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« For Humanity, Do Not Weep | Main | Happy Winter Solstice - 2012 »

December 13, 2012


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Excuse me. Uncle Ben threw ME a rope? I remember him throwing my bank a rope - just before I took my wee bit of $ out and put it in the credit union. My old bank caught "their" end of the rope, and as far as I can tell, they're STILL pulling on it, and hoping it'll get even LONGER. Don't think they care that the other end is ultimately tied to MY thin purse, which does indeed mean it's tied to nothing.


Yes, quicksand is an appropriate analogy. I think the bankers are hoping that there really is a bottom and if just enough of us go under, they will have solid ground to walk to safety. However, since two solids cannot occupy the same space, they don't realize that the quicksand is rising and spreading and that the danger is not going away, it is just getting worse and safety is more out of reach than ever.

Don't help them, throw them a rock like Molly did. Take you money out and put it someplace safe. It certainly is not safe in their hands. And stop borrowing. Pay off any debt and take back control of your life ASAP!


Jeez George, is nothing sacred? We can't even safely hide our heads in the sand anymore, it's now quicksand! :-)

Tony Noerpel

Perhaps a silver lining in all this? Assuming humanities biggest problem is what we are doing to our biosphere maybe a good hearty recession is just the ticket. Who then can afford to buy tar from Canada?

Just kidding. I think we will be fine. Taxes are only going up to the levels they were when we last had a balanced budget.

And military spending will attenuate somewhat. That's something to look forward to. :+)


"You know some quicksand still feels like solid ground for a bit — until it is too late."

"This ground is not the rock I thought it to be." - Tool:Floods

Mark N

If not for central bank policies of pumping massive amounts of credit into the deflating ponzi I believe we would be well into collapse. I mean real collapse as in no grocery store trucks or modern medicine type of collapse. So in bailing out the banksters uncle Ben and his fellow central bankers bailed out industrial civilization. Sorry if that hurts feelings but that is the nature of industrial civilization. Industrial civilization relies on all kinds of unsustainable and destructive systems. Banking schemes are one element people love to get upset about as if industrial civilization could operate equitably and sustainably if not for banksters.

Uncle Ben is not helping humanity however; extending industrial civilization enables more carbon emissions which may make the planet uninhabitable for humans. Classic scenario of being between a rock and a hard place....


@ Mark N - IMHO I believe this blog is not the place to repeat the propaganda of the too-big-to-fail, too-big-to-jail apologists. Look carefully at the outcome and you may notice that the bailout was grand larceny, not a rescue act for the real economy. The joke is that those who rail against "socialism" and laud the so-called free market see no contradiction in the state radically intervening to prop up failing private banking corporations. In a genuine free market, the investment banks would have fallen like any small business that got it wrong in its decision making.

The 2007/08 collapse was engineered by a cartel of corrupt investment houses, whose sociopathic members are now more wealthy than ever after cleverly sucking in taxpayers' funds, while the general population in the West has been impoverished and is heading for third-world levels of deprivation.

There is enough information available that explains the similar trick played on the public in the Great Depression eighty years ago. This Second Great Depression will be seen in the same light, should there be any historians left after 2030.

Mark N

@ O.k. Oliver. I am sorry that industrial civilization is dependent on the credit system of the plutocracy. I do not like the plutocracy or industrial civilization. I am sorry you labor under the assumption that industrial civilization has ever been owned by anyone other than the plutocracy.

The 2008 collapse was the failing of industrial civilization bought on by the end of cheap liquid fuels. The bailouts stopped global economic collapse, but not for long. The Plutocracy can not hold off the collapse of industrial civilization for very much longer; soon the depletion of the giant oil fields will overtake the fracking miracle. Then the central banks will not be able to print fast enough to stop the collapse. 2008 was not engineered my friend; it was just a warm up for the main act.


@ Mark N - I don't disagree with your basic premise about collapse through resource scarcity, but the 2007/08 crisis was not generated by "the end of cheap liquid fuels". That has still to happen, and it won't be long coming in real time - only delayed a little because the new Depression is reducing the rate of overall fossil fuel depletion via lower economic activity.

The plutocracy has an agenda entirely separate from the reality of resource scarcity. They did generate the recent manipulation of financial markets for their own gain, as is evidenced inter alia from looking at crude oil prices over the past 15 years and accepting that there is no causal link with the events of five years ago.

Mark N

@ Oliver- I do not have any way of knowing what the elites agenda may be other than what I can deduce from history. You may be right about their agenda...

We will just have to disagree that the financial crisis is not related to liquid fuels scarcity. Peak oil per capita was the the late seventies and has been destroying the economic systems of all the industrial countries at varying rates ever since.

Industrial countries were built to function as ponzi schemes by leaders who listened to economist who believed natural resources don't matter. That all resources are substitutable by the magic of the free market and human ingenuity. They were completely wrong thankfully, industrial civilization would destroy the world for most life, and now we are nearing the final tipping points that will end industrial civilization. Once the central bankers run out of tricks we will realize that we can not afford to extract the expensive energy. That we can not afford to live in industrial civilization. We never really could we just put everything on the credit card (national debt).


I am not too sure of whether the rising oil price or a simple over leveraging of debt for private households or other entities were the primary cause for the implosion in 2007-2008. More likely, it may have been a combination of these and other factors that drove the system towards its breaking point. However, the more you think about it the less it actually matters with regard to its consequences.

