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The Emperor Has No Clothes

Tuesday, February 9, 2010, 6:55 AM

[Note: This is a recent Martenson Insider post that I am making public. A couple of members thought this topic deserved wider attention and conversation, and I agreed.  Thanks go to MikeP for the title change idea.] 

The NYT had an editorial this past weekend (Feb 6, 2010) that trotted out some dangerous mistruths about the deficit and framed the issue as a left vs. right political game.

I hardly know where to start, but I will note that we've had massive accumulations of new debts under every single administration since the early 1980s, and that it hasn't seemed to matter which party has controlled which branches of government.  One could be forgiven for suspecting that, when it comes to deficit spending, there aren't two parties, but only one.

The real truth is that we have a culture of reckless spending in DC that transcends either or both parties, and I always lose a bit of trust in those who attempt to paint it otherwise.  This is simply not a partisan issue.

The second objection I have to this editorial rests with its attempt to step past our deficit by painting it as self-evidently necessary (emphasis mine):

The Truth About the Deficit

When the White House released its new budget last week, including more spending to create desperately needed jobs, Republican leaders in Congress denounced President Obama for driving up the deficit and demanded that the Democrats halt their “reckless” ways.

The deficit numbers — a projected $1.3 trillion in fiscal 2011 alone — are breathtaking. What is even more breathtaking is the Republicans’ cynical refusal to acknowledge that the country would never have gotten into so deep a hole if President George W. Bush and the Republican-led Congress had not spent years slashing taxes — mainly on the wealthy — and spending with far too little restraint. Unfortunately, the problem does not stop there.

Americans should be anxious, for reasons including the huge deficit. But the cold economic truth is this: At a time of high unemployment and fragile growth, the last thing the government should do is to slash spending. That will only drive the economy into deeper trouble.

I disagree.  I happen to think that that an economic crisis is an excellent time to take a good hard look at spending habits, and, if they aren't serving you, to slash them mercilessly.

The cold economic truth is that spending wildly beyond your means doesn't make sense in any economic environment.  All it does is trade temporary relief today for deeper economic pain later on.

But there's another assumption baked into this editorial that is desperately off the mark.  It is the idea that government spending is helping to lower unemployment and stabilize fragile growth, which implicitly assumes that the spending is both necessary and appropriately directed.

What if neither were actually true?

For the record, I would have an entirely different view of government spending if it were spent on different things.  For example, I am really taken by the new high speed trains (and stations) that China has received for its government expenditures:

(Source

Now that's a good use of public monies!  Awesome.  I would love to see such modern investments being made in my own country.

Instead, as we gaze across the federal budget pie, it's pretty obvious that our major expenditures have relatively little to do with long-term investments or capital improvements:

(Source)

More than half of our money is being spent on mandatory entitlement distributions, which simply means money going towards providing basic living expenses and health care.  Both are important to the recipients, but these expenditures are centered on current consumption, not long-term prosperity.

Now take a look at the remaining parts of the pie, specifically defense spending.  As enormous as that $744 billion wedge is, it understates the true extent of our security expenditures, because black-book spending and portions of the DOE, DHS, and other budgets that are dedicated to defense activities are hidden over there in the "Nondefense" pie wedge.

Some estimates suggest that our yearly defense outlays now approach $1 trillion.

Let's put that in context.  Here are the projected revenues for the 2011 fiscal year:

(Source)

If we divide defense spending of $744 billion by projected individual income taxes ($1,121 billion), we find that 66%, two-thirds (!) of all such receipts, are consumed by defense spending.

It pretty much goes without saying that a nation cannot be prosperous in the long run if it is spending two-thirds of its individual income tax receipts on defense expenditures.

Of course, we've managed to hide this over the years by going deeper and deeper into debt, so most people are not directly aware that two-thirds of their April 15th contributions are mainly headed either overseas or into the coffers of defense contractors.

Only 17% of our entire 2011 budget is going to go to nondefense spending, and the lion's share of that is for programs and hires that are already in motion or in place.

84% of all receipts are going to go towards mandatory spending in 2011.  Let that sink in for a moment.  84%.  Let me type that slowly:  e.i.g.h.t.y. f.o.u.r. p.e.r.c.e.n.t. 

And 94% of all revenues are entirely consumed by mandatory spending plus the interest payments (also arguably "mandatory").  So no matter how much politicians say they want to "cut spending', rest assured that they have backed themselves into a very sharp corner.  There's no maneuvering room left.

In FY 2011 expenditures are slated to exceed revenues by 49%.  Forty-nine percent.  49% (!).  Okay, now I am scaring myself.

Now matter how you slice these expenditures, they are unsustainable.

Think of how intense the future budget battles would be if the government had to live within its means.  Imagine if each wedge of the budget had to be shrunk by a third to bring expenditures in line with revenues.  Politically, I just can't see this happening, which is why I continue to believe that every effort will be made to print our way out of the problem.

As a side note, I somehow missed this article from Friday, notable because it is the first public trial balloon that I've seen floating the idea that the Fed might not stop its thin-air money-printing program:

Official says Fed might buy more mortgage-backed securities

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Federal Reserve would consider reopening its program to support the mortgage market if interest rates spiked or the economy showed new weakness, Federal Reserve Bank of New York President William C. Dudley said in two new interviews.

Remember, I thought that the end of March would be the time when we would get our read on whether the program would involve renewed efforts at borrowing and printing our way out of our easy-money debt pile-up.  Looks like we're right on track.

Now, back to the editorial.

The idea that there's no room to cut government expenditures without seriously impacting the economy is pure bunk.  We could easily trim defense spending without impacting our economy in the slightest, if we chose to reduce the amount of money we are sending overseas to maintain 700+ foreign military bases and prosecute two wars.

Next, we might also imagine that if we diverted money being spent on military expenditures into, say, high speed trains, wind farms, natural gas pipelines and distribution stations, and an upgraded electrical smart grid (for example), we'd get far more immediate and lasting economic benefit (and improved national security too, I might point out) than we would out of so-called "defense spending."

