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 Post subject: the second machine age
PostPosted: Mon Mar 03, 2014 10:18 pm 
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at various times when i discuss labor issues it is within the context of labor arbitrage. this framework admits that any labor is in competition with alternative labor dynamics. i usually describe these as:

outsourcing
insourcing
technological displacement or disintermediation

---------
today as i rounded the back street leading to my office i encountered head on the google camera car. this has rung a bell for me...

The Second Machine Age is a current book examining how the increasing computer power and decreasing cost of that power
combines with the manufacturing changes already well underway. the impact henceforth will be fully on the middle class jobs we have seen protected thus far. in short robotics is eating not only our lunch but also our dinner.

see this from Financial Times; Technology: Rise of the replicants: Rapid advances in artificial intelligence now threaten the jobs of educated white-collar workers

The threat to jobs stretches beyond the white-collar world. Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) also make possible more versatile robots capable of taking over many types of manual work. “It’s going to decimate jobs at the low end,” predicts Jerry Kaplan, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who teaches a class about AI at Stanford University. Like others working in the field, he says he is surprised by the speed at which the new technologies are moving out of the research labs.
“People don’t understand it, they don’t get what it’s going to mean,” adds Mr Kaplan, who says he was “radicalised” by a sudden awareness of the job-destroying capabilities of the new technology. “I feel like one of the early guys warning about global warming.”

As a result, 47 per cent of jobs in the US are now at risk from computerisation, according to a prediction last year from Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne from Oxford university. McKinsey, the management consultancy, has estimated that by 2025, productivity gains in fields of “knowledge work”, ranging from clerical to professional services, could account for 40 per cent of all the current jobs in those areas.


47%. without a corresponding reorganization of knowledge and personal planning, the employment outlook is challenged, to say the least.

Vonnegut's vision in Player Piano (1952) is coming to pass.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2014 9:13 pm 
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What happens when this leaves us with half the population with no jobs? I guess you'd say line them up and mow them down, right? Especially if they're fat.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 27, 2014 5:03 pm 
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The second machine age would only hasten the inevitable end that comes with capitalism. There is not an infinite amount of resources, and yet the capitalist society that the world seems to embrace is based upon an ever increasing need for growth. More markets to sell more goods to increase profits and market share. More, more, more.

As companies review the cost benefit of modernizing, they will probably trend towards replacing the worker at every chance available. The need to drive wages down to increase profits to remain ahead of the competition will probably accelerate the process.

What companies seem to forget, or are unable to comprehend, is who will buy the product if employees are no longer in the equation.

The company I have been working at for the last half year is looking at an Indigo press to run instead of the flexo label presses that they currently use. HP has done their analysis and found that the 500k investment will be recovered in 3 years without an increase in sales revenue. How do they work that? Why by eliminating the pressmen who currently work the flexo presses. Will the company buy the Indigo? I am willing to bet that they will. What will they tell the pressmen and when? How long until the pink slips and hollow thanks arrive after the installation of the new press?

Eventually, those idle hands will be looking for something to do. Wonder what it will be?


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 27, 2014 6:20 pm 
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this is something that needs to be addressed

employees are soon to become "collateral damage" of technology

what then, what do we do when McDonalds, Walmart and the rest automate everything?

do we all work for the government cleaning the parks?

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 28, 2014 1:47 am 
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thank you for recovering this thread. i am not currently in a position to comment and must wait until late next week. where mclsain notes:

The second machine age would only hasten the inevitable end that comes with capitalism. There is not an infinite amount of resources, and yet the capitalist society that the world seems to embrace is based upon an ever increasing need for growth. More markets to sell more goods to increase profits and market share. More, more, more.

i would replace capitalism with consumerism.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2014 1:37 pm 
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thank you for recovering this thread. i am not currently in a position to comment and must wait until late next week. where mclsain notes:

The second machine age would only hasten the inevitable end that comes with capitalism. There is not an infinite amount of resources, and yet the capitalist society that the world seems to embrace is based upon an ever increasing need for growth. More markets to sell more goods to increase profits and market share. More, more, more.

