Debt: The Key Factor Connecting Energy and the Economy

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Published on the Our Finite World on May 2, 2016

Debt_Volcano

Discuss this article at the Economics Table inside the Diner

There are many who believe that the use of energy is critical to the growth of the economy. In fact, I am among these people. The thing that is not as apparent is that growth in energy consumption is dependent on the growth of debt. Both energy and debt have characteristics that are close to “magic” with respect to the growth of the economy. Economic growth can only take place when growing debt (or a very close substitute, such as company stock) is available to enable the use of energy products.

The reason why debt is important is because energy products enable the creation of many kinds of capital goods, and these goods are often bought with debt. Commercial examples would include metal tools, factories, refineries, pipelines, electricity generation plants, electricity transmission lines, schools, hospitals, roads, gold coins, and commercial vehicles. Consumers also benefit because energy products allow the production of houses and apartments, automobiles, busses, and passenger trains. In a sense, the creation of these capital goods is one form of “energy profit” that is obtained from the consumption of energy.

The reason debt is needed is because while energy products can indeed produce a large “energy profit,” this energy profit is spread over many years in the future. In order to actually be able to obtain the benefit of this energy profit in a timeframe where the economy can use it, the financial system needs to bring forward some or all of the energy profit to an earlier timeframe. It is only when businesses can do this, that they have money to pay workers. This time shifting also allows businesses to earn a financial profit themselves. Governments indirectly benefit as well, because they can then tax the higher wages of workers and businesses, so that governmental services can be provided, including paved roads and good schools.

Debt and Other Promises

Clearly, if the economy were producing only items for current consumption–for example, if hunters and gatherers were only finding food to eat and sticks to burn, so that they could cook this food, then there would be no need for the time shifting function of debt. But there would likely still be a need for promises, such as, “If you will hunt for food, I will gather plant food and care for the children.” With the use of promises, it is possible to have division of labor and economies of scale. Promises allow a business to pay workers at the end of the month, instead of every day.

As an economy becomes more complex, its needs change. At first, central markets can be used to facilitate the exchange of goods. If one person brings more to the market than he takes home, a record of his credit balance can be kept on a clay tablet for use another day. This approach works as long as the credit can only be used at that particular market. If the credit balance is to be used elsewhere, or if the balance is to hold its value for a period of years, a different, more flexible approach is needed.

Over the years, economies have developed a wide range of debt and debt-like products. For the purpose of this discussion, I am including all of them as debt, broadly defined. One type is what we think of as “money.” Money is really a portable promise for a share of the future output of the economy. It can provide time shifting, if this money is held for a time before it is spent.

Another type of debt is a loan with a fixed term, such as a mortgage or car loan. Such a loan provides time shifting, allowing something to be paid for over a significant share of its life. Equity funding for a company is not really a loan, but it, too, allows time shifting. Those purchasing shares of stock do so with the expectation that they will be repaid in the future through price appreciation and dividends. It thus acts much like a loan, for the purpose of this discussion. There are many other types of promises regarding future funding that are closely related–for example, government loan guarantees, derivatives, ETFs, and government pension promises. All indirectly add to the willingness of people and businesses to spend money now–someone else has somehow made promises that remove uncertainty regarding future income flows or future payment obligations.

The Magic Things Debt Does

It is not immediately obvious how important debt is. In fact, neoclassical economists have tended to ignore the role of debt. I see several, almost magic, ways that debt helps the economy.

  1. Debt brings forward the date when an individual or company can afford to purchase capital goods. Without debt, the only way to afford such a purchase would be to save up the full price in advance. Using debt, a business can add a new machine to allow it to produce more goods before the business saves up money from its prior operations. A young person can afford to buy a house or car, long before he could save up funds for such a purchase. With the help of debt, the price of capital goods can be financed over much of their working life.
  2. Adding debt raises the prices of commodities. Commodities, such as lumber, iron, copper, and oil are what we use to make cars, houses, and factories. “Demand” for these commodities rises because more people and businesses can afford to buy capital goods that use these energy products. Often these capital goods also use energy products over their lifetime (for example, gasoline to operate a car), so there is a long-term impact on the demand for energy products, in addition to the demand associated with making the capital goods. Of course, with higher prices, it becomes profitable to extract oil and other energy resources from more marginal areas of production. More companies enter the field. As long as prices remain high, they are able to earn a profit.
  3. Adding debt stimulates the economy, almost like turning the heat up on a stove. When debt is added for any purpose–even starting a war–it starts a whole chain of purchases, each of which acts to stimulate the economy. If a young person takes out a loan to buy a car, the purchase of the car leads to the salesman having more money to buy goods for his family. The company selling the cars is able to make a bigger profit, which the business can reinvest or pay to shareholders as dividends. The purchase of the car leads to more demand for metals used to make the car, and thus tends to increase the number of mining jobs. Each new worker in turn is able to buy more goods and services, starting a beneficial cycle that gradually radiates out through the economy.
  4. Adding debt tends to lead to higher asset prices. Clearly, (from Item 2), adding debt can raise the price of commodities. Adding debt can also make it possible for more people to afford real estate and investments in the stock market. For example, Japan greatly ramped up its debt level between 1965 and 1989.

     

    Figure 1. Annual growth in non-financial debt (in Yen), separated into private and government debt, based on Bank of International Settlements data.

     

    Figure 1. Annual growth in non-financial debt (in Yen), separated into private and government debt, based on Bank of International Settlements data.

     

    During this time, a major price bubble occurred in land prices (Figure 2).

    Figure 2. Land Prices in Japan. Figure from Of Two Minds by Charles Hugh Smith.

     

    Figure 2. Land Prices in Japan. Figure from Of Two Minds by Charles Hugh Smith.

     

    There is a reason why this bubble could occur. Because of the stimulating effect that debt had on the economy, more people had the wealth to buy real estate, especially if this too was sold on credit. Once private debt levels stopped rising rapidly, price levels crashed both for land and stock prices. TheBubbleBubble.com explains what happened: “By 1989, Japanese officials became increasingly concerned with the country’s growing asset bubbles and the Bank of Japan decided to tighten its monetary policy.” Doing so popped both the home and stock price bubbles.

