Forum Replies Created
We can try to save Civilization and the Environment -or- we can try to save the Economy. The we have a slim chance with the first option, failure in the second is axiomatic. But we will forge ahead with the wisdom of reindeer.
Steve and Lucas,
I agree with you both.
But the point I wanted to make (an unpleasant thought in its own right) is that we have reached a point in the course of human events where it can be logically argued that large-scale and rapid reductions of human population are necessary AND this at a time when such a thing is actually possible. Surely most of you heard about the experiments with the bird flu that made it far, far more contagious. The research needed to generate a highly virulent strain of this high-mortality virus was paid for by some entity for unknown reasons. Now, one doesn’t even need a conspiracy to make this situation dangerous. All one needs is a single scientist who has access to this bug who despairs at what humans are doing to the planet and is willing to expose himself to the virus before boarding an international flight with multiple connecting flights. Gives me the shivers.July 17, 2012 at 5:47 am in reply to: From Crisis to Crisis: Zimbabwe to Greece to Montana #4657
One of the things that really jumped out at me was the following:
“Needless to say something like this has a huge impact on the psyche of a teenager. It pretty much wiped out any normalcy bias about what to expect from our political or economic systems. It also seeded a deep philosophical and practical anarchism within me.”
Late in my teens I experienced a medical condition/situation that left me with some pretty big scars and a mild case of PTSD- a tumor the size of a tennis ball in my nasal cavity. 19 years later everything is fine, but contemplating a potentially life threatening diagnosis (for a period of a few months until after the surgery, it could not be determined whether the tumor was cancerous or not) certainly did a number on my normalcy bias. I’ve often wondered to what degree this formative experience has fostered in me a willingness to contemplate, discuss and accept unpleasant realities.
As an avid consumer of news and information from a variety of sources I am increasingly dismayed at what seems to me to be a pattern of “reaction formation,” a determined and willful self-deception in the face of facts that present clear challenges to conventional thinking about the nature of the reality and our relationship to it. Even among people who have in the past openly expressed support for or understanding of concepts of resource limits; damage to ecosystems through pollution/degradation; the ponzi-nature of the global economy; etc- I am seeing among even these people a desperateness to cling to the status quo, to the extent that they are engaging in mental contortions to find ways to explain how everything is going to work out fine because of … fill in the blank.
I really find myself feeling more discouraged than ever, when at a time that I might expect to see more people waking up, I see them going even more determinately to sleep. I expect this sort of thing from those in the mainstream media, politics, academia, and the like- but from where I stand even people who seemed to know which way the wind is blowing, even some of these people are beginning to engage in magical thinking. To paraphrase JHK, if we can’t come up with even a basic, general consensus about the reality we face, we are well and truly fucked. Of course I don’t expect people who think the world is 6000 years old and that any day Jesus will be coming back to rain hellfire upon the likes of us sinners to come together with us to build a consensus about the nature of reality. But what is it going to take to shake people out of the Normalcy Bias that they cling to ever more desperately with each passing day?
“The capacity for self delusion in humans is enough to make one believe we are genetically programmed to seek self destruction while we label it “economic growth”.”
That is just the physical expression of our Dominant Paradigm. As Derrick Jensen says, “If you see a tree as a source of profit, you’ll treat it one way. If you see a tree as a tree, you’ll treat it another way. If you see a particular tree as a particular tree you’ll treat it another way still.”
How we see the world and understand our relationship to it and to one another is not genetically hardwired, but rather culturally programmed. It is our “operating software” if you like. But our operating software, whatever it may be will inevitably lead to what are effectively preordained outcomes. As long as we all continue to believe T.I.N.A. (There Is No Alternative), we’ll continue to attempt, to paraphrase Einstein, to solve problems with the same level of thinking that created them. A society organized around an economic system based on short-term individual self-interest, mediated primarily by transactional exchanges will invariably cannabalize itself. It’s only a matter of time.
