The Rise of Medical Tourism

Rise of Medical TourismComparative advantages between countries creates opportunities for sick people needing treatment. In many government run health care systems it can be cheaper to travel to another country and be treated there. You jump the waiting queue and the costs are much more affordable where you are required to pay some or all of the cost.

Traveling from the USA to Mexico for treatments such as dental care (visit Alaska Dental Associates) and other small procedures is well known. Thailand is well known as a Medical Tourist destination with excellent facilities and extremely cost effective. Singapore is well known as a destination for advanced procedures for wealthy Indonesians and Africans.

As more government run healthcare systems become bogged down by regulation, burgeoning costs, under-resourcing and underfunding, even governments will see Medical Tourism as a partial solution to their problems. A health insurance provider will examine the local cost to perform say, a hip replacement or heart bypass surgery) and offer their insured the choice – stay and wait for the surgery or take you and your partner on an all expenses holiday (airfares, hotel, hospital & surgery and recovery time) to Thailand, Mexico or India.

For government they relieve political pressure as it gets the waiting lists reduced, saves money and frees up the healthcare system. It introduces competition for medical services that helps to put a brake on healthcare costs, especially for doctors fees. For consumers, you get immediate attention to your health issue, a holiday (with or without your partner) and reduce your out of pocket expenses.

All that’s needed now is for doctors, politicians and bureaucrats is to let go of their hubris and ensure the requisite healthcare standards are in place so people can become medical tourists. Easy!

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.

And More Innovation

Portland is now powered by water pipes and flushing toilets

lucid energy, lucid, portland, water pipes, water, power, green power, green energy, hydro power

Portland residents can now generate green electricity simply by turning on their water taps and flushing their toilets. Fast Company reports that the Oregon city is using a state-of-the art system to capture energy from water flowing through the city’s pipelines. Small turbines installed inside the pipelines are turned by the flowing water, sending energy into a generator and off into the power grid.

lucid energy, lucid, portland, water pipes, water, power, green power, green energy, hydro power

“It’s pretty rare to find a new source of energy where there’s no environmental impact,” Gregg Semler told Fast Company. Semler is the chief executive officer of Lucid Energy, the Portland start-up behind the new system. “But this is inside a pipe, so no fish or endangered species are impacted. That’s what’s exciting.”

According to Semler, water utilities tend to use large amounts of electricity, so the new power generation system can help cut the cost of providing drinking water to cities. Utilities can decide whether to use the power for their own purposes, or sell the energy as a source of revenue.

“We have a project in Riverside, California, where they’re using it to power streetlights at night,” Semler notes. “During the day, when electricity prices are high, they can use it to offset some of their operating costs.”

As for Portland, one of its main water pipelines uses Lucid’s system to generate power, and though the system can’t make enough power for the whole city, the pipes can produce enough to run an individual building like a school or a library.

Unlike other forms of green power, like solar or wind, the Lucid system can produce power at any time of the day because the water is always flowing. The only hitch is that the turbines can only produce power where water is naturally flowing downward with gravity. Lucid’s pipes contain sensors that can monitor the quality of the water flowing through the pipes, making them more than just a power generating technology, which can be valuable just about anywhere.

Source: http://inhabitat.com/portlands-water-pipes-are-the-newest-source-of-clean-energy/

U.S. Continuous Average Temperature Index – Discontinued

US Weather Cooling

The National U.S. Historical Climatology Network (USHCN) monthly temperature updates have been discontinued. The official CONUS temperature record is now based upon nClimDiv. USHCN data for January 1895 to August 2014 will remain available for historical comparison. However, one must wonder if the data, which was demonstrating a cooling period rather than global warming, was conflicting with political agendas to raise taxes based upon false information.

Editor’s Note: Never let facts stand in the way of a government in trouble when it comes to raising tax revenue. Will be interesting to see if the new data series taking over reflects the pro-climate change global warming argument. If it goes true to form the new nClimDiv data set will be revised at some stage in the next year or two.

Source: http://armstrongeconomics.com/archives/33511

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

The Coming Cashless Society

Electronic-EuroYou are now watching newspapers, TV shows, and other forms of media preparing for the coming cashless society. This is a marketing campaign, and may indeed be what October 1, 2015 is all about – 2015.75. I doubt that the USA will be able to move to a cashless society as easily as Europe. The dollar is used around the world and cancelling that outstanding money supply would bring tremendous international unrest. Additionally, the USA is not in crisis financially, as is the case in Europe.

Europe, on the other hand, has an entirely different problem. The failure to have consolidated the debts of member states meant that the reserves of the banks were constituted from a politically correct mixture of debt. Instead of fixing the problem, politicians who are lawyers always move one-step forward with laws. To them the logical solution is to eliminate cash to protect banks from a panic run that would collapse Europe and take Brussels with it.

This is now a deliberate marketing campaign. I know how these things work and pay attention. They are selling this idea everywhere and that is the preparation for the inevitable action. With the speed at which they are moving, it certainly appears they are gearing up for October 1 on our model. It is also interesting that some German press misquoted our date as October 17. I was not sure why they would do that, but perhaps that was intentional as well. This is very curious, for when they take that final step, it will most likely be sudden and overnight. They would announce it and give everyone some time frame to take their paper currency and deposit it into their bank accounts.

For European readers, swap to dollars for hoarding and you can open accounts in the U.S., which for now is a safety valve. While gold makes sense for local hoarding, it may have lost its movability.

Source: http://armstrongeconomics.com/archives/31028

Japan Shocked To Find Abenomics Is Destroying Its Middle Class

Zerohedge reports:

In central planner “mission accomplished” news, the wealth divide in Japan is growing under Abenomics and middle class citizens are at risk of falling into poverty, The Japan Times says. Despite nightly sound bites from Kuroda, Aso, and Abe himself designed to assuage fears that the country’s gargantuan monetary experiment may yet fail to pull Japan out the deflationary doldrums, some people are getting impatient as the number of households on welfare continues to rise as does the number of nonregular workers. This comes on the heels of the rather amusing news that the country’s Labor Ministry had fabricated a year’s worth of data on wage growth (it turns out there was none) and after countless warnings from us that the PM’s policies would end in spactacularly bad fashion (see here, here, and here for instance). Here’s more:

According to Akio Doteuchi, a senior researcher at the NLI Research Institute, what is threatening people here is that, under the current social structure, virtually anyone in the middle class is at risk of falling into poverty.

“It’s like walking in a mine field. Many risks lie ahead of you,” Doteuchi said. “Even if you are in the middle class, if something unexpected happens, you could slip into poverty.”

Such risks could include contracting diseases such as cancer and being unable to work, the failure to land a job soon after graduation, or an ill parent who needs looking after.

The big problem in Japan is that there are few social safety nets for such situations. In the past, workers had been shielded by the guarantee of lifetime employment at companies. When they retired, they were supported by family members, Doteuchi noted.

But now, there is an increasing number of nonregular workers, particularly younger ones, whose financial situations are unstable. More and more single-person households are vulnerable to serious health problems.

Data back this up. According to labor ministry figures announced April 1, the number of households living on welfare hit a record 1,618,817 in January. This figure has been on the rise for the last two decades.

