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.
This entry was posted in Financial Implications and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3,868 Responses to Understanding Our Pandemic – Economy Predicament

  1. Minority Of One says:

    I don’t remember this being posted already:

    German Official Leaks Report Denouncing Corona as ‘A Global False Alarm’

    • One quote from the Global False Alarm report:

      The demos question the entire Corona Narrative, and even more its principals, especially the role Bill Gates is playing, as the WHO second biggest donor (the first one since Trump suspended U.S. contribution).

    • Yoshua says:

      So the China virus was a hoax?

      It’s really getting hard to know what to believe in these days.

      • frankly step-by-step says:

        Stay calm.
        Kohn did not act as an official of the ministry, but used the letterhead as an employee of the house. For that he was suspended.
        For those who want to know more about him, I refer to the German wikipedia page.


      • Norman Pagett says:

        as the Chinese hoax thing is still rattling on

        this might help


      • The part that is a hoax is saying that shutdowns will fix anything. A different solution is needed. It needs to be very inexpensive and affordable to all. Shutdowns pick winners and losers in the current fight over energy resources.

        • Matthew Krajcik says:

          I don’t get why face shields aren’t the solution? We’re back to the CDC etc saying that surfaces are not a big deal, and the virus is spread by droplets, not fully aerosolized. I ordered a pack of 3 for somewhere around $21 USD 6 weeks ago, they should be here in two weeks or so.

    • Yorchichan says:

      I only learned yesterday that the UK government downgraded covid-19 from a High Consequence Infectious Disease on 19 March, putting it in the same disease category as the influenza virus. This was four days before the lockdown began and was not widely reported here at the time.


      Why are things still not back to normal?

      • frankly step-by-step says:

        It takes a scapegoat to whom the wrong decisions can be attached.
        The search is still ongoing.

        • Yorchichan says:

          Yes, an immediate attempt at a return to normality would look like an admission a mistake was made.

      • Dennis L. says:

        I bunch of intellectuals screwed things up, thought they knew more than evolution. Another bunch of intellectuals thought playing with viruses was great fun until someone made a mistake and then tried to cover their tracks with a fish story. I

        It is a self organizing system, it is much more powerful than the intellectuals, in the sweep of history this is but a blip. Man is tough, this planet is tough, asteroids hitting it have not stopped things, volcanoes obliterating the sun have not stopped it. The earth is for all practical purposes eternal. This is the new normal, different verse, same as the first.

        Dennis L.

        • Yorchichan says:

          As I have no faith in the ability of humans to improve upon nature, I doubt we even have the ability to create a virus with better survival prospects than one that evolved naturally.

          That’s why I believe sars-cov-2 will be history a few months from now. There won’t be a second wave, neither after everything opens up nor or in the autumn.

          • Dennis L. says:

            Yor, second paragraph:

            Sticking my neck out a bit, a guess is the virus took all the easy targets, comorbidities, next group will be tougher. Rapid communication caused a panic, made a worse mess by closing everything down, one governor even returned those most vulnerable to a nursing home after having seen an earlier experience in Washington State, maybe this one can’be untangled. Mankind will come to accept that life has an end, somethings are beyond change, only acceptance.

            Again, many here have talked collapse, no one that I follow ever really saw a pandemic coming, no one ever saw closing the entire world community. No one seriously considered Greta would get her wish, all of us who dismissed that as being wrong were in the end, let us say mistaken. We saw neither the path nor the response to that outcome.

            If you are correct regarding the virus being history(eventually everything is), wow, that may hold some serious political implications. Howe claims we are in the fourth turning – if I understand that phrase, it is pragmatism, huge political change.

            It will be fine, all the best,

            Dennis L.

        • There is ultimately a problem with not enough energy for the large number of people in the world today. Solutions to the coronavirus problem give one way of determining winners and losers in this contest. In this round, the big loser was the services industry, including the vacation industry. The less educated and those of non-white skin color particularly lost out. The young were particularly disadvantaged. Their hopes in many careers disappeared.

          Future rounds will see more and more people, businesses, and governments cut out from the system, I am afraid.

          • Minority Of One says:

            The plain and simple truth that very few people can accept. If a few million people are going to lose their jobs permanently over the coming months, here in the UK, how is this going to pan out for everyone? Do those with a job just turn a blind eye to those without? Probably. The bottom line is if there are too many people, the population has to go down somehow or other. In the millions. Here in the UK. And death won’t be from covid-19.

