The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Open Thread

Use to discuss topics unrelated to recent posts.


The TikTok Forced Sale


Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – March 17, 2024


  1. Eric Anderson

    This is huge:

    National Assoc. Realtors (NAR) agrees to drop 6% commission in monopoly lawsuit

    I’ve maintained forever that you are better off finding some homes/property you like and hiring a lawyer. Even at like $300 hr, you will always come in cheaper than the commission, with some assurance that your attorney (agent) knows what to do if things go sideways during your deal.

    For example, I’m just wrapping up a 2.6 million commercial sale right now. I have maybe 10 billable hours into the matter. Do the math at whatever billable rate you choose vs. the standard 6% cut from realtors, who basically just check boxes on a form and let the title company do all the real work. You’ll see the disconnect.

    Also, watch Wall Street. This is the type of seismic event that bursts bubbles. I can already see Wall Street doesn’t look happy on the tickers. Think Blackrock. If this comes to impact homes prices, let’s say, 6% downward? Well, then you can be assured the Blackrocks of the world just took a massive hit.

    Celebrate folks. This is a big victory for consumers over monopoly. In the short term, however, market temper tantrums may be problematic.

  2. bruce wilder

    I have my doubts about the change in the rules governing realtor’s commissions.

    As an economist, not a lawyer, I am inclined on general principles to predict any chaotic breaking of institutional rules to settle eventually into a “market for lemons”. There are a lot of pressures in the residential real estate market especially on stereotypical “first-time” buyers who are normally cash-constrained that would lead them to make poor choices with regard to representation in the transaction.

    The people who sell houses and condominiums have a lot of incentives to deceive and to subvert the integrity of third-parties to the transaction such as government officials, title insurance, home inspectors, appraisers, mortgage brokers, escrow, bankers and the like. Making it easier for a buyer to perhaps naively “shop around” to save money seems likely to make a deteriorating institutional situation worse.

    This development is part of an increasingly dynamic institutional breakdown in residential real estate transactional models driven by a number of factors. It is complicated and in an important sense “inevitable” that “the rules of the game” would change, but this is one rule affecting one small subset of relationships amidst many rules and relationships. There is no one to play architect and the way this has gone down will significantly affect the ability of the NAR to play the politics as volunteer architect. That may have consequences down the road as the chaos settles into a new pattern, but there are good reasons to expect that new pattern to be an ugly one, too.

  3. Stewart Millen

    I’ve been meaning to post this the past few weeks, but the Open Thread was either late or I was busy. But this echoes everything Ian has written about the subject, from a conventional ‘mainstream’ source too.

    From my free NYT feed:

    When Sanctions Fail

    After Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022, Western nations imposed the most extensive sanctions and trade restrictions in history on Moscow. Today, Russia appears to be doing OK.

    Its economy is growing steadily. Russia can’t buy much from the West but has found new providers for drones, surveillance gear, computer chips and other gear. Its oil and gas sales are still strong, despite attempts to stop them. Russian officials say they have plenty of money to pay for their war.

    Moscow’s continued strength is a humbling result for the U.S. and its allies. These nations make up more than half of the global economy, and they tried to weaponize their influence over trade and finance to weaken Russia. They hoped to make President Vladimir Putin a pariah and maybe even stop the war. Today, I’ll explain why those efforts have fallen short — and whether they can be made to work again.

    Absorbing the blows

    The measures against Russia go far beyond traditional sanctions, which historically have targeted banks and elites. Those rules limit how much tech Russia can import, and they direct shipping companies and insurers to cap the price of Russia’s oil at $60 per barrel — well below market rate.

    The sanctions took a toll. They raised the cost of many items for Russian civilians and forced the military to buy shoddier missiles and semiconductors. For Russian energy companies like Gazprom and Rosneft, exports to the West have plunged. But the Russian economy has proved surprisingly adaptable, thanks partly to its relationship with China.

    It may seem surprising that Russia could so quickly replace so much of its trade with the U.S., Japan and the E.U. But the rest of the global economy — especially China’s — is large enough that the shift didn’t take long. China already makes much of what Russia needs and can buy much of what it sells. Trade between China and Russia hit a record high last year as Russians turned to Chinese cars, electronics and weapons components. “China has to a large extent blunted the pain,” said Eswar Prasad, a trade economist at Cornell University.