  5. Adding debt adds to GDP. GDP is a measure of the goods and services produced during a period. Many of these goods and services are bought using debt, so it is not surprising that adding more debt tends to add more GDP. The amount of GDP added is less than the amount of debt added, even when inflation growth is considered as part of GDP.

     

    Figure 3. United States increase in debt over five year period, divided by increase in GDP (with inflation!) in that five year period. GDP from Bureau of Economic Analysis; debt is non-financial debt, from BIS compilation for all countries.

     

    Figure 3. United States increase in debt over five-year period, divided by increase in GDP (including inflation) in that five-year period. GDP from Bureau of Economic Analysis; debt is non-financial debt, from BIS compilation for all countries.

     

    The general tendency is toward the need for an increasing amount of debt per dollar of GDP added. This is especially the case when oil prices are high. In the US, the ratio of non-financial debt to GDP added was almost down to 1:1 for a time, back when oil prices were less than $20 per barrel (in today’s dollars).

  6. Adding debt tends to increase wealth disparity.  Adding debt tends to increasingly divide an economy into “haves” and “have-nots.” Many of the “haves” own the means of production, including an ever-increasing amount of capital goods, and thus can earn profits and dividends from these capital goods. Others are high-level officials in businesses and the government who earn high salaries. Interest payments also tend to transfer payments from the poor to the more wealthy. We might say that the common laborers are increasingly “frozen out” of the economy that otherwise is heating up. This shift started to take place in the United States about 1981.

     

     

    Figure 3. Chart comparing income gains by the top 10% to income gains by the bottom 90% by economist Emmanuel Saez. Based on an analysis IRS data, published in Forbes.

     

    Figure 4. Chart comparing income gains by the top 10% to income gains by the bottom 90% by economist Emmanuel Saez. Based on an analysis of IRS data, published in Forbes.

     

  7. Adding debt is something that governments can influence, either by lowering interest rates or by borrowing the money themselves.  Actions by governments to reduce interest rates can be effective, because they lower monthly payments that borrowers need to make to take out a loan of a given amount. Thus, they tend to encourage more borrowing. In Figure 5, below, note that the decrease in interest rates in 1981 corresponds precisely with the rise in debt to GDP ratios is Figure 3 and the shift in income patterns in Figure 4.

     

    Figure 4. Ten year treasury interest rates, based on St. Louis Fed data.

     

    Figure 5. Ten year treasury interest rates, based on St. Louis Fed data.

     

    Figure 6 later in this post shows that changes in Quantitative Easing (QE) (which affects interest rates and the level of the US dollar relative to other currencies) also correspond to sharp changes in oil prices. Changes in the level of the dollar also affect demand for oil. See a recent post related to this issue.

What Goes Wrong as More Debt Is Added?

It is clear from the discussion so far that quite a few things go wrong. These are a few additional items:

1. There are limits to government manipulation of debt levels.  First, interest rates eventually drop so low that they become negative in some countries. Negative interest rates tend to cause bank profitability to drop and lead to hoarding by those who planned to use savings for retirement.

Second, government borrowing doesn’t work as well at stimulating the economy as investments made by the private sector. A likely reason is that private sector investments are made when the borrower believes that the return on the investment will be high enough to pay back the debt with interest, and still make a profit. Government investments often do not meet this standard. Some reports indicate that Japan’s government has used borrowed money to fund bridges to nowhere and houses with no one home. China’s centrally directed economy seems to lead to similar over-borrowing problems. Chinese businesses also borrow to cover interest on prior loans.

2. Ratios of debt to GDP tend to rise, worrying government leaders. Debt is a way of accessing the benefits of Btus of energy, in advance of the time they are really available. As the amount of easy-to-extract oil depletes, the cost of oil extraction gradually rises. Unfortunately, the amount of “work” a barrel of oil can perform–for example, how far it can make a truck travel–doesn’t rise correspondingly. As a result, the higher price simply reflects increasing inefficiency of extraction, and thus the need to use a larger share of the economy’s output to extract oil. The amount of debt needed to keep GDP rising keeps growing, in part because oil is becoming higher priced to extract, and in part because goods that use oil in their production also tend to rise in cost. As a result, the ratio of debt to GDP tends to spiral upward.

3. Rising debt allows for a temporary false valuation of the benefit of energy products. The true value of oil and other energy products comes primarily from the Btus of energy they provide, such as how far a truck can be made to travel. Thus we would expect that the true value of energy products would remain relatively constant over time. If anything, the value of energy products will tend to rise by a small amount (say, 1% per year) as technology improvements lead to growing efficiency in their use.

What we think of as the magic hand of the economy determines a price for commodities at all times, based on “supply” and “demand.” This price clearly is not very close to the future energy profit that the energy products will actually provide, because it tends to vary widely over time. We don’t know what the true value of a barrel of oil to society is. If the true value is $100 per barrel (in today’s money), then back when oil prices were $10 or $20 per barrel (in today’s money), there would have been $80 to $90 (equal to $100 minus the actual price) of “energy profit” that could be pumped back into the economy as productivity gains for workers, interest on debt, and dividends on stock, tax revenue, and money for new investment. The economy could (and did) grow quickly. There was less need for added debt, because goods made with oil were cheap. Wages for workers could rise rapidly, as they did in the 1950 to 1968 period (Figure 4).

If prices approach the true value of oil (assumed to be $100 per barrel), the extra energy profit would pretty much disappear. The economy would increasingly become “hollowed out.”  Productivity gains that lead to wage gains would mostly disappear. Businesses would find it hard to earn adequate profits, and would cut back on dividends. Some companies might need to borrow money in order to pay dividends. World economic growth would slow.

Prices can even temporarily overshoot their true value to the economy, then drop sharply back. This happens because prices are set by demand, and demand depends on a combination of wage levels and debt levels. Oil prices can be high for a while, if borrowing is temporarily high, and then fall back as it becomes clear that profitable investments are not really available if oil is at such a high price level.

