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If We're Going To Borrow Against The Future, Let's Borrow To Invest

The are much better ways to spend the next $1 Trillion
Thursday, April 2, 2015, 11:21 AM

We are at an important juncture as a global society: either we immediately prioritize a new trajectory focused on creating a positive, functional future or -- by continuing the consumptive, extractive, exploitative status quo -- we will default into a nasty nightmare.

What will determine which future path we take is our collective narrative. It's the story we tell ourselves -- who we are, what we value.

The Power Of Narrative

Under the old narrative, the one currently operating and taking us towards disaster, powerful people and interests simply perpetuate a regime of More of the same.

And I do mean ‘More.’  The old narrative rests upon an ideology of endless growth.  It wants and requires more of everything.  More cars sold, more houses built, more jobs created, and more goods and services of every description sold next year than last. 

Everything flows from that want for more. The defenders of the old ideology are therefore defenders of our astonishingly-wide wealth gap, rapid energy depletion, emptying aquifers, disappearing pollinators, ruined soils, and dying oceans.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

A subtext of the old narrative is that humans are destroyers: we wreck natural systems. Put humans somewhere and first the large animals go extinct. Then the waters become polluted. Next, the soils are stripped. 

Less well known, possibly because it shines a bitter light on our common practices, is that humans can be incredible forces of positive change, using their big brains to build natural abundance at rates far faster than nature by itself is able.

Using sustainable agricultural practices, humans can build topsoil at 100x the rate of nature alone.  We can speed up the maturation of forests. Or cleverly plant the right species of vegetation to complement the specific ecosystem needs of our unique local areas to reduce (and reverse even!) the impact and occurrence of desertification. 

All it takes to determine which role we play as a species -- the pillager or the steward -- is the choice we make as a society.

Changing our role is as simple as changing our narrative. And as hard.

So Let’s Do This Right

Imagine for a moment that instead of a trillion dollars being printed and handed to the big banks, that same trillion dollars was spread across a range of investments in our collective futures.

This idea crystalized for me during a recent interview with Richard Duncan wherein he noted that we have had a once-in-a-lifetime (maybe once ever) opportunity to borrow a lot of money at the national level, even to print up enormous amounts of money, without creating meaningful inflation. 

A very rare combination of factors allow this to occur at this moment in history, including excess global manufacturing capacity, global labor markets and increased automation (which prevent wage inflation from taking root), and very low inflation coupled to the lowest borrowing costs in history.

Put all of that together and the OECD countries (US, Japan and Europe, mainly) have a very rare opportunity to borrow, and borrow a LOT, on extremely favorable terms.

In our conversation, he asked, Why wouldn’t we do this, and then spend that money on our highest-potential opportunities?  Not consumption, mind you, like transfer payments and wars and other non-value-creating behaviors, but investments.

Bailed-Out Banks, Or Better Batteries?

For example, we desperately need electricity storage technology to improve. If we’re going to ever transition to renewable, non-fossil energy sources like wind and solar, then we absolutely have to have improved battery storage.

So let’s dedicate $100 billion of that trillion to improving battery technology. Set massive monetary prizes for whomever solves the power density riddle using common materials. Fund research laboratories lavishly. Use PR to elevate and revere the scientists and engineers who make promising breakthroughs, in order to lure our best and brightest minds into this important field.

Spend another $300 billion installing solar thermal panels on every roof top where it makes sense.  Retrofit old buildings and require new ones to install them as part of the building process.  Whether existing hot water heaters use electricity (coal, gas) or oil and gas directly, fossil fuels are being burned to heat water, which is just plain stupid. The sun can heat water for our needs just fine, for free (after a small investment).

Then spend $500 billion upgrading our electricity grid to get it ready for the next hundred years. Make it smart and distributed, and therefore less vulnerable to natural disasters or intentional acts of sabotage.  Get it ready to accept and use the diverse sources that alternative energy will require, so we can let competitive innovation flourish.  Use technology paired with incentive alignments to drive more efficient use of electricity by consumers. Cars with improved batteries will both draw from and put back into the local grids: when the sun shines and the wind blows, electricity will be flowing into the grid; on calm days and dark nights power will be drawn from all our collective storage devices.

Take the last $100 billion from our trillion and put it into permaculture and cutting-edge sustainable farming practices that demonstrably improve our soils and support diverse life while removing the needs for fossil inputs in food production. Models like Farmland LP prove that such farming practices not only work economically, but ecologically.  Everybody wins, humans included. Fund regenerative farming programs, give awards, and let the bright young people working in these fields know that society supports and admires their success and mistakes alike.

The Choice

So that's an alternative way to spend $1 trillion, instead of giving it to the banks as central planners around the world have been doing hand over fist. For perspective, since the 2008 crisis, the world's major central banks have injected over $8 trillion into the financial system by expanding their balance sheets. Given the moribund global economy that's resulted, along with the massive wealth gap and increased systemic instability, perhaps we'd indeed have much more to show for their efforts had a mere $1 trillion been invested in the way just proposed.

The point is, if we're going to use this historic "hall pass" to borrow massive amounts of money, shouldn't we invest that money towards creating a future worth inheriting?

(Yes, there are very good arguments to be made we perhaps shouldn't be feeding the debt glut that's at the root of our global economic problems. But the borrowing and money printing is indeed happening. So as long as it is, shouldn't we be doing wiser things with it than simply enriching the top 1% at the expense of everyone else?)

When the next trillion is borrowed into existence, let's do inspiring and wonderful things with it. Spend money to buy out fishermen so that collapsing ocean fish stocks can recover. Invest in water conservation and recovery projects where needed.  Rebuild our crumbling bridges and deliver the highest speed internet, for free, to every corner of the country.

