Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Financial Warfare, Famine & Meltdown?


The news of the dramatic attacks in Mumbai was disturbing last week. Seeming like an action movie, the story of ten armed men breaking up into teams and terrorizing Mumbai in several locations at once was shocking. The Taj Mahal hotel up in flames for days. Tourists and Jewish people executed in a city that avoids killing cows!

But that, it seems, is not the half of it. It might have been a sucker punch to the gut of financial globalism itself. I think, as usual, Mike Ruppert nailed it. He wrote on Thanksgiving evening,

I do not know how many other corporations are affected; but they will be many, if not most of the Dow 30 and the Fortune 500. And I can tell you that on Friday morning, any customer or client of Citigroup, Symantec or Hewlett-Packard will be unable to get customer assistance over the phone. Warranty service for these corporations will stop. I know that because I have been through that horrible grind with all of them in the last year or so. All of their calls are taken in Mumbai, by Indians. Nothing is working in Mumbai and there can be no certainty when anything will be working. Because the attacks included the premier hotels in the financial district, no multi-national will ever trust the city again. The risk is too great. I can almost bet that the multinationals are all well prepared for attacks on their own facilities, but were totally unprepared for an attack that pulled the city out from under them.

I think many corporations also have data processing and IT centers there as well.

The Achilles tendon of globalization has just been severed

Since then, Matt Savinar on Life After the Oil Crash continues the analysis this week:

“…This is why, as Mike Ruppert wrote last week, every world leader with an IQ over 70 is shaking in their boots right now. Reason being the effects of the attacks on the Fortune 500 and Dow 30 will be, at the very least, as follows:

A) the cost of insuring their outsourced operations goes through the ceiling

B) the cost of providing security goes through the ceiling

C) the cost of capital (interest rate) for any projects outsourced to India and elsewhere just went through the ceiling

With so many companies as highly leveraged as they are, it doesn't take much to push them over the edge. Jack up their interest rates, jack up their insurance premiums while drastically escalating the amount of money they need to spend on security and a whole bunch of them will be plunged right into insolvency.

Point #2: "But won't they just move their operations back U.S. soil, thereby creating more jobs for us Americans?"

Again, this would only serve to raise their operating costs and therefore raise their interest rates. In a different era, where things weren't so mind-bogglingly leveraged, a company might be able to absorb these increased costs. But modern Fortune 500 companies rely on "Just in Time" (JIT) financing the same way Safeway and Shell rely on JIT delivery food and fuel. As you already know, it only takes a brief (2-5 day) or small (1-3%) disruption in the JIT delivery of food and fuel to totally shoot the whole system to hell. It's the same with the JIT delivery of money. The companies most affected by these attacks have structured their operations for maximum financial "efficiency".* Maximum efficiency is great for a company's bottom line when times are good and the flow of capital is reliable. But when things get dicey, maximum efficiency means just a small increase in costs, be it in labor, in capital, in insurance rates, in the cost of security, etc. can blow your entire balance sheet to hell.

Key point: the big banks have loaned money to the Fortune 500 under the assumption that the project of globalization will continue, more or less, unfettered. An attack like this therefore detonates one of the basic assumptions under girding the finances of pretty much every multinational corporation on the planet.

So the answer to the question of "will they be moving their operations back to U.S. soil" is "no, they won't be as the loans they've been getting from the Big Banks are based on the assumption of ultra-cheap outsourced labor. Without these artificially cheap loans, many of them will simply go out of business as their entire business model was predicated on low-cost loans, the issuance of which was predicated on unfettered access to ultra-cheap outsourced labor."


You wonder why the stock market plunged on Monday? Naturally, there will be dead cat bounces and fluctuations. But, the one-two punches of resource depletion and increased costs of production and insurance, just may have knocked out this globalization beast!

What?? Give me another cigarette… I think I need to smoke two at once while this is sinking in… humm…

Somehow the global financial brain trust has managed to set everything up so that it could not be more vulnerable to the slightest vagary. Running so close to the bone in terms of relying on “just in time” deliveries of both goods and monies, the very cheapest labor costs, cheap oil for production as well as distribution, and low rates of insurance, the geniuses of greed have orchestrated their own demise. Plaxico Burress seems not to have been the only one who shot himself in the foot last week.

