Understanding Our Pandemic – Economy Predicament

The world’s number one problem today is that the world’s population is too large for its resource base. Some people have called this situation overshoot. The world economy is ripe for a major change, such as the current pandemic, to bring the situation into balance. The change doesn’t necessarily come from the coronavirus itself. Instead, it is likely to come from the whole chain reaction that has been started by the coronavirus and the response of governments around the world to the coronavirus.

Let me explain more about what is happening.

[1] The world economy is reaching Limits to Growth, as described in the book with a similar title.

One way of seeing the predicament we are in is the modeling of resource consumption and population growth described in the 1972 book, The Limits to Growth, by Donella Meadows et al. Its base scenario seems to suggest that the world will reach limits about now. Chart 1 shows the base forecast from that book, together with a line I added giving my impression of where the economy really was in 2019, relative to resource availability.

Figure 1. Base scenario from 1972 Limits to Growth, printed using today’s graphics by Charles Hall and John Day in “Revisiting Limits to Growth After Peak Oil,” with dotted line added corresponding to where the world economy seems to be in 2019.

In 2019, the world economy seemed to be very close to starting a downhill trajectory. Now, it appears to me that we have reached the turning point and are on our way down. The pandemic is the catalyst for this change to a downward trend. It certainly is not the whole cause of the change. If the underlying dynamics had not been in place, the impact of the virus would likely have been much less.

The 1972 model leaves out two important parts of the economy that probably make the downhill trajectory steeper than shown in Figure 1. First, the model leaves out debt and, in fact, the whole financial system. After the 2008 crisis, many people strongly suspected that the financial system would play an important role as we reach the limits of a finite world because debt defaults are likely to disturb the worldwide financial system.

The model also leaves out humans’ continual battle with pathogens. The problem with pathogens becomes greater as world population becomes denser, facilitating transmission. The problem also becomes greater as a larger share of the population becomes more susceptible, either because they are elderly or because they have underlying health conditions that have been hidden by an increasingly complex and expensive medical system.

As a result, we cannot really believe the part of Figure 1 that is after 2020. The future downslopes of population, industrial production per capita, and food per capita all seem likely to be steeper than shown on the chart because both the debt and pathogen problems are likely to increase the speed at which the economy declines.

[2] It is far more than the population that has overshot limits.

The issue isn’t simply that there are too many people relative to resources. The world seems to have

  • Too many shopping malls and stores
  • Too many businesses of all kinds, with many not very profitable for their owners
  • Governments with too extensive programs, which taxpayers cannot really afford
  • Too much debt
  • An unaffordable amount of pension promises
  • Too low interest rates
  • Too many people with low wages or no wages at all
  • Too expensive a healthcare system
  • Too expensive an educational system

The world economy needs to shrink back in many ways at once, simultaneously, to manage within its resource limits. It is not clear how much of an economy (or multiple smaller economies) will be left after this shrinkage occurs.

[3] The economy is in many ways like the human body. In physics terms, both are dissipative structures. They are both self-organizing systems powered by energy (food for humans; a mixture of energy products including oil, coal, natural gas, burned biomass and electricity for the economy).

The human body will try to fix minor problems. For example, if someone’s hand is cut, blood will tend to clot to prevent too much blood loss, and skin will tend to grow to substitute for the missing skin. Similarly, if businesses in an area disappear because of a tornado, the prior owners will either tend to rebuild them or new businesses will tend to come in to replace them, as long as adequate resources are available.

In both systems, there is a point beyond which problems cannot be fixed, however. We know that many people die in car accidents if injuries are too serious, for example. Similarly, the world economy may “collapse” if conditions deviate too far from what is necessary for economic growth to continue. In fact, at this point, the world economy may be so close to the edge with respect to resources, particularly energy resources, that even a minor pandemic could push the world economy into a permanent cycle of contraction.

[4] World governments are in a poor position to fix the current resource and pandemic crisis.

In our networked economy, too low a resource base relative to population manifests itself in a strange way: It appears as an affordability crisis that leads to very low prices for oil. It also appears as terribly low prices for many other commodities, including copper, lithium, coal and even wholesale electricity. These low prices occur because too large a share of the population cannot afford finished goods, such as cars and homes, made with these commodities. Recent shutdowns have suddenly increased the number of people with low income or no income, pushing commodity prices even lower.

If resources were more plentiful and very inexpensive to produce, as they were 50 or 70 years ago, wages of workers could be much higher, relative to the cost of resources. Factory workers would be able to afford to buy vehicles, for example, and thus help keep the demand for automobiles up. If we look more deeply into this, we find that energy resources of many kinds (fossil fuel energy, nuclear energy, burned biomass and other renewable energy) must be extraordinarily cheap and abundant to keep the system growing. Without “surplus energy” from many sources, which grows with population, the whole system tends to collapse.

World governments cannot print resources. What they can print is debt. Debt can be viewed as a promise of future goods and services, whether or not it is reasonable to believe that these future goods and services will actually materialize, given resource constraints.

We are finding that using shutdowns to solve COVID-19 problems causes a huge amount of economic damage. The cost of mitigating this damage seems to be unreasonably high. For example, in the United States, antibody studies suggest that roughly 5% of the population has been infected with COVID-19. The total number of deaths associated with this 5% infection level is perhaps 100,000, assuming that reported deaths to date (about 80,000) need to be increased somewhat, to match the approximately 5% of the population that has, knowingly or unknowingly, already experienced the infection.

If we estimate that the mean number of years of life lost is 13 years per person, then the total years of life lost would be about 1,300,000. If we estimate that the US treasury needed to borrow $3 trillion dollars to mitigate this damage, the cost per year of life lost is $3 trillion divided by 1.3 million, or $2.3 million per year of life lost. This amount is utterly absurd.

This approach is clearly not something the United States can scale up, as the share of the population affected by COVID-19 relentlessly rises from 5% to something like 70% or 80%, in the absence of a vaccine. We have no choice but to use a different approach.

[5] COVID-19 would have the least impact on the world economy if people could pay little attention to the pandemic and just “let it run.” Of course, even without mitigation attempts, COVID-19 might bring the world economy down, given the distressed level of today’s economy and the shutdowns experienced to date.

Shutting down an economy has a huge adverse impact on that economy because quite a few workers who are in good health are no longer able to make goods and services. As a result, they have no wages, so their “demand” goes way down. If the economy was already having an affordability crisis for goods made with commodities, shutting down the economy tends to greatly add to the affordability crisis. Prices of commodities tend to fall even lower than they were before the crisis.

Back in 1957-1958, the Asian pandemic, which also started in China, hit the world. The number of deaths was up in the range of the current pandemic, relative to population. The estimated worldwide death rate was 0.67%.  This is not too dissimilar from a death rate of 0.61% for COVID-19, which can be calculated using my estimate above (100,000 deaths relative to 5% of the US population of 33o million).

