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Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Niall Ferguson - America's Oh Shit Moment

From The Daily Beast

Don’t call me a “declinist.” I really don’t believe the United States—or Western civilization, more generally—is in some kind of gradual, inexorable decline.

But that’s not because I am one of those incorrigible optimists who agree with Winston Churchill that the United States will always do the right thing, albeit when all other possibilities have been exhausted.

In my view, civilizations don’t rise, fall, and then gently decline, as inevitably and predictably as the four seasons or the seven ages of man. History isn’t one smooth, parabolic curve after another. Its shape is more like an exponentially steepening slope that quite suddenly drops off like a cliff.

If you don’t know what I mean, pay a visit to Machu Picchu, the lost city of the Incas. In 1530 the Incas were the masters of all they surveyed from the heights of the Peruvian Andes. Within less than a decade, foreign invaders with horses, gunpowder, and lethal diseases had smashed their empire to smithereens. Today tourists gawp at the ruins that remain.

The notion that civilizations don’t decline but collapse inspired the anthropologist Jared Diamond’s 2005 book, Collapse. But Diamond focused, fashionably, on man-made environmental disasters as the causes of collapse. As a historian, I take a broader view. My point is that when you look back on the history of past civilizations, a striking feature is the speed with which most of them collapsed, regardless of the cause.

The Roman Empire didn’t decline and fall sedately, as historians used to claim. It collapsed within a few decades in the early fifth century, tipped over the edge of chaos by barbarian invaders and internal divisions. In the space of a generation, the vast imperial metropolis of Rome fell into disrepair, the aqueducts broken, the splendid marketplaces deserted.

The Ming dynasty’s rule in China also fell apart with extraordinary speed in the mid–17th century, succumbing to internal strife and external invasion. Again, the transition from equipoise to anarchy took little more than a decade.

A more recent and familiar example of precipitous decline is, of course, the collapse of the Soviet Union. And, if you still doubt that collapse comes suddenly, just think of how the postcolonial dictatorships of North Africa and the Middle East imploded this year. Twelve months ago, Messrs. Ben Ali, Mubarak, and Gaddafi seemed secure in their gaudy palaces. Here yesterday, gone today.

What all these collapsed powers have in common is that the complex social systems that underpinned them suddenly ceased to function. One minute rulers had legitimacy in the eyes of their people; the next they didn’t.

This process is a familiar one to students of financial markets. Even as I write, it is far from clear that the European Monetary Union can be salvaged from the dramatic collapse of confidence in the fiscal policies of its peripheral member states. In the realm of power, as in the domain of the bond vigilantes, you’re fine until you’re not fine—and when you’re not fine, you’re suddenly in a terrifying death spiral.The West first surged ahead of the Rest after about 1500 thanks to a series of institutional innovations called the “killer applications”:

1. Competition. Europe was politically fragmented into multiple monarchies and republics, which were in turn internally divided into competing corporate entities, among them the ancestors of modern business corporations.

2. The Scientific Revolution. All the major 17th-century breakthroughs in mathematics, astronomy, physics, chemistry, and biology happened in Western Europe.

3. The Rule of Law and Representative Government. An optimal system of social and political order emerged in the English-speaking world, based on private-property rights and the representation of property owners in elected legislatures.

4. Modern Medicine. Nearly all the major 19th- and 20th-century breakthroughs in health care were made by Western Europeans and North Americans.

5. The Consumer Society. The Industrial Revolution took place where there was both a supply of productivity-enhancing technologies and a demand for more, better, and cheaper goods, beginning with cotton garments.

6. The Work Ethic. Westerners were the first people in the world to combine more extensive and intensive labor with higher savings rates, permitting sustained capital accumulation.

For hundreds of years, these killer apps were essentially monopolized by Europeans and their cousins who settled in North America and Australasia. They are the best explanation for what economic historians call “the great divergence”: the astonishing gap that arose between Western standards of living and those in the rest of the world.

In 1500 the average Chinese was richer than the average North American. By the late 1970s the American was more than 20 times richer than the Chinese. Westerners not only grew richer than “Resterners.” They grew taller, healthier, and longer-lived. They also grew more powerful. By the early 20th century, just a dozen Western empires—-including the United States—controlled 58 percent of the world’s land surface and population, and a staggering 74 percent of the global economy.

Beginning with Japan, however, one non-Western society after another has worked out that these apps can be downloaded and installed in non-Western operating systems. That explains about half the catching up that we have witnessed in our lifetimes, especially since the onset of economic reforms in China in 1978.

Now, I am not one of those people filled with angst at the thought of a world in which the average American is no longer vastly richer than the average Chinese. Indeed, I welcome the escape of hundreds of millions of Asians from poverty, not to mention the improvements we are seeing in South America and parts of Africa. But there is a second, more insidious cause of the “great reconvergence,” which I do deplore—and that is the tendency of Western societies to delete their own killer apps.

Ask yourself: who’s got the work ethic now? The average South Korean works about 39 percent more hours per week than the average American. The school year in South Korea is 220 days long, compared with 180 days here. And you don’t have to spend too long at any major U.S. university to know which students really drive themselves: the Asians and Asian-Americans.

The consumer society? Did you know that 26 of the 30 biggest shopping malls in the world are now in emerging markets, mostly in Asia? Only three are in the United States. And, boy, do they look forlorn these days, as maxed-out Americans struggle to pay down their debts.

Modern medicine? Well, we certainly outspend everyone else. As a share of gross domestic product, the United States spends twice what Japan spends on health care and more than three times what China spends. Yet life expectancy in the U.S. has risen from 70 to 78 in the past 50 years, compared with leaps from 68 to 83 in Japan and from 43 to 73 in China.

The rule of law? For a real eye-opener, take a look at the latest World Economic Forum (WEF) Executive Opinion Survey. On no fewer than 15 of 16 different issues relating to property rights and governance, the United States fares worse than Hong Kong. Indeed, the U.S. makes the global top 20 in only one area: investor protection. On every other count, its reputation is shockingly bad. The U.S. ranks 86th in the world for the costs imposed on business by organized crime, 50th for public trust in the ethics of politicians, 42nd for various forms of bribery, and 40th for standards of auditing and financial reporting.

