Thursday, March 31, 2022

It's All the Aliens' Fault

As for our central banks' defaulting on their lines of credit with the Martian Central Bank--that's another alien intervention we'll live to regret.

I hope this won't shock the more sensitive readers too greatly, but I've discovered undeniable evidence that all our planet's problems are the result of alien intervention. Yes, aliens exist and are actively intervening in humanity's activities, to our great detriment.

Wars, plagues, The Illuminati, the World Economic Forum, the Great Reset, locust swarms, mega-droughts, endless spam, robo-calls, strange lights, billionaires' cupidity, Windows 11, iOS 15, the futility of trying to reach the IRS by phone, the astounding rise of irrationality, that weird feeling of being watched and the grotesque decline of entertainment-- all are the fault of the aliens.

Through means which must remain secret for your own security, I have learned that our entire planet is the site of a multi-player game for alien teens. It seems points are scored by creating mass mayhem as indirectly as possible. This explains quite a bit about our current state of affairs.

Rather than suppress the young rascals ruining our fair planet, the alien elders view the mayhem on Earth as entertainment. Earth Mayhem is reportedly a popular channel in their galactic amusement menu. They apparently take great delight in our blindness to what they see as painfully obvious interventions.

I know it's not much solace, but the game prohibits direct strikes by meteors and death rays from alien vessels. The highest scores are apparently given to nudging mayhem from mere potential to mass manifestation. The alien youth reportedly find it extremely amusing to make use of human greed, credulity and rapaciousness.

Masters of our own fate: sorry, no. We are the curiously prideful playthings of mocking teens with way too much time and power on their hands. We're doomed unless the Gamesters of Triskelion or other alien gamers take pity on us and free us from the terrible grasp of alien teen gamers.

As for our central banks' defaulting on their lines of credit with the Martian Central Bank--that's another alien intervention we'll live to regret.




My new book is now available at a 10% discount this month: Global Crisis, National Renewal: A (Revolutionary) Grand Strategy for the United States (Kindle $8.95, print $20)

If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.



Recent Videos/Podcasts:

Charles Hugh Smith on The Great Awakening Vision (Part II, 36 minutes, with Richard Bonugli)

Charles Hugh Smith on The Great Reset Agenda (Part I, 42 minutes, with Richard Bonugli)


My recent books:

Global Crisis, National Renewal: A (Revolutionary) Grand Strategy for the United States (Kindle $9.95, print $25, audiobook) Read Chapter One for free (PDF).

A Hacker's Teleology: Sharing the Wealth of Our Shrinking Planet (Kindle $8.95, print $20, audiobook $17.46) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Will You Be Richer or Poorer?: Profit, Power, and AI in a Traumatized World
(Kindle $5, print $10, audiobook) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic ($5 Kindle, $10 print, ( audiobook): Read the first section for free (PDF).

The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake $1.29 Kindle, $8.95 print); read the first chapters for free (PDF)

Money and Work Unchained $6.95 Kindle, $15 print)
Read the first section for free



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Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Cancel the Funeral for the US Dollar: The "Patient" Just Leaped Out of the Coffin

Sealing the USD's coffin requires conjuring up a replacement reserve currency, and that turns out to be a lot more challenging than many understand.

You know the scene in movies where the body-bag is being zipped up or the coffin lid slid into place when the recently deceased startles everyone by suddenly sitting upright? That's an analogy for the funeral currently being planned for the US dollar--a funeral that has been cancelled.

OK, I get it: there are plenty of reasons why so many expect the dollar to die: it's a fiat currency, for goodness sakes, and those always die sooner than expected; US debt is soaring like an Elon Musk rocket; its purchasing power is in freefall; America's unipolar moment is history in a multi-polar world, and let's face it, it's simply not as pretty as other currencies.

Die, dollar, die!

But sealing the USD's coffin requires conjuring up a replacement reserve currency, and that turns out to be a lot more challenging than many understand.

The "death of the dollar" narrative ignores several critical requirements for a reserve currency:

a)  Scale: a reserve currency, fiat or otherwise, must have sufficient units in circulation for commerce, credit expansion and debt service and to hold as reserves. Proposed replacements lack the scale to replace the USD.

b)  Free float: The reserve currency must be allowed to float freely on the global FX markets so participants know the price is being discovered by the market rather than imposed by the issuing nation's leaders.

c)  Backed by interest-bearing bonds that float freely: The reserve currency must be backed by interest-bearing bonds that are priced by the global marketplace, i.e. the value is transparently discovered by markets.

Historically, no fiat currency backed by free-floating interest-bearing bonds has hyper-inflated. Note that "money" can be "printed" or it can be created by the issuance of a new asset, i.e. a sovereign bond paying interest to the owner. The combination of a transparent market discovering price and offering liquidity and the interest paid doesn't lend itself to hyper-inflation because the dynamics of markets act as governors on "money" creation and bond issuance. If the yield is too low for the risk, buyers disappear and the market for new issuance crashes.

Yes, central banks can monetize sovereign debt but central planning is no replacement for the market.

d) Liquid: Both the currency and the bonds must be extremely liquid so a significant percentage of the currency and bonds outstanding can be bought and sold daily. Holders of the bonds and currency must be confident that they can sell in size at any time.

e) Unpegged: All currencies pegged to the USD are essentially proxies of the USD. No currency can be a reserve currency unless it is unpegged and its value discovered transparently by the market, not by a peg managed by central planners.

f)  Convertibility: Many expect gold-backed currencies to rule the world. There is a critical difference between an abstract (and therefore meaningless) claim "backed by gold" and "convertibility to gold" Convertibility means the paper currency can be converted to gold by sovereign holders. When the US dollar was "backed by gold" in the 1960s, this meant France could submit US dollars and receive gold in exchange for the USD. The dollars were convertible into gold.

True "backed by gold" means the currency would have to be convertible to gold on demand. Anything less means the currency isn't actually backed by gold, it's only backed by shuck and jive involving the word "gold."

Let's imagine a currency that is convertible to gold. Let's call it the yuan, oops, I mean the quatloo. So why would anyone hold quatloos when they could convert the paper currency into the real deal, gold? Which would you trust more, the issued paper or the gold itself? Which would you rather hold in a crisis? With the currency, there's a very iffy dependency chain connecting the gold to the currency. With the gold, there's no dependency chain: you have the gold, period.

