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The Blindingly Obvious About Obama, 2013, Europe, Iran and so on

2012 January 25
by Ian Welsh

1) 2013 will be ugly.  If Obama wins he will stop pandering to progressives and liberals.  Since he never has to be reelected again, he will be even worse than he was 2009-2011.  If you want anything from Obama, anything, get it before the election, do not believe promises, do not accept promises, accept cash only.  If Romney or Gingrich wins, well, it’s not going to be any better. SOPA and PIPA will be back in 2013 in some form, so will the pipeline enviros think they’ve killed.

2) Fracking is coming, bigtime, to somewhere near you.  Full steam ahead in 2013.  Bend over and kiss your groundwater goodbye. This is a bipartisan, transnational consensus.

3) The Iran oil embargo is going to cause an economic clusterfuck if it actually happens.  Oil will go up at least $20.  The world (and US) economy can’t take that.

4) Europe’s austerity hasn’t worked.  It won’t work.  It can’t work.  At least if by “work” one means “produce growth and help ordinary people.”  However, it will continue full speed ahead, because Eurocrats don’t give one goddamn about European citizens, only about themselves, and they know Euros aren’t going to impose a personal cost on Eurocrats.

5) There were coups in both Greece and Italy.  Private interests now run those countries.

6) We are on cruise control for war with Iran.  The oil embargo combined with freezing the Iranian central bank’s assets mean it is, currently, the plan.  Again, the world economy cannot handle an oil embargo against Iran.

7) The key economy in the world is China.  If China crashes, we are done.  China is in the position the US was in the 20s, it is the economy which is actually producing growth (or there are a few others, but it’s the main one) and the old world (Europe then, the Developed world now) doesn’t actually want growth, but wants to invest in China and make money that way. It didn’t work then, it won’t work now.

8 ) Business confidence is the expectation of increased demand.  Austerity is the expectation of decreased demand.  Austerity does not, will not, never has and never will restore business confidence.

9) The 2012 election only matters in the margins.  The question is flavors of disastrous president, there is no president on the menu who will not be a disaster, though obviously Gingrich would be an extra serving of disaster.  For the left, the election is essentially irrelevant.  If you’re focusing your effort on 2012 you’re wasting your time.  Focus on 2016.

10)  Greece is going to default.  So is Italy.  So is Spain.  The question is only when.  The Euro is going to contract, the question is only when.  This is almost inevitable.  If Germany actually wanted to avoid this, they’d start spending like mad, buying from the peripheral Euro nations, but they won’t do that, so we’re done.  If I’m wrong, that’s the worse case scenario: not defaulting means economic devastation in all the peripheral European nations, and stagnation everywhere else in Europe.

11) There is only one way things will get better, and that is politicians and bankers and the oligarchs start fearing the population, and believing that the military and police can’t protect them.  The longer citizens insist on being “nice” and letting oligarchs steal their future, beat them, imprison them, take their homes, their jobs and their lives, the longer the oligarchs and their servants will do so.  Why shouldn’t they?

Since populations won’t do what it takes to make the oligarchs fear them, the situation will continue to get worse.  You can have widespread prosperity and democracy, or you can have oligarchs.  You can’t have both. You’ve already made your choice, and until you change your mind, your future is gone.

88 Responses
  1. Cloud permalink
    January 25, 2012

    stipendium imperii mors est

  2. someofparts permalink
    January 25, 2012

    You have my favorite blogroll. I was just reading the latest post at Archdruid Report. The writer there makes an interesting point that fits here.

    When we object yet again to the depredations of the powerful, should we be clear that the goal is NOT for everyone to have comparable wealth and power? Rather, the goal is to reclaim proper control of our communities in anticipation of a future where everyone has less.

  3. Morocco Bama permalink
    January 25, 2012

    Wow, there’s a lot there, so I’ll have to address it piecemeal. I agree with pretty much all of it. In regard to Fracking, it’s like raping a corpse, if you ask me. I found the following article interesting. It’s like Deadwood 2012….maybe David Milch can make a come back.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-01-25/north-dakota-oil-boom-brings-blight-with-growth-as-costs-soar.html

    China…well, there are so many things that can, and will, go wrong with China. The following is just one….although I believe a collapse will precede this….if not, it will surely cause a collapse.

    http://blog.sustainablog.org/2011/03/china-grain-demand-us/

  4. Tom Hickey permalink
    January 25, 2012

    Agreed.

    What wasn’t mentioned is that any significant social unrest will be met with overwhelming militarized force, perhaps even the imposition of martial law.

    George Soros recently expressed his concern about global collapse and class warfare leading to blood in the streets.

    BTW, I linked to this post at Mike Norman Economics here.

  5. John Puma permalink
    January 25, 2012

    Please, anyone, provide examples of Obumma “pandering to progressives and liberals” EXCEPT in campaign speeches.

  6. Pepe permalink
    January 25, 2012

    It’s blindingly obvious, if you’re paying attention, which is why I tend to despise self-proclaimed lefties who urge us to cling to tribal allegiances which have long since ceased to matter (if they ever really did).

    Even focusing on 2016 will prove to be a difficult proposition considering how entrenched neoliberals/new democrats/blue dogs, etc are within the current system.

  7. Morocco Bama permalink
    January 25, 2012

    Why an attack on Iran would be considered positive right now within certain circles.

    1.) If it happens within the next several months, it would render the Republican primaries moot and irrelevant. Obama would be handed another term (it’s already ordained, imo, but this would justify it in the public’s mind) because you don’t switch horses in the middle of the battle. The Republican primaries would still be interesting as a satirical spectacle, though.

    2.) Defense Contractors and Oil Companies will continue to reap egregiously exploitative profits. It would be the workaround to Obama’s proposed defense budget cuts. Another war cannot be subject to such cuts, and so it’s a defacto reversal of any cuts. Contrary to popular opinion, the price of oil is now largely influenced and determined by inside price manipulators (Goldman Sachs and other various Hedge Funds) and they will use the Iranian conflict to drive up the price of oil resulting in record profits for them and the Oil Majors. Also, let’s face it, the last leg holding up the U.S. economy is defense spending. It’s one of the few things the U.S. still does well in house. You take that away, and bye bye birdie.

    3.) It’s in keeping with the overall Geopolitical Strategy of controlling the remaining spice through Full Spectrum Dominance. There is no future for the Mullahs of Iran. It’s just a matter of when, and the above is a justification (not mine) for that when to be now, or very soon.

    That being said, yes, what I have just stated is insane and ultimately doomed to failure (long term), but that doesn’t make it untrue. It’s a short-term strategy that buys some more time but at the expense of an infinitely more painful future. It’s the course, though, and I don’t see anything on the horizon that is capable of changing the trajectory.

    Also, I believe that once Israel has served its purpose as a Nation-State foil, it will be jettisoned and left to the wolves who will be ready to tear it to shreds. It has burned too many bridges, and I believe it is the one being played. It will pay a huge penalty (its existence) for its blindly zealous hubris.

  8. Morocco Bama permalink
    January 25, 2012

    Those sly EU Elite bastards….they’ve got the pinch on the people of Greece, and they’re going to impose austerity one way, or another. The Iranian embargo is going to significantly affect Greece, Italy and Spain…..but Greece the most.

    Article

    The imposition of a ban on Iranian oil will be painful for a range of southern European countries, such as Italy and Spain, which are heavily dependent on imports from Iran and which are also much more affected by the current economic crises than the rest of the European Union.

    But the adoption of EU sanctions against Iran is particularly bad news for Greece. Much more of the bad news for Greece which is already drowning.

