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Guest Post : Two Decades Of Greed - The Unraveling

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Submitted byJim Quinn of The Burning Platform

Two Decades Of Greed - The Unraveling

We are currently in the midst of a Fourth Turning. This twenty year
Crisis began during the 2005 – 2008 timeframe with the collapse of the
housing bubble and subsequent repercussions on the worldwide financial
system. It is progressing as expected, with the financial crisis
deepening and leading to tensions across the world. It will eventually
morph into military conflict, as all prior Fourth Turnings have. The
progression from High to Awakening through the Unraveling took from
1946 until 2006. The most treacherous period of the Saeculm is upon us.
The intensity of a Crisis is very much dependent upon how a country and
its citizens prepare for the Crisis during the final years of the
Unraveling. The last Unraveling period in U.S. history from 1984
through 2005 was symbolized by Boomer greed, materialism, debt and
selfishness. When Michael Lewis graduated from Princeton University in
1985 and joined Salomon Brothers, I’m sure he didn’t realize that he
would end up book-ending the Unraveling period in his two best-selling
books about Wall Street.

In his latest book, The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, Lewis seems bewildered by the fact that his first book Liar’s Poker, written in 1989,  didn’t dissuade college students from pursuing careers on Wall Street. If Lewis had read The Fourth Turning
by Strauss & Howe when it was published in 1997, he would have
understood why the people on Wall Street couldn’t change. The
generations were just acting out their part in a grand never ending
cycle. Lewis explains what he thought would happen:

“I stumbled into a job at Salomon Brothers in 1985 and stumbled
out much richer three years later, and even though I wrote a book about
the experience, the whole thing still strikes me as preposterous—which
is one of the reasons the money was so easy to walk away from. I
figured the situation was unsustainable. Sooner rather than later,
someone was going to identify me, along with a lot of people more or
less like me, as a fraud. Sooner rather than later, there would come a
Great Reckoning when Wall Street would wake up and hundreds if not
thousands of young people like me, who had no business making huge bets
with other people’s money, would be expelled from finance.”

Michael Lewis was a 24 year old Generation X Ivy League graduate who
ended up on Wall Street at the outset of the Unraveling. He was
flabbergasted by how clueless youngsters could pretend to know what
they were doing while taking home phenomenal amounts of money. He was
sure it would end in short order. But he was wrong. It built to a
decadent crescendo two decades later. It took longer than he expected,
but the rebellion is beginning now:  

“I thought I was writing a period piece about the 1980s in
America. Not for a moment did I suspect that the financial 1980s would
last two full decades longer or that the difference in degree between
Wall Street and ordinary life would swell into a difference in kind. In
the two decades since then, I had been waiting for the end of Wall
Street. The outrageous bonuses, the slender returns to shareholders,
the never-ending scandals, the bursting of the internet bubble, the
crisis following the collapse of Long-Term Capital Management: Over and
over again, the big Wall Street investment banks would be, in some
narrow way, discredited. Yet they just kept on growing, along with the
sums of money that they doled out to 26-year-olds to perform tasks of
no obvious social utility. The rebellion by American youth against the
money culture never happened. Why bother to overturn your parents’
world when you can buy it, slice it up into tranches, and sell off the
pieces? At some point, I gave up waiting for the end. There was no
scandal or reversal, I assumed, that could sink the system.”

The period from 1984 until 2005 was classified by Strauss & Howe
as the Third Turning Culture Wars. They describe this period in the
following terms:

“The Unraveling opened with triumphant “Morning in America”
individualism, and slowly drifted toward pessimism.  Personal
confidence remained high, and few national problems demanded immediate
action.  But the public reflected darkly on growing violence and
incivility, widening inequality, pervasive distrust of institutions and
leaders, and a debased popular culture.  National consensus split into
competing “values” camps.”

Deregulation Decade

“The crew of the space shuttle Challenger honored us by the
manner in which they lived their lives. We will never forget them, nor
the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their
journey and waved goodbye and slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch
the face of God.” –
Ronald Reagan


The Unraveling began during the 2nd Reagan term with the
“Morning in America” feel good landslide re-election campaign. The Dow
Jones Average on January 1,1984 was 1,259. The National Debt was $1.6
trillion. The oldest Baby Boomer turned forty-one in 1984, with the
youngest just twenty-four years old. This generation of 76 million
over-indulged spoiled social activists is the proverbial pig in a
python. Whatever path this generation chooses to take transforms the
country for better or worse. The term Yuppie was coined in the early
1980’s as the egocentric Boomers poured onto Wall Street beginning
their upwardly mobile perfectionist careers. The country was exhausted
from the 1960s turmoil and the depressing 1970s. Failed presidencies,
oil shortages, raging inflation, and American hostages had left an
America that was looking for a renaissance. Ronald Reagan’s first term
required extreme measures by Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker to
break the back of inflation. By raising interest rates to 18%, Volcker
set the stage for a 20 year bull market in stocks and bonds. Reagan
survived an assassination attempt, the U.S. military conducted a
successful operation in Grenada, Reagan fired 11,000 air traffic
controllers, and an unprecedented peace time military buildup was
initiated. This created an atmosphere for economic revival, led by the

A new laissez faire era heralded by Ronald Reagan was based on his
belief that government was the problem, not the solution. His goal was
to cut the size of government while slashing taxes and unleashing the
animal spirits of the free market. Reagan was a rhetorical genius. It
is a shame that his soaring rhetoric did not match what actually
ensued. The basis of Reaganomics was:

  1. Reduce government spending,
  2. Reduce income and capital gains marginal tax rates,
  3. Reduce government regulation of the economy,
  4. Control the money supply to reduce inflation.

Reagan undoubtedly succeeded in radically cutting the top rates on
individuals from 70% to 28%. Of course, the only people affected by the
top marginal rates are the rich. These tax cuts did not benefit the
middle and lower classes. The benefits were supposed to trickle down to
these people.

Corporate tax rates were decreased from 50% to 38% by the end of
Reagan’s term. Corporate America was delighted. The tax savings
permitted profits to soar. This additional capital could have been used
to invest in the business. The Harvard trained CEOs decided it was more
beneficial to pay them outrageously high compensation and to buy back
their own stock in order to inflate EPS.

The tone for the next twenty years had been set. Reagan’s policies
did reignite the animal spirits of America. Reagan’s defense buildup
increased annual spending from $303 billion in 1980 to $426 billion in
1988, a 40% surge. This most certainly contributed to the collapse of
the Soviet Union. They were a hollowed out oak tree and Reagan’s
defense buildup was the gust of wind that blew the rotting tree over.
His achievements were great, but his failure to reduce government
spending will haunt the country for decades and planted the seeds of
economic disaster. The Federal Government spent $590 billion in 1980.
In 1988, Federal Spending had grown to $1.064 trillion. Rhetoric did
not translate into action. Politicians have always been good at
following through on promises that buy them votes. The tough stuff can
be pushed off to the next guy.  

 File:CBO Revenues Outlays Percentage GDP.svg

The reality is that government debt as a % of GDP was on a downward
trajectory for 30 years, bottoming in the late 1970s at 45%. Reagan cut
taxes and doubled spending during his eight year reign. This initiated
the launch procedure for a US government debt rocket. It sent a message
to the world and to its citizens that debt was not a bad thing.
Interest rates were in the midst of a quarter century long decline, so
the debt became more serviceable as time progressed. There was no
reason to save and invest when government and consumers could borrow
and buy what they wanted today. This was the attitude that began to
emanate during the early 1980s. Total government debt as a % of GDP
skyrocketed from 45% to 80% during Reagan’s eight year presidency. The
National Debt grew from $908 billion to $2.6 trillion, a 286% increase.
The massive increase in debt without apparent negative consequences
gave politicians and Baby Boomers the green light to live it up today
and not worry about tomorrow.

The 1980’s proved to be a confidence building decade after two
decades of tumult. With the most egocentric self centered generation in
the history of the world entering the prime of their careers, a double
shot of renewed confidence and debt accumulation began a cycle of greed
and hubris like none ever seen on earth.

Fragmenting Culture

“I am not a destroyer of companies. I am a liberator of them!
The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed, for lack of a better
word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts
through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in
all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge has
marked the upward surge of mankind. And greed, you mark my words, will
not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation
called the USA” – Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko



The self-absorbed yuppies’ goal of wealth, power, and material possessions was captured accurately in the 1987 movie Wall Street and Thomas Wolfe’s fantastic 1987 novel Bonfire of the Vanities. It
seems that 1987 marked the high point of the Unraveling period. The Dow
Jones Industrial Average had grown from 824 at the beginning of the
decade to 2,700 by September 1987. The Boomer heroes of unbridled greed
were Michael Milken, Ivan Boesky, Carl Icahn and Boone Pickens.
Leveraged buyouts, where corporate raiders used huge amounts of debt to
takeover companies, taking them private, firing thousands of workers,
spinning it off as an IPO, and reaping enormous profits, were hailed as
the savior of free markets by Wall Street. These deals generated
gigantic fees for the firms advising on the LBOs. This Boomer led
societal mood of wealth accumulation at the cost of gutting
corporations and screwing the working class became ingrained in the
fabric of America.

More Wall Street “inventions” like program trading, portfolio
insurance, and arbitrage combined with hype and hubris to cause a 508
point crash on October 19, 1987. This 22.6% one day drop was the
largest percentage decline in history. This once in a lifetime event
scared the average investor out of the market for years. This event
also unleashed a 20 year reign of banking terror, as the Greenspan Put
was born. Alan Greenspan became Federal Reserve Chairman in August
1987. His 1st major act was to pour billions of liquidity into the market after the Crash. This was the 1st of many risk enhancing acts by Greenspan over the next two decades. 

 File:Black Monday Dow Jones.svg

Oliver Stone completed his film Wall Street before
the crash. He captured the battle between Boomer gluttony and the work
ethic of the average American worker. It was essentially a morality
play between the slick oily Gordon Gekko and the old union leader
looking out for the best interests of his fellow workers. They battle
for the soul of Charlie Sheen’s Bud Fox character. The film goes in
depth into the immoral culture of Wall Street. Inside trading on
non-public information is business as usual. Companies aren’t seen as a
productive part of society, but as pawns in a giant game of chess
played by the “Big Swinging Dicks” on Wall Street. The workers are seen
as liabilities that can be shed in order to boost short-term profits.
Maximizing returns as soon as possible was all that mattered to Gekko
and real life sharks on Wall Street. The movie’s message was clear.
Unrestrained free-market capitalism with no principles is destructive
for society. The movie isn’t anti-capitalism. It distinguishes between
the cynical, quick buck culture of the Boomers and the moral hard
working culture which had built America. Both Oliver Stone and Michael
Lewis thought that their works of art would deter young people from
vapid careers on Wall Street. Instead, young MBA students saw these
stories of greed as an exciting beckoning to riches, morality be damned.

Thomas Wolfe’s novel Bonfire of the Vanities  addresses
the lack of control anyone has over their lives regardless of their
wealth, wisdom or success. He captured the yuppie Boomer excesses of
New York City and Wall Street in his brilliant novel.  Beneath Wall
Street’s veneer of achievement, the New York City was a hot-bed of
racial and cultural tension. Homelessness and crime in the city were
soaring. Several high-profile racial incidents polarized the city,
particularly two black men who were murdered in white neighborhoods. 
Bernie Goetz became a folk-hero in the city for shooting a group of
black punks who tried to rob him in the subway. The chasm between the
haves and have-nots had grown immense.  In Wolfe’s New York, venal
self-interest motivates everyone but the suckers, while ethnic and
racial bigotry is extreme.  Men use women for little other than sexual
gratification, and women use men almost entirely for monetary or social

Those in power fail to represent the disinterested abstractions
(justice, civil rights, truth) that they ostensibly represent.  The
manipulation of truth and justice by the news media, show Wolfe’s
cynical view of these flawed apparatuses of human society. Tom Wolfe
ruthlessly exposes the superficiality of 1980s culture. Wolfe directs
his most serious criticism to the very rich, with their extravagant
dinner parties, 6-block hired-car rides which cost $250, and
thousand-dollar flower arrangements. Hypocrisy is rife in this novel,
and most evident in the two leaders depicted on opposing sides,
Reverend Bacon and the Mayor of New York. Neither of these men is truly
concerned with the people of New York, but rather with their own
advancement and profit. Each, in his way, is racist, but decries racism
at every turn. Each purports to be “of the people” but uses his
position of power for monetary gain. Wolfe captured the worst traits of
America during the early years of the Unraveling.

The 1980’s proceeded as expected with strengthening individualism
and weakening institutions. The GI Generation Heroes began to depart
from the scene. This steady, cautious, risk adverse generation that
built American industry and finance were being pushed into retirement
by the Baby Boomer Generation. The old civic order was cast aside and
the cultural revolutionaries stormed the gates. Baby Boomers seized
control of Wall Street, having never experienced a bear market, never
faced adversity, and never having to care about anyone but themselves.
A brooding sense of pessimism began to creep into the mood of the
country. Fiduciary responsibility towards your clients and proper risk
management was considered old school. Maximizing profits, generating
fees, and getting rich was the mantra of the new Wall Street
generation. As the Boomers grew rich and cynical on the street of
dreams, moralistic charlatan frauds like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton
exacted their share of profits for themselves and their constituents.
The working middle class sunk deeper into despair as their wages
continued a two decade long stagnation. Real hourly earnings were the
same in 2005 as they were in 1984, and 10% below the level of 1972. 

The trickle down crowd, mostly Republicans, contended that a rising
tide lifts all boats. In theory that sounds great. In practice, it has
proven to be a lie. During the 1980s and 1990s, all boundaries
regarding compensation were obliterated by the “Me Generation”.
Executive pay packages began to skyrocket as they were viewed as rock
stars and masters of the universe. The ratio of CEO’s pay to the
average worker’s pay leaped from 30 to 1 in 1980 to 250 to 1 by 2005.
If CEOs had performed phenomenally over this time period, a case could
be made for this leap. But, corporate America and certainly Wall Street
had brought the US economy to the brink of disaster by 2005. This
outrageous pay disparity contributed to the deepening anger in the
country simmering below the surface.

Strauss & Howe aptly described the mood:

 “Personal confidence remains high, and few national
problems demand immediate action.  But the public reflects darkly on
growing violence and incivility, widening inequality, pervasive
distrust of institutions and leaders, and a debased popular culture. 
People fear that the national consensus is splitting into competing
“values” camps.”

