August 10, 2008

Circular logic

Here's part of my new VDARE.com column:

Trying to think about the causes of the mortgage meltdown is reminiscent of the infinitely recursive children's song Yon Yonson, which was memorably featured in Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five :

"My name is Yon Yonson / I live in Wisconsin / I work in a lumber mill there / The people I meet / When I walk down the street / They ask me my name and I say: / My name is Yon Yonson / I live in Wisconsin..."

Similarly, in trying to explain this decade's socioeconomic logic, you end up with thought processes like this:

Q. Why did we need so many illegal immigrants?
A. To build all those McMansions out in the distant exurbs.
Q. Yes, but why did so many Americans want to move to the exurbs?
A. To escape all the illegal aliens flooding their neighborhoods and schools.
Q. Okay, so then why did we need so many illegal aliens?
A. To build all those McMansions out in the distant exurbs.

Etcetera etcetera ...

Everything just spins around and around, like those chrome wheel rims, those insanely expensive hubcaps that were the signature useless extravagance of this decade. Neely Tucker wrote in the Washington Post in 2005:

"Today rims are a $3.1 billion industry that stands at the revolving heart of two American obsessions: automobiles and finding ever more expensive ways to buy things you already have and don't need."

Some economist should calculate what proportion of all the money spent on blinged-out rims came out of home equity loans taken out on houses bubbling up in nominal value.

Similarly, it's hard for most people to grasp the interrelatedness of multiculturalism and greed in fostering the housing bubble. "Diversity" gave the big guys an excuse for doing what they had always wanted to do: debauch credit standards and take the money and run, leaving the mess to be cleaned up by taxpayers (through direct bailouts) and savers (through Fed-created inflation eating away their capital).

More

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

23 comments:

Bill said...

I saw it years ago. Maybe because I worked in carpentry in high school, when the Mexicans were still the guys who came to pick up your scrap wood at the end of the week. I remember them offering me beer on my lunch break. When I declined, saying I'd rather not work under the influence (running a circular handsaw or using a nailgun drunk is NOT a good idea), they laughed, suggesting it was no big deal to do so.

When I finally got to the point of looking for a house with my then wife a few years ago, the prices were so silly I couldn't believe it -- $350,000 for a small junker in a bad neighborhood? Thankfully, I decided to stick with renting (otherwise I'd be really screwed right now).

It seemed obvious to me that the excess houses were being (cheaply) built by Mexicans, and the demand was being pumped up by immigration as well. Great idea, no?

Well... Not really. What we had before was sustainable. What was forced on us was unnatural growth with no real social or economic foundation. When the houses are built, 20% of reproductive age Mexicans are already in the US and we don't need anymore, then what will the Mexican peasants do? Riot in our cities demanding citizenship and social services? Oh yeah, that's it. Perfect setup.

Just wait and see the cheap, crappy houses they threw up in the last few years start to crumble over the next decade. I've already heard plenty of anecdotal evidence about how poorly built the new houses are. My Norwegian-American boss made us go over every angle with a square and level several times before we set the frame -- no exceptions. Even fence posts had to be as close to perfectly plumb as possible before we would set them in concrete. Somehow, I don't think workers from Chihuahua have been held to such stringent standards.

simon newman said...

"My name is Yon Yonson..."

This is the version I'm familiar with - a Viking rowing song:

"My name is Yon Yonson
I come from Wicca Fjord
When I sail the seas
The people I seize
They ask me my name
And I say..."

(& repeat ad infinitum)

I guess the Wisconsin lumber mill version is a descendant of the original. :)

rightsaidfred said...

Excellent article.

I note the lack of checks and balances in the system, and I think how capure theory in economics pretty well describes the situation.

Anonymous said...

My favourite part of your V-dare article is where you ignore 3 years of wisdom on Calculated Risk to post some random idiot's comment on an August 7th article. A throw-away comment that kind-of supports what you are saying, while ignoring Calculated Risk's commentary (that Syron may be full of shit and trying to CYA). Nevermind the other three years worth of commentary and analysis that blows your "diversity recession" bit out of the water.


Nice little chuckle I had there.

Henry Canaday said...

One cavil, not on perversion of lending standards, but on its effects. I think the best estimates are that the housing crisis by itself chopped 1-1.5% off the annual GDP growth rate, which does not a recession make. Oil, commodity inflation and the declining dollar are responsible for trimming another point or two off growth, including a worsening of the financial and housing crises, since consumers and lenders are affected by any slowdown in real income growth.

I suspect that Fannie and Freddie made some decent allowance for the bad loans and thought they could cover them, if nothing else went wrong. Eventually, something else always goes wrong.

And the something else is still the worst part now. The housing and financial crises are mostly transfers of wealth within the U.S., from taxpayers in general to some creditors and debtors. Oil, commodity inflation and the depreciated dollar are largely transfers of real income to outside the US.

rast said...

