Wealth Distribution

An asteroid called “Peak Oil”

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Published on Cassandra's Legacy on September 13, 2016

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– the real cause of the growing social inequality in the US

 

In a recent article on the Huffington Post, Stan Sorscher reports the graph above and asks the question of what could have happened in the early 1970s that changed everything. Impressive, but what caused this "something" that happened in the early 1970s? According to Sorscher,

X marks the spot. In this case, “X” is our choice of national values. We abandoned traditional American values that built a great and prosperous nation.  

Unfortunately, this is a classic case of an explanation that doesn't explain anything. Why did the American people decide to abandon traditional American values just at that specific moment in time?
 

In reality, the turning point of that time has been known for a long time. The first to notice it were Harry Bluestone and Bennet Harrison with their 1988 book "The Great U-turn: Corporate Restructuring And The Polarizing Of America." They noted that a lot of economic parameters had completely reversed their historical trends in the early 1970s, including the overall inequality measured in terms of the Gini coefficient. For nearly a century, the US society had been moving toward a higher degree of equality. From the early 1970s, the trend changed direction, bringing the US to an inequality level similar to that of the average South-American countries.

So, what was that "something" that changed everything in the early 1970s? Nobody really knows for sure, but at least there was a major measurable change that took place in 1970: peak oil in the US. (image below, from Wikipedia).
 

It was a true asteroid that hit the US economy and that changed a lot of things. Possibly the most important change was that the US ceased to be an oil exporter and became an oil importer. That change was "user transparent," in the sense that the Americans who were filling up the tanks of their cars didn't know where the oil that had produced their gasoline was coming from (and mostly didn't even care). But the change implied a major transfer of capital from the US to foreign producers, while a large part of it returned to the US in the form of investments. It was the "petrodollar recycling" phenomenon that mainly affected the financial system; all that money never really trickled down to the poorer sections of the US society. That may well explain the increasing inequality trend that started in the early 1970s.

But, if the oil peak of 1970 explains the inequality trends, shouldn't the new reversal of the trend – the "shale oil revolution" change everything again? Perhaps surprisingly, there is some evidence that this may be the case
 

 

 

 

The data from the World Bank indicate that the Gini coefficient for the US has peaked in 2006 and has remained constant, or slightly declining, ever since. Again, that makes some sense; one wouldn't have expected a return to the low inequality values of the 1960s since the great shale oil boom didn't transform the US into an oil exporter. At present, with the recent peaking of the Bakken field, it looks like that the good times of half a century ago will never return.

All this would require a lot of work to be better quantified and proven. But it is not a surprise that our life depends so much and so deeply on the production of that vital black liquid that we call "crude oil". And with the probable downturn of the US production that seems to be starting right now, we are going to see more, and more radical, changes in our society. What these changes will be, we have to see, but it is hard to think that they will be for better equality. 

 

Terrorism Survey Results

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on December 22, 2015

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TAKE THE TERRORISM SURVEY HERE

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Early results are IN, and quite remarkable in how completely OPPOSITE they are to the policies actually being undertaken by Western Goobermints to try and combat this problem.  Also, many very strong opinions expressed by the Survey takers in the Open Text response areas of the survey.

The results speak for themselves, I am going to publish them without comment until the end.  The Survey remains open, and if there are significant numbers of additional respondents and/or the percentages change very much, I will publish an update of the survey results in 2016.

Now, on to the results!

 

Question 1: Do you think air strikes will resolve the Terrorism problem?

  Yes, retaliation with air strikes will help No, retaliation with air strikes will make it worse It doesn't matter either way. No opinion Standard Deviation Responses
All Data 3
(4%)
46
(64%)
23
(32%)
0
(0%)
18.43 72


Question 2: Rank these solutions to the Terrorism problem in Western countries in order of Most Effective to Least Effective

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Standard Deviation Responses Weighted Average
Sending money to Border Countries to build Refugee Camps 19
(35%)
12
(22%)
10
(18%)
5
(9%)
4
(7%)
4
(7%)
1
(2%)
0
(0%)
5.97 55 2.62 / 8
Closing all borders and building Fences 6
(11%)
11
(20%)
11
(20%)
14
(25%)
7
(13%)
3
(5%)
3
(5%)
0
(0%)
4.51 55 3.47 / 8
Ground Troops in MENA 4
(7%)
9
(16%)
6
(11%)
11
(20%)
10
(18%)
9
(16%)
6
(11%)
0
(0%)
3.41 55 4.18 / 8
Stricter Gun Control Laws 3
(5%)
12
(22%)
9
(16%)
3
(5%)
8
(15%)
5
(9%)
11
(20%)
4
(7%)
3.37 55 4.45 / 8
Air Strikes in MENA 2
(4%)
4
(7%)
9
(16%)
10
(18%)
15
(27%)
10
(18%)
5
(9%)
0
(0%)
4.65 55 4.49 / 8
Everyone should carry a Gun so Terrorists can be killed before they kill too many people 2
(4%)
3
(5%)
7
(13%)
7
(13%)
7
(13%)
15
(27%)
9
(16%)
5
(9%)
3.76 55 5.18 / 8
Other (explain below) 17
(31%)
3
(5%)
2
(4%)
0
(0%)
0
(0%)
1
(2%)
4
(7%)
28
(51%)
9.52 55 5.22 / 8
Nuking MENA 2
(4%)
1
(2%)
1
(2%)
5
(9%)
4
(7%)
8
(15%)
16
(29%)
18
(33%)
6.25 55 6.38 / 8

Question 4: Detail any other solutions to the Terrorism problem you can suggest here.

Terrorism is not a problem until we in Europe have a situation similar to Israel. Paris clearly shows that politicians endanger democratic values.
Deporting Muslims
Apologize, end American occupations and weapons exports, send reparations, send unarmed aid teams with equipment.
Terrorism, in my mind, is a lot like domestic violence in families. It's a cycle of abuse you could say. Violence begets violence. The lack of economic and educational opportunity, employment after education creates, or marriage prospects creates a bunch of young men who have no outlet. Young men without a purpose are very dangerous. So, long term, we need to make sure men don't want to turn to terrorism because they can see a stable future elsewhere.
Inequality in many aspects is the root of terror, in order to tackle that you would need to change the current system of capitalist economics, which operates as a wealth transference mechanism. The current system transfers wealth from developing countries to core countries, or more simply stated from places that have less money to places that have concentrated money and even within the core countries themselves, as shown by the amount of inequality in the United States and other Western economic dominated countries.
Prevent radicalisation more efficiently, destroy ISIS' money sources
Accept & encourage as many refugees from affected countries as possible. Afterwards: Dissolve all majorly affected countries from their status as a nation, conquer the resulting territories and establish a new temporary military government. Immediately enact martial law.
No trade policy with involved countries
Stop giving them the attention they want do not publish names or photos of perpetrators.
Investments in Islamic countries- particularly in education. Improving efforts at integrating immigrants into European and American society so as to reduce propaganda material and decreasing susceptibility to radicalization.
International / Global coalition and participation in efforts and information sharing
Recognitio of the terrorist groups within our borders not affiliated with Islam. Correcting the "counter factual information" spread amongst the extreme right political and religionist.
Quit killing millions of innocent people in a culture where their relatives are bound by tradition and religion to set aside their daily lives until the deaths are avenged.
economic development
How about NOT FUCKING BOMBING THEIR COUNTRIES! THE CIA IS THE TERRORIST, THEY ARE HAVING FALSE FLAGS!!!!!
Abolish the Us military, disolve NATO, say we are sorry, make reparations
NATO to be disbanded. Ban the sale of all weapons to MENA especially those that are actively supporting terrorism – S. Arabia, Qatar. Turkey and others. Western leader brought to account for their warmongering. Cease regime change and other interference in MENA. Western countries should apologise to MENA and offer reparations for the damage they have caused. Financial assistance must be offered by western govt to rebuild infrastructure and create jobs in affected countries.
Degrowth
Stay the hell out of the middle east. Let them all kill themselves.
Just leave them the fuck alone.
Negotiate and inform.
Keep out of other countries. We just make it worse.
Stop bombing other countries and overthrowing other governments.
Spend the billions spent on arms in humanitarian aid. Withdraw troops and cease hostile action Buy the oil legitimately Put in birth control programmes Assist with local economy and growing some of their own food.
Stop destroying other countries
Let's have a war. An all-out Holy War. Can We get a Table Dance. Then we can get on with our lives.
Stop harrassing other countries for their resources.
as per my article on how to cure terrorism
People only use terrorism as a tool to archive their political objectives. While at full extent it is impossible, avoiding being their enemies and as many interactions as possible you can indeed reduce being a target of their interests to start with. Dialog, despite it can lead to nasty concessions, is also a potential and more civilized approach.
Massive investments in family planning and environmental protections. It's hard to be a terrorist when you are safe, comfortable, employed and well fed. Might want to also collectively stomp on religious fundamentalism. Stop supporting Saudi Arabia, Israel, Pakistan and make trade concessions only upon harmonizaiton of their policies with our. (China too)
Withdraw from MENA and everywhere else. Stop being the biggest terrorist.
Redistribute wealth from rich countries to poor countries and establish more options for a livabel future for the young people in their countries. Better education about Islam and religion in muslim communities in western countries to prevent radicalization.
The single best strategy to reduce terrorism would be to quit meddling in the sovereign affairs of other countries. Gun control might have an impact, but I don't like the cost (of losing my rights).
It is done by the 1% and they are not going away. No solution.
Send The Donald to Syria without a haircut for 2-3 months. The Donald's appearance will terrorize the terrorists into submission.
Deportation of anyone who 1) attends a radical mosque, 2) travels to MENA, buys guns, and grows a beard, and 3) pledges allegiance to IS on Facebook
leave those people the hell alone, that might help.
Stop fucking bombing them! Stop Turkey buying their oil and supporting them. Stop using oil at all and so stop funding them.
Don't elect Democrats or Republicans and completely replace all our elected representatives with new independent blood.
The obvious one is to remove all imperial forces from MENA, collapse voluntarily (properly prepare nuclear plant shutdowns, with ample funding for the 40 to 60 years it takes to decommission them)), and try to live as people 200 years ago did. So, yeah, this is a unicorn, but it's still a possibility for policy.
diplomacy, negotiation, compromise, understanding, intelligence, common sense, peaceful resolutions
Get out of MENA immediately. "Support the troops" and bring the troops home. Round up the neocons and oblige them to retire in public disgrace.
redirect us war effort to washington d.c. the enemy is there
The "terrorism problem" is mostly a fraud.
Give up the industrial lifestyle, ground all planes and junk all cars.
Treating terrorisim for what it is: crime an not as an existential threat. As well not loosing our shit every time someone with an Arabic name walks by.

Question 5: Where do most Terrorists come from?

  Most are recent immigrants from foreign countries Most are home grown locals who become radicalized It's about equal between Foreigners and Locals Other Standard Deviation Responses
All Data 4
(5%)
28
(38%)
29
(40%)
12
(16%)
10.64 73

Question 6: Are most Terrorist actions Centrally Planned by Masterminds operating abroad or are most independent actions by disaffected individuals and small groups?

  Most are planned abroad by Masterminds Most are disaffected Locals It's about equal between planned abroad and locally grown Other Standard Deviation Responses
All Data 5
(7%)
33
(46%)
26
(37%)
7
(10%)
12.03 71

Question 7:Who kills more innocent civilians each year, Terrorists shooting, beheading and suicide bombing people or NATO dropping Bombs and using Drones?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  Terrorists NATO It's about equal in Death Count of civilians between Terrorists and NATO Other Standard Deviation Responses
All Data 3
(4%)
56
(78%)
7
(10%)
6
(8%)
21.99 72

Question 8: Rank these current US Presidential Candidates in terms of who would do the Best Job of handling the Terrorism problem and who would do the Worst job Best to Worst.

