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Guest Post: Why Our Current Way of Living Has No Future

Tyler Durden's picture


Submitted by James H. Kunstler via Peak Prosperity,

All the sordid and spellbinding rackets working their hoodoo on the financial scene have obscured a whole other dimension of the fiasco that America finds itself in, namely the way we have arranged the logistics of everyday life on our landscape: the tragedy of suburbia.

I call it a tragedy because it represents a sequence of extremely unfortunate choices made by our society over several generations, and history will not forgive the excuses we make for ourselves, nor will it shed a tear for the tribulations we will induce for ourselves by living this way. History may, however, draw attention to our remarkable lack of a sense of consequence in transforming this lovely, beckoning New World continent into a wilderness of free parking. In any case, we’re stuck with what we’ve done and the question naturally arises: what will we do now?

A Confused Public

When you show a photo to any random audience of Americans of some ghastly boulevard of strip malls and big box stores, with the many layers of incoherent signage, and ask them what’s wrong with the picture, they always say “everyplace is the same as every other place… it’s all the same!” That is their chief complaint and it is off the mark. They don’t get it, really.

There are many places and things in the built-by-humans world that are characterized by uniformity or sameness. To the casual observer, the ancient hill towns of Tuscany look virtually identical from 500 meters distance. Montepulciano and Pienza might be as hard to tell apart for the average American tourist as a WalMart in Hackensack from a WalMart in Oxnard. But you will hear very few complaints from tourists about the sameness of the design scheme in the Italian villages: the red tile rooftops on every building, the narrow, twisting streets, the stuccoed masonry walls, the casement windows with their functional shutters, etc. Few American tourists return from Paris grousing that the boulevards were monotonous and gave them a headache. This is because the sameness observed in these foreign places is a uniformity of excellence. The problem in America is different: not just that it’s all the same, but the same miserably low quality. The parking lots are all equally dispiriting, whether in New Jersey or Santa Cruz. The tract housing subdivisions are all equally inauthentic and lacking in conviction. The big box stores are all equally pernicious. The public realm all over the USA is uniformly degraded (or non-existent).

Often these characteristics are summed up as “ugliness, but it’s actually worse than that. The built environment is as immersive for people as water is for fish, and the immersive “ugliness” of most places around the USA is entropy made visible. It indicates not simple carelessness but a vivid drive toward destruction, decay and death: the stage-set of a literal death trip, of a society determined to commit suicide. Far from being a mere matter of esthetics, suburbia represents a compound economic catastrophe, ecological debacle, political nightmare, and spiritual crisis — for a nation of people conditioned to spend their lives in places not worth caring about.

Suburbia is also largely behind our current state of political paralysis because it represents a gigantic legacy of sunk costs, investments that have transformed themselves into liabilities. The unwillingness to acknowledge that transition makes it impossible for us to construct a coherent consensus about what is happening and what we might do about it. We ought to know, for instance, that we face a daunting predicament over our oil supply. It’s no longer cheap. Alas, our drive-in Utopia was designed to run on cheap oil. Hence the clear implication is that suburbia has rather poor prospects going forward. I would actually go further and state categorically that it is a living arrangement with no future.

It is in the nature of sunk costs to provoke in people a psychology of previous investment. Having sunk much of our accumulated collective wealth (our capital) in this living arrangement with no future, we are afraid to let go of it, or even reform it substantially. Instead, The Fear of facing our gigantic losses prompts a retreat into denial and wishful thinking.

The higher the price of oil goes, the more the economy contracts, the more frightened people get — and the more determined to seek solace in magical rescue remedies. Thus, the recent cavalcade of nonsense and propaganda telling the public that shale oil and “drill, baby, drill” will soon turn America into “the next Saudi Arabia,” that we are about to become “energy independent,” that we have “a hundred years of shale gas.” These dishonest memes may be floated by mendacious PR spin doctors in the pay of oil and gas companies, but they wouldn’t be effective if the public itself wasn’t so desperate to hear the “good news” that we can continue living exactly the way we do. The mainstream media falls for it, too, not because they are necessarily paid stooges of the energy companies, but because The Fear affects them as well. 

The Fear, of course, especially affects American homeowners, most of whose homes exist in suburbia, and who have already been battered by five years of lost equity, lost incomes, calls from collection agents, the scary visitations of re-po men, and all the other now-familiar manifestations of everyday financial terror.

The Money Problem

Now, it is coming to be understood that there is an additional deeper relationship between the end of cheap oil and the workings of banking and capital.

As energy “inputs” to an industrial economy decline, the ability to generate wealth declines too — and contrary to conventional “wisdom,” it is not offset by “efficiencies,” high-tech or otherwise. In fact, the decline of true capital accumulation in the USA since the 1970s was offset only by the hypertrophic unnatural enlargement of the financial sector from about 5 percent of the economy to 40 percent today. The sector transformed its original mission of managing and deploying accumulated wealth for purposeful enterprise (a.k.a. investment) to sets of rackets designed to game financial mechanisms (markets, interests rates) in order to get something for nothing. It amounted to a sort of national economic self-vandalism.

Much of that putative “activity” was mere churn-for-fee hanky-panky, the wash-rinse-and-repeat cycles of institutional money managers creaming off profits from the pointless movements of money in and out of accounts. Perhaps even more of the financial sector growth was the “innovation” of new swindles and frauds, the biggest and most blatant being the housing bubble, a massive “control fraud” in which suburban houses were used to collateralize deliberately mispriced bonds (debt obligations) on the grand scale in order for giant firms to collect insurance on their failure, in addition to other fees and profits garnered for manufacturing and selling the damn things.

Much of that story remains shrouded in mystery because no prosecutions were mounted against the gigantic banks involved, there was no effort to pursue the truth or justice, and the statute of limitations clock is rapidly ticking down. What we can say about it is that the rule of law obviously got lost in shuffle, and that the continued absence of the rule of law in banking is a profound threat to civilized life. Computerization was certainly an enabler of these monumental shenanigans, and it produced one startling diminishing return: the inability of banks and governments to accurately report numbers on their balance sheets — hugely ironic given the phenomenal math abilities of computers. We find ourselves now in the unfortunate situation where accounting fraud has become the basic operating system of banking and government — not a very salutary prospect for managing civilized human affairs — while much of the nation’s business has been reduced to a sorry matrix of rackets.

More to the point perhaps is that the diminished accumulation of real wealth due to decreasing inputs of the master energy resource — cheap oil — has impaired the ability of interest to be repaid on the grand scale. There was a correlation between abundant cheap oil and the creation of abundant credit. That relationship is now broken and there are more paper (or computer) claims against wealth than there is wealth, which is no longer growing, to pay back the debt. Hence, the interventions of governments and central banks to offset this ruinous new dynamic and artificially prop up the price of assets, i.e. collateral subject to liquidation at bargain prices by insolvent debtors.

The unintended consequences of this monkey business beats a path straight to currency wars, inflation, loss of legitimacy, political uproar, and knock-on effects easily more disastrous.

The breakdown of debt repayment has in turn crippled the crucial and fundamental operations of compound interest in banking, while the dishonest work-arounds by central banks and governments in the form of interest rate manipulations and bailouts have obscured the truth of what is happening: a general failure of capital formation.

So, What To Be Done?

The bottom line is that our future will be defined as much by capital scarcity as by energy scarcity. They synergize each other’s failures.

