This is your brain on Fox News

At a family dinner the other night, the subject of the protests against austerity measures in Greece and elsewhere was brought up.  The person who brought it up predicted that a worldwide depression was going to happen soon because “the Greeks are going to default on their debts and drag the rest of us down with them.”  He went on to inform the captive audience at the dinner table that the reason for this unmanageable level of debt is that the Greeks (and other Europeans) want all kinds of free handouts from the government but are “too lazy” to work more than 30 hours a week.  He then began to mock the mandated 30-hour work week in some countries:

Imaginary worker who just can’t get enough of toiling away for the boss-man: “But I want to work more.”

Boss-man: “Nope, sorry, you’re only allowed to work 30 hours.”

This little bit of fantasy theater was followed by a tedious paean to the glorious American work ethic, which is what has allowed us to stay “ahead” of all those latte-sipping Euro-bums all these years.

Somebody, perhaps sensing that they were being fed a pre-fab line of bullshit, said, “Is it because they’re lazy, or is it something else?”

“Oh, it’s because they’re lazy,” the instigator (and his wife) shot right back.

At this point I had to chime in: “Who wants to work 40 hours a week?  I don’t.  And who decided that we have to work 40 hours anyway?  It wasn’t the workers.”

The conversation more or less fizzled out after that, but it occurred to me later (of course) that what I should have asked was: “It wouldn’t by any chance have anything to do with the banker-thieves crashing the financial system with their pyramid schemes, would it?”  But then again, maybe it was better to not ruin the simplistic “narrative” that it’s us against the lazy Greeks, and that Wall St. isn’t giving us the shaft, too.

Our Standards are Poor

Much ado about S&P downgrading the United States’ credit rating.  Woo boy.  This might even rival the great debt ceiling debate in terms of sheer edge-of-the-seat excitement.  Apparently some of our friends in congress are wondering if S&P’s ratings are really credible, though, oddly enough, they didn’t think to question them when they were greasing the skids on the global housing Ponzi scheme.  And Obomber is apparently outraged, insisting that the USA is and “always will be a triple-A country,” like a 4.0 student refusing to accept the B+ he got on the math quiz.  But the best is the question of whether S&P could be wrong again.  Doesn’t “wrong” imply some kind of good-faith effort gone awry, as in, “Well, you see, we tried our best to put an honest rating on all of that worthless paper, but, oh well, we were just wrong”?  S&P was “wrong” about those mortgage backed securities the same way the CIA was “wrong” about the ever-elusive WMDs in Iraq.  The ratings just reflect what their clients on Wall Street want.  So the only question is what do the bankers want?  A little more “quantitative easing,” perhaps?  An even more compliant congress?  What?