Meanwhile, as though oblivious to the Dead Men Walking scenario that is the corporate reality in Asia, Washington DC continues to play charades with the bailout. Everybody knows that Detroit was red-lined years ago. If the automakers have their way, they’ll take the money and expand their factories in Brazil and China. Maybe we ought to think of a better way to stimulate our economy as well as the company – let’s have the government buy us all a brand new car! Tax free. It would only be a temporary fix, but at least we’d have our last new car and no payments! Some of us could live in them.

Then, we would be liberated to make other arrangements as the world as we know it deteriorates beyond recognition.

We really can not afford to be this stupid. Because in addition to the corporate meltdown, we are facing a disaster with our food production next year as well. In the last post, ras directed our attention to a Daily Koz article (11/27). Here’s an excerpt:

“ … I wrote earlier about the famine potential we face due to the under fertilization of the wheat crop. Wheat that gets enough ammonia is 14% protein, if it is unfertilized closer to 8%, and that 43% reduction in total plant protein is going to cause unimaginable suffering in places like Egypt, where half of the population gets subsidized bread. Global end of season per capita wheat stocks have been about seventy pounds my entire life, except the last three years where they've dropped to only forty pounds. One mistake in this area and one of the four horsemen gets loose, certainly dragging his brothers along behind. That mistake may already have been made in the lack of wheat fertilization this fall.

The fall nitrogen fertilizer application has been 10% of the norm. A typical year would see 50% put on in the fall and 50% in the spring. During fertilizer application season the 3,100 mile national ammonia pipeline network runs flat out and the far points on the network experience low flow both fall and spring. If they try to jam 90% of the fertilization into a period of time when the system can only flow a little more than half of the need much of our cropland will go without in the spring of 2009.

Finances as much as weather are the issue with regards to fertilization this fall. Crop prices have fallen to half of what they were, ammonia prices have dropped but ammonia suppliers here, receiving 75% of their supply from overseas, still have product in their storage tanks purchase at the historical highs last spring and summer.

When farmers plant they record the acreage and they purchase crop insurance - $20 to $40 an acre depending on the crop. If they have a failure they file a claim, an adjustor contacts them, and they get a check to cover the deficit. Some of this runs through the U.S. Department of Agriculture and some of it is through private insurers.

My conversations with farmers earlier this week lead me to believe that the largest private insurer, Des Moines Iowa's Rain and Hail Agricultural Insurance may be insolvent. Flooding claims from this spring were filed and payments would have typically been received by the end of June or beginning of July. It's now the end of November and payments are not being dispersed. “

Additionally, there is a propane shortage in the Dakotas that is not allowing the proper storage of corn in their silos. This will decrease the crops dramatically next year. Farming, anymore, requires vast amounts of loans in order to plant, fertilize, harvest, and store the food. With the FUBAR in financial circles, this crucial aspect of food production is dramatically challenged.

So… the banks are blowing up, the jobs are disappearing, the homes are being lost, the commercial loans are still frozen, the government is giving away all our money, and now to top it off, we are looking at severe food production failure.

Is it raining frogs yet?

In spite of all this bad news, I think the most horrifying thing to me last week was that a 34 year old employee of a Long Island Wal-mart got trampled to death in the rush to shop the day after Thanksgiving. That this monstrous culture that spawned this collective atrocity is going down, can only be interpreted on the whole, as a blessing.

Good by and good riddance to all of it.


RAS said...

FA wrote: "Good by and good riddance to all of it."
I agree, but we still have to survive it!
Get your garden seeds for next year now, or within the next few weeks. If anyone needs the names of some good seedhouses, I'll be happy to post them. Don't buy your seeds at garden centers or big box stores. Also, I know of several places that sell sealed cans of multiple kinds of seeds in case of TEOTWAWKI.
If anyone reading this still doesn't have any food stored, dried beans and white rice are still cheap and available (brown rice doesn't store very long). You can always get a (new) aluminum trash can or plastic bucket and fill it with whole wheat berries, too. Emergency Essentials sells cheap buckets.
The threat of famine is the scariest of all, imo.
And fa, the stampede death last week horrified me as well. I'm not sure I want to claim membership in the same species that trampled someone to death to get a deal on a big screen tv.

