End Globalism, Restore Sovereignty
Below are 10 entries, after skipping 10 most recent ones in the "Post Globalism" journal:
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I've been reading "A Year In Provence" by Peter Mayle. I recommend it. It was a New York Times Bestseller for a year and a half or something like that, top of the list. Its about an Englishman and his wife retiring to southern France in the mountains above the Riviera to a nice slow French country life from the Fast Paced Rat Race of a London Ad Executive. His words are very carefully crafted and his tales of life in Provence below the Luberon mountains are entrancing. My home town is the sister city to Provence, with an official connection and everything. Except my home town speaks English rather than French. One of the amusing bits of the story is that in Provence, things don't happen quickly. Schedules are often discarded for all sorts of reasons. The local price is cheaper, but the service could be delayed a year since the Paris price is triple or quadruple and the locals know not to complain that those rich people get served first. Its local income that enriches the whole place. Being a good sport about delays cements your right to belong and gets you into the underground fun of the various serious dinner parties, secret restaurants, feasts, events. All the good stuff that tourists don't get to enjoy. Having grown up in a place like this, I can attest that such things are actually true and have real value. The local gourmand underground is something you want to be part of.
The movie "A Good Year" which is based on a screenplay by the same author, Peter Mayle, takes place in the same area, 12 minutes from the director's home, about inheriting a vineyard and ancient farmhouse with a few important secrets and a ton of memories and regrets. I liked this movie so much I own it on DVD. The thing about a community like this is that its based on layers of family interactions, history, the limitations of geography and shared troubles, and how that draws the community together. You don't get things like that in a city. You do in a smaller community. Wildfires, floods, landslides, these things force people to share hardships and bring out their empathy and humanity. It's important in the Post Oil future to recognize just how this matters. The author describes the cyclists and the horrific car crashes on those twisty roads which claims fools almost daily. I grew up with that. It makes you tougher and more realistic. It makes you more cautious too. Taking unneeded risks is a great way to get killed. The roads in Provence are just as bad as the ones in California's wine growing districts. Twisty roads make for the right geography for microclimates and better grapes, thus better wines. While Lodi has done very well with its flatlands, and the Carneros district is a salt marsh above San Pablo Bay, most other vineyards are in valleys just far enough inland to still get fog at the right time but heat at the right time too. These things matter if you want good wines, and thus the entire series of industries that follow, mainly higher prices, wine exports, tourism, gourmet restaurants, better hotels, B&Bs, spas, weekenders, bicycle rentals, international tourism, wine competitions, fairs, tours, all the good stuff. That's what I grew up around, and what grew up around me as I went through all those years of school. There were a lot of changes from when I was a kid to when I graduated college there.
The rat race still existed in my town. It doesn't exist in Provence. In Provence, the schedule is listed off, followed by the word "normalement" which means "normally". The implied exception which is potential to the point of being expected. When gasoline was cheap, people lived in my town and commuted to Marin or SF, making lots of money then commuted home the 55 miles. Times changed. Now few people can afford the gas, so those people have either retired or left town, meaning my home town is mostly about tourism rather than exclusive bedroom community for commuters. That's over. The town has changed a great deal due to that. I suspect, since the money of the upper middle class has largely had to leave, getting stuff done is down to people putting the rich tourists first, and the locals last. Are delays and excuses "normalement"? I suspect so. The business sites recommend against operating there since housing costs force wages up and profits down so its a bad place to do business. Nice for retirement, if you can afford it. Nice for hoteliers and gourmets. If you have a money, its great. If you don't, accept the limitations of the place or look elsewhere.
The Post Oil World|
Oil made everything cheap. Oil made shipping so cheap that it devaluated labor, and thus workmanship standards fell. Instead of fixing things, people just bought a new one made in China. People felt proud about their shiny new thing, completely overlooking that a 5 cent part would get the old one up and running again. They felt that New was better than not wasting money. That new was better than scuffed up cheap, still gets the job done stuff. People got talked into this by advertisers who are very good at this sort of thing. They were paid to change America and Western cultures from Savers to Spenders, and they succeeded. The trouble is, obviously, that they were too damned good at it, and our finances imploded from the Spendthrift culture that's arisen from their very effective advertising trend. Now we're all bankrupt and broke (for the most part) and out of work. We don't make many things in America anymore. We make junk food, and straight agriculture (commodities and canned and frozen foods), medicines, most of our cars, tractors, and that's about it. The rest of our jobs are exported, and the goods those produce imported if we need them. iPhones are made in China in what's widely regarded as horrific working conditions. This is ONE of the reasons I don't do business with Apple. If the service is terrible the iPhone is blamed. People I knew who had them were often angry with them for getting crappy reception, said they'd never buy another one... but promptly did anyway. People are idiots.
