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F unny how, in the current national rapture of techno-narcissism, it is harder than ever to do something that for generations used to be as simple as pie: to get somebody on the telephone. It’s especially funny in a time when phones have become a prosthetic extension of every human hand and pretty much the be-all and end-all of human culture. I hold a phone, therefore I am!

It’s not so funny that the places where it is most difficult to connect to a live human being are among the most critical activities, most particularly every branch of health care. Hospitals now operate under the entirely false and obviously dishonest premise that a robotic phone routing system is the best way to handle communications. Notice that, in the logic of this system, no distinction is made between mundane business and medical emergencies. Everybody who calls get’s the same perky robot —always a woman, by the way, in a dishonest attempt to provide false reassurance that a “caring” presence (Big Sister) is at the other end of the line. Whether you call about a billing error or having just shredded your foot in a rototiller, the message at the other end will always be democratically the same: “Your call is important to us.” (Not.)

I dwell on these matters because I spent an inordinate amount of time last week calling around to several hospitals and doctors offices to get some of my medical records for a lawsuit I am prosecuting against the manufacturer of a defective hip implant that gave me cobalt / chromium poisoning. Note also that we have contrived to make it nearly impossible to obtain our own medical records.

Now I am, going to reveal to you why it is so difficult to get a live human being on the telephone at these important places: because the more of a racketeering matrix medicine becomes, the more it seeks to evade responsibility for the consequences. That is, the more medicine becomes a criminal enterprise, the less it wants to hear from its client/victims. The same ethos is at work in just about every other realm of corporate enterprise in the USA. Our problem in the USA is not “capitalism,” it’s racketeering. Why we fail to comprehend it is one of the abiding mysteries of contemporary life.

The biggest offender after medicine, of course, is banking. They don’t want to hear from you either. They enjoy the privilege of swindling you by both tiny-and-large increments on transaction payments and near-zero interest rates and mortgage contracts where no title record of collateral can be located, and that all works very nicely for them. But they’re too busy creaming off profits to talk to their customers. In both medicine and banking, even the few remaining human secretaries to whose answering machines calls are torturously routed will not return those phone calls. “Your call is important to us.” (Not.)

Now all of this raises a couple of questions. How did we get to this sorry place? And why are citizens not violently angry about it?

To some degree, this situation represents the sheer diminishing returns and unintended consequences of technology. In a nation infatuated with technology, these entropic effects are always ignored. We just don’t want to hear about it, and our related infatuation with feel-good public relations bullshit spews a fog of concealment over it. We apparently like being deceived and don’t mind being tortured.

Robot phone answering systems also allowed corporations to off-load the cost of doing business onto their customers, mostly in the form of wasting vast amounts of their customers’ time. Included in the off-load was the cost of paying receptionists (as telephone answerers used to be quaintly called) and all their medical and retirement benefits — just another manifestation of the vanishing middle class, by the way, since a lot of women used to be employed that way (let’s skip the gender equality side-bar for now). After a while, the added privilege of companies being able to evade responsibility for their actions hugely outweighed the cost-saving advantage of firing some lower level employees.

It ought to be self-evident that this could only happen in a profoundly corrupt, dishonest, and degenerate society, because it took the form of a social compact that accepted this sort of behavior as okay. Doctors especially don’t want to be accessible to their customers. It enhances their aura of supernatural authority to be as unreachable as possible — and most of them these days are safely embedded in the protective corporate matrix one way or another as well. I suppose you can always pray to them and hope for a reply, since that is obviously the system they are trying to emulate. And, after all, this is an especially pious society. But try asking a plain question like, “how come you charged me $34,000 for four hours of anesthesia?” and you will be hung out to dry until the end of time.

As for outrage, I am frankly amazed that the various armed lunatics at large in America are so busy shooting up schools when many more people are actually being harmed, indeed ruined, by the health care “industry” and the banks.

If you have a theory about all this, please offer it up in the Comments department.


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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 the four-book series of World Made By Hand novels, set in a post economic crash American future. His most recent book is Living in the Long Emergency; Global Crisis, the Failure of the Futurists, and the Early Adapters Who Are Showing Us the Way Forward. Jim lives on a homestead in Washington County, New. York, where he tends his garden and communes with his chickens.

300 Responses to “Your Call Is Important To Us”

  1. seawolf77 May 19, 2014 at 9:14 am #

    In a perverse way, we have gotten what we have always desired: complete and utter isolation. I see young couples together today sitting at the IHOP, across from each other, face to face, each holding a cellphone up to their faces. Not for a little while either. I go to the mall and kids are sitting next to each other, none of them talking to ech other, all of them fixated on their cellphones. I go to a bar and order a drink or food and I attempt to make casual conversation and what does the bartender do? Reach for his cellphone. It is now my dream to live somewhere where there are no cars and no cellphones. Am I weird? Maybe. But I am not the one talking to his cellphone riding alone in his car.

    • BeerBarrel May 19, 2014 at 11:34 am #

      So true.

      When I take a walk during the day, there’s occasionally a woman I walk by who’s out for a smoke, walking along with her head angled down onto her shoulder at a weird angle to hold her cell phone on her shoulder (hands-free!). She has no idea how dumb she looks. As I approach (she’s walking towards me), she begins to visibly fear my presence, curling her shoulder up – sometimes using her free hand to steady the phone – and basically scrunching her head into her shoulder and her security blanket (phone) like as if there’s a little demon on her shoulder caressing her and whispering in her ear about things that matter more than anything or anyone else.

      My family has two cell phones – one’s currently needing a Tracfone reload, and the other is a HSN Tracfone special that came with 1400 minutes 1/yr service for $49. On that one, the time’s nearly half up and there’s still over 1300 minutes remaining! We use the infernal devices for emergencies or long distance calls – so we tell ourselves – but for the life of us can’t remember to even keep the damned things charged so if an emergency smacked us upside the head chances are the cell phone wouldn’t even be around.

    • noel bodie May 19, 2014 at 11:59 am #


    • noel bodie May 19, 2014 at 12:04 pm #

      Seawoseawolf! good point.

    • CancelMyCard May 19, 2014 at 12:10 pm #

      “It is now my dream to live somewhere where there are no cars and no cellphones. Am I weird? ”

      No, you were Amish in a previous life.

      Maybe time to rejoin the community.

    • alphie May 19, 2014 at 2:59 pm #

      I believe the automobile has done more to destroy the planet and isolate it’s inhabitants than any other invention. I ascribe to your philosophy seawolf and therefore bow before His Weirdness

    • JRM May 19, 2014 at 6:03 pm #

      “It is now my dream to live somewhere where there are no cars and no cellphones. Am I weird?”

      Me too! And I bet there are millions of us — just enough of us that I believe if we were to commit to the project — together, in our numbers — we could actually create communities just like that. I’m very serious. Google “ecovillage” and “intentional community” — yes, on your electronic devices. And you’ll get the gist of my thinking.

      Reach out to one another. Dream together. “If we build it they will come.”

      • alphie May 19, 2014 at 10:14 pm #

        Remember those gerbil wheels that I guess kept your gerbil from going crazy. They could expend all their energy without ever leaving the tank. I make it sound like they wanted to be there. Instead of using their energy to live a gerbil’s life, which I imagine would include digging holes, storing food, making babies and avoiding predators, they would mindlessly run for no apparent reason other than because they were trapped with a whole lot of time and a whole lot of energy.
        I believe we’re caught up in the same situation. We’re trapped in a culture that somebody else set up for us and we’re supposed to be happy. We drive home all tuckered out after 8 or 10 hours on our gerbil wheels knowing(maybe only unconsciously) that we are wasting our lives because we need the money. Thoreau said, “the greatest bungler is he who spends the better part of his life getting a living”.
        Yes JRM we must commit and dream together. But how to get off the gerbil wheel?

        • JRM May 20, 2014 at 11:45 am #


          Your gerbil wheel analogy seems pretty apt. Sadly.

          “Yes JRM we must commit and dream together. But how to get off the gerbil wheel?”

          That’s a profound question, and it is the question at the heart of a very long inquiry–and research–on my part. There are concrete, active steps to be taken, of course. But there is also the need of understanding why and how the gerbil wheel came into being. And there’s simply no way to characterize it succinctly. But there are principles smack dab in the middle of any thorough insight into the question. My first principle is what I call the Principle of Integrity (a.k.a., wholeness). We’ve horribly violated this foremost principle — in our own selves, in each other, in the world…. And so — in too many respects — the word is dis-integrating. (Wholeness is integration, well-being, health, even wealth…. Check the etymology.)

          I don’t think we can turn and move toward wholeness without both intellectual and experiential awareness and experience of the Fundamental Wholeness which weaves the world together. So I think the somatics tradition, broadly conceived, combined with the broadly conceived ecological ethos … are crucial to both our experience and understanding of how to proceed.

          If you would like to discuss this in greater detail, I can be reached at jrivermartin ~at~ gmail ~dot~ com

      • MikeMoskos May 20, 2014 at 2:54 am #

        I think there could be a big demand for a carless part of a city. Not some isolated apartment complex with curved pathways, but a formerly dumpy part of a dense city, mostly renovated with all the usual urbanist features (retail on the ground floor, apartments above, shade trees on the sidewalks). It could start small, say a four block square; a smart developer would secure much more land around it to make the real profit as it grew.

        I’m just sick of dodging cars all the time.

  2. AKlein May 19, 2014 at 9:16 am #

    JHK, it may be that physicians and bankers still enjoy a special, unchallenged, place in the society that they inherited from days of yore. Being a doctor, at one time anyway, was a “calling” not a job. That was not true of bankers, but at least bankers were considered, back then, as being above reproach. So we might be able to chalk up the apparent ennui of the populace to social inertia.
    Incidentally, I’m not sure this is actually the case, it just seems somewhat plausible.

  3. ihatejuice May 19, 2014 at 9:16 am #

    34k? I’ll knock you out for free.

  4. Pucker May 19, 2014 at 9:21 am #

    I saw a law firm medical practice advertisement on TV the other day in California soliciting people to join a class action suit against a manufacturer of defective metal hip joint implants. I thought about JHK when I saw it.

  5. Pucker May 19, 2014 at 9:23 am #

    Harvey Milk Day is coming up (May 22nd).

    I see that on May 22nd they will be issuing a new Harvey Milk US postage stamp.

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    • Neon Vincent May 19, 2014 at 9:56 am #

      To tie your comment back to the subject of Jim’s post, the University of Arkansas wasted no time opening enrollment for same-sex spouses of university employees in the university’s insurance plan.

      University of Arkansas to Offer Insurance Coverage for Same-Sex Spouses, Friday, May 16, 2014

      University of Arkansas benefits-eligible employees married to spouses of the same sex may now add them to the University of Arkansas employee insurance plans.

      Employees will have until June 9 to complete and turn in your enrollment forms to Human Resources.

      In other words, “celebrate your equality by having equal access to the medical racket along all the rest of the spouses.” I’m sure everyone involved thought that was a good thing.

      As for my theory about why this is so, I haven’t had my morning coffee yet, so I don’t have one. Instead, I’ll call everyone’s attention to the latest of the “converging crises of the 21st Century” that our host warned us about in “The Long Emergency,” climate change. Two weeks ago, the government issued The U.S. National Climate Assessment. It can be summed up in one sentence, “Climate change is now.”


      As if to underscore the point, last week NASA warned us that one of the slow-motion calamities that scientists had been warning us about, the collapse of the West Antarctica ice sheet, had begun and was likely irreversible, leading to at least four feet of sea level rise by the end of the century.


      Here’s to surviving the converging catastrophes of the 21st Century!

      • ozone May 19, 2014 at 10:54 am #

        And who woulda thunk that the Insurance racket would use the climate change thingy to avoid paying claims? Surely they wouldn’t do such a thing!
        Countersuiting, litigious, chin-jutting heaven:


        Haven’t got a racket? Get one today, it’s the American way!

        • Neon Vincent May 19, 2014 at 12:34 pm #

          Actually, I’m not surprised. My wife used to work for Kemper Insurance, back when the company advertised itself as the Kemper Cavalry. She did an analysis of claims from hurricanes in Florida and came to the conclusion that Kemper should get out of home insurance in Florida, as the company was losing money and couldn’t sell insurance at high enough premiums to break even. As more and more property was built in the state and the value of it increased, the claims would just continue to rise–and that was even without taking sea level rise and increased storm frequency and severity into account.

          As for your tidbit about Farmers suing communities in and around Chicago for not being prepared for climate change, I’ll pass that on to her. She’ll appreciate it not only because she worked in insurance, but because she’s from Chicago.

          In the meantime, an important part of the racket is that it sells peace of mind, even if it doesn’t always deliver. The latest study from the University of Michigan on diabetes treatment shows that financially insecure women have trouble following a diabetes regimen. Women with more resources don’t find the treatment program as overwhelming.


          Now, every sing along with me: We are Farmers, bum buh dum bum, bum bum bum!

  6. Marlena13 May 19, 2014 at 9:32 am #

    I’ve always though capitalism was pure racketeering

  7. kulturcritic May 19, 2014 at 9:32 am #

    Same situation here in Russia, James. Cell phones and other mod appliances glued to the face. Excellent post. The world is becoming prosthetic. Now, if we could only find a solution to America’s Pivot to Eurasia and Africa. kC

  8. swmnguy May 19, 2014 at 9:33 am #

    Our economic model of corporate finance capitalism requires infinite expansion, which presupposes infinite energy, resources, markets and money. All of these are actually finite, except we can make money appear infinite by making it abstract, with the consequences we see all around us. As we hit the boundaries of finiteness, the system can only “expand” internally. That is, it eats itself. Hence, labor arbitrage, the dominance of finance activity over actual productivity, and exponentially increasing complexity.

    “Customer Service” is the most costly, and least financially rewarding, part of many industries’ business. So they outsource it onto the customers themselves. That’s what we see with the phone trees, the self-checkout machines, ATMs, etc. Actual work that gets things done is less profitable than financial legerdemain. That’s why every business of a certain size gets into banking and loses interest in their actual business. Go to Home Depot and buy some paint. They’d rather set you up with a loan than sell you rollers and tarps. Gresham’s Law, or some corollary of it, in action.

    In medicine, we see the fee-for-service model feeding finance imperatives as well. Psychiatrists will prescribe extremely complex and risky pharmaceuticals rather than talk for an hour with a patient. Maintaining a state of viable illness is vastly more profitable than helping a patient become healthy. As more money is made, more money still must be made in a “Red Queen” paradox. Customer service, providing patient records etc., isn’t just unprofitable; it stands in the way of increased profits, and must be eliminated.

    I’ve found that humans like helping one another. Almost every time I’ve needed help, somebody has popped up eager to help, whether in a useful way or not. When people refuse to help, they usually blame their job’s policies. It seems that every hierarchical structure, once formed, becomes an almost living entity with needs and desires of its own. In a two-person partnership, there are three beings; the two partners and the Organization. Eventually the Organization’s imperatives come to supersede the needs of the people involved. This is where I have run afoul of every job I ever had; at some point I had to choose between doing the job and servicing the Organizational imperatives, and I always made the “wrong choice.” When I have to deal with people stuck in the abstract trap of hierarchical authority structures, if I can engage them as human beings, they drop what they’re doing to help me. When I can’t engage them as human beings, they use the Organizational Imperatives as an excuse not to help me.

    The misplaced concreteness afforded to abstracted entities goes hand in hand with the financialization of every human transaction. It leads, of course, to over-complexity and eventually, to collapse. At a certain point, nobody’s needs are met except the Organizational Imperatives. At that point, people just stop showing up. That’s where we’re heading, and after the initial terrifying jolt that will come when we realize we’re all just people with needs and we’re going to have to deal with each other without the abstract pretense of hierarchical authority structures, we’ll be a lot happier and effective in doing what we really enjoy doing, which is helping each other so as to help ourselves. We don’t really like feeding the beasts of our imagination, but we do it compulsively, out of fear and an ephemeral promise of security, which never comes because it can’t come from denying our true interests in favor of serving an abstract and unreal set of imperatives.

    • Florida Power May 19, 2014 at 9:57 am #

      Well said Swmnguy. Key element: human beings. Kurzweil’s singularity is here already – it’s just not widely distributed yet. We have passed the tipping point beyond the McLuhanesque technology-as-corporeal extensions to behavioral emulation of microprocessors. The human-machine interface blurs to the machine-machine interface. One imagines robots in the near future dialing their place of manufacture to order spare parts.

      • swmnguy May 19, 2014 at 10:05 am #

        Right, and then the robots will be stuck in a voice-tree or equivalent limbo, ignoring each other to serve the Organizational Imperative. I don’t think the Singularity is going to be so much technological in nature as abstracted. At the core, the mechanism doesn’t matter so much. The issue is systems that serve their own interests rather than the interests they were created to serve. We’ve done that without technology, though technology makes that task, like many others, easier.

        • Being There May 19, 2014 at 10:17 am #

          It’s the same with manufacturing products. Making money is the only imperative, so making a product that works as well as it did in the 1960’s is no longer important. It looks ok on the outside, but doesn’t actually function properly. Parts don’t fit, or the thing breaks down in no time.

          • Florida Power May 19, 2014 at 12:33 pm #

            If the ZH article re unsold cars is true (ZH is usually reliable source) then the quality revolution in the auto industry ironically is the source of its undoing. Cars on average last a lot longer now than they did in the 50s and 60s. Quality may prove to be incompatible with the infinite growth paradigm.

            But your general point is well taken, and “just in time” inventory control is coequal with “just enough material to meet spec” that we see everywhere. The shareholders are demanding quarterly bottom line growth, so the accountants have become the engineers.

        • Florida Power May 19, 2014 at 12:10 pm #

          Kurzweil is quite serious about leaving the biological world behind — the world of disease, erotic desire, emotions of impatience and anger when put on hold by the phone system, death. Like C3PO in Star Wars, “hold” is just a cyber routine: I’ll just shut down. Time is meaningless, dimensionless.

          This concept extends way beyond cultural-historical structures that direct and mold human interaction, and beyond the notion of man-as-tool-builder. Casey Jones might indeed have loved in some sense his locomotive, and maybe even was conscious of the rapacity and amorality of the Railroad Corporation, but he had no serious intention of merging, or maybe more precisely, sub-merging his consciousness within the locomotive consciousness (so to speak; artificial intelligence creates a far different machine to be sure). But I have betrayed myself by saying “sub-merging.” Foolishly full of hubris, human to the inevitable end.

    • shotho May 19, 2014 at 10:07 am #

      I am a retired sociology professor and, let me tell you, this is one of the most intelligent and informed analyses I have read of our present dysfunctional society. Somehow we have to reverse the perverse incentives of organizational structure to reward honest human relationship interactions. Probably won’t happen until the present system collapses due to overcomplexity. Is it to difficult to understand that we benefit when we make the effort to help someone else. I think an itenerant preacher said something about this two thousand years ago. Sorry, not really trying to force my beliefs onto you.

      • swmnguy May 20, 2014 at 12:21 pm #

        Thanks for the kind words. My father is a retired professor of Political Science. I myself, alone in my large family, lack even a 4-year degree. Indeed, I never officially finished elementary school. I stopped going to high school, and started college during a very informal summer program. I just showed up in the fall, and it was a couple of years before anyone figured out I’d never actually been admitted to college. They let me stay, until I realized I was much more interested in learning things than in following a process that seemed to actually get in the way of learning things. I suppose I had learned how to learn, and that was what I had come for.
        As for your itinerant preacher, he certainly violated the organizational imperatives of his time and place, didn’t he? So much so that the organizational operatives had to nail him to a tree as an example to others. Not a real tree either; they had to make an abstract tree out of parts of a real tree, and make him drag the abstracted tree around town to make him feel the very real weight of abstracted organizational imperatives.
        And what did he say that was so different from any of a multitude of Stoic philosophers and prophets of a million and one other religious outlooks? That part of the world, at that time, was like a Wal-Mart of religion. Why was it he who incurred so much wrath? I don’t know, but I think it was the way he attacked the local organizational imperatives, and stressed that being human was all that mattered, not what sort of human or what position in the social order. He probably could have sacrificed babies, eaten shellfish and worn mixed-blend garments and nobody would have noticed, but as soon as he said that women and slaves had as much value as noble men, hoo-boy, there’s gonna be trouble.
        No need to apologize for acknowledging your beliefs. Forcing them on others is more the task of the organizations that have sprung up to seize any potential lever to control others. If your itinerant preacher came back, those organizations would get their abstracted trees ready for him all over again, no doubt.

    • dweebus May 19, 2014 at 10:22 am #

      ” As we hit the boundaries of finiteness, the system can only “expand” internally. That is, it eats itself.”

      Well said.

      • MisterDarling May 19, 2014 at 3:34 pm #

        Ian McShane was being interviewed about __Deadwood__ (while the show was still running).

        He stated that in his viewpoint gold-rush towns like the Deadwood, SD were fine examples of what happens when capitalism is un-restrained: “It eats itself” alive.

        Schumpeter would have agreed, and the American West is dotted with resource-extraction based ex-towns as a testament.

        • BackRowHeckler May 19, 2014 at 7:11 pm #

          So what’s the alternative? Do yo know about the Gulags, which were essentially slave labor camps run by the police? The worst one, one of thousands, was in Kolyma, where gold was mined. Millions perished there, shot down and thrown in pits. How many were killed in gunfights in Deadwood in the 1870s, 12 -15 people a year? We’ve seen what happens when communism is unrestrained in places like the Soviet Union and Cambodia. We are talking about the liquidation of tens of millions of human beings. There is no comparison.


          • dweebus May 20, 2014 at 9:52 am #

            The estimated population of Native Americans in North America is estimated at 2-18 million, pre-contact. By 1900, there were 250,000. Oh yes there is a comparison and it is every bit as brutal as anything the Bolsheviks did.


    • AKlein May 19, 2014 at 11:24 am #

      swmnguy, your post is highly articulate, well reasoned and a satisfying read. I could add only one point, and that is that there are some beneficiaries in the toxic scheme you describe. The “Organization” is not the natural consequence of our faulted inner workings as humans (you seem to imply that), but, rather, are the carefully crafted artifices by which the elites enslave the rest of us. They, the elites, are not subject to the “Organizational Imperatives” upon which the rest of of are crucified. For example, does John Corzine need to concern himself with the rules and regulations regarding the handling of other peoples’ money?

      • swmnguy May 20, 2014 at 12:08 pm #

        An excellent and interesting point. In my experience, I’ve usually been below the “Organization” or outside of it looking in; only rarely in a position of control within it or above it. The one time I started business that involved other people I lacked the capital to turn it into an entity of its own. I’m thinking of capital to an organization as electricity to Dr. Frankenstein’s monster, though certainly not all organizations require capital, at least at first.

        I suppose Jon Corzine (a very good example) would say he never did anything even unethical, much less unlawful. It was his Organization that did it, and how can anyone blame any entity for going to the utmost ends to survive? Something of Kurtzweil’s Singularity in an abstracted form.

        Since all these entities are abstract, it gets weird in a hurry. But basically these entities are created in someone’s mind, and then given agency of their own, to insulate individuals from the consequences of their actions. We accept them because…well, I’m not sure why we accept them. We’re conditioned to.

        You’re right, I do seem to imply there’s something organically human about this. That’s interesting to me. I didn’t mean to imply that. I’m not sure I believe that. I need to think about that some more. Maybe we accept these “carefully crated artifices by which the elites enslave the rest of us” because we’re predisposed to accept whatever mental construct a more powerful force gives us to either accept or be destroyed? I can’t imagine Bushmen or New Guinea tribesmen coming up with General Motors, Kaiser Permanente or the Catholic Church; not due to a lack of intelligence at all, but because those are three fairly preposterous human constructs when you think about them.

    • ozone May 19, 2014 at 11:54 am #

      Thank you for another incisive posting, swmnguy!
      And thanks, AKlein for the addendum (with which I agree).

    • DrTomSchmidt May 19, 2014 at 3:07 pm #

      If you haven’t read it yet, pick up a copy of The Penguin and the Leviathan. Adds philosophical and statistical backing for exactly what you say here. Alternative book is The Fall of the Alphas.

      • swmnguy May 20, 2014 at 11:53 am #

        Thanks for the reading recommendations. I’ll look for both.