4. Wages of non-elite workers tend to drop too low. Workers play a very special role in the economy: they both (a) provide the labor for the economy and (b) act as consumers for the economy. If workers aren’t earning enough, there is a problem with many of them not being able to buy the goods and services the economy produces. This is especially the case for purchases such as homes and cars, which are often bought using debt. Indirectly, this lack of ability to afford the output of the system puts a downward pressure on the price of commodities, particularly energy commodities. Prices may fall below the cost of production, or may not rise high enough.

Figure 6. World oil supply and prices based on EIA data.

 

Figure 6. World oil supply and prices based on EIA data.

The reason that wages of the less educated, non-managerial workers tend to lag behind is related to the issue of diminishing returns. A workaround is a more “complex” society, with bigger businesses, bigger government, more capital goods, and more debt. In some cases, manufacturing is shifted to parts of the world with lower wages. Non-elite workers increasingly find themselves with too small a share of the output of the economy. Figure 7 shows some influences that tend to lead to too low wages for non-elite workers.

Figure 7. Illustration by author of why an economy that doesn't grow leads to falling wages for workers.

 

Figure 7. Illustration by author of why an economy that doesn’t grow leads to falling wages for workers. All amounts are guess-timates, to show a general principle.

When wages for a large share of workers drop too low, there is a problem with workers not having enough money to buy goods like cars and houses. The economy tends to contract. This is a different form of too low Energy Return on Energy Invested (EROEI) than most people think of. In my view, low return on human labor is the most important type of EROEI. Falling wages of a large share of workers can lead to economic collapse, because there are not enough buyers for the output of the system.

5. Eventually, debt defaults become a problem. As the world becomes more divided into “haves” and “have-nots,” falling ability to repay a debt becomes more of a problem. To some extent, this happens at the individual level, with auto loans, student debt, and mortgages. If commodity prices fall or stay too low, it happens to commodity producers, including oil producers. It also happens to countries, especially to those who are dependent on commodity exports.

The rise in the cost of oil extraction is another factor. As the cost of extraction begins to exceed the benefit of oil to the economy (assumed above to be $100 per barrel), the energy profit from oil is no longer sufficient to allow the economy to grow as in the past. Without economic growth, it becomes much harder to repay debt with interest.

Figure 7. In a period of economic decline (Scenario 2), the amount a debtor has left over after repaying debt plus interest is disproportionately large, leaving the debtor with inadequate funds for paying other expenses. In a period of economic growth (Scenario 1), the overall growth in incomes tends to compensate for the need to pay back the debt with interest.

 

Figure 8. In a period of economic decline (Scenario 2), the amount a debtor has left over after repaying debt plus interest is disproportionately large, leaving the debtor with inadequate funds for paying other expenses. In a period of economic growth (Scenario 1), the overall growth in incomes tends to compensate for the need to pay back the debt with interest.

6. At some point, we reach peak debt. The economy acts like a pump. As long as there are sufficient energy profits coming through the system (based on $100 per barrel minus the actual oil price, in our example), wages can rise and corporate profits can rise. Asset prices can rise, and energy prices can stay high. Once these energy profits start falling back, wages stagnate and business profits decline. Businesses cut back on borrowing, because they see fewer profitable opportunities for investment. Individuals cut back on borrowing, because with their lower wages, it becomes more difficult to buy a house or car. Governments try to fight declining demand for debt, but eventually reach limits of the economy’s tolerance for negative interest rates.

Once debt begins contracting, the contraction tends to bring down commodity prices. This is a huge problem for commodity producers, because they need prices that are high enough to cover their cost of production. Ultimately, falling debt, together with falling wages, and lack of energy profit have the potential to bring down the system.

Conclusion

The situation we are facing today is one in which growing debt has been holding up oil prices and other commodity prices for a long time. We are now reaching limits on this process, as evidenced by growing wealth disparity, low commodity prices, and the frantic actions of government leaders around the world regarding slow economic growth and the need for more stimulus. These issues are becoming major ones in the upcoming US political election.

Those studying oil issues from an EROEI perspective tend to miss the connection with debt, because EROEI analysis strips out timing differences. In my view, debt is essential to oil extraction, because it brings forward an estimate of the value of the oil and other energy products, so that businesses of all kinds can make use of the “energy profit” in paying their employees and in paying their taxes. Most people don’t think of the issue this way.

In this article, I suggest a different way of thinking about the limit we are reaching–oil prices can’t rise above some price limit without adversely affecting the economy. It is the savings below this limit that aid productivity growth and government funding. Perhaps researchers should be examining this price limit approach more carefully. This is not the same approach as EROEI analysis, but has the advantage of having fewer “boundary issues.”  It also offers a check for reasonableness of EROEI indications developed through conventional analysis. If an energy product needs a government subsidy, it is doubtful that that energy product is really providing an energy profit.

 

One Response to Debt: The Key Factor Connecting Energy and the Economy

  • Debt:

    The Key Factor Connecting Energy & The Economy

    I know from past exchanges on Gail Tverberg's Web site that she likes to use Hanlon's Razor presumptions, in order to avoid the perspective that debt controls are backed by death controls. She does NOT like to consider that debt slavery systems were DELIBERATELY DESIGNED!

    "If history shows anything, it is that there’s no better way to justify relations founded on violence, to make such relations seem moral, than by reframing them in the language of debt — above all, because it immediately makes it seem that it’s the victim who’s doing something wrong."

    David Graerber

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-04-22/practical-utopian’s-guide-coming-collapse-david-graeber-phenomenon-bullhit-jobs

    A Practical Utopian’s Guide To The Coming Collapse: David Graeber On "The Phenomenon Of Bull$hit Jobs

    “The control is so ubiquitous that we don’t see it.” We don’t see, either, how the threat of violence underpins society, he claims. “The rarity with which the truncheons appear just helps to make violence harder to see.”

    Indeed, when thinking about "debt" one of the interesting sources that I have found is David Graerber, whose background was anthropology, rather than economics, and some which can be freely accessed here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZIINXhGDcs

    David Graeber, DEBT: The First 5,000 Years

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ItI4pXX5E14

    Debt, The First 5000 Years Audiobook

    The Real Reason Money Was Created?