    Greece is in a particularly vulnerable position becuse Iran supplies crude to Greece on highly favourable terms that would be difficult to match elsewhere. Greek refiners do not have to make payment until 60 days after receiving shipments, according to EU officials. But now this is going to stop and Greeks are to be paying higher prices elsewhere.

    Adding to the complication is the dire condition of the Greek economy and the country’s place at the epicentre of the continent’s debt crisis.

  9. Celsius 233 permalink
    January 25, 2012

    2016? Surely you can’t be serious; can you?
    There won’t be anything left to save (in terms of society) by then.
    We’ll be a gutted, hollowed out shell of a country not recognizable to any of us old codgers; hell I can barely recognize it now…

  10. Ian Welsh permalink*
    January 25, 2012

    Well Celcius, that’s why I keep saying “leave”, but for those who won’t or can’t…

  11. Ian Welsh permalink*
    January 25, 2012

    Obama cancelled the pipeline, that was a clear pander. He claimed he would veto SOPA, another pander. Actually, this year he’s been better than any other year.

  12. LaughingCat permalink
    January 25, 2012

    The only thing that matters is who has the power when the next age of technology rolls out. When nanotechnology, perfect lie detectors, quantum computers, advanced AI, and advanced electronics surveillance comes out within the next 10-20 years, I sure hope someone who respects civil liberties is in power, because if they aren’t, there will never be another chance to turn the tide. It will be too late.

  13. Steelhead permalink
    January 25, 2012

    Where to go? A US passport can only go so far and getting citizenship in other countries will only become more difficult unless your net worth is $50,000,000 or more. Leaving a country every 90 days is financially and emotionally draining. What is the solution?

  14. January 25, 2012

    “If you’re focusing your effort on 2012 you’re wasting your time. Focus on 2016.”

    Okay. How?

  15. Binky the Bear permalink
    January 25, 2012

    Leave the US and become the target of its foreign policy? Feh.

  16. Jumpjet permalink
    January 25, 2012

    Maybe I’m alone on this, but if legal obstacles to fracking have been shoved aside by gas companies, and they’re flagrantly ignoring the wishes of the actual inhabitants of the area, the most obvious course of action is sabotage.

    Tape together some IEDs, get a hold of some dynamite, start crippling the drilling operations. Harm no humans, of course, but the drills, the pipelines, the machinery should be fair game. You wouldn’t even need massive support- and of course you wouldn’t get massive support for property destruction. It could be carried out by a small group, many small groups across the country.

  17. Jumpjet permalink
    January 25, 2012

    Ah, seems like I’m not the first one to have the idea. I’d prefer something a little more sophisticated, though.

    http://marcellusdrilling.com/2012/01/fracking-fluid-spill-in-bradford-pa-result-of-sabotage/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=facebook

  18. Morocco Bama permalink
    January 25, 2012

    What is the solution?

    Well, there’s always this. We’ll have to splurge and get Ian a fancy robe and sunglasses, though. I can scrounge up a few pennies for the offering. We can go out in style.

  19. Morocco Bama permalink
    January 25, 2012

    The cover is that Obama is pandering to the Environmentalists by canceling the Keystone Pipeline, but the truth of the matter, he doesn’t give a wit about the environment. He was pandering to Buffet all along.

    Article

    Warren Buffett’s Burlington Northern Santa Fe LLC is among U.S. and Canadian railroads that stand to benefit from the Obama administration’s decision to reject TransCanada Corp. (TRP)’s Keystone XL oil pipeline permit.

    With modest expansion, railroads can handle all new oil produced in western Canada through 2030, according to an analysis of the Keystone proposal by the U.S. State Department.

    “Whatever people bring to us, we’re ready to haul,” Krista York-Wooley, a spokeswoman for Burlington Northern, a unit of Buffett’s Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK/A), said in an interview. If Keystone XL “doesn’t happen, we’re here to haul.”

  20. Celsius 233 permalink
    January 25, 2012

    Steelhead
    January 25, 2012
    Where to go? A US passport can only go so far and getting citizenship in other countries will only become more difficult unless your net worth is $50,000,000 or more. Leaving a country every 90 days is financially and emotionally draining. What is the solution?
    ________________________

    That’s not very accurate to my reality after having left almost 9 years ago. As with most things; the view from afar and the reality in country, are often, vastly different.
    Here in Thailand (just one of many choices) with $26,000 USD in the bank here; leaving every 90 days isn’t required.
    With a degree, one can teach English, which gives one a working visa and ones teaching salary is all that’s required financially.
    There are many countries all over the third world where teaching English will make one a viable income.
    There are always reasons one cannot; I prefer looking at the reasons one can.

  21. John Puma permalink
    January 25, 2012

    Obumma did NOT “cancel the pipeline.”

    Twice in two months he deferred to the GOP-controlled Nebraska legislature which refused to allow the proposed pipeline rout through the Sand Hills region of the state.

    Anyone who accepted his first “I’ll decide in 2013″ ploy merely affixes a worse name to “progressives and liberals” then the FOX Domestic Terrorist Network has ever been able to do in many years of vicious effort.

    Forced to it a second time he repeated the decision with reassurance that “The administration will allow TransCanada to reapply for a permit after it develops an alternate route around the Nebraska Sandhills, a sensitive habitat.” http://tinyurl.com/73r358v

    Note the absence of any mention of 2013.

    I sure missed the SOPA veto threat but the one for NDAA dissolved into a limp signing statement promising not to use the powers he was just given that he’d previously said he’d veto. THAT was reassuring as we’ve seen so many of Obmma’a fulfilled promises!

    The offending provision of NDAA (besides $700 billion for perpetual war) is to US citizens what SOPA was to be to websites: “cancellation” without charge or trial.

    Is playing “progressives and liberals” for stupid fucks the same as pandering to them?

  22. alyosha permalink
    January 26, 2012

    Laughing Cat wrote The only thing that matters is who has the power when the next age of technology rolls out… I sure hope someone who respects civil liberties is in power, because if they aren’t, there will never be another chance to turn the tide. It will be too late.

    My bet is mainly on the Chinese, for the next energy technology, or at least this kind of technology will diffuse out from them. Sadly, some of the cultural traits that the US historically was admired for – the rule of law, an open society and fairplay – are not traits one associates with China. As the American empire collapses, it will become important to know how to think like those in the ascending powers. Others are better equipped to provide a catalog of Chinese cultural traits, but a penchant for piracy and authoritarian rule are two negative ones that come to my mind.

    I’d continue to bet on the US for security technology of all kinds. Sadly we know the direction of things for America, and it’s not toward more civil liberties. I also think at some point in this decade the American population will become something the oligarchs fear, but by then, the balance of power and resources will have so shifted to the oligarchs, that it may not matter much.

    Steelhead: you need to look around more. There are top tier countries that are indeed difficult to get in, but there are a lot more that aren’t. Celcius mentioned Thailand; I’d suggest Latin + Central American countries, such as Uruguay. There are a number of expat sites offering this kind of info, look into it.

    Probably because it scares the hell out of me, I don’t really understand and am not following the confrontation with Iran. Is it really all about Iran acquiring nukes? I’d like to get a better understanding of what that game is about.

  23. Kurt permalink
    January 26, 2012

    Leave? I’m not sure where one would go. Moreover, isn’t it our responsibility to stay and put things right?

    The potential for a flourishing economy is still here. The biggest obstacle to restarting research-production-consumption cycles is an entrenched set of interests that prefer to see financing happen through the privately-owned institutions they control.

