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This Is How Empires Collapse

Tyler Durden's picture


Submitted by Charles Hugh-Smith of OfTwoMinds blog,

This is how empires collapse: one complicit participant at a time.

Before an empire collapses, it first erodes from within. The collapse may appear sudden, but the processes of internal rot hollowed out the resilience, resolve, purpose and vitality of the empire long before its final implosion.
What are these processes of internal rot? Here are a few of the most pervasive and destructive forces of internal corrosion:

1. Each institution within the system loses sight of its original purpose of serving the populace and becomes self-serving. This erosion of common purpose serving the common good is so gradual that participants forget there was a time when the focus wasn't on gaming the system to avoid work and accountability but serving the common good.

2. The corrupt Status Quo corrupts every individual who works within the system.Once an institution loses its original purpose and becomes self-serving, everyone within either seeks to maximize their own personal share of the swag and minimize their accountability, or they are forced out as a potentially dangerous uncorrupted insider.

The justification is always the same: everybody else is getting away with it, why shouldn't I? Empires decline one corruptible individual at a time.
3. Self-serving institutions select sociopathic leaders whose skills are not competency or leadership but conning others into believing the institution is functioning optimally when in reality it is faltering/failing.

The late Roman Empire offers a fine example: entire Army legions in the hinterlands were listed as full-strength on the official rolls in Rome and payroll was issued accordingly, but the legions only existed on paper: corrupt officials pocketed the payroll for phantom legions.

Self-serving institutions reward con-artists in leadership roles because only con-artists can mask the internal rot with happy-story PR and get away with it.

4. The institutional memory rewards conserving the existing Status Quo and punishes innovation. Innovation necessarily entails risk, and those busy feathering their own nests (i.e. accepting money for phantom work, phantom legions, etc.) have no desire to place their share of the swag at risk just to improve sagging output and accountability.

So reforms and innovations that might salvage the institution are shelved or buried.

5. As the sunk costs of the subsystems increase, the institutional resistance to new technologies and processes increases accordingly. Those manufacturing steam locomotives in the early 20th century had an enormous amount of capital and institutional knowledge sunk in their factories. Tossing all of that out to invest in building diesel-electric locomotives that were much more efficient than the old-tech steam locomotives made little sense to those looking at sunk costs.
As a result, the steam locomotive manufacturers clung to the old ways and went out of business. The sunk costs of empire are enormous, as is the internal resistance to change.

6. Institutional memory and knowledge support "doing more of what worked in the past" even when it is clearly failing. I refer to this institutional risk-avoidance and lack of imagination as doing more of what has failed spectacularly.

Inept leadership keeps doing more of what once worked, even when it is clearly failing, in effect ignoring real-world feedback in favor of magical-thinking. The Federal Reserve is an excellent example.

7. These dynamics of eroding accountability, effectiveness and purpose lead to systemic diminishing returns. Each failing institution now needs more money to sustain its operations, as inefficiencies, corruption and incompetence reduce output while dramatically raising costs (phantom legions still get paid).

8. Incompetence is rewarded and competence punished. The classic example of this was "Good job, Brownie:" cronies and con-artists are elevated to leadership roles to reward loyalty and the ability to mask the rot with good PR. Serving the common good is set aside as sychophancy (obedient flattery) to incompetent leaders is rewarded and real competence is punished as a threat to the self-serving leadership.

9. As returns diminish and costs rise, systemic fragility increases. This can be illustrated as a rising wedge: as output declines and costs rise, the break-even point keeps edging higher, until even a modest reduction of input (revenue, energy, etc.) causes the system to break down:

A modern-day example is oil-exporting states that have bought the complicity of their citizenry with generous welfare benefits and subsidies. As their populations and welfare benefits keep rising, the revenues they need to keep the system going require an ever-higher price of oil. Should the price of oil decline, these regimes will be unable to fund their welfare. With the social contract broken, there is nothing left to stem the tide of revolt.

10. Economies of scale no longer generate returns. In the good old days, stretching out supply lines to reach lower-cost suppliers and digitizing management reaped huge gains in productivity. Now that the scale of enterprise is global, the gains from economies of scale have faltered and the high overhead costs of maintaining this vast managerial infrastructure have become a drain.

11. Redundancy is sacrificed to preserve a corrupt and failing core. Rather than demand sacrifices of the Roman Elites and the entertainment-addicted bread-and-circus masses to maintain the forces protecting the Imperial borders, late-Roman Empire leaders eliminated defense-in-depth (redundancy). This left the borders thinly defended. With no legions in reserve, an invasion could no longer be stopped without mobilizing the entire border defense, in effect leaving huge swaths of the border undefended to push back the invaders.

Phantom legions line the pockets of insiders and cronies while creating a useful illusion of stability and strength.

12. The feedback from those tasked with doing the real work of the Empire is ignored as Elites and vested interests dominate decision-making. As I noted yesterday in The Political Poison of Vested Interests, when this bottoms-up feedback is tossed out, ignored or marginalized, all decisions are necessarily unwise because they are no longer grounded in the consequences experienced by the 95% doing the real work.

This lack of feedback from the bottom 95% is captured by the expression "Let them eat cake." (Though attributed to Marie Antoinette, there is no evidence that she actually said Qu'ils mangent de la brioche.)

The point is that decisions made with no feedback from the real-world of the bottom 95%, that is, decisions made solely in response to the demands of cronies, vested interests and various elites, are intrinsically unsound and doomed to fail catastrophically.