    A chart shows the change in imports to Russia by country compared with the first quarter of 2019. China and India have both increased their imports to Russia, while the United States and other Western nations have remained at low levels.

    Source: Silverado Policy Accelerator, Global Trade Tracker, UN Comtrade, ASEANstats, and national statistics offices | Data through the third quarter of 2023. | By Ashley Wu

    Another change has been the rise of a network of shipping companies, insurers and oil traders that does not answer to Western rules. This network, based in countries like China, India and the United Arab Emirates, has expanded since the war began to provide new channels for Russian oil. Thanks to this shadow fleet, Russia can get around the Western price cap on its oil by using shipping companies that don’t comply with it. And Russians are still getting TVs, chips and cellphones through traders in Central Asia and the Middle East who buy them from the West and sell them at a markup.

    The West chose not to put in place some tough measures, such as a full oil embargo, for fear they could disrupt the global economy. Unlike some nations the U.S. has penalized before — think of Cuba, Iran and Venezuela — Russia is better integrated into world trade. It exports commodities other countries need, such as steel and fertilizer. And it still provides much of Europe’s energy. Pain aimed at Russia would be felt well beyond its borders.

    The limits of Western power

    Finally, the newest sanctions — the ones that try to constrain Russia’s access to technology and its oil sales — have not been as effective. The U.S. wields much less influence over these sectors than it does over the banking sector, which is tethered to the dollar. The new measures, imposed in 2022, made it harder and more expensive for Russia to do business abroad. But they haven’t wounded its economy enough to make most Russians question the war. “The mood in Russia is, the whole world is against us, but we are managing quite well,” said Maria Snegovaya, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

    U.S. officials acknowledge all this. Still, they say they imposed costs that other nations will have to weigh before violating international law. Officials call that a win, even if the measures didn’t send Russia into a recession or end the war.

    Putin sees it differently. “The instruments and the policies of the United States are ineffective,” Putin bragged during his interview last week with Tucker Carlson, according to a Russian government translator.

    He is surely not the only leader to notice the U.S. failure to cripple Russia. When China wants to menace Taiwan or India wants to assassinate perceived enemies on foreign soil, they will know that Washington couldn’t turn Russia into a pariah when it broke the rules. In that way, sanctions in Russia have exposed the limits of U.S. power.

  4. StewartM


    We need that and more, like forcing hedge funds to sell their housing units:

    I’m getting offers in the mail routinely to buy my home, and to buy some undeveloped property I have in another state, as much as $100,000 more than the appraised value. These go into the trash can, as whatever I own will go to heirs, not to Wall Street.

    And one must think–what would Wall Street do with this property? Other than rent it out at an exorbitant price to cover their costs (recouped in the short-term, of course!) and let the property go to hell, maintenance-wise? This isn’t even a smart way to manage real estate, as any homeowner and small landlord knows, as you destroy the property. But these greedy idiots don’t care any more when they run successful businesses into the ditch.

  5. Curt Kastens

    The official unemployment rate in Germany for Feb 2024 is 6.1%. There are 200,000 more unemployed than 1 year ago. None the less 6.1% is not a historically bad figure.
    I just thought that some people would want to know.

  6. Z

    Alexander Mercouris is saying that the Russians are storing nuclear weapons in Belogrod, which is where Russian dissidents allied with the Ukrainians attacked this past week, and that the purpose of their attack was to seize those weapons.


  7. Chuck Mire

    A World of Ideas with Bill Moyers: Isaac Asimov interview, 1988:

    Broadcast on 10/18/1988 (27:04)

    In Part 2, (@ 14:48), Asimov discusses his love of learning and his then future paradigm for learning which resembles our internet today.

    Isaac Asimov predicted precisely what the internet would eventually become in 1988. He even brilliantly predicted the teaching role that YouTube would take, saying, “Once we have computer outlets in every home, each of them hooked to enormous libraries. Where anyone can ask any question and be given answers.”

    Asimov had just completed his 391st book, “Far As Human Eye Could See”, a collection of science essays, published in 1987.

    Part 1 was broadcast on 10/11/1988 and can be viewed here: (27:04)

    In 1988 the PBS presenter Bill Moyers interviewed science fiction writer Isaac Asimov in what would be one of his best and last TV interviews. Asimov discusses: overpopulation, religion, science-fiction, evolution, and many global issues that still effect us today.

