Fast Train Revisited: What's a Doomer Chick to Do?

Sharon February 4th, 2009

Oh you’ve been on a fast train

And its going off the rails.

And you can’t come back, can’t come back again.

And you start breaking down, in the pouring rain

Oh, you’ve been on a fast train. 

….Got to go on the land.

Stuck in no-man’s land.

Ain’t nobody on your way back.

Ain’t nobody going to lend you a helping hand.

And you start breaking down

And you falling to the sound

You are hearing a fast train. - Van Morrison, sung by the incomparable Solomon Burke 

Despite the fact that there are plenty of people out there who view me as wildly apocalyptic, I don’t actually consider myself a doomer. My own feeling is that while radical restructuring awaits us, our future probably won’t look much like _The Road_.  I have argued that what we face due to peak energy, climate change and our financial crisis can best be described as “ordinary human poverty” - and we can do much to mediate our experience, that we can experience either an ordinary, survivable poverty or one that becomes pathological, based on our own choices.

On the other hand, compared to the mainstream culture,  which tells us endlessly that things will stay the same or get better always, I am, of course, your friendly neighborhood Apocalyptic Dominatrix of Doom.  That’s me,  cracking the whip over my readers to get their gardens going, food storage in order, learn to darn socks and fix their own roofs, etc…  Carolyn Baker was kind enough to mention me as a notable Dystopian chick in her well deserved rebuke to the New Yorker.  So even though I often spend time observing “well, I don’t really think that we’re literally going to see TEOTWAWKI” I suppose I qualify as one of Cassandra’s descendents.

A while back, I wrote my doomiest post to date, when I sat down to compose a section of _A Nation of Farmers_ that described the changes in food and energy issues as of last April.  I was so shocked at what the aggregate shift in our reality looked like put down on paper that I posted it as “We regret to inform you…”and I argued that we are, in fact, in the midst of a fast crash of our society.  I wrote then,

When climate change and peak oil thinkers run out of other things to worry about, there’s always the endless, inevitable debates about whether we are facing a “fast crash” or a “slow grind.”  And I admit, I’m worried about my fellow environmentalists – because I think they are about to lose their favorite distraction.  When no one was looking, we got an answer.  Fast crash wins.  And we’re in it now.

Wait a minute, you argue – that’s not right.  If we were in a fast crash we’d be well on our way to living in a Kunstler novel.  But we’ve still got cars, we’ve got food, things are slowing down, but at worst this looks like a slow grind – but the crazy lady at the blog is saying fast crash?!?!?

Before you argue with me (and you are both welcome and encouraged to), I’d like to post something a bit out of my usual style – it is simply a description of what has happened with food and energy in the last year – that’s all it is.  Then tell me what you think – because it wasn’t until I began to write this introduction to the present food situation that I suddenly was struck by the fact that even a fast crash doesn’t always look fast when you live it – new normals arise and it turns out we assimilate faster than we panic.

So here we are – the “We regret to inform you that what you have imagined to be “civilization” is now falling apart” post.  See if it strikes you the way it struck me.”  

Although the major issues have changed somewhat - the collapse in energy prices has meant that now people can’t pay for heat because they don’t have a job, rather than because of the high price of energy, and the economic crisis has mostly numbed us to the growth of hunger in the poor world - I don’t see anything to suggest that we are not still in a rapidly accellerating crisis.  The only thing is that even at my most apocalyptic, I would never have guessed how fast – and I think that that’s probably true of most “doomers.” 

But I’m starting to feel like I ought to give back the quirt, the cat o’nine tails and that funky leather corset personally bestowed upon me by Richard Heinberg and Pat Murphy when I was inducted into the Ancient Order of Apocalyptic Prophets (you should have seen what they were wearing – I’m sworn to secrecy, but it was very fetching!)  You see, I’m starting to feel I can’t compete with reality – any actual attention to events as they unfold points up the fact that my own doomiest imaginings are being wildly exceeded.

Let’s see – California is broke, functionally insolvent, and has stopped paying for just about everything, including its state police.  Remember how often they trumpted that they were the 6th largest economy in the world – well, that’s kinda like saying the UK is insolvent…oh, and that actually might be not so far from the truth too, since they just had to nationalize their banking system.  We’ve lost at least 300,000 jobs in two weeks.  The New York Times may be out of business by spring.  While neither rain nor sleet nor hail will keep the postal service from its appointed rounds, money probably will, and they are talking about cutting out Saturday deliveries.  Homelessness and hunger are rapidly on the rise, as are suicide and murder suicide.