    "Almost everyone was taught that money was invented to replace the messy business of barter. … But economist Charles Goodhart – a former member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee – anthropologist David Graeber, and other experts on the history of money, say that this is a myth. Instead, they say that money was invented to finance war, and to keep score while armies went about pillaging and looting."

    Throughout most of human history
    slavery systems were the basis of
    the actual economic systems, that
    reflect the reality of "agreements."

    Slavery was based on agreements:

    "Do what I say, or I will kill you."

    The real history of the development of petroleum resources, which became the most important energy source, was totally wound up in the history of war, which facts were amusingly presented in this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GIpm_8v80hw

    Robert Newman – History of Oil

    The article above by Tverberg (as do all of her other articles that I am aware of) mostly manages to discuss the problems of debt and oil without mentioning military history and death controls. However, David Graeber's History of Debt makes the point that the realities of violence have ended up being expressed through the language of debt, while, of course, that applies to petroleum!

    After "slavery" was supposed to have been ended,
    the debt slavery systems were based on realities
    whereby corrupted governments used the powers
    to tax, and to enforce legal tender legislation,
    in ways that fiat money, made from nothing,
    mostly by private banks, enslaved societies.

    "Borrowing"

    "MONEY" MADE OUT OF NOTHING!

    “The process by which banks create money is so simple that the mind is repelled.”

    — John Kenneth Galbraith

    To those not focused on FRAUDS ENFORCED,

    "MONEY IS MAGIC."

    That definition raises issues of what is "magic."

    As far as I know,

    Nobody actually makes something from nothing, and nobody actually sends something to nothing.

    All the "magic" is based on some deception.

    In that sense, I agree that our "money"
    is "magic," because that is only tricks!

    Our monetary system is based on "magic tricks"
    which work because the magicians control the
    police and army, to force everyone to agree!

    Bankers' bookkeeping is magical mathematics.

    THE REASON THAT MONETARY SYSTEMS WORK
    IS DUE TO THE HISTORY OF WARFARE & POLICE.

    On larger scales, when societies did NOT agree,
    then they engaged in conflicts, until "agreeing,"
    due to different groups being beaten into the
    states of submission, or extinction, by others.

    On smaller scales, the legal systems, and police,
    would use force to require people to then agree.

    We are able to use money to buy things,
    that is inside the social habits created by
    the history of those social reinforcements.

    The larger scale conflicts created sovereign states,
    within which operated those smaller scale conflicts,
    that were resolved by enforcing their "rule of law."

    Since all political economy was inside of our human ecology, which operated through the maximum possible triumphant lies, the real systems, which were metaphorically the relationships between the Vicious Wolves, and the Zombie Sheeple, were also basically a "BIG DADDYISM," AS PROMOTED TO THE CHILDISH.

    One of the headings the article from Tverberg was:

    "The Magic Things Debt Does"

    That "magic" was due to the ways that the debt controls were backed by the death controls. That did NOT happen due to incompetent stupidity, but rather was deliberately designed and implemented by the best organized gangsters, the international banksters. After they did that for Centuries, it then appears like their political puppets, and enough of the masses of muppets that vote for those puppets, are incompetent and stupid. However, that sociopolitical situation did NOT happen by accident.

    While there is no doubt that Tverberg was superficially correct that The Key Factor Connecting Energy & Economy IS Debt, like many others, such as Chris Martenson, Tverberg does not engage in deeper analysis of the death controls that made and maintained the debt controls. Indeed, in general, it continues to be too typical for people to rely upon Hanlon's Razor kinds of presumptions, despite that they are thereby acting with willful blindness towards the abundance of historical evidence. Doing so enables those doing that to avoid having to discuss the historical roles of the murder systems in backing up the monetary systems that controlled access to natural resources.

    To deliberately ignore that what is happening is deliberately designed makes it possible to engage in much "nicer" levels of abstract analysis, which can then present themselves publicly without having to admit and address the central role of the death controls, behind the debt controls, which then are the central roles in the relationships of the economy and environmental energy sources.

    By definition, the limits to growth, manifesting as diminishing returns, will require changes in the death controls. However, the established systems are based upon the long history of successful warfare based upon deceits and treacheries, becoming the history of successful finance based upon enforcing frauds. Thus, those established systems are operated by the best available professional hypocrites, and that includes most of the controlled opposition groups, which tend to deliberately refuse to discuss the degree to which the death control systems were deliberately designed.

    It is only after life exists that there can be death. Therefore, by definition, the death controls are secondary to the existence of life. In that context, differential reproduction rates are overall more important in the longer term than the other more blatant forms of death controls. However, I endeavour to develop a language based upon UNITARY MECHANISMS, wherein everything that we call "birth controls" are actually forms of death controls.

    Being able to select FOR what will reproduce is inside the context of being able to select for what will NOT be reproduced. The language of UNITARY MECHANISMS tends to appear paradoxical, because the source of everything is the conservation of energy. Hence, all life forms are toroidal vortices, like whirlpools in the water, or tornadoes in the air. Living beings are entropic pumps of environmental energy flows, which can create more of themselves. However, they are always transitory forms of energy, which itself continues to flow throughout. Therefore, NO ultimate "death."

    The language that "we" use is the biggest bullies' bullshit language, based upon maximizing the DUALITIES of false fundamental dichotomies between life versus death. The ways that we talk about thermodynamics and information theory have deeply suffered from compromises with the biggest bullies' bullshit world view. The principle of the conservation of energy is not taken seriously enough. The concept of entropy has had its meaning inverted.

    All of that makes better discussions of the hyper-complicated civilization operating through apparently infinite tunnels of deceits and frauds extremely problematic. Within that context, "Life Controls (who gets to breed) rather than Death Controls (who is being killed)," are important qualifications. However, reproduction depends upon access to natural resources, which has developed to be mediated through the money systems (which are backed up by the murder systems.) Ultimately, of course, they are inseparable. Although the murders are relatively rare, their influence is pervasive. The most important murders, as far as their surrounding longer term consequences went, were the assassinations of politicians that could not otherwise be bribed or intimidated.

