Published on The Doomstead Diner on February 12, 2017
Discuss this article at the Geopolitics Table inside the Dier
Just going back a few years, the "BRICS" were all the rage as the next great Superpower conglomeration. BRICS stood for Brazil, Russia, India, China & South Africa.
3 of them Brazil, India and South Africa also fit in the category of "Emerging Markets", and EMs were where all the Hot Money was flowing for investment during the period, seeking high yields and return on investment.
What could be more perfect, right? Great resource availability and populations willing to work at low wages to supply industrial products to the world! Not to mention Russia & China as large military powers with the capability of making a good fight with the FSoA if challenged! Even if they don't have the aircraft carriers the FSoA has, they have Nuke ICBMs, and they have cruise missiles capable of sending any FSoA Carrier Group to the bottom of Davey Jones Locker. The Chinese field a 1 Million Man Standing Army. Lotta potential Boots on the Ground there!
So a lot of betting went down that this group of Nation-States was going to make a serious challenge to the European and Anglo-Amerikan hegemony over the industrial economy, not to mention the Bankstering system which runs it. Even to this day, you have some pundits like Pepe Escobar claiming the Chinese are going to build a "New Silk Road" that will bring the BRICS to ascendancy as the inheritors of the failed policies of the Western Europeans and Anglo-Amerikans.
Unfortunately, something went wrong along the way here, and precisely the opposite has occured or is occuring as I write this article. What fucked up in the BRICS master plan?
To begin with, it was a typical financialized bubble. Beyond that, you have countries here with Goobermints that are corrupt beyond belief, it's possible they are all more corrupt than the FSoA Goobermint, although of course that is hard to imagine. To top it all off, you have the issue that even if said countries have energy resources left like Brazil and Russia do, you have populations that cannot afford to buy those energy resources and retire the debts incurred by the extractors of the energy.
India already jumped off the cliff with the demonetization of the biggest Rupee notes by His Modiness, which sent the entire economy into a tailspin. Not to mention the fact it further impoverished already impoverished people, and as bad as their farmer suicide problem was before this, one has to figure it has been worse since. A VAST number of Indians have no bank account, or even Goobermint ID. For them, it's entirely a Cash Economy, and no Cash, no Economy.
This of course does not even touch on the Climate and Environment problems the Indians have, or their Energy problems or population overshoot problems. Then they have the constant battle with the Pakistanis, so overall the place is a complete fucking mess. They may even start exchanging Nukes with the Pakis, since they both got 'em
Moving down to South Africa, they probably have the worst problems with drought of any of the BRICS, although Brazil is not doing too well with this problem either. Besides that is the perpetual racial divide problem of South Africa and the fact that its entire economy is a mineral resource extraction economy, and globally nobody is paying much for resources, because the Konsumers of the resources are running out of money to buy them with. Well, except for the filthy rich who are still buying some Diamonds at Tiffany's, but unfortunately there aren't enough filthy rich to fund an entire economy this way. Tiffany's isn't doing too good either, they just fired their CEO.
Doing slightly better than these two locations are the Middle Kingdom of China and Mother Russia, but not by all that much plus Newz doesn't really escape well from either Nation-State, so you can't be entirely sure of WTF is going on there. In Mother Russia, one of Vlad the Impaler's political opponents recently went to the Great Beyond, apparently resultant from Poisoning. Another one, Alexander Navalny who was a Blogger so I like him 🙂 was convicted of some kind of felony so is no longer eligible to run against Vlad to run Mother Russia. He was probably the only opponent of Vlad who stood some chance of beating him, at least in popular voting. The Ruskies do have some cheap Oil left though, and their population is not too large given the land mass available there. On the other hand they have NATO troops massing on their borders, not a good sign.
Of all the BRICS, the Chinese have weathered the storm the best so far, but by no means does this presage a rosy future for them. In fact the Chinese are TOAST, and are in worse shape than everyone in the BRICS except perhaps the Indians. Reason of course is Population Overshoot, but by no means is that their only problem. They've blown a Credit Bubble that makes the one Da Fed blew up look like Child's Balloon next to the Hindenburg. Forget about not drinking the water, half of it is not even fit for human contact! You can't walk outside in Beijing without at least a surgical mask on, but really you need a full blown activated charcoal gas mask or better yet a SCUBA tank. This is not a recipe for a bright future for the Chinese.
However, of all the BRICS, the one in the WORST shape right now and is clearly exeriencing a FAST COLLAPSE is Brazil. Their economy is in complete collapse, corruption is systemic and now they are losing control of the social structure as well.
In the state of Espirito Santo which borders on the state of Rio de Janeiro which is home to the city of Rio, Corcovado (the big Christ statue on the mountain) and numerous Favelas (slums), the Military Police recently went on strike because…they weren't getting PAID! Big fucking surprise, who is going to work at anything if you don't get your paycheck at the end of the week?
Problem for these cops of course is that just like under Amerikan Law, Strikes of "publicly essential personnel" are ILLEGAL! So even if you're not getting paid, you're supposed to KEEP WORKING! Does this sound like SLAVERY to you? It does to me.
Since these cops are MILITARY cops, one suspects they can't even quit either until whenever their enlistment in the military runs out. Not that they would quit anyhow, because in all likelihood there are no other jobs for them to take in the neighborhood. So they got a bit creative here on this one, and instead of the cops themselves not showing up for work, their families went out and blockaded the stations, so the cops could not go out on patrol. Of course, they had the option of possibly Arresting their own families for "obstruction of justice", but who is going to go out and arrest their own wives, kids, fathers and mothers, or shoot them? Not gonna happen.
So in the wake of this absence of cops on the streets of Vitoria (the capital of Espirito Santo), the population at large took the opportunity to go an a rampage of looting, raping and killing. There is of course a large population of people living the criminal life in Brazil, because there are no opportunties for them in the "legitimate" world. They deal drugs, they steal, they kill people. It's like Chicago on Steroids and much larger. Its not like everyone is a criminal, but without a police presence, it's "Criminals Gone Wild".
So Da Goobernator of Espirito Santo asks for help from Da Federal Gobermint, and they promise to do "watever it takes" to restore order and send in the Military to replace the cops on the streets. Except how many do they send in? A Big 200 soldiers to police a city of 2M people! That is 1 for every 10,000. Even only 1% of those 10K are criminals, that is still a 100:1 ratio! However, in this situation it's probably more than 1%, since many normally law abiding type citizens will take the opportunity to go loot the local grocery or Iphone store.
Normally, they put out on the street 1800 cops, so to do the same job you would need around the same number of soldiers. So now you have to pay the soldiers instead of the cops, and Da Federal Goobermint of Brazil is in no better position to do that than the states are, they are BROKE also!
