Monday, May 25, 2015

Surplus Repression and the Self-Defeating Deep State

The nation is wallowing self-piteously in a fetid trough of denial and adolescent rage/magical thinking now that the nation's bogus, debt-based "prosperity" has crashed and cannot be restored.


If you type Deep State into the custom search window in the right sidebar, the search results fill 10 pages. I think it is fair to say I have long had a deep interest in the Deep State.


The Deep State is generally assumed to be monolithic: of one mind, so to speak, unified in worldview, strategy and goals.

In my view, this is an over-simplification of a constantly shifting battleground of paradigms and power between a number of factions and alliances within the Deep State.Disagreements are not publicized, of course, but they become apparent years or decades after the conflict was resolved, usually by one faction consolidating the Deep State's group-think around their worldview and strategy.

History suggests that this low-intensity conflict within the ruling Elite is generally a healthy characteristic of leadership in good times. As times grow more troubled, however, the unity of the ruling Elite fractures into irreconcilable political disunity, which becomes a proximate cause of the dissolution of the Empire if it continues.

I recently proposed the idea that Wall Street now poses a strategic threat to national security and thus to the Deep State itself: Who Gets Thrown Under the Bus in the Next Financial Crisis?(March 3, 2014)

Many consider it "impossible" that Wall Street could possibly lose its political grip on the nation's throat, but I suggest that Wall Street has over-reached, and is now teetering at the top of the S-Curve, i.e. it has reached Peak Wall Street.

Consider what the extremes of Wall Street/Federal Reserve predation, parasitism, avarice and power have done to the nation, and then ask if other factions within the Deep State are blind to the destructive consequences.

Frequent contributor B.C. recently submitted two working papers from the Deep State network that suggested rampant financialization was harming the real economy. This is powerful evidence that the corrosive consequences of financialization on the stability of the real economy is filtering into the group-think hive of the Deep State Network:

Why does financial sector growth crowd out real economic growth? (Bank for International Settlements) After studying how financial development affects aggregate productivity growth, we concluded that the level of financial development is good only up to a point, after which it becomes a drag on growth, and that a fast-growing financial sector is detrimental to aggregate productivity growth.

Here is a sketch of The Deep State Network, which includes not only the nodes of centralized power but of the institutions that feed and support the Deep State's decisions and policies. These include Ivy League and federally funded research universities, the Mainstream Media, think-tanks, NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and the spectrum of institutions that influence the public's ability to frame and contextualize events, i.e. the institutions of propaganda.


A recent interview with Deep State scholar Peter Dale Scott made me wonder if the increasingly repressive policies of the visible state are also being recognized as destabilizing and therefore a threat to the entire American Imperial Project.


Scott's key phrase is surplus repression, which I interpret to mean repression that exceeds the practical needs of the Deep State to maintain public order.

We can anticipate the Deep State fracturing over the question of how much repression is enough: those who believe there is no upper limit on the effectiveness of repression, and those who understand that at some point, unlimited policing and financial repression will unleash a social destabilization that will threaten the integrity of the Empire and the Deep State itself.
Here is an excerpt from the interview:

Peter Phillips: We’re really happy to have you here. I’ve just finished reading your book, The American Deep State: Wall Street, Big Oil, and the Attack on U.S. DemocracyIn your new book you talk about the egalitarian mindset culture of America. We believe in the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, open government, transparency. And then you say also that there’s a dark side, or a deep side inside America that’s repressive, that is looking to be able to detain people without warrants, warrantless wire tapping and all of that – there’s a repressive side. Can you tell us a little bit more about how you frame this understanding of this culture of repression?

Peter Dale Scott: Actually, I think there’s always been a deep state in America and there have been times when it has been very repressive. We’re in a period of, you might say, surplus repression – repression that doesn’t serve anyone’s interests, not even the interests of the ruling class. (emphasis by CHS)

But it’s not in its essence repressive; it’s just repressive when it wants to be. I think a lot of the trouble we’re in now, actually is – and I say this in my book – that in the 1970s the deep state – the bankers, the lawyers, the people in foundations, all kinds of people – were really quite terrified at the forces in America calling for revolution – the African-Americans, but also, equally and perhaps ultimately even more, the anti-war movement because if you had a successful anti-war movement that would mean America would have to get out of the business of war. And that was, I think, an intolerable thought for them.