  9. observex May 19, 2014 at 9:39 am #

    There is no outrage because the system is too abstract and “that’s just the way it is”, is so ingrained in the collective psyche. Complaining about being in voicemail hell is elevator chat and no more. These things are accepted as just part of modern life, and having seen everything from texting to speech recognition voicemail to multi-service ATMs being phased in over a course of some 15+ years, it comes to seem like some kind of natural evolution over time, with the actual rapidity of it overlooked. For my children this is the way “it’s always been.” So, no outrage because no conscious recognition that something is amiss. l

  10. Being There May 19, 2014 at 9:46 am #

    My theory is simple: Misplaced aggression. Apparently it’s easier to attack a school than a hospital or a bank. They you have to look at the age of the attacker.

    Getting back to heart of your story. Indeed it is all Murder Inc., now, but I have to add that it is also about cutting jobs so the CEOs can make ever more billions-cuz you know they really need their billions and every year their profits must increase, so it’s not just a question of the techological, it’s also about the top cutting human resources, since they get in the way of profits. It’s the bean counter determining how few people it takes to run any institution

    As per your law suit. A good friend and client of mine had a knee replacement which has nearly killed her. Apparently it “exploded” and is poisoning her slowly. She has no idea how long she can live like this, but she lives on a form of chemo which is supposed to keep the poisons in her body from killing her. I can’t begin to describe her suffering —of course it ended her marriage, needless to say.

    She has a successful business in spite of this and luckily her family has money, otherwise she couldn’t have survived this. I don’t know whether there’s a lawsuit here too, but there should be.

    Micheal Hudson describes the FIRE sector ( govt. backed private monopolies) Finance, Insurance, Real Estate and Energy, but surely we can add big pharma, big medical industry to that list.

    Last but not least—I’d like to call attention to Plutocracy 2.0 in the form of Biden’s son and Kerry’s stepson’s friend who have just gotten jobs with the Burisma, Nat. Gas company working our of the Ukraine. You gotta love how the US figured out how to make millionaires and billionaires through war….

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  11. contrahend May 19, 2014 at 9:51 am #

    Mumble ‘ssssstt’ several times and you’ll often be routed to a human. There’s also a site that publishes business numbers that’ll get you to a human as well.

    It might be gethuman dot com. I’m sure there are others.

    I’d love to hear the following recording: “We don’t really care that you called us. Actually, not a single individual who works here even knows you’re calling. Now, I’d like to annoy you for several minutes as I read off a list of options that don’t apply to your case, building your desire to kill this phone system and yell at a human if you eventually reach one. Anyway, good luck, though we really couldn’t care less either way.”

    Still, I’m sure JHK would employ the same voice recordings if he had a business that needed to compete, and had the option of installing a $4,000 AVR system or paying someone $20,000 plus benefits to do the same work.

    Exigencies of business.


  12. pequiste May 19, 2014 at 9:58 am #

    It is not called a “cell” phone for nothing. It is just another tool developed by technocrats (and joyfully operationalized by the controlling arch-fiend Plutocracy) to ensure each person gets their own isolation chamber and in a panopticon that exists in both actual and virtual worlds. Neat trick they’ve managed to pull of dontcha think?
    French writer Albert Jarry coined the term Pataphysics for the science of imaginary solutions. And in whose wildest dreams could a cybernetic system that ensures isolation and perpetuates diffusion of responsibility that also rewards beyond the dreams of avarice be instituted — the same hateful people that have built “health care” and banking systems that Jim’s gimlet essays vilify so deservedly.
    We have long passed the point of no return with these technologies. See the sign above the gate described by Dante as he began his descent to Inferno.

  13. James Levy May 19, 2014 at 9:58 am #

    Part of it has to do with a notion that is endlessly repeated: that capitalism provides feedback loops so that the customer always, in the end, gets what they want, that these systems are self-generated by consumers and not the machinations of corporations and individuals out to screw us out of every nickel they can. To doubt phone tress is to doubt commodified debt obligations is to doubt the flag and the virgin birth. These things, we are told, are Right and True and infallible because we believe in them and know they are so. We have been told over and over that under Capitalism the Consumer is King. Corporations and government are not nasty, powerful institutions forcing this crud down our throats, they are responsive to the will of the people and in the end do what we want them to do. To admit otherwise would open the floor to too many unwanted questions about how things come to be and who decides.

    • ozone May 19, 2014 at 11:11 am #

      Thanks for putting it so well, James. Concise and clear. (Yep, it’s all been a very successful PR pitch as to the benevolence of our abusers.) Don’t ask; Don’t tell; Don’t think; Don’t question.

    • Janos Skorenzy May 19, 2014 at 1:26 pm #

      Putin went after some of the worst of them and he was damned in the West as being “Anti-Semitic” – even though he has Jews in his government. Why do you think that is?

    • BackRowHeckler May 19, 2014 at 7:15 pm #

      Ok Ok Capitalism is evil. What’s the alternative? Fascism, Communism? All the other isms seem to lead to mass murder.


      • Janos Skorenzy May 20, 2014 at 1:50 am #

        It starts out fine. But Capital concentrates in fewer and fewer hands over time. Mature Capitalism is very, very different than free enterprise. Please make this connection.

  14. 99 cent nation May 19, 2014 at 9:59 am #

    “Criminal enterprise,” is so true. No responsibility what so ever, although it does keep that other criminal enterprise in business, lawyers. I heard on c-span the other day that over 210 thousand die every year from hospital mistakes. Only 15 years ago it was only 100 thousand. They are getting better at stealing and killing. Hell we went to war over a loss of 3,000. Its time the medical criminal enterprises, and banking criminal enterprises be accountable and a lot of perp walks. Of course that is never going to happen since half of the criminals we don’t send to jail we send to Washington. Crooks all.

    • Karah May 19, 2014 at 10:11 am #

      the 3000 that were not killed by friendly fire.

    • windward May 20, 2014 at 3:59 am #

      Glad that you mentioned lawyers. There is a good chance that Jim will have trouble with them, that is, his own lawyers, in his medical lawsuit. Lawyers are the only faction in our society that has no predators. The circular chain of checks and balances is broken when it reaches them. They are truly the only group in this country that regulates itself. The results are no surprise:

      “Study after study has shown that the current rules for professional conduct [for lawyers] are not enforced. Misconduct is rarely perceived. If perceived, it is not reported. If reported, it is not investigated. If investigated, violations are not found. If found, they are excused. If they are not excused, penalties are light. And if significant penalties are imposed, the lawyer soon returns to practice, in that state or another. Lawyers constantly condemn the failure of the criminal justice system to deter crime for precisely these reasons – because of its alleged indifference, procedural niceties, or excessive lenience. Indeed, we know that the efficacy of social control varies even more strongly with the likelihood of punishment than it does with the severity of the sanction. Yet on both counts, especially the former, the professional disciplinary system falls far below the wholly inadequate standards of the criminal law. Lawyers can hardly present their travesty of a penal system as an effective deterrent.” (“Why Does the ABA Promulgate Ethical Rules?” by Richard L. Abel, Connell Professor of Law, University of California at Los Angeles School of Law, from 59 Texas Law Review 639, 1981)

  15. Karah May 19, 2014 at 10:00 am #

    medical records

    the best way to obtain your record of the procedure for your first hip replacement is to go to that hospital and ask to speak with the medical records director. they are responsible for all the records, especially the lawsuits, and any requests for your information to third parties.

    your lawyers will need your written permission to get a copy of your entire record.

    some if not all medical records are massive and the medical records director or a clerk will help you look for the specific documents you need. its the law because that information belongs to you. the originals will stay at the hospital, however, you may have a notarized copy. your record may be entirely digital or digitized depending on the hospital storage procedures. maybe you remember what was paper and what was computerized during your stay. all client forms are paper. everything else, your vitals and what everyone did to you is digital. doctors notes are often dictated and typed into a computer.

    your insurer also has access to your record for billing purposes.
    you may have received an itemized bill of what your insurance paid for and what you owe. if not, call them or visit with an agent who can look into it.

    most things people call about is to gripe and nothing can be authorized or verified over the phone. so, it would make more sense if the automated receptionist could cut to the chase and ask if you would like to sched an appt: “please press a number corresponding to the hour…the day is….please confirm your appt….” they have automated confirmation for doc offices.

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  16. ozone May 19, 2014 at 10:02 am #

    “As for outrage, I am frankly amazed that the various armed lunatics at large in America are so busy shooting up schools when many more people are actually being harmed, indeed ruined, by the health care “industry” and the banks.

    If you have a theory about all this, please offer it up in the Comments department.” — JHK

    I’m hugely puzzled as to why these rampagers prey on their fellow victims as well!
    I do have a very fuzzy, kinda nebulous theory though. Perhaps it’s been a very serious and dedicated PR campaign on the part Madison Ave., at the behest of the racketeers (let’s not forget the benevolent Insurance Providers) to make them look as though they have nothing but our interests at heart (and that’s their final focus and goal while squeaking out a meager profit). Perhaps the destruction of critical thinking has helped this along, I dunno. Has the general populace [in the end] become convinced that racketeering is the normal operating procedure, so that they no longer see it, due to its’ ubiquity? (This also confers a layer of shadow over the racketeers by default.)

    A very important question, JHK! …And I would like to use a nice American expression to describe what I think is at the root here: We’ve done been Hornswoggled!

    • Janos Skorenzy May 19, 2014 at 1:32 pm #

      To put America and her people first is Fascism. Since the peeps have been programmed all their lives to reject it, what intelligent actions can they take? Marxism has been mainstreamed and is the world view of the Mandarin Class so that is no answer. Going local is behind their ken or ability, so they go loco instead.

  17. K-Dog May 19, 2014 at 10:08 am #

    “We apparently like being deceived and don’t mind being tortured.”

    And that is another mystery of the current national rapture. Or is it? Perhaps it is only a case of people doing anything for attention.

  18. wardoc May 19, 2014 at 10:09 am #

    JHK: As you know from prior posts and conversations, I am a Physician who has worked in the military and the private sector. What you are saying here is right on the money in terms of the processes that are destroying what was once a noble profession that took care of the poor when necessary and focused on the rewards of intellectual pursuit and healing arts (money was always a secondary concern but there was always a good income). Now that even sounds quaint and simply naive. Most physicians today would laugh at such a statement.

    What has happened can best be explained by Marx, probably the most mis-understood and mis-quoted of all 20th century intellectuals. He wrote extensively about how capital (and he didn’t mean mom and pop shops, he meant BIG banks BIG medicine, BIG money) takes once noble professions, from law to the clergy to medicine, and turns them into prostitutes by stripping away the underlying values of each profession and re-focusing them on the rabid and obsessive acquisition of money, for money’s sake.

    Patients are now viewed as customers (aka clients) and groups of them are viewed as profit centers. The most glorified of physicians, at least in the US, not so much in the countries with far better medical care (e.g. France, Finland, CUBA !!!!!!, Germany) are the very ones who are very literally anti-intellectual, and most callous toward patients, and make their living off of the use of procedure kits sold by ravenous firms whose sales reps literally become directly involved in patient care even in the middle of surgeries (all in the name of technical assistance). (There was probably a sales rep in the OR when you had your implant, as the implant came in a kit that is sold at outrageous markups by the sales reps and their companies; that’s one of the big secrets of modern medicine; sales reps in the OR !!!!!!!) The most intellectual of physicians, typically internists, are lowest on the totem pole of pay, recognition, and status. The surgeons, who in civilized countries are considered little more than last resort technicians at best, and schooled barbers at worst, are absolutely glorified in amerika. THis is an aberration that the average amerikan rube who has never traveled, knows nothing about.

    The real issue that we, as a group, cannot face, is that amerika has become, and will continue to become, a THIRD WORLD NATION. Look at literally ALL the international ratings: we are far from the top 25% in literally every categorical area considered to reflect civilization: medical care, freedom of the press, business opportunity (and this means small start up shops not corporate slave plantations), and overall health and life satisfaction. That’s what happens with the society is run by organized criminals. It become what is termed “3rd world.” We just have color tv and monday night football, not to mention CELL PHONES, to make us think that not only can we not even compete with other more civilized nations, but that we are superior !!!!

    But, don’t worry, be happy, dancing with the stars has a new episode tonite. And, I hear a new iphone is coming out soon, and you can live inside this one.


    • Karah May 19, 2014 at 10:33 am #

      is air conditioning and controlled climate an indication of first world status?

      no. third world is political stereotype started during the cold war around 1975.

      a more definitive term is economically underdeveloped or politically unstable for global investment.

      most of america is becoming third world because we do not have the resources to plunder:

      massive amounts of low income laborers (we demand living wages)
      water (it is regulated and cities can sue for it)
      education (becoming increasingly privatized because of the push by universities for higher standards)
      land (being used for nice suburban structures and huge stores instead of low income highrises)

    • Hands4u May 19, 2014 at 10:57 am #

      WD- I know where coming from and have seen it as well; I’ve been trying to deal with the counseling side of Psychiatry for 30 years even though I burned out in the first 5 because of the change from Institutions to becoming people are our “product” business.

      When dealing with individuals who are so traumatized by society and economics they don’t know how and often don’t ask for help because they will be eaten up by having to become dependent upon the “system” greed and power has created privately and through government.

      Many of my clients cannot (and some that can are unwilling to) navigate the system due to everything you can think of that is used to deter liability, mistakes, misinterpretations etc… just to hold on money for an extraweek, month or quarter because it all comes down to those immediate results that wqe think indicate what is important and the goal.

      After working for a very profitable mid-size company (68,000) for 10 years one ploy would be to demand payment for services or product with in 30 days of delivery or there would be interest charged or other action taken and then turn around and find that due to the size of the company itself they could allow themselves up to 90 days to pay off their suppliers. (some times longer) The interest on 10 of millions of dollars sitting in their accounts and investments would some how create more “value” for shareholders and banks and thus increase market share and stock values.

      We have created the matrix, isolate and be crushed, though participation allows you to “live a little longer”. We’ve been paying the band so I guess we’ll have finish the last dance as the ship goes down.

    • AKlein May 19, 2014 at 11:33 am #

      Wardoc. Your treatise is very refreshing. It’s a small comfort, but a comfort nonetheless, that there is a physician “out there” who has such thoughts.

    • James Howard Kunstler May 19, 2014 at 11:37 am #

      Wardoc wrote: “There was probably a sales rep in the OR when you had your implant, as the implant came in a kit that is sold at outrageous markups by the sales reps and their companies; that’s one of the big secrets of modern medicine; sales reps in the OR !!!!!!!”
      JHK: I was billed $14,000 for the kit used to replace my defective hip implant: new acetabulum cup, plastic liner, femoral head, plus one screw. All about the size of a tangerine.

      • Hands4u May 19, 2014 at 12:50 pm #

        JHK- at $7.85 an hr that comes to 1,783 hours of one person working; or 44.57 weeks of labor for one; or paying 1,783 min wage workers to replace/repair your hip!

    • Janos Skorenzy May 19, 2014 at 1:51 pm #

      Marxists despise the “petty bourgeoisie” and invariably destroy them. Obama is doing just what the Russians and Chinese did before him. Did Marx say to do this? If memory serves, he indicated his disdain on a number of occasion and perhaps his fanatical followers picked up from there. A relevant quote perhaps:


    • BackRowHeckler May 19, 2014 at 7:19 pm #

      Hey Wardoc we’ve imported a third word population. What the hell do you think was going to happen?


    • MSReallySucks May 19, 2014 at 11:02 pm #

      War doc, just wanted to say, you are absolutely right about the sales reps in the OR. I participated in a medical trial of the Bion device. It was implanted near my left pudendal nerve, in an effort to fix the urinary urgency, frequency, and nocturia I was experiencing.
      During the procedure, I woke up to see my doc, the lead investigator, chatting with the sales rep. Both of them in front of me while I was spread-eagle on the OR table.

      I felt a bit startled and discomfited, but then decided, aw, screw it, nothing worth raising a fuss about.

      BTW, thanks for your service. Former Army officer here, Gulf War veteran.

      Oh, and everything else you wrote was spot on.

      One of the things that bothers me most as a patient is only getting ten minutes at a time with my PCP. This was true both in the military, as well as the civilian world. I realize this is a horrible situation for you doctors, as well.

      But for me, it meant that it took fourteen years from when I first reported troubling symptoms, to when I was formally diagnosed with MS.

      My bladder problems were misdiagnosed as IC. My crushing fatigue and low mood were diagnosed as depression and peri menopause.

      My knee problems and lower back pain, due to spastic muscles, were attributed to growing older.

      My complaint of odd numbness that came and went was met with a look of, “this lady is nuts.”

      My optic neuritis symptoms were attributed to eye strain from computer use.

      When I became paralyzed from the waist down and was taken to Walter Reed by ambulance, they could not give me an MRI due to the implanted device, so I was misdiagnosed as having Guillain Barre Syndrome when it was clearly Transverse Myelitis.

      I keep thinking, if only my PCP were allowed the time needed to truly read and understand my records….to see the pattern of complaints…he would have been able to put two and two together, and I would have been diagnosed sooner, and given DMDs sooner.

      I think every patient who develops a zebra disease, must surely be in the same situation I was.

      I don’t blame any of my doctors, but I do feel the healthcare system as a whole let me down, a bit.

  19. Greg Knepp May 19, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Schools, malls and many workplaces are accessible; hospitals, corporate headquarters and banks – less so. Large institutions have security systems and extra police protection, but children, shoppers and workers are usually defenseless.

    Marginal, angry individuals with guns may have little comprehension of what is wrong; they know only that SOMETHING is wrong and SOMEONE has to pay.

    Our techno-culture has neither heroes nor villains. It is a colossal but nebulous nemesis that we at once need and despise. The result is an atmosphere of impotent rage that too often manifests a form of onanistic violence culminating in the slaughter of the innocent. It may be seen as a form of blood sacrifice – or a misguided attempt to balance accounts.

    As Maria, clutching a revolver, said in ‘West Side Story’, “Now I am angry too. Now I hate! Shall I kill you…or you? How many bullets can I fire and still have one for myself?”

  20. K-Dog May 19, 2014 at 10:21 am #

    “As for outrage, I am frankly amazed that the various armed lunatics at large in America are so busy shooting up schools when many more people are actually being harmed, indeed ruined, by the health care “industry” and the banks.”

    Once one reaches the armed lunatic phase rational thought has been put on hold! And because rational thoughts are disconnected it doesn’t really make sense to ask why.

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  21. Hands4u May 19, 2014 at 10:28 am #

    “I will work better… Lets streamline this… theres a problem with our reimbursement rate…”
    There was a time in the mid-eighties where the decision makers- administrators of hopitals (which at the time were Institutions) were doctors, patients that were well off, community banking folk, nurses, lawyers, volunteers, community institutions, and other community benefactors… and suddenly I turned around and our hospital had hired a guy who had his masters degree in Business from Great Britain. “Gee, I bet he knows how to balance a budget… this might be a good way to be able to better “market ourselves to the community”…

    Suddenly we were told to refer to patients as Clients and Customers… patient rights to privacy became treated as “almost as important” as the medical care and treatment they recieved.

    Not that this was all such a bad thing but the “community” was basically set aside and the Client er, I mean patient was isolated from the Community. Your business is our busines and now one else’s business… except at visiting hours you may have 2-3 family members or close family friends in your “shared room” at a time.

    Let’s face it money, wealth and power isolates and elevates.. pulls us out of touch with our community unless we make a conscious effort.

    Living in a metropolitan area of about 2.5- 3 mil can allow me to maintain my anonimity (if I want).

    To live in communities that are size appropriate and possibly the best for personal/family support I suggest looking at the Dunbar number…unfortunately for business and corporations who need and run on the anonimity and isolation of those at the top to benefit those who don’t live in the community. Large Urban populations work best for a Global Capitalist and Fascist Society (though we know what happens when that tries to occur).


    • Janos Skorenzy May 19, 2014 at 1:54 pm #

      Oh global fascist capitalist – but not communist? Try to balance out. Communism was funded by the Banks you know.

  22. Lisa May 19, 2014 at 10:29 am #

    This is my husband’s bill for 1 day stay in the hospital.
    $3,900 was billed and paid separately

    Service(s) From: 03/13/2012 • To: 03/13/2012
    Service Date & Type Amount Billed
    03/13/2012• ELECTROCARDIO. 251.46
    03/13/2012• GENERAL MEDICAL SERVICES 6,885.27
    03/13/2012• LABORATORY 1,329.39
    03/13/2012• LABORATORY 153.96
    03/13/2012• LABORATORY 140.10
    03/13/2012• LABORATORY 11,886.00
    03/13/2012• LABORATORY 10,130.72
    03/13/2012• RECOVERY ROOM 16,294.85
    03/13/2012• SEMI-PRIV./ WARD 4,025.00
    03/13/2012• SUPPLIES 23,284.72
    TOTAL 74,381.47

    • Karah May 19, 2014 at 10:40 am #

      wow, so you paid for the replacement of everything the used plus labor!

      • Lisa May 19, 2014 at 10:54 am #

        The Insurance “negotiated” down to $27,000.00. I only paid a small portion

        • Karah May 19, 2014 at 11:06 am #

          ya, i meant they paid…we paid…people paid…its a pool.

          good for insurance! what company you have ins?

          • Lisa May 19, 2014 at 11:49 am #

            I had CIGNA.

            The CEO of which had 25.8 million gross in 2007 (I don’t have latest info). I have read somewhere that it fell 12 or 13 million later.

      • James Howard Kunstler May 19, 2014 at 11:45 am #

        JHK– No, Blue Shield paid most of it. I ended up paying thousands, though.

        • noel bodie May 19, 2014 at 12:24 pm #

          Good luck with the lawsuit and please keep us informed. Perhaps some of us could sit on your side of the courtroom to show solidarity for our “main man”….JHK’s posse and garden club.

        • Karah May 19, 2014 at 3:41 pm #

          what i failed to understand early in the game is why so many employees fell for hmo vs. traditional indemnity.

          employers/corporations want to control your life. i always thought and think there is a conflict of interest whenever your employer is dictating terms of insurance and retirement.
          sure, there are people in suits negotiating for “our” best interests…supposedly…but according to Cigna:

          no one has the exact same health and budget needs as another.

          this stuff is highly personal and sensitive to fluctuations in rate of pay and circumstances.

          COBRA only covers up 36 months after termination. most people upon retirement can not afford the premiums. they do not care because medicare picks up most of it.

          my monthly health ins cost is going to be at least 200$ in order to have the best coverage. that is a quarter of my paycheck going to the collective pot!

    • Paulo May 19, 2014 at 3:56 pm #


      This is my bill for urgent cancer surgery in BC, Canada (2006)

      for ct scan 2X yearly as well as lab tests (7 years remaining 1X year)

      Follow up with specialst/surgeon after sceduled surveillance tests

      prognosis…excellent, caught at stage 1

      Cost for BC med for an entire family $106/month
      my cost…nothing as it is part of my work coverage

      We do pay more for liquor, fuel, and other products due to higher taxation. However, the benefits of a universal health care plan is…..(you guessed it) priceless.

      Outcomes: (from a cbc story…another dreaded socialist entity)

      The death and disease rates for patients in Canada are the same or lower than those for people with similar diagnoses treated in the United States — even though per capita health-care spending is higher south of the border, a study suggests.

      The findings — from Canadian and U.S. researchers who crunched data from 38 studies — were published in the inaugural edition of Open Medicine. The online medical journal launched Wednesday in the aftermath of a rift last year between some editors and the publisher of the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

      ‘What itshows is that despite an enormous investment in money, we do not see better health outcomes [in the U.S.]’ —Study author Dr. P.J. Devereaux

      “In looking at patients in Canada with a specific diagnosis compared to Americans with the same diagnosis, in Canada patients had at least as good an outcome as their American counterparts— and in many situations, a better health outcome,” said one of the 17 authors, Dr. P.J. Devereaux, a cardiologist and clinical epidemiologist at McMaster University in Hamilton.

      “And that is important because in the United States, they’re currently spending a little over $7,100 per individual on health care annually, whereas in Canada we’re spending a little over $2,900 per individual annually,” he said in a telephone interview from Brantford, Ont.

      The study covered data on patient populations in the United States and Canada from 1955 to 2003. To conduct their meta-analysis, researchers identified almost 5,000 titles and abstracts. Of these, 498 appeared potentially eligible on initial review. Eventually, 38 studies were deemed to be eligible.

      “Overall, Canada did better, and in fact we found a statistically significant five per cent mortality advantage [of survival] to people with diagnoses in Canada compared to their counterparts in the United States,” Devereaux said.

