The End of Employment

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raspberry-blower
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The End of Employment

Post by raspberry-blower »

Another interesting read from the Archdruid that probably won't be news to anyone on this board (trolls excepted :D ) :
John Michael Greer wrote:Let’s begin with the big picture. In any human society, whether it’s a tribe of hunter-gatherers, an industrial nation-state, or anything else, people apply energy to raw materials to produce goods and services; this is what we mean by the word “economy.” The goods and services that any economy can produce are strictly limited by the energy sources and raw materials that it can access.




A principle that ecologists call Liebig’s law of the minimum is relevant here: the amount of anything that a given species or ecosystem can produce in a given place and time is limited by whichever resource is in shortest supply. Most people get that when thinking about the nonhuman world; it makes sense that plants can’t use extra sunlight to make up for a shortage of water, and that you can’t treat soil deficient in phosphates by adding extra nitrates. It’s when you apply this same logic to human societies that the mental gears jam up, because we’ve been told so often that one resource can always be substituted for another that most people believe it without a second thought


The End of Employment
A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools - Douglas Adams.
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UndercoverElephant
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Post by UndercoverElephant »

Yes, very good. Thanks for posting.
vtsnowedin
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Post by vtsnowedin »

UndercoverElephant wrote:Yes, very good. Thanks for posting.
Yes interesting if not ground breaking here. This part in his conclusion struck me as a bit off the current reality.
Playing by the rules of a dying economy, that is, is not a strategy with a high success rate or a long shelf life. Those of my readers who are still employed in the usual sense of the term may choose to hold onto that increasingly rare status, but it’s not wise for them to assume that such arrangements will last indefinitely; using the available money and other resources to get training, tools, and skills for some other way of getting by would probably be a wise strategy. Those of my readers who have already fallen through the widening cracks of the employment economy will have a harder row to hoe in many cases; for them, the crucial requirement is getting access to food, shelter, and other necessities while figuring out what to do next and getting through any learning curve that might be required.
He fails to account for the fact that at present those that become unemployed become wards of the welfare state and suffer little hardship compared to historic norms. On the day that the government can't pay out the welfare checks or recharge the EBT cards millions of people will suddenly become destitute and the riots will begin. [/quote]
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Ralph
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Post by Ralph »

"collapse early and avoid the rush", while catchy, doesn't quite match up with the reality that Greer tries to present. Has been presenting for what, 8 years now on his blog?

While his scheme seems really reasonable to those looking for a rationalization to become Amish, it doesn't solve the problem of the world having been grinding on for 8 years since he began blogging, waiting, for the collapse to arrive.
Greer from May of 2006 wrote: Since the late 1950s, scientists have been warning that what's left of our fossil fuel resources won't sustain our current industrial system indefinitely, much less support the Utopia of perpetual economic growth promised by pundits across the political spectrum. For the most part, these warnings have been roundly ignored. If they continue to be ignored until actual shortages begin, we may be in for a very ugly future.

That future may be closer than most people like to think, too.
Better part of a decade now….once upon a time it was oil, now it unemployment, always many words, always waiting, still waiting…and folks still pretending that repeating the same words, hoping for the same result, never getting it, is…what? While I understand gullibility, it has always confused me how smart people keep falling for something over and over and over again.
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Post by vtsnowedin »

Ralph wrote:"collapse early and avoid the rush", while catchy, doesn't quite match up with the reality that Greer tries to present. Has been presenting for what, 8 years now on his blog?

While his scheme seems really reasonable to those looking for a rationalization to become Amish, it doesn't solve the problem of the world having been grinding on for 8 years since he began blogging, waiting, for the collapse to arrive.
Greer from May of 2006 wrote: Since the late 1950s, scientists have been warning that what's left of our fossil fuel resources won't sustain our current industrial system indefinitely, much less support the Utopia of perpetual economic growth promised by pundits across the political spectrum. For the most part, these warnings have been roundly ignored. If they continue to be ignored until actual shortages begin, we may be in for a very ugly future.

That future may be closer than most people like to think, too.
Better part of a decade now….once upon a time it was oil, now it unemployment, always many words, always waiting, still waiting…and folks still pretending that repeating the same words, hoping for the same result, never getting it, is…what? While I understand gullibility, it has always confused me how smart people keep falling for something over and over and over again.
Some how you think a decade is sufficient to prove a fallacy in an economic theory. You need to think in centuries not years or decades. Of course you might not live to see a few more decades so might not see the final proof one way or the other but the fact that your predictions have not been disproved as of this date proves nothing.
boisdevie
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Post by boisdevie »

Unemployment is here to stay despite all those touchy feely feelgood stories in the media. Look at people in zero hours contracts, part-time and self employed (many of whom are earning sod all) and we have problems. I've been employed/unemployed for years but it doesn't bother me that much because:
1. I have no debt.
2. I can grow lots of food.
3. I spend very little.
4. The state gives me some money when I'm not in work.

