Unsustainable systems, by definition, eventually break down.

That’s been a key warning we at Peak Prosperity have been delivering for over a decade regarding the over-indebted global economy, society’s addiction to depleting fossil fuels, and accelerating ecological destruction.

The coronavirus pandemic has placed such intense and unexpected strain on this unstable house of cards that its odds of toppling sooner have increased substantially. Few people understand this better — from the historic job destruction impacting tens of millions to the social anger starting to boil over — than James Howard Kunstler.

His new book Living In The Long Emergency (which builds on its classic predecessor) not only predicted what’s happening now, but lays out what life in the aftermath will be like and how to best position for it today.

And yet, while the status quo still reigns as things worsen, those in power refuse to recognize the risks. In fact, they’re doubling down on the same strategies that have undermined the system — ignorant that when it breaks, it will be to their peril, too:

We’re seeing the kind of feckless behavior that you see from the elite in just about every wobbling empire or wobbling civilization that’s come along. They develop a strange kind of a short-sided fecklessness that is amazing.

But what’s even more amazing is that you think that the public in general — especially all the people who just got laid off from jobs which will never come back — you’d think that those people would be getting just a bit ticked off about the fact that the Dow Jones goes up every day. But there’s very little public expression of that.

It took the death of a black man in Minneapolis in a particularly ugly way to stimulate a certain kind of uproar in America. You’d think that at least some kind of uproar would be stimulated by this divergence between the unreality of the stock market and the harsh reality of people losing their incomes, their jobs and their futures. And yet it’s not present.

The shamelessness of it is just staggering. You’d think that Jay Powell would try to make the stock market go down for three days in a row just so the people, you know, wouldn’t get the idea that it only goes up.

You can make arguments that it’s not going to go up forever and that there will be some kind of a reckoning over that. And the time will come when the hedge funders and the employees of BlackRock Finance and K Street lobbyists are going to wake up some morning and find out that they’re not as wealthy as they thought they were.

Click the play button below to listen to Chris’ interview with James Howard Kunstler (64m:20s).

Other Ways To Listen: iTunes | Google Play | SoundCloud | Stitcher | YouTube | Download |

Transcript

Chris Martenson: Hello, everyone. This is Chris Martenson of Peak Prosperity here with another podcast for you today. We’re going to be talking with James Howard Kuntsler and we are going to be discussing this very timely, very relevant book. We got Living in the Long Emergency: Global Crisis, The Failure of the Futurists and the Early Adaptors Who are Showing Us the Way Forward. It’s more relevant than ever.

And we’re going to be discussing current events of which there are many because we’re recording this here on the morning of I guess it’s June 1st today.

James Howard Kuntsler: Yeah.

Chris Martenson: And we’ve had just a week of riots in the United States.

So, Jim?

James Howard Kuntsler: Yeah.

Chris Martenson: Welcome to the program.

James Howard Kuntsler: Pleasure to be with you, Chris.

Chris Martenson: All right, well, I see we get a secret peak into your bunker/your secret lair.

James Howard Kuntsler: My man cave, yeah. You know, I’m in a basement office, but it’s got a walkout to the back of the house. And there are a lot of fruit trees out there and the chickens are out there.

So, you know, it’s not completely a cave. But, you know, it’s probably not the ideal office. It seems to me every office I’ve ever had has been less than the ideal office, but I somehow manage to crank it out anyway.

Chris Martenson: Yeah. Well, I think my probably most productive, but least impressive office was the tent I wrote The Crash Course in up in Maine one summer.

James Howard Kuntsler: Dang!

Chris Martenson: I had a little driftwood table I nailed together literally and--

James Howard Kuntsler: Yeah.

Chris Martenson: --kept my laptop charged up on a little solar panel. And yeah, you know, for a writer, I don’t know. You don’t need much.

James Howard Kuntsler: Well, I wrote a book called The City in Mind once on one of those palmtop computers where, you know, it was like you have to type like this?

(Demonstrates)

Chris Martenson: Yeah.

James Howard And in an Adirondack cabin without electricity in the rain.

Kuntsler:

Chris Martenson: There it is!

James Howard Kuntsler: So, yeah, I’m familiar with that mode of composition.

Chris Martenson: Yeah. Yeah, well, let’s pick up right now to what’s going on in the world, Covid. How’ve you been managing the whole pandemic so far? What’s been going on for you?

James Howard

Kuntsler:Well, I’ve been managing it first of all, by not getting sick knock on wood. I’m not really sure, you know. I must confess. I find a lot of the information that comes by me to be pretty confounding and confusing, you know.

I have been listening to your broadcasts about it and, you know, I understand the science pretty much. But I live in such a remote part of the country. Well, you kind of do too now.

Chris Martenson: Yeah.

James Howard Kuntsler: But, you know, I’m in flyover land. And, you know, you don’t hear much/see much about it and it’s a little bit of a remote monster actually.

So, you know, that’s how I feel about it despite the fact that I know that, you know, people are getting it who are not necessarily in nursing homes and that, you know, it’s bad news. I’m not sure where we go with this next though because I suppose the next stop is that, you know, we’ll have all these people breaking the lockdown, and going out, and doing normal things, and doing abnormal things like rioting.

And, you know, two weeks from now, we’re liable to see a bit of an uptake in the disease I think. Would you?

Chris Martenson: Yeah. And if we don’t, it’s going to mean that this disease has somehow come and gone in some mysterious way.

James Howard Kuntsler: Yeah.

Chris Martenson: Barring that--

James Howard Kuntsler: I mean, I see weird news items to the effect I think there was one that came out of Europe the other day that suggested in Italy that the disease was mysteriously losing its potency. But I mean, that’s another one of those things like do you really believe it or what, you know.

Chris Martenson: Well, it looks like they have (SP) a lot because I think there was just something ridiculous like 9,000 people in Colorado all lying down and, you know, saying “I can’t breathe” all right near each other. And so, the things that we’ve learned thanks to several churches is singing, shouting. Those are the sorts of things that really spread this thing.

James Howard

Kuntsler:Yeah.

Chris Martenson: So, I would imagine these protests would’ve been a really strong chance for this thing to spread. If it doesn’t, maybe the Italians are right. Maybe it has sort of mysteriously gotten less potent somehow.

James Howard Kuntsler: Yeah. But it’s certainly, you know, I think the larger point is that it has certainly caused an epic disruption in the world economy and in the U.S. economy in particular. I think you and I might agree that a lot of this disorder was sitting there just waiting to be understood, discovered and made manifest shall we say.

Chris Martenson: Yeah.

James Howard Kuntsler: And, you know, a lot of it was already going on in the bond markets or at least in the overnight loan markets between the big, big banks back in September. So, you know, the disorder there was really pretty rough.

And, you know, six months later all of a sudden we’re, you know, we’re in coronavirus. And then, the markets really start to go crazy. But, you know, the banking system is just in such an artificial matrix of its own that it’s hard to understand how the thing even, you know, even works.

Like we’re talking on Monday morning after a weekend of rioting. And all the stock indexes are up--

Chris Martenson: Yeah.

James Howard Kuntsler: --at the open, you know.

Chris Martenson: Yeah.

James Howard Kuntsler: Like, “Oh yeah! Must’ve been a lot of good news over the weekend”, right? You know?

Chris Martenson: Yeah.

