Coping: Building Your New Depression Reading List

imageWhen the markets go down 500-points in a day, you can sort of get the feeling that all is not well.

The natural thing to do – when they rally and cut the decline in half (this is all in a single day, mind you) is to rationalize “Gee, that wasn’t so bad, was it?

The sad truth is that it is very bad – and a drop below the 1,740 level on the S&P is  when we should all be under the bed sniffing the dust bunnies.

The reason is the vicious cycle problem.  When things begin to go great, there is a “pile-on” effect that economists call the virtuous cycle.  But when something begins to go wrong, as it is right now, we have to look at all the data and begin worrying in all earnestness about flipping from “virtuous” into “Vicious.”

A recent-experience example was the Housing Bubble.  It began as an attempt by the government to kick-start our way out of the first starting point for the Greater Depression.  That window happened in 2001 and was actioned  by Osama bin Laden, who we seriously believe had the cooperation of at least some governmental elements, including quite possibly some shadow government types who have never been brought to justice.

Depressions are power progress-killers.  And, if I were a member of a shadow government, I would have to admit that the events of 9/11 actually did some good.

The major good?

By fall of 2001, it was apparent that the tech bubble was finished.  Depending on which estimates would believe, the total cost of the Tech Wreck was on the order of $5-trillion dollars, although some accounts mention half this amount.

9/11 did several key things, in terms of pulling economic levers.

First, it took the blame which should have been placed on the backs of greedy venture capital types and shifted it onto the persona of a “terrorist.”

Secondly, it gave the United States a “cause” to immediately wage a war…any war…and that took a lot of job-age males and kept them out of the labor force.

Third, it set up a massive new industry (the security state) which has taken on a life of its own.  Well past the hiring of what is now estimated at 56,000+ direct jobs, but when we use the economic multiplier effect (all these people eat, for example, and some fraction will use daycare) an easy argument could be made that TSA alone is responsible for 134,000 jobs – and has been, come this fall, for 15-years.

Four, it provided for the evolution of the security state and Gen-4 warfare.  Battlefield robotics are coming.  There’s a million square feet up at Provo for sampling your data.  And we even learned recently that the CIA spied on members of the U.S. Congress in the process of surveilling foreign political visitors.

Five, it continued to “de-focus” public attention from the definite replay elements of the previous economic collapse.  You will recall that in the depths of the Great Depression, the government embarked on several wide-spread job creation programs.  The most notable were the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).

I found it extremely interesting that the country laid the groundwork for massive civilian employment of young people with the Volunteers In Service To America (VISTA) program.  The first batch of 20 VISTA workers were turned out in 1965.

That program was something the country “got right.”  It had been a kind of article of faith that this Kondratieff fellow might be right about economic super-cycles, and an ideal 56-year harmonic off the Great Depression collapse was seen in 1987.

Good news on this front:  The Fed managed to “paper-it-over.”

The bad news was that it was only a first-blush encounter with widespread collapse.  It was a state-change event, as well.  You will remember that long-term interest rates had peaked some six years earlier.

Despite the interventions, the systemic problems persisted and a major period of decline ensued in 1990-1991.  The U.S. did what it does best – and off to war we went on this pretext of that.

Behind the war follies, however, president Bush (the elder) was ramping up the AmeriCorps program.  From the government website, we read how the make-work programs of the 1930’s period were being repackaged as national service:

“The 1990s saw a resurgence of national service. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush developed the Commission on National and Community Service. With the signing of the National Community Service Trust Act in 1993, President William Clinton expanded national service to create AmeriCorps, and VISTA became part of AmeriCorps.

Throughout the 1990s, AmeriCorps VISTA continued the long tradition of starting new and innovative programs. VISTA members helped develop low-income housing cooperatives, created programs to help people transition from welfare to work, expanded Individual Development Accounts to help people save money, and provided constructive out-of-school activities for disadvantaged youth.”

The WPA was to VISTA and the Civilian Conservation Corps is echoed in today’s AmeriCorps.

