Curiosity Over Pride (FYI: To comment, send an e-mail to

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Personally, I just don't see America going anywhere in the near future

On the other hand, Fabius Maximus seems not so sure.

Stephen Karlsson has written an interesting post on the mindset of our allies.

And of course, as many have foretold for many years, the young are beginning to notice we really did screw them.

I guess it's time for a little Some Assembly Required to lighten the load.

We do live in interesting times


Thai said...


PS- In no way am I commenting on whether we should or should not reduce nuclear arsenals. I have no idea.

Dr John said...

My greatest fear as a father of 4(other than harm coming to my children) is my kids who are now entering college will get out and have nothing to do but move back home with their parents.

JP said...

Thai says:

"PS- In no way am I commenting on whether we should or should not reduce nuclear arsenals. I have no idea."

The answer is "yes, as long as everyone else does it, too."

From a "death" point of view, the military can already slaughter masses if they put their mind to it. Look at Dresden.

Why exactly do we want massive nuclear fallout to accompany the slaughter?

Reagan was right. We need zero nuclear weapons.

JP said...

Dr John:

"My greatest fear as a father of 4(other than harm coming to my children) is my kids who are now entering college will get out and have nothing to do but move back home with their parents."

Have them start up a business. Or send them to law school or med school. Alternately, they can become plumbers, gardners, or carpenters.

There's always something to do. That's the way life works.

The key is to have them DO something productive and get something in return.

JP said...

From the blog:

"This factor is arguably also present in for example Taiwan and most Western European countries, as they rely on the promise of American intervention in case they face attacks. This is good for these nations as they don’t have to spend as much on national defense, but it is not quite as good for America who has to spend more on its military to keep this up."

This creates incentive to support King Dollar and U.S. Deficits, doesn't it?

From that sense, there IS a incentive to subsidize the U.S.

JP said...

Oh, and with respect to the "young," that fits in with general generational thinking.

The environment creates generations. The generations alter the environment. It's iterative.

In this case, the Millenials are facing the result of massive debt and they will respond in some fashion when they come of age. They will address EXTERNAL factors, not their inner world. That's why the 1960's will not happen again now. The Boomers were addressing their INTERNAL world, with the result that the EXTERNAL world of today is causing problems.

Dink said...

That "Some Assembly Required" site is great. A nice daily summary of human folly. Could backfire and lead to escapism via hooch, though.

"The environment creates generations. The generations alter the environment. It's iterative."

There is a lure to the Generational Dynamics theory. There's a nice sequential "cause and effect" that we could map out between parents behavior and their children's reaction and personality development. But I don't think the evidence fits the hypothesis. Societal changes are event-driven instead of cohort-driven.

JP said...

Dink says:

"Societal changes are event-driven instead of cohort-driven."

Societal changes are both event driven and cohort-driven.

It's not either/or, it's both/and.

It's also an iterative process.

JP said...

Dink says:

"There is a lure to the Generational Dynamics theory. There's a nice sequential "cause and effect" that we could map out between parents behavior and their children's reaction and personality development."

First, Xenakis is wrong with respect to the more mechanistic aspects of his theory.

It's much more organic than mechanical.

Generational theroy ultimately seems to have more to do with credit cycles than anything else. It's also tied to innovation waves.

It is not likley that the "Millenials" will be participating in too many "awakening"-type events.


Because they are loaded with debt and poor economic prospects. It's the exact opposite of the Boomers, who are a product of the expanding economy and expanding CREDIT of the post-war boom.

Even though they are both large cohorts, you can't be too introspective when you are busy being a debt-serf, so to speak.

Millenials won't be starting any cultural revolutions. They have to deal with the economic results the last one.

Debt matters.

Thai said...

Re: "It's not either/or, it's both/and. It's also an iterative process."


Re: debt origins of millennials and predictions such a theory suggests

JP, I must say I have never considered this and I must say it is a very interesting theory and does support your predictions for Caeserism- e.g. a reaction against the consequences of boomer internalizations creates a new millennial focus on externalizations and a concomitant inability to see oneself in the mirror.

Does makes a nice breeding ground for totalitarianism.

Very thought provoking theory

Thai said...

And I agree there is an incentive to support the dollar from that incentive.

At that point it becomes a discussion on whether American police protection is cost effect for other nations.

I suspect this is a complex thing to answer.

JP said...

"Caeserism" as Spengler was defining it had more to do with cultural exhaustion and the co-incident victory of force-politics over money over an entire civilization-culture.