If condition 4 continues to apply (a big if) then I'll be OK. But when society starts to fall apart around the edges (unemployment benefit, healthcare) then my pleasant little life will get a lot harder.
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Post by RenewableCandy »

Ralph wrote:Better part of a decade now….once upon a time it was oil, now it unemployment, always many words, always waiting, still waiting…and folks still pretending that repeating the same words, hoping for the same result, never getting it, is…what? While I understand gullibility, it has always confused me how smart people keep falling for something over and over and over again.

Oh come ON...haven't you got the latest data about food prices (ever upwards) unemployment (ditto) energy costs (ever upwards but with the occasional fall when a new section of the population becomes "demand destroyed"), land price/labour wage ration (ever upwards), number of your compatriots having to live in tents/cars/on-the-run (ditto)..I could go on?

The Archdruid may sound at times like a prolix olde git but he speaketh sense: getting out of debt, and learning how to provide yourself with some of life's necessities, is the smart thing to do right now, even if things don't get any worse than they already are.
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Ralph
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Post by Ralph »

vtsnowedin wrote:Some how you think a decade is sufficient to prove a fallacy in an economic theory.
I didn't see Greer using any cost/supply/demand/price curves to enunciate an economic theory…did you? Just eloquent arm waving, and the use of the phrase, "the future might be closer than people think"…..8 years ago?

Well I have news, THAT future…can now be the past because Greer doesn't get a pass on defining "closer than people think" when obviously people thought things like peak oil happened years and years ago.

And then it didn't.


And instead of pitching the oil fear meme now, he has moved on to other things. Nothing wrong with that mind you, he isn't the only one claiming gloom and doom..but his kind are fewer in number as websites tuck tail and run, folks kill themselves or become astrologists, or switch topics and now claim all the same consequences from something else, like climate change or immigration or water or yet MORE resource wars.
vtsnowedin wrote: You need to think in centuries not years or decades. Of course you might not live to see a few more decades so might not see the final proof one way or the other but the fact that your predictions have not been disproved as of this date proves nothing.
I can do better than that. I can think in terms of sustainability being an illusion of time, including the sustainability of the entire planet. Centuries for humans? Big deal. That is not the kind of close in collapse that Greer is pimping in his hobby amish sort of way. The kind of collapse you are talking about, unlike him, won't necessarily bother any of us in the least.

And that isn't the kind of collapse Doomers dream of. They aren't buying bunkers to save their 6th generation of descendants now are they? They don't need bug out bags for collapse after they are dead. They don't need to grow gardens to feed themselves, hell, you could argue that your timeframe of collapse means that the best thing to do is invest wisely, build BAU wealth to afford living in rich folks protection from poor folks as collapse is happening a century or two from now. Greer's own hobby-amish routine is just as meaningless, if he really means a century or more from now.
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Ralph
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Post by Ralph »

RenewableCandy wrote:
Ralph wrote:Better part of a decade now….once upon a time it was oil, now it unemployment, always many words, always waiting, still waiting…and folks still pretending that repeating the same words, hoping for the same result, never getting it, is…what? While I understand gullibility, it has always confused me how smart people keep falling for something over and over and over again.

Oh come ON...haven't you got the latest data about food prices (ever upwards) unemployment (ditto) energy costs (ever upwards but with the occasional fall when a new section of the population becomes "demand destroyed"), land price/labour wage ration (ever upwards), number of your compatriots having to live in tents/cars/on-the-run (ditto)..I could go on?
Perhaps you have never heard of inflation? It was going on before you were born, and will continue after you are dead. Don't like unemployment? I recommend a degree in engineering or geology and I imagine there is a 6 figure income for those who have the spine to be an oil field employee, rather than those who whine because they can't make a 6 figure income growing a garden. The market determines value, if you cannot acquire a skill of value, I recommend a reality TV show or some such for those who didn't study enough math and science while in school.

And when I see the populations of folks claimed by Duncan and his Olduvai Gorge theory showing up in Great Depression style breadlines, I'll let you know. So far the homeless don't look in any more evidence than they did back in the 90's. Or early 2000's. Or now.