A week ago I rode a really nice high end bicycle that was 40 years old. It was a 1970 Peugeot 10 speed. That was plenty of gears for where we were riding, and how fast. A gentle upslope along the Truckee river which starts at the outflow of Lake Tahoe, a glacial lake on an active faultline and is 1500 feet deep and holds more fresh water than the Great Lakes combined (they're shallow). The water that comes out is very cold and very clear and famous for trout fishing, though it being summer there were more rafters than fish. That old bicycle was easily restored to operation with hand tools and time and continues to work just fine despite its advanced age. You don't need fancy new crap when your existing stuff is a fully developed technology that's more than a century old. Refinements today are often in materials rather than the essentials of what a bicycle should be, a way to deliver human strength into forward motion and coasting on momentum. Bicycles are great that way. Oil based transportation converted refined fossil fuels into the same thing: forward motion and coasting. Someday we'll have sustainable organic based fuels that will give us the same thing with acceptable costs and tradeoffs, including weather protection and fuel economy. Very light cars, probably. Enclosed motorcycles, possibly. Diesel or electric powered scooters almost certainly. And bicycles, absolutely. The hard part will be accepting the costs of commuting vs working a job you prefer. As wages fall to Minimum Wage as the post oil world matures, you end up judging those preferences very harshly. Since there's no real financial incentive at Minimum Wage, the lost motivation to create new stuff or learn advanced skills goes away. Really, I suspect the West could get by with maybe 20% non-farm employment rates. Farm would include family gardens and local animal husbandry, perhaps chickens and such. With such low employment rates, taxes would have to be pretty low and govt would need to seriously shrink, including overseas military deployments, the usual nepotism and govt contracts, and pretty much all govt not dedicated to keeping the people complacent enough not to riot over food supply. So, rationing is the Post Oil future, rationing of most kinds. This being a food-rich nation (the USA), food exports are also the basic of our Currency value, which is probably about 1/5th what it is now. Think 5-fold inflation on all imports. Including those silly iPhones. Would you buy an iPhone if it costs $1000 instead of $200? Idiots would, but it then becomes a choice between a smartphone and rent for the month, or a smartphone and months of groceries, or a smartphone and enough money to move out of our crappy unsustainable life here and back to somewhere smarter and less expensive. These are the kind of "obvious" that people who finally drop the delusions and start looking around the real Post Oil world are going to see. And that's important. Most of us retract from the nonsense and return to family. That's what the Greeks are doing, the ones not rioting anyway. It may not be comfortable to garden the back yard of your family home, but you probably won't starve. I hope they raise lots of chickens too. Fritattas are happy with those veggies and very healthy eating. We'll be following in their footsteps soon enough.
When you buy a bicycle, start with the used bicycles section. They typically are just as good and quite a bit cheaper. Its a mature technology, remember. When the oil shortages hit, despite falling prices and highest production levels of 91.5 mbpd, thanks to financial collapse and the Greed of OPEC, all the fun stuff we've been dreading will be the new normal. Bike to work day becomes every day its not raining or snowing. We'll be voting for stuff we can't afford because we're stupid, and the streetcar lines or electric buses just won't be here soon enough. We'll eventually buy scooters because we aren't as tired riding them as a bicycle, and even with fuel prices fallen to $3.50/gal (or $20/gal if you adjust for inflation), available fuel will be hard to come by when the govt is only providing rice and potatoes and corn and wheat to eat, not gasoline to drive to a job that no longer exists. With no fuel, who needs you? Who else shows up? Why bother if what you make no longer has customers to pay for it? That's Collapse. That's the post oil world. I'll be impressed if someone starts making bicycle tires and inner tubes within the first year, and manages to ship them via rail. Probably be the current car tire makers first. They have the means and inclination. Interesting times, really. Yep. It will be interesting as they offer knobbies more and more often to deal with the decaying roads, and then suspension bike tune up shops to repair the forks (suspensions wear out fast apparently) until such point as reliability increases and people stop caring about the weight. Bicycles are all about tradeoffs. Weight vs comfort and costs. Its easy to understand. You don't need a degree to work on a bicycle. Everything on it makes sense. Its a far cry from our fuel injected variable timing and compression engines of today. Ones with plastic covers on them to keep you from actually fixing them. And serious ripoff repair costs. A bicycle is simple labor. That's a wonderful thing. Its sustainable Post Oil and an easy argument. Its not eating hay when its not in use. It can be hung from the ceiling to store. An air pump and some lubricant is usually all that's needed to get it working again. They don't need fancy multilevel parking structures. Simple steel racks and a cable lock are just fine. The cheaper they are, the less likely to be stolen. The more common they are, the more effective their value. Yes, bicycles are the epitome of the post oil world. Get used to it.