The cold economic truth is that we are slowly bankrupting our country.  And we are spending our money on things that do not contribute to our collective long-term prosperity.

Instead, I wish that this editorial, and dozens of others like it in other newspapers, would take a deep breath and ask the deeper and harder questions about our national priorities, challenges, and opportunities, and then call for a significant departure from the business-as-usual budget fiasco that is slowly but steadily leading us towards a vastly diminished future.

In short, somebody has to say it:  The emperor has no clothes.

Until we can have a legitimate discussion about the true economic costs and opportunities lost associated with our current expenditure regime, I do not see much hope that we'll magically navigate ourselves to a better, more prosperous future.

That's the real truth about the deficit.

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77 Comments

gregroberts's picture
gregroberts
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Re: The Emperor Has No Clothes

CM wrote

"Next, we might also imagine that if we diverted money being spent on military expenditures into, say, high speed trains, wind farms, natural gas pipelines and distribution stations, and an upgraded electrical smart grid (for example), we'd get far more immediate and lasting economic benefit (and improved national security too, I might point out) than we would out of so-called "defense spending."

From the horse's mouth

Q&A with Amtrak President Alex Kummant

Q: How much of that $14 billion authorized by the House do you expect to reach Amtrak?

'A: "To give you a sense of the capital flow, we today get between $500 million and $600 million a year on capital. We asked for the coming year for $800 million. We could easily spend twice of that if you look at the state of the repair backlog. And if you look at the appropriation, the kind of sliding scale here, the capital grants range in 2009 from $1.2 billion to $1.4 billion. The states themselves in the state grant actually end up having access to about 40 percent of that. So in round terms that moves our number from $600 million to a $1 billion. That's an important and significant increase. But it still doesn't leave that much headroom for additional equipment. So if you are still talking about a multi-billion type of acquisition program to replace all the equipment in the Northeast Corridor I think we have to look at more than that."

Q: Nationwide, what are the barriers to high-speed rail in the United States?

A: "Clearly, we would all love to have TGV-style 200 mph trains. But there are a couple of things there. Those are tens of billions of dollars of investment. So the question becomes: How do we find the public, financial and political lift for that'. We get beaten up every day over raising an appropriations request for $40 million. And in the next breath we are asked Well, when are you going to go high-speed?' And the answer is If you have $40 billion we will talk about it'.'

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSSIB27628520080612

Looks like a financial sinkhole to me, isn't this similiar to EROEI? You put in 40 billion and then never get a return on the money invested, but a constant  yearly deficit instead.

 

 

 

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Re: The Emperor Has No Clothes

When you see the pie chart, you cannot deny we as a nation have made many poor choices. With the exception of Ron Paul, there is no one in Congress that has the balls to say "The Emperor Has No Clothes". The more people that see this article the better. Thanks Chris.

Larry

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Re: The Emperor Has No Clothes

The NYT had an editorial this past weekend (Feb 6, 2010) that trotted out some dangerous mistruths about the deficit and framed the issue as a left vs. right political game.

There is no Left vs. Right paradigm in a feudal system.  Lords and Serfs. Top and Bottom.  The Parasitic vs. Productive.

This fellow seems to get it right:

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Re: The Emperor Has No Clothes

Seems to me that any time you allow the politicians to spend money, their first priority will be to take care of their friends. This does not seem conducive to wise investment. If you allow the productive classes to keep and invest their own money you will probably end up with much better choices being made. I am no economist though.

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438miler
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Re: The Emperor Has No Clothes

I think the country elected our current prez as he promised a 'change' in the way things are done.  So far, our executive has been an abysmal failure, and seems to be just like all the others.

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Re: The Emperor Has No Clothes

Personally, I can no longer concern myself with the affairs of the government anymore. At the end of the day, what have I achieved by doing so? Not a damn thing.

Dr. M, with all respect, why are you wasting your considerable brainpower on this black hole of distraction? I'm not worried about whether the emperor has no clothes, I'm worried about whether my daughter has no clothes.

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A. M.
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Re: The Emperor Has No Clothes

SingleSpeak,

+1.

Discretionary "defense" spending is really a very poor move at this point, as Chris pointed out.
Much of the investment we're making right now is going to ultimately remove the necessity for humans in many military capacities (which brings both moral and ethical issues to the table) and replace them with drones and robots that are "disposible".

Much like Chris's point on war-time spending in the Crash Course, the resources we're putting our R&D into go overseas and blow up. Further, they can be associated with the same costs as Human troops, but lack the reintegration into the civilian populace with both experience and knowledge.

I can think of several stupid teenagers that came out of the military capable men.

Robots... not so many.
So, better investment? Probably not.

While China is busy taking strides forward, we're debating how best to ruin our economy.
Pretty strange.

Cheers, and thanks for the great report Chris.
Aaron

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Re: The Emperor Has No Clothes
Sam wrote:

 I am no economist though.

I wouldn't listen to an economist. They are almost all trained Keynesian. They didn't see this massive credit bubble. They don't see the depression we have entered into. I'm sure they are smart in other ways but when it comes to economics they are morons.

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Re: The Emperor Has No Clothes

Chris,

Is there a difference between MONEY and POWER? What I mean is that there really is no need to keep a balanced budget when the US has a military capable of stealing all the resources it desires. Why would you cut military spending when it affords our country it's immense power?

Countries like China hold a considerable amount of our debt and hold bargaining chips financially speaking but militarily they are not a threat. So who has the power in this relationship; the one holding the debt or the one holding the gun?

Steve

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Re: The Emperor Has No Clothes

Remnant,

That clip was excellent... excellent. He captured me for 16 minutes... how did he do that?

Steve

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Sam
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Re: The Emperor Has No Clothes

Nice point Kemo. However, the gun that the U.S. holds requires constant input of capital to maintain. Is it sustainable in the long run?

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Re: The Emperor Has No Clothes

We will always have war. We will go down spending our last penny on war. If you wish to know why, watch Why We Fight and or Superpower. We as a country are not fighting over very many resources. What do we need with nickel, copper, chromium, etc. We don't make anything here anymore. The only resource we need is oil. In 1973 Kissinger cut a deal with the house of Saud that we would be the "beat cop" and they would take USD for oil. Essentially this made oil the commodity backing the world's reserve currency.

