Both sexes have to be prepared for the coming huge social turbulance that could test humanity
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Like seasonal migratory birds, thousands of boys and girls of many nationalities flock to the Islands of Malta in the summer to celebrate their youth. Almost empty during the months of winter, a small bay in the northern part of the Island begins to overflow with fresh life. Like arteries, the streets of the bay extend into the nearby Paceville, home to probably the largest concentration of discos, bars and restaurants in the world where boys and girls mix in mostly civilized, joyful and lively atmosphere. For a professional life watcher, like this writer, it is an awaited time to stand in a corner out of the way of youth, watch, and talk to whoever is willing to talk and take notes.
For the fourth year running noticed is the fewer and fewer number of couples. Still holding hands while trying to circle around groups of young Germans and Spaniards almost blocking the beach’s main half circular street, a girlfriend looked feeling special with her boyfriend next to her but she also looked a bit out of sync with the vast majority of the community of other girls. Very few boys and girls were holding hands, and most were talking to each other cordially and listening with apparent interest but the natural warmth radiating from people in love wasn’t there as much as expected.
The young are good at creating groups and life but not economies. Most young people have little money to spare so they spend little and live rough and on snacks. In advance of this early summer migration, girls and boys arrive in the Island looking for food, a place to sleep and work in mostly catering and entertainment services. Many are from east Europe but an increasing number is coming from Italy, especially Sicily, Spain, Portugal, Ukraine and a number of East European countries.
Most will tell you things are tough in their countries. The worst picture given is that of Ukraine, Portugal, Spain and recently Sicily but to a lesser extent. Doors of employment appear to be firmly shut, and millions of Spaniards and Portuguese are looking for employment opportunities in their former colonies. Probably depressed for other reasons as well, one Portuguese girl said, “My country is finished and we don’t trust our politicians because they are corrupt and they don’t care.”
Naturally, the young are worried about the future and Britain’s exit from Europe following a botched campaign to convince voters to remain in Europe did not help. Commitments cost money and money is scarce. In my younger years work was available even before graduating with a university degree, a guaranteed pass to good employment. Boys and girls are still studying but the economies are not improving despite flooding banks with printed money so the hope of finding a good job after completing studies is not strong.
When economies are weak people respond to the weakness in several ways. Tension may rise in families and belt tightening is not infinite, especially for families with kids. Children have the priority in spending, and the older children have to look for an income anyway they can.
For those active in prostitution, pornography and escort services the economic hardship is a great opportunity to recruit the freshest and most beautiful girls to feed an insatiable demand for sex by millions of rich men eager to expand their portfolio of girls and a greater number looking to satisfy what some men consider “a need”.
Like always, parts of the world are growing. Other parts are stagnant and still more parts are suffering in varying degrees. The 2008 crisis was unlike any other before it. On the eve of the crises probably a third of the world economy turned out to be an illusion created by some of the world’s largest banks, hedge funds and financial gurus. Investment paper, based largely on property debt and other inestimable assets should have been neither offered for sale nor bought. Governments wanted a boom and they looked aside and pretended nothing wrong was going on. It took a while but they got the boom they were waiting for but it was not the kind of boom they hoped for. For many years now, the world economy was addicted to bubbles so another bubble was allowed to inflate itself beyond control. Now it is deflation big time and not many are sure of the best way forward.
When the anticipated burst arrived, the guilty and the not so guilty financial institutions were rocked to their very foundations. Instead of allowing capitalism to take over and surgically remove the weak and hand their hulks to the strong, Western governments decided the world is facing a total economic collapse of catastrophic proportion. Unprecedented in the entire 5,000-year history of money, vast sums of peoples’ money were used to bail out the financial sector. The wisdom was that the help is temporary and will be collected when things improve.