Cynical Alienation

“Now, I have to go back to work on my State of the Union speech.
And I worked on it until pretty late last night. But I want to say one
thing to the American people. I want you to listen to me. I’m going to
say this again: I did not have sexual relations with that woman,
Miss Lewinsky. I never told anybody to lie, not a single time; never.
These allegations are false. And I need to go back to work for the
American people.” –
President Bill Clinton, January 26, 1998

“The great story here for anybody willing to find it, write about it and explain it is this vast right-wing conspiracy that has been conspiring against my husband since the day he announced for president.” – First Lady Hillary Clinton, January 27, 1998


The appearance of progress on some issues overshadowed the
underlying deterioration of societal institutions and practices. Social
Security was “saved” by Alan Greenspan and his commission. Essentially
he manipulated the CPI calculation downward, screwing future
generations of seniors out of their rightful payouts. Politically
difficult decisions regarding Medicare and Medicaid were deferred to
sometime in the distant future. With oil prices averaging $20 per
barrel through the 1980s and 1990s, a coherent long-term energy
strategy seemed unnecessary to the next election cycle politicians who
control this country. The deregulation of the Savings & Loan
Industry gave them many of the capabilities of banks, without the same
regulations as banks. Imprudent real estate lending, fraud and insider
transactions by S&L executives, protected by high powered
Washington politicians, led to the first financial crisis. The failure
of 747 thrifts and losses of $160 billion to the taxpayer can be
attributed to lax oversight and fraud.  

The Berlin Wall fell as communism collapsed under the weight of
central planning, corruption, and fraud. Academics like Francis
Fukuyama foolishly declared “The End of History”. According to
Fukuyama, Democracy had won over all other forms of government:

 “What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the
Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of post-war history,
but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind’s
ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal
democracy as the final form of human government.”

Only a Harvard academic could spout such claptrap. By 1991, the U.S. was again at war. The 1st
Gulf War was considered a moral war as the U.S. came to the rescue of
Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Using traditional military maneuvers, General
Schwarzkopf obliterated Sadaam Hussein’s Republican Guard. But, there
was no consensus to follow through and eliminate Hussein. Unwittingly,
we planted the seeds for the bleak later stages of the Unraveling by
leaving military bases in Saudi Arabia. There were not many more feel
good national experiences after the 1st Gulf War. A
recession in 1991 (remember George Bush Sr. buying 4 pairs of socks at
JC Penney to exhort Americans to shop America out of recession) caused
by the S&L Crisis allowed an obscure Arkansas Governor to win the
Presidency. The election of Bill Clinton ushered in the culture wars of
the 1990s. The conservative religious right fought scorched earth
battles with the liberal left wing elite who control the media. Pat
Buchanan captured the animosity of this conflict:

“There is a religious war going on in our country for the soul
of America. It is a cultural war, as critical to the kind of nation we
will one day be as was the Cold War itself. Who is in your face here?
Who started this? Who is on the offensive? Who is pushing the envelope?
The answer is obvious. A radical Left aided by a cultural elite that
detests Christianity and finds Christian moral tenets reactionary and
repressive is hell-bent on pushing its amoral values and imposing its
ideology on our nation. The un-wisdom of what the Hollywood and the
Left are about should be transparent to all.”

As ideologues fought wars over morality, religion, and abortion,
unbridled corporate fascism and individual greed ran rampant. The
unholy alliance between mega banks, mega-corporations, the Federal
Reserve and Washington DC led to a widening chasm between the haves and
have-nots. The 1990s were rooted in three poisons: anger, greed, and
delusion. The Presidency of Bill Clinton was marked by a strong
economy, political gridlock, declining moral values and relatively
minor military skirmishes. Society glorified individuals, their wealth,
power and lifestyles. The TV show Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, hosted
by Robin Leach, ran from 1984 until 1995. The show featured the
extravagant lifestyles of wealthy entertainers, athletes and business
moguls. Glorification of the rich and their profligate lifestyles,
spurred the superficial self-centered Boomer generation to idolize and
emulate this lifestyle. There was one big problem with emulating this
lifestyle. The Boomers didn’t have the money to live this lifestyle.
Wall Street stepped in to supply the fuel for the two decades of
decadence. Household debt grew from $2 trillion in 1984 to $14 trillion
in the mid 2000s.

The United States has experienced a three decade long “expenditure
cascade”.  An expenditure cascade occurs when the rapid income growth
of top earners fuels additional spending by the lower earners. The
cascade begins among top earners, which encourages the middle class to
spend more which, in turn, encourages the lower class to spend more.
Ultimately, these expenditure cascades reduce the amount that each
family saves, as there is less money available to save due to extra
spending. Expenditure cascades are triggered by consumption. The
consumption of the wealthy triggers increased spending in the class
directly below them and the chain continues down to the bottom. This is
a dangerous reaction for those at the bottom who have little disposable
income originally and even less after they attempt to keep up with
others spending habits. The personal savings rate was 12% in the early
1980s and declined to negative 1% by 2005. The expenditure cascade
couldn’t have occurred without easy access to debt. The question that
must be asked is, who benefits from debt and who pays?

The delusion of the American populace cannot be underestimated.
Their worshipping at the altar of materialism and adoration of
Hollywood created pop culture was crucial to the societal delusion.
Without the corporate consumerism marketing machine, an unlimited
amount of credit provided by bankers, and ultra-low interest rates
supplied by the Federal Reserve, the delusions of grandeur could not
have been realized. Credit cards didn’t even exist until 1968. Until
the 1990s mortgage lenders followed the 28/36 rule. Your mortgage
payment, including taxes and insurance, couldn’t exceed 28% of your
monthly gross income. All of your debt payments couldn’t exceed 36% of
your monthly gross income. Homebuyers rarely put down less than 10% of
the home’s value. Home equity loans were virtually non-existent. The
subprime loan market for homes and automobiles was miniscule. In the
early 1980s auto loans averaged 45 months and buyers put 12% down on
the purchase. By the mid 2000s auto loans averaged 64 months with only
5% down on the purchase. By 1999, 40% of all cars on the highway were
leased. The proliferation of easy credit allowed average people to live
a life of excessive opulence, occupying 7,000 sq ft  McMansions,
driving BMWs, and wearing Rolex watches. Americans bought so much stuff
on credit they couldn’t fit it all in their oversized abodes. So they
needed to rent outside storage for their stuff. In 1984 there were
6,601 facilities with 290 million square feet of rentable self storage
in the U.S.  In 2009, there were 46,000 self storage facilities with
2.21 billion square feet, a 762% increase.

The delusional middle and lower class Boomers believed they were
equal to the top 1% of ultra-wealthy, because they were living like
them. As Orwell noted, “all animals are created equal but some animals are more equal than others”. Those
that were “more equal” worked on Wall Street. The repeal of the
Glass-Steagall act in 1999 with overwhelming majorities in both Houses
of Congress and cheered on by Wall Street groomed Secretary of the
Treasury Robert Rubin, opened Pandora’s Box. Bank holding companies
started dealing in mortgage-backed securities, credit default swaps,
and structured investment vehicles. A blizzard of products solely
designed to generate fees while ignoring the banks’ fiduciary duty to
their clients was unleashed. Subprime mortgages surged from 5% of all
mortgages to 30% by 2008, as issuing the mortgage became detached from
the risk of the mortgage. The issuer of the loan had no risk, since the
mortgages were immediately bundled and sold off to investors (suckers).
No doc, Alt-A, and Option ARM mortgages proliferated as fraud ran
rampant on Wall Street and throughout the financial services industry.
The Federal Reserve, led by Alan Greenspan, aided and abetted the
delusional debt bubble through its non-existent regulation of the banks
and mortgage brokers, and unnecessarily keeping interest rates
extraordinarily low from 2001 through 2005.

As the average American middle class worker fell further behind,
without realizing it, the financial sector grew ever more powerful and
malevolent. A country that had once produced its way to world
domination degenerated into a paper kingdom run by Harvard MBAs,
lawyers, tax accountants and central bankers. They “create” pieces of
paper with terms that no one understands, packages worthless pieces of
debt obligations and sell it to other clueless financial experts,
borrow 40 times their capital and gambles it based on models that told
them they couldn’t lose, and rewards themselves with obscene pay
packages and bonuses.  







Manufacturing 22.7% 20.0% 16.3% 14.5% 11.5%
Construction 4.8% 4.7% 4.3% 4.4% 4.1%
Retail & Wholesale Trade 14.5% 14.0% 12.9% 12.7% 11.9%
Finance, Insurance, Real Estate 14.6% 15.9% 18.0% 19.7% 20.0%
Professional Services 5.4% 6.7% 9.8% 11.6% 12.7%
Educational Services 0.7% 0.6% 0.7% 0.8% 1.0%
Health Services 3.2% 4.4% 6.0% 6.1% 7.1%
Government 15.2% 13.8% 13.9% 12.3% 12.9%
Other 18.9% 19.9% 18.1% 17.9% 18.8%
TOTAL 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%
Source: BEA  

The “creativity” of Wall Street was complimented by corporate
America instituting “free trade” and “globalization” policies (NAFTA)
supported by politicians in Washington DC. The terms free trade and
globalization were code for corporate CEOs shipping US manufacturing
jobs to China, India, and Vietnam, while expanding their corporate
earnings per share 3 cents above analyst expectations per quarter. As
reward for gutting American industry, the CEOs demanded their Board of
Director toadies give them stock options for 1 million shares and $10
million raises. Does it require a Harvard degree and ingenious
brilliance to fire 100,000 American workers making $20 per hour and
build a plant in China paying peasants $1 per hour and depending on
cheap oil to inexpensively ship the goods back to America? Only one
problem, people without jobs have trouble buying stuff. Without middle
class jobs, corporate CEOs turned to their Harvard buddies on Wall
Street to create $1.2 quadrillion of financial derivatives to convince
the middle class they really had wealth to spend on cheap Chinese
goods. This corporate/banking collusion was fully supported by their
paid for representatives in Washington DC. This unholy alliance between
big business and big government enriched the ruling elite, while
impoverishing the middle class.


Once In A Lifetime

“Indeed, recent research within the Federal Reserve suggests
that many homeowners might have saved tens of thousands of dollars had
they held adjustable-rate mortgages rather than fixed-rate mortgages
during the past decade, though this would not have been the case, of
course, had interest rates trended sharply upward.”
– Alan Greenspan, February 2004

“Even though some down payments are borrowed, it would take a
large, and historically most unusual, fall in home prices to wipe out a
significant part of home equity. Many of those who purchased their
residence more than a year ago have equity buffers in their homes
adequate to withstand any price decline other than a very deep one.”
– Alan Greenspan, October 2004

“Improvements in lending practices driven by information
technology have enabled lenders to reach out to households with
previously unrecognized borrowing capacities.”
– Alan Greenspan, October 2004

“The use of a growing array of derivatives and the related
application of more-sophisticated approaches to measuring and managing
risk are key factors underpinning the greater resilience of our largest
financial institutions …. Derivatives have permitted the unbundling of
financial risks.”
– Alan Greenspan, May 2005


You may find yourself living in a shotgun shack
You may find yourself in another part of the world
You may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile
You may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife
You may ask yourself: well… how did I get here?

Letting the days go by/let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by/water flowing underground
Into the blue again/after the money’s gone
Once in a lifetime/water flowing underground

You may ask yourself
How do I work this?
You may ask yourself
Where is that large automobile?
You may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful house!
You may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful wife!

You may ask yourself
What is that beautiful house?
You may ask yourself
Where does that highway lead to?
You may ask yourself
Am I right?… Am I wrong?
You may say to yourself
My God!… what have I done?

                       The Talking Heads – Once in a Lifetime


David Byrne’s lyrics are reflective of how Americans have operated
in a largely unconscious state for the last twenty years, operating on
debt-oriented auto-pilot, and waking up from their materialistic stupor
asking, “How did I get here?” We have taken the acquisition of material
belongings so seriously that it became what we worked for. Material
possessions defined who we are.  When we lose these possessions we no
longer have the identity that we have blindly created by collecting
“things”. My God, what have we done? Charles Mackay in his book Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds , written in 1841, captures the essence of what has happened in the US:

“Money, again, has often been a cause of the delusion of the
multitudes. Sober nations have all at once become desperate gamblers,
and risked almost their existence upon the turn of a piece of paper.”

The nation had an opportunity to come to our senses with the
election of George Bush in 2000. The gravity of the coming Saecular
Winter could have been moderated through prudent actions taken on the
fiscal, political, and defense fronts. The autumnal Unraveling is a
time of foreboding and a brooding pessimism. As a howling wind begins
to blow, leaves turn brown and wither, determined squirrels scurry
around collecting acorns in preparation for the bitter snowy Winter
ahead. The opportunity to judiciously prepare was wasted after the
September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on America. The colossal
overreaction to an attack by a terrorist organization consisting of a
few thousand members, ensured that the coming Winter will be harsh,
deadly, and more bitter than any ever experienced in U.S. history.
Prudence, caution, intelligence, and sound judgment were required.
Recklessness, haste, stupidity, and hubris were employed. The result
was that the Crisis that arrived in 2005-2008 will be more painful and
possibly fatal for the United States. The multiple wars of choice,
immense housing bubble, stunning government deficits and unaddressed
unfunded liabilities have created a nation weakened and unprepared for
the harsh reality ahead. The Empire of Debt has reached epic

The recklessness of our lack of preparation is reflected in the following facts:

  • Total US credit market debt increased from 275% of GDP in 2000 to 365% of GDP in 2009.
  • The National Debt increased from $5.7 trillion in 2000 to $13 trillion today. It is projected to reach $20 billion by 2015.
  • Consumer debt has increased from $1.5 trillion in 2000 to $2.4 trillion today.
  • The U.S. has spent $1 trillion since 2003 on wars of choice in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • Annual defense spending has risen from $359 billion in 2000 to $896 billion in 2010.
  • Unfunded liabilities for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid total $106 trillion.
  • There are 7 million less Americans employed today than there were in 2007.
  • In 2008, Wall Street lost $42.6 billion and required middle class
    taxpayers to bail them out. Total compensation on Wall Street in 2009
    totaled $55 billion, three times the previous high.

