Detroit

Rage Against the Dying of the Lights

From the keyboard of Thomas Lewis
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The lights went out in Hoboken in 2012. They’re going out more often, for longer, in more places. Are you ready? (Photo by Alec Perkins/Flickr)

The lights went out in Hoboken in 2012. They’re going out more often, for longer, in more places. Are you ready? (Photo by Alec Perkins/Flickr)

 

First published at The Daily Impact  December 5, 2014

Much of Detroit went “gentle into that good night” this week, its entire municipal power grid succumbing to age, infirmity and neglect.  It was no big surprise, Detroit’s public buildings (schools, fire and police stations, courts, a hospital, etc.) and traffic signals went dark in 2010, 2011 and 2013. Nor would it have surprised the readers of a recent study [“The Technology and Sociology of Power (Failure)”] whose authors concluded that “Blackouts are dress rehearsals for the future in which they will appear with greater frequency and severity, and as urban areas become more compact, with greater consequences.”

The world, they said, should “prepare for the prospect of coping without electricity as instances of complete power failure become increasingly common.”

It would be a mistake to ascribe Detroit’s woes to the fact that it is insolvent, decrepit, blighted and without the resources to begin healing itself. That description applies to the rest of the country as well, especially where the electric grid is concerned. The American Society of Civil Engineers has been complaining about the deteriorating power grid for years, noting that the number of significant power outages around the country rose from 76 in 2007 to 307 in 2011. Small wonder when you reflect that a network cannot be stronger than its weakest part, and parts of the grid still in use were installed in the 1880s. Most of it was built shortly after World War II.

The problem is just as bad in Europe. Three years ago the insurance company Allianz declared:

“The power blackout risk is generally underestimated. Blackouts during the last ten years in Europe and Northern America have demonstrated an increasing likelihood of supra-regional and long-lasting blackouts including high economical losses. Due to the increasing interconnectedness in combination with rather old infrastructure we expect this risk to increase in both frequency and severity.”

We’re used to hearing about massive blackouts in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Brazil, South Africa and the like, and we often react to them with a feeling of gratitude that we don’t live in a Third World country where such things are common.

For an attitude adjustment, read the official report of how the U.S. power industry got through last January during the coldest winter temperatures in nearly two decades. (Better yet, read about it; as someone who tried to comprehend the official report on the titanic Northeast power failure of 2003, I can tell you it can be a hard slog.) Managing the grid requires maintaining a precise balance between supply and demand, both of which change from nanosecond to nanosecond, with the changes rippling across the country at the speed of light. (There are several interconnected grids covering the U.S. and Canada, but let’s not get lost in the weeds.)

The story of the management of the 2014 cold snap is a nailbiter, as managers are confronted with sudden demands as millions of people tried to stay warm; sudden equipment failures such as generators that were too cold to start when called on; and shortages of fuel, both natural gas and oil, as both supplies and supply lines proved inadequate to the task. As it turned out saving the system from blackout required cutting off a relatively few customers and reducing voltage only slightly, for a short time. But it was a very close thing.

Paying lip service to “renewable energy” by cramming the output of solar panels and wind turbines into the strings and sticks that constitute the grid is increasing the threat of blackouts, according to the newest report on it. That speed-of-light balancing act is made even more difficult by sources that vary their output according to the time of day, the passing of a cloud or the gusting of the wind. The proper application for renewable energy is as distributed energy, which mean making your energy where you use it and not trying to move it across the country first.

All these concerns continue to worsen without catching the attention of the folks who pretend to govern this country. So there will be more Detroits in our future. It is not only the Third World, but the whole world, that should “prepare for the prospect of coping without electricity.”

 

***

 

Thomas Lewis is a nationally recognized and reviewed author of six books, a broadcaster, public speaker and advocate of sustainable living. He also is Editor of The Daily Impact website, and former artist-in-residence at Frostburg State University. He has written several books about collapse issues, including Brace for Impact and Tribulation. Learn more about them here.

 

 

Trying to Stay Sane in an Insane World- At World’s End

Off the keyboard of Jim Quinn

Published on The Burning Platform on September 10, 2013

Cuckoos_Nest

Discuss this article at the Geopolitics Table inside the Diner

In the first three parts (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) of this disheartening look back at a century of central banking, income taxing, military warring, energy depleting and political corrupting, I made a case for why we are in the midst of a financial, commercial, political, social and cultural collapse. In this final installment I’ll give my best estimate as to what happens next and it has a 100% probability of being wrong. There are so many variables involved that it is impossible to predict the exact path to our world’s end. Many people don’t want to hear about the intractable issues or the true reasons for our predicament. They want easy button solutions. They want someone or something to fix their problems. They pray for a technological miracle to save them from decades of irrational myopic decisions. As the domino-like collapse worsens, the feeble minded populace becomes more susceptible to the false promises of tyrants and psychopaths. There are a myriad of thugs, criminals, and autocrats in positions of power who are willing to exploit any means necessary to retain their wealth, power and control. The revelations of governmental malfeasance, un-Constitutional mass espionage of all citizens, and expansion of the Orwellian welfare/warfare surveillance state, from patriots like Julian Assange, Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden has proven beyond a doubt the corrupt establishment are zealously anxious to discard and stomp on the U.S. Constitution in their desire for authoritarian control over our society.

Anyone who denies we are in the midst of an ongoing Crisis that will lead to a collapse of the system as we know it is either a card carrying member of the corrupt establishment, dependent upon the oligarchs for their living, or just one of the willfully ignorant ostriches who choose to put their heads in the sand and hum the Star Spangled Banner as they choose obliviousness to awareness. Thinking is hard. Feeling and believing a storyline is easy.

 

A moral society must be inhabited by an informed, educated, aware populace and   governed by honorable leaders who oversee based upon the nation’s founding principles of liberty, freedom and limited government of, by and for the people. A moral society requires trust, honor, property rights, simple just laws, and the freedom to succeed or fail on your own merits. There is one major problem in creating a true moral society where liberty, freedom, trust, honor and free markets are cherished – human beings. We are a deeply flawed species who are prone to falling prey to the depravities of lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride. Men have always been captivated by the false idols of dominion, power and wealth. The foibles of human nature haven’t changed over the course of history. This is why we have 80 to 100 year cycles driven by the same human strengths and shortcomings revealed throughout recorded history.

Empires rise and fall due to the humanness of their leaders and citizens. The great American Empire is no different. It was created a mere 224 years ago by courageous patriots who risked their wealth and their lives to create a Republic founded upon the principles of freedom, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; took a dreadful wrong turn in 1913 with the creation of a privately held central bank to control its currency and introduction of an income tax; devolved into an empire after World War II, setting it on a course towards bankruptcy; sealed its fate in 1971 by unleashing power hungry psychopathic elitists to manipulate the monetary and fiscal policies of the nation to enrich themselves; and has now entered the final frenzied phase of pillaging, currency debasement, war mongering, and ransacking of civil liberties. Despite the frantic efforts of the financial elite, their politician puppets, and their media propaganda outlets, collapse of this aristocracy of the moneyed is a mathematical certainty. Faith in the system is rapidly diminishing, as the issuance of debt to create the appearance of growth has reached the point of diminishing returns.

 

Increase in Real GDP per Dollar of Incremental Debt

“At the root of America’s economic crisis lies a moral crisis: the decline of civic virtue among America’s political and economic elite. A society of markets, laws, and elections is not enough if the rich and powerful fail to behave with respect, honesty, and compassion toward the rest of society and toward the world.”Jeffrey Sachs

Five Stages of Collapse

The day of reckoning for a century of putting our faith in the wrong people with wrong ideas and evil intentions is upon us. Dmitry Orlov provides a blueprint for the collapse in his book The Five Stages of Collapse – Survivors’ Toolkit:

Stage 1: Financial Collapse. Faith in “business as usual” is lost. The future is no longer assumed to resemble the past in any way that allows risk to be assessed and financial assets to be guaranteed. Financial institutions become insolvent; savings wiped out and access to capital is lost.

Stage 2: Commercial Collapse. Faith that “the market shall provide” is lost. Money is devalued and/or becomes scarce, commodities are hoarded, import and retail chains break down and widespread shortages of survival necessities become the norm.

Stage 3: Political Collapse. Faith that “the government will take care of you” is lost. As official attempts to mitigate widespread loss of access to commercial sources of survival necessities fail to make a difference, the political establishment loses legitimacy and relevance.

Stage 4: Social Collapse. Faith that “your people will take care of you” is lost, as social institutions, be they charities or other groups that rush to fill the power vacuum, run out of resources or fail through internal conflict.

Stage 5: Cultural Collapse. Faith in the goodness of humanity is lost. People lose their capacity for “kindness, generosity, consideration, affection, honesty, hospitality, compassion, charity.” Families disband and compete as individuals for scarce resources. The new motto becomes “May you die today so that I can die tomorrow.”

The collapse is occurring in fits and starts. The stages of collapse do not necessarily have to occur in order.  You can recognize various elements of the first three stages in the United States today. Stage 1 commenced in September 2008 when this Crisis period was catalyzed by the disintegration of the worldwide financial system caused by Wall Street intentionally creating the largest control fraud in world history, with easy money provided by Greenspan/Bernanke, fraudulent mortgage products, fake appraisals, bribing rating agencies to provide AAA ratings to derivatives filled with feces, and having their puppets in the media and political arena provide the propaganda to herd the sheep into the slaughterhouse.

The American people neglected their civic duty to elect leaders who would tell them the truth and represent current and future generations equally. They have neglected the increasing lawlessness of Wall Street, K Street and the corporate suite. The American people have lived in denial about their responsibility for their own financial well-being, willingly delegating it to a government of math challenged politicians who promised trillions more than they could ever deliver. The American people have delayed tackling the dire issues confronting our nation, including: $200 trillion of unfunded liabilities, the military industrial complex creating wars across the globe, militarization of our local police forces, domestic spying on every citizen, allowing mega-corporations and the financial elite to turn our nation from savings based production to debt based consumption, and allowing corporations, the military industrial complex, Wall Street, and shadowy billionaires to pick and control our elected officials. The civic fabric of the country is being torn at the points of extreme vulnerability.

“At home and abroad, these events will reflect the tearing of the civic fabric at points of extreme vulnerability – problem areas where, during the Unraveling, America will have neglected, denied, or delayed needed action. Anger at “mistakes we made” will translate into calls for action, regardless of the heightened public risk. It is unlikely that the catalyst will worsen into a full-fledged catastrophe, since the nation will probably find a way to avert the initial danger and stabilize the situation for a while. Yet even if dire consequences are temporarily averted, America will have entered the Fourth Turning.”  – The Fourth Turning – Strauss & Howe – 1997

Our Brave New World controllers (bankers, politicians, corporate titans, media moguls, shadowy billionaires) were able to avert a full-fledged catastrophe in the fall of 2008 and spring of 2009 which would have put an end to their reign of destruction. To accept the rightful consequences of their foul actions was intolerable to these obscenely wealthy, despicable men. Their loathsome and vile solutions to a crisis they created have done nothing to relieve the pain and suffering of the average person, while further enriching them, as they continue to gorge on the dying carcass of a once thriving nation. Despite overwhelming public outrage, Congress did as they were instructed by their Wall Street masters and handed over $700 billion of taxpayer funds into Wall Street vaults, under the false threat of systematic collapse. The $800 billion of pork stimulus was injected directly into the veins of corporate campaign contributors. The $3 billion Cash for Clunkers scheme resulted in pumping taxpayer dollars into the government owned union car companies, while driving up the prices of used cars and hurting lower income folks.

Ben Bernanke has peddled the false paradigm of quantitative easing (code for printing money and airlifting it to Wall Street) as benefitting Main Street. Nothing could be further from the truth. He bought $1.3 trillion of toxic mortgage backed securities from his Wall Street owners. He has pumped a total of $2.8 trillion into the hands of Wall Street since September 2008, and is singlehandedly generating $5 billion of risk free profits for these deadbeats by paying them .25% on their reserves. Drug dealer Ben continues to pump $2.8 billion per day into the veins of Wall Street addicts and any hint of tapering the heroin causes the addicts to flail about. Ben should be so proud. He should hang a Mission Accomplished banner whenever he gives a speech. Bank profits reached an all-time record in the 2nd quarter, at $42.2 billion, with 80% of those profits going to the 2% Too Big To Trust Wall Street Mega-Goliath Banks. It’s enough to make a soon to retire, and take a Wall Street job, central banker smile.

“The money rate can, indeed, be kept artificially low only by continuous new injections of currency or bank credit in place of real savings. This can create the illusion of more capital just as the addition of water can create the illusion of more milk. But it is a policy of continuous inflation. It is obviously a process involving cumulative danger. The money rate will rise and a crisis will develop if the inflation is reversed, or merely brought to a halt, or even continued at a diminished rate. Cheap money policies, in short, eventually bring about far more violent oscillations in business  than those they are designed to remedy or prevent.” Henry Hazlitt – 1946

Any serious minded person knew Wall Street had too much power, too much control, and too much influence in 2008 when they crashed our economic system. When something is too big to fail because it will create systematic collapse, you make it smaller. Instead we have allowed our sociopathic rulers to allow these parasitic institutions to get even larger. Just 12 mega-banks control 70% of all the banking assets in the country, with 90% controlled by the top 86 banks. There are approximately 8,000 financial institutions in this country. Wall Street will be congratulating themselves with record compensation of $127 billion and record bonuses of $23 billion for a job well done. It is dangerous work making journal entries relieving loan loss reserves, committing foreclosure fraud, marking your assets to unicorn, making deposits at the Fed, and counting on the Bernanke Put to keep stocks rising. During a supposed recovery from 2009 to 2011, average real income per household grew pitifully by 1.7%, but all the gains accrued to Bernanke’s minions. Top 1% incomes grew by 11.2% while bottom 99% incomes shrunk by 0.4%. Therefore, the top 1% captured 121% of the income gains in the first two years of the recovery. This warped trend has only accelerated since 2011.

The median household income has fallen by $2,400 to $52,100 since the government proclaimed the end of the recession in 2009. Real wages for real people continue to fall. A record 23.1 million households (20% of all households) are receiving food stamps. After four years of “recovery” propaganda, we are left with 2.2 million less people employed (5 million less full time jobs) and 22 million more people on SNAP and SSDI. A record 90.5 million working age Americans are not working, with labor participation at a 35 year low. Ben’s money has not trickled down, but his inflation has fallen like a load of bricks on the heads of the middle class. Bernanke’s QE to infinity constitutes a transfer of purchasing power away from the middle class to the bankers, mega-corporations and .1%. This Cantillon effect means that newly created money is neither distributed evenly nor simultaneously among the population. Some users of money profit from rising prices, and others suffer from them. This results in a transfer of wealth (a hidden tax) from later receivers to earlier receivers of new money. This is why the largest banks and largest corporations are generating the highest profits in history, while the average person sinks further into debt as their real income declines and real living expenses (energy, food, clothing, healthcare, tuition) rise.

Screen Shot 2013-03-04 at 12.35.48 PM.png

Ben works for your owners. Real GDP (using the fake government inflation adjustment) since July 2009 is up by a wretched 5.6%. Revenue growth of the biggest corporations in the world is up by a pathetic 12%. One might wonder how corporate profits could be at record levels with such doleful economic performance. One needs to look no further than Ben’s balance sheet, which has increased by 174%. There appears to be a slight correlation between Ben’s money printing and the 162% increase in the S&P 500 index. With the top 1% owning 42.1% of all financial assets (top .1% own most of this) and the bottom 80% owning only 4.7% of all financial assets, one can clearly see who benefits from QE to infinity.

The key take away from what the ruling class has done since 2008 is they have only temporarily delayed the endgame. Their self-serving exploits have guaranteed that round two of the financial collapse will be epic in proportion and intensity. This Fourth Turning Crisis is ongoing. The linear thinkers who control the levers of power keep promising a return to normalcy and resumption of growth. This is an impossibility – mathematically & socially. Fourth Turnings do not end without the existing social order being swept away in a tsunami of turmoil, violence, suffering and war. Orlov’s stages of collapse will likely occur during the remaining fifteen years of this Crisis. We are deep into Stage 1 as our national Detroitification progresses towards bankruptcy, with an added impetus from our trillion dollar wars of choice in the Middle East. Commercial collapse has begun, as faith in the fantasy of free market capitalism is waning. The race to the bottom with currency debasement around the globe is reaching a tipping point, and the true eternal currencies of gold and silver are being hoarded and shipped from the West to the Far East.

Monetary Base (billions of USD)

When the financial collapse reaches its crescendo, the just in time supply chain, that keeps cheese doodles and cheese whiz on your grocery store shelves, Chinese produced iGadgets in your local Wal-Mart Supercenter, and gasoline flowing out of gas station hoses into your leased Cadillac Escalade, will break down rapidly. The strain of $110 oil is already evident. The fireworks will really get going when ATM machines run dry and the EBT cards stop functioning. Within a week riots and panic will engulf the country.

“At some point we are bound to hear, from across two oceans, the shocking words “Your money is no good here.” Fast forward to a week later: banks are closed, ATMs are out of cash, supermarket shelves are bare and gas stations are starting to run out of fuel. And then something happens: the government announces they have formed a crisis task force, and will nationalize, recapitalize and reopen banks, restoring confidence. The banks reopen, under heavy guard, and thousands of people get arrested for attempting to withdraw their savings. Banks close, riots begin. Next, the government decides that, to jump-start commerce, it will honor deposit guarantees and simply hand out cash. They print and arrange for the cash to be handed out. Now everyone has plenty of cash, but there is still no food in the supermarkets or gasoline at the gas stations because by now the international supply chains have broken down and the delivery pipelines are empty.”  Dmitry Orlov – The Five Stages of Collapse

We are witnessing the beginning stages of political collapse. The government and its leaders are being discredited on a daily basis. The mismanagement of fiscal policy, foreign policy and domestic policy, along with the revelations of the NSA conducting mass surveillance against all Americans has led critical thinking Americans to question the legitimacy of the politicians running the show on behalf of the bankers, corporations and arms dealers. The Gestapo like tactics used by the government in Boston was an early warning sign of what is to come. Government entitlement promises will vaporize, as they did in Detroit, with pension promises worth only ten cents on the dollar. Total social and cultural collapse could resemble the chaotic civil war scenarios playing out in Libya and Syria. The best case scenario would be for a collapse similar to the Soviet Union’s relatively peaceful disintegration into impotent republics. I don’t believe we’ll be this fortunate. The most powerful military empire in world history will not fade away. It will go out in a blaze of glory with a currency collapse, hyper-inflation, and war on a grand scale.

“History offers even more sobering warnings: Armed confrontation usually occurs around the climax of Crisis. If there is confrontation, it is likely to lead to war. This could be any kind of war – class war, sectional war, war against global anarchists or terrorists, or superpower war. If there is war, it is likely to culminate in total war, fought until the losing side has been rendered nil – its will broken, territory taken, and leaders captured.”The Fourth Turning – Strauss & Howe – 1997

In Whom Do You Trust?

“Use of money concentrates trust in a single central authority – the central bank – and, over extended periods of time, central banks always tend to misbehave. Eventually the “print” button on the central banker’s emergency console becomes stuck in the depressed position, flooding the world with worthless notes. People trust that money will remain a store of value, and once the trust is violated a gigantic black hole appears at the very center of society, sucking in peoples’ savings and aspirations along with their sense of self-worth. When those who have become psychologically dependent on money as a yardstick, to be applied to everything and everyone, suddenly find themselves in a world where money means nothing, it is as if they have gone blind; they see shapes but can no longer resolve them into objects. The result is anomie – a sense of unreality – accompanied by deep depression. Money is an addiction – substance-less and unreal, and sets itself up for a severe and lengthy withdrawal.” Dmitry Orlov – The Five Stages of Collapse

Our modern world revolves around wealth, the appearance of wealth, the false creation of wealth through the issuance of debt, and trust in the bankers and politicians pulling the levers behind the curtain. The entire world economic system is dependent on trusting central bankers whose only response to any crisis is to create more debt. The death knell is ringing loud and clear, but people around the globe are desperately clinging to their normalcy biases and praying to the gods of cognitive dissonance. It seems the only things that matter to our controllers are stock market levels, the continued flow of debt to the plebs, continued doling out of hush money to those on the dole, and of course an endless supply of brown skinned enemies to attack. With every country in the world attempting to the same solution of debasing their currencies, we are rapidly approaching the tipping point. India is the canary in the coal mine.

Government, Household, Financial & Non-Financial Debt (% of GDP)

An exponential growth model built upon cheap plentiful energy and debt creation has its limits, and we’ve reached them. With the depletion of inexpensive, easily accessible energy resources, higher prices will continue to slow world economies. Demographics in the developed world are slowing the global economy as millions approach their old age with little savings due to over consuming during their peak earnings years. Bernanke has already quadrupled his balance sheet with no meaningful benefit to the economy or the financial well-being of the average middle class American. Financial manipulation that creates nothing has masked the rot consuming our economic system. The game has been rigged in favor of the owners, but even a rigged game eventually comes to an end. Americans and Europeans can no longer maintain a façade of wealth by buying knickknacks from China with money they don’t have. The US and Europe are finding that their credit is no longer good in the exporting Far East countries. This is a perilous development, as the West has depended upon foreigners to accommodate its never ending expansion of credit. Without that continual expansion of debt, the Ponzi scheme comes crashing down. As China, Japan and the rest of Asia have balked at buying U.S. Treasuries with negative real yields, the only recourse for Ben has been to monetize the debt through QE and inflation. The doubling of ten year Treasury rates in a matter of three months due to just talk of possibly slowing QE should send shivers down your spine.