    A Complete list of books, short stories and essays by Asimov:

  8. Eric Anderson

    Bruce Wilder:
    Yes, the fallout will be interesting to watch. But as I said above, go to a lawyer. There are a host of reasons. And sure, I’m a lawyer so of course this will appear biased. Take what I have to say as honest or not.
    1. Traditionally, prior to the monopoly, that’s the way property was conveyed if there was any complexity to the deal. Which brings me to #2.
    2. Lawyers differ from realtors in a couple of major respects as concerns this topic: (a) Actually knowing what they’re doing, and why. Remember, we wrote all those form contracts realtors use, and don’t understand. We do. (b) Lawyers have a duty to allow clients to make “informed decisions.” This means appraising them of the risk/reward of their decisions, which can’t be done unless the client is educated to the subject matter. Which leads to (c) a client that uses a lawyer in a property transaction will always walk away with a wealth of knowledge that will serve them well in future transactions.
    3. Monopoly protections. The bar associations have made sure laws are on the books to prevent conflicts of interest. Noncompete agreements are also proscribed in our profession which maintains a competitive environment. And billable rates are regulated by the courts regionally. For example, recovering atty fees post judgment is governed by statute. The key is, lawyers seldom get their full attorney fees. The courts award “reasonable” atty fees. What is reasonable in NYC is not reasonable in Hamilton MT. Every dollar a lawyer bills above his local colleagues average is a dollar the judge may take away.

    Finally, deals go sideways All. The. Time. Then what happens? You’ve paid a real estate agent — who always hides behind their contract and runs. Then, you pay for a lawyer as well to fix the problem the realtor, very often, created. Having an atty/client relationship before trouble starts saves time, frustration, and money. And, trouble is a lot less likely to start when you use somebody that actually knows why the provisions in those contracts exist.

    The huge real estate deceit, and why the lawyers went after the National Realtors Association is that you had to be a “licensed realtor” to get in on the Multi-State Listing Service (MLS). Wait, what! Why? What qualifications does a real estate agent, who took a two month course, have over an attorney with a J.D.? None. It was a farce. Then add the fact that they’re under qualified for the service provided, and yeah, lawyers got their nose out joint.

    I predict this will fall out with anyone who wants to pay for it having access to the MLS, but since you have to be a licensed realtor, broker, or attorney to 3rd party convey property, the increase in lawyers playing that role will increase big time. The trick to making it work well for the consumer will be not allowing lawyers to enter into contingent real property sales contracts. Which, is already a thing, for example in family law matters.

    Believe it or not, most lawyers take their ethical responsibilities seriously. We only see the examples (looking at you Giuliani) of a tiny minority abusing the system, we created ourselves, to maintain legitimacy in the public eye. And when we see other lawyers abusing that system, those of us who don’t step in and burn down their legal house.

    Real property conveyance is complex. It’s the nature of the beast. But, if people want to go it alone they’re welcome to. That’s why god invented the quitclaim deed. Low cost, high risk … buyer beware.

  9. higgins'lads

    There are very good realtors who know all the legal information that Eric talks about, at least as far as any layperson needs to. I took a realty class in NJ years ago and subsequently passed the exam. My intent was to do it part time, but I ended up getting a better job in the transportation industry I was already working in, so I never signed on with a realtor. But the class I took at Weichert Realtors, which was big at the time, was excellent.

    As bruce alluded to, this just seems like a continued race to the bottom. The process of buying and selling a home remains an ‘intimate’ one for many. This may seem like a really weird analogy, but I think a good realtor acts like a nurse with a good bedside manner. A major life decision isn’t reduced to just a lawyerly economic transaction, which can be a lonely, empty place for many.

    I should add here that there was a British company whose name escapes me now that was trying to upend the entire realty industry in the US back in the early 2000’s, I believe. They were obviously unsuccessful.

  10. Eric Anderson

    Wow. My clients are basically family at the end of representation. And they just keep coming back because they “trust me with their lives.” Must be the difference between urban and small town lawyers. That impersonal characterization just blows me away. Stuff goes wrong I dig in fight for them. I have never, once, seen that from a realtor. They get that 6% they are GONE.

    As to the “realtors who know all the legal information that Eric talks about” quip. How do you know? I mean, how do you compare? How do you tell the difference between blue and green, if you’ve never seen blue? Sounds pretty Dunning-Kruger to me.