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Standard Deviation Responses Weighted Average
Bernie Sanders 26
(52%)
8
(16%)
7
(14%)
2
(4%)
1
(2%)
0
(0%)
0
(0%)
2
(4%)
4
(8%)
7.72 50 2.56 / 9
Rand Paul 7
(14%)
18
(36%)
5
(10%)
5
(10%)
5
(10%)
1
(2%)
5
(10%)
4
(8%)
0
(0%)
4.86 50 3.52 / 9
Hillary Clinton 6
(12%)
14
(28%)
8
(16%)
6
(12%)
2
(4%)
0
(0%)
3
(6%)
4
(8%)
7
(14%)
3.83 50 4.16 / 9
Jeb Bush 0
(0%)
3
(6%)
14
(28%)
14
(28%)
5
(10%)
4
(8%)
3
(6%)
5
(10%)
2
(4%)
4.74 50 4.64 / 9
Chris Christie 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
4
(8%)
12
(24%)
13
(26%)
12
(24%)
4
(8%)
4
(8%)
1
(2%)
5.04 50 5.32 / 9
Ben Carson 0
(0%)
0
(0%)
6
(12%)
4
(8%)
9
(18%)
7
(14%)
11
(22%)
10
(20%)
3
(6%)
3.86 50 6.1 / 9
Ted Cruz 1
(2%)
2
(4%)
2
(4%)
3
(6%)
6
(12%)
11
(22%)
13
(26%)
9
(18%)
3
(6%)
4.17 50 6.18 / 9
Marco Rubio 1
(2%)
2
(4%)
2
(4%)
1
(2%)
8
(16%)
13
(26%)
9
(18%)
11
(22%)
3
(6%)
4.42 50 6.22 / 9
Donald Trump 9
(18%)
3
(6%)
2
(4%)
3
(6%)
1
(2%)
2
(4%)
2
(4%)
1
(2%)
27
(54%)
7.92 50 6.3 / 9

Question 9: What percentage of Refugees trying to get to Europe are Terrorists in disguise traveling with the specific intention of doing a Terrorist action?

  <1% 1%-5% 5-10% 11-50% 50-100% Standard Deviation Responses
All Data 57
(78%)
12
(16%)
3
(4%)
0
(0%)
1
(1%)
21.62 73

Question 10: Is State Sponsored War a form of Terrorism?

  Yes No It depends (explain below) Standard Deviation Responses
All Data 50
(68%)
13
(18%)
10
(14%)
18.19 73

Question 11: Explain what circumstances State Sponsored War is Terrorism and what circumstances it is not Terrorism

is: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phoenix_Program is not: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_phosphorus_munitions#Use_in_Iraq_.282004.29 its all pretty crappy though
It's terrorism on a larger scale
When the stated goal of an invading force is "terrorize into submission". See invasion strategy shock and awe, United States invasion of Iraq strategy. They define it as inflicting terror on a population. That any moment they could be killed; and that any resistance they would be killed.
Generally, war could be considered terrorism if you're on the losing side. However, terrorism generally is associated with actions against primarily civilian targets.
no
I think anytime it's underwent with the express purpose of furthering an ideology, or meant as a "show of power" to either citizens or non-citizens.
Mutual aggression is not terrorism
Killing innocent people by the millions as collateral damage is terrorism.
attacks on non-military targets to harm civilians. think israel blowing up the only water treatment facilities in gaza.
All war is terrorism, premeditated, mass murder
War is just terrorism by another name – it is sponsored by the state and has a larger budget – those being the main differences.
Its terrorism if regime change is being sponsored from abroad.
CIA operation after WW2 OSA operation during WW2
State Sponsored War has legal status. Terrorism is extra-legal action. EG Mr Cameron killing in Syria prior to vote in Parliament authorising action.
It is not when it is in self defence. All other times it is terrorism.
It is not terrorism if directed at specific source of an attack on the country. Otherwise terrorism.
wars of choice and exploitation
I suppose Killing people is wrong, no matter what you call it.
USA bombing Iraq and Afghanistan is terrorizing those countires. We terrorized Lybia and Syria as well. What is one to expect from these countries in return, Thank You notes.
this requires a ten page essay
When instill fear is the main mean to archive your political interests, like bombing your foes with collateral damage to civilians not in consideration. It is not terrorism when there is a clear military objective to forcefully impose partly or fully your political interest (though it is still a crime).
Self-Defense of the state is similar to self defense of a person. Self defense is always a legitimate form of war. Foreign wars of aggression are not.
State sponsored war is not terrorism if it's done to repel a foreign invasion of native soil. So the kind of war we're in now is terrorism.
If aggression it is terrorism. If defense it is war. The war of 1812 was OK. The rest terrorism.
SSW as terrorism is sending The Donald to Syria without a haircut for 2-3 months. It is not SSW as terrorism when ISIS/ISIL captures The Donald and beheads him and his hair.
retalliating against a nuclear attack, or physical invasion of the US would not be terrorism.
killing innocents and children is not terrorism. Show me a bomb that can target only those people we are calling terrorists today and I will stop calling state sponsored war terrorism
Dead is dead. It does not matter how you get there the destination is the same.
State sponsored terrorism is, like other forms, using lethal violence to obtain political objectives (that usually reflect the narrow focus of a limited group and often against the will of the great heard. ) Kent State was clearly terrorism, for example.
defense when attacked directly is not terrorism going abroad to commit violence is terrorism
Clausewitz said War is Politics by other Means. To the extent that our serial wars in MENA are a latter day version of colonialist extraction, all military operations in MENA (as well as Ukraine) is terrorism. "Terrorism" is whatever the definer says it is.
state sponsored war is always terrorism
Anything that isn't a declared war by a state upon another but involves violence or coercion is terrorism. Period. Most of what the US does as foreign policy under this definition is indeed terrorism which is most US foreign policy since 2001.
When you are in a fight for survival and there are only enough resources for one group or the other. All the rest of the time it is terrorism, which is most of the time since the beginning of the Age of Agriculture.
Terrorism is a tactic. A state's foreign policy, including war, is a strategy. A tactic cannot be a strategy.

Question 12: Which driver of Terrorism is more powerful, Religious Fanaticism or Economics and Poverty?

  Religious Fanaticism Economics and Poverty Other (explain below) Standard Deviation Responses
All Data 17
(24%)
36
(50%)
19
(26%)
8.52 72

Question 13: Explain other drivers for Terrorism you think are as important or more important than Religious Fanaticism or Economics and Poverty.

cyclical effects in control systems, there has been terrorism before, some research might be in order
Oppressive governments that make life seem hopeless
False flag attacks by states against themselves, such as 9/11.
I think they're both at play. Fanaticism is a primary reason there is even a war right now. Some religious extremists want a theocratic state instead of a secular one. However, the key factor to getting low-level recruits is that those folks lack opportunity to hold normal jobs or they are pissed off about losses in their lives.
both
History
It's both.
NATO killing family members
I think media helping to drive the polarization of groups – be it political parties, religions, nationalities – creates a constant cultural narrative of "us vs. them" that increases and incentivizes and confines extreme/violent behavior to the "other" group.
Religious fanaticism is a vehicle through which economics and poverty leads to terrorism
Both factors drive terrorism together, with historical military actions and international relationships playing a role.
Profit by warmongers and bankers in the "civilized" world.
Poverty is number one because if people have shit to do or buy they wont build bombs
The CIA is the root cause of all terrorism.
US military and the US state dept
Anyone with a personal grudge against society can perform an act of terrorism – losing a job, being personally rejected by another or even imagining a perceived rejection can lead to terrorism – the many high school/college shooting in America being a case in point.
But the two combined are a fatal, toxic brew!
Climate change
Arms and Funding from Gulf States or the Pentagon
Energy
Religions tend to have reached accomodations with one another. Terrorisim tends to flow from a combination of political and religious views that narrowly promote their wellbeing at the expense of others.
Corporate greed.
Nearly as important as economics and poverty is the lust for power. Religion is simply the tool used for rationalization.
domination and occupation of other societies
I believe the two go hand in hand. People turn to strange religions (pretty much all of them) to help them cope with feelings of inadequacy financial, cultural, etc. But Islam is Bullshit.
was hen or egg first……
Hatred of Western exploitation of world resources.
Revenge and anger fueled by abuse and injustice.
Both in equal partts. Economics and poverty create the fundamental motivations, Religious fundamentalism shapes the motivations into weapons.
Greed. Anger. Fear.
Economics and poverty are more powerful, but religious fanaticism plays a strong role as of right now.
The sadism of the ruling class in the west followed by the sadism of all other ruling classes.
Looking at The Donald's hair is worse torture than fanaticism and poverty. Are NY Yankee or Green Bay Packer fanatics the result of poverty and religion. Well, yes, poverty of the intellect and a strong belief that professional sports are essential to existence.
Poverty amplifies fanaticism.
climate change. climate change,. climate change
The CIA and the Department of Homeland Security.
How about Classism. The Global .01% don't give a rip about the rest of their fellow humans, and steal wantonly from the great multitudes. It is inevitable there will be pushback as 99% is a large amount to keep docile and underfoot.
ignorance, lack of education nationalism tradition fear
Ignorance and nationalism.
Imperialism
As a driver, climate change is setting up the underlying unstable conditions that lead to war, conflict as terrorism.

Question 14: Would Terrorism be reduced if Wealth was redistributed from Rich Countries to Poor countries internationally and from Rich People to Poor people locally?

  Yes No It would remain the same Standard Deviation Responses
All Data 40
(56%)
16
(23%)
15
(21%)
11.56 71

Question 15: You may explain your answer to Q14 here (optional)

You know of the correlation between riots and food prices, beyond that you can pay off many people the rest you can ignore or avoid pissing off.
The governments of poor countries would steal all the aid money and give it to the already rich elite. Also giving free money to poor people is just a temporary solution that makes them passive and lazy.
it is self evident.
When a country is in conflict or poor, there is often a high level of corruption. If you attempt to get aid to actual citizens, it will likely be siphoned off before it reaches them.
Think of it as the law of the instrument, "often stated as" if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail". The current "real existing capitalism" operates as the "instrument", and whoever is in charge of wielding the instrument begins to see everything as "a nail." A change to the system of wealth transference is a necessary step, but that only addresses one item. It does not address environmental, or social institutional needs.
I don't think there are any right answers here, for all the questions
I don't know
By no means do I suggest that distribution would solve terrorism, but constant poverty often creates a vacuum of purpose and general anger/ feeling of "unfairness" that extremists exploit to garner followers. I think it would certainly help measurably.
Wealth redistribution may not solve the driving issue
Poverty and lack of education and opportunity result in disaffection, and alienation. Religionists are providing "answers" and a way to belong – to strike back at the evil and evil ones "responsible" for these dismal conditions.
reduce poverty would help alleviate terrorism
The CIA plans all false flags, they may contract the shit out, but they control all.
The rich countries are only rich because they stole from the poor, give it back.
A more egalitarian distribution of wealth would help reduce resentment between different socio economic groups and between different cultures but is not a cure all as other factors are also in play – religious fanaticism, resource depletion – the disputes over water resources are a good example of a driver that can lead to war/terrorism.
Rich people, even middle class people, vested in their socieites have better things to do than wage war and die.
I kinda feel like it would have varied effects across the board. I kinda feel like global redistribution might cause more problems in some places even as it decreases problems in other places. I support it locally but I dont know how it could work internationally, it would mostly change things up
It is called stress. Stress leads to action. Sometimes good, but too easy to be hijacked for the worst purposes.
Poverty is not the cause. Exploitation and inequality in a nation are the causes.
Terrorists come from the group that is disaffected economically, socially and politically. Committing acts of terror becomes a reason d'etre to some of the disaffected.
wealth distribution is not related to terrorism
It would also help if people could unit within their own communities and work together for their common good. Running to the white developed countries and demanding to be cared for may not be the best plan.
People would be less drawn to religious fundamentalism, or any risky behavious if they had a roof over their head, a job and a full belly AND their neighbours had it too.
Yes, and when that happens monkeys will fly out of my butt.
No act for increased efficiency will work if the number of humans are not limited. Too many humans.
Each month I make my rent, insurance, and car payments, I feel poor and thus am terrorized financially and economically. Therefore, I deserve to have a rich guy pay at least half of my living costs so I can use the difference to buy guns and ammo, and to make pipe bombs to terrorize terrorists who are coming to the US by the millions to kill us all.
It would help in the short term but ultimately be ineffective as new grievances arose and violence ensued.
I have no earthly idea.
It would intensify if governments were not changed out. The terrorists don't want their stuff given away and would be orchestrating the return of their stuff if it were redistributed. Redistribution is a bad answer anyway. There are other better ways. Of course redistribution is impossible with the government we have so it really does not matter.
As long as the Global North keeps looting the South, there will be problems. The wealth doesn't need to be redistributed; the North and the West just need to stop stealing ftom the South and East.
Scarcity breeds aggression.
Eat the rich.
poor countries are poor because we've already raped them
It would help, but ultimatly there will be blood regardless.

