Category Archives: Collapse

The Value of Everything, by James Howard Kunstler

James Howard Kunstler draws an apt comparison between contemporary America and France just before the revolution in 1789. From Kunstler at kunstler.com:

We are looking more and more like France on the eve of its revolution in 1789. Our classes are distributed differently, but the inequity is just as sharp.

America’s “aristocracy,” once based strictly on bank accounts, acts increasingly hereditary as the vapid offspring and relations of “stars” (in politics, showbiz, business, and the arts) assert their prerogatives to fame, power, and riches — think the voters didn’t grok the sinister import of Hillary’s “it’s my turn” message?

What’s especially striking in similarity to the court of the Bourbons is the utter cluelessness of America’s entitled power elite to the agony of the moiling masses below them and mainly away from the coastal cities. Just about everything meaningful has been taken away from them, even though many of the material trappings of existence remain: a roof, stuff that resembles food, cars, and screens of various sizes.

But the places they are supposed to call home are either wrecked — the original small towns and cities of America — or replaced by new “developments” so devoid of artistry, history, thought, care, and charm that they don’t add up to communities, and are so obviously unworthy of affection, that the very idea of “home” becomes a cruel joke.

These places were bad enough in the 1960s and 70s, when the people who lived in them at least were able to report to paying jobs assembling products and managing their distribution. Now those people don’t have that to give a little meaning to their existence, or cover the costs of it. Public space was never designed into the automobile suburbs, and the sad remnants of it were replaced by ersatz substitutes, like the now-dying malls. Everything else of a public and human associational nature has been shoved into some kind of computerized box with a screen on it.

To continue reading: The Value of Everything

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The Economic Collapse Began Long Ago, by Gerold

As SLL has argued, the US is in a slow-motion depression. Gerold at theburningplatform.com provides additional support. 

My forty-year old Godson was belly-aching about the lack of jobs. He whined it’s all the Boomers’ fault.

I tore a few strips off him. I asked him WTF am I wasting my time researching and writing these articles if he doesn’t read them. Since I had him cornered, I told him a few things he obviously didn’t want to hear.

We are in an economic depression. It was predicted in Strauss and Howe’s 1997 book “The Fourth Turning” [Link]  that occurs every four generations as a time of great turmoil. Their Generational Theory is a framework which explains where we are, how we got here and where we’re going. For more details see ‘Notes” at end.

This is a ‘Stealth Depression.’ The government is doing its utmost to hide it with fake statistics. Their ass media handmaidens are carrying their water telling us everything is wonderful. And, if my Godson believes the ass media, he deserves his fate.

At the bottom of this deception are fake inflation (CPI) statistics. They distort everything else because most economic data is ‘inflation adjusted.’ Consequently, when other economic data such as GDP growth is adjusted with fake inflation statistics, then those numbers are also distorted.

Note: there’s a difference between inflation (increased money supply) and Consumer Price Index (CPI), but I used the terms interchangeably to make it easier for my Godson to understand.

Anyone who buys stuff or reads John Williams ShadowStats [Link] knows that the actual inflation rate in 2017 is roughly 5% and NOT the bullshit 2% (or less) that the government claims. I say “roughly” because I rounded the numbers to make it easier for him to understand.

I wish I could have shown him the ShadowStats graph below.

Consequently, every so-called 2017 statistic that’s “inflation-adjusted” is off by 3%. (Hint: 2 – 5 = -3)

The government claims that (inflation adjusted) 2017 GDP growth is roughly 2%. Since it’s understated by 3%, it means the economy is “growing” at negative 1%. In other words, the economy is SHRINKING by 1%. And, that’s only this year.

To continue reading; The Economic Collapse Began Long Ago

Strip Mining the World, by Robert Gore

The richest vein in the history of predatory mining is just about played out.

A gigantic mine engages in every conceivable destructive practice—strip mining, heap leaching, tailings dams and ponds and so on. It pays such low wages its workers only make ends meet by borrowing from the company at usurious rates. The mine has befouled the air and poisoned the water. Many workers are chronically sick and their children are afflicted with birth defects. The mine’s absentee owners know that the mine is played out and the tailings dam is structurally unsound. They close the mine, count their profits, and move on. A month later the dam gives way. A deluge of noxious sludge inundates the town below the dam, sparing no one and rendering the area uninhabitable.

