Morons

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Morons

150,000 miles of roads?!?! 1 mile of road takes 5,500 gallons of liquid asphalt. One barrel of oil produces 19.5 gallons of gas, 9.2 gallons of distillate (diesel or home heating oil) 1.3 gallons of asphalt and road oil - or 4,231 barrels of oil. So, if I have this right 150,000 x 4,231=634,650,000 barrels of oil. 

We are borrowing 50 billion to get .09 cents of every dollar borrowed added to GDP and in the process we are going to push oil prices north, dragging the cost of goods and services with it. 

LINK

While the proposal calls for investments over six years, the White House said spending would be front-loaded with an initial $50 billion to help create jobs in the near future.

The goals of the infrastructure plan include: rebuilding 150,000 miles of roads; constructing and maintaining 4,000 miles of railways, enough to go coast-to-coast; and rehabilitating or reconstructing 150 miles of airport runways, while also installing a new air navigation system designed to reduce travel times and delays.

LINK to .09 cents on the borrowed Uncle Buck gets into the economy.

Effn morons! Or as Doug Casey puts it: Letting the government borrow money is like giving a teenager a bottle of whiskey and the keys to the Corvette. 

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Re: Morons

I agree this is not a good proposal -- stupid government -- but where are the business leaders who should be pointing this out?  Why is this an issue only for internet bloggers?

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Re: Morons

 Well ya burst my bubble on thinking there was intelligent life in the Govt. World .  Surprised       Our kids will not have gas to put in the car but the roads will be smooooooth for my  pony cart !     I am taking the grandkids out to teach them to hook up the rig  !

 FM . 

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Re: Morons
r wrote:

I agree this is not a good proposal -- stupid government -- but where are the business leaders who should be pointing this out?  Why is this an issue only for internet bloggers?

I know many - all are bloggers: Chris Martenson (former Fortune 300 VP), Jim Puplava (Broker and Internet Talk Show Host & Blogger) to name 2.

The majority of business leaders rape and pillage companies, get paid 260 times more than the average employee, sends work to an emerging country so that workers here can compete against some poor person making 2 bucks a day - holding our wages down. We have economic imbeciles who fall asleep in meetings advising some moron who has never run anything in the White House. Well if you consider running a country into the ground I'll have to eat those words. You have a moron at the Fed who studied the Great Depression of the 1930's and hasn't an inkling as to what caused it. He taught and ran nothing but is aiding in running the country into the ground.

You have a room with economic elephants [email protected] on us and the majority of people don't want to see them - thinking if they ignore the problem tomorrow will be no different then yesterday and what worked 30 years ago will work today despite the fact that the planet now has about 6.5 billion people all vying for the same finite limited resources.

So, short answer: Common sense isn't all to common and most business leaders are morons. Oh, you can add the CEO of Intel to the list of good eggs, he is outraged that our colleges still teach and our government still buys into Keynesian Economic BS.

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Re: Morons

The entire situation is very frustrating.....Knowing there are going to be Major issues, just not knowing timelines. Then watching the 'powers' that be make stupid decision after stupid decision........

 

BAHHHHHHHHHH

By the way, I love the title Davos, I knew it had to be you, LOL

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Re: Morons

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Re: Morons
Davos wrote:

150,000 miles of roads?!?! 1 mile of road takes 5,500 gallons of liquid asphalt. One barrel of oil produces 19.5 gallons of gas, 9.2 gallons of distillate (diesel or home heating oil) 1.3 gallons of asphalt and road oil - or 4,231 barrels of oil. So, if I have this right 150,000 x 4,231=634,650,000 barrels of oil. 

We are borrowing 50 billion to get .09 cents of every dollar borrowed added to GDP and in the process we are going to push oil prices north, dragging the cost of goods and services with it. 

LINK

While the proposal calls for investments over six years, the White House said spending would be front-loaded with an initial $50 billion to help create jobs in the near future.

The goals of the infrastructure plan include: rebuilding 150,000 miles of roads; constructing and maintaining 4,000 miles of railways, enough to go coast-to-coast; and rehabilitating or reconstructing 150 miles of airport runways, while also installing a new air navigation system designed to reduce travel times and delays.

LINK to .09 cents on the borrowed Uncle Buck gets into the economy.

