Zombies

Zombie Apocalypse

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Published on Peak Surfer on September 18, 2016

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"The scary thing about multiple expansions is that they are reliably mean-reverting — if they run too far, the market always takes it back, sometimes with a vengeance."

   Every time we catch a malodorous whiff of this year’s US Presidential elections, we involuntarily shudder, because regardless of winners or losers, it recalls September 14, 1930, when German voters, abused by post-war sanctions and put upon by financial depression, went to the polls and handed 107 Reichstag seats to the National Socialist Party. It’s useful to notice that the Nazis did not win that — they came in second. It hardly mattered.

Does this history sound familiar?

Hitler began each speech in low, hesitating tones, gradually raising the pitch and volume of his voice then exploding in a climax of frenzied indignation. He combined this with carefully rehearsed hand gestures for maximum effect. He skillfully played on the emotions of the audience bringing the level of excitement higher and higher until the people wound up a wide-eyed, screaming, frenzied mass that surrendered to his will and looked upon him with pseudo-religious adoration.

Reporters compete for Trump's attention  AP Photo/EcanVucci

Hitler offered something to everyone: work to the unemployed; prosperity to failed business people; profits to industry; expansion to the Army; social harmony and an end of class distinctions to idealistic young students; and restoration of German glory to those in despair. He promised to bring order amid chaos; a feeling of unity to all and the chance to belong. He would make Germany strong again; end payment of war reparations to the Allies; tear up the treaty of Versailles; stamp out corruption; keep down Marxism; and deal harshly with the Jews.

 


 

 

 


It helps to plan ahead. That was the main advice we gave in our Post Petroleum Survival Guide and Cookbook in 2006 and Financial Collapse Survival Guide and Cookbook in 2012, and it still holds.

We did not imagine when we wrote those books that collapse would take as long coming as it has, but it is well underway now, just not evenly distributed. Zero Hedge reports:

 

While nobody here …  is saying that a crash is imminent (and there’s no law that says stocks cannot become even more expensive), we continue to maintain our bias against U.S. stocks. We will also take this end-of-summer moment to point out the yawning disconnect between fundamentals (of the U.S. economy and even corporate America) and their stocks. It really is a tale of two cities, one of mediocre fundamentals versus a meteoric rise in markets.

Which brings us back to the Shiller P/E. Much of the run-up over the past few years has been primarily about multiple expansions. And the scary thing about multiple expansions is that they are reliably mean-reverting—if they run too far, the market always takes it back, sometimes with a vengeance. And we are currently almost 70% too far.

Dmitry Orlov’s classic work The Five Stages of Collapse  gives a roadmap to what lies ahead:

Stage 1: Financial collapse. Faith in “business as usual” is lost.


Stage 2: Commercial collapse. Faith that “the market shall provide” is lost.


Stage 3: Political collapse. Faith that “the government will take care of you” is lost.


Stage 4: Social collapse. Faith that “your people will take care of you” is lost.


Stage 5: Cultural collapse. Faith in “the goodness of humanity” is lost.


What Orlov points out is that what is lost is not so much material resources, although those are inexorably diminishing, but confidence (“with faith-ness”) that affects everyone — quality of goods and services, roads and bridges, individual/household health, social well-being and sense of security. Prison and military budgets and recruitment swell to keep pressure off unemployment. Hate crimes escalate. Political correctness becomes State-dictated, tribe-enforced, thought police. The mass psychology is viral. The fear grows contagious and flows from a deeply-seated, existential angst.

Charles Hugh Smith points out:

General trends manifest in different ways in each community/region.  For example, the city and county of San Francisco is booming, with strong growth of population (866,000 residents), jobs, rents, housing valuations and tax revenues. Yet even as the city and county of San Francisco’s annual budget swells to an incomprehensible $9.6 billion—larger than the budgets of many U.S. state governments, and four times the annual budget of the city and county of Honolulu, with 998,000 residents—the homeless problem in San Francisco becomes ever more intractable, intrusive and disruptive, despite tens of millions of dollars devoted specifically to improving the options available to the homeless.


Living in an ecovillage in Tennessee its easy to get complacent. We can eat well from our garden and get most other needs from The Farm Store or our Amish and Mennonite neighbors within bicycle distance. We sit on a good water supply and recycle our own biowastes. After staying here a while, the need to ‘go to town’ diminishes, to maybe once every couple of weeks, then once in some months.

Despite the wacky plot-line in Shameless, Season 6, when Sherilyn Fenn’s character lures William H. Macy’s character back to her free-love, poppy growing "ecovillage," utopian living is very real, not inaccessible, but it's a choice few USAnians have made. There are more Chinese living in ecovillages than USAnians. More Senegalese. More Sinhalese. 

In the real world, not some HBO fantasy, ecovillages are built by earnest people, not welf government housing authorities, real estate developers or banks. Our ecovillage was something that took 40 years to build, with residents sacrificing to live on little more than $1 per day, per capita, for the first 10 or 15 years, in order to make land payments and pay taxes while building roads, water systems, clinics and schools.

People who visit us today see the sculpted roads, water towers, handsome horses, pro disk golf course, and large solar arrays and might mistake it for some kind of trendy, master-planned gated community gridded down onto a chunk of rolling Tennessee real estate. It is easy to not grasp that it was all higgledypiggledy cobbled together (or cobbed together) bit by bit, on the sweat of longhaired hippies in patched bibtops and homespun, one bent nail in oak plank at a time.

On those occasions we do go out further than easily-biked distance, we cross into what Jan Lundberg calls The Paved Precincts of Amerika. Our heart swells with compassion for its victims — not the skinny street urchins of Mumbai but the ever-increasingly obese mall-crawlers and cubicle rats making payments on outsized land-yachts and rat infested rental housing, popping prescription pills and swilling tasteless beer or high-fructose corn syrup beverages from a plastic cup while starving the dog to pay the cable bill. Welcome to the Teflon Trump Country.

Last year James Howard Kunstler told Chris Martenson:

 

The hidden (or ignored) truth of this quandary expresses itself inevitably in the degenerate culture of the day, the freak show of pornified criminal avarice that the USA has become. It only shows how demoralizing our recent history has been that the collective national attention is focused on such vulgar stupidities as twerking, or the Kanye-Kardashian porno romance, the doings of the Duck Dynasty, and the partying wolves of Wall Street.
Duck Dynasty lends its star power to the Republican Convention
By slow increments since about the time John F. Kennedy was shot in the head, we’ve become a land where anything goes and nothing matters. The political blame for that can be distributed equally between Boomer progressives (e.g., inventors of political correctness) and the knuckle-dragging “free-market” conservatives (e.g., money is free speech). The catch is, some things do matter, for instance whether the human race can continue to be civilized in some fashion when the techno-industrial orgy draws to a close.

Last week Kunstler opined:

 

Idiocy and mendacity are a bad combo in the affairs of nations, especially in elections. The present case in the USA displays both qualities to near-perfection: on one side, a boorish pseudo-savior in zero command of ideas; on the other side, a wannabe racketeer-in-chief in full command of her instinctive deceit. Trump offers incoherent rhetoric in opposition to the current dismal order of things; Clinton offers empty, pandering rhetoric in defense of that order. Both represent an epic national drive toward political suicide.

The idiocy and mendacity extend to the broad voting public and the discredited elites pretending to run the life of the nation. The American public has never been this badly educated and more distracted by manufactured trivia. They know next to nothing. Even college seniors can’t name the Secretary of State or find Switzerland on a map. They don’t know in what century the Civil War took place. They couldn’t tell you whether a hypotenuse is an animal, a vegetable, or a mineral. Their right to vote is a danger to themselves.


Cognitive recognition of the average USAnian towards the plight of a Syrian refugee in a Calais cul-de-sac or a Greenlander having to relocate their ancestral village to firmer ground is virtually nil, but in many ways they are closer in plight than they know. Each are only one culture shock away from personal extinction.

It is difficult for us to conceive how rural Walmart shoppers pushing carts through parking deserts under the hot summer sun would cope with the sudden loss of A/C, never mind whatever they might have backing their debit cards.

The Farm may be antifragile in a multitude of ways, but like a small nation that discovers oil or gold and is ill-equipped to defend itself, we are as likely to experience the Zombie Apocalypse as any urbanite suddenly discovering that her corner store had only a 3-day supply of food and it was gone last evening, along with her power and water. 

And if you think financial collapse or peak everything makes you more irritable, just wait until you see what 10 or 20 degree warmer overnight temperatures do.

So, do we begin making lances and training horses and riders in cavalry maneuvers? Unlikely.

More likely we will do the unthinkable and welcome the zombies in, give them a hot bath and square meal, a cot to sleep on, a health check and some meaningful work in the garden. There are limits to that kind of generosity, as we learned the hard way in the past, but in a crisis, making yourself indispensable is really your best defense.  The rural South is no place to try to exchange gunfire with an angry mob.

Umair Haque writes:

At the personal level, the end of the world is already here. This is the first generation in modern history that’s going to suffer worse living standards than their parents.
 
The question is: how much worse? Very badly worse. With stagnant incomes, no savings, this generation will never retire, vacation, advance, enjoy, or own. Their relationships, health, and productivity will suffer as a result. The quality of their lives is going to be long, bleak, and pointless. Worked to the grave to make a dwindling number of dynasties wealthy, largely by serving them hand and foot, not really enhancing human life.
 
That’s not healthy, because it’s neither freedom, possibility, nor prosperity. It is a bad trade for humanity. And in that sense the end of the world of liberal capitalism, followed by the void of institutional chaos and disorder, is likely to be an ugly and grim time Unless. You and I make it a better one. Now you know the problems. The path. The story of the future. And because you know it, you can change it.


Or at least learn to feed yourself. 

You Too Can Have a Bigger Graph

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Published on Peak Surfer on May 22, 2016

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We confess to occasionally indulging in the optimistic whimsy that if we humans would only recover the common sense to let nature be nature, and maybe help her out by planting a few trees, the climate crisis would be over quite quickly. Then in a darker rebound, we despair that indeed we are really a very dumb species and probably will be doing creation a favor by going extinct, and moreover, let’s hope we do it soon enough so that fewer other species will be harmed in the process.

 

 

 

 

Do we need to be reminded by more Doomer Porn? The greatest impediment to Earth’s ecological recovery is not her ability to heal. Our planet still has that, even at this late date. The greatest impediment is human cultural and cognitive inertia.

In our naivete, we used to think that humans might stand a chance at culture change, but the more we learn about neurobiology, the more it seems we sapiens are locked into a primate brain that is determined to retain more reptilian instincts and reject anything sounding vaguely angelic.

Lately, credible scientific research tells us that a lack of information is not the problem. No amount of public opinion mustering will matter, so trying to educate is a lost cause.
What could change the equation? Don’t really know that yet. We are pinning hopes on raising on permaculture army, but who can say? Hang on for the ride. The best is yet to come.

Here are more than 40 visual images of what is transpiring in the real world, outside our cultural filters. Beyond this point, as Robert Scribbler said, "We're gonna need a bigger graph."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“There is a possibility that this gradual global warming could lead to a relatively abrupt slowing of the ocean’s thermohaline conveyor, which could lead to harsher winter weather conditions, sharply reduced soil moisture, and more intense winds in certain regions that currently provide a significant fraction of the world’s food production. With inadequate preparation, the result could be a significant drop in the human carrying capacity of the Earth’s environment.”

Climate Institute 2003 Report

 

 

 
 
 
 

“Many of the most memorable and devastating storms in eastern North America and western Europe, popularly known as superstorms, have been winter cyclonic storms, though sometimes occurring in late fall or early spring, that generate near-hurricane force winds and often large amounts of snowfall. Continued warming of low latitude oceans in coming decades will provide more water vapor to strengthen such storms. If this tropical warming is combined with a cooler North Atlantic Ocean from AMOC slowdown and an increase in midlatitude eddy energy, we can anticipate more severe baroclinic storms.”

Hansen et al. 2015, Ice melt, sea level rise and superstorms: evidence from paleoclimate data, climate modeling, and modern observations that 2C global warming could be dangerous.
 

 

 

 

 

 

“Doubling times of 10, 20 or 40 years yield multi-meter sea level rise in about 50, 100 or 200 years. Recent ice melt doubling times  are  near  the  lower  end  of  the  10–40-year  range,  but the record is too short to confirm the nature of the response.”

Hansen et al. 2015, Ice melt, sea level rise and superstorms: evidence from paleoclimate data, climate modeling, and modern observations that 2C global warming could be dangerous.
 

 

 

 

“Many of the most memorable and devastating storms in eastern North America and western Europe, popularly known as superstorms, have been winter cyclonic storms, though sometimes occurring in late fall or early spring, that generate near-hurricane force winds and often large amounts of snowfall. Continued warming of low latitude oceans in coming decades will provide more water vapor to strengthen such storms. If this tropical warming is combined with a cooler North Atlantic Ocean from AMOC slowdown and an increase in midlatitude eddy energy, we can anticipate more severe baroclinic storms.”

Hansen et al. 2015, Ice melt, sea level rise and superstorms: evidence from paleoclimate data, climate modeling, and modern observations that 2C global warming could be dangerous.
 

 

 

 

 

We show that long-term fluctuations of war frequency and population changes followed the cycles of temperature change. Further analyses show that cooling impeded agricultural production, which brought about a series of serious social problems, including price inflation, then successively war outbreak, famine, and population decline.

– Zhang, et al, 2007. Global climate change, war, and population decline in recent human history
 

 

 

 

 

Hand in hand with the skimpy ice cover, temperatures across the Arctic have been extraordinarily warm for midwinter. Just before New Year’s, a slug of mild air pushed temperatures above freezing to within 200 miles of the North Pole. That warm pulse quickly dissipated, but it was followed by a series of intense North Atlantic cyclones that sent very mild air poleward, in tandem with a strongly negative Arctic Oscillation during the first three weeks of the month.

– Jeff Masters, Wunderground
 

The normal climate of North America in 2095 under business as usual warming (i.e. no Paris agreement) according to a 2015 NASA study. The darkest areas have soil moisture comparable to the 1930s Dust Bowl:

 

In the 1993 blockbuster movie "Jurassic Park," a sleazy scientist played by Jeff Goldblum quips that "life finds a way." For real biologists, climate change is like a massive, unplanned experiment, one that may be too fast and strange for some species to survive it.

Colorado Bob

 

Solomon et al., 2011. Warming World: Impacts by Degree, based on the National Research Council report, Climate Stabilization Targets: Emissions, Concentrations, and Impacts over Decades to Millennia

 

 

 

 

 

 [I]f indeed Sivaram (Foreign Affairs) and Revkin (The New York Times) are joining all the nations of the world in acknowledging that 1.5°C is the preferred target for humanity, then we are in a “hair on fire” moment.

Joe Romm, Climate Progress
 

 
 
Increased temperatures from global warming are decreasing rain and snowfall and are increasing evaporation in the Colorado River watershed. This is reducing runoff into the reservoirs. The team predicts the water storage in Lakes Mead and Powell has a 50 percent chance of becoming exhausted by 2021 if climate change reduces runoff as predicted and if water consumption continues at current levels. This scenario would have dire consequences for the American Southwest.

American Museum of Natural History Science Updates
 

 

 

 

 

The world is just not prepared to handle large scale abrupt changes, most of us never learned to grow our own foods, we just go to the supermarket and pick whatever we want from the refrigerator. Unless we learn to accelerate our efforts to keep pace with the system change required to stop all the developments, we risk that parts of the world become uninhabitable, and turmoil which could even lead to nuclear war. 

The growth of our civilization reached a threshold, which will test our species capabilities, especially our intelligence in regards to how we manage future states of our environment. We can either try to stay in the realm of ecosystem boundaries (basically as far as possible back to a planet with around 280 ppm CO2 in the atmosphere), or we can keep acting situational and experimenting with the Earth’s climate.

The majority of us is still using the same old technologies, and thinking which caused the climate crisis in the first place.

– Chris Machens, ClimateState, based in Berlin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 comments:

 

 

 

 

dex3703 said…

As always, thank you for this grim work.

Could you provide a link or reference for the paragraph beginning: Increased temperatures from global warming are decreasing rain and snowfall….

 

 

 

 

Albert Bates said…

Thanks and apologies for the omission Dex3703. The link is American Museum of Natural History Science Bulletins. It reports on a Scripps Inst. study and provides a video of Lake Mead drying up by 2021.

 

 

 

 

Doomstead Diner said…

This would be a good time to start dropping acid. 🙂

Take the new Renewable Energy survey!

http://freeonlinesurveys.com/s/Wixv2RMd

RE

Hillarism

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Published on Peak Surfer on April 24, 2016

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"The Irish Water crisis, the slow collapse of public health and education, resurgent child poverty, the epidemic of loneliness, offshore tax-avoidance havens, the collapse of ecosystems, Occupy Hong Kong, Australian greedy banks, and the rise of Donald Trump link to a single bad gene in our political DNA."

 


It is the political silly season, although these days it never seems to be otherwise. Delma Rouseff, Brazil’s heroic anti-establishment, anti-corruption President, has been impeached by the lower house on (dubious) charges of corruption, but the former, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva called it more accurately a "coup d’état.”

Iceland’s Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson resigned after it was revealed he owned an offshore company with his wife to channel millions of kroner. British Prime Minister David Cameron admitted he owned shares in a Bahamas-based trust up until 2010. In Malta, protesters demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat for the same tax-avoidance activities.

Scores of countries will hold national elections in 2016. In January, Portugal elected Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, former leader of the Social Democratic Party and supported by the Social Democratic Party and the CDS – People's Party. Portugal, which rationalized recreational drug policy in 2001, tilted left.

Ireland, which has a gender neutral election law, requiring any election to be supported by at least 30% male and 30% female voters, in February elected a right-leaning Dáil Éireann (parliament). Sadly the coalition is still too fractious to choose a Taoiseach (prime minister)

In 2013 Ireland consolidated separate county and local water authorities into a single national utility, which proceeded to install meters everywhere and raise rates. In 2014 and 2015 local protests blocked meter installers. Four percent of Ireland's population showed up at one demonstration in Dublin. Irish Water is a wedge between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, so no prime minister for Ireland.

Legislative elections for 450 Duma seats will be held in Russia on 18 September. Polls April 10th give Dmitry Medvedev’s conservative United Russia 46%, Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s right-wing anti-communist Liberal Democratic Party 11%, Gennady Zyuganov’s left-wing Communist Party 9%, A Just Russia People's Freedom Party 5% and the remainder to 10 other parties, including the Greens led by Oleg Mitvol.