Virtually nothing was shut down in the US for the 1957-58 pandemic. When doctors or nurses became sick themselves, wards were simply closed. Would-be patients were told to stay at home and take aspirin, unless a severe case developed. With this approach, the US still faced a short recession, but the economy was soon growing again. Populations seemed to reach herd immunity quite quickly.

If the world could somehow have adopted a similar approach this time, there still would have been some adverse impact on the economy. A small percentage of the population would have died. Some businesses might have needed to be closed for a short time when too many workers were out sick. But the huge burden of job loss by a substantial share of the economy could have been avoided. The economy would have had at least a small chance of rebounding quickly.

[6] The virus that causes COVID-19 looks a great deal like a laboratory cross between SARS and HIV, making the likelihood of a quick vaccine low.

In fact, Professor Luc Montagnier, co-discoverer of the AIDS virus and winner of a Nobel Prize in Medicine, claims that the new coronavirus is the result of an attempt to manufacture a vaccine against the AIDS virus. He believes that the accidental release of this virus is what is causing today’s pandemic.

If COVID-19 were simply another influenza virus, similar to many we have seen, then getting a vaccine that would work passably well would be a relatively easy exercise. At least one of the vaccine trials that have been started could be reasonably expected to work, and a solution would not be far away.

Unfortunately, SARS and HIV are fairly different from influenza viruses. We have never found a vaccine for either one. If a person has had SARS once, and is later exposed to a slightly mutated version of SARS, the symptoms of the second infection seem to be worse than the first. This characteristic interferes with finding a suitable vaccine. We don’t know whether the virus causing COVID-19 will have a similar characteristic.

We know that scientists from a number of countries have been working on so-called “gain of function” experiments with viruses. These very risky experiments are aimed at making viruses either more virulent, or more transmissible, or both. In fact, experiments were going on in Wuhan, in two different laboratories, with viruses that seem to be not too different from the virus causing COVID-19.

We don’t know for certain whether there was an accident that caused the release of one of these gain of function viruses in Wuhan. We do know, however, that China has been doing a lot of cover-up activity to deter others from finding out what actually happened in Wuhan.

We also know that Dr. Fauci, a well-known COVID-19 advisor, had his hand in this Chinese research activity. Fauci’s organization, the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, provided partial funding for the gain of function experiments on bat coronaviruses in Wuhan. While the intent of the experiments seems to have been for the good of mankind, it would seem that Dr. Fauci’s judgment erred in the direction of allowing too much risk for the world’s population.

[7] We are probably kidding ourselves about ever being able to contain the virus that causes COVID-19. 

We are gradually learning that the virus causing COVID-19 is easily spread, even by people who do not show any symptoms of the disease. The virus can spread long distances through the air. Tests to see if people are ill tend to produce a lot of false negatives; because of this, it is close to impossible to know whether a particular person has the illness or not.

China is finding that it cannot really contain the virus that causes COVID-19. A recent South China Morning Post article indicates that roughly 14 million people are to be tested in the Wuhan area in the next ten days to try to control a new outbreak of the virus.

It is becoming clear, as well, that even within China, the lockdowns have had a very negative impact on the economy. The Wall Street Journal reports, China Economic Data Indicate V-Shaped Recovery Is Unlikely. Supply chains were broken; wholesale commodity prices (excluding food) have tended to fall. Joblessness is increasingly a problem.

[8] If we look at deaths per million by country, it is difficult to see that lockdowns are very helpful in reducing the spread of disease. Masks seem to be more beneficial.

If we compare death rates for mask-wearing East Asian countries to death rates elsewhere, we see that death rates in mask-wearing East Asian countries are dramatically lower.

Figure 2. Death rates per million population of selected countries with long-term exposure to the virus causing COVID-19, based on Johns Hopkins death data as of May 11, 2020.

Looking at the chart, a person almost wonders whether lockdowns are a response to requests from citizens to “do something” in response to an already evident surge in cases. The countries known for their severe lockdowns are at the top of the chart, not the bottom.

In fact, a preprint academic paper by Thomas Meunier is titled, “Full lockdown policies in Western Europe countries have no evident impacts on the COVID-19 epidemic.” The abstract says, “Comparing the trajectory of the epidemic before and after the lockdown, we find no evidence of any discontinuity in the growth rate, doubling time, or reproduction number trends.  .  . We also show that neighboring countries applying less restrictive social distancing measures (as opposed to police-enforced home containment) experience a very similar time evolution of the epidemic.”

It appears to me that lockdowns have been popular with governments around the world for a whole host of reasons that have little to do with the spread of COVID-19:

  • Lockdowns give an excuse for closing borders to visitors and goods from outside. This was a direction in which many countries were already headed, in an attempt to raise the wages of local workers.
  • Lockdowns can be used to hide the fact that factories need to be closed because of breaks in supply lines elsewhere in the world.
  • Many countries have been faced with governmental protests because of low wages compared to the prices of basic services. Lockdowns tend to keep protesters inside.
  • Lockdowns give the appearance of protecting the elderly. Since there are many elderly voters, politicians need to court these voters.

[9] A person wonders whether Dr. Fauci and members of the World Health Organization are influenced by the wishes of vaccine and big pharmaceutical companies.

The recommendation to try to “flatten the curve” is, in part, an attempt to give vaccine and pharmaceutical makers more time to work on their products. Is this really the best recommendation? Perhaps I am being overly suspicious, but we recently have been dealing with an opioid epidemic which was encouraged by manufacturers of Oxycontin and other opioids. We don’t need another similar experience, this time sponsored by vaccine and other pharmaceutical makers.

The temptation of researchers is to choose solutions that would be best from the point of their own business interests. If a researcher gets much of his funding from vaccine and big pharmaceutical interests, the temptation will be to “push” solutions that are beneficial to these interests. In some cases, researchers are able to patent approaches, even when the research is paid for by governmental grants. In this case they can directly benefit from a new vaccine or drug.

When potential solutions are discussed by Dr. Fauci and the World Health Organization, no one brings up improving people’s immunity so that they can better fight off the novel coronavirus. Few bring up masks. Instead, we keep being warned about “opening up too soon.” In a way, this sounds like, “Please leave us lots of customers who might be willing to pay a high price for our vaccine.”

[10] One way the combination of (a) the activity of the virus and (b) our responses to the virus may play out is as a slow-motion, controlled demolition of the world economy. 

I think of what we are experiencing as being somewhat similar to a toggle bolt going around and around, moving down a screw. As the toggle bolt moves around, I picture it as being similar to the virus and our responses to the viruses hitting different parts of the world economy.

