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  1. #856
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    Yeah, I don't necessarily agree with Kunstler's political views, he has become a bit of a cantankerous right-wing crank in his old age, but it seems to happen to a lot of people as they got older. Another commentator that has really gone to crazytown, but I used to have a lot of respect for is former Reagan official Dr Paul Craig Roberts. Not sure what it is about aging, but a lot of people tend to become more right-wing as they get older. For me, it is actually the opposite, I used to be quite right-wing a decade or two ago but have since become considerably more Left-Wing. On most issues, I am actually left-of-centre. But, I don't berate anyone for having right-wing views, people can be all over the political spectrum and I think it is important to be tolerant of diverse viewpoints.

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  3. #857
    Senior Member BeastOfBologna's Avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Chris View Post
    Yeah, I don't necessarily agree with Kunstler's political views, he has become a bit of a cantankerous right-wing crank in his old age, but it seems to happen to a lot of people as they got older. Another commentator that has really gone to crazytown, but I used to have a lot of respect for is former Reagan official Dr Paul Craig Roberts. Not sure what it is about aging, but a lot of people tend to become more right-wing as they get older. For me, it is actually the opposite, I used to be quite right-wing a decade or two ago but have since become considerably more Left-Wing. On most issues, I am actually left-of-centre. But, I don't berate anyone for having right-wing views, people can be all over the political spectrum and I think it is important to be tolerant of diverse viewpoints.
    It's difficult for me to be tolerant of diverse views because I've lived too much of it and seen a whole lot more.

    A true diverse opinion is something that should be viewed carefully and weighed logically, once that is done, we go to the heart ... of feeling. On the other hand inflammatory rhetoric is about the most useless counterproductive human output that the species engages in, next to propaganda. It's like my favorite 'bad marriage' analogy, In the end, it doesn't matter who threw the first blow.
    “But those who have been under the shadow, who have gone down at last to elemental things, will have a wider charity” - Herbert George Wells -

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  5. #858
    Super Moderator United States Dreamtimer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Chris View Post
    Yeah, I don't necessarily agree with Kunstler's political views, he has become a bit of a cantankerous right-wing crank in his old age, but it seems to happen to a lot of people as they got older. Another commentator that has really gone to crazytown, but I used to have a lot of respect for is former Reagan official Dr Paul Craig Roberts. Not sure what it is about aging, but a lot of people tend to become more right-wing as they get older. For me, it is actually the opposite, I used to be quite right-wing a decade or two ago but have since become considerably more Left-Wing. On most issues, I am actually left-of-centre. But, I don't berate anyone for having right-wing views, people can be all over the political spectrum and I think it is important to be tolerant of diverse viewpoints.

    It may be the uncertainty of norms changing around people that moves them to be more conservative. It's also easier to be afraid when you don't feel you are on top of things. Then you don't want change and it's easier to blow things out of proportion.

    Like bitching about Dr. Seuss books which may now be more expensive on eBay. Nothing's really banned. It's part of the fear machine. It gets ratings, brings money, and keeps that dynamic going.

    Quote Originally posted by NotAPretender View Post
    It's difficult for me to be tolerant of diverse views because I've lived too much of it and seen a whole lot more.

    A true diverse opinion is something that should be viewed carefully and weighed logically, once that is done, we go to the heart ... of feeling. On the other hand inflammatory rhetoric is about the most useless counterproductive human output that the species engages in, next to propaganda. It's like my favorite 'bad marriage' analogy, In the end, it doesn't matter who threw the first blow.
    I'm pretty much sick and tired of trying to have dialogue and having a view or opinion become an avenue for personal judgment or attack instead of an avenue for talking about whatever the subject is.

    Life just isn't about whether I hate someone when I want to talk about a policy or outcome.

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  7. #859
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    http://cluborlov.blogspot.com/2021/0...ight.html#more

    Getting Hyperinflation Right

    Profligate money printing by the US Federal Reserve and by other Western central banks has amounted to around $10 trillion over just the last year. The amount of currency in circulation has grown to $2 trillion, breaking a record set in 1945 and showing an almost 12% increase over 2019. The US federal budget deficit stands at just about $3.5 trillion, which is over 16% of GDP—the highest it's been since World War II. Meanwhile, the US federal debt has just topped $28 trillion. Over the past year the US has overspent its revenues by a staggering 194%.