Very interesting, food for thought. I have been thinking a lot lately about the development of a new paradigm that could be used to organize resource allocation and community solidarity around shared interests and long-term resource and institutional needs. It seems to me that much of the “solutions” to the unfolding challenges/crises we face fail to gain traction or fall short of actually solving anything because the general paradigms we collectively operate with inherently limit how we think about relationships (with other humans and with ecosystems) and resources (both in regards to the manner of use/exploitation and in terms of timeframe relative to gains and costs). I am thinking of undertaking a book on the subject because I think I have struck upon a concept for a new paradigm that could serve as a transitional model to begin the process of moving away from the current dominant paradigm based on transactional systems toward one that is relational. By appropriating a conceptual framework that I think will be largely recognizable if not completely familiar to the Western mind, I think there may be real potential to provide a vehicle that would enable people to begin to think about these issues within the framework of a radically different set of priorities, incentives, rationales, and perspective.
I totally agree with BK, Glenda and RE. But I also wanted to ask if anyone else out there was finding themselves at times unable to distract themselves with mindless entertainment. Increasingly over the course of the last sixteen months, I have at times struggled with the conflicting sense that while I’d like to sit down in front of a streaming Netflix movie or TV show, I can’t bring myself to care what is happening to the characters or in the story. In the past I could have vegged out to just about anything, but in light of the very serious and concrete events unfolding around the globe, I find myself more and more turning off the “TV” and searching for lectures, articles, blogs, etc. I’m becoming more and more addicted to reality.March 15, 2012 at 11:30 pm in reply to: Prediction is Very Hard, Especially About the Future #1722
Wow, mention Israel and the anti-semitism charges start flying. Oh lordy, might it be some conspiracy theory, heavens to mergatroid! Anything that even vaguely smells of conspiracy that might involve anyone of Jehooish decent (and I’m married to one, so don’t anyone get your panties in a wad) brains start shutting down and gums start flapping incoherently.
Yes there are some nutty conspiracy theories out there, and some even nuttier conspiracy theorists, but concluding from those two facts that all conspiracy theories are BS, and all conspiracy theorists are nutty is about as dumb as thinking Growth will continue forever because some prophets of doom such as Malthus and Ehrlich were off on timing. Besides which, the above article hardly proposes anything that flies in the face of recent and well-documented events/experiences. While there may be a few points where El G uses hyperbole in a free-wheeling fashion, I fail to see where anyone remotely familiar with his style could confuse cynicism with bigotry, or tin-foil-hattery.
While some of us (myself) might disagree somewhat as to the extent of the level of collaboration among TPTB, I myself am inclined to see the inevitability of these macro-events as the result of the inherent pattern logic of the global economic system in a finite ecosystem rather than an organized cabal of greedy sociopaths orchestrating events. Still and all it is no doubt a combination of the nature of non-linear organized systems and organized crime.
So in summation, thanks El G. I enjoyed it, and for those of you with bunched panties, goofy theories about islamo-commi-socialist plots, or scapegoating poor people- you may bugger off.
Must be required reading for the Lords and Ladies of high finance and low national politics: https://www.amazon.com/How-Lie-Statistics-Darrell-Huff/dp/0393310728
As Kevin Phillips and Shadowstats have pointed out, tweaking some calculations can have a huge effect on how reality is percieved by the masses. Inflation calculations are foremost among the “juked” stats. Hide the real (higher) rate of inflation and you cover a multitude of sins: cost-of-living adjustments, rates of median wage growth, GDP, some really important ways we deal with spending, budgets and the measures by which we judge the health and fairness of our economy.
But there are also those data points that hide the truth in plain sight such as labor participation rate (and who know’s how much this one is “juked”). When falls in the rate of unemployment are matched by falls in the labor participation rate, that doesn’t exactly qualify as good news, though you wouldn’t know it from listening to the MSM blather on about “job growth”.
