• Podcast

    Neil Howe: The Fourth Turning Has Arrived

    History offers a guide to crisis management
    by Adam Taggart

    Sunday, June 23, 2013, 4:14 PM

In 1996, demographers William Strauss and Neil Howe published the book The Fourth Turning. This study of generational cycles ("turnings") in America revealed predictable social trends that recur throughout history and warned of a coming crisis (a "fourth turning") based on this research.

Fourth turnings are defined by disorder and great changes brought on by a breakdown of the systems and operating principles that dominated the prior three turnings.

Our society has entered a fourth turning (consisting of the twenty-year periods leading up to and out of it immediately.)

It is a season you have to move through before you are born again — so to speak — as a society, and regain institutional confidence. You have to go through a crucible to get there.

I think the fourth turning started — probably, if I were to date it now — in 2008: the realigning election in that year of Barack Obama against John McCain. And, obviously, simultaneously with that, as we all recall, an epic, historic crash of the global economy from which we still have not recovered.

We are sort of hobbling along in kind of a low-earth orbit, with continued high unemployment and excess capacity — not just in the United States, but around the world. And, of course, all the rules of economic policy seem broken and lie in fragments on the floor. People are wondering what the heck do we do in this new era?

Each of the generational cohorts living within this turning (e.g., Boomers, Gen X, Millennials) have roles to play.

This is a period when, in each of these turnings, each generation is moving in their new phase of life. Boomers are beginning to retire, they are beginning to redefine the senior phase of life. X’s are beginning to assume mid-life roles as the dominant parent generation and leaders. These are people born in the ‘60s and ‘70s. And, Millennials are fully beginning to come of age and redefine young adulthood. And, meanwhile, a very small generation is just beginning to come on stream, which remembers nothing before 2008. 

We can already see these generational divisions forming, and it is interesting how each generation is to some extent defined by the thing they have, they just have no memory of, they just barely have no memory of (e.g., Boomers are defined by the World War II that even the oldest of them cannot remember).

History gives us patterns that predict how these generational archetypes will collaborate, compete, and collide with one another as we enter into crisis. Understanding these in advance will give us a big advantage on the types of policies and solutions most likely to yield success. And we sorely need these, as the problems we're heading into have no easy answers:

There are patterns here which we recognize, and it is very important not to have historical amnesia. To look back and see where we have been, see where we are going, and more importantly, to understand the dynamics behind these social trends have familiar parallels. We just need to have the historical imagination to look far enough backwards and forward to see where else they have happened or to see where they possibly will happen again.

I am nervous. I am nervous about the future right now. I think we have a lot more deep issues, deep crises, to save in the economy. I am also very nervous about what I see geopolitically.

We cannot possibly afford the government we have promised ourselves. And, that will be a painful process of deleveraging, and it is not just deleveraging the explicit debt that we have already actually formally borrowed, it is all the implicit debt. And, I think we will deal with it, because we have no other choice.

But, my point is this: No one simply solves a terrible problem on a sunny day when they can afford, at least for the time being, to look the other way. Problems like that are faced when people have no other choice, and it is a really grim day. And, it is white-knuckle time, and horrible things are happening with markets around the world, or horrible things are happening, at least historically; we have seen that geopolitically around the world. And, that is when people are forced to act.  

Strauss and Howe's research provides another lens through which to view how the next twenty years will be remarkably different from life as we've been used to. It's one worth looking through.

Click the play button below to listen to Chris' interview with Neil Howe (60m:25s):

Transcript

Chris Martenson:  Welcome to this Peak Prosperity podcast. I am your host, of course, Chris Martenson, and we are living through one of the most exceptional periods of human existence defined on one side by extraordinary technological advances and on the other side by ecological and resource limits that we are just starting to bump up against. And I think although it is really tempting to think of this time being different, it will not be, not really. If history does not repeat, it sure does rhyme, and if looked at correctly, history is not names and dates strung along in a blur marked by events, but rather it has a structure that repeats. A grand motif that plays over and over again, but maybe with different notes.

To help us get our bearings today is Neil Howe, an American historian, economist, demographer, and best known for his work with William Strauss on social generations and generational cycles in American history, including the book, The Fourth Turning. He is currently president of Life Course Associates, a consulting company he founded with Strauss to apply their generational theory to real-world business and governance practices. He is also a senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on their Global Aging Initiative and a senior advisor to the Concord Coalition. And we are just delighted to have him with us today. Welcome, Neil.

Neil Howe:  Thank you, Chris. This is great, to be here.

Chris Martenson:  Excellent. I want to start with The Fourth Turning, which walks the reader through, what, five hundred years of Anglo-American history, and reveals a cyclical pattern that repeats itself about every eighty years or so, the length of a long, human life, I guess. Can you tell us about that cycle and its components for people who have not read the book, so we can start with that?

Neil Howe:  This was a pattern, actually, that we discovered indirectly, simply by looking first at differences in generations throughout American history. We did a book back in 1991 called Generations, and it was really a history of America told from the viewpoint of separate generations being formed, young and coming of age, mid-life leaders, and parents growing old. And we found that each group saw itself very differently than even neighboring generations, and certain had different attitudes and behaviors, collectively. But as we looked at it, not only did we see that century after century, we saw these very different generations follow each other. We found that the differences actually had a pattern within them.

And, of course, since generations are shaped by history, it means that if there is a pattern in generations, there is a pattern in history itself. And indeed, what we saw and not just in America, but in most other non-traditional societies, societies that have broken free of tradition we find an oscillation of society between periods of political and economic and outer institutional reconstruction, and eras which have been called by some social historians “awakening era,” where we rebuild the world of values, morality and religion, that is to say, more of an internal reconstruction.

It has often been noted that the great external turning points, political constitutional turning points of American history often marked by total war, occur about every eighty or ninety years apart. We are familiar with the Great Depression and World War II, the Civil War, the American Revolution. Going back before that, the gigantic struggle of the War of Spanish Succession and the glorious Revolution, which played a bit part not just in Europe, but in American colonial life, and so on, in earlier periods.

But, it is also true that roughly halfway in between these periods of sort of outer world reconstruction, we have these periods of huge inner world trauma, that at least in American history have been called the “great awakenings” of American history, and they have actually, as  been given numbers. There is the First Great Awakening, which dates back to John Winthrop or Jonathan Edwards, and then there is the Second and the Third. And it is interesting that many historians call the late ‘60s and ‘70s America’s Fifth Great Awakening, showing many of the same attributes from everything from the violence and risk-taking by the young who lash out against an elder-built world, usually built by veterans of that last great struggle to an interest in cultural creativity, personal exploration, and interestingly, even substance abuse typically peaks in these periods, and of course, before the fabrication of modern drugs, that was a huge surge in the alcohol consumption per capita, which we can actually trace going all the way back to the seventeenth century.

These are patterns which have been unearthed by social historians separately, through the tremendous literature on these. We found that we were sitting there doing huge amounts of primary research. What we did, simply, in The Fourth Turning, was to say there is a metronome, there is a governor of these cycles that people notice, cycles of realigning elections, of the K wave or the Kondratiev cycle, which is a long wave in economics, cycles in family life, and in religion and culture. All of these things are governed by this basic rhythm of generational change, all having, as you pointed out, this alternate long cycle of eighty or ninety years, this long human life you talked about. We chose the word seculum to describe it. Seculum is the Latin word meaning century. But it is interesting; it is not related to tentum or the word century from a hundred. It is an old Etruscan word in Latin, and it originally meant the length of a long human life. It was simply that. Seculum is not exactly a hundred years; it is just kind of a long time, as long as anyone can remember.

And, indeed, with some of the most interesting theories of generational cycles, actually, one that was most famously articulated by Arnold Toynbee, was that the great wars in history occur because of “generational forgetting.” And, the reason you had these great conflagrations every eighty or ninety years apart is because the generation that does not remember the last war, even as children, when they become elder political leaders, lead the world into it through the next war.

Chris Martenson:  All right. So these generations, these four turnings, the archetypes that you have outlined, are going from hero, to artist, to prophet, to nomad. Where are we right now in these turnings?

Neil Howe:  These are the generations, and of course, they move through all turnings, they are just at different ages. The turnings themselves are sort of moved from Spring to Fall to Summer to Winter. We actually numbered them, talk about First, Second, Third, Fourth Turnings.

The First Turning is what we call a high, and this is, and each of these turnings is about twenty or so years long, about the length of a phase of life. Think about the time between being born and coming of age fully as an adult. And the First Turning is a high, and these are periods which are post-crisis periods of progress and conformity, and individualism is weak; institutions are strong and forward-looking. Minorities and anything that is outside the mainstream is kind of pushed off the side of anyone’s consciousness. Vernon Carrington called these the “great barbecues” of American History.

We think of the American high of the presidencies of Truman and Eisenhower and John Kennedy. And these are typically periods on the artist archetype, this coming of age in a world that was just built just before they arrived, and typically a very conformist generation. We think of the generation that was given the label “silent,” the Silent Generation in a famous Time magazine essay in 1951. And these are people born in the late 1920s, 1930s, early 1940s. Today, they are mainly in their seventies and eighties today.

The next turning, we call an awakening, this is our Second Turning. An awakening is, I just described it; these are the great awakening eras in American history. This is a time when people tire of the social conformity, spearheaded by a new generation that does not remember the last crisis. And they lash out at all the social discipline; they want to throw it off. Everyone wants to find themselves, who they are authentically as individuals, again. Most recently, we all recall the period of the most of the 1960s, 1970s, maybe early 1980s. We went from a rebellion in the culture, mainly on college campuses, to ultimately a rebellion in the economy: anti-tax movements, anti-regulatory movements. The whole motive of this whole thing was to throw off social obligation. And pretty soon, it involved all the members of, particularly the generation coming of age, both on the right and the left to a degree, which I think even today, they do not realize how much they took part in the same general ideology, which is mainly free the individual. Free the individual from control.

And, then we entered a Third Turning. We sometimes call these, in our words, the unraveling. Third Turnings are the opposite of First Turnings. In a Third Turning, institutions are weakened, discredited; individualism is strong and flourishing. You think of Third Turning decades, these are all decades of cynicism and bad manners; you think of the 1990s or the 1920s, or the 1850s, 1760s. These are times when civic authority feels exhausted and the culture feels frenetic. And people do what worked for themselves. These are some of my favorite X’er slogans, things like, “Just Do It,” or “It Works For Me.” I love that one. It works for me. I really do not care if it works for you or not.

Chris Martenson:  Yep.

Neil Howe:  It is interesting; when you go into a bookstore recently, all the most upbeat books are about me, myself, and I. I can solve anything, I can conquer the world. I have this unbelievable confidence in myself. Any book title today having to do with anything we share collectively is down-beaten and pessimistic.  the end of family, the end of community, the end of society. And I think that is a Third Turning mood.

And, then most recently, I think our society has entered a Fourth Turning. And these are, again, these are twenty-year periods. You are not just into it and out of it immediately. I think the lesson of history is that Third Turnings always ultimately culminate in a Fourth Turning. It is a season you have to move through before you are born again, so to speak, as a society, and regain institutional confidence. You have to go through a crucible to get there.

I think the Fourth Turning started in, probably, if I were to date it now, it would be 2008, possibly a realigning election in that year of Obama, Barack Obama against John McCain. And obviously, simultaneously with that, as we all recall, an epic, historic crash of the global economy from which we still have not recovered. We are sort of hobbling long in kind of a low-earth orbit, with continued high unemployment and excess capacity, not just in the United States, but around the world. And of course, all the rules of economic policy seem to have been are broken and lie in fragments on the floor. People are wondering what the heck do we do in this new era?

And I think that this is a period when, in each of these turnings, each generation is moving in their new phase of life. Boomers are beginning to retire, they are beginning to redefine senior, the senior phase of life. X’s are beginning to assume mid-life roles as the dominant parent generation and leaders. These are people born in the ‘60s and ‘70s. And Millennials are fully beginning to come of age and redefine young adulthood. And meanwhile, a very small generation is just beginning to come on stream, which remembers nothing before 2008. And these are the kids who are now just entering the first couple of years of elementary school.

We can already see these generational divisions forming, and it is interesting how each generation is, to some extent, defined by the thing they just have barely no memory of. Boomers are defined by the World War II that even the oldest of them cannot remember. Gen X’ers are defined by the American “I,” which I would say was anything up to and until the assassination of John Kennedy, whenever they began to change so much rapidly after than in 1963. That is an event that even the oldest X’er has no memory of. And Millennials have no memory of the consciousness revolution and all the family and social experimentation of the ‘60s, ‘70s, early ‘80s. It is all over by the time they came and were first looking around. So for a millennial in school today, you know ,Woodstock is an SOL question. [Laughs]  It is as far removed from them as the New Deal is for a Boomer like myself.

That is how generations move, and of course, each generation needs to correct and compensate for the excesses of the generations that came before, often the mid-life generation, when they are coming of age in youth.

Chris Martenson:  This is fascinating, that you mentioned some of the self-help books you might find on the shelf during the unraveling, sort of the me, me, me approach. And when I look at where we are today, if we look at just the economic crisis of 2008 as maybe being a dividing line, and certainly a precipitating point for the Fourth Turning, that was really brought about, I think characterized best by the attitude that Dick Cheney espoused where he said, Deficits do not matter. And, just economically, if you look at what happened from about 1982 to about 2007, 2008, when it cracked, we were racking up debts at a far faster rate than income. So you can measure that by debt-to-GDP, you could look at that household debt levels compared to income, all of these things. But this was basically the idea that we could just borrow and borrow more faster than we were earning, and it sort of got institutionalized culturally and actually in institutions, and maybe politically. And now when we get into the Fourth Turning, so here we are in crisis, how is it that a generation either sheds or deals with what I would call an entrenched fallacy that maybe the prior generation is preserving at potentially any cost? Is that a fair way to look at it, and do you have a view on that?

Neil Howe:  Generations deal with it because they have no other choice. I am down here in Washington, D.C., and at least some of my life is dealing with public policy issues, such as what to do about the extreme imbalance of our fiscal policy. And just to add to what you explained, it is worse than just the explicit debt we have been piling up. There is also all the implicit debt, which are the unfunded liabilities of all the benefits we have promised to ourselves, which no one alive today has any intention of paying in taxes.

Chris Martenson:  Right; of course.

Neil Howe:  Which is, possibly, up to $100 trillion present value in unfunded liabilities. We cannot possibly afford the government we have promised ourselves. That will be a painful process of deleveraging, and it is not just deleveraging the explicit debt that we have already actually formally borrowed; it is all the implicit debt. And I think we will deal with it because we have no other choice. I wrote my first book, actually, with Pete Peterson back in 1988, called On Borrowed Time, and it was on this huge fiscal imbalance that we could see back then. We had these tables showing Medicare and Social Security by the year 2020, 2040. Back then, we had all the time in the world to take care of it.

Chris Martenson:  Yeah.

Neil Howe:  The Silent Generation is retiring, the small generation. A huge generation of Boomers is paying all their FICA taxes and all their spouses are working. And we have increasingly pushed toward surplus. In fact, by the very late 1990s, as you recall, we were actually in a formal surplus. Do you remember? That was just before G.W. [Bush] took over, but we completely squandered that window of opportunity, and now it is gone. Now we no longer have that leeway.

But, my point is this: No one simply solves a terrible problem on a sunny day when they can afford at least for the time being to look the other way. Problems like that are faced when people have no other choice, and it is a really grim day. And it is white-knuckle time, and horrible things are happening with markets around the world, or horrible things are happening, at least historically we have seen that, geopolitically around the world. And that is when people are forced to act.

Remember that we passed the original Social Security Act, which completely reshaped the role of modern government, in 1935 at the depths of the Depression. And I think that that is what we have to recall. These things occur when we do not want to do them; we have no other choice. We would be greatly aided by the fact that the generation which was extremely civically cohesive joined every political movement and always acted in unison with their own generational interests to a surprising degree. And that was the GI generation, also known as the Greatest Generation. They all joined the union movement back in the 1930s and 1940s, and then as soon as they started retiring in the 1960s they all became AARP members, and all of a sudden we called old people “senior citizens.” They were the ones that younger Americans felt really had earned any public benefits that they thought they deserved; we paid, because they did create the system. We knew that, so whatever they wanted, we said, Okay, you’ve got it. And they defended it. They defended those benefits. And they created the system of entitlements and to some extent, the Silent Generation, which Richard Easterlin, the demographer, called them the Lucky Generation, because they have always done so well economically in their lives.  Woody Allen has that joke about 80% of life is just showing up. [Laughs]

Chris Martenson:  Yep.

Neil Howe:  I do not know any X’er who believes that is true about their career. Anyway, they have enjoyed it. But I think the advantage now is that Boomers and X’ers do not have that political cohesion, and they will not fight at least they will not fight effectively to preserve those benefits. I talk a lot to Boomers. We do a lot of surveys of people in their 50s and early 60s, and I would say most Boomers are completely philosophical about those benefits. They say, Yeah, I don’t know. I didn’t really earn them.   I don’t know where they came from. I know I paid a lot of taxes, but I was never counting it. And, as for senior citizens, no one is going to call Boomers “senior citizens.” The term is already falling into disuse for the Silent Generation, and no X’er is going to call an ex-Woodstock hippy a senior citizen. It is just not going to happen. So, basically, the Boomers are just going to relinquish hold, and we already see Boomers preparing for it, because they are all working. None of them are retiring.

Here is an interesting statistic about the economy. Since the peak of employment, all-time peak of employment was in September of 2007, and since then the economy has lost three million jobs from then to today. But here is the killer. We have lost six million under age 60; we have gained three million over age 60. Over age 60, we have actually continued to gain jobs almost every month since the Fall of 2007. It is amazing. These Boomers are not retiring, and a lot of them, a lot more of them, are continuing to work. We do surveys of expected retirement ages, and now we are going to go up, up, up in age. So it is an interesting adjustment.

In other words, I guess what I am saying to you is, I think we are already adjusting. I think we are already deleveraging, and I think that is already shaping some of the mood of the Fourth Turning as we speak.

Chris Martenson:  It is interesting, one of the things I note in my work. I think I can grossly characterize the economic and fiscal split between Boomers and Millennials like this: The Boomers actually have everything to gain by preserving the status quo, and the Millennials have nothing to gain but plenty to lose by preserving their status quo. And I am referring to the status quo here as ever-increasing amounts of debt being incurred as a means to preserve current spending levels, yet almost none of that borrowing is really going towards long-term infrastructure improvements or other tangible investments that I think the Millennials can look at and say, Yeah, that is to my benefit.

Is this gap real, and if so, how is it going to resolve itself? I know you mentioned before that it resolves during crisis, but how would you see that playing out?

Neil Howe:  It is real, and we have to see how it plays out.  You are going to have some groups of silent Boomers who will dig in their feet. There is no question about it. I guess what I meant was, it is ultimately not going to be effective, because today’s retiring generation does not have the moral clout, the legitimacy in the eyes of other generations for those benefits, not the way that the GI generation did. And they do not have an instinct for organizing the same way that the GI’s did. So they will lose that fight.

But it is interesting, when you look at attitudes of Millennials, Millennials are a pro-government generation. They believe government ought to be doing much more for the community than X’ers and Boomers, which is why, in the last couple of elections, they voted much more for the Democratic Party than older people. We have seen this in this suddenly a very large age gap in partisanship. But I would qualify that by saying, if you look closely at what Millennials want, they want government to invest in their future. They want the social infrastructure. They want the physical infrastructure. They do not want a government dominated by entitlements to individuals. That is their parents’ thing; that is the world their parents inhabit, not the world that they really want for themselves. And so they do think more than older people that these programs need to be reformed and their future growth needs to be cut.

I think what allows these generations to avoid conflict, which could be a bitter conflict, is the fact that in their personal lives, these two generations get along so well together. One of the more remarkable generational trends recently is how well twenty-somethings get along with their Boomer parents. We have polled surveys on this. We have never seen a time since the end of World War II in which so many teenagers and college-aged students say they have no problem with their parents. They get along just great with them.

According to the UCLA freshmen poll, the share of college kids who say they want to live near their parents has nearly doubled over the past fifteen years, and we see a record share of them, as  living at home. The share of 25-to-34-year-olds living at home has gone up from 11% back in 1980 to 22% today. And it is not just the economy. One of the things you are seeing for the first time is, Millennials, even after they get a full-time job, they still live with their parents. I am noticing that around here. They get to save for their first mortgage; they get to save for their marriage.

And the disappearance of the culture gap between generations is very significant today. Young people and their parents watch the same movies, they listen to the same music, they wear the same brand-name clothing, they talk about problems in their lives, to an extent that Boomers never did with their own parents. And this is a pattern also. It is interesting that [though] the Greatest Generation were great in so many things, they had some real problems, had some real failures as parents. I think one of the greatest tragedies and disappointments of the Greatest Generation was that they were so distant from their own kids. They had recalled being so close to their own parents, you know back in the 1920s and 1930s when they were growing up, but they were so distant from their own kids.

And there was such an enormous values gulf in their own kids. And similarly, I am noticing, when I talk to Boomers today, that the biggest surprise for Boomers is that they are so close to their own kids. They expected, given their own early life, that their own kids would just give them the finger and take off, and they are not. They are hanging around; they are not going anywhere.

There is a very positive side of this, actually, and that is, extended family life becomes much closer over the next couple of decades. This could hugely ease and relieve pressure on third-party entitlement payment programs and allow families to deal with resource issues internally that we now rely on public programs for. And it could ease the burden on our tax system and on government, and allow government to spend on things, or invest in things, which truly benefit our collective future.

Chris Martenson:  This is something I want to turn to now, which is, given that we are in the Fourth Turning and it is marked I guess its placeholder name is “crisis” and as we have looked through past periods of crisis, obviously there is a lot of wars embedded in that list. That seems to be one of the defining things that comes up, but what I am really interested in is using this fascinating information. What do we do with it? Knowing that we are in crisis that started in 2008, we have twenty years of it in front of us. Based on history, what can we expect? I am really interested in what we might be able to expect economically, but also politically. What are the big trends that we could count on happening here, knowing that if I have this right, we are pretty early on in the crisis stage, this Fourth Turning?

Neil Howe:  Yeah. In the Fourth Turning, we actually lay out a morphology of how Fourth Turnings usually progress.  it starts with a catalyst, something which pushes us a little bit over the edge and out of the Third Turning. I think we already had that.  that was 2008. Suddenly, everyone kind of realizes the world is different now, all the jokes and TV shows about the “new normal.” [Laughs] I think that is it. We are in the new normal now, and so we are there.

Okay, the next thing that is going to happen, which has not happened yet, goes from the catalyst to what we call the regeneracy. That is when there begins to emerge somewhere amid the despair, the hopelessness, the individualism, the centrifugal motion of American society toward billions of pieces and separate interests and the world seems to be in chaos that there is a nexus, a political party, an interest group, somewhere in society, a place where people begin to reacquire social trust. And this begins to spread outward toward a gradual sense that there is some force out there which people can join, people can feel part of some sort of sense of community. And this is not necessarily a formal organization. I am not talking necessarily about a political party, which is usually the last thing to actually join this movement. But the sense among Americans is that they have something in common collectively which is positive, and positive energy, and usually focused on the rising generation, which in this case would be Millennials.

I think everyone is sort of amazed at how Millennials have this confidence about their future. I just did a story, was just interviewed yesterday by the L.A. Times, she interviewed me and says she does not understand; she is looking at all these opinion polls, and it just says that twenty-somethings are just so confident and optimistic about the future. [Laughs] How could they be, you know? I do not get it; all these Boomers are tearing their hair out and contemplating suicide, but these young people are so confident.  

Remember, in the 1930s, it was the coming-of-age generation, the GI generation, that was confident. And by the 1940s, they were all singing songs like “Accentuate the Positive,” and  everything was upbeat for that generation. That finally became a pathology for Boomers.

Chris Martenson:  [Laughs]

Neil Howe:  We could not stand that quality of the GI’s; they were just always optimistic. And finally, it forced many of us to just we were like Meathead with Archie Bunker, just screaming in their face.

But, the point is that we see that in Millennials today, and ultimately, that will cause a regeneracy. And the regeneracy will be a growing movement of confidence among Americans, which will eventually attach to itself to organizations, political movements, and will allow us to organize ourselves out of our problems and design long-term solutions for them.

Ultimately, the next stage in a crisis is the climax. That is when we are finally organized to do the right thing, but, of course, everything on the problem side is worse.

Neil Howe:  And in our last Fourth Turning, all the problems of the world, the depression, the trade wars, Fascism, everything became one big problem, and that was World War II. Total victory, and then that had a climax, which was probably sometime in the Fall of 1942 and the beginning of 1943, where we suddenly realized we were probably going to win this thing.

And that typically happens in a Fourth Turning. All the different problems, all the different struggles, all coalesce into one big struggle, and there is a climax. And then the final moment of the Fourth Turning is the resolution. And that is when all the treaties are signed, all the new institutions are created, the cement is wet so that things are free to be shaped any way you want them. And people are going to become masterminds of a whole new global system, which is you can imagine. At the end of this Fourth Turning, it is all going to be aided and abetted by Millennials designing these enormous information technology systems to make sure that we are all looked after, like in a game of SIMS or something, a giant SIM City.

Neil Howe:  That is going to be the new Bretton Woods, the new World Bank, the IMF, the United Nations. That is going to be a whole new global infrastructure that will set the stage for the next First Turning, an era suddenly of surprising social stability and general optimism about the future. And ultimately, a period that will be the object of growing resistance and scorn by yet another generation, who will find it so bad and arid culturally, valueless.

And, of course, history keeps moving. [Laughs] The ebb and flow does not stop. One solution always gives rise to another problem.

Chris Martenson:  Ah, interesting.

I want to turn back to where we are in this story, which is somewhere between catalyst and regeneracy.

Neil Howe:  Yes.

Chris Martenson:  And that sense of community, because community is something we hearken on a lot in my community, and we talk about it, and I see people searching for it. If I could define it this way, there is a sense of people are seeking something they know is missing and they want more of this thing called community, maybe with a loose internal definition of what that is. They will know it when they see it.

Neil Howe:  Right.

Chris Martenson:  And, I think back to things like the Grange movement, which really, people self-organized for a set of purposes and I am seeing Transition Town movements today, and others, still early, they feel early. People grasping for how do we put this back together? Also, a sense that current life as it is configured, if you are living within the framework of the dominant culture, is fairly isolated, is fairly shallow, from a cultural standpoint. Many connections are not really all that deep from either work, with neighbors, sometimes with family itself, and there is a sense that we want to re-deepen that. Is that what you mean by regeneracy? Is that a coming back of community?

Neil Howe:  I think that is absolutely right, and I see it among a lot of X’ers and Millennials trying to live it a lot of X’ers who have not reentered the formal economy as we have seen a huge exodus from the labor force, from people aged 25 to 55. And they are not counted as unemployed. We have sort of hidden this problem.

But part of what they are doing is they are doing things in their community. Gen X’s are obviously big do-it-yourself-ers, and they are beginning to regenerate the community that way. It is interesting that Frederick Lewis Allen, who wrote so many wonderful books about the 1920s and 1930s as he lived through them, when he wrote about the 1930s, he described it as the decade of community and belonging. He said the 1920s were all about Babylon and were all about moving to the cities and jazz and just sort of losing yourself in the urban throngs and doing wild things. He said, in the 1930s, everything changed. Everyone wanted to bond themselves with their neighbors, their localities, their regions.

This is the time when Roosevelt and his Brain Trust were inventing all of these Alphabet Soup agencies and patches and badges you can identify yourself with. It was a great seed time for community and professional organizations in America. It was local color in the fiction. We had all these local color writers. Everyone remembers the WPA murals, which show these people all in groups pulling and hauling at common causes these murals that are now in our train stations and our airports around America. And I think that is what we recall from the 1930s.

And this could be very interesting. That mood, which was so much fused to where this coming of age, very team-oriented GI generation back then it is going to be very interesting to locate over the next decade. And that is going to be the spirit of America. That is going to be the thing which changes us as a people and ultimately gives us the power to solve these huge challenges that we face that are going to manifest itself, I think, in further economic and geopolitical crises. Because I feel that the kind of economic recovery that we have had so far is inherently stunted and unstable. It depends upon this forced hot air and kind of greenhouse armor-plating of Ben Bernanke’s bond purchases. [Laughs] And it also depends upon the fact that the labor market is hugely underutilized and that we have no labor pressure for wages.

So as long as we kind of stay in what I call this “low-earth orbit,”  the economy kind of functions, but as soon as we go back to full capacity, nothing is going to work anymore. And so we are teetering between the forces of deflation and the inflationary forces of full capacity, which we cannot possibly handle. This quantitative easing is like the roach motel. The Fed chairman can go in, but I do not know how he gets out. [Laughs]

Chris Martenson:  There is no way out. [Laughs]

Neil Howe:  I do not know how he goes out. We have corporate earnings that are at a record share of national income today. If that reverts to mean, you can just imagine what happens to the S&P 500, which basically means the economy right now, at least for the stock market to function, depends upon zero wage pressure.

So, I am nervous. I am nervous about the future right now. I think we have a lot more deep issues, deep crises to face in the economy. I am also very nervous about what I see geopolitically, and this is another analogy to the 1930s. I think the Eurozone is going to break up. I think it is going to start with Southern Europe, and it is not going to be because of sovereign debt default. Mario Draghi can always write a bigger check than any investor trying to bet against him.

So that was never an issue. The issue is political disaffection from a euro, which has become a prison for Southern Europe. The euro for Southern Europe today is what the gold standard was back in the 1930s.

It is a jail for those societies. Greece today would be vastly better off if they had gone back to the drachma back when this thing first surfaced in 2008. They would already be eligible today for new credit.  if Argentina is any guide, they would have everything renewed, and they would have a competitive currency. It boggles my mind that these countries have stayed in it.

Here is what is interesting, that the euro was designed by a generation that was not really interested they were partly interested in economic integration, but what they really wanted was to assure that Europe would not fight any more wars.  this was the war-child generation of World War II, who are fanatics about European unity. And you still see these guys in their seventies. Many of them are still in official capacities in the EU. And they are die-hard advocates of staying in the euro. But younger generations just do not get it. They do not remember any of that.

And you see younger people in Europe. They are the ones that think national anthems are fine, they love their countries’ flags. You see huge changes in community and national identification of younger people in Europe. And, perhaps more ominously, we see some of those same changes in East Asia. Look at the phenomenon of Shinzo Abe. Look at the new generation of leaders in China. We see rising nationalism there, and this worries me.

As you can imagine, Chris, I look a lot at analogies to the 1930s. I think we all remember what happened back then. And Abenomics. What is Abenomics, except an effort to push deflation and unemployment onto other countries? I think the word, which was used, it was coined by the Brazilian finance minister back in 2010, he called it “currency wars.” I think back in the 1930s, we called that “beggar thy neighbor.”

But the point is that there are patterns here which we recognize, and it is very important not to have historical amnesia, to look back and see where we have been, see where we are going, and more importantly, to understand the dynamics behind these social trends, have familiar parallels. If we just had the historical imagination to look far enough backwards and forward to see where else they have happened or to see where they possibly will happen again.

Chris Martenson:  Neil, one place I see that very clearly, and tell me if I am stretching this too far, but in the 1930s we had this rise of fascism, and today we have this rise of corporatism, and one of the most important things I want to relate this to is this idea of what Abenomics is really trying to do.

Let us be clear about something. This is a point I make over and over and over again because the press gets this absolutely back-asswards time and time again. Deflation is not a bad thing if you are a consumer. Consumers love falling prices. I would love to know that college would be cheaper in ten years for my kids than it is today.

But deflation is a killer for banks, and that is a certainty. And for financial institutions, so when the Bank of Japan in cahoots with Abe says what we have to do is just create inflation at any cost, they are not doing that for the benefit of their society at large. The benefit, if there is one, would be ancillary. If their financial institutions are strong, the thinking goes, then the people benefit, too, because then they have a better functioning economy. It is not a linkage I draw all the way through. I think sometimes they are confusing coincident indicators.

Neil Howe:  The way I would put it is this. The problem with deflation is when you see all these central bankers talk about that, and most economists will talk about that it is the zero-bound problem.  We cannot lower interest rates lower than zero. And also the fact that you cannot actually cut peoples’ wages; that just never happens. Nominal wages never get cut. If you cannot cuts interest rates below zero, and you cannot cut nominal wages, then a deflationary economy creates a very asymmetrically different situation than an economy that goes from 6% to 4%, or 4% to 2%. You go to 2% to -2%, and you are in a huge new Alice-in-Wonderland place. With shrinking capacity, shrinking labor, shrinking capital utilization, that is when you do get a debt deflation spiral that actually involves a decline in GDP.

There is a very interesting piece out. By the way, all of the people on what I call the “reflationist left,” sort of the Brad DeLong and Paul Krugman and all these people that think the government is not doing nearly enough to stimulate the economy, they all love Abenomics. They all love it. There is a paper out by Christina Romer, who is at UC Berkeley, and she was the Chairman of Barack Obama’s CEA up until 2010. And it is a paper basically saying that Obama’s effort to create inflation out of nothing by whatever means he can, by just bringing it out of his hat, just drawing this rabbit out of his hat, is exactly what FDR did in 1933. And he did it successfully, and my god, Shinzo Abe will do it successfully, and this is the best chance that Japan has.

Here is this group that is ecstatic about it, because that is what the super-Keynesian reflationist left wants, what it always has wanted, which was enormous fiscal and monetary stimulus together, to get these economies going again. Because once you have inflation, then you can create negative real interest rates by keeping interest rates low, and then you can really zoom the economy. You can create any kind of stimulus you want, and that is what they are after. It does have, obviously, the extent that you are partly expanding through dropping your interest rates and devaluing your currency. There is an extent which comes at the expense of neighbors, at the expense of trading partners in other countries. And it will breed resentment.

China, for example, does not want to drop its interest rates. It has its own monetary problems, but it is going to suffer in terms of its trade with Abenomics. The European Union does not want to drop its interest rates, but they are going to suffer as the yen declines the way it has. So it is going to create animosities, and it is going to create problems.

I think you are right about banks. You know what banks hate? Banks hate a flat-yield curve. Because banks borrow short and they lend long. And if that yield curve has no slope, they are in trouble. That is what they do not like. So banks have been hurting lately, and I think you are right about that. Because you look around the world, and that yield curve is pretty flat everywhere you look.

Chris Martenson:  Sure, and when I look at the history of economics, though, we had periods of inflation and deflation prior to 1913, and they happened. And you had your whole Schumpeter creative destruction, which would come and go, and my analysis now says that what we did was we accumulated far too much debt, both implicit and explicit. And instead of allowing those to wash out, the central banks are, and I think rightly, they are afraid. They are afraid of what happens if this becomes a self-sustaining, negative feedback spiral, as you say.

Neil Howe:  Yeah.

Chris Martenson:  Because what will happen is all those bad debts will wash out, and the pendulum will probably overswing. They will probably clear out some okay ones, too, and it will be a pretty nasty reset button. But really, that is a failing of the idea that the business cycle has been terminated. Greenspan rode out to slay the business cycle; he claimed victory on that front. I believe what he did was, he stored potential energy for a future crisis, and the snow just accumulated on the cornice; it did not actually dissipate. And so now we have a situation where, I think you are right, they are in a box.

They cannot let deflation happen, because it would be so awful, yet at the same time we do not have any of the ingredients you need for a proper inflation. So what do you do? You just keep printing, you cross your fingers, you hope for the best. But like you, I have the sense that there is another shoe to drop, and that is the last part of this podcast with you. I would love to know how do people insulate themselves or protect themselves or plan or invest, if you have advice there. But also, how do corporations, institutions, navigate this environment, knowing this sort of macro backdrop that you have.

Neil Howe:  I think mainly, to offer what seems obvious, is, to stay liquid, know exactly where your investments are. I think that Ben Bernanke. as well as Abe and all these people that are pursuing QE, basically want to take away the returns on risk-free fixed-rate instruments to push you into equities. They want to push you in to risking your markets to get the economy going. The stock market for the first time ever has become an instrument of policy. We have never had that before. I think it is one of the most remarkable and sort of unobserved features of the last couple of years. That the stock market – people say, oh, the stock market is going up. That must be great. That always was the case, because the stock market was always investors acting freely, giving their own estimation of what the present values and future dividends and earnings were.

That is what the stock market was. Now, it has become an instrument of policy by absolute design, people are being almost forced into investing in equities, because the Fed is deliberately making every other option unprofitable, or taking any rate of return on it, in order to get you to invest in that direction. And I think that that is why I said earlier that this current rally has a hothouse quality to it. It is like a beautiful orchid growing in the middle of winter, because there is this wonderful little construction that has been placed around it. So I do not trust this rally. I do not believe in it, and I think once it washes out, once it comes down, we will be facing the same reality we were before.

Look, I tell people, families, to get more involved in your community. We know in Fourth Turnings, everyone is going to require more, their neighbors, their friends, their region, their locality, and I find America is already drifting in that direction. If you look at Buy Local movements, and flash mobs, and just all the stuff going on today, and you look at the surveys, you see this, too.

