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Guest Post: Complexity And Collapse

Tyler Durden's picture


By Charles Hugh Smith from Of Two Minds

Complexity and Collapse

Adding complexity offers a facsimile of "reform" that actually serves the Prime Directive of fiefdoms and cartels: self-preservation.

The most obvious features of recent political and financial "solutions" are their staggering complexity and their failure to fix what's broken. The first leads to the second. Consider the healthcare "reform," thousands of pages of mind-numbing complexity which slathers on thick layers of bureaucratic control on a system which already costs twice as much per capita as competing developed-world systems.

Sadly, the "reform" simply solidifies the Status Quo fiefdoms and cartels that control the U.S. sickcare system.

The healthcare reform fixes nothing, while further burdening the nation with useless complexity and cost. The same can be said of the Dodd-Frank "reforms" of the embezzlement-based U.S. financial system. The original Glass–Steagall Act separating investment banking from depository banking was a few pages in length; by one count, Dodd-Frank requires that regulators create 243 rules, conduct 67 studies, and issue 22 periodic reports.

Meanwhile, back in reality, the Financial Elites of Wall Street and the "too big to fail" banks still have the nation (and Europe) by the throat.

Complexity is itself a tax; the maintenance cost of complexity is high, and can only be justified when the added complexity solves a critical problem of the society as a whole.

Adding ineffectual complexity leads to diminishing returns, as the complexity itself crushes the system supposedly being "improved" or "reformed."

Here is the "problem" which complexity "solves": it protects Savior State fiefdoms and private-sector cartels from losses. State fiefdoms and cartels have one goal: self-preservation. Once sufficient power and wealth (or control of wealth) is concentrated in a fiefdom or cartel (generally the two are partnered, as each supports the other), then the power can be devoted to limiting losses or encroachment.

That becomes the raison d'etre of the agency or enterprise.

Complexity works beautifully as self-preservation, because it actually expands the bureaucratic power of fiefdoms and widens the moat protecting cartels. Once the fiefdom expands to manage all those new rules, only a handful of corporations can possibly afford the regulatory reporting burdens. They are thus free to exploit the populace as an informal cartel.

I addressed some of these issues in The Cycle of Dependency and the Atrophy of Self-Reliance (July 2, 2011).

Put another way: in the competition with the private sector for scarce capital, the State and corruption always win. That's why kleptocracies and banana republics are characterized by bloated, unaccountable State bureaucracies and systemic corruption: sweetheart deals, no-bid contracts, shadow banking, shadow governance by Elites, inefficient workforces that cannot be fired or held accountable, and so on.

Real solutions require radically simplifying ossified, top-heavy, costly systems. Complexity serves to protect the existing constituencies and cartels; it allows those with the most to lose the cover of "reform." But the reform is only a simulacrum; it claims reform along with its expanded powers, but the result is system that is so complex that it loses all accountability. Complexity is the perfect moat.

This is the idea, of course: banana republics and other kleptocracies always manage to support vast State bureaucracies which enable and support private cartel stripmining of the national wealth.

Note that the Status Quo always supports complex "reforms" and dismisses radical simplification as "impractical." What "impractical" means is that various fiefdoms and cartels would lose swag and power, and that would be painful; thus it is verboten.

The single goal is preserving the revenue and reach of concentrated power centers: State fiefdoms with large constituencies and headcounts, and cartels with no competition and stupendous profits. The two are hand in glove.

But complexity does have an eventual cost: collapse. Keep adding decks to the ship and eventually it capsizes and sinks. One the ship is sufficiently top-heavy, all it takes is a small wave.


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Tue, 07/26/2011 - 16:29 | 1495812 redpill
redpill's picture

This guy can be a bit blathery, but this one line makes up for it...

"Complexity is itself a tax;"

I wish more people understood that concept.

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 16:53 | 1495896 SheepDog-One
SheepDog-One's picture

When you have to fill out a pile of paperwork and get govt approval to buy 10 gallons of gas, yea its a big tax.

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 16:55 | 1495904 Ahmeexnal
Ahmeexnal's picture

complex systems are in reality quite simple

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 19:35 | 1496305 Mercury
Mercury's picture

I dare you to try and get anything significant accomplished through a Massachusetts county land court in under a decade.

Wed, 07/27/2011 - 03:56 | 1497024 AldousHuxley
AldousHuxley's picture
MUST SEE: Flaws of globalization: A prophetic interview with Sir James Goldsmith in 1994 Pt1


Billion Chinese and Indians are willing to work as slaves for the benefit of top 0.1% corporate executives and shareholders. American and European middle class has no chance unless a revolution happens.

Wed, 07/27/2011 - 04:19 | 1497032 AldousHuxley
AldousHuxley's picture

Laura Tyson See Start of a `Lost Decade' for Many Americans

She was a spokesperson in favour of GATT, arguing with Sir James Goldsmith on Charlie Rose that American jobs will be increased by the trade agreement. Now that traitor is saying that displaced workers face lost decade.


LAURA TYSON; Candidates for Obama's Inner Circle

BEING CONSIDERED FOR A top economic post, possibly in a return tour as director of the National Economic Council.



A prophetic interview with Sir James Goldsmith in 1994 Pt2

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 19:38 | 1496317 Rodent Freikorps
Rodent Freikorps's picture

Yeah. It's called bribery.

Grease for the wheels.

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 21:22 | 1496507 Mec-sick-o
Mec-sick-o's picture

I agree if you are talking about organized complexity and emergence.

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 17:08 | 1495943 Ghordius
Ghordius's picture

Therefore: Flat Tax & Balanced Budgets. So simple.

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 19:41 | 1496324 Talleyrand
Talleyrand's picture

How about: No tax & no govt thugs?

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 17:16 | 1495961 SWRichmond
SWRichmond's picture

Yes, by trimming words and choosing them more carefully, CHS has crafted an excellent work.  Really well done.  Should be read by all small business owners.

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 17:17 | 1495964 Bindar Dundat
Bindar Dundat's picture

Complexity is to Democracy is to freedom...


The rule is never ever ever eat anything bigger then your head...

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 17:43 | 1496032 Use of Weapons
Use of Weapons's picture

I gave you a +1, although you're only 50% correct.

Having complexity is indeed an energy tax - for example, having a brain that can process sentience is a large energy tax; huge in fact. However, that large brain allows us to create tools, systems and interpersonal relations that offset this tax and creates a (vastly more) surplus of energy. If this wasn't the case, homo sapiens wouldn't have survived as a species1. In our case the emergent properties of an organised complexity [our minds; actually, probably more social based grammar + language, but that's a much longer thread] (i.e, SENTIENCE) offsets the energy tax of a long period of youth / immaturity [10-13 odd years], helpless babies and the energy demands of the grey matter.

The fact that the GOP doesn't really get this isn't my issue - neither did Ayn Rand. I think the bottom line is that taxes are fine as long as they result in a net increase of surplus. Obviously, they don't always do so - but conversely, they don't always not not provide surplus.


See below for a longer attack on the OP piece - if you want.

  • 1. For now... and no, I'm not getting into Neanderthal DNA, Lizards and Squids tonight
Tue, 07/26/2011 - 22:30 | 1496654 MayIMommaDogFac...
MayIMommaDogFace2theBananaPatch's picture

they don't always not not provide surplus

Triple negative, uh, nice touch...

 Not, not. ;)




Wed, 07/27/2011 - 01:09 | 1496909 snowball777
snowball777's picture

Those babies just aren't pursuing their own rational self-interest...or Randoids merely use objectivism to rationalize behaving like babies.

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 16:29 | 1495814 GeneMarchbanks
GeneMarchbanks's picture

Thank you Captain! Obvious that is.