(Note to self: no wonder I've been called a gold bug for 15 years...)

The quatloo's gold reserves would quickly be depleted in a true convertibility of currency "backed by gold." This is precisely what happened to the US gold hoard in the late 1960s: the gold was being shipped overseas at a rate that would have reduced the nation's gold holdings to zero had the convertibility not been closed.

g) The sum of the parts: The value of a fiat currency is based on more than its sovereign debt and bond yield. The currency's value reflects the entirety of the issuing entity's wealth, economic social and political stability, productivity and financial reliability, with that reliability being set by the entity's reliance on transparent, liquid markets to discover price and value.

h) Markets are transparent, central planning is not: Centrally planned economies are simply not trustworthy financially because they are inherently opaque and are prone to central-planning directives that change the rules and valuations without warning or recourse. The processes of central-planning directives are opaque and therefore unpredictable and not to be counted on.

The requirements of a replacement for the USD are high and no other currency is close to meeting these requirements: vast scale, free float, backed by interest bearing bonds whose price is discovered by markets, extremely liquid markets for the the currency and bonds, the processes that affect valuation are transparent to all holders, and the currency is issued by a transparent system reliant on markets discovering the price of the currency, bonds and risk.

I know, I know, the dollar will die--but not just yet.

The Empire Will Strike Back: Dollar Supremacy Is the Fed's Imperial Mandate (August 18, 2020)




My new book is now available at a 10% discount this month: Global Crisis, National Renewal: A (Revolutionary) Grand Strategy for the United States (Kindle $8.95, print $20)

If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.



Recent Videos/Podcasts:

Charles Hugh Smith on The Great Awakening Vision (Part II, 36 minutes, with Richard Bonugli)

Charles Hugh Smith on The Great Reset Agenda (Part I, 42 minutes, with Richard Bonugli)


My recent books:

Global Crisis, National Renewal: A (Revolutionary) Grand Strategy for the United States (Kindle $9.95, print $25, audiobook) Read Chapter One for free (PDF).

A Hacker's Teleology: Sharing the Wealth of Our Shrinking Planet (Kindle $8.95, print $20, audiobook $17.46) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Will You Be Richer or Poorer?: Profit, Power, and AI in a Traumatized World
(Kindle $5, print $10, audiobook) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic ($5 Kindle, $10 print, ( audiobook): Read the first section for free (PDF).

The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake $1.29 Kindle, $8.95 print); read the first chapters for free (PDF)

Money and Work Unchained $6.95 Kindle, $15 print)
Read the first section for free



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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.

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Sunday, March 27, 2022

Calm Before the Storm?

Stocks don't vanish when sold; somebody owns the shares all the way to the bottom. These owners who refuse to sell because they have convinced themselves the next dip will be the hoped-for resumption of the bullish trend are called "bagholders."

Trends are tricky. Humans anticipate the present conditions will continue on into the future. In economics and finance, we call this continuation a "trend." Trends continue until something fundamental changes and the trend takes a new course.

If asset prices, credit, sales, jobs, tax revenues and profits are all expanding, we call this trend "bullish."

If the economy and asset prices are contracting, we call this "bearish."

People are much happier in bullish trends because they're making money without any effort as the assets they own are going up in value. They feel wealthier and so they borrow and spend more money, which furthers the expansion.

This self-reinforcing feedback reverses in bearish trends as people feel poorer so they borrow and spend less, reducing demand for goods and services.

People don't like feeling poorer so bear trends are not favored. The focus of those in power is to reverse any bear trend into a bull trend and extend the bull trend as long as possible.

But eventually every bull trend runs into limits. People borrow the maximum their income can support and then they borrow more to bet that assets will continue rising in value.

This flood of money pushes assets up far beyond their previous value, disconnecting them from the fundamentals of yields, replacement value, etc.

As valuations soar, those who bought the assets find that most of their profits are capital gains from the rising value, not from income. So they buy more assets, expecting the trend of soaring valuations to continue more or less indefinitely.

But valuations only rise when demand from buyers exceeds the supply offered by sellers. Once the valuation bubble reaches a peak, sellers who decide to take profits or sell to pay down debt exceed demand from new buyers and valuations decline.

This is called "the credit cycle" or "the business cycle" but it's really a cycle of human nature: when gains are effortless, we want to increase our gains, so we increase our borrowing, leverage and risk to buy more assets.

"Investment" becomes pure speculation unmoored from fundamentals. Eventually valuations, leverage and debt all reach extremes and so valuations, debt and leverage all start to contract.

The euphoria of getting effortlessly richer is replaced by the fear of getting painfully poorer, and so buyers turn into sellers.

This becomes a self-reinforcing feedback: as valuations drop, more people decide it's time to sell. Once valuations decline, owners who bought more stocks with debt are forced to sell by margin calls.

What makes this transition interesting is that humans are reluctant to let go of a trend that has been good to them. The natural tendency is to think /assume / hope that the asset that is sinking will stop sinking and recover its former bullish trend.

During expansive trends, this "buying the dip"--buying more of an asset whenever it drops--is rewarded, as every downturn is brief and the uptrend soon resumes.

But once the trend has reversed, "buying the dip" is no longer rewarded, it is punished, as valuations continue sliding.

Experienced traders look for evidence of this transition because they've learned the hard way that those who cling on to the idea that the bull trend is basically forever because The Powers That Be want it to be forever end up losing most of their wealth.

Inexperienced traders have great difficulty believing the effortless gains are ending, as the majority of traders are still bullish and the financial media is also bullish. It's easy to find convincing reasons to believe the bullish expansion is simply taking another brief pause.

Money manager Jeremy Grantham has long studied speculative bubbles. Here is Grantham's perspective:

"I wrote an article for Fortune published in September 2007 that referred to three “near certainties”: profit margins would come down, the housing market would break, and the risk-premium all over the world would widen, each with severe consequences. You can perhaps only have that degree of confidence if you have been to the history books as much as we have and looked at every bubble and every bust. We have found that there are no exceptions. We are up to 34 completed bubbles. Every single one of them has broken all the way back to the trend that existed prior to the bubble forming, which is a very tough standard."