In Peru, the first round on April 10th narrowed the field to Keiko Fujimori, daughter of former President Alberto Fujimori, of the Popular Force party, and Pedro Pablo Kuczynski candidate of the Peruvians for Change party. Fujimori has a healthy lead and the second round of voting comes June 5th. Peru is interesting if for no other reason than the names of its political parties (as translated): 

Popular Force
Peruvians for Change
Broad Front
Alliance for Progress
Popular Alliance
Popular Action
Direct Democracy
Possible Peru
Hope Front
Order Party
Developing Peru
Everybody for Peru

These names seem like something you might read on post-its on the wall of the “creatives” room in an ad agency.

In Australia, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said last November: "I would say around September–October is when you should expect the next election to be.” However, when parties predictably deadlocked over bills to reinstate the Australian Building and Construction Commission, a bone of contention for the opposition Labor Party, Turnbull this week announced he would dissolve Parliament on May 3 and call for new elections July 2. Turnbull himself is well known to Australians and his party the clear frontrunner. But lately he has been losing ground to Labor leader Bill Shorten in the polls. Labor needs to win 21 seats to take power, a swing of 4.3%. BBC reports:

“Mr Turnbull will attempt to paint Mr Shorten as a union lackey who cannot manage the economy; Mr Shorten will say Mr Turnbull is an out-of-touch protector of greedy banks leading a divided party that stands for nothing.”

The Philippines just concluded its presidential debate cycle and is headed to national elections May 9th. At the top of the ballot is the election for successor to Philippine President Benigno Aquino III. The leading candidate is the current VP Jejomar Binay. His opponents include Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago (People's Reform Party) who is suffering from stage 4 lung cancer. Called "the Iron Lady of Asia,” she was the widely expected winner of the 1992 Philippine Presidential Elections, but lost after an inexplicably unscheduled power outage during the counting of votes. The Supreme Court of the Philippines recently declared optical scanner counting devices “corrupt” and forced precincts to return to hand counts.

Santiago announced her candidacy for president in the launch of her book, Stupid is Forever, on October 13, 2015.

Other candidates include Rodrigo “Courage and Compassion” Duterte (PDP–Laban), Grace "Government with a Heart” Poe (Independent) and Mar "Continue the Straight Path” Roxas (Liberal).

While the People’s Republic of China will not be holding national elections this year, what is brewing at the grass roots in Hong Kong is QI — quite interesting.  Wikipedia reports:

The emergence of new political groups led by young activists is set to shake up the political landscape of Hong Kong. Hong Kong Indigenous, a pro-independence localist group, faired well in the February New Territories East by-election by receiving more than 66,000 votes, coming third after pan-democratic Civic Party and pro-Beijing DAB, gaining about 15 percent of the total votes. A day after the election, localist groups including Wong Yuk-man's Proletariat Political Institute, Wong Yeung-tat's Civic Passion and Chin Wan's Hong Kong Resurgence Order announced a plan to field candidates in all five geographical constituencies.

On 10 April 2016. six post-Occupy organisations, Youngspiration, East Kowloon Community, Tin Shui Wai New Force, Cheung Sha Wan Community Establishment Power, Tsz Wan Shan Constructive Power and Tuen Mun Community, political groups formed after the Umbrella Revolution, formed an electoral alliance planned to field candidates in four of the five geographical constituencies with the agenda to put forward a referendum on Hong Kong's self-determination. Hong Kong Indigenous and another new pro-independence Hong Kong National Party also stated that they will run in the upcoming election.

On the same day on 10 April 2016, the student leaders in the Umbrella Revolution, Joshua Wong, Oscar Lai and Agnes Chow of Scholarism and Nathan Law of the Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS) also formed a new party Demosisto which was inspired by Taiwan's New Power Party which was formed by the Sunflower Movement leaders and fared well in the 2016 Taiwanese legislative election. The new party calls for referendum on Hong Kong's future after 2047 when the One Country, Two Systems is supposed to expire. The party aimed at fielding candidates in Hong Kong Island and Kowloon East, facing competitions from other new political groups while posing challenge to the traditional pan-democracy camp.

Finally, turning to the USA: With Bernie Sanders’ inability to unset the Hillary Clinton base in New York (Manhattan 66% – 33%; Westchester County 67% – 32%) on Tuesday, it looks more and more like a Clinton victory at the convention is a lead pipe cinch. Who knows? She might even have the team to out-Diebold the Trump machine. In Brooklyn, tens of thousands of voters discovered too late that they were ineligible to vote. The New York City Elections Board confirmed that more than 125,000 Brooklyn voters had been scrubbed from the voter rolls and the NY Attorney General's office is on the case. Clinton can now win less than half of the remaining primaries and still gain the required number of delegates.

Can she throw some kind of a aikido move on the Trump steamroller? We don’t yet know who controls the machines, but it is a pretty good bet it ain’t the Donald.

This past week George Monbiot penned one of the best essays of his career, although it was actually a teaser for his new book, How Did We Get into This Mess? published by Verso for £12.99.

In naming Neoliberalism as the root of all our problems, Monbiot linked the Irish Water crisis, the slow collapse of public health and education, rigged Philippine elections, resurgent child poverty, the epidemic of loneliness, offshore tax-avoidance havens, the collapse of ecosystems, Occupy Hong Kong, Australian greedy banks, and the rise of Donald Trump to a single bad gene in our political DNA.

Monbiot writes:

Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. It redefines citizens as consumers, whose democratic choices are best exercised by buying and selling, a process that rewards merit and punishes inefficiency. It maintains that “the market” delivers benefits that could never be achieved by planning.

Attempts to limit competition are treated as inimical to liberty. Tax and regulation should be minimised, public services should be privatised. The organisation of labour and collective bargaining by trade unions are portrayed as market distortions that impede the formation of a natural hierarchy of winners and losers. Inequality is recast as virtuous: a reward for utility and a generator of wealth, which trickles down to enrich everyone. Efforts to create a more equal society are both counterproductive and morally corrosive. The market ensures that everyone gets what they deserve.

When George W. Bush attributed the rise of Islamic jihadis to “they hate our freedom,” what he was doing was reinforcing the neoliberal meme. As Monbiot puts it:

Freedom from trade unions and collective bargaining means the freedom to suppress wages. Freedom from regulation means the freedom to poison rivers, endanger workers, charge iniquitous rates of interest and design exotic financial instruments. Freedom from tax means freedom from the distribution of wealth that lifts people out of poverty.

Hillary Clinton likes to tell audiences that because of the Affordable Care Act, "We now have driven costs down to the lowest they've been in 50 years.” Actually, health spending in the United States is higher than it's ever been, so the statement on its face is inaccurate. The U.S. spends more per capita than every other country in the OECD; and twice as much per capita as the system in France, with considerably worse average outcomes.

Monbiot writes:

The privatisation or marketisation of public services such as energy, water, trains, health, education, roads and prisons has enabled corporations to set up tollbooths in front of essential assets and charge rent, either to citizens or to government, for their use. Rent is another term for unearned income.

Unearned income is what buys elections, and not just in the United States.

What the history of both Keynesianism and neoliberalism show is that it’s not enough to oppose a broken system. A coherent alternative has to be proposed. And that is what none of the elections in 2016 seem to be doing.

President Trump

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Published on Peak Surfer on January 31, 2016

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"From here this presidency sure looks like an unqualified success."

 

  It has been more than a year now since The Donald moved into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and he continues to be thwarted at every turn by that do-nothing Congress and the Democrat Party.

We all had expected that by now the Asian countries that have dumped their goods here and almost bankrupted our country by causing our trade deficit would have felt the bite of tough new rules, but the Trans Pacific Partnership tied Donald's hands on that one.

Mexico still won’t keep its illegals — the source for Americans’ drugs — on their side of the border. NAFTA prevented the border closing there. It wouldn't even take those Mexican tractor-trailers off our roads, and who knows how many of them are filled with illegals being dropped off in Ohio and Pennsylvania? Still, we are pouring concrete for a bigger wall all the time, whether Mexico pays for it or not. They should because they created this problem, but so far Donald has not gotten a single peso from the ingrates.

And, of course, the Muslims have always been fighting us when they are not too busy squirmishing between themselves. The Donald's executive order closed all our borders to refugees from Syria, Libya, Egypt, and Afghanistan; countries populated by still more ingrates who are unwilling to pay for the wars that we started on their behalf. And wouldn't you know? That is now going to the Supreme Court, challenged by the Democrat Party as unconstitutional. As if the President of the United States, as Commander in Chief, doesn't have the power to keep all the riffraff out. That wishy washy Supreme Court is not conservative enough! The Donald will get his chance to change that, soon, with real right-winging, bitter-clinging, proud clingers of our guns, our God, and our religion, and our Constitution.

Solving our trade deficit wasn't as simple as ending the supply of cheap Chinese stuff. Donald got around Congress and the TPP by calling that retailer CEO summit at the White House. But it still comes in from places protected by those bad trade deals negotiated by idiot presidents who didn't know the first thing about the art of the deal. Now the Chinese stuff goes to Australia and gets rebranded before the container ships take it to WalMart. That is why the prices we pay didn't change much, so I guess we can be grateful. The Chinese and Koreans should be too, but are they? No way.

When the Donald sent the marines to grab Iraq’s oilfields last month there was a big uproar at the UN but what could they do, the toothless liberals? Donald just vetoed any Security Council resolution they passed. Now we control a significant supply of the world’s oil and can set prices where we like, and not just where the Saudis want them, in the basement. We all have to put up with higher prices at the pump now, but rising crude prices have stopped the slump in fracked gas futures and got us back on the path to the energy independence that made America strong.

If the Saudis gripe about that, Donald says he is ready to send a bunch of oil sheiks to his reopened Guantanamo just to let them know who's in charge. Sure, he hasn't gotten rid of ISIS yet, but give him time. He will get their oil too, and you can take that to the bank. The marines are just settling into Iraq now. Syria is a quick hop.

Donald's poll numbers are quite good, and it is long past the honeymoon stage. People are calling him the Second Great Communicator. Doubters have to eat crow. Our military is stronger than ever, and we are respected again, whether foreigners like it or not.

We will know soon whether that do-nothing Congress passes the President's energy plan and American builders can get started on those 100 new nuclear plants. That will be a real shot in the arm for the economy, as well as making energy cheap again. People say the President is a climate denier, but those new nukes will do more to stop climate change than anything Obama did in Paris. Put a trillion dollars into nuclear power, like we will, and your other countries can be energy independent too, you UN people.

People criticize the President for ordering the National Football League to move the Super Bowl to New Jersey, but now that more than a third of the teams have relocated to California, it seems only reasonable that the East Coast should get its share of the action. Some of the best football we've ever seen was played in snow.

When the Donald took office the economy was in shambles. Stocks were getting schlonged. Oil, coal, and car companies were talking bankruptcy and wanting bailouts. The Donald doesn't do bailouts. How about that?

The Donald met with all the banks and cut them checks. He refinanced the country. Remember: this is a guy who knows what it is to go bankrupt and still wind up with high-rise penthouses and golf courses. That's exactly what he did for America. Who cares what the dollar is now worth in Timbuktu? We will soon have legal casinos in every city and every state, and they won't be run by Indians, either.

We are still only a year into this presidency, but from here it sure looks like an unqualified success. We guess that's only to be expected when you buy the best.
 

“I’m Donald Trump and I endorse this message” — Trump for President 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stranded Expectations

Off the keyboard of Albert Bates

Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
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Published on Peak Surfer on July 19, 2015

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Discuss this article at the Economics Table inside the Diner

 

  
 One of the birthplaces of civilization is having its cradle rocked again. Apart from the subjugation of women, children and slaves, Greece's beta version, going back 2500 years, was pretty cool – men in togas strolling though olive groves asking existential questions about life, the universe and all that. An updated version, without the wars, slaves and chauvinism, might not be half bad.

Today Greece is the European Union's current favorite whipping boy – the example to be made in order to keep all the other Ponzi'd patsies in line. It is no small irony that despite street protest bringing a new, defiant Syriza  (“from the roots”) government to Athens and a resounding No! Icelandic-style referendum placing Greece in technical default, the realities of needing a cash drip to keep pensioners breathing and buses running have given the upper hand to German, French and British banksters. 

The irony is compounded when one glances at the score sheet for total debt to GDP, with China at 250%, Germany 302%, Greece 353%, USA 370%, Britain 546%, Japan 646% and Ireland at an enchanted 1,000%.

Commented Dmitry Orlov:

The IMF won't lend to Greece because it requires some assurance of repayment; but it will continue to lend to the Ukraine, which is in default and collapsing rapidly, without any such assurances because, you see, the decision is a political one.


After the US-controlled International Monetary Fund acknowledged that Greece has no possibility of ever repaying its debts, the central bankers’ bank, the Bank of International Settlements, recently issued a very blunt warning

“[T]he world will be unable to fight the next global financial crash as central banks have used up their ammunition trying to tackle the last crisis."


If neoliberalism has a Hall of Fame, surely China has a bronze bust somewhere near the entrance. Literally millions of Chinese, newly employed and making consumerist wages, have opened stock trading accounts. For them, its the Roaring Twenties. What changed? China took extreme measures to increase the liquidity in their financial system – precisely what the European Central Bank denied to Greece. 

Liquidity is what pays off the account holders in the event of a run on the bank, because in reality, banks don't store money or any other assets, they only record accounts of running debts. Liquidity builds confidence. Liquidity is what Ben Bernacke forced down the throats of the Wall Street cabal to staunch the bloodletting in 2008. When Europe pulled the liquidity backstop away from Greek banks, ATMs ran dry and depositors took a haircut on their holdings, but systemically, it was much worse than that.

 


 

Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy and other debtor countries have been under the same mode of attack that was waged by the IMF and its austerity doctrine that bankrupted Latin America from the 1970s onward.

–Michael Hudson

Currently, the average USAnian's net worth is at a record high, but if you were to try to find that average person, it could take you quite a while. Seventy million US citizens are teetering on the edge of financial ruin. They’re one paycheck away from default on their mortgage or health insurance premium. How does one explain their record high net worth? (a) concentrations of extreme wealth at the top of the pyramid; (b) inflated real estate and other asset valuations; and (c) inflated valuation of the dollar, backed by nothing more than vivid imagination. Fantasy is infectious, so there has been a capital flight to Turtle Island on the expectation that it would be a bastion of stability, its deregulated regulators standing as a tall cliff over the tsunami about to engulf the world economy.
 

Hellenistic Greece "Diadochen1" by Captain_Blood – Own work.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

The Greeks invented modern banking a couple millennia ago – credit based trade, hedge funds, options, foreign exchange, and so on. And, as we might expect, what's happening in Greece now is nothing new. Athens suffered a land and agrarian crisis in the late 7th century BCE and its citizens took to the streets, throwing bottles and protesting food prices. The Archon (city manager) Draco made severe reforms in 621 BCE ("Draconian" they were called), but these failed to quell the conflict. The crisis lasted another 27 years until the moderate reforms of Solon (594 BCE) lifted austerity while paying off creditors, with the added benefit of firmly entrenching the aristocracy.

The first financial crisis happened in Greece around 600 BC. Since then, Greece has defaulted on their loans more often than any other country in the modern world. In the past 200 years or so, Greece has defaulted about half the time.

Even though Greece has already received $284 billion in bailout money over the past five years, they still couldn’t get it together. One reason why was because most of that money went to financial institutions, and only a small portion went to the people.

Another reason why was due to their pension system. By now, everyone has heard the stories of the hairdresser example… That is, someone who’s worked as a hairdresser for three years, then retires around age 50-55 and receives nearly a full pension. Multiply this by more than two million pensioners, along with a whole lot of other financial problems, and you see why Greece is in such deep trouble.

Aden Forecast
 


Our spider senses tingle when we hear someone reading from one of Ronald Reagan's index cards about mooching welfare mamas driving a Cadillac. Those spendthrift pensioners! Originally the Greek debt was owed to French, Dutch and German banks but now is owed mainly to agencies like the European Financial Stability Facility, run on behalf of 19 governments, that most recently lent Greece (to kick the can down the road) 145 billion euros borrowed from the bond markets at high interest. Hmmm. Sounds a lot like the sub-prime market of, say, 2005, with European banks in the position of Countrywide and AIG.
Brian Davey writing for Feasta says:

If you kick the can down the road repeatedly you eventually run out of road. What should have happened much earlier in this process was an admission that the French, Dutch and German banks had made a mistake lending to Greece and they should have taken their loss. Perhaps Greek officials and Goldman Sachs, which helped to hide the fact that Greece could not pay, should have been prosecuted.


Davies goes on to draw the crucial link between energy and economy:

[W]hile Greece (and Spain and Italy and Ireland) was growing there were good reasons to send money to Greece – to invest in the building of holiday hotels for example, or in the building and civil engineering companies that built the hotels and the roads to the resorts. This was not buying and importing Greek goods – but it was putting money back into the pockets of Greeks in the form of investment in the business activities of a growing economy. If deficit countries are growing then mechanisms will exist to recycle purchasing power internationally. Once growth stops then there is no reason to send money to deficit countries and they are in trouble – as has happened throughout southern Europe and Ireland. I think that this is the most plausible way of seeing things. And the reason that growth began to fall off was rising energy prices because of depletion, because we are reaching the limits to economic growth. Because energy enters into all economic activities this undermines growth because people and companies struggle to service their debts AND pay the higher energy prices. That’s the ultimate reason that interest rates had to come down through quantitative easing.

 
Looking at a historical chart of US debt, one sees that it remained virtually unchanged from first ill-fated settlement in the 16th century, showing only slight bumps with each major war, until approximately 1970 when it went ballistic. What happened then? Gold bugs will tell you it was Nixon taking the dollar off the gold standard, unleashing the beast of fractional reserve banking and fiat currency. Rather, we find it more plausible that 1969 was the year US oil production peaked and, like their Greek counterparts, US companies began to struggle to service their debts AND pay the higher energy prices.

The US trashed Bretton Woods when it took the dollar to the oil standard by getting Saudi Arabia and other producers to sell their oil for dollars only. If you wanted to buy oil you needed dollars, and so dollars flowed back into the US, favorable trade balances masked the dollar's inflation (and the massive debt to sustain cheap energy) and American banks laughed all the way to the voting booths.