    Prices are going up everywhere even as the underlying economy remains in coronavirus-inspired doldrums, specifically because consumption has been repressed, with the coronavirus as an excuse, to delay the onset of hyperinflation. And then the Chairman of the Federal Reserve steps in and calms the troubled waters by publicly claiming that "There is no reason to be afraid of hyperinflation." This sounds a lot like denial, which is the first of the five stages of grief, after which come anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Powell said "hyperinflation"; therefore, there shall be hyperinflation.

    What happens to the value of money when a government prints lots of it—to spend or to simply hand out to people—is that the money becomes less valuable because there is more money per unit things to buy with it. The expectation that this trend will continue then triggers a continuous process of increasing prices, called inflation, while the resulting expectation that the rate of inflation will continue to increase triggers hyperinflation.

    My view is that hyperinflation is hardly a problem at all and that, quite the opposite, it is a solution to a great many pressing problems. Here we will look at hyperinflation as nature's gentle way of solving the problems of a society that has forgotten how to live within its means. But nature needs help. Just as a radical weight loss program can go better given some input from an expert nutritionist, hyperinflation too has its best practices, which I am eager to impart.

    There are a lot of historical examples of hyperinflation. The most ancient one occurred on the Arabian peninsula after Emperor Mansa Musa I of the Malian Empire made his pilgrimage to Mecca in 1324, in the course of which he handed out 71,000 pounds of freshly mined Malian gold. Since gold's value is based on its scarcity, this rendered it all but worthless. But that is a unique case; all of the recent examples of hyperinflation featured piles of suddenly worthless paper money in ever more extravagant denominations.

    This is most inconvenient from many perspectives. The sheer mechanics of hyperinflation—of printing and issuing ever more notes, repeatedly exchanging older, increasingly worthless notes for newer ones, making payments using cartloads and wagonloads of cash—become increasingly burdensome. When it takes an entire suitcase of cash to pay for a pack of cigarettes or a bar of soap, soap and cigarettes themselves become a makeshift form of currency.

    Hyperinflation is most unpopular with people who insist on storing their savings in the form of cash. In response, they turn to buying up and hoarding other things, causing shortages and further driving up prices. But all of these problems can now be solved because we have the technology to make hyperinflation safe, comfortable, convenient and fun for the whole family!

    However, this requires a change in mindset and a different approach to money. To start with, we need to recognize that money is not a physical quantity. It is dimensionless because it can only be measured relative to other currencies. Unlike any physical quantity, it is measured with infinite precision; any physical measurement, be it in kilograms, cubic meters or kilowatt-hours, has to have error bars on it to be meaningful, while monetary quantities, no matter how large, are precise down to the last penny. It is circularly defined: money derives its value from things that can be purchased with it, and these things in turn derive their price from the value of money.

    Although money can be given a physical representation in the form of coins or paper currency, its essential nature is ephemeral, nonphysical and intangible. In essence, money only exists as pure thought in the minds of people who are involved in its exchange. Its physical embodiments are just theatrical props. Its reality is conceptual, similar to that of the irrational number π, which can also be given a physical representation—as, say, a one-meter-diameter circle carved in stone that has a circumference of π meters—but that would be pointless. Just as π is ubiquitous in mathematics, money is ubiquitous in economics.

    Once we jettison the very idea of giving money any sort of physical representation, things become much simpler. Treating money as mere information to be represented as numbers within computer systems opens up all sorts of wonderful possibilities. To eliminate the physical representation of money while retaining its concept as a universal medium of exchange, it is necessary to shift to an all-digital currency.

    To a large extent this is already happening. Most people have a smartphone, and many people link their bank accounts to payment systems that allow them to wave their phone at payment terminals without even having to touch them. This contactless method of payment is becoming increasingly popular and common in this contagion-obsessed age as people realize that cash is a major source of germs, passing as it does through many unwashed hands.

    Physical cash has already become a legacy technology. It can be phased out simply by neglecting to upgrade it with higher-denomination bills while hyperinflation rages. By the time it takes an entire bulging wallet full of $100 bills just to gain admission to a public toilet, most people will take the hint and voluntarily switch to waving their smartphones around to pay for things. The annoying suitcase full of cash that is the linchpin of many a crappy film will thankfully become a thing of the past. Rich vulgarians who might previously light their cigars with $100 bills would perhaps switch to using something truly scarce, like toilet paper.