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 21:07 | 1496450 hedgeless_horseman
hedgeless_horseman's picture





Allison Krauss and Yo-Yo Ma


'Tis the gift to be simple,

'tis the gift to be free,

'tis the gift to come down where you ought to be,

And when we find ourselves in the place just right,

It will be in the valley of love and delight.




When true simplicity is gained,

To bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed.

To turn, turn will be our delight,

'Til by turning, turning we come round right


'Tis the gift to be loved and that love to return,

'Tis the gift to be taught and a richer gift to learn,

And when we expect of o-thers what we try to live each day,

Then we'll all live together and we'll all learn to say,




'Tis the gift to have friends and a true friend to be,

'Tis the gift to think of others not to only think of "me",

And when we hear what others really think and really feel,

Then we'll all live together with a love that is real.





Tue, 07/26/2011 - 16:31 | 1495815 JW n FL
JW n FL's picture

Morning Star

Video: Fear Trumps Greed in June Flows


Worth Watching.

Wed, 07/27/2011 - 02:26 | 1496977 Thorlyx
Thorlyx's picture

One guy said that fear is the beginning of wisdom. Let's hope....

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 16:36 | 1495822 alexanderstollznow
alexanderstollznow's picture

one thing which certainly isnt complex is the mind of Charles Hugh Smith.

for some reason, he seems to be confusing 'big', or 'tall' (in the case of ships), with 'complex'.

there is no cogent concept of complex in the above piece, and nothing which looks like a logical progression at all.  for example, if 'kleptocracies and banana republics' share, inter-alia, the feature of inefficient workforces which cant be sacked, how is it that America's unemployment rose so quickly over a couple of years, as a result of it being sacked?

Charles, please note, that ships can be very complex without adding more levels until they roll over. 

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 16:55 | 1495903 r101958
r101958's picture

Umhhh......the folks being sacked, for the most part, were not government workers......

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 17:04 | 1495937 SheepDog-One
SheepDog-One's picture

Well just replace a 'tall ship' with a ridiculous Rube Goldberg contraption.

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 17:40 | 1496027 SWRichmond
SWRichmond's picture

Obviously you are an amployee and not an employer, and not an accountant.  SMall business owners know exactly what he is talking about.

"This government will operate like an ambuscade." - Patrick Henry, at the Virginia Ratification Debates, 9 June 1788.

An extended wuote:

A number of characters, of the greatest eminence in this country, object to this government for its consolidating tendency. This is not imaginary. It is a formidable reality. If consolidation proves to be as mischievous to this country as it has been to other countries, what will the poor inhabitants of this country do? This government will operate like an ambuscade. It will destroy the state governments, and swallow the liberties of the people, without giving previous notice. If gentlemen are willing to run the hazard, let them run it; but I shall exculpate myself by my opposition and monitory warnings within these walls. But then comes paper money. We are at peace on this subject. Though this is a thing which that mighty federal Convention had no business with, yet I acknowledge that paper money would be the bane of this country. I detest it. Nothing can justify a people in resorting to it but extreme necessity.


Tue, 07/26/2011 - 21:45 | 1496573 Frankie Carbone
Frankie Carbone's picture

Uhh, your wiring is complex. Perhaps someone should check for short circuits. I mean,... what the fuck exactly are you trying to say again?????

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 16:33 | 1495833 EscapeKey
EscapeKey's picture

Tainter: The Collapse of Complex Societies

An absolutely brilliant book. Societies collapse because there's no longer an economic reason for them to exist.

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 16:43 | 1495862 cossack55
cossack55's picture

Follow on read:   Collapse   by Jared Diamond

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 17:16 | 1495962 Sophist Economicus
Sophist Economicus's picture

Collapse = Liberal Horseshit.

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 17:20 | 1495972 JPMorgan
JPMorgan's picture

I also recommend the documentaries Collapse with Michael Ruppert and Zeitgeist - Moving Forward.

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 17:34 | 1496010 EscapeKey
EscapeKey's picture

Zeitgeist MF = communist propaganda. I really didn't like it.

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 18:45 | 1496172 Absinthe Minded
Absinthe Minded's picture

I connected with "Collapse". Michael Ruppert, though a bit dramatic, I believe is on to the real end game. It's oil, plain and simple. We all realize we are critically depending on a finite source. The question about collapse is not if, but when. I pray that my 15 year old daughter will actually be able to drive her own car, and that's only a year and a half away. I've loved cars all my life and it's hard to imagine a life without them. If you haven't seen "Collapse", you owe it to yourself to see it, if just for the insight about everything we use oil for. A very sobering wake up call.

Wed, 07/27/2011 - 00:32 | 1496870 Rhodin
Rhodin's picture

I disagree, not on the importance of oil, but on the idea it is in short supply by scarcity.

The oil price is managed by megabanks somewhat inversely to how they manage the silver price.  (ie. they want as high a price as the market will bear)

  "Peak Oil" propaganda eases the acceptance of the high price, if that fails they will try the "Global Warming"/ carbon tax again or some such scheme.  One way or another they extract higher revenue most of the time.  The price has little relation to the supply, but supply ia also managed, sometimes with troops.   Most info relative to reserves, supply, consumption etc. is controlled by the banks that control the cartel.  When supply escapes their control for awhile (it does) they arrange problems at a refinery or two, or stage a war in oil production territory.   Someday they may lose control, until then they could easily arrange a fake collapse if they thought it would gain them more control, revenue, and/or further the NWO. 

Wed, 07/27/2011 - 06:36 | 1497066 BlackVoid
BlackVoid's picture

You are wrong.

If oil was not scarce, the Saudis would not start drilling under the Persian Gulf. Yet they do.

If oil was not scarce, there would be no drilling in the Mexican Gulf. Yet, there is.

I oil was not scarce, there would be no oilsand projects. Yet, there are.


Besides, mainstream propaganda does everything it can to deny / ignore Peak Oil. A sure sign that it is not an agenda, but a real thing.

Wed, 07/27/2011 - 11:59 | 1498101 Rhodin
Rhodin's picture

You are wrong

Perhaps.  I previously agreed with peak oil, and was either wrong then or now!  Since i can't know how much i don't know, and the reliability of most info in this area is suspect, i try to keep an open mind.

If oil was not scarce, the Saudis would not start drilling under the Persian Gulf. Yet they do.

If oil was not scarce, there would be no drilling in the Mexican Gulf. Yet, there is.

I oil was not scarce, there would be no oilsand projects. Yet, there are.

Yes, known ultra cheap to produce oil is scarce, but all of the production mentioned is profitable at current prices.   Considering who is doing the producing, the price will be supported in the face of decreasing demand and/or increasing supply as long as possible. 

The Saudis are obviously less than transparent.  Are they hiding that they are running out (as many believe) in shared fear of loss of oil market control?  Or are they hiding an "off the books" reserve out of fear of invasion and/or oil market crash? 

A acquaintance (fof) spent most of last year checking capped unproduced wells for leaks in the gulf.

Besides, mainstream propaganda does everything it can to deny / ignore Peak Oil. A sure sign that it is not an agenda, but a real thing.

Have you considered that that is precicely the conclusion you are supposed to reach?  You also get to fell superior to MSM in the process which reinforces your belief. Diabolical!



Tue, 07/26/2011 - 23:03 | 1496741 OldTrooper
OldTrooper's picture

Zeitgeist is somewhat interesting, as long as you can spot the obvious flaws in their 'final solutions'.

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 18:03 | 1496066 HarryHaller
HarryHaller's picture


Tainter's book is like zooming out from our every day life to understand how the zeitgeist of today fits with the history of civilization in its entirety.


1st of 7 part series of a lecture by Tainter that describes the basics of his thesis in the book:


The book is still well worth the time, even if you're just reading the three examples of collapse Tainter covers in detail (Roman, Chacko, & Maya) and the conclusion.

