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Guest Post: No More Industrial Revolutions, No More Growth?

Tyler Durden's picture


Submitted by Charles Hugh-Smith of OfTwoMinds blog,

The common feature of the transformative technologies of the 20th and 21st centuries is that they were one-offs that cannot be duplicated.

What if the engines of global growth that worked for 65 years (since 1945) have not just stalled but broken down? The primary "engines" have been productivity gains from industrialization, real estate development and expansion of consumption based on the continual expansion of debt and leverage--in short-hand, financialization.
The Status Quo around the globe has responded to the obvious endgame of financialization (the 2008 financial crisis) by doing more of what has failed: expanding credit and leverage, flooding the global economy with liquidity (money available for borrowing), credits and subsidies for real estate development and a near-religious belief in "the next industrial revolution" that will spark rapid growth in employment, profits and productivity.
"The usual suspects" for the next engine of growth include nanotechnology, biotechnology, unconventional energy and Digital Fabrication, i.e. 3-D printing and desktop foundries. But are any of these capable of not just replacing jobs and revenues in existing industries, but creating more jobs and expanding revenues and profits?
There is a growing literature on this very topic, as many start questioning the quasi-religious faith that there will "always" be another driver of growth, i.e. the expansion of wealth, profit, employment and assets.
The Status Quo dares not even entertain this question because the only way to service the fast-rising mountain of debt that is sustaining the Status Quo is to "grow our way out of debt," i.e. expand the real economy faster than debt.
The past 250 years has been one long "proof" that we can indeed "grow our way out of debt" because the low-hanging fruit of industrialization and cheap, abundant energy enabled wealth to be created at a faster pace than debt.
Clueless Keynesians mock those questioning the possibility that the low-hanging fruit has been plucked by noting that doomsdayers were actively decrying the ballooning debt of the British Empire in the mid-1700s. We all know how that story ended: what looked like crushingly massive debt in 1780 was reduced to a trivial sum by the rapid expansion of industrialization.
But suppose the end of cheap, abundant energy (replaced by abundant, costly energy) and the Internet spells the end of centralized models of growth? What if all the innovation currently bubbling away only produces marginal returns?
Take biotechnology for example. Those with little actual knowledge of biotech are quick to latch onto the potential for genetic engineered medications, biofuels, etc. What they don't ask is if these technologies can scale up while costs decline, i.e. the computer technology model where everything progressively gets cheaper and more powerful.
Biofuels may have promise, but it still takes "old fashioned" energy to collect the feedstock, and it is a non-trivial task to keep micro-organisms alive on the scale that would be needed to produce a useful amount of liquid fuels, i.e. a few million barrels every day. Some processes may not scale up, and others may not see any significant reduction in fuel costs once the full input costs are calculated.
Genetic engineering also may not scale up--it may be limited by key barriers of individual patient complexity and by intrinsic costs that do not drop enough to make a difference.
Consider the diseases that have almost been eradicated--polio, for example--and the lifestyle diseases such as diabesity. The wave of diseases that were eradicated were caused by bacteria or viruses: a vaccine or agent that disabled or killed the bacteria/virus wiped out the disease.
Diabesity, cancer and heart disease are not caused by a single virus or bacteria. The "one med/vaccine works for all" model has failed and will always fail because diabesity and other lifestyle diseases have multiple, non-linear causes that are beyond the reach of a single "solution." These diseases may well be tied to epigenetic factors, for example, the interaction of "junk DNA" with environmental stresses that extend back into the individual genome.
What we face is the confusion of symptoms and effects with causes. Lowering cholesterol is not the "magic bullet" many hoped for, and neither was hormone therapy.
In the technology sector, it is clear that the Internet is destroying entire sectors of employment. The jobs that have been lost for good have not been replaced by jobs created by the Internet, nor is there any credible evidence to support this hope: automated software continues chewing up one industry after another, and the politically protected fiefdoms of healthcare (sickcare), education and government have yet to taste the whip of real innovation.
Rather than add jobs, we will lose tens of millions of jobs as faster-better-cheaper breaches the walls of these massive politically protected fiefdoms.
Healthcare spending is clearly in terminal marginal return: our collective health continues to decline in key metrics even as spending doubles, triples and quadruples. The same can be said of defense, education and many other industries.
Sectors such as agriculture have already seen employment decline by 98% even as production rose; there are still improvements in agriculture (robotic milking machine, for example) but the low-hanging fruit in agriculture as well as in medicine, education, etc. have all been picked.
The next wave of innovation will destroy protected profit centers and employment; even the Armed Forces are not immune, as the "ships of the future" will have relatively small crews and robotic drones will replace high-cost, high-employment weapons systems.
The semi-magical belief that technological innovation will create wealth in such quantities that all other problems become solvable may well be false. We may have entered an era of marginal returns, where innovations destroy jobs, wealth, assets and debt--the very foundations of "growth."
I have begun to speculate about a future where energy might be abundant but few can afford to consume much: money and income may be scarcer than energy.
The one innovation that might energize an entirely new field of employment is digital fabrication, the decentralization and distribution of production. But this will also creatively destroy jobs dependent on the present supply chain.
National governments have over-promised entitlements to their citizens on a vast scale, and the current "solution" to the mismatch of promises to national surplus is to borrow monumental sums to fund the promises. If innovations actually shrinks employment, incomes and wealth, then the base for taxes and debt will quickly shrink to the point that the debt is unserviceable. The Status Quo will collapse financially, even if energy and labor are both abundant.
Consider END OF GROWTH - six headwinds: demography, education, inequality, globalization, energy/environment, and the overhang of consumer and government debt.(via Zero Hedge)
The point made in this lengthy essay is a powerful one: the common feature of the transformative technologies of the 20th and 21st centuries is that they could only happen once. They are one-offs that cannot be duplicated. Doing more of what has failed will only set up a grander failure as returns on all our debt-based "investments" become ever more marginal and the return on increasing complexity drops into negative territory. Once complexity yields negative returns, the systems that depend on complexity quickly destabilize and implode.
The Collapse of Complex Business Models

This essay was drawn from Musings Report 48. The Musings are sent weekly to subscribers and major financial contributors (those who contribute $50 or more annually).

My new book Why Things Are Falling Apart and What We Can Do About It is now available in print and Kindle editions--10% to 20% discounts.


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Thu, 12/27/2012 - 17:53 | 3099955 yabyum
yabyum's picture

Seventh headwind, Too many damned people

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 17:56 | 3099960 knukles
knukles's picture

Tesla & Zero Point Energy

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 21:35 | 3100441 true brain
true brain's picture

"The point made in this lengthy essay is a powerful one: this essay is crap."