There’s rioting in Russia, China, Greece, and massive worker demonstrations in France and Britain.  Australia is seeing record high temperatures, while many of the rest of us struggle with record lows.  California’s drought may be the worst in a century.  And the already hungry are among the deepest sufferers of the food crisis.  The New York Times, Fortune Magazine, Bloomberg – they are all starting to use words like “Biblical proportions” “Deep Depression” “Apocalypse.”  It is getting hard to compete with the mainstream doomers.

We’ve been “fixing” the problem – which is a big part of the problem – think of the word “fix” here as in “the fix is in.”  We’ve just spent 8 trillion dollars bailing out the banks – more than all the wars in US history, the Louisiana purchase and the space program combined.  And what did we get for it?  Bank of America and Citi are still teetering, the jobs are still being flushed daily.  The estimate is half a million a month – every month.

And people aren’t really very angry yet.  They should be – think about what 8 trilliion dollars could actually have bought us, had anyone cared as much about the people as they do about the banks, and about the wealth of the fortunate.  At some point people will realize that it isn’t going to work – and their anger will be frightening – and just.  The New Hampshire state legislature is currently debating legislation that would assert that if the US implements martial law or abrogates the Constitution, it will effectively dissolve the Union.  While one wonders where they were the last eight years, this is being taken quite seriously, and it would have been unthinkable a decade ago.

Eight trillion could have paid for free health care for every American, cradle to grave for a century.  Eight trillion was sufficient to cover the cost of almost all the mortgage debt - every American could have been given their house and the “foreclosure crisis” ended instantly.  Eight trillion was enough to build renewable energy infrastructure that could have softened the crisis, to reinsulate our houses, to provide basic food and health care to the world’s poor.  The same eight trillion we were told we didn’t have when it was needed by those who wanted educations, basic medical care, decent shelter, a home, hope, a decent life, we had a plenty for the banks and the wealthiest people in the world.

A number of energy and environmental advocates don’t seem to grasp that the 8 trillion figure – and the monies spent by other nations – aren’t proof that we can build a renewable infrastructure or address peak oil if we really want to – instead, they are what we are doing *instead.*  Yes, nations can print money, but in order to inflate our currency, we’d have to disentangle ourselves quite violently from the other nations with which we are economically intertwined, and that would have its price too.  That is, our ability to keep bailing is limited – and the 8 trillion now buried in bank vaults and flushed down the toilet is money we don’t have for future adaptations.  Think about it – we’re debating 3/4 of a trillion dollars for all the American people combined (and some of that will also make its ways into the coffers of the bank) – while we’ve already spent almost 9 times that much on the banks.  300 million Americans get 1/8 or less what the banks get.  What does that say about us?  And what does it say about the ability and willingness to mobilize funds for things that actually protect human lives?

So what’s a doomer chick to do but throw in the towel and her spiked mitts and admit she’s beat?  I can’t out-doom the Wall Street Journal – Wall Street invented our doom, and who better to describe it.  The old button ”I eat stranger things than this with my breakfast cereal” is increasingly true – me and my gardens and my ordinary human poverty are just plain dull. 

Don’t worry, I’m not going to stop writing.  But like Dmitry Orlov (who did threaten to stop writing, which would have been a tragedy), I’m getting out of the apocalyptic prophetess of doom job.  Like Orlov, I’m now an observer – hardly impartial, but there’s no point predicting the future when we’re living it, and when the song of the apocalypse becomes the universal chorus.

 Sharon

   

78 Responses to “Fast Train Revisited: What's a Doomer Chick to Do?”

  1. Red Sand says:

    This whole situation just throws me. I’ve been reading and reading and trying to understand whose view might be more accurate, and then trying to get others close to me to listen.

    The whole time, I worry that I might just have taken on one set of expectations due to the gruesome nature of the doomer porn and that I’ll become too extreme in my own actions and in my conversations with others.

    But every day, I get indications that I’m listening to the right people and it terrifies me – I end up worrying that I haven’t been extreme enough in my own actions.

  2. Heather says:

    Yup, life just keeps getting more “interesting”…. I have family in CA too, so reading about their economy, paying people with IOUs and tax refunds, the drought… but they aren’t going to move. And really, there’s a limited number of places to go that are any better.

    On the postal deliveries, I heard that they’re considering dropping Tuesday or Wednesday deliveries, not Saturday, so that there wouldn’t be two days in a row of no deliveries.

  3. Paul says:

    I have googled the New Hampshire situation, Sharon, and I can’t find what you are talking about. Can you throw up a link to something to provide a little background to that issue?