i would replace capitalism with consumerism.

i would instead add the modifier "financialized." for many the religion of capitalism as opposed to the system of transactions which allows for private ownership of profit and loss will likely come to an end. limited resources, rapidly rising alternate power centers to the west and population pressure will conspire to cause financialized capitalism to shift where capital goes from the west to the so-called developing world of the bric and elsewhere. unfortunately finite resources and population pressure will spell the end to those alternate power centers in a much shorter time frame than the u.s./west power center reigned.

all things point to the unanswerable which is the social question as discussed in arendt's "on revolution." when the political economy cannot answer, and it never really can, the social question the time is ripe for upheaval.

taleb speaks of smaller and artisan. the end of the large geography nation-state may be near. but again that doesn't answer the social question. marx, rousseau, robespierre could not answer it. the founders had it playing at the edges of their minds and sought to create institutions that could perhaps allow for mitigation of social question. but they failed. the institutions, as arendt notes, crushed the revolutionary spirit. jefferson wrestled with the problem of where power rested and how authority could be used by that power. states rights-ists fail to note that state level in the u.s. is just as power centralized as the national level. of course we must ask does smaller always mean better? when, if at all, is larger better? the construct and question known as society cannot answer itself.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2014 3:39 pm 
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financialization spikes short term positive results but creates a longer term decline. in the context of this second machine age discussion, that plays out as the financing of the consumer through debt creation and the financing of the machine paradigm that displaces the worker/consumer through cheap money.

two clear globs of thought, both often repeated.

  • the consumer and worker/consumer is mapped to the need of social values. social values are dictated by the elite and natural forces. the natural force has been cheap energy and rising aspirational demographics. both are now past peak and are in decline in the usa.
  • the elite has validated destruction of purchasing power as their generational wealth transfer tool. by enslaving through debt, the 99% remain loyal to the hand that feeds them their soma.

the down-sizing of personal life to that which you can manage debt free is now nearly impossible. taxation alone will ensure you remain forever in debt.

the only cheap energy is that generated by us on the hamster wheel.

the only sustainable purchasing power is that immune to depredation by the elite schemes conducted through govt and banking.

the time is ripe for dancing in the streets?

the american spring is on indefinite hold.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2014 4:46 pm 
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financialization spikes short term positive results but creates a longer term decline. in the context of this second machine age discussion, that plays out as the financing of the consumer through debt creation and the financing of the machine paradigm that displaces the worker/consumer through cheap money.

two clear globs of thought, both often repeated.

  • the consumer and worker/consumer is mapped to the need of social values. social values are dictated by the elite and natural forces. the natural force has been cheap energy and rising aspirational demographics. both are now past peak and are in decline in the usa.
  • the elite has validated destruction of purchasing power as their generational wealth transfer tool. by enslaving through debt, the 99% remain loyal to the hand that feeds them their soma.

the down-sizing of personal life to that which you can manage debt free is now nearly impossible. taxation alone will ensure you remain forever in debt.

the only cheap energy is that generated by us on the hamster wheel.

the only sustainable purchasing power is that immune to depredation by the elite schemes conducted through govt and banking.

the time is ripe for dancing in the streets?

the american spring is on indefinite hold.

the american spring is a dead end. mythology and media controlled by the non-elected elites have insured that.

jefferson worried about the impact of private interests on the public political process. much is made and in many cases rightfully so of the intrusion of the government on the private. sadly it is the reverse that has come to wield far more power. i call it distortion, the wielding of asymmetry. i am attempting plow through taleb's latest but for today jefferson is more appropriate in terms of revolution. though perhaps evolution is a better word. humans have become dependent not on each other or on community or society but on mythology, on pleasure, on false choices phrased in ways that say "there is your enemy!" all while bounced about hither and yon by pickpockets in the guise of eternal youth, easy terms, wooden tents at 2%, oops, sorry, 8%, heated leather seats and a smiley amazon box.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2014 5:43 pm 
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large, private interests have purchased the govt and use it, and the law it produces, as the shield for their intent.

that intent is nothing less than the control of the future. all debt is a promise against forfeiture of future excess productivity. you will pay the nut and principle from whatever is left after your current needs are covered. and if you cannot cover your own needs, you must incur more debt.

the state is the company store.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2014 6:08 pm 
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i know some here appreciate kuntsler. his latest starts with:

Forward Guidance

Guess what? There is none. Rather, the Federal Reserve practice of Delphically divulging its intentions ought to be understood as the master pretense of US economic life — the delusion that wise persons are actually in control of anything. The result of this guidance continues to be the mis-pricing of everything, especially the cost of money as represented in the operations of debt, and hence the value of everything denominated in money.