What about science? It’s certainly true that U.S.-based scientists continue to walk off with plenty of Nobel Prizes each year. But Nobel winners are old men. The future belongs not to them but to today’s teenagers. Here’s another striking statistic. Every three years the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development’s Program for International Student Assessment tests the educational attainment of 15-year-olds around the world. The latest data on “mathematical literacy” reveal that the gap between the world leaders—the students of Shanghai and Singapore—and their American counterparts is now as big as the gap between U.S. kids and teenagers in Albania and Tunisia.

The late, lamented Steve Jobs convinced Americans that the future would be “Designed by Apple in California. Assembled in China.” Yet statistics from the World Intellectual Property Organization show that already more patents originate in Japan than in the U.S., that South Korea overtook Germany to take third place in 2005, and that China is poised to overtake Germany too.

Finally, there’s competition, the original killer app that sent the fragmented West down a completely different path from monolithic imperial China. Well, the WEF has conducted a comprehensive Global Competitiveness survey every year since 1979. Since the current methodology was adopted in 2004, the United States’ average competitiveness score has fallen from 5.82 to 5.43, one of the steepest declines among developed economies. China’s score, meanwhile, has leapt up from 4.29 to 4.90.

And it’s not only that we’re becoming less competitive abroad. Perhaps more disturbing is the decline of meaningful competition at home, as the social mobility of the postwar era has given way to an extraordinary social polarization. You don’t have to be an Occupy Wall Street leftist to believe that the American super-rich elite—the 1 percent that collects 20 percent of the income—has become dangerously divorced from the rest of society, especially from the underclass at the bottom of the income distribution.

But if we are headed toward collapse, what would an American “Oh sh*t!” moment look like? An upsurge in civil unrest and crime, as happened in the 1970s? A loss of faith on the part of investors and a sudden Greek-style leap in government borrowing costs? How about a spike of violence in the Middle East, from Iraq to Afghanistan, as insurgents capitalize on our troop withdrawals? Or a paralyzing cyberattack from the rising Asian superpower we complacently underrate?

Is there anything we can do to prevent such disasters? Social scientist Charles Murray calls for a “civic great awakening”—a return to the original values of the American republic. He’s got a point. Far more than in Europe, most Americans remain instinctively loyal to the killer applications of Western ascendancy, from competition all the way through to the work ethic. They know the country has the right software. They just can’t understand why it’s running so damn slowly.

What we need to do is to delete the viruses that have crept into our system: the anticompetitive quasi monopolies that blight everything from banking to public education; the politically correct pseudosciences and soft subjects that deflect good students away from hard science; the lobbyists who subvert the rule of law for the sake of the special interests they represent—to say nothing of our crazily dysfunctional system of health care, our overleveraged personal finances, and our newfound unemployment ethic.

Then we need to download the updates that are running more successfully in other countries, from Finland to New Zealand, from Denmark to Hong Kong, from Singapore to Sweden.

And finally we need to reboot our whole system.

I refuse to accept that Western civilization is like some hopeless old version of Microsoft DOS, doomed to freeze, then crash. I still cling to the hope that the United States is the Mac to Europe’s PC, and that if one part of the West can successfully update and reboot itself, it’s America.

But the lesson of history is clear. Voters and politicians alike dare not postpone the big reboot. Decline is not so gradual that our biggest problems can simply be left to the next administration, or the one after that.

If what we are risking is not decline but downright collapse, then the time frame may be even tighter than one election cycle.

Western Civilization's Killer Apps

Western societies divided into competing factions, leading to progressive improvements.

Breakthroughs in mathematics, astronomy, physics, chemistry, and biology.

Representative government based on private-property rights and democratic elections.

19th- and 20th-century advances in germ theory, antibiotics, and anesthesia.

Leaps in productivity combined with widespread demand for more, better, and cheaper goods.

Combination of intensive labor with higher savings rates, permitting sustained capital accumulation.
This essay is adapted from Niall Ferguson’s new book, Civilization: The West and the Rest, published by Penguin Press. The accompanying television series will air on PBS in 2012.


  1. Good read!

    It is very hard for many students/citizens to get their heads around the truism that savings is IDENTICAL (not equal) to investment. If I buy a new piece of equipment for my business, that purchase represents not only investment but also savings. Capitalism is the best system, to date, for expressing this reality, recalling that capital is NOT money; instead, capital is the means of production, the value of which is measured in local monetary terms. As J. Paul Getty wrote, "Money is just the means of keeping score. It is not the end." (more or less)

    While possibly confused, I do not believe there were any average or other Western North Americans in 1500. That said, I tend to view his appraisal favorably: Indeed, civilizations seem to collapse precipitously, e.g. the Mayan culture or that of Crete. Granted, the causes vary, but the outcome is the same.

  2. When the Roman Empire fell there was nothing comparable to replace it. But what happens these days? World communism falls overnight, it gets immediately replaced by rebooted states embracing capitalism. What we call "Western Civilization" is now world civilization, and the whole world would have to collapse simultaneously to usher in a true dark ages. So it's two steps forward, one step back. There is such a thing as creative destruction.

  3. "What we call "Western Civilization" is now world civilization, and the whole world would have to collapse simultaneously to usher in a true dark ages"



    Ever heard of the Muslim World?

    Dark Ages Indeed!

  4. Oh, I forgot:

    It's the ARAB SPRING!

    ...that'll make it all better for the Christians expelled or liquidated.

  5. You remind me, I haven't been to
    "Hurry up Harry's"
    in years.
    They were great in Chronicling Muslim-Left alliances.

  6. Elements of the KGB ruled the Soviet Union, then, they rule Russia, today.

    There was no collapse of their civilization, nor their culture.

    There was a restructuring of their economy, as oil prices tanked, but no collapse of civilization.

    The men of the KGB ran the Soviet Union, they run Russia, still.

    Their marketing changed, altering some of the public's perceptions, but not the substance of the civilization.


  7. (Reuters) - U.S. private employers added more jobs than expected last month, while planned layoffs dropped sharply, underscoring the view the economy is on a path of slow growth.

    The ADP National Employment Report showed on Wednesday the economy's private sector added 110,000 jobs in October, topping economists' expectations for a gain of 101,000 jobs. ADP also increased September's job additions, to a gain of 116,000 from the previously reported 91,000.


  8. Nov. 2 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama gained support among voters in October, according to an independent poll showing him with improved job-approval ratings and strength in contests against Republicans campaigning for his office in 2012.

