2008 Update, Part 2

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Exclusive to STR

Last week we looked at trends for the economy and for government action, and found the situation less than optimal, in much the same way that an outbreak of Ebola in your neighborhood would be less than optimal.  

This week we consider the situation for commodities (and in particular oil and metals), food supplies, and the environment.  

3) Oil, metals, and other natural resources  

The dramatic trend for higher commodity prices which began several years ago is not an artificially inflated bubble about to pop, but instead a very real expression of powerful, fundamental change in the world (which I'll describe shortly). Downticks are inevitable in any bull market, but the commodity uptrend itself isn't going away anytime soon. Unlike in a bubble (e.g., the recent bubble in housing) buyers are snapping up the available supply for current use as it comes to market, not buying and holding actual inventory for expected future gain.  

To see how broad and strong this uptrend has been already, click here for a page with charts for many commodities over various periods of time; the example below is for heating oil over the last ten years. Most other natural resource-based commodities, including gasoline and metals, show a similar pattern.

(HO, NYMEX)  http://futures.tradingcharts.com/chart/HO/M

As for my prediction that dollar prices for commodities will continue rising for years to come: there are several reasons for such a view, and together, these reasons make Neils Bohr's famous comment "Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future" look like sissy-boy waffling. Bohr was a pretty bright guy, but there are clearly some times when prediction isn't difficult at all. I, personally, have a 100% accuracy rate in predicting certain types of events. For instance, when I drop a raw egg on my kitchen floor, I predict (as I helplessly watch the egg accelerate at 32' per second per second toward the hardwood) that the eggshell will break and gooey raw egg will splurt out on the floor. I have never been wrong about this, and there are dozens of other things I have been 100% right about, too. So you can take what I have to say here as gospel, at least when I'm talking about eggs.    

Returning to the topic at hand (and to a tone more appropriate to the situation):  

The first and (for now) most important reason that commodity prices will continue rising: We live in a dying, world-wide empire of fiat currency. This empire is owned by private banks with monopoly charters that are granted by, and operated in league with, coercive governments. The empire itself is sociopathic to the core; it is gimlet-eyed, cunning, and controls most of the major outlets for news and entertainment; it also controls respected universities and influential think tanks and the most powerful organizations among the power elite.  

For a century and more, this empire has controlled the money supply of nations and has financed wars and other destructive government make-work projects, growing fat on the profits while millions suffered and died. The empire is highly skilled at promoting such disasters, which are said to be "compassionate" or "necessary" (often to Save Us From an Enemy or some other danger). Regarding war in particular, highly-decorated General Smedley Butler (two Congressional Medals of Honor) put it plainly in the title of his 1935 book: War Is A Racket. Banks and their friends in other industries (including government, the one industry that imposes itself on customers at gunpoint) make the profits; soldiers, their families and friends, and ordinary civilians everywhere pay the price, both financially and in terms of death, maiming, and other horror.  

Despite its power, the fiat-currency empire is based on a self-serving lie, and thus the truth has been undermining the empire's foundations since inception. That truth is now poised to bring the whole, rotting, corrupt edifice down in a collapse of epic proportions that will devastate entire societies and echo through time, eventually becoming myth and legend.  

The character of the future that emerges from this event will depend on how we respond to the disaster now in progress. In particular, our responses will determine whether our children and their descendents live in a civil society of love and freedom, or in a technologically-enabled police state powerful enough to resist any attempt at overthrow or reform.  

Love and freedom, then – or cruelty and tyranny. Make no mistake: that is the choice we face, and not only for ourselves but for many, many millions yet unborn.  

- - - - -  

The lie at the heart of the fiat currency empire is that a central bank can and should be the sole provider of a nation's money supply, and that said supply should consist of worthless pieces of paper (and now, electronic entries in computers) that can be almost-instantly created in any quantity by the central bank at essentially zero cost. These currency units are tied to, and redeemable in, nothing whatsoever.  