NOW…

Democracy comes to you - bomberWhat is the takeaway from this Survey????

Quite obviously, at least amongst people who frequent collapse websites, they are in COMPLETE DISAGREEMENT with just about every policy being followed to combat terrorism.  Not by a small margin either.  About nobody thinks bombing is doing any good, most think The Donald would be the absolute WORST choice for a POTUS who might be able to handle the problem, few think Refugees are a huge source of Terrorists, and even fewer think there are big time Terrorist Masterminds out there like Osama Bin Laden planning all the mayhem from caves in Afghanistan, and most think a redistribution of wealth (from rich to poor rather than poor to rich) would if not solve the Terrorism problem, might at least make it a little less problematic.

Now, are Kollapsniks TM really THAT different from the population at large?  Or is the opinion of the population at large simply being IGNORED by TPTB running the show here?  I tend to think toward the latter, but the general population is so Brainwashed I'm not entirely sure of that.  If the opinion of the population at large is just being ignored here, what does that say about the so-called "Democracy" that we supposedly live under and are delivering to the rest of the world via Carpet Bombing them all?  What does it say about the power of the Ballot Box and Voting?  It's obviously not changing the policies here no matter WTF you vote for!!!

On the other hand, if it's true that the general population DOES think these policies are a good idea, then what does that say about Democracy?  Do you really want a Democracy when most of the Voters are Brainwashed IDIOTS?!?!?!  Imbeciles electing Morons is a good way to run a Goobermint?  What?  I'm no fan of the Dictatorship idea either, so clearly we need to come up with a different plan here, because Plan A and Plan B are not working.  Suggestions?  Buehler?

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Economic growth: How it works; how it fails; why wealth disparity occurs

 economic-growthgc2reddit-logoOff the keyboard of Gail Tverberg

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Published on the Our Finite World on December 8, 2015

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Discuss this article at the Economics Table inside the Diner

Economists have put together models of how an economy works, but these models were developed years ago, when the world economy was far from limits. These models may have been reasonably adequate when they were developed, but there is increasing evidence that they don’t work in an economy that is reaching limits. For example, my most recent post, “Why ‘supply and demand’ doesn’t work for oil,” showed that when the world is facing the rising cost of oil extraction, “supply and demand” doesn’t work in the expected way.

In order to figure out what really does happen, we need to consider findings from a variety of different fields, including biology, physics, systems analysis, finance, and the study of past economic collapses. Since I started studying the situation in 2005, I have had the privilege of meeting many people who work in areas related to this problem.

My own background is in mathematics and actuarial science. Actuarial projections, such as those that underlie pensions and long term care policies, are one place where historical assumptions are not likely to be accurate, if an economy is reaching limits. Because of this connection to actuarial work, I have a particular interest in the problem.

How Other Species Grow 

We know that other species don’t amass wealth in the way humans do. However, the number of plants or animals of a given type can grow, at least within a range. Techniques that seem to be helpful for increasing the number of a given species include:

  • Natural selection. With natural selection, all species have more offspring than needed to reproduce the parent. A species is able to continuously adapt to the changing environment because the best-adapted offspring tend to live.
  • Cooperation. Individual cells within an organism cooperate in terms of the functions they perform. Cooperation also occurs among members of the same species, and among different species (symbiosis, parasites, hosts). In some cases, division of labor may occur (for example, bees, other social insects).
  • Use of tools. Animals frequently use tools. Sometimes items such as rocks or logs are used directly. At other times, animals craft tools with their forepaws or beaks.

All species have specific needs of various kinds, including energy needs, water needs, mineral needs, and lack of pollution. They are in constant competition with both other members of the same species and with members of other species to meet these needs. It is individuals who can out-compete others in the resource battle that survive. In some cases, animals find hierarchical behavior helpful in the competition for resources.

There are various feedbacks that regulate the growth of a biological system. For example, a person or animal eats, and later becomes hungry. Likewise, an animal drinks, and later becomes thirsty. Over the longer term, animals have a reserve of fat for times when food is scarce, and a small reserve of water. If they are not able to eat and drink within the required timeframe, they will die. Another feedback within the system regulates overuse of resources: if any kind of animal eats all of a type of plant or animal that it requires for food, it will not have food in the future.

Energy needs are one of the limiting factors, both for individual biological members of an ecosystem, and for the overall ecosystem. Energy systems need greater power (energy use per period of time) to out-compete one another. The Maximum Power Principle by Howard Odum says that biological systems will organize to increase power whenever system constraints allow.

Another way of viewing energy needs comes from the work of Ilya Prigogine, who studied how ordered structures, such as biological systems, can develop from disorder in a thermodynamically open system. Prigogine has called these ordered structures dissipative systems. These systems can temporarily exist as long as the system is held far from equilibrium by a continual flow of energy through the system. If the flow energy disappears, the biological system will die.

Using either Odum’s or Prigogine’s view, energy of the right type is essential for the growth of an overall ecosystem as well as for the continued health of its individual members.

How Humans Separated Themselves from Other Animals

Animals generally get energy from food. It stands to reason that if an animal has a unique way of obtaining additional energy to supplement the energy it gets from food, it will have an advantage over other animals. In fact, this approach seems to have been the secret to the growth of human populations.

Human population, plus the domesticated plants and animals of humans, now dominate the globe. Humans’ path toward population growth seems to have started when early members of the species learned how to burn biomass in a controlled way. The burning of biomass had many benefits, including being able to keep warm, cook food and ward off predators. Cooking food was especially beneficial, because it allowed humans to use a wider range of foodstuffs. It also allowed bodies of humans to more easily get nutrition from food that was eaten. As a result, stomachs, jaws, and teeth could become smaller, and brains could become bigger, enabling more intelligence. The use of cooked food began long enough ago that our bodies are now adapted to the use of some cooked food.

With the use of fire to burn biomass, humans could better “win” in the competition against other species, allowing the number of humans to increase. In this way, humans could, to some extent, circumvent natural selection. From the point of the individual who could live longer, or whose children could live to maturity, this was a benefit. Unfortunately, it had at least two drawbacks:

  1. While animal populations tended to become increasingly adapted to a changing environment through natural selection, humans tend not to become better adapted, because of the high survival rate that results from more adequate food supplies and better healthcare. Humans might eventually find themselves becoming less well adapted: more overweight, or having more physical disabilities, or having more of a tendency toward diabetes.
  2. Without a natural limit to population, the quantity of resources per person tends to decline over time. For example, such a tendency tends to lead to less farmland per person. This would be a problem if techniques remained the same. Thus, rising population tends to lead to constant pressure to raise output (more food per arable acre or technological advancements that allow the economy to “do more with less”).

How Humans Have Been Able to Meet the Challenge of Rising Population Relative to Resources

Humans were able to meet the challenge of rising population by taking the techniques many animals use, as described above, and raising them to new levels. The fact that humans figured out how to burn biomass, and later would learn to harness other kinds of energy, gave humans many capabilities that other animals did not have.

  • Co-operation with other humans became possible, through a variety of mechanisms (learning of language with our bigger brains, development of financial systems to facilitate trade). Even as hunter-gatherers, researchers have found that economies of scale (enabled by co-operation) allowed greater food gathering per hectare. Division of labor allowed some specialization, even in very early days (gathering, fishing, hunting).
  • Humans have been able to domesticate many kinds of plants and animals.  Generally, the relationship with other species is a symbiotic relationship–the animals gain the benefit of a steady food supply and protection from predators, so their population can increase. Chosen plants have little competition from “weeds,” thanks to the protection humans provide. As a result, they can flourish whether or not they would be competitive with other plants and predators in the wild.
  • Humans have been able to take the idea of making and using tools to an extreme level. Humans first started by using fire to sharpen rocks. With the sharpened rocks, they could make new devices such as boats, and they could make spears to help kill animals for food. Tools could be used for planting the seeds they wanted to grow, so they did not have to live with the mixture of plants nature provided. We don’t think of roads, pipelines, and lines for transmitting electricity as tools, but as a practical matter, they also provide functions similar to those of tools. The many chemicals humans use, such as herbicides, insecticides, and antibiotics, also act in way similar to tools. The many objects that humans create to make life “better” (houses, cars, dishwashers, prepared foods, cosmetics) might in some very broad sense be considered tools as well. Some tools might be considered “capital,” when used to create additional goods and services.
  • Humans created businesses and governments to enable better organization, including division of labor and hierarchical behavior. A single person can create a simple tool, just as an animal can. But there are economies of scale, such as when many devices of a particular kind can be made, or when some individuals learn specialized skills that enable them to perform particular tasks better. As mentioned previously, even in the days of hunter-gatherers, there were economies of scale, if a larger group of workers could be organized so that specialization could take place.
  • Financial systems and changing systems of laws and regulations provide additional structure to the system, telling businesses and customers how much of a given product is required at a given time, and at what prices. In animals, appetite and thirst determine how important obtaining food and water are at a given point in time. Financial systems provide a somewhat similar role for an economy, but the financial system doesn’t operate within as constrained a system as hunger and thirst. As a result, the financial system can give strange signals, including prices that at times fall below the cost of extraction.
  • Humans have tended to put resources of many kinds (arable land, land for homes and businesses, fresh water, mineral resources) under the control of governments. Governments then authorize particular individuals and business to use this land, under various arrangements (“ownership,” leases, or authorized temporary usage). Governments often collect taxes for use of the resources. The practice is in some ways similar to the use of territoriality by animals, but it can have the opposite result. With animals, territoriality is used to prevent crowding, and can act to prevent overuse of shared resources. With human economies, ownership or temporary use permits can lead to a government sanctioned way of depleting resources, and thus, over time, can lead to a higher cost of resource extraction.

Physicist François Roddier has described individual human economies as another type of dissipative structure, not too different from biological systems, such as plants, animals, and ecosystems. If this is true, an adequate supply of energy is absolutely essential for the growth of the world economy.

We know that there is a very close tie between energy use and the growth of the world economy. Energy consumption has recently been dropping (Figure 1), suggesting that the world is heading into recession again. The Wall Street Journal indicates that a junk bond selloff also points in the direction of a likely recession in the not-too-distant future.

Figure 1. Three year average growth rate in world energy consumption and in GDP. World energy consumption based on BP Review of World Energy, 2015 data; real GDP from USDA in 2010$.

 

 

 

Figure 1. Three year average growth rate in world energy consumption and in GDP. World energy consumption based on BP Review of World Energy, 2015 data; real GDP from USDA in 2010$.

What Goes Wrong as Economic Growth Approaches Limits?

We know that in the past, many economies have collapsed. In fact, if Roddier is correct about economies being dissipative structures, then we know that economies cannot be expected to last forever. Economies will tend to run into energy limits, and these energy limits will ultimately bring them down.

The symptoms that occur when economies run into energy limits are not intuitively obvious. The following are some of the things that generally go wrong:

Item 1. A slowdown in economic growth.

Research by Turchin and Nefedov regarding historical collapses shows that growth tended to start in an economy when a group of people discovered a new energy-related resource. For example, a piece of land might be cleared to allow more arable land, or existing arable land might be irrigated. At first, these new resources allowed economies to grow rapidly for many years. Once the population grew to match the new carrying capacity of the land, economies tended to hit a period of “stagflation” for another period, say 50 or 60 years. Eventually “collapse” occurred, typically over a period of 20 or more years.

Today’s world economy seems to be following a similar pattern. The world started using coal in quantity in the early 1800s. This helped ramp up economic growth above a baseline of less than 1% per year. A second larger ramp up in economic growth occurred about the time of World War II, as oil began to be put to greater use (Figure 2).

Figure 2. World GDP growth compared to world energy consumption growth for selected time periods since 1820. World real GDP trends for 1975 to present are based on USDA real GDP data in 2010$ for 1975 and subsequent. (Estimated by author for 2015.) GDP estimates for prior to 1975 are based on Maddison project updates as of 2013. Growth in the use of energy products is based on a combination of data from Appendix A data from Vaclav Smil's Energy Transitions: History, Requirements and Prospects together with BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2015 for 1965 and subsequent.

