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Johnson: Elites Eying the Exits Signals America’s Crisis

Johnson: Elites Eying the Exits Signals America’s Crisis


Institute President Rob Johnson interviewed by the New Yorker on hedge-fund managers and the market for air strips in New Zealand

Interviewed as part of an extraordinary New Yorker investigation into growing anxiety among America’s corporate elite over the potential for anarchic social collapse, Institute President Robert Johnson saw his peers’ talk of bolt-holes in New Zealand as reflecting a deeper crisis.

Johnson told writer Evan Osnos of the mounting anxiety he had encountered among hedge-fund managers and other wealthy Americans he knew. “More and more were saying, ‘You’ve got to have a private plane,” Johnson said. “You have to assure that the pilot’s family will be taken care of, too. They have to be on the plane.’ ”

Osnos writes: “By January, 2015, Johnson was sounding the alarm: the tensions produced by acute income inequality were becoming so pronounced that some of the world’s wealthiest people were taking steps to protect themselves. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Johnson told the audience, ‘I know hedge-fund managers all over the world who are buying airstrips and farms in places like New Zealand because they think they need a getaway.’ ”

Johnson bemoaned the lack of a “spirit of stewardship” and openness to more aggressively redistributive tax policy among the wealthy.

“Twenty-five hedge-fund managers make more money than all of the kindergarten teachers in America combined,” he told the New Yorker. “Being one of those twenty-five doesn’t feel good. I think they’ve developed a heightened sensitivity.”

If anything, Osnos wrote, inequality is widening, noting recent statistics from the National Bureau of Economic Research that showed that while incomes for the top 1 percent of Americans have nearly tripled, half of the population was earning at the same level they did in 1980, comparing America’s wealth gap to that seen in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

This Is How the Status Quo Unravels: As the Pie Shrinks, Everybody Demands Their Piece Should Get Bigger

This Is How the Status Quo Unravels: As the Pie Shrinks, Everybody Demands Their Piece Should Get Bigger

Fragmentation, discord, discontent, class war: this is the inevitable result of a shrinking pie.

The politics of the past 70 years was all about horsetrading who got what share of the growing pie: the “pie” being cheap energy, government revenues and consumption, sales and profits.

Horsetrading over a growing pie is basically fun. There’s always a little increase left for the losers, so there is a reason for everyone to cooperate in a broad political consensus.

Horsetrading over a shrinking pie is not fun. Everybody is shrilly demanding their piece of the pie should either grow or be left untouched; any cuts must come out of someone else’s slice.

Everyone turns on their most compelling emotion-based defense: “we wuz promised” is a reliable standard, as is “we need more money to defend the nation from the rising threat of XYZ.” “Help those in need” plays the heartstrings effectively–as long as the “help” comes out of somebody else’s pocket.

Everyone sharpens their knives, the better to carve a slice off somebody else’s slice of the pie. A passive-aggressive free-for-all ensues as everyone reacts with aggrieved defensiveness to any attempt to diminish their slice, even as they launch shrill attacks on everyone else’s defense.

As the pie shrinks, the motivation to join a broad consensus vanishes like mist in Death Valley. Any cooperation is merely a brief tactical move designed to carve a big chunk off another player’s slice. Once that’s accomplished, the alliance quickly splinters as the survivors battle over the meager spoils.

Any victory is temporary, as a new alliance will arise to decimate the previous winner. Winners in the zero-sum game of divvying up a shrinking pie merely set themselves up as the juicy target for the next ferocious attack by the resentful losers.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Made For Each Other

Don’t be fooled by the idiotic exertions of the Red team and the Blue team. They’re just playing a game of “Capture the Flag” on the deck of the Titanic. The ship is the techno-industrial economy. It’s going down because it has taken on too much water (debt), and the bilge pump (the oil industry) is losing its mojo.

Neither faction understands what is happening, though they each have an elaborate delusional narrative to spin in the absence of any credible plan for adapting the life of our nation to the precipitating realities. The Blues and Reds are mirrors of each other’s illusions, and rage follows when illusions die, so watch out. Both factions are ready to blow up the country before they come to terms with what is coming down.

What’s coming down is the fruit of the gross mismanagement of our society since it became clear in the 1970s that we couldn’t keep living the way we do indefinitely — that is, in a 24/7 blue-light-special demolition derby. It’s amazing what you can accomplish with accounting fraud, but in the end it is an affront to reality, and reality has a way of dealing with punks like us. Reality has a magic trick of its own: it can make the mirage of false prosperity evaporate.