    The banksters would not be able to control governments if they did not occasionally pay for the relatively rare assassinations of politicians that were a threat to the banksters' agenda. Of course, there are lots of lesser ways to discredit or destroy politicians who refused to be the banksters' puppets, since the masses of muppets that vote for them have been brainwashed to believe in the banksters' bullshit for generation after generation, HOWEVER, the relatively rare assassinations are the ultimate forms of murder that back up the money.

    The political economy operates as fractal patterns of the methods of organized crime, because those are what correspond closely with living as entropic pumps of environmental energy flows. Most of the actions of the various levels of "economic hitmen" work through bribery and intimidation. However, that intimidation is effective because of the relative rare examples of assassinations, which can become mass murders through military invasions in some cases.

    Any "death" opens the way for another life. The energy continues to flow. It is the flow of energy which is life. The deaths are only of the forms those flows take, through the forms of toroidal vortices, that appear in that ocean of energy.

    We are STUCK having to use a language of DUALITIES, in order for any information to have relative value. However, the biggest bullies have promoted the relative usefulness of those DUALITIES to be presented as false fundamental dichotomies, which then relates to the various impossible ideals found in all publicly significant religions and ideologies.

    The source of those impossible ideals is the conservation of energy. However, we have been taught to approach that in the most absurdly backwards ways. Things actually work as general energy systems, and they appear to work perfectly, in the sense that energy is conserved. Human consciousness is based upon relative SUBTRACTIONS, from which then follows relative ROBBERIES. What I am recommending are asymptotic approaches towards more creative syntheses of post-modernizing science with ancient mysticism. Those are the ways to try to think using more UNITARY MECHANISMS, based upon understanding human beings and civilization as manifestations of general energy systems.

    Within that context, the relative DUALITIES are always ONLY relative. However, most of the political problems are due to those relative dichotomies becoming promoted as fundamental dichotomies. That includes the ways that the concept of entropy was inverted, in order to make it appear to be the opposite of energy. Therefore, as we make some progress in better understanding human beings and civilization according to the ideas of thermodynamics and information theory, almost all of that continues to suffer from the same presumptions found in all publicly significant, old-fashioned, religions and ideologies, which all developed as forms of controlled opposition, within the systems that were made and maintained by the biggest bullies, which have become the banksters.

    Therefore, it is correct that "Life Controls (who gets to breed) rather than Death Controls (who is being killed)" are more important, in that there is only actually LIFE, there is no death, except relatively, because there is only the flow of energy, which goes through various forms of toroidal vortices within surrounding ocean of energy, and which toroidal vortices are nothing else but infinite, entangled loops, of energy from and back to the environment.

    However, in order to have a more useful, scientific language, regarding political processes, we should try to stop using the DUALITIES of false fundamental dichotomies and the related impossible ideals. Governments should be seen as the biggest forms of organized crime, controlled by the best organized gangs of criminals, because EVERYONE should be seen as living by acting as entropic pumps of environmental energy flows.

    As soon as we relatively SUBTRACT human beings from their environment and each other, then they necessarily live as gangs of ROBBERS. Everyone is doing that. Those who become the biggest and best organized gangs doing that have been able to promote their bullshit language that somehow they stopped being criminals, operating combined money/murder systems, when they became the biggest and best organized forms of doing that, which could then call their robbery taxation, and operate symbolic robberies as frauds which were legalized, in ways which somehow stopped those from still fundamentally being robberies.

    It is difficult to fully appreciate the degree to which we are living in Wonderland Matrix Bizarro Worlds, where everything is publicly presented in the most absurdly backward ways possible. The most abstract, philosophical way that manifests was when arbitrary minus signs were inserted into the entropy equations of thermodynamics and information theory, in order to make the measurements of power and information appear to have relative positive values, instead of relative negative values.

    Since everything that human consciousness does is based upon relative SUBTRACTIONS, from which necessarily follows ROBBERIES across the boundaries thereby perceived and defined by those SUBTRACTIONS. hence, there is nothing but the dynamic equilibria between different systems of more or less organized lies operating robberies.

    The deeper aspects of our political problems are due to the degree to which the biggest bullies' bullshit world views have reified those relative differences, into presenting those as if those were absolute differences. In other words, the most intense fighting has selected for the survival of the most psychotic fighters. The results are the development of civilization as integrated systems of legalized lies, backed by legalized violence, the most important forms of which now are the ways that public governments ENFORCE FRAUDS by private banks. By those means, DEBT is what connects the environment energy through the human economy. All human beings are living as entropic pumps of environmental energy flows, which match the principles and methods of organized crime. However, the biggest and best organized gangs of criminals have been able to make their bullshit languages and worlds views become dominate, such that the biggest and best organized gangs of criminals are able to publicly present themselves as NOT based upon organized lies operating robberies, DESPITE that everyone is doing that, as soon as we perceive and define them as separated from their environment and each other.

    DEBT IS THE KEY FACTOR

    CONNECTING ENERGY AND THE ECONOMY.

    However, that is primarily done through the maximum possible bullshit about THAT.

    Human beings and civilization are connected to each other and totally connected to their overall environment. However, all of the dominate languages and philosophical presumptions tend to be based upon pretending that relative differences are absolute differences. Therefore, the banksters are the best organized gangs of criminals, who are able to operate the supreme frauds, which are symbolic robberies, backed up by governments, because EVERYONE is living as entropic pumps, which are relative systems of organized lies and robberies. Those are becoming more and more extremely UNBALANCED, because almost everyone has been sufficiently brainwashed to think by taking for granted the DUALITIES of false fundamental dichotomies, and therefore, believe that impossible ideals, which are as absurdly backwards as possible, should be the basis for the solutions to those political problems.

    E.g., almost everything that our culture calls "birth controls" are actually death controls. Indeed, sex and death come as a package deal in biology, which money and murder come as a package deal in sociology.