Grantham sees the current bubble as three simultaneous bubbles overlapping into a super-bubble. The US stock, bond, and housing markets are all three standard deviations from their historical average. Grantham says there have been only four super-bubbles in history: in the US in 1929, 2000, and 2006, and in Japan in 1989.

It's interesting to debate why the current super-bubble can't pop or won't pop, and argue whether this or that will cause the bubbles to pop. Nobody knows who will be right: those calling for a new bull trend to new highs or those calling for a crash as the super-bubble finally pops.

I titled this exploration of trend "calm before the storm" because the transition from bullish expansion to bearish collapse is ultimately an internal battle within bulls hoping for a quick return to effortless gains.

They have a great many reasons to want the rally to resume, and few reasons to willingly accept that holding onto the assets that made them so much money will now only decrease their wealth.

This tug of war is generally calm. The storm starts when the first "vital few" sellers (4% of owners, if the Pareto Distribution holds) cause 20% of owners to start selling. This avalanche of selling--the storm--triggers behavioral changes in the 80%.

Stocks don't vanish when sold; somebody owns the shares all the way to the bottom. These owners who refuse to sell because they have convinced themselves the next dip will be the hoped-for resumption of the bullish trend are called "bagholders." Every experienced trader has been a bagholder. The reasons and psychology are always the same: we are reluctant to let go of bullish trends and our belief that a long-term change of trend is unlikely.

Maybe the trend is still bullish and it will never be interrupted by the storm of a trend change. But maybe the trend has already changed, and the storm clouds are gathering just over the horizon.







This essay was first published as a weekly Musings Report sent exclusively to subscribers and patrons at the $5/month ($54/year) and higher level. Thank you, patrons and subscribers, for supporting my work and free website.


My new book is now available at a 10% discount this month: Global Crisis, National Renewal: A (Revolutionary) Grand Strategy for the United States (Kindle $8.95, print $20)

If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.



Recent Videos/Podcasts:

Charles Hugh Smith on The Great Awakening Vision (Part II, 36 minutes, with Richard Bonugli)

Charles Hugh Smith on The Great Reset Agenda (Part I, 42 minutes, with Richard Bonugli)


My recent books:

Global Crisis, National Renewal: A (Revolutionary) Grand Strategy for the United States (Kindle $9.95, print $25, audiobook) Read Chapter One for free (PDF).

A Hacker's Teleology: Sharing the Wealth of Our Shrinking Planet (Kindle $8.95, print $20, audiobook $17.46) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Will You Be Richer or Poorer?: Profit, Power, and AI in a Traumatized World
(Kindle $5, print $10, audiobook) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic ($5 Kindle, $10 print, ( audiobook): Read the first section for free (PDF).

The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake $1.29 Kindle, $8.95 print); read the first chapters for free (PDF)

Money and Work Unchained $6.95 Kindle, $15 print)
Read the first section for free



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Friday, March 25, 2022

The Community Economy Needs Its Own Money

The solutions will come not from those profiting from inequality and scarcity but from relocalizing "money" and production to create degrowth community economies.

We think we understand "money"--we don't. We think the current versions of "money" are the final versions--they aren't.

Understanding "money" requires some heavy-lifting, but it's important, so let's dig in.


The most accurate description of "money" (in quotes because it's not what we think it is) is Art Berman's shorthand:
Energy is the economy.
Money is a call on energy, the capacity to do work.
Debt is a lien on future energy.

We think that creating more "money" can solve all problems. It can't. Creating more "money" only adds another crisis to the fundamental crisis, a scarcity of affordsable energy and resources.

In my new book, Global Crisis, National Renewal: A (Revolutionary) Grand Strategy for the United States, I identify the two problems neither nation-states nor global markets can resolve:

1) Soaring inequality caused by the concentration of capital, power and agency in the hands of the few and the resulting decapitalization and powerlessness of the many.

2) Scarcity of the essential resources that are the foundation of the globalized industrial economy.

The primacy of "money" (finance) is evidenced by the proposed solutions to inequality and scarcity, all of which are financial in nature: Universal Basic Income (UBI) / Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) and other schemes of creating "money" out of thin air and distributing it to those whom the system has failed, i.e. the bottom 90%, to stave off social unrest.

New Finance's menu of decentralized finance (DiFi), blockchain, cryptocurrencies and Web3 is also entirely financial: the core innovation is a new method of creating and tracking "money."

The problems that need to be solved are:

1) the fair distribution of essential resources, capital and agency.

2) protecting the systemic sources of dynamic stability: transparency, competition, accountability, variability and dissent.

3) decentralize and relocalize production, political agency and capital to institutionalize fast adaptation / problem-solving to radically reduce dependency on fragile global supply chains, radically improve productivity and efficiency and replace the "waste is growth" Landfill Economy with a degrowth economy.

The key to these solutions is the productive community economy, a localized economy with its own production, capital and agency, i.e. the control of production, capital and the distribution of resources.

Neither conventional money-printing nor the blockchain/defi/crypto menu fundamentally change the power structure of who controls resources, power and capital. As with all financialized "solutions," these presume that finance can fix everything because it's the master resource.

Both also assume that creating "money" out of thin air and distributing it within a market structure will solve all problems. Both assumptions are false: energy is the master resource and "money" is only a solution if it connects labor to local productivity.

All the creation of "money" out of thin air accomplishes is to maintain the status quo that favors 1) the already-rich who own the vast majority of assets and who can trade one asset class for another at will 2) those closest to the sources of this newly issued "money"--in the case of cryptocurrencies, 3) early adopters who become the New Aristocracy by virtue of their dominant ownership / control of the currencies, platforms, etc.

The critical element of every issuance of "money" is: how is the "money" distributed? Who gets the new money? Consider the case of bitcoin, which is decentralized in the sense that anyone with sufficient computing power can mine bitcoin, i.e. be issued bitcoin for maintaining the currency's blockchain.

Despite this decentralized distribution, the reality is the mining and the ownership of bitcoin is highly concentrated, just like all other wealth: 0.01% of Bitcoin holders control 27% of all bitcoins in circulation.

There are two dynamics at work: 1) early adopters were able to amass vast numbers of bitcoins for very modest sums, and 2) the wealthy few with access to the "money" spigots of central banks and fractional reserve private banking can borrow fiat currency at near-zero rates and use this "money" to buy bitcoin.

