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Friday, July 7, 2017

americas afghanistan 3 of 3


AMERICAS AFGHANISTAN 3
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note: Tainter's "classic" book on collapse was, to me, unreadable as it was a dry boring textbook.  You may think differently and now don't have to gamble money.  click here
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The foremost popular voice on military organizations and their opposition, Bill Lind ( the Four Generations Of Warfare guy ), contends that the nation state era is finish as the implicit agreement was breeched when the state was no longer able to protect its citizens against guerrillas, criminal cartels, terrorists or other non-nation state warriors.  This most certainly is true, even if it needs to be quantified ( terrorists are usual enemy nation funded combatants.  Criminal cartels only exist due to nation state prohibition laws.  Guerrilla warfare is only the citizens problem if it is a civil war, and then that holds true for lack of protection but the same thing could be said for losing the war.  At best, I would apply this breech of contract to domestic crime, but that becomes economic ), but probably not for the reason given.  Behind the success of irregular warfare is the disintegration of the nation state itself but that isn’t because of that warfare.  It is because resources decline has weakened the economy allowing irregulars to dominate the military field.  Guerrillas are winning because the state can’t afford to defeat them, not because it is a superior form of warfare ( it is, but only against foes already defeated economically ).  Weakening economies fuel criminal activity, not just because criminals feed off of the grey economy ( the type of economy that is always created as states go broke and try to squeeze more wealth through increased taxes and regulations-that isn’t a left verses a right conflict, just about going broke and needing more from the citizens rather than the colonies ) but because economically marginal citizens have no choice on limited resources to join the underground economy.

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Computerization is our current generations bright shiny unicorn farts fantasy.  Robots, automation, computerization, digitalization, none of that is a sign of progress or wealth or advancement or economic superiority but is indicative of decline.  I know you are laughing uproariously now, but just as you refuse to acknowledge the decline of the state even as it unfolds in front of you, you need to think about what you were told, consider if it possibly couldn’t be a lie, and try to unravel the layers on the onion.  Hubris is the de facto condition of declining empires, but there is also a reason for that.  Not just because denial is so much fun, a way to reduce anxiety, but because the formula for success is believed to still be in effect.  The elite continue with business as usual because that is their  wealth pump, and citizens follow as they are surviving off of the scraps from the same system.  Computers, which I’ll use for shorthand for the above automation, digitalization, etc., are a means to wealth for the elite in a resource contraction.  Less materials, less wages, less investment.  Now, I’ll grant you, in some ways this is a very good thing.  But in others it sucks.  Regardless, across the board, it is the way we are doing things not because it is a better system but because it is the only way we can do them now, as resources shrink.

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With plentiful fuel and far less population, every city not only had multiple newspapers in competition with each other ( and not just big cities ), they could also print both a morning AND an evening edition.  Heck, the post office used to deliver mail twice a day.  You can claim we went to e-news and e-mail since it was a better way of doing things, using less, but my point is that Better was only because of Necessity.  You need to keep in mind that we traded not just the means of transmitting information, but also the quality of the information itself.  The top newspapers of today, in the largest cities, offer a product so inferior that the smallest village paper of yesteryear would be superior in quality.  You could blame the content on loss of ad revenue, but content quality loss came before that.  Just as JC Penny blames Amazon rather than high costs and crappy merchandise, the newspapers try to blame Craig’s List for crappy content.  Oh, we WISH we could offer superior reporting but we don’t have enough money now!  As if, you used to be able to offer all that expensive hard copy, delivered, on classified ad revenue but now you can’t even offer digital only on less ads?  You could almost believe that, if it wasn’t for superior reporting by amateurs not even employed by the paper.  Ad revenue for TV is also in the toilet, but they manage to keep producing content of a lesser quality and still stay in business.  Those TV channels which actually offer superior shows make more money.  Why are newspapers different?

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E-mail is not much better than a note passed in class, hardly compares itself to snail mail, instant gratification being its sole selling point past delivery cost savings.  Americans who think nothing of getting into their cars to drive three blocks act as if by cutting back on the gasoline the postal fleet uses we will achieve energy independence.  The e-books we are forced to stomach says a lot about how much better paper books are over the alternative.  Self publishing was cheap enough with the Xerox machine and ever since the floppy disc and then the CD-ROM anyone could publish whatever they so desired.  The hundred thousand new e-books regularly offer far less quality since there is now no more barrier to entry ( at least before, you had to pay for advertising in one form or another.  You didn’t offer pure crap.  Now, you can and you do ).  Computerized cars did offer a better product and better fuel savings ( perhaps.  With the VW bug as a counterpoint, you can’t automatically accept this premise ) but at the cost of more waste.  Past a certain point it isn’t profitable to pay a professional to futz with the chips.  Older cars could be nursed along by amateurs longer.  More waste doesn’t refute my argument that computers replaced dwindling resources.  Far more cars on the road dictate more fuel efficiency, so even as resources shrink you are making more product.