To do all of this, all we need to do is decide that these are our priorities instead of the sorts of things we currently spend our money on.

The alternative, sadly, is simply more of the same. That path is leading us straight into a nested set of predicaments that will all come crashing down on our collective heads at some point in the future.

So that’s the change in narrative. If we're going to borrow, let's borrow to invest in ourselves and in our future.  Any country that does this will quickly become a shining example that other countries will want to follow, and from whom they will buy the next round of cutting-edge technologies that will actually improve people’s lives and rehabilitate their hopes. And give us the infrastructure we'll need to navigate the twin colliding trends of resource depletion and population growth.

Sadly, the people and institutions in power do not cling to the status quo lightly. Do I expect them to support a radical shift in narrative that leads to very different behavior than we see today? No. No I don't.  But it's worth a shot.

In Part II: What Systemic Breakdown Will Look Like we’ll discuss what will happen if we don’t do things differently by looking at the probable breakdowns in the economy, energy and the environment, as well as how you should prepare for these outcomes. 

Click here to read Part 2 of this report (free executive summary, enrollment required for full access)

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48 Comments

Trun87114's picture
Trun87114
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Why is this not even considered?

Chris, this essay make so much sense it almost makes me want to cry.  I'm a fiscal conservative/less government kind of guy but I could easily get on board with such a plan, particularly when comparing it to the absolute WASTE of trillions that we've seen recently.

My question to everyone here is why is Chris Martenson the only guy saying this?  Where is our so-called leadership?  Unless I missed it I have not seen any one in the Administration, Senate, or Congress putting forth such a practical and sensible idea.  Why not?

T.

pgp's picture
pgp
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Its Obvious Really

Absolutely spot on. Investing in infrastructure by way of repair and future proofing is the answer. Seems obvious, even a US senator could understand it.

We would have this already if we had a real democracy but policy is dictated by the lobbyists and then sold to the simpleton masses using the commercial propaganda machines we call free-speech media.

The biggest obstacle to common sense right now is culture. Everything is upside down. Democracy doesn't work because the uneducated majority only votes a point of view manufactured for them by the best funded political TV campaign. The elite therefore have the say and are desperate to keep it that way and have become increasingly good at doing so.

Sadly, the reeducation of the current culture of ignorance, largesse, squandering and free lunches just wont happen without revolution, war or famine. Something painful in any case. While I agree with the article 100% the ideas can only ever be hypothetical because they are a way of thinking that has been lost by the entrenched establishment in power everywhere today.

Doug's picture
Doug
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You're right

Congress isn't saying this kind of stuff, and the Administration is finally starting to discuss related subjects, but others have been talking about these things for a long time.  They're called environmentalists.  Right wing world calls them communists.  And some in the Senate still call climate change a hoax.  It's a continuum for the last 50 years or so.

It all points to the extreme success of those who keep us in the dark because they make massive money off of our ignorance.

Mark Cochrane's picture
Mark Cochrane
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Too threatening because it is too sensible

Trun87114,

You asked why no one but Chris is putting forth this sort of idea, and other than the trite response of a general myopic lack of imagination and short term thinking from our so-called leaders, I would say that it simply threatens too much of the current dysfunctional system.

1. Each of the very sensible suggestions threatens a very large and entrenched industry/lobby. Decentralized solar is the worst nightmare for the very centralized fossil fuel/power industry. Is it the best thing for the country? Yes! It is excellent on so many sensible levels that it is hard to imagine that we wouldn't do something like this until you consider how our bought and paid for political system works.

2. Permaculture is another awesome idea which makes sense to everyone but Monsanto and the large scale agricultural producers who don't want what is most sensible. They want what is most profitable - to them.

3. Even infrastructure - something like high speed rail lines makes tons of sense but there is a whole road building lobby that will oppose it tooth and nail.

4. Doing any of these things would require actually acknowledging that we have 'problems' that need addressing. This goes against everything in the smoke and mirrors economic 'recovery' that is always going to arrive if we just print another few trillion dollars. Instead of leading or doing anything responsible (like paying for wars as you go...) our current political system relies on the ancient Roman tradition of bread and circuses to distract the masses while the whole country is pillaged.

What we lack in this country (US) is any sort of vision or leadership. If there were a time to do something like this it is now, both due to the real world predicament that we are in and the political situation. Obama is a lame duck president who will never get elected again. Why doesn't he use some of those 'Executive Orders' to implement something useful like this instead of fomenting lunacy by telling us Venezuala is an imminent threat to the security of the country?

Incidentally, one voice that has been continually calling for a the equivalent of a WWII mobilization of global economies to implement sensible strategies like those Chris has listed is Lester Brown (http://www.earth-policy.org/). He hasn't had the print and invest twist that Chris put forth but all of the sensible ideas are there waiting to be used.

Mark

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Thetallestmanonearth
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What would it take to get

What would it take to get this article printed to the front page of the New York Times?  Anyone in the community know someone who could make that happen?

Luke Moffat's picture
Luke Moffat
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Democracy - your Banking

Democracy - your Banking Class thanks you for believing

tricky rick's picture
tricky rick
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where are those voices indeed

Trun... exactly...always a point that's stuck with me  

 

But, as it would probably mean their job or position, I can see the reluctance of our "elected" representatives to maintain the status quo.

 

My question is, where are all those academics, the highly educated churned out year after year.  PEs, JPs, phds, mbas (excepting ivy league wall street vulture chicks)... scientists, engineers, lawyers, doctors...they all with futures and families in harms way.  Why aren't they raising a ruckus.

 

If our brightest are dumbed down dimwits, whom do us reg'lar folks have to look to?

