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The Robber Barons Are Back -- Hide Your Money!

The Dow's at 10,000, and the bankers are reaping huge bonuses, but the economy in which the rest of us live is a disaster.

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Bank of America is under investigation by the Justice Department. Presumed economic sages as different as the jocular doom prophet Marc Faber and activist investor Carl Icahn are arguing that collapse, disaster and chaos are on the docket.

But don't take my word for it, or theirs. Pop the champagne on a lame Dow Jones lap around 10,000 and keep telling yourself that it's going to be fine.

The human race has experienced this devaluation of empire many times before, and it has usually failed to wake up when it mattered most. The American people have lived on a steady diet of hyperreal debt securitization, excessive consumption and currency devaluation for decades now, and they've yet to snap out of their American Idol fantasy. (Or is that American Idle ?)

When they finally do, they could find that the America they knew has come and gone, and that a new world economic order has sprung up around them in red shoots instead of green.

By the time their blurred eyes read U.K. economist Sir Nicholas Stern's 2006 report asserting that climate change will downsize the global economy by 20 percent more -- or perhaps wipe us out altogether, others worry -- they'll be ready to go right back to sleep.

This time, in the fetal position, aghast at the power of words to reshape reality.

Scott Thill runs the online mag His writing has appeared on Salon, XLR8R, All Music Guide, Wired and others.

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