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Dorm poon Kunstler LQD

by melo Sat Mar 22nd, 2008 at 10:46:44 PM EST

Heartbeat too slow? Imagination needs a nudge?

Join me in a rollicking good time...

 Clusterfuck Nation by Jim Kunstler

Black Swans Everywhere

     After a one-day reprieve from total meltdown in the financial markets, news media cheerleaders for the most reckless gang of bankers in world history declared the crisis over on Good Friday (with the markets safely closed). Whew, that's a relief. Problem solved.

More maso frissons below!


 

What is meant by "meltdown," by the way, since the word is used so promiscuously by myself and others. I'd define it as the shock of recognition that many big institutions are worse than flat broke and are therefore powerless to conduct normal operations. By "worse than flat broke" I mean they are so deep in hock that all the accountants who ever lived, in the life of this universe and several others like it, using the  fastest parallel processing computers ever built, could not keep up with their compounding accelerating losses
(now approaching the speed of light).
...
      The current vacation from reality on Wall Street may last a few more days, or even a couple weeks, but it seems as though a whole flock of black swan events is circling the sky over Financial-land and is about to blot out the sun. By black swan, I refer to the concept popularized by Nassim Nicholas Taleb in his recent book of that name, namely unexpected events of  great power that tend to change the course of history.
...
      The mortgage fiasco is still just gathering steam as it moves from the non-payment stage to the default and repossession level on the grand scale. Even the political wish to bail out feckless mortgage holders will stumble on the mammoth clerical task of administrating the process, especially since we've barely begun to sort out who actually holds the mortgages after they've been minced into a fine mirepoix of securities off-loaded onto countless dupe "investors" ranging from municipal funds in obscure corners of foreign nations to countless public employee retirement plans.

     No matter how the authorities try to "nationalize" the sucking chest wound of bad mortgages, the body of finance will flat-line -- and the American public will get stuck with the bill from the intensive care unit. Those who, for some weird reason, continue to pay their way and meet their obligations, will be none too pleased to pay for misdeeds of the deadbeats and their banker-lenders. This portends a taxpayer rebellion, which may translate into a voter rebellion.

      It's too bad the current presidential candidates have been unable to address the unfolding economic nightmare. Their collective silence on the matter suggests that they don't have a clue what to say about it. As the nightmare plays out and black swans flock in to blot out the sun, and the hedge funds come a'tumbling down, and more big banks blunder into black holes, and businesses big and small across the land shutter up their operations, and the unemployment rolls swell, and families are thrown out of their houses even when bailouts are supposed to be saving them (but the bureaucracy can't get the paperwork done in time) -- well now, they are going to be one pissed off bunch of people. What will they do at the conventions? Or outside the conventions?

      In the deeper background of all this is the all-important oil story that nobody in politics or the media wants to pay attention to. Notice that in the fervid unloading of assets this past week, as investors dumped their positions in the commodities markets, the price of oil remained stubbornly above $100-a-barrel when it was all over on Thursday afternoon. Well, maybe they'll ratchet down a little further this week, but the trend line will prove to continue remorselessly upward in the months ahead.

      Peak oil is for real. The supply can't keep up with global demand, even if it dips in the USA. And more portentous sub-plots develop in the story every month. Export rates are falling at a steeper rate than depletion rates. The exporting nations are not only buying more cars and running more air-conditioners, they also need to use more energy to lift the oil they've got out of the ground.

      Another sub-plot is the fact that the equipment used world-wide to drill for oil and recover oil and move oil around the planet -- all that equipment is now so old and rusty that it can barely do the job, and it is going to start failing altogether unless investments are made to replace it, which nobody is making.

   By the way, Americans blame the familiar private oil companies for all the trouble with oil in their lives -- Exxon-Mobil, Shell, et al -- but they don't seem to know that oil nationalism is in the driver's seat now. The old private "majors" are only producing five percent of the world's oil. The rest is coming from the national companies -- Aramco, Petrobras, Pemex, et blah blah -- and the very operations of the oil markets are entering a phase of radical instability as they move away from auctioning their stuff on the futures markets and start making long-term favored customer contracts instead.

