Off the keyboard of RE
Published on Reverse Engineering on January 22, 2011
Discuss this article at the Frosbite Falls Insider Table inside the Diner
Note from RE: Another series of articles from the archives of Reverse Engineering. In this series I look at DEATH as it has played out historically, and how it might play itself out again in a Neo-Tribal post-collapse paradignm. I take an unexpurgated look at taboo subjects like Infanticide, Suicide and Postal Mass Murders. IOW, not an article for the Squeamish. Part II will be posted on the Blog as well, the rest will appear in the Frostbite Falls Insider members Only board inside the Diner, along with all discussion of this series.
Tonight’s subject is DEATH. I am not talking nice Peaceful Death quietly in your own bed at night from Old Age, nor even more wilful forms of hastening your own death through Suicide or just bad habits like Smoking, Drinking or doing Drugs. Nor even death that comes from the vicissitudes of Nature, such as an Earthquake bringing the roof of your hut down on your head or naturally occurring diseases that run around the environment and periodically take out large numbers of the population. No, the type of DEATH that I am going to address here is the WILLFULLY CAUSED DEATH of OTHERS. This includes Death caused by War directly, Death caused by Abortion directly, and Death caused indirectly by controlling and making scarce the resources other people need to live. All these subjects have been topics of heated debate here lately, so I thought I would bring them all together and put in my usual 3000 word opinion on the disk. It is sure to be a highly popular opinion. NOT! Actually, this one may make the Top 10 of All Time Most HATED RE Posts, which is saying a lot for me Or it could be one of the Top 10 All Time Most LOVED RE Posts among some readers. Either way I am pretty sure the reactions will be extreme to one side or the other.
For all these forms of Death creation mentioned above, they get nearly universal opprobrium. The Moral Group Think tends to be that War is Evil, Abortion is Evil and Starving People is Evil. In the situation where there really is enough resource to go round, all these Death Creation mechanisms ARE Evil, but once resources are thin for the Population as a whole, any one of them can be less Evil than the alternative.
The simple example would be the case of the Small Tribe barely ekeing out an existence. There is only enough resource for say 10 people to live. A woman in the tribe gets pregnant. What are your REAL choices? One choice would be to Abort the child. Then you will not have another mouth to feed. Another choice would be to allow the child to be born, and ask or have “volunteer” an Elderly person in the tribe to Walk into the Great Beyond. Take that last Kayak trip out to Sea, give himself up to the Bear, climb to the top of Denali and Freeze to Death, whatever the choice. Given a Healthy Infant, the better choice is probably for the elderly person to Die, but of course until Born and demonstrating healthy and robust traits, you just don’t know if that life is more worthwhile for the survival of the Tribe than the Elderly person, who might still have a few good years left to pass on some knowledge. In this kind of scenario, you have to consider Exposure as another alternative instead of Abortion. Allow the child to be born, see how robust that child is, and if not sufficiently robust expose it on a mountaintop and leave it for the wolves. These ARE the kinds of choices that had to be made in the past, and all of you come from people who made those choices. As I see it, these choices are coming again to Homo Sapiens. They won’t be taken on willingly or easily, but they WILL happen.
Moral questions which are paramount in times of Surplus do not have the same meaning as they do in times of Deprivation. When the PURE SURVIVAL of the Tribe is in question, life or death of the individual is subsidiary to the survival of the TRIBE, which is the smallest economic unit possible for Homo Sapiens. We are Pack Animals basically, like Wolves that run in small groups. The transition to Agriculture socially changed most of us more to Herd animals like Sheep, though Packs of Wolves still move about among the Sheeple in our society. It’s the juxtaposition of these two basic forms of living among mammals in one species that is at the root of our social dilemma.
As we move forward through the Collapse of our society these two basic forms of mammalian social behavior will assert themselves, and for the most part the Sheeple will be slaughtered by the Wolves. Difference from the rest of Nature is that at any point Sheeple can BECOME Wolves, we aren’t specifically determined by nature to be one or the other as REAL Sheep and Wolves are, it is socially inculcated behavior in our case. Homo Sapiens “sheeple” DO become “wolves” when the society devolves. Gangs form up of former Sheeple, and the deep nature of Homo Sapiens as a Pack Animal reasserts itself. A Failed State like Somalia turns into a bunch of Pack Animal Pirates; a Failed State like Mexico turns into a bunch of Pack Animal Drug Cartels, a bunch of Towel Head farmers in Afghanistan turn into Al-Quaeda Terrorists, etc. In none of these cases do these folks hold onto the same kinds of Moral Restrictions that Sheeple do. Nor of course do the top of the food chain Wolves of Banksters hold onto the same set of moral restrictions or laws that their prey among the Sheeple do.
As a Sheeple, at any point you can become a Wolf. Some are already becoming Lone Wolves. Joe Stack was a Lone Wolf, so was Jared. Lone Wolves don’t last long, but Pack Wolves do, as long as there are Sheeple around to prey on. You have 3 basic choices, which are to be one of the Sheeple, to be a Lone Wolf, or to be a part of a Pack of Wolves. Only one of those 3 choices will allow your survival.
Once you revert to Tribes of Pack Animals, the same type of moral dilemmas that are faced by Sheeple in War are not relevant. It no longer is a question of Wolves slaughtering Sheep, but of Wolves fighting with Wolves. This is the stage we are moving into here now. For a long time it has been Sheep being slaughtered, but now the Sheep are starting to Pack Up and become Wolves, at least in places like Somalia, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Mexico.
Once you understand that your only REAL choice is whether to get slaughtered as Sheeple or become a Wolf yourself, if you want to LIVE then you become a Wolf. I am reminded here of that scene in Terminator II where Arnold reaches out his hand and says to Linda Hamilton “Come with me if you want to LIVE!”. You are in a fight for survival, and you have to Pack Up with some other wolves to have any chance at all. Once you do, you TAKE NO PRISONERS.
The Wars we are pursuing in Afghanistan and Iraq are a manifestation of this phenomenon on the aggregate level of the Nation State. As a Culture, it is Kill or Be Killed between our society and the one controlling the resource of Oil that we need as a culture to survive. Morality isn’t a question in this war, as long as it is perceived that we MUST have OIL to survive. ANYTHING goes. Killing civilian children is nothing more really than exposing them on a mountain top because your society needs the resources those children would use, just it is done on a mass scale as is the nature of war in the industrial era. From this point of view, its not morally wrong, and that would be the Bryzhinski/Kissinger/Cheney model of morality. It’s just a Geopolitical Chess Game.
Where the Moral Flaw really exists is in the inequity of power distribution between the Packs of Wolves. In fact it’s not so much a moral flaw or problem as it is one of homoeostasis. When there is relatively equal power distribution between packs of wolves, they tend to kill each other off in equal numbers when fighting over a given territory. When one group of wolves comes up with Industrialization, the whole power distribution setup goes out of whack and the Wars are not even in casualties. I remember those Numbers from Vietnam that used to be published each night on the Network TV Newz programs. 2000 Vietcong DEAD, 20 US Marines Dead. No Balance there, and so the whole shebang goes out of Homoeostasis.
This is why the pictures JimQ puts up of Dead and Mutilated Children are so disturbing, because people sense the inherent inequity here in the battle. A Big High Tech War Machine going in and Dropping Death from Above on a bunch of simple Villagers in Afghanistan is not a very fair fight. Same bizness in Vietnam. Who was not disturbed by the image in Platoon of the grunts torching the little Vietnamese Village, which of course was the cinematic version of the Me Lai Massacre? No matter how you feel about Commies or Towel Heads, your basic sense of fairness makes such slaughter seem quite immoral, which of course it is in this situation.
Its not the same moral dilemma when a couple of relatively evenly matched Tribes decide to Duke it Out over a Watering Hole. In this case one of them might sneak up in the middle of the night on the other one, and kill off everyone from the opposing tribe, women and children included, although more often just the men are killed and the women and children are taken as slaves. While this is a rather gruesome process, its not inherently unfair and doesn’t have the same kind of moral stink about it.
Abortion has similar inequities in the modern world, because it is inequitably distributed among the poor. Like Military Power, Economic power is inequitably distributed here, so MOST of the growing organisms being vacuumed up from mommy’s tummy are of course the potential progeny of poor people, likely to be poor themselves and in a social welfare state members of the dependent class, respectfully referred to on the pages of TBP as the Free Shit Army. LOL.
All sorts of Eugenics arguments have been put forth to justify this type of inequitable distribution of abortion, which basically comes from the faulty assumption that because people are poor, they also are Feeble Minded. This is much more likely to be the EFFECT of being poor rather than the CAUSE of it. Poor diet, poor educational opportunities and a poor nurturing environment is a more likely culprit than genetic differences for creating feeble minded people in this demographic. In any event, George Bush is living PROOF that rich people can be just as Feeble Minded as any Poor Person. LOL.
In our current Global society, in truth there is still quite a bit of surplus, and if a means could be found for equitable distribution of the remaining resources, neither Abortion nor War would be necessary. Unfortunately for a whole host of reasons setting up an economic system which can do such a job of equitable distribution is an exceedingly difficult problem, one which has never been solved for large societies at the Nation State level. It probably is an insoluble problem at this level, which means that both War and Abortion are inevitable, along with the slower form of death distribution of the powerful over the less powerful, which is resource starvation.
The main mitigating factor here is that due to the deterioration of complex systems, which I call the Conduits, power distribution is going to be levelled as these Conduits fail. As that happens, more of the Sheeple all over the world will morph into Wolves. Its going to become a fight of Pack Animals against each other with more or less the same tools for making that fight once the Oil resource drops below a critical mass. We are still a ways away from that though, so in the initial stages here of this spin down there will be a lot of very unfair fights and asymmetric types of warfare engaged in. Techno War simply breeds more Terrorists, because you cannot fight a Drone Aircraft with Guided Missiles with Homemade Bombs. So you have to carry the homemade bombs to hotels and buses and marketplaces where the people who are supporting the Techno Army are engaged in their daily toils, bringing the War to their shores and their lives. This type of asymmetric battle is in full flower in the Middle East already, and of course, its Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You also. It already has in small scale with events like Joe Stack and Jared, along with numerous College Campus Postals over the last couple of years.
In the great Moral Question here of whether any of this Death is necessary, the fault mainly lies in the fact that there is inequitable power and wealth distribution, and so those who support continuation of such inequity are most at fault, and so most morally corrupt. However, people immersed in a society dependent on the automobile and industrialization don’t see that as corruption, and they aren’t willing to give it up either. It “enhances” their lives. It will only be given up when it is no longer possible to run the War Machine which makes such an asymmetry possible. No individual can fight this, it’s a pointless and unwinnable battle. This is why the Back to the Land Hippy movement of the 1960s and 1970s failed to gain traction. Only when the Conduits truly FAIL will it be possible to fight and WIN this battle, and that day is coming, if not in this generation then almost certainly in the next one.
So, for the foreseeable future, for the rest of your natural life walking the earth, what you can expect to see are many more revoltingly immoral applications of Death by the Powerful on the Less Powerful, punctuated by instances of equally revolting Terrorist bombings of Malls, Train Stations and of course inevitably Elementary Schools or Day Care Centers by the Less Powerful on the Powerful. Besides the gruesome Abortion Mills, there will be more instances of newborns left in garbage bags in dumpsters. Neil Young wrote about this back as far as 1980 in “Keep on Rockin’ in the Free World”
For myself, I see what is coming down the pipe here, and I report what I see. I don’t like the immoral wars of the powerful on the less powerful when in truth there is still plenty to go round. I don’t like the many dead babies that poverty creates in a world where there is still plenty. To be sure, real deprivation is coming when the Oil resource can no longer keep the Industrial Ag model producing copious amounts of food, but that day is not here YET. Right NOW, the reason people are Starving in Tunisia is because of poor wealth distribution and financial speculation in the Commodities market by people seeking to make a Profit on the misery of others. This is immoral and unjust, but it is an effect of Capitalism, where resources are privatized and artificial scarcity is induced to sieve wealth from one group of people to another. This is why I am so vehemently anti-Capitalist and find the whole system to be unjust and immoral. As someone who believes in Justice, I support the idea of Punishment and Retribution, and I understand why Marie Antoinette’s head went rolling like a Bowling Ball out in front of the Bastille. She was GUILTY, and she deserved what she got, as all people do who live in luxury while others starve.
Nobody should be forced to give away EVERYTHING they ever worked for, but there is a limit to what any individual really needs to keep for himself for some safety and security In any society, having a couple of years worth of food is a prudent measure and not unreasonable for an individual. In our economics here in Amerika, I wouldn’t even begrudge someone who had $100K worth of Gold Coins in his basement safe that measure of security. More than this though here in Amerika? To me sequestering that much wealth is socially destabilizing, and besides that you are likely to lose most if not all of it anyhow when the fiat goes south and most paper assets like stocks and bonds lose their monetary value. Better to give it away and help some friends and family who are hurting while the money is still good for something. That is what I have done. Nobody, not even Bill Gates can Save them ALL. You are also free to choose exactly WHO you would like to Save here, and most of us will choose Friends and Family rather than Strangers. Only AFTER you have helped all your friends and family and your own life is reasonably secured if you STILL have surplus does Noblesse Oblige come into play. It behooves you then to help Strangers also, because doing so will stabilize the society as a whole. If all people lived by these principles, then the Wars and the Abortions could be postponed, and the necessary die off could be spread out over a generation or more. Not gonna happen of course, but because it IS in theory possible, it makes the other choice of hoarding the wealth to be immoral.
To be truly Just, a Society must be based on GIVING rather than TAKING. This is possible, though only demonstrated in much smaller societies than those we have developed at the Nation State level over the last 5000 years. This is why some folks will maintain “It has ALWAYS been like this, and it ALWAYS will be like this.” Not true. Potlatch WAS a viable system, and it will be again, though likely not at population levels and with social structures we currently have extant. That is a failure of the complex system model more than anything else, not a failure of inherent human corruption. It will take the utter and complete destruction of this complex system for the inherent traits of Generosity of Spirit and Giving and Cooperation to once again reassert themselves as the governing behaviors in human society. That this destruction will involve pain beyond all measure is without question. Those who do survive this though must remember what CAUSED it, and never permit this Evil to spread again amongst the race of Homo Sapiens. The Greedy must be Exterminated with Extreme Predjudice. Bring in the Orkin Man, Exterminate the Cockroaches. With a Clean Kitchen, we can cook up a Better Tomorrow.
