I’m going to ramp up the Speculator™ with this post, notwithstanding the pathetic failure of my short-term prediction for the week just ended. Seems all my wishful thinking won’t push the teetering industrial economy over the cliff. I’m sure there’s a lesson here, but — in classic American style — I’ll pretend there’s not.
Occasionally when people talk to me about my new life in and around the mud hut, their conclusions include one of the following statements: (1) You’re selfishly wasting your talent as an excellent and inspiring teacher. You should be teaching at the university, saving students, instead of preparing for economic collapse. (2) Don’t be silly. The United States cannot suffer economic collapse.
My responses go something like this:
Through April of 2009, the year-over-year decline is holding steady at about 3 percent. While that may seem like good news for the industrial economy, the opposite is true: The longer we hold onto a slow decline, the steeper the subsequent, inevitable cliff, as has been demonstrated in dozens of fields and collections of fields (e.g., nations). The steeper the cliff, the greater the probability of sudden disruptions in the supply of fuel, food, and water in towns and cities. And, too, a 3 percent annual decline puts us at mid-1980s world oil supply by 2015. Looks like it’s Mourning in America all over again.
Durability has always been a wise investment. Now is the perfect time to make a personal investment in durability, for myriad reasons. For one thing, most sellers still think fiat currency is valuable.
As we pass from the industrial age to the post-carbon era, the mantra of real-estate agents comes to mind. But the important factor less “location, location, location” than “community, community, community.” The latter can be created in any location. Well, except for those locations the United States bombs into the stone age. It’s tough to build community when the U.S. military is carpet-bombing the ‘hood.
We’ve built a set of living arrangements that relies on infinite access to a finite resource. That set of ill-conceived living arrangements is comprehensive, including capture and delivery of water, production and delivery of food, construction of shelter, the systems of health care, education, and finance, our sense of community (or absence thereof), and thousands of attributes we take for granted on a daily basis.
Will we transform immediately and totally into ill-behaved rats, clustered in a cage without food? Perhaps, at least in the cages known as cities, particularly when the food runs out, along with the water. But people in the “tribes” known as neighborhoods and communities will try to get along, at least for a while, at least while we’re all suffering more-or-less equally. Small communities will be particularly well-suited for the hard times ahead. The neighborhoods of suburbia, on the other hand, are particularly poorly suited for neighborly behavior of the Mr. Rogers kind. Indeed, sprawling American suburbs seem to have been designed specifically for anonymity and therefore uncaring, unfriendly neighbors.