Friday, January 21, 2022

The Cult of Speculation Is a Cult of Doom

Surely the Fed gods will affirm the cult's most revered articles of faith. But false gods eventually fail, even the Fed.

Every once in awhile the zeitgeist sets up an either / or: either the zeitgeist is crazy or I'm crazy. (OK, let's agree I'm crazy; see, it's not that hard to find something to agree on, is it?)

What strikes me as crazy is the global Cult of Speculation which has recruited virtually the entire human populace in a bizarre cult in which speculating wildly is now the accepted norm, a norm papered over with fine-sounding phrases such as "investing for the future," "hold on for dear life," "conviction trade," "new paradigm," and so on, all variations on the time-honored "this time it's different."

But speculative frenzies that sweep up everyone with a few quatloos to place on the gaming table are not different, they are the norm. Humans love gambling, winning, windfalls, something for nothing, being ahead of the pack ("the new paradigm," etc.) and the excitement of running with the triumphant herd, all of which are fulfilled by speculative frenzies.

All the speculative free-for-all is lighthearted fun on the way up, but there is a much bleaker reality that few are willing to recognize, much less discuss: now that the global economy is in thrall to the top 0.1% and the foundations of widespread prosperity crumble into dust, the ladder to wealth, power and prestige has few rungs left.

Most of the few remaining open slots in the top tier have already been taken by insiders and the offspring of the already-wealthy, and so the only way to get ahead is to speculate and win--not just win, but win big.

In other words, the fundamental driver of this speculative frenzy isn't just greed, it's desperation. For the vast majority of the world's population, speculating and winning is their only chance to escape debt-serfdom or wage-slavery.

The global Cult of Speculation is a Cult of Doom because all speculative bubbles pop, generally in a way that continues to give punters buying the dip hope that the downturn is now over and huge gains await those who back up the truck and buy, buy, buy.

The key dynamic in speculative frenzies is the self-reinforcing feedback of everyone else being confident the bottom is in to so buy now: the first blip higher convinces skittish bulls that the bottom is indeed in and so buying encourages more buying which then stampedes the herd into a euphoric confidence that this is it, the herd is running, the rally is unstoppable.

This works again and again, increasing the bulls' confidence, until one time the herd thunders off a cliff. All speculative frenzies eventually pop because the euphoria has detached from real-world fundamentals and entered an unstable orbit of magical thinking--the Fed is all-powerful, etc.

As with all cults, skeptics and doubters are vilified and scorned: this isn't a speculative frenzy doomed to crash, it's rock-solid because don't fight the Fed, strong earnings, new paradigm, etc. Those outside the cult look on in wonder at the strange rituals and extreme behaviors. Wise outsiders avoid any contact with the unstable, skittish herd.

We're now in the confounding stage where buying the dip isn't working 100% of the time, and so the cult is losing adherents even as the faithful double-down and demand evidence of fealty. Surely the Fed gods will affirm the cult's most revered articles of faith. But false gods eventually fail, even the Fed.

Once the false gods fail, the once-crowded temple of the cult is abandoned and left to the jungle. Visitors marvel: here great fortunes were made and lost, and now there's nothing left but rubble.




My new book is now available at a 20% 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:

Entropy intensifies (26:52 min., with Max Keiser)
Tune in (to degrowth), drop out (of hyper-consumerism and debt-serfdom) and turn on (relocalizing capital and agency)

The Central Bank System Has Failed, It's Time To Redraw America’s Grand Strategy (39 min)

Jay Taylor and I discuss why Inflation is a Runaway Freight Train (21 minutes)

A Grand Strategy to Address the Global Crisis (54 min., with Richard Bonugli)

XI's GAMBIT: A Bridge Too Far? (41 min, with Gordon Long)


My recent books:

Global Crisis, National Renewal: A (Revolutionary) Grand Strategy for the United States (Kindle $9.95, print $25) 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.

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Thank you, Zeus Y. ($10/month), for your outrageously generous pledge to this site -- I am greatly honored by your steadfast support and readership.