(I hope Jerome will pitch in here on this, ed)
   

 The bottom line is that high prices for oil is hardly the only thing America has to worry about. Pretty soon the US will have to worry about getting the oil at any price -- meaning, we're in for shortages and supply disruptions sooner rather than later.

      Also unbeknownst to most of America, the financial markets reflect all this instability around the basic resource of oil because industrial economies like ours are set up in such a way that they can't run without cheap and reliable supplies of the stuff. So the least little twitter in the reality-based world of peak oil means that everything to do with money and capital investment will naturally go batshit, since our expectations for increased wealth -- i.e. "growth" -- are predicated on the activities driven by oil.
...
March 22, 2008

    Here is the link to the site for his new novel, set post-crash. The music is sweetly post-peak oil as well. Turn on your speakers for it, if you like mellow backporch acoustic, you're in for a treat.

Time to stock up on soy sauce, salt, C, seaweed and strings!

Poll
How much of Kunstler's writing is gleeful hysteria?
. He's pitch perfect, just enough hype to hook your armageddon-jaded attention 30%
. He's completely over the top, should stick to fantasy 10%
. He's woefully understating 0%
. Muffled groan of despair from under duvet 20%
. I'll read the novel and get back to you 0%
. That's it, I'm cashing in my 401K and buying survivalist kit 10%
. Peak oil, you don't say! 10%
. Om.... 20%

Votes: 10
Results | Other Polls
Display:
JHK does seem to revel a bit in the bad news.

One great big honkin' I Told You So, and it's hard to blame him (and others) who have indeed been telling everyone so for some years now.  I also have been a (minor) voice in this (minor-key) Cassandra chorus, but I find I have little relish for the ugliness of the actual crash -- which is not nearly so slo-mo as I had expected it to be, it seems to be accelerating pdq.  I have been discussing with friends for at least 6 years the difficult timing of getting out of the US with enough assets intact to refit my boat before the materials needed to refit the boat become unobtainable, and that threshold seems to be more perilously near than I had guesstimated.  I expected the unravelling to start closer to 2010.

But as my cheerfully gloomy friend rootlesscosmo points out, massive financial crashes have happened before in the capitalist epoch and did not lead to lasting social reforms, let alone revolutions with much staying power:

I think it's worth remembering that the financial gyrations in Trollope (or Frank Norris for that matter) weren't followed either by permanent devastation or by social revolution. This system has proved to be enormously resilient and adaptable; the costs in human suffering are terrible, and the new configuration isn't like the old (and may in measurable ways be worse), but The Final Conflict keeps getting postponed. Of course I'll probably be saying that even as the real cataclysm arrives; on the other hand, maybe the deluge will considerately wait until après moi.

I responded that perhaps we need a new C&W song along the lines of "Ah'm-a-Geddin Tahed of Waitin' for Ahmageddon"...

Maybe my friends are a selected bunch, but it amazes me how many people I know (or even have just recently met) who confidently expect that things will "fall apart" within their lifetimes.  Some are terrified, some grimly resolute, and some are even energised and optimistic:  a 50-ish boat-gypsy woman I recently met said that she was rather looking forward to the collapse of the fossil/corporate regime, as it would mean less meddling and interference with the way she prefers to live (off the grid and low tech).  Up North, my farming friends are trying to acquire any industrial equipment and parts they need before their region becomes, as they expect, an isolated backwater without regular freight deliveries.  

What we all have in common is a deep fear of an interregnum of chaos and possibly banditry/warlordism before some kind of new order emerges (the post-Soviet Russian experience is a sobering precedent, as the oft-quoted Dmitry Orlov reminds us).  "I am glad we are so far North," said my farmwife friend, "far from the border.  I worry about gangs of armed hungry Americans invading Canada."  She was half-joking -- sorta.  I think any thoughtful person is bound to worry about the potential for violent mob behaviour as a response to (a) resource shortages generally, (b) sudden poverty experienced by the previously entitled and spoilt -- and about the potential for massive State repression in an attempt to put down both random/criminal mob behaviour and spontaneous collectivism and expressions of unrest.  Personally, I wish I were further from major urban areas.  And I wish I owned some land :-(  It looks like a bumpy ride for a few years or even decades, and that could well mean the rest of our lifetimes for those over 45.