Published originally on Pattern Literacy
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One of the scary factoids in circulation these days is the revelation that grocery stores hold only a three- or four-day supply of food. People wield this statistic to argue that our food system is appallingly insecure and in grave danger of failure. We’re only a few days from starvation, goes the frightening story, and we’re liable one day to find our supermarket shelves empty and the populace in panic.
To accept this forecast uncritically, though, means ignoring how complex systems work. We can scare ourselves by selectively focusing on a small piece of a larger picture and behaving as if that tiny bit were the whole story. It’s a natural tendency: Any organism interested in surviving needs to focus on what’s going wrong much more than what’s going right. But in this case, believing the tale of empty shelves may distract us from more urgent problems.
Storing large amounts of grains and other foods in cities is an ancient strategy, and it hasn’t protected against famine. Many European cities and walled towns kept grain supplies designed to carry them through hard times, yet, according to historian Fernand Braudel, famine remained a regular visitor. Continent-wide, famines that killed 10% or more of the population struck Europe 13 times in the 16th century, 11 times in the 17th, and 16 times in the 18th century. Local famines were far more common, yet most towns had large granaries. With a little thought, we can see why storing food in public granaries isn’t an effective strategy. How much food would a city of 50,000 need to store to get through months of utter crop failure? The math is brutal: the town would be almost knee deep in grain. And, more urgently, during a food panic, how many pounds of grain being handed to you by the state would make you calm down? Five? Ten? That’s only a couple of day’s supply for a small family. During a food panic, I suspect the government would need to hand out 20 to 50 pounds of grain per family every few days to calm a frightened populace. And during a panic, even the largest food storages are emptied quickly. The enemy here is fear, not the food system. In my book, anyone shouting “Run to the stores and buy as much food as you can!” deserves a special place in hell.
Storing more than a few days supply of food within a city makes little sense for a number of reasons. It requires dedicated storage buildings in cities—where space is most expensive. We’d need security forces to protect the food, a bureaucracy to run the logistics, and all that food must be cycled in and out for freshness. Plus, imagine a half million or more hungry people all converging on central granaries expecting to be fed. The logistical problems are enormous: think FEMA or TSA, and you can see why it’s the wrong level to operate at. A much more sensible place for emergency food storage is at the household level. If you are worried about food shortages, get your own stash and store as much as makes you comfortable. In designing a solution to a problem, it’s critical to intervene at the proper level, and here, the household is a far more effective level than the state.
Another reason for not instituting centralized food warehouses is that food systems are based much more on flow than they are on storage, and they usually have been. Claiming that our strategy for food delivery is precarious is not thinking in terms of dynamic whole systems, in which flows are far greater than storage—though both are important. Imagine someone panicking because they suddenly realized that their yard’s soil only contains enough water for four days of plant growth. That may be true, but we know also that water is constantly flowing in—storage is only one bit of the picture. Moisture is being pulled upward through the soil, rain is likely before long, plus we have the water line from the street, household graywater, and all the other ways that the tiny bit of water on that land is being renewed continuously. Yes, it’s possible that all the water delivery systems could break down simultaneously, just as the whole food system could, but that entails large-scale network failures—the utterly perfect storm—that would likely send signals well in advance and affect much more than water or food.
If we don’t look at flows, and don’t think in terms of whole systems, we can make ourselves very scared about the complex systems surrounding us. I call this tendency “drawing the box too small.” If we draw a boundary at, say, the city limits of Chicago and measure how much food is available within it, we can get frightened at how little there is: a few days supply. But that’s not really Chicago’s whole food supply, is it? If we enlarge the boundary to, say, what can be delivered to the city within an hour’s drive, suddenly that food supply contains all the farms and gardens, warehouses, cold-storage units, processing plants, feedlots, ships anchored in Lake Michigan full of grain, distribution centers, rail depots, and other sources of food within a 50-mile radius. That’s a lot more than a four-day supply. Then, enlarge the box to a day’s drive and the food supply will last for weeks. And if we increase the box to include the entire nation or continent—which is still only a part of our food system—we now have an essentially infinite supply of food, renewed every growing season, since the US is still a net food producer.
What makes think that something as unnatural as city limits is the boundary of a city’s food supply? And what kind of catastrophe would limit a city to the food within it? Obviously, a local disaster such as a hurricane or earthquake could do this, but it also could destroy any food grown or stored there, or start a panic that depletes even the largest supply. (Or takes martial law to protect it and draconian rules to distribute it. I’d rather store my own.) Even Hurricane Katrina didn’t prevent food from reaching New Orleans before many people went hungry. Perhaps a rupture of the transportation system would do it. But what would cause this? Rapid destruction of large parts of the highway or rail system is unlikely except in war or national strike (and striking workers and their families need to eat, too). These networks are highly distributed and redundant: There are many routes to any city. A major and sudden fuel shortage might do it, but I suspect that we’d quickly see rationing and redistribution of fuel away from many non-food uses, since governments know that hungry people start revolts. And actual transportation of food only uses 4% of the total energy in the food system (Weber and Matthews, Env. Sci. Technology, 2008, 42: 3508), so a fuel shortage would have less effect on moving food into cities, and more on the production and processing of food, which is a slower process that would unwind over weeks and months, not days.
There’s a lot wrong with our food system, but its “just in time” nature is not one of the flaws. We need to ask why the idea of four days of food on grocery shelves scares us, and why it makes us believe we have a precarious food system. Cities have always drawn from the surrounding countryside for their food. Why is it hard to trust that the current food system will continue to deliver food into cities? I suspect that part of our fear is that the size and number of components of the food systems is so vast that we can’t easily grasp how it works or believe that something that complex can continue to function long. It’s like worrying that your circulatory system—with its billions of red blood cells, pulsing lung tissue, ornately branching veins and arteries, and complicated gas exchange network—will fail and you won’t be able to get oxygen into your blood. It makes me dizzy just to think about it. Fortunately, complex adaptive systems such as our bodies and our food supply continue to function without our conscious control; they are highly networked and on many levels.
The long-term storage for our food supply is on the land, widely distributed, where it belongs. The food system has many tiers, and the “food stored in cities” level is a minor component. The system encompasses many levels of intermediate food storage components such as farms, cooperative grain-storage towers, processing plants, warehouses, shipping in transit, and distribution centers, each holding or supplying a significant percentage of our food supply and operating over a timeframe of weeks and months. It is a system in which flow makes up more of the capacity than storage. With a perishable good such as food, that’s as it should be. Having more than a few day’s supply of food stored at the end of the chain, in cities, would be a misallocation of resources away from the sources that generate the food and direct its constant stream toward the user. It’s smart for residents to store emergency food in their home, in whatever quantity makes them feel safe. But an expensive revamping of our food system to build collective infrastructure for urban food storage makes little sense when flow is the key element of any food system.
Our food system has many flaws. We need more locally grown food. The current system is far too dependent on fossil fuels, is concentrated in too few seed varieties and a handful of corporations, is subsidized toward unhealthy and unwise products, and wastes prodigious quantities of water and nutrients. But an absence of giant state-run granaries is not one of its failings. In a complex system, flows are at least as important as storages, and is the appropriate place to focus. A secure food system stems far more from the flow of food and the existence of many levels of nearby and faraway storages than from the amount of food on grocery shelves. To claim that our just-in-time system is precarious is drawing the box far too small, and ignores the flow-based nature of the complex, constantly readjusting systems that we depend on.
Off the Keyboard of Gail Tverberg
Published on December 12, 2012 on Our Finite World
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Most of us have heard that Thomas Malthus made a forecast in 1798 that the world would run short of food, and that great famine would result. But most of us don’t understand why he was wrong. This issue is relevant today, as we grapple with the issues of world hunger and of oil consumption that is not growing as rapidly as consumers would like–certainly it is not keeping oil prices down to historic levels.
What Malthus Didn’t Anticipate
Malthus was writing immediately before fossil fuel use started to ramp up.
The availability of coal allowed more and better metal products (such as metal plows, barbed wire fences, and trains for long distance transport). These and other inventions allowed the number of farmers to decrease at the same time the amount of food produced (per farmer and in total) rose. On a per capita basis, energy consumption rose (Figure 2) allowing farmers and others more efficient ways of growing crops and manufacturing goods.
If it hadn’t been for the fossil fuel ramp up, starting first with coal, Malthus might in fact have been right. As it was, population was able to ramp up quickly after the addition of fossil fuels.
A person can see that there was a particularly steep rise in population, right after World War II, in the 1950s and 1960s (Figure 3). This is when oil consumption mushroomed (Figure 2, above), and when oil enabled better transport of crops to market, use of tractors and other farm equipment, and medical advances such as antibiotics.
It is likely that increased consumer and business debt following World War II (Figure 4) also played a role in the post-World War II ramp up.
The reason I say that debt likely played a role in this ramp is because at the end of World War II, people were, on average, pretty poor. The United States had recently been through the Depression. Many were soldiers coming back from war, without jobs. Without a ramp up in factory work and related employment, many would be unemployed. A ramp up in debt fixed several problems at once:
- Allowed low-paid workers funds to buy new products, such as cars, that used oil
- Allowed entrepreneurs funds to set up factories
- Allowed pipelines to be built, and other support for ramped up oil extraction
- Provided jobs for many coming home from the war effort
The debt ramp up, and the resulting increase in oil production, raised living standards. Figure 2 shows that the increase in per capita energy consumption was far greater in the 1950 to 1970 period when oil production was ramped up than in the coal ramp-up between 1840 and 1920. The long coal ramp-up period does not appear to have been accompanied by such a big ramp-up in debt.
A tentative conclusion might be that as long as we can keep ramping up availability of energy products and debt, Malthus’s views are not very relevant.
Of course, things aren’t looking as benign today. World oil production has been close to flat since about 2005 (Figure 5).
The world has been able to increase production of other fuels to compensate so far. Unfortunately, the big increase is in coal (Figures 1 and 2). This mostly relates to growth in the economies of Asian countries, which are large users of coal.
The cost of oil has more than tripled in the last ten years. The higher cost of oil is a problem, because it leads to recession, unemployment, and governmental debt problems in oil-importing countries. See my posts High-Priced Fuel Syndrome, Understanding Our Oil-Related Fiscal Cliff, and The Close Tie Between Energy Consumption, Employment, and Recession.
Continued increase in debt now seems to be running into limits. Federal government debt is in the news every day, and non-government debt seems to be contracting relative to GDP, based on Figure 4.
I am not sure that we can conclude that we are headed for catastrophe the day after tomorrow, but the graphs give a person reason to pause to think about the situation.
The reason I write posts is to try to pull together the big picture. If we only look at the latest new item forecasting huge increases in tight oil production or talking about 200 years of natural gas, it is easy to reach the conclusion that all of our problems are past. If we look at the big picture, they clearly are not.
Debt problems are closely related to high oil prices in recent years. Debt problems are today’s issue, and they are not being considered in the huge oil and gas forecasts we see everywhere. The new tight oil and the new shale gas resources likely will need to be financed by increasing amounts of debt, so there is a direct connection with debt. There is also an indirect connection, through governmental debt problems, higher taxes, and the likely resulting recession (leading to lower oil prices, perhaps too low to sustain the high cost of extraction).
Also, it is interesting that the supposedly huge increases in US oil supply don’t really translate to any discernible bump in world oil supply in Figure 5.
We know that the world is finite, and that in some way, at some point in the future, easily extractable supplies of many types of resources will run short. We also know that pollution (at least the way humans define pollution) can be expected to become an increasing problem, as an increasing number of humans inhabit the earth, and as we pull increasingly “dilute” resources from the ground.
Based on earth’s long-term history, and on the experience of other finite systems, it is clear that at some point, perhaps hundreds or thousands of years from now, the earth will cycle to a new state–a new climate with different dominant species. It may turn out that these new species are plants, rather than animals. The new dominant species will likely ones that can benefit from our waste. Humans would of course like to push this possibility back as long as we can.
At this point, my goal is to pull together a view of the big picture, in a way that other analysts usually miss. The picture may not be pretty, but we at least need to understand what the issues are. Is the shift in the cycle very close at hand? If so, what should our response be?
Off the keyboard of RE
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Initially my Title for this article was “Thanksgiving Memories in the Age of Oil“, but I elected to simplifty it down to Thanksgiving Memories to make the Permalink more simple, and besides it is obvious my memories of the Thanksgiving Holiday are all Oil Age memories.
If you care to believe all the legends told about the FIRST Thanksgiving, obviously they don’t match up with the Food Fest of the ones engaged in during the Age of Oil. A few Starving Folks in the Plymouth Colony get together with some Natives who actually HAVE some food, they eat a decent meal all are Thankful for as Winter sets in, but nevertheless as Winter Progresses there in Plymouth numerous people go to the Great Beyond due to Starvation issues. Not as many as the first Winter, but quite a few, then refilled with more escaping Eurotrash the following spring. No record really of how many Natives also went to the Great Beyond, but we do know the Plymouth folks got absolutely devastated in Numbers until the colony finally got established some and built up to around 7000 or so over time.
Regardless of, or perhaps BECAUSE of the huge percentage Die Off of original colonists at Plymouth, “Thanksgiving” ended up being one of our BIG FSofA Holidays, matched in significance only by Christmas and perhaps the 4th of July Independence Day celebration. In both the cases of Christmas and Thanksgiving, over the course of the Age of Oil, both have morphed into celebrations of Conspicuous Consumption on an Ungodly scale. In the case of Christmas, all about gobs of TOYS for young’uns and adults alike, “will I get my I-phone or my Porche in the Driveway with a big Bow on it?” Other Holidays like Halloween and Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day have also been heavily commercialized in the Age of Oil, but still the Majors of Thanksgiving and Christmas dominate here.