What matters is that we had then reached the point of Peak Everything and have since then entered the Age of Deleveraging. This Age may also become to get known as the Greater Depression or the Worst Deflation Eva.

What I find much more interesting, is that I have the theory that capitalism is just the economic manifestation of how we as a species are inclined to live. That is, just as capitalism we either grow or dwindle in our numbers but find it awfully challenging to keep ourselves steady.

The aspects that held our numbers constant were environmental constraints against which we bumped continuously. Taking the boom and bust phases into account, the development of economic cycles are not that much different.

Additionally, was there ever a time after our ancestors became sedentary when economic behavior did not employ some form of interest and, therefore, capitalistic notion? And if not, how come that it did not prevail over capitalism in the long term?

This may sound like heresy, but if you separate political systems (i.e. democracy) from economic systems (i.e. capitalism), isolating bouts of non capitalistic forms of economic exchanges become much more difficult to find.

My argument is that capitalism is the closest economic equivalent to our own inherent urges as living beings. We need to grow until external constraints reign us in.

If, for example, a society would decide to limit itself to two children per couple, it will almost inevitably be conquered by its neighboring society where couples do not impose such restrictions on themselves. Similarly, an economy that does not grow constantly will, ultimately, be swallowed by an ever expanding one.

I find the parallels striking and I therefore think that we have no choice but to crash against the boundaries established by physics and physical boundaries.

I am as a consequence very pessimistic that future generations will do anything radically different because you have to grow until you don't.

Imagine, a global and comprehensive approach to keep our numbers constant for a century, a millennium or even longer. Preposterous....


@Patrick, I'm dissatisfied with the world too. But I'm still wondering whether outgrowing the opponent at all cost is such a wise choice and whether this is how the world is run. There seems to be still such a thing as a balance of power, which might imply that a country attempts to catch up with the others but doesn't try to create a ridiculously large defensive gap to the other actors since that would be uneconomical.

Also notice that the country that does push ahead the hardest is always the bad guy if all follow the logic that you have to constantly outgrow a potential enemy.

After all I'm wondering whether we have actually chosen the worst way of resource usage or whether we have actually exercised restraint. Some of the resource production curves are not plainly logistic but show some flat top character, maybe we were able to stretch out things a bit more than we would have, had we just followed our suggested nature.


@ Patrick @ kt256 - No one talks about the colossal resources (dollars and fossil fuels) gobbled up by the US imperial war machine. If the US suddenly became an adult country and withdrew to its shores - albeit with a strong coast guard and border forces north and south - the resources freed up would make a massive difference in many directions, including budget deficit recovery, less culling of the middle class and fuel use reductions slowing overall resource depletion. And as discussed, other nascent powers will be freed from the impossibility of catching up with the unbelievably bloated US "defense" budget.

Of course, the purpose of imperial force is to make a small number of people extremely rich, so this readjustment will never be allowed to happen. The US will go to its imperial grave still "governed" by people who are immature enough to think they know best among all citizens of planet earth.


@kt256 - I was not aware that I sounded so dissatisfied, as this was not my intention. What I tried to describe is my view on what might be fundamental behavioural drivers for us as a species. It is thus a meta perspective that might not help in understanding specific behaviours such as military spending, but is more aimed at exploring deeply held fears over not enough children being born for the “tribe”, or the need for growth and expansion.

@Oliver – While social and economic inequality is undoubtedly very disruptive for any society, I find it difficult to see malicious intent guided by a kind of underlying conspiracy by the richest 1 per cent. Most developments (increased surveillance, bail out for the banks, influence of lobbies on legislative processes, etc.) can be as easily explained by the systemic constraints our societies experience to keep our economies still running with increasingly expensive resources, over indebted households and governments, and a population that is becoming more restive.

@kt256 @Oliver - I am not a US citizen so my take on US military expenditure may be influenced by that. The US certainly behaves like an empire from my perspective.

The fundamental aspect of an empire is its ability to coerce others to do its bidding. The means of coercion are usually of diplomatic, economic or military nature. As being an empire has a lot of benefits, particularly economic ones, it is not given up willingly. While the richest citizens of the empire benefit the most, everyone else there does so as well. For example, the US$ is the world's currency. That is, the US is indebted only in US$ and can thus control its debt burden and its payments substantially better than others. That translates into lower taxes for similar amenities.

As we may all agree, the US decline in economic and political power from its peak in ca. 2000 is difficult to overlook. As such, US power projection will necessarily shift more and more to the military aspect. To do this, the US will be forced to maintain its military bases on foreign soil and as much of a spending edge as possible. A reduction in its military spending will signal that US hegemony is definitely nearing its end because it can’t afford it any more. This happened to Rome as well by the way.

By taking this perspective, I think that a reduced share of military spending could soon be outweighed by an increase in payments for other things, as the advantages of being an empire start fading away. Trade might then not be done in US$ and other currencies might have to be bought expensively on the open market.

In sum, viewing it dispassionately, high military spending might not be such a bad thing for US citizens. On the other hand, the rest of the world might have a different perspective.

Paul Winter

You wrote "Good questions are always welcome!" With such a wide subject list, I was hoping that you would know of a study where the percent of people who have a death wish was determined or someone who might know this.

I was unable to determine who is responsible for Question Everything. And yet you want my name. I give it freely and so should you.

Nice job on the web site.

Paul Winter
Webmaster for a few web sites.

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