WHo would pay $50 for this crap? Tell us something new. I'm tired of this.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 22:28 | 3100577 garypaul
garypaul's picture

I know what you mean. As soon as I see that author's name attached to something I quickly move on. 

Fri, 12/28/2012 - 00:47 | 3100906 mkkby
mkkby's picture

Yesterday this author wrote BS about being optimistic.  Today the exact opposite???  WTF.

While I agree that expecting science to bail us out is childish, I have yet to see anyone explain how credit and resource growth can be over when the entire continent of Africa (and most of S. America) is largely undeveloped.  Let's talk about "the end" when Africa looks like the US from sea to shining sea...  i.e. covered in roads/houses/farms/cities.

Fri, 12/28/2012 - 01:35 | 3100971 Errol
Errol's picture

true brain,

You are mistaken; the topic of this essay is one of the key components of our current predicament.  Automation and industrialization has reduced the number of workers needed to produce everything we need, resulting in large numbers of unemployed workers, who have trouble buying the output of automation and industrialization without resorting to debt.

Society has tried various means to reduce the work force: public education to get the child labor out of the labor pool, delaying the onset of adulthood by requiring college degrees for jobs that really don't require one, having multi-million member standing armies to keep those soldiers out of the labor pool.  But we took this as far as we could, and are now reduced to paying people disability, early retirement, etc to keep them the hell out of the labor pool.

Try using your true brain - maybe you'll understand the issues better...

Fri, 12/28/2012 - 01:52 | 3100984 mkkby
mkkby's picture

Keeping people out of the work force, intentionally.  Are you fucking retarded?  What do you call a flood gate of immigration, open borders and H1B permits?  Getting women to be more independent so they enter the workforce in the 70s.  Globalization.  The entire plan is to dilute the workforce so wages plunge as low as possible.

Fri, 12/28/2012 - 02:20 | 3101008 Errol
Errol's picture

mkkby, you are correct as far as my failure to mention that the time frame I was referring to: the reformist years of late 1800s through the 1930s.  Inasmuch as the average American is no longer capable of logically debating the issues, democracy is no longer functioning in the US. Don't expect the present electorate to support efforts to create and sustain a middle class.  The national political process has been captured by corporations, so you may now expect global wage arbitrage and unlimited immigration.  Banana republic (tiny super-wealthy minority and improverished majority), here we come!

Fri, 12/28/2012 - 01:01 | 3100927 Anusocracy
Anusocracy's picture

He didn't mention room temperature superconductivity.

Fri, 12/28/2012 - 01:38 | 3100955 Errol
Errol's picture


Show me your working prototypes for "zero-point energy" or take your technocornucopian fantasies to the SciFi blogs where they belong...

Oh, and you too, Mr Room Temperature Superconductivity.

Fri, 12/28/2012 - 02:48 | 3101034 RebelDevil
RebelDevil's picture

Go to youtube, and you'll find hundreds of working "Free Energy" technologies. You just need to know where to look.
There about 10,000 around the world on different forums working on this stuff.

Sun, 12/30/2012 - 10:47 | 3106313 Flakmeister
Flakmeister's picture

Yep... just like healing crystals and a host of other new age psuedo-science crap...

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 18:03 | 3099980 Jendrzejczyk
Jendrzejczyk's picture

...writing books and selling them on the internet?

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 18:05 | 3099985 F. Bastiat
F. Bastiat's picture

An answer is space exploration and conquest. The ultimate expansion of mankind.  The opportunities for innovation in materials, communications, and energy are legion.  It's time to take seriously getting outposts set up on the moon and then on Mars.  The private sector needs to lead the way.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 18:23 | 3100013 viahj
viahj's picture

asteroid mining is also needed, but most importantly to "human expansion"  is clean water and healthy food.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 18:29 | 3100025 F. Bastiat
F. Bastiat's picture

Well, who knows. Those are certainly good possibilities and I'm sure we'll find many more of them as we get out there.  An outpost on the moon seems a reasonable goal for the private sector space companies.  Followed by an outpost on Mars. Hopefully the information coming back from the rover Curiosity will be useful and will be widely shared with the private sector.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 19:43 | 3100191 GMadScientist
GMadScientist's picture

This is the kind of risk/reward evaluation that lead to the crash in the first place.


"....cause there's bugger all here down on Earth!"

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 20:16 | 3100275 Citxmech
Citxmech's picture

Hell, access to clean water and healthy food is a tough prerequisite just for us to survive even at a reduced population in a steady-state, never mind trying to fuel additional growth.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 20:17 | 3100276 Bicycle Repairman
Bicycle Repairman's picture

Technology alone will not save us.  If the political class was able to destroy the gains from the high tech / internet revolution, they can obliterate the gains from any technological revolution.  The political environment must be changed.  And there is no guarantee that the next techological revolution benefits the West.  In fact I believe it is unlikely.  Prepare for third world status.  Thank you, political class.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 20:24 | 3100291 Seer
Seer's picture

It was the political class that helped exploit finite resources.  One could, I suppose, blame them for their decline, but look around and ask if you yourself have had a hand in depleting them...

BTW - TECHNOLOGY is a PROCESS.  What enables it is PHYSICAL RESOURCES, with fossil fuels being one of the key such resources.

BTW2 - The "Third World" lives more sustainably.  We can all thank them for living that way so that we could live unsustainably...

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 20:48 | 3100347 TuPhat
TuPhat's picture

Seer, As for BTW2, that's painting with a very broad brush and is therefore untrue.  Burning forests to plant crops on marginal land is not sustainable for one example.  Living withins ones means no matter the third world or first world is sustainable.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 22:56 | 3100646 Ident 7777 economy
Ident 7777 economy's picture





Seer "BTW2" is a stupid statement.



Thu, 12/27/2012 - 21:20 | 3100416 Bicycle Repairman
Bicycle Repairman's picture

The political class helped exploit resources?  You mean "I didn't build that?"  LOL.

The resources are nowhere near being depleted.  As I told you before, three years ago you had no idea what fracking meant.  The revolution in natural gas completely escaped your ilk. 

As for the third world, you like it?  Go live there.  Don't try forcing it on me.

Fri, 12/28/2012 - 02:52 | 3101035 RebelDevil
RebelDevil's picture

Hell yeah it's a process, of enlightening the knuckleheaded physicists and defeating the elite at their own game!