Meanwhile, life in Greece goes on, amid the financial wreckage. As Jan Lundberg, who has been trying to revive commercial sail transport in the Mediterranean (to replace more than four million fishing and small cargo vessels now spewing oil smoke and bilge) reports:
 

The jump in homelessness, many of the housed doing without heat in winter, and foregoing improvements in life that people had grown accustomed to, are well known. So it is no wonder that money is almost universally seen as the problem and the solution. The once hopeful consumer population has been ravaged: 1.3 million people, or 26% of the workforce, are without a job (and most of them without benefits); wages are down by 38% since 2009, pensions by 45%, GDP by a quarter; 18% of the country’s population unable to meet their food needs; 32% below the poverty line. Almost 3.1 million people, 33% of the population, are without national health insurance.


The ECB could solve Greece’s problem with a few computer keystrokes. The effect would actually be to stimulate the European economy.
 
Instead, Greece remains a whipping boy to keep the rest of the periphery in line. If either side decides to reject the latest deal, we could see an exit from the European Union, and a return to the drachma. This would likely be good for Greece but not for the EU, which could then see so many countries exit that the central currency tumbles into obscurity.

If Greece switches to drachmas, the funding possibilities are even greater. It could generate the money for a national dividend, guaranteed employment for all, expanded social services, and widespread investment in infrastructure, clean energy, and local business. Freed from its Eurocrat oppressors, Greece could model for the world what can be achieved by a sovereign country using publicly-owned banks and publicly-issued currency for the benefit of its own economy and its own people.

 Jan Lundberg says:

There are two kinds of people, whether in Greece or elsewhere: those who welcome or understand that fundamental change and discontinuity are inevitable, perhaps on the way too soon for convenience, and, those who fervently want the level of income and consumption of the past — regardless of economic and ecological realities. Fortunately for Greeks, they have a continuous and ancient society under the surface of the unstable transnational corporate state.


Summer in Greece often brings wildfires and this year is no different, although climate change doesn't help. In 2007 one fire covered 25.000 hectares north of Athens and as we write this flames are again creeping towards Athens from the North and the government has called out the Air Force and Army to help fight 34 separate fires. Isn't it lucky they still have organized fire departments and emergency responders there? They have come very close to not having that.

Greece is retracing its steps back through the ascent of Western Civilization to an earlier era when the best hedge was a good olive press. Many there, as elsewhere, cannot imagine losing the perks of advanced civilization. Stranded expectations – whether in Athens or Brussels – cloud peoples' thoughts. We are all Greeks. Harder lessons are coming. 

The Gift of Clear Mind: Laudato Si’

Off the keyboard of Albert Bates

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Published on Peak Surfer on June 28, 2015

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Discuss this article at the Environment Table inside the Diner

"Human beings and material objects no longer extend a friendly hand to one another; the relationship has become confrontational."
 

Does the Pope also Duckwalk?

If we are honest and admit climate change threatens the survival of our species, right now and not next decade or next century, and don't just turn away or accept the numbing banality that comes with avoidance of the subject, we would have to, to not be hypocritical, actually choose to do something about what we know we know.

But do what, exactly? Our institutions are not working. Any real change has to come from our personal footprint, changing our choices. Change is our only way of being truthful with ourselves, and not neurotic or schizophrenic.

What is needed, says Margaret Klein Salamon, founder of Climate Change Mobilization, are achievable goals, a set of actions that anyone can take and appreciate that they are actually changing the situation for the better. Merely changing light bulbs or buying a Prius won't cut it. It has to involve not green consumerism but de-consumerism. We have to give up those fabulous perks that came with the Age of Oil; to discard zombie fashion. We have to stop having so many babies, eating so much meat, and cutting down so many trees. We have to go back to understanding our relationship with the land and our sources of sustenance, and showing greater care for the whole of the natural world that underpins our existence.

Salaman says:

When people become agents for truth and vital change, they are elevated, enlarged, and lit up. The truth, and their role in advancing it, affects how they view themselves, what occupies their mind, and how they conduct their affairs. The power of truth allows them to transcend their limitations and what they once thought possible for themselves.

We cannot begin to say how refreshing it is to see Pope Francis face the urgency of the situation and awaken us to our need to be alive, and to swim upstream. To borrow a line from Jim Hightower, “Even a dead fish can swim downstream.” In his new encyclical, Laudato Si', Francis writes:
 

The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she “groans in travail” (Rom 8:22). We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth (cf. Gen 2:7); our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters.

***

[I]f we no longer speak the language of fraternity and beauty in our relationship with the world, our attitude will be that of masters, consumers, ruthless exploiters, unable to set limits on their immediate needs. By contrast, if we feel intimately united with all that exists, then sobriety and care will well up spontaneously.


The pope comes out against technological advances that will save us from our modern sins or magically improve productivity by replacing human work. He eschews market-based mechanisms to solve environmental problems, condemning, like the popes before him, the profit motive at its root.

The New York Times columnist David Brooks, defender of both profits and the fossil economy, responds:
 

Within marriage, lust can lead to childbearing. Within a regulated market, greed can lead to entrepreneurship and economic innovation. Within a constitution, the desire for fame can lead to political greatness…. [G]as and oil resources extracted through fracking have already added more than $430 billion to annual gross domestic product and supported more than 2.7 million jobs that pay, on average, twice the median U.S. salary.


We won't quibble with either Brooks or the pope because they are speaking past each other. Brooks is right that lust and greed are powerful motivators, and part of our serpent brain. Francis is right that to live at peace with each other and the planet we have to set aside those childish things, open our hearts and begin to see the world as adults. Brooks is clinging to the past while Francis is salvaging the future.

Jeb Bush, shortly after announcing his candidacy for US President, told a reporter about the pope's statement, "I don't get my economic advice from my priest." His pollsters are telling him he is on the wrong side of the climate issue but his strategists tell him he doesn't want to see the Koch brothers' billions go to a rival. Perhaps he thinks he will pivot later in the race, before he has to debate Bernie. 

 

What is new is that it is not even about pandering to voters anymore. Even half of Republicans now want this issue dealt with. Well, good luck, because the zombie lies aren't about the voters. They're for the donors, who make their living killing the planet. The question is not why today's politicians suck more than ever, it is who they are sucking more than ever.

 

—  Bill Maher


Paradigms change. Jason Hickel, Martin Kirk, and Joe Brewer, co-authors of a London School of Economics comparison between the encyclical and the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), wrote in The Guardian:
 

He calls out the transnational corporations that profit by polluting poor countries. He criticizes the foreign debt system that has become a tool by which rich countries control poor countries. And he warns that the financial sector, grown too powerful, has eroded the sovereignty of nation states and “tends to prevail over the political.”

This is an important move, because without naming the forces that cause human suffering and environmental destruction, it is impossible to address them.


As Professor Ian Gough put it, "This revolutionary encyclical challenges both current ethics and economics."


Francis continues:

The basic problem goes even deeper: it is the way that humanity has taken up technology and its development according to an undifferentiated and one-dimensional paradigm. This paradigm exalts the concept of a subject who, using logical and rational procedures, progressively approaches and gains control over an external object. This subject makes every effort to establish the scientific and experimental method, which in itself is already a technique of possession, mastery and transformation. It is as if the subject were to find itself in the presence of something formless, completely open to manipulation.

Men and women have constantly intervened in nature, but for a long time this meant being in tune with and respecting the possibilities offered by the things themselves. It was a matter of receiving what nature itself allowed, as if from its own hand. Now, by contrast, we are the ones to lay our hands on things, attempting to extract everything possible from them while frequently ignoring or forgetting the reality in front of us. Human beings and material objects no longer extend a friendly hand to one another; the relationship has become confrontational. This has made it easy to accept the idea of infinite or unlimited growth, which proves so attractive to economists, financiers and experts in technology. It is based on the lie that there is an infinite supply of the earth’s goods, and this leads to the planet being squeezed dry beyond every limit.

It is the false notion that “an infinite quantity of energy and resources are available, that it is possible to renew them quickly, and that the negative effects of the exploitation of the natural order can be easily absorbed” (quoting the Pontifical Council For Justice And Peace, Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, at page 462).


Here Francis begins to sound more like the Dalai Lama. The Tibetian Book of Secret Doctrines says, "Cherish no notion of separated individuality." Subject and Object are one. Man and Nature are one. Form and Formlessness are one. Mind and Buddha are one. The encyclical says:
 

It cannot be emphasized enough how everything is interconnected. Time and space are not independent of one another, and not even atoms or subatomic particles can be considered in isolation. Just as the different aspects of the planet – physical, chemical and biological – are interrelated, so too living species are part of a network which we will never fully explore and understand. A good part of our genetic code is shared by many living beings. It follows that the fragmentation of knowledge and the isolation of bits of information can actually become a form of ignorance, unless they are integrated into a broader vision of reality.


Speaking directly to his "cheerfully reckless" critics, Francis says:

It has become countercultural to choose a lifestyle whose goals are even partly independent of technology, of its costs and its power to globalize and make us all the same. Technology tends to absorb everything into its ironclad logic, and those who are surrounded with technology “know full well that it moves forward in the final analysis neither for profit nor for the well-being of the human race”, that “in the most radical sense of the term power is its motive – a lordship over all” (quoting Omano Guardini, Das Ende der Neuzeit, (The End of the Modern World, at 56).

***

Many things have to change course, but it is we human beings above all who need to change. We lack an awareness of our common origin, of our mutual belonging, and of a future to be shared with everyone. This basic awareness would enable the development of new convictions, attitudes and forms of life. A great cultural, spiritual and educational challenge stands before us, and it will demand that we set out on the long path of renewal.


The study by Hickel, Kirk and Brewer contrasted Francis’s vision with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals:
 

The SDGs are right to embrace a wide range of issues. Unlike their predecessors, the millennium development goals, they recognize that the problems we face are multidimensional. But they have confused thoroughness with holism, lists with patterns. It’s a mistake born of outdated thinking.

The pope, by contrast, has struck at the systemic nature of the issue. “It cannot be emphasized enough how everything is connected,” he says. “To seek only a technical remedy to each environmental problem which comes up is to separate what is in reality interconnected and to mask the true and deepest problems of the global system.”

This is what makes the encyclical far more than a document about climate change. It is a profound critique of the deep logic of our political economy. This is a vastly more sophisticated paradigm than the one that underpins the SDGs and a large part of why the encyclical feels cohesive, fresh and relevant, where the SDGs feel inconsistent, clunky and 20 years out of date.


Francis is not above legitimate criticism, less for what he puts into the encyclical than for what he leaves out. Physicist Lawrence Krauss, writing for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, says:
 

First off, he dismisses the need to address reproductive rights for women, and also the concomitant problem of population growth in poor countries as part of any proposed solution to world environmental problems. If one is seriously worried about the environment on a global scale, then one needs to worry about population growth. A population of 10 billion by 2050 will likely be unsustainable at a level that provides all humans with adequate food and access to medicine, water, and security.  Moreover, the environmental problems induced by overpopulation are also disproportionately born by those in poor countries, where access to birth control and abortion is often limited. As I have argued elsewhere recently in this regard, ultimately empowering women to manage their own reproductive future gives them the surest road out of poverty.


Perhaps even more glaring is the double standard within which Francis, with Franciscan modesty, lives in a grand gilded palace, overseeing a legion of wealthy Cardinals, while calling for even the poorest among us to reduce consumption. To be sure, the encyclical was directed to believers within the church, including collegially off-key voices within the Vatican. Cardinal George Pell, its head of finance, currently immersed in a scandal involving paedophile priests in Australia, is a prominent climate change denier and plenty of other senior Catholics are dredging up lame, discredited arguments against His Holiness's views. To them, Francis says:
 

Christian spirituality proposes an alternative understanding of the quality of life, and encourages a prophetic and contemplative lifestyle, one capable of deep enjoyment free of the obsession with consumption. We need to take up an ancient lesson, found in different religious traditions and also in the Bible. It is the conviction that “less is more”. A constant flood of new consumer goods can baffle the heart and prevent us from cherishing each thing and each moment. To be serenely present to each reality, however small it may be, opens us to much greater horizons of understanding and personal fulfillment. Christian spirituality proposes a growth marked by moderation and the capacity to be happy with little. It is a return to that simplicity which allows us to stop and appreciate the small things, to be grateful for the opportunities which life affords us, to be spiritually detached from what we possess, and not to succumb to sadness for what we lack. This implies avoiding the dynamic of dominion and the mere accumulation of pleasures.


In 1978, Vaclev Havel, who led the non-violent Velvet Revolution and later became president of post-Soviet Czechoslovakia, wrote:
 

(The power of truth) does not reside in the strength of definable political or social groups, but chiefly in a potential, which is hidden throughout the whole of society, including the official power structures of that society. Therefore this power does not rely on soldiers of its own, but on soldiers of the enemy as it were—that is to say, on everyone who is living within the lie and who may be struck at any moment (in theory, at least) by the force of truth (or who, out of an instinctive desire to protect their position, may at least adapt to that force). It is a bacteriological weapon, so to speak, utilized when conditions are ripe by a single civilian to disarm an entire division…. This, too, is why the regime prosecutes, almost as a reflex action, preventatively, even modest attempts to live in truth.


Salaman wrote, "Climate truth has the potential to be more powerful than any country’s independence; more powerful that overthrowing authoritarian states; and more powerful than civil rights or any group’s struggle for safety, recognition and equality. Climate truth contains such superordinate power because all of those causes depend on a safe climate."

Will the Papal Encyclical make any real difference in the battle against climate change? One need only recall what happened in 1979, when John Paul II traveled to Poland and preached thirty-two sermons in nine days. Timothy Garton Ash put it this way, "Without the pope, no Solidarity. Without Solidarity, no Gorbachev. Without Gorbachev, no fall of communism." Bogdan Szajkowski said it was, "A psychological earthquake, an opportunity for mass political catharsis…"  The Poles who turned out by the millions looked around and saw they were not alone.  

Either you’re the Butcher or the Cattle

Off the keyboard of Jim Quinn

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Published on The Burning Platform on October 16, 2014

children-of-men

Discuss this article at the Kitchen Sink inside the Diner

I know many people have no interest in watching the boob tube because 99% of the programming is either mindless drivel or government sanctioned propaganda. It’s the 1% that reflects the deeper themes and moods engulfing our society. Television shows like Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, and The Walking Dead reflect the darkening mood of this intensifying Fourth Turning. I wrote one of my more pessimistic articles called Welcome to Terminus in April regarding the season four finale of the Walking Dead series. I essentially argued we are approaching the end of the line and the world is going to get real nasty.

twd-s04e16-06

In the six short months since I wrote that depressing article, we’ve seen men beheaded on Youtube videos by terrorists no one had ever heard of at the beginning of this year. Somehow a ragtag band of 30,000 Muslim terrorists, using American military equipment supplied to fight Assad in Syria and taken from the Iraqi Army when they turned tail and ran away, have been able to defeat 600,000 Iraqi and Kurd fighters with air support from the vaunted U.S. Air Force. Syria, Iraq, Libya, and Afghanistan descend into never ending religious based warfare. We’ve even had passenger planes mysteriously disappear in Asia with no trace.

Crimea seceded from Ukraine and rejoined Russia, initiating a plan to punish Russia by the western powers. America supported and planned the overthrow of a democratically elected government in the Ukraine, with a predictable push back response by Russia, leading to a bloody civil war in the Eastern Ukraine. We’ve had a false flag shooting down of an airliner over the Ukraine by the Ukrainian government, blamed on Russia and Putin by Obama and his EU co-conspirators. The American corporate media mouthpieces have ignored the cover-up of missing controller transmissions, black box recordings, and physical evidence regarding the murder of hundreds of innocent people by western politicians. Israel and Hamas resumed their endless religious war in Gaza, with thousands of casualties and destruction.

UK fear mongering and financial threats barely averted the secession of Scotland from the UK. Cantalonia continues to push for a secession vote to leave Spain. Violent protests have broken out in Spain, Italy, France and even Sweden. Turmoil, protests and riots in Brazil, Venezuela, Argentina and Mexico have been driven by anger at political corruption, high inflation, and general economic dysfunction. Saber rattling between China and Japan has increased and young people in Hong Kong have been protesting the lack of democratic elections being permitted by China. The world economy, undergoing central bank monetary stimulus withdraw, is headed back into recession as Germany, China and the U.S. join the rest of the world in economic decline. And now the Western Africa outbreak of ebola has gone worldwide, with predictions of an epidemic potentially causing worldwide economic chaos.

What’s happening in the real world makes the dystopian zombie world of Walking Dead seem almost quaint. The writers of this show brilliant use of symbolism and imagery captures the violent, chaotic, inhumane, darkening, brutal world we inhabit as the Fourth Turning crisis period we entered in 2008 deepens on a daily basis. There is a good reason why the first episode of their fifth season drew the biggest cable TV audience in history. The show is clearly tapping into the mood of the masses. Early in the latest episode you realize Terminus has become a processing center run by cannibals. The line between victim and criminal, killer and prey, good and evil, madness and sanity, and moral and immoral is blurred. Everything is relative in the post-pandemic world of the Walking Dead.

ee1feb20-143c-11e4-9c67-b1d71d17fcff_comic-con-2014-the-walking-dead-season-5-trailer-_0021_Layer-17

Seeing Wall Street cannibals walk away unscathed after devouring the worldwide economic system in 2008 with their fraudulent financial schemes, corrupt politicians enriched by throwing taxpayers under the bus, militarized police forces trampling the Fourth Amendment, the NSA spying on every American, a private central bank enriching their owners by funneling trillions into their bank vaults, a president trampling on the Constitution by issuing executive orders to bypass the other branches of government, and billions of welfare and tax fraud from the urban ghettos to the penthouse suites in NYC, has convinced a large swath of Americans that everything is relative and nothing matters in our warped dystopian world. Right and wrong no longer matter. Morality is an antiquated concept. Adhering to the Constitution is an outmoded notion. Our society celebrates and condones our dog eat dog economic paradigm. Or zombie eats anything world in the case of Walking Dead.

The Terminus complex is reminiscent of the concentration camp in Schindler’s List. It is complete with railroad cars to hold the prisoners, gates with barbed wire, armed guards, and extermination facilities to “process” the prisoners. Thick black smoke belches into the air. There is a room stacked full of booty, teddy bears, watches, clothes – everything except the gold fillings.The Nazi like precision and attention to detail is reflected in the almost business-like method in which the Terminus administrators go about gutting their prey. The bone chilling efficiency and antiseptic processing facility evoke memories of the holocaust gas chambers. The opening sequence when Rick, Daryl, Glenn and Bob are among a group of men lined up to be gutted like pigs over a trough in place to collect their spilled blood, might have been the most brutal scene ever put on non-premium cable TV.