Effn morons! Or as Doug Casey puts it: Letting the government borrow money is like giving a teenager a bottle of whiskey and the keys to the Corvette. 

Based on what you've said asphalt is a by product of oil refining. As it is a by product it be produced regardless of general crude oil usage, and not use crude............

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Re: Morons
Diogenknees wrote:

 

Based on what you've said asphalt is a by product of oil refining. As it is a by product it be produced regardless of general crude oil usage, and not use crude............

Just wait: You'll see. China is mimicking how we built our economy - cars, cars & cars. We aren't the only one that will be doing roads. I'm no oil expert and it has been years since I read about refining, but I'm pretty certain I recall that they can step up production on this product and it'll drive demand north.

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Re: Morons

iDoctor: I might be related to that guy. Thanks, funny! That1Guy: LOL - none other!

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Re: Morons
idoctor wrote:

idoctor

Did Davos put you up to displaying this video he made?  Either that or someone is channeling Davos.  Cool

For another perspective check out this classic science fiction story from 1951, The Marching Morons.  The premise is that the elite are slaving away to keep the moronic masses cared for, and losing the struggle.

About the story. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Marchin...

Here is a free download. http://www.ebookstack.com/content/marchi...

The writing is pretty crude, so you may not want to wade through the whole thing, but it is an interesting concept.

Travlin 

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Re: Morons
Davos wrote:

150,000 miles of roads?!?! 1 mile of road takes 5,500 gallons of liquid asphalt. One barrel of oil produces 19.5 gallons of gas, 9.2 gallons of distillate (diesel or home heating oil) 1.3 gallons of asphalt and road oil - or 4,231 barrels of oil. So, if I have this right 150,000 x 4,231=634,650,000 barrels of oil. 

We are borrowing 50 billion to get .09 cents of every dollar borrowed added to GDP and in the process we are going to push oil prices north, dragging the cost of goods and services with it. 

LINK

While the proposal calls for investments over six years, the White House said spending would be front-loaded with an initial $50 billion to help create jobs in the near future.

The goals of the infrastructure plan include: rebuilding 150,000 miles of roads; constructing and maintaining 4,000 miles of railways, enough to go coast-to-coast; and rehabilitating or reconstructing 150 miles of airport runways, while also installing a new air navigation system designed to reduce travel times and delays.

LINK to .09 cents on the borrowed Uncle Buck gets into the economy.

Effn morons! Or as Doug Casey puts it: Letting the government borrow money is like giving a teenager a bottle of whiskey and the keys to the Corvette. 

Hi Davos, I hope you do not mind a respectful challenge to your post. Firstly, the way you present the conversion from barrels of oil to gallons of asphalt, is to me, misleading. I have no idea if the math is correct, or even if the roadbed material is to be asphalt but any petroleum constituent for a roadbed project will not likely require additional refinery capability, as the primary refinery commitment is for gasoline, of which we consume about 20mm gallons per day. My point is this quantity, if correct, could be recovered from existing production depending upon current supply/demand curves for asphalt.

So we won’t be drilling 635mm barrels of oil to support this project, we would be diverting existing production for asphalt, which should be pretty easy given the abrupt drop off of construction projects over the last 18 months.

I also looked at the data for the jobs/value calculation, and I see something quite different. Yes, averaged over the entire US the data says the job cost is $117k per job, but looking more closely at the numbers, there is clear correlation between the largest (in dollars) state recipient (New York) and the cost per job, which for NY, is  $47k per job. Would this not be an indicator for potential ROI, and in fact would not reasonable people attempt to scale this and build from here towards efficiency?

http://knowledge.wpcarey.asu.edu/article.cfm?articleid=1857

To go on, I understand that this is “supposed” to be deficit neutral, funded by repealing tax cuts for the oil companies. This of course remains to be seen, but that is the claim. Given deficit neutral- what exactly is the downside?

Now, here is where my history is fuzzy, perhaps someone can help. But my recollection of the Great Depression’s history was that it was widely agreed that the Keynesian strategy of stimulus spending would have worked, except that it was prematurely truncated by conservative political pressure and the effects worsened significantly. Most economists and historians seem to agree on this point? Or am I misinformed?

Further, Roosevelt put in place the New Deal, a component of which was various public works projects.