In other words, the fiat currency empire is based entirely on what might be called counterfeiting, and on coercively enforcing monopoly privileges for the counterfeiters. Not only do the central banks have a monopoly on the "right" to counterfeit, but competitors offering honest money (gold or silver, which cannot be inflated into nothingness) are attacked as criminals (video, 1 min 10 sec; mostly scrolling text describing the victim's point of view; see also this Washington Post story on the event).  

Actually, central banks are doing something worse than counterfeiting. A true counterfeiter creates a phony copy of something real (for instance, when a twenty-dollar bill was redeemable by law for roughly an ounce of gold, the counterfeiter who created a fake $20 bill was essentially making a phony copy of one ounce of gold), but the Federal Reserve and other central banks have, in collusion with the governments that charter them, eliminated the "real thing" entirely: even "real" dollars now have no intrinsic value at all. This is a scam of far grander dimensions than the mere counterfeiting of genuine currency.  

This corrupt and parasitic system has infected nearly every nation around the world (the U.S. succumbed in 1913, with creation of the Federal Reserve), and now, after decades of hidden wealth transfer from the masses to central banks, governments, and the power elite (including corporations feeding at the government trough), the resulting economic damage is nearing a tipping point (see last week's column). Artificially-created boom/bust episodes are coming more frequently and (because the fundamentals grow ever-weaker) are becoming more severe. Central banks thwart the necessary corrections with the only tool they have: more inflation. Creation of ever-more fiat money (much of it in the form of debt) is the only thing keeping the game going, and the result is an entire planet headed toward economic collapse; see Zimbabwe for a preview. Money supply growth, worldwide, is heading into the vertical part of the parabolic curve. The egg, as it were, is about to hit the floor:

 

From "Global Inflation: The next major obstacle" http://www.321gold.com/editorials/aden/aden070308.html

Another look at the data, using the Consumer Price Index for U.S. prices:

From http://mwhodges.home.att.net/inflation.htm

As rivers of new dollars (and pesos and yuan and pounds and euros and other currency units) join the ocean of pseudo-money already drowning every nation, an ever-increasing number of those currency units will be required to pay for real goods that cannot be counterfeited (and which have not already been bid-up into speculative bubbles, such as housing). This is Reason Number One that you will be paying more for nearly every consumable item in the future, from gasoline to milk: the amount of fiat money in the system keeps increasing.  

The system and its apologists are desperate to keep this obvious truth hidden from the public, or at least to keep the public confused about it. For example, last week, U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said that "a weaker dollar cannot be blamed for soaring oil prices." This is on par with saying that "heavy rain cannot be blamed for flooding in the Midwest ."  

Proof – and this is where that pesky "reality" thing really gets in the way of a good lie – is that gasoline prices have hardly changed in terms of real money. A gallon of gasoline today costs about $4.10 in American fiat money, but can still be had for less than a quarter-ounce of silver (silver is $18.12 per ounce as I write; check the Kitco graphic at the top of 321gold.com for the current price). A silver quarter from 1964 or earlier contains nearly a quarter-ounce of silver, and, despite fluctuations in the price of the two commodities, will usually buy roughly a gallon of gas. This situation has changed little in decades. In Texas during the late 1960s (yes, even a few years after the removal of silver from new coinage), a gallon of gasoline sold for between 20.9 cents and 24.9 cents – I know because I was there, filling the tank of my rattle-trap 1960 Ford Falcon for about $2.00 total. For a short video pointing out that 23 cents would buy a gallon of gas in 1947, click here. The video ignores that a silver quarter is only 90% silver and also pooh-poohs the increasing supply/demand mismatch (i.e., peak oil versus higher global demand, which is starting to impact prices), but it nonetheless makes an easily-understood case for the basic reality that erosion of dollar value is by far the biggest reason for higher gas prices today.  