          • Yoshua says:

            They are choosing who to cull in this round?

            The non essential part of the economy goes out the window first.

  2. Malcopian says:

    Tim Morgan’s latest post on Surplus Energy Economics. Nothing new here.


  3. Dan Cantrall says:

    “Automobiles became ever fancier. Homes added more and more requirements as well. Both because increasingly affordable only to the very rich.” You are exactly right! Everything has gone up in scale. As a tradesman I have seen lots of regulations add about $20000 to building a house. They are making people dig down an extra 10 feet in addition and then backfilling the “right” soil combination even though there has never been a destructive earth quake here and never will be because of the soil composition. Not to mention all the electrical code etc…

    • Thanks for the details you add!

    • Lidia17 says:

      Yes, I’m trying to get a house built, and the septic design specs and costs are mind-boggling. I’m supposed to buy in at least $1k of special sand, even though the soil there is.. sand. This is even with a composting toilet. Everything has become a racket, as Jim Kunstler is wont to say.

      • Artleads says:

        So the compost toilet system isn’t independent of the sptic system?

        • Lidia17 says:

          One is allowed to downsize the overall system by X percent if using composting toilets. It doesn’t change the nature of the system for whatever reason.

          • frankly step-by-step says:

            Well, it’s like always when interests are involved.
            Imagine more and more people would unsubscribe from the public sewer network.
            Then who should pay for it? The remaining?
            You also need to have at least a small garden to be able to use the compost. And they are scarce in the cities. Check out my previous post.

            • Lidia17 says:

              This is on many, many acres. The nearest sewer line is a few miles away.

              That said, if people were to unsubscribe from the sewer network, what of it? The town in the future won’t be able to afford the hundreds of thousands or the millions of dollars it takes to run in the first place. Collapse now and avoid the rush.

              I was listening to a true-crime podcast and it described a prisoner in the UK in the 1980s and his “toilet bucket”. The idea of having plumbing and sewerage linking every home, much less every prison cell, is quite new. I have visited homes both in the US and in Italy where there were still semi-operational loos out on back landings and porches.

              In Asia, for thousands of years, the “night-soil” man would come around and take the human dung out of the city to be used on surrounding fields. There is nothing inherently harmful in this practice when done correctly.

              In Brattleboro, VT, a group was trying to go around and collect urine from “city” dwellers (it’s more of a town than a city) to put into large tanks and spray on fields experimentally. I’m not sure if the project is still running—it may have gotten abandoned, since there can’t be any real “money” in such endeavors. The issue is that—as with the increasingly-draconian code requirements, doing things in a common-sensical way is incompatible with the demands of the money structure.

              At a town meeting a couple of years ago, the town manager lamented the (fake) “need” for a new town well (long story regarding arbitrary limits for manganese and conflicting jurisdictions) that would cost a million dollars. I asked whether the town couldn’t institute water-reduction plans, promote rain-water catchment for non-potable uses, and promote composting toilets instead, to make up for the “bad” well being off-line. Despite my state being pretty much second-to-none in declaring itself interested in being “green”, my ideas were shrugged off as ridiculous and discarded out-of-hand as unfeasible and incompatible with “green growth”.

            • frankly step-by-step says:

              “growth =, the last word of your post is the keyword. As long as we are tied to the current economic system that needs constant growth to function, you will not find a single politician, not even one who calls himself a” green “who will lean out the window.

              After a long search I bought 3000 square meters of fallow vineyards a good two years ago. In the meantime there are already some fruit trees, such as peach, plums, figs, khaki, sweet cherries, pawpaws, Brazilian guavas, berries …
              I had previously composted kitchen waste into Terra Preta on my rather large terrace, in bakery boxes.
              Recently, for about a year and a half, I have also put a composting toilet in my bathroom, where I also make Terra Preta from feces.
              All my trees and all my plants on the terrace are now growing on Terra Preta Earth.
              If necessary, I can collect my own urine and spread it over the vineyards as a wonderful phosphorus fertilizer, diluted one to ten.
              I work without machines, everything by hand.
              Do not spray pesticides.
              I’m curious to see if everything works the way I want it to.