Michael Lewis was befuddled that his tale of greed, hubris and
recklessness, written in 1987, did not deter college graduates from
heading to Wall Street. It took two more decades, but the Wall Street
money culture is in the process of being discredited. Americans are
slowly coming to the realization that unbridled greed is not the same
as capitalism. Excessively low interest rates punish savers and senior
citizens, while benefitting borrowers, risk takers and Wall Street.
Savings leads to investment, while borrowing leads to impoverishment.
The actions taken thus far by politicians, government bureaucrats, and
the Federal Reserve are the exact opposite of what was required. The
next leg down in this Greater Depression will thoroughly discredit
those who have promoted a money culture over those virtues that will
benefit society in the long run. The current Crisis will require
personal sacrifice, renewed community spirit, public consensus, and
truth. Failure could prove fatal for our nation. The best of human
nature must win out over greed, ignorance, and love of power. Our
future hangs in the balance.

“It has always seemed strange to me… the things we admire in
men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and
feeling, are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those
traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism
and self-interest, are the traits of success. And while men admire the
quality of the first they love the produce of the second.” –
John Steinbeck


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Mon, 06/14/2010 - 09:46 | 412413 FourWude
FourWude's picture

All things must come to pass my child. Yearn not for that which you will detest.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 10:35 | 412491 WaterWings
WaterWings's picture
Elected bastards don't even understand the basic laws that protect us. Congressman Assaults Student on Washington Sidewalk:

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 10:12 | 412457 Blindweb
Blindweb's picture

No one said anything about an apocalypse.  Your narrow method of thinking translated the article into single digit binary.  0 or 1.  Apocayplse or Utopia.  In reality, many will die, but most will live in ever declining conditions.  A 10% loss in average life expectancy could wipe out 50 years of gains. 


Then again: peak oil->mass povert->malnutrition->plauge, and maybe we'll get the apocalypse you're looking for. 

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 13:03 | 412778 Gully Foyle
Gully Foyle's picture


Really dude? Where the fuck you been? Half the goddamned posters here claim Apocalypse. You know the fucking Gold and Guns crowd.

My "narrow method of thinking" was a tease at that specific group, and by extension everyone else who has read what they say.

Your narrow perspective has caused you to misinterpret.

Do try to fix that.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 10:11 | 412464 Hondo
Hondo's picture

Economic events don't work nicely on your time table....."Survive the worst and prosper afterwards"????  Well, the markets are no better than they were 11 years ago trying prospering on that.  Every generation may or may not take their turn in the barrel.  Wars, depressions, etc.......the generation that is within 10 years of "proposed" retirement is going to hit the wall and when that happens it's going to reverberate all the way down the food chain.

Be patient...your turn in the barrell will come soon enough.



Mon, 06/14/2010 - 10:21 | 412474 mtomato2
mtomato2's picture

You're right. It's "All Goooooood."  Always has been, always will be.


Nothing bad ever happens.  It's great to be human.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 10:58 | 412537 YourAverageDebtSlave
YourAverageDebtSlave's picture

Wow another gloom and doom article to usher in a new week.  Thanks a million ZH.

I've been on the world is ending camp for a while, and have been changing my view.  I'm a bit tired of reading all the ideological circle jerks that seem to take place online.  I wonder how many of these authors are doing anything to come up with or implement solutions. Pessimism breeds more pessimism and encourages so called intellectuals to talk about the poor state of the nation while sitting there with their dick in their hands doing jack shit.  Great Captain Obvious the USA is going down the drain and you've given an excellent historical overview why that's the case.  What the fuck does your rant do to help future generations? 

It takes real intellect and courage to come up with solutions and implement them.  These type of articles are a dime a dozen and have no value to the masses.  It's like my doctor telling me I have cancer, then telling me how my lifestyle has contributed to me contracting cancer and then saying that's all. 

I'll be pleasantly surprised the day I come on Zerohedge and they have an article titled "10 Things We Can Do Today to Change the Path of Our Nation for Our Children's Benefit."

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 11:24 | 412575 falcomadol
falcomadol's picture

I don't know if there are ten things that can be done to that end.

Not in the context of "the United States as we know it must survive."

I've also been in the doom camp for a good decade plus, working in audit and finance that entire time.  I've never been on the "easy money" side of it.  It's hard to be a doomer when there are so many people with little to no capacity to do jack shit who are making so much money.  There are guys fresh out of college who should be working lines at a linen mill manning phones at Fidelity as glorified secretaries (no one ever calls to talk to them, they call to talk to their bosses) making more than I've ever made in my life.

Did I make a wrong turn?  Was my calculation incorrect?  Is my soul and identity worth the financial sacrifices I've made?  As the collapse continues to be postponed these quesitons become more and more poignant.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 16:11 | 413231 cougar_w
cougar_w's picture

As the collapse continues to be postponed these quesitons become more and more poignant.

Why? Because now you wish you had joined those empty suits on the phones creating nothing to serve nobody for no purpose in a universe that regularly eats the unnecessary?

The collapse (whatever that means) has nothing to do with it. There is a right side and a wrong side to this that has nothing to do with acquiring the most toys before the wheels fall off the toy wagon.

We're trying to save a species here. We're not doing a very good job of it. That worries me, just a bit. If you know what I mean.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 16:26 | 413266 DaveyJones
DaveyJones's picture

dig your first sentence

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 11:55 | 412644 skyun
skyun's picture

I couldn't agree more.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 12:20 | 412693 Thoreau
Thoreau's picture

Agreed. It's all too easy to become overwhelmed with the trials of the world; thus paralyzing the motivation to make changes within our own spheres of influence.

Yet most folks enjoy a good drama or horror flic. Human nature.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 13:03 | 412774 Inspector Asset
Inspector Asset's picture

Point well taken.

When are we going to talk solutions instead of just pissing on the fire.,,

I will come up with the essay, Things We Can Do Today to Change the Path of Our Nation for Our Children's Benefit.


Give me until Friday, since I have alot on my plate this week.


In the mean time get a good laugh about Goldman at

something about an Investment Yacht

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 16:26 | 413258 cougar_w
cougar_w's picture

I will go out on a limb here and predict that none of your recommendations will involve living with 95% less of virtually everything except food and water.

Well actually you could cut the whole thing down to that one item and stop right there.

See, and it didn't take me to Friday.

Not being critical or cynical really (oh well maybe a little) but I detect a lot of hand-waving whenever the subject of "what to do" comes up, and I suspect that most of that is because nobody wants to change anything. Certainly nobody wants to go back to a time before all this inhumane nonsense was launched.

Meaning, 300 years ago.

95% less, courtesy of Dame Physics. She's waiting for you out there, biding her time, she's just gonna love the look on your face when you turn some corner and she head-slaps you into the dirt and says "the dust under you is your 5% and good luck."

Thermodynamics is a bitch, isn't she?

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 22:22 | 413946 StychoKiller
StychoKiller's picture

Someone will come along and propose to be our "Savior" (i.e., a totalitarian dictator)

and cut the Gordian Knot, when what is really needed is someone with Intelligence and patience to unravel the knot WITHOUT using cutting implements!

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 13:48 | 412895 greyghost
greyghost's picture

well said youraveragedebtslave, oohhh for one thin dime for every one of these rants, with nary a solution amongst them...united states notes....


Mon, 06/14/2010 - 14:44 | 413025 Al Gorerhythm
Al Gorerhythm's picture


Mon, 06/14/2010 - 13:58 | 412919 docmgmt
docmgmt's picture

I don't know if it'll get posted over here, but one person writing about what can be done to fix some of the fundamental structural problems in society is Charles Hugh Smith, on his blog at

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 14:22 | 412977 Slash
Slash's picture

myopic view is myopic. The fix is the collapse. The whiping clean of bad debts, creditors who made stupid loans going bust, over extended and over leveraged companies going bust, with only the strongest surviving. Seizure of credit markets was the 1st step in the market trying to correct itself.


There is no painless "fix" to our problems as detailed in the article. Just as with cancer, there is no magic painless pill that makes it go away. You have to take the pain of chemo and possibly worse.


Most people who write articles like this assume the reader has basic economic knowledge to know the fact that the collapse is the fix.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 14:24 | 412983 jomama
jomama's picture

i'd love to hear about the steps we can take to remove the oligarchy, the corrupt politicians and the bankers that pull their strings.  if you've got any ideas, i'm all ears.

JFK was the last president 'of the people' who tried to right these wrongs. and they blew his head off. 

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 17:16 | 413372 YourAverageDebtSlave
YourAverageDebtSlave's picture

Introduce complimentary currencies within your local community that promote local sustainability.  Timebanking, Hubspace's Ven, the Cyclos are just a few alternative currencies that exist in small communities across the globe.  Without the dollar as a currency their power starts to decrease quickly.  The implementation of an alternative currency depends on local community solidarity, so it is quite a task.  But the alternative is to bend over and continued getting gangbanged up the ass by D.C. and Wall Street.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 15:21 | 413102 SteveNYC
SteveNYC's picture

I'll be pleasantly surprised the day I come on Zerohedge and they have an article titled "10 Things We Can Do Today to Change the Path of Our Nation for Our Children's Benefit."


#1 (courtesy of ZH and its contributors) - Awareness

#2 (courtesy of SteveNYC) - Personal responsibility


Now, let's see if you can build on it.....

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 16:50 | 413329 JohnG
JohnG's picture

Take your children and leave?

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 18:38 | 413573 SteveNYC
SteveNYC's picture

LOL!! For some, sure.....

Wed, 06/16/2010 - 05:05 | 416670 theprofromdover
theprofromdover's picture

No.1 Small is beautiful.

No.2 Do unto others as you would have done to you.

No.3 Your first personal duty is to safeguard the future of your children.

No.4 No man is an island (merely a peninsula)

No.5 Money can't buy you love.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 16:16 | 413245 thefatasswilly
thefatasswilly's picture

Instead of complaining about it and becoming the very whiny bitch you're bitching and whining about, why don't you begin? Give some solutions, man. You're obviously qualified to do so, seeing as how you complain so effectively.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 17:24 | 413353 YourAverageDebtSlave
YourAverageDebtSlave's picture

Fatass, thank you for the challenge.  Chances are you won't actually read this or put it to use, but nevertheless here' some solutions from another forum I belong to (the whole site is full of solutions):

Community Building:

Food Storage (Execution):

Food Storage (Preparation - lots of great links from many posters in this thread):

Freeze Dried Food:



Square Foot Gardening:



Lowesville Seminar:


Coping With 3E Issues: 

Family and Friends:


Home Gardening:


Emergency Supplies:

Emergency Food:

Off Grid Refrigeration:

Baking/Cooking Without Power:


Becoming a Farmer:

Renewable Energy/Off Grid:

Trading/Investing (Be careful with this one, it's not advice, lots of good discussion from different perspectives.  Bottom line, do your own work to learn and apply):

...and my personal favorite

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 18:00 | 413492 ColonelCooper
ColonelCooper's picture

The problem is, "O' Angry One", that none of your links solve anything.  They are simply ways for people to become more self sufficient and live through collapse.  Most of the Gold -n- Guns crowd disparaged upon in this line of thinking are already doing that anyway.

None of what you're suggesting means Jack Shit if it doesn't incorporate some sense of community and awareness building. 

To simply be able to say, "I have a garden and you don't.  You're fucked and I'm not." is no solution, anymore than if I say, "I have gold and you don't."

Back to the drawing board.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 22:58 | 413986 marc_hanes
marc_hanes's picture

I agree with the rebuttal. But only in part. Really no one has substantive "solutions" to the mess so complaining about the lack thereof such does not advance things. We live in age of emotional venting. Everything we post, our respective IP addresses, etc. are logged. The door can be kicked down at any time. To me, it's more a situation of diminishing risk over a medium term horizon. A friend has a 150 acres in Virginia. I am welcome should that be necessary? Are any of these acres developed? No. I am still young and strong to help develop this property should it be necessary. More to the point, I have no idea what kind of inchoate "community" could arise out of 20-30 people trying to figure shit out on these 150 acres (which would then only be recognized by illegitimate Forces). You seem to want a drawing board where none can exist. Breathe until you don't.

Tue, 06/15/2010 - 06:53 | 414278 ColonelCooper
ColonelCooper's picture

I'm looking for no drawing board.  The writing is already there, and I think you just posted an accurate brief summary.

I raise food, garden, butcher, can, pickle, smoke, hunt, on and on and on.  I haven't solved anything whatsoever.  I just maybe have a slightly better chance of seeing the end of the decade than someone who doesn't.

I was simply responding that his links weren't solutions to any societal problem, other than perhaps for his own narrow ass to slide by another few years.  I just found it somewhat humorous that he was getting so pissed off about nobody offering answers to the ills of society, then posts links about how to survive by yourself.

Tue, 06/15/2010 - 10:50 | 414555 YourAverageDebtSlave
YourAverageDebtSlave's picture

Personal responsibility is about the only answer to the ills of present society. If 75% of the population worried about how their narrow ass could slide by  or doing the things you are doing instead of watching Lost or American Idol our society would be much more self sufficient and I'd be willing to bet the government wouldn't be pulling the shit they are right now.  The masses would be to smart and wouldn't hesitate to take things into their own hands because it would already be a way of living .  Right now people are too dependent on the nanny state.  Lastly Cooper, your response shows you didn't go through all the links or read what was in them.  As a result your response is lacking in credibility.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 17:59 | 413484 nuinut
nuinut's picture


Mon, 06/14/2010 - 12:03 | 412662 Currently Smoki...
Currently Smoking Cannabis's picture

The lesson from 'The Boy Who Cried Wolf' was never intended to be that there are no wolves.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 13:05 | 412781 Gully Foyle
Gully Foyle's picture

 Currently Smoki...

Just lying bastards.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 13:02 | 412770 Oh regional Indian
Oh regional Indian's picture

Wow Gully, pretty knee jerk response from a normally sanguine man.

I for one think this is brilliant, both Strauss and Howwe adn Quinn's threading a clear narrative, verifiable facts, clear cause and effect.

I can see the same thing happening here in India, slightly different scale, but the parallels are staggering.

Same for Japan, another country I've seen/dealt with closely.

In the vortex of super cycles and especially in the context of the super colliding super cycles we are in the midst of today, it is not the END that is imminent, it is an end.

The end of an era. The end of an age. The end of an experiment in a way of life that was clearly not sustainable, not for the US, not for the world.

We on the other hand might end, but I don't think the life we are currently living are really worth protecting.

The next turn will look nothing like this one. Heck, even astrologically speaking we are entering a new age.

We can just be ready to transition bravely with eyes and minds fully open, detached from possession of all but our equanimity.


Mon, 06/14/2010 - 22:29 | 413953 StychoKiller
StychoKiller's picture

Kali is NOT going to go away without a fight, and blood -- lots and lots of blood!