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 18:29 | 3100026 Mentaliusanything
Mentaliusanything's picture

Pity Gravity is such a bitch to get around and over

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 18:37 | 3100044 F. Bastiat
F. Bastiat's picture

True.  But perhaps the "anti" gravity remains to be discovered?  The yang to gravity's yin, the positive to gravity's negative. Who knows. But, we need to be out there doing it in order to innovate.  Despite the superstitions of the socialists in our midst, all knowledge originates from experience.  And there's no better experience than actually doing things.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 20:36 | 3100317 Seer
Seer's picture

The PROBLEM, however, is that in order to apply an equal and opposite force you require FORCE.  Harnessing such FORCE means that you need to harness forces that don't naturally occur (well, they do, but they're based at planetary levels/mass).

"And there's no better experience than actually doing things."

Unless, that is, "doing" results in catastrophic failure and or a waste of energy and resources (such as is typical of all those big projects that are undertaken for the good of the elite- keeping them in grant money etc.).

"Despite the superstitions of the socialists in our midst, all knowledge originates from experience."

Huh?  You're talking about FREE stuff, just like the socialists...  NOTHING is FREE!  The ONLY thing that comes close is solar energy, and even then the most efficient living organisms (evolved over millions [billions?] of years) has only managed to utilize less than 10% of solar [light] energy.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 20:57 | 3100366 F. Bastiat
F. Bastiat's picture

You've a bright future constructing strawmen. And tearing them down. Pretty creative, actually.

Fri, 12/28/2012 - 00:41 | 3100898 F. Bastiat
F. Bastiat's picture

To burn one of your strawmen:

+, - electrical forces exist naturally.  While I'm not fully up to speed on the nuclear forces, one may reasonably suspect that a similar situation exists.  Anti-gravity would seem to be a larger, macro force similar to the naturally occurring "micro" opposing forces of electrical & (assuming) nuclear.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 21:38 | 3100452 CH1
CH1's picture

Can't believe you're getting dinged for these posts Bastiat. You are dead-on right.

Keep posting a screw the naysayers.

Fri, 12/28/2012 - 00:42 | 3100900 F. Bastiat
F. Bastiat's picture

Small minds do petty things.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 19:12 | 3100122 kraschenbern
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Space elevators will help; but not overcome the singularity.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 18:33 | 3100032 negative rates
negative rates's picture

Your moment in the sun has passed my friend, and  from the gravity of the Earth, is the cause of your frustration and pain.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 18:40 | 3100050 F. Bastiat
F. Bastiat's picture

Gravity sucks, certainly.  But it can be useful when combined with other forces. JDAMs raining down on marxists and islamist barbarians, for example.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 20:38 | 3100322 Seer
Seer's picture

Keep paying your taxes for those JDAMs.  Sooner or later (as the USD collapses) you can be expected to part for nearly ALL of your pay; but, hey! killing all those monsters our there is worth it, right?

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 20:58 | 3100368 F. Bastiat
F. Bastiat's picture

Actually, the taxes are for killing islamists and marxists. The JDAM is simply one tool for doing so.

Tsk, tsk - you should stick to the strawman business.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 18:32 | 3100034 Citxmech
Citxmech's picture

Exploitation of space for commerce will be marginal unless or until we can implement a viable space-elevator system to facilitate the efficient movement of serious tonnage into space.

Until a program like this starts to make up for the decline in industries like the airlines - space as a future growth-industry will remain a pipe dream.

I wouldn't recommend holding your breath. . .


Thu, 12/27/2012 - 18:44 | 3100062 Salon
Salon's picture

200 mile long rail gun.

Acceleration is slow enough that humans can be shot into space to collect asteroids for their 20 trillion dollar metal content

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 19:09 | 3100115 Citxmech
Citxmech's picture

Hmm.  That could work too - although no need to use people - just automate the whole shebang.  Do you know if the gun have to be straight, or could it follow the contour of the Earth?

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 19:28 | 3100154 blunderdog
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it needn't be straight

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 20:28 | 3100299 knukles
knukles's picture




(sigh of relief from Richard Simmons)

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 20:50 | 3100352 blunderdog
blunderdog's picture

Richard Simmons is uh "straight."  He says he suffers unique and unrequited love with Barbara Streisand.  Heh.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 19:14 | 3100127 kraschenbern
kraschenbern's picture

Revolving door employment for beltway insiders/politicians?

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 21:43 | 3100458 CH1
CH1's picture

humans can be shot into space to collect asteroids for their 20 trillion dollar metal content

Or just to escape the insanity that rules on this planet.

I mean... obeying government? Giving half your money - your life! - to rulers? How gullible can this species be?

Fri, 12/28/2012 - 19:59 | 3103640 akak
akak's picture


humans can be shot into space to collect asteroids for their 20 trillion dollar metal content

We already have those metal-rich asteroids right here on earth --- they are called "mountains".

Just because x number of tons of this or that metal occurs in any given asteroid is utterly irrelevant --- the metals' ores still have to be mined, the ores concentrated and processed, and the metal refined, and then in the case of an asteroid, the metal brought to earth and THEN brought down to the surface, every step of which requires a significant amount of energy and technological expertise.  The idea of mining asteriods is a red herring and a total non-starter unless and until humanity controls almost unlimited amounts of energy.  It may happen in the future, but today it is nothing but an impossible pipedream.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 18:47 | 3100064 icanhasbailout
icanhasbailout's picture

If they could make a 3-D printer that worked with Moon dust that could solve a lot of the tonnage/gravity problem.


The human race needs room to expand - it is in our nature. It is also in our nature to kill ourselves off in large numbers when competition for resources gets too fierce.


It's a race against time, and we need to get off this planet. Necessity will be the mother of the inventions to make it an economically sound proposition.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 19:03 | 3100098 F. Bastiat
F. Bastiat's picture

It's going to take big thinkers. Far too many hominids, at least in the states, are solely consumed with cashing their next check derived from the spoils of plunder.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 20:46 | 3100342 Seer
Seer's picture

Maybe a lot of people realize that it's a hoax?

Yeah, let's all sign up for the next pyramid-building operation!

All you techno-heads looking for yet another scheme in which to steal off the toils of the workers...

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 21:01 | 3100372 F. Bastiat
F. Bastiat's picture

Now it comes out - don't you feel better? Now that you've got your marxist tendencies out in the open for all to see.  Out of the "progressive" closet, so to speak.

I'll happily pay taxes so that Boeing can build JDAMS that kill islamists and marxists.