How does an Empire end up with phantom legions? The same way the U.S. ended up with ObamaCare/Affordable Care Act. The payroll is being paid but there is no real-world feedback, no accountability, no purpose other than private profit/gain and no common good being served.

That's how empires collapse: one corrupted, self-serving individual at a time, gaming one corrupted, self-serving institution or another; it no longer matters which one because they're all equally compromised. It's not just the border legions that are phantom; the entire stability and strength of the empire is phantom. The uncorruptible and competent are banished or punished, and the corrupt, self-serving and inept are lavished with treasure.

This is how empires collapse: one complicit participant at a time.


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Wed, 04/23/2014 - 14:14 | 4687305 drendebe10
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Sounds like the USSA has arrived!!!  YeeHaaa!!!

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 14:16 | 4687313 Arius
Arius's picture

We are still in the building up phase .... generations to go before the start of the decline ... if ever

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 14:17 | 4687322 Obama_4_Dictator
Obama_4_Dictator's picture are smoking some good shit

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 14:25 | 4687354 lordylord
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I think all of us at Zero underestimate the ability of the economy to just keep dragging along without a collapse.  It will happen, but nodoby knows when.

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 14:47 | 4687436 NoDebt
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Rome wasn't built in a day.  Nor did it collapse in a day.  You could have been living during what is now the commonly recognized period of it's decline, and if you picked the right 50 year span, you'd think things were still going just peachy.

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 14:53 | 4687470 Overfed
Overfed's picture

Things move a whole lot faster these days.

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 14:55 | 4687479 THX 1178
THX 1178's picture

The quickening, or as RAW calls it, the Jumping Jesus Phenomenon...

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 16:30 | 4687869 12ToothAssassin
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Perceptual Speedup

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 22:10 | 4688994 weburke
weburke's picture

selling in summer 2015 sounds about right.

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 22:47 | 4689110 Flux
Flux's picture

Meh, this doom porn is old hat.

What would Buffet do?

"What I advise here is essentially identical to certain instructions I've laid out in my will. One bequest provides that cash will be delivered to a trustee for my wife's benefit. (I have to use cash for individual bequests, because all of my Berkshire shares will be fully distributed to certain philanthropic organizations over the ten years following the closing of my estate.) My advice to the trustee could not be more simple: Put 10% of the cash in short-term government bonds and 90% in a very low-cost S&P 500 index fund. (I suggest Vanguard's.) I believe the trust's long-term results from this policy will be superior to those attained by most investors – whether pension funds, institutions or individuals – who employ high-fee managers."


Good luck with the end of the world, I'll be enjoying the opera.

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 00:24 | 4689292 TheReplacement
TheReplacement's picture

Do you realize he doesn't have long to live and during that time he can probably count on a bailout if his bet goes belly up?  Do you have the same insurance?  Yeah, didn't think so.

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 01:16 | 4689319 TruthInSunshine
TruthInSunshine's picture

Buffett is the son of a Senator who received 17 billion USD in bailouts from taxpayers (involuntarily extracted, thank you taxpayers) just in the last 5 years to compensate him for his losing stakes in loser companies/wards of the Fed that he and his equally criminal partner, Charlie Munger, held large stakes in.

He's a career criminal, disguising himself as a genteel, wise grandfatherlytype, when he'd happily shiv someone over a dime.

Anyone who believes in the mythology of Buffett as presented by a bought off financial media & as the bleeting sheeple do has gone full retard (and flux can't even spell Warren's last name correctly despite his idolatry/worship of him).

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 03:13 | 4689463 old naughty
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"Perceptual Speedup"

"...the minimum needed to maintain the system also rises..." Yes!

The reckoning is near, bros.

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 03:31 | 4689474 zhandax
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THX, you are are making me think too much.  He references the technological singularity in that vid.  From a bit of further reading, it appears this is derived from Hawking's singularity theory.  As this old finance major understands that, when the exponential function hits criticality, the laws of physics cease to apply.  Matter can be compressed, light can emit from a region with infinite curvature, dogs and cats sleeping with each other, etc.  We have all assumed that when the exponential function hits criticality in debt creation, the whole economic universe will implode.  What if it works in the opposite direction?  I may ponder that for a couple of days, and then switch to a higher proof°.

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 04:15 | 4689511 Flux
Flux's picture

Ah, yes...

The genuine idolatry of one unable to spell his worship's name correctly.

Got straw dog?

Or are you still waiting in line for your food stamps?

You can catch me at the opera. If you meet the dress code.


Thu, 04/24/2014 - 01:05 | 4689347 hobopants
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Warren Buffett admitting that the market is a fraud would be the same as a pastor saying there is no God. The man has to believe it, or at least pretend to otherwise he is as much as admitting to a life of crime. You go ahead and follow that advice and see what happens. I'll bet the actual trust says something akin to "Whatever you do, stay the hell out of the stock market!" 

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 01:36 | 4689388 SAT 800
SAT 800's picture

Agreed. Also Martin Armstrong agrees. So now there are three of us.

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 22:11 | 4688996 markmotive
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Our friends at Al Jazeera put together a solid documentary on the Decline of the American Empire

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 23:08 | 4689161 gmrpeabody
gmrpeabody's picture

Al Jazeera..., now there's a piece of work... (not)

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 03:34 | 4689481 zhandax
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Oh, come on.  Algore's legacy to the 'murican peoples? /s

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 23:18 | 4689189 Anusocracy
Anusocracy's picture

Empires decline and fall because of changes in the ratios of various types of mindsets.

A beneficial evolution in the make-up of a population reverts back to a more primitive state thereby undermining the cause of its advances.

Mother Nature doesn't let her children go without a fight.