    The 47 percent job-approval recorded for Obama in a Quinnipiac University poll of voters conducted Oct. 25-31 is up from 41 percent in a similar survey released Oct. 6. The percentage of voters voicing disapproval of his performance is down to 49 percent from 55 percent.

    Voters are statistically divided over the question of whether the Democrat deserves a second term, with 47 percent saying yes in the survey and 49 percent no. That compares with 54 percent who said Obama didn’t deserve re-election in the last poll and 42 percent who said he did.

  9. Western companies help Iranian police track regime opponents

    The Iranian officers who knocked out Saeid Pourheydar’s four front teeth also enlightened the opposition journalist. Held in Evin Prison for weeks following his arrest early last year for protesting, he says, he learned that he was not only fighting the regime, but also companies that armed Tehran with technology to monitor dissidents like him.

    Pourheydar, 30, says the power of this enemy became clear as intelligence officers brandished transcripts of his mobile phone calls, e-mails and text messages during his detention. About half the political prisoners he met in jail told him police had tracked their communications and movements through their cell phones, he says.

    “This is a commerce of death for the companies that place this technology in the hands of dictatorships,” Pourheydar says.

    So begins a must-read report by Bloomberg News on the complicity of Western technology companies in Iran’s suppression of anti-regime protests. It deserves the widest possible circulation and attention.

    Bloomberg singles out three companies for scrutiny:


    Anaximanders other sandal said...

    "So here we have a British company that is profiting by aiding a brutal rightwing regime to stay in power through suppression of pro-democracy opponents.”

    In what way is Iran “right wing”?

    Good article, totally agree it needs exposing, pity it has to have the obligatory ridiculous leftist “right wing” slur.

    Iran is an Islamic republic, yes it’s government is made up of despotic Jew hating theocratic lunatics, yes it’s a disgrace to our species and yes it is loved by every single bug eyed leftist lunatic on the planet.

    And yet you Leftists think it’s “right wing”

    Tell me Gene, are you and the rest of the “bueatiful people” on crack?

    We conservatives are “right wing” the rest are simply different flavors of fascism, Mussolinni, the man who gave birth to fascism was the long time editor of a socialist magazine, the national socialists didn’t call themselves the national “conservatives” because if you bother to read their fucking charter you discover that it reads like a stereotypical socialist agenda.

    Iran is “right wing”, yeah “right”

  10. Well, Doug, the regime of Abracadabra is of the "right wing" of Iranian politics.


  11. Citing "internal company records," Bloomberg Markets magazine reported Monday that Koch Industries used subsidiaries in Germany and Italy "to sidestep a U.S. trade ban barring American companies from selling material to Iran."

    "Every single chance they had to do business with Iran, or anyone, else, they did," George Bentu, who worked as a sales engineer for Koch-Glitsch in Germany from 2001 to 2007, told Bloomberg Markets magazine.

    Koch products enabled a state-owned Iranian company to build the largest methanol plant in the world.

    The secretive gas-and-oil giant continued selling to Iran as recently as 2007, Bloomberg reported.

    "Koch Industries took elaborate steps to ensure that it's U.S.-based employees weren't involved in the sales to Iran," Bloomberg reported, citing internal documents.

    A spokeswoman for Koch Industries insisted no U.S. laws were broken.

    Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/tea-party-backers-david-charles-koch-sold-oil-equipment-iran-u-s-ban-report-article-1.960152#ixzz1cYw4WU00

  12. If you cannot get a monkey into space, well, you're not putting a nuclear warhead on target, intact, either.

    Nearly a half-century after John Glenn orbited the earth, the Iranian space program botched its first attempt to send a live monkey into space.

    The Kovoshgar-5 rocket carrying the furry flier was launched sometime between Aug. 23 and Sept. 22 - but the flight didn't go as planned, Iranian officials admit.

    Deputy Science Minister Mohammad Mehdinejad-Nouri confirmed the failure in a cryptic comment to reporters.

    "The launch was not publicized as all of its anticipated objectives were not accomplished," he said without elaborating.

    Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/iran-space-program-confirms-attempt-send-live-monkey-orbit-failed-article-1.962929#ixzz1cYxRywsI

    Those Iranians, so far behind the technological curve, the Koch brothers feel safe in selling them the components of dual use chemical manufacturing equipment, from their Europeon subsidiaries.

  13. Taliban tactics in Tower Hamlets

    Perhaps I’m expecting too much, and maybe I’m getting overly emotional about a rare and isolated incident. But then I read that, in the same part of east London, religiously-inspired anti-gay posters and threats against homosexuals are on the rise, as are the pressures on young women to ‘cover up’, and advertising hoardings have been routinely vandalized.

    I don’t live in the area, and I can no longer claim to know it well, and for all I know most teachers, gays, and women in Tower Hamlets still feel safe to go about their normal business, express their sexuality, and wear what they want, without fear of what happened to Gary Smith.

  14. Yada, yada, yada. I've heard it all before. Believed it then; grew a brain, since.

    The "divergence" came with the Magna Carta.

    When the Chinese adopt a similar document I'll start paying more attention.

    In the meantime, they're a creation of David Rockefelller, and George H.W. Bush (with a little help from me, and thee.) A Giant Corporation, with a niche market model (slave labor.)

  15. "Im not sure why I’ve been so affected by the story of Gary Smith, the east London RE teacher who was assaulted by four Islamic extremists because they disapproved of him teaching religion to Muslim girls. Perhaps it was the sheer ferocity of the attack, in which a Stanley knife, an iron rod and a block of cement were used, and which left Smith with a fractured skull and a permanently scarred face.

    Maybe I was taken aback by the unexceptional nature of what this ordinary schoolteacher did to arouse such naked violence. It’s not entirely clear precisely what Azad Hussain, Akmol Hussein, Simon Alam and Sheikh Rashid found objectionable about Smith’s teaching: whether it was the fact that he presumed to talk about Islam when he’s not himself a Muslim, or that he was teaching religion in an open-minded way rather than in the form of indoctrination (one of the accused railed against him for ‘putting thoughts in people’s minds’), or simply that he was exposing young women to the same kind of curriculum that’s available to young men.

    Whichever it was, none of these things is unusual in the British education system, and Gary Smith was only doing what thousands of teachers up and down the country do every day.

  16. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to rally support in his cabinet for an attack on Iran, according to government sources.