  4. Susan says:

    From one Doomer Chick to another…

    Mad, I’m mad. Last night at the chiropractor we could hardly get on to the treatment because we were sharing our mad. The last thing we discussed was throwing things at the wall but stopped short. Daily now the subject of where we’re headed comes up in average conversation with average people. I cannot encourage them. Things won’t get better. All we can do is prepare to survive – physically and spiritually.

    Sharon, I’m thankful that you are so articulate in expressing that need to prepare.

  5. [...] Casaubon’s Book » Blog Archive » Fast Train Revisited: What’s a Doomer Chick to Do? Despite the fact that there are plenty of people out there who view me as wildly apocalyptic, I don’t actually consider myself a doomer. My own feeling is that while radical restructuring awaits us, our future probably won’t look much like _The Road_. I have argued that what we face due to peak energy, climate change and our financial crisis can best be described as “ordinary human poverty” – and we can do much to mediate our experience, that we can experience either an ordinary, survivable poverty or one that becomes pathological, based on our own choices. [...]

  6. Linn says:

    Very discouraging. My family thinks I am “depressing” and stopped listening to my advice to get out of debt, get some cash on hand, etc. They are thrilled at the “bargains” they’re finding now! No thought to why, even though some are at 10 percent less pay and cannot sell 2nd houses and see job losses coming and 401ks tanking. BAU–it’ll return to “normal”!

    Then there are the total believers in OBama who say…”Give him a chance! He’ll fix it! He’s only had two weeks!” Ha. I agree with those who see that it cannot be “fixed.”

    So I read you, Sharon, and others on the web and prepare, personally, and try to garden and lay plans to exit to be nearer family, even though it will be hard, maybe impossible at this late date. Gathering a community of sorts. Staying as positive as possible… living in the moment, which is filled with snow and sunshine!

  7. Ailsa Ek says:

    Interesting that your post and this post from No Impact Man came out on the same day. I even have them in adjacent windows.

    I’m glad I canned last summer, even if it wasn’t as much as some did. Come tax return time, I’m getting a pressure canner, and then next summer I’ll can even more. I’m glad I got chickens last summer and they’re laying now. And I’m really glad I got bit by the prepping bug when I did and put by lots of beans and rice and spices and sugar and the like. Worst comes to worst and Adam loses his job and we lose the house and have to move in with the in-laws, we can just take all the stored food with us and everyone will eat better.

  8. Paul says:

    Thanks for posting the link, Sharon.

    I do not know exactly what form your blog will take in the future (i.e., if you are an observer, what exactly do we expect to see), but I thank you for all that you have observed/predicted/advised in the past. And all the best in your future observations.

    ~ a faithful reader (in every sense)

  9. Lyle says:

    You mentioned the possible Post Office reduction in mail deliveries. The discussion is on skipping a mid-week delivery (such as Tuesday), rather than Saturday. I imagine that that is to keep from having two days in a row without mail delivery.

    Also, I believe that they were talking about doing this “when mail is light” on the day in question.

  10. Greenpa says:

    Well, I dunno, Sharon. I think some of us have a bit of a disconnect from what most folks see. We can see where we’re going to wind up. But regular folks (whom I refer to as “normons” when I’m feeling rude enough) do not really even see where we ARE right now, let alone where it’s going.

    Only one person in 10 is currently on food stamps in the USA. To you and me, that’s HUGE. But in the regular world, 9 out of 10 people are still buying Pop Tarts and frozen pizza, and feeling scornful about those using food aid.

    You and I also know where the bottom is; you’ve worked in SE Asia, I’ve worked in rural China. Life there is very basic; mud huts, dirt floor, no water or electricity. Quite normal and often happy for them; incomprehensible poverty for most in the first world.

    But it can get much worse than that; which the people in the mud huts know perfectly well. Lawless chaos is much much worse.

    The “riots” the press is reporting are so far really pretty polite discussions, with a few drunks getting jailed. Real riots haven’t happened yet- those are the ones with cities in smoking ruins, and thousands dead.

    We’re heading there; but for most normons, and journalists, at the moment, we’re just living in a John Wayne movie. It’s all kind of exciting, you know? Won’t this be fun, playing Little House on the Prairie for a week or two? Heck, the cable TV still works fine, how bad can it be?

    They have no real idea yet. And won’t, until they themselves fall down the stairs, to use a personally current metaphor.

    Most, I think, will never listen. But it’s worth keeping your leather bustier, boots, and quirt, for those who may, eventually, listen.