Even if they could field enough paid soldiers to go in there to restore order, Vitoria and Espirito Santo as a whole is a relatively small state in Brazil. What happens when the same thing occurs in Rio De Janeiro or Sao Paolo or Brasilia? Sao Paolo has something like 20M people now, that by itself is an order of magnitude larger than Vitoria. What is to stop this from spreading to Sao Paolo? They are broke too, and besides that running short on water and the money to run their sewage treatment plants, garbage collection etc. It's not just cops not getting their paychecks, just about all the public workers are seeing wages withheld because Da Goobermint doesn't have the money to pay them.
Unlike the FSoA (also broke), the Brazilleiros cannot just issue infinite debt and have it recognized as worth anything. They have gone through NUMEROUS periods of Hyperinflation, and they are trying to avoid that problem with "austerity", but austerity means people either are paid to little to live on or not paid at all. Jobs are cut, pensions are cut and you get a downhill spiral as people have no money to spend in the economy. They can't afford to buy enough food to feed their kids. At this point, they get desperate, and take desperate measures. That is what the cops in Espirito Santo are doing.
The problem here of course is that like many other resource based economies, the Brazilleiros are running short on resources people around the globe can afford to buy at the prices they cost to extract. There are some big oil fields in deep water off the coast of Brazil, but their own state company of Petrobras is broke, and oil majors like Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell are not going to put up debt money to drill these fields, because there is no profit in it. These companies are already bleeding red ink on properties they are drilling here in the FSoA, and beyond that there is an oil GLUT due to collapsing demand around the world. So the Brazilians will not be saved by the Oil underneath the ocean floor surrounding them.
It's only a matter of time before the chaos in Espirito Santo spreads to the rest of Brazil. How much time? Then from there it spreads to other SA countries dependent on resource exports, and the chaos grows. Then it makes it to Mexico, then it migrates across the border to the FSoA. How long will that take? Timeline, Timeline, Timeline. Like Location, Location, Location in the world of Real Estate, that's always the question, not what the final outcome is.
Published on 22 Billion Energy Slaves on September 17, 2015
Discuss this article at the Geopolitics Table inside the Diner
I was having a cup of tea with a friend in his polytunnel the other day and he was telling me about how hard it was to live a simple life minding his own business. He's about ten years younger than me, is married and has a kid on the way, and they live on a three acre plot of land which they bought with their own money and manage using permaculture. They work every day of the week, have practically no money and their ecological footprint is probably so small it might even not register, and yet they are suffering from endless harassment to get them evicted and complaints from nearby wealthy residents who feel that people shouldn't be allowed to live as they please. My friend had a simple explanation for all this, he said that as a nation and a culture, we are basically nasty and intolerant.
This got me thinking. Britain, after all, was the first industrialised nation. We had the enclosures acts from the 17th century onwards which kicked people off the land and turned it over to the pseudo industrial practice of sheep farming (the rearing of 'woolly maggots' as George Monbiot describes them). Wealth has been concentrated at the top for so long and the society has been stratified by class that imagining normal people living and working in the countryside is practically impossible for most.
Our culture is a dominator one. Due to a geological accident regarding coal, combined with a military nature and a lust for foreign goods, we ended up being the world's largest empire. When colonisers arrived in Australia and encountered Aboriginal people, instead of making friends with them they buried their children up to their necks in the sand and played a game where you had to kick off their heads with a single powerful kick. In India we caused mass famines and when people complained we machine-gunned them down. We did the same in plenty of other countries too. We divided up vast expanses of Africa, Asia and the Middle East and drew lines on maps which caused huge upheavals and sectarian violence. Nelson razed Copenhagen with naval bombardment, just for fun, and we devised the world's first concentration camps during the Boer War, and enthusiastically firebombed cities during the Second World War. And then, even when we stopped being an empire, we spawned Margaret Thatcher whose enthusiasm for the ideas of neoliberalism was enthusiastically passed onto Ronald Reagan and forced upon the world.
People don't like to talk about any of these aspects of Britishness. They prefer to talk about the engineering marvels we brought to India and how we taught the world to speak English. We brought football, cricket and tennis to the natives, and helped them become civilised. They might concede that there was the odd 'dark chapter' but that overall the empire building was all good and proper.
I was in London a couple of weeks ago and took the opportunity to visit the City (i.e. the financial district) to do a bit of background research for my online book Seat of Mars. Leaving Liverpool Street station one passes by a bronze statue of some refugee children. I looked at the inscription and it was a dedication to the selfless efforts of local people who took in 10,000 Jewish children from Germany prior to the Second World War. Valiant stuff, but this is the statue that many of the 35,000 City workers walk past every morning as they head for their high rises to unleash further financial mayhem on the world. How many millions of people has the City of London killed in the last few decades? It's a valid question, but don't hold your breath for an answer. Yet these City workers, for the most part, see themselves as good people. They run marathons to raise funds for cancer research, they donate money on Children in Need night, and they buy kittens for their kids. I have some friends who are City bankers and they are not evil people (though we don't have much to talk about these days). Hell, I was once almost a banker myself, luckily fluffing my interview at Citi.
So maybe it's just the system that is evil.
But then I see evil everywhere. I see the attack dogs set onto Jeremy Corby for daring to suggest scrapping nuclear weapons. I see evil in the pages of the Daily Mail and the Telegraph as they attempt to character assassinate anyone who wants to stop global warming, or as they incite violence against refugees. I see evil in the countryside where farmers and rich people collude to kill the wildlife in the most painful and inhumane ways possible. Fracking is evil. Bombing by drones is evil. Hosting arms fairs is evil.
Of course, if you say these things to people they will call you a traitor and a 'Brit hater'. They will point out that it's not their fault, all those wars of conquest, and that they have no need to feel guilty – even though our way of life is funded by one-sided trade deals, easy access to energy and a ponzi system of finance that allows us to continue to rack up astronomical levels of debt and consume huge bites of the world's resource pie. I'm not a Brit-hater – there are far too many positive aspects of life in these isles – but that doesn't mean I have to be an apologist for the less-than-wholesome aspects.
Perhaps my friend had a point.
Or perhaps not. Perhaps it is a case that those in the top positions are psychopaths, willing to do anything and everything to consolidate their power and enslave the masses using mind control techniques. I know plenty of people who are not evil. As a matter of fact, I don't think I know anyone who is evil. Most people, it seems to me, are good at heart. They want to help. They want to love one another. They want to stop the destruction of the world. These are the people it is best to hang around with – they're better for for soul and your sanity.
So why do we collectively put up with all this evilness? Is it because badness has a natural advantage over goodness? Do evil plans always work out in the 'real' world and good ones are just 'idealistic dreaming'? Does the devil have all the best tunes?
