Great Article by Charles Hugh Smith
A couple of salient quotes:
If a nation becomes politically and economically dependent on a vast, politically powerful and politically sacrosanct industry, then that industry will continue to do what it does, regardless of conditions. If that industry is construction, then when useful construction projects dwindle, the industry will soak up billions building bridges to nowhere, fully supported by the political and financial classes.
If the industry is warfighting, then wars will manifest, with “victory” being the stated goal but utilization and expansion of assets being the actual purpose. Wars that cannot possibly be “won” in any conventional sense are the ideal means to maximize profits and the utilization of assets.
It’s nothing personal, it’s just the way things work: “It’s the only war we got.” Provide a better war and the make-work one drops away.
The war-fighting cartel is not unique. America is little more than a putrid porridge of politically powerful and politically sacrosanct cartels: Big Tech, Big Pharma, Big Ag, Big Banks, Higher Education, Sickcare, Bread and Circuses and so on. The only constants are infinite greed and near-infinite corruption and incompetence.
Until the wheels fall off, of course.
And when that happens, then we can always deploy the last refuge of failing enterprises:
… Managing narratives has replaced actually solving pressing problems. It’s now impossible in America to actually address pressing problems without stepping on the toes of one politically powerful and politically sacrosanct cartel or another, and so problems fester and multiply to the point they cannot be solved within the status quo, regardless of how many trillions are conjured and squandered.
To mask the coming collapse, narratives must be tightly controlled. Since collapse can’t be forestalled without making powerful enemies, the only politically expedient option left is to eliminate any dissent that questions the officially sanctioned happy-stories.
When a society and a state give up the search for solutions because real solutions will negatively impact politically powerful cartels, collapse is only one step away. It’s all fun and games in the unwinnable wars and simulacra reforms stage, but managing narratives isn’t the same as managing the real world, and the real world eventually crushes the happy-story narratives and those who actually believed them.
Thanks, Mike. I agree. I follow (and support) Charles Hugh Smith on Patreon, and think he has one of the best minds out there for understanding where our society is. Answer: not in a good place. I think Charles really complements and extends the work Chris and others are doing at PP. I will be traveling next week and am taking along his book “A Hacker’s Teleology”.
The time scale could be a century.
I, myself, think that collapse is only a few years away. Maybe five years, tops seven.
At the rate things are going, I’d be surprised if it takes more than a couple years. Another Afghanistan or two and our reserve currency status will evaporate overnight… That’d be the coup de grace…
You might be right.
It is impossible to name one major institution in America (government, healthcare, education, media, etc.) that is functioning in its appointed task – much less functioning well.
I have a relative who is a nurse in a major hospital. To save money and increase profits, the hospital administrators cut back dramatically on staff. The result: families of patients are so furious at the “care” received by their family members that they are physically threatening the staff.
Government, media, etc., are no better. Maybe even worse.
All we have is parasites feeding off a corpse.
Collapse is already underway. Slowly at first, then suddenly. From the US Bureau of Labor Statistics:
The Producer Price Index for final demand increased 1.0 percent in July, seasonally adjusted, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Final demand prices rose 1.0 percent in June and 0.8 percent in May. (See table A.) On an unadjusted basis, the final demand index moved up 7.8 percent for the 12 months ended in July, the largest advance since 12-month data were first calculated in November 2010. Source.
Wolf Richter reports:
Total retail sales – including at restaurants and bars, where business is booming – fell by 1.1% in July from June, to $618 billion (seasonally adjusted), according to the Commerce Department today. Retail sales without restaurants and bars fell by 1.5%; and these sales minus gas stations fell by 1.9% from June.
This isn’t adjusted for price increases. And there have been some big ones over the one-month period, for example: Prices of food bought at the store (+0.7%); at restaurants, delis, cafeterias, etc. (+0.8%); gasoline (+2.4%), new vehicles (+1.7%). This is the loss of the dollar’s purchasing power, where consumers have to pay more to get the same thing or to get even less. Source.
Wolf has also pointed out that foreign holders of US debt are not adding, so it turns out it’s being absorbed by US banks, retirement funds, and individual investors. That is, we’re buying our own debt – across the investor board – to fund our own spending spree. Source. We’re now exploring how long we can cash our own checks.
Sorry, couldn’t resist. Shows my age.