The Waste Gap …


Eduard Manet ‘Monet Painting in his Floating Studio’. Those living in the 19th century before the widespread use of petroleum fuels certainly had it short, brutish and nasty. The painter Monet actually had to row himself and his wife by hand to where he would spend the day painting and being entertained. It is hard to imagine how difficult and unpleasant life was before unleaded gasoline, how far Americans in particular have advanced since 1874. Note the factories belching coal smoke in the background: a shorter, nastier, more brutal ‘lifestyle’ for tens of millions — World War One — was only forty years away.

It’s clear what is taking place both in the United States and elsewhere is a sea-change or more accurately, THE sea-change, the ‘Great Slide’. The ancient virtues of unlimited free parking and quaint segregation of work away from leisure are useful only when petroleum is worth very little more than what can be gained by its waste. This narrow difference can then be made up with inexpensive debt: as the margin widens debt becomes unaffordably costly. Debt becomes unable to bridge the ‘waste gap’ between what fuel costs and what the waste of the fuel returns.

The system as designed: cheap inputs + cheap credit = marginal system returns.

This leaves out the returns to ‘entrepreneurs’ that are independent of marginal system returns to a large degree.

Now: expensive inputs + expensive credit = negative system returns.

Negative real returns here weigh down the entire interconnected system. Increasing the amount of credit within the system increases both input- and credit costs. Credit does not exist (or is allowed to exist) outside the system: the expansion of debt cannot outrun increased input costs — which are a feedback outcome of debt expansion. There are obvious limits to credit forcing, beyond these limits system returns are unaffected.

Debt itself has become the obsession du jour: the problem is not the sufficiency of debt or even its costs but the defective structure within which debt subsidizes profitless waste. We love our waste, it makes us feel human: right now the world’s economies are at the point where debt can just barely stretch to fill the waste gap. We can just barely afford the costs of the debt, provided we put to use every sort of extraordinary tactic to manage them. We add more debt, we borrow our way out of it, we shuffle it around: running faster and faster to remain in one place.

Debts can be managed this way only because the state can always run faster: as long as there is a marginal return somewhere within the debt-y universe the system will continue to lend to itself ever-larger nominal amounts. Unfortunately, the real capital that the debt is supposed to represent diminishes while the claims made against capital increase. The efforts to manage debt by ‘renewing’ it become counterproductive. Adding debt becomes another form of waste with costs that cannot be met.

A decline in nominal price of petroleum is no cure: temporary declines allow price-thwarted demand to rush back into the markets and push up the price. This decline-push dynamic remains in force until the ability of customers to meet the high price price is exhausted, when the credit runs out. The producers must then lower the price to meet a diminishing cash market. What supports a price also supports the ability to meet it, the waste gap persists and continues to expand. Marginal costs swell to become the entire costs. Before that point is reached the system stops working as inputs cannot be had at prices users are able to afford.

Demand shifts from the purchase of goods to the purchase of fuel to support legacy ‘investments’. Demand destruction takes place first within the goods-producing sectors rather than in energy sectors, it takes place even as fuel prices decline. Demand declines faster because the fuel-waste goods production is a dependency upon low priced fuel. At current prices, the entire consumption infrastructure — built assuming $20 crude in perpetuity — is underwater.

In 2008 the WTI price spiked then collapsed. The fuel price could have been supported at very high levels for a long time, but not all prices across the entire economy. Fuel prices undermined marginal businesses particularly those related to automobiles, real estate and off-balance sheet financing. To satisfy demand represented by the existing auto fleet, funds were shifted away from the purchase of new cars and houses in far-distant suburbs. Fuel not purchased in exurbia was purchased instead in China and India.

Right now the price for fuel is still high even as the economy unsurprisingly displays signs of a severe slowdown within China and its dependencies, the European Union, Japan and the United States. Cannibalism works that way: the cannibal gets fat at the expense of his ‘lunch’. Given the choice between driving a car and having a functioning economy (that depends to a large degree on driving) the choice is made to drive.

The current regime runs aground on its costs. These are increased by (driving-created) scarcity and over-reliance upon credit to keep driving more. We allocate ourselves into a sinkhole. Wherever one takes the time or pleasure to look, the cost of driving exceeds what the customer is able to pay doing everything else. Having emptied our accounts at the gasoline pump, the returns on our non-driving endeavors are insufficient to service the debt needed to drive … or do much else.

What is underway is a margin call against the entire unproductive enterprise.

Closing the floating studio gap



James Jacques Tissot ‘Seaside (Portrait of Kathleen Newton)’. The largest real improvements to take place during the middle-19th century and afterward were sanitation and clean water supplies in cities and better understanding of disease. Tissot’s mistress Kathleen Newton died by her own hand in 1882 at the age of twenty-eight, the consequence of her tuberculosis infection. Tuberculosis also claimed Monet’s wife Camille at the age of thirty-two.

Tuberculosis is an illness that is largely treated today with antibiotics. Unfortunately, the widespread recent use of the same antibiotics as additives to animal feed along with the improper (placebo) medicinal use has allowed antibiotic-resistant superbugs to evolve. There are now forms of tuberculosis that are unaffected by any drug. The end result is to undo the entire improvement, to bring conditions outside to the point where they were before antibiotics appeared.

This sort of dynamic takes place across the entire economy: we uncover or create an ‘improvement’ with one hand and mismanage its use with the other. We constantly act at cross-purposes to ourselves.

As the system winds down, what next? Everyone is looking for a way to manage future risks while being completely in the dark as to what forms the risks will take.



Unknown photographer, ‘Street in Uzès, France’ (New World Economics). The pre-petroleum Neanderthals of the 16th century and earlier certainly knew how to build beautiful towns.

Energy waste for its own sake pushes aside everything unrelated to itself. This consigns all but a few fragments such as the occasional Uzès to the ash-heap of progress. We frame the fragments even as doing so puts them out of context. While the markets attempt to make measure, the markets themselves fail apart. Everything we rely upon to do our critical thinking for us is resource-dependent and undone by negative real returns.



Richard Duncan’s original, 1995 conceptualization of the rise and fall of industrialization. We are what we consume per-capita sez Richard. This is completely paradoxical: we have created for ourselves a petroleum-driven dark age that we have but the smallest chance of escaping! The problem isn’t the primitive, it is our mis-managed progress. Propaganda pimps modernity as the race toward a scarcely-to-be-believed wonderland of Chinese made crap consumer goods sure to arrive tomorrow. The record of one industrial failure after another speaks for itself: if we are done in it will be on account of our stupendous successes revealed as the follies they turned out to be.



The entire Futurama concept runs aground on its own absurdity. How is sitting stalled in traffic or not stalled within an environment created specifically for machines progress? How is sitting behind a wheel for three hours any different from sitting behind a sewing machine in a sweatshop? The answer is the sewing machine produces a (small) return for the sewer while the wheel is a privilege purchased at an unaffordable price.

Any sort of civilization beyond what is unraveling around us — or any higher form elsewhere — would certainly be driven by inner resources rather than what can be bought in a store.

Any higher intelligence in the universe would be unrecognizable to moderns who can only consider civilization within the context of self-destructive industrialization: weapons and conquest, machine exploitation and lazy transformation of resources into waste for no purpose other than to make someone ‘rich’ who is a bit greedier than the others … The artifact of any civilization more advanced than ‘ours’ would be the rendering of the universe devoid of life or even the possibility for life to exist. How, in fact, we now perceive the universe to be: an enormous vacuum buzzing with radiation and the occasional black hole.