(I am aware there are competing “revisionist” views as to the success of the New Deal, but by and large, most non-partisan scholars concede many parts of the New Deal were effective)

The CWA's four million workers laid 12 million feet of sewer pipe and built or improved 255,000 miles of roads, 40,000 schools, 3,700 playgrounds, and nearly 1,000 airports (not to mention 250,000 outhouses still badly needed in rural America).[1] The program was praised by Alf Landon, who later ran against Roosevelt in the 1936 election.[1]

Representative of the work in one city worthy accomplishments in less than five months, from November 1933 to March 1934, in Grand Forks County, North Dakota. It put 2,392 unemployed workers on its payroll at a cost of about $250,000. When the CWA began in eastern North Dakota, it could hire only 480 workers out of 1,500 who registered for jobs. Projects undertaken included work on city utility systems, public buildings, parks, and roads. Rural areas profited, with most labor being directed to roads and community schools. CWA officials gave preference to veterans with dependents, but considerable political favoritism determined which North Dakotans got jobs[2].

And:

The Works Progress Administration (renamed during 1939 as the Work Projects Administration; WPA) was the largest New Deal agency, employing millions to carry out public works projects, including the construction of public buildings and roads, and operated large arts, drama, media, and literacy projects. It fed children and redistributed food, clothing, and housing. Almost every community in the United States had a park, bridge or school constructed by the agency, which especially benefited rural and Western populations. Expenditures from 1936 to 1939 totaled nearly $7 billion.[1]

Created by order of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the WPA was funded by Congress with passage of the Emergency Relief Appropriation Act of 1935 on April 8, 1935. The legislation had passed in the House of Representatives by a margin of 329 to 78, but was delayed by the Senate.[1]

The WPA continued and extended relief programs similar to the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC), which was established by Congress in 1932 during the administration of Roosevelt's predecessor Herbert Hoover. Headed by Harry Hopkins, the WPA provided jobs and income to the unemployed during the Great Depression in the United States. Between 1935 and 1943, the WPA provided almost eight million jobs.[2]

Until ended by Congress and war employment during 1943, the WPA was the largest employer in the country. Most people who needed a job were eligible for at least some of its jobs.[3] Hourly wages were the prevailing wages in each area; the rules said workers could not work more than 30 hours a week, but many projects included months in the field, with workers eating and sleeping on worksites. Before 1940, there was some training involved to teach new skills and the project's original legislation had a strong emphasis on training.

So this is how our country dealt with a past Depression, but to read this thread, well, I am a little put off by the negativity and what I consider shoot from the hip piling on the bash Obama bandwagon.

So some questions arise in my mind, blasphemous as they may be:

1.)  What was the WPA contribution towards future productivity of business in general, and the country as a whole after the New Deal was wound down? Is it not more than a little short sighted to try and cross over job creation costs by simply dividing the jobs by the stimulus amount. Is the work product really zero?

2.)  Assuming these “projects” are not mere busy work, and need doing, how else are they going to get done? And who pays for it?

3.)  Instead of chortling about the inevitable busy work and wasteful enterprise that will no doubt surface, why not start dialogue listing good uses for such labor with high downstream payoffs for future productivity and competitiveness?

4.)  Is this not a opportunity to try and get some infrastructure rebuilt or upgraded? I own a business, and when times get slow, you redeploy people to remedial/repair activities that will enhance efficiencies when times are good again. Where is this type of thinking in today’s political climate, and why are bloggers not bringing this to the forefront? This commentary should be part and parcel of any discussion rather than the rush to criticize while offering not only no solutions, but roundly discrediting any efforts to put forth solutions.

 

 

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Re: Morons

Hello DarbiKrash: I'm re-writing this, I don't like my last response.

Basically we have structural problems effecting the economy: Debt that can't be covered with revenues and borrowing so Moron Bernanke is debasing our dollar by printing what can't be taken in with taxes and borrowed from China. This creates a weaker dollar and the Fed has taken away 95% of our purchasing power.

To do anything that creates more debt is @ssinine, especially when only .09 cents of every dollar of stim borrowed (and it is all borrowed) makes it into the economy.

To pay for this @ssinine debt the average American works from January to August 15th to pay Uncle Scam. That leaves him 4.5 months to pay for a mortgage, a car, clothes, food an consume. Moron Obama's economic moron advisors want more debt to get .09 cents bang for the buck?