We are supposedly five years past the great crisis. Magazine covers proclaimed Bernanke a hero. If we are well past the crisis, why are the extreme emergency measures still in effect? If the economy is growing and jobs are being created, why do we need $85 billion of government debt to be monetized each and every month? Why are the EU, Japan, and China printing even faster than the Fed? The answer is simple. If the debt was not being monetized, it would have to be purchased out in the free market. Purchasers would require an interest rate far above the 2.9% being paid today. The debt levels in the U.S., Europe and Japan are so large that a rise in interest rates of just a few points would explode budget deficits and lead to a worldwide financial collapse. This is why Bernanke and the rest of his central banker brethren are trapped by their own ideology of bubble production. Just the slowing of debt creation will lead to collapse. Bernanke needs a Syrian crisis to postpone the taper talk. Those in control need an endless number of real or false flag crises to provide cover for their printing presses to keep rolling.

There are a couple analogies that apply to our impending doom. The country is like a 224 year old oak tree that has been slowly rotting on the inside due to the insidious diseases of hubris, apathy, selfishness, dependence, delusion, and debasement. The old oak gives an outward appearance of health and stability. Winter has arrived and gale force winds are in the forecast. One gust of wind and the mighty aged oak will topple and come crashing to earth. I think an even more fitting analogy is the sandpile with grains of sand being added day after day. Seven out of ten Americans receive more in government benefits than they pay in taxes. Goliath corporations and the uber-wealthy use the tax code and legislation to syphon hundreds of billions from the national treasury every year. We spend $1 trillion per year on past, current and future wars of choice. Annual interest on the debt we’ve racked up in the last few decades already approaches $400 billion per year. The entire Federal budget totaled $400 billion in 1977. The sandpile grows ever higher, while its instability expands exponentially. One seemingly innocuous grain of sand will ultimately cause the pile to collapse catastrophically. Will it be an unintended consequence of a missile launch into Syria? Will it be a spike in oil prices? Will it be the collapse of one of the EU PIIGS? Will it be an assassination of a political figure or banker? No one knows. But that innocuous grain of sand will trigger the collapse of the entire pile.

Worried people are looking for solutions. They often get angry at me because they don’t think I provide answers to the issues I raise about our corrupt failing system. They want easy answers to intractable problems. Sadly, I’ve come to the conclusion that our system and majority of citizens are too corrupted to change our course through the ballot box or instituting policies along the lines of those proposed by Ron Paul and many other thoughtful liberty minded people. We are experiencing the downside of a representative democracy.  Once a person is democratically elected a gulf is created between the electors and the person they elected, as the representative becomes corrupted and bought by moneyed interests. Elected officials become a class unto themselves. The political class grows to be puppets that resemble human beings but are nothing but cogs in a vast corporate run machine, pawns in an enormous game of chess played by powerful vindictive immoral men.

There are no cures for our disease. It’s terminal. Anyone telling you they have the answers is either lying or trying to sell you something. More people and organizations are on the take than are playing by the rules. The producers are being overrun by the parasites. The barbarians are at the gate. An implosion of societal trust is underway. The next stage of this crisis, which I believe will materialize within the next twelve months will try the souls of the weary.

“As the Crisis catalyzes, these fears will rush to the surface, jagged and exposed. Distrustful of some things, individuals will feel that their survival requires them to distrust more things. This behavior could cascade into a sudden downward spiral, an implosion of societal trust. This might result in a Great Devaluation, a severe drop in the market price of most financial and real assets. This devaluation could be a short but horrific panic, a free-falling price in a market with no buyers. Or it could be a series of downward ratchets linked to political events that sequentially knock the supports out from under the residual popular trust in the system. As assets devalue, trust will further disintegrate, which will cause assets to devalue further, and so on.”The Fourth Turning – Strauss & Howe – 1997

As a nation we have squandered our inheritance, born of the blood of patriots. A freedom loving, liberty minded, self-responsible, courageous people have allowed ourselves to fall prey to selfishness, apathy, complacency and dependency. Once we allowed our human appetites of greed, power seeking, and control to override the moral responsibility for our own lives and the lives of future unborn generations, collapse was inevitable. The danger now is what happens after the unavoidable collapse. Will the millions of dependency zombies beg for a strong dictator to protect them, provide for them and lead them into further bondage? Or will the spark of liberty and freedom reignite, allowing citizens to throw off the shackles of banker and corporate control? I believe most of the people in this country are good hearted. We are merely pawns in this game of Risk being played by those seeking power, wealth and world domination. We are all trapped in our own forms of normalcy bias. Have I cashed out my retirement funds, sold my suburban house and built a doomstead in the mountains? No I haven’t. Do I second guess myself sometimes? Yes I do. But even the aware have families to support, jobs to go to, bills to pay, laundry to do, lawns to mow, and lives to live. I can’t live in constant fear of what might happen. We only get 80 or so years on this earth, if we’re lucky. The best we can do is leave a positive legacy for our children and their children. A drastic change to our way of life is coming, but most of us are trapped in a cage of our own making.

Each living generation will need to do their part during this Crisis if we are to survive the coming storm. Since no one knows the nature of how the next fifteen years will unfold, it would be wise to at least make basic preparations for food, water, heat and protection. This is easier for some than others, but you don’t have to star on Doomsday Preppers in order to stock up on items that can be purchased at Wal-Mart today, but won’t be available when the global supply chain breaks down. Make sure you have neighbors and family you can rely upon. A small community of like-minded people with varied skills is more likely to succeed in our brave old world than rugged individualists. With no financial means to maintain our globalized world, living locally will take on a new meaning. After much turmoil, chaos, violence, and likely mass casualties the best outcome would be for the Great American Empire to break into regional republics, incapable of waging global war, led by law abiding moral liberty minded individuals, and willing to trade freely and honestly with their fellow republics. Daily life would revert back to a simpler Amish like time. Would that be so bad?

This Fourth Turning could end with a whimper or a bang. There are enough nuclear arms to obliterate the world ten times over. There are enough hubristic egomaniacal psychopathic men in power, that the use of those weapons has a high likelihood of happening. It will be up to the people to not allow this horrific result. I love my country and despise my government. The Declaration of Independence clearly states that when a long train of abuses and usurpations lead toward despotism, it is our right and duty to throw off that government and provide new guards of liberty. My family comes first with my country a close second. I will fight with whatever means necessary to protect my family and do what I can to influence the future course of our country. Time is running out. Will we have the courage, fortitude and wisdom to make the right decisions over the next fifteen years? Will we choose glory or destruction? The fate of our nation hangs in the balance. Are you prepared? Are you ready to fight for your family and your rights?

The Fourth Turning could spare modernity but mark the end of our nation. It could close the book on the political constitution, popular culture, and moral standing that the word America has come to signify. The nation has endured for three saecula; Rome lasted twelve, the Soviet Union only one. Fourth Turnings are critical thresholds for national survival. Each of the last three American Crises produced moments of extreme danger: In the Revolution, the very birth of the republic hung by a thread in more than one battle. In the Civil War, the union barely survived a four-year slaughter that in its own time was regarded as the most lethal war in history. In World War II, the nation destroyed an enemy of democracy that for a time was winning; had the enemy won, America might have itself been destroyed. In all likelihood, the next Crisis will present the nation with a threat and a consequence on a similar scale.The Fourth Turning – Strauss & Howe – 1997

 

 IT’S OUR CHOICE.

This Was The Week That Was In Doom July 29, 2013

From the Keyboard of Surly1

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on July 29, 2013

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Discuss this article here in the Diner Forum.

WHEN I heard the learn’d astronomer;

When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me;

When I was shown the charts and the diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them;

When I, sitting, heard the astronomer, where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,

How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick;

Till rising and gliding out, I wander’d off by myself,

In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,

Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

 

  ~Walt Whitman, “Leaves of Grass”

 

Like Whitman’s “learned astronomer,” we hear “experts” way in on both sides of the debate, wherever a  debate can be found or manufactured. Peak oil? Climate change? The age of the earth? Many of those unimpressed by modernism, and especially those with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo, urge their hirelings to “teach the controversy.” In other words, manufacture a controversy where none exists, in the face of a mountain of available evidence to the contrary. Thus do we have petroleum industry shills bleating mightily about subsidies for windmills at a time when carbon dioxide had reached 400 ppm in the atmosphere, a level said to herald a threshold of impending doom.  At a time when we’re burning everything we can get our hands on, we’re also destroying the last great aboriginal rain forest in Brazil, ripping out the earth’s lungs one forest at a time. All in the name of the only religion worth mentioning, certainly the only one  practiced in this nominally Christian country, the worship of money. In spite of the evidence, the proofs, the theorems, we are unable to rouse ourselves to do anything about getting off the petroleum crack pipe; about ending domestic spying; about economic justice; about saving a once great city, mostly because poor people live there.  Little wonder, then, that so many of us simply want to wander off by ourselves, and consider the perfect silence of the firmament. Perhaps the answer lies there? We doubt it: as another poet, William Shakespeare, once said, “the answer lies not in our stars, but in ourselves.”

______________________________________________

 

 

A onetime friend of mine Posted this on my Facebook wall. It purported to be from an organization called the Institute for energy research. A posted an article included the following:

 

One of the largest wind facilities in the world is benefiting from millions of dollars in state tax credits it is not qualified for and does not need, according to a recent series of investigative reports in The Oregonian.

The 845 megawatt Shepherds Flat wind facility that opened in 2012 received final approval last month from the Oregon Department of Energy (ODOE) for three separate tax credits totaling $30 million. Caithness Energy, owner of Shepherds Flat, was able to secure the credits by defining the project as three separate wind facilities. But as the new reports reveal, Shepherds Flat likely qualifies for just one out of three Business Energy Tax Credits under explicit ODOE rules that determine what constitutes a “separate and distinct” facility.

Now there may be merits in the report, as far as the operations of the business and the qualification for certain tax credits, especially as the story originated with a newspaper.  yet what interested me was this “Institute for energy research.” Wouldn’t an organization interested in energy research  be interested in alternative energy sources, including more efficient turbine generation for windmills? So I looked under the hood. It didn’t take long to find a dead cat on the engine. Here is what you need to know about IER:

The Institute for Energy Research (IER), is a Washington, DC-based non-profit corporation that conducts “research and analysis” on the functions, operations, and government regulation of global energy markets.

[quote]The Institute’s CEO, Robert L. Bradley, Jr., was formerly a director of policy analysis at Enron, where he wrote speeches for Kenneth Lay. He has written seven books, including Capitalism at Work and Edison to Enron,[5] and he maintains the website Political Capitalism. He is also an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute.

Robert L. Bradley, Jr., President of the Institute for Energy Research, wrote an article published by Competitive Enterprise Institute, entitled “Heated Debate”[8] to respond to a negative review by Harvard Professor John P. Holdren of the 2001 international best seller The Skeptical Environmentalist by Bjørn Lomborg. Lomberg was inspired to write his book after he read an article entitled “The Doomslayer”[9] profiling Julian L. Simon. Lomberg was honored in 2003 with the libertarian Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Julian L. Simon award. The award was given to Robert L. Bradley in 2002 and more recently in 2012 to Matt Ridley, who is also skeptical about climate change.

Once again, we see the long arm of the Koch brothers at work.  Rust never sleeps.  It gets better:

The Institute for Energy Research has a political arm, the American Energy Alliance, which is responsible for multi-million dollar television advertising campaigns that have attacked energy policy, ideas and positions of the Obama Administration that are contrary to the those held by IER. The American Energy Alliance is run by Thomas (Tom) Pyle, a former lobbyist for Koch Industries. According the its website, the Alliance engages in “grassroots public policy advocacy and debate” regarding energy.

Both IER and the American Energy Alliance are partly funded by the Koch Brothers and their donor network, according to Politico’s research, sources – and to reports by Koch-controlled charitable foundations themselves. The American Energy Alliance, as a matter of policy, does not disclose the names of its donors.

American Energy Alliance provide an online petition to U. S. Secretary of State John Kerry regarding the US federal government administration’s approval of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline extension. American Energy Alliance compare the extended time for the application approval to the time it took for the Allies “to win World War II.”[11]
Wind Production Tax Credit (PTC)

Benjamin Cole, a spokesman for American Energy Alliance told Politico in October 2012 that, “Our [American Energy Alliance] goal is to make the United States Wind Energy Policy#Wind Production Tax Credit so toxic that it makes it impossible for John Boehner to sit at a table with Harry Reid and say, ‘Yeah, I can bend on this one.’”

By their deeds shall we know them. Their work certainly speaks for itself.

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Congress affirms NSA spying

Or maybe this should be filed under, “You’re Shitting Me, Right?

A vote vote in the House this past week on an amendment to  curtail domestic spying failed, in a result that was much closer than either side realized. It also smoked out those members of the so-called “liberal” party that think it’s a really good idea that the NSA sniff your crotch.

“There is a real division within each party on this issue,” Norman J. Ornstein, a renowned expert on U.S. politics, said.

This was evident in the U.S. Congress on Wednesday, when a vote to curtail domestic spying by the National Security Agency (NSA) sundered the Democratic and Republican parties alike.

The vote was the first of its kind to take place since the revelations by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden which, when published by The Guardian newspaper, exposed a degree of domestic surveillance far greater in scale and scope than was previously understood by the public.

The 217-205 decision to reject an amendment blocking spending on NSA domestic spying was so close that one political commentator called it a “nail biter”. Of the 205 votes in favour, 111 were from Democrats and 94 from Republicans, and of the 217 votes opposed, 83 were from Democrats votes and 134 from Republicans.

“You’re not going to see many votes like this,” says Ornstein.

The divisions mirror popular opinion in the country. I myself am the wrong one to ask with the mood of the people is, as I was gobsmacked when Reagan beat Carter in 1979. So the fact that the Pew Research Center says that 57% of Democrats approve of government spying along with 44% of Republicans, all I can do is shake my head, go outside, and stare at the stars.

As noted above, the vote did result in “the outing of the shills.” As this vote illustrates, both sides of the aisle are equally corrupt and controlled.  One could be impressed by the fact that Debbie Wasserman Shultz voted the same way as John Boehner.  Strange bedfellows, indeed. Although perhaps not so strange, if you follow the money.

Lawmakers Who Upheld NSA Phone Spying Received Double the Defense Industry Cash. The numbers tell the story — in votes and dollars. On Wednesday, the house voted 217 to 205 not to rein in the NSA’s phone-spying dragnet. It turns out that those 217 “no” voters received twice as much campaign financing from the defense and intelligence industry as the 205 “yes” voters.

Overall, political action committees and employees from defense and intelligence firms such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, United Technologies, Honeywell International, and others ponied up $12.97 million in donations for a two-year period ending December 31, 2012, according to the analysis, which MapLight performed with financing data from OpenSecrets. Lawmakers who voted to continue the NSA dragnet-surveillance program averaged $41,635 from the pot, whereas House members who voted to repeal authority averaged $18,765.

Res ipsa loquitor.

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The Snowden Effect

Not surprisingly, Charlie Pierce observed this entire trail of tears and had a few trenchant observations of his own:

With defunding stuff all the rage among Washington Republicans these days, you could have missed Rep. Justin Amash’s long-bomb attempt to defund the National Security Agency’s secret attempts to Hoover up cellphone records from millions of Americans.Some Democrats in the House have signed aboard, which apparently has given the administration sufficient agita as to cause a sudden lapse into illogic and incoherence. This is the argument that the White House is making to try and get Democrats not to support Amash’s Hail Mary.

“In light of the recent unauthorized disclosures, the President has said that he welcomes a debate about how best to simultaneously safeguard both our national security and the privacy of our citizens… However, we oppose the current effort in the House to hastily dismantle one of our Intelligence Community’s counterterrorism tools. This blunt approach is not the product of an informed, open, or deliberative process.”    
The hell you say.
A bill is being proposed and debated in a public session of the national legislature and that’s not an “informed, open, or deliberative process.” As opposed to what, a secret program, validated on the basis of secret evidence, by a secret court?  Hell, the Amash bill is the only informed, open and deliberative thing about this whole mess. If you’re welcoming a debate, then welcome the debate. If you don’t, then don’t. But don’t throw out laughable statements like this one. You sound like a bunch of East Germans.
And, once again, his mad international PR skillz aside, if Edward Snowden had not done what he did, the debate is not happening.
 Interestingly, Bill Maher  made very same point at the end of this program on Friday night. Clearly either Maher or his writers read Pierce.  No matter: it’s the truth.

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Woman Wants Possessions Back After Bank Tried To Repossess Wrong House

 

You think it would be straightforward. The bank tried to repossess the wrong house. The wrong woman would like her belongings back. No, this is the FSA, were banks can do no wrong, and if you’re a citizen and run afoul of one, well, it sucks to be you.

Katie Barnett says that the First National Bank in Wellston foreclosed on her house, even though it was not her bank.

“They repossessed my house on accident, thinking it was the house across the street,” Barnett said.

Barnett, who had been away from the house for about two weeks, said she had to crawl through the window of her own house in order to get in after she used her own key that did not work. 

Some of the items in her house had been hauled away, others were sold, given away and trashed.

It turns out the bank sent someone to repossess the house located across the street from Barnett’s house, but by mistake broke into hers instead.

“They told me that the GPS led them to my house,” Barnett said. “My grass hadn’t been mowed and they just assumed.”

She called the McArthur Police about the incident, but weeks later, the chief announced the case was closed.

Barnett said that according to the bank president, this was the first time something like this has happened.

She presented him with an $18,000 estimate to replace the losses, but the president refused to pay.

 “He got very firm with me and said, ‘We’re not paying you retail here, that’s just the way it is,’” Barnett said. “I did not tell them to come in my house and make me an offer. They took my stuff and I want it back.”

An update to this story shows the bank has responded in its most bankly way: they apologized on their website, while telling Ms. Barnett to go fuck herself.. They asked Ms. Barnett to produce receipts for her belongings, but any receipts that she may have had were probably with the belongings that the bank looted and confiscated, then disposed of. But don’t think that the First National Bank of Wellstone doesn’t have Barnett’s best interest at heart: they offered to replace her missing bow flex machine with a bow flex they found on the side of the road. In a just world the story would be getting serious play, and the bankers made to suffer the kind of public humiliation generally reserved for pederasts and men who have sex with livestock.  But the good bankers will probably show up at the next Chamber of Commerce breakfast, backslapping their buddies, and gloating over this quarter’s results.  And probably sitting next to the chief of police.  And Katie Barnett? All she wants is her stuff back. Her, and the rest of the country. . .

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No Singing Zone

The state rotunda in Madison Wisconsin is now declared a no singing zone.

Capital police last week arrested protesters of Gov. Scott Walker on the charges of violating state permanent rules by singing in the Statehouse rotunda. According to the Journal-Sentinel,

Twenty-two of the roughly 60 protesters — including a pair of Madison talk radio hosts — were led away in flex-tie restraints as dozens of legislative aides and journalists looked on from a few steps away and from higher floors.

Demonstrators have continued to gather in the Capitol for their near-dailysinging protest despite a recent federal judge’s ruling partially backing the Walker administration’s stance and repeated declarations by police that it was an “unlawful event.”

Police once again warned demonstrators early in Wednesday’s singalong, both by loudspeaker and by a handwritten sign in the Capitol rotunda, to leave or be “subject to arrest.” But many kept on singing.

 

 

The Capitol police  have already issued hundreds of citations over the past several years for the crime of assembling in the peoples’ House.  Not surprisingly, Pierce had a take on this.

 

Ever since Walker began his campaign to turn Wisconsin into a client state for various corporations, which is to say, practically since he was elected in 2010, and certainly since he was reaffirmed in office a year later, people who don’t necessarily enjoy being residents of a corporate client state have been gathering in the rotunda of the capitol building to sing various songs of opposition and resistance. They call themselves the Solidarity Singers, and they apparently have  into the Gulf of Mexico something of an annoyance to Scott Walker, probably because none of them own a mining company, so, this week, his pals in the legislature sic’ced his capitol police on the singers, busting the lot of them, including elderly men and women, and the odd journalist …

This being Wisconsin, where most of the progressive notions of the 20th century were born, which is why Walker and his various sugar-daddies are trying to roll them back in the 21st, there are old rules and traditions that were put in place to make sure the state capitol was not garrisoned against the people and their right, however musically they exercise it, to petition their government for a redress of grievances. The ACLU of Wisconsin, which won an injunction against the capitol police in response to an earlier spate of arrests, considers this latest action a question of fat men with clubs squeezing through a loophole.

Under the new permitting policy, groups as small as four were forced to obtain prior permission from the government before they engaged in expression “for the purpose of actively promoting any cause.” The new rules also prohibited people from gathering in the Capitol for any performance, ceremony, presentation, meeting or rally without a permit. In his 47-page decision, Judge Conley wrote that the Capitol’s “design was intended to embody… the pursuit of fair and open government informed by an educated, politically involved citizenry and the ‘Wisconsin idea.'”

This has nothing to do with public safety. I’ve been in that rotunda. It’s huge. You could bring in Up With People, and there’d still be room for the daily business of selling Wisconsin off wholesale to get done around them. This is about inconveniencing a guy who wants to run for president based on his record of selling Wisconsin off wholesale. This is about video he doesn’t like and people who harsh his mellow. Which happens to be what the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and Article I of the constitution of what once was the state of Wisconsin, are all about, too.

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Halliburton: “What, Me Worry?”

Deepwater_horizon_platform_sinking

I know we are a people who have no memory, but does anybody else remember that BP fiasco? You know, the one where millions of gallons of crude oil went  gushing into the Gulf of Mexico? That deepwater Horizon thingy? You might think that if there were a functioning rule of law anywhere in this country,  that if the Corporation admitted destroying evidence that led to to spoil and a significant natural resource and fishery, they might face a fine greater than $200,000. But I answer myself. The rule of law functions just fine in this country thank you very much, in accordance with the operating principles of those who purchased the legislators:

Halliburton has admitted destroying evidence in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and will plead guilty to a criminal charge, the Justice Department announced Thursday.