You see, it's "utilty" that determines value, not "labor". The value of something is mainly determined by how useful it is. If "labor" were the key to value, then hand-made stone tools would be the most valuable things around us.

Back to your strawman operation.

Fri, 12/28/2012 - 07:08 | 3101139 ForTheWorld
ForTheWorld's picture

Not always. Diamonds are quite expensive, but provide little use, while Silver, with all its uses, is valued at only $30/oz. Surely it can't be too hard to come up with a value of an item that combines both its utility, and the labor required to create the item (even accounting for all externalities).

Fri, 12/28/2012 - 12:21 | 3101807 F. Bastiat
F. Bastiat's picture

Certainly, utility includes many things and other factors, such as supply and demand, affect the price.  Overall, "labour" is an extremely minor component.  Despite the delusions of those using class warfare to attack Western civilization from within.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 18:57 | 3100085 walküre
walküre's picture

Then we could dispose of our nuclear waste in space. The energy problem would be solved. No need for an oil backed USD either. Everyone's a winner.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 18:37 | 3100042 walküre
walküre's picture

Can we seriously discuss this prospect when here on Earth some people are marching around a block of stone and calling for the murder of anyone who dares defame their self declared "prophet"?

I'm all for the visions of space exploration and space settlements but not until we've had another few centuries of general and broad sophistication right here on this planet.

Some folks should not be breeding for starters.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 18:47 | 3100046 F. Bastiat
F. Bastiat's picture

Well, that's a tribal issue. Some tribes are always going to be behind the others. No reason to wait for them; let them wallow in their own filth.

For better or worse, the scientific method originated in Christendom. It's up to the tribes of Christendom to lead the way.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 18:54 | 3100079 walküre
walküre's picture

Christendom has been emasculated and therefore increasingly too pacified to lead anything anywhere. The lack of male leadership especially among the Christian nations is a huge part of our current problems. The scams and manipulations at the Fed level should have been called out decades ago and dealt with. The excess accumulation of ficticious wealth among certain individuals and corporations on the backs of millions of debt slaves should have never been allowed.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 19:02 | 3100096 F. Bastiat
F. Bastiat's picture

Oh, I agree. Abstraction, in the economic realm, tends to be the mortal enemy of legitimate productivity and technological advance.  The Gods of the Copybook Headings always have their revenge, though. Always.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 20:31 | 3100305 knukles
knukles's picture

Just need more wars.

(now I understand why entire races are eliminated to the very genetic level for just giving red arrows)

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 21:01 | 3100373 F. Bastiat
F. Bastiat's picture

Well, if we would just exterminate the marxists and the islamists, we could end the wars for good.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 21:32 | 3100433 tickhound
tickhound's picture


And then after we use up that little growth nugget, we could target you.

That should buy us just enough oxygen 'til re-entry.  Thanks Houston.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 21:46 | 3100467 CH1
CH1's picture

Well, if we would just exterminate the marxists and the islamists, we could end the wars for good.

Dude, you're losing me. I'm no fan of either of those, but they are not the cause of war.

Crimes are caused by invidiuals, wars are caused by states. And states fight FAR more than individuals do.

Eliminate states and you eliminate war. (But not crime.)

Fri, 12/28/2012 - 00:11 | 3100844 F. Bastiat
F. Bastiat's picture

I was being a little facetious. Just a little.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 19:29 | 3100160 blunderdog
blunderdog's picture

    the scientific method originated in Christendom.

Not really.  It wasn't the monks and priests who developed the scientific method.  It originated with the Greeks, but it really came into its own in Christian Europe.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 20:02 | 3100230 F. Bastiat
F. Bastiat's picture

While I appreciate Euclid's "Elements", they certainly don't qualify as anything even resembling the modern scientific method.

The scientific method, as we know it, originated in a quadri-lateral with vertices at London, Paris, Vienna, and Berlin.  I'd have to check the dates again, but it's the timeframe of Newton, Huygens, Liebniz, etc.

Folks tend to forget that the greatest scientist of all time, Newton, was also a Christian theologian.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 20:52 | 3100356 blunderdog
blunderdog's picture

It was Aristotle, actually.  He was forgotten for a long while.  But no point in quibbling, you're a Christian, you'll always believe whatever you like.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 21:06 | 3100378 F. Bastiat
F. Bastiat's picture

I've made serious points with proven facts as documented by Westfall in "Never At Rest", a biography of Isaac Newton.

You've offered conjecture and delusion as somehow being magical proof.  If you've some facts to back up your malarkey, feel free to share them.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 21:16 | 3100406 blunderdog
blunderdog's picture

Yeah, well, anyone too ignorant to remember the Universals and Aristotle's early physics really doesn't deserve lessons from me. 

Suffice to say: the only reason science works is 'cause God the Almighty pushes all the fields and atoms around for us, and he can change the rules anytime he likes.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 20:56 | 3100365 Seer
Seer's picture

Calling to conjure up another planet.  How's that work according to Matthew 6:10?

Tribes lived a LONG time before the so-called sophisticated peoples came to be, and will do so a LONG time afterwards.  Tribes are the antithesis of wide-spread centralized power, more in line with how nature (humans ARE of nature) works.

I laugh at how people think that they'll stay "sophisticated" as resources become harder and harder to exploit.  All wars are about resources.  Seems there's been an increase of these of late...  And, just how un-tribe-like we've become, in that we're now so "sophisticated" that we can obliterate all human life from the planet.

Those that think themselves superior are merely engaging in self-deception: human hubris.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 21:08 | 3100386 F. Bastiat
F. Bastiat's picture

Clearly, some are superior. The scientific method, for example, arose in a quadri-lateral with vertices at London, Paris, Vienna, and Berlin.  While it is no coincidence that the scientific method arose out of Christendom, that certainly hasn't stopped those who preach the counter-Christian religion of marxism from conjuring up their own delusions and proffering them as somehow magically true.

While you can attempt to obfuscate the facts of history, you cannot change them.

Fri, 12/28/2012 - 00:00 | 3100794 Anusocracy
Anusocracy's picture

The scientific method originated in Greece.

Nowhere else.

Fri, 12/28/2012 - 00:38 | 3100894 F. Bastiat
F. Bastiat's picture

Certainly the Greeks made some early contributions - Euclid's Elements, in particular come to mind.  However, those minor, early contributions are no where near the intellectual level of what we consider the modern scientific method.

The scientific method, as we know it, originated in the quadri-lateral with vertices at London, Paris, Vienna, and Berlin in that last quarter of the 17th century.  Newton, alone, (for example) developed the modern science of dynamics in late 1684, early 1685.