A Difference of Opinion|
I got into studying Peak Oil after reading a website called Dieoff.org. I wasn't sold on all the arguments, particularly the Olduvai Hypothesis, that tying the level of civilization to the level of available energy. The primary problem with the theory is confusing energy with food supply, and confusing currently used arable land with actual available land. Those numbers aren't the same. This makes the Olduvai hypothesis a bit wrong. CDROMs give our data a way to survive. Mirror sites too. Wireless comms are reasonably cheap to setup and their maintenance is centralized, so its even able to be protected as well. A central public building with an antenna to support the WiMax equivalent, or cell tower at least. Existing infrastructure and databases on fixing stuff, wikipedia too, and you can maintain a fair bit of the old world so the Renaissance comes much sooner than not, and the Dark Age isn't so dim. Maybe call it the Dim Age? The Slow Age? Things won't go so fast, and everything ends up pedal power? Slow Age might be a good name for it.
My friend at that prepper site believes that there will be severe civil unrest, and he's bet on this financially by moving to a very remote location. I've been to places like that. They have LONG and fragile supply chains. The little comforts that make life bearable are that much harder to replace and resupply when they break or run out. Real boonies tend to be filled with broken people. Dangerous broken people. With guns, criminal records, no ethics, brain damage, drug addictions, desperation, and poor planning skills. These are the sorts of people you need to avoid in a Dim Age. The suburbs tend to have the most law-abiding types (people like me) compared to the Inner Cities, where the most violent criminals are. The deep boonies are very mixed, with huge differences in income and the law enforcement varies in effectiveness as well. When seconds count, they're minutes away, after all. In a higher population density those minutes are much reduced. At this point the population density argument is largely a matter of opinion on how the general population will react. I can see the long supply chain argument so long as you can lay in sufficient supplies.
The problem there is you can't. And that's another difference in opinion between us. He's betting on a short term collapse, no more than a year, probably less than a couple months. Most preppers bet on the 2-month collapse. Historically the regional collapses, the small ones from earthquakes and hurricanes and tornado swarms, they're a few months worth of supply troubles. You can prep for those. From all evidence, in particular Peak Oil, we're in a multigenerational collapse scenario, where the ultimate consequence is lower available energy. Not none, just lower. Lower means some basic standards of living, food supply, medicine, communications, and databases for stuff that gave us this standard of living in the first place. The EU is falling into this now, and most macroeconomists agree that the collapse that is hitting there is going to have global consequences. That's the biggest downside of Globalism: everywhere suffers unequally. Resources are unequal, bailouts are unequal, expectations are unequal, so mobility, going to the greener pastures, is way more valuable than sitting in a Die In Place situation. That's my strongest arguments against the Hinterboonies. Yes, you're reasonably safe from Inner City Raiders, but you trade them for local B&E druggies, perfectly willing to commit home invasion on the New Guy (that's you). Nobody is going to stick their neck out or pay attention if your ranch or cabin has a few extra cars there or goes silent till the tax assessor or propane delivery guy notices your front door is open, or there's a lot too many flies or that funny smell. Too late for you. There's way too many ways to break security on a remote location, and way too many risks if you try the "like minded people" argument. There's a reason the Victorians were so obsessed with murder mysteries. People just don't get along that well. Push too many stressors and they get Desperate, and Desperate People Do Desperate Things.
In a multigenerational collapse, one we've been in since 1970 and we started importing oil, you don't always notice the New Normal because you get used to it. We overextended with Deficit Spending, pure madness but nobody asked me. I couldn't vote yet and the idiots are all about keeping the party going. Make the Grandkids and Great Grandkids pay for the cleanup. That's us. The best thing we can do is adapt to the New Normal and keep our expectations really low. The real world isn't fun times, not at the scale we had before, back when we were all Wealthier. That part is over. Now we get to deal with the Bottom, and thankfully that's around 1910's level. Indoor plumbing, barely there electrical that's unreliable, bicycles, streetcars, mostly unpaved roads, plus the newer conveniences of laptops, wireless comms, and refrigerators and solar power to run them. Not great, but its enough to keep people alive until we get used to living that way and it stops being a stress and becomes the New Normal again.
Cargo Bikes|Bicycles for carrying cargo
. They're heavier than regular ones, and slow, but they are all about utility. When the oil runs out, everybody will have one of these, or rent one when needed to get their groceries or move some furniture or a crate or whatever. Energy depletion is amazing for its impact on how we think, and how we adapt to the real world around us, the one that's evolving from the end of cheap energy. I happen to really like bicycles, personally, and I suspect most of us do, when we bother to hop on one and compare how much fun they are to walking. Bicycles aren't much fun going up steep hills, but they're great on level ground and down hills. They're quiet and peaceful and meditative. I don't recommend extra thin tires because those need very high pressure to work right, and they pop on the smallest things. They also only get you about half to 1 mph in speed compared to wider tires. And the lower pressures of wider tires means much lower chance of puncture, so the tradeoff is obvious to me. When you hit a pothole with a bicycle, it bumps you, but you don't necessarily die from it like a scooter or motorcycle. I've had my share of bike wrecks. The more you ride, the more chances to screw up and get hurt. That said, from what I can tell far fewer people die in bicycle accidents than motorcycle accidents, mainly due to speed. Of course when there's mixed traffic, you gotta be very cautious. A car can easily kill a bicyclist. So can a truck. But a bicycle uses food for fuel rather than petrochemicals, used cooking oil or alcohol. A bicycle can run for years without a serious tune-up.