  11. MEA says:

    But it’s worth keeping your leather bustier, boots, and quirt, for those who may, eventually, listen.

    It appears that there a whole aspects of doomer culture that have passed me by. Why am I always the the out hilling the spuds with the fun stuff happens?

    I don’t know which is more frightening, that fact that so many people really haven’t got it, or what will happen when the do. I’m not expecting zombie hoades, but I am execting a lot of panic, which tends to lead to people doing really stupid things — such as saying this is the last good Christmas well every have, so lets to to Disney, or whatever.

    MEA

  12. Nettle says:

    Over the past two or three months, I’ve really cut down on my online doom-n-gloom reading. I used to faithfully check the Automatic Earth every day, and I would read Denninger and Orlov and whoever else was writing about these things. Now I just don’t want to hear it any more. Before the train wreck, I wanted to know how bad it was going to be – now that we are in the start of it, I just want to curl up in a ball and take the hit without thinking too hard about what’s going on.

    The only sites I really follow any more are those like yours that write about really hands-on, practical stuff like garden planning and food storage. That’s what seems really important to me these days. How many trillions are being wasted by the government? How many jobs have been lost? I can’t bring myself to even look. I’d rather count my canning jars and make garden plans.

  13. Anon says:

    Eight trillion was sufficient to cover the cost of almost all the mortgage debt – every American could have been given their house and the “foreclosure crisis” ended instantly.

    If this math is correct, it would’ve been a two-for-one deal, since mortgages are held by…(wait for it)…BANKS! The money would’ve flowed right through the mortgage-holders, straight into bank coffers, eliminating citizens’ debts as it went.

    This is the sort of thing that makes me hope the math is wrong or I’m crazy, because if it’s true and people figure out they could’ve kept their homes (and maybe cars and jobs too) while STILL bailing out the banks, there will be hell to pay.

  14. J says:

    It’s tempting and fun to play the ‘What would I do with all that money’ game, but its simplicity is deceptive. You assume that all the money which we’ve supposedly spent on war and bailing out banks could just be snatched out of thin air and hey presto! applied to somehow magically ‘fix’ the health care crisis, the mortgage crisis and every other societal ill…and who exactly would get all this money, how would it be allocated and over what time scale, and what would you do when everyone owns their house but the market is so unbelievably distorted that nobody knows what anything’s worth anymore? How long could even 8 trillion last in payments for health insurance without some way of making the system as a whole profitable and stable? And suppose somehow the government (whether federal or state) managed to put everyone ‘on the job’ somewhere, (let’s even grant that they would be placed in ‘good’ jobs by your standard, such as farming or craftsmanship): this downturn is global, there is very little international trade going on so there’s no demand for American-made goods. Though the current downturn was due in large part to unethical corporate behavior, greed and irresponsibility, the fact is that the jobs being lost now are due to lack of demand. If the government just forbade layoffs there would be little or nothing for the people still employed to do.

    I’m not claiming to have all the answers or that we’re not in the midst of an economic crisis of Depression-era proportions. People are hurting, a LOT, institutions are in disarray, confidence is low…but if you’re going to be angry about it and want lasting change, make sure your anger has a clear, analytically precise target, not just some vague ‘big government and corporations are soul-sucking, inept, corrupt fascist dictators’ rant. And don’t assume that your subsistence farming and food storage lifestyle can be applied everywhere as solutions or even mitigations of the current crisis.

  15. The Dude says:

    Sharon – thanks for putting the image of Heinberg in a pair of leather chaps into my mind. Enjoy your blog a great deal. Orlov’s more prosaic version of “Doom” always struck me as much more plausible than the cinematic versions people conjure up – Greer is right that we’ve seen too many movies, read too many lurid SF stories. Doom will mean bartering your jeans for a can of gasoline.

    Speaking of fiction, here’s a fine recent anthology for your PABC: Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse. Covers all sorts of scenarios/milieus of course, and not all as apocalyptic as the title suggests. Keep up with the Book Club if possible, too, and if you get a chance, review some writers with a bit more finesse.

  16. Jessica says:

    I live in California, and it really is getting a little scary around here. I live in the Silicon Valley, and a number of firms around here a laying people off. The unemployment rate in CA is close to 10 percent, and our state has no money. My mom works in the office of an elementary school, and just this week she discovered that the account used for PE equipment, art, and music has been frozen. She is pretty sure that her job is going to be cut soon.