 

 

 

Figure 2. World GDP growth compared to world energy consumption growth for selected time periods since 1820. World real GDP trends for 1975 to present are based on USDA real GDP data in 2010$ for 1975 and subsequent. (Estimated by author for 2015.) GDP estimates for prior to 1975 are based on Maddison project updates as of 2013. Growth in the use of energy products is based on a combination of data from Appendix A data from Vaclav Smil’s Energy Transitions: History, Requirements and Prospects together with BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2015 for 1965 and subsequent.

Worldwide, the economic growth rate hit a high point in the 1950 to 1965 period, and since then has trended downward. Figure 2 indicates that in all periods analyzed, the increase in energy consumption accounts for the majority of economic growth.

Since 2001, when China joined the World Trade Organization, world economic growth has been supported by economic growth in China. This growth was made possible by China’s rapid growth in coal consumption (Figure 3).

Figure 3. China's energy consumption by fuel, based on data of BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2015.

 

 

 

Figure 3. China’s energy consumption by fuel, based on data of BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2015.

China’s growth in energy consumption, particularly coal consumption, is now slowing. Its economy is slowing at the same time, so its leadership in world economic growth is now being lost. There is no new major source of cheap energy coming online. This is a major reason why world economic growth is slowing.

Item 2. Increased use of debt, with less and less productivity of that debt in terms of increased goods and services produced.  

Another finding of Turchin and Nefedov is that the use of debt tended to increase in the stagflation period. Since growth was lower in this period, it is clear that the use of debt was becoming less productive.

If we look at the world situation today, we find a similar situation. More and more debt is being used, but that debt is becoming less productive in terms of the amount of GDP being provided. In fact, this pattern of falling productivity of debt seems to have been taking place since the early 1970s, when the price of oil rose above $20 per barrel (in 2014$). It is doubtful that that economic growth can occur if the price of oil is above $20 per barrel, without debt spiraling ever upward as a percentage of GDP. It is supplemental energy that allows the economy to function. If the price of energy is too high, it becomes unaffordable, and economic growth slows.

Figure 4. Worldwide average inflation-adjusted annual growth rates in debt and GDP, for selected time periods. See post on debt for explanation of methodology.

 

 

 

Figure 4. Worldwide average inflation-adjusted annual growth rates in debt and GDP, for selected time periods. See author’s post on debt for explanation of methodology.

China has been using debt to fund its recent expansion. There is evidence that it, too, is encountering falling productivity of additional debt.

We mentioned that appetite controls how much an animal eats. Debt helps control demand for energy products, and in fact, for products of all kinds in the economy. Appetite is different from debt as a regulator of demand. For one thing, debt can be used for an almost unlimited number of purposes, whether or not these purposes have any real possibility of adding GDP to the economy. (This is especially true if interest rates are close to 0%, or even negative.) There are few controls on debt. Governments have discovered that in some instances, debt stimulates an economy. Because of this, governments have tended to be very liberal in encouraging growth in debt. Often, when a debtor is near default, this problem is hidden by extending the term of the loan and pretending that no problem exists.

With respect to biological organisms, energy is often stored up as fat and used later when there is a shortfall of energy. This is the opposite of the way financing for human “tools” generally works. Here financing is often obtained when a tool is put into operation, with the hope that the new tool will pay back its worth, plus interest, over the life of the tool. Much debt doesn’t even have such a purpose; sometimes it is used simply to make an expensive object easier to purchase, or to give a young person (perhaps with poor grades) an opportunity to attend college. When debt has such poor regulation, we cannot expect it to work as reliably as biological mechanisms in feeding back information regarding true “demand” through the price system.

Item 3. Increased disparity of wages; non-elite workers earning less.

Item 3 is another problem that Turchin and Nefedov encountered in reviewing economies that collapsed. One of the reasons for the increased disparity of wages is the increased need for hierarchical relationships if an economy wants to work around a shortfall in goods and services by adding new “tools”. Businesses and governments need to grow larger if they are to accommodate these more complex processes. In such a case, the natural tendency is for these organizations to become more hierarchical in nature. Also, if there is growth, followed by a temporary need to shrink back, the cutbacks are likely to come disproportionately from the lower ranks of workers, reinforcing the hierarchical structure.

Figure 5. Chart by Pavlina Tscherneva, in Reorienting Fiscal Policy, as reprinted by the Washington Post.

 

 

 

Figure 5. Chart by Pavlina Tscherneva, in Reorienting Fiscal Policy, as reprinted by the Washington Post.

Funding arrangements for the new “tools” to work around shortages add to the hierarchical behavior. Typically, businesses must expand to fund the development of the new tools. This expansion may be funded by debt, or by stock programs. Regardless of which approach is used for funding, the programs tend to funnel an increasing share of the wealth of the economy to the wealthier members of the economy. This happens because interest payments and dividend payments both go disproportionately to benefit those who are already high up on the wealth hierarchy.

Furthermore, the inherent problem of fewer resources per person is not really solved, so an increasingly large share of jobs become “service” jobs, using only a small quantity of energy products, but also providing little true benefit to the economy. The wages for these jobs are thus low. The addition of these low-paid jobs to the economy further reinforces the hierarchical nature of the system.

In a sense, what is happening is that the economy as a whole is growing very little in output of goods and services. An ever-larger share of the output is going to the wealthier members of the economy, because of increased hierarchical behavior and because of growth in debt and dividend payments. Non-elite members of the economy find their wages falling in inflation adjusted terms, because, in a sense, the productivity of their labor as leveraged by a falling amount of energy resources is gradually contracting, rather than increasing. It becomes increasingly difficult for the low-paid members of the economy to “pay the wages” of the high-paid members of the economy, so overall demand for goods and services tends to contract. As a result, the increasingly hierarchical behavior of the economy pushes the economy even more toward contraction.

Item 4. Increased difficulty in obtaining adequate funding for government programs.

Governments operate on the surpluses of an economy. As an economy finds itself in a squeeze (job loss, more workers with lower wages, fewer goods and services being produced), governments find themselves increasingly called upon to deal with these problems. Governments may need larger armies to try to obtain resources elsewhere, or they may be needed to build a public works project (like a dam, to get more water and hydroelectric power), or they may need to make transfer payments to displaced workers. Here again, Turchin and Nefedov found governmental funding to be one of the problems of economies reaching limits.

Energy products are unique in that their value to society can be quite different from their cost of extraction. A third value, which may be different from either of the first two values, is the selling price of the energy product. When the cost of producing energy products is low, the wide difference between the value to society and the cost of extraction can be used to fund government programs and to raise the wages of workers. In fact, this difference seems to be a primary reason why economic growth occurs. (This difference is not recognized by most economists.)

As the cost of extraction of energy products rises, the difference between the value to society and the cost of extraction falls, because the value to society is pretty close to fixed (except for changes taking place because of energy efficiency changes), based on how far a barrel of oil can move a truck or how many British thermal units of energy it can provide. As the cost of energy extraction rises, it becomes increasingly difficult to obtain enough tax revenue, either from taxing energy products directly, or from taxing wages. Wages tend to reflect the energy consumption required to support each job because supplemental energy acts to leverage the abilities of workers, and thus improves their productivity.

Energy selling prices may behave in a strange manner, as an economy increasingly reaches limits. Falling prices redistribute what gain is available, so that energy importers get more, while energy exporters get less. Of course, the problem we are now seeing is that oil exporting countries are having difficulty obtaining sufficient revenue for their programs.

Debt is different this time

This time truly is different. We should have learned from past experience that debt tends not to be very permanent; it often defaults. We should therefore expect huge periods of debt defaults, and we should expect to need frequent debt jubilees. Economist Michael Hudson reports that the structure of debt was very different in the past (Killing the Host or excerpt). In early times, he found that by far the major creditors were the temples and palaces of Bronze Age Mesopotamia, not private individuals acting on their own. Because of the top-down nature of the debt, it was easy for the temples and palaces to forgive debt and restore balance to the social structure.

Now, especially since World War II, there is a new belief in the permanency of debt, and about its suitability for funding insurance companies, banks, and pension plans. The rise in economic growth after World War II was important in this new belief in permanency, because without economic growth, it is extremely difficult to pay back debt with interest, unless debt is used for a truly productive purpose. (See also Figures 2 and 4, above)

FIgure 6. Ngram showing frequency of words over a period of years, by Google searches in books.

 

 

 

Figure 6. Ngram showing frequency of words over a period of years, by Google searches of a large number of books. Words searched from top to bottom are “economic growth, IRA, financial services, MBA, and pension plans.”

The Ngram chart above, showing the frequency of word searches for “economic growth, IRA (Individual Retirement Accounts), financial services, MBA (Master of Business Administration), and pension plans” indicates that economic growth was essentially a new concept after World War II. Once it became clear that the economy could grow, financial services began to grow, as did the training of MBAs. Pension plans grew at first, but once companies with pension programs found that it was difficult to keep them adequately funded, there was a shift to IRAs. With IRAs, employees are expected to fund their own retirements, generally using a combination of stock and debt purchases.

Now that debt is “reused” and integrated into the economy, it becomes much more difficult to forgive. We have a situation where insurance companies, banks, and pension plans are all tied together. They all depend on the current economic growth paradigm, including use of debt with interest, continued dividend plans, and rising stock market prices. We have a major problem if widespread debt defaults start.

Demographic Bubble

The other problem we are up against, making government funding even more difficult than it would otherwise be, is the retirement of the baby boomers, born soon after World War II. This by itself would be a problem for maintaining adequate government funding. When it is added to multiple other problems, including bailing out banks, insurance companies, and pension plans if there are debt defaults, the demographic bubble leaves us in much worse shape than economies that reached limits in the past.

Note that High Energy Prices Are Not on the List of Expected Problems

The idea that as we approach limits, we should expect ever-higher energy prices, is simply not true. It should be viewed as a superstition, or as an erroneous understanding of our current situation, based on a poor model of energy supply and demand. Turchin and Nefedov found evidence of spiking food prices, perhaps similar to the spiking we saw in energy prices as we approached the peak in prices in 2008. But with wages of non-elite workers falling too low, especially on an after-tax basis, it was hard for prices to continue to spike.

The idea that collapse can come from low prices, rather than high, is something that is not obvious, unless a person thinks through the situation carefully. Prices seem to be primarily influenced by two factors:

(1) Wages of non-elite workers. These wages are important because there is such a large number of them. If their wages are high enough, they buy homes, cars, and other products that are big users of commodities, both when they are made, and as they are operated.

(2) Increases or decreases in the amount of debt outstanding. If debt defaults start to rise, it is very easy for growth in the quantity of debt outstanding to slow, or even to fall. In such a case, low commodity prices, rather than high, become a problem. As economic growth slows, we should expect more debt defaults, not fewer. There is also a limit to how high Debt/GDP ratios can rise before many suspect that the world economy functions much like a Ponzi Scheme.

Mark Twain wrote, “It ain’t what you know that gets you in trouble. It’s what you know for sure, that just ain’t so.” This is especially a problem for academic researchers who depend on the precedents of past academic papers. A researcher may have come to a conclusion years ago, based on a narrow set of research that didn’t cover today’s conditions. The belief can get carried forward endlessly, even though it isn’t really true in today’s situation.

If we are going to figure out the real answer to how the economy operates, we need to look closely at indications from many areas of research. Such an approach can allow us to see the situation in a broader context and thus “weed out” firmly held beliefs that aren’t really true.

Age 36 @ Minimum Wage

Off the keyboard of Michael Snyder

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Published on The Economic Collapse on May 10, 2015

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The Average Age Of A Minimum Wage Worker In America Is 36

Dollar Stacks - Public DomainDid you know that 89 percent of all minimum wage workers in the United States are not teens?  At this point, the average age of a minimum wage worker in this country is 36, and 56 percent of them are women.  Millions upon millions of Americans are working as hard as they can (often that means two or three jobs), and yet despite all of their hard work they still find themselves mired in poverty.  One of the big reasons for this is that we have created two classes of workers in the United States.  “Full-time workers” are entitled to an array of benefits and protections by law that “part-time workers” do not get.  And thanks to perverse incentives contained in Obamacare and other ridiculous laws, we have motivated employers to move as many workers from the “full-time” category to the “part-time” category as possible.  It may be hard to believe, but right now only 44 percent of all U.S. adults are employed for 30 or more hours each week.  But to get any kind of a job at all is a real challenge in many parts of the country today.  As you read this article, there are more than 100 million working age Americans that are not employed in any capacity.  And according to John Williams of shadowstats.com, if the federal government was actually using honest numbers the unemployment rate would be sitting at 23 percent.  That is not an “employment recovery” – that is a national crisis.