    With physical cash gone, there still remains the problem of hyperinflation creating ever-larger numbers: millions, billions, trillions, quadrillions, quintillions, sextillions, septillions, octillions and so on. Here, expressing monetary quantities in scientific notation, with a mantissa and an exponent, makes hyperinflation much easier to handle computationally. The US federal debt, which has just surpassed $28 trillion, can be more compactly and flexibly expressed as $28E+12 with the 12 indicating that 12 zeros are to be added after the number. If it goes up by a factor of 1000 to $28 quadrillion that would make it $28E+15. Quintillion? No problem, $28E+18.

    There are estimated to be between 1E+78 and 1E+82 atoms in the known, observable universe, but since money is not physical this is not a constraint. The only constraint is the ability of computer systems to represent very large exponents. The solution is to have the exponent wrap around. Once the lowest-denomination virtual coin reaches, say, $1E+100, the exponent wraps around and the redenominated value becomes $1E+1. Whenever that happens, a little green checkmark symbol would appear for a time on everyone's smartphone screens, with a hint: "Your favorite digital currency has been redenominated for your comfort and convenience."

    Much more frequent than the periodic adjustments to the hyperinflationary currency itself will be the necessary adjustments to the prices charged for every product imaginable. Depending on the rate of hyperinflation, all prices need to be adjusted upwards on a regular basis—perhaps once a week, once a day, an hour or even once a second. To take maximum advantage of Everyday Higher Prices, software would need to be written to make it possible to automatically place an entire raft of previously set up orders the moment a sum of money lands in an account, to be able to lock in the lowest possible prices.

    The software should make it possible to prioritize purchases, placing feminine hygiene products and diapers, prescription medicines, toilet paper and other outright necessities near the top of the list and luxuries (soft drinks and booze, chips and cookies, clothing and footwear) near the bottom, to be purchased only if the deposited funds turn out to be sufficient. In turn, the government would be able to harvest order history data and use it to set cut-off points between necessities and luxuries and to determine how much money to issue each month, each week or each day, aiming to provide all of the necessities and a few of the luxuries in an effort to keep hyperinflation under control and the population alive. Charitable organizations could use the list of necessities to determine what to distribute as humanitarian aid, since many people—the innumerate especially—might be unable to comprehend and navigate the wonderful new world of hyperinflation.

    Such a system should be able to meet the goal of maintaining very high levels of hyperinflation for a considerable period of time. We should expect economics conferences to be convened to determine the best way to regulate hyperinflation. Mathematical theories would be hatched to calculate the optimum rate of hyperinflation, as has been done with inflation. No doubt great effort will also be invested in finding the proper, principled way to systematically underestimate hyperinflation, just as is being done with inflation today, with the help of hedonic adjustments and similar tricks, to make sure that the value of payments indexed to hyperinflation (for instance, government pensions and long-term contracts such as rental and lease agreements) decreases over time.

    Perhaps this could be done by introducing Voluntary Simplicity Adjustments: if almost nobody heats or air conditions their house any more or has hot and cold running water, then the exorbitant cost of such luxuries would be excluded from the basket of goods and services used to measure the rate of hyperinflation. Similar reasoning could be used to exclude the cost of cars, bicycles, skateboards and shoes. A hedonic adjustment could also be applied throughout, based on the fact that people would enjoy a greater feeling of moral superiority from the fact that they are no longer having children and generally emitting less carbon dioxide, thus helping save the planet from catastrophic climate change (although it is by no means certain).

    People tend to see inflation as a negative and hyperinflation as a calamity of highest order. This prejudice needs to be overcome with the help of proper messaging supported by ad campaigns and mass reeducation efforts. People must become appreciative of the fact that nothing in this world is permanent and that everything we have ages and fades over time, from yoghurt in your refrigerator to money in your wallet. Just as freshly baked bread is better than day-old bread, freshly issued money is better than day-old money. This is natural and in harmony with the rest of the universe, which is rushing headlong in the direction of increasing entropy. Regular visual redesigns, presenting each major new issuance of money as an exciting new virtual world, would not only keep designers busy but could help make month-old money seem as unfashionable and unattractive as month-old half-eaten pizza.