That’s exactly what’s going to happen and it will happen because finance is the least grounded, most abstract, of the many systems we depend on. It runs on the sheer faith that parties can trust each other to meet obligations. When that conceit crumbles, and banks can’t trust other banks, credit relations seize up, money vanishes, and stuff stops working. You can’t get any cash out of the ATM. The trucker with a load of avocados won’t make delivery to the supermarket because he knows he won’t be paid.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Jim Rogers: “We’re About To Have The Worst Economic Problems Of A Lifetime, A Lot Of People Will Disappear”

Jim Rogers: “We’re About To Have The Worst Economic Problems Of A Lifetime, A Lot Of People Will Disappear”

“Get prepared,” warns billionaire commodity guru Jim Rogers, “because we’re going to have the worst economic problems in your lifetime and a lot of people are going to disappear.” In this wide-ranging interview with MacroVoices’ Erik Townsend, the investing legend discusses everything from whether Russia is being scapegoated (“yes, ask Victoria Nuland”), the war against cash (“governments love it… they want to control everything”), to his views on gold and the demise of freedom.

Full podcast below:

Key Excerpts…

Are Russians the bad guys?

Well I do know that during the last administration, Mr. Obama’s administration as you probably remember we started, we tried to pull of an illegal coup in Ukraine, we got caught at it, what’s her name, Victoria Nuland, whatever the woman’ name the State Department they have there several pieces of evidence where we know she tried to instigate an illegal coup then of course the Russians outsmarted us and so the State Department started blaming it on the Russians and the hype against the Russians has gotten bigger and bigger ever since after we started– or tried to start, tried to instigate the illegal coup Crimea and Ukraine.

So yes we are certainly at fault to some extent and obviously you then, when you’re caught you’ve got to keep the rhetoric up and keep throwing more and more accusations and so the State Department has done that.

I know that before the illegal coup Obama, Bush everybody was trying to be friends with the Russians rightly so, cold war had ended long ago, the Russians wanted to be friends with America. We didn’t need NATO anymore.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Without Rule of Law: How to Survive a Real Life Purge Like the One in Brazil

Without Rule of Law: How to Survive a Real Life Purge Like the One in Brazil

In southeastern Brazil, a real-life version of the movie The Purge is going on.

Police officers in the state of Espirito Santo went on strike Friday. Their families have barricaded the exits of eleven law enforcement barracks, preventing any officers from performing their jobs.

And the state has descended into a kind of anarchy usually reserved for post-apocalyptic movies.

The Brazilian website Globo.com reported on the dire situation.

Murders have increased by a thousand percent, with 62 people being killed over the course of three days.  While that sounds like a normal weekend in Chicago here, the state only had four murders in the entire month of January. There are so many dead that they’ve exceeded the capacity of the morgue to hold them all, and corpses are lying on the ground.

Stores have been vandalized and looted, some of them utterly destroyed. Many merchants have boarded up their windows and will remain closed for the duration of the crisis.

Banks, schools, parks, public hospitals, and public transit have all closed.

Gangs have taken over the cities, and the military has been dispatched to regain order.

This has been pretty much blacked out by the media but I was able to find one video showing what it really looks like down there.

Without Rule of Law

This is a classic example of what can happen when society is Without Rule of Law (WROL), a common term that preppers use to describe a complete breakdown of society and the rules that maintain order. (Here is the best book you can buy for surviving this type of scenario.)

Now, look at the situation here in American cities right now. Thankfully, we haven’t devolved to this point yet, but the protests about the Trump administration just keep escalating.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

Why is Detroit falling apart so fast?

Why is Detroit falling apart so fast?

Detroit homes falling apart goobingUsing Google street view history, www.goobingdetroit.com records the decay of homes in Detroit. Above shows homes September 2009, September 2011, and September 2013

I’ve been fascinated with the decline of Detroit since a guy in my dormitory told me back in 1972 that he’d moved into an abandoned mansion because it was free.  Several weeks later a gang broke in. He barricaded his bedroom door with furniture and jumped out the window, never to return. After the financial crash, the photos of Yves Marchand and Romaine Meffre  and goobingdetroit rekindled my interest in Detroit.