The country’s relative poverty rate has also edged up over the last 30 years, especially with single mothers and fathers raising children, although the latest data are for 2012.

Meanwhile, the rich are getting richer (as they are prone to do anyway but especially so under monetary policy regimes explicitly designed to inflate financial assets).

On the other hand, data also show that the rich became even wealthier under Abe’s tenure.

Their numbers and the amount of their assets surged in 2013 and are still rising mostly due to sharp gains in stocks triggered by the Bank of Japan’s aggressive monetary easing, which started in April 2013, experts said.

According to the Nomura Research Institute, the number of wealthy households jumped 24.3 percent, with the amount of their total financial assets rising 28.2 percent in 2013, compared with 2011 figures…

Households on average are believed to have a majority of their assets either in bank accounts or in cash. But the wealthy hold risk assets such as real estate, stocks and bonds — assets more likely to grow in value faster than mere savings accounts, Miyamoto said.

Of course the real punchline when it comes to the Japanese QE experience is that the so-called “wealth effect” — which certainly makes the wealthy wealthier but exactly how far down the benefit ultimately trickles is up for debate  — is on steroids because not only is the central bank helping to push up the prices of the financial assets held by the rich, the BoJ actually won’t let them fall, as we recently discovered when it was revealed that the bank intervenes in morning trading when sentiment seems less than euphoric. In other words, they are more than “supportive”, they have openly rigged the system, and we don’t mean in a kind of “behind the scenes the market is rigged by HFT firms that never have losing trading days” type of way — we mean in a blatant “we’ll print money and buy every single ETF that trades if we have to in order to ensure that stocks don’t fall” type of way. But we guess the fact that this is increasing the disparity between the haves and the have-nots is just further evidence that, much like poor people in the US, Japan’s poor similarly don’t understand Janet Yellen’s extolling of the virtues of having assets.

Here’s The Japan Times again to sum things up:

“Abenomics has boasted economic strength, telling people that higher economic growth will shrink the gap between the haves and have-nots via the trickledown effect,” Doteuchi said. “But is that really true? I think not. Solving inequality is the way to improve the economy.”

Indeed.

As a reminder:

Source: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-04-08/japan-shocked-find-abenomics-destroying-its-middle-class

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.

Peak Babies, Not Oil

Patrick Cox writing for Tech Digest:

Much of my career has been spent refuting this or that doomsday scenario. From peak oil to overpopulation, I’ve been on the other side of the hysteria and often vilified for it. In the last few days, however, a Wall Street Journal headline told us that “Oil Prices Tumble Amid Global Supply Glut.” Also, a LiveScience story told us that “US Birth Rate Hits All-Time Low.”

Neither one of these headlines should surprise anybody. The math behind both of these stories has been clear for a very long time. Neither peak oil nor overpopulation fears were based on actual science. This, of course, raises questions about our species’ susceptibility to periodic Chicken Little hysteria. I have no explanation for this innate tendency, but it’s been evident for thousands of years.

In the modern cautionary tale, first published in the Anglosphere in the mid-1800s, it’s a chicken that cries that the sky is falling. Ancient Buddhists from India and Tibet told the same basic story, but the central character was an alarmist rabbit. That version was spread into Africa and then via the slave trade into America where the oral version was recorded by Joel Chandler Harris in his Uncle Remus books. What sets it apart from the older versions is that Brother Rabbit starts the panic but never actually falls for it himself. I’m reminded of some current global warming activists who fly in private jets and live in estates with carbon footprints bigger than small towns.

This isn’t to say, however, that we have nothing to worry about. In the immortal words of Henry Saint Clair Fredericks (stage name Taj Mahal), “If you ain’t scared, you ain’t right.”

So I’m not exactly scared, but there are things that concern me. The oil glut isn’t one of them, but historically low birthrates do have enormous implications for investors. The last available data, compiled in 2013 by the CDC, show 62.5 births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44 in the US. That’s down 10 percent from 2007, which was already below replacement rate. In 2008, the US birthrate was 2.08 births per woman, below the 2.1 level needed to replace the population. Today, we are seeing the lowest recorded American birthrate since government started keeping track in 1909. New Zealand, Australia, and Canada are even significantly lower.

In and of itself, a sub-replacement birthrate isn’t necessarily a problem. The problem is that our ruling elite seem totally unaware that it’s happening. Routinely, in fact, we hear from certain politicians that overpopulation remains a pressing problem even as populations throughout the West are shrinking. The same trends, by the way, are already obvious in Asia and Africa where populations continue to increase primarily because people are living longer. Real demographers know that the world population is on track to contracting, and perhaps quite dramatically.

Once again, I recognize that there are upsides to reduced populations. The problem, however, is that so many government policies are still based on the assumption that every generation will be larger than the last. Growing populations are great in many ways. First of all, more young people entering the work force creates demand for all kinds of goods and services. It grows GDP and therefore tax revenues. The simplest way to achieve economic growth is, in fact, to grow the population.

While this is glaringly obvious, it’s remarkable how many economists miss this elephant in the room when talking about countries such as Japan, where economic problems have mirrored the country’s falling population. Last year, the Japanese population shrank by about a quarter million people.

Japan has the highest life expectancy and oldest population in the world, and the older Japanese people expect that the promises made in the past to help support the aged will be honored. It’s not at all clear to me that those promises can be kept, at least as things now stand.

As I’ve written many times, there were about 17 workers per retired person in the United States when I was born in the middle of the last century. Today, the ratio is less than three to one, and getting worse. Already, 30 cents out of every tax dollar collected in America flows to the aged, but much of that money is being borrowed. In effect, the bill for caring for the aged is being sent to future taxpayers, despite the fact that there will be fewer young workers and more aged people to support. This arrangement is not only unsustainable, it’s unethical. In my opinion, the older, wealthier population should help the younger, less wealthy part of the population, the reverse of the current situation.

Every time I’ve written this over the last 30 years or so, I’ve been attacked by people who claim that I’m a fearmonger and that we have plenty of money to support the aged. Today, however, we’re $17 trillion in debt and still borrowing. The current administration doesn’t even acknowledge that the problem exists, so it’s getting harder and harder to make that case.

We need to face the fact that things are going to get worse before they get better. I have little doubt, however, that we will eventually adjust to the new reality. We’ll see policymakers wake up to the new demographics, as they are in Japan, sooner than most of us think. Other countries are also facing facts and are devising solutions. I particularly like the spirit that some Danes are showing in their efforts to counter the country’s low fertility rate. Japan, however, is leading the way in terms of enabling technological solutions through regulatory reform.

The Japanese government understands that the old model is doomed and is actively looking for ways to increase the national work force. There are two obvious ways to do that. One is to bring more women, who have not traditionally worked to the same extent as Japanese men, into the work force. More working women means economic growth and more funds to support an aging population. The other, more long-term solution is to increase birthrates to grow the national work force.

The problem is that the two strategies counteract one another. Japanese women who work have lower birthrates than those who do not. Therefore, the only remaining solution is to extend health spans and working careers, increasing incomes and tax revenues while reducing medical expenses.

There are several ways that the Japanese are working to do this. The most important is the recently accomplished elimination of phase 2 and phase 3 clinical trials for stem cell therapies. The second is in the field of dietary supplements and nutraceuticals.

