Saturday, 19 May 2018

James Howard Kunstler on the "coming economy of less" in America

Gate of Gates?
18 May, 2018


When historians of the future finish their meal of rat à la moutarde at the campfire, and pass around the battered plastic jug of wild raisin wine, they will kick back and hear the griot sing of John Brennan, the fabled chief of an ancient order called the CIA, and how he started the monkey business aimed at bringing down the wicked Golden Golem of Greatness, chief of chiefs in the land once known as America. Alas, the hero’s journey of Brennan, ends in a jail cell at the storied Allenwood Federal Penitentiary, where he slowly pined away between games of ping-pong and knock-hockey, dreaming of a cable network retirement package that never was….

One gets the feeling more and more that Mr. Brennan is at the center of this ever-mushrooming matrix of scandals around the 2016 election. “Bigger Than Watergate?” the headline in today’s New York Times asks? The mendacity of this once-proud newspaper is really something to behold. Take the following paragraph, for instance:

Depending on what is eventually proven, the core scandal could rival Watergate, in which a “third-rate burglary” of Democratic National Committee headquarters ultimately revealed a wide-ranging campaign of political sabotage and spying to influence the 1972 presidential election and undercut perceived rivals. In the current case, a hostile foreign power sought to sway the 2016 election and there is evidence that at least some people in Mr. Trump’s circle were willing to collaborate with it to do so.”

You have to really wonder how the Times editors overlooked the other relevant details in the current case pertaining to goings-on initiated by Mr. Brennan and involving obviously criminal misbehavior among the US Intelligence services, and especially the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in their effort to un-do the election that put the Trump creature in the White House instead of the enchantress known as Hillary. I did like the trope “a hostile foreign power.” Apparently they were too embarrassed to just say “Russia,” since by now it has become the most threadbare hobgoblin in all of US political history.

Rumors are flying that the long-awaited (so long it is nearly forgotten) Department of Justice Inspector General’s report contains a rather severe interpretation of what actually has been going on for the last couple of years in this farrago of charge and countercharge that the legacy news media has been doing its best to garble and deflect — namely, that the highest officers of the government conspired to tamper with the 2016 election. The latest twist is news — actually reported by the Times Thursday — that the FBI placed a “mole” inside the Trump campaign. If the mole discovered anything, then it is the only morsel of information that hasn’t been leaked in two years, which leads the casual observer to infer that the mole found really nothing.

On the other hand, a great deal is already known about the misdeeds surrounding Hillary and her supporters, including Mr. Obama and his inner circle, and some of those incriminating particulars have been officially certified — for example, the firing of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe on recommendations of the Agency’s own ethics committee, with overtones of criminal culpability. There is also little ambiguity left about the origin of the infamous Steele Dossier. It’s an established fact that it was bought-and-paid-for by the Democratic National Committee, which is to say the Hillary campaign, and that many of the dramatis personae involved lied about it under oath. Many other suspicious loose ends remain to be tied. Those not driven insane by Trumpophobia are probably unsatisfied with the story of what Attorney General Loretta Lynch was doing, exactly, with former President Bill Clinton during that Phoenix airport tête-à-tête a few days before FBI Director Jim Comey exonerated Mr. Clinton’s wife in the email server “matter.”

One can see where this tangled tale is tending: to the sacred chamber known as the grand jury. Probably several grand juries. That will lead to years of entertaining courtroom antics at the same time that the USA’s financial condition fatefully unravels. That event might finally produce the effect that all the exertions of the so-called Deep State have failed to achieve so far: the discrediting of Donald Trump. Alas, the literal discrediting of the USA and its hallowed institutions — including the US dollar — may be a much more momentous thing than the fall of Trump.

Personally, I won’t be completely satisfied until the editors of The New York Times have to answer to charges of sedition in a court of law.



America's Approaching Crack-Up - Great Invu with James Howard Kunstler (Audio)
" ... what is really going on, what's sort of behind the insanity of this, is the very strange and mysterious collapse of the intellectual class in America. ... you’ve got a class of people in the media and academia, highly educated people, the permanent bureaucracy in the government who now believe in crazy things and are proposing dangerous things and seem to have just completely lost it."

15 May, 2018

The author is a prominent American social critic, blogger, and podcaster, and one of our all-time favorite pessimists. We carry his articles regularly on RI. His writing on Russia-gate has been highly entertaining.


He is one of the better-known thinkers The New Yorker has dubbed 'The Dystopians' in an excellent 2009 profile, along with the brilliant Dmitry Orlov, another regular contributor to RI (archive). These theorists believe that modern society is headed for a jarring and painful crack-up.

You can find his popular fiction and novels on this subject, here. To get a sense of how entertaining he is, watch this 2004 TED talk about the cruel misery of American urban design - it is one of the most-viewed on TED. Here is a recent audio interview with him which gives a good overview of his work.
If you like his work, please consider supporting him on Patreon.

Author and commentator James Howard Kunstler returns as our podcast guest this week for an update on where we are in The Long Emergency timeline.
In this wide-raging discussion ranging from the pervasiveness of propaganda in today's media to the risk of nuclear war, Kunstler also re-news his warnings of a current secular economic slowdown.


After too many years of market interventions, magical thinking, racketeering, and bleeding the 99% dry, he warns that our culture and economic system will soon reach a snapping point:
The important story is what happens in the financial sector and how it effects the economy in the next twelve to eighteen months. As we know, the financial system is the most abstract and fragile of all the systems that we depend on because the other systems can't run without it. The trucks won't make the food deliveries to the supermarkets unless the finance system works. The gasoline won't get to the pumps at the stations.
Nothing's going to move if the financial system cracks up. People no longer trust each other to transact, to get paid. And so they stop transacting.
We're talking about a falling standard of living and getting used to an economy of "less". It sounds kind of Ebenezer Scrooge-ish to suggest that people may have to do with less rather than more, because more has always been the expectation in our lifetime. But that's probably a fact. And as I've said more than once, reality has mandates of its own. Circumstances are going to inform us about how this economy is emerging and where we need to go with it. And we can either pay attention or just sit there with our fingers in our ears. 
What we're talking about here is the armature of our culture and economy that people hang their lives on. And that armature is crumbling. There are fewer things that people can hang a life on in a meaningful way, or a way that even ensures that they can have a little bit of security looking into even a short-term future.
For example, I had a day yesterday that felt like national Murphy's Law Day. I got a screw in a tire. The screw was in a place where, under New York State law, they're not allowed to fix the tire if the screw is near the outside of tread. So I had to buy a brand-new tire. And then I was going to take the trash to the dump in my old pickup truck, which I keep around for that purpose. But the battery was dead. So I had to go down to the auto parts store and buy a new battery, and bring it home and put it in.
Now, I'm among the lucky people in this land who can actually buy a new tire and buy a car battery. But probably some enormous percentage of the population, like 78% or 84% -- I'm not quite sure what it is -- they don’t have enough money to buy a new car battery if their car dies on some god forsaken freeway shoulder 38 miles from home. Imagine how crazy-making that is. I can easily, because I was a truly starving bohemia until well into my 40s, struggling just to pay the light bill while writing book after book. So I know what it's like to live day after day in that kind of financial anxiety.
I imagine that the financial anxiety out there right now is just so extreme that there's a whole mass of people who are being pushed to the limits of their sanity.

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