Yes, there are other things to talk about, and we will talk about them, including “Nobody knows anything” part the third or fourth, or whatever the heck it is.
But my son belongs to a group of young people who chat online. And I realized, with a startle, that while these people — thirties and twenties — are completely inured to “the world is going to end in twelve years” because they’ve been hearing it since elementary school, they believe they’re in for another type of apocalypse.
It was when one of my son’s friends said something on line about how the debt apocalypse was going to kill her soon, in the same day my son had spent half an hour natering at me about how soon all our budget would go to service our debt, that I realized they’ve been feeding each other tales of “apocalypse now..”
For all I know their group is not unusual for smarter kids in our nation. Which would explain what Victory girls said is The Rise Of Joker Terrorism.
Look, kids run about ten years behind us. That’s how good life has been. Humans need a certain amount of hardship to grow and learn, and even my kids — and we tried to pile responsibilities on them as soon as they could handle them — run 5 to 10 years behind us, depending on the area. More in some. I don’t expect they’d be comfortable taking night trains all over Europe with their back pack to places they’d never been. But then again, I wouldn’t be comfortable with it now, trains having become in general uncomfortable to me.
Hormonal insanity actually runs through mid twenties in most boys. Heck, I remember when it turned off. I was 23. I felt the switch go off, as it were, and suddenly there wasn’t a mad squirrel in the back of my mind. (In retrospect, I think adult hormone levels kept my ADD controllable, because menopause seems to have sent it spinning again, but that’s a discussion for another time.)
The point is, people who are hormonally insane, are coming of age in an economy that yeah, is starting to move, but in the Obama years, when there were no jobs, most of them accumulated more credentials and consequent debt than any of us had at their ages. And they have to find jobs that pay enough for that. And they don’t see a pathway to get to where we are.
Meanwhile, hiring has become exponentially crazier. No, seriously. Not only have most companies acquired HRs but they’re processing things via computer. People are now supposed to put in “keywords” to get hired. No, seriously. I can’t even come up with keywords for my books, much less for myself. If I were looking for work now (and it might, G-d knows, come to that) despite all my qualifications and work ethic, that would be an insurmountable barrier. Kid isn’t doing much better than I. Nor are his friends. I would say “I don’t know what the companies are up to” but of course I do. Most people I know, including Dan’s current job, are hired through word of mouth recommendation. This is useful because then people have some assurance the, say, newly hired engineer can at least read and write, given “nobody knows anything” (or trusts anyone else. And that too is a post for another day. In the name of being “non-discriminatory” we’ve made all credentials valueless.) And if it fails, well, there’s always HB1 visas.
Thing is we didn’t know. I’m still appalled “How we got so far so quick.” And we can’t have been the only ones who didn’t know.
Societies have workarounds for these things. In Europe you stay in the professions where your family has contacts, precisely because of this. Yeah, sure, it prevents upward mobility, but your kid won’t spend 6 years unemployed, as my brother did, when he didn’t know anyone in electrical engineering. If we’d had an inkling, I’d have apprenticed the elder, while advising him to get something quick that pays at least something (probably paramedic training, since he’s been fascinated by human biology since he knew it existed) till he established himself. And Dan would have apprenticed the younger.
We didn’t know. We can’t be the only ones.
So there are a bunch of young people, having trouble finding jobs commensurate with their training, or in the areas they worked very hard to work in. That’s before you get into the lies, like “if you have an English degree people will make you an executive.” Yes, I’ve been reading those articles for 30 years, implying that knowing a lot about your native language and a ton of shibboleths about political correctness is somehow valuable for business. (I guess all these people end up in HR, explaining a lot.) I’m here to tell you it’s a lie. My degree translates closest to that (with translation training and a lot of other stuff thrown in) and there are no jobs except what would have been — 50 years ago — a high-school graduate’s ladder of beginner job that proves you’re actually good for something. By which I mean, yep, retail, or barista, or, in an office, receptionist. Which is fine, if you didn’t pay for a Masters. (I didn’t. And no, it wasn’t free college for all, but it’s too complex to get into.)
Anyway, so you have these kids running around. They are full of the hormonal insanity that makes it necessary for things to happen NOW. (Probably an evolutionary mechanism that makes you succeed while you have the strength to work insanely.) And even if they find something, and are making money — guys, married couples will be piling two and three to an apartment now, because they can’t afford to rent alone, let alone buy — they don’t see a pathway to their parents’ standard of living, with the monkey of student loans on their backs.
Of course they believe apocalyptic theories. Climate change. Illuminati conspiracy bullcrap. And apparently, for the more discriminating set, debtpocalypse.