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 20:44 | 1496419 Atomizer
Atomizer's picture

A brief description by Tainter of his collapse theory

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 18:14 | 1496089 Atomizer
Atomizer's picture

I'll link the video, once at home desktop.

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 18:22 | 1496097 Use of Weapons
Use of Weapons's picture

Interesting, so thankyou

At 5.26+ he makes the clear distinction between what he considers "not complexity" and "complexity" - organisation + differentiation are both required. He also, earlier in the talk, notes that he's not using the term in the same way that physics or biology does. Well, he is - but he's bastardising it. Which is a shame, as the points he's made so far are somewhat interesting [specialisation as a precursor to modernity is a theme close to many anarchist thinkers].

Other than that, it is a bit painful to watch him mis-use a very rigorously defined concept with his simplified version - grrrr.

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 19:54 | 1496354 HarryHaller
HarryHaller's picture

From a layman's perspecitve, I think Tainter's 'bastardization' (for lack of a better term) is an attempt to explain complexity in a way that anthropology hasn't addressed in the past.  Social complexity tends to be discussed as a phenomena and a byproduct of culture in the social sciences, with the processes or agents that create it being distinctly separate.  Tainter argues that what's important isn't so much as to how it comes into being, but how complexity plays an active role - as a strategy that is used by society rather than just a result created by social specialization.

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 16:36 | 1495844 max2205
max2205's picture

Buy AMZN and short SPY...till you die

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 16:37 | 1495845 silver surfer
silver surfer's picture

This rant reminds of The State by Anthony de Jasay. He goes into great detail about this subjets. From the minimal state to the totalitarian state.

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 16:38 | 1495849 traderjoe
traderjoe's picture

Allow me to formally object to the new comment rating system: (1) it's more cluttered and harder to get through as many comments; (2) it smacks of a popularity contest; and (3) it slows down the user experience. I used to actually scan the comments first before reading an article - typically great comments and reviews which allowed me to determine whether I should read the entire article.

I've learned a lot from my fellow ZH'ers, and am indebted to TD for the creation and support of such a community. Some of the comments - especially from the ZH greats - were long comments and even tutorials per se. A LOT of information was packed into the comment section - both in form and format.

But the new systems reminds me of Marketwatch - and the fight to see who can get more up arrows than others. It's a system that plays more to pithy quips and jokes, than substantiative commentary.

For my part - not all progress is good. Cheers...

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 16:42 | 1495860 Roamin Fro
Roamin Fro's picture

I agree... thumbs up ;)

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 17:17 | 1495965 Buckaroo Banzai
Buckaroo Banzai's picture

One really nice thing about the new commenting system-- it looks a LOT better on smartphones than the old system did.

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 17:23 | 1495980 traderjoe
traderjoe's picture

It's a lot more cluttered on my iPhone 3Gs. And slower to load as well (though TD said somewhere that the load performance should improve over time). 

The boxes, shading, and comments take up too much real estate. And it was easier to hit the junk button than one of the two arrows...

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 17:28 | 1495992 Buckaroo Banzai
Buckaroo Banzai's picture

Really? I think it looks better on the iPhone. On the old system, comments would get more and more difficult to read the more nested they were. In a big comment thread eventually  it would just look like this:


s is




t tha

t you

are t


g to r


Tue, 07/26/2011 - 17:39 | 1496023 traderjoe
traderjoe's picture

True to that part. I haven't seen an extended conversation on the new system yet, so can't comment. For the regular comments, personally I think it's harder to read - there's less on each 'screen' (i.e. more scrolling). 

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 22:56 | 1496721 saulysw
saulysw's picture

Should we just add a few replies here and see what happens?

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 23:38 | 1496631 tip e. canoe
tip e. canoe's picture

if 'anyone' wanted a way to easily quantify the ZHeitgeist, they just got it handed to them on a silver platter.

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 22:41 | 1496682 MayIMommaDogFac...
MayIMommaDogFace2theBananaPatch's picture

It's a system that plays more to pithy quips and jokes, than substantiative commentary.

You're talking about our economic/political system now, right?  Am I right!?!?


Tue, 07/26/2011 - 22:58 | 1496728 saulysw
saulysw's picture

Let's test your theory...

Q : Why did the toiler paper roll down the hill?

A: To get to the bottom

Ok, so it's not the best, but perhaps it will do!

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 16:38 | 1495850 oogs66
oogs66's picture

The latest European bailout may be the last level of complexity before collapse there.

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 16:46 | 1495877 Caviar Emptor
Caviar Emptor's picture

No. Not if planning and power become increasingly centralized. They can keep even the most ridiculous system going with enough will. Look at how the aristocratic system survived centuries in Europe, spending money on palaces and parties using tax money despite all of the Democratic ideals floating around

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 16:48 | 1495882 EscapeKey
EscapeKey's picture

A contributing reason for the collapse of the Ottoman Empire was tax-free foundations - a large amount of total wealth had simply been moved beyond taxation. With the Carnegie, Rockefeller, Gates, ... foundations, one wonders what the equivalent percent in today's terms is.

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 16:52 | 1495892 Caviar Emptor
Caviar Emptor's picture

Yes. I've made the dire prediction that going forward, more wealth will be inherited than created in America. Social mobility will become increasingly difficult and eventually impossible without connections

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 20:35 | 1496409 New World Chaos
New World Chaos's picture

We may never know.  When you get up to those levels you don't even declare your wealth, let alone pay taxes on it.  Rothschilds pass it down through various offshore trusts, bank holding companies, Bank of England Nominees, etc.  In the unlikely case of anyone untangling the complexity, they just get their bought-off politicians to rubberstamp it.  Estimates of their wealth range well into the trillions and the only way to sever the control it represents would be to have a total systemic collapse.

Wed, 07/27/2011 - 00:23 | 1496855 HarryHaller
Tue, 07/26/2011 - 17:20 | 1495971 Buckaroo Banzai
Buckaroo Banzai's picture

You've got it exactly backwards: highly centralized systems are much, much more organizationally complex than decentralized systems. The feudal system was quite decentralized, relatively speaking, that's why it lasted so long, it took the enclosure movement to break it.

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 16:39 | 1495853 tamboo
tamboo's picture

complexity disguises the fact that everything is a ponzi... err, business model.

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 16:42 | 1495858 Arch Duke Ferdinand
Arch Duke Ferdinand's picture

FINALLY!!! First Average American Finally Speaks Out Against the Status Quo American Government...

OT: Hilarious 2 Min Vid...

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 16:42 | 1495859 Caviar Emptor
Caviar Emptor's picture

One direct consequence of the bailouts of 2008-9 was the stiffling of real competition. The Fed and DC picked winners and losers. By preserving the failed banks, financials, and large corporations that would otherwise have failed or broken up, the direct rsult was failing to allow new entrants with new ideas to enter the market and compete. 

Creative destruction was short-circuited and failed winners were picked (AIG, BAC I'm looking your way), and so were losers (BSC, LEH). 

That marked the end of meaningful capitalism. Once enough huge exceptions to the rules are allowed, you have changed the game entirely. 

We move toward more central planning from here, not less. Don't let them fool you. It must continue to preserve the precarious balance they've created

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 16:45 | 1495873 cossack55
cossack55's picture

Damn. CE.  You just replaced the above article.  Love that succinctness.

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 16:48 | 1495881 Caviar Emptor
Caviar Emptor's picture

Thanks. I feel really passionate about this. Because everytime we accept another debt ceiling raise, bailout and rescue package we are allowing ourselves to move one step closer to authoritarian rule. It's a bribe aimed at keeping people asleep at the swtich while power over the economy and people gets more and more concentrated

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 16:55 | 1495905 SheepDog-One
SheepDog-One's picture

Sure, in other words fascism was implemented.