Under the plea agreement, which requires court approval, Houston-based Halliburton will also face three years’ probation, pay the maximum fine of $200,000 and continue to cooperate in the Justice Department’s criminal investigation of the April 2010 explosion and fire on the drilling platform, which killed 11 rig workers off Louisiana.

The Justice Department said it would not pursue further criminal charges against Halliburton or its subsidiaries.

Separately, Halliburton made a $55 million “voluntary contribution” to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

In a statement Thursday night, Halliburton noted that the Justice Department “acknowledged the company’s significant and valuable cooperation during the course of its investigation, and the company has agreed to continue to cooperate … in any ongoing investigation related to or arising from the incident.”

The spill was the largest in U.S. history: Nearly 5 million barrels of crude oil poured into the Gulf before the sea-floor gusher was capped three months later.

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Michael Hastings Watch: $25 gadget lets hackers seize control of a car

 

After journalist Michael Hastings’s death, there were rumours that his car had been hacked. Now two researchers say they can do it for real

IN THE early hours of 18 June, a Mercedes coupé travelling at extremely high speed along a Los Angeles street smashed into a palm tree. It exploded into flames, killing the driver; the impact ejected the engine 50 metres clear of the car. Was it an accident? Or was the car hacked, allowing it to be driven off the road by remote control?

The very idea might sound crazy – but it’s one that Richard Clarke, a former counterterrorism adviser to the US National Security Council, has raised after the driver was identified as Rolling Stone journalist Michael Hastings. Known for his revealing articles on the US military and its intelligence agencies, Hastings had emailed colleagues the day before he died to say that he was going “off the radar for a bit” to chase down a “big story”.

“What evidence is available publicly is consistent with a car cyberattack,” says Clarke in a Huffington Post interview. Intelligence agencies, he says, can remotely seize control of a car to make it accelerate wildly or brake suddenly, for instance.

Clarke cited research, carried out for the US National Academy of Sciences, showing that “connected cars” – equipped with built-in cellular technologyused by dashboard apps and engine-monitoring software – can be hacked remotely. But proof that it could be done in practice has been lacking.

That looks set to change on 27 July, when Spanish engineers Javier Vázquez Vidal and Alberto Garcia Illera will give a demonstration at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. They have built a $25 device that lets them bypass security in a car’s electronic control unit.

The brains of a modern car, the ECU is a computer that controls engine power, transmission and braking. Mechanics can diagnose faults by plugging a laptop into it via standard wired connectors such as the CAN bus.

Alternatively, remote diagnostics and software updates can take place over a cellular network, as happens with services such as General Motors’ OnStarand Mercedes-Benz’s Mbrace.

Vázquez Vidal and Garcia Illera will show how their device – which they claim uses a $1 chip to break encryption – can read from and write data to the flash memory of commonly used ECUs, made by Bosch of Germany.

Whatever the causes of Michael Hastings’s crash, the need to make cars secure against hacking will only become more acute. The next version of Vázquez Vidal and Garcia Illera’s device won’t even need plugging in to the target car. “I am already working on a wireless version,” Vázquez Vidal says.

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Add Hacking news:

Hacker Barnaby Jack dies in San Francisco aged 35


Barnaby Jack, who became famous after demonstrating an ATM hack, died on Thursday – but coroners did not give details. He was 36.A prominent professional hacker who discovered a way to have ATMs spit out cash, Mr. Jack died Thursday, authorities and his employer said. The cause of death is under investigation, San Francisco Deputy Coroner Kris Barbrich said.Craig Brophy, a spokesman for computer security firm IOActive, where Mr. Jack was director of embedded device security, confirmed his death and said the company would be issuing a statement.Mr. Jack was scheduled to speak Thursday at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas. The title of his talk was “Implantable Medical Devices: Hacking Humans,” according to the Black Hat conference website.Mr. Jack planned to reveal software that uses a common transmitter to scan for and “interrogate” individual medical implants, the website said.
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Jackals circle Detroit

Department of first things first:

Even as the city of Detroit goes bankrupt, Michigan’s state legislature approved Wednesday a $450 million bond offering that would form the public backbone of a new stadium for the Detroit Red Wings.  The bonds will be floated by the Michigan Strategic Fund, which handles all of the state’s private development funds. The public, $283 million portion of the bonds will come from the Downtown Development Authority, which earmarks a slice of downtown Detroit property taxes for reinvestment there.

In the US of A, billionaire sports owners are not to be held responsible for building their own stadiums, that is the public’s job.  Their job is to rake in the profits.  Meanwhile, the city itself will not be allowed to collect these earmarked downtown property taxes for such things as schools, police, infrastructure rebuilding and the like, or for retirement obligations to its workers, who might just have to find a cheaper grade of cat food.

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Add Detroit

No need for annotation here. An inspired rant from Firedoglake:

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing said on ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos” that one option not on the table is a federal bailout. “I think it’s very difficult right now to ask directly for support,” he said.

Well yeah. It is difficult to ask directly for support. It’s not like you’re a financial institution, after all.

It’s not like you spent the past 15 years putting the entire national economy on red in Vegas.

It’s not like you bet against your own customers and then sold them out without telling them.

It’s not like you took your federal bailouts and then backed a greedy fuck in the next election whose campaign did nothing but bash the entire CONCEPT of federal government.

It’s not like you reacted to the slightest attempt to regulate your business like someone who just watched his puppy gunned down in the street, and then demanded the rest of the world treat your feelings like a national emergency.

If you were one of those guys, hey, no problem. The free money pile is that way. Here’s a wheelbarrow. May we push it for you? Wouldn’t want you to strain your back.

Now come vulturous fucks Kevyn Orr and Rick Snyder to tell other people it’s time to get “real,” because apparently losing your house and a retirement income YOU WERE PROMISED and facing the possibility of living in your car as a reward for working your whole life for the public isn’t “real.”

Now come Kevyn Orr and Rick Snyder, scraping their beaks on the bones of the wounded, to explain how they have no choice but to take everything away from people who have nothing, because sometime in the past somebody had the stupid idea that we should take responsibility for the people who take responsibility for us.

Kevyn Orr, by the way, is getting paid $275,000 to tell people who made $35,000 a year their whole lives to get real. Just in case your irony meter wasn’t already buried in the red zone. The public has no choice but to pay him, I assume, the same way it has no choice but to act like people who retired because they had every expectation of being able to retire because they had done literally everything in their lives right at this point are the anchor dragging Detroit down.

If only they’d crashed the entire trading floor, left the housing market in ruins, and bitched to the WSJ’s editorial board about how mean everybody was. Then they could belly up to the federal bar and order a double of whatever the banks are having.

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You’re Shitting Me, right?

Another installment of those stories that moved that you can’t even believe are true, as if writers for The Onion were generating headlines. We live in times that sorely test one’s capacity for satire, and herin is the proof:

Remember the geniuses that gave us this a couple of weeks ago?

KTVU, the Oakland Fox affiliate station that reported four fake, racially insensitive names for pilots of Asiana flight 214 on a July 12 broadcast, has responded to the embarrassing gaffe by firing three veteran producers after an in-house investigation.

Amid the fiasco, ousted producer Roland De Wolk attempted to defend his reputation to The Wrap when reached via email. Unfortunately for him, his defense was undermined by misspellings that TheWrap presumed “unintentional”:

“My hard-earned reputation is intack. There are lawyers, so eager as I am to anser all questions, I must refrain.”

More damaging for De Wolk, though, is a report from SF Weekly that challenged the supposed “intackness” of De Wolk’s reputation, instead calling it “somewhat checkered.”

___________________

#NoNeedToSatirize: McCain promises strippers that $1 coins means bigger tips

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) says he’s got a stimulus package for the strippers of America.

The former Republican presidential nominee is one of several senators supporting the COINS Act to replace the dollar bill with a dollar coin. They argue that the the move would save billions in printing costs.

But Daniel Harris, the owner of Archibald’s Gentleman’s Club in Washington, D.C., told The Hill in 2011 that he couldn’t sign on to the plan because his dancers relied on paper dollars.

“You can’t put a coin in a garter belt,” Harris said. “I think it would be very awkward for everyone involved. How much more would a coin weigh than a dollar bill? It would be very hard.”

On Thursday, The Hill asked McCain to think of the strippers.

“Then I hope that they could obtain larger denominations,” the senator quipped. “Fives, tens, one hundreds!”

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Open Season on Minorities, post-Martin verdict

#NoNeedToSatirize: National Review: Stay Away from Black Men (Again)

The National Review has warned its readers to stay away from black men.

In a column titled “Facing Facts About Race,” National Review writer and military historian Victor Davis Hanson explained how racism is passed from generation to generation of men in his family.

He begins by sharing his father’s warnings about “black youths” before claiming, “the advice was not about race per se, but instead about the tendency of males of one particular age and race to commit an inordinate amount of violent crime.”

Next, he let readers in on his own racist child rearing. “It was after some first-hand episodes with young African-American males that I offered a similar lecture to my own son. The advice was born out of experience rather than subjective stereotyping.”

Finally, Hanson laments, “I expect that my son already has his own warnings prepared to pass on to his own future children.”

***

#NoNeedToSatirize: GOP chairman: I don’t really care for the word tolerance 

Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus assured social conservatives on Monday that the GOP was not going to embrace “tolerance” as part of its rebranding efforts.

“I don’t know if I’ve used the word ‘tolerance,’ I don’t really care for that word myself,” he told theChristian Broadcasting Network. “I don’t have a problem with it, I just think it has another meaning politically that can go the other direction.”

Priebus said Republicans would continue to oppose same-sex marriage and seek to ban abortion in the United States. He described both as “foundational issues,” but said Republicans needed to adopted a more tolerant tone.

“If you’re looking at the evidence, what you will see is a party that embraces life, a party that embraces marriage and a chairman that understands that there’s only one sovereign God and that we ultimately aren’t dependent on what happens in politics,” Priebus explained. “What ultimately matters in our lives is that we’re salt and light in the world and that we’re honoring God in the things that we do every day. I get that. I think our party gets that and there’s never been a movement away from that.”

 

***

Add Tolerance

#NoNeedToSatirize: Gohmert likens minorities to prairie chickens and ‘various lizards’

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) on Wednesday mocked an effort by Democrats to protect the rights of African-Americans by saying their amendment was actually meant for “the snail darter, various lizards, the lesser prairie chicken, the greater sage grouse and so many other insects.”

During a House Judiciary Committee hearing on the Sunshine for the Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act, a Republican-sponsored bill that Democrats say is unnecessary and is written so broadly that it could block individual discrimination lawsuits brought forth by federal employees.

Think Progress obtained video of Gohmert objecting to an amendment offered by Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) that would have stopped third parties from blocking regulatory actions that were intended to prevent discrimination based on sex, race or national origin.

The Texas Republican argued that the amendment was more about protecting wildlife than minorities and other groups.

“There is nobody in this chamber who is more appreciative than I am for the gentleman from Tennessee and my friend from Michigan standing up for the rights of race, religion, national religion of the Delta Smelt, the snail darter, various lizards, the lesser prairie chicken, the greater sage grouse and so many other insects who would want someone standing for their religion, their race, their national origin and I think that’s wonderful,” Gohmert quipped.

He added that the original Republican bill would actually “protect interests” of minorities because it provided for greater transparency.

“It will not allow for some conservative or radical right-wing administration or group in the fish and wildlife to cut a deal with some right-wing radical group and we never know about it so nobody can intervene and stop it,” Gohmert insisted. “So you don’t have some group that is directly aligned with somebody in the administration at that point coming together, cutting a sweetheart deal between themselves, to the determent of the race, religion and national religion of snail darters and other animals and fish and wildlife.”

“I’ve got to express umbrage at the idea that African-Americans and Jews are like snail darters,” Cohen replied.

“The gentlemen will take note what this bill is about!” Gohmert shouted. “It’s not about race, it’s about endangered species.”

“The amendment is about civil rights!” Cohen shot back.

“If the gentlemen can point to an endangered species in this country that is a human being, I am with him 100 percent!” Gohmert exclaimed

Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) told Think Progress that Gohmert’s claim that the amendment was about wildlife was ridiculous.

“This is not a snail darter’s amendment, it is not an environmental amendment, it is a civil rights amendment, and we’re talking about the civil rights of people — the civil rights of people that have been violated egregiously for generations in this country,” Nadler explained.

In the end, Cohen’s amendment was defeated along party lines in a 13 to 16 vote.

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California Cop Who Pepper-Sprayed Students Claims Psychiatric Damage

John Pike became, through his brutality and stupidity, an iconic image. Now he is playing the well practiced victim card often employed by the right.

A former University of California, Davis police officer who was fired after pepper spraying a group of students staging a protest in 2011, and whose actions went viral on the internet, is seeking workers’ compensation settlement, claiming the incident left him psychologically injured.

John Pike was fired in July 2012, following an internal affairs investigation regarding his actions at a November protest on the campus.  In a video that spread across the Internet, Pike can be seen aiming pepper spray in the faces of students sitting passively protesting tuition increases and in solidarity with the Occupy movement.

Pike has a settlement hearing scheduled for Aug. 13, according to the Department of Industrial Relations website.

His claim pertains to a “nervous system – psychiatric” injury according to department documents published online.

UC Davis officials confirmed Pike had filed a claim. “The university is required to follow the worker’s compensation process. We are not in agreement with the benefits being claimed,” said Andy Fell, a university spokesman.

Also here: http://www.businessinsider.com#ixzz2aL7uCCfm

 

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And perhaps the piece-de-resistance for the week

Pennsylvania police chief: F*ck all you libtards out there, you take it in the a**

The mayor of Gilberton, Pennsylvania is standing by her city’s police chief despite a series of profanity-laced and threatening videos.

In a video that has received wide attention, police chief Mark Kessler repeatedly tells those upset by his use of profanity to “go f*ck yourself” as he fires various automatic weapons.

Mayor Mary Lou Hannon told The Morning Call that Kessler had the right to express himself. The city would “not take action to quash free speech, whether or not each member of council or any member of council agrees with it.”

Kessler has uploaded several profanity-laced videos to YouTube. In one video, Kessler berates “libtards” and warns of an armed rebellion against the government.

“F*ck all you libtards out there, as a matter of fact, read my shirt,” he says, turning around to show a message on his back which read, “Liberals take it in the a**.”

“You take it in the ass and I don’t give a f*ck what you say so you can all just go f*ck yourselves. Period. I wont be going to D.C. and I don’t give a f*ck. If you f*cking maniacs want to turn this into an armed revolt, knock yourselves out. I’m not about that, so see you on the other side.”

In a video on basic pistol defense, Kessler repeatedly shoots a picture of a scary clown, which he says is Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). He calls Secretary of State John Kerry a “c*cksucker” in another video before firing off an automatic weapon.

Tuesday on his Facebook page, Kessler called for a massive rally to “show these tyrants we will not stand for any more violations on our constitution or our freedoms.”

____________________________________________

 

That’s it for this week’s lesson in lack of faith in humanity. We’ll try it again next week!

Requiem for Detroit

Off the keyboard of James Howard Kunstler

Published on Clusterfuck Nation on July 22, 2013

Detroit Packard Plant.  The largest abandoned factory plant in the World.

Detroit Packard Plant. The largest abandoned factory plant in the World.

Discuss this article at the Detroit Table inside the Diner

Kunstler I was in Detroit in 1990 — not my first time — poking around to get a deeper feel for the place so I could write a chapter about it in The Geography of Nowhere. At mid-day, I was driving on one of the great avenues that radiates out of the old Beaux Arts  fan of streets that emanates from the Grand Circus at the heart of downtown — Woodward or Cass or Gratiot, I forget. It was a six or eight laner, and everything along both sides was either some kind of

social service installation or vacant. There was no traffic, by which I mean not merely a smooth flow of cars, but no other cars whatsoever. For at least a mile, my rent-a-car was the only vehicle on the street. Finally I saw another car up ahead, in my lane, coming straight at me. It continued bearing down on me, until the last 100 feet or so when it veered around me with an indignant blare of the horn. It was only about then that I noticed a sign indicating that I was on a one-way street. Downtown Detroit was so empty that I could drive a good mile the wrong way without knowing it.

      Detroit’s decline and fall was long and gruesome. Back then, just outside the downtown of 1920s skyscrapers, there were whole neighborhoods of formerly magnificent old mansions in the most amazing states of dilapidation, with sagging porches, chimneys tilting at impossible angles, and whole exterior walls missing to reveal eerie dollhouse-like vignettes of rooms painted different colors, formerly lived in. These were built by the wealthy magnates of the Great Lakes frontier — the timber and copper kings, manufacturers of paint, coal stoves,  etc — before the car industry was even a gleam in  Henry Ford’s flinty eye. Over the 1990s they were all torched in the annual Halloween ritual called Devil’s Night. The next time I came back to Detroit, there were wildflower meadows where those ruined mansions had been. In a mere century, all that grandeur had arisen and been erased.

     The grandest ruin of Detroit is the much-photographed main train station, with its attached office tower. The old neo-classical hulk had been neglected for so many decades that mature ailanthus trees were growing out of the parapets. I was back in downtown Detroit, around Cadillac Square, in the1990s shooting some “walk-and-talk” for a documentary at rush hour on a weekday evening and it was like the night of the living dead there. The old Hudson’s department store was dark and empty and the Statler Hotel had plywood sheets over every window. (It was demolished in 2005.) We were the only humans in the vicinity at 5:30 pm.

     It’s fitting that Detroit is the first great American city to officially bite the dust, because it produced the means of America’s suicidal destruction: the automobile. Of course you could argue that the motorcar was an inevitable product of the industrial era — and I would not bother to enlist a mob of post-doc philosophy professors to debate that — but the choices we made about what to do with the automobile is another matter. What we chose was to let our great cities go to hell and move outside them in a car-dependent utopia tricked out as a simulacrum of “country living.” The entire experiment of suburbia can, of course, be construed as historically inevitable, too, but is also destined to be abandoned — and sooner than most Americans realize.

     Finally, what we’ll be left with is a tremendous continental-sized vista of waste and desolation, the end product of this technological thrill ride called Modernity. It’s hard to find redemption in this story, unless it’s a world made by hand, with all its implications for a return to human-ness.

     What happened to Detroit will come to all the other great American metroplexes in time, but perhaps not in the same way. So-called urban experts like Ed Glaeser at Harvard (The Triumph of the City), and other exalted idiots just don’t get it. These cities attained a scale of operation that just can’t be sustained beyond the twilight of cheap fossil fuels. They will all contract massively — some of them, such as Phoenix and Las Vegas will disappear altogether. The lucky ones will reconstitute themselves at much smaller scale around their old harbors or riverfronts. The ones burdened with too many grandiose mega-structures (New York, Chicago) will choke to death on the liabilities they represent. The reason for this can be found in the basic equations around the cost and supply of energy resources and the consequent impairments of capital formation. In short, neither the affordable energy nor the money will be there to run things as we’re used to running them. The voodoo economists of the Ivy League, the White House, the Federal Reserve, and The New York Times are utterly clueless about how this works.

     Other idiots want to dedicate the ruins of Detroit, and places like it, to “urban farming.” This represents yet another layer of misunderstanding of how the world works. Detroit and most other cities occupy important geographical sites (in this case a river between two Great lakes). Some kind of urban human settlement will continue to occupy that site in the future.  It will just be smaller, less complex, and almost certainly less hideous than the disgraceful tangle of freeways, casinos, 7-Eleven shops, and rotting bungalows that remains on-the-ground there now. Farming is what happens outside the urban settlement (though gardening is another matter). There’s plenty of room in the rest of Michigan for farming.

     By the way, the vast donut of prosperous suburbs around the ruins of Detroit are not long for this world either. Their wealth will prove to be just as transitory as the wealth embodied by those bygone inner mansion neighborhoods of the pre-1900 Detroit, and the detritus will be harder to clean up there because it is spread so far and wide. That particular lesson remains to be learned all over the rest of the USA, but with crude oil at $108-a-barrel this morning, a smack upside America’s thick-boned head is probably not far from landing.

    How the legal aspects of Detroit’s bankruptcy get worked out will just be a sideshow outside the main tent of greater industrial era collapse and the practical demographic alterations of everyday life we can look forward to.

25 Facts About the Fall of Detroit

Off the keyboard of Michael Snyder

Published on Economic Collapse on July 20, 2013

Detroit Packard Plant.  The largest abandoned factory plant in the World.

Detroit Packard Plant. The largest abandoned factory plant in the World.

Discuss this article at the Detroit Destruction  Table inside the Diner

It is so sad to watch one of America’s greatest cities die a horrible death.  Once upon a time, the city of Detroit was a teeming metropolis of 1.8 million people and it had the highest per capita income in the United States.  Now it is a rotting, decaying hellhole of about 700,000 people that the rest of the world makes jokes about.  On Thursday, we learned that the decision had been made for the city of Detroit to formally file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy.  It was going to be the largest municipal bankruptcy in the history of the United States by far, but on Friday it was stopped at least temporarily by an Ingham County judge.  She ruled that Detroit’s bankruptcy filing violates the Michigan Constitution because it would result in reduced pension payments for retired workers.  She also stated that Detroit’s bankruptcy filing was “also not honoring the (United States) president, who took (Detroit’s auto companies) out of bankruptcy“, and she ordered that a copy of her judgment be sent to Barack Obama.  How “honoring the president” has anything to do with the bankruptcy of Detroit is a bit of a mystery, but what that judge has done is ensured that there will be months of legal wrangling ahead over Detroit’s money woes.  It will be very interesting to see how all of this plays out.  But one thing is for sure – the city of Detroit is flat broke.  One of the greatest cities in the history of the world is just a shell of its former self.  The following are 25 facts about the fall of Detroit that will leave you shaking your head…

1) At this point, the city of Detroit owes money to more than 100,000 creditors.