  11. Eric Anderson

    Furthermore, higgins’lads, how do *you* know what a *layperson* needs to know? How, precisely, are *you* not a layperson? Could you please lay it out point by point so I can tell if you’re just puffing?

  12. Joe

    My longtime fire insurance company just dropped me. It’s true the area is a tinderbox in the summer and the utility companies power delivery system keeps setting it alight. I now have to rely on a state mandated plan similar to car insurance for drunk drivers. My agent told me it’s going to cost triple but don’t worry since it’s mandated that a company must provide it just purchase it during fire season then drop it the rest of the year. Climate change is now warping the bets of the of the big money.

  13. Curt Kastens

    Today is Saint Patrick’s Day. not April Fool’s day. I guess that since this article was placed on the internet today it is proogh that the IQs of people who have had severe Covid is dropping. (today?)

    Humanity might have a tad bit of IQ left. But humanity has certianly run out of shame.

  14. Curt Kastens

    If I had Macron’s ear I would twist Macron’s year until he understood that NATO must be defeated. The defeat of NATO can be defined as the US getting all of its military personnel out of Europe. Bees and all.

  15. bruce wilder

    The Ukraine War continues in an information vacuum. I have never identified a commentator who isn’t committed to one side or the other and isn’t engaged in cheerleading. I will admit I lean toward some pro-Russian commentators as somewhat more credible if still not balanced. This leaves mainstream U.S. and U.K. media mostly out of my purview as stenographers of Kagan, Inc or the Ukrainian PR operation.

    One thing that makes the Russophiles easier to stomach is that some at least are realists, while mainstream Media are war mongers and often insist on a comic book morality that emphasizes Putin’s 2022 aggression as the moral “beginning” and morally dispositive event.

    Still, I remain interested in how stable Putin’s regime really is. I suspect “not very”. And, though he will be elected today, I do not think he will last much longer. Even if he lives and holds onto power, his grip must weaken and I do not think that much is certain. That is not a subject attracting much intelligent commentary.

    U.S. policy has elevated the Russophobes in Eastern Europe and fed centrifugal forces in the RF as well as the ugliest elements in Ukraine, probably destroying the latter for a generation. Ukraine has suffered worse and sort of recovered but it doe not look good. Putin seems wise enough not to “own” much that the West broke, but his successor will not be.

    In the West, there are strong signals that democracy will be further suppressed and with it the ability to change policy in adaptive directions. I saw Tucker Carlson wryly observe that only Glenn Greenwald seemed suitably alarmed about this. Again, an information vacuum.

  16. different clue

    Where democracy appears to exist and function at regional and/or local levels here in America, people might still be able to change regional and/or local policies in more survivalist direction. ( Except for those regional localities where the majority of people are anti survival, anti-adaptation, etc. Those areas will reveal themselves as well. Survivalist adaptationists living in those areas will have to move to regions and localities which seem to be pro-survival and pro-adaptation.)

    Also perhaps change regionalocal vernacular cultures in a more survivalist direction as well. ( While the vernacular cultures in the anti-survival/ anti-adaptation areas become more anti-survival and anti-adaptation).

  17. Eric Anderson

    Different clue:

    I live in the “American Redoubt.”
    It’s everything you’re talking about and more.

    But paradoxically, the true believers are also militantly anti-vax, and anti-climate, anti-free speech book banners. In short, Christian Nationalists. Nazis for short.

    I put my money them being able to pull together, adapt and survive as well as any place in the world. I’m just not sure you’d want to live in their Stasi hellscape.

  18. GrimJim

    Two observations.

    First, we are no longer dealing with climate change. We are staring into the face of full climate collapse. Events are going to occur two or three orders of magnitude faster than even the worst case scenarios. Thundersnow in July, heatstroke weather in December, random desertification, strange reglaciations, etc. I’d love to see a comprehensive rundown of where things currently stand with climate science.

    Second, a similar situation with democracy, freedom, and the rule of law in the United States. It is fascinating to watch the decline and fall of the American Empire and Western “Civilization” in real time. That all anyone can do while Trump promises revolution, bloodbaths, and pogroms if he does not win tin November, and respond with nothing more than, “Well golly, that’s awful to say,” is mind boggling. That it continues and builds space tells me that the true PTB are really behind him and his followers, and come 2025, we will bebin the depths of a nightmare that makes Gilead, Airstrip One, and the Purge seem like Saturday morning cartoons.