He was looking at it from the perspective of very long periods of time (800 - 2400 for the West) during which the ideas of a culture arose, were developed, and ultimatly ossified. Other culture-civilizations were Egypt, Greco-Roman, China, Byzantine/Islam, and Russia.

He was a German who wrote his book on civilizations before and during WWI. As a patriot, he wanted Germany to be the dominant force in the West.

Ultimately, Germany lost and the Engish (U.S./U.K) won both WWI and WWII, overcoming Germany and keeping it down.

At the moment, the economic innovation waves are continuing, and Western or "Faustian" culture (a culture tied to the fractal concept of infinite space) is continuing to develop, i.e. the Internet. This would seem to indicate that we are still in the pre-Cesearism epoch, rather than transitioning into Cesearism from Spengler's point of view.

Ultimately, the "last thought" of Faustian culture, that of Socialism, should essentially predominate the West as a whole, ulimately resulting in the catabolic decline of Western Civilization and the anabolic rise of a new culture-civilization, much like Russia arose from Byzantium and Byzantium arose from Greeco-Roman culture.

JP said...

And from Spengler's point of view, the years from 2000-2200 would be analogous to:

"100 BC–100 AD: Sulla to Domitian"

in terms of Greco-Roman culture.

Thai said...

Debt matters


Though I still keep thinking that America is better off financially if it continues to borrow until it simply can't anymore and then defaults than on that debt than it would be if it reduced borrowing and paid back the foreign creditors. Especially since we have the only major army.

Though I'm not positive on this one and my own personal inclination is to reduce borrowing and increase savings as we do have a lot of foreign assets which can be confiscated.

Predicting the future is really tough

OkieLawyer said...

I followed one of the links from your Some Assembly Required link and there it basically sets out the difference between the Austrian school (Libertarian) and Keynesian school (what I follow, generally). I think one of the Keynesian commenters got it right when he said:

Americans should have been trying to save money over the past decade, except for recessions. Americans should be saving money again when the economy is thoroughly out of recession. Our problems are three-fold: 1) we've forgotten the lessons of the grasshopper and the ants or seven years of feast/seven years of famine, 2) too much of the income that could be saved is being siphoned off by the wealthy (who have been saving just fine, thank you), and 3) incentives to save are being in part damaged by a mercantilist policy of the Chinese government to shift jobs from America to China via exchange rates.

Really the lesson we're all supposed to have learned is you save when the sun is shining, so you'll have those savings to fall back on for rainy days. That doesn't fit well with consumerism, so advertisers have done their best to make people forget that lesson. They encouraged people to gorge while the gorging was good. The flip side of that is that when times are bad, you're supposed to dis-save. That has *always* been the lesson; you're not supposed to save all the grain during the seven years of famine, you're supposed to eat it, while saving enough to plant again when conditions get better. What's the point of saving the grain only to starve to death and have someone else take it?

Krugman is just pointing out that this is a depression, and people aren't supposed to be increasing their savings during a depression. That's like people adding to their food stockpiles during a famine, while watching their friends, neighbors, and relatives starve. It may seem rational to let your co-workers starve, but don't expect their help during the next harvest. The time to save is when there's excess.

The Keynesian plan is to put those middle class people back to work doing public works projects (Civilian Conservation Corps, WPA, etc.) so that they can start to pay off their debts and spend and save.

Thai said...

Okie, I've read Krugman closely to understand this and that is not really Keynesianism.

As I understand him 9and I may be wrong but I have read a bunch of his stuff trying to understand it), it is simply all about demand. To a perfect Keynesian, society is kind of like a fermionic superconductor. Savings is never necessary as long as demand is always there.

I think it fair to admit Krugman is not opposed to savings during good times, but as long as we all keep spinning our wheels and keep demand up, savings is unnecessary.

I'm not disagreeing with you that this is a good idea (as it clearly is), but

Thai said...

I still prefer a fractal economic model of society.

It wouldn't really disagree with Keynes, and cooperation which is critical for demand would certainly Keynesian, but it would place demand as one iterative building block amongst many others. Further there would be times when the other building blocks simply demand impossible no matter what you do.

Dink said...

""100 BC–100 AD: Sulla to Domitian"

in terms of Greco-Roman culture."

Blink. Blink. See, this is why you should pop an e-mail to so I can add you as an author.

The Most Fabulous Objects In The World

  • Hitchhiker's Guide To The Universe trilogy
  • Lord of the Rings trilogy
  • Flight of the Conchords
  • Time Bandits

Blog Archive