The interventions of our central bank have really been aimed at one objective: to compensate for the contraction of real wealth in an economy that replaced purposeful activity with Kardashian studies and tattoo art. Purposeful economic activity provides surpluses that allow for the repayment of debt. Kardashian study and tattoo art lead to entropic entrapment, aka, a death spiral of culture and economy. That’s where we are at. The debt is now eating us alive, and the central bank trick of piling on additional debt to mask the failure of repaying old debt is losing its palliative punch.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2014 8:40 am 
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i know some here appreciate kuntsler. his latest starts with:

Forward Guidance

Guess what? There is none. Rather, the Federal Reserve practice of Delphically divulging its intentions ought to be understood as the master pretense of US economic life — the delusion that wise persons are actually in control of anything. The result of this guidance continues to be the mis-pricing of everything, especially the cost of money as represented in the operations of debt, and hence the value of everything denominated in money.

The interventions of our central bank have really been aimed at one objective: to compensate for the contraction of real wealth in an economy that replaced purposeful activity with Kardashian studies and tattoo art. Purposeful economic activity provides surpluses that allow for the repayment of debt. Kardashian study and tattoo art lead to entropic entrapment, aka, a death spiral of culture and economy. That’s where we are at. The debt is now eating us alive, and the central bank trick of piling on additional debt to mask the failure of repaying old debt is losing its palliative punch.

the ussr was the first large geography nation-state to collapse. people can argue about whether putin wants to put it together again but that is pointless. the end of the large geography nation-state has started, imo. too many people, too few resources. and far too little cooperation and community. the kardashians and tattoo shows are simply circuses that unfortunately have no bread to go along with them. freedom described as freedom to shop and "buy" with small rectangles of plastic that stand in place of what? shackles and microchips perhaps?

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 08, 2014 8:41 pm 
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orlov is the fellow to read respecting comparative collapse analysis. the take away is that the russians were so used to austerity, scarcity, and making do that collapse was a challenge to creativity more than anger. those who had the worst were those most ensconced in entitlement.

the indicators for the us are salient. in america, entertainment IS the bread keeping people from the streets. with pot legalization ensuring that youth will continue to be infantilized and pacified, the quality of the entertainment does not even need to represent a heavy investment.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 10, 2014 6:03 pm 
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orlov is the fellow to read respecting comparative collapse analysis. the take away is that the russians were so used to austerity, scarcity, and making do that collapse was a challenge to creativity more than anger. those who had the worst were those most ensconced in entitlement.

the indicators for the us are salient. in america, entertainment IS the bread keeping people from the streets. with pot legalization ensuring that youth will continue to be infantilized and pacified, the quality of the entertainment does not even need to represent a heavy investment.

entertainment and that which reinforces mythology.

private interests co-opting government leads to what? collapse? yes, a distinct possibility. charlatanism aka benevolent dictatorship by one or a group? similar to what we are experiencing so very possible. re-evolution? the revolutionary spirit held in regard by jefferson? imo, highly unlikely. much of what will happen will be done in the name of "returning to the constitution" or "upholding the constitution" which document and institutions established therein jefferson actually believed should grow, change and evolve. the concept of revolution periodically has been taken to mean armed rebellion. imo, according to arendt jefferson was more aiming at the evolution of the body politic and not a return to something. it may be arguable that the distortion of the body politic by private interest requires revolution but revolution is a dangerous thing. when you combine the social question in competition with the vested private interests the result can be damaging to man. that the institutions can be damaged may be necessary to remove the impact of distortion by private interests is something that must be risked.