2) Detroit is facing $20 billion in debt and unfunded liabilities.  That breaks down to more than $25,000 per resident.

3) Back in 1960, the city of Detroit actually had the highest per-capita income in the entire nation.

4) In 1950, there were about 296,000 manufacturing jobs in Detroit.  Today, there are less than 27,000.

5) Between December 2000 and December 2010, 48 percent of the manufacturing jobs in the state of Michigan were lost.

6) There are lots of houses available for sale in Detroit right now for $500 or less.

7) At this point, there are approximately 78,000 abandoned homes in the city.

8) About one-third of Detroit’s 140 square miles is either vacant or derelict.

9) An astounding 47 percent of the residents of the city of Detroit are functionally illiterate.

10) Less than half of the residents of Detroit over the age of 16 are working at this point.

11) If you can believe it, 60 percent of all children in the city of Detroit are living in poverty.

12) Detroit was once the fourth-largest city in the United States, but over the past 60 years the population of Detroit has fallen by 63 percent.

13) The city of Detroit is now very heavily dependent on the tax revenue it pulls in from the casinos in the city.  Right now, Detroit is bringing in about 11 million dollars a month in tax revenue from the casinos.

14) There are 70 “Superfund” hazardous waste sites in Detroit.

15) 40 percent of the street lights do not work.

16) Only about a third of the ambulances are running.

17) Some ambulances in the city of Detroit have been used for so long that they have more than 250,000 miles on them.

18) Two-thirds of the parks in the city of Detroit have been permanently closed down since 2008.

19) The size of the police force in Detroit has been cut by about 40 percent over the past decade.

20) When you call the police in Detroit, it takes them an average of 58 minutes to respond.

21) Due to budget cutbacks, most police stations in Detroit are now closed to the public for 16 hours a day.

22) The violent crime rate in Detroit is five times higher than the national average.

23) The murder rate in Detroit is 11 times higher than it is in New York City.

24) Today, police solve less than 10 percent of the crimes that are committed in Detroit.

25) Crime has gotten so bad in Detroit that even the police are telling people to “enter Detroit at your own risk“.

It is easy to point fingers and mock Detroit, but the truth is that the rest of America is going down the exact same path that Detroit has gone down.

Detroit just got there first.

All over this country, there are hundreds of state and local governments that are also on the verge of financial ruin

“Everyone will say, ‘Oh well, it’s Detroit. I thought it was already in bankruptcy,’ ” said Michigan State University economist Eric Scorsone. “But Detroit is not unique. It’s the same in Chicago and New York and San Diego and San Jose. It’s a lot of major cities in this country. They may not be as extreme as Detroit, but a lot of them face the same problems.”

A while back, Meredith Whitney was highly criticized for predicting that there would be a huge wave of municipal defaults in this country.  When it didn’t happen, the critics let her have it mercilessly.

But Meredith Whitney was not wrong.

She was just early.

Detroit is only just the beginning.  When the next major financial crisis strikes, we are going to see a wave of municipal bankruptcies unlike anything we have ever seen before.

And of course the biggest debt problem of all in this country is the U.S. government.  We are going to pay a great price for piling up nearly 17 trillion dollars of debt and over 200 trillion dollars of unfunded liabilities.

All over the nation, our economic infrastructure is being gutted, debt levels are exploding and poverty is spreading.  We are consuming far more wealth than we are producing, and our share of global GDP has been declining dramatically.

We have been living way above our means for so long that we think it is “normal”, but an extremely painful “adjustment” is coming and most Americans are not going to know how to handle it.

So don’t laugh at Detroit.  The economic pain that Detroit is experiencing will be coming to your area of the country soon enough.

Cognitive Dissonance…

Off the keyboard of Steve from Virginia

Published on Economic Undertow on July 19, 2013

Detroit Packard Plant.  The largest abandoned factory plant in the World.

Detroit Packard Plant. The largest abandoned factory plant in the World.

Discuss this article at the Detroit Destruction Table inside the Diner



Maxwell Fisher House 1

The Maxwell Fisher house on Woodward Avenue, in the style of H. H. Richardson; two doors South from Mack Avenue in Detroit near the end of the nineteenth century, (photo, Burton Historical Collection, University of Michigan/Detroit Public Library).

Very little is known about Mr. Fisher other than he was a prosperous merchant or professional of some kind. He does not appear to be related to the Fisher brothers or their ‘Body by Fisher’ branch of General Motors.

This is the entry parlor of Mr. Fishers’ house, (click on for big): it could be a stage set for ‘The Magnificent Ambersons’.

Maxwell Fisher House 3

Elegant clutter was the fashion in the late- nineteenth century Victorian period. The combination of precision machinery and high levels of craftsmanship resulted in large amounts of expensive doodads to fill the parlors of the well-to-do in Detroit and elsewhere. Note the gas-lamp overhead fitted with electric bulbs and the free-standing electric light fixture to the right, the figure holding the pole. The woodwork in this room would be difficult- if not impossible to reproduce today due to the absence of skilled craftsmen … and because the chestnut seen here is largely unavailable, the trees wiped out by a fungus from 1910 onward.

Mr. Fisher previously occupied a house on Woodward Avenue near the corner of Duffield Street:

Maxwell Fisher House 4

Unknown photographer, Burton Historical Collection of Detroit Public Library. According to the 1880 Detroit city directory, Fisher’s address was 375 Woodward Avenue. Whether he lived here for a time before moving uptown or his business was in this house is unknown. After 1900, the middle reaches of Woodward Avenue began to change, with mansions replaced with cheap retail and commercial buildings. Note the hulking concrete box on the right. When this photograph was taken, around 1910, Fisher’s building had been converted to a rooming house called ‘The Berkley’, with various small businesses on the lower floors.

The really big story isn’t that Detroit has declared bankruptcy, it’s been bankrupt for decades.

 

Detroit Goes Bankrupt, the Largest City to Do So in U.S.DETROIT — Detroit, the cradle of America’s automobile industry and once the nation’s fourth-most-populous city, has filed for bankruptcy, an official said Thursday afternoon, the largest American city ever to take such a course.The decision to turn to the federal courts, which required approval from both the emergency manager assigned to oversee the troubled city and from Gov. Rick Snyder, is also the largest municipal bankruptcy filing in American history in terms of debt.Not everyone agrees how much Detroit owes, but Kevyn D. Orr, the emergency manager who was appointed by Mr. Snyder to resolve the city’s financial problems, has said the debt is likely to be $18 billion and perhaps as much as $20 billion.

 

The problem is nobody can figure out why … or what happens next? Careful! The cognitive dissonance can leave you with whiplash, (NY Times):

 

Last Car Plant Brings Detroit Hope and CashBill VlasicDETROIT — There is a section of Detroit’s east side that sums up the city’s decline, a grim landscape of boarded-up stores, abandoned homes and empty lots that stretch all the way to the river.And in the middle of it stands one of the most modern and successful auto plants in the world.

More than 4,600 workers staff Chrysler’s sprawling Jefferson North factory nearly around the clock, making one of the most profitable vehicles on the market, the Jeep Grand Cherokee.

 

Hard to see one car factory giving much hope to anyone other than Fiat.

Everyone knows Detroit is a hell hole, a grim landscape of boarded-up stores, abandoned homes and empty lots … albeit with one good car factory. It’s also a hell hole with soon-to-be excellent highways:

I-94 Expansion: Controversial SEMCOG Vote Passes, Will Widen Freeway Through DetroitA proposed freeway widening that would cut through Detroit’s most up-and-coming neighborhood had residents and transit activists howling for alternatives — with little recourse.SEMCOG, a regional governance board encompassing seven counties across Southeast Michigan, met Thursday afternoon to approve the 2040 Regional Transportation Plan. That vision will ultimately allocate $36 billion in funds over 25 years to the area’s roads, freeways, highways, buses and proposed light rail, including extensive work on I-94 and I-75. The plan was passed, despite impassioned public comment begging for alternatives, and a motion to temporarily remove the most controversial aspects of the transit plan.The SEMCOG transportation plan being voted on Thursday would allocate around $2.7 billion for the I-94 expansion between I-96 and Connor, and $1.3 billion for the I-75 widening. The project could stretch over the next decade and be done in pieces as funding becomes available, the Detroit News reports.

 

You might think the battles over urban freeways were won long ago but you would be wrong. The US highway enterprise is a gigantic, mindless robot that nobody knows how to turn off! The Federal Department of Transportation funds the bulk of the cost of ‘improvements’ with the state and localities picking up the generally modest balances. The US government has unlimited borrowing capacity and — thanks to the Federal Reserve and generalized deflation — can borrow at the lowest possible cost. As a consequence, hundreds of millions of good dollars are set to be thrown after bad … good dollars squandered every year for ten years on useless freeways that could certainly be spent more productively elsewhere within the city.

Feed the cars, starve the public: after fifty-years, citizens in Michigan still don’t understand that freeways and automobiles are what bankrupted Detroit in the first place and are set to ruin the state … along with the rest of the country. People refuse to grasp what is plain and obvious under their noses: that freeways must be paid for with loans, the cars must be paid for with loans as well … the loans themselves must be paid for with still more loans! There are no returns from the use of the cars or the freeways, new loans must be obtained in order to roll over the old ones as they come due. Debt burdens are modest in the beginning of the borrowing cycle but the steady increase of debt needed to roll-over and service maturing debts over decades leaves obligations that are monstrous at the end.

In Detroit, more loans cannot be had; stupendous debts are beyond what Detroit can ever hope to repay. This is the end, the city is bankrupt. Blame is fixed on the unemployed, the racial- and otherwise victims of city disintegration, on government workers; their salaries, healthcare and pension costs. The real cause are the billions wasted on unproductive cars and highways beginning in the early 20th century.

The freeways, autos and cheap gasoline enabled the emptying out of the Detroit in the first place, just as they did in other areas of the country. The beneficiaries were a limited handful real estate developers and bankers; the ordinary citizens and their grandchildren were — and are — saddled with repayment obligations that stretch on into the far-distant future. These are obligations that cannot possibly be met by anything other than more loans … more debt.

 

“The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money to spend”

– Margaret Thatcher
Thatcher fails to mention what other people’s money is spent on … non-remunerative waste … and why the spending process ends in failure. Like the decor in Maxwell M. Fisher’s foyer, there is really no purpose to any of it except to fill space and waste time.

Where 375 Woodward likely used to be, (click on for big). Note that Detroit streets were re-numbered in 1921. The I-75 freeway due to be remodeled is in a gigantic trench that cuts off downtown Detroit from the rest of the city.
Maxwell Fisher House 5
Debts are one reason for Detroit bankruptcy, another is the city’s relentless and expanding ugliness. There are other places in the United States that are like this … highway interchanges in fallen neighborhoods … there are few to the same scale or degree. Here is a setting for homicide, no kindness or mercy here, only danger and decay … a place that must be sped through as rapidly as possible in a steel box, from nowhere to nowhere else. Only a vendor on the corner and a handful of fleeing pedestrians add a bit of humanity.
Maxwell Fisher House 6
The freeway under Woodward Avenue: a monstrous, anti-human space, fit only for contractor dollars and machines. Like much else in post-war Detroit, everything here was bankrupt as soon as it was built.
Maxwell Fisher House 2
A collective failure of imagination: here is where Maxwell M. Fisher’s Richardsonesque mansion used to stand. Like much of the rest of Detroit, the buildings were swept away leaving parking lots and junk. These places have nothing to offer now or in any conceivable future … because Detroit lacks a palpable future, it repels investment … a reason why the city is bankrupt.

The bankruptcy business is not confined to Detroit, The Wheels Are Coming Off the Whole of Southern Europe, (Ambrose Evans-Pritchard):

 

None of Euroland’s key actors seems willing to admit that the current strategy is untenable. They hope to paper over the cracks until the German elections in September, as if that is going to make any difference.

 

All of Europe is made up of different versions of Detroit, the South is bankrupt … the North is rapidly catching up.

 

A leaked report from the European Commission confirms that Greece will miss its austerity targets yet again by a wide margin. It alleges that Greece lacks the “willingness and capacity” to collect taxes. In fact, Athens is missing targets because the economy is still in freefall and that is because of austerity overkill. The Greek think-tank IOBE expects GDP to fall 5pc this year. It has told journalists privately that the final figure may be -7pc. The Greek stabilization is a mirage.

 

Greece is bankrupted by its automobile fleet which does not earn the country a penny, instead, the fleet must be subsidized with massive amounts of euro-denominated debts that cannot possibly be repaid. Greece can no longer borrow, it must beg or cajole from other bankrupt countries. The country cannot roll its debts, it holds its creditors hostage while its citizens live in deepening poverty. This is so that Greece’s (remaining) drivers can continue to be subsidized.

 

Italy’s slow crisis is again flaring up. Its debt trajectory has punched through the danger line over the past two years. The country’s €2.1 trillion (£1.8 trillion) debt – 129pc of GDP – may already be beyond the point of no return for a country without its own currency.Standard & Poor’s did not say this outright when it downgraded the country to near-junk BBB on Tuesday. But if you read between the lines, it is close to saying the game is up for Italy.

 

Like Greece, Italy is bankrupted by its automobile fleet as well as by its domestic auto manufacturers, which cannot produce value for their customers. Customers aping Detroit and going broke leaves fewer remaining to buy cars; overcapacity leads to failure.

 

Indeed. The International Monetary Fund has just slashed its growth forecast for Italy this year to -1.8pc. The accumulated fall in Italian output since 2007 will reach 10pc. This is a depression. Yet how is the country supposed to get out of this trap with its currency overvalued by 20pc to 30pc within EMU?

 

If Italy depreciates any euro-replacement it would find itself unable to import fuel; conservation by monetary means.

 

Spain’s crisis has a new twist. The ruling Partido Popular is caught in a slush-fund scandal of such gravity that it cannot plausibly brazen out the allegations any longer, let alone rally the nation behind another year of scorched-earth cuts. El Mundo says a “pre-revolutionary” mood is taking hold.

 

Spain is bankrupted by its massive, non-earning automobile fleet just like Greece and Italy. The Spanish people borrowed billions in order to create their version of Detroit in Spain and are now stuck with the bill. Government corruption is the Victorian clutter in the Spanish parlor.

 

A magistrate has obtained the original “smoking gun” alleging that Premier Mariano Rajoy accepted illegal payments as a minister. The Left is calling for his head but so are members of the Consejo General del Poder Judicial, the justice watchdog.Like Greece before it, Portugal is chasing its tail in a downward spiral. Economic contraction of 3pc a year is eroding the tax base, causing Lisbon to miss deficit targets. A new working paper by the Bank of Portugal explains why it has gone wrong. The fiscal multiplier is “twice as large as normal”, or 2.0, in small open economies during crisis times.

 

The Portuguese have a choice; to jettison the non-remunerative cars or to jettison themselves. Like all the others they choose to keep the cars and put themselves through the wringer. Meanwhile, the country continues to unravel; the cars will ultimately go, anyway.

 

What is new is that Vitor Gaspar, the high priest of Portugal’s shock therapy, has thrown in the towel. He blames the fainthearted for refusing to slash with greater vigour. Needless to say, he still refuses to accept that a strategy of wage cuts and deflation in a country with total debt of 370pc of GDP was always likely to fail.

 

The austerity plan preserves the automobiles by sacrificing everything else. Look @ Detroit, the model for the rest of the world! Detroit’s citizens are robbed while billions are spent on roads and useless car factories. At some point, a vulnerable bit of (fuel) infrastructure will break and the autos will be stranded.

 

The Portuguese press is already reporting that the European Commission is working secretly on a second bail-out, an admission that the wheels are coming off the original €78bn EU-IMF troika rescue.This is a political minefield. Any fresh rescue would require a vote in the German Bundestag, certain to demand ferocious conditions if this occurs before the elections.

 

Whatever fuel is not used by the Portuguese can be guzzled by the Germans.

 

Do they violate this pledge, and shatter market confidence? Or do they admit for the first time that taxpayers will have to foot the bill for holding EMU together? All rescue packages have been loans so far. German, Dutch, Finnish and other creditor parliaments have never yet had to crystallize a single euro in losses.

 

At some point the Europeans must admit for the first time that the bill for holding the automobile-first regime together is unaffordable …

 

All this is happening just as tapering talk by the Fed sends shock waves through credit markets, pushing up borrowing costs by 70 basis points across Europe. Spanish 10-year yields are back to 4.8pc. These are higher than they look, since Spain is already in deflation once tax distortions are stripped out. Real interest rates are soaring.By doing nothing to offset this, the ECB is allowing “passive tightening” to occur. Mario Draghi’s attempt to talk down yields with his new policy of forward guidance is spitting in the wind. The ECB needs to turn on the monetary spigot full blast – like the Bank of Japan – to head off a slide into deflation trap and enveloping disaster by next year. This is not going to happen.

 

The monetary spigot is not succeeding in Japan, it cannot succeed because nothing real is created, because the spigot cannot offer crude oil @ $20 per barrel to keep brand-new Grand Cherokees on brand-new roads. Turning on the spigot requires collateral that no longer exists. The ECB is trapped along with the rest of the European establishment. It’s only collateral is a bunch of used cars and waste …

The monetary spigot supported Germany for a little while but that country is also bankrupt for the same reason as Greece, (Wolf Richter):

 

Blinded By Optimism, German Economy Now Below Stall SpeedThe financial crisis was brutal for Germany, but the recovery was steep, and in 2011, the gloating started. They called it the German “success recipe,” a system that was somehow superior to any other. It would keep the economy growing even as Eurozone mayhem was breaking out all around. That optimism has endured, and stocks have hit new highs in May, but the German economy has diverged sharply from that scenario.… the Eurozone bought 36.6% of Germany’s exports and the non-euro area 20.0%. While periphery countries have been struggling for years, with demand collapsing in some, it’s France that Germany is most worried about. It buys about 10% of Germany’s exports, more than any other country, but it’s slithering deeper into a full-blown economic crisis with unemployment at record highs, with the auto industry – a key export sector for Germany – in a death spiral, and with consumer demand flagging. Even exports to the rest of the world skidded 1.6%. It was the worse May decline since 2009.

 

France becomes bankrupt which dooms Germany. Exported automobiles never provided value for the customers, both exporters and customers have become little versions of Detroit.

Success can never ‘come from nothing’, what is gained by tycoons is lost elsewhere. What is lost is capital, once gone it is gone forever, what is ‘gained’ is debt … money being the (worthless) residue of destroyed capital.

What happens after bankruptcy? Highest-order wishful thinking suggests that more of the same processes that brought Detroit to ruin will bring Detroit and the rest out of it! Since this cannot possibly succeed, the outcome is an endless, grinding bankruptcy process that remains in place until the various little version of Detroit run completely out of gas.

The Week That Was In Doom, May 26, 2013

From the Keyboard of Surly1

Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on May 26, 2013

http://991.com/newGallery/That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964.jpg

Discuss this article here in the Diner Forum.

It was a week in which we found ourselves awakened, much like Rip van Winkle after a 40 years sleep, to relive the worst excesses of the Nixon administration.  A week in which, 175 years ago Friday, the Trail of Tears began and the United States once again led world opinion in affirmation of human rights and the treatment of indigenous peoples. A week in which part of an interstate fell into the Skagit River, sex workers are having to call it quits for lack of customers with sufficient disposable income, A couple of senators from Oklahoma demand disaster funding for their state while insisting that the hardships of the people of Oklahoma be visited upon unnamed someones elsewhere,  and thousands of people in hundred cities marched against Monsanto.  Plus plenty of other goodies. So let’s go to the highlight reel.

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AOL2013

Truth be told, the biggest news in the world of doom this week is the Age of Limits Conference currently being held in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in southwestern Pennsylvania. Our redoubtable correspondent haniel is there and is filing reports. He also promises to bring back audio, video and images, all of which he is having great difficulty uploading due to the lack of bandwidth in his rural location. But suffice it to say there is no other single activity this week in the world of doom that is as significant or as newsworthy as this ongoing conference.  Follow haniel's reports here.

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bridge skagit

In one of the most remarkable and egregious examples of infrastructure collapse as a result of maintenance deferred, the I–5 bridge over the Skagit River in Washington collapsed when struck by a truck.

The Interstate 5 bridge spanning the Skagit River in Washington state collapsed Thursday evening, dumping two cars into the water. Three people were injured.

Authorities initially weren't sure how many people were involved or if there'd been any injuries or deaths. Shortly after the collapse, Washington State Trooper Mark Francis told CNN that he didn't expect a high casualty rate, in part because the bridge is located in a rural area and is rarely crowded.

CBS is reporting that the collapse was caused by an oversized semi-trailer truck, which hit a beam across the top of the bridge.

 

Great was the mewling and puking over this affair, and may stood ready to extrapolate from the specific to the general. Rising Hegemon probably had it best:

Infrastructure, schminfranstructure

Good thing we can keep affording to give tax breaks to oil companies to avoid those nasty public safety measures that also provide actual jobs!

The Interstate 5 bridge over the Skagit River collapsed Thursday evening, dropping two vehicles into the water and injuring three people.

Both the northbound and southbound portions of the bridge collapsed into the river sometime before 7 p.m., according to Washington State Patrol trooper Mark Francis.

Xavier Grospe, 62, who lives near the river, said he could see three cars with what appeared to be one person per vehicle.

Obviously the only thing that can keep a bridge from collapsing is another bridge with a gun.

