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What’s at stake in all these international confabs like the G-7 are the tenuous supply lines that keep the global game going. The critical ones deliver oil around the world. China imports about 10 million barrels a day to keep its operations going. It produces less than 4 million barrels a day. Only about 15 percent of its imports come from next door in Russia. The rest comes from the Middle East, Africa, and South America. Think: long lines of tanker ships traveling vast distances across the seas, navigating through narrow straits. The Chinese formula is simple: oil in, exports out. It has worked nicely for them in recent decades. Things go on until they don’t.

That game is lubricated by a fabulous stream of debt generated by Chinese banks that ultimately answer to the Communist Party. The party is the Chinese buffer between banking and reality. If the party doesn’t like the distress signals that the banks give off, it just pretends the signals are not coming through, while it does the hokey-pokey with its digital accounting, and things appear sound a while longer.

The US produces just over 12 million barrels of oil a day. About 6.5 million of our production is shale oil. We use nearly 20 million a day. (We’re not “energy independent.”) The shale oil industry is wobbling under the onerous debt load that it has racked up since 2005. About 90 percent of the companies involved in shale oil lose money. The capital costs for drilling, hauling a gazillion truckloads of water and fracking sand to the rig pads, and sucking the oil out, exceed the profit from doing all that. It’s simply all we can do to keep the game going in our corner of the planet, but it’s not a good business model. After you’ve proved conclusively that you can’t make a buck at this using borrowed money, the lenders will quit lending you more money. That’s about where we are now.

Europe is near the end of its North Sea oil bonanza and there’s nothing in the on-deck circle for them. Germany tried to prove that they could run the country on “renewables” and that experiment has flopped. They have no idea what they’re going to do to keep the game going in their patch of nations. They must be freaking out in their charming capital cities.

The next economic bust is going to amount to the crack-up of the oil age, and the “global economy” that emerged in its late stage. It was all about moving fantastic quantities of things around the planet. The movements were exquisitely tuned, along with the money flows that circulated freely, like blood carrying oxygen to each organ. All of that is coming to an end. The nations of the world must be feeling desperate, despite the appearance of good manners at meetings like the G-7. What’s at stake for everybody in the dark background is the ability to maintain high standards of living only recently attained. And the fear behind that is not knowing just how far backward these high standards of living may have to slide.

A lot of people still alive in China must remember a daily existence on par with the 12th century. In the USA, where democracy is mostly represented by low-order thinking skills, the memory of life before electricity and running water is long gone. We’ve been living in Futurama since the end of the last world war. That war, by the way, is not entirely forgotten in Europe, despite all the charm currently on display and the tourists swarming with their selfie sticks. The place was a charnel house for centuries and the Euro folk will do about anything to suppress conflict. Lately, it looks like they’re willing to give up on Western Civilization itself to keep the peace.

Lord knows what Mr. Trump’s strategy is with these so-called “trade talks.” He has explicitly enough pushed for the re-industrialization of America, and that implies — among other things — decoupling from the China’s torrential merchandise supply lines, cutting off its revenues. Closing off China’s access to US markets itself might be enough to finally blow up China’s deeply fraudulent banking system. Maybe the aim is to just disable China, derail it from its seeming aim of becoming the next world hegemon. Does Mr. Trump think he can do that without blowing up the rest of the world’s financial arrangements? The stock markets haven’t been digesting that story very well lately. Could the US government be collectively dumb enough to think that shale oil will permit this country to re-industrialize while the rest of the world stumbles back into a dark age?

More likely, all the advanced nations will make that downward journey together. The US is well on its way, despite all the MAGA bravado. The country is reeling in bad faith, delusion, official corruption, porno-pharmaceutical vice, and ethnic rancor. The people who live in FlyoverLand style themselves like Visigoths, all tatted up and armed to the teeth, moiling angrily at the edge of the Rome-like coastal enclaves. The elites want to stuff themselves inside their phones and live there. Guess what: that won’t be a “safe space.”


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About James Howard Kunstler

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James Howard Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency, and Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology and the Fate of the Nation. His novels include World Made By Hand, The Witch of Hebron, Maggie Darling — A Modern Romance, The Halloween Ball, an Embarrassment of Riches, and many others. He has published three novellas with Water Street Press: Manhattan Gothic, A Christmas Orphan, and The Flight of Mehetabel.

724 Responses to “The G-7 Blues” Subscribe

  1. John of the West August 26, 2019 at 10:07 am #

    The modern world is hopelessly overextended, because people keep clinging to a broken model instead of adapting. This will lead us directly into collapse and a new dark age.

    • Epicur August 26, 2019 at 10:28 am #

      The problem with “adapting” is the necessary population reduction.

      Volunteers have been hard to find.

    • K-Dog August 26, 2019 at 10:31 am #

      I read it. You seem to be getting it. Have faith, your journey will bring clarity and you will know what to do.

    • Neon Vincent August 26, 2019 at 10:32 am #

      Hi, John! Between your post asking “what is a dark age?” and our host’s image of “The people who live in FlyoverLand style themselves like Visigoths, all tatted up and armed to the teeth, moiling angrily at the edge of the Rome-like coastal enclaves,” I’m reminded of John Michael Greer’s description of the external proletariat forming war-bands, a concept he borrowed from Toynbee. Of course, “the people in FlyoverLand” are really the internal proletariat. The external proletariat are the refugees coming across our southern border, but they’re not forming war bands. To see those, one would have to look at ISIS.

      Your entry also mentions the $22 trillion in debt the U.S. has racked up. Congress lifting debt ceiling for two years has averted a crisis until after the election, but it will make the long-term situation worse. As Barry Commoner, said in his four laws of ecology, there is no such thing as a free lunch.