After 10 years of mad money printing, the major economies are still hoping to recover but the opportunity to grow fast enough to compensate for the lean years is nowhere to be seen. When economies stagnate, printed money stagnates with it. Usually real money is expected to create velocity. You buy something, the shop owner uses the money to buy something else, those receiving the money buy something else and so on. A Dollar or a Euro can be circulated 10 or more times a day, 3,650 times a year. For the economy, a single Dollar or Euro, theoretically, multiplies 3,650 times.
The USA is the only capitalist country left in the world but this is changing as well. Americans understand what the economy is all about. If people have money in their pockets they spend and create jobs. If they are heavily taxed, like all Europeans with their socialist economic systems, available spending money is reduced and economies weaken.
It would be a great idea for governments to send each family a money printing machine for Christmas but money will become worthless. Governments may not want to admit it publicly but the next crisis is a currency crisis considering that we already had an economic crisis and a monetary crisis.
Stagflation used to be considered a serious risk but probably not anymore. Most countries are going Japan’s way into deflation driven by people who are neither certain of the future nor interested in taking loans to finance spending on unnecessary items. Prices of food may be rising but the price of big-ticket items is either stagnant or falling. Deflation can be good for consumers and bad for governments because taxation revenues shrink. As the Japanese have discovered, once the consumer is used to low prices, it is low prices they insist on all the time.
*Price of money*
There are a number of basic foundations of capitalism one of which is the price of money, or the level of interest that should be paid for borrowing. Governments today have full control of the price of money through interest rates which are practically zero or close to it. Future interest rates and the pricing of government bonds are telling us interest rates will remain low for a very long time. Low interest rates help people in debt but cripple the savers who have less to spend.
Money printing will continue. There is no other way to fill the gap created by lower collection of tax. So far it seems to be working. However, cost cutting is limited and most Europeans are fully taxed. If their tax burden is increased the economies will weaken further because less money will be spent in the high streets. The worry is that governments will find themselves forced to print more money. At one point something has to give in and probably we don’t want to know which economic leg will collapse, and what is the likely impact on the overall economies. What may be said is that capitalism as we historically know is either over or on its way to oblivion. One must be optimistic all the time but it looks likely that no country in the West is coming out of this economic weakness soon.
One can read dozens of good articles and reach the same conclusion. A simpler way is to look at the faces of the young as they parade themselves in the tourist streets of Malta. The detachment is obvious. Relations need commitment and commitment is sustained by money otherwise it becomes a burden and both sexes have to find their own financial ways.
My son and I order restaurant food frequently. Meals are delivered by car or bike mostly driven by non-Maltese, and in all cases by mostly young men. It was therefore a surprise to find a girl waiting at the gate to deliver and collect payment. Malta is a very safe place but it was a surprise. More and more girls are ready to compete. As they do they become more financially independent, and many may want to continue to be independent beyond the time considered until recently proper to get married and settle down.
My mum needed my dad’s money and both understood that a state of mutual dependability is good for the family. Things have changed. Women remain mums but more of their children are born outside marriage. The proportion of live births outside marriage in the EU-28 in 2012 was 40 % and it is increasing. Social experts believe new patterns are forming alongside the traditional pattern of children being welcomed by dads and mums together.
“They don’t need us anymore,” a close friend said as he viewed a petition notifying him of the date and time of meeting with a government mediator to discuss divorce settlement, “and I am beginning to feel we don’t each other. Both of us come home late. We barely have enough time to cook something, eat, do the essential house work and sleep. It is like this,” he said, “every day of the week. Even sex has become a burden for both of us.”
Statistics can help in determining patterns but each social circle is different from the other. Mine, a fairly large circle, is suffering.
The time when husbands accompanied by their wives was the norm is getting shorter. There are of reasons why Donald Trump won and Hillary Clinton lost. IOne reason little noticed is the fear of men their command of society is weakening and they may eventually lose. The cry for the solidarity of men may have been prompted by persistent calls by Ms Clinton that what she wants for women is limited to the USA but to the entire world.
Image credit: Sunrise House