Saturday, July 25, 2009

Weekly Dose of Paranoia

It's good for you! For this week's orgy of paranoia, I thought you might like to read Doug Casey's "Street Fighting Man" from the Liberty Unbound blog:
I’ve puzzled over who will go into the streets as the depression deepens and when they’ll do it. Nikolai Kondratieff, of Long Wave fame, was of the opinion that the natives tend to get restless at economic peaks (like the late 1960s, when riots broke out all over the world) and at economic troughs (like the 1930s, when the same thing happened). His reasoning is not dissimilar from that of Strauss and Howe. At peaks, people are just feeling their oats, which can evidence itself domestically in riots inspired by rising expectations, and internationally in optional sport wars, like that in Vietnam. Such peak-time disturbances are troublesome but don’t really threaten society. That’s largely because when times are good, people feel they have a lot to lose and they believe things can get even better. In prosperous times, people don’t usually feel like overthrowing the government or transforming the basis of society.

Not so at economic troughs. People believe they have little to lose, they’re eager to hang those they believe responsible for their problems, and they’ll listen to radical or violent proposals. We’re now just entering what will likely be the worst economic trough since the Industrial Revolution.

But why do humans tend to riot when the going gets rough? How can they think that solves anything? Do they believe it’s going to make their jobs or money reappear? Perhaps I ask that question only because I can’t see myself rioting. You and I might discount the thought of Americans going wild, because we wouldn’t likely join them. But we’re not, I suspect, the average American. People, throughout history, have always been prone to violence when times get tough. Is there any reason that should change now?

Recently, there have been — really for the first time in this downturn — reports of large, angry demonstrations all over the world. The UK, France, Eastern Europe, now China. If a place like Iceland, as placid and homogeneous as any in the world, can blow up, then any place can. And probably will.

A rioter is typically an angry person looking for vengeance because he blames someone else for his problem. So far, rioters seem to be directing their attention at governments. Correct target, of course, but they don’t have the rationale quite right. They’re not angry because governments inflated the currency, promoted fractional reserve banking, and nurtured all the cockamamie socialist programs that caused this crisis. Not at all; they rather liked all that. They’re angry only because their governments haven’t adequately protected them from the consequences of what they did. So as conditions worsen, we can expect governments worldwide to pull out absolutely all the stops to show they’re “doing something.” And round up scape-goats to satisfy the mob and divert anger from themselves.

I fully expect civil unrest to spread everywhere, simply because the depression will spread everywhere. It will be worst in places that have been most overextended, most debt-leveraged, most urban, and have the largest numbers of unemployed workers — the United States, Europe, and China.
Read the whole thing, and feel free to send me a note explaining that I am hopelessly paranoid. Everything is, of course, fine and dandy!

17 comments:

Dave S. said...

"Read the whole thing, and feel free to send me a note explaining that I am hopelessly paranoid."

Well, few predicted this recession, or its severity. So why put faith in confident predictions of how it will get inconceivably worse? All I remember reading for the last ten years or so was how we had a "new economy" and the business cycle was a thing of the past. So if the rosy predictions were 100% wrong, there's no reason to put too much stock in the glummest ones.

Americans don't riot. We don't revolt. We rebel in an orderly way. Compare the American and French Revolutions.

nj_larry said...

MB don't worry, hopeless paranoia can be treated :) As for the rioting ... "If a place like Iceland, as placid and homogeneous as any in the world, can blow up, then any place can. And probably will."

Ok, so I google the infamous Iceland riots, and guess what I find? There was "a" demonstration back in January of this year. Yes people showed up. But ya know, what else is there to do in January in Iceland? But I digress...let me quote from the timesonline article.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/
article5559773.ece

"Ordinary islanders were determined to vent their fury at the way that the political class had allowed the country to slip towards bankruptcy. The building was splattered with paint and yoghurt, the crowd yelled and banged pans, fired rockets at the windows and lit a bonfire in front of the main door. Riot police moved in."

Well I can see how someone might think that despoiling the Icelandic Parliament building with yoghurt might be beyond the pale, but in the greater scheme of things it wasn't like the French revolution. There are two pictures with the article. Both show a few dozen protesters. The reference to "rockets" I fully suspect were not RPGs but fireworks, bottle rockets. Yes again that could be seen by some as ultra violent but heck a night in Newark NJ is ultra violent to me.

All I am pointing out is that there are lots of folks out there on the web with excellent writing skills. They can put together a lovely engaging story, but when you look into their claims objectively, the story starts to fall apart.

As for the other countries, yes there were other demonstrations elsewhere. But even here he mixes up the western China ethnic riots with economic demonstrations (which also did occur at some plant locations in China). Count up the vast numbers of dead and wounded? None. Sorry but this is pretty much nonsense in my eyes.