      Another of Commoner’s Laws is “there is no away” and yet another is “nature knows best.” The way people have been trying to combine the two is recycling, which is a way of imitating nature through culture and technology. Unfortunately, because China is no longer taking the rest of the world’s low-quality recycling, people in the U.S. are finding out we’re recycling wrong, which really screws up our attempts to be sustainable. Oops! Time to re-think the circular economy.

      • John of the West August 26, 2019 at 10:47 am #

        It should be patently obvious to anyone who’s paying attention that the debt ceiling will continue to be raised, which is probably until people finally quit paying attention to it. It can’t be paid and spending can’t be brought under control because of the social and economic chaos that would result.

        As for the proletariats, the monopoly on the use of force in Rome dramatically eroded over time with one incursion and another. At some point, someone’s going to decide that the national government no longer speaks for them and will simply start running things locally. This probably won’t be an act of political defiance, but more because there are going to start being gaps in any kind of formal authority once economic pain truly begins to hit.

        • messianicdruid August 26, 2019 at 11:30 am #

          When the money fails [ Gen. 47:15 ] the bribes can no longer be paid.

          • elysianfield August 26, 2019 at 7:23 pm #

            Druid,
            Well, when bribes can no longer be paid with money, time to “get on your knees” (In the Bible… lots of places)….

          • gonetohell August 29, 2019 at 1:16 am #

            It’s amazing how a single BS session by Kunstler is unquestionably regarded as bible truth, then expounded on by his dutiful little bees. Kunstler makes a very good living painting a dark scenario followed by a few books of plausible nonsense as support. It’s a business model that works spectacularly. Howard Ruff is a great example going back to the early 70’s. He told everyone to stay away from stocks and bonds and instead invest in Gold, Platinum and silver. He wrote books with titles like; “Famine and Survival in America” and “How to prosper During the Coming Bad Years.”

        • SpeedyBB August 26, 2019 at 5:34 pm #

          John, this was elucidated very cleverly in John Updike’s TOWARD THE END OF TIME, where he predicted such futuristic developments as killer drones, loss of government power and gradual social disintegration. Here’s how Wiki describes it: “Set in New England, like many of Updike’s novels, Toward the End of Time portrays a world in which the Chinese and the Americans have attacked one another with nuclear weapons. The aftermath is shown through retired investment advisor Ben Turnbull’s journal. Though the dollar and the central government are gone, life in Boston and the surrounding areas goes on thanks to FedEx and other less reputable entrepreneurs.”

      • Janos Skorenzy August 26, 2019 at 11:39 am #

        Barry Commoner! That’s a name I haven’t heard in a long time. Thank you. He was a High Priest of the New Religion. That’s what it is for most. I don’t say that to denigrate Barry. No doubt he was a Bernie Sanders kind of guy with his own denigratables.

        One time I was reading the notices in the Cambridge Food Coop – the best billboard in the world. One group was trying to “hook up” their compost pile to their house – to heat the latter. They might have succeeded in stinking up the place but that’s about it. The amount of heat would be far too small, obviously. One must mediate on a bird flying over a frozen lake. The temperature of the bird is well over a hundred degrees, but the frozen lake has much more energy. It’s like that. The bird or compost pile is not going to be able to melt the lake or heat the house. They conflated temperature with quantity. An elementary mistake, eh Watson?

        • abbybwood August 26, 2019 at 1:48 pm #

          Too bad the technology for geothermal can’t be worked out for home heating. Obviously as one digs into the Earth it gets hot. I was reading yesterday where Russia dug the deepest hole in the world and after about eight miles they had to abort the project because all the tools were melting. Now the hole is still there with a rusted cover over it. “Watch your steeeeepppp!!!!”

          I currently live with my son and daughter-in-law near Manhattan Beach in a house and even at 80 degrees outside I am fine with the windows open so I can hear the birds and life going on outside and also I might have the chance to feel a breeze or smell newly mowed grass.

          But if they are in the house forget it!! Windows bolted shut and the AC blasting until the house is like a damn refrigerator and I have a sore throat brewing!

          Honestly, I cannot imagine their generation EVER being able to survive any major economic downturn where they might have to part with their ESPN and RING cameras and the damn AC!

          • RIB August 26, 2019 at 3:51 pm #

            My God, Abby, your description of life without your son and daughter-in-law sounds like a scene straight out of the death chamber in the movie “Soylent Green.”

        • outsider August 26, 2019 at 4:42 pm #

          Paul Ehrlich was/is better known than Commoner. As a teenager I read his frightening “Population Bomb” which, for a long time, scared me out of getting married and having children. Ehrlich was right about overpopulation, but, unfortunately for the human species, those backward cultures which most needed to get the message weren’t paying attention. And those Western cultures which did listen so well that they quit having babies are now paying a terrible price.

          • Janos Skorenzy August 28, 2019 at 12:57 pm #

            But we still didn’t have to let the savages in. That’s what damned us. That and offshoring our industrial base.

            The Elite pretended to believe Erlich and then did the opposite. Just like they pretend to believe in global warming and then buy beach houses. They are Liars and Sons of Liars all the way back to Cain.

          • GreenAlba August 29, 2019 at 8:18 am #

            The Elite can afford to buy beach houses, since writing off a beach house in 50 years’ time isn’t going to bother them. It’s the modestly well off who are ill advised to buy a beach house, if that’s the only house they have and they want to leave something to their children that isn’t going to depreciate.

      • Billy Hill August 26, 2019 at 12:09 pm #

        At the moment there is not a market for recycling solar panels. Nor for lithium-ion batteries that are the chemistry of choice in utility-scale solar farm battery energy storage systems. In about 20 years there will be perhaps 1000’s of acres of solar panels at the end of life, to say nothing of the lithium-ion cells of all shapes and sizes.