The government is a strip mining operation, plundering the dwindling residual value of a once wealthy America. Forget ostensible justifications, policy is crafted to allow those who control the government to maximize their take and put the costs on their victims, leaving devastation in their wake.

Wars are no longer about defending the country or even making the world safe for democracy. They are about appropriations, not to be won, but profitably prolonged. The Middle East and Northern Africa have been a mother lode. You would think their sixteen-year war in backward and impoverished Afghanistan would be a shameful disgrace for the military and the intelligence agencies. It’s not. They’ve milked that conflict for all its worth, and now brazenly talk about a “generational war”: many more years of more of the same.

We can also look forward to generational wars in Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Yemen. The strip miners are agitating for an Iranian foray. That’s got Into The 22nd Century written all over it, a rich, multi-generational vein, perhaps America’s first 100-year war.

The only rival for richest mother lode is medicine. Health care is around 28 percent of the federal budget, defense 21 percent. Medical spending no longer cures the sick; it’s the take for insurance, pharmaceutical, and hospital rackets. The US spends more per capita on health care than any other nation (36 percent more than second-place Switzerland) but quality of care ranks well down the list.

In education there is the same gap between per capita spending (the US ranks at or near the top) and value received, in this instance as measured by student performance. What’s paid is out of all proportion to what’s received, especially at a time when computer and communications technology should be driving down the costs of education across the board.

Indoctrination factories formerly known as schools, colleges, and universities dispense approved propaganda. For students, higher education is now on the government-sponsored installment plan. There’s a litany of excuses why Johnny, Joan, Juan, Juanita, Jamal and Jasmine can’t read, compute, or think, but lack of funding and student loans don’t wash. Education dollars fund teachers’ unions, their pensions, administrators, and edifice complexes; learning is an afterthought. This vein will play out as the pensions funds, and the governments that have swapped promises to fund them for educators’ votes, go bankrupt. Probably around the same time as the student loan bubble pops.

Money itself has become a faith-based construct, a strip mining operation jointly owned by the government, the central bank, and the banking cartel it supports. Replacing gold with paper promises, monetizing debt, interest rate suppression, inflation of the money supply and the central bank’s balance sheet, macroeconomic meddling, maintenance of a bankers’ cartel, and insider dealing within the cartel have immeasurably increased the wealth and power of the entire banking complex.

Twenty trillion dollars in debt, two-hundred-plus trillion in unfunded liabilities, and an economy that has barely cruised above stall speed for eight years are core samples indicating the mine is exhausted. The tailings dam has sprung visible leaks. However, the townspeople below the dam remain willfully oblivious to the danger.

Recognizing realty and doing something about it are hallmarks of mental toughness, once considered a virtue. Now, in various tangible and virtual sanctuaries against facts and logic, the demand is made for reality to conform to the delusions of those who refuse to confront it. In the safe space between their ears, the only danger is someone warning of danger.

Lower even than the level of mental fortitude is physical toughness. When the dam breaks, the obese, opiated, otiose endomorphs resting their girths on couches across America will have no chance of escaping the sludge, even with their motorized carts. President Kennedy christened the President’s Council on Physical Fitness to address what he saw as a soft and flabby America. Fifty years later, America is exponentially softer and flabbier—physically, intellectually, and spiritually. Most Americans are in no condition to handle the emotional and physical stresses crises will bring.

It’s viciously ironic that many of them will look to the strip miners for salvation. A captive government that has turned America into a field of rackets, its string-pullers extracting power and wealth while ordinary people have seen their incomes stagnate, their meager savings dwindle, and opportunities shrink, is somehow going to make financial and economic catastrophe all better.

In one sense Hillary Clinton’s use of the term “deplorable” was unfortunate, in that it implies that the strip miners care enough about the townspeople to deprecate them. They don’t. The townspeople have had their uses, but they’re expendable once the mine is played out. Let someone else worry about pulling them from the sludge, or just leave them buried. The strip miners chose America first because it had the richest vein, now exhausted. The strip miners will move on to other, albeit less lucrative, lodes. That is what is meant by globalization.

WHO’S EXPENDABLE?