    The country's defence minister Ehud Barak and the foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman are said to be among those backing a pre-emptive strike to neutralise Iran's nuclear ambitions.
    But a narrow majority of ministers currently oppose the move, which could trigger a wave of regional retaliation.
    The debate over possible Israeli military action has reached fever pitch in recent days with newspaper leader columns discussing the benefits and dangers of hitting Iran.
    Mr Lieberman responded to the reports of a push to gain cabinet approval by saying that "Iran poses the most dangerous threat to world order."

    Iran may be a threat to good old Bibi. That is his business and those in Israel who support him. If he wants to bomb Iran , then he can live with the glory and the consequences. I hope Obama has the balls and sense to tell him that if he goes alone, he stays alone. Israel can take full financial and political responsibility for its own actions.

    I knew as I saw that absurd trade of 1000 to 1, that Netanyahu wanted no Israeli hostages in arab so that he was free to act. He should be reminded that he is still free to act but free means free of US being dragged into another ME war.

  17. Poor old Bibi should be thinking about the 6 million hostages he is responsible for, smack dab in the middle of Arabia.

    That is his reality.

    He's going to get them killed, if the Israeli move militarily against Iran.

  18. .

    In what way is Iran “right wing”?

    Good article, totally agree it needs exposing, pity it has to have the obligatory ridiculous leftist “right wing” slur.

    Iran is an Islamic republic, yes it’s government is made up of despotic Jew hating theocratic lunatics, yes it’s a disgrace to our species and yes it is loved by every single bug eyed leftist lunatic on the planet.


    Too funny.

    Nothing like a little humor with the morning joe.


  19. Back to the "here, and now" in the real world. A most interesting EIA Report, today.

    Gasoline Demand for the last 4 weeks is down 4% from the same period last year.

    However, Diesel demand continues to run well ahead of last year (up 6.6% from the same period last year.)

    These numbers aren't weekly, or monthly anomalies. Theyve run in a similar range, albeit not quite as pronounced, All Year.

    It's really caught my interest. EIA Report

  20. Too funny.

    Nothing like a little humor with the morning joe.


    OK, explain the example to this moronic "ideologue" who doesn't get the "joke."

  21. The product is moving to market, rufus ...

    ... while ...

    ... recreational driving has taken a hit.

  22. .

    I don't know what Israel's military capabilities are but, short of nuclear attack, from what you read it appears the horse has left the barn in terms of crippling Iran's nuclear capability.

    It kind of sounds more like Iran's biggest hindrance is itself. But who knows?


  23. Yeah, that's more or less, it, Rat.

    The "fleet" certainly isn't anywhere near that much more efficient (I figure maybe 1/10 of 1 percent more efficient.)

  24. "Maybe," 0.5 of 1% at the very top.

  25. .

    OK, explain the example to this moronic "ideologue" who doesn't get the "joke."

    It is the thought process of the Kool-Aid drinker I find amusing.

    You bemoan the fact that the "right" is being pigeon-holed and lumped into some huge amorphous category. You even go so far as to parse what it does and doesn't mean to be "right".

    Then in the same post you lump anyone you don't like into a category called "left".

    The humorous part, to me, is that it comes so naturally to you and you don't even see you are doing it.


  26. And, I'm being, perhaps, a bit unfair to GHW Bush. R. Nixon, J. Carter, and R. Reagan designed the engine, and W. Clinton added the Turbocharger to it.

  27. "The humorous part, to me, is that it comes so naturally to you and you don't even see you are doing it."


    Yes, indeed!
    Your "insights" are flawless,
    mine, blind.

    ...as judged by you.

    The Great One

  28. .

    The Great One

    Aw, cut it out Doug.

    People haven't called me that for years. But thanks.


  29. Of course the Soviet collapsed. It abruptly changed from a Marxist regime into a Fascist one in the course of months. American “intelligence” had no inkling of the oncoming political tsunami. Apparently, amazingly, some still have not caught on.

  30. .

    Yes, indeed!
    Your "insights" are flawless,
    mine, blind.

    Not blind Doug, merely skewed.

    I'm sure if we sat down over a couple of drinks I could quickly get you back on course.


  31. They did enjoy the Yeltsin Spring while it lasted, Allen.

    ...or at least Yeltsin did.


  32. No doubt I too could become a useful equivalist, if you have the shock treatment setup behind the bar, Quirkie.

  33. ...you've inspired me to invent a new word.

  34. Further back, than that, rufus.

    A direct line from Admiral Perry's adventure in Japan, in 1854, to Teddy sending the "Great White Fleet" around the whirled in 1907.

    The Opium Wars, in China, the First Opium War, 1839 to 1842, and the Second Opium War from 1856 to 1860, both exemplifying Civilization's ever extending reach in Asia.

    The annexation of Hawaii, in 1898, by the US, just another piece of the expansion of civilization across the ocean and around the Pacific Rim.

  35. Yeah, don't forget Sir Francis.

  36. He was just passin' through, Doug.

  37. Thinking of Captain Cook, of course.

  38. "The esteem in which he was nevertheless held by the Hawaiians resulted in his body being retained by their chiefs and elders.

    Following the practice of the time, Cook's body underwent funerary rituals similar to those reserved for the chiefs and highest elders of the society. The body was disembowelled, baked to facilitate removal of the flesh, and the bones were carefully cleaned for preservation as religious icons in a fashion somewhat reminiscent of the treatment of European saints in the Middle Ages.

    We could do that to honor Quirk's brilliance!

  39. Then research the history of the Russell Company, of China, India and New Haven, Connecticut.

    How the management of that trading company and it's surviving trust were intimately related to many past Presidents of the United States, by both blood and treasure.

    Culturally connected, to say the least.

  40. I gotta think the Fed has it wrong. With "Consumer Spending" being somewhere between 70% and 80% (call it 75%) of GDP, I can't imagine a scenario where GDP is "growing," while "consumers" are driving 4% less.

    Maybe I'm too strongly "invested" in an idea whose time has "come, and gone," but I'm sticking with it for another month. Then I'll "reevaluate."

  41. Here I was thinking of Sir Frances Drake.

    Captain Cook, after he was cooked, to meat fallin' off the bone tender, did he do a pass through?


  42. Dirty White Boys

    An alleged plot to attack federal and state officials by suspected members of a fringe north Georgia militia group was inspired by an online anti-government novel, authorities said.