              In the next post by Gail Tverberg, if it fits, I’ll write something about the possible exit from the previous economic system.

            • I think that there is too much salt in most people’s urine for spraying it on fields to be a reasonable solution.

            • Artleads says:

              We’re talking here of the system some call the matrix. The degree to which the same thing happens everywhere is remarkable.

            • frankly step-by-step says:

              Gods plan?

        • Lidia17 says:

          My advice to anyone considering changing dwellings going forward is to not build from scratch for these sorts of reasons (unless you can do the work yourself and local enforcement has dissolved/collapsed). In hindsight, I would’ve been better off buying a crappy mobile home or “tear-down” with utilities grandfathered in.. then I could re-build as I pleased at my own pace (water/septic is the only seriously-stringent code in our area) without gov. meddling. A new build also takes one out of “grey man” territory, so that could be a future issue, as well.

          Someone on the thread was talking about tiny houses. I have been in at least four, and know three people who live in them. Only one of those three didn’t appear to have access to significant off-site space; the second lives in a tiny house on her property and rents out her original house while maintaining a degree of access to her old basement and other parts of the home; the third goes to visit an out-of-state family member for parts of the year.

          I think tiny houses can be a solution either for a younger person who works a lot and recreates elsewhere (Covid notwithstanding)—using it basically as a crash pad—or for an older person who doesn’t expect to be doing a lot of projects, including much cooking. There’s just no place to carry out any sort of serious hobby or domestic task: it would be impossible to -say- brew beer, set up a sewing machine, or do a lot of cooking or canning indoors. One clearly can’t set up a loom or a wood shop. A guitar might be ok (a harmonica would be better); even a digital keyboard would be a challenge. They seem almost a kind of fetish.

          When I was first investigating tiny houses, cost to build new was something like $40-50kUSD, when one could find a modest regular house with acreage for twice that sum. While they may be well-insulated for their size, there’s a kind of trade-off between the thermal mass, the exterior exposition and the floor space. I knew I wanted a masonry heater (burns softwood, keeps most of the heat inside bldg. envelope), so a tiny house was not in the cards for me. TH person #1 whom I know uses a tiny woodstove; they don’t need a lot of space in the TH since their life and work is almost completely outdoors. TH person #2 was described above, using the TH as a way to reduce expenses, theoretically, because she preferred the idea of good rental income from her original house. TH person #3 isn’t in his TH full time, and has enough local contacts that he finds other places to be and to store stuff when necessary. He hangs out a lot in the main house of the friends from whom he’s renting the patch where his TH rests, and does not live in the TH all the year long. The remaining TH I visited was a demo, built by a local crafts school, to be consigned to a client.

          For the more adventuresome, I recommend the Yurta company out of Canada, rather than a TH. We set one up as a future guest-room/fiber studio. The workmen have taken it over for now. It’s insulated with wool, comfortable enough in three seasons (we have yet to hook up the tiny woodstove), and aside from a few aspects, like the plastic dome and its lifts, there’s something very gentle and fulfilling about knowing one has at least the possibility of intervening to repair a fault in some fashion. Still, moving down a stair-step in QOL expectation, for sure… In our area, the tax authorities still upped our property tax after our having set up the yurt (its not having a permanent base did not matter to them: they will tax anything in the same position for >180 days out of the year.. would do so for a TH on a trailer or for a stationery RV as well, they claimed). However, the added property value of the yurt+platform was only $1000 or so. Most people following this blog are not in their twenties, but if I were that age and without much money I would point in the yurt direction, for sure.

  4. Rodster says:

    Kunstler vents in his latest piece and who can blame him !

    “That Change You Requested…?”


  5. Artleads says:


    • Rodster says:

      “I’m worried that the economy may not return to normal within that time frame.”

      No sh*t Sherlock, the economy back then did not have the complicated supply chains we have today. They also had cheap energy supply coming out of the ground, we no longer have that luxury. It’s expensive getting oil out of tar sands and offshore.

  6. JMS says:

    A bit of political enlightnment for the sheep (and unfortunately OFW seems suddenly full of them) who ignore the century old tactic of using agent provocateurs to publicly discredit protest movements.

    • GBV says:

      To be fair, I probably own a couple pair of the boots featured in this video, as well as some of the gear pointed out, and I am not a cop nor an agent provocateur… just a compulsive buyer/collector of tactical gear.