      • ozone May 19, 2014 at 5:48 pm #

        Go ahead; throw the results from an actual civilized country in our exceptional and indispensable faces! 😉
        — This is what happens when people are put before profits… ooooo… the chilling horror of socialism! (brrrr)

      • BackRowHeckler May 19, 2014 at 7:23 pm #

        So Paulo, everything is free? The doctors and nurses don’t get paid, the janitor at the hospital works for free, electricity is free, heat is free, everything is free? The whole goddam shebang dont cost nobody nothing. thats where I want to live yessir!!


  23. BackRowHeckler May 19, 2014 at 10:33 am #

    Big Government, law enforcement, Corporations and too big to fail banks … I just try to avoid them. Its a big country and as American Citizens we still presumably have the protections offered by the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Do we have the right to be left alone?

    Read the other day the US spends $100 billion a year maintaining prisons and jails. Not quite as much as handed over to AIG insurance company in 2009 ($192 billion) but still quite a tidy sum.


  24. oldnurse May 19, 2014 at 10:35 am #

    A few stories:

    35 years ago when my dad was the chief of staff of his hospital, he and others met with the new business owners of their hospital. After the all day meeting, he came home and told my mother, sadly, that in all those hours, “They never once said the word ‘patient’.” He saw what was coming.

    I broke my nose two weeks ago and saw the surgeon a few days later. She is around 45-50 years old. She told me that the residents and fellows in the hospital will call her to review a case. They’ll tell her about the patient’s labs, their scans, etc. When she asks them about their examination of the patient, they tell her that they haven’t seen the patient yet! She tells them to go and SEE the patient and then call her back. Her comment to me was woe to those of us older folks who are going to be cared for my these young doctors!

    And 15 years ago when my mother, a nurse, aged 72, had her only admission to a hospital [except for giving birth], she remained in the hospital for two weeks after major surgery. Day after day, she was astonished by what she experienced and she summed it up as “Nobody wants to touch you anymore!”

    I still have enormous admiration for wonderful doctors and nurses, and there are many, and such sadness for what we have lost and continue to lose.

  25. K-Dog May 19, 2014 at 10:35 am #

    With the brain on hold and rational thought disconnected lunatics become copycats. If a first lunatic had started with a hospital instead of a schools they would all be copying that model.

    Seriously we saw the same pattern with planes being hijacked to Cuba years ago and we saw the same pattern with mail employees going ‘postal’. Lunatics have few original thoughts and have more trouble than average correctly perceiving reality (like that is possible>). Since the brain of the Lunatic always waits for the next available operator the lunatic does things that don’t make logical sense.

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  26. Petro May 19, 2014 at 10:45 am #

    Even if you DO get actual humans on the phone, the results may very well be just as unsatisfying. I spent 6 months trying to straighten out a MA state income tax error (their’s). After a brief electronic menu, a real person answered, addressed the issue, gave me information or something to provide to them—which I did—and then NOTHING HAPPENED except for me to continue to get ominous computer-generated letters threatening a collection agency. It took five different people until I found one who straightened things out and the matter resolved.

    There is an astonishing level of incompetence and apathy out there. A lot of people, like the machines, just don’t give a shit.

    • Karah May 19, 2014 at 11:32 am #


  27. misterbadexample May 19, 2014 at 10:55 am #

    The automated phone system was originally thought to be a feature in the IT world–if your support staff worked banker hours, your customers would rather speak to the phone tree than wait til Monday. I also saved money. It migrated everywhere else pretty quickly. The reason hospitals are using these systems now is they’ve had to put more staff (and more experienced staff) into navigating the billing BS of insurance companies. It’s in the hospital’s interest to get insurance to pay your bills because once it’s up to you, people go broke or refuse to pay, which means the hospital takes five cents on the dollar after referring to a collection agency.

    And insurance co’s don’t want to pay. A friend once told me about all the hoops physical therapists need to jump through to get payment approvals for pediatric rehab–don’t code just right, and don’t list order correctly, and all treatment costs dumped on patient’s family. Insurance for my employer got so expensive they had to throw big deductibles at staff (the firm was willing to cover some of the deductible through other means). Because I’m ‘insured’ by them, I get to see the Dr’s billing rate and the ‘deducted’ rate I get to pay (lucky ME), which is usually about half. But that just kicks the can down the road on the deductible.

    BTW, I’m sure the move to the ‘improved’ hip replacement was facilitated by the medical device companies assuring the insurers that such surgeries would be one-time only (as opposed to once every eight to ten years with the ‘old’ polymer joint).

    I’m totally flummoxed at why nobody has walked into an insurance company general office with an explosives belt on.

  28. contrahend May 19, 2014 at 11:01 am #

    Somehow we have to reverse the perverse incentives of organizational structure to reward honest human relationship interactions. Probably won’t happen until the present system collapses due to overcomplexity. Is it to difficult to understand that we benefit when we make the effort to help someone else.

    We do. It’s all the ‘sharing’ businesses out there growing by the proverbial leaps and bounds – airbnb, taskrabbit et al.

    They are so insanely successful precisely because people lover personal interaction and attention. People helping people is making gobs of profits for lots of people.

    That also explains the success of craigslist, it’s so personal in many cases.

    So don’t overfret. There’s massive movement back to one-on-one and one-on-few interaction countering all the faceless corporate shyte out there.

    Now, we somehow need to extend this to healthcare and finance.


    • Janos Skorenzy May 19, 2014 at 1:59 pm #

      Yes we need the barefoot physician here in Amerika, armed with his acupuncture needles and rusty razor. They performed miracles in Red China. The ones who died were just those who were going to die anyway.

  29. contrahend May 19, 2014 at 11:04 am #

    My ER bill for 4 hours, of which 3.5 were lying in a curtained half-room, and 20 minutes was spent on a CAT machine: $13,500.

    Outcome – bill torn up with a laugh.

    Still, pales in comparison to $74,000 for one DAY.

    Them’s fightin’ words.


    • Lisa May 19, 2014 at 11:52 am #

      I still keep the bill as a souvenir

  30. dweebus May 19, 2014 at 11:04 am #

    It seems self evident that the US economy became auto-parasitic, probably in the 80s, when the first big waves of outsourcing, consolidation, and technological innovation (replacing humans with robots) really took off.

    We in the Machinist’s Union call the now ubiquitous airport check-in kiosk, an ARD (agent replacement device). Of course, you still need a live human to actually affix the bag tag to the luggage, and move the luggage to the conveyor. However, in most locations, that “service” is now provided by a “vendor” who is part-time, and paid min. wage, or barely above. End result: You have one harried agent overseeing four kiosks, checking id’s and assisting the elderly or other techno-illiterates. Should their be a genuine complaint, or issue, they have neither the time or patience to address it properly. (This doesn’t even address the poverty this generates amongst the workers)

    Add to this the fact that the Company now actively reviews all waivers to ensure that they were issued “within policy guidelines”, and the ability to “cut a guy a break” has been eliminated. So your bag is 52 lbs. and you can’t fit the excess in a carryon, Sorry Charlie! That’s $100.00 please.

    The weird thing is that people don’t really complain all that much. They march up to the kiosks like good little sheeple, whilst the Very Important Businessmen hustle through security with their boarding pass on a smart phone. It is now possible to pass though an airport without actually speaking to a fellow human being. We seem to like it thataways.

    Why don’t we resist?

    “…and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.” -The Declaration of Independence

    We have not yet hit the inflection point where pain of over-complexity and collapse is spread widely enough to cause the lid to blow off the pressure cooker. The evils are still sufferable for most folk.

    As to misplaced violence:

    “Of all the passions that motivate human beings, deprivation is the most powerful. Mix it with ignorance and hunger, and you get spontaneous combustion. In our modern world, it is the root of terrorism, civil war, and holocaust. Deprive a human being of what he thinks is rightfully his-be it food, safety, or even a concept as abstract as justice-and he will respond passionately, violently, and most often, irrationally.” -W. Michael and Kathleen O’Neal Gear (intro- “People of the Moon”)

    So far these deprivations seem to be confined to socially isolated, mentally unbalanced, individuals and disenfranchised enclaves of poverty (i.e.- Camden, Pine Ridge). When deprivation becomes more wide-spread, well all bets are off. I cannot foresee that the residents of the “Zombieland” of the lower Midwest and the South (or the nation at large) properly diagnose the root causes of our predicaments, and voluntarily re-localize. A paroxysm of domestic violence and international war seems more likely.



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    • Janos Skorenzy May 19, 2014 at 2:05 pm #

      You’re right: they can’t figure it out. The only salvation is if a great leader arises to guide them. The bad people know that’s bad for them so they throw around sneer words like Fascist. The petty bourgeoisie didn’t even bother voting last time since Romney was obviously a shill. And the lumpen proletariat (who shouldn’t have the right to vote) voted for the colored guy who gave them Obama bucks and phones.

      • dweebus May 19, 2014 at 4:01 pm #

        “The only salvation is if a great leader arises to guide them.”

        Really? That is just buying into a messianic fantasy. There are no politically viable solutions, for a leader, no matter how great, to implement. In a contraction, there can only be sacrifice, hence deprivation, hence strife. The die is cast. What will happen, will happen.

        The reason us bad people on the left throw around sneer words like Fascist, is because they are fitting. We have achieved a merger of the corporation and the state. Although it is decidedly soft-core, for the moment.


        • Janos Skorenzy May 20, 2014 at 1:54 am #

          Wrong. We have a Plutocracy where the Corporations and Banks control the Government. Fascism is the opposite. You don’t know what you’re talking about. And the Left is just the opposite side of the coin of Capitalism, the tails side since it was funded by the Bankers to destroy the Aristocracies, the Fascist States, and now the Democracies.

      • dweebus May 19, 2014 at 4:26 pm #

        BTW, I am not much into “leaders”, great or otherwise. In my experience, they tend towards sociopathy.

        • Janos Skorenzy May 20, 2014 at 1:56 am #

          So just small and local? It’s a good start, the basic building block, but if we stop there we’ll be conquered by Nations that are more centralized. We need a balance.

    • ozone May 20, 2014 at 8:58 am #

      Alas, it would appear that someone is attempting to bait you into a circular and self-referential argument, with the goal of diverting focus from your realistic points and into a ideological fantasy world of discredited “ideas”. (But, I’m sure you figured that out already.)

  31. MDG May 19, 2014 at 11:06 am #

    I’m don’t have any theories to explain why this all happened, but I have gloomy predictions that I’m positive will come true. Today’s younger generation, the ones who have only know voicemail all their lives, see nothing odd about having their business calls answered by a computer system. Eventually, those of us who know better will die off, and there will be no one left to complain.

    The same is happening with check-out counters at the store. More and more stores are using self check-out (such as the CVS near) me, where you scan and bag your own items. Ridiculously enough, former cashiers now stand nearby to help you if the self check-out equipment screws up. I’ve asked them how they feel about their job, and they all hate it. They’d much rather be behind a register doing something rather than standing around bored and telling customers “thank you!” as they leave, self checked-out goods in hand.

    Once again, a younger generation who grows up knowing only this accepts it all as normal, and the rest of us will die off, probably still complaining about it. And then, it will be the norm.

    This will happen, as surely as having to pump your own gas is now the norm (and they didn’t even wait for the rest of us to die off).

    • Janos Skorenzy May 19, 2014 at 2:10 pm #

      Robots can do that greeter work better anyway. We need laws like Oregon which protect useless labor like pumping gas. I’m serious: the alternative is people starving to death. I’d rather do nothing in comfort but one does what one must.

      In the old East Germany, there was no freedom of speech, but one wouldn’t die under a bridge. In the old West Germany, there was freedom of speech, but one could end up under the bridge. In the new unified Germany, there is no freedom of speech and one can die under a bridge. We are headed for the worst of all possible worlds, with our freedoms cleverly used against us by the combined Capitalist/Communist system. They were always the same at the highest levels, now that is becoming the outer social reality.

  32. contrahend May 19, 2014 at 11:16 am #

    More and more stores are using self check-out (such as the CVS near) me, where you scan and bag your own items.

    What? I’d much rather check myself out, it’s much faster and more convenient. It ain’t all bad. I can still talk to other humans lots, even though there’s machine interaction.

    I had a great group of folks from the world over I used to get together with nightly on Skypecasts a few years back. It was marvellous sharing thoughts with them, all made possible by technology.


  33. nsa May 19, 2014 at 11:21 am #

    “We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false” William Casey, CIA Director (1981). Too bad he contracted a brain tumor the night before testifying……..

    • Being There May 19, 2014 at 11:35 am #

      We affectionately called Casey and Reagan the organic twins.

    • K-Dog May 19, 2014 at 11:39 am #

      “If the American people knew what we have done, they would string us up from the lamp posts.” George H. W. Bush

  34. sevenmmm May 19, 2014 at 12:12 pm #

    Corporate gods they are! The takers of heaven and earth! Since they seek to profit from using up what was built up over the eons, they now destroy what has been built in an instant of time. Guess this fits into most religious idealism of devils. The great destroyers! The devils have incorporated!

  35. Htruth May 19, 2014 at 12:23 pm #

    While America sleeps the Military Industrial Educational Medical Bankster Complex continues to plunder: http://youtu.be/-qnh6D4vIrc

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  36. Crue May 19, 2014 at 12:24 pm #

    Jim, you discovered what my parents found out a long time ago. There are no uniform rules as to how medical records are maintained, or how an individual can go about retrieving their own medical records. If a doctor dies, or shuts down his practice…a clinic/HOSPITAL closes, the medical records can be lost for good, it happened to my parents. Of course we can’t have any national rules or regs governing things like medical records because, “OMG! SOCIALISM!! BENGHAZI! OBAMA! BENGHAZI!!!!”

    • Florida Power May 19, 2014 at 1:32 pm #

      Re Crue: This board has been blessedly free of Repubs versus Demos lately. I suspect most here have come to the conclusion that the memes of partisanship are a diversion. If you wish to lure Repubs into confrontation there are lots of sites out there where you may bait like a master.

      As for medical records why on earth are patients not allowed access to these? They have no trouble presenting us with charges. Do we really need some rule-setting governmental entity to do this for us? I once purloined an x-ray of my foot and the office went nuts saying hey — you can’t do that! I told ’em it’s my foot. That was that, They got over it and went onto some other poor fool.

      The slavishness we demonstrate when genuflecting before the Medical Gods and Archangels is akin to submitting to the TSA security theater.

    • Janos Skorenzy May 19, 2014 at 2:14 pm #

      Not to be afraid of Communism is insane. Read about what all powerful government did in the Soviet Union and China, little one.

  37. rka May 19, 2014 at 12:48 pm #

    JHK said:
    “Our problem in the USA is not “capitalism,” it’s racketeering. Why we fail to comprehend it is one of the abiding mysteries of contemporary life.”
    Aren’t they one in the same thing? The magic of supply and demand is illusion. If there ever was any magic to be extracted it has been co-opted for monetary gain; capital controls BOTH supply and demand and the health industry is a perfect example of how the extraction process works.
    By the way: a “medical provider” I regularly see was recently acquired by a larger supplier of medical magic. As a result, I am no longer referred to as a “patient,” except as a billing address on the statement. Instead, “services” that I “consume” are referred to as an “encounter.” At least there is no ambiguity about where I stand in this process.

    • Hands4u May 19, 2014 at 12:54 pm #

      I’m sorry but when you said “encounter” I thought of the alien’s in the “Encounter’s of the Third Kind”!

    • Janos Skorenzy May 19, 2014 at 2:19 pm #

      Exactly. The Communists savaged small farms and businesses as if they were the Racketeers. How convenient for the Racketeers doing business with the Communists, eh?

      Psychologically you have a point I must admit. The average small businessman doesn’t have a “Small is Beautiful” mentality. He would like nothing better than to become one of the Global Players. But you folks come to the wrong conclusion. The point is not to crush the small people because they aren’t perfect. It’s to keep the big players in line – or to crush them and/or drive them out if they are incorrigible.

      • Florida Power May 20, 2014 at 9:56 am #

        Karl Denninger rails almost daily against the plutocratic machine, complaining that the Clayton and Sherman anti-trust acts are not being enforced. When was the last effort…. ATT? it seems so long ago.

  38. rollon May 19, 2014 at 12:53 pm #

    Good luck with the lawsuit. A relook at ‘The Verdict’ starring Paul Newman shows that corruption isn’t new. Kunstler hammers away in his commentary about the state of affairs in America, and he is one of the few who addresses the bankrupt psychology of it all. How indeed did it come to this. There are many reasons. Even given that corruption, sloth, chicanery has been around since man jumped out of the trees, it boggles the mind, at age 50 plus, how in just the past 25 years things in the U.S. have gotten so bad. Dishonesty and thievery is now systemic and institutionalized, considered an ‘honest’ way to make a living. Much thanks for this goes to the PR selling that greed is good, that shortcuts to wealth is the answer. Millions grabbed onto the advertisement and ran with it. The other great reason for the massive decline is ‘organizations’. Millions upon millions are incubated in, read public schools, and graduate to greater organizations, corporates, government, to live out their lives has zombified most of the ‘citizens’ in what used to be, albeit 90 years since, a nation of individual laborers. Organizations provide a hideout against responsibility, accountability. It is in many ways a cowards haven. The construct of the present society can only go on until the last kitchen sink is pried out from the counter. Not all like to be taken, and one of the few defenses is to limit ones involvement with the system of snakes, drones and clones.

  39. SLD May 19, 2014 at 1:21 pm #

    Hey Jim, I hope if you are bringing a lawsuit against the manufacturer of your hip implant you have found a lawyer you can trust. Don’t use the yellow pages for a reference; and those with the biggest billboards aren’t necessarily the best lawyers. Get a personal recommendation from someone you trust. I haven’t seen any raves about lawyers in your blog yet, but I predict that you will find a whole new world of racketeering going on in the lawsuit business. I say this as a lawyer with 20 years experience trying to get out of the lawyering business.

    As far as collecting your medical records, don’t even bother calling on the phone, or they will surely peg you as an amateur. Use your bills to determine who you need to collect records from (you will have no idea how many different outfits had a hand in your medical care until you get your bill–radiologists, pathologists, therapists etc.). Then look up the applicable law in your state and get information on how to request your records in writing. Be prepared for a lot of run-arounds like the common ploy of being ignored because you didn’t pre-pay the cost of copying and postage in advance, which of course, is because they will not tell you in advance how much to send. Expect the legal time-limit for processing your request for records to be ignored, and to receive copies that are illegible, blank, incomplete, useless (you will get to pay for copies of their privacy policy or your insurance card you provided them) or even someone else’s. I don’t know why collecting records is such a chore but expect the persons processing these requests are unappreciated, underpaid and uncaring employees that have no reason to have pride in a job well-done, stuck in a job that doesn’t create anything or require any creativity. Why would they have a reason to care?

    So one tip, if you ever do get through the phone tree and get to talk to a real live human being, be nice, be kind, find out that person’s name, and if you are friendly and make that person your friend, he (but more likely she) might actually help you. Ask the right questions: Do I need to pay in advance for records or will you bill me? To what address do I need to send my request? Do you have a specific form you need me to fill out or will just the standard medical authorization do?

    Finally, when you get the records, DON’T ASSUME THEY ARE COMPLETE. They rarely are. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone tell me, “Well I sent you what I thought you wanted did you also want X, Y & Z?” Check back after you get them and ask if there is anything else.


  40. contrahend May 19, 2014 at 1:39 pm #

    Sounds like lots of folks here need to restructure their lives to be involved more in local commerce and exchange. How many of you are willing to shut off your tv`s in favor of personal encounter? I doubt many of you are.

    I know a lot of people who are making products at home for sale online, offering lessons, meeting with likeminded folks at farmers markets etc.


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    • Janos Skorenzy May 19, 2014 at 2:22 pm #

      There is a plan afoot to put an end to such “farmer’s markets”. It’s called Agenda 21. I doubt if many care to google it and find out about this threat to our freedom.

  41. LewisLucanBooks May 19, 2014 at 2:26 pm #

    Back when I worked in Library-Land as a clerical (not a licensed librarian 🙂 ) , I’ll never forget the day our building head came back from a meeting singing the praises of our “new direction.” Self checkout and self pick up of holds from open shelves. “Self” being our now “customers” instead of the more
    traditional “library patron.” This was supposed to give us (the clericals) more time to deal directly with the patrons.

    Of course, there were unintended side effects. As far as the self pickup of holds went, it apparently never occurred to the “powers that be” that our patrons would steal from each other. The hot new releases. And, patron confidentiality, which had been drilled into us for years went right out the window. Feel free to find out what your friends, relatives and neighbors are reading. As far as the self checkout went, often, books would not actually get checked out. “Oh, well, ” said the Powers That Be. “They’ll eventually come back.”

    A couple of other things I learned in Library-Land. The less contact a senior clerical or librarian has with the public, the more status they have. Also, there’s actually a name for all this shifting of tasks onto the Patrons. It’s called “disintermediation”. Bureaucratic speak for “taking out the middle man.”

    Someone very stupid once made a comment that made a lot of sense (I’m sure she stole it from someone else.) “Computers don’t make less work, they just make different kinds of work.”

    I do my main banking at a credit union. I have one last credit card with one of the Too Big to Fail banks in town. That I am rapidly paying off. It was getting a little close to the payment date so I decided to stop by the bank and pay it in person, rather than mailing it. I hadn’t been by the bank in 3 years, or so. Much to my surprise, the drive through was gone. Fine, I thought. I’ll just drop it through the slot in the night deposit. It was gone, too. So, inside I went. The usual 8 tellers had been reduced to two. The lines were very long. I looked around and couldn’t help but think, “They really don’t want us here. They really don’t want to deal with all us little people, at all.”

    • BackRowHeckler May 19, 2014 at 2:37 pm #


      Nice to hear from you once again.

      Its been awhile.


    • Janos Skorenzy May 19, 2014 at 2:49 pm #

      Hi Lucan. Your hatred is still red hot for Librarians, that female poster, me I assume, etc. You’re a good hater! None of that means you’re wrong in your basic thinking though – just your emotional reactions to these. Two different things. It’s when you let your hate do the thinking that you go wrong.

      I went to the B of A the other day and had a frightening experience. The teller was no longer human but an actual mental robot. I mean completely. I couldn’t find anything human at all. Hopefully for her sake that’s just a mask she dons to get through the day. I’m not so sure though. Some people are conquered completely by the system and enjoy being embodiments of it apparently.

  42. Janos Skorenzy May 19, 2014 at 2:41 pm #

    Also the longer Government health care takes, the less it has to pay since the erstwhile patients will die in the meantime. This technique was used on veterans – a sign of things to come.

  43. MisterDarling May 19, 2014 at 3:16 pm #

    “As for outrage, I am frankly amazed that the various armed lunatics at large in America are so busy shooting up schools when many more people are actually being harmed, indeed ruined, by the health care “industry” and the banks.

    If you have a theory about all this, please offer it up in the Comments department.” – J H K.

    Mark Ames wrote a useful book about this very thing called _Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion: From Reagan’s Workplaces to Clinton’s Columbine and Beyond_.

    He structured the arc of his exploration well and coms up with a workable underlying theory about how & why these things happen, under what conditions and to some extent who is likely to pop into bug-f*ck overdrive…


  44. Karah May 19, 2014 at 3:52 pm #

    of course healthcare includes psychiatry…

    the amount of pills you can get through that branch of “science” is astronomical and rife with kickbacks.

    mental institutions are very expensive along with any long term care facility. lets face it, most elderly are suffering from senile dementia, otherwise they would be perfectly able to stay independent at home.

    therefore the institution has been dissolving and the work put upon the families and private caregivers. we see how this doesn’t work in most cases of schizophrenia.

    its interesting how the nordic countries lead the headspace race. maybe because the sun did not show all the time and the have a good social med system.

  45. VyseLegendaire May 19, 2014 at 4:17 pm #

    “As for outrage, I am frankly amazed that the various armed lunatics at large in America are so busy shooting up schools when many more people are actually being harmed, indeed ruined, by the health care “industry” and the banks.”

    Very true.

    I urge everyone here to read ‘Death by Medicine’ which factually proves that the leading cause of death in this country is medicine, or iatrogenesis.


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  46. Georges1202 May 19, 2014 at 4:26 pm #

    In San Francisco, a city that prides itself on being ‘smart’ (be careful of that nonsense word) and with-it, you see coffee shop after coffee shop filled with Zombies staring at laptops. Not a hint of any interaction. The idea being it is better to be alone in public than in one’s own space?