    Court documents state that 73-year-old Frederick Thomas, a suspected member of the group, told others that he intended to model their actions on the online novel "Absolved," which involves small groups of citizens attacking U.S. officials.

    The four suspected members, who federal authorities arrested Tuesday, were expected to appear in court Wednesday.

    They were part of a group that also tried to obtain an unregistered explosive device and sought out the complex formula to produce Ricin, a biological toxin that can be lethal in small doses, according to a federal complaint.

    Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/11/01/4-suspected-us-militia-members-charged-in-plot/#ixzz1cZJSPevF

  43. That's what that article Rat linked was saying, Rufus:

    Prepare for Recession II

  44. .

    No doubt I too could become a useful equivalist, if you have the shock treatment setup behind the bar, Quirkie.

    Naw, she had to leave early today but we've got her scheduled back in on Thursday.


  45. Re: I can't imagine a scenario where GDP is "growing," while "consumers" are driving 4% less.

    "Imagine" as in imaginary is the right track. I would bet serious money that in 1-2 months time a revision of the information, seriously downward, will occur. That has been the pattern for years, just as announcing bank failures occurs at about 1900, Friday evenings.

  46. Friends and longtime acquaintances say Cain has a gift for connecting with people, recalling names and exuding a warmth that belies his position as a successful executive. But they say it is possible that some may misconstrue his jokes and mannerisms.

    “He’s professional, but he’s very friendly,” said Steve Grubbs, Cain’s Iowa chairman. “Maybe some people mis­interpret friendly. But I can tell you this: He’s not afraid to give you a slap on the back or an enthusiastic handshake. He’s a gregarious person in many ways.”

    Karol Markowicz, who worked as deputy press secretary to Cain during his 2004 Senate bid and traveled throughout Georgia with him during that campaign, said that Cain was, and still is, “extremely friendly.” But that didn’t translate into more glad-handing on the campaign trail than any other politician was doing.

    “I don’t remember him being a big hugger,” she said. “If he slapped people on the back, he did it to men and women.”

    Even as a top executive, Cain traveled often to speak with low-level employees and see how stores were faring on the ground. He rarely hesitated to pitch in if a restaurant was swamped and often slipped well-performing employees $50 on the spot to reward their work. The result, particularly at Godfather’s Pizza, was an abiding loyalty from his top deputies that remains today.

    On the campaign trail, he has an unrestrained style that some supporters like but that at times rubs people the wrong way. He drew fire, for example, for suggesting that an electric fence be erected along the southern U.S. border. He later said he was joking but, in some settings, treated the idea seriously. Cain, who is black, also has joked repeatedly about race.

  47. Rufus II said...

    Gasoline Demand for the last 4 weeks is down 4% from the same period last year.

    However, Diesel demand continues to run well ahead of last year (up 6.6% from the same period last year.)

    The bottom line:

    Total products supplied over the last four-week period have averaged 18.6 million barrels per day, down by 1.9 percent compared to the similar period last year.

    This with US GDP for 3Q +2.5%.

    Peak demand.

  48. More from Mr Cain, the return of the "Know Nothings"?

    In an interview Monday, Cain said part of China's threat to the United States stems from its attempts to develop nuclear weapons -- even though
    China tested its first nuclear weaponin 1964.

    "Yes, they're a military threat," Cain said on the PBS NewsHour, in response to a question from Judy Woodruff.
    "They've indicated that they're trying to develop nuclear capability
    ... and they want to develop more aircraft carriers like we have. So yes, we have to consider them a military threat."

  49. I have no illusions about how bad it will get in the ME. It is obvious in that the Christians are fleeing by the hundreds of thousands. I have no doubt that a significant number of Arabs fear and loathe the idea of an Iranian hegemony. We have heard our very good friends the Pakis have indeed introduced nuclear weapon technology to Syria and Libya. Iraq will be imploding before long and all our glorious investment will sink into the sand.
    Israel is simply in the wrong place and at the wrong time. Israel should have one single minded foreign policy and that should be in developing alliances with Egypt and Turkey. If Turkey and Egypt are secretly happy with Israel eliminating a nuclear armed Iran and we stay out of it, it is fine with me.

  50. Newt Gingrich, the great GOP hope.

  51. House reaffirms that "In God We Trust" is America's national motto.

    On cue, liberals throw a hissy fit.

    Meanwhile, Obama says,“I trust in God, but God wants to see us help ourselves by putting people back to work.”

    For each of the 984 Occupy Wall Street protesters arrested in New York City between September 18 and October 15, police collected and filed an information sheet...at least 95 of the protesters’ residences are worth approximately $500,000 or more. 99% my ass.

  52. That price range buys lower middle-class housing, in New York, Ms T.

    Avg. Listing Price $1,900,253

    Median Sales Price $1,075,000
    Jul '11 - Sep '11

    New York Real Estate Overview
    November 2, 2011
    Market View for New York

    $500,000 won't buy a closet.

  53. T, U.S. "Demand" Peaked on August, 2006 at 21,434,000 million barrels/day.

    EIA Data

  54. Turkey and Egypt are long gone, Deuce.

  55. Of course, while Demand was shrinking in the U.S., and the rest of the OECD, it was Expanding in China, India, S. America, the Middle East, and Africa by a like amount.

    As it had to, since "Supply" has remained Even.

  56. Cain elaborated on Greta:

    "I was refering to the fact that they are continuing to develope their nuclear capability."

  57. I don't know about Egypt, but I would doubt that Turkey wants to see a "Nuclear" Iran.

  58. DR: Avg. Listing Price $1,900,253

    Rat, if you add my $250,000 hut and Bill Gates' $56 million mansion and divide by two, you get an average listing price in the Puget Sound area of just over $28 million.

    I'm sure you get my point.

  59. They, Turkey and Egypt both, are still right with US, Doug.

    Now, where you think that puts US, another matter entirely.

    But make no mistake, the US has supplied Turkey with nuclear warheads and Egypt, $4 billion a year in product subsidies for as long as memory serves now, more guns than butter.

    There are 90 thermonuclear B61 bunker buster bombs at the Incirlik air base, deep in the heart of Turkey.

    That, in and of itself, tells the tale of where our alliance lies.

  60. Keep in mind that that 2006 number was, almost entirely, Oil; whereas today's number contains over One Million Barrels of Biofuels (ethanol + biodiesel.)

