Guest Post: (Un)Paving Our Way To The Future

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by James H. Kunstler via Peak Prosperity blog,

You can’t overstate the baleful effects for Americans of living in the tortured landscapes and townscapes we created for ourselves in the past century. This fiasco of cartoon suburbia, overgrown metroplexes, trashed small cities and abandoned small towns, and the gruesome connective tissue of roadways, commercial smarm, and free parking is the toxic medium of everyday life in this country. Its corrosive omnipresence induces a general failure of conscious awareness that it works implacably at every moment to diminish our lives. It is both the expression of our collapsed values and a self-reinforcing malady collapsing our values further. The worse it gets, the worse we become.

The citizens who do recognize their own discomfort in this geography of nowhere generally articulate it as a response to “ugliness.” This is only part of the story. The effects actually run much deeper. The aggressive and immersive ugliness of the built landscape is entropy made visible. It is composed of elements that move us in the direction of death, and the apprehension of this dynamic is what really makes people uncomfortable. It spreads a vacuum of lost meaning and purpose wherever it reaches. It is worse than nothing, worse than if it had never existed. As such, it qualifies under St. Augustine’s conception of “evil” in the sense that it represents antagonism to the forces of life.

We find ourselves now in a strange slough of history. Circumstances gathering in the home economics of mankind ought to inform us that we can’t keep living this way and need to make plans for living differently. But our sunk costs in this infrastructure for daily life with no future prevent us from making better choices. At least for the moment. In large part this is because the “development” of all this ghastly crap — the vinyl-and-strandboard housing subdivisions, the highway strips, malls, and “lifestyle centers,” the “Darth Vader” office parks, the infinity of asphalt pavements — became, for a while, our replacement for an economy of ecological sanity. The housing bubble was all about building more stuff with no future, and that is why the attempt to re-start it is evil.

Sooner rather than later we’ll have to make better choices. We’ll have to redesign the human habitat in America because our current environs will become uninhabitable. The means and modes for doing this are already understood. They do not require heroic “innovation” or great leaps of “new technology.” Mostly they require a decent respect for easily referenced history and a readjustment of our values in the general direction of promoting life over death. This means for accomplishing this will be the subject of Part II of this essay, but it is necessary to review a pathology report of the damage done.

Launching Nirvana

I have a new theory of history: things happen in human affairs because they seem like a good idea at the time. This helps explain events that otherwise defy understanding, for example the causes of the First World War. England, France, Russia, Germany, and Italy joined that war because it seemed like a good idea at the time, namely August of 1914. There hadn’t been a real good dust-up on the continent since Waterloo in 1814. Old grievances were stewing. Empires were both rising and falling, contracting and reaching out. The “players” seemed to go into the war thinking it would be a short,  redemptive, and rather glorious adventure, complete with cavalry charges and evenings in ballrooms. The “deciders” failed to take into account the effects of newly mechanized warfare. The result was the staggering industrial slaughter of the trenches. Poison gas attacks did not inspire picturesque heroism. And what started the whole thing? Ostensibly the assassination of an unpopular Hapsburg prince in Serbia. Was Franz Ferdinand an important figure? Not really. Was Austria a threat to France and England? It was in steep decline, a sclerotic empire held together with whipped cream and waltz music. Did Russia really care about little Serbia? Was Germany insane to attack on two fronts? Starting the fight seemed like a good idea at the time — and then, of course, the unintended consequences bit back like a mad dog from hell.

Likewise America’s war against its own landscape, which got underway in earnest just as the First World War ended (1918). The preceding years had seen Henry Ford perfect, first, the Model T (1908), and then the assembly line method of production (1915), and when WW I was out of the way, America embarked on its romance with democratic motoring. First, the cities were retrofitted for cars. This seemed like a good idea at the time, but the streets were soon overwhelmed by them. By the mid-1920s the temptation to motorize the countryside beyond the cities was irresistible, as were the potential profits to be reaped. What’s more, automobilizing the cities made them more unpleasant places to live, and reinforced the established American animus against city life in general, while supporting and enabling the fantasy that everyone ought to live in some approximation to a country squire, preferably in some kind of frontier.