Politically, all this mischief has manifested as a campaign to sustain the unsustainable, to keep all the rackets running at all costs, including most particularly the suburban way of life. It is unlikely that we will succeed at that — though it does account for the desperation running through the national zeitgeist these days. Rather, the mandates of reality will compel us to comprehensively reform and re-order all the activities of civilized life, and I think how this will occur can be stated plainly and categorically.

In Part II: The Essential Elements for A Sustainable Future we lay out the reforms that will be most needed in restructuring our way of life to fit the constraints of the natural world we live in. The good news is, it can be done - and done in a way we have great odds of enjoying more than our current blindly gluttonous modality of living. 

What you can count on is that we will return to the traditional mode of assembling human habitats, that is, integral, walkable, urban places on the variable scale of village-town-city with work, commerce, housing, and culture woven tightly together in the recognizable form of a real civic organism, not a simulacrum or a cartoon of one — places that add up to more than the sum of their parts, places worthy of our affection that we can call “home” without irony or regret.


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Wed, 03/06/2013 - 22:35 | 3307354 medium giraffe
medium giraffe's picture

No shit Kunstler.

Wed, 03/06/2013 - 22:39 | 3307366 wee-weed up
wee-weed up's picture

The Bernanke Bubble...

It's got to pop!

Wed, 03/06/2013 - 22:46 | 3307389 ACP
ACP's picture

2,000 years from now, people will be discussing the stupidity of the US and the world as we printed trillions of dollars to lull the masses into ignorance and failure.

Much like historians discuss the failures of the Roman Empire today.

Wed, 03/06/2013 - 22:48 | 3307395 Abraxas
Abraxas's picture

How about 5-10 years from now?

Wed, 03/06/2013 - 22:54 | 3307423 SafelyGraze
SafelyGraze's picture

the historians will, at least, find solace in the archival editions of Zero Hedge that are safely shelved in the libraries for posterity


Wed, 03/06/2013 - 23:03 | 3307439 wee-weed up
wee-weed up's picture

If you believe the Libs/Socialists will not try to alter history by changing, and even erasing, historically opposing views - especially those on-line such as ZH, you are very naive - history proves otherwise!

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 00:09 | 3307635 ACP
ACP's picture

Interesting point...but the real story will emerge over time. The 'Great Keynesian Presidents' are only still considered great leaders because their policies haven't been exposed (Edit: or maybe I should say "accepted") for what they are as yet. When enough time passes that the last 100 years is a 50 minute lecture, a blip in history, people will get to see the failure of endless money printing in all its glory.

Unfortunately, we're all living that nightmare now, as it happens.

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 00:17 | 3307664 wee-weed up
wee-weed up's picture

Hell, the lack of a "real story" is emerging right now!

Just watch the Lib/Socialist controlled MSM Nightly News any night of the week if you have any doubt.

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 00:23 | 3307673 old naughty
old naughty's picture


you're assuming the nightmare will sustain, as it happens?


It may not...whether or not, we heed the messages from out there?

Meteor over Russia; Speedy one closing in on Mars; etc.

Fuku fishes...

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 01:13 | 3307767 Big Slick
Big Slick's picture

Kuntsler has some opinions worth considering, BUT I'M ALWAYS SKEPTICAL of folks who actually admit that they VOTED FOR OBAMA... twice.

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 05:37 | 3308025 Zwelgje
Zwelgje's picture

I'm here for the comments. Twice, holy shit.

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 08:32 | 3308203 SWRichmond
SWRichmond's picture

Agenda 21, bitches.  This is why I despise Kuntsler and his ilk.  Control control control.

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 09:42 | 3308343 dark pools of soros
dark pools of soros's picture

I had the same vibe.. He doesn't talk about living near farms. Just living in a limited fashion

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 11:09 | 3308596 Crime of the Century
Crime of the Century's picture

I will see you and raise you, my friend. I identified this as JHK tripe before I even clicked it. Right again! Good thing I didn't see the usage of "simulacrum" on the main page tease, as then I might have been tempted to think CH Smith. But then Smith isn't a sneering control freak with a little-g god complex. 

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 00:35 | 3307706 Lost My Shorts
Lost My Shorts's picture

I admittedly haven't watched the MSM nightly news in a long time, but ...

The late Peter Jennings who reigned at ABC for decades was openly Republican.  Bryan Williams at NBC always looked like he wanted to give GWBush a back rub and happy ending.  When the future looks back, they will see confused people posting comments in echo chambers about a reality that didn't exist.  Such as your lib/socialist MSM.  There is no such thing.

The MSM tends to mirror the Washington Elite -- fanatically pro-Israel and pro-empire on foreign policy and defense (in line with mainstream Republican views); socially liberal (soft on gays, abortion, school prayer etc.); corporate Republican on economic issues.  The MSM is certainly not Tea Party.  It's on balance corporate Republican.

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 00:54 | 3307737 wee-weed up
wee-weed up's picture

The late Peter Jennings and the current Bryan Williams were/are Lib/Socialist elites and what you say is not only preposterous, it is a bald-faced lie!

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 01:10 | 3307790 Big Slick
Big Slick's picture

"The MSM is certainly not Tea Party"  

The only accurate (though completely obvious) thing that Lost Shorts typed.

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 00:56 | 3307751 ACP
ACP's picture

He may have been conservative, but was not a US citizen until 2003, so maybe he was pro-Conservative, but not Republican until at least 2003.

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 00:47 | 3307734 ACP
ACP's picture

Yeah, that's the problem with the human condition...every time humans create an era of prosperity, the sociopaths and psychopaths always seem to find a way to fuck it up by:

1) Abusing the system created by responsible parties for personal gain,

2) Using the wealth created by said system to demonize the people who created the system in the first place!

Fortunately, evolution is a very powerful and undeniable force and will put an end to the bullshit, but not before a protracted period of pain and suffering. It's coming, just make sure you give no quarter and provide no charity to the infection that destroyed the host.


Thu, 03/07/2013 - 01:01 | 3307766 Ignatius
Ignatius's picture

You might take your thinking a lot further if you lose the solid tin labels and reference frames given to us by others ("Liberal/Socialist/Communist/Conservative", etc.).  Banks and corporations are running the show and left unchecked they will bury us all and gobble up every last bit of excess value in whatever territory they operate.  Who benefits?  Is the system being run for the benefit of the population at large or for those who run it? Follow the fuckin' money....

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 14:03 | 3309244 IdiocracyIsAlre...
IdiocracyIsAlreadyHere's picture

Oh please not another whine about the "Lib/Socialist" media from a fool placing blame on only one side of the false left/right dichotomy.  The whole system is f&*%ed and the so called "left" and "right" consist mostly of morons who believe in it.  As far as the lack of future of suburbia, it is mostly the "right" that refuse to face facts, they of the "drill baby drill" bumper sticker idiocy.  The illusion will end no matter what brand of dillusion you subscribe to.  We are already are immersed in fake money but TPTB have been able to maintain a fake illusion that is is real.  They will not be so much able to create "fake energy" nor sell it as an illusion.

But go on with the scapegoating that your masters taught you...

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 14:03 | 3309245 IdiocracyIsAlre...
IdiocracyIsAlreadyHere's picture

Oh please not another whine about the "Lib/Socialist" media from a fool placing blame on only one side of the false left/right dichotomy.  The whole system is f&*%ed and the so called "left" and "right" consist mostly of morons who believe in it.  As far as the lack of future of suburbia, it is mostly the "right" that refuse to face facts, they of the "drill baby drill" bumper sticker idiocy.  The illusion will end no matter what brand of dillusion you subscribe to.  We are already are immersed in fake money but TPTB have been able to maintain a fake illusion that is is real.  They will not be so much able to create "fake energy" nor sell it as an illusion.