Thanksgiving in the Age of Oil isn’t about Presents of Toys like Christmas, it is about EATING a LOT of Food! How much can you stuff yourself with as you go to 2 or 3 different Relatives houses to have 2PM Meal at Aunt Sadie’s McMansion, a 4PM meal at Granma’s House and a 6PM meal at the Boss’ Mansion served up Buffett style? It doesn’t end just Thursday Night either, somebody you couldn’t make it over to on Thursday holds a Friday banquet, you vomit it all up Saturday and Sunday Morning your Church puts out ANOTHER Buffet for you to stuff your face with!
The Homeless and Impoverished are not left hanging on Thanksgiving either.. Every Salvation Army Post serves up Turkey Slices and Canned Corn and Cranberry Sauce on Thanksgiving. Plenty-o-food for EVERYBODY on Thanksgiving, FREE of Charge here in the Land of Good & Plenty! If you just have a couple of friends still employed, they will Invite you over for Thanksgiving, even co-workers you barely know will invite you over to Consume Mass Quantities of Food with them! In fact being a Hermit like myself who because of the work I do I know lots of people, I get dozens of people who feel sorry for the fact I don’t have family to Conspicuously Consume food with and who ALL invite me over! LOL. Politlely declining these invitations first because a Turkey Microwaveable is about enough for me and second because hanging with a bunch of Family I don’t really know from Adam is not great fun is quite difficult to do. LOL. I do usually get roped into at least two of these face-stuffing fests though with somebody.
The Mass Consumption of Food on Thanksgiving first hit me after we returned from Brazil in the late 60s, but didn’t REALLY hit home until my Mom got the HOUSE as part of the Divorce Settlement with Dad the Pigman. MOST of my relatives at this time lived in Rented Apartments, rather small places that couldn’t accomodate the WHOLE family. MY HOUSE had a big Living Room and Dining Room, and we came back from Brazil with some amazing Furniture, including a Hand Carved Jacaranda (Brazilian Hardwood) table that was 8′ long and 3′ wide. You could lay out a pretty massive Buffett on this table.
Everybody brought over a Dish of some sort to contribute to the Buffet, each of which usually could serve about 8 peoople. since they toted along some Kids and others who did not bring a dish, usually it ended up with about 4X as much as anybody could possibly eat, even the Biggest Pigs, and there were a few amazing ones in the Family. LOL. So AFTER the Big Meal, the next big challenge was distributing out the Leftovers to everybody, and this in t he days before you had GLAD Containers in every size range. Mainly you wrapped up the stuff in Foil or Wax Paper, or loaded stuff onto the original Plate or Bowl the person brought with them to the Food Fest.
The Mass Consumers in my family did not just bring over Food of course, they brought over plenty-o-Wine,Beer and Hard Liquor also, and there were a good number of the folks who considered this a great opportunity to get totally shit-faced DRUNK. Most famous among them was my Uncle Jessie, a WWII hero who pulled half a dozen men out of a burning Tank and had his hands burned up pretty bad and lived after that the rest of his life on Disability, Drinking and Gambling on Horses at the OTB Betting parlors in Brooklyn. Fortunately Jessie was a pretty Jovial Drunk, and usually did not cause too much problems other than figuring out where to put him when he finally passed out.
As “Hosts” for the Thanksgiving Food Consumption Fest, our Contibution to the Buffet was the TURKEY! So it was always a BIG ONE in those days, 20 pounders at least. My Mom was a SPECTACULARLY bad cook, so after the first year when the Turkey was WAY over-done, I took over the Turkey cooking job, monitoring the oven and experimeting with different basting techniques to end up with a nice JUICY Turkey at the end of it. I was about 11 or 12 I guess when I first took on this job, it was my first major Cooking Assignment. The first year actually came out OK, a DEFINITE improvement over the DISASTER Turkey my mom cooked the year before, but it still took another couple of years to get this right.
The other BIG Part of the turkey Job was the CARVING, and this I took EXCEPTIONAL PRIDE in doing well. Unlike the dude in the above photo, No Electric Carving Knife at the time in the RE household, but we did have some pretty good steel Cutlery we came back from Brazil with. Not sure if it was forged in Brasil,but it was some mighty good steel and lasted right up until Mom went to the Great Beyond . I think my sister has the knives in her kitchen now.
The first year I wasn’t too good with the carving, but I practiced on Chickens during the following year and by the third year my Turkey Platters looked pretty much like the one at the left here.
The Huge Family Feasts with ALL the relatives (Mom’s side Only, not Dad the Pigman’s) lasted probably right though my marriage, after that one of mom’s sisters died, the other went into a Nursing Home and their kids stopped coming and started doing their own Thanksgivings.
I remember one of the Turkey Day dinners with the Ex very well, we lived up in Larchmont sharing a house with a couple of other 20-somethings, and hadda drive down the Bronx River Parkway to the Whitestone Bridge to get over to Queens. Our car was a 1970s era Volkswagen Beetle, plenty-o-rust and a super stiff clutch. There was a massive Traffic Jam on the highway, stop and go starting a good 5 miles away from the bridge. My leg started cramping up so bad from clutching after an hour I hadda let the ex drive.
Once the big family Dinners died off and after my divorce was when I went out OTR as a long haul Trucker, and most Thanksgivings I was able to get off the road and hang with family, though I recall at least one I missed where I had T-G Dinner at a Truckstop. I think it was the Flying J, which had the best Buffets , although Petro had some good ones also.
It was during that time Mom retired and joined my Sister out in Springfield, and for another decade or so my sister did the Big Dinner at her McMansion there, with assorted Friends & Misfits she gathered up over her years living there, along with my Nephew and later his wife and kids.
During this period, she was responsible for the Turkey Cooking, but any years I did make it back to Springfield I always still got the Carving Job. Since I was no longer Cooking, I felt responsible for bringing SOME Mass Quantity Food to the Table as my contribution, so I started Reserving and buying the fabulously expensive (forHam) Honey Baked Hams from the HBH store. You don’t even have to Carve these yourself, they have a machine that does a cool Spiral Cut around the Hambone. I would always buy the BIGGEST one, cost like $60-70 I recall at the time. No idea what they run now.
My Brother-in-Law the Tool & Die man always got a Turkey from the Job, that was the Big Benny of his Non-Union Job as Mr. Fixit of every Tool & Die Machine known to man and designer of innumerable Molds over the years. He designed the original Pizza Hut pizza pans. He is actually still employed in this Bizness, even though so much manufacturing has left the shores of the FSofA. The company he works for now got the contract to make fittings for the building going up on the old WTC site, so likely will stay in Biz until he retires. No pension though, always a Non-Union job and I don’t think he ever started a 401K. So his Pension is Social Security, for as long as it lasts. My sister has been employed by the State of Missouri and has a State Pension due her along with SS, again for as long as that lasts. Then they were the benficiaries of Inheritance also from my BIL’s side and my Mom, though she did not get showered with Grandpa’s Booze Bucks, he was old school and handed it all off Patrilinearly to me, skipping my Dad because he couldn’t stand him. LOL.
Since moving to Alaska, I haven’t made it back for a Turkey Day to Springfield, most of my trips back there have been over the Chrstmas-New Years holiday, at least while Mom was still alive. I won’t be making it back there this year though during Christmas.
So the last few years I have mostly been the Old Hermit who some family feels sorry for and invites over for Dinner. Also have had to do work related Buffets, though not this year since I broke off with the fellow I originally came up here to work with and now am involved in another similar start-up. Not nearly as developed though so we are not yet doing the big Biz Buffet thing with the clientele. I make small talk usually, though there are quite a few Doomers here now so in the last couple of years Doom is up for discussion. The guy I am visiting with tomorrow is now CONVINCED Doom is Imminent because Obama-sama got re-elected. LOL. He HATES Obama.
Anyhow, the various pictures I yanked up off Google here are very representative of almost all the T-G Gluttony Extravaganzas I have attended over the last half-century here in the Land of Good & Plenty. Nobody I ever knew anywhere in the FSofA went Hungry on Thankgsgiving, though I am sure in Appalachia and other enclaves of Poverty some likely did. At the same time, all through those years, millions of people have gone Hungry in other places, while probably at least 25% if not more of the food consumed in these dinners ends up in the trash or in the compost pile for some gardener types who actually do their own composting.
My biggest pet peeve all through the years with the Waste was the Carcass after Carving, along with the bag of Giblets stuffed into the abdominal cavity of the nicely plucked and eviscerated Butterball Turkey. Almost nobody uses this stuff here in the FSofA, it goes straight into the garbage once all the nice Meat is carved off the bones. However, no matter HOW good a carving job you do, there is tons of good food left on the bones, and INSIDE the bones too.
When I was in Brazil, our Cook never threw out this stuff, she took all the bones and stuff left on our plates and threw it all in a Huge Pot which she simmerred for a few hours after we ate and made Soup to take home to her family in the Favelas. My Grandma also who DID face Starvation during the Great Depression could never let Chicken Bones go to waste, she also made Chicken Soup out of leftover chicken bones and giblets. I picked up this habit during my years Turkey cooking, and actually got to the point where I would ask friends and neighbors to save their Carcasses, which I would collect up on Friday and Boil and make several gallons of Turkey Broth to make Turkey soup with. I would then strain the broth, put it into containers and freeze it, and each week make a new batch of Turkey Soup, with fresh Carrots and Celery, Basil, Parsley, Dill and Rosemary and then add sometimes Dumplings, sometimes Wanton and sometimes Matzoh Balls to finish out the soup.
It remains to be seen how long this Festival of Gluttony continues on here in the FSofA. Back in 2008, I figured that one was the LAST one, but here we are in 2012 heading into another one tomorrow. At this point, despite the Fiscal Cliff and the Eurotrash going down the toilet and the Drought which took down the Corn Harvest by some inexactly known amount, I suspect another Face Stuffing next year too. I don’t know exactly when this will end, I only know it will end in the not too distant future.
Meanwhile, those of us who go out tomorrow and munch down on plate fulls of Turkey, Honey Baked Ham, Prime Rib, Sweet Potatoes, Stuffing, Green Bean Casseroles, Cranberry Sauce, Bottles of CA Mondavi Vineyards Wine, Bottles of Sam Adams Boston Lager and Bottles of 12 Year Old Single Malt Glenlivet Scotch Whisky can all say we are fellow Travellers on the Hypocrisy Tain with William Hunter Duncan. Even the Impoverished here attending Salvation Army dinners ride that train with us, because what all of us are doing is consuming WAY more of the resources of the earth then we really need to, and way more than is our Fair Share also. What goes into the trash tomorrow night probably could feed double to triple the population of the FSofA, near 1B people I am sure. Thousands of children will die tomorrow of Manutrition, millions more will go Hungry tomorrow. Not because the Food is not available, it most surely is right now. It occurs because the distribtuion system of the wealth of the world is so vastly skewed, and because taking back the control of this earth from those who sewed it up early is so hard to do.
All very hard to digest of course, but as you digest your Turkey Dinner tomorrow, remember it and live with it. It is part of your Complicity, part of your Hypocrisy in living in the Land of Good & Plenty as a Beneficiary of the Age of Oil.
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The Orkin man is one of RE’s favorite memes, often invoked as a symbol of retribution by the meek against the great. When we watch gangsters confiscate houses with impunity and murder by proxy and a pen (see the story of Norman Rousseau), run the economy into a ditch, commandeered great bonuses and be subject to none of the usual proceedings of justice, it is easy to despair and to look for revenge. This overwritten screed is a meditation upon what has become a thought-provoking thread rife with implications, a thought experiment which, if followed through the course of its own ineluctable logic, obliges each of us to measure where we would fall, and what we would do, in the event TSHTF.
What has actually happened here in this country on these rare occasions when people have stood up en masse to Fight the Power? In a previous lifetime, I investigated and created a documentary about the Battle at Blair Mountain. You will likely not have heard of this, the teaching of labor history having apparently been classified as a Class I misdemeanor here in the FSA. In the largest uprising in the United States outside of the Civil War, in 1921, thousands of miners waged armed warfare in Logan County, West Virginia against mine owners, sheriff Don Chafin, and federal troops, in an effort to unionize the mines.
In Mingo, Logan and McDowell counties, miners worked under incredibly bad conditions, were paid next to nothing, had no freedom of speech or assembly, and were dispatched with impunity by mine guards and local politicos in an atmosphere reminiscent of a third-world dictatorship, or contemporary South Carolina. In 1921, thousands of miners and families were evicted from their tents after having the temerity to join a union. The Miners’ March, as it was called, was set to change all that. The military was engaged, as always, to Protect Property Rights, those most sacred and revered of all rights extended by the Hand of God to the white, male property owners who created the FSA. The miners’ intention was to march to the southwestern coalfields and free fellow miners from abominable treatment at the hands or mine owners.
The miners were opposed by a well-armed contingent of mine guards and State Police with rifles and machine guns. These would eventually be joined by 2,000 regular Army troops armed with airplanes, bombs, and poison gas. The two forces met at Blair Mountain, in Logan County, along the ridge line.
This was the Battle of Blair Mountain.
The battle marked the first time U.S. troops were ordered to bomb civilians. Federal troops squared off against citizen miners, many themselves veterans hardened from recent service in WW I.
The union leader Bill Blizzard eventually surrendered his army in order to avoid further civilian casualties. Blizzard was acquitted in court of insurrection. Future UMW & CIO leader John L. Lewis fought alongside Blizzard at the Battle of Blair Mountain and succeeded in getting recognition for the union 14 years later in southern West Virginia.