The American Ponzi Scheme|
America has a great con going, but its almost over. It has an open admission system to let immigrants come in. But that only works so long as the immigrants are more productive than they are parasitic. In many cases, they have great ideas that keeps the wealth going. The problem with the wealth today is that most of it is patent based, and when you publish your patent during registration, anyone who sees it can reproduce it provided they ignore patent law. This makes it very easy to steal all the cool innovations taking place. The internet makes this possible worldwide and anonymously until such time as a product with the stolen patent is everywhere and is discovered by the patent lawyers looking for the violation. And since the nations copying patents with impugnity have no laws (China, Iran, Pakistan, Brazil, Taiwan, Phillippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Burma, North Korea, India) to stop them, well, the American dream doesn't work. Allow me to explain further.
The whole point of these great ideas is to enrich yourself, the host country, and create jobs and tax revenue to keep the show going. If the patent is immediately stolen and mass produced because you were foolish enough to put it into the patent system, then you lose all of that. If you don't patent it and someone else does, you lose too. This is a Catch-22 situation. Publish AND perish. The only way out of that is bombing the hell out of the theives, and even then we can't afford to go to war with everyone stealing from us. This is a huge demotivation for innovation or creating new ideas, as no nation is capable of stopping the others from stealing their ideas.
Repeat for scientific discovery. How long after A123 battery company produces one of their new carbon nanotube bridged phosphorus doped lithium ion rechargeable battery packs that some competitor in China builds it for less, paying for no patents and just ships it everywhere but here? And then through the Grey market ships it here too. How willing is A123 going to be to invest yet more millions on battery technology based on a scientific discovery that's technically 10 years old (I read the article a decade ago, and the updates in 2006) and took all this time to produce into a product. That's NOT a good thing. If we're doing the leg-work and then the Chinese just steal the results, pretty soon our R&D is defunded and bankrupt, and even the govt funding for A123, which is all that's keeping it afloat and likely to get the current presidential officeholder fired as another example of frofligate and wasteful spending, like Solyndra and its missing $500M that appears to have gotten sent to Brazil along with some executives from that company. How tacky. So A123, even if they win, they lose. And if they DO go into production, there's a limited amount of lithium that can be mined/extracted and one of the places is empty now, another is openly hostile to the USA and keeping it in the ground to get more money for it, and the last is only able to produce something like a ton a year. That sounds like a lot, but Peak Oil is 2007 and we're in decline, so we need electric cars for those longer commutes.
The big irony here is the more I study things, the more I see all traffic and jobs becoming kind of like Ho Chi Minh City in modern day Vietnam: sweat shops, bicycles, scooters, and rich people with cars running everyone over indiscriminately because they can. This is actually called "The Road Tax" and it really creeps me out. On review, whenever I rode my bicycle the most (frequency or distance), an accident and some injury eventually occurred. Throw in the usual indifference caused by exhaustion and you get accidents, some fatal. Life with no rain protection is going to make people unhappy with working in the Winter months, which means you'll lose 3-5 months of productivity as well. That will motivate for trains and streetcars, however there's a false story going around that fixed operating costs drive transportation companies into failure. I don't buy that. The taxi and streetcar companies were doing fine until Standard Oil bought them out and took them apart. Still, those require physical investment and with falling tax revenues and graft, I'm not sure they'll get operational in time to matter. If that happens, with crash first, rage and riots next, burning and destruction following, and the usual revolution nonsense after, any fix will be too late in many places. Living as I do in the Bay Area, I'm seeing mostly DENIAL as the first and ONLY response to the EU crisis and incipient end of the value of the US Dollar. When all these steps are done and they get around to wondering how to rebuild, you'll find us all living at a much lower standard and getting used to it. Someday a house on your street will be the local diner because somebody there knows how to cook and keeps chickens. Someone who knows how to roast coffee beans by hand will end up running the local coffee shop, and sends their kids out to make deliveries to the diners in town for cash money. Someone with solar panels will be charging up batteries for people's small appliances (cellphones). Somebody who can fix cars will end up the mechanic on his front driveway and takes barter trade for repairs to avoid taxation. None of these people will be especially high quality or level of production, but it will be very local. And the IRS agents will sneak in and break the economy as much as they can get away with, just like they did in the 1930's. Because that's their job, and Evil People(tm) always gravitate to these kinds of power-trip jobs. Come in, ruin things, leave if they live through the outrage, kind of like assassins or a band of marauders or a mongolian horde if they get stirred up enough. That's going to be yet another hardship for us peasants. Knights did the same thing in the Dark Ages, slaughter and pillage and rape their way through communities. That's pretty grim, but look at how things are in Africa and Central America. Its going to be like that here. How do we deal with it? The obvious thing is to lower taxes for home businesses so it doesn't get to the point of violence or kidnapping, to prevent the desperation that tears a place apart.