We are too far down the path to turn it around. How many Congressional districts do not have a defense contractor paying campaign contributions? ( Now  that is a chart I would like to see) If we do away or drastically reduce defense spending we have to answer some questions. What do we do with all the graduates of the military academies and enlisted lifers who produce nothing of value yet get compensated by the taxpayer? What do we do with all the workers at the defense plants? What happens to the investors in corps like Lockheed, Marietta Martin, Raytheon? ( of course no one on this site would invest in those companies anyway) What happens to all the little towns in this country and around the world whose entire economy is dependent on the military bases we have built?.

The Emperor has a fine suit of clothes........  G.I camo.

You want to change? Opt out of the system anyway you can. Get out of the banks and into local credit unions. get out of stocks and bonds. Create local currency. Support local business and farmers. You have to starve the beast.

Of course I am thrilled the Saints won.

V

ps Steve in answer to your question " Give me control of a country's money supply and I care not who makes its laws"

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Re: The Emperor Has No Clothes

Simple.

He simply told you what you already knew.  Nothing more.

We all inherently know this.  However, most of us are not always honest with ourselves.

Glad you liked it.

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Re: The Emperor Has No Clothes

Interesting how the author gets off on a tangent about defense spending and concludes that is the problem since it represents 66% of income tax reciepts.  Here is news for you, the entitelment/wealth transfer programs consume 200% of income tax reciepts. 

Yes we can cut spending on defense but it will mean nothing if we do not cut entitelments. 

Our constitution gurantees your right to "prusue happiness"  it does not gurantee it will be provided to you with money borrowed from China.

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Re: The Emperor Has No Clothes
TheRemnant wrote:

The NYT had an editorial this past weekend (Feb 6, 2010) that trotted out some dangerous mistruths about the deficit and framed the issue as a left vs. right political game.

There is no Left vs. Right paradigm in a feudal system.  Lords and Serfs. Top and Bottom.  The Parasitic vs. Productive.

This fellow seems to get it right:

 

 

The best video I've seen in some time. For the past few months I have been in the "acceptance" phase of "modern" civilization's downfall. Luckily around December of last year I stumbled upon the "Ravenwild" project which has kept my mind busy since then. The Ravenwild project will be due out later this year.Laughing

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straight
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Re: The Emperor Has No Clothes

From http://www.the-privateer.com/

Stein's Law.

This law is named for Mr Herbert Stein, the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors in the first

half of the 1970s under Presidents Nixon and Ford. The law is simplicity itself and very useful when

contemplating “unsustainable trends”. It goes like this:

 

 

“If something cannot go on forever - it will stop.

So it will. The great global problem today is the manner in which “it” DOES stop.

nickbert's picture
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Re: The Emperor Has No Clothes
V wrote:

What happens to the investors in corps like Lockheed, Marietta Martin, Raytheon? ( of course no one on this site would invest in those companies anyway)

Really, why not?  Not only do I have a small amount invested in one such aerospace company, I also happen to an employee.  Does that somehow make me a bad person?

I think it's worth mentioning that most such big companies do much more than just defense contracts; their businesses also cover a wide range of commercial projects such as building commercial spacecraft and launch systems, communications systems, alternative energy R&D, designing and building commercial aircraft, etc.  These are things that produce a lasting economic and societal benefit, are they not?  And second, while I personally do not rank most of the defense-related projects being as important as the ones I highlighted above in the grand scheme of societal usefulness, there in fact are some such defense and military endeavors that do support a useful service i.e. self-defense.  I would argue that the scale of defense spending is obscenely out of control as are most of the contracting practices and inefficiencies, but that doesn't mean that there is no value to be found. 

This is not an argument for a 'business-as-usual' approach (I personally want to see my company and the others much less entrenched in the defense arena), but rather for re-examining priorities and drawing new boundaries on which defense spending to fund and how much.  My personal thoughts/opinions are that the best way forward in regards to the military and defense industry is to effect a major change in mindset and priorities; de-emphasizing the 'global beat cop' role, emphasizing cost-effective efforts that maximize our ability to defend our nation against attack, and abolishing government cost-plus contracting.  All preferably with a budget much less than half of what's being spent now.  Chris' editorial seems to point towards the same thing, that the way forward involves pushing these issues of overspending and the inefficient use and misallocation of resources into the national spotlight so we can better prioritize.  It's not too late to turn this around, not if you have true grassroots support.... without the apathy of the majority, those 'in charge' will find their power, money, and influence suddenly become much less effective.

- Nickbert

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Re: The Emperor Has No Clothes

As I assume most of you are aware, Alexander Hamilton was a believer in statism, monarchy and a strong central government. He persuaded George Washington that it was consistent with the Constitution to establish a central bank. His argument was that the authority to do so resided in Article 1 Section 8 under the necessary and proper clause as an "implied power!" George Washington was president and trusted Hamilton who fought with him in the Revolution. 

To this day our government has grown based on the implied powers interpretation of the necessary and proper clause. If the Congress considers that a power sought is in the interest of the country the Supreme Court has upheld it. Notice that Congress is the seeker of the power and the entity which is relied upon to determine if that power sought fulfills the criterion of being in the interest of the country. 

So much for checks and balances!

I will not list them all. Try as you might you will not discover among the enumerated powers in Article 1 Section 8 the power to establish a central government retirement plan (Social Security), single payer medical system for the poor (Medicaid), medical care for those over 65 (Medicare), a central bank with authority to create paper currency (Federal Reserve System), antitrust laws, military draft, direct tax on labor, direct tax on inheritance, taxation on sales, federal "regulations" of business transactions, labor laws such as minimum wage laws, departments of energy and education, health and welfare, prohibition of possession, distribution and manufacture by citizens of chemical or plant products, control of weapons and ammunition for self defense, hunting, target shooting or in order to defend against a tyrannical government, etc.