    Hyperinflation makes it possible for the perceived values, and prices, to always go up even in the midst of economic malaise, decay and collapse. They may not keep up with hyperinflation, losing value in real terms, and this may be a problem in certain cases, but the major danger in a perpetually shrinking, depressed economy is deflation, especially asset deflation. The US is already experiencing it in a major way with free-falling prices for vacant commercial real estate. As the tourist industry shuts down, numerous assets, from cruise ships to passenger aircraft to hotels and resorts, turn into stranded assets that quickly run down due to lack of maintenance and become worthless except as scrap metal. But hyperinflation makes it possible for even the most stranded of assets to at least seem to keep their value. A rising hyperinflation creates the appearance of raising all boats, even the sunken ones.

    Many people judge the health of the economy based on how stock prices are doing. At present stock prices are performing a most admirable levitation act in spite of a rapidly shrinking real economy. For example, industrial production in Germany, the industrial powerhouse of the EU, has been in continuous decline for the past 27 months, shrinking by more than 8%. In other news, according to the EIA, world oil production over the past year fell by an all-time record of 8%. It is admirable how Germany is keeping its industrial production synchronized with dwindling global energy availability, but that is hardly a reason for stock prices to remain as high as they are, never mind continue to go up.

    At present, central banks in the US and in Europe are on the job continuously injecting liquidity into the various stock markets to keep them looking pink and plump, but such blatant intervention tends to make the stock market look like a pyramid scheme, undermining confidence. Hyperinflation can help: once it arrives, stock prices will continue to look pink and plump no matter what else happens. Of course, they won't be able to keep up with hyperinflation, but at least they will continue to go up, not down, instilling confidence in the economy, making stockholders feel happier than they would otherwise, creating a wealth effect that will help slow economic collapse.

    With the choice of proper messaging and mass reeducation, it should be possible to inure people to the idea that money is no more durable than the things they buy with it, most of which are not durable at all and are often quite shoddy or outright disposable. After they get used to this new reality, they won't mind it too much, provided the user interfaces of the online banking and electronic payment apps are slick enough to make the work of dealing with Everyday Higher Prices easy, convenient and fun.

    Handled properly, hyperinflation can provide numerous other benefits. Gone will be negative terms such as federal budget deficit and federal debt. Normalized over the past 12 months, the US federal government took in $283.8 billion in revenues and spent $552 billion. That is, it overspent its revenues by 194%. Rounding up just a bit, it is safe to say that the US spends twice its revenues, borrowing as much as it earns. The cumulative result of this borrowing currently stands somewhere north of $28 trillion and—here comes the interesting part—the amount of that debt that needs to be rolled over over the next 12 months comes to $7.4 trillion and has grown by $2.7 trillion (that is, by more than a third) in just the past year. Debt that can never be repaid is not really debt at all and continuing to call it that is psychologically damaging. Hyperinflation will make it go away, easing everyone's mind.

    There are people who will tell you that this can go on forever because interest rates are close to 0% and so more debt can be produced out of nothing and existing debt rolled over ad infinitum with no adverse effects whatsoever. There are also people who will tell you that, given such an astoundingly huge levels of fiscal/monetary bloat, some of it will eventually leak into the real estate markets (indeed, it already has!), into the commodities markets, from there into the consumer goods sector, and then it will be off to the races! Just a whiff of hyperinflation will be enough to panic the bond investors, making it impossible for the government to continue rolling over its debt while borrowing ever more. Overspending its revenues by a factor of two is by no means an endpoint: the actual endpoint is a deficit of 100%.

    It is time to abandon the outdated model of financing US government operations through taxation, which in the midst of hyperinflation will become ineffectual, since by the time the money is collected, allocated and spent it will buy next to nothing. A much better approach is to repeal all taxes and to retire the very concept of public debt. The US Treasury (not the Federal Reserve, which would become superfluous) would by then be directly issuing digital money in the quantities required—be they trillions, quadrillions, quintillions, sextillions, septillions or octillions of dollars a month, a week, a day, an hour or a second.