America is undoubtedly more dog eat dog than Europe, and it shows in all sorts of ways. Mostly it seems like a symptom of those not willing to get off their backsides, rather than hoping that America will save you from bad politic choices.

The crisis in Ukraine underscores the need for the European Union to consider imports of natural gas from the U.S. and development of domestic resources to diversify supplies, President Barack Obama said.


http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-03-2 ... ports.html
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Post by vtsnowedin »

Ralph wrote:
vtsnowedin wrote:Some how you think a decade is sufficient to prove a fallacy in an economic theory.
I didn't see Greer using any cost/supply/demand/price curves to enunciate an economic theory…did you? Just eloquent arm waving, and the use of the phrase, "the future might be closer than people think"…..8 years ago?

Well I have news, THAT future…can now be the past because Greer doesn't get a pass on defining "closer than people think" when obviously people thought things like peak oil happened years and years ago.

And then it didn't.


And instead of pitching the oil fear meme now, he has moved on to other things. Nothing wrong with that mind you, he isn't the only one claiming gloom and doom..but his kind are fewer in number as websites tuck tail and run, folks kill themselves or become astrologists, or switch topics and now claim all the same consequences from something else, like climate change or immigration or water or yet MORE resource wars.
vtsnowedin wrote: You need to think in centuries not years or decades. Of course you might not live to see a few more decades so might not see the final proof one way or the other but the fact that your predictions have not been disproved as of this date proves nothing.
I can do better than that. I can think in terms of sustainability being an illusion of time, including the sustainability of the entire planet. Centuries for humans? Big deal. That is not the kind of close in collapse that Greer is pimping in his hobby amish sort of way. The kind of collapse you are talking about, unlike him, won't necessarily bother any of us in the least.

And that isn't the kind of collapse Doomers dream of. They aren't buying bunkers to save their 6th generation of descendants now are they? They don't need bug out bags for collapse after they are dead. They don't need to grow gardens to feed themselves, hell, you could argue that your timeframe of collapse means that the best thing to do is invest wisely, build BAU wealth to afford living in rich folks protection from poor folks as collapse is happening a century or two from now. Greer's own hobby-amish routine is just as meaningless, if he really means a century or more from now.
You misunderstand me Ralph. I'm not saying that collapse caused by peak oil will take decades or a century but rather that the exact beginning of collapse might be decades or (rather unlikely) a century away. Once started I think most governments will fail miserably dealing with the consequences within a year or two and civil war and starvation will be rampant. More then a bit doomerish I know but I have yet to see any alternative course that is remotely plausible giving the realities of human nature.
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Post by Tarrel »

I think it was Greer, in "The Long Descent", who described collapse as like tumbling down a mountainside. It happens in fits and starts, gathering momentum but with some plateaus and even some bouncing back.

Are we in collapse now? Depends on where you define the high point of industrial civilisation as having been, I suppose. I was chatting with someone the other day and we were musing on how much easier it seemed to be to get big things done back in the 50's / 60's. Think nuclear power stations, space programme, Concorde, Interstate Highway System, etc. This was also a time when a man could have a blue-collar job and earn enough single-handedly to keep himself and his family safe, well-fed and comfortable. Was that the high point?

Interestingly, I think this was when the EROEI of our fossil fuel extraction would have been at its highest.
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Post by UndercoverElephant »

Tarrel wrote: Are we in collapse now? Depends on where you define the high point of industrial civilisation as having been, I suppose. I was chatting with someone the other day and we were musing on how much easier it seemed to be to get big things done back in the 50's / 60's. Think nuclear power stations, space programme, Concorde, Interstate Highway System, etc. This was also a time when a man could have a blue-collar job and earn enough single-handedly to keep himself and his family safe, well-fed and comfortable. Was that the high point?
You could put the high point anywhere between 60's America and much of the developed world at the turn of the century, depending on how you measure it. Are we in collapse now? I think it is now absolutely certain that we have passed "peak living standards", at least if you include in "living standards" realistic access to things like higher education, the expectation of a decent pension (and what you retirement age is likely to be) and the cost of buying land and property. Even compared to the life chances I got (I'm 45), young people today who are stating out in a similar position to me regarding their class and natural abilities (bottom end of middle class, but intelligent/capable) are already a lot worse off, and this situation is only going to deteriorate. Some things might still get better, because improvements in technology may still offset some of the other declines, but the general story from now on will be falling living standards.