I am sure that all of the above have been sanctioned by interpretations of the Constitution which amount to sophistry by any rational, thinking person with common sense who can read.

Neither political party addresses these issues on Constitutional grounds. 

There is a pro individual freedom movement whose mission is to educate themselves and their neighbors regarding these issues involving economics, history, philosophy and the Constitution, in the hope that enough citizens will see the wisdom of restoring  our Constitutional Republic. It is called the Campaign For Liberty and there is no cost to join. 

Membership grew exponentially since its creation in July 2008 and there are now 227,525 members in this country and around the world. A primary objective is to simply make others aware of its existence. Most people agree that the politicians in Washington take an oath to preserve the Constitution which they proceed to ignore. In time we intend to replace them with those who will keep the oath.

www.campaignforliberty.com

Its sister organization Young Americans For Liberty is on over 170 college campuses:

www.YALiberty.org

Join us!

 

 

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Re: The Emperor Has No Clothes

Chris,

I'd have to take issue with you about your remarks on China's high speed trains. I hope you weren't simply dumbstruck by the beauty and vastness of it all. Why does any country need high speed trains? Why does any country need the vast rail stations shown in the image? Yes, they're beautiful, but utterly inconsistent with living sustainably. Why do you need to get anywhere in such a hurry and in large numbers? Can you imagine the resources sucked up by operating high speed trains and enourmous stations?

Are you interested in sustainable societies, Chris?

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r
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Re: The Emperor Has No Clothes

I've been hearing a lot about how rising medical costs will take up more of the federal budget.  This must impact the outlays for medicare and medicaid specifically -- which means we can expect the 1.4 Trillion portion to rise -- exponentially?

A Republican TV pundit claimed the Democrats are anti-growth  - which would be praise if we could replace growth with quality.  Cutting taxes will certainly fix this catastrophe ;-)

buzzfuzzel didn't write:

Our constitution gurantees your right to "prusue happiness"  it does not gurantee it will not be provided to you with money borrowed from China.

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Re: The Emperor Has No Clothes
sofistek wrote:

I'd have to take issue with you about your remarks on China's high speed trains. I hope you weren't simply dumbstruck by the beauty and vastness of it all. Why does any country need high speed trains? Why does any country need the vast rail stations shown in the image? Yes, they're beautiful, but utterly inconsistent with living sustainably. Why do you need to get anywhere in such a hurry and in large numbers? Can you imagine the resources sucked up by operating high speed trains and enourmous stations?

Are you interested in sustainable societies, Chris?

sofistek,

But it's all relative isn't it?  We don't need high speed trains, but one could argue that we also don't need CT scanners, antibiotics, electricity, indoor plumbing, or metal tools.  We have them because they each improve the quality of life to some degree.  The same goes for the high speed trains... they offer similar quality of life benefits as cars and airplanes (improved mobility) but with a much reduced overall resource cost if used in the right locations.  It wouldn't be ideal transportation for every part of the country, but there are areas that could benefit.

Finally, in what way are they inconsistent with living sustainably?  Is there some reason that it's impossible for them to operate using renewable energy for example?  And is there something inherently bad about using mass transportation that moves quickly, or is that just a value judgement?  IMO it looks like you're making your argument from a standpoint of belief, not facts.

And maybe it's just the way I read it, but your last sentence seems to come off as passive-aggressive.

- Nickbert

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Re: The Emperor Has No Clothes
sofistek wrote:

Chris,

I'd have to take issue with you about your remarks on China's high speed trains. I hope you weren't simply dumbstruck by the beauty and vastness of it all. Why does any country need high speed trains? Why does any country need the vast rail stations shown in the image? Yes, they're beautiful, but utterly inconsistent with living sustainably. Why do you need to get anywhere in such a hurry and in large numbers? Can you imagine the resources sucked up by operating high speed trains and enourmous stations?

Are you interested in sustainable societies, Chris?

Wise observation. I thought the same thing. The future survivors will learn to Decentralize, Relocalize, and Recycle/Improvise.

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Re: The Emperor Has No Clothes

The general spirit of that video in comment #3 above by Remant is spot on from past personal experience.  Take pride in yourself and just refuse to engage! You then empower yourself and strip power from the opposing evil.   

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Re: The Emperor Has No Clothes
JAG wrote:

Dr. M, with all respect, why are you wasting your considerable brainpower on this black hole of distraction? I'm not worried about whether the emperor has no clothes, I'm worried about whether my daughter has no clothes.

Yeah, I must say I agree with JAG here... I would like to read more about what to do, what others are doing here and there, etc. Detailed reports about what's working, what's not working, you know, so everyone can pick and choose what they feel fits best their own situation!

Samuel

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Re: The Emperor Has No Clothes
sofistek wrote:

Chris,

I'd have to take issue with you about your remarks on China's high speed trains. I hope you weren't simply dumbstruck by the beauty and vastness of it all. Why does any country need high speed trains? Why does any country need the vast rail stations shown in the image? Yes, they're beautiful, but utterly inconsistent with living sustainably. Why do you need to get anywhere in such a hurry and in large numbers? Can you imagine the resources sucked up by operating high speed trains and enourmous stations?

A lot less than airplanes, cars, and trucks at least ;) I am not so sure it's unsustainable. I would be interested in reading research about how well we can run such a network on wind and solar power, for example, if anyone knows of any .. thanks

Samuel

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r
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Re: The Emperor Has No Clothes
samuel wrote:

Yeah, I must say I agree with JAG here... I would like to read more about what to do, what others are doing here and there, etc. Detailed reports about what's working, what's not working, you know, so everyone can pick and choose what they feel fits best their own situation!

I disagree because it's very important to get the word out.  I don't believe there is a solution in isolation.  You have to sell your PM's to someone eventually after all.

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Re: The Emperor Has No Clothes

 

sofistek wrote:

Chris,

I'd have to take issue with you about your remarks on China's high speed trains. I hope you weren't simply dumbstruck by the beauty and vastness of it all. Why does any country need high speed trains? Why does any country need the vast rail stations shown in the image? Yes, they're beautiful, but utterly inconsistent with living sustainably. Why do you need to get anywhere in such a hurry and in large numbers? Can you imagine the resources sucked up by operating high speed trains and enourmous stations?

