16 May 2015

Ruining The Future

Declinist that I may be, I still take a lot of what I read in Economy In Crisis with a grain of salt. But this sentence, from a referenced 2012 article in the arguably even more salt-grain-worthy ETF Daily News, resonated:

We are ruining the future of this nation in order to make the present more pleasant for ourselves.

Sums it up beautifully, but all that "pleasant" is shifting more and more toward the top and away from the bottom.

We humanoids (worldwide) have created competitive, not cooperative, cultures, societies, economies. It may simply be in our nature, but it is beginning to look like we're about to find out how this all plays out in what is looking more and more like the endgame of a race to the bottom. The flow of money is opposite the flow of heat; money moves toward itself (despite everyone knowing this and what it's doing to us, and, unlike the laws of thermodynamics, this one we can actually change). Companies continue, through technology and shareholder demands, to do more stuff with fewer people. How can this ever create more than just low-level, unsecure jobs not yet replaced by machine while we continue to make more people who need jobs paying a decent wage and offering some financial security? It seems like simple math that just cannot add up, and yet we continue to run the same equation. How can this possibly end well for more than just a few, and for even those, how much time can their money buy before it all collapses?

The uber rich will have, for a while, amassed enough wealth to be able to purchase pleasantor at least shelter, food and health care—by spending liquid assets and jettisoning other equity as needed. (Provided there are still buyers. As of this writing, they're bidding fine art into the stratosphere.) You're in a very different world of "pain" when you can cut back 90% of your income/wealth and still have more remaining than 90% of the rest, who will experience misery like they never imagined in even their worst fever dreams or blockbuster apocalyptic films. But in time, the game will play out for even the super rich. Their future generations will come late to the party, but eventually get caught holding the bag.

We've gotten used to boom-and-bust, zero interest and "Quantitative Easing" as the acceptable norm, but what if the next crash is the one from which we cannot recover? What happens when the smoke clears, the mirrors crack, and the duct tape and bungee cords holding this charade together finally snap? What happens when the perfect storm of climate change, fuel/energy scarcity, food scarcity, water scarcity, collapsing infrastructure and collapsing economy all collide? Will our last ounce of strength and cent of fiat currency be put into war? It won't be the first Great Depression; it won't be the first World War; it won't be the first collapse of currency; it won't be the first collapse of civilization. But it will be the first time we run out of fuel and water, at least on a large scale.

Perhaps this income inequality is not by accident. Those at the controls are running this economic engine hard and over-speed; the exhaust manifolds are red hot, the oil is worn and dirty. They know damned well that it's going to blow apart, but worse, they know that this time, it could be a long time—generations—before it begins to recover, if it ever does. The rich are playing their own version of prepping. Only they're not stockpiling guns, ammo, food, water and fuel, they're simply stockpiling Cash and Other Assets. Because when you have enough Cash and Other Assets, you can buy all the guns, ammo, food, water and fuel you want. Or so you hope. And it will work, until it's truly Game Over, however and whenever the game finally ends.

The renaissance, after the Big Crash & Reboot, might be a beautiful time to live for whoever is around to experience it, until human nature eventually just repeats the same mistakes. A Tragedy of the Commons does not need fossil fuels, Washington, or Wall Street. But the period when we really begin to circle the drain, then go down same, will be both fascinating and terrifying, albeit not all at once, but like a tsunami moving inland as it makes its way up the income/worth ladder. Illness (and lack of health care), violence (with weakening or corrupt law enforcement), and suicide (just let me out of here) will assist with reduction of the population, at least, so what remains of resources will stretch a bit longer for those who can afford to purchase some pleasant.

It is possible that all this angst is for naught, and it won't be a slow and painful death; maybe one of those near-miss meteors won't miss. After all, it won't be the first time.

Tip of the tin-foil hat to ya.

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