Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Its a Cold, Cruel World - Part 4

Liberal economic policies have blown their constituent's belief systems out of the water. By increasing the number of people receiving government assistance, whether it be for rent, heat, food, healthcare, etc... doesn't matter. The fact is that the exponential function applies to liberal economic policies the same way it applies to human populations or weeds in a building lot - if the number of "tax receivers", (those receiving NET government assistance - which means plenty of "tax payers" are really "net tax receivers") continues to rise steadily then by definition anyone with with a calculator can apply the exponential function, determine when the slope goes vertical and the system fails. Pretty simple, really. EXCEPT... we are talking politics. The same folks that grasp ERoEI (Energy Returned on Energy Invested) go f*@&^ing deaf, dumb, and blind when "e" is applied to any of their core beliefs.

But the "Cold, Cruel World" doesn't give a good fart WHAT you believe. In fact, the only reason we are even having this debate is that these belief systems have caused the outcome that mathematics predicted with certainty would come to pass.

I read a lot of the writings from folks on the other side of the aisle around the blogsphere. Kuntsler has some amusing commentary about complexity in his most recent post, not all of it very consistent. I watch in fascination as MILLIONS of folks on the Left support a 2,000 page healthcare bill that recasts one of the largest and most complex systems in the history of mankind... EVEN THOUGH THEY HAVE NOT READ IT! Is that hysterical?!

I watched in morbid fascination the debate on going to War in Iraq. A nation that had just witnessed, and was appropriately appalled by the murder of 3,000 non-combatants on 9/11/01 was supporting the idea of dropping half-ton bombs on population centers!!

Sometimes I think I am the only normal person left.

Think of the "Green Revolution". Did it alleviate world hunger as promised? Of course not. Did it encourage an explosion of population (think Haiti) that only increase the number of people starving? I leave that to you.

Did the social programs in the U.S. alleviate the suffering they were charged with? Or did they only increase the number of people that will endure tremendous suffering in the future? If you answered no to the first question and yes to the second...

I want to emphasize a point I made earlier: Energy in general, and Oil in particular has MAGNIFIED, or LEVERAGED the ability of the productive members of our society to produce enough goods and services to have supported the non-productive. Please think about that. How "productive" will these people be in a world of declining energy availability? How would it be possible to confiscate enough of their production to satisfy the demands, given the fact that we are running enormous deficits to fund this cluster f***, of all of the "tax receivers"?

Tell me how that can be done.


bureaucrat said...

Someday I hope to be one of the "collapse whores" and see nothing but black. But for now, what do my eyes tell me? ...

1) Turned on the water this morning. It worked. I even drank from it. Refrigerator is modestly full and working.

2) All the unneeded water went down the drain, somewhere.

3) The train was running, and it took me and a thousand more people to work with ease.

4) From the train, I can see all the cars and trucks moving forward as usual.

5) Nothing on the news about gas stations closing today.

6) Tonight I'm going to carry $40 into a supermarket and buy a LOT of food with that $40. Hopefully they are not out of business at 5pm.

7) Checked the Internet briefly this morning. My checking account is still there. Credit cards intact. Weather should be nice (for winter). Gas and electric are paid. Silver is up a bit. My Federal savings account (the G Fund) incremented $.0012 cents/day as usual.

Sorry guys, but eyes don't lie. I have my investments in gold, silver, commodities, shorting U.S. Treasuries, and savings accounts, in case something happens (after 18 years in the S&P 500). But for now, and likely tomorrow, everything is gravy.

Y'all don't seem to understand. For 230 years, every American politician has lied, cheated, stole and DEFERRED everything to stay in office, and they will continue to do that. 230 years and counting.

My goal is to become the first empire NOT to collapse. What's the alternative? The want the CHINESE running things?? Hell no.

Molon Labe said...

Woke up this morning, pretty good morning. Got the wife and kids off to school.

1) Checked the news and private employers let go 20,000 workers in Februrary. But what do I care? I work for a business that receives payment directly from a government program. Life is good!

2) Briefly check Drudge for any additional news stories and find that Obama and the Dems plan to use reconcilliation to pass health care against the will of the American people. Thats not a problem right?

3) Drink some coffee brought in from Brazil and its really good. But its hard to truly savor it knowing that we will have access to cheap goods from around the world combined with the buying power of our extremely valuable dollar indefinately.