James Howard Kuntsler: Somebody must’ve discovered a new, you know, a new 9 volt battery that lasts for a million years.

Chris Martenson: I know. I’ve been highly critical because, you know, I don’t necessarily want to place the blame/play the blame game. But let’s be clear about this. The Federal Reserve is the headwaters of the eye (SP) on this particular story. They are doing what they feel they have to do in an emergency to rescue markets because something bad will happen if the markets aren’t rescued.

But let’s be clear. They’ve been in an emergency for 12 years now.

James Howard Kuntsler: Wow.

Chris Martenson: They’ve been rescuing markets on an almost daily basis because this unnebulous bad thing will happen. And then, at the end of that, Jerome Powell has the audacity to come out with a big, you know, interview in Bloomberg and say, “We’re not responsible at all for any of the wealth gap that might’ve happened.”

James Howard Kuntsler: Yeah.

Chris Martenson: They’re 100% responsible!

James Howard Kuntsler: I know. It’s hilarious.

Chris Martenson: Yeah, so--

James Howard Kuntsler: They’re pumping a firehose into Citibank, and Goldman-Sachs, and all the rest of the gang, you know.

Chris Martenson: Yeah.

James Howard Kuntsler: And they can’t understand why, “Gee! Did that make the stocks go up? Gosh! How’d that happen?”

But of course, you know, the whole thing is it’s absolutely, utterly deforming the meaning of what capital is, you know. Capital being in, you know, in probably the profoundest sense, you know. The what you’ve acquired from a great expenditure of energy, and work, and--

Chris Martenson: Yeah.

James Howard Kuntsler: --you know, to produce something of value.

And, you know, when capital is merely dollars that come out of a firehose that are plugged into a wall somewhere where there’s a, you know, a moneymaking machine, then what is capital really?

So, they’re not, you know, they haven’t destroyed capitalism. They’ve destroyed capital. That’s the thing. That’s the part that I find so amusing especially with, you know, the young radicals, and the antifas, and the democratic left.

And by the way, I’m still a registered democrat, you know, even though I’m on the wrong side of the tent now. But somehow I, you know, sheer inertia I haven’t changed registrations to independent.

But, you know, the democrats and the antifas all think that capitalism is to blame. And it’s much more a matter of, you know, capital itself has been buggered.

Chris Martenson: Yeah.

James Howard Kuntsler: Not the ism that goes along with it. Not the idea. I mean, there’s always going to be people who have more something than other people. And that will be, you know, you call that surplus wealth, right?

And, you know, that’s what capitalism is just managing the surplus wealth. It’s not, you know, it’s not a belief system and it’s not a religion.

But when you destroy the nature of capital itself, then it’s awfully hard to manage, you know, something that has become really just notional surplus wealth and not real surplus wealth. And that’s kind of what we’re dealing with.

I mean, the moment I’m--

Chris Martenson: Yeah. It’s been almost--

James Howard Kuntsler: The moment I’m waiting for is for—I’m sorry to just run over you here. But the moment I’m waiting for is for the people who really are mega wealthy to discover that their wealth isn’t there.

So, that’ll be an amusing moment.

Chris Martenson: Well, I want to talk about this capital idea because, you know, right now like Twittersphere is just like this emotional Rorschach Test, you know. Some people are calling for more police, you know, brutality and authoritarianism. And other people are aghast to find out it actually exists and I’m wondering where they’ve been all these years.

But really, this isn’t, you know. Yes, there was this super callous display where this cop knowing that he was being filmed with a smug look on his face squeezes the life out of George Floyd, right?

James Howard Kuntsler: Yeah.

Chris Martenson: And the other three cops are just standing around. But it was that level of smugness. They were certain nothing could happen to them. They could do whatever they wanted to do. It’s that impunity, right?

So, we’re seeing lots of that come up. But this whole thing, I want to talk about this is the noise. And yes, there’s some issues with police militarization, and occupying force tactics, and all that other bad stuff. But let’s back up.

We’re talking about the Federal Reserve and creating the wealth gap. That’s one of these things. But there’ve been rackets everywhere. To me, that’s where these protests, there’s a part of me that’s saying, “I’m all for the protesting.”

Not the violence, not the looting, not the free shopping spree at Target and all that stuff. But the protest itself I am in high sympathy for because, you know, as JFK said, you know, “If you make peaceful change impossible, you make violent revolution inevitable” or something close to that.

James Howard Kuntsler: Yeah.

Chris Martenson: And there’s been no way to really push back against things like civil asset forfeiture which is just police theft.

James Howard Kuntsler: No.

Chris Martenson: No raids where they come in, and shoot random people, and then nothing happens. There’s no accountability.

But there was no accountability for all the fraud that happened in 2008 from the big bankers. Zero, right?

James Howard Kuntsler: Uh-huh.

Chris Martenson: The healthcare rackets—the sick care rackets as I call them—just bleeding people dry, right? On, and on, and on, and on. And so, those sorts of things, I don’t even know how to begin reforming those, right? Because what would you do? Go out like occupy Wall Street and hang out, you know, try and like make your voice heard?

All that really happens as far as I’m concerned is your cellphone records get swept up into the police apparatus and that’s about the end of it.

James Howard Kuntsler: Yeah. Well, I think some of these things are truly unperformable. And I don’t mean that in a hopeless sense because I’m not hopeless about it at all.

I think what it means is you have to look elsewhere for how that stuff is going to change. And, you know, I think the answer is emergence, which is that, you know, societies are emergent organisms that respond to the circumstances that reality presents at a certain time and moment in time.

Chris Martenson: Yeah. So, I mean--

James Howard Kuntsler: And--

Chris Martenson: I want to talk about that because in here, this is a kind of a departure from some of the books you’ve written of late. In here, you’re going into the responses by a bunch of individuals. It’s sort of these--

James Howard Kuntsler: Yeah.

Chris Martenson: --their emergent reactions. I’ve got my own. You have yours, you know, yours.

James Howard Kuntsler: Sure.

Chris Martenson: People are reacting all over the place to this feeling that there’s a big emergency here of some kind. And my reaction has been to figure out if I can grow some of my own food. And other people have different reactions.

But basically, one emergent property that sort of jumps out at me in here is this idea that people have said, “I’m done with that system. I’m going to go try and create a new system for myself.” I’m wondering if that’s a--

James Howard Kuntsler: Yeah.

Chris Martenson: --a fair way to look at that?

James Howard Kuntsler: Yeah. Well, I’ll explain to the listeners how I organized that book anyway. It was really a three-part kind of book.

The first part I was trying to account for the things that I said in the 2005 book The Long Emergency because, you know, there had been some changes on the scene including Shell Oil and, you know, the whole crash of 2008, and everything connected to that.

And the third part of the book was kind of a glimpse into the future. And I’m probably one of those failed futurists that they mention in the title. That title is not going to be my title. The title that I wrote it under was Now What?

Chris Martenson: Yeah.

James Howard Kuntsler: But the publisher said, “Oh, you know, that’s not connected to your brand. So, we’ve got to bring your brand into the title with The Long Emergency.”

So, anyway, the second part/middle of the book was a series of interviews with people. Most of them had corresponded with me over the years for one reason or another and I learned something about them.

And they were leading all lifestyles and they had made a deliberate choice to really drop out and do something different. And so, those are the people I wrote about.

Chris Martenson: Yeah. Is that any different from what was going on in the ‘60s? Are people dropping out for sort of similar reasons or is there something new afoot here?