Japanese regulators exercise less direct control over the market but provide more solid, peer-reviewed information for consumers and healthcare providers. Recently, for example, the Japanese government issued a patent to Terra Biological for oxaloacetate (trade name benaGene) for use in “life extension.” Oxaloacetate is one of the NAD+ precursors that I take based on recent research. I also take the NAD+ precursor, nicotinamide riboside (trade name Niagen).

In general, Japan is leading the way in efforts to encourage new anti-aging therapies. In the next few years, I anticipate that Japan will continue to lower regulatory barriers for new biotechnologies. This is very unlike America’s FDA, which doesn’t yet recognize anti-aging or life extension as a legitimate therapeutic target.

The current regulatory environment in the US will change, however, because it has to. The only question is how soon it happens.

Fortunately, there is a growing chorus of rational voices in the US. I would recommend that everybody download and read Why Population Aging Matters: A Global Perspective. This relatively brief presentation was written by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health. On its website, the NIA states bluntly:

The world is on the brink of a demographic milestone. Since the beginning of recorded history, young children have outnumbered their elders. In about five years’ time, however, the number of people aged 65 or older will outnumber children under age 5. Driven by falling fertility rates and remarkable increases in life expectancy, population aging will continue, even accelerate. The number of people aged 65 or older is projected to grow from an estimated 524 million in 2010 to nearly 1.5 billion in 2050, with most of the increase in developing countries.

The interesting thing about that quote is that it was written in 2007, which means that this historic change has already come to pass. Back then, the authors warned:

Some governments have begun to plan for the long term, but most have not. The window of opportunity for reform is closing fast as the pace of population aging accelerates. While Europe currently has four people of working age for every older person, it will have only two workers per older person by 2050. In some countries the share of gross domestic product devoted to social insurance for older people is expected to more than double in upcoming years. Countries therefore have only a few years to intensify efforts before demographic effects come to bear.

More than a few years have passed since this report was written and nothing has really changed politically in the US, though the rate of demographic change and the pace of scientific progress, which is pushing out lifespans, have accelerated. Things will, therefore, get worse. The dynamics behind crippling governmental debt internationally are growing.

There are upsides to this totally predictable situation though. One is that we can anticipate many of the outcomes and devise ways of profiting from them. This is why I focus on disruptive biotechnologies that can significantly lower healthcare costs while extending health spans and careers. These biotechnologies provide the only real solution for the demographic transformation, except for the Danish solution mentioned above. I find it fascinating, by the way, that the revolution in biotechnology is happening exactly at the point in history when it’s needed.

Another significant benefit that will accrue from this convergence of forces is that many of us will be able to take advantage of these breakthrough discoveries. I’m incredibly excited about the emergence of growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH) vaccine which has been used widely in animals, where it seemingly rejuvenates and extends lives. Endothelial precursor therapy has similarly been shown in animals to rejuvenate cardiovascular systems. Hopefully soon, we’ll see brown adipose tissue transplantation curing obesity, diabetes and cholesterol problems. There are, however, significant benefits from recently discovered over-the-counter products.

Whenever I talk to el jefe, señor Mauldin, these days, it seems most of our conversations center on our workouts. Both of us work out and lift weights, as we have for much of our lives. Both of us, however, are making gains that we’ve never seen before. One of the Mauldin Economics executives told me recently that he’d never seen John look so good before, that his arms and shoulders are bigger than they’ve ever been.

I probably shouldn’t claim that I look good, but I can say that I’ve also put on a surprising amount of muscle in the last year. That’s not how it’s supposed to work. Both John and I are in our 60s. I work out less than I did than in my 30s, but I’m suddenly lifting much more weight and have more muscle mass than ever. John’s experience is the same.

My only explanation is biotechnology. The NAD⁺ precursors that I mentioned above have been shown in animals to rejuvenate muscle tissue so I’m not surprised to see the effects in humans. I also credit anatabine citrate, though it is at least temporarily unavailable. I’m expecting word on that front soon.

Also, I’m a devoted user of the AVAcore thermogenic device. Recently, a major research organization presented evidence that it may be able to prevent the damage caused by overheating in athletes, but one of the investigating scientists mentioned, as an aside, that it also accelerates training results dramatically. Neither I nor Mauldin Economics have any interest in this privately held company, but I’m evangelical about the benefits, especially to older people. The stronger you are, the lower your risk of disease and mortality.

I realize that the current price of the device is high for many people, but I understand that the company is going to do some sort of crowd-sourcing project in the near future, probably Indiegogo, to fund a much more affordable product. I’ll let you know about the project when I have more information.

One of the reasons that I love the AVAcore device so much is that it perfectly demonstrates the unexpected and dramatic nature of emerging biotechnologies. The notion that exercise capacity and recovery could be dramatically improved by normalizing core body temperature is so unexpected, I’m still in awe over the science and the impact on my health.

It is, however, only the tip of the iceberg. As Japan is demonstrating, an aging population not only wants but demands access to the scientific breakthroughs that can significantly extend health spans. Just as Japan’s regulatory system is bending to the will of its aging population, America’s regulators will be forced to come around.

John and I talk a lot about assisting in that process, and I’ll have more information about that in the future. If you’d like to help in this effort, I suspect there are ways to do so. As it stands, our portfolio contains technologies that I believe will have dramatic impacts on some of the greatest threats to health and longer lives, including Alzheimer’s, cancers, fibrosis, diabetes, and other major diseases. A reformed regulatory system would accelerate therapies to market, which will improve and save lives. It will also allow more of us to live and invest longer.

From the TransTech Digest Research Team:

As Patrick explains above, new biotechnologies will not only extend and improve lives, they will also save the global economy from the implications of a shrinking population. Workers able to stay healthy and remain active in their careers will, quite simply, reduce overall medical spending and lead to an expansion of tax revenues over time.

Today’s transformational technologies—more than perhaps any set of advances the world has ever seen—hold the potential to increase the wealth and the health of all persons in all countries, regardless of their age. Where only a few decades ago many observers saw science fiction, breakthrough research today is working to create previously unfathomable new realities.

You can participate in this process of science fiction becoming science fact in the pages of Patrick’s Transformational Technology Alert. Each month, Patrick profiles a new publicly traded company and shows you the part it plays in the technology revolution ahead. Click here to start a risk-free trial subscription to Transformational Technology Alert today.Sincerely,
Patrick Cox
Patrick Cox
Editor, Transformational Technology Alert

Mauldin Economics

Source: http://www.mauldineconomics.com/tech/tech-digest/peak-babies-not-oil

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/

Bureaucracy Must Die

2014NOV05-7
Gary Hamel writes for Harvard Business Review:

Almost 25 years ago in the pages of HBR, C.K. Prahalad and I urged managers to think in a different way about the building blocks of competitive success.  We argued that a business should be seen as a portfolio of “core competencies” as well as a portfolio of products.  By building and nurturing deep, hard-to-replicate skills, an organization could fatten margins and fuel growth.  While I still believe that distinctive capabilities are essential to distinctive performance, I have increasingly come to believe (as I argued in an earlier post) that even the most competent organizations also suffer from a clutch of core incompetencies. Businesses are, on average, far less adaptable, innovative, and inspiring than they could be and, increasingly, must be.