 Sheesh. So we should just break down into city states and use backpacks and ox carts?

Being able to transport people great distances effciently helps facilitate sustainability. It gets a tremendous amount of people back and for to work for a relatively low enviromental impact in contrast with cars. It increases commerce and the fluidity and dependability of trade. A mobile populace is a productive populace.

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Sam
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Re: The Emperor Has No Clothes

I think maybe some of us are taking James Kunstler a little too seriously. It is ok to enjoy life, it is ok to plan for a prosperous future. There are some really smart people working on many of our problems and our knowledge is changing in the same exponential manner as our problems are. Dont abondon hope, James and the folks at the Oil Drum aren't necessarily writing gospel.

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Re: The Emperor Has No Clothes

Doing my morning Google news search shows it coming up under the title "Real Truth About The Deficit".

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Vanityfox451
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Re: The Emperor Has No Clothes

I think that maybe some are losing the value this site represents. CM.com is, most importantly, a tool box of information; a training ground for people to become equiped with reality, no matter how painful that reality is. It is devised and built upon a solid ground of facts, paying little heed toward either belief or opinion.

It is a foundation piece that allows the expansion of valuable key facts, with the basis of building reliable detail into a fuller picture.

Holding onto this perspective is how all that read and write here can be taught not just the benefit of a library of useful information in one place, but also to become teachers themselves with this library.

The only way forward is to fully comprehend the future. By fully comprehending the future, this will give the answers as to what it is that people collectively need to do to have a future.

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Re: The Emperor Has No Clothes
JAG wrote:

Personally, I can no longer concern myself with the affairs of the government anymore. At the end of the day, what have I achieved by doing so? Not a damn thing.

This is about where I am, too, JAG.  I spend less and less time keeping track of the gov's day-to-day actions and speechifying.  There are so many other things to occupy my attention.

JAG wrote:

Dr. M, with all respect, why are you wasting your considerable brainpower on this black hole of distraction? I'm not worried about whether the emperor has no clothes, I'm worried about whether my daughter has no clothes.

However, seems to me that with a constant flow of new folks arriving at this site, timely and relevant stories about the No Clothes are important to expose the new folks to Useful Information About Where We're At -- since they are most certainly not getting it at CNN.  I suppose you could make the case that there are plenty of older Martenson Reports that elucidate quite well the overall heinousity of the current sitch.  But nothing moves folks like cleareyed info about the current moment, IMO.  So I'd say CM's efforts here are anything but wasted.  

Sure, you and I and many of the cohort here are past the Red Pill stage and off down the road of readiness to a greater or lesser degree.  But there's plenty of folks out there still choking on the Blue Pill, and IMO if we're going to build real stability and prosperity, we need heaps of 'em to take the Red Pill, wise up, and join us where we are.  

VIVA, ya'lls! -- Sager

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BE
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Re: The Emperor Has No Clothes

Regarding the video clip submitted by The Remnant:

Everything he says is true! Only one problem. If all the people he says he's talking to (informed, intelligent, even brilliant) decide to take his advice and opt out of the voting process then the only ones voting will be the "livestock" he rightfully derides. So we'll all have our pride and not even a whisper of control over the herd.

Better to maintain our involvement and work to take back control of the system Ben, Tom and the rest designed for us.

The way to get the "candy" (and our self esteem) back is a side kick to the knee and a backfist to the nose of the bullies. Walking away empowers and encourages them. Trust me! I still hold the emotional scars of being afraid to confront bullies.

Not voting is the same as giving "the guys with the guns" blanket permission to continue business as usual. Your video guy may be sincere, but  I suspect he's a "double agent."

For further understanding of what's going on and why Ron Paul is definitely on the right track, check out the video at ... www.bigeye.com/moneymasters.htm ... It's dry but very enlightening.

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Re: The Emperor Has No Clothes

BE,

I really want American's to have a fair and honest reason to vote. I would want you to have a collective say in how the United States are moulded in the future. Yet, the truth's that are discussed on this forum have proven to me that no amount of voting stock have swayed government into anything like a sustainable future.

It appears your impression of Remnant (who placed Stephan Molyneux video up) is of the opinion that voting is but a pointless task. In my understanding, that is far removed from the truth.

What I've gained from this site and Chris Martenson's work is of a collective tipping point of understanding. Armed with this, my reasoning tells me that, in its present form, there is no value to voting as, there is no choice. You have no choices in the arrangement.

Look at the millions of 'voters' who took to the streets that were against Afganistan, Iraq, bank bailouts or quantitive easing. Look at the reality that Obama has become from the hype that put him into power. The U.S is still using a quarter of the worlds resources to support 5% of the population of it at a time when oil energy supply has more than definately peaked. This, you must come to agree, is far from sustainable when accounting with $112 Trillion worth of debt.

Coming back to the origins of this site is sometimes the best answer, and I urge you to read a most important Martenson Report from where I originally came to write on this forum. This isn't pretty but it can't be refuted: -

The United States Is Insolvent

http://www.peakprosperity.com/martensonreport/united-states-insolvent

I also urge you, because I note that you've only just registered here, that maybe you haven't watched this set of films, which is the gell that holds the fabric of this site together : -

The Crash Course

http://www.peakprosperity.com/crashcourse

If you've already seen The Crash Course, please respect that many have begun writing here by stumbling on the site and assuming that people are writing contrarian views.

Kindest Regards,

Paul

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Re: The Emperor Has No Clothes

I noticed this quote:

For the record, I would have an entirely different view of government spending if it were spent on different things.  For example, I am really taken by the new high speed trains (and stations) that China has received for its government expenditures:

I notice others were raising points about the validity of the "shiny bling" and sustainability brought to you by the State.

No free market institution would divert that much captial and tools into the production of a high-speed train unless it could profit (generate wealth) from doing so.

Remember, that train was built by a minority of men with a monopoly on violence, with the power to tax, and collect those taxes unopposed.