    A great part of the wealth of a nation is the capacity of its people to labor, create, and innovate. We still have that. With the government as the financier for projects and also the pump that pushes money strategically into certain parts of the economy, the system can be revived.

    Maybe we just need a heart transplant…

  24. Celsius 233 permalink
    January 26, 2012

    alyosha
    January 26, 2012

    Is it really all about Iran acquiring nukes? I’d like to get a better understanding of what that game is about.
    ____________________
    It is most definitely NOT about nukes; Iran is Persia; a great civilization with a fascinating past.
    They refuse to tow our line of hegemony and are fiercely independent.
    Check out; http://www.atimes.com/

    They have had some great articles by Gareth Porter and Andrew Bacevich.
    Robert Baer is another excellent source with many decades with the U.S. intelligence community. He also wrote “See No Evil” which was made into the movie “Syriana”; a must see, IMO.
    Hope this helps; big subject…

  25. Celsius 233 permalink
    January 26, 2012

    Kurt
    January 26, 2012
    Leave? I’m not sure where one would go. Moreover, isn’t it our responsibility to stay and put things right?
    _________________

    Hmm, think pre-war Germany; it’s a pretty relevant comparison to today’s America, IMO.

  26. Jumpjet permalink
    January 26, 2012

    If a significant contingent of pre-war Germans had been willing to do what was necessary, the Nazis wouldn’t have reached the apex of their power, and perhaps much tragedy would have been prevented.

    Something to think about.

  27. Kurt permalink
    January 26, 2012

    Celsius 233,
    I agree the potential for some kind of totalitarianism or fascism is there, but I don’t think it’s inevitable. I also believe it’s our responsibility to put a stop to it. Sometimes you just have to face the devil.

  28. Celsius 233 permalink
    January 26, 2012

    Kurt PERMALINK
    January 26, 2012
    Celsius 233,
    I agree the potential for some kind of totalitarianism or fascism is there, but I don’t think it’s inevitable. I also believe it’s our responsibility to put a stop to it. Sometimes you just have to face the devil.
    _____________________

    I’m not sure how much more it will take before people recognize the genuine situation in the U.S.
    Habeas corpus; suspended: indefinite detention; implemented: secret rendition; implemented; freedom of assembly; suspended: torture; approved and implemented: corporate control of the government (that right there is a recognized aspect of fascism) and the list goes on and on and on…
    I guess it depends on one’s tolerance for the suspension of one’s constitutional rights.
    My age probably has as much to do with my intolerance as living and actively opposing wars, starting with Viet Nam until today.
    The final straw for me was March 19th, 2003; I left 6 weeks later.
    Good luck and don’t wait too long…

  29. Celsius 233 permalink
    January 26, 2012

    alyosha
    January 26, 2012

    Iran information…
    ______________

    I would deem this guy a must read/listen;
    Cyrus Safdari

    http://www.iranaffairs.com/

    Safdari is also featured on Counterspin @ Fair.org

    http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=4470

  30. Morocco Bama permalink
    January 26, 2012

    A great part of the wealth of a nation is the capacity of its people to labor, create, and innovate.

    There in lays the entire rub, IMO. This paradigm is the source of all our trouble. It has been since the dawn of Civilization. Wealth Creators versus Well-Being Creators. The two are not compatible, and in fact, IMO, are diametrically opposed. Inherent in the concept of wealth is exploitation, usurpation and concentration. It’s a robbery of our infinite futures. It’s our chains. It’s our cell.

    No heart transplant, please. Do not resuscitate. We must find a way to transfer the unadulterated essence of humanity to another host….another paradigm, absent the Thetans that have come to define the previous host/paradigm. No, I’m not a Scientologist, but I love the Thetan concept as metaphor.

  31. Morocco Bama permalink
    January 26, 2012

    alyosha, no, Iran is not about the Nuclear angle. That’s merely the cover….the angle, but it’s not the underlying motivation for an attack.

  32. tom allen permalink
    January 26, 2012

    What’s that you say? Nation in crisis? World on the brink of war? Where is Underdog?

    But I’m only mild-mannered Shoeshine Boy. :-P

  33. someofparts permalink
    January 26, 2012

    I’ve never been out of the country at all , come to think of it. Never even been to New York or Chicago. Sometimes I think living out of the country will be such a relief I will wish I had done it sooner. Other times I wonder what jarring, unexpected circumstances I might encounter. Would, for instance, a lone female like me be comfortable in a Latin culture?

    Plus, lately I find myself losing enthusiasm for living anywhere. If the poverty I see here breaks my heart, how will it feel to come face to face with much worse poverty in a country that isn’t rich? For that matter, where is it even possible to go anymore that isn’t suffering as badly as my local friends?

    Bottom line I will leave before much longer. It’s just that lately I’m realizing that no matter where I go some general sadness will go with me. Timely escape may save my hide, but there will be no escaping a kind of simmering grief for my old world, for all those I’ve loved that have gone down, that will be with me all my days.

  34. M.InTheCity permalink
    January 26, 2012

    I’ve been talking with my partner about going to Iran for a package tour in about 4 months or so. For Americans, package tours are the only way to get in and there aren’t as many tours available as one would hope. It will cost up to US$5,000 all in, but I want to see the country before it is completely destroyed by sanctions (let alone war). I’ve watched several documentaries on UK TV about Iranian culture – their love of poetry and the depth of civilisation. I’ve wanted to go to the country since seeing those amazing docs.

    I’ll show my tour pictures to people after the war and tell them this is what we destroyed. It’s all I can do at this point…

  35. Morocco Bama permalink
    January 26, 2012

    M.InTheCity, if that’s your plan, you might want to avoid backpacking in the mountains.

  36. January 26, 2012

    US passport can only go so far and getting citizenship in other countries will only become more difficult unless your net worth is $50,000,000 or more.

    Not quite. Friend of mine just got her Italian citizenship papers. All stamped, approved, and ready to go. And she makes very little money. Now, though I, too, would love to leave, I’m not so sanguine about her prospects in Europe (or anywhere else, for that matter). The economy is indeed global. What affects one affects another. I’m not sure anymore we can escape from this stuff. And I have to wonder how welcome Americans will be in other parts of the world, given that our government goes around stomping on everyone else.

    Agree with Ian’s grim assessment, and agree with whoever said up-thread that the increasingly militarized powers-that-be will simply crush civil unrest — which unrest I believe is inevitable. But I’m tired of ringing alarm bells about this to my mostly clueless friends, who have stated outright that they don’t think civil liberties are any big deal. People like that won’t ever get it unless their own asses are sitting in a jail cell. But since they don’t dissent, except in cocktail party conversations, that’s not likely to happen to them. Meh, Niemöller Schmiemöller.

    I will say that Anonymous gives me hope.

  37. January 26, 2012

    My other comment held up in Moderation again. This one is addressed to ‘someofparts’. Her question:

    Would, for instance, a lone female like me be comfortable in a Latin culture?

    “Latin culture” covers a whole lot of ground. Living in Italy, Spain, Portugal you’d have no problem whatsoever. Living in almost any sophisticated city in Latin America you’d have no problem either (though there are some kidnappings of rich people in Bogotá these days, but you’re more likely to be shot in an American city).

  38. Bolo permalink
    January 26, 2012

    Lisa:

    The future for Europe at this moment looks pretty grim, possibly worse than the US–definitely worse economically, maybe (or maybe not) worse socially. I hope your friend has a job or something lined up already.