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 13:03 | 412776 DavidPierre
DavidPierre's picture

 Jim Quinn has been circle-jerking this  moronic 'Fourth Turning' theme with his syphlitic homeys on his blog...

for the past year and a half.

Oh! ... he's good with the charts and graphs and all that other common and easily available official BS ... likes to pretend he isn't a McMansion dealing, bureaucrat Neo-Con Psychopath...but

Ask him to explore the scientific facts about 9/11 ...

He completely toes the government line. He swallows all of the 'official lies' and deletes and censors every thing unless you agree with him.

His former Webmaster booted him off and shut down his previous blog a few months ago for his overt Racism and Foul Mouthed abuse of any one who might challenge his narrow, Nazi/Fascistic views.

+10 Gully...

just more blah blah...blah... from a clueless jerk.




Mon, 06/14/2010 - 13:20 | 412819 DavidPierre
DavidPierre's picture

A typical post that Quinn lets stand...

I strongly suspect that 'NeoCon' is actually Quinn...

"neocon says:

Goldopussy—-Why even bother to contaminate this blog with your socialist ranting? Europeans are all little pussy cowards, including you. Especially you. I used to read your delusional comments on TBP #1, and they were all the same. That’s what comes from wimpy European trash like you. You want so desperately to be American but nature played a cruel trick on you, didn’t it ? Instead of being born of good stock from the finest nation, you were born with genetically inferior bloodlines on the miserable shitty continent of Europe. The source of your terminal misery is that you know, as do all Europeans, that you are worthless half-humans. Worthless fucking halfwit, half-humans. By contrast, I was born of impeccable breeding, of the finest, superior bloodstock, in the greatest nation on earth. And you understandably resent that, being the inferior chickenshit pussy that you must be, since all Europeans are. Tough shit, Goldopussy."

This is mild compared to some of the more porngraphic/obscene material he encourages on his blog.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 14:20 | 412971 Roger O. Thornhill
Roger O. Thornhill's picture

I think the apocalyptic scenerios are a bit much - outside of nuclear war or an asteroid hitting us.

Markets tend to go on, supply chains are reconfigured. I always look at Somalia as an example - a complete disaster, yet the market stalls are all there - buying and selling goes on.

What I see is that we are weighed down by some very (exceptionally) heavy debt and this will eat into our standard of living to the point where we will become something of a beaten down economy. People will have less and less and we will begin to resemble the third world. Very, very rich, and very very poor. Politically this is wonderful for TPTB because it is easy to manipulate a third world population. Just keep giving some form of bread and circuses to keep the plebes fooled and happy, look at the Peronistas of Argentina as the example. 

Anyway, we won't get to bullets outside of a civil war or nuclear war. That is fantasy thinking.

And just quickly I will expand on this. Credit freezes - immediately the govt will step in and backstop the whole thing with unlimited cash - no one is going to throw up their hand and say we can't fix it. Think any scenario you want, they will backstop with money, with food, with gold or silver - they aren't going to give in - that is where fantasy ideas fall apart. They will back this up with the army, air force, and the national guard. They will distribute food by airlift, by commandeered trucks and trains. Again, if you look for a road warrior scenario (outside of a full on war of some kind) you will be wrong.

We would probably be better off if we had some form of a full stop and settled the whole mess at once - I only hope for this, as this will unsaddle us from the debt nightmare quickly, before the entire population is dependent on government largesse. Otherwise our slow descent will get us the petty tyrants (we deserve) running the show. All under the banner of fairness, reform, equality, etc. Tyrants love enforcing fairness - tyrants always derive their power from "righting" some perceived wrong. Unless we discover some amazing "new thing" (hint: it's not an iPad) or we find a way to cancel these debts quickly we will just have a much more reigned in lifestyle - probably with riots and breadlines.

And we will just slowly sink - until our new savior (dictator) arises.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 14:49 | 413042 WaterWings
WaterWings's picture

I always look at Somalia as an example - a complete disaster, yet the market stalls are all there - buying and selling goes on.

Yes, you are absolutely right about your example 17th World country where people grow their own food and take their own goats out to pasture. The sun still shines. The gangs still rape and pillage. I wonder how that would work in America?

Anyway, we won't get to bullets outside of a civil war or nuclear war. That is fantasy thinking.

Right again! We will never see organized masses beyond state level ever again because of Predator drones and observation blimps that can track 10,000+ movements at the same time. Ha! Civil war is fantasy. There is no country to take back. By the time people start to organize "We want our country back or else!" they will find their supermarkets empty and realize that human flesh isn't as bad as the movies make it out to be. And nukes. Seriously, what world leader is crazy enough to actually attempt to use one. That'll never, ever, EVAR happen.

And just quickly I will expand on this. Credit freezes - immediately the govt will step in and backstop the whole thing with unlimited cash - no one is going to throw up their hand and say we can't fix it. Think any scenario you want, they will backstop with money, with food, with gold or silver - they aren't going to give in - that is where fantasy ideas fall apart. They will back this up with the army, air force, and the national guard. They will distribute food by airlift, by commandeered trucks and trains. Again, if you look for a road warrior scenario (outside of a full on war of some kind) you will be wrong.

Jeez, this one is a helluva rubik's cube. Anyone thinking that Mad Max can't happen hasn't seen it recently. The first movie. Wifey goes to the beach, thinks she's safe, roving gang decides they want to pester her, she gets run over, Mad Max goes on vengeance rampage, THEN the world collapses into Road Warrior. Mad Max is highly plausible. Oh, but this part was funny though. True, true, but hilarious:

They will back this up with the army, air force, and the national guard.

LOL! Yes, they will shoot guns around and bark orders but they will not save the day. They will want to go home to be with families once hyperinflation that will never occur actually occurs. Or will shooting and barking orders stop hyperinflation? Oh you forgot the Coast Guard. Oh, well, there not really part of the military that protects American interests anymore. They are following BP orders. That's okay, we didn't need them anyway. What were they going to do? Float out in boats and tell us there is oil in the water out there? We can already see that. Go guard some Bottlenose dolphins in Perdido Bay, Admiral Thad. And don't ever come back you Domestic Enemy.

We would probably be better off if we had some form of a full stop and settled the whole mess at once - I only hope for this, as this will unsaddle us from the debt nightmare quickly, before the entire population is dependent on government largesse.

LOLOLOLOLOL - okay, the jokes on me. Hardy-har-har. I thought you were serious at first.

probably with riots and breadlines.

We already have breadlines: food stamps. If there are ever real breadlines I would not be standing in it because that makes you a periiiiiiime target. Why stand in line when you can rob the old lady walking home? It will be funny to see people standing in line because they won't realize it until it is too late that they should have gotten out of the city and turned into farmers. Yeah, I don't think we'll see many breadlines that last for too long once the JIT inventory supermarkets empty and poor people start burning stuff. And no, the poor people won't use nukes because they don't have nukes. Maybe .38 Specials or even AK-47s that were pulled out of someones Cold. Dead. Hand. or maybe a drug deal gone bad "I got a glock pointed at you sideways which means I'm really serious!"

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 15:03 | 413072 superman07
superman07's picture

Historically armies disband and protect communities / family when threatened internally, or command and control disintergrates. values present before they joined will still be prevelent. Those that wish to do harm, will.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 15:30 | 413124 Zina
Zina's picture

Not if californian soldiers are put to kill ohian citizens, and ohian soldiers put to kill californian citizens.

And electronically controled drones don't disband.



Mon, 06/14/2010 - 15:35 | 413130 AnAnonymous
AnAnonymous's picture

Where in history did you go to fetch that conclusion on armies protecting families and stuff?

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 15:19 | 413096 Mr Lennon Hendrix
Mr Lennon Hendrix's picture

"FIAT bitches!  I always look at Somalia as an example."  Move there, I dare you.

And what happens when the dollar is religated to the currentsea of a third world?  They can backstop it with currentsea all they want, throw paper in a fire, see what happens; you get a minute of warmth, good for you.  Backstop with food, what, corn?  Food is in a limited supply.  And PMs?  From where Fort Knox?  Surely you meant Tungsten, we will mitigate the problem with Tungsten....

And with oil production peaking in '05, 5 years ago, how will we cheaply service the military vehicles?  Tell me Unicorns piss light sweet crude, I'll believe you.

You see, you are giving the tyrants way too much credit.  They can not just pull this scenario out of a hat.  Their time is up.  It is your time to shine.  And I do not mean like that Tina McBride song.  On that note, why are people still listening to pop music?  I thought by now America would have woken up and stopped drinking the kool aide.  It has mercury, didn't you know?!

Check it out, she looks like a singing zombie.....

Sunny D Commercial-Martina McBride-Shine on:

Study Finds High-Fructose Corn Syrup Contains Mercury:

You know man, we are already in th Road Warrior scenario, but it is the beginning, and that is why you can not figure it out.  It is still outside your paradigm.  Your dictator is here, and has been for about a hundred years.  Say hello to the Fed.  You see, to make my point, what they have to mitigate the problem, is FIAT.  This FIAT is pretend.  You are pretending to fall into obscurity, and you will be saved by your pretending.  This is the same as a created reality that lives in hell but does not know.  Have some Sunny D, and shine on!

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 15:47 | 413162 AnAnonymous
AnAnonymous's picture

And with oil production peaking in '05, 5 years ago, how will we cheaply service the military vehicles?  Tell me Unicorns piss light sweet crude, I'll believe you.


Okay, a big digression to answer this one.

Where will people get fish if the oil spill is what they claim to be? From the mouths of frugal people, that is where they are going to take it.

People with a high rate of consumption will beat people with a slow rate of consumption.

The consequences of decrease of oil extraction capability will impact the US army with a delay. And in all cases, it will affect selectively people. It wont be a homogenous decline in terms of consumption. Some entities will keep consuming a lot while others are going to be pushed out of the consumption circle.

The US army is a huge consumer of oil with a high rate of consumption.

Where will the gas come from? From the tanks of people who consume much less. So mostly from cars practice  from the western world (some other people's oil consumption is so low the US army cannot predate on it, too marginal gains)

In a context of decline of oil extraction, the US army will keep a superior consumption level to anyone (does not mean that the US army will not lose projection capabilities in the future but it means that when the US will no longer be able to project over a certain distance, no other army in the world will be able) and will definitively tap in the oil reserve composed with US, Japanese and European car drivers.

The US army will eliminate them as competitors in the race to oil consumption and will keep a relatively high level of consumption.


Mon, 06/14/2010 - 17:59 | 413486 Mr Lennon Hendrix
Mr Lennon Hendrix's picture

With what?  The DOLLAR?!  They will use the dollar?!?!?!  My point is the dollar, and all FIAT, will not serve this memorandum.  The dollar and all FIAT are illusions of mercury into gold.  The DOLLAR will not be traded for oil, so what will the US trade for oil?  Do not say force, I believe humanity has exhausted its capability for war regimes.  If you can not service the ideology it goes away.  Bye bye dollar, bye bye regime.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 18:27 | 413554 Roger O. Thornhill
Roger O. Thornhill's picture

I'm trying to be pragmatic - and don't think that I don't have gold & bullets just in case. We should all realize that none of us will predict this thing with 100% accuracy. That this could descend into hell is certainly possible but I'm thinking that there is not a lock that it goes that way at full tilt. There are many ways this situation can devolve. I hedge accordingly based on what odds I think each scenario has and I have things in place for the scenarios I believe are possible.

I just think it is dangerous to get locked into one scenario and have all your eggs in one basket. Be prepped for a few scenarios - this may play out in weirder ways than we think.

But as I said -  I know that structurally we have a serious problem - that problem will have to be faced, the extend and pretend will be harder to pull off. I just think the road warrior scenario will be take so many things going wrong at once as to be less likely - but I am prepped for that as well. My "gas island" will be quite sophisticated if it comes to that.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 14:51 | 413049 scipio_africanus
scipio_africanus's picture

Gully Foyle, thanks for the comment. Please invest in equities for us and don't purchase any tennable farm land, gold, ammunition, commodities or anything that us doom and gloomers are "wasting" our money on. You should fully place your faith in the powers that be (Obama, Democrats, RINOs, Ben Bernanke, Joe Biden, FedRev) and not in mathematics. We do however appreciate you enlightening all of us apocolyptic fools /sarcasm

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 14:53 | 413051 Mr Lennon Hendrix
Mon, 06/14/2010 - 15:01 | 413064 walküre
walküre's picture

You've got about a year, maybe 2 left before things start to unravel badly. The Mayan thing has nothing to do with it and it's not a self fullfilling prophecy either.

The debt calendars of the world are what they are. Debt needs to be rolled over, refied or forgiven or defaulted. The pies can only be sliced so many ways.

There's going to be a reset of some sort.

Anyway, not to bore anyone. Just use the time that's left to prepare.


Mon, 06/14/2010 - 09:38 | 412402 Cognitive Dissonance
Cognitive Dissonance's picture

"Michael Lewis was befuddled that his tale of greed, hubris and recklessness, written in 1987, did not deter college graduates from heading to Wall Street."

In fact, just the opposite happened, with Michael's book considered the how-to bible for aspiring thieves and robber barons in training. I can't wait to see how this ends if we don't begin to push back. It starts within folks, not on Wall Street. As crazy as that sounds, if we work on ourselves, everything else will flow from that work. The insanity outside is a reflection of the insanity within.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 10:47 | 412520 Sqworl
Sqworl's picture

CD: always spot thinks it that no matter how deep we look inside ourselves, the the problem is with our elected law makers whose only interest is that of re-election and therefore base their (lobby) votes in the short term and not the longer term which would benefit us sheeple!!!  ..:-)

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 11:13 | 412542 Cognitive Dissonance
Cognitive Dissonance's picture


We, us, you and I and they and them and those are seriously lacking in personal courage. I'm pointing my finger at myself here, I'm including myself in this, there is not me telling everyone else "they" are the problem. I am the problem. You are the problem. We are the problem.

We always have crowd courage, the willingness to gather as a group and yell and shout and complain because we are together. But the solution to this problem requires that we exhibit individual courage, one on one, to go against the flow, to move against the crowd, to change the direct of the herd. No one is going to "lead" us except us. There is no white knight in shining armour. We must act in the best interest of us.

When we find this courage things will change. To say that "they" are too strong is to say that we don't have the courage to be as strong. We have the power, we have the numbers, we lack the will and courage. To say otherwise is to comfort ourselves in our ineffectiveness and powerless. I have been hammering home for 4 chapters of my series example after example of our insanity and also the solution. But it's too difficult to look there, too painful to wear the truth. So we point at the impossible task outside when the problem is within.