Time2help's picture
Time2help
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Why no ruckus?
tricky rick wrote:

My question is, where are all those academics, the highly educated churned out year after year.  PEs, JPs, phds, mbas (excepting ivy league wall street vulture chicks)... scientists, engineers, lawyers, doctors...they all with futures and families in harms way.  Why aren't they raising a ruckus?

Because they are slaves.  They live in a world that has been pulled over there eyes to blind them from the truth.  Like everyone else, they were born into bondage, born inside a prison that the cannot smell, taste or touch.  A prison for their minds. 

 

Jbarney's picture
Jbarney
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Passion

Hey Chris,

Just wanted to let you know how much this piece was appreciated.  You had passion and attention to detail in this one that is reflected in many chapters of the Crash Course.  I don't know how long it took you to pen the words above, but I feel it necessary to let you know they were very effective.  They inspire, they lead, they map out solutions to your faithful.  Words and ideas matter and your vision came across loud and clear.  I will spend much time reflecting on what you have written above.

Jason

zoedog's picture
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Heartbreaking

Chris, your message is so clean, so logical, so sensible and right.  It shines with what Stephen Colbert used to call "truthiness".  I'm filled with sadness though, because now I see that there is a path out of the nightmare hole that humans have dug, and that we could take it right now, with what we already have, and it would save all of life, not just people - but we won't.  

David Allan's picture
David Allan
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Ovis callidus

I'm filled with sadness though, because now I see that there is a path out of the nightmare hole that humans have dug, and that we could take it right now, with what we already have, and it would save all of life, not just people - but we won't. 

I share your frustration and sorrow Zoedog, there is not one chance in a million that we'll take this path - for reasons astutely outlined by Mark in post #4 and most specifically because rich and powerful people would feel their interests to be threatened. This type of thinking will never be permitted to enter mainstream conversation.

Whilst my daily focus is almost always positive I can't help but be bleakly pessimistic about the future of the ecosphere and the human species. As I may have mentioned before we humans should not be known as homo sapiens but as ovis callidus (clever sheep).

Arthur Robey's picture
Arthur Robey
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And speaking of technology

Please be aware of magnetic refridgeration.  It makes better use of your available energy than gas refrigeration. 

http://www.cooltech-applications.com/magnetic-refrigeration-system.html

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetic_refrigeration#The_magnetocaloric...

http://www.gizmag.com/ge-magnetocaloric-refrigerator/30835/

 

rhelwig's picture
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Wrong because of one assumption

The sentiment is good, but one underlying assumption makes it unworkable: that government should be involved.

Just look at Solyndra vs. Solar City. Government efforts will always have improper incentives and so will choose the wrong solutions. On the other hand people like Musk are already improving the infrastructure without (much) government help or involvement.

Government took a sound and sustainable money (silver coins) and turned that into the unsound and unsustainable (in its effects) Federal Reserve Notes. They claim they did it for the right intentions, but their incentives are messed up so they cannot help but get it wrong.

If the people en masse, as individuals, decided to follow the good advice to only borrow for investments in the future, that would go a long way towards fixing things. I'm on that path now, living on a permaculture farm while working hard to eliminate all my debts (which had piled up before my eyes had become fully open). So yeah, the narrative is good with the proviso that it can and should start at the level of the individual.

ecb's picture
ecb
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change of behavior

I am reminded of how an alchoholic will not change behavior until there has been admission and recognition of the problem. It seems that the destructive policies of our government will not change with out a similar admission and that is not likely with out massive pain and suffering.

RoseHip's picture
RoseHip
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How many licks?

Make no doubt we will eventually get to the center of the lollipop. The only questions left is how many licks will it take. Take too many and the center spoils, bite and you make a faster path to the sweet rewards. I suggest steering the actions of your life, the things you do control, to be biting ones. Speak the truth loudly and boldly. Take risk and experiment, especially ones of radical love and acceptance. Do not seek comfort, seek personal growth. Help others so that you can receive help. Be a rock, so when its required to be soft the transition is seemless. Support others along the same path, teach and be taught. And don't forget to weave it all thru playfulness, for its infectious qualities. 

Here is some musical medicine. Nahko styled

aggrivated's picture
aggrivated
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magnetic refrigeration and refrigerator magnets

Chris

All of the changes you list, as  so many of those who  have responded to the article have said, require first the death of an entrenched industry/economic interest.  The natural world is able to respond quickly when a large species at the top of the feeding chain dies because smaller more resilient species are waiting in the wings.  So, we must wait, not only patiently, but persistently, surviving in the shadows of the great beasts, in the back waters of the streams until the inevitable death of the behemoths.  

These ideas and the actions they spawn are very powerful, but require the right environment to flourish.  Here is where the magnets come in.  Like bumper stickers--attached to the back side of an oil burning behemoth, or magnets attached to the door of an electrically dependent refrigerator, we should be disseminators of these ideas through everyday contacts, even though we are also dependent on the system to function. 

Some can afford to break free to some degree from dependence on the system....go for it!  Others of us find ourselves surviving on the edge in an environment that limits our potential to implement changes.  In both cases our persistent speaking out with the ideas for a better future is an important function that implants the genetic code of a survivable tomorrow. 

So, for a literal interpretation of these ramblings, I would love to see some sound bite size comments that would  make good bumper stickers and  refrigerator magnets. There is a business opportunity here.

 

aggrivated's picture
aggrivated
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bumper sticker

It's The Three E's Stupid!

That should start a few google searches.

Time2help's picture
Time2help
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Bumper Stickers

That's a good point actually.  Any consideration of a Bumper Sticker(s) with a catchy message, maybe the PP tree and www.peakprosperity.com along the bottom?

mr_green's picture
mr_green
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Made me laugh and cry

So, I'm to replace united states government and current central bank planning with your "central planning" that spends billions money on batteries, electrical grid and farming and we're all going to be better off and, by golly, your central planning beats their central planning because, um, you're the "good guys" who care?

seriously?