I think the Deep State was terrified of more than the anti-war movement--it was terrified of the counter-culture, which threatened the entire status quo of mindless consumerism and obedience to authority.

The Counterculture, which included the culmination of the Civil Rights Movement and the birth/expansion of the feminist movement, Eastern spirituality in the U.S., back-to-the-land self-sufficiency, rock music as a cultural force, the nonviolent anti-war movement, the anti-nuclear movement, experimentation with communal living and drugs, Futurist concepts, and a widespread expansion of freedom of self-expression and experimentation. Many observers believe this era also launched a Fourth Awakening as evangelical denominations expanded and "Jesus freaks" found religious inspiration outside mainline churches.

The book What the Dormouse Said: How the 60s Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer makes a strong case that this era set the stage for the ultimate technological medium of experimentation and self-expression, the personal computer, which then led irresistibly to the World Wide Web (all the foundational technologies of the Internet were in place by 1969-- The first permanent ARPANET link was established on November 21, 1969, between UCLA and Stanford Research Institute.)

Which changed the world, of course. Those darn hippies!

The nation is wallowing self-piteously in a fetid trough of denial and adolescent rage/magical thinking now that the nation's bogus, debt-based "prosperity" has crashed and cannot be restored, though the visible state (Federal Reserve and elected officials) keep trying to glue Humpty Dumpty back back together again.

The Deep State has been busy powering up the immense machinery of full spectrum repression to contain the inevitable disarray that will follow the collapse of the nation's bogus, debt-based "prosperity."

Our best hope for a productive outcome is that the cadre of those inside the Deep State Network who grasp the self-defeating nature of repression will gain influence over their repression-obsessed peers. 



Get a Job, Build a Real Career and Defy a Bewildering Economy(Kindle, $9.95)(print, $20)
go to Kindle editionAre you like me? Ever since my first summer job decades ago, I've been chasing financial security. Not win-the-lottery, Bill Gates riches (although it would be nice!), but simply a feeling of financial control. I want my financial worries to if not disappear at least be manageable and comprehensible.  


And like most of you, the way I've moved toward my goal has always hinged not just on having a job but a career.


You don't have to be a financial blogger to know that "having a job" and "having a career" do not mean the same thing today as they did when I first started swinging a hammer for a paycheck.


Even the basic concept "getting a job" has changed so radically that jobs--getting and keeping them, and the perceived lack of them--is the number one financial topic among friends, family and for that matter, complete strangers.


So I sat down and wrote this book: Get a Job, Build a Real Career and Defy a Bewildering Economy.


It details everything I've verified about employment and the economy, and lays out an action plan to get you employed.


I am proud of this book. It is the culmination of both my practical work experiences and my financial analysis, and it is a useful, practical, and clarifying read.


Test drive the first section and see for yourself.     Kindle, $9.95     print, $20


"I want to thank you for creating your book Get a Job, Build a Real Career and Defy a Bewildering Economy. It is rare to find a person with a mind like yours, who can take a holistic systems view of things without being captured by specific perspectives or agendas. Your contribution to humanity is much appreciated."
Laura Y.

Gordon Long and I discuss The New Nature of Work: Jobs, Occupations & Careers(25 minutes, YouTube)
The Old Models of Work Are Broken 




NOTE: Contributions/subscriptions are acknowledged in the order received. Your name and email remain confidential and will not be given to any other individual, company or agency.


Thank you, Cudick A. ($100), for yet another outrageously generous contribution to this site-- I am greatly honored by your steadfast support and readership.

Read more...

Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Case for Nationalizing Monsanto

Ridding the world of Monsanto via a state buy-out would be a boon to humanity.


Capitalism fails in two situations: monopoly and state-capital cronyism. Monopoly extinguishes competition and that effectively extinguishes capitalism.

When the elites of the state and private capital collude, i.e. crony capitalism, the few gain power and wealth at the expense of the many.

The state (broadly speaking, government) fails when it serves the few at the expense of the many, while claiming to serve the interests of the many. The state only fulfills its purpose when it serves the interests of the many at the expense of the few who control the majority of the political power and private wealth.