    I am more fortunate that most simply because I have quite a bit of family within biking distance, and none of us will let the others starve or end up on the streets if the worst comes to the worst. Right now I’m focusing on trying to create a garden that could really supply a decent amount of food. The biggest obstacle I see to that in the long term is the drought.

    The strangest thing is how much is just “business as usual” here though. I don’t see most people living as though we are in a drought. I think it is partially because there is such constant bad news about the economy, they don’t want to consider that we might run low on water as well.

  17. Anne says:

    I am glad you will keep writing. Your practical advice has been so very helpful as I have prepared my family for the crisis, and your clear thinking and strong moral voice have helped me feel less afraid, and more mentally and spiritually prepared. Thank you.

  18. Bobbi says:

    We’re heading into another Dark Ages, the Middle Ages. As a lover of history, particularly English historical fiction, I spend my days in some kind of awe at what is happening. Are we living my history classes? I’m beyond depressed or even scared. I’ve decided to collect the good with the bad data and not dump a list of catastrophe details on everyone I meet. (Good: my girls, 20 and 17, are developing a lovely relationship. Bad: we are older Boomers whose retirement funds are tanking and they will both have to take care of us unless we drop dead in front of our computers servicing our clients into our 80s.) Love your blog. Keep writing. We must remember that we’re in this together. I’m convinced that community is the only answer.

  19. dewey says:

    I agree with J – the 800 billion or whatever so far doled out to banks (don’t know where the 8 trillion figure comes from) is not real money in any sense of the word – just electronic blips that they get to add to the “total assets” in their computer accounts to make it look like they are not really bankrupt so we won’t all go ask for our money back. If they actually printed up $3000, or $30,000, for each of us and sent it to us in the mail, the value of the U.S. dollar would instantly plummet. I don’t want to see that happen.

  20. Isis says:

    J & Dewey,

    What you guys are saying sounds right to me. Some folks calculated that this bailout is more costly than all the combined cost of all the wars that the US has engaged in over the course of its history. It just sounds so implausible. I mean, you can very easily digitally create $8 trillion, but you can’t just pull massive amounts of oil and steel and human blood out of thin air. A flawed comparison IMHO.

  21. Shamba says:

    Well, first of all, Sharon, don’t you dare stop writing! don’t make me come to Upstate NY and make you write! (and I’m a long way from upstate NY, too!)

    Second, if you miss the public aplomb (SP?) of being a Cassandra, you can always use these past few years as a base to publicize how far ahead of the curve you were in predicting the apocalypse–then you can rest on your laurels.

    On the other hand, you may be so busy with your gardens and teaching you could find a new role as the Garden Mistress of the Apocalypse.

    I certainly feel since last fall that IT is here and no longer just coming.

    One of our largest food banks, St. Mary’s, is way low on supplies and at this time of year is usually much better off. It’s been the last 6-8 months that it’s been running on the edge of its food supplies due to the needs of people in Phoenix.

    There’s certainly still plenty of stuff in the food stores, so I keep buying extra and putting it aways somewhere in this house. Pretty soon all the cat food is going to have to go under the beds!

    Peace to All even if it’s hard to find it these days,
    shamba

  22. Shamba says:

    P.S. On the days I feel that it isn’t so bad, something, usually the news, prompts me to tell myself, “Yep, it’s getting stormy out there. So, go practice baking bread again.”

    Shamba

  23. I have half a dozen unfinished posts sitting about that are akin to pounding my head in frustration, quiting blogging for good and telling every one who blows me off that they deserve to freeze in the dark and starve.

    In a fit of frustration one night (and a nice bottle of wine) I told my inlaws I wasn’t letting them in when things go Fubar if they kept dismissing my warnings and refusing to aid in the family preparations.

    But unlike me, you can write Sharon, you have an audience and as long as the zombie spotings are negligable you still have the chance of convincing someone to repent. You are only Cassandra lite, some have listened and some will listen yet before its too late.

  24. coyote99 says:

    Sharon…

    You write very well, and it resonates with my thinking, but…

    Where do you get 8 trillion?

  25. Shamba says:

    coyote99, I believe the 8 trilion is from the total of various federal “bailouts/rescues” the past 5-6 months like TARP, other kinds of bailouts–like the feds backing up AIG and a host of other businesses, and the proposed ‘stimulus’ bill.

    cheers,
    shamba

  26. Nettle says:

    I can’t speak for Sharon’s sources, naturally, but the $8 trillion number has been bouncing around for a while – for example, here: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1208/16620.html

  27. Hummingbird says:

    It is mind boggling how fast all this that we speculated about a year or twoago is happening. The economy is mirroring GW as happening faster than anyone dared to think.