 

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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Choose One, But Only One: Defend the Billionaire's Bubble or the U.S. Dollar and Empire

The Empire is striking back, protecting what really counts, and the Billionaire Bubble sideshow is folding its tents.

One of the most enduring conceits of the modern era is that the Federal Reserve acts to goose growth and therefore employment while keeping inflation moderate (whatever that means--the definition is adjustable). This conceit is extremely handy as PR cover: the Fed really, really cares about little old us and expanding our ballooning wealth.

Nice, except it doesn't. The Fed's one real job is defending the U.S. dollar, which is the foundation of America's global hegemony a.k.a. The Empire.

One thing and one thing alone enables global dominance: being able to create "money" out of thin air and use that "money" to buy real stuff in the real world. The nations that can create "money" out of thin air and trade it for magnesium, oil, semiconductors, etc. have an unbeatable advantage over nations that must actually mine gold or make something of equal value to trade for essentials.

The trick is to maintain global confidence in one's currency. There is no one way to manage this, as confidence in a herd animal such as human beings is always contingent. Once the herd gets skittish, all bets are off.

The herd is exquisitely sensitive to movements on the edge of the herd, where threats arise. There are various tricks one can deploy to maintain confidence: pay a higher rate of interest on bonds denominated in one's currency, so global capital flows into your currency; treat this capital well with a transparent set of tax laws and judiciary / regulatory oversight, maintain a deep pool of liquidity so capital can enter and exit without stampeding the herd, and having at least a semi-productive, diverse economy that generates goods, services and income streams to support the currency.

There is a mechanism for calming the herd, and it's called the market. Narrative control (i.e. propaganda) may work on the weak-minded in the herd, who are subsequently picked off by hungry predators, but natural selection favors those who look for cues from what cannot be manipulated or glossed over-- an unfettered market.

Markets are only trustworthy to the degree they are unfettered. Currency pegs and other contraptions can be changed overnight, so they are intrinsically untrustworthy. What makes markets trustworthy are: transparency, liquidity (i.e. being able to buy and sell instruments in virtually unlimited quantities without stampeding the herd) and the price discovery of risk, as risk is the key determinant of the herd's movement.

Turning to global dominance--let's ask one question and one only: which nation pegs its currency to another's currency, and who owns that currency? Does the U.S. peg its dollar to the mighty RMB? No, it's the other way around: China pegs its RMB to the the USD. China's ability to create "money" out of thin air is based on its peg to the U.S. dollar, not because the value of its bonds and currency have been discovered by unfettered global markets.

To unpeg its currency, China would have to relinquish control of its sovereign bonds and currency and let the market discover its price and risk structure. This is the tradeoff: if you want to earn the confidence of the herd, you must relinquish control to the unfettered global market. Otherwise, the herd will always be skittish because risk is opaque and therefore safety is elusive.

The consensus seems to be that the Fed's only real job is maintaining the Billionaire's Bubble in stocks. But from the point of view of maintaining global hegemony, the Billionaire's Bubble was a sideshow of hucksters and carnies. The real policy goal was funding the empire's vast spending and not allowing the USD to rise too much or too quickly, as this tends to demolish weaker currencies, stampeding the herd.

But now it's time to suck in global capital by raising rates, and let nature cull the herd. The number of pundits announcing that the Fed will never raise rates, that the Fed can't raise rates because the precious Billionaire's Bubble would burst and the Fed would never, ever, ever let its precious Billionaire's Bubble burst, is legion. But they're wrong, alas, for the Fed's job isn't to enrich billionaires, it's to maintain the confidence of the herd in the USD.

The precious Billionaire's Bubble is already bursting, and all those profiting from the bubble expanding are pawing the ground nervously, afraid of being picked off by lurking predators.

Choose one, but only one: you can't defend the Billionaire Bubble and the USD / Empire. Come on, it's not that difficult a decision, is it? What matters more, maintaining global hegemony or phantom wealth?

The Empire is striking back, protecting what really counts, and the Billionaire Bubble sideshow is folding its tents. Best to take your prizes home before it rains.