The urban hinterlands presented just such a simulacrum of a frontier. It wasn’t a true frontier anymore in the sense of civilization meeting wilderness, but it was a real estate frontier and that was good enough for the moment. Developing it with houses seemed like a good idea. Indeed, it proved to be an excellent way to make money. The first iteration of 1920s car suburbs bloomed in the rural ring around every city in the land. An expanding middle class could “move to the country” but still have easy access to the city, with all its business and cultural amenities. What a wonderful thing! And so suburban real estate development became embedded in the national economic psychology as a pillar of “progress” and “growth.”

This activity contributed hugely to the fabled boom of the 1920s.  Alas, the financial shenanigans arising out of all this new wealth, along with other disorders of capital, such as the saturation of markets, blew up the banking system and the Great Depression was on. The construction industry was hardest it. Very little private real estate development happened in the 1930s. And as that decade segued right into the Second World War, the dearth continued.

When the soldiers came home, the economic climate had shifted. America was the only industrial economy left standing, with all the advantages implied by that, plus military control over the loser lands. We already possessed the world’s biggest oil industry. But after two decades of depression, war, and neglect, American cities were less appealing than ever. The dominant image of city life in 1952 was Ralph Kramden’s apartment in The Honeymooners TV show. Yccchhh. America was a large nation, with a lot of agricultural land just beyond the city limits. Hence, the mushrooming middle class, including now well-paid factory workers, could easily be sold on “country living.” The suburban project, languishing since 1930, resumed with a vengeance. The interstate highway program accelerated it.

The Broken Promises of Suburbia

It seemed like a good idea at the time. Country life for everybody in the world’s savior democracy! Fresh air! Light! Play space for the little ones! Nothing in world history had been easier to sell. Interestingly, in a nation newly-addicted to television viewing, the suburban expansion of the 1950s took on a cartoon flavor. It was soon apparent that the emergent “product” was not “country living” but rather a cartoon of a country house in a cartoon of the country. Yet it still sold. Americans were quite satisfied to live in a cartoon environment. It was uncomplicated. It could be purchased on installment loans. We had plenty of cheap energy to run it.

It took decades of accreting suburbia for its more insidious deficiencies to become apparent. Most noticeable was the disappearance of the rural edge as the subdivisions quickly fanned outward, dissolving the adjacent pastures, cornfields, and forests that served as reminder of the original promise of “country living.” Next was the parallel problem of accreting car traffic. Soon, that negated the promise of spacious country living in other ways. The hated urban “congestion” of living among too many people became an even more obnoxious congestion of cars. That problem was aggravated by the idiocies of single-use zoning, which mandated the strictest possible separation of activities and forced every denizen of the suburbs into driving for every little task. Under those codes (no mixed use!), the corner store was outlawed, as well as the café, the bistro, indeed any sort of gathering place within a short walk that is normal in one form or another in virtually every other culture.

This lack of public amenity drove the movement to make every household a self-contained, hermetically-sealed social unit. Instead of mixing with other people outside the family on a regular basis, Americans had TV and developed more meaningful relations with the characters on it than with the real people around them. Television was also the perfect medium for selling redundant “consumer” products: every house had to have its own lawnmower, washing machine, and pretty soon a separate TV for each family member.  The result of all that was the corrosion of civic life (a.k.a “community”) until just about every civic association except for school oversight (the fabled PTA) dwindled and faded. And the net effect of all that was the stupendous loneliness, monotony, atomization, superficiality, and boredom of suburbia’s social vacuum. It was especially hard on the supposed greatest beneficiaries, children, who, having outgrown the play space of the yard by age eight, could not easily navigate the matrix of freeways and highways outside the subdivision without the aid of the “family chauffeur,” (i.e. Mom).