This is a very big world. Last I checked there were BILLIONS of humans walking around. That means on any given day there are going to be all sorts of "riots", protests, and demonstrations. My personal threshold is 100 dead, 1000 wounded (purely arbitrary but it puts a stake in the ground). Tell me where in the last year such an event took place which DIRECTLY related to the current economic situation and met these criteria? I can't remember one. Do you? But you know what? I DO REMEMBER all the doomsayers predicting the demise of society over Y2K...just 9 years ago ! When nothing happened why weren't the doomsayers dragged out of their basements and publicly pilloried? Nope never happened. They just moved on to the next global apocalypse.

This guy isn't even near the extreme of the chicken littles. The 3 percent guys actively talk of armed revolution.

A century ago you had some isolation from the wacky folks just in terms of geography. There may have been a guy several farms away over in the next county that had similar ideas but today everyone has a voice and their right in your face via Google! We are just realizing that not everyone is playing with a full deck.

Anonymous said...

Dave, Were stoned stoned through the 60's, or just not born yet ?
American cities and campuses were plagued by riots that peaked in the "long hot summer" of 68.

Larry, I happen to agree with him and consider any one who doesn't to be foolishly optimistic.
One thing I do not agree with is that the only ones resorting to violence will be the welfare hordes when the checks stop. I believe that real Americans who want their borders secure, the budget balanced the size and expense of Government cut, and the Constitution to receive more than lip service , will come to a point where they decide that peaceful Tea Parties are not working any better than in 1773 and will take the next step toward targeted violence.
Tom B.

Dave S. said...

"American cities and campuses were plagued by riots that peaked in the "long hot summer" of 68."

I said "Americans don't riot." What percentage of Americans were rioting in '68? The exceptions prove the rule.

We're talking about widespread general anarchy, not pissy college students or urban nihilists.

"I believe that real Americans who want their borders secure, the budget balanced the size and expense of Government cut, and the Constitution to receive more than lip service , will come to a point where they decide that peaceful Tea Parties are not working any better than in 1773 and will take the next step toward targeted violence."

Or they'll vote. Which is what law-abiding, order-respecting middle class people do.

"Dave, Were stoned stoned through the 60's, or just not born yet?"

Where were you in the late '70s when we had a previous wave of paranoid survivalist doomscreaming?

Geoff aka Pathfinder said...

Tom knows full well that yes it was a bunch of pissy college students doing most of the rioting in the late 60s - led by International Communist agitators taking advantage of the societal distress over Viet Nam. IIRC correctly, the economy was doing well at that time.

The welfare hoards will riot when the checks stop, but mostly they will s#$@ their own neighborhoods as they always do. Maybe move uptown a bit, but the police and National Guard will stop that.

As for the snarky "Or they'll vote. Which is what law-abiding, order-respecting middle class people do." comment I disagree. I am seriously concerned that it will come to rebellion if the federales continue in their George III manners.

There are a lot of unhappy, seriously unhappy, people in this country who will not sit idly by and watch as bho and his minions drive us over the edge of a socialist oligarchy, selling our descendants' futures in the process.

The election in 2010 will be a harbinger - if it is honest and fair - and people get voted out of office, then peace may reign. If AKORN et al. steal the elections for bho's minions, all bets are off, and it will be an interesting time.

And remember, "may you live in interesting times" is generally considered a curse for good reasons.

Anonymous said...

Watts and the Chicago riots were considerably more than "pissy college students"
As for your comment that "Americans don't revolt" that overlooks the 2 most significant wars in American history, there's a reason the first one is remembered as "THE Revolution", what was the birth of the Confederacy if not a revolution against Federal interference in State Government ? I will remind you that the Southern planters were not fighting "For slavery" they were defending their property rights from uncompensated seizure.
"Where were you in the late '70s when we had a previous wave of paranoid survivalist doomscreaming?"

Actually it was the 80's but in the late 70's I was assigned to Camp LeJuene NC on active duty with the Marines. Where were you ?

Or they'll vote. Which is what law-abiding, order-respecting middle class people do.

It's NOT what they do when elected officials are unresponsive and the tax burden absorbs excessive amounts of their worthless paper Currency. I would suggest you research "Shay's rebellion" in western Mass. and the "Whiskey rebellion" in Western Virginia.
The comment about being "stoned was not a slam at you, but a reference to the adage that "If you remember the music of the 60's you weren't there" referring to all the drugs at Woodstock.
Another thing to think about, if I'm wrong, I'm pleasantly surprised and have things much easier than I expect.
If your wrong it the disruption and lack of preparedness could kill you and every one who depends on you. Which way would you rather err ?
Tom B

Rastus said...