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 00:58 | 4689308 Bunga Bunga
Bunga Bunga's picture

It's not a  question of virtual thinking but of real ressources. All failing civilizations have that in common:



Thu, 04/24/2014 - 01:09 | 4689353 G-R-U-N-T
G-R-U-N-T's picture

5."As the sunk costs of the subsystems increase, the institutional resistance to new technologies and processes increases accordingly"

There's a good article in the WSJ that parallels this very point:


"The agency's broad mandate reveals the mind-set of ObamaCare's authors. The premise is that the federal government is best positioned to lead an effort in innovation in medical delivery, despite all evidence to the contrary. The history of Medicare's payment systems over four decades is one of politicized decision-making by regulators, protection of incumbent providers, and roadblocks to new medical technologies and new ways of doing business, such as using information technology to consult with patients, or employing non-physician clinics for routine patient care. It's the opposite of an environment conducive to innovation. Consequently, inefficiency is rampant in Medicare's traditional fee-for-service program."


Thu, 04/24/2014 - 01:35 | 4689385 SAT 800
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I love external toothed star washers; a real engineering marvel; they do the job !

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 16:59 | 4687981 DaveA
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Information != Knowledge. The fact that the number of duck-faced female selfies on Facebook doubles every three months does not mean that the Singularity is nigh.

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 23:37 | 4689222 Midas
Midas's picture

Wisdom is the domain of the Wiz.

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 22:03 | 4688966 piceridu
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It is estimated that a week’s worth of New York Times, which is just 7 newspapers, contains more information than a person in the 18th century came across in an entire lifetime. It is also estimated that 4 Exabyte's (4 billion gigabytes) of unique information will be generated this year alone.  This is more unique information generated than the previous 5000 years combined. 

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 23:17 | 4689186 Ben Dover
Ben Dover's picture

And how much of that is the government set to harvest? Bout 137%?

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 12:55 | 4691136 matrix2012
matrix2012's picture

LOOONG Seagate Technology and Western Digital...

more storages are definitely needed by Ed Snowden's former employer to archive all the bytes in this planet!!

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 00:26 | 4689295 TheReplacement
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Recording every instance of "the", "lol", and ":)" does not make for a lot of knowledge.

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 14:57 | 4687487 McMolotov
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I think Hemingway would tell us that, like going bankrupt, empires collapse two ways: gradually, then suddenly.

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 16:08 | 4687790 Ignatius
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CHS is WRONG on his very first point.

The education system (which is huge) is yielding EXACTLY the results intended from the inception of compulsory public schooling.  See John Taylor Gatto for reference to the founding principles of public schooling.  Gatto cites the original documents/lectures and their purpose.

I stopped reading after that.  CHS is a prolific simpleton.

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 22:26 | 4689028 Tapeworm
Tapeworm's picture

"CHS is a prolific simpleton"

 He is not a simpleton for merely phrasing a point in the way that you disapprove. I'll bet that I have many more Gatto books than you do and yet I donate to CHS blog because he reaches a fair amount of thinking people that might pile on to make a difference in this rotting place.

 I did vote you up anyway for your point on what Gatto has shown to be the truth.

 My best to you.


 I find it to be counterproductive to our cause to blithely dismiss those that do not have 100% ideological purity, whatever that might be.I do not agree with CHS on some issues yet I still pay a very little to help him get his views that coincide with mine put up for public consumption. I would be proud to have him as a neighbor and I'd argue your point with him if the occasion arose. That is not the way that it is so I kick in for those that I find to be worthy, and that includes this joint.

 Have you donated five or ten to ZH lately? I will do it again now that I have exhorted y'all to do the same, ya cheap bastards.

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 04:33 | 4689523 Ignatius
Ignatius's picture

Point taken.  I too have enjoyed CHS, but I find more lately that his analysis has been missing some key elements.  His discussions on the Deep State comes to my mind where he seemed to be claiming more authorship of the concept than he deserves.  And there again I recall he left out what I'd consider essentials to Deep State discussions (political murders and mass murder, 'strategy of tension', narcotics, etc.).  This is from memory....

I am NOT an ideologue, whatever I am, so it's not "purity" but accuracy that I expect. 

Yes, "prolific simpleton" was lazy on my part though I'd prefer accuracy over volume.

I don't donate to ZH, but I do 'suffer' the ads which bog down my computer and do donate to various other alternative media.

Best to you.

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 15:14 | 4687564 cougar_w
cougar_w's picture

NoDebt and Overfed are both correct.

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 22:08 | 4688983 disabledvet
disabledvet's picture

See below and "i have this really cool idea for our March on Moscow this Winter Mr. President. Here's the video feed:

ignore the "rebel" part Mr. President.

I think we can do this for...

a couple of...hundred...billion."

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 17:07 | 4688011 Stuck on Zero
Stuck on Zero's picture

The USSR collapsed so fast that the media and intelligence agencies were shocked. Tens of thousands of Soviet soldiers had to get their families to pay for their plane tickets home from the far reaches of the empire. 


Thu, 04/24/2014 - 01:45 | 4689398 SAT 800
SAT 800's picture

Very true. And not at all widely known.

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 10:29 | 4690496 fallout11
fallout11's picture

...but yet obvious to insiders for nearly a decade before the end. Glastnost and Perestroika (and other Gorbachov reforms) were the last, desperate attempt to change the failing system. Those who didn't see it coming, and there were many whose heads were firmly in the sand, were either not looking or were being willfully naive/ignorant.
"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it." - Upton Sinclair

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 17:48 | 4688176 OceanX
OceanX's picture

"Things move a whole lot faster these days."