Hayek was correct that there is conceit. but he missed human blindness and the stubborn incapability to introspect.

where, in the grand scheme of things, are you different?

thc0655's picture
thc0655
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Fantastic!

Aggrivated wrote:

All of the changes you list, as  so many of those who  have responded to the article have said, require first the death of an entrenched industry/economic interest.  The natural world is able to respond quickly when a large species at the top of the feeding chain dies because smaller more resilient species are waiting in the wings.  So, we must wait, not only patiently, but persistently, surviving in the shadows of the great beasts, in the back waters of the streams until the inevitable death of the behemoths...

Some can afford to break free to some degree from dependence on the system....go for it!  Others of us find ourselves surviving on the edge in an environment that limits our potential to implement changes.  In both cases our persistent speaking out with the ideas for a better future is an important function that implants the genetic code of a survivable tomorrow. 

FANTASTIC!  That has been my attitude and approach for 5 years now and nothing I've learned in that time has caused me to change my mind.  This is because I have concluded:

1. There won't be any significant course corrections until there is a collapse. Human nature will see to that.

2. I can't fight it out with those at the top of the food chain.  However, I am looking forward to watching them scratch and claw each other to death when the collapse starts.

3. I do believe I can fortify myself, and make myself small and inconspicuous enough not to draw any unwanted "attention" and thereby survive to the other side of the collapse (the bottom of the trough).  This would be much easier if I could get out of the big city right now, but I can't yet (but that day is approaching).

4. My main remaining fears are: A) being crushed by either King Kong or Tyrannosaurus Rex as they fight each other, or B) being crushed in a stampede by the other tiny, little mammals like me, and C) there not being enough left over after the collapse for anything to survive.  Again, I'm working on getting out of the way and out of sight, but there's still the element of chance and bad timing.

In the meantime, let's just try to keep our heads together wink

"Welcome to the Hunger Games. And may the odds be ever in your favor."

Tom

Adam Taggart's picture
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Bumper Sticker: I'm Game

We've looked into custom PP.com gear in the past. Given the return/work ratio, it's been hard to prioritize over other ideas we've had for improving the site experience.

That said, I'm game for piloting a PP.com bumper sticker if there's truly sufficient interest.

Looking at printing & shipping costs (and the many individual mailings I'll be making), I think we'd need to charge around $5 per sticker for US orders.

If that's a price enough folks are willing to pay, I'll get to work with Jason on some designs for everyone to vote on.

cheers,

tricky rick's picture
tricky rick
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promo stuff

Hey Adam:

  Now you're talking!  that my line.

  you ever want to explore lapel pins or awards of any kind give me a hollar.

  we lots of bumper stickers...

 If it can ever help .... my web:  www.landmarkpromotions.com

Time2help's picture
Time2help
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Re: Bumper Sticker: I'm Game

Perhaps more productive than my current one..."Give me Liberty, or give me Debt!"

(edit: something about a "better future", maybe?)

Time2help's picture
Time2help
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Why different?
mr_green wrote:

where, in the grand scheme of things, are you different?

They're going to print up another trillion anyway.  I took the tone of the article as "If they are going to print up money willi-nillie anyway, then why not use it for some good?".  I don't believe Chris was advocating directly for additional thin-air money printing.

RNcarl's picture
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2016

My Bumber Sticker is going to read:

"The only Bush I want to see in the Whitehouse in 2017 is Hillary's!"

I just can't wait to have "Bill" as first lady!

Wait, what were we taking about?

 

RNcarl's picture
RNcarl
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thc0655 wrote: Aggrivated
thc0655 wrote:

Aggrivated wrote:

All of the changes you list, as  so many of those who  have responded to the article have said, require first the death of an entrenched industry/economic interest.  The natural world is able to respond quickly when a large species at the top of the feeding chain dies because smaller more resilient species are waiting in the wings.  So, we must wait, not only patiently, but persistently, surviving in the shadows of the great beasts, in the back waters of the streams until the inevitable death of the behemoths...

Some can afford to break free to some degree from dependence on the system....go for it!  Others of us find ourselves surviving on the edge in an environment that limits our potential to implement changes.  In both cases our persistent speaking out with the ideas for a better future is an important function that implants the genetic code of a survivable tomorrow. 

FANTASTIC!  That has been my attitude and approach for 5 years now and nothing I've learned in that time has caused me to change my mind.  This is because I have concluded:

1. There won't be any significant course corrections until there is a collapse. Human nature will see to that.

2. I can't fight it out with those at the top of the food chain.  However, I am looking forward to watching them scratch and claw each other to death when the collapse starts.

3. I do believe I can fortify myself, and make myself small and inconspicuous enough not to draw any unwanted "attention" and thereby survive to the other side of the collapse (the bottom of the trough).  This would be much easier if I could get out of the big city right now, but I can't yet (but that day is approaching).

4. My main remaining fears are: A) being crushed by either King Kong or Tyrannosaurus Rex as they fight each other, or B) being crushed in a stampede by the other tiny, little mammals like me, and C) there not being enough left over after the collapse for anything to survive.  Again, I'm working on getting out of the way and out of sight, but there's still the element of chance and bad timing.

In the meantime, let's just try to keep our heads together wink

"Welcome to the Hunger Games. And may the odds be ever in your favor."

Tom

Tom,

Although we do not see eye-to-eye on some things, your points are spot-on! I look at nature and marvel at the small fish that cloak themselves to keep from being eaten. Are some swept away in the frenzy? Sure. but many, many more survive.

I think Chris was tongue-in-cheek about spending the next "trillion." But, since they will be spending it anyway.... Alas, your point #1 is most likely the way things are going to play out. However, as you point out in #4... timing is everything! I think there will be enough "after" for those who survive. They will just have to be keen on not having it taken away.