 

 

 

And Equire's Charlie Pierce observed thusly:

First, the BridgeHunter people declared the bridge in question to be functionally obsolete three years ago. Second, the local inspectors declared it to be safe and sound back in 2008. America's bridges heve been in sorry, dangerous shape for years, and practically everybody agrees with that. Time for some lifesaving Keynesian stimulus spending, no?

Of course, not.

I mean, does a bridge have to fall on their heads?

Forget I asked that.

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Slevery for everyone

 Robert Reich asks, “who needs Republicans when Wall Street has the Democrats?” In his blog, Reich details how congressional Democrats are helping Wall Street rollback the financial reforms enacted after the near meltdown. With Citigroup and chase writing legislation, eager Democrats are rolling as many logs they can to undo Dodd-Frank and otherwise carry water for the plutocrats.  Not to be outdone, members of the troglodyte party decided to raise student loan rates, plus approved a variable-rate that will really stick it to prospective students. Your democracy at work.  Meanwhile, in the small fishing village in the south of France, The US Department of Education “has generated nearly $120 billion in profit off student borrowers”, more profit than reported by Exxon and Apple. No word on whether that includes Apple's Irish offshore accounts.

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Speaking of offshore accounts and other tax dodges,  this week AlterNet  filed a superb report on how corporations are stealing billions in tax breaks, why we confused and misdirected Muppets turn on one another, to their continued enjoyment and enrichment.  this again by Mr. Reich, who had a busy week.

 

 

… global corporations have no allegiance to any country; their only objective is to make as much money as possible — and play off one country against another to keep their taxes down and subsidies up, thereby shifting more of the tax burden to ordinary people whose wages are already shrinking because companies are playing workers off against each other.

. . . Meanwhile, At a time when you’d expect nations to band together to gain bargaining power against global capital, the opposite is occurring: Xenophobia is breaking out all over.

Here in Britain, the UK Independence Party — which wants to get out of the European Union — is rapidly gaining ground, becoming the third most popular party in the country, according to a new poll for The Independent on Sunday. Almost one in five people plan to vote for it in the next general election. Ukip’s overall ratings have risen four points to 19 per cent in the past month, despite Prime Minister David Cameron’s efforts to wrest back control of the crucial debate over Britain’s relationship with the European Union.

Right-wing nationalist parties are gaining ground elsewhere in Europe as well. In the U.S., not only are Republicans sounding more nationalistic of late (anti-immigrant, anti-trade), but they continue to push “states rights” — as states increasingly battle against one another to give global companies ever larger tax breaks and subsidies.

Nothing could strengthen the hand of global capital more than such breakups.

This sounds very much like a movie we've seen before. And none of us like the ending. Betting here we're not going to like the ending of this one either.

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Artwork: Anthony Freda

 

And while were on the subject of money, anyone who actually has to buy anything in this economy realizes that the price of goods keeps creeping up at the same time that there seems to be less and less money in the economy. Small business owners are really hurting. We have friends, Nick and Vicky, who run a beauty shop and spa, who  had had to close the spa part of their business due to lack of traffic. Many women who used to be regular once a month visitors have vanished, and with it their income.  At the same time, the landlord raises the rent on their building, meaning they have to shrink the business to survive.  Thus is it in the real world.

 

Meanwhile, this on the widening gap between Wall Street and Main Street.

While asset prices are inflated by continued interventions of monetary policy from the Federal Reserve, boosting Wall Street profits and widening the wealth gap between the top 20% of Americans and the rest, "Main Street" continues to suffer a from a rising cost of living and falling wage growth.  Just recently Gallup released the following survey:

"The federal poverty threshold for a family of four is just under $24,000; however, Americans believe such a family unit living in their community needs more than double that — $58,000, on average — just to 'get by.' That estimate reflects 29% of Americans saying these families need up to $50,000 in annual income, 47% saying they need between $50,000 and $99,999, and 10% saying they need $100,000 or more."

Gallup-Consumer-LivingNeeds-051713

And then, in a fking nutshell:

This is why the gap between corporate profits and the number of working employees is the highest level on record.  Fewer workers, higher productivity and longer hours for the same pay, or less, equals higher corporate profits.  This is great for executives, primarily the top 10% of wage of earners, who are compensated from rising share prices, bonuses and other performance related compensation.  However, for the "working stiff," there is little reward for their labor.

At $58,000, Americans' perceptions of the amount it takes just to get by in their community is substantially higher that the national median household income.  This level is also well out of reach for a bulk of the lower 30% of American households.

However, this gap between incomes and living standards goes a long way to explaining the "welfaring" of America.  As incomes have waned against a rising cost of living – it is not surprising to see more individuals receiving income supplements in the mail either from "food stamps", social security benefits or disability claims.  All of which are currently at record levels.  The chart below shows the level of social security benefits as a percentage of disposable personal incomes which is currently near the highest level on record.

Social-Benefits-DPI-051713

 

"How long can the disconnect last between Wall Street and Main Street? "

There is no clear answer for that as consumers have shown a willingness to draw down savings rates to historically low levels while quickly returning to cheap credit forgetting the disaster that it caused them not so long ago.  However, in reality, when you have a family to feed, clothe and house – it really doesn't matter what is logical, but what is necessary, regardless of the consequences down the road.  Of course, for many American's today, the only real difference between now and the "bread lines" of the 30's is that the "bread" is delivered in the mail rather than at the "soup kitchen" on the corner.

A splendid article that offers a precise description of what is happening. I mentioned above the effect of this “recovering economy” on my friends with the beauty shop and spot. Newshound Joe dug up this article earlier in the week that illustrates how even sex workers are feeling the pinch.

It is one of the oldest professions in the world.

Yet, just like many other businesses up and down the UK, even prostitution is now struggling with Britain's struggling economy.

Many sex workers are now saying its almost impossible to make a full time living out of prostitution with rising rents and energy costs and a reduced demand for services.

They also complain of a saturated market in which students and those recently sacked turn to  prostitution to make money.

Like many other workers across Britain, sex workers even complain that immigrants are providing tough competition.

All of this has resulted in many massage parlours and private flats heavily reducing their prices or even closing.

Prostitutes also say men are increasingly unable to pay for sex, with pressures on household spending increasing.

30 years ago, Richard Pryor joked about pimps having to drive Volkswagens. And now this. Clearly,  yet another sign of the breaking of the Seventh Seal.

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And perhaps none of this makes any difference because we are all screwed in the fullness of time, As we seem to be unwilling or unable to manage our energy footprint, consumption, and behavior in a responsible manner that would benefit the great bulk of humanity. This is of course a subject which has been discussed many times in many different ways within the Diner Forum.

Climate change: human disaster looms, claims new research

 

A human shadow is seen on a dried out field after drought in Germany. Photograph: Patrick Pleul/EPA

 

Forecast global temperature rise of 4C a calamity for large swaths of planet even if predicted extremes are not reached the world is still likely to be in for a temperature rise of double that regarded as safe.

The researchers said warming was most likely to reach about 4C above pre-industrial levels if the past decade's readings were taken into account.

That would still lead to catastrophe across large swaths of the Earth, causing droughts, storms, floods and heatwaves, and drastic effects on agricultural productivity leading to secondary effects such as mass migration.

Some climate change sceptics have suggested that because the highest global average temperature yet recorded was in 1998 climate change has stalled. The new study, which is published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows a much longer "pause" would be needed to suggest that the world was not warming rapidly.

Alexander Otto, at the University of Oxford, lead author of the research, told the Guardian that there was much that climate scientists could still not fully factor into their models. He said most of the recent warming had been absorbed by the oceans but this would change as the seas heat up. The thermal expansion of the oceans is one of the main factors behind current and projected sea level rises.

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Authorities never have “issues with authority.”

It’s simple. Authorities invented the idea that other people have issues with authority.

Psychiatrists rank right up there among the elitists setting the standards. They, for example, have concocted a little fictional doodad called Oppositional Defiance Disorder. And magically, they never accuse their professional colleagues of having it. No.

Why should they? They amuse themselves by deciding when civilians are overly defiant and need pacification (drugs).

 

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More from the Department of Your Tax Dollars at Work.

Got PTSD? No problem. Here: take this. At a time when government funding for veterans hospitals and healthcare is being diverted by the military and replaced with private donations comes this news of the Pentagon development of memory adjustment pills. Perhaps the combination of so-called “medication” coupled with the use of targets featuring children and pregnant mothers waving guns will usher in a new generation of conscience-free troops for the next round of "nation-building" and empire extension.

The Pentagon this week announced an $11 million grant for three research institutions, all of them long-time hubs for the military’s ongoing PTSD investigations. Experts at Emory University, the University of Southern California and New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center will study the effectiveness of D-Cycloserine (DCS). DCS is a pharmaceutical thought to help extinguish fearful memories. It’s usually taken right before exposure therapy, a process that involves recalling traumatic experiences in an effort to nullify the menacing associations that accompany them.

Your tax dollars at work. This is a clue that we will continue to be in a perpetual state of war.
http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/12/fear-erasing-drugs

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photo by Jenna Pope

 

 

 

Everyone's favorite fixer and leg breaker Rahm Emanuel has come a cropper in his plan to close 54 public schools in low income neighborhoods.Three days of  protests have been going on in Chicago to fight back against the biggest public school closing action in the history of the U.S.
 
Teachers, students, and parents marching through the West Side of Chicago today for the 3-day March for Education Justice. "The mayor and Board of Education want to destroy 54 school communities. This will be the largest destruction of schools in U.S. history. We need our neighborhood schools and we should all fight together to save them."

 

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artwork by mario piperni

In the holy city of Washington DC, otherwise known as Jerusalem-on-the-Potomac, we were treated to the spectacle of two Oklahoma solons rightfully demanding disaster aid for their tornado-stricken state, but only at the cost of insuring that the suffering visited on the people of Oklahoma was transmitted by the miracle of the appropriations process up its on innocent and unsuspecting others located God knows where, but presumably not Oklahoma. "Budget offsets"so the Blessed Messrs. Cobern and Imhofe solemnly intone. In response, we need to visit with the Master, Charlie Pierce.

This is a guy who, one day after a devastating natural disaster killed his own constitutents, said he will not vote to allevate their suffering unless he can inflict some pain on someone somewhere else in the country. And his spokesman defends this as a matter of principle, and uses the worst act of domestic terrorism in the history of the United States as a salutary example. (And the link demonstrates that Coburn's aversion to tossing money down various ratholes is not universal.)  Does Senator Coburn really believe you can budget for the unthinkable? That tornadoes are zero-sum events? That you can horse-trade on human suffering as though it were a line-item on a transportation rider? I no longer am willing to try to understand how people like this think. They are monsters and they operate on their own monstrous imperatives.

The attack on the natural instincts of a self-governing political commonwealth has been a long one, a powerful one, and (alas) a very effective one. It has made the politically unthinkable a viable alternative in the face of the literally unimaginable. It is a return to the days where people died alone on the prairies during blizzards, or they drowned in floods along the plains, or they were lost in hurricanes that struck without warning. It's not a great distance removed from staving off severe weather by judging the flights of birds or reading the entrails of a disembowelled goat on a rock. The idea that there is even a "debate" worthy of mentioning over this money shows how far we've fallen.

By the way, here is the City Of Moore's official FAQ page about storm shelters and the like. I may be wrong, but this fairly reeks of defensiveness. The explanation for the lack of storm shelters seems economically prissy and more than a tad lame—people won't use them because they won't leave their pets behind? So, therefore, we don't build one? Really?—and the cruel irony of this tornado is that people were warned specifically not to "shelter in place" but, rather, to get in their cars and drive like hell. There is considerable real-time audio from local radio and TV to that effect. And this is a masterpiece of You're On Your Own, Jack:

"What if I live in a mobile home?
This means that you have additional responsibility for your safety, and that begins much earlier! Mobile homes typically do not offer good shelter from thunderstorm winds, and that means you should find shelter elsewhere—perhaps the house of family or friends. You need to plan your actions long before thunderstorms arrive, and leave early…don't wait until warnings are issued or the sirens are blowing to leave."

Oh, OK.

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http://mariopiperni.com/

In a week where the Obama administration has managed to resuscitate the cadaver of the Nixon administration through various scandals, and right-wing pols are making hay out of Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi!!,  Comes this little noticed and curious aspect to the Benghazi story from one of my favorite cranks, Jon Rappaport.

Just a coincidence. Nothing to see. Move along.

Remember the Benghazi attacks? Remember how the White House rewrote their talking points to scrub out mention of a terrorist attack?

Well, here are some new talking points.

Point one: Star CBS investigative reporter, Sharyl Attkisson, has been discussing leaving CBS since April. She can’t get some of her Benghazi stories on the air. Attkisson was hot on the trail of figuring out who, at the White House, rewrote the Benghazi talking points.

Point two: One sure candidate at the White House? Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser and “mind-melding” speechwriter.

Point three: Who is Ben Rhodes’ brother? He is David Rhodes, who happens to be Sharyl Attkisson’s boss, the president of CBS News.

Point four: Read point three again.

Point five: Those White House Benghazi rewrites scrubbed prior mention of “terror attacks.”

Point six: Again, reporter Attkisson was hot on the trail of the White House fiction writers—which could have led to her boss’s brother.

Point seven: Again, Attkisson got into hot water at CBS for her Benghazi coverage.

Point eight: Again, the president of CBS News, her boss, is the brother of the man who helped organize the White House fiction writing on Benghazi.

The Daily Caller broke this story.

Point nine: Somebody has been fiddling with reporter Attkisson’s computers. Attkisson has been assembling evidence on the what and the who for several months.

As loath as I am to repeat anything uttered in the pages of The Daily Caller–even its very name makes me twitch–even a stopped clock is right twice a day,  Much in the same way that Crazy Uncle Liberty and his son, Sen. Aqua Buddha are often right twice a day. Remains interesting to watch to see if this aspect of the story goes anywhere. Politico's Dylan Byers has a take on this. Little surprise that Attkisson has trouble getting anyone inside the Obama administration to talk to her since most of her stories have often been extremely critical of the administration and often seem to bespeak a partisan political agenda. No duh.

The only thing certain in this murky affair is that House Republicans will do everything possible to keep these flames alive well into the midterm election season. Meanwhile, in at least one poll I saw this morning, House Republicans are writing a 59% disapproval rating. Double down on crazy, boys.

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IMG_1261

 

Many protesters gathered in Virginia Beach yesterday as part of a March against Monsanto,  one of dozens of such marches organized across the globe in protest of CGI and months and tell and its genetically modified, potentially toxic food.

 

Organizers  were reported to have said the protests were held in 52 countries and 436 cities. Locally, the demonstrators were out in force by the hundreds on a clear, brisk day at the oceanfront that also heralded the beginning of the vacation season.

 

You have to love the creativity of the people who brought signs and banners. Enjoy the examples below. It was a pleasure to reconnect with local occupiers and many other activists, including many people who would not otherwise even dream of being part of a protester a demonstration, yet who are well enough informed to take a keen and abiding interest in real food. One woman held aloft a sign that said, “our children are not eating the same Cheerios we did.”

 

True dat.

IMG_1263 - Version 2

 

IMG_1241

IMG_1244

 

 

IMG_1246IMG_1248

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_1249IMG_1251

 

 

 

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Many of the volunteers passed out information flyers explaining what GM owes are. Salient facts included  that most major US food companies managed to keep GM oh ingredients secret from the public. That agribusinesses have spent tens of millions of dollars to defeat Geo labeling laws. Products may contain genetically or all-natural modified foods and still be labeled natural. The most common genetically engineered crops are soy, corn, papaya, rice, cotton, tomatoes, dairy products, potatoes and peas.IMG_1255IMG_1257

 

And herewith a roundup of other news, the bones of which  I have not had the opportunity to chew, and some links that may reward the follower.

Murder is our national sport. We murder tens of thousands with our industrial killing machines in Afghanistan and Iraq. We murder thousands more from the skies over Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen with our pilotless drones. We murder each other with reckless abandon. And, as if we were not drenched in enough human blood, we murder prisoners—most of them poor people of color who have been locked up for more than a decade. The United States believes in regeneration through violence. We have carried out blood baths on foreign soil and on our own land for generations in the vain quest of a better world. And the worse it gets, the deeper our empire sinks under the weight of its own decay and depravity, the more we kill. 

–Chris Hedges.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article34929.htm

Petrodollar collapse

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-05-20/guest-post-coming-collapse-petrodollar-system

 
Virginia Republicans take a Great Leap Backward:
 
Add I-5 bridge:
 
NC and renewables
h/t AG
 
See it yourself
 

“When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it." – Frederic Bastiat

 

 

 

 
 
Add Detroit
 
Monsanto and stock rally
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

More of the Same…

Off the keyboard of Steve from Virginia

Published on Economic Undertow on April 3, 2013

Detroit Packard Plant. The largest abandoned factory plant in the World.

Discuss this article at the Epicurean Delights Smorgasbord inside the Diner

What is underway in this world right now is more of the same. It’s a song: ‘La la-la- la-la … more of the same!

There is more of the same thievery on the part of the establishment, everywhere in the world. There is more of the same poverty, there is more of the same denial … There is more of the same advertising for unlimited resources, more of the same consumer sales, more of the same real estate rebounds, more of the same freeway lane-miles added to more of the same freeways …

More of the same hollow, pointless ‘progress’.

More of the same, the management systems the world has relied upon since the end of World War Two are breaking down but more applications of the same failed management approaches are underway. To support more of the same failures there is more of the same moral hazard, more of the same credit provision, more of the same propaganda and lies. There is more of the same breakages with more of the same exponentially increasing consequences. There is more of the same corruption, more of the same outright pillage and bullying.

There more of the same indifference and refusal to face reality. There is more of the same flight out of banking deposits into risky currency traps even as there is more of the same flight into banking deposits! There is more of the same sense of foreboding, that there is no way out of the traps that we have built for ourselves, that the end of the ‘good old days’ is right around the corner. At the same time, there is more of the same begging/wishing for more of the same ‘good old days’.

With more of the same taking place right now, less of the same will certainly be a whole lot worse. Pray thee Lord for more of the same.

More or the same makes life easy for the analyst even as it makes it more difficult. More of the same becomes very hard to become outraged about. More of the same evil: how do Alex Jones or Yves Smith remain enraged at the highest pitch day after day about more of the same perfidy? The government will be just as conniving next year as it was ten years ago, the big Wall Street banks will still shove more of the same blood funnels seeking more of the same easy payoffs and more of the same bonuses. Who really cares?

The market can offer more of the same a lot longer than you can remain solvent!

At the same time, more of the same analysis becomes very simple: readers can turn to older articles to see how the same really was when it first emerged. It’s more of the same now! It can’t get any easier!

Singularity = self-writing analytical articles!

 
Edward Chapotin house 1

Unknown photographer: Dr. Edward Chapotin house and his medical practice next door in 1915, on Woodward Avenue @ Woodbridge Street, from the Burton Historical Collection, Detroit Public Library- University of Michigan. Note the streetcar tracks on Woodward. This business/residence was located within a few blocks of the Detroit River.

More of the same lurks on both sides of the political divide from Richard Alford by way of Yves Smith, (Naked Capitalism):

 

Richard Alford: Fed Policy – (more of the same) Old Wine in New Bottles
 Yves here. This is an important post, in that it describes how the Fed, despite the unconventional look of some of its measures, is using more extreme variants of traditional policy approaches, and why that is not such a hot idea.One place where I quibble with Alford is in attributing the way Greenspan dropped short term rates dramatically in the early 1990s recession as driven by unemployment policy. At the time, there was considerable concern about the health and stability of banks in the US. It wasn’t just savings and loans that were hemorrhaging losses. Citibank nearly went under. Some major commercial banks in Texas and the Southwest had lent heavily to spec commercial real estate projects at just the wrong time. And although it was mainly foreign banks that hoovered up participations in LBO financings, like Campeau, that came a cropper, US financial firms had exposures as well. Greenspan’s driving short term rates to the floor created an extremely large spread between short and long term interest rates, enabling wounded banks to borrow short and lend long, and rebuild their capital bases out of artificially high profits.

Another quibble is at the very end, where Alford is correctly concerned about our sustained trade deficits, but also is unduly exercised about our fiscal deficits. They are in fact necessary and desirable as long as the business sector keeps net saving, which it did even in the years immediately preceding the crisis. If capitalists refuse to play their proper role and loot rather than dedicate resources to future growth, government has to step in. But as we are seeing now, what is unsustainable about this arrangement is the politics much more than the economics.

 

Here’s Alford:

 

But Have We Seen It All Before? 

For all their differences in perspective and emphasis, most of the opposing evaluations of the merits of Fed policy have one element in common: They all appear to be largely prisoners of a Phillips Curve mentality. Policy is set based only on the current levels of unemployment and inflation. Policymakers, economists and pundits do not look beyond near-term changes in unemployment and inflation when evaluate the risks and returns of alternative policy responses.

However, there may be a more troublesome risk attached to current monetary policy. The risk is that the current policy stance – low interest rates as well as QE- is reducing the probability of a return to self–sustaining economic growth … “

 

Alford is a very bright guy and he’s paid his dues within the money management ‘racket’. Yves = ditto. Nevertheless, it’s impossible to take either one seriously. What does ‘sustainable’ mean? More of the same tract houses? More of the same auto sales? More of the same insurance and finance? More of the same strip malls and Pizza Huts? More of the same F-35 fighter jets? More of the same coal mines, gas pipelines, VLCCs … how about more of the same airports? What is sustainable about any of this? How about those tens- of thousands of tombstone-like concrete towers in China? How many more-of-the-same vacant apartments are needed before the Chinese get to sustainability heaven?