That is so very true, consider this: Before the invention of the telegraph, information could travel no faster than a human being.



Wed, 04/23/2014 - 20:12 | 4688595 Twodogs
Twodogs's picture

Obviously you've never heard of an animal called a "horse". Or pigeons. Or bonfires...

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 22:56 | 4689135 malek
malek's picture

Read and understand "The Fourth Turning" and you will realize that is not true for generational cycles.

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 00:13 | 4689274 jay35
jay35's picture

The other factor is immigration. If they can get a whole new bunch of voters to keep them in power and who can work the low paying jobs and pay taxes, they can keep bouyancy just a bit longer.

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 00:47 | 4689325 Dubaibanker
Dubaibanker's picture

Correct. Just look at Turkey. After the Americans like Citibank left Turkey.

The Russians and Iranians are moving in. Guess where the profits from Turkey will henceforth go to?

First Russians moved in.

Now even Iranians are moving in.

With a population of 74m, Turkey is not a small country.

Kuwaitis also bought a European bank

The Qataris are also making a move.

This is unheard of in the past. It was always Americans or European banks moving into larger countries around the world. Now you hear Chinese or Middle Eastern banks expanding while US and Europeans keep moving backwards back to their home countries and hence all profits which were moving into US or Europe will no longer go there. 

The power and the clout of US and European banks will continue to shrink further over the next decade.

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 15:45 | 4687690 Jack Burton
Jack Burton's picture

In the late empire as decline speeded up and disaster stalked Rome, the Romano-British culure in Roman Britain was living in a golden age. Peace and prosperity, great Roman villas were sprouting up in a country side at peace and with growing wealth and culture in both cities and countryside. To a Roman in Britain or a Romano-Celt, the peace of Rome seemed permanent and ever developing, whicle just across the channel, Gaul was being torn apart and raped by Barbarians the legions could or would not stop. It all depends on the spot from where you look out on the world.

I would maintain that Washington DC, capital of a war mongering, bankrupt, greed riven perverted collection of crooks, is a haven of great wealth and power from which the American dream and American empire look set to last a thousand years. But like the Romano-British of late Imperial days, the shit storm is brewing and when it hits, all the villas and cities will decay into the earth and be replaced by crude wooden houses and tiny stone or wood churches hardly big enough to swing a cat. The great treasures will be replaced by crude iron and wooden tools, people will see their lives and culture turn back a thousand years of progress. It has happened before, the USA is ripe for it to repeat.

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 16:05 | 4687774 madtechnician
madtechnician's picture

Hey but the printing presses ran a lot slower in Roman Times , these days they have high speed motorized printing presses , they can print until they run out of trees , then they can start new wars over new tree supplies so they can keep their Ponzi going a lot longer than the romans ever could.

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 16:15 | 4687822 Herodotus
Herodotus's picture

The big money will be made shorting Washington, D.C. real estate.

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 22:57 | 4689136 willwork4food
willwork4food's picture

@ Hero- I would disagree with that. The vestiges of power will concentrate within the black holes until the country outside it disinigrates. Even then, they'll move the paid mercenaries into them to keep them safe for another few decades.

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 00:36 | 4689310 Things that go bump
Things that go bump's picture

What happens to all those rich guys when the paid mercenaries decide they'd rather be king then servant?

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 01:42 | 4689394 SAT 800
SAT 800's picture

Then, as in Rome; one of the mercenaries simply takes the throne. And sometimes, they make better leaders than the in-bred professional politicians.

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 04:05 | 4689491 Things that go bump
Things that go bump's picture

So they will sow the seeds of their own distruction. I am content. 

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 16:20 | 4687838 The_Dude
The_Dude's picture

I think we are right at the stage of destroying our economy through the importation of slaves into Rome....shouldn't be long now.

Grant stated that the Romans were so dependent on the slave labor that even the simplest task such as getting dressed, holding a towel while going to the bath, and cooking were all done by slaves. Because wealthy owners had slaves working on everything, the lower class could not compete with the freed laborers and were forced out of jobs. So they became dependent on the government to take care of them.

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 05:06 | 4689535 Wahooo
Wahooo's picture

Roman Slave = American Technology

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 18:28 | 4688303 kchrisc
kchrisc's picture

"I would maintain that Washington DC, capital of a war mongering, bankrupt, greed riven perverted collection of crooks, is a haven of great wealth and power from which the American dream and American empire look set to last a thousand years."

One huge difference is that the wealthy Romans in Britain had REAL wealth, not the imaginary paper wealth of most of the DC US aristocracy.

The DC US aristocracy, when the end comes, will fall fast with only the guillotines to catch them. At least for the ones that cannot 'return.'


"My guillotine makes a mean aristocracy soup."

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 16:00 | 4687752 Carpenter1
Carpenter1's picture

Rome collapsed roughly 100 years after it began devaluing its currency through removing gold from coins. The US began devaluing its currency the second it used paper, a far worse devaluation than removing gold from gold coins. Rome actually still had a bit of gold in their coins when the nation fell, the US has had zero gold in its money for a very long time. The FED was introduced about 100 years ago, I'd say that puts the US collapse right on time according to Rome standards, which was just as impressive relatively to its competitors as US is today.

