Boomers

Boomer Doomers

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on March 1, 2015

end_is_nigh

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http://img2.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20120313041703/creepypasta/images/b/bd/The_end_is_nigh_(1).jpgBack when I first discovered the world of oncoming Doom back in 2008 in the Aftermath of the Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers collapses, I had no idea about Peak Oil, and my only knowledge or recollection of Doomers were what I had thought of as “psychos” at the time, the folks back in the 70s who walked around with placards declaring “The End is Nigh”.  Turns out here they weren’t wrong or psycho, just way ahead of their time.

DDlogoMy first internet communications and discussion on Doom concepts came on the Peak Oil Forum in 2008-2009, and there I ran into the whole panoply of Doomer Archetypes, Survivalists, Nazi Eugenecists, Permaculturists and of course the Doomsteaders, which is where the Doomstead Diner title for this Blog comes from.

What is a Doomsteader?

Doomsteaders are people who have sort of exited the regular economy and moved out into the boonies on a patch of property they are trying to make resilient and survivable when the final crash of the industrial economy arrives.  There are quite a few variations on the theme, depending on how much the Doomsteader wants to keep things like Electricity running and how much money they actually have to set the place up.

Some will fit out with Solar Panels, Generators that will run on a variety of fuel inputs, Battery Banks for storing the juice, Charge Controllers, the works here.  They have hydraulic log splitters too, and tractors they plan to run with biodiesel to keep the whole operation running after TSHTF.  Others try a more 18th Century model, trying to fit out with Wood Stoves, Candles and Horse drawn plows, in the Amish model.

Here’s a short Bio for some of the Doomsteaders I have run into since the Peak Oil Forum days.  By no means is this complete, there were many more, but this is a basic cross section.

Duke

Duke was a Peak Oil commenter who was very full of himself and liked to brag about all his preps, which included every techno gimmick he could buy to make his Doomstead resilient.  Besides having the hydraulic log splitters and all the rest, Duke ALSO had an Armory the National Guard would be proud of, with automatic weapons, night scopes, rpgs, the WORKS here.  The only thing he did not claim to own was a Tactical Nuke.  Insofar as I could tell though, this Doomstead was only occupied by the Duke and Duchess, and it was hard to imagine he had any friends who would join him there since he was insufferable even online.  LOL.  So I never figured out exactly how Duke was going to defend this place from the hordes of Zombies he himself projected as coming out of the wood work once TSHTF.

Pops

Pops was a Peak Oil Forum moderator (I think he still is) who caught on pretty early to the Peak Oil problem, and presciently sold out of his California home prior to the crash in 2008, and used the proceeds from this to buy himself around a 20 acre Doomstead in Missouri, not all that far from where my sister lives in Springfield.  As a result, during one of my vacations visiting the relatives down there in the Lower 48 before mom died, I had a chance to drive out and meet up with Pops IRL.  His farmhouse was quite nice, but the place is not that removed from the population at large, and unlike Duke, Pops was not collecting an Armory to try to defend it with.  So this place also assumes a kind of BAU will take place after TSHTF.

BC2K

BC’s Doomstead is somewhere in Maine, and he is EXTREMELY careful about revealing its actual location to anyone. Careful is being polite here, really he’s totally PARANOID about this. LOL. Unlike some of the more recent Doomers, he has been a Doomer himself and building on this location since the 1970s.  he’s very conversant with all the techniques talked about in the permaculture community, and in fact teaches on it when he ventures off the Doomstead periodically.  His security plan is to be hidden and far enough off the beaten path that the Zombies won’t find the place.  The problem with that is that it is probably not Zombies he has to worry about, but local Cops and National Guard, all of whom know exactly where his place is.  Even I was able to deduce where the place is, and I don’t have all the tricks available that the military and police do, just good deductive ability and a knowledge of how the internet works.  This freaked out BC2K so much that he dropped off the internet entirely, but I am sure he still has his phone operational, so there is no real way to hide here and still participate in some manner in the economy.

Doug Casey & Simon Black

These two Doomers fit another category, the Uber Rich Doomers who aren’t just setting up a subsistence farm somewhere in Amerika, they have enough money to build and develop entire compounds which they are selling Condo style to other rich folks, sprinkled around the Globe from Argentina to Chile.  South and Central America seem to be the locations of choice for this bunch of Doomsteaders, which includes the Bush family which has its Doomstead in Panama.  Things are so bad here in the FSoA in terms of Taxation and accelerating Fascism that these folks figure to escape to these much SAFER and MORE FRIENDLY  locations.  Except one kind of has to wonder exactly how Safe or Friendly such places will be when the economic system TANKS and the impoverished Argentinians surrounding the compound decide to come for a visit, and knock down the compound walls?

There are many more examples of various types of Doomsteaders, Albert Bates who was a founding member of The Farm in TN fits the category, so does Orren Whiddon who is founder of the 4 Quarters Interfaith Doomstead in Pennsylvania.  Running a somewhat different idea and paradigm is Ray Jason, the ex-Street Juggler who runs the Sea Gypsy Philosopher Blog.  Ray’s concept is to remain Mobile, and to use small sailboats as the ticket to Freedom & Sustainability.  Problem with this is that most all sailboats are chock full of technology, they are terrifically insecure when moored anywhere, and you just can’t carry all that much on them unless they are quite large.  So this paradigm has its own set of problems.

What do ALL of these Doomsteaders have in common though?  They are all BOOMERS, aka the demographic of people pursuing this paradigm generally is from around 50 years old to 70 years old.  There are some older ones than that as well, but once into the 80s they tend to stop discussing their Doomerism with others on the net.  LOL.  Have a look at a photo from the Age of Limits conference where for the last 3 years  Doomers gathered to discuss oncoming Doom

http://www.doomsteaddiner.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/IMG_20130523_212744.jpg

Now, there are a few younger folks sprinkled in there, but the preponderance of this crowd is Gray Hairs.  I can tell you also that the general demographic of Diner readers are Gray Hairs also, though we do have sprinkled in at least 1 20-something in Monsta, 2 30-somethings in Lucid Dreams and Gypsy Mama and a 40-something in WHD.

Why is the Doom Community so overwhelmingly OLD?  More than a few reasons for this.

The first one is Economics.  Just about everyone who sets up a Doomstead has to have pretty substantial money to do this to start with, and then to be able to live on it without having a job in the regular economy (since even the close in ones are in areas where there is not much employment to be found), they have to have an Income coming from Investments, Pensions and Social Security, etc.  VERY few people who have Doomsteads grow or raise 100% of their own food, and they still have taxes and other expenses to keep the place running.  You can cut down the amount of outgoing FRNs you need with a subsistence farm to pretty small numbers, but you can’t cut it out entirely.  Nor can you usually entirely feed yourself and family on what such a subsistence farm can produce each year.

http://narural-energy.com/wp-content/uploads/solar-power-for-off-grid-homes.jpgMoreover, if your Doomstead relies on things like Solar PV Cells and Batteries, pumping motors and the like to bring up water from wells or run Hydroponic Systems, most of this stuff will start to fail on you within 5-10 years, its not sustainable outside of a supporting Industrial Economy.

Most 30-somethings do not have money enough to even get GOING on one of these Individual Doomsteads, much less make it work to raise a family on it.  So they are shut out of this economically, and being so shut out you don’t even want to think about or consider what you will do when TSHTF, because there is nothing realistic you CAN do.  At best, you become as Self-Reliant as possible and learn as many skills as you can, but otherwise to dwell on Doom is pretty counter-productive.  Much as you might WANT to move out to a Doomstead in the Boonies, it is out of reach economically, and it’s somewhat depressing I think for people who are so shut out to read about how some retiree is building a Windmill on his property to pump water to his Raised Beds.  You would like to do that too, but you can’t.  It costs MONEY you don’t have to set up a Doomstead, even the El Cheapo variety.

Other major reasons are Experience and Psychology.  If you have been around 50 or more years, you have had a chance to observe what is really a long ongoing downspin, and to extrapolate out from there where we are headed is not too hard.  You are also quite a bit closer to your own personal trip to the Great Beyond no matter what occurs, so it’s a bit easier as a result to accept that everyone is Doomed.  If you are 30 years old with some young children, you definitely do not want to believe everybody is Doomed, and will resist this idea as long as you can.  Even if it is not Everybody but just MOST people you do not want to accept this idea, since because you cannot afford your own Doomstead to try and ride it out, you are probably one of the ones who gets a Ticket to the Great Beyond TM.  Your kids too.

What is the outcome of this dynamic?  Well, it seems that the vast preponderance of people who are in some way prepared for an oncoming collapse are all the OLD FOLKS! Great Doomsteads with all the preps to keep them going for another 20 years, but THEN what?  If they do have kids, the kids think they are Nutty Doomers and they don’t spend time on the Farm learning how to care for the pigs and chickens and harvest the heirloom seeds to keep growing the squash from one season to the next.  In fact, probably 90% of the people who have subsistence farms don’t save their own seeds, they just buy new ones each year from some heirloom seed distributor on the internet!

The bottom line on this is that this type of Doomsteading is itself Doomed, you are not going to get a sustainable culture from mostly Gray Hairs past reproductive age who are running small “sustainable” Doomsteads.  These Doomsteads are not sustainable because THE FOLKS INHABITING THEM are not Sustainable!  20 years from now, they are gonna be DEAD no matter WHAT, or best case drooling octogenarians who can’t even find the switch to turn on the Solar PV system.  LOL.

http://blog.newscom.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/farmer-milking-cow-in-field.jpgThe very people you really NEED to make a sustainable system here are precisely the people who are SHUT OUT from making it happen, the 20-40 year olds who still are fit and of reproductive age!  Even if you ARE an Aging Boomer Doomer, the likelihood is that your kids do NOT want to join you on the Doomstead to milk the cows, their psychology hopes things will get better and they will eventually get a better job than working as a Starbucks Barrista.  Even worse if they are currently successful Doctors and Lawyers, are they gonna give that up to go cow milking on your Doomstead?  Highly Unlikely.

How does this paradigm play out after TS actually DOES HTF?  The Old Fogeys with the Doomsteads can’t keep operating them, and the Young Whippersnappers who should have been out there learning how to milk cows and save seeds and keep a Doomstead running have no knowledge of how to do that, so even if they drop in and dispatch the Old Folks and take over, the system fails because they don’t have knowledge enough to keep it running!