I knew this would happen:

Foreign money, which up to now has focused its attention on investing in iconic commercial real estate - like Barneys New York and the Chrysler Building - is now moving to scoop up tens of thousands of discounted foreclosed homes across the country

http://www.nypost.com/seven/08102008/business/lost_sovereignity_123879.htm

The next step will be importing non-Americans to live in those houses.

anonymous_coward said...

I disagree - there are other reasons for people to move to the suburbs. Mexican immigration is a small contributing factor, but hardly the largest one (and practically irrelevant where I live, in the Northeast). Even without illegal immigrants, urban areas are considered crappy places to raise kids - high crime (mainly from 'indigenous' blacks), crappy schools (again), and traffic and pollution. Suburbs, on the other hand, boast better schools (mostly because many conscientious parents move there) and an environment considered more wholesome.

Illegal immigration may put a little more pressure in that direction, but it's hardly a circular argument.

Lucius Vorenus said...

Steve Sailer: Similarly, it's hard for most people to grasp the interrelatedness of multiculturalism and greed in fostering the housing bubble.

It's even harder for people to grasp that we are seeing the collapse of the Caucasian [and Asian] American population bubble:

Caucasian-American Population Distribution

Asian-American Population Distribution

African-American Population Distribution

Hispanic-American Population Distribution

There IS a Caucasian-American Baby Boom bubble, which peaks at about the age of 50, and has a big fall-off after that.

There IS an Asian-American Baby Boom bubble, which peaks at about the age of 35, and has a big fall-off after that.

There is NO African-American Baby Boom bubble - the African American population distribution is fairly flat.

And not only is there NO Hispanic-American Baby Boom bubble, but the Hispanic-American population continues to explode with [at this time] no end in sight.

So the whole idea of "Boomers" and "Baby-Boomer-ness" is utterly foreign to the NAMs - "Baby-Boomer-ism" is a strictly "Stuff White People Like" phenomenon.

Welcome to the Brave New World of double digit IQs in the United States of America.

Reg C├Žsar said...

A real song, by professionals:

Hello, Visconsin
Have you seen my Yonny Yonson?
Won't you tell him his Hilda Honson
yust got offa da boat, by yiminy,
how she vants him!
You'll know Yonny Yonson,
for he's over six feet high.
He'll yump for yoy
when he hears I've come,
oh, my Yonny boy.
Gonna change my name
from Honson,
to Yonson,
so Visconsin, good bye!

Blode said...

Reminds me of the argument for affirmative action. Blacks need affirmative action to succeed, because whitey is dead set on excluding them from jobs and college spots, using dastardly racist arguments like "blacks couldn't succeed without government intervention, including affirmative action".

testing99 said...

Steve, two points:

1. It was the huge spike in oil and food prices, related, akin to the late 1970's oil shocks, that killed the global economy. Housing market did not help, but it's effect was only marginal.

2. Rims and things are signaling devices by young men to young women that they have enough excess wealth and testosterone to be worthy of being chosen.

Like a peacock's feathers. And yes short-term criteria (testosterone, status, etc.) are the basis for female choice in the main now.

Anonymous said...

...then what will the Mexican peasants do? Riot in our cities demanding citizenship and social services? Oh yeah, that's it. Perfect setup.

Oh yeah, don't miss this: Montreal - yes Montreal, Quebec - is now benefitting from the joys of "diversity.":

community leaders say police are harassing too many black and Latino youths with no ties to street gangs and with no criminal record.

Must be the Canadian legacy of slavery...

TGGP said...

I had a similar angle as Steve does here, but taking on more topics I thought were related.

dollmaker said...

In my corner of the east coast, rims were almost exclusively bought by those who couldn't afford to buy a house. In this decade of excess, when everyone white, black and in between was buying a house, if you couldn't, your car became your bling. Thus the spectacle of guys working for peanuts at Best Buy, living with their mother and sisters in an apartment in a vibrant city, and dropping 60K on a tricked out car. Ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh stayin alive, stayin alive...

Anonymous said...

I work at a school in Utah. I'm amazed at how many young Mexican couples (and single mothers) already have at least four kids...

Anonymous said...

Ironic
Fairly big story in Houston: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/5937814.html

First Hispanic policewoman in Houston history was shot and killed as a result of a dispute over rims between her grandsons and another group of young men, who are most likely non-citizens.

Lucius Vorenus said...

Anonymous: I work at a school in Utah. I'm amazed at how many young Mexican couples (and single mothers) already have at least four kids...

He [or, in this instance, she] who makes the babies, makes the future.

Alternately: If you're not busy making babies, then you're busy making the annals of forgotten time.

Of course, the real tragedy here is that the half of American children now who are of third-world ethnicity have IQs so low that they won't leave behind any written record of themselves & their lives - nor would any of their descendants be able to read those records [or think to preserve them, were those records to exist].