Fri, 12/28/2012 - 12:33 | 3101838 acetinker
acetinker's picture

Yeah, because there were so many innovative Christians around circa Mesopotamia, right?  Bullshit, Fred.  Look, I'm agnostic and have no desire to debate whose version of God is the bestest.  However, your blind (and I mean terminally blind) ambition of exterminating those who view the world differently is quite telling.  Ready to fire up a modern Crusade, Fred?  Fine, you go to the front and fight for what you believe.

Actually, worldwide conflict amongst your God's supporters and the "bad guys" God's supporters may go a long way toward solving the issues CHS raises in the above article.  So, never mind the preceding paragraph, Fred.  Carry on.



Thu, 12/27/2012 - 18:42 | 3100055 tickhound
tickhound's picture

The ponzi has found its doubling solution... A NEW PLANET! 

Funny tho, cuz I want to do this too, the question is why we NEED to do this.  Probably for similar reasons a shark tank burst is called a "hidden little gem" to modern economists.

SO, before we all follow the lead antelope over the cliff, AGAIN, in an effort to find more space, can we pause and ADMIRE the lengths we humans will travel to justify the ponzi-growth model.

If only the Easter Islanders had found more trees somewhere... their economic and spiritual system would be viewed more favorably. 

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 19:36 | 3100176 Jendrzejczyk
Jendrzejczyk's picture

Everyone already knows that the Easter Islanders copied the US Citizenizim model and that was the cause of their downfall.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 21:02 | 3100375 Seer
Seer's picture

According to some here the Eastern Islanders just weren't sophisticated enough!  If they'd "discovered" anti-gravity then we wouldn't be laughing now, would we? (<sarc>)

Just imagine had they managed to escape that island and spread elsewhere.  Why, we'd have nothing but a planet of humans that over-exploit their environment and die off! (more fucking <sarc>)

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 21:58 | 3100500 tickhound
tickhound's picture

Don't you sarc at me... it's obvious some DID escape.

Enjoy the holidaze, dude. 

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 19:18 | 3100134 Joe moneybags
Joe moneybags's picture

The monumental new industry will be harnessing, storing, and distributing solar energy.  We are only in the horse and sled days of this technology.  When science fully understands how photosynthesis works, it will be a short time before that process can be replicated synthetically, and applied to produce liquid fuels and direct electrical energy.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 21:06 | 3100379 Seer
Seer's picture

Science DOES understand how photosynthesis works!  The PROBLEM is how to speed up/increase the density of this function!

People need to realize that in order to speed up any process you need MORE energy.

Further, how scalable is this that you're seeing/expecting?  Are you figuring that it'll promote MORE growth?  If so, how much more? How many more people on the planet?

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 21:16 | 3100400 Harbanger
Harbanger's picture

"People need to realize that in order to speed up any process you need MORE energy."  Not true, ever hear of a catalyst.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 21:31 | 3100411 Harbanger
Harbanger's picture

The problem with solar energy dependence is countries would be fighting for the deserts in the ME. BTW photosynthesis creates sugars, not electricity.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 20:10 | 3100264 dhengineer
dhengineer's picture

It still comes down to cheap energy.  It takes an awful lot of energy to lift a relatively small payload into orbit and then on to the moon and near planets.  Returning with a payload of ore or other consumables will be costly as well because of the reentry and landing problems requiring big return vehicles that will be costly to launch, even in pieces.  Look at the Saturn V system that launched three men with a tinfoil lander to the moon.  Huge fuel burns for a couple tons of payload.  These problems cannot be overcome by innovations or clever design, they are constrained by astrophysics. I don't think that the private sector will be able to overcome the fuel costs, let alone the logistics of the missions, with anything close to a positive return on investment.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 20:26 | 3100294 Citxmech
Citxmech's picture

Some folks seem to think that increasing efficiency will solve the problems of thermodynamics.  Hell, even if every means we had of using/harnessing/transmitting energy were 100% efficient, we'd still be up shit's creek this late in the game.

Fri, 12/28/2012 - 00:19 | 3100855 Anusocracy
Anusocracy's picture

Spacex hopes to reduce the inefficiencies of spaceflight by making everything reusable except for fuel. How expensive would flying by jet be if the only thing that was reused was the cockpit?

Fuel would be produced at both ends of the journey, therefore smaller vehicles, much like jets.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 20:47 | 3100345 Diogenes
Diogenes's picture

"An answer is space exploration and conquest. The ultimate expansion of mankind.  The opportunities for innovation in materials, communications, and energy are legion.  It's time to take seriously getting outposts set up on the moon and then on Mars.  The private sector needs to lead the way."

Space oil!

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 23:31 | 3100715 Banjo
Banjo's picture

Idiot - the world can barely maintain a skeleton crew on a tin can in low earth orbit. You think this Unicorn is gonna scale?

Put your penis back in your pant's, get off the food stamps and get a job. Preferably low paid so you actually produce more than you end up consuming.

Have a nice day.

In the busy wholesale-retail world of London's East End everyone, it seems, has unattainable dreams. Then a small boy - Joe (F.Bastiat) - buys a unicorn, in fact a sickly little goat (dream of space conquest), with just one twisted horn in the middle of its forehead. This, he has been led to believe by a local tailor  Kandinsky,  (idiot MSM cornucopians) ,  will bring everyone good fortune.


Fri, 12/28/2012 - 00:28 | 3100883 Anusocracy
Anusocracy's picture

Government can barely maintain a skeleton crew on a tin can in low earth orbit.

Fri, 12/28/2012 - 17:54 | 3103137 Banjo
Banjo's picture


Clown thanks for making my point. If there was money in space the private sector would be there. How much of your money is in any private company attempts to get into space?

Are you getting it?

Let me be very clear...

Moon bases, space colonization are not going to happen (short of some EPIC industrial revolution e.g Nano). It takes way to many resources and the payback is 0.00. Spend a million return 0.00 hmmmm tough choice.


Sat, 12/29/2012 - 00:33 | 3104172 awakening
awakening's picture

Let me know how muct success the USG and others manage to claim taxes from the moon?

An initial moon base, housing a computer server environment (a remote semi-autominated bank, no need for humans for the first few decades), would pay for itself =)

Fri, 12/28/2012 - 02:01 | 3100993 Errol
Errol's picture

F. Bastiat, do you really believe that "An answer is space exploration and conquest"?   Conquest???  I guess the only cure for human arrogance will be an overshoot crash.