Besides that is the fact the vast preponderance of these well-outfitted Doomsteads are built with plumbing systems that can go awry, roofs covered with tar paper that need to be replaced or resurfaced every 5 years or so, septic systems that need to be pumped out periodically, not to mention of course the possibility of various types of weather related damage from Tornadoes to Hurricanes to Snowstorms to Flooding to Wildfires to just your own Personal Fire from the Wood Stove malfunctioning.  OOOPS!  Bye, Bye, Doomstead!  lol.

My favorite unsustainable system is water pumping from deep wells.  OK, you have off grid power from your Chinese manufactured Solar PV cells guaranteed by Kwai Chang Solar Industries for 20 years, but what do you do to get the water up from 200′ under ground when the impeller gives out on your pump?  Hope you have several back up pumps and parts in your Barn/Warehouse!  Home Depot has been Outta Biz for 5 years by now.  Even if your well is shallow enough to use a Hand Pump from above, the gaskets on these things wear out too!  If you can’t operate your well with a rope and bucket arrangement, you are SOL in this location.

http://i2.cdn.turner.com/money/dam/assets/130301162811-t-solarcity-home-depot-honda-00014515-620xa.jpg

Given that these “sustainable” Doomsteads are supposed to be living arrangements for the post-SHTF world, exactly where in that world are you going to get replacement plumbing parts, new roofing materials, new batteries for your Off Grid Solar PV setup, etc?  Even if some of these things are available to Scavenge from abandoned McMansions, how are you going to get them from the now vacated suburbs to your Doomstead in the Appalachian Mountains?  You’re going to hitch up the horses to your Wagon and mosey along the decaying roads to the Alexandria VA suburbs, strip some McMansions of plumbing and then with your now loaded wagon have your trusty team of horses Nellie and Betsy pull the load back to the Doomstead?  Remember here, by this time you are around 70-80 years old!  lol.  This is Magical Thinking at work.

Basically, the whole notion of individual Doomsteads run by age 50+ Doomers is totally ludicrous, and it’s only slightly more realistic if they have their children and grandchildren on board to help them, which few do these days.

Is there a SOLUTION to this?  There is, but insofar as I can see at this moment, it is not being undertaken anywhere.  You can’t set up Individual Doomsteads and make them Sustainable, particularly not if you are 50+ years old.  What needs to be done is to develop entire COMMUNITIES with a full range of demographics from children to old folks, and these communities and their living arrangements cannot be dependent on the various types of plumbing and electrical systems that we take for granted today.

http://i.c-b.co/is/image/Crate/CastIron12InchSkillet/$web_zoom$&/1308302308/lodge-cast-iron-round-skillet.jpgPeople need to re-learn how to live in very simple housing, use outhouses for bathrooms, make clothing from hemp fibers etc.  It doesn’t need to be complete Stone Age for quite some time, since many things like Cast Iron Cookware made today will likely last another Century.  There isn’t much that can Fail in a Cast Iron Skillet.  Similarly, quality Damascus Steel Axe Heads and Knives also have a good long lifespan if well maintained, oiled or greased daily to slow rusting etc.

This is not to say that if you do set up such a community TODAY, it can’t or shouldn’t have Off Grid Solar, Indoor Plumbing etc.  If you can afford all that stuff in setting the community up, GO FOR IT! Keep the creature comforts of the Age of Oil as long as you can, but set up the BACKUP systems that work without any of the fine manufactured parts that will disappear as the industries that produce them shut down.  Do NOT set up your Sustainable Community in a location where the only water available is 200′ (or even 100′) under the ground.  That is NOT SUSTAINABLE!

What the Boomer Doomer is doing in setting up one of these Doomsteads is not developing a sustainable living paradigm, they simply are trying to finish out their lives in as close to the comfort they had during the Age of Oil as might be reasonably possible if collapse is fairly slow , and the next 20 years just sees gradual diminshing of services and products, but still the core elements of society keep functioning to one extent or another.  The main core there is Law & Order & Property Rights of course, since once those fail few Boomer Doomers could Protect & Defend their Doomsteads from either roving gangs of Zombies OR the local Sheriff or National Guard commander turned Warlord.   However, really these things do not have to fail completely for the paradigm to fail, all that has to fail is the Impeller Pump on your well.

The question for all of us is how to join together to build sustainable communities, not how to go out and buy your own little Dream Retirement Home and die in peace out in the boonies of Appalachia while the World Burns.  That is the question we have to answer here on the Diner, and with the SUN project.

SunWebGraphic3

Now Why Don’t They Save?

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on November 2014

Discuss this article at the Economics Table inside the Diner

One of the most persistent explanations circulating around Economics websites is that a major reason for our current economic problems lies in the fact the Boomer and GenX generations failed to Save money over the last 30 years, and spent profligately on stuff they could not afford, racking up huge credit card debt along the way.   There is of course some truth to this, but to understand the whole phenomenon you have to dig a bit deeper.

The first thing you have to realize is that at any given time, half the population has above the Median Income, and half below it.  Currently, the Median Income in the FSoA is $51,000.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/85/Distribution_of_Annual_Household_Income_in_the_United_States_2012.png

The Median Income has changed over the years, here it is in adjusted 2009 Dollars

http://www.mybudget360.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/real-median-household-income.png

In fact in REAL Dollars available at the time, the 1967 Median Income was nowhere near $40,000, it was around $6000.

If somebody making median income in 1967 was saving 5% of their income, they could save $300 for that year.  If they had it invested in something that brought in a 10% return every year for the entire time since then, that $300 would be $24,000 today.  However, few things brought a steady return of 10% every single year since 1967, there have been a few busts and low interest rate periods along the way, so your real return probably was a good deal lower than that.

The 5% target is a good one, and probably can be achieved by most people making the Median Income at any given time.  However, it doesn’t account for “disasters” which occur periodically for everyone statistically, like you get sick, your union goes on strike, you get in a car accident, your wife gets unexpectedly pregnant before you are making the big bucks, etc.  That $300/year nest egg you started in 1967 all gets wiped out in 1972 when your factory job moves over to China and you are unemployed for 6 months.  Or The HUGE Nest Egg you had in 1990 all goes up in smoke because you invested in Dot Coms.  Not only do you wipe out your nest egg in many of these situations, you have to go in debt to stay floating, and thereafter you are always behind the 8-Ball.

Year No. of Households Nominal $ Inflation Adjusted $
2012 122,459,000 $49,486 $51,017
2011 121,084,000 $48,545 $51,100
2010 119,927,000 $47,793 $51,892
2009 117,538,000 $48,276 $53,285
2008 117,181,000 $48,762 $53,644
2007 116,783,000 $48,729 $55,627
2006 116,011,000 $46,713 $54,892
2005 114,384,000 $44,951 $54,486
2004 113,343,000 $43,005 $53,891
2003 112,000,000 $42,019 $54,079
2002 111,278,000 $41,137 $54,127
2001 109,297,000 $40,965 $54,766
2000 108,209,000 $40,703 $55,987
1999 106,434,000 $39,480 $56,080
1998 103,874,000 $37,635 $54,702
1997 102,528,000 $35,788 $52,784
1996 101,018,000 $34,290 $51,720
1995 99,627,000 $32,830 $50,978
1994 98,990,000 $30,943 $49,429
1993 97,107,000 $29,819 $48,884
1992 96,426,000 $29,080 $49,122
1991 95,669,000 $28,479 $49,529
1990 94,312,000 $28,149 $50,994
1989 93,347,000 $27,081 $51,681
1988 92,830,000 $25,388 $50,776
1987 91,124,000 $24,187 $50,389
1986 89,479,000 $23,041 $49,764
1985 88,458,000 $21,821 $48,063
1984 86,789,000 $20,712 $47,181
1983 85,407,000 $19,265 $45,760
1982 83,918,000 $18,801 $46,082
1981 83,527,000 $17,743 $46,205
1980 82,368,000 $16,354 $46,995
1979 80,776,000 $14,896 $48,520
1978 77,330,000 $13,380 $48,655
1977 76,030,000 $11,992 $46,842
1976 74,142,000 $11,172 $46,548
1975 72,867,000 $10,394 $45,788
1974 71,163,000 $9,780 $47,019
1973 69,859,000 $9,129 $48,557
1972 68,251,000 $8,424 $47,596
1971 66,676,000 $7,805 $45,641
1970 64,778,000 $7,559 $46,089
1969 63,401,000 $7,200 $46,449
1968 62,214,000 $6,583 $44,785
1967 60,813,000 $6,054 $42,934

 

The next problem to look at is what the cost of living was back then, and how plausible it was for someone making $6000 to save $300 each year?  From Flashback.com, we get these stats for 1967:

President:  Lyndon B. Johnson 
Vice President:  Hubert H. Humphrey 

Population: 
198,712,056 
Life expectancy:  70.5 years 

Dow-Jones 
 
High:  943 
Low:  786 

Federal spending: 
$157.46 billion 
Federal debt:  $340.4 billion 
Inflation:  2.8% 
Consumer Price Index:  33.4 
Unemployment:  3.8% 

 

Prices
Cost of a new home:  $24,600.00 
Cost of a new car: 
Median Household Income:  $7,143.00 
Cost of a first-class stamp:  $0.05 
Cost of a gallon of regular gas:  $0.33 
Cost of a dozen eggs:  $0.49 
Cost of a gallon of Milk:  $1.03 

 

Slight discrepancy here between the stats, Flashback has the Median Income $1,143 higher than Dave Manuel, which is quite a significant difference.  Let’s go with $6600 as a compromise figure.  That means the 1967 Median Wage Earner had a Gross Monthly Income of around $550.  On a 20% Downpayment 30 year fixed rate mortgage at 5% with 3% property Tax, the Mortgage Calculator comes in with a monthly payment of around $168.

There is no car cost for 1967 from Flashback, however from People History, I get the figure of $2750. For a 4 year auto loan @ 4% interest, payment comes in a $63.  Now we are up to $231/mo expenses.

A Gallon of Gas, $0.33, say you drove 20 miles/day, 600/mo, 10mpg that is $10/mo.  Now you are at $241.

I didn’t take out taxes from the Gross Income, I haven’t worked up the food budget or home heating, insurance costs etc but fairly obviously here if you made the Median Income in 1967, you would easily exceed $550/month, no savings, long as you had a Car anyhow.  Which explains why in 1967 the median household probably did not have a car.

There were of course many ways to reduce your expenses, as there always are.  Used Cars are an option, living in small rental units to save money also an option.  However, the EXPECTATION for everyone was to live the Median Lifestyle on the Median Income, generally meaning you would buy a house on credit, buy a car on credit and live the lifestyle portrayed on Leave it to Beaver and Father Knows Best.