Dave said...

You know, the Mumbai incident smells really fishy. Among other things, the timing is just too coincidental – during the financial meltdown, between presidents, and as countries such as Russia are ascendant. My suspicion is that this attack is somehow meant to bring India into the US-UK-Israel axis of evil.

It has seemed to me that the PTB have been trying to start WWIII for a while – first in Iran, then in Georgia, and now in Pakistan-India. Given the gravity of the financial meltdown, there is growing pressure to divert attention elsewhere, such as at a world war. The exigencies of such a war would enable the perpetrators of the financial meltdown to take even greater liberties to conceal their culpability and recover their losses, which I suspect are far greater than the few trillion lavished so far.

I agree that food issues are going to become critical in 2009. The entire global food production system is too vulnerable to disruptions, even in the U.S. Among other things, the 90% decline in global shipping cannot be good news for the food distribution system.

Amazingly, there are additional serious problems looming for the U.S.: a dollar poised for collapse, rising unemployment, soaring home foreclosures, even a potential constitutional crisis surrounding Mr. Obama’s eligibility to be the president. Perhaps that’s why the U.S. military is increasing the number of troops devoted to protection of the “homeland” (what an ominous word) to 20,000! The PTB see the writing on the wall.

Oh, and did I mention that the financial crisis is going to get a whole lot worse in 2009?

I’m not an alarmist, but things are getting really worrisome to me.


stoney13 said...

Good By and good riddance indeed! The whole thing is one big clusterfuck! I can't figure the shit out no more, and I give up even trying!

People trampling each other to death? Sheople trampling each other to death is more like it! And what is the cause of this great tragedy? What is the reason that is given for this young man's family to be denied him? He made the mistake of getting between the American Consumer, and his/her favorite source of cheap plastic Chinese shit! If that's society, then fuck society!

Nope! Stoney ain't gotta beat his head against a rock for long, before he finds that course of action misguided, and likely to bear no fruit!

This globalization trip is utter fucking USELESS! It's FUCKING RUBBISH!!!! For God's sake! DO THEY EVEN THINK ABOUT THIS SHIT???

The whole "Happy Indian Worker" scernario only works if Joe Sixpack, and his over fed, over indulged, and ever wasteful family, blindly line up at the trough to take their weekly dick from Big Business! Now we see a scenario where they even trample each other to death, just like real sheep!

Meanwhile back in The Third World, Chinese, and Indian workers are providing the cheap shit, and second rate services, that Joe Sixpack, and Kin are so smitten by, they are willing to kill to get it, yet they are hardly paid anything at all for their work, AND THE GLOBALIZERS THINK THAT'S OH-SO-VERY-FUCKING-LOVELY!! In fact they think that they can ride blind American Consumerism right into the sunset, even though the whole massive stack of ever self-engulfing shit that they're all riding on will swallow them all whole!

Peace on Earth, good will towards Man, my ass! Time to thin this flock! They're getting stupid enough to be dangerous!

Jacques de Beaufort said...

well........with regards to "thinning the flock" haven't you guys read that govt. missive that was recently released about the potential for a "biological" terrorist attack being more than 50% likely by 2013 ? With casualties in the hundreds of millions ?


this is what they call prepping


sometimes it really feels like this is all being written by some demented screenwriter.

freeacre said...

Ditto to all three of you!

One other thing regarding long term storage of grains - especially corn meal, flax seed, whole wheat flour, rice, etc. I had to throw away a bunch of it because it was infested with pastry moths. Webbing, larvae, and moths all through it. RATS! Now when I purchase anything like that, I put it in the freezer first thing to kill off anything before it gets stored. I have big tupperware tubs of flour, pasta, and cornmeal that we are going to drag out on our porch when winter really sets in to hopefully treat that, too. It was an expensive lesson.
Spices are important, too. One can grow basil, thyme, rosemary, cilantro, dill, and so forth. But the tropical spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom, curry, etc. are all going up rapidly in price and maybe will become very scare. So, buy them now if you can. Cheaper if you can buy them from bulk bins. Coffee and tea, too. Tomato sauce and paste, mayo, mustard, soy sauce, cooking oils. Get it now before it's too late. Eventually we will all need to grow or raise renewables, like vegetables from the garden or rabbits or chickens or lambs in the yard. But, until then, you have to have enough stored up to get you through until harvest time.
This is all old information to the regulars at the campfire, but to the new folks who are just looking in.... it is crunch time, and we ain't kiddin.'

