Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Act Rationally

Autonomous Humans,

  I have not had to face a complete threat to my worldview. That has made a lot of what is going on much easier for me to accept. I grew up with intelligent and broadly traveled grandparents on both sides who did not trust the wealthy, powerful or governments for very clear and established reasons. 

  I learned to drive and drove thousands of miles the summer of 1973, then we moved to Japan, and the Yom Kippur War and Arab Oil Embargo happened. 
I was taught about the Limits to Growth as that embargo was going on across the Pacific in the USA. Resources get used up. Pollution happens. Economy shrinks. Population can't be supported anymore so a lot of people die, but it would all happen in about 50 years; nothing bad until economic collapse time. 
"I may not even be alive in 50 years, but I sure won't get a retirement", I thought. 
Here we are.

Charles Hugh Smith, Our Economy In a Nutshell
The economy has reached an inflection point where everything that is unsustainable finally starts unraveling.

​  ​Beneath its surface stability, our economy is precarious because the foundation of the global economy-- cheap energy--has reached an inflection point: from now on, energy will become more expensive.
​  ​The cost will be too low for energy producers to make enough money to invest in future energy production, and too high for consumers to have enough money left after paying for the essentials of energy, food, shelter, etc., to spend freely.
​  ​For the hundred years that resources were cheap and abundant, we could waste everything and call it growth: when an appliance went to the landfill because it was designed to fail (planned obsolescence) so a new one would have to be purchased, that waste was called growth because the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) went up when the replacement was purchased.
​  ​A million vehicles idling in a traffic jam was also called growth because more gasoline was consumed, even though the gasoline was wasted.
​  ​This is why the global economy is a "waste is growth" Landfill Economy​.​..

​  Now that we've consumed all the easy-to-get resources, all that's left is hard to get and expensive. For example, minerals buried in mountains hundreds of miles from paved roads and harbors require enormous investments in infrastructure just to reach the deposits, extract, process and ship them to distant mills and refineries. Oil deposits that are deep beneath the ocean floor are not cheap to get.
​  ​Does it really make sense to expect that the human population can triple and our consumption of energy increase ten-fold and there will always be enough resources to keep supplies abundant and prices low? No, it doesn't.
​  ​Many people believe that nuclear power (fusion, thorium reactors, mini-reactors, etc.) will provide cheap, safe electricity that will replace hydrocarbons (oil and natural gas). But nuclear power is inherently costly, and there are presently no full-scale fusion or thorium reactors providing cheap electricity to thousands of households.
​  ​Reactors take many years to construct and are costly to build and maintain. Cost over-runs are common. A new reactor in Finland, for example, is nine years behind schedule and costs have tripled.
The U.S. has built only two new reactors in the past 25 years.​..

​  ​Many believe so-called renewable energy such as solar and wind will replace hydrocarbons. But as analysts Nate Hagens has explained, these sources are not truly renewable, they are replaceable; all solar panels and wind turbines must be replaced at great expense every 20 to 25 years. These sources are less than 5% of all energy we consume, and it will take many decades of expansion to replace even half of the hydrocarbon fuels we currently consume.
​  ​To double the energy generated by wind/solar in 25 years, we'll need to build three for each one in service today: one to replace the existing one and two more to double the energy being produced.
​  ​All these replacements for hydrocarbons require vast amounts of resources: diesel fuel for transport, materials for fabricating turbines, panels, concrete foundations, and so on.
​  ​Humans are wired to want to believe that whatever we have now will still be ours in the future. We don't like being told we'll have less of anything in the future.
​  ​The current solution is to create more money out of thin air in the belief that if we create more money, then more oil, copper, iron, etc. will be found and extracted.​..​​..Many people feel good about recycling a small part of what we consume. But recycling is not cost-free, and the majority of what we consume is not recycled.
​  ​The percentage of lithium batteries that are recycled, for example, is very low, less than 5%. We have to mine vast quantities of lithium because we dump 95% of lithium-ion batteries in the landfill. There are many reasons for this, one being that the batteries aren't designed to be recycled because this would cost more money.
​  ​The majority of all manufactured goods--goods that required immense amounts of hydrocarbons to make--are tossed in the landfill.
​  ​Goods and services are commoditized and sourced from all over the world in long dependency chains (hyper-globalization): if one link breaks, the entire supply chain breaks.​..

..​Each of these systems is dependent on all the other systems (what we call a tightly bound system), so when one critical system unravels, the crisis quickly spreads to the entire economic system: one domino falling knocks down all the dominoes snaking through the global economy.​  (Internet?)
​   Those who understand how tightly interconnected, unsustainable systems are basically designed to unravel can prepare themselves by becoming antifragile: flexible, adaptable and open to the opportunities that arise when things are disorderly and unpredictable.​  (Easily said.)