Andy Kohout runs the Pew Research Center. He says there has been this huge movement of the American public just over the last decade, away from globalism and all these beliefs in multilateral institutions. Everyone now believes in their own region, and I think that, again, you see that very strongly among the young, to go with that, to become involved with that. Because one thing that we recall from previous Fourth Turnings is that there will be times in a Fourth Turning when your involvement in your community, being known to friends and having contacts, people who know people who can help you in trouble, becomes very important – particularly people who know people in positions of power, in government, who can help you. Because what government does becomes very important in a Fourth Turning. This is what I tell businesses. In the 1990s, you did not want to do anything with government. Stay off their radar screen. Maybe if you are really good they will not even look for you to tax you, you know.

Chris Martenson:  [Laughs]

Neil Howe:  Today, that is different. Today, you need to know what government is doing, because I think in the years to come, public authority could become extremely important and could suddenly acquire vast powers as the crisis elements we have talked about pose new dangers to people. So I think that is another thing people ought to do.

I am wary about investing in emerging markets. I find emerging markets are the tail end of the whip. They have done really good under QE. There is a kind of a carry trade now; you can borrow short in all these high-income countries, and you can invest in these emerging market stock markets. I find that very risky. I would not do that. I think that when the high-income countries, particularly the United States, do badly again, those markets will come down the fastest. They will come down the furthest.

I think investing in Japan is a very interesting play right now, and it is maybe for the strong of heart, if you are willing to do it. I think Abenomics is assuming risk that may be uncorrelated with the rest of the world. And so if you want something that probably will not go up or down the same as say the EU or the dollar, or the U.S. dollar and the U.S. markets, that may be an interesting play for diversification, because I think something special is going on there.

So it is going to be a difficult time. It is going to be a tough time. And let me just say further on the question you asked about inflation: Right now, unlike a lot of people, I do not see this as a fundamentally inflationary era. I see this as a fundamentally deflationary era, and I said that consistently since 2008, and I remember in all of those years, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, just people constantly saying, Oh, my god. Hyperinflation is about to break out. You can’t create all that money; you can’t print all that money. But that money that gets printed, that high-powered money that the Fed creates, just sits there as excess reserves. People have no use for it. We have a deficit of trust today in the global economy, and when there is no trust, no money gets created. No credit becomes created, and so the fundamental forces of the world today remain deflationary.

The consumer price index (CPI) around the world is hitting record lows, even now, in the Spring of 2013. Ten-year public rates world-wide and the IMF and the World Bank, they measure this stuff, is now at lowest rates ever since World War II, or since going back even before then, probably to the Great Depression. Commodity prices, most remarkably – and Chris, you may have your own views about this; it is remarkable – they are down lately. Precious metals, energy, wood; amazingly, a lot of the constituent raw materials for construction you would expect to go up if GDP were planning to go up. What is going on? Is it just China? Has China over -stockpiled? What is going on here?

So, I guess that is maybe my final comment, is that do not discount the strength of the deflationary tide that is not just in America, but around the world today. It is not abated yet.

Chris Martenson:  With that, we are going to draw this podcast to a close. Neil, you have been fantastic. Just, if I could summarize what I heard, this is a time where one summary element was your saying this is a time to avoid risk knowing that the Federal Reserve and other central banks are really using the stock market as an instrument of policy, as one thing. But they are really pushing and shoving people toward risk, with the idea that the tail can wag the dog.

Neil Howe:  Right.

Chris Martenson:  Maybe it can; maybe it cannot. But in the context of avoiding risk, you stay liquid, you know where your money is, you maintain and enhance connections with important people – government people particularly, if that makes sense for you – and community, because we are entering a period where community is probably your greatest determinate of outcome and happiness as we go forward. Did I get that right?

Neil Howe:  Nothing to disagree with there.

Chris Martenson:  Great. Tank you so much for your time. This has been fascinating. We are going to post this at the site, spread this around. We are going to have a great discussion under it, because I think having this social construct and scaffolding to begin to understand where we are in this story is really, really helpful. Not just for knowing where we are, but potentially helping us understand where we are going, so I want to thank you for that.

Neil Howe:  Great. Thanks, Chris. It was a pleasure to be here.

About the Guest
Neil Howe

Neil Howe is a historian, economist, and demographer who writes and speaks frequently on generational change in American history and on long-term fiscal policy. He is cofounder of LifeCourse Associates, a marketing, HR, and strategic planning consultancy serving corporate, government, and nonprofit clients. He has coauthored six books with William Strauss, including Generations (1991), 13th Gen (1993), The Fourth Turning (1997), and Millennials Rising (2000). His other coauthored books include On Borrowed Time (1988). And more recently Millennials Go to College (2007), and Millennials in the Workplace (2010). He is also a senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, where he helps lead the CSIS "Global Aging Initiative," and a senior advisor to the Concord Coalition. He holds graduate degrees in history and economics from Yale University. He lives in Great Falls, Virginia.

Related content
» More

165 Comments

  • Mon, Jun 24, 2013 - 12:26am

    #1
    treebeard

    treebeard

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Apr 18 2010

    Posts: 551

    Many layers

    Interesting discussion, yet another layer in fabric of our time.  While thought provoking, nothing in the discussion really rang true for me.  It seems that there are a number of broader arcs overlaying the generation cycles discussed that are having a greater impact.

    The old empires of europe and america are failing as a small cadre of privately held central banks and multational are still trying to hold onto centralized power.  Europe and america are going broke as third world giants are starting to ascend the international stage.  Capital intensive centralized solutions are giving way to localized solutions as a globalized consciousness wakes up.  "Think global, act local" is now a reality, as connectivity is transforming the world.

    Hucksters, corporations and "entrepreneurs" are still trying to frantically get out in front of the latest "trend" trying to monetize new oportunities.  Meanwhile workplace participation is at all time lows despite a falling "unemployment" rate.  I would agree people are now becoming do-it-yourselfer's but both out of immediate necessity and but also from a long term board system failure that come at end of a two thousand year old cycle.

    We are being made new by the changes, we are transforming the world just as we are becoming transformed by the world.  Resource depletion is setting a new table that transcends generational cycles of the past.  Recent american history (last 200 years) is an aboration that seem unlikely to repeat itself again anytime soon in any fashion.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Mon, Jun 24, 2013 - 12:40am

    Reply to #1
    treemagnet

    treemagnet

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 14 2011

    Posts: 279

    I'm guessing....

    You haven't read The 4th Turning.  For me,  I enjoyed the podcast…despite Chris's lukewarm reception to the idea/concept/idea the guests views represent, I especially dialed in on the idea that each generations solution becomes another's problem.  I was surprised, pleasantly so, regarding Howe's grasp of economics in both historical and present terms, and their implications.  4th Turnings mean bad things, and I've learned we don't discuss bad things in detail here at PP without controversy – but we should.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Mon, Jun 24, 2013 - 1:47am

    #2
    bientum

    bientum

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Nov 25 2011

    Posts: 31

    I've read it, big fan

    I've read the book and refer to it constantly.  I believe in cycles definately.  To the previous commentor, its not about bad things, its just that we are at a point in the cycle where we hit a crisis.  Life will continue, we must remain positive despite what's going on.  In my interpretation, one day we will all collectively become quite uniform once again, as they did after WWII.  They were called the 'grey suits' cause they all looked exactly the same.  If you image a movie set in the 50s with men rushing around in cities all looking the same.  Something like that will happen again.  We will conform collectively, and work together.  It is definately a tiny bit odd to say that there is a cycle, because that in itself is paranormal.  Its like something bigger than us is at play.  But I'm definately a fan of this idea.  Good on you Howe, great book. 

    I am actually writing a similar book to Howe's yet quite different again.  Nearly complete.  My cycle encompasses the 'Great Year' and a pattern.  I've been wanting to tell Howe about it for a long time, hope you get the message and are open to the idea.   

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Mon, Jun 24, 2013 - 2:30am

    Reply to #1

    westcoastjan

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jun 04 2012

    Posts: 177

    Have not read the book yet...

    But it is next on the reading list. I found this article helpful to give me a basic insight into what I will be reading about later. I am a tail end babyboomer (1959) and like some others have previously said, I find myself in limbo about where I belong – the boomers or X'er's. I do agree with the assertion that there is evidence of many positive inter-generational relationships. This will need to be further cultivated to help effect solutions to what is sure to be difficult times ahead.It was also said previously that there was too much general agreement on PP. We gain nothing if that is all we are doing. We should be able to discuss bad things in detail without generating controversy.
    My take is that this site has gained a reputation as one of the better sites around, part of that reputation coming from professionalism of both the content and how the site is managed, including discussion management. To use an analogy, PP is like a fine restaurant, and when in a fine restaurant, it is generally understood that good manners be used. Conversely, PP is not a fast food joint, where, like some other financial sites out there, the comments are "anything goes" and the insults fly. When it gets like that, what is the point? There are a lot of extremely intelligent people here who have real insights to share and it would be really nice to see that intellect used constructively in discussions of even difficult topics. We all benefit from it, when it is done well.
    We are at a really important junction in time, where hard choices and decisions are going to need to be made to navigate through tough times. If the people who "get it" – such as the many people who frequent this site – cannot have the hard discussions that will challenge our thinking and lead us to making the right decisions for ourselves and our families/communities, then we have little hope of effecting positive change. If we can't do it, who can?
    Jan
     
     

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Mon, Jun 24, 2013 - 2:54am

    #3

    tommyguy

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Sep 30 2008

    Posts: 19

    Crisis

    I agree with treemagnet.  I was interested in Howe's observation about the congeniality between Millenials and their Boomer parents, which I think we all can see.  It suggests to me a greater likelihood for a foreign trigger of the Crisis.  And it may offer hope of a less violent path through.  We all know that debt and unfunded liabilities will have to be renounced…but it will be a lot easier if we have overseas fall guy.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Mon, Jun 24, 2013 - 6:25am

    #4

    Grover

    Status Gold Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 15 2011

    Posts: 691

    Without Community, You're All Alone

    When I read the book, history finally made sense because there was a context for names and dates to fit within. I'm glad I listened to this podcast. I had forgotten how governmental institutions will be rebuilt in the regeneracy. That is a component in my personal community building that I've overlooked. So far, everything I've done has been in spite of government.

    Neil's advice for the future tended toward financial aspects. To me, investing in Japan right now is akin to watching a soufflè bake knowing your kid always slams the door. Will it be done in time? Worry about investing when the High comes around. 

    I wish he had focused more on community building to improve the odds of getting through the crisis. I see all the generations being useable and necessary for a vibrant community. Each generation has something to offer. Each should be utilized. Each should be welcome. As we get further in this cycle, the needs will become more obvious. If you know what to expect, you can plan accordingly.

    Grover

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Mon, Jun 24, 2013 - 9:44am

    #5

    Arthur Robey

    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 03 2010

    Posts: 1814

    Circles? If only.

    Exponential curves impress me more than circles.

    They are more powerful than the curves I knew as a young man.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Mon, Jun 24, 2013 - 9:51am

    #6
    treebeard

    treebeard

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Apr 18 2010

    Posts: 551

    Universal Truths

    I have not read the book.  I do like the thinking that brings in diverse disciplines, I have always liked reading cultural historians, which comes across in the interview.  My favorite is William Irwin Thompson who can be a little arcane, who takes a deeper and broader view of human history and culture.

    I guess the stumbling block that I have with the basic premise of this twenty year cycle, which appears to be presented as a normal part of the evolution of human culture, where one generations solutions become the nexts problem, in MHO, is the signature of a dysfunctional culture (perhaps this is addressed in the book), and is nothing like "normal".

    There are cultures where this intergenerational "forgetting" is not the norm, where there is not strife between generations.  I don't think that we are condemned to  repeat this cycle ad infinitum. These are all symptoms of a sick culture that is trying to heal and course correct, but for a set of complex reasons is unable to do so. There are underlying reasons for this dysfunction, which are being addressed and healed in our time, which to me is amazing and very exciting.

    This thinking seems to be tangled in the symptoms of a disease which has been taken as normal, while missing the transformative deeper movements that are emerging in our times.  Perhaps I have missed something, curious to hear feed back.  Right now this book is not on my reading list.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Mon, Jun 24, 2013 - 11:08am

    #7
    sdmptww

    sdmptww

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Nov 18 2008

    Posts: 13

    A boomers perspective on cycles

    I did read this book right after it was first published and another time later.  I own it and have recommended it to a number of friends.  I had read their book Generations: The History of America's Future, 1584-2069, which explains the 4 generational cycles in detail and was excited to read T4T.  I did find it constructive in helping me view the micro-event responses (generations moving through time) occurring.  For me time is a spiral, we move around the circle but the location is always a bit different.  Sometimes we move up the spiral, sometimes down the spiral.  Long-term there is no such thing as only upward progress.  And with any plotted line on a graph, the view of the movement depends on how close in you are to the details.  The fact that there are larger cycles coming to a transition at this moment in time doesn't preclude generational cycles having some impact on what is occurring.

    This is a little like understanding epigenetics and the influence of environment on genes.  We inherited some things that don't change and we inherit a lot that can change with environmental influences (nutrition, exposure to pollutants, etc).  Our generations have some aspects that are "hardwired" and some that adapt with the events we must handle.  If you aren't aware that boomers, as a group (not necessarily every individual), tend to be seriously attached to their view of the world and do not move easily and can be downright dictatorial, you've not been paying much attention.  That works well for some crises and not so much for others.  If you read the book Generations (and it is no easy effort) you will understand much better what is in T4T and how it may influence the crises we are in.

    Each generation has much to offer as we stumble and trip through this series of messes.  None of the generations have all of the answers or all of the best management skills.  We must stop letting media talking heads on both sides pit generations against each other.  While I agree that unfunded liabilities and government bennies that have been promised but not paid for must be dealt with and all will need to sacrifice, some of the words and tone I've seen here and elsewhere isn't going to bring us to consensus quickly and my sense is sooner than later would be better.  We must see the issues as a whole and not individual parts and certainly not as another generations need to give up.  That isn't something humans do well and Americans are particularly bad at it.  We certainly do need to stop worshiping our Founding Fathers (and Mothers) as the last folks in the U.S. with any good ideas on governance and get on with creating something better given the world we actually live in.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Mon, Jun 24, 2013 - 1:26pm

    Reply to #6
    treemagnet

    treemagnet

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 14 2011

    Posts: 279

    You'll love it

    based on your posts, I think.   I know its just one book, but what a book! Grover, I don't know who said it first, but my favorite expression for Japan is 'a bug looking for a windshield'. 

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Mon, Jun 24, 2013 - 1:45pm

    #8

    Greg Snedeker

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: Oct 22 2012

    Posts: 380

    The Missing X

    I haven't read the book, but I plan to this summer. Treemagnet and Treebeard I don't think you are necessarily at odds. We may be in both types of cycles, one small, the other large. I find it interesting how historians use musical terms to describe the cycles and flows of society, eras, and nature. The "rhythm" of life, living in "harmony," a "metronome." Listen to Beethoven's fifth symphony. It is built through the use of  isomorphism from the very first motif, this motif being the first small "cycle," which becomes the building block for the entire work.  We may be experiencing a smaller cycle within a larger. So Treebeard you may be looking at the much larger cycle, and Treemagnet focusing on the smaller. 

    The archetypes correspond to C.G. Jung's basic archetypes of the individual, and the collective. Hero/Shadow, Anima/Animus, Journey/Death and Rebirth, etc… these are not just personality traits and symbols, but life cycles within the individual, collective society, and the universe. 

    I  find it interesting how much of the interview centered around the boomers and millenials. Xers were mentioned, but not really discussed in a meaningful way (this is where Jung would point out that the shadow side is pushed back into the unconscious). Often the Xers are lumped in with the boomers, and sometimes boomers don't want to be classified as such and try to take on the X label. Jan, I love your posts, but I would like to say that you firmly fall within the years of the boomers, but with that said you may feel your narrative more aligns with the Xers.  

    I think the fact that the boomers are holding onto their jobs well past the age of "retirement" is causing resentment in the Xers, not the Millenials. Is it that the boomers are holding onto the jobs to prepare themselves, or is it that they don't want to relinquish their control? The comment that the boomers have no intention of being called senior citizens is somewhat revealing. The hero archetype is one that is collectively dominating our culture right now. We (especially in America…the world "hero"<sarc>)   have completely fallen in love with it, and those who have the most control have fallen in love with it the most. The indications of this is most evident in the emphasis we put on our leaders (CEO compensation in particular).

    I am seeing more community involvement as well, which is really wonderful. I am also seeing more ground up solidarity in the workplace as well, so the beauracratic top-down decision making is being challenged.

    In the end, I feel the labels that we use to classify individuals only divide us. Maybe the fourth turning is a time (however that unfolds) to shed these labels so we can see each others as fellow human beings within a interconnected universe, and not as the labels we classify each other.   

     

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Mon, Jun 24, 2013 - 1:56pm

    #9

    Arthur Robey

    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 03 2010

    Posts: 1814

    To prove your point wise woman.

      If you aren't aware that boomers, as a group (not necessarily every individual), tend to be seriously attached to their view of the world and do not move easily and can be downright dictatorial, you've not been paying much attention

    I shall proceed to prove your point.

    Where do you see cycles in this? Just show me how this is utterly wrong and I shall retire to my rocking chair and suck my toothless gums and wear a silly grin.

    Some are mindreaders and say that I am happy about this. To them I reply "Try to read your own mind first before reading mine."

    And I have in no way discounted the exponential curve that science and technology are displaying.

    The only relief that I can get from my models is to observe my immediate world. To shrink my horizons right down.

    The trouble is that I have become used to the expanded view that my civilization offers me. In the Zambezi valley I saw a woman toiling on a bare patch of dirt, with a baby on her back, another by her side and another on the way. Her horizons had a radius of 100 meters and whatever she could remember was the length of  her T axis. Civilization  offers us too much to toy with the Blue Pill.

    Just show me that my model is wrong and I will go quietly.

     

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Mon, Jun 24, 2013 - 4:03pm

    #10
    sdmptww

    sdmptww

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Nov 18 2008

    Posts: 13

    Exponential curves versus Generational personalities that cycle

    Arthur, your charts really have nothing to do with my quote that you reference.  Hard to tell if you are being serious or something else.  The screwed up current messes have been developing for most of the last century with a serious speed up since WWII.  That really has little to do with the generational cycles Howe is describing.  You are describing the crises, Howe is describing generational personalities and how they, in aggregate, tend to deal with the crises they are dealt each time around and where they tend to be in the generational decision-making when the crises reaches a tipping point.  If both books are read, this is a lot clearer than can be gained in a brief interview.

    The reason we can't sort through the problems and identify the causes and not the symptoms and determine which can be fixed/solved and which can't and we must therefore adapt to, is we talk at each other more than to each other and love to blame others rather than ourselves in aggregate.  And a lot of people currently "in charge" are busy protecting the status quo, taking pot shots at the other political sides, and trying to keep the little peoples happy enough they don't really start figuring out what is going on.  That has also repeated in prior declines of civilizations.

    The cycles of history/time are the patterns of civilizations and they certainly do repeat themselves.  This time may have different crises and different technologies but we are still headed down the same road.  We are not the first civilization to experience climate change, resource depletion, devastating wars or a shift in the demographics of births and deaths and we won't be the last unless we continue to live with our heads up our butts arguing about the symptoms and not the causes because this time we've created the globalization beast that left uncontrolled will do enough damage to seriously thin all populations.  The world won't end but it may have different life forms.  The cycles of generations, as Howe describes, is defining a repeating "personality" for each generation that tends to be reflected in how they deal with the issues they are experiencing and where they are in time when the SHTF.  It is not the definitive answer to what is happening now, it is one way to put a frame around it to see it better.

    I like exponential curves too but you can get lost in the woods of the ups and downs, focusing on the nosebleeds rather than figuring out how to stop the wagon to get off.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Mon, Jun 24, 2013 - 4:22pm

    Reply to #10
    treemagnet

    treemagnet

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 14 2011

    Posts: 279

    Good reply.

    So, if you could do anything you wanted – say….five things.  What five things would you do to address the economic mess we find ourselves in.  Paint with a broad brush, but no world peace stuff.  Curious as to your fix -from a boomers perspective.  Its a question I've asked myself – easier to ask than answer! 

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Mon, Jun 24, 2013 - 4:59pm

    #11
    VeganDB12

    VeganDB12

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jul 18 2008

    Posts: 107

    I am seeing two points of

    I am seeing two points of view emerging in the discussion.  Among many others.

    One view is that the turnings are relevant, important, and generational influences are to be reckoned with and not ignored.

    The other view is that the turnings are inconsequential or at least small relative to the upcoming exponential growth in population, resource depletion etc… as outlined by Arthur's favorite graph.  Although as I read his posts about it I feel sad and think it is his least favorite graph. As I recall from prior posts it leaves him very concerned about his family and their futures. Population growth may outpace the turnings.

    NB:I thought Arthur was being self effacing in referencing the quote about boomers being dictatorial, I assume he is a boomer.

     

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Mon, Jun 24, 2013 - 5:18pm

    #12

    debu

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Aug 16 2009

    Posts: 36

    Useful Heuristic Tools

    I agree that cycles can be useful heuristic tools but will what happened 50, 100 or 200 years ago really be  relevant as we enter the age of climate chaos and peak cheap oil/declining net energy?

    It is hard to not think that this time it may be different and previous historical patterns won't play out in the same manner.

    In any case, it is not an either/or proposition.  One can take into consideration cycles and exponential curves in trying to make sense of what lies ahead.  The greatest mistake probably is to be over-confident in thinking it is even a little knowable.

     

     

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Mon, Jun 24, 2013 - 6:11pm

    #13

    davefairtex

    Status Diamond Member (Offline)

    Joined: Sep 03 2008

    Posts: 3082

    many layers

    Yes, many layers.  I liked that comment best.  Some of this stuff is based on – in some sense – physicality and the various truths of our existence on earth, and how that interoperates with memory, belief systems, thinking, and experience.  Others are strictly physical effects.

    Many different things are happening at once.  Think of each "thing" as a wave, in physics, with its own power and cyclicality.  Sometimes the waves reinforce each other, sometimes they cancel, but they definitely all interact.

    For instance, the "turning" effect is based on the lifespan of a human being, and the generational memory that goes along with that lifespan.  Its no accident that Glass-Stegall was flushed after all those who had actually lived through the Great Depression were in retirement homes or gone.  WW1 came about after people with any memory of the last general european war had all died off.  Revolutionaries are passionate, their children moderate, and their grandchildren apathetic.  Possibly it also says that even those who remember history are doomed to repeat it too.  [Just because Bernanke knows about the Depression doesn't mean he can simply wave away the massive debt bubble pop that was the true cause]

    Then there are resource depletion effects.  Coal powered England's industrial revolution, but – it eventually depleted, and how do we imagine this affected their wealth curve?  Its always more expensive (and it makes you more vulnerable) to construct an Empire to get stuff rather than simply dig stuff out of the ground at home.  So that "critical resource depletion" curve is overlayed on the human lifespan curve.

    Then there are demographic/population effects.  Rich nations population growth look vastly different from poor nations populations.  And young populations act much crazier than the older ones.  That's why Greek protesters are mostly civil, while the Arab Spring protests – much less so.  Its not about Arabs per se, I claim its about the fact the Greeks are (on average) 43, while the Egyptians are 25, and the Syrians – 22.  (Boy, that's young).  So the demographic curve is overlayed on the lifespan and resource curve.

    Then on top of that, add a national development curve.  Agriculture, industrialization, service, finance, decay and collapse.  And aggregate that into a regional dominence curve.  "Wealth moves east-to-west" with a 100 year cycle.

    Then overlay a 4-year interest-rate central bank-managed boom/bust cycles on top of that.

    And how about the 60-year debt supercycle?

    Then governmental repression-revolution cycles; how long does a dictatorship survive?  What are its cycles?  Lenin to Stalin to Brezhnev to Gorbachev to … a new cycle.  Or maybe that's just the Turning effects, with government simply being a local expression.

    And of course each nation has its own set of these, and they impinge on each other – the effects of this web of signals, some canceling each other out, some reinforcing each other's power, are what cause things to happen in the world.  Arab Spring blew up Egypt, while Spain's Spring – ho hum.  Why did one light fire while the other fizzled out?  Egypt must have had a bunch of waves reinforcing each other, while Spain had some canceling each other out.  Imagine being able to track all these effects.  Hari Seldon's project.  Wouldn't that be fun?

    Anyhow, for me the Turning concept is just one wave with a particular cyclicality and power.  If you haven't taken physics perhaps that means nothing – perhaps suffice it to say this just provides society with a particular bias during this phase.  There are a lot of other waves happening at the same time, and much like genetics, none of them dictate individual outcomes, but they do provide the backdrop onto which our struggles must occur.

    You still create your own reality, but all these things taken together make some things easier, and other things harder.

    Or put another way – if your body genetics are such that you tend to put on weight, you can still affect the outcome – although it is likely you will be limited to "being average" rather than "getting a six-pac."  And perhaps you can use the understanding of the current bias to accurately assess whatever your accomplishments are during the 4th Turning similarly.  Keeping your savings intact: great success!!  And…OMG, my chickens actually lay eggs!

     

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Mon, Jun 24, 2013 - 6:50pm

    #14

    Grover

    Status Gold Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 15 2011

    Posts: 691

    Overlapping Cycles

    Arthur,

    Your graph is based on a model that projected consequences of resource depletion. Wasn't this originally created in the 1970s? I somewhere saw the same graph with actual measures a few years back. Based on the measures, the model was remarkably prescient. The line that startles me the most is the "births." Once the social systems break, having large families will be (presumably) the answer to old age security. I hope to be a point on the "death" line before that happens.

    treebeard,

    You are correct that we're not doomed to repeat this cycle. If each generation goes through all the same "coming of age" rituals and moves into the same life stages with the same expectations, there is no cycle. That is how it was in native American societies and during the Dark Ages of Europe. I doubt there is much of a generational cycle in Amish communities now.

    For those of us living in the "modern" world, where and when you formed you first memories influences your outlook. Your experiences throughout life have been different than someone 20 years older or younger. Those born in your generation generally share the same conditions you did. As you get older, do you think your generation will have the same reaction to stimuli as another generation would? Why wouldn't you want to "fix" the problems you encountered growing up? Are you raising your children the way you were raised?

    I'm guessing – probably not. That is what gives rise to the generational differences. The 4T theory has a double two stroke engine brewing. Neil said there is a Spring-Fall, Summer-Winter cycle going. At first, I thought he misspoke when saying that. Late wave Xers may have early wave Boomer parents, but most Xers have Silent parents. Most Boomers have GI parents and Millenial children. Think about it.

    Grover

     

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Mon, Jun 24, 2013 - 6:57pm

    #15
    sdmptww

    sdmptww

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Nov 18 2008

    Posts: 13

    We are getting into a good discussion.

    @davefairtex.  Yes, it is many layers and many long and shorter term cycles coming together.  A bit like high tide and the hurricane land fall at once times 1,000.  And for some people it might be OMG, eggs come from chickens!

    @treemagnet.  You ask for five things so the following is long but my effort to respond.

    1. Decrease the size of government.  Big government isn’t the problem.  Big government married and dictated to by Big business is the problem.  Socialism isn't the future in the U.S., it is Fascism and we are galloping along very nicely.
      1. Pass a constitutional amendment getting corporate money out of politics and specifying that corporations are not people with the same constitutional rights as people.
      2. Take existing GAO review of government duplication and implement changes to eliminate duplication and streamline government activities.  We don’t need 3 to 4 government agencies (federal and state) setting rules for people producing food to sell for instance.  We don’t need several food programs for people who are in poverty.  Just one, covers only food, consistent across regions and not forever.  Any assistance is accompanied with job training and help moving to where the jobs are and maybe basic cooking skills and help recognizing the difference between potato chips and potatoes.  Here local governments really need to work to have good access to food throughout their areas.  Also part of this is minimum wage being high enough that the working poor don’t need assistance.  And just to throw in a zinger, I would rather pay for family planning than food stamps.  And I would love it if people didn’t think that making children was the highest expression of themselves.  Just saying.
      3. Re-structure the tax system.  Corporate flat tax at a competitive rate (to be actually debated but I think somewhere around 12-15% would be a good place to start), no incentives, no subsidies, no write-offs.  Personal tax rates decreased so that SSI and tax rates combined are equal to actual (not effective) tax rates now at all levels, no subsidies, no write-offs, and no incentives.  Non-earned income should be taxed the same as earned income.  No deductions for more than 2 children.
      4. Pass a law that gives corporations only 3 opportunities to break the law or create major pollution problems by any person in the corporation at the decision-making level.  Once they hit three, their corporation charter is revoked.  No discussion.
      5. Create a firewall between corporations and political appointments that actually closes the revolving door.
      6. Re-structure Medicare making it a basic policy.  Supplemental policies can’t pay more than half of the 20% or deductible.  Eliminate fee for service throughout the system not just for Medicare which means re-structuring health care and finding a meaningful way to ensure everyone has basic coverage.  If they want more than can buy additional coverage.  We do not have the best health care system in the world; we have the most expensive, most poorly structured and most likely to benefit a few system.  People should not expect Medicare to extend their or their parents lives indefinitely because they have not dealt with death.
      7. Re-structure SSI.  Other income from any source (including pensions & investments) impacts SSI drawn after $40,000.  If above that the person can’t receive more than was paid in for them by themselves and their employers.  And that isn't as much as most people think unless they are really high wage earners.  They can withdraw over time or in quarterly payments of not more than 10% of total paid in each quarter.  Or they can leave it in if they are concerned about other income falling at some point and then apply for SSI.  Let people make some decision about how much they want to withdraw, especially in the first decade or so.  They may be able to live on less than they would receive under the standard rate and may need it later in life.  Raising retirement age or eligibility for Medicare isn't the solution.  Making the system more flexible is.
      8. Close most of the military bases overseas, stop trying to be police for the world and stop bullying everyone else.  Stop unbidded contracts, especially in military and state department procurement.
    2. Eliminate the gerrymandering in districts by using the same system already used by several states to stop the political packing for party benefit.  Move to one person, one vote in every state.  No party designations required to vote anywhere.  I live in a state where I can vote in either primary.  My voting registration does not record a party.  Since I don’t support either, that is a good thing.
    3. Eliminate the Fed.  I don’t think I need to explain this.  Have the government go back to being accountable for printing money, not the Fed (which is the worse of all worlds.  Totally unaccountable, not really in the government but many think it is) feeding it to banks at zero interest to loan it out at 7-25% interest and voila we have more money chasing stuff (simple definition of impending inflation).  Eliminate pay day loans.  Require banks to maintain cash on hand at reasonable levels, i.e. much higher than now.  Eliminate any government entity that shifts debt created by banks out of their hands so they can loan more and someone else can be responsible for the mess and bad decision-making.
    4. Globally eliminate the WTO and the World Bank.  The ideas weren’t too bad initially but boy the result stinks.
    5. Have a serious discussion nationally about the instant gratification we’ve become addicted to and how harmful it is.  Whether debt or consumption.  Have a serious discussion about what our out of control wants is doing to other countries and resources around the world.  Have an honest discussion with ourselves that we have created a mess we are going to have to live through, it isn’t going to be short-term, or painless, or easily fixed by one or another politician promising things they can’t keep.  It isn't the result of the last election or the previous one but a whole series of elections.  The discussion should include living with less consumption, less junk, less debt, less electricity, less driving our cars and more solving problems with our neighbors and enjoying simple pleasures.  Understand there is no quick solution to the economic mess we are in.  It has taken nearly a century of decisions to get us to this point and we are going to hurt a lot before it is over.  Even if we start making better decisions tomorrow.  We might also stop indulging in conspiracy theory inventing and demagoguery toward people who don’t agree with us.  Both are a waste of time.

    BTW, I have no idea what world peace looks like but a little less war mongering would sure be nice.  We have been on a serious war wagon since WWII and just look where it has gotten us.  Having said all of the above, I frankly think we need a smaller country and fewer states in the U.S., consider breaking into a confederation of regions much like Switzerland.  I think we will move in that direction over time but it will probably be the next, or the following set of generations that will get us there.  We in the U.S. have to stop worshipping our past before we can look for new solutions for the future.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Mon, Jun 24, 2013 - 9:11pm

    #16
    Hrunner

    Hrunner

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Dec 28 2010

    Posts: 209

    Howe sees positives where I see negatives

    Chris,
    Excellent interview.  Mr. Howe has clearly identified an interesting pattern based on a lot of work that bears consideration.  I also respect the fact that he really has done some homework on the economy and understands a lot of the issues, economically, that are creating the current tremors and quakes in the global markets.

    However, Mr. Howe said several things that seemed kind of tossed off, or he assumed to be fact, when they actually are concerning and worthy of a deeper analysis.

    1)  Millenials are living at home more.  Isn't that great?  They really must like their parents.  At least that's what they're saying in surveys.

    No, it's not great.  A) they can't afford to move out because they either have no job or a crappy job at Starbucks, and can't afford rent or afford a house downpayment and monthly payments, B)  thanks to the wonders of Obamacare, able-bodied adults up to age 26 now get free healthcare simply by living at home with their parents (who might actually, maybe surprisingly to Mr. Howe, want to have a life post child-rearing), C) If I were getting room, board, healthcare, parking, and who knows what else I'm getting from my parents, I would hopefully be favorably disposed to my sugar-daddy.

    So no, Mr. Howe, I think this is a bad development, not a good development that so many kids are living at home into their adulthood rather than move out and have a truly independent life.  One doesn't grow until one has to face, and overcome, obstacles.  That's true across generations whether you're a Prophet, Nomad, whatever.  That said, I think there are important benefits of being close emotionally and perhaps geographically to your extended family. 

    2)  We're going to have to learn how to cozy up to important government officials in the future to get more of what we want.  If this is true, we are going down a worse rathole than we already are in.  It sounds more like Mr. Howe thinks we're moving to be more like corrupt, and failing, China than what we were in the best days of the U.S.  The size and scope of government is crux of the current problem.  The solution is not to have more government influence and more need to rely on government officials.  The solution is to shrink the government back to a Constitutional size and scope, meaning minimal need for "cozy up to the government".  

    I think in contrast to what Mr. Howe appears to think, I that the failure of the collusive (or fascist as some define it) system between the government and markets, operating to the detriment of average citizens and Main Street, is upon us and will lead to pain and suffering of an unknown but probably large magnitude.  And this is likely to lead to a collapse of these wonderful government and financial systems, in a process that may leave a skeleton of the government behind, but a weak and crippled government at best.  And one that will not be able, even it wants to, to provide the glorious benefits that Mr. Howe thinks we need to able to cozy up to.

    3)  Mr. Howe, again through some utopian and unrealistic lens he seems to be peering through,  appears to diminish the power and prosperity that follows when individualism is allowed to flourish and instead focuses on how especially the Millenials are going to come together and rebuild a great collectivist society with giant "Sims" databases that will take care of all of our needs.  

    After the reset, I truly hope that Millenials learn the failures of collectivism and centralized planning and power, and rediscover the principles laid out by the Founding Fathers, and understand both the impossibility (and arrogance) of the idea that a few people or a computer program can predict and provide all the wants and needs of 300 million people simultaneously, and the dangers of abuse that concentrating power in a small number of people intrinsically creates.  Small, powerful, effective government providing things like infrastructure and standards, and information gathering and publishing- Yes!  Massive taxing to redistribute money based on some semi-arbitrary possibly corrupt formula, telling citizens how to think and live, promoting one special interest group over another special interest group- No!

    That being said, I agree with idea of having more well-connected communities, which is one of the best natures of people.  But Mr. Howe, and perhaps Chris are missing a key ingredient of successful communities.  The community contract is that individuals in the community start from a position that they will work hard as individuals to take care of their own needs, and these needs and the needs of their family are their primary responsibility.  Accessing the community is only a secondary support for this fundamental responsibility, and any knowledge-sharing, surplus sharing, temporary safety-net activities go with the expectation that the individual will do all in their power to take of themselves. 

    Strong communities start with strong individuals, not the other way around.  Mr. Howe may disagree with or may not realize, but one of the most pressing problems in America right now is the "gaming of the system" by everyone from disability recipients to billionaires.  The suckers are the ones that play by the rules and are honest, and are becoming the minority. 

    The law of balances in nature says this cannot continue forever, or as Margaret Thatcher once said, "the problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of someone else's money".  Mr. Howe surely sees the need for a society built on a foundation of individuals who make their own money from their own work and creative ideas.

    Finally, I worry about two little flies in the ointment of these cycle theories.  1)  We seem to be having an amplification effect of how bad successive crises are during the Fourth Turning, in no small part to technology gains.  The last 4th turning crisis was WWII if I understand things, which was unlike any event in human history in terms of its destruction and death.  It does not give me comfort that our technology, and I don't just mean weaponry but also cyber and biological warfare, is much more powerful than during WWII, so a true WWII-like event will not be just a little speedbump that we skip over and resume the First Turning merrily along, Sims database building and all.  Second, I'm not sure how Mr. Howe views event like the Dark Ages which were centuries long over much more than one "seculum" (sp?).  I realize that was over a thousand years ago, but in the sweep of history, it was very recent.  Just some honest questions that are from one person's views.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Mon, Jun 24, 2013 - 9:28pm

    #17
    Hrunner

    Hrunner

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Dec 28 2010

    Posts: 209

    Disagree about Deflation

    I forgot to add that, if I understand his views, that Howe is not correct regarding lack of future inflation/ hyperinflation.