Those searching the radio spectrum for signs of intelligence in the universe peer under the wrong rocks: ‘Advanced civilization’ would manifest itself as a bizarre negative space-like non-space guarded by silent well-cloaked microorganismic killing machines. Perhaps this is what our precious God concept represents when distilled to its essence: the conquest of life by death (machines) out of envy.

Our God tricks us: everything and everyone else within modernity lies, why not God?

The belching factories and a handful of billionaires put twelve Americans on the moon, after the same factories and billionaires killed tens of millions in a world war. The astronauts drove a car in circles and hit a couple of golf balls. They didn’t even play a legitimate game of golf: the entire enterprise was a pointless cold-war finger to the rest of the ‘undeveloped’ world. “We can put a man on the Moon but …” We can’t think to do anything else because our empty anticulture does not allow anyone to come up with something better. An actual civilization would have sent Monet on the moon in a floating studio, but our gulag-on-wheels stuffs nascent Monets into investment banking instead, ‘greeding them down’.

Modernity’s first demand is the annihilation of art as being subversively human and anti-modern. So far that strategy has been a resounding success …

Our space adventures enabled bigger rockets upon which our wonderful entrepreneurs mounted larger numbers of more accurate thermonuclear warheads. Add to that the incurable illnesses and multiple total wars, the cannibalizing the natural world in the chase for resources and much more of such progress will be the end of us. The sooner we use up our energy supplies the better.

The waste gap widens: the USA has ‘invested’ trillions into guaranteed capital losses. Notice that the Chinese have followed. The Soviets bankrupting themselves trying to outspend the US on military hardware. The Chinese bankrupt themselves outspending on autos and high-rise office buildings.

The entire system requires restructuring, not just bits and pieces.

The emerging system: valuable inputs = zero-risk use.

Expensive credit = narrowly distributed returns

Inputs would be so valuable that the entire enterprise would be designed around managing the risks associated with their possible economic loss. Better uses would be found for resources or they would remain unaffordable in the ground. There would be no ‘consumption’ of non-renewable resources, only non-consumption uses would provide sufficient returns to meet the high costs of accessing them. The implication is an economy that is more wealthy rather than less wealthy: an economy which carefully husbands rather than squanders capital and makes highest and best use of it.

What will be required is a return on resource use rather than subsidized waste.

Credit would be tasked with amplifying the increase in capital by any means necessary. This might mean borrowing to pay individuals not to waste or to not generate certain kinds of demand. This also suggests an economy that becomes wealthier over time allowing even high-cost credit to pay for itself.

At the end of the Age of Waste it must be noted that all of the materials considered to be in dire short supply will still exist but not in ‘industrial quantities’ or in concentrations that are economical for industry to waste. It will simply not be possible for billions of people to waste resources for negative real returns. The absence of industrial inputs does not mean the absence of inputs. Even after a century- and a half of waste, over half of all the discovered fossil fuel will remain in the ground, along with gold and silver, potash and phosphorus, rare-earth metals: there will be topsoil and water too, and much more besides.

Easy resources are transformed: into both ‘by-products’ and life-lessons: whoever uses resources in the future will have to bring more to the table besides carelessness and the ability to wheedle his friends into lending to him. Any material use will have to pay for itself on its own account. No more grand delusions about risk-free growth paid for by ‘nobody in particular’ because the structures to support such nonsense will be impossible.

43 thoughts on “The Waste Gap …

  1. The Dork of Cork

    I always thought the LEM was a beautiful expression of engineering minimalism myself – a sort of grand technological artistic expression.

    And the J missions did some truely great science – its a great pity the Apollo Applications project was cancelled

    – it had such great potential and indeed the VIking and Voyager missions would not have happened without this spending – they survived on fiscal fumes in the 70s.
    Earth science would now have far less Knowledge then it has now – It would be like medical science that somehow based its entire construct around one cadaver.

    These great adventures were canceled because the banking system changed in the mid 60s (NASA budget peaked in 66)
    The CBs began to target interest rates rather then then the money supply from the mid 60s – creating a worse then useless credit hyperinflation from that period onwards.

    A credit junk non fiscal world.
    The money spent on Apollo was a nothing when compared to the vast resourses spent on trash.

    1. James

      But isn’t everything trash? No purpose, no destination, no meaning beyond satisfaction of our systemic needs. It’s just that the ecosystem recycles its trash. Organic and technological evolution happens between hot and cold but its inventions have no reason and do not need a reason to be. Just being is the purpose of being, there is nothing more. All will be ground to dust and recycled in future generations (if favorable conditions persist.)

    2. steve from virginia Post author

      You have to understand something: I am not per-se against space travel or reactors or lunar modules and some of these other things.

      We humans desperately need to get our shit together first.

      We need to demonstrate over a course of time that the human race can operate the space ship we have now for the benefit of all including the spaceship itself. Once we’ve done so, then we can exercise our intergalactic/intra-atomic ambitions wisely.

      Right now, the HR fails miserably. We’ve gained an inheritance in the form of resources and fossil fuels and we are blowing it all in a gigantic and wasteful cocaine party. This is ‘typical’ and ‘predictable’ and part of the human/monkey condition, blah-blah-blah but the option to do otherwise also exists.

      Until we stop making excuses for ourselves and learn to turn aside from our destructive toys we are going to go rapidly down the toilet.

      We have to learn and earn: learn how to best use our toys and then earn the right to make use of them. There is no other way. the alternative is destruction that nobody is going to be able to escape. We all share a very small space ship. It tends to run itself but we are fucking with the controls with dire consequences to come.

      I think Duncan is wrong because the HR also tends to naturally be creative and cooperative. We humans like beautiful things and enjoyable lives. We need food, clothing, shelter and something interesting to do with ourselves. For thousands of years we and our space ship have been able to provide these things and more. The option beside self-immolation are all over the place, we just have to find the approaches we like and adopt them.

      Instead, we’ve painted ourselves into a doctrinal corner, part of that paint job is our fascination with our own cleverness. But cleverness is the opportunity not an end in itself. We have a vague idea where we can go but we believe we don’t have to do any real work or make any effort to get there, just push a button on the remote or ‘hire a Mexican to do it’. We humans are like a football team that knows enough about offense to be dangerous but has no idea or care about defense: “that will take care of itself” we say over and over. We have a score 10 for us and 10 for the other side with that other side ready to score 1000 against us. Then what?

      We have a choice: pre-industrial civilized France or Yemen. But … these are our only choices, not Jetsonville or ‘Planet X’ or some endless American Graffiti. Once we learn some more things — how to control ourselves — we can make our way to Planet X. First things first.

      Keep in mind, if we do a good job of learning how to manage things then we will have no desire to leave home. That is not a danger but something to look forward to.


      1. The Dork of Cork

        Don’t disagree that it would be a waste of resourses to do a Buck Rodgers although a cheap Mars one way / stay mission would jolt the senses on Planet Earth and would possibly wake up people to possibilities although the west has become absurdly risk averse since the 60s and therefore such as a escapade would be impossible today.

        The problem with France is that most countries simply don’t operate like it and indeed since EMU got started it has degraded somewhat.
        I am looking at EIB investments lately and although some are pretty good they can run into big problems.

        Unlike post war French rail lines many British lines have been cut to pieces – the EIB / Scottish goverment redevelopment of the old Scottish borders Waverley route has run into problems
        Looking at Google earth this line must cross 2 possibly 3 1970s road developments significantly increasing costs.
        Long term planning is really not part of most goverments makeup – they probally really believed the North sea reserves would last centuries….