Most of us grew up in and around organizations that fit a common template. Strategy gets set at the top. Power trickles down. Big leaders appoint little leaders. Individuals compete for promotion. Compensation correlates with rank. Tasks are assigned. Managers assess performance. Rules tightly circumscribe discretion. This is the recipe for “bureaucracy,” the 150-year old mashup of military command structures and industrial engineering that constitutes the operating system for virtually every large-scale organization on the planet. It is the unchallenged tenets of bureaucracy that disable our organizations—that make them inertial, incremental and uninspiring.  To find a cure, we will have to reinvent the architecture and ideology of modern management — two topics that aren’t often discussed in boardrooms or business schools.

Architecture. Ask just about any anyone to draw a picture of their organization — be it a Catholic priest, a Google software engineer, a nurse in Britain’s National Health Service, a guard in Shanghai’s Hongkou Detention Center, or an account executive at Barclays Bank — and you’ll get the familiar rendering of lines-and-boxes. This isn’t a diagram of a network, a community, or an ecosystem — it’s the exoskeleton of bureaucracy; the pyramidal architecture of “command-and-control.” Based on the principles of unitary command and positional authority, it is simple, and scaleable. As one of humanity’s most enduring social structures, it is well-suited to a world in which change meanders rather than leaps. But in a hyperkinetic environment, it is a profound liability.

A formal hierarchy overweights experience and underweights new thinking, and in doing so perpetuates the past. It misallocates power, since promotions often go to the most politically astute rather than to the most prescient or productive. It discourages dissent and breeds sycophants. It makes it difficult for internal renegades to attract talent and cash, since resource allocation is controlled by executives whose emotional equity is invested in the past.

When the responsibility for setting strategy and direction is concentrated at the top of an organization, a few senior leaders become the gatekeepers of change. If they are unwilling to adapt and learn, the entire organization stalls. When a company misses the future, the fault invariably lies with a small cadre of seasoned executives who failed to write off their depreciating intellectual capital. As we learned with the Soviet Union, centralization is the enemy of resilience. You can’t endorse a top-down authority structure and be serious about enhancing adaptability, innovation, or engagement.

Ideology. Business people typically regard themselves as pragmatists, individuals who take pride in their commonsense utilitarianism. This is a conceit. Managers, no less than libertarians, feminists, environmental campaigners, and the devotees of Fox News, are shaped by their ideological biases. So what’s the ideology of bureaucrats? Controlism. Open any thesaurus and you’ll find that the primary synonym for the word “manage,” when used as verb, is “control.” “To manage” is “to control.”

Managers worship at the altar of conformance. That’s their calling—to ensure conformance to product specifications, work rules, deadlines, budgets, quality standards, and corporate policies. More than 60 years ago, Max Weber declared bureaucracy to be “the most rational known means of carrying out imperative control over human beings.” He was right. Bureaucracy is the technology of control. It is ideologically and practically opposed to disorder and irregularity. Problem is, in an age of discontinuity, it’s the irregular people with irregular ideas who create the irregular business models that generate the irregular returns.

In this environment, control is a necessary but far from sufficient prerequisite for success. Think of Intel and the extraordinary control it must exert over thousands of variables to produce its Haswell family of 14-nanometer processors. This operational triumph is tempered, though, by Intel’s failure to capitalize on the explosive growth of the market for mobile devices. More than 60% of the company’s revenue is still tied to personal computers, and less than 3% comes from the company’s unprofitable “Mobile & Communications” unit.

Unfettered controlism cripples organizational vitality.  Adaptability, whether in the biological or commercial realm, requires experimentation—and experiments are more likely to go wrong than right—a scary reality for those charged with excising inefficiencies.  Truly innovative ideas are, by definition, anomalous, and therefore likely to be viewed skeptically in a conformance-obsessed culture.  Engagement is also negatively correlated with control. Shrink an individual’s scope of authority, and you shrink their incentive to dream, imagine and contribute.  It’s absurd that an adult can make a decision to buy a $20,000 car, but at work can’t requisition a $200 office chair without the boss’s sign-off.

Make no mistake: control is important, as is alignment, discipline and accountability—but freedom is equally important. If an organization is going to outrun the future, individuals need the freedom to bend the rules, take risks, go around channels, launch experiments, and pursue their passions. Unfortunately, managers often see control and freedom as mutually exclusive—as ideological rivals like communism and capitalism, rather than as ideological complements like mercy and justice. As long as control is exalted at the expense of freedom, our organizations will remain incompetent at their core.

There’s no other way to put it: bureaucracy must die. We must find a way to reap the blessings of bureaucracy—precision, consistency, and predictability—while at the same time killing it. Bureaucracy, both architecturally and ideologically, is incompatible with the demands of the 21st century.

Some might argue that the biggest challenge facing contemporary business leaders is the undue prominence given to shareholder returns, or the fact that corporations have too long ignored their social responsibilities. These are indeed challenges, but they are neither as pervasive nor as problematic as the challenge of defeating bureaucracy.

First, only a minority of the world’s employees work in publicly-held corporations that are subject to the rigors and shortcomings of American-style capitalism. Bureaucracy, on the other hand, is universal.

Second, most progressive leaders, like Apple’s Tim Cook or HCL Technologies’ retired CEO Vineet Nayar, already understand that the first priority of a business is to do something truly amazing for customers, that shareholder returns are but one measure of success, that short-term ROI calculations can’t be used to as the sole justification for strategic investments, and that, since corporate freedoms are socially negotiated, businesses must be responsive to the broader needs of the societies in which they operate. All this is becoming canonical among enlightened executives. Yes, work still needs to be done to better align CEO compensation with long-term value creation, but that work is already well underway. And while some CEOs still grumble that Anglo-Saxon investors are inherently short-term in their outlook, their argument breaks down the moment you realize that investors often happily award a fast-growing company a price-earnings multiple that is many times the market average.

Simply put, at this point in business history, the pay-off from reforming capitalism, while substantial, pales in comparison to the gains that could be reaped from creating organizations that are as fully capable as the people who work within them.

I meet few executives around the world who are champions of bureaucracy, but neither do I meet many who are actively pursuing an alternative. For too long we’ve been fiddling at the margins. We’ve flattened corporate hierarchies, but haven’t eliminated them. We’ve eulogized empowerment, but haven’t distributed executive authority. We’ve encouraged employees to speak up, but haven’t allowed them to set strategy. We’ve been advocates for innovation, but haven’t systematically dismantled the barriers that keep it marginalized. We’ve talked (endlessly) about the need for change, but haven’t taught employees how to be internal activists. We’ve denounced bureaucracy, but haven’t dethroned it; and now we must.

We have to face the fact that any change program that doesn’t address the architectural rigidities and ideological prejudices of bureaucracy won’t, in fact, change much at all. We need to remind ourselves that bureaucracy was an invention, and that whatever replaces it will also be an invention—a cluster of radically new management principles and processes that will help us take advantage of scale without becoming sclerotic, that will maximize efficiency without suffocating innovation, that will boost discipline without extinguishing freedom. We can cure the core incompetencies of the corporation—but only with a bold and concerted effort to pull bureaucracy up by its roots.