This is their future:

The Fabulous Ruins of Detroit

Or here:

Why Havana Had to Die

Or here:

What We Have to Lose

c.o. jones said...

Uh, it's really not illegal aliens per se that people are trying to escape, unless you're using "illegal aliens" as shorthand for "poor, semi-literate mestizo peasants who speak Spanish and drink their cerveza and listen to that godawful ranchera music at ear-splitting volumes."

Legal or illegal makes no difference to me, it's the people and their culture and their habits I don't want in my neighborhood. They could be US permanent residents for all I care, if they're the people I described above, I don't want them anywhere near my home.

nancy drew said...

"Of course, the real tragedy here is that the half of American children now who are of third-world ethnicity have IQs so low that they won't leave behind any written record of themselves & their lives - nor would any of their descendants be able to read those records [or think to preserve them, were those records to exist]."

Alas and alack, LV, they will have to comb through blogs like Vdare & iSteve for the first written records of their new civilization.

But I am curious, you seem to think we will just be consumed by the illiterati without resisting. You don't think there'll be some sort of separatist movement? Also, dialects and pidgins will certainly emerge that will make Standard American English unintelligible to the average world citizen. We can pretty much do our plotting openly as long as we speak monosyllabically. ; )

Lucius Vorenus said...

nancy drew: Alas and alack, LV, they will have to comb through blogs like Vdare & iSteve for the first written records of their new civilization.

No offense, but you're making the mistake of assuming that there will still be a viable power grid a few decades from now, and I'm not nearly that optimistic - unless Steve Sailer figures out a way to carve his work into stone, then his corpus might soon be forgotten, as well.

nancy drew: But I am curious, you seem to think we will just be consumed by the illiterati without resisting. You don't think there'll be some sort of separatist movement? Also, dialects and pidgins will certainly emerge that will make Standard American English unintelligible to the average world citizen. We can pretty much do our plotting openly as long as we speak monosyllabically. ; )

If these sorts of topics interest you, then you should read Spengler, and come join us over at his forum:

Spengler essays, 2004-present

Spengler essays, 2000-2004

Spengler forums

As for my own thinking, the United States will cease to exist [as we knew it] some time around 2020 - maybe a little earlier if Obama wins, maybe a little later if McAmnesty wins - but there's really not much that either of them can do to alter the demographic fundamentals which will necessitate our doom.

I spend a fair amount of time thinking about how the thing will play itself out at that point [Will an Obama-like figure succeed in imposing a totalitarian "solution"? Will there be chaos and all authority lost? Will there be a successful secession movement, or will a Putin-like figure succeed in squashing the secessionists?], and [not to sound like a survivalist kook or anything] I also have started taking some first stabs at trying to imagine what a successful survival strategy might look like for this coming apocalypse.

But, in all likelihood, things are going to get very, very bad before we might be able to see a light at the end of the tunnel, and, quite frankly, the honest truth of the matter is that the demographic numbers are so awful that it's entirely possible that "The Good Guys" won't win this time.

[PS: Not to be a jerk or anything, but did you mean to say "polysyllabically"? Anyway, come join us over at Spengler's. And I really wish that Steve Sailer had a real-time forum where we could get those kinds of exchanges going.]

nancy drew said...

PS: Not to be a jerk or anything, but did you mean to say "polysyllabically"?

Uh, yeah, but I was too lazy to post a correction which is probably how I made the mistake in the first place, that & a nasty headache.

Lucius Vorenus said...

Me: This is their future - The Fabulous Ruins of Detroit

Ironically enough, Matt Drudge was fronting the following story this morning:

Foreclosure fallout: Houses go for a $1
Ron French
The Detroit News
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
detnews.com

LARGER JPEG OF HOUSE

This house at 8111 Traverse in Detroit has been stripped of its siding, plumbing, copper wiring, hot water tank and furnace. Desperate to sell, the bank that owns it has put it up for sale for $1.

In a normal, sane environment, where people with IQs of 100+ are breeding at replacement-level fertility rates, this house shouldn't have had any trouble selling at $150,000, or more.

But in an environment where the IQ 100+ population is in freefall, and is being replaced by people with IQs in the 80s, or even the 70s, these residences suddenly become completely worthless.

Moral of the story being that absent a sustainable/sustaining/sustained [or, God forbid, growing] population of smart people who are creating demand for things, nothing on the supply side of the model has any inherent worth whatsoever.

Think of Bruce Willis, in the post-pandemic 12 Monkeys, wandering around the streets of Philadelphia in his space suit: What buyers are going to bid on the surviving structures in Philadelphia to give them any worth? The lions & bears that Willis encounters in his journeys through the desolate streets?

Where does the demand come from to give value to the supply?

Mark said...

No offense, but you're making the mistake of assuming that there will still be a viable power grid a few decades from now, and I'm not nearly that optimistic

If the power grid goes then the rate of progress will only increase - anything that gets white Americans off their fat asses from in front of the TV screen.