    Howe is sort of right, the world is "trying to get to" deflation.  The Austrians would say world markets are trying to heal itself from overinvestment and mispricing of assets.  Markets are trying to deflate.  

    The problem is that central banks won't let markets deflate.  That is the central reason for their existence.  To smooth out the business cycle.  No inflation, no deflation.  But, oops, they did allow too much inflation over a great many years and a great number of assets.  Thus markets are trying to naturally return to balance but cannot because of extraordinary manipulation by CBs.  So, yes we will get temporary deflation here and there as little attempts at resets, but these have been and will continue to be squashed by the Fed's printing press.

    You think QEinfinity was unprecedented, it's likely you ain't seen nothing yet.  Look for QE for student loans, QE for home owners, QE for small business, QE for big business (more than just historically low corporate debt rates), QE for pedicures, the list is endless.  That' s when the real inflation starts.  And we know where it ends.  If you consider a currency reset deflation, then yes, it ends in deflation.  I just didn't get that from Mr. Howes views.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Mon, Jun 24, 2013 - 9:53pm

    Reply to #15
    treemagnet

    treemagnet

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 14 2011

    Posts: 279

    Thats interesting

    Thanks for putting that out there.  Always enjoy specifics here at PP as opposed to theory.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Mon, Jun 24, 2013 - 10:55pm

    #18

    Arthur Robey

    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 03 2010

    Posts: 1814

    Wisewoman

    Wisewoman:

    Pass a constitutional amendment getting corporate money out of politics and specifying that corporations are not people with the same constitutional rights as people.

    Agreed.

    Your post has many points that need to be expanded on in bite sized chunks.

    All: That graph is not my favourite. Sometimes I wish I was an airhead that had never clapped eyes on it. It has caused me many sleepless nights. But as the story teller always ends, "You can't say you don't know, you know now." It was that apple or the red pill.

    Dave: your explanation reminds me of reason why magnetic fields do not distort light even though light is made up of a magnetic component and an electric one.

    Vegan: I am indeed a babydoomer. Even though my path has not been the same as everyone elses I can see the similarities between me and the rest of us. And yes, my comment was meant to be self-effacing. I was trying to invoke an ah-ha!

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Jun 25, 2013 - 3:27am

    Reply to #6
    Michael Frome

    Michael Frome

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jun 20 2011

    Posts: 90

    John Mauldin

    Mauldin coined that…he's taken recently to calling 2013 "the year of the windshield", incidentally.Cheers,
    Mike
     

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Jun 25, 2013 - 4:44am

    #19
    jdye51

    jdye51

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 17 2011

    Posts: 151

    Dave - I'm guessing there

    Dave – I'm guessing there aren't too many people here who even know the Hari Seldon reference – which I enjoyed, thank you!  He is a character in the "Foundation" trilogy by Isaac Asimov, the brilliant sci-fi writer (he wrote I, Robot). Hari is a "psychohistorian", if memory serves, who is able to predict long term trends with amazing accuracy. A simplistic summary I know, but my memory has faded. It had quite an impact on me when I was a teenager. You might find it interesting, Arthur.

    Nature, of which we are a part, is characterized by cycles. "There is nothing new under the sun" someone said, including the extinction of species on the planet. In discussing the Fourth Turning and larger cycles of time, we are assuming the continuation of our species. Given the precarious position we have put ourselves in, we can no longer assume that. It's an interesting intellectual exercise to talk about generational profiles, but now we are looking down the end of a barrel we created. These times are unlike any other times because we are now a global community connected by air travel and internet in a way we have never been before. We have reached this mass of humanity from cheap energy that allowed our unchecked (despite pandemics and war) proliferation. For the first time, we can kill ourselves and everything else on the planet. "We have met the enemy, and he is us."

    So we may be looking at the end of cycles for the human race. Or, if being really optimistic (wishfull thinking?), the beginning of a "new human". The problem is that there is so much inertia in the whole thing that I just can't see it happening under the current paradigm. We have run our course. We have run up against natural laws that specify the limits we thought didn't apply to us.

    Something like 98% of the species who have ever lived on the planet have gone extinct. Maybe we're just another one of them, only we have the capacity to analyze our shortcomings and see where they have led us. We are self-aware but not enough, so far, to change our trajectory. My question is, is there still time to change even if we could? What would it take? How much would need to be sacrificed so some could survive? We have created this complex, intertwined, fragile system that is ready to fall apart at any moment. We are teetering at the edge of a precipice – or maybe even an even more accurate analogy might be, commenting on the scenery on our way down.

    I'm sorry that the current generations – the whole lot of us – are stuck facing the culmination of our species' actions over the timeline of our existence. We're facing challenges none have ever faced to this degree before. All of us, every generation currently on the planet, will witness the dissolution of all that we have known. Chaos and collapse are already the reality for many of us – severe weather, power outages and economic and social turmoil. It's only a matter of time before the rest of us experience it.

    I know this sounds negative, I know this sounds defeatist. But it is where we are headed barring a major change in how we live on the planet. Or, maybe a miracle. Does it really matter anymore what any generation did or will do? Only if we do the opposite of what we've done up to now do we have a chance. Only if love prevails and self-interest is replaced with a focus on the greater good do we have a chance. Only if we acknowlege our place within the web of life and learn to live in balance with all that is, do we have a future. If it's not too late that is.

    It's hard to face the truth of what we've done and how we've behaved. But with the loss of each species, with the loss of habitat, with the loss of arable land and clean water, with the loss of jobs and homes and hope, we are confronted with the consequences of our actions and inactions.

    All that is left is to live in the moment and to treasure what we still have right now. To find joy and to love fiercely. To be present to everything as it is happening no matter how difficult. I'm grateful I can share these experiences with those here at PP so I don't feel so alone, even if we don't always agree on everything. At least we are aware and talking and sharing which are all valuable. Thanks for listening.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Jun 25, 2013 - 6:39am

    Reply to #15

    rhare

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: Mar 29 2009

    Posts: 397

    Using force to build the world you think is right...

    Ptwisewoman,How many of the things on your list require force to achieve?  All of them?  Do you not think that many of the rules that we currently have were put in place by people just like you who thought they were doing the right thing and used the force of government to make sure people comply.
    I think if we are going to reach a state that we don't go through these cycles we will need to address the fact that we need to change the conversation about how we organize.  Why is it that we can discuss voluntary community, voluntary cooperation with neighbors, but then insist of having a government to force our will onto others?  To force those we don't agree with to comply to our will.
    How about we don't have a government that determines what I can eat or put into my body? How about one that doesn't decide for me what I must support with my labor?  How about one that doesn't try to dictate morality to me?  One that doesn't dictate what I must use as money? Anytime you force your will onto others there will be resentment and eventually conflict.
    Just keep in mind, all those lofty goals you have listed mean you are willing to steal, hurt or kill to force people to comply.  When you force compliance is that community?  Is it a world you want to live in?  How about if you are on the wrong side of that force?
    [quote=ptwisewoman]
    Even if we start making better decisions tomorrow.  We might also stop indulging in conspiracy theory inventing and demagoguery toward people who don’t agree with us.
    [/quote]
    So what if I don't believe in your utopia you have described?  What are you going to do if I don't agree with you?  Are you going to force me to comply?  Isn't that what war is?

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Jun 25, 2013 - 9:45am

    #20
    sdmptww

    sdmptww

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Nov 18 2008

    Posts: 13

    Huh?

    @rhare, did you actually read my post?  I was asked for 5 specific things I thought we needed to do now to move away from this economic mess.  My 5 in summary were: 1) Decrease the size of government and the influence and destructive power of multi-national corporations and I listed a number of specifics to begin to accomplish that. 2) Eliminate gerymandering and fix voting so that everyone's vote really counts. 3) Eliminate the Fed. 4) Eliminate WTO and the World Bank. 5) Start having serious discussions about better living through less stuff not rifts into conspiracy theories and demagoguery.  There was no effort to create a utopia and I could care less if you don't agree with any or some of them.

    The above barely scratches the surface in dismantling so we can re-build something better.  There is no force or war in the above unless you imagine that the banksters and the elderly are going to take up arms when they loose some of their bennies from the government and that we have become so rigid that we can not democracticly change our government?  But I don't see how we even remotely get to what you think would be your utopia if we don't do some of what I suggest as a start.  Nothing in there rounded up or forced anyone to do anything other than adapt to less, which we are all going to have to do either voluntarily or nature will force us to.  Now if you imagine that your utopia of everyone just doing their thing with no government and no one telling anybody what to do is achievable in the near future, I would certainly like to hear how you think we could get there without any of the above and without a civil war that would make the last one look like a skirmish as change occurred too fast and the government refused to go quietly into that good night.  Specifics please.  It is relatively easy to take pot shots at folks who do make specific suggestions and paint them with motives that are only imaginary.  A favorite tactic of demagoguery.

    I know it was long but if you are interested in a meaningful discussion, please re-read and let's actually discuss specifics.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Jun 25, 2013 - 9:46am

    #21
    RoseHip

    RoseHip

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 05 2013

    Posts: 144

    Great parenting video

    While watching this video I couldn't help but notice the similarities that being king is like raising children.

    Rose

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Jun 25, 2013 - 10:43am

    Reply to #18
    sdmptww

    sdmptww

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Nov 18 2008

    Posts: 13

    Then I am officially apologizing

    @ Arthur, having read many of your posts, I thought there might be something there that I was getting.  It apparently is much harder to communicate in writing without benefit of facial views than any of us can imagine.  These really large cycles are overwhelming and hard to ignore, unless someone already is inclined to the fetal position with head nicely tucked.  And I agree they are the driving issues we are facing, not Mr. Howe's generational cycles.  Much has been made of Howe's cycles, I guess because he forecasted a crisis 20 years ago and has proven correct.  And while I find his research to be helpful in looking at history and the present and understanding how we collectively respond, it isn't the grand answer folks seem to be looking for.  As others have pointed out, now he seems to be interpreting things in ways that aren't necessarily grounded in reality.  Maybe because his role as a consultant means he generally can't feed the really bad stuff to his clients.  Been there, done that.I would really like to hear your expansion on my suggestions.  We have got to get past the current lightweight dialogue that serves no useful purpose and get clear on where we need to go, as a nation and a world.  If not, the vacuum will be filled, likely with more of the same x2 and that scares me even more than where we are right now.  I'm a practical person.  And have worked as a change agent for many years.  While it is nice to have a vague, lovely picture of the end point, we live now and must start making changes now that move us toward a culture more in balance with the earth we are on.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Jun 25, 2013 - 10:56am

    Reply to #18
    sdmptww

    sdmptww

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Nov 18 2008

    Posts: 13

    correction

    That would be that I "wasn't" getting.  Apparently it is hard to type correctly as well.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Jun 25, 2013 - 12:33pm

    #22

    jtwalsh

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Oct 01 2008

    Posts: 261

    Turnings

    jdye51, I love Hari Seldon and the Foundation Trilogy. As a very young teen Isaac Asimov formed my first attempts to think about history and life and philosophy.  The Dominican Fathers took on the formal job a little later and dragged me kicking and complaining through formal philosophy, logic, language and history.  I did not appreciate it at the time but both Asimov and the Dominicans taught me how to think and to annalyse the world around me.  Together they gave me a gift that far too few people are given in school today.

    I have read Howe's book.  I raises some interesting points that I think can help us understand society and history.  Part of what he speaks about is rooted in biology.  Eighty years is roughly a human life span.  New generations appear as people reach their twenties and begin to have children.

    In my own life I am presently accompanied on the journey by my elderly parents, my children and my grandchildren (who are just reaching the age of voicing their own views and opinions).  Each of these generations had a very different life experience.  From my parents great depression. WWII upbringing, to my wife and I in the cold war, Vietnam, racial and sexual equality struggles, to my own childrens' well off suburban, 911, rally round the country experience, to my grandchildren growing up in increasingly troubled economic times.  Each of the generations in my own house have very different views of the world based partley on what was occuring around them when they were growing up. 

    I believe Howe shows us how this influences not just indvidual families and groups but the society as a whole.  Does this answer the questions, or resolve the issues confronting us?  No.  But I believe it does give and insight as to why it is so hard to form a consensus as to what needs to happen and how to get there.  In addition to all the political, social and religious differences in society there are also these underlying, almost biological, separate generational ways of understanding the world.

     

     

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Jun 25, 2013 - 1:43pm

    #23

    Arthur Robey

    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 03 2010

    Posts: 1814

    Wisewoman and JTWalsh.

    Wisewoman: Your apology was neither earned nor deserved. You have nothing to apologise for. The fault is mine and this poor medium of communication.

    JT Walsh: I am glad that I don't have to lug all the Asimov books that I have read around with me. He had a phenomenal mind. I wonder what he would have made of our present circumstances?

    At the Cold Fusion conference in Daejeong Korea I caused quite a stir as no-one could believe that I was who I said I was. Therefore they ambushed me with the microphone, an instrument that I wield awkwardly.

    I spluttered something along the lines that Isaac Asimov used to digest the findings at the frontiers of science and present the nub of the discoveries in such a way that the general layman could understand. I said that I was hoping not to fill his shoes, but to stand in them.

    Wisewoman: I see the situation thus. As humans escaping from Africa we have had the advantage of moving on into virgin territory. Since the time of the Vikings there has been no more virgin land and so the game changed. Now we treat lands ocuppied by others as virgin if our technologies are superior. This is how we are made. It is our modus operandi.

    Unless we find more Virgin land we will continue this process of conquest by superior technologies. Even if we revert back to bows and arrows and horseback skirmishes, the same rule will apply.

    The idea of an agrarian solution is a myth. Why stop there? Why not become stone age hunter-gathers?

    I do not have the stomach to exterminate another people, nor do I wish others to exterminate my beautiful grandchildren.

    So if the path is not back, surely it must be forward. We have to find fresh truely Virgin land. So in a typically dictatorial and dogmatic Boomer fashion I will place these ideas in front of you again.

    Read my Sci-fi story. It is all laid out for you right there.

    The way back is gated by horror. We have only one way, and that is forward.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Jun 25, 2013 - 1:51pm

    Reply to #20

    rhare

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: Mar 29 2009

    Posts: 397

    Governemnt = Force = Violence

    [quote=ptwisewoman]@rhare, did you actually read my post?
    [/quote]
    Yes I did read your post very carefully before I responded.  I found it filled with lots of good things, but like many people who are well intentioned, but simply pushing along tyranny by a different group.
    [quote=ptwisewoman]
    I was asked for 5 specific things I thought we needed to do now to move away from this economic mess.  My 5 in summary were:
    1) Decrease the size of government and the influence and destructive power of multi-national corporations and I listed a number of specifics to begin to accomplish that.
    [/quote]
    Excerpts from your original post:
    [quote=ptwisewoman]

    Big government isn’t the problem.  Big government married and dictated to by Big business is the problem.
    Pass a constitutional amendment
    We don’t need several food programs for people who are in poverty.  Just one, covers only food, consistent across regions and not forever.
    Any assistance is accompanied with job training…
    Also part of this is minimum wage being high enough that the working poor don’t need assistance.
    I would rather pay for family planning than food stamps.

    [/quote]
    So what we have here, is we don't need big government to do the things we do now, but we still want government to take from others to provide the things I want. What if I don't want to give up my labor to help people in poverty or assistance in job training or family planning?  What if I don't agree with your methods or those of the government?
    The point is, we have large corporate controlled government (fascism) because we give power to governments to force the will of one group onto another.  Socialism is the same thing, just with a different group being oppressed.
    How about we take that power away from a government and let individuals control their own destiny.  You want assistance for those in poverty, then convince me to voluntarily "give" the results of my labor – not via force.
    [quote=ptwisewoman]
    Re-structure the tax system.  Corporate flat tax at a competitive rate (to be actually debated but I think somewhere around 12-15% would be a good place to start), no incentives, no subsidies, no write-offs.  Personal tax rates decreased so that SSI and tax rates combined are equal to actual (not effective) tax rates now at all levels, no subsidies, no write-offs, and no incentives.  Non-earned income should be taxed the same as earned income.  No deductions for more than 2 children.
    [/quote]
    Once again, just saying government should force compliance but with a different set of rules.  How about no stealing from people?  How about no taxes, but voluntary contributions?  You want me to support some program then convince me it's in my best interest.  Do you not see your still saying "you need to live my way", it's just better because it's how I think it should be done.    Do you not voluntarily support things with your money and time that you believe are necessary?  Why do you not think others would do so without violence?
    [quote=ptwisewoman]
    Pass a law that gives corporations only 3 opportunities to break the law or create major pollution problems by any person in the corporation at the decision-making level.  Once they hit three, their corporation charter is revoked.  No discussion.
    [/quote]
    Why 3?  If you happen to be one of those affected why does the corporation get 2 free passes?  How about you just have a legal system that protects property rights.  These type of laws have a tendency to go awry, just look at Oil Polution Act of 1990.
    [quote=ptwisewoman]
    Create a firewall between corporations and political appointments that actually closes the revolving door.
    [/quote]
    More laws, how about eliminating the reason corporations and individuals are drawn to goverment power?  It's because they can use government to gain special favors or gain advantage over competitors.   Take away the power of government "force" and you will not have to have laws like this since there would be no incentive to control government.
    [quote=ptwisewoman]
    Re-structure Medicare making it a basic policy.  Supplemental policies can’t pay more than half of the 20% or deductible.  Eliminate fee for service throughout the system not just for Medicare which means re-structuring health care and finding a meaningful way to ensure everyone has basic coverage.
    [/quote]
    Yet more, let's change it to my way.  All you've done is say "my way would be better", but I'm still going to force you to comply.  Why should I be forced to contribute to any of this?  You want everyone to have basic coverage, then set up a charity and convince me to contribute.  If you think this is very important then I'm sure many others will as well.   If I was a charity and I could force you to give me money, how careful of a steward for those funds would I be?
    [quote=ptwisewoman]
    Re-structure SSI.  Other…
    [/quote]
    More of the same.
    [quote=ptwisewoman]
    Close most of the military bases overseas, stop trying to be police for the world and stop bullying everyone else.  Stop unbidded contracts, especially in military and state department procurement.
    [/quote]
    But bullying people here at home is okay?   How much war mongering do you think would occur if you weren't forced to contribute?
    [quote=ptwisewoman]
    Eliminate the gerrymandering..
    [/quote]
    Again, get rid of the ability for government to steal or force you to comply and you get rid of the incentive for this type of crap.
    [quote=ptwisewoman]
    Eliminate the Fed. …Have the government go back to being accountable for printing money.. Eliminate pay day loans. …
    [quote]
    How about let me as a consumer choose?  Why should the government force me to use any money?  Why can I not choose who I want to bank with or if I want to use a bank at all?  Who says you or anyone knows the amount of money a bank needs to have on hand.  Why should you or anyone get to decide who I can borrow money from?
    Your comment about pay day loans just shows complete ignorance of the situation many people find themselves it and economic realities.  Would you rather people just loose their cars, be forced onto the street, go hungry?  What would you have someone do that is poor and can't borrow from a bank or family?   Or do you steal from others to give loans at rates that don't cover losses, that's why pay day loans are so high in interest because the risk of being paid back is correspondingly high.
    [quote=ptwisewoman]
    Globally eliminate the WTO and the World Bank.  The ideas weren’t too bad initially but boy the result stinks.
    [/quote]
    Hmm, I wonder how many of your ideas might not be too bad initially….
    [quote=ptwisewoman]
    Have a serious discussion nationally …The discussion should include living with less consumption, less junk, less debt, less electricity, l…
    [/quote]
    I think this is called living within ones means.  Kind of like we would be doing if we didn't have such huge distortions in money, energy, labor, etc created by government control.
    [quote=ptwisewoman]
    BTW, I have no idea what world peace looks like but a little less war mongering would sure be nice.
    [/quote]
    Peace occurs when you aren't trying to force your views onto others or steal from them for your behalf (whether well intentioned or not).
    All of this comes down to are we going to live in a voluntary society, or are we going to simply keep passing control around?  I'm guessing that if we look at the cycles Howe describes it might correlate to the amount of government control forced upon citizens.  Just look at the crisis and war – they correspond to the height of government control over a population.  When one group pushes just a bit to hard and war breaks out.
     

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Jun 25, 2013 - 2:04pm

    Reply to #20
    treemagnet

    treemagnet

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 14 2011

    Posts: 279

    In all fairness

    I asked the question – it sorta required a response using a 'wide brush'. 

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Jun 25, 2013 - 2:36pm

    #24
    sdmptww

    sdmptww

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Nov 18 2008

    Posts: 13

    Thank you for the massive quoting with little input

    @rhare, we live in a democracy where people who bother to vote should have input.  I assume you fall in that category, whether or not you indulge.  In this kind of system, we should discuss (actually suggest real alteratives and find compromise not demagogue and focus on some distant future) and vote and the majority wins.  Hence one of my top five things to do now includes fixing our sick voting system so we can take back more control of this disfunctional and bloated government.

    I was asked for some of my suggestions for now not some distant future where neither governments nor corporations nor greedy people nor people with needs to dictate to others exist any longer, and I gave them.  I don't give a flying flip about being in charge of anything other than my little piece of property, forcing my will on others, or trying to have a conversation with someone who has such a case of blinder disease they can't get pass their limited view of utopia and no one else's views are pertinent.  If you want to try to go to an all voluntary society right now, tell me how we do that without causing so much chaos and discontinuity that we wind up with all that bloodshed you've accused me of wanting to supposedly enforce my will.  Come on, man, get off your high horse and try to actually have a discussion.

    Would I like a world where voluntary good behavior was the norm, yes I would.  Do I think we can get there by suddenly dismantling all government while leaving the existing corporations in the trans-national state they inhabit, NO, I don't.  Too many people, too many bad bahaviors, too many multi-national corporations, well armed governments who can't be overthrown without bloodshed, do I need to continue?  Government actually run by the people for now is the only way to bring multi-nationals under more control.  And yes, they need to be controlled or they will, along with their puppet governments we also don't have control over now, will drive us all to extinction.  If you want a fascist dictatorship where you don't get to have any say in how you live, dismantle government immediately and leave a vacuum for multi-nationals to fill.  And suddenly disconnecting people from what they have been counting on will start a civil war.  So can we move toward change without causing chaos and bloodshed?  I sincerely hope so because we are really screwed if we can't.  You seem intent on focusing on some lovely place far in the future while I'm trying to focus on right now and moving us, right now, in a different direction.

    If you don't want to be in a society where we do care for each other and create major change without suddenly causing suffering that will spill over and impact all those who imagine they can protect themselves from it, I would really suggest a more isolated place for you to inhabit.  Because that will be the only way you will get there in your lifetime.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Jun 25, 2013 - 2:45pm

    #25

    westcoastjan

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jun 04 2012

    Posts: 177

    bring back failure

    To expand on the excellent points made by ptwisewoman, I see systemic removal of failure, whether from the business side of things or the human/sociological side as being key to our current predicament. Lobbying, cronyism, subsidies and bailouts have made a joke of true capitalism, enabling the greed model to thrive. Irresponsible lifestyles have contributed to the over-burdened healthcare systems, with people getting medical bail-outs to their poor decisions, only to keep on doing more of the same. The educational system does not educate in a meaningful way, graduating millions of ill-prepared, debt laden people who have little in the way of real life skills.

    We must allow failure to happen. We must allow businesses and people who do not thrive to die. We must allow people who do not take responsibility for their lives to face the consequences. There, I said it. An elephant in the room. An admission that it really is survival of the fittest. How will we decide which, who, and when?

    When our healthcare systems were first devised, the premise was basic healthcare for everyone. The problem is, as time went on and technology evolved, "basic" was never defined, to the point that "basic" now covers things like cochlear implants, of which I am a happy recipient. To use this as an example, each cochlear implant performed in Canada costs between $50,000 and $100,000 dollars, depending on the patient. Other than the healthcare premiums which I pay monthly, which have averaged about 60 bucks per month over my working life, I paid nothing for this. The rest was paid by the taxpayer. Thank you! This more than generous system will never see me bitching about my monthly premium. That being said, I am sure that Tommy Douglas, the founder of the Canadian healthcare system, would roll over in his grave if he saw what was being funded now. And so it goes. We keep on inventing new treatments and methodologies without having any inkling of how we are going to pay for them. (Ditto for things like infrastructure.) And with this wave of babydoomers (thanks Arthur!) entering retirement, one just knows they are going to demand more and better treatments to extend their lives as far as possible, with as much quality as possible.

    Our healthcare system is the product of a civilized society that places human rights near if not at the top of the totem pole. If one were to truly subscribe to the survival of the fittest model, then this has meant saving lives that should not be saved and helping people who should not be helped. And yes, that means people like me should not be given these expensive medical procedures to help them. We have to live with the cards we are dealt. I was puttering along through life deaf prior to my implant. Sure it was a tough go, but I was doing okay. I could have kept on going the way I was. I am sure that many will say "ya, easy to say now that you have had it done and paid for". This is true. I am so fortunate and so grateful. But I also acknowledge that I am (unwittingly) part of the problem, and that others, all of you, and those who will come after us, have paid for my artificial hearing, as well as all of the other fantastic things that we can and are doing on a regular basis. Where do we draw the line? Once again, it often comes down to needs vs. wants. How many surgeries and procedures are done and paid by healthcare that are more on the want side, and therefore avoidable? But to add another side to it, studies have shown that giving a deaf person a cochlear implant can save up to a million dollars in other social spending, such as specialized education, interpreters, assisted living etc. Sounds like a good cost/benefit tradeoff. So again, where do we draw the line and how do we decide who gets what done and when?

    Humans are not very good at accepting their mortality. Our healthcare system is evidence of this, with extreme measures being taken to extend life. "First do no harm" has been the model for medical care. And assisted suicide and helping/allowing people to die with dignity has been the political hot potato avoided at all costs. And of course there is the abortion debate, which I believe is a banned discussion topic on this site. I mention it only in the big picture context of those difficult conversations that society must have. We are going to have to decide who will live and who will die. That we have to make that decision at all is of our own doing – we put ourselves in this position by creating the technology to give us the choice. We have achieved the ultimate power. How will we use it? Will we do all we can to ensure everyone survives as long as possible even though we don't have the resources to support them? Or will we admit to ourselves that there are natural cycles of life and death that we are in actuality defying?

    These are very difficult decisions, but from my perspective they will have to be made sooner rather than later. As with many of the tough decisions we face, we can start to do these things now, on our terms, or allow things to run the course and let it all unfold as it will. I prefer the former. And that is saying that I accept that perhaps in eras gone by, as a disabled person who would have been a burden to the tribe, I would have been thrown out with the bath water. It would have been the right thing to do.

    Jan

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Jun 25, 2013 - 3:10pm

    #26

    Wendy S. Delmater

    Status Diamond Member (Offline)

    Joined: Dec 13 2009

    Posts: 1418

    it cannot, so it will not

    Large governments, be they communist, socialist, democracies, republics or whatever, are depended on (a) cheap fuel and (b) fractional reserve banking.

    Both are about to go the way of the dodo. We cannot afford large government programs now, and are not going to "grow our way" out of the massive debt we are in to afford them later. There will be a reset. The solutions that involve community and local resources will be more viable that central planning of any sort, simply because of transportation issues if nothing else.

    One of the highlights of the above interview for me is the forecast  of a return to extended families and communities. And just because we will need each other to survive does not mean that will be a bad thing. Your tax dollars, which get half-siphoned off to pay bureaucrats, will never provide love and friendship, trust and community. While I am of course not suggesting such programs be immediately abolished, inflation continues to make those benefits worth less and less.

    I will say this. Those who substitute impersonal taxes for volunteerism and one-on-one charity are leaning on a sharp stick that will not support them Or their communities. All of you: what have YOU,  you personally, done for local disadvantaged folks? I mean recently and I do not mean by paying taxes. Let me give you an example of local systems we will need to transistion to.

    Yesterday my husband and I went over to our nextdoor neighbors–by request–to fix their computer. There are four generations living in that home, and the computer was needed. Two family members used it for school, including the grandmother and grandson, and the daughter worked on it from home. Great grandmother, in her 90s, was not stuck in some impersonal nursing home but was being watched by them all. We reached out to this family when the water company shut off their water last summer, providing water from our well, and they now consider us non-judgmental friends. We took another old, broken computer of theirs for parts as compensation, which was not just a face-saving gesture since hubby fixes legacy machines for his customers.

    My experience is that government assistance is somewhat annonymous, and that those in need can be proud (God knows I was) and not let you know they need help. Keep an eye out and be a friend to those in genuine need. Let them do you a good turn next time: that's what community is all about, and that is what we will have to fall back on when the going gets tough and the annonymous monies fail.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Jun 25, 2013 - 4:13pm

    Reply to #25

    Christopher H

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: May 29 2009

    Posts: 120

    Bring back failure... with a caveat

    Westcoastjan wrote:

    We must allow failure to happen. We must allow businesses and people who do not thrive to die. We must allow people who do not take responsibility for their lives to face the consequences. There, I said it. An elephant in the room. An admission that it really is survival of the fittest. How will we decide which, who, and when?

    While I agree wholeheartedly with your sentiment of bringing back failure, taking that to confirmation that "it really is survival of the fittest" is just wildly off the mark, in my opinion.  That's the Victorian outlook of scarcity and extreme individualism that has gotten us to the point where we currently sit, surrounded by predicaments on all sides.  I think that the context in which we look at failure is perhaps even more important than bringing back the possibility of failure itself.
    The reason we need to bring back failure is that it is how true learning happens.  We learn by making mistakes and adjusting our approach.  This is one of the prime tenets of permaculture — gaining and learning from feedback.  It doesn't matter whether you're a toddler learning to walk, or an adult trying to start a business.  Failure, no multiple failures, are going to be a central part of the process.  They're the world providing you feedback that what you are doing isn't working the way you want, and if you want things to work better, you need to adjust your approach and try again.
    By framing failure in the terms of Social Darwinism, it creates the dynamic where people actually become more fearful of it.  By framing it in terms of being a necessary part of adaptation and improvement, then it loses some of that baggage.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Jun 25, 2013 - 5:30pm

    Reply to #24

    rhare

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: Mar 29 2009

    Posts: 397

    Demogogue - a leader championing the cause of the common people

    [quote=ptwisewoman] Thank you for the massive quoting with little input [/quote]Wow, thank you for you listening to what I was trying to say and assume I was just attacking you.  This is exactly to my point.  Do you not understand that most of the solutions you propose (what I was trying to point out) require force of government to make people comply with what you think is right? [quote=ptwisewoman] In this kind of system, we should discuss … and vote and the majority wins.  Hence one of my top five things to do now includes fixing our sick voting system so we can take back more control of this disfunctional and bloated government. [/quote]
    We have exactly what you want, the majority wins.  This is what happens when you let the majority force the minority to comply.  We have a system in which everyone votes themselves favors at others expense.  It's so much easier to do that than live within your means.  You get to steal via proxy, just some happen to play the game better than others and get rich.
    What I'm suggesting is that we get rid of the game.  No more forcing your will on others via government.  Instead if you want change, you have to change yourself, be an example, and talk to others to convince them if you have a better solution.  Government and democracy is the opposite of that. 
    [quote=ptwisewoman] If you want to try to go to an all voluntary society right now, tell me how we do that without causing so much chaos and discontinuity that we wind up with all that bloodshed you've accused me of wanting to supposedly enforce my will.  Come on, man, get off your high horse and try to actually have a discussion. [/quote]
    Pot. Kettle. Black.
    The first step is to stop making new laws and start repealing many that we have.  The answer is to start dismantling the things that limit individual choice and responsibility.  So let's take your list and see what alternatives their might be:

    The Fed – don't have to abolish it, all you have to do is get rid of the legal tender laws and penalty taxes that limit what you can use as money.  If the Fed can provide a system that works, no problem, but choice by the populace will ultimately solve the problem.  We don't need to transfer that power to the government so they can be just as abusive as the Fed.    What's the difference between the Fed stealing via inflation versus the government doing so?
    Medicare, Medicaid, SSN – Dismantle them.   While people are dependent on them, how can you justify that the young have to give up their lives to pay the old.  The people who voted to steal from the future, dont' have a right to do so.
    FDA, FDIC, DOE – gone.   
    Dept. of Education – Gone immediately.  There is no reason for the Federal government to be involved it what is a stricly local/parental matter.

    [quote=ptwisewoman]Do I think we can get there by suddenly dismantling all government while leaving the existing corporations in the trans-national state they inhabit, NO, I don't.  Too many people, too many bad bahaviors, too many multi-national corporations, well armed governments who can't be overthrown without bloodshed, do I need to continue? [/quote]
    Note, I never said all government, and I didn't say immediately (well I kind of did above).  So you mean our well armed government that we can't overthrow without bloodshed is one we don't want to dismantle? 
    Do you not even consider that those evil multinationals only exist because our government keeps them in power by limiting our choices.  Just look at all the recent legislation on behalf of Monsanto.  How about our use of force to keep oil flowing from the middle east to keep our energy prices cheap so we can have international trade instead of local production?   How about all the distortions caused by the Fed that allow the big boys to borrow cheap or free.   All these distortions via the force of government are what allow the big corporations to florish without providing a good product or service. 
     
    [quote=ptwisewoman]
    You seem intent on focusing on some lovely place far in the future while I'm trying to focus on right now and moving us, right now, in a different direction.
    [/quote]
    But your not moving in a different direction.  You are advocating more of the same.  Perhaps you should ask yourself why my points have brought such repulsion on your part that you have chosen to attack rather than discuss.  Chris M. says this is what happens when you challenge a belief.
     
    [quote=ptwisewoman] If you don't want to be in a society where we do care for each other and create major change without suddenly causing suffering that will spill over and impact all those who imagine they can protect themselves from it, I would really suggest a more isolated place for you to inhabit.  Because that will be the only way you will get there in your lifetime.
    [/quote]
    I choose to try and get people to think about what government is.  To understand that government is force against others on your behalf.  Is it necessary?  To what degree is it necessary.  Unless you actually think about that how do you not fall into the same trap as all those before you.  
    Anytime you sit around saying "there should be a law" you really need to ask why?  Are you simply trying to force others to your way of thinking and using force via proxy of government?
    On top of all this, we are going to probably collapse, because people aren't willing to seriously question what we must have.   In order to even remotely get back into balance we would need to cut government dramatically, maybe 80% to live within our means, particularly once we loose reserve currency status.  So yes, discussions like this where we discuss what should the role of government be in our lives is important.
    [quote=ptwisewoman]
    But I don't see how we even remotely get to what you think would be your utopia if we don't do some of what I suggest as a start.
    [/quote]
    Don't get me wrong, some of your suggestions might be good, but I also think many of them are just throwing a band-aid on the problems instead of looking at the root cause.
    [quote=ptwisewoman]
    It is relatively easy to take pot shots at folks who do make specific suggestions and paint them with motives that are only imaginary.  A favorite tactic of demagoguery.
    [/quote]
    Demagogue – just another ad hominem attack word used by so many people when they don't want to discuss things that are against their view.  However I'll take the alternate meaning and accept it as a compliment:
    a leader championing the cause of the common people in ancient times

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Jun 25, 2013 - 5:33pm

    #27

    Christopher H

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: May 29 2009

    Posts: 120

    Current shifts are epochal as well as generational

    While I haven't yet read The Fourth Turning, I've heard enough interviews with Howe to be familiar with his overall thesis.  And this interview was a good way of slightly updating it in terms of current events — but didn't really update anything on substance.  And that's OK, because the views of Strauss and Howe on generational cycles deserve a wide audience because they have merit.

    However….

    Where Howe lost me was when he tried to project his generational cycles into the future, namely because his views became a contradictory mess.  While looking at history through a cyclical lens, his projections into the future are pure positivism — that the future will be, for the most part, "more of the same".  Greater government intrusion and oversight (Sim City), greater proliferation of hand-held technology like smart phones, etc.  It is here that I think that Howe's arguments fall pretty much flat on their face, because he completely ignores the relationship between available energy and complexity.  In this vein, a much more useful guidebook is Joseph Tainter's "The Collapse of Complex Societies".

    But all that's OK, because in the end I can use my own brain to sort out the items from Howe's argument that I find useful and to toss out what I find to be the chaff.  And I do think that some of the most valuable insights he had regarded the way that people want to be a part of something again, of a real community — even if I think he's off the mark in seeing wider proliferation of communication technology (if the declining energy base even allows it) as a positive force in that regard (I think it's actually negative).

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Jun 25, 2013 - 5:34pm

    #28
    sdmptww

    sdmptww

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Nov 18 2008

    Posts: 13

    Excellent points

    @westcoastJan, I agree with you that failure needs to become an option, at all levels of society.  Your points on the health care system are meaningful because they are personal.  There is much wrong with the existing system, it is a poster child for how not to create a system that helps people manage their health without creating poverty for everyone except the people at the top of the pyramind.  While people do need to take responsibility for their health and for paying for it when they seek assistance, it will take some time to move people back in that direction.  I meet people every day who have come to believe that they have no ability to know what is best for their body and have to take everything a doctor says as gospel.  If we stop all effort of the government to pay for health care for anyone; veterans, poor, seniors we will not have a system that will suddenly become affordable.  We will just have a system for the wealthy.

