Notes From Across The Pond by Mike Mantalos

While the southern hemisphere rejoices in the wave harvest of winter, the northern hemisphere suffers a summer of discontent.

Two decent south swells have punctuated 3 months of flat. “June Gloom” has extended into August and the water temperatures hover 10 degrees below normal. Balmy summer nights can be counted on one hand and this desert we call Southern California has seen consistent light rain.

Itʼs almost as if Nature is reflecting the populace mood.

The garish spectacle of commerce concluded over the weekend and as most sales campaigns do, painted a cheery face on a sad pig. The US Open by Nike is memory now and the sun goes back into hiding. Huntington easily returns into being barely surfable. The proʼs relocate to Lowers and the magazines follow the scent of money.

This great next economic depression suffocates what was the American spirit. Less air travel opportunities equals more “stay-cations” to local beaches. Masses arrive seaside to find less than they have before.

Is this predicament a symptom of national entitlement or failing to recognize the unsustainable? Was easy money really hiding within everyoneʼs homes? Were loans really available to anyone with a signature? A society of credit (equity) gorged on the trough of consumption and awoke each day more insatiable. Like all drugs, the buzz never lasted and this “high” was fronted to the addicts. Nothing like paying for yesterdays party to kill a mood and the reality of interest is sobering.

As the ball of fiscal responsibility gains speed, business greed consolidates the available liquidity…. which in most cases requires a downsizing of the one expendable aspect of their commerce, labor. Itʼs like a perfect storm of economic distress. Reported unemployment is admitted to be 12%, but considering the long term underemployment and the quickly forgotten demographics of last years unemployed easily doubles that figure. You see, we only count those who applied for unemployment benefits, not those to whom those benefits have expired.

A summer of good surf would soften the blow for many surfers. Maybe the yang of winter will. I guess we can always “hope”… now that we understand that the word “change” means more of the same.

Nationally, a foreign corporation polluted an entire ecosystem and controlled not only the media attention, but also has been gifted the honor of investigating itself.

Citizens United, an ironic term, now allows money to own “democracy”. Few cried the decision, few even noticed.

Our first election cycle since the landmark decision is playing the national theatre in November. A curious collection of actors are auditioning the governance parts.

In California, a former CEO spends 91 million dollars of her own money to occupy a job paying less than two hundred thousand. Why?

About a dozen similar situations play out rather transparently, a window into our future.

Why bribe politicians through proxy lobbyists when you can directly buy public office? Organized money found their summer enabled by our “Citizens United”. Business wins again and now even those sycophant lobbyists have only so long before they too will be unemployed.

Back at home, an enormous festival that once was a surf contest concludes in a city that prides itself as “Surf City”. If that moniker means cheap whore, then yes, it deserves the designation. If only the surf was good, but it doesnʼt matter because the “media” will deliver only good news.

Just 5 miles south of that blessed pier lies further evidence in the decline of American civilization. An archaic sewage treatment plant stands sentry over several million toilets flushing each morning. Often, an “electrical short” is floated as the reason surfers wake up to find beach closures signs planted before dawn. Sometimes, the sentry has to let a few gallons loose untreated… by accident. The state blames the city who blames the state who blames the city.

Downtown, no one really cares about surfing, just the Surf City hook. Advertising trumps reality and Nike cashes in.

10 years ago, a Texas Corporation manipulated energy and framed an inept governor and installed his replacement, a “Terminator”. Orange County even paid exhaustively to furnish the Texas Corporation with the energy that was held hostage from the county that produced it. I know that might be hard to read, but itʼs true. Few voices objected.

The warning sirens have been blaring for decades. The bills have become due. A sleepy population crave the liquidity of their past as they shirk the payments of their future.

Incarceration is now a better funded institution than education… even as we celebrated our global superiority early in July. The irony never sleeps.

As the hangover of gross consumption palls over an upside down society, itʼs surfers find less surf than work. At least the tourists will arrive needing warmer clothing and retailers see a glimpse of the precious sunshine that this summer has so far conserved.

One can only hope that our sheeple wake up and vote against money, but weʼve never really been able to see beyond our own financial ambitions or connect easily discerned dots.

And those of us who can, wake up to south winds and little surf.

A lesson to learn Australia.

– Mike Mantalos

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