    As for living in Italy, Spain, etc., I have no experience myself but I’ve heard that some parts of southern Italy are quite old-fashioned in their treatment of women. I’d guess major cities would be better than small towns. And northern Italy is generally ok–somewhat different culture up there.

  39. M.InTheCity permalink
    January 26, 2012

    @Morocco Bama – Ha! Yes, indeed. My partner pointed that out as well…One of the reasons the Iranians got pissed at those kids last year is that it is illegal for an American to come over unless they are specifically there on a package tour. You can’t get a visa otherwise. I found that on the internet in like 5 minutes once I decided I wanted to go.

    @ Lisa /Bolo – being an American ex-pat in the UK, I can tell you that the economy is totally for shit. My partner has been looking for a job for well over a year. There is zilch. We’re quite lucky that I have a “good” (i.e. well paying) job.

  40. January 26, 2012

    Bolo, agree that economic conditions in Europe are going to get bad. I think my friend is retiring. She and her husband live on very little, so frugality isn’t a problem for them. I don’t know what her specific plans are.

    I’ve spent a lot of time in Europe. Italy is no different from any other western country in the way you’re talking about — in general, big cities, more sophistication; small towns, more provincial. With a caveat: I’ll take Spoleto or Gubbio or Terracina or Taormina over Westminster, Md. or Lancaster, Pa. or any other similar American small town any day.

    There is absolutely no problem for a single woman living in Italy, including in the south.

  41. BDBlue permalink
    January 26, 2012

    I tend to think there will increasingly be fewer and fewer places to go. Europe, as others have noted, isn’t going to be any great place. They start in a better place socially than we do (generally), but their economy is going down every bit as hard. Japan has its own problems, including gods only knows how much radiation damage. If China crashes, I’m guessing things get pretty grim in the rest of Asia pretty fast. Africa is a mess thanks to what the developed world has already done to it.

    And then there’s the US and its penchant for essentially starting wars anywhere there are natural resources it wants. After Iran, where’s next? South America? Will Hugo Chavez become the next unacceptable leader?

    That’s the real problem. It’s not just that the economy is global, it’s that the developed world is going to go down lashing out and how do you make sure you don’t end up in a target state.

    The one thing that the US has going for it is that it’s big. Really big. There are still a lot of places with actually very few people. If you have some resources, I almost wonder if it isn’t just as safe to get a small plot of land in the middle of nowhere, America. Yes, the groundwater in a lot of places is going to be fracked, but environmental damage for economic extraction is hardly confined to the U.S. And here, at least, I have some understanding of the language and culture and some community to call upon for support. It’s not that I think things aren’t going to be awful here – they already are for a lot of people – I’m just not as sure they’re going to be better in a lot of place or in my ability to figure out which places those will be. As things fall apart, however, maybe all of that will be more clear. The key is not to get clarity after it’s too late.

  42. January 26, 2012

    And then there’s the US and its penchant for essentially starting wars anywhere there are natural resources it wants. After Iran, where’s next? South America? Will Hugo Chavez become the next unacceptable leader?
    That’s the real problem. It’s not just that the economy is global, it’s that the developed world is going to go down lashing out and how do you make sure you don’t end up in a target state.

    Totally agree.

  43. someofparts permalink
    January 26, 2012

    I like the way Binky the Bear put it -

    “Leave the US and become the target of its foreign policy? Feh.”

    If I patriotically deported myself to some ancestral homeland, in my case that would be Greece or Ireland. Good thing the banks got there first and wrecked them already.

    Thanks for the input Lisa S. Will take it into account in my planning. I follow the urban rule in the U.S. Always better for an iconoclast like me to be in a city. Interesting to see the rule applies in other countries as well.

  44. Jumpjet permalink
    January 26, 2012

    As much as some here might cringe at it, there’s something to be said for the ‘fringe’ groups in the United States, at least the non-Dominionist ones. I’m talking about the so-called militia types. Perhaps their politics are different than ours, but they have no love for tyranny, and when final disaster strikes- Order 66 type stuff- I don’t think it’s out of the question to find common cause with them.

  45. January 26, 2012

    someofparts, ah, you’re very lucky! Ireland and Greece are both gorgeous and culturally magnificent (though the food in Greece is better — weather, too, of course).

    If the world’s going to hell, at least I’d rather be in a beautiful locale. If you still have family in either of those places, it might be worth looking them up.

    Jumpjet, whole ‘nother topic, your comment, but . . . well, maybe. I do not understand and will never understand this fascination with guns, but I’ve had to learn to get used to it at a chat board I frequent where the left/right dichotomy is pretty much torn to shreds. It’s a civil liberties board, and we have people from all over the political map. We all agree on the importance of civil liberties, we’re outraged about the routine abuse of same in this country, and we’re up on the latest developments re the DHS, TSA, VIPR, surveillance, etc. But boy, when they start talking about their guns, that’s when I tune out. They go on and on and on about them.

    I admit that if civil unrest in this country gets really bad, it’s going to be dangerous, and if roving bands of marauders decide to rampage down the street, I’m going to be screwed, but I still have no desire to get a gun.

  46. John Puma permalink
    January 26, 2012

    Re: US citizens seeking non-US citizenship

    1) Many countries will grant citizenship to those with relatives who were citizens in that country if familial connection can be documented (via birth, marriage, death certificates) AND that the generational passage of citizenship was not rejected for US citizenship prior to your birth. The wait after submission of all the necessary supporting documents. Check citizenship/immigration policies at appropriate government websites and/or websites of the US consulates of the countries of interest.

    2) Re: “A US passport can only go so far and getting citizenship in other countries will only become more difficult unless your net worth is $50,000,000 or more.”
    a) A US passport is basically irrelevant in terms of getting non-US citizenship, per se.
    b) The last time I looked, for Canada, a mere “$500,000″ was sufficient to buy citizenship.

    3) At the moment, one is not forced to give up US citizenship (by the US, anyway) if one receives a second citizenship. Do check the policy of the country of the second citizenship, however, if this is an important issue.

  47. groo permalink
    January 26, 2012

    agree with most of the arguments, BUT, friends, the upside of down is, that, if everything is downgraded nowadys by the 0.x% guys, they downgrade themselves as well.

    So let them downgrade everything to junk.
    Where then do they invest, exactly?
    Moon? Mars?

    To keep their RELATIVE status, they have to rely on loyal LOCAL force. This is the achilles heel of the global vigilantes, who increasingly are lost in the abstraction of their fancy gated communities or extraterritorial floating islands, or underground bunkers.

    I think they smell he heat.
    If they do not learn QUICK, they burn in their own fires.
    Soros and Buffett and even Bill Gates are aware that, I suppose.

    Their fellow looters do not. So this is sort of an infight, 10-90, I suppose.

  48. BDBlue permalink
    January 26, 2012

    On the gun thing, I just see it as more evidence of our elite incompetence. Why they think arming the populace they’re trying to crush is a good idea is a mystery to me? I mean, if you’re Gingrich or Obama and will be pursuing economic policies that will crush most Americans, why on earth would you want the proles to have access to assault weapons and large magazines?

  49. groo permalink
    January 26, 2012

    note:


    “Vigilante justice” is spurred on by the idea that criminal punishment is either nonexistent or insufficient for the crime. Those who believe this see their governments as ineffective in enforcing the law; thus, such individuals fulfil the like-minded wishes of the community. In other instances, a person may choose a role of vigilante as a result of personal experience as opposed to a social demand.

    Persons seen as “escaping from the law” or “above the law” are sometimes the targets of vigilantism.[3] It may target persons or organizations involved in illegal activities in general or it may be aimed against a specific group or type of activity, e.g. police corruption. Other times, governmental corruption is the prime target of vigilante freedom fighters.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vigilante

    Amen.