It ties in well with their lack of experience and the “everything must happen/will happen now.”
And is it any surprise the more unstable take to mass murder? What shocks me is that there aren’t more of them. (And no, it’s not guns. Trust me on this, there are other ways to commit mass murder.)
This reminds me of exam week in 9th grade, approaching the exams that would determine whether we went to college or professional training, or were done with formal schooling. People were jumping down from the fourth floor in the stairwell. People were throwing themselves under trains. And all of them left “manifestos.” And yes, people were putting bombs in schools. Fortunately not COMPETENT people, so none of them went off.
Same sort of thing.
Well, I can’t speak to eco-pocalypse, except to tell you I wouldn’t pay it too much attention. There are places you can find reliable information that aren’t panic mongers, but this is not the point of this post. I’ll just say this: when I was your age we were all going to freeze to death. By 1990 we were supposed to be in the middle of another ice age. Because pollution. And the solution for it was more government control and giving up fossil fuels.
Then it changed on a dime to “we’re all going to burn to death” but the reasons and solutions were the same. (And that’s when I stopped subscribing to Scientific American.)
That the horizon is always 10 to 12 years means it’s someone trying to stampede you. You can’t always know all the scientific stuff they bring up to achieve this (though at this point I know a lot of scientists, so I CAN, at least second hand) but if you just assume something with a 10 to 12 year horizon of “we’re all gonna die” is bullshit and it’s either someone telling lies/exaggerating for the frisson of it, or dishonest politicians (but I repeat myself) trying to stampede you, you won’t go far wrong.
I can’t answer to the Illuminati, the Templars, or any other kind of shadowy organization. I’m SURE there are no shadowy conspiracies going back hundreds or (dear Lord) thousands of years. I’m sure of it for the simple reason that human institutions aren’t that good at staying the same, let alone staying the same AND SECRET. Look at the Roman Catholic Church, history of, for elucidation. Or heck, our constitutional republic.
There are piddly “conspiracies” like the Journolist crap. But mostly the left has a lot of people going the same way having been brainwashed not even into the principles of the left, but into believing that being leftist is a positional good. I.e. that “wearing” leftism makes them smarter, kinder, and probably gives them a better complexion. (IOW, it’s #metoo all the way down, on every subject, which is hilarious when they idolize the image of rebels [But actually hate any real rebels, like all good boys and girls do.])
Now the debt-pocalypse.
My guess on why this snares the smartest ones, is that no one talks about it in public (though there’s a congressman trying to.)
And like the idiots on the left — Hello, Occasional Cortex! — they have only a vague understanding of how money works. I mean, on a macro scale.
The left thinks money comes from the excretory organs of government (and they’re not all wrong) and that it can be printed infinitely with no consequences (they are wrong there, but they don’t know how or why.) And the right thinks “OMG, debt is mounting, we’re all going to die.”
I’m not sure about the exact mechanism of that death, but Weimar Republic is mentioned everywhere, as is the “the EBT cards will stop working and the hordes of inner city dispossessed will take over the country side” which is bullshit and an actual version of racist panic on the right. (Look, guys, the dependent hordes will trash their neighborhoods. That’s what they do. And someone will come and feed them. Because that’s what Americans do. And they won’t be grateful at all, until they figure out unlike welfare, it won’t last forever and comes with standards. Different standards.) There are other things like “Government will shut down.” (if only) and undefined “there will be war.”
I’m still at a loss for how that group translated to “we’re all gonna die screaming.” Except that they have no experience of instability and financial disaster. I understand that. Most Americans don’t. Stagnaflation is the worst thing Americans in my generation experienced.
And how money works in a fiat currency makes no sense to anyone. (Because it makes no sense, which, yes, means there’s a reckoning coming.) And our debt TRULY is out of control. (Which is another issue.)
Well, pull up a rock and make yourselves comfortable. What if the economy crashes? What if our money is worth nothing? What if? Are things I can answer to. You see, I come from a Mediterranean country (not in geography, but in culture.) Which means I’m used to governments that run their purses like high school kids with an unending spending account and addicted to meth.
I’ve seen crashes. I’ve heard of crashes from grandma. NONE OF THEM KILLED A SIGNIFICANT PORTION OF THE POPULATION.
I won’t say it didn’t kill any. Unemployment, despair and lack of medical care kill people. but I’ll say you don’t die screaming that way. Hell, we have so much accumulated wealth it will get uncomfortable, but that’s about it. About like the economy under Obama. (And please, media, telling us we’ve been in an expansion since 09? Maybe you fool yourselves, but the rest of us cut back and cut back and cut back until 17. And we haven’t recovered fully yet.)