    I guess that is why we are not doing PA book club anymore. The Apocalypse is happening before our horrified eyes.

    I just got back from five days of sub-freezing temperatures without electricity. So glad I’ve been reading Sharon and had thought about how to prepare. Still, it became apparent that, no matter how prepared, survival without electricity would be iffy, especially in winter, no matter how much we try to prepare.

    We slept in the living room so as to feed the wood stove all night long, but the room still got cold enough that we were shivering before morning. (January nights are LONG!) Yes, we dressed in lots of layers.

    A teakettle or pan of soup on the stove top never got more than lukewarm since by the end of January all our best wood had been burned and we were into next years–which didn’t put out a lot of heat. Not enough sun to use the solar oven.

    The ice storm left more tha an inch of ice on the trees, of which many, thankfully small enough to cut and drag with hand tools, landed on the driveway and had to be removed, and ashes spread on the ice before we could get out to the store. And then, one of us had to stay home to keep the stove going.

    Survival is not going to be fun. There are still people in rural Kentucky without water or heat after more tha a week.

    Thank you for what you do, Sharon. At least my head was in a survival mode and I was better able to cope.

    We learned a lot from the experience about how to be better prepared next time. But I don’t believe it would be possible to survive long without power or transportation.

  28. [...] Not that it will impact me any, it is the fact that I had not hear of it ahead of time.  Sharon scares me with her [...]

  29. Sharon, I for one have always appreciated your words of warning. You speak such sense. I think these old fashioned dare I say normal ideas of a simple life are downright scary to those people who need the $500 pocketbooks and 2 mortgages and lots of debt to feel good about themselves.

    As for being MAD…I have been MAD as hell for 2 years now, ever since my husband’s work went downhill, and when I had to quit homeschooling to go back to teaching full time. I wonder why we are not rioting in the streets over this sham of a bailout (as if the first ones worked at all?). I guess we normal folks are too busy WORKING to take a day off to riot. At least that is why I’m not rioting. When I talk to family and friends about it, I get general apathy, not anger.

    America is apathetic and it is going to kill us if we’re not careful. If it already hasn’t, that is.

  30. Heather says:

    Just finished reading The Far Traveler this past week, about Gudrid, a Viking woman. Lots of interesting things in it, but what made me think of it just now was Hummingbird et al being cold during their power outage. One of the turf houses being describe in the book had walls 6 feet thick! Turf, then rocks/filler, then another layer of turf (like big spongy bricks, sort of).

    So here we are, most of us, in our houses that are only 8-10 inches thick. Our own power outage was only for a few days, but if it had been for longer I might have pulled all the fabric and clothing in storage elsewhere into the main living space and piled it all against the outer walls, and at least against the bottom half of the windows (with at least blankets over the top halves at night). Maybe could do only one or two rooms, but I bet adding a foot or two of insulation would make a big difference in a long-term power outage.

    Of course if this were to be the way things were going to be from now on, I’d put shelving on the walls and just store all that stuff there permanently (can’t really do that right now — in an apartment and other complications).

    Anyway, food for thought in case of more power outages…

  31. Heather says:

    Argh. Meant to say that the _walls_ of most of our houses are 8-10″ thick, not that our _houses_ were 8-10″ thick. Tired.

  32. Cathy says:

    Sharon: Please don’t stop what you are writing about! There are new people discovering your blog every day and they need to hear the whole story directly from the Queen of Dystopia.

    I’m sure that you can get burned-out just like anyone would — I’m surprised that it hasn’t happened to you sooner than this — but your messages are invaluable to the future of sustainable living.

    I have learned soooooo many things from your blog — please keep up the good work!

  33. Mark says:

    Peak doom already?

    Peak hope is going to be a bitch for a mass of sleep walkers, unfortunately.

    I say we celebrate this dissolution with all our hearts. This year we can celebrate a post-American day of the dead. Hooray!

  34. Susan Buhr says:

    And then I heard first thing in the morning that businesses which received bail out money consider it government “intrusion” to require that they refrain from paying their CEOs unthinkably extravagant salaries and bonuses. Bonuses for which the rest of us are paying. And another person was talking about how we can’t afford to address global warming or different energy and need to address “the root causes” of the meltdown.

    All before that first cup of coffee-not a good idea.

  35. MEA says:

    While I have no desire to trivialize either the larger situtation or the personal pain anyone may be feeling, and while I think that what I am about to say is only a drop in the bucket and not even a short term solution, I think a fair number of people have things that they never think about that could actually be of help to others.