  50. Morocco Bama permalink
    January 26, 2012

    Ah….now I see what Romney meant when he said Self-Deportation. Who’ll be left to cook the French Fries if we all leave at once? Talk about a rapture. We’ll turn into massive migrating herds of Wildebeest roaming the planet in search of…….what? What will these great migrating herds be searching for, that’s the question that must be answered, and if it’s answered first, maybe there will be no great migrations.

  51. Celsius 233 permalink
    January 26, 2012

    Re leaving: One thing to remember; where ever YOU go there YOU are.
    Cliche? Yes, but true.
    One must be aware of ones foibles and personal issues, because one will not be able to run away from oneself.
    If one has never traveled (as I hadn’t) then it’s impossible to know what to expect; but with a healthy sense of adventure, openness, and no pre-conceptions; one can do well.
    It’s a big world and it’s not what you think.
    Americans are generally well regarded, if not our government.
    I had an amazing encounter in Lao; we had a taxi driver as a tour guide around Vientiane who was fighting first the French and then the Americans to throw them/us out. He was immensely proud to have successfully fought us, but; he was gracious and very informative even knowing I was an American. Never had one problem because of being an American anywhere in S.E. Asia.

  52. Celsius 233 permalink
    January 26, 2012

    Morocco Bama PERMALINK
    January 26, 2012
    Ah….now I see what Romney meant when he said Self-Deportation. Who’ll be left to cook the French Fries if we all leave at once? Talk about a rapture. We’ll turn into massive migrating herds of Wildebeest roaming the planet in search of…….what? What will these great migrating herds be searching for, that’s the question that must be answered, and if it’s answered first, maybe there will be no great migrations.
    _________________

    Good questions and the answers are important.
    But one must know one’s limits for being “ruled, governed, suppressed, cheated, and lied to” to make decisions.
    Some times one can accept limits when one knows the rules going in; as opposed to being told and propagandized about a reality that doesn’t exist except in some despot’s imagination. Cheers.

  53. groo permalink
    January 26, 2012

    Celsius

    …Never had one problem because of being an American anywhere in S.E. Asia….

    And what tells You that?

    The unforgiving lot is exactly where?
    The red staters and some shitty little country somewhere in the midle east. Right?
    The Far-Easterners are very forgiving. See the Vietnamese and their tolerant reaction to US-aggression.

    This is probably related to Buddhism.
    Just a guess.
    Monotheistic desert religions tend to be very unforgiving.
    Talmud/Kabbalah being the worst of the lot, because time is a flat -ever present-space.
    I once pondered this riddle: Hebraeic conception of time. Strange. Have-ahem- ‘temporaily’ given up on that.
    Again. Just guessing.

    A digression on the theme.
    Apologies.

  54. Benedict@Large permalink
    January 26, 2012

    Greece will default, but not until a substantial majority of their loans are rolled over.This is because a rolled over loan’s default will be adjudicated in Brussels, while those not yet rolled over will be adjudicated in Athens. The current haircut negotiations do NOT include any loans held by the Euro banks. These negotiations will NOT improve the chances of Greece not defaulting. They are intended only to allow more time for Euro bank loans to be rolled over. Greek anger over this humiliation will merge with Hungarian anger over their own stolen democracy and neoliberal impovershment, and we will have another powderkeg in the European periphery. And both are heavily armed.

  55. cathyx permalink
    January 26, 2012

    I am in the process of obtaining Italian citizenship. Italy is one of the very few countries where you can have dual citizenship. The process is lengthy and involved. My paternal grandparents came from Italy so I am eligible because I have a direct descendant from there. But I have to provide birth, death, marriage, and divorce certificates of everyone in the line of ascendancy, they need to be apostile and then translated. My mother is from Germany and I need her birth certificate too. Grandparents birth and death certificates from many years ago and hopefully they are on file somewhere. But the good thing about this is my daughter will also be getting hers because she is in this line.

  56. Jack Crow permalink
    January 26, 2012

    The Next American Misadventure (after the Middle East is reduced to chaos or clientage)?

    Mexico.

    Think big. Think annexation.

  57. Celsius 233 permalink
    January 26, 2012

    groo PERMALINK
    January 26, 2012
    Celsius
    …Never had one problem because of being an American anywhere in S.E. Asia….
    And what tells You that?
    The unforgiving lot is exactly where?
    The red staters and some shitty little country somewhere in the midle east. Right?
    The Far-Easterners are very forgiving. See the Vietnamese and their tolerant reaction to US-aggression.
    This is probably related to Buddhism.
    Just a guess.
    ___________________

    I doubt Buddhism has anything to do with acceptance here; but that, combined with it’s culture, may. I’m just not sure.
    IME, Thais are incredibly tolerant and patient, however; cross a certain line and at best they will never have anything to do with you, ever, or; at worst, they will violently, physically, attack.
    In 9 years, I have never witnessed this and don’t expect I ever will.
    As to M.E. cultures; I haven’t any first hand experience with that and won’t generalize about that which I have no first hand knowledge.
    Even here, I hear westerners constantly stereotyping the culture in which they are living.
    As I said up-thread; one takes ones baggage with one where-ever one goes. Best left home, IMO. Cheers.

  58. viajera permalink
    January 26, 2012

    A US passport can only go so far and getting citizenship in other countries will only become more difficult unless your net worth is $50,000,000 or more. Leaving a country every 90 days is financially and emotionally draining. What is the solution?

    It’s easy to get residency in Latin America on a MUCH, MUCH smaller net worth. You can get residency in Nicaragua (which is much safer than its reputation suggests – I know, I’ve lived there) for $750/month (retirement or other steady income source, at any age) or a $30k investment. In Costa Rica you need a $1k/mo pension or $2.5k/mo income as a rentista. In Panama you can get residency as a retiree on only $500/mo, or as a small business investor for $40k.

    As for someofparts’ question re: a single woman in a Latin culture – I’ve lived in each of these countries as a single, blond and fair-skinned gringa. It absolutely can be done. Yes, there’s some danger and some crime – but there’s danger and crime anywhere, including right here in the US. As I’ve said here previously, I was living in rural Nicaragua at the time of the 2008 financial crash and I had virtually no idea what was going on in the US and Europe. It just doesn’t penetrate there, it felt very distant. It has affected them in the long-run, in the form of diminished tourist dollars. But people there already know how to survive on very little, and life goes on. Panama seems particularly untouched by the global economic crisis. Since taking over the canal, their economy has exploded – new buildings are popping up all over Panama City. It may well just be another bubble, but like the rest of Central America, once you get out of the big cities and into the countryside it’s easy to live ridiculously cheaply and grow a lot of your own food. Personally, moving down there for good is my own long-term plan.

  59. viajera permalink
    January 26, 2012

    Also, re: Celsius 233′s comment Never had one problem because of being an American anywhere in S.E. Asia

    I can say the same for Central America, to a degree. Yes, when you’re new to the region – especially if your Spanish isn’t very good yet – you’re going to get ripped off. There’s two price systems there: the local price and the gringo price. When your Spanish sucks and the shopkeeper doesn’t know you, you’re going to pay the gringo price. But once the locals get to know you, and you get to know the language and local customs, you’ll pay the local price.

    But in a broader sense, I never had any problems there. I really worried about how I’d be accepted by Nicaraguans, given our very recent and bloody history there. But I found that people there were very friendly and welcoming, even those who had been personally affected by the war. One man who’d lost a hand fighting the Contras practically adopted me as a part of his family, and others made it clear that while they hated Bush, they didn’t hold that against me or us.