My new book is now available at a 20% 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:

Entropy intensifies (26:52 min., with Max Keiser)
Tune in (to degrowth), drop out (of hyper-consumerism and debt-serfdom) and turn on (relocalizing capital and agency)

The Central Bank System Has Failed, It's Time To Redraw America’s Grand Strategy (39 min)

Jay Taylor and I discuss why Inflation is a Runaway Freight Train (21 minutes)

A Grand Strategy to Address the Global Crisis (54 min., with Richard Bonugli)

XI's GAMBIT: A Bridge Too Far? (41 min, with Gordon Long)


My recent books:

Global Crisis, National Renewal: A (Revolutionary) Grand Strategy for the United States (Kindle $9.95, print $25) 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, Ron G. ($50), for your superlatively generous contribution to this site -- I am greatly honored by your steadfast support and readership.

 

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


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

 

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Sunday, January 16, 2022

Politics Is Dead, Here's What Killed It

Here's "politics" in America now: come with mega-millions or don't even bother to show up.

Representational democracy--a.k.a. politics as a solution to social and economic problems--has passed away. It did not die a natural death. Politics developed a cancer very early in life (circa the early 1800s), caused by wealth outweighing public opinion. This cancer spread slowly but metastasized in the past few decades, spreading to every nook and cranny of our society and economy as "democracy" devolved into an invitation-only auction of elections and political favors.

Politics might have had a fighting chance but three forces betrayed the nation and its citizenry.

1. The Federal Reserve transferred trillions of dollars of unearned wealth into the feeding troughs of the super-wealthy and corporations, vastly increasing the wealth the top 0.01% had to buy elections and favors. The Federal Reserve cloaked its treachery with jargon-- quantitative easing, stimulus, etc.--and then stabbed the nation's representational democracy in the back.

2. The Supreme Court betrayed the nation's representative democracy by labeling corporations buying elections and political favors a form of "free speech." (Please don't hurt yourself laughing too hard.) The Supreme Court's equating wealth buying elections and favors with individual citizens' sacrosanct right of free speech was a knife in the back of the nation and its citizenry.

3. The two political parties betrayed their traditional voter bases to kneel at the altar of corporate / elite wealth, wealth which bought elections and political favors. The Democrats, traditional champions of the workforce in the 20th century, abandoned workers in favor of serving their corporate masters, masking their betrayal with fine-sounding phrases.

The Republican Party, traditionally promoters of Big Business (Wall Street, banks, mega-corporations), had maintained a narrow but crucial interest in trust-busting (limiting monopolies) to defend free enterprise and small business from the predations of monopolies and cartels. Those days are long past; just as the Democratic Party tossed the working class overboard to the sharks, the Republican Party walked small business off the gangplank right into the voracious jaws of cartels and globalized, financialized corporate sharks.

To cloak their betrayal and treachery, the parties have pursued a divide-and-conquer distraction game, pushing half the nation into one-size-fits-all "enemies lists" with labels that have lost all meaning other than as means to promote divisiveness and rancor: Liberal and Conservative, socialist and capitalist, etc.

It's not the citizenry who are "deplorable," it's the parties' corporate-derriere-kissing toadies, lackeys, apparatchiks, purveyors of propaganda, enforcers, apologists, sycophants, grifters and "leaders" who manage to greatly increase their private wealth while "serving the public" (heh).

These three betrayals of public trust and representational democracy caused the demise of politics as a solution to social and economic problems. "Politics" has been stripped to its essence: an invitation-only auction of elections and political favors. The price to watch from the rear of the auction is $1 million; to actually place a bid, the minimum is $10 million, but the winning bids are generally much higher.

(Lobbying, campaign contributions, bogus think-tanks, and philanthro-capitalist foundations are all part of the auction funding.)

Here's "politics" in America now: come with mega-millions or don't even bother to show up. Choose which "enemies list" you want to be on; there's not much choice. And don't forget to put a flower on the grave of representational democracy.