        Whether there will be a market by then — for that matter whether there will be a “20 years from now” at all is hypothetical. It’s a risky planet.

        Nevertheless there are believers in the electric future and they are busy with new battery designs (polymer electrolyte) and electric motors (multiple rotors). If they succeed in scaling up we all might be surprised at the rapidity with which the oil paradigm diminishes in importance. It is possible that the automotive industry of today will be totally transformed by 2025 (with catastrophic economic effects similar to the widespread application of the internal combustion engine). Autonomous control, 1000 mile EV ranges, and the uber model will erode the concept of vehicle ownership, and — surprise — the suburban model will flourish.

        All assuming anyone has any money of value. And assuming that our embedded cyber technology does not autonomously launch ICBMs owing to a “computer glitch.” Gee, that never happens…

    • TraffickingInDivinity August 26, 2019 at 12:06 pm #

      You are right about a new dark age, I just wish I knew when. Everyone is so sure the next recession will be the big one but QE forever can work for a long time. Let’s be prepared for both outcomes!

      • abbybwood August 26, 2019 at 1:59 pm #

        I was thinking about the economic meltdown that hit in 2007-8 and the “toxic derivatives” market and was reminded of the excellent documentary PBS Frontline did about the CFTC and Brooksley Born trying to warn Congress and the public about what could happen.

        I watched it again: “The Warning”. It could (and probably will) happen again. And to think how, in spite of it all, Obama filled The White House and his Cabinet with all the players who were behind the quagmire….Summers, Rubin etc.

        Talk about corruption!!!

      • roccofire August 26, 2019 at 5:12 pm #

        When I was a young man, I read all the comments on here and other prep sites, taking notes, looking forward to the challenge of being prepared, but now being in my late 50’s and recovering from a sciatica attack which still on going into week 6 weeks, heal time with modern meds and treatments assisting me. Being old in the new dark age, I will miss my Motrin!!

        • benr August 26, 2019 at 5:44 pm #

          Birch bark works to ease pain make a tea out of it
          How do you think the ancients delt with pain?
          There are plants with pain easing extracts some legal and some not at the moment.

          • elysianfield August 26, 2019 at 7:26 pm #

            “How do you think the ancients delt with pain?”

            Benr,
            I expect most of them lived with it and died relatively young….

          • benr August 27, 2019 at 11:18 am #

            I forgot to add the ever ready Alcohol!

        • abbybwood August 27, 2019 at 12:46 am #

          I had the same problem!

          I ended up with the pain management guy, Dr. Ing, at UCLA Santa Monica and he did a cortisone injection in out-patient surgery on me.

          Same problem persisted. When I was sitting, no pain. As soon as I stood up to walk I thought I was going to die with the pain.

          He told me it might take two rounds. A few months later I did the second round.

          Sure enough, we did the second round and the NEXT DAY I had no pain! I could walk pain free! I emailed him and told him it was like a freakin’ miracle! So liberating!

          Now it has been about two years and I am noticing when I water outside as I bend over to turn the hose off/on as I come up I get shots of pain in my legs. Take a little Advil a few times a day and I am not really complaining. But I guess the time is coming where I may have to go in for another round of cortisone injections into my lower spinal area if it gets REALLY bad again.

          Truly incapacitating and life-changing….that kind of pain.

          And Vicodin may be a quick band-aid. And he will give out plenty of those. But the side-effects (constipation) are not worth it.

          Best to you in what ever medical decisions you make!

  2. peakfuture August 26, 2019 at 10:09 am #

    Anyone willing to give odds if this trade war turns into something more ‘kinetic’? Will it be an accidental thing, or something more willful?

    • TiredOfTheTreadmill August 26, 2019 at 11:44 am #

      I won’t place odds on that because I would argue we already are in hot skirmishes with China in Africa. A couple years ago I asked a green beret who lived across the street and who was deployed to Africa a few times if this was the case and he replied “pretty much.”

      Most likely this “kinetic” diplomacy will still use proxy states. I seriously doubt China, Russia or the USA has to worry about invasionary forces taking them over as all are way to large. This hold especially true if oil gets scarcer and more expensive. Nukes may come into the picture, but I don’t think they will. The most likely outcome for all three of these big players is internal destruction, which already is well underway in the US and China.

    • TraffickingInDivinity August 26, 2019 at 12:09 pm #

      China and the US won’t get kinetic but US and Iran will – Israel is already bombing Iran via Syria and many of those bombs come from the US.

    • JohnAZ August 26, 2019 at 12:28 pm #

      Look at history, more specifically the years running up to Pear Harbor and plug in Japan instead of China. China still has the Asian philosophy of community before individual which we stopped in Japan. China is dangerous.

    • abbybwood August 27, 2019 at 2:29 am #

      I tend to think that the vast bulk of billionaires running the world would prefer to just keep the status quo and do what it is they do to tamp down any major dissents that could blow up in THEIR faces.

      As we have seen over this summer, they just love their little jet-setting soirees in the pristine beaches of the world and their good food and booze and servants. Peace all around them where ever they go. They just want to sun themselves and have their confabs and meditation/work out times in the morning and their organic smoothies and just throw the peons enough crumbs for helping them out that they are actually happy to go on home to their wives and kids and enjoy a meal and their own fun times as families. I can guarantee everyone that those who work for the Gates’, the Kardashians’, the Clinton’s etc. make a very fine wage and probably live a very nice life-style.

      I have worked with the super-wealthy and their “people” whether nurses (like me) or physical therapists, or chefs or gardeners or dog groomers/walkers or pool boys etc. have GOOD lives. They make good money and like their jobs and are generally happy with their lives and I have seen have honest, respectable speaking relationships with their bosses.

      I honestly cannot imagine the hoi-polloi wanting to upset their apple carts. (It is not easy to find quality professionals who deliberately WANT to cater to them and their spawn, happily).