  60. Celsius 233 permalink
    January 27, 2012

    viajera
    January 26, 2012
    Yes, when you’re new to the region – especially if your Spanish isn’t very good yet – you’re going to get ripped off. There’s two price systems there: the local price and the gringo price. When your Spanish sucks and the shopkeeper doesn’t know you, you’re going to pay the gringo price. But once the locals get to know you, and you get to know the language and local customs, you’ll pay the local price.
    ________________________

    Had to chuckle at that; same, same here.
    Seems (as I’ve experienced) people are pretty much the same the world over.
    The Thai language is daunting, especially for an old fart like me, but I’ve learned and am learning everyday. Thais love it when a farang (a white westerner; and it’s not a racist term) can speak Thai. Cheers.

  61. two beers permalink
    January 27, 2012

    “You can have widespread prosperity and democracy, or you can have oligarchs. You can’t have both.”

    This is the most succinct analysis of politics and economics I’ve ever seen.

  62. Celsius 233 permalink
    January 27, 2012

    Cloud PERMALINK
    January 25, 2012

    stipendium imperii mors est
    ______________________
    Okay; what does it mean?
    The best I can surmise;
    The reward of imperialism is death.
    Yes/No?

  63. someofparts permalink
    January 27, 2012

    It does mean what you surmise Celsius. I looked it up on wiki myself.

    “The Next American Misadventure (after the Middle East is reduced to chaos or clientage)?
    Mexico.
    Think big. Think annexation.”

    Well, JC, we’ve already modified the U.S. legal system to make it line up with the one in Mexico, so I guess we’re on our way. Phyrric victories ‘r US.

    Thanks viajera, Celsius and Lisa Simeone for all the good advice about living out of country. You’ve actually got me kind of psyched up about it.

    I love cafe life. Few things are better to me than having a day to take my book to some cafe, get some coffee, maybe a bit of wine, and spend the afternoon snacking, reading, people watching and chatting with friends that happen by. If me and the dog can find that again somewhere I will be happy.

  64. C elsius 233 permalink
    January 27, 2012

    someofparts
    January 27, 2012
    It does mean what you surmise Celsius. I looked it up on wiki myself.
    _______________
    Thanks, I couldn’t find imperii.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Thanks viajera, Celsius and Lisa Simeone for all the good advice about living out of country. You’ve actually got me kind of psyched up about it.

    ________________
    I was lucky; I left with a job, but only had 12 days from first contact until I left.
    I was 2 weeks shy of 58 and I’ve only returned once to get my S.S. going.
    Good luck; it’ll add at least a decade to your life. Cheers…

  65. ultra permalink
    January 28, 2012

    LaughingCat permalink
    January 25, 2012

    “The only thing that matters is who has the power when the next age of technology rolls out. When nanotechnology, perfect lie detectors, quantum computers, advanced AI, and advanced electronics surveillance comes out within the next 10-20 years, I sure hope someone who respects civil liberties is in power, because if they aren’t, there will never be another chance to turn the tide. It will be too late.”

    It’s already too late. Hardly anyone in Washington respects civil liberties and the right to privacy, least of all Obama. The Federal government has at least three dozen intelligence agencies (and counting), whose budgets are constantly expanding. We’re already being spied upon in more ways than you can shake a stick at.

  66. January 28, 2012

    Seriously? Ian writes a post about the disintegration of a nation, about an entire world in economic meltdown, and the discussion is about where you would find it fun to live? There is revolution and rioting in America, but,

    “I love cafe life. Few things are better to me than having a day to take my book to some cafe, get some coffee, maybe a bit of wine, and spend the afternoon snacking, reading, people watching and chatting with friends that happen by.”

    This country is not worth saving.

  67. Compound F permalink
    January 28, 2012

    so, not being versed in econ, at all, I’m curious about your saying the oecd countries don’t want “growth;” that they just want to invest in china. Are you referring to pure “rentier-ism?”

    That is, their own economies can go to hell, as long as Jeff Immelt can make dough in China?

    That’s my understanding, but I wonder if that’s what you meant.

  68. Celsius 233 permalink
    January 28, 2012

    Bill H. PERMALINK
    January 28, 2012
    Seriously? Ian writes a post about the disintegration of a nation, about an entire world in economic meltdown, and the discussion is about where you would find it fun to live? There is revolution and rioting in America, but,
    _________________

    I/we’ve been fighting this for, how many years?
    At what point did an informed, intelligent, German leave Germany?
    America is a country; what makes it special? It’s freedom of expression? It’s democracy? It’s benevolence towards the world? It’s blatant attempt at hegemony?
    Rendition, torture, domestic spying, corporatism (fascism), and rigged elections?
    With all due respect; give me a fucking break!

  69. bob mcmanus permalink
    January 28, 2012

    Ian writes a post about the disintegration of a nation

    Last week reading about the recession the UK is moving into, and the profits Apple is enjoying, I was reminded somehow of the late 1970s, another period when America was in decline and collapse, our economy schlerotic and stagnant, our military impotent in the face of new and different threats, our competition (Japan) vibrant and innovative. And I remember how that turned out. Not well for workers, pretty good for elites. I even remember how it was in part done, through the smart leverage of our sovereign currency and the acquiescence of our polity to militarism and inequality.

    I hate this place with all my heart, but I do not ever underestimate how goddamn good we seem to be at the Empire game.

  70. Celsius 233 permalink
    January 28, 2012

    bob mcmanus
    January 28, 2012
    I hate this place with all my heart, but I do not ever underestimate how goddamn good we seem to be at the Empire game.
    ___________________
    Smart man!

  71. January 28, 2012

    ultra writes:

    It’s already too late. Hardly anyone in Washington respects civil liberties and the right to privacy, least of all Obama. The Federal government has at least three dozen intelligence agencies (and counting), whose budgets are constantly expanding. We’re already being spied upon in more ways than you can shake a stick at.

    Indeed. And the sheeple are just fine with it. That’s why they’re getting exactly what they asked for. Unfortunately, the rest of us are getting it, too.

  72. groo permalink
    January 28, 2012

    friends,

    I basically agree with Ian’s list.
    But there is something missing, which probably none of You is aware of.
    There is a considerable probability, of which presumably nobody here is aware of.
    Call me a nutcase, if you will.
    I’m more of a numbers guy, with a philosophical bend and intense interest in global affairs.
    You guys here are more from the social sciences side, with a political bend, I presume.
    Which is not a bad thing, to be sure.

    So what is possibly on the positive side?

    Look here: http://lenr-canr.org/

    Then read Jed Rothwells book: http://lenr-canr.org/acrobat/RothwellJcoldfusiona.pdf
    (The less technically inclined can go to the second part of his book.)

    Then follow his links.
    http://lenr-canr.org/Introduction.html#Links

    I have been into this for a meager 6 months and am stiil evaluating the implications.
    The google search-term is “e-cat”.
    To make a long story short, 2012 will probably be the most disruptive year since a long time.
    My guess: 10k years.

    If this is correct, and I have less doubt by the day, then most of the edifice, which is maintained by the socalled elite, will crumble in short time.

    I am currently working on an essay on the long-term implications of that, assuming 100% probabilty, i.e., certainty.

    As said. Call me a nutcase.
    The whole issue is currently still considered esoteric/improbale by >90% of scientists.
    I stick to my assessment:
    There is a disruptive technology at the doorsteps.