There may be limits on how many bitcoins are issued but there is no limit on how much fiat currencies can be issued, so those closest to the fiat currency spigots have the means to accumulate all other assets, including bitcoin / cryptocurrencies.

The net result is that decentralized finance that distributes new currency to miners (those maintaining the blockchain) or similar distribution structures are only decentralized in name; in practice, these currencies are just another asset class that can be bought up by those with access to fiat "money".

The same is of course true of any asset (for example, debt such as mortgages) generated by decentralized finance: the vast majority of every supposedly decentralized asset ends up being owned by the same super-wealthy class who owns the vast majority of all assets.

Given that cryptocurrency mining is very capital-intensive, those with capital can dominate the process of accumulating bitcoin via their essentially unlimited lines of low-cost credit. This is how a theoretically decentralized system is centralized by the wealthy who own most of the assets and who have access to low-cost credit.

In other words, the proposed "solutions"--conventional or supposedly decentralized--leave the structures that generate inequality untouched.

Real solutions must directly address the sources of inequality: how "money" / capital are distributed.

The only systemic solution is to issue new currency solely as payment to labor for producing essential goods and services in ways that improve efficiency, reduce consumption and increase productivity--doing more with less energy, resources, friction and labor.

Once currency can only be issued to labor performing high-utility work in a community economy, the entire structure of "money" changes. Rather than being closest to the "money" spigot, the super-wealthy are farthest from the spigot and those doing useful work are the only recipients of new "money." Since this labor-only currency cannot be borrowed into existence via private fractional reserve banking, there is no way for anyone to outbid everyone with unlimited low-cost credit because there is no unlimited low-cost credit.

In a community economy, those doing useful work can receive not just a wage for their labor but a share of what they've created with their work.

This process of turning labor into capital is the core mechanism needed to create and sustain a middle class which has a stake in the system--ownership of income-producing assets.

In the current financial system, conventional or supposedly decentralized, the only means available to those doing useful work to gain a meaningful ownership stake (i.e. income-producing assets) is to become a high-risk speculator in one or more asset bubbles. This is not a stable foundation for a middle class, an opportunity-based economy or a dynamically stable society. It is a recipe for soaring instability and collapse.

Returning to the three problems listed above--fair distribution of resources, capital and agency, protecting transparency, competition, accountability, variability and dissent, and decentralizing and relocalizing production, political agency and capital--only a community economy can solve these problems in a sustainable, degrowth fashion, and the community economy can only do so if its money is controlled by those in the community doing the useful work.

This system of "money" is a labor-backed currency as it is only issued to labor which has demonstrably performed work that is of high utility to the community. This labor-backed currency also enables the transformation of labor into capital owned by individuals and the community at large.

A supposedly community-based economy that is entirely dependent on "money" accumulated by the super-wealthy and corporations is nothing more than a fiefdom of centralized financialization. A supposedly community-based economy that has no power over the money, credit, resources and agency within its community is nothing but a simulacrum of a truly community economy.

In other words, if the super-wealthy accumulating newly issued "money" (either borrowed-into-existence fiat or bitcoin issued to wealthy miners) can come in and buy up all the assets of your community, it isn't a community economy, it's just another fiefdom in the financialization empire that benefits the few at the expense of the many.

A truly community economy must have its own "money" that can only be issued to those doing work deemed useful by the community rather than by a remote concentration of capital and political power.

A truly community economy must have locally owned assets and capital that cannot be bought or transferred to distant owners. The key to a community economy is to own local productive assets essential to well-being and not allow these assets to be controlled by self-interested, profiteering owners who aren't members of the community.

This requires not just protecting assets from outside capital but also a completely localized methodology of assessing value and profit. As I explain in the book, much of the real-world costs of global production are not even factored into price, environmental damage being a prime example.

In the current quasi-religion that worships profit and growth, value is determined by price and profit: the lower the price, the greater the value of the good or service, and the greater the profit, the greater the value of the asset.

In a community economy, value is based on how essential the good, service or asset is to the well-being, sustainability and adaptability of the community, and on how well it serves the community and the goals of degrowth.

The value of an asset or goods and services being produced by the community cannot be reduced to the false metrics of profit. Locally produced food is not profitable or profitless, it is priceless because it generates an irreplaceable source of value: independence from fragile global supply chains and centralized production that is owned by the super-wealthy.

In other words, local production of essentials such as food and energy are priceless, as there is no substitute at any price. To be dependent is to be powerless.

Whether local production is profitable by the leave-out-all-costs standard of global corporations and banks is pointless; the one true source of value--and thus the highest form of profit--is independent, locally owned production of essential goods and services which both sustain the community and can be traded with other community economies.

Waiting on the shore, dependent, decapitalized and powerless, hoping the central state and profit-maximizing global market will deliver solutions to inequality and scarcity is to wait for ships that will never come, for the state and market are the sources of inequality and scarcity.

The solutions will come not from those profiting from inequality and scarcity but from relocalizing "money" and production to create degrowth community economies that are nodes in a global network, sharing currency, credit, problem-solving and the essentials of sustainability and well-being.

There is much more in the book on these topics. I invite you to read the first chapter (PDF) and the Introduction--they're free.




My new book is now available at a 10% discount this month: Global Crisis, National Renewal: A (Revolutionary) Grand Strategy for the United States (Kindle $8.95, print $20)

If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.



Recent Videos/Podcasts:

Charles Hugh Smith on The Great Awakening Vision (Part II, 36 minutes, with Richard Bonugli)

Charles Hugh Smith on The Great Reset Agenda (Part I, 42 minutes, with Richard Bonugli)


My recent books:

Global Crisis, National Renewal: A (Revolutionary) Grand Strategy for the United States (Kindle $9.95, print $25, audiobook) Read Chapter One for free (PDF).

A Hacker's Teleology: Sharing the Wealth of Our Shrinking Planet (Kindle $8.95, print $20, audiobook $17.46) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Will You Be Richer or Poorer?: Profit, Power, and AI in a Traumatized World
(Kindle $5, print $10, audiobook) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic ($5 Kindle, $10 print, ( audiobook): Read the first section for free (PDF).