    The history of the language of DEBT was based upon the transformation of the death controls into the debt controls, such that the source of the language of DEBT was the realities of violence. Of course, that is ancient history, and therefore, most of the social habits that now operate through social inertia only rarely need real murders to back up the money systems.

    One may skim the material repeated in my link above regarding The Entropy Law and the Economic Process:

    An arbitrary minus sign was inserted into the entropy equation of thermodynamics, so that the measurement of power would end up having relative positive values, rather than relative negative values.

    The history of the philosophy of science is full of compromises made with the biggest bullies' bullshit world view, and that includes the ways that almost everyone thinks about "entropy" in absurdly backward ways, which they nevertheless take almost completely for granted.

    When it comes to the concept of "money" one can see that inversion and perversion repeated.

    "Money" used to mean metal coins, while a "dollar" was a precise amount to silver. Step by step, the international banksters were able to corrupt the political processes, in order to make and maintain the MAD Money As Debt systems. Bit by bit, "money" made out of nothing replaced money which had intrinsic value, as manifestations of the principle of the conservation of matter, as most exemplified by the existence of the substance gold. That MAD "money" continued to be presented as if it was positive capital, while it had actually become negative capital, and therefore, the development of more and more runaway NEGATIVE CAPITAL negated any "market capitalism."

    Thus, there are level after level of the basic ways that how "we" think about thermodynamics is absurdly backwards, and those lies are different at every level. My comment upon Tverberg's article is that it was another superficially correct presentation, which does not engage in deeper analysis of WHAT DEBT IS, inside of runaway systems operating through MAD Money As Debt. In turn, following that deeper analysis leads one through more abstract and profound ways that the biggest bullies' bullshit world view and languages almost totally dominate civilization, such that almost everything is commonly thought about, and therefore, communicated in ways which are as absurdly backward as possible. The mathematical physics presented in the laws of thermodynamics have had their meaning inverted by the inversion of the concept of entropy, which inversions were both the consequence and concatenated causes of more and more political perversions.

    Political economy based upon public governments ENFORCING FRAUDS is also based upon almost everyone deliberately ignoring the principle of the conservation of energy as much as possible, as well as misunderstanding the concept of entropy in the most absurdly backward ways possible. While physical science has made prodigious progress in better understanding many things as general energy systems, political science has, so far, dismally failed to better understand civilization as manifesting general energy systems.

    That dismal failure is due to the ways that it continue to enable the vast majority of people to NOT understand how the monetary and taxation systems really work. Furthermore, that dismal failure is also due to the degree that there is no publicly significant opposition to bankster dominated governments that does not stay inside the same frame of reference of taking for granted DUALITIES, and therefore, recommending impossible ideals as the basis for their bogus "solutions" to the problems that the established systems of social robberies are becoming more and more extremely unbalanced.

    "Far-from-equilibrium systems" now appear to have no ways to become re-balanced other than through death insanities.

    I agree that Debt Is The Key Factor Connecting Energy & The Economy. However, in my view, Tverberg deliberately underestimated the degree to which the history of backing up the debt controls with the death controls has driven that DEBT to become runaway DEBT INSANITIES … While human beings and civilization do NOT violate the laws of nature, civilization based upon being able to ENFORCE FRAUDS has become as FRAUDULENT as it could possibly become, which means that we are stuck inside of that civilization, which has become extremely psychotic!  Therefore, that civilization is headed towards series of psychotic breakdowns, while whatever might survive through that is extremely unpredictable. Although thermodynamics will NOT stop working, the degree to which we need to correct our absurdly backwards understanding of thermodynamics is barely possible to exaggerate.

    The "far-from-equilibrium systems" NEVER stop the conservation of energy from continuing to operate. However, the sociopolitical "far-from-equilibrium systems," based upon the excessive successfulness of the methods of organized crime, have become runaway criminal insanities.

    Almost everything that civilization is actually doing is based upon attitudes that have transformed the relative differences between people, and the relative separations of people from the natural environment, into being presented as if those were absolute differences and absolute separations. Hence, the fundamentally fraudulent financial accounting systems are becoming more and more severely unbalanced, driving worse and worse social polarization, and destruction of the natural world. Those"far-from-equilibrium systems" have become so psychotic as to appear to be headed towards committing collective suicide. The original systems of paper money frauds, backed by gunpowder weapons, have become globalized electronic money frauds, backed by the threat of force from atomic weapons! Hence, the established political economy based upon being able to ENFORCE FRAUDS has become trillions of times more unbalanced, and so, much more insane, than ever before in human history.

    Meanwhile, those few who do call for remembering that we are not absolutely separated from each other and our environment, continue to ironically promote that ONENESS through the same old-fashioned bullshit-based language of DUALITIES, and thus, express their goals through bogus "solutions" that are supposed to somehow actualize impossible ideals, despite that those impossible ideals are based upon misunderstand the real mechanism of how things work in the most absurdly backward ways.

    Ironically, most of those who superficially promote the ideals of more conscious appreciation of our ONENESS, continue to express how to do that through the same mistaken notions based upon DUALITIES, false fundamental dichotomies, and the related impossible ideals, because the only things that now have any public significance are the core of organized crime, bankster dominated governments, surrounded by layers of controlled opposition groups, which groups are all being operated by the best available professional hypocrites, using the same langauges of DUALITIES.

    The tragic trajectory that we are on continues to be almost everyone almost totally taking for granted thinking in the most absurdly backward ways possible, which includes the ways that almost everyone thinks about "thermodynamics" & "far-from-equilibrium systems." Therefore, those people who would like to promote more conscious awareness of our ONENESS, in order to resist the runaway social polarization and destruction of the natural world, almost totally continue to still think using the same DUALITIES, and hence, recommend bogus "solutions" which are based upon absurdly backward misunderstanding of everything!

    It is NOT possible to stop human beings and civilization from living as entropic pumps of environmental energy flows. However, it is possible to go through series of profound paradigm shifts in the ways that we perceive that. Furthermore, due to the runaway systems of globalized electronic frauds, backed by the force of atomic bombs, it is becoming more and imperative that we should go through series of intellectual scientific revolutions, that applied to political science.