Monsanto is the epitome of monopoly and crony-state collusion. But Monsanto's grip is not only on the throat of the nation-- through its monopoly on seeds that it enforces globally, its grip is strangling the entire world.

Monopolies on food, energy and water (what I term the FEW resources) are not like monopolies on discretionary goods and services. People have to pay whatever the monopoly charges, as substitutes are either unavailable, very expensive or under the control of the same cartel/quasi-monopoly.

Before Monsanto extended its grip as the state-enforced seed monopoly, state universities and extension services developed seed strains and provided the seeds for a nominal cost.Over time, this publicly owned and managed system of providing low-cost seeds has eroded under pressure from for-profit private firms such as Monsanto and the benign neglect of a government that has been captured by private interests and self-serving elites.

The supposed benefits of costly monopoly-developed GMO seeds is increasingly being questioned: Plant Breeding vs. GMOs: Conventional Methods Lead the Way in Responding to Climate Change.

The rapid advance of gene sequencing is opening new doors for much quicker development of conventional plant breeding techniques that require no genetic modification (GMO).

If the American people wanted to bestow a gift to the world that would be valued by billions of people yet would cost the American citizenry a ridiculously modest sum, it would be to nationalize Monsanto and provide its seed products for free. To do this requires letting go of all the self-serving neoliberal fantasies that crony-capitalists propagandize to protect their monopolies: for example, only the profit motive drives innovation, so only private companies can supply the world with advanced seeds.

All this propaganda boils down to defending monopoly and cronyism as capitalism--The Big Lie of all monopolists and crony-capitalists. This was the reason given for privatizing publicly owned utilities that are then transformed into highly profitable monopolies--the precise opposite of capitalism's primary engine of innovation.

Monsanto is worth around $57 billion. Compare this to the Federal debt of $18 trillion, or the full lifecycle cost of the bloated F-35 fighter aircraft program, which weighs in at $1 trillion. We should also compare $60 billion with the $16.8 trillion that the Federal Reserve loaned the world's too big to jail banks.


Ridding the world of Monsanto via a state buy-out would be a boon to humanity, and doing so for a mere $57 billion would be a bargain--especially when you consider the $3 trillion the state has squandered on endless wars of choice and the trillions of dollars the Federal Reserve and the government have squandered propping up the self-serving, parasitic cartel of too big to jail banks. 



Get a Job, Build a Real Career and Defy a Bewildering Economy(Kindle, $9.95)(print, $20)
go to Kindle editionAre you like me? Ever since my first summer job decades ago, I've been chasing financial security. Not win-the-lottery, Bill Gates riches (although it would be nice!), but simply a feeling of financial control. I want my financial worries to if not disappear at least be manageable and comprehensible.  


And like most of you, the way I've moved toward my goal has always hinged not just on having a job but a career.

You don't have to be a financial blogger to know that "having a job" and "having a career" do not mean the same thing today as they did when I first started swinging a hammer for a paycheck.


Even the basic concept "getting a job" has changed so radically that jobs--getting and keeping them, and the perceived lack of them--is the number one financial topic among friends, family and for that matter, complete strangers.


So I sat down and wrote this book: Get a Job, Build a Real Career and Defy a Bewildering Economy.


It details everything I've verified about employment and the economy, and lays out an action plan to get you employed.


I am proud of this book. It is the culmination of both my practical work experiences and my financial analysis, and it is a useful, practical, and clarifying read.


Test drive the first section and see for yourself.     Kindle, $9.95     print, $20


"I want to thank you for creating your book Get a Job, Build a Real Career and Defy a Bewildering Economy. It is rare to find a person with a mind like yours, who can take a holistic systems view of things without being captured by specific perspectives or agendas. Your contribution to humanity is much appreciated."
Laura Y.

Gordon Long and I discuss The New Nature of Work: Jobs, Occupations & Careers(25 minutes, YouTube)
The Old Models of Work Are Broken 




NOTE: Contributions/subscriptions are acknowledged in the order received. Your name and email remain confidential and will not be given to any other individual, company or agency.

Thank you, Jon J. ($50), for your magnificently generous contribution to this site-- I am greatly honored by your support and readership.