At some point, after the system has largely collapsed and much of the pseudo-money has vanished (in bankruptcies, stock market crashes and other asset deflation, and in a hundred other ways) you will STILL be paying more for consumables and for most other goods – if not as measured in currency units, then as measured in hours worked or as a percentage of your monthly income. (Here's an argument for deflation coming sooner rather than later, for those interested). Why? Reason Number Two for higher prices is supply versus demand, that most basic of economic realities. Supply of most commodities is either diminishing or growing more slowly than demand, and the cost of bringing that supply to market is increasing dramatically; the high-quality and easy-to-harvest deposits of oil and metals and coal, for example, have for the most part already been harvested. Yet world population continues growing and billions of people who now live in abject poverty are clawing their way into the middle class, or at least in that direction. The result is ever-more people wanting (and buying) air-conditioners and automobiles and every other material good you can name, bidding up prices on the diminishing supply of commodities required to make and transport those material goods.  

In short, Peak Oil and Peak Metal will increasingly drive oil and metal prices higher, independent of and in addition to monetary inflation.  

As an example, here is a look at the United Kingdom 's oil production, including the huge North Sea oil fields (which, like most large oil fields around the world, have already peaked):

http://www.energyfiles.com/eurfsu/uk.html

EnergyFiles.com provides such charts for pretty much every oil-producing nation on Earth, and nearly all look similar to the chart above. Don't take my word for it: start clicking that mouse and see for yourself. Many observers report that world oil output has already peaked; for example, the German-based Energy Watch Group says the world peak occurred in 2006. Furthermore, the oil that IS being harvested today is increasingly difficult to obtain and is expensive (in terms of energy as well as money) to refine, making the situation far worse than the raw numbers suggest.  

Once again, this same basic problem is being experienced in the mining industry. Current data suggest that the supply of several metals (including indium, needed in LCD panels) will be exhausted in only a few decades – for indium, perhaps in 13 years. Naturally, this has an effect in the market: "In January 2003 [indium] sold for around $60 per kilogram, by August 2006, the price had shot up to over $1,000 per kilogram" says Brian Durrant in Commodity Predictions: The Future Is Uncertain. Durrant includes a chart with "Years to exhaustion" for over a dozen metals.  

If all that sounds like a recipe for lower prices to you, then congratulations! You may have what it takes to become U.S. Secretary of the Treasury.  

You might think things couldn't get any worse for energy and other commodity prices, but in fact several other, short-term problems (including a possible attack on Iran and predictions for above-average hurricane activity this year in the oil-producing Gulf of Mexico region; see also here) could spike the price of oil and natural gas dramatically, all on their own, which would naturally raise the market price of metals and anything else that must be transported to market. Some believe an attack on Iran could double or triple oil prices; imagine $450/barrel! For the mining industry, problems include political instability, electricity shortages, and the threat of nationalization.  

A note on conservation and other voluntary reductions of usage: yes, higher prices – even for crude oil and gasoline – tend to reduce demand, as consumers change their habits in response. It may happen that the economic downturn now in progress will reduce demand enough to lower prices temporarily. But take a good look at the down-slope of the graph above before telling yourself that voluntarily lower usage will lead to an ongoing match with available supply anytime soon. Once again, other nations, and almost certainly the world as a whole, have or will have very similar down-slopes for crude oil supply. Unlike the OPEC oil embargo of the 1970s, the escalating oil shock of today and tomorrow will increasingly be based on actual, systemic, unfixable (at least in the near term) shortages – as well as on Reasons Number One and Three.  

Speaking of Reason Number Three: commodity prices will also reliably increase in the years ahead because government is keen to help solve the problem. That is another way of saying that the free market will not be allowed to solve the problem, or at least will be severely hamstrung in its efforts. See the ethanol debacle now unfolding, or our efforts in the War on Drugs, or the disaster of government "help" in healthcare, or the destructive effect of our aid to Africa, or the U.S. government response to the 9/11 attacks, or, well, almost any other example of government help: government is indeed The Worst Way to Do Anything. Government solutions not only fail reliably; they get in the way of genuine solutions.  