    Everytime I ask on Freecycle for old coloring books and crayons with dd the elder used to make kits for the children at the soup kitchen, I get an overwhelming response, including lots crayons that look like new.

    I expect there are a lot of other outgrown supplies just sitting there.

    This year, while people are expecting recovery, may not be the time to ask if the kindergarten teacher could use opened packets of construction paper, etc. perhaps by next year it might help some school a bit.

    MEA

  36. Rebecca says:

    Don’t stop writing, Sharon. We need you.
    It is rather breathtaking how fast this has all happened. Every time I go to the store now, I automatically throw some more rice and beans into the cart. I have the feeling I will need them sooner than I would like.

  37. Fern says:

    Speaking of end of oil doomer domme fashion – JMG’s Druid regalia is very nice. Even if he IS slow crash not fast crash.

    Fern

  38. Robyn M. says:

    I think the criticism of faulty comparison between the ways we could’ve spent $8 trillion versus how we *did* spend $8 trillion is missing the point. Yes, it’s true that all this money is all funny money, but this is a red herring–almost all the money we use is funny money. And of course it’s true that having spent all that money on social issues rather than on the banks may not have worked–it may well have created more problems than it solved.

    But the key issue is not that we could have fixed other problems with all that money and didn’t, or that all the money was just created ex nihilo. The issue is that it was unthinkable to our politicians to spend that kind of money even *trying* to improve our social safety net, but suddenly when the banks needed it, it’s amazing how fast it could be created. Or, to put it a different way, if we’re not willing to spend money in those excesses on our children, our health, our infrastructure, our overall social commonwealth, then why in the world are we willing to spend it on the banks? To me, the disconnect is both fundamental and disconcerting.

  39. Sololeum says:

    Great post Shazza – the additional point about the 8 trillion – it not only shows what we (collectively) did instead – but also shows that we won’t ever put in renewable infrastructure because after another round or so of “incentives” we will be so well and truly bankrupt that no more spending is possible….

    Good prophets do not and should not need to repeat themselves “ad nauseum” . its been said and if no one takes any notice it is there look out….

    Perhaps it will be more than plain old fashioned poverty though – our populations are self indulgent – non- resilient, low skilled and physically lazy – not your typical low income earner eh!!!

    There will be many demanding euthanasia due to the perceived insurmountable difficulties ahead…

    Cheers,

  40. Sharon says:

    Hi Folks – I don’t know if you remember that when Crunchy Chicken decided to quit blogging, I think she lasted 48 hours or so – I think I may have just beaten her record. This morning I was sick and tired of the analysis part, thinking I could just focus on gardens and food. But knowing me, I’m an addict – I probably won’t be able to change much.

    Robyn said pretty much my answer to J and Dewey – it is true, it is artificial money, and no we couldn’t come up with 8 trillion in cash – and yet think about it – think about how far we can get with funny money. Moreover, the funny money isn’t funny to everyone – that is, it really does affect our bond ratings and our capacity over the long term to serve the people.

    Sharon

  41. c says:

    You can’t stop writing! Just because your timing was off…no hit there since if you both knew the future and the timing you’d probably be playing wall street rather than writing against it.

    I want to see what you see in all of this, good, bad and ugly.

    Two things to remember:

    God does not follow the Wall Street journal – our economy is not His!
    He does not wear a wrist watch – our timing is not His!

    We have hope. We need to spread that hope now by loving our neighbors whomever they may be.

  42. madison says:

    Sharon,

    Please do not stop writing. You are fabulous! and greatly valued by many people, and you provide a much needed service. Every day I encourage people to go to your site because you are not (generally) a “grab your guns and MRE’s” site. You give clear consise information and that’s what is so needed. Let those who have ears, listen up!

    Cheers!

    madison

  43. Holly says:

    What does Nostradamus say about Peak Oil ? … or whatever he might have termed it as… there has got to be some insight through him…

  44. Sharon says:

    I promise, I’m not going to stop writing. I even said so in the post. Don’t worry about that – I don’t think I could even if I wanted to!

    Sharon

  45. K Degler says:

    It breakes my heart to read of your gloom. For reasons too difficult to explain, I have known of this train wreck most of my life, and lived it out, complaining all along the way, to no avail. You have my compassion and my sympathy. Your sorrow is not unfounded. We are a betrayed people. But we can still be victorious by not caving in and standing tall and tough it out, knowing that not all will be with us at the end.