But go on with the scapegoating that your masters taught you...

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 00:35 | 3307705 Burnbright
Burnbright's picture

I have to agree with Wee here ACP. People still talk about FDR like he saved america from the depression, that Wilson didn't do enough to entervine. Or my favorite "historical fact" is that all deflation during the great depression was caused by our money being linked to Gold and not because... you know... banks were commiting fraud!

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 01:23 | 3307774 ACP
ACP's picture

I agree with Wee...just that the masses won't realize it until the massive failure of Keynesian economics bitch-slaps everyone in the face, HARD.

The Glass-Steagall act was eliminated in 1999...crash in 2008. Less than 10 years. It took 16 years for the first massive crash after the creation of the Federal Reserve in 1913. The BIG SHIT is getting closer and closer...

Edit: For those who may not know...the Federal Reserve was actually modeled after the German Central bank, which, with the help of the League of Nations, created the conditions that started WWII:

Federal Reserve Act Main article: Federal Reserve Act

Newspaper clipping, December 24, 1913

The head of the bipartisan National Monetary Commission was financial expert and Senate Republican leader Nelson Aldrich. Aldrich set up two commissions—one to study the American monetary system in depth and the other, headed by Aldrich himself, to study the European central banking systems and report on them.[143] Aldrich went to Europe opposed to centralized banking, but after viewing Germany's monetary system he came away believing that a centralized bank was better than the government-issued bond system that he had previously supported.

In early November 1910, Aldrich met with five well known members of the New York banking community to devise a central banking bill. Paul Warburg, an attendee of the meeting and longtime advocate of central banking in the U.S., later wrote that Aldrich was "bewildered at all that he had absorbed abroad and he was faced with the difficult task of writing a highly technical bill while being harassed by the daily grind of his parliamentary duties".[148] After ten days of deliberation, the bill, which would later be referred to as the "Aldrich Plan", was agreed upon. It had several key components, including a central bank with a Washington-based headquarters and fifteen branches located throughout the U.S. in geographically strategic locations, and a uniform elastic currency based on gold and commercial paper. Aldrich believed a central banking system with no political involvement was best, but was convinced by Warburg that a plan with no public control was not politically feasible.[148] The compromise involved representation of the public sector on the Board of Directors.[149]

Aldrich's bill met much opposition from politicians. Critics charged Aldrich of being biased due to his close ties to wealthy bankers such as J. P. Morgan and John D. Rockefeller, Jr., Aldrich's son-in-law. Most Republicans favored the Aldrich Plan,[149] but it lacked enough support in Congress to pass because rural and western states viewed it as favoring the "eastern establishment".[2] In contrast, progressive Democrats favored a reserve system owned and operated by the government; they believed that public ownership of the central bank would end Wall Street's control of the American currency supply.[149] Conservative Democrats fought for a privately owned, yet decentralized, reserve system, which would still be free of Wall Street's control.[149]

The original Aldrich Plan was dealt a fatal blow in 1912, when Democrats won the White House and Congress.[148] Nonetheless, President Woodrow Wilson believed that the Aldrich plan would suffice with a few modifications. The plan became the basis for the Federal Reserve Act, which was proposed by Senator Robert Owen in May 1913. The primary difference between the two bills was the transfer of control of the Board of Directors (called the Federal Open Market Committee in the Federal Reserve Act) to the government.[2][140] The bill passed Congress on December 23, 1913,[150][151] on a mostly partisan basis, with most Democrats voting "yea" and most Republicans voting "nay".[140]

Wed, 03/06/2013 - 23:56 | 3307608 fourchan
fourchan's picture

post apocalyptic ghost citys in china

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 11:12 | 3308604 Big Slick
Big Slick's picture

I think you meant 'in Michigan'

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 12:32 | 3308930 TheFourthStooge-ing
TheFourthStooge-ing's picture

In the case of Michigan, wouldn't those be pre-apocalyptic ghost cities?

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 15:17 | 3309488 mick_richfield
mick_richfield's picture


Wed, 03/06/2013 - 22:56 | 3307430 true brain
true brain's picture

We're discussing it right now. But now the majority does not care as long as the tv is on. Wait, is that the Simpsons on right now. Got to go. Got to catch this episode. I love that Mr. Burns. He reminds me of the bankster- the bald headed one, who is the head of Goldman sach.

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 11:13 | 3308610 Big Slick
Big Slick's picture

(rubbing his hands) "EX-CELLENT!"

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 11:15 | 3308622 Big Slick
Big Slick's picture

Blankfein reminds me more of the Emperor in Star Wars:

"Everything is proceeding as I have forseen."

Wed, 03/06/2013 - 23:01 | 3307449 kaiserhoff
kaiserhoff's picture

Yes, crab grass and cocker spaniels are the bane of our existence: the source of all woe and misery.  Why didn't I see that before?

Or maybe it's just "breeders."

The gay term for those of us who are just normal, sane, and hopeful enough to have children.

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 05:31 | 3308019 Dr. Sandi
Dr. Sandi's picture

Keep it in your pants and keep it to yourself.

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 06:31 | 3308056 stacking12321
stacking12321's picture

hopeful? more like delusional.

besides, you're already redundant, the world doesn't need more copies of you.

you are not a unique and beautiful snowflake.

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 15:43 | 3309574 IdiocracyIsAlre...
IdiocracyIsAlreadyHere's picture

Nowhere in the post was anything said about "breeders" but I laugh at your using the the words "sane" and "hopeful to have children" in the same sentence.  Having children at this juncture in time is anything but the definition of sanity.  Now someone who really wants children and is willing to put the tremendous amount of time and effort towards creating some sort of future for them while things around you are spriralling downward go for it but from the tone of you post I'd betting against that. 

There are 7 billion people in the world and the number keeps growing.  This is not going to be sustainable much longer.  But go on believing your special little snowflakes will be spared when the sh!t hits the fan.

Wed, 03/06/2013 - 22:52 | 3307410 otto skorzeny
otto skorzeny's picture

I think the stupidity discussion will be based on fueling our vehicles with edible food products

Wed, 03/06/2013 - 22:56 | 3307428 Totentänzerlied
Totentänzerlied's picture

Comparing America to Rome, is insulting ... to Rome.

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 00:09 | 3307640 akak
akak's picture

"Suburbia delenda est!"

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 15:20 | 3309494 mick_richfield
mick_richfield's picture

In pace requiescat.

Wed, 03/06/2013 - 23:11 | 3307488 tickhound
tickhound's picture

If we're still using "money" 2,000 years from now the human race deserves whatever lack of science, discovery, free will and imagination it imposed on itself.

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 00:45 | 3307729 GMadScientist
GMadScientist's picture

Definitely a function of what you mean by "money"...if it's still debt-based credit money like today, then I agree with you, but there's utility yet in those puka shells.

Wed, 03/06/2013 - 23:29 | 3307531 Dr. Engali
Dr. Engali's picture

You really think there will be people around 2000 years from now? We will be lucky to make it through this century.

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 04:57 | 3308004 Parrotile
Parrotile's picture

Making it through this decade is starting to look rather optimistic . . . . .