The economy needs more consumers, adding a few jobs at the risk of increasing oil demand won't help 22% unemployment. It will increase taxes and it will reduce the 4.5 months the consumer (who is lucky enough to work) gets to spend on things other than Uncle Scam.

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Re: Morons

Thank you for the response Davos- I gather I should leave this line of questioning aside.

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Re: Morons

I'm kind of at the this point of throwing my hands up...why not just spend and spend so the whole house of cards comes falling down sooner? Then we can just get this American collapse over with and move on to the next America...

However, there's one thing and one thing only I'd like them to spend money on - developing viable alternatives to oil. Anything else - especially roads - is a waste of money and resources at this point. 

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Re: Morons
darbikrash wrote:

Thank you for the response Davos- I gather I should leave this line of questioning aside.

DarbiKrash: Sorry, I'm just entirely closed minded on some issues. No offense. In fact, I hope you are correct and I'm wrong. Take care.

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Re: Morons
soulsurfersteph wrote:

I'm kind of at the this point of throwing my hands up...why not just spend and spend so the whole house of cards comes falling down sooner? Then we can just get this American collapse over with and move on to the next America...

However, there's one thing and one thing only I'd like them to spend money on - developing viable alternatives to oil. Anything else - especially roads - is a waste of money and resources at this point. 

SoulSurferSteph: IMO we are insolvent. Bernanke is counterfeiting the difference of what we take in added to what we borrow subtracted from what we pay out.

Countries in this predicament have one option - Bankruptcy. Once these morons own up to this and carry it out we can shed the debt and IF we reorganize (read: don't get in this mess again, slash government borrowing and move jobs back here) we'll be better off.

I'm optimistic we  could turn our problems into our solutions.

But IMO (and others are welcome to theirs) I've seen nothing that demonstrates we are going to be doing this on our own. My hunch is that when Bernanke et al destroy the value of the dollar we'll shed the debt by issuing a new dollar. 

In the end the process is the same. The only difference is one is planned and one is done in a crisis. 

Some argue they are covertly destroying it and know what is going to happen. Personally I don't give them that much of an IQ.

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Re: Morons

I would like to suggest a different lens through which to view the actions of these people who are referred to as "morons". 

I found myself very frustrated until not long ago. How can the people 'in charge' mess up and do things so poorly all the time? It just did not make sense. IQ is not a factor. They have advanced degrees from respected institutions and speak elequently on the tv box. This obvious shortcomming in practically every person with power in our society constantly caused a painful cognitive dissidence. I came to understand they are not trying to solve the problem. Actually, the fact that they benefit at our expense is a big part of the problem itself.

In my view, they are actually quite clever. They are managing to maintain a system which rewards them, and those they serve, quite well. It happens that none of us are the ones being rewarded by their criminal enterprises. Despite claims to the contrary, there are practically no representatives of your or my interests in the halls of power. People joke/refer to this regularly. Few realize the extent of the corruption. It is complete.

Once I came to understand they are not trying to do anything to help the common person, restore an equitable market, protect anyones hard earned wealth, or create a just, sustainable, or even desirable society, my confusion and worry subsided.

Having answered the question of why they behaive this way, I am led inexorably to the more fulfilling quest - what to do about it.

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Re: Morons
jhelge wrote:

...  I came to understand they are not trying to solve the problem. Actually, the fact that they benefit at our expense is a big part of the problem itself.

In my view, they are actually quite clever. They are managing to maintain a system which rewards them, and those they serve, quite well. It happens that none of us are the ones being rewarded by their criminal enterprises. Despite claims to the contrary, there are practically no representatives of your or my interests in the halls of power. People joke/refer to this regularly. Few realize the extent of the corruption. It is complete.

Once I came to understand they are not trying to do anything to help the common person, restore an equitable market, protect anyones hard earned wealth, or create a just, sustainable, or even desirable society, my confusion and worry subsided.

Having answered the question of why they behaive this way, I am led inexorably to the more fulfilling quest - what to do about it.

Very well said Jhelge.  I've recently arrived at the same destination myself.  I haven't gotten very far on the "what to do about it" part.  Reading this site and participating in the forums is helpful though.

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Re: Morons
jhelge wrote:

In my view, they are actually quite clever. They are managing to maintain a system which rewards them, and those they serve, quite well.