You know what I remember? I remember all the pissy flower power hippie spoiled children rioting.

You know what else I remember? Kent State, the point in time where the riots started going away. It was no longer just good clean fun...one of their own got "hurt" and it was no longer fun and games, something to jaw about.

I don't remember the working Americans rioting (unless they were college professors). I remember the out of work Korean, Vietnam and WWII vets in the late 60's and 70's when there were slowdowns along the Gulf Coast and how they looked for work. I remember how they pulled together, union and non-union, Democrat and Republican because they had a common goal, a common heritage they had assumed in this great nation and, mostly I believe, because they feared God.

We are more diverse and tolerant now prone to worship crystals and drink kool-aide in some places...fed both by the welfare state and the pissie flower power childish generation lacking the common goal and heritage which is increasingly replaced by the pursuit of personal peace and properity.

Has there been a paradign shift that takes us more towards the old European model of rioting? Quite possibly as we look more and more in aim and goal as the Europeans did generations ago. Has a society ever relied so greatly on technology to keep it alive by supplying it's food, water and sanitation---I'll answer that and the answer is no. Some angry rioters, intelligent rioters who would strike at the basic infrastructure and the riots of the 60's and 70's would become properly interpreted as childish temper tantrums that are applicable to a small portion of the population.

Will it happen? Don't know...let's see how quickly down the econmic ladder this administration takes the people with this economic miracle and how quickly they apply marxists/socialists controls on the people's freedom. There are still too many people who love truth, justice and the American way to rush into restrictions of personal freedoms headlong just now....they may overplay their hand a 1/2 a generation too soon.

Anonymous said...

MB,

Do you believe everything you read?

NJ_Larry nailed it as usual.

MB,

If you really believe all this paranoid garbage why haven't you quit your job, moved out into the middle of nowhere, and live away from civilization with Sweety until you check out?

Dave S. said...

"Watts and the Chicago riots were considerably more than "pissy college students"

Yeah, Tom, I know. That's why I said "or urban nihilists."

"As for your comment that "Americans don't revolt" that overlooks the 2 most significant wars in American history"

The American Revolution was less a domestic revolt than a rebellion from a remote, quasi-foreign governing entity. It was primarily a war of Americans vs Britons.

"what was the birth of the Confederacy if not a revolution against Federal interference in State Government?"

Again, not a classic domestic revolt or civil insurrection. It was two distinct geographic and cultural entities.

"I will remind you that the Southern planters were not fighting "For slavery" they were defending their property rights from uncompensated seizure."

That statement is simply grotesque. And wrong, since South Carolina started the secession ball rolling because of the election of Lincoln, not the seizure of "property".

"in the late 70's I was assigned to Camp LeJuene NC on active duty with the Marines. Where were you?"

In seventh grade. Why are you so concerned with my whereabouts and activities in the '60s and '70s? I can read. I know of things that happened in my childhood and even before I was born.

"If your wrong it the disruption and lack of preparedness could kill you and every one who depends on you. Which way would you rather err?"

That's the same logic Global Warmenists use. It's faulty. Do you prepare for every possible calamity because it's better to be prepared than not? That will take a lot of time and money. And what happens when the preparations butt heads? Should I move to Florida because of the Ice Age, or Canada because of global warming?

Anonymous said...

Dave,
You need to do deeper research, The radicalization of the Colonial population began about 10 years before the Revolution and there were just as many Colonists (If not more) fighting for the British as against, In fact it was a revolution of the middle class, The very rich and the very poor generally sided with the Crown.

"Again, not a classic domestic revolt or civil insurrection. It was two distinct geographic and cultural entities."

About half the states took up arms against the federal Govt. how much more of a "Classic Insurrection" do you want ? You also forget that the NY Democrats also supported the South, inciting the draft riots , and troops marching through Baltimore had to carry loaded arms. It also ignores the neighbor against neighbor fighting in the border states and West Virginia's reverse secession from the rest of the state.

"That statement is simply grotesque. And wrong, since South Carolina started the secession ball rolling because of the election of Lincoln, not the seizure of "property"."

You ignore the facts with that quote. Why was SC so opposed to Lincoln ? Because they didn't like his beard ? NO ! because of his opposition to Slavery. Freedom for slaves was seen by Southern Planters as uncompensated deprivation of PROPERTY that they had purchased and maintained. The question is no different than confiscation of Fire arms if you ignore the liberal "Emotional" aspect.
In fact, Congress held a series of hearings early in the war to decide what they would use as the rhetoric focus of the War and it was decided that "Slavery" would be the rallying cry. The soldiers however didn't much think about that issue, Southerners were fighting against Federal interference with State and local government, The Constitution clearly spells out the responsibility and powers of the Federal Govt. and nothing in it gave them power over the Slavery issue. Northern soldiers on the other hand mostly didn't like blacks any better than their opponents, and were in fact fighting to keep the Union intact.

