Monumentally Tragic Disappointment on the Horizon

The Long Emergency: Su... James Howard Kunstler Best Price: $1.24 Buy New $1.99 (as of 10:49 UTC - Details)

Whenever the herd mentality lines up along a compass point leading to “permanent prosperity,” or a yellow brick road lined with green shoots, or something like that, I tend to see the edge of a cliff up ahead. We are now completely in the grips of the deadly diminishing returns of information technology. The more information comes to us about How Things Are, especially from TV, the more confused or wrong the conventional view gets it.

World Made by Hand: A ... Kunstler, James Howard Best Price: $1.10 Buy New $10.56 (as of 10:30 UTC - Details)

A broad consensus has formed in the news media and among government mouthpieces and even some “bearish” investors on the street that “the worst is behind us” in this tortured economy. This view is completely crazy. It will only lead to massive disappointment a few weeks or months from now, and that disappointment might easily transmute to political trouble. One even might call the situation tragic, except a closer look at the sordid spectacle of what American culture has become – a non-stop circus of the seven deadly sins – suggests that we deserve to be punished by history.

The reason behind this mass delusion is not hard to find: it’s based on wishing, especially the wish to retain all the comforts, conveniences, luxuries, and leisure that had become normal in American life. These are now ebbing away in big gobs for most of the population – while a tiny fraction of the well-connected pile on ever larger heaps of swag, enjoying ever more privilege. Those in the broad bottom 95 percent were content as long as there was a chance that they, too, could become members of the top 5 percent – by dint of car-dealing, or house-building, or mortgage-selling, or some other venture enabled by easy credit and a smile. Those days and those ways are now gone. The bottom 95 percent are now left with de-laminating houses they can’t make payments on, no prospects for gainful work, re-po men hiding in the bushes to snatch the PT Cruiser, cut-off cable service, Kraft mac-and-cheese (if they’re lucky), and Larry Summers telling them their troubles are over. (If I were Larry, I’d start thinking about a move to some place like the Canary Islands.)

Too many disastrous things are lined up in the months ahead to insure that we’re entering a new phase of history: The Long Emergency.

  • Government at every level is worse than broke.
  • Our currency, the US dollar, is hemorrhaging legitimacy.
  • Inability to service old debt at all levels or incur new debt.

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August 5, 2009

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