I don't think they are managing to maintain that system. Like a parasite who overdoes it with the host it needs to survice is the way I see it. In my book, with or without my glasses - that falls under the moronic column of the ledger.

If they hold it together somehow I'll eat my words. But this thing is like a hollywood set. A facade, nothing on the inside, ready to topple over. 

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Re: What to do About "IT"

One thing for sure, TPTB, be they morons or geniuses, they do not care about anybody but their like.  TPTB don't care about us, we the people.  You and I are all expendable...by what any method or devise of destruction...be it wars, famine or disease or dividing and conquering we the people my making us enemies of each other and destroy ourselves for them. 

You can start by joining the END THE FED movement.  Nothing can or will change until the main root of the problem is pulled out of the ground once and for all.  We must get rid of the Cabal of money makers and the money takers...the central bankers and the governments to which they loan (through the fake process of government bonds).  END THE FED. 

Change banking completely from a business that loans money at interest to one that only stores our decided real value wealth and make money by charging the fees for only the storage.  End fractional reserve banking.  The types of banking systems we have now are designed to benefit only a few...because it is actually a Cabal...and then there's the brilliant stroke of inflation...the HIDDEN TAX.  If they aren't morons they are certainly playing the poor old common folk as suckers. 

The modern banking system is the farthest thing from any system of money that could be found to exist in a truly capitalistic economic system.  Therefore for those of us that go around talking about the failure of capitalism it must be by now realized that for a system to fail, or to fall, it must be a system that's in place or standing up in the first place.  What we're seeing is not the end of capitalism but the ending of a Ponzi scheme...on the biggest scale.   This is organized crime at its best.  What we're seeing makes the Godfather look like the Three Stooges.  And baby, you ain't seen nothing yet!! 

But Americans romanticize, fantasize about the Godfather lifestyle...it really makes me wonder if on some level deep down inside, everyone wants to be the Godfather...wouldn't that be great?  But America is truly SOFT ON CRIME.  Otherwise we wouldn't be in this mess.  Like I said, divide and conquer.  Put the wrong people in jail and prison. 

Told yourself you're too smart to fall for a Ponzi scheme...you couldn't be taken that way.  well guess what...we ALL have been.  Except for the few of us so far now that have opened our eyes and are seeing the true origins of our monetary problems.  END THE FED.  Because it is ending US.

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Re: Morons
Davos wrote:

I don't think they are managing to maintain that system. Like a parasite who overdoes it with the host it needs to survice is the way I see it. In my book, with or without my glasses - that falls under the moronic column of the ledger.

A few years ago, I would sometimes joke, not quite seriously, that if there were an Illuminati, I didn't mind as long as they kept the masses fat and happy and let us have what seemed to be freedom and opportunity in our lives. If they wanted to skim off the top and pull some strings to feel "powerful," fine by me.

But once the parasite starts destroying the host, then you have a problem...

 

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Re: Morons
Davos wrote:

I don't think they are managing to maintain that system. Like a parasite who overdoes it with the host it needs to survice is the way I see it. In my book, with or without my glasses - that falls under the moronic column of the ledger.

A few years ago, I would sometimes joke, not quite seriously, that if there were an Illuminati, I didn't mind as long as they kept the masses fat and happy and let us have what seemed to be freedom and opportunity in our lives. If they wanted to skim off the top and pull some strings to feel "powerful," fine by me.

But once the parasite starts destroying the host, then you have a problem...

 

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Re: Morons

 

If we want to start labeling, then let's not forget to be equal-opportunity. If you want, we can go back and point out the big fiscal mismanagements of Moron Bush, Jr., Moron Clinton, Moron Bush, Sr., Moron Reagan, etc. And of course Moron Bernanke and Moron Greenspan, Moron Geithner and Moron Paulson.

Poet

 

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Re: Morons

The elite that you label "morons" are doing what elites confronted with imperial collapse have always done -- try to keep stripping wealth from the periphery for the benefit of the imperial center at all possible costs.  What we are now facing is the shrinking of that periphery which will, predictably, result in more demands being placed upon the domestic population within the new periphery -- particularly in the forms of increased and more regressive taxation combined with ongoing attempts to saddle people with more debt.  Also quite telling is the way in which they are desparately trying to restart the revolving debt consumption economy through the use of neverending propaganda.