    This is apparently what we want now – a nation with its collective fundament you-know-where. The idea that this nation will one day put away the gadgets for 5 minutes and get riled up about what is happening to us utterly absurd. We asked for control and passivity and now we have it. Yay!

    • K-Dog May 19, 2014 at 5:00 pm #

      And consider, every single one of them thinks everything in the world is all about them. Because what else could the lack of interaction mean except that everyone is lost in their own private universe?

    • MisterDarling May 19, 2014 at 8:47 pm #

      “Smart” is a new rival to “Sustainable” in sensibly-‘progressive’ conversational folderol.

      Over at CounterPunch they had a lot of fun with the (mis)uses of that word, the nadir of which was the reigning POTUS using “sustainable” in the context of drone-warfare. [*]

      [*] It joined a number of other words and sure-as-hell verbal telltales in their collaborative publication “Guillotined”.

  47. JRM May 19, 2014 at 4:30 pm #

    “Our problem in the USA is not “capitalism,” it’s racketeering. Why we fail to comprehend it is one of the abiding mysteries of contemporary life.”

    He got that right!

    But what exactly is racketeering?

    http://www.dictionary.com defines a racketeer as “a person engaged in a racket,” so you’ve got to know what a racket is to know who is a racketeer.

    3. an organized illegal activity, such as bootlegging or the extortion of money from legitimate business people by threat or violence.

    4. a dishonest scheme, trick, business, activity, etc.: the latest weight-reducing racket.

    The vastly scaled racketeering Kunstler is pointing out belongs to item 4, mostly — and unfortunately. Racketeers of this (4) sort have managed over the decades and centuries to position themselves to “influence” the political machinery, media, schools, “education,” etc., to such an extent that most racketeering is quite legal — which is to say that government and politics are in on it — and often “on the take,” as racketeers call it.

    Part of the game of the racketeers is to try to get as many of “us” (“we the people”) to believe we can alter the situation via the very same political machinery which has been overtaken by the racketeers. This is known by various names, such as “shell game” ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shell_game ), sleight of hand, also known as prestidigitation (“quick fingers”) or legerdemain — “too much magic,” and “bait-and-switch” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bait-and-switch .

    But those who are able to see the sneaky hands of master fraudsters on such a mass scale are observant enough to know that cultivating public cynicism of a certain kind is part of how the scam works. So be very careful and observant! Don’t fall for cynicism. It’s the favorite game in their town.

    Nothing strips us of our power so utterly than our conviction that we’re powerless. (See: “self-fulfilling prophesy)



  48. K-Dog May 19, 2014 at 4:50 pm #

    It could only happen in a profoundly corrupt, dishonest, and degenerate society where companies being able to evade responsibility for their actions has become the be all and and all of life. One could say, a society where anything goes and nothing matters. It is a hell, a hell of bureaucracy, of isolation and loneliness, marked by a lack of concern for others. A world where narcissistic self interests dominates all activity. It is the hell of a world without a tomorrow as anyone spending hours caught in an automated call-handling wasteland of banal irrelevant choices knows all too well.

    We live in a techno-narcissistic dream that is killing the future of life and making the life we have now meaningless. But narcissistic ‘Nightmare’ is a more appropriate description. It is a nightmare of a world without a future answers or meaning. A strange and irrationally confusing place. Not unlike the alienating world of Josef K in Orson Well’s movie ‘the Trial’. A Kafkaesque world which suddenly one day had no place for him.

    And again, why schools? Because armed lunatics are compelled to live out a script that they never wrote, they never make statements of any kind except to document themselves as failed souls hopelessly mired in mommy and daddy issues. Souls living life on autopilot like actors reading from a script. Lives without meaning. The walking dead.

    • K-Dog May 19, 2014 at 4:52 pm #

      the be all and end all of life.

  49. MisterDarling May 19, 2014 at 5:26 pm #

    Speaking of candidate venues for another mass-cas’ incident ;]


    … more Big-Box DeathClock.

    Also underscores a fave J H K theme.


  50. bob May 19, 2014 at 5:41 pm #

    Where there are profits the cleverest will devise a racket to maximize said profits. Why should health care be spared? The new hospitals are designed so that the patient interacts with as few humans as technologically feasible.thereby maximizing profit.Health care is one of the interacting parts of the bigger racket comprising banking education law religion overseen by the power of the corporate state.

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  51. JL Eagan May 19, 2014 at 6:25 pm #

    I have a still unresolved problem that fits the theme of the day here. JHK might recall that I had mentioned this to him a while back, mentioning it to him because I thought it related to the very thing he wrote about in today’s installment.

    The problem raised its head way back in January, still unresolved, and I haven’t even tried (again) to get it sorted out, because I reached a point where I thought “life’s too short”, and worked around it.

    The problem is with a very large business entity (AT&T), involving a malfunctioning email account.

    I put it aside and gave up after enough separate phone calls that I lost count of how many calls I had made, and how many people I talked to (more than the number of calls).

    Skipping the full complicated story; it was clearly a malfunction in their system, which is clearly obvious when the specifics are recounted, which I did to all the various people I talked to, and simple logic is applied.

    Despite all that, at the point I put this aside, still unresolved, I estimated that, by that point, I had spent somewhere between 3 and 4 hours on the phone on this.

    At that point, it was not just that the problem was still not fixed.

    It was that, after all this, I had still not managed to get any one of all the people I had talked to, including more than one “customer service” supervisor, and more than more supposed qualified technician (which is a joke, a subtopic of its own here), to even COMPREHEND the nature of the problem, or even recognize and acknowledge what I made as clear as humanly possible, running through the facts and logic myself, doing the thinking for them, that it was, in fact, clearly a problem in their system. I could not even get things to a point where some technically qualified and competent human, whose job is to manage the system involved, would have the problem passed to them, and begin sorting it out.

    The details of the useless chatter I heard from this parade of fools is a whole epic of its own. I don’t know how many times I heard “I’m sorry you’re having a problem and apologize for the inconvenience it has caused you” or something like that.

    After hearing some things enough times it’s obvious it’s scripted, and much of whatever “training” or “procedures” they have revolves around avoidance, and meaningless platitudes. (“We care about you as a valued customer”… “thank you for choosing…)

    So, what do I think about possible hypotheses on this stuff? I have a few ideas.

    1. Make people jump through enough automated menu hell (complete with voice-recognition systems and idiotic fake-human-interaction recorded phrase robo-responses) that they give up… and you won’t have to deal with the problem.

    2. When a human does get into the picture… only have random primates with no competence to actually sort out and solve a problem, as low-pay as possible. “Cost reductions” there! Load them up with scripted bullshit made to be perceived as “helpful”, while being no help, with empty happy ‘we care a lot” bullshit.

    Then hope that one way or another, people will be convinced their problem has been dealt with (even when it hasn’t), or just give up… and you won’t have to solve the problem.

    3. If some “consumer” actually persists (right here!), keep shuffling them through multiple equally useless human-like creatures, who are not actually any more competent at getting the problem solved, but, it seems, are apparently supposed to be more advanced in the ways of getting people to a state of believing they’re satisfied (when they aren’t), or at least “oh, well, they did all they can, this just can’t be solved!” (when they haven’t even tried), or just say “fuck it, I give up”.

    … and then you won’t have to solve the problem.


    • Karah May 21, 2014 at 1:22 am #

      yes. most automation is designed to eliminate humans which are the source of all problems. phone trees are not designed to make business easier for the buyer, only the seller who has somehow anticipated what everyone is really calling about; option a, b or c.
      if there is no option for you then you must not be important, just some crank. therefore you will not wait five minutes with the canned music playing.

      there is a paradox when everyone is important enough to have a 500$ pda phone. none of us are that special where we need to have 100 people at our beck and call. a doc is special. i do not see many docs with cell phones.

  52. Karah May 19, 2014 at 6:26 pm #

    i can understand why most people would only spend tenth of their income to a god and pray for good health and free healthcare!

    • Post Peak Medicine May 20, 2014 at 1:28 pm #

      Good post Jim. I have to confess that I am one of those guilty parties: an unreachable family physician who hides behind a robotic phone tree. I understand how annoying this is and I have been trying to do something about this for a few years without success. I don’t know whether our phone tree actually says “Your call is important to us” because I haven’t listened to it for a while, but I’m sure that’s the gist of it. I would much prefer it if a live person answered the phone, but I haven’t been able to make that happen. Here is the view from downstream of the phone tree:

      I have a phone on my desk and so does my receptionist, so in theory, either of us could pick up the phone when it rings. In practice, if I’m in the middle of a consultation with a patient, or I have my finger stuck up someone’s bum, I can’t answer the phone, so it’s really her job to do it. She finds it hard to do because of the competing demands of patients showing up in person at the reception desk, the bowl of Cheez Doodles in the reception area, and the fax machine.

      Our fax machine is a magnificent example of 21st century technology. It does everything. It’s the sort of fax machine the Egyptian Pharaohs or the Roman Emperors would have had if they could. It faxes, scans and copies, it has a built in fax directory, it can receive and send faxes at the same time, it can stack up outgoing and incoming faxes in its memory and it can tell you when a fax didn’t go through. It’s an all singing, all dancing fax machine (ASADFM). The problem is, it takes up a lot of people time attending to it. Faxes have to be put in and got out, incoming faxes have to be scanned into our paperless document storage system and then shredded, outgoing faxes which didn’t go through have to be re-sent, and so on. This all takes a lot of time, which takes her away from the phone and the (less important) live people.

      So the answer would be to have one person on phone duty for the whole office while all the other receptionists fax, scan and do their other receptionist stuff. Unfortunately this would mean reorganizing the office. I work in an office with seven other physicians, none of them are keen on the idea, and I can’t do it on my own.

      So why can’t I set up an office on my own and organize my reception staff the way I would like? Unfortunately, the ASADFM is once again an impediment to this. In order to survive in today’s highly complex medical industry, with an enormous volume of information flowing in and out every day, you need equipment like the ASADFM and other devices, which are very expensive and only practical to run in a group setting where the cost is shared. This is probably one of the unintended consequences of complexity, which Joseph Tainter is so fond of talking about.

      So although I can see the problems with the phone tree, I feel that I am kind of stuck in the matrix and unable to do much apart from go with the flow. Please accept my apologies. Your call really is important to us.

      • MisterDarling May 22, 2014 at 6:28 pm #

        “It’s an all singing, all dancing fax machine (ASADFM).”

        I generally approve of _Fight Club_ references and/or allusions.

        Interesting tone. Interesting post.

      • Karah May 22, 2014 at 10:19 pm #

        the history of the telephone is more of a social aid because of the blind. it facilitates business by killing descrimination based on physical attributes and location. it levels the playing field because anyone could have one if they, like the doctors, are part of a collective demand or at a phone booth. we assume doctors and receptionists are working when we get a phone tree; it’s a requirement of a successful businesl or person. it would be the odd thing to have someone dedicated to answering the phone when a business is also competing for your money with lower overhead costs. receptionists are very expensive and require a unique skill set that is not taught in schools. (we used to have “finishing schools” that dealt with etiquette and common business practices for female dominated jobs) dealing with people in an efficient and courteous way can be a challenge in stressful industries like healthcare. most people don’t know how to communicate their health concerns when it is not an emergency. all they know is that something is not normal, is very personal and embarrassing to talk about with just anyone and may lead to an expensive procedure they can not afford. look at the current organizational structure as a way to siphon people into catagories of importance:

        attention seekers/hyperchondriacs
        preventative care check ups/yearly physicals
        doctor’s notes for employers/schools
        priscription refills
        day surgery/in office procedures

        and then you have the administrative stuff having to do with training, billing, insurance and gov’t regulations.

        family doc never mentioned whether or not he hired nurses to send faxes and handle the windows. usually, they’re interviewing and determining whether the client is worth the docs valuable time and offering themselves as legal witness to whatever goes down behind the window.

  53. laceration May 19, 2014 at 6:46 pm #

    When a big corp tells you something like “Your call is important to us” I immediately turn it to its opposite to get at its meaning–works for advertising too. The most likely way to actually speak with real person, probably a worker in a call center in the Philippines, is a failsafe option for them to collect your money.

    The outcome of capitalism is racketeering. As Players in the market seek an advantage monopoly and racketeering are the natural consequence. The idea of a free or even a fair market is a fantasy just like the alternative idea that human beings can rationally and intelligently run planned economies.

    As for the outrage, or lack thereof, it has something to do with the same disease. Individuals all have phones with them 24/7, but are less likely to answer calls. Total connectivity adds up to less connections. If we are not connected, we cannot express outrage. Outrage can only be expressed in numbers, either many or 1 and a lot of bullets.

    • BackRowHeckler May 19, 2014 at 7:47 pm #

      “The outcome of capitalism is racketeering”

      what’s the outcome of capitalism’s alternatives, fascism and communism? Treblinka, Auschwitz, Kolyma, Babi Yar, Magadan, mass murder and human exploitation on a scale that is beyond belief, even now when all the facts are in.

      I don’t think we have it that bad here. Peak oil for me doesn’t translate into hating the US or our economic and political system. I just grilled up a few steaks, downed a few cold ones, in short a happy camper right now.



      • MisterDarling May 19, 2014 at 9:04 pm #

        I’m pretty sure that The Long Emergency is not what any of us expects or wishes it to be.

        I’m a J H K fan, but I’ve also spent an inordinate amount of time in 3rd world nations, half of the time living off the local economy. These ‘developing’ nations are the hinterlandian fringe of global financial empire.

        Collapse is not neat. Infrastructure breaks down unevenly, and newer energy generating technology is implemented in fragments. It’s surprising what is/is not possible.

        In Afghanistan you might have to literally kill someone to get the daughter that just got cut almost in half by a 30-year old combine in front of a real doctor, but you can buy bootleg copies of first-run still-in-American-theaters movies for $2 in the market place (smelling like donkey).

        Creation wasn’t perfect. Why should Destruction be?


      • aaron_espro May 19, 2014 at 11:16 pm #

        This is probably the most common error I see online these days. It’s called a fallacy of relative privation.

        Just because we don’t have genocide means we stop trying to make progress?

        • MisterDarling May 22, 2014 at 6:30 pm #

          Define “progress”… Is that __Progress__ in the late-19th to early 20th century sense of the word? ;]

      • Janos Skorenzy May 20, 2014 at 1:47 am #

        You think the profit motive can maintain a Nation? That’s why we’re in the state where in.

        Fascism isn’t an economic system per se – thus it is free to take from many systems, though not demonic Communism of course.

      • Petromancer May 20, 2014 at 4:19 pm #

        The inevitable outcome of capitalism, as we practice it, is catastrophic failure given ecological / resource limits. There is nowhere else to conquer and colonize, unless you think warp drive engines and deep ocean domes are emerging technologies. Aggregate growth is over, and now its a game of musical chairs to appropriate the remaining energy supplies that will determine which economic activities continue and for whom. Capitalism is not a model of governance, so should not be compared to communism or fascism. Fascists and communists can equally embrace capitalism and create political environments for it to flourish. You could argue capitalism does better under fascism without all the inefficiencies of the democratic process. I fear this is where the US is headed, because most of us refuse to wrap our head around the problem, and don’t participate in our “democracy” more than once every four years. Scary stuff.

        • skyman May 20, 2014 at 6:42 pm #

          “Petromancer” Nice!

          Anyway, I don’t even think that Capitalism is necessarily the problem, it’s the underlying neurological tangle of human nature that gets us in the fix we’re in. The overwhelming impulse to procreate, even in the face of myriad symptoms of population overshoot and environmental collapse… An instinctive predilection toward maximizing resource consumption, in spite of obvious signs of resource decline… Discounting the future in favor of ephemeral rewards… The many virtual systems within the human brain are not fully integrated and are often conflicted. We have cognitive limits, cognitive biases and other neural short cuts that are no longer advantageous in the context of a relatively full world, amidst the non linear dynamic and diminishing returns of complex economic infrastructures. Our technologies tend to amplify irrational human impulses, worsening the problem of unintended, adverse consequences. People are generally dishonest without even realizing it too, dishonest with themselves and with others: Self delusion and wishful thinking are the norm. Ultimately, we are organic machines with ‘wiring’ that is not altogether appropriate or conducive to long term survival in a world of finite resources, and so those who are cursed with pattern recognition and/or logical faculties sufficient for the discernment of this impending human downfall are grappling with the despair that accompanies such vision. At first, intellectuals and rational, wide boundary thinkers sought solutions, strategies for mitigation, but it wasn’t long before they realized that the overshoot and collapse scenario was inevitable, and so we are left with Last Man Standing strategies, or those who would simply watch Rome burn as night approaches. Then of course we have the back to nature, back to the stone age, survivalist and permaculture responses. My own approach is simply trying to spark dialog regarding the convergence of resource limits, population growth, ecolo-systems in decline, and so on, with as many people as possible, my hope being that increased awareness will naturally lead to adaptive and mitigating behaviors. So the kind of capitalism that is predicated on a huge resource surplus, that is definitely going away, but in the end, the economic system or structure is not the problem, it’s human limitations that belie our ongoing conflict with nature.

      • JackPower May 20, 2014 at 4:22 pm #

        You might be correct in calling communism an “alternative” to capitalism, but to lump that system in with fascism as a co-“alternative” is pretty ludicrous. Both racketeering and fascism are closely related to the unfettered, reckless pursuit of profit. Capitalism begets corporate greed, and as power and wealth concentrate, the masses become (un)happy campers.

      • joomlabliss May 23, 2014 at 3:30 pm #

        That’s why I like to say that the “human project” is a complete failure. No matter where you look and at what century – humans fail at nearly all societal functions. As opposed to many other species, we are unable to organize ourselves. And we were definitely not ready for any advanced technology, not in 1800s and not now.

  54. Neoagrarian May 19, 2014 at 8:02 pm #

    I believe it is all part of the relentless trajectory of the ever accelerating “incidentalization” of humanity. Got yer kale in?

    • MisterDarling May 19, 2014 at 9:08 pm #

      I’m a fan of kale… and potatoes… and favas. Don’t mind planting celery wherever I can fit some in either.


      • K-Dog May 20, 2014 at 2:50 pm #

        How do you grow the celery, any tricks? Most gardeners grow celery purely for the challenge it poses. Can’t get too hot or cold and soil has to remain moist all the time or it won’t turn out. I’m curious since you can’t just fit it in anywhere in the garden.

        • MisterDarling May 22, 2014 at 1:21 pm #

          I just keep trying… 😉


    • Petromancer May 20, 2014 at 4:24 pm #

      I can agree with the opinion of many researchers that 80% of disease can be linked to stress, at least partially. One study concluded Americans today experience more stress in a month than most people did in their whole lifetime 100 years ago. Eat your kale and beans slowly, not while driving, chew thoroughly, then meditate for a while!

  55. MisterDarling May 19, 2014 at 8:50 pm #

    Iraq is on the rebound apparently;


    Not sure how this nets out, but they’re getting a lot of mileage out of it.

    Seriously doubt that a nation that accounted for “3%” of world supply in it’s heyday can sufficiently break the fall of a global market even at 150% local capacity… Maybe I’m just spit-ballin’ here, but I kinda doubt that ;]


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  56. johnmaysonus May 19, 2014 at 9:07 pm #

    I thought of you Jim, last month when I was in Mexico on business.

    Despite me warning my credit card company I would be out of the country, they kept shutting my card off. I tried to handle this on their website, but since I was coming in from Mexico they also blocked my online access. It took forever to get a hold of a human being. I was told everything would be fixed by the next day, but it usually wasn’t. Or my card work in the morning, but by afternoon it had been shutoff again.

    Fun, fun, fun.

  57. MisterDarling May 19, 2014 at 9:20 pm #

    This just in:


    More destabilization at the fringes.

    Just thought I throw this out there for those that have folks on the ground in Thailand.

    Good luck!

  58. Smoky Joe May 19, 2014 at 10:09 pm #

    My primary-care doctor is clearly a freak. He sits down for half an hour with me, tells me which vitamin supplements to take in order to avoid prescription medicines, advises me to get exercise, and bitches about the system.

    Of course, I’ve been seeing him since the late 70s. I hope he lives forever. I don’t think they’ll be many more like him coming along.

    • Petromancer May 20, 2014 at 4:32 pm #

      Seriously freaky! My PCP is looking for the door after 5 or 10 minutes, and draws his scrip pad faster than the deadliest wild west gunslinger. Basically it goes 1. describe symptom. 2. write scrip for some general pharmaceutical that should mask the symptom and offers junkets to Hawaii. 3. Shake hand, give reassuring look, collect hundreds of dollars and hot the next room! Daddy needs a new ostrich skin golf bag…

  59. Marinest May 19, 2014 at 10:51 pm #

    “Note also that we have contrived to make it nearly impossible to obtain our own medical records.”

    No it’s not. Whenever I get a lab test, an exam or anything done, I tell the receptionist or whoever is filling out the BILLING PAPERWORK, that I will not pay for any services until I have a copy of the tests, x-rays, exam results etc in hand. I have them write that above the signature line where you agree to pay.

    Have gotten bill collector phone calls for non payment and I tell them to pull up a copy of my signature and read the line that I will pay when the results are mailed or emailed to me. That’s a contract.

    Yes, I have a few full sized x-rays, some CDs with the same, every lab test and exam going back for years. It’s very handy however to have these in hand when going in for a consult with your Doctor.

    As for getting live humans on the phone: call their sales office and ask to be transferred to the department you want. “Please give me the extension or the direct number in case I get cut off”. Calling the new business line always gets you an American who is usually willing to help.

    Fight them at every opportunity. Oh, and ask whomever you are talking to if they like the company, are getting all the hours they want, benefits etc. Be sympathetic and commiserate with them. Always get in a dig at the ruling decimal class.

    • Petromancer May 20, 2014 at 4:44 pm #

      Thank you for the tips, I am sure they are valuable. For me, I have a hard time accepting that I have to (or should have to) “fight” the people I rely on to manage my health care services “at every opportunity”. I think this highlights the larger point though, that we are likely going to have to approach relationships that should be about care as adversarial, instead of depending on people to be competent and respectful, and systems to be functional. How much knowledge and energy does the individual have to fight on so many fronts. A fight to reconcile a cable bill? A fight to get a medical record? A fight to return a broken doodad despite the fine print? We each need full time litigators as personal assistants just to make sure we aren’t getting screwed purposefully or through negligence and incompetence on a daily basis. Nobody has that time or those resources, so it continues. Solution, stop buying stuff and entering into complex contractual relationships like cell phone contracts… Oh, wait….

  60. rollie May 19, 2014 at 11:26 pm #

    Thanks for the usual dose of truth in what otherwise will surely be another vapid week.

    Not sure why people take crap from doctors, except that usually you’re wounded, sick or otherwise weak and in perfect condition for them to take advantage of you.

    You could also go back and look at Stanley Milgram’s experiments and see some of the same conditions in the lab, i.e. most people will generally take crap from anyone, especially a “scientific” “authority” figure.

    Doctors seem increasingly non-godlike to me. I’m an engineer, so not only do I have the natural skepticism common to the breed, I also have credentials in my own field equal to theirs. So I’m not impressed.

    Once I took time out of my workday to see a doctor. This was when I actually had a decent health plan. I allowed plenty of time. He was late. Eventually the time was sufficiently advanced that even if they were to call me in at that very moment, the appointment couldn’t be finished in time for me to get back to work on time. So I went up to the counter and let them know I was leaving. They acted like this was totally unheard of, which apparently it is.
    Have him call me, I said.
    The doctor doesn’t call patients, they said.
    “Yeah and he doesn’t keep in-person appointments either, so I’m curious how he communicates.” I said.
    Blank stare.

    Never went back. He was just going to spend 20 minutes being a value-added-reseller for whatever drug company had him in their pocket anyway. Actually come to think of it, I haven’t been to a doctor since. Didn’t intend to swear them off then and there, but apparently I did. The service was not up to my standards.

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  61. Myrmecia May 20, 2014 at 2:09 am #

    Phone robots: It does not have to be like this. In Australia the Department of Veterans Affairs has real people right the way through, answering real phones, giving their real names (not just a first name) and providing their direct number for follow-up. They ring back when they promise. And everyone in this process is helpful and well informed and never ‘have to consult my supervisor.