One of the songs that sprung up in the wake of these labor troubles with the song “Which side are you on?” It was written by Florence Reece, the wife a union organizer for the UMW in Harlan County, Kentucky, when the miners of that region were locked in a bitter and violent struggle with the mine owners called the Harlan County War. In an attempt to intimidate the Reece family, the local sheriff illegally entered their family home in search of Sam Reece. Sam had been warned in advance and escaped, but Florence and their children were terrorized in his place. That night, after the men had gone, Florence wrote the lyrics to “Which Side Are You On?” on a calendar that hung in the kitchen of her home. She took the melody from a traditional Baptist hymn, “Lay the Lily Low.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Which_Side_Are_You_On%3F)
A Song by Florence Patton Reece
Come all of you good workers
Good news to you I’ll tell
Of how that good old union
Has come in here to dwell
Which side are you on?
Which side are you on?
Which side are you on?
Which side are you on?
My daddy was a miner
And I’m a miner’s son
And I’ll stick with the union
Till every battle’s won
They say in Harlan County
There are no neutrals there
You’ll either be a union man
Or a thug for J.H. Blair
Oh, workers can you stand it?
Oh, tell me how you can
Will you be a lousy scab
Or will you be a man?
Don’t scab for the bosses
Don’t listen to their lies
Us poor folks haven’t got a chance
Unless we organize
So the miners organized together to Fight the Power, to take the law into their own hands because the law was an ass. What they got for their trouble was the full response of the state in all of its Majesty and force of arms. Eventually the legal system would catch up. In the fullness of time, union rights would be recognized, at least until after World War II, when the elites mounted their counterrevolution under the banner of “right to work” laws.
In my loathing for the Banksters and their apologists, I take a back seat to nobody. The bailout of 2008, otherwise known as the “banksters coup,” was just the cherry on top of the same toxic milkshake served up as economic and social policy over the last 30 years. The insane clown posse that passes for the modern Republican Party has eyeballed the demographic trends, and pasted together an assemblage of what Drfitglass called “the scattered,raving remnants of the Confederacy for one, last glorious bonfire of democracy.” Combine the wholesale assault of the remnant of the New Deal in an atmosphere of “industrialized political hatespeech,” Fox News, Hate Radio and the Tea Party with its Billionaire backers, and it’s easy to succumb to the desire to want to kill something.
Intellectually I hold with Kunstler’s “lamppost and 40 feet of sturdy nylon rope” as the due for the “masters of the universe “who have ground down our economy and wrecked the ship of state. But personal morality makes looping the first skein of rope over the lamppost morally fraught. On the other hand, one is left with the spectacle of the pigmen rooting among the remains of the economy and the country, like Wu’s pigs disposing of a fresh corpse in HBO’s “Deadwood.”
It is this episode that springs to mind as I consider the “Orkin Man Master Plan” (OMMP) as discussed on the forum of the Doomstead Diner. http://www.doomsteaddiner.org/forum/index.php?topic=477.0
The Orkin man is a favorite device of RE, the invoking of which I have enjoyed since the same since his days on The Burning Platform blog. The Orkin man is an exterminator who cleanses the dwelling of lice, vermin, termites and all manner of infestations. The analogy is clear. The remedy less so.
One poster on Doomsday Diner posed the question, “Who gets to be the Orkin man?” Indeed. Who gets to be the decider? Being the decider has great costs, which turned on a fundamental moral issue, at a time when our moral and spiritual institutions are in decline, church attendance down, and many people utterly and completely unequipped to weigh moral and ethical questions. And as much as I like to give voice to my inner hunchback, there is that “judge not lest ye be judged” morality imbued by a Catholic education and nun-beatings that inflects one’s thoughts, processes and decisions, even decades later.
As I reflected on the more recent exemplars of individuals taking on such a strategy in this country, and after Blair Mountain, my mind skittered to thoughts of Kosovo, Afghanistan, El Salvador, Pinochet’s Argentina, and then settled on the best recent example: Pol Pot whose efforts to form a Communist peasant farming society resulted in the deaths of 25 percent of the country’s population from starvation, overwork and executions. Those Khmer Rouge wanted to return to the land as well, and also wanted to cleanse the parasites, userers and useless eaters from the face of Cambodia. A cautionary tale about the work of idealists who want to remake a society by means of “cleansing” the “parasites…”
It took a while for ol’ Pol to consolidate power– he needed to throw in with Sihanouk to fight the right wing junta the US had installed, then the US had to leave the ‘Nam and Cambodia. But once in power, he began a radical experiment to create an agrarian utopia that would warm the heart of the most doomy doomster. Pol Pot had seen Mao’s Cultural Revolution first-hand during a visit to Communist China, so he figured to go The Great Yellow River Swimmer one better.
Mao’s “Great Leap Forward” included forced evacuations of Chinese cities and the purging of “class enemies, ” a move that would apparently gain favor among participants in this thread. Pol Pot now stood up his own “Super Duper New and Improved Great Leap Forward” in Cambodia, which in itself was new and improved, hence renamed the Democratic Republic of Kampuchea.
Remember Pol Pot’s ringing declaration, “This is Year Zero?” Ah, search your memories. Society was to be “purified.” Capitalism, Western culture, city life, religion, and all foreign influences to be extinguished. Intellectuals, bureaucrats and other glasses-wearers were to push wheelbarrows, the better to repent of their pointy-headedness, and to learn the glories of peasant Communism. Foreigners were expelled, embassies closed, foreign economic or medical assistance refused. No use of foreign languages. Newspapers and television stations were shut down, radios and bicycles confiscated, and mail and telephone usage curtailed. Money was forbidden. (That will kick those usurers in the ass.) Businesses were shuttered, religion banned, education halted, health care eliminated, and parental authority revoked. Thus Cambodia was sealed off from the outside world, almost as effectively as if information were controlled by a small handful of media companies.
Something about that live-or-die thingy tends to bring out the excesses in our revolutionary heroes. I’ll put that in my “Robespierre was overworked and misunderstood” file.
Can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. All of Cambodia’s cities were forcibly evacuated. At Phnom Penh, two million inhabitants were evacuated on foot into the countryside at gunpoint. As many as 20,000 died along the way. Can’t let that stop a man with a purpose.
Millions of Cambodians accustomed to city life were now forced into slave labor in Pol Pot’s “killing fields” where they soon began dying from overwork, malnutrition and disease, on a diet of one tin of rice (180 grams) per person every two days, the better to become compost and improve the yields.
Workdays ran to the 18 hour day, Pol having taken the American South’s “right to work” euphemism to heart. The starving were forbidden to eat the fruits and rice they were harvesting, as that was confiscated by the Khmer rouge and loaded onto their own trucks.
And you can’t have a party without the purges… a veritable binge of purges. Up against the wall went the remnants of the “old society” – the educated, the wealthy, Buddhist monks, police, doctors, lawyers, teachers, glasses-wearers all, no doubt. Ex-soldiers were killed along with their wives and children. Eventually the taste for human blood leads to a paranoia of sorts, and why not? Anyone suspected of disloyalty to Pol Pot, including eventually many Khmer Rouge leaders, was shot or bludgeoned with an ax. “What is rotten must be removed,” a Khmer Rouge slogan proclaimed.
The casualty count rose until Vietnam launched a full-scale invasion of Cambodia seeking to end Khmer Rouge border attacks. On January 7, 1979, Phnom Penh fell and Pol Pot was deposed, and a Vietnamese puppet government put in.
Pol Pot disappeared into the jungles of Thailand with his Khmer Rouge remnant and waged guerrilla war against a succession of Cambodian governments for decades, eventually sputtering out and dying of an apparent heart attack before he could be dragged to trial before an international tribunal.
So it matters little who you pick as the Orkin Man, or how good your motives are, or how thorough your efforts at re-education or eradication may be. The role seems to carry some occupational hazards, as if the appetite for blood, human death and destruction carries with it the seeds of insanity.
Although the image of banksters and stockbrokers mucking out pigpens and pushing wheelbarrows through knee-deep mud remains compelling.
But point was that any kind of social engineering, social cleansing, ethnic cleansing executed by a political agenda will inevitably collapse, most often due to its own corruption and increasingly escalating paranoia on the part of the strongman or the secret oligarchy of “deciders.” There is a reason that we are taught from a very early age, “vengeance is mine saith the Lord, ” ”Thou shalt not kill,” and other Biblical admonishments against the taking of life. It could be that this ancient wisdom recalls that wielding the tools of vengeance is simply above the pay grade of us mere mortals. On the other hand, psychopaths recognize no such compunction. But the question remains: what do we do, what action should we take at a time when psychopaths have commandeered the engines of government and commerce, economic or rate with complete impunity and beyond the reach of such justice as still remains?
In response to such musings, RE posted the following:
Here of course is the EXCESS which occurs in many an Inqusition/Reign of Terror type scenario. There is going to be a lot of BLOWBACK resultant from many people who have lost their comfortable life and who want to see PPII DEAD because of that. He gets blamed for the problems they have; he gets blamed for their loss of economic status in the society. So PPII gets PARANOID, for good reason. People really ARE out to get him. So he starts Killing Them before they Kill Him. //
So all of them go down in History as the most vicious and Genocidal Dictators in all of Recorded History, at least in gross numbers if not in Percentages . . .
Moving into the FUTURE here, the issue is you cannot even Save As Many as you Can by PLAYING BALL with the Illuminati. Why? Because said Illuminati are Fresh OUT of Cheap Oil to sell you with Loans they hand out to you. So unfortunately here in this Morton’s Fork situation, the social dynamic is likely to produce numerous PPIIs and Great Uncle Joes. Because unless somebody does SOMETHING to try to keep the society organized up, the Dieing will be WORSE than it would be if you have some Dictator FORCING people to evacuate the Big Shities. They aren’t going to do that on their own until it is too late and they all are starving and Cannibalizing each other.
We are thus faced with an untenable situation: if any one of us were to put on the Pol Pot T shirt, we would find ouselves in a similar situation, fraught with awful decisions and tinged by paranoia, regions of the mind visited by Joseph Conrad. Far preferable to remember the biblical injunctions that direct our conduct, as Ashvin observed:
It’s not about what we you and I can justify to ourselves with our personal beliefs. It is what you can get OTHER PEOPLE to accept based on their beliefs. Anyone who truly believes in Judeo-Christian theology cannot accept OMMP any more than they can accept Infanticide, even when they are committed with “good intentions” for some Utilitarian goal. According to them, God is perfect and they are imperfect. God has commanded them to avoid certain Sins, and they must have faith in God’s wisdom no matter what. It is not up to them to decide what sins are acceptable via good intentions or utilitarian calculations.
Quote from: Matthew 7:14-27
14“For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.
15“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16“You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17“So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18“A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19“Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20“So then, you will know them by their fruits.
21“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22“Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23“And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’
24“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25“And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. 26“Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27“The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.”
I’m just using them as an example of people whose beliefs are fundamentally in opposition to OMMP. They will become your enemies… but them and who else? I think you can easily make the argument that most true Hindus and Buddhists will as well. Now we are easily talking about a lot of people. How many people who claim to believe in these Immortal Truths will have the nerve to follow through when your so-called Herd is stampeding against them? I don’t know, probably only a small fraction.
But my point here is that some of them will, and people like me will admire them for doing so. It’s an amazing thing, really, to have that kind of total devotion to some higher power even in the face of what appears to be the likely threat of species-wide extinction. Talk about a small gate and narrow way!
Yet as we abjure violence, the fact is that evil remains. RE remains adamant about proactively taking the fight to the Pigmen:
Regardless of the means here, whether it is Sepukku or Capital Punishment, the situation is going to create the BLOWBACK from people who once had power, now removed. They will attempt Counter Revolutions and so forth. So you get forced into a battle here no matter what, and people DIE no matter what.
Practical sort of fellow that I am, I work my way through this dynamic to try to find the pathway with the least pain and the greatest survivability for the typical Slave in our society. The means I see working best is to take the battle to the Illuminati before they get the Death Camps rolling in earnest here. You do have to wait for the Failure of the Conduits though, because as long as the Iluminati have the Big Ass Military and Gestapo organized up and functioning, you stand no chance here. Once those Conduits fracture though, the playing field is LEVELLED.
Then you don’t just get MAD, you get EVEN.
In other words, when you observe that the Illuminati are engineering a significant die-off of the “excess” workforce, to bring the earth’s carrying capacity in line with that proscribed by the Georgia Guidestones, what should the meek do? Stand obediently in line at the abattoir, or take the fight to the oppressors? As we all observe every day, there IS such a thing as evil. [There is an entire website (http://www.sott.net/) devoted to the subject of "ponerology" (the study of evil), for those who need a deeper dive into that sort of thing. I confess a somewhat light stomach for learning much more about the rarefied appetites of our elites, the Franklin affair and multiple pedophilia rings being enough to induce projectile vomiting . . .]
The question each of us has to address is, Which side are you on? If you knew that those in control were working to box you into a freight car headed to an unknown future, but which would likely involve Fresh Towels and Hot Showers, would you get on the train or would you take the fight to them? And would you take the fight to them knowing that they controlled all of the vectors and tools of violence with force overwhelming to individual scale? Indeed, our elites have changed the laws to enable the military to operate with impunity here in the “North American battleground” (yes, friends, if you are paying the least bit of attention, we are indeed the enemy), as they have likewise militarized our local police forces, complete with spiffy looking SWAT team suits, armored vehicles. and drones, as the latest invention. We have as our president the only Nobel Peace Prize winner with a personal kill list. So it may be well to say that we’re living in a time where the lessons of history no longer inform what we may be able to infer about the future. All bets are off.
Ultimately, I hold with RE when he says, “save as many as you can,” although we may differ about what that means. As an occupier, I believe that our presence in the streets and withholding our consent is everything that we can do. The community gardening movement is a step toward self-reliance, and teaching others to be self reliant. A self-reliant independent populace is anathema to the powers that be. But even the most psychopathic will find it difficult to dial-up a drone strike against a community garden, unless I miss my bet. Our resistance will be nonviolent, as the state has an utter and complete monopoly of the tools of violence, and a demonstrated increasing bloodthirstiness in applying them. I do not wish to make it easy for them, and have little desire to become a martyr, in a time when even bankster loan officers can murder with a pen and a computer.