Figure 3. Image of how the author sees COVID-19 as being able to hit the economy multiple times, in multiple ways, as its impact keeps impacting different parts of the world.

If we look back, the virus and reactions to the virus first hit China. China’s recovery is moving slowly, in part because of reduced demand from outside of China now that the virus is hitting other parts of the world. In fact, additional layoffs occurred after Chinese shutdowns ended, because it then became clear that some employers needed to permanently scale back operations to meet the new lower demand for their product.

Commodity prices, including oil prices, are now depressed because of low demand around the world. These low prices can be expected to gradually lead to closures of wells and mines extracting these commodities. Processing centers will also close, making these commodities less available even if demand temporarily rises.

As one country is hit by illnesses and/or shutdowns, we can expect supply lines for manufacturing around the world to be disrupted. This will lead to yet more business closures, some of them permanent. Debt defaults tend to happen as businesses close and layoffs occur.

With all of the layoffs, governments will find that their tax collections are lower. The resulting governmental funding issues can be expected to lead to new rounds of layoffs.

Natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes and forest fires can be expected to continue to happen. Social distancing requirements, inadequate tax revenue and broken supply lines will make mitigation of all of these disasters more difficult. Electrical lines that fall down may stay down permanently; bridges that are damaged may never be repaired.

Initially, rich countries can be expected to try to help as many laid-off workers as possible with loans and temporary stipends. But, after a few months, even with this approach, many individual citizens and businesses will likely not be able to pay their rent. Default rates on home mortgages and auto loans can be expected to rise for a similar reason.

We can expect to see round after round of business failures and layoffs of employees. Financial systems will become more and more stressed. Pensions are likely to default. Death rates will rise, in part from epidemics of various kinds and in part from growing problems with starvation. In fact, in some poor countries, lower-income citizens are already having difficulty being able to afford adequate food. Eventually we can expect collapsing governments (similar to the collapse of the central government of the Soviet Union) and overthrown governments.

Longer-term, after this demolition ends, there may be some surviving pieces of economies. These new economies will be much smaller and less dependent upon each other, however. Currencies are likely to be less interchangeable. The remaining people will need to learn to make do with many fewer goods than are available today. It will be a very different world.

About Gail Tverberg

My name is Gail Tverberg. I am an actuary interested in finite world issues - oil depletion, natural gas depletion, water shortages, and climate change. Oil limits look very different from what most expect, with high prices leading to recession, and low prices leading to financial problems for oil producers and for oil exporting countries. We are really dealing with a physics problem that affects many parts of the economy at once, including wages and the financial system. I try to look at the overall problem.
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3,868 Responses to Understanding Our Pandemic – Economy Predicament

  1. Harry McGibbs says:

    “When it comes to global debt crises Lee Buchheit thought he’d seen it all – until now. The international sovereign debt advisor has acted as a lawyer for countries on the brink of bankruptcy for decades.

    “As 100 countries ask for emergency assistance from the IMF due to the effects of COVID-19 on their economies, Buchheit tells Stephen Cole he struggles to compare the current economic climate to one previously because the situation is so unprecedented.

    “”This could be a systemic sovereign debt crisis of the kind we haven’t seen since the 1980s and perhaps it’ll even dwarf that one.””



  2. Harry McGibbs says:

    “Property owners who lease to Hertz received unwelcome news on May 19: Don’t expect rent from us for the next six months.

    “In a letter reviewed by Business Insider, Hertz wrote that “it will be deferring all Base Rent payments for six months.””


  3. Interguru says:

    “The problem also becomes greater as a larger share of the population becomes more susceptible, either because they are elderly or because they have underlying health conditions that have been hidden by an increasingly complex and expensive medical system.”

    A head-scratcher
    “By now it should be clear: We have no idea what is going on. Something is making the virus spare Rwandans and German-speaking Swiss and white Americans, while terrorizing Belgians and Italian-speaking Swiss and black Americans. If we can get the virus to pass over us all as if we were in the former categories, this long nightmare of a pandemic might end.”


    • Matthew Krajcik says:

      There was a theory that there are different variants of ACE2 receptors that people inherit. I can’t find it at the moment. Other than that, diet, lifestyle and lifetime exposure to anything that causes inflammation are likely contributors. FE must be disappointed that so many KFC Big Gulpers are African American.

      • Xabier says:

        What is the sinister truth about the Belgian diet, one wonders?

        Ethnically they are surely just Franco-Dutch? – just to upset any patriotic Flemings and Walloons out there 🙂

        • VFatalis says:

          Belgium is using a different report system which includes deaths that are possibly related to the virus but not necessarily confirmed, hence the high numbers.

        • Harry McGibbs says:

          “What is the sinister truth about the Belgian diet, one wonders?”

          Moules et frites, washed down with lots of lethally strong beer, and very rich chocolates for dessert, Xabier. 😂

          • Xabier says:

            Gosh, that sounds rather nice: I’ll go for the accounting method explanation above then…..

      • Robert Firth says:

        I remember the problems of some US blacks. Many of them were hard working, respectable people who took care of themselves and their families. The majority were not. The women took no exercise, were often morbidly obese, and had a terrible diet. The men were in high stress crime enclaves, and often using hard drugs. Of course, it didn’t help that they lived on the “democrat plantation”, which made no attempt to improve their lot, regarding them as welfare slaves and captive voters. And on top of that, add the rampant pollution of the inner cities.

    • frankly step-by-step says:

      I can only repeat it endlessly, there has long been a cure for the Corona Virus. Chlorine dioxide solution (CDS). All the talk about vaccines is completely unnecessary. Like the discussion why one is seriously ill with Coraona and someone else is not superfluous.
      As far as is known, CDL works on almost everyone.
      Since it is also made from two chemical raw materials and has many industrial uses, it is not patentable as a pharmaceutical and is therefore of no economic interest for pharmaceutical companies. Even more: it threatens their existence, as it is a real miracle cure for all possible viruses and bacteria and many diseases. And often not only helps, but completely heals them.
      I tried it myself to cure my arthritis. Taken a few days and the result is spectacular. My flexibility in my morning yoga exercises has increased so much that I have not been able to do otherwise in five years of intensive exercise.

      Anyone can take it. In principle, at least. You should be careful when taking blood thinners, since CDL also has this effect. And everyone can convince themselves of the harmlessness.
      A German doctor, Dr. Med. Antje Oswald published a book in 2016. The list of treatable diseases is very long.


      Unfortunately, as I see it, the book is not available outside of Germany. And not translated either.

      Who would like to try it out. Andreas Kalcker gives instructions on how to make it.
      In Germany, 0.3 percent chlorine dioxide solution can also be obtained from Internet retailers.
      He also gives advice on how to take it. Take a look at Andreas Kalcker’s homepage and read what he writes about it.