Cutting Our Losses & Moving On

A couple of  points about the current situation in suburbia ought to be self-evident. One is that our predicament vis-à-vis oil, along with cratering middle class incomes, suggests that we won’t be able to run this arrangement of things on the landscape a whole lot longer. The circulatory system of suburbia depends on cars which run on liquid hydrocarbon fuels. Despite the current propaganda (“drill, baby drill”), we have poor prospects of continuing an affordable supply of those things, and poorer prospects of running the US motor vehicle fleet by other means, despite the share price of Tesla, Inc. The second point is how poorly all suburbia’s components are aging — the vinyl-clad houses, the tilt-up strip malls, the countless chicken shacks, burger stands, and muffler shops, all the generic accessories and furnishings that litter the terrain from sea to shining sea. There are a lot of reasons these things now look bad (and lose value) but the chief one is that most of them are things nobody really cares about.

In Part II: A Better Human Habitat for the Next Economy, we explore the necessary behaviors we'll need to adopt if we hope to have any prosperity in the years ahead. What seemed like a good idea at the time — through the 20th century and a little beyond — is looking more like an experiment that failed. Our sunk costs in it promote a tendency to agonize over it. I propose that we just give up the hand-wringing and prepare to cut our losses and move on. The reality of the situation is that the response to all this will arise emergently as circumstances compel us to change our behavior and make different (and we should hope) better choices. That is to say, don’t expect programmatic political action to change this, especially from remote authorities like federal or state governments. We will reorganize life on the ground because we will have to.

Click here to read Part II of this report (free executive summary; enrollment required for full access).

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
nmewn's picture

What this country needs is more ADA ramps & concrete sidewalks in our national parks! ;-)

Skateboarder's picture

<-- Taco Bell in Yosemite Valley

<-- Taco Bell in Yosemite Valley

kaiserhoff's picture

What central planning Debbie Downer perpetrated this POS?

Enough about New Joisy and yes it is that ugly.

Atlas_shrugging's picture

shorting Free Parking as soon as possible.

gmrpeabody's picture

Does this mean you won't be taking that road trip with us next summer...?

NOZZLE's picture

No kidding,  30 clams a night to park my sled at a hotel in the Keys.

jwoop66's picture

Exactly.  I love it when I hear people rag on suburbia.  Whats the alternative?  European(asian) apartment complexes?  South american or Indian shantytowns?   The people are there.  The people need shelter.   The American suburbs are truly one of the most amazing creations for human habitation yet.   The problem with this country is not suburbs; its our government, who would like to pack us all into apartments like cattle, and their media and education system that are turning us into degenerates.

tarsubil's picture

Most American cities could be made beautiful simply by planting some seeds.

mkhs's picture

Or maybe the manor lords in Connecticut want the countryside green and the serfs corralled in the cities.

Jumbotron's picture

Are you on crack jwoop66 ??

The suburbs was part and parcel of the Big Lie of the American Dream.  It was the utopian vision that you could have a little piece of a more rural life.... (rural as defined as being away enough from the city but not necessarily in the boonies with the yahoos and the rednecks in their trailor homes) .....and yet have relatively easy and cheap access to the city with your automobile which was propagandized by the auto industry as a symbol of freedom, youth and vitality.

And you seemed to buy that bullshit hook, line and sinker.  Well.....I can't be too hard on you I guess.  I bought it too.  But at mind is still pliable enough to learn and to see through the bullshit and in fact CALL bullshit when I see bullshit.

Unfortunately for you still like your fantasies topped with a heaping helping of bullshit flavored Kool-Whip.

Enjoy while you can.  Reality is at your doorstep.  She's a bitch.....and she's ready and willing to slap you in the face.

jwoop66's picture

I think maybe it is you that is drinking from the big smiling pitcher. 