    To think that even a decade ago, such proclamations as Trump makes would have made him a third-party pariah, and yet here he is, the virtually unchallenged leader of the Republican Party? How truly deep the rot must have gotten long ago (or had always been) that we did not notice the tree had already long since turned to slime…

  19. different clue

    @Eric Anderson,

    I first read about the American Redoubt when I read about a kind of corn bred for tomorrow’s harsh conditions called Painted Mountain.

    Here is an American Redoubter-type blog which has linkable searchable sections on Painted Mountain corn. People who are just strictly interested in the corn can find the corn-relevant links and work from there.

    The trick for centrish or leftish people who are a majority or hopefully a commanding majority in their region would be to learn the material ways and means of the Redoubters and repurpose them for centrish and/or leftish community survival purposes. A neat trick, I suppose, if doable.

    I think I remember reading a few years ago in comments that you were not at-the-time interested in part-time subsistence gardening as a “survival side-hustle” on the side. But if you ever get interested in that, Painted Mountain corn might be a good survival-augmentation plant to learn to work with, seeing as it was bred in Montana for Montana conditions.

  20. different clue


    The other interesting thing to note about Trump’s ” Mein Big Beautiful Kampf” type pronouncements is how Naked Capitalism and its pro-Trump Amen Corner are becoming a sump of MAGAsbara on that subject. Any criticism of their ever-strengthening support for fascistrumpism and the maganons is dismissed as TDS. If you criticise Trump over there they accuse you of TDS in the same way that if you criticise Israel, the Israel supporters accuse you of antisemitism.

  21. higgins'lads

    Eric, I’m not going to get into a rural/suburban/urban back and forth with you. More silly division. There are ‘good’ and ‘bad’ people everywhere.

    I haven’t been able to find the name of the UK company I mentioned, but here is an article from 2021 written by a high finance guy who emanates the same self-interested excitement about tearing the whole edifice down that Eric does.

    This guy uses the word ‘cartel’ to describe middle class people making a living! Who is the real cartel here? A Goldman Sachs guy partners with Lion Capital, Jeb Bush and Chris Christie and we’re supposed to believe they’re fighting for us? This is a cruel joke, right?

    Sure, the fees are often too high (the fees have always been negotiable and in fact often are negotiated below the 3% on each side). But, as seems to be always the case at this stage, any reductions in price will go predominantly to the banking and lawyer cartels.

    Many lawyers are known to bill people for the 15 minutes they may have been pondering how to work out the intricacies of the intentionally absurdly legal complexities of their own discipline while taking a shower in the morning.

    Vested interests everywhere. ‘It’s hard for a person to see the truth…’ Etc.

  22. Curt Kastens

    The above link, if it is true, I suspect that it is true, shows that the Germans are much smarter on average than the Canadians or Americans, I suspect much smarter than the English or Australians as well.
    But the article still reveals that there are huge numbers of really really stupid Germans.
    Most Germans are still under the impression that they are citizens of a free, democratic, country that operates by the rule of law. They somehow think that the Russians are the barbarians and that they and their American overlords are God’s gift to mankind when in fact they and their American Overlords are God’s Gift FOR Mankind.

  23. Curt Kastens

    Well Bargo goes so far early in his article to call the Covid pandemic a global madness. But then he goes on to explain it away with what would be a non conspiratorial origin of this madness.
    But his explination falls really flat with me. Humans societies are not flocks of birds.
    I am starting to come favor the idea that the reason for the plandemic was actually to destroy the credibility of Medical Authority.
    That is one motive that might unite the powers that be in normally atagonistic countries.
    Non conspiratorial explinations can not explain how so many people so thouroughly believed that lots of people died during the plandemic that any one how would try to raise doubts about this assertions would be labeled a lunatic. I would not lable any one who beleived that lots of people died a fool because a huge amount of effort was put in to convincing people that huge amounts of people did actually die from what had previously been a harmless virus.
    But I think that it is time for those people to admit that they were duped. If that virus was ever out there it would still be out there and emergency rooms would be getting swamped and doctors would be wearing masks not only in the hospital but in the grocery store as well.
    Well on second thought maybe they do not have to admit they were duped becausse maybe they knew that they were dupping others for what they thought was a good cause. But I think that they have to ask themselves now, was it really for a good cause.