Events post 9/11 have provided for a continuing programmatic use of un/under-employed youth and for thousands upon thousands, this has been the critical first, or second, resume item that has transitioned people into other jobs.

Returning to 9/11, all of these elements were present.  This is not to claim that 9/11 was directly perpetrated by our own government for the purposes of expanding the economy and increasing social control (yet it has worked that way).  Instead, a failure to anticipate and prevent extreme Wahhabi (Saudi) backed terrorism resulted in the events of that day.

We often hear the terms LIHOP and MIHOP (let it happen on purpose, or made it happen on purpose) but, as we roll forward into the next financial crisis, the sins of the past will be buried by the dust of history.

An appreciation of the larger “gearing” of American policy is not found in Common Core, or any other widespread curricula.  It is there to be discovered by those willing to read a few books and appreciate, as noted in Ecclesiastes 1:4-11:

4 One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.

5 The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.

6 The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits.

7 All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.

8 All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.

9 The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.

10 Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us.

11 There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after.

No, this is not to “go religious on you.”  It does illustrate what is commonly reduced to “there’s nothing new under the Sun…”  The only thing that changes are the particular clockworks.  Sometimes the gearing of certain events is ahead, other times, it is behind.  But geared, it is, so you may be certain.

The point this morning is to share a few books to read, books that have outlined some of the key ideas behind how I’ve navigated the second half of Life.  I’m thinking you’ll find at least one, or two of them, of interest.

    This is by no means an exhaustive list.  But, if you are finding it difficult to wrap your head around what’s going on, there are only so many approaches that make sense.

    For me, personally?

    I discovered a tremendous secret about “education” years ago – and one of these days I will release the book.  It’s working title is “Victims of Process:  Unwritten Recipes that Run Your Life”.

    The core concept of the book is simple:  In all fields of human endeavor, we are but little more than simple tool-makers.  To be sure, there are some animals in nature that make tools, as well.

    But what makes us “special” as a species is that we are capable of sequencing.

    What this means is crystal clear in only a moment’s thought.  All you need to do to understand any aspect of human behavior, high or low, is to look for the damn recipe.  In fact, in the book, I explain how to learn ANY skill in about an hour.  Mastery (take piano, for example) requires practice to perfect.  But the basic recipe is simple as hell in almost every aspect of life.

    That’s why I believe (deep down in my heart of hearts) that I can do ANYTHING under the Sun.

    It is not that I am particularly smart, only that I have figured out to look for the sequence of tools…and after that?  A rich life is easily attained.

    The secret?  Realize that there is a recipe for everything you do from the moment you rise until the moment tonight when sleep will overtake you.  Driving is a collection of recipes.  Flying is a collection of recipes.  Airplane crashes are avoidable if you understand the special class of recipes called accident chains.

    When a news story wanders by which worries the hell out of you, what is the cure?  Go look up the recipes.  Take nuclear power plant meltdowns, for example.  You can not only become a local junior-expert, but you might be able to contribute something to your community by simply taking a course.  In this example, a good course would be?  21st Century FEMA Radiological Emergency Response Independent Study Course (IS-301), Nuclear Power Plant and Reactor Accidents, Radiation Monitoring, Incident Command System, Biological Effects .

    Once you empower yourself to learn the recipes behind everything, you can evolve an almost encyclopedic knowledge of any field you want.   It’s all about finding who is using what tools and the order those tools are being applied in.

    Can I teach you celestial navigation in an hour?  Oh, easy-peasy.  EXCEPT I would have to review in order to brush up on the recipe because I haven’t used it since we sold our sailboat in 2001, sorry.  But you weren’t venturing offshore today, I’d wager.

    This core concept is hugely useful.  It’s why you have a job, when you think about it.  With rare exceptions, people are not paid for what they know, but what they can DO.,

    At the moment, I’m an economic information processor.  I gather pertinent ideas, try to distill down the recipe, and give you possible applications of the ordered use of tools.  When you think about it, that’s what my buddy Gaye does with does, only she does it in the “prepping” space. 

