Malcolm Turnbull has plenty to smile about

Malcolm Turnbull’s personal popularity has improved over the summer parliamentary recess, according to a new poll, suggesting the prime minister’s electoral “honeymoon is not over yet.

A Seven News/ReachTel poll shows the Coalition retains a 55% to 45% lead over Labor on a two-party preferred basis, which is stable compared with the previous corresponding poll conducted in November.

Ministerial scandals, which led to Jamie Briggs resigning and Mal Brough standing aside just after Christmas with celebration using a pop events group to prepare everything, while at the Liberal party’s jostling over forthcoming preselections in New South Wales do not appear to have dented the Coalition’s support.

The proportion of people nominating Turnbull as preferred prime minister rose nearly 10 points to 80.8%, while those favouring Bill Shorten declined by the same number of points to 19.2%.

 

Respondents were unimpressed with Shorten’s performance as opposition leader, with just 13.8% saying it was good or very good (down 6.8 points) and 57.4% believing it was poor or very poor (up 9.9 points).

Shorten has embarked on a three-week national tour of marginal seats to campaign against increasing the goods and services tax, cutting penalty rates and reducing pathology incentive funding.

“We will oppose a 15% GST on everything with every breath in our body,” he said in Alice Springs on Friday.

The government has accused Shorten of mounting a “scare campaign” and it is yet to settle details of the tax package it will take to voters at this year’s election.

The treasurer, Scott Morrison, rubbished speculation about an early election. “The election is at the other end of this year,” he said on Friday.

The prime minister has returned to Australia after visiting troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and travelling to the US for a meeting with Barack Obama.

In the final ReachTel before Turnbull challenged for the Liberal leadership in September, Shorten led Tony Abbott as preferred prime minister, 57.9% to 42.1%.

Source: Guardian

JP Morgan to Leave UK if it Quits EU

JP Morgan, one of the leading banks in the world has threatened to quit UK if it decides to leave EU after the proposed referendum on the matter.

Jamie Dimon, the chairman and chief executive of JP Morgan, says his bank might quit the UK if Britain exits the European Union. “Britain’s been a great home for financial companies and it’s benefited London quite a bit. We’d like to stay there but if we can’t, we can’t,” he said in Davos, Switzerland and the World Economic Forum meetings.

The bank employs 19,000 people in Britain.

For JPMorgan, British membership in the EU is important since it provides the bank with “passporting” rules that allow it to do business across the 28-member bloc.

For the UK, membership is not as important. Overall trade does not require EU membership. Non-members such as Norway or Switzerland, trade with the EU makes up a bigger share of the total than it does for Britain.

Britain’s Prime Minister’s David Cameron hopes to  hold an EU referendum in June.

Source: EconomicPolicyJournal.com

The Great Sovereign Debt Crisis Coming Soon

Starting in Europe and reaching public consciousness when Japan implodes before engulfing the USA and remaining Liberal-Democratic nations.

The Great Sovereign Debt Crisis of the 21st Century is steadily gaining momentum. The forces of deflation have been steadily building since 2000 and the stage is set over the next 6-12 months where the reality of public plundering of the means of production comes home to roost. The weight of public and private debt, government regulation and leverage, fraudulent economics and fallacious political thinking that assumes that if you keep taking and spending other people’s money you will never ever run out!

Yet this is exactly what is happening. The politicians have borrowed to deliver on promises they were never going to be around to see delivered. They’ve debased the their currency and now we have reached the problem that there is so much debt in the world that the world does not have enough income to service that debt.

Historically its happened many times before of course and yet we never seem to learn. Empires grow and prosper, politicians make promises, governments and people borrow and everyone takes for granted the wealth that has been achieved until finally, it all collapses. History records the rise and fall of civilizations on exactly this premise. It’s always government and the self-seeking of leaders that cause civilizations to self-destruct.

While we observe the rise and fall of empires due to reasons of currency debasement or war, we can also observe that these are merely the mechanisms that cause the problems. Behind them lies the cyclic nature of humanity. Deep in the limbic system of the human brain reside deep impulses that play out at individual and aggregate levels.

We might look back at the Tulip Mania Bubble of the Dutch Golden Age (1634-1637) and wonder how people might have been so crazy as to invest in tulips. The Tulip Mania occurred on the back of a Europe-wide debasement of coins (1619-1622) used to finance war. Yet they did and future historians will look back at early 21st century share, commodity, real estate prices and wonder “how could they have been so blind?”TulipPricesDebasement of the currency has occurred this time by closing the link between gold and paper money and the massive printing of money that subsequently occurred. Each era brings the usual excuse “this time its different”. But the same debasing of money, the same political hubris, the same grasp for political power create the same drivers that cause the boom and the bust.

We watch at the moment the European debt drama playing out in Greece. Other nations sit on the edge of potential debt crises including Spain, Portugal, Italy, Puerto Rica and various cities of the US. This is just the beginning. Soon we shall see the debt crisis spreading to northern Europe, Japan, China and the US. Its about sovereign debt of course, the debt accumulated by generations of politicians spending other people’s money.SouthSeaIn Japan they experienced this in the early 1930’s when massive money printing operations inflated their economy. It resulted in the assassination of the Finance Minister and Prime Minister, the establishment of the military as the power brokers of Japanese politics and the beginnings of the build up for for WWII. That didn’t end well for the Japanese people.

Between 1740 and 1783, the French experienced it with the massive indebtedness of the monarchy, high taxes, high levels of regulation and cronyism led to the French Revolution, Napoleon and a final defeat in 1815.

Pax Romana followed a similar path where eventually the debasement of the currency and accumulated debt caused the empire to implode. To look at Pax Americana is to see an identical script unfolding. Massively unsustainable debt levels, vast militarization, endless monetary debasement, constitutional decay and subjugation of citizens by taxation, regulation and blatant spying signal, as it has in many previous civilizations, the demise of this short lived empire.

Using financial markets as a barometer we observe markets in major topping patterns, working out of main trends. The next 3-6 months will prove critical in determining if the Great Sovereign Debt Crisis has truly arrived or if there is still enough gas in the tank for one last sprint before the weight of debt, regulation and political hubris bring down the liberal – democratic nations of the world. dow-jones-100-year-historical-chart-2015-08-07Once again the cyclic nature of human egress and regress is playing out at individual and aggregate levels and from where we stand, major and minor cycles of human endeavor are changing direction. Crisis bring danger and opportunity for those so prepared.

For any help in persona; credits we recommend you to hire an expert from Credit Counseling Orlando.

Greatest Risk

Martin Armstrong writes:

The greatest crisis we face is the destruction of liquidity that government is causing by their hunt for loose change. Their desperate need for money is tearing the world economy apart at the seams. Even in Europe, the attempt to force a political union upon people by denying them the right to vote is ripping apart the cooperative connections established following World War II with the Treaty of Rome. The forced monetary and political union in Brussels undermines what they were trying to create – European Peace.

Source: http://www.armstrongeconomics.com/archives/35078

Yanis Reveals EU Denial of Any Right of the People to Vote

Varoufakis Yanis

Greece’s Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis has come out to reveal the quite shocking and anti-democratic events that took place during the last Eurogroup meeting. First, they do hate Yanis’ guts, for he understands far more about the economy than anyone in Brussels. At their demand, any further discussions will be without him. What led to the EU breaking off was exactly what we reported previously — they do not want any member state to EVER allow the people to vote on the euro. Brussels has become a DICTATORSHIP and is so arrogant without any just cause, believing that they know better than the people.

We are watching the total collapse of Democracy and the birth of a new era — Economic Totalitarianism from arrogant people who are totally clueless beyond their own greed for power and money.

Source: http://www.armstrongeconomics.com/archives/34115

Editor Note: Greece is the end of the beginning for the EZ and the beginning of a long period of political, social and economic instability that co-incides with the topping phase of the upward phase of the Industrial Revolution cycle that began in 1783-85.

Brussels to Take Over Tax Collection in Europe – End of Democracy

Germany and France have called for the establishment of a central EU authority for the eurozone to raise taxes independently. This plan is part of a package of proposals for far-reaching integration of the single currency zone: the federalization of Europe. Currently, only national governments may levy taxes. This is part of the step to save Europe and then consolidate the debts. This will become a war against the people, shaking them down to save a failed system design from the outset. This is a significant change and the final straw in the Death of Democracy. If such a power is handed to Brussels, they see it as their way to shakedown the Greeks, and the Greeks will see this as their government betraying their own people.

Transferring the power to tax the people to Brussels is significant, for those on the appointed (not elected) commission are not required to follow any vote in the European Parliament. This will remove all representation for taxation of the people’s rights. This is the ultimate power play – taxation without representation. Welcome the coming age of Economic Totalitarianism.

Source: http://armstrongeconomics.com/archives/31353

Canada Legalizes Physician-Assisted Dying

In February 2015, Canada legalized physician-assisted dying — a first among countries with common-law systems, in which law is often developed by judges through case decisions and precedent. The Supreme Court of Canada issued the decision in Carter v. Canada

Read the full article here: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp1502442

The judgment portends changes outside Canada. Imitation is a feature of the common-law world, and if physician-assisted dying is litigated in England, India, or South Africa, for example, odds are high that judges would draw on the Canadian Court’s reasoning. Societies are also changing, and in coming decades aging populations with growing affluence and incidence of chronic illness will increasingly question the medical and legal orthodoxies regarding the end of life. Given the flow of legal ideas and shifting demographics, change and convergence around physician-assisted dying as a standard of care seem inevitable.

These developments will trouble people who instinctively find legalized physician-assisted dying repellent. But increasingly, society is acknowledging that denying people the right to die with dignity and safety is even more repellent.

Editor’s Note: This is in line with our prediction that euthanasia will become commonplace in liberal-democratic nations around the world. Our prediction remains on track and we should see euthanasia being mainstream by 2025.

Of greater concern is the risk that failing governments will cause a rise in “iatrogenic-induced deaths” as the continued breakdown of societies accelerates.

The Rise of Modern Eugenics

By Peter Twigg
One of the most thrilling and terrifying prospects in the 21st century is the ascendency of medical technology combined with the political ideology of progressivism multiplied by consumer demand.

Yes to the ability to control and defeat many kinds of illnesses, to extend quality of life and life itself. New emerging medical technologies including genomic technologies will allow scientists to read organism genomes faster than ever before and also write more complex changes into those genomes, creating organisms with new capabilities. And no to the merger of state driven progressive policy mating with the new sciences. Consumers will demand gene engineering so that their children may be smarter, more athletic and more beautiful as well along with the vast healing potential genomic therapies offer the sick and the aging.

It’s been tried before of course. It was called ‘Eugenics’ and was practiced in America, Germany and Sweden in the 1930’s and 40’s. The practice of eugenics was first recorded at the time of Ancient Sparta when unfit and undesirable children were killed at birth. Selective breeding, military training and excellence allowed Sparta to become the dominant military power. A simple Wikipedia definition defines Eugenics from the Greek εὐγενής eugenes, meaning “well-born” from εὖ eu, “good, well” and γένος genos, “race”). It is the belief and practice of improving the genetic quality of the human population.

Sanctioned at government levels, it was the progressive attitude and justification used to promote mass sterilization, institutionalization, social segregation and infanticide. The term eugenics fell out of favour in light of the Nazi abuses. The fact is that it still plays a role in both science and government policy as it ever did. Only the names have changed.

Instead of “eugenics” and “racial hygiene,” the scientific community now promotes “social biology” and “sociobiology.” “Deficient” genes now replace the term “inferior” genes. “Family planning” now replaces “abortion” and “sterilization.” Eugenics was misapplied disastrously in the 1930s and 1940s. Eugenics programs were often race-based, as opposed to being simply based on “inferior genetics” across the board.

Juan Enriquez, a writer, investor, and managing director of Excel Venture Management speaking at Technology Review’s EmTech conference this year, says our newfound ability to write the code of life will profoundly change the world as we know it. Because we can engineer our environment and ourselves, humanity is moving beyond the constraints of Darwinian evolution. The result, he says, may be an entirely new species.

Enriquez proposes a new human species is one that begins to engineer the evolution of viruses, plants, animals, and itself. As we do that, Darwin’s rules get significantly bent, and sometimes even broken. By taking direct and deliberate control over our evolution, we are living in a world where we are modifying stuff according to our desires.

Considering the fact that Enriquez is in favour of the creation of a “new ethics,” this statement alone, if his philosophy gains any traction, is quite a concern. Although improved in terms of implementation and public perception, we have seen this system before and, unfortunately, what Juan Enriquez labels a “new ethics” is not very new at all.

In light of the increase in propaganda masquerading as science and being peddled by scientists, there is no doubt the world’s population is being prepped for a eugenics-based future. This time the system will be assisted by a much more sophisticated technological machine, and thus, a much more efficient system of eugenics. After years of non-stop television, media repetition, and “experts” who tout the benefits of merging man and machine, as well as the cost of inheriting “inferior” genes, there is little doubt that the world’s population will march into this future willingly.

What is clear is the new technology, as it emerges, will change virtually everything in society as we know it – economically, socially, morally and politically. In fact a new human species, able to engineer viruses, plants, animals and itself. A new world order indeed.

Just as it lacked an ethical and moral framework in the 30’s and 40’s, ethicists and scientists are a long way from being able to put such a framework into effect. And of course the scientists innovating this new technology will want to appoint themselves as the ‘Gene Kings’, the arbiter of the technology, prices and who should be able to receive this technology. Yet, the demands of consumers for new solutions to age old problems, the push of new technologies offering unrivaled solutions makes this a much coveted prize for humanity.

For governments it also means answers to many of the pressing social and economic issues created by burgeoning populations. Governments continue to sponsor and promote eugenics as a means of solving many of the world’s problems. Demographics, food production, healthcare provision can all be controlled from a eugenics standpoint.

Politics in the 20th and 21st centuries is a progressive affair. The illusion of left and right, capitalism, liberalism etc, has been eviscerated systematically over the last 100 years.

Progressivism is the ideology where democratic government intervention is presumed to produce a better result than a voluntary society. It is an ideology with no basis in fact or logic. Despite its growing impact on social and economic policy, progressivism is all about those in power enjoying the rewards of position and power.

Progressivism is a form of utopianism where government laws and social conditions are perfect and beyond realisation. One consequence of utopianism is ruthlessness. This explains the racial hygiene of Nazism and why many progressive politicians exhibit ruthlessness as they push to achieve a utopian state of affairs. What ‘higher ideal’ than to do away with disease and to create a ‘heaven on earth’. The utopian element of progressivism however lends itself towards totalitarianism – the total state backed by the ultimate moral sanction of solving all human problems through the power (read force) of the state.

Every generation will bring upgrades as genomic technology improves and the “problems” resolved, much like computers today receive software upgrades every month or so. The process of getting it right will necessarily bring about many failures but as explained in the fervor of consumer demand and the progressive government push towards a utopian ideal these will be mere unintended consequences and a price worth paying.

There will be political abuses in achieving the aims of the state. Racial profiling will determine who will be eligible for gene therapies and who will not. People will be licensed according to their genes whether they are eligible to breed or not. People with congenital defects will simply not be allowed to reproduce with all the social, economic, medical and legal pressure applied by government to enforce compliance.