The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake $1.29 Kindle, $8.95 print); read the first chapters for free (PDF)

Money and Work Unchained $6.95 Kindle, $15 print)
Read the first section for free



Become a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.




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, Paul C. ($300), for your beyond-outrageously generous contribution to this site -- I am greatly honored by your steadfast support and readership.

 

Thank you, John K. ($150), for your beyond-outrageously generous contribution to this site -- I am greatly honored by your steadfast support and readership.


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

 

Thank you, Daniel M. ($5/month), for your marvelously generous pledge to this site -- I am greatly honored by your steadfast support and readership.

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Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Control What You Can

Our control is what's irreplaceable. Wealth, status and the illusory security of dependency chains cannot replace control.

What's our personal strategy for navigating tumultuous times? I've long advocated controlling as much as you can. We don't control the availability of fuel and food from far away, or the government's policies. But that doesn't mean we're powerless to affect our destiny.

From the point of view of systems, the way to understand control is to examine each chain of dependency in our lives: how many links are there between you and the source of what you need?

The greater the number of links, the greater the vulnerability of the chain, as once one link is broken, the entire chain fails.

The ideal is complete control of the source of essentials: there is no dependency chain at all. This self-sufficiency is incomplete due to our dependencd on globalized industrial manufacturing, but reducing our needs to a bare minimum greatly reduces our dependency and increases our control.

In other words, the other measure of control is reducing how much we need. If we only need a small amount of money and essentials, then it's inherently easier to obtain a little rather than have to acquire a lot just to survive.

Consider fresh water as an analogy. The water flowing out of your tap comes from far away and requires an immense dependency chain of wells, reservoirs, pipes, pumps, filters, etc. all of which depends on 24/7 electrical power.

If we collect rainwater off our roof and filter / store it, the dependency chain is reduced to the weather providing rain.

If we reduce water consumption, that also reduces our dependence.

If water is cheap and easy to access, we waste it. If we have to carry all our water in buckets several hundred meters, we're much more careful about how the water is consumed. If we have to carry it a few kilometers, we're extremely careful.

How much we waste is completely within our control.

Shortening the dependency chain is at least partially within our control. If we walk to a true farmer's market (i.e. one in which the actual growers bring their produce to sell directly to consumers), this greatly reduces the number of links in the dependency chain compared to air freight from other continents.

If we grow some of our own food in our yard or a community garden, this eliminates the entire dependemcy chain (with the understanding that all food requires fresh water, compost and fertilizer).

We also control our exposure to toxic situations and people--situations and individuals who add corrosive, unproductive friction, waste and dysfunction to our lives. Reducing or eliminating our exposure to these energy sinks lightens the load on our energy and time and reduces our stress.

Chronic stress puts a strain on our physical and mental health, impairing our immune system and reducing the energy available to deal with pressing issues.

Reducing how much money and resources we need reduces our stress. Consider the difference between owning property in a high-property tax state and one with low property taxes as an example.

In a high-property state, one's property taxes might be $16,000 a year. (Been there and done that.) This requires someone earning $20,000 to 24,000 a year and paying taxes on that income to net the $16,000 required to pay property taxes.

$24,000 might not seem like a lot of money to high earners, but over time it adds up. Ten years of $16,000 a year and having to earn $24,000 (and pay $8,000 of that in federal and state income taxes) is startling: that's $160,000 in property taxes, $240,000 in earnings required to pay the property tax and $80,000 paid in income taxes on this $240,000.

Should the household income decline sharly in a recession, that $24,000 a year just to pay property taxes might become consequential.

If our property taxes are $1,600 a year, it requires much less labor and anxiety to pay the property tax.

If the state collects income and sales tax, the household that earns less and spends less pays a lower tax burden.

Many of these elements of control are subject to what I call a Devil's Pact: we make trade-offs which we think are beneficial but we have grossly undervalued what we've traded away and grossly overvalued what we're getting by sacrificing what is truly valuable.

In the classic Devil's Pact, the person trades their soul to the Devil in exchange for some earthly benefit. At first blush, the benefit seems extraordinarily valuable and the soul of little value.

We tolerate abusive situations where we've ceded power to sociopaths because the gains are so valuable. But we're trading our health and life for chimeras of status and security that can vanish overnight.

Only when the person is trapped and powerless do they recognize too late that they traded what was irreplaceable for a chimera of value.

Our control is what's irreplaceable. Wealth, status and the illusory security of dependency chains cannot replace control.

This essay was first published as a weekly Musings Report sent exclusively to subscribers and patrons at the $5/month ($54/year) and higher level. Thank you, patrons and subscribers, for supporting my work and free website.








My new book is now available at a 10% discount this month: Global Crisis, National Renewal: A (Revolutionary) Grand Strategy for the United States (Kindle $8.95, print $20)

If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.



Recent Videos/Podcasts:

Charles Hugh Smith on The Great Awakening Vision (Part II, 36 minutes, with Richard Bonugli)

Charles Hugh Smith on The Great Reset Agenda (Part I, 42 minutes, with Richard Bonugli)


My recent books:

Global Crisis, National Renewal: A (Revolutionary) Grand Strategy for the United States (Kindle $9.95, print $25, audiobook) Read Chapter One for free (PDF).

A Hacker's Teleology: Sharing the Wealth of Our Shrinking Planet (Kindle $8.95, print $20, audiobook $17.46) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Will You Be Richer or Poorer?: Profit, Power, and AI in a Traumatized World
(Kindle $5, print $10, audiobook) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic ($5 Kindle, $10 print, ( audiobook): Read the first section for free (PDF).

The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake $1.29 Kindle, $8.95 print); read the first chapters for free (PDF)

Money and Work Unchained $6.95 Kindle, $15 print)
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Monday, March 21, 2022

Autocracy's Fatal Weakness

This desire for compliance and consensus dooms the autocracy to failure and collapse because dissent is the essence of evolutionary churn and adaptation..

The various flavors of autocracy (theocracy, kleptocracy, dictatorship, etc.) look remarkably successful at first blush but they all share a fatal flaw. To understand the flaw we must start with the dominant dynamic of all organisms, natural selection.

Things change. Those organisms which adapt quickly and successfully survive, those that don't perish. Things change for many reasons and over different timespans. Drought slowly but surely makes regions unlivable for all the but hardiest creatures. A meteor strike can ruin an entire species' prospects.