Okay, first of all let me talk about fiat currency.
I don’t understand it. No one does. I’m not a gold bug, but “this is money because the government says so” sits about as well as you’d imagine with me, because “government” and “having power over every trade in this nation” doesn’t sit well with me.
Plus I first came to the US (for a year. I went back) during stagnaflation and I lived through the Obama years. I know what the government running the printing presses overtime does to an economy. It devalues saving. It makes any forward planning unstable. But, oh, yeah, it DOES put money in the pockets of the very rich. Which I’d guess is what matters, because every politician ends up knowing a lot of very rich people (like every SF writer ends up knowing a ton of scientists.)
Also fiat currency was introduced PRECISELY to let the government have power over money. (Yeah, I know, Gold was limiting expansion or some similar nonsense. But no. Like all currency-voodoo attempted to end depressions or recessions, it wasn’t fiat currency that ended the Great Depression. It was FDR getting so interested by WWII that he took his hands off from around the economy’s neck and stopped trying to strangle it.)
Anyway, the problem is that we handed government a blank check, with what they believe is an ever-refilling account. And they’ve been out of control ever since.
Yeah, Trump might not think the debt is a problem. But let’s face it, even if he lies awake nights, staring at the ceiling, (and btw knowing the debt MUST be curbed before money is valueless MIGHT be one of his incentives to have run for president. Who knows?) he couldn’t do anything different. He just couldn’t. What is he going to do? Stop social security? Not only would that give UNENDING footage of starving grandmas for the dem’s campaign, but it would also cause real starvation. I know seniors dependent on it for survival.
What else would you want him to stop? The military budget isn’t that much. And we can’t afford to cut it, as you’ll see later on.
Almost everything else is either photogenic, or the left will tie it to things like social security if he cuts money. Remember the ass-clowns obeying Obama’s orders to make the shutdown painful to tourists in monuments and landmarks? And the problem is while they hold the media, and a portion of (older) people get their news that way, what else can the president do?
He can’t even tell the truth: that a very significant portion of our welfare money goes to illegal immigrants (it’s true. I know health care workers, teachers and social workers of various kinds) without it lending itself to “racist” panics on the left.
So, yeah, national debt is out of control.
And it’s fiat currency, which ultimately means “full faith and credit of the US government.” Which I’d guess is smaller every day.
But here’s the thing the rest of you aren’t thinking about: the rest of the world is in as bad or worse shape. China is all smoke and mirrors. Yes, they’ve made a bid to become the world’s reserve currency. The fact it failed tells you even Europeans aren’t that crazy. As for Europe, ah! They’ve been turning the Southern European countries into touristic paradises, while the northern European countries finance the whole thing. There is no room there for real growth. It’s all selling each other rocks and paying in sand. Even before the Northern European countries brought in a hostile and welfare-dependent population.
So, who else has full faith and credit? more than the US?
No one. It’s all that scene in Independence day where everyone goes “it’s about time the Americans did something.”
They won’t say out loud, of course. In the rest of the world it’s a positional good to look down on America, and hate America. But internally, they’re all holding their breaths, hoping we pull it off.
The fact that there’s no one else to take this burden, is why we’ve been allowed to run on crazy debt this far. Because, where are they going to go?
Sure, we have sold a bunch of LAND to China and given a bunch of things as “security.” But if you think China is going to invade to claim it, you are out of your mind. Remember what I said above about not shorting the military? The US still can outshoot everyone in the world. Probably en masse. No one will touch us. Also, honestly,China has other problems, including most of their economy being smoke and mirrors.
And there’s only two ways out of that debt. Three, if you want to be technical.
1- Expand so much that your tax intake dwarfs the debt.
I think this is what Trump is trying. First of all, because it’s what a company would do and that’s where his experience is. Second because it’s the least painful one. It’s not good, though, because it keeps feeding the beast. And even if we manage this (it would take a miracle, but it’s technically possible) it just means government will expand to consume it.
Is it doable? It is, barely. I think that’s part of the tariff thing, trying to force industry back into the US. Why? Because the only way we survive this is to have the ability to make pretty much everything we need.
Because I think China crashes first.
BUT keep in mind that while this is barely possible, it might NOT be possible in a republic with stupid-ass regulations about minimum ages and maximum work hours, and other such. Automation would have to get REALLY good to get us out of this IN TIME without getting rid of a lot of crap regulations.
