Tuesday, January 10

Two competing theories of the future

For the past three years the best minds I know have grappled with the question of which of two theories of America's future is most likely.

One theory is that even with all our problems--the world's and our financial systems about to crash, endless government deficits, corrupt politicians, downward-spiraling education system, a preznit who's ordered an EPA reg that will result in scrapping between 20 and 30 percent of America's coal-fired electric plants, et cetera, that there's a quiet majority of Americans who are still hard-working and pretty well educated. And eventually, when the Democrats and handful of corrupt Repubs get the hell out of the way, this quiet, almost invisible group will tighten their chinstraps and save the country.

For brevity's sake I'll call this theory "the optimists."

The second theory is that it's too late for a "soft landing"--that a collapse on the order of that of the Roman empire is now unavoidable, and that it will almost certainly take at least two decades to recover even to reliable electricity and water supplies in many cities, much less to an era where every other driveway in blue-collar neighborhoods had a 50-mph bass boat and a hot new car.

Folks who put stock in this second theory have observed that most cities depend on a constant stream of food from farms and factories, and that if this stream were interrupted for any reason, food would last about 3 days.

Of course we can expect that if this happened everyone would calmly listen to and follow the instructions from government, which would then take over the clearing of highways and elimination of hijacking gangs, and would have things back to normal in about...oh, about...never.

If--again, *if*--one single cog in the incredibly intricate machine that is a modern economy breaks, and the break affects the entire nation, there's virtually no chance the gummint will solve things before the gangs take to the highways.

So the question then becomes, What are the chances of a 'major' break in the system?

Let's see what the 'official experts' have to say.
"Official Expert:" "There is absolutely no significant chance of that happening."

Me: "When the Boeing 747 was introduced, what was the concensus of "official" expert opinion on how long it would be before two loaded ones collided?"

Expert: "Wha--what does that have to do with the analysis of complex failure modes?"

Me: "It's exactly on point. The so-called experts said it couldn't happen, and in fact it happened less than ten years after first flight."

Expert: "You'll have to take that up with the people who said it couldn't happen. I wasn't consulted on that matter."

Me: "But just now you said a major social breakdown couldn't happen, right?"

Expert: "Yes, yes, but that's different."

Me: "Exactly how is it different?"

Expert: "Oh my, look at the time! I have a *really* important meeting in thirty minutes. If you'd like to discuss this further, call my office."
I suspect most of you can see that little encounter as if it were already on tape.

Of course not all "experts" are idiots, but I get the impression that a lot of 'em--and about half those working for the gummint--are, um...suspect at best. It may be that they really know they're just spouting the "government bullshit" line and don't believe what they're telling us. Damned if I know. But reading transcripts of press conferences by, say, Obama press secretary Jay Carney suggests that they're all quite comfortable spouting bullshit, secure in the knowledge that no one in the MFM will call 'em on it.

For a good sample of these two competing theories, go here, and read the comments. There are some very experienced, very smart and literate people there.


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