    So, we're really looking at

    21,434,000 - 17,600,000

    or, a difference in oil usage of

    3,834,000 barrels of oil/day, more or less.

  61. Yes, I understand that, Ms T.

    The median King County house sales price was $345,000, unchanged from May but down 9.9 percent from June 2010. Seattle's median was $382,500, down 0.6 percent from May and 6.7 percent from a year ago.

    Read more: http://www.seattlepi.com/mount-rainier/article/Seattle-area-s-housing-market-heats-up-1455067.php#ixzz1cZrMBkqx

    $500,000 buys into the top portion of the market, in Seattle.

    Not so in New York.

    I'm sure you can see the difference.
    Housing is three times the money, New York compared to Seattle.

    If those protesters were local New Yorkers, their $500,00 residences, well, they're low end.

  62. Real Estate values in NY City...

    That tells the real 1% tale ...

    ... far better.

  63. No surprise, then, that "Median Disposable Family Income" has been in steady decline since, approx, 2007.


  64. Today on Wall Street, the New York City chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War and dozens of other uniformed veterans known as "Veterans of the 99%" began massing at 11:15 a.m. near Wall Street, where Occupy began Sept. 17. They marched through the financial district to the Occupy Wall Street encampment about a half mile away.

    Several wearing their service uniforms, paused outside the New York Stock Exchange, chanting; "We are veterans. We are the 99%," and "corporate profits on the rise/soldiers have to bleed and die.

  65. Turkey is still a member of Nato and covered under the US nuclear umbrella. It is a diplomatic catastrophe for Israel is the do not mend that relationship. The US could help by encouraging free tax and trade zones east of the Suez Canal. Let Egypt provide the security and rail transport to new industrial parks open to all as long as they have the cash to invest.

  66. GDP is becoming a meaningless statistic. When they show GDP "Rising" for 8 straight quarters, and, at the same time,

    statistics show that the Median family, during the same period, was getting "Poorer, and Poorer. . . . . "



  67. The Turks still have 90 US warheads, at a Turkish Air Force base, Deuce.

    There 110 US troops there, assigned to secure them.

    If Turkey was an enemy of the US, how long could those 110 soldiers hold out, one wonders.

    The remaining 180 bombs are earmarked for delivery by the air forces of five NATO countries, including Belgian, Dutch, and Turkish F-16s and German and Italian PA-200 Tornado aircraft (up to two weapons each).
    Control of the nuclear weapons at national air bases is performed by the U.S. Munitions Support Squadron (MUNSS) at each base (see Table 3). Each MUNSS includes
    approximately 110 personnel that are responsible for the physical security of the weapons, maintenance and logistics of the weapons and the Weapons Storage and Security System (WS3), and handing over the nuclear bombs to the national air forces if ordered to do so by the U.S. National Command Authority.

  68. Wondering about those 110 troops protecting those 90 warheads, there had to more, no?

    Incirlik AB is home to 1,650 military members who have 1,230 dependents. DoD and other civilians combine for a strength of 1,970, for a total population of 4,850.

  69. ... for a total population of 4,850

    Forward deployed warriors and their dependents ...

    ... or ...



  70. 1,650 military members who have 1,230 dependents

    The Incirlik American High School and the Elementary School are Department of Defense schools located on base. There are no public schools off base. ... The elementary school grades are preschool through grade six. Preschool is included under the Sure Start Program. ...

    IUS offers classes from Pre-K - 12th grade. All major subject area are covered to include honors and AP classes, English as a Second Language, Gifted Education, Health Education, Physical Education, Music, etc.

    There are approximately 175 students enrolled in the high school and approximately 350 students in the elementary school. High school classes are small with the senior class graduating 20-25 students yearly. Both the elementary and high school are accredited by NCA.

  71. DR,

    With respect, Turkey does NOT own the nuclear weapons, if any, sheltered within its borders. Moreover, assuming that this administration was foolish enough to leave nuclear weapons within reach of such a shaky ally, the Turks have no means of delivering them to target. And if the Turks attempted to seize such weapons, if any, the weapons would almost instantly be rendered useless, if not potentially fatal.

  72. Re: Israeli tactics

    While Mr. Lincoln was severly criticized for General Sherman's Southern misadventures, Mr. Lincoln knew there was more than one route to Richmond. You will find the same true with Iran.

  73. This comment has been removed by the author.

  74. "Owns"?

    "Possession is 9/10ths of the Law."

    As they say.

    There are 90 warheads, in a US bunker, on a Turkish airbase.

    There are approx. 350 juvenile US dependents, there at the base.

    Three times the number of US personnel assigned to guard the warheads.

    Who "owns" the Incirlik facility?
    Not the United States, of that I'm sure.

  75. I imagine there's a little deal there about "fuses," and "codes," and "certain other safeguards."

    I wouldn't lose much sleep over it.

  76. Well, rufus, they will not be targeting US, if they were to appropriate a few of them.

    They, like the nuclear munitions we trained on, are designed to go off.

    In combat operations.
    The Turks have engineers capable of cracking the NATO codes they'd likely encounter.

    I lose no sleep over it, because they are NATO allies.
    Brothers in blood, since the Korean War.

  77. All the components needed to light those warheads up, they are right there, at Incirlik.

    That's just a fact.

    They are gravity bombs, not remote controlled cruise weapons.

    Designed to be loaded on Turkish F-16s.

  78. I certainly do not believe that Turkey is "lost".

    Not to US, any way.

  79. There are a number of reasons why there has been so little growth in supply. First, and most importantly, global supply is struggling to grow because we are not finding and bringing into production any new "super giant" oilfields. This reality was well documented by the EIA in a study it published in 2008.

    The EIA study revealed that the largest 1% of oilfields (798 total fields) in the world account for over 50% of global production. Remarkably, in this group, there are 20 super giant fields which account for roughly 25% of global production. All of these super giant fields were discovered decades ago.

    What has been discovered and brought into production in the past few decades are smaller fields, which normally have higher decline rates. As these new smaller fields replace production from larger fields, and older larger fields age, we can expect the global observed decline rate to increase from the current estimated rate of 6.7% (or 4.7 million barrels per day annually).

    . . . .  
    Despite $120 per barrel Brent pricing during Q2 2011, the results of more than 20 major oil companies showed a 1 million barrels per day year-over-year decline. The sample group in the report accounted for over 1/3 of global production
    , so it would be difficult to expect smaller companies to make up their shortfall.