The callous and dispassionate way in which the prisoners (cattle) are lined up in front of a stainless steel trough is disconcerting and bone chilling. The victims are hit with a baseball bat and then their throats are slit over the trough by men in protective suits. They have become nothing but cattle to be butchered and consumed by the Terminus cannibals. You see another part of the processing plant where human remains are hanging from hooks like sides of beef. Gareth, the leader of Terminus, supervises the operation like a CEO, berating the butchers for not meeting quotas and following standard operating procedures. Not much different than how our mega-corporations are run today.

thewalkingdead_season5_trailer

The other fascinating similarity between the dystopian “nightmare of want” setting of Terminus and our modern day dystopian “empire of excess” is the use of false advertising and propaganda to lure “customers” into their web. Their version of billboard advertising was plywood with the hand written messages of “Sanctuary for All”, “Community for All”, and “Those Who Arrive Survive”. The Terminus cannibals would have fit in well on Madison Avenue with the highly paid spin artists, propagandists, and whores for the corporate oligarchs.

The signs along train tracks and radio transmissions from a call center like facility showed the calculated business-like efficiency of the cannibals in systematically and methodically luring victims to their slaughterhouse. It is the same techniques used by the apostles of Edward Bernays to consciously and intelligently manipulate the habits, opinions, tastes, ideas and actions of the masses, in order to control and influence their buying habits, voting decisions, and support of their rulers. The unseen men who constitute the “invisible government” use these techniques to keep the cattle docile, fed, and ignorant, as they are led to slaughter.

The government and lack thereof is always lurking in the murky background of how and why the United States has devolved into an infected world of the walking dead. This episode provided some clues about government labs producing viruses as weapons to be used against some unexplained enemy. The insinuation is that the government somehow lost control of the virus and the ensuing pandemic destroyed our modern world and left the survivors to battle the biters and each other for the remaining scraps. The Federal government caused the societal collapse and is nowhere to be found in rebuilding the nation.

It is unclear how the apocalypse went down, but you can assume it began with fear, which led to panic, chaos, economic collapse, violent upheaval, war, and total breakdown of governmental authority and control. It is ironic that today fear of a worldwide ebola pandemic is coinciding with an inevitable economic implosion, wars raging in the Middle East, violent protests raging around the globe, and trust in governmental authority plunging to all-time lows. The Walking Dead has wittingly or unwittingly captured the ambiance of our turbulent times.

When you are faced with desperate circumstances you can either do whatever you need to survive or you can submissively accept your fate and die. Gareth and his cannibalistic cohorts had been in the same situation as Rick and his posse, but they had somehow turned the tables on their captors. Gareth’s survival of the fittest creed was “either you’re the butcher or you’re the cattle”. Human beings react to intense pressure and life threatening situations in different ways. Some people snap and turn into monsters, like Gareth. Some people snap and lose their minds. Others, like Rick and Carol, summon an inner strength to do whatever it takes to survive while barely maintaining their humanity. Others turn into blind followers of a strong forceful leader, not questioning the morality, legality or humanity of what they are ordered to do. The line between right and wrong, necessary versus unnecessary, vengeance versus justice, and butcher versus cattle is blurred in a world without rules, government or accepted norms.

I believe the “butcher or cattle” analogy is sadly a valid meme for the world we currently inhabit. In the Walking Dead world, individuals must choose to be butcher or cattle. It’s a Darwinian world of kill or be killed. Like minded individuals with common values and goals form communities to protect themselves, provide for themselves, and attempt to bring a semblance of order in a chaotic world. The community of Westbury, led by the governor and the community of Terminus, led by Gareth, are founded upon a foundation of evil and ultimately destroyed. Rick’s community of liberty minded freedom fighters do whatever is necessary to survive, but retain their humanity, decency and desire to create a better world.

Our present day world may not be as brutish as the Walking Dead world, though the line between reality and fiction is often indistinguishable when you turn on the news, but the distinction between butchers and cattle is clear. The elected and non-elected rulers of the deep state are the butchers, sending young men off to die for oil companies and arms dealers, impoverishing the masses through inflation and their control of the currency, and enriching themselves through their complete control of the political, financial, judicial, and economic systems. This establishment, or invisible government as Bernays described, is committed to its own enrichment and perpetuation. Its scope, financial resources, and global reach put it in a predator class all by itself.

The common people are the cattle being led to slaughter. We are kept docile with incessant propaganda from the mainstream media; marketing messages to consume from Madison Avenue; filtered, adjusted, manipulated economic data fed to us by government agencies; an endless supply of iGadgets and other electronic distractions; government education designed to keep us ignorant; 24/7 reality TV on six hundred stations to keep us entertained; corporate toxic processed food to keep us obese and tame; and an endless supply of Wall Street supplied debt to keep us caged in our pens with no hope of escape. The butchers of the deep state have maintained control for decades, but we’re entering a new era.

Fourth Turnings result in the tables being turned on the butchers. Some cattle are awakening from their stupor. They can see the bloody writing on the slaughterhouse wall. Anyone who isn’t sensing a dramatic mood change in this country is either a mindless zombie or a functionary of the deep state. The financial shenanigans of the ruling class are again being revealed as nothing but a Ponzi scheme built on a foundation of debt and propped up by delusions and ignorance. When the house of cards collapses in the near future, the tables will turn. When people have nothing left to lose, they will lose it. The butchers will become the cattle. There will be no sanctuary for these evil men. Their reign of terror will be swept away in a whirlwind of retribution, death and destruction. It might even make the Walking Dead look like a walk in the park.

 

Welcome to Terminus

Off the keyboard of Jim Quinn

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Published on The Burning Platform on April 6, 2014

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Discuss this article at the Kitchen Sink inside the Diner

“Life improves slowly and goes wrong fast, and only catastrophe is clearly visible.” Edward Teller

 

I was a late arrival to the Walking Dead television program. I don’t watch much of the mindless drivel passing for entertainment on the 600 worthless channels available 24/7 on cable TV. I assumed it was another superficial zombie horror show on par with the teenage vampire crap polluting the airwaves. Last year a friend told me I had to watch the show. I was hooked immediately and after some marathon watching of seasons one and two, I understood the various storylines and back stories. What the show doesn’t openly reveal is the deeper meanings, symbolism, and lessons we can learn from viewing human beings trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. In my opinion, the horror and gore is secondary to the human responses to horrific circumstances and the consequences of individual and group decisions to their survival.

As the end of season four approached, the disbursed characters were descending upon a place called Terminus. They were drawn by the intriguing and hopeful signs posted at various railroad junctions promising sanctuary, community and survival. Of course the name Terminus does not sound very inviting or hopeful. There are multiple possible meanings regarding Terminus. The Roman god Terminus protected boundary markers and sacrifices were performed to sanctify each boundary stone. The bones, ashes, and blood of a sacrificial victim, along with crops, honeycombs, and wine, were placed into a hole at a point where estates converged, and the stone was driven in on top. Maintaining boundaries and sacrifice are major themes throughout the series.

The show is set in the metropolitan Atlanta area of Georgia and the surrounding countryside. It just so happens that during the 1830s Terminus was the name of a settlement at the end of the Western and Atlantic railroad line. That settlement is now Atlanta. Terminus is also the title of the final poem ever composed by Ralph Waldo Emerson. The poem focuses on a conversation between the author and the god Terminus, discussing the author’s forthcoming death. The message of the poem is to resist fear and prepare for death. The destination is worth the journey.

“As the bird trims her to the gale,

I trim myself to the storm of time,

I man the rudder, reef the sail,

Obey the voice at eve obeyed at prime:

“Lowly faithful, banish fear,

Right onward drive unharmed;

The port, well worth the cruise, is near,

And every wave is charmed.”

We are only given a short time on this earth and the end of the line will be the same for everyone. What matters is how we conduct ourselves during our own journey towards our personal Terminus. Have we served as a virtuous example for our children, sacrificed for others, and benefited humanity or have we displayed greed, avarice and selfishness during our trek through life? As we approach our own meeting with destiny, the actions and morality of individuals will matter. I don’t know the motivations of the writers creating the themes for the Walking Dead, but the show connects with me on a number of levels. I look around and see hordes of zombies everywhere.

Zombification of America

“The real hopeless victims of mental illness are to be found among those who appear to be most normal. Many of them are normal because they are so well adjusted to our mode of existence, because their human voice has been silenced so early in their lives that they do not even struggle or suffer or develop symptoms as the neurotic does. They are normal not in what may be called the absolute sense of the word; they are normal only in relation to a profoundly abnormal society. Their perfect adjustment to that abnormal society is a measure of their mental sickness. These millions of abnormally normal people, living without fuss in a society to which, if they were fully human beings, they ought not to be adjusted.” – Aldous Huxley – Brave New World Revisited

The vast majority of the population in the post-apocalyptic world of the Walking Dead is mindless zombies driven by only their need to feed upon human flesh. They are infected with a disease that disables the cognitive portion of their brains and leaves them as slobbering predatory zombies seeking to satisfy their vile needs. They are referred to as “walkers” or “biters” as they aimlessly roam the countryside seeking human flesh. Everyone bitten or killed by a zombie is infected and turned into a zombie. The only way to stop them is by destroying their brain. The relentless violence and gore is not for the squeamish, but is probably a realistic portrayal of the brutishness and harsh conditions that will overwhelm this country once the electrical grid goes down, fuel becomes scarce and the global supply chain fails. Our just in time society is about one week from chaos, lawlessness, starvation and death on a grand scale.

As I watch the hordes of hideous brain dead zombies shuffling across the apocalyptic landscape seeking to satiate their basest cravings I can’t help but see the parallels with the millions of mindless tattooed obese slobs waddling across mall parking lots past vacant store fronts staring zombielike at their iGadgets as they seek to satisfy their basest desires at Macy’s and Chipotle. A virus has overspread our country causing a vast swath of the population to gratuitously assuage their every want without thinking of the consequences. The sickness is caused by being imprisoned for twelve years in government run public schools, watching thousands of hours of propaganda emitted by the corporate media, viewing hundreds of brain cell destroying reality TV shows, reading and sending thousands of texts and tweets, and being overwhelmed by the delusional belief spending more than they make, saving nothing, and piling up mountains of debt is the path to success in our contaminated society.

In the show there is no clear explanation as to why the majority of the population have been infected and turned into zombies, while a tiny minority is unaffected and able to think critically and act rationally. It is revealed that all living people are infected with the zombie virus, but it remains dormant in a minority of the survivors. Death by any means triggers the virus and turns the corpse into a mindless flesh eating zombie. There are 318 million Americans and a majority of them fall into the category of zombies in my estimation. Every American has the zombie virus within them. It has been incubated by corrupt vote seeking politicians, control hungry government sociopaths, mind numbingly worthless public education, and the relentless dumbing down through corporate media propaganda and vacuous reality TV entertainment. Once cogent thinking aware citizens have been zombiefied into mindless impulsive consumers.

How can you not see the parallels between American society and the zombies in the Walking Dead? Walk down any city street in America and you see hordes shuffling along staring with blank faces and glazed over eyes at their iGadgets. Black Friday is identical to flinging a freshly slaughtered hog in front of the flesh eating zombies. Americans flock to malls across our apocalyptic suburban sprawl landscape and proceed to stampede, gouge, and punch their way to a fantastic bargain on a Chinese slave labor produced microwave they must have to cook their toxic frankenfood created by one of our corporate food conglomerates. The Black Friday crowds actually make the zombies from the Walking Dead seem well behaved. While the American zombies are shambling through superficial lives of pleasure seeking, mass consumption, and a delusional faith in debt based wealth, there is still a minority of rational thinking people who can control their impulses and resist the disease devouring our culture.

“Our economy is based on spending billions to persuade people that happiness is buying things, and then insisting that the only way to have a viable economy is to make things for people to buy so they’ll have jobs and get enough money to buy things.” ― Philip Slater                  

Collapse Will Be Sudden

“That’s the thing about the collapse of civilization. It never happens according to plan – there’s no slavering horde of zombies. No actinic flash of thermonuclear war. No Earth-shuddering asteroid. The end comes in unforeseen ways; the stock market collapses, and then the banks, and then there is no food in the supermarkets, or the communications system goes down completely and inevitably, and previously amiable co-workers find themselves wrestling over the last remaining cookie that someone brought in before all the madness began.” ― Mark A. Rayner – The Fridgularity

What you note after watching a few episodes of the Walking Dead is that collapse happened suddenly. Cities, towns, houses and highways remained relatively intact. The decay and deterioration caused by neglect and abandonment are the only visible signs that modern civilization has ceased. The show highlights the life-threatening difficulty of enduring on a day to day basis without the certainty of shelter, food, water, and fuel. The average asleep American isn’t prepared to last one week without the basics of modern life. They haven’t stocked any food, water or fuel in case of an emergency. Their normalcy bias keeps them from even considering the high likelihood of even a natural disaster caused by a hurricane, snowstorm, or earthquake. Recent examples of most people’s complete helplessness were the snow and ice storms that struck this past winter and hurricanes Sandy and Katrina. Without power and access to food and water, modern society breaks down quickly, with chaos, looting and anarchy only days away.

It is unlikely that collapse of civilization as we know it will happen due to some extreme event such as nuclear war, super volcano, or asteroid. When our central banker masters of the universe trigger the next financial system collapse, with no monetary bullets of debasement left in their pop gun, the resulting chaos when ATMs stop spitting out $20 bills and EBT cards for 47 million people stop functioning at Wally World will be epic. We got a glimpse into the future this past October when the EBT system went down in several states for a few hours on a Saturday afternoon. Zombies began to ransack Wal-Mart stores attempting to steal as much as they could get away with. Chaos, anger and criminal behavior was virtually instantaneous. A vast swath of EBT dependent zombies live in our numerous urban ghettos and when the EBT system goes down permanently violence will quickly erupt. Police will be vastly out-numbered, hungry mobs will become armed gangs of violent looters burning down their ghettos, ransacking and plundering businesses, stores and homes, and stealing everything that isn’t nailed down. Visualize the L.A. riots after the Rodney King verdict in every urban area in the country.

The fragility of our debt financed oil dependent just in time global supply chain system is beyond the comprehension of the average zombie American. They are too distracted by mass consuming the products dependent on that very same fragile scheme. They are clueless zombie-like dupes who believe $20 bills magically appear in ATMs, Funyuns and Cheetos miraculously materialize on Wal-Mart shelves, gasoline endlessly bubbles up from the ground into the hose they stick in their $40,000 monster SUVs “bought” with a 0% seven year loan from Ally Financial, and that enchanted plastic card with a magnetic strip empowers them to fulfill every craving like a zombie feeding on a dead carcass.

There is a worldwide currency and petroleum war being waged today as too much fiat currency is chasing a dwindling amount of cheap petroleum supplies. The developed world has experienced a century of relative illusory prosperity as cheap easy to access fuel and cheap easy to print fiat currency have led zombies to believe progress and prosperity are their god given right. The most highly educated zombies will be the most shocked when they realize the reality they believed was all an illusion. The Starbucks “Triple, Venti, Half Sweet, Non-Fat, Caramel Macchiato” crowd who isolate themselves in their 100% financed 5,000 square foot luxury cookie cutter brick McMansions amidst 200 other identical McMansions occupied by reclusive strangers in enclaves pretentiously named The Preserve at Meadow Lakes, and driving multiple leased BMWs, are about as prepared for a collapse of modern society as a helpless child. The suburban wasteland of strip malls, office parks, and fast food joints is completely dependent upon an endless supply of cheap oil and cheap credit.

The cracks in this delusionary foundation are visible for all to see as Space Available signs outnumber actual businesses, pothole dotted highways deteriorate, sewer lines crack, and houses in disrepair outnumber those being kept up. It takes money to keep a home from deteriorating and it happens to be in short supply for 90% of the population. Despite the non-stop money printing operation at the Fed and the mainstream media fantasy stories of shale oil energy independence, the suburban dream is turning into a nightmare. When the inevitable financial implosion strikes in the next few years, the illusion of progress will come to an end. The inner cities will explode in violence and will burn. The police will be helpless and scared. There will be death on a large scale.

Suburbia will turn into a lawless landscape where neighbors turn on each other, as they have failed to create real communities. The isolation and seclusion which have marked suburban existence for the last thirty years will contribute to the creation of criminal gangs looting and pillaging stores, businesses and unprotected homes. After the collapse the only people likely to survive relatively unscathed are rural folk. Farmers, ranchers and those capable of living off the land have the abilities to endure a breakdown in our modern society. These people are prepared, know how to use firearms and create communities of self-sufficiency. No one will thrive in the world coming our way, but those not dependent upon or tied to our modern societal paradigm have a better chance to survive.

“If people feel lost and alone and helpless and broken and hopeless today, what will it be like if the world really begins to come apart at the hinges?” Brandon Andress – And Then the End Will Come!

Individualism vs Community

“The values to which people cling most stubbornly under inappropriate conditions are those values that were previously the source of their greatest triumphs.” Jared Diamond – Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed

Our society has always glorified rugged individualism. We celebrate individual accomplishments and make heroes of those who have gone it alone and triumphed either in business, politics, sports, or the arts. Overcoming tremendous obstacles and going it alone in the face of adversity has been the narrative Americans admire and seek to emulate. Even the reality TV shows about preppers focus on individuals who plan on going it alone when civilization enters collapse mode. These rugged loners take pride in individualism, build bunkers, amass small arsenals and stockpile food and supplies. They will likely survive the initial onslaught of collapse and first wave of violence. But how long can an individual expect to survive alone in a Walking Dead environment? The traits which were appropriate and rewarded in modern society will be inappropriate and fatal in a post-modern society. A lesson from the show is clearly that a community of like-minded individuals working together has a better chance at long-term survival than a loner. Just make sure you join the right community.

With hordes of flesh eating automatons roaming the countryside it was essential for the living to form communities in order to fend off the zombies, protect each other, provide shelter, and forage for food. An individual alone had no chance at survival as falling asleep would ultimately prove fatal if a zombie stumbled upon your camp. The group led by Sheriff Rick Grimes eventually creates a community within the gates of an abandoned prison. The irony of seeing mindless throngs of soulless killers attempting to breakdown the fences to get “into” the prison is not lost on the audience. At first, the occupants of the prison would leave on foraging/pillaging missions to nearby cities and towns attempting to find food, medical supplies, gasoline and any other essential necessities of life. Eventually Hershel, the wise old man of the community, convinced Rick that cultivating the soil, sowing seeds and growing their own food was the only chance for their community to thrive over the long haul. Working with your hands is refreshing to the soul. Jesus’ Parable of the Sower immediately comes to mind.

Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow: And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the birds of the air came and devoured it up. And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. And some fell among thorns, the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. And other fell on good ground, did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, some an hundred. He said unto them, He that has ears to hear, let him hear. Mark 4:3-9

Some communities are evil at their core and will commit malevolent atrocities. Some communities will appear ethical, but when hardship strikes they will fall back to their wicked ways. Communities of those addicted to riches and wealth will ignore the pleas of the downtrodden and wail and gnash their teeth when their worldly wealth evaporates.  A fruitful community that chooses decent honorable leaders, adopts a moral code, treats all members with respect, encourages hard work and accountability, and plans for the future, will reap the benefits of sustainability and stability. Cultivating a good community is difficult, requiring sacrifice, compromise, hard work, difficult choices, and depends upon the goodwill of all members. Rick tried to become a farmer, but Carol saw the future clearly telling him, “you can be a farmer, you can’t just be a farmer”. A peaceful happy ending was not to be.

The community of Woodbury, led by a despicably evil man referred to as the governor, gave outward appearances of stability and health. But it was ruled through fear, intimidation, vindictiveness and evil. Leaders like the governor arise during desperate times when the weak seek someone who promises to save them and keep them safe. Leaders like the governor are far more savage, ruthless and dangerous than the flesh eating zombie hordes because they kill with malicious intent, fully knowledgeable of the consequences of their actions. Eventually good communities led by good people must stand up and fight bad communities led by evil men, no matter the consequences. Under dire circumstances and an uncertain future we will need to decide what kind of community we will be. What kind of people we will be. Will we fight for a better future for our children? Can we retain our humanity or will we become no better than the walking dead?

Brutal: Hershel awaits his fate at the hands of The Governor on last night's The Walking Dead

“What fascinates me is not so much humanity’s engulfment in darkness, but what kind of culture we will construct from the rubble of this one.” Carolyn Baker – Collapsing Consciously: Transformative Truths for Turbulent Times

Who Are the Real Walking Dead?

The central question permeating the Walking Dead is whether the living can maintain their humanity amidst so much horror, brutality, death, and desolation. Can the living continue to show compassion, kindness, mercy and love in a world torn apart by disarray, violence, viciousness and despair?  Throughout the series those who haven’t “turned” still have the capacity to empathize, comfort one another, offer succor, and show mercy and kindness. But after enduring unending horrors, cruelty, death and sorrow, it appears some of the characters are “turning” into the very monsters pursuing them.

Every human being has their breaking point. The main characters must commit increasingly heinous acts in order to survive. The walkers have no choice. Their humanity was stripped from them by the virus. The living have a choice. The mental anguish pushes some (Lizzy) over the edge into insanity. Others (Michonne and Carl) are torn by guilt that they have become monsters. Carol justifies her ruthlessness as the only choice for survival – just like the walkers. The seismic shift occurs when Rick, seeing his son being sexually assaulted, goes full zombie and bites the jugular of his captor and relentlessly stabs his son’s attacker. Daryl kills one of the bad guys by crushing his skull with his boot. Many of the characters have made a choice to shed their humanity in order to protect their family and friends. As the series completes its fourth season we are left with a question. Are the zombies really the “walking dead” or are the living really the “walking dead”?

Life is complicated and those seeking simplicity and consistency will be terribly disappointed. The future is not going to be bright for our empire of debt and delusions. Times that will try men’s souls are on the horizon. The choices we make as individuals and communities will matter. Every human being has the capacity for good or evil. We will be alone in deciding whether we gravitate toward the dark side of our character or whether we make a stand for all that is noble and decent. Retaining our humanity during the trials and tribulations that await us will be crucial to creating a community that is sustainable and a future worth living and fighting for. It is clear that Terminus is not a true sanctuary for all. It permeates evil. As all of the “good” people are herded into a single boxcar I couldn’t help but see the parallels of the Nazis herding the Jews into boxcars for their final destination. Passive submission to an evil authority never ends well.

As the door is slammed shut and the protagonists are reunited, Rick declares “they’re gonna feel pretty stupid when they find out.” Abraham then asks “find out what?” Rick’s “they’re screwing with the wrong people” response confirms his transformation from an ambivalent reluctant leader into a powerful figure who will do anything necessary to protect his family, friends and community. This Fourth Turning has yet to reach its bloody, violent, chaotic zenith. The popularity of shows like the Walking Dead is a sign of the darkening mood change in this country. With our fragile fraudulent finance driven eco-system teetering on the edge, the threat of collapse is ever present. Within one week of a financial system collapse we would enter a Walking Dead like scenario. Each American who hasn’t already been infected with the zombie virus needs to prepare now and decide what kind of person they will become as the collapse engulfs our society. We all exit this world as we entered it – alone. But we have the wherewithal to positively impact the rebuilding of our culture from the rubble of this one. Are you ready to meet the deadly trials ahead? The choices we make over the next decade will determine if this is the end of the line for our civilization or a new beginning..

 

“We live together, we act on, and react to, one another; but always and in all circumstances we are by ourselves. The martyrs go hand in hand into the arena; they are crucified alone. By its very nature every embodied spirit is doomed to suffer and enjoy in solitude. Sensations, feelings, insights, fancies—all these are private and, except through symbols and at second hand, incommunicable. We can pool information about experiences, but never the experiences themselves. From family to nation, every human group is a society of island universes.” Aldous Huxley – Doors of Perception

Take it to the Bank

Off the keyboard of Jim Quinn

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Published on The Burning Platform on November 17, 2013

Strip_Mall

Discuss this article at the Economics Table inside the Diner

iStock 000016651896Small 2 300x199 What to Do When Your Bank Branch ClosesReports like the recent one from SNL Financial – Branch Networks Continue to Shrink really get my goat. As I travel the increasingly vacant highways of Montgomery County, PA I’m keenly aware of my surroundings. If I were a foreigner visiting for the first time, I’d think Space Available was the hot new retailer in the country. I’ve detailed the slow disintegration of our suburban sprawl paradise in previous articles:

Available

Are you Seeing What I’m Seeing?

More than 30 Blocks of Grey and Decay

Extend & Pretend Coming to an End

Thousands of Space Available signs dot the bleak landscape, as office buildings, strip malls, and industrial complexes wither and die. Gas stations are shuttered on a daily basis as the ongoing depression results in less miles being driven by unemployed and underemployed suburbanites. At least the Chinese “Space Available” sign manufacturers are doing well. The only buildings doing brisk business are the food banks and homeless shelters.

 

The sad part is that I live in a relatively prosperous county with a low level of SNAP recipients and primarily occupied by a white collar college educated populace. If the clear downward spiral in my upper middle class county is an indication of our country’s path, the less well-off counties across the land must be in deep trouble.

While hundreds of thousands of square feet of retail, restaurant, office and industrial space have been vacated in the last six years, the only entities expanding in my area have been banks, drug stores, municipal buildings and healthcare facilities. I have been flabbergasted by what I’ve viewed as a complete waste of resources to create facilities that weren’t needed and wouldn’t be utilized. I have seven drug stores within five miles of my house. I have ten bank branches within five miles of my house. While two perfectly fine older hospitals in Norristown were abandoned, a brand new $300 million super deluxe, glass encased Einstein Hospital palace was built three miles away by a barely above junk bond status non-profit institution. None of this makes sense in a contracting economy.

This is another classic case of mal-investment spurred by the Federal Reserve easy money policies, zero interest rates, and QEternity. Cheap money leads to bad investments. I’m all for competition between drug store chains and banks. CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid are the three big chains in the country. I have my pick of multiple stores close to my house. There are clearly too many stores competing for a dwindling number of customers, with a dwindling supply of disposable income. The only reason Rite Aid is still in the picture is the easy money policies of the Federal Reserve. They have been teetering on the verge of bankruptcy for the last five years, but continue to get cheap financing from the Wall Street cabal, who would rather pretend they will get paid, than write-off the bad debt. Who in their right mind would continue to lend money to a company with $6 billion in debt, NEGATIVE $2.3 billion of equity, and losses exceeding $2 billion since 2008? They are the poster child for badly run businesses that over expanded, took on too much debt and should be liquidated. There are over 4,600 zombie Rite Aid stores littering the countryside waiting to be put out of their misery.

the walking dead season 4 rick grimes  rite-aid-corner-abandoned

Rite Aid will never repay the $6 billion of debt. They know it. Their auditors know it. Their Wall Street lenders know it. The Federal Reserve Bank regulators know it. Anyone with a functioning brain knows it. Tune in to CNBC for those who are paid to keep clueless investors from knowing it. Interest rates that actually reflected risk and weren’t manipulated to an artificially low level by the Federal Reserve would make financing for a dog like Rite Aid a non-starter. Creative destruction would be allowed to work its magic, with winners separated from losers. Instead Rite Aid continues as a zombie entity, barely surviving for now. This exact scenario applies to J.C. Penney, RadioShack, Sears and a myriad of other dead retailers walking. Rather than suffering the consequences of appalling management judgment, dreadful strategic decisions, and reckless financial gambles, they have been allowed to remain on life support compliments of Bernanke, his Wall Street chiefs, and the American taxpayer.

In a truly free, non-manipulated market the weak would be culled, new dynamic competitors would fill the void, and consumers would benefit.  Extending debt payment schedules of zombie entities and pretending you will get paid has been the mantra of the insolvent zombie Wall Street banks since 2009. The Federal Reserve is responsible for zombifying the entire country. And it wasn’t a mistake. It was a choice made by those in power in order to maintain the status quo. The fateful day in March 2009 when the pencil pushing lightweight accountants at the FASB rescinded mark to market accounting rules gave birth to zombie nation. And not coincidently, marked the bottom for the stock market. Wall Street banks were free to fabricate their earnings, pretend they didn’t have hundreds of billions in bad loans on their books, and extend the terms of commercial real estate loans that were in default. With their taxpayer funded TARP ransom, ability to borrow at 0% from Uncle Ben, and the $3 trillion of QE cocaine snorted up their noses in the last four years, the mal-investment, fraud, and idiocy of the Wall Street drug addicts has reached a crescendo.

Commerce Bank

The mal-investment by zombie drug store chains has only been exceeded by the foolish, egocentric, insane bank branch expansion by the Too Big To Trust Wall Street CEOs. In the last ten years dozens of bank branches have been built in the vicinity of my house and across the state of Pennsylvania. These gleaming glass TARP palaces are on virtually every other street corner across Montgomery County. Stunning, glittery, colorful branches stuffed with bank employees pretending to loan money to non-existent customers. They have become nothing but a high priced marketing billboard with an ATM attached. By 2010, the number of bank branches in this country had reached almost 100,000. The vast majority are run by the usual insolvent suspects:

Wells Fargo – 6,500

J.P. Morgan – 6,000

Bank of America – 5,700

The top ten biggest banks, in addition to holding the vast majority of deposits, mortgages and credit card accounts, operate 33% of all the bank branches in the country. The very same banks that have paid out $66 billion in criminal settlement charges over the last three years and have incurred $103 billion of legal fees to defend themselves against the thousands of actions brought by victims for their criminal misdeeds, decided it was a wise decision to open new bank branches from 2007 through 2010. Only an Ivy League educated MBA could possibly think this was a good idea.

It was almost as if the CEO’s of the biggest Wall Street banks didn’t care about pissing away the $2.5 million to build the average 3,500 square foot bank branch, which would require $30 million of deposits to breakeven. This level of deposits isn’t easy to achieve when your customers are unemployed due to your bank destroying the American economy, broke due to their real household income declining by 10% over the past fourteen years, and your bank paying them .15% on their deposits. It also probably doesn’t help when you charge them $3 every time they withdraw their own money from your bank and you charge them $25 when their bank balance falls below $1,000 because they just got laid off from Merck on Christmas Eve. It is now estimated that one-third of all bank branches in the country lose money. Who can afford to run something that consistently losses money, other than our government? Wall Street bankers can when the taxpayer is footing the bill and Bernanke/Yellen subsidizes their mal-investment by lending to them at 0%, providing them $2.5 billion per day of QE play money, and paying them $5 billion per year in interest to park the excess reserves that aren’t getting leant to small businesses and consumers at their thousands of gleaming bank branches.

Hasn’t one of the thousands of highly educated MBA vice presidents occupying offices at the Too Big To Control Wall Street banks explained to Stumpf, Dimon and Monyihan that bricks and mortar are dead? A new invention called the internet has made in-person banking virtually obsolete. Why does anyone need to go into a bank branch in this electronic age? I’ve been in my credit union branch five times in the last ten years, twice for a refinance closing on my home and a couple times to get a certified check. With ATM machines, direct deposit and on-line bill paying, why would the country need 100,000 physical bank locations? I pay 90% of my bills on-line. If I need cash, I hit the ATM at Wawa, where there are no ATM fees (my credit union doesn’t charge me to get my own money). The only people who go into bank branches on a regular basis are old fogeys that don’t trust that new-fangled internet. The older generations are dying out and the millennial generation has no need for bank branches. Their iGadgets function as their bank connection. Plus, since they don’t have jobs or money, a bank account at the local bank branch of J.P. Morgan seems a bit trite.

The writing had been on the wall for a long time, but the reckless bank executives continued to build branches in an ego driven desire to outdo their equally irresponsible competitor bank executives. Now the race is on to see which banks can close the most branches. Bank consultant Jim Adkins succinctly sums up the pure idiocy of physical bank branches:

“There’s almost nobody in the branches. You could shoot water balloons all over the place and not hit anybody.”

It seems my humble state of Pennsylvania leads the pack in closing branches in the past year, with 149 abandoned and only 43 opened. Only two states in the entire country had more branch openings than closings.

After shuttering 2,267 branches in 2012, the industry is on track to closing another 2,500 in 2013. Shockingly, the leader of the Wall Street zombie apocalypse, Bank of America, led the pack in bank branch closings with 194 in the last year. Staying true to his hubristic arrogance, Jamie Dimon actually opened 62 more branches than he closed in the last year, despite his upstanding institution having to pay tens of billions in fines, settlements and pay-offs for their criminal transgressions.

There are now 93,000 bank branches remaining in this country, and one third of them don’t generate a profit. That percentage will grow as the older generations rapidly die out and are replaced by the techno-narcissists who never leave their family rooms.  Online banking already accounts for 53% of banking transactions, compared with 14% for in-branch visits. Younger bank customers increasingly prefer online and mobile banking, as advancing technology enables them to make remote deposits, shop for loans and manage accounts more efficiently from their desktops or smartphones. This trend will only accelerate in the years to come.

Banking industry profits reached a record level of $141 billion in 2012 as more vacancy signs appeared on Main Street. Now that the Wall Street cabal have syphoned every ounce of blood from their customers/victims through ATM fees, overdraft fees, minimum balance fees, credit card fees, late payment fees, and paying no interest on deposits, they are forced to focus on the $300,000 average loss per bank branch. QE and ZIRP might not last forever. Yeah right. AlixPartners, a New York consulting firm, expects the number of bank branches to drop to 80,000 over the next decade. They are wrong. They have failed to take into account the lemming like behavior of Wall Street banks. As their accounting gimmicks to generate fake profits dissipate, the increasingly desperate insolvent zombie banks will rapidly vacate their prime corner locations in droves. With approximately 30,000 locations already generating losses, the Wall Street MBAs will be closing branches quicker than you can say “mortgage fraud”. There will be less than 70,000 branches within the next five years. That means another 20,000 to 30,000 Space Available signs going up on Main Street. That means another 200,000 to 300,000 neighbors without jobs. But don’t worry about Jamie Dimon and the rest of the Wall Street bankers. They’ll be just fine. In addition to being endlessly fed by the Fed, they’ll get creative and charge their customers a new bank branch access fee of $50 for the privilege of entering one of their few remaining outlets. By now we should know how cash flows to Main Street in this corporate fascist paradise.

140226 600 Cash Flow cartoons

Do your part to starve the beast. Move your bank accounts to a local credit union. Don’t support criminals.

 

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

Off the keyboard of Jim Quinn

Published on The Burning Platform on September 10, 2013

Cuckoos_Nest

Discuss this article at the Geopolitics Table inside the Diner

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

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

 

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

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

 

Increase in Real GDP per Dollar of Incremental Debt

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

Five Stages of Collapse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monetary Base (billions of USD)

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

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

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

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

In Whom Do You Trust?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 IT’S OUR CHOICE.