Wed, 03/06/2013 - 23:37 | 3307561 Mr. Saxby
Mr. Saxby's picture

2000? Try 100. We are the generation that had the choice that future generations will not and we chose self-interest.

Wed, 03/06/2013 - 23:46 | 3307587 Cloud9.5
Cloud9.5's picture

Two thousand years from now, none but a few clerics will even know we existed.

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 01:20 | 3307809 algol_dog
algol_dog's picture

Doubt there will be anything of the likes of our current money system, paper, metal, or otherwise, in 2000 years ...

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 03:18 | 3307941 q99x2
q99x2's picture

This is true if people exist 2,000 years from now.

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 04:58 | 3308006 Parrotile
Parrotile's picture

"It's Life, Jim - but not (quite) as we know it!"

Wed, 03/06/2013 - 22:49 | 3307401 CPL
Wed, 03/06/2013 - 23:08 | 3307475 Freddie
Freddie's picture

Hope and Change. 

Wed, 03/06/2013 - 23:21 | 3307517 Kreditanstalt
Kreditanstalt's picture

All I have left is "change", thanks to Bernanke's "return-free risk"...

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 01:03 | 3307773 Taint Boil
Taint Boil's picture



Yep, and if Romney was president right now there would be herds of unicorns prancing around in the streets pissing gasoline, everyone working, on, and on – JFC. 

Your obsession with a man in the White House who has no real power is crazy. Do you really think another person in the White House would really make a difference? The only “Hope and Change” that I was hoping for was Ron Paul but that didn’t work out. 

I’m working 7 days a week asshole - and you? I could give a rats ass who is in “charge” because times are good here. ROFL. Do you really think it matters who is in charge? Good god you’re an idiot. 

Wed, 03/06/2013 - 22:42 | 3307363 Mercury
Mercury's picture

Far from being a mere matter of esthetics, suburbia represents a compound economic catastrophe, ecological debacle, political nightmare, and spiritual crisis — for a nation of people conditioned to spend their lives in places not worth caring about....

In Part II: The Essential Elements for A Sustainable Future we lay out the reforms that will be most needed in restructuring our way of life to fit the constraints of the natural world we live in. The good news is, it can be done - and done in a way we have great odds of enjoying more than our current blindly gluttonous modality of living.


Speak for yourself, some suburbs are quite nice actually and filled with people who care about them quite a bit.

How about we just lay off the central planning for a while and see what happens?

Wed, 03/06/2013 - 22:44 | 3307382 respect the cock
respect the cock's picture

Well said, Mercury.

Wed, 03/06/2013 - 22:49 | 3307397 otto skorzeny
otto skorzeny's picture

we'll see how friendly everyone is in suburbia if the food runs out in a SHTF situation

Wed, 03/06/2013 - 23:04 | 3307462 Mercury
Mercury's picture

I don't think you'd be better off in a city in that particular circumstance.

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 00:31 | 3307693 Just Ice
Just Ice's picture

referring to stacked on top of each other cramped cracker boxes as "quality" while disparaging spacious, comfy quarters with elbow room between neighbors, (as well as playing the peak oil card as reason for lack of capital formation), detracted from what otherwise could've been a decent article

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 00:01 | 3307622 A Nanny Moose
A Nanny Moose's picture

which are the result of centrally planned 4-alarm cluster fucks. Back to the original question....when do we lay off the central planning?

Wed, 03/06/2013 - 23:10 | 3307481 duo
duo's picture

Here the abandoned big-box stores and strip malls are being ripped up to make way for senior apartments.  These eyesores are everywhere now, and will look like total crap in 20 years.

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 00:47 | 3307735 GMadScientist
GMadScientist's picture

Ssshhhh...getting them all in one place is part of the plan.

Wed, 03/06/2013 - 23:31 | 3307537 CharlesFilson
CharlesFilson's picture

Very true. My Suburban world is walkable, and a bike-ride from my office in nice weather. I run into neighbors and friends at the local pub. My kids go to school a few blocks from my house. Church is down the street. My neighborhood has a big cummunal picnic every 4th of July. The farmers market is a walk away and my wife and I browse there while our kid's little-league team plays on the nearby ball diamond. 

It's not suburbia, it's any mal-investment... like publically funded stadiums that can't break even, urban centers subsidized by suburban property taxes, bus and light rail lines that have to be subsidized.

I like the idea of doing away with Suburbia, with all of us moving into the Urban centers...just don't tell anybody about the idea until I can buy some real estate downtown. 

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 00:29 | 3307690 Piranhanoia
Piranhanoia's picture

Suburbia will do away with itself.  It isn't sustainable so it will collapse.  You rely on pipes and promises and payments and structures designed to fail.  I think that is Jim's point.

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 07:18 | 3308103 spinone
spinone's picture

Its all designed to fail.  Nothing lasts forever.

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 10:18 | 3308436 Gold Dog
Gold Dog's picture


We may live in the same town....North of Chicago!



Thu, 03/07/2013 - 07:55 | 3308144 de3de8
de3de8's picture

Mercury, with you too. If someone wants to live a rat in a cage existence good for them but not me.

Wed, 03/06/2013 - 22:39 | 3307367 zorba THE GREEK
zorba THE GREEK's picture

The Western World is going to need to conserve inorder to survive.


Wed, 03/06/2013 - 23:00 | 3307443 CH1
CH1's picture

It isn't even conservation - it's dealing with reality. Conserving valuable things follows that.

Wed, 03/06/2013 - 22:39 | 3307368 overhere2000
overhere2000's picture

The irony is that the retiring baby boomer generation will probably not be able to get around in cities they designed.

Wed, 03/06/2013 - 22:45 | 3307388 Abraxas
Abraxas's picture

That's not irony - that's justice

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 00:19 | 3307661 Andre
Andre's picture

Neither, actually. A lot of city planning was based on US military planning for the Cold War. Cities were intended to be bomb sponges. A lot of this planning came from post-WW2 damage assessments from Germany (primarily due to similarities in urban construction) and above-ground testing. Seems a lot of industrial equipment (from the early 60's) could survive a 5 psi overpressure, and some things could survive a lot more.

There is a lot of spooky stuff from this era. Continuity of government planning was...interesting.

From a social perspective - imagine being a third grader and being issued dog tags - so your body was more likely to be identified.

And you knew this was the reason.

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 05:34 | 3308020 Dr. Sandi
Dr. Sandi's picture

Yeah, but it made people believe that there would be survivors to identify little Johnny after Springfield was nuked. They were playing us like cheap guitars then and they've never lost the beat.

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 05:10 | 3308005 e-recep
e-recep's picture

this generation-hatred is utterly childish. if you were in their shoes you'd do the same thing. time flows, things change. quit bitching.

Wed, 03/06/2013 - 22:40 | 3307372 Freewheelin Franklin
Freewheelin Franklin's picture

Post-scarcity will save us! 

Wed, 03/06/2013 - 23:01 | 3307448 CH1
CH1's picture

Post-scarcity will save us!

But not from manufactured scarcity, and we have an avalanche of that.

Wed, 03/06/2013 - 22:46 | 3307374 otto skorzeny
otto skorzeny's picture

for most americans suburbia is only affordable because most everything is subsidized by the government. also-if you have young children-watch WALL-E with them-it is cleverly satirical about the path we seem to be on.

Wed, 03/06/2013 - 23:08 | 3307474 Dr. Engali
Dr. Engali's picture

I watched Wall-E with my kids and it was funny how even the youngest one got what the story was really about.