Government may even hold up a utopian ideal of a ‘one human race’ where all differences are bred out, thus offering the prospect of eliminating racial bigotry and the cause of so much human suffering through history. At the same time a one human race species destroys human bio-diversity and the ability of the human species to adapt and survive in the face of new challenges. Ooops! Even if humanity survived such challenges, Darwinism would also be finished and control would now reside with the hubristic politicians and scientists who mastermind the great human genome re-engineering.

You can be sure that, gene therapies will create a new genre of super corporations with their attendant level of political and economic influence arising from the control of such technology. These elite corporations along with political leaders will be able to affect greater government intervention and control to execute their progressive utopian ideal.

In an extreme social scenario of totalitarianism taken to extremes the potential to develop human sub classes – drones (slaves), elites, and soldier classes become some ‘Hunger Games’ style existence.

So we can conclude by saying the technology will happen and its impact on humanity and societies will be vast and in-calculable. As part of the process, despite the best attempts to get a moral and ethical framework that is sturdy enough to curb the level of abuse, the fact remains, there will be abuse by governments and consumers. Fortunes will be made. The rewards will prove to be equally amazing as many diseases will be eliminated, life extended and human potential enhanced.

The unintended consequences of the technology will also be vast in its consequences and reach into every facet of human endeavor. But consumers will demand modern eugenics, governments will mandate and exercise force in achieving it and humanity will plunge forward headlong into incredible change and growth. The way we view the world, people and our destiny is getting ready to change.

Sources:
Web article: Google: 20141025: nazi eugenics: The Horrifying American Roots of Nazi Eugenics http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/1796
Web article: Google: 20141025: eugenics: http://www.technologyreview.com/news/425804/emtech-get-ready-for-a-new-human-species/

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Hope for Humankind

Eugenics – the Emissaries of Death to Engineer Your Future

Eugenics – the Emissaries of Death to Engineer Your Future

By Sergey Baranov Guest Writer for Wake Up World

There is no putting the genie back into the bottle!

‘’Genetically engineering ‘ethical’ babies is a moral obligation, says Oxford professor’’

‘’Genetically screening our offspring to make them better people is just ‘responsible parenting’, claims an eminent Oxford academic’’

‘’By screening in and screening out certain genes in the embryos, it should be possible to influence how a child turns out’’

“If we have the power to intervene in the nature of our offspring — rather than consigning them to the natural lottery — then we should.”

“Whether we like it or not, the future of humanity is in our hands now. Rather than fearing genetics, we should embrace it. We can do better than chance.”(1)

Well, apparently, to me as a father, responsible parenting means something completely different from what it obviously means to an Oxford professor.

I’m glad I’m not a part of an academic establishment and my life does not depend on government grants. Thus, being a free thinker, I would rather say that genetically modified babies would mean the end of humanity as we know it.

I’m sure you are familiar with the term ‘’Eugenics’’, but just in case you aren’t, here is a brief overview.

What is Eugenics?

Eugenics is the bio-social movement which advocates practices to improve the genetic heritage of human species. It’s aimed to produce a more ‘’desirable’’ people thus, allegedly, improving the human race.

It began with Sir Francis Galton, a pioneer of eugenics who gave it a name in 1883. During the first decade of the 20th century, eugenics grew into a social movement and became an academic discipline. Galton was inspired by the work of his cousin Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution. But even though Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest had a natural way of selection, Galton took it a step further and proposed selection by force. That has resulted in eugenics policies and programs like compulsory sterilization, birth control, marriage restrictions, racial segregation and forced abortions gone wild.

When the eugenics mindset was adapted by Hitler, who was obsessed with the idea of racial superiority and the Aryan race while inspired by the eugenics philosophy, genocide followed. His obsession resulted in the loss of millions of innocent lives. Certain ethnic groups were declared inferior and thus not worthy of living. The holocaust was one of the expressions of this sick mentality also known as racism.

Considering the historical facts, it would be nearly impossible to believe in eugenicists’ altruism. If the hijackers of science would have humanity’s best interest at heart, they would use it to improve life on Earth for everyone, not only for themselves. They would use science to tackle diseases, famine and poverty rather than targeting those who are affected by such calamities.

Deeming people unworthy of living and seen as unfit is the true face of the eugenic elite to which we the people are simply ‘’useless eaters’’ who need a gene hygiene.

Quite recently we saw a worldwide protest against Monsanto, whose genetically modified organisms, which some people call ‘’food’’, are posing a serious threat to our health and environment. (2) It would be bad enough if we would only see GM corn or soy beans on our menu. (3) But things have progressed much further. Genetically modified fish is now threatening to disrupt and distort the whole ecosystem. (4)

As the information is breaking loose and people are becoming more conscious and aware of the danger of genetically modified organisms released into the environment and causing all kinds of health problems including tumors and organ failure as the recent studies suggest (5), the corporate heads came up with ‘’solution’’. When our organs will fail due to the consumption of Frankenfood, we will be able to replace them with new ones, grown for us in pigs! Pigs, they say, are almost our relatives! (6)

Here is what they say: ‘’Next to apes, pigs are pretty good matches for humans, physiologically speaking‘’.

Well, when I look at pigs, I don’t see anything in common with humans, not physiologically, not emotionally, not mentally and most definitely not spiritually. The only thing we share in common is a desire to live – one feature seen among all living beings on Earth, which is hardly noticed by science, much less by the proponents of eugenics.

So they’ve got us covered! Like the food and pharmaceutical industries. One is damaging our health, another is selling us drugs to repair the damage, or shall we say to suppress the symptoms? But I digress. The point being is that if we think that Frankenfood is the peak of the madness, we should think about Frankensteins coming from the labs! (7)

Among other things, Dwight Eisenhower, the 34th President of the United States has warned us that:

“The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded. Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of scientific technological elite.” ~ Dwight Eisenhower (8) 

Is it not what we are witnessing today?

How much bigger should be our outrage when we learn about scientific proposals to genetically modify our kids? And this modification is only a beginning. Human-animal hybrids are already on the way! (9)

Don’t we realize that monsters are coming and human rights would likely be claimed by these new life-forms? So far as a society we can’t even protect the rights of humans, let alone clones. It’s also important to remember that the State will be the legal parent of these creatures. Just think about the implications!

What will happen to the human race, when it begins marrying and mixing with lab made human-animal hybrids? Do we realize that this scientific nightmare will not end soon after we devour our popcorn while watching a sci-fi movie on the big screen?

How can we trust the scientists to mess with human DNA when only 3% of it is understood? The rest of it they have declared to be a ‘’DNA junk’’ – a label given to 97% of human DNA which function has not yet been identified.

Some scientists are saying that ‘’junk DNA has little specificity and conveys little or no selective advantage to the organism”.  However, there are others, who went even further by claiming that non-coding (junk) DNA was “selfish” and even detrimental since it was parasitic. In other words, that which hasn’t been understood by science is dismissed as invalid, declared as void and even deemed as harmful!

And these are the folks who are playing God?

In his article, oxford Professor Julian Savulescu, has made an attempt to separate himself from the eugenics movement by saying that people would have a choice:

‘’unlike the eugenics movements, which fell out of favour when it was adopted by the Nazis, the system would be voluntary and allow parents to choose the characteristics of their children.’’

But what choice do we have now that makes us think that more of it we’ll have in the future? Gorge Carlin has put it best…

George Carlin – The Illusion of Choice

George Carlin: The Illusion Of Choice

As we moving towards totalitarianism as a human society, it isn’t difficult to picture a future in which birth licenses would be issued and a mandatory embryo screening required, obligating the parents to do all necessary genetic modifications ‘’advised’’ by the medical doctors. There is already talk about whether the doctor should be able to override the parents:

‘’If the doctor feels that the parents’ decision is being made in unreasonable manner, he should be able to go to some other body with the authority to override the parents. I don’t think it should be just the doctor. A hospital ethics committee is better than a court, but a court is also a possibility’, proposes Peter Singer. (10)

So it well can be that like the one child policy in China, we soon will see a “no child policy unless genetically screened and modified”. In other words it would simply mean that no one would be allowed to have children unless approved by the government which will make it illegal to do it any other way. History is full of those examples.Among other states which implemented eugenics programs in the early 20th century, were North Carolina, which implemented it the longest, from 1929 to 1974 thousands of black and poor women were “persuaded” by the state and forced by other means to be sterilized. (11)

And as Mark Twain said: ‘’history rhymes’’ (meaning that history repeats itself), and we should be concerned about it.

In his speech the professor admits that ‘’by screening in and screening out certain genes in the embryos, it should be possible to influence how a child turns out. In the end, he said that “rational design” would help lead to a better, more intelligent and less violent society in the future.’’

But considering the fact that the ruling class is authoritarian and eugenics at heart, it’s highly unlikely that people will have any choice.

I wonder if I have to point out the likelihood of future generations being engineered as docile, obedient and apathetic at birth, guaranteeing that the status quo remains unchallenged. These clones would hardly have anything human other than human tissues. They would be artificial creatures devoid of humanness. I think the best way to understand this matter is to read Brave New World by Aldous Huxley or watch it here:

Brave New World (Full Version)

Brave New World(1980)-Full Length Movie.mp4

His brilliant work is the best testimony for what is coming if both mad scientists and the control freaks behind them are not stopped.

Bertrand Russell made a curious statement in ‘’The Impact of Science on Society’’ in 1951: “Diet, injections, and injunctions will combine, from a very early age, to produce the sort of character and the sort of beliefs that the authorities consider desirable, and any serious criticism of the powers that be will become psychologically impossible. Even if all are miserable, all will believe themselves happy, because the government will tell them that they are so.”

Do Russell’s words sound any different than those of the Oxford professor? The only difference I see is in the methods of achieving the same exact goal.

Why not to leave us alone and let us, parents, to decide for ourselves what’s ethical and what are our moral obligations?

Often we see how evil is done in the name of the good, like the wars in Libya, Syria and Iraq, all has been sold to us as being ‘’humanitarian’’ missions rescuing people by delivering them democracy packed in the ‘’peace’’ bombs which are then kindly dropped on their heads for the sake of their freedom. It seems to me that same exactly pattern is re-appearing here — breeding us out of existence for our own good by using medical science for political gain.

After all, we are just a commodity. (12)

George Carlin on Freedom of Choice

George Carlin on Freedom of Choice

Source: http://wakeup-world.com/2014/10/19/eugenics-the-emissaries-of-death-to-engineer-your-future/

 

Era of Transparency & Accountability Beginning for Politicians

An era of transparency & accountability is beginning for politicians.

Very shortly the U.S. Congress will shortly vote to make Economic Impact Assessments (EIAs) a mandatory part of every executive rule or regulation passed with an annual economic impact of $100 million or more (REINS Act SR226 & HR 47).

Elsewhere the rise of right wing politics in the EU and UK is forcing scrutiny on politicians and bringing them to account. In many democracies it may become mandatory to attach economic impact assessment statements to each piece of legislation  If this trend reaches an extreme we will see calls to have politicians and government unable to raise any debt. given their track record however, maybe this is not such a bad thing.

The Australian state of Queensland election is also forcing the incumbent Premier Newman to adopt transparency and accountability principles. We anticipate transparency and accountability will become the new fashion for liberal democratic governments over the next 3-5 years.

The ‘political hubris bubble’ is finally beginning to burst. Social mood is swinging into action and voters are acting on their long held distrust of politicians. Firstly they exercised their democratic privilege to put several governments into ‘hung parliament’ balances (UK, USA Australia) and now they are beginning to hold them accountable. The days where politicians can promise, over-commit and overspend is coming to an end.

Ten Reasons Why a Severe Drop in Oil Prices is a Problem

Gail Tverberg blogs on ourfiniteworld.com

Not long ago, I wrote Ten Reasons Why High Oil Prices are a Problem. If high oil prices can be a problem, how can low oil prices also be a problem? In particular, how can the steep drop in oil prices we have recently been experiencing also be a problem?

Let me explain some of the issues:

Issue 1. If the price of oil is too low, it will simply be left in the ground.

The world badly needs oil for many purposes: to power its cars, to plant it fields, to operate its oil-powered irrigation pumps, and to act as a raw material for making many kinds of products, including medicines and fabrics.

If the price of oil is too low, it will be left in the ground. With low oil prices, production may drop off rapidly. High price encourages more production and more substitutes; low price leads to a whole series of secondary effects (debt defaults resulting from deflation, job loss, collapse of oil exporters, loss of letters of credit needed for exports, bank failures) that indirectly lead to a much quicker decline in oil production.

The view is sometimes expressed that once 50% of oil is extracted, the amount of oil we can extract will gradually begin to decline, for geological reasons. This view is only true if high prices prevail, as we hit limits. If our problem is low oil prices because of debt problems or other issues, then the decline is likely to be far more rapid. With low oil prices, even what we consider to be proved oil reserves today may be left in the ground.

Issue 2. The drop in oil prices is already having an impact on shale extraction and offshore drilling.

While many claims have been made that US shale drilling can be profitable at low prices, actions speak louder than words. (The problem may be a cash flow problem rather than profitability, but either problem cuts off drilling.) Reuters indicates that new oil and gas well permits tumbled by 40% in November.

Offshore drilling is also being affected. Transocean, the owner of the biggest fleet of deep water drilling rigs, recently took a $2.76 billion charge, among a “drilling rig glut.”

3. Shale operations have a huge impact on US employment. 

Zero Hedge posted the following chart of employment growth, in states with and without current drilling from shale formations:

Jobs in States with and without Shale Formations, from Zero Hedge.

Figure 1. Jobs in States with and without Shale Formations, from Zero Hedge.

Clearly, the shale states are doing much better, job-wise. According to the article, since December 2007, shale states have added 1.36 million jobs, while non-shale states have lost 424,000 jobs. The growth in jobs includes all types of employment, including jobs only indirectly related to oil and gas production, such as jobs involved with the construction of a new supermarket to serve the growing population.

It might be noted that even the “Non-Shale” states have benefited to some extent from shale drilling. Some support jobs related to shale extraction, such as extraction of sand used in fracking, college courses to educate new engineers, and manufacturing of parts for drilling equipment, are in states other than those with shale formations. Also, all states benefit from the lower oil imports required.

Issue 4. Low oil prices tend to cause debt defaults that have wide ranging consequences. If defaults become widespread, they could affect bank deposits and international trade.

With low oil prices, it becomes much more difficult for shale drillers to pay back the loans they have taken out. Cash flow is much lower, and interest rates on new loans are likely much higher. The huge amount of debt that shale drillers have taken on suddenly becomes at-risk. Energy debt currently accounts for 16% of the US junk bond market, so the amount at risk is substantial.

Dropping oil prices affect international debt as well. The value of Venezuelan bonds recently fell to 51 cents on the dollar, because of the high default risk with low oil prices.  Russia’s Rosneft is also reported to be having difficulty with its loans.