  2. Josh

    “Those living in the 19th century before the widespread use of petroleum fuels certainly had it short, brutish and nasty. The painter Monet actually had to row himself and his wife by hand to where he would spend the day painting and being entertained. It is hard to imagine how difficult and unpleasant life was before unleaded gasoline, how far Americans in particular have advanced since 1874.”

    That is the funniest thing I have read all year. You really nailed it with that one.

    I wonder if the paintings of the Long Island Expressway School will turn out to be as valuable as those from the Hudson River School.

    1. enicar333

      I believe Monet was the 1% of his time. Look at the clothes, surroundings, and ladies. Monet was at the top – and lived a life of leisure and luxury while:

      The common Man, Woman, and CHILD labored long and hard hours in unsafe conditions. THEIR lives were short and brutish.

      AND THAT CITY? Where were the cheap inputs coming from? WHY – it was taken from Brown, Yellow and Black people all over the World. A European power walked into a Country, killed at will – Because we all know Brown, Yellow and Black people don’t count – and they have our property anyway!

      The American Civil War was over – but we were still murdering Indians, stealing their land, and fighting with the Mexicans. We were to find ourselves in NUMEROUS other wars, stealing land from Spain, who stole it from other indeginous people.

      You really have me CONFUSED! You are pining to be a 1% in a “simpler time”.

      Sure, we weren’t yet exploiting OIL, but we were expoliting Metals, Coal, TREES -, huge swaths of North America and Europe were cut down – Europe came to America for Oak for ships – because they had cut all theirs down. The landscape out West was being destroyed with Railroads and mining for Gold with hydraulics and mercury!! Animals were hunted to extinction for the sheer joy of killing, or to decorate a “Lady”.

      No union protections then – or adequate care for the Common Man. This is your idea of Paradise?

      What of water and sewage?

      You lament that we waste fuel to waste fuel – which we do- because, after thinking about it, THAT IS WHAT HUMANS DO! In all ages, in all times. Give humans a little foothold – and environmental destruction is at hand. The landscape and balance of nature changed FOREVER.

      HUMANS are an aberration, a plague, UNNATURAL. We don’t fit in.

      James – IS correct.

      1. steve from virginia Post author

        The difference between what could be earned and the cost to stay alive was much narrower then than now. The point is that the establishment insists that any post-petroleum existence will be barbaric: “otherwise we will all be living in caves”.

        Pre-petroleum existence was not barbaric at all, if you were talented and ambitious in 1870 as a person is today, you would probably live better in many ways: watch that tuberculosis!

        In 1870-ish the developed world was struggling through a severe world-wide recession called The Long Depression. Money was hard to come by and visitors to Paris and other big cities made note of the large numbers of very young prostitutes on the streets, desperate women and children with nothing to offer a struggling economy but themselves.

        One reason for this: France had just been crushed at war with the Prussians in 1870 and was paying reparations in gold. There was a new government in Paris, also a new form: a revolution had overthrown the Emperor and destructive siege had led to a new Republic. The establishment of the time was ‘feeling its way’ because it had literally been turned upside down.

        The elites in 1874 were far more wealthy than the 1%ers of today, in monetary terms and otherwise. The world’s richest man ever — John D Rockefeller — was building his refinery empire in America. Meanwhile, French banking was good, so were French railroads and French chemicals, iron, cement and engineering. Of course, these were all industries so their masters could borrow their fortunes as our bosses borrow today.

        There was not much of a middle class as we would recognize it, mostly merchants, small business owners (few consumer goods), tradesmen, artisans such as tailors and seamstresses, cabinet makers and silversmiths, butchers and brewers, and similar such as painters and musicians. There was no recorded music of course, and few photographs so image- and sound makers could earn a living.

        Many artists who enjoyed material comforts had well-to-do relatives, married into property or were able to sell their work. Most of that group to which Monet belonged that we think highly of now had a very hard time in the depression and many were basically beggars.

        People dressed well even when they had little money b/c there was little else to spend money on.

      2. Reverse Engineer

        The 1800s were an AWFUL time to be alive just about anywhere. It was the time of Dickens and Oliver Twist. Mormons literally WALKED to Utah to try and find their Promised land. Wars were being fought everywhere, Debtors were sent into Indentured servitude in Australia, Genocide was occuring all along the North American frontier and they punctuated the whole Biz with Civil War.

        This is somehow all made up for because there were good artists painting and people dressed well?!?! Most people probably only had two pairs of clothes, kids went shoeless because making a new pair of shoes for rapidly changing foot sizes is a WASTE and pretty expensive when shoemakers have to stich them up one at a time. Out in the Old West, you were lucky if you died with your Boots still on and they were only stolen from your corpse AFTER you were dead.

        1750 was marginally better mainly because the air wasn’t yet full of belching coal smoke from factories, but of course also plenty of people were living in slavery at the time and life wasn’t too good for them. Probably not too much fun for Indians living under British Colonial Rule either.

        Pining for these eras as being much better than today is just nuts IMHO. If you want to look for social organizations and times and places where life was probably a bit better, generally speaking I think you have to go back a good deal further in time, and/or march yourself well outside the centers of “Civilization” like Paris or Beijing or Tokyo or London or NYC. For most people in those places, life SUCKED back then, just as it does now.


      3. steve from virginia Post author

        RE, I don’t know how to respond to your comment because it is so biased, and generally negative. What’s the point?

        At any time and place there are those who live better than others as is the case now. Is the present paradise? If so, prepare to reformulate all of your arguments because none of them will work here.

        During pre-petroleum periods people did not live in caves as the little men inside the TV insist.

        This is factual, the evidence of the period in question speaks for itself.

      4. enicar333

        “Sullivan’s team discovered 52 surviving Meakambut and 105 caves with names, only a score of which were actively used as shelters. They found clay pots, bone daggers, and hand stencils on the walls in nine caves, and human skulls in three. Many of the elderly had died.”

        Thankfully Industrial Man has found these simple and ignorant people and will save them from themselves and bring them into the modern age.

        First, we must re-educate them about death, direct their resources towards saving the dying and increasing the number surviving; then give them tools, health clinics, schools and homes, all with government assistance. After that , when their population increases and outstrips the ability for simple hunter-gatherers to survive in their native environment, we will give them guns, and agriculture, and domesticated animals, and let them burn and slash the evil jungle around them and hunt species to extinction. As an added bonus White missionaries will bring the joy of jesus into their lives, teach them simple hymnes worshiping him, while saving their souls from eternal damnation, if they do what they are told. They will also need Pepsi, Coke, Alcohol, processed starches and corn syrup, so we can introduce them to the diseases and ravages of advanced civilizations.

        They will also need to be introduced to the joys of satellite TV, wells for clean water, and a variety of electrical and fossil fuel powered devices which will lift these simple people out of their chains of poverty – and bring them the full misery of the West, the endless desire for things, hate and envy and greed, and an empty soul.

        We need to save these savage primitives from themselves. Praise be to jesus.


        “Joshua says the spirits of Kopao came to John in the night. The skulls spoke to him. The black sockets had red eyes like some nocturnal bush creature. The skulls said they had seen John bring a white man into the sacred place. They had heard John tell the secret story to the white man, and they were angry. This was a story for the Meakambut, not for the white man.”