I try not to get too philosophical here, but bear with me because this is an important point: selection isn't teleological, meaning that selection isn't working toward a goal or end-point, it is entirely contingent, solely responsive to the environment that exists today. There is no "plan" guiding what's selected to what we imagine is "better;" what's selected is whatever offers an advantage given the selective pressures of the moment. If water is scarce, mutations that enable the organism to get by on less water have selective advantages.

DNA, RNA, epigenetics and human cultures generate random mutations (i.e. a variety of experiments), and those that offer a beneficial response to a selective pressure are selected and eventually spread through the gene pool or populace.

A funny thing happens when adaptation and evolutionary advantages are snuffed out: whatever can't change expires as what was functional in the past becomes dysfunctional as things change.

Autocracies view change they don't directly control as a threat to their power, which is absolutely correct: any change outside the autocrat's control can end up toppling the autocracy as waves of change ripple outward and interact with various systems. One domino falls and topples many others, and soon the entire system is no longer within the control of the autocrats.

You see the problem here: adaptation is necessary for survival, and successful adaptation requires a steady churn of random experiments which are left to run so that the best are selected and conserved and the failures set aside.

But the churn of random experiments is anathema to autocracies, which must control everything lest their power be disrupted. So the autocrats want control of all the experiments and of the selection process. They will select whatever they judge to be supportive of their power and their regime.

But that's not how successful adaptation works; that's how unsuccessful adaptation works. The very act of controlling everything disables the entire process of evolutionary churn and adaptation. Choosing what's selected based on a limited and thus fatally distorted view of what will support the autocratic status quo also disables adaptation.

Autocracies cannot allow evolutionary churn to operate freely enough to enable their regime to adapt to changes. By throttling evolutionary churn--dissent, variety, experiments across the board in all fields--autocrats doom their regime to failure and collapse. The irony is their tight grip on power is their undoing.

Autocrats have a second fatal flaw: they want agreement and confirmation, not dissent. Once the autocrat decides that this set of policies will support the regime's control, then dissent is unwelcome.

This desire for compliance and consensus dooms the autocracy to failure and collapse because dissent is the essence of evolutionary churn and adaptation. Surround yourself with sycophants and toadies, crush dissenting views, and you've sealed the fate of your autocracy:

Eventually a meteor strikes and the least adaptive organisms and regimes expire. You can fool Nature for a time with brute force, but autocratic force is no match for evolutionary churn and the fast adaptation only available to those who welcome and reward liberty, experimentation and dissent.

The more dramatic the change, the greater the selective pressure. If we're entering an era of massive, non-linear disruption, those who have crippled their evolutionary churn as a threat will be the first to collapse--no matter how mighty they appear in the moment.




My new book is now available at a 10% discount this month: Global Crisis, National Renewal: A (Revolutionary) Grand Strategy for the United States (Kindle $8.95, print $20)

If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.



Recent Videos/Podcasts:

Charles Hugh Smith on The Great Awakening Vision (Part II, 36 minutes, with Richard Bonugli)

Charles Hugh Smith on The Great Reset Agenda (Part I, 42 minutes, with Richard Bonugli)


My recent books:

Global Crisis, National Renewal: A (Revolutionary) Grand Strategy for the United States (Kindle $9.95, print $25, audiobook) Read Chapter One for free (PDF).

A Hacker's Teleology: Sharing the Wealth of Our Shrinking Planet (Kindle $8.95, print $20, audiobook $17.46) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Will You Be Richer or Poorer?: Profit, Power, and AI in a Traumatized World
(Kindle $5, print $10, audiobook) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic ($5 Kindle, $10 print, ( audiobook): Read the first section for free (PDF).

The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake $1.29 Kindle, $8.95 print); read the first chapters for free (PDF)

Money and Work Unchained $6.95 Kindle, $15 print)
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Friday, March 18, 2022

How Healthcare Became Sickcare

The financialization of healthcare started two generations ago and is now in a run-to-fail feedback loop of insolvency.

Long-time readers know I have been critical of U.S. healthcare for over a decade. When I use the term sickcare this is not a reflection on the hard work of frontline caregivers--it is a reflection of the financialization incentives that have distorted the system's priorities and put it on a path to insolvency.

To describe how Healthcare became Sickcare, I'm sharing the perspective of an Insider. The financialization of healthcare started two generations ago and is now in a run-to-fail feedback loop of insolvency. As I have often said, Sickcare will bankrupt the nation all by itself. Here is the Insider's essay:

*           *           *

As your readers try to make sense of the American health system and its response to COVID, they may benefit from a brief summary of the system's current business model from someone on the inside.

It's my hope that it will help them make sense of what is going on around them.

I read, see, and hear others inside the system scared for their livelihoods if they speak out and I'm ashamed of myself, as my livelihood no longer depends on my silence.

So I'm sharing this to speak for those who can't.

For reasons beyond the scope of this study, and aside from a (very) few service lines, the delivery of healthcare is a low margin affair. Unless one keeps their overhead very low, profit is difficult to achieve.

Yet, the consolidated health systems which increasingly dominate the landscape are clearly high-overhead concerns, what with their staggering management bandwidth, gleaming palaces of healing, and obscene executive compensation.

How does one square this?

Health systems generate revenue from:

1. A (very) small number of profitable service lines, mostly plastics, some ortho, and a smattering of others.
2. Inflated book value of their commercial real estate, often untaxed due to religious/not-for-profit status.
3. Bulk and individual resale of patient information.
4. Kickbacks from suppliers, legal (purchase rebates) and illegal (direct payments).
5. Government grants.

Health systems don't make their money from the delivery of healthcare, they make their money by charging for the redirection of the firehose of third-party payments to which the delivery of healthcare grants them access. This is true for any health system which exceeds a certain fairly modest size and provides the majority of their care through third-party payers such as Medicare.

It is true regardless of their IRS designation; for-profit, not-for-profit, religious. The religious sponsored ones use their status as a religion to put themselves, politically and legally, at the greatest possible distance from IRS scrutiny.

Under this model, the organization's goal is simply to keep up the facade of delivering healthcare at the lowest possible cost and generate maximum revenue from all the secondary effects.