RAS said...

Four horsemen come riding
Riding through day and through night
All the people go into hiding
As their deepest fears take flight

Does that about sum it up?
Now to go find a lance. If the horsemen come here, I intend to be ready!

Anonymous said...

Freeacre, RAS,
Thank you for the info on food storage. I had recently purchased a bunch of brown rice that will now need to be eaten up or given away. I learned a few other lessons you may find useful. I had purchased a couple of galvanized steel trashcans, but apparently there is a controversy about storing food in them because they are coated with zinc and may cause metal poisoning. The other thing I learned is that the LDS catalog sells heavy mylar bags for a fair price:



Anonymous said...

From Belgium,


I think that what happened in Mumbai was an opening shot across the bows, a statement of intent but it is unrealistic to think that the One World Government lot, are going to roll over and say “OK guys, I guess you got us there”. Probably expect more to come. Incidentally, I have been expecting someone to do the same thing to the FED for some time now, not that I would ever condone such a thing.

Dave, the US has been courting India for some time now, giving away free nuclear technology etc. At this stage, I am not convinced that Mumbai involved any mischief from the west.

Freeacre, does that freezer trick actually work with rice? It is just what you said about propane shortages for heating the grain silos gave me doubts. I have been thinking about going to local China Town and picking up a couple of 10kg sacks of rice Probably Jasmine and also Basmati if I can get it from there otherwise round coral. Is there any special technique involved like blanching or part boiling or can you just throw the sack in the deep freeze for a couple of days? Does it actually kill the parasites or just make them go dormant for a while; so many questions.


Zinc is definitely bad news, better give it a wide berth although strong plastic sacks inside would help.

RAS said...

Belgium, it works for me. I also store them in airtight containers with oxygen absorbers.
Everyone might also want to check out Sharon Astyk's site (http://sharonastyk.com) She has written extensively about food storage from A to Z.

freeacre said...

Sorry, Guys, I called them pastry moths, but they are PANTRY moths. You can Google them for an assortment of ways to defeat the little fuckers. Here's a good site to start with that says to freeze stuff for 3 days to kill them, and other stuff to prevent them from spreading:
anazuzo, thanks for the tip on the LDS catalog. I'm on it...

Anonymous said...

Damn tragedy that poor bastard being trampled to death, I have seen cattle trample their own during roundup, ....their excuse could be that they had no choice but we as humans are supposed to be higher up the food chain.

Now imagine in the not too distant future that the stampede will be caused by a floated rumor that there will be a shortage of food, how many will suffer this same fate then??? How many fist fights will we see over a loaf of bread?

I guess this just shows that we as a species have a long way to develop.

I know we chat about what the future might look like given a collapse. There is a lot of great information gathered at this site. I put a lot of thought into what I have read, video that I have seen, and chats with those who were around during the last struggle to make ends meet. All this and I can truthfully say that I am worried. Really really worried...

My father has memories of the last depression, yet he recognizes that the next one will devastatingly worse than the one about to get started. I know there are some of the readers of this blog who will say that it may not get to a depression stage, deep recession maybe but full blown depression is not likely... for them I cannot see how a depression can be avoided. Not just the USA but globally. People are still not thinking about what is taking place in front of them to sound any real amount of alarm...

Mostly my worries are with regard to what this society has become. The trampled employee is perhaps a harbinger of things to come...perhaps.

What I see is a society that is not like the last society that had to endure a depressed state. Dad says that people had a different mentality back then. People were still neighbors next door or ten miles down the road. Everybody was willing to help out when the need came, hard work was common place, and family was the most important thing.

What have we done lately. What I see is people that worship money above all. How they achieve it means that rules often don't apply to get it you do what it takes even if that means selling your ethics and morals to do so. Neighbors, hell I have lived 8 inches away from my nearest and the best I can say that I knew them was to say hello in the morning. Coming in off the farm I found that alien, and my wanting to converse as I would a neighbor back in the country I am certain they thought me to be alien.