It is worth noting that one "government solution" is for a government to either nationalize a resource or to increase the government's percentage of the profits. This is happening around the world – and is being suggested by some in the United States , including a few in Congress.  

In sum, none of these three reasons for expecting higher commodity prices has moderated since the first of the year; all three continue to worsen – more inflation in America and around the world, more evidence that we are near (or even slightly past) the Peak Oil point and the Peak extraction point for several metals as well, and more government intrusion.  

4) Food  

Take everything we just talked about above, and add "extensive drought and flooding." That's the food picture: a long-term uptrend for prices (due to monetary inflation, looming oil and other energy shortages, population growth, farmland erosion, water shortages, and the government-enforced "let's use a bunch of our corn for fuel instead of food!" idea, among other things) combined with near-term additional pressure on price and supply from poor harvests this year – actually, from poor harvests and higher demand the last several years, which have already reduced food stocks to their lowest levels in decades.  

The mega-famines of the 1970s and 1980s predicted by Paul Ehrlich and others were averted by the Green Revolution, which improved farming productivity around the world via the application of technology. The question today is: Will technology, or anything else, prevent mega-famine in the future as world population soars to a projected 9 billion in the next 34 years? That would be today's 6.7 billion plus 2.3 billion more – the current population of China and India combined. (As recently as 1950, world population was about 2.5 billion total). These are staggering numbers, and the growing freshwater shortage alone makes it difficult for me to believe that world food output will grow dramatically enough to feed them all. Add the other problems already apparent in the food supply chain, and I expect Ehrlich's predictions will be off by a few decades but otherwise all-too-accurate. Yes, I understand that technology might save us again; no, I don't think it will do so.  

In any case, we don't have to wait decades for a budding food crisis: one is already here. In The World Food Crisis (The Nation, May 12, 2008), John Nichols points out that this crisis (as with so many others) has its roots in government "help" and in corporatism:  

"The current global food system, which was designed by US-based agribusiness conglomerates like Cargill, Monsanto and ADM and forced into place by the US government and its allies at the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization, has planted the seeds of disaster by pressuring farmers here and abroad to produce cash crops for export and alternative fuels rather than grow healthy food for local consumption and regional stability."  

The word "crisis" keeps popping up in stories on the global food situation, and for millions of people in poor nations, food shortages and higher prices are indeed becoming a life-and-death problem. Even in wealthy nations, the poor and increasingly the middle class are feeling the pinch as well, and there is little to suggest things will improve in the near- or even medium-term. Worse yet, a major financial collapse, as many believe imminent (see last week's column), has the potential to disrupt food distribution in a rapid and dramatic fashion and to reduce farmers' ability to grow the next season's crops as well. I believe such a collapse is inevitable at some point and quite possible in 2008, although timing and velocity of such events can never be predicted with certainty.  

In addition to drought and flood and other factors, remember, the dollar itself is worth less every year, putting price pressure on real goods. I can't think of a more vivid example of how badly the Federal Reserve has wrecked the American dollar than the fact that before the Fed was created, bread was typically five cents a loaf. (See U.S. Supreme Court, SCHMIDINGER v. CITY OF CHICAGO, 226 U.S. 578, 1913).   

Bought a loaf of bread for a nickel lately? Probably not, and the price of bread in the U.S. is now rising dramatically, up 16.3% in the last year, per the Department of Labor. The linked article details the price increases bakers face for nearly everything: labor, flour, eggs, fuel for delivery vans, you name it. Flooding and drought may end this year or not, but monetary inflation by the Federal Reserve rolls on.  

Bottom line: the food situation looks even worse than it did at the start of the year.  

5) Environment  

The oceans remain my biggest concern with the environment; they are becoming more acidic, are heavily polluted with chemicals and trash (some areas have more than six times as much plastic as plankton by weight [video, 7 min 9 sec] – and that was in 2001), and have been over-fished to an extent that "Peak Fish" is now, already, joining Peak Oil and other peak phenomena as a human problem. This is yet another reason for concern about the food situation: seafood is heading towards extinction. There seems far too little awareness of this looming disaster.  