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 16:57 | 1495914 Caviar Emptor
Caviar Emptor's picture

Yup. Just a diluted form, but everytime there's a crisis, the power gets consolidated. 

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 17:24 | 1495981 Buckaroo Banzai
Buckaroo Banzai's picture

This is a fundamental problem with complex, centralized, hierarchical organizations like our Federal gov't : they react to stress and crisis by becoming MORE centralized and hierarchical. It is a negative feedback loop that, if left unchecked, leads to dictatorship and violent collapse.

Wed, 07/27/2011 - 06:15 | 1497052 Zero Govt
Zero Govt's picture

it is zero to do with Govt complexity. Govt is not complex, it is a huge wasteland of dumbed-down people following dumb policies/rules and doing dumb jobs in the main (98% dull). It is the top 2% of the heirachy you need to focus on and they live hand-to-mouth, day to day with no planning, no commercial discipline, trying to enforce new rules and reacting to the last disaster, usually a disaster they created (see them working on a 'non-solution' to the property crisis they created, the bankrupt healthcare, pesnions and social systems etc).

you are quite correct to say the elite here are a negative feedback loop and it leads to more authoritism. The negative feedback loop is genertaed by it being a monopoly (of authority/power) in society. Monopoly feeds into the human ego, you can do what you want, as apposed to a competition mechanism (like a free market) where you have to compete with competitiors and please consumers. Competition keeps the human ego in check and answerable to others. Monopolies let the human ego run riot (Hitler, Mao, Stalin and our 3 wars going on 5 US/British coalition). In a monopoly you answer to nobody, your ego is not checked by competition or having to produce for society/consumers. You live in a vacuum of your own ego, your brain is not tested and does not have to compete, so you can be unlimited dumb and an unlimited Diva

the problem with Govt is it is a monopoly. Period.

Everything Govt does wrong, which is everything, can be explained (and predicted) by the monopoly (verus competition) mechanism

Everything i've read on the subject of Govt by all the many gurus and wise men and the likes of Charles Hugh Smith above is descriptive of the problems with Govt. But none have explained the mechanism that is causing the problem with Govt. When you understand the simple but powerful mechanism behind all this ignorance, lunacy and authoritism you not only understand why the problems occur but you can predict where it's leading to

and you also come to the conclusion why me must rid our society of this utterly bankrupt and ignorant system of 'governance' and why only a free society and free markets work and must be the solution 

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 16:45 | 1495864 Rodent Freikorps
Rodent Freikorps's picture

But American elites are way smarter than all the other super smart people who tried this stuff and failed.

This time it'll be different because the Ivy League smart guys are the smartest smart guys who ever lived.


Tue, 07/26/2011 - 16:50 | 1495887 Cheesy Bastard
Cheesy Bastard's picture

Sadly, there is one less smartest guy in the world.  The congressman from Oregon, Mr. Sulu in a tiger suit, announced he will resign at some undetermined point in the future.  What ever shall we do?

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 16:56 | 1495908 Caviar Emptor
Caviar Emptor's picture

Lol. Know what you mean. But the ones to look out for aren't the smartest, but the most devious. And there's no shortage 

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 16:56 | 1495909 firefighter302
firefighter302's picture

Of course they are, Rodent F.

With educators like Ben Bernanke, how could the Ivy leaguers not be the smartest guys in the room?

The minds of Mendeleev, Tesla, Einstein and Da Vinci pale in comparison to the brilliance of masters thinkers like Timmay and Ben Bernanke. <beyond sarcasm>


Tue, 07/26/2011 - 17:00 | 1495922 SheepDog-One
SheepDog-One's picture

Rodent, youve got to get back to basics and remember these people such as Bernank and Jeethner were not put there to fix anything, but selected as top demolition experts.

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 16:50 | 1495886 MacchuPicchu
MacchuPicchu's picture

I don't necessarily disagree with this but put up some data or STFU. This post was so light in the ass I felt like I was reading AlterNet. 

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 17:01 | 1495927 Herne the Hunter
Herne the Hunter's picture

Here are your datapoints:

Roman Empire

Persian Empire

Ottoman Empire

British Empire

etc. etc. etc.

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 20:40 | 1496413 Zero Govt
Zero Govt's picture

..and last but not least the American Empire (1945- 2015)

70 years was getting a bit long in the tooth to be fair

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 16:52 | 1495893 Buzz Fuzzel
Buzz Fuzzel's picture

The only effective form of human regulation is FEAR of FAILURE.  All other government regulations serve one purpose, the consolidation of power.  Liberty and the freedom to fail are the enemy of tyrants, despots and powerful people everywhere.

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 16:53 | 1495895 r101958
r101958's picture

"Complexity is the perfect moat". This is exactly correct. Imagine yourself going to just about any government office to get anything done. Complexity automatically puts those that are not on the other side of the moat in a position of dependence. They are forced to depend on those within the bureaucracy to tell them the truth and treat them as equals. How often do you feel like an equal when in a government office?

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 18:10 | 1496081 Shell Game
Shell Game's picture

Case in point, the nearly collapsed world fiat system.  The endgame accelerated as the rolling over of debt, the underlying basis of fiat, became increasingly complex as did the underlying securities.  Statists do not know the K.I.S.S. principle..

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 16:53 | 1495897 Joaquin Menendez
Joaquin Menendez's picture

I don't like this ship analogy though I agree with the sentiment.  It is impossible to understand exactly how a complex system collapses but perhaps iminent collapse can be diagnosed.  Running a small farm, I notice that there are fewer and fewer local places where I can buy supplies, tractor parts, etc.  Eventually, all the places will be gone, replaced by home depot where I cannot get the things I need to keep a farm going.  I notice that water, fertilizer, and diesel for the tractor are getting more expensive; crushing my margins.  Labor is really hard to get and more expensive.  Will all these farms around my neck of the woods eventually dry up because the infrastructure supporting them is gone?   Think about the automobile.  There needs to be enough gas stations such that driving a car is practical; so that you can get gas when you need it but if too many gas stations disappear then driving will become impractical in some areas and the automobile culture in the U.S. might collapse. 

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 16:58 | 1495916 SheepDog-One
SheepDog-One's picture

He should have just used Rube Goldberg contraptions for example, fun to draw such complex machines on paper, but in real life they would never work. What we now have today requires teams of repairmen 24/7 just to keep the thing from flying into a billion pieces.

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 17:21 | 1495975 Rodent Freikorps
Rodent Freikorps's picture

Yeah. Buy bar stock, an arc welder, a lathe and a drill press.

You won't have to do engine work if you can modify the tractor to accept whatever engine you can find. I have a few small and big block chevys just in case.

People will pay you to haul off waste. Use it to fertilize.

Adapt, overcome.

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 17:02 | 1495930 r101958
r101958's picture

I believe he is writing about the U.S. government and not about the entire country. The complexity of all the government rules. As government get larger and the rules/regulations for all business/individuals become more complex there is an ever decreasing return, for all those not in the government, on the increase in complexity. I may be incorrect but I believe this is one of the aspects about which he wrote.

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 17:21 | 1495974 scatterbrains
scatterbrains's picture

Speaking of which, where can I find large 50lbs+ bags of diatomaceous earth ?

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 19:27 | 1496285 TheMerryPrankster
TheMerryPrankster's picture

Search locally on craigslist or try feed stores if you have any locally. DE is so bulky that the shipping will be 2x the cost of the DE.

on the internets:

(food grade - safe for treating rice/grain etc.)