    And then will come a brave new world in which the government issues money, hands it out, it circulates for a bit before losing of its value, and then the government issues more money. Obviously, the government, no longer being good for much, would do well to let the tech giants—Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook and, last but not least, Twitter—take over the money-issuing function. New smartphone-based banking and payment systems will not only make it possible to take these changes in stride but will make hyperinflation fun for everyone.

    In this brave new world, gone will be the terrible problem of usury, since nobody will be willing to lend any money at all, at any rate of interest, there being a great danger of total loss. Gone will be the vexatious problems of attempting to exercise fiscal restraint and of having to justify to taxpayers how their tax money is being misappropriated and mishandled. The benefits of hyperinflation are too many to mention here, but perhaps the most important one will be in allowing people, rich and poor alike, to make a gradual transition to life without any money at all. To paraphrase Klaus Schwab, you will be broke and you will be miserable, but at least you'll have fun getting there... playing with your smartphone while waiting for deliveries... until the internet goes down... or the lights go out and the battery runs down.

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  9. #860
    Super Moderator United States Dreamtimer's Avatar
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    This isn't a video about collapse, per se. It is about our flaws here in the US. I personally still believe we can fix them, but they could be part of collapse for sure.


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  11. #861
    Senior Member BeastOfBologna's Avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dreamtimer View Post
    This isn't a video about collapse, per se. It is about our flaws here in the US. I personally still believe we can fix them, but they could be part of collapse for sure.

    At least we don't vote for <insert favorite hate here>
    “But those who have been under the shadow, who have gone down at last to elemental things, will have a wider charity” - Herbert George Wells -

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  13. #862
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    I remember this video coming up in my youtube feed a few days ago. It is truly heartbreaking.

    The astonishing thing about the US is how wealthy it looks on paper. If you look at measures like GDP per capita and treat each state like its own country (which is quite reasonable actually), US states absolutely dominate the world. Major countries like Germany and the UK are battling it out at the bottom of the GDP league table with the likes of Arkansas and Mississippi. Yet, all this wealth is concentrated in ever fewer hands and whilst the AVERAGE American remains wealthy by world standard, the MEAN American is actually quite poor, especially if you factor in what goods and services they can get for their meagre incomes in the areas where they live. If you don't understand the difference between Average and Mean, you probably fall in the latter category, much poorer in actuality, than you should be on paper. That is BTW, a hallmark of third world nations like Brazil, China and Mexico, whereas first-world nations tend to be a lot more equal and even the poorest ten percent of residents can access decent social services, like healthcare, education and social housing.

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    Super Moderator United States Dreamtimer's Avatar
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    Clearly the anti-'socialist' trend has not been healthy for us. When my parents were children they rationed food and gas and turned in rubber tires, etc. Helping the community was a given.

    By the time Barak Obama was running for President, community organizing was being ridiculed and programs that had been around since my parents' days were being called socialist and bad.

    Adding in factors like prosperity gospel and making capitalism more important than the Constitution, profit more important than people, didn't help things.

    It's embarrassing to think about. But it's maddening to see it happening and be surrounded by folks in denial.

    I still believe we can change it for the better. I sure hope so. Our collapse wouldn't be bad just for us, I don't think.

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    Quote Originally posted by Dreamtimer View Post
    Clearly the anti-'socialist' trend has not been healthy for us. When my parents were children they rationed food and gas and turned in rubber tires, etc. Helping the community was a given.

    By the time Barak Obama was running for President, community organizing was being ridiculed and programs that had been around since my parents' days were being called socialist and bad.

    Adding in factors like prosperity gospel and making capitalism more important than the Constitution, profit more important than people, didn't help things.

    It's embarrassing to think about. But it's maddening to see it happening and be surrounded by folks in denial.

    I still believe we can change it for the better. I sure hope so. Our collapse wouldn't be bad just for us, I don't think.
    Well, it's your country, so you're somewhat obligated to have faith. I hope you're right, but personally, I just don't see it happening.

    There are so many things wrong with the political, social, economic and cultural structure that it is rotting from within and I don't even see the mechanism, or even the will to repair it. Even if it was there, I think things are too far gone. You only have to look at one section of it, such as healthcare, higher education, the prison-industrial complex, the military-industrial complex or pretty much anything else you would care to look at to see how difficult, if not impossible it would be to fix these things whilst the current structures are in place.