    However, we are rapidly running out of time to be able to do that. For all practical purposes, in that context, where the problems are getting worse, faster, at about exponential rates, it appears to be futile to attempt to point out deeper levels of more radical truths regarding those political problems.

    Everything based upon ENFORCING FRAUDS is being driven towards increasingly "far-from-equilibrium systems." Civilization as a whole is becoming more and more FRAUDULENT, at about an exponential rate … However, since everyone must live as some systems of more or less organized lies, operating robberies, while those who are most successful at doing that are also the most dishonest about what they are really doing, for those runaway, exponentially increasing FRAUDULENT DEBT INSANITIES to ever become somewhat better re-balanced now appears like that must take the eruptions of series of death insanities.

    The established systems can NOT be "reformed."

    They must be "revolutionized," and probably will be in some rough and rude ways …

    It is within MADNESS that the established systems operate:

    Too much "money" made out of nothing as debts is inflation.

    Too little "money" made out of nothing as debts is deflation.

    The bankers who have captured control over the public powers of governments, through the vicious spirals of political funding ENFORCING FRAUDS, have far more valid reasons to worry about deflation, rather than be concerned about inflation. Indeed, they have every incentive to make too much "money" out of nothing, rather than to make too little "money" out of nothing.

    Central bankers and their intellectual mercenaries are required to be the best available professional hypocrites, in order to be able to continue to operate inside the MADNESS of the established systems. They can NOT publicly admit that the entire political economy has become based on public governments ENFORCING FRAUDS by private banks, which effectively privatizes the powers of governments, which became operated through globalized electronic "money" frauds, backed by the threat of force from atomic bombs.

    More philosophically speaking, the monetary and taxation systems operate as combined money/murder systems, whereby the debt controls are backed by the death controls: MONEY IS MEASUREMENT BACKED BY MURDER. The existence of central banks, able to engage in the central planning of monetary policies, is due to those being the best organized gangs of criminals, the banksters, who were able to apply the methods of organized crime through the political processes. Hence, globalized, privatized, MAD Money As Debt is the result of the excessive successfulness of controlling civilization by the methods of organized crime, which results in civilization manifesting runaway criminal insanities.

    In general, civilization has fundamentally fraudulent financial accounting systems, which automatically must become exponentially more psychotically out of touch with the physical world, as the virtual world of electronic "money" made out of nothing as debts becomes many orders of magnitude greater than the physical world, such that there is less than 1 unit of any actual collateral for ~100 units of MAD "money," and moreover, that is automatically headed towards a ratio of 1 unit of physical economy to ~1,000 units of electronic fraud "money," mostly being used to speculatively gamble with!

    Meanwhile, the threats from weapons of mass destruction keep that MAD system going, because the governments which ENFORCE FRAUDS actually do have an overwhelming abundance of weapons of mass destruction. The MADNESS of Mutual Assured Destruction continues to back up the MADNESS of Money As Debt. Hence, those combined murder/money systems have become trillions of times worse than the previous systems of paper money frauds, backed by gunpowder weapons.

    As those MAD systems become exponentially more psychotic, we are headed towards series of psychotic breakdowns, because being able to ENFORCE FRAUDS never stops those from still being fundamentally FRAUDULENT. Being able to enforce electronic frauds with the threat of atomic bombs has enabled the resulting debt insanities, backed by the threat of death insanities, to be amplified to astronomical sizes, many orders of magnitude greater than ever before in human history. Exponentially increasing overall fundamental FRAUDULENCE is certainly headed towards some unpredictable series of tipping points

    However, most people continue to want to think about that situation as if it was still the same as previously, when there were only paper money frauds backed by gunpowder weapons, rather than think more deeply about what it means to have privatized, globalized, electronic frauds, backed by the threat of force from weapons of mass destruction.

    Although I can sympathize with those who like to pretend that they could become prepared, in order to protect themselves, in my opinion they are only able to do that to the degree to which they do not face the facts that what actually exists are electronic frauds, backed by atomic weapons, inside of globalized civilization that has become too criminally crazy to fully comprehend! Those who continue to think that they can become prepared and protect themselves tend to only be able to do that because they continue to think in ways that developed when there were only paper frauds, backed by gunpowder weapons. HOWEVER', ultimately, the underlying issue is how to operate the human murder systems after the development of weapons of mass destruction, which is imperative because what actually exists are combined money/murder systems.

    Neolithic Civilization social pyramid systems have always been based on being able to back up lies with violence. Progress in physical science has enabled the development of an oxymoronic scientific dictatorship that primarily applies advancing technologies to become better at ENFORCING FRAUDS, and therefore, civilization has become exponentially more FRAUDULENT. The ruling classes (metaphorically, the Vicious Wolves and their more Domesticated Dogs) have become increasing psychotic psychopaths, while those they rule over (metaphorically, the Zombie Sheeple and controlled opposition Black Sheeple) have become increasingly impotent, incompetent political idiots.

    The banksters that made and maintained the previous systems of paper frauds backed by gunpowder weapons have lost control of the exponentially growing systems of electronic monkey money, backed by the threat of force from apes with atomic bombs. Although we can be confident that natural laws will continue to operate, since the only connections between human laws and natural laws are the abilities to back up lies with violence, and those have become electronic lies, backed by the threat of force from atomic bombs, there are deeper and deeper levels of seriousness regarding the degree to which those systems have become runaway psychotic criminal insanities going OUT OF CONTROL.

    At the present time, the first generation that grew up with the development of electronic frauds, backed by atomic bombs, is still alive today, and mostly, they are still thinking about that as if there were still only paper frauds backed by gunpowder weapons. Theoretically, it would take series of intellectual scientific revolutions and profound paradigm shifts in order to better understand the MADNESS which we are now surrounded by. However, due to the nature of that MADNESS, the vast majority of people do not understand, and do not want to understand. Indeed, even most of those whose articles are republished on Zero Hedge tend to only present superficially correct analyses of that MADNESS, which often end with recommending that individuals should attempt to become prepared and protect themselves from that MADNESS.

    "Good luck with that!"