      • JMS says:

        Are you saying your boots refute the historical evidence of police using agent provocateurs?
        Anyway, there is much more convincing evidence in the footage than the type of boots used.

        • Very Far Frank says:

          Was this the work of agent provocateurs?

          Or is it possible the ‘protestors’ are perfectly capable of discrediting themselves?

          • JMS says:

            Of course a crowd of protesters can always discredit itself, but a liitle help doesn’t hurt, rigth? Right, especially in those circumstances where the protesters are intent – the horror! – on protest peacefully. This is just Psy-Op 101.

        • GBV says:

          Think you’re putting words in my mouth there, friend.

          I’m simply suggesting that matching footwear and/or gear neither proves nor disproves the use of agent provocateurs, and seems a bit of a stretch to be considered “evidence” for arguments either way.

          I’m sure you’re right that there is more compelling/convincing evidence out there, and I’d be interested to see it should you care to share it.

          As a side note, I was living in midtown Toronto during the G20 police crackdown, about a 25 minute walk from Queens Park. I remember watching the police response on TV and messaging many of my friends and associates about how wrong it all seemed (“this is not the Canada I know”)… most of their responses were along the lines of, “that’s what they deserve for getting in the face of cops” or “they shouldn’t be outside in the first place”.

          I think it was around that time I started waking up to the realization that mostly everyone I knew would never see the world the way I did (i.e.on the verge of collapse and spiralling out of control) until they (or an immediate family member / loved one) were smashed right in the face by their friendly neighborhood police officer, simply for failing to comply quickly enough.


          • JMS says:

            I was just using rhetorical irony and trying to be funny. Sorry if i offende you. I’m perfectly aware that your boots could never prove anything except the size of your foot and your taste in shoes!

            About agent provocateurs and similar dark state tactics, i’ve no special knowledge or expertise. Just know what everyperson can learn with curiosity and some free time.

            In real life I don’t know a single person that sees the world as i do. Not one. In fact never had face-to-face interlocutors for most subjects that interest me.

          • Duncan Idaho says:

            You are either on the bus, or off the bus.
            (if you don’t know where that came from, you are defiantly not on the bus)

    • Duncan Idaho says:

      They know this has the possibility to get beyond their control.
      Putting provocateurs in with protesters is a way to defuse dissent.
      Don’t think it will work this time. The proletariat is paying attention, and the abuse has been going on for so long, they are gaining knowledge.

      • Tim Groves says:

        It’s election year again, and if I had children or nieces and nephews in the US of any creed or color, I’d beg them to stay off the streets. This is very ugly already and it looks like it’s about to get far worse.

  7. frankly step-by-step says:


    +++ 19:48 Lockdown triggers Run on allotments +++
    to press

    The corona restrictions have caused the demand for allotment gardens in Germany to skyrocket. “There is at least a doubling of demand compared to the previous year,” reports the Federal Association of German Garden Friends as the umbrella organization of around 893,000 allotment garden tenants. The gardens are particularly sought after in large cities. “Even before Corona, the demand was very high. With Corona it has increased again, waiting times are getting longer and longer,” said association spokeswoman Sandra von Rekowski. There are gardens in Berlin with a waiting period of seven years

  8. Herbie R Ficklestein says:

    Who said collapse would be inexpensive!? If you are Nissan Motor Company it isn’t!😜
    Nissan sees cost of quitting Barcelona at up to $1.7 billion, source says
    decision to leave Barcelona was announced by the Japanese carmaker last week as part of a turnaround plan, triggering protests by workers and a commitment by Madrid to do all it can to convince the company to stay.
    Barcelona-based La Vanguardia newspaper earlier on Monday cited Nissan documents as saying the closures could cost 1.45 billion euros, mostly to make around 3,000 workers redundant.
    The union source said that a few weeks ago Nissan had told workers that shutting the three Barcelona facilities could cost around 1.5 billion euros.
    ,, Nissan would face other costs related to suppliers and dismantling factories, the first source said, adding: “1.5 billion euros is more realistic. It’s not easy to dismantle a factory.”
    La Vanguardia said that among the costs Nissan had estimated were 600 million euros for firing workers, 310 million in fiscal costs and potentially repaying 100 million of public aid.
    Nissan believes it would take close to seven years to recover in savings the cost of leaving Barcelona, the newspaper said.
    Not a good time to be an automaker…I own a Nissan Sentra since 2013, nice inexpensive commuter car, roomie and solid. Only defect CVT transmission needed a additional add on cooler I did myself and fluid change every 30,000 miles. Nissan been having a bad time with these failing and that was why, they burned out.
    Sorry to see them failing, I like time, but that’s too bad😜

    • Tim Groves says:

      Carlos Ghosn saved them once, and look how they repaid him for his efforts!?