Do you realize that the US moon landing program was only possible because the US was still a net exporter of petroleum and thought it had "energy to burn"?  It turned out to be an almost total waste of money: we learned that the moon is indeed an arid hunk of pretty much useless rock.  It doesn't appear to have concentrations of anything useful to fuel further exploration.  I'll save you trillions more dollars: Mars is an arid hunk of pretty much useless rock, too.

"The private sector needs to lead the way."  Are you nuts?  The only way any sane person is going to undertake something as pointless and expensive as going to the moon is if the government subsidizes it.  Just like the gov't subsidizes ethanol production: it is debatable whether ethanol even reaches parity of energy out matching energy in; it is only happening because taxpayer money subsidizes it.

God help me; I'm struggling to be courteous despite several commentators parroting a bunch of pathetically naive technocournocopian propaganda.  I guess you guys still believe in Santa too: maybe he'll bring you a big ole sack of zero point energy and algal diesel fuel next year!

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 18:22 | 3100012 Renewable Life
Renewable Life's picture


I thought the plan was to just extend 15-100k in credit to every human being on the planet!!!

Problem solved right????

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 18:37 | 3100041 Manthong
Manthong's picture

What IF the engines of growth are broken?
IF  ???

Just wait until they realize that nobody has any spare digital fiat to buy the mountains of crap that a half billion Chinese workers have to produce because the regime says so.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 19:14 | 3100126 ball-and-chain
ball-and-chain's picture

That's what scares me.

And nature always performs a balancing act.

War.  Plague. You name it.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 20:38 | 3100323 The Navigator
The Navigator's picture

Too many damned parasites.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 21:37 | 3100439 Renewable Life
Renewable Life's picture


While were at it, extend it to the moon and mars colonies too?

Problem really solved, right????

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 21:36 | 3100446 proLiberty
proLiberty's picture

Too many people is a "headwind" only in a socialist economy where each person, on balance, is unable, unwilling or forbidden to create more wealth than they consume to live.   In a socialist economy, the more people in the economy, the more quickly that economy is on net balance consuming its capital.


Thu, 12/27/2012 - 17:56 | 3099962 hedgeless_horseman
hedgeless_horseman's picture



Growth, growth, growth, all I hear is growth.  Bring me some income!

Mediocristan wins over Extremistan in a defensive struggle.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 17:58 | 3099969 DoChenRollingBearing
DoChenRollingBearing's picture

+ 1 

Finding safe & decent income nowadays is a bitch.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 18:02 | 3099978 hedgeless_horseman
hedgeless_horseman's picture

Want to know what "many folks" do not understand?


Portfolio A Portfolio B

Year 1           +7% +15%

Year 2           +7% +15%

Year 3           +7% +15%

Year 4           +7% - 15%



After 4 years, which portfolio did better?





Hint: Beta kills

Nevertheless, bond sales' commissions are for shit, so equities will always be the darling

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 18:30 | 3100027 DoChenRollingBearing
DoChenRollingBearing's picture

Arithmetic, bitchez! 

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 20:34 | 3100313 Citxmech
Citxmech's picture

That's what "adjustments" are for.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 18:53 | 3100076 NoControl
NoControl's picture

Thank you for a quick and elegant lesson.   I'll remember it whenever I need to explain the principle to anyone

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 19:03 | 3100099 ShrNfr
ShrNfr's picture

J reverse is a bitch from either side.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 19:54 | 3100209 NoDebt
NoDebt's picture

True.  Here's one I use to illustrate a similar point (Average Rate of Return vs. Internal Rate of Return):

Start (year 0):  You start with $100

Year 1:  Bad market, your investment now worth only $50 (-50%)

Year 2:  Fanstatic bounce year, you are back up to $100 (+100%)

Question:  what is your rate of return?  Answer is usually 0%, to which I respond "Any reasonable person would say that, but Wall St. would disagree.  Wall St. says that's a 25% average rate of return."  They look at me kinda screwy, obviously.  Then I pause and I show them the math, which is:

(-50% +100%) = +50%.        +50% / 2 years = 25% average rate of return

They usually get a little pissed off at that point.  Not at me, but, you know.  Then they usually stammer out something like "But.... that means....." and I say "Yes, that's exactly what that means."  Beta's a bitch.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 19:51 | 3100214 Nassim
Nassim's picture

Portfolio A wins by around $100. Not obvious.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 23:07 | 3100571 NoDebt
NoDebt's picture

Portfolio A ends up ahead by 1.39% at the end of the series.

It is a SERIES of calculations.  It can not be "averaged" or "weighted".  You have to do it one year after the other using the previous year's ending point as the input to the next year.


Thu, 12/27/2012 - 19:22 | 3100141 sessinpo
sessinpo's picture

Change that to EARNED INCOME and I'll give you an up arrow. Otherwise income can just be a transfer of wealth. Is that my name on the check you are cashing for your welfare benefits?

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 17:57 | 3099967 DoChenRollingBearing
DoChenRollingBearing's picture

While I will buy into much of CHS's thesis above, there MAY be new technologies that might matter, such as "3-D Printing", low natural gas costs and so on that may wind up saving or growing jobs.  Some of these may not be just "one-offs" either.  That's the good case for a bright future, but in general I am pessimistic re the next several years.  Too much distortion and debt.  IMO, this will not be pretty decade.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 18:19 | 3100009 cougar_w
cougar_w's picture


HA hahahaha  hahaha! <wipes a tear>

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 18:24 | 3100016 adr
adr's picture

3D printing is not the revolutionary technology everyone makes it out to be. I have been using these machines for 18 years. They have become progressively better, but still output roughly the same thing. A part that needs secondary work to be useful. You also need to have immense knowledge of fabrication techniques to make anything useful as well. All 3D printers create parts with rough steps that must be sanded.

Hardly anyone can even build a model airplane anymore. Try finding one person out of 1000 on a street that knows how to solder.

Somebody made a working record on a 3D printer, but the resulting sound quality was worse than a mp3 on the lowest quality setting. In fact the sound was closer to the plinks from Pong than music. This excercise was meant to show the amazing posibilities of 3D printing. Instead it showed how people can scam praise for worthless shit.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 18:31 | 3100031 cougar_w
cougar_w's picture

I was shocked that 3D printing even made the list. Anything that is going to re-ignite the industrial revolution to the benefit of 7+ billion people needs to be epic. Not some micro industrial handicraft.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 18:38 | 3100047 Salon
Salon's picture

Wait until it is metalo-ceramic 3D printing.

And the printers come in all sizes from a briefcase up to huge buildings.