Read more...

Friday, May 22, 2015

Our Crazy-Making Economy's Endgame: Festering Frustration Seeking an Outlet

The consequence of policies that exacerbate injustice, inequality and double-bind demands is a madness that will find a social and economic outlet somewhere, sometime.


We all know crazy-makers: people who make contradictory claims about reality, who say one thing and do another, who change their stories constantly to justify their own pursuit of self-interest, who demand the impossible of others while giving themselves unlimited excuses.

When they can't change reality to suit their purposes, they change their accounts of reality, and stick with the revised stories even when they are contradictory.

This describes the entire financial structure of the U.S.: crazy-making.

We all know the U.S. economy is diseased, and the Powers That Be are attempting to mask the sickness with contradictory accounts of reality.

To get ahead, you need a 4-year college diploma. But oops, the student debt you'll need to shoulder acts as a brake on getting ahead. And it turns out many of those who became debt-serfs to get a diploma actually end up in jobs that don't require a college education.

One reality--soaring student loan debt and diminishing value of the product, a college diploma--and two contradictory stories.

Systems theorist/anthropologistGregory Bateson developed (with others) the concept of double bind, a psychological and social conflict in which contradictory demands generate a form of schizophrenia:
Unlike the usual no-win situation, the subject has difficulty in defining the exact nature of the paradoxical situation in which he or she is caught. The contradiction may be unexpressed in its immediate context and therefore invisible to external observers, only becoming evident when a prior communication is considered. Typically, a demand is imposed upon the subject by someone who they respect (such as a parent, teacher or doctor) but the demand itself is inherently impossible to fulfill because some broader context forbids it. For example, this situation arises when a person in a position of authority imposes two contradictory conditions but there exists an unspoken rule that one must never question authority.
Consider the schizophrenia-generating contradictions underpinning all U.S. economic policy.

We have to keep interest rates near-zero forever because the economy is weak, but the economy is strong--look at the low unemployment rate.

Well, which one is it? The official answer: both. The U.S. economy is both strong and weak at the same time. Interestingly, it's strong in terms of official measures of employment and jobs, but weak in financial terms.

This means there's nothing to be fixed for those working for a living, and everything to fix for financiers and banks, who are struggling due to weak financial fundamentals.

Meanwhile, corporate and financier profits are soaring to record levels and wages have stagnated for years. Wait a minute--weren't we just told that the financial fundamentals are weak, hence the need for zero interest rates for ever, and that job growth was strong?

These are internally inconsistent accounts of reality, i.e. crazy-making. Here are corporate profits--to the moon, baby:


Here are wages/salaries: going nowhere for 15 years (or 40 years, if we go back to the 1970s):


Financialization has enriched the few with access to free money for financiers and those who own assets favored by the Fed and left everyone earning a living in the dust:


The Federal Reserve insists on maintaining this crazy-making double bind because the stock market depends on both conditions being true at the same time: the economy must be expanding so profits can loft ever higher, but the economy must also be weak and ill so the Fed will continue its policies of zero interest rates (ZIRP) and free money for financiers that have pumped trillions of dollars into "risk-on" assets like stocks.

If either of these contradictory conditions is erased, the stock market will tumble, as neither a weak economy nor zero interest rates (ZIRP) alone is sufficient to maintain the stock market's current sky-high valuations: profits must continue rising and rates must stay zero to enable carry trades, stock buy-backs, and all the other financial finagling that has driven stocks into the stratosphere.

In effect, the Fed and all the other organs of propaganda are telling the American public: don't you dare trust your lying eyes, ears, mind and awareness of rising insecurity--believe us.

Crazy-making contradictions generate free-floating anxiety, frustration and rage that then seek an outlet. The essence of official crazy-making is that dissent--protests that the official stories are patently false--is suppressed, marginalized or ridiculed. This is the purpose of a militarized Police State--to suppress anything that questions authority and that might undermine the schizophrenic policies and propaganda.

The endgame of crazy-making is that just about anything can suddenly become an outlet for the rage, frustration and anxiety that is the only possible output of schizophrenic policies. A minor civil disturbance morphs into a major riot; a limited melee at a sports event metastasizes into a destructive free-for-all, and a peaceful gathering turns ugly seemingly without cause.