So the expansion of credit to live this way predates the Boomers, in fact the Greatest Generation from WWII really began to live this way in earnest, and even prior generations did also, because the whole monetary system has ALWAYS been predicated on expanding the debt.

You could do similar calculations for today, and actually it is mostly a good deal worse with car and McMansion prices an order of magnitude higher, and Gas prices also an order of magnitude higher, even with the recent deflation in these prices.

This brings us to the next problem, which is what would have occurred if the Silents, GGs and Boomers had NOT taken on Debt over the decades here?  We would have had Deflation and Depression much sooner, that is what would have happened!  The issue here is the Paradox of Thrift.

The paradox of thrift (or paradox of saving) is a paradox of economics, popularized by John Maynard Keynes, though it had been stated as early as 1714 in The Fable of the Bees,[1] and similar sentiments date to antiquity.[2][3] The paradox states that if everyone tries to save more money during times of economic recession, then aggregate demand will fall and will in turn lower total savings in the population because of the decrease in consumption and economic growth. The paradox is, narrowly speaking, that total savings may fall even when individual savings attempt to rise, and, broadly speaking, that increase in savings may be harmful to an economy.[4] Both the narrow and broad claims are paradoxical within the assumption underlying the fallacy of composition, namely that what is true of the parts must be true of the whole. The narrow claim transparently contradicts this assumption, and the broad one does so by implication, because while individual thrift is generally averred to be good for the economy, the paradox of thrift holds that collective thrift may be bad for the economy.

The tendency is to forget that the entire Monetary System is based on Debt, and has been so since before the FSoA ever became a country, in fact even before the Bank of England was chartered in 1692.  Without debt, the whole biz collapses.  Even more important, without Debt EXPANSION the system collapses.  The trick here is to be the one who can access the debt, but pawn it off on others to pay it off.  This is what the TBTF Banks do.  Corporate structure allows Oligarchs to issue ENORMOUS sums of debt, they skim off bonuses and then eventually leave the rotting hulk to be paid off by the Taxpayer.  See the Railroads, the Electric Grid, the Auto Companies, the Airlines and the Dot Com Bubble to review the history here.

As, a system, it has never been able to pay it’s debts, and for the average J6P the main issue has been to try to stay ahead of the whole game, and collect a greater than average median level of the debt money to pursue your life in the society, and to Save if you have enough of the surplus.  Generally speaking though, only the Top Half has a surplus, the Bottom Half always runs a Deficit.  Assets on the Balance Sheet of the Savers are the Debts on the Balance Sheet of the Debtors.  That is how the system works.  If there were not Debtors, there would be no Rich people.

Could you Save Money if you were in the Lower Half of the Demographic?  Sure you could, as long as you did not buy new cars, did not buy big McMansions and take vacations to Hawaii, if you were Frugal over these years you could save, and some people in this demographic did.  MOST of the savers though come from the Top Half, and in fact from the top 20% or so of Wage Earners over the period.  These folks DID save, and the numbers are there to prove this.  It is a canard that Boomers did not save, it is only true that most of the half of Boomers below the Median income did not save.  That however is true of every generation, not just Boomers.

In the final analysis though, it did not matter whether individually you Saved or not, because as a whole the Industrial Society has been accumulating ever increasing amounts of Irredeemable Debt since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.  In terms of the Debt issued through the period, the VAST majority of that Debt was taken on by Industrialists to expand the Industrial System, and the War Machine which is a big part of that.  Consumer debt over the period was a small part, although it definitely did expand in the last 30 years, but it is played out now.  Consumers are indebted up to their eyeballs, in fact so are corporations, so now Goobermints through the Central Banks are taking the debt onto their balance sheet, but this debt will never be repaid.  It is IRREDEEMABLE DEBT.  When this finally is recognized, the whole system collapses.  It has very little to do with Boomer spending and Savings habits over the years.  The whole system was Doomed from the get-go, because you cannot have Infinite Growth in a World of Finite Resources.  Libertarian Ideologues who blame Doomers for this are Pissing in the Wind.

Coming Soon to a Theater Near You.

The 1st Diner Convocation III

Off the keyboard of Eddie

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on March 25, 2014

SunWebGraphic3

Discuss this article at the SUN Table inside the Diner

How long has it been since I showed up on the DD forum? A year? A year and a half, maybe? When I arrived the discussion about forming an intentional community of some sort was already in full swing. But there were some obvious hurdles to be overcome.

Younger people were more willing and able to make quantum changes in their lives to pursue an experiment in sustainable living, but lacked the funds to buy land. Older folks. like me, were already dug in and making our preps around whatever piece of dirt we’d managed to latch on to. Some of us were willing to take on partners, but not to the extent of granting ownership rights to the land we’d mortgaged our lives to get. Younger people wanted to participate in something with some kind of ownership stake. They weren’t interested in arrangements that left them unvested after possibly putting some years of their life into building systems that they didn’t own.

It seemed like a bit of an impasse, but we kept talking. Among the half dozen or so regular participants in our discussions, there was a lot of knowledge about the “how’ and ‘why”, and even the “where” for some kind of eco-village project, and a stubborn willingness to keep trying to dream something into existence.

Various schemes for making money to support the project were discussed. Eventually RE took the step of pursuing a  501(c)3 non-profit corporation to manage any funds we managed to raise. The name chosen for our dream of sustainable living was the SUN Project. A website was launched, and articles were written and posted.

JD started working on a website designed to teach permaculture online. I dedicated ten weekends in the fall of 2013 to get my own Permaculture Design Certificate. LD made the decision to drop out of nursing school to pursue his own dream of working in the business of permaculture. WHD continued to turn his suburban home in Minneapolis into a food forest.

I also spent a good bit of time this last year pursuing education in alternative power, which was already high on my list of useful tech to get schooled on and implement on my own place. I took a good seminar on alternative power in May, and started getting the gear together to put up a wind generator. I had already gathered about 4.5kW of solar PV panels with the idea of eventually building a large PV array on the ‘stead. I decided that while I was continuing to acquire the nuts and bolts for that, that I would build what came to be known as “The Bug-Out PV Kit.”. The idea was that it might be nice to have a portable PV array, one powerful enough to provide adequate electricity to meet the basics of modern life, including lights, refrigeration and the ability to charge the myriad of battery operated devices we now consider part of our daily lives. A PV system for nomadic living, if nomadic living turns out to be necessary.

After some months, I’m  happy to say the Bug-OUt PV Kit is built, and ready for testing. I also built what is known as a “quick-charge alternator” which is a small, high ouput fossil fuel generator that sips gas, but produces enough power to back up the PV system..and it doubles as a 150 amp welder.

In our online discussions, we often spoke about the desirability of having some kind of meeting in the real world. We had read each others blogs, and we had discussed every subject remotely related to collapse, so we felt we knew each other. But it was generally agreed that at some point it would be important to get together somewhere. We came to call this meeting “The Convocation”. We wanted to have it. But when? And where?

One of our number, Haniel, expressed a strong desire to study shotcrete dome building in Texas with the acknowledged experts at Monolithic Domes. My existing plan was to eventually build a passively cooled house on the ‘stead, and I had already started studying both domes and Earthships with another mentor. I told Haniel I’d join him this spring (yikes, it’s only two more weeks now) for a five day seminar at Monolithic’s headquarters, which is only about three hours from my house, in Italy, Texas.

From there, some encouragement and cajoling  persuaded RE and Lucid Dreams to sign on for the dome course, and WHD is coming down to at least join us for….The Convocation, which is being held on the ‘stead the weekend prior to the domes course. LD and his lovely bride Gypsy Mama, will be be binging their two young boys.

I’ve been working hard (sometimes) for the last couple of months making preparation to guest my fellow SUNsteaders. Right now I’m working daily to complete building a new bathroom in the cabin at the ‘stead.  The old facility works but requires training to operate, and is being made redundant as soon as the new one (complete with grey water recycling) is online, hopefully this week.

I have a nice new deck built on the cabin, which I think will be a fine place to sleep outdoors during the convocation, barring any April showers that weekend, which is a good bet given the drought. But I still need to haul the big smoker out there, and figure out provisioning.

I’m also now working on an outdoor solar shower (designed back during the winter and  based on the solar showers I saw at the Concordia Eco-Resort in St. John)  which would nice to have working for the convocation. Currently I’m racing against the clock. In case you’re wondering, I do work full time at my day job, which is practicing dentistry in my little one-horse office. Tempus fugits, baby, and Carped diem, every damn diem now.

We will, in addition to drinking beer, be working together at the convocation to build a refractory core for my future Rocket Mass Heater to be installed in the cabin. I plan to demo the Bug-Out PV Kit and my quick charge alternator. If the solar shower is finished and the sun shines, there will be that to experiment with, too. I have more projects in the wings, so more fun building projects may be added, time allowing.

Why am I neglecting my garden to do all this? Because it is important to seek community in these changing times. It is important for like-minded people, people who are aware of the multiple challenges facing us from climate change, economic instability, Peak Oil and all the other Black Swans swimming around in the pool as the water drains out to…talk, to figure out better plans, to make connections in the real world.

We of the SUN Project are just one tiny group. But we are hoping to inspire and teach others. We collectively believe that EVERYONE needs to be planning and preparing for a future with lots of challenges. We hope to see dozens more, hundreds more similar groups emerge over the next few years, as more and more people seek a new, more sustainable, resilient way of living that stresses cooperation and local community.

We have room for a few more campers, if anything here strikes a chord with you, and you’d like to break bread and drink a few beers with us, starting Friday afternoon, April 4th, and continuing through Monday the 7th. Contact me at the diner Forum for details.

Culture of Ignorance: Part I

Off the keyboard of Jim Quinn

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Published on The Burning Platform on October 27, 2013

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Discuss this article at the Kitchen Sink inside the Diner

“Five percent of the people think;
ten percent of the people think they think;
and the other eighty-five percent would rather die than think.”

– Thomas Edison

The kabuki theater that passes for governance in Washington D.C. reveals the profound level of ignorance shrouding this Empire of Debt in its prolonged death throes. Ignorance of facts; ignorance of math; ignorance of history; ignorance of reality; and ignorance of how ignorant we’ve become as a nation, have set us up for an epic fall. It’s almost as if we relish wallowing in our ignorance like a fat lazy sow in a mud hole. The lords of the manor are able to retain their power, control and huge ill-gotten riches because the government educated serfs are too ignorant to recognize the self-evident contradictions in the propaganda they are inundated with by state controlled media on a daily basis.