      Right now, the super-rich and their various staffs of nannies, pilots, various assistants all live in their own little pretty bubbles and when they all rest their heads on their pillows at night there is little to NO unhappiness with their lots in life or honest thoughts and prayers about “the others”.

      The last thing I think ANY of the 1%ters want to do is to upset their precious apple carts.

      Amazon burning or no amazon burning. Unrest in France with a refugee problem or not. Their plans for vacay(and their staffs) go on….be damned.

      There is always “talk” of The Third World. Places like Senegal, where religious daarus are a tradition that put many youths at the risk of abuse. Tens of thousands of very young children weave among traffic tapping on car windows for money or food to survive. Children as young as two are sent to religious schools to memorize scripture and learn “humility”. The country is about 95% Muslim.

      These small children are forced to learn to beg and at times are resorted to beatings if quotas are not met. These children often sleep in crumbled buildings, on roadsides or in shopfronts, just like so many stray dogs many Americans would be happy to adopt and to give forever homes to.

      Most of these children have not seen their families for years and many just die.

      Slave trafficking comes about with these children and they are often sexually abused.

      This world is the “other world” from those partying on the Geffen yacht as they dine on lobsters and tuck their children into safe beds.

      “It’s a human catastrophe”, said Souleymane Diagne, a social worker in Dakar’s Medina neighborhood.

      Until we reach a point where the entire planet honors the child as precious and to be loved and cared for in a 2020 standard of care, whether in the streets of Senegal or in rural Alabama, we have failed miserably as a human “civilization”.

  3. hmuller August 26, 2019 at 10:13 am #

    This recent trade spat reminds me of the traumas of teenage social life. Donald and China had a messy break-up with lots of shouting, accusations, and recriminations. Now Donald says China called twice last night and wants to make up.

    China denies calling and says she’s still mad as hell at Donald. She says he’s a cheap date who expects her to pay and no way is she returning his factories. She also accuses him of improperly touching her down low in her Hong Kong.

    Donald’s friend, the Mayor of Munchkin City, remarked, “There were discussions that went back and forth, and let’s just leave it at that.”

    Donald’s other friend, John with the creepy mustache, is believed to have fomented the break-up because he has long desired to violently defile China under the bleachers.

    • TiredOfTheTreadmill August 26, 2019 at 11:45 am #

      It’s a sad state of affairs when I trust China much more to be telling the truth than the idiot hustler in the White House.

      • RIB August 26, 2019 at 3:58 pm #

        If you served in the military you’d know the best way for a leader to be to be is unpredictable and less than truthful. To take Trump literally is foolish; not to take him seriously is even more foolish. He has the same philosopher that Reagan had in bankrupting the Soviet Union; he’s just not quite as slick about presenting it

      • Nightowl August 26, 2019 at 4:37 pm #

        Or maybe it is just you.

        • TiredOfTheTreadmill August 26, 2019 at 5:42 pm #

          Maybe. I can handle it. Or maybe you’re the gullible dupe. Time will tell.

          • Nightowl August 27, 2019 at 4:27 am #

            Gullible for viewing China as a threat?

            Or is this you concerned about your future social credit score?

      • wolfbay August 26, 2019 at 9:23 pm #

        Joe Biden thinks China is no threat at all. Hope he’s right. His son certainly likes them.

    • Exscotticus August 26, 2019 at 11:59 am #

      Crude allegory but it works. What is the metaphorical equivalent of a trade imbalance and property theft in dating terms?

      Donald is paying lavishly for China to live in style, and she is returning the favor in kind with kisses and such, but Donald is ultimately going broke, and the relationship is unsustainable. She’s also stealing money from Donald’s wallet, which for many decades his flat mates pretended not to notice, and would like to continue not noticing, since the stress of confronting China is too great for them to bear.

      • TiredOfTheTreadmill August 26, 2019 at 12:40 pm #

        Yeah, but Donald also got to dump his unwanted crap at China’s place for years too. Got cheap labor etc… None of it has been a one way street or it would have ended long ago. Further, the (parents) corporate owners wanted this arranged marriage so they could make lots of money. As your comment about crude allegory implies, this situation is more complex than a teen drama. However, the GGG has the emotional maturity of a teenager so it’s easy to relate to the teen drama allegory.

        • Exscotticus August 26, 2019 at 12:56 pm #

          >>> However, the GGG has the emotional maturity of a teenager

          If you say so. I think Trump’s emotional maturity levels are on par with those of his critics, especially since they can’t seem to acknowledge his accomplishments or their own egregious behavior. I mean is kicking people out of your restaurant because they’re not Dems mature? If you say so…

          • TiredOfTheTreadmill August 26, 2019 at 1:43 pm #

            Yeah, his own comments, contradictions, lies, thinking out loud and whiny tweets are all indicative of a mature stable genius. I feel bad for people who have to defend “their guy” no matter what. Just because I rip Trump it doesn’t mean I 100% the whiny Dems. A huge part of the reason this country will go down is the over saturation of politicizing EVERYTHING into phony either/or and black/or white understanding. Hell, the whole of this country has become a bunch of childish whiners.

          • Exscotticus August 26, 2019 at 2:01 pm #

            At this point, I don’t care if POTUS literally mewls whike holding a blankly—so long as he gets results.

            We tried the poet philosopher diplomat President for eight years, and all it got us were a bunch of pretty speeches.

            Trump’s base didn’t elect him for his elocution. Why his mannerisms matter so much to so many is a mystery. Is Biden-the-gaffe-machine any better? Nope—but they’ll vote for him just the same.

