Oct 212014
 October 21, 2014  Posted by at 8:10 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , ,

Dorothea Lange Rear window tenement dwelling, 133 Avenue D, NYC June 1936

I am thinking about the similarities between a financial crisis and for instance a family crisis, the death of a loved one or close friend, a divorce, or a personal bankruptcy.

And I wonder why in the case of our recent (aka current) financial crisis, we allow nothing to enter our communications, and our train of thought, but the idea of recovery and a return to growth. Has everyone always reacted that way after earlier financial crises – history is full of them -, or is something else going on?

Why do we insist on returning to something we once had, even if we have no way of knowing whether we can ever return? Why don’t we focus – more – on what lies ahead, instead of what is behind us? Is it because we loved what we had so much? Or is something else going on?

Even if we do love what once was so much, there’s a time to move on after every disaster, every death in the family, every bankruptcy. And deep down we know that very well. Life will never be the same, but it’ll still be life. It seems safe to say that in general, life is about turning, not returning. Life changes, we change, every day, every minute, every millisecond.

This refusal to turn a new leaf and find out what’s on the other side of the hill has enormous consequences. We are actively digging ourselves so deep into debt that it’s preposterous to claim this debt is ours only, because it’s painfully clear, though we would never admit it (too painful perhaps?), that we can never pay it back. We leave that honor to our children, and to the generations after them.

We should undoubtedly have protected us from ourselves, by making it illegal and punishable by law to engage in such behavior (something along the lines of Child Protection Services). We chose instead to be blind to it. We still could – should – write such legislation, but it looks as if present politics and economic ‘thinking’ will only exacerbate a situation that is already far worse than we care to know.

The overruling ‘wisdom’ looks to be that we miraculously freed ourselves from the yoke of a balanced budget, an idea seemingly justified by the fact that a return to growth has been elevated to the status of a law, of either physics or a deity of our choice, growth that will subsequently make all debts melt like the snow on the Kilimanjaro.

That overruling wisdom, as should be obvious, is at best wishful thinking, but far more likely pure fantasy. Which has become our main, make that only, approach of the crisis we find ourselves in. If only we believe, our leaders will deliver us to growth heaven.

But what if this is the end of the growth story? What if it’s already behind us? It’s not as if growth has been a constant factor in the lives of our ancestors. And it’s not as if the laws of physics put no limits on everlasting growth. Growth is a passing thing, it’s a phase.

Most of us have heard of the seven stages of grief. Shock, Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Guilt, Depression, Acceptance. Where are we in our journey through these stages when it come to the financial crisis, and to growth? There’s only one stage that even remotely sounds right: Denial. We’re not even close to Anger yet, not when it comes to the larger population.

We simply deny that something has really changed. And even if you wish to claim that it hasn’t, no-one can deny the possibility that it has. Still, that is exactly what happens. Denial, everywhere you look.

The something else that is going on is that our brains have been kidnapped by those who (probably not even always consciously) seek to strengthen their – power – political and financial positions by making us believe in the growth story long after it has – for all we can see – died. That’s why we listen only to the growth story, to the exclusion of any and all other stories.

It’s a form of progress, though not a benign one. Freud’s ideas are (ab)used to hide reality from us (to ‘sell’ the message), while Keynes’ ideas are abused to hide the reality that you can’t buy growth with debt your children will have to pay back. Pretty simple, when you think about it.

If you know how to sell people detergents and presidents, abstract ideas is easy. And if those ideas are about economics, that nobody knows much about and all the trusted experts and press have the same message about 24/7, the circle is pretty much closed. All that’s left then is places like the Automatic Earth and others to get your alternative stories, but that’s no match for full blown propaganda.

Still we’re seeing, we’re living in, the last days of the growth story. And when the master class decides to drop that story, watch out. The emperor is one ugly wrinkled old duckling when he’s naked. You don’t want your kids to see that.

Home Forums The Last Days Of The Growth Story

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    Dorothea Lange Rear window tenement dwelling, 133 Avenue D, NYC June 1936 I am thinking about the similarities between a financial crisis and for inst
    [See the full post at: The Last Days Of The Growth Story]


    websites like this are very important. I do appreciate what you are doing. I think that this and other websites like this are the only places that real journalism is being conducted now. I beginning to think that the MSM has been taken over by the corporations, most of the journalist there are too afraid they will lose their social status to really report the big picture. They are mostly entertainers and propagandists now.


    Hi Ilargi
    I am so pleased you tackle this taboo subject. Growth is the alpha issue. There’s just no point in talking about anything political if you don’t address the end of growth.