in the long run revolution must be entered into with great thought and debate. especially be wary of thus who claim that revolution is the only alternative. they are, imo, charlatans seeking self-aggrandisement.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 10, 2014 8:57 pm 
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entertainment and that which reinforces mythology.

private interests co-opting government leads to what? collapse? yes, a distinct possibility. charlatanism aka benevolent dictatorship by one or a group? similar to what we are experiencing so very possible. re-evolution? the revolutionary spirit held in regard by jefferson? imo, highly unlikely. much of what will happen will be done in the name of "returning to the constitution" or "upholding the constitution" which document and institutions established therein jefferson actually believed should grow, change and evolve. the concept of revolution periodically has been taken to mean armed rebellion. imo, according to arendt jefferson was more aiming at the evolution of the body politic and not a return to something. it may be arguable that the distortion of the body politic by private interest requires revolution but revolution is a dangerous thing. when you combine the social question in competition with the vested private interests the result can be damaging to man. that the institutions can be damaged may be necessary to remove the impact of distortion by private interests is something that must be risked.

in the long run revolution must be entered into with great thought and debate. especially be wary of thus who claim that revolution is the only alternative. they are, imo, charlatans seeking self-aggrandisement.


i tend to a somewhat different view of causality, one that places emphasis on demographic and resource cycles. i cannot speak of revolution within the the scale of our social and governmental systems. these are already so pervasive and all engrossing and engorging that to turn them upside down through human agency or action does not seem at all plausible. far more plausible is the toppling of the top heavy, the collapse of structural foundations eaten away by debt, and the fading to unsustainablility of modes and means as a consequence of people amply not caring, being alienated or pre-occupied or simply worn out. revolution is the result of a small cadre striking so deep into the core of a governing contradiction that a general revulsion can be triggered.

there is a huge body of evidence that the period now unwinding was more the exception than the norm as a consequence of cheap energy. as we are at the end of that period even as the greatest mass of humanity has now been activated to expect the benefits of the early exponential growth curve of cheap energy means less a revolution than chaos and the planning for managing within chaos.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 10, 2014 9:26 pm 
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i tend to a somewhat different view of causality, one that places emphasis on demographic and resource cycles. i cannot speak of revolution within the the scale of our social and governmental systems. these are already so pervasive and all engrossing and engorging that to turn them upside down through human agency or action does not seem at all plausible. far more plausible is the toppling of the top heavy, the collapse of structural foundations eaten away by debt, and the fading to unsustainablility of modes and means as a consequence of people amply not caring, being alienated or pre-occupied or simply worn out. revolution is the result of a small cadre striking so deep into the core of a governing contradiction that a general revulsion can be triggered.

there is a huge body of evidence that the period now unwinding was more the exception than the norm as a consequence of cheap energy. as we are at the end of that period even as the greatest mass of humanity has now been activated to expect the benefits of the early exponential growth curve of cheap energy means less a revolution than chaos and the planning for managing within chaos.

i recall from somewhere that there was a question as to the greatest human invention which allowed human society to progress as it has. put forth were things like the computer chip, the car, the printing press and so on. i agree with those who put forth it was the invention of the steam engine. by allowing the pumping out of coal mines in england cheap fossil fuels were enabled to burst upon the scene on an industrial scale. imo the entire arc of growth from the 1700's to now is the result first, foremost and always of fossil fuels. the low cost and relatively easy access to them allowed for this. especially oil and gas were easily exploited. now claims are made and bought into that fracking will solve everythiing, well fracking and deep sea drilling, well, fracking, deep sea drilling and thorium flouride reactors, well...

the reality is with fossil fuels as the underlying construction/maintenance platform all alternatives will require some fossil fuel inputs. and population pressure and the demand for active participation in the deathstyle could render alternatives a moot point simply do to the pent-up demand and inability to meet it. costs will continue to rise and wages will continue to stagnate.