          • TiredOfTheTreadmill August 26, 2019 at 2:17 pm #

            The vast majority of Trump’s base voted for for him to screw over people they dislike. Most are leery of and dislike people who are smarter than themselves. Keep swinging at the Dems if you feel the need (which sees to be the case) as I have no emotional investment in them either these days.

          • RIB August 26, 2019 at 4:00 pm #

            Trump’s a lot smarter than he shows, Sometimes, it’s smart to appear stupid.

          • Exscotticus August 26, 2019 at 5:26 pm #

            >>> The vast majority of Trump’s base voted for for him to screw over people they dislike. Most are leery of and dislike people who are smarter than themselves.

            And you know this how? Lots of Trump voters are friends of yours?

            Your elitist attitude—echoed by Dems in general—is certainly one of the character flaws that led Trump to victory.

          • TiredOfTheTreadmill August 26, 2019 at 5:45 pm #

            Elitist? Hah! I didn’t know I’m an elitist. And yeah, I know quite a few Trump supporters. Grew up in the thick of them. I know quite well how they operate in public, and more importantly, in private.

            With that out of the way, how many elitist Dems as portrayed in your comments do you know? Or are you just an elitist?

          • BornToKillPeace August 26, 2019 at 7:38 pm #

            “Most are leery of and dislike people who are smarter than themselves.”

            Maybe replace smarter with *more psychopathic. The Clinton’s are psychopaths. IMHO, Trump comes off more as a frat boy who despite having the style and brains of an above average stereotyped frat boy, still steps in to correct a wrong here or there, and for the most part cares about his country and the well being of his nation.

            Sorry, I just don’t fully believe in your statement or logic, but you are welcome to it. In 2019, what do you mean by smarter? I know people who are seen as ostensibly “smarter” because they have had higher professional achievements, are more traveled, make more money, etc; but they inevitably seem to lack the degree you can only get at from the school of hard knocks and from living in poverty. I see how easy it is to dump on white trash who live on cheese doodles and J.Springer re-runs; but this being the 21st c, I know just as many people of my generation versed in Schopenhauer and Mencken whom haven’t been able to afford a proper vacation or a working automobile in a decade and would run intellectual circles around a Never Trumper from the coastal regions born into “privilege” (and do). Some of these people voted for Trump because they are already living with the consequences of collapse.

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  1. John of the West August 26, 2019 at 10:07 am #

    The modern world is hopelessly overextended, because people keep clinging to a broken model instead of adapting. This will lead us directly into collapse and a new dark age.

    • Epicur August 26, 2019 at 10:28 am #

      The problem with “adapting” is the necessary population reduction.

      Volunteers have been hard to find.

    • K-Dog August 26, 2019 at 10:31 am #

      I read it. You seem to be getting it. Have faith, your journey will bring clarity and you will know what to do.

    • Neon Vincent August 26, 2019 at 10:32 am #

      Hi, John! Between your post asking “what is a dark age?” and our host’s image of “The people who live in FlyoverLand style themselves like Visigoths, all tatted up and armed to the teeth, moiling angrily at the edge of the Rome-like coastal enclaves,” I’m reminded of John Michael Greer’s description of the external proletariat forming war-bands, a concept he borrowed from Toynbee. Of course, “the people in FlyoverLand” are really the internal proletariat. The external proletariat are the refugees coming across our southern border, but they’re not forming war bands. To see those, one would have to look at ISIS.

      Your entry also mentions the $22 trillion in debt the U.S. has racked up. Congress lifting debt ceiling for two years has averted a crisis until after the election, but it will make the long-term situation worse. As Barry Commoner, said in his four laws of ecology, there is no such thing as a free lunch.

      Another of Commoner’s Laws is “there is no away” and yet another is “nature knows best.” The way people have been trying to combine the two is recycling, which is a way of imitating nature through culture and technology. Unfortunately, because China is no longer taking the rest of the world’s low-quality recycling, people in the U.S. are finding out we’re recycling wrong, which really screws up our attempts to be sustainable. Oops! Time to re-think the circular economy.

      • John of the West August 26, 2019 at 10:47 am #

        It should be patently obvious to anyone who’s paying attention that the debt ceiling will continue to be raised, which is probably until people finally quit paying attention to it. It can’t be paid and spending can’t be brought under control because of the social and economic chaos that would result.

        As for the proletariats, the monopoly on the use of force in Rome dramatically eroded over time with one incursion and another. At some point, someone’s going to decide that the national government no longer speaks for them and will simply start running things locally. This probably won’t be an act of political defiance, but more because there are going to start being gaps in any kind of formal authority once economic pain truly begins to hit.

        • messianicdruid August 26, 2019 at 11:30 am #

          When the money fails [ Gen. 47:15 ] the bribes can no longer be paid.

          • elysianfield August 26, 2019 at 7:23 pm #

            Druid,
            Well, when bribes can no longer be paid with money, time to “get on your knees” (In the Bible… lots of places)….

          • gonetohell August 29, 2019 at 1:16 am #

            It’s amazing how a single BS session by Kunstler is unquestionably regarded as bible truth, then expounded on by his dutiful little bees. Kunstler makes a very good living painting a dark scenario followed by a few books of plausible nonsense as support. It’s a business model that works spectacularly. Howard Ruff is a great example going back to the early 70’s. He told everyone to stay away from stocks and bonds and instead invest in Gold, Platinum and silver. He wrote books with titles like; “Famine and Survival in America” and “How to prosper During the Coming Bad Years.”

        • SpeedyBB August 26, 2019 at 5:34 pm #

          John, this was elucidated very cleverly in John Updike’s TOWARD THE END OF TIME, where he predicted such futuristic developments as killer drones, loss of government power and gradual social disintegration. Here’s how Wiki describes it: “Set in New England, like many of Updike’s novels, Toward the End of Time portrays a world in which the Chinese and the Americans have attacked one another with nuclear weapons. The aftermath is shown through retired investment advisor Ben Turnbull’s journal. Though the dollar and the central government are gone, life in Boston and the surrounding areas goes on thanks to FedEx and other less reputable entrepreneurs.”