I own my own house in the suburbs.  Yes, I pay property taxes, which can be construed as permanent rental, but aside from that I made a mutual agreement with the bank for them to finance me to eventually own my own property.   I have the deed and the property rights. It is my little chunk of the earth.  If anyone infringes on that(govt is the only one who might[govt always seems to be close to the root of the problem]) I have legal recourse and natural right to protect both myself and my property.   I am responsible for the upkeep.   I can let it go to shit or put up the proverbial white picket fence.  It is my choice on my property.  I can choose to sell it at any time and profit from the sale.  Yes, I know- then the govt would want a chunk of the profits, but that is a different problem that surely needs to be addressed.

If I lived in the big apartment complex, I would truly be a slave to not only the govt, but my landlord. If I decided I would like more living space I would be shit out of luck; or at the mercy of the landlord.   In my house, if I decide to make improvements, I just need to grab the wallet and go to Home Depot. Since I am knowledgeable in the arts of home improvement, I just need to get the materials and start swinging a hammer.  

THAT is my reality. 

The cities are sewers of groupthink and parasitism.

Jumbotron's picture

And the suburbs are not sewers as well for groupthink ?

Holy shit.....the suburbs since the 50's has been nothing but a groupthink fantasy.   Along with the whole concept of the middle class.  Both of which are coming to an end.  Just like a huge aircraft will take awhile for the input controls to translate to actual action and turnaround.....but that turn has already begun.  It began when we reached peak output of oil in the 70's.  Now we are reaching peak cheap energy of any sort as evidenced by the scraping of the toilet bowl known as shale oil and fracking.  Not to mention Global Wage Arbitrage being utilized by Multinational Corporations to find the cheapest labor damn to all their workers here at home. least you did stumble onto the truth....even though you did fumble the ball at the end.   You pay property tax.....therefore you are a renter.  That's ALL you ever will be.  The government owns your land and will take it away and force you off that property with the implicit understanding that force can and will be used, if necessary, if you ever fail to pay your property taxes for a certain length of time.  I has happened to me.

I too have A....not mine....A piece of earth.  A 5 acre farm out in the boonies.  Can't even call it the exurbs, much less the suburbs.   It is not mine in two different ways.  I pay property tax therefore it is the governments.  Secondly.....I did not create the earth underneath me.  God did.  Therefore it is not mine a second way.  And I could make a hand waving argument that it is not mine in a THIRD way seeing as how this land used to be Native American which was stolen without due compensation.

Sorry to bust your fantasy......but you don't own shit.  Never have....never will.   By the way.....there is no Santa Claus and there are no Unicorns.  And even if there were.....they would not shit Skittles either.

jwoop66's picture

you're angry.  That is understandable. So am I.  LIMITED GOVERNMENT is the answer.  And a return to the US Constitution of course.  Hopefully that can be achieved through the ballot box.   I don't know...

starfcker's picture

Jwoop, where do people get these ideas? you pay property taxes so that mesns you never own anything? i thought you did a pretty good job explaining things. seems to be a huge influx of kids on here in the last month or so, who i am just realizing are the first generation of politically correct, brainwashed regurgobots we have ever seen. lord help us. truly scary how much they think they know, and how much they hate the system that would have allowed them to live prosperous lives. keep up the good work. and i do think house elections can fix this. 

Jumbotron's picture

starfcker......I am not a kid.....not at 50.

I cannot be politcally correct because I do not participate at all in the political process at all since the 90's.  You guys can have fun with that.

And do not own shit.  If you pay property tax the government CAN and WILL by means of deadly force if necessary come and take your house and/or property away and sell it to the highest bidder.

You would truly own if you had the right and the choice of paying for government services or the right and choice of NOT paying for government services such as schools, fire and police protection, trash pick up and sewer....etc.

I live in the boonies.  I am 1/2 mile from the dump.  I homeschool my kids.  I have my own deepwater well and a huge septic system.  I am off-grid.  I help our neighbors grade our dirt road.  There is even a sheriff that lives a couple of houses down.