I have a theory. Could it be that it is because Britain is an island that was once fabled for its gold and tin mines? That it has been invaded again and again since the end of the last ice age, and that the settler populations always selected for the most war-like? For me, you could forgive the Anglo Saxons and the Romans, but it was the Normans that did it. With their Scandinavian blood, their aristocratic French ways and their lust for conquering – the country changed dramatically after 1066. One of the first things they did was catalogue all the people, land and assets in the Domesday Book. Invasion, murder and cataloguing – the start of the dominator culture. It's been almost 1,000 years and still the top landowners in this country can trace their lineages back to the Normans. Or maybe there is some kind of supernatural explanation …
So, no, I don't think we are evil. Just some of us. The ones with the power. And the ability to project that power has been multiplied a thousand-fold since we discovered that you could burn coal and use it to power engines. So will we see a future where access to limited high-concentration energy also leads to a corresponding drop in the ability of bad men (yes, it's mostly men) to do bad things? One can only hope so.
Who knows, maybe in 500 years time it will be possible to live on a small piece of land and raise a family without having the collective wrath of a millennium of dominator culture threatening to fall down and crush you just for wanting not to be a part of that system.
Originally published in Asia Times on March 20, 2015
Way beyond an Iran nuclear deal, and way beyond the end of a nasty economic siege that’s been in place for 35 years since the Islamic Revolution, the coming Western embrace means above all that Iran is now ready to crash the chessboard I call Pipelineistan.
By the mid-2000s, one of the top mantras of energy analysts in Iran and across Asia was what was known as the Asian Energy Security Grid. Translation: a pan-Asian integration via energy flows of the region’s oil and gas. Pipelineistan connected these relevant dots in the Eurasian chessboard.
Washington was always set on stopping Pipelineistan in its tracks. Case in point: the Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline, a Dr. Zbig “Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski brainchild that was built for almost $6 billion as an explicit geopolitical weapon to bypass Iran’s energy exports.
Another example is frantic efforts by both the Bush junior and Obama administrations to derail the former Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) pipeline, also known as “peace pipeline”, which may eventually be built and named IP – for Iran-Pakistan.
Now it’s a completely different story. Even U.S. Big Oil is salivating at the prospect of doing business with Iran on energy.
Beijing, for its part, already is. Iran is invariably among China’s top three energy sources. Not by accident, Chinese President Xi Jinping will soon visit Tehran; Foreign Minister Wang Yi has already promised “dramatic” announcements – and China’s Foreign Ministry is not exactly prone to hyperbole. For Beijing, the energy relationship with Tehran is no less than a matter of national security.
China also remains a top client of Saudi oil. But buying oil from the Persian Gulf and having it shipped via the vulnerable Strait of Malacca is not exactly Beijing’s idea of a bright future.
The vastly complex Chinese energy strategy, bent on diversification of sources, could be summarized as “escape from Malacca”. And now, with ISIS/ISIL/Daesh holding large – though mostly empty – parts of “Syraq”, the Middle East as a whole becomes even more of a problem.
Beijing is alarmed at the growing possibility of a demented Caliphate export contaminating large swathes of Xinjiang – the key Chinese node of the upcoming, overland New Silk Road.
The key branch of the overland New Silk Road – the other one will be via the Trans-Siberian – links China via Xinjiang to Central Asia, Iran and Turkey.
So Beijing needs to maintain excellent relations with both Iran and Turkey. At the same time, it must avoid antagonizing the House of Saud. In energy terms, the ideal solution would be massive investment in gas pipelines originating from Iran and linked to Turkmenistan, which is already linked to Western China via pipelines built by the Chinese.
Even during the Ahmadinejad years – via a “Look East” policy – Iran was already going into overdrive to make Pipelineistan a reality. This involved courting China, India and Pakistan, by keeping steady relations with Turkey.
The anticipated Asian Energy Security Grid, in many aspects, is already a go. Yet the big prize is, of course, the EU. There is talk about forming a Eurasia Security Grid.
For years, I’ve heard the same mantra in Brussels: If only we could buy loads of oil and gas from Iran to escape the grip of Russia’s Gazprom – but the Americans won’t let us.
The time is now. Euro Big Energy is dying to hit the road to do business with Tehran. The figure from eight years ago, given to me by an Iranian energy analyst, hasn’t changed much. Iran needs roughly $200 billion to upgrade its energy industry and start re-exporting oil en masse.
So it’s no wonder Tehran’s already holding close talks with Switzerland and the EU to work out the initial details of selling more gas to Europe. Hiking oil exports – from currently 1.1 million barrels a day to roughly 2 million – may also be feasible. But to go beyond that would take years and a veritable tsunami of investment.
At the same time, the major European players are willing and able to make a geopolitical shift when it comes to oil and gas. All (energy) roads now lead to Tehran.
Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).
First published at The Daily Impact December 5, 2014
Hopium addicts and a few novelists nurture the convenient belief that while the 1.4 billion people of China and the 1.2 billion people of India struggle lustfully to live as luxuriously as do the 300 million people of the United States, they will manage to do so in a manner somehow less wasteful of energy and natural resources, less destructive of the living web of life, than we have done. The belief is convenient because, while there is not a whisker of evidence to suggest it is true, holding it permits the believer to carry on with business as usual.
Much has been made of the “historic” agreement reached between China and the United States at the recent APEC meeting in Beijing, stipulating that in the next 10 years or so, both countries are going to do something or other about carbon emissions (i.e. pollution), so help them. Yet the Chinese did not begin to attack the air pollution in Beijing, which may be the worst in the world, until the eve of the meeting; then and only then did it become a national priority, not because it was bad but because it looked bad.
They ordered factories upwind of the capital shut down, closed businesses and schools in the city and banned half the region’s cars from driving, all to look good, knowing that as soon as the meeting was over, so were the restrictions. It did not work very well, of course, the world is not a machine that responds immediately to the pulling of a few levers. And one of the reasons it did not work was that, as an investigating committee discovered on venturing into the region where the factories had been ordered to close, they did not. Screw Beijing, there were targets to meet, bonuses to be made, orders to fill. So much for how much better they are going to be at regulating pollution.
China still pretends that it is cracking down on pollution, even while building dirty, coal-burning electric plants as fast as it can — it opens a new one every seven to 10 days and as of two years ago had 363 projects under way. It already burns six times as much coal as does the United States, is the world’s largest importer of coal, and coal is the source of the majority of its air pollution.
India, on the other hand, is in the process of dropping all pretenses that it is combatting pollution. Within days of the election last summer of the new pro-business, pro-growth prime minister Narendra Modi (who was almost immediately received and extolled in a state visit to Washington), India’s industrialists got the word: environmental rules were about to be relaxed and in the meantime, feel free to ignore them.
Since then a government commission has recommended that government inspections of the performance of factories in controlling pollution be replaced with a system of voluntary compliance in which everyone promises to obey the rules and report themselves if they don’t. Approval of new projects, no matter how destructive, has become not only virtually automatic, but has been accelerated to warp speed: a recent meeting of the National Board for Wildlife smiled upon 150 wildlife-threatening applications in two days, spending up to 30 minutes on each.