      • Janos Skorenzy August 26, 2019 at 11:39 am #

        Barry Commoner! That’s a name I haven’t heard in a long time. Thank you. He was a High Priest of the New Religion. That’s what it is for most. I don’t say that to denigrate Barry. No doubt he was a Bernie Sanders kind of guy with his own denigratables.

        One time I was reading the notices in the Cambridge Food Coop – the best billboard in the world. One group was trying to “hook up” their compost pile to their house – to heat the latter. They might have succeeded in stinking up the place but that’s about it. The amount of heat would be far too small, obviously. One must mediate on a bird flying over a frozen lake. The temperature of the bird is well over a hundred degrees, but the frozen lake has much more energy. It’s like that. The bird or compost pile is not going to be able to melt the lake or heat the house. They conflated temperature with quantity. An elementary mistake, eh Watson?

        • abbybwood August 26, 2019 at 1:48 pm #

          Too bad the technology for geothermal can’t be worked out for home heating. Obviously as one digs into the Earth it gets hot. I was reading yesterday where Russia dug the deepest hole in the world and after about eight miles they had to abort the project because all the tools were melting. Now the hole is still there with a rusted cover over it. “Watch your steeeeepppp!!!!”

          I currently live with my son and daughter-in-law near Manhattan Beach in a house and even at 80 degrees outside I am fine with the windows open so I can hear the birds and life going on outside and also I might have the chance to feel a breeze or smell newly mowed grass.

          But if they are in the house forget it!! Windows bolted shut and the AC blasting until the house is like a damn refrigerator and I have a sore throat brewing!

          Honestly, I cannot imagine their generation EVER being able to survive any major economic downturn where they might have to part with their ESPN and RING cameras and the damn AC!

          • RIB August 26, 2019 at 3:51 pm #

            My God, Abby, your description of life without your son and daughter-in-law sounds like a scene straight out of the death chamber in the movie “Soylent Green.”

        • outsider August 26, 2019 at 4:42 pm #

          Paul Ehrlich was/is better known than Commoner. As a teenager I read his frightening “Population Bomb” which, for a long time, scared me out of getting married and having children. Ehrlich was right about overpopulation, but, unfortunately for the human species, those backward cultures which most needed to get the message weren’t paying attention. And those Western cultures which did listen so well that they quit having babies are now paying a terrible price.

          • Janos Skorenzy August 28, 2019 at 12:57 pm #

            But we still didn’t have to let the savages in. That’s what damned us. That and offshoring our industrial base.

            The Elite pretended to believe Erlich and then did the opposite. Just like they pretend to believe in global warming and then buy beach houses. They are Liars and Sons of Liars all the way back to Cain.

          • GreenAlba August 29, 2019 at 8:18 am #

            The Elite can afford to buy beach houses, since writing off a beach house in 50 years’ time isn’t going to bother them. It’s the modestly well off who are ill advised to buy a beach house, if that’s the only house they have and they want to leave something to their children that isn’t going to depreciate.

      • Billy Hill August 26, 2019 at 12:09 pm #

        At the moment there is not a market for recycling solar panels. Nor for lithium-ion batteries that are the chemistry of choice in utility-scale solar farm battery energy storage systems. In about 20 years there will be perhaps 1000’s of acres of solar panels at the end of life, to say nothing of the lithium-ion cells of all shapes and sizes.

        Whether there will be a market by then — for that matter whether there will be a “20 years from now” at all is hypothetical. It’s a risky planet.

        Nevertheless there are believers in the electric future and they are busy with new battery designs (polymer electrolyte) and electric motors (multiple rotors). If they succeed in scaling up we all might be surprised at the rapidity with which the oil paradigm diminishes in importance. It is possible that the automotive industry of today will be totally transformed by 2025 (with catastrophic economic effects similar to the widespread application of the internal combustion engine). Autonomous control, 1000 mile EV ranges, and the uber model will erode the concept of vehicle ownership, and — surprise — the suburban model will flourish.

        All assuming anyone has any money of value. And assuming that our embedded cyber technology does not autonomously launch ICBMs owing to a “computer glitch.” Gee, that never happens…

    • TraffickingInDivinity August 26, 2019 at 12:06 pm #

      You are right about a new dark age, I just wish I knew when. Everyone is so sure the next recession will be the big one but QE forever can work for a long time. Let’s be prepared for both outcomes!

      • abbybwood August 26, 2019 at 1:59 pm #

        I was thinking about the economic meltdown that hit in 2007-8 and the “toxic derivatives” market and was reminded of the excellent documentary PBS Frontline did about the CFTC and Brooksley Born trying to warn Congress and the public about what could happen.

        I watched it again: “The Warning”. It could (and probably will) happen again. And to think how, in spite of it all, Obama filled The White House and his Cabinet with all the players who were behind the quagmire….Summers, Rubin etc.

        Talk about corruption!!!

      • roccofire August 26, 2019 at 5:12 pm #

        When I was a young man, I read all the comments on here and other prep sites, taking notes, looking forward to the challenge of being prepared, but now being in my late 50’s and recovering from a sciatica attack which still on going into week 6 weeks, heal time with modern meds and treatments assisting me. Being old in the new dark age, I will miss my Motrin!!

        • benr August 26, 2019 at 5:44 pm #

          Birch bark works to ease pain make a tea out of it
          How do you think the ancients delt with pain?
          There are plants with pain easing extracts some legal and some not at the moment.

          • elysianfield August 26, 2019 at 7:26 pm #

            “How do you think the ancients delt with pain?”