the intersection of spiraling costs for foodstuffs, energy, shelter and water with the social question has the capability of igniting a conflagration.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 10, 2014 10:35 pm 
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yes, the evidence of the arab spring(s) make conflagation odds impossible to discount. that these conflagrations arise from america exporting inflation and more generalized western undermining local cultural norms and values makes one ask what american cultural values have to be undermined to trigger the same sort of immune response.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 11, 2014 7:13 am 
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yes, the evidence of the arab spring(s) make conflagation odds impossible to discount. that these conflagrations arise from america exporting inflation and more generalized western undermining local cultural norms and values makes one ask what american cultural values have to be undermined to trigger the same sort of immune response.

imo it would take complete repudiation of national mythology. according to the splc the number of anti-government "patriot" groups including armed groups surged from 149 in 2008 to a peak of 1360 in 2012 and retreted to 1096 in 2013. while naturally what the splc calls hate groups or anti-government "patriot" groups may be open to interpretation imo the data has validity as it simply points out a restlessness that is tied to belief structures as to the validity of obama's meeting the qualifications as established by the constitution.

imo were a sitting president to attempt to undermine exceptionalism on a massive scale the end result would be bloodshed. it seems that austerity as you noted that the russians endured is more endurable than destruction of verities. especially the verities of being the lone so-called super-power.

http://www.splcenter.org/what-we-do/hate-and-extremism

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 11, 2014 3:58 pm 
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i will suggest that you are more right than you can imagine when you observe that the complete repudiation of national mythology is the basis for revolution and resistance.

with that baseline thesis, can we say that the degree of commitment exhibited by the revolutionary or resistor is a direct function of the "completeness" of the repudiation?

now consider that most of what falls under the heading of mythology is also described as the working operating system of traditional society, the mind of the creatures, collectively expressed in their modes of thought, values, dream states, aspirations, deep narratives, options for identity, sacrifices, (both personal and projected onto others), gods (both household and shared), relation to authority and independence.

the assault by a modernity arising from cheap energy upon these most basic and intrinsic natural human ways tears apart the core bindings of family, clan, and tribe. the substitute is that artificial construct, the state. those who have already lost access to family, clan, and tribe have little means to comprehend the revolution and resistance commitment of those under assault.

and no sympathy.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 11, 2014 5:48 pm 
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and, to take this thought into the now, what is the difference between:

Individuals targeted as San Francisco tech money protests intensify

and

'Wake up America,' says family involved in BLM cattle dispute

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 11, 2014 6:42 pm 
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and, to leave one more crumb on the table, what modernity has accomplished is to transform the myth of the state into a product, nation building, a function learned from industrialized opinion making (mind control) and exhibited early on by japan and germany both of which followed the dynamic to full pathology, needed to be broken, and remade. the success at the remaking gave confidence to generalized nation building wherever we choose, but there is a problem there. places that have remained at the pre-modern condition of the state cannot be "nation built" until they are first broken.

and for some reasons, the natives take exception to being broken.

i regret i do not have cassierer's last book on my shelf for reference here.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 12, 2014 3:59 am 
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Hearing the voices of the people from the periphery, one gets the impression of utterly normal and decent human beings bearing witness to the slow but inexorable destruction of their communities. It is like a Greek tragedy being played out: the audience knows that ruin awaits the protagonists, and it fears for their fate, but it also knows that nothing can alter the denouement.

source a bit later if there is comment.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 12, 2014 9:05 pm 
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Hearing the voices of the people from the periphery, one gets the impression of utterly normal and decent human beings bearing witness to the slow but inexorable destruction of their communities. It is like a Greek tragedy being played out: the audience knows that ruin awaits the protagonists, and it fears for their fate, but it also knows that nothing can alter the denouement.

source a bit later if there is comment.


the source of the above quote: The Thistle and the Drone: How America's War on Terror Became a GLobal War on Tribal Islam, Akbar Ahmed, (Brookings 2013). This is the fate of all traditional communities in the face of power aligned to profit.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 20, 2014 6:22 pm 
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for bird, denninger has a dedicated clog entry on financialization, a topic on which we agree is a cancer on the body politic, draining energy to benefit the 0.1%.

he works through examples in cell phone "plans", car purchases, education loans, real estate and asks:

Has Calculus changed in the last 30 years? Has chemistry? Has pretty-much anything else? No. What has changed is that the financialization has allowed colleges and lenders to collude in analyzing the outcome data and then ratcheting up the price so that only those on the right side of the bell curve get any financial benefit at all from attending; those on the left get hosed and those on the right get a fraction of the benefit they should.