Zombie Snake’n a Box

Off the keyboard of Lucid Dreams

Published on Epiphany Now on June 26, 2013

ninja fox

Discuss this article at the Zombie Rehab Table inside the Diner

One of the main questions that came up in the discussion about Zombies, over at the Doomstead Diner, is whether killing them is advisable or not. The main concern is that the title “Zombie” is a demonizing title that places blame for the American Hologram in the wrong place. Rather than blaming the rich, sociopathic, Corporatocracy Masters that have the good fortune of being on top of the pyramid, we are blaming the “Zombies” who are too worthless to live. Apparently the Libertarians have co-opted the word to describe retired government workers with pensions. Cause, you know, the retired government workers with pensions are the main reason why we can’t get the budget balanced? Never mind the hundreds of billions a year just keeping the military machine kickin’ ass and takin’ brown people’s gas, or the billions in government subsidized CEO bonuses, or the trillions of printed dollars given to the same sociopathic assholes running the too big to fail banks, it’s the government pensioners that are the Zombies suckin’ the balance out of the budget. Fuck politics…and that concludes my response to the libertarians and their co-opting of the word “Zombie.” I’ve gone to great lengths to outline, describe, and define what I consider Zombies to be, and I will not be doing so again. I want to talk about the possibility of killing zombies in a post-collapse scenario to protect and defend your post-petroleum tribe’s resources.
Naturally the discussion about killing zombies ended up in the realm of religion. “Man does not live by bread alone,” inevitably came up. True, man doesn’t live by bread alone, but he can’t live without it either. He will die without the bread, and the zombies want his bread, so what’s man to do? Especially a man with children and a wife to keep alive. Recently I’ve had cause to reflect on the action of killing due to participating in some killin’ myself. Basically, best I can tell, life requires death. This is true all the way to the level of virus (which aren’t technically considered living organisms). In order for the virus to replicate cells must die. Seems the only life forms that don’t directly require death are plants and autotrophs. The rest of us need shit to die in order for us to live. To illustrate my point, I’m going to use an anecdote from my recent life.
I have 3 Rhode Island Red hens, 11 Deleware Hens, and a Rhode Island Red rooster named Archimedes all living in a chicken shack that I’ve created via Scavenge Engineering named “Eggmahal.” It’s been dubbed Eggmahal cause that’s where my hens poop out the nutritious back yard chicken eggs that I feed to my family and sell. I sell the eggs for 3 dollars a dozen in an attempt to cover my costs for keeping said chickens. This allows me to have a steady supply of better quality chicken eggs then I can buy, as well as fertilizer and stored meat to feed my family (no better way to store meat than on the hoof…or in this case, on chicken feet). Keeping chickens requires you be willing to kill to keep them. If you aren’t willing to kill the occasional chicken, or chicken egg, predator, than you might as well not bother keeping them. I’m the only thing that’s going to kill any of my chickens or take any of their eggs.
So a couple of days ago I went into my coop to do the daily routine of feeding and watering the chickens as well as collecting the eggs. I walked over to the nesting boxes to collect the eggs and there was Mr. King snake with an egg half way in his mouth. He had found him a wonderful all you can eat king snake buffet equipped with a comfy new home to live in. He couldn’t ask for a better set up. All he had to do was lay in the nice cozy nest box with a bed of hay, and whenever he got hungry he’d just reach on over to one of the other boxes and snatch an egg. Hell, he didn’t even have to move more than a foot. He had quite literally found himself a snake paradise. Not on my watch Jack. My identifying him set off a chain reaction of immediate snake dispatching. I went straight into the Gypsy House, got my Earth Scalpel (a flat tipped short shovel) and a trashcan. I went back into the coop and jabbed the shovel into the snakes neck trapping him in the nest box. I then began, with my upper body, pushing as hard as I could. My shovel has not been sharpened so I simply broke his neck. This made him a bit more docile, and I was able to get him into the trashcan where I then took him out of the coop, dumped him out on the grass, and finished the job with my machete (which is one I found backpacking a few years back and never got around to sharpening…sooo it was a little messy).
Now, I don’t want to kill anything. I really don’t. I derive no pleasure from killing, but I also eat meat. Do you eat meat? Cause if you do then you kill every time you eat it. It’s not violent for you, you just go to the store and get your sterilized meat that comes from the grocery store refrigerator. Or you go to a restaurant where all you have to do is shovel said dead meat into your meat hole. Eating meat, in the reality outside of the Matrix, requires you to violently kill, gut, skin, quarter, and butcher whatever meat you want to cook. We have lost touch with this reality.
Unfortunately the very next day, I went into Eggmahal to take care of the chickens, and there was King Snake number two…he was an upgraded version of Mr King Snake #1. I noticed that the nest box just to the right of the one the other snake was in, had a new snake in it. He was twice as large as the first as well. I went and got the Earth Scalpel and attempted the same method I used the day before. However his neck was much larger in diameter and so all it did was piss him off. He tried to make his escape by going to the coop floor to rather hurriedly slither off. I jabbed with my shovel and separated his head from his body like Disney’s Hercules did to the Hydra of Lerna. It took him about 30 minutes to figure this out for himself. I apologized to him while he was laying there watching his headless body slither around oblivious to it’s new headless status. I thought about having the common courtesy to at least remove his head from the situation…so he at least didn’t have to watch…but failed to do so.
Now I didn’t want to kill either of those snakes. In fact, after slaying the first snake, I went into the Gypsy House and announced to all of the snakes in ear shot that they could eat all of the rodents they wanted to, but that if they touched my chickens, chicken eggs, children, or family, that they would end up like captain headless over there watching his headless body aimlessly coil around. It’s nothing personal I said, just…you can’t have my damn eggs. I’m not starving. I don’t have to have those chickens or those eggs to feed my family right now. I may, in the near future, require them to feed my family, but right now just in time truckin’ is truckin’ along just fine (well it’s not fine, actually it’s anything but fine…but it doesn’t know that…and neither do the zombies). So I didn’t have to kill either of those snakes (nor the two I killed last year) for my survival. I killed those snakes because their presence makes a mockery of my chicken keeping. The bottom line is that I’m not keeping chickens to feed the local fauna. I’m keeping chickens to feed my family nutritious food, and to provide them with some food security. You see, when JIT truckin’ stops truckin’ just in time…I’ll have a source of food to keep my family fed.
Only there is a problem with keeping those chickens to keep my family fed in that post-collpase world I see potentially around any corner anytime now. That problem is that I’m not the only one who wants to eat those eggs and chicken asses. In a post collapse world there will be zombies who will want to eat my chicken asses. I’m not doing the work of keeping those chickens to feed zombies. Yet if I were not willing to use force to keep zombies from eating my chicken asses, then they WILL eat my chicken asses, and then what was the point in having said chicken asses to begin with? I don’t want to kill anybody, or anything, but I want to ensure my family is fed more than I don’t want to kill. My killing the snakes isn’t exactly a product of that, since I admit I don’t need those chickens right now, but it’s still something I must do to make my chicken keeping efforts not pointless.
Now, killing snakes in times of relative peace just on account of my chicken egg count is something entirely different from killing a zombie (or zombies rather) in a post collapse world. I’m not comparing the value of the life of that snake to that of a hypothetical zombie. What I’m saying is that I didn’t want to kill either of those snakes. When I identified that there was a “snake in the box”… it ruined my day instantly because I knew that my day now required me to kill something violently (I mean…how else does one kill anything really?) and with extreme prejudice. The matter is further complicated by the type of snake. King snakes are a great snake to have around because they eat other snakes (hence the “king” in the title). They are thought to be immune to the venom of poisonous snakes. Also, which annoys me in this case, they are of no threat to humans. This is a good snake to have around if you’re going to have snakes around. I feel bad for killing both of them. But they can’t have my eggs. There is no way I know of to get them to understand that they can live if they just leave my eggs alone. So they must die. I’m not going to want to kill any zombies either, but I am going to want to feed my family
Man doesn’t live on bread alone. I believe that. I really do. There is more to life than this life. There is consciousness beyond my brains. I believe that as well. However I’m a father, and that’s in this life. I can’t make sure my children are fed if I’m dead, and I won’t watch my children starve in this life either. I’ll do whatever I need to do to make sure they are well fed. There are grave dangers in labeling the majority of people zombies. They become infected and less then human. It becomes alright ethically to kill something that is already dead. This is damaging to the human psyche. It’s really the same process that goes on in the mind of a soldier who’s convinced himself that these people are somehow less then people. Or as the Nazi’s labeled the Jews, “Lebensunwertes Leben” or “life not worthy of life.” When is it ever justifiable to kill people? I would answer that by saying it is justifiable to kill a person whom is trying to kill you, or yours for that matter. So it’s justifiable to kill in order to stay alive. We do that every time we eat meat. Granted we aren’t killing humans.
In just about every case of a society collapsing there has been cannibalism documented. We are at a point in the history of our species where we are talking about near term human extinction due to run away anthropomorphic global temperature rise. It seems WW111 is lookin’ to start up over in Syria, and we have nuclear power plants that are spoogin’ radioactivity into the acidifying ocean environment faster than you can say “death by cancer.” Our world is in a terrible way just now. Everything we take for granted as normal in relation to our quality of life is built on a network of non-renewable resources that are becoming scarcer by the second. Every day there are less species on our planet than there is today, and that as well can be placed at the feet of humanity. The fact that zombies are real is a sad and depressing fact. But it is a fact. Like those snakes attempting to take up residence at Eggmahal, and therefore forcing me to kill them. I can imagine zombies doing the same in the near future as a reality I will live to see. I can guarantee my sons will see it…if I don’t. Those zombies will force me to kill them if my son’s starvin’ belly is on the line. It will be their decision. I will do everything I can to not kill them. I will give warnings and wait till the last minute. But in the end, when it comes to my children being fed or me killing a zombie…I’m sorry to say the zombie will have to go. Just like those snakes.

The best we can do is attempt to curtail that eventuality by fostering community. Get the zombies involved and try to wake them up. But that’s a waste of time. They can’t be made to have the Epiphany Now. I’ve tried. The only zombies that wake up are those that decide they want to wake up. The hard cold bitch of a fact is that our world is FUBAR and getting worse by the day. Life requires death and nature doesn’t select organisms whom readily die. The fact of the matter is that we are headed into times that could easily feature such things as cannabalism…just like the last complex societies that collapsed and began eating one another. I’d rather be a zombie slayin’ professional than a person eater. Guess what zombies are good at? They’re good at turning you into a cannibal cause they ate all of your chicken asses and taters. So maybe I’m an ass hole for talking about such things. Maybe I’m delusional and our society is not doomed to the reality of zombies. What I know is that I’m a survivor. Before I’m eating other people I’m gonna be the meanest, toughest, most calloused, bad ass professional zombie dispatching agent you’ve ever met. Cause fuck eatin’ another human. That’s not my idea of a world I wanna be in…or that I want for my sons. Here’s to the hope that renewable energy will curtail World War Z. But so far…and this is the most important fact, it seems just now that Zombie Whispering is working just fine. Zombies aren’t really that dangerous until the shit hits the fan.

Here’s a video I made after killing the second snake.  Warning…the video features a snake that has been decapitated…although you can’t see any blood and it looks like it hasn’t been aside from the shovel that’s separating the head from the body.

Zombie Rehab

Off the keyboard of RE

Published on the Doomstead Diner on June 23, 2013

“It’s da Same old Theme since 1916”

Discuss this article at the Doomsteading Table inside the Diner

zombiesInside the Diner, a HOT THREAD has been percolating for several days, running some 19 pages deep now.  The topic is not a new one in the Collapse Blogosphere, really it is one of the oldest ones.  The question is what to do about “Zombies”, aka the vast majority of people immersed in Industrialized Culture who are completely unaware of the spin down underway here, and who are as completely unprepared for collapse as they are unaware of it.

The context here is a bit different than usual, in that in this case the Diners are trying to figure out a Fair & Equitable system of dealing with the Zombies, who very well may include some of your Close Friends and Relatives.  The assumption made here is that you are a well prepped Doomer Member of a larger Doom Community on a limited size patch of land which can support only a fixed number of people.  No absolute figure is set on this hypothetical since it depends a lot on the overall size of the community and what systems of food production you have in place when TSHTF.

http://i2.wp.com/listverse.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/ayof-image-21_794222i.jpgOver the course of the 19 pages so far, the arguments have morphed around to questions of Charity and Selflessness versus Utility and Darwinian Selection.  As a pretty strict Darwinist, I argue for what I call the “Test for Survival”, which amounts to taking all Males who reach Puberty and sending them out into the Wilderness for a year equally equipped, and seeing who makes it back alive at the end of the year.  Said returnees are then Fully-Fledged members of the tribe and allowed to reproduce.

What about the Females you ask?  Why don’t they also have to rough it out in the Bush for a year to see if they are Worthy of reproducing?  Reason is Females already HAVE a Test for Survival built in, the Childbirthing process.  Modern Industrial Era medical practices notwithstanding, in a society with limited access to hospitals Ceasarian Section and other proceedures which increase the Survival rate of Childbearing females, there is a pretty decent Mortality rate for Childbearing females.  There also is increased Infant Mortality, so women have to bear children more often to have a few that survive.  More regular Childbirth increases the chances that any given one of them will have complications threatening the life of the Mother and/or Child.

One of the primary arguments made against such a “Test for Survival” is that it is Coercive, forcing all the Males to endure these tests whether they want to or not.  The fact is though that all societies produce tests of once sort or another that you MUST take and MUST PASS in order to be a fully fledged member of that society and enjoy the greatest benefits of it.

http://www.eduinreview.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/sat-test.pngThe examples I made of this inside the Diner are that of the SAT, Law Skule and the Bar Exam.  On the SAT, if you do not SCORE BIG you are shut out of getting a spot at one of the top Ivy League Universities, and without that Sheepskin and the Contacts you make there, you are shut out of getting the Top Spots in the Top Corporations.  Don’t Pass the Bar, you can’t even Chase Ambulances and File Bankruptcies for all the Broke People who have nothing to pay you with anyhow, and best case scenario you will be making Cappucino as a Starbucks Barista for $8/hr, except with a $100K Student Loan to pay off.

These are your Tests for Survival inside this society, though of course through the Growth Period there have been some other ways as well to Hitch a Ride on the Prosperity Bandwagon.  Mortgage Brokers and RE Agents did pretty well there for quite a while, though to make the Big Paychecks they hadda sucker a lot of people into buying more McMansion then they could afford.  What your Test for Survival does here is insure the Greediest and most RUTHLESS people will be the “Successful’ ones who got enough MONEY coming in to Procreate.  Seems to me this kind of Test for Survival REWARDS Greed, and each generation gets GREEDIER than the last one, by BOTH Nature & Nurture!  The Koch Brothers for instance are bred from a Greedy Family, and then on top of that have been Educated since BIRTH that their Greed is GOOD!

http://media.cleveland.com/ent_impact_movies/photo/rites-of-passage-91dzmlvst1l-aa1500-jpg-74682646d4c017f4.jpgBut you say, while these Tests may be Tough & Selective, FAILING them does not end in your DEATH, as a Test for Survival will if you Fail it.  Thing is from my POV, this generally just condemns you to a slower form of Death, where you exist at the margins of society making a minimum wage, falling ever deeper in debt each year, suffering the Marital Problems that come from never having enough money to cover the Bills and from Panicking when a child gets Sick or the Tranny on the SUV gives up the ghost.

Next question comes in the FAIRNESS of the test, and the criteria which is being tested here.  In the case of the SAT & Bar Exam, these things test for attributes the Industrial Society wants to perpetuate itself.  It rewards those with the Legal Mind sharp enough to protect the Corporation with layers and layers of defenses, while the Individual has about none.  Are these skills really what we need to be testing for in a Post-Industrial world?  Your ability to survive in the absence of Electricity at the Flick of a Switch and Bare Shelves at Walmart and Safeway are likely a good deal more important as Industrial living goes the way of the Dinosaur.

Why do you need such tests at all though?  Can’t people simply willingly refrain from Reproducing on their own if they can’t afford the cost in resources of raising a child?  Answer is, no they cannot, at least historically speaking that is true.  So all sorts of EUGENICS solutions are proposed for STERILIZING people who cannot AFFORD Children.  Criteria involved usually revolve around either Intelligence or Economic Wherewithal for Eugenics Solutions.

Problem with this of course is who actually APPLIES these Tests, and who designs them?  The Elite of the Society who want to perpetuate it, of course.  So it is ARTIFICIAL and testing and rewarding for all the WRONG THINGS!

http://www.icecreamnation.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/hunter-gatherer-cartoon-by-Bizarro.gifAt the Perpetuation of the Species Level, the MOST important thing is that the Individual of the Species can survive to Feed at least himself.  If you cannot feed yourself, you are always dependent on the rest of your Species to provide something for you to survive.  In reality of course EVERY species has some dependence on the other Individuals for Success, for instance a Pack Wolf tends to do better than a Lone Wolf.  However, even the Lone Wolf CAN survive!  Then of course there are the Procreation Aspects, NO SPECIES can survive without some form of Cooperation between the Male & Female members of their grouping.

In the Early Years of the Growth of Homo Sapiens, Cooperation was Selected for, along with the ability to be Self-Sufficient to a degree.  A BALANCE was achieved here.  However, we were SOOOOO successful relative to all the REST of the Species we share the Earth with that we at first Gradually and then with ever increasing Rapidity simply OVERWHELMED every other Living Thing on the Face of the Earth.

With the development of Agriculture, Hierarchies, Militarism and Greed replaced Cooperation as the dominant meme for Homo Sapiens.  The Ag Paradigm requires taking over vast swaths of land, first from other species, then from other Homo Sapiens and it becomes a contest of who can control the most the fastest.  The Commons are replaced by Privatization and Land Ownership, creating a class of Haves in the society and a class of Have Nots.  Masters & Slaves, Capitalists & Labor, the Illuminati & J6P, however you care to phrase it, all the same idea.

What Ag was MOST successful with of course is vastly increasing the relative Biomass of Homo Sapiens on the Earth, beginning the process of pushing out of existence many other species as their habitats were destroyed, and vastly accelerating of course through the Age of Industrialization.  That we already have an Extinction Level Event in progress is not an arguable point.  200 species a day go extinct, the only question here is when the Sentient Species on the Planet ALSO will go EXTINCT, or will we drop down to a low enough level fast enough that Last Batting Mother Nature has time to recover?

It is the two factors of Ag & Industrialization which have led to the development of Zombies, which essentially represent the excess amount of Human Biomass that a Finite World cannot support.  What distinguishes a Zombie from a Diner is the complete lack of comprehension that this is an ongoing and accelerating problem.

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_EbalnGkkACg/TH4Sa1S00FI/AAAAAAAAAGM/4b0YwndCpxg/s1600/heads+in+sand.gifWhat troubles many Diners is what to do about Zombies AFTER TSHTF, particularly Zombies you care about, like some Close Friends or Relatives who no matter what information you pitch at them every day still keep their Ostrich Heads firmly Buried in the Sand.  In the Save As Many As You Can paradigm, are you obligated to Save them also?

Picture Twin Sisters who marry Twin Brothers.  TwinsA work inside the Industrial Culture, very successfully.  Jon is a Dentist and Kristen is a Doctor.  They have a gorgeous McMansion in Greenwich, CT with two lovely children, Robert & Samantha in Private School at Choate and Phillips Exeter.

TwinsB started Reading Peak Oil back in 2008, and have been Lurking for years now in Reverse Engineering and on the Diner, following RE wherever he ends up on the Net. LOL.  Back in 2010 John quit his job as a Social Worker and Kirsten quit her job as an Elementary School Teacher, and they were able to Unload their McHovel in Minneapolis to a Chinese Real Estate Investor as a Rental Property.  LOL.  John cashed out their IRA also, and they took the proceeds and bought a 50 Acre Farm in Palmer, AK.  Kirsten now Home Schools their two kids Bobby & Sammy, while John takes them out on Hunting and Fishing trips along the Copper River, where they also do some Panning for Gold while eating freshly caught King Salmon sauteed over the campfire.

http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/00779/twins-marrying-460_779941c.jpgJon & Kristen think John & Kirsten are NUT CASE DOOMERS, and make fun of them every time they get together for Thanksgiving Dinner at the Family Compound in Hyannis Port on Cape Cod, where their aging parents Papa, a former Stock Broker for Dewey, Cheatham and Howe and Mama a former member of the Weather Underground and close friend of Squeaky Fromm are finishing out their Declining Years, collecting returns on the Vast Quantity of APPL and NFLX Stock Papa invested in over the years.