(sigh) May you live in interesting times.

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Sat Mar 22nd, 2008 at 11:11:38 PM EST
DeAnander:
One great big honkin' I Told You So

hole in one!

as for armed gangs, i try not to go there, but those 3 am thoughts come in clear sometimes.

no matter what physical you salt away, it can all be swiped from under your nose, the more intelligent your hoard, the better it looks risking the nothing-more-to-lose some will have.

at least in a boat you can bail easier, no pun intended.

on land you need to be near your food supply, at sea you can fish.

either way, unless there is mass aerial spraying of soma, people are not going to go quietly into  that good night, and how long it will take for things to 'settle down' is anyone's guess.

the meaning of dylan's line about honesty and living outside the law will perhaps be further clarified, not to mention 'take what you have gathered from coincidence'...

it is fitting that those willing to put up with the greatest isolation, sacrifice and simplicity of life in the Age of Gluttony will be likely those carrying on the dna torch.

what happened to your sig?

given it up?

DeAnander:

Some are terrified, some grimly resolute, and some are even energised and optimistic:

that, in a nutshell, is the continuum with the greatest oscillation to centre, the one that makes me want to keep every little piece of string and old odd bolt...

regular old steptow, i used to love that show...

no one did crabby like the dad, archie bunker was a kindly soul compared!

i guess i will happily suck up cassandra's moans if they're well written enough, the sound of a fine brain working is uplifting in any key...

i used to think years too, now it's months if we're lucky, weeks or days if kunstler's right.

no matter how big the tsunami bearing down is, breathing is still an option (till it isn't!), and one easily forgotten in moments of panic.

che sera sera...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 12:06:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Check out Orlov's reply to the five stages of grief.  From him we have (scroll down to Friday 22 February 2008) the five stages of collapse.    

We are only just entering stage one (financial collapse--investment and banking go down).  From what I know of the banking system Europe will not be immune from the disaster unfolding in the US.  

In the US  we will surely enter stage two (commercial collapse) as hyperinflation due to criminal mismanagement destroys the dollar and makes every day business transactions--such as buying food in the market--impossible.  Europe has a chance of avoiding this phase.  

The third stage--collapse of government--also seems assured in the US given the nature of our politics and political trajectory, but again, Europe might well avoid this.  

I have not seen anyone propose hyperinflation will happen in much less than two years, but I am expecting we will see it before 2008 is over.  Either way, I don't know anyone who is ready for this.  

Their remains a chance we will not see stages four and five.  Meanwhile, as you suggest, slow, deep even breaths!  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 01:23:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
thanks for Orlov link -- funny, intelligent writing (well I could do without the ho-hum schoolboy slap at Condi Rice for not being pretty enough to suit his high and mighty maleness, but apart from that, funny and sharp as a tack).

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...
by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 02:00:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Kunstler writes as if this is a done deal.

It isn't.  Things may stabilize, with various amounts of pain.  Or not.  Nobody knows.

What is certain, because it is an microeconomic fact, is the more people organize in cooperative communities the better their lives will be.  The Shaker communities in 19th century were worth upwards of a million dollars -- when a million dollars was a lot of money.  

Let's run some numbers as an example.

5 US families consist of 10 adults and 5.7 kids (isn't Statistics wonderful?)  They have around $1.125 million tied-up in home mortgages needing an estimated $37,772 for payments each year.  The average person spends $7/day on food meaning our projected cooperative spends $40,113.50 a year on food.  10 cars means about $225,000 tied up there at an estimated cost of $11,250 for payments and about $66,300 a year operating costs.  The average US consumer spends 13.6% of their yearly income on clothing, shoes, & etc so that works out to an estimated $74,732 year.  The yearly costs are $230,167.50 versus an average gross income of $350,000 minus $59,500 (Marginal Tax Rate of 17%) or $290,500 net income.  Leaving $60,332.50 for additional expenses.

Now lets look at a cooperative.