My new book is now available at a 20% 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:

Entropy intensifies (26:52 min., with Max Keiser)
Tune in (to degrowth), drop out (of hyper-consumerism and debt-serfdom) and turn on (relocalizing capital and agency)

The Central Bank System Has Failed, It's Time To Redraw America’s Grand Strategy (39 min)

Jay Taylor and I discuss why Inflation is a Runaway Freight Train (21 minutes)

A Grand Strategy to Address the Global Crisis (54 min., with Richard Bonugli)

XI's GAMBIT: A Bridge Too Far? (41 min, with Gordon Long)


My recent books:

Global Crisis, National Renewal: A (Revolutionary) Grand Strategy for the United States (Kindle $9.95, print $25) 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, Jeffrey C. ($50), for your superlatively generous contribution to this site -- I am greatly honored by your steadfast support and readership.

 

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


Thank you, Jason A. ($5/month), for your most-excellently generous pledge to this site -- I am greatly honored by your support and readership.

 

Thank you, Adam C. ($5/month), for your supremely generous pledge to this site -- I am greatly honored by your support and readership.

Read more...

Friday, January 14, 2022

Should You Move While You Can, Or When You Must?

This gives an extreme advantage to those few who move first, long before they must. The financial advantage for first movers is equally extreme.

Moving is a difficult decision, so we hesitate. But when the window to do so closes, it's too late. We always think we have all the time in the world to ponder, calculate and explore, and then things change and the options we once had are gone for good.

Moving to a new locale is difficult for those of us who are well-established in the place we call home. Add in a house we love, jobs/work, kids in school, a parent living with us and all the emotional attachments to friends, extended family, colleagues and favorite haunts, and for many (and likely most) people, moving is out of the question.

Many of us have fond memories of moving when we were in our late teens or early 20s--everything we owned fit in the backseat and trunk of a beaten up old car, and off we went.

Once you put down roots in a home, work/enterprise, schools, neighborhood and networks, it's a herculean task to move. Moving to another state or province isn't just a matter of the physical movement of possessions and buying / renting a new dwelling, itself an arduous process; the transfer of medical and auto insurance, finding new dentists and doctors, opening local bank/credit union accounts, obtaining local business licenses and a staggering list of institutions and enterprises that require an address change is complicated and time-consuming.

Knowing this, I don't ask this question lightly: Should You Move While You Can, Or When You Must? The question is consequential because the window in which we still have options can slam shut with little warning.

The origin of the question will be visible to those who have read my blog posts in 2021 on systemic fragility, our dependence on long, brittle supply chains, the vulnerabilities created by these dependencies and my polite (I hope) suggestions to fashion not just a Plan B for temporary disruptions but a Plan C for permanent disruptions.

My new book Global Crisis, National Renewal: A (Revolutionary) Grand Strategy for the United States is a result of realities few are willing to face: the extreme inequality we now have in the U.S. leads to social collapse. That's the lesson of history. So to believe as if collapse is impossible is to ignore the evidence that social collapse is inevitable when inequality reaches extremes. Human and nature dynamics (HANDY): Modeling inequality and use of resources in the collapse or sustainability of societies.

Social collapse has consequences, and so we have to ask: where do we want to be in the vast human herd when social order unravels?

My new book also addresses the transition that's obvious but easily denied: we've transitioned from an era of abundance to an era of scarcity. There are many historical examples of what happens as scarcity diminishes living standards and puts increasing stress on individuals, families, communities and nations.

There are ways to adapt to scarcity (that's the point of my book) but nation-states and the elites who run them are optimized for abundance, not scarcity, so they lack the means to adapt to scarcity. Their default setting to is keep pursuing a return to higher consumption ("growth") by increasingly extreme means--for example, printing trillions of dollars and giving it to wealthy elites and corporations, and printing additional trillions to give away as bread and circuses (stimulus) to the masses.

There is no historical evidence that this vast, endless creation of currency is consequence-free or successful.

This delusional pursuit of endless "growth" that is no longer possible due to resource depletion and soaring costs of extraction, transport, etc. also leads to collapse. This is the modern-day equivalent of squandering the last resources available on ever-more elaborate (and completely unproductive) temples in the hopes of appeasing the gods of "growth."