Hard work well that is a topic everybody has an opinion about. Some of my old office buddies thought it was a tough sleigh ride if they were office bound all day, most of them have never worked a hard days labor in their lives and smashing the keyboard is their idea of tough work...never worked a garden, never milked a cow, never spread manure from a stone boat, picked field stones, never.... all hell I could go on but I think most will get the point. When it comes time to actually work what then?

The kids growing up today worry me. I see such a lack of respect from them in general. There is of course exceptions but the groups I see have little or no respect for their elders, little respect for authority, little respect for all that they do not have to struggle for. What is life going to be like for them when they cannot receive those $150 running shoes, that new game cartridge, the keys for the car on Saturday night?? Will they be able to separate the reality from the violent game world most are submerged in? Will I just look like points gathered as a means to their objective to win?

I think about a lot of different things, mostly of what life will look like when things grind to a halt. I do not think that people in large centers have the same respect for each other that will guide them through a tough period, I have no confidence that people will be civil.

Maybe a lot of this comes from the environment I find myself living these days.. just the other day two people gunned down, most think it was a drug deal gone bad but in the end nobody really cares as it is far too common here...

As a society we have become so desensitized to the bad, to evil and to recognizing people who do and are evil. Even when we do we are incapable of doing anything about it.

The event concerning the trampled security guard shows a part of this, but there is little wonder. Look at our programming.

Look at our news, look at our movies our product ads, our leisure activities, our reading material, our radio, it is at best confrontational, at its worst it is some sick sort of voyeuristic need to see the worst and relish in it. This is not a society that I believe can hold it together when it needs to be.

This is a powder keg and it it sits in a room full of lit candles. For me I really have to analyze where I need to be with my own when the trouble starts, and what I am seeing in the past few days I am thinking that maybe I am in the wrong place...

Oh and RAS thanks for that link, I was looking for that type of info the other day.


murph said...

Ely and everyone,

You have probably noticed that the speculation about what society is going to look like in the near future is very abundant. Mad Max to utopia and all in between. Much speculation on fast crash vs slow crash and what it will look like. Historically, social collapses take at least 150+ years and many base their views on that. Of course, it also takes for granted that conditions are similar enough to make the at least 150 years to go down look reasonable. The fast crashers say history doesn't matter, different conditions to deal with. I suspect there is too much Hollywood in all of it.

I think it is more instructive to look at social attitudes in comparison to history. I agree with Ely that a very large proportion of our population have no idea about physical labor and resent it and avoid it at all costs. I just have to add to Ely's list, cutting firewood. Flat out brute labor.

It seems to be true that our society is fractured, antagonistic, lacks cooperation and worships money. Community is virtually non existent. All of that will change if things get bad enough. I figure many will not survive the transition.

Of immediate concern is how dense populations will react to food and energy shortages and/or some catastrophe, like a really big destructive earthquake. I would suspect we can expect very large population movements, like from Katrina. That has the potential to devastate communities and individuals that were not directly affected. How will we deal with that?

So many questions, so few good answers, so much speculation.

freeacre said...

Almost as outrageous is the lack of a sense of shared guilt and shame that the Lamestream media leaders seem to have for the insane and indecent actions of that loathsome Walmart mob. The collective ministry of propaganda should apologize and atone for whipping the populace into a frenzy over "Black Friday." They should be renting their garments, covering their faces in ash with guilt. The President, if he were any sort of decent leader, should declare a national day of shame. Close the stores, and tell people to go home and think about what we have become and what we are doing.
I have seen no in-depth coverage of the man who was trampled or the woman who miscarried a child in the frenzy. I'm sure that in checking the receipts of the first half hour of transactions and in conjunction with the surveillance cameras, the identities of almost everyone there at the time is a matter of record. There should be severe consequences.
When there is this great of injury and injustice, there is also the potential for great healing. If it is just dismissed and swept under the rug, then the opportunity is missed and the karma is fixed, and there is hell to pay.

Anonymous said...

Murph, yes wood gathering and prepping is high on that list of labor intensive work. I think back to my early youth and took part in a lot of it. I started from a generation that found it a near miracle to have running water, having to visit the outhouse in sub zero temps and 3 feet of snow, hoping not to step off the packed path and being thankful there was paper of any kind there when you got there.