Tue, 07/26/2011 - 22:11 | 1496619 tip e. canoe
tip e. canoe's picture

Autozone - they sell it as "oil absorbant"

they have 2 kinds : one is DE, one is Montmorillonite clay, also good

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 16:57 | 1495906 carbonmutant
carbonmutant's picture


S&P clarified it is not taking a position on debt ceiling talks.

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 16:59 | 1495918 Herne the Hunter
Herne the Hunter's picture

It's the way of the Romans. Complexity leads to vast misallocation of resources and a populace used to ever increasing misallocation of resources (i.e. "yes, I need my Hummer to go around Starbucks to buy a venti frappa mocca whatever the fuckacchino") until those resources become unavailable and society collapses.

The question is, when will it finally, finally, finally happen?

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 17:23 | 1495982 Ghordius
Ghordius's picture

If you really want to compare to the Romans: the shift from a militia/draft to a professional army that did their fall to tiranny.

When? Slowly, slowly...

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 19:32 | 1496298 TheMerryPrankster
TheMerryPrankster's picture

romans didn't run the empire on petroleum. Oil is the weakest link, the U.S. military is one of the biggest users. At some point they will have to de facto seize the wells to ensure supplies for the military, which means the rest of the world runs dry.

A very big weak link waiting to snap.


Tue, 07/26/2011 - 16:59 | 1495919 Herne the Hunter
Herne the Hunter's picture


Tue, 07/26/2011 - 16:59 | 1495920 FunkyMonkeyBoy
FunkyMonkeyBoy's picture

One things for sure, with the $dollar index looking so weak there is no way in hell the Bernanke Shalom is going to do QE3, it would be instant $dollar death.

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 17:08 | 1495940 buzzsaw99
buzzsaw99's picture

if you knew the bernanke like i know the bernanke...

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 17:11 | 1495946 EscapeKey
EscapeKey's picture

QE3 will ultimately be rubberstamped. They just need to fabricate a crisis elsewhere before it gets the go-ahead.

We haven't heard anything bad out of the UK or Japan for a while. Isn't it about their turn?

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 17:16 | 1495957 buzzsaw99
buzzsaw99's picture

the bernankio, i need you:

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 23:42 | 1496804 OldTrooper
OldTrooper's picture

I still give the Bernank until labor day to start the presses.  What has he done that makes you think he gives a damn about the dollar?

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 17:01 | 1495924 Caviar Emptor
Caviar Emptor's picture

I'm saying there won't be a collapse if each time there's a near-collapse (aka 'crisis') they simply consolidate power even more. 

We're already at the point that most Americans feel that the country will implode unless the DC and Fed guys are allowed to have their way. Nobody shrugs it off anymore. Nobody thinks that the private sector is vital enough to pick up the slack or that the 'ship' can right itself through tradtional free market forces

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 17:03 | 1495934 Fix It Again Timmy
Fix It Again Timmy's picture

United States of Machinations - building questionable edifices up to the stars on a foundation of quicksand...

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 17:05 | 1495939 SheepDog-One
SheepDog-One's picture

Last acts of failed empires---

Monetizing the debt-check.

Implementing ever more severe centralized control- check.

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 17:09 | 1495944 Caviar Emptor
Caviar Emptor's picture

"New dollars" and jackboots

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 17:21 | 1495977 MobBarley
MobBarley's picture



Sir, we have a peculair situation approaching October 31st....Sir, I do know that that is Halloween.

No, I'm not trying to pull a prank here...Sir, the only flaming shit bag you'll be stomping out

is...well...the entire earth.



Tue, 07/26/2011 - 17:36 | 1496017 Use of Weapons
Use of Weapons's picture

Disorganised or Organised complexity?

One of the problems in addressing complexity issues has been distinguishing conceptually between the large number of variances in relationships extant in random collections, and the sometimes large, but smaller, number of relationships between elements in systems where constraints (related to correlation of otherwise independent elements) simultaneously reduce the variations from element independence and create distinguishable regimes of more-uniform, or correlated, relationships, or interactions.

Weaver perceived and addressed this problem, in at least a preliminary way, in drawing a distinction between "disorganized complexity" and "organized complexity".

In Weaver's view, disorganized complexity results from the particular system having a very large number of parts, say millions of parts, or many more. Though the interactions of the parts in a "disorganized complexity" situation can be seen as largely random, the properties of the system as a whole can be understood by using probability and statistical methods...

Organized complexity, in Weaver's view, resides in nothing else than the non-random, or correlated, interaction between the parts. These correlated relationships create a differentiated structure that can, as a system, interact with other systems. The coordinated system manifests properties not carried or dictated by individual parts. The organized aspect of this form of complexity vis a vis to other systems than the subject system can be said to "emerge," without any "guiding hand". [Note: this is not the invisible hand!]

The number of parts does not have to be very large for a particular system to have emergent properties. A system of organized complexity may be understood in its properties (behavior among the properties) through modeling and simulation, particularly modeling and simulation with computers. An example of organized complexity is a city neighborhood as a living mechanism, with the neighborhood people among the system's parts


I ask this, because ironically I had just finished - Early warning signals for critical transitions: A generalized modeling approach
Steven J. Lade?, Thilo Gross
Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems, Nöthnitzer Str. 38, 01187 Dresden, Germany
? E-mail:

Fisheries, coral reefs, productive farmland, planetary climate, neural activity in the brain, and financial markets are all complex systems that can be susceptible to sudden changes leading to drastic re-organization or collapse. A variety of signals based on analysis of time-series data have been proposed that would provide warning of these so-called critical transitions. The amount of data these approaches require, however, can be prohibitive, especially in ecological contexts. We propose a new method for calculating early warning signals that can significantly reduce the amount of data required. The key step is to incorporate other readily available information about the system through the framework of a so-called generalized model. Our new approach may help to anticipate future catastrophic regime shifts in nature and society, allowing humankind to avert or to mitigate the consequences of the impending change.

Comment: the OP piece doesn't understand the difference between the two. It is precisely the problem that modern Financial packages are constructed viewing the market as a disorganised complexity rather than organised.This is the current huge problem: like the myth of 'homo econimus', the myth that computers allow you to accurately model and control complexity is a total fudge - it works (given enough computation power) for disorganised systems, but not Organised Complexity - due to emergence! This is why the current system is a total chaos of disorganised complexity (the OP's complaint of millions upon millions of interactions all designed to fix / mitigate / control / rule on non-conforming types of said complexity) when you look at the legal documents but in reality is an organised complexity that is getting beyond control. <If you've not watched this series, its worth a gander to get a grasp of the issues. And it totally slaughters Ayn Rand + Greenspan, btw.)


@ OP - If you didn't know that this is why the SIHTF & the algos are guaranteed to break the market sooner rather than later [oops! another flash crash!] then you should exit the building right now. At the very least, please up the complexity of your opinions into something a little more mature & insightful.

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 20:31 | 1496404 Zero Govt
Zero Govt's picture

Weaver i presume is an academic because what you've written of him demonstrates academia very well... his mind has wandered aimlessly (without commercial discipline) up his own rectum

i've never read such garbage in my life (although Bernanks speeches are close to being as delusional)

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 20:54 | 1496439 DOT
DOT's picture


Tue, 07/26/2011 - 21:39 | 1496551 malek
malek's picture

You fit perfectly on the bandwagon of the "more complexity = better" crowd. Just look at the paper you bring up: hey, we need to replace the disorganized complexity model with a (more complex) oganized complexity model, and everything will be fine!

Too bad you are either unable or unwilling to understand the OP's intention.

"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius -- and a lot of courage -- to move in the opposite direction." – Albert Einstein

Wed, 07/27/2011 - 07:24 | 1497101 Use of Weapons
Use of Weapons's picture

Again, you're mis-using the word "complexity".

