How long have I been telling you, both here and on the UrbanSurvival website, that people lack confidence in the future, don’t trust robots, government, surveillance, or what we’re doing to the environment and each other?
Yet it was not until this week as the World Economic Forum rolls in Davos that someone, Nobel Prize winning economic Robert Shiller, told CNBC that people are afraid of the future and that’s why bond prices are not being bid up. It’s a symptom of people who don’t have confidence in the future.
Let me share this one quote from the article:
“”There’s this increasing fear of technology, information technology, artificial intelligence, robotics, 3-D printers, the internet and all these different forms,” he said. Technology, he added “seems to be changing life in such a fundamental way and what it’s leaving people thinking is ‘where will I be in 30 years? Look how fast everything is changing now. Where will my children be? I want to leave something for them because they could be in terrible straits’.”
There’s something even more subtle going on, if you look closely:
Back in 1969 Elisabeth Kübler-Ross introduced a concept on death and dying in which she outlined the five stages of grieving people go through:
One could easily develop a financial model that would use social indicators in order to assess where we are now.
Since “prepping” has been such a hot topic on the net, and even in the CNBC report Robert Shiller speaks to it, we are in something of a funk, a depression.
That’s why prepping is up and homes and family starts are down. Once again, both UrbanSurvival and Peoplenomics will be early on the trend change, but we see acceptance out there on the horizon…and as part of that acceptance we will be focusing on how to get ahead.
It’s part of why I’ve made such frequent mention of “sweat equity” and “non-cash equivalents” and it’s all part of putting in the “emotional” bottom so we can move on to acceptance and get back to living the daily life.
But as we do this, as we look back over the dying, death, and grieving model, a haunting question arises: Just what is it that has died that we are so deeply long for?
I’m not sure how to put it into words, but I can give you a verbose description of it.
Industrialisms Failed Promise
When industrialism was young, it held promise that it would lessen the burden of the working man.
It’s a promise that has taken over 100 years to promote and then, with the arising networked computer era which has facilitated global conversation, it has become apparent in the past 20 years that something has died.
I think what it is might be distilled to the “Old Social Contract”. You work hard – ever harder – and help support industrialism, and everything will work out OK.
Except, as we have come to learn, as quickly as advances have come in industrialism, there has come a follow-on exploitation. Many Americans are working longer and harder hours than our forefathers did.
Unions, that once led the fight for the 40-hour workweek have all but disappeared. They have been co-opted out of existence.
When atomic energy came along it was heralded as a great tool for peace. And yet, within have a dozen years, we were back in the biggest arms race ever. And one that continues only slightly abated in today’s world.
Remember the World’s Fair promises of “electric power too cheap to meter?” And do you remember me telling you Kurzweil’s “Singularity” was another same-such cruel hoax?
Sure enough, artificial intelligence is not going to figure out how to get you more time off. Its first applications will be to kill more people, more effectively, and to make more money for those who had the foresight to buy artificial intelligence.
And so goes my list: Failure after failure to deliver on the social contract. Promises made, promises broken. Ask Native Americans how “good our word is” as Americans.
So that’s this morning’s Big Thought and First Ponder all rolled into one:
Shiller is (as usual) exactly and precisely right: People are afraid of the Road Ahead.
With good reason, too.
While it’s true that we have been lied to by industrialists, and here more recently by the banksters, the core reason for our grieving process is ever-so-much deeper than just these superficial realities.
We are discovering that we have lied to the person we see in the mirror and in media every morning:
Only the Larger Context Matters
Normally in a Peoplenomics report, I’d point to a few quippy news stories, but this morning I think I’ll pass on that.
Those kinds of stories you can pick up off nickel and dime MSM outlets that are monetized six ways to Sunday. You don’t come here for that. What we look for is context.
In light of Shiller, Davos, and my theory that we’re working out grieving after discovering that we’re all still just as deeply flawed as we were when the pilgrims fled England, a line or two from Robert Service’s poem “The Quitter” is a much more important than where it snowed, who’s replacing Holder, or Jordan is doing business (trading hostage) with ISIS.
When you’re lost in the Wild, and you’re scared as a child,
And Death looks you bang in the eye,
And you’re sore as a boil, it’s according to Hoyle
To cock your revolver and . . . die.
But the Code of a Man says: “Fight all you can,”
And self-dissolution is barred.
In hunger and woe, oh, it’s easy to blow . . .
It’s the hell-served-for-breakfast that’s hard.
“You’re sick of the game!”
Well, now that’s a shame.
You’re young and you’re brave and you’re bright.
“You’ve had a raw deal!” I know — but don’t squeal,
Buck up, do your damnedest, and fight.
It’s the plugging away that will win you the day,
So don’t be a piker, old pard!
Just draw on your grit, it’s so easy to quit.
It’s the keeping-your chin-up that’s hard.
It’s easy to cry that you’re beaten — and die;
It’s easy to crawfish and crawl;
But to fight and to fight when hope’s out of sight —
Why that’s the best game of them all!
And though you come out of each grueling bout,
All broken and battered and scarred,
Just have one more try — it’s dead easy to die,
It’s the keeping-on-living that’s hard.
Especially on a planet where the internet has provided us an unexpectedly good mirror with which to inspect ourselves.
The fifth stage of grief is acceptance…and that’s what comes along next.
There’s no particular follow-up to this, except that my son called Wednesday and asked me to put up a link to a Go Fund Me page that he’s created for a friend of his – a friend who is not able to make rent.