In Albuquerque or El Paso a 6 unit apartment complex will cost around $850,000 for a yearly payment of $28,540 (savings $9,232) and the extra unit will rent for $450/mo or $5,400/yr for a total housing savings of $14,632.  Because the families are cooperating the daily 'Mom Taxi Service' can be combined so, let's say, 3 of the cars now become irrelevant for a savings of $17,880.  There are ways to lower clothing costs but let's say that is a wash.  The food is a big item.  Bulk purchase of food, a moderate sized garden, and cooperative food production such as baking bread, freezing, drying, canning, & etc will drop the yearly costs by 50% -- I know cuz we done it :-) - and they save $20,056.  Total savings are $52,568.

Meaning: even this small step towards cooperative living increases the savings from $60,332.50/yr to $112,900/yr.

Needless to say, this extra money becomes crucial during hard times.  


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 01:31:31 AM EST
In what sense is Kundstler a "doomer?"  

There are precisely two things.  

These align with his hates, about which he is very open:  He hates car culture, and he hates modern architecture.  He hates them for the way, as he sees it, they distort the human mind and corrupt social relations.  

He notes that both are dependent on cheap oil, are therefore not sustainable, and hence will not be sustained.  He notes that this implies further that we will make "other arrangements."  Whether these arrangements entail mass-die off or not rather depends upon what the arrangements are.  Such pessimism as he has in THIS matter comes from the rather direct observation that Americans are routinely making the wrong choices, were survival their goal.  But he does not claim that that is fixed.  

Only that car culture and modern architecture (and modern Ponzi-scheme finance) are about to end in a fairly dramatic fashion.  

To those addicted to car culture, that IS the doom, and as a doom it is sufficient.  They cannot face the arithmetic; all they can do is scream "doomer!"  

The path for evading a population crash in North America has been charted since at least the mid 1970s, but with every year public and corporate policy takes us farther from that path.  It is true that nobody knows what will happen, but it must be fairly obvious that the trend is not good.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 04:14:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Agreed that JHK and others are "doomers" only in that we (I have to include myself) have a strong sense of the terrible inertia of cultural patterns;  Tainter, Diamond, Hornborg, Jacobs and others all illuminate in their various ways how cultural patterns (memes, lifeways, whatever you want to call 'em) can trump survival strategy, leading individuals or civilisations to shoot self in foot/head and die.

What Kunstler suggests -- and I've been saying the same things for years so I can hardly tut-tut at him despite his occasionally feverish rhetoric -- is that the "American Way of Life" meme (AWOL is a very good acronym for it, suggesting as it does a flight from responsibility) is such a foundational cultural pattern for the presently living 3 generations or so of residents of the industrial north, and such a powerful salvational mythology for billions in the "developing" south, and such a placebo/opiate for the hundreds of mio of poor within the industrial cultures, that it will be terribly difficult to get people to let go of it and deal with reality.  And Tainter and Diamond are there to remind us what happens when people en masse refuse to deal with pressing realities.

Compounding the traditional problem of an intractable ideology/religion cementing unsurvivable lifeways into place, is the other classic element of civilisational collapse:  an entrenched, highly concentrated elite (X-treme Elite, I guess) with little/no sense of responsibility and an intensified case of the same ideology... in other words, a kingly/priestly caste mesmerised by the same BS they feed the masses, and in possession of such a large chunk of the common wealth and such armed might and surveillance technology that they can by main force prevent the kind of social changes that might assist civilisational survival.  (Though as with many kingly castes they are not quite mad enough not to hedge their bets -- as the Bush Family Hacienda in remote Paraguay, and other bunker-like retreats being established by the aristocracy, suggest...)

These two problems -- intractable cultural mythologies and an overwhelming concentration of wealth and power in an intransigent authoritarian elite -- are two important factors in the inability of other, historical cultures to survive their moment of resource crunch.  The distancing of the US political elite from mainstream opinion "on the street" in their own country can be seen as a symptom of this divorce from reality;  certainly the Famiglia Bush/Cheney and its attempts to censor e.g. climate science fit the pattern of elites in flight from "inconvenient truths".

A fair amount of what ET does, when looked at from a distance, is to nibble away at those intractable mythologies -- the Anglo Disease, etc. -- and loudly discuss inconvenient truths ("feral facts" as Daly and Cobb called them) and hence also at the entitlement and consumption patterns that they justify.  But nibbling is hard and slow work, and events are moving fast.