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 16:55 | 4687962 RichardParker
RichardParker's picture

"The silver currency was basically abandoned, so much that the government started to demand payment of taxes in kind and in services instead of coin. Constantine the Great issued the golden solidus in large numbers. The government moved away from collecting taxes and paying salaries in kind, and began to use gold. But taxes had to be paid in gold bullion, as the government refused its own coins, since it was never sure how adulterated the coinage really was. The inflation of lesser coins continued…"

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 23:04 | 4689149 willwork4food
willwork4food's picture

Kind of OT, but one of the ONLY times Jesus of Nazereth got really, really pissed off, was outside the Holy temple walls where the pleebs were purchasing goods for sacrifice or exchanging the current Roman coinage for REAL solid silver shekels. It was a sin to offer something to the temple that was not pure and the Goldman Sacs of the day knew it. The originial money changers were the reason for the outrage by Jesus. He KNEW where this was going. MHO only.

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 01:40 | 4689393 SAT 800
SAT 800's picture

Rome was much more impressive than the US. Vastly more impressive. Rome was Mighty. the US is just another competitor in a world economy. Everything, and every place we're squabbling about rightnnow, including Syria and Israel, were merely Roman Provinces.

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 01:38 | 4689390 SAT 800
SAT 800's picture

Very true and universally overlooked. It's the effect of historicity; like looking thru the wrong end of a telescope; everything is compressed to flatness.

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 14:47 | 4687441 SimplePrinciple
SimplePrinciple's picture

Right about the time we all think that way is when it DOES happen.

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 15:05 | 4687522 Citxmech
Citxmech's picture

"Each institution within the system loses sight of its original purpose of serving the populace and becomes self-serving."

Bullshit.  The agencies and institutions in our system were born corrupt and self-serving.  That's how they secured their charters.

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 17:35 | 4688121 Keyser
Keyser's picture

Not so as it depends on your frame of reference. If your experience with the system is from the 80's forward, your perspective is much different than someone that goes back to the 50's... 


Wed, 04/23/2014 - 14:49 | 4687444 10mm
10mm's picture

As quoted from Germans during the collapse " It hit like lighting".

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 17:59 | 4688219 Notsobadwlad
Notsobadwlad's picture

"Ya wohl" and we are winning on the eastern front as well.

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 14:19 | 4687326 McMolotov
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No, we're at the part where the guy who's jumped off a building and is halfway down thinks "This isn't so bad."

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 14:23 | 4687343 lordylord
lordylord's picture

College is also a great example of this phenomenon.  Non-essential staff and administration bleed the school dry while class sizes increase and infrastructure that matter (e.g. classrooms, computer labs, and laboratories) go to shit.

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 14:39 | 4687414 headhunt
headhunt's picture

The real expense at the universities are the professors salaries and benefits and the associated legacy cost.

Those expenses are huge and the largest for most universities.

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 14:55 | 4687475 SimplePrinciple
SimplePrinciple's picture

And the ONLY thing that matters to those professors is publication in peer-reviewed journals that are designed to maintain the crony status quo. For example, we all know that Keynesian central planning grinds the economy down.  To publish in macroeconomics, you must provide just a little bit more complex of a tweek to this same old creakingly elaborate model.  You will not get published by stating the obvious, which is that aggregation assumptions underlying the model provide a flawed foundation.

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 15:22 | 4687590 lordylord
lordylord's picture

It is a fact that you must publish to stay alive.  And yes, a lot of work is derivitive or incremental.  That's how progress goes sometimes.  From my experience, most research professors earn their saleries. 

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 17:41 | 4688148 Nick Jihad
Nick Jihad's picture

Dunno who said it, but "economics advances one funeral at a time".

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 22:13 | 4689003 mjcOH1
mjcOH1's picture

"The real expense at the universities are the professors salaries and benefits and the associated legacy cost."  That would be sports.   But it continues because everybody loves a circus with their bread.

"it’s the great lie of college sports — that high profile programs generate income. The vast majority of them lose money and have to be subsidized, either through exorbitant student fees or, more often, with money pulled out of the school’s general coffers.

Of the 227 public schools that compete at the Division I level, only 22 have athletic programs that bring in more money than they spend.

Among the biggest money losers is the University of Connecticut, whose sports teams combined to lose $15 million last year.  For years, Jim Calhoun, the head coach of their men’s basketball program resisted efforts to publicly disclose his salary, as is required under the state’s open records law.  When a reporter asked him in 2009 whether it was appropriate to draw a $1.6 million salary while the state was being crushed by budget deficits, Calhoun launched into a tirade."

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 18:33 | 4688314 Monty Burns
Monty Burns's picture

I was asked to help head-hunt a science professor once.  He asked me how much student face time would be required. I replied about 4 hours a week.  He nearly freaked out and flung me out the door.  True story.  They don't see teaching as part of their work.

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 15:20 | 4687579 lordylord
lordylord's picture

I don't get the professor bashing on Zero and other places.  Most research professors absolutely earn their salery even at 150-200k.  You have no idea the amount of work they do.  Most admin and staff do nothing and don't deserve the 100k, for example, that some secretaries earn.

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 16:28 | 4687863 Quick
Quick's picture

Spoken like a professor! 

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 16:57 | 4687972 lordylord
lordylord's picture

Spoken like someone who is envious of professors.

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 21:11 | 4688800 Charles Nelson ...
Charles Nelson Reilly's picture

Sorry LL, I'm not seeing it. 20 years ago when college was still affordable, maybe? Now it's nothing but a bunch of Lexus liberals who throw stones at capitalism from their glass houses.

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 01:33 | 4689383 SAT 800
SAT 800's picture

40 years ago when it was really affordable, it was nothing but a bunch of MG sportscar driving Liberals who threw stones at capitalism from inside their glass houses. or down from their ivory tower, if you will. this is psychology; they don't get the big money, so like Obama, another ousider, they're willing to preach that which will pull the house down around them rather than be second place.