Hunter S. Thompson once described himself as a “Road Man for the Lords of Karma.” Since nature, or God bats last, my own view is that through education, self-reliance, and nonviolent resistance we can change a culture. The history of this society guarantees a rain of vengeance and disproportionate response on the part of the minions of the elites, in a road that runs from the Cherokee “Trail of Tears,” though the gulag, through Logan Country through the paddies of Kampuchea to Zuccotti Park. And even if successful, the victors turn into monsters. Changing a society will take generations; generations which we may not have. Our opponents have been at this for many decades; we should not expect the quick fix.
In the coming days, each of us will need to stand up and be counted. At least I know which side I’m on.
One of the important factors to consider on a Population level here in the FSofA during the Great Depression was what occurred BEFORE it and how the land got settled in the post Civil War years through the Great War and then the Roaring 20s.
First off, the “Sooners” of Oklahoma got their land for free after the Natives had been pushed off the land. These were generally immigrants from Europe, poor Swedes and Germans who homesteaded that land and began to farm it. Under the technology of the day, that land wasn’t really suitable for farming, it was Grazing land. They did not have the massive pumps to bring up the water from the Ogalala Aquifer in place yet. It really only took a couple of generations to deplete the land and set it up for the Dust Bowl. So all these 2nd generation poor immigrants on the poorest land would have been the first ones displaced and formed one itinerant army of Poor People once the Dust Bowl and the Depression set in.
The other army of poor folks were the Refugees from Europe who came over directly after the Great War. My Paternal Grandparents were in that Wave. Grandpa was Russian, Grandma was a Romanian Gypsie. This group of people formed the labor force building the Great Cities of the FSofA during the Roaring 20s. My Grandfather the Acrobat found good paying work on the High Steel in NYC. A smart guy and heavy drinker, he used his money to set up a Speakeasy in Brooklyn during the Prohibition years. My Grandma ran the Still producing fine Vodka and Sour Mash Whisky in the basement of the Brooklyn Brownstone they lived in, which he eventually bought also, for all CASH. I vaguely remember him telling me he bought it for $500. Said Brownstone was worth $100K even when I was in college. Probably worth $1M in the Boom years. He also bought land in Westchester county, then all farms, again for all CASH. When RE building collapsed in the Great Depression and he no longer had work walking the High Steel, his Speakeasy carried the family through, and frankly he did pretty well. He was a funny guy and the local Brooklyn Politicians all frequented his bar. There were guys Running Numbers out of the Bar, he took a Piece of the Action. Grandad was a smart Bizman, though not a very legally correct one. My father’s older brother ran a large Junkyard during the Depression years, he also did OK. My dad was able to go to College at Pace University majoring in Accounting just as WWII ended because they all made it through. Pretty well off actually. This of course is why I am here today writing from the Last Great Frontier. LOL.
My mom’s side did not do so well. They were Polish Jews who evacuated Europe just as the Nazis were coming to power. Her father, my maternal grandfather I never knew died shortly after coming to the FSofA of Tuberculosis. My maternal Grandmother kept the family going running a Rag Shop on the Lower East Side of NY, on Delancey Street. They did go through periods of great Hunger, but made it through on the food at the Soup Kitchens and did not starve to DEATH, although my mom was one Skinny 17 year old when my dad met her at a Dance in one of the Settlement Houses. Her brother wasn’t just skinny, he ended up with neurological problems which likely came from malnutrition.
Sadly of course, many others in the immigrant labor force during the years from 1917-1929 weren’t quite so smart and fortunate in how they used their decent wages for those 12 years as my Grandad, they didn’t have a Speakeasy to fall back on when the construction jobs disappeared and the Longshoremen jobs disappeared as Trade came to a grinding halt. The later immigrants from my mom’s side pretty much missed the boom entirely and were impoverished from the time they arrived here.
Together, once the Depression hit in full force in the 1930s, this was the other massive population of poor people besides the rural poor of places like Oklahoma. Basically all at the same time, once the jobs disappeared and poor land was no longer producing, ALL of these folks took to the road in one way or another looking for a Better Place and an Opportunity. For a Decade of time, until we entered WWII in 1941, no such opportunities existed for them anywhere. You see that in the Signs from the period, “Jobless Men KEEP GOING! We Cannot support our OWN!”
Whatever Die Off did occur here in the years of the Great Depression came from this group of itinerants, and this is why they for the most part are not remembered. They were mostly newby immigrants who had no other family ties here, nobody to remember them, how they lived and how they died. People who had family ties here, who were parts of small communities that survived and looked after there own mostly DID make it through, although of course not without much hardship. The ones who did actually die of starvation or starvation related disease, however many of them there were, were the most recent immigrants in the poorest of the poor situations.
As we look into the future here, History is likely to Rhyme in this regard. The folks here in the most precarious situation are the most recent Immigrants, particularly the Illegal immigrants. They are the ones who are going to first be cut off from the SNAP cards and told to “Move ON, because we cannot take care of our own”. How many of them are there? Estimates are around 20M I think, and for the most part this bunch of people are GONERS. Just like the friends and relatives they left behind in their home countries to escape the desperate poverty there.
Quite a bit of LUCK involved in when you were born, when you emigrated and where you emigrated to, both prior to the Great Depression and now as well. My Paternal Grandfather emigrated at the RIGHT time, and hitched a ride on the Prosperity that was the Roaring 20s. Vietnamese who emigrated here in the 1970s similarly are likely to make it through, having established themselves and having family networks to fall back on. My mother’s family is more like the recent immigrants from places like Pakistan and Guatemala. They will not fare so well.
The biggest difference I see between then and now is the difference in potential for rebuilding once the initial Holocaust takes its toll worldwide. Similarly, I do expect a World War and Conscription to commence, but in this case it is very hard to see how the factories hiring “Rosie the Riveter” will be able to both bring jobs to the women not conscripted and the folks too old to fight but still young enough to work on a production line or as a Manager. This because at the time of WWII, the OIL was available locally to run those factories, not so today. Today, that Oil must be IMPORTED from the War Zone ITSELF. I cannot see how enough Oil can be moved from that War Zone to the FSofA to BOTH ramp up the war production machinery AND continue to run the civilian systems we have here that have come to depend on it over the intervening years.
Austerity in the form of Gas and Food rationing in the WWII years was pretty tough, but this time round it has to be much tougher than that to keep fuel moving to the War Machine. I don’t think the integrity of the society can hold together under that much austerity, and moreover I don’t see it possible that enough Oil can be moved from the war zone to even keep the war machinery itself going very long. This adds up to systemic collapse of the Oil conduit entirely.
Once that happens, pretty much all the International War for Oil will stop and at this point all the Wars will be loal ones for local resources amongst the people currently living on particular patches of land around the globe. No rebuild of industrialized society, just further destruction until enough are dead so there are enough local resources for the survivors. It would be at this point you could attempt a rebuild on 1850s era technology, utilizing mostly Coal and scavenging parts from the Age of Oil. Call that a 50 year timeline, then another 100 years perhaps rebuilding with that technology until it also gives up the ghost.1750s after that fo another couple of centuries, back to the Stone Age after that.
There is ZERO on the horizon I can see that will stop this inexorable progression. Nuclear Plants will not do it, neither will renewable Hydro or Solar. However, as long as some people survive, the great experiment that is Human Sentience will continue onward, and then perhaps after all of this we can build a Better Tomorrow. Only time will tell.
The Debate in the last Daily Rant on John Steinbeck’s “Starvation Under the Orange Trees just about completely bogged down on the question of how many people actually died of starvation here in the FSofA during the Great Depression. There was a lot more worthwhile stuff in that essay to discuss, but this is what got focused on. So be it. Thing is, it is pretty much an impossible question to answer unless you have Mr. Peabody’s WAYBAC Machine. Why? Because there are like ZERO statistics published by Da Goobermint on Starvation Deaths in the FSofA. Presumably because of course NOBODY ever starved to death in the FSofA. To try to figure it out, you have to look at Total Births, Total Deaths, Total Immigration and Total Emmigration and Total Population Increase or Decrease to see if you can do an accurate calculus. Even then, it would need something like a Certified Public Accountant or Astrophysicist or the equivalent to make a complete analysis of such a data set. Then of course you also have to trust all Da Goobermint Statistics on this data set. Not having the whole data set in front of us right now, let us leave the absolute question aside for a moment. Hopefully a CPA on this board will find these tables and do the calculus at some point to resolve this question at a future date. I have Full FAITH in the HONESTY of CPAs and Astrophysicists on TBP, as opposed to say CPAs who worked for Ernst & Young or Arthur Anderson. LOL.
Until such time as we get a Certified Public Accounting from a Trustworthy CPA on this Data Set, what we do know for sure is that there were plenty of Anorexic looking folks Dorothea Lange took photos of. I plastered a number of them across the Comments Section of the last Daily Rant. We also know there were Food Riots and Hunger Marches all over the country starting in around 1931-32. I plastered News stories from the era up in the thread also. We know these riots were so bad that in some cases numerous people were shot during them. We know there were some 20,000 Bonus Army Veterans and their families who were stampeded and burned out of their tents by Douglas MacArthur and his Cavalry. All this mayhem going on, but nobody is starving?
We also know observing what is going on right now around the world in impoverished countries that the people do not start Rioting and overthrowing their Goobermints UNTIL they are starving. So why were people here rioting if they weren’t starving? Makes no sense.
We also know that opportunistic infections and diseases like Tuberculosis and Pneumonia and Rickets were rampant during the Great Depression. Somehow these diseases became more virulent even though nobody was Starving? Not likely, the reason there were more epidemics of these things is likely because the population as a whole was weakened by malnourishment. So on the Death Certificate it doesn’t get recorded as Starvation, but as Pneumonia. In reality, they starved.
Man, if it looks like a Dead Fish; if it smells like a Dead Fish, it IS a Dead Fish. People definitely did starve during the Great Depression, but no records were ever published on how many it actually was. At a certain point the MSM just ignored it. It would not have played very well against FDRs Fireside Chats preaching Hope and “the only thing we have to Fear is Fear itself”. Sound familiar? Goobermint Hopium.
We do know for a “fact” how many people starved or otherwise had very shortened lifespans over in Europe somehow though, variously quoted as around 13M to 16M when all the Jews, Gypsies and Ruskies who bought the farm are tallied up. How is it we have statistics on that but not statistics on ANY starvation related Death here? Answer to that is that he who wins the War writes the History Books.
I must have spent at least 2 hours yesterday Googling to find ANY kind of stories/statistics/pictures that could give a better picture of what went on to force people into Food Riots here during the Great Depression, and very little specific is easy to find. All you get are general statements like “people were facing starvation” in most articles. You get Zillions of pictures of emaciated looking people, but almost NO Biafra style walking Skeletons. In fact I only turned up one of those, but no information on where it was taken or what the circumstances were. So you can either buy the idea that Starvation simply did not occur here, or alternatively that Da Goobermint and the MSM simply kept a lid on any information about this. Knowing what we know about how our Goobermint behaves now with respect to “bad newz” and putting a positive spin on even less emotionally charged stuff like our collapsing economy, would they really have allowed this kind of newz to be spread around? When they are busy trying to save their asses?
These are all the questions you have to ask yourself when considering what really occurred during the Great Depression. What you WANT to Believe is the main driver here, and most people WANT to believe that Plucky Amerikans muddled through a bit hungry, but nobody really starved here. All the circumstantial evidence says that in fact some portion of the population did in fact Starve, because they would not have been rioting in such numbers if they were not starving, nor would they have looked quite so Anorexic in Dorothea Langes’ Photographs.
Also clear though is that Da Federal Goobermint responded to this problem with increased Food Relief programs, the beginning of the Food Stamp program etc. Since the FSofA was in fact capable of producing plenty of food at the time, one would figure that the starvation problem was probably brought under control by these programs, which kept the country from going totally Commie, just Socialist with FDRs social safety net. It is doubtful therefore that the high end estimate Boris Badanoff pitches out of 7.5M Dead People from starvation in the FSofA is accurate, but nor is it accurate to say that Zero people died from Starvation. The truth lies somewhere in between, but we will never know where in between for sure, and bogging down in this question is a waste of time until we can fire up Mr. Peabody’s WAYBAC Machine, or at least get a hold of more Goobermint statistics then just aggregate population and analyze them in detail.
I did turn up a video of Boris explaining how he arrived at his numbers, which was by just using published data from our own Goobermint. It sounds like it is something anybody can do if they can get a hold of all these tables, so I am going to try to do that. According to Boris, when you do the math, you come up with around 7.5M missing people. According to Boris, 5M children and 2.5M adults. Like the rest of you, I find that hard to believe, but the only way to know for sure is to look at the same tables Boris was looking at. I also would suggest anyone else here interested in this question tries to get a hold of all these tables and then publish them here, or at least links to them if you can locate them. Then all of us can run the numbers and discuss them intelligently, rather than flinging napalm at each other.
Although from a historical perspective figuring out precisely how many people died here from Starvation or Starvation related opportunistic disease is important if it can be done, the more IMPORTANT questions are the moral and philosophical ones we face as we work our way deeper into a similar collapse here, along with their practical implications. What we should learn from this is that WITHOUT the SNAP card system (or something similar) all the folks here who currently depend on this for Food would in fact Riot. They are doing it in Egypt and Tunisia, why would they not do it here? That is some 1/7th of the Population, around 43M people last time I checked dependent on SNAP cards. Even if half of them are children or old folks who would not pose much of a threat in a riot, that still leaves around 20M pretty dangerous starving people out there to do mayhem. Also a number which has been steadily increasing in size.
Given the experience of the original Great Depression when the Food Stamp program was initiated to resolve this problem, one can expect TPTB in Da Federal Goobermint know this, so about the last thing that will happen here is that the SNAP card system is removed. Social Security may go, Medicaire may go, but the SNAP Card program will stay in place right up until the Day the Music Stops. It will in fact likely expand quite a bit here in the near future. As long as Da Goobermint keeps it running AND keeps the JIT food distribution system running to the Big Shities, will not see Egypt or Libya style Mayhem in the streets.