  4. ITEOTWAWKI says:

    Well it looks more and more like my call since 2013, that I would not see my 50th (July 2021) because of Global Economic Collapse, followed quickly by collapse of IC and the death of us all, might very well happen. Granted, if it happens, I will have had a little “luck” (that term does not quite sound right lol) with Covid-19. However, even without Covid-19, I was never going to be off by years…the idea of a slow collapse, in this HIGHLY specialized (and populated) world, where everybody is interconnected, never made any sense. Degrowth was a nice idea on paper….but any degrowth would have collapsed the system…anyway, my theory that the Global Economy has 2 speeds, Grow or Die, will be proven or unproven in the next few months since Global GDP is shrinking every day! Carpe Diem everybody, and now more than ever, enjoy your hot shower, going to sleep with a full stomach, and being able to still comment on OFW…If I’m right, those days are counted….

    • Marco Bruciati says:

      And still also with drinking water!)

    • CTG says:

      There are many people (including many here) who are looking forward to 5, 10 or even 20-year step down civilization collapse. There are also some who will say that “doomers are calling it for the last 30 or 50 years and see we are still here”. They will say “stop clock is right twice a day and your is never correct”.

      I have already accepted that different people have different level of “awareness” and once it hits the limit, they will never be able to understand or accept what you say, It is like a simulation or game that God is playing. Each person in the game, probably a NPC (non player character) can only understand up to the level the programming allows. Beyond that ,they just repeat what they are being programmed.

      Today, my friend told me that one of his friend’s colleague just died. A fitness fanatic, just dropped dead at the age of 55. Winston Churchill (as I was told by my dad, I never verify) died at age of 90. He smokes a lot, took at lot red meat and probably not into fitness. What is the disparity? No clue. As what people say “Only God knows”

      • ITEOTWAWKI says:

        CTG says:
        “I have already accepted that different people have different level of “awareness” and once it hits the limit, they will never be able to understand or accept what you say, It is like a simulation or game that God is playing. Each person in the game, probably a NPC (non player character) can only understand up to the level the programming allows. Beyond that ,they just repeat what they are being programmed.”

        Hi CTG, hope all is well. That is a very original way of looking at it. I have been thinking a lot lately as to what are the chances that our whole world is just a simulation, and when it ends, we will just take off our VR glasses and get back to real life, wherever that might be….maybe every single one of us…are just virtual Truman Burbanks….or a teenager’s VERY high-tech Sims game lol

      • Tim Groves says:

        While we’re on the subject of Winston Churchill, may i present a quotation of his on the subject of progress.

        “It is arguable whether the human race have been gainers by the march of science beyond the steam engine. Electricity opens a field of infinite conveniences to ever greater numbers, but they may well have to pay dearly for them. But anyhow in my thought I stop short of the internal combustion engine which has made the world so much smaller. Still more must we fear the consequences of entrusting to a human race so little different from their predecessors of the so-called barbarous ages such awful agencies as the atomic bomb. Give me the horse.”

        – Winston Churchill, 10 July 1951, Royal College of Physicians, London

      • Xabier says:

        Churchill always had pheasant and champagne when in season – which sounds eminently health-enhancing to me! – and was a very fit young man – a cavalry officer on (very) active service.

        So, dine with Olde Englishe style, and practice your sabre cuts and guards (like yours truly.)

    • Mark says:

      Central bank is printing 2.5 billion an hour. So, yea, maybe a year or so.

  5. CTG says:

    When Titanic hit the iceberg, there were no panic. Some people at the lower part of the ship died and some people who had firs-hand knowledge about this incident knew this was going to be a big disaster because the water kept on coming in. These people reported to the captain that the ship is in danger of sinking. The captain, who was so sure that the ship was unsinkable ignored them.

    Some people felt something was amiss like a sinking feeling (pun intended). Signs began to show that things were not right. Ship slowed, The decks felt like getting closer to the sea, some lights stopped working, more swaying and the ship listed a little.

    Over time, more and more people felt that was not right. Some went to the life boats, some said that this is nothing wrong with this unsinkable ship. Those who went to the lifeboats were labelled “chicken littles”

    As the sinking became more apparent, people panicked. Pandemonium. Chaos and in the last minutes, it is all gone.

    It took around 160 minutes from the time the titanic hit the iceberg to the sinking of the great ship.

    ** Not many people can quickly relate this to what is happpening now. The keyword is relate. It rhymes but it is not identical. Put in the correct pieces and you can see “what we see happening now” is what happened in Titanic.

    How long it takes to happen? Anyone guess but things accelerate very quickly in the end.

    For those who have followed me all these years. I said many times in the past. Human civilization is like a small boat in the bath tub. The plug was pulled and the water flowed out. The boat, at the farthest end from the drain plug will move slowly. When the water level goes lower and lower and the boat get closer and and closer to the drain plug, it goes faster and faster, round and round and in the last second, it just “plopped” and disappeared into the drain plug. A direct vertical drop.

    Our human civilization will follow the same way. So, where are we in the bath tub? No one knows but many know it is near.

    • ITEOTWAWKI says:

      Excellent as always CTG!

      Like I wrote a couple of months ago here, borrowing from Hemingway:

      “How did IC collapse?”

      “Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.”

      We are still in the “gradually” part….when will the “suddenly” part start, no one knows…but this fall should be VERY interesting….

      • Dennis L. says:


        The same can be said for almost anything, a pile of sand, a marriage, life itself. Are any of those falls very interesting for those involved? If a building is collapsing the trick is to get out of the way; standing around, waiting for it to fall upon you seems not very productive.

        All the best to all of you,

        Dennis L.

    • Dennis L. says:


      Some will unfortunately not make it, some will, some(perhaps parents) will give their lives so others can survive(life is pretty stubborn that way, death does not ultimately win for a population), each of us will be either lucky of unlucky, some of us will be a bit more determined than others. The only smart thing to do is if possible sink and ground your boat before it gets to the drain, break out a beer and kick back, tomorrow is another day. So now the question is, “How the hell do I get out of this bathtub?”

      Dennis L.

    • JMS says:

      Titanic is one of the best metaphors for human ingenuity and technological hubris. In the interpretation of the German writer Ernst Jünger, we live in a titanic world, in which the gods were defeated or withdrew from the human sphere. Where there are no gods, the titans (ie the technicians) step in to fill the gap and exercise their powers.
      Titanic can also be seen as a powerfull symbol of man’s blind confidence in progress, and of human capacity to deny any unpleasant evidence, such as an ongoing catastrophe.
      The great german poet Hans Magnus Enzensberger also wrote extensively on the subject in “The Sinking of the Titanic”. Great read for this days. Here it is the first canto:

      (Translated by Peter Lach-Newinsky)

      Someone is listening. He is waiting. He is holding
      his breath, very close by,
      here. He says: the person speaking there, that’s me.