The analogy is that of people saying "Well, Darwin's THEORY is only a theory, right? That means Creationism has the same weight as a THEORY". The problem is, of course, that the word THEORY here doesn't mean the chips and beans simple Simon version they want. Nor does you using COMPLEXITY. The organised complexity model co-exists with the disorganised complexity model, and describes the difference between non-emergent complex systems [disorganised complexity. e.g. the molecules within a gas in a sealed container and the interactions withn them; incredibly computer intensive to model, however with the correct equations, possible] and ones with emergent properties.

Try just using "COMPLICATED' : it'll save us both a lot of issues, as at the moment you're not actually saying what you think you're saying.

And, for the record - the Weaver quotation is simple Wikipedia referencing, to show you that the term isn't one you can use like a layman (as the OP does - and I'm betting 100-1 he mis-used "simulacrum" as well, but there we go). The PAPER I cited ( Early warning signals for critical transitions: A generalized modeling approach) actually makes prediction of critical transitions require LESS information [and thus, in your incorrect usage of the term, less "complexity' - actually, it requires less information density, making it more efficient, but hey].

"The grand aim of all science is to cover the greatest number of empirical facts by logical deduction from the smallest number of hypotheses or axioms." - Albert Einstein



Oh, and I understood the OP's intention (FIEFDOM) well enough - he's selling an opinion. I happen to have a more COMPLEX view of the world, and thus do not buy it. I might sympathise with some of the sentiment, however it hasn't blown my mind away.

Wed, 07/27/2011 - 19:46 | 1499901 malek
malek's picture

Yes, you have an UNNECESSARY complex view of the world, so you will never get it that we need simplification - it would shatter your world view completely.

Run 10 models in parallel if you like - it will not give you clearer results, just additional contradictions, between the models.
Darwin's theory is based on very SIMPLE rules, and therefore easily wins Occam's razor test against some invisible, unobservable hand.
Organized complexity is just a fancy name for a model with a few more (usually) positive feedback loops, but as the factor (or even the sign) of the feedback can change slowly or fast, you will never be able to forecast anything meaningful including outliers.

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 17:37 | 1496018 DOT
DOT's picture

The problem of ever expanding complexity stems from  the lack of meaningful metrics to measure the productivity of the bureaucracy.

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 17:49 | 1496042 gwar5
gwar5's picture



Rickards has discussed complex systems a lot.  Fun topic.

The bigger and more complex an artificial system is, the more they become interdependent and more likely to collapse. Tinkering with a Rube Goldberg device, which our economy has become, is fraught with untold unexpected consequences. 

We already know this to be the case, so they are no really longer "unexpected".  Yet central planners continue to poke and tinker and corrupt the system thinking there can be no limit.

Central planners can no more recreate and maintain a manipulated economy than they can a tropical rainforest.

Free market systems tend to be self correcting. Some chaos is actually healthy because the system has evolved to allow for creative destructive, and the rapid turnover and efficient reallocation of resources. In large, artificially maintained systems, this could be like a major blocked sewer pipe that backs up, causing otherwise healthy pipes to fail.


Tue, 07/26/2011 - 20:21 | 1496396 Zero Govt
Zero Govt's picture

Rickards is talking crap

the larger, more complex and inter-dependent a system it is NOT more likely to collapse

Capitalism is exactly like nature, and nature is fucking complex and interdependent (food chains etc) and it does not follow more likely to collapse.

We are becoming more interdependent through the internet but because the web is like nature built on a million diverse and disparate individual parts it is far far stronger and more resilient to shocks or change than a single large structure like Govt 

Free market systems are self correcting, that's because individuals within it are self sufficient, interdependence only goes so far, dependence is a structural weakness, competion (choices) resolves that weakness 

"Some chaos is actually healthy because the system has evolved to allow for creative destructive.."

There's no such thing as creative destruction. Period. If you damage or destroy something it's errrr destructive. Your body is designed for damage, if it gets hit it repairs but the scar will remain. If you're buried someone else might take your job. But at no point is destruction creative in any way, it is a cost

"Central planners can no more recreate and maintain a manipulated economy than they can a tropical rainforest"

Yep. Central planners cannot represent 60 million diverse consumers opinions nor can they out-think 20 different entrepenuers. Central planners can only represent themselves and their own egos and hand down their one-size-fits-all policy... hence the West produced 200 cars of infinite variety and tatses and budgets and styles and the Russians got dumped with the pile of absolute backward shite that was the Trabbant

The State cannot out-think either society or the free market... the State is a lame duck, and hopefully a dead one shortly too

Wed, 07/27/2011 - 07:47 | 1497127 Use of Weapons
Use of Weapons's picture

the larger, more complex and inter-dependent a system it is NOT more likely to collapse

I'm guessing you don't know much about ecology, right?

Capitalism is exactly like nature,

Wrong - for one thing, it isn't fractal

and nature is fucking complex and interdependent (food chains etc) and it does not follow more likely to collapse.

Wrong - try . Your view of 'nature' is based on 1950's cybernetic system theory, and so far out of date to be a fucking joke. Which is why you need to watch the video I posted, you might wake the fuck up a little bit. Hint: stabilised equilibrium, google it, try and read some of the work on it.

We are becoming more interdependent through the internet

Citation? Facebook =/= interdependent.

but because the web is like nature

Wrong, and fucking lazy - the web is actually a monoculture, underneath the hood. Your 20,000 types of car - they're all still 4 wheels on a combustion engine, you muppet. [Or: control methods in 'democratic' systems - infinite choice within absolute boundaries]

built on a million diverse and disparate individual parts

Wrong - it is built on binary, and a billion identical parts that can communicate with one another. TCP you muppet.

it is far far stronger and more resilient to shocks or change than a single large structure like Govt

Wrong - that is why governments can switch the web off, and any fool with box cutters could do likewise [fiber optic is still a physical pipeline]

Free market systems are self correcting,

Wrong - and you claim I'm the one who has a faith in theory that has never been proven?

that's because individuals within it are self sufficient,

Wrong - very few individuals are self-sufficient within the modern system. Perhaps 0.2%. Likewise, only about 2% of net users can get online without their ISP [the others use... hmm. Let's say, there's a few methods, none of which you most likely know about)

interdependence only goes so far, dependence is a structural weakness, competion (choices) resolves that weakness

I don't think you know what interdependence means. In fact, I'm sure of it:


interdependence [??nt?d??p?nd?ns]

dependence between two or more people, groups, or things the interdependence of economies interdependency  n .

For someone claiming I was talking rubbish, you sir are full of shit. And I don't mean "a little bit full of shit" I mean US Government levels of shit. Now get the fuck out before you shame yourself some more with your meaningless rhetoric.
Tue, 07/26/2011 - 17:49 | 1496043 margaris
margaris's picture


The author uses this word 9 times in this short article, that is curious.


Tue, 07/26/2011 - 19:45 | 1496330 Puck Xue
Puck Xue's picture

Of two minds, Charles adopts terms the way some people treat women.

He has a dozen or so foster words .*





* Simulacrum was last years adoptee


Tue, 07/26/2011 - 17:52 | 1496046 Jstanley011
Jstanley011's picture

The complexity of governmental command systems pales in comparison to the complexity of free agents acting and reacting to the signals of a free market. Command systems fail, not because they are too complex but because, being contrived, they are too simple.

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 22:11 | 1496620 mickeyman
mickeyman's picture

The system being created is really simple in terms of dynamics. It appears complex because of the number of bizarre and sometimes contradictory contrivances that make it up.

Unfortunately, these contrivances create an immediate profit-making opportunity for those who can figure out how to maneouvre around them. These entities than have an immediate arbitrageable advantage over everyone else. Immense profits are made via this form of arbitrage, and unfortunately for our society, the size of these potential profits is greater than can be acquired by doing something socially useful.