We will just print out our own modular transportation, tools, houses, put it together like leggos.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 19:26 | 3100151 sessinpo
sessinpo's picture

I think I'll wait till the second coming of Christ. Or maybe I'll just 3D print him.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 23:52 | 3100783 Ident 7777 economy
Ident 7777 economy's picture

Funny ... and metallurgey, selection of materials will STILL have to play a part at some point ...

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 20:45 | 3100340 thisandthat
thisandthat's picture

Wait until it's metamaterials/nanoscale printing

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 19:05 | 3100097 NoControl
NoControl's picture

Now that the concept is becoming more mainstream, costs of these printers is constantly going down, there will be incremental improvements and maybe huge leaps in functionality.

If anything the resolution is getting more and more fine.  The "steps" are getting smaller and smaller.  How long until printers come out that print with many different materials?  Maybe it gets to the point of printing circuits in layers and layers; plopping pre-made capacitors, resistors, transistors etc. into the circuits like a staple-puncher does now on some paper printers.

I have been saying it for YEARS that I am WAITING for the end of the era of CHEAP ENERGY.

When it is no longer profitable to produce plastic trinkets in China and ship them over to the US, things will again be produced LOCALLY.

Maybe even on these same 3D printers.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 19:47 | 3100199 Jendrzejczyk
Jendrzejczyk's picture

People/jobs seem to be missing from this equation. What are people going to do to make a living when everything produced can be printed by a 3-D machine?

Will this be Utopia where we just exist and everything we need will be printed for us for free, or will this become hell on earth where everybody is worthless and expendable?

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 20:08 | 3100257 thisandthat
thisandthat's picture

Plans for stuff to be printed - back to creativity, not productivity

Fri, 12/28/2012 - 00:56 | 3100916 Anusocracy
Anusocracy's picture

If you didn't have government that bends economies to its own desires, causes massive waste, and spends 40% percent of GDP directly, people could live on 20 hours of work per week.

Just complying with federal income taxes, not paying them, wastes the equivalent of the yearly work output of Indiana.

There are answers, it's just that people can't think outside of the box they are born in.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 20:21 | 3100288 dhengineer
dhengineer's picture

Sure,  but there is always the possibility that when the plastic trinkets are produced locally by minimum wage workers skyrocket in price, nobody be able to afford them and will no longer want them anymore and the fledgling industries collapse anyway.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 19:13 | 3100124 infinity8
infinity8's picture

Yeah, great for some prototypes, but. Cryogenics, anyone? Nano-tech could really be something. I know about as many people who can solder as people who can properly weld olefins.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 19:34 | 3100173 blunderdog
blunderdog's picture

There are many hundreds of millions of people who can solder, but they're mostly women and children in Asia where there's work for them.

I know how to do it, for all the good it does me--not much point in learning to solder in the USA--who's going to give anyone job for THAT?

Labor costs are too out of whack.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 19:53 | 3100218 infinity8
infinity8's picture

You give yourself a job with that, like welding polyolefins. Low volume, short lead-times = $$. Well, it used to anyway.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 20:55 | 3100361 blunderdog
blunderdog's picture fixing wetsuits or something?  Splicing videotapes?  (Obviously that's never been my field...)

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 21:24 | 3100413 infinity8
infinity8's picture

No, like food proc equipment OEM replacement parts or fume hoods for labs, etc. 

battery bath tanks, FDAA approved funnelles - it'ss all coming back to me now. . .

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 23:01 | 3100657 blunderdog
blunderdog's picture

Gotcha.  Thanks for that insight.  Gotta wonder how any skillset like that could survive in the modern global economy, tho.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 20:18 | 3100277 thisandthat
thisandthat's picture

Fun fact: a few years ago, a local (Portugal) company was having so much trouble finding qualified welders, they were willing to take just anyone and train them from scratch, or seek permits to hire abroad - one of their customers was the CERN...

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 20:06 | 3100253 thisandthat
thisandthat's picture

If use a shitty low quality printers, you'll get shitty low quality output, 3d or not. But if you've been in the industry for 18 years, you must know what it can output - ie: critical aerospace industry parts - and that says it all.

If you ask me, 3dp will in the medium/long run be the end of current mega corp globalized industrial/commercial business model, as more and more small businesses and individuals get them, and cheaper, better quality printers and processes become available.

Think when every home that now has 2d printers/dvd recorders will have an ebm printer ( and newer, cheaper alloys ( become replace steel, aluminium, and all anyone will ever need is to download the plans for their next bike/workshop tool/gun/whatever, and quietly print them at home or at the local printshop.

Or ask Polaroid, Kodak, what digital photography did to their supposedly solid-as-a-rock business model...

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 23:56 | 3100798 Ident 7777 economy
Ident 7777 economy's picture


" If you ask me, 3dp will in the medium/long run be the end of current mega corp globalized industrial/commercial business model,  "


PRINT me a Ford 150 with ALL OPTIONS.




Thu, 12/27/2012 - 21:27 | 3100427 Seer
Seer's picture

"While I will buy into much of CHS's thesis above, there MAY be new technologies that might matter, such as "3-D Printing", low natural gas costs and so on that may wind up saving or growing jobs."

There's all sorts of holes in this...

3-D printing is a process (technology spawns processes, that's all).  And, it's an automated process at that.  More automation doesn't mean MORE jobs.  If, however, we went along with this premise then we could state that there would be growth in the consumption of resources (per Jevons Paradox); this would, then, speed our hitting the wall faster.  As far as "low natural gas costs," and assuming we're talking before Jevons Paradox kicks it in the teeth, how is "cost" measured? how affordable?

What is repeatedly missing from most of these "equations" is the notion of scale.  We ASSUME that we're going to have huge economies of scale like we do with things like iStuff.  With the existing debt loads, declining wages etc., I am NOT seeing expanding markets in any non-essentials.  I see, instead, a contraction on economies of scale, or, as I coined years ago: "economies of scale in reverse."

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 17:57 | 3099968 Zap Powerz
Zap Powerz's picture

Our "leaders" never talk about such things.  Is it because they dont want to scare people or because they have no idea what is going on.  Another way of asking this question is, are we being decieved by evil people or are we being led by very stupid people?

A lot of the topics discussed here at ZH just simply are not covered anywhere in the mainstream.  Is this by design or stupidity?

