A friend of mine has a beautiful home on the top of a mountain. When a wildfire started at the base of the mountain I realized I needed to convince him that he needed to evacuate. I put together the basic materials I thought he should understand into a short 6 hour course of study:
1. What is fire?
2. Why trees and shrubs burn more easily in the summer.
a. Flora hydrobiomechanics
b. Evaporative processes in plant life
3. The nature of prevailing winds
a. Atmosphere and the earth’s rotation
b. Solar radiation
4. Wildfire dynamics – the fuel/heat/oxygen triangle
5. Modern home construction
I was about to mail off the course materials when my 12-year-old son said that he had already called our friend and that he was evacuating the area immediately. I asked him what he told him. He said, “I told him what you told me – that that the forest was really dry because of no rain and that the wind was blowing towards his house and that the fire was moving up the mountain really fast so he’d better get out.”
Okay, you get the idea. While I have a healthy appreciation of willful blindness as a personal nemesis and Congressional disease, and willfull obfuscation as a professional skill much in demand, I can’t help but think that if we are to avoid having disaster be our only teacher, we must at least begin with an analysis and explanation simple enough and powerful enough to thwart the efforts of those seeking to sow confusion. I’m reminded here of the quote from Keynes (citing Lenin!) in the Crash Course: “The process [inflation] engages all of the hidden forces of economics on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner that not one man in a million can diagnose.”
I didn’t fully understand a lot of the Crash Course, but what I did get helped me enormously. I owe much of what I believe to be my current sound financial footing to Chris Martenson, the website and this forum. That must be stated loudly. But I think a path to effective change as a nation will require a much simpler statement of the factors behind the current deterioration and impending catastrophe, something along the lines of “The 10 fundamental principles (or 9 or 7, whatever’s true) of sound economics and how their violation is destroying your life and nation.” They should be stated and the phenomena explained concisely, in language and example a 12-year-old could understand, or a decent but overwhelmed Congressman (a corrupt one will not respond to reason). A solution would be given. It would be circulated widely on the internet.
Just pretend I’m 12 (many probably think I’m talking like that anyway). Me and the kids in school are starting our own pretend country. On what fundamental economic principles must we base our economy? By the way, I run a small private school so if anyone actually wants to write “The 10 fundamental principles….” I’ll have them reviewed by the students. Whoever wins I’ll donate $100 to a charity of their choice with another $100 to Chris’s website. Probably someone has already done something like this.
Without knowledge and understanding children and adults tend not to take responsibility for their lives. Even with it they have a very hard time. Surely someone has identified the real basics that will give the average citizen some solid ground from which to begin to view and understand the stormy economic sea being created (think Jim Carry in The Truman Show) to engulf him.
Oh, man – I just found this: http://william-king.www.drexel.edu/top/prin/txt/whatare.html. By Roger A. McCain, Ph.D. Sorry, but that’s really really depressing. I guess his doctorate is in confusion. And my rant has probably bored everyone to tears. Bye.
The link at the end had a “period” which corrupts the link. Try this:
In my experience, I have been unable to achieve any real understanding with folks I discuss these issues with unless you are willing to dive in just a bit below the surface. For example, if I were to explain that peak oil is real, once the definitions are shared, I then have to combat the questions regarding why is the cost of gas so low? I heard in the MSM that there are full tankers circling the ports because we have too much. I heard a report that there was a recent find that is larger than ever before. I heard that there is enough oil in North Dakota and Canada to last my grandkids lifetimes. It takes real data and a real understanding to do the “unprogramming” that is necessary to really communicate with this person.
Same is true of the economy. How many times recently have you heard the resession is over. What about the massive increase in the stock markets? It isn’t until you truly peel back the layers of the onion do you understand what is at the core.
Now, assuming you are trying to do the programming (teaching elementary school or similar) then an open mind can be a completely different set of challenges / circumstances. Its a great question, and one that I will give some thought to. I am not aware of anyone here coming up with the 10 principals, and I honestly don’t believe we know them. To this day, there is not a single system, monetary or political, that seems to be capable of standing the test of time. It seems to me we humans are imperfect, and as such our societal structures are designed with the flaws of the designers. I think you could come up with a pretty good system for a localized government, but I struggle beyond that. Perhaps some other smarty here can enlighten us both.
You have got me thinking on “The 10 fundamental principles….”
“It may take a while…..” ( Deep thought, Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy)
ltlred (Radio Flyer I presume????) –
Nice post. Interesting analogy.
I think what Crash Course is trying to do is lay out the facts, dry brush, area prone to wildfire, uphill, etc. That’s the 3 1/2 hour explanation.
But people living on top of the hills don’t really care – oh yeah, I know, brush, Santa Ana winds, low humidity, blah, blah. But I’m not worried, the fire department will do something. They hold that thought until they see smoke and sit and wait for the fire department to show up. And while the FD is off fighting a fire somewhere, boom, wind shifts, fire comes racing up the hillside and the house is gone.