  62. Arn Varnold May 20, 2014 at 6:06 am #

    @ MisterDarling

    I’m on the ground in LOS; don’t believe everything you read.
    It’s fine, so far so good…
    We’ll see…

    • MisterDarling May 20, 2014 at 8:52 pm #

      I’ve got fam’ and property up-country. . . of course they’ll be fine. It’s down in KrungThep that the rot gets deep. People will get shot over this. Not pretty.

      Thanks for the update though!


  63. BackRowHeckler May 20, 2014 at 7:13 am #

    4 more people shot down in New Haven, Connecticut last night. This is where the real war is, where casualties are actually accelerating, New Haven, Connecticut, right by Yale. And just a few months ago there was such hope when the new mayor, a black woman (much was made of that fact) was sworn in. False hope I’m afraid.

    A little north, not to outdone, in New Britain, CT a woman was found on the ground on Beaver Street, stabbed to death. Actually this is not such bad news because at least she wasn’t shot. Since the Governors big crackdown on guns we have seen an increase in knifework and arson (they light your house on fire in the middle of the night while you are asleep)

    New Haven, New Britain, its funny how these cities in New England have grown to resemble the decayed industrial cities in old England. This is how it is now in the Constitution State, the Land of Steady Habits, formerly the home of thrifty Yankee Farmers from a long time ago. Is this part of social collapse? It sure seems like it to me.


    • stelmosfire May 20, 2014 at 2:11 pm #

      Too bad about NB, CT. It was a nice town when the Wife grew up there.The Saga of Landers, Frary & Clark http://www.toaster.org/landers.html and Stanley Works! Since moved to China! I was told that NB was on the bomb zone in the Cold War due to the vast tool works there. A fella could buy a house, raise a family and be a decent member of society while the ol/ lady stayed home like Donna Reed. How much things have changed! I guess that is what we call progress in our our kinder’ and gentler’ Nation!

    • MisterDarling May 22, 2014 at 6:34 pm #

      “Is this part of social collapse?”… I’d say so.

  64. St. Roy May 20, 2014 at 10:50 am #

    “It is now my dream to live somewhere where there are no cars and no cellphones. Am I weird?”

    I did it. I moved to Mexico without a car or cell phone and live a much better life. Yes, I do still use the Internet and SKYPE but PW-free WIFI hot spots are everywhere, so my communication costs a near zilch. And, housing costs are far cheaper and the food much better. When I go back to the US to see family and friends, I am now appalled how people live there.

  65. volodya May 20, 2014 at 1:26 pm #

    There’s a school of thought that says that the only priorities for a corporation is profit maximization and shareholder value. Anything else is a distraction and irrelevant.

    No more old fashioned notions that a business is part of a broader society. No, that’s for sissies besides being a distraction.

    There’s all kinds of nasty consequences that result. Can’t get anyone on the phone? Do you know why? Because you’re not on the phone to give them money. So why do they want to talk to you?

    Did you notice GM took ten years to deal with a mal-functioning nickle and dime device? Profit maximization at work. I guess GM thought it would be cheaper to shut up and hope nobody noticed. Too bad, they noticed.

    I was recently told by my friendly local bank that they aren’t really in the business anymore of taking traditional deposits. No, you see, they’d rather be in the business of “wealth management”. Want to talk mutual funds? No? Then get lost.

    You might ask, what kind of bank is it that isn’t interested in deposits? Well, silly me, isn’t this all about “profit maximization”? Taking a deposit, qualifying a borrower, lending the money out, paying the depositor, all that is hard. It takes diligence and attention to detail.

    But being a “wealth manager” ie a slap happy harvester of sucker money is easy. The stock market does what the market does. Either way the fund manager extracts his cut fom the sucker, I mean, “investor”. This is a lot more fun than being on the hook for a depositor’s money.

    Given the prevailing notion in the regulatory agency universe that you don’t bite the hand of future employers, they sure won’t make bankers, nor anyone else under regulatory authority, get off the crazy-train. No, they get to ride it right off the cliff. You, the consumer, are fully at the mercy of the corporate world. And the people entrusted to watch out for you are about as much use as wall hangings.

    No, you can’t tax “job creators”, you can’t regulate them or prosecute them. Don’t even look at them the wrong way. No, not even when they offshore jobs, steal money, destroy pensions, poison food, ruin companies, wreck the country and kill people.

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    • Janos Skorenzy May 20, 2014 at 2:12 pm #

      Why doesn’t the Communist Obama do these things? Because Communism is ultimately their creature and creation. What you want is not Global Communism (capitalism in drag) but National Socialism – also known as Fascism.

      The world’s largest Democracy just voted in a National Socialist named Modi. National Socialism can’t be permanently thwarted since it is built into the very fabric of Man and Nature.

      • K-Dog May 20, 2014 at 2:36 pm #

        “Capitalism has now become illogical. We are destroying the natural world and consuming the remaining resources in exchange for fiat money —which will be worthless when the resources are gone. Moreover, the ongoing planetary destruction is making most Americans unhealthier and unhappier.”Jay Hanson

        • MisterDarling May 20, 2014 at 5:21 pm #

          Dmitri Orlov handles the manifest silliness of debt-based ‘Growth’ pretty well, early in _The Five Stages of Collapse: Survivors’ Toolkit_… the idea that you can ‘grow’ a civilization indefinitely by pushing debt – with all attendant knock-on effects – is ridiculous.

          But who is going to figure that out, even when explained to them? And of that subset, who will act upon that knowledge?

          That’s why it keeps happening.

          Taleb was right. As a species we have a cognitive blind-spot redundantly embedded in our firmware.

          Oh well,

          “it is what it is”… to use the parlance of our times… /s


    • MisterDarling May 20, 2014 at 5:39 pm #

      “There’s a school of thought that says that the only priorities for a corporation is profit maximization and shareholder value. Anything else is a distraction and irrelevant.”

      The problem with that rationale is that profit “maximization” is destructive of profits in the longer-run, and profit ‘optimization’ compromises resilience – inviting annihilation by the next ‘black swan’ event.

      This is a problem on the micro- as well as macro-level. It’s inherent.

      There’s a particularly silly breed of person who rages against government ‘interference’ when the entire structure of what they believe is the ‘Free Market’ ceases to exist without said government’s protection (forget about patents, trusts, financial backing by the tax-payer, courts of civil law or corporate personhood).

      We don’t have to look any farther than Mexico, or Russia during the 1990’s, to see what happens when ‘government’ isn’t around to play security-guard: All business disputes are resolved by very graphic displays of violence.

      Object to being ripped off by your new business ‘partners’ too loudly and you’ll be wearing a *bolito* in no time…


    • MisterDarling May 22, 2014 at 12:35 am #


      Imagine what it would be like to do *whatever* it took – sell out, rat out, betray everyone you know _and_ yourself for decades – in order to build a truly huge fortune. A fortune large enough to see you through when they finally chase you out of your country, enough to care for you when no one else will.

      And so, you show up in the British Virgin Islands, or the Caymans and have one of your people go down to the bank the same morning you arrive to make introductions… And they have no clue who you are, let alone where your money went.

      We are entering an era of global financial failure, an era of _confiscations_. If they want your money badly enough they are going to get it.

      What happened to Mubarak and Qaddafi scared the hell out of a lot of people. These people aren’t just going to be broke, they are dead without that cash.

      Consider: 1) What happened in Cyprus (at the urging from the ECB) was just a test run, because 2) At the December 2012 meeting of the BIS, language was introduced referring to depositors as “unsecured creditors” whose funds could make up part of a required emergency reserve 3) Recall the very peculiar behavior of a certain London-based bank this year, that was requiring depositors to explain why they needed to withdraw 4) Observe the recent inclusion of ‘bail in’ provisions to be used against American depositors.

      2nd Stage collapse can be quite hazardous for people of means – even more if those means are ill-gotten. In the second stage the appearance of Civilization is still in place – with all the bells and whistles – but none of the processes, buffers, safety-nets and protections… They were stripped-away to give these idiots their fortunes.

      OC rules the second stage and OC doesn’t even know what it wants, it just wants it.

      And these people think that anyone not cheering them on right now is just being jealous… ;] /s

  66. MisterDarling May 20, 2014 at 2:23 pm #

    GM is recalling more cars than it’s making;


    = more stuff to add to the KarKultur DeathClock file.

    (talk about ‘Cost of Quality’ ! 😉


    • BackRowHeckler May 20, 2014 at 8:28 pm #

      GM was a bankrupt company. Why were they bailed out? Why not just let them go down like dozens of other companies before them that couldn’t turn a profit? Pope, Stutz, Cord, Willys, Studebaker, Packard, Hudson just to name a few. They couldn’t compete; they’re gone. Why is GM still here?


      • MisterDarling May 21, 2014 at 1:58 am #

        “Why?” indeed!

        Corruption, pure and simple.

        At one point the car industry was the ‘high-tech’ industry of its day: chock full of vim, vigor and sharp-dealing businessmen at the top of their game. The whole point was Being Competitive, Getting On Top and staying there.

        At a later date the car market had consolidated until only a few big fish survived, and they all “had people” in Washington D.C. The point then was Being on Top and enjoying it.

        A generation of pay-offs, revolving doors and slack-jawed acquiescence goes by and the point then is…well… [imagine the sound of an ice-cube rattling in a glass in the background]… ‘Wait a minute… what was the point again?’

        This phenomenon of doubling-down on proven strategic losers is classic Late-Stage & end-of-an-era behavior. It’s like watching a junkie get ‘fixed’ enough to get back to normal. They do it because they don’t know what else to.

        If you are part of a family that ’empire-surfed’ from Spain to the Netherlands to France, across the channel to Great Britain and from thence to the USA this all looks like ‘get while the gettin’s good, time’…


  67. Cold N. Holefield May 20, 2014 at 2:27 pm #

    I am prosecuting against the manufacturer of a defective hip implant that gave me cobalt / chromium poisoning.

    I’m sure Marina Litvinenko can empathize. Her lawsuit against Putin and The Kremlin for poisoning her husband hasn’t had much success. In their view, she should be happy to be alive.

    Polonium-210 Tea With The Tsar

  68. K-Dog May 20, 2014 at 3:14 pm #

    “We just don’t want to hear about it, and our related infatuation with feel-good public relations bullshit spews a fog of concealment over it. We apparently like being deceived and don’t mind being tortured.”

    OCTOBER 2012 was the 323rd consecutive month for which the global temperature was above average. The odds of this happening randomly are literally astronomical: one in ten to the hundredth power. For comparison, there are ten to the eightieth power atoms in the known universe. So if all the atoms in the universe were white, except one was green, your odds of reaching blindly into a bag of all the atoms in the universe and picking out the green one would be greater than that of having 323 consecutive months of above-average temperatures were global warming not happening.

    Yet the majority of congress does not give a shit about this, resource depletion, employment, inflation, or a national energy policy. Exactly what do the members of congress think about besides themselves anyway?

    • MisterDarling May 20, 2014 at 5:11 pm #

      Whatever their own swarm of lobbyists want, according to the size of their campaign contributions future/present/past, in that order.

      It’s their decision-matrix, you see…

      • ozone May 20, 2014 at 6:44 pm #

        Yes, short-term happy-talk, hurrahs for jingo johnnys, skimmings, milkings (and tumescent dreams of future skimmings and milkings) and the dreaded fundraisers for the next round of not doing the job the electorate thinks might be in their interests!

        I know who my enemies are; there’s no debate… and guess what? Just like them, there’s no empathy. That could turn out to be “problematic” [as they say] when things go all wobbly.

        So you could try and explain to me why I should trade my current bunch of venal assholes that call themselves “leaders” for the next crop of venal assholes that want to tighten the screws even further — but I know you won’t. I’ve read Orlov’s book too; there’s some real clear-eyed hierarchy smack-down in there that [most unfortunately for some] makes it more than irrelevant, it makes it damn-straight suicidal!

        Oh, and as far as their nice, tight ‘n’ tidy little decision-matrix? Do you also get the impression that it’s rapidly crumbling and they’re pulling out everything in the toolbox to keep it greased and running? (Sheeee-it, they can’t even get the parts for it any more…) Rollin’ rollin’ rollin’; keep those tumbrils rollin’; (etc.)

        • MisterDarling May 20, 2014 at 8:20 pm #

          Most of the policy decisions that I’ve seen coming out of the Beltway over the past fifteen years speak of deep-seated dread, thus the desperate graspings at the trappings of control, and mismanaged de-stabilization mongering. It’s how imperial societies get toward the end, you see… ;]

          And yes, we could hear the creak of the *tumbrils* in the not-entirely distant future. . . The last people to know that they’re coming are the people they’re coming for.

          Why? Well, if they were the kind of people that understand that the game CAN be lost and act accordingly, the tumbrils wouldn’t be coming for them, would they?


          • ozone May 20, 2014 at 8:47 pm #

            Ha. Absolutely the pointy end of the point!
            Rumblin’, rumblin, rumblin’…..

  69. MisterDarling May 20, 2014 at 5:07 pm #

    Sorry Walmart,


    It’s just a *Cost/Benefit* thing… ;]

    (City of Portland OR just divested $36M from the BigBox khan).

  70. K-Dog May 20, 2014 at 5:28 pm #

    Last week Florida Power posted this Zero Hedge link.

    Where the World’s Unsold Cars Go To Die

    Some are calling the article bullshit.

    That Zero Hedge Article On Unsold Cars Is Bullshit

    One can have only two links in a comment and I actually need more so this is TBC (To Be Continued)

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  71. K-Dog May 20, 2014 at 5:29 pm #

    Continuing about Florida Power’s Zero Hedge link.

    Now there is this:

    Growing stocks of unsold cars around the world

    In this article locations of photos are given. One shows “Ford trucks in Detroit, Michigan” Neon Vincent could check it out and see if it is normal if he is so inclined. Other photos show the Toyota distribution centre in Long Beach, California and the port of Newark, New Jersey.

    It should not be hard to find out the truth.

    A side note:

    ♩ ♪ ♪ ♫ ♩

    I commented to Florida Powers last week making the following comment:

    Florida Powers link to the problem of seas of unsold cars has a solution.

    Everyone is familiar with Feed the Children, the Christian, international, non-profit relief organization, whose stated mission is “to deliver food, medicine, clothing and other necessities to individuals, children and families who lack these essentials due to famine, war, poverty or natural disaster”.

    But why adopt a baby when now you can assuage your liberal conscience other ways. I’ll set up a (sort of) non-profit that will let you adopt an unsold car. For a modest monthly donation you will get pictures of your adopted car and every six months for only a small extra charge you can elect to have a five point inspection done on your adopted car. It’s battery will also be periodically charged with the preferred adoption package.

    You will be able to choose the make, model and color of your adopted car just like you would when adopting a baby.

    Along with pictures of your adopted car a specially prepared brochure will tell you the history and local charm of the vacant lot or unused runway where your ‘baby’ is stored.

    And that graduation present for your newly minted unemployed high school or college graduate?

    An adoption certificate for a brand new shiny unsold car is something they will not soon forget!

    (Leaving my linked content out.)

    Last week when I SUBMITTED this comment I saw it appear as usual but at the bottom was an added line put there by someone or something else.

    “This comment is being held for moderation.”

    Logging off and logging on later everything looked the same, but logging on to CFN using a computer at a different location I then saw my comment was missing.


    I don’t know, but if you see the message at the bottom of one of your comments know you really are the only one reading it.

    Now lets find out about those cars. I need some bling!

  72. mika. May 20, 2014 at 6:22 pm #

    “It ought to be self-evident that this could only happen in a profoundly corrupt, dishonest, and degenerate society, because it took the form of a social compact that accepted this sort of behavior as okay.” – JHK

    Must be manifest destiny.

  73. MisterDarling May 20, 2014 at 7:57 pm #

    Hinterland Collapse-Watch… Libyan Edition:


    Another country ‘saved’ from ‘terrorism’, by feeding it directly into the jaws of Bedlam…

    Of course profits were ‘maximized’… Well, in the short-term anyway ;]

    (another ‘cost-of-quality’ issue in the making? there’s a lesson in all this, perhaps?)


    • ozone May 20, 2014 at 8:40 pm #

      Well then, we must declare:
      “Mission Accomplished!”
      “An Unqualified Success!”
      in the annals of destabilization, destruction and fragmentation of social contracts and constructs, must we not?

      The only thing left to determine is, which racket got greased the most in this Foggy Bottom Breakdown? …And can we find out by making some phone calls without running into a phone-forest of denial and detouring? …Or do we even want to know?!? (“Get me a Bud, Hon, Dancing with Scantily-clad Narcissists is starting,”)

      (This snippet is prologue as well.)
      “Paradoxically, both the militiamen attacking and defending the government are paid out of the central budget. In addition, Gaddafi had 100,000 men under arms who still receive a monthly salary as if they were part of the regular forces, but few turn up to work.”
      — Independent, UK

      • ZrCrypDiK May 21, 2014 at 12:29 am #

        This one goes out to the 2-3 of you, still following this thread (and of course, the moderator!). You all apparently *care* (whateverTF that means). You have souls, and you’re actually concerned about your own demise.

        SUX 2 B U. Every single detail about U is available, except of course – to *YOURSELF*. It’s an endless grind – who wins? Sock puppets?!?

        I digress! They (*YOU*) already destroyed the planet. They already depleted all remaining aquifers. All they left, where forests used to thrive, whuz toxins and runoff. It’s all dead, and waiting for tornados/./././

        What a *SAD* state of affairs!!! I suspect U know who I am, by *NOW*. Get your henchman to delete my poast – post haste!!! Why you hate me so much – I don’t understand – but I do understand the *CONSEQUENSES* of your actions/./././././. Stop guzzlin’ dah gas…

      • Janos Skorenzy May 21, 2014 at 2:24 am #

        The Leftist Coalition is beginning to crack. Some are beginning to tell their stories of going to school with Blacks. And the cries of racism are met with derision and contempt. Calling people racist is just moral posturing – the incredible passion to be moral superior to other Whites. You have it in spades.


  74. fairguy May 20, 2014 at 8:00 pm #

    Although I agree that the health care “industry” and the banks are indeed harming many people, I don’t agree that the difficulty of reaching a person on the telephone in real time is necessarily a bad thing. Other than medical emergencies, routine matters such as requests for information and records should not be that much of a challenge through automated means (e.g. online). If certain hospitals and clinics still make it so, it isn’t so much out of intent to scam their patients as much as inferior technologies and user interfaces. Blame the project managers and programmers that put poor systems in place, including the management that allowed them to do so.

    In the domain of CRM (customer relationship management) technologies, banks are generally way ahead of the medical industry. Or in other words, it’s much easier to pull up your bank statement online and get an issue resolved with a bank than it is with a hospital. There are a myriad of reasons, among them regulatory (e.g. HIPAA, patient privacy), the “silo”-ed nature of medical systems that don’t talk to each other, and a generally lower level of investment in technology modernization in the medical industry.

    I also disagree that telephone robots are necessarily bad – they are only bad when they’re mis-configured. For an example of a well configured telephone response system, try calling an online travel agency like Expedia. For an example of a truly bad system, try calling Comcast. Too many systems are configured to lead customers down an endless trail of options, only to end up without help.

    Re: banking, whenever I hear someone rail against the banking industry, I wonder if s/he has already moved his business to a credit union. Here in Washington State, there are many such choices and BECU (the one I use) is nothing short of fantastic – including their phone behavior. We should still revile some of the banking industry for scams they have gotten away with in the last decade, but nobody is forcing us to keep our business with them.

  75. muttdog May 20, 2014 at 11:10 pm #

    Some years back I decided to go to nursing school. I had had ideas of becoming a doctor years ago but never had the resources, so I thought this would be a kind of like doctor lite. They now have one-year BSN programs (bachelors or nursing, for those who already have some degree) so it seemed like a doable thing.

    So I went back and took all the necessary prerequisites (about half of premed, if you don’t take the watered courses) and got into one of those one-year programs.

    The way that nursing works is that you learn packaged EBPs (Evidence Based Procedures). You are required to learn things like pharmacology and pathophysiology but the core of what you are trained to do are the procedures. The doctors do the thinking, the administrators (many come from nursing) enforce policy and the nurses do the busy work.

    If you get smart and start asking why you will get into trouble. This is a production-line job and your job is to do your procedures as specified as quickly as possible. Further, if you start to ask questions, you’re not only wasting time but also challenging authority and making an opening for liability.

    Nurses don’t take the Hippocratic oath; they’re not responsible for the patient outcomes. If they stay within procedure, they are safe. Anything outside procedure, for good or ill, can lead to trouble.

    There is a strict hierarchy in the nursing world. Nursing students are below all nurses and new nurses are below more established nurses. And of course all nurses are below administrators and doctors. This hierarchy is very rigid and detailed and all know their exact position. An unofficial job requirement is to learn and stay within your hierarchy.

    All nurses have had bad patient outcomes and occasionally make errors. If you fit the organization well and haven’t done an obvious gross procedure violation you will be safe. But if you’re any sort of a troublemaker, any sort of error, no matter how small, can get you fired

    The whole culture of nursing is one of risk avoidance, obedience and social conformity. One of the consequences of this is the nurse scuttle: anything bad happens you quickly scuttle away. Assuming your patient needlessly dies, just leave quickly. Nobody wants you to know anything, that’s a potential legal exposure. You don’t want to know anything. That could be an admission of guilt or a finger pointing at someone higher up in the hierarchy. Bad in any case.

    Unfortunate incidents are not learning opportunities but only pits of trouble. If you followed orders and procedure, there’s nothing else you could have done anyway. If you failed in some way, likely no one will ever know or, if you’re one of the team, they will protect you anyway. This is a culture built on mutual protection.

    Now, of course, they don’t teach you this per se. But you are given strong hints. One thing nurses spend a lot of time doing is charting. What you are taught (and what senior nurses have learned in seminars given by insurance defense attorneys) is that charting must show a consistent and smooth record of patient health. Any jag or irregularity can lead to liability exposure.

    In short, they instruct you to jigger the patient records.

    Now, if you’re someone with a true interest in patient welfare, you will have conflicts of interest. If you’re there only because this is a secure job that pays well and offers opportunity to advance, you can be happy.

    Being a reprobate, I got into trouble.

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  76. Christoph Becker May 21, 2014 at 3:54 am #

    Interesting post to reflect on.
    Should I feel guilty now, because I have shut down my dental office and laid off my staff for almost 4 month this spring/summer, have my answering machine running, enjoy life, train with my guns, read books, work a little as craftsman and cut my share in continuing these crazy European/Western society with taxes?
    No, I don’t feel guilty because it is not me, but our Western, US-lead Society that is responsible. People have chosen in free democratic elections again and again the politics we have:
    1. Our society consumes and almost drowns the medical branch with laws, rules and paper-works. There was and still is an explosion of costs, rules and paper works officially intended „to prevent harm from patients“. But the price of too much regulations brings harm to patients too since all those regulations and paper-works do cost money, motivation and time of medical professionals. Lawsuits, „patients rights“ and the physicians strive to insure against them and strive to prevent or win them do have a price everyone has to pay for with medical fees and with less availability of physicians and with taking less risks.
    2. Feminism does have a very huge price as Karen Straughan explains in her video talk „Fempocalypse“ on youtube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w__PJ8ymliw ). The training of physicians and dentists is very expensive and the capacity of the universities is limited. Female physicians work much less in their lifetime (get children, work part-time or just marry and don’t work any more at all). As western society was stupid enough to want equal rights and chances for women the price has to be paid in diminishing availability of physicians combined with an inflation of overall costs.
    3. I myself have managed to get no children, since it seemed just to dangerous to me, because men have to little rights and because – as a result of feminism – the risk of divorce and endless payments seemed to high when I was young in the 80’s. This made it possible for me now to work less and be much less availabile for my patients, while I do have no son to continue in my place – as the physician’s son in „The Witch of Hebron“.
    4. Last but not least, people become older, medicine offers more possibilities and people often ignore ways to prevent disease and to live more healthy, which all increases the demand.

    • Janos Skorenzy May 21, 2014 at 3:02 pm #

      Yes, women are at their best under Patriarchy. There, carefully packaged by culture and older women, they feminine, attractive, diligent, humble, etc. In short, they are fit wives and mothers. But once they are “freed”, they start let it all hang out, both literally and metaphorically. Their morality was always shame based, not internalized or guilt based. They do what they can get away with. Now that culture lets them get away with murder, be it of their ex-husband’s lifestyle and estate, or of their own unborn children, that’s exactly what they do.