There are many ways banks might be adversely affected by defaults, including

  • Directly by defaults on loans held be a bank
  • Indirectly, by defaults on securities the bank owns that relate to loans elsewhere
  • By derivative defaults made more likely by sharp changes in interest rates or in currency levels
  • By liquidity problems, relating to the need to quickly sell or buy securities related to ETFs

After the many bank bailouts in 2008, there has been discussion of changing the system so that there is no longer a need to bail out “too big to fail” banks. One proposal that has been discussed is to force bank depositors and pension funds to cover part of the losses, using Cyprus-style bail-ins. According to some reports, such an approach has been approved by the G20 at a meeting the weekend of November 16, 2014. If this is true, our bank accounts and pension plans could already be at risk.1

Another bank-related issue if debt defaults become widespread, is the possibility that junk bonds and Letters of Credit2 will become outrageously expensive for companies that have poor credit ratings. Supply chains often include some businesses with poor credit ratings. Thus, even businesses with good credit ratings may find their supply chains broken by companies that can no longer afford high-priced credit. This was one of the issues in the 2008 credit crisis.

Issue 5. Low oil prices can lead to collapses of oil exporters, and loss of virtually all of the oil they export.

The collapse of the Former Soviet Union in 1991 seems to be related to a drop in oil prices.

Figure 2. Oil production and price of the Former Soviet Union, based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2013.

Figure 2. Oil production and price of the Former Soviet Union, based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2013.

Oil prices dropped dramatically in the 1980s after the issues that gave rise to the earlier spike were mitigated. The Soviet Union was dependent on oil for its export revenue. With low oil prices, its ability to invest in new production was impaired, and its export revenue dried up. The Soviet Union collapsed for a number of reasons, some of them financial, in late 1991, after several years of low oil prices had had a chance to affect its economy.

Many oil-exporting countries are at risk of collapse if oil prices stay very low very long. Venezuela is a clear risk, with its big debt problem. Nigeria’s economy is reported to be “tanking.” Russia even has a possibility of collapse, although probably not in the near future.

Even apart from collapse, there is the possibility of increased unrest in the Middle East, as oil-exporting nations find it necessary to cut back on their food and oil subsidies. There is also more possibility of warfare among groups, including new groups such as ISIL. When everyone is prosperous, there is little reason to fight, but when oil-related funds dry up, fighting among neighbors increases, as does unrest among those with lower subsidies.

Issue 6. The benefits to consumers of a drop in oil prices are likely to be much smaller than the adverse impact on consumers of an oil price rise. 

When oil prices rose, businesses were quick to add fuel surcharges. They are less quick to offer fuel rebates when oil prices go down. They will try to keep the benefit of the oil price drop for themselves for as long as possible.

Airlines seem to be more interested in adding flights than reducing ticket prices in response to lower oil prices, perhaps because additional planes are already available. Their intent is to increase profits, through an increase in ticket sales, not to give consumers the benefit of lower prices.

In some cases, governments will take advantage of the lower oil prices to increase their revenue. China recently raised its oil products consumption tax, so that the government gets part of the benefit of lower prices. Malaysia is using the low oil prices as a time to reduce oil subsidies.

Most businesses recognize that the oil price drop is at most a temporary situation, since the cost of extraction continues to rise (because we are getting oil from more difficult-to-extract locations). Because the price drop this is only temporary, few business people are saying to themselves, “Wow, oil is cheap again! I am going to invest a huge amount of money in a new road building company [or other business that depends on cheap oil].” Instead, they are cautious, making changes that require little capital investment and that can easily be reversed. While there may be some jobs added, those added will tend to be ones that can easily be dropped if oil prices rise again.

Issue 7. Hoped for crude and LNG sales abroad are likely to disappear, with low oil prices.

There has been a great deal of publicity about the desire of US oil and gas producers to sell both crude oil and LNG abroad, so as to be able to take advantage of higher oil and gas prices outside the US. With a big drop in oil prices, these hopes are likely to be dashed. Already, we are seeing the story, Asia stops buying US crude oil. According to this story, “There’s so much oversupply that Middle East crudes are now trading at discounts and it is not economical to bring over crudes from the US anymore.”

LNG prices tend to drop if oil prices drop. (Some LNG prices are linked to oil prices, but even those that are not directly linked are likely to be affected by the lower demand for energy products.) At these lower prices, the financial incentive to export LNG becomes much less. Even fluctuating LNG prices become a problem for those considering investment in infrastructure such as ships to transport LNG.

Issue 8. Hoped-for increases in renewables will become more difficult, if oil prices are low.

Many people believe that renewables can eventually take over the role of fossil fuels. (I am not of view that this is possible.) For those with this view, low oil prices are a problem, because they discourage the hoped-for transition to renewables.

Despite all of the statements made about renewables, they don’t really substitute for oil. Biofuels come closest, but they are simply oil-extenders. We add ethanol made from corn to gasoline to extend its quantity. But it still takes oil to operate the farm equipment to grow the corn, and oil to transport the corn to the ethanol plant. If oil isn’t around, the biofuel production system comes to a screeching halt.

Issue 9. A major drop in oil prices tends to lead to deflation, and because of this, difficulty in repaying debts.

If oil prices rise, so do food prices, and the price of making most goods. Thus rising oil prices contribute to inflation. The reverse of this is true as well. Falling oil prices tend to lead to a lower price for growing food and a lower price for making most goods. The net result can be deflation. Not all countries are affected equally; some experience this result to a greater extent than others.

Those countries experiencing deflation are likely to eventually have problems with debt defaults, because it will become more difficult for workers to repay loans, if wages are drifting downward. These same countries are likely to experience an outflow of investment funds because investors realize that funds invested these countries will not earn an adequate return. This outflow of funds will tend to push their currencies down, relative to other currencies. This is at least part of what has been happening in recent months.

The value of the dollar has been rising rapidly, relative to many other currencies. Debt repayment is likely to especially be a problem for those countries where substantial debt is denominated in US dollars, but whose local currency has recently fallen in value relative to the US dollar.

Figure 3. US Dollar Index from Intercontinental Exchange

Figure 3. US Dollar Index from Intercontinental Exchange

The big increase in the US dollar index came since June 2014 (Figure 3), which coincides with the drop in oil prices. Those countries with low currency prices, including Japan, Europe, Brazil, Argentina, and South Africa, find it expensive to import goods of all kinds, including those made with oil products. This is part of what reduces demand for oil products.

China’s yuan is relatively closely tied to the dollar. The collapse of other currencies relative to the US dollar makes Chinese exports more expensive, and is part of the reason why the Chinese economy has been doing less well recently. There are no doubt other reasons why China’s growth is lower recently, and thus its growth in debt. China is now trying to lower the level of its currency.

Issue 10. The drop in oil prices seems to reflect a basic underlying problem: the world is reaching the limits of its debt expansion.

There is a natural limit to the amount of debt that a government, or business, or individual can borrow. At some point, interest payments become so high, that it becomes difficult to cover other needed expenses. The obvious way around this problem is to lower interest rates to practically zero, through Quantitative Easing (QE) and other techniques.

(Increasing debt is a big part of pumps up “demand” for oil, and because of this, oil prices. If this is confusing, think of buying a car. It is much easier to buy a car with a loan than without one. So adding debt allows goods to be more affordable. Reducing debt levels has the opposite effect.)

QE doesn’t work as a long-term technique, because it tends to create bubbles in asset prices, such as stock market prices and prices of farmland. It also tends to encourage investment in enterprises that have questionable chance of success. Arguably, investment in shale oil and gas operations are in this category.

As it turns out, it looks very much as if the presence or absence of QE may have an impact on oil prices as well (Figure 4), providing the “uplift” needed to keep oil prices high enough to cover production costs.

Figure 4. World

Figure 4. World “liquids production” (that is oil and oil substitutes) based on EIA data, plus OPEC estimates and judgment of author for August to October 2014. Oil price is monthly average Brent oil spot price, based on EIA data.

The sharp drop in price in 2008 was credit-related, and was only solved when the US initiated its program of QE started in late November 2008. Oil prices began to rise in December 2008. The US has had three periods of QE, with the last of these, QE3, finally tapering down and ending in October 2014. Since QE seems to have been part of the solution that stopped the drop in oil prices in 2008, we should not be surprised if discontinuing QE is contributing to the drop in oil prices now.

Part of the problem seems to be differential effect that happens when other countries are continuing to use QE, but the US not. The US dollar tends to rise, relative to other currencies. This situation contributes to the situation shown in Figure 3.

QE allows more borrowing from the future than would be possible if market interest rates really had to be paid. This allows financiers to temporarily disguise a growing problem of un-affordability of oil and other commodities.

The problem we have is that, because we live in a finite world, we reach a point where it becomes more expensive to produce commodities of many kinds: oil (deeper wells, fracking), coal (farther from markets, so more transport costs), metals (poorer ore quality), fresh water (desalination needed), and food (more irrigation needed). Wages don’t rise correspondingly, because more and more labor is needed to provide less and less actual benefit, in terms of the commodities produced and goods made from those commodities. Thus, workers find themselves becoming poorer and poorer, in terms of what they can afford to purchase.

QE allows financiers to disguise growing mismatch between what it costs to produce commodities, and what customers can really afford. Thus, QE allows commodity prices to rise to levels that are unaffordable by customers, unless customers’ lack of income is disguised by a continued growth in debt.

Once commodity prices (including oil prices) fall to levels that are affordable based on the incomes of customers, they fall to levels that cut out a large share of production of these commodities. As commodity production drops to levels that can be produced at affordable prices, so does the world’s ability to make goods and services. Unfortunately, the goods whose production is likely to be cut back if commodity production is cut back are those of every kind, including houses, cars, food, and electrical transmission equipment.

 Conclusion

There are really two different problems that a person can be concerned about:

  1. Peak oil: the possibility that oil prices will rise, and because of this production will fall in a rounded curve. Substitutes that are possible because of high prices will perhaps take over.
  2. Debt related collapse: oil limits will play out in a very different way than most have imagined, through lower oil prices as limits to growth in debt are reached, and thus a collapse in oil “demand” (really affordability). The collapse in production, when it comes, will be sharper and will affect the entire economy, not just oil.

In my view, a rapid drop in oil prices is likely a symptom that we are approaching a debt-related collapse–in other words, the second of these two problems. Underlying this debt-related collapse is the fact that we seem to be reaching the limits of a finite world. There is a growing mismatch between what workers in oil importing countries can afford, and the rising real costs of extraction, including associated governmental costs. This has been covered up to date by rising debt, but at some point, it will not be possible to keep increasing the debt sufficiently.

The timing of collapse may not be immediate. Low oil prices take a while to work their way through the system. It is also possible that the world’s financiers will put off a major collapse for a while longer, through more QE, or more programs related to QE. For example, actually getting money into the hands of customers would seem to be temporarily helpful.

At some point the debt situation will eventually reach a breaking point. One way this could happen is through an increase in interest rates. If this happens, world economic growth is likely to slow greatly. Oil and commodity prices will fall further. Debt defaults will skyrocket. Not only will oil production drop, but production of many other commodities will drop, including natural gas and coal. In such a scenario, the downslope of all energy use is likely to be quite steep, perhaps similar to what is shown in the following chart.

Figure 5. Estimate of future energy production by author. Historical data based on BP adjusted to IEA groupings.

Figure 5. Estimate of future energy production by author. Historical data based on BP adjusted to IEA groupings.

Related Articles:

Low Oil Prices: Sign of a Debt Bubble Collapse, Leading to the End of Oil Supply?

WSJ Gets it Wrong on “Why Peak Oil Predictions Haven’t Come True”

Eight Pieces of Our Oil Price Predicament

Notes:

[1] There is of course insurance by the FDIC and the PBGC, but the actual funding for these two insurance programs is tiny in relationship to the kind of risk that would occur if there were widespread debt defaults and derivative defaults affecting many banks and many pension plans at once. While depositors and pension holders might try to collect this insurance, there wouldn’t be enough money to actually cover these demands. This problem would be similar to the issue that arose in Iceland in 2008. Insurance would seem to be available, but in practice, would not pay out much.

[2] LOCs are required when goods are shipped internationally, before payment has actually been made. They offer a guarantee that a buyer will be able to “make good” on his promise to pay for goods when they arrive.

Source: http://ourfiniteworld.com/2014/12/07/ten-reasons-why-a-severe-drop-in-oil-prices-is-a-problem/

Rise of the New Libertarians: Meet Britain’s Next Political Generation

By

Westminster

Britain’s ‘Generation Y’, the under-30s, have fallen out of love with Westminster politics and the state(Reuters)

In the ruins of Westminster party politics, between the crumbling pillars of broken promises and the shattered glass of optimism, you’ll find Britain’s young people building something new.

They don’t need or want the British state and its creaking machinery. Like feats of Victorian engineering, these tired institutions are impressive, interesting, and have their place in history. But they’re not practical anymore, these dusty relics from the Age of Statism.

This is Generation Y. The under 30s who are the most liberal generation in British history, not just on social issues such as decriminalising marijuana and gay marriage, but on economic ones too.

Spawn of an anarchic internet culture that offers everything on demand and personalised to all whims and wants. Adolescents of austerity, who understand they can’t rely, as their parents and grandparents did, on the one-size-fits-all state as a provider. This generation knows what it wants: the grand prize of individual liberty and personal responsibility. But not for its own sake.

“I’m certainly not in favour of freedom if it doesn’t produce good outcomes. I just tend to think that most policies libertarians espouse are the ones that benefit the most people,” says Anton Howes, a PhD student at Kings College London researching the cultural causes of the British industrial revolution.

He’s also the founder and director of Liberty League in the UK, an umbrella organisation for the growing number of young libertarians across the country.

Jennifer Salisbury-Jones, communications manager at Liberty League and a recent physics graduate, is in agreement with her colleague Howes: a smaller state and less regulation can improve the lives of the poorest.

“Quite often, an interfering state, though it comes with the best intentions, makes life harder for the worst off and it doesn’t quite do what it was intending to do,” says Salisbury-Jones, who is also a campaigns manager at the Taxpayers Alliance, a well-known pressure group pushing for lower taxes.

“We do not pretend to know what is best for everyone, and so we feel that decisions are ideally taken by the persons directly affected by them,” says Mark S. Feldner, a law student and president of Cambridge Libertarians, a group for students at one of the world’s best universities.

“This scepticism about concentrated power, central planning and top-down regulation also encourages individuals to accept responsibility for their own actions.”

Young libertarians are also looking to Ukip’s newest hero, the Tory turncoat Douglas Carswell. A free market-loving, privatisation-touting, tax-cutting libertarian rascal, Carswell just won a by-election in Clacton – increasing his majority – after his defection from the Conservatives to become Ukip’s first elected MP.

Politics, but not party politics

Generation Y marks a noticeable shift in opinion when compared to other generations. They’re not that proud of the welfare state. They’re less trusting of the traditional big public institutions. They’re much more socially liberal, cosmopolitan, and internationalist.

They believe more in markets, lower tax and less regulation. They want to make their own decisions, not have the state – an overbearing parent, of sorts – make them on their behalf.

