"As an historian by training, I can think of no cartelization of any industry that has been more successfully concealed by academia. This is by far the largest, richest, and most successful cartel in American history. Yet there is almost no criticism of the system and its enforcement tool, the Federal Reserve System. Whatever mild technical quibbles the academic community has had with the FED, the central issue of central banking is never even mentioned, let alone refuted. What is the central issue? That all central banking is a government-licensed enforcement arrangement of a well-organized, well-funded cartel. As with all cartels, it operates at the expense of competitors who would otherwise offer better opportunities to the public." [more]
Nathan's Blog has another good post here: [more]
My Comment: In the big game of Chess being played, the announcement of "Check" could be heard from across the Pacific. Read, heed and possibly make a Plan B. [more]
Vox Day's post: Madness [more]
Financial Crisis Called Off [more]
"Never before have so many government dollars been thrown at the economy to prevent a depression. When added together, the combined financial, monetary and fiscal stimuli in the US are more than the cost of the two World Wars and “The New Deal” combined." - Eric Sprott [more]
Paul Farrel of Market Watch, breaks ranks with the Legacy Media and puts out some real reporting. [more]
The First Die-off
By James Howard Kunstler
on August 16, 2009
Sunday, I got a taste of the oldest established permanent traffic fiasco in America known as Escape From Cape Cod. This is not a regular thing for me. I have no family there and never did. Friends invited us out to an idyllic hidden corner of the place far from the clam bars filled with shrieking babies and other more typical attractions. We arrived in good order at mid-week and had a fine time. Once installed, we didn't get in a car for four days.
Our strategy was to leave for home in upstate New York at 11 o'clock Sunday morning -- a bright, hot day, as chance would have it -- thinking that the masses would elect to remain a few more hours at Vacation Central pointlessly towing the little ones around in circles on plastic inflatables behind motorboats before returning to the real world with all its foreclosure notices, canceled credit cards, re-po men hiding in the foundation plantings, and other woes of the day. The masses must be more massive these days than I ever imagined. Apparently, you can fill Massachusetts Bay from end-to-end with watercraft and still have enough vacationers left to completely overwhelm the main highway off-Cape, Route 6, where we crawled in first gear all the way from Yarmouth to the Sagamore Bridge.
One couldn't help thinking, of course, how nice it would be if there was a choo-choo train that ran from Boston down the length of the Cape, but alas there is no more. If any public official had entertained vagrant thoughts of re-starting it in recent decades, the idea was apparently dismissed as a species of heartburn. Clam rolls, in excess, will do that to you. Then again, the rail service from Boston to Albany no longer exists, amazing as it seems, so the whole thought exercise was a waste of time. But it explains why we drove there in the first place.
Anyway, we broke loose from traffic for a while on the mainland, but the little tie-up on Route 6 proved a mere hors d'oeuvre to the main course where I-495 joined up with the Mass Pike (I-90), and we ramped onto the peristaltic nightmare of a giant throbbing automotive fistula that pulsed 27 miles to I-84 west of Worcester, which drains the entire New England vacation-shed down to the great Moloch of New York City and its teeming outlands. We, fortunately, were well-fueled-up and air cooled in my Toyota Tacoma pickup. But one couldn't help imagining the horrors of those unlucky others who found themselves creeping on empty, in 91-degree heat, riding the clutch the whole way, with bladders expanded to the size of crenshaw melons.
Once we busted through that monumental clusterf-ck, it was a straight run home -- except for a strange interlude at a Mass Pike rest stop, where people who looked like Thanksgiving Day parade balloons clutched armfuls of snack bags in their never-ending quest for fulfillment. I began to think of them -- prompted, I'm sure, by some malicious meme on the Web -- as "the yeast people," enormous one-celled creatures multiplying at an astronomical rate, soon to engulf the planet in a tragic reeking foam of yeast, and dooming the Earth to a fate worse than climate change....
All this frightful hyperbole is really mere précis to my real point here, for those of you already acquainted with some of the classic "doomer" themes, which is that the first "die-off" of The Long Emergency will not be one of human beings but of our beloved automobiles. Personally, I think the car die-off will come on with stunning rapidity as a combination of factors merge to make these colossal traffic jams staples of nostalgia in decades to come. As usual, the public is clueless about this, gulled by a cretinous news media into the earnest expectation of endless techno-miracles.
