a-barrel shale oil doesn’t even allow you to pretend that you’ve got a profitable venture going. The shale oil fairy tale has been at the center of a matrix of lies America has been telling itself about its economic meth buzz. Saudi America and all that malarkey, all in the service of America’s master wish of all wishes: please Lord, let us keep driving to Wal Mart forever.

Speaking of dreams and dreamers, that was a pretty shabby one. But here we are now up against one of the master facts of the day: our world faces epic, desperate demographic shifts as regions of it are proving to be very unfriendly to human habitation. How long do we pretend that all the refugees are welcome to come here, bleeding from their eyes and noses, as their dreams of laying sod for $6-an-hour or slaughtering chickens for the greater glory of Colonel Sanders collide with the diminishing returns of yet another Elon Musk sales pitch for the blessed denizens of Palo Alto aspiring to Godhood. I, for one, doubt that there’s enough room for all of us in that much dreamed-of for-profit spacecraft soon to carry us to worlds where the black swan’s wings have never cast a shadow.

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David Stockman's Contra Corner is the only place where mainstream delusions and cant about the Warfare State, the Bailout State, Bubble Finance and Beltway Banditry are ripped, refuted and rebuked. Subscribe now to receive David Stockman’s latest posts by email each day as well as his model portfolio, Lee Adler’s Daily Data Dive and David’s personally curated insights and analysis from leading contrarian thinkers.

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