Wed, 03/06/2013 - 23:16 | 3307502 otto skorzeny
otto skorzeny's picture

I know Freddie is going to hate this but I find alot of the newer kid movies  clever and enjoyable even for adults with alot of good messages.

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 00:00 | 3307619 Bingfa
Bingfa's picture

Fantastic Mr. Fox......very, very clever

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 07:57 | 3308151 de3de8
de3de8's picture

Another muppet made.

Wed, 03/06/2013 - 22:41 | 3307375 Abraxas
Abraxas's picture

Correction. There will be future, but the futures markets will cease to exist.

Wed, 03/06/2013 - 22:42 | 3307380 valkir
valkir's picture

Nowadays is more apropriate to say-no cake,Kunstler.

Wed, 03/06/2013 - 22:44 | 3307387 Shizzmoney
Shizzmoney's picture

So today we have.........

- The aftermath of Huge Chavez's death

- The DJIA hitting an all-time high, S&P also near its high, ADP report 198K jobs added

- Yet AAPL down again today.

- A Tea Party Senator filibustering a torture-supporting CIA nominee and the POTUS over civil liberties, while the Democratic establishment mocks him and the GOP establishment, staying in silence.

- IBD/TIPP Economic Optimism Index says that 59% of Americans believe we are in a recession

- Yet Discover reports that the Higher Tax rates have not affected the American Consumer (?)

- The Attorney General of the Unites States says he can't go after big banks because they are basically too big to fail

What a bizarre day in America


Wed, 03/06/2013 - 23:20 | 3307482 Dapper Dan
Dapper Dan's picture

What a bizarre day in America ?

The last few years seem bizarre to me, but today did seem more bizarre than other days.

 Add this....

North and South Korea tensions

North Korea is conducting series of military drills and is getting ready for state-wide war practice of an unusual scale, South Korea says - @Reuters Story metadata:


Wed, 03/06/2013 - 22:48 | 3307390 BLOTTO
BLOTTO's picture

'Order, out of Chaos'


That is what 'they' have in store for us.

Unfortunately, their order will be worse then the least in chaos we are still 'somewhat' free...

Wed, 03/06/2013 - 23:12 | 3307409 Abraxas
Abraxas's picture

Right on the money. The solution (that they come up with after years of pain) IS the (actual) problem, and this is why we are going through pain now.

Wed, 03/06/2013 - 22:53 | 3307415 grunk
grunk's picture

Sounds like Agenda 21.

Wed, 03/06/2013 - 22:57 | 3307434 otto skorzeny
otto skorzeny's picture

any time glenn beck writes a whole book on something like Agenda 21 I am a little leery-but it is an interesting concept.

Wed, 03/06/2013 - 23:14 | 3307499 paint it red ca...
paint it red call it hell's picture

Is Glenn supportive or critical in these writings?

I have never quite been able to figure out just who he is working for. Way too much/too many theatrics to be convincing, either way.

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 05:35 | 3308023 Dr. Sandi
Dr. Sandi's picture

He works for himself.

Wed, 03/06/2013 - 22:58 | 3307438 CuriousPasserby
CuriousPasserby's picture

While energy to drive to the city from the suburbs might not be as cheap, you won't need to drive to the city. With the Internet you can liive and work anywhere. Email your work in, mail your product. No need to leave the suburb.

Wed, 03/06/2013 - 23:14 | 3307495 YC2
YC2's picture

Yes but energy is not just the gas in your car, it is the food that you eat, the clothes that you use, the medicine that may be sustaining your life, etc. being able to work from home is nice, but your lifestyle of worki g from a suburb still entails all your stuff coming from a Walmart that had it all brought in all the way from china, made of fossil fuel based plastics and fertilizers.

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 00:48 | 3307736 Just Ice
Just Ice's picture

Having anything brought in by sea, rail or truck, whether food, clothing, textiles, building materials, appliances, etc., is certainly not exclusive to either suburbia or Walmart for that matter.  World trade, local trade, even home grown fields consume energy in some form or other.

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 00:52 | 3307746 GMadScientist
GMadScientist's picture

Great for paper and electron pushers.

There will be no paper and electron pushers.


Thu, 03/07/2013 - 04:44 | 3307996 Notarocketscientist
Notarocketscientist's picture

Half of all petroleum is used to make shit - not put into gas tanks. 

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 08:00 | 3308158 de3de8
de3de8's picture

Good for you. Live in the city, just don't tell me where I should live. Pretty soon will have no choice in anything.

Wed, 03/06/2013 - 23:02 | 3307450 paint it red ca...
paint it red call it hell's picture

I would argue that the corporate and political powers that have led us to this terminus have and do operate in the essence of, "Do as thou wilt".

To whom is ThaT philosophy of living to be credited? And whose will was the quotation's source intending to serve? By chance the same will Goldman's Blankfein was deferring to?

Wed, 03/06/2013 - 23:10 | 3307484 Trucker Glock
Trucker Glock's picture

"What you can count on is that we will return to the traditional mode of assembling human habitats..."

That's what people do after a civil war.  Well, some people.

Wed, 03/06/2013 - 23:12 | 3307489 Dennis Mack Gyvner
Dennis Mack Gyvner's picture

James H. Kunstler, you're a butthole ... put a cork in it !!

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 01:13 | 3307794 Anusocracy
Anusocracy's picture

He cherishes the tribal setting of the city.

I prefer having choices.

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 04:44 | 3307995 Notarocketscientist
Notarocketscientist's picture

Death penalty for Stupid People. They are a danger to society (and I mean you Dennis)

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 05:36 | 3308024 Dr. Sandi
Dr. Sandi's picture

Very incisive, rational summation of your apparent difference of opinion with some or all of his points.

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 08:03 | 3308161 de3de8
de3de8's picture

Gyvner, +'s to infinity.

Wed, 03/06/2013 - 23:31 | 3307498 JustObserving
JustObserving's picture

Kunstler has been saying the same thing for years.  I generally agree but his characterization of the comment section of ZH is vicious:

The characters who infest their comment section (of ZH) are some of the worst vermin in trolldom.

What is idiotic about him is that he subscribes to the official 9/11 theory completely (he has never heard about Building 7):

The United States had to take Jihad seriously when Jihad hijacked airplanes and knocked down two skyscrapers and one side of the Pentagon.


Thu, 03/07/2013 - 01:02 | 3307769 Nassim
Nassim's picture

Kunstler is an Israelite first and an American a - distant - second.

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 06:42 | 3308066 stacking12321
stacking12321's picture

lol, is that your impartial opinion, "nassim" ?

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 06:33 | 3308057 e-recep
e-recep's picture

kunstler must be a douchebag then.

Wed, 03/06/2013 - 23:19 | 3307509 Kreditanstalt
Kreditanstalt's picture

It is quite possible to support Kunstler's thesis and at the same time be a free market anarcho-capitalist.  I fail to see any reason for all the hatred directed at this writer.

Wed, 03/06/2013 - 23:42 | 3307563 MrPalladium
MrPalladium's picture

" I fail to see any reason for all the hatred directed at this writer."

Except that he has been harping about the ugliness of suburbia for 30 years.

What he really dislikes are all the whites who have fled his multicultural utopia of urban villages where we walk everywhere and get mugged all the time.

It is ethnic struggle pure and simple

I hate suburbia = code phrase for I dislike white gentiles who refuse to sacrifice themselves to my vision of sthetl life for all Americans!