      Never again, he says,
      will it be as quiet,
      as dry and warm as now.

      He hears himself
      in his droning head.
      There is no one there except for him

      who says: that must be me.
      I wait, hold my breath.
      Listen. The distant noise

      in my ears, these antennae
      of soft flesh, means nothing.
      It’s only the blood

      beating in my veins.
      I have been waiting a long time,
      breath held.

      White noise in the earphones
      of my time machine.
      Mute cosmic static.

      No knocking on the wall. No scream for help.
      No radio signal, nothing.
      Either it’s all over,

      I tell myself, or it has
      not yet begun.
      But now! Now

      a scraping sound. A creaking. A crack.
      This is it. An icy fingernail
      scratching at the door, stalling.

      Something is tearing.
      An endless length of canvas,
      a snow white strip of linen

      first slowly,
      then faster and ever faster,
      is rent in two, hissing.

      This is the beginning.
      Listen. Don’t you hear it?
      Hang on tight!

      Then it’s quiet again.
      Only in the cupboards
      a thin tinkle

      a trembling of crystal
      becoming weaker,
      dying away.

      That was it.
      Was that it? Yes,
      that must have been it.

      That was the beginning.
      The beginning of the end
      is always discreet.

      It is eleven forty
      on board. The steel skin
      under the waterline gapes

      two hundred metres long
      slit open
      by an unimaginable knife.

      The water is shooting into the bulkheads.
      Past the glittering hull
      glides, thirty metres

      above sea level, black
      and silent, the iceberg,
      and is left behind in the dark.

      • Dennis L. says:

        Groan, more nihilists,

        Not everyone on the Titanic died, a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, there were many more ships built, few of them sank(please, I know the Andrea Doria, a bit of gallows humor, Italian drivers) after that. Take big risks(the line that built the Titanic), take more big risks to make it work. It has always been this way. When a Titanic sinks, blame the captain, blame everyone who took a risk, when it wins envy the winners and spend time imagining all the horrible things that could have gone wrong. The metaphor for that is “Chicken Little.”

        Sometimes I find it entertaining to check in, see how many have predicted this is the day we all die and cause myself to be ever more determined not to join that group. Think of it as purchasing a ticket for an ocean voyage, chose one’s ship carefully, only one ship hit an iceberg that day, chose a different ship but dare to live and make the trip.

        Last paragraph, “and it is left behind in the dark.” Light a damn candle, read a book, read out loud, eat a sandwich, share some of same, wait for rescue with a positive mental attitude(that line is from a Jame Bond movie, don’t remember which, James passed the time in a passably pleasant manner while conserving body heat.)

        Dennis L.

        • JMS says:

          All kinds of mental attitudes are needed to make a (globalized) world. The attitude of the audacious individual contrasts with that of the prudent and pessimist one. In his great poem about the portuguese discoveries, Camões did not forget to portray the mental attitude of the prudent and pessimist, who saw in all that venture nothing more than “craving of command and vain desire”. I always sympathized with the grunting pessimism and bleak vison of the Old Man of Restelo:

          “‘Oh craving of command! Oh vain Desire!
          of vainest van’ity man miscalleth Fame!
          Oh fraudulent gust, so easy fanned to fire
          by breath of vulgar, aping Honour’s name!
          What just and dreadful judgment deals thine ire,
          to seely souls who overlove thy claim!
          What deaths, what direful risks, what agonies
          wherewith thou guerd’onest them, thy fitting prize!

          They hail thee noble, and they hail thee chief,
          though digne of all indignities thou be;
          they call thee Fame and Glory sovereign,
          words, words, the heart of silly herd to gain!

          “‘What new disaster dost thou here design?
          What horror for our realm and race invent?
          What unheard dangers or what deaths condign,
          veiled by some name that soundeth excellent?
          What bribe of gorgeous reign, and golden mine,
          whose ready offer is so rarely meant?
          What Fame hast promised them? what pride of story?
          What palms? what triumphs? what victorious glory?


          • Lidia17 says:

            “What horror for our realm and race invent?”
            Love that phrase.. wish I had that to hand when I was supposed to be studying at university and working on some kind of horrendous GMO. I was a solitary skeptic.

        • Lidia17 says:

          The “Stockdale Paradox” has been making the rounds.

          In a discussion with Collins for his book, Stockdale speaks about how the optimists fared in camp. The dialogue goes:

          “Who didn’t make it out?”
          “Oh, that’s easy,” he said. “The optimists.”
          “The optimists? I don’t understand,” I said, now completely confused, given what he’d said a hundred meters earlier.
          “The optimists. Oh, they were the ones who said, ‘We’re going to be out by Christmas.’ And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they’d say,’We’re going to be out by Easter.’ And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.”


      • Xabier says:

        It’s why I like Spanish and Scandi-Germanic heroic literature – on the whole unremittingly tragic, which is always truer to life than our feeble, techno-hubristic, TED Talk, fantasies: ‘Collapse? I got an app for that!’

        Or shall we go back to Troy?

        • JMS says:

          The ancients were not drunk on oil (only on faith, honor, greed…) and then it didn’t even cross their minds to pose as demigods. They were aware of limits and of the precariousness of human experience. And they were so familiar with failure and disappointment that they could even see them as allies – a thought that would hardly occur in a contemporary mind. I have always sympathized more with these ancient skeptics and pessimists than with the brilliant triumphant optimism of the moderns.

    • Robert Firth says:

      CTG, I strongly recommend Walter Lord’s “A Night to Remember”, and the 1958 movie of the same name. They are historically accurate, unlike the wretched diCaprio remake. (I did think that if he had thrown Kate Winslet off the ship, the sinking might have been averted)

    • rufustiresias999 says:

      The difference is : There is no lifeboat! A bunker in NZ? A very isolated tropical island where fruits grow naturally, fresh water flows out of springs and you can fish fresh sea food ?

    • We are indeed on a new version of the titanic, assuming today’s technology will save us.

  6. CTG says:

    “Minneapolis Is Burning” – Buildings Torched, Stores Looted, Protests Over George Floyd Intensify


    Is this a one-time event like the past (Ferguson?) or will it continue or intensify?

    • Mark says:

      More like a daily event.

      • Kim says:

        Not even remotely “a daily event.” Far more white people are killed by police than black people. In 2017, for example, the figure was 457 whites shot dead and 223 black. Was that “institutional racism” against whites?

        And note well, when we look at these statistics, that the overall figures for black violent crime leave other races in the dust, to the point that one wonders why more blacks aren’t shot “in the line of crime”..


        These figures are thorough, fascinating and hair-raising. The relative rates of black crime are simply astonishing.

        12% of the population, 55% of the murders, – blacks are 8.5 times more likely to murder than whites – 35% of the rapes, 60% of the robberies (over half of these robberies are of whites).