These are expressions of the social and economic double-binds that are being imposed on the citizenry as the last-ditch method of retaining control of the nation's wealth and power--both of which are flowing into the hands of the few at the expense of the many.

You can impose crazy-making policies and propagandize a schizophrenic economy, but you can't bottle up the resulting frustration, anxiety and rage forever. Our oligarchic Elite reckons it can suppress anything and everything with Police State tactics, but the madness they have created will not be so easily controlled.

The consequence of policies that exacerbate injustice, inequality and double-bind demands is a madness that will find a social and economic outlet somewhere, sometime, and probably at a moment when few in the Power Elite expect it.

Administrative note: I apologize for the lack of email response; the past few weeks have been brutal and my time online has been extremely limited. Thank you for your understanding and patience. 



Get a Job, Build a Real Career and Defy a Bewildering Economy(Kindle, $9.95)(print, $20)
go to Kindle edition
Are you like me? Ever since my first summer job decades ago, I've been chasing financial security. Not win-the-lottery, Bill Gates riches (although it would be nice!), but simply a feeling of financial control. I want my financial worries to if not disappear at least be manageable and comprehensible. 


And like most of you, the way I've moved toward my goal has always hinged not just on having a job but a career.

You don't have to be a financial blogger to know that "having a job" and "having a career" do not mean the same thing today as they did when I first started swinging a hammer for a paycheck.


Even the basic concept "getting a job" has changed so radically that jobs--getting and keeping them, and the perceived lack of them--is the number one financial topic among friends, family and for that matter, complete strangers.


So I sat down and wrote this book: Get a Job, Build a Real Career and Defy a Bewildering Economy.


It details everything I've verified about employment and the economy, and lays out an action plan to get you employed.


I am proud of this book. It is the culmination of both my practical work experiences and my financial analysis, and it is a useful, practical, and clarifying read.


Test drive the first section and see for yourself.     Kindle, $9.95     print, $20


"I want to thank you for creating your book Get a Job, Build a Real Career and Defy a Bewildering Economy. It is rare to find a person with a mind like yours, who can take a holistic systems view of things without being captured by specific perspectives or agendas. Your contribution to humanity is much appreciated."
Laura Y.

Gordon Long and I discuss The New Nature of Work: Jobs, Occupations & Careers(25 minutes, YouTube)


The Old Models of Work Are Broken 



NOTE: Contributions/subscriptions are acknowledged in the order received. Your name and email remain confidential and will not be given to any other individual, company or agency.

Thank you, Carolyn B. ($25), for your superbly generous contribution to this site-- I am greatly honored by your support and readership.

Read more...

Thursday, May 21, 2015

When the Current Housing Bubble Finally Bursts

Bubbles are followed by echo-bubbles, and the bursting of the second bubble ends the speculative cycle.


If we have learned anything in the past 20 years of massive asset bubbles and equally massive declines when the bubbles finally pop, it's this: those caught up in the expansionary phase of the bubble cannot believe the bubble that's rewarding them so richly could actually burst.

This psychology of mass delusion now dominates housing, stocks and bonds: not only is this not a bubble, the expansion will continue forever.

History, however, suggests otherwise: all bubbles burst, period. With that in mind, I've made a few notes on a chart of the Case-Shiller Home Price Index. This chart displays both the nation Case-Shiller index and the San Francisco Bay Area index.


Over the long-term, housing has tended to rise about 1% annually above inflation. According to the Bureau of labor Statistics, $1 in pre-bubble 1997 is $1.46 in 2015 dollars. A 1% gain over the past 17 years adds 18.4%.
If we add inflation and a 1% annual gain, we find a historically justified target around 110 on the Case-Shiller index.

One of the more striking characteristics of bubbles is their symmetry: if the expansionary phase took 3 years, the bursting phase also takes around 3 years to complete.

The last housing bubble took about 3 years from peak to trough, and this provides a baseline projection for the decline of the current housing bubble, which is shaping up as a classic echo-bubble: very much like the previous bubble, but of slightly lower magnitude.