Neither China nor India has any intention of improving upon the path to prosperity that we have shown them. As we seem to believe that God has favored us, so they seem to believe that Krishna and Mao have bestowed upon them the right to burn and degrade and destroy anything that can contribute to their temporary well being.
The problem is that there is not that much left to burn. Hoping that the world’s two largest and poorest populations are going to be more restrained in their instant gratification. more successful in reining in greed, than we have been, well, that is hopium indeed.
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.
First published at The Daily Impact June 18, 2014
This is a shape of things to come: intolerable heat persisting for unprecedented lengths of time; failure of the electric grid when it’s needed most; hundreds of deaths from the searing heat; unreasoning violence spreading across the county like fire. India had it all last week, and the relief brought by the (late) onset of monsoon rains may be scant and temporary. This is the specter of climate change made real, made explicit, in the present tense. And still the world acts as if it’s the other guy’s end of the boat that’s burning, no worries here.
In Delhi last week the temperature reached at least 113 degrees Fahrenheit for six days in succession. On June 11th the high there was 118. The heat caused demand for electricity that exceeded 11,000 megawatts on a system whose top capacity is 8,000 megawatts. Rolling blackouts, imposed to try to save the grid, along with blackouts caused by equipment failures, shut down air conditioners, fans and water pumps just when they were most needed. In cities such as Delhi, the heat turned the air toxic. Levels of ground-level ozone, a product of the sun’s heat acting on auto emissions, more than doubled.
Desperate people began to sleep outside, even on cots in city streets, to escape their stifling homes. But as the heat wave became the longest on record, with temperatures rising faster during the day and staying higher through the night, desperation turned to anger (with a little help from the opposition party that just lost an election to a new prime minister who promised to provide reliable electricity. He’s been in office for three weeks). Rioters began to clash with police, burn power substations, trash electric-utility-company offices and take power workers hostage.
It was hard to follow the rioters’ logic, but impossible to mistake their desperation.
Relief began to arrive this week in the form of a late and probably weak monsoon — rains that are moving across the entire country and should persist until September. Meteorologists are worried that in this El Nino year, the rains may be well below normal, and say there is a one in three chance of drought. In addition to affecting the food supply, that would be another blow to the country’s power supply, nearly half of which is hydropower.
Meanwhile India has been accelerating its coal imports to try to keep up with demand, which has been increased as a result of burning coal.
India is showing us what is going to happen. Is anybody taking notes?
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.
Off the keyboard of Jason Heppenstall
Published on 22 Billion Energy Slaves on October 30, 2013
Discuss this article at the Geopolitics Table inside the Diner
In the year 2000 I spent several months in India. I love India and it was my third visit to the subcontinent. Anyone who has spent time there either ends up loving it or hating it – the sheer in-your-facedness of the whole place, combined with the manic religious devotion that forms a part of everyday life force you to face up to who you believe yourself to be. Yes, India is life with the volume turned up to number 11.
I saw a lot of unsettling things in India. I saw a young woman being burned on a funeral pyre, and afterwards the dogs snuffling through the ashes and running off with morsels of meat. I met sadhus – holy men – who had forsaken the material life and devoted themselves to asceticism, I saw the bullet holes in buildings where British colonial soldiers had massacred Sikhs, and I went to a school high up in the Himalayas where the Dalai Lama was the acting headmaster. And I also met a thousand hucksters and conmen whose ingenious trickery knew no bounds.
I have a fantasy of one day going back to India and living there for good – if it survives the onslaught of pollution, nuclear madness and dam building. Perhaps this will be when I ‘retire’ (ha ha!). As far as I’m concerned, there is no place of Earth like India for sheer oppositeness to our western culture, although Sri Lanka and Nepal come a close joint second. I’d live in an adobe shack in a fishing community in the deep south. My small sailing boat would be moored nearby and I’d use it to ‘commute’ between the ancient world (India) and the old world (Europe) to collect my state pension cheque, which would be enough to survive off for another year (in India).
Beat that for a retirement plan – it’s not exactly golf and cruises.
Anyway, for all the talk of India becoming an advanced industrial nation like the US or European countries I say: no way. That will never be. The limiting factors that describe the scale of the problems she faces are just too constrictive. It’s not just economics that is not on their side (and far too often these days debates are just about economics and nothing else – don’t people have any other idea of how to look at the world?) there are so many other factors to consider. This is what I wrote in my travel diary when I was there 13 years ago. I haven’t been back since, but other than in tech-happy enclaves such as Hyderabad, I can’t imagine it has changed all that much.
People say that you can not merely ‘see’ India but are forced to experience it to a greater or lesser extent. This sore fact is now quite apparent to us and I hope to be able to give some impression of the confusing emotions that have been aroused.
The primary and most obvious facet of Indian life that is unavoidably obvious even to the most casual visitor is the level of abject poverty. Any romantic notions of the existence of some sort of genteel poverty are soon dismissed when one sees the desperate plight that many people face in this country. Beggars are commonplace even in so-called prosperous towns and much of the begging is done by ragged children and leprous adults. The pitiful sight of the man dressed in rags sat in the dust holding out an outstretched fingerless hand or the barely-alive young woman lying in the middle of the road whilst her child sits sullen-eyed beside her and monstrous Tata trucks thunder past only inches away are not uncommon sights. It is impossible to walk in the streets without attracting the attention of the more mobile beggars, mostly children, who will hold out their hands or else crowd around you and tug on your clothing. This kind of scene prevents a moral dilemma for the westerner who, by comparison with these people, is rich beyond imagination.
Even the most penny-pinching backpacker who eats only bread and uses the most dilapidated and cheap transport, though he may not readily admit it, has a kind of wealth beyond the dreams of these dusty figures for he can afford the elite luxury of foreign travel and does not have to devote every ounce of his energy to earning enough rupees just to keep himself alive. Assuming that the potential donor acknowledges this fact the dilemma that is presented is multi-faceted. Firstly, even if one were to choose to do so, one cannot give change to every beggar. On the streets of Old Delhi, for example, one would be forced to hand out money every few seconds. Secondly, the act of giving to beggars, conventional logic tells us, perpetuates the problem further. Although this argument is most commonly used by people who feel the need to justify their meanness in the face of overwhelming poverty there must be some truth in it.