 

“Any formal attack on ignorance is bound to fail because the masses are always ready to defend their most precious possession – their ignorance.” Hendrik Willem van Loon

The levels of ignorance are multi-dimensional and diverse, crossing all educational, income, and professional ranks. The stench of ignorance has settled like Chinese toxic smog over our country, as various constituents have chosen comforting ignorance over disconcerting knowledge. The highly educated members, who constitute the ruling class in this country, purposefully ignore facts and truth because the retention and enhancement of their wealth and power are dependent upon them not understanding what they clearly have the knowledge to understand. The underclass wallow in their ignorance as their life choices, absence of concern for marriage or parenting, lack of interest in educating themselves, and hiding behind the cross of victimhood and blaming others for their own failings. Everyone is born ignorant and the path to awareness and knowledge is found in reading books. Rich and poor alike are free to read and educate themselves. The government, union teachers, and a village are not necessary to attain knowledge. It requires hard work and clinging to your willful ignorance to remain stupid.

The youth of the country consume themselves in techno-narcissistic triviality, barely looking up from their iGadgets long enough to make eye contact with other human beings. The toxic combination of government delivered public education, dumbed down socially engineered curriculum, taught by uninspired intellectually average union controlled teachers, to distracted, unmotivated, latchkey kids, has produced a generation of young people ignorant about history, basic mathematical concepts, and the ability or interest to read and write. They have been taught to feel rather than think critically. They have been programmed to believe rather than question and explore. Slogans and memes have replaced knowledge and understanding. They have been lured into inescapable student loan debt serfdom by the very same government that is handing them a $200 trillion entitlement bill and an economy built upon low paying service jobs that don’t require a college education, because the most highly educated members of society realized that outsourcing the higher paying production jobs to slave labor factories in Asia was great for the bottom line, their stock options and bonus pools.

Instead of being outraged and lashing out against this injustice, the medicated, daycare reared youth passively lose themselves in the inconsequentiality and shallowness of social media, reality TV, and the internet, while living in their parents’ basement. They have chosen the ignorance inflicted upon their brains by thousands of hours spent twittering, texting, facebooking, seeking out adorable cat videos on the internet, viewing racist rap singer imbeciles rent out sports stadiums to propose to vacuous big breasted sluts on reality cable TV shows, and sitting zombie-like for days with a controller in hand blowing up cities, killing whores, and murdering policemen using their new PS4 on their 65 inch HDTV, rather than gaining a true understanding of the world by reading Steinbeck, Huxley, and Orwell. Technology has reduced our ability to think and increased our ignorance.

“During my eighty-seven years, I have witnessed a whole succession of technological revolutions. But none of them has done away with the need for character in the individual or the ability to think.” – Bernard M. Baruch

The youth have one thing going for them. They are still young and can awaken from their self-imposed stupor of ignorance. There are over 80 million millenials between the ages of 8 and 30 years old who need to start questioning the paradigm they are inheriting and critically examining the mendacious actions of their elders. The future of the country is in their hands, so I hope they put down those iGadgets and open their eyes before it is too late. We need many more patriots like Edward Snowden and far fewer twerking sluts like Miley Cyrus if we are to overcome the smog of apathy and ignorance blanketing our once sentient nation.

The ignorance of youth can be chalked up to inexperience, lack of wisdom, and immaturity. There is no excuse for the epic level of ignorance displayed by older generations over the last thirty years. Boomers and Generation X have charted the course of this ship of state for decades. Ship of fools is a more fitting description, as they have stimulated the entitlement mentality that has overwhelmed the fiscal resources of the country. Our welfare/warfare empire, built upon a Himalayan mountain of debt, enabled by a central bank owned by Wall Street, and perpetuated by swarms of corrupt bought off spineless politicians, is the ultimate testament to the seemingly limitless level of ignorance engulfing our civilization. The entitlement mindset permeates our culture from the richest to the poorest. Mega-corporations use their undue influence (bribes disguised as campaign contributions) to elect pliable candidates to office, hire lobbyists to write the laws and tax regulations governing their industries, and collude with the bankers and other titans of industry to harvest maximum profits from the increasingly barren fields of a formerly thriving land of milk and honey. By unleashing a torrent of unbridled greed, ransacking the countryside, and burning down the villages, the ruling class has planted the seeds of their own destruction.

When the underclass observes Wall Street bankers committing the crime of the century with no consequences for their actions, they learn a lesson. When billionaire banker/politicians like Jon Corzine can steal $1.2 billion directly from the accounts of farmers and ranchers and continue to live a life of luxury in one of his six mansions, they get the message. Wall Street bankers are allowed to commit fraud, reaping profits of $25 billion, and when they are caught red handed pay a $5 billion fine while admitting no guilt. No connected bankers have gone to jail for crashing the worldwide financial system, but teenage marijuana dealers are incarcerated for ten years in our corporate prison system. The message has been received loud and clear by the unwashed masses. Committing fraud and gaming the system is OK. Only suckers play by the rules anymore. A culture of lawlessness, greed, fraud, deceit, swindles and scams was fashioned by those in power. Reckless disregard for honesty, truthfulness, fair dealing, and treating others as you would like to be treated, has permeated the beliefs and behavior of our society.

The ever increasing number of people in the SNAP program along with abuses committed by retailers and recipients, the skyrocketing number of people faking their way into the SSDI program, billions of taxpayer dollars lost to Medicare fraud, billions more lost paying out earned income tax credit refunds based on non-existent children, public schools falsifying test scores, students cheating on SAT tests, credit card fraud on a grand scale, failure to report income and falsifying tax returns, and a myriad of other dodges and scams are just a reflection of a moral and cultural collapse. The dog eat dog mentality glorified by the media, with such despicable men as Dimon, Greenspan, Corzine, Clinton, Trump, Rubin, Bernanke and Bloomberg honored as pillars of society, has displaced honesty, compassion, humanity, shared sacrifice, and caring about our descendants. Self-interest, self-indulgence, and a narcissistic focus on what is in it for me today has led to an implosion of trust and an attitude of “who cares” about our fellow man, morality, right or wrong, and the fate of future generations. We ignored the warnings of our last President who displayed courageousness and truthfulness when speaking to the American people.

“As we peer into society’s future, we — you and I, and our government — must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for our own ease and convenience the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.” Dwight D. Eisenhower

The Me Generation has devolved into the Me Culture. While the masses have been mesmerized by their iGadgets, zombified by the boob tube, programmed to consume by the Madison Avenue propaganda machines, enslaved in chains of debt by the Wall Street plantation owners, and convinced by their fascist government keepers that phantom terrorists are hiding behind every bush, they surrendered their freedoms, liberties and sense of self-responsibility. There will always be evil men seeking to control and manipulate the ignorant and oblivious. A citizenry armed with knowledge, critical thinking skills, and moral integrity would not passively submit to the will of a corporate fascist oligarchy. Well educated, well informed citizens, capable of critical thinking are dangerous to rich men of evil intent. Obedient, universally ignorant, distracted, fearful, morally depraved slaves are what the owners of this country want. As the light of knowledge flickers and dies, we sink into the darkness of ignorance.

 

“No people will tamely surrender their Liberties, nor can any be easily subdued, when knowledge is diffused and virtue is preserved. On the Contrary, when People are universally ignorant, and debauched in their Manners, they will sink under their own weight without the Aid of foreign Invaders.”Samuel Adams

Cult of Ignorance

“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”Isaac Asimov

  

“While every group has certain economic interests identical with those of all groups, every group has also, as we shall see, interests antagonistic to those of all other groups. While certain public policies would in the long run benefit everybody, other policies would benefit one group only at the expense of all other groups. The group that would benefit by such policies, having such a direct interest in them, will argue for them plausibly and persistently. It will hire the best buyable minds to devote their whole time to presenting its case. And it will finally either convince the general public that its case is sound, or so befuddle it that clear thinking on the subject becomes next to impossible.

In addition to these endless pleadings of self-interest, there is a second main factor that spawns new economic fallacies every day. This is the persistent tendency of man to see only the immediate effects of a given policy, or its effects only on a special group, and to neglect to inquire what the long-run effects of that policy will be not only on that special group but on all groups. It is the fallacy of overlooking secondary consequences.”Henry Hazlitt

America’s cult of ignorance, combined with the selfish interests of various constituencies, the character weakness of the people elected to office, a lack of understanding or interest in basic mathematical concepts, and inability to comprehend the long term and unintended consequences of every piece of legislation, have brought the country to the brink of fiscal disaster. But still, the vast majority of Americans, including the supposed intellectuals and economic “experts”, are basking in their ignorance, as the stock market reaches a new high, the local GM dealer just gave them a 7 year $40,000 auto loan at 0% on that brand new Cadillac Escalade, Bank of America still hasn’t foreclosed on their McMansion two years after making their last mortgage payment, and they just received three pre-approved credit card notices from Capital One, American Express and Citicorp. As long as Bennie has our back printing $1 trillion new greenbacks per year, nothing can possibly go wrong. Our best and brightest economic minds are always right:

“Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau.” – Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics, Yale University, 1929

“Many of the new financial products that have been created, with financial derivatives being the most notable, contribute economic value by unbundling risks and shifting them in a highly calibrated manner. Although these instruments cannot reduce the risk inherent in real assets, they can redistribute it in a way that induces more investment in real assets and, hence, engenders higher productivity and standards of living.” – Alan Greenspan – March 6, 2000

“We’ve never had a decline in house prices on a nationwide basis. So, what I think what is more likely is that house prices will slow, maybe stabilize, might slow consumption spending a bit. I don’t think it’s gonna drive the economy too far from its full employment path, though.” Ben Bernanke – July 2005

The profound level of ignorance displayed by economists, politicians, business leaders, media personalities, and the average American, regarding the mathematically unsustainable path of our fiscal ship is perplexing to me on so many levels. If the Federal government was a family, the budget ceiling debate would be put into the following terms. Our household earns $28,000 per year, but we spend $38,000 per year and add $10,000 to our credit card balance, which stands at the limit of $170,000. In addition, we owe our neighbors $2 million we don’t have because we promised to pay if they voted for us as Treasurer of our homeowners association. We celebrate our good fortune of getting approved for another credit card with a $30,000 limit by increasing our spending to $39,000 per year. Intellectuals scorn such simplistic analogies by glibly pointing out that the family has a crazy uncle with a printing press in the basement and can pay-off the debt with his freshly printed dollars. And this is where the deliberate and calculated ignorance by the highly educated Ivy Leaguers regarding long term and unintended consequences is revealed. They ignore, manipulate, cover-up and obscure the facts because their wealth, power and influence depend upon them doing so. But ignorance doesn’t change the facts.