The following infographic comes from the Economic Policy Institute.  I certainly do not agree with a lot of the things that the Economic Policy Institute stands for, but I think that these numbers do accurately reflect what “part-time America” looks like today…

Minimum Wage - Economic Policy Institute

So what is the solution to this problem?

Most Democrats believe that raising the minimum wage would fix this.  But as Zero Hedge has pointed out, it isn’t quite that simple…

Last week, we noted that Democratic lawmakers in the US are pushing for what they call “$12 by ’20” which, as the name implies, is an effort to raise the minimum wage to $12/hour over the course of the next five years. Republicans argue that if Democrats got their wish and the pay floor were increased by nearly 70%, it would do more harm than good for low-income Americans as the number of jobs that would be lost as a result of employers cutting back in the face of dramatically higher labor costs would offset the benefit that accrues to the workers who are lucky enough to keep their jobs.

Yes, raising the minimum wage would make life better for many minimum wage workers in America.  But a large number of them would also lose their jobs completely, and a lot of small businesses would deeply suffer financially.

Ideally, what we would love to see happen is for the U.S. economy to be producing so many good jobs that the only people that are looking for entry-level part-time jobs would be teens, people just starting out in the workforce, etc.  Back when I was a teen, I remember walking into a McDonald’s and getting hired on the spot because they were in dire need of workers.  Sadly, those days are long, long gone.

Over the past several decades, millions of good paying American jobs have been shipped overseas, and millions more have been lost to advancing technology.  And as I wrote about the other day, Barack Obama is deeply betraying American workers by working on a global economic treaty that would destroy millions more good paying jobs.

Thanks to the foolishness of our politicians, there is now intense competition even for minimum wage jobs at this point.

We keep hearing about an “employment recovery”, but it is a giant lie.  Posted below is a chart of the civilian employment to population ratio.  As you can see, the percentage of the working age population that is actually employed is much, much lower than it used to be…

Employment Population Ratio 2015

In recent months, we have seen the employment-population ratio move slightly higher.  But can this be called “an employment recovery”?  Of course not.  We are still way, way below the level that we were at just prior to the last recession, and now the next recession is just about upon us.

Meanwhile, the quality of our jobs continues to decline as more Americans are being pushed into “part-time work” with each passing year.

Since February of 2008, the size of the U.S. population has grown by 16.8 million people.  But during that same time frame, the number of full-time jobs in this country has actually decreased.

And at this point, the majority of American workers simply do not make enough money to support a middle class family.  The following income numbers come directly from the Social Security Administration

-39 percent of American workers make less than $20,000 a year.

-52 percent of American workers make less than $30,000 a year.

-63 percent of American workers make less than $40,000 a year.

-72 percent of American workers make less than $50,000 a year.

Are you starting to see why I am so fired up about all of this?

We have developed a business culture in this country which does not care about workers.  In business schools all over America, future executives are taught that a corporation only has one goal – to maximize wealth for the shareholders.  Taking care of those that are part of your team is treated as an afterthought at best.

As corporations have gotten bigger, they have shown less and less concern for those that work for them.  These days, employees are generally regarded as “expensive liabilities” that are to be discarded the moment that their usefulness has come to an end.  And news of layoffs is often rewarded by Wall Street by a surge in the stock prices of the companies making those layoffs.

In the old days, more businesses in America were family-owned, and employees were often regarded as almost “part of the family”.  Unfortunately, those days have disappeared forever.

Now, employees are treated like scum by many big companies, and if they don’t like how they are being treated they are told that they can leave.  For example, just consider what was going on at a security company down in Florida

Jose Molero worked as a site inspector for the company, which provides security for neighborhoods and companies across the country, for more than a year.

Molero says when he went to the Kensington Golf and Country Club guardhouse, he found wooden paddles on a desk, some with staff names on them and one reading “for staff discipline.”

He says there was also what is called a “Wall of Shame,” where the supervisor points out and posts reports that contain grammatical errors.

When Molero complained about these things to his district manager, he was told that if anyone was offended “maybe they shouldn’t work here”…

Molero contacted his operations manager, who told him to speak with the district manager. He says the district manager sent him an email response that said, “if that hurts their feelings then maybe they shouldn’t work here.”

Do you have a similar horror story to share?

Most of us do.

The U.S. economy is absolutely dominated by cold, heartless corporations that have no interest in listening to the little guy.  If they could find a way to do it, many of them would operate with no low-level employees at all.  And as technology continues to advance, they will replace as many of us as they can with robots, drones, machines and computers.

I’ll be honest with you – the future for workers in America looks really bleak.  The competition for any jobs that can’t be shipped overseas or replaced by technology is going to become even more heated.  This means that the middle class is going to get even smaller, the number of Americans dependent on the government is going to continue to explode, and the disparity between the wealthy and the poor is going to become even greater.

Inflation, Deflation & FOOD!

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Aired on the Doomstead Diner on September 26, 2014

inflation-or-deflation

Discuss this Article & Rant at the Economics Table inside the Diner

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http://www.free-workout-routines.net/image-files/speed-bag-workout.jpgBefore getting into my rant on this timelessly popular topic in the Collapse-Econ Blogosphere, it’s worthwhile to review some of the Data and Tables tracking Inflation and the disappearing Middle Class in the FSoA for some background.

First, a month by month table for Annual Inflation Rates from 1913 to the Present.  If you look at this table in detail, you’ll probably be a bit surprised about how far the numbers deviate from the storyline that Da Federal Reserve has kept Inflation contained over the last Century.

If you don’t like to review tables, that is what the Rant is for that follows here. 🙂 The Rant looks at the last 40 years from 1970 to present day from Important Parameters everybody is concerned with, Pizza, Gas, College Tuitions & Paychecks.  Scroll down to the bottom here and just listen if you don’t feel like reviewing tables.  I suggest strapping on some Boxing Gloves and listening while working out on the Speed Bag.  Downloads available on the Diner.