This process is well under way in the old "West". In Asia the situation is not so clear, because there is a relative shift of power/wealth from west to east. However, rising population levels and decreasing global access to resources (plus other factors I don't need to list) will ensure that peak average living standards in China will also happen soon if it has not already.

So the answer is yes. We are in the early stages of collapse.
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Post by Ralph »

vtsnowedin wrote: You misunderstand me Ralph. I'm not saying that collapse caused by peak oil will take decades or a century but rather that the exact beginning of collapse might be decades or (rather unlikely) a century away.
Well, if we are talking about such a slow motion collapse, how about it already happened? Let us pin it to the need for two earner incomes to survive "middle class" in America? Seems reasonable doesn't it? And it reflects the change in purchasing power as the American dollar slowly spins down.

Again, none of this requires the idiot oil connection that some want to pretend is the Holy Grail of collapse.
vtsnowedin wrote: Once started I think most governments will fail miserably dealing with the consequences within a year or two and civil war and starvation will be rampant.
See…if we go with slow collapse because of two earners, we don't get starvation the next year. Hell…we don't have starvation in Greece yet do we? Or Japan as their population demographics shifted?

The entire starvation meme seems a bit tired, because we just can't get a good one kicked off, this was an Ehrlich claim way back in the late 60's, and it didn't work out either.
vtsnowedin wrote: More then a bit doomerish I know but I have yet to see any alternative course that is remotely plausible giving the realities of human nature.
Good thing it might take place a century or more out then I guess. :?
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Post by RenewableCandy »

Ralph wrote:
RenewableCandy wrote:
Ralph wrote:Better part of a decade now….once upon a time it was oil, now it unemployment, always many words, always waiting, still waiting…and folks still pretending that repeating the same words, hoping for the same result, never getting it, is…what? While I understand gullibility, it has always confused me how smart people keep falling for something over and over and over again.

Oh come ON...haven't you got the latest data about food prices (ever upwards) unemployment (ditto) energy costs (ever upwards but with the occasional fall when a new section of the population becomes "demand destroyed"), land price/labour wage ration (ever upwards), number of your compatriots having to live in tents/cars/on-the-run (ditto)..I could go on?
<yet more condescending twaddle implying, among other things, that the whole world can go and get a degree in Geology/Engineering if it could only be arsed>
I take it that's a "no", then :roll:
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Post by Lord Beria3 »

UndercoverElephant wrote:
Tarrel wrote: Are we in collapse now? Depends on where you define the high point of industrial civilisation as having been, I suppose. I was chatting with someone the other day and we were musing on how much easier it seemed to be to get big things done back in the 50's / 60's. Think nuclear power stations, space programme, Concorde, Interstate Highway System, etc. This was also a time when a man could have a blue-collar job and earn enough single-handedly to keep himself and his family safe, well-fed and comfortable. Was that the high point?
You could put the high point anywhere between 60's America and much of the developed world at the turn of the century, depending on how you measure it. Are we in collapse now? I think it is now absolutely certain that we have passed "peak living standards", at least if you include in "living standards" realistic access to things like higher education, the expectation of a decent pension (and what you retirement age is likely to be) and the cost of buying land and property. Even compared to the life chances I got (I'm 45), young people today who are stating out in a similar position to me regarding their class and natural abilities (bottom end of middle class, but intelligent/capable) are already a lot worse off, and this situation is only going to deteriorate. Some things might still get better, because improvements in technology may still offset some of the other declines, but the general story from now on will be falling living standards.

This process is well under way in the old "West". In Asia the situation is not so clear, because there is a relative shift of power/wealth from west to east. However, rising population levels and decreasing global access to resources (plus other factors I don't need to list) will ensure that peak average living standards in China will also happen soon if it has not already.

So the answer is yes. We are in the early stages of collapse.
Agreed UE.

My understanding of what Greer is saying is that it makes sense to cut your debts, develop alternative income streams, try to save money and keep your costs down through various ways like growing food, being frugal, enjoying free stuff etc.

Where I slightly disagree with him is where he suggests quitting the mainstream white-collar economy. For some, those already with mortgages, family commitments, it really is just not realistic.

For others like me, who are not really the 'practical' type, white-collar jobs are the logical place to work in and are well paid. I intend to ride this wave as long as I can and use the money I earn to save, invest and in the longer term pay of my mortgage. Hopefully by the time those industries finally shrink/collapse I will be in a position to be ready to survive on my modest alternative income streams.

They key is to live a frugal life, even on a good wage. Greer seems to think that there is a contradiction there. It is true that most on good wages spent lots on nice cars, etc but it doesn't have to be that way.
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