And all this inevitable consequence of being unable to protect the very thing that attracts immigrants (upward mobility and lifestyle through patent innovation) means that the people coming here will stop coming here. Some may go home. I know at least one that's planning to, personally. He's lost his shirt on an underwater mortgage and is living paycheck to paycheck despite a high tech job because his industry is collapsing thanks to the EU crisis. The EU crisis that most Americans pretend isn't happening. That America itself is a continuously updated Ponzi Scheme floating on the hopes and dreams and available credit of millions of new
suckers immigrants ready to give their all to the system so they can get that White Picket Fence in the suburbs they saw in those Hollywood movies made decades ago. That the real world more closely resembles 80's action movies combined with the pain and suffering of the 1930's as narrated by Frank Capra... well, if it wasn't so hard to get here in the first place that the immigrants keep lying to their relatives back home to not sound like idiots for coming here for wage slave jobs in sweatshops... yeah. America: not a great deal anymore. Wait till our currency collapses. It won't be long now.
Second Chinese Tariff Implemented|
Strangely enough, the first trade tariff against China was to stop their large wind turbines from competing with those from GE and Siemens (a German multinational). The second tariff was just announced, increasing prices of cheap Chinese solar panels 250%, which ironically means that the installation industry for residential solar power is going to get squashed. At least temporarily.
I visited a remote rural location so far in the boonies that the power lines stop about 8 miles downhill and the phone lines are buried because its cheaper than replacing overheads when wildfires rip through every 5-7 years. The people there are on solar and gasoline generators. They minimize their electrical demand and mostly go nuts. And not in a nice way either. It was like Spahn Ranch out there. Illogical lifestyles get enabled by cheap solar. And how sad is that? True, if it were mandatory that all PRK homes had cheap solar and backup batteries retrofitted in, we could run our refrigerators and furnaces or the blower on a pellet stove for emergency backup in the event of a temporary blackout, something that's rather likely in the real world since the Grid is nobody's responsibility anymore. Cheap American Solar will have to step up to fill this niche instead, at a slightly higher price.
It is worth noting that thanks to American's cheapness, we're pointed towards the same sort of Austerity that Greece is falling into, namely the middle aged turning into homebodies growing veggies in their gardens to eat, no reliable power supply, and no currency worth saving. I'm not sure how I'm expected to feed my family on veggies grown in red dirt with low fertility soil, but whatever. We've already lost 40% of our savings to inflation and the housing bubble crash, so its sort of to be expected that things will continue to get worse.
I wonder what the next anti-Chinese tariff will be? The obvious one is steel. Chinese steel has pretty well killed the US steel industry, and a trade tariff there would get union workers votes, as well as pay for more steel recycling. Same with aluminum. We need those metals for any kind of serious manufacturing push. I spent the last 4 years in manufacturing. I can say that the "team" environment thing needs a cattle prod and probably tasers to get under control. And it really doesn't work. Small production can be okay, so long as it's short run and not abusive. Trouble is, managers today tend to be abusive because people who go into management are utter d1ck$. Finding a manager with a soul is pretty hard. The longer you're stuck in a repititive job, the more reason to screw up so you don't have to do it anymore. Ergo, short runs are best for human beings. Longer runs can be fully automated and hopper fillers end up doing that for a short period before wandering off to some less boring job. That's the big downside of manufacturing. These are the sorts of problems American manufacturing employees face as the Chinese stop selling their junk for under mfc costs, the primary upside to the Yuan decoupling from the Dollar. The Chinese and Japanese are now trading straight across from Yuan to Yen, if you can believe that. They hate each other, passionately, but they're doing it. The USA has allowed China, India, S. Korea, and Japan to trade in Iran's oil without punitive action despite the UN and NATO embargo rules. Hilarious how those a-holes get a free pass.
Meanwhile, oil continues to fall, week-on-week and hovers around $83 today. This is a $20/bbl drop over the last 6 weeks. That's 20%. The Saudis again announced production cuts to try and drive the price back up, but the market response has been curious, namely increased pessimism over the EU breakup being inevitable, the inability of the PIIGS to pay for oil imports being primary there, and the high probability of "contagion" causing the teetering central and northern EU members to collapse as well. That would really cut into oil purchasing power and thus lower prices result. I never would have thought that the $147/bbl price would really end up the high, but it sure looks that way. Go figure.