Wed, 03/06/2013 - 23:52 | 3307600 otto skorzeny
otto skorzeny's picture

in Chicago getting mugged is the mildest form of personal assault-not too long ago a woman was hit over the head with a sock full of shit on a bus-Rahm is going to ban "assault socks" now.

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 04:43 | 3307994 Notarocketscientist
Notarocketscientist's picture

All racists deserve to die but ONLY after suffering for 3 years with cancer.

Wed, 03/06/2013 - 23:26 | 3307526 hairball48
hairball48's picture

You could buy about 18 barrels of crude oil for 1oz of gold when I graduated from HS in 1966. Today, an oz of gold still buys about 18 barrels of oil.

So why does everyone say the price of oil is higher? Oil is not priced higher in real money-gold

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 00:07 | 3307637 Dr. Engali
Dr. Engali's picture

I don't understand why people can't grasp that simple fact. Around that time frame a gallon of gas cost two mercury forward to today and those two mercury dimes will still buy a gallon of gas.

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 05:38 | 3308026 Dr. Sandi
Dr. Sandi's picture

Big problem is that the average person has no gold, only FRN brand bogusbux.

As for me, I'm holding my gold, not putting it into the tank.

Wed, 03/06/2013 - 23:27 | 3307527 Sean7k
Sean7k's picture

Well, I guess if we'll all be reverting to village life, we can shut down the big central planning apparatus in DC. Won't need the stock market or Commodities trading board. We could use social credit and our own money. Hmmm, guess that means we won't need banks, financial analysts or hedge funds and algos.

I'm willing to bet the Elites have a different endgame in mind. Probably some big, boring war that kills off enough of the population to cancel the scarcity arguments and bring slavery out in the open. Maybe some pandemics and enviromental disasters to keep it lively. Baby boomers will hardly be a problem if the eugenics programs are brought on board.

Articles like these just lack imagination and some of that good old fashion Rothschild evil.


Wed, 03/06/2013 - 23:35 | 3307532 bsdetector
bsdetector's picture

Kunstler is a good observer and he makes a lot of sense. The part of his plan that I have trouble with is the central planning aspect. Perhaps if it is done on a small scale it really isn't central planning. I'd like to see some of his ideas put into action. The first thing that has to go are zoning laws. Zoning was a way for communities to keep their values intact with additional development. Maybe we should just scrap the value arguments and support survival needs instead. Leadership is sorely needed on this issue. We know what is wrong but no one seems willing to step up to the plate with new ideas... Except Kunstler thank goodness.

Wed, 03/06/2013 - 23:57 | 3307612 Charles Wilson
Charles Wilson's picture

"When you show a photo to any random audience of Americans of some ghastly boulevard of strip malls and big box stores, with the many layers of incoherent signage, and ask them what’s wrong with the picture, they always say “everyplace is the same as every other place… it’s all the same!” That is their chief complaint and it is off the mark. They don’t get it, really."


Fuckin' A, Jack.

Why don't they get it?  Because mebbe one inna thousand realize that the Strip Mall was CREATED by Tax Law.

Simple.  Put in a small tax gift for the builders and they'll come, baby, you can count on it.

Put a tax on yachts and yachts will be built in Bumudabados or Srgdzht but not in the ol' USA.

God!  Do I ever get tired of this story (Not...THIS particular story but...forget it...).


Thu, 03/07/2013 - 00:09 | 3307643 Bingfa
Bingfa's picture

I agree with the whole piece, but I think the whole transformation will be much simpler.

I don't think 80% of Americans will survive, the people that will survive have already adopted and accepted the new world.

Adapt or die.


Thu, 03/07/2013 - 00:57 | 3307756 adr
adr's picture

Yeah, lets all move into crowded cities. Because that works out so well.

The more people you cram into an area, the higher the crime rate, the greater the theft of the lower class by the upper class, and the greater chance of corruption. Look at Chicago, and then drive 80 miles west. The litte farm town probably wouldn't exist if the people were corrupt eaters instead of productive citizens.

Suburbia isn't the problem. I'd argue that suburbs created the middle class. Communities left alone, prospered. It wasn't until the war against the suburbs was waged, by the NAACP and the social justice liberals, that everything fell apart. By paying the ghetto to increase their population, everything wrong with the city spread to the suburbs, pushing the productive citizens further out. In the 1970s the ghetto was a small ring outside most urban centers. By the late 80s the ghetto had infected the first ring and started to push into the second ring.

Today the urban decay has spread thirty miles outside some cities like Cleveland and Detroit. If you want to have some fun, take a drive to Cleveland sometime. Start downtown on Euclid Ave and drive east until you find a neighborhood you'd like to live in. You'll probably drive for an hour until things start to look OK. That is if you make it out of East Cleveland.

Even cities like Shaker Heights are declining into a garbage pit. You either live in a mansion and send your kids to private school, or you live in the expanding ghetto turning what was once a middle class paradise into a neighborhood indistinguishable from East Cleveland.

Our problem isn't suburbia, it is printing money to keep the urban underclass pacified and to keep them multiplying for votes.

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 07:19 | 3308104 negative rates
negative rates's picture

Just wait, if you live long enough you will see that in the end there are only city folk and farmers. Many more of the former I might add.

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 10:06 | 3308415 Bingfa
Bingfa's picture

God bless farmers....

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 01:09 | 3307786 IamtheREALmario
IamtheREALmario's picture

Only low level intellects criticize what is without considering what can be. Besides that, you write like a globalist stooge. Energy is hardly limited to fossile fuels,, or wind ro solar for that matter. If the perfect Europeans had not slaughtered the Indians in their primitive bloodlust, the US would be more culturally diverse and beautiful.

There is a lot of Europe that just plain stinks.

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 01:16 | 3307801 scrappy
scrappy's picture

Yes there are resource problems under our current system.


But isn't that because of the "structure" of the FIRE System?


I say it is.


There are tons of waste and unneeded misalocated sunk capital.


I say bullshit.


Scarcity fits with the agenda 21 etc.


No oil?


Yea right.


Same thinf g about food and water, don't fall for the BS.


Yes there is an ecological crisis, but we need new leadership to adress this.


Go Rand!



Thu, 03/07/2013 - 04:41 | 3307993 Notarocketscientist
Notarocketscientist's picture

Did you get past grade 1 reading class?

He did NOT say NO oil.  He said NO CHEAP oil.  And he is right - fracking and tar sands only make sense with oil at minimum 80 bucks a barrel.

Think before you type you stupid bastard

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 01:20 | 3307811 Gamma735
Gamma735's picture

The elite have an answer for overpopulation, war and famine.

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 04:39 | 3307989 Notarocketscientist
Notarocketscientist's picture

The elites are consolidating wealth - they will live in massive esatates with private armies - and the rest of us will live in gutted strip malls

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 06:50 | 3308077 stacking12321
stacking12321's picture

if only the plebes had the answer to overpopulation (keep it in your pants, stupid! or at least use a condom), there wouldn't need to be war and famine.

but i guess that's not a solution, the infallible pope might not approve.


Thu, 03/07/2013 - 01:42 | 3307841 three chord sloth
three chord sloth's picture

Ahh, Kunstler... always with the same ol' schtick. It all sounds convincing, if you don't think about it too much.