      I admit there are exceptions – more developed women with an actual moral code, but they are fairly rare. Most women have an extraordinary capacity to rationalize anything they want to do no matter how odious.

  77. contrahend May 21, 2014 at 11:00 am #

    When I go back to the US to see family and friends, I am now appalled how people live there.

    food IS better in central/south america/mehico.

    but hows the violence down (up) there, everyone live behind protective walls and fences like here in brazil?

    it sounds cliched, but south americans do not value human life as much as europeans, they really dont, not even their own.

    they are lower on the societal intelligence totem pole.


    • Janos Skorenzy May 21, 2014 at 3:06 pm #

      How not since they are generally of a lower race? Or a mixture of high and low or low and low? Gresham’s Law: bad genes drive out or dominate good.

      In other words, the White upper middle and upper class keep the lights on and the water flowing. If the Indios manage to overthrow them, as they threaten to do in several places, the lights will go off and the water cease to flow.

    • BackRowHeckler May 21, 2014 at 5:57 pm #

      Why are so many Mexicans so hot to get into the US? If Mexico is so great? Millions of them risking their lives to cross the border.

      I’m not trying to be provocative. I like to know.


  78. Pucker May 21, 2014 at 12:29 pm #

    I saw an advertisement on California TV last night of a company offering the service of assisting people in making applications to the government to obtain Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. It seems that the company service provider gets a percentage of the successful applicant’s SSDI payments.

  79. gtuner May 21, 2014 at 12:54 pm #

    Hi Mr. K.

    Here is my theory as to your 2 questions.

    1) How did we get to this sorry place? A nation built upon the foundation of getting something for nothing,

    2) And why are citizens not violently angry about it?. They are violently angry. So long as the violence is expressed either as individual self destruction (as manifested by substance abuse, self mutilation disguised as trendy subculture and other neurosis) or intra-lower-class violence that is fine with TPTB. In fact isn’t that the point of some of the political machinery over the years – to generate hatred between the have-nots of various flavors?

    Sorry to hear of you problems with legal chase. You have my utter sympathy. Med malpractice one of the tougher nuts to crack given reliance on expert witnesses in those cases in my albeit limited experience. And some of the brightest minds in the legal profession these days seem occupied by new ways to stall and evade the rules of discovery. Another sad state of affairs to go along with the banking and medical industries. Best of luck.

  80. volodya May 21, 2014 at 2:01 pm #

    National Socialism? It didn’t work out so good the first time around. Why would we go down that road again?

    You can call Obama a lot of names. Fucking Liar would be one. You can accuse him of a lot of sins. Like authorizing pointless drone strikes. You kill a terrorist with a missile. Arguably a good thing. But, when that buzzing contraption in the air also kills or cripples innocent bystanders, arguably not one damn thing has been accomplished. Arguably you’ve made things worse.

    Oh, and he’s really good at looking out for oligarchs while claiming to have the country’s best interests at heart. (Q: What’s 18 inches long and hangs between Dimon’s legs? A: Obama’s tie.)

    But, Obama the Communist? I don’t think so. Communism has a decades long record. There’s a lot of people alive that can tell you all about it having lived under communist regimes. I doubt you’ll find any of them calling Obama a “communist”.

    Mister Darling is right about cognitive blind spots. Business interests vociferously demand low taxes. They yammer endlessly on it. But why do they even bother bringing up the issue? And why do we give them the time of day?

    Because, for one thing, when it comes to business decisions, what does the C-suite look at? Not tax rates but wage rates. That’s why American industrial capacity is sitting in China. Dollar an hour wage rates. You can reduce corporate tax rates to zero and it wouldn’t make a stitch of difference. They’d still move their factories to China.

    Mister Darling is right about something else, what do the oligarchs rely on? Government-run institutions like courts and the military.

    Oligarchs don’t learn. You’re dumb when you don’t learn from your own experience. But when you don’t learn from other people’s experience that makes you many times dumber because the lessons to you are free of charge. What could oligarchs have learned? They could have learned from what Russia went through 20 years ago, that is, mergers and acquisitions done not by lawyers and accountants but heavily armed men storming company offices.

    Maybe the soft, fat Wall Street types would rather live and die by the knife and gun. But the Manhattan townhouse-dwellers should think twice. There’s people in the world (Russians, Chinese, Italian) that are much better at it than them. Don’t get me wrong, if that’s what they want it’s OK by me. One gangster in the corner office is much like the other. At this point I couldn’t care less how he got there.

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    • Janos Skorenzy May 21, 2014 at 2:13 pm #

      One of the small Communist Parties didn’t run a candidate because Obama was running. All his associates are Communists. All his ideas and policies are too. Face it, he is. Why isn’t it great like you thought it would be? Because you were fooled and Communism isn’t what you thought it would be. You thought it was noble workers with hammers overthrowing corrupt regimes. You didn’t (and still don’t) know that it was a matter of secret societies funded by the Bankers who corrupted and overthrew them.

      National Socialism? You prefer Global – and rule by the International Bankers?

      India has just voted for National Socialism.


    • MisterDarling May 21, 2014 at 5:51 pm #

      “Oligarchs don’t learn. You’re dumb when you don’t learn from your own experience. But when you don’t learn from other people’s experience that makes you many times dumber because the lessons to you are free of charge.” – v.

      Yes… precisely.

      Also this:

      “But the Manhattan townhouse-dwellers should think twice. There’s people in the world (Russians, Chinese, Italian) that are much better at it than them.” – v.

      There seem to be a lot of overgrown children out there who think that they are ready for that.

      When HSBC can get caught laundering at least a billion u.s.d. and then be let off of the hook for it (publicly and by the US DoJ-AG no less) that is like ringing the dinner-bell for a certain kind of two-legged monster.

      As we approach the 2nd stage of collapse (ie., of the commercial sector, having refused as a society to prevent it) we’ll be seeing more people from high finance ‘taking flying lessons’… There’s been a spate of that recently.


  81. stelmosfire May 21, 2014 at 2:02 pm #

    I stayed overnight at a hospital a few years back, 67K for a one night stay. Multimillion dollar OR. The doctors and nurses were phenomenal. My nurse was Filipino with an Aussie accent. She brought me all the ice cream I requested. By the time I was discharged I was in love. Case cured. But that”s just my story. When I called the hospital for follow ups the Doc would call me back within an hour. He was a super polite fellow with a thick Irish brogue. Romney care grabbed the tab. Sure we all grab the tab, but isn’t that what a society does? Stelmo

    • Janos Skorenzy May 21, 2014 at 2:14 pm #

      So now you believe in mass immigration because of your Filipino nurse – who took the place of an American. She gave you ice cream! How easily we are bought.

      • stelmosfire May 21, 2014 at 3:43 pm #

        So now Vlad you wish I had a :”Negress” caring for me who talks Ebonics? I don’t care who provides the care as long as they are competent. Some of my best friends are black, unlike yourself who finds blacks subhuman. I am not easily bought. I was just referring to the excellent care I was given. I don’t suffer fools well and expect people to be competant in their field, whether it be a field of hay or the field of medicine.

      • stelmosfire May 21, 2014 at 3:52 pm #

        And who ever said she was not an American? My parents were from Italy. Am I not an American? My guess is that you are only a couple generations removed from the old country. Are you not an American??????

        • Janos Skorenzy May 21, 2014 at 8:38 pm #

          America is White or it is nothing. You choose the nothing. A Nation can’t survive the amount of genetic and cultural diversity that you feel comfortable with. Your instincts are all wrong. I guess when Whites came here from Europe, they gave up everything – and America wasn’t able to give them a replacement for all they gave up. So now American Whites are without Culture and any sense of being a People. No pride at all so they will accept anyone who repeats the right Horatio Alger/Patriotic talking points. It’s not enough, not even close.

          • Oakgeo May 22, 2014 at 9:15 pm #

            “America is White or it is nothing.”

            If that’s so, then the colonials ruined it for you back in the 16th century. What an idiot.

    • BackRowHeckler May 21, 2014 at 6:03 pm #

      Hey RipT didn’t the FD give you health insurance when you retired? For life?

      • stelmosfire May 22, 2014 at 8:47 am #

        Sort of marlin . it is a 65% /35% with the city picking up 65% I pay about $450.00 a month. Until medicare kicks in and then I am in the same boat as everyone else. I also pay about 4500 dollars property insurance a year and 3 G’s auto insurance. I never had to make an auto claim, a couple small property claims from storm damage and I am basically healty The insurance companies are not losing any money on me. Also my wife is still working and paying I think probably $150.00 monthly for dental and they don’t cover diddly. My neighbor is on Mass Health and gets everything for free, his multiple scrips cost him like 2 bucks apiece. When I needed pills a few years back I was putting out a fifty dollar co-pay per refill. I always said Insurance is like the Fire Dept. It is a huge waste of money till you really need it.

  82. MisterDarling May 21, 2014 at 2:31 pm #

    NeoCon strategic blowback;


    Accelerating the consolidation of the Eurasian landmass under the SCO/BRICS-bloc is a huge foreign policy fail.

    This is what ill-advised, fundamentally incompetent meddling reaps.

    Some years ago I came across a J H K essay written in the aftermath of the Georgia vs. Russia fiasco. It was short, pithy and really hit the ‘nail’ precisely on the head of what was going on, and what needed to.

    I immediately bought two of his books, in order to get a better sense of his message.

    I’ve never thought of J H as a pessimist, not at all.

    Consider; he’s attempting to engage the public (hopefully some of them influential) in a constructive dialogue. He’s talking to the public _as if_ there were someone to talk to, understand and act on the information in some way.

    Based on the track record of policy-makers since that time, we must conclude that Mr. Kunstler was an incredibly over-the-top optimist…

    Well, as the neocons were saying (in reference to the ‘opening up’ of Central Asia twenty years ago) “nature abhors a vacuum”.

    These things tend to ‘work themselves out’ – one way or another.

    At the end of the day, you must take care of business, or business will ‘take care’ of you.



    [*] we are referring to the small nation on the shores of the Black Sea, not the ‘peach’ state that we all know and love so dearly 😉

  83. MisterDarling May 21, 2014 at 4:37 pm #

    Shale Oil ‘Boom’ in CA?


    mmm, yeah… not so much /s

    I love how shale oil/gas estimates and production figures revise downward as often as BLS job-stats [*]… It’s interesting /s

    —– —– —–

    [*] that is to say; *predictably* ;]

  84. BackRowHeckler May 21, 2014 at 6:20 pm #

    Boko Harem set off some tactical bombs in Nigeria yesterday leveling a whole town and killing about 100 people. Facking religion of peace. Those girls are long gone incidentally, never to be seen again. They’ll be out of the news and forgotten pretty soon, hash tags and all. Maybe some will turn up in brothels in the All American City Chicago, City of Broad Shoulders (Carl Sandburg) Except now everybody is collecting welfare, for which you don’t need broad shoulders, just 2 or 3 flat screen TVs. Speaking of Chicago is Boko Harem operating there and launching a spring offensive, because last week about 35 people got shot? That’s no where near the record either. Its gonna be a long summer, man, a long hot summer. Stay away from the big cities, head for the country.


    • stelmosfire May 22, 2014 at 4:01 pm #

      http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/27-huge-red-flags-for-the-u-s-economy maybe- or -maybe not? Who knows? Just sayin’ . Call in the drones!! I know i saw one over my house weeks ago on a crystal clear blue sky no. 10 day. day I have good glass and this thing left no contrail and made not a peep. I watch airliners all day at 40,000 ft flying the great circle route. I happen to be under the descent route for European flights. This thing was out of course. Whatever, nothin’ I can do about it. I’ll just till the garden and watch the skies. NSA watch list again. Sigh.

      • BackRowHeckler May 22, 2014 at 5:12 pm #

        Rip, last week I was in the meadows picking up a truckload of free topsoil the town provides, along the river, and one of those drones appeared right over my truck, just hovering. It was about a square yard with 4 propellers. Holy Shit!, I figured maybe the NSA was all the sudden interested in my topsoil usage. Over to the side, in the middle of a softball field, I noticed a Chinese guy holding a control panel, smiling at me. i pulled over to talk with him. Turns out he was a retired Doctor who’d had a stroke and couldn’t be a doctor anymore. He told me he bought this drone for about $2000 and operating it and flying it around helped him regain his motorskills. He showed me how the thing worked. It was incredible. It had a camera mounted to the bottom of it, a powerful camera that could see everything 2000 ft on the ground. He flew it down along the river for me, out of our sight; meanwhile you could see everything below in great detail. Plus it could hover in place for a long time, like it was hovering over my truck, in silence. i could see military applications for this thing (scouting) and as a tool for inspectors of pipelines, railroad tracks and roads. i’d love to get one, just to fack around with and freak out the neighbors.


  85. michigan_native May 21, 2014 at 6:38 pm #

    “Your call is important to us”. The check is in the mail. I won’t cum in your mouth. Add that phone bot system the list of greatest lies.

    “Private industry”, such as the healthcare rackets, have become just like the government. When it comes helping you, providing assistance, services, or money, they are slow, inept, incompetent bumbling idiots who have mountains of red tape and bureaucratic hassles of horse shit to wade through.

    On the other hand, when it comes to stealing your money, bankrupting you, seizing your assets, or otherwise fucking you up the ass, they become masters of efficiency. They become swift, well coordinated, the various departments suddenly can communicate and cooperate with each other in a more than timely manner, and they have no shortage of these parasites with no human dignity at all called lawyers at their disposal. How we allow these slime bags to breathe the same air as the rest of us, I can’t figure out.

    But wait, I can figure it out. The latest generation of neocon worshipping sheeple have been bending over and licking the boots of their masters while they are being fleeced, cattle prodded, and bullwhipped all the way to the slaughter house. From the antics of Reagan to Bill Clinton’s NAFTA to the Bush/Cheney era to the present, you can hear these flag waving knuckleheads agree and say “thank you, may I have another”, that it’s for our own good the have “at will” employment policies (which bosses and managers routinely abuse to outright violate every right you thought you may have once had) , that it’s for our own good to cut food stamps, to cut hot lunches for poor children in school, to refuse to raise the minimum wage, etc .

    Time after time they take it up the ass and offer their masters the vasoline jar for another go round. The American people are apathetic, ignorant, pathetic wimps to have allowed even a fraction of this to go on in the first place. And now the DHS, the NDAA, and the NSA spying on each and everyone of us? Some still call Edward Snowden a “traitor”. Some still think Putin is a demon who invaded the Ukraine and these US sponsored neo Nazis and terrorist mercenaries are the legitimate government there, and that Hitlery Clinton, killer Kerry, and other sordid neocon bastards had some right to spend the 5 billion (so far) to stage this illegal coup, this latest war crime. Assholes. I don’t suppose that money would have been better spent at home. They must sit up at night and wonder what their lives would have been like if they had received enough oxygen at birth.

    Now this whole phone bot/kiss your day goodbye waiting for a real person to finally answer your call is just an extension of the larger picture, the collapse that is going on and gaining momentum. Why pay a real human in the US who needs a job the pathetic minimum wage when you can have someone whom you cannot understand and cannot understand you overseas do the same work for slave labor wages? Either that or after spending hours waiting for the “next available operator”, you get some semi literate byproduct of inbreeding with nose mining habits and drooling problems with that deep southern drawl, they are just as hard to understand as those overseas and more often than not, they can’t answer your question and route you through another couple of hours of phone bots and waiting for the “next available retard”.

    This stunt is also an attempt to slow down and frustrate people to a point where they realize paying for a lawyer is expensive and thanks to the repugs during the Reagan era, you cannot recoup the legal costs it took you to make these crooks cover those exorbitant costs when and if you had the audacity to get sick or injured. So torture them even further with the phone games, and hopefully they will shut up, go away, and get bankrupted and have their lives ruined by having to pay out of pocket. God bless America?

    A similar situation happens to people who thought their jobs were secure by working in the healthcare field. Due to chronic budget short falls at all levels of government from what an ever eroding tax base (Orlov), like all other branches of “the state”, their regulators and inspectors are on steroids. They go into these places which are typically short staffed. You can see the anguish on the faces of those people, who, for the time being, still have a job there. The state digs and prods until they find an excuse the fine the facility, not unlike the presence of undercover speed traps seemingly at every nook and cranny of a road that is still driveable.

    So the people that own the place, who were used to a life of exotic vacations, fine dining, cruises, box seats to all the major sporting events, and driving expensive Italian cars, by making us work to the point where our mental and physical health were beaten beyond recognition while they sat around and did nothing, are starting to get stressed out. Some of their goodies are being taken away. To compensate for this, they start to threaten administration. Frequently they terminate administrators and hire in attack dogs who set out to make money for the plantation (ahem, healthcare) owners.

    They pressure other people to attack and harass people that already have bad knees, hips, sore backs, herniated discs, hernias, ulcers, sleep deprivation, etc . With a non stop assault of threats and “write ups”, those whom they cannot harass into quitting (so the boss doesn’t have to pay unemployment), they deploy another array of dirty tricks, like making people switch units, mandate that you stay over say on a Friday night if there is a call in, but make you take like a Tuesday or Wednesday off so you don’t exceed your 40 hours.

    So you drive to work one day, the same job that never made you wealthy but at least paid your bills, the same job you may have had for 20 years and figured you would work at until the day you die (because you know your retirement will not be there and that the retirement system is doomed to fail.) and viola, it’s not there anymore. All part of an obvious strategy to get rid of the old wage scale employees and hire in new, fresh grads for $5/hr less. Have to make sure that plantation owner can take his tropical and Alaskan cruises and his European vacations and drive around in that 2 million dollar sports car, which to my delight, I heard got thoroughly keyed in his special designated parking space

    So like the other rats on a sinking ship, you enter the rat race to get one of the few lifeboats (jobs) that are still available. You are treated like some kind of criminal. The person that interviews you badgers you like some kind of prosecuting attorney. The focus never seems to be on the future with their plantation, they want to know why you are no longer getting bullwhipped at the old plantation. If you can navigate your way through this humiliation, then the inevitable drug test and background check. It is never a question of IF they are going to violate your privacy this way, its a question of WHEN. You must drive off to this clinic with 3 forms of ID within one half an hour of leaving here else you are automatically disqualified for employment. So if you were somehow lucky enough to keep a PT job on the side that you were supposed to go to, kiss that goodbye after you wait hours at the piss testing detention center.

    Survive to this point and they now want to check your references. You can give them the names and numbers of your former bosses and administrators for the last 20 years, but they want to hear from the people at the last plantation you fled from. That’s when the phone games come into full force. You call them, and some bimbo receptionist who dresses and looks like she got the job by bobbing for apples for the physicians there, and they always ask you what your name is. You get put on hold. That person that said they were going to hire you or would get in touch with you is ALWAYS at a meeting or at lunch, so you are offered the privilege of humiliating yourself even further by leaving a message on their voice mail. You sound polite and professional, know the whole time what a crock of shit these phone games are, and that the SOB has no intention on having the courtesy or human dignity to call you back

    So while you lose your savings, the same creditors that are impossible to reach when you need them start circling you like ravenous vultures. They are swift and venomous. You alternate between having your gas cut off, have your internet and cell shut off, as a prelude to having your car towed away and being evicted from your home. You subsist on a diet of peanut butter and cheese whiz sandwiches, look at your pet with this awful sense of guilt as you see more and more stories of people turning them in because they can’t afford to feed them anymore. That against stories of mothers who try to sell their babies for Beyoncé tickets, or others who try to give up or kill their own children, and then the thoughts of homelessness, begging, stealing, or taking your own life start to occupy your thoughts. Never one to suffer humiliation, and stealing and or killing is a form of that to me, the latter becomes the more appealing to you. I don’t know what went through Michael Ruppert’s mind that day, but his is not alone. Scores of vets and formerly middle class men seem to be following that route. The phone games are yet more signs that social and cultural collapse are gaining momentum and will likely run their course in the US

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    • michigan_native May 21, 2014 at 9:55 pm #

      Meanwhile, if only we could post youtube links, they speak for themselves. Check out Max Keiser “Down with the dollar, Petro-Ruble is on the rise via RT. Another Texas town or area has 3 months of drinking water left. California police caught on tape fatally shooting a man (Salinas, TX). Add turning from the cops to that unarmed 19 year old girl driving away from their sobriety check points to a mentally ill homeless man “illegally camping” in NM to the list of capital offenses. Your call to the funeral parlor is very important to us

    • K-Dog May 24, 2014 at 5:01 pm #

      Yup, that about sums it up. And you are finding out sanity is no fun. Like me.

  86. MisterDarling May 21, 2014 at 8:16 pm #

    It’s not all bad news;


    On has to wonder what will be left – and what will rebound – in the event that industrial fishing, logging and mining operations stop.

    I must admit that the fishing scene at the start of _World Made By Hand_ was an effective literary hook for me.

    Whether you’re a nature-worshipping vegan or avid hunter mentally toting up local ‘game stocks’, the question’s worth a few minutes time.

    • stelmosfire May 22, 2014 at 11:09 am #

      Good Day Mr. Darling, In my area the wildlife is coming back like gangbusters! Eagles, Moose, bears, mountain lion, fishers, turkey vultures, coyotes, and even wolves have been spotted around. We never had this stuff when i was a kid. I believe it is a result of all the former agriculture moving out to CA. and the Midwest and the natural return of our forests. I am in MA. by the way . The 3rd most densely populated states in the country.

  87. Reagan May 22, 2014 at 7:11 am #

    Not to worry! The liberal democrats, under the guise of caring, have a plan. It’s the Affordable Care Act. Basically, there are too many old people so care has to become so mismanaged and hard to obtain that they simply die. See how simple that is? Everyone who is living too long, say into their 70s and 80s will check out in their 60s, 50s or 40s, just like in the good old days. Think of the millions saved in social security checks, Medicare, Medicaid and so on. What a mess our country has become. Perhaps a solar flare from the Sun will give the earth a good “reboot” of sorts. In the meantime, exercise, eat less, eat better, and stay out of the medical system to the greatest extent you can.

  88. consultant13 May 22, 2014 at 11:00 am #

    Hi Jim,

    “Note also that we have contrived to make it nearly impossible to obtain our own medical records.”

    I found that out when I was trying to transfer my medical records from Kaiser to BC/BS.

    Kaiser, or a company they had outsourced this job to, wanted $100 to do this. Then, I could never get clerk on the phone after my initial conversation with them. Wtf!

    I gave up.

    My advice: download your medical records from your provider as PDFs and save them yourself.

  89. consultant13 May 22, 2014 at 11:27 am #

    Way back in 1979, when I was in graduate school, a book was published by the late Christopher Lasch, entitled The Culture of Narcissism.

    This was before Oprah, before designer jeans, before high class labels were stamped on just about everything; before everyone was made to feel that you too could be part of the 1%, just by buying this new “thing”.

    We are deep, deep into a me too culture. Despite our recent economic collapse and the 45 year unraveling of our culture and economy, people are still deeply enthralled by the class distinctions they think can be bought by owning things.

    Deep down, a lot of people WANT to be part of the 1%.

    The 1% is out to get us. Down through history the 1% has always been out to get the people.

    We’re at a perfect place of cultural suicide. If “the people” are aligned with the 1%, who are out to get them, then “the people” are fu@ked.

    People aren’t outraged, people aren’t rebelling, because the material interests of “the people” have been co-opted by the 1%.

    Walking Dead. Brain dead. Zombies. Sleeping while standing up. Call it what you want.

    We have met the enemy and it is us.

    This all will continue until the current system breaks down. Probably because of rising energy costs and the destructive power of climate change. It’s happening now and I think by the end of this decade it will be clear to all but babies and the most stupid.

    This is not going to be your parent’s are history’s great decline with violent outbursts again the real perpetrators of disenfranchisement. The game plan of the 1% will try to buy off revolution until it can’t.

    And the people will let them.

    • Janos Skorenzy May 22, 2014 at 2:21 pm #

      Just Americans are status seeking beings or humanity in general? We could have a Communist Revolution and kill millions just like the Weathermen wanted – and then what? Did that stop status seeking in the Soviet Union or Communist China? Man has to be understood as He is – not as political idealists imagine Him to be. We are Hierarchical by nature. The question is not Hierarchy or no Hierarchy but rather good Hierarchy as opposed to bad or unjust Hierarchy.