Source: https://hbr.org/2014/11/bureaucracy-must-die/

Which Global Hegemon Is on Shifting Sands?

Charles Hugh Smith writing for OfTwoMinds

Given that all the leading candidates for Global Hegemon are hastening down paths of self-destruction, perhaps there will be no global hegemon dominating the 21st century.

Which nation with aspirations of global dominance (i.e. hegemony) has these attributes?

1. The nation’s recent prosperity is based on a vast expansion of credit.

2. The nation has 100+ million obese/diabetic citizens.

3. The citizens have little say over central government policies that favor cronies.

4. The nation faces demographic headwinds as the number of people in the workforce declines and the number of retirees balloons.

5. Large regions of the nation suffer from chronic water shortages.

So, which Global Hegemon Is on shifting sands? Hmm, sounds like the U.S. is a match so far…. Let’s add a few more attributes:

6. The nation’s credit expansion has relied on a largely unregulated shadow banking system.

7. The nation is in the midst of an unprecedented housing bubble.

This could still be the U.S., but America’s unprecedented housing bubble popped in 2006–the current bubble is a mere echo bubble. Let’s add a few more attributes:

8. The nation is beset with unprecedented “external” environmental costs as a result of rapid and largely unregulated industrialization.

9. The nation suffers from large-scale desertification.

10. Over half the nation’s monied Elites have either left the nation or plan to leave and transfer their financial wealth overseas.

The only nation with aspirations of global hegemony that fits all these attributes is China. The conventional China Story holds that the 21st century will be China’s century, much like the 20th century was America’s.

But this story overlooks the vast demographic, health, environmental and financial problems built into China’s land, people, and Central-Planning systems of finance and governance.

Consider two charts drawn from John Hampson’s recent overview of Problems in China:

China’s shadow banking system, which provided the majority of the credit that fueled the current expansion, is imploding:

Not coincidentally, China’s unprecedented housing bubble is also imploding:

China’s system allows only a limited number of options for savings and investment; other than bank accounts that have lost money when real inflation is accounted for, the primary option available to households is real estate. As a consequence, an enormous percentage of the nation’s household wealth has been sunk into empty apartments which act as “savings.”

But a physical flat in a high-rise building is not a financial asset like a savings account: it is a physical object that degrades with time and whose value is set by supply, demand and the availability and cost of credit.

If the building is not maintained properly, elevators break down, pipes start leaking and fixtures corrode, and the value of an unmaintained building drops to zero in terms of habitability within a decade or so.

100 million apartments become an enormous mal-investment of one-time wealth as they slowly become uninhabitable due to poor construction and/or maintenance.

China has been building infrastructure at a break-neck pace for 30 years, and this has created the mindset that almost every structure will be torn down and replaced with something grander every 20 years or so.

As a result of this mindset, very few structures are maintained. Why bother if it will be torn down and replaced a few years down the road?

But tens of millions of apartments cannot replaced every decade or two.

In effect, China has squandered its one-time wealth generated by rapid industrialization, and absorbed the still-uncounted environmental and health costs of this industrialization that must be paid in shortened lives, higher healthcare costs and environmental cleanups for decades to come.

Few promoters of the China Hegemony-in-the-21st-century Story mention the estimated 114 million people in China with diabetes–over one third the population of the U.S.– or the roughly 500 million people in China with elevated blood-sugar levels that put them at risk of developing diabetes or related lifestyle diseases. China ‘Catastrophe’ Hits 114 Million as Diabetes Spreads.

How much of the nation’s surplus wealth will be devoted to fixing the environmental and health costs that are already visible? How much of the wealth is actually phantom wealth that will vanish as the housing bubble based on an unprecedented credit bubble pops?

The China Story based on demographics, health, environmental damage and financial Central Planning is a quite different one from the China will be the global hegemon in the 21st century story. Given that all the leading candidates for Global Hegemon are hastening down paths of self-destruction, perhaps there will be no global hegemon dominating the 21st century.

Source: http://www.oftwominds.com/blogsept14/empire-of-sand9-14.html

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 U.S. Government Is Borrowing About 8 Trillion Dollars A Year

By Michael Snyder for The Economic Collapse
National Debt - Public Domain

I know that headline sounds completely outrageous.  But it is actually true.  The U.S. government is borrowing about 8 trillion dollars a year, and you are about to see the hard numbers that prove this.  When discussing the national debt, most people tend to only focus on the amount that it increases each 12 months.  And as I wrote about recently, the U.S. national debt has increased by more than a trillion dollars in fiscal year 2014.  But that does not count the huge amounts of U.S. Treasury securities that the federal government must redeem each year.  When these debt instruments hit their maturity date, the U.S. government must pay them off.  This is done by borrowing more money to pay off the previous debts.  In fiscal year 2013, redemptions of U.S. Treasury securities totaled $7,546,726,000,000 and new debt totaling $8,323,949,000,000 was issued.  The final numbers for fiscal year 2014 are likely to be significantly higher than that.So why does so much government debt come due each year?

Well, in recent years government officials figured out that they could save a lot of money on interest payments by borrowing over shorter time frames.  For example, it costs the government far more to borrow money for 10 years than it does for 1 year.  So a strategy was hatched to borrow money for very short periods of time and to keep “rolling it over” again and again and again.

This strategy has indeed saved the federal government hundreds of billions of dollars in interest payments, but it has also created a situation where the federal government must borrow about 8 trillion dollars a year just to keep up with the game.

So what happens when the rest of the world decides that it does not want to loan us 8 trillion dollars a year at ultra-low interest rates?

Well, the game will be over and we will be in a massive amount of trouble.

I am about to share with you some numbers that were originally reported by CNS News.  As you can see, far more debt is being redeemed and issued today than back during the middle part of the last decade…

2013

Redeemed: $7,546,726,000,000

Issued: $8,323,949,000,000

Increase: $777,223,000,000

2012

Redeemed: $6,804,956,000,000

Issued: $7,924,651,000,000

Increase: $1,119,695,000,000

2011

Redeemed: $7,026,617,000,000

Issued: $8,078,266,000,000

Increase: $1,051,649,000,000

2010

Redeemed: $7,206,965,000,000

Issued: $8,649,171,000,000

Increase: $1,442,206,000,000

2009

Redeemed: $7,306,512,000,000

Issued: $9,027,399,000,000

Increase: $1,720,887,000,000

2008

Redeemed: $4,898,607,000,000

Issued: $5,580,644,000,000

Increase: $682,037,000,000

2007

Redeemed: $4,402,395,000,000

Issued: $4,532,698,000,000

Increase: $130,303,000,000

2006

Redeemed: $4,297,869,000,000

Issued: $4,459,341,000,000

Increase: $161,472,000,000

The only way that this game can continue is if the U.S. government can continue to borrow gigantic piles of money at ridiculously low interest rates.

And our current standard of living greatly depends on the continuation of this game.

If something comes along and rattles this Ponzi scheme, life in America could change radically almost overnight.