The music is bound to stop again soon and lots of people are going to be surprised to find that the chair they thought they had has been snatched up by JPMorgan.
Thanks, these are the concepts that lie at the heart of our challenges. Call it the Dominant Paradigm, the Pattern Logic of industrial civilization, ultimately it comes down to the systems which drive our culture and economy. Just like the rules of the game of Monopoly inevitably leads to one player owning everything and all the other players bankrupt, we too have been hurtling towards the natural consequences of the way we live.
Bluesky, good point. From where I sit we already have enough technology and more to last us forever (kind of like pliers). Much of it is completely superfluous, and some is sadly underutilized. Ultimately I see the low-tech Appropriate Technologies as being the liferaft for human civilization. It’s just a matter of how long we wait to implement these technologies on a massive scale, and how much death and destruction will result from our failure to prepare in a mature and responsible way for the inevitable results of our irresponsibility and immaturity (“our” = those of us in the developed world).
“The thing is, anyone who’s been paying attention knows that a Greek exit from the EMU is only a matter of time, as in less than two years from now.”
Gosh, you are awfully optimistic Ash. With an election coming in April, with the long list of Troika extorted demands scheduled over the course of the coming months and years, I fail to see how further bailouts and austerity will be remotely possible to sustain. Maybe they’ll (TPTB) surprise me with their perfidy and manipulation, and keep this spectacle going longer than I could possibly imagine, lord knows they already have even in the face of macro-economic circumstances that have degenerated considerably. I can only imagine that the longer they keep this thing going, the faster and more severe will be the inevitable unraveling. Eventually that last straw will fall and the poor camel will have to be put out of his misery.
My wife and I are in our 30’s, college graduates, with two kids. We live a work/home lifestyle that is rather un-traditional, in that my wife and I both only work part-time. We are doing the lifeboat homestead thing, and live a very no-frills life, and yet we are still ridiculously busy. We have noticed lately that all our friends, literally everyone we know is SO BUSY just trying to make ends meet while taking care of their children and/or other family members- nobody has time to socialize. I can’t help but think that the grueling demands placed on adults today, especially parents are increasing, leaving little time, energy and resources for actually living. I can only imagine that so long as the economy continues to function in a way that resembles Business As Usual, these people will continue to run on that working class hamster wheel until they collapse. However, when the economy does collapse, these people are going to be completely cast adrift.
“Thirty-thousand years ago, we are obviously talking about a very simple society that could not afford to use its scarce time, labor and resources to develop more complex arrangements and specialized functions. There were no merchants, professional guides/transporters, accountants, bankers, lawyers, military officers, politicians or civil servants.”
No bankers, lawyers, military officers, politicians or civil servants? T.O.S.A and his/her fellows were in some ways better off than us. I do however take issue with the notion that time and resources were scarce for these folks. While the lives of hunter-gatherers were precarious and lacking in modern “creature comforts”, in many parts of the world life for these folks involved an easier work schedule than your average suburbanite professional (especially ones with kids). Once again, I don’t mean to suggest that life was a cakewalk for these folks, but in many parts of the world the abundance of flora and fauna made survival a part-time project- leaving more time than we might imagine for social, recreational and cultural pursuits.
Aside from that nitpicking, I am largely in agreement with everything else. Another good one!February 29, 2012 at 4:34 am in reply to: When the Deflation Tsunami Hits, Losing the Least is a Winner #1104
She flinched more when ol’ Bush jr tried to give her a shoulder rub.February 29, 2012 at 4:32 am in reply to: When the Deflation Tsunami Hits, Losing the Least is a Winner #1103
Well done El G. And I’m with those who would be glad to read essays by you. You are after all retired, so you have no excuses.
On a lighter note, here is a link to a short video of a waiter spilling beer on Angela Merkel. I suppose that this is what comes of serving beer in overgrown wine glasses.