Real complexity in the system would lead to innovation, and to a possible overturning of the system, including the fortunes of those on top. Real complexity is undersirable to these interests for just this reason.

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 18:20 | 1496100 Atomizer
Atomizer's picture

There is really no complexity rather, debt saturation peak. We are at a fork in the road. The choices are to hyperinflate or default.

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 19:52 | 1496338 Zero Govt
Zero Govt's picture

their 'choice' is that of shuffling the deckchairs on the Titanic in fact no choice at all because their fate is sealed whichever deckchair they collapse on

the hyperinflation route would cause havoc and ruin the entire nation for the sake of the collective decisions of a handful of scumbags in Washington

the default route would ring-fence the damage limitation to the US Govt and public sector who ran up the debt and limit the damage to the wider country

they'll probably destroy the country route and take everyone down the sewer with them 

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 18:20 | 1496101 Dr. Porkchop
Dr. Porkchop's picture

It must be so easy to be a political cartoonist. You don't even have to write material.


Tue, 07/26/2011 - 19:35 | 1496309 TheMerryPrankster
TheMerryPrankster's picture

You just have to find a newspaper that hasn't gone tits up that will pay you a living wage and that agrees with your political views, no work at all. The money just falls from the trees...

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 18:21 | 1496103 lovejoy
lovejoy's picture

Have you ever wondered what unemployment would be without complexity. Complexity is agnoltogy. It is built into the economy to give millions of attorneys, CPAs, police and civil servants their jobs. Put the tax code into 5 pages and junk a large chunk of the laws of this nation and I bet unemployment climbs to 40%. Add improved productivity as a result  and unemployment climbs to 50% unless we have a 10 hour work week.

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 18:23 | 1496106 AchtungAffen
AchtungAffen's picture

I cringe when I see Charles use Tainter's work with so many labelings and reductionisms. I kinda feel it takes the awesomness of Joseph Tainter and turns it into something like Alex Jones. Do not want.

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 19:01 | 1496225 schizo321437
schizo321437's picture

Didn't he brush aside decadence? I can't remember.

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 19:26 | 1496238 Zero Govt
Zero Govt's picture

"Complexity is a tax"

Complexity is a Cost is the cost of the political/private cartel of maintaining power (control) on the market/society

what starts out as 50 muppets in a Departmental office with 50 regulations over time bloats into a staff of 500 useless twats and 500 regulations because society and markets change continually... the State bureaucracies have to constantly issue new rules to keep up and maintain control

Change is a constant, even in stiffed, stitched-up cartel markets... bureaucracies have to keep catching up with new control levers to maintain their control ...because State bureaucracies are retards at running a commercial operation they do not shed the old rules, old staff or old practices... they just add and add layer upon layer 

I agree complexity adds a 'moat' of protection for the parasites to hide behind but the complexity is more a result of piss poor management never trimming or cutting old layers away. This is a direct product of being a monopoly and not having any commercial discipline (ie. not having to make profit, cut costs, purge old layers, staff and systems). Complexity is 5, 10, 20 years of old clothes and suitcases the Diva refuses to part with

"But complexity does have an eventual cost: collapse ..adding decks to the ship  ..all it takes is a small wave."

What brings the collapse?

The answer in short is bankruptcy. But the process is the destruction of productivity and profit/wealth (see USSR etc). Wether you run a Communist/socialist system, a fascist or Banana Repubulic system you are still running under the rules of capitalism.

Capitalism is about being productivite, making profits and with those profits (wealth) allocating again for investment in the future. Any cartel (monopoly), whatever abovementioned label you put on it, has no such commercial disciplne to make profits (create wealth) as they answer only to themselves 

So they consume wealth and systemically do not make profits. Why should they, they are a monopoly, a law onto themselves and can operate without any commercial discilpine, planning or need to set aside profits for future re-investment 

The States/cartels costs therefore sky rocket, profits decline and the only way 'out' of not producing their own profits/wealth is to have to rob ever more of other peoples wealth from either society by increasing their prices or increasing their demands for State subsidies to make up for their leaking bankrupt ship

And as you say this diseased dinosaur does not take much of an economic contraction to tip it over the cliff, not only because it is bloated and too sluggish to change but because it has no profits or stored wealth to cushion it when it comes time to diet and the finger dips are taken away

ask Barney Frank, he loves his finger dips and has no commercial discipline as he's lived in a monopoly LaLa land for decades... he and his Rep/Dem colleagues spit their dummies out the pram at the mere mention of a little dieting... I can now see the Grim Reaper figure behind all Senators shoulders appear stronger every time I see them on TV

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 19:35 | 1496308 rsnoble
rsnoble's picture

Too big for their britches.  Willing to sacrifice the peons to continue their Operation Global Gobble conquest.  Which seems to be falling apart at the seems imo.  But who knows what these bastards are really doing behind closed doors and with who.

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 20:53 | 1496438 knowless
knowless's picture

man, the lurking arrows really tear up the /only junk/ ZH.

Tue, 07/26/2011 - 22:02 | 1496604 bankruptcylawyer
bankruptcylawyer's picture

i wish people understood how much of this problem is cause by our system , or rather our non-system, of law. 

people in america frequently and thoughtlessly reiterate "america is a nation of laws and and not of men". no one ever uses their brain to think and analyze what this really means in light of what america is and how it functions right now. it is an old truism recounted again and again. it is a truism that arrived in colloquial language when referring to george washington refusing to be a king, when we refer to the magna carta as proof for the basic understanding that all americans are supposed to have a right to be tried in a court , it is a truism for the basic right not to have to give evidence against yourself (miranda) which itself is founded on the right not to be tortured ( the right to refuse to self incrimination pre-empts any state 'right' to torture for the sake of confession) 


so what has happened in america during the period since wwii where american law schools have increased their graduation rolls by orders of magnitude, and corporations have used every trick in the book to outsource american jobs and banks have rampantly increased national and private debt in order to create a unprecedended class of new wealthy money changers usurers and financial con artists?

a time when the supreme court has ruled that states have no right to protect their residents from predatory national lending practices (1970's case) and when the supreme court has ruled that corporations can spend unlimited amounts of money on political campaigns because they have the same rights to self expression as individuals do ( as if individuals freedom of expression weren't itself highly limited for many reasons) 

here is what has happened. americans have used the idea that individuals can use the law to restrain powerful people and institutions to parrot on and support the notion that laws, beauracracies, and lawyering , themselves the means and tools to an end of establishing restraint on unrestrained abuse of power, can be and should be themselves used without restraint to any ends. 

this is why most people who say we are a nation of laws and not of men are usually parroting foolishly without thinking. the unrestrained use of 3rd parties, wehter they be individuals or government beauracracies (courts, administrations, etc....). has itself become a massive burden on society. THE massive cost of requiring and, more importantly, ALLOWING, the injection of 3rd parties into two party situations has come in both financial, temporal, spiritual, and political forms.


instead of planning  a system where man has the right to use a set of laws to resist tyranny. the unrestrained tyranny of allowing lawyering and laws into americans lives at every level has become a tyranny of its own accord. i will give examples: 

financial : the state and large institutional actors such as banks and notable insurance companies can force myriads of individuals to shell out money to hire expensive lawyers to defend themselves , in civil questions, and will not be punished or forced to cover costs for this behavior even if the larger more powerful party compelling this expenditure LOSES in court. this is essentially EXTORTION. unlike criminal court , you do not have a right to counsel, this is not criminal in nature . the courts and laws are so extraodinarily complex that you right to represent yourself in court is simply the right not to have a lawyer in court if you cannot afford one and lose. what comes with this? some intangibles, like Directors and Officers insurance being PAID for by corporations to guarantee their directors will not have to foot their own bills or the costs of being sued succesfully in court. the us legal system is so replete with extortionary game dynamics that the very stewards of the largest corporations and institutions in america are blanketly provided protection from the very same racquet that they utilize in order to bully around any individual who is not able to advantage themselves of an institutions pockets to defend themselves. litigation is a cost of doing business and can be written off. can the individual write off lawsuit expenses form his income. not a chance in hell. 