TPTB can probably keep it running for quite some time, because first off they print the money (or conjure up the digibits to drop on the SNAP Cards), and second off because most of the Production is centrally controlled by Conagra and Monsanto and Krafft. As long a the Military Machine can keep Oil flowing into this apparatus along with the Distribution system through the big chains like Walmart, Safeway etc, the food will continue to be produced and distributed at least in the FSofA with what is produced here on Home Soil..
The problem of course is in the Oil producing nations which neither produce enough of their own food NOR do they have Helicopter Ben’s ability to keep shoveling digibits onto SNAP Cards. The Saudis have enough Oil revenue for a while to sprinkle out $36B to their workforce with 15% raises, but it is not at all clear that all their UE people will be getting much more money or Food Relief. So eventually here the segment of their population not getting extra money to buy increasingly expensive food will Riot. Losing Libyan Oil is a problem, but losing Saudi Oil is a much BIGGER problem.
So, to avoid this problem, it is absolutely NECESSARY at this point that NATO goes in with Miltary force to try to bring Libya under control. If they cannot bring Libya under control, Saudi Arabia is sure to follow. I do not think that NATO CAN get Libya back under control in any reasonable timeframe, but that doesn’t mean they will not try to do it.
So, the FSofA is currently building up ts Military Assets in the waters surrounding Tripoli, and it is only a matter of time here when the Marines return to those shores to try to secure the Oil Fields. How will NATO forces be Greeted by the various factions all now slugging it out over there in Libya? Will they be viewed as Liberators? Not likely considering how the Iraquis view our presence there.
Its going to be interesting to see precisely HOW Obama-sama delivers the message that we are going to ramp up an Invasion of Libya. How will CONgress react to this after the Clusterfucks of Iraq and Afghanistan? Will it be Rubber Stamped because it “HAS” to be done to “save” the Libyans and “restore Democracy”? Or will there finally be a backlash and Ron Paul wins the day with a “NO, this did not work in Iraq, and its not gonna work in Libya either!” I will go with the Rubber Stamp on this one.
Late breaking Newz I read before heading back to the Cabin had it that some 400 Marines were going in to make a Beachhead in Libya. Not literally of course, obviously only 400 Grunts won’t do jack squat in that situation overall. The most logical objective here would be to try and capture/kill el-Kabong. The problem is, this doesn’t fix the anarchy, it makes it worse. There is nobody there to step in and take control once the “Evil Leader” has been vanquished. What NATO has to do is gain control over all the Oil production facilites before they get permanently sabotaged, and it will take a LOT more than 400 Marines to do that job.
Besides this direct problem is the diffuse one. Every last country in that region is in turmoil, including Iran. Though we all are supposed to HATE the Iranian Goobermint, if that one falls you have another failed state that currently ships out a lot of Oil. For how long can the entire world demand for Oil continue to be supplied with country after country in the OPEC sphere suffering massive political upheaval? My general response to that would have to be not too long at all.
This is nasty from the Food Distribution POV as well across the area. Besides Prices the people cannot afford, it is almost impossible to distribute out food through a War Zone. As this anarchy and breakdown of systems increases in size and scope, less and less food will get into the area, causing still MORE riots. At least until the people are too weak to keep rioting anyhow. The Middle East is on the BRINK of an almost unimaginable Holocaust now. We will likely never see the pictures of it or get reliable statistics on it, but the numbers are likely to dwarf the Holocaust in Europe by an order of magnitude here. It is an unstoppable Juggernaut at this point. The monetary system is failing the resources are depleted and GROUND ZERO is the M.E., where Civilization of the Ag variety began so long ago. Ironic is it not?
I cannot say precisely how many will Starve in Egypt or Libya or Tunisia or Iraq or Iran or Saudi Arabia as this spin down proceeds, but I can say that the numbers will be far larger than will ever be reported by the MSM. How will this end up impacting YOUR neighborhood? This also I cannot predict for sure, but I CAN say for sure where the impact will be the WORST. It will be in the Big Shities so dependent on the thermodynamic energy of Oil for their systems to operate. The Big Shities are TOAST. GTFO NOW! You STILL have time, but it is RUNNING OUT. Do not wait too long here if you want to LIVE.
See You on the Other Side.
Over in the 53 Million thread discussing the Abortion question, I brought up the alternative to abortion for the poor, which is Starvation. However, given the copious amount of food currently available in the FSofA along with Social Welfare programs like SNAP cards and Free School Lunches for children, starvation is not YET really a problem here in the FSofA. Will it be a problem in the future though? Was it a problem during the original Great Depression? How will society deal with these issues in the future if it is a problem? These are complicated questions not amenable to simplistic exchanges of photos of Fat Kids and Anorexics in Amerika. Although they can be entertaining, these kind of juvenile debating methods do not do much to elucidate the real problems and solutions. So I will treat the questions in greater depth here in this Daily Rant. Not for the squeamish, because I am very Darwinian in my analysis in what is likely to come to pass here. I don’t view this as so much a moral question as it is a question of numbers and real human behaviors as were practiced for most of the history of Homo Sapiens on Earth. The morality with respect to Abortion we developed that is being argued here was mainly a result of the development of Agriculture and then Industrialization after that. As the fossil fuel energy we accessed to make these paradigms possible becomes too low in EROEI to access, I believe we will REVERSE ENGINEER our way back to the systems which worked for some 60,000 years after the Toba Bottleneck until the development of Agriculture, and I will explain here in this post why I believe this to be true. It is a long argument, so settle down with a nice Bloody Mary on this Sunday Brunch Rant to read it, if you so choose.
It’s never going to be possible to determine exactly how many people died from starvation in the FSofA during the Great Depression, in large part because “Starvation” isn’t generally the proximal cause of death in the malnourished. Opportunistic diseases take out the malnourished person usually before the biological systems shut down simply from lack of energy in the chronically malnourished.
We know for a fact that many people fell off the economic cliff during the Great Depression. We know there were “Hobos” who were reviled and who led a hand to mouth existence through those years. They slept in Boxcars and in Parks. Many of them would have died from exposure in the Winter months. Up here in Anchorage every year we turn up a number of Dead Indigents in the parks and in the tent city in Anchorage when the Spring Thaw comes, a few more each year since I moved up here. One has to suspect there were many more such deaths during the Great Depression nationwide. Freezing to Death is listed as the cause, not starvation.
What of poor families where the mother got pregnant, putting another mouth to feed at the table? How many of those children were undernourished and succumbed to the many childhood diseases running rampant at the time? Measles, smallpox, etc. We know that the mortality rate from Childhood disease was quite high during the Depression years. How many mothers on the road from Oklahoma to California on Route 66 chose to take a newborn infant and drown it in a lake and bury it by the side of the road? This happens even TODAY in the inner cities, in fact it happened in the 1980s also and Neil Young sang about it.
I see a woman in the night With a baby in her hand Under an old street light Near a garbage can Now she puts the kid away, and she’s gone to get a hit She hates her life, and what she’s done to it There’s one more kid that will never go to school Never get to fall in love, never get to be cool.
What was the suicide rate during the Great Depression? How many people chose to take their own lives rather than suffer a slow death from starvation? How many people became violent criminals, stealing until they got shot in a robbery attempt? We know about Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow of course, but there were many other small timers who did not get so much press as Bonnie and Clyde. You can’t find out “reliable” statistics on this sort of thing no matter how long you Google. Frankly, any stats that come out of Da Goobermint that you do turn up are NEVER reliable, so using statistics to try and elucidate what happened is a waste of time..
Now, the Great Depression officially lasted from the crash of the Stock Market in 1929 until our entry into WWII in 1941, with the worst years being 1932-1934. However, out in rural Amerika, land values crashed well before that in the 1920s. So let us say there was a solid 15 years of real deprivation there. To work up to 7M dead with malnourishment as part of the cause would only take around 500K each year, spread out Nationwide in an average population at the time of around 100M. This means only about 1 in 200 people dieing this way in a given year through the time period, which would be pretty easy to miss. I do not agree with Boris Badanoff’s estimation that there was a huge and sudden die off in 1932-1934, that seems unlikely. However, a distributed Die Off between 1925 and 1941 totalling to 7M, similar in size to the Holocaust in Europe seems quite possible to me, particularly when you look at the population stats Boris Badanoff was looking at. It’s just logical to conclude with so much economic dislocation and such a thin social safety net as existed at the time that quite a few folks fell so far off the cliff they starved, or died as a result of malnutrition over more than a decade of time. Frankly, I doubt the 6M Jews and 6M Gypsies and various other poor folks quoted as official numbers who died over in Europe mostly went to the Gas Chambers in Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen, rather I suspect most of them died of starvation and opportunistic diseases in places like the Warsaw Ghetto, and it happened over a pretty protracted period of time there as well.
Remember, Da Goobermint writes the Textbooks and controls the Statistics any researcher can use to try to piece together what occurred in the FSofA during the Great Depression. Whether the historian is a Russian like Boris or an American, trying to figure this out when it is in the interest of Da Goobermint to paint the happiest picture possible is very difficult. We all are witness to how Da Goobermint is currently manipulating statistics on UE; they would be even MORE likely to manipulate really unpleasant data about the Death rate in the society. So the picture is painted that Plucky, Self-Reliant Amerikans came through the Depression a little deprived, but nobody starved. In fact Herbert Hoover said that, while at the same time 20 dead folks were plucked out of Central Park in NYC. 20 isn’t a big number, but again its just the Tip of the Iceberg of people with no family support and so forth. When a family has someone die, they don’t list the cause of death as Starvation, nor does it get reported in the newspaper in the Obituaries as such. You just don’t know how many people were dieing then from malnourishment, not in exact reported numbers anyhow.
Dmitri Orlov has written about the Die Off over in Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Although the country is depopulating and this is reported in population statistics, its almost unnoticeable on a daily basis. A few more older relatives go, a few more funerals. Are they starving to death? Not in the sense we think of mass and rapid starvation like in Africa where we get whole populations rapidly cut off from food supplies for one reason or another and images of large numbers of people who are walking skeletons, but a slower form of starvation coming from chronic malnutrition. This of course hits the weakest of the population first, generally the very old and the very young.
Here in the FSofA moving into the future, we most likely would see a mirror of what has happened in the old Soviet Union rather than an African style starvation scenario playing out rapidly, but even that is not out of the question. If/when we suffer a transportation breakdown into the Big Shities where they generally only have a few days of food supply n hand, there could be a rapid starvation scenario. Same thing even in rural areas because most people are not farmers in those areas and most do not have a year’s worth of preps to tide them over during a transportation breakdown where the local Supermarket doesn’t get supplied. They may be able to raid the Grain Elevators in the Midwest, but then again the National Guard may be surrounding them and directing the food elsewhere.
Beyond all this is the aspect of Globalization, and who will be faced with starvation first and hardest, and that obviously it’s not the FSofA, its places like Egypt & Libya. That is where the REALLY poor people of the world are right now, and clearly for every one of them that ends up dieing off here it leaves that much more food for the remaining populations around the globe. So, barring a transportation collapse of Food resulting from a collapse of the Oil distribution system, I do not see a mass starvation scenario happening here in the FSofA in the near future, it comes first in the impoverished countries. I don’t see the SNAP Card system here being removed, and essentially Free Food for Amerikans who are UE will continue on right up until the Dollar goes the way of the Dinosaur. I still Prep for the Fast Food Crash though (pun intended), just in case we DO get quickly cut off from food shipments from the lower 48 up here.
Long term of course, my Food Preps don’t keep me well nourished more than a couple of years, and that is only if I kept them all for myself, which I would not do. I’ll be sharing them with friends not so well prepped. Once as a community we strictly have to get by on what we can harvest from the environment around here, its quite possible that chronic malnutrition will be a problem. In this case I don’t go out as a rapidly starving Skeleton, but rather probably get hit by opportunistic diseases hitting on older and weaker individuals. Do you list my death as Death by Starvation? No, it is listed as Death from Pneumonia, but really the cause of that death was slow starvation leaving me succeptible to infection by Pneumococcus.
Even after the collapse of the Dollar and the SNAP Card system administered by JP Morgan (which they book a nice profit on, and more all the time as more people need their SNAP Cards), Da Goobermint in Fascist cooperation with corporations like Monsanto and Conagra still will have the ability to produce copious quantities of food as long as the Oil is available. I can certainly envision a Fascist society here where each person gets a Food Ration Card from Da Goobermint to go to Walmart and get your ration of Goobermint Cheese. So, barring a catastrophic failure in transportation, mass and rapid starvation for people in the FSofA seems unlikely in the near future.
In this sense, the Abortion-Starvation Choice is less about the current FSofA then it is about impoverished countries like Egypt. There, right NOW it really is a direct choice, you can see it in the pictures of the Skeleton-Children. Is it really a better choice to let these children be born just to starve, rather than abort them? When I write about this choice, I am not really talking about the current situation in the FSofA, I am talking about really IMPOVERISHED societies right now, but also as a society I think this is coming down the pipe in the future for the FSofA as well. Right NOW in the FSofA, no problem, we can feed EVERYBODY, at least so long as we will hand out SNAP cards so they can get Free Food, and provide Free Breakfast and Lunch in the schools to impoverished children.
Simply Feeding these children is not enough though, because what good is it to feed the population of the 30 Blocks of Squalor when there is no economic opportunity for them, and they simply will perpetuate the endless dependency cycle as a result of being provided with free food? Here is where you walk into the deep moral abyss of trying to Limit the Reproduction of Poor People. The Margaret Sanger Eugenics style Abortion Clinics theory. Please remember folks, Margaret Sanger was promoting this means of resolving the problem of poor people back in the 1920s. See the connection? You generally cannot expect people will self-limit their reproduction, particularly not horny teenagers with nothing better to do with their time than fuck. You can issue free condoms until you run out of Oil to make the condoms with, they won’t always use them. Teenage girls will still get pregnant with no means of supporting the child growing in their bellies. You will not be able to place ALL of these children with Adoptive Parents, particularly not when they are Brain Damaged as a result of drug addiction the mother has. This leaves you only with the Choices of Forced Abortions or Forced Sterilizations of the Poor. This is just a small step away from Forced EXTERMINATIONS of the Poor, which of course is the FINAL SOLUTION Adolf Hitler undertook. Certainly Jews took a Big Hit in Hitler’s Final Solution, but so did Gypsies. Hitler’s Final Solution wasn’t really about anti-Semitism, it was about eliminating Poor People. In Germany at the time, there were many poor Jews, who got there as a result of Pogroms in Russia preceeding that time. Just like there are now many poor Muslims in Europe now who were driven out of their homelands by economic reasons to become Guest Workers in the rich countries of Europe.