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 23:12 | 4689174 Big Brother
Big Brother's picture

My experience was there are good and bad professors.  There were ones that had lots of office hours and made it a point that they understood their salary depended on the student's sucess and satisfaction with their performance.  And there were others that made an apperance on the first day of class, introduced his/her TA, and then one more apperance on the day of finals.  Likely those were research professors; there were less than a handful of instances when that occurred.  I would assume most of their pay comes from research grants (taxpayers) or corporate donations who get a cut of the IP licensing or produce the end product.  Literally half my technical professors did consultant work on the side.  I tend to agree that 100-150K is probably a paycut for them.  Hours and benefits, but most likely the joy of teaching must be the draw.

I gave you a +1.

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 15:20 | 4687582 swmnguy
swmnguy's picture

What should be a bigger cost for a university?  Many courses don't need anything at all, but a professor.

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 15:26 | 4687601 lordylord
lordylord's picture

Exactly, as if paying a professor a high salery is bad.  It is popular for people show hate towards professors, but in truth, a lot of them earn their saleries. 

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 17:42 | 4688152 Keyser
Keyser's picture

First consider ZH is largely inhabited by conservatives... Then consider the ideological viewpoint of the typical professor, which is usually liberal... Then consider the bias toward conservatives by university professors which we see in the press frequently, the latest example being just yesterday... And these are the people entrusted with shaping the minds of our future generations and leaders... I'm sure you understand the animosity... If not, then back to the lab... 


Wed, 04/23/2014 - 23:15 | 4689184 Big Brother
Big Brother's picture

If you're studying STEM-related subjects, most of the professors in my experience were conservative or liberatrian.  I went to a mid-western university though.

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 01:18 | 4689369 SAT 800
SAT 800's picture

All places where human minds function properly and in the light of reality based education are inhabited by conservatives. Obviously, the converse is also implied.

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 18:23 | 4688283 Deacon Frost
Deacon Frost's picture

Mao had many of the college professors arrested during the cultural revolution and made them wear Dunce caps and endure public ridicule. 

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 01:19 | 4689372 SAT 800
SAT 800's picture

Speaks to the fact that Mao was an increasingly crazy and destructive "leader" as he aged; otherwise, not meaningfull.

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 01:22 | 4689374 SAT 800
SAT 800's picture

Very few of them earn their salaries; the status of education is co-incidental and within the larger collapse of the society. Remember there are professors of female studies, and other professors of political correctness. These are obviously as useful as pimples.

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 01:27 | 4689376 SAT 800
SAT 800's picture

Wrong; Athletic Dept. downvoted accordingly; check your facts before you bleat.

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 16:23 | 4692322 headhunt
headhunt's picture

Athletic department is self sufficient and in most cases actually makes money.

Tenured Professors and never ending pensions and healthcare is the primary cost at most Universities.

Check your facts - professor bleat.

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 14:36 | 4687397 headhunt
headhunt's picture

That is funny.

I was wondering why it was so breezy.

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 00:36 | 4689311 TheReplacement
TheReplacement's picture

Remember the 2nd half of that trip is shorter than the 1st half.  We'll accelerate all the way into the ground.

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 14:21 | 4687334 knightowl77
knightowl77's picture

We are accelerating downhill at an ever increasing rate....collapse is inevitable & soon

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 14:24 | 4687346 Headbanger
Headbanger's picture

Yeah..  It's called gravity..  32.2 Ft/Sec^2 

Makes bullets drop too.

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 14:39 | 4687412 narnia
narnia's picture

Empire implosion is creative destruction.  I don't equate the size and scope of empire to be "me" & I certainly don't see the empire's collapse as a bad thing.

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 15:19 | 4687581 cougar_w
cougar_w's picture

It took the "dark ages" 500 years to end. And one can argue that they only ended because of the emergence of the merchant class and the resparking of trade. Followed by global spread of Western influences, the rape/pillage of "undeveloped" peoples (ex. Aztecs), discovery of external combustion, discovery of fossil derived free energy. That's a lot of magic pulled from a hat called the Fall of Rome.

I don't know for sure, but we just might have run out of magic tricks at this point.

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 21:34 | 4688877 BlindMonkey
BlindMonkey's picture

Fossil derived free energy.  You're cute. A bunch of rotting shit made oil. Right. 

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 21:47 | 4688919 Nobody
Nobody's picture

"Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty. This was called Bad Luck!"

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 01:29 | 4689378 SAT 800
SAT 800's picture

Thorium Reactors; Thallium Reactors; good tricks. Bad Government. We can't do anything intelligent or usefull because the government, when it isn't bought outright, is swayed by the opinions of the ignorant masses.

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 14:35 | 4687390 headhunt
headhunt's picture

'We are still in the building up phase ....' of government workers and their elitist wanker bosses

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 17:14 | 4688038 mumbo_jumbo
mumbo_jumbo's picture


LOL what we need is a larger flood of 3rd world peasants and then we can really get the building phase rolling.....the sky is the limit!!!

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 17:43 | 4688153 Zymurguy
Zymurguy's picture

^^^another 4 year old account (Arius)... how many posts?

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 22:30 | 4689064 Offthebeach
Offthebeach's picture

Totally agree.

Resource exploitation ( that would be us, the Muppets ) and wealth extraction has way more to go. Mental, social, institutional chains must be yet forged. Incalcation of slave, serf tradition s and sense of place exist firmly only amongst blacks, elderly, and half of whites. Security enforcers are well along but need further violence. Administratively violence units are progressing nicely. Still, it is all poorly coordinated.