    Believe it or not.
    The more hardnosed can go to the vortex-l mailing list, to see what some hardnosed nuclear chemists/physicists currently are discussing.

    Current events on the application-side are here:
    http://www.defkalion-energy.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=926&start=60
    Maybe I am getting crazy. I ask myself everyday.
    Check it out Yourself.

  73. January 29, 2012

    I just love it when Ian gets all Doomy and such.

    The Future Is Bleak to be sure. For most of us poor sods, decline is programmed into the system. Witness the decline of the Russian People under the Rule of Rapine; no different in the USA or anywhere else. Once under way, it’s pretty near impossible to stop. No matter what we do. And “leaving” isn’t the answer, either, because the Rule of Rapine is already pretty much everywhere; where it hasn’t already been established, it will be soon enough. Buying the political systems of the nations is apparently one of the simplest, cheapest, and most productive investments ever discovered. The fact that the People can’t participate is a feature, not a bug.
    ————————-
    1) It is ugly now. 2013 could hardly be worse for many. On the other hand, the fact that the White House won’t have to think about elections any more obviously won’t make them “better.” It won’t necessarily make them worse, either. Hooverism will continue no matter.

    2) Fracking won’t be stopped until the sheltered existence of those who are profiting so much from it is disrupted. Since Fracking is capable of destroying groundwater supplies and of causing earthquakes, among other things, it could ultimately be self-cancelling. How long, O Lord? How long?

    3) & 6) It’s surprising how much the price of crude oil can go up and down without significantly affecting retail prices of gasoline and other petroleum products in the US. Yet in some cases, the slightest upward speculative move on the price of oil can have immediate and lasting consequences on retail prices, but if the upward jump is too much, the economy shudders a bit and the retail price goes back down a notch or two. In other words, the market price of crude oil and the retail price of its products (at least in the US) appear to be only marginally related. So a $20 rise in crude oil prices (due to ratcheting up the Iran Thing) may have no effect on the consumer end of it at all. Given the way that consumer prices have been manipulated over the last many years, a rise in crude prices like that — if due to cutting off Iran from the global market — can conceivably result in a reduction of consumer prices. It all depends. As for the World Economy, those who haven’t already built in an oil-cushion based on the years and years of build up to the impending Iran smash-and-grab face a potentially dire fate, but they can’t say they haven’t had plenty of warning.

    4) & 5) Austerity has a very positive function for those who believe in wealth transfers from the many to the few and in the disabling and discrediting of representative democracy and government of the People. It works beautifully. Coups — replacing elected governments with their ersatz — are part of the program, as is the election of more and more severe rightist governments where elections are still allowed to affect policy. Eventually, direct rule by selected corporate interests will be accepted as “better than” the alternative, which is the broken and discredited representative democracy of yore. Austerity is grease on the skids.

    7) This is the China Century, and it’s fascinating. Don’t think that China is a passive observer in what is going on outside the Middle Kingdom. Far from it. Not only is China an active player, it is an integral player. Further, China’s Way could well become the model, at least for a while, as the Developed World transitions from its failed political/economic systems to the shiny new political/economic systems being worked out in China today, much as the United States used to be the model.

    8) Yes, well, all this palaver about business “uncertainty” and “confidence” is just so much palaver isn’t it?

    9) Focus on 2016? To what object? A functioning presidential electoral system in this country was terminated in December of 2000. It has not been revived, nor will it be. It’s over. That part’s done. Still we muddle on. The Candidate Clown Car as Entertainment — and Big Bucks to Media.

    10) “Default” is being re-defined as we speak. What happens to the masses is of no concern whatever to those who rule them. What happens to the few who own the debts of nations is the only thing that matters — that’s been clear for years. If they can’t squeeze 100% and more out of the debtors on paper, they’ll do it some other way. As they’ve been successfully doing with mortgages in this country since the crash. Mortgage “default” can trigger multiple payoffs, a desirable outcome, no? The trick is to make the debts of nations into the same sort of “default” money machine.

    11) Yes, it does take a while for The People to get off their couches and do something that will put The Fear into their ruling class, and it takes a lot of consideration, discussion, experimentation and failed rebellion to get to the point where a Revolution is successful. There is no short path to Peoples’ victory in these matters, yet the path that is being taken globally is moving much faster than previous efforts along these lines, breathtakingly fast to many old fart observers, but not nearly fast enough to satisfy younger firebrands.

    The Old Future has been stolen, in its entirety. Gone as if it had never been imagined. So make a new one.

  74. Jumpjet permalink
    January 29, 2012

    Groo, fusion of ANY kind has been ten years away for fifty years. I’ll believe it when I see it in my local paper, and I might not even believe it then. Hope for the best, plan for the worst, and all that.

  75. January 29, 2012

    groo -

    The sweet siren song of technology. Ever since the wooden ships and steel blades (or, “Guns, Germs & Steel”) handed the rapacious warrior class of Western civilization the juicy fruits of the Americas and the Southern Hemisphere, technology has enabled us, defined us, and ultimately trapped us in a prison of our own making, isolated as we have become from the fact of our organic dependency on the world.

    Far be it from me to dash hopes – not that I’m equipped to decisively pull that off anyway – but there are some countermanding red flags to consider.

    A major one being the reliance on conspiracy as one of the explanatory threads in the “cold fusion” genre. Sorry – if it was feasible, even the greedheads in “conventional” energy business would have embraced it. Corporations are selling fucking water to people – I’m sure they would trip over themselves to get ahead of a new, promising energy source and meter the shit out of it.

    Another one is the tendency, displayed in Rothwell’s “book,” to conflate the relatively banal issue of new energy with other futuristic visions (“How Cold Fusion Will Change Society and Technology”, “Synergy: Cold Fusion Combined With Other Breakthroughs”). This reeks of forced narrative.

    Buried in some of the factual information (the book, and the cold fusion genre, has a lot of good science and facts), but hardly emphasized, is the energy inputs required for this whole scheme to work. I’m not talking about “excess heat” – the net positive energy from a successful reactor – but the infrastructure of manufacture and materials. “Batteries” should get our attention. We’re talking rare metals – the kind that spark resource wars like… Afghanistan, which apparently rivals China in precious metals of the sort beloved by the electronics industry and, presumably, any nascent cold fusion infrastructure. Introduce scarcity into any energy scheme – and there will always be scarcity – and it’s the same old greedhead dynamic.

    There are probably some others I’m missing at the moment – the subject sometimes exhausts me, and I’m not feeling particularly eloquent this morning – but, for me, the biggest red flag of all is just how psychologically appealing the idea is that technology can save us all. This is something I simply want a little too much to be true. Progress, progress, ever progress! We were right all along!

    Far easier than fundamentally re-evaluating my relationship with the world.

    So no, not crazy… just a little “clingy.”

    From the book:

    Many people have a sneaking suspicion that cold fusion must be too good to be true, because nature never does something for nothing. They think everything is difficult, and there is always a price to pay for the bounty of nature. Resources are now and always will be in short supply, and we must therefore compete with others to get our share. Such people are mired in a stone-age mentality…

    Aside from the “therefore compete” conclusion, I resemble this remark. Stone-age mentality because some things have not changed since the stone-age, and are not likely to. The second law of thermodynamics, for one…

  76. groo permalink
    January 29, 2012

    jumpjet, Petro,

    I agree, and observing myself, it is easier to put the issue up here in some blog, then I do with my hardnosed, albeit wellmeaning colleagues I have to cope with Monday to Friday.
    It should be the other way round, right?
    So I consider this as a fact of life, that it is the other way round.