As for #2 I will provide the beer and popcorn! It will be a helluva show to watch!

C.

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sand_puppy
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The Hook

I share your concern about being crushed between Tyrannosaurus Rex and King Kong.

Jay Goulds quote:  

I can hire half the working class to kill the other half

So I'm guessing that the first "one half" will be the establishment enforcer class who fight to preserve "Law and order" and crush "anarchy" and "terrorism."

The other half will be the group that "stands up for the constitution," believes in "freedom," and won't be "told what to do and how to live."

Both are powerful emotional hooks to draw everyone into the fight.

 

RNcarl's picture
RNcarl
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rhelwig wrote: The sentiment
rhelwig wrote:

The sentiment is good, but one underlying assumption makes it unworkable: that government should be involved.

Just look at Solyndra vs. Solar City. Government efforts will always have improper incentives and so will choose the wrong solutions. On the other hand people like Musk are already improving the infrastructure without (much) government help or involvement.

Government took a sound and sustainable money (silver coins) and turned that into the unsound and unsustainable (in its effects) Federal Reserve Notes. They claim they did it for the right intentions, but their incentives are messed up so they cannot help but get it wrong.

If the people en masse, as individuals, decided to follow the good advice to only borrow for investments in the future, that would go a long way towards fixing things. I'm on that path now, living on a permaculture farm while working hard to eliminate all my debts (which had piled up before my eyes had become fully open). So yeah, the narrative is good with the proviso that it can and should start at the level of the individual.

One tiny correction. The "government" had nothing to do with the creation of the "Federal Reserve." There is nothing "Federal" about the central bank. It's notion was created by the "free market capitalist" oligarchs. The "lawmakers" at the time were mere puppets. Please refer to, The Creature From Jekyll Island.

 

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government's legitimate role

First, I'd like to say - I like the idea.

The debate on whether or not government should execute investment and research projects has been around forever.  We got the interstate highway system, the atomic bomb, and the Internet courtesy of Uncle Sam.  I know - I was around on the original ARPAnet way back when.  (No, I wasn't there for the A-bomb).

We all know that any massive project will end up generating a whole lot of waste, especially research projects.  The number of dry holes and failures (and boondoggles, and cons) will be legion.   Some group of us will incessantly bring up Solyndra.  We're going to have hundreds of Solyndras.  My question is only, "will this succeed or not?"

I'd say we'll get a lot more progress towards the goal with such an effort in place, vs if we let things just trundle along as they are doing right now.

As Mark said, the collected group of potential losers will scream bloody murder - likely invoking the talismanic name of Solyndra as evidence such a thing is doomed to failure.

We just have to decide if the price of 100 more Solyndras is acceptible if we end up eventually meeting the goal.

As I said going in, I think its better to try rather than sit back and float downstream - wherever that might be leading us.

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climber99
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It is happening already.

The energy transition is already in full swing and hugely popular ....... in Germany. It is called Energiewende.  There is a virtual main stream media blackout about it in the US and UK.  Lets look at their targets and how they are getting on.

 

Closure of eight nuclear plants in Germany, with the rest of the stations to be shut down by 2022.

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2020 (compared with 1990 levels) and by 80 percent by 2050.

The electricity supply will consist of at least an 80 percent share of renewable energies by 2050. There are also  intermediate targets of 35 to 40 percent share by 2025 and 55 to 60 percent by 2035.
 

agora re target

 

Ask yourselves this question.  Why have the vast majority of US and UK citizens not heard of Germany's Energiewende ?  

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climber99
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I'll give you some hints.

Following on from my last comment.  I gave you a difficult question at the end.  I'll give you a few hints.

The Energiewende is about empowering people, literally.  Locally sourced, financed and controlled energy production instead of huge centralized power generation.  The government's roll is to provide the smart grid and give incentives to small operators and households.

Secondly, the political voting system uses proportional representation.  Hence small parties, crucially the Greens in this case, have a say in constructing the narrative and in the deciding policy.

Thirdly, it is hugely popular, especially amongst the young.

Who has all the power in the US?

Hope these hints help you answer my original question.

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Yes, yes, yes! Great

Yes, yes, yes! Great post.

What a unique time in history, a time when governments can print money, tons of money, and not cause inflation. How can we allow that money to be used to raise the bottom lines of big banks and the Fed? Why isn't it used for what it is needed?

Research batteries. Build windmills. Install efficient mass transit. Or to reverse the popular song, tear down the parking lot and put up a paradise! And heck, drop some money from helicopters and let me have some. But give it to banks? Why, oh why?

As you mentioned elsewhere, the Fed is owned by private banks. If the Fed were someday dissolved, I understand its assets would technically be the property of the banks that own it. So when we allow the Fed to print money and use it to buy tangible assets, we are in essence allowing private citizens to print their own money to buy things with it. What a racquet! Why is there not a chorus of outcries against this? Perhaps history will record this as the greatest swindle ever, in which banks were allowed to "counterfeit" themselves to riches, and nobody seems to have noticed.