"In seventh grade. Why are you so concerned with my whereabouts and activities in the '60s and '70s?"

I was simply comparing notes, I don't actually give a crap beyond noting , there is a difference between reading about things and having seen them first hand.
Why are you so aggressively defensive about it ?

"That's the same logic Global Warmenists use. It's faulty. Do you prepare for every possible calamity because it's better to be prepared than not? That will take a lot of time and money"

If you have a spare tire and/ a smoke detector the above quote is poor hypocrisy.

Tom B.

Lawrence said...

I live in the country. We think rioting is rude and we all have guns.

Anonymous said...

Well spoken Lawrence, well spoken indeed.

Anonymous said...

I understand why the importance for you to see it is necessary to prepare. He sees you as another person who believes life is more like the Cosby show. If you prepare by growing food, storing supplies for natural disasters that frequent your area of the country, then you are less likely to be that person who later, when in desperate need, are pounding on his door demanding he share his goods and supplies with you.

I understand his pleading for you and others to become aware and experience little to no patience with people who decide to remain blind, deaf and dumb to the facts around them. It is easier to sit in their e-z chair and conjour up a laugh for the prepers, oh how silly they look with thier guns and bullets, mountain house supplies and water containers. You are right, we are all a flutter, but we are willing to risk the negative critisism for it because we believe in taking care of our families no matter the cost. What are you willing to risk? Can you stand out of the crowd? Can you defy the logic of your family and so-called friends and do what you know is right? Time will tell.

palmbay lou

Anonymous said...

"Maybe the students who’ve wasted a huge amount of time and money in gender studies and sociology will get angry as they figure out they’re not going to have jobs when they graduate..."

So what are they gonna do--hit me with their purse?!

No, the real problem will come when white, middle-class suburbanites--accustomed to student loan guarantees, home loan subsidies, "free" school lunches and the whole grab-bag of government-allocated plunder see their share of the loot abruptly restricted.

They will look at the hundreds of billions in dollars being directed to Lower Manhattan investment bankers and additional trillions lavished on the "poor and disenfranchised". Then they will angrily demand, "Where's mine?" only to be told that austerity measures are a necessary consequence of reduced tax revenues.

Then it's gonna blow because most of these same people thought the gravy train would never stop. Because all the wealthy and most government employees are beyond their reach, the poor will become the focus of wrath.

Who could have ever guessed that we will one day witness a class war in reverse? If it should then morph into a race war, life as we knew it will end.

MALTHUS

Michael Bane said...

If I may, a bit on risk management,something I know pretty well.

All risk management is simply a series of balancing acts, a series of outcomes weighed against the actions necessary to either achieve or avert those outcomes. That's the basic philosophy behind THE BEST DEFENSE...by structuring your life a certain way, you are less likely the be hanging with stupid people in stupid places doing stupid things (apologies to Brother John Farnam). That's how you decrease your personal risks.

It's no different in the macro...I look at possible outcomes, the consequences of those outcomes on my life, and what I might need to do to either achieve or avoid. Example...I have lived in New York City...to borrow a bumper sticker, I love New York. It's got food, culture, etc., not to mention it as a place where one can make a lot of money. You will note that I don't live there now, by choice. I could have supercharged my television career — as has been painfully explained to me — if I relocated to the Los Angeles area. You will note that I haven't done that.

Those numerous balancing acts define how we want and ultimately choose to live. Quality of life vs. income; personal security vs. a higher exposure to various macro risk factors; etc.

A second factor on understanding risk management is taking this if I do/if I don't equation and applying it to elements of personal safety. If the cost is low and and the reward substantial — even if the specific risk is unlikely — why not? Minimal preparation has a low cost and a potential high return.

We all do what we think we need to do. I actually spend a lot of time talking to first responders, ranking national experts, etc., the REAL experts, as opposed to faux experts like me. To a person, they all are prepared at a much higher level than most "regular" people. Hmmmmm, wonder why that might be?
mb

Anonymous said...

I will be surprised if we are not all standing in soup lines a year from today.

On a different note...I actually was browsing another internet forum today where one anonymous poster pitted 545 people against 300 million. Those 545 people are the Reps, the Senators, the Prez, and the SCOTUS justices.

It's because of those 545 people the other 300 million are suffering so much pain and stress right now.

Anonymous said...

Oh, yeah, if you didn't know already a Rep or Senator supposedly makes $174,000 a year. Me as a single guy without any kids, I would be happy if I could bring in just a third of that every year.