M.K. Bhadrakumar, “West at inflection point in Ukraine war”​  ​“Fundamentally, the Western economies are facing a systemic crisis. The complacency that the reserve-currency-based US economy is impervious to ballooning debt; that the petrodollar system compels the entire world to purchase dollars to finance their needs; that the flood of cheap Chinese consumer goods and cheap energy from Russia and Gulf States would keep inflation at bay; that interest rate hikes will cure structural inflation; and, above all, that the consequences of taking a trade-war hammer to a complex network system in the world economy can be managed — these notions stand exposed.”​   ​

​  Michael Hudson article is short enough that I won't edit it, but it hinges upon a point that Charles made above, that the prices are too low for producers and too high for consumers. In classic and Marxist analysis the cost of energy is not considered as such, because coal was just one input, for instance. Hudson does not often give enough thought to why energy costs are too high for consumers and too low for energy producers​. He does look at parasitic costs of predatory financial capitalism, how nobody makes money investing long term anymore (refineries in the news. Also predatory costs of bureaucracy, especially as to making mandates that happen to create a single monopoly in many fields, with monopoly pricing, and the costs of ever growing regulatory and distributive bureaucracies. 
The crude "fix" to rebalance the system is to squeeze the wages of productive workers. This has been done already since 1977. At the same time the costs of daily life, fees, taxes, professional bills, utilities, licensing, groceries, medical and other insurance have all gone up, up, up. That card is being played again, by raising interest rates, but the squeezed have no blood to give. More are losing their places to live. Another recent interview had Professor Hudson advocating "making America Great again" by copying China copying the America of 120 years ago. That would mean putting all public utilities back in public ownership, including banking (Bank of North Dakota style) and lowering predatory rent costs to the economic system that way.
The Fed’s Austerity Program to Reduce Wages

​   ​Addendum: Yves Smith of Naked Capitalism reminds me that: “Paul Volcker made it explicit that the Fed is in the business of crushing labor. As reported by William Greider in Secrets of the Temple, when Volcker was driving interest rates to the moon, he kept a note card in his pocket. It was a record of weekly average construction wages. Volcker wanted them to go down as proof his harsh medicine was working.”

​ ​This explanation is only semi-rational, even if you don't know that cheap energ​y ​resources and global economy are in terminal burnout. In my assessment TPTB just need a big enough war to always be a big enough emergency for whatever emergency measures they need to declare until they figure out "the new thing".​

New British Army Chief Sir Patrick’s Contentious Statement: “Prepare The Army to Fight in Europe Once Again”
​ ..On the one hand, a perpetual proxy war could atrophy Russian resources and uphold the US’ recently restored unipolar hegemony over Europe on an anti-Russian basis, but it could also backfire by collapsing its proxies’ economies, widening already emerging divisions between them over the conflict (e.g. the “Big Three” vs. UK-CEE), and boggling the US-led West down in Europe instead of focusing more on “containing” China in Asia. A possible “compromise” between these grand strategic visions is for the US to support the gradual de-escalation of the Ukrainian Conflict in light of the increasingly obvious impossibility of Kiev’s victory but ensure that the UK keeps stoking EU-Russian tensions indefinitely.
​  ​In practice, this could take the form of supporting the convergence between the Polish-led “Three Seas Initiative” (3SI, with its core being the “Lublin Triangle” that comprises the newly de factoPolish–Ukrainian Confederation and Lithuania) and the UK’s regional alliance plans as a structural wedge between Russia and the “Big Three” (France, Germany, and Italy). That could in turn maintain some unbridgeable differences between them (i.e. geopolitical, geo-economic, and military) so as to perpetually prevent any meaningful rapprochement in the future that would risk eroding the US’ recently restored hegemony over the bloc.
​  ​With this in mind, the British army chief’s policy statement that his island-state should prepare for fighting a war in Europe makes more sense since it’s aimed at preconditioning the armed forces and the population that funds them into expecting a sustained military deployment to CEE.

​  This is actually not a bad assessment and looks at a lot of current crises-in-motion. (There is plenty of dirty coal, not the clean coal that industry used up in WW-1)
Rabobank: We Are Heading For More Crashes, Bangs, Wallops
​  ​Indeed, as noted yesterday, Europe --like China-- is plunging back into coal production again as Russian gas-flows tail off rapidly. The EU is chastising individual European countries for this backsliding, which makes sense in terms of a green strategy using future technology and future inputs, but little in terms of being able to keep the lights on this winter with current ones.
​  ​The US is also flailing for a response to high gasoline and diesel prices, and we have now seen two floated solutions: 1) subsidy cards for consumers - stymied by the US not having the chips to even make them, which speaks volumes about supply-side problems; and 2) that the US --like China-- should start a state oil refinery to reverse the 5% drop in capacity since Covid, but would still take years to happen, even if were politically ‘acceptable’, which it isn’t.
​  ​The food situation, linked to energy, looks even worse.

