Sunday, November 24, 2013

Taking Stock of the 21st Century: What's Fundamentally Different

The constant dismissal of unprecedented extremes as "same as it ever was" is actually a pernicious form of perception management, i.e. propaganda.

Anyone suggesting that things are unraveling in fundamental ways quickly encounters a standard reflex response: "same as it ever was."

Environmental degradation? Same as it ever was: humans have been trashing the environment for thousands of years.

The influence of money in politics? Same as it ever was: money has always been the mother's milk of politics.

The dominance of central bankers? Same as it ever was: the banks and the Federal Reserve have been colluding for decades.

Income inequality? Same as it ever was: there will always be rich and poor, etc.

The rise of the National Security State/Empire? Same as it ever was: Manifest Destiny, etc.

History lessons are all well and good, but this constant refrain of "same as it ever was" is actually a pernicious form of perception management, i.e. propaganda.The claim that "there is nothing new under the sun" (and therefore there is nothing we can do but throw up our hands in passive acceptance of the status quo) may well be true of human nature, but it purposefully masks all the fundamental changes that are not "same as it ever was."

The seas, for example: we're losing the oceans. The scale of destruction is not "same as it ever was." The Consequences of Oceanic Destruction (Foreign Affairs) Over the last several decades, human activities have so altered the basic chemistry of the seas that they are now experiencing evolution in reverse: a return to the barren primeval waters of hundreds of millions of years ago.

Or how about youth employment? Is this "same as it ever was?" Clearly, no. It has entered a new structural decline without precedent.

How about the cost of college tuition? Is this "same as it ever was?" Clearly, no.

How about self-employment? Is this "same as it ever was?" Clearly, no.

How about small business? Is this "same as it ever was?" Clearly, no.

How about labor's share of the economy? Is this "same as it ever was?" Clearly, no.

How about household income? Is this "same as it ever was?" If real income had been declining for the past 50 years at this rate, it would be near-zero by now.

How about the ratio of full-time workers to retirees drawing Social Security benefits? Is this "same as it ever was?" Clearly, no. The ratio is now two full-time workers to one beneficiary, and the Baby Boom has only started to retire. On the employment side, the "end of work" dynamics have only started their creative destruction of jobs. "Same as it ever was?" Not even close.

How about money velocity? Is this "same as it ever was?" Clearly, no.

How about the positive effects of central-state borrowing and spending, i.e. the Keynesian Multiplier? Is this "same as it ever was?" Clearly, no.

How about the structural gap between Federal spending and tax revenues? Is this "same as it ever was?" It's easy to project a fantasy-based future in which "deficits never matter" or tax revenues soar even in a stagnant economy beset by skyrocketing Federal retirement/healthcare costs. The desire to believe in fantasies may be "same as it ever was," but the fiscal reality is not.

How about the nation's monetary base? Is this "same as it ever was?" Clearly, no.

How about corporate profits? Is this "same as it ever was?" Clearly, no.

How about the correlation of the Federal Reserve balance sheet and the S&P 500? Is this "same as it ever was?"

How about the gap between nominal new highs in the stock market and the real (inflation-adjusted) stock market? Is this "same as it ever was?"

How about the number of times per week that a representative of the Federal Reserve gives a speech whose implicit message is the importance of the Federal Reserve? Is this "same as it ever was?" Did Fed-Heads fan out every week 20 or 30 years ago to deliver dozens of speeches and media appearances? The answer is no; so what are these people selling that they have to do their shuck-and-jive act so repetitively? What sort of desperation is driving this full-court press of propaganda?

The desperation is obvious, and so is the agenda: mask the reality that things are unraveling, and that it's no longer "same as it ever was."

The Nearly Free University and The Emerging Economy:
The Revolution in Higher Education

Reconnecting higher education, livelihoods and the economy
With the soaring cost of higher education, has the value a college degree been turned upside down? College tuition and fees are up 1000% since 1980. Half of all recent college graduates are jobless or underemployed, revealing a deep disconnect between higher education and the job market.

It is no surprise everyone is asking: Where is the return on investment? Is the assumption that higher education returns greater prosperity no longer true? And if this is the case, how does this impact you, your children and grandchildren?

go to Kindle edition
We must thoroughly understand the twin revolutions now fundamentally changing our world: The true cost of higher education and an economy that seems to re-shape itself minute to minute.

The Nearly Free University and the Emerging Economy clearly describes the underlying dynamics at work - and, more importantly, lays out a new low-cost model for higher education: how digital technology is enabling a revolution in higher education that dramatically lowers costs while expanding the opportunities for students of all ages.

The Nearly Free University and the Emerging Economy provides clarity and optimism in a period of the greatest change our educational systems and society have seen, and offers everyone the tools needed to prosper in the Emerging Economy.

Read the Foreword, first section and the Table of Contents.

print ($20)       Kindle ($9.95) 

Things are falling apart--that is obvious. But why are they falling apart? The reasons are complex and global. Our economy and society have structural problems that cannot be solved by adding debt to debt. We are becoming poorer, not just from financial over-reach, but from fundamental forces that are not easy to identify. We will cover the five core reasons why things are falling apart:

go to print edition1. Debt and financialization
2. Crony capitalism
3. Diminishing returns
4. Centralization
5. Technological, financial and demographic changes in our economy

Complex systems weakened by diminishing returns collapse under their own weight and are replaced by systems that are simpler, faster and affordable. If we cling to the old ways, our system will disintegrate. If we want sustainable prosperity rather than collapse, we must embrace a new model that is Decentralized, Adaptive, Transparent and Accountable (DATA).

We are not powerless. Once we accept responsibility, we become powerful.

Kindle: $9.95       print: $24 

Thank you, Robert B. ($100), for your outrageously generous contribution to this site-- I am greatly honored by your support and readership.

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