Jim Puplava recently interviewed Nicole Foss (Stoneleigh) of The Automatic Earth on his podcast where she discussed this phenomenon in detail.  A major point she made is how bailouts are never for the little guy -- they are always made to help out the big players.  The $8000 new homeowner tax credit was a pittance compared to the windfall for mortgage initiators and securities in saddling even more people with hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt at interest.  Likewise, Cash-for-Clunkers may have offered people $4000 for buying a new car, but in the end they were saddled with $15-20k of debt at interest in order to finance that new car. 

What we may be moving toward is a period not terribly unlike the Dominate of Diocletian during the latter days of the Roman Empire, in which the remaining "capital" of the empire was squeezed and cannibalized to a degree never before imagined in order to support and maintain the luxuries and privileges of the imperial center.  The end result of those policies was that peasants saw it as more beneficial to them to abandon their farmland and join the barbarians -- receiving protection from them in the process -- rather than remain under the yoke of Roman taxation for a benefit of protection that was tenable at best, non-existent at worst.  For an in-depth description of how this all played out in Rome, I highly suggest Joseph Tainter's The Collapse of Complex Societies.  Puplava said he interviewed Tainter recently and that he's coming out with an updated version of his wonderful archeological/historical study -- but leave it to yourself to draw your own parallels between past collapses and what is happening now.

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Re: Morons
Poet wrote:

 

If we want to start labeling, then let's not forget to be equal-opportunity. If you want, we can go back and point out the big fiscal mismanagements of Moron Bush, Jr., Moron Clinton, Moron Bush, Sr., Moron Reagan, etc. And of course Moron Bernanke and Moron Greenspan, Moron Geithner and Moron Paulson.

Poet

 

agreed, and I go back beyond them! In my simple mind 1913 was the year a lot of stuff went to heck in the hand basket.

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Re: Morons
Musings_from_the_Fringe wrote:

The elite that you label "morons" are doing what elites confronted with imperial collapse have always done -- try to keep stripping wealth from the periphery for the benefit of the imperial center at all possible costs.  What we are now facing is the shrinking of that periphery which will, predictably, result in more demands being placed upon the domestic population within the new periphery -- particularly in the forms of increased and more regressive taxation combined with ongoing attempts to saddle people with more debt.  Also quite telling is the way in which they are desparately trying to restart the revolving debt consumption economy through the use of neverending propaganda.

Jim Puplava recently interviewed Nicole Foss (Stoneleigh) of The Automatic Earth on his podcast where she discussed this phenomenon in detail.  A major point she made is how bailouts are never for the little guy -- they are always made to help out the big players.  The $8000 new homeowner tax credit was a pittance compared to the windfall for mortgage initiators and securities in saddling even more people with hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt at interest.  Likewise, Cash-for-Clunkers may have offered people $4000 for buying a new car, but in the end they were saddled with $15-20k of debt at interest in order to finance that new car. 

What we may be moving toward is a period not terribly unlike the Dominate of Diocletian during the latter days of the Roman Empire, in which the remaining "capital" of the empire was squeezed and cannibalized to a degree never before imagined in order to support and maintain the luxuries and privileges of the imperial center.  The end result of those policies was that peasants saw it as more beneficial to them to abandon their farmland and join the barbarians -- receiving protection from them in the process -- rather than remain under the yoke of Roman taxation for a benefit of protection that was tenable at best, non-existent at worst.  For an in-depth description of how this all played out in Rome, I highly suggest Joseph Tainter's The Collapse of Complex Societies.  Puplava said he interviewed Tainter recently and that he's coming out with an updated version of his wonderful archeological/historical study -- but leave it to yourself to draw your own parallels between past collapses and what is happening now.

I listened to that SL interview on FSN. I also listened to the Barbarian one on King where the case for the collapse of Rome was made to be financial.

I agree, but even in the case of Rome they were morons because too much stripping removes the ability for them to stay in power and if they don't flee in wealth. I'd advocate that greed can make smart people morons.

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Re: Morons

Davos wrote:

I agree, but even in the case of Rome they were morons because too much stripping removes the ability for them to stay in power and if they don't flee in wealth. I'd advocate that greed can make smart people morons.