4) Go start my car to get it warmed up to go to work. Gas tank is looking a little low but no worries, I'm going to drop a few really stable and valuable dollars in the gas tank and fill it back up. Again, the fact that oil is above $80 and continuing to inch forward daily is of no concern to me.

5)While I'm at work I might take a few minutes and transfer some money into my IRA because the market is going up! I mean have you seen the recovery over the last year? Its amazing. Only a fool would leave money out of it now. Its sure to go up another few thousand points over the next couple of years.

Life is good in America. It's always been good and it always will be good. All the previous empires of the world that have collapsed under their own weight are abnormalities. Keep looking forward. Do not step back to see the whole picture. Keep believing the government stats and information. Afterall, they would never lie and they have nothing to lose by telling the truth. But above all else, just keep smiling and telling yourself everyone else is crazy.

Greg T. Jeffers said...


Please have something to add that is germane to the current conversation. Your anecdotal evidence argument has zero validity. If have an empirical data point or opinion supported by such, by all means, lets have it.

Greg T. Jeffers said...


In case you missed it, I requested the following:

"I want to emphasize a point I made earlier: Energy in general, and Oil in particular has MAGNIFIED, or LEVERAGED the ability of the productive members of our society to produce enough goods and services to have supported the non-productive. Please think about that. How "productive" will these people be in a world of declining energy availability? How would it be possible to confiscate enough of their production to satisfy the demands, given the fact that we are running enormous deficits to fund this cluster f***, of all of the "tax receivers"?

Tell me how that can be done."

Feel free to point out the fallacy in my argument.

Anonymous said...


Good luck on the "collapse whore" thing, I knew you had it in you.


I agree with the past 230 years, however, I would say that thoses first years look nothing like today,and most likely more like tomorrow. As for the collapse it IS happening NOW. Check out Detriot,Youngstown,Miami,Haiti ( will never be as it was,what ever that was),New Orleans, Eastern North Carolina ( people still living FEMA trailers after Hurricane Floyd (Sept 1999 )...

A collapse coming near you things break they just don't get fixed as much until..


Donal Lang said...

Greg; you have the answer yourself - the change happens bottom up, waiting for government (or even worrying about government problems) is a waste of time.

You are prepared for the coming shitstorm as best you can be, and many others are making similar preparations. Others will be capable enough, or maybe just lucky enough, to work it out as they go along.

The government hierarchy is already becoming increasingly irrelevant to day-to-day living. If you can't work a 'proper' job and can't pay your mortgage, healthcare and taxes, and your unemplyment runs out, you'll do whatever you need to do to survive. But you also drop off the gov't's radar. You become a non-person and the black economy thrives.

The danger is in the transitional time as gov't struggles to hang on to control with the tools of state; taxes, police, courts,and ultimately military. I for one am glad I'm not living in a country with all those guns and expectations!

Anonymous said...


I'm glad that I am living in a land with all those guns and expectations. Without expectations, nothing good happens. I'm much happier to be where people will strive to improve on a bad situation, even if the outcome may not be what might be hoped for. Things will be much worse for a people resigned to their fate. As for the guns, they make it much less likely that tanks will roll down the Dan Ryan or the LEI. They are a counterweight to government hubris. We have King George III to thank for this 240 year old attitude.


Coal Guy

Greg T. Jeffers said...


See, Donal, after the Jewish/Nazi experience I LIKE guns.

Greg T. Jeffers said...

Just check with Israel.

Publius said...

Someday I hope to survive this trip to write a best-selling account of my solo circumnavigation around the world, but for now, it's all blue skies and smooth sailing. After all, there's nothing but smooth water on the horizon...

I decided to do a circumnavigation of the globe in my tripped out 45 foot 1975 Cal sailboat. Got it in perfect shape for the voyage... stocked it with food, learned my celestial navigation. Bought a great auto-pilot. Set off...
Made it around Cape Horn. Wow, I'm great! No worries. Just keep sailing, sleeping... boat started leaking, but it's a minor leak. After all, what do my eyes tell me?

1. I'm getting freshwater from the desalination/reverse osmosis machine. Sure, the diesel for the generator is almost gone, but it's still working, so I'm ok, right?

2. Man, I eat well... the canned food just doesn't seem to run out. I've gone through 90% of the food stores, but since I'm still eating well, why worry?