Thank you Accountable Care Act.

For example, health systems:

1. Allegedly collude with each other to keep clinicians and nurses wages as low as possible
2. Ensure, if not favorable, at least neutral media coverage through
a. The presence of media company leadership on their boards and vise-versa
b. Direct payment to those organizations either through overpriced advertising or direct payoffs to their executives.
3. Emphasize the few profit-generating service lines, most recently COVID. Two years into the pandemic and for no real reason, COVID diagnoses still carry bonus compensation to the health systems. The use of certain COVID-related meds carry "rebate" payments back to the systems.
4. reduce supply costs by either
a. Purchasing the vendors directly
b. Utilizing the most inexpensive supply chains whose quality is just enough to maintain the facade.

This last tactic is why there was such a huge shortage of PPE at the beginning of the pandemic. Supply chains reached into China where the least expensive options were found. Unfortunately, those supply chains were fragile and dependence on them left few domestic suppliers able to ramp up deliveries.

This is also why there is such a large number of "financializers" in executive positions. Their passion isn't healthcare, it's the access to the 20% of GDP the industry grants them. When the pandemic hit, how many CEOs did you see in working in the ER for an hour or so a week to demonstrate solidarity with the minimum wage employees who, at unknown risk to themselves, were keeping the place running?

None. They were all in the second homes in Florida. Their hearts are in finance, not healthcare.

This worldview explains so many puzzling things.

Q. Why are poor conditions at hospitals not being reported?
A. Collusion with the media

Q. Why are hospitals able to let go of so many employees, even in the middle of a pandemic?
A. They only need enough to service their few profitable lines (COVID) while keeping up the appearance of delivering healthcare.

Q. Why is the capacity for the few profit-generating service lines, such as COVID ICU care, growing while it's so difficult to get an appointment for more mundane services?
A. That's where the money is.

Q. Why are clinicians and nurses changing careers at an unprecedented rate?
A. The current business model is incompatible with their personal mission of service. Guffaw if you like. Yes, they too like to make money, but unlike the financial folks they must have an aspect of service in their vocation to be content. Otherwise, they also would have just gone into business. They are unable to square their personal mission with the commoditization of human life they are seeing.

So they leave.

Q. Why is the physician suicide rate now the highest among individuals with > 4 years college. At current growth rates, soon 1/10000 doctors will kill themselves every year, a phenomenal number.
A. See above, then add debt and disillusionment.
Consider this one of the fruits of delivering a subtle, subjective service such as healthcare through an assembly-line industrial model focused on making a buck. The line workers and their training are mismatched to the task. Force petroleum wild-catters to sell Mary Kay and you'll get the same thing.

Q. Why do health systems continue to invest in commercial real estate?
A. They use pre-pandemic foot traffic numbers to boost both the valuations and the rental rates to tenants. Like in 2009, nobody has an interest in marking the value of their investments to market.

Q. Why does everyone in healthcare spend so much time on the computer?
A. Because the data they're collecting is a significant source of revenue.

Q. Why does getting healthcare feel like such an assembly line?
A. Because that's how the executives have been trained to keep down costs. They don't care about individual patients, they care about "patients" in aggregate for the reasons outlined above.

Q. Why are health systems so dead set on getting their employees the COVID shot?
A. "Rebates" from the supplier and ingratiating themselves to the political and regulatory classes who themselves are getting kickbacks as well.

Q. Why are health systems emphasizing telemedicine?
A. Because they believe they can squeeze more productivity out of their providers while paying them the same-- it's a tactic to decrease the costs associated with keeping up the facade of delivering healthcare.

Is your health system one of these? The better their customer service, the less likely your health system follows this model.

This of course is an extension of Gresham's Law; Bad Chases Out Good, money first, then everything else. When the currency is fake, it corrodes society itself. It is the tsunami of valueless fiat that makes keeps the whole edifice erect. The percentage of GDP we "spend" on "healthcare" actually represents the percent of GDP that's skimmed using healthcare as a grift.

I think about the reader who operates under the assumption that health systems are in the business of delivering healthcare.

They are actually in the business of, well, business.

And they've used their position to prevent any competition at scale. Fortunately, you and I don't need healthcare at scale, we just need healthcare. So, look for a clinician who takes cash. Go to DPcare.org or check out the Surgery Center of Oklahoma City. Cleveland Clinic will do your bypass for a flat fee, and pay for any complications. The prices are much less than one would expect, and you get great access to your personal clinician, not as one of 5000 patients, but as one of 500.

We must relieve ourselves of the idea that our Medicare and health insurance premiums pay for healthcare. They're just taxes for which we'll gain limited value, at best they represent catastrophic coverage. To get valuable healthcare, we are going to have to pay for it ourselves.

I don't represent, personally provide, or have any financial interest in cash-pay healthcare.

As resources decline and health systems focus increasingly on the grift rather than care, direct payment for healthcare will continue to grow under the radar--as it doesn't (yet) threated the health systems' position.

Compared to expectations, cash-pay is surprisingly inexpensive, the care experience is better, and it includes very little valueless, harmful, or excess care.

It is my hope that the worldview above helps your readers explain and possibly predict the behavior of these health systems going forward.

*           *           *

Thank you, Insider. As I have have noted many times, if you still believe that America's system is "the finest in the world" and is endlessly sustainable, please study these three charts and extend the trendlines.










My new book is now available at a 10% discount this month: Global Crisis, National Renewal: A (Revolutionary) Grand Strategy for the United States (Kindle $8.95, print $20)

If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.



Recent Videos/Podcasts:

Charles Hugh Smith on The Great Awakening Vision (Part II, 36 minutes, with Richard Bonugli)

Charles Hugh Smith on The Great Reset Agenda (Part I, 42 minutes, with Richard Bonugli)


My recent books:

Global Crisis, National Renewal: A (Revolutionary) Grand Strategy for the United States (Kindle $9.95, print $25, audiobook) Read Chapter One for free (PDF).

A Hacker's Teleology: Sharing the Wealth of Our Shrinking Planet (Kindle $8.95, print $20, audiobook $17.46) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Will You Be Richer or Poorer?: Profit, Power, and AI in a Traumatized World
(Kindle $5, print $10, audiobook) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic ($5 Kindle, $10 print, ( audiobook): Read the first section for free (PDF).