We aren't Doomed in the sense that there is nothing that could be done -- we may be doomed in a worse, more maddening sense:  that our fate is not inevitable, and yet it seems our hands are tied by inertia and loyalty to outmoded ideas and unrealistic dreams.  That we could have acted in time to bail out the sinking ship, but we were afraid to get our hands dirty, thought bailing was beneath us, or subscribed to some odd millennial belief that the gods would give us gills at the last moment.

I live on an island where agriculture has been allowed to deteriorate to nearly nil activity, because it's "cheaper" to truck and fly in produce from the mainland and from all over the world ("cheaper" here means using wage-slave stoop labour and toxic factory ag methods, of course).  Best guesses are that if the planes and trucks stopped running, the island would run out of food in about 3 or 4 days.  This is, quite frankly, insane.  And yet most "civilised" people in the world are living in some version of the Berlin Airlift, like refugees in an encircled garrison having supplies helidropped daily -- long, frail supply lines utterly dependent on a fuel source that is daily becoming more scarce and hence more expensive, and whose continuing use is threatening the production of the very food products that it's being used to transport.  Seen from an alien perspective it is as bizarre as Napoleon's famous invasion of Russia, and as suicidal...

On reflection, I rest my hope in the legions of those amateurs that François so heartily despises :-) the growing (but fast enough?) groundswell of relocalisers, soil repairers, composters, market gardeners, bricoleurs/euses, young and old farmers, CSA organisers, radical cyclists, alternative currency experimenters, "simpler livers", urban gardeners, squatters and so on who are even now trying out the strategies that if adopted more widely might greatly soften the Thud as we hit the Brick Trifecta of peak oil, climate change, and resource liquidation...  I have a strong sense that it is they, not credentialled experts or government officials, who will hold our communities together and get people fed if we get to Stage 2 or (heaven forbid) Stage 3.  People who know how to make do with baling wire, string, and good faith may be our most valuable resource in another 5 or 10 years...

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 01:30:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Feral facts" is good, too.  

The Fates are kind.
by Gaianne on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 02:07:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
yeah, i like 'feral scholars' too.

images of hirsute, scratching, marsh/cave dwelling intellectuals carrying around the library of alexander in their heads!

living googles...

akashic beasts...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 08:26:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Guess who calls himself The Feral Scholar?

After mentioning him earlier (later?), I couldn't resist sticking it  here, too.

by Bruce F (greenroofgrowers [at] gmail [dot] com) on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 09:16:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Full disclosure:  I co-moderate FS (and am wholly culpable for the frontpage design) and copy-edited one of Stan's recent books.  He's a fine fellow imho.  Wish we lived in the same country :-)

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...
by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 09:37:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for letting me down gently.

I saw that "DeAnander" had made comments at FS while I was cutting and pasting the html.  I thought, nah, can't be the same person.......

by Bruce F (greenroofgrowers [at] gmail [dot] com) on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 09:50:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
letting you down?  I hope not!  I was very pleased to see kind words said about my good buddy Stan in this venue.  he's under-appreciated imho.

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...
by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 11:23:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
we may be doomed in a worse, more maddening sense:  that our fate is not inevitable, and yet it seems our hands are tied by inertia and loyalty to outmoded ideas and unrealistic dreams.    

This is the real meaning of Fate:  Inevitable by choice.

The Fates themselves are kind, and offer every possible chance.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 02:17:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
your sig's returned...

DeAnander:

 People who know how to make do with baling wire, string, and good faith may be our most valuable resource in another 5 or 10 years...

europe returns to the roma tribe...

DeAnander:

What Kunstler suggests -- and I've been saying the same things for years so I can hardly tut-tut at him despite his occasionally feverish rhetoric -

well if it takes doom diaries to tempt you out of the woodwork, de, then let it be...

if kunstler, (german for artist), were all about doom, i'd think less of him.

i read several extracts from his new book at amazon, and this is his forte, i believe. the stuff in this piece, and most of his recent blogging, is the bait to lure you into his vision of what could even be possible without all the grisly bits, were the human race to suffer a spontaneous epiphany of spielbergian proportions.

hopefully the visceral disgust at a biome so casually trashed, can and will be replaced by something a lot funkier and humbler.

and the terrible memories of the slow holocaust that is the legacy of centuries of eco-imperialism will serve as reminder, of what happens when human ego supercedes wisdom.

mothers will croon cautionary tales to their babes, and young men will temper their pride and test their courage in ways that do not harm others.

bungee-jumping!

and yes, tinkers will be the new geeks.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 08:43:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The path for evading a population crash in North America has been charted since at least the mid 1970s, but with every year public and corporate policy takes us farther from that path.  It is true that nobody knows what will happen, but it must be fairly obvious that the trend is not good.

