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Our Failing Civilization

Published on May 31, 2010


The western world is going bankrupt! The final crisis is coming and when it does the economic, social and geopolitical clock will be reset permanently. The advanced industrialized world is going down hard. Already many millions of lives are destroyed, hundreds of millions of other lives are stunted, social organizations are crumbling, productivity is low, and we have a failing infrastructure, environmental disasters, ‘severe’ climate change, and a threatening financial/economic collapse, despite all the good news from the public media fantasy factories. And this is the short list of a much longer one of problems that are haunting our civilization like tremendous pollution; much of which is invisible like mercury but it’s in everything.

Whatever yardstick you care to choose – share-price moves, the rates at which banks lend to each other, measures of volatility – we are now in a similar position to 2008 . Edmund Conway

This present financial crisis, which is just starting to unfold, is worse than the sub-prime crash of 2008 because the sums are so much bigger and it is governments that are in dire straits this time. In computer game terminology the players (politicians) are down to their last life and it’s almost game over time. Throughout history civilizations have come and gone and there is nothing to indicate our present one can or will survive. Civilizations fall into chaos and conflict, terrorism, increased violence, apathy and a degrading quality of life. The symptoms seen everywhere are: declining integrity, rising corruption, less justice, insecurity and world conflict; all of which are evident in the daily news.

Americans are freaking out over their debts and for good reason. The grand total of mortgage, credit card, student loans, and auto loan debt is a stunning $13.5 trillion. Every man, woman, and child owes an average of $43,000 if we divided this mountain of debt.  Should we break this down to each individual household the amount comes out to over $120,000 per household. That’s a lot of money in interest to pay when income is drying up or disappearing entirely. 

We are very getting close to the beginning of a very hard ride down.

We have reached the endgame of Capitalism. "Globalization has reached the point of diminishing returns, as long supply chains, newly impoverished populations, foreign government expropriations, open rebellions against local predatory Elites and other factors reduce the plump gains. The Financial Power Elites have now strip mined the domestic middle class, and there are no big profits left in picking over the carcass,” writes Charles Hugh Smith. thinks that the phenomenon popularly known as globalization is in the process of rolling over, and that it will be replaced in the coming years by its opposite, localization.

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A deflationary/inflationary depression will be difficult to live through especially if you lose your life’s savings.

Smith continues, “A slow-growth real economy has been replaced with a credit-based speculative financial economy dependent on low interest rates and systemic fraud to survive. It is now imploding on a global scale. Governments around the world have attempted to replace the real economy of value produced with a financial model based on credit growth and speculation. They have failed, and their constructs are imploding before our eyes.”

Markets are starting to take away the credit card for sovereign nations around the world – a low blow to the groin of the green shoot recovery.

There is so much that can be said about so many subjects and areas of life that are in decline but there is one common area of experience, a point of no return or saturation point that hits in the gut with life destroying consequences. It’s a point individuals en mass have recently reached and now town, city, state and federal governments around the world are reaching it – but not quite simultaneously. Anyone who has been there knows when you have borrowed more money than you can ever hope to pay back your life changes in really disturbing ways. It is at these points that we lose the choice of good outcome or bad outcome we only have bad outcomes to choose from.

How we or organizations or governments act at such a time makes all the difference in the world as far as outcome. The problem is that no outcome is going to be favorable but if we choose incorrectly we can destroy lives and even nations and beyond that our entire modern civilization. This is where governments are at now. They spend so much more than they take in they are left with only bad choices and they are choosing badly making the consequences dramatically worse but there is no other political way. It’s baked into the cake already, so to speak. From all the wrongs and corruptions things can only get worse until they cannot get any worse so the bad replicates and multiplies (increasing unpayable debt) until it collapses and the system goes out like a wild fire. Government debt is the very bedrock of the financial system: should Greek government bonds collapse or any countries bonds collapse it will threaten the entire system because everyone owes money to everyone else.

The percentage of US personal income coming from private sector earnings hit an all-time low and is now just 41%! At the same time, obviously, the percentage of income coming from direct government payments has risen sharply in recent years and is now at an all-time high.

So when a government starts considering bankruptcy bankers start losing their sleep. Consider the facts, bankruptcy is inevitable for insolvency and fiscal madness is already the reality in most countries in the first world with many town municipalities, cities and states right behind them. It’s a stop the music moment around the chairs when bankruptcy is actually declared – for individuals its one thing but for governments it’s entirely on a different scale with disastrous consequences to the system if a country goes down like Greece, or a state like California, or a city like Los Angeles.

Justice Litle, Editorial Director, Taipan Publishing Group published an important commentary on this issue and moment that many are passing through:

“When a household accumulates a certain amount of debt, for example, there comes a point where bankruptcy is the only logical option. Imagine a man with a $50,000 salary and $200,000 in credit card debt, racking up 24% interest at a compounding rate, trying desperately to handle the bills while supporting a family of four. The math in such a situation quickly becomes impossible. Unless the man is willing to starve his children, move into a shelter, or some other drastic thing, the debt dynamics force him to consider bankruptcy… or to otherwise completely throw his hand in on paying back what he owes.”

“Bankruptcy is a horrible thing to experience. It is a pride-sapping process and a humbling admission of defeat. But sometimes, it is also the right thing to do. In certain situations, the avoidance of bankruptcy only makes the problem worse. Think of the family man with $200,000 in credit card debts again. Imagine if this man were to refuse bankruptcy as a point of stubborn pride, deciding he could cut back on expenses instead.”

“At the end of the day, bankruptcy is a necessary function of the free market system. This is because, under any free market system in which credit is freely available, situations will inevitably arise where the compounding costs of debt service become too large for the debtor to bear. The above is true for households, it is true for businesses, and it is true for governments.”