When the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition moved in 2013 to cap the total annual benefits a household can receive at £26,000, a YouGov survey found that 54% of 16 to 24-year-olds agreed with it against 16% in opposition.

As consequence, Generation Y has been slapped with several different Tory-centric monikers. Generation Right, Generation Boris, Thatcher’s Children. But these mis-characterise many of today’s younger voters.

“If you look at their voting intention, they are nearly twice as likely to be Labour than Conservative supporters,” says Bobby Duffy, managing director of pollster Ipsos MORI’s social research institute.

“It doesn’t really translate as much into political allegiance. There’s a little bit of a shift towards conservatism, but that’s not the main story.”

The main story, says Duffy, is the general disengagement with party politics. For the generation born before the Second World War, 70% feel engaged with political parties in Britain. Just 20% of under-30s feel that connection.

This chasm is enormous. But don’t assume Generation Y is apathetic or politically inactive.

Welfare state - generational pride poll

Generation Y are much less proud of the welfare state than their parents and grandparents.(Ipsos MORI)

“They’re much more used to identifying an issue, grouping together around that issue to try to solve it or improve it, and then dissolving and moving on to the next issue,” Duffy says.

“It’s not the whole manifesto approach where you’ve got to buy into some things you may not necessarily agree with. That doesn’t fit with a generation used to tailoring.”

The internet and new social technologies, and the fluidity and flexibility they bring, have shaped this change. It’s easy for a generation used to Twitter and Facebook to cluster around a single campaign, send it viral and use the groundswell of publicity and support to strong-arm politicians.

It’s not so easy to join a party, work your way up and, if your original views survive untarnished by all the boot-licking and compromise just to get ahead, bring about change from the inside. You’d be fed in as a pork chop, minced up with the party’s offal, and funnelled out an unpleasant sausage.

And today’s young people have been through the global financial crisis. Though this event was billed by many leftists as a catastrophic failure of neo-liberalism, prophesied by Karl Marx, which would drive young people towards the left-wing, it seems to have done the opposite.

Years of austerity and public spending cuts have changed Generation Y, but not in the way some expected. Rather than fuelling anger among young people that the state is being chipped away, many are absorbing the message of individualism, of DIY solutions to personal, community and societal problems.

They simply don’t need the state anymore. You’re more likely to find them working in social enterprises and charities than in the hallowed Westminster halls of Whitehall.

“The combination of these attitudes – often described as socially liberal and fiscally conservative – cannot be found within established political parties,” says Feldner of Cambridge Libertarians.

“Libertarianism thus provides an intuitively appealing set of beliefs for those who do not feel represented by the political mainstream. Unless and until libertarian ideas are adopted by the establishment, this trend is likely to continue.”

Changing the image

There’s a crude perception of libertarianism thanks to what we might call “tabloid libertarians”, the well-known loudmouths who like to argue for the sake of arguing, take the concept of freedom to logical extremes and idolise the wealthiest of the wealthy, prioritising the protection of the 1%’s capital above all else in society.

And the image of libertarianism isn’t helped by movements such as the Tea Party in the US, a mob of gun-toting southern state conservatives who hate taxes and sit on their porches clutching a 12-bore to protect their property from the federal government.

Many libertarians don’t class the Tea Party as libertarian at all, because they’re not holistically liberal. Though the Tea Party may be economically libertarian, they’re prim social conservatives too, and aligned to the likes of Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin.

But still, brand libertarianism is tarnished by these placard-waving yokels and maniacal patriots.

At just 26, Sam Bowman is already research director at the Adam Smith Institute (ASI), a free market libertarian think tank in London. He uses the dating app Tinder and says his job piques some interest because it’s a little different. While it’s won him dates, some women ask: “Is that like Sarah Palin?”

Sam Bowman

Sam Bowman(YouTube)

“So if I’m facing that when I’m trying to get a date on Tinder, imagine how big that is when we’re trying to argue on Sky News that this particular tax cut is good because it’s going to help the poor,” he says.

“If people in the backs of their minds are thinking this guy’s basically Sarah Palin, or Glenn Beck, then we’re in big trouble.”

Bowman has made it his own personal mission, as well as that of the ASI, to remould how people react to libertarianism. To make their ideas appeal not just to the right, but also the left.

“We’ve made a concerted effort. It’s been conscious. We want to make our arguments on the basis of how they would affect the poor because rich people can basically look after themselves,” he says.

Negative income tax

One the ways Bowman has sought to subvert people’s preconceptions of libertarianism is to advocate the negative income tax, an idea closely associated with the free market economist Milton Friedman and a means of redistributing wealth from the top to the bottom.

Put simply, it works by establishing a minimum income that people need to meet a basic standard of living. Those earning under the threshold are given a tax credit to top them up. Those earning above begin to pay income tax, the rate of which increases depending on your earnings.

Bowman says this would be a “radical simplification” of the welfare system to make it cheaper to administrate and less bureaucratic for those needing to use it, while making sure the poorest have enough money to live on. And, of course, that the richest pay their fair share.

Another part of Bowman’s strategy is to focus on important individual issues instead of taking a broad-brush libertarian approach.

“What we want is to give a version of libertarian ideas in a way that is appealing and accessible to non-libertarians,” he says.

“We’re not trying to convert people to libertarianism. We’re trying to get non-libertarians to adopt a few of our ideas.”

One example is a paper by Bowman on free banking in an independent Scotland. His solution to the currency question proposed allowing banks to issue their own promissory notes tied to whatever reserves were desired, be that sterling or otherwise, to create a more efficient and flexible money supply.

“We got a lot of coverage of that. Where we succeeded with that was to make it relevant to a very interesting debate at the time,” he says.

“Even though free banking’s not going to happen in Scotland – that’s fantasy – what we did was to get people to start thinking seriously about the idea. And not as part of a big lump of ‘this is libertarianism and you have to adopt this’ but as an individual idea. Let’s consider this on its merits.”

Bleeding heart libertarians

The cause of changing people’s opinions about libertarianism is shared by many of its young advocates because they want to show the public that they aren’t a bunch of selfish Objectivists who go doe-eyed for Ayn Rand and Donald Trump. The young want libertarianism to grow up.

Salisbury-Jones of Liberty League doesn’t know any young British libertarians who have come to the movement via Rand, whose most famous novel is Atlas Shrugged.

Jennifer Salisbury-Jones

Jennifer Salisbury-Jones(Liberty League)

“I think in the UK people are much more likely to identify as bleeding heart libertarians than Randians and how it can be applied to social justice rather than objectivism,” she says.

“People come to libertarianism because they feel very strongly about free speech, or whatever else, then they look it up and come to the rest of it. That the burden of taxation and regulation on the poorest should be lower.”

For Howes, the battle for open-mindedness about libertarianism is already won. To him, it’s “not even a challenge anymore”. The age of libertarians as eccentric, male, white, radical Tories is over.

At the annual Freedom Forum conference held by Liberty League, which brings people together for debates, lectures, training and socialising, Howes says he has seen the makeup of attendees change dramatically since 2011.

“This year it seems as though everyone is just… I want to say ‘normal’, but that’s not the right word,” says Howes.

“You see what I’m getting at there – non-political, non-partisan, eclectic. If I took a random sample of a group of undergrads at any university, they’d look like that. That seems to me what it actually looks like now. That’s a really big change and one that is already happening as we speak.”

Alexandra Swann, 26, once dubbed the “future face of Ukip” but who fell out with the party over its stance on immigration, says the movement needs to “widen the understanding of what libertarianism actually is”.

“A large proportion of the small percentage of the populace who have heard of libertarianism equate it with cold-hearted capitalism, a hatred of the poor and a return to 19thC values with the obligatory poor-house and no roads (because who on earth could build a road if not the state?),” says Swann, who is a columnist for Breitbart London.

“We must find a way to condense our message and decide our goals. I’m finally accepting that my libertarian utopia will not be achieved in this lifetime, governments have far too successfully entrenched their existence and bred a population that needs and relies on them both physically and for guidance of sorts.

“Government, especially the NHS, is the new religion; to criticise it is blasphemy. Modern libertarians must show alternatives to big government solutions.”

Entryism?

For Liberty League and the ASI at least, the challenge for sustaining the momentum of libertarianism’s rise in popularity is also about getting people from the movement into positions of influence within society.

Be that in academia, the media, the civil service, Westminster politics, or even literature. Creating tomorrow’s libertarian journalists, novelists, politicians and wonks who can propagate the ideas, particularly by trying to drum up support in universities. Which sounds a bit like entryism.

Anton Howes

Anton Howes(Liberty League)

“In a sense yes, except that we’re not focused on any particular institution to be entryist to. It’s more a sort of scatter-gun approach. We’ll just support them in whatever field they want to go into,” says Howes.

“I’d love to have more English students wanting to become novelists, or more film students wanting to make documentaries. That’s a bit rarer because people tend to be more interested in economics, philosophy and politics and you don’t really get many people with those skill sets. But whatever it is that they want to do I’d want them at some stage to be very effective.

“Hayek calls them second-hand dealers in ideas. So you have these ideas running around, mostly coming from academics and being produced by intellectuals, then people who are able to disseminate them make them much more approachable, help them make sense to a much broader section of the population.”

Ukip

Not every young person agrees in rejecting party politics. Jack Duffin is a chef-turned-politico. At just 22 he’s readying up to fight for a seat in parliament at the 2015 general election in the in Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency, where his biggest rival for the seat is none other than London’s incumbent mayor, Boris Johnson.

Duffin’s party is Ukip, where he chairs the youth wing Young Independence.

“A big state’s a bad thing because you have to be taxed more, there’s less of a safety net for people when they come into economically hard times, because everyone who is employed by the state doesn’t generate money,” says Duffin, who is attracted by libertarianism, but doesn’t want to give himself a particular label.

Jack Duffin

Jack Duffin(Young Independence)

“Obviously there are key people you need, like doctors and everything, but the more people you employ on the state, the more damage it does to private industry. If we had a small state that was manageable, then there’s less taxes, people can spend their money the way they want to spend their money.

“And it’s a choice, at the end of the day. We shouldn’t be telling everyone how they’re going to spend their money, ramping up taxes just to keep providing for this bloated state.”

There was a time when Ukip was seen as the British libertarian party. Its commitment to a flat rate of income tax, its desire to reduce state spending and wreak privatisation through what’s left of the public sector.

This image has worn off somewhat as the party hoovers up old Labour and Tory voters, who are British traditionalists yearning for a lost mythical post-war England, before the rot of multiculturalism supposedly set in.

It’s revealed itself to be socially conservative by opposing gay marriage. Its views on immigration – Ukip thinks there should be much less of it – are also anathema to many libertarians.

Duffin defends the party’s position on gay marriage. It’s not about limiting gay rights, but protecting those of the religious. He says he supports legalising gay marriage in principle, but not in practice because the Supreme Court is not the highest court in the land.

He fears that religious organisations will be forced under European human rights law to conduct gay ceremonies against their wishes. Therefore until the UK leaves the European Convention on Human Rights, religious rights are under threat because of the legalisation of gay marriage.

But young libertarians are still signing up to Ukip. Duffin says since he took over as chairman in February 2014, the number of members has increased from 1,700 to 2,600.

“Young people are realising there’s a change out there. So rather than just not getting involved in politics at all, which a lot would do if Ukip wasn’t around, they’re actually turning to Ukip as a way to change everything,” he says.

He also says young people are realising that the size of the state is out of control in the UK and that they like the seemingly blunt authenticity of Nigel Farage, Ukip’s leader, who thinks he is the antithesis of the Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) at Oxford-then-parliament merry-go-round of Westminster.

“Obviously there is a role for the state, but it needs to be manageable. So many pen-pushers. Just look at the NHS. The whole middle layer of the NHS is bureaucracy. It’s a waste. That money would be much better spent on the front line,” he says.

“Young people are looking at this. They’re seeing it in schools as the classroom size increases the amount of different teaching staff, and quango-style stuff – people have had enough of it.”

Douglas Carswell

Defector Carswell of Ukip(Getty)

The Future

What does libertarianism’s future look like in Britain? Today’s young libertarians are working hard to create a solid platform on which to build.

They’re softening up the public to libertarian ideas and showing people they don’t have the lowest motivations, but share the same concerns as everyone else for improving the conditions of society’s worst off.

As digital natives, they may get a leg up from new technology that empowers consumers and businesses by slipping through the tentacled grip of burdensome state regulation.

Apps such as taxi ordering service Uber, which has drastically reduced the costs to consumers of a cab journey in the cities where it’s used by increasing competition and evading bureaucratic licensing terms.

Or cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, which operate outside of the realm of financial regulation and monetary policy frameworks, powered organically by a sprawling network of dedicated developers and enthusiasts. Most of the internet these days hang on the edge of their seat for bitcoin updates and news. The potential has been felt around the world and it is truly a unique time.

In Howes’ words, technology will “undercut a lot of the existing hierarchy”.

There’s one snag: the state will always try to catch up. The loophole advantage of legal grey areas exploited by new technologies is often closed. Uber has faced court challenges and financial regulators across the world are working out if and how to police cryptocurrencies.

“When the state cracks down on Uber, people see the state cracking down on a technology they like,” Salisbury-Jones says.

“They disapprove of this. They think this is the old establishment cracking down on something that I like and is successful. They don’t necessarily consider themselves libertarian, but they fundamentally dislike the state interfering in things they think are fine.”

She’s optimistic about the future. That in 20 years’ time, the government won’t see a problem and ask what it and it alone can do to solve it. Instead, it will look at what it’s doing to make things worse and get out of the way.

Even if the attitude of government doesn’t change, Salisbury-Jones and other young libertarians can look with optimism at those even younger than them. Ipsos MORI’s Generation Next survey of 11 to 16-year-olds seems to confirm that the ideas of personal responsibility and individualism are growing in appeal among tomorrow’s adults.

Just 4% of more than 2,700 secondary school pupils surveyed said the welfare state made them most proud to be British. The winner was Team GB, the Olympians, at 28%. And only 2% said benefits were the most important focus for government spending, though 11% did prioritise looking after the poor.

Moreover, 51% said it doesn’t matter whether you come from a poor or rich family when it comes to getting a well-paid job. This suggests a majority believe career success these days can be powered by the efforts of the individual to overcome the barriers put in place by growing up in a low income household.

“The underlying theory of social change is one that relies on ideas winning out,” Howes says.

“It relies on the people who are talking about those ideas being as well placed as possible in the future to be able to get those ideas to a much broader audience.”

If today’s growing mass of young libertarians cling on to their beliefs as they get older and more world-weary; if they find their way into positions of influence and power across Britain; libertarianism will have won out. It looks like change is coming.

“The thing with libertarianism is we are a rather nice bunch who do not want to inflict our views on other people,” says Swann.

“We are the carrot without the stick, so to speak. All we can do is hope the current climate of disillusionment toward Westminster politics coupled with the state’s virtual bankruptcy, both moral and fiscal, provide the perfect storm to propel the wings of political change.

“Libertarianism is increasingly popular with young people. There is hope yet.”

Source: http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/rise-new-libertarians-meet-britains-next-political-generation-1469233

The future is smaller– that’s the only way this works

Simon Black writing for SovereignMan.