    The level of denial and avoidance I meet when discussing the sustainbility of growth is staggering. Those people who do engage talk about endless resource substitution or growth of value without increased resource use. These people understand diminishing returns, they just can’t handle it, it makes society’s narrative a lie. Progress as currently defined not attainable.

    V. Arnold

    You have many questions, most of which deserve consideration.
    And I think understanding (as much as possible) human nature would do much towards answers.
    There was a fundamental change when the War God Yahweh came on the scene. It firmed a patriarchal hierarchy, possibly for the first time. Priests garnered tremendous power and began an increasingly hierarchical aspect to the order of society. Riane Eisler’s The Chalice and the Blade is an excellent read on this.
    This set the course for the future and all of the offshoots of almost all the worlds religions began competition for dominance. That requires growth. Natural greed took it from there.
    Not to over simplify, but capitalism and greed were a marriage made in heaven (spelled; H.E.L.L.), and here we are.
    Having been an early adopter of Edward Abbey, The Monkey Wrench Gang, and Earth First, my only concern has been sustainability. There is only one economic model that is rational; Sufficiency Economy (which means sufficiency living).

    Realistically and looking at the world today; I see no evidence we humans are anywhere near our intelligence tipping point of awakening to what’s actually going on…


    The Ultimate Growth Story
    – 10,000 years ago, humans and livestock occupied 0.01% of all animal biomass
    – Humans and livestock now occupy 97% of all animal biomass.
    – Human population set for 10 billion by 2060
    – Extinction growth set for 75% of all animals gone by 2065
    – Temperature growth set for 6°C by 2070
    – China’s debt grew from $1 trillion in 2001 to $25 trillion today
    – Livestock demand set to grow
    – Water shortages set to grow
    – Food shortages set to grow
    – Violence set to grow
    – More Americans believe in zombie apocalypse than global heating.
    – Relax, it’s not the end of the world.

    Formerly T-Bear

    Ilargi, methinks you are onto something with:

    “The something else that is going on is that our brains have been kidnapped …”

    evidenced by the absence of any economic education and the destruction of historical memory. Without these and a common language, the likelihood of resolving the complex of problems now presented is far less than a room full of monkeys on typewriters coming up with “Hamlet”. So much of your fearsome debt isn’t debt but a debit. Not knowing this, it becomes impossible to apply the appropriate credit to cancel out the balance. Even at global scale, economics is a closed system that accounting means are applicable to, that means all credits are directly related to debits. If the public hasn’t the dimmest idea about economics, how on earth are they to competently choose amongst the various schemes they are presented with. As for history, …

    Dr. Diablo

    See the recent interview by Greg Hunter (ex-mainstream media) with Paul Craig Roberts. https://usawatchdog.com/ Roberts has not only been a vocal critic of how America has gotten fatally off-track, but was also Editor of the Washington Post, and in this interview outlines how even back in his day (no later than the 80’s) it was already assumed that U.S. reporters were CIA assets. In addition, his posture to Mr. hunter was, “You didn’t know?” So that puts Hunter and the population, what, 40 years behind the belief curve on this?

    Dmitry Orlov had an insightful essay this week on what he calls the “senility of the ruling elite.” https://cluborlov.blogspot.com/2014/10/how-to-start-war-and-lose-empire.html
    This parallels Ilargi on how, regardless of what happens, to the West, it’s as if it never happened. Regardless of how failed a policy or idea might be, it is never changed. Regardless of the facts established as consensus on, say, MH17 or Syrian gas, or bailout stimulus, there is no adjustment to reality. Perhaps they believe, as Karl Rove said, “We’re an empire now, and we create reality.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reality-based_community
    Or as King John famously said (the one from Robin Hood and the Magna Carta) “The Law is in my mouth.” Or put another way, they actually believe: “Whatever I just thought, it must be true!”

    And so they continue to live and see the world as if it is 1930. Or 1960. Or whatever. The same way the senile believe the persons before them are now their long-dead brother, young husband, or child from 50 years before. Every day is the same day. The world never changes. Behavior never changes. There is a near-total disconnect from reality, broken only by confusion, anger, and false feelings of betrayal.

    These are also the symptoms or definition of a Psychotic.

    Either way, it is not promising for clear, accurate, rapid response to the challenges of our time.

    Ken Barrows

    Growth (net of debt) ended in the USA and Europe about when Robert Kennedy was assassinated. Japan’s ended by the late 80s, if not sooner. China’s has ended. It just takes a while for the political class to realize it: a half century or more.

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