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 00:26 | 4689294 Things that go bump
Things that go bump's picture

Things move much faster now. A Roman legion could only move about 35 miles a day. It used to take a sailing ship 30 to 40 days to sail from England to America. Don't they teach people anything in school anymore?

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 14:21 | 4687325 Headbanger
Headbanger's picture

It's called an "Ending Diagonal" in Elliot Wave Speak (Page 37 of THE BOOK)

Dat's what we got!

BTW.. Did you mooks notice the perfect triangle pattern in the market action today??

It means... Look the fuck out below!   You mooks!

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 01:13 | 4689366 SAT 800
SAT 800's picture

Your avatar is appropriate. There are no Ellitot Waves; they are a product of human delusion; as is so much.

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 17:17 | 4688045 TheGardener
TheGardener's picture

Sounds like deep CIA speak, CHS.

Non-authentic, entirely made up. At first glance of a read
I thought of Simon Black talking to me, but it is you , another one in our new team !!!

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 20:02 | 4688568 Big Boss Man
Big Boss Man's picture

TheGardener, did you take your name from a character in a novel by a person calling himself NOVA on a site called American Apocalypse ?

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 00:48 | 4689326 Phil Free
Phil Free's picture

Or perhaps he is Chance, the Gardener?  (Peter Sellers -+- Being There)


Wed, 04/23/2014 - 22:10 | 4688989 Buck Johnson
Buck Johnson's picture

Yep and when we go through are collapse many will go insane just you wait.

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 00:43 | 4689321 TheReplacement
TheReplacement's picture

Nah.  The ones of whom you speak are already insane.  We just don't see it for the meds.  When the collapse happens the meds will run out and the insanity will bloom like algae in New Orleans when the pumps stop pumping. 

I believe the number is somewhere between 10-20% of the population that is medicated for such reasons.

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 01:12 | 4689365 SAT 800
SAT 800's picture

The article is perfect; it can't be improved upon. It's utterly true.

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 14:14 | 4687306 McMolotov
McMolotov's picture

This is how empires collapse: NOT FAST ENOUGH.

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 14:19 | 4687329 prains
prains's picture

What if it's already collpased and all that's holding it together is a 110V printer in Yellgium's basment?

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 15:19 | 4687577 SheepDog-One
SheepDog-One's picture

That's right, it has already collapsed.

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 17:43 | 4687383 813kml
813kml's picture

Article is incorrect, the US is already on step 42 in the process of collapse.

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 14:14 | 4687309 Kirk2NCC1701
Kirk2NCC1701's picture

The US Empire will fall when you hear the words: "We don't want your stinking dollars anymore".

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 14:19 | 4687327 Arius
Arius's picture

if you dont mind me asking, what other pieces of paper would you prefer .... there is nothing better than the dollar, because this country is still carrying on his shoulders the whole world ... yes the american consumer, and nothing else !

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 14:27 | 4687361 IdeasRbulletproof
IdeasRbulletproof's picture

Gold and silver ETFs...


Wed, 04/23/2014 - 14:27 | 4687362 Headbanger
Headbanger's picture

What's a Merican consumer??

Was them those people wearing funny clothes in the WalMarts and buying Super Sized burgers & Fries and McD's??

Thems all gone away now...

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 14:28 | 4687366 lordylord
lordylord's picture

Hope you're being sarcastic.  But if you're not, don't you know that nobody gets rich by simply consuming?  You have to actually produce something of value.

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 14:33 | 4687386 buzzsaw99
buzzsaw99's picture

um, no. this is the new eCONoME.

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 14:49 | 4687442 derek_vineyard
derek_vineyard's picture

whens O gunna get us a deep sea fishing vessel for our constitutionally promised fishing expeditions?  oh shit, catch and release only??????   mother fucker

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 20:36 | 4688666 Twodogs
Twodogs's picture

Anglus interruptus

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 14:30 | 4687375 Dick Buttkiss
Dick Buttkiss's picture

Is that you, MillionDollarBonus?

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 14:52 | 4687459 derek_vineyard
derek_vineyard's picture

MDB bought gold and silver with all his profits from paper assets and moved to Ecuador

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 15:06 | 4687523 pods
pods's picture

He is now heading up Simon's Llama Brigade.


Wed, 04/23/2014 - 14:40 | 4687415 Kirk2NCC1701
Kirk2NCC1701's picture

The solution is simple as it is obvious:  1.  No more single-currency to rule over others.  No more GRC.  Instead...

2. Have a number of RRCs (Regional Reserve Currencies).  E.g. USD, CNY, Real, Rouble, Euro...

3. Have them float on the open market.  Pay for oil in any RRC,  Put BIS under complete international supervision.

Market forces would force CBs and its paid-for politicians to live within their means, or expererience a Weimar/Yugoslavia/Zimbabmew moment.

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 17:46 | 4688171 Nick Jihad
Nick Jihad's picture

Yeah, cuz that really forced the Weimar/Yugoslavia/Zimbabwe politicians to live within their means!

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 01:56 | 4689409 SAT 800
SAT 800's picture

Did you ever ask yourself, why do we pay for the Oil? Why not just take over Saudi Arabia in the first place and take the oil? Why pay for the oil and then pay for enough military to ensure that we could have taken it? There's some deep layers of insanity here. It would be rational to pay for the military if it did something useful like occupy Saudia Arabia and export oiil to an American Federal oil company; for the benefit of the empire its citizens; but as it is; it's completely irrational.