The college, however, along with the car manufacturer and dealer, don't care because their goal is to maximize their profits and so long as half plus one of the people participating get some benefit there will be those they can sell their scheme to.

The Real Estate business is likewise polluted with this crap for the same reason. Whether you will benefit in the long run doesn't matter any more. All that matters is whether there is a marginal amount of economic benefit that can be siphoned off and whether those on the right side of the curve will keep a single dollar. So long as they do and you keep playing the game continues and prices are ratcheted up with nearly all of the benefit going to someone else.


to take back control simply stop buying things on credit. a sound principle and one i have followed for 21 years now.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 20, 2014 8:27 pm 
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I cannot argue against the thought of not buying on credit. Since my wife and I employed that strategy more than 15 years ago, our personal lot in life has improved. I like being zero sum, or not upside down. If we had continued on our buy by credit way of life, as suggested and encouraged by every conceivable form of lender out there, we would have collapsed with my last few years of under-employment. At the same time we are the exception and not the rule.

I can see the appeal that cheap credit has on people. Why wait, you satisfy that desire to purchase, releasing the endorphins of happiness associated with having the new thing. Forget the bill, deficits do not matter. Take the lead shown buy most companies, states, cities, nations, kick that can down the road. I watch my stroke victim sister in-law make purchases she cannot afford or need, and then complain when she lacks the funds to treat her children to a night out. At least she is missing 80% capacity of a lobe, she has an excuse.

I probably do not fear/despise the Fed as much as some, as the Fed has been here and even if repealed or removed, another entity will certainly step into the void. My U.S. History is not as sharp as it used to be, but we have had a few versions prior to the one we have now. They may have varied in structure, but they did exist, and failed, as well.

As I see it the issue is more of over population exacerbated by the lack of gainful employment which is result of so many variables you cannot lay blame at any one place. The empty retail outlets you mention in other threads have as much to do with changes in trends of purchasing, as economic woes of the current pocket book.

I drove through Detroit last weekend on our way to some soccer games for my son. The amount of burned out buildings and blight are even more than my last time though a few years back. So many more buildings burned out or razed, truly sad, maybe some better planning will allow for the restructuring or even redevelopment of the area. But at the same time, while Detroit is in ruins, we continue on to our destination in Pontiac, driving by million dollar homes to get to our game at a complex called Ultimate Soccer Arenas, http://www.ultimatesoccerarenas.com/ to play two teams ranked in the top 10 in the region, and yet one of the teams is only ranked 6th in the state. So a state in economic ruin has 6 of the top ten soccer teams in the region. Within a few miles of this complex, at least 5 more complexes that are of equal size. 15 full size soccer fields inside, air conditioned, heated, and busy. Somehow, the downturn of local car production that helped create the tragedy that is Detroit has not found its way to the uppers that live just minutes away.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 20, 2014 9:58 pm 
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mcslain, i salute you and your mrs and hope your lessons are passed on. your s-i-l's issues are sad to hear. the transformation from citizens to consumers is based upon that release of endorphins. well said. The Century of the Self is a documentary on the elite realization of how to trigger the release and structure societal control upon it.

regarding the FED, one need only start by considering the change in the purchasing power of one dollar over the history of the nation. since the advent of the FED in 1913, that purchasing power is now less than 5% of what it was at that time. the basis for the american empire is the dollar as reserve currency, and yet, we have systematically destroyed that currency. how much longer until a reckoning rebalances the world in some way?

the mis-spent public monies are embedded in those sports facilities, no doubt with foundations on bond issues enslaving the populace for a long long time.

thank you for your note. i greatly respect those with a common sense view of debt and credit. few of them serve in govt, unfortunately.

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Everybody, sooner or later, sits down to a banquet of consequences. - Robert Louis Stevenson


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