3. The bilge pumps are having trouble keeping up with the leaking from the cracks in the hull, but since they are still keeping up, why worry? Of course, the cracks are getting bigger, and the amount of water seeping in is rising exponentially (which was trivial at first, but man, it really starts to leak after a while). But I figure I can install a few more pumps... but what will power the pumps? Ah well...

4. I love the autopilot... I don't have to even pay attention anymore. Of course, what if a supertanker hits me, or floating debris, or even some nasty pirates see me? But I can always call for help on my satellite phone.. if it even works.

5. Every other circumnavigation undertaken by initially alert but increasingly torpid, lazy, and apathetic sailors has failed and ended in disaster... but I'm special, so I'll be ok. My goal is to be the first lazy sailor in a leaking piece of junk to sail around the world. Yeah!

kathy said...

Her is my collapse evidence. A friend of mine is a teacher. She just retired at age 58 with 80% of her salary (she made $52,000.00 her last year) as a pension and health care FOR LIFE!!! She pays some absurdly low amount. I think it's $60.00 a week and this includes her husband. Now she has gone back to work in the sme school system as a sub and works 2-3 days a week, drawing a salary from the same district. She could live another 30 years collecting these payments. There is no way that parents are going to stand by and watch services to our children be cut to the bone while this is going on. When you consider the people living on the largess of the government, don't forget to add all government employees. Fire fighters, police officers, teachers, social workers, the list goes on and on. They put in their 20 years and retire. They often rejoin the public sector which takes away another job from a recent graduate and expect the handsome pension and benefits with a second career as gravy. This is no isolated case. It is fact for hundreds of thousands of retired government employees. This is crazy and to expect that it will remain BAU is just stupid. I do mean to be be disrespectful but how can you be serious? Where will the dollars come from? I use to bemoan the lack of pension in my husband's job but it turns out to have been a blessing. We were forced to save and fund our own retirement.

Donal Lang said...

You guys misunderstand (deliberately?).
I like living in countries where the population don't believe they need guns to protect themselves and their property from their neighbours or their government.
And I and my family have expectations of a happy family life, with enough food and water, healthcare, education, etc.
NOT being shot in the street for a tank of gas! We don't have expectations of never-ending credit, a McMansion, a Hummer, or the benefits of being the World Dominator!

And George 3 WAS 240 years ago! - getover it!

DaShui said...

Orlov said collapse happens one person at a time.....

I invest in oil wells around Midland Texas.
Most of the people I deal
with are pumped up about peak oil.
However I see the day when the government nationalizes all American oil production in order to fuel the war machine, and to keep agriculture going, and to ration what's left over to 'consumers'. So government will expand
from peak oil
before it gets smaller.

One of my friends works for ICE. He tells me about the double dipping that goes on in his office. His dream is to do the same in 20 years. I noticed that most of the young motivated males I know just out of college are either joining the military or some police force after comparing the private sector. A lot of females want to be lawyers, an indirect way
of working for the government, translating legal jargon.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely right, DaShui, one person at a time.
Last autumn, a friend and I spent several weeks hiking part of Hadrian's Wall, another imperial effort that ultimately failed to control undesirable aliens. So there was a lot of time to think about imperial failure and collapse...and that was my big conclusion...time. It takes a lot of it.
I'm not into the big orgasmic collapse scenario a la the movie 2012. I'm more into the slow but radical change scenario.
And for those who think having a gun is good protection, may I remind you that most every Iraqi household had an AK-47 with ammo at home. Didn't stop Saddam from doing his thing, didn't stop the US from doing our thing.
How we maintain our Social Contract will determine how we do fossil fuel descent. Degrade it enough and we can create our own little Somalia or Haiti.

Greg T. Jeffers said...

Anon @ 8:29:

"Me thinks the man doth protest too much".

Tell me how we continue to fund the social contract - I have given you the parameters that you have to work with... please, "show me the money!"

I will be happy to post your rant. Let's have it.

bureaucrat said...

My data points are all the evidence around you (and the EIA who says oil and natural gas in storage is overflowing as well.)
Your data points lead to a THEORY that MIGHT happen in the near future or longer.

In the 1970s, the world was also coming to an end (inflation, etc.) And then, somebody somewhere discovered Prudhoe Bay (13 billion barrels) and the North Sea (49 billion barrels), and we kept the game going for another 40 years. I'm not naive enough to think that's going to happen again. But if you listen to that Mello guy from Brazil, and his unbridled enthusiasm, you'd say another "one-time" event (finding LOTS of oil) off the coast of Brazil is not only possible but probable.