So, suburbs are the problem, huh? Compared to what... the city? Talk about dehumanized decay. Massive income disparity, failed schools, futureless lives spent in self-generated squalor... is that what we're supposed to embrace? Living chock-a-block on top of one another seems to produce defective people -- clutching collectivists who'd rather vote their bellies' full than work, endemic corruption normalized, elites lording it over the plebes, every relationship reduced to predator/prey... yeah, that's a bright future for America.

The biggest problem with the suburbs isn't a suburban problem, it is national -- debt-fueled hyperconsumption as a (dying) replacement for productive work and quality time with the family. Fix that and you fix the suburbs.

Back in the day, the suburban lifestyle functioned fine when combined with the suburban workstyle and the suburban ethos (call it mid-century americana)... until the powers that be decided to "re-engineer" it all away in the name of progress. Too bad our cities cannot make the same claim; even in the best of our post-war boom, squalor was the rule, not the exception, in much of Kunstler's high density paradises. (It's gotten worse, of course, but it was no great shakes back in the "good old days".)

I mean, Jesus H. Christ... could you imagine the mess if everybody in the nation though and acted and voted like the city dweller? Man, that's a dismal thought...

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 03:05 | 3307929 MrPalladium
MrPalladium's picture

Facts can never counter the romance of the sthetl - urban village - in the pale of the settlement. Multi-culturalism destroyed the row-house working class neighborhoods in the big cities like Philadelphia and Cleveland.

We cannot make urban mass transit work because whites are too afraid to ride. The sthetl functioned because of its rigid segregation. And now the descendants of the sthetl want to impose its close quarters existence upon populations that are never likely to coexist in the same neighborhoods.

The dreamers should be content with their high rise condominiums in Manhattan or Miami Beach and leave us alone. The rest of us are too tall and have the wrong accents!!!

Plus we like land, open spaces and guns.

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 04:04 | 3307972 Dane17
Dane17's picture

I agree. What's this guy espousing, we all move to Detroit and start riding the bus?

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 04:38 | 3307988 Notarocketscientist
Notarocketscientist's picture

I think you have completely missed the point.  Where does it say he think cities are the answer?


Thu, 03/07/2013 - 02:53 | 3307922 snblitz
snblitz's picture

Where is a there a shortage of oil?  We seem to be awash in BTUs with more found every day.

Sprawl?  75% of the people live on 3% of the land.  Developed + Rural Residential adds up to 6%.

Developed + Rural Residential + Crop Land = 20%.

The rest is basically as God intended it.

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 03:31 | 3307949 q99x2
q99x2's picture

How about this. A biological accident takes place and kills almost all the humans. The few survivors start over and party like no tomorrow for the next 200 years. Then another human accident takes place. And so on. Just keep doing that over and over again. Wouldn't that be similar. Party, quick decompress then party again. I like that method better. You could make the AlkaSeltzer company a public utility that is a permanent stabilizing force throughout the generations.

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 05:11 | 3308011 Parrotile
Parrotile's picture

With the human population density in Metropolitan areas, combined with relative ease (and speed) of International travel, combined with evolving existing biological threats (and whatever "new" threats Mother Nature is designing "out there"), your scenario is not even slightly far-fetched.

It'll take the survivors a bit longer than 200 years to re-establish, I'd expect.

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 03:37 | 3307953 Radical Marijuana
Radical Marijuana's picture

This article, and most of the comments above, I found to be excessively optimistic, because they do not address the deeper realities regarding WHY! The world is controlled by the people who are the best at being dishonest, and backing that up with violence. That was WHY we ended up with the systems of legalized lies, backed by legalized violence, that control what we do today. Furthermore, on a deeper level, there are these basic facts, which have to have basic resolutions, of some kind or another.

Money is backed by murder. The debt controls depend on the death controls. Any system of alternatives must have as its keystone alternative murder systems, doing death controls. Whatever kinds of other alternative energy systems, etc., that one may propose, the actual lynch pin that MUST hold any alternative systems together are the alternative murder systems, doing alternative death controls.

Right now, we manage to have a still relatively covert best organized gang of criminals, the international banksters, effectively controlling the territorial gangsters we call governments. Those are rapidly on runway paths towards social insanities beyond imagination, since they are based on their past triumphs of being deceitful and destructive, which enabled them to benefit from legalizing their lies, and backing those up with legalized violence.

If we want something that is "sustainable" then have to have sustainable murder systems, doing sustainable death controls. Without that, then nothing else could ever be managed in a sustainable way. Of course, going through the paradigm shifts in militarism, to cope with the existence of weapons of mass destruction, is by far the hardest problem that the human species faces! This artricle, and most of the comments above, were grossly superficial because they simply by-passed, or ignored that crucial problem. However, the REAL FUTURE will be determined by that REAL ISSUE!

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 07:24 | 3308113 stacking12321
stacking12321's picture

the world is controlled by one who controls their own mind.

who controls your world?

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 04:45 | 3307973 AgentScruffy
AgentScruffy's picture

I agree with "Three chord sloth." What a bonehead this writer is. He seems infatuated with his own prose + there's a considerable bit of nonsense here. So old-world European villages are the epitome of excellence, and they came about that way? Please. The writer is confusing "old-school charm" with "excellence." Many of these villages were historically rooted in stubborn attitudes and failure to rise above poverty, but they can appear "charming" to us. (Read Edward Banfield's "The Moral Basis of a Backward Society.") And don't forget much of what is "charming" in Europe can't be said to have arisen solely from "excellence" --take the many architectural and artistic triumphs made possible by the historic Catholic Church--an entity that was dripping in blood, torture, corruption, and unspeakable evil.

I lived in Europe for 8 years. Has this guy ever been to there? News alert: Europe has its fair share of suburbs--thousands upon thousands of suburban areas-- and grim, dingy apartment buildings. And yes, Europe has delightful historic architecture and villages filled with old world charm. But note: we often find what's different and even exotic to be "charming." (Accordingly, Europeans are often charmed by seeing for the first time American cowboys, ranches, etc..)

When I lived in Paris, I didn't find the cigarette butt-laden, odorous Metro to be "charming" but it was very old school. When I lived in Naples I didn't find the fact that the roads were so narrow people often drove on the sidewalks, and yes, would hit people, "charming." Nor was the lack of reliable health care "charming" and "excellent." Nor the rampant corruption. People hanging their laundry out on ropes crossing the street at high levels --charming, not "excellent." Garbage sometimes piled up high in the streets: not charming, excellent, or sustainable. More recently, many people dying in France during a heat wave, inside their "charming" un-airconditioned homes: not "excellent."

I love Europe --and have travelled widely there in addition to living there for 8 years. But missing from this article: the gigantic fact that "charming," "excellent" Europe is largely an unsustainable flop.

I detect a bit of the smug, armchair Rousseuaian in this writer along with the oh-so-trendy conflating of progress with sin. Let's flagellate ourselves. Let's indulge in collective guilt for all of our accomplishments (it feels so good to wallow!). As penance, let's all go back to being noble savages, and live "authentically," with no high-speed Internet, air-conditioning, trading in our cars for bicycles etc. You first, pal.

Equating all of suburbia to dystopia is just plain stupid. Individuals make decisions. These decisions lead to careers. They lead to relationships. They lead to businesses being created or destroyed. These decisions shape political trends. They help determine where we wind up living, and whether we live responsibly or irresponsibly and buy houses we can or cannot afford.  They shape whether or not we make radical changes in our individual lives when we need to or want to.