The funniest of these lately are the glad tidings from ("The New" ) General Motors. They came out last week with a laughable hype-fest for their proposed electric car, the "Volt," scheduled to arrive in the showrooms around 2011 (about the same time that all the mortgage-backed-securities sitting in Wall Street's vaults melt into a monumental puddle of radioactive goo). We're told the Volt will get the equivalent of over 200 miles-per-gallon, at less than 25 cents a charge from the plug on your garage wall, blah blah. They estimate that it'll cost about $40,000. Do we detect a little problem right there? Like, the whole adult US population is going to rush out and buy new cars priced the same as today's Mercedes Benz? Good luck with that, GM, especially when money for car loans will be about as easy to get as a royal flush in online poker. And good luck with changing out the battery for ten grand a couple of years down the road, so to speak. And good luck also with your expectation that the roads and bridges will remain drivable in the years ahead, as every municipality, and county, and state slides into bankruptcy and the paving machines sit rusting in the DOT marshaling yards.
What is wrong with our brains? Are they turning to yeast?
And even if it were possible to continue torturing ourselves in three-hour traffic jams, is that something we would want to do?
I'm serenely confident that we're in the twilight of Happy Motoring now. Without debt service there is no auto industry, and we're toast where debt service is concerned. All we can do now is give cars away, or give US citizens free money to buy them -- which we are obviously already doing with "Cash for Clunkers" -- which is additionally hilarious in the same nation that is deeply paranoid about the government giving anybody free health care. What a nation of morons we have become.
Then, of course, there is the political problem that nobody is thinking about, namely, what happens when a substantial portion of the public is permanently foreclosed from motoring because they've lost jobs and incomes and positions and vocations that they will never get back -- ? Do you think they'll just hike down the breakdown lanes with colorful bundles on their heads like the impoverished folk in other lands? Or will they put all those home arsenals to work? I can't wait to find out. [more]
George Washington Blogspot makes the case: Worse Than Herbert Hoover [more]
MY COMMENT: I have discussed the Argentina Collapse before. The US appears to be following a very similar flight path. (To see former post Google: abitare Lessons from Argentina's Economic Collapse Nov 2, 2008. Also there is an outstanding video series on Google about the Argentina Collapse) [more]
A great video and a Real national hero William Black posted at goldmansach666.com website. [more]
Kunstler's The Fog of Numbers [more]
The American people are waking up...being an inept, corrupt politician might replace Timber cutter as worlds most dangerous job.
Crowd Explodes When Arlen Specter Urges That We "Do This Fast" [more]
Hunky DoryBy James Howard Kunstler
on August 3, 2009 7:36 AM
Whenever the herd mentality lines up along a compass point leading to "permanent prosperity," or a yellow brick road lined with green shoots, or something like that, I tend to see the edge of a cliff up ahead. We are now completely in the grips of the deadly diminishing returns of information technology. The more information comes to us about How Things Are, especially from TV, the more confused or wrong the conventional view gets it.
A broad consensus has formed in the news media and among government mouthpieces and even some "bearish" investors on the street that "the worst is behind us" in this tortured economy. This view is completely crazy. It will only lead to massive disappointment a few weeks or months from now, and that disappointment might easily transmute to political trouble. One even might call the situation tragic, except a closer look at the sordid spectacle of what American culture has become -- a non-stop circus of the seven deadly sins -- suggests that we deserve to be punished by history.
The reason behind this mass delusion is not hard to find: it's based on wishing, especially the wish to retain all the comforts, conveniences, luxuries, and leisure that had become normal in American life. These are now ebbing away in big gobs for most of the population -- while a tiny fraction of the well-connected pile on ever larger heaps of swag, enjoying ever more privilege. Those in the broad bottom 95 percent were content as long as there was a chance that they, too, could become members of the top 5 percent -- by dint of car-dealing, or house-building, or mortgage-selling, or some other venture enabled by easy credit and a smile. Those days and those ways are now gone. The bottom 95 percent are now left with de-laminating houses they can't make payments on, no prospects for gainful work, re-po men hiding in the bushes to snatch the PT Cruiser, cut-off cable service, Kraft mac-and-cheese (if they're lucky), and Larry Summers telling them their troubles are over. (If I were Larry, I'd start thinking about a move to some place like the Canary Islands.)