Although it would be very difficult to gather ‘proof’ of such a theory (you simply can’t go about asking beggars what made them decide to ‘go into begging’) it was clearly apparent in the hills of Nepal where children now routinely skip school to demand sweets and pens from passing trekkers, enough of whom oblige to keep the scourge alive. Thirdly, stories abound of adults mutilating their children (or the children of others) in order to arouse the sympathy of others and thus increase the takings. Whether these stories are true or not it is difficult to say but the image of the young boy sitting in the gutter minus a foot is far more likely to get people to dig into their pockets than the same boy with both feet attached. Whatever moral dilemmas westerners tangle themselves up in when it comes to giving their ‘hard earned’ money to beggars the fact remains that, by ignoring the problem and not giving them anything, they will not simply move into some other ‘profession’ or fall back on some non-existent charitable fund or government scheme. Most of them, one imagines, would simply die quietly to be replaced by others.
Another immediately obvious problem faced by India is the ruination of the natural environment. At times it can seem that entire towns and their outlying vicinities can be several inches deep in biodegradable and non-biodegradable rubbish. As is occurring elsewhere, the rush to become a consumer society has made no allowance for the correct disposal of the trash that it generates. In times past, one imagines, this problem would not have existed as all waste would be composed of such material as banana skins, crushed sugar cane, wood carvings and vegetable waste. This would be routinely tossed out into the streets where the famous holy cows would devour the majority of it (surely the real reason these beasts are allowed to roam freely). Whatever was left would be swept up by the untouchables, put into carts and dumped into the nearest river, pond or creek. This practice doesn’t seem to have changed much and travelling through Uttar Pradesh and the Punjab, I don’t recall seeing a single pond that wasn’t stagnating with plastic trash or a single stream that wasn’t oozing pollutants with more and more cartloads of waste being taken to their banks and tipped in. These squalid scenes are normally populated by scavenging dogs of such obvious ill health that it seems a wonder that they are alive at all. Neither does it help that any open space, whether in town or country, is used as an open toilet which , in some instances, creates a slick of evil-smelling slurry.
In addition to the despoilment of the land and the water there is the serious problem of air pollution. In Delhi, for example, the air around the old part of the city was so polluted a single trip through it in a rickshaw during the evening rush-hour had us coughing and blowing black soot out of our noses until the next day. Motor vehicles, of which there are many, are in the main not fitted with the slightest modification to prevent thick black plumes of smoke issuing forth from their exhaust pipes. As if pollution from vehicles were not enough there is a similar lack of control over the emissions of factories and power stations which can be seen belching thick smoke into the skies. Added to this is the habit of setting fire to piles of plastic and cardboard waste in the streets as a way of ‘getting rid’ of it. In fact, it is said that living in Delhi subjects one’s health to the equivalent of twenty cigarettes per day. The rickshaw wallahs are the most likely casualties of this pollution as they are normally of the lowest caste and social status and therefore least likely to benefit from any healthcare system. It is they who have to sweat through the polluted air, day in day out, breathing the poison deep into their lungs.
Many of India’s problems arise from the sheer number of people who live here. A billion people now live in this country and this number is rising at an alarming rate [about 200 million more now live there since I wrote those words 13 years ago]. A night-time satellite view of northern India shows a relative paucity of light pollution when compared with many other countries. The Netherlands and Japan, by way of example, are so built-up and industrialised that it is as though their entire countries are floodlit. Northern India, despite a population density that rates as almost the highest in the world, is dark by comparison. The reason for this, of course, is the relative unavailability of electricity to such an over-stretched region. In fact demand can be so great and the supply so temperamental that power outages are commonplace and industry is forced to shut down regularly as a result. Any business that needs to present itself as reliable and modern in these difficult circumstances is required to install some sort of backup power generation, usually in the form of a noisy diesel generator and a heap of car batteries. When the power comes back on these same batteries must recharge their cells which then create another excess demand for electricity which will in turn cause the whole system to become unstable and so on and so forth.
So far the picture I have painted of modern India is a bleak one. But for every man-made disaster that India faces there must surely be a man-made solution. Unfortunately though, for the common Indian, there seems to be little prospect of hope from the politicians. The incumbent ruling party, the Hindu nationalist BJP looks to be keener on spending resources fighting Pakistan over Kashmir and developing nuclear weapons than implementing far-reaching policies of poverty alleviation and education. What efforts they do serve up in the name social advancement appear to be white elephants, normally in the form of giant dams, which many claim merely serve self-edifying politicians and consolidate the power of water distribution into the hands of a few. The huge Narmada Valley dam project that is currently being constructed in Gujarat will irrigate a large region and provide a source of power at the cost of the displacement of a million marginalised Indians who do not posses a strong enough voice to block the decision to build it. It will also be costly in terms of the amount of land it will inundate. Gerald Durell, the late English naturalist and captive breeder, once challenged the Indian government over the decision to flood a large area of land for economic gain even though the area was considered to be of great importance for wildlife. The minister in charge of the project rounded on him saying ‘ we in India can not afford such ecological luxuries’. Indeed it was Nehru who, in the 1950s, delivered a speech saying that ‘dams are the new temples of modern India’. Today, despite widespread condemnation from within and abroad, there appears to be no letup in the persual of this received wisdom.
[The Booker Prize winning novelist Arundhati Roy (author of ‘The God of Small Things’) has written a nice polemical pamphlet on the social and environmental cost of the Narmada Dam Project entitled ‘The Greater Common Good’ for those interested]
In any picture of modern India it is impossible to leave out religion and the caste system of discrimination. The beliefs of Indians holds a huge sway over the population and their daily decisions which certainly can not be ignored. The government, whilst claiming to be modernist and therefore religiously neutral are clearly, as Hindu nationalists, not going to go to great lengths to improve the lives of Muslims, Sikhs, Jains or tribals. I am not able to relate to a starving beggar refusing food from me because, me being a non-Hindu, I would have spiritually polluted it. And the concept of holy animals (cows, monkeys, elephants) on the basis of some mythical association with the Hindu pantheon seems anomalous whilst at the same time the streets are full of starved-looking and badly-whipped horses and donkeys (who, when they die from exhaustion or are hit by a vehicle, are tossed into the nearest ditch to be torn apart by dogs and vultures) and the rivers are polluted to the extent that all life is eradicated. One thing is clear however and that is as personal wealth grows there is a diminishing of religious belief. The Indian television adverts almost universally feature light-skinned wealthy Brahmin types (I’ve yet to see a dark-skinned Indian advertising a Business Class plane seat) who live in Beverley Hills type surroundings and drive sports cars and wear expensive suits. These modern role models for the Indian elite and nouveau riche show no outward signs of religious belief other than in some cynical consumerist way (‘Bring a new surround sound Philips flat screen home entertainment system this Diwali’). Basically speaking then, religion, the consoler, is for the suffering masses who have little control over their lives. Religion, after all, doesn’t cost anything, financially speaking.