Thing here is, you don’t target people specifically for being Poor, because you probably have a poor relative. You target them based on racial and ethnic characteristics instead. So the Racial/Ethnic Tribe in POWER targets the disenfranchised Tribe. Poor Jews went to the Gas Chambers in Europe, but Rich Jews mostly did not. A few did of course, stripped of their wealth by the Authorities at the BIS much like el-Kabong is being stripped of his, but the REALLY rich ones did not go to the Gas Chambers. No Rothschild went to the Gas Chamber, because of course the Rothschilds are the “Authorities”.
As we spin down here this go round, the vast population of Poor People in the world now are Muslims through Africa and the M.E, along with of course the poor Chindian Hindus and Buddhists Put together the populations of Impoverished in China, India and the M.E countries, and you probably are looking at half the current population extant on the Planet right now. These are the folks Targeted for Extermination, but there are so MANY of them that it would take too much Xyclon-B to Gas them all, and rounding them all up in Boxcars would be too difficult. So instead of that, these folks are going to be EXTERMINATED by Starvation and Malnutrition over the next decade, at least within the borders of the countries from Africa to India that they live in. Their populations have grown WAY past their ability to grow their own food, and once they are economically CUT OFF from being able to import food, they will mostly starve to death. They will fight with each OTHER, Sunni’s vs Shiites, Haves and Have Nots in their various Nation-States, all mostly artificially constructed at the end of WWI after the fall of the Ottoman Empire. This kind of economically driven starvation in poor countries can happen VERY quickly, as we have seen in places like Biafra and Somalia over the last 30 years. Their internal Goobermints break down, food importation comes to a halt and inside a year you have an entire country of walking skeletons. Walking only until they finally drop dead of course. Unlike Movie Zombies, they don’t last forever, they just seem to for the Living because they keep being replaced by still more Zombies as they fall off the economic cliff.
What will happen to the ex-pat Muslim Guest Workers in Europe is a more difficult question to answer. It is unclear that the remaining White European population in those countries has sufficient POWER to try and undertake the kind of Final Solution Hitler undertook. It is not clear that they can control the riots sure to come here once the Euro collapses. Europe is a big crapshoot in this regard.
Here in the FSofA, the Muslim Population is still relatively small compared to the overall population of Christians, which means they probably can easily be controlled and targeted. They can be Rounded up and placed in FEMA Concentration Camps before being shipped to the Human Waste Reprocessing Facility in San Antonio, much as Japanese Americans were rounded up here into Concentration Camps in WWII. Not so easy in this country is the vast population of the long term underclass, mostly Black and Hispanic that live in places like the 30 Blocks of Squalor. Like the Guest Worker population over in Europe, the numbers here are soooo big in these groups that any kind of Industrial extermination in Hitler-style Gas Chambers is nearly beyond comprehension as to how it might be accomplished.
The original debate JimQ set up was with regards to the Morality of Abortion. In a society of great PLENTY, abortion is quite immoral of course. How can you possibly justify taking the potential life of an Innocent when there is quite clearly enough food around to feed EVERYBODY, really to the point of OBESITY here in the FSofA? The thing you must remember here is that this extraordinary plenty is an artifact of the Age of Oil, which is rapidly coming to a close here. Its close is certainly hitting the peripheral economies of places like Egypt and Libya first and hardest here, but eventually the same problems will roll around to our own society. The ETHICS you must define are with respect to exactly how you view and implement such things as Abortion, Euthanasia, Exposure, Sterilization and in fact WAR as well as a means by which you control population size.
Every last “30 Blocks of Squalor” post has as its subtext that these folks are WORTHLESS people, LEECHFUCKS on society. It is a form of Propaganda demonizing the impoverished. It’s the area I have the greatest disagreement with JimQ, because I think he writes pure propaganda there that panders to his primary readership of Conservatard Aging White Bizmen suffering from the combined effects Senile Dementia and Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy from eating too many Big Macs over the course of their lives. LOL. Regardless of the Propaganda though, Haves in the society no longer want to nor can they really afford anymore a social welfare state which provides these people a living. At the same time, to forcibly require them to ABORT their children or to STERILIZE them is an ethical swamp that puts people who have POWER in charge of life and death of people with no POWER. This is nothing short of Playing God of course. You cannot resolve this dilemma ethically, and so it always ends up in WAR or GENOCIDE, both of which themselves are ethically irresolvable.
Small Tribal populations never really had this problem on this kind of scale, although they also most certainly faced similar questions when for one reason or another their resources ran thin. For the most part though, they controlled their reproduction by a variety of means around the time of Puberty, with Rites of Passage tests. Unhealthy children at birth were left exposed, they were left to die quickly. The healthy children were succored by the tribe until they reached Puberty. At this time Males for the most part had to demonstrate their ability to be a successful tribe member, if they could not they often did not even survive the test, the slightly better alternative was they would not be permitted to reproduce, aka they do not get a Wife. Women did not usually have such tests because childbearing itself was the test. The mortality rate in childbearing was of course quite high back in the day.
I expect this sort of Reproduction control in the population to reassert itself in the future. As long as it is exercised fairly, it’s a little more morally justifiable than Mandatory Abortion, Sterilization or War, the consequences of which always get visited on the less powerful in the society, namely the Poor in a society run on a Monetary system, which all Ag based societies have been. Money, the love of which is the “Root of all Evil” according to the Bible comes as a result of distributing out Ag production. In parable form, the Bite which Eve took out of the Apple was the bite into Ag production of food. In Biblical terms, Evil per se did not exist before Agriculture and Money, and the life of the original H-Gs was essentially the “Garden of Eden” which existed from roughly 70,000 years ago when Toba bottlenecked the population of Homo Sapiens down to around 10,000 Human Souls or 1000 Breeding Pairs up until around 5000 years ago with the development of Agriculture.
In Rites of Passage tests among H-Gs, they are visited equally on all male members of the society, children of Chiefs as well as Hunters. You can’t buy a deferment out or get a cushy job behind a desk to avoid the challenge. You aren’t generally pitted against other males, but rather against yourself and your strength, endurance and intelligence to survive the challenges put before you. If you cannot do that by the time you hit puberty and can reproduce, you are not acceptable to the tribe to reproduce, and so you do not get a wife. Can you imagine how MOTIVATED generally rambunctious 13 year old boys would be to LEARN and LISTEN while being instructed in the means to SURVIVE if they knew the CONSEQUENCE of not learning and not listening would be they would DIE, or at best be allowed to live getting no nookie? Methinks you would have some pretty attentive Teenage Boys in the classroom in that scenario. LOL.
The development of Agricultural society mostly removed these sort of tests, Religious Rituals like Confirmation and Bar Mitzvahs became simply that, RITUALS. No real consequence for not doing too good at these festivals. Everybody Passes their Confirmation or Bar Mitzvah, it is No Child Left Behind. Namby Pamby stuff compared to the Rites of Passage in Hunter Gatherer societies . If you don’t have your shit more or less together by the time you can Reproduce, your reproduction will NOT help the Tribe so it is Taboo and Forbidden. This is FAIR, it gives all healthy children the opportunity to succeed as long as they LISTEN AND OBEY.
What of the children born with Disabilities? Not to sugar coat this, these kids are TOAST from the get go. Minor disabilitites maybe a successful tribe can cope with, maybe there is a role in the society for a child with a bad arm or something like that. SEVERE retardation, Blind Deaf and Dumb though? Sorry you get an early ticket to the Great Beyond when Mom holds you under the bathwater just a little too long there. Maybe I get napalmed for this here with this picture of the future, maybe not. From my POV, I am just being fucking REALISTIC about how people dealt with these issues in the past, and how they are likely to REVERSE ENGINEER their way back to similar solutions in the future. The society that is to come here will not have means to support Blind, Deaf and Dumb Drooling Vegetables. Similarly, the society cannot support rebellious teens who will fuck other children into the world without a means to support those children. Best case scenario for losers like this is they get to live out their natural lives mating with sheep. Generally speaking this produces no progeny so is not a problem for the society overall. Whether the ewes like it or not is another question entirely. LOL.
Is this kind of Rites of Passage testing Morally supportable? Not in a society where there is Plenty for everybody, where you have enough resources to support every blind, deaf and dumb drooling vegetable born into the society. Once your society has limited resources though, it is about the most fair way of limiting reproduction in the society. The only other ways are through forced Sterilization or War, which both also were undertaken in some H-G societies. New Guinea tribes practiced castration of male infants to keep their populations down and many Plains Tribes were quite the warmongers with their neighbors, Apaches were quite a nasty bunch overall and so were the Payute. Given Door #1 of Rites of Passage, Door #2 of Castration or Door #3 of Warmongering, I’ll take Door #1, Monty. This gives me as the Teenage Boy the Power and Responsibility over my own Life to Succeed or Fail in a fair manner. If I study hard and listen to my teachers and I build my strength and endurance, I will make it through. Elsewise, I take an early Ticket to the Great Beyond or I live out my life with great affection for the Sheep I herd. LOL.
The bottom line here is that the population must and will reduce in size, the only real questions revolve around how that reduction is undertaken and then how the lower population will be maintained at a steady state. Eventually the society will self-select against the corrupt, which come at both ends of the spectrum. Both the poorest of the poor and the most outrageously rich will die in the greatest numbers by percentage of their populations, and this is unlikely to be a very fair process. Many Poor folks will be unwillingly conscripted up as Cannon Fodder, many rich Folks will be unwillingly Guillotined. The Meek in the Middle who remain will have to find ways to control their population size in a world of limited resources. It will be a difficult and lengthy process, likely lasting for the next Century. Eventually when this time comes to a close and we have finished our Journey down the Trail of Tears, if we do not exterminate ourselves, we will reach a Better Tomorrow. Until we do though, it will be a major Clusterfuck.
Starvation Under the Orange Trees
By John Steinbeck
“Starvation Under the Orange Trees” was originally published in the Monterey Trader, April 15, 1938. In that year the Simon J. Lubin Society published it in pamphlet form as the eight chapter of Their Blood is Strong.
The Spring is rich and green in California this year. In the fields the wild grass is ten inches high, and in the orchards and vineyards the grass is deep and nearly ready to be plowed under to enrich the soil. Already the flowers are starting to bloom. Very shortly one of the oil companies will be broadcasting the locations of the wild-flower masses. It is a beautiful spring.
There has been no war in California, no plague, no bombing of open towns and roads, no shelling of cities. It is a beautiful year. And thousands of families are starving in California. In the county seats the coroners are filling in “malnutrition” in the spaces left for “causes of death.” For some reason, a coroner shrinks from writing “starvation” when a thin child is dead in a tent.
For it’s in the tents you see along the roads and in the shacks built from dump heap material that the hunger is, and it isn’t malnutrition. It is starvation. Malnutrition means you go without certain food essentials and take a long time to die, but starvation means no food at all. The green grass spreading right into the tent doorways and the orange trees are loaded. In the cotton fields, a few wisps of the old crop cling to the black stems. But the people who picked the cotton, and cut the peaches and apricots, who crawled all day in the rows of lettuce and beans are hungry. The men who harvested the crops of California, the women and girls who stood all day and half the night in the canneries, are starving.
It was so two years ago in Nipomo, it is so now, it will continue to be so until the rich produce of California can be grown and harvested on some other basis than that of stupidity and greed.
What is to be done about it? The Federal Government is trying to feed and give direct relief, but it is difficult to do quickly for there are forms to fill out, questions to ask, for fear someone who isn’t actually starving may get something. The state relief organizations are trying to send those who haven’t been in the state for a year back to the states they came from. The Associated Farmers, which presumes to speak for the farms of California and which is made up of such earth stained toilers as chain banks, public utilities, railroad companies and those huge corporations called land companies, this financial organization in the face of the crisis is conducting Americanism meetings and bawling about reds and foreign agitators. It has been invariably true in the past that when such a close knit financial group as the Associated Farmers becomes excited about our ancient liberties and foreign agitators, some one is about to lose something.
A wage cut has invariably followed such a campaign of pure Americanism. And of course any resentment of such a wage cut is set down as the work of foreign agitators. Anyway that is the Associated Farmers contribution to the hunger of the men and women who harvest their crops.
The small farmers, who do not belong to the Associated Farmers and cannot make the use of the slop chest, are helpless to do anything about it. The little store keepers at cross roads and in small towns have carried the accounts of the working people until they are near to bankruptcy.
And there are one thousand families in Tulare County, and two thousand families in Kings, fifteen hundred families in Kern, and so on. The families average three persons, by the way. With the exception of a little pea picking, there isn’t going to be any work for nearly three months.
There is sickness in the tents, pneumonia and measles, tuberculosis. Measles in a tent, with no way to protect the eyes, means a child with weakened eyes for life. And there are varied diseases attributable to hunger, rickets and the beginning of pellagra.
The nurses in the county, and there aren’t one-tenth enough of them, are working their heads off, doing a magnificent job and they can only begin to do the work. The corps includes nurses assigned by the federal and state public health services, school nurses and county health nurses, and a few nurses furnished by the Council of Women for Home Missions, a national church organization. I’ve seen them, red-eyed, weary from far too many hours, and seeming to make no impression in the illness about them.
It may be of interest to reiterate the reasons why these people are in the state and the reason they must go hungry. They are here because we need them. Before the white American migrants were here, it was the custom in California to import great numbers of Mexicans, Filipinos, Japanese, to keep them segregated, to herd them about like animals, and, if there were any complaints, to deport or to imprison the leaders. This system of labor was a dream of heaven to such employers as those who now fear foreign agitators so much.