“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” Aldous Huxley

Nothing exposes the ignorance of various factions within our society better than a debate about budgets, spending, and unfunded liabilities. This is where every party, group, special interest, and voting bloc ignore any and all facts that are contrary to their selfish interest. They only see what they want to see. The fallacies, errors, omissions and mistruths of their positions are inconsequential to people who only care about their short-term self-seeking interests. When I question the out of control spending on entitlements and our impossible to honor level of unfunded liabilities, those of a liberal persuasion lash out with accusations of hating the poor, starving children and throwing granny under the bus. Anyone suggesting we should slow our spending is branded a terrorist by the overwhelmingly liberal legacy media.

When I accuse Wall Street bankers of criminal fraud and ongoing manipulation of the financial markets, the CNBC loving apologists for these felons bellow about the market always being right. When I rail about the military industrial complex and our un-Constitutional invasions of other countries, the neo-cons come out in force blathering about the war on terror and imminent threats. When I point out the horrific results of our government run educational system and how mediocre union teachers are bankrupting our states and municipalities with their gold plated health and pension plans, I’m met with howls of outrage about the poor children. The common thread is that facts are ignored because each of their agendas requires ignorance on the part of their team’s fans.

The following chart of truth portrays an unsustainable path. Ignoring the facts will not change them. This isn’t a Republican problem or a Democrat problem. It’s an American problem.

 

“There are men regarded today as brilliant economists, who deprecate saving and recommend squandering on a national scale as the way of economic salvation; and when anyone points to what the consequences of these policies will be in the long run, they reply flippantly, as might the prodigal son of a warning father: “In the long run we are all dead.” And such shallow wisecracks pass as devastating epigrams and the ripest wisdom.” Henry Hazlitt

Henry Hazlitt may have written these words six decades ago, but they aptly describe Paul Krugman and the legions of Keynesian apostles whose bastardized interpretation of Keynes’ theory has led us to this fiscal cliff. How anyone can truly believe that borrowing to consume foreign produced goods versus saving and making job creating capital investments is a rational and sustainable economic policy is the height of ignorance. One look at this chart exposes the political party system as a sham. When it comes to the fiscal train wreck, set in motion thirty years ago, the ignorant media pundits peddle a narrative about politicians failing to compromise as the culprit in this derailment. Nothing could be further from the truth. Compromise is what has gotten us to this point. The Republicans compromised and allowed the Democrats to create a welfare state. The Democrats compromised and allowed the Republicans to create a warfare state. The Federal Reserve compromised their mandate of stable prices and preventing financial calamities by inflating away 95% of the dollar’s purchasing power in 100 years, while creating bubbles every five or so years, like clockwork. There are a myriad of facts related to the chart above that cannot be ignored:

  • It took 192 years for the country to accumulate $1 trillion in debt. It has taken us 30 years to accumulate the next $16 trillion of debt. We now add $1 trillion of debt per year.
  • If the Federal government was required to use GAAP accounting, the annual deficit would amount to $6.7 trillion per year.
  • The fiscal gap of unfunded future liabilities for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and government pensions is $200 trillion.
  • Using realistic growth assumptions adds another $6 trillion of state and local government unfunded pension benefits to the equation.
  • The Federal government has increased their annual spending from $1.8 trillion during Bill Clinton’s last year in office to $3.8 trillion today, a 110% increase. The population has increased by 12% over that same time frame, and real GDP has advanced by 25% since 2000.
  • Defense spending has increased from $358 billion in 2000 to $831 billion today, despite the fact that no country on earth can challenge us militarily.
  • The average Baby Boomer will receive $300,000 more than they contributed to Social Security and Medicare over their lifetime. Over 10,000 Boomers per day will turn 65 for the next 17 years.
  • The Social Security lockbox is filled with IOUs. The funds collected from paychecks over the last 80 years were spent by Congress on wars of choice, bridges to nowhere, and thousands of other vote buying ventures.
  • A normalization of interest rates to long-term averages would double or triple the interest on the national debt and increase our annual deficits by at least 30%.
  • Obamacare and the unintended consequences of Obamacare will add tens of trillions to our national debt. The initial budget projections for Medicare and Medicaid showed only a modest financial impact on the financial situation of the country. How did that work out?
  • Entitlement spending in 2003 was $1.3 trillion. Entitlement spending in 2008 was $1.7 trillion. Entitlement spending in 2013 was $2.2 trillion. Entitlement spending in 2018 will be $2.8 trillion, as these programs are on automatic pilot.

When you consider the facts in a rational manner, without vitriolic denials, bitter accusations, acrimonious blame, and rejection of the entire premise, you come to the conclusion that we’ve passed the point of no return. Decades of bad choices, bad leadership, bad men in important positions, bad education, bad governance, and bad citizenship have led to bad times. But very few people, across all socio-economic classes, have any interest in understanding the facts or making the tough choices required to save future generations from a life of squalor. We willfully choose to ignore the facts.

“Most ignorance is vincible ignorance. We don’t know because we don’t want to know.” Aldous Huxley

Our degraded and ignorant society is incapable of comprehending their dire circumstances or acting for the common good of the country. We are a nation on the take. Greed really is good. Everyone needs to play the game. From the top floor corporate CEO suite to the decaying urban wastelands, we have chosen comforting ignorance to uncomfortable knowledge. Our warped form of democracy enriches the few at the top, while dispensing enough subsistence payments to the lower classes to keep them from revolting, while enslaving the middle class in debt and convincing them it’s really wealth. Mencken understood the pathetic impulses of the American populace decades before we reached our point of no return.

“Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance.” – H.L. Mencken

The only way a democracy can survive is if the population is knowledgeable, vigilant, skeptical, educated, individually responsible, self-reliant, moral, capable of critical thinking and willing to accept the consequences of their actions. A nation of takers, fakers and blamers will not last long. We’ve degenerated into a nation of knowledge hating book burners. Our culture of ignorance will lead to the destruction of our culture and the ignorant masses will wonder what happened.

 

“But you can’t make people listen. They have to come round in their own time, wondering what happened and why the world blew up around them. It can’t last.”Ray Bradbury – Fahrenheit 451

In Part Two of this examination about our culture of ignorance I’ll explore the roles of technology, family breakdown, government, and propaganda in creating the ignorance that is consuming our system like a mutant parasite. If you are seeking a happy ending, I suggest looking elsewhere.

The Philosopher, the Austrians, and the Occupiers

Discuss this article inside the Diner

It was called, “A Marxist and Free Market Analysis of the Crisis in Capitalism and public forum. It was sponsored by the Old Dominion University Philosophy club. Who would’ve thought that such a thing as a philosophy club could possibly exist in this era of untrammeled free markets and Ayn Randian supermen striding like colossi across the post 9-11 landscape?

The ODU Philosophy Club, Halie Hovenga photo

 
Well it does, they do, and it all unfolded on April 6 on the campus of Old Dominion University. It was organized by members of the ODU Philosophy Club and facilitated by Halie Hovenga, president of the  Club and a philosophy major/women’s studies minor, working towards her undergraduate degree.
 

Halie Hovenga offers the introduction.

Featured speakers included Dr. Lawrence Hatab, Dr. Rod Evans, and Prof. Anthony Nattania, along with Ed Hightower of the Socialist Equality Party, several young men from ODU Out, plus two Occupiers, Tess Amuroso, artist and photographer, and Deb Lassiter, a local activist. An interesting, if combustible mix.

 
 

Dr. Hatab was the first to speak. A tweedy, affable and clearly thoughtful fellow, Dr. Hatab was a University Professor and Eminent Scholar and has variety of degrees from Villanova, Fordham et al. and a resume brimming with the variety of publications one would associate with an Eminent Scholar, spanning neighborhoods from Nietsche to Heidigger,  through Postmodern Politics and “The Redemption of Time and Politics.” Brimming with a sense of both incredulity and outrage at the excesses of the market and their government enablers in 2008, Hatab came to engage the assignment, that being an analysis of a “crisis in capitalism.” One of his more fascinating observations was that he thought that the Marxist view of capital would work if it weren’t for the phenomenon of corporate welfare.  He noted that we do not have the capitalist system whether we have a crony capitalist system in which government picks winners and losers through the various mechanisms of tax breaks, favorable legislation, and outright gifts, not to mention no-bid Government contracts . . .

Dr. Hatab described our state as “welfare capitalism” and that without welfare capitalism, Marx would’ve been right. He noted the meltdown of 2008 as an example, in which massive wealth was transferred to banks while risk transferred to the taxpayers, in the form of debts that will likely prove unpayable. He talked at some length about the way that what used to be tangible has become abstract– the phenomenon of derivatives, and “rehypothification,” et al . . .an interesting rabbit hole regarding the nature of money as a quantitative unit standing for qualitative things. His opinion was that these thieves and pirates on Wall Street understood exactly what they were doing: “These people make the old industrialists of the Gilded Age look like choir boys.”  Lending used to have something to do with relationship. Time was your mortgage banker was an individual, who looked you in the eye, assessed your value and reliability, and who otherwise had an interest in who you were and what your ability to pay might be.No more. Hatab decried the fact that the financial transaction itself is become utterly and completely abstract, its value restricted to the fees gained on their resale.

 
Hatab described the chaos of 2008 as a game of musical chairs: “As long as I can get my deal done before the music stops I am good to go,” the prevailing ethic. And it’s a long haul from the 1980s and Oliver Stone’s “Wall Street:” as Hatab noted, “Even Gordon Gekko had to look at the books from time to time.” Not this crowd today. These people are taking the “creative destruction” of the markets to new heights, and are interested only in getting paid. He observed these Great Players as “ubermenschen,” having corrupted Nietsche’s concepts by way of Ayn Rand into arrogance and bullshit.
 
Cue the apologists for the Masters of the Universe, fully thus arrayed.
 
In stark contrast to the assessment provided by Hatab, the next speakers came to establish a beachhead of free market libertarianism on the hostile shores of academe. I refer to them as “Austrians” because of the obvious reference to and dependence upon the work of Friedrich  Hayek and that body of economic theory known as the “Austrian school,” which extolls the virtues of the blessings of the  free-market, the primacy of individual responsibility and action, and the magical belief in the healing power of laissez-faire economics.