None of this is new, and I haven't seen any dramatic new environmental problem that wasn't already on the radar screen six months ago. My sense is that the trend continues in the wrong direction, but contradictory stories are commonplace, and unlike with food or oil prices which we all experience first-hand, evaluating the truth behind environmental news reports and commentary is difficult.  

One possible bright spot is that an economic downturn combined with less fossil fuel being available might, just possibly, ease some of the pressure we are putting on our home planet. It also might do the opposite, as desperate people respond in desperate ways that end up creating even more damage.  

So perhaps I own Bohr an apology; sometimes, "prediction is very difficult, especially about the future."  

Conclusion  

You could be forgiven for thinking I am a pessimist, because this two-part column is a litany of dire problems. But if the problems are real – and they are – then writing honestly about them is realism, not pessimism.  

People are accustomed to believing things that comfort them, but the benefit of seeing things as they are is that acknowledging a problem is the first step in solving it. Right now, the tendency is to see the converging downtrends discussed in this column as temporary, as part of the "normal" business cycle, as something that will soon reverse and return us to the more stable and prosperous world we knew.  

But that is not the case – not this time, or so I believe. Certainly, a tipping point will be reached at some point that will prevent a quick or easy return to prosperous "normality." Too many fundamentals are being eroded at the same time, and this erosion has continued for many decades. I believe the tipping point is now behind us, but if not, it is coming soon. I am hardly alone in this view; see Destruction by Paradigm from March 2007 for a long collection of data and comments by others on the gathering financial storm.  

Don't let occasional short reversals of the downtrend confuse you. The downtrend now underway will outlast and eventually overshadow the Great Depression of the 1930s. Why? Because compared to the situation in late 1929, today's situation is dramatically worse. Today, we have:  

Vastly more debt, at every level (federal, state, local, business, personal):

A nearly dismantled manufacturing sector; much of our wealth-producing machinery is idled and rusting; in 1929 it was the envy of the world  

An auto industry on the verge of bankruptcy and with ever-smaller market share; in 1929 our auto industry was the world leader  

Other industries also near bankruptcy (banking, homebuilding, airlines, etc).  

An ever-worsening trade deficit; Americans buy more and more goods from the rest of the world while creating less and less to sell. (Yes, this makes the nation poorer). In 1929, and actually until the 1970s, America had a positive trade balance. Now, our cumulative trade deficit is the largest in history:

Dimishing real wages as well as fewer job opportunities for blue-collar workers and for the middle class generally. 438,000 jobs have been lost just in the first six months of this year alone in the United States – and that's using the rather suspect official government figures. 438,000 people would make a good-sized city; the population of Miami is 404,000, for example.  

A fiat currency rapidly dropping in value and tied to nothing, as opposed to a dollar tied to gold by law; this has become obvious and is changing behavior in relation to the dollar world-wide. Those still willing to take dollars want more of them, and expect to need even more tomorrow just to keep pace with the dollar's loss of value. Price pressure on nearly everything is compounding throughout the market; higher oil prices, for instance, add price pressure to nearly everything that is manufactured, grown, or transported.  

In addition, we have depleted much of our oil and other resources ( U.S. oil output peaked decades ago). Oil, iron ore, and other natural commodities were plentiful in 1929 and the U.S. was the world's largest producer of many commodities, including oil.  

The infrastructure for harvesting and refining these resources was relatively new and in good repair in 1929; that is no longer the case – many trillions of dollars are needed to repair and upgrade not only oil field and related equipment (pipelines, for instance) but also electric, gasoline, natural gas, water, and sewer infrastructure in the U.S. – in addition to repairing our neglected roads, bridges, railways, and nearly everything else needed for a functioning economy. This is in addition to trillions of dollars needed for new technologies and infrastructures (solar and wind farms, for example) required by the oncoming shortfall of oil and natural gas. But we are already deeper in debt than any other nation in history has ever been, and our productive capacity has been deeply eroded, so where will the money come from?  