Good comment.  

Went into this a bit in my comment here.  The rest of this comment assumes familiarity with what I said there.

The trend is not good but neither is it determinative.  λ is a simple little device for grossly measuring the reproductive rate and under fine grained analysis is too simple to be of much use.  What it does tell us, across all scales of analysis, is the population numbers in one generation is dependent relative to the numbers of the succeeding generation(s) only through λ.  Further we can say λ is an analytical summation - if you will - of a miscellaneous collection of affective factors.  

One of those affective factors, thus one way to really lower λ, would be to gut Public Health: stop making antibiotics, providing health care, giving vaccinations, and all the rest of it.  Might as well close all the ports to prevent food and energy shipments and, what the heck, turn-off all the pumps in the pipelines supplying oil and natural gas.  And now use the police force to evict people from their homes, eliminate homeless shelters, food banks, and poor relief so they are forced to live on the street.

Drastic?  Upsetting?  Yes, but that IS what is happening though I presented it in different rhetoric than we are accustomed.

This isn't Doom & Gloom.  This is the natural processes of an organism attempting to escape the limits of its ecological niche.  And Mother Nature won't let it do it.  When that organism is a member of a top-of-the-food-chain, semi-intelligent, tool using, forward vision, omnivorous, bi-pedal, pack hunting species ... you've got the ingredients for a real mess.

Trying to apply solutions outside of a species repertorie is an exercise in futility.  Novel solutions can be applied if it is close enough or just within, the possible praxis of the species for some individuals to adopt it.  The closer a solution comes to the median or baseline of the praxis the more it will be adopted.

This is the reasoning behind my suggestion individuals who cognize the future mess get off their butts and form cooperatives (= "packs.")  My 'running the numbers' is supporting evidence for forming such, not the reason-to form one.  

The individual members of a pack stand a greater chance of survival as well as achieving a better standard of living, physical and psychological.  (I note humans feel more comfortable as members of a pack versus being a lone wolf.)  


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 03:05:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It would be some cooperative that could absorb the fact that the pain isn't going to be equally spread.

If four of the adults lose their jobs, are the other six going to be willing to pay their share of the mortgage indefinitely?

And how stable is cooperative gardening likely to be in the face of mass unemployment, desperation and produce theft?

by Sassafras on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 09:49:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The answers need not be in the negative, but will certainly be a real, and hard, test of the mettle ( = metal [of the five Chinese elements] = spirit = soul) of the group.  

Failure means dissolution, and a personal transition to Orlov's stage five.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 02:28:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It all depends.

A loosely organized cooperative obviously has a greater probability of falling apart under stress.

The tighter the social bonds between and within the cooperative the greater the likelihood of individuals sacrificing for the group.

If the cooperative is in a major population center the chances of predation is much, much greater (approaching certainty) than one in a lightly populated area.  The more the cooperative is embedded, socially, within the local community the less it is likely the cooperative will be viewed as a source of loot.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 03:04:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Great reading, melo!  The reality, the tone, the rhythm is perfect to raise the pulse and make you think how real and how close it is!  

It´s not some fiction from somebody who just wants to sell books; it is life and we will suffer it, at one speed or another, sooner or later, depending on HOW LONG WE CAN PAWN OFF THE PAIN ON FARAWAY COUNTRIES.   Countries we read about everyday, that are now suffering and dying as our systemic-dinosaur squirms and blows in their faces because politicians made mutual deals for their own benefit.  

Famine in India?  Suicide farmers? So what?  We can still tour the country in the safety of our pink skin!