A “Free Market Analysis” was presented by Prof. Anthony Nattania, a professor of philosophy and religious studies since 2001. Nattania, tall, slender and understated, asked rhetorical questions to frame his argument. He laid many ills at the feet of Fannie and Freddie, and the infamous “no document loans” I had never heard of. The motives of fee-mongers had apparently not crossed his mind as a potential ill.

Prof. Nattania: Halie Hovenga photo

Nattania equated people who receive government services to “thieves.” He decried the attempts on the part of government to mitigate the problems caused by the poor choices made by individuals. and he thought that this level of coercion in which government picks winners and losers was the root of the problem.

His fellow Austrian, Dr. Rod Evans, was far more voluble. He came not to analyze, but to deliver a blistering manifesto of accusations against the state, in one instance managing to work “Nancy Pelosi” into the conversation twice in five minutes. Evans evidently intererned for a summer at the H. Ross Preot school for presentation, so ready was he with a variety of flipcharts for the easel. They appeared then disappeared with a staggering frequency. One example of the many in which he provided proof that it was the umngrateful proles of the working class that should bear the responsibility for all the ills that affect society: Unhealthful diet+inadequate exercise+drug use= explosion of health care costs. Why should they have to pay for health care because of the poor choices “they” make?

Dr. Evans

At no time did Evans give shrift of any kind to the role of Big Pharma in escalating drug use of market manipulation…

His presentation was a farrago of anecdotes and unfinished stories and selected instances– a broadside fueled by a slavish devotion to the Gospel according to Milton Friedman. (“You like Nobel prize Winners, don’t you?”) A familiar voice was heard to growl, “Not particularly,” thinking immediately of the Dronemeister-in-Chief. It was when he played the excerpt of a Friedman interview with Phil Donahue that a voice, sounding much like mine, could be heard arising to say, “May he burn in hell.” At this point my friends prepared to restrain me. Guess the white knuckles gripping the tabletop gave me away.
 
Evans made the mistake of accepting questions, and received several verbal brickbats tossed his way. People challenged his analysis. In response, his tactics was to make jokes, belittle, or to answer by posing a question he would then answer himself. My friend asked, “What obligation do the capitalists have toward the labor forces which made them rich? Should they share the fruits of their labor or abandon them to fend for themselves?”
 
Evans replied by asking if the questioner owned property or stocks? “If so, then you’re a capitalist.”
 
My friend responded, “I am simply a citizen trying to make my through the capitalist system.” Another Occupier demanded, “Answer her question.”  No dice.
 

Dr. Evans: Halie Hovenga photo

I asked Evans, “Why it was that the apologists for the one per cent, disciples of Hayek and Friedman, wanted to blame working people for the ills of society when they wielded exactly zero per cent of the power over the levers of action? How in a system captive by and servile to the interests of capital, the workers were responsible for bad outcomes? So the solution must be to remove such few protections to workers as remain?   And how, in this much to be hoped for absence of regulation of any sort over large corporate movers, American life would be in any wise distinguishable from that in Somalia, which, a society of warlords and pirates? Evans’ response was to to ask another question: “Were we not all interested in freedom? That a government strong enough to provide for your rights was strong enough to take them away.” While I have a continued, if quaint interest in both freedom and the Bill of Rights, I failed to see how this was a constructive answer; rather it was the good doctor’s attempt to jab himself out of a corner.
 
 
 
 
Evans made it clear that corporations owe nothing to anyone  but themselves, a system based on delusion. Which works quite well for one per cent of the population.
One woman across the hall made an interesting observation that had the smell of truth, much like cordite: She said, “Government is not the problem. Government is the prize, which is why so much effort and treasure is being expended right now by the radical right to seize the reins of government and rewrite the rule of law.” Res ipsa loquitor.

 

***

After a break, Ed Hightower offered a brief 20 minute summation of Marx’s analysis of capital. I was somewhat familiar with these, having reread the “Communist Manifesto,” A Christmas gift from my daughter. His presentation was basic: how “surplus value” is sieved from the working class by the capitalists. Some discusion of how socialism is not a moral idea, and discuision materialism v. idealism. This presentation was intellectual and could have benefitted from making the almost self-evident with more immediacy. Which is precisely what happened as the presentation came closer to the present day, as we saw how the economic position of the working class has collapsed since 1980, corresponding almost one-to -one with the transfer of wealth to the one per cent. The top 20% have realized a 277% increase in their income since 1970. As most of us know, the Reagan revolution has corresponded with the greatest transfer of wealth from the middle-class to the upper class in American history, an enormous boondoggle benefiting the upper 1%.The conservative professors sat and listened to this presentation, Hatab having already left. Then as the occupiers made ready to speak, and they all left and went outside, as if they had nothing left to learn. One could have made the excuse of other commitments, except that they stood outside and talk to one another while the occupier presentations were going on.

Tess Amoruso speaks at rally in January, 2012

Tess Amoruso was first. An artist and photographer, Tess showed a slide show of her pictures from various occupations ranging all over the country, while she made her appeal for peace and justice through people power, and envisioning a better world through the use of peaceful non-violent demonstration. Her words were deeply moving, her pictures absolutely riveting. I was transfixed by her work, and how the images, in series, moving from one occupation to another all along the East Coast, captured the essence of the essentially decency of most people who self-identify as Occupiers. With an eye for the telling detail or small truth, her images captured that oft-repeated truism that “we need to be the change that we envision in our world.” It is precisely those images I wish these self-satisfied professors had had the patience and willingness to see.

Deb Lassiter addresses January rally

Deb Lassiter followed. Deb is a guerrilla gardener, a longtime activist and, like Tess, another founding member of Occupy Norfolk. Deb and her partner Leo have reclaimed a crack house on a marginal neighborhood and have made it a place of beauty and goodwill, even creating a Peace garden. Deb spoke about the connection of the different movements from Tahrir Square through Wisconsin through OWS, and even this small group of of activists plunked in the navel of one of the greatest concentrations of military force in the world. In these movements we see the stirrings of a political consciousness that this generation has not seen, and that those of us a certain age of not seen since the Vietnam era. This is a struggle there will be largely led by the millennials. Rather than the intergenerational war suggested and hoped for by some, we shall see the boomers actually supporting the millennials in a search for for systemic change, in the hopes that we can leave a country worth living in for our children and grandchildren.
 
 
The Occupiers left the audience at the end of the three hour event with a sense of hope and possibility. What we see in front of us is a scramble for winners and losers, as people try to suss out a winning position before the music stops. And stop it will: peak energy, peak oil, peak education, peak bullshit. They urge us to consider that another world might indeed by possible. How we get there, especially given the forces arrayed against us, is anybody’s guess.
~Surly1
 
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RE’s Excellent Mexican Dental Adventure: Part II

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Mexican side of the Los Algodones Boder Town Entry/Exit

I finally got esconced in my Hotel Room about 4PM yesterday, after more than 32 hours without sleep ( I do not sleep on planes). Needless to say, I was WIPED, and crashed until about 8PM, when I awoke and wrote Part I of my Doomer Travelogue. Onward here to Part II, today’s Adventures.

I was extemely nervous last night, for many reasons. I am of course completely PARANOID these days, and worried that I would get Detained at the Border trying to re-enter the FSofA. Have I yet “Made the List” as an Anti-Goobermint Blogger? Instead of returning to my Luxury Hotel Room in Yuma, would I get a One-Way Ticket to less luxurious accomodations at GITMO? I worried about the Dentist, despite the fact he came to me highly recommended by friends in Alaska who have used his services. I worried about the Security on the Street in Los Algodones. Would there be “criminal” types around who would try to divest me of my money or “things”? Could I FIND the Dentist’s office in this town?

Still, after finishing Part I and TRYING to watch some TV, I got a few more hours of sleep and woke around 6AM for my 8:30 Appointment with my Mexican Dentist. Why do I say I “tried” to watch TV rather than actually watched it? Because TV NO LONGER EXISTS in Hotel Rooms of the “Luxury” type!

Flipping it on, I got an EXTREMELY confusing Menu of Options, which included PPV Movies, Porn, Kidz Menus yadda yadda, and just FINDING the switch to get me to “normal” TV was a Treasure Hunt without a Map. I did FINALLY find “regular” TV, but there is no longer a “TV Guide” listing of what comes on when on which channel, just a list of the Channels.

So the only way to see what was on these Channels was to click through them, but the percentage of Commercials is such that just about every channel I clicked through had a Commercial running rather than actual Content Programming. Seriously, after messing with this shit for about 30 minutes I gave up and shut off the Tube. Its all just SELL SELL SELL.

Rising out of bed at around 6:30AM, I showered and screwed up my Courage. I prepped myself as best I could, which is not well since I could not bring even a Swiss Army Knife in my Wheely Bag past the Gestapo Agents of the TSA. However, I double checked that I had all the right IDs, checked my I-Phone and Galaxy Tablet for charge (communications if I got into trouble hopefully). Secreted CASH on my person, had a quick Complementary Breakfast in the Hotel Lobby and jumped in my Rented Ford Focus for the 10 mile drive to the Border.

Border Bugout Machines

It wasn’t hard to find the Border Parking Lot, I didn’t even need my GPS, just followed directions my friends gave me and even without that, the signs are pretty clear. You pass a Native Casino, numerous Bugout Machines parked on lots along the way and finally end up at THE BORDER. You know, that place where we are supposed to hold back the Mejicano Horde from Invading the FSofA. Passed this sign informing me that Weapons are ILEGAL in Mejico! Has anybody informed the Drug Cartels of this?

The parking lot is IMMENSE, but at 7:45AM when I arrived it was mostly empty, and it was only a few hundred yards walk to the barred Corridor you walk into Mejicano Territory. Despite the bars and all the rest on the way OUT of the FSofA, you have NO checks as you leave. There are Signs that warn you that if you carry more than $10K in Cash or other Negotiable Monetary Instruments you are supposed to “declare” it, but there is absolutely no checking on this whatsoever.

This is an important fact to consider for people worried about Capital Controls and leaving the FSofA with some MONEY. If you take this route at present time, you could walk across the border with 100lbs of Gold in a Backpack and another $100K in FRNs and nobody would ever be the wiser. No idea how long this situation will last, but it IS the case right now. Of course, depositing it in a Mexican Bank is no safe idea, as Peter here will attest to, but you CAN get it out of the FSofA right now this way.

Once you Cross the Border into Los Algodones, you are in ANOTHER WORLD. The Malls, the Chain restaurants, none of that exists over there. Its an old style Border Town, with lots of little Vendors hawking their merchandise, and you have to be able to Just Say “No, not interested” as you are hit on by numerous vendors trying to sel you something. Annoying as this is though, its a LOT better than the fucking Ads that were being pitched at me over the Boob Tube in the Hotel.