BANG!  TSHTF,  Greenwich CT turns into a WAR ZONE as vast numbers of Zombies from NY Shity bicycle their way up from Brooklyn to Greenwich, ransacking McMansions from Nassau & Suffolk right through Westchester County, Consuming the McMansion Dwellers on the Backyard Propane Fired Coleman BBQs along the way. Papa & Mama are under similar threat, as the South Boston Zombies board Dmitry Orlov’s Sailboat moored in a Boston Marina, consume him and Sail for the Cape!  This would be the 6th Stage of Collapse for Dmitry. LOL.

TXT messages fly fast and furious across the Iphones and Papa, Mama, Jon, Kristen, Robert & Samantha all board Jon’s Cessna hoping to Frog Jump their way across the FSoA and the Great White North of Canada finding enough Small Private Airports with enough Gas for the Cessna to make it across the Yukon Territory and come in for a Safe Landing at John & Kirsten’s Doomstead in Alaska.

They MAKE IT, but in the Intervening Time John & Kirsten have taken in many of their Local Friends onto their Doomstead because they were unable by themselves to Protect & Defend said Doomstead from the Zombies cycling their way up to Palmer along the Glenn Highway packing ENORMOUS HEAT since everybody in Alaska owns at LEAST 6 Guns, and it is already questionable whether the 50 Acres they picked up can FEED EVERYBODY already esconced on this land.

BC2K_doomsteadSo, in this situation, are John & Kirsten OBLIGATED to take in Jon, Kristen, Robert, Samantha, Papa & Mama onto the Doomstead?  Well, given “Blood is Thicker than Water” and being real nice folks, John & Kristen probably would be Thumbs Up for sheltering the rest of their Family, problem here is it no longer is JUST their DECISION anymore. All the REST of the Peoples they ALREADY took in here now have a SAY in this also, and taking in still more people when you are at the Carrying Capacity of the land you inhabit means that it will begin a slow starvation process as if evenly distributed, the Product of your land is now LESS than what it takes to keep everyone well fed.  So, chances are in this situation, everyone ELSE now occupying this piece of property NOT connected by Blood to these Refugees will NOT vote to accept them onto the Island.

While John & Kristen being Prescient Doomers with decent Means were able to Buy & Build a decent Doomstead in Palmer, this does not give them the Final Say in who gets to live on this land JUST because they got a Title to it from a Now Failed Goobermint Structure.  It now becomes a COMMUNITY Decision, and one has to expect that over time any successful Community will have to make EXTREMELY difficult decisions on who to take on to a given property and who to REJECT.

http://scm-l3.technorati.com/11/07/28/48465/richmenneed.jpg?t=20110728065424As I am given to understand after conversations with a few people who have visited the 4 Quarters Inter-faith Doomstead where the Age of Limits Conference was held, this problem ALREADY weighs heavily on them.  The location has a few people who have devoted many years to developing this Doomstead, but many MORE than that who are tangentially attached but do not actually Live & Work on the Property.  When TSHTF, how do you say “No” to people who may have been helping you and supporting you over the years, but in Numbers are just too many for the property to support?

Difficult decisions are coming down the pipe here for everyone, regardless of whether you are a Diner or a Zombie at the moment.  Being aware, preparing and so forth does provide an Advantage for Survival, but it most certainly does not resolve the most DIFFICULT questions that will arrive when real SCARCITY problems hit in the area of JIT Food Distribution.  If you accept the idea that MANY people are going to DIE here once the Conduits of Industrialized living begin to fail earnestly and in Cascade Fashion, then if YOU are to SURVIVE, inevitably you will end up watching many other people, even LOVED ONES, DYING.

How can you live with this problem?  How can you make such a Die Off JUST?  These are the problems we consider every day inside the Diner, and I suspect some of the other Bloggers here will also respond to the questions in their own way as well.  I applaud that, because it is a Conversation we all must have, because this Problem is QUITE REAL, and you cannot WISH IT AWAY.

RE

Petroleum Corn Sugared Zombies

Off the keyboard of Lucid Dreams

Published on Epiphany Now on June 10, 2013

ninja fox

Discuss this article at the Epicurean Delights Smorgasbord inside the Diner

bloody foxOnce again due to discussion over at the Doomstead Diner I’ve been asked to define what I consider a zombie to be. The issue is that the goal of the Diner is to “save as many as you can,” and from what are we saving all of these people in need of saving? Well, if you don’t know the answer to that question than I’m sorry to inform you that you are most likely a zombie. Now, don’t go gettin’ all pissed off at me cause you fit the description of a zombie. It’s alright to be a zombie. At least you won’t have to worry about not being able to find like minded folk to hang around with (which is a problem for us non-zombies). I’ll now begin breaking down the requirements for membership in zombiehood. First I’ll start with what Wikipedia has to say about zombies:
The idea of zombies is present in some South African cultures. In some communities it is believed that a dead person can be turned into a zombie by a small child. It is said that the spell can be broken by a powerful enough sangoma.
It is also believed in some areas of South Africa that witches can turn a person into a zombie by killing and possessing the victim’s body in order to force it into slave labor. After rail lines were built to transport migrant workers, stories emerged about “witch trains”. These trains appeared ordinary, but were staffed by zombie workers controlled by a witch. The trains would abduct a person boarding at night, and the person would then either be turned into a zombie worker, or beaten and thrown from the train a distance away from the original location.
This idea that a witch can turn somebody into a zombie by killing them and possessing their soul in order to shanghai them into slave labor is mostly what I mean when I call somebody a zombie. Only it’s not a witch, it’s the agents responsible for the Matrix’s hologram that are controlling the zombies. This is mostly done via the thaumaturgy that’s perpetuated by television, Hollywood, marketing, and the corporate directive dictating profit beyond all else. This all leaves the zombie blindly following business as usual (BAU) with no consciousness whatsoever about the consequences of BAU.
A zombie has no idea that petroleum is a limited resource on which we have built our civilization. They have no idea that you can’t have infinite growth on a finite planet. They don’t care about 400 ppm carbon in the atmosphere, and they likely don’t care that America’s number one goal is to bomb your ass and take your gas. They don’t care that there is no precedent for GMO’s (genetically modified organisms), that our oceans are acidifying, that our food causes cancer, that allopathic medicine causes cancer, that we are loosing our topsoil at an alarming rate, that our government has been coopted by multinational corporations concerned about nothing but profit whom have decimated the constitution and bill of rights, that we have no freedoms, that we live in a surveillance Big Brother state where they can indefinitely detain you and torture you for no reason other than you fit a profile, or that we are running out of the very energy that is needed to keep all 7 billion of us on planet Earth alive. I can go on and on, but you get the picture (or you don’t…in which case you are a….zombie).
A zombie is incapable of seeing all of the above for what it is. The usual zombie response to any of the above information is that it’s all a libearl conspiracy (or “conservative” one depending on which side of the puppet show you’re on), or scientists know what they are doing and will figure out how to fix all of the problems, or you’re just a kooky nut job for bringing any of that up. A zombie lives their life from day to day having no idea that anything is wrong with our society. They have no idea how close we are to what has been dubbed our “near term extinction” or NTE. This is the idea that we have so destroyed our biosphere that the damage is rapidly becoming irreversible, and that we will soon enter a period where the biosphere will no longer support human life due to exponentially increasing problems due to CO2 concentration (that 400 ppm figure), as well as a host of other environmental problems due mainly to our industrial chemical making proclivities…and lets not forget the nasty habit we have of splitting atoms to insure a continuous stream of free flowing electrons into the magical holes in our sheet rocked walls for the purposes of single use appliances like electric can openers and hair dryers. The problem with this being the nuclear waste that we collectively ignore. It’s not that bad…just bury it or leave it in tanks indefinitely while the scientists come up with the solution. In a couple of hundreds of thousands of years it will no longer be radioactive anyways.
Okay, so you are a zombie if you see no problem with our particle boarded, car dependent, GMOed monocropped, processed chemical food, military/corporate industrial complex, Matrix controlled, NSA electronic communication data collecting, cancer causing for profit allopathic medicine perpetuated, biosphere destroying, petroleum fueled holographic suburban Orwellian New World Bravely carcinomic arrangement commonly called BAU. If you think BAU is just fuckin’ dandy then you are a zombie, and I am not going to waste anymore time with you. I’ve tried wasting my time with zombies. I tried for years after taking the red pill that opened my eyes to the truth about the American Hologram. I tried telling everybody I knew about how poisonous our food is, and how we’re destroying our biosphere to keep a civilization dependent on the limited resources that are fossil fuels alive. My efforts were rewarded with more ostracizing and sideways looks than I care to ruminate on. You see, liberating yourself from the Matrix/hologram complex makes you an Outkast. You become an Outkast because you wake up and realize that you’ve been subsisting by catabolizing your environment in an unsustainable fashion…that same environment that creates a sufficient amount of oxygen and fresh water to keep your zombie ass alive.
It should be clear now what makes a person a zombie. So why does any of that matter (I mean aside from the fact that anthropomorphic NTE is something a hefty percentage of non-zombies are finding it worth while to discuss just now)? It matters because at the Diner we are attempting to save as many people as we can from all of the NTE causing agents. Zombies are people to…so maybe we should change it to “save as many non-zombies as we can.” If it were up to me it would be something like that. At the Diner, we are trying to come up with a model of human socioeconomic strategies and tactics to weather the bottleneck that has been created by all of the zombies blindness and their unquenchable desire for more petroleum sugared brains. We’re trying to “bioneer” a way forward that pays attention to all of the problems our species has created. This is no easy task. We’ve dubbed this entity SUN for “sustaining universal needs,” and hopefully the first SUN project will be creating a viable foxstead for us to hole up in while civilization finishes glutting itself to death on petroleum sugar and the sweat of third world brown child labor for iphones and Bananas.
The zombie issue has become an issue due to my distaste for the way zombies smell. It’s not that I don’t care about zombies because I do. I know they are people to (if we agree to be extremely loose with the definition for “people”). They all have the same Buddha nature as I, and they will all bleed if cut and suffer in the same way. They all have feelings, favorite songs, and laugh and cry just like I do. But they also like watching football and grilling concentrated animal feeding operation pellets over gas while eating genetically modified fried corn chips sprayed with chemical flavorings. I understand all of that, and that’s fine…hell I eat CAFO food…but I’m just not happy about that fact and see a problem with it. Zombies mostly don’t like to read and prefer to have their world views issued to them by thaumaturic idiot panel MSM news. They DON’T SEE A PROBLEM with our society other than that gasoline is costing a bit too much these days…and so is the food…and medicine…and well just about everything else now that I think about it. And this is the main difference between a Zombie and an aspiring post-petroleum human; a zombie does not do anything about any of these problems because they aren’t aware of them. But wait…what am I thinking for? Oh well, my favorite football team is on…holy shit did you see that sack…he got nailed like a motherfucker…that shit was crazy wasn’t it. Pass the corn beer and chips…wait…what was I just talking about?
Nothing, you weren’t talking about anything, you should get back to your beer and chips. Nothing to worry about, nothing to see here, go back to sleep America…your government is here to protect and provide for you. They will grow all of the food, keep all of the steady evolving microorganisms at bay with petrochemicals, and bomb all of the brown people for gas on your behalf. You just eat your chips and drink your beer and the scientists will figure out all of the problems. You can be a zombie, but don’t come runnin’ to the foxstead when diesel is 6 dpg at the pump and our just in time trucking insanity stops being viable. You didn’t do shit to deal with the realities outside of the flatlands projected by the hologram. You didn’t care to concern yourself with the dire reality we’re inheriting for the ride down the back side of Hubbert’s curve. I consider zombies nothing more than nature selecting the next quantum leap in the human genome. As in zombies will mostly be deselected for that leap. This is not a value judgement. This is just facts facilitated by the red pill.
Go back to sleep Zombie America…there’s a zombie apocalypse coming to a theater near you any day now. With any luck I will be surrounded by nature and in the company of a post-petroleum human tribe when that apocalypse kicks off. Thanks to you that probably won’t be the case. I’ll probably still be here, slaving away with the zombies, trying to figure out how the hell to build a lifeboat out of the refuse from this plastic fabrication of a boat we call civilization. If I manage to cobble together said boat…you ain’t gonna be welcome on it. It’s not like belief in Jesus Christ…where you can be a shit bag your entire life and then repent just before your last breath gaining you access to heaven. No, I’ve seen you take your last breath, and I won’t be mourning you. However, there still is time for you to wake up and stop eating brains. So do that…wake up now, while you still can, and be welcome amongst my tribe. Or…perish with the zombie horde. Either way I’m not going to lose any sleep over you…and you’re not welcome at the foxstead as a zombie. It’s nothing personal…just I’ve got a family to support.
You see, I’m holding you responsible for your beliefs. If you are an adult than you are responsible for what you believe and don’t believe. You are responsible for knowing the truth about things. Nobody forced me to open my eyes up and develop a distaste for brains. I decided that I wanted to know what the truth was because it was time to grow up and take responsibility for myself. I’ve done that. Zombies don’t do that. Zombies get on fukitol and watch football drunk and satiated on all manner of petroleum corn sugar, and zombies will watch the zombie apocalypse on the idiot panel during the halftime marketing break. Not me, hopefully I’ll be outside in nature trying to facilitate the growth of food that’s not dependent on petroleum to gain the calories I’ll need to keep me and mine alive once the JIT truckin’ inanity comes to an end. Zombies will most likely be shot on sight and burned in large piles. Such are the concerns us evolving post-petroleum humans have here at the precipice of near term human extinction.
BTW…I have no idea why Blogger decided the text color needed to change in this entry…every time I use the quote option that happens.  ???

 

The Thin Line Between Global Collapse and Faith

Off the keyboards of Ashvin Pandurangi & JT

Published on Picturing Christ on October 3, 2012

Discuss this article at the Epicurean Delights Smorgasboard inside the Diner

I am pleased to present my first guest post here on Picturing Christ – an article by reader “JT”. His article focuses on one of the most basic questions that inspired me to start this blog in the first place – how do we truly respond to the systemic trials and tribulations that humanity faces in the upcoming decades? There are many blogs and websites dedicated to documenting these predicaments and offering advice on how to prepare for them.

Some of them even venture into questions of spirituality and faith from time to time. My own writings at The Automatic Earth over the last few months regularly touched on these issues. However, I recently started to feel like the constant divide between our Earthly predicaments and my spirituality was much too forced and arbitrary. I had the sense that there was a fundamental flaw in the process of offering insights and advice when they were artificially divorced from spiritual truths.

So, with that in mind, I was very glad to hear that fellow Christian and reader of PC also felt the same way, and decided to put those concerns into writing. As Christians, we cannot hesitate to rely on the word of God when it comes to all spheres of our lives. The fact that we may be talking about economics, finance, geopolitics, energy and environmental issues, psychology, etc. shouldn’t make a bit of difference. All of these issues are inextricably woven into the underlying philosophies of spirituality and faith, and, specifically, the God of the Bible and His word.

We are now living in a world where the structures that have come to dominate human civilization are crumbling. Financial contagion from the global banking crisis has spread to all regions of the world and is destroying economic growth. Tensions between Western nations and those in both the Near and Far East are growing, with several theaters of war already firmly established. Our total reliance on fossil fuels and industrial processes for global economic activity has destroyed our natural ecosystems and warmed our atmosphere to extremely dangerous levels, while also depleting those resources and creating the potential for systemic environmental, economic, political and social collapse.

So, before getting to JT’s excellent article, I would like to offer my own personal (yet brief) opinion on these grave matters of collapse and faith. The trying circumstances and events that confront all of us in the years ahead are exactly those which require us to remain resolute in the unconditional truth and morality of our faith. Jesus tells us that there will come a time in which “many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another… and because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold“. (Matthew 24:10, 12).

I believe that whether we are actually living in that specific time or not is irrelevant, because the underlying lesson applies to all times of tribulation before the second return of Christ. And there is no doubt in my mind that severe tribulations have already started to descend upon us, and that they will only grow more imminent and threatening to humanity over time. Therefore, we must always remember to be on guard and ensure that we are NOT the ones who are falling away from God’s truth, the ones hating each other or the ones watching our love for our fellow humans grow cold.

If our understanding and fear of systemic collapse ever begins to lead us towards such a mindset, then, regardless of whether we are physically prepared for Earthly concerns or not, we must immediately re-orient ourselves back towards our faith in Christ.

That being said, here is JT:

THE THIN LINE BETWEEN GLOBAL COLLAPSE AND FAITH

Having first read Ashvin’s writings on The Automatic Earth, I believe that many who are reading this article may be walking a path similar to mine and dealing with the same issues related to systemic collapse. I would like to pose a question to you all that has occupied my thoughts for some time – can Christians also be “preppers”? Can we honestly say that we are following Christ while we are also preparing for the collapse of the world systems around us?

There is one particular evening that I will never forget. My wife, I and another couple were having dinner, and we all considered ourselves to be committed, born again Christians. The topic of preparedness eventually came up in conversation. This was many years ago, before the financial disasters entered mainstream awareness and before peak oil was a serious concern. Many of our Christian brothers and sisters were already storing food, learning how to garden and how to recreate some of the lost arts and crafts, such as grinding grains, canning, shoe-making and tailoring.

At this time my wife and I still had young children, and we lived in a relatively wealthy suburb outside of Boston. While I was raised in a comfortable middle class home, my wife grew up in a world where a bowl of oatmeal or tomato soup was often your main meal of the day. She understood deprivation and what happens when things stop functioning well in society. Even so, her parents had taught her to always rely on God to get her through any situation. The discussion of preparing for disaster or social upheaval always made her uncomfortable.

At some time during the dinner, my friend announced that, in addition to food storage and other steps of preparation, he had purchased a gun to defend himself and his family in the event that the economic and sociopolitical situation became chaotic and violent. After hearing this revelation, my wife became incredibly agitated. She spit out her words with a force that surprised me:

“So does that mean you will shoot me and my children when we come to you begging for food? Where in the Gospels do you find that??”

My friend quickly tried to regroup, “Of course I wouldn’t shoot you or the kids. You are part of our extended family. We would share and make do.”

My wife was not to be consoled. “So we get to stand behind the barricade and watch you shoot down other starving women and children?”

Needless to say, dinner was over for that night. We have still remained friends, but the topic of preparedness is resolutely avoided when all of us are together. As I have become more aware of the issues of peak oil, as well as the immense fragility of our economic systems, the question has once again returned. As a devout Christian, should I focus on preparing for potential disaster or should I just rely on God?

Scripture does not seem to directly answer the question. The clear meaning of Matthew 6:34 is that we should not worry about tomorrow at the expense of today. So is preparing for a radically different future the same thing as “worrying”? More importantly, is prepping an attempt to rely upon our own devices rather than God? Does Matthew 6:34 prohibit us from acting on the knowledge that things are changing, and not for the better?