    @Wendy, while I agree with your statement that big governments are addicted to fossil fuels and fractional banking and that in time those will fail and therefore big governments will, do we just wait for that to happen?  And if we wait does it then get easier to deal with the aftermath or might it be easier to try to transition the system down toward where it needs to be as quickly as we can while we still have something like a democracy to work in.  As to the question of what have I (since I'm one of the folks here) done lately for people who have less than me, I will say I give from 5-10% a month to local and national charities and I provide some of my homegrown produce to a neighbor that distributes to some of our neighbors who have reached the point of not being able to garden much.  And I regularly share garden production with a neighbor who I know doesn't have much.  It is just sharing because neither they nor I see them as needing charity.  I do think people should voluntarily do many things but again we have forgotten how to do that with dignity and caring and I believe we can move in that direction with some transition toward the government having a much smaller role and not see major starvation if we move without massive change all at once but make some decisions to move and then do it.  And I agree that multi-generational households are a good thing.  I live in one and consider it a blessing every day.

    @Christopher, yes, failure is a vital part of learning and we have to create the space to do that in our personal lives, our communities and at the national level.  Gardening is a great way to learn to adapt and embrace failure because it just doesn't always do what I want.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Jun 25, 2013 - 5:40pm

    #29

    rhare

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: Mar 29 2009

    Posts: 397

    Charity (voluntary) or Government (forced)

    [quote=Christopher A]

    While I agree wholeheartedly with your sentiment of bringing back failure, taking that to confirmation that "it really is survival of the fittest" is just wildly off the mark, in my opinion.

    [/quote]

    So, if you saw someone injured or in need would you help them? Voluntarily?  If you say yes, why do you assume that we have to use force to get the same outcome?  Are you the only good person and everyone else has to have a government force them to be good?

    When you are forced to do something are you happy about it?  How does it compare to when you do it because you want to out of compasion? 

    Goverment programs that aim to help the poor or disadvantage end up creating dependence by those who receive the aid and resentment by those forced to pay for it.  You are much more humble when you receive freely given aid, since it's clearly charity versus when a government confiscates it from others on your behalf.  People begin to feel entitled because of the disconnect, it's not someone elses money, it's the governments.  Those that would be charitable also begin to disconnect, why do I need to help others, I'm already paying the government to do so. 

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Jun 25, 2013 - 5:42pm

    #30

    Christopher H

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: May 29 2009

    Posts: 120

    Regarding the use of legal means to curb corporations

    One thing that I think many people miss when they come up with new legal means to curb the influence of corporations is that corporations themselves WOULD NOT EXIST were it not for laws.  They are legal fictions, and if the laws supporting them were simply removed, then many, or even most of them would almost immediately cease to exist.

    Perhaps the most earth-shaking effect of removing the legal protections for corporations would be in the area of liability.  Corporate officers and board members would be directly culpable for the business decisions made on their behalf.  In a society that actually concerned itself with matters of right or wrong (instead of profit and expediency), then that would likely result in many of those officers and board members being faced with banishment or the noose or guillotine.

    And from a minarchist/anarchist view, such steps would return the locus of decision-making to the local community.  While I am not under the naive pretense that this would be nirvana, I do believe that it would be a better fit than what we have right now — a system where those wreaking the most destruction on people and the earth are able to insulate themselves from the effects of those decisions.  It would at least move us back to a system where decisions are largely made by those with real skin in the game.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Jun 25, 2013 - 6:02pm

    #31
    jdye51

    jdye51

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 17 2011

    Posts: 151

    Arthur

    I was just finishing a post and lost power for a moment or two due to a thunderstorm, so –

    To summarize:

    Arthur – if you are referring to another planet as virgin territory, I have to ask whether we have the right to move our contagion onto another world? Because we've done such a good job here.

    I don't want to go backwards either, but we are heading in that direction. When I fantasize it is about some kind of new energy, like zero point energy, that would provide basically limitless energy with no pollution. It would change everything. We would go from being preoccupied with survival to having the breathing room to focus on everything else. We would need to restructure our societal institutions like government to reflect this. Resource wars would subside and we would be able to pause long enough to examine who we are and where we are heading. We might look more kindly on one another if we aren't competing for finite energy. We could redefine what it is to be human. We might have a chance.

    But, right now, that is a fantasy. Our reality is grim and getting grimmer. I worry that we have run out of time and our options are dwindling with each day that passes. Without a major game-changer, we are proceeding along the same path that has gotten us into trouble. Nothing has changed in a significant enough way to turn this ship around. The inertia is just too great. By the time those aboard realize we're taking on water, it will be too late to save the ship. And we may find any lifeboats have holes in them too.

    Failure is how we learn but will we learn in time to prevent our extinction? Have we caused too much damage to overcome now? Bees are dying and in the U.S. we are still allowing the corporations to make poisons that kill them because their short-term bottom line is more important than the bees we rely on for much of our food. How stupid is that?!

    Off to clean the floors,

    Joyce

     

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Jun 25, 2013 - 6:22pm

    Reply to #29

    Christopher H

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: May 29 2009

    Posts: 120

    You're missing my point, rhare

    My point is that "survival of the fittest" doesn't really exist in the natural world, except in a sense of absolute individualism.  And even then it's not entirely accurate, since whether or not a single organism survives is dependent as much on luck as its "fitness".  Your post is projecting things on to my statement that I never said, nor even implied.What I'm talking about here is what Charles Eisenstein calls "the story of the people."  Our current story is one of extreme individualism, separation, and a war against the biosphere in attempts to "control" it.  It is through that lens that any discussion of "failure" makes a leap to "survival of the fittest".  As a permaculture practitioner, I agree with Charles that we need a new story, because the current one isn't working.  If we start moving toward a story that embraces connectedness, individuality within a group, service, and working with nature as a partner, then the notion of "failure" takes on a whole different meaning.  Failure isn't something ultimate, something to be run from (or, in the current climate, fixed or prevented).  It's just feedback letting us know we need to change our approach.
    That's it.  That's all I wanted to say.  I wasn't denigrating the notion of bringing back failure — I'm actually very much in favor of it.  I also wasn't saying anything about government, state coercion, or any of the other things that you projected on to my argument.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Jun 25, 2013 - 6:35pm

    Reply to #29

    rhare

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: Mar 29 2009

    Posts: 397

    Sorry....

    [quote=Christopher A.]You're missing my point, rhare
    [/quote]
    Your right I did, sorry.  I was in the middle of responding to ptwisewoman and my commentary bled over.
     

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Jun 25, 2013 - 6:43pm

    Reply to #27
    treemagnet

    treemagnet

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 14 2011

    Posts: 279

    Sorry, but for guessing into

    Sorry, but for guessing into the future T4T nuts it.  The 2008 crisis – they were off by like, a year or two.  And more – give it a read, tell us what you think.  I think you'll enjoy it, if not, tell us why.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Jun 25, 2013 - 7:32pm

    #32

    westcoastjan

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jun 04 2012

    Posts: 177

    more thoughts

    With regard to allowing failure to happen and survival of the fittest, I am framing this in the lens of having the courage to say "enough", in order that resources may be channelled to those who are better positioned to be contributors to the ongoing survival of our society. For example, we know that most health care expenditures are made in the final 10 years of life. Is it reasonable to fund things like hip and knee replacements for the elderly? Is it not more prudent to channel those funds elsewhere, to be used for the care of people who are still contributing societal members? I feel like I should be struck by a lightening bolt for saying that, however this is what I am alluding do when I say we have to make choices. We are trying to do and afford everything for everyone, which is not reasonable. Instead of these heroic efforts to keep people going regardless of age, can we make them comfortable and simply accept that their body is breaking down as nature intended it to? Must we manage everything?

    Re survival of the fittest, I do understand what has been said in response to my earlier post. I believe that at the most basic level that is truly what governs us. It is raw, and primitive, and we don't like to think in those terms. But we are animals. In the predator/prey world it is always the weak and the old that get eaten first. In the plant world the noxious, dominant weeds take over the more passive flowers or vegetables. In our lives, if we let nature take its course, the weak and the old would not survive as long as they do with us trying to control everything. I believe that is where we have erred (stike me down again!) It seems like everything we try to manage we screw up. There are reasons for pandemics and plagues, droughts and floods. But we humans with our so called superior intellect have found ways to mitigate these things. But in doing so, we have buggered up other things. For every action there is a reaction. We have done some good things, however they are clearly outweighed by the damages that we now face. I often wonder what the world population would be if nature had been allowed nature to take its couse without any human intervention. An off the wall thought for sure.

    I am not saying we have to start down a path of getting rid of the elderly, or make no effort to save sick premature babies. What I am saying is that we are using finite resources, with not enough to go around for everyone or everything, in order to defy what happens in nature. Something has to give, and it only makes sense for that something to be allocated to the members of society who will be carrying the torch going forward.

    Jan

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Wed, Jun 26, 2013 - 7:31pm

    #33
    BeingThere

    BeingThere

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Apr 07 2013

    Posts: 53

    Not fight for benefits? Really?

    It remains to be seen how people will react to losing social security and medicare benefits as they get more squeezed and lose their health. Yes, at some point the boomers will cross over to senior citizenship whether they see themselves that way or not. Sooner or later age and sickness catches up to you.

    Recently a story came up re: the economy about people renting lawnmowers and other tools from eachother so they don't have to each go out and buy these things…When people get squeezed they come up with a new organization. There may go that bottom line….

    The reason why many haven't retired is because they can't afford to and or they are still going strong and like what they do. I saw many of my father's friends who were well off refuse to retire because they had the stamina and they felt stimulated by their work. Not all can say that though.

    As no fan of Peter Peterson, I'm afraid the privatizing or cutting off of these benefits we paid into will exact a huge price and it's something I wouldn't give up so fast. Especially in lieu of those wealthy well-placed indivduals who are receiveing all kinds of breaks from the government. In the face of human suffering how can magic words like, "They are talented and innovators" stand up?

    Yes, I agree that we suffer from a financialized economy based on unlimited growth in a finite world. That will certainly butt up against reality, but I wouldn't give up my benefits so fast…not while some are living high on the hog of government while pretending they don't believe in government.

    I say to the elite, practice what you preach. We won't talk until you do!

     

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Wed, Jun 26, 2013 - 7:41pm

    #34
    BeingThere

    BeingThere

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Apr 07 2013

    Posts: 53

    Boomers

    It remains to be seen how people will react to losing social security and medicare benefits as they get more squeezed and lose their health. Yes, at some point the boomers will cross over to senior citizenship whether they see themselves that way or not. Sooner or later age and sickness catches up to you.

    Recently a story came up re: the economy about people renting lawnmowers and other tools from eachother so they don't have to each go out and buy these things…When people get squeezed they come up with a new organization. There may go that bottom line….

    The reason why many haven't retired is because they can't afford to and or they are still going strong and like what they do. I saw many of my father's friends who were well off refuse to retire because they had the stamina and they felt stimulated by their work. Not all can say that though.

    As no fan of Peter Peterson, I'm afraid the privatizing or cutting off of these benefits we paid into will exact a huge price and it's something I wouldn't give up so fast. Especially in lieu of those wealthy well-placed indivduals who are receiveing all kinds of breaks from the government. In the face of human suffering how can magic words like, "They are talented and innovators" stand up?

    Yes, I agree that we suffer from a financialized economy based on unlimited growth in a finite world. That will certainly butt up against reality, but I wouldn't give up my benefits so fast…not while some are living high on the hog of government while pretending they don't believe in government.

    I say to the elite, practice what you preach. We won't talk until you do!

     

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Wed, Jun 26, 2013 - 7:49pm

    Reply to #33
    treemagnet

    treemagnet

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 14 2011

    Posts: 279

    Sooooo,

    Basically, more of the same – change it and make it better but give me what I was promised……we're screwed.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Wed, Jun 26, 2013 - 8:08pm

    #35

    rhare

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: Mar 29 2009

    Posts: 397

    What can't be paid, won't be paid....

    [quote=BeingThrere]

    I'm afraid the privatizing or cutting off of these benefits we paid into will exact a huge price and it's something I wouldn't give up so fast.

    [/quote]

    There are a lot of people that feel the same way as you.  The problem is you didn't "pay into" any benefits, you were lied to and basically just taxed more for government.  Now any payout to those that "paid in" are really just theft from the current work force.  It's a really really bad situation.  You have the older citizens that have been robbed and don't realize it, and the younger citizens who are about to be fleeced to cover past promises.  What do you do when you are part of a large ponzi scheme in which all the proceeds have already been spent by the thief?

    The problem is there is no "solution" only figuring out who should bear the costs.  Will we continue to steal from the current workers who are being squeezed by inflation and a poor economy to pay the costs of those who lived it up (relatively speaking) in the past?

    In the end it probably doesn't matter, what can't be paid won't (at least not in any real value).  So if you are relying on government entitlements, you better be figuring out how to live without them..frown

    Just remember there is no trust funds, and many/most of the assets held by pension funds are liabiltiies of the same folks running this giant ponzi scheme.  Do you trust them to make good on their promises?

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Wed, Jun 26, 2013 - 8:47pm

    #36
    BeingThere

    BeingThere

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Apr 07 2013

    Posts: 53

    apologies for double post-

    I tried to remove it.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Wed, Jun 26, 2013 - 11:31pm

    Reply to #35
    BeingThere

    BeingThere

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Apr 07 2013

    Posts: 53

    Ponzi Scheme

    Ponzi, right.That is the way the neoliberals want to describe ss. Some can't wait to get those $trillions privatized. Peter Peterson has made it his endeavor to privatize ss and of course not pay into it.
    Here's what rankles me most. Those who pay taxes are to be disinherited and are paying for the sins of those who hate paying taxes. These characters and can afford armies of lobbyists and get the most from government while screaming about liberty and freedom.
    Keep in mind that companies have been playing the game of leveraged buy-outs for decades now. Once we all went global things got even more out of balance and the national wealth is leaving the country. This puts many in the former middle class in the position of making less money than they would have without the fianancialization game. As people get older they get cut out of the workforce, not out of choice.
    Even if you have a few hundred thousand, it's not going to cover you for decades into your golden years. As more services are privatized the more expensive they will be. Can't make interest on your money anymore and the stock market is like the "Dragon Coaster" at an amusement park. Gotta love those distorted mirrors.
    Somebody asked McCain during his campaign what he considered rich and he said, at least $5 million. Ahh, Not many people  have managed to save that.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Thu, Jun 27, 2013 - 4:45am

    #37

    rhare

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: Mar 29 2009

    Posts: 397

    Sarcasm?

    [quote=Being There]

    Ponzi, right.

    [/quote]

    I'm guessing based on your response this was sarcasm.  Tell me, what do you call it when you ask people to invest, spend all the money, and require new participants to make the payouts to past participants to keep the illusion of investment alive?

    There is no trust fund, there is no money.  The trust fund is just IOUs by the government to itself.  The money you put in is long spent.  So yes, it is a ponzi scheme.

    [quote=Being There]

    As more services are privatized the more expensive they will be.

    [/quote]

    This is very rarely the case, assuming they are truly privatized and have to compete for business and not some quasi-government entity or protected monopoly like GSEs, insurance companies, banks, utilities.  When you have true competition for business things get cheaper.    The main problem is everything is so distorted because your measuring stick (money) is the biggest manipulation of all, nothing is properly valued.  As Chris says we know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

    If SS is privatized, I have no doubt it will be even a bigger screw-up because it will be some government controlled amalgam of insurance companies and banks with little competition

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Thu, Jun 27, 2013 - 10:44am

    Reply to #37

    davefairtex

    Status Diamond Member (Offline)

    Joined: Sep 03 2008

    Posts: 3082

    social security - ponzi or not?

    My two cents.For the early participants, it was definitely a ponzi scheme.  Ida Fuller (first retiree in the program) paid in for about three years, paid in $25 and received (over her retirement lifetime) approximately $22,000.  Now that is nice work – if you can get it; a payout vastly in excess of what was paid in.  22 workers supported each retiree.  Taxes were something like 2% of income.   Of course people died around 65, so then again, perhaps it was a wash.   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ida_May_Fuller
    These days, on average, people get out a bit less than what they paid in, according to this analysis published by the Associated Press.  http://www.theledger.com/article/20101231/NEWS/101239960
    Note this is NOT the case with Medicare, where the benefit grossly exceeds what people paid in – likely because of the huge annual cost escalation in medical care in the US.  "Thank you, Sickcare Cartel."
    Of course the demographic time bomb in our population together with the fact that we allowed our politicians to spend the social security surplus on a whole host of random things starting in 1986 means we are in a predicament now that no whining about "fairness" will get rid of. 
    Solutions are simple: cut benefits for everyone, cut benefits for some, raise the retirement age, and/or raise taxes on the workers.
    It would help if we viewed things as they really are.  Social Security, as currently constituted, is nothing more than a fig leaf over an old-people's welfare program, where money is taxed from working people, and transferred to old people.  Don't misinterpret, I'm all for supporting old people, I'll be old myself someday, I think its a reasonable use of money for our society, and I know I will appreciate the support.  But let's not keep pretending its actually a retirement program with a fund and savings, because it's not.
    Once we're free of the thought-chains of "its a retirement savings plan", a whole lot more options become open to us.  Trimming or perhaps even eliminating payments made to people that have large source of other income, raising the retirement age a bit – it could all work out if we just viewed things a bit differently, and got away from the whole concept of "I paid in, dammit, and I want what's mine."
     

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Thu, Jun 27, 2013 - 12:03pm

    Reply to #37
    BeingThere

    BeingThere

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Apr 07 2013

    Posts: 53

    Competition?

    Competition? That's the problem. The privatized monopolies don't like it. They buy it out or crush it in other ways. Since they're on the stock exchange and need to keep making profits, they are, in fact more expensive to run. In t he meantime we are told they are the "Job Creators" and talented innovators.Please check out the saleries of soldiers who work for private contractors in comparisson to the US military. Please check out the salery of Edward Snowden at Booz Allen. Who's paying for that? You and I. They live on government contracts.
    I agree that true competion does lower prices, but we really aren't in that environment. Everything would be working better if there were true anything. There is no free market when everything from Libor rates etc are manipulated.
    With no regulations can there be a free market? We all know that doesn't comport with  human nature. Manipulation and cheating with the philosphy that greed is good will always land us in the same place.
    I find the real problem is just attacking government is turning a blind eye to all the graft taking place and money being syphoned out of the economies of nation states globally. That's the world I find myself in. If government was functional, there would be just enough oversight to make sure that the people weren't paying for their mess, but alas, Clinton's administration "restructured government" to say that the banks were the govt. clients. Look what it brought us.
    I agree that the trust has a big IOU in it, that's because it's been dipped into for other purposes.
     
     

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Thu, Jun 27, 2013 - 2:31pm

    #38

    rhare

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: Mar 29 2009

    Posts: 397

    Why will there be better results with government this time?

    [quote=BeingThere]

    I find the real problem is just attacking government is turning a blind eye to all the graft taking place and money being syphoned out of the economies of nation states globally. That's the world I find myself in. If government was functional, there would be just enough oversight to make sure that the people weren't paying for their mess, but alas, Clinton's administration "restructured government" to say that the banks were the govt. clients. Look what it brought us.

    [/quote]

    [quote=BeingThere]

    With no regulations can there be a free market? We all know that doesn't comport with  human nature. Manipulation and cheating with the philosphy that greed is good will always land us in the same place.

    [/quote]

    As you point out humans will seek advantages in their environment – call that manipulation or cheating or just being smart.  Greed is just the term applied by the less successful at it to those that are more successful.    But it will always exist since it is a natural law of all humans.

    Once you accept this, and it sounds like you do, the question becomes, what keeps it in check?  I believe you need very simple rules that protect basic property rights (no killing, no stealing, …) ie. a basic legal system, and they you let the the free competition between us "greedy" humans keep each other in check.

    The problem with the other choice, have regulation by government, is that you end up with where we are today.  You have those same basic people being handed the power of control over others.  You give them the right to commit violence or theft (abuse of property rights) over others.  This is also known as criminal prosecution and taxes.   So, why would you ever expect humans not to take advantage of this new found power?

    I find it quite amazing that people who complain about the salaries and corruption of government workers but then call for more government workers in the name of regulation.  What is going to make these additional workers any less likely to succumb to corruption? 

    I prefer the freedom to choose and guide my own life.  To only have to compete against other humans and not against those that have a super powers provided by government.  It's a much less fair fight.

    Also, look back at history and what you will find is nearly everytime a monopoly is formed, you have government being the one that puts it in place.  Normal market forces (competition) will keep monopolies from forming, because if something is profitable (beneficial to those running it), others will enter the market.

     

     

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Thu, Jun 27, 2013 - 2:43pm

    #39

    rhare

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: Mar 29 2009

    Posts: 397

    Ponzi schemes can NOT be treated like investments

    [quote=Davefairtex]

    These days, on average, people get out a bit less than what they paid in, according to this analysis published by the Associated Press.  http://www.theledger.com/article/20101231/NEWS/101239960

    [/quote]

    This is not true.   It would be true if the money that was paid it was not spent by the government on other programs and had actually been invested in something that could be recovered.  However, people who paid in got more government programs than would otherwise have existed or would have required much higher taxes.  Ponzi schemes can not be treated (or reported on) like a true investment in the future.

     

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Thu, Jun 27, 2013 - 2:45pm

    Reply to #30
    sdmptww

    sdmptww

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Nov 18 2008

    Posts: 13

    That works!

    [quote=Christopher A. Harrison]One thing that I think many people miss when they come up with new legal means to curb the influence of corporations is that corporations themselves WOULD NOT EXIST were it not for laws.  They are legal fictions, and if the laws supporting them were simply removed, then many, or even most of them would almost immediately cease to exist.
    Perhaps the most earth-shaking effect of removing the legal protections for corporations would be in the area of liability.  Corporate officers and board members would be directly culpable for the business decisions made on their behalf.  In a society that actually concerned itself with matters of right or wrong (instead of profit and expediency), then that would likely result in many of those officers and board members being faced with banishment or the noose or guillotine.
    And from a minarchist/anarchist view, such steps would return the locus of decision-making to the local community.  While I am not under the naive pretense that this would be nirvana, I do believe that it would be a better fit than what we have right now — a system where those wreaking the most destruction on people and the earth are able to insulate themselves from the effects of those decisions.  It would at least move us back to a system where decisions are largely made by those with real skin in the game.
    [/quote]
    100% agree.  This is the direction we need to move to.  I'm certainly interested in doing it in one major move but I'm not sure we could get a majority in the U.S. to go with it but we might.  I think most folks do not realize corporations function as a specific designation at the pleasure of the public and that can be taken from them.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Thu, Jun 27, 2013 - 3:22pm

    Reply to #38
    BeingThere

    BeingThere

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Apr 07 2013

    Posts: 53

    Milton Friedman--Privatization No Regulation

    Whatever MF has said in his more scholarly meme, If you read Naomi Klein's "Shock Doctrine, the rise of Disaster Capitalism", you will see him in a more realistic light. That's all I have to say on the subject.Using the ideas of John Maynard Keynes, Roosevelt set up checks and balances to protect pricing of necessities and built the largest middle class in history.
    When we switched to laissez faire capitalism a la Milton Friedman and the Chicago Sch of Business we went back on that. What's worse, this system is no longer contained in a nation-state, but is globalized. The real wealth of a healthy economy has been transfered to the low wage states, like China.
    Many of Reagan's economists like David Stockman and Paul Craig Roberts point out the falacies of Neoliberalism.
    At the end of the day, one could impose a 1% tax on the stock market transactions and get something back from the $22 Trillion we paid the global banking system. They chose to continue the giant casino of derivatvies instead of lending to businesss. They make the stock market look good for political purposes, but it can pop at any time. When you're old, that's not good, is it?
    OK. Lookwe are coming from opposite economic theories, but we do have to agree that this thing is so distorted now that even putting back Glass Stegall and practicing Sherman Anti-trust laws won't turn this ship of fools around.
    My original point is that I took issue with the statement that the baby boomers will just accept the end of ss and not fight for it. I say, I'm not so sure, when they see where this will lead…
    I've said enough on this…..
     
     
     

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Thu, Jun 27, 2013 - 4:40pm

    Reply to #39

    davefairtex

    Status Diamond Member (Offline)

    Joined: Sep 03 2008

    Posts: 3082

    paid in, got out

    rhare -I think you are being too particular regarding the words "paid in" and "got out."  I would encourage you to read them in the context of the overall article, where I stated clearly that social security as currently constituted was a welfare program for old people, and not a retirement plan with a pot of money, etc.
    Perhaps if I added a few words, it would make you happy.  For instance, I could say "paid in" taxes, and "got out" in benefits then all would be well.  And in fact, that's exactly what I meant. 
    An analogue to this is the use of the term ROI, when no actual investment was made.  For instance, the ROI for our friendly bankers lobbying Congress is massive, but that's not really an investment.  The money spent lobbying Congress people wasn't put into a fund, but it communicates quite effectively to people what actually went down.  Money was spent by the bankers to buy Congress, and as a direct result of that purchase, a whole lot more money came out the other end.  ROI.
     

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Thu, Jun 27, 2013 - 5:55pm

    Reply to #38

    Grover

    Status Gold Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 15 2011

    Posts: 691

    Generational Warfare

    [quote=BeingThere]My original point is that I took issue with the statement that the baby boomers will just accept the end of ss and not fight for it. I say, I'm not so sure, when they see where this will lead…
    I've said enough on this…..
    [/quote]
    BeingThere,
    I'm sorry that you've said enough about this. That usually means that the shallow argument well is dry.
    You are likely correct that the Boomers will fight for SS, but not as much as the Silents have. As rhare has pointed out, it was a government sponsored ponzi scheme. Furthermore, the pot is empty (see next paragraph.) I'm not at all thrilled with the idea that I paid into the system my entire working life under false pretenses. You are probably in the same boat. Would you agree that eventually it will fail? Would you agree that others have to pay for you to get "benefits"? At some point, people will have to pay without receiving any "benefits." Does that seem fair to you? Silents won't have as much of an issue letting their children, the Xers pay as Boomers will when their darling Millenials have to fund it.
    LBJ created the Unified Budget so he could fight his war on poverty and the war in Viet Nam without appearing to raise taxes. Instead of raising taxes, he borrowed from the Social Security Trust Fund. The extra money coursed through the economy. That was the source of the high inflation we experienced in the '70s. That is why Nixon had to "temporarily" close the gold window. Government programs start out well intentioned, but morph into monstrosities with far reaching consequences. Will more government fix the problem? Has it ever?
    [quote=BeingThere]
    Using the ideas of John Maynard Keynes, Roosevelt set up checks and balances to protect pricing of necessities and built the largest middle class in history.
    [/quote]
    Keynesian monetary philosophy had back ended austerity built into it. The last time the US actually had a fiscal surplus was in 1961. Even that is questionable given the SS imbalances in the system today. It was easy for FDR to follow Keynes. At the beginning of a Keynes cycle, there is manna from heaven (money from DC) being spread throughout the land. When the economy recovers, the money was supposed to be paid back through higher taxes. Apparently, economic conditions have never been good enough yet. When will that occur? Can we ignore the cost forever?
    I would argue that FDR's policies (sanctified by Keynes' theory) worsened the depression and built the largest dependency class in history.
    Grover

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Thu, Jun 27, 2013 - 6:25pm

    #40
    treemagnet

    treemagnet

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 14 2011

    Posts: 279

    I haven't

    read Keynes stuff, but as I understand it, one of its major assumptions was that the money supply was limited vs. our never ending world of ctrl-P, meaning the money spent pushed and pulled  – I think thats correct, maybe not…what I want to know is who's gonna give away scooters and hover-rounds and $20,000 shower/bath combos for old people  when this thing folds up like a cheap tent….poor souls with wants (not needs) and no money….like the old guy I talked to who beat the 'claw-back' bragging about how he dumped his bills on the fed…..seriously…..as he gets out of his new Audi A4.  Honestly, you should've seen the look he gave me when I told him to his face 'people like you are the problem' – I though he was gonna cry or scream, still not sure which.   Another fine elder making sure the future is better and brighter – for his people, not you.  I notice anyone defending this broken mess always cites their right to do wrong since there are much, much larger thefts taking place.  So its okay.  Because I said so.  Listen to your elders and do as your told, not as I do.  New day, more crap.  

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Thu, Jun 27, 2013 - 7:38pm

    Reply to #40

    Grover

    Status Gold Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 15 2011

    Posts: 691

    Welcome to Keynes Cul de Sac

    [quote=treemagnet][I haven't] read Keynes stuff, but as I understand it, one of its major assumptions was that the money supply was limited vs. our never ending world of ctrl-P, meaning the money spent pushed and pulled  – I think thats correct, maybe not.
    [/quote]
    treemagnet,
    Keynes' theory will not work with honest money. In essence, his whole idea was that governments should borrow and spend when recession hits to get the economy growing again. Then, when times get better, taxes should be levied to pay back the borrowing. The government would then act as a giant flywheel that keeps the economy in the "just right" sweet spot.
    If you have a static money supply (e.g. gold based,) when government starts borrowing money, the available supply of savings decreases and interest rates have to increase to coax more of the limited funds out of savings. That makes private borrowings more expensive and therefore less likely to be funded. Paying one person to dig a hole and another to fill the hole only gets funds flowing. It doesn't accomplish anything. Then, more productive work has to be taxed later on … to pay back the stimulus. Those who get the "benefit" aren't necessarily those who pay the price.
    Since we had already ventured down the fiat currency path, interest rates were supposedly set by central bankers. Government borrowings could then be accomplished without immediately increasing interest rates. For the time being, it appeared as if we could have our cake and eat it too.
    Keynes' theory gave legitimacy to ever increasing fiat currency and big government. Politicians love the power that bigger government provides them. Since the real costs of borrowing (increased interest rates) can be hidden, politicians can borrow from tomorrow and enjoy the fruits today. The costs can be pushed down the road until the road suddenly ends.
    Grover

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Thu, Jun 27, 2013 - 8:12pm

    #41

    rhare

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: Mar 29 2009

    Posts: 397

    Semantics matter....

    [quote=davefairtex]

    I think you are being too particular regarding the words "paid in" and "got out."  I would encourage you to read them in the context of the overall article, where I stated clearly that social security as currently constituted was a welfare program for old people, and not a retirement plan with a pot of money, etc.

    Perhaps if I added a few words, it would make you happy.  For instance, I could say "paid in" taxes, and "got out" in benefits then all would be well.  And in fact, that's exactly what I meant.

    [/quote]

    I understood what you were saying and I agree it is welfare for the old people, but when you use terms like "paid in" and "got out" it leads the reader to believe it is a "investment" type program, when as you point out, it's not.  It's why people act like they are owed it, when if they accepted that it's old-age welfare paid via taxes, they might view it differently.  Yes, it's semantics, but as long as we keep letting people like the AP publish articles that present it that way, it frames and limits our conversation.  We need older people to understand they have been lied to for years by their government.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Thu, Jun 27, 2013 - 8:25pm

    #42

    rhare

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: Mar 29 2009

    Posts: 397

    Community is a better choice

    [quote=BeingThere]

    Using the ideas of John Maynard Keynes, Roosevelt set up checks and balances to protect pricing of necessities and built the largest middle class in history.

    [/quote]

    Hmm, or perhaps not.  It might simply be that we have had an explosion in our energy slaves (oil) that raised our standard of living substantially despite all the damage Roosevelt did.  After all it was Roosevelt who started this whole SS ponzi scheme.

    [quote=BeingThere]

    When we switched to laissez faire capitalism a la Milton Friedman and the Chicago Sch of Business we went back on that.

    [/quote]

    We have never had laissez faire capitalism.  If we had we would not have a pretty constantly rising government GDP ratio as you can see here:

    [quote=BeingThere]

    My original point is that I took issue with the statement that the baby boomers will just accept the end of ss and not fight for it. I say, I'm not so sure, when they see where this will lead…

    [/quote]

    I agree, but I don't think there will be a choice.  You can't tax enough to meet the promises.  So something will give.  For a while we will continue to inflate and lie about it, but eventually it will break and any who are not paying attention will be hurt badly.

    My whole point is that we really need to be having the discussions about what the role of government should be in our lives and how it interacts with human nature, and we need to think about these things before SHTF.  It's so easy to say "There should be a law for that", as I used to think/say that alot.  But once you start looking at what government really is, violence by proxy, perhaps people will change their attitudes and decide maybe community (the opposite of government) might be a better solution.

     

     

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Fri, Jun 28, 2013 - 12:01pm

    #43
    BeingThere

    BeingThere

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Apr 07 2013

    Posts: 53

    The tipping point of abuse

    I will reiterate that the people won't go gently into that good night as they are unable to survive without the social safety net. All the old diseases we haven't seen in a century will be back. We'll be joining the third world. Huge dispparities of wealth with little chance to move up…

    Talk is cheap, survival and fighting for it is another story. When things go too far, people will respond. Right now we are still discussing hypotheticals and when things become very real, there will be a tipping point. That's happened throughout history.

    Bill Black has said that during the Clinton administration, there was a mission toward Restructuring Government, where they claimed that the banks were the Government's client. When Black disagreed and said the people are the client of the government, they said, "You're wrong". (Can you hear the Twighlight Zone theme)

    There is much that the American people are not aware of that  undermines the finances of the people, while guarneteeing profits to some. Because we demonize taxes, JP Morgan set up Sovereign Wealth Funds for foreign investors from Abu Dhabi mainly who have bought  80 year ownership of midwest highways, as we are unable to support our highway system in some states. (See Matt Taibbi's "Griftopia".) I keep asking if the Right wingers understood that not paying taxes might mean selling off the infrastructure of this country to (yikes, Arabs or Chinese) would they choose to pay the taxes? (Indeed there are no free lunches, afterall)

    If the govt continues to prop up the zombie banks to the tune of $trillions that the sucker tax-payers are stuck with, if we can't stop getting into military conflicts around the world to impose globalism, and at the same time privatize the social safety net for Goldman Sachs to administer, will the people fight back?

    Is the government spending huge sums of money to private contractors to protect themselves and their specially picked monopolies against us in the guise of fighting terrorism? HMmmmmm

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Fri, Jun 28, 2013 - 4:52pm

    Reply to #43

    Grover

    Status Gold Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 15 2011

    Posts: 691

    Too Late For Blame

    [quote=BeingThere]I will reiterate that the people won't go gently into that good night as they are unable to survive without the social safety net. All the old diseases we haven't seen in a century will be back. We'll be joining the third world. Huge dispparities of wealth with little chance to move up…
    Talk is cheap, survival and fighting for it is another story. When things go too far, people will respond. Right now we are still discussing hypotheticals and when things become very real, there will be a tipping point. That's happened throughout history.
    [/quote]
    BeingThere,
    The social safety net has been raided by the politicians who promised too much and pushed the cost into the future. The future gets closer every day. The only way for you and I to get "benefits" is if someone else pays. It doesn't matter what is right or wrong. It is what it is. The voters listened to a story that was too good to be true and bought it hook, line, and stinker. You should be angry about it. But then you should put that anger aside and plan for the inevitable. The sooner, the better.
    [quote=BeingThere]
    If the govt continues to prop up the zombie banks to the tune of $trillions that the sucker tax-payers are stuck with, if we can't stop getting into military conflicts around the world to impose globalism, and at the same time privatize the social safety net for Goldman Sachs to administer, will the people fight back?
    Is the government spending huge sums of money to private contractors to protect themselves and their specially picked monopolies against us in the guise of fighting terrorism? HMmmmmm
    [/quote]
    If Paulson and Bernanke hadn't propped up the zombie banks, the system would have collapsed. There would be no more deliveries because there wouldn't be payments. Within days, the stores would be bare. People would hoard because they wouldn't have any idea when they'd be able to get more. There would be extreme violence as the cheap talk gave way to actual survivalism. The people in the cities would be trapped in a self cleaning oven. They've been trained to wait for government to fix it. They'll stay put until all their resources have been used up. At that point, how could they get out? There would be many tens of millions of casualties across this country.
    All the $trillions did was buy us some more time. Nothing was fixed by these bail-outs. The problems were only papered over. Terrorism was a ruse. (How would you feel if a foreign country built a base in your back yard? How could you fight the occupation with odds so overwhelmingly against you? As Yogi Berra said, "hit 'em where they ain't.") The government's response was to shred the constitution and increase surveillance on everybody. They use private contractors because those are easy to control and it hides the increased size of government.
    I wish you would drop the "right wingers" rhetoric. Neither side has all the answers. All sides share the problems that we have. It's time to move beyond the blame and focus on strategies when the inevitable occurs. Shoulda, coulda, woulda needs to occur before it is too late.
    Grover

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Fri, Jun 28, 2013 - 6:33pm

    Reply to #43
    BeingThere

    BeingThere

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Apr 07 2013

    Posts: 53

    right wingers

    You seem to miss the point of my question. Actually I see the split not with right and left so much as those who believe in nation states and have governments that serve the interests of the people who live in them, and the neoliberal globalist view of things where banking and corporate interests are all that count.My point, since it is the right wing who are fighting taxes is that they seem totally unaware that the buying up of infrastructure by foreign entities is taking place. I think they have a right to know that there are choices and they may be surprised at what choice would further the nation state more.
    I had a big argument with some friends over dinner about the people's right to know what the alternatives to not taxing in a country with expensive infrastructure and they said, well they won't get it anyway, so what's the point?
    I think people are smart enough to understand that there are alternatives. Unlike Thatcher's TINA (There are no alternatives) And I guess reisistance is futile.
    I see little point in continuing so I'll give you the last word. I've discussed this enough.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Sat, Jun 29, 2013 - 1:50am

    #44
    searesponse

    searesponse

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Dec 03 2011

    Posts: 31

    Niel Howe has the Euro wrong

    There is a real problem in the PP community; every commentator Chris interviews on every podcast agrees that Euro was doomed from the beginning and is about to break-up.