    Since the overall FRAUDULENCE is getting worse, faster, at about an exponential rate, "we" are rapidly running out of time to go through the kinds of intellectual scientific revolutions that "our" political processes would have to go through, in order to maybe cope with the development of technologies like electronics and atomic energy, which are many orders of magnitude greater than all of the chemical energy systems which civilization was previously used to, including ourselves as flesh and blood human beings …

    While the globalized political economy operates through fundamentally fraudulent financial accounting systems, the short to medium term results of public governments ENFORCING FRAUDS by private banks enable triumphant FRAUDULENCE manifesting as the symbolic robberies of the many by the few, whose longer term consequences are social polarization, and even worse destruction of the natural world. Since systems based upon ENFORCING FRAUDS are operated by the best available professional hypocrites, who, for generation after generation, have developed their abilities to lie to themselves, while they were lying to everyone else, we are living inside a globalized civilization that is almost completely crazy and corrupt to the core.

    Although civilization continues to operate inside the laws of nature, it deliberately does NOT understand itself according to those laws of nature, but rather, deliberately misunderstands itself as much as it possibly can, in order to continue to operate the established systems based upon ENFORCING FRAUDS. The great paradox of contemporary politics is the growing Grand Canyon Chasms between progress in physical science, without any progress in political science, due to the ways that history drove successful warfare to become based on deceits, which morphed to become successful finance based upon ENFORCING FRAUDS.

    Although what the banksters originally did to make paper money frauds, backed by gunpowder weapons, may have appeared to be more successful for them to actually do back then, what they have done since to create globalized electronic money frauds, backed by the threats of the force of atomic bombs, have amplified the degree to which civilization is based upon being able the ENFORCE FRAUDS to astronomic sizes, trillions of times greater than ever before in human history!

    The banksters are NO longer "controlling" those developments! The banksters are not getting "wealthier," when their "wealth," based on being able to make "money" out of nothing, and that is actually the exponential growth of FRAUDULENCE, which is actually becoming exponentially more PSYCHOTIC.

    The relationships between natural selection pressures and artificial selection systems are first and foremost represented by the combined human money/murder systems. I REPEAT that what EXISTS are globalized electronic monkey money frauds, backed by the threat of force from apes with atomic bombs. Pretty well NONE of those monkeys and apes want to understand what they are really doing any better, because almost all them became socially successful by being the best available professional hypocrites, whose lives were always INSIDE ENFORCING FRAUDS. It is NOT just the banksters that have become criminally insane, the entire civilization that they were able to dominate has become criminally insane. While that does NOT mean that the laws of nature are going to stop working, it does mean that the longer term consequences for civilization behaving in exponentially more psychotic, FRAUDULENT ways will become TRILLIONS OF TIMES WORSE THAN EVER BEFORE IN HUMAN HISTORY.

    Of course, none of the "corrections" to the criminal craziness of civilization are going to go outside of natural laws, and natural laws are never going to stop working. However, the magnitudes of civilization becoming almost totally based on exponentially increasing FRAUDULENCE requires "corrections" that are currently impossible to completely comprehend or fully imagine. At the present time, it is politically impossible for human beings and civilization to start to understand themselves more scientifically, but rather, only politically possible for progress in physical science to be applied through a scientific dictatorship that is based upon being able to ENFORCE FRAUDS.

    I REPEAT that there we are stuck going around and around, in vicious spirals of political funding ENFORCING FRAUDS, while the deeper levels of the consistent contradictions that we face are how and why natural selection pressures drove the development of artificial selection systems to be operated through ENFORCING FRAUDS, while progress in physical science enabled those to become EXPONENTIALLY MORE FRAUDULENT.

    At the present time, "political science" can NOT cope with those sets of consistent contradictions! By and large, the only thing which happens is that the more one learns about the political economy based upon public governments ENFORCING FRAUDS by private banks, the worse that gets! Every day, the increments of greater and greater ENFORCED FRAUDS automatically become more FRAUDULENT. Civilization is actually thereby becoming more psychotic and criminally insane at about an exponential rate. While that will never stop the laws of nature from working, and indeed, the laws of nature are the deeper reasons for how and why that happened, the "corrections" to those degrees of the runaway criminal insanities of globalized electronic frauds, backed by the threat of force from weapons of mass destruction, are "corrections" which would have to cope with those levels of INSANITIES.

    Those systems were developing every possible way in which the people actually living INSIDE ENFORCED FRAUDS could become as FRAUDULENT as possible in the ways that they thought, and therefore, continuing to do everything they could to continue to think in the most FRAUDULENTLY possible ways. It is the SYSTEM AS A WHOLE, with its matching bookends of the ruling classes and those they rule over, who are BOTH adapted to living INSIDE ENFORCED FRAUDS, becoming exponentially more FRAUDULENT. The only ways to become relatively socially successful were to adapt to live INSIDE ENFORCED FRAUDS, and furthermore, those who are most socially successful therefore must become the best available professional hypocrites, who excel at lying to everyone, including themselves.

    Almost everyone is taking for granted thinking using the DUALITIES of false fundamental dichotomies and the related impossible ideals. Almost nobody is interested in starting to think using more UNITARY MECHANISMS based upon better understanding human beings and civilization as manifestations of general energy systems. Despite that human beings and civilization actually do live as entropic pumps of environmental energy flows, doing so has been paradoxically driven to develop sociopolitical systems based upon the maximum possible frauds and deceits, through combined money/murder systems.

    Human civilization is way more psychotic than appears to be appreciated sufficiently by most of those who superficially begin to understand the entrenched systems based upon bankster dominated governments ENFORCING FRAUDS. While much of the content published on various alternative Web sites recognizes the degree to which the political economy is becoming exponentially more FRAUDULENT, and somewhat recognizes the problems associated with civilization actually doing that, in my opinion, there is pretty well ZERO profound paradigm shifts presented by most, but rather, mostly only presentations of the increasingly blatant anomalies driven by ENFORCING FRAUDS.

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Changes in climate because of global warming during the 20th and 21st centuries have a direct impact [...]

This paper evaluates contributions to global temperature anomalies from greenhouse gas concentration [...]

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