How does everyone get there? There are seven billion of us meat-bags right now on Planet ‘E’ and only 15% have automobiles. Do we ‘arrive’ when 30% become automotive? How about 50%? Where do we put the 800 million or so extra cars? Where do we get the fuel for them? Does the US build another 55,000 mile interstate highway system to go along with the 55,000 mile system we already have? We cannot afford to fix our roads now! How is more of the same sustainable again?

‘Sustainable’ is gross abuse of the language. In order to ‘have’ our desired industrial goodies we must borrow. Our machines do not pay their own way. If they did there would be no debts as deploying machines would retire them. That they do not do so is self-evident. With thousands of millions of machines there is an exponential increase in debt required to assemble them and provide them with fuel. This is debt that even the entire world’s bloated finance establishment cannot provide.

Credit is a resource in the sense that it is a means to allocate other resources: with less of these other resources to allocate, adding credit becomes pointless and unaffordable. US recessions from 1970- onward were the result of fuel shortages- and price shocks including the current version. Even the modest credit demands of the earlier time periods … were breaking. Today’s high real credit requirements are destructive in and of themselves without the added blows of high fuel prices.

People must understand: the Glory Days are gone and never coming back … ! Santa Claus is not going to come down the chimney with some kind of industry … to take the human race by the hand and lead it into the Promised Land. Our collective future is binary: we are either joint-and severally destroyed by shortages and inability to adjust to them … or we escape destruction by the skin on our noses.

Watch what the plutocrats are doing right now! They know what’s going on because they can afford ‘intelligence’ and are ruthless enough to take advantage! They use the time remaining … to steal … then leave the rest of us to Mad Max.

It will take every single inner resource the human race possesses … clarity, honor, courage, perseverance, helpfulness, strength, wisdom … the willingness to endure tremendous suffering and hardship for decades and perhaps centuries … what is absent in popular culture particularly among finance analysts … it will take all of these things and more to escape our self-constructed annihilation.

Right now, this isn’t happening. There is too much fantasy thinking and denial about redistribution … what is there to redistribute, exactly? Deck chairs on the Titanic?

Here is another variation on the theme … from Bill Buckler @ ZeroHedge:

 

The Puppet Master – Government For hundreds if not thousands of years of human history, the vast majority were all too well aware that the government “lives” on the backs of the people. Today, that long-held knowledge has been astonishingly, successfully reversed. Today, the perceived “wisdom” is that the people live on the back of the government. In the realm of the history of ideas, it took many centuries to bring forward the idea that a life might be lived without constant kowtowing to government. It has only taken one century – the time since World War One – to all but totally submerge that legacy in a new wave of government dependency.The old and tired phrase – “I’m from the government and I’m here to help you” – is met by as much derision as it has ever been when people bemoan the impositions of their rulers. But those same people rely on the government to insulate them from the consequences of any action they may choose to undertake.

 

The great myth is that our industrial economy is ‘productive’, that it is saddled temporarily by parasitic governments (fascists) or bankers (socialists). Get rid of one or the other and the industrial economy will spread its wings and fly off to consumer good paradise, taking the American Worker along with it.

This is false: the product of industrial economies is waste. Because waste is not a good there are no organic returns for industrial activities. Instead, the cost of the activities must be met with credit. To provide the needed credit there are bankers, to service the debts there are governments.

That this is so is self-evident: if industry was productive — if there was any product at all other than waste — there would be no crisis and no debts. Any shortfalls would be met by deploying additional machines, which would pay for themselves, thereby retiring their own debts … and ours besides.

 
Edward Chapotin house 2
 

The intersection of Woodward Avenue and Woodbridge Street is long-gone, so are Doctor Chapotin’s restrained yet whimsical houses. All of them are replaced by the urban equivalent of the place-mat, the concrete pad and grassy area(s). Note the occasional tree.

 
Edward Chapotin house 3
 

Forsaken and bleak … the backdrop for a homicide, here is the adjacent 1 Civic Center Plaza. Perhaps Chernobyl is more soulless, then again … perhaps not.

Today, there are more and more machines, these do not pay anything. Instead these machines must be subsidized by robbing from savers, retirees, workers and business customers. Meanwhile, the world’s economies are burdened by hundreds of trillions of dollars worth of non-repayable debt … taken on to build and run the machines.

Without credit, there is no industry. Meanwhile, our precious fleet of machines strip-mines the world of credit along with resources. This stripping process is underway right now in Europe and elsewhere … coming soon to your town! (It’s already happened if you live in Detroit.)

The underlying cause is centuries’ long destruction of resource capital. The consequence is diminishing resource throughput, diminished capital with a large and increasing scarcity premium attached to it. There is simply no more (of the same) capital to waste affordably. What capital remains is too valuable: the cost of retiring debts is greater than the worth of debts themselves. Whether the managers admit it or not, the markets right now are pricing the true costs of waste beyond the reach of today’s wasters … also tomorrow’s.

Because ‘more of the same waste’ is a physical process, it doesn’t matter who manages it, Austrian or Marxist, neo-Liberal or Friedmanite, salt-water or fresh-water. All of them will fail. Regardless of who is in charge there will always be less.

Don’t let the common sense baffle you! It’s not that hard to figure out. If prosperity = waste, nobody can promise prosperity any longer.

The ONLY solution is stringent energy- and resource conservation. There is no other solution, only evasions: to do nothing or to attempt more of the same waste means conservation will occur ‘by other means’. See ‘Cyprus’ as the latest example.

Amerika is Detroit

Off  the keyboard of Steve  Lendman

Published on the Steve Lendman Blog on March 16, 2013

Detroit Packard Plant. The largest abandoned factory plant in the World.

Discuss this article at the Epicurean Delights Smorgasbord inside the Diner

America’s economy is sick. It’s getting sicker. Coverup and denial conceal reality. Census data say record numbers of US counties are dying. It’s over one in three.

 
It reflects population shifts and Depression conditions. America’s decline gets little attention.
 
Since 1981, 42 US municipalities declared bankruptcy. Ten did so in the past four years. Expect more to follow. Hard times getting harder assures it.
 
Detroit once symbolized industrial America. Might Motown resembles a ghost town. It’s dying. It nears bankruptcy.
 
Fifty years ago it was America’s fifth largest city. It’s now 18th. In the last decade, half the population left. It’s America’s ghetto. Its neighborhoods are in disrepair. They’re decaying and dying.
 
Half or more working aged residents have no jobs. Those with them have low-pay part-time or temp ones. They don’t pay enough to live on.
 
Poverty is extreme. It’s increasing. Nearly two-thirds of Detroit’s children are impoverished. They’re out of sight and mind.
 
Dozens of schools were closed. More closures are planned. Teachers were fired. Kids aren’t educated. Nearly half the population is functionally illiterate.
 
Public services are eroding en route to eliminating them altogether. One-third of Detroit’s 140 square miles lies vacant or derelict. Heavily blighted areas are increasing.
 
Tens of thousands of homes remain vacant. The median home price is $9,000. Many are much cheaper.
 
Property crime is double the national average. Violent crime is triple. Many areas aren’t safe. Police are unapologetic. Go out at your own risk, they warn.
 
In the last decade, half the force was laid off. So were hundreds of firefighters.
 
More austerity cuts are planned. It’s official policy. On March 1, Governor Rick Synder declared a financial emergency. Appointing a financial czar followed. He named bankruptcy attorney Kevin Orr.
 
He works for Cleveland-based Jones Day. His past experience includes government service. In 1991, he was counsel for the FDIC’s Litigation Section.
 
From summer 1991 – mid-1995, he was assistant general counsel for the Resolution Trust Corporation’s Complex Litigation and Bankruptcy Section.
 
From mid-1995 – February 2000, he was in the US Justice Department’s Executive Office for United States Trustees. From February 2000 – January 2001, he served as Deputy Director.
 
At Jones Day, he’s involved in business restructuring and all aspects of bankruptcy. He played a lead role in Chrysler’s 2009 bankruptcy.
 
Plants were closed. Jobs were lost. Wages were slashed. So were benefits. Strikes were banned. Detroit’s heading for the same abyss.
 
Claiming no alternative is false. It’s a Big Lie. Making the city’s rich and corporations pay their fair share solves fiscal problems. It’s true across America.
 
Corrupt politicians complicit with corporate bosses want solutions imposed on the backs of ordinary people. They want them bearing the burden.
 
Orr’s now Detroit’s Emergency Financial Manager (EFM). His powers permit canceling union contracts, terminating pension obligations, cutting services, ending others, selling city assets at fire sale prices, and privatizing its operations.
 
Mayor David Bing implemented deep spending cuts earlier. He fired thousands of workers. He outsourced vital services. Profiteers took full advantage. Bing’s got much more in mind.
 
Orr’s in charge. His job is radically restructuring Detroit. Expect the worst ahead. He’ll do it on the backs of ordinary people. He’ll fire city workers, cut wages and benefits, erode vital services, and end others.
 
He’ll hand over Detroit to bankers and other profiteers. Public resources will be plundered. Doing so assures greater crisis conditions. Unemployment will grow. Poverty will increase. Ordinary people will be left high and dry.
 
Public anger followed Orr’s appointment. He’s Black. Opponents call him an “Uncle Tom.” On March 14, they protested outside Cadillac Place. It’s a landmark downtown office complex.
 
Rainbow Push Coalition’s Rev. David Bullock expressed outrage, saying:
 
“They’re going to try to convince me that I should give up my right to vote, and put the city of Detroit in the hands of the same man who said he wasn’t going to pass right-to-work.”
 
“(He’s) the same man who took away the earned income tax credit….the same man (who’s) taxing our pensions. Never, never!”
 
National Action Network’s Rev. Charles Williams II said:
 
“We’re not worried about no Kevin Orr. Uncle Toms ain’t nothing new. We’ve had Uncle Toms for a long time.”
 
Tom Barrow is president of Citizens for Detroit’s Future. He said Michigan’s emergency manager law imposes diktat powers. It was created to oppress. It passed in mid-December.
 
It’s similar to Public Act 4. In November, voters rejected it by statewide referendum. Governor Snyder and legislators ignored them. They have no say.
 
Draconian powers are authorized. They include appointing an EFM, undergoing bankruptcy, accepting state-imposed consent agreement terms, overruling locally elected officials, selling public assets, modifying or terminating contracts, ending pension obligations and more.
 
Orr has diktat powers. What he says goes. Detroit residents are on their own. They’re out of luck. It’s been that way for years. It’s worse now than ever.
 
Neoliberal priorities let vital needs go begging. Money power in private hands assures it.
 
Finance is a new form of warfare. Economies are strip-mined for profit. Communities are laid waste. Ordinary people are impoverished. They’re left out on their own.
 
Corrupt federal, state and local officials arrange things. They do so for greater power and self-enrichment.
 
John McMurtry is a Progressive Radio News Hour regular. His “Cancer Stage of Capitalism” explains. Its new edition expands on what he wrote earlier. He discusses a money sequencing life destroying system.
 
Economies and communities are plundered for profit. Financial bosses are more powerful than standing armies. They take full advantage.
 
Detroit is ground zero. It reflects what’s wrong with America. It exposes predatory capitalism’s failure. It represents the worst of what’s coming.
 
Ordinary people are out of luck. Greater pain and suffering will follow. Democracy’s nowhere in sight. Monied interests matter most.
 
Detroit’s a microcosm of America. It reflects what’s spreading nationwide. It exposes venal priorities. Let ’em eat cake is dogma. Force-fed austerity assures it.
 
America’s criminal class is bipartisan. It conspires with Wall Street crooks. It’s allied with other corporate favorites. Wealth, power and privilege alone matter.
 
Ordinary people are marginalized. They exploited. They’re entirely left out. Their lives are wrecked. They’re deprived of enough to live on. They’re heading for neoserfdom.
 
They’re on their own to fight back. Officials they elected are enemies. Preventing them from getting away with plundering America is top priority. Detroit’s a good place to start.

Homo Collaboratus

Off the keyboard of RE

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In his recent article The End of Technocracy and Zero Government, Steve from Virginia tracked the progress of the City of Detroit to the status of “Failed State”.  Not just Detroit is in this situation of course, you see it progressing all over the world from Somalia, to Egypt to Greece…and not long to arrive in Italy or France either.  Whose fault is this?  Where does the BLAME lie for the failure of this model?

The ‘Blame the Victim’ Game in Detroit

In areas where technocracy has been installed such as Greece, both the initial conditions and the failure of the process is blamed on the inhabitants. Greeks are ‘corrupt tax-cheats and lazy’. Detroiters are ‘stupid, drug-crazed Negro savages bent on murder and destruction’, French are ‘near-communists and cowards’, Irish are ‘ugly … drunken child molesters’. The purpose of the blame game is distraction while retirement savings are stolen by the establishment. The elderly ‘deserve what they (don’t) get! The blame game hits the target by appearing to miss it.

In Detroit, the citizens didn’t chase retail stores away, they didn’t over-invest in the auto industry, they didn’t ghettoize the city with ill-conceived developments and a web of freeways, they didn’t pollute the city with lead, zinc, chromium, mercury, toxic petroleum-based chemicals, they didn’t sell the city out to billionaire developers.

The citizens didn’t pave the city over with parking lots or built thousands of monstrously ugly concrete box- buildings. Detroiters are being shot by criminals, being driven out by block busting and urban decay, losing what little property wealth they had, having already lost hundreds of thousands of jobs. Detroiters have been abandoned by their country not the other way around.

The US spends hundreds of billions of dollars in Afghanistan, why not Detroit?

Why not Detroit?  Basically because it’s burned out, polluted flotsam of the Age of Oil, and costs too much to clean up.  Predatory Capitalism doesn’t clean up the messes it leaves behind, it moves on to make new messes elsewhere, always promising the inhabitants a “better standard of living”, which a few Elites get while the rest of the herd is left hung out to dry.

Steve isn’t the ONLY Blogger tracking Failed State development, John Ward also has been cateloguing the collapse of the Greek State, as well as numerous others in Europe.

Greece is the first country Russell has ever cut to emerging from developed market status, although given the state of the EU it seems highly unlikely it’ll be the last. The Russells haven’t considered doing the same to Spain and Italy just yet, the paper says, because ‘we haven’t seen the same degree of decline as we’ve observed in Greece’. The two conclusions I draw from that are first, Russell guys need to get out more; and second, the company has a lot to learn yet about Spanish accounting, and Italian reporting accuracy. Don’t forget, this latter is the country whose Hadron Collider scientists only six months ago got the speed of Light wrong.

But the main thing it is still hard for the casual observer to get his head round is what you are if you emerge, having once been developed. The vagueness, it seems to me, lies in the interim bit between the two states of Being. In 1936, Nazi Germany was a developed State led by a lunatic, which was then crushed to a pulp by British, American and Russian forces who’d become a tad concerned about the Fatherland’s wanderlust habit. The interim stage was the crushing thing. This is what’s missing from the Russell Investments analysis about recent Greek history.

Why does it progress in this fashion? Going back to November of 2011, I wrote an article titled Homo Collaboratus on Reverse Engineering looking at the progress toward failed State in Egypt. I am going to quote the article in full, since it is not accessible to non-members of Reverse Engineering.

Egypt is now in its 3rd Day of an increasingly Bloody “Revolution”, where all that the Military Repression has succeeded in doing is bringing still MORE “Protesters” back  into the streets….AGAIN. You can see here how and why even having vast techno power against protest eventually does FAIL, because of the Power of Numbers.

What I read in one MSM report was a quote from one member of the Military Junta currently running Egypt, which was that all this mayhem would succeed in doing was “Destroying the State”. That is a paraphrase, but essentially was his analysis, and its also quite TRUE.

The Hodgepodge of People out there on the street throwing Rocks have NO CLUE on how to set up a WORKING Goobermint, and once you pile them all together inside any kind of Newly Elected Parliament the Bickering will start all over again, and whomsoever they Choose to lead any new Goobermint will be just as powerless to bring any equity to their economic system as the last Dimwit Power Seeker was.

It’s the road obviously to a FAILED STATE, like say Somalia or Zimbabwe already are. The old soviet Union also turned into a Failed State, but they recoallesced into the smaller States it was composed of and briefly have slowed the devolution there. However, Eastern Europe is now on the brink of catastrophic debt collapse, and eventually here you will also get Failed States in places like Hungary and all the Balkan States.

Failed Nation States will become the Norm here over time, rather than the Exception that they are now in places like Somalia and Zimbabwe. In each Failed Nation State, people are dropping down to the next level of Organization, Tribal Affiliation. This as I see it is the medium term result which will occur through all Nation States as smaller groups of people Herd together for Self-Preservation.

In places like Afghanistan where they are not all that long removed from their Tribal Affiliations, the Pashtuns will gather together again fairly naturally, but what of Lazarus? Lazarus in this case being the vast multicultural diaspora of people who came to live in the FSofA, who have no real “Traditional Tribe” here and who have lived for generations under the political system of the Nation
State? Can they, WILL THEY be able to form up Tribes for mutual Survival and Protection?

In my general POSITIVE Spin on this topic, I believe that they WILL in fact form up such Tribes SPONTANEOUSLY. My rationale for this is as follows.

Homo Sapiens demonstrates BOTH the traits of Predatory Animals and Herd Animals alternately, depending on circumstances. It’s likely one of the main reasons Homo Sapiens has been such a successful species overall, the adaptability to take on different survival paradigms dependent on circumstance. Real Herd Animals like Buffalo can never become Predators, and real Predators like Lions can never function as Herd Animals, but Homo Sapiens can function either way, pretty much equally successful either way also.

The circumstances we have been living under for the last few 1000 years is one of general Surplus in the environment, which Favored the Predatory paradigm. We have many Herd Homo Sapiens and a few Predators who live well by predating on most of the Herd. However, as the herd is Culled here, the Predators will die in greater numbers by percentage than the Herd does. If you look at any complex ecosystem with predators and prey, once the prey drops below a certain level the predators drop off a cliff. They essentially disappear. The “Ponzi” that is the Food Chain works from the Bottom Up, the Predators cannot be successful until the Prey is available in sufficient quantity to support them.

The Herding tendency in Homo Sapiens is evident any time the species is confronted by massive external stress. You see it whenever a Tornado Hits a Small town. All of a SUDDEN, people who otherwise simply can’t stand each other are all Pulling Together to dig others out of the Rubble. You see it in OWS. All of a sudden, generally Middle Class people become ACCEPTING of the long term Homeless in their midst, and they in fact LEARN from them strategies to handle living on the Street. Don’t drop your Tent onto the Ground, put it up on Pallets so you’re not losing Heat into the ground from your Sleeping Bag. Etc.

IMHO, OWS is the BEGINNING of a NEW TRIBAL Paradigm here in the FSofA, with those who are already off the cliff or close to it gathering together in HERDS for self-protection and SURVIVAL in the face of the Predators, exemplified by the Gestapo who Pepper Spray them and fire the Tear Gas Canisters at them.

MANY of the Herd will DIE here. But NOT as many by percentage as the Predators. The very ACT of Protest and Forming Up the Circle of the Herd is what will PROTECT the Herd in the end. They will lose many on the periphery. But they will also STAMPEDE the Predators.

In the end, they will almost all go to the Great Beyond. However, some of the herd will make it through, some of them will retreat into the Mountains, the Great Wall that GOD built to protect the Independent Souls of the World. The Predators will Die Off, and over time, the Herd will reproduce and RETURN from the Mountains to once again populate the Flatlands.

Where once again, if all goes as it has gone here so many times and in so many ecosystems, the predators will emerge once again. For Homo Sapiens however, who remain adaptable and who DO have the ability to LEARN, perhaps in the next go round we can make the LEAP to a new species, Homo Collaboratus, the first Species EVER to jump beyond the Predator and Prey paradigm. it is my great HOPE that those who do survive this latest incarnation of Armageddon will be the progenitors of Homo Collaboratus. Certainly, the incarnation of Homo Industrialis has been a Magnificent FAILURE here, and one we will not repeat again.

Sadly, I will not be around to see this from this side of the Great Divide, unless perhaps I do return in another corporeal incarnation. Even if that does not occur though, I’ll see it to be sure.

I’ll see it, and you, from the Other Side.

RE

The progession to Failed State is inexorable, baked into the cake of the monetary system.  Depending on the resources and technology available, it can expand itself for a few Centuries, perhaps a Millenia before it reaches the Growth limits.  Although the Collapse is Gathering Steam now, it’s been underway a LONG time for anyone with their Eyes Open to see.

When I was in HS in NY Shity,  the City was BROKE.  The Subways were dilapidated, apartment complexes built in the 40s and 50s were Roach Motels.  My Aunt and Uncle lived in an awful complex called Vanderveer in Brooklyn.  Fortunately they lived on the 1st floor, because the elevators never worked.  Nothing was ever maintained, and none of it ever paid for itself in terms of “increased productivity”.  That was always just a euphimism for increased energy wastage.

The folks in charge of Credit Creation financed all of it through Debt, even JP Morgan didn’t have Gold enough in his Basement Safe to finance building the Railroads.  He also sure was not going to pay Irish and Chinese Coolies in Gold either.

These folks have refinaced themselves innumerable times, back in the 70s about ALL the major Banking Houses should have gone broke from Bad Loans made to South America in the 5os and 60s, when my dad was in the Biz of making those loans.  Financial Legerdermain kept it rolling, but it doesn’t work FOREVER.

You can’t create new Resources by issuing more credit.  Without copious resources to waste, its pointless to issue more credit. The ONLY reason more Credit gets extended to Greece now is to keep the whole House of Cards floating another day.  Nobody in their right mind can possibly believe Greece can ever pay its debts.

So, one by one they collapse, the Somalias, the Egypts, the Greeces and the Detroits.  The Money Masters and the Political Class work together in a Kabuki Theatre, trying to manage the collapse by blaming the Victims while preserving their own wealth and status.