So why do houses fall apart?  The best answer can be found in Alan Weisman’s book “The world without us”, but here’s the short answer.  According to HowStuffWorks:

  • “The amount of time necessary for your home to fall to pieces depends on several factors. The quality of your home’s construction, the type of climate you live in, the shape your house is in and the materials your house is made of all contribute to the amount of time it would take for your home to deteriorate.”
  • Water wreaks the worst destruction. In addition to your roof, the caulk around windows will decay and disintegrate, letting water in within 25 years of last application, rotting the wall around the window. From other sites, here’s how: Roofs get leaks when trees add hundreds of pounds of leaves and seeds that clog the drains after rain or heavy snow that weights 8 lbs/gallon, causing leaks which leach glue and materials from the plywood, tearing off the membrane of roof materials. About 1.5 years later, the roof falls in, letting water and snow inside.  Broken windows also allow moisture, mold, and so on. Mold starts to grow and dry rots walls. Tree seeds take root.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Which Assets Are Most Likely to Survive the Inevitable “System Re-Set”?

Which Assets Are Most Likely to Survive the Inevitable “System Re-Set”? 

Your skills, knowledge and social capital will emerge unscathed on the other side of the re-set wormhole. Your financial assets held in centrally controlled institutions will not.

Longtime correspondent C.A. recently asked a question every American household should be asking: which assets are most likely to survive the “system re-set” that is now inevitable? It’s a question of great import because not all assets are equal in terms of survivability in crisis, when the rules change without advance notice.

If you doubt the inevitability of a system implosion/re-set, please read Is America In A Bubble (And Can It Ever Return To “Normal”)? This brief essay presents charts that reveal a sobering economic reality: America is now dependent on multiple asset bubbles never popping–something history suggests is not possible.

It isn’t just a financial re-set that’s inevitable–it’s a political and social re-set as well. For more on why this is so, please consult my short book Why Our Status Quo Failed and Is Beyond Reform.

The charts below describe the key dynamics driving a system re-set. Earned income (wages) as a share of GDP has been falling for decades: this means labor is receiving a diminishing share of economic growth. Since costs and debt continue rising while incomes are declining or stagnating, this asymmetry eventually leads to insolvency.

The “fix” for insolvency has been higher debt and debt-based spending–in essence, borrowing from future income to fund more consumption today. But each unit of new debt is generating less economic activity/growth. This is called diminishing returns: eventually the costs of servicing the additional debt exceed the increasingly trivial gains.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How Does Your Local Food Grow?

HOW DOES YOUR LOCAL FOOD GROW?

CAN WE BUILD A LOCAL FOOD WEB INSTEAD OF A GLOBAL AGRI-CHAIN?

Wayne Roberts looks at all the ways local food webs are already growing, ready to become the Next Big Thing in creative disruption.

Several weeks ago, I went to and wrote about an exciting international conference in Montpelier, France, on sustainable “agrichains” — which is geekspeak for food supply chains that are socially, economically and environmentally responsible.

I now want to propose the idea of going beyond the one-way and linear supply chain thinking of agribusiness, and make the case instead for civic food webs — based on partnerships among local governments, local public and community institutions (universities and co-ops, for example), social movements, citizen groups (such as the marvelous Equiterre of Montreal), community-oriented businesses, neighborhood groups, and engaged individuals and families.

Eaters of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your food chains!!

First, let me outline how I think we got to where we are now.

MORE THAN ONE WAY TO FILL A VACUUM

Nature abhors a vacuum, but global corporations seize upon them.

There was a food infrastructure vacuum in the cities of the 1800s and 1900s. It arose most obviously in Europe as a result of the lack of organic or community-based connections between city food consumers seeking to buy foods from around the world and food producers seeking to sell to them. Technologies, such as refrigerator ships, trains and trucks, were available to move food huge distances. As well, technologies, such a sewers and electrical utilities, were available to make large cities livable and attractive. But in the absence of community-based or government-based mechanisms to sponsor the necessary logistics, what were then called multinational corporations took over this “middleman” infrastructure function of bring food producers and consumers together.

food chains stop & start, but the life cycle doesn’t

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Permaculture Kitchen Garden

Herb garten

PERMACULTURE KITCHEN GARDEN

Who doesn’t love cooking with fresh herbs? I love cooking with fresh ingredients. Using fresh cut culinary herbs and edible flowers is a really special thing. All growers know that from the time the plant is harvested you start losing flavor and nutrients. It’s important to get fresh-cut herbs if you want the most amazing flavor for you and your family.
Permaculture is such a heartwarming way to grow. You work with nature and then nature helps sustain you. We start at the soil and end eating these great herbs.

I start with these 6 bullet points that keep you on the right track.

• Placement- Permaculture makes things easy and efficient when it’s in an herb garden near the kitchen. The easier it is to collect the herbs, the more often you’ll use them. If you have a kitchen window, put the herb garden there. If you don’t have a kitchen window, as long as it’s easily accessible while you’re cooking, you’ll likely use the fresh produce.