So: Let him who despises surburbia not live there. I suspect that quite a number of individuals trapped in urban blight wish they could live in suburbia --so if the writer does, maybe he can give his pad up for a worthy cause.

This "one-size-fits-all" analysis is ironically what elitist politicians and bureaucrats do.

4 thumbs down.

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 05:52 | 3308033 Dr. Sandi
Dr. Sandi's picture

The tunnel vision exhibited in this comment section really helps sum up why we are all; as a red, white and blue, patriotic, freedom loving nation; so totally fucked.

We are fucked because we can't see past our own copulating genitals.

There are too many brilliant commentators here who are so screwed into the dominant paradigm that they couldn't be removed with a gallon of WD40 and the Jaws of Life.

When everybody is through doing a self colo-rectal exam, let's talk about how we're so terrified of the truth that we'll not only lie to ourselves, but try to convince other people of the bullshit too.

There's a meteor headed toward our way of life and our entire reality. The majority of comments here would have you believe that it's important to know whether it's made of ice or nickel or iron, or maybe gold.

No, IT'S A FUCKING METEOR and it doesn't make a damned bit of difference whether it'll spread gold and our guts all over the countryside when it slams into us.

Go ahead, abuse or kill the guy who gives you the bad news. And ignore it all if you want to. It's your ass.

In fact, please ignore it. The more idiots who are eaten by street gangs and rogue cops when this shitfest comes to an end, the better.

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 09:38 | 3308330 shovelhead
shovelhead's picture


But that pudgy guy mowing his tidy suburban lawn didn't create that meteor.

Unless he worked at Goldman Sachs or JPM.

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 07:08 | 3308044 Black Markets
Black Markets's picture

North American cities are laid out very differently to European ones.


If you look at google maps and check out New York, then check out London you will see what I mean. But New York is unique, a much more representative US city is Houston.

European cities grew slowly and organically around hills, rivers, woods and outcrops. US cities were quickly and deliberately laid out on square lots.

Because the US has bigger lots than Europe Americans have bigger houses and bigger gardens, which means everything is more spread out and many things are further away.

In the US you typically have a straight as an arrow freeway/highway with the large square lots either side developed for a specific use, housing, retail, industrial, etc, etc.

In Europe you tend to have retail/industrial centers in places where the geography suits them and roads radiate out in a web to surrounding retail and industrial centers, curving around hills and rivers along the way (because the roads were laid down 2000 years ago by the Romans, they were laid by hand and the workers took the path of least physical resistance).

All of this is just observational differences, but the one thing that is a real difference is that most US towns and cities do not function unless everybody has a car. European towns and cities pre-date cars. So you can walk to a shop to buy milk and bread, the retail is more distributed amongst the residential area's whereas in the US retail is centralized and across a freeway in a different former BLM block which has been zoned as retail.

In the US you can drive 2, 3 sometimes 5 miles through residential areas without passing a single shop, in Europe where the layout predates the car this is impossible as there are small retail outlets within walking distance of almost every house (unless you live on a big farm).

The one place in the US that feels like Europe is New York. I go to New York and I can walk to a shop and pick up some bread and cheese. This is because New York was where Europeans made landfall on the new world. It is a strange place, because it is laid out on a North-South grid but you don’t need a car. There is no areal zoning. Residential, retail and industry are all mixed up and co exist and guess what? It still works.


Zoning land allowed America to rapidly build many large factories and industrial complexes and utilize economies of scale without objection from residents, but with zoning comes great distance, and for that you need cars.


You cannot undo what you have, and it has served extremely well throughout the age of cheap oil.


But it is no coincidence that the mispriced collateral of residential zones during a period of higher gasoline prices is what ultimately has thrown the country on a path of inescapable indebtedness and currency debasement.


Thu, 03/07/2013 - 06:43 | 3308061 22winmag
22winmag's picture

Gridlock is good. There is nothing better than to see a bunch of America-hating, 2nd Amendment hating, communist assholes stuck and flailing about in a lake of molasses, trying to fundamentally change our way of life.


"You don't understand what it takes to protect those freedoms. That's my job, Stanley, to protect your way of life at all costs."

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 06:35 | 3308063 Fedaykinx
Fedaykinx's picture

there is far more interesting dialogue in the comments here than contained in the article, which as far as i'm concerned is mostly a bunch of neomalthusian horseshit.

however, regardless of the actual cause, suburbia or what-the-hell-ever, as someone who lives in the sticks... fuck yeah let's see who can survive food scarcity, motherfuckers.  bring it on.

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 07:27 | 3308116 Colonial Intent
Colonial Intent's picture

Capitalism is not and can never be sustainable.

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 08:18 | 3308135 socalbeach
socalbeach's picture

Here's a graph of oil (black) vs gold (yellow) going back to 1968, log scale:

As others pointed out above in the case of silver, you can see they've tracked each other closely. So unless we're also running out of gold (and silver), it looks like oil's price rise is mostly due to excessive money printing, ie, dollar debasement. 



Thu, 03/07/2013 - 08:07 | 3308168 de3de8
de3de8's picture

Kunstler, just another ahole with an opinion. Same a fly sh-t.

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 08:36 | 3308205 DangerClams
DangerClams's picture

Let's talk about how lovely the neighborhoods are in Europe - the site of two World Wars and genocide on unprecedented historical levels.

Yeah.  Let's all sign up to re-model America into Euro-hoods with cute corner stores that sells baguettes and shit.  That should fix everything.  How's the EU working out, by the way? 

The larger point about spending now and letting someone else worry about how to pay for it, if we indeed cared about that at all, is still valid.  To some degree, we're all complicit in the political madness of buying things we cannot afford, knowing that in the short term there are zero negative consequences for those choices.  That's how 535 rocket scientists stay in office year after year, because it costs them nothing to spend trillions on things they don't have to worry about paying for - they only have to worry about beng re-elected.

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 09:04 | 3308242 NuYawkFrankie
NuYawkFrankie's picture

The name says it all.

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 09:40 | 3308340 Atticus Finch
Atticus Finch's picture

I travel around the country on projects and consultants refer to a section of any city as over in "Anywhere USA". In some parts of these same towns, there are charming sections, usually built in the first part of the 20th century.

The city of St. Louis is proposing the implementation of two street car lines. In the late fifties to early sixties, and in the move to suburbanization, the street car lines in St. Louis were dismantled when there was a vibrant city life. St. Louis was the tenth largest city in the country then. Now, it's the fifty first. The trouble with building a new street car line in the city now is that there is no "there" there anymore.

The auto and oil industry were behind the demolition of America's cities beginning sixty years ago.

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 09:46 | 3308357 orez65
orez65's picture

Your interminable babbling almost put me to sleep.

Root cause of our financial problems is FRAUD: fiat money and fractional reserve banking.

A real money system takes care of itself.

Interst rates set by the market prevent malinvestments.

The Soviet Union could not even set the price of bread correctly.

Yet the Fed claims to be able to correctly set the price of money, aka interest rates.

So please, don't bother with your "Part II", I'm sure that it'll just be some liberal BS.

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 10:21 | 3308438 Floodmaster
Floodmaster's picture

Just a reminder :: The U.S. dollar is still the world's reserve currency, printing money is an international sport

Thu, 03/07/2013 - 09:52 | 3308375 shovelhead
shovelhead's picture


Another 'progressive' academic genius who will reorder society to his enlightened vision of diversity, sustainabilty and mobility.

Like Detroit or the 'charming' banlieus of Paris.


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