I think many of us are going to be hoping that our local govts are going to deal with Peak Oil and Stagflation with public transit and local mfc jobs. I worry such a thing was Optimistic on my part. The more I look at the job market, the more concern I have that eventually we're going to have a Greek economy: 10% employment, 90% unemployment or support. We really could end up that wrecked, just like Greece. When you consider that the primary export of the USA is technology being built in other countries and copied without regard to patent law... well, we're screwed. The next biggest export is arms, also easily copied. And the third biggest is agriculture... which is sort of like Greece. After that is Tourism, and our fabulous tourism advertising agency, Hollywood movies. Those are becoming less and less relevant thanks to exported technology and computer generated graphics for special effects. It's really just a matter of time and effort before arrogant Hollywood execs are obsolete. They already generate less revenue than the Video Game industry, which offers stunning graphics and interactivity. The Uncanny Valley is almost here. Making high resolution animated movies with a console is probably not far from today. So, that leaves the USA with a broken technology business model and growing food. Yay? Not so much.
Buy a bicycle if you haven't got one already. Break it in, ride it, figure out how to repair it and stock up the parts if you can. Just remember it can be stolen. Locks just keep honest people honest. Desperate People do Desperate Things.
Moving Forward |
For a long time now I've talked about transportation being key, following the trade tariffs to restore jobs, to a stable US economy, and possibly some kind of sustainable recovery. Few people like the idea of a steady state economy because even fewer want to tell their banker they need to get a proper job instead of counting on "unlimited growth without limits" to feed the loan-inflation model his entire business is based on. It doesn't work.
Transportation gets you to a job where you make something others value enough to buy for more than it cost you to make it. It might not be a lot more, but more, just the same. The goods you make will probably start with critical infrastructure, followed by repair parts for the same, followed by housewares and new (old) forms of transportation. Things that keep you going to work, so the economy doesn't just plain die and where you live dries up and blows away in the wind. I grew up around Ghost Towns. That's really the end story of every part of the PRK. "They found something, harvested/mined it till it was gone, then they left for the next big thing somewhere else." The few places here that actually make sense are near the big agriculture of the Central Valley, and that's mostly for people who either work the fields, the equipment in the fields, package what the fields grow, ship it somewhere with money to pay for it, or fix any part of the above, including keeping the workers fed and housed and entertained and educated to their satisfaction. Otherwise? Useless eaters ruin everything. A fair amount of the above can comprise a town, so long as what is grown or mined generates sufficient revenue to pay for everybody. When that something goes, a town can linger on if it has geographic value. If it doesn't? It dies. Bodie, Rhyolite, these are two of the many ghost towns in the West. MANY GHOST TOWNS. All of these boomtowns lived and died on resources that got exploited. Then the exploiters went somewhere else or died. It happens. There's always risk for any reward. San Francisco remains because it has geographic value. Sacramento is inherently more valuable, though lacks the harbor, mainly because it is a transportation and agricultural hub, rather than a harbor dependant on 200 miles of pumps and aqueducts for its drinking water. Someday those will fail and SF will either live or die on its water supply solution. Much as its Bay is silting up from South to North, and the effort involved with dredging the harbor to allow container ships to offload cargo at the Port of Oakland, energy is required for the SF bay to remain of value. Eventually it will be too expensive for all but the Rich and their servants/slaves. So much for the Star Trek version.
It is not just transportation that makes an economy survive. It has to be easier to do things there. This is why SF will eventually die and Sacramento will live for a thousand years. It is easier in Sacramento. It is easier in Portland. It is easier in Seattle. It is easier in Spokane. It is easier in Vancouver, BC. Use the low energy advantages and invest there, not these ridiculous places like LA and Vegas and Phoenix. They'll die off because they don't make sense. They're a fools' paradise, each of them. When you look at a 500 year capital like Santa Fe, continuously occupied as it is, its mostly been in poverty, but with sufficient water for its population that they could survive there. Not well, but enough. It helps being downstream on a big aquifer fed by all that snow melt. Vegas has no agriculture, other than farming the tourists, who soon won't be able to get there since there's no convenient way to get there once air travel gets too expensive. Vegas is half ghost town now. So is Phoenix, and much of LA is doubled up relatives in one house next to an empty home next door in foreclosure. That's reality. How long before that family goes back to where they came from, be that Mexico or the Midwest? The PRK is going empty, and it really should. Too much of it is occupied for asinine reasons.
So its not just scooters and bicycles that will decide your fate. Its not just food supply, or crime or tax rates, or job opportunities. At some point you're going to have to stop and look at the world around you and ask: "Is it worth it?" And if the answer is no, pack up and move out.
First Anti-Chinese Trade Tariffs|This is the start of the trade war with China
, the first time the USA will return fire. Ironically, it has to do with renewable energy, specifically large Chinese-made wind turbines. Note the absence of mention that most large US-sold wind turbines are made by either GE (a US company) or Siemens (a German company). I'm starting to see these babies all over the place here in the PRK. I expect to see a lot more as time passes. The larger they are, the less likely to break and the lower the maintenance cost per kilowatt.