As I also detail in the book, the status quo is fantastically wasteful and ineffective. It now takes 20-25 years to build a single bridge or tunnel, and each project is billions of dollars over budget, yet we're assured that the entire nation will seamlessly and painlessly transition away from hydrocarbon fuels to alternative energy in 20-25 years.

Never mind that this would require building a new nuclear plant or equivalent every month for the next 20 years; skeptics are just naysayers.

While a successful transition to a degrowth economy and society is certainly physically possible, the current status quo lacks the will, structure, leadership or desire to manage such a transition.

While no one is entirely independent of long supply chains and energy-intensive industrial economies, the lower one's dependency and one's exposure to the risks of social disorder, the better off one will be. Put another way, the greater one's self-reliance and independence from global supply chains, the lower the impact should things break down.

The closer one is to local sources of energy, fresh water, food, etc., the lower the likelihood of losing all access to these essentials.

The wealthiest few hedge their risks by having one or more homes they can escape to if urban life breaks down. When risks rise, the wealthy start buying rural homes sight unseen for double the price locals paid a few months earlier.

Here's the problem: roughly 81% of Americans live in urban zones (270 million people), and around 19% (60 million people) live in rural areas.

About 31% of urban residents live in dense urban cores, about 25% live in suburban counties and the remaining 24% live in urban clusters and metropolitan areas--smaller cities, etc.

Rural regions have plenty of land but relatively few dwellings due to the low population density. Much of the land is owned by government agencies, corporations or large landowners, so a relatively small percentage is available for housing. Many rural economies have stagnated for decades, so the housing stock has not grown by much and older homes have deteriorated due to being abandoned or poorly maintained. Few building contractors survived the stagnation and so finding crews to build a new home is also non-trivial.

So when the wealthiest few rush out to buy second or third homes in desirable rural areas in Idaho, Montana, Utah, Colorado, North Carolina, etc., they find a very restricted supply of homes available. This generates a bidding war for the relatively few homes considered acceptable and prices skyrocket, pricing out locals who soon resent the wealthy newcomers' financial power and fear the inevitable rise of the political and commercial power their wealth can buy. (Cough, billgates, cough.)

At present, few anticipate urban America becoming a dicey place to live and own a home. But inequality and the hollowing out of the economy by globalization and financialization has left cities entirely dependent on diesel fueled trucks to deliver virtually everything.

This is also true of rural communities, of course, but some rural areas still produce energy and food, and given the lower population density, these communities are less dependent on global supply chains and are therefore more self-sufficient. Rural households have more opportunities to raise animals, grow vegetables, etc., and more opportunities to have supportive relationships with neighbors who actually produce something tangible and essential.

Dependence is a matter of scale: if you can get by on 5 gallons of gasoline a month, you're much more likely to put your hands on enough fuel to get by than if you need a minimum of 50 gallons of fuel to survive. The same is true of food, fresh water and other essentials: the less you need, the more you supply yourself, the lower your vulnerability to supply disruptions.

Lower population densities lend themselves to greater self-sufficiency / resilience and to community cohesion. Roving mobs are less likely to form simply because the low density makes such mobs difficult to assemble.

As I explain in my book, social cohesion is a combination of civic virtue, shared purpose, agency (having a stake in the local economy and a say in decisions which affect everyone) and moral legitimacy, i.e. a community that isn't divided into a self-serving elite that owns the vast majority of the wealth, capital and political power and a relatively powerless majority (i.e. debt-serfs and tax donkeys).

In my analysis, social cohesion in most urban zones has already eroded to the point of no return. The tattered remnants will crumble with one swift kick.

The conventional view is the urban populace will continue to grow at the expense of rural regions, a trend that's been in place for hundreds of years. But this trend exactly parallels the rise of hydrocarbon energy. Large cities existed long before hydrocarbon energy, but these cities arose and fell depending on the availability of essential resources within reach.

Imperial Rome, for example, likely had 1 million residents at the apex of its power, residents who were largely dependent on grain grown in North African colonies and shipped across the Mediterranean to Rome's port of Ostia.