If we were to collectively say stop, this would be all over in a week. Period. But we know to do so will mean pain, economically, politically, personally. So we don't really want the change if it means we must suffer. So we will suffer, only instead of over 6 months or one year or two years, we will suffer over 20 years.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 11:14 | 412553 Sqworl
Sqworl's picture

CD: I agree and my problem is that we both have more history than future!  My game is just trying to survive the next twenty with shelter and food!!!  30 years of hard work to build my own American dream is being destroyed.  I cannot afford the burden of debt my country has inflicted upon me...:-(

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 13:02 | 412771 falcomadol
falcomadol's picture

I'm not sure I agree.

Courage comes from anonymity and the ability to deny responsibility for your actions.  We need a covert structure of grass roots terror.  Coordinated campaigns run centrally through distributed media.  Flashmobs, insta-riots coordinated via text messages and push media sites.  People are willing to just show up somewhere when a text hits their phone, even if that place isn't somewhere they might have been if they were acting alone.  Half a dozen people who are in the know show up with 1000 who aren't, and suddenly you've got yourself a well organized mob that could be good for picketing, shouting, or doing something truly revolutionary.

Someone needs to tell people to say stop, otherwise they will accept it indefinitely.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 13:52 | 412904 Cognitive Dissonance
Cognitive Dissonance's picture

"Someone needs to tell people to say stop, otherwise they will accept it indefinitely."

Who is this "someone" you refer to? Last I checked the job remains open and ready to be filled.

And you are someone.

We are all someone. When is someone, meaning us, going to do something to stop this?

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 16:27 | 413274 thefatasswilly
thefatasswilly's picture

It's too late. People don't listen, especially my generation (I'm 22). My generation is so deeply entrenched in the money culture, it's impossible to free their minds from this prison. The smartest guys I know are all on their way to becoming investment bankers, confident in their brilliant futures.

This is how I know America is doomed; we kids suffer from economic and political blindness. And we're supposed to be the future, lol.

brb checking facebook for pictures from vegas, the partying was sick, it's the second time we've been there this month!

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 13:12 | 412803 Oh regional Indian
Oh regional Indian's picture

Spot on CD. Spot on.

Strangely enough, two posts I made on my blog today are both extremely pertinent to the point you make as well the larger undercurrent on this thread.

Mother Culture, Siren Singer


Know Thy "Self"

Too long to post here, but please visit if called

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 16:42 | 413312 KTV Escort
KTV Escort's picture

RE: your comment that we work on ourselves... I don't subscribe to any religion, but I once watched a film about the life of Jesus. There was a scene, a teenage Jesus at home with Mary, and he asked her, "Mother, why does evil exist?" Her reply was quite good, "Evil exists that we may become better because of it."

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 09:47 | 412415 yabs
yabs's picture

its a bitch waiting for the end of the world

All i have read for eighteen months is how the sky is falling get ready but still the market goes up and in ais at least I cannot see any difference what so ever in day to day life

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 09:54 | 412427 papaswamp
papaswamp's picture

Might want to inform the 7 million new recipiants of food stamps (March 2009 to March 2010) that nothing has changed....

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 10:07 | 412458 Crisismode
Crisismode's picture

But they don't really count, do they?


I mean, if you've already got yours, Jack, then, well, the others don't mean jacksh*t, do they?


Mon, 06/14/2010 - 10:20 | 412416 Cui Bono
Cui Bono's picture

GF and CD... so how do we fight it... even those fighting it lose- here is a current example...


and just so your head doesn't explode over this.... sorry if its a repost...CB

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 10:50 | 412525 Cognitive Dissonance
Cognitive Dissonance's picture

"GF and CD... so how do we fight it... even those fighting it lose- here is a current example..."

Cui Bono,

Have you been reading my series? You can't fight what you don't understand. As long as we continue to believe the illusion/system is too strong to resist, we can't resist.

It is us, all of us, who empower the system and people we detest. This isn't going to go away until we become willing to do the hard work. No snapping of the fingers or changing of "leaders" will stop what we don't truly have the guts to face. It's gut check time.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 11:01 | 412541 Kali
Kali's picture

Spot on CD!

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 11:18 | 412558 pan-the-ist
pan-the-ist's picture

Individuals don't make history.  Individuals fill the roles that history creates for them.  If Gordan Gekko had an epiphany, he would be replaced by Lloyd B.  The wheels of the machine whirl about and people queue up to replace the broken cogs.  That is how it is, and that is how it will be.  When history needs another great leader, he/she will be waiting in the queue.  If a position opens for a serial killer, he/she be in line.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 11:29 | 412586 MayIMommaDogFac...
MayIMommaDogFace2theBananaPatch's picture

I stand corrected.  I guess in your case, YOU don't actually POSSESS freewill.  Gosh, that sort of existence must have a very, very high suck-factor.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 11:58 | 412647 pan-the-ist
pan-the-ist's picture

You'd be wrong.  Unlike you I am very aware of what I cannot control and what 'I' can control.

My existence is exactly the same as yours except that I don't suffer the delusion that I am driving the car.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 12:06 | 412663 Cognitive Dissonance
Cognitive Dissonance's picture

Insanity is always painless and usually quite pleasant, often euphoric. People who have returned from deep insanity report a rather pleasant experience, with only the initial descent and the return being reported as unpleasant.

Many report feeling deep certainty and great clarity when looking at the world from deep inside their insanity. I highly recommend insanity to everyone at least once.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 12:20 | 412694 pan-the-ist
pan-the-ist's picture


Nice dig.. (I think)  I can assure you that I function quite well.  I think some people assume that what I am saying is equivalentto 'fuck it' or Nihilism and are afraid they will do stupid things like walk out in traffic etc.  Self preservation still functions normally.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 23:30 | 414032 MsCreant
MsCreant's picture

My impression was that CD was supporting you, not dissing.

Tue, 06/15/2010 - 06:46 | 414273 Escapeclaws
Escapeclaws's picture

I kinda think pantheist is right on this. If you look back at history there is not a lot of hope for little people like most of us against these large tsunamis of history. Yes, if we are able to read the tea leaves, we can save ourselves, though that is open to question when we think about our connections to others, such as our families and kin, who will be subject to these same ineluctable forces. It's not so easy to save yourself when those you love do not see what is coming.

I personally envisage something like new monastic movement, similar to what arose out of the ashes of Rome. People will move to self-sustaining remote communities. The idea of the lone cowboy with a pile of gold and a gun seems like an American fantasy. The real solution is to live in self-sustaining communities with a few hundred families.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 15:35 | 413133 SteveNYC
SteveNYC's picture

Run a deep enough study on the topic of "consciousness" and you, too, might start to question "free will". At least in the context of our discussion today.

CD has said it in the past, it is very, very, VERY difficult to truly exercise free will. Often when we think we are, we are not.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 16:34 | 413288 DaveyJones
DaveyJones's picture

free will is so expensive. That's why I have others pay for it.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 14:05 | 412939 anarkst
anarkst's picture

"Have you been reading my series? You can't fight what you don't understand. As long as we continue to believe the illusion/system is too strong to resist, we can't resist."

CD, consider the following.  It's not about fighting, instead, it's about seeing what is really taking place and going with it.  The duality you see in your understanding is the illusion.  You can not resist the flow of the events triggered by infinite causes.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 14:27 | 412993 pan-the-ist
pan-the-ist's picture

In my opinion, the 'behavior modifiction' this site brings is 'good programming' for the awakened to 'take action' by preparing themselves for what is to come.  This course of action (volition) is both responsible and aught to lead to the best results - it seems the majority here are not in the business of inciting a revolution, but are instead passively awaiting the time to take action.  I wish them all the best.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 15:10 | 413090 Cognitive Dissonance
Cognitive Dissonance's picture

I'm very curious to understand what bothers you so much about my series. If I'm just tilting at windmills or making a fool of myself, what do you care? If I'm harmless or misguided or insane, what's the harm? If you're correct, people must see that I'm off my rocker, right? It must be obvious. 

After all, you can just sit back and wait for the collapse to come with no interference from me. Clearly I'm not making a difference from your point of view. So why the constant poking at someone you think is so terribly off course? These are reasonable questions and I would honestly like your point of view.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 16:08 | 413216 anarkst
anarkst's picture

Actually, I have really enjoyed your series.  I told you that you should not post the 5th chapter as a challenge to your ego.  I thought you might understand this.  What I am trying to do here is make you go beyond your own intellectual bent and see that all things are relative.  All things are constantly changing.  It is not a matter of understand, as none of us can "understand," instead it is a matter of seeing clearly and acting accordingly.  

Please do not take what I have been saying personally.  I simply believed that you were one of very few who posts here that could go a bit beyond their own take on reality and see that innumerable realities exist.

CD, I am not saying that I know anything, I am saying that I know that I can not know anything, in real terms, and very little relatively.   

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 16:39 | 413306 cougar_w
cougar_w's picture

 I am not saying that I know anything, I am saying that I know that I can not know anything, in real terms, and very little relatively.

Sorry but you would not last 5 minutes in my world, with fuzzy thinking like that.

And my world is coming soon to a planet near you.

The game. Is definitely. On.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 17:15 | 413370 anarkst
anarkst's picture

"And my world is coming soon to a planet near you."

Thank you for making my point so clearly.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 16:39 | 413307 DaveyJones
DaveyJones's picture

Socrates, is that you? Be sure to pass on the house wine 

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 17:22 | 413387 Cognitive Dissonance
Cognitive Dissonance's picture


I'm honored that you would find the time to set me straight. Thank God someone wants to talk me off this cliff. The very fact that of all the people who contribute to this web site, you would think I'm one of the few who's salvageable is humbling. Where do I send the check?

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 17:54 | 413474 anarkst
anarkst's picture

Obviously, I was in error.  Good luck to you.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 20:17 | 413769 Cui Bono
Cui Bono's picture

Hi CDis,  sorry to respond late to the party... I've read 1,2, and 4.   Not sure I entirely agree about fighting the unknown- both for the lack of perfect knowledge and the inability to do more than pick up info on the fly.  Don't mean to argue for flying blind by any stretch just that we have to make do with what we have most of the time... CB


Mon, 06/14/2010 - 11:22 | 412572 JW n FL
JW n FL's picture

Deepwater Horizon GIS Data Concerns
From: Andrew Stephens and Devon Humphrey
Date: June 9, 2010
Subject: BP control of GIS data

To Whom It May Concern:

Executive Summary

This letter is being submitted to make it known that several key factors of the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and Incident Command Structure (ICS) are not being met in the Unified Command process of the BP Deepwater Horizon Incident. Specifically regarding the treatment of Geographic Information System (GIS) data, current configuration and process limit, or exclude completely, the flow of information about the extent and status of the disaster to government entities, emergency responders, and the public.

GIS is essential to the oil spill response effort and to the recovery of public resources. Almost every map and geographic display representing the Deepwater Horizon Incident is sourced by GIS data. Current GIS management processes indicate that BP is treating GIS data as proprietary information, and these data are currently being stored behind the BP corporate firewall. It is our understanding that public agencies, for example, The US Fish and Wildlife Service and The Louisiana National Guard, are literally submitting the only copy of agency field data, via wireless-enabled mobile GPS devices, directly to a BP GIS server behind the corporate firewall in Houston. Examples of these data are; dead bird and fish locations with photos, boom placement, engineered construction barriers, including dates, and other descriptive information and photos.

State Emergency Operation Center (EOC) staff, Parish EOC staff, and other Emergency Responders and Recovery Specialists do not have access to these GIS datasets, contrary to all NIMS guidance, protocols and principles.

Per NIMS, redundancy of incident information is to be managed jointly, and fully accessible by the Federal On Scene Coordinator (FOSC), the State On Scene Coordinator (SOSC), and the Responsible Party. Technology allows implementation of this design to occur instantaneously and automatically (see attached diagram). The intent of this letter is to inform The President, the National Incident Commander, the FOSC, the SOSC, and the public, of the need to establish and enforce NIMS compliant access policies over all Deepwater Horizon oil spill GIS data.

The Geospatial Intelligence Officer (GIO) and the GIS Unit Leader, who proposed NIMS-compliant GIS architecture to Unified Command, and supported access to these GIS data, have been removed from the Houma ICP by BP IT department managers.


Andrew Stephens and Devon Humphrey, both Geographic Information Systems (GIS) professionals with 40 years combined GIS experience, were the primary architects of the GIS Unit and lab at Incident Command Post (ICP) Houma. Mr. Stephens has 20 years GIS experience, teaching GIS to organizations worldwide, and is an expert in GIS deployment, start-up, training and workflow design. Mr. Humphrey has 20 years background in Oil Spill GIS with Texas General Land Office, where he was on the development team of an award-winning oil spill GIS. He has also been an instructor since 1994 at the National Spill Control School at Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi. The ‘Spill School’ is named in the Oil Pollution Act of 1990.

From late April through May 28 of this year, while employed by BP contractor The Response Group (TRG), we created a GIS-based Common Operating Picture (COP) capability for ICP Houma, using state-of-the-art GIS technology. The task was done in record time, and while under significant obstacle and pressure to deliver mapping products for Incident Command, military staff, and political appointees from Washington DC.

We planned the GIS to be NIMS compliant, featuring architecture that provided instantaneous and automated copies of the data to be replicated amongst the triad of ICS participants; Federal, State, and Responsible Party. Our design represented an open, yet secure system, and featured best practices and tools of the GIS industry. While on duty, we also advocated delivery of GIS data to the local parish EOC’s, and to the vast number of responders and local officials requesting this information (per NIMS), so they could take informed action in their communities. The NIMS Resource Center FAQ on the FEMA website states: “Public Information consists of the processes, procedures, and systems to communicate timely, accurate, and accessible information on the incident’s cause, size, and current situation to the public, responders, and additional stakeholders (both directly and indirectly affected).” We were unable to meet the requests to deliver data locally – in our understanding, this was due to security policy restrictions of the BP IT department.

After three weeks of service with no day off, Mr. Humphrey and Mr. Stephens were removed from post. It is our understanding the order came from senior BP IT staff from Houston. These IT directors never met us, they never came on-site to understand the urgent and complex nature of our work, or how efficiently we were operating. They did not communicate with us directly, nor did they ask questions about response GIS. They had no sense of our strong work ethic, the quality of our product, nor the team spirit and community we fostered at the ICP. We are professional and enthusiastic with this technology, and that was evident to everyone we worked with or demonstrated technology for.