• Soil- Soil is the lifeline that connects your food to you. Love your soil and it will love you back. You want to have the best mulch you can find. If you don’t have good fluffy soil, there are a few things you can do. My first suggestion is a mini hügelkultur. Simply mark out the area you will need for the plants you want to grow. Dig out a 2-3-foot-deep trench, and fill it with tree limbs and sections of cut up logs. Fill the hole back in with the soil, cover with thick mulch, and then plant your herbs. It’s that simple. By the end of summer you will have a jungle of herbs.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

After the harvest – protecting food from rats, mold, insects, fire, and bacteria

After the harvest – protecting food from rats, mold, insects, fire, and bacteria

Without a massive redistribution of people back to the land, even that won’t be enough, since 80% of the food will be stored where just 20% of the population lives — 80% of Americans live within 200 miles of the coasts.   

At some point of energy decline, there won’t be enough oil to distribute crops by rail, truck, or barge, and 80% of communities are completely dependent on trucks, with no rail or water ports..  Yet as climate change kicks in and successful harvests grow rarer and produce less food, even more storage will be needed at a much smaller scale across the nation.  It would help future generations if we built new storage silos now.

Alice Friedemann   www.energyskeptic.com  author of “When Trucks Stop Running: Energy and the Future of Transportation”, 2015, Springer and “Crunch! Whole Grain Artisan Chips and Crackers”. Podcasts: Practical PreppingKunstlerCast 253KunstlerCast278Peak Prosperity , XX2 report ]

Peter Golob, et. al. 2002. Crop Post-Harvest: Science and Technology. Volume 1 Principles and Practice. Volume 2 Durables. Volume 3 Perishables.  Blackwell Science.

Introduction

This is a book review of Golob’s book.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

James Howard Kunstler: The World’s Greatest Misallocation Of Resources

James Howard Kunstler: The World’s Greatest Misallocation Of Resources

And why we appear poised to repeat it 
James Howard Kunstler returns to the podcast this week, observing that despite the baton being handed to a new American president, the massive predicaments we face as a society remain the same. And it seems the incoming administration is just as in denial of them as the old.

Kunstler adds fresh critique to his now decades-old warning that we are sleepwalking our way deep into the Long Emergency. The longer we delude ourselves and waste our energies in pursuit of reviving the failed “endless growth” model, the farther our journey back to a sustainable way of living will be when our current system collapses:

I don’t think there is any sense that they really know where we’re headed, what our destination is, and what the imperatives are and what the future is actually telling us that we need to do. Don’t forget that the so-called psychology of previous investment is a very powerful force in American life and it’s prompting us to do everything we can to maintain the investments we’ve already made. Those investments are the ones I have already mentioned: the freeways, the suburban housing developments, the strip malls.

A lot of the hope pinned on Trump is based on the idea that he’s assembling this team of mega-competent capitalist movers and shakers who know how to make deals — the Wilbur Rosses and Rex Tillersons of the world — and that they are going to conjure up a tremendous surge of economic activity that will be majorly fruitful going forward in the future and produce a tremendous amount of new wealth. Of course the stock market has been pricing that in.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Prepping Lives Of The Rich & Famous: “Far Away From All The Issues Of The World”

Prepping Lives Of The Rich & Famous: “Far Away From All The Issues Of The World”

It used to be that the term “doomsday prepper” evoked a certain visual of an ultra-conservative, bearded woodsman with slightly less than stellar hygiene practices living in the middle of no where with an arsenal of weaponry and a sufficient hoard of dried and canned food to live for years.  But recently that all seems to be changing.  And whether the election of Trump was the catalyst that drove the world’s rich to start prepping or simply allowed them to open up about being preppers all along, one thing is certain, “prepping” is growing in popularity among America’s billionaires.

In the latest issue of The New Yorker, Evan Osnos takes a look at some of the super-rich that are taking extreme measures to prepare for the apocalypse.  One such wealthy prepper is Silicon Valley’s Reddit CEO, Steve Huffman, who admits that he went so far as to get corrective eye surgery, not for convenience or appearance, but bacause “If the world ends…getting contacts or glasses is going to be a huge pain in the ass…without them, I’m fucked.”

Steve Huffman, the thirty-three-year-old co-founder and C.E.O. of Reddit, which is valued at six hundred million dollars, was nearsighted until November, 2015, when he arranged to have laser eye surgery. He underwent the procedure not for the sake of convenience or appearance but, rather, for a reason he doesn’t usually talk much about: he hopes that it will improve his odds of surviving a disaster, whether natural or man-made. “If the world ends—and not even if the world ends, but if we have trouble—getting contacts or glasses is going to be a huge pain in the ass,” he told me recently. “Without them, I’m fucked.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

To confront power, one must first name it: Neoliberalism and the sustainability crisis

To confront power, one must first name it: Neoliberalism and the sustainability crisis

Recently, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker ordered references to human-caused climate change be deleted from the state Deparment of Natural Resources website. Scientific findings concerning the natural world have become an embarrassment for the neoliberal world view. The answer in this case seems to be to delete them.