So when do we declare bankruptcy? That’s now the billion and trillion dollar question though for individuals five digit debt loads can do them in. For a small city like Harrisburg, Pa., the state capital, with a population of only 55,000, it’s the magic number of $70 million in debt payments due this year that will put them under. Harrisburg now has one of the lowest credit ratings of any municipality in the United States and the talk is hot for bankruptcy filing.

You don’t have the easy out of increasing revenue and you have a lot more call on services because of the economy. There’s no such thing as entertaining bankruptcy; there’s ending denial. Chriss Street – Orange County Treasurer

Vallejo, California is the largest city in California history to file for bankruptcy. The city council did begin cutting costs early on but ran through its reserves and sought bankruptcy protection in May 2008. Like in most places in the first world, unrestrained spending, out-of-control pension costs, a burst housing bubble and dropping tax receipts did them in. The bankruptcy was an attempt to fix the situation but in the case of Ireland it has only made matters worse. Some believe that if it hadn’t been for the bankruptcy, the problems would have been worse. The city could not pay its bills. But trees go untrimmed, potholes unfilled, city services are in steep decline and even Wal-Mart has deserted the town.

City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana said Los Angeles does not want its "brand" tarnished by bankruptcy and that the city can avoid it by continuing to cut spending, by reducing its work force and by handing off some services to the private sector and nonprofits. "Bankruptcy is what you do when you run out of options," Santana said.

There is this point before we have entered a series of actions destined to carry us over the brink with unpayable debt, there is that period when we know we have gone too far but continue on for as long as our credit holds out, then there is that desperate time when our credit does run out or our cash flow dries up. When is it best to stop the play and call it quits in bankruptcy court? When do we default is the key; and come on, we have to understand the motives of delaying the inevitable as long as we can pay with the resources we have.

In the current economic climate talk of bankruptcy has become more common. It’s the “B” word and it’s slipping from peoples’ mouth with increasing ease and of course bankruptcy rates have skyrocketed. Towns, cities, states and countries will find out the consequences of their choices in time. The measuring stick obviously is seen in the suffering their citizens are suffering through. Many believe the worst thing that can be done is to install austerity plans without filing bankruptcy meaning punish the people, take on more debt and protect the banks. People are already fighting on the streets about this.

“Europe is rescuing its economy in the same way that the Federal Reserve has attempted to save America’s financial system and economy.  They have used an unprecedented aid and stimulus package to offset massive fiscal deficits. In the US a deflationary depression was avoided at least temporarily and that is what is now being attempted in Europe with the guidance of the Federal Reserve,’ writes Bob Chapman.

Chapmen comments, ‘‘We Are now closing in on the next planned world war as a result. When and where we can only guess, but it surely is on the way, the same way it was in the late 1930s. War is a distraction and it succeeds in culling the population. It is also a cover-up for massive financial and economic problems that have resulted from the financial elite looting the system. The system is not being fixed and deliberately so. The elitists do not want it fixed. They want a collapse. This is the only way they can force people to accept world government.’’

Yes the world is complicated and there are some very nasty people we have to share the planet with. The first world en mass should have declared bankruptcy many years ago and reorganized itself along more humble designs. Looking at the situation as a whole, it is now way too late to save the system, so it will collapse. It is just a matter of when. It will be like a gigantic tidal wave sweeping in from the seas so our capacity to survive will depend very much on where we are and on how prepared we are.

Until that moment we and all of our towns, cities, states and countries have to fend for themselves financially unless some big brother continues to bail them and us out with more credit and debt. Justice Litle said, “In saying "no" to bankruptcy – i.e. some form of organized debt default – Europe is saying "yes" to a diet of fiscal pain that could economically crush the eurozone. In this the sins of the fathers (i.e. the current generation of voters and politicians) are being invited upon the children and grandchildren. Worst of all, Europe’s day-late and dollar-short "austerity now" attempts are being done for the sake of saving political face, moreso than out of long-term strategic interest or common sense.  “Or, alternatively, Europe can admit the impossibility of the current situation and allow struggling eurozone members to default, with the option of leaving the eurozone completely. This second alternative would also be a kind of hell… but it would be hell for the politicians, not the populace. There would have to be a readiness and a willingness to admit that the "grand experiment" known as the euro has essentially failed… that too much debt, mostly accumulated in happier times, has torn the union asunder… and that the idea of disparate countries holding hands and singing financial kumbaya was a pipe dream from the start,” concludes Litle.

Governments around the world ran up record debts during the $5 trillion effort to pull the economy out of its deepest slump since the Great Depression and now face a tough balancing act: how to reduce debt without choking off growth and that is just about impossible. The debt is unpayable and investors are slowly waking up to that reality.

The next bear-market will in all likelihood be much more traumatizing then the previous one.  The West will be unable to provide more ‘stimulus’ this time around because their balance-sheets are already in a terrible state. So during the next bear-market, sovereign default risk will be the Achilles Heel. Instead of financial institutions going bust this time small and midsized companies, towns, cities, states and even entire nations are likely to default. And millions more will lose their jobs as all hell breaks loose.

Hugh Hdenry says, "I would recommend you panic. The European banking system is in a crisis. "Let’s purge this system of its rottenness. Let’s take on a recession. It’s going to be tough, people are gonna lose their jobs. They are going to lose their jobs anyway. We can spread this over 20 years, or we can get rid of it over 3 years." The main point here is that what we do now, and have already done these last few years will affect us down line in terms of outcome.

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Dr. Mark Sircus AC., OMD, DM (P)

Director International Medical Veritas Association
Doctor of Oriental and Pastoral Medicine

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