The only copy of the GIS database we created is behind the BP firewall, managed and edited only by BP IT staff and their contractors. It is our understanding that several agencies, most importantly US Fish and Wildlife, The Louisiana National Guard, and two teams of shoreline and rapid assessment personnel, are contributing GPS/GIS data directly from the field to this GIS database without copy or backup to the FOSC, or the SOSC. We are deeply concerned about the location and stewardship of these data, as they represent a significant component of the record of this disaster, and they are not being managed in a NIMS-compliant manner.

The NIMS Resource Center FAQ on the FEMA website states: “Information technology systems must be able to work together and should not interfere with one another when multiple jurisdictions, organizations, and functions come together to respond to an incident. Effective emergency management and incident response activities rely on flexible communications and information systems that provide a common operating picture to emergency management/response personnel and their affiliated organizations. Systems should support the following Communications and Information Management concepts and principles: interoperability; reliability, scalability, and portability; and resiliency and redundancy of any system and its components.”

It is our opinion that BP’s IT department was not, and is not currently, aware of the NIMS standards, guidance, and compliance protocols mandated by former President George W. Bush for incidents such as this BP oil spill.

Details, a timeline, and a layperson’s summary follow:

Initially, ICP Houma GIS staff and products were primarily serving US Coast Guard task forces on the water, over-flight, and oil-plume mapping. The GIS Unit quickly migrated away from the fragmented skills, flash drives and personal laptops, to a networked drive with a file Geodatabase, then to an Enterprise-class Spatial Database Engine and ArcGIS Server, all state of the art GIS tools. ArcGIS Mobile (field-to-server direct capability) figured prominently into the overall design, and by Friday the 28th of May, The Louisiana National Guard was posting data directly from the field via wireless-enabled GPS units to the BP GIS server in Houston. There are now over 150 layers of base map and operational data served to users of ArcGIS desktop, a browser-based Flex viewer (a critical Common Operating Picture (COP) element we planned and deployed). The system, which would have normally taken significant time to plan and implement, was fully operational in less than two weeks. Map requests were dominating the GIS staff time, so standardized map products were created on a schedule, each following a data deliverable to the team – for example, the twice-daily airborne SLAR imagery receivable was processed and delivered as a map product available from the document management team. Creating these processes while processing map requests, orienting a growing user-base to the GIS technology, staffing for the ever-increasing demand of functionality from incident command and the field was no small task.

The range and depth of talent was truly remarkable. As the demand for GIS products and services grew, so did the GIS team, and its ability to deliver. Federal Intelligence (National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA)) assets were put into service against the spill, as were NGA staff. The GIS lab was a common stop by visiting Admirals, Captains, Colonels, and many others. The team had the honor of demonstrating the GIS technology, and the history of the GIS Unit, to various members of Unified Command, including the outgoing Commandant of the Coast Guard, Admiral Thad Allen, Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Robert Papp, Area Command FOSC Rear Admiral Mary Landry, Rear Admiral James Watson (now Area Command FOSC), Tom Strickland (Chief of Staff for Interior Secretary Ken Salazar), David Hayes (Deputy Secretary of Department of Interior), Jane Lute (Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security), representatives from the State of Louisiana Governor’s Office, Army National Guard, Air Force, US Fish&Wildlife and many others. Houma FOSC Captain Stanton stated when he thanked us for our work, “this is what oil spill response is supposed to look like!”

On Friday May 28, 2010, after 21 days of service, and just hours after US Coast Guard Commandant, Admiral Robert Papp, complimented us on our work in the GIS lab, we were removed by our contractor, TRG. It is our understanding that this specific request was made by staff of the Houston-based IT department at BP. We got the original news from one of our teammates after we had gone for the day, and it took several hours to reach the owner of TRG, Roy Barrett. Mr. Barrett said to Mr. Stephens by phone, that several upper-level IT directors, and “higher level directors than I’ve ever dealt with” were on a conference call Friday May 28th. Mr. Barrett relayed that the IT group in Houston felt that we were a “problem”, and they asked him to ask us “not to return to the building”. In our opinion, this action was taken in response to our consistent application of NIMS protocols, and for our insisting that the FOSC and the SOSC be copied on all GIS data via simple architectural and procedural designs, per NIMS (see attachment diagram).

As GIS Unit leaders, we also resisted the apparent takeover by BP’s IT department of the GIS server, originally ordered and approved by the ICP Houma FOSC, USCG Captain Stanton. On Thursday May 27, 2010, Mr. Stephens was made aware, by members of the GIS Unit, that we had no write access (editing capability) to the GIS database. Additionally, we could not post updates to the Flex COP viewer. Up to this day, Mr. Stephens was assured multiple times by local BP IT contractors and staff, that the GIS lab would be the place where development and deployment of the COP viewer would take place. The Common Operational Picture – the COP viewer – is a critical GIS tool (and NIMS component) for Incident Command to understand all aspects of the disaster. The COP is a map view of the GIS database, deployed on an intranet website in the ICP, making GIS tools available for non-GIS trained personnel. In ICP Houma, most requests for new COP viewer functionality would literally walk in through the doors of the GIS lab. The GIS team had become quite able to interpret and understand new user requirements, and implement them quickly, sometime in minutes, so that all IC staff in the building could use the new tools. The net affect, before the viewer control was taken away by BP IT, was that we were able to receive new requirements, write the code, and implement new tools and functionality requests in the moment, making them available immediately via the COP viewer. Mr. Stephens left that late that day, and still the GIS Unit developer could not post updates to the viewer. These delays were impacting Incident Command staff, by affecting the timing and quality of GIS information available for planning.

It is our understanding that at this time, BP controls all editing, contribution, and access to the GIS record for this ecological disaster, a GIS/spatial/map database of what and where features are in the response area, but as importantly when all these movements, features and activities took place. We are also aware of at least one agency, NOAA, who is not submitting data directly to BP, perhaps for NIMS or quality control concerns.


Early GIS efforts (Incident Week 1) Last weeks of April

Scarce GIS work taking place. Incident Command Post Houma (ICP) stood-up on or about April 21. A small number individuals, from TRG, NOAA, Fish and Wildlife and other agencies were making and plotting situation maps with GIS – no managing entity or GIS best practices in place at all. Responders immediately began requesting map products from these “mappers”. First map templates developed.

BP IT department activity:


What it meant for GIS operations and disaster response:

Basic operations and mapping only – file management, planning and backup were not occurring. All GIS computer equipment was provided by individuals with personal laptops running ArcGIS software.

Incident Week 2 – First week of May: Devon Humphrey deployed to ICP Houma, secured GIS lab space.

GIS Accomplishments:

Mr. Humphrey named GIS Unit Lead by Planning Section Chief. A network NAS drive was purchase from Best Buy, and the local BP IT staff mapped two network drives which all GIS staff could connect to, and use for a data repository. Map request demand exploded in the ICP, standardized map products were introduced. A room for GIS lab was secured.

BP IT department activity:

Mounted NAS drive onto vanilla network.

What it meant for GIS operations and disaster response:

Basic operations and mapping only. The arrival of Devon Humphrey ensured some data management and map quality enhancements, though increased map requests pre-empted progress on centralizing data and allowed only small gains in efficiency for map production.

Incident Week 3 – Second week of May: Drew Stephens deployed to ICP Houma, GIS Unit organized and grew, permanent server approved and ordered.

GIS Accomplishments:

Recruited GIS professionals with 10-15 years experience recruited and hired by Drew Stephens. Standard map products and data deliverables were documented, and daily workflows were created. Database was centralized in a standard ESRI File Geodatabase (GDB) format, along with all map products and services. Devon Humphrey promoted to Geographic Intelligence Officer (GIO) at the request of, and reporting directly to, Incident Command. Drew Stephens promoted to GIS Unit Lead, reporting directly to Planning Section Chief. Paperwork for a NIMS-compliant server architecture approved, by Federal On Scene Coordinator, USCG Captain Ed Stanton, and USCG Rear Admiral James Watson. A request for 10 GIS workstations to replace the personal laptops was submitted. Paperwork submitted for workstations and GIS database/server. First NIMS organizational chart of the GIS Unit created.

BP IT department activity:


What it meant for GIS operations and disaster response:

A team was clearly in place, and both vision and leadership were being demonstrated. Every team member knew their roles and responsibilities, and these roles changed or expanded daily. All team members documented their workflows in order to support turnover and stabilization of this highly volatile environment. Our clients, the responders, were getting great product.

Incident Week 4 – Third week of May: Database and temporary server in place. Permanent server arrives, and is placed behind BP firewall.

GIS Accomplishments:

Database centralized and running on Enterprise-class SDE SQL Server architecture on a “loaner” server in the GIS lab – an amazing feat. The National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA) sent a fulltime analyst to the GIS Unit to supervise the image and data products the NGA is providing for derived boom locations and plume status. Louisiana National Guard requirements lead to the automated creation of a daily 1:24K map book for booming strategies.  Flex COP viewer is released to “view” the operational picture of the GIS via intranet in the ICP building only. COP viewer went viral, used all over the ICP by all response staff – an overnight success in the importance and utility of GIS data. New tools added daily.

BP IT department activity:

We were “discovered”, due to our first request for a server. IT wanted to know why we needed it, and we first heard that there was a “no server” policy for the “vanilla” network. IT wanted a password put on the viewer – the Unified Command triad of BP, FOSC, and SOSC vetoed this attempt at control. USCG server arrives, BP pays for it and places it behind the firewall.

What it meant for GIS operations and disaster response:

Our finest week. We were now operational, and getting very good at what we do. Finally had time to actually look beyond the current day, and make plans for deploying ArcGIS Mobile technology, as well as plan for staffing needs into the next weeks and future.

Incident Week 5 – Fourth week of May: Mobile deployed, Over-flight program begins.

GIS Accomplishments:

ArcGIS Mobile deployed successfully with the Louisiana National Guard – allows field personnel to send data from GPS devices directly to the server over mobile network. Field GPS training class was successful. New Mobile ‘clients’ were requesting access to this new technology. Over-flight coordinator named on the GIS Unit Org Chart – collected flight track from multiple aircraft, and geo-referenced pictures and processed into a daily merged layer for the GIS.

BP IT department activity:

We were now being deluged by requests and tasking from BP IT in Houston, and the staff they had flown in from all over the world. They stood-up the new server, and broke the links to the COP viewer on the first day, as we had predicted. BP’s IT department was clearly attempting to build a business unit, while the GIS Unit was responding to a dynamic emergency response.

What it meant for GIS operations and disaster response:

The GIS Unit was becoming distracted and time-occupied with requests and tasking from Houma BP IT staff, who were trying to learn and understand what we were doing. Houston-based BP IT staff were attempting to manage the database remotely, and task our team. The dichotomy of GIS personnel dedicated to emergency response, compared to BP’s IT needs and policies was clear. Friction was increasing, and BP IT staff were consistently breaking chain of command protocols required by NIMS.

Incident Week 6

GIS Accomplishments:

Our replacements have no history with the lab, yet certainly they are GIS professionals. We assume they are getting along fine, though they must be having trouble telling the story of the lab, and explaining how the various processes evolved when Admirals and VIP staff are touring the ICP.

BP IT department activity:

Total control over the GIS lab, the GIS database, the GIS server, and all staff.

What it means for GIS operations and disaster response:

One speculative consequence of BP’s actions is that priorities for data use, dissemination, and analysis may have negative impacts on spill response timing and operations. Because BP IT decisions for the ICP are evidently being made from Houston, there is extremely limited exposure to the needs of commanders and field personnel in Houma. Furthermore, since edits need to be implemented on BP proprietary systems in Houston by BP personnel, the ability to quickly adapt to needs in ICP Houma, which were changing and growing on a daily basis, were very likely impaired. GIS professionals, scientists and developers have an approach to their work that relies upon openness and adaptability in order to succeed. Therefore, it is highly probable that decision support was weakened by BP’s actions to take control over the GIS environment.

What this means to the non-GIS layperson:

1) The current configuration and process allow BP to limit or slow down the flow of information about the extent of the disaster to the government, the public and law enforcement, which I believe is against the spirit and letter of NIMS.

2) The current process allows BP to treat GIS datasets as proprietary information. It is my understanding that public agencies, like The US Fish and Wildlife Service and The Louisiana National Guard, are literally submitting the only copy of agency field data directly to a BP GIS server behind the corporate firewall. Examples of these data are; dead bird and fish locations with photos, boom deployment and engineered construction, dates, along with other descriptive information and photos.

3) The GIS information is essential to the recovery of public resources, and some data belongs to US taxpayers, not BP. BP is paying for the hardware and collection of these GIS datasets, yet it is my understanding that the data belong to the people of the United States. BP must not be allowed to protect these data as if they were a proprietary product.

4) State Emergency Operation Center staff, Parish EOC staff, and other Emergency Responders and Recovery Specialists do not have access to these GIS datasets, contrary to all NIMS guidance, protocols and principles. The effort to slow down the flow of information is at the expense of the containment and cleanup effort of the responders and is in our opinion, suspect behavior by BP.

5) The Federal On Scene Coordinator at ICP Houma, US Coast Guard Captain Ed Stanton, standing with USCG Rear Admiral James Watson, approved the National Incident Management System (NIMS) compliant design, and ordered the first database and server. That server was received by BP, and placed behind the BP firewall.


At the very least, per NIMS, there must be redundancy of GIS information managed jointly, and fully accessible to both the FOSC and the SOSC. Technology allows implementation of this design to occur instantaneously and automatically.

The Incident Commander, the FOSC, the SOSC, and the President need to establish NIMS compliant access policies over this GIS data while they still can. This GIS information is an important component of the record, and it would be a loss to learn that some critical part were mistakenly edited, deleted or otherwise changed.

We urge The President, via Incident Command, to determine a NIMS compliant, secure, data sharing policy, based on GIS industry best practices for all GIS data of the BP oil spill. We believe a high priority should be placed on sharing this information to all responders and researchers, for our welfare, rather than leaving it to one party to control access for its own welfare. We must not allow BP to slow down the collection or organization or distribution of these data – they have demonstrated in other areas during this incident, that they are often slow or inaccurate when providing scientific data, quantitative methods, and projection figures.

We did the best work of our GIS careers at the ICP in Houma, and we are proud of the accomplishments, hard work, and every decision made while on post.


Andrew Stephens, Former GIS Unit Lead ICP Houma, and

Devon Humphrey, Former GIO ICP Houma

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 11:50 | 412633 WaterWings
WaterWings's picture

Dude. JW. WTF.