Not to be too blunt, Davos, but I think your desire to simplify this issue into characterizing the elite as "morons" is highly counterproductive, because it doesn't recognize the way in which almost ALL of the beneficiaries of modern civilization at all levels (excluding the very poor, of course, because they are the "periphery" being sucked dry for the benefit of the "center")  are invested in maintaining the status quo to a large degree.  Most importantly, it completely ignores the impact of mass psychology, and how it prevents complex societies from controlling their collapse once it becomes inevitable, instead condemining them to a more chaotic descent.

In any event, I think that the following excerpt from Ugo Bardi's Peak Civilization: The Fall of the Roman Empire can offer some insight into the psychology behind the status quo, and why elites may appear to be "morons" when, in fact, they are acting in very predictable ways:

Avoiding Collapse

From our viewpoint, we see what was the history of the Roman Empire. But, from inside, as we saw, it wasn't clear at all. But let's assume that someone had it clear, already at the time of Marcus Aurelius. I said that there might have been something like an ASPE; "association for the study of peak empire". Or let's imagine that a wise man, a Druid from foggy Britannia, an ancestor of Merlin the wise, was smart enough to figure out what was going on. You don't really need computers to make dynamical models, or maybe this druid made one using wooden cogs and wheels, the whole thing powered by slaves. So, let's say that this druid understood that the troubles of the Empire are caused by a combination of negative feedbacks and that these feedbacks come from the cost of the army and of the bureaucracy, the overexploitation of the fertile soil, the fact that Rome had exhausted the "easy" targets for conquest.

Now, it is a tradition of Druids (and also of ASPO) of alerting kings and rulers of the dangers ahead. After all, Merlin did that for King Arthur and we may imagine that the druid we are thinking of felt that it was his duty to do that with Emperor Marcus Aurelius. So, he decides to go to Rome and speak to the Emperor. Suppose you were that druid; what would you say to the Emperor?

Good question, right? I have asked it to myself many times. We could think of many ways of answering it. For instance, if gold is running out from the Empire's coffers, why not suggest to the Emperor to mount a naval expedition to the Americas? It is what Columbus would do, more than a millennium afterwards and the result was the Spanish empire - it was also based on gold and it didn't last for long. Maybe the Romans could have done something like that. But they didn't have the right technology to cross the oceans and, at the time of Marcus Aurelius, they had run out of the resources to develop it. So, they had to remain in Europe and to come to terms with the limits of the area they occupied. The Empire had to return its economy within these limits. So, there is only one thing that you, as the wise Druid from Britannia, can tell the Emperor: you have to return within the limits that the Empire's economy can sustain.

So you walk to Rome - kind of a long walk from Eburacum, in Britannia; a place that today we call "York". You are preceded by your fame of wise man and so the Emperor receives you in his palace. You face him, and you tell him what you have found:

"Emperor, the empire is doomed. If you don't do something now, it will collapse in a few decades"

The Emperor is perplexed, but he is a patient man. He is a philosopher after all. So he won't have your head chopped off right away, as other emperors would, but he asks you, "But why, wise druid, do you say that?"

"Emperor, " you say, "you are spending too much money for legions and fortifications. The gold accumulated in centuries of conquests is fast disappearing and you can't pay enough legionnaires to defend the borders. In addition, you are putting too much strain on agriculture: the fertile soil is being eroded and lost. Soon, there won't be enough food for the Romans. And, finally, you are oppressing people with too much bureaucracy, which is also too expensive."

Again, the Emperor considers having your head chopped off, but he doesn't order that. You have been very lucky in hitting on a philosopher-emperor. So he asks you, "Wise druid, there may be some truth in what you say, but what should I do?"

"Emperor, first you need to plant trees. the land needs rest. In time, trees will reform the fertile soil."

"But, druid, if we plant trees, we won't have enough food for the people."

"Nobody will starve if the patricians renounce to some of their luxuries!"

"Well, Druid, I see your point but it won't be easy....."

"And you must reduce the number of legions and abandon the walls!"

"But, but.... Druid, if we do that, the barbarians will invade us....."

"It is better now than later. Now you can still keep enough troops to defend the cities. Later on, it will be impossible. It is sustainable defense."

"Sustainable?"

"Yes, it means defense that you can afford. You need to turn the legions into city militias and..."

"And...?"

"You must spend less for the Imperial Bureaucracy. The Imperial taxes are too heavy! You must work together with the people, not oppress them! Plant trees, disband the army, work together!"

