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Automating Ourselves To Unemployment

How shortsighted policies are creating a long-term crisis
Wednesday, April 27, 2016, 9:39 PM

In this current era of central planning, malincentives abound. We raced to frack as fast we could for the quick money, while leaving behind a wake of environmental destruction and creating a supply glut that has killed the economics of shale oil. Our stock exchanges sell unfairly-fast price feeds for great sums to elite Wall Street high-frequency-trading firms, and as a result have destroyed investor trust in our financial markets.  The Federal Reserve keeps interest rates historically low to encourage banks to lend money out, yet instead the banks simply lever up to buy Treasurys thereby pocketing vast amounts of riskless free profit. The list goes on and on.

One particular malincentive has been catching my attention recently, one that feels especially pernicious because it does not seem easily reversible, if at all. For US employers both large and small, it's becoming increasingly less appealing to employ human labor.  » Read more

Podcast

Goldie Woods quad

John Michael Greer: The God Of Technological Progress May Well Be Dead

But society is unwilling to consider that
Sunday, April 12, 2015, 2:49 PM

As we often state here at Peak Prosperity, the narratives we hold are immensely important. The stories running our heads influence everything from our beliefs to our values to our actions.

Which is why it's so dangerous when a society clings onto a narrative that is no longer serving it well, a narrative divorced from reality. » Read more

Insider

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The 3 Likeliest Ways Things Will Play Out From Here

Do you have a plan for each?
Thursday, September 25, 2014, 3:58 PM

Executive Summary

  • The wisdom and value of scenario planning
  • Scenario #1: A Slow Burn
  • Scenario #2: Fragmentation
  • Scenario #3: A Hard Landing
  • The prudence of taking individual action now, vs depending upon "the system" to react to future events

If you have not yet read Part 1: Ready Or Not... available free to all readers, please click here to read it first.

It all begins with the clear-eyed recognition that the old way of doing business is clearly unsustainable. And yet knowing that the various governmental and institutional powerbrokers are doing everything they can to perpetuate the status quo way of doing business.

Business-as-usual is literally going to end in some flavor of disaster, and yet we collectively adhere to it, even when the end-point is as obvious as calculating the linear rate of withdrawal of water from a non-renewing aquifer.

But there's nothing linear about the nested and/or intertwined complex systems we call the Economy, the Environment and Energy.  Each of these is independently complex, meaning they often easily defy the attempts to manage them. And they are utterly unpredictable for anything longer than the immediate term.

For example, of the three, Energy seems the simplest, and it is.  But even there, we note that the amount of energy that can and will be extracted is a function of the price of energy, available technology and skills, capital available for investment, and what's actually down there in the earth to be pulled up.  In that list, several factors are courtesy of the Economy, which is itself dependent on Energy. A glitch in one can feedback rapidly to create a glitch in the other.

Given all of this complexity, one good way to get a handle on things is to identify the scenarios we deem to be most likely given all available evidence, and then assign probabilities to each. Asking ourselves, What can we today to prepare for Scenario X? then allows us to begin constructing action plans to mitigate our vulnerability, and even better in cases, position ourselves to prosper as the future unfolds. 

Scenario #1:  A Slow Burn

In 2008, the practice of borrowing too much caught up with the developed world and a serious financial crisis threatened to take down the entire financial system.  Indeed, according to after-action reports from Hank Paulson (then Treasury Secretary) and Mervyn King (then BoE chairman), the world came within mere hours of a full-blown global banking system meltdown... » Read more

Blog

Returning to the 'Real'

The virtual is not an adequate substitute for the authentic
Tuesday, September 3, 2013, 11:34 AM

A paradox of life in these times is the inverse relationship between technological wizardry and the satisfactions of being a live organism in a real place (i.e., on the planet Earth).  It probably boils down to a proposition that the American public is not ready to entertain: that the virtual is not an adequate substitute for the authentic. Eventually it will be a hard lesson to learn. » Read more

Daily Digest

Image by ahisgett, Flickr Creative Commons

Daily Digest 8/12 - Waves of Trash in Indonesia, Sharp Rise In Antarctic Ocean Acidity

Monday, August 12, 2013, 10:33 AM
  • Gold bull or bear? Pick your timeline!
  • Meet the Low-Key, Low-Cost Grocery Chain Being Called ‘Walmart’s Worst Nightmare’
  • Economic Expansion Slows Down in Japan
  • Technology Industry Extends a Hand to Struggling Print Media
  • U.S. Energy Independence Doesn't Mean a Thing
  • Sharp rise in Antarctic seawater’s acidity
  • Photographer Captures Waves of Trash in Indonesia
  • New video: Jules Dervaes and his family at their Urban Homestead in Pasadena, California
Daily Digest

Image by Images_Of_Money, Flickr Creative Commons

Daily Digest 5/13 - Currency War Winners And Losers, Detroit Is Insolvent

Monday, May 13, 2013, 11:52 AM
  • Currency War: Winners And Losers
  • Detroit insolvent, EM Kevyn Orr says
  • Orr's Detroit report spurs worries over retiree pensions, benefits
  • EM to offer glimpse at Detroit's 'perfect storm of financial ruin'
  • No Mo' PoMo?
  • India Reluctant to Invest in Canada’s Oil & Gas Industry
  • Old Technology Fuels New Energy Boom
  • Illegal Fishing Linked to Seafood Fraud in New Report
  • Monsanto Wins Seed Case as High Court Backs Patent Rights
Blog

We've Dug a Pretty Damn Big Hole for Ourselves

How do we get out of this mess?
Monday, April 22, 2013, 10:15 PM

The diminishing returns of technology are insidious, and they are ever with us. By this I mean the slow erosion of the quality of life, despite the impression that technological wonders only make our lives better. » Read more

video

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It's very important to distinguish between facts, opinions, and beliefs. So let me be right upfront about this. I hold three beliefs, which I'm going to share with you and then spend the rest of our time showing you how I got to these beliefs.

The first is that the next twenty years are going to be completely unlike the last twenty years. Second, I believe that its possible that the pace and/or scope of change could overwhelm the ability of our key social and support institutions to adapt. Third, I believe we do not lack any technology or understanding necessary to build ourselves a better future.