Yet I pay for all the above......and none of which I need.  Even trash....I can haul my own.

Yet I do not have the Freedom nor the Liberty to refuse payment of taxes to support services I do not need.  Yet if I REFUSE payment of services I do not need I will have my house and property taken from me.

Because you don't own shit.....if it can be taken away from you by the power of State through deadly force if need be.

What do you NOT understand about this?

starfcker's picture

jumbo, sorry there, not particularly aiming at you. you've been posting for quite a while and i enjoy your posts. i'm no fan of the politically correct myself. if this were a newer thread i would be glad to discuss a few things with you, we will have plenty of other opportunities. i"m going to pay closer attention to who else is in a thread before letting loose. you just got mowed down by friendly fire. "i thought they was bad guys". catch you next time

Jumbotron's picture seem a decent fellow......but you either don't know your history very well.....or you have forgotten it.

We only received the Consitution AFTER we said FUCK YOU to our government in England and we KILLED more of them than they of us.  The ballot did not give us freedom......the bullet did.  Bloodshed did.

That's the way freedom has ALWAYS been ultimately achieved.......and nothing.....even to this day.......has changed.

nmewn's picture

Dammit, its sooo hard to choose!

Ok, I'll go for Taco Bell in Yosemite Valley ;-)

0b1knob's picture

"free parking is the toxic medium of everyday life in this country"

Yeah sure, just as soon as we start to charge for parking everything wil become hunky dory

What a crock of central planning socialist bullshit.

cape_royds's picture

If you had bothered to read the article, you would have found a very strong criticism of central planning. Examples:

--over-rigid centrally planned zoning rules

--vast centrally planned superhighway system

Suburban sprawl would not exist, without the constant help of top-down anti-market over-centralized decision making.

JohnG's picture

Part II <----------------

Part II <----------------


We know full well how far gone it is.  And it is bad.

Trying to "SELL" us a better future are you?

Fuck You.


smlbizman's picture

as long as we have man involved it will never is not the ideas or the system per say, but the corrupt fucks that hi-jack the system and ideas...

Manthong's picture

"If you had bothered to read the article, you would have found a very strong criticism of central planning." --  +1

Don't forget "single-use zoning"

The whole F'n thing is ANTI-Central Planning and this guy is all about local communities, local sustainability and local control.

..and for crissakes, he did not advocate for parking space extortion, he just implied what a motivator it was for the urban planners and auto industry (which, by the way brought you all of those kind folks at the UAW whose pensions are now FULLY FUNDED by YOU.)

LetThemEatRand's picture

"vast centrally planned superhighway system"

Yeah, fuck the interstate highway system.  Everyone knows that has been a killer to free commerce.

hedgeless_horseman's picture



I have read all of Kunstler's books, my favorite being, The Geography of Nowhere, which I have recommended on ZH in the past.  As with most issues, it is important to keep separate the quality of the author's description of the problem (excellent) with his proposal/prediction of a solution/future.  Both are very interesting and informative, but his views of the future do not necessarily follow from his review of the past and present.  Kunstler is intellectually honest about his lack of predictive powers, although still adamant in his arguments. 

Keep the fiction separate from the non-fiction and enjoy the reading. 
You will likely not agree with everything he writes, but should agree that
it is good that people are writing and actually published on these issues.

The sad thing is, I fear, in the direction we are all heading there may be no good social solutions, only good personal responses.

MrPalladium's picture

Whenever I read Kunstler I cannot help but conclude that he yearns for the "meaning" of life in the Sthetl back in the Pale of The Settlement in Eastern Europe. That isn't going to work for those of us who are basically two or three generations removed from the farm and unused to the intense social control of the crowded (and many would argue, oppressive) life in the ethnic village of traders and merchants ever fearful of rural mobs either withholding grain or attacking over what the villagers assume to be imagined grievances. The driver behind Kunstler's discontent is primitive and atavistic. 