    The net is somehow a mental laboratory of latent action, and as such gets into the focus of data miners and such. Very dangerous.

    But let me dream:

    Re LENR, I have to say, that the effect itself is 99% confirmed, from NASA to MIT, and a couple of groups pretend that the effect can be commercialized in 2012, or in principle.

    This is not to say, that ‘technology will save us’.
    I am nearly viscerally opposed to that.

    The issue I wanted to raise, is, that even the eventuality of LENR presents a serious challenge to one’s belief-system.
    At least mine.

    This is enough of an issue to to rethink my belief-system, in that how robust it is wrt a challenge like LENR.
    And I find out, that I have to -well- rethink it.

    LENR, if it is true, does not solve our problems, but buys us some time. Maybe 200 years. according to my estimation.
    It would destroy our current way of economic interaction. This I personally am sure.
    Even if it is completely fictitious, the imagination of such a possibility alone gives us a hint, regarding our hidden drives toward such an imagined future.

    Hope this is not too cryptic.

  77. Celsius 233 permalink
    January 29, 2012

    Ché Pasa PERMALINK
    January 29, 2012

    And “leaving” isn’t the answer, either, because the Rule of Rapine is already pretty much everywhere; where it hasn’t already been established, it will be soon enough.
    ________________

    Well, I can’t agree with that. “Leaving” as an escape is ridiculous and futile; leaving as means of improving/maintaining one’s quality of life is another thing altogether.
    Beyond that, your essay is interesting and at first blush would seem fairly astute.

  78. January 29, 2012

    Celsius233,

    What I’m pointing to is that soon enough there will be nowhere left where one can improve/maintain one’s (material) quality of life — unless, of course, one is already one of the favored few; spiritual matters are something else. The Iron Rule of Rapine…

  79. Jumpjet permalink
    January 29, 2012

    I assume that by the end of 200 years we’ll have colonized the solar system or something?

    I would certainly hope so, if we’re talking about cold fusion.

  80. Celsius 233 permalink
    January 29, 2012

    Ché Pasa PERMALINK
    January 29, 2012
    Celsius233,
    What I’m pointing to is that soon enough there will be nowhere left where one can improve/maintain one’s (material) quality of life — unless, of course, one is already one of the favored few; spiritual matters are something else. The Iron Rule of Rapine…
    ___________________

    Speaking for myself; I do not equate “quality” of life with materialism.
    Food, shelter, healthcare, and reasonable security from state sponsored terrorism; these things I value and have.
    Materialistically; you can count me among the minimalists. We don’t drive a new car and by choice, have no air-conditioning in a tropical country. Choosing instead to use trees and plants to control our environment.
    I have no idea if you have traveled, but not all countries have bought the kool-aide (yet) and it is still possible to find places relatively unaffected by the western nonsense and economics.
    I certainly didn’t leave to be able to live large; I left so I could live; without living in a ghetto.
    Not knowing the future, but knowing it is not “fixed”, I’ll go with the Buddhist monks statement regarding the future; “We’ll see…”

  81. January 30, 2012

    Well, Celsius, that kind of leave taking strikes me as a good deal more spiritual than not. It’s still possible, I think, to do it domestically, though it takes a certain frame of mind to ward off both the relentless propaganda and the material temptations; it can be easier in a foreign land — if you can get there — where those pressures may not be so strong.

    The Buddhist concept of “surrender” can help…

  82. Formerly T-Bear permalink
    January 30, 2012

    Nicole Foss a.k.a. Stoneleigh at The Automatic Earth had a presentation transcribed, a part of which is quoted here:

    We need to begin at the individual level because if we are on a solid foundation ourselves we can then help others. If we are not then our attempt to help others is fundamentally weakened. So we have to get our own house in order but then we have to think much more broadly. We must build community. Relationships of trust are the foundation of society. So we need to work with our neighbors, we need to know our neighbors and we need connections with family and community so we’re less dependent on money.

    In many parts of the world where people really don’t have any money anyway, their society functions on barter and gifts, working together, exchanging skills. This works as a model. It doesn’t get you a large fancy sophisticated industrial society because it doesn’t scale up that well. But it works very well at a small scale, and this is the kind of structure that we need to rebuild.

    In some parts of the world there’s a lot more of that than in other parts. So it’s actually interesting to think that it’s not necessarily the places that are the wealthiest at the moment that will do best in the future.

    The analogy I use is that if you’re going to fall out of a window how much it hurts when you hit the ground depends on how many floors up you were at the time. If you were on the hundredth floor and you do nothing to prepare before you fall it’s going to be fatal. If you’re much further down it’s less painful. If you fell out of a ground floor window you might not even notice. You just pick yourself up, dust yourself off and not very much has changed.

    So the places that will do best are the places where there is already a lot of trust at the foundational level, where people are used to working together, where people are not that far removed from the land. Places where there’s an enormous disconnect between resources that are available in that area and what resources that are actually used, where societies are highly atomized and used to a very high standard of living, those places will see enormous shock to the system because those people don’t have any skills or connection to land or family to fall back on.

    It illuminates the discussion here from another germane perspective, maybe broadening horizons as well.

  83. Formerly T-Bear permalink
    January 30, 2012

    An exquisite piece of writing appeared in translation on Juan Cole’s Informed Comment and is worth the read:

    http://www.juancole.com/2012/01/beji-we-are-all-tunisian-jews.html

    if not a bookmark.

  84. Celsius 233 permalink
    January 30, 2012

    Formerly T-Bear
    January 30, 2012

    _____________
    As usual; hammer-on-nail. I’ve advocated this (Nicole Foss a.k.a. Stoneleigh at The Automatic Earth) for years here and elsewhere; to no avail.
    Community; without it, all fails as evident in America today.
    If I could have gotten through the stupid social cliques in the small communities in which I lived in the states I’d have probably stayed.
    Failing that; fuck ‘em; let them hold hands and sing kumbai ya as they go to hell in their carefully constructed and protected fantasies they think is a reality.
    I’ll definitely check out your Juan Cole link and get back to you. Cheers.

  85. Celsius 233 permalink
    January 30, 2012

    Formerly T-Bear PERMALINK
    January 30, 2012
    An exquisite piece of writing appeared in translation on Juan Cole’s Informed Comment and is worth the read:
    http://www.juancole.com/2012/01/beji-we-are-all-tunisian-jews.html
    if not a bookmark.
    _______________

    Hélé Béji; her prose are like music/poetry. Very powerful writing, thanks.

  86. alyosha permalink
    January 30, 2012

    T-Bear – thanks for the quote from Automatic Earth. This thinking parallels quite a bit of what Dmitry Orlov wrote in ReInventing Collapse, and is something I’ve been trying to put into words of my own, as I explain to (a few) others why I believe things will be particularly bad in the US. Will also check out the Juan Cole article.

    Celcius – thanks for the info on Iran, way upstream. And I like what I’ve been reading about Thailand.

  87. Celsius 233 permalink
    January 30, 2012

    alyosha PERMALINK
    January 30, 2012
    _______________

    You’re very welcome. If you’ve any questions regarding the LOS (aka Thailand); I’ll be happy to answer as best as I can.

    IME, people generally have no problems communicating cross culturally; the problems start when governments co-opt the people with their vested agendas/propagandas which generally have nothing to do with the wishes or interests of the population.
    With the exception of Iceland, I’m hard pressed to come up with governments that actually represents its people.
    That puts a huge responsibility on individuals to act in accordance with their heart driven conscience.

  88. bobbyp permalink
    February 1, 2012

    Your optimism gives me hope. Thanks.

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