In the United States today, we have a heavily socialized system that hands out checks to nearly half the population.  In fact, 49 percent of all Americans live in a home that gets direct monetary benefits from the federal government each month according to the U.S. Census Bureau.  And it is hard to believe, but Americans received more than 2 trillion dollars in benefits from the federal government last year alone.  At this point, the primary function of the federal government is taking money from some people and giving it to others.  In fact, more than 70 percent of all federal spending goes to “dependence-creating programs”, and the government runs approximately 80 different “means-tested welfare programs” right now.  But the big problem is that the government is giving out far more money than it is taking in, so it has to borrow the difference.  As long as we can continue to borrow at super low interest rates, the status quo can continue.

But a Ponzi scheme like this can only last for so long.

It has been said that when the checks stop coming in, chaos will begin in the streets of America.

The looting that took place when a technical glitch caused the EBT system to go down for a short time in some areas last year and the rioting in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri this year were both small previews of what we will see in the future.

And there is no way that we will be able to “grow” our way out of this problem.

As the Baby Boomers continue to retire, the amount of money that the federal government is handing out each year is projected to absolutely skyrocket.  Just consider the following numbers…

Back in 1965, only one out of every 50 Americans was on Medicaid.  Today, more than 70 million Americans are on Medicaid, and it is being projected that Obamacare will add 16 million more Americans to the Medicaid rolls.

When Medicare was first established, we were told that it would cost about $12 billion a year by the time 1990 rolled around.  Instead, the federal government ended up spending $110 billion on the program in 1990, and the federal government spent approximately $600 billion on the program in 2013.

It is being projected that the number of Americans on Medicare will grow from 50.7 million in 2012 to 73.2 million in 2025.

At this point, Medicare is facing unfunded liabilities of more than 38 trillion dollars over the next 75 years.  That comes to approximately $328,404 for every single household in the United States.

In 1945, there were 42 workers for every retiree receiving Social Security benefits.  Today, that number has fallen to 2.5 workers, and if you eliminate all government workers, that leaves only 1.6 private sector workers for every retiree receiving Social Security benefits.

Right now, there are approximately 63 million Americans collecting Social Security benefits.  By 2035, that number is projected to soar to an astounding 91 million.

Overall, the Social Security system is facing a 134 trillion dollar shortfall over the next 75 years.

The U.S. government is facing a total of 222 trillion dollars in unfunded liabilities during the years ahead.  Social Security and Medicare make up the bulk of that.

Yes, things seem somewhat stable for the moment in America today.

But the same thing could have been said about 2007.  The stock market was soaring, the economy seemed like it was rolling right along and people were generally optimistic about the future.

Then the financial crisis of 2008 erupted and it seemed like the world was going to end.

Well, the truth is that another great crisis is rapidly approaching, and we are in far worse shape financially than we were back in 2008.

Don’t get blindsided by what is ahead.  Evidence of the coming catastrophe is all around you.

Source: http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/the-u-s-government-is-borrowing-about-8-trillion-dollars-a-year

 

Energy and the Economy – Twelve Basic Principles

By Gail Tverberg

There is a standard view of energy and the economy that can briefly be summarized as follows: Economic growth can continue forever; we will learn to use less energy supplies; energy prices will rise; and the world will adapt. My view of how energy and the economy fit together is very different. It is based on the principle of reaching limits in a finite world. Let me explain the issues as I see them.

Twelve Basic Principles of Energy and the Economy

1. Economic models are no longer valid, as we start getting close to limits.

We live in a finite world. Because of this, the extraction of energy resources and of resources in general operates in a way that is not at all intuitive as we approach limits. Economists have put together models of how the economy can be expected to act based on how the economy acts when it is distant from limits. Unfortunately, these economic models are worse than useless as limits approach because modeled relationships no longer hold. For example:

(a) The assumption that oil prices will rise as the cost of extraction rises is not necessarily true. Instead, a finite world creates feedback loops that tend to keep oil prices too low because of its tight inter-connections with wages. We see this happening right now. The Telegraph reported recently, “Oil and gas company debt soars to danger levels to cover shortfall in cash.”

(b) The assumption that greater investment will lead to greater output becomes less and less true, as the easy to extract resources (including oil) become more depleted.

(c) The assumption that higher prices will lead to higher wages no longer holds, as the easy to extract resources (including oil) become more depleted.

(d) The assumption that substitution will be possible when there are shortages becomes less and less appropriate because of interconnections with the rest of the system. Particular problems include the huge investment required for such substitution, impacts on the financial system, and shortages developing simultaneously in many areas (oil, metals such as copper, rare earth metals, and fresh water, for example).

More information is available from my post, Why Standard Economic Models Don’t Work–Our Economy is a Network.

2. Energy and other physical resources are integral to the economy.

In order to make any type of goods suitable for human use, it takes resources of various sorts (often soil, water, wood, stones, metals, and/or petrochemicals), plus one or more forms of energy (human energy, animal energy, wind power, energy from flowing water, solar energy, burned wood or fossil fuels, and/or electricity). With solar energy being the most prominent one out of the lot, it also has helped in the emergence of companies like RENEW ENERGY, a leading manufacturer, which manufactures products that try to harness from the sun as much energy as they can.

Figure 1. Energy of various types is used to transform raw materials (that is resources) into finished products.
Figure 1. Energy of various types is used to transform raw materials (that is resources) into finished products.

3. As we approach limits, diminishing returns leads to growing inefficiency in production, rather than growing efficiency.

As we use resources of any sort, we use the easiest (and cheapest) to extract first. This leads to a situation of diminishing returns. In other words, as more resources are extracted, extraction becomes increasingly expensive in terms of resources required, including human and other energy requirements. These diminishing returns do not diminish in a continuous slow way. Instead, there tends to be a steep rise in costs after a long period of slowly increasing costs, as limits are approached.

Figure 2. The way we would expect the cost of the extraction of energy supplies to rise, as finite supplies deplete.
Figure 2. The way we would expect the cost of the extraction of energy supplies to rise, as finite supplies deplete.

One example of such steeply rising costs is the sharply rising cost of oil extraction since 2000 (about 12% per year for “upstream costs”). Another is the steep rise in costs that occurs when a community finds it must use desalination to obtain fresh water because deeper wells no longer work. Another example involves metals extraction. As the quality of the metal ore drops, the amount of waste material rises slowly at first, and then rapidly escalates as metal concentrations approaches 0%, as in Figure 2.

The sharp shift in the cost of extraction wreaks havoc with economic models based on a long period of very slowly rising costs. In a period of slowly rising costs, technological advances can easily offset the underlying rise in extraction costs, leading to falling total costs. Once limits are approached, technological advances can no longer completely offset underlying cost increases. The inflation-adjusted cost of extraction starts rising. The economy, in effect, starts becoming less and less efficient. This is in sharp contrast to lower costs and thus apparently greater efficiency experienced in earlier periods.

4. Energy consumption is integral to “holding our own” against other species.

All species reproduce in greater numbers than need to replace their parents. Natural selection determines which ones survive. Humans are part of this competition as well.

In the past 100,000 years, humans have been able to “win” this competition by harnessing external energy of various types–first burned biomass to cook food and keep warm, later trained dogs to help in hunting. The amount of energy harnessed by humans has grown over the years. The types of energy harnessed include human slaves, energy from animals of various sorts, solar energy, wind energy, water energy, burned wood and fossil fuels, and electricity from various sources.

Human population has soared, especially since the time fossil fuels began to be used, about 1800.