  24. Eric Anderson

    That’s good you’re not going to go into the rural/urban thing, because you seem to misapprehend the issue entirely.

    It’s not about good or bad. It’s about the business model. Urban lawyers can screw you over and 10 people who don’t know each other are in line to knock on the door.

    Screw one person over in a small town and they’ve told 10 of their friends before they leave the office. When your town consists of 20 people? You’re not in business long. Small town lawyers live and die by reputation and referrals. The “bad” ones don’t last long.

    As to the trading one master for another, there is some truth to that. But, to argue by analogy, when you have cancer, you don’t go to a nurse. There’s a hidden cancer in every real property transaction. At least in the medical context, if you pay for nurse to diagnose you, you’ve paid less for a crappy diagnosis. In the property context, you pay the nurse more than the doctor.

    Seriously, do the math. Take 6% of 100k, and then how many hours a lawyer would have to work at various billable rates to match the take.

  25. Eric Anderson

    “Never pick a fight with a man who buys ink by the barrel.”

    — Mark Twain

  26. GrimJim

    That’s how you take down a load-bearing wall in the Union…

    The Yugoslavification of the soon to be DISUnited States proceeds apace…

    Everyone says we’re looking at “Northern Ireland Style Troubles,” when in fact, we’re looking at Yugoslavia-style Balkanization at best, with heaping helpings of Rwandan-style Genocide all around and straight up Nazi German-style Industrial Genocide here and there (Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, maybe a few other Dixieland states) combined with the return of race-based Chattel Slavery (Old Confederacy, mostly).

    “Troubles,” indeed!

  27. different clue

    I referrenced a blog up above which had used to have useful links to Painted Mountain Corn. I took a closer look at it just to be sure and now it seems to not actually have those links. Perhaps it has just made them harder to get to.

    But just in case it really doesn’t have the useful thru-links it had, here is a bunch of images of Painted Mountain Corn. Every image has the url it came from. One can go url-diving to see which urls lead to interesting information about Painted Mountain Corn.;_ylt=AwrFQZ7PBvplcQQAlGlXNyoA;_ylu=Y29sbwNiZjEEcG9zAzEEdnRpZAMEc2VjA3Nj?p=painted+mountain+corn+image&fr=sfp

    ( My memory is that Dave Christensen of Montana spent 20 years breeding up Painted Mountain corn by mixing and crossing every Northern Plains type of Indian corn he could so as to have a total mix of all of them. He then subjected this to selection in harsh Montana conditions to get a high protein fast-maturing corn which could withstand some of the global warming climate chaos decay conditions he expects in the future.)

    Here is a link to a source of Painted Mountain and also Montana Morado corn, with a tiniest thumbnail sketch about Dave Christensen’s work.

    Here is another source for Painted Mountain corn with links to more extensive articles about Dave Christensen himself.
    ( or at least it did, but just lately Dave Christensen’s website has been converted to
    this . . . )
    is parked free, courtesy of
    Get This Domain”

    How crap. What sad. Perhaps the true website still exists on the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.

  28. Curt Kastens

    This is my second attempt to send these comments as the first attempt did not load.

    The war between Russia and NATO will not end until one side or the other collapses.
    Peace is not possible because the west has made it abundantly clear that a Russia that does not follow their orders is an unacceptable situation. Russia will not negotiate with such a mafia. None the less I do not fear a nuclear war as the result of one side or the other collapsing. The reason why is once one side or the other has reached that level its leaders will no longer be able to maintain command and control over subordinante units.

    I also do not fear economic poverty for the people of western europe if the Russians should manage to liberate all of the european lands east of the Atlantic ocean.
    The way I see is that the western leaders have been so economically incomptent that even if the Russians treat the western europeans like conquored colonies the Russians will be able to extract repatriations from the europeans, for the unjust war that the europeans have waged not only against Russia but the entire planet, the Russians will be able to simultaneously improve the lives of most europeans until such time that the conditions resulting from environmental collapse make improvements for anyone impossible.
    Therefore no normal european should fear a Russian victory. Only the leaders need to be terrified at the thought. Not only will a Russian victory not in and of itself bring any hardships a Russian victory will bring many things to look forward to.
    I myself really look forward to doing something that I have not done in decades. Roasting meat on a spit over an open fire. I would not be surprised if the arrival of the Russian Army in the Ruhr area coincides with a massive crop failure that makes it impossible feed all the animals in Europe. That will cause farmers to cull their herds.
    That will temporarily cause a glut of meat on the market which will cause a temporary drop in meat prices. Then I will again be able to enjoy the sizzling sound that fat makes when it drips on to red hot coals.
    The overall conditions at this time would even lead to an increase in the variety of meats to enjoy grilling. Pork neck and poultry neck are just a few of the examples that come to my mind.