Historical Annual U.S. Inflation Rate from 1913 to the present
Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Annual
2014 1.58 % 1.13 % 1.51 % 1.95 % 2.13 % 2.07 % 1.99 % 1.70 %
2013 1.59 % 1.98 % 1.47 % 1.06 % 1.36 % 1.75 % 1.96 % 1.52 % 1.18 % 0.96 % 1.24 % 1.50 % 1.47 %
2012 2.93 % 2.87 % 2.65 % 2.30 % 1.70 % 1.66 % 1.41 % 1.69 % 1.99 % 2.16 % 1.76 % 1.74 % 2.07 %
2011 1.63 % 2.11 % 2.68 % 3.16 % 3.57 % 3.56 % 3.63 % 3.77 % 3.87 % 3.53 % 3.39 % 2.96 % 3.16 %
2010 2.63 % 2.14 % 2.31 % 2.24 % 2.02 % 1.05 % 1.24 % 1.15 % 1.14 % 1.17 % 1.14 % 1.50 % 1.64 %
2009 0.03 % 0.24 % -0.38 % -0.74 % -1.28 % -1.43 % -2.10 % -1.48 % -1.29 % -0.18 % 1.84 % 2.72 % -0.34 %
2008 4.28 % 4.03 % 3.98 % 3.94 % 4.18 % 5.02 % 5.60 % 5.37 % 4.94 % 3.66 % 1.07 % 0.09 % 3.85 %
2007 2.08 % 2.42 % 2.78 % 2.57 % 2.69 % 2.69 % 2.36 % 1.97 % 2.76 % 3.54 % 4.31 % 4.08 % 2.85 %
2006 3.99 % 3.60 % 3.36 % 3.55 % 4.17 % 4.32 % 4.15 % 3.82 % 2.06 % 1.31 % 1.97 % 2.54 % 3.24 %
2005 2.97 % 3.01 % 3.15 % 3.51 % 2.80 % 2.53 % 3.17 % 3.64 % 4.69 % 4.35 % 3.46 % 3.42 % 3.39 %
2004 1.93 % 1.69 % 1.74 % 2.29 % 3.05 % 3.27 % 2.99 % 2.65 % 2.54 % 3.19 % 3.52 % 3.26 % 2.68 %
2003 2.60 % 2.98 % 3.02 % 2.22 % 2.06 % 2.11 % 2.11 % 2.16 % 2.32 % 2.04 % 1.77 % 1.88 % 2.27 %
2002 1.14 % 1.14 % 1.48 % 1.64 % 1.18 % 1.07 % 1.46 % 1.80 % 1.51 % 2.03 % 2.20 % 2.38 % 1.59 %
2001 3.73 % 3.53 % 2.92 % 3.27 % 3.62 % 3.25 % 2.72 % 2.72 % 2.65 % 2.13 % 1.90 % 1.55 % 2.83 %
2000 2.74 % 3.22 % 3.76 % 3.07 % 3.19 % 3.73 % 3.66 % 3.41 % 3.45 % 3.45 % 3.45 % 3.39 % 3.38 %
1999 1.67 % 1.61 % 1.73 % 2.28 % 2.09 % 1.96 % 2.14 % 2.26 % 2.63 % 2.56 % 2.62 % 2.68 % 2.19 %
1998 1.57 % 1.44 % 1.37 % 1.44 % 1.69 % 1.68 % 1.68 % 1.62 % 1.49 % 1.49 % 1.55 % 1.61 % 1.55 %
1997 3.04 % 3.03 % 2.76 % 2.50 % 2.23 % 2.30 % 2.23 % 2.23 % 2.15 % 2.08 % 1.83 % 1.70 % 2.34 %
1996 2.73 % 2.65 % 2.84 % 2.90 % 2.89 % 2.75 % 2.95 % 2.88 % 3.00 % 2.99 % 3.26 % 3.32 % 2.93 %
1995 2.80 % 2.86 % 2.85 % 3.05 % 3.19 % 3.04 % 2.76 % 2.62 % 2.54 % 2.81 % 2.61 % 2.54 % 2.81 %
1994 2.52 % 2.52 % 2.51 % 2.36 % 2.29 % 2.49 % 2.77 % 2.90 % 2.96 % 2.61 % 2.67 % 2.67 % 2.61 %
1993 3.26 % 3.25 % 3.09 % 3.23 % 3.22 % 3.00 % 2.78 % 2.77 % 2.69 % 2.75 % 2.68 % 2.75 % 2.96 %
1992 2.60 % 2.82 % 3.19 % 3.18 % 3.02 % 3.09 % 3.16 % 3.15 % 2.99 % 3.20 % 3.05 % 2.90 % 3.03 %
1991 5.65 % 5.31 % 4.90 % 4.89 % 4.95 % 4.70 % 4.45 % 3.80 % 3.39 % 2.92 % 2.99 % 3.06 % 4.25 %
1990 5.20 % 5.26 % 5.23 % 4.71 % 4.36 % 4.67 % 4.82 % 5.62 % 6.16 % 6.29 % 6.27 % 6.11 % 5.39 %
1989 4.67 % 4.83 % 4.98 % 5.12 % 5.36 % 5.17 % 4.98 % 4.71 % 4.34 % 4.49 % 4.66 % 4.65 % 4.83 %
1988 4.05 % 3.94 % 3.93 % 3.90 % 3.89 % 3.96 % 4.13 % 4.02 % 4.17 % 4.25 % 4.25 % 4.42 % 4.08 %
1987 1.46 % 2.10 % 3.03 % 3.78 % 3.86 % 3.65 % 3.93 % 4.28 % 4.36 % 4.53 % 4.53 % 4.43 % 3.66 %
1986 3.89 % 3.11 % 2.26 % 1.59 % 1.49 % 1.77 % 1.58 % 1.57 % 1.75 % 1.47 % 1.28 % 1.10 % 1.91 %
1985 3.53 % 3.52 % 3.70 % 3.69 % 3.77 % 3.76 % 3.55 % 3.35 % 3.14 % 3.23 % 3.51 % 3.80 % 3.55 %
1984 4.19 % 4.60 % 4.80 % 4.56 % 4.23 % 4.22 % 4.20 % 4.29 % 4.27 % 4.26 % 4.05 % 3.95 % 4.30 %
1983 3.71 % 3.49 % 3.60 % 3.90 % 3.55 % 2.58 % 2.46 % 2.56 % 2.86 % 2.85 % 3.27 % 3.79 % 3.22 %
1982 8.39 % 7.62 % 6.78 % 6.51 % 6.68 % 7.06 % 6.44 % 5.85 % 5.04 % 5.14 % 4.59 % 3.83 % 6.16 %
1981 11.83 % 11.41 % 10.49 % 10.00 % 9.78 % 9.55 % 10.76 % 10.80 % 10.95 % 10.14 % 9.59 % 8.92 % 10.35 %
1980 13.91 % 14.18 % 14.76 % 14.73 % 14.41 % 14.38 % 13.13 % 12.87 % 12.60 % 12.77 % 12.65 % 12.52 % 13.58 %
1979 9.28 % 9.86 % 10.09 % 10.49 % 10.85 % 10.89 % 11.26 % 11.82 % 12.18 % 12.07 % 12.61 % 13.29 % 11.22 %
1978 6.84 % 6.43 % 6.55 % 6.50 % 6.97 % 7.41 % 7.70 % 7.84 % 8.31 % 8.93 % 8.89 % 9.02 % 7.62 %
1977 5.22 % 5.91 % 6.44 % 6.95 % 6.73 % 6.87 % 6.83 % 6.62 % 6.60 % 6.39 % 6.72 % 6.70 % 6.50 %
1976 6.72 % 6.29 % 6.07 % 6.05 % 6.20 % 5.97 % 5.35 % 5.71 % 5.49 % 5.46 % 4.88 % 4.86 % 5.75 %
1975 11.80 % 11.23 % 10.25 % 10.21 % 9.47 % 9.39 % 9.72 % 8.60 % 7.91 % 7.44 % 7.38 % 6.94 % 9.20 %
1974 9.39 % 10.02 % 10.39 % 10.09 % 10.71 % 10.86 % 11.51 % 10.86 % 11.95 % 12.06 % 12.20 % 12.34 % 11.03 %
1973 3.65 % 3.87 % 4.59 % 5.06 % 5.53 % 6.00 % 5.73 % 7.38 % 7.36 % 7.80 % 8.25 % 8.71 % 6.16 %
1972 3.27 % 3.51 % 3.50 % 3.49 % 3.23 % 2.71 % 2.95 % 2.94 % 3.19 % 3.42 % 3.67 % 3.41 % 3.27 %
1971 5.29 % 5.00 % 4.71 % 4.16 % 4.40 % 4.64 % 4.36 % 4.62 % 4.08 % 3.81 % 3.28 % 3.27 % 4.30 %
1970 6.18 % 6.15 % 5.82 % 6.06 % 6.04 % 6.01 % 5.98 % 5.41 % 5.66 % 5.63 % 5.60 % 5.57 % 5.84 %
1969 4.40 % 4.68 % 5.25 % 5.52 % 5.51 % 5.48 % 5.44 % 5.71 % 5.70 % 5.67 % 5.93 % 6.20 % 5.46 %
1968 3.65 % 3.95 % 3.94 % 3.93 % 3.92 % 4.20 % 4.49 % 4.48 % 4.46 % 4.75 % 4.73 % 4.72 % 4.27 %
1967 3.46 % 2.81 % 2.80 % 2.48 % 2.79 % 2.78 % 2.77 % 2.45 % 2.75 % 2.43 % 2.74 % 3.04 % 2.78 %
1966 1.92 % 2.56 % 2.56 % 2.87 % 2.87 % 2.53 % 2.85 % 3.48 % 3.48 % 3.79 % 3.79 % 3.46 % 3.01 %
1965 0.97 % 0.97 % 1.29 % 1.62 % 1.62 % 1.94 % 1.61 % 1.94 % 1.61 % 1.93 % 1.60 % 1.92 % 1.59 %
1964 1.64 % 1.64 % 1.31 % 1.31 % 1.31 % 1.31 % 1.30 % 0.98 % 1.30 % 0.97 % 1.30 % 0.97 % 1.28 %
1963 1.33 % 1.00 % 1.33 % 0.99 % 0.99 % 1.32 % 1.32 % 1.32 % 0.99 % 1.32 % 1.32 % 1.64 % 1.24 %
1962 0.67 % 1.01 % 1.01 % 1.34 % 1.34 % 1.34 % 1.00 % 1.34 % 1.33 % 1.33 % 1.33 % 1.33 % 1.20 %
1961 1.71 % 1.36 % 1.36 % 1.02 % 1.02 % 0.68 % 1.35 % 1.01 % 1.35 % 0.67 % 0.67 % 0.67 % 1.07 %
1960 1.03 % 1.73 % 1.73 % 1.72 % 1.72 % 1.72 % 1.37 % 1.37 % 1.02 % 1.36 % 1.36 % 1.36 % 1.46 %
1959 1.40 % 1.05 % 0.35 % 0.35 % 0.35 % 0.69 % 0.69 % 1.04 % 1.38 % 1.73 % 1.38 % 1.73 % 1.01 %
1958 3.62 % 3.25 % 3.60 % 3.58 % 3.21 % 2.85 % 2.47 % 2.12 % 2.12 % 2.12 % 2.11 % 1.76 % 2.73 %
1957 2.99 % 3.36 % 3.73 % 3.72 % 3.70 % 3.31 % 3.28 % 3.66 % 3.28 % 2.91 % 3.27 % 2.90 % 3.34 %
1956 0.37 % 0.37 % 0.37 % 0.75 % 1.12 % 1.87 % 2.24 % 1.87 % 1.86 % 2.23 % 2.23 % 2.99 % 1.52 %
1955 -0.74 % -0.74 % -0.74 % -0.37 % -0.74 % -0.74 % -0.37 % -0.37 % 0.37 % 0.37 % 0.37 % 0.37 % -0.28 %
1954 1.13 % 1.51 % 1.13 % 0.75 % 0.75 % 0.37 % 0.37 % 0.00 % -0.37 % -0.74 % -0.37 % -0.74 % 0.32 %
1953 0.38 % 0.76 % 1.14 % 0.76 % 1.14 % 1.13 % 0.37 % 0.75 % 0.75 % 1.12 % 0.75 % 0.75 % 0.82 %
1952 4.33 % 2.33 % 1.94 % 2.33 % 1.93 % 2.32 % 3.09 % 3.09 % 2.30 % 1.91 % 1.14 % 0.75 % 2.29 %
1951 8.09 % 9.36 % 9.32 % 9.32 % 9.28 % 8.82 % 7.47 % 6.58 % 6.97 % 6.50 % 6.88 % 6.00 % 7.88 %
1950 -2.08 % -1.26 % -0.84 % -1.26 % -0.42 % -0.42 % 1.69 % 2.10 % 2.09 % 3.80 % 3.78 % 5.93 % 1.09 %
1949 1.27 % 1.28 % 1.71 % 0.42 % -0.42 % -0.83 % -2.87 % -2.86 % -2.45 % -2.87 % -1.65 % -2.07 % -0.95 %
1948 10.23 % 9.30 % 6.85 % 8.68 % 9.13 % 9.55 % 9.91 % 8.89 % 6.52 % 6.09 % 4.76 % 2.99 % 7.74 %
1947 18.13 % 18.78 % 19.67 % 19.02 % 18.38 % 17.65 % 12.12 % 11.39 % 12.75 % 10.58 % 8.45 % 8.84 % 14.65 %
1946 2.25 % 1.69 % 2.81 % 3.37 % 3.35 % 3.31 % 9.39 % 11.60 % 12.71 % 14.92 % 17.68 % 18.13 % 8.43 %
1945 2.30 % 2.30 % 2.30 % 1.71 % 2.29 % 2.84 % 2.26 % 2.26 % 2.26 % 2.26 % 2.26 % 2.25 % 2.27 %
1944 2.96 % 2.96 % 1.16 % 0.57 % 0.00 % 0.57 % 1.72 % 2.31 % 1.72 % 1.72 % 1.72 % 2.30 % 1.64 %
1943 7.64 % 6.96 % 7.50 % 8.07 % 7.36 % 7.36 % 6.10 % 4.85 % 5.45 % 4.19 % 3.57 % 2.96 % 6.00 %
1942 11.35 % 12.06 % 12.68 % 12.59 % 13.19 % 10.88 % 11.56 % 10.74 % 9.27 % 9.15 % 9.09 % 9.03 % 10.97 %
1941 1.44 % 0.71 % 1.43 % 2.14 % 2.86 % 4.26 % 5.00 % 6.43 % 7.86 % 9.29 % 10.00 % 9.93 % 5.11 %
1940 -0.71 % 0.72 % 0.72 % 1.45 % 1.45 % 2.17 % 1.45 % 1.45 % -0.71 % 0.00 % 0.00 % 0.71 % 0.73 %
1939 -1.41 % -1.42 % -1.42 % -2.82 % -2.13 % -2.13 % -2.13 % -2.13 % 0.00 % 0.00 % 0.00 % 0.00 % -1.30 %
1938 0.71 % 0.00 % -0.70 % -0.70 % -2.08 % -2.08 % -2.76 % -2.76 % -3.42 % -4.11 % -3.45 % -2.78 % -2.01 %
1937 2.17 % 2.17 % 3.65 % 4.38 % 5.11 % 4.35 % 4.32 % 3.57 % 4.29 % 4.29 % 3.57 % 2.86 % 3.73 %
1936 1.47 % 0.73 % 0.00 % -0.72 % -0.72 % 0.73 % 1.46 % 2.19 % 2.19 % 2.19 % 1.45 % 1.45 % 1.04 %
1935 3.03 % 3.01 % 3.01 % 3.76 % 3.76 % 2.24 % 2.24 % 2.24 % 0.74 % 1.48 % 2.22 % 2.99 % 2.56 %
1934 2.33 % 4.72 % 5.56 % 5.56 % 5.56 % 5.51 % 2.29 % 1.52 % 3.03 % 2.27 % 2.27 % 1.52 % 3.51 %
1933 -9.79 % -9.93 % -10.00 % -9.35 % -8.03 % -6.62 % -3.68 % -2.22 % -1.49 % -0.75 % 0.00 % 0.76 % -5.09 %
1932 -10.06 % -10.19 % -10.26 % -10.32 % -10.46 % -9.93 % -9.93 % -10.60 % -10.67 % -10.74 % -10.20 % -10.27 % -10.30 %
1931 -7.02 % -7.65 % -7.69 % -8.82 % -9.47 % -10.12 % -9.04 % -8.48 % -9.64 % -9.70 % -10.37 % -9.32 % -8.94 %
1930 0.00 % -0.58 % -0.59 % 0.59 % -0.59 % -1.75 % -4.05 % -4.62 % -4.05 % -4.62 % -5.20 % -6.40 % -2.66 %
1929 -1.16 % 0.00 % -0.58 % -1.17 % -1.16 % 0.00 % 1.17 % 1.17 % 0.00 % 0.58 % 0.58 % 0.58 % 0.00 %
1928 -1.14 % -1.72 % -1.16 % -1.16 % -1.15 % -2.84 % -1.16 % -0.58 % 0.00 % -1.15 % -0.58 % -1.16 % -1.15 %
1927 -2.23 % -2.79 % -2.81 % -3.35 % -2.25 % -0.56 % -1.14 % -1.15 % -1.14 % -1.14 % -2.26 % -2.26 % -1.92 %
1926 3.47 % 4.07 % 2.89 % 4.07 % 2.89 % 1.14 % -1.13 % -1.69 % -1.13 % -0.56 % -1.67 % -1.12 % 0.94 %
1925 0.00 % 0.00 % 1.17 % 1.18 % 1.76 % 2.94 % 3.51 % 4.12 % 3.51 % 2.91 % 4.65 % 3.47 % 2.44 %
1924 2.98 % 2.38 % 1.79 % 0.59 % 0.59 % 0.00 % -0.58 % -0.58 % -0.58 % -0.58 % -0.58 % 0.00 % 0.45 %
1923 -0.59 % -0.59 % 0.60 % 1.20 % 1.20 % 1.80 % 2.38 % 3.01 % 3.61 % 3.59 % 2.98 % 2.37 % 1.80 %
1922 -11.05 % -8.15 % -8.74 % -7.73 % -5.65 % -5.11 % -5.08 % -6.21 % -5.14 % -4.57 % -3.45 % -2.31 % -6.10 %
1921 -1.55 % -5.64 % -7.11 % -10.84 % -14.08 % -15.79 % -14.90 % -12.81 % -12.50 % -12.06 % -12.12 % -10.82 % -10.85 %
1920 16.97 % 20.37 % 20.12 % 21.56 % 21.89 % 23.67 % 19.54 % 14.69 % 12.36 % 9.94 % 7.03 % 2.65 % 15.90 %
1919 17.86 % 14.89 % 17.14 % 17.61 % 16.55 % 14.97 % 15.23 % 14.94 % 13.38 % 13.13 % 13.50 % 14.55 % 15.31 %
1918 19.66 % 17.50 % 16.67 % 12.70 % 13.28 % 13.08 % 17.97 % 18.46 % 18.05 % 18.52 % 20.74 % 20.44 % 17.26 %
1917 12.50 % 15.38 % 14.29 % 18.87 % 19.63 % 20.37 % 18.52 % 19.27 % 19.82 % 19.47 % 17.39 % 18.10 % 17.80 %
1916 2.97 % 4.00 % 6.06 % 6.00 % 5.94 % 6.93 % 6.93 % 7.92 % 9.90 % 10.78 % 11.65 % 12.62 % 7.64 %
1915 1.00 % 1.01 % 0.00 % 2.04 % 2.02 % 2.02 % 1.00 % -0.98 % -0.98 % 0.99 % 0.98 % 1.98 % 0.92 %
1914 2.04 % 1.02 % 1.02 % 0.00 % 2.06 % 1.02 % 1.01 % 3.03 % 2.00 % 1.00 % 0.99 % 1.00 % 1.35 %

Next, here are some great tables presented by Ben Casselman on FiveThirtyEight Economics:

In 1988, the typical American adult was 40 years old, white and married, with a high school diploma. If he was a man, he probably worked full time. If she was a woman, she probably didn’t.