    But really, the recipe approach to life is far, far bigger than prepping, learning to fly, or learning how “music works.”

    It’s the whole concept, internalized, powered by an even passable brain; just one looking for the RIGHT RECIPES…and when comes to economic Depressions, that reading list above is a fine collection.

    If you wonder why I have a hell of a time keeping weight off?  I have an almost encyclopedic recall of a different recipe book:  Joy of Cooking.

    Out in the shop, another recipe book rules my life:  Thomas Glover’s Desk Ref.  Need to know the formula for electrical trouble-shooting?  It’s in there.  Along with the working load for 16-inch floor joist spacing of 2-by-8’s on a 12-foot span.

    Now, stop feeling like a victim to the frigging market and go learn some recipes.  Or, subscribe to Peoplenomics because it is highly recipe-oriented.

    Of, if you really are the kind of exceptional person who reads this website on a regular basis, do both.

    Write when you break-even,


    31 thoughts on “Coping: Building Your New Depression Reading List”

    1. Great advice George, this is precsiely what they teach in technical training in the Navy. If you dont know the answer, look it up, seek it out. And the results of practicing this methid are truly life changing.

    2. Still drinking that USA Kool-aid I see. Osama bin laden and the Arabs had nothing to do with 9/11. bin Laden actually made a statement to Bloomberg that he had nothing to do with 9/11. Logic: what is the point of a terrorist act if the terrorists don’t take credit for it? 9/11 was a business model, that benefitted multiple parties to the tune of tens of billions. No one has ever taken credit for it, saying “do this or we will do it again.”

      And government programs can never have a beneficial effect on an economy. Never, nada, zilch. No more benefitting than cutting the end off a blanket and sewing it onto the other end. Taxes are what reduce that 3x multiplier for full time jobs we were taught in college to what I suspect is only two today.

      The only government actions that can benefit the economy are cutting taxes, or printing NEW money and spending it in the private sector for goods and services. Money taxed off one end of the economy and spent on the other end of the blanket are always spent with less efficiency that in the private sector.

      We are in a system where wealth is created by debt, and the only parties whose wealth is increased by this process are the parties that create it. QE has pretty much proven there is no cascade effect that enrichens the real world of food, family and bullets.

      And BTW, you are not one of those parties that can create debt.

      • wrt 9/11, I can believe in a ‘conspiracy’ of political and bureaucratic incompetence and empire building beforehand – and a ‘conspiracy’ of silence and bureaucratic ass covering and blame shifting afterwards.

        Beyond that? There is nothing but pure speculation for wage slaves like you and I. Too many in our society speculate (lie) and believe their own speculation (lies) as soon as they openly state their speculation. (optimism bias, among other things.)

        …and if you’re one of those who honestly believes that ‘steel can’t melt’? …or that heated steel won’t fail under a load? You should revisit your math, science and engineering classes.

        Too many people complain about the government while using the same fashion of thought (sophist philosophy, federalism, submission to authority, appeal to authority, etc.) inculcated in them by the government controlled entities (education, media, etc).

        Question everything, including the *way* you think, as well as how and why you *think* you know what you *think* you know. (epistemology, ontology, etc.)

        …and study history. It helps in all of this, if you think it out for yourself.

        • Yes steel can melt with the use of military grade nano thermite produced right here in the good ole usa. Why don’t you get your self an ‘edification’ at Architects and Engineers for 911 Truth?

          Such stick in the mud thinking is what has helped to destroy this nation. So why don’t you question everything yourself!

        • No plane hit WTC #7 so how did it manage to fall down at free fall speed? How do three skyscrapers with more than a million tons of concrete and steel fall perfectly into their own footprints and yet only leave a debris pile 3 stories high? Where are the million+ tons of concrete and steel?

          Where are the videos of the attack on the Pentagon, supposedly the most protected building on the planet?