Figure 3. World population based on data from "Atlas of World History," McEvedy and Jones, Penguin Reference Books, 1978 and Wikipedia-World Population.
Figure 3. World population based on data from “Atlas of World History,” McEvedy and Jones, Penguin Reference Books, 1978 and Wikipedia-World Population.

Even now, human population continues to grow (Figure 4), although the percentage rate of growth has slowed.

http://gailtheactuary.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/population.png
Figure 4. World population split between US, EU-27, and Japan, and the Rest of the World.

Because the world is finite, the greater use of resources by humans leads to lesser availability of resources by other species. There is evidence that the Sixth Mass Extinction of species started back in the days of hunter-gatherers, as their ability to use of fire to burn biomass and ability to train dogs to assist them in the hunt for food gave them an advantage over other species.

Also, because of the tight coupling of human population with growing energy consumption historically, even back to hunter-gatherer days, it is doubtful that decoupling of energy consumption and population growth can fully take place. Energy consumption is needed for such diverse tasks as growing food, producing fresh water, controlling microbes, and transporting goods.

5. We depend on a fragile self-organized economy that cannot be easily replaced.

Individual humans acting on their own have very limited ability to extract and control resources, including energy resources. The only way such control can happen is through a self-organized economy that allows people, businesses, and governments to work together on common endeavors. Development of a self-organized economy started very early, as bands of hunter-gatherers learned to work together, perhaps over shared meals of cooked food. More complex economies grew up as additional functions were added. These economies have gradually merged together to form the huge international economy we have today, including international trade and international finance.

This networked economy has a tendency to grow, in part because human population tends to grow (Item 4 above), and in part because greater complexity is required to solve problems, as an economy grows. This networked economy gradually adds more businesses and consumers, each one making choices based on prices and regulations in place at the particular time.

Figure 5. Dome constructed using Leonardo Sticks
Figure 5. Dome constructed using Leonardo Sticks

This networked economy is fragile. It can grow, but it cannot easily shrink, because the economy is constantly optimized for the circumstances at the time. As new products are developed (such as cars), support for prior approaches (such as horses, buggies and buggy whips) disappears. Systems designed for the current level of usage, such as oil pipelines or Internet infrastructure, cannot easily be changed to accommodate a much lower level of usage. This is the reason why the economy is illustrated as interconnected but hollow inside.

Another reason that the economy cannot shrink is because of the large amount of debt in place. If the economy shrinks, the number of debt defaults will soar, and many banks and insurance companies will find themselves in financial difficulty. Lack of banking and insurance services will adversely affect both local and international trade.

6. Limits of a finite world exert many pressures simultaneously on an economy.

There a number of ways an economy can reach a situation of inadequate resources for its population. While all of these may not happen at once, the combination makes the result worse than it otherwise would be.

a. Diminishing returns (that is, rising production costs as depletion sets in) for resources such as fresh water, metals, and fossil fuels.

b. Declining soil quality due to erosion, loss of mineral content, or increased soil salinity due to poor irrigation practices.

c. Rising population relative to the amount of arable land, fresh water, forest resources, mineral resources, and other resources available.

d. A need to use an increasing share of resources to combat pollution, related to resource extraction and use.

e. A need to use an increasing share of resources to maintain built infrastructure, such as roads, pipelines, electric grids, and schools.

f. A need to use an increasing share of resources to support government activities to support an increasingly complex society.

g. Declining availability of food that is traditionally hunted (such as fish, monkeys, and elephants), because an increase in human population leads to over-hunting and loss of habitat for other species.

7. Our current problems are worryingly similar to the problems experienced by earlier civilizations before they collapsed.

In the past, there have been civilizations that were confined to a limited area that grew for a while, and then collapsed once resource availability declined or population outgrew resources. Such issues led to a situation of diminishing returns, similar to the problems we are experiencing today. We know from studies of these prior civilizations how diminishing returns manifested themselves. These include:

(a) Reduced job availability and lower wages, especially for new workers joining the workforce.

(b) Spiking food costs.

(c) Growing demands on governments for services, because of (a) and (b).

(d) Declining ability of governments to collect sufficient taxes from workers who are producing less and less (because of diminishing returns) and because of this, receiving lower wages.

(e) Increased reliance on debt.

(f) Increased likelihood of resource wars, as a group with inadequate resources tries to take resources from other groups.

(g) Eventual population decline. This occurred for two reasons: As wages dropped and needed taxes rose, workers found it increasingly difficult to obtain an adequate diet. As a result, they become more susceptible to epidemics and diseases. Greater involvement in resource wars also led to higher death rates.

When collapse came, it did not come all at once. Rather a long period of growth was succeeded by a period of stagnation, before a crisis period of several years took place.

Figure 6. Shape of typical Secular Cycle, based on work of Peter Turchin and Sergey Nefedov in Secular Cycles.
Figure 6. Shape of typical Secular Cycle, based on work of Peter Turchin and Sergey Nefedov in Secular Cycles.

We began an economic growth cycle back when we began using fossil fuels to a significant extent, starting about 1800. We began a stagflation period, at least in the industrialized economies, when oil prices began to spike in the 1970s. Less industrialized countries have been able to continue growth their growth pattern longer. Our situation is likely to differ from that of early civilizations, because early civilizations were not dependent on fossil fuels. Pre-collapse skills tended to be useful post-collapse, because there was no real change in energy sources. Loss of fossil fuels would considerably change the dynamic of the outcome, because most jobs would become obsolete.

Most models put together by economists assume that the conditions of the growth period, or the growth plus stagflation period, will continue forever. Such models miss turning points.

8. Modeling underlying the book Limits to Growth shows why depletion can be expected to lead to declining economic growth. It also shows why extracting all of the resources that seem to be available is likely to be impossible.

We also know from the analysis underlying the book The Limits to Growth (by Donella Meadows and others, published in 1972) that growing demand for resources because of Items listed as 6a to 6g above will take an increasingly large share of resources produced. This dynamic makes it very difficult to produce enough additional resources so that economic growth can continue. The authors report that the behavior mode of the modeled system is overshoot and collapse.

The 1972 analysis does not model the financial system, including debt and the repayment of debt with interest. The closest it comes to economic modeling is modeling industrial capital, which it describes as factories, machines, and other physical “stuff” needed to extract resources and produce goods. It finds that inability to produce enough industrial capital is likely to be a bottleneck far before resources in the ground are exhausted.

As an example in today’s world, there seems to be a huge amount of very heavy oil that can be steamed out of the ground in many places including Canada and Venezuela. (The existence of such heavy oil is one reason the ratio of oil reserves to oil production is high.) To actually get this oil out of the ground quickly would require a huge physical investment in a very short time frame. As a practical matter, we cannot ramp up all of the physical infrastructure needed (pipelines, steaming equipment, refining equipment) without badly cutting into the resources needed to “grow” the rest of the economy. A similar problem is likely to exist if we try to ramp up world oil and gas supply using fracking.

9. Our real concern should be collapse caused by reaching limits in many ways, not the slow decline reflected in a Hubbert Curve.

One reason for being concerned about collapse is the similarity of the problems our current economy is experiencing to those of prior economies that collapsed, as discussed in Item 7. Another reason for this concern is based on the observation from physics that an economy is a dissipative structure, just as a hurricanes is, and just as a human being is. Such dissipative structures have a finite lifetime.