Now, Emperor Marcus Aurelius seriously considers whether it is appropriate to have your head chopped off, after all. Then, since he is a good man, he sends to you back to Eburacum under heavy military escort, with strict orders that you should never come to Rome again.

This is a little story about something that never happened but that closely mirrors what happened to the modern druids who were the authors of "The Limits to Growth." They tried to tell to the world's rulers of their times something not unlike what our fictional druid tried to tell to Emperor Marcus Aurelius. The heads of the authors of "The Limits to Growth" weren't chopped off, but they were surely "academically decapitated" so to say. They were completely ignored. Not just ignored, ridiculed and vituperated. It is not easy to be a druid.

So, here we found another similarity between our times and the Roman ones. We are subjected to the "fish in the water" curse. We don't understand that we are surrounded by water. And we don't want to be told that water exists.

As things stands, we seem to be blithely following the same path that the Roman Empire followed. Our leaders are unable to understand complex systems and continue to implement solutions that worsen the problem. As the wise druid was trying to tell to Marcus Aurelius, building walls to keep the barbarians out was a loss of resources that was worse than useless. But I can see the politicians of the time running on a platform that said, "Keep the barbarians out! More walls to defend the empire". It is the same for us. Tell a politician that we are in trouble with crude oil and he/she will immediately say "drill deeper!" or "drill, baby, drill!" Negative feedback kills.

But I would like to point out to you something: let's go back to what our fictional druid was telling to Emperor Aurelius. He had this slogan "Plant trees, disband the army and work together". I had invented it in a post that I had written on the collapse of Tuscan society in 16th century; it is another story but one that shows how all societies follow similar paths. Anyway, can you see what kind of world the Druid was proposing to the Emperor? Think about that for a moment: a world of walled cities defended by city militias, no central authority or a weak one, an economy based on agriculture.

Do you see it.....? Sure, it is Middle Ages! Think about that for a moment and you'll see that you could define Middle Ages as a solution for the problems of the Roman Empire!

So, our Druid had seen the future and was describing it to Emperor Aurelius. He had seen the solution of the problems of Empire: Middle Ages. It was where the Empire was going and where it could not avoid going. What the Druid was proposing was to go there in a controlled way. Ease the transition, don't fight it! If you know where you are going, you can travel in style and comfort. If you don't, well, it will be a rough ride.

We may imagine a hypothetical "driven transition" in which the government of the Roman Empire at the time of Marcus Aurelius would have done exactly that: abandon the walls, reduce the number of legion and transform them into city militias, reduce bureaucracy and Imperial expenses, delocalize authority, reduce the strain on agriculture: reforest the land. The transition would not have been traumatic and would have involved a lower loss of complexity: books, skills, works of art and much more could have been saved and passed to future generations.

All that is, of course, pure fantasy. Even for a Roman Emperor, disbanding the legions couldn't be easy. After all, the name "Emperor" comes from the Latin word "imperator" that simply means "commander". The Roman Emperor was a military commander and the way to be Emperor was to please the legions that the Emperor commanded. A Roman Emperor who threatened to disband the legions wouldn't have been very popular and, most likely, he was to be a short lived Emperor. So, Emperors couldn't have done much even if they had understood system dynamics. In practice, they spent most of their time trying to reinforce the army by having as many legions as they could. Emperors, and the whole Roman world, fought as hard as they could to keep the status quo ante , to keep things as they had always been. After the 3rd century crisis, Emperor Diocletian resurrected the Empire transforming it into something that reminds us of the Soviet Union at the time of Breznev. An oppressive dictatorship that included a suffocating bureaucracy, heavy taxes for the citizens, and a heavy military apparatus. It was such a burden for the Empire that it destroyed it utterly in little more than a century.

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Davos
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Re: Morons

All great points. However decimating a system for greed in my book will never even be ranked as mediocre. 

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Re: Morons

Travlin's picture
Travlin
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Re: Morons

Idoctor

Have we had a thread on this?  Is this different than the 1099 reporting requirement that Machinehead started a thread about?

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idoctor
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Posts: 1731
Re: Morons

Travlin quote:Have we had a thread on this?  Is this different than the 1099 reporting requirement that Machinehead started a thread about?

Travlin we may have? I usually like Charlie Gasparino but he seems like a moron in this case.....

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