Jumbotron's picture

Then you don't really understand Kunstler.  He understands that primitive is the true nature of mankind's existence.  We will go back there.  We already have made the turn.  He just isn't going to bullshit anyone about the matter.

He'll let you do that on your own.

ZH Snob's picture

I'm bullish on Jesus.

Anusocracy's picture

The development of a tree occurs in order to create more trees.

Sufficiently advanced technology could design 'trees' that function as dwellings and provide electrical power.

Just design it to provide what is needed for habitation.

nmewn's picture


Like BitTree ;-)

(Sorry, I really can't help myself sometimes)

gmrpeabody's picture

Genetically modified trees now...?

That's progressive, and will also establish a whole new subculture of demonstrators as well.

France will be beside herself.

hoos bin pharteen's picture

Works for the elves in Lothlorien!

Parrotile's picture

OK as long as these "trees" are not as invasive as Eric Drexler's view of his nanotechnologically-based artificial plant life (which essentially out-competed the "natural" plants in a relatively few generations).

How about promoting an alternative architecture: How about the "Traditional Dutch Windmill" for starters. Visually appealing, accommodation space (for residence or employment), and the potential to harvest at least some wind power.

Probably not as "efficient" as the current visually un-appealing "Wind Turbines" popping up everywhere, but far, far less intrusive, and possibly a far more useful (as in multi-use) structure.

buttmint's picture

nmewn +10 for spot-on observation about the stupid and overbuilt American sidewalks. American sidewalks are a Pantheon to Lawyers and Lawsuit America. I personally have yet to see anyone in a wheelchair or RoboScooter use American sidewalks.

For a treat, head to SE Asia, specifically Bangkok or other large Thai city. The sidewalks look as if they were intentionally bombed and strafed, yet the sidewalks are teeming with food carts, people, hotties, fortune tellers and all sorts of commerce taking place. Asian sidewalks also double as a nifty "relief route" if one is on their scooter and needs to bypass a horrific traffic jam. Imagine riding any motorcycle on an American sidewalk?

The difference? No road rage in Asia, no one gets tweaked, no lawsuits. You step off a kerb and twist your ankle, the prevailing rule of law is thus: "...som nam naaaaaaah"---which means "serves your right."

Take your pick where you wish to live.


Serenity Now's picture

Yeah, Bangkok is definitely the best third world shit hole that I have visited.  I was in the cutest little sidewalk market, with children trying to scam me for money, and adult scammers trying to scam me for money, and some guy hocked a loogie (sp?), and another guy kicked him in the neck and dropped him right on the sidewalk.  Wow.  There is nothing wrong with the sidewalks, by the way.  Most of Bangkok has no indoor plumbing, however....

Oh, and there was a coup a few weeks after that. More of that third world charm!

And I've been to South Korea, where yes indeed, they drive mopeds on the sidewalk.  You'll choke to death if you stay there more than a week, so keep that in mind.  That's not SK's fault, mind's the smog and dust from China (and some of it is from SK).  

I've also lived in Japan, where it is in fact a criminal offense if you cause a car accident.  No lawsuits in Asia?  You're crazy.  

"the stupid and overbuilt American sidewalks. American sidewalks are a Pantheon to Lawyers and Lawsuit America."

What's a stupid sidewalk?

What's an overbuilt sidewalk?  Examples, please!  The vast majority of America does not have sidewalks.  A Pantheon to lawyers?  Name the top five lawsuits in the nation regarding sidewalks.  Go ahead.  

nmewn's picture

Mine was more of a tweaking of faux green noses.

Like the Prius & Volvo drivers with Save the Planet stickers plastered all over the back of their cars complaining about accessability to what is supposed to be remote & almost inaccessible to all but the hardiest...bitching that there are mosquitoes, bugs and not enough sidewalks, signage, security, lodging, parking and wheelchair accessible bathrooms.

We now have these cancerous arteries all over the country.