The environment has degraded to such an extent that even the oceans are dying. Add other environmental problems, which are legion, and the situation is not only impacting the world economy and food supply – the environment may be perilously close to a collapse like none ever seen in human history. We really don't know what to expect; we have never killed the oceans before, for instance. What effects (direct and indirect) will that have? Whatever the effects are, I don't expect them to be positive. 

The cancer-like growth of government in the United States , necessarily at the expense of the productive private sector, has reduced the ability of market forces to respond to new situations and to create the wealth needed for responding to today's growing crisis. Note that our problems have grown in nearly direct proportion to the growth in government:

How to respond to all this?  

Is there a simple set of instructions you could follow to protect yourself and your family from what is coming?  

Not if you are planning to remain on planet Earth, there isn't (although I'll discuss some possibly-helpful actions in a moment). Certainly, the United States is significantly less prosperous and less free than it was only recently, and the trend continues. Uber-investor Jim Rogers recently sold his Manhattan townhouse (for $15.75 million) and moved his family to Singapore; Rogers, with an excellent track-record for predicting trends, is convinced that the current financial meltdown will become "much worse" and that Asia will be a better place to live.  

He may be right in the near term; Asia is certainly in better shape than America or Europe at this point, but Asia absolutely will be pulled into the vortex along with everyone else, and how things will go on the ground as the collapse gains speed is anyone's guess. The food crisis is already causing riots in Asia and fuel shortages are creating long lines at fuel stations in China and elsewhere. Pollution in China is at epic levels, hurting human health and the economy while sparking riots and other civil unrest. As the oceans themselves grow more polluted and barren, as oil and metals become more scarce and expensive, as fresh water for irrigation, drinking, and other uses disappears from water tables and rivers, as the trillions of dollars in Asian monetary reserves evaporate into nothingness (and as local currencies follow suit), as factory orders from overseas dry up and costs escalate, and as Asian governments clamp down on the inevitable unrest and otherwise meddle in a desperate effort to "help," what will this fast-growing and most densely-populated region of the world become? An oasis in a world gone mad, or just another hot zone in the madness?  

Get clear on this: your children's lives will not be like your own. A new era is beginning, and it will take your complete attention and a great deal of effort to survive comfortably – or perhaps at all – much less to prosper in the years ahead.  

At the individual and family level:  

Food: Do you have any stored or are you currently growing a significant amount of food (in a large garden, perhaps)? If food distribution were severely disrupted for a weeks or months, what would you do? Your local grocery chain is about three days away from empty shelves, at least for perishables. If food becomes scarce or more expensive than you could afford, would you have any alternatives other than showing up (with thousands of others) at your local food bank?  

Water: Several areas in the United States are at the edge of severe and prolonged, possibly permanent, water shortages. Have you looked into the issue for your area and made appropriate plans, if necessary? For millions of people in America and elsewhere, this will become a huge and sudden problem in the next few years. The water crisis will also impact the availability and pricing of food and of other things; getting usable oil from the Canadian tar sands or from American oil shale requires vast amounts of water as well as huge amounts of energy, for instance.  

Jobs, money, and investments: A financial collapse is coming; this is no longer in doubt, and in fact early stages of the collapse have already begun (see Part 1 of this column for more detail). Is your job one that will remain in demand when most other people have lost theirs? Are your pension and other investments likely to survive bank failures, hyperinflation, the bankruptcy of your corporate employer, and other problems? If you were to find yourself without income for a week (or month, or a year or longer), do you have anything set aside to take care of necessities?  

Security: The turmoil ahead will almost certainly include an increase in crime as large numbers of people grow desperate.  