  3. Reverse Engineer

    Monet could not stop the belching facrtoeies in the background of his paintings any more than you can stop carz from driving. Long as the resources are there and the will to power is there, somebody is going to access them and “waste” them.

    You are as usual correct that the main deal here was the “spread” between what was available to pull up cheap and the credit you could issue on future production. Long as you could keep increasing the production and the imputs came cheap, the marginal difference could be compensated for by further debt creation. So it has been since the beginning of the thermodynamic age, and it preceeded the age of Oil.

    Now this game will collapse. An end to Carz and Driving won’t resolve the prolems though, that is a fantasy. The sytem as a whole simply is not capable of supporting this kind of population without the thermodynamics, which go far beyond the Carz and into the fuel to move ships and the fuel to run electrics and water treatment facilities and much much more. focusing on Carz as the end all and be all of our problems here is myopic Steve, you really have to look past that into the whole of the industrial epoch.

    Is it all WASTE? In a sense yes, but at the same time all living things waste, nothing is perfectly efficient. The main deal here is just how FAST we wasted it all. Tghe main deal for the future is how many can survive with very little to waste.


  4. James

    The dominance hierarchy behaviors, almost universally present in social animals, guarantees that we will use all available energy just to gain a competitive advantage. There is no stasis or sustainability possible when energy sources are available for harvest by our tools, only a continuous competition for resources and mates. I’ve known wannabe alpha-males that would sacrifice the lives of millions of slaves to defeat a competitor. Maybe I meant to say soldiers and civilians. Religions do it, countries do it, people do it and pelicans do it, amongst others.

    At a tire store where I live, a patron asked for new larger tires. The salesman told him his tires were fine. He said, “I think the truck will look better with some bigger tires.” And so it goes. Did your friend get breast implants? Better make your appointment now. Does your social acquaintance have a 5,000 sq. ft. home? Perhaps you need one twice the size. A waste? Yes, of course. But for most humans, winning the dominance competition means obtaining more income and the most desirable mates, or at least it did when they lived in hunter-gatherer tribes. Now it means society uses up irreplaceable resources that much faster.

    People buying larger and more expensive cars and houses and vacations, on credit, until they run into cash flow problems and the dream and their artificially inflated self-esteem gets deflated. Is this waste or did they just fail to realize a return on their conspicuous consumption? Apparently the dazzling display of a peacock’s feathers are effective in courting female peacocks, but is it a waste? Sometimes, but the waste gets recycled and the sun rises the next day.

  5. Ross

    The petro-collapse is losing this leg of the race to the climate apocalypse. 80 dergers [sic] in March and the American public screams gas is too damned high.

    In northern Chicago we were paying 3.70 last month. Now we’re lucky to pay 4.40. 20 percent-o’s in a month would get anybody’s attention.

    Smashing all climate records x 7000. Ahh, that’s just good luck. We’re so spoiled by this good weather. Ask the farmers how they’re liking the weather. Ask them what it’s like to string together two weeks of 80 degree days before Winter is officially over.

    Naw, pay no attention. There’s a race war brewing. Whites on blacks! So raciss! The injustice! Man… between white and non-white that killer-man is definitely…

    Got seeds?

  6. enicar333

    Steve – I know I don’t grasp all what you are saying – but I have a question:

    You say: “The system as designed: cheap inputs + cheap credit = marginal system returns.”

    When I was young, credit was expensive (to my way of thinking) and most people ONLY had a mortgage, and a car (perhaps) if they had personal debt. In the 80’s when I joined the military, I put away as much money as I could into CD’s – I seem to remember receiving upwards of 10% – while loans were (obviously) much more and I remember trying to get credit to buy a stereo – where I discovered that I couldn’t get credit, because I didn’t have credit. WELL, I finally found a store that specialized in this – at a high interest rate – and I took it – paid it off early – and was in on the credit game. Although I rarely use it.

    “Now: expensive inputs + expensive credit = negative system returns.”

    TO my way of thinking credit IS cheap today – very low interest rates, and everyone trying to get you to come on in and take a loan. There are something like 20 (!!!) payday loan stores in Racine. Come on in and get raped!! Enjoy today – while our Lawyer sodomizes you tomorrow!!

    It is with some hesistation I provide this one link, and in some respects I would provide more – the Internet is a wonderful place to destroy your preconceptions and discover how little one knows – and likewise – how many crackpot theories are out there, or new theories. You MAY find it interesting, and if you read it through and find it plausible – it will take you many different places – on the other hand – it may seem crackpot to you.

    Open SETI

  7. Winston Smith

    good post!

    let’s cut to the bone:

    1) there is no “progress”.

    there is only privilege and comfort for a few at the expense of the many.

    as Vandana Shiva has shrewdly observed:

    “The poor are not those who have been ‘left behind’; they are the ones who have been robbed”

    see: Two Myths That Keep the World Poor

    2) there is no “growth”.

    there is only rearranging of existing matter from certain states to other states: from resource to product to waste (matter cannot be created or destroyed).


    3) “progress” and “growth” mean — by definition — that the few who enjoy their delusion must take from the many who pay the price.

    “progress” and “growth” are the rationalized, reprehensible, rapacious illusion of imperial mythology.

    a profoundly destructive house of cards which is falling down.

    entropy’s a b*$#h!

    4) all this having been expressed, the literal impossibility of “progress” and “growth” (within the context of the nightmare of the amerikan dream) is different from the betterment of human existence.

    it is theoretically possible for billions to live reasonably well at a certain level of ecological footprint:

    “The world population, currently at seven billion, is well beyond Earth’s ability to sustain. By 2050, with a projected population of 10 billion people and without a change in consumption patterns, the cumulative use of natural resources will amount to the productivity of up to 27 planet Earths, the study found.

    “Sustaining the current seven billion people on the planet requires a major shift in resource use. At present, the average U.S. citizen’s ecological footprint is about 10 hectares, while a Haitian’s is less than one. The planet could sustain us if everyone’s footprint averaged two ha…”
    – Data Shows All of Earth’s Systems in Rapid Decline

    it’s just not remotely likely to happen (and that’s putting it mildly).

    i certainly experience no evidence (none whatsoever) that it’s going to happen any time soon.


    and good luck, we’re going to need it.

    i don’t want a job, a car and a house
    i don’t want to Occupy the past
    i want a Revolution
    a new way of being

  8. dolph

    People should study and really try to appreciate preindustrial culture for what it was. One of the best examples, going back even further, was medieval Europe.
    Take a look at a well constructed cathedral, and ask yourself…does anything in the modern world even compare? Try to mentally get beyond the usual derogatory arguments…they were “just” peasants who were illiterate, ordered what to do by a priest, and died a miserable death.
    Try to ask yourself, are we any different now? Are we literate? Do we think for ourselves? Do we die well? The answer to that is almost certainly no…industrialization simply masks this and pushes the costs of the big lie out into the future. How is a construction worker today differant than a peasant of years gone by? Die of a urinary tract infection at 80, after suffering from arthritis for decades, instead of plague at 40. And much less to show for it.
    When measured against recorded history, much less the endless expanse of time, such a “gain” in lifespan, or money, is laughable. What human beings tried to do in the past was to enrich their short lives with some meaning or another. It was all they could do…their lives were short! The culture, art, architecture that they produced puts us to shame.

    But we can’t go back there, really. Industrialization destroys minds, literally. If we were to attempt this, we would have an existential crisis and just kill each other off.