Every new off ramp at some nondescript county road junction to make their life easier is an invitation to lay some more asphalt for a new gas station and Burger be followed by a Target and a Walmart.

To give them something else to bitch about.

starfcker's picture

what kind of bullshit is this? i ain't gonna read part 2, but i bet i know where this is headed. we should all live in 80 story towers next to a light rail station clustered around a walmart with lots of bike paths. when our (EBT) ration card gets charged we can splurge at the walmart before taking the light rail to get our nads snipped. hey kunstler, you could save everyone a lot of time and just paraphrase. "AGENDA 21!!!!"

Normalcy Bias's picture

I have a new theory of history: things happen in human affairs because they seem like a good idea at the time.

No shit, Sherlock. EVERYTHING happens because it seems like a good idea at the time...

joego1's picture

Yes it certainly smells like agenda 21 to me. If you wipe out the middle class everyone will be walking.

Oldwood's picture

Collectivism requires, no, demands that we surrender all individual identity, in how and WHERE we live. As we see today, cost is the almighty, and the efficiency of a centrally controlled becomes mandatory. Living like rats is the most efficient and effective way of controlling cost but primarily controlling us. Local government funding shortfalls will require less infrastructure spending as well as law enforcement...for criminals that is. For you and I who may be sitting in our living room, we may well discover that we have broken some unheard of law to which a special division of law enforcement will find extremely prejudiced to enforce. Conformity is the goal and ensures their agenda will be followed. Arbitrary enforcement of obscure laws will be the lever to move us "forward".

So...we have a choice. Resist and likely suffer or fall in line, embrace the agenda and who knows, maybe achieve a position of power or influence.

Personally, I say fuckem.

LetThemEatRand's picture

For fuck's sake, Oldwood, even in the frontier they had towns and pooled resources.  It's not an either or.  You are starting to sound like W (you're either with us or ....).  How about a rational conversation about limits?  Nevermind.  

Oldwood's picture

How about voluntary cooperation and transparency rather than constant manipulation, lying and corruption being to used to advance an agenda that they try to act like does not exist?

LetThemEatRand's picture

That's a start.  But whenever you get two or more people together, there is manipulation, lying and corruption.   The answer is checks and balances.   Get over your unicorn theory of free markets and everyone getting along.  Or just have a freshman class discussion of a new world, if you prefer.  

Miffed Microbiologist's picture

Is this hyperbole or are you just jaded. I live in a 75+ member community and we have helped each other out voluntarily for many years. This includes wildfires, roads washed out, people flipping their trucks and getting stuck in the mud ( me), wells going dry, picking each others kids from school, taking care of livestock when people went on vacation and scraping the road with tractors when it becomes unpassable. There are no checks and balances. No one charges anyone for services rendered. Large capital expenses are shared. Unfortunately, some among us are of limited means and cannot contribute. Mr and I often pay double or more to cover them because we are able. No one has asked us or demanded we do so. This is not a unicorn world but reality. I don't think we are unique. I trust my neighbors far more than government provided services which have failed us numerous times.


LetThemEatRand's picture

And who provides the electricity for your internet?  Did you go out and reconnect the lines after the floods?  And whose roads do the fuel trucks use to deliver the fuel for your truck?  And who are you waiting for to rebuild the washed out roads?  Normalcy bias.  Kudos for helping your neighbors.  Shame on you for forgetting the role of your more distant neighbors who will do the other things for you.  

Oldwood's picture

Virtually all electrical generation and power distribution was done by private companies prior the the depression. As a matter of fact those companies were but the few that survived the depression without government help. At least until FDR got a hold of them. He used taxpayer money to construct hydro dans in the Tennesse valley and then undercut their prices forcing them out of business. So very similar to today where in the middle of a financial collapse our healthiest industries, energy and healthcare come under government pressure. Funny how that works and all the sudden we are dependent on government services, corrupt and unquestionable.