“I’m Glad I Won’t Live to See It”

dontseeIt’s a little scary how often I’ve been hearing one comment recently, of which the following is typical. It appeared on a financial web site about a month ago:

This is all going down to hell, and we are all to blame for it. I am glad that I am old. It started maybe 10-15 years ago. Before that, pensioners would tell me they would love to be 20 years younger. Now they all say they are glad that they aren’t any younger and will soon be off this rock.

I have a highly informed friend that reminds me of precisely the same thing every time I see him.

It’s Not Just Pessimism

A certain number of people are naturally pessimistic, and some of those people might be expected to make such statements. And I’m sure that some do. But that doesn’t look to me like what is happening here.

First of all, the one common characteristic that I see among people making these statements is that they are well informed.

Second, a good portion of them are basically optimistic people, quite willing to concede that what follows the bad passage may be very good. Their concern is simply that the bad period will last too long to live through, so they’d rather check out before going through it.

Personally, I don’t think the bad period will be quite that bad or last long, but only time will tell.

The Numbers

Right now, the United States government is in the hole something like 200 Trillion dollars. That number includes commitments that are owed in future years, but unless the system breaks, that’s really what they owe. Businesses have to account for their debts that way.

The total annual earnings of US residents is about 13 Trillion dollars. That’s only 6.5% of what is owed.

So, here’s what this debt load would look like when transferred to the scale of a typical American family:

  • You make $50 thousand per year.
  • You owe $769 thousand. (Plus interest, of course.)

Good luck paying that off, especially because that $769K is laid on top of your mortgage, auto loans, student loans, and credit card balances.

These are the kinds of numbers that the “I’m glad I won’t see it” guys understand. The debts simply cannot be paid, and what happens when the system breaks could be very, very ugly.

And, of course, the problems are not just financial. The entire ruling class of the world is out of control, massively arrogant and certain to flip out at some point.

People who say such things fit into two camps:

  1. Those who are older and who understand that the breakdown process will last longer than they will. They’ll be glad to die before it gets really bad.
  2. Those who expect to live long enough to make it through the collapse and into whatever comes after.

A huge number of folks are oblivious, of course, and fit into neither of these groups. They’re the ones who will get run over by all of this… just as they do every time.

It’s my opinion that the sharper and deeper the crash, the sooner it will be purged, and the sooner we move through the welfare riots, shortages, and martial law phase. If the system breaks, productive people will get a glorious fresh start. If the system merely declines, it will drag the entire culture in the direction of North Korea.

But, again, we shall see.

Jefferson Saw It Too

As it turns out, my hero Thomas Jefferson was an early “hope I don’t live to see it” guy. But what he was concerned about wasn’t a currency collapse but the destruction of self-government via a civil war. (There are always smart guys who see it coming, though they are seldom listened to.)

Here’s a passage from a letter Jefferson wrote to a friend in 1820, when he was quite old:

I regret that I am now to die in the belief, that the useless sacrifice of themselves by the generation of 1776, to acquire self-government and happiness to their country, is to be thrown away by the unwise and unworthy passions of their sons, and that my only consolation is to be, that I live not to weep over it.

And Jefferson was right: Four decades later millions of Americans were convinced to grab weapons, march in lines, and butcher each other.

The end result of the American Civil War, aside from wholesale death and mutilation, was that the states lost nearly all of their power to Washington, DC. After that point, any claim of self-government was purely promotional fluff. If the states – who had created the union – couldn’t maintain their rights, how would any individual stand against the Beast on the Potomac?

The Civil War (and Lincoln in particular) killed the America of Jefferson, Adams, Henry and Payne.

I’m glad the destruction didn’t happen during Jefferson’s lifetime. He didn’t deserve that pain… and neither do the better old folks of our time.

I am convinced, however, of this: The more that productive people understand what’s happening, the faster the fall and reset will be.

Start talking to your friends and neighbors. Add deeds to your words. Don’t stop.

Paul Rosenberg

9 thoughts on ““I’m Glad I Won’t Live to See It””

  1. Thank you Paul, good post, thought-provoking as usual. So, Jefferson is your hero? I’ve often been inclined to agree, but a recent STRticle (http://www.strike-the-root.com/rights) provoked in my mind the following question: Given all that followed Jefferson’s Declaration, his revolution growing (inevitably?) into the most powerful group of sociopathic rulers in history, is he truly a hero of lovers of liberty as he is so often portrayed, or is he more correctly seen as simply the most deceptively devious in a long
    line of devils, convincing more people than ever before to falsely believe they are free? I’m interested to hear any thoughts on this that you care to share.

    1. I would be inclinded to agree also, but I know only a bit about the federalization process of the 13 states so do not hold a negative opinion regarding Jefferson. The way the federal system has evolved may be somewhat unique. There are a number of empires that did the same; the Roman empire is a good example. However, how many potential empires did not grow to be complex and inhumane systems? We never hear of those. Maybe we should as they may be examples of how people can live without central collectivism.

  2. I’m trying to figure out your calcs. The ratio of 200 trillion to 13 trillion is about 15.38, which matches the ratio between 50 thousand dollars and 769 thousand dollars. But the ratio between 13 trillion and 50 thousand (or 200 trillion and 769 thousand) is about 260 million. Is that the figure you’re using for the number of typical American families? If the total population of the U.S. is 320 million, that would come to only 1.23 persons per family, which seems low by at least a factor of 2.

    I’m bringing this up not JUST to be a mathematical cop, but to make the point that things are even WORSE for a typical family than you’ve posited. They owe closer to 1.5 million dollars, if my calcs are correct. Each man, woman, and child owes about $625,000.00 ($200 trillion / 320 million).

    1. Several weeks ago, you posted some comments on a Bleeding Heart Libertarians thread. I thought you got the better of Sean II and I told him so.
      Have you ever posted at Reason’s Hit & Run blog?

  3. Paul: Your comments on “Glad I won’t Live” are right-on. I am 87 years of age and I look forward to the continuing entertaining pagent. We indeed live in interesting times and I anticipate a blow-up (implosion) of the current federal system before the so called federal election of 2016.
    Sure, we’ll survive (at least those out of metro areas will). There have been many such break-downs thoughout history, but things go on and people still live and love. So I am watching from a rural community and expect to see free states develop shortly.

  4. Speaking
    of LIVING to see something, Americans often say, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” To the contrary, we cannot see a thing until we believe it. Americans do not believe the almighty dollar is fallible. They do not believe that any force in the world is powerful enough to disrupt our lives of comfort.

    Even after having been informed, most will continue in this belief / disbelief blindness past the brink of calamity, then wonder, “What hit us?”

    ALSO . . . good posts above, and very good essay as usual.

  5. Another good post, Paul. I’ve been seeing this comment in one form or another on plenty of sites for a year or so now. I don’t fit into this category. Like some of the others commenting on your post, I CAN’T WAIT until the SHTF! Those oblivious people you mention in your post are the ones that I want to watch when it happens. With all the warnings and obvious signs and portents that are out there, we should have not the slightest ounce of pity for the morons and sheep when the hammer falls.
    Call me unfeeling, but, let it burn!

  6. Being in my mid-eighties, I could reasonably say the same, but rather I am looking forward to the fall and reset. It will be invigorating for most productive people everywhere.
    However, I must agree that i am just as happy that I won’t live to see the sun go “nova” and burn the earth (and other planets) to a crisp.

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