    1. Josh

      A great comment in Steve’s best post ever. The cathedrals are the ultimate example of pre-HAL 9000 genius.
      Could the environment we are currently building (and abandoning) be any uglier and poorly constructed? Probably – give it time.

      1. steve from virginia Post author

        Cathedrals were money-makers for towns and cities which would compete to build them then compete again to gain bone fragments and other relics of ‘saints’, etc.

        People would travel from across the continent to visit cathedrals the way Muslims travel to Mecca, today. Note ‘Canterbury Tales’ which was a ‘collection’ of tales told by pilgrims to the shrine of Thomas a Becket at Canterbury cathedral. Travelers needed lodging, places to eat and be entertained and also had business to do. Cathedrals themselves were multi-purpose community centers where every sort of business was transacted including lending at interest.

        A larger, more spectacular cathedral with the relics of an important saint would guarantee a town a steady stream of income: towns worked hard to close the ‘cathedral gap’.

        Cathedrals helped the church become wealthy. Not only was there a cash flow but bequests fell to districts with cathedrals from wealthy widows and widowers.

        The only church activity more profitable than operating a cathedral was organizing a crusade. Funds would be borrowed from Genoese or Florentine moneylenders to be spent along the way at various cathedrals. Once near the Middle Eastern holy land, Jewish communities would be pillaged. This would allow the crusaders to repay the moneylenders while enriching themselves at the same time.

      2. Ellen Anderson

        Well put, Steve. Because your background is in the arts you are able to see beyond the immediate moment. We can get a feeling of what life was like from historic novels and, in recent times, from books like Booth Tarkington’s ‘The Magnificent Amberson’s.’ That book won a Pulitzer back in the early part of the 20th Century. The description of how communities were impacted by the automobile are chilling.
        Prior to modern times the only people whose lives and thoughts were recorded were the very rich and powerful. Rural populations do not leave written works (Marx just hated peasants) but there are folk tales and examples from recent indigenous societies that our empire has destroyed.
        Misery is a human condition, but there is nothing more miserable than the impoverished urban masses who have had their lives and their traditions destroyed by industrialization – a system that has left most of humanity behind anyway.
        When I think about what has happened I wonder whether all of the amazing things we have “discovered” have been worth the price that our descendants will have to pay. I think it is incumbent upon us – and I believe that everyone reading and writing on these blogs is rich compared to most of humanity – to preserve and pass along the best of what we have learned and then to step aside. The internet will not be here forever. We have an unprecedented opportunity to link the minds of people all over the world and to try to leave something behind for the people who will come after us. We don’t know for sure that there will be extinction. I think we should assume that someone will remain to learn from the things we have done – both great and terrible.

  9. The Dork of Cork

    Looking at some very interesting transport data from Northern Ireland that highlights the different monetory environments withen this small island.
    N.I has a very small rail network of 211 miles but it has experienced continual growth in passenger numbers despite or indeed because of depression.

    I can look at N.I. Transport stats and see a continual rise of rail passenger numbers but I can’t seem to get southern Irish Data ….. am I missing something or is there a shutdown of info or what ?
    Using end of financial year results March 31 – I can see N.I. railway results

    Rail passenger journeys (millions) Y2009-10 :10m / Y2010 – 11 : 10.4m
    Passenger miles (millions) Y2009 -10 : 172.3m / Y2010 – 11 : 190.5m
    Passenger receipts (£thousands) Y2009 -10 : 28,461 / Y2010 -11 : 31,588

    The Year 2010/11 results are all record numbers.

    Meanwhile the more up to date oct / dec quarterly Y2011 are again showing strong growth over and above these figures while N.I. car registrations are declining and bus travel stagnating ( a clear sign of service substitution due to the UK monetory & fuel price envoirment)
    1. Weekly average rail passenger miles have increased 8% to 4.09m from 3.78m when compared to the corresponding quarter in 2010.
    2.Weekly average rail passenger journeys have increased 5% to .22Million from .21Million in the last quarter of 2010.
    3. Weekly average rail passenger receipts up by 5 % to .66 £Million from .63£M

    Meanwhile there appears to be a sort of southern irish C.S.O. blackout on transport stats – Am I missing something ?
    Anyway to put the N.I. rail passenger numbers in context in the year 2000/1
    Passenger numbers(millions) : 5.9
    Passenger miles (millions) : 141.1
    Passenger receipts (£,000s) : 14,126m
    So there is almost a doubling of passenger numbers from a decade ago.

    Meanwhile Irish domestic demand has dropped 26% from its peak !
    All activities including the energy efficient railways have declined in use (speaking from personnel experience rather then statistical data as now there is none)

    The Euro is a deeply evil currency – no effective good or service substitution is possible in southern Ireland because not enough medium of exchange is available – I imagine something similar is happening in Iberia about now.

    1. steve from virginia Post author

      Nobody is using sterling? I guess antipathy to all things English runs deep.

      Yea, the euro is diabolical. It’s not serving anyone’s interest now, not even the bankers’. The euro-oil connection is hard to let go of … or break. Few euros means very little fuel. This was a problem that did not exist in the 1930s when Europe was on the gold standard which was the euro predecessor. Eire can go off the euro but it will have to buy hard currency on an unfriendly currency market with which to buy fuel.

      Right now I suspect the European national central banks/treasuries are quietly issuing euros on their own accounts. This may be a reason why fuel prices have risen sharply. Of course, the cost of the fuel being larger than any benefits to be gained by the added euros. I have to get more info from Eurostat to confirm this suspicion.

      It looks if there is any ‘bright spot’ it is the railroads. Fortunately, they didn’t get to imitating the Americans and pull them all up and replace with highways.

      More later.

      1. Ellen Anderson

        It wasn’t for lack of trying. Back in the 60’s and 70’s the interstate highway system often followed the RR tracks (that had often been laid out next to rivers.) The I-95 Southwest Corridor in Massachusetts was designed to take out most of the Boston-Washington rail service. In some places it might have been a single track. South Station was being designed so as to limit the service as well. Community activists from the 128 suburbs to the heart of Boston organized with some sympathetic local politicians land and were able to get rid of two interstate highways and turn the corridor transit and community parks and gardens.

        Meanwhile the RR owners had been getting out of the passenger business as fast as possible. Penn Central put most of its ROWs up for sale. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts was able to use highway funds to buy the ROWs and worked to improve public transit.

        I listened to Repub. Governor, Francis Sargent’s speech in which he announced his decision not to build the highways. At the time I thought it didn’t go far enough. Today it sounds as radical as the communist manifesto.

        We had such high hopes after that. We were dumb because we didn’t understand enough about what was going on. All of us were college educated. Most of us had graduate degrees. I think we have all stayed active in some sort of community activism (and one of us got so active that he ended up in federal prison.)

  10. The Dork of Cork

    Yeah LTRO could be all about “domestic” CBs becoming national again.
    The Irish CB printed base money and gave it to Anglo a while back so that the Bond holders could escape (printing base money is ok in the eurozone if it saves bank bond holders).
    However the ECB wants us to pay this back – this would involve nationalised anglo paying the prom notes to the Irish Central Bank – they would therefore destroy the money reducing our money supply even further.
    However a temporty deal has been done – instead of paying off the money this year the money has been converted into a goverment bond now owned by Bank of ireland(not fully nationalised yet) to be payed off from next year.
    This commercial banks needs to suck off the states teat again.
    The cabal is rearranging the deckchairs.