It seems that for India the solution to the great problems of today can not be expected to come from politicians or Big Business. India is a vast nation of a few big cities and thousands of villages and small-scale schemes seem to often be the most effective. Soon, the Indian Post Office will be training their postmen in the science and philosophy of effective contraception. In Indian society the postman does not just deliver the mail but quite often reads it out to illiterates and his advice may be sought on matters pertaining to it. He is therefore a trusted ally of the people and will be a useful weapon in the war against rampant population growth. One also reads of micro credit schemes where ordinary people are able to lift themselves out of abject poverty by receiving a small loan to start up some small-scale activity, such as making baskets, that they are able to do.
India, most marketing people seem to agree, is an overwhelming of the senses. The potential holidaymaker might be expected to imagine walking through a teeming bazaar full of smiling women in brightly-coloured sarees selling technicolor mounds of tikka powder in silver dishes whilst the whiff of sandalwood and incence drifts up into the clear evening sky as the giant orange ball of the sun sets over the Arab dhows on the Indian Ocean. The reality is a little less prosaic. India is certainly a land of smells, not all of them pleasant, and anyhow the ‘magical pink light at dawn in Varanasi’ is only a result of the industrial pollutants hanging over the Ganges. The coffee table book that contains glossy pictures of a colourful and spiritual India tells only half the story. Tales abound of people planning trips of several months or years in India only to find themselves travelling on the first plane back home after two illusion-shattering days in Delhi. India, for sure, demands a lot more of her visitors than most countries but, in turn, offers a lot more food for thought.
Off the keyboard of Jim Quinn
Published on The Burning Platform on September 10, 2013
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.
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.
Off the Keyboard of Steve from Virginia
Discuss this article at the Epicurean Delights Smorgasbord inside the Diner
Nicole Foss — Stoneleigh — recently published an article about the recent electric blackout in India where hundreds of millions lost power. The article is very comprehensive and well worth the time to read it. As informative as the article are some of the photographs;
A slum is a favela is a shanty-town. Here is a typical slum in India/anywhere in the world (unknown photographer). The canal in the foreground is both sewer and source of drinking/washing water. Life in this slum is brutish, nasty and short. How can it be otherwise?
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.
Anywhere from 800 million to 2 billion of the world’s citizens live in shanty-towns, many within/surrounding sprawling modern mega-cities. A few older slums are stable, their inhabitants are transforming these places into functional urban neighborhoods with land title, utility services and permanent structures. Most slums are temporary pop-up collections of plastic trash and worn packaging materials, that only last until the landowner, flood or other disaster wipes them away.
Creating neighborhoods is something humans have done for thousands of years, are generally good at it. Third-world slums are city building on a human scale: they are non-automobile habitats. In this sense they represent both humanity’s past and future.
Slums appear where there are people desperate for housing, where a piece of land can be occupied at little- or no cost. Often these are industrial spoil dumps or city garbage pits, border-area refugee camps, abandoned- or contested development sites. Some slums are a single building or collection of older, obsolete structures.
Ad-hoc landlords divide the space into shack-sized lots or ‘rooms’ that are rented for pennies per day to the poorest of the poor. Because slums are ‘unofficial’ there are generally no services other than the odd street light and perhaps a water tap. One tap may be the only source of clean water for five thousand- or more people. Many slums have no clean water supply at all and require trips by residents to distant wells or periodic visits by (expensive) water trucks. There are scarce- or no toilets or sewers, few rules, no police or government authority, no medical care. There are improvised micro-economies of interrelated small businesses many of which are tinkers’ trades. Like the slum itself, its economy is both anti- and postmodern. Interface with ‘regular’ finance and industry takes place at the margins of the slum.
Because slums are not automobile habitats they can be confused by some with traditional city developments that emerged before the auto-industrial period. The ‘traditional city’ has high density human dwellings and small businesses with all areas accessible on foot. This kind of development are also refined: inhabitants are prosperous, there are excellent services available.
Mallorca street (Nathan Lewis) This is an economically segregated area but cannot be considered a slum. It shares many of the physical characteristics of one: narrow streets, buildings up against the street, the absence of a central ‘plan’ or developer. Narrow streets allow more living space in a given area. At one time this village might have have been a slum, if this is so these beginnings were left behind once original shacks were replaced with permanent structures and the owners given property rights.
Stewart Brand believes slums have something to offer: they are ‘efficient’:
How Slums Can Save The Planet
In 1983, architect Peter Calthorpe gave up on San Francisco, where he had tried and failed to organise neighbourhood communities, and moved to a houseboat in Sausalito, a town on the San Francisco Bay. He ended up on South 40 Dock, where I also live, part of a community of 400 houseboats and a place with the densest housing in California. Without trying, it was an intense, proud community, in which no one locked their doors. Calthorpe looked for the element of design magic that made it work, and concluded it was the dock itself and the density. Everyone who lived in the houseboats on South 40 Dock passed each other on foot daily, trundling to and from the parking lot on shore. All the residents knew each other’s faces and voices and cats. It was a community, Calthorpe decided, because it was walkable.
Building on that insight, Calthorpe became one of the founders of the new urbanism, along with Andrés Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk and others. In 1985 he introduced the concept of walkability in “Redefining Cities,” an article in the Whole Earth Review, an American counterculture magazine that focused on technology, community building and the environment. Since then, new urbanism has become the dominant force in city planning, promoting high density, mixed use, walkability, mass transit, eclectic design and regionalism. It drew one of its main ideas from the houseboat community.
How precious: Calthorpe “introduced the concept of walkability in “Redefining Cities.” What did people do before marketing? People have been walking in cities for as long as cities have existed. People live in slums because they cannot afford to live elsewhere, not because they are walkable. Persons with sufficient incomes exit their slums without hesitation. There is no upside to living in squalor, no matter how much the concept is ‘redefined’.
Every year millions are swept out of the countryside by agricultural colonialism and expansion of industrial agriculture. There are insufficient opportunities in rural communities to employ displaced agricultural workers. A lure of the cities is industrial jobs in- and outside of urban sweatshops: labor migrates toward income as it has since the dawn of mankind, it also goes where it must.
There are plenty more ideas to be discovered in the squatter cities of the developing world, the conurbations made up of people who do not legally occupy the land they live on—more commonly known as slums. One billion people live in these cities and, according to the UN, this number will double in the next 25 years. There are thousands of them and their mainly young populations test out new ideas unfettered by law or tradition. Alleyways in squatter cities, for example, are a dense interplay of retail and services—one-chair barbershops and three-seat bars interspersed with the clothes racks and fruit tables. One proposal is to use these as a model for shopping areas. “Allow the informal sector to take over downtown areas after 6pm,” suggests Jaime Lerner, the former mayor of Curitiba, Brazil. “That will inject life into the city.”
The informal sector in slums is drug dealing, robbery and kidnapping, punctuated with battles fought with automatic weapons between gangsters and the police.