James Howard Kuntsler: Well, I think that it was similar, but not the same because many of the dropouts in the ‘60s dropped out in groups and gangs, you know, and formed communes and things like, you know, these group endeavors. And really, all the people that I have written about are people who in one way or another individually went out and carved a niche for themselves in a world that was changing rather drastically in which most normal Americans had not noticed was changing, you know, because, you know.

Normal American life was going on and, you know, people are going to the hair salon, and people are, you know, doing this job, and going to the Target store, and, you know, working in their cubicle for the Old Navy Corporation or, you know, whatever they were doing. They didn’t notice that the world was really, you know, kind of pregnant with change.

But these people did notice. So, some of them are back to the landers and some of them are not. And some of them are ideologues and some of them are just totally practical people.

But they all have one thing in common. They’re all pretty brave, you know. They all sort of seize the moment to work out their own version of reality, and work with it, and see if they could make a place for themselves in this world—in a world that is becoming kind of spooky, and uncertain, and, you know, creating a lot of anxiety for people.

And now of course, you’ve got a whole nation living in a state of accelerated anxiety because they don’t have any livelihood anymore. Their businesses are going down the tubes. They have no income. They can’t pay their bills, you know.

And from there, you know, we can only imagine the daisy chain of economic destruction that comes off of that. So, these people I, you know, I think they’re carrying on.

Chris Martenson: Yeah. This is a really troubling time because the way I look at it, our national narrative is shredding. It just doesn’t make sense anymore.

So, the words we tell ourselves and our actions, they’re just not even aligning even slightly anymore.

James Howard Kuntsler: Yeah.

Chris Martenson: And so, one example of that might be all of the handwringing in the political class about how, you know, we have to have a stimulus bill, and we have to support people, and people need to be able to put food on their table.

But when you get down to the actions, what I see is really slow, really late, really meager $1,200 stimulus checks that for whatever reason is proving very hard to get them in the hands of people in a timely way. Hundreds of billions went to major corporations just like that.

James Howard Kuntsler: Yeah.

Chris Martenson: All corporations were allowed to take out loans under very sort of nebulous terms where the banks had to set a lot of conditions. And if you only had a pre-established relationship they might get you some. And then, you might have to pay it back and all that stuff.

Major corporations got the bailouts, right?

James Howard Kuntsler: Yeah.

Chris Martenson: So, it’s clear that the leaders—I hate to use that. I call them the managers now. And--

James Howard Kuntsler: Yeah.

Chris Martenson: --you know, the managers of the country, they’re really only serving the elites and the mega corporations. And everybody else can just go pound sand. That’s how it appears to me based on actions.

James Howard Kuntsler: Yeah. And it’s so transparent that, you know, they can’t even hide it anymore. But you really have to admire their gall. And you really have to be mystified that even, you know, the media, the New York Times, nobody picks up on that and nobody is really reporting on that.

And I don’t think it’s because they’re afraid of being labeled communists or anything. They just seem to be too dense to get it.

Chris Martenson: You think so?

James Howard Kuntsler: That’s--

Chris Martenson: That’s really--

James Howard Kuntsler: That’s all mystifying.

Chris Martenson: How can they be that dense? Come on!

James Howard Kuntsler: Yeah. Well yeah, of course. But, you know, it’s barely in the public discussion. I mean, even in the non-mainstream media people are hardly really squaring that circle.

So, I think the bottom line may be this. That you and I may be all observers and may be a Heisenbergian sense of physics, you know. We’re failing to notice something about what’s going on and that is that the mere observation of all of this turmoil is making people so crazy that they’re having trouble observing the turmoil.

Chris Martenson: Yeah.

James Howard Kuntsler: You know, I do think that the country is getting like really--

Chris Martenson: Awful.

James Howard Kuntsler: --literally crazy.

Chris Martenson: Yeah. Well, you’ve been tracking one brand of that crazy for a while and that’s the whole Russia-gate thing. And--

James Howard Kuntsler: Yeah.

Chris Martenson: --giant and, you know, I don’t watch CNN. But I somehow stumbled across a clip and there was Wolf Blitzer talking with Susan Rice today about how this was Russia stirring up all this trouble. I just--

James Howard Kuntsler: Yeah. They can’t let it go.

Chris Martenson: That horse is so dead--

James Howard Kuntsler: Yeah.

Chris Martenson: --that it’s literally a rug at this point in time, you know.

James Howard Kuntsler: Yeah.

Chris Martenson: And they’re just flailing away at it and I’m just like, “Oh please!”

James Howard Kuntsler: It reminds me of like, you know, a dog that I used to have that had this particular chewy toy that, you know, it started out looking like, you know, a chocolate soldier. And after three years of being chomped on, you know, I mean, you couldn’t tell whether it was a giant amoeba, or a porkchop, or, you know, or what.

And that’s what Russia gate’s getting to be now—kind of just an all-purpose porkchop. That, you know, chewy toy that the left is chewing on.

Look, all this stuff is now being eclipsed by the extreme disorder that the country is falling into all the sudden, you know. I mean, the Covid-19 thing, for all practical purposes that’s still all of a sudden, you know.

Russia-gate’s been going on for three years. But it is coming to a head and it is looking like some people might be indicted. And, you know, the amount of information that’s just come out in the last four weeks is pretty staggering about, you know, the failure of the law enforcement authorities at the federal level that can’t make people feel good about the credibility of the government per se.

And really, that may be what’s at stake finally with Russia gate is that, you know, they’re afraid for the public to understand how untrustworthy they’ve become.

Chris Martenson: Yeah. Yeah, well, if it’s the way I understand it, it’s a really dangerous precedent because it means there’s an arm of the government that’s not elected that’s out of control that’s busy--

James Howard Kuntsler: Yeah.

Chris Martenson: --doing whatever it wants to do including creating control files on people, and tapping their phones if you can use that term anymore. They’re sweeping all the communications up around individuals and really it’s Orwellian. It’s a surveillance state that’s decided it knows what it wants.

But when you peel back the layers, it always seems that what it wants is more power and more money for these really unsavory characters who are sort of lurking in the shadows there. There are people who I realize, Jim, I would not enjoy being around, wouldn’t want them as friends and they just look like psychopaths to me.

It’s all power and money. It’s just pure Machiavellian junk and there’s no grander vision of protecting democracy, or keeping our nation safe, or doing the greatest good for the greatest number of people.

James Howard Kuntsler: Yeah.

Chris Martenson: It just looks like power hungry individuals who want more money and that’s it.

James Howard Kuntsler: Yeah. And now it’s power hungry individuals who want more money who are working day and night to protect their reputations and keep themselves out of jail.

So, you know, that’s another level of the story.

Chris Martenson: Yeah.

James Howard Kuntsler: But, you know, imagine what bad optics that’s going to be when half a dozen former top government officials are, you know, marched into a grand jury. And--

Chris Martenson: Yeah.

James Howard Kuntsler: --you know, the system’s pretty fragile. It’ll, you know, it’s not going to be a death blow to the system. But it’s just going to be another one of those thousand cuts that is taking us to a new, you know, a new chapter of American history and economy.

Chris Martenson: Yeah. Yeah, well, something that you and I both have done for a long time now is talk about peak oil. And, you know, to me, peak oil is the large grand organizing story. If you understand that, you can fit a lot of things under there.