    PS – the railways are the only growth Industry in the UK
    go to

    Scroll down to the bottom of this PDF doc and access the railway yearbook for 2010/11

    1. steve from virginia Post author

      However the ECB wants us to pay this back – this would involve nationalized anglo paying the prom notes to the Irish Central Bank – they would therefore destroy the money reducing our money supply even further.

      However a temporary deal has been done – instead of paying off the money this year the money has been converted into a government bond now owned by Bank of Ireland (not fully nationalized yet) to be payed off from next year.

      Lost sovereignty = bankruptcy/collapse. An Irish govt would say, “We will create euros to extinguish outstanding internal debts with no increase in the money supply,” and the EU sez, “No, you must borrow more from the bankers you already owe and steal the repayment from retirees, instead.” Bank-created debt is sacrosanct but government created money to pay off the debt is unacceptable: government for, by and about the banks and the bank bondholders.

      I’m convinced the only reason there isn’t an outright revolution in Europe right now is that citizens don’t grasp what is being done to them.

      They are also held hostage by their automobiles and the ‘utopia to come, tomorrow’. Interesting to watch human nature in action.

      The railroads and steamship companies had no way to prepare for the onslaught of the car and airline. Railroads were mismanaged and under capitalized since the Depression. Rails were unable to compete in Washington for the public subsidies that were starting to stream toward roads and air travel. Another factor was the ‘Robert Moses’ effect of charismatic public works promoters who built self-sustaining infrastructure empires. Moses pretty much single-handedly ruined New York City: autos, highways and giant housing projects. There were other ‘little Moses’ in other parts of the country, adding the wrecking ball and elevated expressway:

      1. The Dork of Cork

        One thing the Brits left us was a superb broad & narrow gauge railway system with a extensive tram network also.
        It was damaged in the war of Independence but it was mainly the bus that killed it from the 1930s on…….they basically ran down the service stripping parts as the decades went bye – until the 1960s when we had Beeching like copycat destruction….ripping up the lines
        It could not live withen the monetory system of the time anyhow – which was all about exploiting oil as quickly as possible.
        It was a shame really – much of the nodal settlement pattern was the last to go – after 1987 things went crazy.
        Before 1987 the Irish countryside was a beautiful but melancholy place….now it is just melancholy.
        (in 1986 the railways had long gone but everbody only had 900 / 1000cc cars .afterwards……)

        Go to this superb national map viewer of population patterns and growth from 2002 to 2006 to 2011

        People from outside don’t understand the scale of destruction – The entire Irish countryside has become a sort of sub rural mess….its not even suburban……subrural I like to call it.
        Populations of once compact cities such as Cork , Waterford have experienced a decline in population while car dependent huge blobs of landscape (nomans land) have experienced a 30+ % increase in just 5 years.

        We just don’t produce men with Balls who just don’t care what the Bastards think of them.
        If I could do that genetic engineering thingy I would splice and dice this mans bones with a certain Genoese Corsican family and see what comes out the other end.
        We just might get a leader
        Or at least Captain Billy Bones with a Glaswegian accent.

  11. enicar333

    “We went from okay to horrible in a hurry – now what ?”

    The answer has been placed there for all to see – embodied in The Georgia Guidestones. It is the Creator(s) message describing how the problems of humanity will be solved. It will be done so in the Creator (s) time frame, at their pace, and at their direction. WE would most likely not agree.

    There is a lot of misinformation out there, and some of the biggest misconceptions are embodied in modern religions, scientific dogma, scientific ignorance, and scientists refusing to acknowledge what is before their eyes. LOOK HERE!

    “For planet-hunters, that’s an especially tantalizing prospect. Ground- and space-based telescopes have discovered many hundreds of worlds orbiting stars other than the Sun — several thousand if you include likely but unconfirmed planets found by the orbiting Kepler probe. ”

    But NO! you insist – Earth is Center of the Universe! WELL, that untruth has already been put to rest. BUT – Earth is the center of the Bio-Universe! LOL, little Man, HOW WRONG YOU ARE!

    ONLY LIFE, begets LIFE! AND, the Universe is teeming with Life. Your disagreement with that fact does not change that fact. It only ascertains your human ignorance.

    Is Mankind a Primate? Scientists continually want to force evolutionary dogma even as they begin to play with genes, modify species, create new species and learn about gene selection and encoding. IF Man is a primate, why do Primates have 48 chromosone pairs – and Man has 46? Why is Mankind riddled with genetic defects, and animals not so much?

    “Sitchin wrote that Enki suggested that to relieve the Anunnaki, who had mutinied over their dissatisfaction with their working conditions, that primitive workers (Homo sapiens) be created by genetic engineering as slaves to replace them in the gold mines by crossing extraterrestrial genes with those of Homo erectus.[6][7] According to Sitchin, ancient inscriptions report that the human civilization in Sumer, Mesopotamia, was set up under the guidance of these “gods”, and human kingship was inaugurated to provide intermediaries between mankind and the Anunnaki (creating the “divine right of kings” doctrine). Sitchin believes that fallout from nuclear weapons, used during a war between factions of the extraterrestrials, is the “evil wind” described in the Lament for Ur that destroyed Ur around 2000 BC. Sitchin states the exact year is 2024 BC.[8] Sitchin says that his research coincides with many biblical texts, and that biblical texts come originally from Sumerian writings.”

    It’s all just ancient myths – Because we wise humans know so much better today.

    What would happen if we discovered radio beacons in the Universe? Would we recognize what they are? Or would dogmatic scientists ignore what stands clearly before them?

    “We have often noticed that perfectly-competent scientists lose their capacity for rational thinking when it comes to the subject of ETI actually encountered, as opposed to ETI theoretically considered. In this, scientists reveal their common humanity, and this human race has a deep fear of such an encounter.”

    What if Einstein is wrong? There is a growing body of evidence to suggest so – yet we will ignore the truth, and stick to the scientific dogma.

    “Einstein’s centenary has brought festivities, but also criticism. Cracks are appearing in what seemed to be Einstein’s firmly cemented reputation as the most celebrated scientist of the 20th century. Nasa asks whether Einstein was wrong about space travel and aging, articles critical of Einstein such as this one on the Brojon website are appearing here and there, reduced-speed-of-light experiments brought new questions.”

    IF we had contact with another Civilization – would it be shared with all – or be used by others for their own purposes? Would the aliens like us, or would Earth even be habitable for them? HERE is a very interesting man who claims to have met them – and he offers many intriguing thoughts and ideas. He even explains how they travel at superluminal speeds and explains quite well, and scientifically at the end of his lecture.

    We are merely destructive little animals in a human zoo. WE do posess the ability to rule by reason – some more than others. However, humans have passed laws that make that impossible, and label such people NAZI’s. People like I.M. Nobody endlessly wring their hands over the necessities of doing what is right for ALL humans, so, it will eventually be imposed upon us .

    Perhaps WHAT we are doing today will be used in a higher court of Universal Law to impose the coming conditions upon humanity – OR – used to decide if the HR is even allowed to continue in existence. The HR is a replicatable experiment – and Life exists throughout the Universe – it is only a disaster in your mind.

    1. enicar333

      The Ancient Gold Mines of South Africa

      Something amazing has been discovered in an area of South Africa, about 150 miles inland, west of the port of Maputo. It is the remains of a huge metropolis that measures, in conservative estimates, about 1500 square miles. It’s part of an even larger community that is about 10,000 square miles and appears to have been constructed — are you ready — from 160,000 to 200,000 BCE!”