The projected decline over the next three years to the 110 level is the best-case scenario. Analyst Mark Hanson made a very persuasive case for a much sharper drop when the current housing bubble pops: Mark Hanson Is In "Full-Blown, Black-Swan Lookout Mode" For Housing Bubble 2.0.

In essence, Hanson suggests that the narrow base of the current bubble expansion--all cash buyers (speculators, private-equity funds, overseas oligarchs and corrupt officials, etc.) and marginal borrowers relying on highly leveraged FHA and VA mortgages--will collapse much quicker than the previous bubble, which was inflated by a much larger base of market participants.

Bubbles also have a habit of overshooting when they finally burst. the Federal Reserve acted quickly to re-inflate the housing bubble by lowering interest rates to near-zero and buying over $1 trillion of mortgage-backed securities. Given the narrow base of the current bubble, these tricks will not work should the Fed attempt to inflate Housing Bubble 3.0.

In general, bubbles are followed by echo-bubbles, and the bursting of the second bubble ends the speculative cycle. There is no fundamental reason why housing could not round-trip to levels well below 100 on the Case-Shiller Index when the current bubble finally bursts.

If Mark Hanson's analysis is prescient, it may not require 3 years for the current housing bubble to implode; 2 years (2017) might be more than enough time for the speculative excesses to evaporate.

As I have noted before, when the herd turns, risk-on bids disappear, and the bottom drops out of the market much faster than participants believe is possible. 



Get a Job, Build a Real Career and Defy a Bewildering Economy(Kindle, $9.95)(print, $20)
go to Kindle edition
Are you like me? Ever since my first summer job decades ago, I've been chasing financial security. Not win-the-lottery, Bill Gates riches (although it would be nice!), but simply a feeling of financial control. I want my financial worries to if not disappear at least be manageable and comprehensible.  


And like most of you, the way I've moved toward my goal has always hinged not just on having a job but a career.

You don't have to be a financial blogger to know that "having a job" and "having a career" do not mean the same thing today as they did when I first started swinging a hammer for a paycheck.


Even the basic concept "getting a job" has changed so radically that jobs--getting and keeping them, and the perceived lack of them--is the number one financial topic among friends, family and for that matter, complete strangers.


So I sat down and wrote this book: Get a Job, Build a Real Career and Defy a Bewildering Economy.


It details everything I've verified about employment and the economy, and lays out an action plan to get you employed.


I am proud of this book. It is the culmination of both my practical work experiences and my financial analysis, and it is a useful, practical, and clarifying read.


Test drive the first section and see for yourself.     Kindle, $9.95     print, $20


"I want to thank you for creating your book Get a Job, Build a Real Career and Defy a Bewildering Economy. It is rare to find a person with a mind like yours, who can take a holistic systems view of things without being captured by specific perspectives or agendas. Your contribution to humanity is much appreciated."
Laura Y.

Gordon Long and I discuss The New Nature of Work: Jobs, Occupations & Careers(25 minutes, YouTube)
The Old Models of Work Are Broken 




NOTE: Contributions/subscriptions are acknowledged in the order received. Your name and email remain confidential and will not be given to any other individual, company or agency.

Thank you, Adam S. ($20), for your remarkably generous contribution to this site-- I am greatly honored by your support and readership.

Read more...

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Our Social Depression

This erosion of opportunities to complete life's stages and core dramas is rarely recognized, much less addressed.


The consequences of economic stagnation are not limited to finance: stagnation is causing a social depression. We can best understand this social depression by examining how the natural stages of human life are being disrupted.

Confucian thought views life as a developmental process with seven stages, each roughly corresponding to a decade: childhood, young adulthood (16-30), age of independence (30-39), age of mental independence (40-49), age of spiritual maturity (50-59), age of acceptance (60-69), and age of unification (70 - end of life).

Each stage has various tasks, goals and duties, which establish the foundation for the next stage.

I see each stage as centered on a core human drama: for the teenager, establishing an identity and life that is independent of parents; for the young adult, finding a mate and establishing a career; for the middle-aged, navigating the challenges of raising children and establishing some measure of financial security; for those in late middle-age, helping offspring reach independent adulthood and caring for aging parents; early old age, seeking fulfillment now that life's primary duties have been accomplished and managing one's health; and old age, the passage of accepting mortality and the loss of vitality.