And really, the rest is details because we’re an organism. We need energy. Energy annotates everything. If you start to see energy in your life, it’s kind of like that moment in the movie “The Matrix” where Neo finally can see the Matrix. He sees all the green things in the hallway there.

Once you see energy, you see every truck, every car, every plane, every ship, every boat, every calorie you eat all come from this fossil fuel energy that we’re pulling in. And I thought that peak oil was going to hit a lot earlier, then this Shell Oil thing came along.

And honestly, you know, it gets a little detail-oriented for people. But--

James Howard Kuntsler: Yeah.

Chris Martenson: --the simple thing is the old oil was really high net energy. This new stuff, it really isn’t, you know. It’s very difficult to get and we might get five barrels back for one barrel of input where it used to be 100-to-1.

And so, it’s kind of like we’re trying to climb a mountain now whereas before we were eating Snickers bars. And now we’ve got celery, right?

James Howard Kuntsler: Yeah.

Chris Martenson: It’s just we’re not going to go. We might not summit this one, but I don’t think people are really still aware of that. I think it’s going to come roaring back at some point.

I’m just wondering, you know, in here you wrote about the whole Shell piece pretty extensively. Shell just got clobbered by the corona and the drop in oil prices. What do you see in there and how do you fit that larger story into your thinking now?

James Howard Kuntsler: Well, I call the Shell Oil miracle a stunt.

Chris Martenson: Yeah.

James Howard Kuntsler: “Miracle”. It was a financial stunt and it was a magnificent stunt in many ways, you know. As many American stunts are, you know, putting men on the moon, etc.

But it was a stunt and we were producing just under five million barrels a day around 2008 when, you know. And that started to cause disfigurements in the economy. And, you know, we kind of pulled ourselves out of that with debt, right?

And that’s been a big part of your story. Part of that whole debt matrix was the money that was lent to the Shell Oil producers to get that Shell Oil out of the ground in the very complex, you know, highly technical/technological method that they used.

So, they finally jacked up the production to 13 million barrels a day which was three million past the old/past 1970 peak of around 10 million barrels a day. And it was a magnificent stunt to get U.S. oil production up there that far.

The problem is that they did it all with borrowed money. And much of it, you know, the kind of borrowed money that is kind of janky and, you know, Covenant-Life loans, and, you know, all kinds of strange lending/junk bond lending.

And they spent 10 years producing all this oil, and getting to a new peak, and demonstrating that they couldn’t make a red cent producing that Shell Oil. So, now they’re at a point having done that/having accomplished that stunt where all the sudden, we’re in the middle of a financial calamity.

And capital itself is disappearing including the capital that they would require to continue their operations. And having proved that they can’t make money at it, they’re not going to get more loans which means they’re not going to continue their operations. At least not nearly at the elven that they were which means that that magnificent figure of 13 million barrels a day is going to come down probably as swiftly as it went up. Maybe even faster.

And so, you know, I think that the bottom line is that Shell Oil’s going to prove a huge disappointment to the public. And not just a psychological disappointment, but, you know, it’ll be a real fiasco economically because we’ll be back where we started again where, you know, we had this enormous infrastructure for daily life that running at full tilt requires 20 million barrels a day of oil and we can’t supply it.

And even though Shell Oil has come along, you know, we still have been importing millions of barrels of oil a day. So, it’s a fraud that we’re energy independent.

So, that whole thing, unfortunately, you know, that could be as devastating to whatever remains of the economy as the Covid-19 virus because it will be hugely destabilizing when we start to see our production going down fast.

And, you know, there’s this valiance between production, and consumption, and that, you know, that changes constantly. And the moving parts of it change constantly.

And as the production goes down, we’ll also be seeing the phenomenon of demand going way down as people go broke, you know. And so, that’s going to have the strange effect possibly of keeping oil prices relatively low even as it’s becoming scarcer.

So, you know, that’s a big part of the problem. Another part of the problem, which is still a problem, but not quite as bad as the financing thing is the fact that Shell Oil is a certain kind of extra super light oil that doesn’t have a lot of the fracking/petroleum fractions that we need like diesel and aviation fuel.

But, you know, I mean, are we even going to have the amount of aviation that we had six months ago?

That’s not looking like it’s going to come back, you know, anytime soon at the level that it did. And, you know, I would have to conclude as a general thing that nothing in our everyday life that we knew, you know, six months ago-a year ago is going to come back to the same scale that it was operating at before.

So, then, you know, the next question is, “Okay. Then what, you know, what’s the next level that we’re going down to? And can we even, you know, stay at that level or are we going to stairstep down further?”

Chris Martenson: And why is that that you think things won’t come back to the levels they used to be at?

James Howard Kuntsler: Well, because we’re not going to have the energy mojo to do it, you know. If we don’t, you know, if we’re not producing that much oil even if it’s not great oil, you know. If we’re only producing five million barrels a day, you know, and, you know, other parts of the country—excuse me—other parts of the world, you know, their production is going down too, you know.

We are going to truly finally be in that peak oil situation. Of course, you know, there are all of these fantasies that we’re going to run Walmart, and the U.S. military, and Walt Disney World, and the interstate highway system on alternative energy.

But that’s a fantasy too because all of those things—all the wind and the solar, you know, apart from the fact that it only produces fractionally the amount of energy that we need, it all really basically depends on having a support system of an oil economy to even allow you to fabricate the hardware to do it, you know, make the solar cells, and make the windmills, and the turbines.

So, you know, we’re in a bad spot. And considering that there are an awful lot of smart people in this world, we’re doing a pretty piss poor job of thinking about it.

Chris Martenson: Yeah, I would agree. So, as you know from my Covid tracking, I was just using what I consider to be logic and common sense, right?

James Howard Kuntsler: Uh-huh.

Chris Martenson: And there were simple things that you could say which is like if everybody wears a mask here’s what happens, you know. And so, really the key is to stop somebody who’s sick who might be asymptomatic from spreading particles. Like how much easier could it be?

Oh my gosh! There’s still, you know, people confused about that and can’t quite wrap their heads around that.

So, to me, that’s a depressing metaphor because if you can’t handle one plus one equals two logic, what you’re talking about is like differential calculus, you know. It’s just--

James Howard Kuntsler: Yeah.

Chris Martenson: --it’s going to be hard.

James Howard Kuntsler: It’s not easy. But, you know, understanding the economy that we’ve been in is not easy because it was what it was largely because it was hyper technical and hyper complex. And, you know, I mean, hyper complexity is difficult.

So, of course, people didn’t understand it, you know. Most people don’t even understand how their car works anymore, you know. This was a nation full of people who used to be able to fix their own cars.

Chris Martenson: Yes.

James Howard Kuntsler: That’s absolutely impossible now. So, you know, that’s kind of a metaphor for everything else that we’ve done, you know. We’ve created so much hyper complexity that, you know, we can barely run our own lives.

Chris Martenson: Yeah. I was just talking with a farmer who was coaching me in how to maybe farm. And so, I have a tractor. I’ve got this nice Kabota now. It’s used, but he asked me the year. And he said, “Yeah, that’s still post to Missions Control.” He said, you know, “Sometimes things break. I would really highly recommend you get yourself a 1960’s farm all (SP) because—” he said “—your eight-year-old if you had one could figure out how to put that carburetor back together. It’s like four moving parts.”