Andorra

Leopold Kohr was a rather obscure Austrian economist from the early 20th century who spent the better part of his career railing against the ‘cult of bigness’.

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World Oil Production at 3/31/2014–Where are We Headed?

Gail Tverberg blogs on Our Finite World.

The standard way to make forecasts of almost anything is to look at recent trends and assume that this trend will continue, at least for the next several years. With world oil production, the trend in oil production looks fairly benign, with the trend slightly upward (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Quarterly crude and condensate oil production, based on EIA data.

Figure 1. Quarterly crude and condensate oil production, based on EIA data.

If we look at the situation more closely, however, we see that we are dealing with an unstable situation. The top ten crude oil producing countries have a variety of problems (Figure 2). Middle Eastern producers are particularly at risk of instability, thanks to the advances of ISIS and the large number of refugees moving from one country to another.

Figure 2. Top ten crude oil and condensate producers during first quarter of 2014, based on EIA data.

Figure 2. Top ten crude oil and condensate producers during first quarter of 2014, based on EIA data.

Relatively low oil prices are part of the problem as well. The cost of producing oil is rising much more rapidly than its selling price, as discussed in my post Beginning of the End? Oil Companies Cut Back on Spending. In fact, the selling price of oil hasn’t really risen since 2011 (Figure 3), because citizens can’t afford higher oil prices with their stagnating wages.

Figure 3. Average weekly oil prices, based on EIA data.

Figure 3. Average weekly oil prices, based on EIA data.

The fact that the selling price of oil remains flat tends to lead to political instability in oil exporters because they cannot collect the taxes required to provide programs needed to pacify their people (food and fuel subsidies, water provided by desalination, jobs programs, etc.) without very high oil prices. Low oil prices also make the plight of oil exporters with declining oil production worse, including Russia, Mexico, and Venezuela.

Many people when looking at future oil supply concern themselves with the amount of reserves (or resources) remaining, or perhaps Energy Return on Energy Invested (EROEI). None of these is really the right limit, however. The limiting factor is how long our current networked economic system can hold together. There are lots of oil reserves left, and the EROEI of Middle Eastern oil is generally quite high (that is, favorable). But instability could still bring the system down. So could popping of the US oil supply bubble through higher interest rates or more stringent lending rules.

The Top Two Crude Oil Producers: Russia and Saudi Arabia

When we look at quarterly crude oil production (including condensate, using EIA data), we see that Russia’s crude oil production tends to be a lot smoother than Saudi Arabia’s (Figure 4). We also see that since the third quarter of 2006, Russia’s crude oil production tends to be higher than Saudi Arabia’s.

Figure 4.  Comparison of quarterly oil production for Russia and Saudi Arabia, based on EIA data.

Figure 4. Comparison of quarterly oil production (crude + condensate) for Russia and Saudi Arabia, based on EIA data.

Both Russia and Saudi Arabia are headed toward problems now. Russia’s Finance Minister has recently announced that its oil production has hit and peak, and is expected to fall, causing financial difficulties. In fact, if we look at monthly EIA data, we see that November 2013 is the highest month of production, and that every month of production since that date has dropped from this level. So far, the drop in oil production has been relatively small, but when an oil exporter is depending on tax revenue from oil to fund government programs, even a small drop in production (without a higher oil price) is a financial problem.

We see in Figure 4 above that Saudi Arabia’s quarterly oil production is quite erratic, compared to oil production of Russia. Part of the reason Saudi Arabia’s oil production is so erratic is that it extends the life of its fields by periodically relaxing (reducing) production from them. It also reacts to oil price changes–if the oil price is too low, as in the latter part of 2008 and in 2009, Saudi oil production drops. The tendency to jerk oil production around gives the illusion that Saudi Arabia has spare production capacity. It is doubtful at this point that it has much true spare capacity. It makes a good story, though, which news media are willing to repeat endlessly.

Saudi Arabia has not been able to raise oil exports for years (Figure 5). It gained a reputation for its oil exports back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and has been able to rest on its laurels. Its high “proven reserves” (which have never been audited, and are doubted by many) add to the illusion that it can produce any amount it wants.

Figure 5. Comparison of Russian and Saudi Arabian oil exports, based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2014 data. Pre-1985 Russian amounts estimated based on Former Soviet Union amounts.

Figure 5. Comparison of Russian and Saudi Arabian oil exports, based on BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2014 data (oil production minus oil consumption). Pre-1985 Russian amounts estimated based on Former Soviet Union amounts.

In 2013, oil exports from Russia were equal to 88% of Saudi Arabian oil exports. The world is very close to being as dependent on Russian oil exports as it is on Saudi Arabian oil exports. Most people don’t realize this relationship.

The current instability of the Middle East has not hit Saudi Arabia yet, but there is increased fighting all around. Saudi Arabia is not immune to the problems of the other countries. According to BBC, there is already a hidden uprising taking place in eastern Saudi Arabia.

US Oil Production is a Bubble of Very Light Oil

The US is the world’s third largest producer of crude and condensate. Recent US crude oil production shows a “spike” in tight oil productions–that is, production using hydraulic fracturing, generally in shale formations (Figure 6).

Figure 6. US crude oil production split between tight oil (from shale formations), Alaska, and all other, based on EIA data. Shale is from  AEO 2014 Early Release Overview.

Figure 6. US crude oil production split between tight oil (from shale formations), Alaska, and all other, based on EIA data. Shale is from AEO 2014 Early Release Overview.

If we look at recent data on a quarterly basis, the trend in production also looks very favorable.

Figure 7. US Crude and condensate production by quarter, based on EIA data.

Figure 7. US Crude and condensate production by quarter, based on EIA data.

The new crude is much lighter than traditional crude. According to the Wall Street Journal, the expected split of US crude is as follows:

Figure 8. Wall Street Journal image illustrating the expected mix of US crude oil.

Figure 8. Wall Street Journal image illustrating the expected mix of US crude oil.

There are many issues with the new “oil” production:

The other issue with “tight oil” production (that is, production from shale formations) is that its production seems to be a “bubble.”  The big increase in oil production (Figure 6) came since 2009 when oil prices were high and interest rates were very low. Cash flow from these operations tends to be negative. If interest rates should rise, or if oil prices should fall, the system is likely to hit a limit. Another potential problem is oil companies hitting borrowing limits, so that they cannot add more wells.

Without US oil production, world crude oil production would have been on a plateau since 2005.

Figure 9. World crude and condensate, excluding US  production, based on EIA data.

Figure 9. World crude and condensate, excluding US production, based on EIA data.

Canadian Oil Production

The other recent success story with respect to oil production is Canada, the world’s fifth largest producer of crude and condensate. Thanks to the oil sands, Canadian oil production has more than doubled since the beginning of 1994 (Figure 10).

Figure 10. Canadian quarterly crude oil (and condensate) production based on EIA data.

Figure 10. Canadian quarterly crude oil (and condensate) production based on EIA data.

Of course, there are environmental issues with respect to both oil from the oil sands and US tight oil. When we get to the “bottom of the barrel,” we end up with the less environmentally desirable types of oil. This is part of our current problem, and one reason why we are reaching limits.

Oil Production in China, Iraq, and Iran

In the first quarter of 2014, China was the fourth largest producer of crude oil. Iraq was sixth, and Iran was seventh (based on Figure 2 above). Let’s first look at the oil production of China and Iran.

Figure 11. China and Iran crude and condensate production by quarter based on EIA data.

Figure 11. China and Iran crude and condensate production by quarter based on EIA data.

As of 2010, Iran was the fourth largest producer of crude oil in the world. Iran has had so many sanctions against it that it is hard to figure out a base period, prior to sanctions. If we compare Iran’s first quarter 2014 oil production to its most recent high production in the second quarter of 2010, oil production is now down about 870,000 barrels a day. If sanctions are removed and warfare does not become too much of a problem, oil production could theoretically rise by about this amount.

China has relatively more stable oil production than Iran. One concern now is that China’s oil production is no longer rising very much. Oil production for the fourth quarter of 2013 is approximately tied with oil production for the fourth quarter of 2012. The most recent quarter of oil production is down a bit. It is not clear whether China will be able to maintain its current level of production, which is the reason I mention the possibility of a decline in oil production in Figure 2.

The lack of growth in China’s oil supplies may be behind its recent belligerence in dealing with Viet Nam and Japan. It is not only exporters that become disturbed when oil supplies are not to their liking. Oil importers also become disturbed, because oil supplies are vital to the economy of all nations.

Now let’s add Iraq to the oil production chart for Iran and China.

Figure 12. Quarterly crude oil and condensate production for Iran, China, and Iraq, based on EIA data.

Figure 12. Quarterly crude oil and condensate production for Iran, China, and Iraq, based on EIA data.

Thanks to improvements in oil production in Iraq, and sanctions against Iran, oil production for Iraq slightly exceeds that of Iran in the first quarter of 2014. However, given Iraq’s past instability in oil production, and its current problems with ISIS and with Kurdistan, it is hard to expect that Iraq will be a reliable oil producer in the future. In theory Iraq’s oil production can rise a few million barrels a day over the next 10 or 20 years, but we can hardly count on it.

The Oil Price Problem that Adds to Instability

Figure 13 shows my view of the mismatch between (1) the price oil producers need to extract their oil and (2) the price consumers can afford. The cost of extraction (broadly defined including taxes required by governments) keeps rising while “ability to pay” has remained flat since 2007. The inability of consumers to pay high prices for oil (because wages are not rising very much) explains why oil prices have remained relatively flat in Figure 3 (near the top of this post), even while there is fighting in the Middle East.

Figure 3. Comparison of oil price per barrel needed (Brent) with ability to pay. Amounts based on judgement of author.

Figure 13. Comparison of oil price per barrel needed by producers (Brent) with ability to pay. Amounts based on judgment of author.

When the selling price is lower than the full cost of production (including the cost of investing in new wells and paying dividends to shareholders), the tendency is to reduce production, one way or another. This reduction can be voluntarily, in the form of a publicly traded company buying back stock or selling off acreage.

Alternatively, the cutback can be involuntary, indirectly caused by political instability. This happens because oil production is typically heavily taxed in oil exporting nations. If the oil price remains too low, taxes collected tend to be too low, making it impossible to fund programs such as food and fuel subsidies, desalination plants, and jobs programs. Without adequate programs, there tend to be uprisings and civil disorder.

If a person looks closely at Figure 13, it is clear that in 2014, we are out in “Wile E. Coyote Territory.” The broadly defined cost of oil extraction (including required taxes by exporters) now exceeds the ability of consumers to pay for oil. As a result, oil prices barely spike at all, even when there are major Middle Eastern disruptions (Figure 3, above).

The reason why Wile E. Coyote situation can take place at all is because it takes a while for the mismatch between costs and prices to work its way through the system. Independent oil companies can decide to sell off acreage and buy back shares of stock but it takes a while for these actions to actually take place. Furthermore, the mismatch between needed oil prices and charged oil prices tends to get worse over time for oil exporters. This lays the groundwork for increasing dissent within these countries.

With oil prices remaining relatively flat, importers become complacent because they don’t understand what is happening.  It looks like we have no problem when, in fact, there really is a fairly big problem, lurking behind the scenes.

To make matters worse, it is becoming more and more difficult to continue Quantitative Easing, a program that tends to hold down longer-term interest rates. The expectation is that the program will be discontinued by October 2014. The reason why the price of oil has stayed as high as it has in the last several years is because of the effects of quantitative easing and ultra low interest rates. If it weren’t for these, oil prices would fall, because consumers would need to pay much more for goods bought on credit, leaving less for the purchase of oil products. See my recent post, The Connection Between Oil Prices, Debt Levels, and Interest Rates.

Figure 4. Big credit related drop in oil prices that occurred in late 2008 is now being mitigated by Quantitative Easing and very low interest rates.

Figure 14. Big credit related drop in oil prices that occurred in late 2008 is now being mitigated by Quantitative Easing and very low interest rates.

Because of the expectation that Quantitative Easing will end by October 2014 and the pressure to tighten credit conditions, my expectation is that the affordable price of oil will start dropping in late 2014, as shown in Figure 13. The growing disparity between what consumers can afford and what producers need tends to make the Wile E. Coyote overshoot condition even worse. It is likely to lead to more problems with instability in the Middle East, and a collapse of the US oil production bubble.

Conclusion

I explained earlier that we live in a networked economy, and this fact changes the way economic models work. Many people have developed models of future oil production assuming that the appropriate model is a “bell curve,” based on oil depletion rates and the inability to geologically extract more oil. Unfortunately, this isn’t the right model.

The situation is far more complex than simple geological decline models assume. There are multiple limits involved–prices needed by oil producers, prices affordable by oil importers, and prices for other products, such as water and food. Interest rates are also important. There are time lags involved between the time the Wile E. Coyote situation begins, and the actions to fix this mismatch takes place. It is this time lag that tends to make drop-offs very steep.

The fact that we are dealing with political instability means that multiple fuels are likely to be affected at once. Clearly natural gas exports from the Middle East will be affected at the same time as oil exports. Many other spillover effects are likely to happen as well. US businesses without oil will need to cut back on operations. This will lead to job layoffs and reduced electricity use. With lower electricity demand, prices for electricity as well as for coal and natural gas will tend to drop. Electricity companies will increasingly face bankruptcy, and fuel suppliers will reduce operations.

Thus, we cannot expect decline to follow a bell curve. The real model of future energy consumption crosses many disciplines at once, making the situation difficult to model.  The Reserves / Current Production model gives a vastly too high indication of future production, for a variety of reasons–rising cost of extraction because of diminishing returns, need for high prices and taxes to support the operations of exporters, and failure to consider interest rates.

The Energy Return on Energy Invested model looks at a narrowly defined ratio–usable energy acquired at the “well-head,” compared to energy expended at the “well-head” disregarding many things–including taxes, labor costs, cost of borrowing money, and required dividends to stockholders to keep the system going. All of these other items also represent an allocation of available energy. A multiplier can theoretically adjust for all of these needs, but this multiplier tends to change over time, and it tends to differ from energy source to energy source.

The EROEI ratio is probably adequate for comparing two “like products”–say tight oil produced in North Dakota vs tight oil produced in Texas, or a ten year change in North Dakota energy ratios, but it doesn’t work well when comparing dissimilar types of energy. In particular, the model tends to be very misleading when comparing an energy source that requires subsidies to an energy source that puts off huge tax revenue to support local governments.

When there are multiple limits that are being encountered, it is the financial system that brings all of the limits together. Furthermore, it is governments that are at risk of failing, if enough surplus energy is not produced. It is very difficult to build models that cross academic areas, so we tend to find models that reflect “silo” thinking of one particular academic specialty. These models can offer some insight, but it is easy to assume that they have more predictive value than they do.

