Monday, September 21, 2009


Collapse and Dead Horses

Over at The Oil Drum, Gail the Actuary has posted a discussion-provoking piece titled “Is There Any Silver Lining to a Collapse Scenario?” While many of us are concentrating on how we are going to survive and thrive, she presents a different way of looking at impending doom. Certainly there are many people who might adopt this way of thinking when they realize that industrial society is crumbling. But of course individuals will all make their own choices on how to grapple with the situation.

In the second paragraph she sets out her own concerns on how the situation will evolve. Due to the interlocking nature of socioeconomic systems and dependence on cheap energy, I tend to think she is right, but her speculation that world population will drop by 90% was a bit of a shocker. Yes, it’s going to be bad, and without a doubt hundreds of millions of innocent people will suffer and die for lack of energy (including food), war and other violence, disease, and other causes. Still, 90% seems a bit drastic to me.

But the important consideration here is that so many lives could be saved, and so much suffering prevented or mitigated, if governments only took the right action. Instead of expending still more resources and energy in the vain attempt to prop up a dying system, governments should be moving quickly to downscale economies, reverse urbanization, kill the consumer society, and get as many people as possible back on the land. But unfortunately, governments are still orienting their societies and economies toward the “space age.”

What’s all this got to do with dead horses? you say. Consider this article, “U.S. to push for new economic world order at G20.” I can already hear the groans out there. How many times have we little people had “new world orders” foisted on us? And it’s sort of tragicomic because the high muck-a-mucks are planning new world orders despite the tacit realization that in fact the system is already out of control and hurtling toward greater instability and more crashes.

But, gentle reader, look no farther than the article’s second paragraph:
A document outlining the U.S. position ahead of the September 24-25 Group of 20 summit in Pittsburgh said exporters, which include China, Germany and Japan, should consume more, while debtors like the United States ought to boost savings.
This is a scream. Are these experts living on the same planet as I am? I’ve been here in Japan for quite a few years, and I assure you that there is not much room for having the Japanese consume more. We are awash in goods and trash here already. If you go into a typical Japanese home you’ll see they have more than enough stuff as it is. Many people stash things outside their homes because they no longer have room inside. And people can only eat so much before their stomachs burst. I suppose there is a lot of pent-up desire for consumption in China, but here in Japan telling people to consume more is like beating a dead horse. And in fact, “dead-horse economics” is a good name for the current global economic regime.

While governments and experts are busy expending their energy on beating dead horses, out in the real world nothing has changed. The toxic debt bomb just keeps adding more explosives as it gets ready to blow up in our faces.

Again, everyone has to make their own decisions. Some will want to keep beating a dead horse. Others will try to live life to the fullest while they can in ways suggested in Gail the Actuary’s post. Still others will make preparations in hope of being among those who survive and maybe even thrive. As for the last choice, I don’t think that nine out of 10 people will perish, so any preparations you make now will give you a much better chance of pulling through.

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?