James Howard Kuntsler: Yeah.

Chris Martenson: “It will not break. They’re still around”, you know, and all of that stuff because I mean, here’s a guy who’s really into farming. He said, “The new tractor’s a wonderful thing, but they break. And note: they’re very hard to fix now.”

James Howard Kuntsler: Yeah. I like to hang out with the tractor guys at the Washington County Fair--

Chris Martenson: Yeah.

James Howard Kuntsler: --over here on the New York side. Yeah, because they got exactly that. They got like the 1963 farm all and they love those things, you know, because they are so simple. They’ve got these old banger engines. They got like 11 moving parts, you know.

Chris Martenson: Yep.

James Howard Kuntsler: Not hard to understand and you’re right, you know. My six-year-old can fix this.

So, yeah. So, have you got all kinds of emission control things on that thing--

Chris Martenson: I think so.

James Howard Kuntsler: --and catallactic converters and--

Chris Martenson: I don’t know. When I bought it, I dutifully lifted the hood, but what am I looking at?

I don’t know. There’s--

James Howard Kuntsler: Have you--

Chris Martenson: --an engine in there.

James Howard Kuntsler: Have you got like a front-end loader on it or something or--

Chris Martenson: Yeah.

James Howard Kuntsler: --anything like that?

Chris Martenson: I’ve got a front-end loader, and some things for the back, and--

James Howard Kuntsler: Have you tried using the darn thing?

Chris Martenson: Oh yeah.

James Howard Kuntsler: What’s it like to run that front-end loader? I mean, I got to confess. I’ve never run a front-end loader. It looks to me like it would take some experience to-do that.

Chris Martenson: It does take a little finesse because it’s not as easy as like a fully dedicated, you know, bucket loader for like on the case 580 or something.

So, you have to come in and you have to both be moving forward, and scooping, and lifting at the same time. There’s like this--

James Howard Kuntsler: Whew!

Chris Martenson: There’s this whole thing if you want to get a full bucket.

James Howard Kuntsler: Wow.

Chris Martenson: And it’s not as powerful as you would think. You’re not going to just go into like solid birth and like do much to it, you know. But it’ll move woodchips. And it’ll move manure. And it’ll move--

James Howard Kuntsler: Yeah.

Chris Martenson: --you know, piles pretty well. But--

James Howard Kuntsler: Have you constructed a garden from the ground up now?

Chris Martenson: Yes. Yeah, I’ve got a nice garden.

James Howard Kuntsler: Have you got fencing in?

Chris Martenson: Yep.

James Howard Kuntsler: Oh goody!

Chris Martenson: Yeah.

James Howard Kuntsler: That’s the hard part, isn’t it?

Chris Martenson: Yeah, it is. I’ve gotten good at fencing over the years, so.

James Howard Kuntsler: Yeah. I remember from your old place. You did a really good job with that.

Chris Martenson: Yeah.

James Howard Kuntsler: Now that you mention it. And also, with the grape standards.

Chris Martenson: Yes! So, I started over. So, I have 11 grape plants that are this tall, you know.

James Howard Kuntsler: Oh yay!

Chris Martenson: So, three years from now talk to me. We’ll--

James Howard Kuntsler: Are you going to make enough for grape soda?

Chris Martenson: I hope so. Not this year though.

James Howard Kuntsler: Okay.

Chris Martenson: But yeah, no. It’s just I’m in first year-it is. We’re busily trying to figure out how to get animals and I have to line the fields because this local farmer was basically strip mining it. Every time you take a load of hay off you’re taking nutrients away. And he didn’t put anything back on.

So, it’s the fields look weak and I’ve got to do a lot to get them back into shape. So, I’m learning as fast as I can. And I’m doing this for the same reason I think you have the people telling their stories in here which is--

James Howard Kuntsler: Yeah.

Chris Martenson: --I have this sense, Jim that food is going to be harder to come by--

James Howard Kuntsler: Yeah.

Chris Martenson: --and that this cataclysmic sort of shock that 40 million people out of work and the ending of a 50-year delusion that we can always just borrow more and everything will work out, the shattering of all that. I think this could.

I can’t predict what’s going to happen, but I have this strong sense that I want to know where a little bit more of my food is actually coming from. That’s been my response to this so far.

James Howard Kuntsler: Yeah. Well, I think you’re well-positioned for that. And I also think that this period that’s coming up over the next 10 years is going to be probably regarded as a really transitional period in human history where, you know, people were hugely confused about what was going on. And some people made good choices and a lot of people were unable to act, you know.

They were kind of frozen and paralyzed. And, you know, I think that there will be kind of a monastic kind of quality to the places that are doing things correctly, you know. And people, they will really be lifeboats.

Chris Martenson: Yeah. Yeah, well, I wrote a year ago an article that’s now highly pensioned (SP) where I said there was going to be this extraordinary back to the land movement where people who are living in cities are going to start to figure out those weren’t the right places to be.

And now with Covid plus the riots, I just see this as like absolutely on steroids. Everybody who can and can afford to I think is going to start ditching out of the biggest cities.

James Howard Kuntsler: It hugely is accelerating a problem that was waiting to happen which was that the cities had become over scaled especially in terms of the resource realities of the future and the capital realities.

And now those capital realities are really biting because in a place like New York I had a conversation with my literary agent about a week ago. He’s actually just bugging out of Manhattan and, you know, moving to Cape Cod. I mean, you know, who does that if you’re a New York literary agent?

But he said 60% of the people in the upper east side were not there anymore, you know, what does that mean?

Well, what it means to me is if a lot of them don’t come back or if a lot of them stick around their summer houses and don’t come back, you know, there goes the New York tax base, you know. And so, even at the height of financialization of the economy, they were still struggling to maintain the subway, and pay for the infrastructure, and pay for the Social Services.

Chris Martenson: Yeah.

James Howard Kuntsler: But if all of that wealth leaves New York, that’s basically the end of the financialization of New York’s economy and of cities in general. Their tax bases are going to crash. They won’t be able to fix anything and they’ll find them in a, you know, a downward spiral of disinvestment and decrepitation. And people aren’t going to stick around. And you--

Chris Martenson: Well, that’s easy. Then all they have to do is raise taxes.

James Howard Kuntsler: Yeah, right. Well, raise taxes on people who aren’t there.

Chris Martenson: But--

James Howard Kuntsler: I don’t think they’re going to be able to do that.

Chris Martenson: But you raise taxes and then more people leave. So, you raise taxes. That’s called Chicago, right? So--

James Howard Kuntsler: Well, yeah. Yeah.

Chris Martenson: Yeah.

James Howard Kuntsler: Chicago meanwhile, I mean, the riots this week were not exactly comedy or anything. But you had to laugh, you know, that they were deploring the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. And meanwhile, like—I don’t know—35 people got shot on Memorial Day weekend in Chicago.

Chris Martenson: Yeah, pretty typical weekend though, right?

James Howard Kuntsler: Yeah. Well, it was actually pretty, you know, pretty good body count for a weekend in Chicago. But, you know, it’s, you know, generally pretty up in the double digits at least.

Chris Martenson: Yeah. And interestingly, Chicago state is a place that has some of if not the strictest gun laws in the country--

James Howard Kuntsler: Yeah, wow.

Chris Martenson: --showing that the laws make you feel good, but they don’t do much, right? In the scheme of things.