oh yea. there's a reason businesses are closing down in america. the law has protected every form of outsourcing available to large businesses in america that can take advtnage of becoming a multinational, allowing these companies to do as they please, while applying the same beauracratic rubric to people running small businesses in america. one routinely sees news about massive fines and regulatory aciton being levied upon business such as small farms, small restaurants, etc...

in new york in the last two years, every restaurant now must post in large letters their health code inspection results. i've seen a few inspectors inspecting restaurants while i was there. it is a complete load of bull. the inspections are just a pretense for harrasment and for threatening the restaurant owner. 


the idea of a right to a speedy trial is completely gone in america. people are routinely held for over a year before being tried on court, this time cannot be given back to the person if they are innocent. The idea of a speedy civil trials is also gone. courts are frequently so packed with civil cases it can take many years to resolve a small dispute over 50,000 dollars. by the time the money comes, the lawyers have gobbled up so much in fees and the litigants themselves so exausted by the process, that the only winning party is the lawyers and the courts. specific example asbestos class action litigation and tobacco litigation. neither solved the problem of dealing with the asbestos or tobacco. they both succeed in making sure massive amounts of money were funneled around to lawyers on both the defense and plaintiff side. the meager amouns of money comparitively recieved by individuals is not the wya to solve the problem of health in this country. if these people have lung problems, they should be able to have them taken care of at MINIMAL cost by governmetn funded streamlined healthcare. not a giant bearacy of private lawyers courts, and private insurance bearacies that fight tthem the whole way and don't prevent the same problems from reoccuring. 



spiritual .

the social services system in the united states has completely run amok. federal legislation such as vawa and other social legislative regimes have made it increasingly difficult for citizens to deal with their affairs. federal law has helped create a ratchet effect over the last 60 years. the police and regulators have consistenly increasing amounts of authority to meddle in a person's life and those beauracracies and agencies have increased exponentially in size and in budget while spending most of their time attempting merely to find a way of justifying their further growth. mission creep also sets in , to help them establish more reasons for why they are necessary and for why the mantra of do no harm, a mantra applying to the highest of social servants, doctors, should not be applied to their meddling. then, if they do wrong, you are required to sue them to get a just result. this requires more cost , time, and further wears down peoples nerves. 


political: forget about the legal regime that has special protection for commercial speech (allowing corporations to donate as much as they want and to whomever through a series of shells) , but the government engages in numerous political legal regimes that screw over the right of the INDIVIDUAL not to be harrased by government. 


2) THE massive growth in the duration of prison sentences and parole requirements. 

3) the massive growth of a tax regime that allows non-profits not to pay taxes. allowing people to DEDUCT THEIR DONATIONS from their income . this is simply a HUGE scheme to allow the wealthy to pay lower taxes to give money to entities they would support ANYWAYS. you are explicity favoring entities with these tax deduction. 

---the whole NOTION of policy by way of tax benefits makes for an EXTREMELY complex tax code which most people see as a device used to allow tax lawyers, tax beauracracies, and the irs to justify their own salaries , while simultaenously punishing anyone who cannot affford to avail themselves of these expensive consultants to get around the rules. 


----The explosion of law and the unchallenged acceptance of unrestrained growth of anything 'legal' creeping into one's life is a HUGE problem. i would argue

Wed, 07/27/2011 - 07:08 | 1497080 Zero Govt
Zero Govt's picture

Well said ..the system to uphold Law in society has become the ratchet of the Elites (monopolists) to oppress society.. exactly as any monopoly system, which the Law/Judiciary is, is designed to do

..society is not designed to run on rules or have 3rd parties as you mention (eg. judges, lawyers etc) dispense it, it is designed to be liquid, flexible and in a constant state of change (learning and improvement)... any system designed to dispense rigid Rules causes chaos.. the Legal system now is a corrupt, expensive, time-consuming, chaotic fuking tragedy ...all monopolies end up here

Wed, 07/27/2011 - 12:22 | 1498207 bankruptcylawyer
bankruptcylawyer's picture

zero govt, thanks. i'm a lawyer and i'll tell you society is by very nature based on the presence of 3rd parties. the more of them you have the more society becomes fascist. the less of them you have the more it becomes anarchic and by that i mean , the 3rd parties are disorganized usually violent or thieving people or private institutions by which youare fully alone in protecting yourself from them. 


police are part of what makes us a society, a CIVIL society that can cooperate without constant distrust. we've come to the point of full circle, where too many third parties no longer helps create trust in the reliability of the rule of law, but distrust of it, as we start seeing the cancerous overgrowth of 3rd parties existing as an obstacle to personal freedom and taxing that freedom, in order to continue sustaining its already unsustainable size. 


you will be sorely stepping into a trap to think that a 3rd party (cop, judge, lawyers) is never necessary for resolving problems between intransigent parties. they are , and that is why they exist through-out the ages in civil society. as means for justice and fairness. 

it is a very juveline trap to think that just because the cause of a problem can be identified, that eliminating that very cause entirely and drastically will not make greater problems. transitions are best accomplished with a frame work or idea of what is to be transitioned towards, otherwise you make the mistake of just throwing out the baby with the bath water. so to speak.


Wed, 07/27/2011 - 01:43 | 1496942 wkwillis
wkwillis's picture

It took me three hours to pay a 25$ parking ticket.

It was a fix-it ticket. I did not have a front license plate, like 12% of the cars in the parking lot (I counted). So after I drilled holes in the front bumper so I could fasten the license plate to the car, I had to get it signed off. That was what took me three hours. Mountain View charged 25$ to sign off a ticket (that is, initialing the ticket that my car did indeed have a front license plate), if they had a cop to spare, which they did not. Sunnyvale charged 32$, also no spare cop. The cop at the library couldn't leave the library to go see my car out front, so I had to honk at a copcar to get the cop to stop and sign my ticket.

Then and only then would they accept my money.

You thought that the bankruptcy courts and foreclosure courts were the only failure modes for America? Now they can't even collect tickets! What's next?

Dmitri Orlov said that when a government collapses, you don't have to worry about the cops installing a police state, you are lucky if they will even answer the phone.

Wed, 07/27/2011 - 03:57 | 1497025 AldousHuxley
AldousHuxley's picture
Flaws of globalization: A prophetic interview with Sir James Goldsmith in 1994 Pt1


Billion Chinese and Indians are willing to work as slaves for the benefit of top 0.1% corporate executives and shareholders. American and European middle class has no chance unless a revolution happens.

Wed, 07/27/2011 - 04:00 | 1497026 AldousHuxley
AldousHuxley's picture

There is a divorce between major corporations and society



A prophetic interview with Sir James Goldsmith in 1994 Pt2

Wed, 07/27/2011 - 04:08 | 1497029 AldousHuxley
AldousHuxley's picture
Laura Tyson See Start of a `Lost Decade' for Many Americans

She was a spokesperson in favour of GATT, arguing with Sir James Goldsmith on Charlie Rose that American jobs will be increased by the trade agreement. Now that traitor is saying that displaced workers face lost decade.


LAURA TYSON; Candidates for Obama's Inner Circle

BEING CONSIDERED FOR A top economic post, possibly in a return tour as director of the National Economic Council.



A prophetic interview with Sir James Goldsmith in 1994 Pt2

Tue, 08/23/2011 - 22:46 | 1593299 karmete
karmete's picture

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