It is my personal dream that during the course of America saving itself from destruction, it enacts strong trade tariffs that make Chinese goods very unpalatable for US companies and consumers, opening up potential manufacturing opportunities in this country and thus lots of JOBS to fix the unemployment mess. I suspect this sort of thing is inevitable anyway, possibly to the point that Nationalism will reach a point where it is illegal for a foreign national to own American properties/companies/banks/institutions and they be "repatriated" the same way Mexico did with Standard Oil a century ago. That China is a Communist country makes it all the more ironic. Considering the basic selfishness of Americans today, that's exactly the sort of thing to be expected from us. If the Chinese are kidding themselves, well they can still sell to Africa and the rest of the Asia, right?
Different Models of Collapse and Bootstrapping Your Business Idea Out Of It|
In the 1930's, following the stock market crash of 1929 that essentially destroyed all world currencies and flung dictators like FDR, Stalin, and Hitler into power, very different cultures reacted to the collapse in different ways. Most cultures went militant, and turned their neighbors into subhumans they could feel good about killing, cleansing the ground for their own children's futures. That's what they told themselves anyway. This eventually led to WW2 and 40 million dead.
The next round of collapse was in 1989 with the end of the Cold War. Many nations were largely bankrupted by the costs of building nuclear hellfire machines (nukes and their delivery systems). The USA took on a huge debt burden which is 20 years later led to a state of permanent insolvency, hidden behind mountains of paperwork and lies on Wall Street and DC. The USSR suffered bitter defeat, and its allies were abandoned to their fates, Cuba, Africa, central asia all having to come to terms that it was no longer in anyone's interest to feed them for better public relations. These nations ironically became unfunded dictatorships that couldn't hold together so mafia groups eventually took over. The Chinese are influencing some of these places, but mostly by taking over all the business sectors and pushing out the locals, which makes Chinese people very unwelcome in eastern Africa. Cuba suffered actual starvation and deaths when the USSR broke up. Nobody needs Cuba, so Cuba gets ignored.
Japan collapsed in 1989 when its housing bubble, 16 years earlier than the current one that's destroyed the rest of the western world, burst. The bonds issued by the Japanese govt, with its very primitive banking system that is purely 3rd world in nature, prevents any kind of progress by banning good idea from becoming businesses and jobs. Thus Japan wallows in debt and the population are having very few babies as a result. And that's where the story gets interesting.
I'm an anime fan, those funny Japanese cartoons about many different subjects, often times reaching for very serious parody but nearly always praying for some kind of hope from their population. If we assume that these are the virtues they want their youth to have, and the shows are watched because they are genuinely popular so the youth aspire to these as well rather than sink into the profound Mexican sarcasm, a nation that suffered its collapse centuries ago and is unlikely to recover without a new constitution, then anime is the secret hope of Japan, that at some point the War between the haves and the wants, the old and the young, which seems to be their primary problem as that's a metaphor for their debt problem.
At some point, Japan will have to default on their bonds and bootstrap themselves out of poverty like Brazil did. Since the primitive Japanese banking system won't fund ANY business ventures (bastards) and apparently invests overseas in EU derivatives rather than at home where their whole population is unemployed and can see no point in trying (thus the anime about doing your best, over and over), bootstrapping a business venture seems to be the way to go if you're in Japan. How is this relevant? Very much so. The USA is going to crash too. The EU crash is going to tear apart world reserve currency and fiat currency ideas, leaving us with currencies based on something and barter. No more computer manipulatable money supplies like The Fed has been screwing with to keep us wage slaves pretending our 401K's mean something. They don't. At some point, our currency collapses and we end up just like Japan, Germany, Cuba, Russia. Collapsed, no options to fund a business startup, and with a massively unemployed youth, just like Spain has, and Greece. All that unemployment, all those idle hands, in Britain led to the Useless Eaters (Dole Queue) who threaten violence if not given everything just because they were born. The USA's most useless populations are Useless Eaters in places with free housing, welfare fraud, anchor babies etc. We all know about these places. We've been warned they are the absolute bottom. The Middle Class, who pays for those people, would like to see them shut down, the funds ended, and the welfare moms put to work. No more drug whores getting social security and AFDC. At some point, we won't be able to support those fetid ranks. At some point, probably sooner, neither will Britain. I wonder if the riots will come, and if they'll be significant or turn into a civil war. Britain has had MANY of those over the centuries. There's a lot of potential jobs even a reformed crack whore could do and contribute to society in the USA.
When the money is no good, China won't be able to sell us stuff. We've gotta make it ourselves. That's a huge surge of manufacturing jobs, simple repetitive labor. It won't pay well, but minimum wage could be raised to become a living wage and that is better than nothing. Since the USA has already destroyed its manufacturing, to the point of dismantling its pre-WW2 factories for the sake of China, we now have the option of retooling in a very modern way, which is much more realistic and less fussy. So does the EU, if they remember they can. That retooling is a lot more flexible, mixing CNC and rapid prototyping and the simple repetition of people moving parts from one stage to another, doing the stuff that's complicated and expensive for machines but easy for us. This puts a burden on teams that are good at showing up and moving product and motivation to actually treat them well so they keep showing up. The best way is forming temp agencies of capable assembly line workers who can adapt and learn a different task every few months when the product changes to something else in demand, in return getting decent pay and medical benefits so they're motivated to do their part. Unions were supposed to be like that but they suffer the lowest common worker rule, that of laziness becoming standard because unions are all about the seniority. Watch "On The Waterfront" for a reminder. Temp agencies get around this problem and it bootstraps with minimum financing.