At the time I thought it was rough but I realize now that in comparison with all the creature comforts I do not live a better more fulfilling life. That makes me sad....

Speculating what the world may look like, fast crash or slow motion, accidental or on purpose, these are all good points to contemplate. I have to say right now as I have said in the past the best thing that can happen is a fast crash, bring it down immediately, it will hurt and hurt bad but the recovery can then start right away. This slow torture allows people to become accustomed to things happening around them be they good, bad or otherwise.

Imagine if the order of the day was to seek food and a good day was to come back alive and a better day was to come back alive with food? You live this life long enough it becomes normal and the desire to change that situation will wain over time such that for some it will be the only life they will ever know... I see that here in this part of the world, some things are so totally tragic, yet there is no desire to correct the things that could be corrected, this because the way things are are the only way people have ever experienced them. They do not know any better.

FA, what should have happened immediately was the complete closure of that store. The people should have all been sent packing, and a full understanding of what happened and the result posted in the papers for everyone to see and understand. Of course that would never happen cause it would affect the bottom line for that store, the profits. How much is a life worth? How much is a miscarried child worth? Ask Wal Mart, ask that store manager? Ask those people who stampeded like animals...

It is what I allude to.... human life has little value anymore, this is what society has become. You know I was often told that rats increase population rapidly so much so that when the population exceeds that which their environment can support their existence they begin to kill each other off, disease and death bring the situation back to a manageable level. Perhaps this is what cities have become, large rat infestations?


RAS said...

It's my understanding that the police did close the store -and had to chase out people who were still shopping and didn't want to leave. That's what I heard on the news anyway (can't remember which one).
The man's family has filed a lawsuit now claiming it's Wal-mart's fault, which of course it is. If he was my relative I would demand copies of the security tapes, find as many of the faces who helped kill him as possible, and post them all over the web and everywhere else as a way of inducing as much shame in them as possible.

And speaking of manual labor, what is wrong with us that we have such a hatred of it? There is nothing wrong with hard work. Oh, you don't want to do it all the time or your quality of life sucks (you need to have time for the other things in life -spending time with your family, reading and so forth).

I tend to subscribe to a downward spiral of collapse, e.g., Greer's Catabolic Colapse or Tainter's theories. The only truly immediate crash I see involves nuclear war or something like it. Slow crashes are easier on people -they give you more time to adjust and make the transition survivable by many more. If this civilization did disappear overnight, how many would survive? 1 in 10? 1 in 100? I dislike my odds of survival in that scenario. ;-)
But also, 150 years for a slow crash is only an average. Some civilizations take much longer and some collapse in less than 100 years. Depends on the civilization. I would ours would definitely be on the shorter end. I've also seen some good analyses who think Western civilization as a whole started collapsing either in 1929 or the 1970's. I'm not sure what to think of them, but it certainly fits in with my gut feeling that my grandchildren will definitely live in a post-collapse world. America? What was that, Grandma? Well, kids...

As for the inevitable die-back, it will definitely suck for everyone (especially the ones who die) but I think in the long run it will be good for the earth and our species in general. When we are not so overcrowded human life will automatically rise in value. Can you imagine an entire village celebrating the birth of a child? That is the way it once was in a lot of cultures.

Anonymous said...

But what do you think TPTB want? A slow or fast collapse? The 'Murikan sheeple are pretty much tapped-out. They're not buying on credit like they used to which means less loot for the filthy rich. For them, it might be better for the sheeple to hurry up and die-off so chaos time will be shorter. And, since information travels pretty darn fast, TPTB can start the chaos any time they want.

I think the TARP funds were given to Paulson's and Bernanke's buds so they could buy-up butt-loads of gold for stashing in their Cayman or Swiss vaults to pay the Blackwater slugs surrounding their private compounds.

If the world does turn into the final sequel of Mad Max, I'm hoping the Mad Maxes load-up and kick some filthy rich, hedge fund, banker, CEO mutherfucker's ass!


Anonymous said...