Since government produces no wealth, they acquire it in one of three ways:

  • Tax (Theft Today)
  • Borrow (Theft Tomorrow)
  • Inflate (Indirect theft by removing the purchasing power of your money without removing a dollar from your posession)

Those trains weren't free.  They came about as a result of violence - the forceable redistribution of wealth or redistribution of impoverishment.

 

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Re: The Emperor Has No Clothes

In regards to Remnant's video, instead of witholding from voting, I would much rather give my vote to somebody like Ron Paul. He got what, 50 thousand votes last election? Next one he needs to get 50 million. But he needs to run as an independent.

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Re: The Emperor Has No Clothes

My views on having shiny trains has more to do with symbolism than bona-fide solutions.   As I look about at the things that we are choosing to invest in nationally, I am slowly losing hope.

A high speed train would indicate, symbolically, that we understand what the future holds.  F22 fighters indicate a different view of the future.  Both would cost about the same (~$70 billion).

This goes along the lines of the Broken Window theory which holds that people take subtle clues from their environs and make relatively profound decisions about their social behaviors from what they see around them.  Along these lines, I posit that if millions of people were to transit through modern, shiny, highly efficient transportation hubs they'd take home a shifting attitude about what's important.

My interest in seeing us invest in ourselves (and more appropriate technologies) goes way beyond mere dollars and cents. I want it for its highly-important signalling function(s).

Lastly, the free market cannot and will not ever deliver everything we want primarily because it is 100% based on a failing debt-based monetary unit.  Under different money I might hold a different view (depending on which one was the dominant form) but for now I simply have no faith that a debt-based free market will deliver the right things for a sustainable future.  The profit motive is good for some things, but not everything (charity is one example). For some things we have to make our decisions based on other considerations besides an ever-increasing flow of money units.

 

 

 

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Re: The Emperor Has No Clothes

TheRemnant

I know you're new here, so rest assured no one on this site is tickled pink at the prospect of paying more taxes.  My guess is that you haven't watched the Crash Course yet because you aren't factoring in peak oil to our ecomomic future.  It seems a pretty safe bet that our transportation infrastructure is going to be undergoing a radical restructuring in the not too distant future.  The personal automobile, trucking as the main means of moving stuff and airplanes are going, of necessity, to be playing far smaller roles.  The most efficient means of moving people and stuff in terms of fuel usage are shipping and trains.  Therefore, in terms of what kind of infrastructure we should be aiming for, those two modes of transportation should play much larger roles than they currently do.

One of the priorities in figuring out how we are to use our still cheap fuel going forward, is to build out the infrastructure that we will need when fuel, particularly oil, is no longer cheap or readily available.  Lots of projections have been done on how to get there from here.  Basically, no matter how fast we develop alternative energy sources, we cannot replace the carbon based fuels in time to make an easy transition.  There will be shortages of fuel.  The best hope we have is to go on a massive conservation campaign.  (The last is my view, which I don't think some of the people on this site agree with yet)

The only entity in our society that has the wherewithal to martial the economic forces necessary for that transition is the US government, notwithstanding the Ayn Randian free market notions of some.  Although I think a lot could be saved by cutting taxes in other areas, particularly cutting back on our massive road and highway system, it seems to me that a priority should be put on upgrading our rail system that is currently old and falling apart.  The reality is that a fast efficient rail system will go a long way toward making our transition easier.  I agree with Chris that, if we're going to run up deficits, it ought to be on something that will make our future better and provide the free market transportation for its stuff.

Doug

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Re: The Emperor Has No Clothes

Lastly, the free market cannot and will not ever deliver everything we want primarily because it is 100% based on a failing debt-based monetary unit.  Under different money I might hold a different view (depending on which one was the dominant form) but for now I simply have no faith that a debt-based free market will deliver the right things for a sustainable future.  The profit motive is good for some things, but not everything (charity is one example). For some things we have to make our decisions based on other considerations besides an ever-increasing flow of money units.

Chris, thank you so much for responding!  I really do appreciate it.

I have watched the Crash Course.  Several times.  Many of us are drawn to the message for different reasons and different backgrounds.  In fact, I was so impressed with CC, I became a paying member.  I am involved with my Transistion Town movement up here in Canada as a result.  I wholeheartedly agree with the message contained within CC, and I want to be a part of this as it occurs.

From your post above, I captioned a portion of it I would like to discuss a bit.

You're conflating a free market with ascribing value to a debt-based fiat currency.

If I opened "The Remnant's Money Store” and produced uniform pieces of paper with different inks/designs on them indicating denomination, how would I get the free market to accept them? How could I prevent a competitor from doing the same? Answer: I can’t. I’d be laughed at or ignored. People would rightly say, “You’d print up money and give it to yourself or your friends and use it to your benefit, while producing nothing of economic value! You’re a cheat!”.

Now, if I got a bunch of thugs to work for me with the biggest guns in town and threatened others to pay me tribute (via legal tender violence or taxation violence) in my form of money, what would happen? You’d cave in to me or I’ll make your life miserable or worse. If a competitor opened a store, I’d throw him in jail or kill him for "counterfeiting" or competing with my fiat franchise.

Money is merely a commodity like all other commodities, with the unique property valued in the market as being tradeable for all other commodities.  Money has no intrinsic value but the value of it imputed by other market actors.  I would never argue, “People should be forced to use [insert money form here] as money!”. What I argue is “People should be free to choose what they want to use as money!”. In practice, this would mean a return to commodity forms of money. Perhaps gold/silver/copper with the market determining exchange rates between them.

Interest rates on money would be freely set by the market, not manipulated by a monopoly on violence (the State) via a central bank nor its connected insiders (the banks).  Central banks and free markets are opposite ideas.

If you are familar with Gresham's Law (bad money drives out the good), then you must understand Gresham's Law only works due to State violence.

To be continued...kids are home from skating.

 

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Re: The Emperor Has No Clothes

High speed = inequity = energy depletion

Ivan Illich and High Speed Trains

http://clevercycles.com/energy_and_equity/  This link is to the full text of Illich's brilliant essay on energy and equality.

