The Raptures of Hyper-Complexity, by James Howard Kunstler

Hyper-complexity is this case means Rube Goldbergesque. From James Howard Kunstler at kunstler.com:

Looks like The New York Times will have to recalibrate its president-o-meter. For five months they’ve been styling Joe Biden as the reincarnation of FDR, but he’s looking more and more like the second coming of Millard Fillmore — who came to leadership of the dominant Whig Party at exactly the moment it flew up the wazoo of history and vanished, ushering in a civil war.

FDR, you remember, was faced with a momentous systems failure, a crisis we came to call the Great Depression. I’m not sure we actually learned the lesson of that, despite thousands of books and PhD dissertations on the subject. The lesson: financial systems tend to expand and complexify at a more rapid rate than the larger economic systems of which they are a component. Their abstract operations seek to hide risk in hyper-complexity until hazard comes a’callin’ and then you discover that the actual money is not there.

The difference then (1929 – 1941) was that the greater US economy was fully outfitted for industrial production when its finance sector blew up. There was something solid underneath all that financial abstraction. We were all set up to manufacture products of value, many of them based on inventions developed here: cars, movies, airplanes, radios, you-name-it, new and exciting things that people wanted to buy. Our factories were all pretty much up-to-date and state-of-the-art then, too. Our oil supply, including the industry that pumped it out of the ground and moved it from points A to B, was the envy of the world. We had raw materials up the ying-yang. The whole kit was humming magnificently when Wall Street blew up, and next thing you know unemployment goes to twenty-five percent and nobody has any money and the luckless are building cardboard shanties in Central Park.

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