Irak, Palestine, Chad, Ivory Coast....?  Justified deaths and destruction for millions.  Hell, I can still take a catholic tour of Jerusalem in safety and probably get some paper indulgence from the vat!

Am I getting off course yet?  Not really.  The connections are too real in daily biz and we know it.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 12:42:33 PM EST
One of our amazing abilities is the mass ignoring of the results of our thinking.

"Yeah, Peak Oil is a fact.  BTW, how much is that Hummer again?"

:-)

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 03:14:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A collapse may well look something along the lines of this:


by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 04:08:58 PM EST
Or this:



Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 09:30:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
thanks to all for some good points well made.

'always think of the worst that could happen' my mother would chant at me, trying to calm my fears. she'd seen her family business collapse during nazi occupation of italy, and had survived before the salerno allied landings for a month living on a monodiet of wild chestnuts.

i hated it when she did this, even before i had heard of positivist philosophy, it seemed to invite every demon from hell into the room, though i know she meant well.

as a depressive, it seemed to me, (her budding depressive son), she had swallowed too much of her own medicine for her own good, but maybe it was residual trauma from the war.

i find there is a point where my mind breaks, the balking is so strong that i fold at its force, there is no more productive point to gazing into the abyss, and i cut my losses and...take refuge in whatever shifts my mood best, usually playing music, or soaking up a good flick or documentary.

then i feel like i need to plug in again to the media, since 9-11 it's been obsessive. it's like a massive second shoe waiting to drop, and my determination to try and be as forewarned as possible not to be caught napping frequently approaches paranoia.

is it paranoia when you know it might be?

having hoovered up a huge amount of good and bad info over the web-years, there is a sort of acquired taste forming, for those whose wits are bent on documenting our collective demise, who refuse to be dumbed, indeed find fuel for their expressive talents, even in the unthinkable.

at a certain point it becomes tasteless and too obviously sensationalistic, kunstler walks that line much better than alex jones, for example imo.

depraved times call forth bizarre talents, i guess, or is it that the ancient prophets of yore are here again, in new incarnations?

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 05:04:12 PM EST
One of the ways I try to cope with The Doom and Gloom crowd is by acting on some of the things I can control.

Stan Goff is an interesting man.   The title of his 35 Point Practical Guide for Action says it all.

by Bruce F (greenroofgrowers [at] gmail [dot] com) on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 06:39:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]

thanks for the links, bruce, i had no idea of his military past.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 09:07:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Umm,

Not sure who the guy in the picture is.  Goff vs. Grof?

by Bruce F (greenroofgrowers [at] gmail [dot] com) on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 09:21:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ooooops...

ta bruce

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 09:37:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think Kunstler is full of it. We have that nice trick about sneaking in peak oil into the financial meltdown, kind of the same way George W Bush used to sneak Iraq into 911: just mention them one after the other as if they've actually got something to do with one another.

It is an article of faith amongst many PO doomers that the financial collapse is being caused by PO. I don't see any evidence of this. It is doubly amusing in that (a) it hasn't been established that we are at peak yet and (b) insofar as there is agreement by knowledgeable people about decline rates, they appear to be low.

The economy is crashing because of decisions made in the context of our global financial architecture. Not because of peak oil.

Kunstler is excited about the financial crash because he thinks he can claim credit as an accurate PO doom prophet because of it. But as they say, even a broken clock is right twice a day. Were it not for this fortuitous financial collapse, Kunstler would be unable to claim any credit whatsoever as a peak oil prophet... and in fact he still can't, because it is not shown that the collapse and peak oil are related.

But as long as he can keep mentioning them in the same breath, it appears many people won't notice what he is up to, and he gets undeserved kudos for some sort of presience.

Even that local nut with the 'The End is Nigh!' sandwich board will turn out to be right one day, but no one will congratulate him for it.

by wing26 on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 08:50:07 PM EST
It is fair to say that Peak Oil had nothing whatever to do with the formation and continuing collapse of the US credit-fuelled property-based Mother of all Bubbles.

But do not underestimate the potential of Peak Oil to make a bad situation worse....