    I believe the only way to fix them is to demolish the whole rotting edifice and start anew, on a completely different footing and on a much more basic level and a much smaller scale. It is in everybody's interest to keep the racket going, so it will, until it no longer can, then it will collapse like a house of cards. What will emerge from the rubble will be a much better and fairer system, I feel.

    To take one example, healthcare, the US spends three times as much as a percentage of GDP on healthcare than the UK, with much worse health outcomes. This is because most of that money is wasted, it goes into the pockets of private insurance firms, overpaid doctors, lawyers, hospital administrators and a slew of middlemen. Every participant is like a pig at the trough and they gorge themselves on sick people's money and to be fair, overcharge even insurance companies to a ridiculous degree, not by a little, but by thousands of percent in many cases. If you cut out the middlemen, all these giant corporations would go bankrupt and millions of health professionals would be out of work or have much reduced incomes, especially the middlemen. So, politically, that is just never going to happen.

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  19. #865
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    Quote Originally posted by Chris View Post
    Well, it's your country, so you're somewhat obligated to have faith. I hope you're right, but personally, I just don't see it happening.

    There are so many things wrong with the political, social, economic and cultural structure that it is rotting from within and I don't even see the mechanism, or even the will to repair it. Even if it was there, I think things are too far gone. You only have to look at one section of it, such as healthcare, higher education, the prison-industrial complex, the military-industrial complex or pretty much anything else you would care to look at to see how difficult, if not impossible it would be to fix these things whilst the current structures are in place.

    I believe the only way to fix them is to demolish the whole rotting edifice and start anew, on a completely different footing and on a much more basic level and a much smaller scale. It is in everybody's interest to keep the racket going, so it will, until it no longer can, then it will collapse like a house of cards. What will emerge from the rubble will be a much better and fairer system, I feel.

    To take one example, healthcare, the US spends three times as much as a percentage of GDP on healthcare than the UK, with much worse health outcomes. This is because most of that money is wasted, it goes into the pockets of private insurance firms, overpaid doctors, lawyers, hospital administrators and a slew of middlemen. Every participant is like a pig at the trough and they gorge themselves on sick people's money and to be fair, overcharge even insurance companies to a ridiculous degree, not by a little, but by thousands of percent in many cases. If you cut out the middlemen, all these giant corporations would go bankrupt and millions of health professionals would be out of work or have much reduced incomes, especially the middlemen. So, politically, that is just never going to happen.
    The way I see it, it's a two-fold problem. On the one hand, there's the list of all the things that are wrong with the United States of America as a nation ─ its geopolitical stance, its internal politics, its education system, its healthcare system, and so on ─ and on the other hand, there's the question whether they're willing to do something about it, or whether they're going to simply brush all of those problems off the table out of denial and arrogance, as they have been doing all along so far.

    Changing things requires a lot of goodwill, not just from the government, but also from the people themselves, the industries, et al. And to be honest, I don't think that's going to happen. The USA has always had (and still has) an ultraconservative and insular culture ─ which is why it's still using (a mangled version of) the Imperial Measurements system today, whereas every other country in the world has already long adopted the much more logical and much more portable metric system.

    This ultraconservative and insular attitude is ─ in my humble opinion ─ why the collapse is inevitable. Not only is there no will for change, but there is a resilience against it, like an oppositional-defiant child that persists in its misbehavior even if only because it doesn't accept anyone's authority. The only way the USA is ever going to learn is by painfully running its face into the proverbial concrete wall over and over and over again, until it finally realizes that the wall is stronger than the American forehead.
    = DEATH BEFORE DISHONOR =

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    Super Moderator United States Dreamtimer's Avatar
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    I'm afraid we may have already suffered the concurring brain damage...

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    Quote Originally posted by Chris View Post
    It is in everybody's interest to keep the racket going, so it will, until it no longer can, then it will collapse like a house of cards. What will emerge from the rubble will be a much better and fairer system, I feel.
    I agree with this, but there's one caveat. It will only be a better system if there will be anything left to salvage after that crash.