The main difference between Los Algodones and any other Border Town I ever hit (during my trucking years I hit a few others) is their Economic Model. The whole town is DENTISTS! OK, there are Optometrists also and the Pharmacies, but the driver is Dentistry. In about a 5 square block area of “Downtown” Los algodones, there are WELL over 100 Dentists, I would not even hazard a guess beyond that. The Dentists are out on the STREET beckoning you to come in, and even if you already KNOW the Dentist you are heading for, they urge you to get a “Second Opinion” and if you wanted to chance it, you could probably bid it down. However, if you already KNOW a decent one the prices are already so good dickering is stupid. I just said to the Dentists on the street I had my Appointment with my Dentist already, thanks but no thanks.

So, I wandered a bit through the shops since I was Early for my appointment, and located my Dentist’s Office in a Shop Plaza barely a block from the Border Crossing. It is a Tiny Office, the Waiting Room is about the size of a small Bedroom and the actual Dentist Recliner you get drilled on is in a room the size of a typical walk in closet in a McMansion. The Tech however is good, the Xray machine is Computer driven, no film. Overall very clean if small, and Jorge (my Dentista) speaks OK English.

I have now Relaxed somewhat, and spent about 20 minutes in the Waiting Room and the Receptionist gave me the Password to the WiFi, so I sent out a few messages to the Mod Squad here letting them know what was going on. Live Dentistry Updates from Mejico over the Internet!!! LOL. Where ELSE could you get that but the Doomstead Diner? OK, its only for the Mod Squad, but you get the idea here.

After some poking and prodding and discussion with Jorge, we agree on the Plan to Yank all the bottom teeth because there is simply so much wrong down there it would be ridiculous to try and fix it. On the top though, I elect to try to save the front teeth I have and go with a Partial Denture for the Molars which will attach to the front teeth. To do this, I go for 2 Root Canals on my Canines, which he needs to call in the Root Canal Specialista to do. Unlike here in the FSofA where said appointment would probably be 2 weeks away, he schedules her to come over to the Office at Noon. It is now 9:45AM, I have been in the chair since 8:40 or so.

So I go out and walk around Los Algodones and find a Cantina. I resist the urge to order a Corona at such an early hour and order Coffee and an Omellete. Not sure when I will next be able to eat solid food again, so I figured it was a good time to put some food in the stomach.

I mosy back to the Office around 11:30, send a couple more messages over the WiFi and then the Specialista shows up promptly at High Noon. Real Cute Mejicano Dentista 🙂 I’ve been through Root Canals before, and they can be Rough. However, this babe knoww what she is doing, and soon as I wince at all, she loads up the Hypo with still MORE numbing agents, and keeps on plowing the stuff into my gums. Probably had about 10 Shots, but couldn’t feel them really after about the second one. She drills and grinds and files for about an hour, then Jorge returns to carve the teeth some more to be ready for Crowning. After that, takes Molds of my Upper and Lower Teeth and soft tissue, and we make next appointment for Wed, when he will Crown Up here and do scaling and cleaning of the teeth that will remain in my head. Thursday, he will Yank the teeth and I will get my Partial for the Upper and Full for the Lower. I elected not to get Implants at this time. I’ll see how it goes with the lower, which supposedly is the most problematic for denture wearers. My sister has done OK with this though, so I want to see what this works like. If it slides around to much, I’ll come back in a few months and get 4 Implants dropped in to snap the lower denture into. Assuming of course in 4 Months I can still make this kind of trip.

Its now 3PM, and my Dentistry for the Day is Done, and I head back for the Border. Unlike the way IN, the way OUT is a LOT slower. There is a Queue about 200 yards long going into Customs. The Demographics of the Queue is very interesting. Its almost ALL Silents. 70-80 year old Retirees who live in AZ. I am a Spring Chicken in this crowd. In fact, if you walk around Los Algodones for a while you could easily become convinced the population of the world consists of all Old White Folks and Young Brown folks. Like the RE Developers of Yuma though, the Young Brown folks of Los Algodones hold no Ill Will toward the Old White folks from across the border wandering around town, they LOVE them! They are the Economic Driver for the town, the source of their FOREX that still holds some Value.

This REALITY is what really PISSES me off with respect to dimwitted Blogger Pundits who go on endless rants BLAMING Boomers for all the problems we face today. Jackasses like this simply do not look at the actual DEMOGRAPHICS and who received the greatest Benefits of the Age of Oil, and who in fact are still living quite well off of their Investments and GM Pensions that are STILL paying off courtesy of the Boomer Taxpayers (and Millenials, and GenXers etc) Silents set up this system, people like Warren Buffet and George Soros. Not Boomers. Boomers were TRAPPED by the kind of system set up by the Silents, who truly screwed this world, and who now are dying off just in time to fuck everyone else. If you want to place BLAME here as far as the Age of Oil is concerned, it rests entirely onthe shoudlers of the Silents, who were the most Greedy Generation ever to hit the planet. They sucked up the welath and spent it all cruising round the Golf courses of Florida for the last 30 years while Boomers picked up their Tab.

Standing in line waiting to walk my way back IN to the FSofA, I chat a bit with some of these Oldsters. The queue is so long I am curious how long it wil take to get back IN to the FSofA? I ask a Silent in front of me if he has done this before, he says yea, hundreds of times, from where we are it takes about an hour. He was almost dead on, it took 50 minutes. This ASTOUNDS me! Why?

Well, my Math Brain is not as fast as it was when I was a Child Prodigy or when I was doing Blackboard contests in the basement of Havermeyer Hall or pouring over spreadsheets at Drexel, but its still a whole lot faster than the average Calculator. LOL. Based on my walk to the back of the line, I estimate there are at least 500 people ahead of me. For this queue to move that fast, they have to be processing through around 10 Oldsters/Minute, or one every 6 seconds. I know the size of the building we are walking though, I estimate no more than 3 divisions can be made inside the building. In fact it was only two. So the Boarder Control Guards of the Foot Traffic out of Los Algodones have about 12 SECONDS to verify your Citizenship and whether you are a Political Criminal before granting you Access. So I say to myself, “MAN, these guys must be FAST on the Keyboard here to drop your Passport Number into the Database and see if it is Flagged! Then I think I have the answer, they don’t HAVe to keyboard it, the INFO is in an RFID chip in the Passport and they just scan it. Right? This is what you would THINK, BUT NO! No Keyboarding, no Scanning, NADA. You flash your Passport at the Border Guard, and you get Waved on through! LOL. There is better Security at your average Rock Concert or NFL Football Game!

Of course, if you do not fit the Demographic of an Old White Person, you probably get more scrutiny, but for you Old White folks who wish to move back and forth across the Mexicano Border these days, on FOOT is the way to do it! You could do it 3 times a day at least never carrying more than the $10K you are allowed to carry without declaration, even including having to wait on the line to get out.

For the Reverse movement of Mexicans, not quite so easy, but by no means very hard either. I pinpointed half a dozen places you could scale the fence in under 10 seconds if you are reasonably athletic and then make your way up the Colorado river with Snorkel and Flippers. There is almost NO WAY you would be caught. They simply do not have personnel to do it in the area, and this in a major town. Anybody can move across this border anytime really. Fencing the border with Mejico is an absurd idea, the personnel it would take to do it effectively would cost more than it costs to absorb the refugees! This is not even considering what you can do with a Kayak along the coast of Baja.

Anyhow, despite my calculations, I still had a certain amount of my initial Paranoia going until I actually passed my “check” with the Border Guard and got back into my Rented Ford Focus in the parking lot. Back here now in the bosom of the FSofA, I can enjoy the last of the ebnnies of the Age of Oil here in the 3 star Hotel Room I bought for Roach Motel Prices on Travelocity. Long as this system still functions, there are alot of ways to play the game still, and get “value” for your money. Why spend $10K for Dentistry when you can get the same job done just as well in Los Algodones for 1/5th the cost? Bonus, you help a smart Mexican Dentista feed his family with still working Dollars.

Which leads us into the final part of this series, not written yet, but I will call it now the “Unreality of Unknown Unknowns: Cross Border Fiat Collapse in the Real Economy.” Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You.

RE

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RE’s Excellent Mexican Dental Adventure: Part I

Discuss this article at the Kitchen Sink of the Diner


Background Music courtesy of “The Voice”, Jay Black and the the Amerikans

I’m currently sitting in a Luxury Hotel Room in Yuma, AZ after an exhausting Red Eye flight down here from the Last Great Frontier. Reason for the trip? Tomorrow I will walk across the border with Mejico into “Los Algodones”, a town of Dentists, Optometrists and Pharmacies that makes its living on Amerikans making day trips there to buy prescription drugs and get affordable dentistry.

Its soooo much cheaper there that the cost of the flight from Alaska and the luxury Hotel Suite and the Rental Car is more than made up for by savings on the Dental Work, if you have a decent amount to be done and I have a LOT. I may end up having them all pulled and get dentures, but I will try to get Implants instead, or at least implants that will help stabilize the dentures. For most people, if you just have a couple of Root Canals and Crowns to get done, this is enough to justify the trip.  My Dentist comes to me Highly Recommended by numerous Alaskan friends who have used him.

Anyhow, every trip I make down to the Lower 48 these days brings me some new insights into how things are progressing with the spin down. Needless to say, up in the Mat Valley of Alaska, you don’t get a real feel for what is going on down here.

For my first new experience on this adventure, I got my first Molestation from the TSA Perverts. Ted Stevens International Airport finally got its Full Body Scanners and mine showed up “too many hot spots” so I got the full Blue Glove exploration of the Family Jewels. LOL. The pervert doing the job had a rehearsed Patter as a constant drone explaining what area he would touch next, when he would use the Back of his hand instead of the front, all almost unintelligible its spouted off in a monotone with no inflection to the voice. Anyhow, after coming up Clean I asked him just why I had “hot spots” that needed the pat down when nothing was there. His response was that sometimes the machine gets confused by folds in the clothing etc. Anyhow, its just freaking stupid, everybody knows you will get scanned so nobody will be carrying weapons this way. If you want to carry something, you will do orifice stuffing. Until they start doing Anal and Vaginal cavity checks, this is just a waste of time. I could come up with a zillion other ways to creatively turn the average Wheely Bag into a weapon also.