James Howard Kuntsler: Yeah. I guess anybody who really wants to get a piece in Chicago can go out and get a piece.

Chris Martenson: Right. So, back to this idea though--

James Howard Kuntsler: Yeah.

Chris Martenson: --that the economy is not going to achieve its old heights.

James Howard Kuntsler: Yeah.

Chris Martenson: One common motif is—from people I know—is that some of them were in these jobs. They didn’t really like them. They get laid off and/or they spend a couple of months home. And the cobwebs clear and they go, “I don’t want to go back to that.”

James Howard Kuntsler: Yeah.

Chris Martenson: “I feel this change in myself where it’s going to take a lot to get me back on a plane, let alone a cruise ship, let alone in any sort of large gatherings, you know, for a while.” Covid would have to go away for a while.

I think there’s a lot of people. Let’s say even if it’s 20%, you know. Not 100, but some number. I think people have made shifts just like the Great Depression shifted my grandmother and grandfather forever, right?

They save strings off of roasts, you know, for later use.

James Howard Kuntsler: Was that the one who was a banker?

Chris Martenson: No, other side.

James Howard Kuntsler: Oh okay.

Chris Martenson: Yeah. So, I think this Covid’s going to leave indelible impressions including I think it’s really broken the spell of for a lot of people, “I’ve got to be in the rat race. I’ve got to just take out debt.” “I’ve got to buy a new car. I’ve got to—” all that whole consumptive thing. I think that spell’s been broken for enough people. I don’t think it’s coming back to its old heights if you could call it back. What do you think?

James Howard Kuntsler: Yeah. I think you’re right. Although it’s a little bit hard to see exactly how large numbers of people will get to that considering that, you know, they’re in circumstances that really oblige them to come up with some kind of a nut every month for things that they are basically contracted to do like pay a mortgage, or pay a car payment, or pay the lease on a car, or, you know, all the other obligations that we have.

I don’t know how people are going to get out of that. But at the same time, I can’t see how the whole system of time payments on all things can remain stable, you know. So many people are going to be defaulting on their mortgages and car payments that the whole system is going to not work.

So, you know, it’s a question of, you know, you want to get out of that life and how disorderly is the system going to be while you’re trying to get out of it? And then, what are your--

Chris Martenson: Well--

James Howard Kuntsler: --what are your obligations to that system, you know. You still owe $230,000 on a $600,000 house that you’ve been paying down for, you know, x number of years, you know. But, you know, and you’re underwater now because the real estate market is in trouble, you know.

Chris Martenson: Yeah.

James Howard Kuntsler: How are you going to get out of that obligation, so. And there probably are ways to do it.

So, I don’t know, you know. You’ve really been on a course for the last 15-20 years that was a very deliberate set of choices that you made with a certain body of knowledge that you had.

And, you know, I followed a similar kind of path. And a lot of people are coming into this at the 11th hour. And they waited until the world became very disorderly to decide, “Hmm, maybe I didn’t want to be part of that racket.”

I think it’s going to be hard for all of them. And, you know, whenever you’re in a difficult state of flux like this, it generates a lot of friction, and a lot of heat, and light, and conflict, and trouble.

So, you know, there’s probably going to be a lot of hardship involved in this for people. Even the people with the best intentions of, you know, bailing out and doing something different, don’t you think?

Chris Martenson: Well, I do think. And, you know, I’m finding myself battling critics right now in my head which, you know, there are all these people saying the Cassandra thing. “Oh, you know, you’ve been cheering this on.” And I’ve been working to be clear, Jim. I’ve been working really hard to try to prevent this from happening. And I thought over the years if I could just shame the Federal Reserve into, you know, not being the way they are, but they’re unshameable, right?

James Howard Kuntsler: Yeah.

Chris Martenson: I mean, they have to be psychopaths or sociopaths that I mean, they literally don’t care that their policies are fostering the largest wealth gap ever. And as Plutarch said, “That’s the oldest and most failed ailment of all republics because, you know, that creates this disharmony.” And who wants to live in that world of a few ultra-elites and a lot of very desperate people?

I mean, it’s just arguably an awful direction to go in. But they didn’t care because that’s what they’re doing, right?

And it benefitted them or whatever their internal rationalizations are. But I do think this gets very hard except I’ll put one little piece in. I think for people who are willing to go through a rapid adjustment reaction and understand the world’s different, right?

James Howard Kuntsler: Uh-huh.

Chris Martenson: I don’t think that old world’s coming back for a whole lot of reasons. I don’t want it to come back for a whole lot of reasons. But to get to that new world you’ve got to let go of the old one.

I know that’s hard because I did it and you’ve done it. And a lot of people are doing it. But that would be my advice to people is you’ve got to find a way to let go of what was and see what’s coming because I actually, you know. The optimist in me says it’s hard for a while, but there’s actually a better future out there if we do it right.

James Howard Kuntsler: Yeah.

Chris Martenson: _____[00:44:50] if we do it wrong. So, I’m still in the fight and fighting that fight, but, you know.

James Howard Kuntsler: I feel the same way about my little town, you know. I live in a flyover town that’s a former factory village that had like five factories that made textiles, and paper, and stuff back in the day. And, you know, it’s the bones of the village are there, but none of the activities are still there?

Chris Martenson: Yeah.

James Howard Kuntsler: And, you know, it’s just another pathetic American flyover town. But, you know, I see so much opportunity especially now that, you know, there are certain conditions that are coming/that are manifesting, you know.

One is that the cities are obviously entering a state of failure and people are going to have to find another place to go. And the suburbs may not really be a great option, right?

So, they’re going to need that and we’re going to probably encounter problems with food and feeding all the people in the United States. And that means if you happen to be in an agricultural backwater as I am, you know, a place that has provided a lot of food in the past, and has a lot of farming terrain, and also has, you know, some decent water power, and things like that, I can see a place like this coming back.

But, you know, they’ve got to sweep away the things that are now sustaining it like the strip mall at the edge of town which is where all the commerce migrated to from the mainstream. And, you know, I think a lot of people will be very sorry to see all that stuff go.

They were very sorry to see the Kmart go when it closed down in March of 2018. And it was a great shock to the town because it was really, you know, the only general merchandise store within 20 miles, right?

But, you know, they were sorry to see it go and nobody opened a general merchandised store in the downtown. But now, you know, I can see a situation where a lot of these chain stores are going to be swept away all over America and they’re not going to be replaced by other chain stores.

Somebody’s going to have to do something to distribute stuff in America. We’re probably going to have some stuff, you know. We might not have a choice of 106 different kinds of broom, right?

But we’ll probably have one, or two, or three kinds, something like that. Who’s going to sell them?

And, you know, young people out there might be asking themselves, “Well, you know, geez. Maybe I can sell brooms and dustpans. And maybe I can find somebody who can maybe manufacture one, you know. And maybe we’ll have to make it out of metal instead of plastic or make it out of something else.” Wood? Who knows, you know. But we’ll do it.

And, you know, the way that this economy’s going to be reorganizing itself is going to be strange and shocking I think as we go along. And I think we’re just going to be in for one shock after another, you know. It’ll be like, “Oh! That’s what you do when this thing fails”, you know. “This is what you do when personal transportation is no longer possible for, you know, 87% of the population because they can no longer get a loan to buy a car.”

And General Motors has gone out of business because they can’t keep going if they’re only selling 860,000 a year instead of, you know, four million.” So, an awful lot of changes out there.

