But on two occasions roughly a week apart, I saw arguments between riders flare up that almost came to blows, both times as they were waiting to get on the boat. The arguments were entirely trivial -- one was a disagreement over a place in line; the other was even less substantial.
On the highways in New Jersey, we've noticed an increase in driver aggression, road rage, tailgating, honking. In one incident, my wife's car was hit by a truck in a slow-motion accident as its driver angrily tried to force his way in front of her in a traffic jam, unwilling to wait his turn. Again, the motive is silly; the anger, not.
People are tense.
That tension is causing us to second-guess normal spending habits. Consumer confidence fell more during the first week of October than during any time since the Lehman Bros. collapse in 2008. That eroding confidence goes both ways. One editor from another outlet sent out a tweet asking if people were seeing an increase in restaurants refusing to take credit cards, insisting on cash.Those who were already out of work are seeing their efforts for finding employment further hampered and are taking desperate measures. Sales of body-produced items, like hair, breast milk and organs, have been rising dramatically for the last couple years, according to a Bloomberg report. The number of egg donors has risen 13% since last year, with 65% of them claiming a financial motivation. A slowdown in mortgage closings is getting worse the longer the shutdown continues. Social Security payments are being processed but delivery is being delayed. The furloughing of employees from safety and support positions in many agencies -- the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Transportation Safety Board, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, The Federal Emergency Management Agency to name a few -- has left those employees without a paycheck and the remaining employees and those who are trying to use those services under heightened stress. On the other hand, liquor store sales have shot up over 10% on the year after hovering around increases of 4% or less for the last five years, easily the brightest spot in the retail landscape. People are tense, seeking an outlet. And it's going to get worse. Reid's negotiations with Republicans, accepting conditions -- any conditions -- for raising the debt ceiling, guarantee that no matter how the immediate crisis resolves, the acrimony and the political stalemate in Washington will only worsen, making life tougher for the rest of us.
The Nuclear OptionHad the Democrats stood their ground and not compromised, that would probably have been better, in the long run. House Republicans took this course because they thought they could win political advantage. It was a bullying tactic. The best way to defeat a bully is to not give in to his demands. Assuming the Republican House was finally forced to capitulate under pressure from popular displeasure, a default might serve to finally end the use of the debt ceiling as a hostage to settle ideological scores. Perhaps a new House could someday even vote to eliminate the need to raise the debt ceiling. A real end to the recurring debt ceiling nightmare is, to my mind, the only favorable outcome. Maybe not worth a tradeoff for a U.S. or a global recession, but it might bring a return to political normalcy and some much-needed psychological relief for the country. -- Written by Carlton Wilkinson in Asbury Park Follow @CarltonTSC
Select the service that is right for you!COMPARE ALL SERVICES
- $2.5+ million portfolio
- Large-cap and dividend focus
- Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
- Weekly roundups
Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.
- Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
- Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
- A custom stock screener
- Upgrade/downgrade alerts
- Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
- Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
- Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
- Real Money + Doug Kass + 15 more Wall Street Pros
- Intraday commentary & news
- Ultra-actionable trading ideas
- 100+ monthly options trading ideas
- Actionable options commentary & news
- Real-time trading community
- Options TV