AMAZON

KINDLE

How the Elites Betrayed Working-Class America, by Bill Bonner

Perhaps the saddest part of the working class’s plight in America is that most don’t know how badly they’ve been betrayed by the elite. From Bill Bonner at internationalman.com:

Win-win deals get people more of what they want. Win-lose deals – usually imposed by government – bring them less. The few (the insiders) use government to exploit the many (the rest of us).

Win-lose deals also depress economic progress for everybody. Partly, this happens for an obvious reason.

Dropping the atom bomb on Hiroshima was a technical milestone, but not the kind of progress we’re talking about. Progress only makes sense if it means that people are able to get more of what they want.

By definition, when a person is forced into a bad deal, he gets less of what he wants.

Progress is also a learning process. You try something. You see what works and what doesn’t. As people experiment in this way, they learn… and the economy accumulates knowledge and wealth.

They learn to get to work in the morning, for example… to say please and thank you… to save their money… and to invest it wisely.

Win-lose deals interrupt the learning process. That’s why welfare programs fail: People get money without learning.

Temptation to Cheat

That is the real reason the Soviet Union failed, too.

Consumers were forced to buy whatever shoddy products were made available to them; producers had no way to learn how to make good ones.

Toward the end, products available for purchase in the Soviet Union were worth less than the raw materials and labor that went into them.

What do you need for win-win deals?

Three things:

1) People must be free to make choices with their time and money.

2) They must have money they can trust.

3) They must trust each other to respect their rights and property.

These things don’t happen smoothly and without interruption.

Progress is cyclical. Win-win deals add wealth and move society forward. But they depend on trust. And as trust increases, so does the temptation to cheat. When everyone leaves his liquor cabinet open, for example, who can resist having a drink?

Then trust declines. Barriers go up. Costs increase. Win-win gives way to win-lose. Progress goes into reverse.

To continue reading: How the Elites Betrayed Working-Class America

Meow, by James Howard Kunstler

Political paralysis may kill and partisan rancor may kill government as we know it after the shit hits the fan. From James Howard Kunstler at kunstler.com:

For all his blunders and stumbles in his first half-year as President (cough cough), Donald Trump seems to have more lives than Schrödinger’s Cat. Or maybe it just seems that way. Or maybe he isn’t really there at all (like the news these days). Maybe Trump only represents one comic probability in an infinite number of universes of probability, both comic and tragic. I begin to understand why the folks in Hollywood are having a whack attack over the chief executive: you can’t storyboard this bitch; it’s like leaving The Three Stooges on their own in a sound stage to re-make Gone With the Wind.

But then, you begin to wonder: is Russia really there, or is it, too, just another figment of possibility? Don’t try to figure that out by reading the oracular observations of The Washington Post. These days Russia seems to be at once everywhere and nowhere, like the Devil north of Boston in 1693. For example, this fellow Jeff Sessions. Have you noticed that his name rhymes with Russians? Hmmmm. And wasn’t he caught chatting with the Russian Ambassador at the very same convocation of Republicans that picked notorious colluder Donald Trump to stand for President? That’s enough of your damn evidence right there!

Yes, things are passing strange in the world’s greatest democracy these days. To me, seeing the thing through an historical lens, it’s looking more and more like the Salem Witch Frenzy meets the French Revolution with a spin of quantum confusion on top. Right now we’re in the first phase, sheer political lunacy. Beliefs have become ungrounded from the facts of life. The guy whom fate or a prankish deity put in the White House doesn’t even fit the template of the world’s most infamous heads-of-state. I’m sorry to dredge up old Adolf, but really, Hitler himself seemed to have a much firmer idea about what he was doing than Trump does.

The ObamaCare reform fiasco looks like a tipping point toward a strain of toxic political paralysis that might literally kill the government as we’ve known it. Over the many months of debate, congress never even got around to raising the salient issue: that the 18-or-so-percent of the economy “health care” represents consists largely of outright racketeering. Well, they sure blew that one. The major parties are disintegrating before our eyes, despite the seeming sense of decorum that senators present on TV. The public may seem to be mentally on vacation, snoozing on the beach in the midsummer doldrums, but something vicious is in the wind offshore.