      The usual Communist dodge is to say those weren’t real Communist Nations or that the Revolution went wrong. Well give me an example where it didn’t “go wrong”? Or name one “real” Communist nation? Thus the Communism of these theorists becomes a thing of whimsy, a rare element that is never seen under normal conditions, and only briefly during extreme or unusual conditions. In other words, meaningless in terms of being a political theory for actual human being as they really are.

      So of course Americans identify with the 1% – that’s our culture. You want them to be idealists? So do I. So for that we need an Idealistic Elite with which they can identify. The Founders were Capitalists, too much so for my taste, but they were more than that as well. But over time, the worst elements have come to the fore. And the hapless people try to identify with them and thus are corrupted in turn.

  90. contrahend May 22, 2014 at 12:05 pm #

    This all will continue until the current system breaks down. Probably because of rising energy costs and the destructive power of climate change. It’s happening now and I think by the end of this decade it will be clear to all but babies and the most stupid.

    All predictions of the end of growth and resources have met with resounding non-success. Just one point in fact – energy costs from renewable resources are falling, and falling fast.

    The West finds a way to substitute one energy form for another, and, yes, develop new technology to improve the lives of everyone.

    Our ancestors would love to be in the ‘pickle’ we think we’re in.

    Good Day Mr. Darling, In my area the wildlife is coming back like gangbusters! Eagles, Moose, bears, mountain lion, fishers, turkey vultures, coyotes, and even wolves have been spotted around. We never had this stuff when i was a kid. I believe it is a result of all the former agriculture moving out to CA. and the Midwest and the natural return of our forests. I am in MA. by the way . The 3rd most densely populated states in the country.

    Pollution levels have fallen drastically in the last 4 decades as well. And solar/alt energy production is skyrocketing – Google is spending $1 billion this year alone on powering its farms via solar/renewable sources.

    The arguments of those who espouse the demise of modernity are dying by a thousand cuts.


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    • MisterDarling May 22, 2014 at 8:39 pm #

      Hello Kontrahend,

      I like to review how I ‘know’ what I think I know frequently, so I welcome a dissenting opinion. Thank you in advance.

      My response will be in two sections; first addressing energy-source substitution, the second addressing the phenomenon that is Google, et al.

      “The West finds a way to substitute one energy form for another, and, yes, develop new technology to improve the lives of everyone.”-k.

      While renewable-energy implementation is in fact skyrocketing, we must understand that clean/green/renewable energy still fulfills a tiny fraction of global demand, so its cost in comparison to a fossil-fuel dominated energy market remains trivial, along with it’s strategic impact.

      Regarding the development of new technology that supposedly improves the lives of everyone, there’s a few problems with that.

      Leaving out the glaringly obvious [*] there’s the person-on-the-street issue of having jobs that already don’t pay enough to do anything besides go broke slowly, eliminated by automation. Like Google’s ongoing project to own the transport sector, for example.

      The line most often used to assuage the masses at this point is that: “technology creates more jobs than it destroys” or something along those lines. Examples involving printing presses and blacksmiths are duly trotted out, etc.

      However – as the working public of the developed world has learned much to its chagrin – this is not true.

      Consider; when the printing press was invented more than 90% of Europe’s adult population was engaged in agricultural activities, so the number of copyists displaced by the ‘automation’ of making copies was trivial.

      Fast-forward to the advent of the automobile. A larger percentage of the population had their livelihoods disrupted, but America and the rest of the world was in the grip of a labor-hungry Industrial Revolution, so this was easily absorbed…

      Then agriculture itself was automated. A huge backlog of un- & under-employed people collected in America’s urban centers. The impact of that was never properly dealt with.

      In Summary: As the power and scope of automation increased so did the impact of the displacements, and the time interval between disruptions decreased. The result is the expanding social malaise that we live with today.

      This brings me to Google Inc…

      What is Google’s business? Google is part of the Technology sector (much as they try to redefine that space).

      As such, they are dependent upon income from advertising to the consumer, and by providing ‘Surveillance As A Service’ to various governments and organizations (willingly or not).

      So, what is that business actually? Google exists by selling out their users. They are engaged in in a direct form of economic cannibalism. They live off their clients by eliminating their privacy and exposing them to hazards.

      Since the income of their clients derives from the paychecks of The Consumer (an aggregated notion), and since these paychecks are in decline in every way quantifiable, what is Google’s strategic position? Pretty weak, most would say. Their customers are going the way of Walmart’s.

      No pivot toward government clients will sustain Google, since these governments are losing revenue themselves. Besides, once you’ve failed a population to the extent that they are in open revolt, the usefulness of knowing their shopping preferences (or even all the habits of their formerly settled, boring lives) is rendered moot.

      Yes, I have also heard about Google Inc. investing “1 billion” a year into renewables, but comparison to the magnitude of the issue (maintaining the growth of global civilization, bearing in mind that without solid growth it collapses, starting with the Finance Sector) this is insignificant for any purpose other than PR.

      Don’t get me wrong. I’m thoroughly in support of renewable energy implementation, but I choose to be pragmatic about my mental portfolio of conceptual models and ideas.

      If conversion had started in a big way in the late 90’s [**] then we wouldn’t be hashing this out, and our prospects would be different. But that would have required that us to be different people, have different leadership, etc.

      In short, while it is nice to be reminded that these opinions exist, they aren’t of much use beyond keeping the masses huddled (being figurative here) just long enough to lock them below-decks.


      — — —

      [*] like ‘Technology’ affording all of us the ‘improvement’ of having our lives extinguished, along with all multi-cellular life on this planet, via nuclear conflagration.

      [**] we can fantasize about what the world would look like if a trillion usd had gone into alternative-energy research and implementation – instead of bailing-out Lone-Term Capital Management – on a certain weekend back in 1997, but the very idea that anyone other than Wall-Streeters getting that kind of money flies in the face of everything that we’ve learned America is really about since 2008.

  91. volodya May 22, 2014 at 1:06 pm #

    MisterDarling, I’ve had the same thought, that if these oligarchs think they can live apart and above the rest of society they are seriously delusional. And yes they are well and truly screwed without that cash so you then have to question, why oh why are they destroying the financial institutions that sustain them?

    They think they have “power”. Well. Did you happen to see that movie Nicholas and Alexandra? It was about the last Russian Czar. There were scenes of Czar Nick and wife Alex in the palace where splendidly uniformed guards would stand rigidly at attention in front of massive doorways to open the doors as the royals passed through. But then there was the Bolshevik revolution.

    A later scene showed the Czar and his wife in a palace. And in place of spendidly uniformed and disciplined guards there were ragged and un-washed bolshies looking at them insolently.

    So what happened to the Czar’s “power”? Suddenly the Czar had none. The people failed to line up and die to defend the Russian social and economic order. And why should they have? Inevitably, given the deprivation and death they were responsible for, the Czar and his family got shot.

    Chinese elites are beastly in their behavior but they’ve at least learned some of the lessons of history. Mainly that they are massively outnumbered and, as such, there has to be popular buy-in or their regime will be as doomed as the Russian Czar’s. This is what our current crop of western elites don’t get.

    And so the Chinese upper-crust may be accumulating billions for themselves but at the same time they know enough to distribute some of the wealth, to make life better and give people hope that things will improve, that the seamstress in the sweatshop and the migrant laborer on a construction site literally working their fingers to the bone won’t be skinny and hungry their whole lives.

    Our oligarchs have the lesson exactly in reverse, unlike their Chinese counterparts, they think that they’re omnipotent, that they can screw and impoverish people, that they can crash the world and continue to live extravagant lives while everyone else’s gets worse and worse.

    It just ain’t so but our oligarchs can’t see it and this blindness is a constant source of amazement to me.

    I’ve also said it, that financial “wealth” as evidenced by things like fund statements, stock certificates, legal documents, all signed and sealed with all the flourishes and flowery language and carried about in expensive briefcases by over-paid Manhattan lawyers aren’t worth the paper they’re written on absent governing organizations and armed force that give them effect.

    Confiscation of deposits? You bet. At least at first. But then, when the banking system collapses as surely it will, there won’t be enough lifetimes on the planet to unravel the mess. And what of Washington without money? Can you picture the Capitol Building falling to ruin?

    Can you picture it? I can picture it, like a scene out of 5th Century Europe, a squinty-eyed, hard-faced overseer saying to the lungless, flaccid, pink and bewildered, formerly wealthy man looking for work that no, we can’t help you, you’re too soft to be of use. Hit the road.

    • Janos Skorenzy May 22, 2014 at 2:36 pm #

      Ah, a hard core Communist. The Bolsheviks were clever devils, no argument on that. And the Czar was a good man but only an extraordinary man could have countered them at that point. He make one mistake after another – one of the biggest was to call out the dragoons a huge demonstration by people who loved him. Some say he wasn’t the one who did it but no matter, it was done. Later he became depressed and abdicated – another mistake since most still supported him. And then he was left defenseless and you thugs raped his daughters and butchered him and his family.

      A mistake btw since that made him into a Martyr. Lenin was heard screaming at Trotsky for ordering his execution. But I guess the temptation was just too great. The stupid scum actually shot them down in a pit and the ricochets hit several of them.

      I agree about our Elite btw. They will go down in history as the worst of all time. Not just the American either but the whole West. They are seeking to replace their own people with more tractable desperate people – and to mix us out of existence with them. You can’t go lower than that, but that is exactly what your philosophy leads to. Why the difference? Do you really want to know? Because the Chinese have thrown off that aspect of Communist ideology. They are Nationalists AND Racialists who take pride in China’s culture and history – and believe in their own genetic Chinese people.

    • BackRowHeckler May 22, 2014 at 6:16 pm #

      The Bolsheviks were hard men, and proud of it. This is what defined them, above all. ‘Stalin’ means ‘steel’, and Molotov means ‘hammer’ Not softies like the Romanovs, with their blue blood diseases and cloistered lives. Vlad is correc;, they were shot down like dogs and unceremoniously thrown into a pit, even the little ones.


    • MisterDarling May 22, 2014 at 7:06 pm #

      “And yes they are well and truly screwed without that cash so you then have to question, why oh why are they destroying the financial institutions that sustain them?” -v.

      Indeed… If you’re fortunate enough to be born rich enough to never _have_ to work, you still have one economic function to fulfill, Just One Job to do here on planet Earth, and that is to understand what Value is – and act accordingly.

      The problem with the current crop of scions is that they’re completely disconnected from understanding what their Wealth ‘is’.

      And what about the rest? The ones not born into it? What’s their excuse?

      “They think they have “power”. Well. Did you happen to see that movie Nicholas and Alexandra? It was about the last Russian Czar. There were scenes of Czar Nick and wife Alex in the palace where splendidly uniformed guards would stand rigidly at attention in front of massive doorways to open the doors as the royals passed through. But then there was the Bolshevik revolution.” -v.

      Well then, Wealth is not Power, is it?

      Here’s a current example: During the recent civil-society collapse in Michoacán State (Mexico, naturally) the vigilante-militia broke into an abandoned drug-lord’s villa (one of many).

      The villa was 80% filled with boxes of cash – US dollars & euros – discarded like yesterday’s trash to the vigilante mob, to buy the ‘lord’ time enough to flee…

      The problem for the drug-lord (or warlord, or corporate grifter) is that his or her power comes from Wealth, and Wealth needs a context, a framework, to be translated into power.

      If you are foolish enough to eliminate that, then what?


  92. MisterDarling May 22, 2014 at 1:12 pm #

    What an inbound ICBM looks like on a clear summer night;


    . . . well, that’s comforting… /s

    [actually, I’m posting this here for a little ‘comic relief’ and to establish a baseline that may help to manage our expectations… look at it this way: a Lone Emergency can be infinitely preferable to a 45-minute emergency… cheerio!]

    • MisterDarling May 22, 2014 at 1:35 pm #

      Correction: make that “a Long Emergency”…


  93. progress4what May 22, 2014 at 1:16 pm #

    Nice piece of work for the week, JHK. Thanks, as always.

    And you’ve elicited some good responses – some very good ones. And the ones that stick out in my mind (to which I cannot link or make reference, because they are marooned forever on the first comment page) are those that link huge corporate interests with patient “service” that is designed to discourage patients and make them eventually go away or die.

    But let me suggest a couple of other ideas, and broaden the issues to customer service in general, beyond the medical field.

    Call screening is nothing new. My car insurance agent was a personal friend for several years – and his semi-stated policy to his office staff was that every customer got three calls through to him personally – regardless of reasons. But that after that, calls went through to him for specific business reasons, only. This was in the ’80’s, keep in mind, and my friend the agent said, “90% of customers want to talk to me for a purpose. Helping those people is my job, and puts bread on my table. BUT, the other 10% of callers would take up ALL my time, if I let them. And they would take up my time for very little reason at all.”

    The ratios of purposeful to non-purposeful callers may be even worse, today. And these ratios may be worse for medical callers – where the stakes can be life and death, and a lot of people have few social resources, and thus are prone to make medical related phone calls just for “reassurance,” or to hear a real human voice on the phone.

    There’s also a demographic skew to medical callers. They may trend older, dumber, sicker, and poorer – than the average demographic in the US.

    And that last sentence wasn’t intended to be insulting to you, JHK, or anyone else.

    But – if you really need those records – then you’ll probably want to send a certified letter to the proper department(s) with the required funds required to copy those records. And then you will want to wait . for a period of time. And then you will want to find an attorney to repeat those steps. Rinse and repeat for a while – and medical records will begin to fill your mailbox! Maybe.

  94. MisterDarling May 22, 2014 at 2:24 pm #

    “As we noted previously, it’s never different this time”…


    From the Kunstlerian viewpoint, it’s further indication of a crisis in capital formation… From the Orlovian, it’s a triggering event.

  95. K-Dog May 22, 2014 at 4:23 pm #

    “If you have a theory about all this, please offer it up in the Comments department.”

    I only offered a theory about the mental machinations of lunatics.

    The reason medicine is a racketeering matrix is because it supports a parasitical cabal of bureaucrats that grows ever thicker over time like a thick patina of toxic bacterial overgrowth.

    If the majority of people in the health care industry were actually health care providers the situation would be very different. In that situation the need for crookedness would vanish. But involve bureaucracy and new ways must ever be concocted to make money. Racketeering sneaks in the back door like a bad Santa.

    The biggest racketeering matrix being the insurance companies who game the system to skim cash to lavishly support an elaborate bloated syndicate of grifters. Taking but not giving; all to allegedly save money. Theirs of course, but if they can they will have you think yours.

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    • ozone May 22, 2014 at 5:26 pm #

      “The biggest racketeering matrix being the insurance companies who game the system to skim cash to lavishly support an elaborate bloated syndicate of grifters. Taking but not giving; all to allegedly save money. Theirs of course, but if they can they will have you think yours.” — K-Dog

      Damn, K-Dog! Once again, yourself and Kunstler bring up the issues of trust and who we might parcel it out to (parsimoniously, to be sure)! …Or maybe, withhold it from. Yes, I can give you a glaring f’r’instance:
      Would you place your trust and confidence in a person who pushed all their roulette-table chips on the green felt segment, marked, BRAZIL as a fat and final paradise to wallow in? Then why should we trust in or have confidence about any of their other pronouncements that have an inseparable basis in their “finely-honed and eminently accurate” critical thought processes (and, in conjunction, “carefully considered” predictions of the future)?

      Just a small spark for thought (and [justifiably] finely-honed suspicion).

  96. MisterDarling May 22, 2014 at 5:41 pm #

    Oh, this is *b e a u t i f u l* /s


    = de-dollarization accelerates.

    • ozone May 22, 2014 at 5:52 pm #

      Sooooooooo…. what now do we denominate our [formerly] opium-backed contracts in?

      • MisterDarling May 22, 2014 at 6:44 pm #

        And what how will they deal with the backlog in Talabani and al-Haqqani chieftain’s cash that they’re laundering?

        [That wicket could get sticky mighty fast. Those folks want what they want].

        This actually caught my eye because it’s the (figurative) cherry on top of the ludicrous history of Afghanistan’s national bank.

        One highlight: a few years back, following Wall Street’s example, the bank board-members and all their relatives and tribal affiliates looted and crashed the bank, which was duly recapitalized on the US taxpayer’s dime… So they could go back to work laundering money and managing 3rd-party transactions for the people US/NATO/ISAF troops were purportedly in-country to eradicate.

        It just keeps getting better.


  97. rapier May 22, 2014 at 7:00 pm #

    I don’t believe capitalism really exists as a real ism. Whatever is happening at the current moment that makes wealthy people wealthy is called capitalism. Not that I am a fan or capitalism or any ism. Isms always fail because humans fail. Humans cannot devise a perfect system but even if they could the system would fail from corruption and human failure.

    The current operation of capitalism is pretty much just a handful of methods to inflate asset prices. Note that the sacred free market of financial assets, the supposed foundation of capitalism, is completely dependent upon central bank manipulation and management. That none of the beneficiaries seem to see the contradiction perhaps says more about human failure than anything. If you can believe we actually have a free market in debt then you can believe anything.

    Still, in general I think JK is too harsh judging people. Most humans simply accept the world they are born into. Try to get by and make the best of it. Even be happy and let the powerful and the dissatisfied do their things. Or not be happy and make a mess of their lives but that’s human too, under any ‘system’.

    • BackRowHeckler May 22, 2014 at 7:28 pm #

      Nice bit of common sense wisdom there Rapier. Good on you.

    • MisterDarling May 23, 2014 at 3:14 am #


      “I don’t believe capitalism really exists as a real ism. Whatever is happening at the current moment that makes wealthy people wealthy is called capitalism.” -r.

      combined with:

      “The current operation of capitalism is pretty much just a handful of methods to inflate asset prices. Note that the sacred free market of financial assets, the supposed foundation of capitalism, is completely dependent upon central bank manipulation and management.”-r.

      I rather like these… Nicely done.

  98. Urinthe Village May 22, 2014 at 9:47 pm #

    Try doing something like unsubscribing to anything you pay for every month. . I moved recently, and was delighted I would get to cancel my satellite TV service. The phone tree emphasizes (during the early options, 1-7), adding services, locales, devices etc. You have to wait a long time to hear any reference to “cancelling” your subscription. When you get to that be prepared for a long wait – by the clock 45 minutes. On my first two tries, I gave up at 20-30 minutes. I tired an experiment: Instead of hitting the key for “cancel” I hit the key for “add premium channels.” Guess what? A cheerful, zippy, English speaking female answered almost immediately. On a final re-try to cancel, I waited the aforementioned 45 minutes, and got a surly (and stupid) male responder who was full of questions like, “Why come for you don’t need our services at the new address?” (Seriously; that’s verbatim.) I replied it was none of his business, “Why come for?” and he put me on terminal hold with annoying announcements playing endlessly, and I gave up and hung up. Later, after another 45 minute wait, I got a different functionary, made up reasons why I didn’t need the service- (roommate already has ___ service) and finally got it cancelled.
    It works – that’s why they do it. Why do we put up with it? What’s the alternative? No choices remain between services, as the capitalist model would dictate there should be Everything is either an overt or de facto monopoly.

  99. Joe Niederberger May 23, 2014 at 2:05 am #

    Here’s a real simple theory. Public outrage and protest are pretty much ineffectual now. The press, blogosphere, what-have-you either ridicules, or ignores, anything that cuts too close to the bone. Its really that simple. Its not cool to be outraged. Everything has to be “cheery” , positive, “oh-oh-oh” like all the pop commercial jingles of the age, to be socially acceptable. The new generation doesn’t want conflict. Negativity is uncool. Criticism is uncool.

    Here’s a true story. As the twin towers burned on 9/11/2001, I was watching from an outlook in AH New Jersey, at the parking lot of the Hofbrauhaus (sadly gone.) A radio report had on a man who narrowly escaped death climbing down the stair case of one of the towers. It was a dramatic real time report. The girl whose radio it was, reacted to the man saying “I thought I was dead!”, by exclaiming “That’s so negative! (imagine the upspeak.)

    We’ve expunged outrage from our society, because, you know, like, “it’s so negative!”

    Joe N

    • Janos Skorenzy May 23, 2014 at 5:00 am #

      And is this unrelated to the rise of Women in the workplace and positions of power? They love the superficial. Their favorite word? Perfect.

    • MisterDarling May 23, 2014 at 4:26 pm #


      Apropos of public disconnects, official cognitive failings and a certain day inside the twin-towers, here’s this:


      It’s by Rebecca Solnit. She’s one of our better public intellectuals and people of action.

      An excerpt;

      “The moral of this story: people in power and bureaucrats seem exceptionally obtuse when it comes to recognizing that the world has changed and the old rules no longer apply…” — Rebecca.

  100. Pucker May 23, 2014 at 7:44 am #

    There’s an ad on California TV for another class action suit. Apparently, some Big Pharma company has been selling a drug that makes men and young boys grow Big Tits. If any CFNer males have Big Tits and are unhappy with this situation (some may not be?), you can call Tel: 1 800 988 5419.

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    • MisterDarling May 23, 2014 at 4:13 pm #

      This is so random & absurd… Thanks for posting this Pucker! 🙂

  101. contrahend May 23, 2014 at 11:23 am #

    Would you place your trust and confidence in a person who pushed all their roulette-table chips on the green felt segment, marked, BRAZIL as a fat and final paradise to wallow in?

    Who said anything about final? Or all the chips? I have lived in several countries, and plan on living in several more.

    Only persons of limited ability, desire and discipline fail to take advantage of opportunities the world holds.

    It’s nice to make up facts to support one’s arguments, but it only works for an instant, then crumbles when any light is cast on them.

    Then why should we trust in or have confidence about any of their other pronouncements that have an inseparable basis in their “finely-honed and eminently accurate” critical thought processes (and, in conjunction, “carefully considered” predictions of the future)?

    I merely cite alt energy facts, e.g. Sunpower and Google producing enough solar electricity to power 240,000 homes. And Brazil using renewable hydropower to generate 84% of its electricity cleanly.

    That is the present, by the way, and utterly confounds the arguments by the acolytes of doom which give me such a good chuckle.

    Greece in April was marvellous, by the way. A truly civilized place. Marked by a distinct lack of JHK-predicted riots and unrest. Very polite, educated populace. Almost everyone is multilingual, and the prices were very reasonable.

    I am thinking of buying a house in Mykonos, prices are down due to the depressed economy. The island of Santorini is worth a visit as well.


    • K-Dog May 23, 2014 at 1:29 pm #

      Could I suggest the island of Makronisos. I think it would be an appropriate choice for you.

    • K-Dog May 23, 2014 at 1:36 pm #

      “Only persons of limited ability, desire and discipline fail to take advantage of opportunities the world holds.”

      This is the statement of a sick puppy.

      • Being There May 23, 2014 at 4:01 pm #

        This is the statement of a sick puppy.

        No K-Dog, It’s jingoism for neoliberalism, It’s about “entrepreuneurship” and free markets that don’t exist for us. These propagandists are trying to put the burden on those who aren’t part of the graft we call an economy here.

        With more consolidation than ever we’ll see what kind of wonderful opportunities there are for people.

        Don’t you love some of the other memes, as propaganda too?

        I just love the free market where the folks aren’t allowed to know whether their food has GMOs , Not allowed to know what chemicals are used in fracking, not allowed to know who’s paying $$$ into a candidates’ campaigns, not allowed to know how many tax $$ are being paid to the privatized companies for the NSA, not allowed to know about what our NGOs are doing in other countries, like fomenting coups, ($5billion for the Ukraine “spring”)

        Oh dear, I can go on and on…….Oh, but you can carry a gun–OK, that’s freedom, liberty and free markets. mhmmm.

        • K-Dog May 24, 2014 at 5:05 pm #

          Jingoism for neoliberalism and also something only a self-centered sociopathic narcissistic asshat would say.

      • Janos Skorenzy May 23, 2014 at 7:27 pm #

        Well it’s an amoral statement in and of itself. On the other hand, free enterprise is important since equal treatment of unequal people is tyranny. We need people to do for themselves to some degree at least. I grant you that the System is against such benign capitalism at this point.

        • K-Dog May 24, 2014 at 5:08 pm #

          “It’s an amoral statement in and of itself.”

          Exactly !

    • MisterDarling May 23, 2014 at 5:28 pm #

      “It’s nice to make up facts to support one’s arguments, but it only works for an instant, then crumbles when any light is cast on them.” -k.

      Precisely, Kontrahend.

      “I merely cite alt energy facts, e.g. Sunpower and Google producing enough solar electricity to power 240,000 homes. And Brazil using renewable hydropower to generate 84% of its electricity cleanly.”