The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake $1.29 Kindle, $8.95 print); read the first chapters for free (PDF)

Money and Work Unchained $6.95 Kindle, $15 print)
Read the first section for free



Become a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.




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Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Risk Accumulates Where No One Is Looking For It

All this decay is so incremental that nobody thinks it possible that it could ever accumulate into a risk that threatens the entire system.

The funny thing about risk is the risk that everyone sees isn't the risk that blows up the system. The mere fact that everyone is paying attention to the risk tends to defang it as everyone rushes to hedge or reduce the risk.

It's the risk that accumulates under everyone's radar that takes down the system. There are several dynamics driving this paradox but for now let's look at the paradox of optimization.

The paradox of optimization is that to optimize efficiency and output (i.e. profit) resilience must be sacrificed. This leaves the system vulnerable to collapse when the system veers beyond the parameters set in stone by optimization.

Resilience is the result of a number of costly-to-maintain features. For example, redundancy: to optimize the supply chain, get rid of the higher cost suppliers and depend entirely on the lowest-cost supplier. This sole-source optimization works great until the sole-source supplier encounters a spot of bother, or one of the sole-source supplier's component manufacturer encounters a spot of bother. By the time the entire supply chain has collapsed, it's too late to reconfigure a factory or increase the production of marginal suppliers.

The classic example of optimization and redundancy is a spacecraft. Oops, the oxygen valve just blew out. Install the replacement valve before we all expire. Oops, the spare valve was eliminated in the push to reduce weight.

Optimization assumes everything will work within very tight parameters. Maintaining redundancy, backups and adaptability is expensive and so as long as everything is working well then all those expenses viewed as unnecessary are cut to reduce costs and increase profits.

The same can be said of hedges. If the market only goes up, what's the point of maintaining costly hedges against a crash that will never happen?

The longer optimized systems work as intended, the greater the confidence in the system. Since nothing has ever failed before, participants start taking liberties on the margins of the system, letting quality slip because quality control, training, etc. are all costly in time, money and effort. Since everything is working so well, why bother being fanatic about quality and risk mitigation?

This confidence feeds complacency and hubris. Since the O-rings have never failed, go ahead and launch. In our confidence and hubris, we stop paying attention to the limits of the optimized parameters: yes, the system works, but only if all the parameters hold.

While the crowd basks in complacency and hubris, risk seeps into the system in ways that few are paying attention to. Every optimized system invites taking liberties because pushing the boundaries doesn't seem to have any downside. Consider subprime mortgages as an example: reducing the down payment required of home buyers didn't break the system, so why not reduce it to zero? See, everything's still working.

Since the system is so obviously robust, let's dispense with verifying income of mortgage applicants and accept whatever they claim. And since the system is still working well with these tweaks, risk is obviously low so let's rate all these mortgage pools as low-risk. And since the appetite for low-risk securities is so high, let's bundle as many of these as we can and sell them to pension funds, etc.

Since everyone is only paying attention to what's within the optimized parameters, the risk piling up outside the parameters goes unnoticed. The fact that the system hasn't blown up yet induces a hubristic confidence bordering on quasi-religious faith that the system can absorb all kinds of sloppiness, fraud and run to failure dynamics and keep on ticking.

This substitution of faith for rigor goes unnoticed. Those few who are watching the build up of risk where no one else is looking are dismissed as perma-bears, Cassandras, etc. What's passed off as rigorous (dot-plots, anyone? very tasty!) isn't actually rigorous because what's being paid attention to is all well known and well tracked.

What breaks systems is not well-understood. Once we start talking about non-linearity, phase shifts and incoherence then we're in abstract la-la land. And so the human default is to place quasi-religious faith in the durability of whatever system has been optimized for specific conditions. When those conditions erode or change, nobody notices because the system is still functioning.

Once an optimized system is considered so robust as to be permanent, then participants start larding on mission creep and the corruption of self-enrichment. Nobody will notice if overtime is fudged, expense accounts padded, reports filled with copy-and-paste jargon, etc.

All this decay is so incremental that nobody thinks it possible that it could ever accumulate into a risk that threatens the entire system. Since the system is optimized for specific conditions and the feedbacks of resilience are viewed as unnecessary expenses (or given short shrift because they're viewed as mere routine), the system veers outside its optimization parameters and begins orbiting the black hole of decoherence.

Systems that spiral into decoherence never emerge. The risk piled up outside of what everyone has been trained to pay attention to, and so everyone who reckoned the system was stable and durable is unprepared for both its unraveling and the speed of that unraveling.

Optimizing a system for specific outputs generates risk outside the reach of whatever shreds of resilience are left after years or decades of decay, corruption, self-service and mission creep. Coherence without resilience is illusion.

Only the few paying attention to the accumulation of risk outside what everyone else sees and knows see the last chance to exit. Everyone else continues playing with the iceberg's scattered ice chunks on deck because everyone knows the ship is unsinkable because the risk has been mitigated with waterproof bulkheads. Only the few paying attention to the details understand the ship will sink.

Quasi-religious faith in the Federal Reserve is not a substitute for the rigor of paying attention to what nobody else is paying attention to.








My new book is now available at a 10% discount this month: Global Crisis, National Renewal: A (Revolutionary) Grand Strategy for the United States (Kindle $8.95, print $20)

If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.



Recent Videos/Podcasts:

Charles Hugh Smith on The Great Reset Agenda (42 minutes, with Richard Bonugli)


My recent books:

Global Crisis, National Renewal: A (Revolutionary) Grand Strategy for the United States (Kindle $9.95, print $25, audiobook) Read Chapter One for free (PDF).

A Hacker's Teleology: Sharing the Wealth of Our Shrinking Planet (Kindle $8.95, print $20, audiobook $17.46) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Will You Be Richer or Poorer?: Profit, Power, and AI in a Traumatized World
(Kindle $5, print $10, audiobook) Read the first section for free (PDF).

Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic ($5 Kindle, $10 print, ( audiobook): Read the first section for free (PDF).

The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake $1.29 Kindle, $8.95 print); read the first chapters for free (PDF)

Money and Work Unchained $6.95 Kindle, $15 print)
Read the first section for free



Become a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com.




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