The End of Secure Work and the diminishing returns of financialization are disrupting these core human dramas and frustrating those who are unable to proceed to the next stage of life:

1. Teenagers are being pressured to focus their lives on achieving a conventional financial success (see "Training for Discontent" in From Left Field) that is becoming harder to achieve.

2. Young adults without secure full-time careers cannot afford marriage or children, so they extend the self-absorption of late adolescence into middle age.

3. The middle-aged are finding financial security elusive or out of reach as they struggle to fund their young adult children, aging parents and their own retirement.

4. Increasing longevity is pressuring the late-middle-aged's stage of fulfillment, as elderly parents may require care even as their children reach their own retirement (65-70).

The financial pressures generated by the demise of financialization and the End of Secure Work are not just disrupting each stage; they are disrupting essential financial balances between the young, the middle-aged and the old.

The elderly, protected by generous social welfare benefits paid by current taxpayers, also benefit from the soaring value of assets such as real estate and stocks. Meanwhile, financialization's asset bubbles have pushed housing beyond the reach of most young people.

Downsizing, lay-offs, low-paying replacement work and poor decisions to buy houses near the peak of the prior bubble have left many of the middle-aged with high fixed costs and a stagnant or increasingly insecure income.

The stresses of trying to make enough money to afford what was once assumed to be a birthright--a "middle class" lifestyle--is taking a heavy toll on the mental and physical health of the middle-aged, leaving many of them too tired for any fulfilling activities and easy prey for destructive self-medication.

This erosion of opportunities to complete life's stages and core dramas is rarely recognized, much less addressed. We are constantly bombarded with messages to innovate, keep up, be fulfilled, etc.--essentially impossible demands for those with multiple generational and/or business duties.

When I talk about the Mobile Creative class, I'm not talking about a finance-centric definition of success or a path to join the top 5% in Corporate America and the government. The herd is chasing those dwindling slots, too, guaranteeing frustration and failure for the 95% who won't secure one of those slots. That is the essence of our social depression.

What we're discussing is a way of living that places a premium on independent thinking, maintaining very low fixed costs, establishing a healthy honesty with oneself and one's associates and customers, the ability to make realistic assessments of oneself, one's successes, failures and errors, and a focus on challenges, opportunities, risks, adaptability, flexibility and experimentation, all with a goal of building one's own human, social and physical capital--the foundations not just of well-being but of any meaningful measure of wealth.

This essay was drawn from Musings Report 20. The Musings are sent weekly to subscribers and major financial contributors (those who contribute $50 or more annually). 



Get a Job, Build a Real Career and Defy a Bewildering Economy(Kindle, $9.95)(print, $20)
go to Kindle edition
Are you like me? Ever since my first summer job decades ago, I've been chasing financial security. Not win-the-lottery, Bill Gates riches (although it would be nice!), but simply a feeling of financial control. I want my financial worries to if not disappear at least be manageable and comprehensible. 


And like most of you, the way I've moved toward my goal has always hinged not just on having a job but a career.

You don't have to be a financial blogger to know that "having a job" and "having a career" do not mean the same thing today as they did when I first started swinging a hammer for a paycheck.


Even the basic concept "getting a job" has changed so radically that jobs--getting and keeping them, and the perceived lack of them--is the number one financial topic among friends, family and for that matter, complete strangers.


So I sat down and wrote this book: Get a Job, Build a Real Career and Defy a Bewildering Economy.


It details everything I've verified about employment and the economy, and lays out an action plan to get you employed.


I am proud of this book. It is the culmination of both my practical work experiences and my financial analysis, and it is a useful, practical, and clarifying read.


Test drive the first section and see for yourself.     Kindle, $9.95     print, $20


"I want to thank you for creating your book Get a Job, Build a Real Career and Defy a Bewildering Economy. It is rare to find a person with a mind like yours, who can take a holistic systems view of things without being captured by specific perspectives or agendas. Your contribution to humanity is much appreciated."
Laura Y.

Gordon Long and I discuss The New Nature of Work: Jobs, Occupations & Careers(25 minutes, YouTube)
The Old Models of Work Are Broken 




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