Chris Martenson: Yeah. Well, as you said. Chapter 11, you called it “Other Nagging Details”.

James Howard Kuntsler: Oh yeah.

Chris Martenson: Like with the food questions, right?

James Howard Kuntsler: Yeah.

Chris Martenson: And so--

James Howard Kuntsler: Oh, I just won’t eat for a month I guess.

Chris Martenson: I guess, you know. Glad I got some stored up here.

So, I’ve been shocked watching—not shocked, but just the disconnect on display as the Federal Reserve is doing everything in its power to just jam stock prices up and buy junk debt. So, junk bond prices are going up. All this stuff that’s buying mortgage back securities, so they’re paying more than they’re actually worth.

And all of that knowing that they’re going to foist those eventual losses off onto the taxpayer and all of that. It’s just grotesque to me because look at the symbolism behind that which is saying, “We’re going to make stocks go up” even though the trade deal just fell apart with China. We’re in really bad geopolitical tensions with China. We’re basically bumping uglies with them in the South China sea with naval assets. We’ve got all kinds of tension there.

We’ve got a 40% decline in second-quarter GDP probably according to the Federal Reserve Atlanta base. We’ve got 40 million people out of work. We’ve got like all of these awful things happening. And the response has been, “Well, let’s see if we can make Google stock price go up a little higher today”, right?

James Howard Kuntsler: Right.

Chris Martenson: It’s unseemly, but it’s a caricature of what leadership ought to be. It’s just bad management, right? It’s like I think they’re just that out of ideas. That’s how I interpret this. Like they’re that out of ideas that their only response right now is to paint some veneer shellac on this and they do that by painting the tape/painting the numbers--

James Howard Kuntsler: Yeah, it’s a kind of--

Chris Martenson: --to see how it’ll work out.

James Howard Kuntsler: It’s the kind of feckless behavior that you see with, you know, just about every elite in some kind of a wobbling empire or wobbling, you know, civilization that’s come along. They develop a strange kind of a short-sided fecklessness that is amazing.

But what’s even more amazing is that you think that the public in general—especially all the people who just got, you know, laid off of their jobs and, you know, basically fired, and will never come back. You think that those people would be getting just a bit ticked off about the fact that the Dow Jones goes up every day.

And that, you know, there’s very little public expression of that. I mean, it took, you know, it took the death of a black man in Minneapolis in a particularly ugly way to stimulate a certain kind of uproar in America.

But you think that some kind of uproar would be stimulated by this divergence between the unreality of the stock market and the harsh reality of people losing their incomes, their jobs and their futures. And yet it’s, you know, it’s not present. It’s not.

And, you’re right. The shamelessness of it is just staggering. You’d think that Jay Powell would try to make the stock market go down for three days in a row just so the people, you know, wouldn’t get the idea that it only goes up.

So, you know, but I also think you can make arguments that it’s not going to go up forever and that there will be some kind of a reckoning over that. And the time will come when the hedge funders and the employees of BlackRock Finance and K Street lobbyists are going to wake up some morning and find out that they’re not as wealthy as they thought they were.

Chris Martenson: Yeah. And to rewind a bit, United States is about 4% of the world’s population consuming about 20% of the world’s primary energy.

James Howard Kuntsler: Wow.

Chris Martenson: And that statistic tells you why the United States has a strong economy. And if that ever reverses or becomes more egalitarian where, you know, United States is assuming a more proportional percentage basis which I think is coming.

James Howard Kuntsler: Sure.

Chris Martenson: And by the way, you know, futurists time could get this wrong. But the stunning lack of investment in oil right now, the collapse of investment in Shell, but nothing’s happening in Deepwater?

That requires $80-100 barrel oil to prosecute. Nothing’s happening and fields are being damaged. Businesses are being shutdown willy nilly and overpopulated. Just crazy time, right?

It’s not how an intelligent species would be managing its prime asset at this point in time knowing it’s finite. It runs out some day. We only have so much time to use it to navigate to that different future. We’re just sort of thrashing about like I said, I can’t do the mast. We’re probably not going to get that one right.

So, as I watch that, my prediction is the United States has a collapse in Shell production. It comes back slowly and grudgingly, you know, and only at higher prices.

And by the time that all sort of begins to sort itself out, and pick itself out, there’s actually an oil shortage in the world due to this lack of investment. And then, we see trillions of central bank printing and a relative shortage of oil.

And then, we see the last stage of this story which is a magnificent explosion in what we would call inflation. But it’s actually too much money and too, too little stuff. But the too little stuff was for other structural reasons. The oil isn’t getting pumped because it wasn’t, you know, because we did it wrong.

I see that explosion coming. That to me is the last act in all of this. And I would implore people listening. It would’ve been good to start 11 years ago. Today is the second best time to plant that tree, right?

So, I think people still need to get prepared because this isn’t like the Nader of this story. I think there’s more to come.

James Howard Kuntsler: Yeah. And, you know, a lot of people who are going to make these changes in their lives, you know, they’re going to come in at an entry level position for a lot of this, you know. People who for one reason or another decide, you know, “Maybe there’s a future in food production and farming in some way.”

They may not go out there and be in a position to buy 40 acres. But they may be able to work for somebody who’s got 40 acres and is organizing some kind of a farming enterprise that employs more humans than was formerly the case because I do believe that one feature of the future will be that farming will require much more human attention than it does now, you know.

We’re not going to just have one guy sitting in a $3 million combine, you know, watching Kevin Costner movies while the combine automatically follows the furloughs (SP) back and forth, you know. It’s going to be more a matter of, you know, gangs of people working together to do this.

One of the things that’s impressed me about just going through the archives of the old photographs of my county around here, it’s so impressive to see how much work was accomplished by men especially working in gangs and women working in groups. And, you know, it makes such a difference.

I think working alone at something like that is actually pretty demoralizing and discouraging. But when you’re there with, you know, 20 other people making things happen, you get a lot done. And it’s really surprising how much people can get done without a whole lot of super hyper sophisticated machinery.

And, you know, I think that’ll be a feature of it. And people who are leaving Brooklyn, you know, and leaving the high tech rackets to get into something else might consider that.

Chris Martenson: Yeah. I’m at the little town in Massachusetts here and it’s notable to me because it’s got some old mines. And many of them were in operation well before the Civil War. And I’ve walked by a couple of them. One was a flooded mineshaft that just goes straight down just up a hiking trail. You can go fall down that--

James Howard Kuntsler: Yeah, dang!

Chris Martenson: --mineshaft if you want. But just looking at that and thinking, you know. I looked up the dates on that and this thing last produced in the late 1800’s.

So, they were dragging. This is up a mountain, right?

So, horses, and teams, and barrels of flour, and hardtack and maybe bacon (SP). I don’t know. But somehow with whatever iron tools they had and whatever crude dynamite they had, they managed to like make a big old shaft in the ground. And the pile of rocks outside of this—the tailing pile—I’m like, “I bet every one of those was hauled up with a shoulder and a—"

James Howard Kuntsler: Yeah.

Chris Martenson: “—a pully”, right?

James Howard Kuntsler: I had the same feeling when I, you know. I like to kind of spook around the industrial ruins of the area I’m in. And there are a lot of them because this is a convergence of the Batten Kill River which is a major tributary of the Hudson.