 

 

 

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The masses have always been this way

Albert J. Nock wrote the following essay in 1936 in the depths of The Great Depression.  He discusses the great masses of people and why they never listen to wisdom. And he discusses a Remnant of people, a small minority who also exist hidden from common view among the masses.  These are the people he says any prophet worth his/her salt should focus their efforts on, not wasting time and energy on those who are wilfully blind.  From the Bible, to Plato, to Marcus Aurelius and others he makes his case.  It's long by 2015 standards, but you'd be rewarded reading all of it.

http://www.theburningplatform.com/2015/04/03/isaiahs-job/#more-95633

...This view of the masses is the one that we find prevailing at large among the ancient authorities whose writings have come down to us. In the 18th century, however, certain European philosophers spread the notion that the mass man, in his natural state, is not at all the kind of person that earlier authorities made him out to be, but on the contrary, that he is a worthy object of interest. His untowardness is the effect of environment, an effect for which “society” is somehow responsible. If only his environment permitted him to live according to his lights, he would undoubtedly show himself to be quite a fellow; and the best way to secure a more favorable environment for him would be to let him arrange it for himself. The French Revolution acted powerfully as a springboard for this idea, projecting its influence in all directions throughout Europe.

On this side of the ocean a whole new continent stood ready for a large-scale experiment with this theory. It afforded every conceivable resource whereby the masses might develop a civilization made in their own likeness and after their own image. There was no force of tradition to disturb them in their preponderance, or to check them in a thoroughgoing disparagement of the Remnant. Immense natural wealth, unquestioned predominance, virtual isolation, freedom from external interference and the fear of it, and, finally, a century and a half of time — such are the advantages which the mass man has had in bringing forth a civilization which should set the earlier preachers and philosophers at naught in their belief that nothing substantial can be expected from the masses, but only from the Remnant.

His success is unimpressive. On the evidence so far presented one must say, I think, that the mass man’s conception of what life has to offer, and his choice of what to ask from life, seem now to be pretty well what they were in the times of Isaiah and Plato; and so too seem the catastrophic social conflicts and convulsions in which his views of life and his demands on life involve him. I do not wish to dwell on this, however, but merely to observe that the monstrously inflated importance of the masses has apparently put all thought of a possible mission to the Remnant out of the modern prophet’s head. This is obviously quite as it should be, provided that the earlier preachers and philosophers were actually wrong, and that all final hope of the human race is actually centered in the masses. If, on the other hand, it should turn out that the Lord and Isaiah and Plato and Marcus Aurelius were right in their estimate of the relative social value of the masses and the Remnant, the case is somewhat different. Moreover, since with everything in their favor the masses have so far given such an extremely discouraging account of themselves, it would seem that the question at issue between these two bodies of opinion might most profitably be reopened.

III

But without following up this suggestion, I wish only, as I said, to remark the fact that as things now stand Isaiah’s job seems rather to go begging. Everyone with a message nowadays is, like my venerable European friend, eager to take it to the masses. His first, last and only thought is of mass acceptance and mass approval. His great care is to put his doctrine in such shape as will capture the masses’ attention and interest. This attitude towards the masses is so exclusive, so devout, that one is reminded of the troglodytic monster described by Plato, and the assiduous crowd at the entrance to its cave, trying obsequiously to placate it and win its favor, trying to interpret its inarticulate noises, trying to find out what it wants, and eagerly offering it all sorts of things that they think might strike its fancy.

The main trouble with all this is its reaction upon the mission itself. It necessitates an opportunist sophistication of one’s doctrine, which profoundly alters its character and reduces it to a mere placebo. If, say, you are a preacher, you wish to attract as large a congregation as you can, which means an appeal to the masses; and this, in turn, means adapting the terms of your message to the order of intellect and character that the masses exhibit. If you are an educator, say with a college on your hands, you wish to get as many students as possible, and you whittle down your requirements accordingly. If a writer, you aim at getting many readers; if a publisher, many purchasers; if a philosopher, many disciples; if a reformer, many converts; if a musician, many auditors; and so on. But as we see on all sides, in the realization of these several desires, the prophetic message is so heavily adulterated with trivialities, in every instance, that its effect on the masses is merely to harden them in their sins. Meanwhile, the Remnant, aware of this adulteration and of the desires that prompt it, turn their backs on the prophet and will have nothing to do with him or his message.

Isaiah, on the other hand, worked under no such disabilities. He preached to the masses only in the sense that he preached publicly. Anyone who liked might listen; anyone who liked might pass by. He knew that the Remnant would listen; and knowing also that nothing was to be expected of the masses under any circumstances, he made no specific appeal to them, did not accommodate his message to their measure in any way, and did not care two straws whether they heeded it or not. As a modern publisher might put it, he was not worrying about circulation or about advertising. Hence, with all such obsessions quite out of the way, he was in a position to do his level best, without fear or favor, and answerable only to his august Boss...

Maybe what he would say today is that it's only a small minority who escape the Matrix. And we don't have to find them.  They'll find us.  That's been my experience and it sounds like it's been the experience of most of us here.  Not much to do about that.  We just have to get on with doing right.

 
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"I'm a Peak Prosperity Home"

This may be out there, but it may not be, and it is sorta in line with the bumper sticker conversation.  I have just been thinking about the implications of Chris's most recent writings and several of the responses that have been posted here.  I imagine there are internet or other on line communities that are having discussions pretty much like this one.  What do we do, in the little time that is left, to attract more of the population as change happens around us?  This is might be the discussion Chris and Adam had when they shifted from "The Crash Course" to "Peak Prosperity".  How to spread the message about some very negative outcomes in a way that helps people become safer, healthier, and happier?

The internet is huge because the message can go global very quickly.  Times are "good" right now.  Normalcy bias is a problem that we are up against.  I just think back to the Iranian students using social media a couple of years ago during their protests....it was amazing how quickly they got the message out.

So I'm just floating this idea and it kinda pinballs between the effectiveness of the internet and the need for on the ground changes within each of our local communities.   Ya, I have been thinking about Chris's latest writing for a while.