          How did whatever that caused the damage to the pentagon wind up in the offices killing the very people who were investigating the disappearance of the $2.3 trillion dollars Donald Rumsfeld referred to in his remarks the day before 9/11 went down?

          Where is the official investigation into the events surrounding the greatest attack on American soil since pearl harbor?

        • Sure Warren, Steel can melt. But paper/office fires burn 1,000 cooler that what it takes to melt steel. The NIST report for bldg 7 (which did not get hit by a plane) said the mid floor buckled in and caused the whole structure to collapse. Well, that is complete BS. First, the numerous video cameras show no such buckling. Secondly, The bldg fell at FREE FALL speed for 8 floors. NIST finally admitted this after several months. Nothing but the simultaneous failure of every single support structure in the bldg can cause free fall. They have to be cut within the same microsecond to achieve symetrical falling, which occurred. Think about that. What set of random fires that burn 1,000 cooler than what is necessary to melt structural steel can fail a few dozen vertical support beams separated and distributed throughout that bldg? The answer is nothing but controlled demolition. Over 1500 structural high rise engineers have attested to these facts. No steel bldg HAS EVER completely collapsed (one or two only partially) from fires, EVER! Look that the recent Dubai highrise fire and see how much worse that was than bldg 7, with ZERO deformation/melting. No steel bldg before or since, but on 9/11, 3 came down into their own footprints, the greatest path of resistence.
          Wake up and do some critical thinking. I’m sorry you are unable to accept that your/our gov’t is under control of psychopaths but you better start understanding this if you want to survive.

        • “…and if you’re one of those who honestly believes that ‘steel can’t melt’? …or that heated steel won’t fail under a load? You should revisit your math, science and engineering classes.”

          At risk of a flame war here, but it is an documented fact that the progress of the collapse wave down the towers was very close to that of free fall (you can measure it on the videos if you wish), which is not possible for a normal collapse as all the concrete and steel beams offer significant resistance (a bit more than air resistance say!). However, if each floor was demolished by explosive charges before the one above hit it, that could explain the free-fall rate.

          Note that buildings are engineered with a safety factor of at least 2X the required strength. Collapse of a single floor could not collapse the whole building.

          There is much other evidence, but the above is incontestable and verifiable.

        • It isn’t a matter of picking sides. It’s a matter of finding the truth…and you can’t find that with a closed mind.

      • Yes, you are one of those parties that can create debt. It’s called a “credit card.” Millions of people are walking around with no money, but they can keep the economy going by going into debt. Unlike the big banks, eventually they have to pay it back or go into bankruptcy. Different outcome, but still, creating debt.

    3. I would add “The Creature from Jekyll Island” to the booklist — about the creation of the Federal Reserve. There is now a second edition on Amazon which appears to be an update, not just a reprint.

    4. Fabulous article. I also believe and have always believed I can do anything I set my mind to. So far that has been true in my life (I’m 63). I have found that there is always an answer to any question if I take the time to seek the ‘recipe’.
      Things may take me a bit longer to do because of lack of experience, but I am always victorious in my efforts. I have also found that the more I seek ‘recipes’, the more knowledge I have to take with me to add to the next ‘recipe’. Great article and thanks for posting.

    5. I have a poor memory and fail at lists, almost any list. But I do find the internet very handy. When email came along, I was so thankful. And without a phone list, I was lost as to who my co workers were. But I did manage to get a degree in Chemical Engineering. And when the economic cycles came around, they fired lots of people, lots of PhDs, but they never fired me.

    6. Thank you George for a wonderful article. I didn’t realize that I have been using recipes all my life.
      I was raised during the last depression. My family had to go thru WWII. Just got out of High School when I was drafted for the Korean War. Now it looks like I have to start all over again with a new depression and a new war. It’s time to bail out.
      Love you and yours.

    7. I’ve yet to see a successful recipe to find and keep a hot and sexual wife/bedmate/helpmate/friend that will stay and continue in those roles. You succeeded for some inexplicable reason, yet can you define precisely the recipe to get there? Something sufficiently specific for an engineer/programmer type. If so, please make it a PN article, or an ebook. That’s something I’m willing to pay for, but it’s one of the few things society insists that every guy must DIY.