    Unfortunately, this is nonsense. 

    The worst are McLeod and Mish chortling at how much more brainy they are than those stupid Europeans

    Chris should stop using the blanket term "central bankers" to imply the Fed, ECB, BoE and BoJ are doing the same thing.
    Can no-one here see that the ECB is on a radically different path to the Fed, and Central Banks of Japan and England? Nobody??? Have you all been utterly brainwashed by the UK and US goldbugsphere/media ?

    A key innovation of the Euro is breaking the link between the currency and national government.  

    It is idiocy for Howe to suggest that Greece leave the Euro to emulate … Argentina. Of all examples he gives the one that shows exactly why Greece won't leave the Euro. 

    The last thing a corrupt country like Greece needs is a greek Central Bank destroying its new currency.  The only thing Greece has going for it is that the ECB is forcing it to restructure, bringing down unit labour costs. This is harsh medicine, but the PIIGS will be better off, as the ECB refuses to print. High/hyperinflation is coming to the US, UK and Japan, not the EZ.  

    Yeah I know. I'm totally wrong. Okay. Bye bye. 

     

     

     

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Sat, Jun 29, 2013 - 2:18am

    Reply to #43
    treemagnet

    treemagnet

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 14 2011

    Posts: 279

    I haven't seen one

    Thought you have expressed that I agree with…from basic concepts to peripheral fringe references.  But, you've stepped up, stated an opinion, and came back.   Don't be a quitter.  That's the worst thing…ever.  This isn't my fight, mine is  generational stuff and public unions – don't go there unless you have time to burn.  Point is, don't drop your fists so early….my experience in men's hockey is that the best way to lose is to start something and not follow through.  Then they know your not committed…..see?  That's when you loose teeth.   And oh,  Grover is not someone to toy with unless you really know your shit or just want to piss into the wind, or – as in my case, I just pick my battles and will. not. quit.  But, you've got an issue – see it through, learn, win or lose – and we'll learn with you.  That's why boomers flame out here/there/everywhere….if they don't receive immediate gratification and accolades they tire, blame and resign for the evening – comfortable in the knowledge that they see what you cannot, or better…..will not.  

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Sat, Jun 29, 2013 - 1:24pm

    #45

    Greg Snedeker

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: Oct 22 2012

    Posts: 380

    Fragility, Size, and Keynes

    Grover, I think you have oversimplified/generalized Keynes a bit. He was sensitive to the risks of bigger government and expressed this in his correspondence with Hayak, and the gold standard has not been the epotome of sound economics. Just looking at the period in the US between 1870s – 1910, you can find all sorts of problems (liquidity especially) with a metal backed currency. IMHO, the problem lies in that all these economic theories are just that, theories that are flawed in their representation of reality. The messiness of human behavior (especially irrational behavior and corruption), not to mention the limits of resources are not adequately expressed in the foundations of any of these theories. It may be that we have to combine them in such a way as to better approximate what happens in regard to both of these (behavior and limits). Prospect theory blew holes in the "rational" assumptions made about utility that are often still dismissed, although I'm sure they have been incorporated into the algorithms of hyperfrequency trading.

    I think where Howe gets it right is when he says there is a cost, whether  seen or not, for every gain. Because of our biases we often see the gains we want to see and not the costs, or at least not until much later. Here's an interesting video between Kahneman and Taleb about the tradeoffs of system fragility and size:

    It's interesting to see the difference in the delivery of their ideas between the two men. They have very different personalities and come from different generations.

     

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Sat, Jun 29, 2013 - 2:16pm

    Reply to #45
    BeingThere

    BeingThere

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Apr 07 2013

    Posts: 53

    Great discussion thanks

    Thanks for this post. I will be listening to this NYPL series.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Sat, Jun 29, 2013 - 4:10pm

    #46

    darbikrash

    Status Gold Member (Offline)

    Joined: Aug 25 2009

    Posts: 297

    I find the emergence of the

    I find the emergence of the Rip Van Winkles amusing, after 75 years of the (successful) social security program all of a sudden they wake up and determine that this is and has been all along a Ponzi scheme, inflicted upon an unsuspecting population by Roosevelt like a contagion. Who knew?

     

    I’m thankful for the critical thinking skills exhibited in this thread that disabuse me from considering SS as an insurance policy. I have learned that it is now a “retirement” program or perhaps some type of malformed “investment”, which as every supporter of liberty and freedom knows, can be better managed by the proletariat themselves, wherein fine principles like individuality, accountability, delayed gratification, and just the general notion to “hold yer mud” can be relied upon to stave off a post retirement diet of cat food and cardboard domiciles.

     

    For which I am grateful, for if it were merely an insurance policy, than everyone with homeowners insurance, auto insurance, or insurance of any kind would also be participating in a big government  conspiracy and it’s related Ponzi scheme. Every car owner of course paying into a bottomless pit of government mandated bureaucratic spending, the average man paying in more than he takes out. And those irresponsible layabouts that get into a car accident, why, they think they’re “entitled” to a payout? Any self respecting purveyor of free markets and truth knows that the need for insurance is proof positive of a moral (and likely a genetic) deficiency. You simply save your money and drive responsibly, like a real American.

     

    Except that it seems that we Americans don’t do so well at the saving money part.

     

    Which is just as well, because for all those stand up souls, those hard working Boomers who delayed their gratification to cobble together a retirement nest egg, they are now rewarded handsomely for their career spanning 40+ year exercise in staid working class diligence. They are rewarded with annual CD rates of 0.5%, which means they cannot really retire at all. Or those with 401k programs, who took 40% losses in the 2008 crisis. Hope they didn’t really need the money, because they couldn’t retire either. Or maybe the ever ascendant rentier class, who perhaps bought a duplex or other real estate investment to support them during their retirement years- how’s that working out?

     

    Gradually, though, the awful truth sinks in. The real Ponzi scheme is that we produce nothing for ourselves- all of our labor power, and I mean all of it, is given to someone else, and in exchange, a wage is given. For virtually every man woman and child, if you do not receive a wage, you do not eat. The calculus is simple, no job, no opportunity to exchange labor power for a wage, no eat. Why would anyone want or need an insurance policy?

     

    In the land of milk and honey, anything was possible. Not any more. Wages have fallen for the middle class for the last two decades. Less opportunity to sock away money for the inevitable time when, due to age, you cannot exchange labor for a wage. And even if you could, what will 0.5% interest rates buy you? What standard of living is that?

     

    Perhaps most insulting is that the Ponzi scheme mafia offers no alternative. Instead we hear hyperbolic statements, cascading circular logic like nesting Russian puzzle boxes, about “sound money” and “free markets”. These statements belie a particularly disingenuous ideology, that all of this would go away with “honest money” and less government intervention.

     

    If only it were true, but this is a fairy tale, an Randian fantasy, the stuff you tell a child before bedtime, the full force of which can only be realized if accompanied by the libertarian wagging finger and associated stentorial voice.

     

    Because these “practitioners” refuse to acknowledge that we have created a ruse, a game of musical chairs with 7 participants and only 4 chairs. And they defend and valorize this ruse to the bitter end, certain that those 4 that are seated when the music stops playing are deserving, and to be celebrated, and those that are left without are deficient and deserving of their comeuppance.

     

    The “honest” money advocates do not question the number of chairs, just those that are left standing. They conveniently ignore that fiat money is the only manifestation of currency that will support the free market schemes that they themselves advocate, and to abolish this, or even to modify this (fiat money) in any meaningful fashion will in fact deal a death blow to the capitalist means of production, destroying the mechanism by which millions exchange their labor for substinence income.

    Thin gruel indeed.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Sun, Jun 30, 2013 - 3:10am

    Reply to #45

    Arthur Robey

    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 03 2010

    Posts: 1814

    Thanks Gillbillie.

    It is good to hear Nassim Talib talking but I would prefer him to be more generous in his conversation style. It is good manners to allow the other person to speak. Nassim tried on several occations to allow Daniel Kahneman an opportunity to talk but was unable to repress his tongue.Here are the two exerpts that I agree with.

    The economy must support risk taking by ensuring that the risk taker gets to eat. The object of the support is not charity, it is to encourage risk taking.The top of the totem pole can look after itself and needs no state support.
    "The mistake people tend to make is to think that whatever you don't understand is stupid" Fat Tony explaining Nietzche to Socrates. That can be applied in spades when it comes to Cold Fusion. People reject it because it is not accounted for in their models of reality (Left Brain) .

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Mon, Jul 01, 2013 - 2:16am

    Reply to #43

    Grover

    Status Gold Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 15 2011

    Posts: 691

    Creative Financing

    BeingThere,I've found that people who have broad categories (e.g. Right Wingers,) generally assign other stereotypical attributes along with it. As soon as you call someone ______ (fill in the blank,) you've discounted their argument and elevated your own enlightened status without having to defend anything. Perhaps I'm being stereotypical. When you try to observe your actions through other's eyes, do you see anything like this?
    When is enough enough? How high do you think taxes should be – for the super rich, rich, middle class, lower class, destitute? Where should those funds go? Should we invest in infrastructure, social issues, defense, etc.?
    When you talk of selling off public infrastructure to foreign entities, you really are describing a component of creative financing. The politicians are bringing future revenues to the present so they can use the funds here and now. The buyers view it as an investment. Is it right to toll a highway that has been built with public funds? Highways need maintenance and have to be patrolled. How should that be paid?
    It seems that everybody loves the infrastructure they use as long as someone else pays for it and it isn't near their back yard. I wish we could have adult sized conversations that drill into financial facts before committing funds. Projections are generally too optimistic and costs creep higher than expected. Doesn't that anger you?
    Hopefully, this won't come as a shock. I think taxes are too high. With all the promises and projects, taxes need to be higher to adequately fund everything. Creative financing pushes the cost into the future. When the future arrives, we've got more demands for the limited funds. That is where we are today. And yes, it bothers me too.
    Grover

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Mon, Jul 01, 2013 - 3:12am

    Reply to #45

    Grover

    Status Gold Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 15 2011

    Posts: 691

    Keynes and gold

    [quote=gillbilly]Grover, I think you have oversimplified/generalized Keynes a bit. He was sensitive to the risks of bigger government and expressed this in his correspondence with Hayak, and the gold standard has not been the epotome of sound economics. Just looking at the period in the US between 1870s – 1910, you can find all sorts of problems (liquidity especially) with a metal backed currency. IMHO, the problem lies in that all these economic theories are just that, theories that are flawed in their representation of reality. The messiness of human behavior (especially irrational behavior and corruption), not to mention the limits of resources are not adequately expressed in the foundations of any of these theories. It may be that we have to combine them in such a way as to better approximate what happens in regard to both of these (behavior and limits). Prospect theory blew holes in the "rational" assumptions made about utility that are often still dismissed, although I'm sure they have been incorporated into the algorithms of hyperfrequency trading.
    [/quote]
    gillbilly,
    I'm reminded of a Monty Python skit where contestants in a game show were tasked with "summarizing Proust." So, I gave it my shot. How would you boil down Keynesian theory to its essence?
    Granted, my example was chosen to show the absurdity. Would Keynes prefer to disseminate funds by paying someone to dig a hole and paying someone else to fill it in? No. He would prefer projects that have a return on investment. If there were no good projects available, would he resort to paying for nothing? Or would he admit that his theory was limited?
    Adolph Hitler was the first national leader to embrace Keynes' monetary philosophy. Hitler had no intent of ever paying back the funds he borrowed. The German people adored him for bringing prosperity back. He used the funds to build his war machine. Had the Germans been aware of the outcome of his ambitions, would they still support him?
    Look at FDR and the alphabet soup agencies he created to fight the depression. Did it work? Did he get credit for ending the depression? Did he ever intend to pay back the funds he borrowed in our name? In 1961, we had our last US fiscal surplus. Since then, nothing has been paid back and we're deeper in debt than ever. We keep digging deeper – and we use Keynes' theory to justify it. That is my biggest complaint about it.
    The economic climate under the gold standard in 1870-1910 wasn't a smooth sail. There were many panics. Does that condemn a gold standard? Perhaps the problem was that bankers treated the gold as fractionally reserved because most people preferred to keep it in the bank's safes. I'd work on fixing that problem before dismissing a gold standard.
    The allure of high profits tempted bankers to lend out too much. When the downturns came, the people made runs on the bank to get their savings out. Eventually, the gold was gone. I'm sure more than one banker was lynched for cheating the depositors.
    The bankers came up with the idea of a central bank to protect themselves. There would always be paper available (at a price) to satisfy depositors. When the federal reserve was first instituted, they claimed that the paper notes were "good as gold." They instituted 40% gold reserves to back the currency. That means there was 2 1/2 times the money as there was gold backing it. Again, during good times, people preferred the convenience of paper over bulky gold. When the system broke down in 1929-32 and bank runs commenced, people preferred gold over paper promises. By design, there wasn't enough gold to satisfy depositors.
    That is where the "liquidity" issues arose. If bankers had been honest about their deposits, these problems wouldn't have happened. If people want interest from a banker, they should be accepting the risk that their gold won't be returned. If they don't want the risk, they should be able to pay the banker to store it – similar to a safe deposit box. Bankers should be held to a higher standard. Just the opposite is true.
    Grover

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Mon, Jul 01, 2013 - 2:13pm

    Reply to #45

    Greg Snedeker

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: Oct 22 2012

    Posts: 380

    Fair Enough But...

    Grover, I know you knew you were generalizing, but I guess that was my point:-) The problem again returns to the fact that economic models and standards are made to reflect the behavior of "human" markets. The models we have currently don't seem to fit the dynamic nature of human and ecological behavior we have currently.  Most opinions that are expressed on this site are out of date in regard to what we know (I include my own). I think that's why there is so much emotion involved…everyone is grasping for something that will make sense, but we are trying to make sense of distorted and incomplete models that don't fit our current predicament.  For instance you wrote:

    If bankers had been honest about their deposits, these problems wouldn't have happened. If people want interest from a banker, they should be accepting the risk that their gold won't be returned. If they don't want the risk, they should be able to pay the banker to store it – similar to a safe deposit box. Bankers should be held to a higher standard. Just the opposite is true.

    and…The allure of high profits tempted bankers to lend out too much. When the downturns came, the people made runs on the bank to get their savings out. Eventually, the gold was gone. I'm sure more than one banker was lynched for cheating the depositors.

    To me, If/then statements like these seem logical only hindsight, and "the allure of high profits" is a structural component of our capitalist models of utility and risk. It is impossible to know what was really going through the minds of the bankers of that time. There wasn't electronic trading, a global reserve currency, hypothecating, etc. Do you think if we changed back to a gold standard that bankers would miraculously be honest now?  Would HFT trading go away? Would the fractional banking system that so many in the finance world depend on and benefit from go away? Would rehypothecation of gold go away? Aren't there too many businesses reliant on all this systemic manipulation? I'm trying not to sound nihilistic, but I think the honest answer is that we don't have a model or picture of the world that gives a solution and/or can predict what is going to happen in the future.
    Now I see an article today about $10k gold in the future. What does that really mean at a time which Chris says is a time when we know the price of everything and the value of nothing?  It may reach a price of $10k, I don't know, but the value of it may be $100 in current real value. No one can say for sure what will happen in the world in an hour from now, let alone in five or ten years.
    I've stopped thinking I'm building resillience to prepare for a collapse that, in all honesty, I don't know will ever come. I build resillience to improve my own personal value of life, and hopefully will improve the lives around me.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Mon, Jul 01, 2013 - 2:20pm

    #47

    Greg Snedeker

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: Oct 22 2012

    Posts: 380

    If you believe the reports...

    Didn't know where to post this, but if you believe the reporting from the BLS, the revised first quarter show that the rich got even richer, and the rest of us got poorer:

    http://www.bls.gov/news.release/prod2.nr0.htm

    The difference between the previous and revised unit costs, real hourly compensation, and productivity says it all. Compensation down, productivity up

    …and the beat goes on…

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Mon, Jul 01, 2013 - 6:23pm

    Reply to #47
    BeingThere

    BeingThere

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Apr 07 2013

    Posts: 53

    gold?

    Agreed. The point is that they needed to get off the gold standard in order to go global and do the derivatives thing. That's why Nixon got us off gold.Plain and simple. While we talk about breaking the social safety net here at home, we are promising billions to the African nations. Why?
    We need new places to go in the infinite growth model. We use the tax-payer money to devolop and open the new markets for the corporations–too big for one nation-state.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Mon, Jul 01, 2013 - 6:32pm

    #48

    davefairtex

    Status Diamond Member (Offline)

    Joined: Sep 03 2008

    Posts: 3082

    social security - not insurance

    darbikrash –

    At least under my definition, social security isn't insurance.  An insurance company charges premiums that are high enough to cover the costs of payouts that it will be burdened with, and it keeps a pot of money around to do just that.

    Social Security does the first bit (it charges premiums – which look a lot like taxes) but it doesn't keep around a pot of money.  The government spends the premium money on a bunch of other things instead of saving it in that pot.

    Other countries don't do this.  They actually save money for their retirees in a real pot of money that isn't spent by the government as soon as it comes in.

    So since its not insurance, it must be something else.  Given that current revenues are used to pay current beneficiaries, that better fits the definition of a welfare program.  People pay taxes in, and different people receive benefits.  Welfare.  That's not a bad thing, and I'm in favor of having it – but it is not insurance.

    If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it's a welfare program.  So to speak.

    The distinction between insurance and a welfare program is critical.  As other posters have mentioned, since its not insurance (no pot of money) the only way benefits get paid is on the backs of someone else working today, a true zero sum game.  And when resources start to get thin, it probably makes sense for everyone to get cut back, likely starting with the more well-off people who don't need the welfare program quite as much as the folks on the bottom.

    If it were insurance, then the reaction "I paid in dammit" would be perfectly sound.  But that's not reality.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Mon, Jul 01, 2013 - 10:20pm

    #49
    Doug

    Doug

    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

    Joined: Oct 01 2008

    Posts: 1353

    Insurance trust funds?

    I question just how much different insurance funds are from SS funds.  The little googling around I've done shows that the insurance industry has fractional reserve requirements based on odds of having to pay out and actuarial tables predicting how often they have to pay out.  These reserve requirements have come under scrutiny lately due to suspicions that they have underestimated how much they might need, and appear to be similarly small to banks reserve requirements. 

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203707504577010211496055718.html

    So, assuming the numbers are adequate, where are these reserves kept?  In bank accounts. 

    http://www.ehow.com/how-does_4564291_insurance-company-set-reserves.html

    [quote]Reserves are a portion of an insurance company's current earnings set aside for future losses. This money is kept in liquid form in a bank. These funds are not used for investments or loans. The sole purpose for them is to pay claims. A company sets them by reviewing the odds.[/quote]

    Read more: http://www.ehow.com/how-does_4564291_insurance-company-set-reserves.html#ixzz2XpmWrsfG

    I wasn't able to determine whether those accounts are gov't insured or not, but it doesn't take much imagination to see big problems arising from catastrophic events like Katrina or Sandy.  If the reserves aren't insured, the banks' financial stability could be threatened if the accounts are sufficiently large, particularly since they are undoubtedly also fractionally reserved.  If they are insured, the money supposedly comes from guess where.  That's right, gov't trust funds which are, like the SS trust funds, immediately loaned into the fed treasury for general expenditures.  And what if the banks and gov't trust funds can't handle the load, then the insurance companies turn to the gov't anyway for bailouts.

    The bottom line for me is that the insurance policies may be marginally more secure than SS payouts, but I wouldn't get all warm and fuzzy about their security either.  In fact, they may be less secure than SS trust funds which are backed by what has long been considered 'good as cash' treasuries.

    Doug

     

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Jul 02, 2013 - 1:34am

    Reply to #49
    treemagnet

    treemagnet

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 14 2011

    Posts: 279

    When the bail-ins

    come, insurance funds – all of it, cash values, deposits, loan values, everything anyone here is quietly relying on are the easiest thing to seize next to money market funds.  Fun fact, how many of you sold and went to cash in your IRA, 401K's, etc……and think you're in a cash account?  Nope, you are in a money market fund, with a stock trading symbol to boot, as in, marketable security.  Then, go back and archive an older piece off of Jim Quinn's, "The Burning Platform" (awesome site, check it out), titled "What you don't know".  Then, pour yourself a stiff drink (no white wine) and ask your spouse to sit down.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Jul 02, 2013 - 1:44am

    Reply to #48

    darbikrash

    Status Gold Member (Offline)

    Joined: Aug 25 2009

    Posts: 297

    davefairtex wrote

    [quote=davefairtex]darbikrash –
    At least under my definition, social security isn't insurance.  An insurance company charges premiums that are high enough to cover the costs of payouts that it will be burdened with, and it keeps a pot of money around to do just that.
    Social Security does the first bit (it charges premiums – which look a lot like taxes) but it doesn't keep around a pot of money.  The government spends the premium money on a bunch of other things instead of saving it in that pot.
    Other countries don't do this.  They actually save money for their retirees in a real pot of money that isn't spent by the government as soon as it comes in.
    So since its not insurance, it must be something else.  Given that current revenues are used to pay current beneficiaries, that better fits the definition of a welfare program.  People pay taxes in, and different people receive benefits.  Welfare.  That's not a bad thing, and I'm in favor of having it – but it is not insurance.
    If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it's a welfare program.  So to speak.
    The distinction between insurance and a welfare program is critical.  As other posters have mentioned, since its not insurance (no pot of money) the only way benefits get paid is on the backs of someone else working today, a true zero sum game.  And when resources start to get thin, it probably makes sense for everyone to get cut back, likely starting with the more well-off people who don't need the welfare program quite as much as the folks on the bottom.
    If it were insurance, then the reaction "I paid in dammit" would be perfectly sound.  But that's not reality.
    [/quote]
     
    I agree with your objecting to the way the $2.7 trillion trust fund is "invested", I'm sure most of us would feel better if the money were  available as cash reserves as opposed to what amounts to encumbered IOU's. It is not however, immediately obvious to me how one goes about investing $2.7 trillion dollars with the objective of capital preservation and liquidity.
     
    Not sure there is a good answer to this.
     
    But kibitzing about how money earmarked for reserves is invested, in my view, does nothing to indicate whether or not this is an insurance policy or a welfare program. All insurance companies invest pooled money, in fact, the dominant revenue stream in the insurance business model is interest income, interest from the policy holder's payments. We may reasonably disagree as to how this money is invested, but this schema is hard wired into the insurance business.
     
    The determinant for this question (welfare or insurance) is the numerical framework used in the model. This is pretty straight forward, the SSI model (specifically, the social security component of SSI) is based on actuarial tables. As you know, actuarial tables use statistics combined with mortality information to determine the relationship between premiums ( or taxes if you prefer) and payouts.
     
    This is the dominant model used for any insurance business. It is a model based on several key principles, a. Loss of "dollar to dollar" associativity, e.g policy premiums are pooled and payouts are distributed from the general fund, and the individual policy holder is disconnected from any net drains of the fund, and b. Probability is used to determine the statistical likelihood of the number of payouts, and as a rule there is often insufficient funds to pay all policyholders for simultaneous claims.  
     
    Although welfare does use demographic data to calculate likely distributions, it does not use the same numerical framework to calculate benefits or taxes.  
     
    Besides, the government calls this "insurance" so it must be true.   
     
     
     

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Jul 02, 2013 - 1:49am

    Reply to #45

    Grover

    Status Gold Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 15 2011

    Posts: 691

    Rule of Law

    [quote=gillbilly]To me, If/then statements like these seem logical only hindsight, and "the allure of high profits" is a structural component of our capitalist models of utility and risk. It is impossible to know what was really going through the minds of the bankers of that time. There wasn't electronic trading, a global reserve currency, hypothecating, etc. Do you think if we changed back to a gold standard that bankers would miraculously be honest now?
    [/quote]
    gillbilly,
    I believe that the rule of law must be adhered to. I also believe that certain groups should be held to a higher standard – law enforcement, judges, bankers, and others in a "trust" position. If a licensed engineer designs a faulty building and it fails, he is held culpable. What recourse do you have against a crooked banker? The reason we are where we are is because of what we have done. That includes the laws and the loopholes that moneyed people can hire expensive lawyers to widen.
    [quote=gillbilly]
    Would HFT trading go away? Would the fractional banking system that so many in the finance world depend on and benefit from go away? Would rehypothecation of gold go away? Aren't there too many businesses reliant on all this systemic manipulation? I'm trying not to sound nihilistic, but I think the honest answer is that we don't have a model or picture of the world that gives a solution and/or can predict what is going to happen in the future.
    [/quote]

    HFT would disappear if they had to pay a fee to make their trades. Why do they get special treatment? They're skimming pennies or fractions thereof. It simply wouldn't be worth it to them.
    Fractional banking is allowed by the law. Now, otherwise intelligent people believe that it is a necessary condition of modern living. It is the basis for dishonest money. Does a banker deserve to make more money than the builder by loaning you the money to buy a house? What is the real risk here that justifies their interest?
    I'm not sure if rehypothecation is illegal. Jon Corzine did it. What has happened to him?
    Businesses come and go. New businesses spring from the ashes of the dead.

    [quote=gillbilly]
    Now I see an article today about $10k gold in the future. What does that really mean at a time which Chris says is a time when we know the price of everything and the value of nothing?  It may reach a price of $10k, I don't know, but the value of it may be $100 in current real value. No one can say for sure what will happen in the world in an hour from now, let alone in five or ten years.
    [/quote]
    I agree. I look at it as a relative unit. For instance, gasoline cost less than a quarter per gallon when we had 90% silver quarters. You can still get a gallon of gas for the melt value of a "junk" silver quarter $3.55 (almost.) If gold goes to $10K, there will be many other dislocations as well. The relative value should still be there.
    [quote=gillbilly]
    I've stopped thinking I'm building resillience to prepare for a collapse that, in all honesty, I don't know will ever come. I build resillience to improve my own personal value of life, and hopefully will improve the lives around me.
    [/quote]
    I'm experiencing "collapse" fatigue as well. I've switched gears in line with your assessment. Frankly, the system is on life support, but can the life support continue through my life time? I don't know. I do know that nothing drastic will change until the current system fails. Realistically, I expect more gnashing from the commoners and the upper echelons will continue cheating and it will be glossed over. They are literally above the law.
    Grover

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Jul 02, 2013 - 12:35pm

    #50

    Greg Snedeker

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: Oct 22 2012

    Posts: 380

    Grover, I agree

    Grover, I agree with most, if not all, of what you wrote. It all would work… but after a collapse, and it would work for awhile until those who look to manipulate the system would begin again. Sorry, maybe I'm just being a wee bit cynical.

    Moral hazard seems to be an integral part of our system (I'm talking our entire system…finance, govt., legal, education, research, etc). I'm not saying it's right or that it has to be that way, but just that it is that way. I think Darbikrash would say it is a part of free-market capitalism. Profit above all else seems to be where we are at. And the division of labor (specialization) allows the responsibility of a failure, whether it is a building or bank, to be completely obscured, so in the end no one is to blame. How many engineers have been held responsible for a failed building?…too many eyes and hands on any one project. The persons "in charge" merely point their fingers away from themselves. This is how CEOs externalize their own failures, but of course they are happy to take credit for the gains.  The top-down beauracratic organization of the system is crucial for all of this to work, and so,… everything continues to get bigger. Corporations learned long ago when they were developing and perfecting their technostructures that externalizing costs was the only way to survive. Our accounting books don't have a line for this externalization Where would you even begin? It merely becomes "everyone's problem." (TBTF anyone?) I think every ideology has it's negative side, and this is the pathological side of "free-market" capitalism. We just don't want to confront it, we just continue to relabel it (mature capitalism, neo-liberalism, et al).

    I get your point on gold, but there is a large cultural component in the tradition that seems to have continued in some parts of the world and not in others, so I agree, dislocations would be inevitable.

    Thank you for your reply.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Jul 02, 2013 - 7:39pm

    Reply to #50
    Nate

    Nate

    Status Silver Member (Online)

    Joined: May 05 2009

    Posts: 316

    FWIW

    [quote=gillbilly]Moral hazard seems to be an integral part of our system (I'm talking our entire system…finance, govt., legal, education, research, etc). I'm not saying it's right or that it has to be that way, but just that it is that way.
    [/quote]
    gillbilly,
    I'm reading Secular Cycles and have nearly finished it.
    http://www.eeb.uconn.edu/people/turchin/SEC.htm
    After reading about 2 English, 2 French, 2 Roman, and 1 Russian cycle some common themes have emerged.  The poor have always been exploited by either the elite class or the state in every cycle covered.  They didn't need a Federal Reserve to accomplish this.  Or fiat money.  Or a fractional reserve system.  Or Democrats.  Or Republicans.  The problem is not 'the system' – the problem is man.  Man is inherently evil.  And the really bad apples seem to get into positons to do serious damage to the masses. 
    [quote=gillbilly]
    … but after a collapse, and it would work for awhile until those who look to manipulate the system would begin again. Sorry, maybe I'm just being a wee bit cynical.
    [/quote]
    You aren't cynical – you're spot on.  The cycle will continue.
     
     

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Jul 02, 2013 - 10:21pm

    Reply to #50

    Greg Snedeker

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: Oct 22 2012

    Posts: 380

    Thank you Nate

    I had a chance to quickly view and download the pdf. It looks interesting. Thank you for passing it along. I agree it is man, but I also think the system that man creates can take on a propelling force of its own, just like a mob/mass of people can act in a unified way, taking on a life of its own.  It reminds me of the end of this TED talk by Don Tapscott where he shows a video of starlings in murmuration. He's way more optimistic than I am in his view of the future, but it's always good to get a periodic dose of optimism. The starling segment is at 14:30 if you don't want to watch the entire video. http://www.ted.com/talks/don_tapscott_four_principles_for_the_open_world_1.html
     
     
     

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Jul 02, 2013 - 10:30pm

    Reply to #50

    Grover

    Status Gold Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 15 2011

    Posts: 691

    Finger-Go-Round

    gillbilly,

    I said:  If a licensed engineer designs a faulty building and it fails, he is held culpable.

    You are correct that there are many eyes looking at failures and lots of folks jump on the finger-go-round (pointing to the next chap.) I remember (fadingly) a dance hall sky bridge failure in KC around 30 years ago. Lots of injuries and some deaths. It came down to a series of bolts that were designed to be in double shear, but were installed with single shear. Blame was shifted from the designer to the construction quality control. Had the bolts been designed for single shear, the engineer would have been liable.
    We don't have these same safeguards for other trusted positions in authority. If a banker leverages your life savings on a risky bet that doesn't pay off, you have no recourse. The only way you'll get your money is A) it is an isolated event and the FDIC can cover your losses or B) enough bankers are in trouble that congress decides to bail out the entire system. Why do we "the people" accept the shenanigans?
    I had an account at a local bank that was doing well enough to be bought by one of the big 4 banks. Recently, I went in to notarize a document and "my personal banker" took the opportunity to try to sell me additional services. I asked what would happen to my account balance if the bank went bankrupt. I was told that FDIC would cover all my account (well under the limit.) I asked how large the FDIC reserves were? <crickets> Then I asked how the paltry amount in FDIC could possibly cover the deposits if one of the 4 largest banks in America went bankrupt? <more crickets> So, I asked my personal banker for a personal guarantee. "That's not our policy." was the reply. I said that I have no control over what they do with my deposits, yet the interest rate I receive is less than 1/10th of 1% per annum. Shouldn't the risk be reflected in the interest rate – higher rates entailing greater risk? A rambling response was uttered that basically said – they were following the law and that's the way it is. Take it or leave it.
    By the way, they wanted to charge me $15 to get my signature notarized. They graciously waived the charge when I told them I would pay after closing my account. I didn't close my account, but I now only keep a few months of living expenses in there. The rest is in a credit union savings account.
    I believe that there is something in human DNA that recognizes gold. Keynes' "barbarous relic" comment made the culture forget while good times roll. When the roll hits the rocks, I'm betting that memory will be reawakened rapidly. Besides, at <0.001 interest, the opportunity costs are minimal.
    Grover

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Thu, Jul 04, 2013 - 2:11am

    Reply to #50

    westcoastjan

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jun 04 2012

    Posts: 177

    re "additional services"

    Hey Grover (and it is you, right?!? LOL)Your comment re the bank trying to sell you "additional services" reminded me of other areas where we are now being constantly offered additional services in the form of extended warranties and other such insurance. It seems like we are being whacked with service fees from every angle. At lunchtime today I went to RadioShack to buy a watch battery. It was $6.89. Much to my astonishment, the cashier asked me if, for only $1.99, I would like to buy an extended warranty against the battery "in case it craps out or something". Hmmm… it would seem a new income stream has been found on even the lowest end products. Who woulda thunk? I was completely amazed that such a thing would be put in place for such a miniscule item, but then again, an instant 29% profit from those suckers who buy it is not too shabby, if multiplied in the thousands or millions of customers – which we know is what the banks are doing with all the "fees" and "service charges". And sadly, few hold the banks accountable in the manner you did.
    I think you are right about human DNA and gold. If it is as useless as so many like to claim, why are such tremendous efforts made to control/manipulate it? Why are TPTB so threatened by such a barbarous relic? And why, in spite of the manipulations, has physical demand gone bananas? My guess is that people intrinsically know it is real money, and regardless of manipulations, will return to it time and again as the only secure medium of commerce they can trust.
    Jan
     

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Thu, Jul 04, 2013 - 5:03am

    Reply to #50

    Grover

    Status Gold Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 15 2011

    Posts: 691

    Faking Sincerity

    Hi Jan,Yes. It really, really is me this time. I may change later. 😉
    You are right about the extended warranties being offered. I expect the onslaught with cars and tools. I didn't know that it has gotten down to that level. Sheesh. Have you noticed that all the "associates" have to paint on a fake smile and treat you like a long lost friend? I know they're being watched and critiqued by management, but it is just too over the top. I wonder if it is a Millenial thing. I don't remember that behavior even a decade ago. Makes an ATM or self checkout appear attractive.
    Perhaps management is trying to drive us to automation so they can get rid of the associates who just can't fake sincerity. Now, that's a diabolical plan. 
    TPTB have to disparage gold or their fiat won't look good. I'm wondering how they will justify confiscation if it is just a barbarous relic. Somehow, there has to be some magic up their sleeve. Take a slot machine for instance. Coins clang when they drop into the metal tray. However, when you take one of those coins and raise it above your waist, it magically becomes a token (not a coin) that allows you to play the game again. Have you ever noticed that most people will say they won 2 coins if the payout is 2. They either don't remember dropping a coin in the machine, are horrible at math, or consider the bet coin as a token. I vote the latter.
    So, how will gold be changed from a barbarous relic to a matter of national interest? They have to do that before they confiscate. How many central bankers can dance on the head of a pin?
    Grover

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Thu, Jul 04, 2013 - 6:10am

    Reply to #48

    davefairtex

    Status Diamond Member (Offline)

    Joined: Sep 03 2008

    Posts: 3082

    social security: no pot of money = its not insurance

    darbikrash –

    But kibitzing about how money earmarked for reserves is invested, in my view, does nothing to indicate whether or not this is an insurance policy or a welfare program. All insurance companies invest pooled money, in fact, the dominant revenue stream in the insurance business model is interest income, interest from the policy holder's payments. We may reasonably disagree as to how this money is invested, but this schema is hard wired into the insurance business.