AND we need some kind of killer-innovation. Now the US throws those out so regularly you could be forgiven for counting on them, but it’s not guaranteed.
2- inflate the debt out of existence. This is what Carter tried. This is what I’ve lived through SEVERAL times. This is why until recently ALL of my birth family’s investments were in land and houses, though the return sucks. My guess is if we elect a democrat that’s where we’re going next. It won’t be pretty. And yep, seniors and people in my age group most affected, because we don’t have the time to recover.
Which brings us to “it’s going to be Weimar! We’re all going to die.”
Kids, please. Weimar came about because Germany had lost a war. They weren’t allowed to expand their economy. They couldn’t. For one, they’d never got that — then vital — warm water port. And England had taken all the markets for industrial production. And they had creditors who demanded payment NOW for WWI destruction (which was unfair, yes.)
So, Germany did the only thing it could. It shot its way out of the problem. (Repulsive ideology not necessary, but included.) AFTER trying inflation. Inflation, ultimately immiserates the population. Also, if we start inflating, we’re going to make the rest of the world hell.
Will it work? Probably. But it will work at the cost of throwing us into Obama years plus. And destroying the rest of the world that has been trading with dollars. Which will probably mean WWIII.
In the end we survive. We won’t be the same, but we survive. The problem is evil ideologies often come along for the ride on this one. And that the same people who want to inflate our currency out of value will also demand we feed the world. The backlash on that will be… spectacular, and probably the worst of the possible outcomes.
Most people still won’t die of it. Private charity will operate. One or two generations will live very tightly but not as tightly as our 19th century ancestors did.
“We’ll be poor” is not the same as “we’ll die.”
And much as I don’t want to spend my elderly years in horrible poverty, hell, I’ve seen people live in it in the village. And some found meaning and beauty in it.
3- We default. We straight up tell the world “Come and take it.”
No, not good. As above, the world is thrown into turmoil. They die in vast numbers. A world war will ensue. Yeah, nuclear weapons, but we’ve learned they’re not as terrible as we were told throughout the cold war.
Yes, the most people die under this scenario. And the world that emerges is very different.
The US has the biggest army. We have the wealthiest population. Most of the people will survive, particularly the young ones.
They’ll just eat live frogs. Metaphorically. But it probably won’t be any worse than the WWI generation, or the WWII generation.
And people who believe in our founding ideals will have to work like hell to make sure we’re still a constitutional republic at the end.
The thing is, that third scenario is ALMOST unimaginable. Almost. Because if it were going to happen, it would already have happened.
So, why hasn’t it happened. Because the other countries can’t AFFORD to collect from us. Because they know how it will end.
In fact, our debtpocalypse is holding a gun to THE WORLD’S head.
Until and unless a stable regime with strong economics (which would mean non-Marxist, which would mean it’s almost impossible, since everyone educated in the last 50 years has absorbed Marxism through their skin) exists that can take the weight of the world’s fiat? No one is going to try to collect our debt.
Like the first one, this means it’s very bad for us.
Which brings us to: What can’t go on, won’t.
And this won’t go on. And yes, the end crash could come quickly, but my guess is it will be 20 or 30 years, meaning most of the working life of young people now.
Or we could get in a 2008 situation by October next year. And then get the democrats in trying voodoo sh*t.
It doesn’t matter. EVEN IN THE WORST POSSIBLE SITUATION, most of the US will survive. It will suck for older people, but the young… well, will have to be poor.
Most of them are actually not the pampered snow flakes people think they are. They’ll adapt. They’ll grow. And yeah, their kids (poisonous feminism will shed off, with other luxuries) will be stronger. And if some of us keep the faith, it’s possible the Republic will return.
Not guaranteed, no. Nothing is guaranteed.
If I had to guess, if it comes early, before 20 or 30 years, it will be the 2008 crisis writ large. And again, it will hurt the rest of the world worse than it hurts us.
And part of it will just facilitate the transition AWAY from the mass-production era, to the individual-production era.
No matter how we get out of it.
Yeah, the transition period will suck. But we’re Americans. We survive.
It will particularly suck if you’re dependent on government/big corporation services or employment.
So, now is the time. Build under, build over, build around. Get ready to take care of yourself and others when it crashes.
And don’t lose sight of the fact change doesn’t mean “the end of everything.” Poor isn’t the same as dead. And creativity, independence and preparedness pay off.
Just in case money isn’t worth much, acquire as diverse a set of skills as you can, the sort that are always needed.
And be not afraid. In the end we win, they lose.
Yeah, some people will die, screaming. Let’s make it neither a majority nor even a significant portion.