    Wha's Happenin'

  80. According to the EIA statistics in the above link, the world added approx 18,000,000 barrels of liquids/day between 1993 and 2005.

    Once you remove the Two Million bbl/day of biofuels produced globally over the last 5 years, There Has Been NO Increase in Production Since 2005.

    That, Kiddos, is what I consider "Peak" Oil.

  81. From the above link:

    Given that increasing global supply will continue to be a challenge, individual nations will soon be forced to compete outright for oil. Emerging market economies are currently out-growing Western economies not just because of urban population growth but also because employment is naturally shifting to jurisdictions with lower labour costs. As this globalization path continues, we can expect job growth to be higher in countries where the citizenry are willing to work harder for less. This roughly characterizes the emerging market countries which for the most part are also large exporters of goods and services, run significant trade surpluses and have strengthening currencies. These factors are combining to put the emerging markets "in the driver’s seat" and enable them to continue to increase their per capita and total oil consumption. Conversely, higher wage Western nations are fighting rising unemployment, trade deficits, weakening currencies and, consequently, are being forced to reduce their oil consumption. Simply put, the emerging markets are outworking developed economies for a greater slice of global commodity production and the tight oil market is a key battleground.

    These developments are best illustrated in Figure 7 which contrasts the United States’ oil consumption decline of more than 2 million barrels per day with China’s 1.4 million barrels per day increase. We would argue that we are in the very early stages of this trend as the per capital consumption of the United States is still nearly 10 times that of China, hence the requirement for two axes on the chart.

  82. From the link:

    Regardless, it now appears that even if, politically speaking, the status quo is maintained, the majority of the Middle East exporting nations are now producing at or near capacity while domestic consumption is increasing. Their economies and populations are continuing to grow and mature and, as a result, their exporting capacity will in turn be limited and possibly begin to terminally decline.

    (Actually, this has already begun.)

  83. .

    The Fed finally gets around to predicting the "new normal" that was predicted here two years ago.

    Fed downgrades growth forecasts, sees high unemployment for years ahead

    The Federal Reserve sharply downgraded its projections for the U.S. economy Wednesday, warning that weak growth and high unemployment will be the norm for years.

    The Fed expects that the unemployment rate will be around 8.6 percent at the end of next year, down only slightly from 9.1 percent today, and will still be between 6.8 percent and 7.7 percent in late 2014. In their June forecast, Fed officials said joblessness would come down faster, to around 8 percent by the end of 2012, when the next presidential election will take place...

    Seven Percent Unemployment For as Far as the Eye Can See


  84. .

    Here’s new data from Pew showing the age disparity. Last quarter, a whopping 43 percent of unemployed workers older than 55 were out of work for a year or longer—up from about 37 percent a year ago. It’s just one of the ways in which older Americans are faring the worst in the recession...

    And what is Congress' solution to unemployment and the jobs crisis, hey, "Trust in God".

    No wonder their latest approval rating is 9%. My question is who are these 9%? Their kids? The lobbyists on K Street?


  85. DR: $500,000 won't buy a closet.

    I see you did not get the point I was making. I'll try again.

    99 people have $100,000 dollar homes

    1 person has a $10.1 million dollar home.

    The median price for homes in that neighborhood, therefore, is $200,000.

    The price function from hovels to mansions is not a straight line, it's a hockey stick.

  86. Rufus: Once you remove the Two Million bbl/day of biofuels produced globally over the last 5 years, There Has Been NO Increase in Production Since 2005.

    Remind me one of these days to relate to you the legend of the phoenix.

    U.S. oil production in areas including West Texas' Permian Basin, South Texas' Eagle Ford shale, and North Dakota's Bakken shale will record a rise of a little over 2 million barrels per day from 2010 to 2016, according to data compiled by Bentek Energy, a Colorado firm that tracks energy infrastructure and production projects.

    Canadian crude production is expected to grow by 971,000 barrels per day during the same period, with much of the oil headed for the U.S.

    Combined, the U.S. and Canadian oil output will top 11.5 million barrels per day, which is even more than their combined peak in 1972.

    Goldman Sachs has estimated the U.S. could move from being the No. 3 oil producer behind Saudi Arabia and Russia to the No. 1 spot by 2017.

  87. .

    Can anyone read this and with a straight face tell me the inmates aren't running the asylum?

    'In God We Trust’: House reaffirms national motto — yet again


  88. desert rat said... All the components needed to light those warheads up, they are right there, at Incirlik.

    There would have been missiles there too, but there was a little dust-up over the ones in Cuba, 1962.

  89. In God we trust. Congressmen must pay cash.

  90. DR said...
    That's just a fact.

    As the late, great Trish would have said, "Aaaaaaaahhhh...NO".

  91. Let me put it to you this way: There's not a Shale well producing, Today, that will be producing much more than 10 barrels of oil/day in 2016.

    Those things decline like crazy.

    They couldn't build rigs quick enough to be getting an extra 2 Million bbl/day from those plays by 2016.

    With all the Bakken hype, and all the busy, busy noise, Bakken Production has increased 100,000 bbl/day in the last year.

    Most experts believe it will top out at around 700,000 bbl/day (it's doing 450,000 bbl/day, now.

    Eagleford, IIRC, is doing about 100,000 bbl/day.

    This has all been done before. Google "Austin Chalk"

  92. Ya gotta figure any study that refers to "super giant oil fields" is really really scientific.

  93. Well, Ash, that's what the people in the industry call them.

  94. How does one delineate between a "super oilfield" a "giant oilfield" a "super giant oilfield" and a "super duper gigantic oilfield"????

  95. Don't worry Ash. We'll be buying, or attempting to buy, oil from your oilsands for another 100 years, at least.

  96. I should have said "bitumen" from your oilsands.

    But, we'll be in the market - as will China, India, Korea, Indonesia, and virtually every other country on the planet.

  97. I dunno Rufus, it's pretty darn dirty but the Chinese seem to not mind.

  98. “French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel say Greece will receive no more European bailout aid until it fulfills its commitments to the eurozone.”

    That’s like giving a $700,000 home loan to a lettuce-picker who makes $14,000 a year, and telling him he has to make his mortgage payments first and groceries come out of what’s left over. The poor guy will probably go, “Nah, here’s the keys, I’m going to go live in this trailer over here.”