Twenty-five years later, Americans are older, more diverse and more educated. We are less likely to be married and more likely to live alone. Work is divided more evenly between the sexes. One thing that hasn’t changed? The income of the median U.S. household is still just under $52,000.

The government’s release last week of income and poverty data for 2013 brought renewed attention to the apparent stagnation of the American middle class — not just since the financial crisis hit six years ago this month, but for much of the decade that preceded the crash. The report showed that the economic recovery has yet to translate into higher incomes for the typical American family. After adjusting for inflation, U.S. median household income is still 8 percent lower than it was before the recession, 9 percent lower than at its peak in 1999, and essentially unchanged since the end of the Reagan administration.

“As a country,” New York magazine’s Annie Lowrey wrote Friday, “we peaked in the late 1990s.”

There’s little doubt that the past 15 years have been hard ones for the middle class. But median income isn’t necessarily the best way to show that. The problem is that changes in median income reflect several trends all jumbled together: the aging of the population, changing patterns in work and schooling, and the evolving makeup of the American family, as well as long- and short-term trends in the economy itself. Understanding the state of the American middle class requires digging a bit deeper than median income alone.

Let’s start with what median income does measure: the amount of money earned by the household at the midpoint of the U.S. income distribution — half of households make more, and half make less. Journalists, including me, often refer to it as the amount earned1 by the “typical household,” which is true as long as we’re talking about a moment in time. But as soon as we start talking about change over time, median income becomes trickier to interpret.

casselman-feature-income-tableTo understand why, imagine a simple model in which there are five people. The poorest makes $30,000 a year and the richest $70,000, with the other three evenly distributed in between. The group’s median income would be $50,000. The next year, everyone gets a $10,000 raise — except the richest person, who retires and starts drawing a $40,000-a-year pension. Most people see their income go up, but the median remains unchanged.2

This scenario is oversimplified, but it illustrates a trend. On average, people’s earnings rise in their 20s and 30s, peak sometime in their late 40s or early 50s, and then decline when they retire.3 All else equal, the retirement of the baby boom generation should push down the overall median income.

Aging, at least, is fairly easy to control for. We can look, for example, at how much money people earned at a given point in their lives. The charts below show median income over time for specific ages.4 The details differ, but the trend is similar: Incomes generally rose until 2000 and have generally fallen since then. The aging population certainly isn’t helping the overall decline in incomes, but it isn’t causing it either.5

casselman-feature-income-1

But aging isn’t the only trend that could be skewing the median. Fewer Americans are getting married, and they’re having fewer children. That means the size of the typical U.S. household is shrinking — which is important, because it costs more to support more people. There’s a big difference between an individual living on $50,000 a year and a family of four doing the same. To account for this, economists often adjust incomes for household size, scaling up the income for the person living alone and adjusting it down for the family of four.6

As the chart below shows, adjusting for household size makes a significant difference before 2000. But since then, the trends line up closely.7 The shrinking U.S. household doesn’t explain the past 15 years of stagnation.

casselman-feature-income-2

The U.S. is changing in other ways, too: by race, by education, and by the region where they live. But almost no matter how we break down the population, incomes are down since 1999. Moreover, most groups saw little if any improvement in income between 1999 and 2007, before the recession began.

casselman-feature-income-3

Another problem with focusing on median income is that it only tells us about households in the middle — it doesn’t reveal anything about households elsewhere in the income distribution. And middle class incomes haven’t just been stagnant. The middle class itself has also been shrinking.

In 1970, 55 percent of U.S. income was earned by households in the middle 60 percent of the income distribution. More than half of households were in what Pew Research Center has labeled the “middle tier” of households (those earning between two-thirds and twice the median income). In 2013, both numbers had fallen to about 45 percent. In a 2012 report, Pew researchers called the 2000s “the lost decade of the middle class.”

casselman-feature-income-4

One common definition of the American dream is the belief that each generation will do better than the one before. By that measure, the dream is fading. Take the generation born in 1970. In early adulthood, these Americans outearned their parents, those born in 1950. But their gains stalled in the 2000s, when they were in their 30s. Now in their 40s, their earnings have fallen behind those of their parents at the same stage in their lives.

casselman-feature-income-5

The picture painted by all these figures is the same: The middle class was struggling in the 2000s despite an economy that was, by conventional measures, strong. The recession turned stagnation into an outright decline, and the recovery has thus far been too weak to claw back much of what was lost.

Now let’s FLASHBACK to 1970 to look at some of the Prices and Wages for that year, before I get Ranting on this one:


Economy
President:  Richard M. Nixon 
Vice President:  Spiro T. Agnew 

Population: 
205,052,174 
Life expectancy:  70.8 years 

Dow-Jones 
 
High:  842 (RE Note: Dow Jones today @ 16, 945! 2000% Increase there!)
Low:  669 

Federal spending: 
$195.65 billion (RE Note: 2014 @ $3.77 TRILLION!  Also around 2000% increase!)
Federal debt:  $380.9 billion  (RE Note: CHUMP CHANGE! Da Fed issues that much out every 3-5 months or so now!)
Inflation:  6.5% 
Consumer Price Index:  38.8 
Unemployment:  3.5% 
Prices
Cost of a new home:  $26,600.00 
Cost of a new car: 
Median Household Income:  $8,734.00  (RE Note: 2014 MHI $50K.  Only 600% Increase!  How come J6P doesn’t get QUADRUPLE digit inflation in wages here? Triple Digits is for LOSERS!)
Cost of a first-class stamp:  $0.06 
Cost of a gallon of regular gas:  $0.36 
Cost of a dozen eggs:  $0.62 
Cost of a gallon of Milk:  1.15 

 

What you do need to realize is that Deflation is much more feared than Inflation by anyone in charge of credit creation.  In a deflationary scenario, you can’t issue credit and money essentially disappears from circulation.  Despite the fact the CBs are trying to reinflate through Central credit creation, the credit is not further made available to downstream Biznesses and at the consumer level is near strangulation now except for some specific Goobermint guaranteed Bubbles like Student Loans.  Further consumption cannot occur without further credit being made available at the bottom of the credit food chain, and that simply is not occuring.

With that in mind, and without further ado, today’s Rant tracking Inflation from the 1970s to today. 🙂

Snippet:

http://www.atlantarex.com/urban-pizza-pub-for-sale-in-atlanta/urban-pizza-bar-for-sale-atlanta-pizza-dough.jpg…What got me going on this today was I made a Stop at Fred Myer to pick up a fresh loaf of French Bread to go with my St. Andre Cheese I picked up last week and froze a few of them at $5 each. Very nice cheese this one. As I walked by the Deli Hot counter to the Artisan Bread section, I bypassed a NEW offering, they are now offering By-the-Slice Pizza, just like the old Pizzerias in New York Shity had out when I was a teenager on my way to or from Stuyvesant, or out for Lunch.

In those days, these Pizzas were Hand Tossed by real old Italian Immigrants, or their first generation sons taking over the Biz in many cases. The Tomato Sauce used was different from Pizzeria to Pizzeria, often made from scratch by Grandma from tomatoes grown in the backyard of their Queens tract house. The Slices were a foot long, coming from 24” diameter Hand Tossed Full Pizzas. A slice cost 15-25 cents over those years in the 1970s.

Fast forward to the Fred Myer Pizza Counter. Nobody is Hand Tossing the Pizza Wheel, they cook the pizzas up from the same ones they sell uncooked in boxes in the refrigerated counter. They have a fairly generous supply of cheese and other ingredients dropped on them, but they are 18” wheels, so smaller slices at around 9 inches, which is impressive for a Porn Star but small for a slice of Pizza. Price for one slice of this Pizza? $2….

For the rest, LISTEN TO THE RANT!!!

Do You Want to Avoid the Bottleneck?

Off the keyboard of George Mobus

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Published on Question Everything on November 3, 2013

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Discuss this article at the Population Overshoot Table inside the Diner

That the Bottleneck is Unavoidable

Allow me an indulgence. After more than a decade of searching for answers, and attending to the major trends in our world, I have come to certain conclusions about the future of humanity. I haven’t made a secret of my now fairly firm belief that in the not-too-distant future humanity will suffer an evolutionary bottleneck event concurrent with a sixth major extinction. Ironically this extinction event is being brought on by humanity itself. Freed from the ordinary biological constraints that keep other species in check in normal ecological feedback loops, and bolstered by the discovery of incredible power stored in fossil fuels and nuclear fission, humans have used their cleverness to grow far beyond the natural carrying capacity afforded by real-time solar influx. And the problems caused by this fact have grown obvious to most. We are altering our climate. We are polluting our environment. We are diminishing the quality of soils and water. And we are behaving badly toward one another, as well as the rest of the biosphere.

Nor am I alone in this conclusion. In fact, increasingly, my company is becoming more respectable. For some time people like Paul Ehrlich, Dennis and Donella Meadows, and others have been warning of the dangers coming if humanity didn’t take action (as far back as the 60’s and 70′). Lately they are joined by William Catton, James Lovelock, and even the Astronomer Royal of England, Sir Martin Rees, in sounding alarm bells more loudly and more urgently. James Hansen (formerly of NASA), one of the most outspoken researchers on climate change, has gone radical in protesting the lack of any government action to prevent runaway warming. I suppose you could say I feel a bit vindicated, but that is not really a good feeling. I wish it were not the case.

If you want to know why I am so convinced of this outcome, I have put together a list of things that, from a systems perspective, seem to me to be necessary actions needed to minimize the negative impacts rapidly approaching. We cannot prevent all of those impacts, but in theory if these actions were taken immediately we would be able to salvage some portion of the population and preserve our species (which as long-time readers know I don’t think is actually such a good idea in light of the foolishness we manifest). Note that the situation is entirely systemic. All of the items on this list interact in complex, nonlinear ways so that you can’t just pick and choose the one or ones you think will do the job. All will have to be done, together, for there to be any positive effect. Once you see the list, and ponder the likelihood that our population will do any of them, let alone all, you will understand my conviction.

The list is of actions that are needed (in my hopefully informed estimation) and I derived it from the myriad problems that are growing in intensity and can be found to be caused by us. This list is of actions that would counter those problems. Since I have already written extensively about how this would be the case, I refer newer readers to past posts on topics related to Current Affairs, Political Economy, Evolution, Sapience, and the Human Condition (left sidebar). If you scroll down the page you will see a link to prior years Achieves. You can also do a search on some of the terms I use here to find prior articles on the subjects.