But then the dust and the tractors began displacing the sharecroppers of Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas and Arkansas. Families who had lived for many years on the little “cropper lands” were dispossessed because the land was in the hands of the banks and finance companies, and because these owners found that one man with a tractor could do the work of ten sharecropper families.
Faced with the question of starving or moving, these dispossessed families came west. To a certain extent they were actuated by advertisements and hand bills distributed by labor contractors from California. It is to the advantage of the corporate farmer to have too much labor, for then wages can be cut. Then people who are hungry will fight each other for a job rather than the employer for a living wage.
It is possible to make money for food and gasoline for at least nine months of the year if you are quick on the get away, if your wife and children work in the fields. But then the dead three months strikes, and what can you do then? The migrant cannot save anything. It takes everything he can make to feed his family and buy gasoline to go to the next job. If you don’t believe this, go out in the cotton fields next year. Work all day and see if you have made thirty-five cents. A good picker makes more, of course, but you can’t.
The method of concentrating labor for one of the great crops is this. Handbills are distributed, advertisements are printed. You’ve seen them. Cotton pickers wanted in Bakersfield or Fresno or Imperial Valley. Then all the available migrants rush to the scene. They arrive with no money and little food. The reserve has been spent getting there.
If wages happen to drop a little, they must take them any way. The moment the crop is picked, the locals begin to try to get rid of the people who have harvested their crops. They want to run them out, move them on.
The county hospitals are closed to them. They are not eligible to relief. You must be eligible to eat. That particular locality is through with them until another crop comes in.
It will be remembered that two years ago some so-called agitators were tarred and feathered. The population of migrants left the locality just as the hops were ripe. Then the howling of the locals was terrible to hear. They even tried to get the army and the CCC ordered to pick their crops.
About the fifteenth of January the dead time sets in. There is no work. First the gasoline gives out. And without gasoline a man cannot go to a job even if he could get one. Then the food goes. And then in the rains, with insufficient food, the children develop colds because the ground in the tents is wet.
I talked to a man last week who lost two children in ten days with pneumonia. His face was hard and fierce and he didn’t talk much.
I talked to a girl with a baby and offered her a cigaret. She took two puffs and vomited in the street. She was ashamed. She shouldn’t have tried to smoke, she said, for she hadn’t eaten for two days.
I heard a man whimpering that the baby was sucking but nothing came out of the breast. I heard a man explain very shyly that his little girl couldn’t go to school because she was too weak to walk to school and besides the school lunches of the other children made her unhappy.
I heard a man tell in a monotone how he couldn’t get a doctor while his oldest boy died of pneumonia but that a doctor came right away after it was dead. It is easy to get a doctor to look at a corpse, not so easy to get one for a live person. It is easy to get a body buried. A truck comes right out and takes it away. The state is much more interested in how you die than in how you live. The man who was telling about it had just found that out. He didn’t want to believe it.
Next year the hunger will come again and the year after that and so on until we come out of this coma and realize that our agriculture for all its great produce is a failure.
If you buy a farm horse and only feed him when you work him, the horse will die. No one complains of the necessity of feeding the horse when he is not working. But we complain about feeding the men and women who work our lands. Is it possible that this state is so stupid, so vicious and so greedy that it cannot feed and clothe the men and women who help to make it the richest area in the world? Must the hunger become anger and the anger fury before anything will be done? Monterey Trader, April 15, 1938
I am going to begin this essay with a little bit of personal history, so new readers to the DD will know a bit more about who writes many of the articles on this Blog, and where I am coming from in my perspective. You may find me insufferable, egotistical and bombastic, and many more less than attractive qualities a person can have. Hopefully, this will help explain why I write the way I do, and why I see the world as I do. It might not make you like me any better, but at least you have an explanation to work with The paragraphs which follow result from constantly being attacked for my writings.
I first read Steinbeck’s “Starvation Under the Orange Trees” essay long ago, even before my college years at Columbia University, in my Journalism class at Stuyvesant High School, a highly selective Public Magnet School in NY Shity. That class was under the tutelage of Frank McCourt (of “Angela’s Ashes” fame), but I knew the article was out there for anyone to Google up. To make Stuyvesant, you had to out-perform the kids who went to the Bronx High School of Science or Brooklyn Technical School, the other two magnet schools for science and math prodigies. The other schools in this system at the time were the High School for the Performing Arts (the FAME school), and the HS for Art & Design. On a Science and Math level, Stuyvesant was the Top of the Top of Public Schools ANYWHERE in the FSofA from the 1920s right up until today actually. To get in you had to best every Jewish and Chinese and Indian immigrant child on the entry test, which was the sole means of being selected for the school. NOTHING else mattered but how you did on that test, the Rite of Passage into Stuyvesant. Make the grade, you got the best education available on the Public Dime, better in fact than the education available at Prep Schools like Andover and Choate. ALL Smart Kids there, not dimwitted Illuminati Spawn like George Bush who only got into good Prep Schools because of Daddy’s Dollars. (you’ll also find I have a low opinion of Prep School brats).
It was damn tough to get into Stuyvesant, money could not get you there, only your intelligence did, and that was one motherfucking HARD test, let me tell you. Had to be, to separate the relatively smart from the outrageously smart of course. The upshot of all this is I found out I was smart early on there, so you should listen to me. LOL. A virtually ENDLESS parade of psychologists told me so and tested the living SHIT out of me for 3 years of my childhood from age 9 to 12 to prove it. So, regardless of how BRAGGING about it comes off in my writings, I do it anyhow. You simply have no IDEA how many hours I spent with the psychs testing my intellect over those years, I was a fucking lab rat for them. You wonder WHY I get pissed off when I get confronted with positively STUPID arguments? You wonder why I am such a Jerk? THIS is the reason for it. You spend 6 hours a day with shrinks testing you for 3 years and see how you turn out! LOL This is No Brag, Just FACT, as Will Sonnet used to say.
It IS who I AM. Later in my life I designed Tests for The Princeton Review, I know how this is done and I do it to this day in my classroom. It’s not hard at all to evaluate relative intelligence within a given body of knowledge at expected grade levels in a society. Of course, what experience you have coming into such tests plays a very big part in how you do on them, regardless of your native intelligence. Almost impossible to design a test that is independent of prior cultural learning, which is why generally IQ tests are not very valid. As mentioned in some other articles of mine, I took plenty of them also, so I know wherefrom I speak here on this subject. It is subject for another rant however, I will not belabor the point further here in this rant.
Frank McCourt was one of the greatest Teachers I ever had, and in “Angela’s Ashes” he evoked the true existence of the Irish Poor. I am soooo glad Frank wrote that novel before he died, he told all these stories to us many times in that classroom. I have read a LOT of stuff in 54 years walking the earth since those days in the ancient and decaying Public School of Stuyvesant,situated between 15th and 16th Street east of Union Square in NY Shity I attended from 1972-1974 listening to Frank’s stories, and I forget very little of it. Do NOT underestimate my ability to dredge it all up from the jumbled attic of my mind as needs be here. If you know nothing of Stuyvesant HS, I suggest you Google it up. More Westinghouse winners then even Phillips Exeter or Andover or Choate. My good friend Eric Lander (our last names came sequentially in alphabetical order so he was always right in front of me in many classes. Outrageous GENIUS that dude was and is) in fact went on to win the Westinghouse, and then to head up the Whitehead Institute at MIT where much of the Human Genome project was elucidated. Even more than Columbia, this is where I got the kind of education I can use now as I argue my perspective on the History of the World as we know it . Now what is in the Card Catalogue of my mind is available to access through Google. All to the good there, it is a powerful weapon to have at your disposal in any debate.
With all that in mind, let us now delve into the history of the Great Depression just a bit more, to see what we can ferret out from what has been written, and what has not or has been surpressed in our education system.
Folks, even if you did not go past reading Steinbeck’s fictionalized account of the Joad family in The Grapes of Wrath, you simply had to know from reading it that the plight of the migrant Okies was indeed quite severe through the period of the Great Depression. Many Bloggers have used The Grapes of Wrath as a jumping off point, but at the same time deny the implications of that novel. If you read “Starvation Under the Orange Trees” though, dismissing the idea that many people here in the FSofA really DID starve to death during the Great Depression is very difficult. Still, this is a hard thing for most people to accept given what we all were told in school and what sources we actually have available to read.
You can see also in “Starvation Under the Orange Trees” how this dovetails with my prior Rants on the subject of Unionization. The great FEAR of the Landowners and Corporate Ag was that the Okies would Organize, as Steinbeck wrote. (read Surly’s recent post in the Diner on the ongoing rollback of labor’s gains in the post depression years). There were endless waves of impoverished migrants coming into California from the Midwest, replaceable labor each year whether they starved or not in the Winter months. Steinbeck writes that this scene repeated itself each year, and wonders at the end of the article when “must the hunger become anger and the anger fury”? It did become FURY in the pockets where this occurred, but for the most part the news of it was suppressed by the corporate owned MSM of the day, and little besides John Steinbeck’s accounts survive the censorship to this day. Steinbeck of course was vilified as a Communist Sympathizer in the post-WWII years, which actually turns out to be a good thing from the historical record POV because it is WHY his works survive to be Googled up. Thank God also that Steinbeck’s letters to his friends also have for the most part survived.
How MANY actually died this way? Really I have no concrete ability to say, but I am sure it was a significant number. The Great Depression was an economic dislocation of the First Order, and considering the environmental catastrophe of the Dust Bowl at the same time, there is no reason to suspect we did all that much better over here than they did over in Europe during this time period. Boris “Badanoff ” Borisov the Ruskie Historian thinks the numbers were similar here as in the Ukrainian Holodomor, perhaps he is right and perhaps wrong, but its just not that important on a moral and ethical level what the absolute numbers really were. We will never really know the answer to that question. Really though, almost any number of people dieing this way is quite unacceptable if there really is plenty to go round, and there most certainly was even in the worst years of the Great Depression. It just had real distribution problems because the monetary system had failed.
After WWII, the Migrant Workers of Okies were replaced by impoverished Mexicans crossing the border. Again for the most part their plight was ignored, but they DID eventually succeed in Organizing under Cesar Chavez. This for a while along with the burgeoning economic Bubble that was California from the 60s through to the 90s made the lives of these people somewhat more livable, although of course there was still significant exploitation of illegal immigrants through the time period by Corporate Ag.
As we proceed into the future of our current Economic Collapse, the same sort of shit is likely to recur here. There will once again be waves of economic refugees descending on what few locations have any sort of work at all, and without Unions and Organization, such labor is easy to exploit, and it will be so exploited. You can rail all you like over the corruption systemic in Unions, but the fact of the matter is it is the only way the individual laborer can protect himself from being exploited. In the time of Plenty this might not seem so necessary, but in a time of Deprivation, it is essential Protection. Individuals MUST Tribe Up for protection, just like a herd of Wildebeasts must do so to protect from the Predatory Lions surrounding the Herd. In this case, the Predatory Lions are the Capitalist or Feudalist Landowners who will use the legal machinery of the State to define their Ownership rights, and the power of the State Military and Police forces to enforce those rights. Without Unions, the individual Sheeple are easy pick’ins.
Now, on the question of the Root of All Evil and my contention Biblical Evil did not exist prior to the advent of Agriculture, the point was made that most certainly there was plenty of Violence and Warfare prior to Agriculture. I do not dispute that point at all. This however conflates the concept of Evil with Violence and Warfare, and they are not precisely the same thing. Both Violence and Warfare can have either Good or Evil motivations attached even in the context of Ag society, but of course that context was different in H-G society.
In Ag societies, all the distribution of the food produced by the society is accomplished through the monetary system. Because of that, it is possible and even quite likely that in times of Plenty the Poor will Starve while the Rich Eat Cake. Also quite possible is that impoverished poor people will be conscripted up to fight wars of aggression against other similarly constructed societies. This is EVIL, because in fact none of it is necessary, it is an artifact of the monetary distribution of wealth in BOTH the competing societies.
In H-G societies which undertake Warfare, it is in fact generally NECESSARY to do so. The absolute SURVIVAL of the Tribe is hanging in the balance. Its not about how resources are distributed within the tribe, but how resources are accessed between tribes. As I see it, it is NOT Evil to undertake warfare and violence when your own survival is at stake and the resources are not there to support everyone. This is just Darwinian survival in practice amongst Homo Sapiens. It only becomes Evil when in fact there ARE enough resources for everyone, just some folks Hoard up resources at the expense of others. Call this claiming portions of the Earth as Private Property.
I do not believe in the concept of Private Property with respect to the resources of the Earth. These are all God’s Gift to ALL of mankind, and mankind as a herding animal can collectively establish grazing grounds, but the minute INDIVIDUALS in the society exert Property Rights over the grazing grounds is the minute you run into the problem of Evil. We can exist only as a COMMUNITY of people, not as Individuals. It is a fallacy to seek Freedom outside of the Community as an individual. It generally cannot be accomplished, really only if you are a Jeremiah Johnson Mountain Man can this be accomplished, and even THEN your life gets impacted on by others of your ilk. True Freedom died the day the Polynesian Navigators came upon the Big Island of Hawaii, the LAST place on Earth that no other Homo Sapiens lived upon that had great resources upon which to build a society. After that, it has all been a fight over these resources between all Homo Sapiens, with the Ag and Industrial cultures winning the day.
Now of course, this time is quite DONE. We will shrink back, we will REVERSE ENGINEER first back to the time before the thermodynamic energy of Fossil fuels was accessed in the 1750s with the Steam Engine, and eventually to Stone Age technology. So be it, this does not mean the end of intellect, of the exploration of the universe in any sense but the physical. Humanity can have a very RICH life of the intellect and philosophy, we do not need Computers to pursue this. It is all in the MIND, God’s real GIFT to Humanity, that of SENTIENCE. You need nothing more than this besides basic food and shelter, Of course, to our current population of industrialized slaves across the Globe, that is a pretty tough sell. So be it.