    The Dutch Prime Minister earlier expressed the hope that the question would not have to be put to Greek voters in the first place, saving everyone the possibility of embarrassment. . .

    Ironic. Greece is the cradle of democracy.

    Papandreou dismissed his chief of national defense, the Greek Army general staff chief, the heads of the Air Force and the Navy, along with twelve other senior officers, fueling rumors in Greece of an impending coup, These fears are founded on an understanding that the austerity demanded by Europe cannot be imposed by democratic means.

    I wonder how the Occupy Wall Streeters who support Obama will react when Obama recognizes the military junta on day 2 of the coup because the bankers and hedge fund managers who fund his campaign are safe.

    “The Balkans produce more history than they can consume” – Winston Churchill

  99. It'll be hitting the Gulf, or the Pacific within two years; you can make book on it.

  100. Ferguson is not taken too seriously in the UK, which is why he went to the US. Too much diversity can backfire without a core of intellectual self-confidence. If those immigrants have their own ideas about that society should be run (and why on earth should they not? Sharia law in the London, perhaps), then the locals gets nervous. I think that overall that's a valid point IF you are a local with some attachment to tradition.

  101. Ferguson is not taken too seriously in the UK, which is why he went to the US. Too much diversity can backfire without a core of intellectual self-confidence. If those immigrants have their own ideas about that society should be run (and why on earth should they not? Sharia law in the London, perhaps), then the locals gets nervous. I think that overall that's a valid point IF you are a local with some attachment to tradition.

  102. Sorry for the echo…. Sorry for the echo…Sorry for the ec...

  103. Z…Too much diversity can backfire without a core of intellectual self-confidence. If those immigrants have their own ideas about that society should be run (and why on earth should they not? Sharia law in the London, perhaps)...,

    My personal experience with immigrants is that they recognize economic and social traditions as part of a single package, and don't attempt to separate them. The Sharia Law example you cite has an uphill battle against an open society for this reason; I imagine it only gains traction among a people that are ghettoized.

    Which is exactly your point?

  104. Quirk said...

    "Nancy Pelosi to Boeing: Shut Down SC Plant"


    Geeze, the guy sees only in black and white.
    As if there IS a difference between right and left.

    What a fool...

  105. Been selling panels with inverter included for quite a few years here, Rufus.

    Having the battery included might be fine for stand-alone use, but I wouldn't want to have a bunch of them on my roof.

    Too much chance for damage/fire/explosion.

  106. .

    Geeze, the guy sees only in black and white.
    As if there IS a difference between right and left.

    Doug, you continue to amaze. You just don't get it. But I'll keep trying to bring you to the light.

    Something doesn't need to be "right" or "left" to be wrong, it just usually is. Or perhaps you missed that post I put up on the nitwits in the GOP pushing the "In God We Trust" resolution.

    Maybe you also didn't read the story that went along with the Pelosi video. It showed the majority of union people (one of your other bugaboos as I recall) who were polled sided with Boeing on the SC plant issue.

    Repeat after me. They are "all" dicks.

    It will eventually sink in.


  107. All Dicks are not created equal, and that worthless assertion just ate my priceless post.

  108. redo of priceless post:

    Deuce said...

    "Let Egypt provide the security and rail transport to new industrial parks open to all as long as they have the cash to invest"


    A Muslim Brohood, Sharia ruled state is going to provide "Security" ?

  109. 40 some percent of "Union People" vote Republican.

    They are not the problem.

    UNIONS and their corrupt leaders in concert with the corrupt Dems are the problem

  110. "Or perhaps you missed that post I put up on the nitwits in the GOP pushing the "In God We Trust" resolution."

    That is proof of universal equality in your prepubescent "mind."

  111. .

    That is proof of universal equality in your prepubescent "mind."

    Doug how many months (years?) have I been giving examples of the 'dickdom' of both GOP and Dems. Perhaps it is merely a physical impediment, a straining mechanism in your brain that filters out the 'dickness' of the right,


    All Dicks are not created equal,

    Perhaps you just have penis envy.

    Either way, you should probably talk to someone about it.



  112. I'll be danged; I didn't know that Doug. I only started seeing articles about microinverters a couple of months ago, and they all made it sound like "the hot New thing."

  113. The Saudis have little problem guarding their economic assets and the Egyptians didn't either. Mubarak simply got too greedy. With Egyptian manpower and wealth , along with israeli capital and technology, huge industrial parks would provide wealth and jobs and do more to solve security problems for both Israel and Egypt. That is in their shared national interest.

  114. Israel pushing for industrial settlements would be interesting. I am sure you will all agree.

  115. Do not be so sanguine about the dangers facing Israel. Industrial parks would be nice and Israel should have normal relations with Turkey and Egypt, but that is irrelevant in dealing with Iran. Does Israel wait until an Iranian nuclear missile strikes Tel Aviv before making a move?
    They must know what their options are, and they don't have many.
    My bet is they will strike Iran within 6 months. They have proved they have the nerve and capability twice before.
    I'm not an Israeli, or Jewish, but I think if I was in their situation I would rather be proactive than reactive.
    They will never make friends with their neighbors, but they do have a right to live in peace.

  116. Britain's armed forces are stepping up their contingency planning for potential military action against Iran amid mounting concern about Tehran's nuclear enrichment programme, the Guardian has learned.

    The Ministry of Defence believes the US may decide to fast-forward plans for targeted missile strikes at some key Iranian facilities. British officials say that if Washington presses ahead it will seek, and receive, UK military help for any mission, despite some deep reservations within the coalition government.

    In anticipation of a potential attack, British military planners are examining where best to deploy Royal Navy ships and submarines equipped with Tomahawk cruise missiles over the coming months as part of what would be an air and sea campaign.

    They also believe the US would ask permission to launch attacks from Diego Garcia, the British Indian ocean territory, which the Americans have used previously for conflicts in the Middle East.

  117. .

    In anticipation of a potential attack, British military planners are examining where best to deploy Royal Navy ships and submarines equipped with Tomahawk cruise missiles over the coming months as part of what would be an air and sea campaign.

    Hell, that's a surprise. I didn't think Britain had a navy anymore.


  118. They got 3 more Tomahawks left after the grueling Libya Campaign.

  119. I read really much effective material above!