Sure, I’ll do it, but times are tight for everyone. We’ll make a contribution, too, of course, but that’s the hell of economic (and psychological) depressions. A little help is only going to work some of the time.
This is something we know from sad experience: A number of years back – during the Housing Bubble Collapse – Elaine and I made a decision to help a family with a failing income problem try to keep their home. We sent them $1,275 – the amount of one month of house & refi payment in order to buy them time.
It didn’t work. The income picture failed, divorce quickly followed, and so the economic depression “failed over” into a series of personal psychological depressions for the un-named family which more or less imploded. Our well-intended gift? Banksters got it.
Frankly, I admire my son’s effort. Unfortunately, when we have so many people in economic trouble, it will be hard to “put Humpty back together again.”
Maybe G-II is onto something: Humanity $10-bucks at a time.
The collapse is on, yet it’s working its way around in the background. Slow and stealthy-like. It’s an economic function that spills into personal realities.
At its core is the simple change from humans being able to “own their own life” to humans who (due to wrong-headed policies) are only able at best “to rent their lives.” And thus, the monthly payment.
Even those marginal “rent to own” furniture outfits cut better deals than Davos, or almost any government you care to name. The “to own” part has been jacked.
It’s hard some mornings to write about anything else: What has happened to the inborn urge to own – not rent – one’s future? My son has the gene, but schools are Common Coring it away and corporations have no interest in making quality goods that will last an almost indefinite amount of time.
Some goods? Maybe.
We still have some winter white Corel dishware that I bought back in our liveaboard sailing days.
Elaine since, has picked up some “company dishes” which we haul out for the rare guests who we break bread with.
But the point is that quality of an enduring sort doesn’t make economic sense. No repeat sales. If we made cars as good as our 2005 Japanese made Lexus, would car sales fall to half? They could (which is my point) but the global auto industry would collapse.
Too much quality – in an economically f/u’ed world doesn’t work. Davosians can bullshit all they want, but that’s the core level. The global economy keeps growing profits or the world implodes. As the outgoing CEO of McDonalds, just bounced, about how quality and level sales works.
About here we come to the Big Problem:
Is there something on inherently wrong with our economic underpinnings when money (or lack of it) implodes families, when the bloodlust for tax revenue allows government to steal property nominally owned by others? And is there justification for anything other than honest (non-depreciating) money unlike this “made up money” that has lost more than 95% of its purchasing power since 1913?
Radical Islam has some powerful marketing propositions. One is that government doesn’t take land. Another is no such thing as “interest” in Sharia banking. The West overlooks that whole money-changer part of the Bible..as long as…well, that should be obvious.
It therefore falls on the shoulders of 318-million ‘Mericans to show there is a better way. I think you’d agree, we’re not doing particularly well at this.
Those are damn had questions, but there is an answer…just not answers the people in charge, the people in Davos, or the people in boardrooms want to hear.
We need to look at historical data that argues, among other things, that women’s liberation was just a three-edged sword to break up families, contain labor costs, and to increase demand by giving women disposable income.
I don’t think a simple label like “good” or “b ad” can be applied. It is what is.
What’s wrong is how we’re acting as a country in response to current challenges.
It’s in the process of killing Russia (western economic sanctions are having a huge impact) where US foreign policy is to fight over Ukraine resources by causing widespread misery in Russia. And it’s killing other countries, too. Care to have the depleted Uranium discussion?
In the meantime, buckle up for things to get worse. Chaos isn’t leaving.
The new Attorney General nominee believes in illegal immigration, and that means more people coming to America who will work cheaper than you. Sure, it will serve to prolong deflation and ensure wage inflation is kept at bay for crass political purposes, but I’d argue that a bit of wage-driven inflation wouldn’t be a bad thing especially when Europe has jumped on the “make up money” bandwagon.
Going back to Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, for a moment, we can see how the different power classes are dealing with mourning our national loss of direction.
Government is stuck back in the “bargaining” part of the lost/dead dream. Many families are in the depression part. A few young people have moved on to the acceptance phase, while a few are still in the denial part while over-the-hill radicals have sucked in some modern Wobblies to play the Anonymous angry crowds part of the Greater Depression ahead.
Bottom line today is that there’s a lot to be learned in economics from measurement (as in a big histogram) that shows distribution of the national psychology.
Complexity and the corporate state may, or may not, fail in the intermediate term.
Before real change can arise, though, we need to seriously thin the ranks of “leadership” that doesn’t have a clue. We also can’t be distracted with false flag psychological distractions like climate change, whipped up racial divides, mass murders or any of the rest of what passes for “news.”
Shiller’s one of the few talking common sense.
But in today’s world, we’re too busy with selfies and virtual life to care about the non-networked shared reality we inhabit.
Once upon a time, an ostrich would stick its head in the sand. Today, same phenomena continues in the human species, except instead of sand, we use mobile devices.
My, ain’t we clever monkeys.
Bad Ju-Ju on Quakes to Come
If you missed the article, it may be found in our archives over here.
Reader Roger over in Tucson was kind enough to leave a voicemail advising me that out “qualifying quake” had likely just happened.
Yeah…I know… I just don’t want to know. That said, the odds of an April 2015 major earthquake in the California/Oregon border area on the coast move from infinitesimally small to simply very low.
But nevertheless, it’s worth mentioning. On a Thursday morning, at that. Timing in dreams is a bitch. I gotta ping Chris McCleary over at the www.nationaldreamcenter.com project and see if anyone else is having similar dreams.
More tomorrow… but in the meantime, write when you break-even.