Yeah, yeah, I know you have a point. But that could be long term. And in the long term, we're all dead. I'm investing along your lines anyway. The S&P 500 in a credit-impaired world is not where I want my money. :)

Anonymous said...


I'm not being deliberately obtuse, nor do I believe that I'll get shot for a tank of gas. I do expect to see some level of protest or civil disobedience at some point. How on point or idiotic the focus of such protest is anybody's guess.

I do not expect civil war or neighbor fighting neighbor. Contrary to the impressions the press gives and the Left's attempts to slice and dice our populace into squabbling pressure groups, we are 99% Americans first. That cuts across all racial, ethnic, religious and economic lines. To the contrary, I'm expecting people to be more responsible and compassionate in the face of adversity than they are now. We are not, by any means, the Balkans.

With respect to an armed populace, I do not expect violent action of the government against the people, or vice versa. A well armed populace does command a higher level of respect between the government and the governed. I believe that to be healthy, and promotes a government that will continue to respect the rights and property of its citizens.


Coal Guy

Dan said...

You may have seen it before but it bears repeating:
In 1929, the Soviet Union established gun control.. From 1929 to 1953,
about 20 million dissidents, unable to defend themselves, were rounded
up and exterminated.
In 1911, Turkey established gun control. From 1915 to 1917, 1..5 million
Armenians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and
Germany established gun control in 1938 and from 1939 to 1945, a total of 13 million Jews and others who were unable to defend themselves were
rounded up and exterminated.
China established gun control in 1935. From 1948 to 1952, 20 million political dissidents, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and
Guatemala established gun control in 1964. From 1964 to 1981, 100,000 Mayan Indians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and
Uganda established gun control in 1970. From 1971 to 1979, 300,000 Christians, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and
Cambodia established gun control in 1956. From 1975 to 1977, one million educated people, unable to defend themselves, were rounded up and
Defenseless people rounded up and exterminated in the 20th Century because of gun control: 56 million.
Switzerland issues every household an automatic rifle
Switzerland‘s government trains every adult they issue an automatic rifle to.
Switzerland has the lowest rate of gun crime in the civilized world.

Anonymous said...

Coalguy- disagree with you on the Left trying trying to "slice and dice" our population.

There is no more polarizing group of folks than the rightwing- in particular the conservative shockjocks like Beck, Limbaugh, Hannity etc. Indeed, the polarizing and enraging of the middle-class has been the goal immemorial of the right because the right wins by default when the middle-class is alienated from the left policies. Can you see any more obstructionist and polarizing behavior than that of the GOP congressional crew who will obstruct any/all positive legislation in order to score in the next election over the dems?

Of course, in a collapsing empire, corruption is a major characteristic of all political players.

Anyway, the US has always been a center-right nation and the left has never really gotten a political foothold- regardless of the claims of cretins like Beck Inc.

At least the left is forward thinking enough to understand resource limits to some extent. Ask any conservative and they will absolutely deny peak oil and resource limits of any kind- as well as opposing to the death any control over the banking oligarchs or the out-of-control military establishment. They will also deny any legitmacy to climate chaos based on ideology and religious beliefs.

Lots of blame to go around.

PioneerPreppy said...

Aother form of entitlement I think we will quickly see causing some real social unrest is child support. With the make up of more than 80% of the current unemployed being male this will shortly cause some serious effects if the unemployment checks stop flowing.

As for Bur's trip to work, mine included seeing the local gas station guy raising his price at 5AM and a sign announcing the closing of the only production business in my small town. A cabinet maker that has been here at least 20 years and had just built a new building maybe 6 years ago who also employed upto 5 people not so long ago.

At the grocery store after work I noticed the price on a bag of rice has risen over 10% just since this fall. Wonder what else has risen.

I then read an article about Colorado Springs removing their park trash cans and every third street light.

The difference is that in the rest of the country NOT Illinois the people and local governments are dealing and cutting back. Illinois is just expecting a sugar-daddy POTUS bail out I guess :)

Anonymous said...

Greg at 8:33am
Read the Wiki on social contract...
Sometime I think you just like the way 'cold and cruel' sounds.
Gets you in touch with your inner John Galt.

tweell said...