Concern about future collapse is very different from concern that one or another resource will decline in a symmetric Hubbert curve. The view that resources such as oil will gradually decrease in availability once 50% of the resources have been extracted reflects a best-case scenario, where a perfect replacement (both cheap and abundant) replaces the item that is depleting, so that the economy is not affected. Hubbert illustrated the kind of situation he was envisioning with the following graphic:

Figure 7. Figure from Hubbert's 1956 paper, Nuclear Energy and the Fossil Fuels.
Figure 7. Figure from Hubbert’s 1956 paper, Nuclear Energy and the Fossil Fuels.

10. There is a tight link between both oil consumption and total energy consumption and world economic growth.

This tight link is evident from historical data:

Figure 8. A comparison of three year average growth in world real GDP (based on USDA values in $2005$), oil supply and energy supply. Oil and energy supply are from BP Statistical Review of World Energy, 2014.
Figure 8. A comparison of three year average growth in world real GDP (based on USDA values in $2005$), oil supply and energy supply. Oil and energy supply are from BP Statistical Review of World Energy, 2014.

The link between energy and the economy comes both from the supply side and the demand side.

With respect to supply, it takes energy of many types to make goods and services of all types. This is discussed in Item 2 above.

With respect to demand,

(a) People who earn good wages (indirectly through the making of goods and services with energy products) can afford to buy products using energy.

(b) Because consumers pay taxes and buy goods and services, growth in demand from adequate wages flows through to governments and businesses as well.

(c) Higher wages enable higher debt, and higher debt also acts to increase demand.

(d) Increased demand increases the price of the resources needed to make the product with higher demand, making more of such resources economic to extract.

11. We need a growing supply of cheap energy to maintain economic growth.

This can be seen several ways.

(a) Today, all countries compete in a world economy. If a country’s economy uses an expensive source of energy (say high-priced oil or renewables) it must compete with other countries that use cheaper fuel sources (such as coal). The high price of energy puts the country with high-cost energy at a severe competitive disadvantage, pushing the economy toward economic contraction.

(b) Part of the world’s energy consumption comes from “free” energy from the sun. This solar energy is not evenly distributed: the warm areas of the world get considerably more than the cold areas of the world. The cold areas of the world are forced to compensate for this lack of free solar energy by building more substantial buildings and heating them more. They are also more inclined to use “closed in” transportation vehicles that are more costly than say, walking or using a bicycle.

Back in pre-fossil fuel days, the warm areas of the world predominated in economic development. The cold areas of the world “surged ahead” when their own forests ran short of the wood needed to provide the heat-energy they needed, and they learned to use coal instead. The knowledge they gained about using coal for home-heating quickly transferred to the ability to use coal to provide heat for industrial purposes. Since the warm areas of the world were not yet industrialized, the coal-using countries of the North were able to surge ahead economically. The advantage of the cold industrialized countries grew as they learned to use oil and natural gas. But once oil and natural gas became expensive, and industrialization spread around the world, the warm countries regained their advantage.

(c) Wages, (non-human) energy costs, and financing costs are all major contributors to the cost of producing goods and services. When energy costs rise, the rise in energy costs puts pressure both on wages and on interest rates (since interest rates determine financing costs), because businesses need to keep the total cost of goods and services close to “flat,” if consumers are to afford them. This occurs because wages do not rise as energy prices rise. In fact, pressure to keep the total cost of goods low creates pressure to reduce wages when oil prices are high (perhaps by sending manufacturing to a lower-cost country), just as it adds pressure to keep interest rates low.

(d) If we look at historical US data, wages have tended to rise strongly (in inflation-adjusted terms) when oil prices were less than $40 to $50 barrel, but have tended to stagnate above that oil price range.

Figure 9. Average wages in 2012$ compared to Brent oil price, also in 2012$. Average wages are total wages based on BEA data adjusted by the CPI-Urban, divided total population. Thus, they reflect changes in the proportion of population employed as well as wage levels.
Figure 9. Average wages in 2012$ compared to Brent oil price, also in 2012$. Average wages are total wages based on BEA data adjusted by the CPI-Urban, divided total population. Thus, they reflect changes in the proportion of population employed as well as wage levels.

12. Oil prices that are too low for producers should be a serious concern. Such low prices occur because oil becomes unaffordable. In the language of economists, oil demand drops too low.

A common belief is that our concern should be oil prices that are too high, and thus strangle the economy. A much bigger concern should be that oil prices will fall too low, discouraging investment. Such low oil prices also encourage civil unrest in oil exporting nations, because the governments of these nations depend on tax revenue that is available when oil prices are high to balance their budgets.

It can easily be seen that high oil prices strangle the economies of oil importers. The salaries of consumers go “less far” in buying basics such as food (which is raised and transported using oil) and transportation to work. Higher costs for basics causes consumers cut back on discretionary expenditures, such as buying new more expensive homes, buying new cars, and going out to restaurants. These cutbacks by consumers lead to job layoffs in discretionary sectors and to falling home prices. Debt defaults are likely to rise as well, because laid-off workers have difficulty paying their loans. Our experience in the 2007-2009 period shows that these impacts quickly lead to severe recession and a drop in oil prices.

The issue we are now seeing is the reverse–too low oil prices for oil producers, including oil exporters. These low oil prices are contributing to the unrest we see in the Middle East. Low oil prices also contribute to Russia’s belligerence, since it needs high oil revenues to maintain its budget.

Conclusion

We seem now to be at risk in many ways of entering into the collapse scenario experienced by many civilizations before us.

One of areas of risk is that interest rates will rise, as the Quantitative Easing and Zero Interest Rate Policies held in place since 2008 erode. These ultra-low interest rates are needed to keep products affordable, since the high cost of oil (relative to consumer salaries) has not really gone away.

Another area of risk is an increase in debt defaults. One example occurs when student loan borrowers find it impossible to repay these loans on their meager wages. Another example is China with the financing of its big recent expansion by debt. A third example is the possibility that businesses extracting resources will find it impossible to repay loans with today’s (relatively) low commodity prices.

Another area of risk is natural disasters. It takes surpluses to deal with these disasters. As we reach limits, it becomes harder to mitigate the effects of a major hurricane or earthquake.

Clearly loss of oil production because of conflict in the Middle East or in other oil producing countries is a concern.

This list is by no means exhaustive. Many economies are “near the edge” now. Recent news is that Germany has slipped into recession as well as Japan. One economy failing is likely to pull others with it.
Related Notes
The unnecessary burden imposed by the UK’s “green” energy policy | Adam Smith InstituteThe unnecessary burden imposed by the UK’s “green” energy policy Written by George Layton| Wednesday 7 August 2013 Green was traditionally the colour of money, but with UK and EU energy policy, it is …
Ten reasons to be cheerful, part 2: Water | Adam Smith InstituteHomeBlogTen reasons to be cheerful, part 2: Water Ten reasons to be cheerful, part 2: Water Written by Dr Madsen Pirie| Tuesday 23 October 2012 Some people tell us that water scarcity might well be th…

Source: http://ourfiniteworld.com/2014/08/14/energy-and-the-economy-twelve-basic-principles/

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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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