It becomes an even more puzzling issue when you consider the parable of the foolish bridesmaids described in Matthew. Jesus was clearly chiding them for their lack of preparation when he described the wise bridesmaids responding to the foolish who asked for their lamp oil – “since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves” (Matthew 25:9).

Yet, this parable was referring to the fact that we must have a certain level of awareness and preparation if we are going to enter the Kingdom of God when Christ returns. Jesus was mainly referring to a need for spiritual preparation, rather than a strictly physical process of preparation. There is no doubt that the last days will be characterized by much physical hardship, but it is critical to remember that we must always choose spiritual salvation and integrity over physical survival, if we are ever put in a position where such a choice between the two must be made.

The miracle of Jesus multiplying the five barley loaves and the two fish also tells us that Jesus has things under control and He will provide the necessary resources for us when we lack them. However, even He used the fish and loaves of a boy who had prepared for the day’s journey (John 6:9-11). And, once again, these miracles primarily point to the spiritual provisions of God in times of need, rather than physical ones (even though He may often provide us with both). So, after wrestling with this subject for several years, I have come to a formulation in my mind as to what I need to do and how I need to handle the issue of preparedness.

I have no issue with acquiring knowledge about the predicaments we face and what potential outcomes are likely to come. Knowledge is an invaluable tool, just like a hammer or a rope. It can be used for both good and evil. I believe that Christ wants us to be knowledgeable – to capture all knowledge that we can and to put it to use for God, His people and His Kingdom. Therefore, I have no problem with learning all that I can about these issues or trying to educate others about them as well. As we learn in the Bible, “an intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge” (Proverbs 18:15).

It is not wrong to be prepared, either. Hurricane Katrina, for example, showed me how our government cannot handle a single hurricane that was predicted to arrive many days before and impacted only one major metropolitan area. Therefore, it is clear that we will be on our own with all sorts of calamities, especially those which happen simultaneously and feed off of each other, and especially when our governments are even more strained financially. To have food, water, medicine set aside is to be prudent, as is to have a plan of action to secure our safety and the safety of others.

God told Joseph to store up the grain in the seven years of plenty so that the people of Egypt would have enough in the years of famine (Genesis 41:47-49), and Joseph was blessed for heeding God’s wisdom. We have a responsibility to be able to care of ourselves, our children, our parents, our communities and perhaps even strangers. This responsibility lasts every day of our lives – not just when disaster strikes. Saving and storing some of the surplus God has given us is actually a part of this daily duty. We are to be good stewards of the abundance that He has blessed us with, and we can pray that our blessings continue as they did with Joseph.

In stark contrast to that charitable nature, God has called very few (if any) of us to emulate Rambo or the Terminator, even in the face of extreme threats or adversity. Our Christian life, being only one part of the whole body of Christ, is necessarily a community life. Wherever we find ourselves, it is our duty to look at the needs of those around us and to work together to fill those needs. Part of our preparation needs to be the strengthening of bonds with our Christian brothers and sisters so we can carry each other through difficult times, rather than alienating them or treating them as hostile competitors.

Our own individual or family preparations should not overcome the rest of our lives. We should take prudent steps to care for ourselves, family and neighbors, but we cannot allow ourselves to become obsessed with those preparations. The acts of worship, work, education, community development, charitable works, etc., are all important and cannot be set aside to collect more stuff or to spend all of our time “getting ready” for collapse. As Jesus makes clear, we cannot ignore the present in the hope of having secured the future.

Jesus commands us to share our abundance and our skills with the less fortunate among us (Matthew 25:44-45). This command applies regardless of whether we are living in a pre-collapse or post-collapse environment. Does this mean we have to open our pantry to the desperate masses, so that we are completely wiped out and our families are left to die? I don’t think so. Does it mean we have to be alert and open to the needs of others around us and attempt to ease their suffering whenever we have reasonable opportunities to do so? Yes.

What is the limit of our charity? How far do we have to go? I don’t know, and I doubt there are any absolute answers. Each situation will present itself differently and, ultimately, we must above all seek to do God’s will (not our own) in each individual case. We need to be open to the idea that God may want us to share even when we are unsure if there is enough for ourselves and our family. There is no doubt that serving God will sometimes call for radical departures from our “normal” sense of what’s appropriate.

Another important question is whether Christians should use force to protect themselves, their families and their property? This is a very difficult issue for me. I do not own a gun. Several years ago, I would have unequivocally and judgmentally stated that Christians should not own guns; that Christians should never resort to violence. I would have said to rely on God, and He will save you. Recently, I have moved away from that absolute position.

There are instances in the Bible when God calls upon the strong to protect the weak, and we can all imagine circumstances when only physical force will stop the perpetration of hideous evil against us or those close to us. The Bible clearly states that “whoever shed’s man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed” (Genesis 9:6), which implies that those people whose actions threaten or lead to imminent death of others have removed themselves from God’s protection and have subjected themselves to the proportional justice of man.

I have come to see that Christians, just like anyone else, may be required to defend themselves and those who God has placed under their protection. At the same time, though, I believe that the use of force on another human being should be avoided if there is any possibility of doing so. Such force should only be used after very careful and prayerful  consideration of the alternatives. The Bible repeatedly tells us that we should never be quick to “repay evil with evil” (1 Peter 3:9, Romans 12:17), and that we should always rely on our prayers to seek out God’s guidance and His will.

Therefore, physical force should be used in the smallest amount required in any given situation. Overcoming our enemies by wounding or killing them is never something about which we should be proud or about which we should gloat, but rather a course of action that we should mourn and regret with every bone in our body and all of our hearts. God is truly in control of everything, and once we have taken prudent steps to secure the basic well-being of ourselves, our families and our neighbors, we must rely on God to take care of the rest.

We have to remember the loaves of bread and the fish that Jesus provided to the masses. We have to be like the widow confronted by a creditor who wished to take her two sons away for the debts owed by her husband. All she possessed was a small jar of oil, but she trusted in God’s prophet, Elisha, and her oil was multiplied greatly by God so that she could pay off the debts and live off of the surplus (2 Kings 4:1-7). Many Christians may look on these events as irrelevant ancient history, but God is still very active in the world today. Many people find themselves buried in debt today, just as the widow was then, and God’s grace towards His children remains the same.

Therefore, be not afraid. The most important part of Christian prepping is to realize that God has not abandoned us. To paraphrase Saint Paul – governments will fail, pensions and 401K’s will fail, banks and commerce will fail, electricity and running water will fail, our political and social institutions will fail, but God’s love will never fail us (1 Corinthians 13:8-10). We must carry the joy of knowing Christ into the future. No matter what the future brings, He will be there with us. We need to find peace and we need to quiet our anxieties with this knowledge. We need to let this knowledge make us joyful and loving in the face of trials and tribulations.

The thoughts contained in this article are my own. They are a reflection of my own struggles to follow Jesus in a world gone mad. I claim no special knowledge or understanding of scripture or God’s will. No one should feel that I am telling them that they have to do things exactly the way I do, or believe exactly as I believe. Please do not feel judged by any of these words. God has given each of us a conscience and, if it be His will, He will put the Holy Spirit into our hearts and minds to show us what he wants for and from each of us as individuals. We each have our own walk of faith to follow.

God may be telling some of you to build a fortress and stock it with weapons and supplies to last a lifetime. To others, He may be telling them to renounce all of their worldly possessions and, like Saint Francis of Assisi, approach the world as naked as the moment they were born. He may be telling them to rely solely on God to clothe them, just as He did with Adam and Eve after the Fall (Genesis 3:21), and to fulfill their needs. Either way, I pray that my thoughts can be of some assistance to those who have the same burning questions.

And I recommend that everyone solemnly pray to Jesus and listen very carefully for His answers. Since we were all created as unique beings, those answers will no doubt be unique for each of us. I hope that I will receive comments and feedback from those who are reading this. God knows that I have much more to learn and that your comments will perhaps open my eyes to perspectives that I have not yet considered, and will help me ask even more questions that I have yet to formulate.

We are brothers and sisters in this journey. Please be gentle with me and with each other in your comments and replies. It saddens me to see the vitriol and petty remarks that many commentators dump on each other in some of the blogs that I follow. There are many people who are mean and judgmental just for the sake of building up their prideful images of themselves and stroking their egos. However, as followers of Christ, our goal should be to abandon our egos and our pride, and to do everything we can to support each other and build each other up.

Peace and Hope,

JT

1999 All Over Again…

Off the keyboard of Old Horseman

Published on Old Horseman Livejournal on September 29, 2012

Discuss this article at the Epicurean Delights Smorgasbord inside the Diner

  •   Mood:  grumpy
    …Or “I’m Okay, You’re All Boned!”
                              

   Remember Y2k?  The big “END OF THE WORLD IS COMING!” thing from the late ’90s?  The Government was supposed to go into chaos. Planes were supposed to fall out of the sky.  Buildings were supposed to crumble.  Wars and rumors of wars.  Police state.  American cities in 3rd World ruins.  Economic collapse…

   You’d think that, as 12/31/99 approached, folks would have been getting more and more into it.  But it really peaked sometime in ’98.  By ’99, it was pretty much just a tired joke.  Nobody wanted to be seen getting all Y2k prepped, then look silly when nothing happened.

   Then 1/1/00 came… And nothing much happened.

   Until later in the year, when the political system deadlocked and the country was thrown into a Red vs Blue State cold civil war.

   Then, some months later, planes fell out of the sky…

   And buildings crumbled…

   Precipitating the longest (and still ongoing), multifront war in US history…

   And justifying a Police State…

   Even as American cities were plunged into 3rd World ruins…

   And the economy disintegrated with the press announcing “recovery” even as the mega-banks and corporations line-up for massive hand-outs, “industries” are propped-up with the Government giving people “free money” to buy certain crap, and unemployment and inflation run rampant, even with Washington cooking the numbers.

    But, hey…  It didn’t all happen at exactly the stroke of midnight on 12/31/99, so it doesn’t count, right?

   So, here we are again.  After years of seeing the collapse of petro-enabled Cornucopia on the horizon, we’re coming-up on the big Doomsday Date that Hollyweird has been telling us about.  12/21/12.  And, as in ’99, the proximity of the date corresponds to most people losing interest in the whole notion.  Changing the subject to protest movements, moot political philosophies, and anything else that doesn’t involve actually doing something meaningful to prepare for what’s coming.

   And it probably is a good bet that 12/21/12 will be just another Friday (aside from going into the big holiday weekend)…  We’ll wake-up. The lights will work. Won’t be any mushroom clouds on the horizon, or zombies pounding the door.  Well… At least the Solstice will seem pretty-much like the day before and after it.  Who knows how much the ‘normal’ will shift before we get there?

   So the DOOM is just a joke now. Like Y2k, right?  The various online forums which carried-on after the original LATOC Forum shut-down are now virtual ghost-towns.  What activity there is in them is mostly political or half-hearted, pseudo-prepping chat.

   As long as the collapse comes on the installment plan, most folks, including the ‘preppers’ and neo-LATOC members don’t seem to realize that they are on the scenic route to the Fedghettos.

    And no… Your little, suburban victory gardens are not going to save you.  I lived on a vegetable-intensive diet for over a year.  Not only did my health not improve, I also learned some things about vegetables.  Like they’re mostly just water.  If you’re even moderately active, you have to eat truckloads of the damned things to keep going.  Way more than you’ll ever grow with your spade and garden weasel. (And, if you think you’re already feeding your family from your garden, you’re probably deluding yourself by not counting the bulk of the calories in your meals provided by the flour and sugar you add to your casseroles.)  Also, most veggies don’t keep worth a flip.  Unless you burn-up a bazillion calories in fuel energy to can them, which detracts from what little nutritional value they had to begin-with.

   Neither will you be saved by ‘community’ or even family…  Because communities and families are made-up of people, and the sad fact is that most people kinda’ suck.  If anything, you can count on them to try and drag you down with ’em.  If you think a bunch of TV and video-game addicted, prescription drug dependent, Nanny-state worshipers are going to coalesce into any sort of mutually-beneficial support society, you’re in for a rude awakening.

   Of course, the Bunker Bad-ass survivalists aren’t any better.  A tacti-cool AR-15 with all the bells and whistles, a stockpile of ammo, some barrels of water, and a couple trunks of MREs might get you through a passing natural disaster and power outage…  But collapse isn’t a temporary thing.

  
   I lived through the Energy Crisis and chronic recessions of the ’70s, which were really the political/economic repercussions of the US hitting peak oil at the dawn of the decade…  I didn’t expect Y2k to be TEOTWAWKI, but it did get me thinking about what a vulnerable, tangled mess Western ‘Civilization’ had devolved into.  So I got serious about prepping for it anyway, and considered every year thereafter to be a stay of execution to be devoted to getting even better prepared…  I was one of the first members on old LATOC, and was the most prolific participant for some time…

   Then the zeitgeist started to move into this denial phase…  Anything to keep from facing-up to the fact that Business As Usual is eroding away, and that we’re all going to have to make real changes in our lives if we want to have any sort of existence as free people much longer.  And I don’t mean planting some zucchini, voting for the right candidate, or driving a goddamned Prius…  So I’ve been participating less and less in the doomy corners of cyberspace as I don’t have time or energy to blow on academic hippie pipe-dream or Rambo zombie-fighter discussions.  I’m a nuts & bolts kind of practical prepper.

   It’s kind of a shame for anyone who is serious about dealing with the future though, because I’ve accumulated quite a bit of know-how and hands-on experience over the years.  From Amish-type stuff like turning equine pasture-ornaments into field-plowing, wagon-pulling assets, to setting-up free-standing alternative power and communications systems, to handloading ammunition, to milking cows and making cheese…  If anyone wants to get real and talk about that sort of stuff, give me a virtual tap on the shoulder.

   I haven’t abandoned the wide world of doom… Just don’t give a whit about endless discussions about things that are far out of our control.

The Uncoolness of DOOM

Off the keyboard of the Old Horseman

Published on Old Horseman on January 3,2011

Discuss this article at the Epicurean Delights Smorgasbord inside the Diner

It seems that a general sense of impending doom is going mainstream in recent years.  It’s getting harder and harder for many people to fully ignore the the signs and pretend that a return to conventional prosperity is just around the next bend…  In fact, a growing fraction of the population is becoming well-aware of the fact that there will be no real “recovery”, and that Business As Usual is gone for good.

Perhaps as a coping mechanism, the bulk of these doomers envision a “cool” kind of doom.  Usually imagining one extreme or the other in future scenarios.

The light side of Cool Doom is a vision of some kind of Great Depression v2.0.  Sure, gas and food will get expensive.  The economy will continue to collapse.  But those who think ahead, plant backyard Victory Gardens and invest in high MPG automobiles will be okay.  Especially if they “re-localize”, support farmers markets, and think in terms of “building community”.

The dark side of Cool Doom is the hardcore, post-apocalyptic vision of the future.  Hiding in bunkers from radioactive fallout.  Fighting off mutant zombies and jackbooted stormtroopers.  Just like in a Sci-Fi fantasy or video game.
The handy thing about both versions of Cool Doom is that they relieve the doomer of the need to make any REAL changes in his or her lifestyle.

The light side Cool Doom means you take up gardening as a hobby and get a hybrid instead of a big SUV.  Maybe you actually talk to some of your suburban neighbors or “near-by” family about emergency plans, and stock some dry goods and bottled water.  No big deal, really.

Cool Hippie Doom

 The dark side of Cool Doom means that you take up shooting and gun collecting as a hobby.  Maybe stock a Bug-Out Bag, or even remake your basement into a bunker.  The kind of stuff that’ll let you make a kick-ass last stand long enough to see those who laughed at your doomerism get munched by zombies before you go out in a blaze of glory yourself!

It's all fun and games until somebody's brain gets nommed

 Almost nobody likes to think about the more likely scenario: Uncool Doom…  No hippie-dippy kumbaya neosuburbia…  No mushroom clouds or Mad Max…  Just an irregular, but increasingly steep decline.  Fuel getting more and more expensive, then less and less available until driving at all becomes problematic.  At the same time employment opportunities dry-up, meaning you’ll need to drive even farther to find decent work.  With so much competition for ever-fewer jobs, pay will be miserably low, while goods and services, which will be in shrinking supply, cost more and more inflation-devalued dollars.  Knowing they can’t afford high bills, people will cut-back on their household power usage, only to have the utility companies compensate for below-expected demand/income by raising rates and cutting staff and upkeep on the already decrepit power grid.

The problem with this relatively boring, Uncool Doom is that you actually have to make real, sweeping changes in your life to prepare for it.

The private automobile is most obviously doomed.  You need to plan for a future without one, which probably means moving to a city where public transportation is available, a reasonably self-contained small town where everything you need in within walking or bicycling distance, or out to a self-sufficient farmstead from which you won’t need to venture often and which can produce fuel for transportation when it is necessary.  The auto-dependent suburbs will continue to fail, and faux-doomsteads (auto-dependent suburban households out in the sticks) will fail even faster.

The fiat “dollar” economy is disintegrating, and paper wealth of all kinds is going with it.  The whole system of people being employed in make-work occupations to be paid in dollars which they can then trade for everything they need is hopelessly inefficient and cannot long endure.  Already jobs are being phased-out in favor of people relying more directly on Government for a growing number of the things they need.  This means that you either need to reconcile yourself to being a ward of the state (giving the Government ever-increasing control over your life), or you have to become independent of the Government and its currency system.

Widespread GovCo infrastructure and goods distribution is a reflection of the now-deceased growth economy.  It won’t take an EMP from a nuclear attack to kill much of the power grid.  It’ll only take the cost of supporting so many miles of power cables to supply a decreasing and increasingly moneyless population of customers.  It won’t take zombie attacks to shut-down the rural supermarkets.  It’ll just take increasing operation costs and spiraling prices nobody can afford.  The time will come when, even if you have a mattress full of Federal Reserve Notes, there won’t be anything available to buy with them outside of the major cities.

The probable form of doom is uncool because you CAN prepare for it.  But this preparation means doing uncool things like moving out of suburbia and away from “normal” life.  Largely disconnecting from the people and groups you know are doomed, even if they are family.  And planning for a vision of the future most people absolutely refuse to see.

This is how most people will perceive you.     Cool Doom can really be a cop-out.  Light-side Cool Doomers imagine that not that much needs to be done, and can blame future failure on the lack of social enlightenment in society.  Dark-side Cool Doomers can imagine that nothing they could do would be effective against the living Hell of the future anyway, so why bother?
But let’s face it.  History tends to be uncool in real-time.

Knarf plays the Doomer Blues

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