Unfortunately, the limits we are reaching seem to be financial and political in nature. If these are the real limits, we seem to be not far away from the simultaneous drop in the production of many energy products. This type of limit gives a much steeper drop off than the frequently quoted symmetric “bell curve of oil production.” The shape of the drop off corresponds to (1) the type of drop off experienced by previous civilizations when they collapsed, (2) the type of drop-off I have forecast for world energy consumption, and (3) Ugo Bardi’s Seneca cliff.  The 1972 book Limits to Growth by Donella Meadows et al. says (page 125), “The behavior mode of of the system shown in figure 35 is clearly that of overshoot and collapse,” so it tends to come to the same conclusion as well.

Source: http://ourfiniteworld.com/2014/07/23/world-oil-production-at-3312014-where-are-we-headed/

The open source revolution is coming and it will conquer the 1% – ex CIA spy

The man who trained more than 66 countries in open source methods calls for re-invention of intelligence to re-engineer Earth
 A businessman tries to break through a line of Occupy Wall Street protesters who had blocked access to the New York Stock Exchange area in November 2011.
A businessman tries to break through a line of Occupy Wall Street protesters who had blocked access to the New York Stock Exchange area in November 2011. Photograph: Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images

Robert David Steele, former Marine, CIA case officer, and US co-founder of the US Marine Corps intelligence activity, is a man on a mission. But it’s a mission that frightens the US intelligence establishment to its core.
With 18 years experience working across the US intelligence community, followed by 20 more years in commercial intelligence and training, Steele’s exemplary career has spanned almost all areas of both the clandestine world.

Steele started off as a Marine Corps infantry and intelligence officer. After four years on active duty, he joined the CIA for about a decade before co-founding the Marine Corps Intelligence Activity, where he was deputy director. Widely recognised as the leader of the Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) paradigm, Steele went on to write the handbooks on OSINT for NATO, the US Defense Intelligence Agency and the U.S. Special Operations Forces. In passing, he personally trained 7,500 officers from over 66 countries.

In 1992, despite opposition from the CIA, he obtained Marine Corps permission to organise a landmark international conference on open source intelligence – the paradigm of deriving information to support policy decisions not through secret activities, but from open public sources available to all. The conference was such a success it brought in over 620 attendees from the intelligence world.

But the CIA wasn’t happy, and ensured that Steele was prohibited from running a second conference. The clash prompted him to resign from his position as second-ranking civilian in Marine Corps intelligence, and pursue the open source paradigm elsewhere. He went on to found and head up the Open Source Solutions Network Inc. and later the non-profit Earth Intelligence Network which runs the Public Intelligence Blog.

Robert David Steele
Former CIA spy and Open Source Intelligence pioneer, Robert David Steele speaking at the Inter-American Defense Board in 2013

I first came across Steele when I discovered his Amazon review of my third book, The War on Truth: 9/11, Disinformation and the Anatomy of Terrorism. A voracious reader, Steele is the number 1 Amazon reviewer for non-fiction across 98 categories. He also reviewed my latest book, A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilization, but told me I’d overlooked an important early work – ‘A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility, Report of the UN High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges, and Change.’

Last month, Steele presented a startling paper at the Libtech conference in New York, sponsored by the Internet Society and Reclaim. Drawing on principles set out in his latest book, The Open-Source Everything Manifesto: Transparency, Truth and Trust, he told the audience that all the major preconditions for revolution – set out in his 1976 graduate thesis – were now present in the United States and Britain.

Steele’s book is a must-read, a powerful yet still pragmatic roadmap to a new civilisational paradigm that simultaneously offers a trenchant, unrelenting critique of the prevailing global order. His interdisciplinary ‘whole systems’ approach dramatically connects up the increasing corruption, inefficiency and unaccountability of the intelligence system and its political and financial masters with escalating inequalities and environmental crises. But he also offers a comprehensive vision of hope that activist networks like Reclaim are implementing today.

“We are at the end of a five-thousand-year-plus historical process during which human society grew in scale while it abandoned the early indigenous wisdom councils and communal decision-making,” he writes in The Open Source Everything Manifesto. “Power was centralised in the hands of increasingly specialised ‘elites’ and ‘experts’ who not only failed to achieve all they promised but used secrecy and the control of information to deceive the public into allowing them to retain power over community resources that they ultimately looted.”

Today’s capitalism, he argues, is inherently predatory and destructive:

“Over the course of the last centuries, the commons was fenced, and everything from agriculture to water was commoditised without regard to the true cost in non-renewable resources. Human beings, who had spent centuries evolving away from slavery, were re-commoditised by the Industrial Era.”

Open source everything, in this context, offers us the chance to build on what we’ve learned through industrialisation, to learn from our mistakes, and catalyse the re-opening of the commons, in the process breaking the grip of defunct power structures and enabling the possibility of prosperity for all.

“Sharing, not secrecy, is the means by which we realise such a lofty destiny as well as create infinite wealth. The wealth of networks, the wealth of knowledge, revolutionary wealth – all can create a nonzero win-win Earth that works for one hundred percent of humanity. This is the ‘utopia’ that Buckminster Fuller foresaw, now within our reach.”

The goal, he concludes, is to reject:

“… concentrated illicitly aggregated and largely phantom wealth in favor of community wealth defined by community knowledge, community sharing of information, and community definition of truth derived in transparency and authenticity, the latter being the ultimate arbiter of shared wealth.”

Despite this unabashedly radical vision, Steele is hugely respected by senior military intelligence experts across the world. As a researcher at the US Army War College’s Strategic Studies Institute, he has authored several monographs advocating the need for open source methods to transform the craft of intelligence. He has lectured to the US State Department and Department of Homeland Security as well as National Security Councils in various countries, and his new book has received accolades from senior intelligence officials across multiple countries including France and Turkey.

Yet he remains an outspoken critic of US intelligence practices and what he sees as their integral role in aggravating rather than ameliorating the world’s greatest threats and challenges.

This week, I had the good fortune of being able to touch base with Steele to dig deeper into his recent analysis of the future of US politics in the context of our accelerating environmental challenges. The first thing I asked him was where he sees things going over the next decade, given his holistic take.

“Properly educated people always appreciate holistic approaches to any challenge. This means that they understand both cause and effect, and intertwined complexities,” he said. “A major part of our problem in the public policy arena is the decline in intelligence with integrity among key politicians and staff at the same time that think tanks and universities and non-governmental organisations have also suffered a similar intellectual diminishment.

“My early graduate education was in the 1970’s when Limits to Growth and World Federalism were the rage. Both sought to achieve an over-view of systemic challenges, but both also suffered from the myth of top-down hubris. What was clear in the 1970s, that has been obscured by political and financial treason in the past half-century, is that everything is connected – what we do in the way of paving over wetlands, or in poisoning ground water ‘inadvertently’ because of our reliance on pesticides and fertilisers that are not subject to the integrity of the ‘Precautionary Principle,’ ultimately leads to climate catastrophes that are acts of man, not acts of god.”

He points me to his tremendous collection of reviews of books on climate change, disease, environmental degradation, peak oil, and water scarcity. “I see five major overlapping threats on the immediate horizon,” he continues. “They are all related: the collapse of complex societies, the acceleration of the Earth’s demise with changes that used to take 10,000 years now taking three or less, predatory or shock capitalism and financial crime out of the City of London and Wall Street, and political corruption at scale, to include the west supporting 42 of 44 dictators. We are close to multiple mass catastrophes.”

What about the claim that the US is on the brink of revolution? “Revolution is overthrow – the complete reversal of the status quo ante. We are at the end of centuries of what Lionel Tiger calls ‘The Manufacture of Evil,’ in which merchant banks led by the City of London have conspired with captive governments to concentrate wealth and commoditise everything including humans. What revolution means in practical terms is that balance has been lost and the status quo ante is unsustainable. There are two ‘stops’ on greed to the nth degree: the first is the carrying capacity of Earth, and the second is human sensibility. We are now at a point where both stops are activating.”

Robert Steele - preconditions for revolution
Former CIA officer’s matrix on the preconditions for revolution

It’s not just the US, he adds. “The preconditions of revolution exist in the UK, and most western countries. The number of active pre-conditions is quite stunning, from elite isolation to concentrated wealth to inadequate socialisation and education, to concentrated land holdings to loss of authority to repression of new technologies especially in relation to energy, to the atrophy of the public sector and spread of corruption, to media dishonesty, to mass unemployment of young men and on and on and on.”

So why isn’t it happening yet?
“Preconditions are not the same as precipitants. We are waiting for our Tunisian fruit seller. The public will endure great repression, especially when most media outlets and schools are actively aiding the repressive meme of ‘you are helpless, this is the order of things.’ When we have a scandal so powerful that it cannot be ignored by the average Briton or American, we will have a revolution that overturns the corrupt political systems in both countries, and perhaps puts many banks out of business. Vaclav Havel calls this ‘The Power of the Powerless.’ One spark, one massive fire.”

But we need more than revolution, in the sense of overthrow, to effect change, surely. How does your manifesto for ‘open source everything’ fit into this? “The west has pursued an industrialisation path that allows for the privatisation of wealth from the commons, along with the criminalisation of commons rights of the public, as well as the externalisation of all true costs. Never mind that fracking produces earthquakes and poisons aquifers – corrupt politicians at local, state or province, and national levels are all too happy to take money for looking the other way. Our entire commercial, diplomatic, and informational systems are now cancerous. When trade treaties have secret sections – or are entirely secret – one can be certain the public is being screwed and the secrecy is an attempt to avoid accountability. Secrecy enables corruption. So also does an inattentive public enable corruption.”

Is this a crisis of capitalism, then? Does capitalism need to end for us to resolve these problems? And if so, how? “Predatory capitalism is based on the privatisation of profit and the externalisation of cost. It is an extension of the fencing of the commons, of enclosures, along with the criminalisation of prior common customs and rights. What we need is a system that fully accounts for all costs. Whether we call that capitalism or not is irrelevant to me. But doing so would fundamentally transform the dynamic of present day capitalism, by making capital open source. For example, and as calculated by my colleague JZ Liszkiewicz, a white cotton T-shirt contains roughly 570 gallons of water, 11 to 29 gallons of fuel, and a number of toxins and emissions including pesticides, diesel exhaust, and heavy metals and other volatile compounds – it also generally includes child labor. Accounting for those costs and their real social, human and environmental impacts has totally different implications for how we should organise production and consumption than current predatory capitalism.”

So what exactly do you mean by open source everything? “We have over 5 billion human brains that are the one infinite resource available to us going forward. Crowd-sourcing and cognitive surplus are two terms of art for the changing power dynamic between those at the top that are ignorant and corrupt, and those across the bottom that are attentive and ethical. The open source ecology is made up of a wide range of opens – open farm technology, open source software, open hardware, open networks, open money, open small business technology, open patents – to name just a few. The key point is that they must all develop together, otherwise the existing system will isolate them into ineffectiveness. Open data is largely worthless unless you have open hardware and open software. Open government demands open cloud and open spectrum, or money will dominate feeds and speeds.”

Robert Steele
Robert Steele’s vision for open source systems

On 1st May, Steele sent an open letter to US vice president Joe Biden requesting him to consider establishing an Open Source Agency that would transform the operation of the intelligence community, dramatically reduce costs, increasing oversight and accountability, while increasing access to the best possible information to support holistic policy-making. To date, he has received no response.

I’m not particularly surprised. Open source everything pretty much undermines everything the national security state stands for. Why bother even asking vice president Biden to consider it? “The national security state is rooted in secrecy as a means of avoiding accountability. My first book, On Intelligence: Spies and Secrecy in an Open World – which by the way had a foreword from Senator David Boren, the immediate past chairman of the Senate Select Committee for Intelligence – made it quite clear that the national security state is an expensive, ineffective monstrosity that is simply not fit for purpose. In that sense, the national security state is it’s own worst enemy – it’s bound to fail.”

Given his standing as an intelligence expert, Steele’s criticisms of US intelligence excesses are beyond scathing – they are damning. “Most of what is produced through secret methods is not actually intelligence at all. It is simply secret information that is, most of the time, rather generic and therefore not actually very useful for making critical decisions at a government level. The National Security Agency (NSA) has not prevented any terrorist incidents. CIA cannot even get the population of Syria correct and provides no intelligence – decision-support – to most cabinet secretaries, assistant secretaries, and department heads. Indeed General Tony Zinni, when he was commander in chief of the US Central Command as it was at war, is on record as saying that he received, ‘at best,’ a meagre 4% of what he needed to know from secret sources and methods.”

So does open source mean you are calling for abolition of intelligence agencies as we know them, I ask. “I’m a former spy and I believe we still need spies and secrecy, but we need to redirect the vast majority of the funds now spent on secrecy toward savings and narrowly focused endeavors at home. For instance, utterly ruthless counterintelligence against corruption, or horrendous evils like paedophilia.

“Believe it or not, 95% of what we need for ethical evidence-based decision support cannot be obtained through the secret methods of standard intelligence practices. But it can be obtained quite openly and cheaply from academics, civil society, commerce, governments, law enforcement organisations, the media, all militaries, and non-governmental organisations. An Open Source Agency, as I’ve proposed it, would not just meet 95% of our intelligence requirements, it would do the same at all levels of government and carry over by enriching education, commerce, and research – it would create what I called in 1995 a ‘Smart Nation.’

“The whole point of Open Source Everything is to restore public agency. Open Source is the only form of information and information technology that is affordable to the majority, interoperable across all boundaries, and rapidly scalable from local to global without the curse of overhead that proprietary corporations impose.”

Robert Steele
Robert Steele’s graphic on open source systems thinking

It’s clear to me that when Steele talks about intelligence as ‘decision-support,’ he really does intend that we grasp “all information in all languages all the time” – that we do multidisciplinary research spanning centuries into the past as well as into the future. His most intriguing premise is that the 1% are simply not as powerful as they, and we, assume them to be. “The collective buying power of the five billion poor is four times that of the one billion rich according to the late Harvard business thinker Prof C. K. Prahalad – open source everything is about the five billion poor coming together to reclaim their collective wealth and mobilise it to transform their lives. There is zero chance of the revolution being put down. Public agency is emergent, and the ability of the public to literally put any bank or corporation out of business overnight is looming. To paraphrase Abe Lincoln, you cannot screw all of the people all of the time. We’re there. All we lack is a major precipitant – our Tunisian fruit seller. When it happens the revolution will be deep and lasting.”

The Arab spring analogy has its negatives. So far, there really isn’t much to root for. I want to know what’s to stop this revolution from turning into a violent, destructive mess. Steele is characteristically optimistic. “I have struggled with this question. What I see happening is an end to national dictat and the emergence of bottom-up clarity, diversity, integrity, and sustainability. Individual towns across the USA are now nullifying federal and state regulations – for example gag laws on animal cruelty, blanket permissions for fracking. Those such as my colleague Parag Khanna that speak to a new era of city-states are correct in my view. Top down power has failed in a most spectacular manner, and bottom-up consensus power is emergent. ‘Not in my neighborhood’ is beginning to trump ‘Because I say so.’ The one unlimited resource we have on the planet is the human brain – the current strategy of 1% capitalism is failing because it is killing the Golden Goose at multiple levels. Unfortunately, the gap between those with money and power and those who actually know what they are talking about has grown catastrophic. The rich are surrounded by sycophants and pretenders whose continued employment demands that they not question the premises. As Larry Summers lectured Elizabeth Warren, ‘insiders do not criticise insiders.'”