Too many disastrous things are lined up in the months ahead to insure that we're entering a new phase of history: The Long Emergency.
Government at every level is worse than broke.
Our currency, the US dollar, is hemorrhaging legitimacy.
Inability to service old debt at all levels or incur new debt.
Bad (toxic) debt lurking off balance sheets everywhere.
The housing bubble fiasco is far from over.
Commercial real estate fiasco just getting started.
Unemployment rising implacably.
So-called "consumers" unable to consume consumables.
Crucial energy import supply lines fragile.
Food supply subject to energy problems and climate abnormalities.
A world full of other societies who would enjoy watching us fail and suffer.
When The Long Emergency was published in 2005, I said then that the greatest danger this society faced would be its inclination to gear up a campaign to sustain the unsustainable at all costs -- rather than face the need to make new arrangements for daily life. That appears to be exactly what has happened, and it didn't happen under the rule of some backward-facing, right-wing, Jesus-haunted crypto-fascist, but rather a "progressive" party led by a dynamically affable young man unburdened by deep cultural allegiance to Wall Street. Barack Obama has been sucked in and suckered. "Change you can believe in" has morphed into "a status quo you will bend heaven and earth to hold onto."
Whatever else you might think or feel about Mr. Obama's performance so far, this strategy on the broader question of where we go as a nation pulses with tragedy. What's remarkable to me, to go a step further, is the absence of comprehensive vision -- not just in the president, but in all the supposedly able and intelligent people around him, and even those leaders not in government but in business and education and science and the professions.
History is clearly presenting us with a new set of mandates: get local, get finer, downscale, and get going on it right away. Prepare for it now or nature will whack you upside the head with it not too long from now. Attempting to maintain anything on the gigantic scale will turn out to be a losing proposition, whether it is military control of people in Central Asia, or colossal bureaucracies run in the USA, or huge factory farms, or national chain store retail, or hypertrophied state universities, or global energy supply networks.
These imperatives are so outside-the-box of ordinary experience right now, that to drag them into the arena of politics can only evoke blank stares or nervous giggling. But whether we like it or not, these are the things that will really matter in the years ahead -- not whether General Motors can ever make a profit again, or what Target Store's sales figures are next quarter, or whether the latest high-rise condo-and-gambling complex in Las Vegas will be successfully marketed.
Here, in the dog days of summer, it seems to me that the situation in the USA is so fundamentally bad, so unpromising, so booby-trapped for failure, that I wonder if there has ever been a society so badly deluded as ours. We're prisoners of our wishes, living in a strange dream-time, oblivious to the forces gathering at the margins of our vision, lost in a wilderness of our own making.
Anything can happen now. I certainly wouldn't rule out international mischief as we arc around into fall. The air is so full of black swans that the white swan now seems like the exceptional thing. Whatever else happens, it sure will be interesting to see the public's reaction to Wall Street's announcement of Christmas bonuses. The folks at Rockefeller Center better be thinking about getting a fireproof tree.
Kunstler's novel of America's post-oil future, WORLD MADE BY HAND, is now available in paperback. I am at work on the sequel.
John Stossel & 20/20 Take On Health Care Reform - President Obama's Proposed Health Care. Say What? Say What? John Stossel. ABC. Health Care Reform. 20-20
"Any and every American can be arrested by unaccountable authority, held indefinitely without charges and tortured until he or she can no longer stand the abuse and confesses. [more]
Fooldom knew this was coming.... [more]
The "Impossible" Healthcare Solution: Go Back to Cash (July 29, 2009)
The expansion of health insurance and government entitlements created "free money" and thus the explosion of healthcare costs. The solution is simple and "impossible": we all pay cash.
Here's why healthcare (a.k.a. sick-care) costs cannot be reduced; the entire system is based on vast pools of "free money." The corporate-America or union/government employee who goes to the doctor pays a few dollars for a visit and drugs; the "real cost" is of no concern. Ditto the "real costs" charged to Medicare and Medicaid.
The link between the "consumer" of healthcare and the provider has been broken for decades. There is no "free market" in healthcare--there isn't any market at all. We live in a Kafka-esque nightmare system in which "some are more equal than others" and hundreds of thousands of dollars are lavished on worthless tests, procedures and medications for two reasons: [more]