    I hate to argue-by-assertion, but I will anyway.  Ha!
    If there's no pot of money that accumulates a surplus to pay beneficiaries, it's not insurance.  Social Security has no pot of money for the accumulated surplus.  Therefore, it's not an insurance plan, its a welfare program.
    If you are particularly charitable, you might consider the slips of paper in the Social Security Trust Fund to be a pot of money.  RIght up until you try and actually pay beneficiaries with those slips of paper.  Good luck selling those non-redeemable bonds.  They are, after all, non-redeemable.  They are simply markers to show social security taxes that was spent by the government on something else; when it comes time to pay beneficiaries, either the money to pay them must come from taxes paid during that same year, or new treasury bonds will have to be created and sold in order to fund the payments.  How does that differ from a welfare program, which also must fund payment to lucky recipients by selling new treasury bonds or from taxes paid?
    Answer: it doesn't.  They are functionally equivalent.  If those slips of paper didn't exist, nothing about the budgeting of the government would change.  So I must conclude those slips of paper mean nothing.
    If they were corporate bonds, or equities, or the like, then those would be real assets that could be sold to finance retirees.  But it's not, so it isn't.
    In essense, I'm making the claim that to be considered a legitimate asset for a pot of money, it must be someone else's liability.  Why isn't a US government liability a legitimate asset?
    A simple thought experiment will illustrate why.  During my working years, I make $100k per year.  I spend ALL of it.  In addition, each year, I write on a slip of paper Pay to the Order Of Dave Fairtex, $10k  – signed, Dave Fairtex, and I put it in my pocket.  At the end of 30 years of work, I have slips of paper totalling $300k.  When I retire, I take those slips out of my pocket and think, "wow, now I've got $300k to spend.  Now I just need to get this guy Dave Fairtex to cough up that money and I'm golden!"  That's the Social Security Trust Fund.
    Even more bizarrely, the US government wants to have it both ways.  It doesn't want to include the SS Trust Fund liabilities in calculations on how large the debt is, but at the same time it wants to pretend that the trust fund exists, perpetuating the myth that the pot of money exists.  Here's the entry for the CIA World Fact Book on the US on "Public Debt" to illustrate:

    Public debt:

    73.6% of GDP (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 35
    67.8% of GDP (2011 est.)
    note: data cover only what the United States Treasury denotes as "Debt Held by the Public," which includes all debt instruments issued by the Treasury that are owned by non-US Government entities; the data include Treasury debt held by foreign entities; the data exclude debt issued by individual US states, as well as intra-governmental debt; intra-governmental debt consists of Treasury borrowings from surpluses in the trusts for Federal Social Security, Federal Employees, Hospital Insurance (Medicare and Medicaid), Disability and Unemployment, and several other smaller trusts; if data for intra-government debt were added, "Gross Debt" would increase by about one-third of GDP

    So…no pot of money containing the paid-in surplus for beneficiaries means, social security is a welfare program.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Thu, Jul 04, 2013 - 11:32am

    Reply to #48
    Doug

    Doug

    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

    Joined: Oct 01 2008

    Posts: 1353

    pot o' money

    Too much reliance is placed on this concept in your analyses.  Let's be clear, there is no pot of money in the insurance industry, in gov't trust funds or, for the most part, in banks.  As I have read this blog over the years, the generally accepted number for the proportion of USDs that are in the form of cash you can carry in your pocket is about 3%.  The rest are all digital entries in some accounting scheme.  Except for actual cash kept on hand by banks and businesses for day to day needs, or by taxpayers/consumers, they are all digital entries.  Does it really matter whether the digital entries are in fractional insurance reserves kept in fractional reserve bank accounts or in gov't trust funds designated as treasuries that are claims on general funds?  They can all be whisked away with a keystroke.  Arguing whether this or that digital entry is more or less secure than another is semantics.  In the final analysis the question comes down to which is more secure, the "full faith and credit of the United States" or the insurance industry's promise to pay out of a fractional reserve system under certain deliniated circumstances?Then, of course, the whole question arises of how reliable any of that fiat money is.  It's value is out of our hands.  Our entire financial infrastructure is built on shifting sands.
    Oh, btw, SSI (supplemental security income) is a gov't welfare program for poor aged or disabled people and is means tested.  There is no trust fund.  It comes out of general funds.  SS retirement insurance and SS disability insurance have trust funds into which we pay our payroll taxes.  Those digital entries are immediately loaned to the treasury for general expenditures until the payouts exceed the income, at which point we start drawing down the trust funds.  i.e., the Treasury starts redeeming the securities it has issued the trust funds in return for use of their digital entries.
    Here it is early on Independence Day and my head hurts already.
    Doug

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Thu, Jul 04, 2013 - 1:52pm

    Reply to #48

    davefairtex

    Status Diamond Member (Offline)

    Joined: Sep 03 2008

    Posts: 3082

    trust funds

    Doug –

    Let's be clear, there is no pot of money in the insurance industry, in gov't trust funds or, for the most part, in banks.

    Banks have assets that offset their liabilities (i.e. deposits).  If they could liquidate them slowly enough, they could actually return all those bank deposits.   Same with the insurance companies.
    When I say "pot-o-money" I'm really talking about a collection of assets, rather than actual cash deposited at the Fed, or Federal Reserve Notes.  Bank assets consist of loans to their customers.  Insurance industry assets consist of bonds, equities, and real estate.  Sovereign wealth funds consist of the same thing – bonds, equities, and real estate.  I'm guessing they have cash bank deposits too, but they aren't so large.
    However, the critical distinction we're missing with the US Social Security Trust Fund is, its "assets" are simply liabilities of the US government.  That's not right, because it doesn't work.
    To be legitimate store of wealth for a government trust fund, contributions must be stored in assets that are either real property, fractional ownership of companies, or someone else's liability.  These would include:

    corporate bonds
    equities
    real estate
    bank deposits
    sovereign bonds of other nations

    Why do I insist that the liability be someone else's rather than, say, US Treasury bonds?  For the same reason you don't simply write a check to yourself and call yourself wealthy.  Someone else is on the hook to come up with the cash when the asset matures, in the case of bonds.
    Unless you understand this key point, you will imagine that the contents of the Social Security Trust Fund are real, and you will fall for their trick.  If you like the government's trick, for the next step, I suggest that you write yourself a $10,000,000 check and stuff it in a box marked "my retirement savings".
    Ultimately if the assets of your fund are actually just your own liabilities, you end up owning nothing.
     

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Fri, Jul 05, 2013 - 12:07pm

    #51
    treebeard

    treebeard

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Apr 18 2010

    Posts: 551

    Could not resist

    There is no way in heck that SS, the retirement protion, can be construed as "welfare", no matter how twisted your logic is. AFDC, aid to families with dependent children as it was called, real welfare, made payments based on the "need" of the individuals receiving benefits.  Payments were based on the number of children that the single mother had. No payments were made by these individuals in taxes to cover the costs of the program nor were they ever expected to.

    SS is qualitatively different, the payments that you receive are based entirely the payments that you have made over your working life time. If you did not work for monetary compensation in the system, you get no benefits, period.  The perceived "need" of the individual by the government has nothing what so ever to do with the payments you receive. Please explain to me how these two systems are equivalent.

    By the proposed logic of the "pot o money", if I hire a cabinet maker to build me a set of cabinets and pay him 100% up front for the job and he spends all the money on a drinking and gambling binge and builds no cabinets, then when I sued him to provide me with cabinets, then I would be getting "welfare"?  Please.

    I am not defending SS, it was poorly conceived and badly managed to say the least.  Whether it should ever have been created is certainly debatable, probably not. Excess funds payed were not invested to cover the difference in payments received by the government and the payments made.  In my own case, if I retired at the standard standard age of 66.5, I would have paid in about $250,000 and if I lived 20 years past retirement, I would have received about $575,000. Yes, money has been stolen out of the fund and paid to current retirees turning it into a Ponzi like scheme. Yes, if the SS were actually to last until I died, the difference between what I paid versus I would have received would need to be payed to me out of the general fund like welfare because of the way SS has been run.

    SS is a retirement program? Yes.  Has it been run like a ponzi scheme in the past resulting it needing to be run like a welfare program in the future?  Yes.  Perhaps you think I quibble, but why waste the intelectual energy debating terms when the nuances behind the terms can be describe in one paragraph and we can move on to more interesting discusssion?

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Fri, Jul 05, 2013 - 12:52pm

    Reply to #51

    davefairtex

    Status Diamond Member (Offline)

    Joined: Sep 03 2008

    Posts: 3082

    next time - resist!

    Treebeard –

    why waste the intelectual energy debating terms when the nuances behind the terms can be describe in one paragraph and we can move on to more interesting discusssion?

    If your personal opinion is that this discussion is a waste of time, why on earth are you…wasting your time discussing it?   Five paragraphs, no less!  Perhaps next time you feel that sense you should resist…just don't comment!  Save your energy for more interesting things!
    If at some later date you change your mind and actually want to hear my response, I'd be happy to spend energy constructing it.  After all, it is modestly disconcerting to have a discussion with someone who launches into a critique of something you wrote, and ends the critque with "and boy, that was such a waste of time."

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Fri, Jul 05, 2013 - 1:58pm

    Reply to #51
    Nate

    Nate

    Status Silver Member (Online)

    Joined: May 05 2009

    Posts: 316

    run some numbers

    [quote=treebeard]In my own case, if I retired at the standard standard age of 66.5, I would have paid in about $250,000 and if I lived 20 years past retirement, I would have received about $575,000. Yes, money has been stolen out of the fund and paid to current retirees turning it into a Ponzi like scheme. Yes, if the SS were actually to last until I died, the difference between what I paid versus I would have received would need to be payed to me out of the general fund like welfare because of the way SS has been run.
    [/quote]
    hi Treebeard,
    You have assumed a 0% rate of return in the senario you have described.  Assume a 2% compound annual return on your paid in portion and see how quickly 'your' pot of money grows.  And if you want to ruin your weekend, use the 8% ROR pensions have historically used. 
    Nate

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Sat, Jul 06, 2013 - 9:17am

    #52
    treebeard

    treebeard

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Apr 18 2010

    Posts: 551

    Apologies

    That was a little out of line, was a little acid this morning, perhaps its all this heat.  Maybe a lot out of line.  I'm a  little down on the human project as of late.

    I am aware of the profit that could of been had if the money was "properly invested".  What's important is that I have my pile of cash as the planet dies and failed state america descends into police state america.  The brutality and ugliness of it all.  Yet all our time is spent painting a veneer of respectability on it all.

    Corruption is endemic in both the public and private sectors. The largest banks caught red handed money laundering for the most brutal drug cartels and the response, crickets.  Hey, whats their yeild curve, who cares where the money has come from.  Can I make some money here?

    As resources wither and the game of musical chairs comes to an end everybody is scrambling for a seat, few ever question the game to begin with.   You can have my seat.

    We pick through the dead corpse of SS telling ourselves the pleasant lies about its creation even though the darkest motivations in human nature are typically at play in most large scale human projects.  Was SS ever intended to help your average working stiff stave off hunger in retirement, whether you agree with the concept or not, or was it pasted together hastily without a thought to save the status quo after the last great collapse.

    This time around as the economy implodes there is no money to toss at the working poor (aka "the middle class"), this time there will be no misbegotten government program offering a bowl of soup, just expect the jackboot.

     

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Sat, Jul 06, 2013 - 7:21pm

    #53
    jdye51

    jdye51

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 17 2011

    Posts: 151

    Choices

    Treebeard,

    I understand your feelings. Does it really matter in the end what SS was/is? It seems like every sector of society is marbled with corruption these days. Self-interest is put before the common interest. Laws and regulations only work if those in charge of implementing them are honest. When corruption takes hold, and is officially sanctioned as it is now, people are inclined to mimic it in their own lives. "Everybody's doing it, may as well get what I can."  We're all worse off when there are no real consequences for poor behavior. IWhen large "legitimate" organizations (governmental and nongovernnmental) get away with murder and no one goes to jail, trust is broken and faith is lost. The edifice of civilization trembles and crumbles from inner rot.

    It seems to me that there are any number of lessons to be learned. First, we are all connected. Everyone matters and what we do as individuals matters. Second, actions have consequences. Thinking we can get away with a wrong without it affecting anyone/thing is unrealistic. The impact always crops up somewhere (i.e. no money in the SS "pot"). Stripped of dogma, the true essence of all religious teachings agree on the basics including the Golden Rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you". Consider all of these as universal laws. Understanding them and applying them makes for a more highly functioning society. When they are broken, chaos insues. We all suffer.

    The cycles of life proceed, civilizations rise and fall. Until we learn these lessons, and more, nothing fundamentally changes. We all have an ultimate choice: towards life or away from life. Does my life support and enhance vibrant life or does it contribute to decay and rot? No one is perfect but the important thing is to strive for one's life to reflect more good than bad. We are seeing the results in our global society when the bad outweighs the good. It's very real.

    Whenever I feel discouraged and in despair, I keep coming back to the only thing I have power over – myself. Healthy relationships are built on love, respect, integrity, accountability, commitment, and honesty. From that comes trust over time. The more I can exemplify these qualities in my daily life, in my relationships, the more of a positive impact I can have on those around me. It doesn't seem like much some days, but it's what I have to give. Even when I fail, intent still remains important.

    So I choose life even when it seems like the planet is dying and all may be lost. I choose life even when bankers lie and cheat, corporations place profits over people, and governments spy on and disenfranchise their citizens. No matter what the future brings – and no one really knows exactly how it will play out – I can still use the power of choice. That's all any of us really have.

    All of us at PP clearly see what isn't working even if we disagree on the details at times (insurance? welfare?). What we do have is the positive power of the example of our lives wherever we find ourselves. That's golden, that's currency that can never be destroyed. And reserves are infinite.

    Joyce

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Sun, Jul 07, 2013 - 1:42pm

    Reply to #52

    davefairtex

    Status Diamond Member (Offline)

    Joined: Sep 03 2008

    Posts: 3082

    the funny thing is...

    Treebeard –

    That was a little out of line, was a little acid this morning, perhaps its all this heat.  Maybe a lot out of line.  I'm a  little down on the human project as of late.

    The funny thing is, I actually liked your points!  You're right about the pay-ins to SS of course – no participation means no benefits – and your criticisms helped me to refine my perspective.  It was a part I missed.  I actually like these sorts of discussions; understanding how things really work is because of some personality quirk important to me, not a waste of time at all.  But I also understand not everyone feels like that.
    Possibly SS was a virtue made of necessity.  Perhaps in order to avoid the threat of the US going communist, they felt they had to put something in place.  Alas it was poorly designed, neither retirement program with a real pot-o-money, nor social welfare according to need.  I recall reading that FDR wanted to slam something into place that would get money to people quickly.  What we got was a system which pretended to be a retirement program for purposes of eligibility and achieving political buy-in, while being funded like a standard government transfer payment system (i.e. welfare program) with no pot of money.  There.  That's the description I like best.
    I do agree that corruption is endemic – both the big stuff at the banks, corporate capture of the regulatory process to their own advantage, revolving door government/industry, as well as the small stuff gaming the welfare/disability system.  CHS describes it best for me.  Another friend calls the transfer payments "anti-riot insurance" – to keep the people asleep and bought off.
    I used to get very upset about all this stuff, especially the stuff with all the banker/sociopathic behavior.  In fact, its wrong to single out the bankers – sociopathic behavior is pretty much endemic in society right now, especially in the organization of the big cartels.   In order to deal with it emotionally, I had to distance myself from it, to see it from the viewpoint of a historian or a political scientist.  Perhaps that's some sort of Kubler-Ross stages of grief thing, however I somehow don't see myself getting to acceptance.  Denial-Anger-Release-Detachment was more my process, perhaps more about biding my time waiting for the right moment.  "Its Not Yet Time" helps to keep me calm.
    From that viewpoint, I think that human society tends to move in long cycles; one hopes we are at or near Peak Corruption.  Greed and overreach should theoretically bring with it the seeds of its own destruction.  The greedier they are, the more violent the reaction will be when it all blows up.  Its just a matter of time.
    Or so the theory goes.
     

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Sun, Jul 07, 2013 - 5:13pm

    #54
    treebeard

    treebeard

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Apr 18 2010

    Posts: 551

    Gentlemen/women and Scholars

    Thanks for your thoughtful responses.  Dave, you did hit the nail on the head with your summary paragraph, I would agree. Thanks again for your forebearance at my misdirected frustrations.  Your responses remind me of why I love being a part of this great community

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Sun, Jul 07, 2013 - 5:19pm

    #55
    jdye51

    jdye51

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 17 2011

    Posts: 151

    Good one!

    Dave – I like your phrase "Peak Corrupton"! Wouldn't it be great if Hubbert's curve applied to it? Is it me, or does it seem like more things are coming to the surface? Revelations include (in no particular order): pedophiles in the Catholic church; TBTF banks; the Libor scandal; Madoff; banks laundering cartel money; the fall of dictators; Fast & Furious; NSA spying; CIA drug running; corrupt regulators; corrupt politicians and on and on. Sometimes when I get overwhelmed by all the horrible news stories, I like to reframe it as rot rising to the surface where it can be cleansed in the light of day. Until it does, it continues to poison the body causing systemic illness. So maybe we should rejoice whenever some preciously hidden pocket of corruption is revealed. enlightened

    Joyce

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Sun, Jul 07, 2013 - 6:28pm

    Reply to #55

    davefairtex

    Status Diamond Member (Offline)

    Joined: Sep 03 2008

    Posts: 3082

    peak corruption - maybe societal control phase transition?

    Joyce -Hmm, I think I like where you are going a bit better.  I don't think its Peak Corruption with a slow fade-away down the back-side.  My hope is rather its what Martin Armstrong calls a Phase Transition; a hyperbolic rise in revealed societal control fraud with a blow-off top.  It certainly does seem to be going straight up right now.  And along with you, I hope that each revelation brings that much more awareness to everyone, culminating in an eventual loss of faith in the status quo.
    If we add it all up – you made a good down-payment, to it we can add mortgage fraud, robo-signing/fraudclosure fraud, executive-directed HAMP fraud at BofA (and likely others), Monsanto's Roundup-Ready corn, BGH/BST, absurd hospital pricing of basic medical care and the resultant multimillion dollar administrator salaries, bloated retirement benefits for the upper-level bureaucrats due to last-year salary gamesmanship, police enforcement of laws strictly to raise revenues, constitutional suspension of search/seizure in "border areas", education loan burdens of 250k for undergraduates, a hugely obese population whose diets are overtaken by fast food and sugar resulting in an epidemic of diabetes, an eight-year trillion dollar war started on a search for non-existent WMD, "news" programs that consist mainly of cheerleading for the Red/Blue front men, inability to move around the country without showing "papers, please", GPS tracking (and remote-audio/video bugging ability) of every citizen through mobile phones, inability to transfer more than $3k without bankers acting as proxy government interrogators, complete IRS access to credit card and banking records to track our spending, social media where we voluntarily construct a dossier on ourselves and our friends, a multi-generational public and private debt bubble that has successfully ensured decades of debt-slavery for most if not all the remaining sane and capable people, and there's peak everything too of course – and this is all the provable stuff.  Overprescribed psych drugs the possible cause of mass-shootings.  A 9/11 conspiracy.  Tanks owned by the DHS.  An education system specifically designed to train order-following robots for factories while prolonging adolescence rather than people who can think critically.  And you can add in the usual suspects like UFOs, suppressed over-unity energy, lone gunmen, the Amero, FEMA concentration camps, and the rest.  But these days, you don't need a tinfoil hat to sound crazy, you just need to talk about the stuff that's documented.
    When woven together as a tapestry, what's the picture we have?  If you postulated a group of people in positions of influence whose goal was to…I dunno, sap and impurify our precious bodily fluids, you could hardly have executed a more effective program.  I'm not saying such a program exists.  But if it does, I have to say, Mission Largely Accomplished.  It does make me wonder.
    Now where was my optimistic viewpoint again?  Release.  Detachment.  There, that's better.
     

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Mon, Jul 08, 2013 - 4:46pm

    Reply to #51
    phil hecksel

    phil hecksel

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: May 24 2010

    Posts: 139

    treebeard wrote:There is no

    [quote=treebeard]
    There is no way in heck that SS, the retirement protion, can be construed as "welfare", no matter how twisted your logic is.
    I would have paid in about $250,000 and if I lived 20 years past retirement, I would have received about $575,000. 
     Has it been run like a ponzi scheme in the past resulting it needing to be run like a welfare program in the future?  Yes.  [/quote]
    It was designed as a bernie madoff ponzi scheme from the beginning.
    We have been led down this rosy entitlement path called social security.
    Using your own example, you are entitled to receive 2x what you put into the system. Why would you receive 1 penny more than you put into the system?  It was not an investment, it was paying off current retirees… aka ponzi.
    The rules of exponentials are meaningless in the long tails, but become a bitch when they start accelerating.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Mon, Jul 08, 2013 - 7:43pm

    Reply to #51
    Doug

    Doug

    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

    Joined: Oct 01 2008

    Posts: 1353

    Not quite

    [quote]Using your own example, you are entitled to receive 2x what you put into the system. Why would you receive 1 penny more than you put into the system?  It was not an investment, it was paying off current retirees… aka ponzi.[/quote]Those digital entries that make up the SS trust funds earn interest.  They are, in fact, gov't securities.  True, 5 years of zirp and larger than expected outlays have hastened the day when the trust funds become insolvent, but they are, nonetheless, trust funds, not a ponzi scheme any more than any other bond or insurance fund.
    If you pay into a commercial bond fund for 30 years or so I assume you expect to have more in it when you retire than you paid in.  Why should the same not be true of a gov't trust fund that you pay into?  Any retirement fund works the same.  Otherwise you wouldn't buy into it.  You would stuff your money in a mattress and hope for the best.
    Do you think the money you pay into a private retirement plan or insurance policy is just sitting there in a pile of cash somewhere?  Of course not.  It is being invested elsewhere in some fractional reserve system.  If you're lucky there won't be a run on the system before you retire and want to collect on your investment.  However, if a whole lot of people do the same thing at the same time, or if economic times turn bad and people stop paying into the fund, you will be SOL.  That's why this site has been advising for some time that people consider getting out of IRAs and 401Ks.  The high risk behavior of our financial institutions will come back to bite us at some point, whether our money is in a gov't trust fund or a private fund of some kind.
    Doug

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Thu, Jul 11, 2013 - 11:43pm

    #56
    yogiismyhero

    yogiismyhero

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jun 28 2013

    Posts: 174

    treebeard, I have never read you so down Brother,...

    …just take stock my man, look at those that matter to you most and build your world, the one you want to live in and live it. Do not let this stuff take your life from you.

    SS was never suppose to pay off as it does.

    The future has yet to be written so lets not give in.

    treebeard, I need you solid and writing in your style as I like it very much. Peace

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Fri, Jul 12, 2013 - 11:13am

    #57
    treebeard

    treebeard

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Apr 18 2010

    Posts: 551

    Dealing with reality

    I do spend a lot of time (to say the least) thinking about the transition that we are heading through and taking concrete steps to prepare for what has and is continuing come.  In a way I have been living this transition for the past 30 years and in many ways I am prepared as is rationally possible.  Big garden, out of debt, house that can function 100% off the grid if necessary with some loss of convenience, etc., etc.

    So why so down? 

    I think some of it is just pure fatigue, thinking about the "survival" side of things is very draining.  Reminds me of the scene form the LOTR……..

    Pippin Took: It's so quiet.
    Gandalf the White: It's the deep breath before the plunge.
    Pippin Took: I don't want to be in a battle, but waiting on the edge of one I can't escape is even worse. Is there any hope, Gandalf… for Frodo and Sam?
    Gandalf the White: There never was much hope. Just a fool's hope.
     
    Some of it is the isolation of living in a culture that is sleep walking. The amount of time and energy wasted on the petty, insignificant and meaningless side of life.  I get the feeling that most people are not really alive, sort of the walking dead. The feeling evokes a lot of compassion, but a sense of isolation as well.
     
    Then the mind turns to the thoughts of the what if's. What if things get very ugly and we don't make it through, was all the prep time worth it, perhaps instead of spending the money on solar panels we should have been having a good time (mantra of our culture, no?)
     
    I think part of it is the frustration with the endless intelectual analysis of the conditions at hand.  Emotions are typically rejected as a source of humanities problems.  Emotions are unfortunately typically associated with our lower centers and not the heart.  To walk a path with heart, who could ask for more……
     
     
     

     

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Fri, Jul 12, 2013 - 1:55pm

    Reply to #57

    westcoastjan

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jun 04 2012

    Posts: 177

    Treebeard I can relate so well to what you are saying

    Some of it is the isolation of living in a culture that is sleep walking. The amount of time and energy wasted on the petty, insignificant and meaningless side of life.  I get the feeling that most people are not really alive, sort of the walking dead. The feeling evokes a lot of compassion, but a sense of isolation as well.
    Then the mind turns to the thoughts of the what if's. What if things get very ugly and we don't make it through, was all the prep time worth it, perhaps instead of spending the money on solar panels we should have been having a good time (mantra of our culture, no?)

    Regarding people being like the walking dead, I have always been amused by the rise of this zombie thing that I see reported here and there in the media. I don't pretend to know much about it, other than it it seems to be another form of entertainment escapsim. But I think it rather funny that people need to pretend to be zombies when we all ready have so many of the populace walking dead anyway… how ironic. I recently went on a family vacation and as much as I love them all, there was ample evidence of the disconnect between me and the others due to where our heads are at in this game called life. There was plenty of evidence of the petty, insignificant and meaningful things that you allude to. This is the hard part for me, and where the emotional resilience comes in. It seems one has to work even harder at relationships when personal values have taken different roads. It requires a healthy dose of patience, something which I think was doled out when I must have been hiding somewhere…
    Your second thought regarding placing emphasis on having a good time "just in case" is also a valid one that we should be adhering to as much as is possible. We never know if we are even going to get to the future, and I received yet another reminder this past Monday when a good friend passed away suddenly. Sadly, her wonderfully planned future will never happen. And so I say to myself once again to not be all serious and get all wrapped up in this preparation thing, and to remember to enjoy life and live in the moment as much as possible. It is cliche, but we should all be living each day as if it were our last.
    Sometimes I think we must try to set a level of contentment in our lives, one that is a plateau reached where were are happy with our level of preparations, happy with the ability to enjoy life (with less worry because we have made these preparations), and happy that we were born where we were, in spite of all the bad things going on around us.
    I have a cute little sign in my home that says "If you are lucky enough to be at the beach, you are lucky enough". I don't always "see" it. But these days I am trying that much harder to embrace it as a life philosophy, and be more content with what I have.
    Jan
     

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Fri, Jul 12, 2013 - 2:45pm

    Reply to #57

    davefairtex

    Status Diamond Member (Offline)

    Joined: Sep 03 2008

    Posts: 3082

    i can relate

    Treebeard -I can relate to a lot of what you say.  A sleeping culture, prep fatigue, feeling out of step, the almost overwhelming sense of corruption at so many levels, and the nagging fear that the cat 5 hurricane will sweep all away before it no matter how much we prepare.
    The thing that helps me is my belief system; I'm not here to survive.  I mean, my biology is, and thats an important part of who I am here, but I feel that I'm here to learn and understand and master the human experience, especially the bits that make me feel angry, worried or scared.  Master in this sense means having a sense of relative internal peace about, rather than imposing external control over.  So in a sense my life's purpose is my own journey rather than successfully surviving, etc.
    Emotions for me are a more personal thing; I see them as a critical tool for understanding myself.  Perhaps not always successfully in real time.  Yet online, I can't really suggest to someone on a web post how to handle their emotions in a productive way, so how can I go there?   People in our society have no training in this at all.  Mainstream society usually views emotions as the undesirable waste product of unpleasant situations, almost always with an external cause.  If pop culture is a guide, all you need to do is use a firearm, spend money, take a drink or some drugs, or blow it up in an explosion, and the problem causing that emotion goes away.  That programming is strong.
    For my posts, I confess I find puzzles about human nature, the markets, politics and history and how they interact fascinating.  And I apply my intellectual techniques to describe them.  That can be boring for people who don't have the same interest.   I also really enjoy hearing about pretty much any conspiracy story.  At the same time, following stories alone will end up losing the game, so I have to temper my love of stories with a look at what's happening today.  Taken all together, I can hopefully walk an informed middle road.  And maybe even find the Truth that is Out There!
    Well that's me anyway.
     

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Fri, Jul 12, 2013 - 4:28pm

    #58
    RoseHip

    RoseHip

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 05 2013

    Posts: 144

    To cure is to care for

    Again and again I am left wondering what has the illness of our society come to reveal to us? I think that is a lesson to be learned as a community, which I think hints at the answer.
    In a very real sense, we do not cure diseases, they cure us, by restoring our spiritual participation in life.

    Critical thinking and communicating skills are our most potent medicines. Thanks for this thread, it is important work we all need to “attend” to.

    Rose

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Fri, Jul 12, 2013 - 7:18pm

    #59
    yogiismyhero

    yogiismyhero

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jun 28 2013

    Posts: 174

    treebeard, just by opening up as you did you have helped many..

    …take thoughtful reflection and Brother that is a service to mankind, certainly for the responders here in our community. We all see the strains, we don't have to feel them though as we have done what we can in our preparations.

    I am a homebody, I stay put and because of this every square inch of my/our home is to capture the absolute beauty this world possesses. I absolutely love my situation, my family and those I call friends and loved ones. Outside of this world is nothing but chance and I prepare for this very cautiously. If we go down we go down and nothing I can do to stop that so I listen and learn, offer my opinions, share, and apply what I can and are as prepared as I can possibly be. So I have inner peace.

    OK, gonna hit the links and walk what I hope is an 82 so that I can REALLY enjoy the visuals we have created here at home. Be good Brother, all of you.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Fri, Jul 12, 2013 - 10:16pm

    #60
    jdye51

    jdye51

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 17 2011

    Posts: 151

    The Deep Breath Before The Plunge

    I often feel as if I'm waiting for something to happen.

    I'm still not where I want to be with my preps, but sometimes I wonder if it's even possible to be truly prepared when I don't know exactly what it is I'm preparing for. Collapse yes, but to what degree? What will the reality be versus what I imagine it to be? There are so many unknowns. It's unsettling to see the obvious disintegration in the news stories – and there are many of them now (quite a list, Dave!). But as soon as I move away from the computer, they are in contrast to the normality of my daily life. So there is a sense of unreality about it all. Until, that is, the time comes when I will plunge into the battle. But for now the waiting . . . is hard. It's a kind of emotional "teetering", on tiptoes wavering back and forth between collapse awareness and mopping the kitchen floor. And, I look around me at those who may have an idea of the instability in the economy, but who don't yet realize the extent of our predicament (Jan's zombies). That just adds to my discomfort and sense of isolation. Like feeling alone in a crowd.

    So, like you Dave, I try to find an inner peace. Often elusive but I know I need to focus on this more and more. I also try to focus more on appreciating the gift that is Life. The hummingbirds, the flowers, the butterfly bushes are here NOW. I  try to find meaning by examining human nature and what we can learn from our possible demise. How do I apply it to my own life?

    And finally, to feel my grief. Grief isn't talked about much in our society. We're encouraged to get over it as quickly as possible so as to not discomfort those around us. But what do you do when your grief is so global, so all encompassing? I've gotten inured to the news of dead Iraqies or Syrians or the latest victims of natural disasters. I've had to develop a tougher emotional shield or be swept away by the daily horror in the news. Still, I can't deny the grief I feel entirely. So, Treebeard, I say go ahead and mourn. Feel bad for awhile. It's OK. In fact, it's a normal, healthy response to what we are living through and will live through. I'm with you. Thanks for your honesty and authenticity.

    Joyce

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Sat, Jul 13, 2013 - 12:33am

    #61

    Arthur Robey

    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 03 2010

    Posts: 1814

    Hedgehog.

    Speak for yourslf.

    I met an ex-farmer on the bus into Perth. We got to talking about land farming, climate etc. and he said (Unprompted) that some American, ie citizen of the USA, had bought up a big spread around Salmon Gums, installed an underground bunker and an airfield.

    Now that sort of project takes money. It looks as though the Big End of town is also preparing.

    I think he is silly, what will be needed if flexibity. Making like a Hedghog is not going to be good enough.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Sat, Jul 13, 2013 - 2:05am

    #62
    treebeard

    treebeard

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Apr 18 2010

    Posts: 551

    Support

    Thanks for your thoughtful comments.  All that you wrote resonated with me, it's nice that we share so much more than we all know. Joyce, thanks for the point about allowing ourselves to feel bad, sometimes to feel at all.  Especially when you are in your "public persona", there is almost an unspoken taboo about it.

    These things usually come in waves, it has happened so many times now that I am starting to think more and more of our experience as birth pangs.  The intensity ramps up, then a period of calm and reflection. When things ramp up, there usually some event that triggers an emotional comming to terms with what is actually happening to us all.

    We talk about GDP, interest rates, unemployment, government policy in an academic and abstract way.  But its really about real people and real lives. When things turn down, it means some mother some where is looking into her childs eyes and trying to answer the question, "I'm hungry, why can't I have something to eat?".  Real people loose their homes, livelyhood, hope for the future.

    In the Dan Ariely piece about being predictable irrational he talks about our response to the drowning girl.  Most of us he says will jump.  I get the feeling that it is all about being in full contact with reality, unfortunately it takes an extraordinary event like that in most cases to get us there.  There is so much pain in the world now that it is hard to stay in contact.  Mostly it is too much for us to take, so we take it in waves.

    These periods make me think of the saying, 'to know and not to do, is not to know".  Can I truely internalize what I intellectually know.  Do I have the strength to act on what is right. Can I get out of my comfort zone and take advantage of these periods and use them constructively? 

     

     

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Sat, Jul 13, 2013 - 1:15pm

    #63

    Greg Snedeker

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: Oct 22 2012

    Posts: 380

    Not to beat a dead horse...

    but what was never discussed about SSI was the income cap on the tax itself. Those above $113K only have to pay the 6% tax on their income that falls below that amount. What if the tax had been applied to their entire income for their lifetime? It is called "social" security, implying all, not individual security. The "pot o money" would be much larger in the case I describe.

    The way I see it is that the problems that exist with SS are not mathematical, they are political. Those that make the argument that it should only be looked upon at the individual level (i.e. a person's payin in relation to the payout) seem to be ignoring many unquantifiable or hidden benefits our society receives from this insurance. Again, the benefits are social benefits, not individual. There is no perfect solution, or even fair solution, but to cut SS would force my parents and a lot of other elderly who have worked hard but haven't made a lot of money into poverty and hardship, therefore, punishing those that don't deserve it and rewarding those who are mostly responsible for and benefitted from this corrupted system.

    Do I want a "reset?"  Look at Greece… they are having one now. It will punish those who don't deserve it, and not those that do. Be careful what you wish for.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Sat, Jul 13, 2013 - 2:52pm

    Reply to #63
    Doug

    Doug

    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

    Joined: Oct 01 2008

    Posts: 1353

    I'll take a hack at the nag myself

    Another aspect that hasn't been discussed about the SS retirement and disability trust funds is employer matching.  Employees pay in 7% that is matched by employers.  If you're self-employed, you pay the whole nut.  Therefore, to use an example cited somewhere in the thread, you pay in $250K, your employer matches it and you get $575K out (if you live long enough).  So that's a 15% return total on your and your employer's contributions.  Would you invest in any IRA for 30 years that paid that little?Bottom line, the gov't gets a great deal from the trust funds that buy the gov't securities, employers pay into their employees' retirement and retirees have a measure of security they may not otherwise have.  It's not a perfect system, but it is a social contract that has helped minimize poverty for a lot of people over the years.
    Doug

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Sat, Jul 13, 2013 - 3:58pm

    #64

    rhare

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: Mar 29 2009

    Posts: 397

    Supporting social security is supporting war

    [quote=gillbilly]

    Those above $113K only have to pay the 6% tax on their income that falls below that amount.

    [/quote]

    Only?  So 6% theft is okay? Why should I or anyone be forced to pay for your parents retirement?  What gives you the right to take someone elses labor?  How is that any different than the Fed or the banks stealing from others?  Is the only difference who is benefiting from the theft?

    I look at much of the discussions and the angst seems to be over who should be forced to pay, behave in a certain way, etc.  Social Security and all the other programs are just theft cloaked in veil of benevolence.   They are done for political gain to buy votes.

    Why if these programs are so good are you forced to pay into them?   What we have is money that has been stolen in exchange for a promise that is now going to be broken?  Why do people defend this action?  We would certainly be a lot better off if individuals had been given the choice as to what to do with their money.  Yes, some would have party hard, but many would have saved it and been much more careful stewards of the money than the government?  After all, who has a larger vested interest?

    Want to build a better world, quit forcing people to bend to your will. Quit stealing from them via proxy.  Talk to them, convince them, encourage them, but forcing always ultimately fails since it breeds resentment, and eventually leads to conflict.  If you choose the other path you are no different than those that seek to enslave you.

    Another way to look at it.  If the government said we are going to take 6% from you so that we can bailout the banks, wage a few wars, give favors to large corporations like GM, GE, etc.  Would you support it?  What exactly do you think that 6% is being spent on?  It's has not been saved or invested for the future.  So if you don't like the war, bailout of the banks, the crony capitalism – then stop supporting and defending the machinery that makes it all possible . 

     

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Sat, Jul 13, 2013 - 4:03pm

    #65

    rhare

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: Mar 29 2009

    Posts: 397

    How do you know?

    [quote=Doug]

    It's not a perfect system, but it is a social contract that has helped minimize poverty for a lot of people over the years.

    [/quote]

    How do you know that?  How do you know that money wouldn't have had more benefit had it been spent by the individuals?  After all you pointed out the really crappy return.   Also, that theft is from everyone, including those that make the least who would have benefitted the most from reduced taxes.  Then we have the whole problem  that we aren't going to even get that 15% return, because it wasn't invested, it's just been spent like all ponzi schemes and we are now at the point where it can't continue.  Now we get to see the destruction and the poverty you think has been minimized.