Once those wheat-exporting colonies were lost, Rome's population fell precipitously, reaching a nadir of perhaps 10,000 residents living amidst the ruins of a once great metropolis.

More recently, economic and social shifts hollowed out many city cores in the 1970s as residents and jobs moved to the suburbs.

A reversal of this trend in favor of small cities/towns and rural areas may already be gathering momentum under the radar.

All this is abstract until the attractions of city living fade and economic vitality declines to the point of civic and financial bankruptcy. Cities have cycles of expansion, decay and decline just like societies and economies, and it behooves us to monitor the fragility, dependency and risk of the place we inhabit.

At nadirs, homes and buildings that were once worth a fortune are abandoned, or their value drops to a fraction of its former value.

Putting these dynamics together, the problem boils down to a systemic scarcity of housing in attractive, productive rural towns and regions and a massive oversupply of urban residents who may decide to move once urban zones unravel.

Let's assume that a mere 5% of urban residents decamp for rural regions. Given that there are about 130 million households in the U.S. and 81% of that total is 105 million households, 5% is 5.25 million households. Given that the number of rural communities that have all the desirable characteristics is not that large, we can estimate that it might be difficult for even 500,000 urban households to relocate to their first choice, never mind 5 million.

This gives an extreme advantage to those few who move first, long before they must. The financial advantage for first movers is equally extreme, as they can still sell their urban homes for a great deal more money than they will fetch once conditions deteriorate. (The value of homes can drop to zero, as Detroit has shown.)

Those few who decide to join the early movers even though the difficulties are many have all the advantages. Those who wait until conditions slip off a cliff may find their once valuable home has lost most or all of its value and the communities they would have chosen are out of reach financially.

Most people reckon they have plenty of time to act--decades, or at least many years. The problem with systemic fragility was aptly described by Seneca: "Increases are of sluggish growth but the way to ruin is rapid."

My own expectation is a self-reinforcing unraveling that gathers momentum to breaking points by 2024-25, only a few years away. Rather than fix the systemic problems of inequality and scarcity, the status quo's expedient fixes (printing trillions out of thin air and hoping there will be no adverse consequences from distributing free money to financiers and bread and circuses) will only accelerate the unraveling. There may not be as much time as we think.

New readers pondering these dynamics may find value in one of the more widely read of my essays, The Art of Survival, Taoism and the Warring States (June 27, 2008) which discusses the importance of being a helpful and productive member of a tight-knit community and the futility of having an isolated "bug-out" cabin as Plan C.

The vista of solid ground stretching endlessly to the horizon may turn out to be a mirage, and the cliff edge is closer than we imagine.



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 20% 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:

Entropy intensifies (26:52 min., with Max Keiser)
Tune in (to degrowth), drop out (of hyper-consumerism and debt-serfdom) and turn on (relocalizing capital and agency)

The Central Bank System Has Failed, It's Time To Redraw America’s Grand Strategy (39 min)

Jay Taylor and I discuss why Inflation is a Runaway Freight Train (21 minutes)

A Grand Strategy to Address the Global Crisis (54 min., with Richard Bonugli)

XI's GAMBIT: A Bridge Too Far? (41 min, with Gordon Long)


My recent books:

Global Crisis, National Renewal: A (Revolutionary) Grand Strategy for the United States (Kindle $9.95, print $25) 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.

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Wednesday, January 12, 2022

The Real Revolution Is Underway But Nobody Recognizes It

Revolutions have a funny characteristic: they're unpredictable.

The general assumption is that revolutions are political. The revolution some foresee in the U.S. is the classic armed insurrection, or a coup or the fragmentation of the nation as states or regions declare their independence from the federal government.

By focusing on the compelling drama of political upheaval we're missing the real revolution, which is social and economic: the Great Resignation, a global movement which in the U.S. has largely unrecognized American characteristics.

The Great Resignation is the real revolution which few if any recognize. The status quo is going to great lengths to dismiss it, for example, The Great Resignation: Historical Data and a Deeper Analysis Show It’s Not as Great as Screaming Headlines Suggest, because this revolution is not controllable with force and is therefore unstoppable.