  29. Curt Kastens

    For decades the public discourse about the overwhelmingly most important issue on the planet, environmental collapse, has been completely disfunctional. There is a good reason that the discourse has been disfunctional. The reason that the discourse has been disfunctional is because by the time that problem became public it was already way to late to solve. The world’s population was 3.7 billion, and rising rapidly by 1970.
    To fix the problems that humanity faced at that time without causing massive suffering would have required a period of transition. That transition would have required a massive investment in resources. Those resources would have prevented resources from being to meet more immediate needs and wants. At that time (1970) it would have been very hard to build the political will among the human population, anywhere, of any economic class, for the sacrifices necessary to have a chance of successfully transitioning to a long term sustainable economy. Each day of delay made the problem worse, due to population overshoot.
    Also we should not forget how radically our lives would have to change to live in a long term sustainable society. There is nothing that is sustainable about an industrial society, even if it is powered by hydro, wind, solar, and or nuclear power. If you think that the assertion that I just made is disprovable you clearly should have your scientific credentials challenged. Therefore living like the Amish and Mennonites was really the only alternative to what humanity developed. The only way that large numbers of people would chose to live like the Amish and Mennonites instead of living like 20th century westerners is if someone like Joseph Stalin gave them a choice between the Amish or the graveyard. But under such circumstances some like Trotsky will take advantage of the situation and challenge Stalin for leadership.
    The result of the historical situation is that massive numbers of people are saying things that they either privately know is not the truth or they SHOULD know is not the truth because it really is not all that hard to figure out.
    Maybe speak untruth over the very important environmental collapse issue because they are convinced that it is better to rob people of the truth than to rob them of hope.
    But now after all of that hot air I finally get to the raisin of my comment. My comment is not actually about environmental collapse. My comment is about truth.
    What I see when I look at the world today is that humans do not only not tell the truth about environmental collapse they by and large do not tell the truth about any thing at all. Therefore I wonder, has this complete collapse of integrity come about because humans got so used to lying about climate change that it just became second nature to lie about almost everything else? Could it be when staring at extinction truth no longer has any value?

  30. Curt Kastens

    The Estonian Prime Minister is explicitly disagreeing with me, but implicitly agreeing with me.
    She says that the west has to provide the help Ukraine needs to win the NAT0 war against Russia. But it is clearly no longer possible for Ukraine to win the war without NAT0 troops entering the war in large numbers. She maintains that a Russian Victory will ensure World War 3 because a victory on Russian Terms is not sustainable. The Russian view would be the mirror opposite. The only question is after the fighting in Ukraine is finished who will take the next step to widen the war.
    I hope that the Russians have the sense not give the Europeans a chance to prepare their military forces for the conflict and take them off the map before they can initiate an attack on western terms.
    Yes I am aware of how absurd this war is. The warld is comming to an end and young men and some women have to risk their young lives to put shit heads in a sceptic tank. To keep fighting is absurd.
    On the other hand to stop fighting and allow shit heads to get away with enormous crimes and not be put in a sceptic tank, especially when those who die would not have lived much longer anyways, is absurd.
    Essentially the entire planet is like a World War 2 German concentration camp that is divided up in to regions or districts with different degrees of insanity and suffering.
    At this point the only things remaining on my bucket list before the end comes is learning to play Doppelkopf and Skat. As they are immaterial the knowledge of how to play these games will not hurt me in the future.

  31. Curt Kastens

    I wonder if the Indian government would be so bold and foolish as to assist the US and the west in its conflict with China while at the same time assisting Russia in its war with the US and the west.
    I hope that the leaders of India know where their proper place is. Yes I know that sounds as racist and condescending as carp but it just seems to me to be pointing out geo political reality.

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