But what is the neoliberal world view and why is it important to understand? Paraphrasing theologian Walter Wink British writer George Monbiot explains that in order to confront power, one must first name it. The power Monbiot has in mind is the power of those enacting the neoliberal agenda. He explained in a talk last year that this ideology is embraced by leaders of both the political right and left throughout much of the world.

More disturbing is that few people are aware of this fact, and fewer still can define what neoliberalism is. It’s important to understand that this ideology animates much of the governing class on the planet. It’s important because this ideology almost completely opposes doing anything serious about climate change or any of the other environmental and social ills which afflict us.

First, neoliberalism should not be confused with modern-day liberalism which is generally associated with tolerant social policies and governmental intervention in and regulation of the economy. To the contrary, neoliberalism harkens back to 19th century classical liberalism. Neoliberals champion a return to laissez-faire economics by means of the privatization of public services and property, fiscal austerity, deregulation and, of course, free trade.

Neoliberalism was first enunciated in the late 1930s as a response to fascism and communism. Only later did neoliberal ideas find their full expression in the presidency of Ronald Reagan and the government of Britain’s Margaret Thatcher. For obvious reasons neoliberal ideas have been championed and lavishly supported by wealthy corporate interests.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Fake News as Official Policy

In the first part of this review, we looked at the climate and energy disruptions that have already begun in the Middle East, as well as the disruptions which we can expect in the next 20 years under a “business as usual” scenario. In this installment we’ll take a closer look at “the perpetual transmission of false and inaccurate knowledge on the origins and dynamics of global crises”.

While a clear understanding of the real roots of economies is a precondition for a coherent response to global crises, Ahmed says this understanding is woefully lacking in mainstream media and mainstream politics.

The Global Media-Industrial Complex, representing the fragmented self-consciousness of human civilization, has served simply to allow the most powerful vested interests within the prevailing order to perpetuate themselves and their interests ….” (Failing States, Collapsing Systems, page 48)

Other than alluding to powerful self-serving interests in fossil fuels and agribusiness industries, Ahmed doesn’t go into the “how’s” and “why’s” of their influence in media and government.

In the case of misinformation about the connection between fossil fuels and climate change, much of the story is widely known. Many writers have documented the history of financial contributions from fossil fuel interests to groups which contradict the consensus of climate scientists. To take just one example, Inside Climate News revealed that Exxon’s own scientists were keenly aware of the dangers of climate change decades ago, but the corporation’s response was a long campaign of disinformation.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

De-[Constructing] Growth: Decoupling Profits from Unsustainable Production*

Degrowth has been described as a “movement” rather than an ideology1, and as such it presents several variations. For some of its proponents, degrowth is a proxy for sustainable consumption, and to a lesser extent production2. A second group of degrowth advocates are those for whom an emerging discussion of “sufficiency” as a societal norm is taking shape, as a result of activism3. Finally, a third group of advocates views anti-capitalism as central to the degrowth agenda. They see growth as the principal influence and root cause of sustainability challenges.
Most importantly, amidst these diverging perceptions within the degrowth movement, a continual dissatisfaction with the term degrowth has been voiced, acknowledging its unfortunate connotations and difficulty in influencing mainstream policy discussions.

While not offering a critique of the degrowth discourse, I throw some light on the debate by offering a deeper and more useful conceptualization that avoids the negative connotations of, and resistance to, “degrowth”4. Conceptually, rather than simply describing the degrowth discourse by the descriptor “degrowth”, I recommend a more nuanced approach that gets rid of the jargon and negative aspects of the evolving concept of degrowth and makes a distinction between growth in production and growth in private-sector profit. My proposed formulation, De-[Constructing] Growth, achieves this by decoupling profit from unsustainable consumption and production.

Meanings and implications of growth

According to this formulation, growth widely understood has different meanings and implications:

  • Aggregate growth in products and services that consume energy and materials;
  • Growth in profits (tied to subsidies, tax treatment of investment, profit, and the provision of producer and consumer credit, all of which encourage consumption);
  • Growth in trade (avoiding internalizing the externalities by globalizing commerce);
  • Growth in disparity in consumption, wealth, and income; and
  • Growth in under- and un-employment.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai III: Cataclysm
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