        Anyway, I won’t go through the article for you. If you are sincere, you can at least browse it for yourself but it is a treasure trove of real (not fake) information that you will not see reported (rather, it is suppressed) in your daily FakeMedia.

        • Mark says:

          Thanks, it was just a loose comment, and reminded me of that video I saw a while ago.

    • Matthew Krajcik says:

      Today, the protest against the police has moved over to St. Paul, where they are getting revenge on Target, T-Mobile, TJ Max and Foot Locker: https://youtu.be/TsnEis-U65o

  7. CTG says:

    For those who are doing the staircase collapse, what do you expect from each staircase? Drop in quality of life? Other foreign countries disappear? No jobs? How do you define it in your way of life? The 2008 GFC1 is it a stair case drop? Does it impact you? If it impacted you, did it make it very bad or just a little bad? Are any of your friends or people you know went from good to very bad and then gone(dead perhaps?) How does that stair case go? If you are impacted badly, then that is the last step in the staircase. If you are rich and not impacted, then, there are probably many steps left. As a society on the whole, it is a gradual descend, it is not in step wise because some people in the society or community or country are not impacted and some are totally devastated. As the population increases, the number of people around your social strata increases, you might or might not be able to see it clearly but the country as a whole, will glide down until at one point of time, it disintegrates like Iraq, Yemen, etc. Some countries are already close – South Africa perhaps? Tunisia, Egypt, Ghana, Ethiopia? Nigeria? Italy? Greece?

    The supply chain is not concerned about stair case collapse. It is either a “go” or “no go”. Take a tooth brush. It is made of plastics. What is plastic made of? Oil. The raw material of plastic is derived from distillation process. Distillation requires the complete BAU to function – computers, aluminum, steel, knowledge workers (engineers, technicians), which means universities, colleges and a functioning banking sector. The computers that is used to control the process has also a large network of supplies.

    The formation of toothbrush (molding, ec) is also requires another set of machines from molding machines to stamping, making bristles. Again, they require the full complement of BAU.

    So, I am not sure how a stair case collapse look like. Does it mean that sometimes you can find a toothbrush and sometimes you cannot? or perhaps the tooth brush gets shorter or flimsier because the stair case collapse causes quality issue? Perhaps like living in Yemen where you have toothbrush before the war and now, you cannot find toothbrush at all? Or does it mean that your neighbouring countries cannot obtain toothbrushes and it is a small step down but you are still ok?

    It would be good if any of those who prescribe to stair case of collapse explain it here how, in your opinion should work? This is different from technology ladder. The higher you go, the “better” it may look but at the end, it is bad. With new technology, you throw away the old technology. If by luck, a vintage unopened Motorola first generation cell phone or a telex machine dropped down to your lap, can you make it work? Not at all. So, our society cannot function at all if we are asked to go back to the previous technology. Stair case collapse cannot happen here.

    • Dennis L. says:


      There was a movie in which the line was “You are going up the down staircase.”

      Me, I am going up the down staircase, if it is a voyage to nowhere anyway, those going down get their first. I shall take a candle, a book and a sandwich when I arrive at the top, sit down, light said candle, read and if lucky, share said sandwich and if really lucky conserve bodily heat. There might just be another chapter, or go down with a bit of enlightment(literal and metaphorical), a partially full stomach and perhaps a bit of warmth.

      It happened in the movies, that makes it real, doesn’t it?

      Dennis L.

    • Xabier says:

      Yes, it’s an opaque and rather unhelpful term. How can it be applied to industrial civilization?

      When Rome collapsed in the West, the mass of people didn’t bump down the stairs, eventually landing in a heap at the bottom.

      It was more a case of the people outside the house and in the barns and hovels surrounding it carried on doing pretty much the same things, while the villa burned down or disintegrated when the roof was no longer repaired.

      This cannot be our fate, as we have advanced too far in urbanisation, industrialisation and specialisation.

    • Stevie says:

      It will be a stair step down like 2008 GFC, but worse. Even if not immediately impacted, effect will be felt in diminished job prospects, ever more stagnant wages if not pay cuts, rising costs for essentials, higher taxes, heavier workloads, less overall prosperity. Since GFC 2008 even those with graduate degrees had earnings fall compared to counterparts 20 years earlier. Good quality full time jobs have been steadily vanishing and don’t recover. Almost no one escaped, and GFC Covid-19 will hit harder. Only a narrow slice at the top will go unscathed.

    • Matthew Krajcik says:

      I think its more like triage, or amputating frost bitten extremities. If we stabilize at a lower rate, it is without much tourism, no cruise ships, less air travel – we’re already down 90% but still around 10,000 per day coming and going in Canada as “essential” travel only. Maybe down 75% GDP by end of year.

      How long do we stay on that step? Months? Years? I think if China holds together, Canada can go a long time as long as we can trade with China, at -75% of 2019 GDP.

      Countries that need all their food imported and have almost nothing but tourism and finance will probably be screwed. Hawaii might need to offload 75 to 90% of their population, for example.

    • Lidia17 says:

      Is this a serious question? I could write all day on this topic.

      Toothbrushes: on Amazon one can buy natural fibrous sticks (“miswak”) to chew upon. Probably more people in Yemen use something like that as opposed to modern plastic toothbrushes. The miswaks taste terrible (imo). Locally, I would use birch twigs, elderberry, etc. Toothbrushes in my neck of the woods seem to cost $4-5 or so for name brands. Talking to my dental hygienist, she sees a lot of people who just don’t brush. That could be part of a collapse: maybe their employer buys them dental insurance/care for subsidized cleanings, but they choose not to shoulder the recurring cost of toothbrushes.. who knows?

      “..sometimes you can find a toothbrush and sometimes you cannot”? Yep. Go into any supermarket. It starts with you not being able to find the particular flavor of cheese from a certain brand, then the brand isn’t carried at all.

      Look at the crap on Amazon: things that used to be replaced once every 30 years (a telephone, let’s say) now may only last a few months. These items may eventually be abandoned as folks internalize the suck, and no longer can throw money at frequent replacements.

      I buy less than one package of toilet paper per year, for use by guests. We have a separate plumbed bidet, and for quick pee-blotting I use cut-up squares of diaper cloth which are a negligable addition to the wash.. could be rinsed out in a stream in the worst case (we own property bounded by a river).

      I think a “stairstep” collapse can be abbreviated—not necessarily lasting decades or centuries.