Family and friends: In the Great Depression of the 1930s, millions of Americans got by with the help of family and close friends. Today, families are smaller, physically scattered, and family ties are typically weaker; we move more often and thus have more shallow ties in the community. Fewer of us go to churches today, which were another safety net and source of strength in the 1930s. Building relationships today could well pay off tomorrow.  

Transportation: If gasoline were to double or triple in price from current levels, how would you cope? Better to answer the question now than to find out later the hard way.  

Careful consideration of the questions raised above will lead you to answers – to your own answers, because not every person or situation is the same, and because chaos (a good description of what we are heading into) is inherently murky; we can see the tornado coming but cannot predict where that lawn chair will end up after the tornado passes.  

I wish I could be more precise, and more positive for that matter, but I am interested in reality, not fantasy. You can find plenty of that on the web, if you desire.  

At the national and global level:  

You will have noticed that the problems facing us are of two distinctly different types:  

1) Natural-world problems created by the rapid and breathtaking increase in human population and human wealth; environmental issues, depletion of finite resources, and difficulty of continually ramping up the food supply to keep up with population growth are examples. These problems were created by the solving of earlier problems by technology and the market, including the problem of how to feed billions more people as the population grew. Now that these new problems are on the radar screen of almost everyone and are known to be serious, technology and market forces will eventually solve them (and quicker than most would expect) – if they are allowed to do so – i.e., without government interference.  

2) Problems caused directly or indirectly by government action. Coercive power and central planning simply do not work well, and if we continue to expect such methods to solve today's problems, we are doomed. As noted philosopher Ringo Starr has said, "Everything government touches turns to crap." Henry David Thoreau made the point more eloquently in Civil Disobedience:  

"Government is at best but an expedient; but most governments are usually, and all governments are sometimes, inexpedient. The objections which have been brought against a standing army, and they are many and weighty, and deserve to prevail, may also at last be brought against a standing government."  

Thoreau was putting it mildly. To say it plainly, the human race can no longer survive the inefficiency, destruction, and carnage caused by governments. If we are to surmount the problems now facing us, the irrational belief in coercive government as necessary, as positive, as even long-term survivable must, absolutely must, be widely examined, seen for the delusion that it is, and discarded.  

Any system that creates war and genocide and which simply murders people by the thousands and even by the millions deserves to join the system of human sacrifice in the dustbin of history. Few people are aware of the horrific level of violence and murder that governments inflict; see Dr. R. J. Rummel's Death by Government for a look at the reality. Rummel's current (revised) figures for 20th Century government murder come to 262,000,000 – more than two and a half million murders per year, on average, for an entire century. That is in addition to war, in addition to torture, in addition to maiming and other injury, in addition to millions who were displaced from their homes or otherwise harmed by governments. Why on Earth do we put up with this?  

Government action has directly and indirectly caused much of the disaster now coming and has exacerbated the rest. We either put an end to the coercive, ham-fisted, destructive meddling of our politicians and their central-bank masters and corporatist parasites, or that entire system will put an end to us.  

Solving both our natural-world problems and our systemic problems of tyranny and economic corruption can only happen to the extent we free ourselves from the web of systematic coercion that now ensnares us. Free human beings solve problems with shocking speed and can change focus and direction quickly as needed; government action creates entrenched and coercively-funded special interests that make necessary change difficult or impossible.  

The other element needed is more love (or less neurosis, if you prefer) in the world, especially for the young. Freedom without compassion is no less a disaster than compassion without freedom. Systematic coercion and widespread neurosis are the Two Great Evils of this world and I am ever-more certain that nothing less than bold moves towards more love and freedom will save us.  

Love and freedom, then, or cruelty and tyranny; it shouldn't be a difficult choice.  

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Glen Allport's picture
Columns on STR: 105

Glen Allport co-authored The User's Guide to OS/2 from Compute! Books and is the author of The Paradise Paradigm: On Creating a World of Compassion, Freedom, and Prosperity. He maintains paradise-paradigm.net. This is one in a series of columns on the human condition.