The fact the collapse is accelerating now makes it clear these folks cannot control it anymore.  The last 40 years since the 1970s has been all about Financialism as a means of containment, but it is running out of steam. The old tricks just ain’t WORKING anymore.

All due respect to John Michael Greer and fans of the idea of a Slow “Boiling Frog”  form of catabolic collapse notwithstanding, systems as complex as this one eventually reach a “tipping point”, beyond which they can no longer function.  5 years ago when I began writing on collapse topics, NOBODY ventured the opinion a European Nation like Greece or now also Italy and Spain would be on the cusp of Failed State status, with numbers like 50% Youth Unemployment and GDP figures dropping like a rock.

It may seem “slow” to you on the span of your life for it to take 5 years for Greece to descend from “functioning” industrial economy to FAILED STATE, but even on the scale of the industrial revolution as a whole that is mighty fast.  If you figure the Industrialization of Greece began with the Marshall Plan in the aftermath of WWII, it took them about 60 years from 1945 to 2005 to reach the Zenith of Industrialism there, and it has just about ALL been undone in the last 5 years.  Greek “factories” are not producing Jack Shit, if they ever did.  About the only big Industry out of Greece was Shipping, and their Shipyards are Ghost Towns now, there is overcapacity of ships, international trade is collapsing and the Baltic Dry Index is so low you could hire a ship wit your Unmployment Check.

How long do we have HERE in the FSoA before it also is a Failed State?  The takeover of Detroit by the State of Michigan is a Canary in the Coal Mine which should let you know the collapse has begun in earnest now here.  Michigan itself is of course no more solvent than Detroit, so eventually will be “taken over by Da Federal Goobermint.  Who will take them over?  The Ferengi?

That the FSoA will devolve to a Failed State is not a hypothetical, it WILL occur, and based on the timelines already apparent in Europe, it will not take more than another decade to be apparent even to those Ostriches with their heads most deeply buried in the sand.

The fact though that it probably will take that long gives people in the FSofA aware of this a short Window of Time to prepare for it, and Reverse Engineer for themselves a non-industrial way of life.  You have to get started NOW in Collaboration with others to make such a transition possible.

Homo Industrialis and Homo Predatorus is going the way of the Dinosaur.  Only Homo Collaboratus and Homo Herdus can survive the Zero Point.  Form your Tribe NOW!  Circle the Wagons.  Defend the weak and the innocent.  STAMPEDE the PREDATORS.

Bring ON the POWER of NUMBERS.  We are not Sheeple.  We are BISON.  In number, NOTHING can stop us.  It is time now to STAMPEDE.

RE

The End of Technocracy and Zero Government

Off the keyboard of Steve from Virginia

Published on Economic Undertow on February 26, 2013

Detroit Tax Map 1

Figure 1: Detroit city tax map from WDWOT (click on for interactive big), (HT Atlantic Cities): Detroit is a good model for the rest of the United States as the country sinks into post-petroleum depression. One symptom is the inability of the city to provide basic services for its citizens because of shrinking revenue. Owners in the city are unable or unwilling to pay property taxes.

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The map illustrates properties which are current, properties in arrears and those in states of foreclosure. Only a handful of neighborhoods within the city are home to owners current on their property taxes. You can adjust the map to determine the degree to which property in the city is impaired, for instance half the city looks to be in tax arrears and under threat of tax auction.

Here’s Atlantic Cities:

 

Detroit’s Property Tax Black Hole, in Map Form John MetcalfeTo get a handle on how bad of a tax mess Detroit is sitting in right now, look no further than (above) depressing map showing every property in the city suffering “tax distress.”What looks like a big hunk of moldy cheese is in fact the property-tax status of 384,861* properties, as logged by Wayne County’s online tax portal. The lighter yellow boxes represent more than 59,000 distressed buildings where the owners haven’t paid their taxes. Squished among them are a honeycomb of orange boxes, indicating that these properties have such a large backlog of delinquent taxes that they’re now subject to foreclosure. (Count those up and you arrive at about 74,000 doomed properties.) The plots shown in red, meanwhile, are the 18,246 properties that have already been foreclosed.

On the bright side, gray areas mean those places don’t have tax issues. Lucky!

 

The gray areas are highways and city streets, parkland, commercial structures that earn enough in rent to pay expenses and non-taxable city property.

Detroit does not currently have a purely technocratic city administration but one looms over the horizon. Perhaps the establishment in Michigan can rethink the process as technocracy is an endgame, it will fail in Detroit as it has in Greece and Italy.

What is technocracy? It’s an establishment- installed ‘non-political’ manager with powers to restructure a jurisdiction to protect big business interests regardless of social or political consequences. Jurisdictions that have lost the ability to borrow and thence roll-over debts and pay interest are candidates for the technocratic ‘fix’. Meanwhile, the same inability to borrow strands the technocrats who have no tools to work with.

Technocracy tends to be the last step before default/repudiation of non-payable debts. After technocracy comes ‘zero-government’; the capitulation of the establishment, its dissolution into factions and chaos. This is part of the transition to a post-petroleum economy and breakdown of the status quo. Arguably, Detroit has endured ineffective, paternalistic ‘pro-business’ leadership since World War Two: the non-government is a necessary precondition to technocracy which surrenders shortly afterward to zero-government.

Hat meet rabbit: an emergency managers cannot magically deliver the means to repay tax arrears or interest on loans. To do so requires the creation of thousands of new jobs which is never within managers’ scope of employment. Their duty is to cut jobs. Technocrats lack imagination, they are repo-men They provide administrative smokescreens behind which the creditor interests pick over and privatize remaining marketable assets that have previously been too costly to pillage. The problem is … when governments reach the technocratic inflection point assets aren’t worth anything.

Here is the current Emergency Manager of the Detroit Public School System:

 

Roy S. Roberts was appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder in May 2011 to serve as Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager under the Local Government and School District Fiscal Accountability Act. Mr. Roberts, who was most recently Managing director at Reliant Equity Investors, has decades of managerial, financial and organizational experience, having served as the highest-ranking African-American executive in the U.S. automobile industry as Group Vice President for North American Vehicle Sales, Service and Marketing of General Motors Corporation from July 1999 to April 2000. Prior to that, Mr. Roberts also served as Vice President and Group Executive, North American Vehicle Sales, Service and Marketing of General Motors Corporation from October 1998 to July 1999. He was Vice President and General Manager in charge of Field Sales, Service and Parts for the Vehicle Sales, Service and Marketing Group of General Motors Corporation from August 1998 to October 1998. He served as General Manager of the Pontiac-GMC Division from February 1996 to October 1998, presiding over the merger of Pontiac-GMC …

 

Do you laugh or cry? Roberts offers management expertise to a bankrupt school system gained from within the bankrupt General Motors as a glorified car salesman! Roberts is not expected to improve learning in Detroit, but to facilitate the flow of public funds toward the private sector … this is what technocrats do.

 

3.1 Salary The Emergency Manager’s salary for services rendered under this Contract shall be $250,000.00 per year, paid by the District.

 

He is additionally compensated for personal expenses. Unsurprisingly, the citizens refuse to pay taxes. Tax evasion/declining government revenue is a characteristic of technocracies: why throw good money after bad? Here’s Mike ‘Mish’ Shedlock:

 

Half of Detroit Properties Have Not Paid Taxes; Update on Detroit Bankruptcy The hollowing out of Detroit is nearly complete. All that’s left is a bankrupt shell of a city with no services and scattered citizens that do not pay taxes.The Detroit News reports Half of Detroit Property Owners Don’t Pay Taxes.“Nearly half of the owners of Detroit’s 305,000 properties failed to pay their tax bills last year, exacerbating a punishing cycle of declining revenues and diminished services for a city in a financial crisis, according to a Detroit News analysis of government records.

The News reviewed more than 200,000 pages of tax documents and found that 47 percent of the city’s taxable parcels are delinquent on their 2011 bills. Some $246.5 million in taxes and fees went uncollected, about half of which was due Detroit and the rest to other entities, including Wayne County, Detroit Public Schools and the library.

Delinquency is so pervasive that 77 blocks had only one owner who paid taxes last year, The News found. Many of those who don’t pay question why they should in a city that struggles to light its streets or keep police on them.

“Why pay taxes?” asked Fred Phillips, who owes more than $2,600 on his home on an east-side block where five owners paid 2011 taxes. “Why should I send them taxes when they aren’t supplying services? It is sickening. … Every time I see the tax bill come, I think about the times we called and nobody came.”

 

Shedlock’s ‘solution’ is technocratic: to quash the unions and fire workers. It would be far better to fire the automobiles instead. Raising taxes in a depression is a failure, blaming the city workers is blaming the victims.

In Detroit, homeowners are broke and unable to pay, others are in dispute with the city over the amount of tax due: real estate worth has plummeted over the past 20 years and assessments are ‘uncertain’. There are questions about durable title particularly on foreclosed properties. The large banks and mortgage servicers own multiple properties they look to shift the burdens each property represents onto the taxpayers.

Many thousands of houses in Detroit are burn-outs or dilapidated and require demolition. By not paying taxes, the banks force the city to take over properties and demolish buildings at city’s- rather the banks’ expense. In Detroit, the cost of demolition is not much less than the average cost of a house.

Occasionally the government runs amok: houses in Detroit are demolished after people buy them … to save them from demolition. Why pay taxes and support ineptitude or criminals?

It is likely to be difficult for Michigan’s governor to find another car salesman willing to become Detroit’s Next Great Technocrat! Pre-failure failure in Detroit, (Huffington):

 

Asked during a short, one-on-one session with The Associated Press if any potential candidates for such a job (emergency manager) had already declined it, Snyder responded: “Oh yeah. There were quite a few people who were in that camp. Because if you think about it, and this is not to imply we’re going to do one, but it would be an extremely challenging position.” Challenging may be an understatement.Mayor Dave Bing has placed the city’s current budget deficit at about $327 million. The report given to Snyder Tuesday by the state-appointed review team said the accumulated deficit as of June 30, 2012, would have topped $900 million if Detroit leaders in recent years had not issued bonds to pay some of its bills.Long-term liabilities, including underfunded pensions, is more than $14 billion, and in recent months the city has relied on bond money from an escrow account to meet its dwindling cash flow needs and to pay city workers.

The review team also said that because of its cash deficit the city would have to either increase revenues or decrease expenditures, or both, by about $15 million per month between January and March to “remain financially viable.”

 

The ‘Blame the Victim’ Game in Detroit

 

In areas where technocracy has been installed such as Greece, both the initial conditions and the failure of the process is blamed on the inhabitants. Greeks are ‘corrupt tax-cheats and lazy’. Detroiters are ‘stupid, drug-crazed Negro savages bent on murder and destruction’, French are ‘near-communists and cowards’, Irish are ‘ugly … drunken child molesters’. The purpose of the blame game is distraction while retirement savings are stolen by the establishment. The elderly ‘deserve what they (don’t) get! The blame game hits the target by appearing to miss it.

In Detroit, the citizens didn’t chase retail stores away, they didn’t over-invest in the auto industry, they didn’t ghettoize the city with ill-conceived developments and a web of freeways, they didn’t pollute the city with lead, zinc, chromium, mercury, toxic petroleum-based chemicals, they didn’t sell the city out to billionaire developers.

The citizens didn’t pave the city over with parking lots or built thousands of monstrously ugly concrete box- buildings. Detroiters are being shot by criminals, being driven out by block busting and urban decay, losing what little property wealth they had, having already lost hundreds of thousands of jobs. Detroiters have been abandoned by their country not the other way around.

The US spends hundreds of billions of dollars in Afghanistan, why not Detroit?

Detroit’s notorious crime problem appears to be the result of lead pollution from fuel additives and manufacturing residues in the soil along with fumes from burning lead paint spewed into the air from the thousands of building fires taking place every year in the city … rather than skin color.

The black establishment in Detroit has never been able to stand up to the white establishment which owns everything important, which controls the city’s budget, which anoints various city administrations, which constantly looks for opportunities to blame blacks for everything gone wrong.

Since 1920 the auto industry has run Detroit like a coal mining ‘company town’. Most of the housing stock in Detroit was sub-standard as built: cheap frame houses thrown up as rapidly as possible on an unrelenting grid. Detroiters are learning the hard way: land use and urban design matter. The citizens did not design the buildings or lay out the streets. What charm the city once possessed has been swept away for parking lots and cheap commercial and institutional ‘facilities’. The citizens did not do this, it was business interests seeking the quick buck for themselves at the expense of everyone else.

Following the Great Wave of European master craftsmen to the city in the 19th century, most of the emigres in decades following have been unskilled, uneducated agricultural workers seeking assembly-line jobs. They added little to the community other than modest paychecks and a burning desire to relocate themselves to the suburbs as soon as possible. Even in the 1950s, when the auto workers union gained touted increases in pay and benefits, the companies they worked for were shrinking, first by way of automation then by ruinous competition and business failure.

The unraveling of the US car industry has been the decline and fall of Detroit: the population has shrunk from 1.8 million to less than 700,000. Who is to live in the abandoned houses? Even without the fires and the blight, half of the ‘original city’ would be empty. Where are the jobs?

Meanwhile, the Detroiters are on the hook for tens billions of dollars of debt taken on to run the ossified city government, pay pensions, build football and baseball stadiums … arenas, improvements for casinos and retail ‘big-box’ stores. The reason Michigan keeps Detroit at arm’s length is because the state is as bankrupt as the city. If it does nothing, the city’s finance burdens will crush the state, if it tries to ‘fix’ the city the effort will crush the state just as well.

The establishment has created this mess, not the Detroiters. Meanwhile, technocracy marches over the edge of the cliff around the world:

– Japan’s ‘democracy’ has been a facade that masks control by business cartels, in this way all recent governments in Japan are technocratic. Japanese citizens are confronted with the doubling of consumption taxes by 2014: these are taxes levied to meet the spiraling cost of servicing Japan’s monumental debt. Enter the new ‘Shinzo Abe 2.0′ government promising to borrow more, faster … presuming Japan’s total debt burden can be added to without causing a crash. Increasing numbers of Japan’s citizens are elderly, they do not consume, they are unwilling to pay more taxes. Meanwhile, Japan’s overseas customers are broke. They cannot buy Japanese products and by doing so lend to the Japanese.

The outcome is a currency market panic … that is not likely to end well.

– The Greeks are bankrupt, the European Union has bailed out (some of) Greece’s lenders while burdening Greeks with higher taxes that the Greeks refuse to pay. The technocratic government installed by the IMF, European Central Bank and the EU has collapsed, the country now has post-technocratic ‘zero government’.

– Italians have been confronted with higher technocrat-imposed taxes: they evade them or refuse to pay. Voters have just now jettisoned the current IMF-supported technocrat regime. The outcome is post-technocratic zero-government in Italy.

– The French unraveling is well underway the current government is the precursor to a technocracy. The Socialists are incoherent, they appear to have no set strategy or clear understanding of their dilemma which is the consequence of extinguished capital. When the French cannot borrow cheaply, they will be given the ‘Italian Choice’: to install a technocratic regime or be frozen out of credit markets.

– Sequester in the US is technocracy-by-the-numbers, the theft of retirements under the guise of ‘responsible government’ for the benefit of lenders. After technocracy fails comes zero-government.

Moderns look to waste resources but the outcome is to become Detroit in every sense. Japan and Greece have passed their respective points of no-return. Their ability to waste resources is collapsing because their external debt subsidies have been curtailed, they cannot borrow to repay their debts so they cannot borrow to obtain fuel. Meanwhile, working out of debt is beyond what can be done with human labor or what modest remaining capital can leverage.

The wild card in Italian politics: by John Hooper and Lizzy Davies (Guardian UK):

 

Italy on Monday night risked pitching into political turmoil as projections of the result of its general election pointed to a hung parliament and confirmed that the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S), led by an ex-comedian, Beppe Grillo, had exploded onto the national stage. So far, Grillo has ruled out supporting either side in his drive to sweep away Italy’s existing political parties and the cronyistic culture they support.

 

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard (Telegraph UK):

 

In an earthquake result, the Five Star protest movement of comedian Beppe Grillo looked likely to emerge as the biggest single party in the lower house. The scourge of bankers and corrupt elites, Mr Grillo has campaigned for a return to the lira and a restructuring of Italy’s €1.9 trillion (£1.64 trillion) public debt. The conservative bloc of ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi looked poised to win the senate, coming back from the political grave with vows to rip up the EU’s austerity plans and push through tax cuts to pull Italy out of deep slump.“The majority of Italians have clearly voted against the Brussels consensus. That is a damning indictment,” said Mats Persson from Open Europe.A euphoric rally on European bond and stock markets early on Monday gave way to abrupt selling as it became clear that Italy would be left with a hung parliament and no consensus over fundamental policies, leaving the country almost ungovernable.

 

There is little chance of escape for Italy from zero-government, just like Detroit. The innovation of the Five Star Movement is that it spurns TV and the need for officials to sell themselves to business interests in order to raise advertising money. Five Star candidates offer their platforms on Facebook and Twitter. None of this addresses our evaporating capital problem. Italy and the rest need new ideas about how to wisely use what capital remains: to husband it for the future rather than burning it up faster and faster.

Our current economy uses the destruction of capital as collateral for ‘infinite’ loans. This process must be voluntarily ended or it will be ended for us with zero-government as a component of the process.

Europe and the rest of the world is being de-carred: this is because cars are unaffordable luxuries. For some reason, this is too complex and difficult a problem for economists and policy makers to grasp! What is ‘growth’? Always more and more cars. Why isn’t there any growth? Because adding more cars amplifies the car-cost problem, which is the increasingly efficient destruction of capital. The solution to our capital destruction problem isn’t baling out lenders … presumably so they might lend again … but to end cars and their monstrous claims against capital!

The world’s fuel supply is shrinking along with credit availability. Without a constant supply of new fuel there are shortfalls. Economic activity is curtailed as a result. Without that constant supply of new credit, nobody can retire old loans or service them, nobody can obtain fuel. Credit is constrained further in a vicious cycle … there is no way out.

The establishment insists that the problems in Detroit and elsewhere is the social safety net/excess savings. Lenders complain about the safety net, insisting savings impinges debt repayment. Yet gutting it represents only a temporary reprieve, the debts cannot be repaid because the collateral for the debt is waste and the instrument of waste is cars. In a way, Detroit is a victim of its own success.

The cars’ days are numbered: the car and tire manufacturers, the fuel industry, the highway construction industry, the tract house industry, the big-box retailer industry, the truck-transport industry, the gigantic 80-story concrete penis in the middle of town industry, the military industrial complexes, the finance and insurance industries … all of the automobile dependencies are bankrupt, a gigantic, worldwide dinosaur that has cut its own head cut off by way of its pointless success … too stupid to lay down and die.

Die it will and very soon, children, very soon … not before threshing everything in the world to bits, first.

Model City…

Off the keyboard of Steve from Virginia

Published on Economic Undertow on December 15, 2012

Jacob Farrand house 1

Unknown Photographer, Jacob Farrand house on Woodward Avenue between Sloat and Trinity streets in Detroit (1881). Burton Historical Collection @ University of Michigan Library.

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People say California is a good model for the rest of the country, it is “The Place Where The Future Happens First!”

Detroit is a much better model than California: it is the place where the future happened a long time ago. Persons seeking that ‘Mad Max’ dystopia — where law and order is very much a sometimes thing, where the house next door is a burnout and the neighbors down the street are dope-addled zombies — need look no further than the ex-Motor City.

 

How it got this bad in Detroit has become a point of national discussion. Violent crime settled into the city’s bones decades ago, but recently, as the numbers of police officers have plummeted and police response times have remained distressingly high, citizens have taken to dealing with things themselves. In this city of about 700,000 people, the number of cops has steadily fallen, from about 5,000 a decade ago to fewer than 3,000 today. Detroit homicides — the second-highest per capita in the country last year, according to the FBI — rose by 10 percent in 2011 to 344 people.
…Average police response time for priority calls in the city, according to the latest data available, is 24 minutes. In comparable cities across the country, it is well under 10 minutes.The number of justifiable homicides, in which residents use deadly force in self-defense, jumped from 19 in 2010 to 34 last year — a 79 percent rise — according to newly released city data.

 

The city with the highest murder rate in the US is New Orleans, another post-future model. More information about world homicide rates can be found in the UN Global Study on Homicide in 2011. Places with highest homicide rates are third-world hell-holes such as Venezuela, Jamaica, Honduras and El Salvador, districts of northern Mexico adjacent to the US border and south-central Africa. These futures are a step or two down the ladder from Detroit into the energy abyss.

John Mauldin (HT Glen):

 

A consistent theme in this letter has been the connections between items that may seem to be far removed from each other but are actually linked at the very core. If you push on one end you get a reaction in what would seem to be the most unlikely spots. Today we explore the connection between the fiscal deficit and energy policy. Everyone in Washington is starting to “get religion” about wanting to fix the deficit, with serious thinkers on all sides acknowledging that there must be reform and a path to a balanced budget. Burgeoning healthcare and Social Security costs are rightly pointed to as the problem, and entitlement reform will soon be front and center. But the fiscal (government) deficit in the US cannot go away unless we also deal with the trade deficit. As we will see, it is a simple accounting issue, and one based on 400 years of accepted accounting principles. And dealing with the trade deficit in the US means working with our energy policy.The trade imbalances among the partners in the eurozone are at the heart of the problems there as well. And while we will get back to Europe in a few weeks (remember when we seemed to be focused on Europe and Greece for months on end?), today we will explore the trade problem from a US perspective. Happily, this problem, while serious, does have a workable solution. And it might even happen in spite of government policy, though if a proactive energy policy were developed, it could ignite a true economic renaissance.

