It’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.
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.)
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:
- 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.
- 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.