      I see a lot of people postponing medical check-ups, car maintenance, house painting and other repair.. I don’t personally know anyone yet who has gone from [good] to [very bad or dead] –yet. I see half the people trying to make the best of *maybe* being allowed to claw out a living from the reduced circumstances they are permitted (taco truck is open to people pre-ordering a day in advance via paypal; pickup appointments scheduled at 10-minute intervals such that no patrons’ paths need cross; masks required though site is open-air), and the other half are being paid more than their previous wages to stay home playing video games, or are gov. workers whose paychecks are sacrosanct even though services are at a semi-standstill (very interesting the story in the UK of them not registering births—only deaths—and the problems that causes a family!) When one can register a death, but not a birth, that appears to me to be a stair-step down in the collapse narrative.

      I’m not sure what you mean, CTG, when you ask how it “should” work. Rather, I see how it *may* work and *does* work. I think what ‘doomers’ are indicating is not prescriptive, rather descriptive.

      The stair-step collapse I am personally “doing” is more costly than following BAU. Raising chickens costs far more than buying them from the store. But maybe the store won’t open some day.

      The “old technologies” I am seeing are not so much reviving old VHS tapes, but doing things like yanking kids out of burdensome state schools and establishing home-school co-ops. That’s a big stair-case step downward in energy consumption. Buying locally-raised meat slaughtered on farm (have participated in this and recuperated valuable ingredients which are normally thrown away). Learn to love head cheese.

      • Lidia17 says:

        Just got our landline phone bill, listing an ill-placed call to my husband’s overseas relatives. Including a $5.00 “international access fee” and taxes, the 9-minute call cost us US$54 and some-odd cents. Guess who won’t be using that service again. Another stair-step down. Like I said, I can come up with things like this all day.

        The friend who can’t afford new clothes and so comes to my house to work on my sewing machine and re-purpose thrift-store finds ….

        I live next to a park.. many fewer dog-walkers compared to a few years ago as people just don’t replace dogs that pass away (I think). Another stair-step. It’s all around you, should you choose to look.

      • Lidia17 says:

        More: clothing. Once people dressed in fairly sturdy clothing, of as good a quality as could be afforded, and worth repairing. I don’t even bother to go to clothing stores anymore, since I won’t find anything made of all-natural fibers: even an all-cotton shirt is rare nowadays.

        Another stair-step: when I went into Staples (US office-supply chain store) a few years back and saw that I couldn’t get fiberboard or oak tag binders anymore.. all the binders were now plastic, as were a lot of folders. That told me that it was cheaper to just go straight to petroleum, rather than use petroleum to tend the forests and make the paper… Paper is becoming extremely expensive. I ordered a ream of Mohawk stationery: with delivery it was something like $42 for 500 sheets. I am stocking up on legal pads, plain copy paper, pencils… I think they will be expensive and hard-to-get soon. I’ve bought some fountain pens and ink, for when the cheap-o Chinese ball-points disappear (my bank no longer boasts that give-away pen cup, another stair-step). Getting the picture now?

      • Matthew Krajcik says:

        “I think a “stairstep” collapse can be abbreviated—not necessarily lasting decades or centuries.”

        It happens really fast if people just burn down everything and live in the ashes. St. Paul reported 170 stores lost tonight. Target closing indefinitely – we’ll see if any unburnt ones reopen.

  8. sorry i haven’t been posting quite so much. I try to contribute where my contribution has validity.

    I;ve been taking time out to go back over your posts to count the number of times you repeated your IQ number

    as you can imagine that’s taken quite a while, and I haven’t finished yet, especially as your comments total, I believe, roughly a third of all made on here.(I certainly press delete on whole strings of them)

    you can rely on me though, to post the final count when I finally get there.

    As the total has gradually built up, (I’ve only been counting since you returned from that Tibetan monastery) I realised what a service we OFW doomsters are providing to your (very) local RL environment, that as your comments are now a 24/7 endless barrage, it stands to reason that you are not anywhere else inflicting nonsense on anyone else.

    ‘we’ can press ‘delete’, there are others who might like to, but for RL legal reasons cannot. (don’t push your luck there though)

    I have even come to the conclusion (as yet unproven as I need unbiased witnesses) that you must take your laptop into the bathroom, highly likely, as I’ve watched the swimming instructor at my local pool with a waterproof one.
    Never crossed my mind untill I began to log the times. Let’s hope you don’t feel the need to post an intellectual dissertation in that respect.

  9. stop trying to elevate the depth of your observations and social influence above the level of an ‘open mike’ night ‘comedian’

    • Very Far Frank says:

      Accusing others of pseudo-intellectualism is a rather odd projection on your part Norman; at least Eddy’s is tongue-in-cheek.

      • at first I took it that way (months ago)_responding mostly with humour. I used to think it was the longest windup in history

        then when the same rinse and repeat went on and on in an endless cycle, I had to accept that it wasn’t, unless he has a very sore cheek.

        in the end, with the same ‘comic’ routine going on 24/7, and no sign of a different scriptwriter, I had little choice but to leave him to it. Repeating the same jokes in the same venue clears out any audience other than those with a very short term memory

        being told 700 times that one’s IQ is 700, leaves me with the conclusion that ‘one’ has been swept into a pile of 700 separate ‘ones’

        doing it that way does not a high IQ make.

    • Lidia17 says:

      Norman, since it may well be the case that most of us won’t be allowed ever again to visit an “open mike night”… I’m enjoying the comic stylings of FE for as long as we are permitted the intertubes.

    • horseofadifferentcolor says:

      Oh he is crass alright. But he is the king. Your no Paul. Your not even a shadow of a shadow of FE. Love him or hate him FE has done his time. He is a icon a legend. I have gone to war with him a couple times when he got too obnoxious back in the day. He crosses the line. Thats what he does. I won of course, Sent him slinking away for a hour or two. The thing is you may not adopt his views but if you are a truthful person you can not dismiss what he writes. Thats pretty rare.

      • Norman Pagett says:

        if nobody believed the hoaxes, conspiracies and plots, there would be far less, maybe nothing, to argue about

        then where would we be?

        • doomphd says:

          oh, i dunno. maybe we could discuss the cognitive disssonance of the mind where some apparently educated and bright folks, when presented with undoctored photographic evidence of exploding building materials think they’re witnessing structural collapse brought on by low-temperature fires from airplane fuel and office supplies. they believe official con spir-a cy stories about grandiose plans made in remote caves in primitive, third world countries, that effectively bring down modern skyscrapers, because that’s what they’re told to believe is plausible, and they throw their critical thinking aside, because if they question the story, their minds explode.

  10. CTG says:

    I know some people will not agree with me but I am not an American. “At this juncture, what difference does it make?”

    • ITEOTWAWKI says:

      CTG, if you’re talking about what happened in Minneapolis, the answer is none whatsoever….if anything poor George Floyd just missed out on the horror movie that all of us left behind will have to witness (albeit for not that long, because when grids go down, we will disappear fast)…he is lucky, he made it to the last minute and is now free of the chaos that will ensue soon…

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Yes the cops did him a favour.