How We Could Save Humanity

Here is the list of minimal actions needed to salvage some semblance of humanity:

  • Stop all reproduction
    No new babies for twenty years at least and then only ten percent of the adult population should be allowed to reproduce afterward.
  • Stop capitalistic profit taking
    Forever. No more capitalism and profiting ever again. Freeze prices and wages (except for the overpaid executives; reduce theirs).
  • Take back the wealth of the top 10%
    It will be needed to support survival activities.
  • Destroy the financial system
    Revert banking to hold savings and eliminate securities and futures markets.
  • Reallocate housing to handle the poor
    Move those living in squalor and homeless into the mansions in the Hamptons (for example)
  • Put all able-bodied men and women to work restoring soils and growing food for local consumption
    Turn all arable and climate-viable land over to permaculture.
  • Begin immediate mass migrations of peoples living in climate danger zones
    For example all of the people of the MENA and central Africa regions are in danger from severe climate change. They will need to be relocated north as far as Russia and Europe.
  • Eliminate all luxury product/service productions
    Re- purpose the capital to producing absolute necessities such as plows! Besides, with some of the above actions there won’t be anyone who could afford to buy luxuries.
  • Redirect all fossil fuel production to supply energy for recycling materials, food production, and migration
    Minimize energy consumption by the public to just that essential to support the above.

Our population size is probably the single most damaging aspect. Even in so-called developing regions that are not using a lot of technology, the damage done to the environment by the sheer overwhelming numbers as they struggle to make a living is tremendous. Those in the developed world enable the population growth in the developing and underdeveloped world through various aid packages and loans. The citizens of the developed world do damage indirectly by consuming huge amounts of resources in non-essential products and services. Collectively the human population of 7 billion people has been estimated to be in overshoot several time over. By one estimate (based on energy footprint analysis) it would take five Earths to support this population and not do damage to the environment. Meanwhile, one our only Earth, the damage accrues and is approaching a point where it can’t be self-healing.

Capitalism and profit taking contribute directly to the consumption of non-renewable and cost-intensive recyclable resources. Indeed it has accelerated the rate of use of even technically renewable resources such as soils and water beyond the steady state so that even these resources are becoming essentially non-renewable in the time scale in which they are being degraded. The financial system employed around the world is totally dependent of growth in order to service the debt it creates in the name of profits. It leads to massive disparities in wealth distribution which in recent years has become truly excessive. Those possessing more wealth than the average are going to need to sacrifice the most.

If some of this sounds familiar that is because much of it is. Some of these actions were taken in the name of communism by Russian and Chinese (and other Asian satellites) communist parties. Undoubtedly this can be branded as socialism at best. And I agree. The communist experiment with socialism ended badly by comparison to the creature luxurious lifestyles of the capitalist west. There is certainly no argument about that. But the situation was entirely different, wasn’t it? Humanity, by the beginning of the Cold War, for example, was just starting to exploit the power of fossil fuels in a super-industrial fashion. WWII had taught us how to maximize our rate of consumption in the west. There was plenty of energy to fund the expansion of the middle class. So the comparison between what happened in the west with what happened in the east is basically unfair. We won the war and so won control over the resources (Russia and China would only slowly understand that they needed to exploit their energy resources to build wealth). Communism/socialism failed to produce wealth because those countries did not have the energy to emulate the west. Well, and because the overseers were corrupt and stupid. That had something to do with the outcomes. But the point is that during that time it was, in principle, feasible to create more wealth over time – to grow. That time has passed. The rules are now quite different.

So please understand that I am not advocating socialism for the sake of an ideology. My point is that the above list represents the only feasible response to the pending disaster. Even with such a response, coordinated by truly wise, intelligent, and benevolent people, there will still be many lost. The situation now is entirely different from what it was after WWI and WWII. Today the whole world faces the crisis. Socialism may be seen as a political response to deprivations (real or imagined) and an economic response to keeping the lower classes from revolt. It may have been motivated by progressive sentiments for fairness and equality, but it had its practical effect when people were living a subsistence lifestyle. Unfortunately it was implemented by mere humans.

Many of you, in fact, may have reacted to items on this list with revulsion (and recognized the actions as having been tried before and failed). I fully expect to get all sorts of comments and e-mails pointing out to me how horrible the idea is. And that is exactly my point. These actions are abhorrent to the vast majority of people from all sorts of political and ideological perspectives. Most people could not even imagine these happening. Whether libertarian (get rid of the coordinators and let us do our own thing), or progressive (growth and abundance for all), the concept of a planned and managed shut down of international and even inter-regional commerce is unthinkable. And that very fact is why we are where we are now. We can’t help it.

What is the Likelihood?

So there it is. I’ve written a lot over the years about these options, in one way or another. There are two critical parameters that are driving us to the brink of oblivion, and one critical cause. The parameters are the population size and total energy consumption (from fossil fuels). A side effect of the capitalistic approach resulting in the great disparity of energy per capita is exacerbating this parameter. The critical cause is our inherent lack of sufficient sapience throughout the population to see the errors of our greed and assumptions about what constitutes a good life, as well as how to best use our cleverness/technology. The two parameters are, in a sense, self correcting by virtue of the bottleneck event. Most of the population (possibly all) will die of starvation, exposure, disease, or conflicts if things continue in this way. Some of the future events may be triggered by the decline in availability of cheap fossil fuels which will surely trigger conflicts, but also translate into higher costs for food and other necessities.

Frankly I do not think there is anything to be done about the critical cause. Biology is at the root of it. Given the broken education system we have (globally) and that it actually is teaching our youth to not try to be wise (or even really intelligent), I cannot see how education will boost whatever native sapience people possess.

Thus I ask: What is the likelihood that humanity can be salvaged? What is the likelihood that leaders of the world will wake up some morning (soon) and realize that they had got it all wrong? How likely is it that the citizens of China will wake up and realize that their old agrarian lifestyle was really the best way to live and give up the idea of making wealth in the cities? How likely is it that the Lloyd Blankfeins and Jamie Dimons of the world will realize that their pursuit of raw profits from trading risks is stupid and killing the world? How likely is it that economists of all stripes will finally realize that their notions of growth and prosperity are actually leading us all to ruin? And how likely is it that people will, in general, come out of denial in time?

Do you see my point? No one will like the program of actions. No one will give up on the hope that we can restore our pursuit of wealth. No one will admit that they have to sacrifice a lot if we are to salvage humanity. At least not until it really is too late for even these actions to make a difference. Indeed, it may already be too late. The rate of glacier and polar ice melting, the anomalous weather patterns, the continued high price of non-conventional oil while the conventional (cheaper) production is in decline, and many other signs may be telling us it is too late. But if it isn’t, if we haven’t passed some hidden tipping point, then our only real hope for salvation lies in taking the actions I’ve outlined. Yet what are the chances we will?

What Other Conclusion Can One Draw?

The logic is certainly simple. Claim: it takes A, B, & C to succeed. Support: link cause and effect in evidence. Fact: No one wants or believes A, B, & C. Fact: nearly everyone needs to agree to act. Ergo: nothing will get done until it is too late.

When the proverbial fecal matter hits the proverbial rotating blades most people will react, of course. They will do what they think is best for them, even if it means robbing or killing. Some will seek shelter in remote areas and solitude as if we were under a zombie attack. My hope is that a few wiser groups will form and isolate themselves in regions that will be relatively stable climate-wise. They will focus on skills in producing the essentials of life based on real-time solar energy inputs. They might survive.

But you may have another conclusion. What is yours, and on what basis do you make it? What evidence do you have? Simply saying you just can’t believe my conclusion is valid is not sufficient. You need to show where my evidence is wrong or that counter evidence exists to warrant another (possible) conclusion. I’m open to arguments with merit. In fact I hope someone can shoot me down on this, for obvious reasons.

Paying Da Bills

Off the Keyboard of RE

 

Discuss this article in the Frosbite Falls Daily Rant inside the Diner

 

First of the Month, BILL PAYING DAY!  Yea, OK it’s now the 8th, but I did START this post on the 1st. Too much Bizness in getting up Blog Posts and the usual Mangement Issues to have enough time to write it all on the 1st.

This is the day for most of us in the FSofA Money Economy where we either GOT IT or we DON’T.  If you GOT IT, life is GOOD. Your CableTV stays on, your Iphone keeps working to Tweet on etc.  If you DON’T GOT IT on the First of the Month, TSHTF for you. All the stuff you take for GRANTED starts dropping off the map.  Your Phone stops working.  The lights and A/C inside your McMansion stop working.  The Banksters send you a Notice of Foreclosure (if you are lucky) and you begin to live in FEAR of the day the Gestapo will show up to evict you.  Da Local Goobermint adds to your PANIC when they threaten to CONDEMN your McMansion because you have not Paid Da Bills!.  Read more of William Hunter Duncan’s story on Off the Grid in Mineapolis to understand that one a bit better.

Overall, I progressed through these stages long ago, and through combination of LUCK and SMARTS they don’t worry me these days when the First of the Month hits too much.  I am Blessed these days with enough money to pay da bills. Has not always been true though, and getting out from under all of it took quite a few Adjustments  to my Lifestyle.  The main one was to learn to live REALLY CHEAP, at least by FSofA standards.

Cheap as I do live though by such Standards, on the First of the Month it’s pretty remarkable to me the Quantity of Dollars I write Checks for.  Rent on the Cabin, the Cell Phone/Internet bill, Electric Bill are direct Checks or Internet Payments I make each month.  Every 6 months my Insurance Bill comes in for the Bugout Machines.  Every 4 months I send a check to my Storage Unit in Springfield, MO, which holds the Flotsam & Jetsam of my Life in the Age of Oil.  Photo Albums of RE the Kid, Wedding Pics from my Marriage, old Report Cards from School, ALL my Texbooks from College (I never sold any of them back to the Bookstore), empty Bottles of Grolsh Beer with the cool Resealable Tops I was going to Bottle Home Brew Beer in and the Jeep I left behind when I moved up to the Last Great Frontier also. Costs me $75/mo to keep all this JUNK in that Storage Unit, along with some decent Camping Gear also.

Anyhow, total all this stuff up, it probably is around $1200/mo give or take. This is BESIDES the money taken out of my Paychecks for Taxes and Med Insurance and does not include the Weekly Money spent filling the Gas Tank on my SUV Ford Explorer, which is the Main Vehicle I use while the Other Bugout Machines sit Idle in the Driveway with Full Tanks of GAS. It also of course does not include my weekly Food purchases, or the Beer or Cancer Sticks I Chain Smoke while writing either.  Those suckers up here are going at around $8 a PACK now.  I got it cut down to around 1/2 pack a day to keep this cost somewhat reasonable, but less than that I can’t write!  When I was in College at Columbia, this Oral Fixation/Habit/Addiction/Slow Suicide only cost me $1 a Pack.
Anyhow, add in these ancillary costs, easy every month just to Live the RE Life of an Iconoclastic Collapse Writer on the Internet, I have to fork out about $2000/mo. Divide by 30 Days in the month, my Daily Living Cost is $66.66/day.  The NUMBER OF THE BEAST! LOL.

Contrast that one against the typical Daily Expenditure of a 3rd Worlder, who has to try to Make Do on $2 a DAY! HTF can he even buy a Pack of Cancerettes, forget EATING!?  If he HAD an SUV,how far could he DRIVE it on $2/day.  1/2 Gallon of Gas, maybe he gets 10 Miles out of this. If all you get is 10 miles out of the vehicle, you might as well Bicycle it. Even an out of shape person can Bicycle at 10mph.

Globally Speaking, my $66.66/day Cost of Living probably puts me in the Top 0.1% of the Population. In comparison to the REAL PIGMEN though, this doesn’t even cover 10 seconds of flight time for the GulfstreamV Private Jet. It doesn’t cover a THIMBLE FULL of Pinot Noir 1786.  It doesn’t even cover a HAND JOB from a Ford Model! The COL for a real PIGMAN is SUBSTANTIAL!

No idea really what the AVERAGE COL should be for ALL Homo  Sapiens, but I am certainly willing to knock my COL down to $10/day as long as the Iluminati knock their Daily expenses down to that also. Together, if Global Pigmen knockdown to $10/day and “Middle Class” J6P also knocks down to that, we might buy enough time to implement some of AB’s Pie in the Sky Renewable ideas.

Meanwhile though, this situation is just MASSIVE SKEWED, and it has to be corrected ACROSS THE BOARD.

My SOLUTION?  MAX $10/Day  Expenditure of Energy (that is the real cost in the end) for any Homo Sapiens on the Planet.
Hopefully, that buys enough time to avoid an ELE. I’ll sacrifice the Cancerettes AND the Sam Adams to achieve that Goal.

Knarf plays the Doomer Blues

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