            Benr,
            I expect most of them lived with it and died relatively young….

          • benr August 27, 2019 at 11:18 am #

            I forgot to add the ever ready Alcohol!

        • abbybwood August 27, 2019 at 12:46 am #

          I had the same problem!

          I ended up with the pain management guy, Dr. Ing, at UCLA Santa Monica and he did a cortisone injection in out-patient surgery on me.

          Same problem persisted. When I was sitting, no pain. As soon as I stood up to walk I thought I was going to die with the pain.

          He told me it might take two rounds. A few months later I did the second round.

          Sure enough, we did the second round and the NEXT DAY I had no pain! I could walk pain free! I emailed him and told him it was like a freakin’ miracle! So liberating!

          Now it has been about two years and I am noticing when I water outside as I bend over to turn the hose off/on as I come up I get shots of pain in my legs. Take a little Advil a few times a day and I am not really complaining. But I guess the time is coming where I may have to go in for another round of cortisone injections into my lower spinal area if it gets REALLY bad again.

          Truly incapacitating and life-changing….that kind of pain.

          And Vicodin may be a quick band-aid. And he will give out plenty of those. But the side-effects (constipation) are not worth it.

          Best to you in what ever medical decisions you make!

  2. peakfuture August 26, 2019 at 10:09 am #

    Anyone willing to give odds if this trade war turns into something more ‘kinetic’? Will it be an accidental thing, or something more willful?

    • TiredOfTheTreadmill August 26, 2019 at 11:44 am #

      I won’t place odds on that because I would argue we already are in hot skirmishes with China in Africa. A couple years ago I asked a green beret who lived across the street and who was deployed to Africa a few times if this was the case and he replied “pretty much.”

      Most likely this “kinetic” diplomacy will still use proxy states. I seriously doubt China, Russia or the USA has to worry about invasionary forces taking them over as all are way to large. This hold especially true if oil gets scarcer and more expensive. Nukes may come into the picture, but I don’t think they will. The most likely outcome for all three of these big players is internal destruction, which already is well underway in the US and China.

    • TraffickingInDivinity August 26, 2019 at 12:09 pm #

      China and the US won’t get kinetic but US and Iran will – Israel is already bombing Iran via Syria and many of those bombs come from the US.

    • JohnAZ August 26, 2019 at 12:28 pm #

      Look at history, more specifically the years running up to Pear Harbor and plug in Japan instead of China. China still has the Asian philosophy of community before individual which we stopped in Japan. China is dangerous.

    • abbybwood August 27, 2019 at 2:29 am #

      I tend to think that the vast bulk of billionaires running the world would prefer to just keep the status quo and do what it is they do to tamp down any major dissents that could blow up in THEIR faces.

      As we have seen over this summer, they just love their little jet-setting soirees in the pristine beaches of the world and their good food and booze and servants. Peace all around them where ever they go. They just want to sun themselves and have their confabs and meditation/work out times in the morning and their organic smoothies and just throw the peons enough crumbs for helping them out that they are actually happy to go on home to their wives and kids and enjoy a meal and their own fun times as families. I can guarantee everyone that those who work for the Gates’, the Kardashians’, the Clinton’s etc. make a very fine wage and probably live a very nice life-style.

      I have worked with the super-wealthy and their “people” whether nurses (like me) or physical therapists, or chefs or gardeners or dog groomers/walkers or pool boys etc. have GOOD lives. They make good money and like their jobs and are generally happy with their lives and I have seen have honest, respectable speaking relationships with their bosses.

      I honestly cannot imagine the hoi-polloi wanting to upset their apple carts. (It is not easy to find quality professionals who deliberately WANT to cater to them and their spawn, happily).

      Right now, the super-rich and their various staffs of nannies, pilots, various assistants all live in their own little pretty bubbles and when they all rest their heads on their pillows at night there is little to NO unhappiness with their lots in life or honest thoughts and prayers about “the others”.

      The last thing I think ANY of the 1%ters want to do is to upset their precious apple carts.

      Amazon burning or no amazon burning. Unrest in France with a refugee problem or not. Their plans for vacay(and their staffs) go on….be damned.

      There is always “talk” of The Third World. Places like Senegal, where religious daarus are a tradition that put many youths at the risk of abuse. Tens of thousands of very young children weave among traffic tapping on car windows for money or food to survive. Children as young as two are sent to religious schools to memorize scripture and learn “humility”. The country is about 95% Muslim.

      These small children are forced to learn to beg and at times are resorted to beatings if quotas are not met. These children often sleep in crumbled buildings, on roadsides or in shopfronts, just like so many stray dogs many Americans would be happy to adopt and to give forever homes to.

      Most of these children have not seen their families for years and many just die.

      Slave trafficking comes about with these children and they are often sexually abused.

      This world is the “other world” from those partying on the Geffen yacht as they dine on lobsters and tuck their children into safe beds.

      “It’s a human catastrophe”, said Souleymane Diagne, a social worker in Dakar’s Medina neighborhood.

      Until we reach a point where the entire planet honors the child as precious and to be loved and cared for in a 2020 standard of care, whether in the streets of Senegal or in rural Alabama, we have failed miserably as a human “civilization”.

  3. hmuller August 26, 2019 at 10:13 am #

    This recent trade spat reminds me of the traumas of teenage social life. Donald and China had a messy break-up with lots of shouting, accusations, and recriminations. Now Donald says China called twice last night and wants to make up.

    China denies calling and says she’s still mad as hell at Donald. She says he’s a cheap date who expects her to pay and no way is she returning his factories. She also accuses him of improperly touching her down low in her Hong Kong.

    Donald’s friend, the Mayor of Munchkin City, remarked, “There were discussions that went back and forth, and let’s just leave it at that.”