      They treated him like a coronavirus!

    • Xabier says:

      In Spain auto plants offer some of the best, and formerly most secure, jobs around,and are very important to the local economy: Pamplona depends on VW for instance. Major political and economic consequences if they go.

      • frankly step-by-step says:

        What will happen if the demand for vehicles remains low. And you can expect that because countless people have lost or will lose their jobs in the current crisis. Then save yourself who can then be the motto. What do you think, what will the VW board do?

  9. frankly step-by-step says:

    Surprise surprise!
    That went faster than I expected. The chlorine dioxide solution (CDS) is again up for discussion.


  10. Dennis L. says:

    Came across this, not sure if it is too long a quote, if so, it will be shortened: This is by Michael Levitt, 2013 Nobel chemistry. Basically as I understand the article, this pandemic will die out, lock downs are a mistake and once again Baby Boomers have stolen from their children. This is a transcript and done poorly in some areas.

    We have forced our children in to destitution secondary to preoccupation with GDP, whatever it takes. I am old, there is much left I want to do, I passed on the Villages and went back to school, but life is not put in a box, it is lived.

    Disclaimer: My out of a very working class, depression era family neighborhood was my education, it was hard to use it well even taking every tough, miserable course I could find. Thus, I have strong emotional feelings regarding education. Things will change the trick is to stay out of the way, it is not going to be easy. The “experts” on this one were the boomers, my guess is they really screwed this one up, mostly they seem to be liberals. No value judgment, if it works it is right, if it doesn’t it is wrong.

    Quote begins:

    “There will be a reckoning. Maybe countries will start to see that they need governments that are not necessarily great in rhetoric, but actually thinking and doing. I often go back and think about what Socrates said 2,400 years ago: use your common sense instead of listening to the rhetoric of leaders. We have become very influenced by [rhetoric] that. I think this is another foul-up on the part of the baby boomers.

    I am a real baby-boomer, I was born in 1947, and I think we’ve really screwed up. We cause pollution, we allowed the world’s population to increase three-fold, we’ve caused the problems of global warming, we’ve left your generation with a real mess in order to save a really small number of very old people. If I was a young person now, I would say, “now you guys are gonna pay for this.”

    We have my family whatsapp and very early on I said this is a virus being designed to get rid of the baby boomers. You know I don’t know, I think my wife thinks this is going to be a take it to the streets thing,and we’re gonna have the young people on the street saying you guys have really screwed up it’s time to go. And I always joke with her, saying well at least I’ve made lots of friends among the young people, I’ll be okay.

    But quite frankly you know I’ve had a great life, and I must say this to all the young faces in front of me. I have a grandson who’s 17. I’d much rather have young people live for a very long time. That said I do have a mother who’s a hundred and five years old living in London with my brother, she’s in lockdown and I talk to her by whatsapp every single day on FaceTime, and she’s fine. She still uses her phone and so on so you know these differences but…

    You guys should get out there and do something don’t accept this anymore we screwed up too much.”


    Most of you know by now, last year and next year I shall spend time with kids, in class. Those I see are great, the classes are diverse, the girls hold their own, we are not all white. The greatest personal insult I have experienced is being called “sir” by the teacher. Man I hate that, need to find a safe area.

    Dennis L.

    • Kim says:

      “…. We cause pollution, we allowed the world’s population to increase three-fold, we’ve caused the problems of global warming, we’ve left your generation with a real mess…”
      and “If I was a young person now, I would say, “now you guys are gonna pay for this.”

      The d*mbness of these statements is staggering. Baby boomers invented pollution and population increase?

      Call me cynical, but nowadays when I see this kind of anti-boomer rhetoric, I just think, “ah, more divide and conquer propaganda”.

Comments are closed.