Summarize like this:

"BP is ordering American citizens around and has crippled efforts to understand the mess. Here's a link if you want to read more:"


Mon, 06/14/2010 - 23:09 | 413999 mtomato2
mtomato2's picture

WW,  I love your levity.   You remind me of Cuthbert in Stephen King's excellent Dark Tower series

Tue, 06/15/2010 - 12:54 | 414910 WaterWings
WaterWings's picture

Cool. Muchas gracias!

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 14:14 | 412963 dumpster
dumpster's picture

ditto cut to the chase .. brief noise

then link  lol

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 13:17 | 412812 Gully Foyle
Gully Foyle's picture

Cui Bono 

"GF and CD... so how do we fight it... even those fighting it lose- here is a current example..."

Here is the crux of the biscuit, the ONLY way to "WIN" is to remove yourself from the game. Do you continue to pplay at a rigged game of poker that you know you will never win?

That is the nonattachment part.

Most people want to keep all their toys. They choose to participate. Very few, like that guy who lives in a cave and scrounges everything, understand seperation is sanity.

I'm not even certain there is a middle ground. The one where you find peace of mind yet get to play with the majority of your toys.

The beast with no name, the yet unspoken truth, is if you want to keep all your toys you become part of the powers in control. You don't need to be whole hog illuminatus, maybe becoming a Freemason is enough. Maybe even local politics supporting the police. Anything to get inside those who receive their marching orders from TPTB.

The nice part is we all get to choose just how much of that shit sandwich we are willing to eat. But ONLY if we are WILLING to CONSCIOUSLY make those choices.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 09:49 | 412420 JR
JR's picture

The last Unraveling period in U.S. history from 1984 through 2005 was symbolized by Boomer greed, materialism, debt and selfishness… Jim Quinn

Al Capone would have loved it, just as Bernanke and Paulson and Rubin and Rockefeller and Tillerson and Gates must be lovin’ it when the the boomers are blamed for heisting the wealth of the Anerican economy.

Blaming boomer greed for the state of the American economy has the wrong slant.  As they say, follow the money.  After the big altercation in the middle of the night who went home with a black eye and who went home with the cash?  I’m not a boomer but I’m smart enough to know who’s the victim and who’s the thief.

If I understand correctly, it was Hank Paulson whose take home pay was $18 billion for manufacturing or producing absolutely nothing, not an electrical engineer or a small businessman or a computer programmer.

Financial greed is destroying the American economy, not baby boomers.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 10:31 | 412480 Mako
Mako's picture

"Financial greed is destroying the American economy"

No, greed started the system, greed sustains the system until humans can no longer support the equation.   All the greed and delusions in world will NOT stop the system from collapsing, the war against Math is futile. 

If there was no "greed" right now, the system would instantly collapse and start to liquidate, of course it's going to happen anyway but without the delusion the system would crease to exist.  How do I know the world is full of suckers, well the system would collapse this second if they didn't believe the lie. 

Really everyone is running from the Truth, eventually the Truth is going to smack everyone right over the head.   You can't destroy the Truth, but the Truth can certainly destroy you.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 13:03 | 412777 merehuman
merehuman's picture

Mako, when? How much longer must i wait for my destruction? Its important to me now as i have decided to forego reupping my license, so i will be out of business. I am choosing this course because i have been reading zerohedge and all that you folks say.

I am beginning to think you are all mistaken and this farce will go on and i will rue the day i chose to close my doors. I need a little help, a little advice here. Unlike most of you i am relatively poor materially and a wrong choice will hurt down the line if this goes on and on.

Anyone have a FIRM idea how much longer this can go on? Mako? 

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 13:39 | 412873 Great Depressio...
Great Depression Trader's picture

Dear Merehuman:

Please dont jump the gun and shut down your business based on what the macro economic picture will look like. My family business is doing fine in this mess and we are located in Southern California. What we did was adjust! After reading the market and the blogs I figured that high volume, lower margins was the key to making a living. We are in the food business.

The point that im making is that you can still run a profitable business in spite of the fact that the US Gov will eventually go bk. Surely in the event of an outright bond market rout/gov failure/currency collapse that things could get hairy for some months, maybe a few years, but life will return to some semblance of normality. Look at Iraq for example, the most dangerous country in the world. There are kebab shops, book stores, linen stores, flower shops, lawyers, accountants that are still making a living. Despite the hell that the country went through, with up to 500,000 dying, life is moving along.


Even in Greece despite the fact that the Gov is insolvent, the local coffee shop in my town is still busy. Sure, some of his competitors shut their doors but he is still open, serving coffee, cocktails, and sandwiches. There will always be some demand in that town for people just to hang out after work.


Last example. I have been to fucking Albania, Bulgaria, Fiji, and Mexico. These are poor nations but still I saw people hanging around, friendly faces, and business humming along. Granted Mexico is going through its own shit storm right now and people are dying but the majority of the population is living their lives day by day.


Dont be so extreme in your thoughts and actions. Things are going to get fucking ugly but how ugly if you really think about it? I have lost loved ones in the past, my 14 yr old 1st cousin was killed in a accident and I watched both his father and grandmother lay him to rest. They were heartbroken for a 2 years, continued being sad for a time, and slowly but surely moved on. We will all move on if we value what is important.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 14:31 | 413001 pan-the-ist
pan-the-ist's picture

Do you live in Greece or California?

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 17:32 | 413410 Great Depressio...
Great Depression Trader's picture

I live in California but have spent 1/3 of my life in Greece. Was there very recently. Speak to family on a weekly basis. Things suck over there and will continue to suck. However, my family live in a town of 2500 people, by the coast. NO ONE has a mortgage, ALMOST EVERYONE has a massive garden with chickens, tomatoes, beans, sheep, cucumbers, grape vines. If/when we have a period of disruption of mass transport these people will be just fine as they off the land.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 14:27 | 412991 WaterWings
WaterWings's picture

Set up a goat and chicken business so you're not bored and can barter what you don't need.

Anyone have a FIRM idea how much longer this can go on?

THE question...I don't think we can make it past summer now with the GoM disaster. Before that I could see it chugging along with lies. Now it's all over our faces. Those people down there better realize they need to move yesterday.

And what I mean by 'make it past summer' is that there will be some kind of attempt by the Gubbmint to direct the flow of refugees. Not pretty. I just can't envision millions of southerners sitting at home calmly watching the teevee while the oil flows, and flows, and flows.

You were talking about seafloor collapses before I think. That seems likely. Don't know if there will be a significant tsunami...thank God I live on the Juan de Fuca plate where nothing like that is supposed to happen to the Puget Sound. Thank God! I don't mean to get all "biblical", but I'm calling the GoM disaster the worst in written human history. And it is still happening. Sorry if I'm projecting.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 15:25 | 413114 faustian bargain
faustian bargain's picture

I just can't envision millions of southerners sitting at home calmly watching the teevee while the oil flows, and flows, and flows.

They will wait to be told what to do. That's what they did after Katrina, that's what they'll do this time. They don't want to take care of themselves, they want daddy to rescue them and fix everything.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 16:24 | 413262 WaterWings
WaterWings's picture

Welfare queen sitting on curb:

"Someone come and please halp mah. I'm juss so tharsty. I can't feed mah babies."

It's actually pretty sad. But "we" believed the promises. Smoker-in-Chief wants to tell other people to stop now. Planning. Planning. Planning.

Sun, 06/27/2010 - 02:12 | 436126 JW n FL
JW n FL's picture

Let’s call it $2 Billion a month in benefits paid out... just for conversational proposes...

$750 Billion (TARP) =’s 375 Months… or 31 plus years of benefits?

I think we all can agree that the stimulus Packages… or monies being poured into the AAA Rated Corporations coffers exceeds the trillion dollar mark in multiples…

So, is the burden of debt really a bunch of couch potatoes milking the system? Or is the real problem or the real burden the amount of monies being poured into Wall Street?

The real problems are belittled daily by a bunch of wanna be Republican Conservatives… who pontificate about people pulling themselves up by their own boot straps or abortion... while the Country is Robbed Blind!

Drill Baby! Drill!!

Austerity Measures! For / or Against the un-employed / fellow American Country Men and / or Women… while we (as a Country) offer Tax Breaks to Companies who move Jobs Offshore / out of the United States.

The Democrats continue on the same path as laid by Bush… The Lobby controls our Government in Total! The Lobby owns US! ALL!! No exceptions!

The un-employed benefits being paid is NOT! the drag that is holding US! As a Country! Back…  

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 18:24 | 413547 merehuman
merehuman's picture

Thank you. I needed to know because it will cost 1,200 to reup. Out of cash i would have to spend the silver i have been saving. hate to spend the money when its not worth it. I can work under the table and i know that but i really liked being legit.

Personally i am surprised the plates are still in the air. I suppose coreexit will fix that. Means a lot to me to get this answer . Thanks i was a bit insecure about my choice after 30 years of being self employed.

Waterwings, i sincerely hope we get to meet some day. 1mealperday on the utube.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 15:24 | 413107 Day_Of_The_Tentacle
Day_Of_The_Tentacle's picture

I do not have any firm idea, but I am assuming for myself, that the world can go bonkers in September 2010, BUT that it can also continue for another 3-5 years. I base that on the pressure from debt redemptions and debt roll-overs of maturing sovereign bonds and real estate mortgages, will peak over the next 3 years, as far as I know. But enough of that.

I am saddened from reading your post. It seems to me that you have had an overdose of dark prospect information, and that it is twisting your judgement in a bad direction.

Now, I do not know, what you are licensed to work with, but if you can use my advice, based on my limited knowledge about you, it would be this:

Do not allow yourself to become depressed over this crazy world - search after the heartwarming encounters. Use the big flashing warning to steer clear of bad decisions like impulsive overspending. Use it to energize yourself to work devotedly to get out of debt, to reduce your monthly fixed expenditures and to consistently increase your savings quicker, than you normally would have had the discipline to do.

Businesswise, to improve your professional skills, to further build up the loyalty of your customers, to review and update your business plan, so it stays current with the needs of your customers, to maintain a continuously precise picture of your liquidity flow and balances, so you know exactly, if/when your maginal profits turns negative. You have to stay employed or in business as long as possible. You have to be able to carry your own weight in sickness and in health, so you have to keep working! If and only IF your business becomes a liability for your savings, should you fold - in my humble opinion.

Right now, you could turn off your computer, and go out into the European Summer Evening, (you are from Germany, yes?) and enjoy the fresh air. If you live near the countryside, a field with grains (wheat or barley) smells absolute divine on a summer evening, after the dew has fallen. Tomorrow or on the weekend, go to the sea, or to a park, and look at buzzing insects or children - they are incredible in their optimistic activity. Listen to people laugh. Go jump on a trampolin, real high - at first it is quite ridiculous for an adult, but it is still super fun - especially if you say AAAAHHHH really loud at the same time. If it is raining in Europe, I can also recommend putting on rubber boots, and go out and jump vigorously up and down in the waterpuddles, and getting REAL dirty. If you do that, you are bound to get some looks from bypassers, that are worth a prizelaugh as well, and all of the above are reasonably inexpensive joys of life.

I know what I write sound crazy, but that just me. I am not pulling your leg, though. I know the sneaking impatience and bad moods from myself. Don't let it get the better of you.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 15:50 | 413166 centerline
centerline's picture

Nice post.  I have heard what we know here referred to as the "burden of knowing."  I think is was Charles Smith, on his blog.  [I tend to hop around sometimes from site to site on recommended links to see what people have to say - search for news - etc.].  It is certainly too easy with this "burden" to wind up in a unhappy place.  I, personally, have been pissed off for years now watching this crap unfold.  It is amazing how long it can go on.  And also how much time can be wasted in the process that otherwise could have been fun with friends, family, etc.  Hope for the best and plan for the worst!  

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 16:33 | 413286 Day_Of_The_Tentacle
Day_Of_The_Tentacle's picture

Thank you ;-) Yes, and it is humbling to read some of the people, who have been on alert watch since the late 90'ies and mid '00s. 

It is not only about staying alive - it is about BEING alive.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 18:39 | 413577 merehuman
merehuman's picture

Tentacle, Thank you. I am a german resident alien in oregon. I have been in the states since 63 and been a vagabond when young and a contractor in the later years. i have no debts other than the 15k i owe the irs/imf. It would not bother me to walk away from all i have, in fact i would welcome it, carazy as it may sound.

But i am a householder and do take care of my 89 year old friend to whom i have promised to stay until the end. 

i expect her income,SS. to stop at some point, my income is sparse since few care to remodel or build at this time and i dont see that getting better.

i did expand the garden this year and bought a lot of steer manure.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 13:22 | 412828 Gully Foyle
Gully Foyle's picture


"greed sustains the system until humans can no longer support the equation."

That is where I disagree. The problem is people stopped thinking like parasites. A parasite will keep the host alive. 

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 13:49 | 412898 falcomadol
falcomadol's picture

+1 Seriously.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 14:29 | 412995 WaterWings
WaterWings's picture

I thought they try to find a new host once the current one no longer ain't symbiosis, that's for damn sure!

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 10:45 | 412517 Ropingdown
Ropingdown's picture

JR has it. My comment posted below. Boomers just drank the greedy apolitical Silent Generation's Kool Aid.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 11:00 | 412539 WaterWings
WaterWings's picture


We're all in this soup together. Blaming a quartile of the population for falling asleep at the wheel when Gen Y is busy watching Miley Cyrus intensify pre-adult depravity is hilarious. We are all going to pay the price for not pointing and shooting guns at those that strip us of our Constitutional freedoms.

Nothing but external violence will wake people up. Google 'human psychology' if you don't understand.

“I believe that liberty is the only genuinely valuable thing that men have invented, at least in the field of government, in a thousand years.  I believe that it is better to be free than to be not free, even when the former is dangerous and the latter safe. I believe that the finest qualities of man can flourish only in free air – that progress made under the shadow of the policeman’s club is false progress, and of no permanent value.  I believe that any man who takes the liberty of another into his keeping is bound to become a tyrant, and that any man who yields up his liberty, in however slight the measure, is bound to become a slave.” -- H. L. Mencken, "Why Liberty?" January 30, 1927

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 09:49 | 412421 DeweyLeon
DeweyLeon's picture

What a great summation of the last three decades.  I can't praise this highly enough!