     

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Sat, Jul 13, 2013 - 4:14pm

    #66

    rhare

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: Mar 29 2009

    Posts: 397

    Loss of care

    Treebeard, many of us feel the same.  It's distressing to look at the larger picture and see where we are headed and know that we probably can't do anything to stop whats coming.  All we can do is help those around us understand and wake up.

    [quote=treebeard]

    In the Dan Ariely piece about being predictable irrational he talks about our response to the drowning girl.  Most of us he says will jump.  I get the feeling that it is all about being in full contact with reality, unfortunately it takes an extraordinary event like that in most cases to get us there.  There is so much pain in the world now that it is hard to stay in contact.  Mostly it is too much for us to take, so we take it in waves.

    [/quote]

    I think this is a great example of why the programs like Social Security are damaging socially.  They allow us to pass off responsibility.  Why do I have to worry about my hungry neighbor or parent, the government will take care of it.  It allows us to disconnect from our fellow humans, we have this "safety net" that means we don't have to take responsiblity for our own actions or for caring for those around us.

     

     

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Sat, Jul 13, 2013 - 4:49pm

    #67

    Mary Aceves

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: Aug 23 2010

    Posts: 132

    waste

    I am absolutely sure that if people had not invested in the social security program and had gotten the money instead most people would have spent it.  A few would have their own retirement accounts, but most would have raided them and would have ended up with nothing.  Being forced to set that money aside gave them a  promise that they would not be destitute in old age.  Just sayin'…not eating dog food at least.

     

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Sat, Jul 13, 2013 - 4:56pm

    #68

    Mary Aceves

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: Aug 23 2010

    Posts: 132

    grief in advance

    I feel a great sadness for the tragedy that our culture is falling headfirst into.  I have had time to mull it over, ponder alternatives, make some preparations, warn my loved ones, and harden myself in some ways to the reality that will come soon enough.

    It is my opinion that this prepaid grief will work for us in the long run.  When it comes, we will be able to think clearly and act accordingly.  Most people will be in shock, denial, confusion, and grief.  Some will attempt suicide or try to escape obligations.  Not knowing what to do, they will thrash around in the dark and maybe make some stupid mistakes.  Hopefully we will land on our feet and help them through it.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Sat, Jul 13, 2013 - 4:57pm

    Reply to #64

    Greg Snedeker

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: Oct 22 2012

    Posts: 380

    Forced?

    Rhare,

    Supporting social security is supporting war

    That seems extreme and really depends on where you sit in relation to the subject.  You seem to see it as a forced proxy, without any room for debate over your definition. Taking that line of thinking, I would guess everything is a forced proxy in a democracy. Any law or social contract that's voted on and ratified by a majority I guess forces the minority to go along…and therefore is evil? What is your solution? No laws? No safety nets? Let's hope we can encourage everyone to chip in?  Actually, your idea of encouragement is just another word for campaigning. So in essence that encouragement you speak of is built into the current system.

    Why should I or anyone be forced to pay for your parents retirement?  What gives you the right to take someone elses labor? 

    That's the same argument I hear from those who don't want to pay for public anything…"why should I pay for your kids education, I don't have any kids, why should I pay for yours," etc. Rhare, you do benefit from supporting my parents in their retirement, you just choose not to see it. It's not about being fair on an individual basis, it's about creating a social safety net so that we all benefit. What kind of family were you born into? Things like class, ethnicity, family cohesion, all create unfairness from the minute a person is born. So in a sense we're all forced into time and place from  the time we are born. For some it's quite nice, for others, not so.

    Want to build a better world, quit forcing people to bend to your will. Quit stealing from them via proxy.  Talk to them, convince them, encourage them, but forcing always ultimately fails since it breeds resentment, and eventually leads to conflict.  If you choose the other path you are no different than those that seek to enslave you.

    What path do you mean? Are you living outside of the laws we are currently under? The laws that were campaigned for and passed by those we elected? Do you not pay your taxes?
    Anyway, you get my point. I get what you're saying but it's just not that simple. I don't like what I see as much as you, but it's the corruption in all areas that the special interest have set up to benefit themselves that I'm tired of, not a social contract that was set up originally to benefit us all.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Sat, Jul 13, 2013 - 5:30pm

    Reply to #64
    Nate

    Nate

    Status Silver Member (Online)

    Joined: May 05 2009

    Posts: 316

    Forced

    [quote=gillbilly]Rhare,

    Supporting social security is supporting war

    That seems extreme and really depends on where you sit in relation to the subject. 
    [/quote]
    In the 1960's LBJ placed social security in the general fund to support the wars on poverty and Vietnamese  (butter and guns).  Seems to me we lost both wars. And a boatload of money. 
    Time to starve the beast.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Sat, Jul 13, 2013 - 6:55pm

    Reply to #64

    Greg Snedeker

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: Oct 22 2012

    Posts: 380

    Starve?

    Nate wrote: In the 1960's LBJ placed social security in the general fund to support the wars on poverty and Vietnamese  (butter and guns).  Seems to me we lost both wars. And a boatload of money. 

    Time to starve the beast.

    Using your own method of generalization… austerity is being used in Europe right now…how's that working out? Again, it depends on where you sit in relation to it. Ask a poor Grecian how it's working out and you'll get a very different answer than a rich German. Who's point of view has more validity? Again, the size of the govt is secondary to the corruption. Government is not going away, period, so it might be more appropriate to discuss how to clean it up, not eliminate it.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Sat, Jul 13, 2013 - 8:44pm

    Reply to #64
    Nate

    Nate

    Status Silver Member (Online)

    Joined: May 05 2009

    Posts: 316

    gillbilly wrote:Using your

    [quote=gillbilly]
    Using your own method of generalization… austerity is being used in Europe right now…how's that working out?
    [/quote]
    Austerity now (Europe) or later (America). Who do you think should pay for the PIIGS proliferate spending?  Those that made wise choices, or those that lived beyond their means?

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Sat, Jul 13, 2013 - 10:16pm

    Reply to #64

    Greg Snedeker

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: Oct 22 2012

    Posts: 380

    Wise choices?

    Wise choices? Do you really think it is that simple? I wish I could see the world that black and white. Who do you think is going to pay for all of the US debt? Who do you think is going to be punished for it? Do you think those in the financial sector/FED/elite are going to pay for the mess they've created? Now apply those questions to what's happening in Europe…do your really think those who are being made to pay (losing their jobs) were/are the unwise, or are those that deserve it?

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Sat, Jul 13, 2013 - 10:51pm

    #69
    phil hecksel

    phil hecksel

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: May 24 2010

    Posts: 139

    Howe is suggesting the 2008

    Howe is suggesting the 2008 Obama election was the trigger.

    I'm beginning to wonder if the Zimmerman / Martin incident wouldn't be the trigger.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Sat, Jul 13, 2013 - 10:52pm

    Reply to #64
    Nate

    Nate

    Status Silver Member (Online)

    Joined: May 05 2009

    Posts: 316

    answers

    [quote=gillbilly]Wise choices? Do you really think it is that simple? I wish I could see the world that black and white. Who do you think is going to pay for all of the US debt? Who do you think is going to be punished for it?
    [/quote]
    Seniors and savers played by the rules and made 'wise' choices.  Seniors and savers will probably pay for much of the debt through means-based testing and higher inflation.  Those with much (elites) and very little (poor) will lose the least.  The middle class will take the worst haircut.  My opinion only.
    [quote=gillbilly]
    Do you think those in the financial sector/FED/elite are going to pay for the mess they've created?
    [/quote]
    As long as the dam holds, the FED/elite/government will not pay for the mess they have created.  When it breaks, past historical cycles tell us there is a chance heads will roll (literally).  Keep praying.
    [quote=gillbilly]
    Now apply those questions to what's happening in Europe…do your really think those who are being made to pay (losing their jobs) were/are the unwise, or are those that deserve it?
    [/quote]
    I do.  The nations collectively voted for the Euro and collectively voted for their leaders.  They enjoyed the 'good' part of the Euro experiment and now don't want to pay for the consequences. 
     
     
     
     
     

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Sun, Jul 14, 2013 - 12:28am

    Reply to #64

    Greg Snedeker

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: Oct 22 2012

    Posts: 380

    Seniors and Savers?

    Nate wrote: Seniors and savers played by the rules and made 'wise' choices.  Seniors and savers will probably pay for much of the debt through means-based testing and higher inflation.  Those with much (elites) and very little (poor) will lose the least.  The middle class will take the worst haircut.  My opinion only.

    Seniors and savers?  Who are these seniors? The ones that enjoyed the last 50 years of the ramping up of peak everything? Who are these savers? Those who do not have debt? Was having debt considered irresponsible or unwise when things were ramping up? Or is it just now we have a problem with debt, when the wealth is concentrated in so few hands? Did our current seniors not take on any debt when they were growing up? And didn't many of them enjoy long careers that lasted much longer than the current average of seven years… many of which still have pensions from those jobs? Does the hitting of limits not play into the financial woes of Europe? What about the children in the EU who didn't vote for the Euro who are being punished by their parents losing their jobs? What if those who voted for the Euro were not adequately informed by those who campaigned for it?

    Nate wrote: I do.  The nations collectively voted for the Euro and collectively voted for their leaders.  They enjoyed the 'good' part of the Euro experiment and now don't want to pay for the consequences.

    Is that they don't want to pay for the consequences, or they don't want to pay for the corruption that caused the consequences?
    I can ask these questions all day long. I am somewhat envious that you can see it so black and white (I'm not being sarcastic), but unfortunately in the end they are your answers, not mine. I think if you spent time in Greece you might feel differently after experiencing the suffering. I wish I had answers to these questions but I'm finding I hit contradictions with any answers I try to formulate, I guess that's why CM calls them predicaments. The world is just too complex. What I try to consider now is how we can get back to a balance within a multiplicity of perspectives and predicaments.
    Peace!

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Sun, Jul 14, 2013 - 3:23am

    Reply to #64
    John Lemieux

    John Lemieux

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: Mar 02 2012

    Posts: 208

    Gillbilly, How can you be envious?

    I don't understand how you could be truly envious of persons that have a black and white type mindset. I guess what you're saying is that it would just be so much easier to go through life with such a ridged and simplistic worldview. IMO you are honestly trying to make some sense of it all.  Not just with your head, but with heart – plus soul. Yes, we are facing a predicament. We are no longer in the 1950's. It's time to wake up. 
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Bjl93oUJzs
     
     

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Sun, Jul 14, 2013 - 2:13pm

    Reply to #64

    Greg Snedeker

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: Oct 22 2012

    Posts: 380

    Thanks For The Music

    John, Thank you for the music (well timed!) and kind words. Maybe envious was not the right word. I admire the conviction that Rhare and Nate have, and although I may disagree with them on this, I've enjoyed many of their posts in the past. Their points have validity, but I just don't see them as complete…but neither are mine.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Sun, Jul 14, 2013 - 2:38pm

    Reply to #64
    Nate

    Nate

    Status Silver Member (Online)

    Joined: May 05 2009

    Posts: 316

    second that

    [quote=gillbilly]John, Thank you for the music (well timed!) and kind words. Maybe envious was not the right word. I admire the conviction that Rhare and Nate have, and although I may disagree with them on this, I've enjoyed many of their posts in the past. Their points have validity, but I just don't see them as complete…but neither are mine.
    [/quote]
    Gillbilly,
    I enjoy your posts, too.  None of us can learn and move ahead without honest, civil discussion.  I will keep an open mind and – who knows – at some point in the future our views might meet.
    Enjoy the rest of your weekend.
    Nate

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Sun, Jul 14, 2013 - 3:45pm

    Reply to #64

    westcoastjan

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jun 04 2012

    Posts: 177

    learning and moving ahead

    is exactly what this thread, amongst others, is helping us to do. Of course there will be differing viewpoints, but that is what is needed to help others analzye and perhaps re-think their own viewpoints. The more input from a variety of people the better we can filter and decide what makes sense and what direction it is that we need to move in.I have been enjoying this discussion around SS. It is one of the proverbial elephants, like healthcare, that we somehow, have to get a handle on. As with many government programs I believe the intent at the time of implementation was right, but there were no controls/oversight put in place from the get go to ensure the program did what it was meant to do. The first huge mistake was allowing premiums collected to be funneled into general revenue, guarantaneeing that the money would be spent. Governments love to flaunt these illusory piggy banks on shelves to score political gain, while most people have blind faith that these piggy banks are real and actually have money in them. It is a facade born out of the philiosophy of buy now, pay later, which in turn trickled down to the consumer, ultimately morphing into this debt monster.
    But how do we move ahead? Is this truly an out of control monster that cannot be reigned in? Can it be starved to weaken it? Or does it have to be killed outright? Beyond our own day to day preparations and efforts at community building, what can we actually do to help society take that first step in the journey to fixing what appears to be a completely broken down way of life? Does serious action only happen, as has often been the case historically speaking, after all other options have been shut down? Are we going to repeat history? I want to be part of the generation that decided to end the cycle of history repeating itself.
    Much has been said about the considerable power that the baby boomers have. Imagine if that power could be harnessed to effect the necessary changes we need to see happen? It would be formidable! If I know one thing about the people in my generation, once they decide on a course of action, they have a tremendous amount of sway in how things go. Like it or not, they are key to helping us get out of this problem. I see our challenge as being one of harnessing that power to effect good, using it to steer us back on the correct path again. It is possible. What can we do to make it happen?
    Jan
    Jan
     

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Sun, Jul 14, 2013 - 4:19pm

    #70

    Grover

    Status Gold Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 15 2011

    Posts: 691

    Two Kinds of People

    gillbilly,

    There are 2 kinds of people – those who think there are 2 kinds of people and those who don't.

    There are 3 kinds of people – those who can count and those who can't.

    Lame attempts at humor aside, I've found it easier to look at the available options before analyzing all the nuances. If you have to choose "yes" or "no", "up" or "down", "black" or "white" … "maybe" isn't an option. Analyzing beyond secondary considerations is a waste of your time. Analyzing secondary considerations may be fruitless.

    I don't want to rehash all the arguments for and against social security. Frankly, it will eventually fail. Whether it fails this year or some time in the future is immaterial to the discussion. What is material is how it affects you and those you love. Should you concern yourself with the fates of others beyond your circle? Only insofar as it affects those in your circle. Let others be responsible for their own outcomes. If they put too much stock in politicians' lies, so be it.

    That may sound heartless, but can you make their choices for them? Do you really want to? I certainly don't! Concern yourself with what is really important to you. Let the butterfly flap its wings as it will.

    Grover

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Sun, Jul 14, 2013 - 5:11pm

    #71

    Wendy S. Delmater

    Status Diamond Member (Offline)

    Joined: Dec 13 2009

    Posts: 1418

    What you can change

    Grover said –

    Should you concern yourself with the fates of others beyond your circle? Only insofar as it affects those in your circle. Let others be responsible for their own outcomes. If they put too much stock in politicians' lies, so be it. That may sound heartless, but can you make their choices for them? Do you really want to? I certainly don't!

    And there, he strikes at the heart of the matter. It is simply unrealistic to think you can change another person, and you certainly are not responsible for their choices. What I can change stops at the end of my nose. The idea of changing things politically has serious limits, and those limits are likely to get greater and greater as resources become less and less. Do what you can with what you have, where you are.

    I try to take care of my own responsibilities, my own areas that I can do something about. I am responsible to stay out of debt, for my health, for the cleanliness of my personal space, for feeding myself, for taking care of or jelping those that are elderly or young in my immediate family (and, to some extent, in my community.) A local focus helps me deal with the deperssing and frightening bigger picture. There is only so much one person can do, and doing those things as well as you can is all any of us is responsible for.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Sun, Jul 14, 2013 - 5:16pm

    Reply to #68

    Wendy S. Delmater

    Status Diamond Member (Offline)

    Joined: Dec 13 2009

    Posts: 1418

    maceves - grief in advance?

    The "Prepaid Grief" you refer to (great phrase!) Is sort of how I handled my mother's death. She'd been seriously ill since I was three years old, and was dying of kidney failure and on dyalysis for the last two years of her life. When she passed away, I felt I had already done much of my grieving. And while her death was a blow…this softened it. More to the point, my conscience was clear that I had done all I could for her.I suppose the moral of that story is to do the best you can, honestly the best, so that when mouring comes you do not also have to deal with regrets. The appliction of such a process to each of our lives as we have taken the red pill should be obvious.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Sun, Jul 14, 2013 - 8:53pm

    #72
    jdye51

    jdye51

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 17 2011

    Posts: 151

    Anticipatory Grief

    Modern technology means we have access to more information about events in the world but most of us don't have the power to affect those events. The result can be feelings of powerlessness, frustration and alienation. The ante is upped because the 3 E's impact all of us but are so large as to be overwhelming in their scope. In a way, the disintegration of our society is like a slow death with the anticipatory grief that goes along with that, much like Wendy's situation with her mother. We see it happening but can't do much about it except grieve for the losses already apparent. Normally, when we mourn a loss, our grief comes in waves that dissipiate as the actual loss fades over time. But the losses we are seeing/experiencing are on a larger scale than any individual loss. And they are growing, not fading. Things we counted on, like regular weather patterns, solvent financial institutions, a functioning government and readily available resources are clearly growing ever more unstable and unreliable.

    How do we mourn the loss of so much that is familiar? How do we protect ourselves emotionally from the repeated blows of change in all that we've ever known? Since we can't predict exactly how things will change, it helps to focus on the present moment. Not in a way that denies what is happening, but that takes it from the macro level to the micro level where we can hold it in our hands and do something with it. We can flow with the river by preparing as best we can for the easily anticipated changes, something that gives comfort to many here at PP. But the main thing we can do is to allow ourselves to feel our feelings as they arise naturally. Feelings that are allowed free passage have a way of moving on through rather than becoming stuck. We lighten our load when we allows ourselves to feel authentically. When we can share with others, the load is lightened even more. It helps to identify healthy coping mechanisms whatever they are for you – humor, music, gardening, dancing, writing, meditiating and so on. And it helps to take a break now and then do something completely fun and playful. It's hard to live in the land of grief all the time; we get too worn out. So the key is balance.

    If you find yourself becoming overwhelmed, seek out help. I've taken advantage of Carolyn Baker's offer of coaching in a couple of phone conversations at a time when I felt alone with my grief. It helped just to share it with someone who is collapse aware and has the skills to help process  feeelings. Carolyn says that as she travels around and speaks to the collapse community, the focus is shifting more from practical concerns to what to do about all the feelings that arise around collapse. Being in touch with what we are feeling is the first step. Bringing awareness to our body and tuning into it helps to identify where we are experiencing it and put a name to it.

    As collapse continues to grow, more and more of us will be challenged to not only help ourselves but to be able to identify the signs of distress in others. We've seen how the suicide rates are going up in the countries most affected so far. Carolyn has a chapter titled "Befriending Grief and Depression in The Coming Chaos" in her book, Navigating The Coming Chaos: A Handbook For Inner Transition that might be helpful. The thing is to be aware that we are not alone and that help is there for all of us wherever we find ourselves in this unique journey.

    I'm thankful for PP and everyone here who shares of themselves. For as long as we have the energy for the internet, I will take advantage of the wisdom to be found here with great gratitude.

    Joyce

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Mon, Jul 15, 2013 - 3:32am

    #73
    yogiismyhero

    yogiismyhero

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jun 28 2013

    Posts: 174

    I agree, you can only do for yourself and be a support...

    …to others. Just walk the walk, talk the talk and maybe by example someone just does it because it makes sense.

    Jan, YES, I am afraid that the path we are on has no other outcome than a head on collision with certain change and an immediate, painful, Deflationary smackdown. After that the cries for help will be so great that the supposed safety nets become such a drag that they too just blow apart and everyone gets a serious wake up call. The cries will be for the politicians to do something, when the cries should be lets get to preparing to feed, water and house ourselves.

    I see two choices: Do something or get the hell out of the way.

    Personally and I am a very compassionate man, I believe those on the rolls of SS and welfare should be made to work doing something, anything, to earn their keep if before retirement age. I also believe the system to be broken and to negotiate now and get something is way better than having nothing, and that is the path we are currently on.

    People made do by sheer determination the Depression years of the 1920's and 30's and WWII. I believe we are descendents of that bloodline. Blow this thing up and lets see what rises from the ashes. Please. Why wait for the inevitable to happen. Let it blow up and we still have the fossil fuels to rebuild. It's our only chance as I see it because the depletion rate on oil can't afford this kicking the can down the road much longer. 

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Mon, Jul 15, 2013 - 10:45am

    Reply to #64
    yogiismyhero

    yogiismyhero

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jun 28 2013

    Posts: 174

    Yeah Rhare...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJ6xBaZ92uA

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Mon, Jul 15, 2013 - 1:05pm

    #74
    jgritter

    jgritter

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Dec 13 2011

    Posts: 157

    Boomers

    With respect, from the perspective of an "X"er, the great power of the "Boomers" seems to be for ill.  I feel as though we are following a herd of bison across the praire, a herd that has eaten what it wants and trampled the rest. While the boomers wander off into the sunset playing with thier shiny plastic toys they leave a world in which many of us may struggle to feed our children with seeds gleaned from the dust.  The rains will come and the praire will bloom again but it's very difficult to predict who among us might survive to see it.

     Sorry, I'm being pessamistic again.  I spent the weekend in triage in a busy emegency room and it always leaves me feeling a little deflated. 

    We would all like to believe that we would jump in the river to save the drowning child.  The truth is that there are thousands of children in the river right now that we don't have the resourses to salvage.  That's not a condemnation, just the recognition that resourses are finite and allocation is uneven. 

    Again, I apologise.  I work in a place were the veil of civilization can get stretched pretty thin and what's on the other side is often difficult to look at.

    John

     

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Mon, Jul 15, 2013 - 2:46pm

    #75
    Doug

    Doug

    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

    Joined: Oct 01 2008

    Posts: 1353

    yogi

    [quote]Personally and I am a very compassionate man, I believe those on the rolls of SS and welfare should be made to work doing something, anything, to earn their keep if before retirement age.[/quote]

    I think you missed an important point.  Those eligible for SS insurance programs and SSI are determined to be disabled if they have not reached retirement age.  They are, by definition, unable to work at any "substantial gainful activity", defined as:

    [quote]Amounts for 2013
    The monthly SGA amount for statutorily blind individuals for 2013 is $1740. For non-blind individuals, the monthly SGA amount for 2013 is $1040. [/quote]

    http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/cola/sga.html

    IOW, recipients are deemed unable to earn those levels of income by reason of mental or physical disability.  How can you determine what those people can do to "earn their keep" and then find someplace for them to do that work?  Logistically it would be a nightmare and, by the time all those cases wind their way through the courts, vastly more costly to the taxpayer.  Chances are, a requirement to work would be struck down by the courts anyway.

    Doug

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Mon, Jul 15, 2013 - 3:31pm

    Reply to #74
    treemagnet

    treemagnet

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 14 2011

    Posts: 279

    Good analogy.

    I like the herd reference.  You're not being pessimistic – you have a unique vantage point, and you're spot on.  Xer's comments typically get labeled as complaints or such, with the usual 'suck it up' tag to boot, when most often, the Xer understands their collective fate, and are working feverishly as individuals to navigate and be as prosperus as possible, with whats available.  Personally, I think Xer's have a leg up on preparedness due to a lifetime of experiences that have solid 'its up to me' underpinnings.  You titled your post with 'Boomers' so you've got eyeballs on this for sure.  I think what the boomers and silents get wrong in the discussion is that the anger – at least for me, comes from being told to discuss, explain, and promote some peaceful this or that crap at we all work to achieve a mutually beneficial solution…….translation….Keep working and putting money into entitlement programs for me, even at the expense of you and your family.  Its never gets said plainly, always wrapped up in the boomer favorite, political correctness.  But it is what it is, and it'll work until it doesn't – like most social inventions/constructs I guess.   

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Mon, Jul 15, 2013 - 3:55pm

    #76
    yogiismyhero

    yogiismyhero

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jun 28 2013

    Posts: 174

    Doug, I appreciate you finishing an abbreviated thought...

    …of mine. I didn't know, that you knew, what I knew.

    I know what you have said, I should have said it, and that way we all would have known what I know. So thank you for explaining all that I know or rather should have expressed that I know. I was incomplete and for that I am so sorry.

    My point I thought, was the system pays people to sit at home when their services could be used (for example) fixing abandoned fields up and making them useful for little league, tennis, basketball, horseshoes, and kids just playing in a small park where they could swing, slide, and play in old wooden fire trucks. Maybe monkey bars too. These people on the doll could be mentors or a form of security guard making sure the kids are safe.

    I understand that Unions would probably have an issue with this and I thought I should express that too for clarity sake. The City would probably have to insure the place, and police patrol the place, and parents suing the place, and druggies hanging around the place but I am dreaming of a safe place is all, and all the other stuff is why we are in the mess we are now in (that was exhausting and I now find that I am getting more depressed writing this).

    These play areas exist in every city USA that were abandoned long ago because of budgetary cuts. I say, get these nice people off the couch, away from the soaps and WEE and outside making a difference for the youth, society and their community, and during this process they will earn something very important: Self respect, a sense of community, and a pride within themselves that is only earned when one gives as much as one takes.

    With regards to disability, of course, those who can't work, can't. I will say however, and I have no questions about this, many, many disabled are scamming the system, and that my friend is the truth. I know some now who are in fact doing just that. Welfare too.

    I appreciate your engagement as I always try to express myself with clarity. Have a good day.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Mon, Jul 15, 2013 - 4:07pm

    Reply to #75
    treemagnet

    treemagnet

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 14 2011

    Posts: 279

    Old school

    Doug – I hear what you're saying but don't agree entirely.  What did these people do before the blessed and almighty govt rode into town with checks and programs and social workers and anything else the voters wanted to hear……churches mostly.  As far not being able to work, I say, well – at what?  Certainly theres something for someone to do, simple chores, menial tasks, low-end crappy jobs – as long as its done with pride and dignity, theres honor in that….a place for pride and self esteem.  Theres abuse regardless, I think the return of a multi-generational, 'Waltons style' lifestyle is coming our way.  Same reason up-scale retirement homes are but a blip in the way old people have and will be cared for – those places can bankrupt decent estates.  I just spent an afternoon in one, wow.  
    If I'm putting words in your mouth – correct me, 'cause I know I'm hijacking your thought.  But, in that vein, paying people – any people – to not work and having no demands placed on them is right up there with another idiodic, backward, inbred, stupid government program otherwise known as CRP….paying farmers NOT to plant.  Hilariously, then its called welfare or corporate welfare or such! 
    Churches used to be the social support network, the way it should be again.  No more social workers in new vehicles in beautiful facilities…..our local gubmint social welfare or whatever they call it now was just totally rebuilt.  All of it.  New everything, not the least of which is a frickin skywalk – the ten feet or so between buildings was simply unacceptable I guess.  But, the churches knew who needed help, and who really needed help.  Faith based giving, I think, is at least where the bulk of the care should come – since it comes from the community, and not D.C.  Same reason people want to eat local I guess – sort of. 
    I know a guy who 'taught' severely handicapped kids – very sad stuff.  But he didn't teach anything – it was a daycare basically.  That, and the rest or it, are just really, really, nice and very, very expensive alternatives to what was formerly referred to as 'warehousing'.  Its a feel good for the giver, a guilt reliever for the family, and a burden (financially) on the rest.  My wife doesn't think her car is broken until it. just. won't. go. .  .  ……even though the problem has been there, offering hints and clues for some time.   But, same deal, we'll do it until we can't – collectively. 
     

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Mon, Jul 15, 2013 - 6:30pm

    Reply to #71

    darbikrash

    Status Gold Member (Offline)

    Joined: Aug 25 2009

    Posts: 297

    Thomas Paine Redux

    Firstly, thanks to Gillbilly and Doug for their voices of reason on what would seem to be (but isn't) a difficult subject.Just not sure how it would be possible for me to disagree with the sentiment on this thread as empahatically as it deserves. 
    Fortunately, this is a subject that has been cussed and discussed by these with far more wisdom than I, and in fact, these issues were part of the formative years of our country, examined by the great thinkers, and conclusions drawn that were woven into our very democracy. But you’d never know it by reading this thread.
     

     “I care not how affluent some may be, provided that none be miserable in consequence of it.”
    John Rawls

     
    Perhaps it is instructive to revisit some of these arguments, and see what they looked like when they were hotly debated by the thinkers in the era of the American Revolution- and in so doing created the very basis of our Constitution.
    Here are some excerpts from Thomas Paine’s “Agrarian Justice” circa 1795 as reviewed by Elizabeth Anderson.
     
    You can read the entire document here
     
    Let's follow along and see if there is any value in these formative theories, or if our modern interpretations as witnessed in much of this thread supersede the Great Thinkers.
     

    Go to the history section of the U.S. Social Security Administration’s website and you will find an extraordinary document: Thomas Paine’s “Agrarian Justice,” written in 1795.
     
     In barely a dozen pages, Paine proposed the first realistic plan to abolish poverty on a nationwide scale. It outlined the core economic institutions required to make this happen: a universal social insurance system comprising old-age pensions and disability support, and universal stakeholder grants for young adults, funded by a 10% inheritance tax focused on land. Paine demonstrated, with calculations based on census, living expense, and property data, that his social insurance/stakeholder plan could end most poverty in England.

     

     
    “Agrarian Justice” made three gigantic contributions to political theory–and political practice. First, its institutional scheme, centered on universal social insurance, has been adopted by virtually all developed countries as the core of their social policies. The central idea behind stakeholder grants–to afford young people the capital they need to be productive enough to avoid poverty–has also been adopted by all developed economies.
    Under modern economic conditions, its form has been altered to provide human rather than financial capital, via universal publicly funded education, with expenditures concentrated on children more than young adults.
    Together these two institutions are the primary means by which states today empower their members to rise above poverty, and protect them against market risks and other misfortunes.
     
    Second, “Agrarian Justice” is a milestone in thinking about distributive justice. For the first time, the existence of large-scale poverty was theorized as an injustice. Poverty was therefore neither deserved nor inevitable. It had to be abolished and prevented, not merely relieved, and the means chosen must secure the dignity of its recipients, not stigmatize them as dependent and incompetent. Moreover, Paine conceived of large-scale poverty as a systematic injustice. Until Paine, justice was primarily conceived in a transactional sense–in terms of duties to render particular things to particular people, and to avoid force, fraud, theft, and other wrongs in person-to-person interactions. Paine’s essay made a major advance toward the modern conception of justice as a virtue of entire systems of property, to be assessed in terms of its consequences for everyone’s interests.
     
    Third, “Agrarian Justice” constitutes a robust defense of a market-based, private property system against communist and socialist challenges. This may seem surprising, given the vituperative accusations of “socialism!” and even “communism!” aimed at recent American health insurance reforms designed to move toward universal coverage. A pall has been cast over social insurance by the suspicion that it is a giant step down a slippery slope to totalitarianism.
    The actual history of social insurance tells a dramatically different story, which helpfully illuminates core features of the system we have wrought.

     
     
    One of the fundamental principles in interpreting normative social justice is the notion of Natural Law, and as an adjunct, property rights. Any theory of social justice must spring from and reference this most basic of all concepts. Thomas Paine’s moderate interpretation struck a chord that was embraced by the Founding Fathers.
     

    Paine began with the premises common to all social contract arguments: that in the state
    of nature or anarchy, before positive laws are instituted, everyone is free and equal, no one is subject to anyone else’s authority, and the earth is held in common by everyone. They will agree to join a common legal regime only if it will promote their interests better than the state of nature. Paine followed Locke rather than Babeuf in claiming that in the state of nature, everyone has a property right in their own labor and hence in the fruits of their labor. Locke argued that individuals could acquire property in land by mixing their labor with it and thereby increasing its productivity, provided they left “enough and as good” for others. Since working 10 acres of land makes it yield at least as much as 100 acres in its natural state, in appropriating 10 acres, the landowner effectively gives back 90 acres to everyone else–far more than needed to meet the sufficiency proviso.

     

    Paine disputed Locke’s claim that the private property regime left everyone with a higher
    standard of living than what people enjoyed in the state of nature. In the state of nature, no one was poor. Poverty arises only upon the institution of private property in land, which creates two unequal classes, the rich propertied class and the poor working class. Since the poor were worse off under the current system of property laws than people were in the state of nature, they have a just complaint against those laws. Unlike Babeuf, however, Paine was no enemy of private property. On Paine’s diagnosis, the problem was not the existence of private property, but the fact that the property system abrogated a rightful property claim in the state of nature.
    People who had mixed their labor with the land were only entitled to the value added by their labor to the land. The underlying value of the land in its natural state had been unjustly taken from everyone else. The solution to this problem did not require communism, as Babeuf had argued. No could we return to the state of nature, because population growth since the advent of agriculture was too high to be sustained by the hunter-gatherer lifestyle of our ancestors.
    Instead, to compensate everyone for their exclusion from privately appropriated land, landowners must pay a rent to society, which would be most conveniently paid in the form of an inheritance tax. This would be sufficient to fund the social insurance and stakeholder grant system that would end poverty in most cases. Individuals would receive their rents in this form, rather than in regular cash payments over their lifetime, to satisfy the proviso that any legal regime leave everyone better off than in the state of nature. This requires that the property regime secure all against falling into poverty over the course of their whole lives.

     
     And finally, to the notion of social insurance:
     

     
    Paine’s aspiration to forge a universalistic path beyond class warfare and class
    paternalism was largely vindicated by the adoption of state-supported social insurance programs by virtually all developed countries starting in the 1880s. While social democratic or laborbased politics were vital causal factors behind the adoption of social insurance programs, it was neither the case that socialists took the lead in forging these programs nor that they were adopted as ideological expressions of working-class politics. To the contrary, social insurance was advanced as an alternative to a workers’ revolution, as proof that capitalism could offer a better deal to workers than socialism. Just short of a century after Paine warned the propertied classes that they might face communist revolution if they didn’t offer workers security, Otto von Bismarck, the Chancellor of the German Empire and Prime Minister of Prussia, heeded his call.
    Bismarck instituted the first social insurance programs in the world–for health care (1883),workers’ compensation (1884), and retirement pensions (1889). No one could accuse Bismarck of being a socialist: he also secured passage of a notorious Anti-Socialist Law (1878-90) that prohibited the socialists from meeting or distributing their publications, and authorized police to banish socialists from particular cities. While Bismarck instituted social insurance to undermine both the appeal of socialism and its independent labor organizations, the point was not merely strategic. Social insurance appealed to employers as it promoted a healthier workforce, enabled them to pool the risks of liability for industrial accidents, and shifted costs from poor relief funded from general taxation to workers’ contributions. It is no wonder that the socialist parties of Europe were initially wary of social insurance. Their conversion to full support for universal social insurance reflected their abandonment of the Marxist ideology of class conflict and revolution, embrace of cross-class coalitions and gradualist reform, and adoption of a “national” or universal, citizenship-based rather than a working-class interest based normative perspective. Other parties, notably the Christian Democratic parties, also came to embrace social insurance as an expression of society’s obligation to secure a decent life for all.
    No wonder then, that across Europe social insurance programs were typically advanced by broad-based coalitions.

     
     
    The pragmatic conclusion:
     

     
    So far it would seem that there could be no basis for the view that social insurance was a
    step on the path to totalitarianism. Any random person would certainly want security against the various risks against which social insurance offers effective protection. The market system does not offer effective, universally affordable insurance against some of the principal risks for which people want social insurance: unpredictable market shocks that leave masses of workers unemployed in particular sectors, business cycles leading to mass unemployment in recessions and mass destruction of privately invested wealth, adverse selection in insurance markets, particularly for health insurance, that leave essential health care unaffordable for vast sectors of society, and so forth. The random person can withstand the gale of creative destruction that is market society only by boarding the gigantic vessel that is social insurance. The small boats that they can craft using their own resources, or pooling their meager resources with those they can persuade to join them (a prospect that declines precipitously the more exposed they are to the gale), are not seaworthy.

     
     

     
    The point of drawing a sharp distinction between what individuals have “really paid for”
    and what they receive only as a matter of charity from those who are earning their way is not,then, a matter of freedom but of marking a social status difference, between the independent and the dependent. This of course is merely a return to the invidious distinctions of Poor Law thinking, which social insurance aimed to overturn. Hayek attempted to shore up the moral credentials of this distinction by pointing to the fact that Bismarck-style social insurance “redistributes” income in two ways. Most such systems incorporate horizontal (withingeneration) progressivity, such that income replacement rates are higher for lower incomes and flatten out as incomes rise (with contributions to old-age pensions similarly flattening out).
    Much more ominous from Hayek’s point of view was their pay-as-you-go structure, which incorporates vertical or cross-generational progressivity. As long as an economy is growing in per capita income, each generation can afford to pay higher retirement benefits to its parents than the previous generation could. The standard of living of the elderly is thus lifted along with everyone else in Bismarck-style systems. It is easy to see how, in societies where economic growth can be expected but subject to random shocks, any random individual would be better off under a pay-as-you-go system than providing for themselves out of their personal savings.