The brush has been building for years now, the humidity is low, and all it takes is some knothead to come along playing with matches and FOOM, up it goes. That’s where we are right now – except we have a whole bunch of people running around trying to do controlled burns without coordinating anything or evaluating whether or not a controlled burn will flare out of control.
The bottom line is – the conditions were right and the fire has already started – controlled burn or arson, it doesn’t matter. We can debate arson v. accident all day long but it doesn’t change the fact that the fire is burning. The only question to be asked is “Now what do we do?”
But when all is said and done, and this wildfire runs its course and burns down everything in sight, we have to start over. Hopefully there will be enough people who lost their homes who get pissed off enough to enact meaningful changes.
Now the 10 Fundamental Principles part……like Hamish said, gotta think on that one a bit.
I’ve reviewed your link. We can debate the finer points, however the principals of any economy will be complex if it is of any size whatsoever. Predicting to ebbs and flows of an economy is akin to predicting weather. Very complex, thousands of variables, and all of them need to be understood, and hopefully measured with some degree of accuracy before a true understanding can take place.
That said, I am trying to better understand what you are looking for. Pehaps you could give us an idea of how you would word the principal of money creation and distribution or some other facet of the economy that you feel comfortable describing? I assume the link you provided had too much detail?
I know Dr. M has stated on many occasions that his goal at this point is to create awareness, but maybe now its time for him to take the next step. Don’t get me wrong, he has done a marvelous job of pointing out the problems of our current system, but I think this process is mentally and emotionally draining to him personally and to us as a community.
We need a new systemic vision to work towards and we need it now.
I understand that providing this new vision would be a huge undertaking on Dr. M’s part, but who else understands our current system and its faults better than him? If the current system collapses, then it will be critical for someone to have a plan for a new system to put into action while the public is hurting and therefore the most open to change. If the current system doesn’t collapse, then all his (and our) current efforts will be in vain.
Thanks Ready, Hamish, Dogs, JAG. I’m heartened. That’s right Dogs – Radio Flyer just like Calvin’s – just hop in and unlimited adventures await you (mine were in the storm drains of San Diego). Dang I miss that comic – Watterson is brilliant.
Ready, I agree economies are enormously complex. I don’t think fundmental principles are.
JAG, you’ve certainly got my attention.
One principle has to be based on money and its relationship to goods and services. If I thought this through a bit more, and figured out how to demonstrate it with dollar bills and apples, I think I could explain it decently to a 12-year-old. My understanding would have to be much broader to show a Congressional Rep how the bill he/she is voting on violates this principle and will bring ruin. But I’d start with bringing about real understanding of the simple basic, as I know he does not truly have this understanding and without it he won’t be able to hold firm against withering and clever opposition.
Another is related to fair exchange. If I do a good job and lay more bricks than my neighbor, also a mason, I should get paid more – but I shouldn’t have to pay more to get my mail delivered just because I have more money. Agreements, contracts and personal responsibility are factors; if my neighbor contracts the job at $750 and I contract an identical job at $500, well, kudos to my neighbor. This principle (whatever it is) is easily corrupted, and dishonesty has infinite variety, but I think the fundamental principle must be simple.
This is all new to me. But I’ll study and learn from all of you and others and try to understand.
All species, including humans, must obey the laws of nature.
One of the most important laws of nature is that a species must live within its means.
Many of the means upon which humans currently depend are finite and declining.
Two of the most important indicators of living beyond one’s means are increasing debt and environmental destruction.
OK, this doesn’t communicate all the CC points, not even close, but I think this may be a type of analogy that, when used to reflect other CC messages, gets the point across quite effectively. I don’t know the source – this is just one of those cyberspace emails that gets tossed around a lot and takes on a life of its own. As for the politics in this, you will just have to set that aside for a moment and consider how these types of analogies can work.
The most eye-opening civics lesson I ever had was while teaching third grade. The presidential election was heating up and some of the children showed an interest. I decided we would have an election for a class president. We would choose our nominees. They would make a campaign speech and the class would vote.
To simplify the process, candidates were nominated by other class members. We discussed what kinds of characteristics these students should have. We got many nominations and from those, Jamie and Olivia were picked to run for the top spot.
The class had done a great job in their selections. Both candidates were good kids. I thought Jamie might have an advantage because he got lots of parental support. I had never seen Olivia’s mother. The day arrived when they were to make their speeches. Jamie went first. He had specific ideas about how to make our class a better place. He ended by promising to do his very best. Every one applauded. He sat down and Olivia came to the podium. Her speech was concise. She said, “If you will vote for me, I will give you ice cream.” She sat down. The class went wild. “Yes! Yes! We want ice cream.”
She surely would say more. She did not have to. A discussion followed. How did she plan to pay for the ice cream? She wasn’t sure. Would her parents buy it or would the class pay for it. She didn’t know. The class really didn’t care. All they were thinking about was ice cream. Jamie was forgotten. Olivia won by a land slide.
Every time Barack Obama opens his mouth he offers ice cream, and fifty percent of America reacts like nine year olds. They want ice cream. The other fifty percent know they’re going to have to feed the cow.