First off, I welcome our new president. But in addition to that, I urge everyone else to immediately start scaling back your expectations. My own expectations are not terribly high. I expect Barack Obama to try to do what he believes is right, to make some good choices and make some bad choices, and that, because of his government centric mindset, some of those choices will turn out far worse than he expects. But many, many Americans believe Obama is the second coming of Kennedy-the-myth (not Kennedy-the-man). They are expecting Camelot all over again, magic wand waving and a restoration of prosperity with no real pain. It is these people who are going to become the most disappointed and most disillusioned of all.
Barack Obama, be he saint or devil, did not create this mess but he is surely going to be blamed for a large part of it as it unfolds. This is inherently unfair but it's how things work. Carter created the recession of 1979-1982 but Reagan got blamed.
While the media swoons over the Obama presidency, in the worst case scenario, he may be about to face multiple tests in the near term. The first and most immediate domestic test will be California suspending welfare payments on February 1, if they carry through with that threat. His other tests are likely to be external and involve the Middle East. Gaza remains a problem, as does our relationship to Iran, and our slowly souring relationship with Pakistan.
In the longer term, he is probably looking at several hundred thousand jobs lost per month over the first year of his presidency. The upper bound currently looks like it may be around 6 million jobs lost for 2009 but that's the upper bound. A more reasonable estimate might be in the 2.5-4 million range. Interestingly, that's the number of jobs he claims he can "create" in one year via government edict. Sorry, Mr. President, but I don't buy that line. It smacks too much of wishful thinking to me.
Additionally, several of our European neighbors are facing bankruptcy, or the practical effects of that even if they don't formally declare it. The British pound and the Euro are both falling hard lately, with the pound leading the way amid open discussions of British defaults. There is rioting in Iceland, Ireland, and Latvia over politicians and bankers and failing economies. Those losses and the civil unrest that accompanies them are not far from the front doors of North America. And yes, I include the smug Canadians in this. The proverbial crap is close to hitting the proverbial fan.
Time is already running out for a president just sworn in, through no fault of his own but rather because of the size of the mess bearing down upon him. Over at TAE, Ilargi yesterday suggested that Obama may be The Shortest President ever. Unstated by Ilargi is the corollary that Obama may be the last US president as this nation dissolves in financial ruin.
As for me and mine, I have gates to repair, garden plots to clean up, and seeds to begin sprouting for planting in 6-8 weeks. The world is not going to stop revolving but many human institutions may stop functioning. If you're still not prepared, I strongly urge you to wander over to SurvivalBlog. Begin reading the archives and implementing as many pieces as you can while you can. All of our choices are becoming more constrained with each passing day.
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