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 03:43 | 4689485 Sandmann
Sandmann's picture

Saudi princes know how to buy other tribes. They simply buy the US political class and fund Carlyle and other groups - who founded Carlyle ?

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 18:05 | 4688238 LooseLee
LooseLee's picture

You sound like 'consumer' is something noble. It is not. Although necessary to survive, 'American Consumerism' is a disease of a weak and lazy mind...

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 14:20 | 4687328 Alpo for Granny
Alpo for Granny's picture

You are hearing that as a whisper now and soon it will be a scream.

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 14:17 | 4687318 Oh regional Indian
Oh regional Indian's picture

First linear growth.

Then geometric.

Einstien was right about one thing, compound interest.

Debt will get ya, every time.

I'm lucky, banks refuse to loan paperwork resisting me any debt money.


Wed, 04/23/2014 - 14:30 | 4687374 samsara
samsara's picture

Wages rises linearly

Interest rises geometrically

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 14:44 | 4687428 Oh regional Indian
Oh regional Indian's picture

That is the fence you cannot sit on...


Wed, 04/23/2014 - 14:17 | 4687319 max2205
max2205's picture

Previous empires didn't have the Fed proping them up

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 14:22 | 4687336 Oh regional Indian
Oh regional Indian's picture

Each had their money lenders screw them, sell them out each time though, that much is clear.

Purse strings lost more wars than lack of valour or bad planning.

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 14:20 | 4687331 FLHRS
FLHRS's picture

The empire collapses when;

12. The feedback from those tasked with doing the real work of the Empire is ignored as Elites and vested interests dominate decision-making.   Enough said.

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 14:22 | 4687335 DoChenRollingBearing
DoChenRollingBearing's picture

Very interesting article, Tylers, thanks!

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 15:50 | 4687710 screw face
screw face's picture




Wed, 04/23/2014 - 14:25 | 4687350 catch edge ghost
catch edge ghost's picture

Ther are no previous Empires. The Empire has never collapsed. Only the names are changed. It will collapse. Someday. Not in your lifetime.

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 14:34 | 4687385 Jumbotron
Jumbotron's picture

"Ther are no previous Empires. The Empire has never collapsed. Only the names are changed. It will collapse. Someday. Not in your lifetime."

Well....technically untrue.  There are demonstrable and historical empires made up of entirely different people groups and societies that have come and gone.

HOWEVER.....the common thing amongst ALL empires is human avarice and hubris.  In this respect...yes...the Empire of corrupt humanity has never ended.....only the names have change.

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 14:43 | 4687426 Arius
Arius's picture

Ben-Gurion sanctimoniously said:

There have been only two great people: the Greeks and the Jews. Perhaps the Greeks were even greater than the Jews, but now I can see no sign of that old greatness in the modern Greeks.

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 14:49 | 4687447 WhyWait
WhyWait's picture

Ther are no previous Empires. The Empire has never collapsed. Only the names are changed. It will collapse. Someday. Not in your lifetime."

Maybe not.  But this collapse has been so long in coming and has been put off so strenuously, until the rot has become so complete, with so many crises coming to a head at once, that this could be the Big One.

Plus, our civilization, our very species won't survive another round of Empire, so this had better be the Big One!

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 15:40 | 4687660 SubjectivObject
SubjectivObject's picture

The Bible is true because human psychobiology repeats itself over time, and the old descriptions of behaviou will ever fit.

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 14:35 | 4687394 Dick Buttkiss
Dick Buttkiss's picture

The Fed has printed almost four trillion dollars to put out the fire from 2008. What is going to happen if we have a liquidity crisis next month or next year? They are at the limit of their balance sheet. They are already insolvent on a mark-to-market basis. And again, that is not guesswork. I actually was told that by a member of the Federal Open Market Committee. They are leveraged 80-to-1. They cannot do more. They cannot print another four or eight trillion. They are at the limit of confidence. They are not at the legal limit, by the way. Legally they can do it but they are at the limit of what people will really trust, or before the Congress would intervene.

So the next crisis is going to be bigger than the Fed. It is like they build a five foot sea wall and here comes a forty foot tsunami. There is only one clean balance sheet left in the world and that is the IMF. So the only way you are only going to reliquify the world in the next liquidity crisis is by the IMF printing their world money, these Special Drawing Rights or SDRs, and that is going to be the end of the dollar as a global reserve currency. Because if the IMF is going to print SDRs to reliquify the world they are going to need permission from China and Russia and other members of the IMF. The US has a big voice at the IMF but we do not control it. And so that really is going to be the end of the dollar right there. We may still have dollars — in fact we will — but it will be a local currency like the Mexican peso or Turkish lira. It will just be walking around money. But it will not be used for the important things in the international monetary system. This you can actually see coming. You can see these developments coming.

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 14:46 | 4687433 Peter Pan
Peter Pan's picture

The USA DOES control the IMF and the USA in turn is controlled by a higher level parasite whose name we do not need to mention.

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 01:00 | 4689348 Phil Free
Phil Free's picture

Or dare to mention.  Lest one risks falling prey to some 'random', tragic [read: fatal] accident ...

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 15:20 | 4687584 trader1
trader1's picture

there is no next crisis.

there is solution.  

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 14:26 | 4687358 _ConanTheLibert...
_ConanTheLibertarian_'s picture



1. check

2. check

3. check

4. check

5. check

6. check

7. check

8. check

9. check

10. check

11. check

12. check

Oh shit!


Wed, 04/23/2014 - 14:28 | 4687368 Oh regional Indian
Oh regional Indian's picture

As my Japanese friends would say:


Baad Paaaafomaance!

Otsukaresama Desu!

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