        Here’s an interesting anecdote since you are also Canadian.

        One of my best mates is from Chicago – he worked in banking there and was transferred to Hong Kong. When I met him he had just resigned and started up his own company. At the time he was counting pennies so I gave him a desk in our office to use.

        My brother and I would regularly go out for dinner after work with him as we were all single at the time. I will never forget having a debate over music and telling him rap was crap — if you want to listen to poetry in motion you can’t beat Neil Young/

        Who’s Neil Young? What???? You don’t know who he is?

        Nope. How can it be?

        You guys have to understand what it’s like in America he said. When he worked in the bank in Chicago people were cordial to him but NEVER… not once was he invited to dinner or drinks with the white crowed. Never.

        And this guy is one of the most outgoing friendly people I have ever met. Everyone I know in HK likes him. Never heard a bad word said about him

        Anyway – the reason he did not know Neil Young is because he had very limited contact with white people. And Neil Young is the white man’s rapper.

        He said until he came to Hong Kong he had never had the opportunity to sit at dinner with work colleagues like he was doing with us.

        I said come on man … how can that be?

        He said you guys don’t get it because you are from Canada. He said he’d been across the border a couple of times and he was treated with respect at the shops — nobody feared him — he felt like just another person

        It’s not like that in America. And I said you mean it’s like that for every black guy – even if you are dressed in a suit and tie and not like a gang banger.

        He said it doesn’t matter a whole lot how you are dressed when you encounter racist people. In fact often the better you are dressed the worse you are treated… because it’s uppity to not know your place.

        • Kim says:

          It would be great for the site if we could drop this topic, but if you persist, so must I, because it is an important topic surrounded with deliberate lies.

          So, this is the basis of your theory of American race relations: “I met a black man at a function once and he was very well dressed and nice. He complained that he wasn’t invited to social functions he might have liked to attend. Based on this, I conclude that black people are nice and white people are evil.”

          Really? That’s it? This is the thinking style of a 14 year old girl. But my feelings! (My apologies to clever 14 year old girls.)

          Look at the statistics, for heaven’s sake (link below). The attitudes of Americans towards blacks is conditioned by their own, daily experienced behavior of blacks, as only partially delineated in these hair-raising statistics.

          And let me ask you: if you had children, I am sure you would be fine with sending them to a school full of Chinese students. Would you be just as sanguine about sending them to a majority-black school? Or would you find some “racist” excuse to enroll them elsewhere? I am sure I know the answer.

          Please enough with the I’m-a-guilty-goodwhite virtue signaling.


          • horseofadifferentcolor says:

            Kim what you mention is in fact true but why? You meet Africans and for the most part they have none of these criminal qualities. How the USA got so screwed up is beyond me, I would hope that some day we would get to a place where people are judged on behavior. The hate is incredible, How do people hold such things in their hearts? It would seem our odds of realizing some sort of culture where we are all brothers and sisters very hard to realize in the face of collapse. I met a guy the other day that told me all poor people are stupid. While the self hatred liberal whites have for themselves is moronic the money is everything greed shown by others is just as moronic. Its like we have regressed into organic machine repeating the media talking points that push the buttons of ego and righteousness that trigger brain chemicals that please us. Hannity or Maddow no difference.

          • Fast Eddy says:

            Racist garbage

        • GBV says:

          “but NEVER… not once was he invited to dinner or drinks with the white crowed. Never.”

          I’ve never been invited to dinner or drinks by anyone black… and I’m a Canadian! 😦
          The way you make it sound, everyone up here is completely oblivious to culture / skin-tone / etc., and we’re all being super-nice and inviting each other out for food, drinks, and gleefully good times.

          Truth be told, Canada isn’t the nice and friendly place it’s made out to be… at least, not everywhere in Canada. Toronto can be a very cold, bleak and lonely place, as I suspect many a large metropolis must be…


        • JesseJames says:

          FE, Your example about your black friend is simplistic and meaningless.
          My experiences in Houston, l grew up in segregated Houston. My Baptist father, a good man pretty much, taught us to refer to blacks as Negroes and to respect them. We did. Until age 15 I never knew any. We did not go to school or church together. We lived on separate sides of town. At age 15 I played on the first integrated football team in Houston, the Baby Oilers, coached by professional football players from the Houston Oilers professional football team. There were black boys, Mexican boys and white boys playing together. I never heard a single racist comment by anyone for the whole season. I rode to games with a fellow black player and his parents. They were nice people, …just from across the tracks and of course, black. They would drive to my house and pick me up.
          When I was in 10th grade a federal judge forced integration of Houston schools. Initially, there were fights, bad fights. And for the first time I observed racial hatred by a few students. The fights were eliminated and did not reoccur. After that, in school I did not observe any racial hatred in school.
          After I went to college, a Deacon at church came up to me once and used the “N” word disparagingly. I was definitely shocked. He was a police officer but he was not the norm in his attitudes in our community or church. I definitely had a hard time reconciling how a supposed Christian, could harbor hatred like that. My best friends father was also a Police officer and he was not a racist. So there were and still are racist cops. But most are not. I never observed any racial hatred in college.

          I give respect based on character and actions, regardless of race.

          As for inviting a black coworker to dinner….I do not even invite white coworkers to dinner. That is meaningless. My sister and her husband who is retired, regularly have a retired black neighbor over for coffee. It doesn’t mean anything more than, people will associate with people they are around. Some people are racist, most aren’t. I think a very small minority are. Unfortunately, their actions, are magnified by media.
          That is my opinion.

      • Fast Eddy says:

        Let’s file that incident under ‘why FE will celebrate when BAU falls to the ground stone cold dead and extinction begins’

        • Very Far Frank says:

          As if everyone won’t become 100 times more ‘racist’ (read socioculturally homogenous) when BAU collapses. The Canadian response in your story was a facade produced by abundance; America is just more honest with itself.

          • Lidia17 says:

            Yes, modern virtues are, by-and-large, products of surplus energy/abundance. When societies can no longer afford their “pet” projects, a lot of folks will be inordinately dismayed.

    • Dennis L. says:


      We don’t know the future, until you are dead there is hope, my guess is someone is going to make it.

      This COV19 has been predicted to be a disaster, so far it has been for some, but for most the virus itself is part of life. Some of the original statistics made up by an expert appear to have been more to satisfy a lover and have her travel across town for the usual activities than predict anything – they were off by an order of magnitude or more?

      There is no way to store life in a box, once it is used it is gone; what do you have to lose?

      Dennis L.

      • Xabier says:

        Dr Wilson, who died alongside Scott of the Antarctic, used to say that life was ‘not like an old suit which you patch up and try to hang on to for as long as possible, but to be used fully, worn out and discarded.’

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