    Quote Originally posted by Aragorn View Post
    The only way the USA is ever going to learn is by painfully running its face into the proverbial concrete wall over and over and over again, until it finally realizes that the wall is stronger than the American forehead.
    Not exactly the wall Trump dreamed about, eh?

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    Quote Originally posted by Aragorn View Post
    The way I see it, it's a two-fold problem. On the one hand, there's the list of all the things that are wrong with the United States of America as a nation ─ its geopolitical stance, its internal politics, its education system, its healthcare system, and so on ─ and on the other hand, there's the question whether they're willing to do something about it, or whether they're going to simply brush all of those problems off the table out of denial and arrogance, as they have been doing all along so far.

    Changing things requires a lot of goodwill, not just from the government, but also from the people themselves, the industries, et al. And to be honest, I don't think that's going to happen. The USA has always had (and still has) an ultraconservative and insular culture ─ which is why it's still using (a mangled version of) the Imperial Measurements system today, whereas every other country in the world has already long adopted the much more logical and much more portable metric system.

    This ultraconservative and insular attitude is ─ in my humble opinion ─ why the collapse is inevitable. Not only is there no will for change, but there is a resilience against it, like an oppositional-defiant child that persists in its misbehavior even if only because it doesn't accept anyone's authority. The only way the USA is ever going to learn is by painfully running its face into the proverbial concrete wall over and over and over again, until it finally realizes that the wall is stronger than the American forehead.
    Yes, that is so true...

    One of the baffling things about the US political system is how it is still stuck in the 18th century, with a total inability to move in the direction of progress. The electoral college system is a prime example, designed for a time when it took delegates months to get to Washington DC on horseback with their electoral college vote. Or, there is the second amendment, designed for a time of muskets, and a constant threat of foreign invasion, where militias were essential in defending the country. All these outdated laws, amendments, etc... should go, but the system is unable to move and reform itself, because too many people in power are benefitting from these outdated and anachronistic structures. The UK has some of that too, but by having a parliamentary system, it can enact change much more deftly and flexibly, without the constant obstructionism that characterises US politics.

    I also think that collapse is inevitable for the above reason and the ones you listed.

    Like I said previously, that may not be a bad thing in the end, because the current system is so wasteful and inefficient, with very little of the benefits trickling down to ordinary people.

    With Healthcare, spending a third of what it does now, but in a Public, single-payer system, could allow the US to catch up to such Healthcare powerhouses as Cuba or Slovenia... There would be no need for people to pay a two-thousand percent markup on vital medicines or hospital care over global market prices...

    On the military front, spending a tenth of what it does now, would actually benefit the US military tremendously. There would be no money for expensive and unnecessary boondoggles, like the trillion-dollar, failing F35 programme, the little money the military would get could actually be spent on defence, rather than expensive and unnecessary foreign adventures.

    As for the institution of slavery, sorry, I mean the criminal justice system, again, 90 percent of offenders, as well as most of the auxiliary staff, prison guards, etc... could be let go if there was no more money to keep them there. Cutting funding by at least 90 percent, would lead to a need to release non-violent offenders and stop fighting the insanely stupid drug war. Of course, this would mean no slave labour for corporations and they would actually have to pay full minimum wage to get licence plates made and so on.

    These are all examples of how throwing money at the problem, without smart policies, actually leads to worse outcomes than much smaller, but smart spending in comparable nations.

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    Beau agrees that it's the same playbook today.


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    Just to rile y'all up...

    https://kunstler.com/clusterfuck-nat...of-shadowland/

    In the Shadows of Shadowland

    Is there some kind of game on in the USA? Have our public affairs ever looked so false and disordered? Is it ever more wondrous that Joe Biden somehow managed to win the Super Tuesday primary, let alone the national election?

    The country has gotten exactly what it saw all through the autumn of 2020: the empty shell of a broken politician. Back in October, Ol’ Joe hiding in his basement was played as a bad joke in a nervous zeitgeist. Nothing to see, according to the captive news media. Wasn’t that exactly it, though? Nothing to see and nobody home, the essence of our now-president, Joe Biden. How on earth did this happen?