So even if it starts out with the bumper stickers, (I'm a Peak Prosperity Home), Could be laughable, could be a great idea...what if we step up to the plate by creating a connecting web of businesses, homes, etc, within each of our spheres of influence, that has earned the "Peak Prosperity" approval....start local and on the ground.  This would take massive organization, and obviously Chris and Adam would be the ones to push the on the ground momentum, but to use Chris's argument, we need to become the change we seek....there is an element of being visible which is necessary to attract more "customers" or people to this more logical way of life.  Smaller.  Safer.  More common sense.

I don't even know if "I'm a Peak Prosperity Home" is a good enough idea for a bumper sticker, but I'm just pushing to find ways to bring the message down to every day folks.  Before their lives are so negatively effected.

Peace,

Jason

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Sorry for the Copyright Violation

Tried to upload an idea I was tinkering with...oh well....

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We each have a role

I will add my voice to the chorus. Yes, all of these investments are absolutely sensible. But we can wait a long time for this to occur from the top down. We do not have to wait for the perfect future time point, when the entire world acknowledges and is moving towards the same solution. We can lead.

I suggest that we each use the resources under our personal control, including professional and social capital to ‘be the change you want to see’.

I know that many of us have started on this path, but every dollar we spend, every word we write, every conversation we have, counts. Personal consumption choices and individual actions en mass can be a very powerful force.

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Re: Wrong because of one assumption

I share the same thoughts to an extent, but as I was reading through I noticed how Chris said "Set massive monetary prizes for whomever solves the power density riddle using common materials".  Which is essentially similar to the X-prize model as well as the method proposed by Robert Zubrin to advance space science and exploration, and such a proposal would probably mitigate some of the worst inefficiencies and perverse incentives that go with government involvement.  The government provides the money and sets the goals, but after that steps out of the way and lets everyone from individuals & small business to large megacorporations figure out whether to take on the risk of the endeavor and how to create the solution that achieves the goal.

Now while I think this would be one of the few ways (if not the only one) to mitigate government stupidity and corruption for such projects, sadly I don't see it as very likely, primarily because it would be hard to sell it to elected officials in the first place.  The current batch of chowderheads who are in office and those influencing/lobbying government seem to be control freaks for the most part, and 'hands-off' approaches do not fit in their usual pattern of thinking.  And then there's the corruption angle... such an approach greatly limits the potential for skimming and graft and the handing out of political favors.  So while I think it COULD work I don't see it likely to be implemented in such a way in the first place.  So while it's worth pushing for, it's still best to put most of the effort and energy on the level of the individual and small community.

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Get Rid of The Criminal Neocon Element First
Former Guantanamo Boss Faces French Court Inquiry

Guantanamo prison ex-chief Geoffrey Miller has been summoned by a French court over the use of torture in the detention facility a decade ago, following a lawsuit from two French citizens who were former inmates of the infamous military jail.

French citizens Nizar Sassi and Mourad Benchellali have filed a lawsuit in a French court against the former Guantanamo chief, demanding a criminal probe into his actions.

On Thursday, the court granted the complaint, summoning the former American general to France for a hearing.

The French judge’s decision might set a precedent for more prosecutions of US military personnel who served at Guantanamo Bay.

This news item appeared on the Russia Today Internet site at 2:22 p.m. Moscow time on their Friday afternoon.

Read more...

 

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aggrivated
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bumper sticker

"Proud Crash Course Grad"

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So glad Gitmo boss to be prosecuted

We move into early Easter Morning.  I will get off work in a few hours and to attend a sunrise service to talk about the transformative life of one called the Prince of Peace.

The most basic role we can play is to bring uncivilized and psychopathic hoodlums under control.  Lets have "Nuremberg trials" for the criminals among us. 

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pinecarr
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Another bumper?

"Honor Thy Mother"

040.jpg

 

robie robinson's picture
robie robinson
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"Honor thy...

Father and thy Mother that thy days may be long upon the earth." been ruminateing about that phrase since finding your post, Pincarr. Is it meant to the individual or humanity as a whole? Is mother figurative as in "Mother earth"? or strictly literal as in "Jo MaMa"? Going to my Tanakh.

 

Happy Easter to all the Christians

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False 'Eureka" a bit of an echo for me.

I was quite surprised to read this as I had a very similar thought a week or so ago, and it felt like a bit of a "eureka" moment. I vaguely recall research that in a community facing a similar situation, many people independently have quite similar thoughts at similar times. Well, in the broadest sense, a community of 7 Billion people face a similar situation, namely everyone excluding a tiny elite (and most probably even them only in their self delusions).

Since then, after reading this article and other readers comments, I remember that vested interests and entropy are indeed the reason why this isn't happening already. Our species is more viral than rational in the nature of it's development and demise.

Anyway. My own little inspiration was that if we can borrow astronomical amounts of money against the future, doesn't that load need to in and of itself guarantee we have a future? Isn't that a standard test for taking out even a small loan, that you can pay it back, for example by being alive and able to earn, or at least that the loan is secured /insured? What we are doing is the opposite, like an individual borrowing vast amounts of unsecured money to maintain a lethal addiction. But then the banker in this concept is THE addict and his /her friends, effectively lending money they themselves print to each other to buy "fixes." And if they stop doing it, they lose. If they don't stop, we lose even more than we otherwise will. But in their eyes we are probably "surplus" or "the cause of the problem" or such so of course they will even feel justified in not stopping, as if they are the guardians of human civilization facing a horde of (apathetic) barbarians.

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RNcarl
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Tin Hat Moment

Well,

How about this tin hat moment...

The reason money is being "printed" so freely is that there is no intent to "repay" it. Because there is some cataclysmic (natural or cosmic - not monetary or social) event going to happen in the (near) future and to keep from having chaos and break down now, before a big SHTF even happens....

Other than that explanation, I have no other reason for such irrational behavior from our "leadership."

 

P.S. I don't think there is any intent to repay the "printed loans" no matter what the reason. Since the money is fiat anyway, it just "is" because it "is."