      It’s not enough to be able to say: ‘good things are happening.

      Plenty of ‘good things’ happen in a failing project, company, war, civilization. The point being that more good than bad needs to happen in each case, for success to happen.

      So, in the case of Google – which arguably has the largest collection of people talented in every way that the world has ever seen in one private-sector employer – revenue comes from people consuming, and people can’t consume if they have no discretionary income.

      Now, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has made a habit of telling people ‘good things are happening’ every month.

      They tell the world that the USA made “192,000” new jobs in one month this year (a real stat.) without mentioning that 75,000 of those jobs are made-up, automatically generated jobs that are _assumed_ to be there in the BLS birth-death model (which has been repudiated even by the BLS) but they leave it in the monthly calculation for the yokel-assuaging propaganda value.

      When you subtract the 75k from the 192k fantasy-figure you wind up with 117,000 jobs created, which is tragically below the break-even number needed to keep pace with actual population growth.

      Ie., nothing good happened that month – or the 80+ months that preceded it. Jobs were net lost that month, not gained.

      Since the US economy was (and still is) 70 or more percent consumer-based, this essentially means that the US economy is f*cked… b@ll$ d33p.

      By the way, this isn’t doom-saying, this is *math*.

      The fact that Google is saying that it’s putting “1 billion us dollars” into renewable energy development doesn’t mean a lot, considering the magnitude of the issue.

      But in a way, it is moot. Because – thanks in part to Google – it will have eliminated more jobs quicker than it created replacements and put itself out of business (in the conventional sense) before all it’s supposed charitable work can have a significant impact.

      Besides, how seriously is the critical-skills possessing public suppose to take a corporation that can’t be bothered to pay more than 3.5% corporate tax?

      If Google was serious about the issue they’d at least donate most of their yearly tax savings – which would be more than “1 billion” united states dollars.

      This is why this corporate ‘generosity’ isn’t… It’s a PR stunt.

      Regarding the general trend;

      When Walmart – biggest private employer in the world and biggest retailer in the world – is “falling apart” for lack of consumers, then the proverbial snake really is eating its tail, and Google is in the same boat.

  102. contrahend May 23, 2014 at 5:06 pm #

    Could I suggest the island of Makronisos. I think it would be an appropriate choice for you.

    Those who can’t argue on fact resort to names. As always, your rationale is a castle of nothingness built on a foundation of wind. A beggar’s banquet of ideas.

    It’s nice to blame others – or ‘neoliberalism’, whatever that may be – for your inability to get out of Amerika and see some of what the rest of the world has to offer. Or to advance yourself.

    The world around you is progressing rapidly. Alternative energy didn’t exist 50 years ago, now it’s everywhere and growing rapidly in installed capacity and profitability, replacing millions of barrels of oil every month. It must really hurt to see such progress. We know you’ll deny it and fight it at every turn.

    Even as it powers your home and business and car, and maybe gives you a job and some income.

    With more consolidation than ever we’ll see what kind of wonderful opportunities there are for people.

    Lots of opportunities for scientists, linguists, technologists, do-it-yourselfers. The world has passed factory workers by – no dig intended, just the truth.

    I think I’ll take a break from this morbid board & surround myself with successful people, it’s very tiring attempting to reason with folks that can’t see the forest for the trees. Yes, oil is slowly running out. Yes, it is being replaced thru an all-encompassing and highly successful effort to implement alt energy.

    Speaking of success, here is a rather successful guy worth listening to:



    • ozone May 23, 2014 at 8:31 pm #

      Well, if you’re not too tired, listen to the Kunstlercast and get an earful of the many things that sharply contradict your magical thinking. (Or would that be “too negative”?)

      Your mouthing of surface advancements that neglect notice of the eroding structures beneath (that make those advancements possible) is misleading and unhelpful. Is that the mission? I ain’t tired or even sleepy; there are things to do and options to consider.

      Anything wonky in this regard?


      Keep it movin’ pal, it’s the American way.

      • K-Dog May 24, 2014 at 12:53 am #

        A wonky link it is. No legal review or constitutional authority needed apparently. Looks like trial by phone tree is even going to be skipped on this one. But then the IRS always does like to do their own thing.

        Could this be next? Government dogs stealing your bones. It’s disgusting.

    • K-Dog May 24, 2014 at 12:22 am #

      Well whatever island you choose I’m sure you’ll find a mirror smooth pond with which to contemplate your reflection. I’ve no doubt you will like what you see. I think you will probably love it. And all the cares and externalities of the exterior world will be far away in a universe unrevealed to your blissful dream. Lost you will be in rapture. Yes, an island suits you.

  103. stelmosfire May 23, 2014 at 6:21 pm #

    Totally off topic but I need to vent. I was on my way to the local small market where I shop. I stop at a crosswalk for a young mother pushing a baby carriage. The a## in the rotted old Ford Explorer tailgating me attempts to pass me at about 50 MPH on the left, crossing the double yellow, and almost takes out the mom and baby. I yell at him and then meet him at the next light. I ask him if he knows how to drive and he tells me I am a d###bag and I should not stop in the road for pedestrians. Tells me I don’t know who I am messing with! Full sleeve tattoos of course. It was all I could do to keep from grabbing the hockey stick from the back of the Tacoma and going all Jack Nicholson on his car. He probably had a Glock under the seat so I shut my yap and continued on my way. This is our society today! Sickening.

    • Janos Skorenzy May 23, 2014 at 7:33 pm #

      Oh come on, it’s not that bad. It’s half time in Detroit. Once Blacks and Browns are able to get rid of Whites, this will be a great country again. It’s amazing how much those Pinkies were able to do – but only because they stole the knowledge of the Black Man. When Blacks and Browns are in charge, America will colonize Space and Rap will be played on Mars. Any remaining Whites will have to leave or become slaves on the mines of the asteroid belt.

    • stelmosfire May 23, 2014 at 8:15 pm #

      On a side note. I relayed this short story to the wife. Her temper runs about 80 degrees hotter than mine. She said she would have tuned that sum-bitch up. But that is just her Italian hot talk. She thinks she lives in Soprano world! All 110 lbs of her !

  104. beantownbill. May 23, 2014 at 11:36 pm #

    It is natural to mistake rapid societal change for collapse. We’re approaching the steep edge of the exponential curve, and many of the old ways are disappearing – to the dismay of people who want to go back to the way things used to be. Unfortunately, that’s most unlikely.
    Where we go from here, nobody knows, but I am optimistic whatever shakes out will be for the better for those who survive the trip through the keyhole.

    • K-Dog May 24, 2014 at 1:10 am #

      But but but?

      The steep edge of an exponential curve forebodes disaster. Where we go from here nobody knows, that’s true. But when the cannibals cook you does it really matter if your boiled, deep fried, or slow roasted on a spit? Exponential curves with Seneca cliffs don’t usually lead to sunny meadows with hopping bunnies.

      What do you say about those who don’t survive the trip through the keyhole. Fuck em? And those who do may find the earth reduced to a desolate radioactive desert. I would not call that shaking out well for anyone!

  105. MisterDarling May 24, 2014 at 12:39 am #

    Apropos of most of what J H K’s been writing about for the past five years, here’s an article from the trenches of a ‘world (going to be) made by hand’;


    Ms. Sonnenblume has actually been engaged in small-scale farming, first in an urban setting (Portland, OR) and then in the Willamette Valley, in what used to be a major source of American food production (mainly xmas-tree farms now for reasons that she explains).

    There’s this idea that people will just ‘fan out’ into the countryside in event of a supply-chain collapse and feed themselves.

    Ms. Sonnenblume has an interesting report to bring to the table about that.

    It’s useful information from a SWOT-analysis standpoint.

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    • K-Dog May 24, 2014 at 1:31 am #

      Learning to grow your own has a non trivial learning curve. Your article told me to leave my parsnips in the ground (if they ever come up) till a few freezes go by. I did not know that.

      Tired soil and lack of infrastructure are big issue as Ms. Sonnenblume says; but as she points out: “The average age of an Oregon farmer is 67.” This means we may find ourselves living in a real life Idiocracy very soon. In that all too relevant movie people had forgotten that plants need water.

      • Being There May 24, 2014 at 9:36 am #

        Yes, K-Dog

        The late Matthew Simmons bemoaned the fact that our engineering class is aging and the next generation is scarce. People aren’t being trained to keep the aging infrastructure of the oil industry up and it’s not just here in the USA.

        Last night I watched “Vice” on HBO and listened to the first segment concerning Fukushima. It showed the actual explosion of the reactor, so the viewers can see the similarity with an atomic bomb. Scary indeed and to make matters worse, they have no idea how to contain the radioactive material.

        2 things happening at once.

        1)The containers are leaking, both radioactive soil and water cannot be contained. Pure good water is being turned into radioactive water and is leaking out of hastily built containers into the ocean.

        2) The govt is shutting journalists out and lying to the people and the world. The congress is beginning to look a lot like ours….This is not good for Japan or the rest of us.

        • beantownbill. May 24, 2014 at 10:19 am #

          Did you read Nicole Foss’ article on water issues posted on the Automatic Earth? Very interesting. Since I am bombarded daily with details of looming catastrophic problems, I didn’t get shook up about her article re very poor water management and climate change. Another brick in the wall behind which we cower. I wonder what overwhelming issue will crop up today?

          • K-Dog May 24, 2014 at 4:07 pm #

            YOu must mean this one Physical Limits to Food Security: Water and Climate. It is the third article down as I write this. I’ll check it out and the new ‘overwhelming issue’ that cropped up there too. The new lead article is A Picture of the New America, it looks good from the summary lead-in on the home page.

          • K-Dog May 24, 2014 at 4:53 pm #

            Read it, pretty interesting. I snagged this from it:

            Shijiazhuang, China — Hundreds of feet below ground, the primary water source for this provincial capital of more than two million people is steadily running dry. The underground water table is sinking about four feet a year. Municipal wells have already drained two-thirds of the local groundwater. Above ground, this city in the North China Plain is having a party. Economic growth topped 11% last year. Population is rising. A new upscale housing development is advertising waterfront property on lakes filled with pumped groundwater. Another half-built complex, the Arc de Royal, is rising above one of the lowest points in the city’s water table. “People who are buying apartments aren’t thinking about whether there will be water in the future,” said Zhang Zhongmin, who has tried for 20 years to raise public awareness about the city’s dire water situation….

            Party on like it’s the end of the world and pretending it’s not. They have their cheese-puff equivalents and are munching away.

            This is what happens when the monkeys that came down from the trees experience peak resource exploitation. It appears to be a pattern. Peak exploitation brings peak prosperity but also peak doom as the next change leaves the monkeys scratching their heads wondering what happened as all the bricks in their wall fall down.

      • Janos Skorenzy May 24, 2014 at 2:09 pm #

        Ozone is Jacksonian Man. You are a European style socialist. You two might not get along in person. Hating the same people isn’t a sure fire basis for friendship.

        Yes, a very good movie. They had people believing that water was just for toilets. Exactly like believing that race doesn’t matter.
        Pay attention to the intro: one of the few odes to the genetic basis of IQ in popular culture.

    • ozone May 24, 2014 at 9:47 am #

      Thanks for linking to that sober and realistic article. The poisoning of formerly productive croplands should be an alarming development, but I guess “they’ll think of something” to instantly ameliorate that… right?

      K-Dog, if possible (needs-wise), leave them ‘snips in the ground all winter. I grow ’em in the center of the raised bed where root rotting frost from the sides is less likely, pile about a foot and a half of mulch on top in the Fall and dig them up in early March before they start to grow again. An incredibly sweet treat of a fresh veggie before Spring has even sprung!
      ** Nice processing tip: Peel and cook (steam) to fork tender and puree in the Cuisinart. A bit of butter and wow! (Can be frozen for future in this form easily too.)

      • ozone May 24, 2014 at 10:01 am #

        …And, MrDarling, that’s the first appropriate use of the image of “bringing ___ to the table” I’ve seen in a long, loooong, Orwellian time! 😉
        May the Newspeakers be basted in their own drippings.

  106. Karah May 24, 2014 at 10:14 am #

    called blue cross blueshield and got a guy introducing himself as a doctor in chicago. i asked what kind of doc and he said four years of school in the dominican republic.


    he could not answer my specific policy questions and transfered me to a guy in florida.

    i asked what i could generally expect to pay in a doc office:


    he said if i needed help paying for insurance i would have to wait until november for the next open enrollment.

    until then they would be happy to take my 200$ a month.

    healthcare in this country is a complete scam.

    • beantownbill. May 24, 2014 at 10:26 am #

      Karl Denninger has been harping on this subject for a long time on his Market-Ticker blog. If you go over to his website and can figure out how to access his archives about health care, you will learn everything you need to know about the subject: that the whole industry is a massive criminal enterprise.

      • Being There May 24, 2014 at 12:05 pm #

        That’s why it’s so expensive and so ineffective.

  107. Thoughts4us May 24, 2014 at 10:20 am #

    Callous indifference is rampant regarding “customer service”. My experience is that you will get a human on the phone if you choose the “pay my bill” option. If you would like attention, try not paying your bill and miraculously they will come to you touting messages of “caring”, “customer service” or other some such catch phrase.

    It appears quite blatantly about money and money alone. Patients in the eyes of a “doctor” really only represent a series of reimbursements. There is no regard for your “health” and if no template medical remedy can be applied, your “healthcare professional” is flummoxed.

    Fee’s are little more than subjective ego fueled whims and have little to no basis in fact and that is why there are such wide variations in fees with “costs” which cannot be documented. Questioning them will result in an arrogant emotional tirade with no bearing on your request or you will be politely guided into an endless waiting game of speaking with an authority that doesn’t exist.

    The humanity has now departed even from healthcare and as elsewhere remains only a series of mechanically applied externally produced tasks to create financial transactions. There is no caring and if a cure or recovery is achieved it is incidental. Skill and craft are largely things of the past and in as much as they exist today, are artifacts of personalities driven by ego.

    It is not about you, even if your the one paying. Nice, isn’t it?

  108. beantownbill. May 24, 2014 at 10:52 am #

    I still remember very well when I got chicken pox at the age of 3. I broke out in an extensive rash, had a fever and felt lousy. My mother called our family physician (except he wasn’t called this, he was “the doctor”). He fitted us in to his driving schedule for the day and made a house call. He stood me up on the kitchen table, examined my body, and declared I had chicken pox. He told my mother what to do. Then he made to leave on his rounds. My mother said, ” Wait! What do I owe you?” Without turning around as he approached the door, he made a dismissive gesture with his hand, and left.

    Can you imagine the procedure I would have to go through today if I had chicken pox? Change works both ways, it can be beneficial or it can be onerous.

    My family loved Dr. Miller. In the next 60+ years, I’ve never had a physician like him. Hew died of a heart attack at age 50.

    • BackRowHeckler May 24, 2014 at 10:59 pm #

      My doctor recently passed away age 46. He was a great guy and will be sorely missed. I couldn’t believe it. He was a stickler on what he ate (“knock off eating those steaks. And lay off the beer”) and was always out jogging around town, a real health nut. But he came down with melanoma and was swept away within the year. a real tragedy.

      My neighbor is an MD, specilializes in luekemia, I see how hard she works, on call all the time, going into her office or the hospital every day, always worried about her patients. And that doesn’t mean she won’t take time to help out a neighbor in need either. One sunday my little nephew fell and got a piece of glass lodged in his knee. It was bleeding like hell. She was having friends over but came out, removed the glass, cleaned the wound and bandaged it up. She said we should still take him to the ER, which we did. The ER technician asked who did the excellent of patching the kid up.

      Doctors are special people, at least the ones I know.


      • stelmosfire May 25, 2014 at 7:46 am #

        Marlin, There are excellent doctors out there. Millions. They actually care about people. I have known many. Funny people and down to earth . They don’t see people as objects ,but as people needing quality care. I always did my best to be compassionate but occasionally you come across an uncouth ahole. Still you treat them with respect and hope their varnish will wear a litttle thin and they will come around. Sometimes it does not work. However if they are in enough pain they usually cry out for help. Just my two cents.

  109. NewJerseyMan99 May 24, 2014 at 11:16 am #

    Well, basically everything in this country is a scam. It’s as simple as that. In a culture where compassion has been banished to make way for unbridled greed and hatred, the type of misfortune that befell you is extremely common.

    Family members exploit and steal from one another, schools destroy the intellectual capacities of their students, while raking in obscene profits, and doctors purposefully mismanage their patients’ health to save costs and keep their patients sick and in need of further costly medical care. That’s where America is as a society. It’s only going to get worse.

    I’ve had similar experiences with so-called doctors. Many of them turned out to be quacks, and most of the ones that weren’t didn’t get about my health at all. I recently had major surgery, and the insurance company sent me home as soon as the surgery was done (since it refused to pay for the hospital stay), even though I couldn’t walk, talk, or swallow. That same night, I had to return to the hospital, or else I would have died. I had to fight the insurance company to pay for the hospital stay, even though my policy clearly covers such stays. In the hospital, I was treated with horrendous abusiveness by the majority of the nurses. Most of those that weren’t abusive were immigrants, those who have not yet been infected with American “culture”.

    I am sorry that you went through this. Yet another reason to emigrate.

  110. contrahend May 24, 2014 at 12:00 pm #

    Your mouthing of surface advancements…

    Is that what you call the ability to live mostly disease free, travel without restriction, have physical comfort at your fingertips, communicate across time and space, have access to unlimited learning and knowledge, food to excess and untold wealth in comparison to your forbears?

    Yes, these are nothing but surface advancements. Nice euphamism for real progress in the living standards of the earth’s inhabitants. It’s just “surface” stuff, hasn’t helped at all improve people’s lives, has it?

    Because, you know, there’s a calamity always just around the corner. it just never seems to arrive. Wait…it’s coming by 2016 “at the latest”.

    Always gotta denigrate factual accomplishments and point out that the sky is falling, you’ve got nothing else to back you up. All the while you take advantage of all that modernity has enriched your life by. Do you drive a horse-drawn carriage? Do you eat willow tree bark, or take aspirin? Say you like modern plumbing? It’s wasteful , you know, and water’s running out. Bet you still use it though, right?

    Problems with nature, energy, disease etc. are nothing new, they have always accompanied mankind. But mankind is winning, thanks to science, by any objective measure.

    We are in the age of energy ascent, thanks to surface advancements in alt energy. Investment in alt energy was some $250 billion in 2011.

    All wasted money, or course, everyone knows alternative renewable energy will never help solve the demise of oil in the slightest.

    You guys really put all those companies, research facilities, scientists and quarter trillion dollar per year of investment to shame.

    Good work.

    Back in the real world, progress abounds:



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    • K-Dog May 24, 2014 at 5:39 pm #

      Footfall energy !

      Wonderful, lets use footfall energy to power everything. Lets use it to make artificial oil which we can then use to grow food. Then we can eat the food to make more footfall energy in an ever expanding positive feedback loop.

      Kontrahend you are a fucking genius. We can keep everything the same because all problems will be now be solved with footfall energy. Social homoeostasis achieved, your dream!

      You are going to rocket into a glorious future of prosperity and plenty after all.

      But, trouble is now you won’t be able to do it alone. Now all kinds of people will be rocketing into the future with you. Not just the tiny group you planned on. Sucks to be you.

  111. Janos Skorenzy May 24, 2014 at 2:04 pm #

    The face of the Enemy: Dr David Pook. White kids shouldn’t learn how to read since Blacks kids don’t or can’t.

    Bill, is this one of yours?


  112. ZrCrypDiK May 25, 2014 at 5:59 am #

    What I find much more obscene, than calling into pre-recorded-ness, is being on the “no-call-list” for years, yet still getting phone calls *FROM* recordings.

    I check my messages, and they’re all pre-recorded bullsh!t. The computer calls me, and leaves me a tape recording of *BOTS*.

    I still can’t get over the destruction of the environment we’ve produced – Tejas and Cali are suffering the drought, and aquifers almost completely drained. These aquifers took 10’s of thousands of years to fill, but they are apparently *NULL AND VOID* (totally dried up) now. Talk about *DUST BOWL*…

    Just keep fracking exponentially – perhaps it might catch up to *DEMAND*… U and I know that can’t happen – same ol, same ol – just like the Saharan Desert (tropical rainforest ~8K years ago, until the Egyptians [pyramids] clearcut them for wood [building timber/movement timber/cooking timber/heating timber]).

    Same thing happened in Iraq, about 4k years earlier (~12k years ago) – lush tropical rainforest… We certainly have learned how to *DESTROY EVERY LAST LIVING THING* – eh? Extinction rates are MOAR than proof… Keep an eye out for Fukushima – that beast ain’t doing so well (boil yer water?!)…

    • JL Eagan June 3, 2014 at 11:44 am #

      I just came back to this to see what might have been added and found the above noteworthy. I hadn’t thought about it earlier, myself, but of course the same thing as what was just described has been my experience for years, all the years since adding my phone number to the national Do Not Call registry.

      An amazing number of organizations simply ignore it, and somehow seem to think that annoying people is a good start to selling them some shit they do not want or need. I suspect in many cases, they aren’t even aware of it, somehow.

      There are a couple of different modes in this kind of thing, of course.

      One is where a programmed calling system calls your number, and while there is a human there somewhere, if you pick up, but don’t speak immediately, the robo-dial system is waiting for a sound to indicate a live one answering their phone, and then, maybe a few seconds later, as you’re saying “hello?… HEEELOOOO?”, some sales droid will connect.

      The other is the actual robotic recording that just starts spewing.

      One thing I want to mention is related to a comment I added elsewhere here, talking about the long running problem with AT&T, and being unable to get anyone to even acknowledge that a malfunction with their system is a malfunction in their system, and get to work on diagnosis and fix.

      Being a “existing relationship”, AT&T is allowed to call me even while on the Do Not Call registry. One day, I got a call from AT&T, trying to sell me some added service. I explained briefly that one existing service that I was paying for was malfunctioning, mentioned the long running saga of useless phone conversations with hopeless idiots evading the problem or genuinely being unable to even understand it, and that given this situation, I would not be ever remotely interested in them selling me some other service until they got that fixed.

      This, of course, was either meaningless and/or irrelevant and/or baffling to the sales droid, and after saying the above, and after a couple seconds to get confirmation in my own mind that there was no point in hoping for any conscious reasonable response, hung up and moved on.

      The moral of the stpry is, if it’s selling you something, organizations manage to bombard you with some warped form of contact and communication… but if you expect that to actually work, to be what has been sold, suddenly they’re in complete inaccessible hiding.


  113. aibohphobia May 25, 2014 at 10:38 pm #

    Hi JHK,

    It all has to do with Triangle Theory.
    Before Triangle Theory, we had ‘Line Theory.’
    There was “you”, and there was your healthcare provider (HP):

    [You] [HP]
    You saw the Doctor, he/she charged whatever he/she could get. If you got better, you went back. Because of this direct connection and feedback, HP could not charge you too much, but had to keep providing good service to keep you. The only way for HP to get higher pay was to become exceptionally good. In this way, HPs everywhere got better and better.

    Now we add the Insurer [In]–It should be a triangle, but no graphics; Imagine [In] above the line;

    [You] <[In]>[HP]

    [In]surer told you that he would get HP to do all the same stuff for less money. He also told HP that he would lock in a whole bunch of new patients for slightly less money. These were both lies.
    You and HP could have known this, because [In] has to cream money off both of you to pay for his lavish lifestyle. Triangles can’t be cheaper.

    Once the Triangle is in place, [In] controls both of you. It is then simply a matter of convincing you to pay more and get less every year, and convince HP to do more and be paid less every year.
    HP can’t get better and better, because s/he has to see more and more patients which each pay less and less. You can’t dump and run as easily, especially if [In] tells you that [HP] is your “preferred provider.”

    You can see this type of skimming triangle wherever you look.

    JHK (and Gentle Readers), if you want to escape the healthcare Triangle, sign up for a Boutique Physician, and offer to pay him/her Blue Cross reimbursement in 30 days or less, +5% per month if you owe a balance in 30 days or more. That, plus backing down the insurance to Catastrophic only, and you’ll probably save money.

    For Pharmacy, offer a boutique deal to your local independent pharmacist. Tell him/her you will pay $200 a year up front for unlimited advice on getting the cheapest effective medications in the classes you need, and ask for med pricing at acquisition cost plus 10%, cash transaction, ten dollar minimum per Rx. Don’t waste time with the chainstores.

    Best of luck to all–


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