The reversal of opinion about fast-growing cities (slums), previously considered bad news, began with The Challenge of Slums, a 2003 UN-Habitat report. The book’s optimism derived from its groundbreaking fieldwork: 37 case studies in slums worldwide. Instead of just compiling numbers and filtering them through theory, researchers hung out in the slums and talked to people. They came back with an unexpected observation: “Cities are so much more successful in promoting new forms of income generation, and it is so much cheaper to provide services in urban areas, that some experts have actually suggested that the only realistic poverty reduction strategy is to get as many people as possible to move to the city.”
The magic of squatter cities is that they are improved steadily and gradually by their residents. To a planner’s eye, these cities look chaotic. I trained as a biologist and to my eye, they look organic. Squatter cities are also unexpectedly green. They have maximum density—1m people per square mile in some areas of Mumbai—and have minimum energy and material use. People get around by foot, bicycle, rickshaw, or the universal shared taxi.
Not everything is efficient in the slums, though. In the Brazilian favelas where electricity is stolen and therefore free, people leave their lights on all day. But in most slums recycling is literally a way of life. The Dharavi slum in Mumbai has 400 recycling units and 30,000 ragpickers. Six thousand tons of rubbish are sorted every day. In 2007, the Economist reported that in Vietnam and Mozambique, “Waves of gleaners sift the sweepings of Hanoi’s streets, just as Mozambiquan children pick over the rubbish of Maputo’s main tip. Every city in Asia and Latin America has an industry based on gathering up old cardboard boxes.”
Slums carry with them the constant risk of displacement, generally slum dwellers have no property rights. It is difficult for those with small means to divert some of them toward improving places they have little or no interest in.
Life in the slums is anchored in modernity, consumer demand is taken wherever it can be found:
Life In The World’s Slums
In Bangkok’s slums, most homes have a colour television—the average number is 1.6 per household. Almost all have fridges, and two-thirds have a CD player, washing machine and a mobile phone. Half of them have a home telephone, video player and motorcycle. (From research for UN report The Challenge of Slums.)
Residents of Rio’s favelas are more likely to have computers and microwaves than the city’s middle classes (Janice Perlman, author of The Myth of Marginality.)
In the slums of Medellín, Colombia, people raise pigs on the third-floor roofs and grow vegetables in used bleach bottles hung from windowsills. (Ethan Zuckerman, Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School.)
The 4bn people at the base of the economic pyramid—all those with [annual] incomes below $3,000 in local purchasing power—live in relative poverty. Their incomes… are less than $3.35 a day in Brazil, $2.11 in China, $1.89 in Ghana, and $1.56 in India. Yet they have substantial purchasing power… [and] constitute a $5 trillion global consumer market.
Population growth gallops ahead of the ability of development to deliver anything more than cheap, energy gobbling consumer goods. These give the illusion of ‘progress’ while inflation suggests that the poor are earning more money when in real terms they aren’t.
It’s hard to compare life in a medieval European village or a yacht harbor in the San Francisco Bay area with living in a shanty town in Bangkok, Mumbai or elsewhere in this world:
I unintentionally found myself living (flat broke at 34 years old) in a slum off Jalan Wahid Hasyim in downtown Jakarta in ’94 for two months. It was the most disgusting, scary, dark, bleak, psycho, messed up two months a person could have. I’m talking about swarms of dengue-infected mosquitoes from dusk till dawn, cockroaches slapping off the walls like flying moccasins nightly, bloated ticks on the walls, intense heat and 100% humidity always, an auto body shop that started banging hammers on car panels at 6am 7 days a week, a mosque on each side of our house, complete with blown-out speakers calling locals to prayer 5 times daily, a disco behind us thumping on till 7am every morning, rats, dogs, cats all of them wild, mangy, diseased, flea-and-tick-bitten, puking and hunger-crazed, regular power failures, single-mom hookers lurking, screaming, pot banging food vendors day and night, storm-triggered floods of black, stinking filth, the toxic stench of burning plastic and vegetation always. And that was just down the alley I lived on.
Walk out into the streets and it was thousands on thousands of cars, trucks, motorbikes, buses and two-stroke Indian-made Bajai taxis all jammed up, barely moving, all churning out black and blue smoke. Fold in rotting, burning garbage piled randomly with no hope of ever being collected, missing sidewalk covers over canals filled with what looked like black snot and choked with a billion plastic bags, coconuts, palm fronds, trees and Christ knows what else, plus disfigured, heartbreakingly filthy beggars here and there, the sick and aged homeless selling their trifles to make ends meet, corruption from the parking mafia on up to the president… and this wasn’t the city’s worst slum. Though I went there too and saw people bathing babies and brushing teeth in rivers you wouldn’t dare throw a lit match into.
Sorry, Mr. Brand. This is the most insane, out-of-touch pile of white-guilt-assuaging crap I’ve come across in decades. You have no idea what you are talking about, sir. Stay aboard your yacht in Marin where you’ll be safe in your delusions. I’ve also spent time on a yacht in your marina, and can tell you that that life couldn’t be any further removed from the reality of slum living, unless you moved it to the moon.
People in the slums hate their lives (no matter how much they may smile at you as you pass by in your Indiana Jones hat and cargo pants full of candies for their kids), and for thousands of sound reasons. There is nothing happy or applicable to be pulled out of slums other than the knowledge that they are cesspools of tragedy, misguided dreams, unimaginable filth and evil.
In slums there are no regular sources of power. Instead, there are jury-rig connections to the grid from street lighting cables along with small generators. The generators are dependent upon a steady supply of diesel fuel or gasoline, the connections rely on periodic blackouts:
A rigger makes a new connection to a street light circuit (unknown photographer): jury-rigged connections are found in every slum around the world. Making unofficial connections is a dance with fiery death unless the power is off during a blackout. There is little information about how many are killed making unsanctioned connections to energized circuits. In most poor nations there are periodic blackouts during which time do-it-yourselfers and hired riggers climb poles and attach lines.
A rigger connects a house to live wires in the Rocinha slum in Rio. (Fred Alves, Washington Post)
Unknown photographer: the wires bring lighting, refrigerators and air conditioners: at the end of every single wire there is a television set. The desire is for all to buy and buy: the fantastic world will be the slum-dwellers’ tomorrow as long as they endure the unendurable today …
Support for the business lords’ agenda springs from the underclass’ misery and human desire for ‘improvement’. The television puts form to the multitudes’ fantasies …
Photo by Kevin Frayer (AP): a man walks past temporary high-tension power supply cables in New Delhi. It is unfair to characterize the entire country of India as a gigantic slum but the photograph is indicative. The drainage canal is both sewer and water supply for those in the surrounding neighborhood. Note the garbage dump to the left sloping into the canal. The infrastructure of India and in similarly situated parts of the world cannot support the growing human mass that depends upon it.
The lack of clean water for drinking and cleaning as well as proper waste sanitation are gigantic health problems. Large slums housing thousands often have latrines that are nothing more than open pits with boards over them. New pits are dug when the originals are filled. When the rains come the pits overflow with human waste which floods into the housing.