I dont know which worries me more: Living in a nation that is manipulated by evil people or living in a nation led by stupid people.  Either way we're fucked.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 18:21 | 3100011 Citxmech
Citxmech's picture

Our visible leaders are just the bag-men for folks who know very well what's going on.  There's just no way for them to continue to suck the life out of a zero-net-growth (or contracting) economy that's headed toward localization rather than cetralization - so they just kick the can and bleed us for whateer they can get until the host's eventual death - like any other parasite.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 18:30 | 3100029 DaveyJones
DaveyJones's picture

I vote for this theory. It's consistent with history and human nature

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 21:32 | 3100437 Seer
Seer's picture

"The secret plan is that we're going to keep doing exactly what we've been doing, for as long as we can."

- Daniel Quinn, in, "What a Way To Go"

Humans, as are other living things OF nature, are good at deception.   Humans have managed to program themselves with the ultimate means of deception -self-deception- that they require gods and masters.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 18:23 | 3100014 cougar_w
cougar_w's picture

If your leaders are evil then you can probably find good leaders if you look around. Kill the evil guys and see what happens. It often straightens itself out.

If your leaders are stupid then it is because you live it Stupidstan and your entire nation is just stupid, and that's what you have to work with. Get rid of the stupid guys (they can term out of office, it's fine) and the next guy will be just as stupid.

America has become Stupidstan. We really need to get over that.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 19:39 | 3100180 r3phl0x
r3phl0x's picture

Plenty of Evil and Stupid+Evil people here too.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 19:41 | 3100186 blunderdog
blunderdog's picture

      America has become Stupidstan.

I don't think this is true, myself.  I think our major power-institutions are just all run by group decision-making processes, which are FUNCTIONALLY stupid, even when all the members of the decision-making group may be intelligent individually.

Because group-decisions are inherently irrational and unpredictable, the only things any large collective should ever be tasked with "deciding" must be kept so simple as to have only one possible coherent solution.

In other words: there's nothing *complicated* that's simple enough to leave in the hands of politicians and lawyers who are trying to construct a set of rules to follow. 

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 19:57 | 3100235 GMadScientist
GMadScientist's picture

Watch more Maxine Waters and Louie Gomert on C-Span then get back to us.


Thu, 12/27/2012 - 20:57 | 3100367 blunderdog
blunderdog's picture

I didn't say there aren't any stupid people in gummit, I said our decision-making power is necessarily stupid in practice even if all the committee-members are intelligent.

Obviously there are plenty of stupid people *everywhere* you look.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 21:37 | 3100449 Seer
Seer's picture

It's about deception.

Go ahead, see how honest and "smart" you can be while promoting a ponzi system that keeps you, your family and your friends on top of others.

"Because group-decisions are inherently irrational and unpredictable,"

No.  When there are opposing forces lined up then being totally "predictable" can be problematic.  Further, should I, as the head of the household, NOT enjoin others in decisions affecting us all?

I'm afraid that you have over-simplified things in order to pile-on the govt.  NOTE: I only look to defend logic.

Fri, 12/28/2012 - 11:14 | 3101562 blunderdog
blunderdog's picture

I'm not piling on "government."  I'm piling on all institutions which have to make decisions by committee.  Decision-making by committee is not rational or predictable.  It's obvious, really, but it's often ignored.

The simplest example is this: You and friends are going on a picnic.  You try to pick cold-cuts for sandwiches.  The deli guy says he has ham, turkey, and bologna.  You confer for a minute and order a pound of turkey and a pound of bologna.  Then the deli guy says, "Oh, wait, I also have salami."  In light of the new information, you confer with your friends again, and then you change your decision--instead of turkey, you want HAM.

This is neither "rational" nor "predictable" from the perspective of a single mind, but it is perfectly illustrative of how group decision-making works.  In the case of your picnic, it's not a big deal, but when you see the same effect in Congress or management decisions of GE, you come to understand how everything can be so totally fucked even when all the individuals responsible are "doing their best."

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 18:43 | 3100061 nmewn
nmewn's picture

"Another way of asking this question is, are we being decieved by evil people or are we being led by very stupid people?"

A little of both in my extimation.

Exhibit A Rep. Hank Johnson...

Exhibit B Tim "I like that chart" Geithner...

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 18:00 | 3099971 debtor of last ...
debtor of last resort's picture

Mental revolution only comes in after the big fail of all other greed&growth revolutions.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 18:01 | 3099973 Sudden Debt
Sudden Debt's picture

Level Zero society is the onpy solution and that's where we need to go to. If not for the economy, than for all mankind.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 21:43 | 3100457 Seer
Seer's picture

I agree that it's were we need to go, and, there's no doubt that we'll get there (by our own constructive design or by something else), but it's the HOW that's problematic (which is the reason that I NEVER attempt to provide any "solutions").

The target, however, will continue to shift.  The earth's natural forces will change, whether on their own or influenced via human actions.  And when the next glacial period dawns on us...

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 18:15 | 3099974 F. Bastiat
F. Bastiat's picture

Think bigger.  Space is the remaining frontier.

While Newt was criticised for his "moon colony" comments, the more you think about it, the more it makes sense.  The opportunities for energy, communications, and materials innovations associated with space travel and conquest are legion.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 18:36 | 3100040 negative rates
negative rates's picture

Space WAS the final frontier, in the 60's. Now we have to pay the debt and piper!

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 18:45 | 3100054 F. Bastiat
F. Bastiat's picture

For the US government, certainly.  Today's NASA administrator apparently has more important things to do - like islamist appeasement.  So, it's up to the private sector. We'll see, I suppose.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 18:07 | 3099991 bank guy in Brussels
bank guy in Brussels's picture

Charles Hugh-Smith talks about the no-longer-relevant business memes, but

At the end of his article he is trying to sell ...

A book! Ha! A friggin' book!

« My new book ... 10 % to 20 % discounts ... »

Ha! A book! A thing that almost nobody buys or reads anymore ...

Obviously Hugh-Smith is himself stuck in the past ... trying to make money from, of all things, a book!

Man, put your sh*t on the internet and be done with it

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 18:28 | 3100022 cougar_w
cougar_w's picture

He's just making hay while the sun shines. If you could write a book and sell it, you would.

Thu, 12/27/2012 - 19:31 | 3100164 sessinpo
sessinpo's picture

Um, you are bitching about someone trying to make a buck? How about you recognize it and just skip his threads because you know what its about?


Yes, a little intelligence is required but I'm rooting for you. I know you can do it. I applaud anyone trying to make money. I also have the intelligence to skip most of those threads in which I have a fairly good idea of what is coming.


By the way, I haven't read the thread. I am just scanning ridiculous posts.

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!