If i take issue with Chris and his trains comment, it is on the issue of equality and access.  Illich suggests that high speed trains, indeed any high speed transport, is a precursor to inequality. High speed = high energy use.  Low speed = low energy use = cheap = equitable.  High speed means you give your money to the owners of the trains and to the owners of the power company that supplies the power. High speed = inequality = disparity between rich and poor.  Then there is the issue of energy depletion as the power will come from either coal or nuclear.

If you have access to high speed travel then you can access education and employment that someone without that acces is denied.  If you want equality, equity, then you need to have low speed transport.

Illich suggested back in the early 70's that a world speed limit of 25mph would solve many equity problems, and a large number of environmental ones to boot.

Think about it, low speed means that the energy you use is put into moving you, not the air infront of you = much more efficient.  low speed means that you can fit multiples more cars, bikes, or trains on existing infrastructure as you can be closer to the person infront of you.  low speed means cheap; Illich suggests that low speed trains could be free as they are so cheap to run.  Think about what that would mean to the city you live in.  low speed means more bikes and walkers as the fast toxic cars are moving at a human pace. Low speed means low tech. You dont need fancy rare earth magnets in a bike and you can use your existing car if you like, no new infrastructure. 

To me it is the obvious 'silver bullet' which is being overlooked.

What do you think?

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Re: The Emperor Has No Clothes
straight wrote:

Illich suggested back in the early 70's that a world speed limit of 25mph would solve many equity problems, and a large number of environmental ones to boot.

What do you think?

Good luck enforcing a "world speed limit."  Sounds a bit improbable that the whole world would ever agree to this, but even if you could get just one country to do so, I would hate to be in a position to need an ambulance.

Then again, after the age of oil, 25 mph might be rather reasonable.

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Re: The Emperor Has No Clothes

I agree with many things said by prior commentaries, but not walking away from voting.  I agree our present system is way to far from perfect.  So field and vote for those who offer a better choice.  Ron Paul is a start, but it needs to be based on principals rather than a personality.

Look to Russia today and historically for the kind of government you get when the people avoid political contact.

We tend to agree that what we have is going to collapse.  If so then we should be putting forward a substantial effort to define what system it will be replaced with.  Perhaps taking our Constitution and line by line identify what is working and what is not.

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Re: The Emperor Has No Clothes

straight:

So in your opinion, should commercial airplane travel be abolished, you know, for the sake of equality?

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Re: The Emperor Has No Clothes

I too think we must march with happiness down the road of sustainable living.  I do not believe that this means a world free of art, architecture, and solid culture.  It also does not have to be a world free of travel.  Yes, it will likely be a world less engaged in long distance travel.

If during a 75 year life time one can expect the opportunity to go from one ocean to the other than that means transporting 4,000,000 people per year across the continent (300,000,000 people divided by 75) which is about 11,000 per day each way.  In addition to this there will be people on the move to new jobs, and to buy and sell goods and services.

In 1951 when I was 8 years old our family took a trip from Illinois to the Pacific Northwest for business reasons.  I was the only person in my grade school who had made such a journey including the teachers.  That is how much our travel expectations have expanded.

There is more energy requirements to run a rail road than the trains propulsion.  There is vast energy invested in creating the road bed, ties, rails, bridges, stations and rolling stock.  The slower the train moves the less flows up and down the system.  As a result spending more energy to move the train faster may in fact be conserving energy when compared to the alternative of laying another track to satisfy the volume.  Then there is the consideration that the passengers and cargo have a time value.

It is difficult to look across oceans and countries to fully appreciate the true content of a photograph.  The United States which consumes 25% of the worlds energy pampering the wants of 5% of the worlds population might be under the misunderstanding that the beautiful rail station shown in Dr Martenson's blog is heated and air conditioned.  Only bankrupt energy hogs have such luxuries.  Therefore, a very high ceiling is quite practical to allow the heat from the train and passengers to rise and escape in summer. 

 Travel by American trains was no big pleasure.  The train staffs poor service was only exceeded by their surliness.  When I was 13 I got on a 2 passenger car train going 45 miles to St Louis where I would connect for another journey.  The train had many passengers standing in the aisle.  It took over an hour to make this leg of the journey.  The Conductor had two seats turned around providing four seats for his comfort.  He had his ticket bag in one seat, his ass in another and his feet resting in another seat.  There was a 4th seat by the window he was not using.  He got up to punch tickets and I slipped into the 4th seat.  When he came back he began screaming and yelling, and threatening me that he was going to stop the train and throw me off.  This story is true and very typical of why Americans abandoned rail passenger service as fast as the road systems and availability to drive cars presented its self.

I bought a EuroRail pass a couple years ago and found Europe's trains to be clean, fast, and on time.  In my youth American trains ran one to two hours late.

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Re: The Emperor Has No Clothes

And I would never dream of preventing/discouraging you from voting for Ron Paul.  For the record, I like him.  Always did.  If you want to do that, go right ahead.  I applaud you for it.  However, that will not stop me from nuturing my agorist network.  That's my Plan B.

  • If Ron Paul wants to eliminate public education...awesome.  However, everyone who is tied into the State/Education complex will vote against him to keep the gravy train flowing.
  • If Ron Paul wants to eliminate the Federal Reserve...awesome.  However, everyone who is tied into the State/Banking cartel will vote against him to keep the gravy train flowing.
  • If Ron Paul wants to bring the troops home and limit military spending...awesome.  However, everyone who is tied into the Stte/Military industrial complex will vote against him to keep the gravy train flowing.
  • If Ron Paul wants to eliminate subsidies to X or Y...awesome.  However, everyone who is tied into benefitting from the State/subsidy complex will vote against him to keep the gravy train flowing.
  • If Ron Paul wants to eliminate taxes on X or Y...awesome.  However, everyone who will pay more because X or Y is no longer being taxed will vote against you

This is the fallacy of democracy.  Democracy assumes mob rules (or minor variants) or might makes right.  Democracy assumes that it is morally legitimate for us to delegate the non-right of stealing from each other to the State.  Democracy is not to be revered but rather reviled.  Spat on.  Defecated on.  Even the founding fathers of the US were aware of the perils of democracy; they voted to create a Republic thinking that a predatory tiger like the State can be restrained by a paper cage called a Constitution.  They were wrong....how's that all worked out?