This was just one of the articles that I came across with a quick search of “debtors prisons”. I remembered reading something along the lines of the article linked below regarding people being arrested and put in jail for failure to pay debts or failure to appear in a court hearing regarding a debt or failure to fill out court ordered forms related to debt repayment. In any case, we should all know by now that when it comes to the exercise of power/authority by those with wealth and power, the legal test for justification is “close enough”.
“Are debtors prisons coming back?
Not really, but reports indicate more Americans are being threatened with jail — or jailed — for failing to pay their bills.”
As noted by Michelle Alexander in her book, “The New Jim Crow,” those convicted of drug felonies loose access to foodstamps, welfare, public housing and educational assistance (with some exceptions). So, a small time dealer can get busted for a felony drug offense spend several years in prison, get released and if his wife/partner and children are living in public housing, not only can he not live with them, THEY could be kicked out of their housing for letting him do so. And to top it off in many states he also is barred from voting.February 17, 2012 at 2:47 am in reply to: World oil supply debate between ex-Shell chief and ASPO-USA professor #783
I agree Eugene.
I’m only half way through and I really wish it could have been Stoneleigh up there utterly dismantling the Shell exec’s flimsy logic. I like Tad, he’s a smart and well-meaning fellow, but it seems that he’s reluctant to really lay it out for the audience:
This here, this the SHIT. IT is bigger and nastier than anything the global economy has ever witnessed, and absolutely inevitable. This, this is the giant fan, it is the only thing standing between the SHIT and 3-4 billion people who are soon to find themselves up a creek without a paddle. Get yourself a paddle, and get the $%^& out of the way.
don’t forget that the “rate of inflation” is also part of the GDP calculation. I put it in quotation marks for the same reason that I would put “Global War on Terror” or “US Healthcare System” or “Compassionate Conservative” in quotation marks.
Because the words commonly used to signify the realities that are signified conceal (or not) some real bullshit that serves the interests of TPTB.
The real rate of inflation, if applied to GDP would have shown anemic growth at best over the last decade or two and would have necessitated some very serious conversations about wages, pensions, and Social Security C.O.L.A.’s.
While you are in Australia, perhaps you could look up David Holmgren (co-founder of the permaculture concept). He lives not awfully far from Melbourne. A very interesting guy. If the two of you could have a recorded conversation I’m sure it would be both fascinating and enlightening.
Yeah, it’s enough to really make a feller mad. Save that fire Ash, I expect these outrages are just the beginning (or the end of the beginning, or the beginning of the end). However we might choose to put it- there is a part of me that can’t help but think TPTB are like sharks in a feeding frenzy. Could they even choose to do otherwise? Has the momentum of events, and the pattern logic of Capitalism made all of this inevitable? I think so.
In a similar light, I don’t think I should be surprised when the people of Greece completely lose it and start stringing up bankers and politicians.
I would have expected at least a few of the regulars to have posted by now. I guess change makes people reticent. I suppose it will take a bit of time.
Kevin Phillips writes the following in a 2008 piece, “… a fundamental mismanagement of the U.S. economy rests on a framework of what can bluntly be described as lies, damn lies and statistics.”
Lies, Damn Lies and Government Inflation Statistics- https://www.huffingtonpost.com/kevin-phillips/lies-damn-lies-and-govern_b_113277.html
I suppose to those that think the highest good is a growing economy, a little statistical chicanery is a small price to pay to get Joe Sixpack to both buy stuff he might not otherwise, and possibly get his vote in the bargain. Win-win! as they like to say.
Question regarding this new set-up: will we at some point be able to assign pictures to our avatars?
It occurred to me that the glut of energy capacity and the dearth of credit is likely to sadly make it especially difficult for green and renewable energy projects/companies. At a time when we ought to be devoting more resources than ever to reducing our footprint and restoring the productive capacity of natural systems, we’ll have too little available capital, and too little demand for additional production- not to mention what is likely to happen to the future discount rate.
As for the new site- very exciting, looking forward to new possibilities…