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 09:23:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
wing26:

Kunstler would be unable to claim any credit whatsoever as a peak oil prophet... and in fact he still can't, because it is not shown that the collapse and peak oil are related.

he does show the connection

European Tribune - Dorm poon Kunstler LQD

      Another sub-plot is the fact that the equipment used world-wide to drill for oil and recover oil and move oil around the planet -- all that equipment is now so old and rusty that it can barely do the job, and it is going to start failing altogether unless investments are made to replace it, which nobody is making.

   By the way, Americans blame the familiar private oil companies for all the trouble with oil in their lives -- Exxon-Mobil, Shell, et al -- but they don't seem to know that oil nationalism is in the driver's seat now. The old private "majors" are only producing five percent of the world's oil. The rest is coming from the national companies -- Aramco, Petrobras, Pemex, et blah blah -- and the very operations of the oil markets are entering a phase of radical instability as they move away from auctioning their stuff on the futures markets and start making long-term favored customer contracts instead.

i guess that didn't convince you...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Mar 23rd, 2008 at 09:24:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Kunstler just claims all the capital equipment is rusting and 'can barely do the job'? That's meant to convince me of anything? (Oh hang on, maybe you were being sarcastic ... sorry if I didn't pick it up :) ...
by wing26 on Mon Mar 24th, 2008 at 08:26:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
of drilling rigs before Kundstler did.  

Matt Simmons (who is an oil-industry banker) has been emphasizing for a while that if oil industry capital (physical plant, including refineries and drilling equipment) is not updated, decline in oil  production can occur ahead of geological constraints.  How can this happen?  How can this be ALLOWED to happen?  

Because nobody wants to throw money into an industry that is winding down.  It just seems too risky.  

Because the flip side is that unless energy supplies increase, capitalism itself implodes from the inability to pay back on investments.  At which point owning a lot of drilling equipment is not a sure moneymaker.  

The current financial trouble and peak oil are absolutely related.  The timing is perfect and inevitable.  Infinite growth vs. no growth is the nexus, the box from which there is no escape.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Mon Mar 24th, 2008 at 10:54:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Can you really believe that the global economic system is made up of totally disconnected business/political islands that fortuitously follow some unknown destiny?

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.
by metavision on Mon Mar 24th, 2008 at 05:19:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Who said I beleive what you accuse me of?

The problem with PO doomers is that they seem to assume a near one-to-one connection between oil (specifically oil, not any other fossil fuels) and the economy.

But as is well known, and indeed has been explored in depth here at ET, the modern capitalist economy is largely a chimera created by finance. It is quite possible for such a mythical beast to fall apart from its own economic logic, developments in oil notwithstanding. I contend that that is what is happening.

Everyone is putting the cart before the horse. The economic crisis is not being caused by peak oil, not even a little, as far as I can work out. On the other hand, the financial crisis will ensure that Peak Oil, if it is actually here, will actually be more or less a non-event, as demand will start to tank.

by wing26 on Mon Mar 24th, 2008 at 08:34:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Demand for oil is still growing strongly elsewhere in the world, and developments in the US will probably not turn that down, the industrialisation of Asia can drive itself  (pun intended).

Higher prices for oil obviously do have an economic effect in a number of ways. They add to the US current acount deficit and thereby are a factor in the fall of the dollar.

The rise in oil prices itself and the additional inflation caused by the dollar's diminishing value means that homeowners who can't afford their mortgages now really can't afford their mortgages. Which means further trouble for the financial world.

So it's a factor, though whether it is a large factor is another question.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Mar 24th, 2008 at 08:07:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This being said, living here, I like the title of "clusterfuck nation," though in my own view, the term "soviet dumbfuckistan" is probably cuter and more to the point.

too much wealth here for their to be a true clusterfuck; more like because ideologically the nation is totally dumbfuckistan, whatever woe befalls will be guaranteed to be longer and worse than necessary.

past the arc of power, certainly. completely fucked up? aww, i think there must needs be another couple of clueless intergeneration pissing away of wealth for that to happen.

but americans are fast learners: witness irak. maybe sooner than we think...still probably not in my lifetime, though i probably wouldn't want to be my grandkids in Amerika.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Mon Mar 24th, 2008 at 10:19:09 PM EST
Kunstler is just upset that his short positions have done so poorly over the past few weeks.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Tue Mar 25th, 2008 at 04:40:16 AM EST


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