Well, at least we're going to make more nuclear power plants. It's not going to make electricity too cheap to meter, but it is something.
We've run government deficits for generations and financed it by printing money. Inflation is a quiet tax that has sucked away our money's value. The rest of the world, stuck with our dollar as the de facto reserve currency, has paid that tax along with us Americans. Now there are more people and nations that are resisting this tax; if it were not for our military that number would be far greater.
The end of cheap energy and government largess is in sight. It is not yet upon us, but it is indeed in sight. Good luck, everyone! We'll all need some.

Donal Lang said...

CoalMan; The only thing which holds Americans together is the American Dream of wealth and success for anyone who wants to work for it. With that down the pan, there'll be a lot of people whose primary identity is tribal; white, black, Hispanic, Polish, Italian, Mexican, Asian, .... Or maybe just Rich tribe vs Poor tribe!

And those " tanks that roll down the Dan Ryan or the LEI" - who do you think will be driving them? Chinese or Russians? Or Americans??

Bur; there speaks a Government Man. You remind me of the cartoon character running off the cliff - we all look forward to that look of surprise on your face when you realise you're about to plummet!

And do you really think the Chinese will bother to invade to run you guys? You'll have just run out of oil and most good things, and be a troublesome population, all waiting for handouts and rescues. Why would they bother? ;-)

Greg; Israel just shows that if you invade someone else's country and then your management policy is to smash them in the face at every opportunity, and then for you to expect them to then be nice to you, you're likely to be disappointed. In fact, you're likey to need lots of guns to defend yourself.
Hmmm, I see your point! Americans DO need lots of guns!!

Anonymous said...

The problem with predicting the future, is you aren't right until the future actually becomes the present. I'm on the "date points to contraction, lower living standards" train of decline. But, I do see Bur's statements from a different angle--more Carpe Diem, enjoy what we have today.

For me food and water are the key issues, if these can be provided to the masses even with increasing unemployment--then things won't get to bad. If food/water become serious issues--chaos will ensue, didn't take things to get Crazy in Chile, what 48hours, and they are are country with resources/money.

Greg T. Jeffers said...

Anon @ 6:01PM

"In touch with my inner John Galt".


Greg T. Jeffers said...


My point with Israel is that their citizens are armed to the TEETH - and they are not harming one another.

Given the Jewish experience in Europe in the mid 20th century, I expect that gun control will NEVER become an issue in Israel (at least for Jews).

Donal Lang said...

Israelis have a common enemy to keep them pointing those guns outwards - the whole Arab world!

Americans don't have that. The War of Terror was an attempt to create a common enemy, for all kinds of political reasons, but the fact is you guys kill each other so effectively already(mostly with cars, guns and drugs), that terrorism isn't a real threat to you. I stick to my point; Americans have no real common identity once the possibility of future wealth is off the table.

Anonymous said...

Donal is probably right. Sometimes the outsider can see more clearly. Take away the American Dream (getting rich)and you've just got a lot of gangs and tribes trying to establish dominance.
Remember the Civil War? More dead Americans than in all the successive wars unless you consider the casualties of the 4th Gen war going on in the streets of America.
US Guns and Ammo manufacturers probably contributed to Obama's campaign, as sales have skyrocketed since his election.
The Party of Fear and Paranoia controls most of the politics. Fear and Paranoia are good money makers. For a while. Until the rock and roll bang bang starts.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 2:14 PM

The left is all race all the time, and it is not about equal treatment, it is about special treatment. I am all for equal treatment of all under the law. Period. The Left's modus operandi has been to separate us into groups along various lines, and declare each a "victim" being preyed upon by the rest. They thrive on the dissonance. There is plenty of wrong to be fixed in this country, but that doesn't seem to me to be their goal.

If the Left has no foot hold here, why, and how has government become so gigantic? Whence the enormous social programs? The federal government has no chance of ever paying it's debt but that pack of clowns in D.C. is figuring out how to spend even more.

Anonymous said...

I am concerned about the inner city gang boys. They will be shocked the most by what's coming. There they are with few skills and little job experience. When the welfare stops and the drug trade dwindles (because you can't work and dope at the same time), they will settle down and find work too. Most of our social ills at this point are side effects of affluence, not poverty.


I've lived here all my life. I've live in big cities and small towns. Contrary to the propaganda, the U.S. is not the Balkans.


Coal Guy