Anyhow, this bizness doesn’t bug me or embarass me and it certainly does nothing to keep me from carrying my weapons along for the ride. My weapons are words and ideas, and I carry them inside my head, not outside my body or even in my body cavities.When Fatherland Security bans Laptops on Commercial Airlines, I’ll have a problem.  Until then, ” Have Keyboard, Will Travel”.

The next BIG Difference I saw or rather heard was Militarization Propaganda. First off, now in addition to First Class Passengers and Handicapped people and people with small children getting first Boarding Priviledges, Military Personnel in Uniform travelling also get to board first. I saw many more Military in fatigues travelling this go round then I ever have before. There were also numerous announcements about supporting our Troops defending our Freedom and so forth. Tourist and Bizness flying may be declining, but I suspect it is being made up for by the military using the commercial aviation system as a troop transport and redeployment mechanism.

Upon my arrival as I drove down here and saw the sprawl across the Arizona Desert, it drove home to me once again how appallingly unsustainable the model is here, there just is not enough WATER around natively to support towns and communities that are really dropped intot he middle of NOWHERE. They are only there because they serve as waypoints between the very few places that there IS enough water around, like in Yuma which sits right on top of the Colorado River, though by the time it gets down to Yuma its a pretty pathetically small river. Then of course you have the fact that down the line here the water needs of this side of the border are balanced against the needs on the CA side of the border, not to mention the Mexicans.

The water avaialble from the river does make Ag possible around here, I passed numerous Green Farms surrounded by Brown Desert. However, such irrigated Ag has salinization problems over time, and I doubt without liming the soil and the constant input of fossil fuel based fertilizer you could continue making this ag land productive. Then you have the fact its so far from everything and surrounded by vast stretches of Desert with NO water. Even if you can grow stuff around here, how will you move it from here to anywhere else without the Trucks and the Oil?

Regardless of all these very obvious problems, in these last 20 years or so Arizona was very attractive land for RE Developers on the Suburban Sprawl model. There is a lot of land, all very FLAT and easy to layout a road structure on and drop whatever kind of structure it is you would like on it, be it Mcmansions or Malls. The prices could be made attractive to aging Boomer Retirees since the land itself was so cheap. They love the nice Warm and Dry climate also, long as they have HVAC in the Malls and McMansions of course.

Even MORE than McMansions though, what you have down here are a PLETHORA of Bugout Machine Communities. This actually makes the most sense of anything done down here to date. All you need to do to set up a Bugout Machine community is provide Hookups for water, electric and sewer, a Pad to park on and the Retired Boomer can live cheaply down here most of the year, and then occassionaly drive the Bugout machine to visit Grandkids sprinkled all over the rest of the lower 48.

Besides the Boomers living in classy Diesel Pushers, you also have many more lower class older Mobile Home parks which are home to the local Ag workers, and the Service Personnel who staff the restaurants and Malls that serve the retired Boomers. Basically, an economy has developed here which takes the Social Security checks the Boomers live on and then filters it out to the rest of the community through the Malls and Restaraunts. Sense a problem with this?

Really, the economy here depends on the Transfer Payments made through Social Security. The overall cost of living for someone on SS is sufficiently cheap if you live in a Bugout Machine that even with JUST SS you have surplus income to spend at the Mall and Restaraunts. Since aging Boomers looking for cheap places to live on SS is a Growing Demographic, Yuma’s Future was so Bright you Hadda Where Shades if you were an RE Developer, and so they built up yet another one of those MONSTROUS Mall/Hotel complexes, where I am currently writing this missive from. It looks new enough to me that it was likely built in the last decade. Got your Dillards, Target, Sam’s Club, Olive Garden, Red Lobster et al, along with several redundant 3 star Hotels where in theory I suppose the developers figured Grandkids would stay when visiting Boomer Grandma and Grandpa, since they can’t all fit in the Bugout Machine. Also of course trying to attract the Convention Biz, so these hotels have the meeting Rooms and the Spas as well.

Know what I PAID for my spacious and comfy Hotel room here? $40/night on the Travelocity “Super Secret Deals” plan. On this one, you don’t get to know the name of the Hotel until AFTER you pay for it in advance, but I figured what the hell I would take a chance. In my trucking years, I stayed in many Roach Motels, I have no problem with this as long as the place has a working shower, a fridge for my beer and wireless internet I don’t mind sharing the space with a few roaches and spiders and having Welfare Moms for neighbors. I just paid the SAME price I paid for that kind of stay in a Roach Motel at this place! LOL. Its a freaking palace.

Obviously, my $40/night is not going to pay the mortgage on this CRE. This sucker has to be losing money hand over fist here.

View from RE's Room Balcony

However, the Mall and associated Restaurants all seem to be doing OK. Long as the SS checks keep rolling in and the Dollar still works to buy something, Yuma’s Future remains pretty bright overall. You can live overall very cheap in a Bugout Machine here, you don’t have Mildew or Condensation problems, and currently the flow rate from the Colorado river is sufficient to keep the water and sewage systems running OK.

In this respect, the Bugout Machine paradigm is pretty good around here these days, and probably for a little while yet to come also. Its certainly better than anyone who bought one of the Fixed Retirement Homes in the neighborhood, at least when it goes south here if you keep enough Gas inthe tank you’ll have enough to unhook and drive up into the Rocky Mountains where maybe you can find a spot to park it for good that actually gets some Rainfall.

For the older folks who need Medicines also, you can cross the border over to Los Algodones whenever you need to and buy your medications at 20% of what you would pay here for the same stuff. Of course, you will need Gas to get to the Border Parking Lot, and once the dollar goes south or Mejico completely collapses, this system will stop working also.

In the long term, most of the stuff built up around here is an ENORMOUS Ghost Town in the making. Those SS checks are not going to keep coming in perpetuity, and Gas to move around the vast sprawl of the Desert won’t be available either. The Water will get diverted from here to other places also. What this area can support sustainably is FAR less than the number of Bugout Machines you see parked all around the neighborhood. Until the Seneca Effect Sudden Stop occurs though, the economics here work a bit better than they do in some other places like the Rust belt and Inner Shities.

Until this occurs though, you can enjoy a first class Hotel stay and get your Teeth fixed up on the Cheap in Mejico down here in Yuma, and go visit the Prison also, which is a Legendary One and is one of their biggest Tourist Attractions. Culturally speaking of course, if a prison is your big Tourist Attraction, there is something seriously WRONG with your culture to begin with, but let us not dwell on that one too much here.

More tomorrow after I get back from over the Border.

RE

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A Window Into Our World By Cognitive Dissonance   Every year during the early spring awakening I qui [...]

Event Update For 2019-09-18http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.html Th [...]

Event Update For 2019-09-17http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.html Th [...]

Event Update For 2019-09-16http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.html Th [...]

Event Update For 2019-09-15http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.htmlThe [...]

Event Update For 2019-09-14http://jumpingjackflashhypothesis.blogspot.com/2012/02/jumping-jack-flash-hypothesis-its-gas.htmlThe [...]

With fusion energy perpetually 20 years away we now also perpetually have [fill in the blank] years [...]

My mea culpa for having inadvertently neglected FF2F for so long, and an update on the upcoming post [...]

NYC plans to undertake the swindle of the civilisation by suing the companies that have enabled it t [...]

MbS, the personification of the age-old pre-revolutionary scenario in which an expiring regime attem [...]

Daily Doom Photo

man-watching-tv

Sustainability

  • Peak Surfer
  • SUN
  • Transition Voice

The Trickster's Tale"Everyone has some wisdom, but no one has all of it." Come gather 'round my children [...]

Nothing Again - Naomi Klein Renews Her Climate Prescription"By now we should all be well aware by now of the havoc being caused by climate change." I [...]

Leaves of Seagrass"Seawater is the circulatory system of Gaia"In 1855, Walt Whitman penned the free verse, “ [...]

Treeplanting Olympics"Withdrawing 700 gigatons of carbon from the atmosphere could be accomplished by as early as mi [...]

The Dark Cloud"Skynet needs to send a terminator back to 1984 and take out Mark Zuckerberg’s mom before he ca [...]

The folks at Windward have been doing great work at living sustainably for many years now.  Part of [...]

 The Daily SUN☼ Building a Better Tomorrow by Sustaining Universal Needs April 3, 2017 Powering Down [...]

Off the keyboard of Bob Montgomery Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666 Friend us on Facebook Publishe [...]

Visit SUN on Facebook Here [...]

What extinction crisis? Believe it or not, there are still climate science deniers out there. And th [...]

My new book, Abolish Oil Now, will talk about why the climate movement has failed and what we can do [...]

A new climate protest movement out of the UK has taken Europe by storm and made governments sit down [...]

The success of Apollo 11 flipped the American public from skeptics to fans. The climate movement nee [...]

Today's movement to abolish fossil fuels can learn from two different paths that the British an [...]

Top Commentariats

  • Our Finite World
  • Economic Undertow

The thing about intermittent electricity is that it really doesn't substitute for much of anyth [...]

Hi Gail. I saw this in action myself at the Carnegie Mellon School of Architecture (I was their tame [...]

I am sure that the ferry needs a subsidy and this is why it is being cut. According to the article: [...]

"A coastal Alaska fishing town will soon be cut off from vehicles with the closure of its ferry [...]

It does look awfully suspicious. The article seems to make the assertion that these are natural gas [...]

Hi Steve. I recently found what I believe is a little gem, and I'm quite confident you'd a [...]

The Federal Reserve is thinking about capping yields? I don't know how long TPTB can keep this [...]

As some one who has spent years trying to figure out what the limits to growth are. let me say that [...]

Peak oil definitely happened for gods sake. Just because it isn't mad max right now is no indic [...]

@Volvo - KMO says he made some life choices he regrets. Not sure what they were. And I don't th [...]

RE Economics

Going Cashless

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Simplifying the Final Countdown

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Bond Market Collapse and the Banning of Cash

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Do Central Bankers Recognize there is NO GROWTH?

Discuss this article @ the ECONOMICS TABLE inside the...

Singularity of the Dollar

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Kurrency Kollapse: To Print or Not To Print?

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SWISSIE CAPITULATION!

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Of Heat Sinks & Debt Sinks: A Thermodynamic View of Money

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Merry Doomy Christmas

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Peak Customers: The Final Liquidation Sale

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Collapse Fiction

Useful Links

Technical Journals

Barocaloric is a solid-state not-in-kind technology, for cooling and heat pumping, rising as an alte [...]

Terrestrial ecosystems and their vegetation are linked to climate. With the potential of accelerated [...]

The Antarctic Centennial Oscillation (ACO) is a paleoclimate temperature cycle that originates in th [...]