Ironically, the factory managers in China who manage to put out products that exactly meet contracted requirements might find themselves valued consultants here if they emigrate and get involved with forming USA/EU versions of Chinese factories, just with actual human rights. Or perhaps with help from translators can write books or teach modern manufacturing tricks which China has clearly learned to go around all the BS that's destroyed domestic manufacturing: meeting minutes, catering, SOPs, all the BS that doesn't work and destroys employee morale. American managers are too obsessed with legal messes than actually getting the product made and out the door. That has to change.
Japan is stuck because they can't get banks to make small business loans. The loan officers just say no, always. That has killed Japan, quite literally. In a racist place like Japan, deeply uncomfortable with foreigners and heavily inbred (you can marry a first cousin there and its not even worthy of comment), the birth rate has dropped so low that the average age of a Japanese citizen is something like 55. That is a frightening demographic, that banking has essentially killed reproduction. There is no more serious FU message to your society than refusing to reproduce. I would like the EU and USA to avoid that road, though we don't have power over banksters and they're likely to be risk avoidant after losing their shirts in the wholesale default of the EU nations. Regulation might help, but Japan is heavily regulated so the "Loan Request Denied" answer is pretty much assured in nearly all cases.
I don't see the EU getting that bad, even with the collapse of the Euro and a return to sovereign currencies with a temporary end to international trade while the exchange rates settle down. You can't blame them. Brazil ended international trade for 20+ years when they defaulted. It was a BIG DEAL, at the time. If everyone is defaulting nations will be more forgiving. It is hard to throw stones in a glass house, right? After all, the worst offenders will be the banksters and who feels sorry for rich men? I certainly don't. When they die, their heirs will divide up the loot on their remote mansions, the lawyers will waste years arguing about debts until the fees run out, and nobody outside the squabble cares.
The EU was an experiment to see if they could get free-er trade with a single currency and gain the advantages that the USA got by doing so 250 years ago. They forgot that Americans don't sneer at things from various states not being good enough because we all speak the same language and watch the same TV shows so we have the same cultural subtext for comparison. Or at least we did. That seems to have fragmented with the Internet and the dumbing down of TV programming, but that's a whole different discussion. As long as we have free travel and one language you can relocate to a place that suits you, and stay in touch with people like you if you can't. It mostly works. And cool businesses become reality after discussion in a few pages of text on a blog or BBS. The Internet does change business by making information and advice free so you can skip a lot of mistakes and get more effective with your efforts. It is no longer about shopfronts but putting ideas into practice and bootstrapping. Word of mouth and blog posts are often better advertising than any old-fashioned firm that can't get beyond print media, radio, and TV. The Internet makes those largely irrelevant. I think Maker Faires are the way forward in this regard. From conceptual idea to hobbyist prototype to reproduction methods in a factory, the simpler and cheaper the better. This may be enough to fund the small family unit and keep us from following Japan's footsteps into oblivion, no matter how cheerful their anime are.
Post EU is like Recession Japan|
Japan has been in a permanent recession since 1989, when their housing bubble burst and it wrecked their capital (money). It was a disaster which is still going on today, more than 20 years later. At present, japan has so much debt on its already issued bonds that the interest alone is more than their Gross Domestic Product. The only reason there isn't collapse is the bonds are 95% owned by the Japanese themselves, so its the Elephant In The Parlor. Nobody talks about it but everyone knows it's there. The rest of the world is going to follow the same collapse model.
The collapse of the EU is coming. It is so leveraged that Greece leaving is actually enough to wreck the whole thing. The runs on banks are still going on, in their second week. Spain and Italy are having huge bank runs. Eventually that will hit Britain, which will actually get more notice in regular news. And that feeds down to everywhere, really. Britain is held hostage by its huge population of Useless Eaters. People who will never have a job, and just demand free food, free housing, free cable TV, free cellphones, or they'll riot. And Britain gives them everything they want to prevent that. Their kids are called "Hoodies" because they wear hooded sweatshirts and commit violent crimes anonymously, recorded on video without proper identification. The end product is, don't go to Britain. Its a dangerous and violent place, like Oakland, with white people.
I can't help but wonder what episodes of Top Gear will be like after the banking crash and the end of cheap imported oil. We're already looking at a serious return of bicycling as a primary transportation system. All these fancy electric cars won't scale up. People will try, but they don't. We'll end up pedalling. Even scooters don't really work. It still comes down to bicycles. Enjoy that. Is the world a better place if I give up genetic engineering and sell donuts? I guess it doesn't matter.
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