    My own theory: it was the strange byproduct of the political establishment fumbling to cover up its crimes, an endeavor so transparently inept that the rest of the world goggles at us in nauseated incredulity, watching our leadership flounder, our institutions fail, our economy vaporize, and our power dissolve, like a some dying blob in an epic horror movie. Even our most devoted adversary, North Korea, marvels out loud at the spectacle of American collapse. They joke about it, but it must make them awfully uncomfortable to realize that the USA runs under a shadow government, and runs so ineptly!

    Who or what is this shadow government? I’d say it amounts to a small group around former president Obama and former attorney general Eric Holder, plus a coterie of Intel Community figures led by John Brennan, all awkwardly funneling instructions through Susan Rice to the hacks in the White House, who form a flimsy cocoon around the barely-pulsating organism within: Mr. Biden. I will boldly suggest that this cabal is actually controlling the executive branch of the government, and doing it with stunning incompetence. If it sounds like a conspiracy, that’s probably because it is a conspiracy.

    What were those crimes of theirs? Mainly the actions they took the past four years to cover-up their intense and sedulous ongoing corruption of previous years, especially all the channels of moneygrubbing that ran from Wall Street and K Street through the halls of Congress, and secondarily their political agenda to destroy by any means necessary the opposition vested in a weak and ineffectual Republican Party at odds with its own elected leader, Mr. Trump.

    The “means” turned out to be one dishonest exploit after another aimed at disabling and eliminating the uncontrollable Mr. Trump: RussiaGate, the Flynn case, the Mueller Investigation, Ukraine Phone Call Gate (impeachment No. 1), Coronavirus hysteria, identity politics hysteria (including the 2020 summer riots), the social media companies’ censorship and “cancellation” initiative, and, finally, the engineered ballot fraud in the 2020 national election, with a re-play in the Georgia senatorial special election of January, 2021. How did you miss all this?

    I think it worked this way: John Brennan’s CIA enlisted a desperately failing news media in an ideological campaign to propagandize and lie to the American public based on Brennan’s own past ideological disposition as a self-declared “communist.” Yes, he actually said that about himself, though his Marxism and that of his allies was a mash-up of foolish utopianisms used to cover a sheer wish to annihilate any opposition frustrating their will-to-power. I’d venture to suppose that Mr. Brennan continued to influence and even direct these agit-prop operations long after he was removed as CIA Director, even as he fought off accusations for his role in helping Hillary Clinton gin up RussiaGate.

    Hillary’s crimes in particular, especially her Uranium One deal and the Skolkovo scam, involved large networks of accomplices in the State Department and in Intel, including the FBI when it was under Robert Mueller, and since they were conducted under the Obama administration, they implicated Mr. Obama too, and many around him. People-of-color and the gender-muddled were useful idiots in the game to bamboozle the public, and were allowed to turn their own grievances into lucrative hustles. Thus, everything became a “racist” and “sexist” boobytrap used to nullify anybody seeing through this game, while garnering new social advantages and large sums of money for the aggrieved, especially the Black Lives Matter org.

    All of these cynical power games were, and still are, playing out against the very real collapse of America’s economy and culture. That is the part of the story that nobody controls or can even hope to control. The manufacturing part of the economy has been going-going-gone for forty years, but Coronavirus paranoia has been mobilized to destroy any remaining small business or service, leaving the shell of a commercial sector represented only by rapacious chain stores. The oil industry is on the ropes, confounded by the high costs of getting shale oil out of the ground and the shortage of investor money for an obviously profitless activity. All that’s really left are the financial rackets tied to the Federal Reserve and Wall Street — and they amount to the sheerest vapor given the de-linking of capital formation from genuine productive activity.

    Last week’s antics featured two dazzling failures of American diplomacy under the Obama-Biden shadow government: the president’s stupid obloquies against Vladimir Putin, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s feckless negotiation with China — in which China nullified our “human rights” complaints involving the Uyghurs on account of America’s incessantly self-declared “systemic racism.” Coming up this week, Joe Biden’s long-delayed premiere “news conference.” Even though the “questions” are all pre-submitted and vetted, and the answers will be scrolling on a teleprompter, Mr. Biden will be working without a net. His handlers must be cross-eyed with anxiety over what might happen. Pretty soon, the game will be up. The election fraud story won’t go away against all efforts to suppress it. The shadow government will get outed as the nation sinks deeper into economic and civil disorder, and some people will have to do something.

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