Much like the way people were before WWI many of us see the disaster that is coming and are helpless to stop it.  The greed, blood-lust and madness is too great.  The signal to noise is too weak.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 09:59 | 412445 TimmyM
TimmyM's picture

My wife still doesn't understand why I keep hoarding ammunition in my safe. I hope I can get her to read this so she can understand my saddness and fear.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 10:24 | 412476 papaswamp
papaswamp's picture

My wife says she doesn't worry because she knows I am. As long as you are ready when things go bad she will turn to you.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 10:53 | 412510 WaterWings
WaterWings's picture

He can only hope. A lot of people are ready to lose it as it is. She might just curl up into a ball instead of, "Thank you, honey. You saved us. You saved us all from the bad men."

Don't get me wrong. I have a large supply of common, hard, tangible essentials discussed much here at ZH. I'm just saying that if you are counting on someone to wake up when things get fucking dire you will probably be surprised to see them recede even further into their denial. Have a plan A, plan B, and plan "ME" if you really want to make it when surrounded by dunderheads that have no concept of survival beyond opening a Twinkie in between drive-thru meals.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 11:12 | 412551 trav7777
trav7777's picture

For the Love of Money is the Root of All Evil.

Embrace this concept, it will set you free.

A balance sheet is an abstraction; it does not rule your life.  The part of the article most salient is the one where it says we have fashioned our own identities around materialism.  Once those are lost, we don't know who we are.

Why so much sadness and fear?  Identity crisis of some kind?  So much worry by so many over money and things on accounting ledgers.  Life goes on.  Stop fretting so much.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 11:42 | 412606 MsCreant
MsCreant's picture

The part of the article most salient is the one where it says we have fashioned our own identities around materialism.  Once those are lost, we don't know who we are.

There it all is, almost. Combine this idea with the fact that we are running out of resources and we are in a hell of a trap we will have to reinvent ourselves to get out of. Identity is key. And those who are best at playing this game know this and use it against those (you and me) that they will "cultivate" to extract wealth from.

Our identity in the matrix will come up against the physical limits of the planet. If we can't shake off the spell, we will become compost.

I am sickened every time I use fossil fuel, knowing what has happened in the GOM. I am sickened most of the time these days. We are addicted to "lifestyle" and "who we think we need to be to be okay" and it is killing us.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 12:09 | 412671 Cognitive Dissonance
Cognitive Dissonance's picture

Well said MsCreant. Well said.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 13:05 | 412782 Wyndtunnel
Wyndtunnel's picture

I've been thinking a lot about self-sufficiency lately. Bought a few books that should be helpful..but does anyone know what the baseline is for moderately healthy self-sufficiency? And I mean self sufficent in the sense of "never leave the property" self trips to the "market".  So will water, x number of chickens and a vegetable garden do? It can't be that simple. For one you need to feed the chickens.  I have a place in the mountains with a well..but if there is no electricity I haven't the faintest idea how to build a pump without metalurgy. There's plenty of fresh delicious water down there so I better have my backup plan in place before it's too late! many books.. so little time (left)! 

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 14:04 | 412932 falcomadol
falcomadol's picture

There's always tossing a bucket on a rope down into the well.

Sometimes it's actually that east.

A laying hen eats about a quarter pound of feed per day.  You get about 32 pounds of starchy food content from a bushel of corn.  By modern production standards an acre of corn produces about 151 bushels.

You can render that same bushel into 2.5 gallons of ethanol, 11 pounds of dry feed, 3 pounds of gluten meal, and a 700ml bottle of corn oil.  That's going to take more effort than feeding your chicken, but it's a pretty fair deal, especially if we manage to get to the "put some bacteria in your mix of rotting corn husks and water" stage before the shit hits the fan.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 16:36 | 413290 Wyndtunnel
Wyndtunnel's picture

"There's always tossing a bucket on a rope down into the well"

Now that is wayyyy to easy a solution...i have a lot of work to do if I am going to be prepared..PLUS I have horendous vision..need very strong glasses... Maybe I should get that laser surgery while it's still available lest I fall into my well one night looking for place to pee...

Thanks for the info on corn an' chickens!

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 14:04 | 412933 WaterWings
WaterWings's picture

Liquidate everything you own that you would not use there and hire someone to dig/drill two (two is one, one is none), distanced wells/pumps (hand power only - liquid gold to have clean water) so that if one becomes "poisoned" you have another.

Change your paradigm when it comes to electricity usage. No fridge, yes rechargeable batteries for small, useful electronics like LED lights, portable DVD players, radios, etc. to enhance your life out there; especially in the cold, boring winter when you should be sleeping 12+ hours a day anyway to conserve energy and therefore food; just like humans did before electricity. Set up a row of deep-cycle batteries and get some solar panels. Nothing fancy-pancy, just enough to run basic, basic, basic, basic things. If you're spending more than $800 you are thinking too big for the moment. But if you have the cash and the time why not go full off-grid with a roof of panels. 

Read Square-Foot Gardening and take the materials up there for reliable, efficient gardening. Get someone to put up sturdy fences. Get a quality chicken coop and have some LEDs handy to keep the light on inside to fool the chickens into thinking it's not winter so they keep laying eggs. Eggs have all the nutrition for life save vitamin C. Make pine needle broth for that so your teeth don't fall out. Not very attractive.

Stock up on storable foods - not MREs you nitwits out there. #10 cans! You know, the stuff that last 25 years if kept under optimal conditions! That way you won't starve to death and go room temp somewhere along the learning curve. Wheat! Rice! Beans! Stuff you could but don't want to take the time to do because there are many, many more important things to do then grow and harvest wheat on a small scale in the first few years.

Liquidate everything. Max out, purchase useful tangibles, default. Your credit score won't matter once hurricanes are drenching the South with sweet, light crude.

Oh, don't forget goats. Milk. Yum. Make soap with lye from wood ash and barter the soap for what you need. Such as ammo for the handgun and rifle you bought and practiced with.

I should stop now. There's a lot to be done. Good thing you already started two years ago while everyone else was beaming about their 401k and granite counter-tops. Good thing.

I should stop now. There's a lot to be done. Don't tell all your American Idol-addled friends and family because they will be so glad to eat all your hard work until you have nothing. Make it a subject of random curiosity until they decide they also need to prepare and bring their own resources and will to survive. I mostly follow this rule. But I don't want to be lonely or surrounded by people that don't know my story. Don't disappoint Carla Emery.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 15:07 | 413084 Cathartes Aura
Cathartes Aura's picture

does anyone know what the baseline is for moderately healthy self-sufficiency?

hey wyndtunnel ~

in my opinion the "moral" of this post is the "me" generation's self-centered point of view is past the sell-by date. . . in other words, "self" sufficiency - if it means "I'm alright jack, fuck you" - is a concept that needs to be evolved out of, much like the "terrible twos" gives way to a recognition that "me want!" is immature.

build community, however you want to define that word. . . going forward will only be possible if you have people with skill sets that support each other, and look after each other. . . burying cans of spam, ammo & precious metals may work for a time, but better to have groups of people working towards common goals.

one person rarely knows "everything" needed to live and survive; two can begin to amass information - a group that divides tasks and responsibilities stands a better chance, all things considered.


Mon, 06/14/2010 - 16:50 | 413328 Wyndtunnel
Wyndtunnel's picture

I fully appreciate your sentiment and I am not discounting the value of community..I have a network of a few friends with families that I know who all have cottages and land in Ontario and Quebec where there is plenty of water and arrable land for smal scale agriculture if required.  Nonetheless if things get critically bad I do believe in the importance of being SELF sufficient, at least to a degree... I can assure you that no matter how certain I am that we are in for very tough times ahead I am still fairly confident that things will somewhat hold together...but there is alwasy this nagging doubt that I should at least be somewhat informed about the DIY approach..even though I am unlikely to do even an 1/8th of what is necessary... So I will need a community...that much is certain.

What gets me, however, is that human nature being what it is, the power struggle and all the stupid chest thumping grandstanding and exploitation that goes with it will start anew and invariably organize itself to a point where before long there will be relatively super rich assholes and everyone else... it is our destiny.  The Universe has quite the sense of humour.



Mon, 06/14/2010 - 13:28 | 412848 Gully Foyle
Gully Foyle's picture


The problem is not resources but not understanding how to use our greatest resources. We need to escape the metal age and move into the biological. We think like primitives and cherish the Riddle of Steel. We need to think like gods and willingly alter the nature that surrounds us.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 16:50 | 413332 cougar_w
cougar_w's picture

Um... we did that. And it sucked big wind.

The old biology was fine. Learn to love Nature as she is. She took good care of us until recently and would happily do so again if we'd only stop cutting her breasts off.

Tue, 06/15/2010 - 01:18 | 414116 Oh regional Indian
Oh regional Indian's picture

Trav, I agree!

Wow, never thought I'd say that to you.

Is everyone here suffering from Multiple Personality disorder?

Are we all on mood "swing"?



Mon, 06/14/2010 - 11:53 | 412641 Rusty_Shackleford
Rusty_Shackleford's picture

"My wife still doesn't understand why I keep hoarding ammunition in my safe"

Mine too.

My advice,... get more safes. 

If you've only got one it won't be enough.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 12:52 | 412745 chumbawamba
chumbawamba's picture

Good to see you around again, Rusty.  I thought the IRS had got you :)

I am Chumbawamba.

Sat, 06/19/2010 - 17:15 | 422888 Rusty_Shackleford
Rusty_Shackleford's picture

Not a chance.  I'm trained to use IRS agents as food and shelter. 

The last one that tried to find me got hollowed out and used as a sleeping bag.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 12:58 | 412763 brodix
brodix's picture

Crap. I've still got it hoarded from the eighties. Pulled out a 9mm some months ago, pulled the slide back and wondered why it didn't stay open. Pulled the trigger. Blew a hole in the wall. Forgot I'd had a few rounds in the clip, "just in case." Frankly I'm getting to the point that if it goes there, I really don't want to hang around. Of course, all my assets are in farmland.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 14:30 | 413000 weinerdog43
weinerdog43's picture

I agree.  There were bits and pieces that I could quibble with, but by and large, a pretty darn accurate summation.  I think what's the most galling to us here on ZH is that while we can see the rot, we can't seem to get the PTB to address it in a meaningful fashion.  That has been Obama's biggest disappointment...He was given the authority to address 'change' on a silver platter, and instead we got yet another round of Rubin, Bernanke, Geithner and Summers. 

Tue, 06/15/2010 - 17:55 | 415656 Marla And Me
Marla And Me's picture

Weinderdog43, only we can bring about the "change" that we seek others to create.  We don't need a man, woman, or god to show us the way; it's in all of us.  If you act like a leader, you will become one.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 09:57 | 412434 doolittlegeorge
doolittlegeorge's picture

With all this anti-war talk I can hardly wait for the "angry peace" thing.  I mean talk about giving a reason to go to war.  I don't know if I can handle another 20 years of this manufactured critqueing.  What was that line in Caddyshack with the rich guy and his putter?  "Ooooooo, billy, billy, billy, billy, billy"?

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 09:58 | 412435 Zina
Zina's picture

Interesting times, we are living now... Interesting times...

I will keep drinking my beer and watching how it all will end... How the world will be by the time of Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games? Who knows... Just keep watching...

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 09:58 | 412437 Wynn
Wynn's picture

Jim Quinn .. lol

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 09:59 | 412439 Lndmvr
Lndmvr's picture

And NY turns out the lights today?

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 12:53 | 412749 chumbawamba
chumbawamba's picture

Have you ever considered that your stuff is kinda lame and uninteresting?

If not, please consider that.

I am Chumbawamba.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 13:52 | 412905 RichardENixon
RichardENixon's picture

Even if he does figure that out my guess is he'll keep posting it. I stopped clicking on his links long ago.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 19:41 | 413704 Hephasteus
Hephasteus's picture

Just because not everything he does is a home run doesn't mean he doesn't have some really good ones from time to time.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 22:02 | 413911 MsCreant
MsCreant's picture

I agree. "The Oil Spill Scream" was simply the raw truth. 

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 10:01 | 412447 stickyfingers
stickyfingers's picture

Mackay wrote his book in 1841, obviously not a bestseller.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 10:08 | 412449 Mercury
Mercury's picture

Look, I try to be as cheerfully pessimistic about the state of affairs as the next space monkey but this grand narrative stuff is a little ridiculous.  Soros's Second Act, this guy's Fourth Turning, Late Stage Capitalism, The third reunion of The Jackson Five, now the Jackson Four - give me a break.  These guys don't know what will happen by the end of the day or the end of the decade any more than you or I do.  But oh yes....It's all unfolding as expected!

What mental masturbation. There's more ever-expanding tin foil surrounding this thing than a Jiffy-Pop on an electric stove.

If the government is going to collapse under it's own weight than so be it but human nature, perhaps to the further befuddlement of Michael Lewis,  is not going to be repealed.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 10:09 | 412462 TBT or not TBT
TBT or not TBT's picture

Great post.  

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 12:55 | 412755 chumbawamba
chumbawamba's picture

Actual video of attack on Mavi Marmara that wasn't stolen and suppressed by the I mean Izraelis:

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 18:07 | 413510 Mr Lennon Hendrix
Mr Lennon Hendrix's picture

I hope that goes viral.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 11:03 | 412543 WaterWings
WaterWings's picture

human not going to be repealed

True, and I wonder if you are paying attention when you mention tin foil. You are either naive or in denial if you think our leaders benevolent over malevolent and violent.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 11:32 | 412595 Mercury
Mercury's picture

OK they're malevolent and violent.  I'm still not buying the grand narrative.

Mon, 06/14/2010 - 11:57 | 412642 subqtaneous
subqtaneous's picture


If you've never looked into The Fourth Turning before, it is definitely worth a look.  Now that events have unfolded in the 00's eerily similar to how the authors foresaw things happening back in the late '90's when the book was written, there are plenty of people (like the fellow on the blog linked to in this post) who have misappropriated what the book was about, and begun using it to demonize one group or another for their own political purposes.


The book merely lays out the case for cyclical vs. linear cause and effect, based on the study of the ebb and flow of generational demographics.  It isn't a how-to guide for survival of the apocalyptic, inevitable collapse of the world.  In the context of when it was written, it was a giant red flag that danger lay ahead at a time when most of society was busy thinking that it was Blue skies smiling at me, nothing but blue skies do I see.



Mon, 06/14/2010 - 13:14 | 412807 Bendromeda Strain
Bendromeda Strain's picture

Kondratieff Winter. Agree that Quinn is trying to stuff a narrative, as if it wasn't "just time" to pay the freight. All of it.

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