     
    On the notion that "Boomers" are getting more than they deserve"
     

    It is not only the older generation that has a stake in such a system. The younger
    generation does, too. The elderly have always depended on the young for support when they became too old to work (or employers no longer wanted to hire them), and have always expected more than the minimal means of subsistence if their children could afford it. The only question is the form in which the young provide this support to their elders. Social insurance insures the young against the fecklessness and bad financial luck of their parents–a benefit private insurance never provides. Bismarck-style social insurance supplies three additional benefits to the young that they could not otherwise enjoy. First, by keeping up with rising standards and hence costs of living, it enables parents to live in independent households, so they don’t have to move in with their children–the overwhelming preference of both generations in the modern day.
    Second, it helps liberate women from the need to drop out of the wage labor market so they can provide direct care to their parents or in-laws at home. Third, it helps spare the young from the wrenching burden of having to personally deal with the financial demands their parents would otherwise make on them, along with its accompanying resentments, humiliations, guilty feelings, needling, supplication, arguments, and retaliations. The emotional transaction costs of elder provision are infinitely lower when this is mediated by an impersonal, arms-length entitlement system.
    From a social contract perspective, any random individual acquainted with the dynamics of speculative booms and busts in asset markets, radical information asymmetry, conflicts of interest between financial advisors and clients that are inherent in financial markets, and generational conflict between retirees and their children, would prefer Bismarck style social insurance for a hefty chunk of their and their parents’ retirement needs.

     
     
     

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Mon, Jul 15, 2013 - 7:09pm

    Reply to #71
    treemagnet

    treemagnet

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 14 2011

    Posts: 279

    Maybe so , but the iron lady,

    Margaret Thatcher said, "the trouble with communism is that you eventually run out of other people's money….".  And that just says it all.For all the wisdom of the founding fathers, they just never allowed for the inevitable onslaught of greed and the permutations of our society – the day they signed that thing was the day the game started….again.  Social programs fail because of too many reasons to list.  Don't know who said it, but one of my personal favorites is "the trouble with communism is that it only works on paper".  Too true. 
    Danny DeVito had a line in a movie some time back, and in his slimy characters role stated "the only thing better than money, is other people's money". 

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Mon, Jul 15, 2013 - 11:13pm

    #77
    Doug

    Doug

    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

    Joined: Oct 01 2008

    Posts: 1353

    Yogi

    Thanks for the clarification.  I know what you mean when you bemoan the deterioration of public spaces, particularly parks and sports fields.  I have a little different view than you about that.  Truly disabled people would either not be able to maintain such spaces or would require someone to supervise their activities, thereby adding expenses and responsibilities.

    I managed Little League teams for years.  Our field was at a town park and was sadly neglected by a town that just couldn't afford extensive upkeep.  That left volunteers (us) to fill the gaps.  We managed to work out a lot of improvements with a little of our money and the cooperation of the town and LL.  F'rinstance, we persuaded LL to buy a batting cage net and the town to buy the timbers and parts for the structure.  We did the work.  LL also provided a pitching machine, but since there was no power at the field, we supplied a generator.  The town knew that the old backstop was a falling down patchwork of old fencing on rusting poles, so were willing to buy us a new backstop if we would tear down the old one and put up the new one.  The town hauled away the refuse and LL chipped in with concrete and parts to put up the new one.  We built that too.  And, of course, we literally rebuilt the field itself, putting in new baselines, a diamond and pitcher's mound according to LL specs.  LL contributed the red clay, but we had to transport it to the field.  The town helped out there.  To this day, thanks to an arrangement we made, the town highway supervisor brings in a road roller every spring to roll the field.  None of this includes the work we and the kids did constantly to maintain what we built.

    Largely because of the work we did, the town was inspired to build a new very nice outhouse, put in a grill for hotdogs and such and bing in a new equipment shed built by local Amish.

    I realize that I am highjacking the thread with this commentary, but to me the spirit of volunteerism can do a lot without asking for help from social service agencies.  In fact, because a parent of one of our players worked at a shelter for severely disabled people, she frequently brought them on outings to the games.  These are the things that communities do.

    Back to SS.  While I believe that the current SS system goes a long way to fulfilling the philosophical underpinnings described by Darbikrash (I very much appreciate the contribution), there is no doubt that it is taken advantage of by low level grifters and people who could work, but can't find work in these economic times.  Applications for benefits have gone way up since 2009.  I'm convinced that the benefits and payments provided relief for many who would not have been employed through no fault of their own over the past few years.  The jobs just weren't and aren't out there.  I'm equally sure that fact did not go unnoticed by tptb.

    Finally, when we get down to the reasons people become and stay disabled, there is a vast amount of improvement that could be incorporated into the system that is already required by the regulations, but not enforced.  Obesity and lack of conditioning plays a huge part in the disability rolls.  I guess requiring people to comply with medical advice to improve functioning is too much to ask.  It shouldn't be.

    Doug

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Jul 16, 2013 - 10:26am

    #78
    yogiismyhero

    yogiismyhero

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jun 28 2013

    Posts: 174

    Doug, way to go...

    I too have been involved with kids activities my entire life. We too (always the same men and women) of each set on new kids are the ones who keep the programs running. Good people who are motivated by their kids and learn to love what they are doing, and truly as a spin off help the overall community. Many of our friends, important contacts, will be the ones who someday assist us when things get really bad. We live with farmers, special skilled and hard working people, and we consider ourselves in this class also. They/we have extensive weapons training too as hunters of just about everything. It's a small town community where everyone knows everyone and, where everyone knows every square inch of real estate. Where the police are often kids we coached while kids and helped stay the straight and narrow throughout their lives. 

    I understand disability very well as my sister was born into this world without skin over her stomach, so all internals were exposed and skin had to be grafted over this area. As a consequence is retarded or special. We are three years apart so watching her and other special needs people my entire life I perhaps have a different perspective. My sister for instance was never to attain the age of a 3 year old mentally, and physically she was way behind the curve. My sister attained many levels above her born into diagnosis and because our family unit was so lovely and attentive she too was overstimulated to be more. I say all of this so you understand my short answer thoughts are a quick recollection of lifes experiences and can be brief then when writing.

    Bottom line, we all can be so much more if we get and stay into the mind set that it is always in our best interests if we try and give more than we receiver. Also for the record I have no issues helping my fellow man when times are tough but in return we should expect that menial tasks be performed that otherwise no one else has the time to do because they are working to keep some peoples butt on the couch.

    Have a great day as I always find your threads very sensible even if I don't fully understand your point of view. I look forward to having mine critiqued as well so that I can be made aware my short comings.

    YOGI 

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Jul 16, 2013 - 1:32pm

    #79
    jgritter

    jgritter

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Dec 13 2011

    Posts: 157

    Prepping for what

    This seems like it might be important, anyone want to weigh in?

    http://www.guymcpherson.com/2013/01/climate-change-summary-and-update/

    John

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Jul 16, 2013 - 5:00pm

    #80
    jdye51

    jdye51

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 17 2011

    Posts: 151

    Tough Topic

    John,

    I've brought up this topic on other threads and I appreciate you bringing it here as well. I don't know if Guy McPherson is correct in his conclusion regarding near term extinction, but he does point to the science that has led him to this conclusion. And it is frightening. I asked Mark Cochrane (climate thread) about it and he doesn't appear to agree with this dire prediction. But who knows for sure? We are already seeing more rapid change than was predicted previously and much of that didn't take the positive feedback loops into consideration. I am very concerned, and I also wondered in those earlier posts whether it made sense to prepare. Around the time I made those comments, Chris and Adam both wrote articles taking a more upbeat attitude and they continue to encourage preparation. This whole site is clearly geared towards taking proactive measures in light of collapse. I understand that. But I have agonized over the possibility that Guy is right – at the very least we are living on a very different planet and one that will continue to alter in major ways. I get the feeling that we, in general, don't have any idea just how severe those changes are/will be and how much they will affect our attempts to carry on. So that is why I have questioned what it is exactly that I am preparing for. We are living in times like no other. Perhaps it is human conceit that makes it so hard to imagine the planet without us.

    It could be that concerns about SS and so on are all moot. But we continue to discuss such issues and to make our preparations because that is what we humans do. It gives us something to DO which feels better than facing what could be our demise as a species. But it is also why I talk about grief and the need to process our emotions as events play out. Those already impacted by floods, fires and droughts know that kind of loss and the ensuing struggle to pick up the pieces of their lives. As the economic and climate blows continue to rain down, it will become harder and harder to find some sort of equilibrium. The losses will keep coming. We can try to build as much resilience into our lives as we can, but then again Hurricane Sandy took everything from those directly affected. All we can do is our best given what we know now.

    I don't mean to be depressing; this topic needs to be discussed. When we are seeing 150 mile wide methane plumes in the Artic, it is time to wake up. It's time to have the difficult conversations because we just may be past the point of no return. And what will that mean for current generations much less those yet to be born?

    Joyce

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Jul 16, 2013 - 5:51pm

    #81
    yogiismyhero

    yogiismyhero

    Status Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jun 28 2013

    Posts: 174

    Joyce, I fully get your point and concerns but...

    ….really, what can we do about it now? I prepare as though today is my last day and I'll be darn if I will agonize over my lot in life. I just finished 9 holes of golf in this heat, got all lathered up walking a challenging course about 10 minutes from here. I ran into friends and neighbors. Kids I coached while they grew up and had warm exchanges. I now have the pool cleaned, my 8x8x18 inch pool that my Lady and I will sit in this late afternoon. If we're not too tired we'll do a couple of laps. We'll eat, watch the ballgame and probably nod off together on the couch before retiring. If this is it then what a way to go out, don't you think? What more can I do, can I undo what is done, and if so do I need permission?

    YOGI

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Jul 16, 2013 - 6:54pm

    Reply to #79
    Doug

    Doug

    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

    Joined: Oct 01 2008

    Posts: 1353

    jgritter wrote:This seems

    [quote=jgritter]
    This seems like it might be important, anyone want to weigh in?
    http://www.guymcpherson.com/2013/01/climate-change-summary-and-update/
    John
    [/quote]
    John,
    Mr. McPherson and his viewpoints have been discussed extensively in other fora on this site, including Chris and Adam's last Q&A and the climate change thread.  I have expressed my view that his prediction of a human extinction event will begin in 2031, give or take 13 years, is a bit extreme.  I do like the range of projections he offered in the article you linked.
    [quote]
    Large-scale assessments

    Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (late 2007): 1 C by 2100
    Hadley Centre for Meteorological Research (late 2008): 2 C by 2100
    United Nations Environment Programme (mid 2009): 3.5 C by 2100
    Hadley Centre for Meteorological Research (October 2009): 4 C by 2060
    Global Carbon Project, Copenhagen Diagnosis (November 2009): 6 C, 7 C by 2100
    United Nations Environment Programme (December 2010): up to 5 C by 2050[/quote]

    That about covers the range of projections I've seen.  The two ends ( 1C by 2100 and 5C by 2050) are the extremes of those projections, and should probably be considered the least likely outcomes.  OTOH, as McPherson points out, scientific projections have proven consistently conservative when compared to actual outcomes, so who knows.  The possibility of further positive feedbacks is quite worrisome and needs to be carefully considered.
    If you haven't been following the climate change thread, I encourage you to do so:
    https://www.peakprosperity.com/forum/definitive-global-climate-change-aka-global-warming-thread-general-discussion-and-questions/71
    Doug

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Tue, Jul 16, 2013 - 7:30pm

    Reply to #80

    Grover

    Status Gold Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 15 2011

    Posts: 691

    Limited Options

    [quote=jdye51]I don't mean to be depressing; this topic needs to be discussed. When we are seeing 150 mile wide methane plumes in the Artic, it is time to wake up. It's time to have the difficult conversations because we just may be past the point of no return. And what will that mean for current generations much less those yet to be born?
    [/quote]
    Joyce,
    I haven't kept up with the climate change thread because I see it as an exercise in hand wringing and angst. The "science" is based on observations that are heavily weighted to recent times. The "science" is really just modeling based on those data and may or may not track the actual driving forces. As you noted in the prior paragraph:

    It gives us something to DO which feels better than facing what could be our demise as a species.

    You suggest that we have the difficult conversations about this. I like to look at the options realistically available to us and then work backwards. For instance, is it realistic to think that we'll escape this planet and inhabit another world so humanity can avoid extinction? It might be for a small handful, but not for the 7+ billion who will be left behind. Why consider that as an option?
    So, if we agree that anthropogenic carbon dioxide is the problem (and I don't,) we need to reduce its production and <sarc> all will be fine </sarc>. How are we going to accomplish that goal without major disruptions to the economic well being of the humans on the planet? How would you feed 7+ billion without fossil fuels? Wouldn't it take a "One World Government" to ensure compliance? That cure would be worse than the disease. (They can't manage a simple system like social security.) What about forest fires and volcanoes? Natural processes beyond our control produce massive amounts of carbon dioxide.
    Perhaps what is driving the "climate change" is the activity in the sun. Sunspots appear dark because they release energy at a wavelength our eyes cannot detect. These shorter wavelength emissions have more energy content. Just as the warmest days of summer occur after summer solstice, perhaps it is taking time for the modern maximum's effect to be felt.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_cycle

    The above graph ends with solar cycle 23. The current solar cycle (Cycle 24) is near its peak and is producing fewer sunspots than any in nearly 2 centuries. The graph below shows cycles 19-24 to give a better perspective.

    http://sidc.oma.be/html/wolfmms.html

    Is this the beginning of a new minimum or just an anomaly? I honestly don't know what to make of it yet. It will take several more cycles before we know. By that time, I plan to be dead. My point is that our options are extremely limited. If you want to have an adult-sized conversation, start with the end in mind. There is a time for grieving and a time to be pragmatic.
    Grover

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Wed, Jul 17, 2013 - 2:11am

    #82

    Mark Cochrane

    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

    Joined: May 24 2011

    Posts: 1189

    Enlightenment

    Grover,

    Perhaps what is driving the "climate change" is the activity in the sun.

    Really? You don't think that this was ever thought of before? The solar sunspot cycle you illustrate above occurs roughly every 11 years. When the number of sun spots is high, so is the radiant output of the sun. This seems counterintuitive since the sunspots appear dark but the contrast is enhanced by the upwelling of extra warm mass around the spots and so total solar irradiance increases. When there are few spots then the amount of sunlight reaching the Earth diminishes a bit. The change from peak to trough is roughly 0.1% (1.3 Watts per square meter).

    If the climate were stable then we'd get a little warmer during the peaks and a little colder during the valleys of your sunspot figure. We've been getting steadily warmer throughout the last several decades. Also, note the lows of the last cycle were extended and lower than any other solar cycle in a century, now we are peaking at the lowest level in a long time as well.

    So to answer your question. It is not changes in solar output that are causing climate change. If anything, they are currently masking the magnitude of the problem given the current lower solar irradiance as compared to previous solar cycles.

    Add to this the fact that the majority of 'global warming' is happening at night (minimum daily temperatures are rising faster than maximum daily temperatures) and you can see that this can't be caused by the sun.

    Climate change is going to disrupt the economy whether we reduce our emissions or not. It is currently estimated to devour roughly 1.6% of global GDP (source) and it is only going to increase as a stealth tax on everything through disruptions in all of our systems and lives. Climate change isn’t an event that is coming, it is already a predicament that we will have to manage. We missed our chance to avoid this problem and now we have to act to both mitigate and adapt to change. The only question is whether or not we want to act proactively to minimize the damage or keep the pedal to the metal so that we privileged few can die fat, dumb and happy while leaving our children and grandchildren to pick up all of the costs. That's the real adult-sized conversation we should be having. If you are up for having it, feel free to come on over to the Climate Thread.

    Cheers,

    Mark

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Wed, Jul 17, 2013 - 5:16am

    Reply to #80
    John Lemieux

    John Lemieux

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: Mar 02 2012

    Posts: 208

    Yes jdye5, it's a tough topic here

    Hi Joyce,I awakened to the seriousness of the climate change problem about seven years ago. And although I really doubt we will see a near term extincion event as predicted by Guy McPherson, I believe what Mark Cochrane is telling us just cause for great concern.
    And although you say that this site is about encouraging preparation for a rapidly changing world, IMO the main concern, and primary focus here is economic/financial. To me PP is a financial site, and I think it's helpful to realise that this site is also a business. 
    So in this light I can certainly understand why the official position of PP is to avoid the climate change issue. It's just too divisive. And I'm sure the concern here is that this issue, if given more of an opportunity, could dominate the site. 
    It's a bewildering situation for those of us who understand the seriousness of the environmental crises. But Mark's thread is excellent I think. I just don't think things will change here given the answer by CM on the recent Q and A thread. 
    But like you I am very curious as to why more people are not very concerned about this. And also why this is such a divisive issue. To me it's the most serious issue we face. And it's just science. But to many others (particularily in the US), it seems to be something else.
    The Canadian activist/journalist Naomi Klein has been focused on this issue lately. Her writing has helped me to understand why this is such a divisive issue.
    I recommend a piece she wrote in The Nation called Capitalism vs The Climate (sorry I didn't get a link). And she is also currently writing a book on this topic. J.
     

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Wed, Jul 17, 2013 - 5:59am

    Reply to #82

    Grover

    Status Gold Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 15 2011

    Posts: 691

    Focus on T4T

    Mark,I'll accept your invitation to discuss this matter on the climate thread … as soon as someone can come up with workable proposals aiming toward a solution. I'm not interested in nattering. Climate change is a predicament that will be addressed individually. This is not the thread to discuss these matters unless any generation is more apt to deal with the problems that society faces.
    Here are my posts on another climate related thread so you can see where I'm coming from:

    https://www.peakprosperity.com/comment/117437#comment-117437
    https://www.peakprosperity.com/comment/117560#comment-117560
    https://www.peakprosperity.com/comment/124681#comment-124681
    https://www.peakprosperity.com/comment/125108#comment-125108
    https://www.peakprosperity.com/comment/125183#comment-125183
    https://www.peakprosperity.com/comment/125240#comment-125240

    Please send me a PM with links of credible solution(s). To all the climatologists, please don't hijack this thread.
    Grover

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Wed, Jul 17, 2013 - 12:56pm

    #83
    jgritter

    jgritter

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Dec 13 2011

    Posts: 157

    Red Pill Moment

    Jan

    Your words are well taken and appreciated.  I've known my entire adult working life that SS was a ponzi sceme and I wasn't going to see a dime but it is making a significant differance in the life of my mother and many like her, so I considered it money well spent.  I've thought myself prudent for taking a very long position in physical silver, I was brought up rather short then to find that there was a credible arguement for the idea that the human race might be wiped out before I have a chance to retire, much less spend my savings.  Rather an abrupt reframing of prioritys.  A Red Pill moment.  Of course I'll continue to prep, if anything, the game just got alot more interesting.  Trying to preserve my savings was a chore, surviving a Mass Extinction Event, game on!

    Doug

    Thanks for the link to the Climate Change Thread.  I was aware of it, but up until now I hadn't thought it a priority.  What a wonderful tumble down the rabbit hole! 

    Mark

    Thank you for your patience and perserverance with what is obviously a very diverse readership.  I have read and will continue to read your posts closely and with interest.

    And so out to tend the garden in this remarkable weather ( I'm in south western Michigan, 100 degree heat index, 75 degree dew point ),a precurser of things to come?

    John

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Wed, Jul 17, 2013 - 2:23pm

    Reply to #83

    westcoastjan

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jun 04 2012

    Posts: 177

    Your response

    Hi John,I think perhaps your response should have been to Joyce.
    It is interesting how this thread has morphed. I was particulary taken with the dialogue around disability benefits. The anger at those underserving of benefits is palpable, and rightly so. I do find though that this line of thinking always mirrors the economic circumstances that we find ourselves in – when times are tough protectionism and discrimination become more evident. When the good times roll we don't hear too much about who is receiving benefits.
    I see two kinds of "disabled": those who are gaming the system to receive benefits they are not entitled to; and those who are incapacitated in such a way that they genuinely need additional support from society. I have no problem with the latter. This is a moral obligation of a civilized society that values human rights. It is part of the price we have to pay for having those rights. The real problem lies with the former, that group of people who have no integrity and who think they deserve a free ride. But complicit in that are those who designed and run the system – if there is something to be exploited those who would exploit it will surely find a way to do so. It is too easy to scam the system, and we are right to be angry about it. I get especially angry as those who are in genuine need get lumped in with the scammers.
    There is also another side of the coin with regard to disabled people in the workforce. There remains considerable barriers to success because of discriminatory attitudes. I have direct experience with this, and have battled with this over my entire career. There is a great deal of lip service paid to how right and proper it is to hire disabled people, but when it comes down to crunch time, all too often businesses do not come through. The excuse, especially for small businesses, is that it will have too much of an impact on the bottom line. The fear of the unknown causes more emphasis to be placed on the disability, rather than the ability. It is misguided thinking. Small business is the driver of our economic engines, yet there remain many who will not consider taking on a disabled person. Most disabled people want and need to be productive, contributing members of their communities. I have known accountants and lawyers who were long term unemployed because no one could get past seeing their disabilities. What a waste of a resource, doubly so because they end up collecting disability benefits. How un-necessary is that?!?
    As with all generalizations a lot of good people get caught up with the tarring and feathering of those who are greedy and taking advantage of the system. Don't let that blind you to the many good and talented disabled people out there who want to take part in the game, but are not allowed to play.
    Jan
     
     

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Wed, Jul 17, 2013 - 4:40pm

    #84
    jgritter

    jgritter

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Dec 13 2011

    Posts: 157

    Jan and Joyce

    Jan, you are quite right and I beg both your pardens.  I've been reading and rereading both of you postings and got things muddled up.

    John

     

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Wed, Jul 17, 2013 - 8:00pm

    Reply to #82

    Mark Cochrane

    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

    Joined: May 24 2011

    Posts: 1189

    Problems versus predicaments

    Hello Grover,Thank you, I will check out your posts.
    There is no hijack intended for this thread. I was just correcting some misinformation that you had presented.
    Your response indicates that you are confusing 'problems' with 'predicaments'. Chris covered this well in the Crash Course (pages 53-56) and John Michael Greer has also discussed the distinction between the two (link).
    Problems beg for solutions. Once the solution is found then everyone can just forget about whatever the problem was.
    Predicaments have no solutions, only outcomes. They are situations that need to be managed in order to achieve a more desirable outcome versus a less desirable one if nothing is done. Think diabetes. You can pretend it doesn't exist and eat whatever you want, for a while. Of course you will likely go blind, lose your feet, and end up in a coma or dead if you refuse to manage the situation. The alternative of eating carefully and exercising doesn't 'solve' the diabetes but it does manage the problem so that you can live a longer more productive life.
    Whether we are talking about the global financial crisis, peak oil, dwindling resources, human populations, or climate change, we are discussing hosts of predicaments. There are no magic 'solutions' that will allow our societies to go on doing what we have been doing. We must either manage the issues to try to minimize the fallout or else we can extend and pretend until we are left with no options whatsoever other than worst case scenarios.
    It is a combination of wishful thinking by a populace that doesn't want to change or sacrifice their way of life and the self-serving suggestions by certain industries who are profiting from the status quo that keep trying to frame climate change and every other issue in the Crash Course as 'problems'. If it is a 'problem' then it is up to somebody else to solve it and we do not have to change what we are doing now, because that somebody else is going to come along soon and make the big bad problem go away. Just delay little longer. One of the most effective Siren's songs ever sung.
    Alas, there are no 'credible solutions' to climate change because it is not a problem. It is a predicament that presents us with many management options to choose from at every level from individual action to local community, to state, federal and global possible actions to mitigate or adapt to the actual problems that will be spawned by the growing predicament.
    In line with this thread, I have read The Fourth Turning, and there is a lot of interesting pattern to be seen in the interplay between the generations, however, we must realize that the generations do not actually exist as physical manifestations. They are comprised of the many people who are born into each given cohort. There may be central tendencies for generational groups but there is also a wide range of variability within them. You yourself are not some average tendency, individual choices still matter. Most of the people reading these boards have already made individual choices that set them outside of their 'generational mainstream'. All generations are apt to deal better with our current situation if more of us within each generation would point out that we have major issues that need to be managed proactively so as to reduce and minimize the future problems that will have to get fixed.
    Cheer,
    Mark

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Wed, Jul 17, 2013 - 9:05pm

    Reply to #82
    treemagnet

    treemagnet

    Status Silver Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 14 2011

    Posts: 279

    I think we skipped predicament

    and went straight to dilemma! 'All generations are apt to deal better with our current situation if more of us within each generation would point out that we have major issues that need to be managed proactively so as to reduce and minimize the future problems that will have to get fixed.'
    Cheer,
    Mark
    Mark, in theT4T arena, not sure what that means, in practical terms.  I know many consider the accuracy of each turning throughout time to be not exact enough to trade on so not real or relevant enough to believe – same folks who likely don't believe in a higher power I'm guessing – but your post, I mean, I get it – but what are you really saying…..'cause its brushing up against 'world peace' and stuff leaving me with no real take-away.  Who gives up what, and how much…and who takes it?  I think we're past such teachable moments and doomed to grind lower and slower and worse.  But, being an optimist – I'd like to hear about a way out.  Anyway, could you succinctly shine some light on that?

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Wed, Jul 17, 2013 - 10:41pm

    Reply to #82

    Mark Cochrane

    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

    Joined: May 24 2011

    Posts: 1189

    Dilemmas are just thornier predicaments

    TreeMagnet,I get your drift. We have dithered so long and let the issues get so big that there really is no easy way out. People are going to lose. What most people don't realize is that we do not get the choice of participating. At present in our predicament we are, for the most part, being bled dry. Most people have less and less year after year while others are working harder and harder just to stand still. A relative few are making out like the bandits that they are while trying to mesmerize and placate the populace with bread and circuses, telling us to hang in there a little longer until the 'recovery' picks up speed.
    Managing a growing pie is easy, managing a shrinking one is not. There are lots of hard decisions to be made. The more equitably they are made the fewer people will like them because the pain will be spread evenly. An unfair distribution of bonuses sucks, but an unfair distribution of penalties is a different beast. Would you like one cookie now or two in and hour becomes would you prefer one root canal now or two in an hour?
    More to the point is that individuals of all generations need to take their noses out of their navels and start contemplating time lines longer than quarterly profits. We also have to stop trying to maximize our own personal wealth at the expense of others, especially if they can be foisted off onto the unborn.
    We do not have to wait for the entire economy to come to a screeching halt in order to start doing something to make ourselves and our communities more resilient. You can downsize your home before going bankrupt. You can start growing food before the super market shelf is empty. You can pull your money out of the no-so-free market. You can try to get your town to make sensible investments that will be sustainable in the future.
    If the next generations of 'heroes' are going to be thrust into the mess we have made then at least we can start making the sacrifices of time and resources needed to prepare and arm them for the coming trials. In practical terms, take a look at someplace like Arizona and much of the arid west. They already are running too tight on water. They need to drastically drop per capita water use. If they start now they can use things like incentives and infrastructure planning to allow the region to more slowly and efficiently adjust year by year. The alternative would be waiting for the next serious drought that leads to rationing and the collapse of various agricultural and industrial businesses. Maybe unpleasantness with neighboring states. The region has a limited and shrinking water budget. Proactive efforts to reduce waste and increase efficiency will prevent a lot of very inefficient unpleasantness. Building permits and regional population plans should reflect these known limits.
    We need to create systems that rewards sensible resource use and that penalizes foolishness or profligacy. At present we are doing the opposite and getting the world we deserve.
    Mark

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Wed, Jul 17, 2013 - 11:22pm

    #85

    Arthur Robey

    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 03 2010

    Posts: 1814

    The Death Drive.

    Life is a proccess. A verb, not a noun. We cannot go backwards, that door is closed to us because we have too many mouths to feed.

    Beware the Death Drive! (Freud).  I will not go contentedly into the night of extinction. I encounter the Death Drive whenever I find either fatalistic stoicism, denial or outrage whenever I present possible weaknesses in the prevailing meme.

    There are three improbable things we have to do simultaneously.

    1. find a substitute for carbon energy
    2. curb the urge to breed uniformly across all human populations
    3. create more lebensraum.

    Login or Register to post comments

  • Fri, Aug 02, 2013 - 7:44am

    #86

    Grover

    Status Gold Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 15 2011

    Posts: 691

    Endarkenment

    Mark,

    I didn't want to pollute this thread. It has been 2 weeks since anything has been posted. I'm guessing the thread has run its course. I originally responded to jdye51 to give her another perspective. Obviously, the thread set up for all the hand wringing wasn't quite big enough for all the angst. I quoted this statement from her:

    It gives us something to DO which feels better than facing what could be our demise as a species.

    That statement scares the living crap out of me. If there is nothing that can be done, nothing is the appropriate response. I'll talk more about this later in this message.

    You tried to "enlighten" me. We really didn't say too much different. I'm wondering if you really read my post before responding. You brought out the constant solar irradiance (+/- 0.1%) and therefore discounted the sun's effect on climate change. If that were all the sun did, you would be absolutely correct.

    The sun is a dynamo that provides the majority of earth's energy budget. As you noted, every 11 years or so, it switches polarity. The magnetic north pole switches to the south pole while the south pole migrates northerly. The next sunspot cycle it reverses again so that magnetic north is north and magnetic south is south. Sunspots are the manifestation of the pole switching process. At the beginning of the cycle, sunspots start forming nearer the poles. As time progresses, the sunspots form closer and closer to the sun's equator. At the sunspot peak, sunspots mainly form near the equator. As the cycle continues, the spot genesis migrates toward the poles.

    Sunspots can and often have very dynamic magnetic mixing that can actually propel matter outside of the sun's gravity – solar flares. These are called coronal mass ejections (CMEs.) Ejecta can travel in any direction from the sun's surface, but the predominate direction is nearly orthogonal to the sun's surface. Given that the earth is 93+ million miles from the sun, it is a relatively small target. CMEs that originate near the equator (ie sunspot maximum) have a greater chance of intercepting earth than those that originate near the poles. Here is a Wikipedia article about one of these that impacted earth, the Carrington event that occurred in 1859. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carrington_event

    As you know, the sun also changes its electormagnetic properties over the course of the sunspot cycle. This Wikipedia snip says it better than I could:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_cycle

    The Sun's magnetic field structures its atmosphere and outer layers all the way through the corona and into the solar wind. Its spatiotemporal variations lead to a host of phenomena collectively known as solar activity. All of solar activity is strongly modulated by the solar magnetic cycle, since the latter serves as the energy source and dynamical engine for the former.

    The earth intercepts the sun's output at various levels of the atmosphere. From the same Widipedia article:

    Even though it only accounts for a minuscule fraction of total solar radiation, the impact of solar UV, EUV and X-ray radiation on the Earth's upper atmosphere is profound. Solar UV flux is a major driver of stratospheric chemistry, and increases in ionizing radiation significantly affect ionosphere-influenced temperature and electrical conductivity.

    More interesting (to me) is what happens during solar minima. The energetic sun gets quiet and its influence diminishes. Here, from the same Wikipedia article, is a description of cosmic rays entering our solar system less impeded.

    The outward expansion of solar ejecta into interplanetary space provides overdensities of plasma that are efficient at scattering high-energy cosmic rays entering the solar system from elsewhere in the galaxy. Since the frequency of solar eruptive events is strongly modulated by the solar cycle, the degree of cosmic ray scattering in the outer solar system varies in step. As a consequence, the cosmic ray flux in the inner solar system is anticorrelated with the overall level of solar activity. This anticorrelation is clearly detected in cosmic ray flux measurements at the Earth's surface.

    Some high-energy cosmic rays entering Earth's atmosphere collide hard enough with molecular atmospheric constituents to cause occasionally nuclear spallation reactions. Some of the fission products include radionuclides such as 14C and 10Be, which settle down on Earth's surface.

    And from this Wikipedia article:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_variation

    Changes in ionization affect the abundance of aerosols that serve as the nuclei of condensation for cloud formation.[46] During periods of low solar activity (during solar minima), more cosmic rays reach Earth, potentially creating ultra-small aerosol particles which are precursors to cloud condensation nuclei.[47] Clouds formed from greater amounts of condensation nuclei are brighter, longer lived, and likely to produce less precipitation. It has been speculated that a change in cosmic rays could cause an increase in certain types of clouds, affecting Earth's albedo.

    There is quite a bit more involved than the 0.1% variation you alluded to. Researchers still don't have a complete handle on the sun-earth interaction. Is it just a coincidence that the earth was warmer during the medieval maximum, that we had the little ice age during the Spörer, Maunder, and Dalton minima, and that we had warmer conditions during the recent modern maximum? This last sunspot cycle was the least active in the past 2 centuries. What does it mean if we're heading for another minimum?

    It doesn't really matter. None of us has any influence on the sun. It will do what it will do. I really don't think I have substantial influence on the carbon cycle. Fossil fuels will continue to be burnt as long as it is economically advantageous. (More about this at the end of this post.)

    Problem or Predicament?

    I've never felt comfortable with the special definition for predicament that this site attributes to it. Apparently, problems have solutions and predicaments have outcomes. I'm sorry, but that is a bit too simplistic. I prefer to think of them as points on a spectrum. On the simple end, there are uncomplicated mathematical problems: 2+2 = ?. Once you get to problems associated with humans, there really aren't any uncomplicated problems. For example, is life a problem or predicament? After all, it ends in death for all of us. There is no escaping it. That is the outcome. Perhaps, life is just life.

    In my work, problems that have solutions are no longer problems. These are handed to the entry level staff. Predicaments are problems without a clearcut solution – that have potential secondary or tertiary benefits. We're not solving the problem, but we are mitigating its impacts. (It gets complicated.) Isn't that better than just thinking there is nothing to be done and acting like flotsam?

    Since I don't like your definition for predicament, I really ought to suggest a better alternative. I thought I would start with the definition from http://www.dictionary.com.

    pre·dic·a·ment

    [pri-dikuh-muhnt for 1, 3; pred-i-kuh-muhnt for 2]  Show IPA

    noun

    1. an unpleasantly difficult, perplexing, or dangerous situation.
    2. a class or category of logical or philosophical predication.
    3. Archaic. a particular state, condition, or situation.

    I don't see anything that says it would be a problem were it only solvable. I do see perplexing and situation. So, let's look up those.

    per·plex

    [per-pleks]  Show IPA ,

    verb (used with object)

    1. to cause to be puzzled or bewildered over what is not understood or certain; confuse mentally: Her strange response perplexed me.
    2. to make complicated or confused, as a matter or question.
    3. to hamper with complications, confusion, or uncertainty.

    sit·u·a·tion

    [sich-oo-ey-shuhn]  Show IPA

    noun

    1. manner of being situated; location or position with reference to environment: The situation of the house allowed for a beautiful view.
    2. a place or locality.
    3. condition; case; plight: He is in a desperate situation.
    4. the state of affairs; combination of circumstances: The present international situation is dangerous.
    5. a position or post of employment; job.

    I think we're getting somewhere. Look at #3 "condition; case; plight: He is in a desperate situation." Let's look up plight:

    plight

    1 [plahyt]  Show IPA

    noun

    a condition, state, or situation, especially an unfavorable or unfortunate one: to find oneself in a sorry plight.

    I think "plight" is a better word to describe an unsolvable situation. It has the proper connotations; although, to me, it is escapable. I'm open to other suggestions.

    Conclusion:

    As I said earlier, I have no influence on the sun and an insignificant influence on the earth's atmospheric carbon dioxide. I really worry when I read/hear people say that we have to "do something." I can imagine that "something" involves government coercion, simply because one person's changes are as insignificant as mine; however, if we can get government to force this change on the rest of the world … Once there is enough support, politician(s) will use this message to further his/her own agenda. Does it do any good to limit our output if China pollutes more? Not really. In order to limit worldwide CO2 production, anything less than a One World Government would be futile. Think life is bad with a collapsing ecosystem? It would be worse with One World Government.

    I'm glad there are threads on this site that encourage people to explore the science and sociology of carbon dioxide levels increasing in our atmosphere. I really don't care what gets discussed there. Unless it relates directly to another thread's topic, it shouldn't be broached on the other thread. (I'm violating this rule here because this post doesn't relate to T4T.We wouldn't have gotten here if the errant climate post hadn't been posted.)

    I'm not interested in discussing how much worse the climate is going to get. I can't change that. I am interested in hearing of strategies to mitigate the impact. I listened to your podcast and appreciate that you connected the dots and suggested stockpiling more supplies. As I heard your suggestions, I was trying to imagine doing this for everyone in the world. It doesn't work. There aren't enough commodities available for everyone on earth to stockpile more supplies. It doesn't really work at the country/state level. Can all the people in Miami, FL move to higher ground? If so, who will buy the property and at what price? It doesn't work for more than a small percentage.

    Each of your suggestions were more appropriate for individuals and small communities. When I read between the lines, it tells me that population will need to come down to sustainable levels … and those levels will fluctuate wildly. Without adequate supplies, the lowest levels will determine what sustainable means. Now, that's a plight.

    Grover

    Login or Register to post comments

Login or Register to post comments