Slums are considered to be green due to density however the hundreds of millions who live in them are without waste-water treatment. This pollution ultimately winds up in the ocean, beaches in Rio have been closed by sewage floods from the city’s notorious favelas. Along with sewage is millions of tons of indestructible plastic waste.
The concept of slum is expandable, some forms are purposefully created and are not to be confused with anything else.
Unknown photographer: the dystopian nightmare without end, humans as lobotomized rats running in a sewer … a canal sluicing with a torrent of mechanized waste, every occupant a slave to auto manufacturers and the petroleum industry.
Jericho Turnpike in Long Island, NY (Scouting New York)
Sleepwalking Into the Future
James Howard Kunstler
Years from now, the denizens of Long Island may shake their heads in wonder and nausea as they attempt to repair the mighty mess that was made here during the 20th century. My term for this mess is the national automobile slum. I think it’s more precise than the usual generic term suburban sprawl. A slum, after all, is clearly understood to be a place that offers a very low quality of life. And the mess is everywhere. Every corner of our nation is now afflicted. The on-ramps of Hempstead aren’t any more spiritually rewarding than the ones in Beverly Hills. We’ve become a United Parking Lot of America.
We have utterly relinquished the everyday world of our nation to the automobile. I don’t think it is possible to overstate the damage that this has done to us collectively as a civilization and as individual souls. The national automobile slum is a place where the past has been obliterated and the future has been foreclosed. Since past represents our memories and the future our hope, life in a car slum is life with no memory and no hope. How many of us can gaze out over a typical highway strip like the Jericho Turnpike and imagine a hopeful future for it or for the people who will have to live with it?
Slums are variation on the theme of dehumanization. Humans are reduced to being cogs in gigantic machines or waste products. Individuals in the waste category sometimes lift themselves up by becoming drug kingpins, informal ‘mayors’, celebrities or shills for Ponzi schemes. The rest are trapped, the slums swallow them.
What is underway is the slum-ification of the entire world. The great machines cannot provide middle-class lives to all because the necessary materials are absent. If the slum-dweller cannot regularize the status of his ‘house lot’ if he cannot afford the materials to craft a permanent structure that does not leak whenever it rains, there are no others who will gain these things for him.
An abandoned, unfinished skyscraper in downtown Beijing (Glen Downs): where did all that money go? The industrial ‘solution’ is always more development but this shifts costs around, it doesn’t eliminate them. Every slum that is developed out of existence in China pops up in Africa or South America. With more humans there are more slums, eventually the new developments become slums as well.
When the fossil fuel becomes unobtainable the great auto slums of America and its wannabes will become the real things or places of ruin and abandonment.
Consider all of our precious infrastructure without the means to keep it maintained. Here are your shining cities on the hill: the slums beckon, the default future for what remains of the human race in a world that is stripped of all accessible resources.
Off the Keyboard of RE
Another “Official” thread to join the Earthquake, Flood, Tornado and Hurricane threads here in the Diner. Main difference, this thread isn’t in “Natural” disasters under Geological and Cosmological Events, its in the Man-Made category under Energy problemos. OK, I know a few of you think HAARP is causing the Weather problems and a few more than that think the Climate change is Anthropogenic, but Blackouts aren’t open to dispute or conspiracy theorizing. They ARE a man made problem.
Anyhow, to lead off this thread, Newz of the Day is that India had a major Blackout Monday Morning during the Rush Hour Commute, knocking out power to more than 300M people. That’s right, power to approximately a population size equal to that of the ENTIRE FSofA!
According to the story, power was being restored after the grid collapse, but meanwhile for a few hours SEWAGE TREATMENT PLANTS went offline also. Once the power goes out for more than a few hours, how long do you think it takes for Cholera to spread through Delhi and Calcutta?
Also according to said story, India is chronically short of electric power with 100sM people still not connected to the grid, and has an aging transmission network in need of upgrade, AND needs to build some NUKES!
Who is gonna front up money for India to upgrade here to Electric v2.0? The guys who did the IPO on Electric v1.0 left with the credit and they ain’t coming back here.
Some speculation on stuff not included in this story. What caused the grid to crash? It is unlikely there was a major surge in demand that overwhelmed the transformers, so likely it came from the supply end. All it really takes is for a couple of decent size power plants to go off line and the rest of them become overloaded unless you can adjust quickly by rolling around Brownouts to the customers. I’ll bet a coupleof plants are just FRESH OUT of Coal to burn here and the municipalities running them are FRESH OUT of MONEY to buy more.
So the Indians are getting the grid up again here, but one has to suspect probably 10% of the customers won’t get their lights back on here anytime too soon if EVER. In order to make sure the Delhi trains keep moving and Calcutta Sewage Plants keep processing the shit, somebodies out on the periphery will have to go back to Candle Power.
How long before Delhi and Calcutta go Lights Out for GOOD? Over/Under on this, 5 years MAX IMHO. When they do, call in the Zombie Squad, that’s 30M people easy who also go Offline.
Probably a bit longer before it’s Lights Out permanently on this side of the pond. Make no mistake though, this Show IS Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You.
Continue reading the main story Related Stories Indian workers protest power cuts Watch Indian students who study on railway platforms
A massive power cut has caused disruption across northern India, including in the capital, Delhi.
It hit a vast swathe of the country affecting more than 300 million people in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan states.
Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said 60% of the supply had been restored and the rest would be reinstated soon.
It is unclear why supply collapsed, but states using more power than they were authorised to could be one reason.
Mr Shinde said he had appointed a committee to inquire into the causes of the blackout, one of the worst to hit the country in more than a decade.
Travel chaos The outage happened at 02:30 local time (2100 GMT) on Monday after India’s Northern Grid network collapsed.
Monday morning saw travel chaos engulf the region with thousands of passengers stranded when train services were disrupted in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh.
Delhi Metro railway services were stalled for three hours, although the network later resumed service when it received back-up power from Bhutan, one official said.
Traffic lights on the streets of the capital were not functioning as early morning commuters made their way into work, leading to gridlock.
Water treatment plants in the city also had to be shut for a few hours.
Officials said restoring services to hospitals and transport systems were a priority.
Power cuts are a common occurrence in Indian cities because of a fundamental shortage of power and an ageing grid. The chaos caused by such cuts has led to protests and unrest on the streets.
Earlier in July, crowds in the Delhi suburb of Gurgaon blocked traffic and clashed with police after blackouts there.
Correspondents say that India urgently needs a huge increase in power production, as hundreds of millions of its people are not even connected to the national grid.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has long said that India must look to nuclear energy to supply power to the people.
Estimates say that nuclear energy contributes only 3% to the country’s current power supply. But the construction of some proposed nuclear power stations have been stalled by intense local opposition.