    2. Ross

      I admire your determination to close the loop between resource overshoot and anthropomorphic ecocide, and the human extraterrestrial hybrid theory. There is some serious seduction to this narrative:
      -We are fallen. Helpless and used by our tormentors and we are blind in our prison. Utterly blind to the most Earth shattering secrets about free energy, time travel, space travel, galactic colonization.

      The Georgia Guidestones offer a Galactic Eugenics Platform. Reduce Population. Get Smart(er). Go Up. If only, we knew about the secrets we would stop worrying about ourselves, start caring about our collective future as a species on this planet (bastard lab-rat origins, or not).

      If those are 250,000 year old extraterrestrial gold mines in South Africa and we’re intergalactic slaves, so what does that matter as Civilization cum the American Empire collapses? Unless the ETs get so disturbed by how we ruthlessly devour each other, they’ll wait out the carnage and come teach the freezing and starving survivors keeping shelter from the wind how to read the Georgia Guidestones in Arabic or Cyrillic.

  12. Reverse Engineer

    “RE, I don’t know how to respond to your comment because it is so biased, and generally negative. What’s the point?

    At any time and place there are those who live better than others as is the case now. Is the present paradise? If so, prepare to reformulate all of your arguments because none of them will work here. -Steve

    Nested out above so I will restart here.

    I don’t make the case it is any better now Steve, I just make the case that 1850 and 1750 both were not really any better than today. Your statement that “At any time and place there are those who live better than others” is first off a canard, and second it reveals a tacit acceptance of the class division of haves and have nots in society. I find such acceptance to be abhorrent, so I’ll criticize it whether it occurred in 1750,1850,1950 or 2050.

    Such division is not timeless nor is it a natural state of affairs for Homo Sapiens, it’s just a manifestation of the development of Ag Society and the construction of Legal systems to enforce Private Property ownership of the resources of the Earth. Much more than the Carz, this is what you must remove from society before we can move on to a Better Tomorrow.


    1. Reverse Engineer

      No redirect? No reply to this? I AM disappointed.

      I guess I did not fall into the trap of claiming curent society is better than 1850 or 1750 and redirected the argument myself away from Carz and Energy to the deeper question of Ownership of Resources, so I am not such an easy target here for you.

      Steve, removing Carz from the economy resolves nothing other than very rapid wastage, but the wastage happens all the same as long as you run an economy which is not in balance with what nature provides on a daily basis, and then distribute out that bounty fairly to all. If some people live well in 1850, others live poorly. The whole paradigm is not any better than the current one.

      You really need to let go of the idea that life was better for most people before the Age of Oil, it was not. It is not Oil and our dependence on it that is the real source of the problem, it is the Ownership paradigm, with its concommitant Greed that causes a rapid depletion of local resource. MONEY is the ROOT of all Evil, and Money predates Oil and Carz by a long shot here. This is the problem we need to address, although certainly we will not be addresing it before the Carz have gone the way of the Dinosaur.


      1. Ellen Anderson

        If by money you mean borrowed money you have a point. The desert religions outlawed usury. Islam did not allow modern banking until they got oil so they “fell behind.” When the pope allowed the DeMedici’s to collect interest we were off to the races that lead to exploration, empire, oil and carz. That is at least part of the explanation, I have always thought.
        Didn’t Marx claim that the state would not “wither away” so long as capital was allowed to “circulate?” If capital is not circulating now I don’t know what it is doing.

      2. steve from virginia Post author

        What takes place after the current regime loses credibility and is retired is more likely to be an improvement over current conditions. Americans won’t live in caves in the future as they did not live in caves in the immediate past.

        Ours are attitude problems, not particularly resource- nor policy problems or any other kind. We resist making changes because we have convinced ourselves that all changes are fatal. This is false on its face: all the changes so far have not been particularly painful except for individuals. Why would ongoing changes be that much different?

        Elephants gone, humans thrive. Poor elephants. What comes next? Humans gone (maybe all of them), ground squirrels thrive. So it goes. BTW, all of this individual consequence business is ‘nature’. It’s been happening for hundreds of millions of years. No biggie.

        Humans are different from elephants. No human is surprised by the idea of death or the idea of his- or her own death. This is likely a big shock to the elephant who is doing GREAT one second then … POOF! Gone! Our attachment to the real is by way of ego and misplaced sense of ownership. Why misplaced? Because we ‘own’ the so-called ‘profits’ but push all the other ownership costs and responsibilities onto others: elephants, pensioners, dodo birds, mangroves, passenger pigeons, etc. “It’s all their fault!” yell the wannabe businessmen. Where to go with this idea? “It”s all the Fed’s fault, it’s all Monet’s fault, the Kaiser’s fault, the hated jew’s and nigger’s fault, the rich man’s fault.” All of this is incorrect, blaming the victim except for the rich man who should know better but who cannot escape the weight of his own interest.

        Greed almost pays as well today as it did during the ‘good ol’ days’ when a man and a copper mine or oil well could become really rich. Now? A bit less rich and the world hasn’t ended. Some folks are getting a handle on what getting rich means on the larger scale. The ‘rich idea’ is nothing more than another tool that if used properly can gain impressive results for those who can become/remain disinterested. Unlike the toys that masquerade as tools, the ‘rich idea’ does not run on fossil fuels. Upshot? Sorry, no doom today. Tomorrow, who knows, but the humanoids have been able to muddle along, they learn the hard way but they do learn. Changes aren’t fatal. Some of them are fun. The outlines of solutions appear here and there. Nothing is hopeless.

        Personally, the 19th century would have been a good time for someone like myself: I would employ myself as I did in this life, as a cabinet maker and builder and examine other things in my leisure. I would live in a more attractive and convenient city than I do now for there was no other kind … No computer but a library and books. I would frankly know more than I know now because more smart people, fewer academic ghettos: ‘smart’ wasn’t ‘acting white’ and stupid a ticket to Jay Leno or the GOP nomination.

        I don’t know how to specifically respond to your argument because I don’t know what it is you want me to say (so I can avoid saying it). Subjective is … subjective. Things will become ‘better’ or they will become ‘worse’ or they will stay the same. I like my argument that society will become ‘better’ as certain conditions deteriorate (less machines, fewer people, better agriculture, fewer contrived distractions) and people are left with inner rather than outer resources. Unlike the elephants, we can foresee our own deaths. We can take steps and can alter our destinies.

        BTW, societies are judged by their artifacts, not by their arguments for destroying/degrading them.

      3. Reverse Engineer

        “What takes place after the current regime loses credibility and is retired is more likely to be an improvement over current conditions. Americans won’t live in caves in the future as they did not live in caves in the immediate past.”-Steve

        You’re one of the few Doomers I have read who makes the case that things will IMPROVE here once the current system crashes. It does of course depend on what you define improvement as.

        Far as living in caves goes, not a whole lot of people lived that way in any era, there just aren’t that many caves around. Like Birds who build Nests, Homo Sapiens has been able to build his own shelters long before they was any sort of Civilization at all.

        While we will not be moving into caves, it is also unlikely we will be living in McMansions much longer either. What lies between the McMansion and the Cave? Many things of course, and precisely to which one we migrate on the assumption of species survival is the question at hand here.

        It seems to me you think/hope for a migration back to around a 1750s era style of life, just without the nasty aspects of slavery, where competent Carpenters out in the boonies can lead an expansive Intellectual life, sort of like John Harrison, the Wooden Clockmaker who won the Longitude Prize in the end with his Clock, much to the consternation of Sir Isaac Newton and the rest of the University Elite of Scientists and Astronomers.