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RNcarl
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Did I strike a chord?
RNcarl wrote:

Well,

How about this tin hat moment...

The reason money is being "printed" so freely is that there is no intent to "repay" it. Because there is some cataclysmic (natural or cosmic - not monetary or social) event going to happen in the (near) future and to keep from having chaos and break down now, before a big SHTF even happens....

Other than that explanation, I have no other reason for such irrational behavior from our "leadership."

 

P.S. I don't think there is any intent to repay the "printed loans" no matter what the reason. Since the money is fiat anyway, it just "is" because it "is."

I hate it when one of my posts seemingly "kills" a thread.

I have been thinking of the above post and it really does make me wonder if we haven't really slipped over the edge of no return. San Palo to a point about a "natural" event causing a breakdown. 

All the technology in the world wont help if there is no water....

Then, we hear how southern New England and Boston received record snowfall this year... snow is water right? No need to worry... And here in (not so sunny) Eastern NC, it is raining at least once or twice a week for two or three days... everything is turning green... from mold! No need to worry about water here either. However, the southeast was in a drought just five short years ago when we arrived here. Some areas are still listed as "dryer than normal."

I am not digressing to hijack the thread, rather to say, the needs are so great, I think we may have arrived at the point of no return.

C.

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ejhr
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Borrowing against the future

The sentiments are good, but the money maths is wrong.

The QE money is only tying up excess reserves in the bank. There is no trillion dollars. It's just cyphers in accounts at the federal reserve. What it does do is take unwanted deals off the banks books and that allows them to lend more freely [except they are not playing ball].

However Monetarily sovereign nations are not constrained in their ability to buy stuff. They only spend to pay bills, not to throw money from helicopters [unless those on the ground are creditors]

Every idea you have can be funded already. All it takes is to present an invoice for each job to Treasury.The government then approves the deal/s and the fed marks up the reserve accounts of whatever bank is the customer's, The bank then credits it's customer account. At which point money is created.

The idea we are borrowing from the future is quite erroneous - for sovereign governments.

All the so-called debts are just cyphers in accounts at the fed. When the government wants to sell bonds it does so to drain excess reserves from the system. Investors put up for the bonds which are shown as a debit in the Fed's reserve account and a credit in the commercial bank's reserve account. The investor earns interest, say 6% during the life of the bond. When it matures the account figures are reversed.

No money changes hands and no money is spent. It cannot be debt.

A central bank NEVER needs to borrow, So the title of the article itself is wrong. The CB can always pay in its own currency without recourse to borrowing. Why would one do that when you can just pay the debt?Why would the CB borrow its own money?

All this system is already in place .It is what happens today. But we prefer the old ways when we had commodity money. We don't today. We just need that to be generally recognised, so everything the article could want is just a few keystrokes away!

 

 

ejhr's picture
ejhr
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 28 2014
Posts: 34
Borrowing against the future

The sentiments are good, but the money maths is wrong.

The QE money is only tying up excess reserves in the bank. There is no trillion dollars. It's just cyphers in accounts at the federal reserve. What it does do is take unwanted deals off the banks books and that allows them to lend more freely [except they are not playing ball].

However Monetarily sovereign nations are not constrained in their ability to buy stuff. They only spend to pay bills, not to throw money from helicopters [unless those on the ground are creditors]

Every idea you have can be funded already. All it takes is to present an invoice for each job to Treasury.The government then approves the deal/s and the fed marks up the reserve accounts of whatever bank is the customer's, The bank then credits it's customer account. At which point money is created.

The idea we are borrowing from the future is quite erroneous - for sovereign governments.

All the so-called debts are just cyphers in accounts at the fed. When the government wants to sell bonds it does so to drain excess reserves from the system. Investors put up for the bonds which are shown as a debit in the Fed's reserve account and a credit in the commercial bank's reserve account. The investor earns interest, say 6% during the life of the bond. When it matures the account figures are reversed.

No money changes hands and no money is spent. It cannot be debt.

A central bank NEVER needs to borrow, So the title of the article itself is wrong. The CB can always pay in its own currency without recourse to borrowing. Why would one do that when you can just pay the debt?Why would the CB borrow its own money?

All this system is already in place .It is what happens today. But we prefer the old ways when we had commodity money. We don't today. We just need that to be generally recognised, so everything the article could want is just a few keystrokes away!

 

 

Michael_Rudmin's picture
Michael_Rudmin
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Posts: 922
All that COULD be funded, even 3000 years ago.

What you describe is a command (AKA a slave) economy. You see, there is still a limited amount of land, a limited amount of gold; and we have to decide whether it is more important to fund (with assets) a park or Bill Gaither's farm, or Sam Meade's railroad.

With an asset based economy and ownership, this is determined via the cloud. That is, it is determined in a d=stributed fashion: supply, demand. It is very inefficient, but it is one way of determining what to do with assets.

The alternative is a command/slave economy: the king declares that this gold goes to that lord, these women go to that brothel owner, these worker slaves go to that field and so on. Such an economy really doesn't require computers to bother with the financing. As shown so many times through history: ISIS today, Nazi Germany, Stalin's USSR, Britain's destruction of Ireland, the Aztec conquest of the southwest indians, also ancient Rome, EEgypt, and so on...

All it requires is the will to do it. And the acknowledgement that everyone will be a slave at the whim of the ruler.

Don't fool yourself that you will be the beneficiary. You will be a worker slave, doing whatever you are told until you mess up and are executed, and your wife and daughters will be there to service whomever they are told to service, and children that are concieved in the process will of course be subject to being destroyed because they are obviously of inferior stock.

A command economy is far more efficient; it just isn't consistent with freedom, and very quickly people realize that it and its leaders need to be destroyed.

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