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Hobby publishing, and moving paper around, and conserving fuel to allow more fuel users, this was secondary to the primary saving computers allowed.  Computers are just robots in another form, and robots have been killing jobs for enough decades that unemployment is now a serious indicator.  Unemployment isn’t just greedy elites keeping more of the wealth to themselves, it is part and parcel with resource contraction.  Just as nuclear weapons replace soldiers, robots replace workers.  This isn’t some fantasy of endless leisure dreamed up by the same idiots that said fracking oil is a viable Oil Age fuel, no jobs do not mean leisure, it means per capita wealth decline.  Oh, the full automation economy fantasies got one thing right, we have a lot more leisure time now.  But it is leisure from poverty.  How many of us can even get routine medical care anymore?  Afford a vacation?  Our vacations are vicarious through the TV and the medical care isn’t necessary since we don’t step out of the home and get into any accidents ( all the leisure induced medical conditions can be safely ignored until they kill you early ). 

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Automation just means less middle class and more poor ( some middle class are the worker bees of automation, but their numbers too decline rather than grow over time ).  Computers shrink the middle class and grow the poor class.  This is what it was designed to do, eliminate labor.  How can we celebrate such a thing?  We ignore the negative aspects and glory in the few crumbs left to us ( oh, anyone can be a blogger, anyone can get more TV channels now ).  And why would labor shrinkage be necessary in a productive healthy economy?  It wouldn’t.  Your workers need to afford what you sell has been a truism for over a century.  To ignore that, to doom your company to long term extinction from short term solutions, is of course the mark of ignorance, but also necessity.  It wouldn’t be practiced in a healthy economy.  Better businesses would pay better to get more talent to drive out the short term thinkers.  The fact that everyone does it bespeaks necessity rather than poor business choices.  And let’s not forget the component of technological innovation.  What, really, is new since the 1960’s?  Faster computers with more memory isn’t a new invention.  It is an improvement of an old invention.  Nothing fundamentally new has been introduced since the 1960’s ( even fracking technology ), which means since Vietnam our economy in terms of innovation and invention has been stagnant and declining.  Would a healthy economy belonging to a healthy nation in a healthy empire show these indicators?  Of course not. 

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If you remember back in our earlier colonial days, resources were abundant.  The Southern colony delivered cotton and foodstuffs and tobacco, at ruinously low prices, sharecroppers replacing slaves as dirt cheap labor.  Life was short and hard, and the colonizers made handsome profits.  Commodities were profit, as was always the case.  But money isn’t as important as tangibles.  Money was just a unit of tangible trading and not the means in itself.  Today the only commodity we gain from our colonies is oil.  So oil replaces all other commodities, to include labor ( even food is replaced by petroleum ).  One could argue that petroleum economies reached their apex in the 1960’s, that being the height of new conventional  production discovery.  Since that point, all the oil wealth has been drawn down, never recovering to the point we replace what we use.  That would be a great global date to plant the beginning of the end of the oil age.  And hence the beginning of the end of our oil empire.  All else, all other indicators, from technological advancement to military strength to economic health, all can be said to have begun to decline since.

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So, my fine feathered minions, the collapse is fifty years old.  And you think you’ll have how much time to go?  Collapse is baked into the cake, since resource depletion is that old.  A minimum of a third of that time the collapse picked up speed exponentially.  Do you understand exponential collapse?  It means tipping points are sudden.  You can assume collapse lasts forever since we survived one for half a century, or you can assume we are right at the lip of the waterfall, unable to hear from the roar or see from the spray and must intuitively find our place. 

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6 comments:

  1. we were toast as soon as it went from "peace officer" to
    LEO

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    1. That would be interesting to study, the timeline. Perhaps alcohol prohibition started it?

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    2. Energy per capita was still growing during prohibition. It was growing up until some time after ww2 and before vietnam.
      Since that time population growth has been gaining on energy production.
      I dont know where the two slopes have crossed, but even if energy production was still increasing in total terms and population growth slowing (which it is) the energy per capita is no longer growing as rapidly as it did prior to vietnam on a global level.

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    3. I know the per capita energy peak globally was 1979. I image the US one was much sooner, to have caused the 60's economic contraction. It might not be an accident Vietnam started when it did, as soon as stalled energy supply made it mandatory to start a WWII level war to goose the economy, which of course didn't work.

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    4. Our local paper does an interesting '75 years ago' snippets from the weekly papers back then. It is interesting to read about the men going to their military physicals, and announcements about the heroic deaths that some suffered the way things were written vs how things sounded back during nam from my history readings is very interesting.

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    5. Our paper does the same, but going back longer. Like the county game warden requesting funds for more men, and that was big news. WTF? Much different times.

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