        Sadly, I think this is an unlikely outcome, though I would not mind much seeing it myself. Even 1750 was a very energy dependent era, the Dutch had pretty much stripped all their Peat bogs to provide energy for the Glass making industry and so forth. If it had not been for the Steam Engine and the ability to pump water from mines, accessing the seams of coal in Jolly Old England would not have been possible. An energy stripped world puts you back a good deal further than 1750.

        I can’t say how quick the transition off high energy dependence will be, or if we might plateau briefly at 1750, but this seems unlikely to me. If we are destined for a Better Tomorrow rather than following the Dinosaurs down the path to Extinction, I do not think it will be one of 1750s era Intellectual Carpenters like John Harrison. Much more likely to me seems a neolithic lifestyle similar to that which the Inuit up here lived until for many of them less than 100 years ago. It is not an energy dependent lifestyle. 1750 was. We cannot go back there for any great length of time, the resources are not there to do it. At least not with anywhere near the current population they are not, and such a massive Die Off has its own set of repercussions.

        What do I want you to say? Nothing other than what you already say, which is your opinion. I’m just stating my opinion, which contradicts it.


      4. Ellen Anderson

        It is all relative when it gets down to the personal level. Rats are doing well, codfish not so well.
        When we were young my brother told me that he would have preferred to live in Russia before the revolution. Turns out he had just seen the Eisenstein movie, Ivan the Terrible where they were pouring gold coins over the prince’s head. He just assumed he would have been of the princely class!
        I hate doing housework and dishes so I always envied my grandmother who had live-in help. OTOH, she couldn’t vote, couldn’t cook and had to have been pretty scared about childbirth. A small portion of the world’s female population has got to be way better off today.
        I share your dislike of carz and all the ugly trappings of modernity. I think we (if you mean life in general and not just rich westerners) will be far better off without them and we should hope for some real change very soon.

      5. Reverse Engineer

        As long as you were in the class of Haves in any period of Ag Society, your life was probably pretty good, although granted for women in the early years not so good as men. However, certainly Cleopatra lived a far better life than 1000s of amle slaves under her command.

        When we look back into history, we almost always picture ourselves in the class of relative Haves for the society. All the stuff written that survives is mainly from educated people who were members of the Have class of their day.

        However, you still can read the works of Dickens, or even Hans Christian Andersen who is known for writing Children’s Stories. Ever read the “Little Matchseller?” Its about a little girl so poor she goes out to sell Matches on a cold night and freezes to death. In 1850 Amsterdam, that probably happenned all the time.

        There but for the Grace of God go I, or you. This has been the nature of society since the Dawn of Agriculture, and its just not a good way to be. It has to be stopped, and it will be stopped, one way or the other. One can only hope we stop it before we auto-extinguish ourselves.


  13. The Dork of Cork

    As the Madrid Lisbon high speed line has been cancelled (1,001,172 passengers from Madrid-Barajas airport (January 2011-October 2011)
    It appears the guys in Basel still have a few bob to announce its biggest tram order in its 118 year Tram history.

    The euro periphery is being stripped bare.
    If Spain or Portugal (Iberia) were operating national currencies their half empty trains would be full to the brim and their domestic flights token first class affairs.

    1. enicar333

      Mr. Dork of Cork – Ireland made the International Headlines portion of my local little crummy paper, and I see that the Irish people are being introduced to the joy of property taxes and will soon be stripped bare of their homes and livelihoods.

      “The charge this year is a flat-fee (EURO)100 ($130) per dwelling, but is expected to rise dramatically next year once Ireland starts to vary the charge based on a property’s estimated value. Anti-tax campaigners have urged the public to ignore the tax demand, arguing that the government doesn’t have the power to collect it.

      Ireland imposed the charge as part of its ongoing negotiations with the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund, which in 2010 provided Ireland a (EURO)67.5 billion ($90 billion) credit line to pay its bills through 2013.

      The donors require Ireland as part of the deal to reduce its annual deficits by slashing spending and raising taxes, and specified Ireland’s lack of property-based tax as an obvious target.

      In 2011, Ireland posted a deficit of 10 percent of gross domestic product, hopes to lower that to 8.6 percent this year and reach the bailout accord goal of 3 percent by 2016.”

      WELCOME to the JOY of PROPERTY TAX Mr. Dork of Cork!

      OF course, that means that you have been liberated from the EVILS of private property rights, and now the land is held in common trust – to be milked for the benefit of all – or so they say. HERE in America – Ownership means nothing – because control is everything. Our property tax only goes up – and the public employees have formed a voting block with political power to elect those who will raise it and pass the increase onto the paychecks of the public employees.

      They use two methods to constantly raise the amount each and every year – if your property value increases, the mil rate stays the same, or perhaps decreases slightly; if your property value decreases, the mil rate may stay the same or go up; whichever of the two scenarios, it allows government to enact a constant increase while trumpeting whichever news best fits it’s agenda. OF course, if, after 3 years, you have not paid your property tax – the local taxing authorities remove you from the land, and sell it for taxes. IS THAT NOT SLAVERY? YOU MUST PRODUCE FOR THE KING, WHO CONTROLS THE LAND, AND PAY IN THE COIN OF THE REALM, OR LOSE YOUR LAND.

      Here in America, ownership is a joke. Control is everything. If your property is worth, say, $100,000 – and you can’t pay the taxes, which, for example, after 3 years = $3,000 and the local taxing authority takes your land for taxes – don’t they owe you $97,000 – IF you “owned” the land? LOL. What a farce America is.

      NO, NO, in America you get title to land, held in feif by the State, which claims eminent domain! If you try to defend that title, well, the local SWAT Team will arrive and give you the freedom of the grave, if you don’t voluntarily cooperate.

      OF course, since property taxes are based on what the local taxing authority says your property is worth – there are endless arguments and disagreements of what that actual number is. Here, you may ask the government for review, but their word is final. SALE PRICE HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH ASSESSED VALUE!

      Steve suggested that the Euro was a criminal Enterprise – CLEARLY, IT IS. This is just more proof of the intent and goal of your Masters.

      Enjoy your new chains of bondage.

  14. The Dork of Cork

    Yes it really started in the 1970s…… just before and after admission into the “club”. EU subsidies began to favour the larger farmers…….. all the small sub 50 acre farmers gave up after a while……much of the hedgerows were cleared to make larger more efficient farms , a sheep head subsidy created massive erosion on our hillsides…… fishermen lost their fishing grounds……..
    In the 80s (we left the sterling zone in 79) we were given a central bank…… it was never really a proper CB rather then our previous currency board – it was merely given on condition we integrated with the core…… meanwhile Sterling and continental currencies diverged(Sterling strengthened) in the 80s (North Sea oil boom).

    We therefore had a major recession in the 80s so as to integrate – after 1987/88 we had EMU ….. the banking system created much more Consumer credit / Grot
    After 1994/5 the Euro really got going…..more credit…… 2002….the physical currency was introduced….. 2004….eastern european migration….. more credit…….. 2007 ……implosion. – although society withen Ireland had imploded 20 years before 2007 – the economy always follows eventually.
    We now have a major settlement distribution problem – I have advocated a higher fuel tax rather then a property tax or even better a ejection from the Eurozone as I fear the power of property taxes.
    There is no doubt in my mind that a great dark power has been plotting against us for some time now – its got to stage now where little can be saved.
    Many of us are strangers in a now strange land.
    To use a English expression the Shires have been scoured.

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