  46. Watcher says:

    What does it take for the nation of Ostriches to pull their head out of their buts…uh I mean the sand? I think about 10 more months. Also for the curious here is the direct link to the NH bill…http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/legislation/2009/hcr0006.html I have given up try to warn people and now focus on trying to get more prepared and more skills. I believe the collapse is too close to try and pull some heads out of the sand. I hope to help and teach people in the future but plan on hunkering down for the worst of the storm. I have but best wishes for all but for now..lol don’t come knocking on my door you will not like the response. There is some “scary” legislation running around in our government as we speak. Anyone interested just take a look at some of the bills in “our senate and congress”

    Watcher

  47. Sylvia says:

    Here’s what I wonder. We’ve spent decades growing an economy that seems to revolve around buying and selling fancy (stupid) plastic widgets that are designed to break in 3 months, with pretend money, ie credit. Many of us have been complaining for years about the planet- and soul-destructive craziness of this situation. Now people are realizing that they don’t need stupid plastic widgets, and the widgets they do need, they don’t want them to break in 3 months. The widget-related job losses hurt, and the changes hurt, and the planet is still warming. But isn’t there a way we could get our heads out of the sand and not try to force dying industries (and banks) into zombie-dom? Can’t we decide, hey, a shoe repair business, or rooftop gardener or homeschool intructor gig, or any number of other things, make sense and be less wasteful and ridiculous than say, new car salesman, or selling expensive clothing? And then, in turn, employ others in those businesses?
    As an imperfect example, although it’s not exactly low-impact (although he sure tries), my husband is a self-employed chemist and created his whole lab out of used machines and materials (glassware, etc) that he scavenged for pennies on the dollar in Silicon Valley. He didn’t use or need any loan to start his business, because he saw the waste all around and knew it shouldn’t be that way. It’s worked and kept his costs down, but now we’re again starting trying to figure out another, less-impactful, more adaptable way/place to live and it feels pretty overwhelming. But it will happen, and thanks to being forewarned by you and others, we are forearmed.

    I’m not making light, although the point I make is simple. I just got the horrible news that a friend’s brother with small children was going through a divorce, then lost his job which apparently was the last straw- he then killed himself. I am so sad. But also angry.
    I know change is hard. But maybe we HAVE SOME CHOICES left. I heard on the news the other day that some governments didn’t have cash, so were bartering goods with each other. The reporter sounded alarmed. I thought, “So what? Sounds like a good idea to me! What’s wrong with barter?” So, a stimulus to retrain workers into jobs that actually make sense given today’s reality- that I’d get behind. And I don’t necessarily mean solar tech, but the simpler things that you, Sharon, and some others have been telling us for quite a while we need to learn and do. It looks like the government isn’t going to do this for us, or in any case, I’m not going to wait to find out. But perhaps, your writing helps start chains of people out to find their current and future way they will live, and make a living. (As I’m currently remembering you wrote a post about this very thing a few weeks ago, I think.)
    As for the warming, well, that’s another matter. Not much choice there. Oh hell, as another poster said, I’m going stop talking and go practice baking bread. Or in my case, make yogurt.

  48. Bendito says:

    Sharon, found your blog after your credit article was posted on a forum. I read you almost every day. This is scary stuff, all of it, but the most resounding thing I have gotten from this blog is hope and that comes from You Know Who. And the comments are as good to read as the blog itself because it’s a community here.
    There has been disaster type stuff all around us in Arkansas due to the ice storm; still no water for some communities; they’ve had to open up the high schools so people can keep clean and they’ve had to truck in bottled water. Some elderly have died; one woman was found in the bathtub with ice on her skin.
    We all need a little hope sometimes. I’m starting a garden this year thanks to your encouragement; starting small is the way to go and then build up. I’m cooking a whole lot more at home now, too. Trying to change and leave this crazy modern American life that has turned into a lie.

  49. Laura says:

    Regarding the icestorms: People would not be out of food and water if they had stockpiled food and water as a regular part of their lifestyle. In other words, stock up BEFORE there is some “emergency” and keep the stockpile up-to-date at all times (and properly rotated)–day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, decade after decade. While busy stockpiling water and food, may as well toss lots of extra candles, matches, oil/oil lamps, sleeping bags, grill, charcoal, etc. in the cart.

    I can hole up in my home for a full three months before I have to venture outside–and that would be to use my Katadyn filter to “make” more clean water. I only have a three month supply of water and want to expand to a one year supply as I gather more containers.

    When it comes to food, I’m set for more than three years before I’d be forced to find more.

    Unprepared = suffer miserably and/or die

    Prepared = a bit uncomfortable, but not a big deal

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