From Belgium,

My, how the pendulum swings; Wall Mart would never close the store or anything else to hurt the bottom line. What should have happened is that all the non-management workers should have walked off site but these days they are too afraid for their own position to consider such a thing. I remember in the late 80’s I was in a steel works to see one of the managers, it was a forging works and on this particular day a young employee was knocked down and killed by a crane which places cold steel in the furnaces and then later, when hot, takes it out for working. Within half an hour of the incident the whole steel works was like a ghost town. This was strength in numbers and I will wager that the thought of not having their jobs the next day, never entered one persons head. I have mentioned before that back in England, I did some temping for Amazon and the phrase “Down the road” featured quite a lot in the daily chivvy up meeting. Much of modern management techniques involve playing to peoples vulnerabilities.

Lack of respect particularly amongst the young is a facet of the way society is changing for the worse. A couple of months ago I saw a young person give his seat up for an old timer on the bus and the old timer was so astonished she didn’t quite know how to react, at first refusing and then eventually accepting in a slightly embarrassed way. Here is another thing which happened on the bus recently and I didn’t come out of this one with a very clear conscience. Some busses have seats which face each other and two youths sat next to each other with their feet on the facing seats. I thought about telling them to get their feet the F*** off the seats but then I thought that if they didn’t do it, of the argument that probably would have ensued. To argue you need to be quick thinking and articulate and this I am definitely not in Dutch. So much to my personal chagrin and as the Monty Python boys succinctly put it, I bravely chickened out. Would I have done it had it happened in the UK – probably?

My wife’s parents lived in an apartment for about 35 years across a hall from another family and in that time neither had been in each others homes. It is as Ely said about city folks and country folks. Mind you, the things we are all sitting in front of now don’t help face to face social integration. It is an interesting fact that immigrants to any country, and I include English speakers in non English speaking countries; tend to have stronger social ties than that countries own inhabitants. The advent of cars has had a large effect on the loosening of family ties with family members moving away from their traditional close communities into more isolationist environments.

With regard to national attitudes to civility I will tell you a story that was told to me by an English woman that was part of a group that I met in a café (bar).
She was married to a Belgian man and they had spent the day walking through open woodland and along fields. Whenever they saw someone coming the other way the woman said “Hello” and passed some small talk about the weather or such, as is common in England. Eventually the husband asked how she knew all these people who appeared to be strangers and when told she didn’t know any of them he asked why she wanted to speak to people she didn’t know. I think this says a lot about national attitudes. Ever since I heard John Prine’s record of “Hello in There” I do make an extra effort to say “Hello” to old timers (older than me) I meet on the street.

I remember hard work. The longest period I spent between walking in a factory door and walking back out of the same door was 40 hours. I did it twice, once in England and once in Belgium. Mind you, that was when I was working for myself so that might have influenced matters. Now I am semi retired I would have great difficulty to regain former work levels but the important thing in any community is that everybody contributes according to the level of their abilities.

In the early 50’s I remember my grandmother had incandescent gas lights in her house. After being used to these I thought it was the most wonderful thing that you could press a switch by the door and a light came on in the middle of the room. We have come a long way from this to the four core chip and although we no longer see people scrambling up slag heaps for slivers of coal I have to agree with Ely that in general, people are no happier than in earlier times. In fact the ‘Prozac nation suggests just the opposite.

What is life worth? I guess we only have to look at the sentences handed down from the courts between those convicted of killing the poor and stealing from the rich. I am sure everyone is familiar with the Ford Pinto case although GM had similar. Because of a design fault the gas tank could explode in a rear end shunt. Although it would have only cost about $6 per car to fix the fault, the actuaries persuaded management it was cheaper to leave it alone and settle the death claims as they came in. This is total corporate financial disregard for life.

What is now left for ones like us? Do we retire to our self contained communities on top of the hill with a night time vigilante roster to protect the crops? Is this what it is really coming to?

murph said...


Was it the Chevy Corvair or the Ford Pinto you are referring to? Ralph Nadar was the one taking on Chevy about the gas tank of the Corvair. Wrote the book, "Unsafe at any Speed".

There has been much ta-doo over the years concerning car manufacturers, particularly American. I remember back in the 50's that a 100,000 miles on a car meant it had to be mostly completely rebuilt. Particularly if you lived where they put salt on the road in the winter. Today I have a '74' Chevy with 180,000 miles on it and the body is still solid and the motor and trany I'm having no problems with. Came from Michigan too, with all the stuff they put on the roads in the winter.