    Donald’s other friend, John with the creepy mustache, is believed to have fomented the break-up because he has long desired to violently defile China under the bleachers.

    • TiredOfTheTreadmill August 26, 2019 at 11:45 am #

      It’s a sad state of affairs when I trust China much more to be telling the truth than the idiot hustler in the White House.

      • RIB August 26, 2019 at 3:58 pm #

        If you served in the military you’d know the best way for a leader to be to be is unpredictable and less than truthful. To take Trump literally is foolish; not to take him seriously is even more foolish. He has the same philosopher that Reagan had in bankrupting the Soviet Union; he’s just not quite as slick about presenting it

      • Nightowl August 26, 2019 at 4:37 pm #

        Or maybe it is just you.

        • TiredOfTheTreadmill August 26, 2019 at 5:42 pm #

          Maybe. I can handle it. Or maybe you’re the gullible dupe. Time will tell.

          • Nightowl August 27, 2019 at 4:27 am #

            Gullible for viewing China as a threat?

            Or is this you concerned about your future social credit score?

      • wolfbay August 26, 2019 at 9:23 pm #

        Joe Biden thinks China is no threat at all. Hope he’s right. His son certainly likes them.

    • Exscotticus August 26, 2019 at 11:59 am #

      Crude allegory but it works. What is the metaphorical equivalent of a trade imbalance and property theft in dating terms?

      Donald is paying lavishly for China to live in style, and she is returning the favor in kind with kisses and such, but Donald is ultimately going broke, and the relationship is unsustainable. She’s also stealing money from Donald’s wallet, which for many decades his flat mates pretended not to notice, and would like to continue not noticing, since the stress of confronting China is too great for them to bear.

      • TiredOfTheTreadmill August 26, 2019 at 12:40 pm #

        Yeah, but Donald also got to dump his unwanted crap at China’s place for years too. Got cheap labor etc… None of it has been a one way street or it would have ended long ago. Further, the (parents) corporate owners wanted this arranged marriage so they could make lots of money. As your comment about crude allegory implies, this situation is more complex than a teen drama. However, the GGG has the emotional maturity of a teenager so it’s easy to relate to the teen drama allegory.

        • Exscotticus August 26, 2019 at 12:56 pm #

          >>> However, the GGG has the emotional maturity of a teenager

          If you say so. I think Trump’s emotional maturity levels are on par with those of his critics, especially since they can’t seem to acknowledge his accomplishments or their own egregious behavior. I mean is kicking people out of your restaurant because they’re not Dems mature? If you say so…

          • TiredOfTheTreadmill August 26, 2019 at 1:43 pm #

            Yeah, his own comments, contradictions, lies, thinking out loud and whiny tweets are all indicative of a mature stable genius. I feel bad for people who have to defend “their guy” no matter what. Just because I rip Trump it doesn’t mean I 100% the whiny Dems. A huge part of the reason this country will go down is the over saturation of politicizing EVERYTHING into phony either/or and black/or white understanding. Hell, the whole of this country has become a bunch of childish whiners.

          • Exscotticus August 26, 2019 at 2:01 pm #

            At this point, I don’t care if POTUS literally mewls whike holding a blankly—so long as he gets results.

            We tried the poet philosopher diplomat President for eight years, and all it got us were a bunch of pretty speeches.

            Trump’s base didn’t elect him for his elocution. Why his mannerisms matter so much to so many is a mystery. Is Biden-the-gaffe-machine any better? Nope—but they’ll vote for him just the same.

          • TiredOfTheTreadmill August 26, 2019 at 2:17 pm #

            The vast majority of Trump’s base voted for for him to screw over people they dislike. Most are leery of and dislike people who are smarter than themselves. Keep swinging at the Dems if you feel the need (which sees to be the case) as I have no emotional investment in them either these days.

          • RIB August 26, 2019 at 4:00 pm #

            Trump’s a lot smarter than he shows, Sometimes, it’s smart to appear stupid.

          • Exscotticus August 26, 2019 at 5:26 pm #

            >>> The vast majority of Trump’s base voted for for him to screw over people they dislike. Most are leery of and dislike people who are smarter than themselves.

            And you know this how? Lots of Trump voters are friends of yours?

            Your elitist attitude—echoed by Dems in general—is certainly one of the character flaws that led Trump to victory.

          • TiredOfTheTreadmill August 26, 2019 at 5:45 pm #

            Elitist? Hah! I didn’t know I’m an elitist. And yeah, I know quite a few Trump supporters. Grew up in the thick of them. I know quite well how they operate in public, and more importantly, in private.

            With that out of the way, how many elitist Dems as portrayed in your comments do you know? Or are you just an elitist?

          • BornToKillPeace August 26, 2019 at 7:38 pm #

            “Most are leery of and dislike people who are smarter than themselves.”

            Maybe replace smarter with *more psychopathic. The Clinton’s are psychopaths. IMHO, Trump comes off more as a frat boy who despite having the style and brains of an above average stereotyped frat boy, still steps in to correct a wrong here or there, and for the most part cares about his country and the well being of his nation.

            Sorry, I just don’t fully believe in your statement or logic, but you are welcome to it. In 2019, what do you mean by smarter? I know people who are seen as ostensibly “smarter” because they have had higher professional achievements, are more traveled, make more money, etc; but they inevitably seem to lack the degree you can only get at from the school of hard knocks and from living in poverty. I see how easy it is to dump on white trash who live on cheese doodles and J.Springer re-runs; but this being the 21st c, I know just as many people of my generation versed in Schopenhauer and Mencken whom haven’t been able to afford a proper vacation or a working automobile in a decade and would run intellectual circles around a Never Trumper from the coastal regions born into “privilege” (and do). Some of these people voted for Trump because they are already living with the consequences of collapse.

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