James Howard Kunstler
Is it so, as some wags say, that industry no longer makes money; only finance does? That’s been the operating theory for much of the West lately. Of course, that invites the question: what then is finance supposed to finance… that is, put money into? Why… industry, of course, and in the broadest sense of the word: the production of goods… goods being things that have value (that’s what‘s good about them). How quaint! But most of the industry that used to be here has gone to other lands.
What about all that money (capital) flowing into technology: Facebook, Google, Amazon? Hmmmm. What does Facebook produce, besides conflict between its users? Okay, it harvests data about them to sell to advertisers. And what are the advertisers advertising? Their products. Who produces the products? Mostly those people in other lands. Facebook users, then, are increasingly not employed, at least not in the production of goods. Perhaps in services like nursing, trucking, garbage pickup, food prep, police, firemen, prison guards, government bureaucracy (is that a service or a dis-service?) and et cetera.
Anyway, those service people are being fired left-and-right now because they refuse to be coerced into taking a vaccine that was never properly tested and has many scary side-effects. By the way, as of Sunday, the “newspaper-of-record” (The New York Times) finally had to come clean, after months of whistling past the graveyard, and admit what the public already knows: mRNA vaccines are dangerous:
While we’re on the subject, what does Google produce? Supposedly, answers to questions, plus, like Facebook, it harvests information about the people who ask the questions and then sells the info, blah blah. And whutabout Amazon? Don’t they sell a lot of products? Yeah, mostly produced by those people in other lands. What Amazon really produces is a phenomenal amount of motion — trucks going hither and thither, at increasing cost now as the price of gasoline and diesel fuel shoots up. To me, that looks like a problem for Amazon’s business model. Another problem is the growing number of people without gainful employment who have little money to buy stuff from Amazon, wherever it comes from.
That last problem has been papered-over for two years by “helicopter money” from the federal government — direct payment to the people for doing nothing, producing neither goods nor services. This has been an impressive trick. The money comes from nowhere and for nothing. The trick is based on simple accounting fraud. The second law of thermodynamics, a.k.a. entropy, suggests that eventually this process will degrade the value of the money (or “money”) issued by the fraudsters.
The hand in play for the moment is the spending legislation proposed by “Joe Biden.” It would generate a whole helluva lot more helicopter money from nowhere for nothing, and would theoretically keep the game going a little bit longer — except the process will only generate more unwanted entropy, causing decay in the value of that “money” and canceling the desired effect of spreading it around. That’s called inflation. If the value of money drops hard and fast, that is called hyperinflation. It would be politically and socially devastating, and probably lead to the downfall of the government. The net effect would be a nation bankrupt at all levels and that will segue into an epic economic depression.
If the legislation doesn’t get passed, the USA will perhaps skip the hyperinflationary intermezzo and move straight into a deflationary depression, which is what you get when nobody has any money. When that happens, especially in a system with money actually based on debt-creation, debts do not get paid (mortgages, car payments, credit cards, perhaps even coupons on US Treasury bonds), and when debts are not paid, money disappears. Poof! No money! It’s a vicious cycle. The more money disappears the more money keeps disappearing. None of this bodes well for the winter ahead.
Add to that the growing breakdown in global trade operations. Even many of those goods produced in other lands aren’t making it to the docks, and the reduced flow of goods that happened to already land on the docks can’t get unloaded and delivered to its various destinations because of disruptions in the US trucking sector. To some degree, those disruptions are caused by bonehead government regulations, especially in California, where most of the stuff from Asia lands. The bonehead regulations (like, outlawing trucks more than three years old) can be thought of as typical government “dis-services.”
Now add to that the rising cost of oil, natural gas, and coal — the global economy’s primary resources — and disruptions in the industries that produce these vital resources and you’ve got another layer of disorder being introduced into the system (entropy again). For the moment, government propaganda tries to divert your attention to a possible shortage of Christmas presents as the nation’s main concern. Don’t be fooled. It’s more about total systemic economic breakdown, as in US citizens having no heat and no food. Also, no gasoline and no parts for fixing broken cars (and trucks).
Do you suppose the capital markets will keep rising as all this spins out? I would suppose that the capital markets will lose 80 to 90 percent of their value when all is said and done. The fabled “One Percent” will finally feel the pain that was previously distributed among the rest of us. Don’t make the mistake of thinking the One Percent can control the situation. They are mere Wizards of Oz, barfing into their laptops. If working-from-home wasn’t a thing, they’d be jumping out of windows on Wall Street.
It’s a grim outlook, I admit, but you could see it coming over the horizon from a thousand miles away. Where I differ from other observers is that I doubt that any sort of extreme government surveillance state can be imposed on the public under these conditions. The people will be too pissed-off and, anyway, the current regime will be broke and out of mojo — possibly to the degree that it has to be shoved aside. “Let’s Go Brandon” is serious business. It’s the end of something.
In the background lurks this virus thing, and the insane vaccination program it prompted. We know that people have been harmed by the vaccinations, but not how many people altogether will be affected moving forward. The possibility, though, is for a nation both broke and sick struggling to get through a dark passage of history. Stay nimble, stay local, stay reality-based, be helpful, be honest, be brave, and be kind to each other. We’ll get through it.
James Howard Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency, and Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology and the Fate of the Nation. His novels include World Made By Hand, The Witch of Hebron, Maggie Darling — A Modern Romance, The Halloween Ball, an Embarrassment of Riches, and many others. He has published three novellas with Water Street Press: Manhattan Gothic, A Christmas Orphan, and The Flight of Mehetabel.