But how can activists actually start moving toward the open source vision now? “For starters, there are eight ‘tribes’ that among them can bring together all relevant information: academia, civil society including labor unions and religions, commerce especially small business, government especially local, law enforcement, media, military, and non-government/non-profit. At every level from local to global, across every mission area, we need to create stewardship councils integrating personalities and information from all eight tribes. We don’t need to wait around for someone else to get started. All of us who recognise the vitality of this possibility can begin creating these new grassroots structures from the bottom-up, right now.”

So how does open source everything have the potential to ‘re-engineer the Earth’? For me, this is the most important question, and Steele’s answer is inspiring. “Open Source Everything overturns top-down ‘because I say so at the point of a gun’ power. Open Source Everything makes truth rather than violence the currency of power. Open Source Everything demands that true cost economics and the indigenous concept of ‘seventh generation thinking’ – how will this affect society 200 years ahead – become central. Most of our problems today can be traced to the ascendance of unilateral militarism, virtual colonialism, and predatory capitalism, all based on force and lies and encroachment on the commons. The national security state works for the City of London and Wall Street – both are about to be toppled by a combination of Eastern alternative banking and alternative international development capabilities, and individuals who recognise that they have the power to pull their money out of the banks and not buy the consumer goods that subsidise corruption and the concentration of wealth. The opportunity to take back the commons for the benefit of humanity as a whole is open – here and now.”

For Steele, the open source revolution is inevitable, simply because the demise of the system presided over by the 1% cannot be stopped – and because the alternatives to reclaiming the commons are too dismal to contemplate. We have no choice but to step up.

“My motto, a play on the CIA motto that is disgraced every day, is ‘the truth at any cost lowers all other costs'”, he tells me. “Others wiser than I have pointed out that nature bats last. We are at the end of an era in which lies can be used to steal from the public and the commons. We are at the beginning of an era in which truth in public service can restore us all to a state of grace.”

Dr. Nafeez Ahmed is an international security journalist and academic. He is the author of A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilization: And How to Save It, and the forthcoming science fiction thriller, ZERO POINT. ZERO POINT is set in a near future following a Fourth Iraq War. Follow Ahmed on Facebook and Twitter.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/earth-insight/2014/jun/19/open-source-revolution-conquer-one-percent-cia-spy

What Does Moore’s Law Mean For the Rest of Society?

© JESUSANZ / BIGSTOCK

© JESUSANZ / BIGSTOCK

By Clay Rawlings and Rob Bencini

Technology is advancing exponentially. Beware the disruptions to legal systems, society, and the economy, warn the authors of Pardon the Disruption.

Stare decisis is the legal principle that requires judges to respect precedents set by prior court rulings. It forms the heart of the U.S. judicial system—and it forces the law to move like a glacier. This can be a problem when technologies are changing our lives as quickly as they are now.

The legal system places great emphasis on the idea that people know the laws in advance, so they can engage in commerce knowing that courts will enforce a contract as the parties intended. The law was to be a tool of fairness, not a trap for the unwary. Massive changes in technology have complicated citizens’ ability to stay ahead of changes in the law.

Patents, for example, were intended to give protection to inventors, spurring their innovation. But in the twenty-first century, we see large corporations buying up thousands of patents to ward off competition. When new products are being considered, the possibility of a patent fight over intellectual property looms large. Apple recently won a billion-dollar judgment against Samsung for infringing on their patents on the iPhone. While not a knockout blow to Samsung, this will make smaller manufacturers think twice before entering the cell phone arena. What was meant as a defensive measure—protection of inventors’ ideas—has now become an offensive weapon. Buy enough patents, and you can force out any competition by alleging they have infringed on your arsenal of patents.

Genome companies are obtaining patents as fast as possible to freeze out competitors in whole areas of genomics. In June 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that natural human genes cannot be patented, but the legal landscape for genetic patenting is far from settled. The privacy of a person’s genetic makeup—what can be altered to lessen human suffering or improve performance—cropped up as a legal issue overnight. The modern legal system is not suited to fashioning remedies for novel problems that are changing at exponential rates.

The Technology of Truth?

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)—a technique for measuring and mapping brain activity—allows psychologists to observe the brain as it functions in real time. Two companies, No Lie MRI Inc. and Cephos Corporation, claim that they can use fMRI to determine conclusively whether or not an individual is telling the truth.

The brain stores information in memory and is also capable of creating fantasies. The premise for a brain scan lie detector test is quite simple: You are placed under the fMRI scanning device, and while you answer questions, the scanner observes brain function to determine where the response originates. When you’re telling the truth, the brain accesses the area where memory is stored. When you’re lying, the brain uses the part responsible for generating fantasies.

This methodology should be foolproof: You either have a real memory, or you do not. If your answer is based in fantasy rather than memory, it is almost certainly a lie.

The scanning technology itself will become more accurate, and so will the algorithms that analyze brain function. At some point, this technology may replace random groups of 12 jurors as the “finders of fact.” We will know with certainty whether someone is telling the truth.

No one has the right to lie while testifying in court. If technology can tell us with scientific certainty whether a person is telling the truth, why not place a scanner above the witness stand? As witnesses testify, the court will be able to see in real time whether or not the testimony is true.

Protecting us from lying defendants is one potential benefit of scanning technology, but defendants and witnesses aren’t the only ones this technology will affect. The police, too, will no longer be able to fabricate probable cause. The court and jury will know whether a cop’s alleged probable cause is coming from memory or is a clever fabrication meant to deceive.

The exclusionary rule—that evidence collected in violation of a defendant’s rights is inadmissible—would suddenly have real teeth. By making the system completely truthful in every respect, we would initially free a large number of guilty criminals, their convictions overturned due to police misconduct. It would not take long for police to realize they could no longer cheat on probable cause.

Sharing the Roads with Robotic Vehicles

The proliferation of vehicles operated by machine intelligence will disrupt virtually every aspect of our economy. Robotic cars will be available to the ordinary consumer, will drive themselves on public roads, and will completely replace traditional motor vehicles. Each year, there are approximately 33,000 fatal accidents in the United States, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. Numbers of deaths and catastrophic injuries will decrease radically when machine intelligence is in control of all transportation.

We will have no accidents caused by human drivers who are drunk, fatigued, angry, distracted, in a hurry, too young, too old, reckless, suicidal, or just plain stupid. Professional drivers who operate 18-wheelers and delivery vans will also be replaced. Commercial vehicles will never need a per diem, health insurance, or payment per mile. An entire industry of professional drivers will go the way of the blacksmith.

As a result, lawyers specializing in motor vehicle accident cases will move into other areas of the law. When there is no offense, there is no need for defense. Technology will remove the drunk drivers from the streets, relieve overcrowded jails, and clear overburdened court dockets. With robotic cars, everyone’s in the passenger seat. We will have engineered the ultimate designated driver.

In the United States, about 5 million cars a year are totaled in crashes and need to be replaced. When vehicles are operated optimally by intelligent machines, collisions will decrease significantly. And with machine intelligence in control, we won’t abuse our cars by riding their brakes or jerkily accelerating and decelerating. With less to repair or replace, collision centers and parts suppliers will close, and manufacturing will suffer.

While collisions will be dramatically reduced, people will still occasionally be seriously injured and killed. Since the operation of the vehicle is autonomous, a fault-based tort system would exonerate the owner, who was nothing more than a passenger. If the manufacturer knows at the inception that it will be held legally responsible for all injuries emanating from the failure of its product, it can build that risk into the price of the robotic car. The system will function in a manner that both protects the public and is fair to the manufacturer.

Federal governments could enact legislation requiring a black box in all vehicles, so that each failure can easily be determined. The industry could spread the risk associated with human injury and death by requiring each manufacturer to insure against these risks. This is no different from the current system requiring each operator of a motor vehicle to be insured.

Keep in mind, though, that the actual costs are going to be massively lower than the current system. Insuring human drivers who get distracted, angry, or drunk is an expensive proposition. Because the issue of liability will no longer be litigated, the only real question will be the amount of damages to the victim. Litigation costs would be cut to less than half their current amount without the necessity of proving fault. It would make compensation of the injured both more reliable and more uniform. If we’re looking for a win–win, this is it.

But What about the Jobs! Jobs! Jobs!

Exponential improvements in technology have created new wealth in recent years. Now, for the first time in history, it isn’t land that matters so much in wealth creation as it is innovation—innovation that increases productivity and raises the standard of living throughout the developed world. Continuously advancing technology is disrupting many of the very industries it helped build—and in many cases, those rapid advances are proving to be real net job killers. Disruptions have swept through industries like publishing, music, retail, and manufacturing.

Many theorists admonish local business and government leaders to “do something” about the economy, such as attract manufacturing and entrepreneurship in order to create jobs. But pushing the rope of artificially creating entrepreneurship, a creative class, and cluster development is not working.

Former North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue, almost accidentally, may have shown a fuller understanding of the true reality of productivity than most elected officials have. As the then-newly inaugurated governor in 2009, she was a featured speaker at the North Carolina Economic Developers Association conference, where she expressed supreme optimism about the areas of the economy that she believed would be central to North Carolina’s economic future: green industry, the military, and aeronautics.

She continued her remarks with a matter-of-fact assessment by saying, “I believe the textile industry in North Carolina can still thrive. They might have to cut the workforce to increase efficiency and profitability, but.…”

She said it! She said what every business in America has said for the last six years. Workers, with their rising health care and other costs; workers, who represent a huge percentage of business costs and unproductive overhead during tough times; workers, who are the human measure of these “jobs” that elected officials promote; workers, who represent the biggest cost to virtually every company; yes, workers may have to be cut in order for a company to survive and prosper. Businesses are charged with making profits (and in this economy, surviving). Their disposition toward job creation is, “You’ve gotta be kidding. I’m trying to stay in business.”

The next time you think about job creation, try a little word exchange: Replace the word jobs with the term payroll expense. Try it and see how it feels to say this: “We need more payroll expense!” or “Why haven’t you created more payroll expense?!” It sounds weird, doesn’t it?

That’s what is truly relevant, because that’s how a potential employer sees the labor force. If a company is in survival mode, its goal is to increase profitability, not to create jobs.

The disconnect between governmental goals of creating jobs through spending and other stimulus and the virtually opposite goals of those who are expected to do the heavy lifting that solves the unemployment problem (the private sector) is undoubtedly the most confounding economic enigma today.

But what if governments could pull the private sector into providing jobs as a way of promoting the social good? Companies that have benefited from technological advancements that increase productivity could employ people to provide good-deed public services. As economics professor Bill Watkins wrote for NewGeography.com, “It turns out that a job costs less than dependency, and that’s why we need economic growth. Jobs and opportunity provide us with some things that consumption can’t. I think those are pride, dignity, and purpose.”

The new technologies that once created new industries and new jobs are now only creating new productivity without the jobs. Computers, robots, artificial general intelligence, and other technological advances have changed the economic game. From a business point of view, improved productivity is good; but from the point of view of public officials desperate to create jobs for their constituents, not so much. This may be the biggest disruption we face.

About the Authors

Clay Rawlings is a personal injury litigation attorney from Houston, Texas, and a former assistant district attorney for Harris County, Texas.

Rob Bencini, MBA, is a Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) and economic futurist from Greensboro, North Carolina.

Rawlings and Bencini are co-authors (with James Randall Smith) of Pardon the Disruption: The Future You Never Saw Coming (Wasteland Press, 2013). This article is a preview of their presentation at WorldFuture 2014: What If, the World Future Society’s conference to be held July 11-13 in Orlando, Florida.

Source: http://www.wfs.org/futurist/2014-issues-futurist/july-august-2014-vol-48-no-4/what-does-moore%E2%80%99s-law-mean-for-rest-socie

Citizens strike back: Tiny, low-cost drones may one day assassinate corrupt politicians, corporate CEOs and street criminals

drones

by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger
(NaturalNews) This is an important analysis article on what I believe will be a coming wave of “Kamikaze assassination micro drones” which will soon be affordable enough for everyday citizens to deploy against selected targets. Why is this discussion important? Because these micro drones have the very real potential to re-shape the distribution of power across our planet… and they may pose a real danger to public safety and security across society.

(As you read this article, please bear in mind that I do not in any way condone the tactical applications described herein. This article is a WARNING, not an endorsement, of this very dangerous convergence of trending technologies which may threaten us all.)

Tiny assassination drones must be understood as a revolutionary new kind of weapon, and there is firm historical precedent for dramatic sociopolitical shifts rising out of such revolutions.

For example, the invention of the gunpowder-based rifle radically decentralized military power, making firepower affordable and available to the masses. This caused a global wave of popular revolutions that ultimately lead to modern-day representative government, where those in power were suddenly forced to listen to the needs of their armed citizens. (Before the invention of gunpowder, kings simply deployed heavily-armored knights against citizens, forcing the peons into obedience thanks to a vastly superior weapons and defense system that was completely out of reach of the masses.)

Today we have large-scale militarized “drones” — unmanned aerial vehicles or UAV’s — enjoying widespread deployment by the Pentagon, which plans to spend $2.5 billion next year on these drones (1). These UAVs conduct mission reconnaissance, target acquisition and weapons delivery all on the same platform. For now, they represent a battlefield tactical edge for the United States of America, but that advantage is likely to be short-lived for reasons discussed here.

Drone miniaturization, facial recognition systems and kinetic kamikaze missions

From studying trends in drone development, both in terms of software and hardware, I am now predicting the development of facial-recognition “kamikaze micro drones” capable of carrying out targeted human assassination missions with remarkable precision and reliability. The four trends that will lead to this are:

1) Drone miniaturization: The development of mass-produced, affordable “micro drones” about the size of a common bird. These will likely be produced as hobby aircraft which will be easily modified to take on a more aggressive role.

2) Facial recognition systems: The miniaturization of facial recognition software / hardware systems which may be deployed on micro drones and powered by very small on-board power supplies.

3) Rapid advances in drone manufacturing efficiency, resulting in greater affordability of drone platforms by smaller and smaller groups, including corporations, smaller nations, universities, vigilantes and even activist groups.

4) Incremental improvements in the power density of on-board batteries, allowing greater flight time and more CPU-intensive on-board computations.

These four trends will ultimately result in the creation of “Kamikaze assassination micro drones” with the ability to search for, identify and terminate a specific human target. It is likely, in fact, that many governments of the world are already working on this technology.

This technology will reshape the meaning of “war by allowing rogue nations like North Korea, for example, to simply ship tens of thousands of such drones into the USA via China, marked as “toys” on import manifests. Once in the USA, these micro assassination drones can be dropped from low-flying airplanes or released from vehicles in city parks to carry out their pre-programmed missions of targeted assassinations across U.S. cities.

Future Air Force battles may be carried out by palm-sized aircraft

The United States Air Force already appears to be developing such devices, by the way. As journalist Susanne Posel writes at OccupyCorporatism.com: (2)

Under the Air Vehicles Directorate branch of the US Air Force, research is being conducted to perfect remote-controlled micro air vehicles (MAVs) that are expected to “become a vital element in the ever-changing war-fighting environment and will help ensure success on the battlefield of the future.”