The last time I shopped for a new car, 1979, I searched all over for a car with wing windows. Finally got a Toyota with them, no American car made them anymore that I could find. I wanted no electric gizmos in it either, you know, electric windows etc. What we call "loaded" now days. That Toyota was one of the cheapest rides I ever had till a drunk wiped it out on a one way street.

American manufacturers went for the feel of luxury instead of utility, ease of maintenance and economy. The old Henry J from the 50's was a very low maintenance cheap vehicle and was driven out of business by the big 3. Frankly, I have not one bit of sadness for their demise. They deliberately set out to create a market for higher end vehicles and succeeded admirably. Now the bill comes due. Let em go into the crapper.

Those self contained communities may or may not be viable that you you mentioned. And yes, somewhere down the line they will have to be protected. I think their survival has a lot to do with the concept of self containment. If it's upper middle class- won't get my hands dirty but will hire the work to be done- groups, I think they will end up being food for the masses, with the prerequisite of tobassco sauce of course.

Yup, politeness and sharing have a long way to go.

mrs p said...

Whatevers coming no matter how fast or slow it gets here I don't think I'm ready for it. We got ourselves so ramped up in the world with all this nuclear stuff its obscene. Damned be to hell the bullheaded macho maniacs in our world with all the trigger ready nukes. Who's prepared for this stuff? Especially if it's going to be some kind of bio or nuclear exchange. So at this point even though I continue to stock essentials, I'm starting to realize I need to just enjoy each day, friends and family, AMAP.

Plus a little prayer now and then couldn't hurt, whoever, whomever your God is or not. It seems that at this point in the crazy world it couldn't hurt. It may sound fruitless but the vibrations can ripple.

Even if my last moments here go up in smoke in a blast of radiation they might end up in another form somewhere else in some other galaxy who knows--may they be smiling. I'm going to the store now to smile at all the sourpusses and spead some joy give some "right of way" with my old volvo and maybe I'll play some loud reggae music on my way. mrsp

Anonymous said...

...uh oops that was suppose to be "spread some joy". mrsp

RAS said...

Hey all,
I'm sick so forgive me if this doesn't make the best of sense.
Regarding the pinto, Ford got its comeuppance, at least according to what I learned when I studied it in school. All the memos and such regarding the calculations got leaked to the judge in one of the suits and he slapped them with a lot (millions or billions) of excess fines for what they did.
But in a just world they would have gone to hail. Or been hanged.
But since when is this a just world?
Things are going to get rough for a while.

Anonymous said...

From Belgium,

Murph, all,

I found the source of my info regarding the manufacturers of cars with design faults. It was from the extras of the film The Corporation; title 17 chapter 1, where the author of the film, Joel Bakan was talking with Jeanine Graffler (spelling) of the Majority Report. The discussion went over the 14th amendment to the Constitution which deals with corporate personhood and they mentioned the Ford Pinto as a famous example of a car with a serious design fault which was deliberately left unfixed. Also they mentioned the Chevy Malibu as the one where the leaked actuary report was produced in court.

I seem to remember a film about the case (can’t remember the title now) although they didn’t mention the manufacturer or model by name. It was with Gene Hackman as the hot shot veteran lawyer who was beaten in court by his novice lawyer daughter who managed to get the leaked report.

I do though remember in the 80’s there was talk introducing a new crime of corporate manslaughter where people directly involved in the decision making, board members but not stake holders, could be brought to book but it remained at the talking stage.

I have learned a new word ‘externalities’. Externalities, is a sanitised expression for a situation where the public cleans up any manner of corporate mess. It could be a polluted river; the workers involved when their jobs are outsourced together with the outsourced workers or public bale out money being handed over to Wall Street.

I meant to mention in the last comment an interview I saw with Hugo Chavez where the interviewer said “On the journey from the airport to the centre of Caracas the road passes hillsides covered with barrios which are really a blot on the landscape and with all the countries oil wealth couldn’t something be done about them”? Chavez replied “We have tried that one but the people who live there won’t let us do it. They pride their sense of community above the condition of the place where they live”. I suppose it proves that you can be poor and enlightened at the same time.

murph said...


This is an interesting series about freedom and a pretty severe perspective on it. Come from survivalacres.