    8. My favorite verse, for stumping Sunday School teachers, Ecc 10:19 “A feast is for making merry, and wine gladdens the heart, but money answers all things”.

      The Word of the Lord – Praise be to God!

      Art in Huntsville

    9. Story Musgrave, the astronaut who first fixed the Hubbell space telescope, is one of my ‘learning’ hero-idols. He has multiple academic degrees and is a prime example of how one ‘learns by receipe’. He described this learning process once as simply repeating the thing over and over until it became second nature. Before the Hubbell mission he spent all available time in a space suit in the water tank, practicing the moves needed in space to replace a phone-booth size module in the telescope. Learn by receipe, and practice, practice, practice.

    10. Mr. Ure, You hit one out of the ballpark here today.
      Turning 70 next month. So I guess an old dog can learn new tricks. Now I need to package this column for 23 and 18 year old grandchildren. Anyone any ideas???
      Thank you for you column. Respectfully, Michael L


    11. Mr. Ure, You hit one out of the ballpark with this “education” article today. As one who turns 70 next month, I believe this old dog can learn something new. So my question to you and other readers is: How can I package the article for my 23 and 18 year old grandchildren as a contribution to their future??
      Thank you. Respectfully, Michael


    12. Recipes huh! Cool distillation of concept George. Never thought of it that way, but I been doing it most of my life. Figured I could do anything I wanted to. When something interested me and I could afford it, I actually did it. Still working on affording more though. Haven’t quite mastered the affording more part yet. Got a whole past and future of knowledge to discover, I expect to get around to applying and using a good portion of it at some point. You see, I have discovered, curiosity breads curiosity at an exponential rate. My wallet needs some ketchup to add to my curiosity casserole.

    13. “”””9/11 did several key things, in terms of pulling economic levers.
      First, it took the blame which should have been placed on the backs of greedy venture capital types and shifted it onto the persona of a “terrorist.”
      Secondly, it gave the United States a “cause” to immediately wage a war…any war…and that took a lot of job-age males and kept them out of the labor force.””””

      It is like that new book out signed into being by congress.. the National spending bill.. nice cover.. looks like a good read till you open the pages then you find that it should be sold not to the public but in some out of the way crappy book store.. instead we had the vast majority vote this thing in..and we all said.. oh god good job boys.. your doing great you finally got to work took the cigar from your fat lips .. and gave me a sucker to boot for listening to your great speech….

      so we are all to blame and should be all heeding Gayes advice whole heartedly..
      what I see happening is the new administration is going to walk in the door.. ( doesn’t matter who.. my dog could be president its all up to those books that congress won’t read. they won’t write them or read them and the majority don’t even find it interesting enough to show up for work.. )
      there is just one.. and if he only showes up one third of the time just how long did he work.. ( )
      The day after the celebration of I am president.,. the new administration will walk into that round room and sit down and in a very short time there will be an OH SH.. moment.. when the crap that congress has been voting in all comes to the surface.. It happened with the present administration and all of them from before.. this administration was able to stave it by printing more money creating money from nothing.. ( )
      and a decision will have to be made.. what to do.. now if he has hair and you notice a sudden baldness.. oh well.. or he can push it like this administration is doing.. but hey we have that new book the spending bill.. oops.. guess it will start to come to light.. time for war to make money.. only to find out nothing is made in the usa.. OH HEY that spending bill and tpp.. gosh.. I think everyone will be thinking shoot I wish I had read that.. again that is just my opinion then the fall.. and things as we know it will be changed.
      My guess is our country will go bankrupt have to start from square one.. if the war they jump us into doesn’t touch each and everyone of us first.. again this is only an opinion of mine..

    14. there is one thing .. I see things a lot on the same lines as George and agree with his assessments.. and I know he probably feels the same thing I do.. and that is..


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