The sources of the revolution are in plain sight: you rig the economy to enrich the already-rich top 10% and super-size the already bloated wealth of the top 0.1%, and then you wonder why the bottom 90% are indebted, broke, burned out and disgruntled? The hubris of the ruling elites and their lackeys is off the scale, as this structural exploitation is presumed to be not just acceptable but delightful to the bottom 90%.

Alternatively, the more cynical view of those at the top looking down is: they have to work at the wages we pay in inhuman conditions because they have to: all the debt-serfs and tax donkeys must accept our pay and conditions or starve.

This is neoliberal neofeudalism with the kid gloves of PR removed.

Secondly, it's rather obvious what happens to public protests against systemic exploitation and disempowerment of the bottom 90%: they go nowhere. Anyone remember Occupy Wall Street? This is the fate of any quasi-political movement: co-option, suppression, etc., and then benign neglect as the full-court press eventually wears out the peasants.

So the real revolution takes place out of the spotlight, as one person at a time opts out. They opt out of the unwinnable rat-race, of burnout, of debt-serfdom, of powerlessness, of accepting exploitive work conditions and all the tiresome trappings of neofeudalism.

After 45 years of losing power, the workforce finally has a bit of leverage. Some of the leverage results from demographics--the Baby Boom generation is retiring en masse and so the workforce is shrinking--and from the revolution of opting out, as millions of individuals quit, creating a labor shortage unlike any in living memory.



As millions of workers opt out of conventional employment / exploitation, individuals have leverage due to the labor shortage to reverse the game employers have been winning for 45 years. Corporate America dropped the pretense of rewarding loyalty long ago, and nobody believes the corporate PR about "we're a family"--unless Corporate America is referring to an abusive, dysfunctional "family."

Here's a depiction of the typical corporate workplace: a "torture room" where the overlords are obsessed with bogus feedback from employees and customers.



American workers are awakening to the reality that they only way to get ahead is to get out. Stop playing the rigged game and start playing the players.

Workers are now in a position to quit and demand better pay and conditions, and then quit again to gain more, and then quit again. The employers are gnashing their teeth at this loss of power, but that's what happens in revolutions: the pendulum swings from one extreme to the opposite extreme.

Workers are realizing that they are powerless to change a rigged system at the ballot box or by conventional means. The only freedom that's still available is to quit amd game the system to the hilt, or drop out into the informal economy, try one's hand at the rigged casino of rampant speculation or give up the whole unattainable dream of the McMansion on the golf course and build yourself a micro-home on a cheap rural parcel and work your own micro-enterprise.

A great many workers are done dealing with the abusive American public who seem to feel they have a right to abuse employees. The government has the monopoly on force but it doesn't have the power to force individuals to tolerate abuse from employers, co-workers or customers.

Those quitting give conventional reasons, obfuscating the revolution. The structural dynamics driving the Great Resignation are not entirely conscious; the awareness that the ground has shifted beneath our feet is not easily discernable or described, but we sense it and act on it nonetheless.

American ingenuity is increasingly turned to playing the players via individual initiative. While the financial elite focuses on stripmining the next rigged game, the workers are focusing on bailing out in one form or another.

Revolutions have a funny characteristic: they're unpredictable. The global revolution is being written off as "transitory" because it's terribly inconvenient for the rigged-against-the-bottom-90% status quo. But it isn't transitory, it's gathering momentum.












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

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Recent Videos/Podcasts:

Entropy intensifies (26:52 min., with Max Keiser)
Tune in (to degrowth), drop out (of hyper-consumerism and debt-serfdom) and turn on (relocalizing capital and agency)

The Central Bank System Has Failed, It's Time To Redraw America’s Grand Strategy (39 min)

Jay Taylor and I discuss why Inflation is a Runaway Freight Train (21 minutes)

A Grand Strategy to Address the Global Crisis (54 min., with Richard Bonugli)

XI's GAMBIT: A Bridge Too Far? (41 min, with Gordon Long)


My recent books:

Global Crisis, National Renewal: A (Revolutionary) Grand Strategy for the United States (Kindle $9.95, print $25) 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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