 

Mauldin carries on telling readers how friendly tycoons are going to save us all with huge reservoirs of crude oil:

 

I have been wanting to explore the implications of the shale oil revolution. Old oil fields are wearing out, as peak oil advocates point out. Where can we find the huge and cheap-to-exploit oil fields to replace them? Hasn’t all the easy oil already been found?

 

Because language is infinitely malleable, words can mean or imply anything the utterer wishes them to mean. Hasn’t all the easy oil already been found? What is ‘easy oil’? What does ‘easy’ mean: “Easy for me, hard for you?” Mauldin does not use the word affordable, nor does he mention costs. Over the course of five-thousand two hundred words the consumption side of the energy equation is never discussed … this is surprising/misleading because our crisis is the direct product of consumption. Decades of industrialized, highly-efficient guzzling of the cheapest, easiest fuels have bankrupted us! Because of our incredible ‘success’ we must now deploy unorthodox extraction techniques that might indeed be ‘easy’ but are unaffordably costly. Can anyone see anything wrong with that?

If cheap and easy have bankrupted us … what will expensive and difficult do?

Mauldin invests many words on the US trade imbalance, noting:

 

Not Everyone Can Run a Surplus … we are spending more for energy even as we use less of it, and that drives up our trade deficit. Let’s see why this matters. As long-time readers know, I have often written about how you cannot balance private and government deficits without a positive trade balance. Let me quickly review.It is the desire of every country to somehow grow its way out of the current mess. And indeed that is the time-honored way for a country to heal itself.

 

No country has ever ‘grown’ itself out of debt or a debt crisis. Debts have been repudiated or restructured. Countries have abused foreign exchange, waged war and conquered or have been destroyed. Governments have bankrupted creditors or sent them to the gibbet. They have stalled for time until able to take on orders-of-magnitude greater debts from new- or the same creditors … thereby refinancing existing obligations.

In a global economy all the creditors have been tapped. There is no new source of credit except Bankers from Mars.

The increase of debt masquerades as growth. The US appears to grow which allows more debt to be taken on to create the appearance of still more growth which in turn enables additional debt. Right now the Establishment lies about growth in order to take on more debt. This scam of ‘growth-to debt-to growth-to debt’ is all there is to industrial prosperity … along with fuel-wasting garbage that breaks down and is thrown out in a few years. Unlike real output of goods and services which is constrained by thermodynamics, debt has no limits as long as the increases can be supported with good ‘progress’ stories.

Frakking and ‘shale oil’ are part of the narrative that serves to generate loans for energy tycoons. ‘Energy Independence’ is the empty abstraction that is offered as the narrative’s objective. Business customers and ordinary citizens are required to repay the debts … and their children and grandchildren.

 

But let’s look at an equation that shows why that might not be possible this time. We have here another case of people wanting to believe six impossible things before breakfast.

 

Good grief … the narrative is complete with Mauldin ‘folksy-isms’.

 

Let’s divide a country’s economy into three sectors: private, government, and exports. If you play with the variables a little bit, you find that you get the following equation. Keep in mind that this is an accounting identity, not a theory. If it is wrong, then five centuries of double-entry bookkeeping must also be wrong. Domestic Private Sector Financial Balance + Governmental Fiscal Balance – the Current Account Balance (or Trade Deficit/Surplus) = 0.

 

This is correct but not particularly relevant. America’s current account is not a problem. America creates its own dollars as needed, the oil sheiks recycle their imported US dollars back into the US economy. The imbalance that really matters is at home, at the end of Americans’ driveways:

 

 

These machines are not farm tractors or delivery vehicles, they are not used for work, they are luxuries, a drug, a form of crack cocaine. What they earn is zero, their cost must be met with debt, the cost of the fuel they consume is also met with debt, so is the cost of the infrastructure that these machines require. If the individual users are unable to obtain the needed credit then the economy as a whole- and the state must obtain it in the individual’s place. Otherwise, the consumption components of the string economy are deprived of funds. This credit starving process is underway, even as the cost of debt has become unmanageable. While frakking costs are extraordinary, the consumption side debts are galactic! Realistically, nobody/nothing can hope to repay them.

The consumption side is a money-loser. Sez Mauldin: “Play with the variables a little bit, you find that you get the following equation. Keep in mind that this is an accounting identity, not a theory. If it is wrong, then five centuries of double-entry bookkeeping must also be wrong:”
The Cost of Fuel + The Cost of Credit Needed to Pay for Both Fuel and Fuel Use/Waste Infrastructure – Returns on the Use of the Fuel = 0

Right now, returns are juiced with credit otherwise the process would have failed a long time ago. The means to set a price is also the means to meet that price. If a price is bid by access to credit, the consumers must have access to the same credit to meet that price. In model cities such as Detroit where the consumption side started losing purchasing power in 1929 the consequences of rationed credit are obvious: welcome to the death spiral, where costs race ability to meet them into the basement!
Jacob Farrand house 3

The banality of future world: the Woodward Avenue location in 2009. The towers at the rear of the photo are abandoned as are other structures in the area.

The best way to look at the peak oil dilemma is to ignore physical production — which has little to do with anything — and to consider the City of Detroit as the model customer for all of John Mauldin’s newly frakked crude oil. The shattered city filled desperately impoverished people is somehow supposed to afford more costly fuel when it can barely afford what it has now.

Energy products can be obtained but only if someone’s grandmother is gunned down inside her house by a gang of dope-crazed teenaged hoodlums. The reason for the hoodlums has been the success of industries in pauperizing the city. Either consumers must become richer or costs of fuel-plus-credit must decline. Since the trend — as seen in the model city — is for consumers to become impoverished the outcome is for costs to be unmet and the production/credit side to be de-funded …

When customers cannot afford fuel it remains in the ground. Right now, Detroit — that model for America’s future in today’s present — cannot afford cops. It cannot afford firefighters, it cannot afford basic services. It has been bankrupted by the short-term success of its own consumption tycoons … hard to see how it can pay for high cost petroleum!

 

“We got to have a little Old West up here in Detroit. That’s what it’s gonna take,” Detroit resident Julia Brown told The Daily. The last time Brown, 73, called the Detroit police, they didn’t show up until the next day. So she applied for a permit to carry a handgun and says she’s prepared to use it against the young thugs who have taken over her neighborhood, burglarizing entire blocks, opening fire at will and terrorizing the elderly with impunity.“I don’t intend to be one of their victims,” said Brown, who has lived in Detroit since the late 1950s. “I’m planning on taking one out.”

 

The Detroit model of house-bursting brigands is scalable: for the country to afford energy products Congress must rob grandmothers in their own houses by absconding with their retirements.

Fuel Costs + Credit Costs – Returns on Fuel Use = 0.

The implications of this little formula are profound. As with current accounts, the sum of costs and real ability to pay are always zero. As returns on fuel use are negligible, fuel and credit costs must decline … and they are. Underway right now is the desperate, last stand pillaging of what remains of the world’s wealth to obtain fuel and credit, every bit wealth is up for grabs. The real cost of fuel and credit must fall to what the fuel and credit users can afford. Looking at Detroit, the affordable amount is very small indeed.

The question is whether there will be any fuel available and the affordable price? Time will tell.

The String Economy…

Off the keyboard of Steve from Virginia

Published on Economic Undertow on December 9, 2012

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After five years of ‘The Great Financial Crisis’ there is a sense of relief as Christmas approaches. There is nervous talk by central bankers and economists, but also hope of ‘recovery’and a following new period of prosperity … tomorrow.

It’s always tomorrow: where this recovery is going to come from or what will drive it nobody really knows, It is just taken on faith that a recovery is certain to arrive because recoveries have always arrived in the past. “Why not?” the economists ask, “It’s never different this time!”

The sense of security is misleading and unsettling. We are like a person wearing a sweater with a thread caught on something, we are walking away … Pulling the string does not blow up the sweater or cause it to crash. The sweater diminishes without our being too much aware of it. There is little drama, only a Great Unraveling. Instead of a strong economy, we have a string economy, the pulling of which is invisible to economists.

(Unknown photographer) Fairy-tale palaces for the well-to-do in the Paris of the Midwest, on Alfred Street in Brush Park in Detroit in 1881. It was all a fantastic dream, a stage-set for Victorian manners and unimaginable prosperity without end, a gilded age, the product of the settlement of the far West, of the overreaching railroads and steamships … and of millions of highly skilled immigrants from Europe.

Brush Park was a psychedelic dream-scape of hundreds of extravagant, gilded mansions, with hundreds more throughout the city: not so much an idea but an escape from the necessity of having to think about anything at all. It was as if the prosperity wasn’t real but needed physical manifestations, each more outlandish than the next … to reassure those with the most that most was indeed what they had.

What the most have today is an irksome and uncertain non-crisis, a fake. Relief resides entirely in the form of central bank credit. These banks offer trillions in low-cost loans to both governments and the finance industry so that these establishments might dodge the consequences of the gigantic debts they have already taken on. There is no gilded palace on Alfred Street for this debt for it must squirreled away out of sight. Managers hope that ordinary citizens will ignore the creaking colossus until it is safe to set it loose again, debt giving rise to still more debt against a renewed backdrop of ‘growth’.

The only gain from the central bank lending/hiding strategy is a reduction of the interest cost and an escape from accountability. Both the reduction and the escape are temporary: the banking sector receives the benefits of interest reduction while the costs are shifted to the citizens. Escape keeps finance scoundrels out of jail until the statute of limitation expires. Nothing is done to reduce the overall debt burden, indeed nothing can be done! Modernity and industry both require a constant increase of debt and cannot tolerate any decrease. ‘Growth’ is a measure of the increase in debt and therefor a measure of wealth! Without the general increase of wealth it is impossible for tycoons to gain more beyond what they already have. In a debt-constrained world, one tycoon can only gain when other tycoons lose. It is a pitiless world indeed that sets one tycoon against the others.

Any increase in debt must take place in the private sector because wealth cannot exist unless it can be extracted at great pain from the citizens. This is because money, wealth and debt are all interchangeable claims against the non-tycoons’ vanishingly small allotment of time. A tycoon can always obtain more money but no human can gain more time: for wealth to have meaning it must be worth what is dear to everyone, not just tycoons! To be a tycoon is to have a great surplus of others’ time.

Debt repayments must therefor be extracted from the public, the higher the cost to the public the more useful/satisfying wealth is for the tycoon … being a sadistic libertine is a characteristic which enables an individual to become a tycoon in the first place.

Sadly, the private sector is unable to increase its supply of debt as there is already too much debt for ordinary economic activity to manage properly. Enter the central banks, which lend in the place of the private sector. Inflationists cry that this is horrible, like beating a dog with a curtain rod … Having the central banks or the government write checks to tycoons simply will not do, it’s bad manners, the payments do not represent wealth, in fact do not represent anything. The certainly do not represent anyone’s time.

This concern is misplaced for two reasons. One is because lending to tycoons is what central banks do constantly: lending-plus-sadism is how tycoons get to be that way. Second, because the absence of real money is considered to be temporary. With the loans offered by the central banks, there is certain to be more private sector credit made available … tomorrow.

There is no inflation because the central banks do not really replace the private sector, they only fake it. Whatever amounts of credit the central bank offers is less than what is retired or destroyed by private sector deleveraging. Even as the central banks’ expand their balance sheets, the private sectors’ balance sheets contract … without the efforts of the central banks there is no credit to be had with dire consequences all around!

The governments could issue currency without borrowing and use it to retire some of the debt. This would not add to the supply of money because retiring the debt would extinguish newly-issued currency at the same time. The governments so far have refused to do this. Bankers would object … as would the tycoons who desire to extract wealth from the workers’ bloodstreams, not from the government. The government could issue sufficient currency so that the supply of money expands enough for the tycoons to gain more of it. Having the government write checks to tycoons simply will not do, it’s bad manners, etcetera …

Meanwhile, the Establishment attempts to prop up key men everywhere around the world by any means necessary. Any institution that is deemed to be ‘systemically important’ is supported with the ordinary citizens’ credit … except for those things the same Establishment deems worthy of being blown up by drones or commandos. Non-key institutions such as Detroit and other American cities are abandoned to molder then collapse.

The citizens mutter, they are under a cloud that grows longer and darker with each pull of the string. Unemployment relentlessly increases, there are rumors of ‘austerity’ to be added onto the thermodynamic variety that emerges from diminished energy availability. The establishment has only one tactic: to add more debt, which has typically increased since the beginning of the industrial revolution. Debt has become non-productive, we have the unraveling sweater economy as a consequence … there needs to be another approach.

We are caught between what we want and what we need. We want it all, we feel entitled: we are like children. We cannot help ourselves. The yarn is pulled and the sweater becomes very small, the bottom is now at our armpits. We know there are steps that we must take … we must stop pulling the string … but we refuse to take them.

Alfred street in 1993 (Unknown photographer for City of Detroit). The house behind the car is the third house from the left in the top photo. Modern Detroit, a first-world slum:

Slums are a product of modernity just the same as automobiles and jet airplanes. They are economically segregated areas, places where society’s losers are swept. Modernity washes its hands of the slum-dwellers then moves onto other business … the creation of more slum dwellers. Slums are the end product of social Darwinism, the necessary ‘yin’ to business success ‘yang’.

More success = more slums. Failure of the process also = more slums. Modernity asserts that it eliminates poverty. Slums stand as evidence that modernity creates poverty. More modernity = more poverty.

As with Mumbai and Nairobi, so goes Detroit and other slum-cities, the product of- as well as destination for industrial prosperity.

Detroit was undone by the extraction of time from tens-of-millions of Americans by Detroit’s auto- and other business tycoons. At the end of the day, America had no time for Detroit. The stock market crash of 1929 and the following Depression ruined many of the old Detroit families. The manors were sold or divided into apartments or configured as rooming houses for auto workers. Others were demolished and replaced with cheaply built stores, shabby institutional buildings or parking lots. In 1935, the immense Brewster-Douglass public housing project for the ‘working poor’ was built at the far end of Alfred Street, just out of range of this photograph. War production saw the city filled with hundreds of thousands of job-seekers and factory workers who required housing. Many of these job-seekers were Negroes from the American south. Blacks were undesirables in nearly every Detroit neighborhood. As a consequence, housing was very expensive in neighborhoods where they were allowed to settle, much more so than for whites who could live anywhere in the city. Housing for blacks was also in far more advanced states of decay. Tension between races exploded in 1943 with a city-wide race riot that killed 34, with thousands arrested and soldiers patrolling the streets.

After the war, whites who could fled the city for the ballooning suburbs, a period of migration that lasted for decades. Cities are made and broken by flows of capital and human beings. Detroit originally grew and took form from the incoming tide of European immigrants who built in the manner and with the materials they were familiar. The craftsmen who built the fairy castles were replaced with unskilled agricultural workers looking to toil in the expanding automobile factories, these workers had no background or interest in city-building. They needed a paycheck, the city would take care of itself.

Instead, big business ‘took care’ of the city. Beginning in 1908 came the machines: the city was steadily made over as an auto habitat. It didn’t take much: Detroit’s street plan was laid out before the automobile — the width of the streets and boulevards and vast spaces anticipated it. The distances were too great for walking, often there was no ‘place’ to walk to. Starting in the 1950s and 60s, the city was divided by superhighways. the Chrysler and Edsel Ford freeways were built north and east of Brush Park, flattening the commercial districts and cutting off neighborhood from the rest of the city … by 1970, after another race riot, the Brush Park neighborhood was abandoned to street criminals and drug addicts. The fairy palaces grew furry and gray with rot, they collapsed or were demolished one at a time, the housing projects were also abandoned then stripped. Today there are a couple of dozen occupied houses in this neighborhood, the rest is weed-covered vacant space dotted with gaping ruins and some low-quality replacement housing and commercial buildings.

Not just Detroit: the machines overran neighborhoods and commercial districts in cities all over the country, this happens to be Buffalo, New York (Atlantic) James Howard Kunstler calls this the suicide of Midwest American cities, instead it is inadvertent suburbanization. The post-auto density and the form of building within the cities is identical to that of the surrounding suburbs. Replacement construction in places like Brush Park is identical to that of the suburb: quickly constructed low-rise apartment complexes or ‘pods’ of identical, cheaply designed and built vinyl-sided shacks.

Brush Park- Alfred Street by way of Google. It is only a matter of time before these ‘new’ buildings go the way of their predecessors. There is no reason for anyone to care about them, any more than they did for the housing projects or the fairy palaces.

Nothing in the Brush Park neighborhood or the rest of the city was made to withstand the test of time, the appeal of the place was narrowly immediate and instant. There was no ‘greater place’ that the original neighborhood could be an indispensable part of. Detroit was a collection of unrelated buildings and occupation districts. The Park was created as a ghetto, a place of confinement for rich people who had no choice but to look at each others’ wealth every day and become bored with it. The vast endeavor could never be re-purposed into anything other than a self-referential institution, the same as an insane asylum or a water tower. There was nothing transcendent, every building was a single-function enterprise, created to mandate/channel behavior.

No doubt there are many who could rebuild the entirety of Brush Park as it was … as a museum piece. The Federal government could certainly do it for the cost of one mile of urban freeway. The fashion impulse that made the place possible 140 years ago no longer exists. Americans have nothing in the way of tools that would give such a project form other than nostalgia and wonder over building and design skills that were common in the late-nineteenth century but no longer exist. We don’t know how to create engaging urban spaces and we don’t know how to inhabit them. We have forgotten how to be Victorian merchants. We know how to get in our cars and drive.

Which is why we cling to the immediate present so desperately, we really don’t know how to do anything else. For us to learn is too dangerous because we don’t have the luxury of time, it has been stolen by the tycoons! By the time … we find out what danger we are in it will be to late to do anything about it.

Motown Memories

Off the keyboard of Newzhound Joe

Discuss this article at Joe’s Newz Channel inside the Diner

The Diner’s most prolific Newz Aggregator Newzhound Joe debuts here with his first Diner Article, Motown Memories.  Detroit is often held up as the Canary in the Coal Mine for Industrial Cities from Berlin to Moscow to Beijing to Tokyo.  The rest here from Joe…

RE

Since I’ve travelled to the Detroit area many times over the years, I thought I’d share some of my experiences there.  Some of this involves “restaurant talk” because much of my travel in the area is about getting to different restaurants while visiting the mother-in-law.  There’s been some “fatty talk” in the commentary recently.  Just for the record, I like to eat a big dinner – but I’m not a “fatty”.  :icon_mrgreen:

Mother-in-law lives in Grosse Ile which is about 25 miles South of Detroit.  A favorite place of mine to eat dinner is R.P. McMurphy’s in Wyandotte.  It’s home is a 1890’s red brick building and is described as “turn-of-the-century saloon”. 

RP’s has a very good NY Strip and Prime Rib at very affordable prices.  Next door is a Merrill Lynch office.  Here’s a picture of the bull sculpture in front of the office:

It was constructed by manipulating water heater cores.  It’s ironic to me that the bull sculpture is completely hollow.

Down the street from RP’s is Frank’s Restaurant & Pizzeria. This is the best pizza place in the area.
 
On some of these trips, we used to drive a little further north and eat at the Auburn Cafe located in River Rouge. They serve up a pretty good “family style” Greek meal. I’d guess the abandoned Packard Plant is about 10-15 miles from this restaurant.  The landscape really changes once you cross from Wyandotte into River Rouge – it gets very “industrial”. The population of River Rouge peaked around 1950 with over 20,000 people.  It currently has under 8,000 inhabitats. From the map below, the railroad action (gray lines) picks up north of Wyandotte. This is also where you notice some really large abandoned plants off West Jefferson Street (east side). It really looks apocalyptically post-industrial to me.

The landscape probably gets even more “industrially toxic” (or “post-industrially toxic”) a little further NE of Auburn Cafe.  This is where Zug Island is located.  The reason I say “probably gets even more industrially toxic in Zug Island, is because the island is off-limits to the public for the most part (cameras are prohibited on the premises).  It was once a robust hub for steelmaking & processing. Notice the gray RR lines in the image below:

 
Probably a good thing I never made it to Zug Island – from Wikipedia:

One of the most pressing problems in the neighborhoods surrounding Zug Island is poor air quality. According to an article in the January 20, 2010 edition of the Detroit Free Press, the neighborhoods around the area comprise six of the ten most polluted zip codes in Michigan. In the article, residents cite air quality samples containing lead and high levels methyl ethyl ketone, large numbers of cancer and asthma cases, and foul smells with “sparkly” dust that must be removed with toilet cleaner.[2] Interviewed separately, residents of the area say the foul smells are strong enough to cause dry heaves.In 2011, the Zug Island area was identified by Canadian scientists and Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources as the source of mysterious rumblings and vibrations that have plagued hundreds of area residents with cyclical vibrations reportedly being felt in the ground up to fifty miles (eighty kilometres) away.[3][4]The city of River Rouge reported in the Star that it cannot afford to spend any more money on investigating the hum. They claim the City Council had already spent over $1 million to help Windsor and Ontario find the source of the noise. However, they say it likely comes from the Steel Mill facilities on the island.[5]

On some trips we would drive through Detroit to get to Canada via the Ambassador Bridge. Much of the drive from Grosse Ile to the Ambassador Bridge is one depressing sight after another of urban decay. After crossing the bridge, we travel through Windsor, Ontario and then south to Colchester where Uncle Phil has a vacation home.  Once you get out of Windsor, the landscape changes to something very different.  It almost looks Amish.  Lot’s of farming and very rural. Speaking of Amish, I shared a house with four Mennonite guys for a year back in the college days.  I think there are alot of similarities between the two groups. It was really different for me – maybe I’ll tell ya about it sometime.

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