And there were a lot of hydro sites along the Batten Kill and there were a lot of factories on them. And there are a lot of ruins out there. And you see these mill races that were built in the 1850’s, you know. And that’s a very difficult task. I mean, imagine you’re trying to build a mill race. You’ve got to keep the mainstream of the river from actually being in the place where you need to do the work, you know.

So, you’ve got to build something to divert that. And then, you’ve got to get all these enormous stones in place, you know, these enormous dressed quarry stones in place.

And it just blows my mind that they did that in a time without steam shovels and, you know, powered equipment. They just did it with horses, and men, and levers, and wheels.

Chris Martenson: Yeah.

James Howard Kuntsler: So, you know, there’s a lot that we can do without many of the technological blandness of modernity. And I think we’re going to probably need to learn how to do it.

Chris Martenson: Well, that’s the reskilling and that’s certainly something I think a lot of the people in your book where everybody in here had to go through some sort of reskilling, right?

There was some--

James Howard Kuntsler: Yeah.

Chris Martenson: --“Hey, I used to be an accountant”, or “I entered data at the IRS”, or whatever their story was. And now they’re living in a cabin in Alaska, you know, or trying to farm, or figuring out how to grind, you know, wheat and make it into bread.

There’s all kinds of stories in there and I think that is the theme here is this reskilling. And again, my advice to people is don’t wait. Better stop learning that stuff.

I’ve been imploring people to plant a garden. There’s just so much learning that goes into gardening, you know. And the earlier you get started on it the better. And there’s really no way to short circuit that process.

I am concerned that whatever skills that those people of old had that they knew how to take a 15 ton dressed quarry stone and move it into position. I don’t know how to do that and I don’t know anybody—

James Howard Kuntsler: Yeah.

Chris Martenson: --who does, you know.

James Howard Kuntsler: Yeah. But if the skill is there in the ether somewhere to be rediscovered.

Chris Martenson: Yeah. And it can and will be done.

So, that is my hope in all of this is that actually a lot of modern life has been demoralizing and that people will have a chance to reengage with stuff they find meaningful and purposeful.

James Howard Kuntsler: Yeah.

Chris Martenson: And sometimes that looks like hard work.

James Howard Kuntsler: Well, I was engaging just this month with my compost, you know. I didn’t know much about making compost when I started. And I built myself a three-bay bin. And then, I added a fourth bay with a wire bin.

And so, for the last year, I’ve been piling all this chicken bedding and chicken manure in with the vegetative stuff, you know. And it all cooked for a year or two.

And, you know, I moved it around from one bin to another. And I can’t believe how beautiful this compost is, you know.

Chris Martenson: Nice!

James Howard Kuntsler: I mean, and, you know, to say this is something that you get a great deal of satisfaction out of is kind of weird, you know.

Chris Martenson: Yeah.

James Howard Kuntsler: But I look at this granular golden stuff which looks better than the best potting soil you could ever find. And, you know, and I’m forking it onto the wheel barrow. And I’m taking it out and peeling up the potatoes with it. I hope it doesn’t kill them. But, you know, it’s been well-cooked.

Chris Martenson: Yep.

James Howard Kuntsler: And I just, you know, it provided me with a lot of satisfaction that, you know, this city boy who grew up in the East Side of Manhattan going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art at lunch break every day because they used to let us out of the school for some mysterious reason, you know. That I’m, you know, developing my composting abilities. So, if I can do it anybody can.

Chris Martenson: I love hearing that! That’s just a great story. And, you know, part of that is you’ve got to be willing to try. You’ve got to be willing to make mistakes. I’m--

James Howard Kuntsler: Yeah.

Chris Martenson: --going to make a lot of mistakes over this next year guaranteed.

James Howard Kuntsler: Yeah.

Chris Martenson: So--

James Howard Kuntsler: I made them with the fruit trees. Have you made fruit tree mistakes?

Chris Martenson: Yeah. Yeah, I just made another one. It was embarrassing. So, I planted some that were a little further away from the house than I normally would do these things.

And I went out there, and I looked, and I realized they were water stressed because these were bare roots that I’d put in. It hadn’t rained and I’d, “Uh-oh”, you know. So, I stressed them out pretty hard.

James Howard Kuntsler: Yeah. Oh wow. Oops!

Chris Martenson: You’ve got to water them a lot when you put bare roots in, so.

James Howard Kuntsler: Oh yeah. Wah!

Chris Martenson: Every day, so.

James Howard Kuntsler: I’ve got a lot of fruit problems and I’m trying to battle them with Neem Oil, so.

Chris Martenson: Oh no! That sounds infective (SP). You got something going on there?

James Howard Kuntsler: I got like brown rot on the plums and I’ve got--

Chris Martenson: Yeah.

James Howard Kuntsler: --aphids on the apples. And I’ve got a lot of little things that want to rob me of my fruit.

Chris Martenson: Yes, everything does.

James Howard Kuntsler:So--

Chris Martenson: That’s just how that is.

So, well, listen, everybody ought to be reading this book right here, Living in the Long Emergency. Mine’s an advanced preview copy, so thank you for sending that along.

James Howard Kuntsler: Yeah. It’s pretty much the same as the published addition.

Chris Martenson: Yeah. And this is available now, right?

James Howard Kuntsler: Yeah, it’s available now. And in fact, it came out I think on the very day that the loan emergency really started in earnest. Like the official publication date I think was March 10th or something.

Chris Martenson: Yeah.

James Howard Kuntsler:Around the time of like the Covid seclusion orders.

Chris Martenson: Yep. Yep, and of course, you’ve got your blog which comes out twice a week now.

James Howard Kuntsler: Yep.

Chris Martenson: And people can get to that.

James Howard Kuntsler: It’s at www.Kuntlser.com and it comes out on Mondays and Fridays by about 10 minutes after 10:00 at the latest.

Chris Martenson: Yeah. And yeah, interesting comments all this falling under there. So, great writing of course!

James Howard Kuntsler: Thank you.

Chris Martenson: Check that out as well. And what are you working on now? What’s next?

James Howard Kuntsler: Well, I’m actually writing a book—I’ve been doing it for two years—about teenage anxiety and the development of young boys into men. And it’s called Young Men Blues.

And part of it is kind of a memoir of my own adolescence and I’m having a good time writing it. I always enjoy writing. I’m not one of these people who’s like agonizing over, you know, sitting down at the keyboard, you know. I’m not like drinking myself into a stupor at 3:00 in the afternoon, you know. I don’t have a whole lot of obsessive compulsive neuroses that keep me away from the task at hand. I just enjoy producing the paragraphs. It gives me a bang.

So, and this one does as much as all the others have. So, we’ll do that. I’m just not, you know, I’m not confident there will be a publishing industry when I finish it even if it’s, you know, a year from now.

Chris Martenson: Yeah. Who can be confident of anything at this point in time?

James Howard Kuntsler: Yeah.

Chris Martenson: It’s going to take a year to just see how this all settles out I’m sure.

James Howard Kuntsler: I might have to turn it into a song and dance act and do it in a local bistro.

Chris Martenson: You know, if you turn it into a piece of performance art, I will show up.

James Howard Kuntsler: Alrighty.

Chris Martenson: All right. Well, Jim, thank you so much for your time today. And I really appreciate all the work that you do in the world to help people see how things are actually stacked up.

James Howard Kuntsler:Always a pleasure to visit with you. Are we off?

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