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Re: The Emperor Has No Clothes

It might be useful for Dr Chris to project a meaningful study of just how much the Federal Government must reduce spending or increase taxes to actually balance it books.  This study should include the reality that either reductions in spending or increased taxes without increased spending will have a very negative impact on the economy resulting in lower tax receipts which then mandate still more cuts or tax increases.

The study might also include an interest rate increase of adequate proportions to create a positive savings rate which would allow us to fund our economy without foreign borrowing.  Of course an interest rate increase will exacerbate the mountain of bad debts and foreclosures that are all ready in the pipeline.  Due to the mountain of Federal debt an interest rate increase will be still mandate still more taxes or cuts in other spending.

I suspect that the final fully funded government would be less than half its present size, and our economy will have shrunk to a similar extent.  No matter how bad the news is it is better for each and all to lay their plans based on a sober analysis of the reality we face.

I think we all know that "We The People" won't stand still for the bitter pill of honoring our public debts.  If that is the case then how does default play out for "We The People"?

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on trains...

Re. Ivan Illich's ideas.

1. Please read the essy/book i linked.  Illich is a clear thinker with a good writing sytle and a passion for an equitable world.

2. In his book he asserts, with reasoning, that existing infrastructure will have a greater capacity at lower speed. This is for rail and roads.  He may be mistaken, i doubt it, but i am no expert myself.

3. My partners sister wrote this book. http://www.amazon.com/Car-Sick-Solutions-Car-addicted-Culture/dp/190399876X  Lynn, the author, put me onto Illich and I simply love his vision and passion for world equality and his sharp mind and suscinct writing style.  Lynns job is to do research and implement changes to get people out of cars and onto bikes, their feet or public transport. Lynn is hired by all manner of councils and governments throughout Europe; she lives in an isolated converted barn in the country side in Wales, not far from CAT [centre for alternative Technology] if you are from Wales. This book, 'Car Sick', is a very practical research based assessment of how to kick the car habbit.  Make no mistake, if you drive every day it is an addiction. 

4. If you add up the time the average american spends on their car, it will blow your mind. Take into account the time you spend actually in the car, working on it, cleaning it, gassing [american for 'filling up'] it, and especially the time you work to earn the money [before tax] to pay for the car itself, fuel [gas], insurance, registration, cleaning etc etc.   No imagine a world with cars that travel only 25kph... Lynns research shows that when you drop the speed of cars people think it is safe enough to get out onto the road on foot or on a bike.  Build it and they will come applies with a vengence to roads, bridges and car tunnels.  Deconstruct/slow it down and they will leave!

5. Flying might seem like a god given right, but it aint! Clean water, food, shelter, freedom of speech [except for corporations / immortals], they are rights.  Why should you have high speed trains when others die for the want of clean water / food / basic medications?  Why? answer me that.  The inequity can stop, and this is one way to do it civily without bloodshed.

6. If something is unsustainable it will stop! If it is unsustainable it wont be sustained. It seems to me that high speed travel is unsustainable, it is simply a matter of HOW it stops.  This way means you get to keep your car and your boat and your motor-bike and your snow mobile and your SUV, you simply have to drive it slowly. If you own a plane, you can always  trade down to one of these....http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gossamer_Albatross

Food for thought.

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Corporate State wants us to be 'indifferent'... doing your part?

Chris Hedges [Pulitzer Prize winner] article, "Zero Point of Systemic Collapse"

https://www.adbusters.org/magazine/88/chris-hedges.html

its a little bit Orlove and a little bit Celente, and all brilliance.  IMHO this guy gets it. Brilliant!

"The philosopher Theodor Adorno wrote that the exclusive preoccupation with personal concerns and indifference to the suffering of others beyond the self-identified group is what ultimately made fascism and the Holocaust possible: “The inability to identify with others was unquestionably the most important psychological condition for the fact that something like Auschwitz could have occurred in the midst of more or less civilized and innocent people.

The indifference to the plight of others and the supreme elevation of the self is what the corporate state seeks to instill in us. It uses fear, as well as hedonism, to thwart human compassion. We will have to continue to battle the mechanisms of the dominant culture, if for no other reason than to preserve through small, even tiny acts, our common humanity. We will have to resist the temptation to fold in on ourselves and to ignore the cruelty outside our door. Hope endures in these often imperceptible acts of defiance. This defiance, this capacity to say no, is what the psychopathic forces in control of our power systems seek to eradicate. As long as we are willing to defy these forces we have a chance, if not for ourselves, then at least for those who follow. As long as we defy these forces we remain alive. And for now this is the only victory possible."

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Re: The Emperor Has No Clothes
BE wrote:

Everything he says is true! Only one problem. If all the people he says he's talking to (informed, intelligent, even brilliant) decide to take his advice and opt out of the voting process then the only ones voting will be the "livestock" he rightfully derides. So we'll all have our pride and not even a whisper of control over the herd.

You forget the pitchforks!!! :)

Samuel

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straight
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Why vote.

I am with Celente on this one.  Americans, and Australians for that matter,  seem to be presented with a choice to vote for the left or the right head of the same monster.

We need a new body to vote for.  The very real problem I can see is that the Immortals, the Corporations, now hold sway over the voting process. Not only have they corrupted the system with their profit virus and changed the mindset of the average Joe to be one of insular self interest  and self actualisation by buying stuff, they have now bought and paid for the whole damn shooting match with the decision to uncap political donations by Corporations.

The rules are made by those that turn up, we just need a new 'people friendly' choice to vote for.  If not you or I then who?

Stewart

Brisbane.

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V
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Re: The Emperor Has No Clothes

Samuel

The pen might be mightier than the sword but pitchforks are no match for an F-16

V

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