To continue reading: MeowMeow

Zombies R Us: ‘We the People’ Are the Walking Dead of the American Police State, by John W. Whitehead

The American people have become the zombies that populate their own worst nightmares, and many of their movies and TV series. From John W. Whitehead at rutherford.org:

RIP George Romero (1940-2017).

Romero—a filmmaker hailed as the architect of the zombie genre—is dead at the age of 77, but the zombified police state culture he railed against lives on.

Just take a look around you.

“We the people” have become the walking dead of the American police state.

We’re still plagued by the socio-political evils of cultural apathy, materialism, domestic militarism and racism that Romero depicted in his Night of the Living Dead trilogy.

Romero’s zombies have taken on a life of their own in pop culture.

Zombies also embody the government’s paranoia about the citizenry as potential threats that need to be monitored, tracked, surveilled, sequestered, deterred, vanquished and rendered impotent.

Case in point: in AMC’s hit television series The Walking Dead and the spinoff Fear the Walking Dead, it’s not just flesh-eating ghouls and cannibalistic humans that survivors have to worry about but the police state “tasked with protecting the vulnerable” that poses some of the gravest threats to the citizenry.

Why the fascination with zombies?

Perhaps it’s because zombie fiction provides us with a way to “envision how we and our own would thrive if everything went to hell and we lost all our societal supports.” As Time magazine reporter James Poniewozik phrases it, the “apocalyptic drama lets us face the end of the world once a week and live.”

In other words, zombies are the personification of our darkest fears.

Fear and paranoia have become hallmarks of the modern American experience, impacting how we as a nation view the world around us, how we as citizens view each other, and most of all how our government views us.

The propaganda of fear has been used quite effectively by those who want to gain control, and it is working on the American populace.

Despite the fact that we are 8 times more likely to be killed by a police officer than by a terrorist, we have handed over control of our lives to government officials who treat us as a means to an end—the source of money and power.

We have allowed ourselves to become fearful, controlled, pacified zombies.

 

To continue reading: Zombies R Us: ‘We the People’ Are the Walking Dead of the American Police State

Holy Hell, by James Howard Kunstler

Events aren’t turning out according the grand schemes of the so-called intellectuals in the ruling class. From James Howard Kunstler at kunstler.com:

The abiding enigma of this tormented era remains: why has the thinking class of America abandoned thinking? The answer is: it’s the reaction to their own failure. Failure to do what? To produce the utopia that Gnostic liberalism promised — a perfect world based on altering human nature.

The result is an essentially religious hysteria, like the witch frenzies of Medieval Europe that were sometimes provoked by ergot poisoning — a fungus with toxic psychotropic properties that grew on the harvested rye, inducing frightful hallucinations in the villagers, who then lashed out at their perceived supernatural antagonists. Trump in our time is the ergot on the bread of our politics. And Russia is the witch.

Like other operations of the human mind, this collective fugue-state has a big subconscious module in it: the deep, poorly articulated fear that the signal notion of Progress behind progressivepolitics in the industrial era has reached a dead end. The world is clearly not becoming a better place, but rather reeling into disorder and ecological crisis, despite all the rational programs and politics of modern democracy, and political failure is everywhere.

The “peace dividend” promised by the end of the cold war has degenerated into endless war. The miraculous promises of medicine have been hijacked by “health care” racketeering now institutionalized under ObamaCare. The Civil Rights campaign begun in the 1950s with the most earnest, hopeful intentions (and generous policies) has produced off-the-charts black crime rates, educational defeat, ruined cities, and epic rancor. The middle class has been left economically shipwrecked by the promises of globalism. The pledge of a happy retirement dissolves as the pension funds roll over and die. And the supposed paragon of enlightened American governance morphs into a sinister and corrupt Deep State of oligarchical corruption.

In the background of all this are even more disturbing quandaries and prospects: population overshoot, mass migration from regions that can’t support these numbers of people, extinctions of animal species, the death of the oceans, climate instability. The practical problems of economy approach an event horizon of energy scarcity, runaway debt from trying to mitigate it, and eventual collapse of our day-to-day hyper-complex economic arrangements. These things are so scary that the thinking classes — except for a minority of nerdy scientists — can’t even bear to think about them.

To continue reading: Holy Hell