  ​Paul sends this book review, the premise of which is that global shipping, especially the very large, very low massive container and tanker ships, have relied on the US Navy to keep the seas free from pirates, and the US no longer even has a merchant marine service.​ One successful business is modeling its shipping investments on the progressive failure of the US Navy to protect global shipping, and it is doing quite well. To me, the US could protect anybody's ships as long as the finance was going through western banks in dollars, the oil trade in $US cemented this, but all this will change. We will see much more uncertainty than even now, in the ability to supply goods across oceans. Supply lines will break and industrial production will halt. Charles mentioned that above, and this is one mechanism.
The End Of The World Is Just Beginning For Shipping

UK Government Approves Extraditing Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange To Same Country that “Plotted to Assassinate” Him

  ​It's just an emergency, just for right now, not forever, back to green when Russia loses...​

Netherlands Follows Germany, Lifts Restrictions On Coal-Fired Power Stations Amid Drop In Russian Gas Supplies

​  "Fghting ISIS" , Stealing stuff for democracy.
US Occupation Troops Steal Wheat from Syria to Send to Iraq
In addition to stealing Syrian wheat supplies, the US military has also been stealing Syrian oil

​  ​US occupation forces in Syria led a convoy of 40 trucks, each filled up with stolen Syrian wheat, into Iraq from Syria, according to an 18 June report from Syrian state news agency SANA.
​  ​The report indicates that the US military, along with the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), looted large quantities of wheat from the Al-Jazeera region and transported it towards the Al-Waleed border crossing, where it entered Iraq on 18 June.
​  ​The report noted that this was not the only convoy filled with stolen goods led by the US military. Another convoy with 36 vehicles, filled with stolen Syrian wheat, crossed Al-Waleed border from the Tal Hamis area...

​  ​Damascus considers US presence in northeastern Syria a means of stealing Syrian resources...
​..​The US military routinely smuggles Syrian oil into northern Iraq, in a move that is both in violation of international law and as routine practice that shows how deeply entrenched the US is in its occupation of both nations.
​  ​The theft of Syrian food and fuel supplies is taking place amid a global food and fuel crisis.
​  ​Countries like Lebanon, Syria, Afghanistan, and Yemen are already dealing with severe economic and food crises.
​  ​Once a major wheat producer, Syria is now facing food shortages. The western-backed war on Syria as well as a recent drought has made Syria more dependent on Russian wheat.

​  Moon of Alabama fails to employ Rational-Actor-Theory. Since I do not see the Federal Government as "moral"​, this looks like standard trade protectionist practice. I am told that 3-layer solar panels are about to revolutionize that industry with much higher efficiencies at similar production costs. it's proven technology, but was only used in space, due to licensing restrictions. Patents just expired. This will mess with global supply chains in a major way in the near term, which will conserve natural resources by impairing global economy with roadblocks.
This New Import Law Will Hurt U.S. Consumers
Today the the U.S., suffering from high inflation caused by a lack of supplies, is launching the dumbest sanction regime ever:
  A new law, the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, goes into effect in the United States on Tuesday and will bar products that were made in Xinjiang or have ties to the work programs there from entering the country. It requires importers with any ties to Xinjiang to produce documentation showing that their products, and every raw material they are made with, are free of forced labor — a tricky undertaking given the complexity and opacity of Chinese supply chains.
  In theory, the new U.S. law should block all goods made with any raw materials that are associated with Xinjiang until they are proven to be free of slavery or coercive labor practices...
  For small importers it will be impossible to do the above. Only big companies can afford to research and provide all that data and to take the risk of importing products that may get confiscated at the border. They will of course ask their customers to pay for all that.
  For the U.S. consumer this does not only mean higher prices but likely less access to products they need or want. The U.S. industry is not in state where it can provide on the scale that China can.
  To avoid the scrutiny Chinese producers may eventually move their factories. But they will move to countries in South Asia and not to the United States.
  Why the 'green agenda' Biden administration thought that this is a smart move is beyond me. 
(It does reduce resource consumption through economic strangulation. "Green" is a control narrative, which was somewhat compatible with physical reality , but less and less lately.)

Chris Hedges: The Triumph of Death

​  ​The global ruling class is cementing into place a world where they govern without accountability, we are reduced to serfdom, the climate crisis accelerates and mass death is normalized.​..

​  The campaign against Assange, and I have sat in on hearings in London, is a Dickensian farce, the persecution of an innocent and heroic man, far more reminiscent of the Lubyanka than the best of British jurisprudence. He is being used to send a message — if you expose what we do we will destroy you.

​No statistical evidence of benefit:​ "Hey, we tested these vaccines on several kids and they all did ok. This stuff is fine!" 
(Drug companies are exempt from lawsuits on approved childhood vaccines.)
FDA “Approves” COVID Vaccine for 6-month-old Babies Despite Study Finding Persistent Heart Abnormalities Among COVID Vaccinated Children

Conscientious Objector
(pictured with cooking banana experimental project)

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