See this promotional video about MAVs under development right now:

How Kamikaze micro drones will work

Kamikaze micro drones do not need to carry conventional weapons or explosives of any kind. Instead, they may simply carry an on-board serrated puncture weapon such as a crossbow hunting broad tip, affixed to the end of a shaft in a spear arrangement.

As shown in the image on the right, these devices are commonly available right now on Amazon.com, where they are called “Killzone broadheads” and boast the following marketing claims:

* The new Killzone Crossbow is a 2 blade rear-deploying broadhead that packs a devastating 2″ cutting diameter
* 2″ cutting diameter for devastating wound channels & excellent penetration
* Heavy-duty, Razor-sharp .039″ blades

These crossbow hunting tips can also be purchased with cash at any sporting goods store.

Next, the Kamikaze drone’s on-board operating system is loaded with the facial imagery of the intended target, then released in an area the target is known to frequent (such as near their home, a restaurant, or their place of employment).

The micro drone expends energy to fly to a “perch” location from which it can conduct covert facial recognition surveillance without being spotted and without expending the enormous amount of energy needed to hover in place. From this perch location, the drone will observe faces passing by, comparing them to its intended target.

Once the micro drone spots the intended target, it can either “dial home” and transmit a picture of the target to a remote operator for a human kill decision, or it can be programmed to make that decision autonomously based on a threshold of certainty in the facial recognition match.

Once the kill decision has been made, the micro drone deploys its serrated spear and launches itself toward the target at high speed, aiming to thrust the spear into the neck of the subject. A two-inch-wide cutting pattern almost guarantees the blades will slice through an artery or possibly even sever the spinal column. Although the micro drone’s mass seems quite small, the human neck is especially vulnerable and can be easily penetrated by a serrated short spear carried with the momentum of a small object flying at high speed.

Once the attack is complete, the drone is simply abandoned, having completed its job. It can be pre-programmed to wide its own memory, erasing any traces of its programming code or flight history.

What if anyone could kill almost anyone else for about five thousand dollars?

In time, such drones could be purchased or built for less than a thousand dollars each. With an estimated mission success rate of 20%, that means the out-of-pocket cost to successfully kill someone with one of these drones might only be $5,000.

Before I explain why this matters, let me be clear that I am wholly against the use of violence to achieve commercial or political gain, and in no way do I condone the use of Kamikaze drones as described here. In fact, this article should serve as a warning to what’s coming in the hopes that we might achieve some globally-observed limits on drone deployment.

But until that happens, here’s where this is headed: At $5,000 per assassination, there is a very long list of corporations, politicians, activists and individuals who would be willing to deploy these drones to assassinate all kinds of targets: members of Congress, corporate rivals, political enemies, competing drug dealers, ex-wives or ex-husbands… and the list goes on.

These kamikaze micro drones could even be used as weapons of war. Imagine Iran or North Korea, for example, deploying thousands of such devices around Washington D.C. with the sole purpose of killing as many U.S. Senators and members of Congress as possible. Tactically, that’s a very low-cost war with a very high “return” in terms of “enemy casualties” from the point of view of the attacker.

But individuals and vigilantes could also use the technology for their own purposes at a local level. Ponder for a moment what happens when anyone with a mere $5,000 and a few photos of their intended target can simply release a small drone out of a backpack and set back while that micro drone locates and assassinates their intended target (using commonly available killing weapons, no less). The ease of operations is shockingly low, making such solutions readily available to anyone willing to surf the ‘net and download the operating system that carries out such activities. (Source code will no doubt be posted on many hacktivism sites.)

It’s not difficult to imagine local neighborhood watch groups pooling their funds and deploying drones to kill local drug dealers who terrorize the streets, for example. Even vigilantes who seek to protect their fellow citizens might see themselves as some sort of “drone superheroes” who deploy kamikaze drones to take out local crime bosses or dirty politicians who violate the law.

Everyday citizens would have the power to assassinate Presidents

What we are really looking at here — and again I must repeat and urge that IN NO WAY DO I CONDONE OR ENCOURAGE SUCH ACTS OF VIOLENCE — is the rise of a decentralized, affordable technology which could someday allow ordinary citizens to quite literally assassinate Presidents.

Which Presidents? Any that you can imagine, of course: Presidents of nations, Presidents of corporations, Presidents of universities and so on. It is very difficult to imagine how highly-visible people could be protected against such attacks based on present-day defensive tactics and weaponry. Handguns and rifles, for example, would be very hard-pressed to shoot down a fast-moving micro drone making a kamikaze attack.

The U.S. Secret Service, a group of incredibly well-trained and highly-dedicated individuals, probably has never faced a micro drone attack and very likely has no training for how to deal with such an attack. Clearly this is going to have to change in the very near future as such drones come within reach of everyday people. Every high-ranking member of every government around the world, in fact, is going to need to start thinking about how to be safe out in the open once these micro drones become a reality. (I have developed some detailed ideas on defensive tactics against such attempts, if anybody from the U.S. Secret Service is interested…)

The bottom line on this is that anyone who appears out in the open — giving a speech, taking a walk in the park, or pursuing a campaign trail — could be easily assassinated with one or more such Kamikaze micro drones. No one is immune from such attacks.

Another key “advantage” of this weapon system — from the point of view of the attacker — is that the attack is virtually untraceable. The person who launches the attack could be miles away by the time the drone actually strikes, and there’s no trail of gun registrations, ammo purchases or explosives to track down. In fact, the drone could be programmed to wipe its own memory clean after the attack is carried out, erasing any on-board evidence of the executable code, target images or operating system. The only evidence left behind would be the hardware platform of the drone itself, which is likely to be based on a readily available “hobby” drone chassis that’s impossible to link to any specific individual.

As you can see, this would create real nightmares for law enforcement investigators. And in a society that we all would like to see remain peaceful and safe, the idea that some individuals could operate deadly assassination drones with near-impunity should be downright alarming. Because many people would use this technology with some highly destructive intent.

A tremendous threat to law enforcement

As Natural News readers already know, I have worked closely alongside law enforcement in the past, engaging in fundraising, defensive martial arts training and more. One of my greatest fears with this kamikaze micro drone weapons platform is that it could easily be used by even a poorly-financed drug gang to eliminate local law enforcement personnel en masse, right before a major drug run activity takes place.

A small air force of such drones — say, 100 drones at just $1,000 each — could swarm a small town and kill any member of law enforcement spotted in public. That’s a mere $100,000 investment for a drug gang that might be making a multi-million-dollar smuggling run through a small urban chokepoint.

Similarly, an activist group committed to acts of violence could quite literally launch a war on the CEOs or employees of any targeted corporation. If some group didn’t like an oil company, or a factory farming operations, or even a weapons manufacturer, it would quite easily purchase and launch a swarm of micro-drones to kill employees as they walk through the company’s parking lot each day, for example. It doesn’t take very many casualties of key corporate scientists to derail R&D programs.

In all, the potential for a “micro drone Wild West” is very real and very concerning. And here’s why it could be even more wild than you might imagine…

Mass chaos because there’s no personal risk

The availability of low cost but highly effective kamikaze micro drones could unleash real chaos across society for a reason you may not have anticipated: the attackers do not put themselves at risk.

Allow me to explain: In a town where everybody carries a loaded gun, you have the widespread available of weapons, but each person puts their own life at risk by deploying any such weapon. That’s why an armed society “is a polite society,” as they say. Guns are everywhere, but nobody wants to die in a gunfight, so the guns stay in their holsters. In summary, you can’t deploy the weapon without the risk of getting killed in the process.

But kamikaze micro drones take the risk of personal harm out of the equation. The weapon is no longer attached to the person. They are physically far apart. Now you have cheap killing machines with zero personal risk of harm on the part of the attacker. If the drone gets destroyed, they’ve only lost whatever money it costs to replace it. Even if the drone gets captured, it’s not easy to link back to the attacker, so personal risk is minimized.

So with micro drones, we have a society where everybody can have a deadly assassination weapon without the risk that would traditionally accompany an attempted assassination. In effect, we now have “anonymous assassination weapons,” and as we’ve seen in online gaming, the results of anonymous actions are often disastrous: when their own real life isn’t at stake, people will behave in erratic, power-hungry ways that would never be pursued if their own lives were at risk. And because the micro drone does the killing for them, “killers” no longer have to do any killing themselves. They don’t even need to know how to use a knife, or a gun or explosives. All they need is to buy a micro drone, download the kamikaze software, load up a couple of pictures of their target, and let it loose on the sidewalk.

That makes killing frighteningly easy, affordable and accessible to the masses. For obvious reasons, this is not something we would ever want to see in a civilized society.

Drone anarchy?

In the minds of some people, this might in some ways be argued as a good thing. In a world where power is increasingly centralized in the hands of the few, the ability to easily acquire and deploy affordable, targeted killing machines might be called by some a “leveling of the playing field of power.”

Yet I would urge a careful review of all the implications of such technology before reaching any firm conclusions. The widespread availability of anonymous, autonomous killing machines should be treated with extreme caution. Because in a world where autonomous killing machines are readily available and affordable, those who already sit in positions of centralized power would also have access to these machines in very large numbers.

Anyone the authorities wanted to eliminate could simply have their face images fed into a network of micro drones deployed across any given city. A few hours later, they’re all dead, and the city didn’t even have to involve human police officers or court judges. The drone killings of citizens might even be sanctioned by the courts as a sort of “affordable justice” in a society increasingly burdened by runaway debt and bankruptcies.

Remember: President Obama has already built the “legal” framework for the drone killings of U.S. citizens on U.S. soil. Now it’s only a question of the technology catching up with the lawlessness that has already been embraced by the government itself (where due process is now considered ancient history).

When considering the implications of these drones, it’s important to look at all the various parties that might be tempted to use them (and for what purpose). It’s not difficult to imagine all the following groups wanting to deploy assassination drones: corporations, vigilantes, drug gangs, the military, the CIA, local law enforcement, federal law enforcement, terrorist groups, nation state enemies of America, anarchists and possibly even entertainment junkies who would stage drone killings just to post the “drone snuff films” on the ‘net.

How to hide from drones

All this means more and more people will someday need to hide their faces if they wish to venture out into the open world. This may soon include important political figures, celebrities, corporate leaders and almost anyone with a publicly-recognizable face.

A number of strategies are already being explored for this purpose. For example, artist Adam Harvey is currently working on the CV Dazzle project which explores face paint camouflage patterns that confuse facial recognition systems:

Here’s another face camouflage strategy that uses hair design and makeup to deter facial recognition systems:

See more patterns at CVdazzle.com.

Another inventor has also developed a printable face mask that he calls a Personal Surveillance Identity Prosthetic.

His company is Urme Surveillance, and he also has an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for the project.

As the Urme Surveillance website explains, “Our world is becoming increasingly surveilled. For example, Chicago has over 25,000 cameras networked to a single facial recognition hub. We don’t believe you should be tracked just because you want to walk outside and you shouldn’t have to hide either. Instead, use one of our products to present an alternative identity when in public.”

With the rise of kamikaze micro drones, protecting your identity in public may be more than a privacy tactic… it may mean the difference between living and dying.

Sources for this article include:
(1) http://www.militaryaerospace.com/articles/20…
(2) http://www.occupycorporatism.com/us-air-forc…

Source: http://www.naturalnews.com/045495_assassination_drones_autonomous_killing_facial_recognition.html

The Emergence of Smaller Self Regulated Communities

Simon Black from SovereignMan writes about the formation of nations and how the rise of independence/secessionist movements and nationalism in places like the UK and EU are a reflection of the changing zeitgeist of the times:

Did you ever hear the urban legend about how Winston Churchill carved up a map of Africa in a drunken stupor?

There’s actually no evidence to support this assertion.

But what is true is that European imperialists conjured entire nations in Africa out of thin air from their palaces in Brussels, Paris, and London.

And all of this was done without any regard for ethnic, linguistic, religious, and historical divisions among the various tribes that inhabited Africa.

But what few people realize is that Europe is no different.

Think about it—the United Kingdom consists of England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland lumped together in a political union.

Each is entirely different from the others. And secessionist movements are alive and well.

Scotland will hold a referendum about its independence in September. And the troubles in Northern Ireland have plagued the region for decades.

Belgium is a completely artificial country, and the Flemish are actively pursuing independence from the Walloons.

In the late 19th century, Germany and Italy were both unified into modern countries from diverse fiefdoms and city-states with strong regional identities.

Those regional identities are still present today. Just a few weeks ago, a vote was held in Venice over independence for the wider region.

The Basque separatist movements in Spain are stronger than ever. The Balkans were an absurd experiment. I could go on and on.

Europe is the best example that borders and countries are completely arbitrary.

They are created to serve one purpose—consolidating authority over a piece of land and the people living upon it.

Today just happens to be “Europe Day”, a holiday in which Europeans are supposed to commemorate the Schuman Declaration that jump started today’s European Union.

This is a continent that has a long history of constantly going to war with itself.

They slapped lines on a map, formed some new countries, and expected that everything would be OK.

Then they made those lines even broader when they consolidated everything into the European Union. And EU politicians are trying to make things even bigger.

History shows that when economic times are good, people are happy about unity.

But when times are tough as they are now, divisions start creeping up. People look around and say “this system isn’t working”.

They demand change. Sometimes violently. And we would be foolish to presume that this time is any different.

The immediate avenue for this conflict to play out is still through peaceful means—referendums and the rise of nationalist and Eurosceptic political parties.

But it’s clear that the trend is to get smaller, not bigger. And for the system to change entirely.

Like feudalism before it, the nation state is a failed experiment that will ultimately be replaced. It’s already happening.

Many places around the world from Panama to Puerto Rico to Chile are actively competing for productive residents.

They welcome foreigners and provide incentives to live and invest there, instead of treating people like milk cows.

Modern technology and transportation make geography almost irrelevant.

You don’t need to be tied to a single piece of land anymore, and certainly not in a country conjured by politicians.

There’s a world of opportunity out there. And every part of your life can ‘live’ in the best place for it.

For example, you and your family can live in a beautiful place like Bali, which may have the best lifestyle for you.

But your savings can ‘live’ in Hong Kong which has strong, stable banks. And your investments can ‘live’ in South America to capitalize on farmland deals.

All of this is already possible today. And soon, as more people realize the opportunities out there, it’s going to be the norm for everyone.

Source: http://us7.campaign-archive2.com/?u=6043f7810362a545dc3f006f0&id=edec253be7&e=e2ef27b1aa

Editors Note: It is becoming increasingly apparent that large scale 20-21st century democracy is failing. One potential solution which is already floating about is the birth of smaller democratic states or communities similar to nation cities like medieval Venice and Antwerp, modern Singapore, Hong Kong and others.

Emerging Events predicts we will see the emergence of smaller self regulated communities seeking independence and freedom from large state authoritarianism in the years ahead. This will probably occur on the back of economic breakdown and the political chaos resulting. Whether these experiments in human self realization can succeed will be fascinating but reflects the innate desire by humans to live free and self determined lives.